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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Examining Prayer


Introduction
During Advent, I want to take a closer look at prayer.  Prayer is so much more than what we usually think of.  There are so many different kinds of prayer.  Often, we in the church only think of prayer as what the preacher does on Sunday mornings in worship.  However, public prayer is only one type of prayer—and it is not really a good model for what we do in private prayer.  

Many of us struggle with our private prayer life.  Many do not pray at all.  Others who do pray regularly may feel like their prayers are dull and lifeless, because they’re just repeating the same prayers day after day, week after week—just asking God for the same things over and over.

Pray doesn’t have to be that way.  Prayer can be expressed in so many colorful ways; we never need become bored with it.  We can never exhaust the deep well of true prayer if we understand that prayer is so much more than what we thought it was.  We need a faithful prayer life.  We also need a deep prayer life.  During Advent, I will explore some of the diverse forms of prayer. 

I highly recommend the book Prayer, Finding the Hearts True Home by Richard Foster.  It is a classic and I wish I had read it much earlier in my spiritual journey.  It would have helped my prayer life a lot.  It has helped me a lot his year.  Foster shares 21 different kinds of prayer.  I will share some of them with you over the next few weeks on Wednesday nights & Sunday mornings.

Today, I want to explore what I call, examining prayer and encourage you to practice it.

Psalm 139:1-6, 23-24
O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.


Examining Prayer
Examining prayer is just what it says—it is a prayerful act of examination.  It is prayer that first invites us to consider how God has been present in our day and second invites God to search our heart and cleanse us.

First, examine how God has been present in your day.
Usually, when we think of prayer, we think of closing our eyes and folding our hands, and saying things like: “Dear God, please forgive me for eating that extra piece of pecan pie and help me not to gain too much weight from all I ate at Thanksgiving this year. Amen.”  But prayer can also be quietly reflecting on our day, intentionally thinking about all the ways God was present with us.

How many times does God show Himself to us—in the beautiful fall colors, in a song on the radio, in the hug or encouragement of a friend, in an idea that pops into our head—but we, in our hurried pace, don’t recognize it as God’s divine presence.  How many times do we feel our conscious tell us, “You should send a card to so and so” or “I wonder why Jeff hasn’t been at church lately” or something else.  But the life rushes on and so do we and we forget these little nudges from the Holy Spirit.

Have you ever found yourself at the end of the day thinking, “Now, I know I was supposed to do something or I had an idea and now I can’t remember it”?  What if we reflected this way intentionally as an act of prayer?  What if we were trusting God to help us remember those things He wanted us to recall?

In examining prayer, we make time to prayerfully go back over our day and trust God to help us remember what’s important—especially the ways He revealed Himself to us or spoke to us or put something on our heart to do.  How helpful could it be for you to grab a piece of paper and a pen and prayerfully examine the events of your day and jot down a few notes about how God spoke to you or something He might want you to do?

Second, invite God to examine you—to search your heart and cleanse you.
Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”  We are broken, sinful people.  Because of our brokenness, we don’t even know all the ways we are broken.  Maybe we are puffed up with pride, thinking we are pretty good people.  Humans are experts at rationalizing our own bad behavior.  We are quick to point an accusing finger at others, naming all the ways they fall short, but we will make excuses for own bad behavior so we can continue to live a self-righteous fantacy.  This is a dangerous handicap for anyone who wants to follow Christ.  We need God’s help to be honest with ourselves and know the ways we fall short.  How can we ask God to forgive our sins and heal us if we don’t even know what they are?  We need God’s help.  We need Him to search us and clean us.

I hope you will not be too intimidated to invite God to examine your life.  It’s not like you could ever hide from Him anyway.  He made you and He knows everything about you already.  He knows you better than you know yourself.  What is missing is a conversation where God lovingly reveals what He knows to you.  I say lovingly reveals, because God is not mean-spirtited when He searches us.  He is gentle and kind.  He is honest.  He does not justify or rationalize our actions the way we would.  But God is also not as hard on us as we might be on ourselves.  We often view our bad behavior, bad attitudes, and mistakes in such a discouraging light, we berate ourselves and fall into despair.  But God knows the truth that it is neither as good nor as bad as we think.  God shows us the truth—which usually lies somewhere in the middle—and then He graciously helps us heal.

