Proverbs 8 12-8-19

December 8, 2019

It’s easy to tell if we are one of God’s children: He tells us so. His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are His children.

14 Good advice is mine, and common sense; I am insight, power is mine.
15 By me kings reign, and princes make just laws. 16 By me princes govern,
nobles too, and all the earth’s rulers. 17 I love those who love me;
and those who seek me will find me.

Paul shares some amazing things in Romans 8 about our relationship with God through Christ. The Spirit of Christ comes to live in our hearts (see v.9) when we believe that Jesus says who He says He is and did what He said He’d do, and when we trust in Him by placing our faith in Him as our Savior and as our LORD. This process is covered in 10:9-10,

If you declare [publicly] with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe [trust] in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved [delivered]. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe [trust] and are justified [continue toward righteousness], and it is with your mouth that you [publicly] profess your faith and are saved [delivered].

It’s all about the relationship. The problem we have is getting beyond our own self-centeredness. If we can grasp what Paul is saying, we will be able to let go of the things we like and think we need in this world in exchange for what Christ has for us both in this world and in the next. WE HAVE THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST LIVING IN US! Here’s what He has done for us:

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

God didn’t promise an easy life on this earth, but He did promise an extraordinary one by living for Him rather than for ourselves. As children of God, let us long for His country and His Presence. In the meantime, let us enjoy Him as we meet together and praise His name, study His Word, and fellowship in the Spirit. Let’s have CHURCH!

Abba, as we meet today in our respective churches, may we grasp the fact that we are all joined together in You through Your Spirit. May we join those who are already around the throne worshiping You. We are ALL ONE FAMILY! Wow!!! Thank You for including me in Your family, LORD. May I honor You with my life today–and forever. Amen.

Proverbs 7 12-7-19

December 7, 2019

Our way of thinking has gotten us into more trouble than we know! It’s time to let Him guide our thoughts and ways.

25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. 26 Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng.

All sin comes from faulty thinking. Check out Eve’s story in Genesis 3 or Cain’s story in Genesis 4. We need to make sure that we are thinking correctly about God and about righteous living, which means that we need to think correctly about sin. There’s only one Source from which we can get an absolutely right perspective, and that is from God. It’s not hard; it just depends on how much it means to you to get it, because once we get it, we are obligated to live by it!

Paul makes it plenty plain in Romans 8:

But you, you do not identify with your old nature but with the Spirit — provided the Spirit of God is living inside you, for anyone who doesn’t have the Spirit of the Messiah doesn’t belong to him [BEST Trinity verse]. 10 However, if the Messiah is in you, then, on the one hand, the body is dead because of sin [our status]; but, on the other hand, the Spirit is giving life because God considers you righteous [our status]. 11 And if the Spirit of the One who raised Yeshua [Jesus] from the dead is living in you, then the One who raised the Messiah Yeshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you. 12 So then, brothers, we don’t owe a thing to our old nature that would require us to live according to our old nature13 For if you live according to your old nature, you will certainly die; but if, by the Spirit, you keep putting to death the practices of the body, you will live

It makes sense, then, to find out as much as we can about the Spirit-life. Spiritual matters should interest us more and more as worldly matters should fade into the background. What matters are we talking about? That’s for you and the Holy Spirit to determine. It’s one of the things that we get to do with Him. It’s during times like those that His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are His children (that’s from Romans 8:16).

Try reading or listening to people’s testimonies about how they came to Christ. It’s very uplifting. One of the things I like to do is go to IMETMESSIAH.COM on YouTube. It’s about Jews who have come to believe in Yeshua Messiah (Jesus). Truly inspiring. Another good book is Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Andrew, a 16th Century monk. Ask the LORD and He will lead you to just the right resource at just the right time in your life. He’s good at that.

Let us not grow weary of doing good. Galatians 6:9. Instead, let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23.

“Change the way you think, and you’ll change the way you feel.” Beth Moore

Abba, I pray that my brothers and sisters in Christ would “catch the bug” of learning about other people’s conversions and what You have taught them. May they gain all kinds of insights and tips for righteous living. May we identify with them in their sufferings and learn to love You with all our hearts. Lead us, LORD, in our daily walk. We are following and listening and obeying. Amen.

Proverbs 6 12-6-19

December 6, 2019

Why do we do the things we do? It’s important for us to understand our motivation. Who are we trying to please: Ourselves or Christ?

3 So do this, my son [child], to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:

9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard?

12 A trouble maker and a villain, who goes about…

16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to Him:

25 Do not lust in your heart after her beauty…

32 But a man [or woman] who commits adultery has no sense…

If we are motivated by our natural desires, desires of the flesh, then we act according to the natural man [person]. It is what it is: Only Natural. But, those of us who have the Spirit of God living in us can move beyond the natural to the supernatural, i.e. the spiritual. We answer to a higher calling and have power available to us through Him to overcome our natural tendencies, and thus to behave like Christ and to become in thought and motivation just like Christ.

Jesus brings out in us all the good things in our personality. Imagine if everyone was kind and compassionate, slow to anger and considerate. What if everyone was quick to forgive and not remember the wrong? Would everyone be the same? Would we all be robots? Hardly! Instead, we would all be at ease with each other and would be free to be ourselves without having to worry about condemnation and ridicule. We wouldn’t have to worry about “landmine” topics, nor about there being sharks in the water (figuratively speaking).

Jesus wants to free us from the bonds of sin and our natural tendencies in order to become the persons we really are. Slavery is inhibiting, to say the least. Why would we want to stay bound to our old nature? Christ has SO MUCH MORE waiting for us! Here’s how it works:

8:1 Therefore, there is no longer any condemnation awaiting those who are in union with the Messiah Yeshua. Why? Because the Torah [Law] of the Spirit, which produces this life in union with Messiah Yeshua, has set me free from the Torah [Law] of sin and death. For what the Torah [Sinai Covenant] could not do by itself, because it lacked the power to make the old nature cooperate, God did by sending his own Son as a human being with a nature like our own sinful one [but without sin]. God did this in order to deal with sin, and in so doing he executed the punishment against sin in human nature, so that the just requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us who do not run our lives according to what our old nature wants but according to what the Spirit wants. Romans 8:1-4 CJB

Knowing that Christ has set us free from our old selves, these next verses take on a new focus:

30 Many people who heard him say these things trusted in him. 31 So Yeshua [Jesus] said to the Judeans who had trusted him, “If you obey what I say, then you are really my talmidim [disciples]32 you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:30-32 CJB

We now know the truth, and that truth is that in Christ we have been set free! Now, let us let that truth set us free from following our sinful natures, and instead, follow Christ.

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 in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NIV

Here it is from the Complete Jewish Bible:

 20 When the Messiah was executed on the stake [cross] as a criminal, I was too; so that my proud ego no longer lives. But the Messiah lives in me, and the life I now live in my body I live by the same trusting faithfulness that the Son of God had, who loved me and gave himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 CJB

Today, may we make it a point to set aside our natural desires and way of thinking to consider His perspective [wisdom] and to do things that please Him, namely, our obedience. It’s all about the relationship, that interaction we have with the Spirit of God.

Abba, thank You for guiding me day by day, minute by minute. I live for our relationship. The stuff I do is a distant second compared with communing with you in sweet fellowship. May I learn what quenches the Spirit (restricts the connection) and avoid it, even overcome it, depending upon how entrenched it is. Keep sanctifying me, Lord. I want to be JUST LIKE YOU. Amen.

Old Man’s Rubble-Imperials 1977

Chorus: Are you living in an old man’s rubble? Are you listenin’ to the father of lies?

If you are then you’re headed for trouble. If you listen too long, you’ll eventually die.

Verse 1: Are you walking’ with unnecessary burdens? Are you trying to take them upon yourself?

If you are then you’re living in bondage, And you know that’s bad for your spiritual health.

Are you trying to live by your emotions? Are you puttin’ your faith in what you feel and see?

Then you’re living just to satisfy your passions And you better be careful, ‘cause you’re being deceived.

Chorus: Are you living in an old man’s rubble? Are you listenin’ to the father of lies?

If you are then you’re headed for trouble. If you listen too long, you’ll eventually die.

Verse 2: Are you puzzled by the way that you’re behavin’? Do you wonder why you do the things you do?

Are you troubled by your lack of resistance; Do you feel that something’s got a hold on you?

Well, deep within’ you there’s a spiritual battle. There’s a voice of the darkness and a voice of the light.

And just by listening you’ve made a decision, ‘Cause the voice you hear is gonna’ win the fight.

Chorus: Are you living in an old man’s rubble? Are you listenin’ to the father of lies?

If you are then you’re headed for trouble. If you listen too long, you’ll eventually die.

Chorus 2: If you’re living as a new creation If you’re listening to the Father of light

Then you’re living in a mighty fortress And you’re gonna’ be clothed in power and might. 

Proverbs 5 12-5-19

December 5, 2019

We have been given a new nature, one that wants to please the Lord. Let’s cultivate this new nature!

My son, pay attention to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding;
so that you will preserve discretion and your lips keep watch over knowledge.

For the lips of a woman who is a stranger [a loose woman–representative of enticement] drip honey, her mouth is smoother than oil;
but in the end she is as bitter as wormwood, sharp as a double-edged sword.

 

God’s words on the Mount Sinai were designed to show us that without Him, we cannot resist evil. Our emotions and our feelings are too strong for us to handle. They always have been. Look at Eve:

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it had a pleasing appearance and that the tree was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her; and he ate. Genesis 3:6

  1. She saw it in a new light, the light of deception. Satan tempted her.
  2. It was pleasing to her–it looked delicious. God designed it to be good, only not to be eaten at this time. The sin was not in the fruit, but in the act of rebellion.
  3. Desire took over. Lest anyone blame Eve, Adam was standing right there! We have to assume that by his inaction he condoned what Eve was doing. We are in this together!

