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Archive for the ‘Comparing Scripture’ Category


Proverbs 22-24: The Cure

Friday, August 18, 2017

The cure for what ails us comes through the discipline to follow the rules laid out for us. The writers remind us of the basic tenets of good living. Later in the Gospel story, Jesus’ words and actions remind us that God’s wisdom is so often the reverse of our own.

It’s wrong, very wrong,
    to go along with injustice.

Whoever whitewashes the wicked
    gets a black mark in the history books,
But whoever exposes the wicked
    will be thanked and rewarded.

The practical precepts of Proverbs follow.

  1. Don’t walk on the poor just because they’re poor, and don’t use your position to crush the weak . . .
  2. Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads . . .
  3. Don’t gamble on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or hock your house against a lucky chance . . .
  4. Don’t stealthily move back the boundary lines staked out long ago by your ancestors . . .
  5. Observe people who are good at their work—skilled workers are always in demand and admired . . .
  6. When you go out to dinner with an influential person,mind your manners . . .
  7. Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich; restrain yourself!
  8. Don’t accept a meal from a tightwad; don’t expect anything special . . .
  9. Don’t bother talking sense to fools; they’ll only poke fun at your words . . .
  10. Don’t cheat orphans out of their property, for they have a powerful Advocate
    who will go to bat for them . . .
  11. Give yourselves to disciplined instruction; open your ears to tested knowledge . . .
  12. Don’t be afraid to correct your young ones . . .
  13. Dear child, if you become wise, I’ll be one happy parent . . .
  14. Don’t for a minute envy careless rebels . . .
  15. Oh listen, dear child—become wise; point your life in the right direction. Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat . . .
  16. Listen with respect to the father who raised you, and when your mother grows old, don’t neglect her . . .
  17. A loose woman can get you in deep trouble fast . . .
  18. Don’t judge wine by its label, or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor . . .
  19. Don’t envy bad people . . .
  20. It takes wisdom to build a house, and understanding to set it on a firm foundation . . .
  21. It’s better to be wise than strong . . .
  22. Wise conversation is way over the head of fools . . .
  23. Fools incubate sin; cynics desecrate beauty . . .
  24. If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place . . .
  25. Rescue the perishing; don’t hesitate to step in and help . . .
  26. Knowledge and wisdom for your soul—get that and your future’s secured,
    your hope is on solid rock . . .
  27. Don’t interfere with good people’s lives; don’t try to get the best of them . . .
  28. Don’t laugh when your enemy falls; don’t crow over his collapse . . .
  29. Don’t bother your head with braggarts or wish you could succeed like the wicked . . .
  30. Fear God, dear child—respect your leaders . . .

Heavy doses of humility and generosity bring us the cure that heals all that divides us from God and on another. When we compare varying translations of these verses, we find the ingredients of the remedy that restores us.

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Proverbs 21: Motivation

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Good leadership is a channel of water controlled by God;
     God directs it to whatever ends God chooses.

We justify our actions by appearances;
    God examines our motives.

Over the last few weeks, we have examined twenty chapters of sound advice and we have discovered much to ponder and much to celebrate. Today we remind ourselves that even when we try to deceive ourselves with appearances or quick fixes, the God who created us knows our most secret desires and motivations. We do well today to explore God’s wisdom and love in these verses.

Clean living with God and justice between neighbors are traits of wise living while arrogance and pride describe the wicked. Besides being practical, careful planning brings us more exposure to wisdom than does a hurry-scurry life. Lying and cheating lead only to smoke and death. Doing our best and preparing for the worst, learning by listening rather than talking, tending to the poor, celebrating justice, and trusting God are all signs of a wise. An addiction to thrills brings us to a congregation of ghosts, and the evil we plot will only boomerang on us, the plotters.

Watch your words and hold your tongues.

We can easily agree with this practical advice but the proposition posed today is this: what motivates us to life authentically and to avoid deceit?

