ALL AHEAD FULL

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 Titanic 3

CONFIDENCE: SELF OR GOD?

At some point life may give us responsibility for important things.  Are we really doing a good job or are we operating in self confidence that overlooks important warnings?  Wisdom cries out to warn us of the dangers ahead of us in this life.  What seems like a shortcut or an inconvenience may have a serious cost in the end.  This is our chance to hear the advice of God against our own pride.

Proverbs 11:1-10

1 A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.

Would we expect God to approve of theft or to wink at it?  His people consider others first and show that light to the world.  Those who cheat and steal are not his people at all.  Yet we read daily about people who claim faith and yet overlook basic morality that God demands.

2 When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

I parked my car on top of a pile of snow because my four wheel drive could do it.  After church the brethren had to push me out.  Some wealthy people walk on others because they can.  They are brash and insulting until God wants his accounts to balance.  If he can find wisdom the brethren may teach him the wisdom of humility and save his soul.

3 The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.

The humble may find that wisdom in the fear of God, and it points them to the path of salvation.  But some people also insist on trusting their crafty plotting, strength, or wealth, which all fail to save them.

4 Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.

When the Titanic sank the band played “Nearer my God to thee”.  The poor Irish passengers below shared the same fate as the rich men on deck in this death at sea.  But those who were already humbled to repentance found God and victory in the next life.  When the ship went down , they went up.

5 The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.

We are born in sin, and continue to sin every day.  The only way to be perfect is to be repentant and forgiven by God, so he alone is the perfection that saves us.  Those who ignore this life boat are trying to swim in their own strength.  The cold ice flows and icy waters of life will draw them into the deep.

6 The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.

Being a “Dudley Do-right” is not a fact of nature.  Human nature is born in sin since Adam so we find righteousness only in Messiah.  But that brings the mind of Christ, which cuts through pride and delusions with clarity.  Left to our nature we do what seems right in our own eyes, which is usually leading to shame.

7 When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.

There is wisdom that begins with the fear of God, but it is often rejected for selfish wants.  Without that wisdom from God the man and his eternal hope is doomed.  A little greed will grow into full bloom as the heart of evil.  The fruit of that bloom is a cold death.

8 The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.

With help from God we can live without the fear of death.  As we live in righteousness we are passing the entrance exam for the next life in eternity.  When the road is leading to death God saves the righteous and sends the unjust to that death in his place.

9 An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.

One who claims to be a brother in faith who teaches others to follow him into sin is a curse.  But those who falsely accuse others of sin are just as destructive.  Our words reveal the dark places in our hearts while wisdom reveals a light of hope.

10 When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.

Those who live with courage and honor are celebrated by their community.  But there is an angry cry against those who demonstrate greed, violence, and dishonesty.  For a season we may not know who is walking in the light but there will be a time when the darkness is caught in a revealing glare and it is condemned angrily.

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CITY OF LIFE

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 SECURITY

SECURITY ACHIEVED

Having survived the storms of life, wisdom will bring us safely down from the high dangers to a secure city of life.  There is time for peace and prosperity when we are established in the peace of God.  You will find good company and good times where you go in wisdom.  You may enter into God’s rest with his guidance.

Proverbs 10:21-32

21 The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.

Words can bring life if they come from an honest heart.  Real wisdom can point to prosperity and safety for many.  But those who ignore wisdom cannot prosper because they don’t understand the source of life.

22 The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.

Wisdom is attached to God and he is the author of it.  All science and human relations are built on his foundations.  To flow with that wisdom that begins with the fear of God builds only good rewards with no regrets.

23 It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.

Does a young driver try to intimidate a senior in the cross walk by zooming too close?  Does a joker meet homeland security because of a smoke bomb prank?  Does hazing in colleges result in injuries or overdoses?  Do gossips smear the innocent in our churches and drive people from hope?  Do bullies provoke suicides or homicides?  Do we need to explain the wisdom that stays far from the making of foolishness, or is it obvious by now?

24 The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.

If one is stubborn to remain entrenched in evil ways, that trench will be his grave.  The things he fears will always be right behind him in hot pursuit until he falls.  One who has no guilt has no need to look over his shoulder because others will have his back.

25 As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation.

What is a tornado but destructive and short lived?  It moves the dust, chaffe, and  tumbleweeds, but the mountain is unmoved.  One who is righteous in the eyes of God can live even in death.