Jesus came to fix us by forgiving our sin and coming to live inside of us, thus giving us His power and His mind so that we can resist sin and learn to be just like Him. Even though we will not be back to how things used to be in the Garden of Eden until Christ returns, we can have the mind of Christ, which is something that Adam and Eve didn’t have! In a way, we are closer to God than they were; they walked with God when He came to walk with them in the garden, but Christ, through the Holy Spirit, is in us 24/7. We are NEVER without Him!

At one time, the Sinai Code (the Torah) brought us death by setting the bar of holiness, one that we couldn’t reach. Actually, it was just a primer, which shows us just how sinful we really were! Paul describes what happened in Romans:

Therefore, what are we to say? That the Torah is sinful? Heaven forbid! Rather, the function of the Torah was that without it, I would not have known what sin is. Romans 7:7a

Have you ever seen a sign that said, “Do Not Touch,” and wanted to do just that? All because the sign told you not to? That is the sin nature at work within us. Paul continues:

13 Then did something good become for me the source of death? Heaven forbid! Rather, it was sin working death in me through something good, so that sin might be clearly exposed as sin, so that sin through the commandment might come to be experienced as sinful beyond measure [seen and known for how bad it really is]. 

Once we are saved and the Spirit of Christ comes to dwell in us, we learn to abide in Him, which means that we grow in knowledge and wisdom and learn to like what He likes and hate what He hates. We learn to trust Him and to lean on Him more and more each day. The love we share with Him and the fellowship we have with Him increase without limit! All we have to do is commit our way to Him each morning and walk with Him throughout the day, acknowledging His presence and authority in our lives and doing as He directs.

Simple? Yes. Easy? No. We still fight the sin nature, but fight it we must! We thank Him for His grace. Think about it: If we didn’t know how sinful were were, how would we appreciate Christ’s sacrifice on the cross? How would we know just how much God truly loves us?

Abba, thank you for showing me my sin so that I can hate it like You do. Why do You hate sin? Because it destroys me and it puts up a barrier between us. Please continue to teach me to turn away from sin, resisting its lure, overcoming desire, and finding peace and rest in Your presence, O Lord. Today is another day; let’s get started. Amen.

Proverbs 4 12-4-19

December 4, 2019

When you trusted Christ as Savior, did you present yourself to Him as an obedient slave? That’s what Lordship means.

11 I’m directing you on the way of wisdom, guiding you in paths of uprightness;
12 when you walk, your step won’t be hindered; and if you run, you won’t stumble.

God’s plans for us are for good things in our future and a hope for that future (Jeremiah 29:11). Our hope is in His Coming, either for us individually in death, at which time we go to be with Him in heaven (2 Cor. 5:8), or us as a group, the Catching Up of the Church, at which time we will go to be with Him in Jerusalem (1 Thes. 4:17, Zech. 14:4)! Is there a Rapture in there before Christ comes to earth? Possibly. We shall wait and see!

In the meantime, He walks with us as we go through this life and directs our steps in righteousness and holiness. The question is, how invested are we in the process?

15 Therefore, what conclusion should we reach? “Let’s go on sinning, because we’re not under legalism but under grace”? Heaven forbid! 16 Don’t you know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, then, of the one whom you are obeying, you are slaves — whether of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to being made righteous? 17 By God’s grace, you, who were once slaves to sin, obeyed from your heart the pattern of teaching to which you were exposed; 18 and after you had been set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.

This progression is universal for Christians and describes first our dilemma and then our solution:

  1. We are slaves to the one we serve.
  2. Our actions reveal who we follow, whether sin unto death (Satan) or obedience unto life (Christ).
  3. We learned the Way of Christ unto salvation and obeyed His command to receive His forgiveness of our sins and His Spirit into our hearts.
  4. After being set free from sin, we became slaves to Him. We WANT TO be righteous! It’s now our new nature.

In view of what has happened to us and Whose we are, 15 Therefore, what conclusion should we reach? “Let’s go on sinning, because we’re not under legalism but under grace”? Heaven forbid! Instead, let us learn to walk as “King’s Kids” in love, in righteousness and holiness, and with increasing glory. One day, we will inherit all of heaven and earth along with Christ (we are joint-heirs with Christ, Romans 8:17). We will once again manage the earth and even angels (1 Cor. 6:3–don’t ask me what that will look like).

Abba, I ask that You make Your will very plain to us today. Speak to us as we turn in our minds and hearts to You and to do Your will. It is our intent to learn of You and to lean on You as we walk through today. May You place us in circumstances that allow our lights to shine for You–regardless of how inconvenient, expensive, or even dangerous it may be. Our hope is in You and in heaven, not for anything down here on this earth. Even our family, whom we love so much, we entrust to You and in being with them in heaven forever rather than trying to hold onto them here on this earth. Keep us focused on You, Adonai. You are our all in all. Amen.

Proverbs 3 12-2-19

December 3, 2019

Choosing Righteousness seems unnatural, but once we do it enough times, we form a pattern of godliness in our lives.

[13] Happy the person who finds wisdom,
the person who acquires understanding;
[14] for her profit exceeds that of silver,
gaining her is better than gold,
[15] she is more precious than pearls—
nothing you want can compare with her. CJB

We have grown up in a world where so much is backwards: right is wrong and wrong is right. How can a person know the truth? Even the Word of God has been twisted to “say” what people want it to say rather than allowing it on its own. We cannot trust ANYTHING that we have learned in life except that which comes from the Spirit of God.

So, what do we do? We must learn to lean heavily upon the Spirit to show us His truth and to teach us His ways. Wisdom is seeing from God’s perspective. The only way to do that is to be subject to Him often enough to gain a larger perspective than just the here-and-now. We must quit thinking from moment to moment and start thinking on a larger scale.

Let’s start with a picture of who we were and who we are now in Christ:

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:15-18

From the moment we were saved, we were given a new nature, one that craves God and His righteousness. We WANT TO be righteous. It is THIS nature to which we should pay close attention because it is guided and controlled by the Holy Spirit who lives in you. Our allegiance is now to Christ!

This new mind sets us free from sin in that we now have a choice. Before we trusted in Christ as LORD, we didn’t have a choice. Now, because of the Holy Spirit within us and our new nature, we DO have a choice. I will say this: while making the choice, our feelings are still worldly; but after we have chosen rightly, the peace and joy that emanate from the Father to us is WELL WORTH IT! Just the comparison between the pay-off for sin and the intimate fellowship with the Father is enough to make us want to be righteous ALL THE TIME. Our motivation has certainly changed!

20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:20-23

Verse 23 reads like this in the CJB, “For what one earns from sin is death; but eternal life is what one receives as a free gift from God, in union with the Messiah Yeshua, our Lord.

Let’s concentrate today on the righteousness that comes from God and enjoy the benefits of our union with Jesus!

Dear LORD, Thank You for freeing me from the chains of sin and yoking me to You. I would much rather walk with You in righteousness than walk alone in my sin. It’s still tough making righteous decisions because I am still tempted by my flesh and my worldly mindset. Help me, O LORD, to replace my worldly thinking with godly thinking through Your Word and through Your guidance. May I rethink EVERYTHING in my life and make it subject to You and Your righteousness. Let’s start right now! Amen.

 

Proverbs 2 12-2-19

December 2, 2019

Living a godly life isn’t all that hard; all we have to do is die to ourselves. In fact, we already have!

10 For wisdom will enter your heart, knowledge will be enjoyable for you,
11 discretion will watch over you, and discernment will guard you.

What we don’t realize most of the time is the active role that the Holy Spirit takes in our lives. If we were to tune in to all that He does for us, we would be awed and grateful! Just the fact that you are interested in spiritual things is courtesy of Your resident Holy Spirit. The entry of the Spirit of Christ into our lives happened the very moment that we gave our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ, Yeshua Messiah. He, through the Holy Spirit, came to live in us, to speak to us, to lead us, to grow us , and to develop us into fully equipped and devoted followers of Christ. One of my favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 4:16, which says, “Though outwardly we are wasting away [growing older], inwardly we are being renewed daily.” Add to that 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit, and we have a pretty solid description of the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives.

Why would God go to so much trouble for us? Because He loves us! It’s what the cross was all about. By dying to ourselves, we can live for Him. Paul explains the process:

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will also be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was put to death on the execution-stake [the cross and we were crucified] with him, so that the entire body of our sinful propensities [our leanings and tendencies] might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For someone who has died has been cleared from sin. Now since we died with the Messiah, we trust that we will also live with him. We know that the Messiah has been raised from the dead, never to die again; death has no authority over him. 10 For his death was a unique event that need not be repeated; but his life, he keeps on living for God. 11 In the same way, consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God, by your union with the Messiah Yeshua. Romans 6:5-11 CJB (Complete Jewish Bible)

As we  go through today, let’s remember that He is for us and with us. Let’s let Him guide us as we walk through this day. “What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms. What a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms.”

Abba, thank You for such a great salvation, one that keeps giving and giving; one that changes me into who I was created to be little by little, attitude by attitude. Sometimes, I don’t see it. In fact, I get frustrated with the slowness of the process, especially if I think I am going backwards! But, I know that You are the one who keeps me, and You are the one who is in charge of my transformation into Christlikeness, so I trust that You use EVERY moment and EVERY decision to make me more like Your Son, Jesus. You are the Potter, Abba, I am the clay. Mold me and fashion me according to Your Plan and Purpose. Let’s GO! Amen.

Proverbs 1 12-1-19

December 1, 2019

Salvation is having Christ inside us. He is now our Savior, our Boss, our Lord. He’s talking; are you listening?

32 “For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
    and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33 but whoever listens to me [wisdom] will live in safety
    and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

If we use our own reasoning, we will fail. We will be deceived by the enemy and succumb to be part of his plan. He’s too good at what he does! We must listen to the Holy Spirit all the time. The Spirit is inside us! He is constantly trying to communicate with us. He doesn’t grow tired and He never sleeps (Psalm 121:4). If we ignore Him, then we are deliberately rebelling against His wisdom and direction. Yes, it’s that serious. Once we rebel, we are open to the enemy’s charms–in fact, we join his camp!

