“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Billy Graham would often quote this saying of Jim Elliot, to emphasize that people who live this life for this life, will risk losing eternity… One of the greatest stumbling blocks for men of this generation is the sin of pride. Believing that they know better than God, or that God is an a la carte amalgam of morals and values that they choose, instead of what God has decreed. I pray that everyone studies the Word for themselves, instead of relying upon teachers that may not have the leading of Christ, or desire to serve that they should, to elevate themselves to the position they hold.

James 4:14 states well and true: “…What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

Do not depend upon others to do what God has enabled you to do for yourselves. Admit your sins, accept Christ as the one true path to eternal salvation… then learn, live and breathe His Word. The more you read the Word the more your hearts will be opened, the greater the strength and influence His Spirit can have in your life.

Don’t let pride be a barrier to you and your salvation. Humble yourself before God, because you can not fool him, nor pay lip service when you are falling into the crevasse and expect salvation to be granted.  

–Patrick L. Francis

To Rebuke is to Love – Proverbs 27:5-6

Proverbs 27:5-6 spoke to me:

Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses.

In our politically correct society, people often say to only speak kind words to one another, and to never criticize each other. However here in Proverbs, Solomon, who was granted wisdom by God, says something entirely different. Those of us who were reared during the times of “tough love,” or when punishment was given for wrongdoings, can better understand Solomon’s intent with these passages than those who have been raised in different times.

“Open rebuke” in verse 5 is best defined as when someone provides honest criticism, or disapproval of the action of another. For example, historically one of my failings was the common use of vulgarity, because I spent a great deal of my life in a culture where that behavior was considered normal and accepted. While I have always believed in God, I never considered the use of “colorful metaphors” to be against God, until someone recommended that I research our Bible more deeply to see if perhaps there might be something contrary to my belief. So several years ago I did just that, and found that in the Book of Proverbs, our current reading assignment, there are 25 verse referencing our “mouth” in one form or another. Indeed Jesus himself said: “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Therefore the person who loved me enough to rebuke me, helped guide me closer to the path of righteousness!

This brings us to verse 6, which may not be as direct, or clearly understood as verse 5. Essentially what Solomon is saying here is that there is value in reproof. Let’s re-examine the verse again:

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Here “wounds from a friend” is referencing where someone loves you enough to correct you when you perform an action that is against the intent of God. Perhaps he could have stated it better something like this “A friend who corrects you out of love can be trusted.” If someone truly loved you, would they ignore your sins, or would they try to guide you back to the path of righteousness?

An “enemy multiplies kisses” is more obvious. This is something I have found over the years to be common among churches around the country. People will freely gossip behind your back, yet speak praise in front of you. This was one of Jesus’ pet peeves as is demonstrated throughout scripture.

One might round up the thoughts of Solomon in this manner: True friends understand that all are sinners, and attempt to keep one another on the path of righteousness, so that we all may celebrate His Glory together in the Eternal Kingdom!

Whoever Digs a Pit or Rolls a Stone – Synonymous Parallelism

Today I read Proverbs 26 for my daily reading, and within the chapter is an old literary device common to Hebrew Poetry of the time called “Synonymous Parallelism.” So I thought why not share a quick blurb on the idea! The words sound somewhat fancy, but really just mean to say the same thing in two successive lines in a different way. For example the word Synonymous means ‘to have the same meaning,’ and Parallelism means ‘juxtaposed’ or side-by-side.

Here is an example from our reading:

Proverbs 26:27:

Whoever digs a pit will fall into it;

if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them.

These sayings may not mean much to us today, but were similes common to the time.

A simile is nothing more than a figure of speech where you compare one thing with another thing that is different in order to state your idea more clearly or with emphasis. Such as “Crazy like a Fox, or “Brave as a lion” – here [“Crazy” and “Fox”] or [“Brave” and “Lion”] have nothing to do with each other, but help express an idea more fully.. this is a simile.

It helps if we examine each line by itself, in the context of the author’s time.

  1. Why would someone “dig a pit?” Quite simply, to trap an animal, or person
  2. Why would someone “roll a stone?” Stones were rolled to great heights for primitive warfare, literally to drop on someone else.

