Resources from 2014

January

Proverbs 21:8

The way of the guilty is crooked,
but the conduct of the pure is upright.

What is within us will come out in our behavior. The guilty's way will be crooked; the conduct of the pure will show in their very demeanor - standing upright with a clear conscience. The guilty must lurk about, hiding in the shadows, checking their backs, slipping across from side to side of…

Proverbs 21:9

It is better to live in a corner of the housetop
than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.

Husbands, of course, can also be quarrelsome, but since this proverb speaks specifically of the wife; let's consider her case. Someone has made the wry comment: "A man marries a woman and is surprised to find that she changes. A woman marries a man and is surprised that…

Proverbs 21:10

The soul of the wicked desires evil;
his neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes.

Some people are simply mean-spirited. They laugh at the misery of others. They derive pleasure at insulting anyone. They revel in being bullies, connivers, and cheaters. To see a neighbor in need arouses spite rather than sympathy.

It is our responsibility to protect others from them and to seek justice against them. And…

Medical Campus Outreach (MCO) is a ministry that has exists to serve, disciple, and partner with healthcare students and professionals. For over 20 years, MCO has provided fellowship, mentoring, and service opportunities in the Philadelphia area and beyond.

Serve

MCO has its roots in service. What started as medical students from Georgia coming to Philadelphia to vaccinate children in North Philadelphia in 1992 has now blossomed…

Proverbs 21:11

When a scoffer is punished, the simple becomes wise;
when a wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge.

This proverb parallels 19:25:
"Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence;
reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge."

Punishment has its place, though its effect will differ according to the individual. The scoffer is punished and at best is restricted from further wicked behavior. His…

Proverbs 21:12

The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked;
he throws the wicked down to ruin.

The critical mistake of the wicked is to believe that he is keeping unobserved. Think of the image of law officials staking out a house hoping to see or hear something that might give evidence of the wicked's guilt. The great challenge of the law is to come up with clear evidence…

Proverbs 21:13

Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor
will himself call out and not be answered.

In a way, this proverb is more sobering than the previous one that warns of being ruined. There is a unique fear of being alone, of calling out for help and receiving only silence. The wicked may scoff at such a thought but that is only because they have yet…

Proverbs 21:14

A gift in secret averts anger,
and a concealed bribe, strong wrath.

This proverb speaks of a specific purpose in the use of bribes – averting anger. Most likely the situation is that of averting unjust anger. The king, or some other authority, has become overly angry and is about to harm someone. The offender, or a friend who steps in, gives the gift that appeases that anger.

Proverbs 21:15

When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous
but terror to evildoers.

When justice is done, the righteous are vindicated and the wicked are punished. But the righteous also rejoice in justice for its own sake. They do not obey God's laws to keep from being punished, but because they actually delight in God's law. The wicked fear punishment, but they also are disheartened to…

I recently happened upon William Penn’s Prayer for Philadelphia posted in the City Hall courtyard. Undoubtedly, Philadelphia continues to be sustained by the prayers of the faithful. The final sentence of the prayer reads: “My soul prays to God for thee that thou mayest stand in the day of trial, that thy children may be blest of the Lord and thy people saved by His power.“
Although evil continues…

Proverbs 21:16

One who wanders from the way of good sense
will rest in the assembly of the dead.

Do you want rest? Do you want to escape the hassles of life? Then wander away from good sense. Throw off your responsibilities and act according to instinct, and you can live a contented life. It is fairly easy to be contented when you have no…

Proverbs 21:17

Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man;
he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.

This would seem to be a proverb supporting the ascetic, stoic life. Its emphasis, however, is not contrasting pleasure with stoicism, but warning about a life devoted to physical pleasure. In such a pursuit the individual loses common sense. He thinks only of today and…

Proverbs 21:18

The wicked is a ransom for the righteous,
and the traitor for the upright.

There is a sense in which the wicked receive the punishment that was to have been visited on others, including the righteous. Thus, Judah was spared when Sennacherib was moved by God to attack the Egyptians rather than his covenant people. And God could say,

"For I…

Proverbs 21:19

It is better to live in a desert land
than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.

Consider Peter's counsel to wives in light of this proverb:

"Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives-- when they see your…

Proverbs 21:20

Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man's dwelling,
but a foolish man devours it.

The wise person saves and exercises restraint. For that reason he accumulates an abundance. The fool consumes whatever he gets.

Compare this proverb with verse 17: "Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich." The…

Proverbs 21:21

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
will find life, righteousness, and honor.

This is the promise of the Gospel - our pursuit of righteousness and kindness will not be in vain. However you may feel at the moment; if you despair of good winning out; if you see about you only death, wickedness, and shame; know that life, righteousness, and honor is what you…

Proverbs 21:22

A wise man scales the city of the mighty
and brings down the stronghold in which they trust.

Wisdom is stronger than physical strength. In sports, the smarter team is more likely to defeat the better athletic team. So it is in the military. In business, it is the company that is cleverer that wins over the company with more money and resources.…

Proverbs 21:23

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue
keeps himself out of trouble.

Do you seem to get enmeshed in trouble a lot? The problem may be your tongue. Don't be quick to deny it. The denier claims that the real problem is that he is misunderstood. Other people are too sensitive. They misread his intentions and need to examine themselves. He is sure…

Proverbs 21:24

"Scoffer" is the name of the arrogant, haughty man
who acts with arrogant pride.

The arrogance of the scoffer goes beyond believing that he is better than others. Even the prideful man can respect the accomplishments and ability of others. Indeed, his pride grows greater with the more credit he gives to those who come in second to him. The scoffer disdains others.…

Proverbs 21:25-26

The desire of the sluggard kills him,
for his hands refuse to labor.
All day long he craves and craves,
but the righteous gives and does not hold back.

How is it that desire kills the sluggard? Being lazy is the obvious cause. Being a slacker is a serious flaw, to be sure, but combining that flaw with ungodly desire is…

With a murder rate ten times higher than that of New York City, with drugs and crime pervading our streets, Camden, NJ, for the third time in five years, has been listed by numerous media outlets as the worst city in the nation. Homelessness, drug abuse, and prostitution have destroyed our communities and laid a blanket of darkness and cloud of hopelessness in this dilapidated city. So, what is God’s…

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination;
how much more when he brings it with evil intent.

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination even when he does so with (in his mind) good intent. The wicked will contribute to charity. They will attend church and contribute to its causes. They will offer up prayers and even volunteer to help others. But because they do…

Proverbs 21:28

A false witness will perish,
but the word of a man who hears will endure.

Yet another unexpected contrast. We would think the second clause to say something like, "but the word of a man who tells the truth will endure." This contrast draws out the heart condition of the false witness. Such a person lies because he is not interested in a…

Proverbs 21:29

A wicked man puts on a bold face,
but the upright gives thought to his ways.

Wickedness does take a certain courage. After all, the wicked man risks getting caught and punished. He is willing to incur the wrath of others. He takes these things upon himself all for greed and spite. And so he puts on his bold face to deceive and…

Proverbs 21:30

No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel
can avail against the Lord.

Let Psalm 2 provide the commentary for this proverb:

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,
"Let us burst their…

Proverbs 21:31

The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
but the victory belongs to the Lord.

It is good to make plans. It is good to prepare well for whatever battle one faces. But always remember that the victory belongs to the Lord. His will will be done. With such knowledge, you should:

1. Maintain an attitude of prayer throughout…

February

Proverbs 22:1

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
and favor is better than silver or gold.

This is the lesson George Bailey learned in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life." One earns a good name by living a good life, and that name becomes a sound investment. The person with a good name is more likely to receive help when…

Proverbs 22:2

The rich and the poor meet together;
the LORD is  the maker of them all.

Here we have two groups of people: rich and poor. They are opposites, which often do not overlap. Sometimes it’s because of opportunities, privileges, and access or the lack of these. It’s as if these two groups of people are journeying down two different roads in opposite directions…

Proverbs 22:3

The prudent sees danger and hides himself,
but the simple go on and suffer for it.

This is the same message as the proverb: Fools rush in where angels fear to dread. The simple "go on" either because they do not see the danger or because they estimate themselves too highly, thinking they can withstand harm.

The prudent does not hide…

You might be surprised to learn that children acquire the most basic musical elements when they simply receive normal levels of exposure to music in the early years. This is a result of genetics and environment interacting together. Both musically trained and untrained people show the ability to acquire musical skills. Regardless of the quality of musical environment, most people eventually achieve the ability to sing, at least at a…

The reward for humility and fear of the Lord
is riches and honor and life. -- Proverbs 22:4

Paul writes in Philippians, “Have this mind among you which was the mind of Christ,” and in Colossians, “Let the word of God dwell in you richly.” As we dig deeply in the word, God blesses us from his spiritual realm and we reflect his humility. There is no…

Proverbs 22:5

Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked;
whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.

