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Last day! Let’s finish off strong! Read Proverbs chapter 31 for the final March Madness Proverbs event!

From the Life Application Bible :

Verse 1: Little is known about Lemuel except that he was a king who received wise teachings from his mother. His name means “devoted to God.” Some believe that Lamuel and Agur were both from the kingdom of Massa in northern Arabia.

Verses 4-7: Drunkenness might be understandable among dying people in great pain, but it is inexcusable for national leaders. Alcohol clouds the mind and can lead to injustice and poor decisions. People in leadership who anesthetize themselves with alcohol will eventually compromise their principles.

Verses 10-31: Proverbs has a lot to say about women. How fitting that the book ends with a picture of a woman of strong character, great wisdom, many skills, and great compassion.

Some people have the mistaken idea that the ideal woman in the Bible is retiring, servile, and entirely domestic. Not so! This woman is an excellent wife and mother. She is also a manufacturer, importer, manager, realtor, farmer, seamstress, upholsterer, and merchant. Her strength and dignity do not come from her amazing achievements, however. They are a result of her reverence for God. In our society, where physical appearance counts for so much, it may surprise us to realize that her appearance is never mentioned. Her attractiveness comes entirely from her character.

The woman described in this chapter has outstanding abilities. Her family’s social position is high. In fact, she may not be one woman at all – she may be a composite portrait of ideal womanhood. Do not see her as a model to imitate in every detail; your days are not long enough to do everything she does! See her instead as an inspiration to be all you can be. We can’t be just like her, but we can learn from her industry, integrity, and resourcefulness.

Verse 31: The book of Proverbs begins with the command to fear the Lord (1:7) and ends with the picture of a woman who fulfills this command. Her qualities are mentioned throughout the book: hard work, fear of God, respect for spouse, foresight, encouragement, care for others, concern for the poor, wisdom in handling money. These qualities, when coupled with fear of God, lead to enjoyment, success, honor, and worth. Proverbs is practical for us because it shows how to become wise, make good decisions, and live according to God’s ideal.

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Second to last chapter! Come on, you can do it! Read Proverbs chapter 30 for today!

From the Life Application Bible:

Verse 1: The origin of these sayings is not clear. Nothing is known about Agur except that he was a wise teacher who may have come from Lemuel’s kingdom.

Verses 2-4: Because God is infinite, certain aspects of his nature will always remain a mystery. Compare these questions with the questions God asked Job (Job 38-41).

Verse 4: Some scholars feel that the son referred to is the Son of God, the preincarnate being of the Messiah who, before the foundation of the earth, participated in the Creation. Colossians 1:16, 17 teaches that through Christ the world was created.

Verses 7-9: Having too much money can be dangerous, but so can having too little. Being poor can, in fact, be hazardous to spiritual as well as physical health. On the other hand, being rich is not the answer. As Jesus pointed out, rich people have trouble getting into God’s Kingdom (Matthew 19:23, 24). Like Paul, we can learn how to live whether we have little or plenty (Philippians 4:12), but our lives are more likely to be effective if we have “neither poverty nor riches.”

Verse 13: This phrase refers to prideful and haughty people who look down on others. Verses 11-14 contain a fourfold description of arrogance.

Verse 15ff: “Three things…no, four” is a poetic way of saying the list is not complete. The writer of these proverbs is observing the world with delighted interest. Verses 15-31 are an invitation to look at nature from the perspective of a keen observer.

Verses 24-28: Ants can teach us about preparation, badgers about wise building; locusts about cooperation and order; and lizards about fearlessness.

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Read Proverbs chapter 29 for today’s March Madness!

Edit: I actually mixed up chapter 28 & 29. Sorry about that. It’s fixed now.

From the Life Application Bible:

Verse 13: “The Lord gives light to the eyes of both” means that everyone depends on God for sight. Both the oppressor and the poor have the gift of sight from the same God. God sees and judges both, and his judgment falls on those whose greed or power drives them to oppress the poor.

Verse 15: Parents of young children often weary of disciplining them. They feel like all they do is nag, scold, and punish. When you’re tempted to give up and let your children do what they want, or when you wonder if you’ve ruined every chance for a loving relationship with them, remember that kind, firm correction helps them learn, and learning makes them wise. Consistent, loving discipline will ultimately teach them to discipline themselves.