The writers of Proverbs understand that we cannot fake fidelity. We cannot pretend that we have hope. And we are incapable of loving our enemies if this love dos not come from the heart.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus, we have an opportunity to explore our motivation for practical living.

For a post on God’s valentine to us, click on the image above. 

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Proverbs 20: Deep Water

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Quick-tempered leaders, blabbermouths and gossips, rebels and dolts. These are our neighbors and friends, and perhaps even ourselves, who are featured in today’s lesson from Proverbs.

Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart;
    a wise person draws from the well within. (MSG)

Rigging scales in the marketplace, cursing the light, seeking revenge, boasting of bargains, padding expense accounts, switching price tags. These actions are part of today’s advice from Proverbs.

A person’s thoughts are like water in a deep well, but someone with insight can draw them out. (GNT)

A farmer too lazy to plow, people making impulsive vows, fools picking fights. How do we handle the awkward people and circumstances we encounter each day? How do we guard against falling into these activities that clearly are not part of kingdom building.

The heart’s real intentions are like deep water;
    but a person with discernment draws them out. (CJB)

Today we find more practical advice about how to navigate the deep waters that ebb and swirl in our lives. Today we have a chance to discover the warning signs of  deep currents.

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Proverbs 19: Listening

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What happens if we decide that God does not exist and we stop listening for the voice within that longs to serve and love us? The writers of Proverbs have anticipated that question, and they provide insight today.

Verses describing the poor and powerless versus the wealthy and influential ring as true today as they did when they were written. Practical advice about how to manager the differences between classes mixes with words to parents and others. Then the writer make a simple, clear suggestion about how to proceed.

Grow a wise heart—you’ll do yourself a favor;
    keep a clear head—you’ll find a good life.

A wise heart and a clear head . . .

We remember that God’s Wisdom comes with active listening and patience. We also know that struggling against evil and hoping to win is often more than we can endure. Our energy flames out like the sparks that rise from a bonfire. The writers advise us in verse 19.

Let angry people endure the backlash of their own anger;
    if you try to make it better, you’ll only make it worse.

So what then, do we do when confronted with evil and riddled with anxiety?

Once we pause to realize that we cannot combat the darkness on our own, we finally decide to relax into Christ’s open and willing arms. Once we recognize that the Spirit has more power than we do on our own, we are able to listen again for the voice that both guides and protects. Once we surrender to the Creator’s persistent hope and love, we decide that listening is the first step in open communication.

Toward the end of this Chapter, we find this bit of golden advice.

If you quit listening, dear child, and strike off on your own,
    you’ll soon be out of your depth.

Once we determine to listen patiently and carefully, we find the calm in the storm that we have been so ardently seeking.

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we find the strength and wisdom to listen once again.

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Proverbs 18: Fool or Friend 

William Merritt Chase: The Court Jester

Monday, August 14, 2017

As we resume our journey through the Book of Proverbs, we continue to find strength in the practical advice that sits just under our noses.

Loners who care only for themselves
    spit on the common good.

We know that together we find strength while alone we languish.

When wickedness arrives, shame’s not far behind;
    contempt for life is contemptible.

Truth always makes herself visible, no matter the circumstances.

The words of a fool start fights;
    do him a favor and gag him.

There is no point in mincing words. Fools reveal themselves.

Pride first, then the crash,
    but humility is precursor to honor.

We know that humility is the hallmark of one who lives the Gospel.

Wise men and women are always learning,
    always listening for fresh insights.

Knowledge brings understanding, and understanding can lead to love for our enemies.

Do a favor and win a friend forever;
    nothing can untie that bond.

Friends can bolster us when we are down; they encourage us when our strength ebbs.

Friends come and friends go,
    but a true friend sticks by you like family.

When we compare these verses from THE MESSAGE translation with other versions, we have the tools we need to discern whether those who surround us are fools or friends.