This proverb has the similar message of 22:3: "The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it." The new contrast is between the crooked (the wicked) and the righteous who take care to guard their souls. But…

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Literally, the first line reads "according to the way he will go." Some then have interpreted the meaning to be that if you raise a child according to his inclination, he will set on a crooked path that he will not depart.…

In college it may be difficult to be the only one in the room who believes in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior, let alone worships God every Sunday. It’s difficult because the Christian opinion, although often respected if shared, seems so small in light of the majority’s confident assertions. The result for most students raised in Christian homes is feeling like they have let someone down and were…

Proverbs 22:7

The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is the slave of the lender.

The rich man rules over the poor man who is dependent upon him. The lender has control over the man who borrows from him. This is the disadvantage we should strive to avoid. What difference does it make that I owe money to someone else? That someone else…

Proverbs 22:8

Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
and the rod of his fury will fail.

We reap what we sow. The employer who sows injustice among his employees will reap poor performance. The seller who sows injustice among his customers will reap business failure. The parent who sows injustice within the family will see his children turn rebellious. The employer may threaten to fire,…

On Monday, I addressed a common problem I see among Christian college students: uncertainty about how to interact with those who disagree with our beliefs. Here is my challenge for you.

The reality is that there are threats in life and on campus. Satan does exist, and he is actively seeking to trip up God’s people (1 Peter 5:8). So, it’s good for a student to be…

Proverbs 22:9

Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed,
for he shares his bread with the poor.

The above proverb speaks of a heart that is motivated to benevolence. It is the heart of love that triggers the eye to see a need…and to meet that need. It is the heart of love that moves us to perform acts of compassion. For years, one…

Proverbs 22:10

Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out,
and quarreling and abuse will cease.

This is a proverb that has been proven many times in all kinds of settings. One person can sow discord throughout a team, a staff, a class, any group. He does not have to be openly rebellious. All he needs to do is consistently say a few words…

In part 1 of this series I wrote about the common situation for Christian college students who find themselves "alone in the room." In part 2, I addressed and clarified some of the helpful (and not so helpful) advice that parents, teachers, and friends pass along about how to prepare for life as a Christian college student.

What about other advice for the Christian student who’s "alone…

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven”—Matthew 19:14. 

Two and a half years ago we relocated to Philadelphia. After planting and pastoring a church in Manhattan, my husband, Deryck, had enrolled to pursue further studies at Westminster Theological Seminary. We found great schools for the kids, a perfect job, a lovely home…

Proverbs 22:11

He who loves purity of heart,
and whose speech is gracious,
will have the king as his friend.

Note the addition of gracious speech. Shouldn't purity of heart be enough for friendship, even with a king? It is speech that conveys what is in the heart. Speech can be used to deceive and other proverbs warn of flattery, but the point here…

Proverbs 22:12

The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
but he overthrows the words of the traitor.

God watches over knowledge as a shepherd watches over his flock. Far from fearing knowledge, Christians should above all nurture it and strive to grow in knowledge, for God is the God of truth. It is good to grow in all the fields of knowledge, except…

Proverbs 22:13

The sluggard says, "There is a lion outside!
I shall be killed in the streets!"

He does have a point. We may not worry about lions, but there are cars and trucks that could hit us. It may be best not to go outside to work. And, for that matter, there are dangers in the home - tripping down the stairs, stumbling over…

As we begin to consider building a “musical environment” for the family, it seems logical to start with our youngest family members. Did you know that infants are able to attend to, and even store, musical information in both their short and long-term memory? God has created them in such a way that they can process music as they receive it from their environment. Infants are able to distinguish differences between…

Proverbs 22:14

The mouth of forbidden women is a deep pit;
    he with whom the Lord is angry will fall into it.

This is a warning to all men against sexual allure, temptation, and lust. Matthew Henry’s Commentary states, “As they regard the welfare of their souls, let them take heed of strange women, lewd women, whom they ought to be strange to, of the…

Proverbs 22:15

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

Training a toddler not to touch household chemicals needs no explanation of merits in terms of parental discipline, nor demands any rationality to offer the child.  However, Proverbs 22:15 goes way beyond this simple imperative to address “stupidity and stubbornness” (Kidner) which assumes…

Proverbs 22:16

Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth,
or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

Some become wealthy by taking advantage of the poor (i.e. those who do not how to or are incapable of making wealth). Some increase their wealth by knowing to whom to give and so open doors for getting even more back. Proverbs does not…

Proverbs 22:17-21

Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise,
and apply your heart to my knowledge,
for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
if all of them are ready on your lips.
That your trust may be in the LORD,
I have made them known to you today, even to you.
Have I not written…

Proverbs 22:22-23

Do not rob the poor, because he is poor,
or crush the afflicted at the gate,
for the Lord will plead their cause
and rob of life those who rob them.

How can one rob the poor? Why bother to crush the afflicted? Why bother, even if one is wicked, to do what brings no gain? Perhaps there is a robbery…

Proverbs 22:24-25

Make no friendship with a man given to anger,
nor go with a wrathful man,
lest you learn his ways
and entangle yourself in a snare.

We ought to be wise (and wary) about the friends we choose. Scripture says we should take heed to ourselves, how we live—putting off the old, and putting on the new. We should also take…

Proverbs 22:26-27

Be not one of those who give pledges,
who put up security for debts.
If you have nothing with which to pay,
why should your bed be taken from under you?

To unscramble this verse, some background is needed.

Pledges = collateral for a debt.

Cloak = doubled as a blanket for comfort and warmth in bed…

March

When God chose to deliver the Israelities from the hands of the Midianites, he chose to use Gideon and a small band of men (“With the 300 men . . . I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands.” Judges 7:7–8). God could have chosen to supply many men for the work; instead, he chose to use a small number to demonstrate that the real victory comes…

Voice, converse, communicate, confer, natter, chatter—we’ll do all those things and more at our upcoming Tenth Talks, local events that combine food and dialogue with fellow Tenth attenders. This is your chance to meet the elders and deacons who provide pastoral care in your neighborhood and engage in a friendly give-and-take with Liam and other leaders.

Do you want to know more about the opportunities God is putting…

Proverbs 22:28

Do not move the ancient landmark
that your fathers have set.

This refers to the property lines marking the property belonging to a family. Its application is that we are to honor all contracts and agreements made before us. We do not move property lines; we do not revise contracts - i.e. not without appropriate agreements. An appropriate agreement is not merely a…

Proverbs 22:29

Do you see a man skillful in his work?
He will stand before kings;
he will not stand before obscure men.

In his volume entitled Works, Martin Luther asks, “What is the greatest work?” What he answers is “Salvation.” He was pointing to the greatest work in accomplishing the greatest gift. Christ gave his all—for the benefit of others. His work…

I became a Christian in my first year of college through the ministry of an inner-city church plant in Paterson, NJ (Northside Chapel CRC). The pastor who discipled me, Stan Vander Klay, later wrote a memoir which I recently read. I was surprised to see in the book the following story about my conversion. I hope and pray you find this account to be an encouragement.

At the

Proverbs 23:1-3

When you sit down to eat with a ruler,
     observe carefully what is before you,
and put a knife to your throat
     if you are given to appetite.
Do not desire his delicacies
     for they are deceptive food.

The setting for these verses is a dinner or a banquet put on by a ruler. (Think final…

During the weeks leading up to Easter our pastoral staff will tackle theological topics related to the resurrection in a series we're calling "Easter's Gospel."

The Cross as the World Sees It

Christ of Saint John of the Cross is a painting by Salvador Dalí created in 1951; it hangs in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland, and as a boy I would make my…

Proverbs 23:4-5

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.
 

A visiting scholar from China commented about the goals people set for themselves. He took a dollar bill from his wallet and said, “People in China are…

Proverbs 23:6-8

Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy;
do not desire his delicacies,
for he is like one who is inwardly calculating.
"Eat and drink!" he says to you,
but his heart is not with you.
You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten,
and waste your pleasant words.

We come back to…

Are you thawing out? Spring is only twelve days away. Time to come out of hibernation. Tenth Church can surely use you.

Were you greeted as you walked through the doors on Spruce Street? Good. We need more greeters so that new visitors in particular will feel welcomed. And we could use more volunteers to staff the Welcome Center table in the narthex. All that is needed for…

Proverbs 23:9

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
for he will despise the good sense of your words.

The proverb is almost comical in the picture it connotes. The hero/guide shouts words of instruction, only to be ignored by the fool who then lands in the hidden trap…which if filled with tigers!

But how does this work out in everyday…

Proverbs 23:10-11

Do not move an ancient landmark
or enter the fields of the fatherless,
for their Redeemer is strong;
he will plead their cause against you.

