Proverbs 13 8-13-22

More than just a frame for our bodies, our bones give us life. “Life is in the blood.” Lev. 17:11

28 In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.

Yesterday, we looked at the two types of bones we have in our bodies, compact bone (compact for hardness and strength) and spongy bone; it’s called “spongy” because of the way it looks. The spongy bone is still hard, but it provides loads of surface area for the storage of nutrients and minerals. Let’s look at the three functions of our bones. From, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body, page 51-52

First, bones have several mechanical functions. For example, they protect the body’s vital organs; they serve as a framework to which the muscles and organs are attached; and they allow the body to move by means of muscles contracting across joints.

A second important function for bone is to help maintain precise levels of calcium and phosphorus in our blood and tissue fluids (a process called mineral homeostasis). Bone serves as a depot for storing and removing these minerals as needed. Among other things, calcium is vital for cells to stick together and for muscles to contract, while phosphorus is an essential ingredient in many complex chemicals, such as DNA and RNA.

Finally, an exceedingly important function of bone is to produce blood in bone marrow. The marrow produces both red and white blood cells. Red blood cells are essential for carrying oxygen to all the cells in our body, while white blood cells fight disease and infections.
Special cells in the marrow, called megakaryocytes, produce something else for blood, called platelets. These cells fragments circulate in the blood and are important for blood clotting that patches holes in blood vessels.

Our bones get their strength from their design as tubes. Solid rods actually bend easily; tubes don’t. “Bone itself is a remarkably strong material. It is as strong as cast iron and resists bending as well as steel, though bone is only one-third of steel’s weight.
Bone has the right mix of two very different components: a very hard inorganic material called hydroxyapatite and a tough, fibrous organic material called collagen (the protein of leather). The crystal material makes up about 70% of the dry weight of bone, while collagen makes up most of the remaining 30%.”

Bones seemed so simple before studying up on them! It still amazes me that people cannot see a Master Designer. There’s not a wasted bone in our bodies. We would do well to check our lives for anything that is wasting our energy or drawing us off-point. Hebrews 12:1-2 says,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 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.

Abba, our bodies are a work of genius, Your Genius. I feel like David when he looked up at the stars and proclaimed, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” I consider the human body, the work of Your fingers, and I am humbled that You care so much for us that You would rather die–on a cross–than see us destroy ourselves. Even so, these bodies return to dust eventually, but You have new, glorified bodies waiting for us. If these bodies reflect Your glory, how much more glorious will our heavenly bodies be (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). I can hardly wait, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 12 8-12-22

Bones–God’s Living Girders. Make no “bones” about it. We need them!

3:7-8 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear [reverence, take seriously] the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

I had previously thought of bones as solid. Not So! As we look at their amazing structural design, we will definitely see a Master Designer.

From, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body, page 49-51

The adult human skeleton consists of about 206 bones. However, the number varies with age. At birth, the human body has about 300 bones, but as the body ages and matures, many of these bones fuse together. The adult skull (without its lower jaw), for example, appears to be one bone, but in fact is made up of 22 fused bones: 8 in the skull proper and 14 in the face. The clavicle (collar bone) is the last bone to completely fuse, about the age of 25.

The mature skeleton has two basic types of bone, compact bone and spongy bone. One offers brute strength, while the other has a sophisticated design that provides strength with the least possible weight.
The strong tubular shaft of long bones, such as our thigh bone (femur), is made of compact bone. Compact bone itself appears to be completely solid, but is actually permeated with many blood vessels running lengthwise within hollow tunnels, called Volkmann’s canals. Surrounding each of these canals are concentric rings, or layers, of bone that form osteons. This architecture helps give compact bone its great strength.

Spongy bone occurs mostly inside each end of long bones. Spongy bone receives its name from its appearance, not because it can be squeezed like a sponge.
The surface area of spongy bone is vastly greater than that of compact bone, so it is mostly in this type of bone that calcium and phosphorus are stored and removed to maintain mineral balance in our body fluids. Each of the little beams of spongy bone is oriented precisely to impart the greatest strength for the load placed on the bone. Amazingly, when the load placed on bone changes, such as during pregnancy, the spongy bone can change its shape to best accommodate the new load.

And, we’re just getting started! Tomorrow, we will look at a bone’s functions. For today, let’s take our Proverbs verse seriously and be wise in how we live. May we depend upon the Spirit’s guidance at all times as we walk life’s road with the Lord.

Abba, the structure You have given us is amazing! It’s strong, but flexible, and can heal itself as well as provide essential nutrients for our bodies. Your Word works in just the same way. What You say to us, either through our Bibles, prayer, circumstances or others, makes us strong and flexible, it heals us even while we provide essential “nutrients” for the body of Christ, like love, comfort, help, advice, and fellowship. You are amazing, heavenly Father! We praise You. Amen.

Proverbs 11 8-11-22

A quick catch-up on the retina…

18 Truly the righteous attain life, but whoever pursues evil finds death.
Isaiah 6:9 (paraphrased) You are ever hearing, but never understanding; you are ever seeing, but never perceiving.

I was reminded by one of my readers that I had not finished our study on the eye. Although each part of the eye is important, it is the retina that does the actual “seeing.”

Even though the eye is small, only about 1 inch in diameter, it serves a very important function – the sense of sight. The eye is one of the most complex organisms in the human body. It is made up of many distinct parts working in unison together and in order for the eye to work at its best, all parts must work well collectively.*

I always thought of the retina as a small spot on the back of the eyeball. Come to find out, it’s the “Light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. It contains millions of photoreceptors (rods and cones) that convert light rays into electrical impulses that are relayed to the brain via the optic nerve.”*

The retina processes light through a layer of photoreceptor cells. These are essentially light-sensitive cells, responsible for detecting qualities such as color and light-intensity. The retina processes the information gathered by the photoreceptor cells and sends this information to the brain via the optic nerve. Basically, the retina processes a picture from the focused light, and the brain is left to decide what the picture is.**

The sheer complexity of the retina/optic nerve/brain interaction goes way beyond anything that Evolution can produce–given that it has some kind of agenda. Actually, evolution can’t have an agenda, unless we want to count the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that without outside energy, everything reverts to its most basic form. It’s the law of Entropy. The eye would not keep trying until it hit upon the right combination; it would be reabsorbed into the primordial soup. Not only that, but there is not body to support it (same problem). It takes a lot more faith to believe in macro-evolution than it does a Master Designer.

Let’s thank the Lord for His creativity and complexity.

Abba, I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. All I have to do is “look” at my eyes. Granted, I don’t see as well as my eyes were designed, but I know I will in the body You have prepared for me in Your kingdom. I can hardly wait (and not just for perfect eyesight)! In the meantime, may I serve You with all I am. Give me Your eyes to see opportunities of ministry in Your name and in Your power. Amen.


**Retina Function,

Proverbs 10 8-10-22

As amazing as our hearts are, eventually they WILL stop. What does God have planned for us afterward?

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

Yesterday, we learned that the heart is actually two pumps in one, one pumping blood to the lungs for oxygen and the other pumping blood to the body. Today, we will learn about why the heart never wears out, what keeps it from sliding around inside the ribcage, and how it keeps from overheating.