An unexamined life is not worth giving.
Romans 12:1 says, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”  Christians are to give themselves to God, completely.  In order to really give yourself to God, you’ve got to know who you really are.  Prayer, where we ask God to search us and reveal ourselves to ourselves is the only way we can then turn our true selves over to God.  Therefore, we need God to help us through examining prayer.

How do you do it?
Examining prayer doesn’t have to be complicated.  It includes two things:  1) considering how God was been present in your day and 2) inviting God to search your heart and cleanse you. 
As I mentioned already, you can simply sit down at your dinner table (or someplace quiet) with a pen and a piece of paper and just ask God to help you reflect on your day.  What did you do?  What details do you remember?  Who did you meet?  What were your thoughts?  What did you notice about the world around you?  Did you have any ideas come to you?  Did you feel there was something you should do?  There’s no need to put too much pressure on yourself or to be anxious that you won’t remember it all.  You see, it’s not all up to you.  You are asking God to help you remember what He wants you to remember.  Don’t you think He is able to do that?  Do you trust Him to help you remember what He wants you to remember and pass over those things He wants you to forget?  As you reflect, jot down some notes on paper so you can look back over your list later and always remember.  Some people find it helpful to use a journal to be more organized.  If that works for you, good; but it’s not necessary.  A simple piece of paper or a notepad will suffice.

Now, also ask God to search your heart and reveal anything that He wants you to know about your life.  Are there sins for which you need to repent?  Is there ungodly behavior or attitudes hiding in your heart?  Do you need to forgive someone?  Do you need to apologize to someone?  Do you need to forgive yourself?  What might be at the root of those thoughts and behaviors?  Ask God to show you.  Again, write down whatever He reveals so you can refer back to it later. 

Writing works well for me.  I truly envy people who remember names, people, details, events, etc. with remarkable clarity.  That amazes me, but that’s not me.  I have a terrible memory, so a written record is not only helpful, it is almost a necessity for me.  So, I like to-do lists and written spiritual journals.  That works well for me.  But these are not the only ways to participate in examining prayer.

Physical activity can be very helpful too.  God can reveal so much to you while you prayerfully reflect while you go for a walk, cut the grass or rake leaves, wash the dishes or vacuum.  So often, we just think of these activities as chores; but done in the right way, they can become prayer that shows us how God is with us all the time and helps us see who we really are.  And if your memory is such that you don’t need to write anything down to remember it, then pen and paper are not really necessary.  The point is to examine your life and let God examine you.

Monday, November 26, 2018

"Lord, Teach Us to Pray"

Introduction
It's time to get ready for Christmas.  In the Christian Church, we call this pre-Christmas season of preparation Advent.  We get ready to celebrate the birth of Christ, when the Son of God came to earth as an infant born in a manger.  We also remember that Jesus promised he would come again as the King of Glory returning in the clouds.  So as we prepare for Christmas, we also prepare for the second coming of Christ.  Are you ready for Jesus to return?

If you could ask Jesus to teach you one thing during Advent, what would it be?  We you ask: "LORD, teach me to raise my kids" or "manage my money" or "find someone to marry," "get along with my spouse," or teach me to trust You."  There are many things we might ask Jesus to teach us.  The Disciples asked Jesus to teach them something in the Gospel of Luke. 

Luke 11:1
Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Of All the Things…
Jesus did a lot of amazing things in his life. He healed people who was deaf, blind, lame.  He drove demons out of people.  One time, he drove a whole group of demons out of a man.  The demons begged Jesus to let them go into a heard of pigs and he did.  Then the herd of pigs ran off a cliff and plunge to their death in the sea!  Amazingly, Jesus once walked on water!  Jesus could do things no one else could do.

Of all the things the Disciples could have asked Jesus to teach them, they asked him to teach them to pray.  Jesus’ prayer life must been amazingly powerful to impress them more than all the others things he did.  Jesus’ prayers were special.