In ancient times, as still some places today, landmarks were stone pillars that marked property lines. To move them was essentially an act of stealing property. God had commanded the Israelites, “Do not move your neighbor’s…

Proverbs 23: 12

Apply your heart to instruction
and your ear to words of knowledge.

The work of applying our hearts and ears to the Word of God is not easy and requires the work of the Holy Spirit. The heart needs to be forcefully applied to good instruction because it is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). The heart, on its own, is only…

During the weeks leading up to Easter our pastoral staff will tackle theological topics related to the resurrection in a series we're calling "Easter's Gospel."

In addition to asking, "Why did Jesus die?" we need to answer a similar but different question: “Why was Jesus killed?” In fact to answer the latter is essential for answering the former.

Why Was Jesus Killed?

So, why…

Proverbs 23:13-14

Do not withhold discipline from a child;
      if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.
If you strike him with the rod,
      you will save his soul from Sheol.

Parenting is exhausting. As a young parent I used to think it was possible to be consistent. No more! Parenting is also one of the most sensitive…

A few weeks ago, we published an excerpt from Stan Vander Klay's memoir Chains of Grace in which he recounted my conversion story. I thought it might be interesting to tell you my side of the story.

At the age of five, my brother Michael and I were playing ball on the sidewalk as we very often did. I missed the ball (a rarity), and it went into…

Proverbs 23:15-16

My son, if your heart is wise,
my heart too will be glad.
My inmost being will exult
when your lips speak what is right.

How wonderful it is to see that children who have learned the good things they are taught. Earlier the writer of Proverbs penned, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he…

Mar 16, 2014

Profaning the Sacred

The Beauty and Holiness of the Bride of Christ

May 2–4, 2014
Proclamation Presbyterian Church

In the Old Testament, we often read of the sacred vessels of the temple being taken away for the service of idolatry. The profaning of God’s sacred things symbolized the turning of Israel to false gods. Even worse were those occasions when idols were brought into God’s house, showing that Israel had forgotten the holy obligations of Scripture. The New Testament…

Proverbs 23: 17-18

Let not your heart envy sinners,
     but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day.
Surely there is a future,
     and your hope will not be cut off.

The writer of Psalm 73 had a problem envying the unrighteous and for very visible reasons. The wicked prospered and everything went well for them. They had no…

Last week, I recounted the first part of my conversion story. I left off somewhere in the depths—I had been brought low by a series of unimaginable life circumstances, and this had left me broken, bitter, and hopeless. Here is the rest of my story.

As a pre-teen and teenager, my only escapes were baseball and bowling. I followed my beloved Brooklyn Dodgers and my heroes…

Proverbs 23:19-21

Hear, my son, and be wise,
                and direct your heart in the way.
Be not among drunkards
                or among gluttonous eaters of meat,
for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
                and slumber will clothe them with rags

Do you think with your stomach? I have certainly rearranged my schedule because I’ve been hungry…

Proverbs 23:22-25

“Listen to your father who gave you life,
And do not despise your mother when she is old.
Buy truth, and do not sell it:
Buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
He who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.
Let your father and mother be glad:
Let her who…

During the weeks leading up to Easter our pastoral staff will tackle theological topics related to the resurrection in a series we're calling "Easter's Gospel."

How are we to understand what Jesus is doing on the cross? He clearly teaches us that, "the Son of man came to give his life as a ransom for many"; the Good Shepherd would give his life for the sheep; he…

Proverbs 23:26-28

My son, give me your heart,
and let your eyes observe my ways.
For a prostitute is a deep pit;
an adulteress is a narrow well.
She lies in wait like a robber
and increases the traitors among mankind.

Understand the motivation of the prostitute - it is to get your money. That is all she is about and…

Proverbs 23:29-35

Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
Those who tarry long over wine;
those who go to try mixed wine.
Do not look at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup
and goes down smoothly.
In the end…

Proverbs 24:1-2

Be not envious of evil men,
                nor desire to be with them,
For their hearts devise violence,
                and their lips talk of trouble.

No matter where you work, live, and play it’s a temptation to envy those who cheat to get ahead. Every day, driving to and from center city, I see people getting far ahead of me because…

Proverbs 24:3-4

By wisdom a house is built,
and by understanding it is established;
by knowledge the rooms are filled
with all precious and pleasant riches.

The wisdom books of the Bible (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon) provide wonderful “technical” help for home architects (cf. Ps. 127; Prov. 9:1; 14:1). Have you considered how your home will be constructed? Are…

Proverbs 24:5-6

A wise man is full of strength,
and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

The first half of the proverb seems to be extolling individual wisdom. The wise man alone is full of strength. But the latter half unveils more about wisdom. The…

During the weeks leading up to Easter our pastoral staff will tackle theological topics related to the resurrection in a series we're calling "Easter's Gospel."

"To err is human; to forgive, divine," wrote Alexander Pope in his "Essay on Criticism." Pope wanted literary critics to be good natured in their criticism of poets, to be somewhat forgiving of writer’s mistakes. We want the same—we expect the same—of God.

Proverbs 24:7

Wisdom is too high for a fool;
in the gate he does not open his mouth.

The image here is that of men sitting at the gate of a city. This is where the elders of the town gather to discuss the Law and judge disputes. The fool does not join in because he cannot follow the discussion. He cannot comprehend their logic.…

Proverbs 24:8-9

Whoever plans to do evil
will be called a schemer.
The devising of folly is sin,
and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.

The dictionary defines “a schemer” as someone who is always trying to pull a fast one, or get by through shady, under-handed methods. Here it is coupled with the words evil, folly, and abomination. Now, that is…

Several weeks ago, I sent an email to some members of Tenth asking them to describe Marion Clark in two or three words. Marion is a man of few words, so I figured that few words would fit him well. Essentially, what I discovered were descriptions of the same things I was reading in my devotions from the book of Proverbs. Of course, we know that wisdom is a picture…

Proverbs 24:10-12

If you faint in the day of adversity,
your strength is small. 
Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work? 

April

Proverbs 24:13-14

My son, eat honey, for it is good,
and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
if you find it, there will be a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.

Sometime in the 12th century, German Jews began a custom whereby children going to school for…

Proverbs 24:15-16 

Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous;
do no violence to his home;
for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.

If you are afraid to walk from the church building over to Rittenhouse Square after the evening service, raise your hand. Philadelphia is a…

During the weeks leading up to Easter our pastoral staff will tackle theological topics related to the resurrection in a series we're calling "Easter's Gospel."

Satisfaction of a Capricious God

Muslims do not believe that Jesus died upon the cross. Nor do they believe that Jesus could pay the penalty for our sin. They believe we must pay for our sin through doing good…

Proverbs 24:17-18

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
lest the LORD see it and be displeased,
and turn away his anger from him.

Okay, not really. I am not a Dallas Cowboys fan. Truth be told, I have not followed professional football since Franco Harris caught the Immaculate Reception in 1972. (Google…

Proverbs 24:19-20

Fret not yourself because of evildoers,
and be not envious of the wicked,
for the evil man has no future;
the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

Is there anyone who has not said at some point in their lives, when something bad happens, “Why me?” I’ve been good. I don’t deserve this. I suspect that as many of…

At Easter we celebrate Jesus’s resurrection which means death has been defeated and God is going to mend our broken world, making all things new. We herald that news by reaching out in the name of Christ to those who are suffering. That's where the Easter Sacrifical Offering (ESO) comes in. Through giving generously to ESO we link arms with brothers and sisters in other parts of the world and

Our Savior once commanded us, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them . . .” (Matthew 19:14).

Sophara moved to Philadelphia from Cambodia. Like nearly all Cambodians, Sophara was raised as a Buddhist. Just a few years ago, he was in Phnom Penh making daily sacrifices of food to Theravada monks and chanting prayers in Khmer, wondering if there was a God to…

Proverbs 24:21-22

My son, fear the LORD and the king,
and do not join with those who do otherwise,
for disaster will arise suddenly from them,
and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?

These two verses conjure up from my memory the photographic image of a father and daughter in a war-torn city attempting to cross a street during a…

Proverbs 24:23-26

These also are sayings of the wise.
Partiality in judging is not good.
Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,”
will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations,
but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight,
and a good blessing will come upon them.
Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.

If you…

Proverbs 24:27

Prepare your work outside;
get everything ready for yourself in the field,
and after that build your house.

As a failed Boy Scout the one thing I continue to remember is their motto, "Always prepared." Perhaps that means I didn’t really fail. Regardless, it sticks in my head as a worthwhile goal. We all know what it’s like to feel unprepared. As a…

During the weeks leading up to Easter our pastoral staff will tackle theological topics related to the resurrection in a series we're calling "Easter's Gospel."

