Wisdom from a guy with a weird name …

In this chapter there is a shift from the wisdom of Solomon to the sayings of Agur. Most likely, Agur — what mother names her son “Agur?” —  was a student or understudy of Solomon.

 

Here are some things we learn about him in chapter 30:

  • We see that he is humble: verses 1-4
  • We see that he had a keen understanding of God and His creation: 5-6
  • We see that he hates arrogance: 7-9

 

In my mind, the best way for this chapter to be get-a-hold-able is to provide an outline for your reading of it.

 

God’s Word and His People: Verses 5-14

  • The purity and surety of God’s Word: Verse 5
  • The perfection of God’s Word: Verse 6
  • The prayer of the godly — seeking humility and contentment: Verses 7-9
  • Ungodly times are described: Verses 11-14

Verses 11-14 seem to describe our society nowadays. The truth is that it describes all societies throughout time that ignore God and His Word.

 

Learning from God’s Creation: 15-31

  • The wonder of how creation works. Verses 18-19

Wonder precedes worship; there can be no worship where wonder isn’t present. Unless we see majesty or beauty or glory, we will not have wonder in our hearts and minds, without it we will not worship anything except ourselves. Let us be people who in humility look beyond ourselves to God expressing His glory through His Word and creation in Christ. Let us be people entranced in the wonder of God and His glory and grace.

  • The wonder of when things are awry. Verses 21-23
  • The wonder of small, wise creatures. Verses 24-28
  • The wonder of majestic things. Verses 29-31
  • A call to humility and righteousness. Verse 32

It might help to provide a definition here. When Proverbs refers to the “righteous,” it does not mean the hyper-religious or those who are perfect. It refers to those who are saved by God’s grace, pursuing Him in His Word, and growing in wisdom and godliness.

Our only true right-ness and righteousness is provided by and found in Jesus.

Tomorrow is the final day of the Proverbs Challenge. Great job in making it this far. Chapter 31 is a fantastic one, especially for the ladies.

As an aside, please check out the Bearded Acorn forum on Facebook. It is a public group. Please join it. Next month I will lead a study through Philippians. We will do one chapter per week, a much slower pace. The Facebook forum will serve as a place for discussion, questions, and to hear your thoughts as we study Philippians together.

Verses that make you feel like a crash test dummy …

 

The post on this chapter will focus on two things: what/who we listen to and what we say/do not say. Steady yourself. The impact of these five verses might cause the airbags might deploy.

 

Verse 1: When we resist instruction and correction we welcome destruction. A stern warning indeed. Shying away from, or deliberately avoiding, instruction might appear to make things easier for now, but without fail it will make things hard later.

 

Verse 5: Flattery deceives, and can destroy, others. For the weak-minded or weak-willed flattery can first snare, then enslave them to the approval others. This is why we must develop our identity from God’s word and in Christ, not allow it to be shaped by our culture or others around us.

Verse 11: Let’s stop and stare at this one for a while. It’s an excellent memory verse that packs a wallop.

“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” Proverbs 29:11

I do not have a clever summary statement for this verse. If I did have one it would take away from its pointed and poignant truth. It says much with few words. This kind of truth is easy to read but hard to live out. Take a moment and think about all the applications from this verse — social media, “venting to others,” speaking without thinking it through, etc. Ouch!

Those who “vent their feelings” often are unwise, by God’s standard, but affirmed and applauded by our culture. To be wise we must exercise discernment and determine what we should and should not say.

 

Verse 18: When God’s teaching is absent, or ignored, people lose restraint, then harm follows.

The New King James Version translates this nicely:

Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.

God’s Word being put aside, or rejected, people casting off restraint … does this sound like a country you know? That country’s name rhymes with Erica …

 

Verse 20: Hasty words erupt from foolish hearts. See “fools with leaky mouths” in verse 11.

 

Verse 25: Seeking the approval of and relying upon others en-shackles; seeking God brings safety and surety.

 

In summary, our ears should bend toward the truth and shut around those who flatter; our tongues should be governed by discernment, and our path should be directed by God’s Word. Simple truths. Difficult truths to live out consistently. Thankfully, God comes to us and empowers us by His Holy Spirit to live them out.

Chew on this …

 

Yesterday’s post was a bit long. Today we will be more brief. Let’s jump in. Or, knowing that the topics include the conscience, confessing sin, and the corruption of our own hearts, maybe we should ease in …

 

Verse 1: A guilty conscience causes one to do odd things; a God-honoring conscience builds boldness.