Instead, let us fine tune our spiritual ears to hear His voice and determine in our hearts to obey His commands. If we are truly born again, then we WANT TO do His will–His way!

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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.

Our “want-to” has changed. We can no longer be satisfied with doing what we want. We want what He wants. By choosing Christ, we gave Him the right to make us holy. In fact, we promised to let Him. Why do we fight Him so?

Here is the promise of what God is doing in us:

But you, you do not identify with your old nature but with the Spirit — provided the Spirit of God is living inside you, for anyone who doesn’t have the Spirit of the Messiah doesn’t belong to him. 10 However, if the Messiah is in you, then, on the one hand, the body is dead because of sin; but, on the other hand, the Spirit is giving life because God considers you righteous11 And if the Spirit of the One who raised Yeshua from the dead is living in you, then the One who raised the Messiah Yeshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.

12 So then, brothers, we don’t owe a thing to our old nature that would require us to live according to our old nature. 13 For if you live according to your old nature, you will certainly die; but if, by the Spirit, you keep putting to death the practices of the body, you will live.

Where did I learn these principles? From reading the Word of God. Make SURE that you do it today. Don’t trust someone else to spoon-feed you; that’s for babies. Man up! Let’s do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. The Spirit calls us to His banquet table. Let’s go and feast! [Solomon 2:4]

Abba, it’s time for me to put away childish things and be adult about my spiritual health and growth. It’s all about listening to You, Lord. May I continue to fine-tune my spiritual ears to hear Your voice loud and clear. May I recognize the signs that my body is tiring and wearing down so that I can do something about it rather than fall into old habits. May I continue to fill my mind with good-for-me things rather than bad-for-me things, or even fluff. Help me to take seriously my calling to be Your ambassador to this world. Amen.

Proverbs 30 11-30-19

November 30, 2019

I love thinking about my salvation and all it entails. It makes me very grateful and appreciative of what Christ did.

12 those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth;

Salvation is a spiritual matter. If we could think our way into heaven, then there was really no need for Christ to come.

Salvation is a legal matter. If we could work our way into heaven, then there was really no need for Christ to take the blame for our sin.

Salvation is an allegiance matter. If we could talk (words without action) our way into heaven, then there is really no need for Christ to be Lord of our lives.

From the Complete Jewish Bible:

12 This is how it works: it was through one individual that sin entered the world, and through sin, death; and in this way death passed through to the whole human race, inasmuch as everyone sinned.

17 For if, because of the offense of one man, death ruled through that one man; how much more will those receiving the overflowing grace, that is, the gift of being considered righteous, rule in life through the one man Yeshua the Messiah!

Satan talked Adam and Eve into rebelling against God. Through his lies he sparked DESIRE in Eve’s heart (and Adam’s, evidently) with which they were unprepared to deal. I believe that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was for LATER when they had grown in the LORD and walked with him a few thousand years (a while). Who knows? If they had passed this first test, God may have allowed them to eat it right then! We don’t know and we won’t care once we get to heaven…

We all have DESIRE within us. It was awakened that first day in Adam and Eve and we all are cursed because of it. That’s the bad news. The GOOD news is that because Adam was the representative for all mankind, Jesus could be the representative for all mankind, as well! I’m pretty sure that Satan didn’t know this spiritual truth.  1 Corinthians 2:8 says, “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” Neither did he understand that Jesus intended to be the perfect sacrifice, giving His life in place of our own:

  1. It took a human to be our substitute; sheep and cattle wouldn’t do (they had never sinned).
  2. It took God to be perfect; humans couldn’t be–that’s the whole reason He came!

Verse 17 uses the phrase, overflowing grace, and defines it as “the gift of being considered righteous.” This gift is in one way being offered to everyone, but in another way only offered to a few.

  1. It is offered to everyone in that Christ died for all. Anyone who will trust in His sacrifice and make Him Lord of his life WILL BE SAVED.
  2. It is offered to a few in that only those who have the DESIRE FOR HIM awakened in them will actually turn from their sin and turn to the LORD for salvation.

What criteria does God use to determine in whom He will awaken this desire and thus extend the invitation to be saved? I don’t know. What I DO know is, “The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; He searches out his inmost being.” Proverbs 20:27. God knows who has the DESIRE within that can be fanned into flame. For that matter, He MAY work at fanning EVERY PERSON’S desire, but many snuff it right back out.

To be clear, Genesis 6:3, which says, “My Spirit will not strive with mankind forever;” is referring to death being the end of any chance of salvation. The idea of us rejecting the Holy Spirit’s call and it being the last one is false–although, if we reject Him too often, we grow callous and set in our ways, thus making it more and more difficult to hear His voice and sense His call. Even so, He does not give up until death. Here’s the rest of the verse: “for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” Then the Great Flood came and they all perished.

As we can see, we have A LOT for which to be thankful. May we express our gratitude to Him today and follow Him closely.

Abba, thank You for so great a salvation! I study it often and ALWAYS find something new, some new nugget of truth that thrills my soul. May I never treat my salvation with contempt or take it for granted. Your blood and sacrifice are too valuable for that. Praise be to You, LORD Jesus, Yeshua Messiah! Amen.

Proverbs 29 11-29-19

November 29, 2019

We would do well to measure our spiritual wealth against our worldly wealth–not opposed, but different.

3 A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.

Or,

A person who wants to think like God and enjoy what He enjoys brings joy to the Spirit within, and therefore to the Father and the Son, but a person who spends everything–time, resources, brain cells–on pleasure has exchanged any spiritual value for the fleeting pleasures of this life.

Satan knows how to enslave us because we are easily led by our passions and our lusts, i.e. DESIRE. We can’t get past our momentary feelings. If we could just learn to step back for one minute–even 15 seconds–before reacting or deciding, we would allow the initial rush of adrenaline or dopamine to pass, thus enabling us to make a rational choice based upon God’s Word and His command to us.

During that minute (or, those 15 seconds), pray to the Lord that He would give you wisdom from above. Turn your thoughts and attention to Him by addressing Him in your mind. Remembering the consequences of potential actions is good, but we should really be about pleasing our Lord and becoming like Him.

If we can suffer through the temptation, we stand to learn and gain so many things:

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. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 

  1. We have peace with God!
  2. We have access to Him by faith;
  3. We stand before Him in His grace;
  4. We boast in the hope of the glory of God (that which is to come);

But wait, there’s more:

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame [is true; we can bank on it], because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

  1. Suffering produces perseverance, which is the ability to withstand temptation. According to 2 Peter 1:6, we are to add perseverance to our self-control. One enables the other.
  2. Perseverance produces character, which is a godly life. God is creating the character of Christ Jesus in us! WOW!
  3. Our hope is in Christ Jesus and His imminent return. He WILL reward us for our faithfulness. Just to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” would be enough for me!
  4. It’s more than that: We have His Spirit in our hearts! God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through Him. HE is the reason that we even WANT TO be holy and righteous, to be like God (godliness). Even as His power works through us to give us what we need in times of suffering and temptation, Jesus is transforming us into His own image.

With all that God is doing in our lives, it almost makes us look for suffering–almost. Instead, we receive whatever comes from His hand according to His will for our lives, which brings about the most amazing thing: Intimate fellowship with Christ.

Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy. Proverbs 14:10. God reserves the deepest feelings for Himself.

10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation [and fellowship with Him] in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death [poured out; we are buried with Christ], 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead [we are raised to walk in newness of life because of Him]. Philippians 3:10-11

Let’s take advantage of every situation to become more like Jesus. It makes suffering worthwhile.

Abba, when I ask you to make me like You, I fully understand that suffering is involved. I also know that to reach people for You (according to Your leadership) will mean suffering at the hands of those who do not want to know You. So be it. My life is Yours, Lord. Live through me. Amen.

 

Proverbs 28 11-28-19

November 28, 2019

How can we take credit for the good things in our lives? Let us give thanks to the LORD for His mercy and His grace.

14 Blessed is the one who always trembles before God [not out of fear, but with anticipation and excitement], but whoever hardens their heart [and will not go into His presence] falls into trouble.

If we ever wonder how much the LORD loves us and does for us, all we have to do is look around at all the traps, hidden snares, pitfalls, and lures that Satan has placed in our paths. He knows our buttons:

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Only by answering His call to be His children and then keeping our eyes fixed and focused on Him can we live blamelessly in this world. We are constantly being renewed by the Spirit, but we must allow Him access to our lives. Otherwise, we become the victims:

18 The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into a pit. Proverbs 28:18

“Perverse” can mean as bad as we can imagine or it could mean something that has been twisted to our idea rather than God’s idea. For instance, in judging others we condemn ourselves by taking God’s place on the throne. We have perverted justice by passing judgement upon one for whom Christ died. Jesus tells us,

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

This measure that is given to us comes in the form of insight and knowledge. We learn the heart of God! We experience a kinship with Him that only comes from walking closely to Him and seeing things from His perspective as He explains them to us. Many things He says only become clear once we have experience. Want to know godly love that gives even when the person throws it back in your face? Ridicules you for it and persecutes you? It is when these things happen to us that we begin to understand God’s love for mankind–for us! When we lose family, possessions, health, dreams and all for which we have worked, then we are in a position to understand all that God has lost because of sin:

  1. His relationship with His children;
  2. His beautiful garden;
  3. His creation that suffers to this day because of sin;
  4. All the souls that choose not to love Him!

Why does God hate sin so much? Because it destroys His children and leads them to destruction! We must learn to hate it, too. We must learn to love people and to show them the Better Way, the Spirit-led way.

As we give thanks for our blessings today, may we also ask Him for His heart, His eyes, and His compassion. Let’s be about our Father’s business, shall we?

Abba, keep molding me and making me into a useable vessel for You. I don’t want to coast for the rest of my life–I want to go out in a blaze of glory! May my life and even my death bring much glory to You, O LORD. I am thankful for the easy life You have given me; I lay it all at Your feet. May Your will be done in this world even as it is in heaven: Immediately and completely! I’m following You, LORD. Lead on. Amen.