Substitutionary sacrifice is illustrated strikingly throughout Scripture. Abraham’s prophetic words in Genesis 22:8, “God will provide for himself the lamb” (supposedly only for Isaac’s ears), pointed forward to the provision of Christ as, “the Lamb of God who takes away the…

Proverbs 24:28-29

Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause,
and do not deceive with your lips.
Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me;
I will pay the man back for what he has done.”

If you have ever been the subject of slander and libel, you know how terrible it can make you feel…

Proverbs 24:30-34

I passed by the field of a sluggard,
by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,
and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns;
ground was covered with nettles,
and its stone wall was broken down.
Then I saw and considered it;
I looked and received instruction.
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the…

As we reflect and meditate on the events of Holy Week and Easter we are reminded that the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the central focus of our Christian faith. The music we offer in praise of our Lord is especially meaningful and powerful at this time of year, encompassing a wide array of emotional and spiritual depth. Join us for the following…

Proverbs 25:1-2

These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.
It is the glory of God to conceal things,
but the glory of kings is to search things out.

Do you sometimes count a task below you? Or do you at other times look down on someone who is doing a task that you wouldn’t do yourself?

Proverbs…

Proverbs 25:3

As the heavens for height, and the earth for depth,
so the heart of kings is unsearchable.

At times we may think the world is out of control. In reality, from a Christian perspective, God is ruling the nations, even the very hearts of the kings and rulers.

In Proverbs 25:2-3 we observe the contrast between God and the kings; specifically…

Proverbs 25:4-5

Take away the dross from the silver,
and the smith has material for a vessel;
take away the wicked from the presence of the king,
and his throne will be established in righteousness.

At times, it is very easy to believe that evil in the world is not restrained. Is there any control on the extent of evil, or is Satan…

During the weeks leading up to Easter our pastoral staff will tackle theological topics related to the resurrection in a series we're calling "Easter's Gospel."

One of the greatest joys of the Lenten season is thinking about Christ and the great salvation he has won for us. The dizzying rise of Joseph from prisoner to prime minister of  the greatest nation on earth must have taken his breath…

Proverbs 25:6-7

Do not put yourself forward in the king's presence
or stand in the place of the great,
for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”
than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.

If you had 30 minutes to converse with one person in this world, who would you choose?

It may be of…

Proverbs 25:7b-10

What your eyes have seen
do not hastily bring into court,
for what will you do in the end,
when your neighbor puts you to shame?
Argue your case with your neighbor himself,
and do not reveal another's secret, lest he who hears you bring shame upon you,
and your ill repute have no end.

Honestly, how clearly…

During the weeks leading up to Easter our pastoral staff will tackle theological topics related to the resurrection in a series we're calling "Easter's Gospel."

As we have pondered the centrality of the cross and the salvation Christ’s sacrifice secured for us, we finally consider the revelation of God as seen in the cross. John Stott wrote, "[the cross] was a ‘revelatory’ as well as a ‘salvific’…

Moses (not his real name) became a drug addict at the age of 12. He had been through the court system, in shelters, institutions, jails, “becoming very knowledgeable about evil ways.” At the age of 25 he had a job, an apartment, a girlfriend, and a car. Moses says that he thought he had it made and more. Then he lost it. “One big ride downhill,” he says, “with a…

Proverbs 25:11

A word fitly spoken
is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

How often do we wish we could take back something we have said? We immediately begin to suffer the consequences. Yet how encouraging it can be to see someone’s life and outlook totally changed because of healing and uplifting words we have spoken. This is one of a number…

Proverbs 25:12

Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold
is a wise reprove to a listening ear.

While enjoying this proverb and its obvious theme of the preciousness and value of a wise reproof, memories have flooded back of moments when my life has been enriched by the wisdom our Lord has provided for me through others. It is one of the reasons…

Proverbs 25:13

Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest
is a faithful messenger to those who send him;
he refreshes the soul of his masters.

Many of us struggle in the heat! My two favorite lifelines in the hot Philadelphia summer are shade and an Arnold Palmer. I will abandon all social and societal norms to procure both. It’s easy…

Proverbs 25:14

Like clouds and wind without rain
is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.

Those who have gone on a short mission trip from Tenth to Barranquilla, Colombia and have experienced a rain storm can tell you how serious rain is there. I have been living in Philadelphia for more than four years, and I have not seen a…

Proverbs 25:15

With patience a ruler may be persuaded,
and a soft tongue will break a bone.

Are you a patient person? Do you get all stressed when waiting for something? Do you give up easily when you do not see things going in the direction you wish?

Patience is a gift few people have, particularly in our current society. Most of us…

Did you know that Iraqi refugees are often relocated to Northeast Philadelphia? Did you know that a third of Northeast High School’s 3,000 students are of Chinese descent? Did you know that there are over 30,000 Albanians in Philadelphia, with a hub in the Northeast?

These are only three of the ethnic groups that Northeast Community Church (NCC) is serving through ESL classes, through assistance with citizenship applications…

Proverbs 25:16

If you have found honey, eat only enough for you,
lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.  ESV

When you're given a box of candy, don't gulp it all down;
eat too much chocolate and you'll make yourself sick.  The Message

I remember at age 12 proving this verse right. There are natural consequences to over-indulgence. Here…

Proverbs 25:17

Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house,
lest he have his fill of you and hate you.  ESV

And when you find a friend, don't outwear your welcome;
show up at all hours and he'll soon get fed up.  The Message

Matthew Henry wrote,

It is a piece of civility to visit our neighbours sometimes…

Proverbs 25:18

A man who bears false witness against his neighbor
is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow. ESV

Anyone who tells lies against the neighbors in court or on the street
is a loose cannon.  The Message

Ouch! What harmful weapons we have here: a club, a sword, and an arrow—each of these can cause severe injury…

May

Proverbs 25:19

Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble
is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips. ESV

Trusting a double-crosser when you're in trouble
is like biting down on an abscessed tooth.  The Message

The dictionary definition of treacherous is "guilty of or involving betrayal or deception as 'a treacherous Gestapo agent.'" Synonyms: disloyal, faithless, unfaithful, duplicitous, deceitful…

Proverbs 25:20 

Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart
is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day,
and like vinegar on soda.  ESV

Singing light songs to the heavyhearted
is like pouring salt in their wounds.  The Message

The writer speaks of the thoughtlessness and even cruelty involved here. Sorrow and grief have no time-table. The sufferer…

May 4, 2014

Faith & Science

Why You Don't Have to Check Your Degree at the Door of the Church

After years of going back and forth to the Warwick Hotel during the school year and Fellowship Hall during the summer, Tenth International Fellowship (TIF) has stayed in Fellowship Hall this whole year. This has been a blessing for TIF because more of the congregation has had the opportunity to visit our worship service on Sundays, and TIF members feel more connected with the larger congregation. Many of our TIF…

Proverbs 25:21-22

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
for you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.

Many of us might be hard-pressed to write an enemies list, but Christians actually have many enemies. Whoever is an enemy of Christ and the gospel…

Proverbs 25:23

The north wind brings forth rain,
and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.

The slanderer and backbiter are character assassins and murderers of a person’s good name and reputation. These offenses are a clear violation, by extension, of the sixth commandment—"Thou shalt not kill." The slanderer hurts more than his immediate prey, he also hurts himself and his hearers. If you are approached by someone…

Proverbs 25:24

It is better to live in a corner of the housetop
than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife. 

This exact same wording is found in 21:9—and I would encourage you to see Rev. Clark’s comments there. Is there more to extract from this proverb?  Of course! Rev. Clark rightly focused upon a wife’s negative (quarrelsome) interaction with a husband (and did so…

Proverbs 25:25

Like cold water to a thirsty soul,
so is good news from a far country.

Have you ever spent hours working or playing in the sun? Have you ever spent those hours without water? I certainly have — multiple times! Although I was disastrously forgetful, not remembering my water helps me understand the feeling that this proverb conveys.  This “good news” is like a…

Proverbs 25: 26

Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.

When evil is unchallenged, it spreads and prospers. It does not go away or does not remain conveniently penned up. By its very nature, evil pushes boundaries and tests our resolve. If we do not stand up to it, evil will eventually win the day.

Proverbs 25:27

It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one's own glory.

Now that spring is here, I greatly look forward to a double-dip ice cream cone. What if, however, I were to have this every day for all summer? Without question, the ice cream cone would become quite distasteful to me.

Proverbs 25:27 warns us of two things: (1)…

Proverbs 25:28

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

How many men or women can you count who are able to “rule” their responses to others? I know very few. If we are honest with ourselves, we cannot either.

This proverb compares one who does “not rule over his own spirit” to a city with broken walls. Consider several…

Proverbs 26:1

Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool.

