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Monday, July 31, 2017

Proverbs Day 31

Read Proverbs 31
If you choose to get married, the person you choose will be the greatest influencing factor in your life.  Marriage is far deeper than romantic feelings and passion. It is a partnership for life.  It is two people becoming one flesh.  It is a symbol of Christ's love for His church.  Choose wisely or choose not to marry.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 31:10-12
10-12 A really good wife is a truly rare treasure. She’s worth more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her with his whole heart and she blesses his life. She helps and never hurts him all the days of her life.

Everyone puts a lot of pressure on you to get married and they have all these oversimplified sentiments about marriage that have very little to do with the reality of married life.  Don't fall for the world's folly.  A wise person knows marriage is not required (Jesus never married).  It is perfectly normal and acceptable and often best to remain single and celibate.  If you choose to marry, choose a godly spouse who shares your core values and compliments you well.  Love your spouse like Jesus loves you.  They are the single most important thing in your life--more important than your kids, your job, your friends, your family, your hobbies, your possessions, or anything else.  A really good wife (or husband) is a truly rare treasure.

"Loving God, you know everything about me and my spouse.  Help us to love each other the way You love us so we can help each other become all that You want us to be.  Amen."

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Proverbs Day 30

Read Proverbs 30
It is wise to know when enough is a enough.  It is even wiser to know your own heart and what scarcity and abundance do to you.  Wisest of all are those who are willing to deny themselves for their own good and the good of others.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 30:7-9

7-9 God, I only ask for two things; please give them to me before I die:

First, don’t let me be a liar or dishonest.

Second, please don’t make me too rich or too poor. Just feed me what I need every day and nothing more. Otherwise, I might get so full of myself I turn away from You saying, “Who is this ‘Jehovah’?” Or if I'm too poor, I might insult Your holy reputation by stealing.

The human appetite is a beast that never stops growing.  Our natural tendency is to want more and more.  We are never really satisfied.  People with real wisdom understand the brokenness of their own sin-sick heart and seek a new one from God.  Ask God for a new heart and practice being satisfied with less.  Those who are truly satisfied in life are not those with the most and biggest toys; it is those who have learned to be satisfied with that which God gives them.

"Lord, give me a knew heart to replace my broken one.  Help me to practice satisfaction until I learn to be happy with everything You give and want nothing more.  Amen."

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Proverbs Day 29

Read Proverbs 29
Children are the biggest investment in a parent's life.  You will spend more time, money, and energy on them than anything else.  A wise investment early on can yield a life of rewards.  However, being neglectful, lazy, distracted, or wavering in your discipline will lead to serious problems later.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 29:1, 15, & 17
1 There is no hope for stubborn people who always reject correction. They will soon be broken beyond repair.

15 It’s better to correct children with a switch so they learn wisdom. Let children have their own way now and they’ll turn out to be a disgrace.

17 Discipline your kids and they will give you peace; they will fill your life with joy.

Invest wisely in your children.  You have about 13 years to teach them what they need to know; the rest is just supervision and letting go.  Be brave, firm, diligent, and consistent to teach and discipline them well.  Pray for guidance to know when to hold them tight and when to let them go.  Seek all the grace and help you can get and enjoy the blessings.

"Father, thank You for being the perfect parent to me.  Guide me that I may follow Your example with my own children.  Help me understand how to discipline them, when to hold them tighly and when to let them go.  And may they bring glory to Your name all their life.  Amen."

Friday, July 28, 2017

Proverbs Day 28

Read Proverbs 28
It's just not good when everyone makes up their own rules.  A family, an organization, a nation needs good leaders.  
People rise and fall with the leaders they admire and follow.  Leaders come in all shapes and sizes: a parent, a boss, a pastor, an elected official.  Others are cultural leaders--athletes, artists, characters, public figures.  Sometimes you are a leader.  

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 28:2, 4, 5, & 16
2 The country is in chaos when it's full of rebellious people who do whatever they want; but someone with insight, who understands the way things work, can keep the nation alive.