Two pumps in one:

In Place and Lubricated
“The human body has an amazing ability to keep organs stable as we run, jump, and twirl. That may seem easy for kidneys or our bladder, but the heart presents an extra difficulty. It is pumping vigorously all the time. How can it keep moving without sliding around inside the ribcage or overheating?
To protect this nonstop muscle, God placed it in a special two-layered bag, called the pericardial sac. The tough outer layer of the sac, called the fibrous pericardium, attaches tightly to the heart. A special lubricant fluid between the two layers allows the heart to slide around with little friction. If it were not for this marvelous lubricated sac, the beating heart would create enough heat to kill us.” Taken from, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body,” page 43

As for never tiring, “God designed a separate system of nerves called the autonomic nervous system. These nerves differ from the nerves of our five senses because they continuously transmit without fail. They don’t get overwhelmed with information (like the strain on your eyes from staring too long at a bright tie-dyed shirt), so they don’t tire out.
Yet our hearts are different from typical autonomic systems. Most systems, like digestion, don’t have to run constantly. The heart, on the other hand, must function all the time. So God gave the heart a built-in pacemaker that allows it to run regularly, without active outside control.
Sitting on the upper right side of the heart is a cluster of specialized cells called the sinoatrial node. They generate electrical impulses that stimulate the muscles in the upper chambers to contract. The signal continues moving down to another cluster of cells above the lower chambers, which then fire.
These electrical impulses ebb and flow in regular waves, without the need for direct input from the brain.
If needed, however, the brain can directly control heart rate and blood pressure. The brain constantly monitors the heart to evaluate when to step in.” (page 44)

Adrenaline is a big part of how the brain helps the heart help us during strenuous exercise.

As we can see, we can trust God with our bodies. They WERE designed to last forever, but not anymore; sin took care of that. We have this promise, though, in 2 Corinthians 4:16,

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

The Spirit in us would have kept not only the inward person renewed, but the outer person renewed, as well. These physical bodies are part of the old covenant. Jesus has new bodies awaiting us beyond this physical world,

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 5:2-5

Abba, it is this promise, this guarantee, that gives us hope for the future. We are confident that You will keep Your promise to keep us with You and to see You in Your glory (John 17:24). May we keep the main thing the main thing: Trusting You daily for everything. Amen.

Proverbs 9 8-9-22

Without the flow of oxygen to our brains, we would pass out in 10 seconds, and die in 5 minutes. Enter: The Heart!

3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart…the Hebrew word for “heart” means with every fiber in our being, with all we have.

Our hearts begin beating about the fifth week after conception. It will beat more than 2.5 billion times for the average lifespan of 79 years (for Americans).

Our hearts are actually double pumps in that they pump blood to the lungs for oxygen and then to the body for the distribution of that oxygen. When a baby is in the mother’s womb, his “heart starts out as a simple, large tube. As the baby grows, however, the Creator designed the tube so that it loops back, forming a kink. The sides fuse together, forming a wall between two separate compartments. As the rest of the heart forms, the two sides remain separate, essentially becoming two pumps.” During gestation, there is a hole (the foramen ovale) between the chambers that allows the flow of blood to bypass the lungs (the baby gets oxygen through the umbilical cord). “At birth, a marvelous transformation takes place. When the lungs inflate and the baby takes his first breath, the pressure in the heart shifts, forcing a flap over the foramen ovale to close the hole. The body also produces chemicals that cause the bypass artery to close.
By marvelous design, the baby emerges from its watery home and breathes the air without a glitch. Blood begins pumping to the lungs to absorb oxygen without a moment’s delay.”
Taken from, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body,” pages 44-46

How does the heart keep from wearing out, sliding around inside the ribcage or overheating? We will cover these questions tomorrow.

Abba, You are amazing. When we say that we love You with all our heart, we really are saying that we love You like our hearts work: Continuously and with all we have. May we take seriously what it means to love You with all our heart, serving You faithfully even as our hearts do us. We depend upon You, O Lord, even as we depend upon our hearts for the very oxygen we breathe. You ARE our oxygen, Lord Jesus. You are LIFE. Amen.

Oxygen by Avalon

Proverbs 8 8-8-22

When it comes to the inner ear, there is NO WAY Evolution came up with this. It’s sheer genius!

30 [At the creation of the world and man] I was the craftsman at his side day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, 31 rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.

We have discussed the outer ear, the middle ear, and now we will discuss the inner ear. If the shape of the ear, the canal and eardrum weren’t enough, along with the three bones that are fully grown at birth and amplify sound 20-fold for the next step in hearing, then the inner ear will finally persuade you that Evolution had nothing to do with the human body.

The foot plate that is at the end of the stirrup moves in and out causing waves in the inner ear’s fluid. “The bony chamber of the inner ear is shaped like a small snail shell, from which it gets its Latin name cochlea. The function of the cochlea is to take the mechanical vibrations from the ossicles [small bones] (and ultimately the eardrum) and convert them into electrical signals understandable to the brain.” From, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body,” page 36-38

“Inside the cochlea are three canals. The middle canal is a spiral, filled with a special fluid. Running within this spiral canal is yet another fluid-filled channel called the cochlear duct. As the piston movement of the middle ear [foot plate] causes waves to travel through the fluid in the cochlea, the cochlear duct bounces up and down.
Inside the cochlear duct is a strip of tissue known as the organ of Corti…here the ear converts signals at a molecular level.”

This organ essentially consists of three rows of outer hair cells and one row of inner hair cells. The tops of the cells have tiny “hairs”…these hairs are actually cilia that are much smaller than a hair on our bodies.
The tips of some of the hairs are attached to an overlying spiral membrane called the tectorial membrane. When the organ of Corti bounces up and down, the tectorial membrane wiggles the hairs.

The wiggling of the hairs causes small molecular “trapdoors” on the tips of the hairs to open and close, permitting electrically charged particles (ions) to enter the hairs. Incredibly, the molecular trapdoors are controlled by molecular springs that attach to adjustable molecular brackets. [This is small stuff, y’all].
It staggers the mind to think of tiny molecular trapdoors opening and closing at a rate between 20 and 20,000 times per second, admitting charged ions into the tips of the hairs. This movement of ions generates electrical signals that are sent to the brain, where they are processed and interpreted [as specific sounds].”

I read the material and studied the illustrations and I still don’t know how the brain knows what sounds it is receiving. The inner ear, especially working with the middle and outer ear, is miraculous! And to think that God is WAY beyond physical hearing. He hears us when we mentally cry out, and He answers. If we listen beyond the physical with our spirits, we can hear Him talking to us. He is saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore, I have drawn you [to myself] with loving devotion” (Jeremiah 31:3). Let’s respond to that love right now.

Abba, I hear you! Thank You for loving me and drawing me to Yourself with loving devotion. I am Your child, Your creation. The fact that You care for me gives me great joy and comfort. I praise You, Abba. Amen.

Tomorrow: The Heart.

Proverbs 7 8-7-22

God’s design of the human ear – Part 2

19:27 Stop listening to instruction, my child, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

Yesterday, the outer ear. Today, the middle ear.

Malleus (Hammer), Incus (Anvil), Stapes (Stirrup) and Oval Window

The function of the middle ear is to amplify the sound vibrations of the eardrum. the vibrations must be compressed into a much smaller area.
This is accomplished by a sequence of three small bones in the middle ear, known collectively as ossicles. The ossicles are the smallest bones in the body. They are the only bones that never grow larger from the time of birth.
Vibrations produced in the eardrum are passed to the first bone, called the hammer (malleus) whose “handle” is attached to the eardrum. This bone, in turn, passes its vibrations to a bone called the anvil (incus). Next, the vibration is transmitted to a bone that looks like a stirrup, called the stapes. Finally, the “foot place,” located on the stirrup, is inserted into a small oval window.
Amplification results because the surface area of the eardrum is much greater than the foot plate of the stirrup, thus concentrating the energy over a smaller area and resulting in over a 20-fold increase in pressure. The foot place moves in and out, like a piston, producing waves in the fluid of the inner ear.

How these bones know what to do is beyond me. The very fact that they never grow any bigger after birth is astonishing. How did evolution figure that one out? How did these bones know that if they worked together that they could transmit sound from the eardrum to…what? That’s tomorrow’s lesson: The Inner Ear. Prepare to be amazed (if you already weren’t).

Abba, as much as we depend upon hearing in this world, I am glad that we don’t have to depend upon hearing you audibly; You speak directly to our hearts and minds. May we listen for You daily as we train ourselves to listen closely for Your still, small voice–most of the time… Amen.