 

Verse 9: Disobedience disrupts answer to prayer.

 

Verse 13: Un-confessed sin will bird-dog you, and run you up a tree. Why run from it. Confess it, deal with it, God desires to and is eager to forgive you in Christ.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Remember, confessing our sins to God does not improve or restore our relationship with Him, it restores and renews our fellowship with Him. Our relationship with Him is always secure in Christ.

 

Verse 23: We are to seek truth and correction from our friends, even when it hurts. Honest correction builds us up. Flattery deceives and derails. Sound familiar from yesterday?

 

Verse 26: The Bible says that only a fool “trusts” in his own heart! Our culture today prompts us to trust our “heart” or “feelings.” The Bible says, “Heck no! That’s crazy!” Actually, it doesn’t say that. It implies it though. Jeremiah 17:9-10 tells us why we shouldn’t trust our own “hearts.”

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” 

This verse, and other verses, show us that our sinful hearts will deceive us. We have listen to God’s Word, not ourselves.

This chapter isn’t easy to chew, swallow, or digest. But, it is good for us. It has been said that strong teaching makes soft hearts. Very true …

Does this Bible verse make my butt look fat?

Has your spouse, or a friend, ever asked you this question: “Do these pants make my butt look … ?” Now, the correct answer to that question is, “the pants are a neutral party in this situation and innocent of all charges, they cannot make your butt look bigger than it is, or smaller than it is.” At least, that is the logical answer.

What do you say when someone you are close to asks a question that seeks an unvarnished answer? Unless you are both committed — and, you might want this in writing — to being absolutely truthful with each other, you will soon find yourself in a snare. Although the person appears to be after an honest answer, he/she will likely get mad if given one. Let’s peer into Proverbs 27 and see what says about this.

In Proverbs 27 the Bible outlines two things that a true friend does: a true friend wants the truth from you and will share the truth with you, even when it is arduous. This teaching swims upstream against how modern thought portrays what friendship, or a deep relationship, is like. We have been trained to think that we should always be encouraging, supportive, and uplifting to our friends. Those things are mostly true, most of the time.

However, a biblical friendship balances two elements on the fulcrum of God’s Word. Let’s examine those two elements:

 

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” Ephesians 4:15

In this verse we learn that our growth in Christ is dependent upon two conditions: loving one another and speaking/teaching the truth to one another. Full stop here. This is critical. Love alone will not do it; speaking the truth alone won’t either. It demands both. For you and I to grow in Christ others must love us enough to teach us hard things, correct us, and hold us accountable (all functions of the truth).

Loving others and teaching/telling the truth to the might seem like two separate component, but they are not, they are intertwined. Ephesians 4:15 states them in a way that shows them working together. We are to speak/teach the truth lovingly, and love truthfully. We see this demonstrated over and over in the character, work, and teachings of Jesus:

 

“And the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

John exclaims he saw the glory of God manifested in the Son of God. What did that glory look like: full of grace and truth. Both. Both balanced and fused in all that Jesus did and said. With Jesus it was not grace or truth. It was both, all the time.

That is a wordy intro, I know. But, it prepares us for what Proverbs 27 will teach us about the nitty-gritty of true friendship. Here are three verses in this chapter that instruct us on this:

 

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:5-6

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

These verses teach us vital truths about true friendship. They are contrary to today’s ideas of accepting and affirming each other as we are. These verses teach us that at times friendship invovles teeth-clenching and gut-churning actions. These verses teach us that genuine friendship requires pointed honesty, correction, and rebuke. If we do not care for each other enough to do those things then we are avoiding the kind of friendship that the Bible prescribes.

The reason type of friendship is necessary for Christians is because we cannot become more Christ-like through affirmation and encouragement alone. It requires the sort of sharpening described in verse 17. If you have ever sharpened a knife you know that the knife must be pressed against the file, or sharpening stone, for a sharp edge to be formed, then honed. It demands pressure and friction. Healthy friendships require the same, and welcome it.

In summary, for us to grow in Christ and aid others in doing so we must offer and receive honest and loving accountability, correction, and rebuke. The entire process of sharing the truth must be done so in love. These two elements enable us to help one another toward Christ-likeness.