4 People who ignore God’s Law revere wicked people, but those who obey God’s Law stand against them.

5 Evil people don’t even understand justice, but people who follow the Lord know right from wrong.

16 An unskillful leader without understanding is an oppressive tyrant; but someone who hates greed and corruption will live a long time.

We become the people we admire and follow.  Therefore, it is essential we lead and follow wisely.  Know God and His Word so you can truly discern bad leadership from good.

"Jesus, You are the perfect example of a good leader.  Lord, help me to walk with you closely everyday that I might prosper and know how to lead others Your way.  And give us more leaders like You.  Amen."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Proverbs Day 27

Read Proverbs 27
A wise person takes care of the people and things most important to them--your spouse, your children, your family, your friends, your boss, your employees, your health, your essentials... Always put these first and you will reap the rewards.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 27:18, 23-27
18 If you take care of a fig tree, you get to eat its fruit. If you take care of your boss, your boss will take care of you.

23-27 Know what’s really going on with your flock; pay close attention to them. Money doesn’t last forever and you might not always be in charge, but if your flock is well fed and you’ve stored up hay for the hard times, you can make clothes from your sheep’s wool and sell your goats for a good profit and you’ll always have enough milk to feed your family and everyone who’s important to you.

Know who and what's really important to you. Pray for them constantly. Think about what they need and how to care for them. Take the initiative and be attentive. Always do more than is expected.

"Lord, make me aware of those people and things that really matter to me.  Help me to know how to really bless them and care for them that I may do all I can to tend the flock you've given me.  Amen."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Proverbs Day 26

Read Proverbs 26
You don't always have to prove you're right and it's futile to argue with fools anyway. Why waste time on futility that will just make you look silly? Better to focus on something more rewarding and productive.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 26:3-5, 12
3 You drive a horse with a whip, a donkey with a bridle, and a fool with switch to the back.

4-5 Don’t try to answer every ridiculous argument a fool makes. You’ll just sound foolish like them. Set a fool straight only when you must; show how absurd their “wisdom” really is.

12 Fools have a better chance than people who think they know it all.

It's best to just ignore fools when they spout nonsense about something that doesn't really matter. However, you need to speak up if it's something important. When you do, don't get sucked into their way of thinking and arguing. Don't build your case on their flawed thinking. Start with the truth and expose their folly so they don't lead themselves or anyone else astray.

"Holy Spirit, help me to see when my thinking is wrong-headed. Guide me gently to the Truth. Help me to be wise and know when it is best to just ignore foolish reasoning and when it is time to set someone straight. Amen."

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Proverbs Day 25

Read Proverbs 25
Wise people learn who to trust. Not everyone who claims to be your friend is really your friend. Kind words are sweet to hear and most will offer to help, but you find out who you can count on through experience.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 25:4, 14, 18, & 19
4 You have to remove the impurities from silver before it’s ready for the silversmith to make something useful.

14 Someone who makes a big deal about a gift they never really give is like rain clouds that never give any rain.

18 Telling lies about people is like assaulting them with a deadly weapon.

19 Relying on an untrustworthy person when you need them is like chewing with broken tooth or running on a sprained ankle.

Test people with small challenges to see what they're made of. Are they all talk and no action? Are they honest? Can they keep a confidence? If you can't trust someone with something small, you can't trust them with something big. However, if you've found someone who is faithful with small matters, they are more likely to handle something more important. Someone who walks through fiery trials with you is a true friend. Hold on to that friendship. It's worth more than silver or gold.

"Jesus, teach me who to trust. Help me be wise enough to look beyond the kind words and promises and discover who I can really count on. Help me to invest in those relationships. And help me every day to remember You are the one friend who will always be there. And may I be a true friend to You. Amen."

Monday, July 24, 2017

Proverbs Day 24

Read Proverbs 24
It's foolish to cheat, steal, or take advantage of others. You may get a short term gain, but it's not right and you will find yourself fighting against God.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 24:15-18
15-18 Listen you scoundrel: Don’t take advantage of a godly person or break into their home; because even if they fall seven times, they will still get back up again. But scoundrels like you are tripped up by your own evil. So don’t celebrate or be happy when your enemy gets tripped up or falls, because Jehovah will be angry with your cruelty and their troubles will be over.