Proverbs 6 8-6-22

God’s design of the human ear – Part 1

18:15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. Romans 10:17

About 3.5 years ago, I noticed that my left ear sounded like it was next to a commercial air conditioner. As I listened, I realized that I had significant hearing loss in that ear. I went to a specialist who tested my hearing and I was right, about -60 on their scale. They tried a series of injections into my eardrum–that was weird– with a steroid/antibiotic and I recovered quite a bit of my hearing; I moved to a -25. Over time, I believe that I have recovered even more hearing. The doctor had described to me what he thought had happened: a virus had attacked my inner ear. I reckon he was right! I didn’t understand what he was telling me because I had no real knowledge of the ear’s workings. I do now. Let’s read about The Hearing Ear from A Guide To the Human Body pg. 33-35.

The ears can hear everything, from the faint ticking of a small watch to the roar of a jet engine, a range of volume of nearly one million to one! It is fitting that one of the most marvelous organs in the body should be used to hear the Word of God.
Most sounds are produced by something vibrating, such as vocal cords or loudspeakers. These vibrations produce compressed pulses of air molecules that bump into other air molecules, which in turn bump into others and continue in this way until they reach our ears. The ear of a young person can sense as few as 20 pulses per second (for low-pitched sounds) and as many as 20,000 pulses per second (for high-pitched sounds).

Our ears are made up of three parts: The outer ear (air), the middle ear (bone), and the inner ear (fluid). We will look at the outer ear today.

The outer ear includes the pinna [the part we see], the ear canal, and the eardrum.
[The pinna] has a complicated cup-like shape designed to catch the sound waves from the air. Having two ears helps us to detect what direction sounds come from. Not only can they detect sounds from the left or right, but our pinnae can detect sounds from front, behind, above, or below us.
The ear canal is about 1 inch long and a little over a third of an inch in diameter. It efficiently channels sound waves to the eardrum. Lining the ear canal are special glands that produce earwax (cerumen). This wax lubricates the ear canal, preventing irritation and fighting bacteria.
For most people, the ear canal is self-cleaning. Ear wax traps dust particles, which are then removed from the ear canal (along with the wax) by an amazing conveyor-belt mechanism.
The eardrum (tympanic membrane) plays the final and starring role in the outer ear. Sound waves entering the ear canal cause the eardrum to vibrate. The minute movements of the eardrum are then passed on to the small bones in the middle ear.

Tomorrow, we will look deeper into the ear, which is where it gets exciting! We learn about bones that enable us to hear: The Hammer, the Anvil, and the Stirrup.

Abba, the sense of sound is one that we take for granted. Without realizing it, we can damage our ears with loud music, constant percussive noise, and noise levels that go beyond the limits of our ears. Many times, we won’t reap the whirlwind of hearing loss until we are older. Help us to be good stewards of our bodies, Lord, beginning with our ears. Amen.

Proverbs 5 8-5-22

The human body with its Intelligent Design is amazing. We continue today “looking” at the eye.

21 For our ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all our paths.
He also guides us on them (Psalm 73:24).

Yesterday, we covered the cornea, the iris, the pupil, the lens, and the liquid. Today, we will cover the muscles, the self-cleaning system.

The muscles:

The eye muscles are the busiest muscles in the body! Besides the muscles that control the inside of the eye, there are “three pairs of muscles attached to the outside of the eye. These muscles rotate the eyeball so we can look in different directions without moving our heads. Basically, one pair of muscles works like reins on a horse to aim the eye left and right. A second pair of muscles, attached to the top and bottom of the eyeball, aims the eye up and down. Finally, a third set of muscles rotates the eye like a doorknob. The purpose of these last two muscles is to keep our vision level when we tilt the head from side to side, so we don’t get dizzy (the Lord thinks of everything!).”
“Just think of it. Everywhere we turn our gaze, twelve separate muscles (six on each eye) move in perfect coordination for us to see the object we’re looking at. If our eyes are even slightly misaligned, we see double. This remarkable coordination is like a marksman so accurate with a pair of pistols that he can make only one bullet hole every time he fires both guns!”
From “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body” page 28-29

The self-cleaning washers in our eyes keep them lubricated and clean. Our tears also eliminate bacteria and other harmful products. “Deep under the upper eyelid, toward the side of the head, each eye has a special reservoir of eye-washing fluid called the lachrymal glands. These glands secrete a watery tear fluid that has just the right acid level (pH) and osmotic (concentration) properties. The fluid also contains special oils to reduce evaporation. It also gives our cornea a smooth surface for optimum vision.”
“If you look very closely at your eye, you will notice a small opening on the margin of your upper and lower eyelids near the nose. These holes, called puncta, are attached to pumps that remove the tear fluid as it flows across the eye and drains it into the nose. This continuously flushes our eyes of debris and keeps our cornea from drying out.”

Humans are the only creatures God created that can cry emotional tears. But, God catches our tears and stores them in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). It shows how much He cares for us. We can trust Him. He doesn’t promise to end our tears on this side of life, but He does promise to walk us through to His side of life.

Tomorrow, we finish our tour of the eye by studying the retina, and the optic nerve.

Abba, thank You for seeing my tears and for keeping them. They are precious to You; that makes me very happy. I know You cried, too (John 11:35). I am comforted by the thought that You understand our condition (Hebrews 4:15-16). I know that I can approach You for mercy and grace when I need it–which is all the time! Keep them coming, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 4 8-4-22

As we continue our journey through the human body and its intelligent design, we look again at the human eye.

20:12 Ears that hear and eyes that see–the LORD has made them both.

Yesterday, I listed the main parts of the eye: the cornea, the iris, the pupil, the lens, the liquid, the muscle, the cleaning system, the retina, and the optic nerve. Let’s look at each of them.

  • The Cornea- the thin covering over the front of the eye. It is about four times more powerful than the lens in bringing light into focus.
  • The Iris- the colorful part of the eye. It has two sets of muscles that work together to open and close the iris diaphragm thus controlling the size of the pupil. One muscle within the iris constricts the pupil in bright light (full sunlight, for example), and another iris muscle dilates (enlarges) the pupil in dim lighting and in the dark.
  • The Pupil- the window of the eye, it is how light enters the eye and focuses on the retina.
  • The Lens- flexible like rubber, it can quickly focus by changing its shape. Like the cornea, it is derived from embryonic skin and is marvelously transparent.
  • The Liquid- There are two kinds of liquids in our eyes, the Aqueous Humor and the Vitreous Humor. From,

The Aqueous Humor- Inside the eye are several compartments, or chambers.  Two of those chambers, the anterior (between the cornea at the front of the eye and the iris) and the posterior (between the iris and the lens) are filled with a thin, watery fluid called the aqueous humor.  After being produced by the ciliary body, the fluid flows through the pupil to fill the anterior and posterior chambers, after which it drains out of the eye through a structure called the trabecular meshwork. 
The Vitreous Humor- About eighty percent of the space inside the eye, the area behind the anterior and posterior chambers and between the lens and the retina, is filled with a clear, gel-like substance called the vitreous humor.  Consisting mainly of water, with small amounts of collagen, proteins, salts, and sugars, the vitreous has a firm, jelly-like consistency and helps to maintain the eye’s spherical shape. 

I know it’s a lot of information, but we’re not done, yet. Tomorrow, we will cover the muscles, the self-cleaning system, the retina, and the optic nerve. And to think that this visual system is contained and controlled by the DNA in every person’s body…definitely a Master Design!

Abba, the eyes with which we see are strictly physical. You look with Your spiritual eyes at our hearts and minds. May we learn to trust You to help us adjust, fix and censure what we see with our physical eyes along with the “eyes” of our heart and mind. Amen.

Proverbs 3 8-3-22

Continuing our journey through the human body and its intelligent design, we look one more time at the brain and then the eye.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear [respect, hold in awe] the LORD and shun evil.

A quick addendum to the brain: If we choose poorly, we should not say, “I will do it right next time.” Instead, we need to go ahead and correct ourselves and do it right. That way, we tell our brains which neuron paths we want to develop. It will make a difference down the road. This corrective behavior honors God and eventually makes us like Jesus.