You know, when you find something you love to do, you're always trying to find time to sneak off and do it.  Some people sneak off to play golf.  Others sneak off to go fishing or hunting.  Some sneak off to see a football game or to be with their family.  Jesus loved to pray. He was always sneaking off to pray.  Matthew 14:23, " After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone."  Mark 1:35, "Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray."  Mark 6:46, "After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray."  Luke 5:16, "But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer." Jesus loved to sneak off and pray, because he loved to spend time with His Heavenly Father.  No one loved prayer or needed prayer or knew how to pray as powerfully as Jesus.  If you need to know how to pray, Jesus is the one to ask.

We Need to Learn How to Pray
The Disciples needed to know how to pray.  They lived in a tumultuous time. People often didn’t know where their next meal was coming from. Sickness, poverty, oppression, depression, and demon possession were rampant. The world was a dark, dark place. The Disciples desperately needed to know how to pray just so they could survive. So they asked Jesus to teach them.

I don't know about you, but when I look around, and I see a lot of darkness in our world today too.  It is said our country is more divided now than it has ever been.  (It is certainly more divided than I have ever known in my lifetime.)  There is a great darkness over our land – mass shootings, lawlessness, evil.  The Word of God is scorned by those outside the Church and forgotten by so many inside the Church.  I read a story this week about the United Church of Canada, where Canada’s second largest denomination decided to let a self-proclaimed atheist continue ministering in their church. Even though the minister doesn’t believe in God, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit, the United Church of Canada has decided not to remove her from ministry.[i]  That just makes no sense!  Sometimes, it just seems like the world is going crazy!  However, I’m not discouraged.  I am in God’s royal family.  I am a king in God's kingdom.  And when we feel like the world is too full of darkness, we can run to God in prayer.  So, we need say, "Jesus, teach us to pray."

It’s not just in dark times that we should run to God in prayer. It’s in all times. We need to learn how to pray—in good times, bad times, times of need, times of thanksgiving. We ought to go to God in prayer continually, as we would go talk to our wife, our husband, our parents, our best friend.

Christmas shows Jesus coming from Heaven to be with us. Prayer is our answer. Pray is us choosing to spend time with God through prayer in Jesus name. We can go confidently into God's presence in prayer. God loves for us to come. The great preacher and missionary Paul Washer said, “Just a glance of our eyes upward makes [God’s] heart beat faster.” 

Prayer is the avenue through which we involve God in every detail of our lives.
I am convinced, now more than ever, that prayer is the life blood of the Christian.  Prayer is not just something Christians do.  Prayer is everything!  Prayer is the life of a Christian.  Prayer is the answer to all our problems.  Prayer is the questions we need to ask.  Prayer is searching and prayer is the finding.  Prayer is the solution to all the personal troubles we face.  Prayer is the solutions to the darkness we see in our world.  Prayer is knowing the actual problems.  Prayer is the way to save a church that is shrinking and dying.  Prayer is the way to bring people to Christ.  Prayer is the way to turn our families back to the Lord.  Prayer is the way to find our way into the future—to know God’s vision for our lives, what career we should pursue, how to raised our family, who to vote for, how to exercise, what to eat for dinner, what to read, what to avoid, who to talk to, who to date, how fast to drive, what route to take home.  Prayer shows what programs our church needs to invest in and which ones we need to say goodbye to.  Prayer is how we find a way through sickness and depression, how we find true healing from the Lord.

Have you ever driven through a thick fog at night?  It so hard to see!  Your headlights only go out so far, so you have to be careful.  Pray is like our headlights that shine out through the foggy darkness to show the way.  Unfortunately, the prayer life of many is so weak, the light barely shines a foot or two out front.  You can't tell what you might run into in the darkness.  Others have no prayer life at all.  It's like their running down the highway at night and have switched off their headlights.  their in complete and total darkness, lost and about to run off the road into a tree!