So what Solomon is saying here, is that if a person works to do harm to another, or institute another form of mischief, the result will inevitably be punishment of themselves. Why? God is a God of justice, and he is always watching. At this time God already clearly decreed to love one another, and to not be foolish (ergo not heeding the His Word). Notice that much of Chapter 26 in proverbs discusses the idea of fools. Here is is simply expounding on the idea that if you are foolish, in trying or working to harm another, harm will inevitably befall you.

We could generally reword the ideas to something like this for ourselves:

Harm will only come to you, if you dig a pit to trap another.

Harm will only come to you if you roll a stone up a hill to drop it on someone else. (doesn’t make as much sense to us today, but you get the idea)

So if you plot or scheme to bring harm to someone else (this can take any form.. physical, mental, emotional, gossip etc..) since God sees everything, you will not escape his Judgment.

Some proverbs are more fun than others… but hopefully you found this tidbit interesting 🙂

Many Are Invited, But Few Are Chosen

I love how the Spirit still teaches me as I read the Word. Matthew 22:14 is often quoted, but rarely fully understood. Of course we can not comprehend God’s true meaning in this life. After the Parable of the Wedding Banquet Jesus says: “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” There is quite a lot in those few words aren’t there?

Jesus said: “Many are invited” [to the Kingdom of Heaven]. Important to note here is that He does not say “all.”

Jesus then said: “but few are chosen” [of those invited] to enter His Kingdom. This might make one consider, why invite someone, if they will not be chosen?

Answer: Free will.

God allows us to choose to submit to the qualities that He defines for acceptance to His Kingdom, however if we refuse and blatantly disregard his decrees, will we be one of the chosen? Can we live in this life without regard for the next? Can we consciously choose to disobey our God and expect to be allowed entry?

We are saved by Faith, but chosen through our works that demonstrate our acceptance of, dedication to, and involvement in the Kingdom of God. Krister Stendahl (New Testament Scholar died 2008) spoke well when he said “Man’s behavior indicates whether he is elect or not.” This is similar to how Jesus said “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles a person.”

It’s amazing how the Spirit can still surprise and inspire me after all these years… Of course our life in His Kingdom is eternal, so I’m just trying to live well now, so that I can make it through the door… Hopefully this little blurb might help you think a little too 

If Your Faith Is True, You Need Not Fear the “End Times.”

There are many who fear and / or preach the “end times,” but unfortunately fail to see the bigger picture, in that we each will face our own end time, as defined by God as he allows us to fulfill the number of our days. You know how people have stolen greatly from me in money, loyalty, property, and spirit, and I have allowed them to do so without fear of recompense, for that is what Jesus would want me to do. Jesus’ brother James said in his epistle “Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen in your life tomorrow. [What is secure in your life?] You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air].” This life that we are all living is nothing but a wisp of vapor in the endless expanse of eternity, so we need not be concerned about building bunkers on earth, but instead, enforce our bunker of Christ through our Faith in Him. If our faith is true, we need not fear the “End Times,” but rather embrace them with open arms, for they signal his second coming that exemplifies the end of our suffering.  

How Can We Save Our Nation, and Ourselves?

Our country has been in a state of moral and ethical decline for many years now, and it has reached a point that people are becoming concerned about civil unrest at a level not seen for some time. Many ask why this could be so, and God has an answer in His Word:

2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV – if my people, who are called by my name,  will humble  themselves and pray and seek my face  and turn  from their wicked ways, then I will hear  from heaven, and I will forgive  their sin and will heal  their land..

The vast majority of people in our nation have lost their humility and love for God, believing that God should live to standards that they decree for Him, instead of what He has decreed for us. That is one of the problems with accepting the gift of Free Will; we have our free will, so we can choose not to obey and suffer the consequences. Here God lays down a simple rule, that for a nation to experience his blessing, (whether that nation be Solomon’s, Ezra’s, or our own) those who have been chosen to be His people must cease from their sins, turn from living lives of proud self-centeredness, pray to the Lord, and yield their desires to his Word and his will. Then, and only then, will he a grant heaven-sent revival.

Our Human Spirit Is The Lamp Of The Lord

Proverbs 20:27 spoke to me this evening 😎… There is so much in this scripture, that even after reading it, and the commentary, I feel it is worth further study. Here is the NIV version:
 
The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord
that sheds light on one’s inmost being.
 
