Proverbs 28:6

Be Careful of Equating Wealth with Blessing

Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a rich man whose ways are perverse.

I recently read of a survey taken in San Diego where wealthy people in an affluent bedroom community were interviewed regarding the source of their riches. An overwhelming majority of those interviewed said they definitely believed they were rich because God had blessed the character and content of their lives with material prosperity. Now they were right in assuming God allowed them to become wealthy, but they were not necessarily right in assuming their wealth was a blessing of God. It could be a curse.

Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God(Matthew 19:24). His disciples were astounded. They carried with them the belief God must have enriched the rich man because of his piety or excellent character. But as James tells us, “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?(James 2:5) The rich person who has the short view and whose ways are perverse is infinitely poorer than the poor person who has Christ.

Scriptural Examples

The Rich Man and Lazarus. By all earthly appearances, the wealthy and high living rich man was blessed by God in his riches, while the homeless beggar Lazarus was the scourge of the earth. But in the final analysis, their roles reversed. Lazarus found himself in Abraham’s bosom while the rich man was in torment (Luke 16:19-31).

The poor widow. While rich men were putting their 10 percent into the temple treasury, this woman gave 100 percent—all she had. Her trust was rightly grounded in the Living God and not in her meager coins (Luke 21:1-4; Matthew 6:3).

Prayer of Application

Father, thank You for providing my material needs. But they pale in comparison to my need for salvation. Thank You for sending Your Son to shed His blood for my eternal need.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley
Bob’s new eBook “The Life of Flavius Josephus”- A Paraphrase, is now available for $0.99 at www.Amazon.com. Visit www.readjosephus.com for more information on that book and the soon to be released “The Jewish Wars” – A Paraphrase

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Proverbs 28:4-5

Conform to the Standard of God’s Law

4) Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law resist them. 5) Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.

During the Reformation, Roman Catholics brought charges of lawlessness against those who said “justification is by faith alone.” They claimed this “legal fiction” led to lawlessness, and insisted people need to be conformed to the law of the church in order to be saved. But to those who truly understand God’s grace, their only response to His free gift of salvation can be to obey His law. The Protestants said justification is by faith alone, but it is not a faith that stands alone. True faith produces obedience.

Jesus said, “By their [people’s] fruit you will recognize them(Matthew 7:16). And what are the fruits of lawless people? Two such fruits are listed above. In verse 4, the lawless praise those who are also lawless. In verse 5, wicked people do not comprehend justice, or right judgment. (See Romans 1:18-32 for more fruits of the wicked.)

The lawless have this in common with all lawbreakers: they are openly hostile to God. They do not submit to God’s law, nor can they (Romans 8:7). Hostility loves company. Their numbers give each a sense of strength. They even know their actions deserve death, but that doesn’t stop them (Romans 1:32).

But the man or woman who has been saved by God’s grace warns others about the dead end of lawlessness and seeks instead the godly life which is aligned with the law of Christ.

Scriptural Examples

Noah. Living in an era of unbridled lawlessness, this godly man preached of the coming judgment. The lawless around him joined hands and mocked him. But the ark’s doors were shut and God’s wrath was unleashed upon them (Genesis 6:9-7:6; 2 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 11:7). (Notice in this last reference that Noah was an heir of the righteousness that is by faith.)

Prayer of Application

Father, I love You because You first loved me and sent Your Son to die that I might be justified in Your sight, saved only by the blood of Jesus. Because of this, I love to obey You.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley
Bob’s new eBook “The Life of Flavius Josephus”- A Paraphrase, is now available for $0.99 at www.Amazon.com. Visit www.readjosephus.com for more information on that book and the soon to be released “The Jewish Wars” – A Paraphrase

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Proverbs 28:3

Beware of Your Propensity to Betray Trust

A ruler [KJV: “poor man”] who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.

The Hebrew words geber ras, translated “ruler” by the NIV, actually mean “poor man.” (The KJV is right.) Apparently the NIV translators “corrected” the text by inserting the (apparently) more logical word. But the simile suggests otherwise. As a rainstorm approaches, the farmer says, “Oh, boy! This is good. The rain will help the crops grow.” But the driving rain destroys his crops in its ferocity and the farmer is left poorer yet. Isn’t this what can happen when a poor man comes into power?

One needs only to think of the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and Adolf Hitler to find examples of poor people who oppressed those they came to serve. The powerful poor person may have no comprehension of the nature and requirements of his position, and in his fearful mistrust of all, seek to rule with an iron fist. His own poor roots have become the seed of his betrayal of those who brought him to power.

Likewise, we need to watch carefully our own faithfulness to those who have put us in authority. If you are elevated in your church, your community, your business or organization, or your family, be careful that you do not forget your poor roots and betray the very ones who trusted you to serve them.