One does not have to read much history to know that the life of a nation is often very complicated by the rule of a poor leader. Think of a Nero in Rome, a Henry in France, or a Stalin in the Soviet Union. Though God allowed these to rule and ultimately he…

Proverbs 26:2

Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight.

Have you ever been in the presence of someone with power who seeks to angrily intimidate you for something of which you were fully innocent? It is a frightening experience and leaves one helpless before the other. Nothing one can say or do will ever…

Proverbs 26:3

A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools.

How do we begin to comprehend the depths to which sin can lead us? Sometimes the best way is through an analogy.

In the proverb, a wicked man (fool) is compared to the horse and donkey. In Solomon’s times, these animals were not as domesticated as…

Proverbs 26:4-5

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.

Our post-modern society finds no contradiction between contradictory statements because everything is seen as relative. So these proverbs may seem to be expositing post-modernism in a pre-modern age!  However, these two apparently contradictory proverbs juxtaposed next to each…

Proverbs 26:6

Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.

When I was in high school, if a teacher handed me a note or form to turn in to the main office, the note or form certainly reached its destination, but it didn’t always travel the most efficient route! I would stop and get a drink at…

Proverbs 26:8

Like one who binds the stone in the sling is one who gives honor to a fool.

In the continuing rant regarding fools, the writer now promotes a smart proverb about honoring fools: he is against the idea.  As one commentator pithily wrote, “the stone is there to be slung out. So is the fool.” (Kidner, Tyndale OT, p. 155)

So how are…

Proverbs 26:9

Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard
     is a proverb in the mouth of fools.

One would not normally think of a thorn bush as a weapon of choice. Here, the drunk is not merely grabbing a thorn bush and injuring himself. Rather, this insensible man somehow gets hold of a prickly thorn bush and starts flinging…

Dr. Bart Ehrman teaches New Testament Introduction to undergraduates at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A few years ago he started asking his undergraduate classes about their views of the Bible. He recounts, “The first day of class, with over three hundred students present, I ask: ‘How many of you would agree with the proposition that the Bible is the inspired Word of God?’ Whoosh! Virtually everyone

Proverbs 26:11

Like a dog that returns to his vomit
    is a fool who repeats his folly.

If you have ever seen a dog slurp up its own vomit, you will not need to be reminded what a disgusting sight it is! We will not dwell on this part of the verse.

Rather, we will move on to ask the question: how is…

 Proverbs 26:12

Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
    There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Who in the world could be in a more precarious spiritual condition than the fool? Remember, the fool is the one who says in his heart that there is no God. Apparently, there is one who even outshines (so to…

Proverbs 26:13

The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road!
    There is a lion in the streets!”

The writer of Proverbs has some pretty uncomplimentary things to say about the fool and the myopian (the person who is wise in his own eyes). He also sets his sights against the sluggard—the lazy person. Here, the sluggard is described as one who won't…

Proverbs 26:14

As a door turns on its hinges,
    so does a sluggard on his bed.

The thing about doors is that they don’t actually go anywhere. People will go in and out of doors. People will get somewhere, but the door itself just swings back and forth—open and shut and open again. Doors don’t get out much. They don’t accomplish much. People and life, so…

June

Proverbs 26:15

The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
    it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth.

Could these proverbs—these didactic words of wisdom—be about me, the sinner? I easily assume that this sluggard is someone else, not me. I picture Jabba the Hut from Star Wars. Now that’s a sluggard. He can hardly lift his hand to even feed…

Proverbs 26:16

The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
    than seven men who can answer sensibly.

Proverbs reflect man’s true soul and are written for our admonition and edification. As believers we must accept the Proverbs in that way. A sluggard is a person who is lazy and habitually inactive. “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing”. A sluggard does not…

Proverbs 26:18-19

Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death
    is the man who deceives his neighbor and then says “I was only joking” 

What a strange and disturbing picture this is. A fire brand is a piece of burning wood. Throwing that or an arrow at a neighbor would surely declare an intent to harm. How then could someone throw these at…

Proverbs 26:20

For lack of wood the fire goes out,
    and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.

Have you ever gotten caught inadvertently gossiping? It is not a pleasant scene. It is very embarrassing and even more shameful that one can do little to make amends for the wrongs. It only begins a more dangerous route of division and strife between people. Contention…

Proverbs 26:21

As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
    so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.

Have you ever watched the TV show, “My Wife and Kids?” One thing that strikes me about that show is the constant arguing between the husband and wife. Think of how each response adds to hostility between the couple. No doubt, every spousal abuse had…

Proverbs 26:22

The words of a talebearer are as wounds,
    and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

Having worked with high school students for over 40 years, I have often heard students discussing what they have overheard others saying about them. It may be a friend talking to another friend or a teacher talking to another teacher about a student. The words…

Each week this summer in WOW (Wide Open World), Tenth kids are focusing on a different country where one of our global partners works. Students are sent home with a sheet profiling our partner and his work and another sheet helping them connect to that country’s culture. We encourage families to pray specifically for the partner family of the week and to help their children further explore. This

Proverbs 26:23

Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel
    are fervent lips with an evil heart.

Glaze can cover and hide what is underneath while giving the appearance of revealing its inner substance. We can see the clay, but the glaze covers over any imperfections and causes the clay to have an alluring shine that it really doesn’t possess itself. In the same way…

Proverbs 26:24-26

Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips
    and harbors deceit in his heart;
when he speaks graciously, believe him not,
    for there are seven abominations in his heart;
though his hatred be covered with deception,
    his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.

We have a person described here who is hateful, yet covers up the…

Proverbs 26:27

Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,
    And a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.

We have all heard the saying, “He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword”. This proverb is a variation on that theme. He who starts trouble will eventually get caught up in its web. There are too many variables at…

Each week this summer in WOW (Wide Open World), Tenth kids are focusing on a different country where one of our global partners works. Students are sent home with a sheet profiling our partner and his work and another sheet helping them connect to that country’s culture. We encourage families to pray specifically for the partner family of the week and to help their children further explore. This

“Toilet Crisis at Phereni Primary School”—The subject line caught my attention. It was from a partner in Malawi who works with African Enterprise. I imagined overflowing johns, but on opening the email, I found something worse. Torrential rainfalls had caused the school’s outhouse to completely collapse. All that was left were gaping holes in the ground. For Phereni’s six hundred students, school attendance is almost impossible. It has been five…

Proverbs 26:28

A lying tongue hates its victims,
and a flattering mouth works ruin.

Occasions arise where we have the opportunity to choose how we use our words: to help or to harm, to bless or to curse. Yet many mean-spirited people use words to hurt others at any given moment, deliberately hurling verbal slings and arrows at their victims. It becomes a lifestyle. Their…

Proverbs 27:1

Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.

It is common sense to know we are not guaranteed tomorrow. The epistle of James 4:13-16 reads, "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'— yet you do…

Proverbs 27:2

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
a stranger, and not your own lips.

"It's about you!" is a phrase often heard. For Christians, especially, our goal is to give God all the glory. Our Lord tells us, "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven"…

Proverbs 27:3  

A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty,
but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.

Fools have no common sense or self-control. They do not govern their actions. Thus, when the foolish person is provoked, he/she doesn’t care about the "weightiness" of thoughtless words or deeds. The natural consequences of foolish actions affect everyone nearby—like the heavy burden of a great stone…

Proverbs 27:4  

Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming,
but who can stand before jealousy?

We all know how it feels to be angry and to have those emotions rage within. Some of us know the state of wrath when, vengeful, we want to get even with someone who has hurt us. Both anger and wrath can be strong and consuming, and the verse says…

Written by a member of ACTS Ministries Fellowship Bible Study. FBS meets 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th Sundays at 4:00 pm at Tenth Presbyterian Church.

After a 39 year career as a drug and alcohol abuser, an incident occurred prompting me to look to God with gratitude. God spared my life when I was stabbed in the heart and was supposed to die—but didn't! My old self did die a…

Each week this summer in WOW (Wide Open World), Tenth kids are focusing on a different country where one of our global partners works. Students are sent home with a sheet profiling our partner and his work and another sheet helping them connect to that country’s culture. We encourage families to pray specifically for the partner family of the week and to help their children further explore. This

Proverbs 27:5

Better is open rebuke
    than hidden love.  

This proverb is not about employing diplo-speak when a Reuben-esque woman tries on a tiny two piece swim suit and asks for your honest opinion. Nor is it about the hilarity which breaks out when a guy discovers his totally wrong decision in front of the clued-in friends who watched him crash and burn…

Proverbs 27:6

Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
    profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Yesterday pitted a secret unspoken love versus an open reprimand. Today turns the tables to place the reader on the receiving end… and the relationship it defines. How would you define friendship? There is a saying about friendship I found online which is rather pithy:

Proverbs 27:7

One who is full loathes honey,
    but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.

