Proverbs 6 5-6-21

Pray for our country today on National Day of Prayer. We need the revival; may the Holy Spirit move across our nation!

20 My son, keep your father’s command [we have more than our father’s command; we have the Spirit!]
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching [the Spirit teaches and leads us; lean on Him].
21 Bind them always on your heart [let them rule your heart because we can’t trust our hearts];
    fasten them around your neck [like a neckless that always reminds you].
22 When you walk, they will guide you [Jesus guides us];
    when you sleep, they will watch over you [Jesus rejoices over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)];
    when you awake, they will speak to you [Jesus speaks to us in His Word, which is alive with His Spirit (Hebrews 4:12)].
23 For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light [the Spirit lights our way, but also what is in us],
and correction and instruction are the way to life [Jesus is life; rejoice in Him always],
24 keeping you from your neighbor’s wife [worldly things that tempt us],
    from the smooth talk of a wayward woman [Satan is working hard to derail us].

Revival must begin in our own hearts. In order for that to happen, we must decide whether Jesus is worth following or not. If He is, then we must place ourselves in a position to hear Him:

  • We open ourselves to Him and ask for a sense of His presence;
  • We lay ourselves before Him asking forgiveness for any pride and rebellion;
  • We receive His forgiveness and accept whatever He wills for our lives today;
  • We rejoice in His grace and the awareness of Him in our lives (see Zephaniah 3:17 again);
  • We look for opportunities to meet with other Christians to increase our knowledge, to fellowship with like-minded believers, to strengthen each other in the faith, and to experience the Lord in a way that is unique to Christians in corporate worship.
  • We continue this process as often and with as many people as possible; it becomes our habitus (the outward lifestyle of a follower of Jesus Christ).
  • We look for people who might be showing interest and for opportunities to share what we are experiencing.
  • We invite people to “come and see” (John 1:39).

I pray that you will feel the drawing of the Spirit to begin the process of revival. It’s the ONLY WAY to save America.

Abba, may You move mightily in Your church. Then, move mightily in our city, state, and nation. You are already moving in the world; move here, too! May You sweep across this land even as You have in our past, Lord. It’s always darkest just before dawn; may Your light arise and shine on us, Lord Jesus. May we shine for You! Amen.

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

Isaiah 60:1

Created to Reflect God’s Glory

Standing beside the grave and looking at the urn, reflected upon death. The body dies, but the soul continues to live. Has this separation of body and soul always been this way? The answer is no. Death was NOT God’s original design.

What was the purpose of our creation? What did God design us to do?

God’s word, the Bible, tells us that we were created in God’s image to reflect His glory. Let’s consider a prism. Each prism is unique. Each one reflects light differently. It is what makes us individuals.

Originally, we were designed to live forever in perfect bodies. We walked in sweet fellowship with our Creator. Our predecessors’ love and trust were complete in His presence. What changed that? Mankind’s failure to trust God. Our original parents, Adam and Eve, chose to believe that God was holding something back from them, so they chose to believe a lie rather than His truth—and it killed them. It killed us, too. We all believe the lie that God is hiding something from us, something fun and exciting. So, we go looking for whatever that something is, trying all kinds of things that aren’t good for us. Consequently, we can live our entire lives without consulting God for anything. This attitude of arrogance and rebellion is called sin because it leads us to live contrary to how God wants us to live. And here’s the hard part: sin destroys. Living without God leads to the destruction of our lives and ultimately our souls, and it breaks God’s heart!

If we are created to reflect God’s glory, how can we get back to that? We talked about living life without God, so let’s talk about how we can get that relationship back.

God is a perfect gentleman and he would never force on us a relationship with himself. He comes to each of us sometime in our lives and invites us to know him on a personal basis. In fact, he has done everything necessary for us to be reunited in a right relationship with him. That said, our choices of rebellion and refusal to trust him are like taking this prism and dipping it in mud. I mentioned that God had done everything necessary. Here is what he did: he came to earth as Jesus to pay the penalty for our rebellion. He did that on the cross for us. Now, anyone who turns to Jesus for forgiveness and guidance is like this prism (wash prism in water). Now we can reflect the light of God once again!

But it’s better than that. He now puts his light, his person, in us to shine from within us. We can now have a personal, ongoing relationship with the God of the universe through Jesus Christ.

I’ll leave you with these three things:

  1. God loves you and wants to be in your life—in you.
  2. Jesus Christ is the person through whom God works to connect with us. He offers us His peace.
  3. I will be praying that Jesus comes to you sometime over these next few days and asks you to allow Him to wash away your sin; make Him the Lord and light of your life so that you can reflect his glory.

The price has already been paid; the work has already been done. Trust Jesus. He is trustworthy.

Proverbs 5 5-5-21

Discipleship is a process that begins within us and moves to the outside of us as we learn obedience to Christ.

Proverbs 5:1-2

My child, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding; That you may observe discretion And your lips may preserve knowledge.

There is no reason to consider being a witness for Christ unless we are in communion with Him routinely. We can tell others about a relationship with Christ, but they won’t believe us unless we are living in ours. In fact, hypocrisy (being intentionally two-faced) does more to damage Christianity than anything. It’s like taking hot water and cold water and mixing them. The result: tepid water. Here’s what Jesus said,

Revelation 3:15-16

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

Historically, the water came into Laodicea from two different sources and had a sulphuric smell and taste. If our hypocrisy is like this water, then we stink!

When we live surrendered lives to the Lord, then we are ready to be witnesses for Him. Christ shines out from us. People who notice and are interested in learning about this difference will seek us out. Let’s be ready to give an account for the hope, joy, and peace we have, and the love we show to others. Christ WILL grow His church; how we participate with Him personally has everything to do with how He can use us in His mission.

We must ask ourselves every morning if we are interested in joining Christ in His mission to bring people into His kingdom. Let’s be diligent in surrendering to Him each day and living for His glory.

Abba, may I surrender to You every day. I know that I cannot live on yesterday’s grace. I am one step away from stumbling. Unless I depend on You every moment for everything, I Will Stumble. Thank You, Jesus, for keeping me in Your daily grace. Call me daily and then help me to follow You. Amen.

Proverbs 4 5-4-21

Our connection to the LORD must be constantly renewed. Otherwise, we believe only what we see. There’s SO MUCH MORE!

Proverbs 4:20-22 (NIV)

My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.

The Holy Spirit helps us to reach out with an awareness of His Presence all around us. It’s interesting to me the movies that deal with this awareness, but in a worldly fashion.

Star Wars emphasizes the force that connects all living things, but doesn’t have a consciousness of its own. We, as Christians, know that Jesus is that consciousness and much, much more.

Hebrews 1:2-3 (NIV)

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Another movie that comes close is The Matrix where everyone is in beds and having their dreams controlled by sentient machines. The analogy is that there is a higher consciousness and reality, and some choose to rise above the dream-state while most people choose to continue in their dreams.

We can see how closely the analogy comes to describing Christianity. We live in a world that tries to convince us that this physical world is all there is, for instance, evolution. Jesus came to us through His Spirit and has invited us to come alive in Him and be born into the kingdom and family of God the Father,

Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV)

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Let us praise our Heavenly Father for His wonderful grace! We are thankful for Him making us aware of Him and His kingdom—and then inviting us to be members of that kingdom!

Abba, we praise You today for the reality of heaven. Make us aware of Your presence around us and the kingdom that is all around us, as well. Give us spiritual eyes, Lord, and raise our awareness of all that is going on around us spiritually. We will watch for You. Amen.

Proverbs 3 5-3-21

We should treat our neighbors and coworkers as if we will be standing beside them in church next Sunday.

29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you.

Chapter 3 of Proverbs can be broken down into sets.

  • The first 12 verses have to do with our relationship with the Father.
  • Verses 13-18 have to do with wisdom, which is personified. We know wisdom to be Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30).
  • Verses 19-20 tell of the LORD’s wisdom, understanding and knowledge based upon creation.
  • Verses 21-26 speak of the confidence we can have in wisdom and discretion.
  • Verses 27-32 address how we treat our neighbor–and fellow worshiper. In those days, everyone went to the temple or synagogue to “have church.” Running into a neighbor and/or business associate at the temple could be good or bad, depending on how we have treated them.
  • Verses 33-35 deal with our relationship with the Father again, but with conditions.

God wants us to see that when we come together under one roof to lift up the name of Jesus (have church), we had better be in good relations with our fellow worshipers. Here’s what Jesus had to say about it:

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

Notice that it’s not “if you have something against your brother or sister.” Jesus deals with our own grudges in another place. This is about dealing with those whom we have treated wrongly, at least, in their minds. It’s important for us to be of one mind when we worship our Lord. He calls for unity; how can we have unity if we have mistreated family? Paul says this,

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 1 Corinthians 6:7

We need not worry about justice. Jesus will take care of those who wrong us. We have just better make sure that we are right with our neighbors and with the Lord. Our attitude is what determines how we feel about our neighbors and how we treat them. Any justification we have used lies heavy on our conscience. Jesus would have us come to Him for an attitude adjustment. How often? As often as we need one! Let’s let Jesus give us His attitude toward our neighbors and then check with Him often throughout the day to make sure that we still have it.