Scriptural Examples

Scribes and Pharisees. These hypocrites oppressed others. Jesus said that they sat in Moses’ seat and “tie[d] up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” How very different Jesus was (Matthew 23:1-4).

Zacchaeus. Jesus called to him and invited Himself to dine at Zacchaeus’s home. Confessing his sin of oppressing the poor, Zacchaeus found forgiveness that day (Luke 19:2-9).

Prayer of Application

Lord, Your Word says that You are very concerned about our treatment of the poor. Help me to lead others in humility and the fear of the Lord, and not to oppress in any way.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley
Bob’s new eBook “The Life of Flavius Josephus”- A Paraphrase, is now available for $0.99 at www.Amazon.com. Visit www.readjosephus.com for more information on that book and the soon to be released “The Jewish Wars” – A Paraphrase

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Proverbs 28:2

Beware of Sin’s Anarchy

When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order.

God established government for the purpose of maintaining law and order (Romans 13:1-5). The word anarchy is from the Greek anarchia meaning lack of a leader. It is a state or society without government or laws. Anarchy is diametrically opposed to God’s will.

In Anarchism: Left, Right, and Green, (City Light Books; San Francisco), Ulrike Heider interviewed leaders of three wings of anarchism: the left wing, or radical Communists; the right wing neo-Nazis; and the green wing of the “eco[logical]-anarchist” Green Party. Anarchism is rampant, because people delight in doing their own thing without governmental interference.

But this proverb also speaks of the anarchist that resides in all of us. Countries are rebellious because people are rebellious. Without God at the control of our lives through the power of His Spirit, sin can gain control. If we allow “the man of understanding and knowledge” — the Lord Jesus Christ — to be dethroned from His position of authority in our lives, we are then slaves to “many rulers” — the manifold nature of sin.

Sin can creep into our lives even in things that are neutral (1 Corinthians 6:12). We need to be constantly on guard that it does not lead us away from God, lest we become enslaved to its rule.

Scriptural Examples

Rehoboam and Israel. Rehoboam began his reign by angering the people. He listened to his young, rebellious friends while refusing to listen to the wise counsel of the elders. This split the kingdom, as 10 rebellious tribes refused to follow him. Only Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to the house of David. Interestingly, the Davidic dynasty lasted 350 years, but the rebellious people of the other tribes had many rulers: nine different dynasties in about 200 years (1 Kings 12:16-21).

Prayer of Application

Father, inside me there remains a seed of rebellion. Help me to live only for Your glory and honor, forsaking all other paths, and living under the authority of Your Word and by Your Spirit.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley
Bob’s new eBook “The Life of Flavius Josephus”- A Paraphrase, is now available for $0.99 at www.Amazon.com. Visit www.readjosephus.com for more information on that book and the soon to be released “The Jewish Wars” – A Paraphrase

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Proverbs 28:1

Be Bold in Christ’s Righteousness

The wicked [KJV: “lawless”] flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

I love the 23rd Psalm, particularly the verse that says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” The man or woman of God, who like David has been made righteous by the righteousness imputed to him by Christ, confidently expects the goodness and grace of the Lord to follow him everywhere he goes (Romans 8:28). The natural person should expect exactly the opposite. He should look over his shoulder, anticipating only wrath and anger (Romans 2:8).

We’re told by modern psychologists that humankind’s problems stem from a guilt complex. If we could only get rid of our guilt, we’d be able to toss off our fears and anxieties, our phobias and our psychoses. But the Bible says that our guilt can only be washed away by the blood of Christ. Guilt is real, and its cause is self-seeking sin and the rejection of God’s truth.

Throughout Scripture, the Messiah is known as the Lion of Judah (Genesis 49:9; Hosea 5:14; 11:10; Revelation 5:5). Christ is that Lion and His righteous ones may be as bold as He is. No longer beset with guilt that causes him to fear, the Christian can look forward with confidence (Philippians 3:13). His Master and Brother is not just king of the jungle but King of Kings.

Scriptural Examples

Adam and Eve. Following their sin they hid in the garden. Why? Because they were afraid. Although they were naked before the Fall, (perhaps covered with a shimmering glow of righteousness), it was the shame and guilt of their sin that exposed their nakedness to their eyes, and brought fear (Genesis 3:9-10).

Caleb and Joshua. While the other 10 spies at Kadesh Barnea were fearful of giants, these men were bold as lions and confidently argued for an immediate attack and occupation of what God had promised (Numbers 14:6-10).

