Proverbs 27 11-27-22

Our Christianity is wrapped up in a relationship with Jesus, who lives in/with us through His Spirit. We have this truth on good authority: The Bible.

16 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. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

I just finished reading a book called, “A Grand Illusion,” by Pastor David Young. It’s about “How progressive Christianity undermines biblical faith.” The first question to answer is, “What is progressive Christianity?”

On page 19 of his introduction, David lists four ways of progressivism:

  1. A rewrite of historic Christianity to accommodate those who want some version of religion and ethics in their lives but who prefer American sensibilities to historic Christianity;
  2. An unnatural way of reading Scripture to make it fit into the prevailing values of the Anglo West;
  3. A less-than-forthright use of the great Christian creeds, where the same words might be said but new North American meanings are applied;
  4. A rereading of Christian history that often understates the great stream of orthodoxy and focuses, instead, on minor Christians streams in support of American progressive particularities.

I’m not as much concerned with people’s bad teaching. What I am concerned with is learning what true teaching is according to the Bible and our Christian heritage. David Young has done a great job of teaching those truths, and I would like to share some of them with you over the next several days.

There are a few things to keep in mind:

  • We are focusing on the truth rather than the counterfeit. People who look for counterfeit money never study counterfeits, but the real deal so that they know a fake when they see one. That’s our goal, too.
  • We never speak of anyone in a derogatory fashion, nor do we defame or dishonor them. Our goal is ALWAYS to show love. If we can’t say something in a loving manner, then we’d better not say it.
  • If you choose to purchase this book and read it, you will come across some quotes by fellow Christians. We must remember that none of us has a monopoly on the truth. They may be wrong in their teaching, but they may not fit the above list of what a progressive is. Go and read/listen to where the quote came from, “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). Let’s not take someone else’s word for what someone said; find out for yourself and compare it to Scripture.

Tomorrow, we will look at what makes Christianity so unique. Hint: It’s about a Person…

Abba, as we enter into this topic of truth vs. heresy, may we enter with a sense of gravity. I have great faith in two things: One is that You pursue everyone to trust in You; two is that, among Christian brothers and sisters, You will make all things clear eventually (Philippians 3:15). May we live up to what we have already attained, and be humble enough to change what we “attained” wrongly.

Proverbs 26 11-26-22

The sure sign of salvation is the presence of the Holy Spirit. Everything else is secondary.

12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:12

You may be saying to yourself, “But that’s Jesus. Where does the Spirit fit into this picture?” To answer that question, we go to 2 Corinthians 3:17, which says,

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Freedom from what? From bondage, from sin, from deception, from self, from death, to name a few. Jesus made a bold claim in John 5:24,

24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

  1. Jesus’ words hold life.
  2. Believing that God sent Jesus to us is necessary in believing Jesus’ words.
  3. The person who believes (trusts in, relies on) Jesus bypasses judgment.
  4. Passing from death to life is the ultimate “fix.” It includes setting the bound free, cutting the sin-entangled loose, clearing the mind of the deceived, turning the selfish outward, and of course, giving life to the dead.

The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Gospel. His truth sets us free (John 8:32, 36). If we could live right here in this truth, we would do great, but that’s not the way of humanity. People add all kinds of things to the truth and weigh it down. They conjure up all kinds of beliefs and pass them off as absolute truth. Even sincere people interpret Scripture differently, differently enough to cause a breach in fellowship.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Instead, let’s do as Paul commanded in Ephesians 4:2-3,

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

We all have the Holy Spirit, so we can trust Him to patiently, gently, slowly, and eventually make all things clear to us (Philippians 3:15-16). If we make it all about Jesus, we don’t have to worry about someone’s salvation when they believe differently about peripherals. Jesus will help us “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and help us to run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

We can do this. Are you ready?

Abba, You have called us to love one another as You have loved us. Help us to see each other as Your beloved children and as fellow siblings. May we stop looking for the things that separate us and start looking for the things that unite us, namely Christ. What a different world it would be if we started loving each other as You love us. Count me in, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 25 11-25-22

When God spoke the universe into existence, some may forget that He created math, physics, calculus, natural laws, and basic science.

11 Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord;
    all the weights in the bag are of his making.
Proverbs 16:11

I was thumbing through my pictures on my phone the other day and ran across this one:

In case you’re wondering what it is, it’s a Mandelbrot Fractal: A fractal is a never-ending pattern integrating infinitely complex shapes that are self-similar across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process in an ongoing feedback loop. The Mandelbrot Set is one of the most well-known fractal sets derived from the works of Benoit Mandelbrot in the 20th century. Check out the fractal video at the bottom of this post.