Abba, You are so wise. Thank You for Your Spirit who reminds us of the things we need to fix in our lives. Thank You that You empower us to do it. I realize that You could fix them Yourself, but You want to work with us to do it together. It’s part of the process of growing and a real part of being with You and doing with You. May You remind us often each day, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 2 5-2-21

Has it ever occurred to you that Jesus has things He wants to accomplish with you? that He has a plan for your life with Him?

20 So you will walk in the way of the good [with Him] and keep to the paths of the righteous [where He wants to go and do what He wants to do].

Yesterday, I told you that I would ask you a difficult question today. It is based upon Acts 5:20, “Go, stand in the temple courts, and tell the people all about this new life.” I asked yesterday,

Is Jesus worth the risk?

Here’s the rest of the question:

If Jesus is worth the risk,
and, assuming that He equips us,
how might we share the gospel with others?

Let’s make sure that we have the “equipping” part down. In Hebrews 13:20-21, we get a real solid foundation of what Jesus does for us,

20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

I like the way that God and Jesus are interwoven in this passage; they really are one (John 10:30). I also like that we will be equipped and used for His glory by His Spirit, which is Jesus. How did Jesus tell us we would be used for His glory? In Acts 1:8, we get a promise and a prophecy,

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Did the promise come true? Yes (Acts 2:4). Did the prophecy come true? Yes. Just read Acts and then continue on to today. The term, “witnesses,” is different than “evangelists.” Evangelism is a gift that is not given to everyone (Ephesians 4:11-13, 1 Corinthians 12:27-30). Being witnesses simply means that we testify to what we have seen and heard. John did this in his letter,

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 1 John 1:1

I bolded the appropriate words for us: Heard, seen, looked at, touched, proclaim. Now, let’s go back to our beginning verse and see how these words apply:

“Go, stand in the temple courts, and tell the people all about this new life.” Acts 5:20

  1. Heard– The disciples had heard straight from Jesus about the new life. They knew it pretty well.
  2. Seen– They had seen Him do miracles; these “signs and wonders” attested to who He is and about His authority to bring about the New Covenant that He was implementing.
  3. Looked at- The disciples had looked at the life of Jesus and found everything He said to be true. In fact, the cross, death, burial, and resurrection sealed their conviction that Jesus is Lord.
  4. Touched– Even though only Thomas is named for touching Jesus’ scars, I’ll bet all of them did (Luke 24:39)! I know I would!!! They ate fish with Him. He probably hugged them, too. In fact, the traditional Hebrew greeting included a kiss. Jesus was real! They were also touched by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
  5. Proclaim– Proclaiming what they had experienced was simple, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, it was even easy. The circumstances were tough, but when Christ is in us empowering us and protecting us from the evil one, being obedient becomes easy; we just do what He tells us to do when He tells us to do it. Will we always be delivered physically as the disciples were in Acts 5:19? No. In fact, every disciple except John died a martyr’s death. It’s all about furthering the gospel. It is said that the “Church is watered by the blood of martyrs” (by L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly ed. in English, n. 27, 4 July 2014) I encourage you to click the link and read the entire letter.

Is Jesus worth the risk? I believe He is. Do you? If so, then let’s be true and faithful witnesses wherever we go with whomever we meet.

Abba, as we assemble today as Your church, Your bride, may we come to You with singleness of mind and heart. When we do, I know that You will affirm in our hearts the reality of all that You taught and promised. Our faith is built on Your promises: You are who You said You are (God in the flesh), You did what You said You would do (became the Last Sacrifice–and then rose from the dead), and You will do what You promised to do (advance Your kingdom through Your church, and then come back to rule and reign). Your return may be soon, Lord, but there is so much work to be done that I ask You to tarry a while longer. May Your kingdom come to earth through Your church, Lord Jesus, until You enjoin the heavens once again and hand the scepter back to our Heavenly Father (Psalm 110:1, 1 Corinthians 15:22-28). What a day that will be! Until then, may we be about Your business. Amen.

Proverbs 1 5-1-21

King David was a man after God’s own heart. Are we willing to listen and learn from him?

8 Hear, my child, your father’s instruction, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
19:18 Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.

As I was reading Psalms yesterday morning, I read Psalm 141, which has some very interesting verses in it:

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.

In our conversations, are we building up or tearing down? Discerning the difference is a Holy Spirit thing. We must be in tune with Him in order to discern the difference BEFORE we speak.

Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
    so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
    do not let me eat their delicacies.

There’s something we know about our hearts: The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9. With the right enticement, all of us are prone to temptation. Sin is enjoyable–for a while; then we begin to recognize the cords that tie us up (Proverbs 5:22). We must be diligent, but more than that, we must trust in and rely on the Spirit of Jesus to lead us, hold us back, and reprove us when necessary.

Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness;
    let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it,
    for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers [will not take part with them].

Speaking of reproving, His reproof may come in the form of a brother or sister in Christ rebuking us. Even if the rebuke is scathing, we must endure and heed that rebuke as God’s words to our ears. If the rebuke is Scripturally sound, then it surely is! Consider it Christ’s discipline, “My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the child he delights in.” Proverbs 3:11-12.

Tomorrow, I will ask you a difficult question. It is based upon Acts 5:20, “Go, stand in the temple courts, and tell the people all about this new life.” I can share part of the question with you:

Is Jesus worth the risk?

Abba, as we look at the apostles’ lives and what You meant to them, may we get a perspective that helps us to understand just what You have done in our lives. I suspect that most of us take the Good News about You lightly because we don’t really comprehend the lengths You went for us and for all people. If we did, I believe that we would take much more seriously our walk with You, how we treat each other, and we would be far more concerned about those who don’t know You. Instead of flirting with sin, we would be focused on You and Your will. Give us discernment, O Lord. Give us understanding. Amen.

Proverbs 30 4-30-21

When we signed up to follow Jesus, did He really ask us to give up everything for Him? Do anything for Him?Be His for life?

4 Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!

In, The Chosen, Season 1, Episode 2, Mary Magdalene tells Nicodemus, “Of this one thing I am sure. Before, I was one way; afterward, I was another, and the only thing in between was Him [Jesus].”

Mary was giving her testimony. She was telling what Jesus did for her. Without any other training, she gave the best proof for the reality of Jesus. Nicodemus could have argued with her about the law, but he couldn’t ignore her experience.

Baptists are leery of “experiences”–and with good reason. When it comes to spiritual experiences, they had better be grounded in Scripture. Otherwise, they may need to be considered simply an emotional experience, or quite possibly, heresy. At the same time, our salvation is based upon an experience. It just happens to be Scripturally grounded:

  1. The Spirit opens our eyes to the fact that we are missing something, which is a relationship with God the Father.
  2. Our awareness of our sinful state is not as important as wanting Jesus in our lives. Many people respond to conviction of sin and our need for a Savior, but there are many people who are desperate to know Jesus and are willing to give up anything to know Him. Which is right? They BOTH are!
  3. Technically, we don’t have to ask Jesus to forgive our sin; it was paid for on the cross. What He really asks of us is for us to trust Him and follow Him. Our response to the Spirit’s request/invitation is the experience of salvation. It is when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and regenerates us, quickens us, and breathes new life into us. We are born again!

Following Jesus means being with Him, learning what He teaches, and doing what He commands. As we consider following Jesus each morning when we get up (not for salvation, but for relationship), may we remember Paul’s testimony:

22 “And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, 23 except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. 24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. Acts 2:22-24

What lies ahead for us? We don’t know. What we DO know is that wherever we are and whatever happens to us, He is with us and is leading us. More than likely, our circumstances are designed for us to be in a certain place to meet a certain person. We must be ready to live as He tells us to live and speak what He tells us to say. Here again, it probably has something to do with our testimony, our experience with Christ, that they need to hear.

Are you prepared to share your story? The power is not in the presentation; it’s in the story itself. Make it about Christ and He will use it for His glory. You will shine like stars in the universe (Philippians 2:15).

20 “Go, stand in the temple courts…
and tell the people all about this new life.”
Acts 5:20

Abba, I thank You for the day You came into my life and made me Your child. I promised then to follow You always, and–except for a few months of confusion in my youth–I have done so, not because of my goodness, but because of Your faithfulness! May I be willing to share my story with people with whom I come in contact, especially those with whom You have connected me. Use me, Lord; I am Your willing servant. Amen.

Proverbs 29 4-29-21

Living for Jesus and following Jesus should be the same thing. Both involve walking with Him, communing with His Spirit.