Now, on to the eye…

Even Charles Darwin conceded that “to suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.” A Pocket Guide to the Human Body, page 25.

Poor Darwin; he chose absurdity over Master Design. What he wouldn’t have given for an electron microscope! Here are some of the things he would have found concerning the human eye:

The eye is essentially a living video camera of extraordinary sensitivity. Like any good manmade camera, the eye has a black interior to prevent light scattering, and an automatically focusing lens and adjustable diaphragm to control the light. And like the most sophisticated modern digital cameras, the eye has a light-sensitive layer (the retina) that can adjust to a wide range of brightness.
But unlike any camera made by man, the retina can automatically change its sensitivity to brightness over a range of ten billion to one! The retina’s light-sensitive cells (photoreceptors) can perceive a range of light, from bright sunlit snow to a single photon (the smallest unit of light). The eye also has the amazing ability to assemble and repair itself, unlike manmade cameras.

There are several parts to the eye: the cornea, the iris, the pupil, the lens, the liquid, the muscle, the cleaning system, and the retina. Tomorrow, we will look at each of these parts and what they do. We will quickly “see” that the eye cannot have produced itself via evolution. There are simply too many parts that must work simultaneously and in perfect order for the eye to work at all!

Abba, we are fearfully and wonderfully made! Help us to “see” You in every part of our body, nature, and our universe. Amen.

Proverbs 2 8-2-22

Continuing our journey through the human body and its intelligent design, we look again at the brain.

9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair–every good path.

Since our brains are safely tucked inside our skulls, we have limited space for neurons. Therefore, our brains must constantly be determining what information it will keep and what information it will let go. Here is a quote from A Pocket Guide to the Human Body, page 21-22.

The brain functions like a bookshelf with limited shelf space. If you need to add more pages to one of the books, then the increase needs to come at the expense of pages from other, nearby books on the shelf.
Behaviors or senses that are used more, receive a greater allocation of space in the brain. This explains why individuals who are blind or deaf seem to have heightened sensitivity in other areas.
Neurons make an astonishing number of connections with other neurons. An adult brain has around 100 billion neurons, and just one of those neurons can make tens of thousands of connections.
Initially, neurons send out fibers to a wide target area. Those connections that are repeatedly used become stronger, while those that are unused can be lost in a process called pruning. Neurons are constantly competing with each other for targets. Over time, each neuron becomes responsible for an increasingly smaller area.

In other words, the more focused a neuron is, the more adept we are at whatever it is that the neuron does. Musical instruments are a prime example of focused neurons. The more a person plays the piano, sax, guitar, trumpet, violin, etc. the more it becomes engrained in our brain’s neurons. We call it “second nature.” Athletes experience the same thing through practice.

Since experience alters the brain in both positive and negative ways, it is all the more important to live a godly life. Perhaps this is one reason that the Apostle Paul admonished Christians how to think: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

I particularly like the author’s approach to experience and repetition in our lives concerning godliness. We must practice what the Spirit shows us in order to get godliness entrenched in our brains. It is a process, a lifelong one, at that!

Tomorrow: The Seeing Eye

Abba, thank You for making us to adapt and change. I want to be like You, so change me. Your Word tells me that You are forming Christ in me (Galatians 4:19), conforming me to His image (Romans 8:29), and transforming me into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). You are amazing! Amen.

Proverbs 1 8-1-22

I see God in Irreducible Complexity. Today, we begin a journey through the human body and its intelligent design.

7 The fear [and reverence] of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.*
*fool-a person who is gullible, without moral direction and inclined to evil. NIV

One of the things I like about science is that the more we know, the more the Bible makes sense. For instance, when Darwin made his case concerning Evolution, the idea in 1843 was that the human cell was a dark blob of matter. Since then, we know that cells are complex critters that require 23 main parts to interact at one time in order for the cell to live and work and grow. Inside those main parts are many other parts, such as DNA, which is made up of billions of bits of information, and RNA, the part of DNA that builds cells. The question is, which came first: The cell or RNA/DNA? We can’t have one without the other. Hence, Irreducible Complexity.

One Saturday last year, I got a set of pocket guides from Answers in Genesis at a conference. One of them was, A Pocket Guide to the Human Body. It is amazing! We will be spending the next several posts walking through some of the information in this guide. Today, we BEGIN a look at the brain.

The brain has some autonomic (automatic) functions that run the body, but it is adaptable in each of the areas of its control. It is how we learn. Here is a quote from the book on how the brain is laid out.

The neurons that control our senses and motor skills are arranged into an orderly map in the brain, called a homunculus (see pic).

For example, the neurons responsible for touch are laid out in a three-dimensional sequence in the brain, known as a spatial trajectory. If two parts of the body, such as the thumb and index finger, are located next to each other physically, they also have corresponding neurons that are next to each other in the brain. So when scientists attempt to map the sensory neurons in the brain, they find neurons that respond to stimulation of the thumb next to neurons that respond to stimulation of the index finger and so on. The same holds true for neurons that control muscle movement.
Although the neurons in the brain mirror the arrangement of the body parts, they do not mirror the relative size of the body parts. For example, while our arms and legs are much larger than our thumb and lips, they occupy much less space in our brain. The fingers need more space because they require so many more neurons to control fine motor skills and delicate sensations.

So, the more we practice, say, the piano or baseball, the more adapted to the movements used we become. Pretty neat, huh?

Computers are based upon how a brain works–although I’m not sure that computers were designed to work like brains–and they both have a limited amount of space. Information = neurons = space. We have a limited capacity based upon the number of neurons in our brains. Tomorrow, we will look at how the brain decides what to keep and what to remove–all without us being aware it’s going on!

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

If we can trust God to build our bodies to function,
we can trust Him with our daily decisions, too.

Abba, may You teach us to trust You in all things. Discovering the amazing construction of our bodies teaches us how to trust You with our daily lives. May we love You all the more for being such a Master Designer and Creator–our Creator. Amen.

Proverbs 31 7-31-22

Memories from this day 40 years ago…

10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

Robin and I were married 40 years ago today. Thank you for taking the time to relive that day with me.

  • Robin and I were between our Sophomore and Junior years at OBU. We were penniless, but rich in love. We knew many of our school friends would come, so we had everything on one day.
  • We met at FBC, Ardmore, for our wedding rehearsal that morning rather than the night before. Most of us were from somewhere in Oklahoma, so it was convenient for all to drive there that morning.
  • After our rehearsal, we had our rehearsal dinner downstairs in the fellowship hall.
  • For the afternoon, we guys rented a hotel room and spent the day playing in the hotel pool and just hanging out. Robin and her girlfriends were (I think) at her parents’ house.
  • We met back at church; Dale Griffin, my Best Man, and I played impromptu piano duets in the choir room until time for us to take our place outside the entry to the auditorium. Fun times!
  • I watched from the door window until I saw Robin in the back ready to come down the aisle (we were about 15 minutes late because of the people who were waiting to sign the book; I think we had it downstairs at the reception for folks to have another opportunity to sign it).
  • When the music started, I shot out of that door with Dale on my heels! I met Herb and Robin at the front pew.
  • As we progressed through the ceremony, Robin and I had a kneeling bench. The guys had threatened to paint “Help Me” on the bottom of my shoes–and I had forgotten to check! I mentioned it to Robin and we had a good laugh together.
At the kneeling bench…
  • The next thing to happen was Dr. Hopper saying, “And now, Kelly and Janet…” I turned to Robin and said, “Janet?” Was I marrying her mother? We had a good laugh about that later.
  • Since we borrowed Mom’s car, the guys were tasteful in their decoration of it.
  • My Music/Youth Pastor, Norman Gooding, allowed us to use their lake house for our honeymoon. In the picture below, Norman was the one at which I was winking.
Norman was just out of the camera frame…

Two beautiful children, five churches, and four grandchildren later, Robin and I are more madly in love than ever.

Robin, I love you more than words can say. Happy 40th anniversary, Darling.