 

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Proverbs 17: A Whack on the Head 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A friend of mine once spoke of her belief that God has to get louder when we persist in ignoring the voice that calls us. God may have to hit us over the head, she once observed, if that is the only way we will listen. This Chapter of Proverbs seems to affirm that belief. In THE MESSAGE translation of verses 1-16, we find the subtitle, A Whack on the Head. The verses we find there are nuggets of gold in present societies around the world.

Whitewashing bad people and throwing mud on good people
    are equally abhorrent to God.

Too many political, social and religious leaders step forward with the hope that their followers will make excuses for serious conflicts of interest and lack of expertise. Too many followers are happy to oblige.

What’s this? Fools out shopping for wisdom!
    They wouldn’t recognize it if they saw it!

So many hopeful leaders put aside the school of life and ignore the lessons life brings them. So many followers look for information that affirms their already-established views rather than winnowing through too much information and then making sound decisions.

Verses 17-28 of this Chapter carry the subtitle, One Who Knows Much Says Little. How wise we might be if we took the advice we find here. We spend a great deal of time, energy, and funds looking for wisdom when it is so often close at hand. We travel great distances searching for gurus and sages. We spend large amounts of our physical, fiscal and mental resources looking for quick fixes when the simple strategy of trusting God is always at hand.

The perceptive find wisdom in their own front yard;
    fools look for it everywhere but right here.

We avoid conflict or bull our way through tumult rather than allowing God to carry us in Christ’s open and generous arms. We put aside our relationship with the Spirit in order to spend more time with the world. This Chapter of proverbs has advice that is well worth our time and energy.

Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise;
    as long as they keep their mouths shut, they’re smart.

Today, let us consider the words we think and say, and the actions we do and do not complete. And let us determine to live always by trusting the wisdom of God more than we trust our own.

When we compare varying translations of these verses, we allow them to awaken us as if they were a whack on the head.

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Proverbs 15: God Misses Nothing 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Too many Christians live their days and struggle through their nights worrying over their sins. They parse definitions, arguing about the meaning of original sin, and so they miss the gift of original grace God gives us each day. The writer of Proverbs suggests God’s goodness.

A gentle response defuses anger,
    but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.

But lest we believe that we might behave badly without God knowing, the writer also reminds us that

God doesn’t miss a thing—
    God is alert to good and evil alike.

We find references to God’s disgust, anger, and maintenance of distance from humans; but as New Testament people we know that what God desires more from us. God asks that we love our enemies because loving our friends is not enough. And through all our daily interactions with family, friends and colleagues, we remember that God is always with us in a warm and loving embrace . . . even if we do not feel this presence.

Last week, Richard Rohr, OFM, posed to the readers of his daily reflections that beautiful promise that, Jesus came to give us the courage to tryst and allow our inherent union with God, and he modeled it for us in this world. Union is not merely a place we go to later – if we are good. It is a place of deep goodness that we naturally exist inside of – now”.  (Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation. Web. 28 July 2017.)

Even hell holds no secrets from God
    do you think God can’t read human hearts?

Today we have an opportunity to examine our relationship with God and those whom God has created, knowing that God misses nothing.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these verses, we find opportunities to draw nearer to God, knowing that God reads all hearts, and invites all to live in divine union.

Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation. Web. 28 July 2017. <https://cac.org/category/daily-meditations/2017/07/&gt;

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Proverbs 14: Lady Wisdom and Sir Fool 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Melanie Rogers: Portrait of Lady Wisdom

We have visited this chapter of Proverbs before during Lent to see if we might use these axioms to help us examine our lives. Today we reprise this thinking.

The title of this chapter in THE MESSAGE translation is, “The Road that leads to Hell,” and it begins with these verses.

Lady Wisdom builds a lovely home;
    Sir Fool comes along and tears it down brick by brick.

Just when we believe we have found sure footing, Sir Fool comes along to tempt us out of our commitment to living in Christ. The writers reference frivolous talk, derisive smiles, false witnessing, cynicism, and ridicule.