3 He who loves wisdom makes his Father glad,
6 …a righteous person sings and rejoices [when truth wins out].

Today, we marry two ideologies together: Being devoted to Christ and following Christ. You may ask, “What’s the difference?” In order to do one, we must be the other. The difference is that many people give their lives to Jesus, but then have trouble moving forward. The whole concept is to walk with Christ. What good is it to “give your life to Christ” but then not follow Him through everyday life?

Consider these verses:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1

What is that calling? “Follow Me.” We find this invitation of Jesus in Matthew 4:19, 8:22, 9:9, 10:38, 16:24, 19:21, Mark 1:17, 2:14, 8:34, 10:21, Luke 5:27, 9:23, 9:59, 14:27, 18:22, John 1:43, 10:27, 12:26, 21:19, 22. He calls us to follow Him.

and walk in the way of [live a life of] love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2

We have both in this passage, depending upon which translation we use. We “live a life” by “walking in the way.” What way? The way of love, Jesus’ love, the sacrificial kind, the compassionate kind.

10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: Colossians 1:10a

Do you know what pleases Jesus? We do! We are already pleasing to Him (Ephesians 1:4-5). Walking with Him is what we are called to do everyday. When we follow Jesus as His disciples, we walk with Him along life’s path. Here is what will happen (Colossians 1:10b-14):

  1. We will bear fruit in every good work (everything we do will be led by the Spirit to do),
  2. We will increase in the knowledge of God (by studying His Word every day and communing with Him in prayer, all the time personally and then often with other followers),
  3. We will be strengthened with all power according to His glorious might (that comes from the Spirit),
  4. We will have all endurance and patience accompanied by JOY,
  5. We will give thanks to the Father (continually),
  6. We are qualified to share in the inheritance in the kingdom of light (Jesus’ kingdom),
  7. We have been delivered by God the Father from the domain of darkness and have been transferred to the kingdom of the beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Today, let’s begin something new. It’s not a new idea, but one that needs to be borne out as new every day. Let’s live our lives differently than we did yesterday: Let’s follow Christ more closely, listen more intently, shine more brightly, urge more insistently, love more completely, and long for His Coming more fervently. It’s not something we can do by ourselves; we MUST connect with Jesus via His Spirit. Connect right now!

Abba, I connect with You right now even as I type these words. May You cause me to bear fruit, increase in knowledge, strengthen me with Your power, and give me endurance and patience along with JOY. May I follow You, Jesus, more closely, listen more intently, shine more brightly, urge more insistently, love more completely, and long for Your Coming more fervently. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Until that day, may I be Your light wherever You lead me. Amen.

Proverbs 28 4-28-21

Praise and service: What do they have in common? How can they help us break old habits and establish new ones?

1 The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.

We talked yesterday about forming habits and how it takes about three weeks to get one started and fully functioning. We also talked about how we take a thought captive to Jesus. We must realize that the person delivering the bad thought is not the real culprit; it is the one who designed bad thoughts in the first place: Satan. He’s the one who became envious of God and the praise He received from His new creation (the gospel according to Kelly). When we realize that Satan is the one behind our bad thoughts–not that he personally gives them, but that he created the circumstances where we even have bad thoughts–then we know to Whom we should take bad thoughts; Jesus will help us deal with them. We don’t have to worry about offending Him; His Spirit is the One who tells us what thoughts go against the heavenly grain; we then turn to Jesus, who lives inside of us, and ask Him what to do with a bad thought. More than that, we ask Him to replace that bad thought with a good one. There is a secret:

15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. Hebrews 13:15.

There it is, the secret to beating Satan as his game: PRAISE.

  • When we praise, we cannot help but focus on our Lord.
  • When we praise, we quit thinking the bad thought, and the reason we thought the bad thought.
  • When we praise, we turn our backs on Satan and his temptations.
  • When we praise, we reinforce the good things we know about our heavenly Father.
  • When we praise, it brings our Father joy and He pours out His love, joy, peace, hope and grace on us (He’s looking for an excuse to do it!).
  • When we praise, we make a sacrifice in that we give up whatever the temptation is offering. We opt for something better–MUCH better: His Presence and Participation in our lives!

The following verse gives another secret to beating Satan: SERVING.

16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

  • When we do good and share with others, we take the focus off ourselves and place it on God’s children and creation.
  • When we do good and share with others, we further the kingdom of heaven.
  • When we do good and share with others, we sacrifice, and in doing so, become more like Jesus, who sacrificed for us.
  • When we do good and share with others, God is pleased with us (actually, He’s always pleased with us; it brings Him great joy when we are becoming like Him). Is that not enough reason?!

So, when it comes to breaking old habits and starting new ones, all we have to do is survive the first three weeks and we’re good. How do we survive, or even thrive? By PRAISING and SERVING. What we do doesn’t even have to be related to the habit. It’s a matter of giving our minds something else to do and something else with which to associate our new habit.

The next time you are beginning a new habit, like being more intentional about your quiet time, ask God to get you up early, to prepare the coffee pot the night before, and to even go to bed a few minutes early. First of all, there will be many things that get in the way; we must remember that our lives have revolved around a different schedule for many years. Second, you won’t feel like getting up. That’s when you praise the Father and look for a way to serve someone else in your household. Then, have your quiet time: Pray, sing, read, make notes, study, journal; share with someone what you learned that day (do any or all of them).

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will start something new today! May they put into practice the Praise and Serve concept from Your Word. That’s a good passage to memorize; I think I will. Thank You, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 27 4-27-21

Who we are on the inside shows up on the outside. People know when we are faking it. Let’s be genuine Christians.

19 As in water, face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.

Perception can be a powerful ally or adversary. Christians don’t want to be fake, but want to allow Christ to shine through us. We must leave others’ perception of us to Him. One of the greatest characteristics of a child of God is graciousness, or, grace. When we show grace to people, we allow that grace to run through our minds and then out of our mouths. Grace must come from the Holy Spirit within us; we say that it must come from our hearts. If Christ is in control of our hearts, then we will be gracious. Thus, if our hearts are full of grace, then people see that we are genuine Christians. Consider these two verses.

22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. Luke 4:22

Let your conversation be always full of grace [be gracious], seasoned with salt [biblical truth and wisdom], so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

I read these two verses every morning to remind myself that Jesus was gracious in His speech, therefore, I am to be gracious in my speech, which means that caustic remarks, cutting comments, and derogatory speech are not allowed. I am to take those thoughts captive to Christ. In fact, with the power of the Spirit, I can take strongholds of hateful speech and demolish them:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholdsWe demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Habits feel real, but they are really just what we are used to. A habit takes about three weeks to establish. If we are serious about letting our lights shine for Christ in the world around us, then we must demolish the stronghold of a hateful tongue and allow the Spirit to give us gracious speech, which starts with our thoughts. When a hateful thought comes to mind, run it up to the throne of Jesus and say, “Here, Lord, please take this thought and get rid of it for me. Now, give me one that You want me to have. I praise You and thank You, Lord.” This process will feel awkward at first, then hopeless, but if we stay with it, we will overcome our habit and create a new one, one that brings joy and gladness to us, and glory and honor to our Lord.

I pray that you will read these verses every morning, too, and allow the Spirit to change your speech to His speech.

Abba, I know that a gentle and gracious tongue is a tree of life to those around me. I also know that a cruel, vicious, sarcastic, biting, acid, and bitter tongue crushes the spirit of its victims (Proverbs 15:4). Please train me to think like You because I know if I can think like You, then I will be able to control my tongue. Only with the partnership of Your Spirit do I stand any chance of success. Continue to conform me to the image of Your Son, Abba. I want to be just like Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 26 4-26-21

Foundation and framework are important in building a house and in building a life. Where do you find yours?

9 Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools [those who do not intend to put them to use in their lives].

Last week, we looked at passages of Scripture that I read every morning to help me gain victory my Mastering my Mind and Mastering my Body (days 23 and 24). I have a few more passages that I read every morning. One is Psalm 73:23-26. It also happens to be the foundation and framework of my life.

23 Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

There are several things to note in this passage:

  1. He is not with me; I am with Him. The difference is huge. His presence is my foundation.
  2. He holds me by my “dominant” hand. Since I’m left-handed, He holds that one and thus curtails many temptations for me to try to do things myself.
  3. He guides me with His counsel. His Spirit speaks to me when I read, when I pause, and when I focus. His counsel is my framework. He directs my day.
  4. I have His promise that this world for me will end and that He has a place prepared for me with Him. The kingdom of God (heaven) is my focus.
  5. In fact, even though I have relatives already with Him, HE is the One that matters to me. He is the One I want to see when I get there. You will notice that it is a prayer and not a teaching. So, I use them to bless my Lord and commit myself to Him by letting Him know that I love Him and that He is my everything.
  6. Because I have His promise (see John 14:1-3), I make sure that there is nothing that this earth has to offer that draws my attention away from Him.
  7. Knowing that my heart is deceptive beyond cure (Jeremiah 17:9) and my flesh will fail (1 Corinthians 15:50-53), I place my trust in His strength and choose His eternal portion for me.