God watches over godly people who try to do the right thing. They may stumble from time to time or someone may catch them off guard with an evil scheme; but, no matter how many times they fall, they will get back up again because of their faith in God.  And God will punish those who knock them down and kick them on the ground.

"Lord, forgive me for the times I've wronged others or taken advantage of them.  No matter how many times I stumble or fall, help me to trust You and get back up again.  Help me to trust You with justice and mercy.  Amen."

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Proverbs Day 23

Read Proverbs 23
The wise person knows spending your life trying to get rich is a meaningless pursuit. You're never satisfied and you can lose it all in a heartbeat. A wise person wants more.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 23:4-5

4-5 Don’t slave your life away trying to accumulate more and more stuff. Know when enough is enough, because dreams of getting rich are like chasing birds in the park. You run up on them and they flap their wings and fly away.

Your life is precious. Don't waste it. Know what's really important. Most people slave away chasing after things that really don't matter. We want more and more; and the more we have, we find we never have enough. Fill your life with meaning and you will be fully satisfied.

"Father, help me to invest my life in things that matter and not be be over-infatuated with possessions and money, which don't really satisfy and are fleeting anyway. Amen."

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Proverbs Day 22

Read Proverbs 22
Wisdom is more than knowledge. It is an inner sense of the way things really are, what's actually going on, and what's about to happen. Wise people have awareness and are vigilant and act accordingly. They are safe because they sense trouble before it happens and also know when there is no real danger.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 22:3, 5, and 13
3 A wise person senses trouble before it happens and steers clear; those who are naive walk right into it and learn a hard lesson.

5 Crooked people walk a prickly path full of hidden traps; be careful to steer clear of them.

13 A lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there! I’ll get killed if I go out!”

Be wise. Know what's really going on around you and inside you. Avoid trouble when you see it coming, but don't use fear as an excuse when it's unfounded and irrational.

"Father, help me to be vigilant. Don't let me be distracted or caught unaware. Give me insight into the people and situations around me. Don't let me be lazy and use irrational fears as an excuse not to do something You want me to do. Guide me in everything by Your Holy Spirit. Amen."

Friday, July 21, 2017

Proverbs Day 21

Read Proverbs 21
Success takes planning and hard work. There are no shortcuts in life. You have to know what's really important. Keep your priorities in line and focus your time, energy, resources, and money on what's really important at the expense of everything else.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 21:5, 6, 9, 17, 20 and 25-26

5 Good plans and steady hard work earn great rewards, but reckless haste makes you poor.

6 Treasures earned with deceit lead to death and will soon be gone.

9 It’s better to crash in the corner of some attic than live in a charming home with a wife who’s always angry.

17 People who indulge and party all the time never have enough; people who always have to have the latest, greatest things don’t get rich.

20 Wise people have lots of wealth and luxury, but fools immediately spend whatever they get.

25-26 A couch potato dies even though he wants more, because he’s too lazy to work it. He always wants more, more, more. Godly people are more givers than takers. 

Know who you are and Gods's plans for you. Focus on what really matters and don't worry about everything else too much. Be happy with what you have and don't covet. Be generous and not greedy. Work hard to follow God's plan and be persistent. Good things come to those who are wise.

"God of Heaven and Earth, help me to know Your plans for me and to stay focused on them, working hard to accomplish everything You want me to do. Amen."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Proverbs Day 20

Read Proverbs 20
Wise living takes discipline, persistence, and trust. Some are tempted to indulge in extra sleep or to procrastinate. Others are tempted to act impulsively or try to control it all. Wise people take a broader view of life and work steadily toward success.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 20:4, 13, 18, and 24
4 Lazy people don’t plan ahead or prepare and they don’t have what they need when the time comes.