26 As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him.

Oh, be a business owner and try to find good workers.  Some founders learn that a partner will not work and they have to buy his share out; they are forced to pay him for doing nothing.  When you delegate a job assignment the lazy ones are far behind the rest of the team, and the product is not delivered.  It burns the employer to see his team penalized by one slow slug.  Or be a commander in battle and find your sentries sleeping…they will soon understand his pain.

27 The fear of the Lord prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.

I am not a man of wisdom by birth.  But I did recognize spiritual events and even open warnings from God going on around me.  The things I feared most were closing in on me.  God became my fear until he offered his Son as my door back to life.  That became my pass to prosperity.  Now I see that even physical health can benefit from just quitting drugs and tobacco to serve God.  A clear conscience gives good health too.  But how much more can life be shortened by crimes that lead to violence?

28 The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish.

The hope of salvation survives all the storms of life and even passes through the veil of death.  This life is hard at times but this promise is complete in itself without worldly gain.  And yet even wealthy men are bitter when life is not graced with the love of God.  Guilt is one possession that you can take to the grave with you.

29 The way of the Lord is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.

We who walk with God have seen a lifetime of assurance that this is the way of life.  God has made wisdom available to everyone, but some have chosen to be evil instead.  For these there is only a destiny with destruction.

30 The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth.

That promise seems to suggest that good people will never be defeated.  Perhaps it means that there will always be some good people here.  But even those righteous souls who face death will also see a greater life after death.  This condition will not bring the unjust back from death, nor will it tolerate their possession of the earth in the end.  Ultimately the cities of the earth will belong to the rest of the righteous.

31 The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out.

If you really want wisdom you can find it by listening to one who is righteous.  Know people who walk in godly honesty and seek their advice.  But people who are boldly rebellious will have a hard end that you won’t want to follow.

32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness

Our nation is coming to an election year and there are candidates who know what it takes to lead with diplomacy and dignity.  And like every election some candidates can only speak offenses and disrespect towards others.  That is the definition of froward and wickedness.  So we can see the people who support this as a preview of the many who will be deceived and turn against God.

Life features trials and dangerous places like the canyons and cliffs along this road.  In the headlights of wisdom we can see the hazards and speed limits of the Salt River Canyon.  Our eyesight reveals danger in the day, but in the night there are hidden dangers.  An unfamiliar place may be more dangerous than the obvious threats though.  Without wisdom there is no safe place in this life.

Before I met God I was ready to drink and drive from party to party.  In the Army I was driving in Missouri on a pitch black night.  Drinking beer motivated stops to relieve my bladder.  In the night I walked to the shoulder and relieved myself.  But I could not hear the stream hit the ground.  I backed away from the shoulder and sat down.  I picked up a rock and threw it in front of me.  It was a few seconds before I heard it hit the ground far below me.  Had I stepped a little more, I myself would have been hitting the ground at the base of that cliff.

There are roads that we know, and we use wisdom to slow down and stay on course.  But there are other roads that we don’t know where we need God’s protection, and a desire for wisdom to survive.  The wisdom of the world is foolish compared to that of God.  Seek his wisdom and that city of rest and security he is preparing for you.

A WAKE OF DESTRUCTION

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 REVEALED

WISDOM REVEALED…Highway 60 in the Salt River Canyon, Arizona

The last study illustrated a road on a dark rainy night in Arizona.  What you could not see on that dangerous drive was the horrific drop into the canyon below.  This overlook is on the edge of the same road; on a sheer cliff that justifies the slow cautious drive of the former night.  There are cars and trucks wrecked in the bottom of this canyon, and memorials to the dead.  Wisdom will encourage you to use the light of these lessons to find life.  As you grow in wisdom you will understand the revelation of what you have been saved from.

Proverbs 10:11-20

11 The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.

Well chosen words are diplomatic and encouraging, they bring people together to build prosperity.  But the evil heart waits to place a trap, and offers bait to draw others to destruction.  these want no peace, but wait for blood.

12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

This may seem obvious.  Hatred doesn’t leave things alone, it looks for trouble, and usually reaps more of the same.  Love is just as active in the opposite direction, protecting the guilty, being a friend.  Love absorbs our imperfections with patience.

13 In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.

The words of a wise man survive investigation and give evidence of his wisdom.  At the same time a fool cannot hide his crimes, and the rod of correction is sure to find him.  These are simple instructions with simple plus or minus results.  Any questions?

14 Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

If wise men seek and keep knowledge they prosper by this.  But knowledge alone may not overcome foolishness.  Foolishness runs right past all the knowledge available and goes too fast for the wet roads in the night.  Foolishness has a few seconds of free fall to consider the violent end pending.