With a foundation like this one, there’s no way the enemy can cause me to stumble (doubt my salvation and my future). All I have to do is read this passage every morning and live it all day. Since Christ is the One leading, I don’t even have the stress of having to choose my way. My job is to be an obedient sheep; how about you?

Do you trust Christ to let Him lead in your life? Are you familiar enough with the Bible to know His promises and His intentions? Are you interested in learning them? He can do anything with a willing heart. Make yours available to Him.

Abba, I pray for my readers to come across the passage that becomes their foundation and framework. With You leading them, I know that it will be soon if they are diligent in reading Your Word. “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Your servant is warned by them and receives great reward [his foundation and framework passage].” Psalm 119:105 paired with 19:11). Please, make it so, Lord Jesus. We will give You all the glory. Amen.

Proverbs 25 4-25-21

Surrendering our lives to Jesus is the only wise thing to do. There are eternal ramifications for being in the Lord’s hands!

13 Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the soul of his masters.

A faithful messenger is one who is devoted to his master and to the delivery of the message. In our case, we are devoted to our Lord and to the delivery of the Gospel, in which we happen to believe wholeheartedly! What Jesus is looking for in His messengers is surrender.

Surrender– “to give oneself up, as into the power of another; submit or yield.” Surrender is what we do when we die to self and live for Christ. One of my recent favorite passages is 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, which says,

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him [surrender] who died for them and was raised again.

Surrender is to be our constant state of mind and being. Pride and a rebellious spirit get in the way of surrender. When we are surrendered to Him we are conduits of God’s love. His love and Spirit flow through us freely–unless we close the valve. When that happens, we congest the flow from other sources with sin that gums up our pipes; we don’t work so well, and we eventually become stopped up. Sin destroys. We stop fellowshipping with the Father and others. The only way to fix this problem is through repentance and surrender.

Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said [Isaiah 58:11], streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:38. So, our belief in Him will keep our pipes clean and pure. Believing in Christ is more than a mere intellectual exercise. The term, “belief,” actually infers trust; in other words, we believe enough to trust what He says. Trust implies action. Therefore, belief leads to trust, which leads to action.

Since we are conduits and not the Source, what flows through us? Paul said, “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also our comfort overflows through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:5. So, we have the sufferings of Christ that flow through us and the comfort of Christ that overflows through us. I’m seeing an increase in the ratio of comfort vs. sufferings: An overflowing of comfort for just a flow of sufferings. The best place to put this overflow into good use is told to us in verses 3 and 4,

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

When it comes to suffering, we must remember that Jesus told us that it would happen:

20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. John 15:20

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble [persecution]. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

When we talk about surrender, we are referring to giving our lives to Christ and even giving our lives up for Christ. We want to be like the Christians who knew Jesus here on earth:

11 They triumphed over him [Satan]
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.

Revelation 12:11

This morning as you worship, bless God by surrendering your life to Him afresh and anew. Believe what He says in His Word, trust His voice in your heart, and do what He tells you to do. Even if there is persecution and suffering, know that He will comfort us with a comfort that is eternal, and one that we can share with others for His glory.

Abba, may You be praised today. May You accept my surrender to Your will and Your way. You love me; I know that because You told me so, and I believe You. Because I know You have my best interests at heart in accordance with Your will, I trust You and obey You. No suffering compares to the intimate knowledge of Your Presence and Participation in my life! All for Your glory, Lord. “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name be glory.” Psalm 115:1. Amen.

Proverbs 24 4-24-21

What we think determines our perception, which determines our feelings, which determines our actions. Think biblically.

27 Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.

Yesterday, we looked at verses that spoke to our mastery of our bodies. Today, we will look at Mastering Our Minds. As was stated in the opening sentence, what we think determines how we perceive what is going on around us. We either react, which allows our circumstances to drive our feelings, or we respond with predetermined thought processes that give us (limited) control over how we feel. We act out of our feelings, so we need to get our thought processes right!

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

The big question is, how do we renew the attitude of our minds? That answer lies in the following verse:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

So, according to this verse, we are to:

  1. Reject the status quo of this world.
  2. We transform our minds by renewing them.
  3. With transformed/renewed minds, we can determine what God’s will is.
  4. His will is good, pleasing to Him, and perfectly fitted to His overall Plan.

But, we still haven’t discovered how to do this renewal thing. Let’s keep digging:

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27

Christ is our example:

  1. Christ gave His life for His bride, the church.
  2. His purpose was to make her holy even as God is holy. We are clothed in His righteousness.
  3. He cleanses her by washing her with the water through His Word, the Scriptures.
  4. By washing in the water of His Word, we become holy and presentable as His church, His radiant Bride.

The enemy would love nothing more than to keep you from being washed by Jesus in the water of the Word of God. When we read, though we often don’t fully understand it, His Spirit speaks to our spirits. We learn acceptance of His commands and obedience to His voice. The old song that says, “We will understand it by and by,” is exactly right. Whether this side of heaven or the other, we will eventually understand God’s instruction, His motive, His game plan, and His never-ending love for us.

How do I know what I have just told you? I have read His Word and studied what it means long enough to get a broader perspective of it. I have been washed by Jesus in the water of His Word. Also, I have discussed the Scriptures with people older and certainly wiser than I. I have experienced enough of life to get a hint of God’s driving factor: His everlasting love for humanity–actually, for all of His creation. Want to become wise? Read His Word and allow Him to whisper truth to you. Then, act upon what He has said to you. It really is that simple! You, too, will be washed by Jesus in the water of His Word.

Abba, thank You for speaking to me through Your Word. It really is alive with Your Spirit! Use it to cut through my feelings and get to my thoughts. Lay them bare before You and help me to align them with Your character (which means that I’ll be getting rid of a bunch, and tweaking a lot more). I answer to You and You alone, O LORD. Amen. (This prayer is based upon Hebrews 4:12-13, “The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword [scalpel], piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”)

Proverbs 23 4-23-21

Taking Jesus at His word isn’t so hard when we come to understand that He wants the best for us.

13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. 14 Punish them with the rod and save them from death.

John 17 records Jesus’ prayer the night He was betrayed. In it, He prays for His disciples (and for us) that rather than God taking us out of the world, that He would protect us from the evil one (Satan). So, what about all the times that Christians get persecuted, maligned, and shunned? If God is protecting us from the evil one, then we must conclude that either Jesus was referring to our souls or that our circumstances are in some way being productive to us and to the glory of God. I reckon it’s both.

When Jesus came back to His three disciples while praying in Gethsemane, He found them sleeping. Here is His reaction:

46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Luke 22:46 “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38

I read these verses every morning to remind myself that it is the Lord who prompts me to get up and pray. I prepare my heart for the day so that I will not fall into temptation. I KNOW that my flesh is weak, but I also know that His Spirit in me is willing to help me overcome my weakness. On the backside of the card (on which these Scriptures are written) are verses pertaining to Mastering My Flesh and Mastering My Mind. Here are the verses pertaining to Mastering My Flesh:

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith [trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by [your own] might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6

Do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:4, 13

27 No, I beat [discipline] my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:27

Why do I read these verses every day? Because I fight my flesh all day, every day. I NEED them. I hear the voice of Jesus in me saying, “Come on, Kelly. You can do it because I am with you; I am IN you. Let’s do it together!”

Tomorrow, we will look at verses pertaining to Mastering My Mind. Knowing these verses helps us to stick to the plan when dealing with our feelings. “Change the way you think and you’ll change the way you feel” (a well-known female author said this). For today, let’s discipline our bodies and not give in to our flesh. Let’s listen to the Spirit within us and be “more than conquerors through Him who loves us” (Romans 8:37).

Abba, may we separate our thoughts from our feelings and act according to Your Word. Help us to die to self and live for You and not let sin reign in our mortal bodies so that we obey its evil desires. We want to give ourselves to You as instruments of righteousness. Jesus, thank You SO MUCH that we are not under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:11-14). Help us to live like it. Amen.

Proverbs 22 4-22-21

We need daily and weekly reminders in order to keep the main thing the main thing. Becoming like Christ is a process.

1 A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Our good name is based upon our daily walk with Jesus. In order to walk close to Him, we need to constantly be reading and re-reading our “manual,” the Bible. For instance, each morning, I begin my prayer time with Psalm 139:23-24,

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

It reminds me that I need Him. He is my reason for even having a quiet time in the first place.

Another passage I read every day is Psalm 73:23-26,

23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

This passage reminds me for my whole reason for living. It takes me from NOW to eternity. My perspective is refreshed; it’s just like hitting the “refresh” button on my computer.