13 If you love to sleep, poverty will take over your life. Get up and get to work so you’ll have enough to eat.

18 Get lots of advice while you’re making your plans. Let people guide when you go to battle.

24 Only the Lord knows everything about our journey. We can’t see or understand everything that’s going on.

Don't be lazy. Plan ahead. Seek guidance. Work hard and be persistent. And don't be a control freak. You can have a great deal of influence over your own success, but are never in complete control and you do not know everything that is going on in the grand picture. Trust God.

"Lord, help me to be a wise planner and a diligent executor. Most of all, help me to trust You with it all. Amen."

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Proverbs Day 19

Read Proverbs 19
Fools tell lies. Whether it's an evil scheme to get what they want or just the easy way out of a difficult situation, dishonesty is never the wise course. Truly wise people are honest and have integrity.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 19:1, 5, 9, 22, and 28

1 It is better to be a poor person with integrity than a fool who twists words.

5 A witness who lies will be convicted. Someone who tells lies will not get away.

9 A witness who lies will be convicted. Someone who tells lies will be destroyed.

22 We long for people to be faithful; a poor man is better than a liar.

28 An evil witness mocks justice and takes a gulp of terrible trouble with every lie they tell.

Notice how verses 5 and 9 say almost the same exact thing. Why would there two nearly identical proverbs in the same chapter? Because telling the truth is essential to healthy relationships, civil society, and God demands it. Be honest. Strive for integrity. Be a loyal friend. Practice telling the truth in love. Even if it's harder in the short-term, it's always better in the long run and God will honor you.

"Father, help me to be honest and faithful in the way I live and the things I do. Amen."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Proverbs Day 18

"Father, I just want to begin with a quick prayer for my friend, Dot, and her family who lost her husband two years ago. He was a wonderful husband and father and he was loved by many. Please comfort his family as they struggle with grief--especially today. Amen."

Read Proverbs

It is really foolish to think wealth and material possessions will keep you safe when troubles come, and yet that is what most people in our world think. People think money will make them secure and they are often proud when they have it--thinking they can buy their way out of whatever troubles come. Truly wise people know better.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 18:10-14
10 The Lord is known as an impregnable stronghold; good people run to Him for safety.

11 Rich people rely on their wealth; they hide behind it thinking nothing can touch them.

12 A person brags about their greatness right before they’re broken to pieces, but those who are humble receive honor.

13 Speaking about something before fully listening is just stupid and brings humiliation.

14 A good attitude can sustain you through illness, but what can you do with a broken spirit?

Wealth is as fleeting as a morning fog. A misstep, an illness, a lawsuit or misfortune and it can all be gone in an instant. Then where is your safety net? Why spend all your time trying to build a wall of safety founded only on money? Why take pride in something that gives a false sense of security? Be wise and build a strong relationship with the Lord for that is where real hope lies.

"Father, free me from the foolish idea that money is all I need to keep my family safe. Help me to trust in You and find true security. Amen."

Monday, July 17, 2017

Proverbs Day 17

Read Proverbs 17
Life has enough trouble in it without you going to look for more. Spend your time cultivating peace--especially in your own home. Deal with conflict when you have to, but be quick to forgive and overlook an offence when you can. Nobody likes a trouble maker and you're gonna need all the friends you can get. Spend your time building up your relationships so you will have their support when real trouble comes.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 17:1, 9, 14, 17
1 It’s better to eat stale crumbs in a peaceful home than a feast in a house where everyone argues.

9 A person who lets go of an offence wants love, but a person who keeps bringing it up drives away their closest friend.

14 Starting an argument is like digging a hole in a dam; once the water’s out, you can’t put it back in. So quit before you mess everything up.

17 A friend always loves you, and brothers were born to help in times of trouble.

A wise person builds loyal friendships through patience, kindness, forgiveness, and love. Be there for others when they need you and they will be there for you when you need them.

"Father, help me build strong friendships through patience, kindness, forgiveness, and love. Steer me clear of unnecessary quarrels about stuff that really doesn't matter in the long run. Help me be a wise friend to others. Amen."

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Proverbs Day 16

Read Proverbs 16
We can scheme to get what we want and set out to accomplish our plans, but God knows what's really best. He knows when our desires are out of line, when our motives are wrong, and when our steps are misguided. Ultimately, God is in control. He is behind the scenes directing the way things turn out.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 16:1-3, 9, 25, 33
1 People scheme to get what they want, but the Lord has the final say.