By the way, there are other solid truths to lay hold of in chapter 27. Here are some of them, briefly stated:

  • Verse 1: Remember, we are to walk in humble faith because we are not in control.
  • Verse 2: We all want good things said about us, but let others say them.
  • Verse 4: Some reactions (anger, frustration) fade with time; the embers of jealousy glow redder every day.
  • Verse 19: What we think and plan on the inside is who we actually are. A handsome veneer can only cover an cracked board for so long.
  • Verse 22: You cannot beat wisdom into a fool, or grind it into him over time. So, don’t try to.
  • Verses 23-27: Pay attention, do you work, be content.

As you exit chapter 27 please be sure and pick up one, or all, of the three great memory verses found in it:

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:6

“The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” Proverbs 27:12

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

As you can tell, chapter 27 contains more truths that we can cover in one blog post. Please go back and review the chapter several times. It will be worth your time.

And yes, those pants do make you look … just right, for your size.

Dabbing, Cats Licking, and …

Congratulations! As of today — unless you are trailing behind, which is ok — you have completed 25 chapters of the Book of Proverbs. It is likely that some of you have now read more consecutive days in Proverbs than ever before. That is terrific!

My primary goal for the Proverbs Challenge was to encourage folks to read their Bible each day in a systematic fashion. When you complete the challenge one week from today you can spike the ball in the end zone of Proverbs and do a funky dance. You can give “dabbing” or “flossing” a try. If you attempt to “dab” or “floss” (those are short dance moves performed by young ‘uns nowadays) rest assured that your children, or grandchildren, will video you, show it to their friends at school, and they will all laugh at you to the point of wetting their pants, or ripped jeans, or jeggings, or whatever they wear.

 

Today we will bite off this chapter in two big chunks: dealing with fools and minding your own business.

 

Dealing with Fools:

Verse 4: Arguing with a fool reduces you to his level, and he will beat you with his vast experience in idiocy. Although it is tempting to correct a fool, it won’t work. Proverbs has shown us that fools hate wisdom and correction. You cannot cure them because they love their ailment. So, don’t try. That is hard to accept, but it will save you frustration and trouble.

 

Verse 10: A hot tip for hiring employees: If you hire a fool you will harm your co-workers and yourself. And, your co-workers will eye-roll and sigh when you turn your back. They will do this for weeks, and it’s probably justified.

 

Verse 11: Fools, out of ignorance and on instinct, repeat their mistakes over and over. This verse uses a gross image to sear this truth into our minds. It works. For you feline-inclined folks, it’s too bad there are no images of cats in Proverbs. But, let’s try to remedy that with a few home spun cat-based comparions of our own:

  • A fool among the wise is like a hair ball on your hardwood floor.
  • A fool’s words sound like paws raking in a litter box.
  • A fool’s ramblings resemble Mr. Whiskers hacking up a hair ball.
  • A fool repeats his folly just as a cat continually licks his ….
  • Seriously, from this verse I often tell our daughters that wise people make mistakes, but, only fools repeat them!

 

Verse 12: Fools have more hope than the arrogant. Yikes! Why is that? A fool can recognize his/her limits, while an arrogant person believes he/she has none. A fool is often lazy, thus will affect a limited few; an arrogant person often wreaks havoc on many. From your experience you can likely come up with other reasons for this as well.

 

 

Minding your own Business:

Verse 17: When you meddle in the affairs of others, you often walk away with bite marks. To get involved in the goings-on of others is enticing, but it will not end well. There are many applications for this verse regarding social media usage. I encourage you to take a moment and come up with some for yourself.

 

Verse 20: In the absence of gossip there is an abundance of peace.

 

Verse 21: Strife is sparked, and continually fueled, by the contentious.

 

There you have it: two important topics for life and work, and some proverbs about cats. Truth flavored with wry wit … Bearded Acorn style!

Now, go “dab” or “floss,” you have earned it. I can’t wait to see the videos of it online.

A Laundry List of Life Lessons …

This chapter contains many solid, practical lessons. They are tricky to tie together. So, let’s take them as they are:

 

Verses 6-7: Pride humiliates, but humility exalts. This lesson appears throughout the Bible. It is both implied and explained from cover to cover.

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” – James 4:6

That portion of James 4:6 is repeated in two other places in the Bible. Rarely does a verse, or a portion of one, appear in three separate books of the Bible. This uncommon occurrence is a lesson in itself.

 

Verse 9: Face-to-face resolution that is respectful and confidential is most always best, and usually brings resolution.