This next passage is one I read weekly, and this morning I read it. It’s an important one,

James 1:19-21 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Here’s what we are reminded to do:

1. We have two ears but only one mouth; use them accordingly.

2. Our human anger gets in the way; try to eliminate it.

3. We have moral filth and evil all around us and even inside of us; get rid of it and avoid it as much as possible.

4. God’s Word is planted in our hearts. Water it and allow it to grow like a mustard seed in the garden of your life.

5. His Word will protect us from evil and moral filth, keep us from allowing our anger to get in the way, and teach/train us to listen much more than we speak, especially concerning airing our own opinions.

“May the word of Christ dwell in you richly” today as we meditate and implement those words.

Abba, I love Your Word. It’s more than just ink on a page; it’s Your love letter to us! May I love it all the more and allow You to work in my life as I hide it in my heart. Amen.

Proverbs 21 4-21-21

We cannot coast in our Christian life. It’s like paddling upstream; once we stop, we drift back downstream.

16 Whoever strays from the path of righteousness and prudence comes to rest in the company of the dead.
15:24 The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep them from going down to the grave.

How was the path of Christ described to you when you came to Christ? Was it all love and peace and joy with lots of flowers and sunshine? Yes, those things are present, but Jesus described it another way,

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

The problem people have with keeping the Christian life…well, Christian is this important fact, “Very truly I [Jesus] tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” John 10:7, 9. It’s not about what we do, but Who we follow. Whose voice are we hearing and obeying? Is it Jesus’ voice? Do we hear the Holy Spirit whisper to us and nudge us in our inner person? Are we spending enough effective time with Him to know the nuance of His direction? Consider these exhortations:

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling [work your salvation from the inside out], 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act [to give us the desire and the power] in order to fulfill his good purpose [and do His will]. Philippians 2:12-13

10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:10-11. What things? I’m glad you asked…

  1. God gives us His divine power according to His own glory and goodness. We believe His very precious promises and by faith we act on them (v.3-4a).
  2. Through those promises, we get to participate in the divine nature of God, thus escaping the world’s corruption and entrapment (v. 4b).
  3. There is a sequence: Faith in His promises make us like Him, which leads to goodness, the very nature of God, which causes us to study to increase our knowledge of His will and His ways, which gives us self-control, which comes through perseverance, thus leading to godliness (being like God), through which we enjoy mutual affection (brotherly love) for each other, and finally, we obtain God-love, which is His compassion for all His creation.
  4. We must possess these qualities in increasing measure in order to be effective and productive in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as our walk with Him, our fellowship with Him, our service to Him, our worship of Him, and becoming like Him.
  5. To NOT possess these qualities in increasing measure means that we are spiritually nearsighted and even blind; we will have forgotten that we have been cleansed from past sins and will be drawn back into that quagmire (2 Peter 2:22).

Look at the promises given us:

  1. We will never stumble. Who keeps us from stumbling (from doubting that the Christian life is really worth it)? “To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy: King Jesus!
  2. We will receive a rich welcome into the His eternal kingdom!

To summarize: Let’s challenge the status quo. As my pastor puts it, let’s up our game. In all our spiritual endeavors, let’s push a little more, go a little farther, ask a little more earnestly, and expect God to grant us our heart’s desire as we delight in Him (Psalm 37:4).

Abba, I pray for my readers that You will set a fire in their spirits to be more, do more, and learn more about You, Your Plan, and our part in Your Plan. I know You are ready and willing, and are looking for those who are ready and willing. If we are not ready, then get us there; if we are not willing, then give us an attitude adjustment! I lean heavily on this verse for us: “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him…” 2 Chronicles 16:9. Lord, may our hearts be fully committed to You. Amen.

Proverbs 20 4-20-21

Discipleship is a tricky thing. In order to lead someone else, we must first be led. Jesus calls us to follow Him. Are you ready?

24 A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?

Understanding comes through trust; trust comes by faith; faith comes from believing Jesus. If we truly believe what Jesus says, then we will have faith in Him, which enables us to trust Him, which then leads to understanding. Much of our understanding can be learned through His Word, but what we read must be explained by His Spirit, and many times, we simply don’t have enough parts to make sense of what we know.

For instance, a windshield is made up of a multitude of cut glass three-dimensional orthotopes, also called right rectangular prisms. Even though we might be able to locate all the individual pieces (knowledge) and even glue them back together, we still need a way to bind the pieces together in order to have a clear screen. In our case, even though we might appropriate all the individual pieces to a problem or subject, we still need a Binder in order to understand what we have. We need the Holy Spirit.

12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 1Corinthians 2:12-13

The question is, are we willing to be taught by the Spirit of God? Are we placing ourselves in a position to learn? Do we read His Word? Do we consult with other Christians, ones who are more mature and wiser than ourselves? Do we listen to sermons and teachings about the Word of God? Do we search the Scriptures for truth? The Berean Jews did. Look:

10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. Acts 17:10-12

Lest we think that Luke was maligning the character of the Jews of Thessalonica, read the next verse:

13 But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 

Folks, it’s important for us to search the Scriptures every day to see what God wants to teach us. What we learn may not be needed today, but I promise you that it will be soon. There are many things we need to learn and know first so that when specific circumstances arise, we can interpret them according to what we have learned and know. THEN we understand!

So, what kinds of things do we need to know? That’s what I invite you to learn. At Brookwood, we will be beginning a study called, “Real-Life Discipleship Training Manual” by Putman, Willis, Guindon and Krouse, from Navpress. Order a book and join us in person or online each Sunday evening at 5:00. This Sunday, we will be praying for our first week, which we begin on Monday, the 26th. Plenty of time to order a book. If you’re in the area, come by the office and pick one up for $10. I will be available to answer questions, discuss topics, and ask questions of you; just email or text me and/or we’ll set up a time to get together. My email is

Abba, I pray that You will call all my readers to join us in this venture to learn and grow in You. May You call us, urge us, and motivate us to grab a book and learn from each other and from You. Lord Jesus, You are worth following, so I want to know all there is to know about follow-ship. Teach me so that I can teach others. Amen.

Proverbs 19 4-19-21

Let’s be practical: What are some of the benefits of following Jesus? Love! Joy!” Peace! Hope! Grace! Let’s look at joy.

8 The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.

Jesus is joy. Joy is an expression of God. It’s part of His character, just like love and goodness. In fact, Jesus is the exact representation of the Father, “The Son [Jesus] is the radiance of God’s Shekinah glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Hebrews 1:3.

Not only that, Jesus is the Word of God, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1, 14.

Godliness means, “being like God.” We get to do that through Jesus. Likewise, being like Jesus is being like God. It’s nice to have an example, isn’t it?

Here’s the biggest statement in the Bible (to me): “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30. It’s big because I know that pleasing Jesus IS pleasing God. I don’t have to worry that I’m going to get reprimanded later because I misinterpreted what Jesus said and then get scolded by the Father. They are One. To know Jesus is to know God. If I please one, I am pleasing the other.

Jesus died to give us this opportunity. When Christ called us to follow Him we pledged to do so. We even got baptized signifying to the world that we are now followers of Christ. He came to live in us through His Spirit, through which He empowers us to try, encourages us to try again, and blesses us whether we succeed or fail (as long as we are trying).

Here is a noteworthy verse/passage:

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

As we live for Him rather than for ourselves, we know that “the joy of the LORD is our strength.” Nehemiah 8:10. The strength to do what? To live for Christ. Want to know the power of God? Then clothe yourselves with the joy of the LORD,

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:14

and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, Ephesians 1:19-20

Enjoy the LORD today.

Abba, You are awesome! You have created a way for me to know You on a personal level. When I am enjoying Your Presence and participation in my life, I am filled with joy. I know Your love and sense Your peace. My hope is in You, O LORD. Thank You for Your daily grace. Fill me up, Abba, with YOU. Amen.

Proverbs 18 4-18-21

If Jesus is King of the universe, then obedience to Him is a given. Why don’t more people obey Him?

1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement. ESV

According to this verse, we choose to isolate ourselves from Jesus and seek our own desire. Breaking out against all sound judgement, we rebel, which is sin, and so, destroy ourselves. It is God’s desire to save us from ourselves through Jesus Christ; our own rebellious path toward destruction is our choice. Maybe a better picture of who Christ is will help us to quit relying on our own intellect and start being more obedient. Let’s pick up where we left off yesterday:

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3

  1. Christ is the mystery of God. His mission to earth to take our place on the cross, His God-hood and man-hood in the same body, His extravagant love for us demonstrated through Christ…it is, indeed, a mystery!
  2. Hidden in Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One. Want to know God? Get to know Jesus Christ!

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. Colossians 2:9-10

  1. All the fullness of the Deity (God the Father) lives in the bodily form of Christ.
  2. In Christ we have been brought to fullness. In other words, we are filled with God just like Jesus!
  3. Jesus is the head over every power and authority. Ephesians 1:21, Jude 1:25, Revelation 5:12-13

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Colossians 2:16-17

  1. Living religiously, whether Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, or even Baptist, is worshiping the shadow rather than the reality.
  2. That reality is found in Christ.