The Mandelbrot Fractal is yet another nail in the coffin of random evolution. The mathematics behind this fractal are NOT something that can happen accidentally. It takes an intelligent design, a Designer: God.

What’s the point? WE are created by God. Every cell right down to the DNA in every cell was meticulously created with each of us in mind. We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God doesn’t make junk. Remember that today.

Along the same lines, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” Romans 8:16. May we act accordingly today.

Abba, I love Your reminders of who You are and who I am in You. I take great delight in knowing that You chose me to be Yours long before I came into being. May I live up to my “potential” as a child of the King. Thank You for Your Spirit who is transforming me into the image of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Rainbow Drop – Youtube

Proverbs 24 11-24-22

No one can run so far that God will not come looking for us, finding us, freeing us, healing us, and then carrying us home with Him.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.” Luke 15:4-6

As we continue our study of love, today we look at the steadfast love of the Lord,

Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
    test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
    and I walk in your faithfulness.
Psalm 26:2-3

“Steadfast,” “faithful” and “unfailing” are all synonyms. In fact, let’s read this passage from the NIV,

Test me, Lord, and try me,
    examine my heart and my mind;
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
    and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

David wasn’t afraid to have God examine his heart. Why not? I believe it is because he knew that God already knew what was in his heart–and loved him anyway! It’s a great truth for us to know. David was determined to do things God’s way, all the while trusting in the Lord to give him the desire and the power to see it through no matter how many times it took. Here is what James had to say on the matter of steadfastness,

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Paul said something similar,

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

And Peter did, too,

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness [perseverance], and steadfastness [perseverance] with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8

Peter would not have asked us to do something that was impossible. Granted, it is impossible to do it on our own and in our own power. We were never designed like that; we were designed to partner with the Holy Spirit in everything. It is in His strength and by His guidance that we “increase in these qualities.”

We can walk steadfastly because God walks with us steadfastly. He knows our hearts and guides us accordingly. We can trust Him. Let’s ask Him everything; there’s nothing too small or insignificant. If we get into the habit of checking with the Lord for small things, we will automatically check with Him for big things. And, we have this promise, ““One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much (Luke 16:10). One more verse:

13 if we are faithless,
    he remains faithful,
    for he cannot disown himself [deny His own nature].

2 Timothy 2:13

Abba, we love You all the more because of Your faithfulness to us. Even when we don’t earn it or deserve it, “Faithful” is who You are. In fact, Your name is “Faithful and True” (Revelation 19:11). In our quest to be like You, may we be more determined than ever to be faithful to Your call on our lives. Amen.

Proverbs 23 11-23-22

Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Why? Because they were dirty from walking on the road. He wants to wash our feet, too, for walking in this world.

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, John 13:10

Life is messy. Relationships are messy. Jesus never asked us to keep ourselves clean, but to keep ourselves holy. But, even if we fail to keep ourselves holy, He promises to help us get that way again. Rather than being afraid of becoming unholy, we need to focus on what He has asked us to do. So what if we mess up? We mess up all the time already. We might as well mess up trying to do the right thing. And, boy, have I done some lulu’s! Yet, here I am still serving the Lord.

Let’s look at a teaching of Jesus when He was instructing His disciples. He and three of His disciples had just come down from the Mount of Transfiguration and found the other disciples arguing with a man. They couldn’t drive out the evil spirit in his son. Jesus did. Then,

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:19-20
29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer. Mark 9:29

There are a couple of things to derive from this passage:

  1. Faith as small as a mustard seed means that we will try. All Jesus asks is that we try. He will then empower us (with His holy Spirit), teach us (how to be like Him), rebuke us (when we go too far), correct us (when we have it wrong), train us (for the next time), refine us (getting rid of any foreign material), sharpen us (to hone us), and encourage us as we work toward holiness, purity and righteousness (all godly traits).
  2. Prayer entails interaction with the Father through the Son by way of the Holy Spirit. It’s a relationship built on communication. We were never meant to move mountains or cast out demons by ourselves; neither were the disciples. It’s always been a dual effort. Jesus’ yoke (Matthew 11:28-30) is made for two people, you and Him.

Let’s quit worrying about our holiness and be about the Father’s business. Rather than segregate, let’s unify over Christ and His message for the world.

Abba, when will we learn that drawing unhealthy boundaries instills fear in folks, both those on the inside as well as those on the outside? I like Your message so much better: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Help me make every effort, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 22 11-22-22

To parse means to analyze something to discover its implications or uncover a deeper meaning. It’s what we do to verses.