Proverbs 27 11-27-19

November 27, 2019

How do we know the way to go? We must trust Him one step at a time. That means we must walk close to Him.

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

There is a catchphrase that I like: “I may not know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future.” First Call used it in a song a few years ago (okay, 34 years ago!). The Future We can trust the LORD to guide us through whatever is going on in our lives and in the world IF we are willing to walk with Him everyday. If we are not watching closely, He may suddenly take a path unseen by us and we miss the turn. Getting back to His side can often be painstaking in that we have to scramble. I hate that feeling! Even if the circumstances are not rough or painful, I DON’T LIKE being out of sync with Him.

Jesus warns us to stay close. Let’s look:

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 STAY CLOSE!

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10 STAY CLOSE!

Paul warns us to stay close, as well:

25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2

One of my favorite passages is the Ask, Seek, and Knock passage from the Amplified Bible:

Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

Rather than seeing myself as a nuisance, I prefer to see myself as an understudy that is trying to learn everything he can from the Master and to do everything according to the Master’s instructions WITH THE MASTER. Example:

When I help Doc Lewis build a cabinet, I have a rough idea of what is involved (I have helped him before), so I try to anticipate his needs, such as getting the wood out of the pickup, having the nail gun ready to hand, handing him the glue container, etc. Many times, I wait for him to say, “Hold this board like this…” at which time I hold it exactly like he tells me. Over time, I can even anticipate having the next board ready to glue/nail. What I DON’T do is try to tell Randy how to do it according to how I think it needs to be done. Even if the cabinet is for me, HE is the craftsman and I the apprentice. As we work, we have a great camaraderie and I enjoy my time with him. We always turn out a great product!

This example is how I view my walk with Jesus. He is the Master Craftsman in life and I am the apprentice. In Jesus’ day, it was Rabbi and Disciple. In fact, that’s what Jesus calls us:

23 Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Let’s be good disciples today and walk in step with Him. Spend time in His Word (He IS the Word); acquiesce to His voice and instructions: be diligent as faithful servants and disciples. At the end of the day, we will hear: Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:21

Abba, I long to hear those words! In fact, they are my main motivation for doing Your will today. I know that I have Your righteousness, but I still want to produce righteousness in my life (James 3:18). I can only do that by staying close to Your side, listening to Your instructions, and doing things exactly as You tell me. I will be listening closely, LORD. Give me something to do even as I enjoy my time with You. Amen.

Proverbs 26 11-26-19

November 26, 2019

People who believe that evolution is true call our salvation into question. They do not believe in the need for the Gospel.

5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

At the center of evolution is MAN. He is the pinnacle of the food chain. He is exalted above all other life forms and has no need for a god of any kind. The problem is that he is living in a fantasy land. GOD created the heavens and the earth. HE created mankind beginning with Adam. So, what should we tell them?

The first thing we need to remember is the previous verse: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.”

Oh oh. It seems we have a contradiction! How could these two verses be interpreted?

Verse 4: Evolutionists tend to come at Christians with an attitude of arrogance and contempt and many times aggression. We should NOT use these tactics in our approach.

Verse 5: We need to meet them on their own ground by taking that ground back through facts. There are plenty out there thanks to TRUE science and technology.

In all of our conversation, though, there is this truth: We KNOW Christ personally as our LORD and Savior. We KNOW that our faith is real and is based on real information and on truth. That’s why we should move quickly to the Gospel as soon as we see a “faltering” in their argument. If we can cause them to doubt evolution, then we have a chance to win them back to the Gospel. It’s the same tactic that Satan used in the garden. He got Eve to doubt God’s goodness and truthfulness. If we can get them to doubt the truthfulness of evolution, we may win them back by presenting the Gospel. The Holy Spirit will take it from there (as if He wasn’t involved in the first place!).

If a person doesn’t believe that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are real and literal, then there is no reason to believe in Abraham and the miracle of his Call and the miraculous birth of his son, Isaac. If we don’t believe in the Promise, then we have no basis for the salvation of the Gentiles–or anyone, for that matter.

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousnessfor us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:18-24

Asking someone if he believes in evolution is a great conversation-starter. He will almost always come back with, “Yes.” It’s not rude to ask him why he believes. Most people will answer, “Because it just is; everyone believes in evolution,” which is a great lead-in for us to say, “I don’t, and here’s why…”

  1. Life doesn’t come from non-life. Biology bears this out.
  2. New information doesn’t come from old information. Genetics bears this out.
  3. Irreducible complexity. Chemistry bears this out.
  4. A young earth. REAL science (that can be measured and tested) bears this out.

It would be wise on our part to know the science behind these reasons. There’s plenty out there! Just Google it.

We are in a war, people! Evolution is behind why our society is failing. It has taken away people’s reason to live, to strive, and to get along. It has taken away the moral authority of the church and our standing in the community. It has caused doubt and fear, disdain and hostility toward Christians and the Gospel. It is Satan’s BEST LIE: “You will be like God [or, you will be your own god]…” Genesis 3:5

Consider this:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” Psalm 14:1a

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1

To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 26 to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. Psalm 18:25-26

If we know the LORD and He shows Himself to be faithful, blameless and pure to us, then we can be shrewd in order to show Him to those who have been deceived. They will see our sincerity (which comes from a daily, close walk with him) and the Spirit may prompt them to want what we have. If we can get to the Gospel as quickly as we can, we may just win this war ONE SOUL AT A TIME.

Abba, I am feeling the urgency of the times and hopefully Your Spirit to speak out on this subject. May You give me opportunities to give testimony of your love and grace, Your glory and Your goodness. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for those opportunities. Amen.

 

 

Proverbs 25 11-25-19

November 25, 2019

What happens when we read God’s Word? He reveals glorious things to us!

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings [His children].

Something that the LORD revealed to me is that even though the Jews are the chosen people of God, they are held to the same standard we Gentiles are now that Christ has come. The neat thing is that He will call them to Himself–and is, indeed, calling–as part of His Church, His Bride, His now-extended family.

Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised [a Gentile]. Romans 2:25

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it [that’s all of us]. James 2:10

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. Galatians 6:15

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, and the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:14-16, 18

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

I have been watching a lot of videos from IMETMESSIAH.COM about Jews telling how they came to Jesus. ONEFORISRAEL.ORG is another website that shows videos of Jews giving their testimonies about how they came to Christ. I am amazed how many testimonies include Jesus revealing Himself to them in dreams and visions. It sounds a lot like Joel 2:28, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” Could it be that the END is nearing and this prophecy is coming true? Exciting times!

The point I want to make is that God has concealed many truths in His Word, many confirmations about archeology, biology, astronomy, history, and the future, and many facts about ourselves and all of humanity. HE WANTS TO REVEAL THESE TRUTHS, CONFIRMATIONS, AND FACTS TO US. He wants us to be prepared for the future by knowing today how to prepare. By linking ourselves to Jesus on a daily and continuous basis, we will be ready at a moment’s notice to discern the times and to do His will as He reveals it to us.

God has given us His written words so that we can study them. We have His promise that He will speak to us through them: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 1 Timothy 3:16-17. “By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” Psalm 19:11.

Let’s allow God the opportunity to teach us by reading His Word. It’s important to Him and it’s important for us.

Abba, please open my eyes that I may see wonderful and beautiful truths in Your Word (based upon Psalm 119:18). May I understand and obey, O LORD. Teach me today. I am Your disciple. Amen.

Proverbs 24 11-24-19

November 24, 2019

How is your vineyard today? Have you been taking care of it? Though we are saved by grace, there is work to do.

30 I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; 31 thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. 32 I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: 33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest– 34 and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.

We are smart when we learn from experience; we are wise when we learn from other people’s experience. Let’s take a lesson from the sluggard in this story and consider our spiritual lives as the vineyard. What happened to this man’s spiritual life?

Answer: He didn’t take care of it.

How about us? How well do we maintain our “garden”? Is salvation the only thing there is until we go to heaven? Granted, we are saved by grace and not by works. I ran across this verse in my reading: “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” Romans 3:28. At the same time, we are told to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12b. How so? We work our salvation (that which is already done for us) from the inside out. The Spirit is inside us, so let’s learn to show Him on the outside by becoming transparent. The more we align ourselves with the LORD, the clearer people see Him through us.

What in your life is keeping you from being transparent? Give it to Jesus and allow Him to deal with it. He may take it away; He may shape it a bit differently; He may even transform it into a powerful spiritual tool. It’s all up to Him, but it’s up to you to give it to Him. It’s all part of our spiritual sanctification–our transformation into the image of Christ. It’s how we take care of our garden. In fact, giving Jesus our lives is a daily thing, not unto salvation, but unto transformation.

Want to get the most out of your salvation? Walk with him and talk with Him; learn from Him and worship Him. It’s all about the relationship.

Abba, a lot of times I don’t know what You’re saying to me, but I do know that just being with You is enough in those times. May I continue to sense Your presence as I walk through each day. I know that You speak to my heart and my heart can hear. I look forward to the day when I can hear You plainly. Until then, I will follow You as best I can, mistakes and all. Help me keep my vineyard shipshape, LORD. Amen.

I pray that you will have a grand worship experience in church today.

Proverbs 23 11-23-19

November 23, 2019

Why read His Word daily? To remember who we were before Christ and whose we are after meeting Christ.

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

Let’s look at our salvation experience: Our first indication that something is wrong and needs to be fixed is when we hear that Jesus died for our sins. Two things are created in our hearts. One is the fact that we do not meet God’s standard of holiness. The second is that Christ made a way for us to meet that standard. If we believe that these two things are true, then we are well on our way to being saved.

The next thing we find is that our salvation is much more than simply saying some words and getting fire insurance; it’s giving our entire lives over to God. What do we get out the deal?