10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Hebrews 2:10

  1. Jesus brings many sons and daughters to glory.
  2. God is the One for whom and through whom everything exists. Colossians 1:16 says that Christ is the One for whom and through whom everything was created. What’s the deal? “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30.
  3. Jesus is the Pioneer of our salvation.
  4. He was made perfect (complete) through suffering. How so? Jesus completed the sacrificial system. It was done. Finished. He said so on the cross, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30.

The closer we look at Christ, the bigger He gets and the smaller we get. That’s the point. John the Baptizer said, “He must increase; I must decrease.” John 3:30. The same goes for us, too. Let’s worship Him today for who He is and what He has done for us. Oh, and be sure to thank Him for what He has planned for us, too, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived–the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9.

Abba, may You be praised today. As Your Spirit calls upon us to “seek His face,” (Psalm 27:8) may we worship You by seeking Your face, O Lord. May we receive with joy everything that comes from Your hand. We know it is for our good and for Your kingdom’s sake. “We worship You, Almighty God, there is none like You…” Amen.

Proverbs 17 4-17-21

Is Jesus worth following? Who is He, really? What did those who knew Him have to say about Him? Let’s see…

What NOT to do: 4 A wicked person listens to deceitful lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue. The key is to regularly read God’s Word and run everything through the filter of His truth.

Who is Jesus Christ? The apostle Paul tells us very descriptively in Colossians as well as Hebrews (many people believe Paul to be the writer of Hebrews; the styles are very similar as well as the content).

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:15-20

  1. He is the image of the invisible God
  2. He is the firstborn over all creation
  3. In Him all things were created, and they were created for Him
  4. He is before all things and holds all things together
  5. He is the Head of the church
  6. He is the firstborn from among the dead
  7. He is reconciling all things to Himself by making peace through His blood

Let’s jump over to Hebrews now and see the similarities:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1:1-3

  1. God speaks through His Son. See Matthew 21:37
  2. He is heir of all things. We are co-heirs; see Romans 8:17
  3. The universe is made through Him
  4. He is the radiance of God’s glory
  5. He is the exact representation of God’s being
  6. He sustains everything by His powerful word (which is why we read the Word that He has given us)
  7. He sits at the right hand of God, who is the Majesty of heaven (to read more, go to Ephesians 1:19-23)

There’s more, so we will continue tomorrow. For today, let’s be awed by His majesty, acclaim His great name, and bow to His will for our lives. To me, it all comes into focus with one verse, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15. We will learn more tomorrow.

Abba, thank You for sending Your Son to us. Thank You for calling us friends. Thank You for making a way for You to come and live in my heart and life. May I live my life with that very thought in mind: You in me and I in You, just as You are in Christ and He is in You (John 17:21, 23). Make us all one in the Spirit, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 16 4-16-21

I had a dream last night. In that dream, I experienced the Holy Spirit like never before. Let me tell you my dream.

16 How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!

I was at a conference at a big non-Baptist church (how I knew that, I don’t know). During the music portion of the service, the Holy Spirit swept through the auditorium with the sound of a freight train. It filled everything and everyone including me! I was lying down (remember that it was a dream) when I was filled by His presence and it was amazing! It must have been a waking dream because my entire body was filled with His Presence and the feeling didn’t abate for quite a while as I lay there in bed.

Back to the dream: I left the auditorium and came back; as I entered, I was remembering what had happened, and I was filled again! In fact, as I remember His flowing and filling–His Coming–I am washed over with that same feeling right now! It’s different from the dream because it abates rather quickly where in the dream, it didn’t.

In the dream, it was time for another session, but first, I stopped by a family style restroom; while I was in there, a young couple came in (odd, right?). They were talking about creation vs. evolution and he wasn’t making the biblical connection. As I was leaving, I made mention to him that I would love to have a conversation with him about the topic and gave him my business card. I mentioned a “for instance” concerning clues that God gave us in His Word that substantiate a literal six-day creation, which was the separating of the heavens on day four and their rejoining at the Coming of the Lord. Then, I awoke.

I realized at this point that I wanted/needed to get up and write down what I saw and felt. I am still glowing from it! Here is what I “downloaded” from what I was thinking when I talked to the young man:

  1. The heavens separated- Genesis 1:14-19; rejoined- Revelation 22:1-5. The light in Genesis 1:3 is the same light that is in Revelation 22:5.
  2. The Sabbath- Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 20:8-11, 31:13-17; Jesus claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath. Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5, John 5:18
  3. Jesus believed in a six-day creation- In Mark 10:6, Jesus states the creation and in the reality of Adam and Eve. He even quotes Genesis 2:24. In Mark 13:19, Jesus states that God created the world. In John 17:24, in Jesus’ prayer, He mentions that God loved Him before the creation of the world. Jesus also believed in Noah! See Matthew 24:37-39 and Luke 17:26-27.
  4. Death entered through sin- Genesis 2:16-17, 3:19, Romans 5:12; there was no death before Adam and Eve sinned.
  5. The Plan of Salvation- the “old Adam” and the “new Adam” 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45, Romans 5:12-21

Our faith is based upon the promises of God and particularly those of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:3-4). His great promise to us is that His Word is truth (John 17:17), both its history and its prophecy. The BIGGEST promise Jesus gave was that He would send the Holy Spirit (John 14:26 and Acts 1:4-5), which He did at Pentecost (Acts 2)! It is His Spirit with which I was filled in my dream. That same Spirit wants to fill us, and He will if we believe His promises and entrust ourselves to His will. The question is, do we believe enough to take action? Do we trust Jesus enough to give Him everything? He wants to fill us; let’s make room for Him by emptying ourselves of all doubt, worldly wisdom (an oxymoron), and any belief that is not based upon the truth of God in His Word.

Abba, thank You for such an excellent dream! I pray that everyone may experience Your Holy Spirit in such a dramatic way. It is, indeed, a foretaste of glory divine. Give us faith, O Lord, to believe Your promises. We will prove our faith by being obedient to You. Amen.

Proverbs 15 4-15-21

The LORD seeks our devotion. Let’s run a check on our lives; are we devoted to Him in every area? Let’s get that way!

“8 the LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases Him.

As far back as the Garden of Eden, God has wanted our devotion. What does being devoted to Him entail? Devotion- profound dedication, earnest attachment. Adam and Eve had that devotion, but it was untested. When it was tested, they failed. Let’s read the account:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
Genesis 3:6-10

Granted, Eve was deceived by Satan. What it boils down to, though, is that she doubted God’s instruction and promise (Genesis 2:16-17, 3:2-3). How about us? Do we ever doubt God’s instruction and promise?

The fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil had a lasting effect upon Adam and Eve. Whether it was because they had sinned and had lost the shekinah glory (covering) of God or because they were now aware of their bodies (sexually), they realized that they were naked. I tend to think of it like this: Because they were now aware of their bodies, they realized that they had lost their shekinah glory (covering). Because they were naked, they were afraid to stand in God’s presence. They knew He was going to come to walk with them, so they tried to cover themselves with fig leaves (3:7) and hid (3:8).

Notice that God came to them, anyway. He even called out looking for them. Did He really not know where they were or what they had done? He was prompting them to come before Him and confess to Him what He already knew. He looks for us when we hide from Him. It is always better to turn to Him quickly and confess so that He can give us everything we need to have victory and make reparations. We may think that God did not take care of Adam and Eve that way, but let’s look:

  1. Christ died before Adam and Eve were created (Genesis 3:15, Revelation 13:8).
  2. He provided clothing for them (Genesis 3:21).
  3. He banished them from the Garden, which was an eternal place, so that they would die–we all need to die in order to be free from these corruptible/perishable bodies (1 Corinthians 15:53-54).

God takes care of us that way, too. Even in our sin, He plops Himself down right in the middle of us! He did it when the Israelites left Egypt (He had them construct a tent and He dwelt in it–kind of), He did it when He went to Matthew’s house and Zacchaeus’ house, and He did it with us in our lives. The entire Bible is God’s love letter to us telling us of His faithfulness and lovingkindness. Let’s wrap His words around us today.

From Psalm 119:97-104,

97 Oh, how I love your law [that which keeps us safe]! I meditate on it all day long. 98 Your commands are always with me and make me wise than my enemies. 102 I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are your words to my taste [soul], sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Abba, may we take great courage and comfort today in Your commands and promises. May we take the time to read them and learn them, for they are our strength, our mighty fortress into which we run. Amen.

Proverbs 14 4-14-21

Heaven is real. Heaven is concurrent. Earth is what we see in the viewscreen; heaven is everything else!*

11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish.

We will follow two themes today. One deals with verse 11, and the other concludes our study on the New Covenant and its ramifications (not that we have dealt with all of them).

First, a wicked person is one who is self-made. In other words, he has no room for God’s opinion. Even the good things he does have a wicked core, which is his own opinion of himself and what he considers good. Anything done outside of the direction and participation of the Holy Spirit is evil and will not carry into eternity. We are to store up for yourselves treasures in heaven;” the wicked person does not do that; instead, he stores up treasures on earth.

