Proverbs

The cover image shows a fire consuming what is of no use.

Things we must know as early as possible

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25. We must navigate through the maze. We cannot trust anyone but our parents to have our best interests at heart. We need some help, and this is where Proverbs comes in. This is common sense. This is practical wisdom. We know this is right because we agree with the logic of it. It is structured, and highlights the “must know” information at each stage of growing, so we can be the person we want to be.

How do we respond when they ask us to join them in getting rich at the expense of everyone else? What is the focus that will keep us safe? How do we identify those who want to use us and take advantage of our power and virtue? What do we say when they pressure us to meet their demands? How do we respond to authority? How do we deal with our teachers? Why learn and strive? What are we doing here anyway? Who are these people, and what do they expect?

The most important question is; why do what they say? What difference does it make anyway? How do I know what is best for me?

Proverbs are wise sayings that answer these issues. They explain the problems, and give the answers. Understand them and we will not fail. They are presented in such a way we will be riveted to the next phase of the process. Proverbs build from the simple to the most complex issues we can imagine. Every problem we face is covered. Most of these are to do with others, and how to get on without conflict. We want to win, and we need to know how to do it. Experience is greatly overrated. It would be nice to know what to do before we make a fatal error?

Romans

Romans 4

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26. Have you ever noticed how people grasp at anything on the spir of the moment to defend their position on this or that question? The attempts at defense are feeble at best. It is because they do not think it through. They have been caught off guard, or have not given it much time, and throw anything into the pot just to deflect what they do not accept.

We need to do better than that. We need to spend the time to get it right or have a plausible excuse for rejecting something. The book of Romans is a robust argument about logical matters. We must stand up and answer the question. If we cannot do this we should become Politicians, because it is their job to use words to deflect everything away, right or wrong. We do not want to be politicians because they are just people of many words. We are prepared to account for our words.

The proof of God is in what he made. If we say we prefer to worship the creature more than the creator then that is our choice, but it leaves us without an excuse when it is shown to be wrong. Everyone has the choice. Just do not ignore the obvious because we will be exposed.

Romans tells us not everyone needs to know everything, but there are some things we must know, and burying our head in the sand does not make the issue disappear. Resolve it in a proper way. We do not want to be known as shallow. We like to think there is some substance in our position. So let’s get it right.

Philemon

The cover image shows men being led away as captives with an uncertain future.

The captives

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24. If we think we can handle being led away captive, then try being barefoot with your buttocks uncovered. Everything conspires to bring shame on this group of captives in the eyes of those who observe. It is not because there is shame, but because others see it that way. These same people look down on dark skinned people and despise those less fortunate. The captives are not to respond to this view. One thing they know, there is no one with a higher standing in this group of captives than another, for the Egyptian and the Ethiopian are the same before God.

So why has it taken so long for the Human Race to accept that a social system cannot discriminate on the basis of ethnic background? What is the difference between one race of people and the next? If we say it is money, then how does money make the difference clear? If we say: the rich are blessed by God, then the difference is between ourselves and the Bible that denies it.

Philemon is the smallest book in the 66, having only one chapter. How can it stand amongst those that have much more to say? The message is more powerful than the bigger books.

Micah

Micah 12

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23. In Micah there is a day, and it is special. Everything will change for the better on that day and world history as we know it will be relegated to the archives. The world will have a different set of values and what we record and marvel about will be events people thought were unimportant. Those events will be told and God alone will be exalted.

It does not matter what event it is, we always mention those who are the pioneers of the event and celebrate their contribution to the progress of our movement. Micah has a special day in mind and he is quick to tell us: no man will be remembered on that day. God alone will be the one whose record is remembered and recited. We may be among those who feel this is a bit rich, given the many worthy people who have played a part in the unfolding of our illustrious history. We may think this, but it is clear that God does not think this, and he has told us in Micah, that on that day: the lofty looks of men will be humbled and God alone exalted.

Many will say: well, I won’t exalt him because he didn’t do anything for me. We might take another look at that question, and we might change our tune. Do you imagine what we see is what God made? Was it the plan for man to destroy the earth and leave it an uninhabitable mess? We talk today about the tipping point where we cannot prevent annihilation and claim we must act now. Do we think we will ever act to change what we know will steal our world from our grandchildren?

Malachi

The cover image shows an angry man on the verge of violence.

This is an angry man

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It is nice when we are all in agreement. But what do we do when we do not agree? Malachi is only four chapters long, so we have no reason to believe we cannot get to the bottom of it. Not many times are we told everyone has it wrong. This time we get told in no uncertain terms. We need to wait for the argument to see the issue. We need to listen to the argument in Malachi, for it affects everything we do.

This book will reveal more about us than we want to know. But what we want and what we need are two different things. What we need is to be true. It would be good if what we need and what we want are the same. We would be getting somewhere then.

The cover photos on this book of Malachi show a man in a rage. All he wants is for you to back down and admit he is right. This unpleasant incident can be over if only you will admit to being wrong. The sooner you bow to his wishes the sooner he will get out of your face. Delay and he will explode.

What is he so angry about? Is there a problem here? Are you talking to me? We need to get to the bottom of this because it goes to who we are.