  1. We get security. We KNOW that we have eternal life in Jesus Christ. It’s His promise to us.
  2. We get a relationship. For salvation to happen, the Holy Spirit must enter our hearts and do a mighty work. He fills us up, cleans us up, dresses us up with the robe of Christ’s righteousness, gives us the ring and sandals of sonship (girls, too!), and signs adoption papers that can NEVER be rescinded.
  3. We get leadership. The reason for salvation was to put us back into fellowship with the Father. He has plans for us and a job for us to do. He has an entire life of holiness to learn, and a habit of follow-ship to set.

Why are we going over “old ground” again? Because we forget why we were saved and begin to live our lives as if we are not saved, which defeats the purpose of being saved.

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 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 3:19-20

God created a perfect world. We had complete fellowship with the Father through Adam and Eve. When they rebelled, we rebelled through them. How do we know that we rebelled through them? It’s simple, really. Let’s look at God’s primer to righteousness and see how we do (Exodus 20: 3-17):

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me. Do we have other gods before God? All the time! Whether it’s pleasure, avarice or indulgence, pride or fear, we all serve at the feet of other gods.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth below or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them… We all have things in our lives that we serve. We were created to serve and we do it well–just to the wrong things!
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God… Again, we all are guilty of using the LORD’s name in ways that it was never intended, if not as a cuss word, then flippantly and without its special association. If we are not addressing Him, then it’s being misused.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. We Gentiles don’t have a clue as to how to keep this verse. We don’t have a reference point.
  5. Honor your father and your mother… Ever disobeyed your parents? Me, too.
  6. You shall not murder. Ever hated anyone and/or want him dead?
  7. You shall not commit adultery. Ever “done it” in your mind?
  8. You shall not steal. Ever taken something without permission?
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor [lie]. Ever lied?
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house…his wife…his stuff. Ever considered how to get something that was someone else’s?

What we have to realize is that sinning doesn’t actually make us sinners; we sin BECAUSE we are sinners. The Ten Commandments simply bear out this fact. “We become conscious of sin.” It’s the next part in the chapter that thrills our souls:

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify [we learn it in His Word]. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

It is through Jesus Christ that we received redemption from our sinful state. He has placed us in His family. He has made His home in us through the Holy Spirit. We are no longer who we were before we met Christ. May we “always be zealous” as we walk with the LORD daily.

Abba, thank You for rescuing me! Thank You for coming to me and inviting me to be Yours. You initiated and I responded. May I continue to trade my life for Your life, my will for Your will, my desires for Your desires, and my strength for Your strength. I look forward to all You have in store for me today. Let’s go! Amen.

Proverbs 22 11-22-19

November 22, 2019

As Christians, are we ready for “hard times”? Do we really lean on Him for life and strength? It’s important to know now.

4 Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.

In the Old Testament, it was all about obedience. Their relationship with the LORD was not nearly what God had in mind. People associated worldly blessings of health, riches and long life with God’s blessing. Little did they know that those things are always a means to an end and that each person’s health, riches and life span are determined by several factors, not the least being God’s plan for each person (also included are a person’s willingness and other people’s decisions).

The New Testament, though, is about God coming to live INSIDE each person. We become little mobile temples where God resides! On the day Jesus died–at the very moment He breathed his last– the veil in the temple was torn in two. From all I’ve read, this veil was 30 feet wide and 30 feet tall and about six inches thick. To tear this veil would have taken modern machinery (or a lot of animals yoked together), Yet it was torn from the top to the bottom. The significance of this event is displayed 52 days later at the Feast of Pentecost:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4

  1. This “place” was probably Solomon’s colonnade, which was an area of steps with columns; each place between the columns was called a “room.” This area was to the side of the court of the Gentiles and led to the marketplace. A strategic place for the Holy Spirit to come upon them, yes?
  2. Look at who all were there (1:13-14): The disciples and other men along with the women who went with Jesus and cared for the group’s needs (Mark 15:41). Mary, Jesus’ mother is mentioned as well as Jesus’ brothers (James and Jude and the others).
  3. They ALL were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in someone’s native language (v.6)–women included! The men went to the men’s court while the women went to the women’s court, both of which would be just past the Gentile court, which would have been filled, too. That is, if they even got out of the Gentile court…!
  4. The correlation has been drawn concerning the tongues of fire with the pillar of fire that was above the Israelites in the wilderness. That cloud by day and pillar of fire by night was the presence of God with the Israelites. ALL of them would have gotten the correlation, especially if it formed above them and then split into little flames that came to rest on each of them: 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

The point I would like to make from this event is THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD WAS IN EACH OF THEM. Salvation is NOT a decision we make with our heads; it’s a response to an invitation to come–or, rather, a request to enter. Without the Holy Spirit making Himself known through conviction, and many times a true presence, there is nothing we can do concerning salvation. With conviction comes our own conviction to give ALL to Christ. If left to our own decision, then we could be saved without giving up everything–and that’s what it takes to be saved.

What would happen if, instead of telling someone all the benefits of being saved, we told them how hard it was going to be, but that it is well worth it to have Jesus in them? Then, instead of asking them to pray a prayer, we instructed them to get alone, to fall on their knees and begin to give God everything as each idol, stronghold, and pet sin came to mind? What if we told them to cry out to God for His mercy until they felt Him come in and save them? Indeed, we would have fewer salvations, but the ones we got would be REAL!!! We would know it and they would know it!

I pray you have had an encounter with the LORD Jesus through His Spirit. I pray that You feel His presence in your life and that He talks to you through prayer, His Word, other Christians, and through circumstances. Our constant use and participation in these areas are true evidence of salvation.

Abba, may we take back the kingdom through bold witnessing and by turning up the fire, so to speak, on how a person gets saved. It has been watered down through the past century to the point that culture has crept into Your church. As our world becomes more and more polarized concerning Christianity, I pray that You will call us out as bold ambassadors for You. I look at what you have done in China and ask for that same boldness. I don’t ask for hard times, Abba, but I am ready for them thanks to You. May Your will be done. Amen.

Proverbs 21 11-21-19

November 21, 2019

Our lives are not our own. We have been bought with a price. He has plans for us! Let’s find out what they are.

31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.

We ready ourselves as best we can, but ultimately it all comes down to the LORD fighting our battles for us. What kind of battles, you might ask. There is the constant war against our own flesh, the war against evil in our world; there are battles at home, work, church, and everywhere we go. Most people don’t know the LORD and are acting according to their own intellect–and many of them are driven by how they feel! Even Christians have this problem.

So, how do we ready ourselves for these battles? We could turn to Ephesians 6 and read about putting on the armor of God, but instead we are going to look at Romans 12 where Paul tells us to consider. Consider what? Our grace gift and the opportunities of faith that God gives us. Let’s read:

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

It takes faith to be saved and it takes faith to follow Jesus. How do we get this faith? It isn’t something that we generate on our own; it is distributed to us by God. But one may say, “If God has to give me faith, then when I fail, it is because God has not given me enough faith.” NOT SO! The faith God gives us begins with a willingness on our part to receive the gift. If we are open to what God has for us, we know that He gives us the desire (above our own) and the power ( above our own) to do His will (Phil. 2:13).

Let’s add a phrase for the sake of clarity: …in accordance with the opportunities of faith God has distributed to each of you.” By adding this phrase, we define faith as the opportunities that God gives us to exercise our trust in Him. In doing so, we grow our faith just as an athlete grows his muscles and skills. Some people are given great opportunities to show great faith where most of us are given opportunities to show God’s love and grace in myriad small ways everyday. To what has God called us? We must be ready for anything.

Previously, Paul gave us the formula for recognizing these opportunities when they come around:

2 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.

  1. The pattern of this world is difficult to determine in that we still must live in the world. But Jesus said, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” John 17:16. We must strike a balance in there somewhere. Each of us must ask the LORD where that balance is. What will show our allegiance to God the most? Go with that!
  2. The renewing of our minds happens when we read the words of God. His Spirit speaks to our spirit interpreting and applying those words. We are in the process of becoming more like Jesus; we MUST allow Him to transform us by READING His words!
  3. “Test and approve what God’s will is” is an interesting phrase. What we think God’s will is and what God’s will really is may be two different things. If we align ourselves with Him through His Spirit, then we will be able to discern His will. Likewise, if we are in alignment with Him, then we approve of His will. A similar way of saying it is, “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
  4. God’s will is always good. He knows His plans for us; they are for good and not for evil (Jer. 29:11). God’s will is always pleasing to Him and, therefore, to us. God’s will is always perfect. It always aligns with His overall plan for the world and eternity. We can trust His good, pleasing and perfect will.

It is only logical, then, based on verse one, to place ourselves into His capable hands. In view of God’s mercy to extend His grace and faith to us, we can in confidence offer ourselves to Him as living sacrifices. He has (and is continuing to make us even more so) holy; we are pleasing to Him because we have accepted His gifts of grace and faith. Through grace we have the desire to follow Him and do His will; through faith we have opportunities and the power to do as Jesus would do–through us! Our lives are our daily worship.

Let’s begin today by transforming our minds with the words of God, and then let’s commit ourselves to Him, following Him, listening to Him, going where He leads and doing what He says. It promises to be a most blessed day!

Abba, may we be transformed today into the image of Christ so that this world will see the difference. Give us opportunities to extend grace to others. Grow our faith through these opportunities. We are trusting You, LORD. Lead us and show us, then imbue us with Your knowledge and power. I’m looking forward to it, Abba! Amen.

Proverbs 20 11-20-19

November 20, 2019

We must raise the idea of there being another way (THE Way), but we must leave the convincing/convicting up to God.

5 The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.

If you haven’t noticed, creation truths, especially new discoveries, are a favorite topic of mine. I thrill to learn something new about God’s creation and our world’s history. Why? Because they give me insights into what God is doing now and what will happen in the future.

I’ve yet to get into a full-blown argument with an evolutionist. I was berated once, but I held to my testimony of knowing Christ personally (Paul warns us in Titus 3:9-11 not to get into arguments with people about such things; there is no convincing them of the truth unless the Spirit is working on them) and that seemed to take the wind out of his sails. We left the conversation on equitable terms. I still pray for John that the Spirit would water the seed planted in him and grow the Gospel in his soul.