Verse 16: When the wicked are in leadership, sin prevails. In any organization – whether a church, a business, a family, or a government – the climate comes from the top. The people become like their leaders. What kind of climate are you setting for the people you lead?

Verse 18: “Divine guidance” refers to words from God received by prophets. Where there is ignorance of God, crime and sin run rampant. Public morality depends on the knowledge of God, but it also depends on keeping God’s laws. In order for nations and individuals to function well, people must know God’s ways and keep his rules.

Verse 24: This proverb is saying that a thief’s accomplice won’t tell the truth when under oath. Thus, by his perjury, he will hurt himself.

Verse 25: Fear of people can hamper everything you try to do. In extreme forms, it can make you afraid to leave your home. By contrast, fear of God – respect, reverence, and trust – is liberating. Why fear people who can do no eternal harm? Instead, trust God who can turn the harm intended by others into good for those who trust him.

car

My dad just learned this the hard way just recently. And usually he’s good about things like this. His 2002 car was due for a new water pump and timing belt. He took it to the dealer that he normally takes it to and they quoted him $1600 for the whole job. He just ok’d the job without getting quotes from other dealers because he “trusted them”.

Well, turns out that he shouldn’t have trusted them. After he told me the quote, I thought it was way too high so I did some calling of my own. At this point, the service was already done but he hadn’t picked up the car yet. I had them fax me the quotes so I could have a hard copy. The lowest quote was $925, tax included! That’s nearly $700 lower!

I told my dad that I was going to go the dealer myself and try to negotiate the price down because that seems like overkill to me. With the hard copy quote in hand I went to talk to the service manager. He basically wouldn’t budge on the price because my dad had already committed to the price and the service was already done. Despite the fact that labor was twice as much; $1000 vs $500, he made up a lie that they charge a flat rate for service on labor. In the end, he gave me a $100 discount, which still makes it almost $600 more!

Long story short, I told my dad to get quotes next time before taking it to service it. He will not taking it to that dealer anymore.

Lesson learned. Make some phone calls and get quotes from multiple dealers before bringing in your car for servicing. Get them to fax you a written quote if possible. It will make life a lot easier and will save you some bucks, too! In this case, it would have saved nearly $600! Definitely not chump change, indeed.

Paypal Logo

Here’s a reminder:

Back in February I wrote about a rare $15 rebate for Paypal. This Paypal $15 off $30 rebate is coming to an end in a couple days. Register your email at the promotion site and make a purchase on eBay or any participating store by March 31st, 11:59 pm PST. I still haven’t received the rebate into my Paypal account for a purchase I made a month or so ago but they have until May 28, 2007 to deposit it.

Also, remember, don’t buy something you wouldn’t normally buy just to take advantage of the rebate. That’s not smart!

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Today’s chapter is Proverbs chapter 28!

Edit: I actually mixed up chapter 28 & 29. Sorry about that. It’s fixed now.

From the Life Application Bible:

Verse 2: For a government or a society to endure, it needs wise, informed leaders – and these are hard to find. Each person’s selfishness quickly affects others. A selfish employee who steals from his company ruins its productivity. A selfish driver who drinks before taking the wheel makes the state highways unsafe. A selfish spouse who has an adulterous affair often breaks up several families. When people live for themselves with little concern for how their actions affect others, the resulting moral rot contaminates the entire nation. Are you part of the problem or the solution?

Verse 5: Because justice is part of God’s character, a person who follows God treats others justly. Justice begins with concern for what is happening to others. A Christian cannot be indifferent to human suffering because God isn’t. And we certainly must not contribute to human suffering through selfish business practices or unfair government policies. Be sure you are more concerned for justice than for the bottom line.

Verse 9: God does not listen to our prayers if we intend to go back to our sin as soon as we get off our knees. When we forsake our sin and follow him, however, he willingly listens – no matter how bad our sin has been. What closes his ear is not the depth of our sin but our secret intention to do it again.