15 The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty.

A rich man is surrounded by wealth, bodyguards, lawyers and doctors.  He has his own castle of privilege and protections.  The poor are already in the midst of their destruction.  The very poor are homeless and hopeless.  But everyone can find hope in the salvation of Jesus.  There is still a place where miracles change lives for those who have faith.

16 The labour of the righteous tendeth to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin.

For Joseph and Daniel being prisoners was not a bar to prosperity.  A convicted sex offender became the prime minister of Egypt, and a prisoner of war of Babylon and Persia.  They performed their prison jobs as unto the Lord and prospered.  Meanwhile their enemies were following evil to be caught in their sins.  God has a path that is appropriate for everyone.

17 He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.

There are maps that suggest what lies ahead, and the bible also gives such an outline.  The road itself is posted with yellow warnings about downgrades, curves and speed limits.  So life has laws and enforcers that hope to slow us enough to keep us from the pit.  If we reject correction are we prepared for the cost?

18 He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.

Now life also has people who claim to be honest, and speak softly only to preserve the element of surprise for their victims.  And these that also tell a lie to falsely accuse the innocent are also fools.  This is different from self destruction because it targets a wound against someone else.  This will blame the innocent and offend the judge at the same time.

19 In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.

When there is a conflict there is always a chance that the judge will not share your opinion.  Having a lot to say often gives your opponent ammunition against you.  One who is telling a lie needs a lot of lies to weave enough web to snare himself.  Hold your tongue and let the truth account for itself.

20 The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.

We like to remember heroes from Hollywood, but few maintained an image of truth like John Wayne.  I think God wants us to be slow to anger and honest even more than an actor could be.  In real life there are people around us who live in a greedy little world of hatred that only knows how to fight against peace.  No one wants to live with such a hater and their world is all bitterness as a sour belly.

If we take care in our passage there is a path to safety that harms no one.  The words of wisdom are offered here to shelter you from the depths of sorrow and despair.  Follow this road and its warning signs to a city of refuge.

Consider the maps for seamen.  If a boat is churning up mud in its wake, it suggests that you are in shallow water.  If you slow down the bow will drop and the stern will rise, allowing the prop to clear the rocks below.  You can then check the charts for deeper water, or continue at full speed to wreck the boat.  Some find destruction in spite of every navigational aid and advice available.

LIGHTS IN THE STORM

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IMG_2725

LIGHT FOR LIFE

Proverbs present wisdom to the world, and now we see specific examples in detail.  For these chapters I want to savor each line.  I divide Proverbs chapter ten into three parts to do this.  These are the warnings of the ancient past, but they illuminate the dark road in the night of our present nightmares.  Follow wisdom and avoid the edge of the road that is parallel to the canyon of death.

Proverbs 10:1-10

1 The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

Oh I know a few kids who are wise in daily life, and in spiritual ways as well.  We see youth in our churches move in faith in ways that amaze the adults who watched them grow.  I know the parents of a young man who leads a world healing ministry.  We rejoice when young people make a positive life change, but more when they teach others how Jesus can change them.

We have also seen young people mock their parent’s faith and take the road to rebellion.  The popular road is reinforced by music, media, and peer pressure.  Be sure we have allowed television and movies to slide to the immoral zone for decades.  We are all to blame, but only pray our children will hear the hope of righteousness.  When Star Trek and Emergency room overlooked the formality of marriage, who still believed the bible?  Only those who have found a relationship with the God who will answer them.  We understand how the majority follow a wide road to destruction, but the pain for parents is real.  Television rarely dwells on the issues of unwanted pregnancy, STDs, poverty, custody battles, and domestic violence.  But the parents carry the pain with no remedy.

2 Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.

How many times have we heard that money isn’t everything?  But today we may be measuring our candidates for President by how well they make money.  Seeing how well they make enemies, should we wonder how they made that money?  Does a big house and a trophy wife make a man a good leader for the nation?  Does it given him the right to insult national and world leaders that we may need to work with for diplomacy in the future?  Evil can produce wealth and it can bully those who oppose it, But does it really assure a safe future?  It didn’t work for Nazi Germany.

Do we live in a generation that can produce another Abraham Lincoln?  Can his, or any other  party deliver hope like this in our time?  Are there simple men who have the faith to resist evil today without standing on wealthy special interest groups?  The moral crisis of a divided nation did not overwhelm Abraham Lincoln.  His faith was founded on an unshakable rock of ages, this book of wisdom, the word of God.  This is where you search for the real leaders of the future.