We've got to pray, folks!  And prayer is not what you think it is.  It’s not just folding your hands and closing your eyes and saying a few words to God.  We’ve got to start thinking of prayer as more than we have before.  It's not just going through a prayer list and praying for people who are sick.  Prayer is not just us sitting around naming all the people we need to pray for and then saying, “We lift up Bobby and Suzy.”  That is one part of prayer, but it’s not enough by itself.  Prayer is so much more.  Prayer is communion with God, our Creator.  Prayer is what Adam and Eve did when they would walk and talk with God in Garden of Eden (before they so foolishly chose to listen to the serpent Satan and eat the forbidden fruit and fell into sin).  Prayer is what the prophet Elijah was doing when he was caught up in a whirlwind and taken to be with the Lord.  Prayer is what Jesus did constantly—sneaking away from the crowds to pray in a quiet place.  He loved to spend time with His Heavenly Father.  It is also what Jesus did to constantly conform His will to the Father’s.  It is how Jesus knew what to do and what not to do and when, so that He was always and everywhere “Lead by the Spirit.”  So the Scripture always says, “He was lead by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted…”  “He was lead by the Spirit to the Jordan river to be baptized…”  “He was lead by the Spirit to Galillee to teach the Gentiles…”  “He was lead by the Spirit to Jerusalem to die on the cross…” 

Invitation
I invite you to join me each week as we ask Jesus to teach how to pray for the next month.  "Lord, teach us to pray.”  I am asking the Lord to show me what He wants us to know about prayer.  I am praying about it daily and studying.  I will share what the Lord gives me every chance I get on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings at my church.  I invite you to come.  I will also share some of what I learn hear on my blog and on my church's Facebook pageWill you come and hear what the Lord might say to you?  Will you also ask the Lord to teach you to pray?




[i] https://www.wnd.com/2018/11/surprise-christian-church-lets-atheist-keep-pastoring/

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Day 31 of Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs Deovotional


Day 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.

Prayer
"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."

Read Proverbs Chapter 31
New American Standard Bible
Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase
Proverbs 31

The Words of Lemuel

1 The words of King Lemuel, the [a]oracle which his mother taught him:

2 What, O my son?
And what, O son of my womb?
And what, O son of my vows?

3 Do not give your strength to women,
Or your ways to that which destroys kings.

4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine,
Or for rulers to desire strong drink,

5 For they will drink and forget what is decreed,
And pervert the [b]rights of all the [c]afflicted.

6 Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to him [d]whose life is bitter.

7 Let him drink and forget his poverty
And remember his trouble no more.

8 Open your mouth for the mute,
For the [e]rights of all the [f]unfortunate.

9 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And [g]defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.

Description of a Worthy Woman

10 An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.

11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.

12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.

13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her [h]hands [i]in delight.

14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.

15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And [j]portions to her maidens.

16 She considers a field and buys it;
From [k]her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She girds [l]herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.

18 She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.

19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her [m]hands grasp the spindle.

20 She [n]extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.

21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And [o]supplies belts to the [p]tradesmen.

25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the [q]future.

26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the [r]teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:

29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”

30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who [s]fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

31 Give her the [t]product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.


Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 31:1 Or burden
  2. Proverbs 31:5 Lit judgment
  3. Proverbs 31:5 Lit sons of affliction
  4. Proverbs 31:6 Lit bitter of soul
  5. Proverbs 31:8 Lit judgment
  6. Proverbs 31:8 Lit sons of passing away
  7. Proverbs 31:9 Lit judge the afflicted
  8. Proverbs 31:13 Lit palms
  9. Proverbs 31:13 Or willingly
  10. Proverbs 31:15 Or prescribed tasks
  11. Proverbs 31:16 Lit the fruit of her palms
  12. Proverbs 31:17 Lit her loins
  13. Proverbs 31:19 Lit palms
  14. Proverbs 31:20 Lit spreads out her palm
  15. Proverbs 31:24 Lit gives
  16. Proverbs 31:24 Lit Canaanite
  17. Proverbs 31:25 Lit latter days
  18. Proverbs 31:26 Or law
  19. Proverbs 31:30 Or reverences
  20. Proverbs 31:31 Lit fruit
Proverbs 31

The Sayings of King Lemuel

1-3 Here’s an oracle King Lemuel’s mom taught him:
What would I say to the son I carried in my womb, the one I dedicated to God?  Don’t waste your time on women or throw away your life as a king.