I am sure many of us can recall a time when we were “stuffed”. Maybe it was a Thanksgiving dinner or other holiday eating occasion; perhaps it was a second (or third?) dessert that you lived to regret. Kids can stuff themselves with candy and spoil…

Proverbs 27:8

Like a bird that strays from its nest
    is a man who strays from his home.

The bird’s nest is for protection from predators and shelter from the elements. It is for raising the young in security. The home is also a place of security, trust, and support. Anyone that strays from home will, like a bird, be alone, likely end up…

Proverbs 27:9

Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
    and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.

Friendship is often portrayed on sitcoms as a group of people continually taking verbal jabs at one another or laughing at someone’s expense. That is not friendship.

God brings you gifts in the form of true friends to enjoy life with and…

Each week this summer in WOW (Wide Open World), Tenth kids are focusing on a different country where one of our global partners works. Students are sent home with a sheet profiling our partner and his work and another sheet helping them connect to that country’s culture. We encourage families to pray specifically for the partner family of the week and to help their children further explore. This

Proverbs 27:10

Do not forsake your friend and your father's friend,
    
and do not go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity.
Better is a neighbor who is near
    
than a brother who is far away.

One of the great joys of the summer months is seeing family members as well as special friends. In many of…

July

Proverbs 27:11

Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad,
    that I may answer him who reproaches me.

It is always a blessing to see my 27 year old son make right decisions. Only recently, he agreed to do some work for a friend. When he got into the job, he realized it was much more involved and would take more time and…

Proverbs 27:12

The prudent sees danger and hides himself,
    but the simple go on and suffer for it.

If we are truly honest with ourselves, we must confess that at some times in our lives, we have been able to see evil coming. Can you think of a time when this was true in your experience? This is not always the case; sometimes, we…

Proverbs 27:13

Take a man's garment when he has put up security for a stranger,
    and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for an adulteress.

Some years ago a former student of mine did work for me over a series of years. This young man, I believed, was so trustworthy that at one time I said to my wife that I…

Proverbs 27:14

Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice,
    
rising early in the morning,
    
will be counted as cursing.

A bit of encouragement and recognition goes a long way. This is true of ourselves as well as others whom we love and work with. Too much undue encouragement, however, is not helpful; sometimes it can be very damaging.

Proverbs 27:15-16

A continual dripping on a rainy day
    and a quarrelsome wife are alike;
to restrain her is to restrain the wind
    or to grasp oil in one's right hand.

Once again, I find myself a cultural dinosaur. For those few of you who remember Henny Youngman, the title of this essay makes sense. For the rest of you, there…

Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron,
    and one man sharpens another.

One good book written by Christians about how to watch movies as a Christian makes the claim that the reason why superhero movies are so popular is because American culture today has given up on real solutions to real problems. They claim that this gives rise to the tendency to look to the fantasy…

Proverbs 27:18

Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit,
    and he who guards his master will be honored.

This seems strange. Shouldn’t we be watching out for the little guy? Can’t the big guy (the master, so to speak) take care of himself? Why does Proverbs admonish the wise person to watch out for (to guard) his master? And how is it…

I am pleased to announce that my new book, “Not Just a Soup Kitchen: How Mercy Ministry Transforms Us,” will be available on September 9.

In my 25 years as Tenth's Mercy Minister, I have trained hundreds and hundreds of people across the USA. Whenever I consult with pastors and deacons, I hear such questions as, “What do I do here? How much do I give and…

Proverbs 27:19

As in water face reflects face,
    so the heart of man reflects the man.

Some, like Forrest Gump, would reduce a person to his or her actions. Others might reduce a person to his or her motives, “Well she meant well,” someone might say. Still others might reduce a person to words, “But you said…………..” What all of these have in common…

Proverbs 27:20

Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied,
    and never satisfied are the eyes of man.

In the 1948 Humphrey Bogart classic, Key Largo, the Bogart character says to the gangster, Rocco, played by Edward G. Robinson, “What does Rocco want?” Rocco is not the sharpest knife in the drawer and he has difficulty answering the question. Bogart helps him out by saying…

Each week this summer in WOW (Wide Open World), Tenth kids are focusing on a different country where one of our global partners works. Students are sent home with a sheet profiling our partner and his work and another sheet helping them connect to that country’s culture. We encourage families to pray specifically for the partner family of the week and to help their children further explore. This

Proverbs 27:23–24

Know well the conditions of your flocks,
     and give attention to your herds,
for riches do not last forever; 
     and does a crown endure to all generations?

Its all too true that what we accrue in our lives, we can't take with us in death (Ecclesiastes 5:15).  Christ had a very clear warning in Luke 12:15—"Take care and be…

Proverbs 28:1

The wicked flee when no one pursues,
    but the righteous are bold as a lion.

The wicked lose strength and courage when the odds are stacked against them. They thrive when they can lie, cheat, ambush, and rely on greater numbers to fight and win their battles. Their confidence lies in what they see and experience. When they are alone or cannot…

Proverbs 28:2

When a land transgresses, it has many rulers,
    but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue.

When a nation or people transgress they usually require a heavier hand, whether that takes the form of more police or more government workers overseeing many regulations. They require many leaders or officials showing them what to do and enforcing the…

Proverbs 28:3 

A poor man who oppresses the poor
is a beating rain that leaves no food.

There are times when a poor man becomes a leader. People raise such a person, poor like themselves, to power. But he does not use his power fairly. He is cruel. He does not remember that he is like the other poor people. He thinks that he is…

Each week this summer in WOW (Wide Open World), Tenth kids are focusing on a different country where one of our global partners works. Students are sent home with a sheet profiling our partner and his work and another sheet helping them connect to that country’s culture. We encourage families to pray specifically for the partner family of the week and to help their children further explore. Last

Proverbs 28:4 

Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
but those who keep the law strive against them.

I remember before my conversion to Christ that I took pleasure in the works of darkness and my rebellion against God. I even praised those working in it. How I wanted more! That was then. Now, we who respect the law of God do not want evil people…

Proverbs 28:5 

Evil men do not understand justice,
but those who seek the LORD understand it completely.

Included in Webster’s Dictionary definition of justice is, "Fairness, justness, fair play, fair-mindedness, equity, evenhandedness, impartiality, objectivity, neutrality, honesty, and righteousness." None of these values are on the "map" of an evil-doer. Evil people have no desire to be fair. They do not even see why someone should want to be…

Proverbs 28:6 

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

Aristides, a wise and just Athenian of long ago, was a great enemy to greedy men in government. As treasurer of Athens, he hated covetousness. He lived and died poor by choice. Once, reproached by an evil banker, he answered, "Thy riches do…

Proverbs 28:7 

The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding,
but a companion of gluttons shames his father.

There are natural consequences to our actions. A son who has understanding will, in most cases, seek to honor God with his attitude and actions. The one who lacks understanding and eats or drinks to excess will embarrass himself and shame his parents.

Each week this summer in WOW (Wide Open World), Tenth kids are focusing on a different country where one of our global partners works. Students are sent home with a sheet profiling our partner and his work and another sheet helping them connect to that country’s culture. We encourage families to pray specifically for the partner family of the week and to help their children further explore. This

Proverbs 28:9

If one turns away his ear from hearing the law,
    even his prayer is an abomination.  

“I prayed, but it didn’t work.” How many times have you heard someone say this—or maybe even have said or thought it yourself?

“Great reason there is that God will refuse to hear him who refuses to hear God.” (Bishop Reynolds).

Proverbs 28:10

Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit,
    but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance.

In Deuteronomy 6 and 7—and throughout the Old Testament—Israel is warned not to turn aside and go after other gods. Israel suffered from amnesia and distractions. We like Israel suffer from amnesia and distractions. Jason Bourne suffered from amnesia and struggled…

Proverbs 28:11

A rich man is wise in his own eyes,
    but a poor man who has understanding will find him out.  

"There are no greater fools than those who see their folly as wisdom."—New Geneva Study Bible

In Luke 12, the rich farmer who had abundant crops built bigger barns to contain his prosperity. What’s wrong with that? It seems rather…

August

Proverbs 28:12

When the righteous triumph, there is great glory,
    but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves.  

Who would you rather have ruling over you? A good man or a wicked man? Obviously, we all would desire to see the righteous one over us. We can trust that ruler and we feel protected and cared for.

In Proverbs 28:12, the…

Proverbs 28:13

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
    but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.  

Have you ever had to deal with unconfessed sin your life? You knew what you did was not right, but refused to make it right with God or with others. It is miserable. It feels like it is there all the time and just…

Proverbs 28:14

Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always,
    but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.  

What do you really fear? The Bible speaks of a proper fear, namely a reverence and great respect for who God is and what he has done. We tend to think that to be truly happy, fear should be absent. The opposite is…

Proverbs 28:15

Like a roaring lion or a charging bear
    is a wicked ruler over a poor people.  