Prayer of Application

Sovereign Lord, you are truly the Lion of Judah. Even today You are in control of all things. Make me bold, Lord, in the knowledge that through Your strengthening, I can do all things.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley
Bob’s new eBook “The Life of Flavius Josephus”- A Paraphrase, is now available for $0.99 at www.Amazon.com. Visit www.readjosephus.com for more information on that book and the soon to be released “The Jewish Wars” – A Paraphrase

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Proverbs 28: Introduction

Proverbs and the Christian Life

Proverbs 28:9 should be memorized by everyone who embraces the name “Christian.” It states simply, “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable.” What arrogance to think that we can disregard God’s precepts — His law — and believe that He will regard our prayers. Some teach that a person can be saved and yet continue to live in a state of sin. Now while it is true that we all sin (1 John 1:8), 1 John 2:6 says, “Whoever claims to live in [Christ] must walk as Jesus did.” That is, the believer must walk in righteousness, leaving old habits and patterns of sinful behavior in the past.

Repentance is crucial to the Christian life. Take a look at the back of your hand. Pretend for a moment that the back of your hand is the practice of sin in your life. Now turn your hand over and look at your palm. We’ll call the palm side of your hand the Christian life. Just as when we turn our hand toward its palm the back of our hand turns away, so when we turn to Christ we turn away from the practice of sin. That is what repentance is. When we are saved and encounter the righteous and holy God, we should want nothing to do with sin. Yet sin is still “at work within [our] members(Romans 7:23). Paul cries out with us, “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord(Romans 7:24-25).

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley
Bob’s new eBook “The Life of Flavius Josephus”- A Paraphrase, is now available for $0.99 at www.Amazon.com. Visit www.readjosephus.com for more information on that book and the soon to be released “The Jewish Wars” – A Paraphrase

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Proverbs 27:23-27

Prepare for the Future in Diligence and Faith

23) Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; 24) for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations. 25) When the hay is removed and new growth appears and the grass from the hills is gathered in, 26) the lambs will provide you with clothing, and the goats with the price of a field. 27) You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed you and your family, and to nourish your servant girls.

I don’t own any flocks or herds, not even a single goat. I do have a modest portfolio of common stocks, but I never made it to the goal of “financial independence.” I like to say that I could retire tomorrow, but only if I were to die next week. (Since the time this was written, I have retired, and continue thank God as the Source of all I have.)

The wealth of this world is fickle and fleeting (Matthew 6:19), and in the final analysis, cannot be relied upon to provide us with so much as a cup of coffee in the future. We are to rely upon God as the ultimate source of all we have. He is absolutely reliable, and our hearts can rest content in the knowledge that if all our investments flop, and our pension plan goes bankrupt, and if the Social Security system fails, God will provide for all our needs (Isaiah 58:11; Philippians 4:19). But does this knowledge preclude us from being diligent about providing for the future? These verses pronounce an emphatic “No!”

Scriptural Examples

Jacob. Jacob diligently tended Laban’s flocks and then carved out of them massive flocks and herds of his own. When he returned to his homeland, he had plenty to take with him. By his careful preparation Jacob ensured food for his large family and nourishment for his servant girls (Genesis 30 and 31).

Boaz. Boaz personally looked after his flocks and his fields. He exercised diligence in his work and in his provision for the future (Ruth 2:1-16; 3:6-13).

Prayer of Application

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to trust You alone as the Great Provider of all things. But then help me to do my part in providing for my needs and for those of my family.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley
Bob’s new eBook “The Life of Flavius Josephus”- A Paraphrase, is now available for $0.99 at www.Amazon.com. Visit www.readjosephus.com for more information on that book and the soon to be released “The Jewish Wars” – A Paraphrase

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Proverbs 27:22

Only God Can Grind Sense into a Fool

Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding him like grain with a pestle, you will not remove his folly from him.

My parents once took us on a trip to the Grand Canyon. We also saw the Wupatki National Monument near Flagstaff, which is the site of ancient Indian ruins. There, we saw the foundations and subfloors of ancient houses that had crumbled in the rush of years and harsh elements.

Everywhere we looked, we saw smooth concave holes in the venerable stone floors. These, the guide explained, were mortars, where grain was ground with a pestle. By crushing the grain between the movable pestle and the immovable mortar, the chaff was removed and the edible portion of the grain was exposed. Then the grain was ground to meal under the same pressure. The mortar and pestle is a great tool for processing food, but that same tool is useless for processing fools.

The late Charles Colson founded Prison Fellowship because he knew that if people were to be truly penitent for their sins, they needed to be reconciled to God. Today, in prisons across America, men and women are meeting the Savior in their jail cells because of the work of prison ministries. No, you’ll never remove the folly of a fool by grinding him with a mortar and pestle. But God can do it by Him who was ground to death for our folly, and raised again for our justification (Romans 4:25).