The second thing is the reference to a house. A house is a symbol of permanence. By building a house, a person is saying, “I’m staying right here. I am investing in my life in this house.” Notice that the upright uses a tent. Why? Because he can then use what he saved by not investing a house for heavenly investments. Also, he is making the statement, “I am not investing in this world because even though I am in this world, I am not of it (John 17:14-16). I have my sights set on the place my Father has in store for me in the kingdom of heaven.” Why do the upright flourish? Because they are spending their lives, their time and their resources wisely according to God.

Which brings us to the conclusion of the New Covenant ramifications. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36. So, where is His kingdom? Let’s look:

It’s not with the religious rulers of the temple, “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” Matthew 21:43

Many of Jesus’ disciples got to see Jesus come in His kingdom, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Matthew 16:28

Jesus brought His kingdom to each believer at Pentecost, “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:3-4

Why do I think such a thing? Because Jesus said, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst [within you].” Matthew 17:20-21. “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,” Colossians 1:13.

The kingdom of heaven is wherever Jesus is, so if Jesus is in our hearts, then the kingdom of heaven is within us! In view of this revelation, what does it mean concerning the coming of the kingdom? It means that the kingdom of heaven comes to earth as the people of earth receive Jesus into their lives. Want His kingdom to come, His will be done? Then pray that people will receive Jesus Christ, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach!

* The beginning statement needs explanation. When COVID 19 hit, we went to an online service. That Easter, we had one scene for the music and then a living room scene for the sermon. People saw the scenes as the cameras focused on them. I was standing just off-camera as Bryan and Luann finished up the sermon when I realized that Bryan and Luann were “standing on earth” while I was “standing in heaven.” What we perceive on this earth is only what we can see through the lens of the camera. Heaven is everything else: the scene where Robin and I sang, the rest of the stage, the empty seating, the tech area, etc. We should think of heaven as something just outside of our perception. Think about it: All Jesus did to show up in the upper room with His disciples was to step into the scene. He stepped out of the scene when He was with the two disciples at Emmaus. Where is heaven? It’s right beside you–just off-camera. The threshold of death is just that, a threshold, a doorway into the spirit world.

We finish with one more kingdom of heaven verse, “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven [Jesus] has come near.’” Matthew 10:7.

Abba, I know these are difficult concepts, but it’s time for us to put away childish things and become spiritual adults–or, at least, leave the nursery. We want spiritual meat so we can share weighty stuff with those in need of real answers to life–not to impress them, but to offer them something other than “junk food and pat answers.” You live in our hearts. You reign in our lives. You give real peace and real joy and real purpose, and You love with an everlasting love. These are the truths we need to be sharing as well as experiencing them in our own lives. We can’t share what we do not have. So, move in us, O Lord. Shake us until there is nothing left but that which is eternal. If we’re not ready, then get us ready. Move across our land with renewal for Your people and then revival for our potential brothers and sisters in Christ. May it be time, Abba. Amen. So be it.

Proverbs 13 4-13-21

If we are not counting ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus, then we are not living the true Christian life.

2 From the fruit of their lips [professing Christ as Lord each day and living for Him] people enjoy good things [His presence and participation in their lives], but the unfaithful [those who ignore the Spirit within] have an appetite for violence [wickedness, which is doing things without consulting the Lord].

Paul said in Romans 6:11, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” He was describing what happened to us when we believed in Christ as our Lord and Savior. We were buried with Him and then raised with Him to walk in the new life. This process is pictured in baptism. We go under the water, which represents dying, and then come back up out of the water, which signifies raising to life just like Him.

What makes this process possible? The New Covenant! It is the completion of the Old Covenant, which showed us what we needed (a Savior), but all it could do for our sin issue was cover it until the Messiah came and took care of it on the cross, “in His forbearance, he [God] had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–” Romans 5:25.

Paul then gives a rather graphic example further explaining the ramifications of this New Covenant.

1the law has authority over someone only as long as that person livesFor example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man. So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him [Jesus!] who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:1-6

What is this new way of service that that we have? What is the way of the Spirit? John calls it “walking in the light,” “If we walk in the light, as God is [in the/our] light, we have fellowship with one another [Christ with us and us with Christ], and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 Our Christianity can be measured by how much we depend upon the Spirit and have fellowship with Him. In fact, prayer (our conversation with the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit) demonstrates our dependence on God. Our lack of prayer demonstrates our independence from God, which is actually a form of rebellion (sin). Doing anything without consulting God first and being obedient to His direction is wickedness. We must repent and do the things we know to do according to His leadership in our lives–moment by moment. There should be no periods of NOT being connected to the Spirit. There may not be any talking going on, but there is an awareness of each other’s presence. Robin and I demonstrate this awareness all the time when we are driving. We are together and enjoying each other’s company, but we may not be in an actual conversation. It’s this kind of fellowship that John is talking about in 1:7.

May we strive to be aware of His presence in our lives; may we welcome His participation and the fellowship that goes with being in step with Him. His Spirit is our confirmation, our surety of salvation, and we are reminded of the absoluteness of our salvation every time we converse with Him. People who do His will according to the leadership of the Holy Spirit never doubt their salvation; it’s too real to them!

24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. 1 John 3:24

Abba, thank You for the gift of Your blessed Holy Spirit. He is Your presence in my life. Through Him, I know You! In fact, since the Spirit IS You, then I am talking to You all the time. For a tangible representation of You, I think of Jesus. Lord Jesus, You walk with me and talk with me along life’s narrow way. Thank You for living in my heart and for me being a part of Your kingdom. Bring Your kingdom, Lord. I welcome it both in my heart and in this world. Amen.

Proverbs 12 4-12-21

To be set free from sin is not so that we can live for ourselves, but for the One who set us free. Let’s live for Jesus!

2 Good people [those who live for Christ] obtain favor from the LORD, but He condemns those who devise wicked schemes [live for themselves without regard for Him].

Jesus made an interesting statement in John 8. He stated a spiritual truth that still holds true today.

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” John 8:34

He had said something similar in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 when He said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon [appetite for riches, power, self-exaltation].” Matthew 6:24 Jesus was basically saying that if we are not serving God, then we are serving the other.

This spiritual truth has everything to do with the New Covenant. The Old Covenant showed us what we did not have, which was what it took to conquer sin, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” Romans 3:20. As Jesus said, since we are sinners, we are slaves to sin. Paul said,

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins [we were slaves]in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 
12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:1-3, 12

Christ has made it possible to be freed from the chains of sin–to become slaves of righteousness. Read it:

17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sinyou have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:17-18

We must remember that we were not designed to do life on our own. God wants to do life with us. Hence, the cross. Through Christ’s death and atonement for our sins, we can be freed from our bondage to sin as Christ comes to live in our hearts. Our slavery to righteousness simply means that we pledge our allegiance to the Father to live as He directs. Remembering that He is both Great and Good, we can count on Him to deal justly with us NOT according to our own acts, but according to the Righteous Act of His Son, Jesus.

What does this slavery to righteousness look like? Jesus told us,

28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened [with the bondage of sin], and I will give you rest29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

What should we do? Out of gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.” Romans 6:20. We now live for Christ and not for ourselves. Any other way is evil. Let’s honor today the pledge we made to Christ; let’s live for Him and not ourselves, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:11-14.

Abba, what a beautiful thing You did for us through Jesus Christ. This New Covenant has set us free from sin and death, and allows us to have both the desire and the power to live righteously as we fellowship with You, learn from You, and trust You for every decision we make, from when to get up to when to go to bed; from what to read in Your Word to what to talk about with our friends; from what to wear to what to say–or not say. It’s all about the relationship! May we trust You more and more each day as we offer ourselves to You as slaves of Your righteousness. Who knew that being a slave would be so good?! I’m addicted, Lord. I need more of You. Today. All day. Amen.

Proverbs 11 4-11-21

Learning to subdue our human nature is tough, but necessary if we want to be like Christ. He is our Life.

2 Pride comes before disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
27 Whoever diligently seeks good finds good will [acceptance from God], but evil comes to [goes into] one who searches for it.

Christ died once for all, but only those who accept His sacrifice as their substitute receive the cleansing that comes by His blood. Through Christ, we have died to our human nature and now live according to our heavenly nature. Those who have received the Holy Spirit now live for Christ and His purposes.

Revelation 1:5 (ESV)

5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

There are several things in this passage that are important:

1. We are free in Christ.

2. He lives in us. We are His kingdom. In fact, we are ONE with Christ! “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” 1 Corinthians 6:17

3. We are priests. Christ is our mediator and we need no other.

4. Once we are in Christ, our position is permanent. His kingdom, which is in us, will never end.

So, if we are new creations, priests of God, and His kingdom is within us, then why is it so difficult to live a godly life? Answer: Because we still live in this flesh, which houses our human nature, that which we are without God and His participation. If we could get past the feels, we could much more effectively live the Christ life. Let’s face it: Our human nature doesn’t WANT to live a godly life; it wants to live for itself. Beth Moore had it right: We are twice the enemy to ourselves than Satan ever thought about being. He merely highlights our dilemma of having two natures now. The one that grows is the one we feed daily.