Judges

Judges 3

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The period of the Judges reads like a horror story. Nobody would want to live in Israel under those conditions. How did they survive and why was God always intervening to deliver them when they did not deserve to be delivered?

If God joins your enemies together you need to start running. Do not worry about what you have left behind. You have a start on them, and you need that advantage. Your enemies are those who disagree with you, and especially those with whom you have disagreed. If you are a disagreeable person then they will be many, and when they join forces they will be more than you can handle.

We make judgments all day every day, and each one must be right and true. James tells us not to be many masters because the judgments are many, and the likelihood of getting some wrong is high. Err on the side of compassion and it may help, but judgment that is wrong will not help at all. So practice to answer and get it right, and have many friends.

What about the story of Samson? What is that about? The victory of Gideon and the way he hesitated not believing God would be with him? There is no accounting for the vow of Jephthah that led to the death of his daughter?

Jude

Jude 10

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20. Jude was a half brother of Jesus and the son of Mary and Joseph. He had something to say, and he regretted having to say it. If we were that close to Jesus I wonder what we would have to say? He was going to talk about the blessings of deliverance, but he changed his mind and turned it into a warning. There were many things to be happy about, but many things that could bring us undone.

The subject of Jude is: My heart shall cry out for Moab. They fled from Sodom and the obvious threat that destruction meant. They escaped and made their way to Zoar, but they did not want to go. Their heart was somewhere else.

How do we feel about those who leave the believer community? What can we say to convince them to return? These were determined and forceful men and women, whose agenda left no room for sentiment. They knew what they wanted and would do all they could to get it. We say they are foolish, but they did not see it that way. They had control of their lives, and nothing would stand in their way.

They wanted motherhood and they saw it slipping away, so they made their father drunk with wine and slept with him so they could become pregnant. Moab and Ammon are born, and they become enemies of Israel. This is a sad story and becomes a powerful lesson. Jude told his story and in the second letter Peter repeats it. This is must read information.

John

The cover image shows a judge about to announce a pardon.

This is a judge who has a pleasant surprise for us.

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19. You know how everyone loves John as if it has something special for them. When we know about the eight signs of John it becomes a frightening message of justice and corruption.

John is a special person, and this is a special book. That it is necessary to write this way is witness to the God we serve. He will abundantly pardon even though he is dealing with guilty people. We have no idea of the one we worship until we see it in this book. There are other books that show the same, but none like this one.

John is the book everyone keeps when they throw the others away. They do not know what they do, because they do it for the wrong reason. I hope after this reading of John we put it back together with the other sixty five and call it all “The Word of God.”

The Isaiah chapter and the book of John show how guilty Israel are, and still imply that God can abundantly pardon. That is quite amazing, and we need to know how that works. What is the point of the eight signs? How do these miracles string together? Why are these signs so special? What is so good about the pardon?

Joel

The cover image shows a new harvester ready for duty.

This is a new threshing instrument with teeth.

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23. For Israel to do the work assigned to them in the last days, they need to exist as a nation. We are able to report that they do exist, in the land given to them in the first place by God. Joel brings end-day prophecy alive, because all who live in this world can see events unfolding just as the prophet claimed they would. The details are  unsettling. But we want to know about them, for we need to know.

Israel was taken from the land, and Israel is back. They will tell you it is because they are a determined and resourceful people. Joel claims they are a protected people, with a divine destiny. The world today is looking at a people under nuclear threat, whose enemies have pledged to annihilate them as soon as they can.

Nobody expects Israel to survive because the odds are against them. Everyone fails to see they will survive because God has decreed it. Nobody believes God will save Israel, for they are rejected.

If we believe that; then get the most brilliant Queen’s Counsels to put words together, because you must plead your cause before the judge of all the earth, and I for one, do not like your chances.

It is no use imposing judicial constraints if you cannot enforce them. It is like a judge without prison officers and a Police Force. But if you give the enforcers more power because they need it, then a judge can impose any penalty he wants.

If as Joel claims, God is going to bring all the nations of the world into the Courtroom and present a case against them, then he will need some people to provide the follow-on. A sovereign state is not going to bow to the dictates of a Court that does not have jurisdiction. The first order of business is to establish the right of the prosecution to bring the charge, and the second matter concerns how he will enforce an adverse finding. In Joel, God has signaled he will come up with an adverse finding against the nations in our world.

 

Job

The cover shows a religious lady confident in her way.

The most amazing story

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Job is one of the longest poems we will read. It is beautifully written; and we know it has an important message for us. But what is it about? We can listen to the debate over and over and miss the point so easily, by getting misled by the commentators. So we are having another look at Job to get it right this time.

If I told you it is about a beautiful and pious lady that you can see on the cover, you will not believe me, so I will leave that till later. The only lady mentioned in the book is Job’s wife and his daughters and his wife has a minor part to play. So where does this lady come from, and what has she to say?

This matter must be debated, for many have a faulty view of how God as a father deals with his children. If we want to know the answer we need to enter into this debate, or stand in the gallery while this matter is played out before us. Many work hard to make sure they have God in their debt and do these deals where they get what they want without disappointment. One thing we can say is: it does not work like that.

But to find out how it works, we need to sit silently in the dust while the matter is discussed and draw the right conclusion in the end. This is riveting, and will have you spellbound until the last word is spoken.