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

One of my favorite passages about love is Philippians 1:9-11,

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

I have heard grace imagined as a waterfall under which we step in order to receive all that we need from God. Let’s see what we can “parse” in this passage:

  • The more we know of God, the more of His love we know; the more of His love we know, the deeper our insight into God. The word, “abound,” draws the picture of abundance, as in a waterfall that nearly knocks us down. Now, THAT’S grace!
  • The ability to discern comes from our attenuation to the Spirit. We must be tuned in and listening in order to sense the nudges and warnings of the Spirit. In order to be tuned in, we must be pure and blameless–speaking of which…
  • Being pure and blameless has to do with being current with God in thought and attitude. Have we let something slide that is keeping us from seeking His face? Are we up-to-date in our prayer life concerning temptations, feelings, habits, relationships, and numerous other things that can spin out of control in a hurry? By the way, purity and blamelessness are awarded to us via grace as we stand under the waterfall and “put on the new self created in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).
  • The day of Christ can be many things. In this instance, the day of Christ is everyday. Christ is in us, so the conviction of the Spirit comes to us instantly. We either react in the flesh or respond according to the Spirit. Look at Romans 8:11-13,
    • 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
    • 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
    • 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
  • Filled with the fruit of righteousness is easy: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control come to mind (Galatians 5:22-23) as well as truth (Ephesians 5:9). They all come through our relationship with Christ. His Spirit grows them in us!
  • It is all to the glory and praise of God the Father.

Know that I pray Philippians 1:9-11 for you. I ask that you pray it for me.

Abba, once again I lift up this passage as a prayer for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. As we seek You daily, walk in step with you consistently, and obey you immediately, we trust that You are making us pure and blameless. May we serve You today, Abba, as we stand under Your waterfall of grace that comes from Your throne. Amen.

Proverbs 21 11-21-22

“God is good,” means: He is compassionate, merciful, patient, abounding in truth and forgiving of sins yet leaving consequences intact.

The Lord God, compassionate, merciful, longsuffering, abounding in mercy and true, preserving righteousness and showing mercy unto thousands, taking away lawlessness, wrongdoing, and sins; and He will not clear the guilty, visiting the lawlessness of the fathers [consequences] upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation [until they recognize that lawlessness and correct it].” Exodus 34:6-7 LXX

The other morning, I received a response to one of my posts. The person is a friend of mine in a different city and has his own “flock” to which he tends. I asked his permission to share his response; he said yes, so here it is:

Amen, this is very much in line with what I’ve been praying this morning as well. To live in Agape to those around me. Loving them even when they are hating me. Lord Jesus, thank You that Your Spirit is in us teaching us and leading us.

Mission and Purpose
What is our mission and purpose as disciples of Christ? When I was in the Marine Corps I liked the term disciples of pain. Physical suffering and suffering in silence together with a team that fought through whatever obstacles to achieve the mission.
Translate that to living by the power of the Holy Spirit to love my wife and kids when they aren’t loving me. Loving my neighbors and people who curse me and hate me. Praying and allowing others to have their preference over mine, to will the good for others in a selfless love. Agape.
Mission, spread the good news. Shine in a world of darkness, be salt that adds a flavor that everyone wants, joyfully living in death so others will see only Christ through me. Yes Lord, I forsake all to follow you, but that doesn’t mean neglecting responsibilities, it means forsaking all my selfishness, fleshly desires and appetites for sin. Make me a warrior that can truly live in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Not just empty words and false pretense. Truly entering into this relationship with You that will transform my life and the lives of everyone around me because it’s just You.

As we can see, my friend has gained the understanding of 2 Corinthians 5:14-15,

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

There it is, “those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him.” This phrase captures the very essence of the mission of Christ. He did the same for us so that we could reciprocate to Him. It’s a mutual submission. Yes, He is Lord, King of the universe, but He is also our Friend and Guide, our Comforter and Counselor. He is our Advocate,

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26

My dad had an advocate when he was in the hospital. This advocate made sure he was receiving the best care, that his insurance was picking up the tab, and when the time came, saw that he was moved to Hospice. The Holy Spirit is all that and more! He guides us into all truth, He reminds us of everything Jesus said (whether we were there to hear it or not–we can read much of it in the Gospels), He warns us when we are thinking of straying, and loves us as His own. Why would anyone NOT want to live for Him?