9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?

Most people believe in evolution because that is what they have been taught. If they went to a public school, they have been brainwashed with it since kindergarten. They don’t really know how or why evolution works; it’s just all they know. We must keep in mind that we, too, were like them once:

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived [by lies] and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. Titus 3:3

Satan would have us believe the lie of evolution because it keeps us blind. We would like to believe evolution because it allows us to do as we please. We are both deceived and enslaved by it. How does a person become “undeceived” and then “unenslaved”? Only by the Spirit of God shining His light on that person’s soul.

The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being. Proverbs 20:27

There is a note at the bottom of my Bible that says, “or, A person’s words are…” So, if we were to read the verse using the alternate meaning, it would read like this:

A person’s words are the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being.

Building on this alternative translation, we can come to this conclusion: We have the opportunity through conversation (and sometimes confrontation) to shed light on a person’s soul. We plant a seed. That seed is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With this thought in mind, I have determined:

  1. To use creation vs. evolution as a springboard into a conversation with people.
  2. If I am confronted, then I will ask them if they are open to another way if the facts are there.
  3. If they are, then we can proceed. If they aren’t, then I will give my testimony (the quick version*) and close the conversation by changing the subject or leaving.

What we bank on is the next few verses in Titus 3 that God will do in them what He did in us:

4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 

Just as God saved US and called US out of the darkness, deception, and slavery, we pray for those with whom we come in contact to be convicted by the Holy Spirit. All it takes to get the ball rolling is for us to say something. We must assume that God brings people into our paths in order for us to share the Gospel through our testimony. Let’s learn how to get into conversations with folks!

Abba, it’s time. It’s time for Your church to get up and get going. We have the perfect opportunity with creation vs. evolution to begin conversations. May I practice what I preach as You lead me into conversations with people. I pray for John that You would work a mighty work in his life. May You grow the seed planted in his heart. May he open his mind to a new way of looking at things and then open his heart to Your kindness and love. Even if we make the devil and his followers mad, may we be strong and courageous! We are Your servants, O LORD. Use us for Your glory. Amen.

*I was once blind to the truth about God. I was deceived and enslaved by my own sin. But Jesus came into my heart, forgave me of all my wrongdoing, and made me right with God–and He’s still there! We walk through life together and He teaches me how to be like Him. I know He’s real because He lives in me.

Proverbs 19 11-19-19

November 19, 2019

We are all students, ever growing in our faith. In what is your faith? Is it in Christ Jesus? Then continue to learn!

2 Desire without knowledge is not good–how much more will hasty feet miss the way!

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

27 Stop listening to instruction, my son [child], and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

The Spirit of God lives in our hearts. By the grace of God we live in Him. Jesus is the grace of God and He lives in our hearts. Therefore, this verse refers to the process of transformation that He is doing in our hearts:

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It [He] teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, Titus 2:11-12

We can learn all the verses in the Bible, but without the Spirit to interpret them for us, to tell us what they mean and how to apply them to our lives, to give us the desire to do them and the power to carry them out, we are back where we started. SALVATION is a one-time event, but it is also a process, SANCTIFICATION, which is Christ making us holy, setting us apart for Himself, making us to look like Him in character.

We will also be saved in the future, GLORIFICATION, where we receive our new bodies that do not have the sin nature in them anymore! Hallelujah!!!

13 while we wait for the blessed hope–the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Those who belong to Christ are eager to do good. Our first act of righteousness each morning is to acknowledge Christ’s presence and sovereignty in our lives for the day. Our next act of righteousness should be to immerse ourselves in His Word as we continue to fellowship with Him in prayer. In this way, we learn to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives–no matter how bad it gets out there!

Abba, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ that they will have that “higher desire” to rise above their own feelings and desires to make Your desires their priority. I know that when we do, Your love, joy and peace flow freely from Your throne as we enjoy Your presence! There is no higher honor and no greater blessing than communing with You even as we go about our day. Stretch us and grow us, O Lord. Give us that higher desire! Amen.

 

Proverbs 18 11-18-19

November 18, 2019

Might the Holy Spirit do a mighty work among us today? Are we prepared? Are we looking for Him to move?

16 A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.

We offer the gift of salvation to the people around us when we allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives. We become light-bearers for Him as He shines His light into their darkness.

In Acts 3, Peter and John healed a beggar at the temple gate and were given a great opportunity to proclaim the Gospel, which got them hauled before the Sanhedrin (chapter 4), the religious ruling body. They got to proclaim the Gospel to them–although, it was not well received. As a whole, that group never accepted Jesus Christ as Messiah. There were individuals, though, that did. Nicodemus was one of them. God works on individual hearts and not always on the group. It’s the same in America. We may never bring the country back to godly values, but we can bring individuals to Christ.

Paul was given the opportunity to speak before the high priest, Governor Felix, his successor, Governor Festus, King Agrippa (ruler of the entire area), and finally to Emperor Nero. The presentation of the Gospel was all-important to Paul. It was His calling, his life. His own words: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace [the Gospel].” Acts 20:24

If we take seriously Ephesians 3:21, which says, “Now to him [Jesus] who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power [His Spirit] that is at work within us,” let’s ask and imagine “the moon!” Let’s ask the Lord Jesus to raise up prophets in our day and age; let’s ask Him to place us in circumstances to be witnesses for Him. Let’s pray for revival in our families, our church, our city, state, and nation!

Imagine the most “lost” person that you know becoming a proclaimer of the Gospel. Now, ask God to make it so! Begin praying for that person-whether male or female-  consistently for God to move in his heart and to call him. Pray that he will listen and respond to His call. Pray that God would then move in the hearts of those around him and that he would be given great opportunities to proclaim the Gospel. Pray BIG!!!

In the meantime, what shall we do concerning ourselves? Let’s ask that WE be called by the Holy Spirit and given great opportunities to share the Gospel. Let’s ask that we be instruments in His hands to call others to Himself. Let’s live our lives “so that in every way [we] will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” Titus 2:10b How?

  1. Through sound doctrine. What we teach makes a difference.
    1. Be temperate (control our temper) v.2
    2. Worthy of respect
    3. Self-controlled
    4. Sound in faith, love and in endurance
  2. Through reverent lives v.3
    1. Not be slanderers (no gossip or sharing of information that is none of our business, especially our own opinions)
    2. No addictions (let nothing control us except the Spirit of God)
    3. Teach what is good (both in word and deed) v.4
    4. Be loving, pure, kind, submissive to one another
    5. Set a good example v.5
    6. Live with integrity (who we are and what we do when only God can see us)
    7. Have soundness of speech v.8
    8. Demonstrate trustworthiness v.9-10

By living this way, we make the Gospel attractive. Now, whether people listen to the Spirit’s call is not up to us. We are only the messengers. We are Ambassadors for Christ!

Abba, I pray for those reading this blog that You would get a hold of their hearts and work a mighty work within them. Call them to great and mighty things. As our world turns darker and darker, may our lights shine brighter and brighter. May the decisions we make concerning how we live reflect our “followship” of You, O Lord. I also pray for the “lost ones” who seem to be the furthest away from You. May they be the very ones whom You call to proclaim the Gospel in our day! Surprise us all, Abba!!! Amen.

Proverbs 17 11-17-19

November 17, 2019

Come, take a journey with me to the island of Crete. Let’s study Titus and the letter Paul wrote him as he ministered there.

16 Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it?

The currency here is not actual money, but ability. What good is wisdom to a person who doesn’t intend to use it? These are the people with which Titus had to deal.

10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.

Invariably, there are some folks who cannot give their whole lives to Jesus. The harder they hold onto some part of their lives, the more adamant they become about keeping it. That part becomes their focus and ruins their relationship with the Father.

Then, there are those who are “sent” by Satan to infiltrate and sow seeds of discord and spread lies. These people may think that they are “free,” but they are really bound to Satan with long chains.

12 One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” 13 This saying is true.

Before we go judging Paul too harshly for “buying into” such a statement, we must realize that the saying describes us, too! We all lie; we all are evil in our flesh; we all are lazy and look for the easy way out, putting off what we know is right; we all are gluttons who take a good thing to extremes and use it in ways that are not godly.

Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 

I looked up the word, “sharply,” in the Greek and guess what it means: “Sharply, curtly, severely.” Notice the word, “harshly,” is not used. We must always speak with love and grace, but we must speak the truth.

15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

In those young and fledgling house churches, there were many who were caught up in the initial wave of the Spirit of God moving on Crete who did not actually believe. They were still living according to the flesh and they had not given themselves wholly to Jesus. This description is still accurate today. We have many in our churches who pay lip service, but don’t really believe. There are several other reasons to come to church:

  1. Habit and tradition. It’s how they were raised.
  2. To keep peace and harmony at home (the spouse wants him/her to go).
  3. Fellowship. They have friends there.
  4. Business: Connections and relationships.
  5. Agenda. Some people come to cause problems, sway people to their way of thinking, and some even to seduce!

Paul encouraged Titus, as his true son in their common faith (verse 4) to appoint faithful men to be in charge and to guard the fellowship. The role of pastor carries quite a burden. Let’s pray for our pastors as they guard the sheep from the wolves.

As we go to church today, may we go with minds open to the people around us. Pray for them that they may meet with God and give themselves wholly to Him. May we do the same!

Abba, I give myself wholly to You today. Only You have the words of life. Only You have the Plan for mankind. I just want to be a part of what You are doing. Make me like You, Jesus, make me like You. Amen.

Proverbs 16 11-16-19

November 16, 2019

To further our knowledge, we read books or “google it;” we may even look on YouTube. What about our faith?

25 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

Where do we look to further our faith? Is there a book in the Bible that declares itself as a faith-furtherer? Look no further than Titus! Paul states at the very beginning of his letter: Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— What knowledge can we expect to find in the letter to Titus?