Abba, thank You for blessing me with such a wonderful, godly woman. I know that my life and my ministry were and are much more successful because of this wise and patient helpmate You placed in my life. May we continue to grow in You and in love with each other in these coming years. Amen.

Proverbs 30 7-30-22

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is about lost children being reconciled back to their heavenly Father. Is that what you learned?

25:25 Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.

The point of yesterday’s post:

Instead of telling someone to accept Christ and asking Him to come into their heart and life
so that they can go to heaven when they die, let’s put the emphasis on heaven coming to them!
Why? So that He can fellowship with them even as He leads us through this world to His world.
We can’t make it without Him–that’s the point!
Having them focus on a future heaven puts the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-A-ble.

Today, we will look at what happens when a person “accepts Christ,” but never follows Him. Let’s look at the Parable of the Two Sons from Matthew 21,

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.

Jesus told them that they were correct, in a manner of speaking. We should think long and hard about this passage when quoting a simple prayer for people to pray in order to be saved. Jesus wasn’t about promises; He was about obedience. It’s the only way to make it through this world without being caught in a web of deceit, trapped in a snare, or self-destructing because of a lie or a feeling. Jesus is the ONLY One who can get us through to the other side of life with minimal scarring and damage. We’re not talking physical here, but spiritual, relational, and emotional. It is our souls He wants to save; He will replace these physical bodies with much better versions.

There are two reasons that I see for Him wanting our obedience:

  1. To keep us from destruction (we just talked about that);
  2. To be His hands and feet on this earth. We are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20).

A person who prays a prayer but has no intention of following Jesus will self-destruct. He also is useless concerning–and even harmful to–the Good News of Jesus Christ. To put it bluntly, they give real followers of Jesus a bad name, they clog our churches, and sometimes hold places of leadership in our churches, which causes all kinds of problems. Like I said, let’s put the emphasis on heaven coming to them in the form of the Holy Spirit. He wants to bring healing and peace to our souls; He wants sweet and intimate fellowship with us, and He wants to walk us through life to His life while we share His Good News along the way.

Let’s be about sharing THIS Good News.

Abba, I feel like I am just now getting a firm grasp on what to share with people concerning You and Your Gospel. For decades, I have been leading people to pray a simple prayer to be saved; fortunately, I have poured into most of those people the importance of establishing a close relationship with You. Now, when I share, it’s less about heaven and more about You. It’s less about a certain prayer and more about a conversation with You that goes on forever. It’s less about a one-time event and more about a daily walk. May You give me plenty of opportunities to share this Good News with people. Amen.

Proverbs 29 7-29-22

We talk about the kingdom of God as if it were heaven–but, is it?

7 The righteous care about justice [righteousness and mercy] for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

If the kingdom of God is heaven, then Jesus would not have referred to it as “here and now.” Matthew refers to the Kingdom of God as the kingdom of heaven. Most scholars believe that it is because the Jews revered the name, “God,” or “Yahweh,” and would not speak it. In order to reach his audience (fellow Jews), he modified the term to make it palatable. Mark and Luke quoted Jesus in the same passages saying the kingdom of God, such as this one,

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 3:1-2 as opposed to,

15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15

Matthew also uses the term, kingdom of God, interchangeably in his Gospel, poignant passages such as,

28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Matthew 12:28

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24

43 “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

How shall we define the kingdom of heaven/God? As the place where God dwells. Jesus is Emmanuel, which means, “God with us.” Wherever Jesus stepped, that was heaven, the kingdom of God. Jesus lives in our hearts, therefore, the kingdom of God is within us.

Here’s the point: Instead of telling someone to accept Christ and asking Him to come into their heart and life so that they can go to heaven when they die, let’s put the emphasis on heaven coming to them! Why? So that He can fellowship with them even as He leads us through this world to His world. We can’t make it without Him–that’s the point! Having them focus on a future heaven puts the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-A-ble.

Tomorrow, we will look at what happens when a person “accepts Christ,” but never follows Him.

Abba, thank You for not making me wait for heaven. I have You in my heart and life, and Your love, joy and peace are available to me all the time. I’ve heard it described as a waterfall from Your throne in which I can walk every time I turn to You. Teach me to turn to You more and more each day. Amen.

Proverbs 28 7-28-22

Been at WACK (Worship Arts Camp for Kids) Monday-Wednesday teaching 3-6th graders to worship the Lord.

29:17 Discipline [teach, instruct and train] you children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.

We had our presentation last evening. The kids (and adult helpers) crammed nine weeks’ worth of rehearsals into three days and the presentation on top of that. They did great! If you’re interested, go to Quail Springs Baptist Church’s website and watch it. My part was the STOMP routine three songs in. We did a drumline with buckets. Pretty unique if I do say so myself. Here’s the link, QSBC

All that to say, I’m tired. 16K, 18K, and 19K steps respectively. All the glory belongs to Jesus. All the praise belongs to Him. Amen.

Proverbs 27 7-27-22

The Bible is not just a static book. It holds the truth of the Gospel in it. Life is wrapped up in its very words.

12 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

Scripture is inspired in that it is infused with the Person of the Holy Spirit. When we read Scripture, we encounter the Holy Spirit in a very personal way–if we are looking for Him. It’s not that He hides from us, but that we are initially spiritually blind, deaf and dumb,

17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Revelation 3:17

17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? Mark 8:17-18

13 This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
    though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’
Matthew 13:13-15

It’s verse 15 that gives us the reason for their blindness and deafness: Their hearts had become calloused to spiritual things. They couldn’t hear His voice because they didn’t want to hear Him. But, Jesus calls us to Him, and when we answer Him, He heals us! In this life, we may rarely hear His voice audibly, but when we acknowledge this fact and quit looking for it, we will begin to look for Him in the Scriptures. and guess what? There He is! We CAN see Him and hear Him and understand Him,

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. Matthew 13:16

13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:13-14

So, when we read in the Gospels, “I am…,” we know that He is speaking to us even as He was speaking to those in His audience that day. “I am the Bread of Life,” “I am the Good Shepherd,” “Before Abraham was born, I AM,” I am humble and gentle,” “I am willing,” “I am from above,” “I am not of this world,” “I am the Gate,” “I am the resurrection and the life,” “I am the true vine,” “I am He (Jesus of Nazareth),” “I am ascending to My Father,” “I am sending you.”

Abba, help us hear Your voice in Your Word. You had it recorded for us so that we would know the truth, and Your truth sets us free. May we take full advantage of this wonderful resource called the Bible. Amen.

Proverbs 26 7-26-22

Does this world have you down? Do you need a higher perspective? Keep reading!

27:9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.

Colossians 1:27 teaches us that Christ is in us and speaks of the mystery of this truth. Verses 28-29 speak of His power at work within us as we serve our Lord . Another favorite passage of mine in Colossians is 3:1-4,

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Our goal on this earth is to give up this earth, its pleasantries, and its seeming permanence for what Christ holds in store for us. Another correlating passage is 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” By focusing on what is to come, we can keep ourselves–or better, Christ keeps us–from buying the lies that this world offers concerning health, wealth, and the pursuit of happiness.

The phrasing of “dead in our sins” and “made alive in Christ” (2:13) has always intrigued me, especially now that we have “died, and our life is now hidden with Christ in God (v.4).” We can only assume that these phrases are metaphorical in nature and are being used for us to be able to grasp on a human level the intensity and grand scope of what Christ has done for us. I have no problem with this sort of thinking because I am fully aware that what Christ did for us on a spiritual level is far above anything that I can get my mind around this side of heaven. Even there, I suspect that we will delve the depths of His love for us for eternity.

The passage ends with a promise: We will appear with Him in glory. This promise goes back to Jesus’ desire expressed in His priestly prayer in John 17:24,

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

My highest goal is to be with Him in His glory. Until then, He walks with us daily, but the Spirit inside us is merely our deposit, our guarantee of a new and better future,

21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Cor. 1:21

Let us give thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for so great a salvation and future!