3 The Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked.

Oh me of little faith.  I surrendered my life to Jesus in 1978 and I am still worrying about paying my bills.  Yet I have never lacked for food and shelter in all that time.  I saw my family go through unemployment, sickness, and death, but God has always provided.  And in that same time I have seen headlines full of the failures of evil men.

4 He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.

Still even now I need to avoid sloth and follow a plan for employment and prosperity.  When branded “unemployable” I bought my own tools and patented new solutions for industry.  Hope could only come from faith in God when no material solutions were available.

5 He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.

My farm and ranch neighbors in Wyoming and Nebraska are far more diligent than I in these observations.  But I too must remember that my working days are limited by my years so we all press in to produce in our season.

6 Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.

Piracy, crime, terrorism, and hatred are rampant and violence leads to their downfall.  As this happens the righteous prosper materially and spiritually in god’s blessings.

7 The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot.

A righteous man has God’s forgiveness and grace.  That leads to prosperity in this world and the one to come.  But witness the parade of names that file out of our memory as they are harvested like weeds.

8 The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.

Endless silly chatter is a road to failure, while a wise man listens to instructions.  Fighters may trash talk but the one who hears instructions from his corner coach perseveres to victory.

9 He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.

So those who are honest will walk a sure path in safety.  At the same time those who cheat are being discovered every day.  Don’t panic about the conspiracies because there is always another conspiracy to oppose that one, and a judge who will put them all in jail!

10 He that winketh with the eye causeth sorrow: but a prating fool shall fall.

To let a sin go unpunished is to allow the participants a clear path to the problems that are caused by it.  But idle boastful talking is a road to self destruction.  So ignoring foolishness is condoning it, while boasting and promoting sin makes you a participant in the punishment of it.

Do we contribute to the evil of our nation if we ignore the sin around us?  Not so much as those who advocate it proudly, but both will witness the suffering of it.  Now we have to lean on this biblical map to wisdom so we can speak out when truth is needed, and avoid being the author of the evil path because we may be deceived.  There are subtleties in godly wisdom that need to be studied for our safety.  We may be wise to proceed cautiously along the highway when the storms obscure our view of the hazards in the night.

CHOICES

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 foolishness

LIFE AND DEATH

The news headlines scream about bad choices mostly.  There are a few good stories, and these are connected to people who have the wisdom to avoid the traps of life.  The bad stories are tied to criminals or victims who have ignored warnings and kept going to their destruction.  We wonder how anyone could make such foolish choices, but we ourselves may also be tempted.

Proverbs 9

Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:  She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.  She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,  Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.  Proverbs 9:1-5

Wisdom.  It seems strange to present wisdom as a person.  If wisdom were a woman then this one is preparing a great welcome for her guests.  She offers invitations all over town to a great feast.  And the guest of honor is the simple fool who can only grow smarter on this brain food.  Wisdom is offering a filling that will produce health and welfare.

Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.  He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.  Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.  Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.  Proverbs 9:6-10

Here is the first course of the meal.  As simple as a salad is the wisdom no to keep company with fools and sinners.  Any vegetable should know better than to hang out with losers.  But then don’t turn back to angry men to correct his mistakes.  If you rebuke an evil or scornful man that anger will just be turned on you.  Men make news today by speaking outrageous insults about others, and the world vents anger towards these.  If that man has wealth and power his anger can be turned to harm you.  Those who rebuked Hitler should have done so from the safety of exile, but they were killed.  But if you know a wise man he will appreciate advice that keeps him from harm.  Some people actually can grow wiser if you have wisdom to teach.  The first step to such wisdom is the fear of God.  Finding the knowledge of real spiritual holiness give you the only valid understanding that there is.

For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.  If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.  A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.  For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,  To call passengers who go right on their ways:  Proverbs 9:11-15

By wisdom’s invitation you will live long and prosper.  Your wisdom benefits you as your foolishness will also punish you.  A foolish woman is a loud obnoxious mindless annoyance.  This foolish woman sits in her door in view of all who pass by to invite fools to come in with her.

Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,  Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.  But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.  Proverbs 9:16-18

Well if you are a fool go in with that woman, she will promise the pleasure of forbidden fruits.  But that fool doesn’t recognize the works of a serial killer.  Her guests are all buried in the basement of hell.

Ignorance may be relieved by education, but foolishness is available to educated, rich, poor, and simple people everywhere.  Just look at what voters have elected and consider how widespread this is.  Now we see ever worse choices being presented as being good.  Sure, come on in, nobody will know.  And fools still believe these lies and turn away from the wisdom that can deliver them to eternal joy.  Watch the world of our day follow the invitation of the death traps, but stay in the safe harbor of wisdom as you watch.