So, what are we feeding ourselves? What SHOULD we be feeding ourselves?

2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3

14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:14

16 Let the message [word] of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3:16

Today’s a good day to do Colossians 3:16. Let’s worship together as we commit ourselves, once again, to God’s Word, the Christ life, and to Him who lives in us.

Abba, may You be honored today in our actions, our thoughts, our songs, our prayers, and our conversation. May we learn from You today through the songs, the message, and our teachers even as You take what we hear and synthesize it for us and apply it to our lives. Make us one in You, O Lord. We are Your Church, Your Bride, Your Temple, Your Branches. Bring honor to Your name through us. Amen.

Proverbs 10 4-10-21

Dying to self and living for Christ is at the heart of Christianity. Why? Let’s take a look.

13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning…14 The wise store up knowledge…

As we continue to consider the ramifications of the New Covenant, let’s look at the roots of this “New” Covenant.

…the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made. Revelation 13:8

Why was Christ slaughtered as a Lamb before God made mankind? So that the law would be in place that sin would kill us. What?! Sin needed to kill us in order for Christ to raise us!

14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that those who live would no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose on their behalf. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

God Himself told Adam and Eve what would happen if/when they sinned, “…for the day you eat of it you shall surely die [spiritually].” Genesis 2:17. This law was put in place to keep us from being eternally separated from God. Who is eternally separated from God? Satan and his followers. They cannot be saved because the law of Christ does not apply to them. They are eternally living their rebellion because outside of time, the “time” is ever-present. All of a sudden, the passage in Hebrews 3:7-19 and, specifically, verse 13 make sense:

13 But encourage one another every day, as long as it is still called “today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 

As long as we (humans) are in the timeline of life, we have the opportunity to receive the salvation of Christ. Once death happens, there is no more “time” for salvation, “And just as it is destined for people to die once, and after this comes judgment,” Hebrews 9:27.

How do we apply the knowledge that we have died with Christ? Paul tells us in Romans 6:4, “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Tomorrow, we will look more into our death and resurrection in Christ. For today, let’s contemplate God’s wondrous plan and His immense love for us and how we may live a new life in and for Him.

Abba, You are truly wonderful! Your plan has always been for us to be at Your side. Thank You for making it happen through Christ Jesus. May I never take for granted the lengths You had to go to be resident in us by way of Your Holy Spirit. May You not be just resident, but President in our lives. Amen.

Proverbs 9 4-9-21

Want to be blessed with God’s kindness and grace? His wisdom and understanding? Believe in Jesus whom He has sent.

13 Folly…14 sits at the door of her house…15 calling out to those who pass by…16 “Let all who are simple [naïve, prone toward evil] come to my house!”

The best I can tell from Scripture, Adam and Eve were perfect before God until they disobeyed. Their disobedience was rebellion; it was sin. That sin broke their fellowship with God–but it didn’t change God’s love for them. He had set up ahead of time the means to get them back into right relationship with Himself through the cross. Read it:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.  Ephesians 1:3-5

Redeeming us through the cross was God’s plan all along. It’s always been Plan A; there’s never been a Plan B. What did God do with sin? For the answer to that question, we go to Romans 5:12,

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned–

So, sin entered the world through Adam. We get that. Death comes to us all because of sin. We get that, too. It seems unreasonable–until we look at the next part that is found in Romans 5:18-19,

18 Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone19 Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.

God allowed sin to kill everyone who came after Adam, who was our representative, so that Jesus could redeem everyone at one time as our Representative. God even put off the judgement of everyone’s sin until that sin could go to the cross,

25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. Romans 3:25-26

Jesus told us that the only work required to be made righteous and put in right standing with the Father was “to believe in the one He has sent.” John 6:29. That person, of course, was Jesus. We believe Jesus when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6. He told Martha at Lazarus’ death, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” John 11:25-26. Then He asked her a poignant question, “Do you believe Me?” He asks us the same question every time we have a decision to make. We prove our faith each time we choose to believe Him and act according to our faith rather than according to our own reasoning. Paul put it like this, we “do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:4.

What is our response to so great a salvation? WE PRAISE GOD!

So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. Ephesians 1:6-8

Right now, give thanks to the Lord for His wonderful gift of grace through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Abba, I thank You and praise You for the wonderful gift of grace You have lavished on us through Jesus. You are so rich in kindness and grace; You have showered Your kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives (Colossians 1:9). Your Spirit who lives in us bears witness with our spirit that we are Your children, adopted into Your family (Romans 8:16-17), and co-heirs with Jesus Himself! WOW! You are amazing, Abba! May Your praise continue forever and be continually on my lips. Amen.

Proverbs8 4-8-21

How does the New Covenant relate to us? Through Jesus, we can now experience the love, joy and peace of God.

20 I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, 21 bestowing a rich [spiritual] inheritance on those who love me and making their [heavenly] treasuries full.

As we continue to delve into the mysteries of this New Covenant, let’s take a look at some of the practical ways it affects us. I don’t know about you, but I need practical application in order to more fully understand a concept. Let’s begin with Romans 5:1-2,

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. 

We believe in the resurrection, so we have faith that Jesus gave us peace with God by being our propitiation (substitute offering) through His death and resurrection. We have experienced His grace! It’s not that God hated us and is not appeased; He has always loved us and personally came to us in/as Jesus Christ. God died for us through Jesus. That’s how much He loves us (John 3:16). Our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for us is what gives us peace with God. We now have access to stand in His presence and experience all of His love, joy, peace, and the hope that these feelings bring to us as we walk in this world. If you are not experiencing these fruit of the Spirit, then spend time with Him at His throne; it’s the only way to get them.

Tomorrow, we will read Romans 5:12 and look at how this New Covenant fulfilled God’s eternal plan. In the meantime, take great assurance in the peace of God by spending time with Him in His Word and in prayer. It’s in our exchange with Him that we receive His point of view (wisdom). Your reward in heaven will be great!

Abba, I want to “rejoice and leap” as it says in Luke 6:23! As I spend time in Your presence by turning around in my mind and addressing You, I immediately sense Your love, joy and peace that exude from You. I KNOW it’s what You want me to experience all the time; I just need more training in how to keep You at the forefront of my mind. Train me, O Lord, so that I may train others. Amen.

Proverbs 7 4-7-21

The Israelites broke the Mosaic covenant with the LORD, of which we weren’t even a part, yet. Aren’t we glad that Jesus established a new one?!

18 “Come, let’s drink deeply of love till morning; 19 my husband is not at home…”

When we read the prophets, we find these two verses describe Israel. She had broken her marriage vow with the LORD–many times. He allowed her to be carried off first by the Assyrians and then the Babylonians. After her return to the land of Israel, the Lord never demonstrated His presence in the second temple, nor did He speak through the prophets for 400 years.

The next prophet to prophesy was Mary. Listen to her prophecy: From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me–holy is His name” Luke 1:48-49. John the Baptist’s dad, Zechariah, was the next person to prophesy, “He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David…to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham…and you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him…” Luke 1:69, 73, 76.

The next person to prophesy was Simeon, the temple priest, who consecrated Jesus when Mary and Joseph presented Him at the temple. Listen to his prophecy: “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations; a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel” Luke 2:30-32. The last person to testify was John the Baptist himself, “I baptize you with water for repentance, But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” Matthew 3:11.

Did you catch a running theme?

  • Mary – All future generations would be blessed by her offspring.
  • Zechariah – Salvation has come, the offspring of David, and the answer to the oath sworn to Abraham; his son, John, would prepare the way for Him.
  • Simeon – Salvation would come through Him to all nations; He would be a light to the Gentiles and the glory of the people of Israel-well, all those who believe in Him. Even today, the traditional leaders of Israel teach to NOT believe in Jesus as Messiah.
  • John the Baptist – The coming of the Holy Spirit! John prophesied about the point of Jesus’ coming, which culminated at Pentecost. The fire mentioned was judgement upon the unbelieving leadership. This judgement happened in 70 AD at the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

What did Jesus come to do? It’s called the New Covenant; we’ll talk about it tomorrow. In the meantime, let’s glory in what Christ has done for us. He is our Messiah! He is Yeshua Ha-Mashiach!

Abba, thank You for all You have done for us through Jesus Christ. The fulfilling of first the Abrahamic covenant and then the Mosaic Covenant in the New Covenant was genius! Would that all Jews—all people!—would see what You did there. I pray for them that they would come to recognize You, Jesus, as their Messiah even as we do. May Your kingdom come, and may Your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven, which is immediately and fully. Amen.