Now the NRSV version:
The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord,
searching every inmost part.
 
Notice the difference in the translations. NRSV says our Spirit is searching, yet the NIV hints at our Spirit exposing our inner nature… After reading two separate commentaries, my current thoughts are that Solomon is saying when God breathed His life into us, he left a part of Himself, or His Spirit within us, as Genesis attests. However, what else might Solomon be saying? Since I have felt His Spirit, literally, when I was healed on the altar, I can say that feeling is… otherworldly, and indescribable… I feel, but do not know for certain, that the main reason God decided to open His Spirit and heal me, is that when I was praying on the alter, when I was suffering, I humbled myself so deeply and thoroughly, the God knew not only was my repentance real, but my humility finally let Me know, that I can not, and do not wish to live without Him. Thus, our battle as human beings, and His creations, is between the temptation of the Flesh, and our acceptance of His gift that is within all of us. Therefore, if we accept His gift, His Light shines within us. ❤️
 
These are just my current thoughts on the verse… It is a good one… Below are two commentaries that you may find useful if you have read this far 😇
 
Expositor’s Bible Commentary
Conscience that searches motives. God provides everyone with a spirit that can evaluate actions and motives. The Hebrew literally says that the “breath” is the lamp of the Lord (see NIV note–the NIV interprets it differently and supplies “searches”). The “breath” (or “spirit”) is that inner spiritual part of human life that was inbreathed at Creation (Ge 2:7) and that constitutes humans as spiritual beings with moral, intellectual, and spiritual capacities. This spiritual nature includes the capacity to know and please God–it serves as the functioning conscience (the metaphor of “lamp”). This point is further developed in the second part; the searching makes it possible for people to know themselves. If one’s spiritual life is functioning properly (i.e., yielded to God through salvation and controlled by his word [Heb 4:12]), then there should be increasingly less self-deception or indifference to righteousness.
 
Understanding the Bible Commentary
The Hebrew of verse 27a is ambiguous, as the margin of the NIV attests. The marginal reading is to be preferred. It seems to mean that the life-breath from God, by which a person lives (cf. Gen. 2:7; Job 32:8), penetrates to the very interior of a person. This could be taken as a warning, but better, as a consoling indication of how intimate God is to humans (“more intimate to me than I am to myself,” as St. Augustine said). This is not merely the voice of conscience.
 
✝️

Hate The Sin, Love the Sinner

I’m so glad Life Changing Realities Fellowship assigned readings from Proverbs… It is good to review them again, and again… King Solomon was beloved by God, because when God asked him what he wanted, he did not ask for immortality, or riches, but simply wisdom… and it was granted. It’s amazing how his thoughts written between 970-930 B.C. are fundamental cores of morality that have been lost in what we consider “advanced civilization.” I’m constantly amazed at how being right, and good, and true are perceived as being incompatible with technological advancements, when in reality the opposite is true. Tonight a few things spoke to me in our assigned reading, and one is truth… meaning, have you ever been around someone that you know was lying, and it made you feel ‘funny’ inside, or maybe an ill feeling? That is your righteousness struggling to get out. I never really thought about it, but tonight we were assigned Proverbs 13 and verse 3 states: “The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.” My first thought was it seemed odd that King Solomon, beloved of the Lord, would use the word “hate” when referencing the righteous; but then it hit me. King Solomon was not saying that the righteous hate the people who lie, we hate the sin, and that is true. I’ve found it to become quite commonplace of late that people pretending to be righteous, everyone from Preachers, or those pretending to be, long-standing Christians, well anyone really, seems to accept a lie as “normal” and “acceptable” behavior. For me it is important to try very hard to stay on the path of righteousness, because as soon as a foot slips from the path, the fall becomes entirely too easy. So if you feel “something” when you sin, or see someone sin, then you have hope, because that feeling is your soul’s desire for righteousness struggling to come out! Good read tonight 😀✝️🌞

Mockers Seek Validation

Proverbs 14:6 (NIV)
The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none,
but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.

Proverbs 14:6 (NRSV)
A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain,
but knowledge is easy for one who understands.