There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough;
    look again—it leads straight to hell.
Sure, those people appear to be having a good time,
    but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.

As a counterweight to destructive behavior, an opposing way of living presents itself. Positive advice open-mindedness, true witness, honesty, a strong ox for the plow, and holy living. And amid all these axioms we find this nugget.

The person who shuns the bitter moments of friends
    will be an outsider at their celebrations.

The advice to abide with those who suffer is a harbinger to the words and actions Jesus offers as he preaches and lives out the Beatitudes.

John Watson Nicol: The Court Jester

In verses 14-35, we again hear the recommendation to sift and weigh every word. We do well to remember that meanness, keeping the company of fools, putting prudence aside, making decisions with hot heads and cold hearts, ignoring the needy, subscribing to conspiracy, and exploiting the powerless are all actions that bring our own demise. And again, this negative way of living is balanced against the positive. A final reminder calls us to think about what we are doing, and to act with understanding, integrity, honesty, and holiness.

Lady Wisdom is at home in an understanding heart—
    fools never even get to say hello.

Today we have the opportunity to reflect again on what we do and why we do it. Do we wish to greet and abide with Lady Wisdom or Sir Fool?

Find the Beatitudes at Matthew 5:1-12, and enter the word into the blog search bar for reflections on this Law of Love. 

When we compare other translations of these verses, we explore the difference between Lady Wisdom and Sir Fool. To visit another Noontimes post on this chapter, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/2015/03/13/proverbs-14-axioms-for-living/

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Proverbs 13: Walk With the Wise

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Book of Proverbs is a compilation of refrains that come to us over the centuries. We avoid their advice at our own peril; we integrate their lessons for our own good, and for the good of all.

Intelligent children listen to their parents;
    foolish children do their own thing.

Whether we see ourselves as wise or foolish, there is always something to learn from our elders; wisdom is, after all, the patience to listen for, and to respond positively to God’s Word.

Careful words make for a careful life;
    careless talk may ruin everything.

A good person hates false talk;
    a bad person wallows in gibberish.

We know that words matter. Harsh words create anxiety and deepen rifts while positive words enrich our lives and open us to transformation.

A pretentious, showy life is an empty life;
    a plain and simple life is a full life.

The lives of good people are brightly lit streets;
    the lives of the wicked are dark alleys.

Societies based on profit have difficulty understanding God’s goodness. Cultures with structures that care for the marginalized will give preference to the poor when making decisions. Do we live in dark alleys or on brightly lit streets?

 Arrogant know-it-alls stir up discord,
    but wise men and women listen to each other’s counsel.

Easy come, easy go,
    but steady diligence pays off.

We know that humility is the best foundation for a fruitful life. Openness to Jesus as The Word of God brings us the persistence, fortitude, and hope we will need to serve as disciples of Christ.

Ignore the Word and suffer;
    honor God’s commands and grow rich.

Sound thinking makes for gracious living,
    but liars walk a rough road.

Honesty in all our ways may be difficult but trustworthiness comes with great efforts. While we may temporarily deceive those from whom we hide, we know that ultimately the truth will always come forward.

Become wise by walking with the wise;
    hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.

Scholars believe that the Book of Proverbs is a gathering of sayings brought together after the exile experience of the people of Israel. After huge loss and great difficulty, the faithful discover that both their actions and their words matter deeply. They also know that nothing and no one hides from the Creator. As New Testament people, we have as a model the actions of Jesus as he lives out The Word of God. As Easter people, we have the presence and consolation of the Spirit to buoy us up when we are lost or frightened. For all of these reasons, let us decide to walk with the wise rather than play with the foolish.

Today’s verses are taken from THE MESSAGE translation of the Bible. When we compare other translations of these words, we find that the difference between the wise and foolish is not that difficult to distinguish.

 

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