If you remember some history, you may be able to identify several qualities of a wicked ruler. You need not go too far back in history to discover such a man—they certainly are not hard to find. The Scriptures speak about a “wise” ruler and…

Proverbs 28:16

A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor,
    but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.  

I remember reading the testimony of Chuck Colson, the political aide of Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandals in the 1970’s. Colson described his intense desire to be accepted by Nixon as a “lust for power.” Colson described how the more power…

Proverbs 28:17

If one is burdened with the blood of another,
     he will be a fugitive until death;
    let no one help him.  

How serious is the crime of murder? The Scriptures speak quite clearly that to take one man’s blood requires that that man give his life for the innocent (Exodus 9:6). There is, too, consequences for the guilty…

Each week this summer in WOW (Wide Open World), Tenth kids are focusing on a different country where one of our global partners works. Students are sent home with a sheet profiling our partner and his work and another sheet helping them connect to that country’s culture. We encourage families to pray specifically for the partner family of the week and to help their children further explore. This

Proverbs 28:19

Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread,
but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.

This proverb is about focus and dedication. We do not like doing routine things because they tend to be repetitive, boring, and endless. But it is in the doing of those routine things that we find reward and fulfillment. Maybe you are tired of changing diapers, doing…

Proverbs 28:20

A faithful man will abound with blessings,
but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.

The key difference in the character of the faithful man and the "get rich quick" person lies in integrity. The faithful man’s priority is to carry out his responsibilities and see them through to the end. He keeps his word and promises, he can be trusted to act…

Proverbs 28:21

To show partiality is not good,
but for a piece of bread a man will do wrong.

This proverb shows the depravity of mankind. The sin of partiality is a very common sin in our experience. We can all be guilty of it from time to time. And we can fall into this sin without much temptation (a piece of bread). It doesn’t…

Proverbs 28: 22

A stingy man hastens after wealth
and does not know that poverty will come upon him.

A stingy man has a death grip on what he owns and has no desire to share his wealth to help others. We usually think of a man like Ebenezer Scrooge when we hear the word stingy. Ungenerous people are unhappy people. They are so concerned…

Each week this summer in WOW (Wide Open World), Tenth kids are focusing on a different country where one of our global partners works. Students are sent home with a sheet profiling our partner and his work and another sheet helping them connect to that country’s culture. We encourage families to pray specifically for the partner family of the week and to help their children further explore. This

I did not grow up in the church. It was toward the end of high school that I began to attend a local evangelical church in my small town, an hour or so west of Chicago. Over a process of about a year and a half of hearing the gospel, learning and recognizing my sin, and realizing my great need for a savior, the Spirit brought new life to me…

Proverbs 28:23

Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor
than he who flatters with his tongue.

"He won’t like that I’ve corrected him." That thought has prevented me and others from confronting a friend with their offense. We are such people pleasers that we fear doing right. Yet, it is our Christian duty build up (edify) those who need to be strengthened in their walk…

Proverbs 28:24

Whoever robs his father or his mother
and says, “That is no transgression,”
is a companion to a man who destroys.

A son or daughter might think getting all they can from their parents is no transgression, for it will soon become their inheritance. For how could they live "the high life"—now—without it? Such excuses are vicious. I’m reminded of Henri Nouwen’s…

Proverbs 28:25

A greedy man stirs up strife,
but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.

Webster’s dictionary defines greed as, "an intense and selfish desire for something." This could be wealth, power, food, or even health. It could also include coveting what belongs to another. All in all, it is selfish and intense. Similar to anger, greed rages and stirs up strife.

Proverbs 28:26

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool,
but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.

What is the character of a fool? The fool trusts his own heart, listens to his own counsel, and relies on his own strength and sufficiency. He trusts the good opinion he has of himself as if he had earned righteousness, yet he has deceived…

Proverbs 28:27

Whoever gives to the poor will not want,
but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.

Matthew Henry’s commentary states, "He that gives to the poor shall himself be never the poorer. If he have but little, let him give out of his little. If he have much, let him give much out of it, he and his shall not want…

Each week this summer in WOW (Wide Open World), Tenth kids are focusing on a different country where one of our global partners works. Students are sent home with a sheet profiling our partner and his work and another sheet helping them connect to that country’s culture. We encourage families to pray specifically for the partner family of the week and to help their children further explore. This

Proverbs 28:28

When the wicked rise, people hide themselves,
but when they perish, the righteous increase.

The writer of the book of Proverbs will sometimes just watch. He will observe. He will notice. Such is the case with this proverb. When wicked rulers come to power, people will hide. They will run away. They will look to become invisible. They will seek to stay far…

Proverbs 29:1

He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck,
will suddenly be broken beyond healing.

Who in your life is a pain in the neck? Don’t answer that! The issue before us in this proverb is not family members, friends, or neighbors whom we might regard as a pain. The issue before us in this proverb is the pain that we sometimes inflict…

Proverbs 29:2 

When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
but when the wicked rule, the people groan.

A couple of days ago we looked at Proverbs 28:28, "When the wicked rise, people hide themselves, but when they perish, the righteous increase." Proverbs 29:2 provides a kind of flip-side observation: "When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan."

A…

Proverbs 29:3 

He who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.

When I was twelve years old, I played Little League baseball. I was not a particularly good hitter, but there was this one at bat that I will always remember. It was the time that I hit my only home run right over the center field fence. My…

Proverbs 29:4 

By justice a king builds up the land,
but he who exacts gifts tears it down.

A ruler who rules justly builds up his land. He encourages and blesses his people. This was true in the days of the Israel’s divinely ordained theocracy, and it is true today of governments of every variety. The promotion of justice fostered by those in authority is…

September

Proverbs 29:5

A man who flatters his neighbor
spreads a net for his feet.

Be careful of flattery! Someone may be flattering you or you may be flattering someone else. To flatter someone is to commend others either for the good they do in life or for the goods they have. In reality, however, the praise you give others may not be as good as you…

Proverbs 29:6

An evil man is ensnared in his transgression,
but a righteous man sings and rejoices.

My mother often reminded me growing up that one of the dangers of sin is that if committed once, it often is very easy, unless confessed and repented of, to commit the same sin again and again and again. After awhile, the sin becomes a habit, and our…

Not Just a Soup Kitchen is David Apple's newest book for churches desperately seeking answers on how to do diaconal ministry effectively. It provides the practical tools and instructions Christians need to serve God effectively in ministry of mercy and compassion.  The book doesn’t provide scholastic tools, but real life how-to information based on the experiences of success and failure. David will be holding a book signing at Tenth on September 21, at 1

Proverbs 29:7

A righteous man knows the rights of the poor;
a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.

What are the reasons for poverty in the world? Sometimes I ask my students that question, and frequently the answer is that they are poor because they are not even seeking work. It is an easy assumption, and though this may be the case, it certainly…

Proverbs 29:8

Scoffers set a city aflame,
but the wise turn away wrath.

Who would you rather have in your immediate community? A scoffer? Or a wise man? Obviously, we would rather have one who seeks to build up the public arenas rather than one who tears down the community. Poverbs 29:8 contrasts these two and their contribution (or lack thereof) to the fabric of…

Proverbs 29:9

If a wise man has an argument with a fool,
the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.

Is it worth our time and energy to dispute with a foolish man?  We can all, no doubt, remember having to discuss and seek some resolution with one who had no intention to come to an agreement. Proverbs 29:9 directs the wise…

Proverbs 29:10

Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless,
and seek the life of the upright.

Anyone who has ever been to summer camp knows that there is one camper in every cabin who is the goody-two-shoes. They, usually unintentionally, spoil every prank or unsafe (but thrilling) activity by telling the counselor everything and, thus, become the object of loathing by the more mischievous campers…

Proverbs 29:11

A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
but a wise man quietly holds it back.

The proverbs are full of vivid contrasts, especially between the foolish and the wise. The picture painted in this proverb contrasts the fool—who never has a thought or emotion that he doesn’t express in words or actions—with the wise man—who is measured and prudent in giving voice…

Proverbs 29:12

If a ruler listens to falsehood,
all his officials will be wicked.

One of the common sense rules of economics is that supply often follows demand. When, for example, the iPhone created a huge demand for smartphones, dozens of others manufacturers attempted to fill the market with a supply of smartphones of varying quality. That same principle is the point of today's proverb…

Proverbs 29:13

The poor man and the oppressor meet together;
the LORD gives light to the eyes of both.

The book of Proverbs is very concerned with righteous and compassionate treatment of the poor and the downtrodden. This verse echoes several other proverbs that get at a similar message. The English Standard Version (ESV) gives a very literal translation of this verse that is, perhaps in this…

Proverbs 29:14

If a king faithfully judges the poor,
his throne will be established forever.