Abba, I pray for us all that we would hear from You today. May You impress upon us the need to read Your Word and to commit it to memory (if not the exact wording, then the paraphrase version with the CIT*), not only perceiving what it means, but putting it into action in our lives. When we do, You take the initiative! If we want You to work in our lives so that we can perceive You (to feel You in us and know that You are really there), then the best thing for us to do is put Your Word to work in our lives. You will take it from there. May it be so in my life. Amen.

*CIT- Central Idea of the Text

Proverbs 20 11-20-22

Jesus gave His disciples a new command to “love one another.” What does that look like in our lives?

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

If you ever wonder if this command is important and if it was taken seriously by Jesus’ disciples, consider these verses:

Paul to the Romans- Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

Peter to his flock- 22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1:22

John to his flock- 11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 1 John 3:11
23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7
11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. 2 John 5

The answer? Yes, they took it very seriously. Notice how many times John uses the phrase in his letters. So, how do we love? We looked at “Love is patient, love is kind” yesterday. Let’s look at the next three:

Love is not envious- Envy begins with looking around us at where others are and what they have and wanting more. Where covetousness is wanting what someone has and them not having it, envy comes very close to it. It creates discontent with what we have or don’t have. Instead, we are to give glory to God for where we are and what we have or have not, trusting Him for what we need in order to bring Him glory. Note: See Season 3, Episode 2 of The Chosen for a great teaching on this subject.

Love does not boast, it is not proud- We will take both of these together. To hate someone, as in Matthew 5:43, means, “to detest, persecute, love (esteem) less.” We understand “detest” and “persecute,” but to “esteem less” doesn’t really compute to us in America. Let me explain: To “esteem less” is to hold someone in contempt, or to deem not worthy of our love and care, patience and kindness. Anytime we dismiss someone as undeserving or unworthy, we “esteem less.” Boasting requires us to “esteem less” in order to hold our position higher than someone else, and it takes pride to do it. If we truly want to be like Jesus and love like Him, we need to rid ourselves of boasting and pride. OUCH!

As we worship today in our respective churches, ask the Lord to reveal any areas of pride, envy, or “esteeming less.” Repent–turn around and think differently–and make amends even before you offer your gift of praise on the altar (Matthew 5:23-24). You’ll be glad you did.

Abba, may we all be aware of our pride and boasting. To think that I know more than my brother is a type of condescension, in which I hold them in contempt and “esteem them less.” May I be all about “the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” that Paul talks about in Ephesians 4:3. I want to worship You in Spirit and in truth today with clean hands and a pure heart. Amen.

Proverbs 19 11-19-22

Loving people God’s way is difficult. Actually, it’s impossible without His help. Good news! He offers it freely!

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:25

As we discuss the following “how-to’s” of loving our fellow humans, there are two things we need to establish right away:

  1. I have just as difficult a time actually doing them as the next guy;
  2. The basis for success with any of them is Ephesians 6:13b, “and after you have done everything, to stand.”

As we walk through 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, we must remember that perseverance is vital. We must never give up.

The story goes of the two frogs that fell into a pale of cream. They swam and swam until one of them gave up and “croaked.” The other swore to never give up and eventually was able to climb out of the pail. How? Because he created butter by swimming in the cream!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

  1. Love is patient- Patience by definition means, “quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence.” I believe it is more than just being even-tempered. Many people, because of temperament, are even-tempered. I also believe that it’s more than perseverance. Most people can endure anything for a season. Diligence, though, is a different matter. Being diligent requires me to stay at it and to do it right, which is God’s way. I know I can’t do it forever in my own power; I need HELP! And that’s exactly what the Holy Spirit gives me in my life. I’ve even learned to be quiet on occasion (by thinking of what I want to say and then not saying it). Jesus was patient; in Him, we can be patient.
  2. Love is kind- Kindness is channeled from one person to another. It comes from a desire to help another soul. Compassion accompanies kindness, and in most cases, precedes it. Kindness can be inherent or learned, but in all cases, it is practiced, and it takes a lot of patience. Jesus was kind; in Him, we can be kind.

We will look at some others tomorrow. In the meantime, let’s practice being patient and kind with everyone. If we start with those around us (family, close friends, co-workers) we will get the most practice and the greatest pay-off. Be diligent; don’t waste even one opportunity!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would have Your compassion for those around them. May they show love through being patient and kind to everyone–even themselves. You love us all dearly; You have made that abundantly clear through Jesus. Please, Abba, conform us to the image of Your Son. Amen.

Proverbs 18 11-18-22

Determining what is a loving act and what is not is vital to living a Christ-like life.