 

Verse 10: Sharing your side of the story often brings shame. Sometimes it is best to just say nothing at all.

 

Verse 12: When wise correction/instruction finds an open and obedient ear, it is a thing of beauty and rarity.

 

Verse 14: Words without action are empty clouds and wind. Each of us knows a person who has a surplus of words and poverty of action.

 

Verse 15: Be patient, and be kind in order to make your point. Knowing when to move and when to wait is a great lesson for work.

 

Verse 17: Less is better; or, do not out stay your neighbor’s affection or attention. You want your neighbor to say, “why are you leaving so soon,” instead of ….

 

Verse 18: Lying about others is harmful in many ways, all bad. When one lies about another it hurts in different kinds of ways, all deep. Often unrepairable.

 

Verse 21-22: Be kind to the unkind. This one is tough to do, but God will honor your Christ-likeness and judge their ungodliness. We are not qualified to judge, only to serve. God doesn’t want us to serve as a Supreme Court, he wants us to be a community of servants.

 

Verse 28: Those who lack internal discipline live unprotected, and harm will arrive.

No fancy narrative today. Just good solid, uncooked truths, loaded with spiritual fiber and nutrients.

Blueprints for a blessed life …

This chapter renders the architecture of a reliable life. As you read this chapter the blueprint unrolls and reveals that:

  • Verses 3-4: Wisdom plans, then builds; discernment maintains; and knowledge adorns the inner life of the soul. While the word portrait implies the building of a home, it also provides instruction and direction for building a life.

 

  • Verses 5-6: True strength is internal, it is powered by wisdom and honed on godly guidance. 

 

Memory verse alert: “for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.: Proverbs 24:6 

The last half of that verse is one to hold on to, especially if you are in the process of making life-effecting decisions.

 

  • Verse 10 – When we walk by faith in Christ we can stand firm, and grow stronger. When we walk by what we see, or trusting in ourselves, we shiver and shudder. Rightly so! When we move forward by faith our feet and nerves steady and stabilize.

 

  • Verse 27: Plan, work, save, and build. This is great financial and economic advice. Our culture teaches us to want, get, want more, and get more. That approach comes at more than a financial cost.

 

A  Wise Warning: Do not become slack in your stewardship!

Verses 30-34: The lazy lack and procrastinators are poor due to not planning, working, or caring. The are bad stewards of the gifts — abilities, opportunities, resources — that God has given them. When we become stagnant, ruin sneaks up on us.

 

We have seen four principles to apply and one warning to heed. They help us to build wisely, and eternally.

Principles gettin’ up in your personal space …

 

This chapter gets personal, quickly. It features topics that stride up to you and stand too close for comfort. We will look at three topics stated as warnings and one presented as an endeavor.

Three Warnings:

  • Warning against greed: verses 4-5

Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven. Proverbs 23:4-5

The word for “toil” in verse four can also be translated “over-work.” It has the idea of exhausting oneself in effort. Solomon, a remarkably wealthy king, advises against working too hard or too many hours for the sake of piling up money or gaining wealth. That’s a slap to the forehead. Even though he didn’t know it then, he is warning against the American dream of  “work hard to get more.”

Verse five tells us why we should not toil for money or riches: it all goes away eventually. Yep, there you have it in clear and vivid pictures. You long for it, you see it, it is within your reach, then it sprouts wings, and flies away. Unlike quail which fly a few feet, then land, and offer you a chance to chase them again. Wealth flies away fast, up high, and never returns. This is a stern truth to save us from hardship. Let’s add a few more verses to bolster this point.

“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 5:10

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:10

Notice that Paul does not say that money is the root of all kinds of evils. He says that the “love of money” is.

Not much left to say after reading those verses; on with the other two warnings.

 

  • Warning against envying the success of others: verse 17

We are instructed to not envy the ungodly, their success, riches, position, or possessions. Why? See the first warning. And, envy is a trait of the selfish (aka fools).

  • Warning about over-indulgence: verses 29-35

Big drinkers can become big complainers who harm themselves, and others, in big ways. Be wise. Be careful.

 

A endeavor worth pursuing:

  • What to chase after: verse 23

If we are to pursue something, we are to work toward wisdom and truth. The greatest treasure is one that lasts, and grows, and helps others as well. That treasure is the wisdom of God in Christ.