2 People always think they’ve done right, but the Lord looks deeper.

3 Surrender what you want to the Lord and your plans will take root and grow.

9 People choose their destination, but the Lord determines where they go.

25 There is a easy road before everyone that seems good, but it leads to death.

33 When the dice are rolled, the Lord decides what they say.

The wise person sees that God is the righteous Ruler of all and bows to the Lord and surrenders everything to Him. The Lord sees things so much deeper and fuller than we can ever imagine. The Lord knows what's right and the best way to get there and He will ultimately accomplish whatever He decides to do. Only a fool ignores the Lord's plans or tries to convince Him their way is better. Wise people align themselves with God's plans.

"Lord of all, forgive me when I forget You are Lord of all and try to go my own way. Help me to align my will with Yours and always live accordingly. Amen."

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Proverbs Day 15

Insights from Midway
I'm about halfway through Proverbs and here's what I've learned about wisdom in general so far.  The first part of wisdom is revering the Lord.  The second part of wisdom is a willingness to listen and learn.  The third part of wisdom is controlling yourself and your impulses.  The rest is the decisions you make.

Read Proverbs 15
You are what you eat and you become what you consume.  You will reflect the ideals of people you hang around, books you read, shows you watch, and music to which you listen.  You can choose to consume garbage or you can choose food that will nourish your mind and spirit.  

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 15:2 & 14
2 Wise people make you want to know even more, but idiots spew out stupidity.

14 A truly wise person always tries to learn more, but fools fill up on whatever silliness is available.

Everyone needs to indulge in a piece of cake now and then, but it's not healthy to eat cake for dinner everyday.  What you put into your mind is just as important.  Put junk in and junk will come out.  Fill yourself with wisdom and knowledge and wisdom and knowledge will come out.

"Holy Spirit, make us hungry for wisdom and knowledge and help us to choose spiritual food that is healthy and wholesome.  Help us to seek knowledge in the things we read and watch and to which we listen so we may share Your wisdom beautifully. Amen."

Friday, July 14, 2017

Proverbs Day 14

Read Proverbs 14
Wealthy people don't have much trouble finding "friends."  Everyone admires them for their interesting lives, their cool stuff, and what they might do for others.  The trouble wealthy people have is figuring out who's really a friend and who just loves them because they're rich.  What would happen if they lost it all?  Would their "friends" still stand by them?

Poor people don't have that problem.  They don't have much to offer in terms of material possessions or money.  They spend most of their time and energy just trying to make it from day to day; they don't have much left to give.  When a poor person comes around, they're probably not there just to say "hello" or see how you're doing.  They're probably coming to ask for help.  If you help, they probably aren't going to be able pay you back or return the favor. However, they probably will ask for your help again soon.  You can count on it and it can become very wearisome.

Listen Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 14:20, 21, and 31
20 Everyone hates the poor, even those closest to them; but the rich have lots of “friends.”
21 God hates it when people look down on those closest to them, but He blesses those who give a hand up to the poor.
31 People who oppress the poor insult the One who made them, but people honor God when they give a hand up to help those in need.
The wise person learns to see people as God sees them and treats them accordingly.  Everyone--rich and poor--is a beautiful creation of God.  We must look beyond the glitter of wealth and the dirt of poverty to see the child of God who is beneath it all.  Love is sacrificial.  It's what you do for others not what they do for you or how they make you feel.  It's easy to love people who have it all together, but a wise person treats the poor with dignity and love because it honors God.

"Jesus, you said there would always be poor among us (Mark 14:7).  Help me not to be frustrated.  Teach me to love the way You love.  Amen."

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Bible Paraphrase vs. Translation

Is there a difference between a Bible Paraphrase and a Translation?   If so, what is it?
Great question!  I'm glad you asked!  Yes, there is a real difference between a paraphrase and a translation.  Modern paraphrases like The Living Bible and The Message by Eugene Peterson have become quite popular in recent decades.  And since I have been posting my own personal paraphrases of selected verses from Proverbs, I thought it important to explain the difference between a translation and a paraphrase.