Verse 11: Rich people often think they are wonderful; depending on no one, they take credit for all they do. But that’s a hollow self-esteem. Through dependence on God in their struggles, the poor may develop a richness of spirit that no amount of wealth can provide. The rich man can lose all his material wealth, while no one can take away the poor man’s character. Don’t be jealous of the rich; money may be all they will ever have.

Verse 13: It is human nature to hide our sins or overlook our mistakes. But it is hard to learn from a mistake you don’t acknowledge making. And what good is a mistake if it doesn’t teach you something? To learn from an error you need to admit it, confess it, analyze it, and make adjustments so that it doesn’t happen again. Everybody makes mistakes, but only fools repeat them.

Verse 13: Something in each of us strongly resists admitting we are wrong. That is why we admire people who openly and graciously admit their mistakes and sins. These people have a strong self-image. They do not always have to be right to feel good about themselves. Be willing to reconsider – to admit you are wrong and to change your plans when necessary. And remember, the first step toward forgiveness is confession.

Verses 17-18: A sinner’s conscience will drive him into either guilt, resulting in repentance, or to death itself because of a refusal to repent. It is no act of kindness to try to make him feel better; the more guilt he feels, the more likely he is to turn to God and repent. If we interfere with the natural consequences of his act, we may make it easier for him to continue in sin.

Verse 26: For many people, the rugged individualist is a hero. We admire the bold, self-directed men and women who know what they want and fight for it. They are self-reliant, neither giving nor asking advice. What a contrast to God’s way. A person can’t know the future or predict the consequences of his or her choices with certainty. And so the totally self-reliant person is doomed to failure. The wise person depends on God.

Verse 27: God wants us to identify with the needy, not ignore them. The second part of this proverb could be restated positively: “Those who open their eyes to poor people will be blessed.” If we help others when they are in trouble, they will do whatever they can to return the favor(see 11:24, 25). Paul promises that God will supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19); he usually does this through other people. What can you do today to help God supply someone’s need?

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Our March Madness Proverbs event is almost done. Just a few more days left so let’s finish off strong! Today’s chapter is Proverbs chapter 27. You know the drill!

From the Life Application Bible:

Verse 6: Who would prefer a friend’s wounds to an enemy’s kisses? Anyone who considers the source. A friend who has your best interests at heart may have to give you unpleasant advice at times, but you know it is for your own good. An enemy, by contrast, may whisper sweet words and happily send you on your way to ruin. We tend to hear what we want to hear, even if an enemy is the only one who will say it. A friend’s advice, no matter how painful, is much better.

Verses 15-16: Quarrelsome nagging, a steady stream of unwanted advice, is a form of torture. People nag because they think they’re not getting through, but nagging hinders communication more than it helps. When tempted to engage in this destructive habit, stop and examine your motives. Are you more concerned about yourself – getting your way, being right – than about the person you are pretending to help? If you are truly concerned about other people, think of a more effective way to get through to them. Surprise them with words of patience and love, and see what happens.

Verse 17: There is a mental sharpness that comes from being around good people. And a meeting of minds can help people see their ideas with new clarity, refine them, and shape them into brilliant insights. This requires partners who can challenge each other and stimulate thought – people who focus on the idea without involving their egos in the discussion; people who know how to attack the thought and not the thinker. Two friends who bring their ideas together can help each other become sharper.

Verse 18: With all the problems and concerns a leader has, it can be easy to overlook the very people who most deserve attention – faithful employees or volunteers (those who tend the fig trees). The people who stand behind you, who work hard and help you get the job done, deserve to share in your success. Be sure that in all your planning, organizing, and working, you don’t forget the people who are helping you the most.

Verse 21: Praise tests a person, just as high temperatures test metal. How does praise affect you? Do you work to get it? Do you work harder after you’ve gotten it? Your attitude toward praise tells a lot about your character. People of high integrity are not swayed by praise. They are attuned to their inner convictions, and they do what they should whether or not they are praised for it.

Verses 23-27: Because life is uncertain, we should be all the more diligent in preparing for the future. We should act with foresight, giving responsible attention to our home, our family, and our career. We should be responsible stewards, like a farmer with his lands and herds. Thinking ahead is a duty, not an option, for God’s people.