Scriptural Examples

Ahaz. This foolish king of Judah suffered bitterly because of his unfaithfulness. But after it all, “in his time of trouble, Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord(2 Chronicles 28:22).

Manasseh. Again, a foolish king brought trouble upon himself and his kingdom. Unlike Ahaz, Manasseh called upon the Lord and the Lord delivered him from it (2 Chronicles 33:1-20).

Prayer of Application

Dear Lord, thank You for all prison ministries. The gospel is the only real hope and the only way that folly can ever be removed from a fool. Give them grace to continue their work.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley
Bob’s new eBook “The Life of Flavius Josephus”- A Paraphrase, is now available for $0.99 at www.Amazon.com. Visit www.readjosephus.com for more information on that book and the soon to be released “The Jewish Wars” – A Paraphrase

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Proverbs 27:21

Use Care in Giving and Receiving Praise

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.

Part of God’s testing us involves praise, both its giving and receiving. Derek Kidner says an alternate reading might be, “we stand revealed by what we praise” (p. 168).

If you are anything like me, you like to have others say nice things about you. Honest praise lifts us up and puts a spring in our step. We feel accepted. Praise is okay as long as we maintain a proper perspective and are not puffed up by it. Charles Bridges says, “It is a dangerous crisis when a proud heart meets flattering lips” (p. 521). The heart is deceitful beyond imagining (Jeremiah 17:9) and often flattery or the praise of others is its fuel.

How do we avoid the temptation of becoming a legend in our own mind? One way — not recommended — would be to marry the quarrelsome and critical spouse (Proverbs 27:15-16). But there is a less painful way. Remember to “live your life for the Audience of One,” to borrow a phrase from Os Guinness. Let God be the source of your praise, if you qualify for any. Live to please God and not others. Then, by seriously attempting to match your life against God’s Word, you will be kept in humble submission to His grace.

Scriptural Examples

The Pharisees. Some say none of the Jews believed in Jesus. Oh, but they did! In fact, many of the Jewish leaders believed in Him, but were afraid to confess Him because they loved the praise of others more than the praise of God. Don’t get caught in their trap (John 12:42-43).

Paul and Barnabas. With their popularity they could have started their own TV ministry and cashed in on their stardom! But no. They were eager to give all credit to God. Like them, let’s live for our Audience of One (Acts 14:11-15).

Prayer of Application

Lord, I need the gospel every minute. First, to remind me I am dead and without hope except through You. Then to remind me who You are a holy, all-powerful, and loving God.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley
Bob’s new eBook “The Life of Flavius Josephus”- A Paraphrase, is now available for $0.99 at www.Amazon.com. Visit www.readjosephus.com for more information on that book and the soon to be released “The Jewish Wars” – A Paraphrase

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Proverbs 27:20

Find Satisfaction in Christ Alone

Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man.

I recently attended an annual automobile show in Cleveland. There, shining brightly beneath floodlamps were new cars from all over the world. Hundreds of us “lookieloos” feasted our eyes on glistening new paint and soft leather bucket seats. Such are the eyes of people. We see it and we want it.

The main force that keeps the automobile industry churning out new models every year is the truth of this verse. People want something newer and prettier and more expensive than our neighbor’s. It is what has built American industry. But it is a treadmill to nowhere. Its end apart from God is “Death and Destruction.”

Augustine said, “O, Lord, thou hast made us for thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.” Christ is where the “buck” of restlessness and dissatisfaction stops. We will never find peace and contentment (Philippians 4:11-13) until we find it in Him.

What is it about Christ that beckons us? Christ gives us a new perspective on life, a new sense of purpose, and a faith in the Sovereign God that submits to His reign over our lives. By faith, we enter the rest of God and find a peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7). Let us make every effort to enter that rest (Hebrews 4:10-11) and be satisfied in the One who gives us all things freely to enjoy (Romans 8:32).

Scriptural Examples

The woman at the well. Jesus approached this Samaritan woman and asked her for a drink. He then spoke of her lover and five former husbands. Why do you suppose she had had five husbands and was now living with a man? Could it be that she wasn’t satisfied? Christ spoke to her of her thirst and how by normal water it is never satisfied. Only He could give her living water, the drink which satisfies eternally (John 4:5-26).

Prayer of Application

Lord, the blessings of plenty can become a curse if they become an end in themselves. Help me to tell others of the genuine satisfaction in Christ.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley
Bob’s new eBook “The Life of Flavius Josephus”- A Paraphrase, is now available for $0.99 at www.Amazon.com. Visit www.readjosephus.com for more information on that book and the soon to be released “The Jewish Wars” – A Paraphrase

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