4-7 Lemuel, it’s not good for kings to drink a lot of wine or for rulers to crave alcohol.  Their drinking may make them break their own laws or violate the rights of those in their care.  Alcohol is for people who are dying; wine is for people with a heavy heart.  They drink to forget their worries and troubles.

8-9 Speak up for those who are powerless; fight for the rights of the forgotten.  Speak up, do the right thing, and make sure the poor and needy are treated fair.

A Really Good Wife

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.

13-18 She buys the best raw materials and enjoys making things by hand.  She’s like the delivery man that brings surprise packages from far, far away; she brings the best, most delightfully unexpected food you can’t hardly ever get.  She gets up before the sun’s even out to start cooking for her family and she organizes the day’s events for the girls who’ll be helping her.  She inspects property and buys it; she invests her money in a profitable vineyard.  She’s a healthy, tireless hard worker.  She works late into the night to make sure her investments payoff.

19-25 She keeps her hands busy on the spindle spinning thread.  She is generous to the poor and warmly welcomes those who are in need.  She’s not afraid of snow because her family is warmly dressed in the very best clothing.  She puts together the best outfits, her’s are the finest material in splendid colors.  Her husband stands out to everyone in town and is welcome among the most important people in town.  She also sells fine clothing and supplies scarfs to the merchants.  She wears strength and dignity like a beautiful dress and joyfully looks forward to a very bright future.

26-27 Wisdom pours out every time she opens her mouth and her words shows everyone how to be kind. She’s never lazy. She manages her household well.

28-29 Her children proudly stand to bless her; her husband praises her too:  “Of all the good women in the world, you are the very best of all!”

30-31 A charming woman can mislead you and her physical beauty is an empty virtue, but a woman who reveres the Lord shines with His glorious splendor.




New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase of Proverbs (PCP)
Copyright © 2018 by Chris Mullis

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Day 30 of Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs Devotional


Day 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 am 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.

Prayer
"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."

Read Proverbs Chapter 30
New American Standard Bible
Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase
Proverbs 30
The Words of Agur

1 The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the [a]oracle.
The man declares to Ithiel, to Ithiel and Ucal:

2 Surely I am more stupid than any man,
And I do not have the understanding of a man.

3 Neither have I learned wisdom,
Nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One.

4 Who has ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has wrapped the waters in [b]His garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name or His son’s name?
Surely you know!

5 Every word of God is tested;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.

6 Do not add to His words
Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.

7 Two things I asked of You,
Do not refuse me before I die:

8 Keep deception and [c]lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,

9 That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

10 Do not slander a slave to his master,
Or he will curse you and you will be found guilty.

11 There is a [d]kind of man who curses his father
And does not bless his mother.

12 There is a [e]kind who is pure in his own eyes,
Yet is not washed from his filthiness.

13 There is a [f]kind—oh how lofty are his eyes!
And his eyelids are raised in arrogance.

14 There is a [g]kind of man whose teeth are like swords
And his jaw teeth like knives,
To devour the afflicted from the earth
And the needy from among men.

15 The leech has two daughters,
“Give,” “Give.”
There are three things that will not be satisfied,
Four that will not say, “Enough”:

16 [h]Sheol, and the barren womb,
Earth that is never satisfied with water,
And fire that never says, “Enough.”

17 The eye that mocks a father
And [i]scorns a mother,
The ravens of the valley will pick it out,
And the young eagles will eat it.

18 There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
Four which I do not understand:

19 The way of an eagle in the sky,
The way of a serpent on a rock,
The way of a ship in the middle of the sea,
And the way of a man with a maid.

20 This is the way of an adulterous woman:
She eats and wipes her mouth,
And says, “I have done no wrong.”

21 Under three things the earth quakes,
And under four, it cannot bear up:

22 Under a slave when he becomes king,
And a fool when he is satisfied with food,

23 Under an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
And a maidservant when she supplants her mistress.

24 Four things are small on the earth,
But they are exceedingly wise:

25 The ants are not a strong people,
But they prepare their food in the summer;

26 The [j]shephanim are not mighty people,
Yet they make their houses in the rocks;

27 The locusts have no king,
Yet all of them go out in ranks;

28 The lizard you may grasp with the hands,
Yet it is in kings’ palaces.

29 There are three things which are stately in their march,
Even four which are stately when they walk:

30 The lion which is mighty among beasts
And does not [k]retreat before any,

31 The [l]strutting rooster, the male goat also,
And a king when his army is with him.

32 If you have been foolish in exalting yourself
Or if you have plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth.