With a paraphrase, the author takes a translation of the Bible and puts it into his or her own words.  The author of a paraphrase usually does not start with the Bible in its original languages--Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic.  It is more common for a paraphrase to come from an English translation that is rephrased into the author's own words.  A paraphrase does not do the more difficult and scholarly work of studying all the most ancient fragments, manuscripts, and copies of the Bible that exist in their original languages and translating the Bible into English.  Therefore, a paraphrase is not as accurate as a translation.  A paraphrase can be helpful in seeing the Scripture from a different perspective or shedding more light on a passage, but a paraphrase should never be relied on to replace or change the meaning of a passage.  A translation is just more accurate and reliable than a paraphrase in almost every way in almost every case.  Furthermore, the risk of a paraphrase is that it can introduce the author's own ideas, perspectives, theology, and bias into the Scripture.

A translation, on the other hand, is a far more accurate and reliable source than a paraphrase.  A good translation starts with the most ancient and accurate copies of the Bible available in the original languages and then carefully evaluate differences and translates them into English (or whatever language is desired).  Emphasis is on accurately translating the words and meanings of the original authors into English.  The struggle of the biblical translator is that words and phrases from ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic do not always translate directly into English.  For instance, Jesus and his father Joseph are called carpenters.  In the original Greek, Mark 6:3 calls Joseph a 'tekton'.  A tekton is a builder, usually of houses.  Most houses today are made of wood so it makes sense to translate 'tekton' as carpenter.  But in Jesus day, a builder of houses usually worked in stone or mud and there wasn't much wood around with which to work.  So maybe it might be better to say Jesus and Joseph were stone masons, but that doesn't really get it either.  And this is just one of the easy translation problems.  The work of translators can get really, really tricky. Add to this that other languages use words in different orders than the way we use them in English.  For example:
  • In English, the verb follows immediately after the noun.
  • In German the verb at the end of the sentence comes.
  • Appears the verb in Greek at the beginning of the sentence.
So, translators can't translate the Bible word for word from the original language to English or we wouldn't be able to understand it.  Translators have to strike a balance between making the translation as accurate as possible and as readable as possible.  Modern translations fall somewhere between two ideals.  There is the word for word translation, which tries to keep everything as literal as possible and sacrifices readability for accuracy. On the other end of the spectrum is a thought for thought translation, which tries to translate the thought or idea and sacrifices word accuracy for readability and to make the passage easier to understand.  Here are some examples of different translations of Proverbs 10:4.

Interlinear Bible
(Hold on, this is a literal translation of the original Hebrew into English!  It's rough!)
"(Becomes) poor he who deals (with) a palm lazy; but hand the hard workers' makes rich."

[Wow!  See what I mean!  That's hard to understand!!!  Now, moving toward more readable versions step by step.]

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

(This is a dedicated word for word translation, but it's much better than a literal translation.)
"Poor is he who works with a negligent hand,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich."

New American Standard Version (NRSV) 
(This one is about middle of the road between accuracy and readability.)
"A slack hand causes poverty,
    but the hand of the diligent makes rich."

New International Version (NIV) 
(A popular version that leans more toward thought for thought translation.)
"Lazy hands make for poverty,
    but diligent hands bring wealth."

New Living Translation (NLT) 
(This is one of my favorite thought for thought translations.  I find it very accurate and readable.)
"Lazy people are soon poor;
    hard workers get rich."

A good example of how a paraphrase can alter the meaning of Scripture and/or introduce the paraphraser's own agenda's into the Scripture is found in a reading of Eugene Peterson's paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 in The Message.  He paraphrased the verses like this:  "Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom."  The NLT translated the Greek like this:  "Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God."  The two sentences sound similar at first glance, but a closer looks shows Peterson cut out a lot, including: homosexuality, idolatry, greed, and intoxication.  And then Peterson added in a phrase that is not there at all, but sounds good to the modern ear that wants the Bible to be ecologically sensitive:  "use and abuse the earth."