Abba, I thank You for such specific plans You have laid out for us–without explaining in detail. I trust Your Word on the matter, that my eyes have not seen nor my ear heard, nor has it entered into my heart what You have prepared for me because I love You (1 Corinthians 2:9). I love You, Lord. I’m ready when You are. Amen.

Proverbs 25 7-25-22

For what or whom are you living? I pray You find in Jesus the greatest Cause there is. I did. Still do.

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of [the King’s kids].

Yesterday, we looked at Colossians 1:27, which said,

27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

The habitation of God inside of us is, indeed, a mystery, yet it is true! Jesus is life, and He lives in us, therefore we have eternal life because we have Him inside us.

The next two verses are special to me. I read them as a college student and put them under my name anytime I signed an autograph–which may need some explaining. I was in a home-grown group called, Matthew, and we traveled around Oklahoma, Texas, and a few other states singing and playing original songs for churches. Our songs were decidedly Christian, but we got to play a beauty pageant once! As small-time as we were, people still wanted our autograph, so I would sign my name and then put “Colossians 1:28-29” under it,

28 We proclaim Him, teaching and admonishing everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously labor with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

I was and is my life verse for ministry. It speaks of my calling to proclaim Jesus, and it reminds me that it is not I, but Christ in me who gets all the credit. How can I take credit when He is the One who gives me first the desire and then the power to do His will (Philippians 2:13)? Not only that, I have been crucified with Christ and He now lives in and through me (Galatians 2:20). My life is now hidden in Christ until the Day He appears, and we appear with Him (Colossians 3:3-4).

All the glory belongs to Jesus
(it’s a little shmaltzy, but a great song)

Abba, You are my Beginning and my End. May I finish strong–not in my own strength, but in Yours, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 24 7-24-22

The concept of God living in us is mind-blowing. How could He do such a thing? WHY would He do such a thing?

8 By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; 4 through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

God loves His children. He created us to love Him. But, in order for us to freely love Him, He gave us free will. Mankind was led astray, but God pursued us. He even came to earth as a human in order to win us back. More than that, He has made a way for Him to fellowship with us permanently!

One of my favorite verses is Colossians 1:27, which says,

27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

There are four parts to this verse. Let’s look at them.

  1. The Gentiles were now included in the family of God. This was big news–a joy to the Gentiles, but a bitter pill for many Israelis. The leadership had spent centuries keeping themselves apart from the Gentile nations even though their original mission was to proselytize them (Deuteronomy 4:5-8). God was getting back to His original plan.
  2. This mystery was hidden from everyone except a few (the prophets). Why? For the same reason that Jesus kept it from His disciples and the rest of Israel. He had a mission to complete and He couldn’t do it if they knew His motive. Jesus demonstrated God’s (His) love for us by dying on the cross–and then rising again. It is through His resurrection that we have new life!
  3. Christ in us–this is the clincher. The concept of God living in us, forgiving us, guiding us, and equipping us is mind-blowing!
  4. The hope of glory–We walk with Jesus until the day we die. On that day, our hope of eternal life with Him is realized. Hear it from Jesus, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world” (John 17:24). This promise is ours, and to all who trust Jesus with their lives.

Since I am not a Jew, this verse is very good news for me. Tomorrow, we will look at the next two verses. They, too, are very special to me.

Abba, thank You for such a wonderful verse that reveals our part in Your glorious mystery, the mystery of salvation for everyone. May we share it gladly every chance we get. Amen.

Proverbs 23 7-23-22

This world is full of quicksand, tar pits and landmines. Only Jesus can see us through to the other side!

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear [reverence] of the LORD. 18 There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

Quicksand: Ground that looks solid, but is not. We are not able to discern spiritual things without the aid of the Holy Spirit.

Tar pits: Sin is like a tar pit that looks appealing. In this world, tar is made to look attractive. The problem with tar is that it doesn’t come off without a powerful detergent. Aren’t we glad that Jesus washes us of all “tar” that we get into?

Landmines: These are set by the enemy and then left for us to trigger. For a great story and a graphic mental picture of minefields and God’s wondrous grace, watch Miracle at Golan Heights.

Many people today think that evil, Satan, and demons, i.e. the enemy, are a state of mind, as in the dark side of humanity. I don’t think so. Jesus had a lot to say about Satan, demons and evil spirits. C.S. Lewis, in his book, “The Screwtape Letters,” said that convincing humans that they (demonic forces) don’t exist is a primary tool in their toolbox. This website lists all the verses concerning demons in the Gospels, Did Jesus Believe in Demons. But, why dwell on the subject?

I look at it like this: I once was susceptible to their influence. But, Jesus opened my eyes. He came to live in me. Now, the only susceptibility I have to their influence is what I give them. My determined purpose is to NOT give these influences ANYTHING to work with. I study the Scriptures daily to fortify myself against their influence and to be able to spot the quicksand, tar pits and landmines when I come to them. In fact, I find that the more I spend in prayer with the Lord and pondering His Word, the less I think (or worry) about them at all! I am so caught up in what the Savior has to say and what He has me doing that I do not fear them or their ploys. Spiritually, I am protected; Jesus is in charge of keeping me safe. But, “it’s the little foxes that destroy the vine” that I am concerned with. My aim each day is to stay immersed in His Presence as I walk through the day.

1 Peter 5 speaks of this subject,

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devourResist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Being aware of an enemy is half the battle. The other half is simply a matter of turning away from him and his temptations to the Father, through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we do, we receive His love, joy and peace that flow from Him to us. It’s like standing under a waterfall!

Today, rather than focusing on the enemy, let’s focus on Christ as we enjoy the satisfying fellowship of the Spirit.

Abba, walking with You is like the day becoming ever brighter as noon approaches. The more I learn, the more I adore You. “These light and momentary troubles” do not keep me from coming to You; rather, they propel me toward You! Your presence is all I seek. Keep me on-task, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 22 7-22-22

Coming to know Jesus personally is the entire point to the Gospel. He’s forgiven us, but there’s more to it than that.

3 The prudent see danger and take refuge [in Jesus], but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

We left off yesterday with the question of what is the entire point to knowing Jesus. The answer is quite simple if we stop and think about it:

  • What kind of world do we live in?
  • What condition were we in when we came to Christ?
  • What has changed about our relationship with Him?
  • What has changed about our circumstances?

Although we have been forgiven, we still live in a sin-sick world. Our circumstances didn’t change by coming to Christ. So, is the promise of heaven all we really have to fall back on spiritually? Enter the Holy Spirit–literally. The Spirit of Christ has come to live in us. He is our Guarantor, our Comforter, our Advocate, and our Guide. He IS Jesus! Jesus came to clear the way for Him to live in each of us. If life is a minefield, He knows where all the mines are and can help us through the minefield of life. We can be sure that we will incur serious damage without Him as our Guide.

Asaph wrote about this relationship in Psalm 73. Let’s look:

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.

Although Asaph (one of King David’s lead musicians) lived around a thousand years before Christ, he had a pretty good handle on the relationship that we currently have with the Lord:

  • He is always with us;
  • He holds us by our right (dominant) hand;
  • He guides us with the counsel of His Spirit;
  • We have His promise of eternity with Him in His kingdom;
  • Our desires have changed to the point that nothing comes between us and Jesus;
  • Our flesh fails, and so does our heart;
  • God is the strength of our heart–but our flesh doesn’t have that same guarantee. In fact, we are warned several times in Scripture that we will suffer physically for Christ (2 Corinthians 1:4-5, Philippians 1:29, 2 Timothy 2:3, 1 Peter 2:21, 1 Peter 4:13, 1 Peter 5:10).

The one thing that we are sure of is that unless the Lord comes back, we all will die physically. Until God places all of Christ’s enemies under His feet (Psalm 110:1, Romans 16:20) and Jesus brings everything into unity under Him (Ephesians 1:10), we are destined to leave this world and go to His. In the meantime, He promises to walk with us the entire way, and when we get to the end of this life, He will walk with us into His eternal life. He is with us all the way!