33 For the [m]churning of milk produces butter,
And pressing the nose brings forth blood;
So the [n]churning of anger produces strife.

Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 30:1 Or burden
  2. Proverbs 30:4 Lit the
  3. Proverbs 30:8 Lit words of falsehood
  4. Proverbs 30:11 Or generation
  5. Proverbs 30:12 Or generation
  6. Proverbs 30:13 Or generation
  7. Proverbs 30:14 Or generation
  8. Proverbs 30:16 I.e. The nether world
  9. Proverbs 30:17 Lit despises to obey
  10. Proverbs 30:26 Small, shy, furry animals (Hyrax syriacus) found in the peninsula of the Sinai, northern Israel, and the region round the Dead Sea; KJV coney, rig NASB badgers
  11. Proverbs 30:30 Lit turn back
  12. Proverbs 30:31 Lit girt in the loins
  13. Proverbs 30:33 Lit pressing
  14. Proverbs 30:33 Lit pressing
Proverbs 30

The Sayings of Agur

1 The sayings of the prophet Agur, Solomon’s son, which he gave to Ithiel and Ucal:

2 I’m the crudest person I know.  I’m an idiot.  

3 I haven’t learned anything and I’m completely unaware of what’s holy.

4 Who’s been up to heaven and back?  Who’s cupped his hands together to hold all the winds?  Who can soak up all the water on earth with the hem of his robe?  Who created everything you find in this world? What’s his name? Who’s his son?  Tell me if you know.

5 Everything God says is pure.  He protects those who trust Him. 

6 Don’t put words in His mouth or He’ll scold you and everyone will know your lie.

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 am too poor, I might insult Your holy reputation by stealing.

10 Don’t badmouth a worker to their employer.  They will curse you and you will pay for what you said.

11-14 A scornful generation disrespects fathers and criticizes mothers. A hypocritical generation thinks they’re perfect but is really filthy with sin. An arrogant generation looks down on others and thinks it’s better than everyone else. A greedy generation wants more and more, even taking advantage of the poor and needy, but they are never satisfied.

15-16 The leech’s two daughters beg constantly, “More! More!”  Three things are never satisfied; four have never even said the word “enough”: the grave, a woman longing for a child, the thirsty dessert, and a burning fire.  These are never fully satisfied.

17 Eyes that roll when their father speaks or stare contemptuously when their mother tells them to do something will get pecked out by ravens in the river valley and eaten by vultures.

18-19 There are three things that are just beyond me; four I’ll never understand: how an eagle soars in the sky, a snake slithers through the rocks, a ship sails on the ocean, and how a man loves a woman.

20 This is what a cheating wife does:  she devours a man and wipes her lips. She looks around innocently and says, “What? I didn't do anything.”

21-23 Three thing make the earth quiver beneath us; four completely exhaust it:  a bondservant who becomes a king, a fool who always has plenty to eat, a hateful woman who somehow gets married, and a servant girl who takes her mistress' place.

24-28 There are four things that are so small, but they are more clever than the wisest people:  tiny little ants aren’t strong at all, but they store up food all summer long, hyraxes are weak and shy, so they make their home high up in the desolate rocks, locusts have no one to lead them, but they still swarm out together like an army to cut everything to pieces, lizards, which are easy to catch, but live everywhere--even in the king’s palace.

29-31 There are three things that walk around full of pride; four full of magnificence: the lion, which is the king of the beasts and doesn’t run from anyone, a rooster strutting his stuff, a male goat ready to butt his opponent, and a king parading before a people who love him.

32-33 If you’re bragging about yourself like an idiot or have a bad attitude, please keep your mouth shut; because if you press curds, it makes cheese and if you punch a nose it bleeds.  Well, if you keep pushing someone who’s angry, it’s going to cause big trouble.



New American Standard Bible (NASB)
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Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase of Proverbs (PCP)
Copyright © 2018 by Chris Mullis