The folks who translated the NLT guarded against introducing their own biases into the texts by using a team of 90 biblical scholars from various Christian backgrounds who collaborated on the translation.  Much care was taken to be loyal to what the original biblical texts said and avoid introducing anyone's personal political, theological, or denominational views.  That is much better than one man reading the Bible and putting it into his own words.  As much as I appreciate Eugene Peterson's The Message, it is only one man's thoughts about what the Bible says, not what the Bible actually says.

So, when reading a paraphrase--mine or anyone else's--keep in mind that it is not a translation.  Read it for what it's worth, but don't mistake it for more than it is.

Proverbs Day 13

Read Proverbs 13
Wisdom requires discipline, self-control, patience, and persistence.  You need to take a long-view of things.  What you want right now is not necessarily what you need in the long run.  What feels good right now may damage your long-term goals.  Fools are impulsive.  Wise people are patent and persistently work hard for the future.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase with comments:
Proverbs 13:3 - Watch what you say and how you say it; your life may depend on it. People who speak without thinking get into big trouble.

Proverbs 13:16 - Smart people think before they act, but fools are impulsive and everyone sees it.

Your natural inclination may be to pop off with the first thing that comes to mind or to respond harshly when someone is rude or wrong.  Some think it's an attribute to have "no filter", but a wise person thinks before they speak.  A wise person knows when to be blunt and when to be smooth and when to gentle or hard and when to just keep quiet.

Proverbs 13:4 - Lazy people want it all and never feel satisfied, but hard work pays off for people who keep at it.

Proverbs 13:11 - If you get rich quick, you will spend it quick; but if you earn it over a lifetime of hard work, you will have even more.

Impulsive desires drive people to waste time, resources, energy, and money on things that don't really satisfy. You never have what you want and when you get it, you realize it wasn't what you really wanted anyway. Wise people learn to control their impulses and work steadily for things of lasting value. Through hard work, they learn to value what's really important and take care of it. It takes longer, but they are more fulfilled in the end.

Be wise.  Take the long view of life. Be patient and persistent.  Work hard.  Succeed.

"Father, help me to control my impulses.  Help me think before I speak.  Help me to control my cravings.  Help me to focus on what's really important--things with lasting value.  Motivate me to work hard and be persistent for the right things and so be fully satisfied with a life well lived and an eternity with You.  Amen."

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Proverbs Day 12

Read Proverbs 12
God did not design us to go through life alone.  We need people to encourage us, warn us, give advice, and hold us accountable.  And we need to do the same for others.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase with comments:
Proverbs 12:1 - You won’t learn anything if you avoid discipline. It’s stupid to run away from correction.

You'll never get better is you don't own your mistakes. Don't cover up or make excuses or blame others. Take responsibility and learn and grow from your mistakes.

Proverbs 12:3 - Wicked plans never make you safe, but you can’t uproot a godly person.

Godly people are deeply rooted in the Bible and their relationships with God and His people. If you try to walk through life alone, you will be blown off the path. If you band together with a group of like-minded people, you will hold each other to the path when the storms of life rage.

Proverbs 12:15 - Fools are always proud of the way they do things, but a wise person listens to advice.

Even the smartest people have limited perspectives and skills and thinking your way is always the best way is just dumb. There is always a better way to do something and it's important to listen to other people's advice. It will help you avoid unnecessary blunders. Be wise.

Proverbs 12:25 - Worrying will sap you of all your strength, but a good word will encourage you.

When you're struggling with a problem or feeling down or worried about something, you need encouragement. Sometimes it makes you feel better just to tell another human being about it and let off some of the inner pressure; talking can be therapeutic. Plus, a good friend can encourage you and make you feel better. You can think more clearly when you are encouraged and not eat up with worry.

Proverbs 12:26 - Holy people give good advice to friends, but don’t follow bad people or you’ll soon be lost.

Be careful who you choose to open up to and rely on for encouragement, advice, and accountability. Not everyone is a wise choice. You need someone you can trust, someone who will be honest, someone who can keep a confidence. You also need someone who shares your Christian values. Find the right people and avoid those who might lead you astray.