It is this good news that we need to be sharing with those around us:

  1. God loves them very much.
  2. Jesus is God in the flesh and loves them very much.
  3. Jesus came to erase our sin and guilt and to walk with us through this life.
  4. He will walk us right into His world when this life is done.
  5. In the meantime, He gives us His love, joy and peace as signs of His Presence in our lives. We have His invitation to come to Him anytime and all the time for mercy and grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
  6. Through Christ, with Christ (His Spirit in us), we have victory over this world, its demons, its temptations, and its way of thinking. From now on, we have the mind of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:16).

Abba, what wonderful good news! As You reveal this good news in us, may we share it with those around us. Yes, we get to go to heaven when we die, but it’s more than that; it’s better than that. You want a personal and ongoing relationship with us RIGHT NOW! May we take advantage of such a great salvation. Amen.

Proverbs 21 7-21-22

It’s my life and I can choose to live it any way I want. I choose to live it as Christ Jesus leads me. He is life!

1 A king’s heart is channeled water in the hand of the Lord;
    God directs it where he pleases.

The concept of human free will is mind-boggling. How does God guide history and not disregard man’s free will? Well, it helps to know the end at the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), which is a God-trait. I know that He uses angels to intervene, protect, and deliver messages to His children (Hebrews 1:14). Why doesn’t God simply control mankind? Because without free will, mankind would be like the animals of God’s creation. The “divine spark” in each of us is our ability to choose.

Jesus gave everyone a choice concerning Him. Here are three notable ones:

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Luke 57-62

Notice that each person was treated individually and each was left to make his own decision about following Jesus. The same choice was given to the rich, young ruler in Mark 10:17-22, and the disciples when Jesus called them (Luke 5:1-11, John 1:43-51). Even the book of Revelation ends with an invitation for all to join Jesus,

17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. Revelation 22:17

“The one” means, “whoever,” as is used in John 7:37-38. The choice is there for all to make. Jesus desires to include us in His plan to reach the nations; at the same time, He makes up for any deficiencies we have in our ability to present the Gospel. All that being said, it still all boils down to the individual decision of the prospective follower. We must allow them to respond to the Spirit’s call. Without them coming to know Jesus, they miss the entire point. What IS the point? We will discuss that tomorrow.

Abba, thank You for allowing me free will, but I thank You even more for saving me from myself. If/when I have a question about anything, I can turn to You and receive Your opinion. I trust Your opinion. Your insight is always trustworthy. May my life be a reflection of Your trustworthiness. Amen.

Proverbs 20 7-20-22

Jesus came to reveal God to us. When we see Jesus, we see God. Where do we see Jesus? In the Gospels.

24 A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way? It’s a matter of choice. When we need to understand in order to make a choice, then we act on our own understanding, but when we trust the LORD and His wisdom, then we gain understanding as we go.

On the 18th, we finished up a study of Romans 12:9-21 in which we saw the heart of God displayed in practical form. We learned:

  • Our love must be sincere;
  • Hate evil and cling to what is good;
  • Love others above ourselves;
  • “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”;
  • Practice hospitality and share with our fellow brothers and sisters in need;
  • Bless those persecute us;
  • “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn”;
  • Live in harmony with others and associate with all positions;
  • Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but do what is right;
  • Do not take revenge–on the contrary, feed our enemy and give him drink;
  • “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Each of these commands indicates a loving God who is more concerned with saving lost and wayward children than with doling out punishment. In the NIV, verse 19 says, “leave room for God’s wrath.” I looked up the word, “wrath,” and it had this meaning: “‘orge’ – Indignation, a swelling of settled indignation, passionate feelings against something or someone.” After reviewing the heart of God, I believe that this “wrath” is against sin and against Satan. Jesus said,

31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:33-34m

Here is the REAL enemy to mankind: Sin and Satan. Jesus did, indeed, die for our sins in order to have us back. He did not treat us as our sins deserved, but gave us mercy, instead. Jesus forgave us!

If we want to know the heart of our good God, we will feed and give drink to whoever we consider to be our enemy. We will forget about fairness and justice, and leave them in God’s hands. When we do what He prompts us to do, we will overcome evil with good. He is all about restoration, both ours and the world’s.

Abba, thank You for restoring me to a place of sonship in Your family, along with all Your children. I know that You want everyone to receive Your gift of adoption; may we help people to realize such a great gift! Amen.

Proverbs 19 7-19-22

Take heart: Our sins are forgiven. Now is the time to take full advantage of having God as our heavenly Father.

23 The [healthy] fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched [unfazed] by trouble.

The question came up the other day about when unrighteous thoughts become sin. Let’s look at the process:

  1. We see something on TV that causes a lustful thought, or we see something that a friend just bought that we would like to have. Have we sinned, yet? No.
  2. Feelings come with that thought and we are tempted to dwell on what we have seen, or we are tempted to dwell on getting what our friend has. Have we sinned, yet? No.
  3. We have a choice: We can either pursue the temptation and enter into sin or we can take that thought captive to the throne of grace. At this point, I would like to interject two Scripture passages. The first one is 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, 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 strongholds. We 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. The second Scripture is Hebrews 4:16, Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
  4. Making the thought obedient to Christ means that we ask Him what we are to do with it. The first thing He will ask us to do is to turn our thoughts to Him in praise. The second thing is to pray for the person that we saw or the friend who bought what we want. The third thing is to consider boundaries with Him about how this situation might be avoided in the future.

Being in the presence of the Lord is wonderful because love, joy and peace flow from Him like a waterfall. We sense His love, feel His joy, and experience His peace. It is habit-forming, which is the idea! We get into the habit of running to the Father. After a while, Satan gets tired of “sending” us to the throne of grace. Many times, we have victory over strongholds. Other times, we fight them all the way to grave. THEN we have final victory.

54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable,
and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 
57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, 
because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:54-58

Abba, as long as we have flesh bodies, we will be tempted. Thank You that You have provided a way of escape from each circumstance (1 Corinthians 10:13). Each time we run to Your throne, we enjoy Your presence and receive love, joy and peace. You provide us with mercy for our failures and give us grace for what we need. From now on, we will view all temptation–and even failure–as an exercise of our faith. Grow us, Lord Jesus. We want to be just like You. Amen.

Proverbs 18 7-18-22

Just being different is not enough. We need to be the right kind of different. Jesus-different.

24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Over the past two days, we have discussed Romans 12:9-13 and 14-18. Today, we finish with 19-21. The Jesus Way is different than the world’s way. The world would have us love our friends and hate our enemies; it would have us seek revenge upon those who hurt us or our loved ones. The Jesus Way is different. The Father wants to shower mercy and grace down upon every living soul regardless of what he or she has done. Humanly, we cannot conceive such grace, much less give it. Jesus gives us His power via His presence to think as the Father does, which, by the way, is exactly how Jesus thinks, and His power to do His will. Let’s read Jesus’ words again,

44 But I tell you: love your enemies! Pray for people who persecute you! 45 That way, you’ll be children of your father in heaven! After all, he makes his sun rise on bad and good alike, and sends rain both on the upright and on the unjust.

Now, let’s read Romans 12:19-21,

19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Paul quotes two OT Scriptures. The first is Deuteronomy 32:35,

35 It is mine to avenge; I will repay.
    In due time their foot will slip;
their day of disaster is near
    and their doom rushes upon them.”

Vengeance is the human way of saying that what a person reaps, he sows (Galatians 6:7). Notice the passive wording: “in due time their foot will slip,” which implies that the trail they are on will ultimately fail them and cause them to stumble and fall.

The other Scripture is Proverbs 25:21-22,

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
    if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
    and the Lord will reward you.

This verse was written around 1,000 years before Christ. Even then, people had glimpses into the true character of God, as is revealed in Jesus’ teaching on loving our enemies. If we want to be like the Father, be like Jesus. Jesus Christ came to show us the Father as He truly is.