  •  Many claim to know God, but their deeds will bear out the truth (1:15-16)
  • The Gospel put forth in a very straightforward way (2:11-14)
  • A reminder to be subject to rulers and authorities (3:1)
  • To slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone (3:2)
  • We get a very honest description of who we were without Christ (3:3)
  • We also get a great description of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives (3:4-7)
  • He warns us not to argue about foolish controversies and arguments (3:9)

A person may wonder how Paul got to be so smart concerning God’s ways. Let’s see:

  1. He was of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews
  2. Trained by Gamaliel, a noted teacher of the day
  3. In regard to the law, a Pharisee, which carries a great deal of import and insight into the life of Paul. Pharisees devoted themselves to the study of the Scriptures and the added laws, both the written and the oral law plus the laws that they wrote to keep people away from breaking the other laws. All that to say, Paul knew the Scriptures.

Once Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was given a call to go to the Gentiles with the Gospel. He was also shown much of the story of the ages by Christ Himself. “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Acts 9:16 He was also taken into heaven and shown much that he related to us in his letters and much more that he was not allowed to share! 2 Cor. 12:1-4

Paul knew the Scriptures and quoted them often. He used them to qualify Jesus as the Messiah and to quantify the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike. We would do well to learn the Scriptures as he knew them. Here’s a “starter kit” from King David’s 119th Psalm:

Psalm 119:33 Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. May we finish well by following closely all the way to the end of our lives.

34 Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. This was Jesus’ own heart. It’s what He asked us to do in John 14:15, 23, and 15:10.

35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. The more I get of God, the more I want. The more I want, the more He gives. It’s a never-ending cycle!

36 Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Keep my eyes focused on You, O Lord. There are lots of sparkly things around me–they are lures with hooks.

37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your wordSave me from myself, O LORD. I cannot discern nor abstain from sinful desires on my own. I need YOU!

38 Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared. I know You will, Abba. You have promised to never leave me or forsake me, and that You make me more like Jesus everyday. May I fear You and may those around me learn to fear You because I fear You.

39 Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good. By keeping me righteous, You remove the dread I have in not finishing well. Help me stay strong, O LORD.

40 How I long for your precepts! In your righteousness preserve my life. I long to hear from You concerning Your word, laws, precepts, statutes, ways, decrees and commands. Speak plainly to me, Abba. Your servant is listening.

Proverbs 15 11-15-19

November 15, 2019

“Be careful what you ask for; magic comes with a price.” Righteousness is what we seek. HE is who we seek.

6 The house of the righteous contains great treasure, but the income of the wicked brings ruin.

Simply put, the great treasure is the blessing of God–His forgiveness through His Son’s sacrifice, His presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit, the connection we have with Him through the family of God, and the blessed hope we have in what He has in store for us. His righteousness is what we are to seek.

The ruin of the wicked is their income–it blinds them to the fact that they need a Savior; it fulfills just enough desire to keep them from looking for true Desire and fulfillment in Christ. The things to which they hold will spoil and rot, which includes their souls.

How do we get this great treasure for our lives? It starts with a willing heart. Then we ask for the want-to to want to, a higher desire, one that comes from His Spirit. Then we begin to read His Word. When we get to a verse that stands out to us, we stop and meditate on it beginning with thanking Him for speaking to us. We ask these questions:

  1. Why would the Holy Spirit shine a spotlight on this verse?
  2. Is it personal, in that is it revealing a weak area in my life?
  3. Does it have to do with another verse or passage (write the reference in)?
  4. What is there about the passage that stands out to me?
  5. Is the Lord wanting me to “take a note” about an idea?

We need to write down whatever comes to mind. Once all is written down, we can go about our day or night–just as soon as we thank Him for conversing with us and giving us wisdom. At a later date, we can re-read what is written and make sure it makes sense. We can make any adjustments that need to be made in grammar, connectivity, and references (other verses that help explain what we wrote).

Now we need to thank the Holy Spirit for entrusting us with this information. We ask Him to guide us in how to use it in the coming days and weeks. We need to read it often to remember and to further ingest the lesson and expound on it if necessary.

The last thing is to run it by someone we know who will give us an honest and godly opinion about what we have written. It’s not that we need a second opinion, but that the Spirit speaks to us through our brothers and sisters in Christ. They may have another point to add or they may help us shape how to say it. We all need objective help seeing truth.

The question is, are we really interested in learning from the Holy Spirit? Consider these verses:

2:1 My child, if you accept my words [from my word] and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding–3 indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD [what it means to stand in His presence] and find the knowledge of God [see from His perspective].

Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.

18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

27 Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.

32 I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.

Abba, there is so much more to Your Word than what I know! I want to know as much as my brain can absorb! May I read Your Word in different ways so that I may grasp new meaning in every passage. Then, LORD, give me a place to proclaim what You have shown me, whether it is evangelistic or in a teaching format. Whatever You have planned is what I want. Thank You for having a relationship with me. It means everything to me. Amen.

Proverbs 14 11-14-19

November 14, 2019

Our own attitude gets in the way of us hearing God. We must create the right frame of mind in order to hear Him.

6 The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge come easily to the discerning.

Think about it: Why would we not hear from God?

  1. We don’t want to. If we hear from God, He will expect something from us.
  2. We can’t. We don’t know what His voice sounds like and we cannot discern it.
  3. We hear it, but ignore it because He isn’t telling us what we want to hear.
  4. We have never taken the time to learn His language.

If knowledge comes easily to the discerning, then how do we become discerning?

  1. We need to figure out what we want. Do we want to hear from God? If so, are we willing to receive what He tells us and to do whatever He says?
  2. We need to find out what His voice sounds like, and we need to figure out why we can’t hear it. Is there something or someone in our lives that is blocking the signal? Lifestyle will do that; so will hidden sin. Wrong relationships will mute His voice, too. What’s funny is we KNOW what is blocking His voice, but we are unwilling to do anything about it.
  3. If we hear His voice, will we obey it? The works of God display–and fairly shout–His existence, which, in turn, requires our attention. The Spirit of God comes to us and invites us to join Him. Jesus is building His kingdom, which is the Church, and He wants us to not only be a part, but to help Him build it. Are we willing?
  4. It’s difficult to understand what the Spirit wants if we haven’t taken the time to learn His vocabulary, what He likes and dislikes, and what He is likely to say and what He will never say. All of these traits come from reading His Word.

Let’s pull some verses out of Ephesians 4 and 5.

5:18 Do not get drunk on wine [or anything that fogs your brain], which leads to debauchery [making ungodly decisions concerning pleasure]. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

How do we get filled with the Spirit? We sing to God His own words and our own prayers.

5:19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We sing to remember; we sing to instill His truths in our hearts; we sing to re-align ourselves with Him; we sing to ward off the enemy, the devil.

10 Find out what pleases the Lord.

What DOES please the Lord? When His children live in unity of the Spirit and harmony.

Psalm 133

How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity!

It is like precious oil poured on the head,
    running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
    down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
    were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
    even life forevermore. 

 

King David knew how unity makes every get-together, every family, and every kingdom run more smoothly. Unity requires everyone to practice Jesus’ Platinum Rule: “Love one another just as I have loved you.” John 13:34. We must “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in all things consider others better than [before] ourselves. Phil. 2:3. We must also “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” We are to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Eph. 4:2-3. In everything, we are to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love [which means sacrifice], just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Eph. 4:32-5:2

Want to know what God is saying? Read these verses every morning and implement them. You will hear His voice soon enough–and feel His good pleasure!

Abba, may I take my own advice and commit these verses to memory so that I can implement them everyday. Hearing Your voice, O Lord, is what makes each day bearable and worth living. Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus, speak that my soul may hear. I’m listening. Amen.

Proverbs 13 11-13-19

November 13, 2019

Little steps before big steps. Little responsibilities before big responsibilities. Training before implementation.

13 Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded [expected]; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked [for their return].” Luke 12:48

I went to a commissioning/sending service for missionaries last night. It was quite a service! Great music, great testimonies, great message, and great prayer time around the missionaries. By the time they get to this point, they have done the groundwork for their ministry. They have gone to school, studied the language and culture, and they are ready. Some have even been before!

But, there’s more to their lives than that. Several missionaries mentioned that God put an interest in their hearts for a certain people group early in their lives. They allowed God to groom them for what they are going to do. Some of them married with the same vision and passion, and now they go together to the mission field. What I hear between their words is lives lived with an awareness of the Holy Spirit in their lives, a daily discipline of Bible study and prayer (a concerted and protected time of conversation with Jesus), and a walk that reflects their love for Jesus and all that they believe. They are experts in the Christian faith.

Yet, if you were to ask them, I’m sure that they will tell you the same thing I would tell you, which is that no matter how “good” we get at following Christ, it’s not because of us or anything we do; it’s all Him, about Him, by Him, and through Him (Romans 11:36). We each are just one step away from falling, so we stay riveted to His side. We can hear the voice of Jesus no more clearly than anyone else who will take the time and put in the work to clear out all the clutter and filter out all the interference in our lives that mutes, distorts, and drowns out His still, small voice (Robin calls that my amplified version).

A great verse for fellowship with the LORD is Revelation 3:18.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat/commune/fellowship with him and he with me.”

It is often used as a salvation verse, which is correct, but it goes much deeper than simply salvation. Jesus was talking to Christians and was asking them to let Him into their lives so that He could fellowship with them–a deep and intimate fellowship, a permanent fellowship, one that would go on constantly and would last for a lifetime. It is this level of communion (from which we get the word, “community”) that Jesus calls us, both with Himself and with His Church, His Bride, His Body, God’s other children.

Let’s invite Jesus in today for that deep, intimate level of companionship and fellowship. You’ll never regret it! Who knows? He may call YOU to be a missionary for Him.

“Many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14

“Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate [turn away from] father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” Luke 14:33

Abba, I pray for those who read my blog that they would give themselves to You today. I give myself to You and ask that you be my Guide today. So, where are we going? I can hardly wait! Amen.

 

Proverbs 12 11-12-19

November 12, 2019

What we do in an emergency has already been established by the routine of our lives. It’s what training is all about.