"Father, help me to be a good friend to others and help guide them along the path of Life. Help me also to find and trust the right people, godly people, who will be good guides to me. Amen."

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Proverbs Day 11

Read Proverbs 11
Cultivate generosity.  Be as generous as you can in as many ways as you can to as many people as you can.  A generous person is a joyful, satisfied person.  They always feel like they're living an abundant life.  They bless others and people bless them for their generosity.  Generous people inspire generosity in others and others are generous with them.  Of course, there will be those who are not appreciative, who never say thanks, or that take your generosity for granted.  Be generous anyway because the benefits for you and others will always outweigh the negative.  And stingy, greedy people who cling to what they have with clenched fists will never really be happy or satisfied.  People won't like them that much and they will live a sad, unfulfilled life that comes to nothing of eternal consequence.  Listen to my paraphrase of Proverbs 11:24-30.

24 People who spread their generosity widely gain even more.  Those who cling to what they should give, never have enough.
25 A soul that blesses will be satisfied with more than enough and the person who refreshes others will be refreshed.
26 People will hate on those who refuse to sell them food when they’re starving, but they will sing the praises of those who sell it at a fair price.
27 Someone who always tries to do good is admired; but if you try to do evil, it will catch you in its claws.
28 People who rely on their wealth will meet with disaster, but people who do what’s right blossom like flowers in the spring.
29 People that always aggravate their family won’t inherit anything.  Fools end up slaving for the wise.

30 People who do the right thing are rewarded with life and those who win souls are wise.

"Father, help me to be generous. Help me to see and feel that I have more than enough already and so be willing to give freely. Help me to keep my eyes open to the many opportunities to give generously. And help me to be generous in as many ways as I can and as often as I can for You have been so generous with me. Amen."

Monday, July 10, 2017

Proverbs Day 10

Read Proverbs 10
Some people talk too much.  Listening is a precious gift to both the listener and those to whom they listen.  Listening is how we learn.  Talking is how we teach, but we need to be careful because we are usually not as wise as we think.  We really don't know that much and even what we know we don't know as well as we think.  And when we talk too much about things we don't really understand, we just reveal our ignorance, waste time, and we might even lead people astray.  Listen to my paraphrase of Proverbs 10:8.

A wise person listens to instructions, but someone who babbles on and on without having a clue will be thought of as an idiot.

And also verse 14:

A wise person soaks up all the knowledge they can, but a babbling fools is too busy talking to learn anything and might walk right off a cliff.

You can always get more information if you listen. You can always gain more insight if you listen.   You can always see things from a different perspective if you listen.  You can always learn more if you listen.  You can usually find out what you need to know to make a wise decision, say the right thing, or do the right thing if you listen.  But if you are too busy talking to listen, you are walking a dangerous road.

"Father, help me to listen more.  Help me to learn from You and from those You send my way to teach me.  And keep me from babbling on about things I don't really understand.  Amen."

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Proverbs Day 9

Read Proverbs 9
One wise choice leads to another.  One foolish choice leads to another.  Make your choices carefully.  And if you realize you've made some mistakes, turn quickly and run to Jesus and beg him to help back on the right path.  And listen carefully to those who invite you to their table.  Listen to my paraphrase of Proverbs 9:4-6.

“Come in here, little children!”  To everyone with some sense and potential she says, “Come dine with me!  Leave your childish life behind.  It’s time to mature and learn how to handle yourself.”

The other choice in verses 16-18 sounds like the trailer for a horror movie:

“Come in here, little children!”  To fools with who will never learn she says, "Forbidden fruit and hidden pleasures savored in secret are so sweet.”  But they don’t know it’s a house full of corpses.  Her guest are dining in the depths of Hell.

Let Jesus fill you with His Holy Spirit that you may have the good sense to dine with Wisdom and not Folly.

"Jesus, forgive me for the ways I have turned my back on goodness and common sense, chasing happiness of my own making instead of yours.  Save me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I may have the good sense to dine with Wisdom and not Folly from this day forward.  Amen."