Peeking around the corner and looking to the past …

We begin this chapter with a memory verse:

The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. – Proverbs 22:3

This verse is stuffed full of truth, and has solid handles to hoist it up and take it along with you each day. It teaches us that through godly wisdom we can anticipate what is coming, and practice a discerning discipline to avoid trouble. Combining this with other elements we have learned along the way, if flatterers, gossips, and trouble-generators are involved, stop, turn around, and head in a different direction. Quickly.

Speed round, go …

  • Verse 4 – The world loathes things that God loves, and vice versa. 1 John 2:15-17 illustrates this further:

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life-is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

  • Verse 6 – God’s principles are always true, God’s promises always arrive; we must not confuse a principle with a promise.  This verse is not a promise though many latch onto it as one; it is a principle. We must not hang our hope on a non-promise, but we obey it as a principle knowing that it leads to good, not a guarantee.
  • Verse 10 – Separate yourself from scoffers and your life will develop a newfound peace and quiet.
  • Verse 13 – The lazy create imaginative excuses to not head out the door to work.

Note: In verses 17-21 the tone shifts from short snippets of instruction to dialogue. Note that the commands, “incline your ear, hear the words, apply your heart,” etc.

  • Verses 24-25 – Your friends’ character will shape yours, choose your friends wisely.
  • Verse 28 – New ways rarely generate spiritual good. Don’t drastically Change something that has stood the test of time.

“Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.” – Jeremiah 6:16

Now that verse is one that deserves to be read, re-read, memorized, and mediated on. How many “ancient paths” and “good ways” have been forsaken for that which is modern or fashionable. And we wonder why our society is like it is …

Nags, Nit-pickers, and Next Month …

For the sake of all involved, I will tread lightly in this chapter. Why? Because there are two verses that paint vivid word pictures about fussy wives. Ladies, breathe deeply and relax, while this chapter points out a pattern for you to avoid, I will point out some for the men as well. I would be stupid not too.

Yesterday’s post was long. I promised a concise one today. So, let’s get to it.

 

Here are some main points from Proverbs 21:

  • Verse 5 – Wise plans carefully crafted and followed lead to plenty; sudden designs and endeavors rarely work out. As described in Proverbs, planning is more than developing a blueprint for your future, it requires prayerful planning that will walk in step with God’s Word. A well thought out brothel might make you some money, but it doesn’t met the criteria for what God desires for your vocation.
  • Verses 9 and 19 – It’s better to sleep in the attack or hide in the woods than to live with a nag or nit-picker. Settle down ladies, settle down. The only reason for offense here is if you actually are one who nags or nit-picks. Feel free to ask your husband if he thinks that you nag or nit-pick. After your “discussion,” please post comments here on the blog to let us all know how it went. Seriously, there is a principle here to embrace, not to clench your fists at. In Proverbs God often warns women about their words and attitude. This is not to be tough on you ladies. It is His way of promoting inner beauty and quietude; this will be displayed in a lovely fashion in Proverbs 31. Now, to be fair, in Proverbs God warns young men against chasing earthly pleasures, and all men about the ugliness of arrogance. The warnings that God gives in general, as well as those specific to men or women, are meant for us to gain wisdom and to grow more Christ-like in character. In short, wisdom should winsome in its ways, for men and women.
  • Verse 17 – Pleasures often bloom into vices; vices bear bushels of ruin. We can honor God with simple things in life, or cheapen them by overusing them. Verse 20 points out that fools squander simple things by indulging in them.
  • Verse 19 – The reason men like to go deer hunting or camping.
  • Verse 26b – Being generous honors God and helps others. 

 

Full stop, here is an amazing memory verse:

“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23

That one hits me right in the snout, every time. Ladies, notice that it says, “his mouth,” and “his tongue.” Just pointing that out … the Bearded Acorn strives for equity in all things.

 

As an aside, several of you have asked what will happen once we finish Proverbs in January. For February, the ole Bearded Acorn is considering walking through a short book of the New Testament. Perhaps, James, Philippians, or Colossians. We could only cover a chapter per week. I could post three times each week to outline, unpack, and make application points from that chapter. What are you thoughts? Any requests (requests subject to approval, offer void where prohibited, Virginia residents must pay sales tax). Please share your thoughts or requests by using the “Comment” button below.

Congratulations! You have now read and studied two-thirds of the way through Proverbs. Good job …

Ladies, the guys have it coming in later chapters. Be patient …