As Americans, most of us probably feel far removed from monarchy. Our presidents and other elected officials serve for limited terms that never go on forever. This was not true in Old Testament Israel and the nations that surrounded it: the ideal was for a king to rule for many…

This week in Proverbs is about discipline. Discipline is necessary because our hearts are wicked and inclined in the wrong direction. Through discipline comes wisdom and from wisdom comes righteousness and peace. In all this we must remember that Christ is our wisdom and righteousness and the Bringer of Peace. 

Proverbs 29:15

The rod and reproof give wisdom,
but a child left to himself brings shame to…

This week in Proverbs is about discipline. Discipline is necessary because our hearts are wicked and inclined in the wrong direction. Through discipline comes wisdom and from wisdom comes righteousness and peace. In all this we must remember that Christ is our wisdom and righteousness and the Bringer of Peace. 

Proverbs 29:16

When the wicked increase, transgression increases,
but the righteous will look upon their downfall. 

This week in Proverbs is about discipline. Discipline is necessary because our hearts are wicked and inclined in the wrong direction. Through discipline comes wisdom and from wisdom comes righteousness and peace. In all this we must remember that Christ is our wisdom and righteousness and the Bringer of Peace.

Proverbs 29:17

Discipline your son, and he will give you rest;
he will give delight to your…

This week in Proverbs is about discipline. Discipline is necessary because our hearts are wicked and inclined in the wrong direction. Through discipline comes wisdom and from wisdom comes righteousness and peace. In all this we must remember that Christ is our wisdom and righteousness and the Bringer of Peace.

Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint,
but blessed is he…

This week in Proverbs is about discipline. Discipline is necessary because our hearts are wicked and inclined in the wrong direction. Through discipline comes wisdom and from wisdom comes righteousness and peace. In all this we must remember that Christ is our wisdom and righteousness and the Bringer of Peace.

 

Proverbs 29:19

By mere words a servant is not disciplined,
for though he understands,…

Proverbs 29:20

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.

The one who is hasty with his words is prideful, conceited, and possibly, contentious. Scripture tells us, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint . . .”…

Proverbs 29:21

Whoever pampers his servant from childhood
will in the end find him his heir. 

Webster’s Dictionary defines pamper: "to cater excessively to someone or to his or her desires or feelings." To pamper is to gratify appetites, tastes, or desires—to indulge, spoil, coddle, mollycoddle (archaic), and baby. Indulgence suggests excessive lenience. Spoil, coddle and mollycoddle point to overprotective care that often leads to weakening…

Proverbs 29:22

A man of wrath stirs up strife,
and one given to anger causes much transgression.

Wrathful people are difficult people. They “stir up strife.” They cause trouble for us and others. They bully, act aggressively critical, and puff themselves up. Their behavior is the result of choices, and they choose to live with unhealthy choices. Difficult people go past the limits of decent behavior…

Proverbs 29:23

One’s pride will bring him low,
but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. 

The prideful person will, indeed, “bring himself low” because of his behavior. This person is quick-tempered, boastful, arrogant, and rude. He insists on his own way, is resentful, rejoices in wrong-doing, and puffs himself up. Pride’s behavior is the opposite of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

Honorable is…

Proverbs 29:24  

The partner of a thief hates his own life;
he hears the curse, but discloses nothing.

If you’ve seen the TV show Law and Order, you have observed people aiding and abetting criminals by refusing to testify or actually perjuring themselves from the witness stand. Those people stand condemned if caught in their wrong-doing (TV never calls this a sin). The context of this proverb has to…

Proverbs 29:25

The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.

We all, if we are really honest, must confess to “fearing man” at one time or another in our life, whether it is a coach or an employer or a teacher. We were tempted to think that if we said something or did something that these people did not…

Proverbs 29:26

Many seek the face of a ruler,
but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice.

How do people hope to succeed and advance up the corporate or educational ladder today? Most feel, there is no better way than knowing someone who can help you. As we say, “It is not what you know, but who you know,” that determines our…

October

Proverbs 29:27 

An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous,
but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.

When I used to change the engine oil in my car, I would sometimes leave the old oil outside. After it rained, I noticed that a pool of water would collect on top of the oil but would never mix with it…

Proverbs 30:1-4

The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.

The man declares, I am weary, O God;
I am weary, O God, and worn out.
Surely I am too stupid to be a man.
I have not the understanding of a man.
I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has ascended…

Proverbs 30:5-6 

Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

In yesterday’s devotional we saw that when Agur received wisdom, he realized his own unworthiness before God. Proverbs 30:4 reminds us that to know God is to know…

Proverbs 30: 7-9

Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty or riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you and say,
“Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal and…

Proverbs 30:10

Do not slander a servant to his master,
lest he curse you and you be held guilty.

Slander is very damaging, and its effects can linger for many years. It can take the form of an outright lie; it can be an exaggeration of a supposed offense; it can be an accurate description of an event without considering the consequences; it can have…

Proverbs 30: 11-14

There are those who curse their fathers
and do not bless their mothers.
There are those who are clean in their own eyes
but are not washed of their filth.
There are those-how lofty are their eyes,
how high the eyelids lift!
There are those whose teeth are swords,
whose fangs are knives,
to devour the poor…

Proverbs 30: 15-16

The leech has two daughters;
“Give and Give”, they cry.
Three things are never satisfied;
four never say, “Enough”:
Sheol, the barren womb,
the land never satisfied with water,
and the fire that never says, “Enough”.

We are given here vivid pictures from nature and life that illustrate a perpetual hungering for more; not so much from…

Proverbs 30:17

The eye that mocks a father
and scorns to obey a mother
will be picked out by the ravens of the valley
and eaten by the vultures.

Hopefully, you are not eating your breakfast while reading this graphic verse from Proverbs today! The Lord really does not like it when parents are dishonored, and the penalty can be quite violent.  Disrespect…

Proverbs 30:18-20

There are three things that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand:  
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden.  

This is the way of an adulteress:

Proverbs 30:21-23

Under three things the earth trembles;
under four it cannot bear up:  
a slave when he becomes king,
and a fool when he is filled with food;  
an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress.

Do you know how to prevent earthquakes from occurring? Foundations from crumbling? The writer speaks…

Proverbs 30:24-28

Four things on earth are small,
but they are exceedingly wise:
the ants are a people not strong,
yet they provide their food in the summer;  
the rock badgers are a people not mighty,
yet they make their homes in the cliffs;  
the locusts have no king,
yet all of them march in rank;  
the lizard…

Proverbs 30:29-31

Three things are stately in their tread;
four are stately in their stride:  
the lion, which is mightiest among beasts
and does not turn back before any;  
the strutting rooster, the he-goat,
and a king whose army is with him. 

The lion is a mighty one, and does not turn back down from the face of other beasts…

Proverbs 30:32-33  

If you have been foolish, exalting yourself,
or if you have been devising evil,
put your hand on your mouth.  
For pressing milk produces curds,
pressing the nose produces blood,
and pressing anger produces strife.

Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase reads, "If you're dumb enough to call attention to yourself by offending people and making rude gestures, don't be surprised…

Proverbs 31:1-2

The words of King Lemuel.

An oracle that his mother taught him:
What are you doing, my son?
What are you doing, son of my womb?
What are you doing, son of my vows?

The book of Proverbs started with wise words from a Father to his son and now concludes with the godly wisdom of a mother to…

Proverbs 31:8-9

Open your mouth for the mute, 
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

This first section of the last chapter of Proverbs concludes with the effects of godly wisdom. In this case words of a mother to her son.  Some more parental advice!

When the…

Proverbs 31:10-12

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.

Here’s the section of scripture that puts most married women on a guilt trip. Who can live…

Proverbs 31:13-16

She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food or her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a…

Proverbs 31:17 and 25

She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.

Once again, how do Christian women not read this and feel woefully out of shape in every way? This Proverbs woman looks intimidating in body and spirit!

Ladies, if you look at this description through Hollywood lenses…

Proverbs 31:23 and 26

Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Have you ever been complimented by someone for an impact you had on their lives and been surprised? It could have been a small gesture of kindness or the…

Proverbs 31:27

She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

This Proverbs 31 excellent wife is not some writer’s concocted ideal of the “Barbie Doll” woman that is totally unrealistic. She is a real woman with real challenges. She is also a woman of real character.

In this brief description we see a godly…

Proverbs 31:28

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her.

To read this verse for many wives and mothers is a painful thing. It can bring up emotions of guilt and frustration. The challenge of motherhood is a precious yet heavy burden. So many times messages from the children are not blessings but disappointment and even rebellion.

Proverbs 31:30

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

What is the true beauty of a woman that can never be taken away? That kind of beauty comes primarily from within, and the source of it must be the fear of the Lord. The theme of the scriptures is more about our inward character…

November

December