To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.

Wickedness never brings stability, but the godly have deep roots.

Bringing DESIRE under control is what Christ wants to do in our hearts. His Spirit works with us daily, even constantly, to master our desires. Actually, we don’t really ever master them; we learn to take them to the altar and leave them there, replacing them with the nature and character of Christ.

We get a good snapshot of Christ’s character in 1 Corinthians 13. Just remember that God is love (1 John 4:16) and that Christ the Son is God (John 1:18, 10:30, 14:9), therefore Jesus is love.

Love [Jesus] is patient and kind. Love [Jesus] is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It [He] does not demand its [His] own way. It [He] is not irritable, and it [He] keeps no record of being wronged [–ever, now or in eternity, so lose the idea of us having to give an account for our lives in heaven]. It [He] does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love [Jesus] never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Jesus wants us to become JUST LIKE HIM. In fact, His Spirit is at work right now creating in us the character of Christ–if we let Him. He wants us to be patient and kind (numbers four and five in the list of the fruit of the Spirit), He does not want us to be jealous of what we have, but to share generously with others–within the scope of goodness. He does not want us to be proud and rude, but gentle and meek (controlled strength). He is not irritable, therefore we should strive to not be irritable (that’s a hard one!). Jesus does not keep a record of wrongs, therefore, we should learn to forgive and forget (render the memory powerless). He rejoices when truth is discovered and honored. He never gives up on us, never loses faith in us, is always hopeful for us, and endures through every circumstance with us. He LOVES us!

Let’s ask the LORD to make us more like Him today. Of course, we will need opportunities to exercise this righteousness He gives us, so look for ways to show that Christ is in you today. In fact, ask Him to live through you and with you all day today. You and He will have a great time together!

Abba, I know the process of becoming like You (sanctification) is long and slow, and I can hardly tell that You’ve done anything because I still fight the same old temptations, but I am encouraged when others tell me that they can see how You’ve changed me through the years–and tears. May I never quit–or even relax–striving to be like You, LORD. May You have Your way with me everyday, TODAY. Amen.

Proverbs 11 11-11-19

November 11, 2019

What is your perspective? Are you looking forward to spending the day with the Father?He is with you.

5 The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.

Our righteousness is in Christ. He gives us His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). His Spirit in us makes us blameless; all our sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus. Because of the atoning action of His blood, we are constantly cleansed until the day when we step out of these bodies into new and glorious ones that no longer have the sin nature in them! This next verse tells us to what we have to look forward:

To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling [and falling] and to present you before His glorious presence without fault [blameless] and with great joy— Jude 24

Not only are we kept from falling, we have been given any and every spiritual gift (as we need them):

Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:7-9

“Fellowship with His Son” is key. It is the entire point of salvation–it IS salvation! If we are not interested in fellowshipping with the Son, Jesus Christ, who lives in us by the Person of “Mr.” Holy Spirit, then we have missed the whole point of salvation. Heaven is all about Him! If we don’t want any part of Him now, what makes us think that we will be happy in heaven when EVERYTHING there is about HIM?

What we are talking about here is abiding. We are to abide in Christ. Abiding is all about making our relationship with Christ permanent. It means “to remain, to live.” Our lives are to be all about Christ. His Spirit even gives us the want-to to want to! Let’s not let how we feel today give the devil a foothold; let’s not give him an inch of ground by committing ourselves to Christ today, studying His Word, and “setting our face like flint” to converse with Him all day, doing as He says and following where He leads (Isaiah 50:7).

26 I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. 27 But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. 1 John 2:26-27

Let’s remain in fellowship with Christ today. He will teach us everything we need to know and will equip us with everything we need. Is it a battle? Yes. Will it be easy? No. But, it will certainly be worth it!

Abba, You have promised us so much: Your presence, Your participation, Your protection, Your provision, and so much more! Help me to stay connected to the Vine, which is you, O Lord. May I fellowship with You all day today as we walk through life together–to the real life You have waiting for me by Your side in Heaven. Thank You for Robin, in whom I see much of You. Help us to finish well. We love You, Lord. Amen.

 

Proverbs 10 11-10-19

November 10, 2019

Christ has bought us and we are His. Our life is not our own anymore. Quit acting like it is.

5 He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Today is Sunday. What is God calling you to do? For most of us, He is calling us to meet together in His name, praise Him, and study His Word together. For some, He has different tasks (for instance, taking care of the sick). It’s all according to what He is telling each of us.

The key is to ask. But, we need to do the “leg-work” in doing so, which is grounding ourselves in His Word daily to learn His character and what He will and won’t ask us to do. There is always a right way and a wrong way to do something.

  1. The right way is the way that the Holy Spirit is leading us. We need to be tuned in to His voice so that we can hear Him clearly.  Spending every waking moment aware of His presence is how that clarity happens. It’s what Jesus was able to do and it’s what we can do, as well, because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
  2. The wrong way is to lean on our own understanding and feelings. Our understanding and feelings about a matter can change by being told a different opinion, having truth revealed to us (we may read it or someone may tell us, or we may experience it), or with how we feel physically.

Satan’s lies are prominent and prevalent. We need to seek the truth in God’s Word. Let’s do that together this morning.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
    It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth.

Want to see evidence of God? Look at His creation. Six days and perfection! It’s even beautiful after the Fall and the Flood, which is what we see today.

 

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.

King David saw the Word of God as a way to get to know Him. WOW! Nearly everyone else sees it as a book of rules. Let’s look beyond the rules to the Ruler.

12 But who can discern their own errors?
    Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
    may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
    innocent of great transgression.

David knew that he couldn’t be “good” on his own. He needed help. He called upon the LORD to assist him in being holy and righteous. Let’s do the same.

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart

    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Abba, as we come to You today linking our lives with others who have given their lives to You, may we sense Your presence in and among us. May we treat each other as fellow children of God, fellow heirs of Your kingdom, and siblings with Jesus Christ Himself. I am honored to go to church today, LORD. Speak to my heart; teach me; allow me to be a blessing to others today. In Your name and Your power and Your presence, amen.

Proverbs 9 11-9-19

November 9, 2019

Are we taking advantage of our time, the internet, and our discretionary time to learn all we can of God and His Word?

9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

The first thing that the wise learn is that they don’t know very much. A humble attitude is necessary in order to learn. The very next verse implies this humility:

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

The “fear” is humility. It’s where we recognize that HE is GOD and WE are NOT. Jesus sits on the throne of the universe and rules; we allow Him to rule our lives. He is bringing all nations and every individual to their knees in acknowledgement of His Lordship. We do so willingly and gladly.

The “knowledge” that we seek is gained by spending TIME with our Lord in prayer, in His Word, in service, and in our daily walk. Our conversations with people are a perfect time to put into practice the traits of Christ: He is loving, peaceful, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and exercises self-control. He is truthful and acts righteously toward everyone. He speaks life to all He meets. WE SHOULD BE LIKE JESUS!

As we imitate the LORD Jesus, we understand more and more the love He has for us, the goodness from which He acts, and we see more of His plan for humanity and our own lives. Most of the time, our lives run slowly concerning our knowledge and understanding of spiritual things. This is actually a good thing! We need time to process and practice before moving to the next lesson. The idea is to learn these lessons the first time around; the tests get harder if we have to take them again–and again.

Let’s put into practice all we know of Christ and ask Him to teach us more about Him, His purpose and plan for us and for our world.

Abba, may we learn from You and then imitate You. Help us to be humble and gentle, patient and kind. Help us to be good, just like YOU. If we accomplished nothing but these traits today, we would be so much like You that people would start asking questions–and want to be like You, too! Isn’t that the point? Work a mighty work in me, O Lord. Amen.

My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice. Ezekiel 33:31-32

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24

 

Proverbs 8 11-8-19

November 8, 2019

Getting people to see reason is impossible. Without the Holy Spirit unveiling their eyes, they simply can’t see.

You who are simple, gain prudence;
    you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.
Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say;
    I open my lips to speak what is right.

When talking to someone about spiritual things, whether it’s the Gospel or Creation, we must always pray for the Spirit to open their eyes to the truth. All of creation gives testimony to God’s existence and power, but Satan has pulled the wool over their eyes in so many ways and in so many areas. Getting people hooked on sin keeps them chained to keeping the sin coming. Giving them alternative beliefs keeps them from searching for the truth.

Jesus calls us sheep. Sheep wander away just because. They are NOT diligent creatures concerning their own safety. They want what they want at the moment, which is grass from that area over there… then, over there…then, over there–until they are lost, caught in briars, fall in a hole, or become prey. WE NEED A SHEPHERD! Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:14).

The veil that is over the hearts of people is their own willful pride. They are unwilling to accept that they are sheep. They would rather trust their own imaginings about right and wrong, origins, who God is and what He will and won’t do, and what is good for them. Not until they are willing to listen to reason will the Holy Spirit lift the veil.

The Apostle Paul talks about this veil in 2 Corinthians 3,

6b for the letter [the Law] kills, but the Spirit gives life.

The Old Sinai Covenant showed us that we cannot be right with God without the Spirit. Its job was to show us our sinful state.

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

The ministry of the Spirit in the New Covenant, which came through Christ: His life, death, resurrection and ascension, is SO MUCH more glorious than the first covenant.

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

We are to present the truth of God’s Word, the Gospel, and Creation and pray for the Spirit to convict their hearts. If they are willing, then the Spirit will lift the veil and they will come to see the truth and come to Christ. Many do; many more do not.

 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate [can gaze upon] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which come from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Verse 18 is the bedrock foundation of our daily walk. Being transformed into His image is what is happening to us everyday! And the Lord receives ever-increasing glory as we do.

Let’s not be afraid to present the truth of the Gospel and Creation to others. Maybe the Spirit will use our humble efforts, our meager lunch, to work a miracle and speak to their hearts.

Abba, I pray that You will give me many opportunities to speak truth. Just one more soul, Lord, just one more soul…Amen.