The part about leaving room for God’s wrath is about leaving them to the consequences of their actions and how the Lord deals with them through those consequences. Our job is to “over-underreact” (borrowed from Andy Stanley). Do we trust Jesus to take care of us until we die, and then to take us to be with Him? Then our goal should be to honor Him and to give Him the greatest amount of glory our circumstances can create. How do we overcome evil? With good. Even if it kills us. It may be that through our death someone hears the voice of Jesus and responds to His love, mercy and grace. Is that not worth dying for?

Abba, may my life and my death bring glory and honor to You. Amen.

Proverbs 17 7-17-22

Loving people the Jesus Way can be tough. We won’t feel like it at the time, which is why we practice, practice, practice.

3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests [teaches, and purifies] the heart.

Yesterday, we began a study of Romans 12:9-21 and covered verses 9-13. Today, we will look at 14-18. In these verses, Paul said the same thing three different ways,

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

The three ways:

  1. Bless those who persecute you.
  2. Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
  3. Live at peace with everyone.

These three commands describe how we are to love our enemy. Jesus’ command to do so has a promise with it:

44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:44-45

The promise is that we will be like our heavenly Father. More than that, we will be His children! What it boils down to is this:

  • IF we believe that God is the Father of all mankind, and
  • IF He loves everyone and can use any circumstance to demonstrate His love to lost souls, and
  • IF we give ourselves over to Him to be His witnesses to a lost world no matter what,
  • THEN we are doing what Jesus said to do, which is to love our enemies.

Jesus told His disciples, ‘If anyone loves me,’ Jesus replied, ‘they will keep my word. My father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23). When it comes to doing His will, He Himself comes as God the Spirit (of Jesus) to empower us and to guide us as we go. When that happens, we enter into a special relationship in which Jesus tells us to call Him, “Abba,” which is “Daddy” in Aramaic.

Tomorrow, we will deal with revenge and its opposite approach.

Abba, You are so gracious and kind. I want to reflect Your attributes. Please shine through me to others. Whatever circumstances I am in, may I be a true and faithful witness for You, with You. Amen.

Proverbs 16 7-16-22

Being like God sounds hard; in fact, it’s impossible–apart from Him. His Spirit is our Strengthener and Guide.

3 Commit your way to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans [show you what to do].

Romans 12:9-21 is a list of do’s and don’ts, but in a good way. They have to do with the character of God. In Matthew 5:48, we read,

48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

In context, Jesus was talking about loving our enemy. That “perfection” was about interacting with others. The Romans passage describes just how to do that. Today, we will deal with the first four verses,

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

How does this passage apply to our 21st century world?

  1. Be sincere. If you’re going to hate something, hate the evil that has caused the situation. Instead, cling to that good part of a person that Jesus is trying to reach.
  2. Devoted- zealous or ardent in attachment, loyalty, or affection; faithful, constant, loyal, devout. Our love must be such that we are these things to each other. The only way to do that is to “regard everybody else as your superior (NTE).” If THAT’S not counter-cultural, I don’t know what is!
  3. Want to be like Jesus? Keep your compassion and zeal to do God’s will on high all the time. “Fervor” means, great warmth and earnestness of feeling; passion. Only in the Spirit can we maintain such passion in our service to the Lord.
  4. Our hope is in the resurrection, first of Christ, and second of ourselves. In this hope, we can be joyful even in the face of death and all its subsets. Our joy helps us be patient in affliction, and it’s all wrapped up in our relationship with Jesus Christ. We call out to Him even as He reaches out to us.
  5. Because we are destined to go to His place, we have no need to accumulate and hoard earthly goods. To share hospitably means to share hilariously (with great cheerfulness; see 2 Corinthians 9:7).

Can you see Jesus in this passage? It describes Him at the well, on the road from Tyre, at Zacchaeus’ house, and in every town He came to. He wants us to be just like Him.

Tomorrow, we will look at a few more of the verses.

Abba, it’s hard to be like You when things are hard because I don’t feel like being like You at that time. Help me to look beyond my feelings to the inner power we have as Your children. As I grow and learn about You, I know that you strengthen me with all power according to Your glorious might so that I may have great endurance and patience, giving joyful thanks to You, my Father (taken from Colossians 1:9-13). Have Your way in me, I beg of You. Amen.

Proverbs 15 7-15-22

The “magic” is in the relationship. When Jesus comes to live in us, we get His righteousness, His “cleanness.”

29 The LORD is far from the wicked [actually, they are turned away from Him and have blinders on], but He hears the prayer of the righteous [those who trust in the righteousness of Christ].

Never let sin keep you from coming to Jesus.
It never stopped Him from coming to us.

The idea of God not being able to look on sin is misleading. Was not Jesus God in the flesh? Did not God look on Adam and Eve–He even went looking for them! That concept is based upon the reading of the first half of a verse. It goes like this:

“Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. (first half)
So, why do You…?” (second half)
Habakkuk 1:13

We cannot take the first half of the verse without taking the second half with it. In fact, the second half defines the first half. “It is true that God cannot look upon sin with approval and without action. In the case of Habakkuk, it was the Chaldeans (Babylonians).”* Even then, it was not God who instigated the invasion, but the flirting of Judah with the Babylonians (see 2 Kings 20:12-17; the prophecy did not cause the invasion, but foresaw it).

Sin has no power over God. But, it does have power over His children, which is why He came to earth as Jesus to put an end to sin (Daniel 9:24). This quote explains it well:

“…sin cannot be in the presence of God because whenever God draws near to sin, the raging inferno of His love and holiness washes all sin away. God can no more be tainted by sin than the ocean could be dyed red with a single drop of food coloring.
This is why God takes all sin upon Himself in Jesus and in the Old Testament.
Sin crushes, enslaves, and destroys humanity, but it vanishes away into nothingness at the smallest touch of God’s blazing holiness.”

This is, indeed, GOOD NEWS! It is why when Jesus comes to abide in us, we get His righteousness, His “cleanness.” Sin literally melts away in His presence. You may ask, “Then, why do we still sin after Christ comes to dwell in us?” Because we do not believe that He really abides in us. We think that we can turn around in our minds and He won’t see us (little children do this all the time). We ARE little children to God! When we realize and acknowledge that Jesus is with us 24/7, encouraging us, admonishing us, and cheering us on, then we will be done with sin. Until then, He continues to guide us, train us, and bear with us even as He asks us to do with others.

Abba, thank You for not giving up on us. When the blinders are removed from our eyes and we see what we’ve done, but also what You did for us (showed us that even killing You would not end Your love for us), we praise You with our entire being. We shout and bow and weep and sing; we fellowship with You and with each other in You; we show/tell others about how great a God You are! Amen.

*Jeremy Myer – Redeeming God website

Proverbs 14 7-14-22

Why didn’t Pilate arrest Jesus when He first rode into Jerusalem? Good question…

2 He whose walk is upright fears the LORD, but he whose ways are devious despises him.

Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey probably on the first day of the week (Sunday). He spent Monday and Tuesday (and possibly Wednesday and Thursday) teaching in the temple court, probably Solomon’s colonnade, which was a covered, stepped area popular to rabbis. The Roman guard was never mentioned until the night of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest. Why not? Wasn’t He claiming to be Israel’s king?

Had Jesus come riding in on a white stallion, which was the symbol of a conquering king, King Herod would have taken immediate action, as would have Pilate. Instead, the first we hear of them is when the religious leaders present Jesus to them. Here is the conversation between Pilate and Jesus:

John 18:33-38 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

“What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.

Did you catch what Jesus said? His kingdom was not political. It isn’t even of this world. There was no political reason to execute Jesus, which is why Pilate tried to release Him. We would do well to look to the advancement of Jesus’s Kingdom. How do we do that in today’s political climate? By releasing the Holy Spirit to work in people’s lives regardless of what happens politically. Instead of trying to make Christianity cultural, let’s pray for opportunities to share Jesus and how to be part of His Kingdom.

Abba, have we lost sight of Your Kingdom on this earth? Remembering that it is a spiritual one and not a political one is difficult. May You give us discernment and wisdom, O God. We are trusting You no whatever happens. Amen.