Tonight’s assigned reading by Life Changing Realities Fellowship is a good example of why reading more than one translation can help expand the intent of the author. 🤠 Both the NIV and NRSV translations seem adequate, but an examination of both helps us see that King Solomon was comparing a “mocker” or “Scoffer” to a discerning person. Something that helps me broaden my understanding, is to think of his concept in this manner: a person who seeks knowledge in a pure pursuit, is one who seeks comprehension and not adulation. This is another example of how nearly 3,000 years ago in Solomon’s time, people acted quite similarly to what they do today. Often times I will find that the people who speak the loudest, and with the most vigor, have the least amount of knowledge that they wish to convey. So why do people scoff, or mock? Quite simply, in many cases it is an attempt for self-validation. If one can convince another that they are more knowledgeable on a subject than they really are, their insecurities are lessened (albeit through a false premise), but that act of self-validation improves one’s own self-worth resulting in an expansion of inner-peace. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary has this in the reference about Proverbs 14:6 – [a mocker] pursues wisdom only in a superficial way so that he might have the appearance of being wise…. I enjoy comparing The Expositor’s Commentary with other commentaries as well… but a lesson I have learned from Solomon this evening might be something like this: Have someone love you for who you are, not who you want them to believe you to be! Good read tonight! 😇👍✝️❤️

Fools Speak The Loudest

Another good reading tonight in Proverbs 18. It is simply amazing how nearly 3,000 years ago King Solomon, beloved of the Lord, took the time to write down his thoughts that were relevant then, that are still so very relevant today. It is a true testament to human nature that after thousands of years our faults have stood the test of time. Have we advanced as a people… as a species? Is technology the true test of the advancements of a society, or is morality a truer test, especially since we have the wisdom of the ages available to us as a guide.

Something that the Spirit pointed out to me today is Proverbs 18:2, which relates to a previous passage in Proverbs 12:23.

Proverbs 18:2 (NIV)- Fools find no pleasure in understanding
but delight in airing their own opinions.

Proverbs 12:23 (NIV)- One who is clever conceals knowledge,
but the mind of a fool broadcasts folly.

In my life I have had the privilege of living in many areas, which has allowed me to be exposed to a variety of our cultures and customs. No matter a person’s color, accent, dialect, or level of employment, what defines a person is much more than meets the eye. The wisdom of Solomon can be found through a homeless man on the streets of a city, while the heights of depravity can be found in the tallest building. King Solomon prayed to God for wisdom, and it was granted. Here in Proverbs 18:2, something that seems obvious in the reading we have all probably run across at some point in time; and that is ‘he who speaks the loudest usually has the least to say’. What is Solomon saying here? What does he mean that they find no pleasure in understanding? Wisdom is a gift from God if you only choose to seek it, therefore we should revel in the search! However, King Solomon is saying that fools take more pleasure in hearing themselves speak than in acquiring knowledge. Why would this be so?

Most often it is insecurities. Because someone knows that they have not worked for knowledge, or money, or love, or friendship they require validation. What does that mean? Validation is affirmation (support or encouragement) that someone is special, loved, liked, approved, or worthwhile. Because someone knows that they are not what they present themselves to be, they seek validation through others that they are what they pretend, this results in them believing they are liked, which is validation.

Here is the key though, this happened almost three thousand years ago, and it is still happening now. Kind of crazy isn’t it? Here is what the Expositor’s Bible Commentary says on Proverbs 18:2: “Fools and speaking. Fools prefer to give their opinion rather than acquire wisdom. They find “no pleasure in understanding” (i.e., they detest understanding). Instead, they love telling what is on their mind. This is the kind of person who asks questions to show how clever one is rather than to learn.”

So why do I write all this down? I know that few people actually read my posts about Jesus and Salvation. I write them out to clear my thoughts on the subject and share for the few that might like to read them. Something that I have learned in reading the Bible repeatedly, is that Jesus wants us to surround ourselves with good people. Therefore, it is important to fully understand what a good person is, and to find out what that is, we need to read His Word.

Do you have friends that are with you through the bad times and not just the good? I hope so!

Here, Solomon is saying that a good person is not one who pretends to be knowledgeable about something that they aren’t, simply to make themselves look better for someone else. Jesus Christ died for us so that we can be saved through Faith, therefore we should wish to be the best people we can be, not only for our sake, but for Christ’s sake. He is our savior, he is the example we should strive to achieve. We should set the example for him so that others can see His work in Us.