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

Building on this theme, Paul continues,

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothingIf I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Paul is building on the teaching of Jesus that to love God above all else is borne out in how we treat our fellow humans, His children (in the sense that we are all created by Him). To speak to another individual in a condemning manner or with contempt belittles that person and makes the speaker the judge of that person. Jesus said not to do that,

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. Luke 6:37

Notice the third part of this verse, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” We all must realize that we stand in need of forgiveness from the Father. He is ready to pour out His forgiveness on those who are in a position to receive that forgiveness. If we take a stance of judgment against our brother or sister, we bow up our backs and make ourselves hard. We are “out of position” to receive His forgiveness, which are mercy and grace. Jesus said it again,

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15

Contemptuous attitudes segregate people into groups, which is a type of pecking order, or caste system. We have the “haves” and the “have nots.” Jesus would have none of it. This worldly way of thinking is not for the child of God. We are to love everyone as fellow children of God (in the sense of all being created by Him) and as potential brothers and sisters in Christ. Even their sin cannot separate us from them if they are working to allow Christ to free them from bondage–as we all are.

Rather than segregating everyone into “groups,” let’s work on everyone being united in Christ, making “every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). We have “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (4:6).

Abba, when will we learn that You want us to love each other? I don’t think the problem is our wanting to love; I think it’s about HOW to love. As we look at the rest of 1 Corinthians 13, help us to see that loving others IS loving You. Amen.

Proverbs 17 11-17-22

People who know Christ have the Spirit of Christ in them. Listening and heeding that Spirit is a learned thing. Let’s get busy!

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:24-25

God is Spirit (John 4:24) and God is love (1 John 4:8). God and Jesus are one (John 10:30) and Jesus is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). So, when Paul says that Christ’s love compelled them, he was saying that the Spirit in them (1 Corinthians 3:16) was compelling them,

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

How shall we live? As Christ did: Loving God and loving others even when they are unlovable–especially when they are unlovable!

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48

Note: the perfection mentioned here means, “whole, complete, well-rounded.” We would be putting on the “new self that is created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).

  • Responding in a loving manner when being attacked verbally is showing godly love;
  • Not striking back when physically attacked is showing godly love;
  • Refusing to get angry with someone who is confrontational is showing godly love;
  • Treating others–even our children and spouses–like we would like to be treated is showing godly love!

I’m sure we could fill the page with examples of showing godly love. The idea is to do it. In order to do it, we must be in touch and in step with the Spirit. He is the One who gives us first the desire and then the power to do His will, which is for us to show godly love. It’s our goal, anyway.

Abba, showing Your love takes great self-restraint and maturity–both of which I have little. May You increase both of them even if it means having opportunities to practice them. I want to be like You, Lord. May it be so. Amen.

Proverbs 16 11-16-22

What does a person have to do for you to trust him? Time + believable behavior? God has put in the time and the believable behavior!

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

“For God so loved the world…(John 3:16). Have you ever wondered how much He loved? First of all, although it’s written in past tense, it is present tense, as well. God is Omnipresent, which means that He is everywhere at the same time–speaking of time, it’s included. God is ever-present in history. He sees everyone who ever lived or will live at the same “time.” Mind-blowing, right?! As I see it, John put the verse in past tense because Jesus’ coming was past tense. But, God’s love for us is as strong as ever.

By the way, Him being able to “know the end from the beginning” allows Him to know when we will finally quit that bad habit, or finally forgive someone (or ourselves). He rejoices in our final victory. It’s why God cannot be disappointed in us. He calls us His little children for a reason: We are all growing (Ephesians 4:16).

The verse gives the impression that God and Jesus are separate entities. Not So! They are God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit, Three-in-one. Don’t believe me? Philip didn’t. He asked Jesus to show them the Father. Here is Jesus’ response,

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
John 14:8-10

God loved us enough to come after us–as Jesus. Now, the parable of the lost sheep makes sense,

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:3-7

The next time that someone–a “friend,” an adversary, the devil, your past, your sin nature–tells you that you are not worth saving, check out John 3:16,

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, 
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Do you believe in Him? He believes in you. Do you trust Him? He trusts you. When we trust Christ, He gives us His life, which is Himself in the form of the Spirit. We receive eternal life the moment we trust Jesus. There’s no way to lose! Let’s trust Jesus from now on, shall we?

Abba, I trust You. The more I trust You, the more trustworthy You are, which makes me want to trust You even more! It’s a wondrous cycle, one in which I want to be “stuck” forever. Oh, I can? Thank You! Amen.

Tomorrow: Trusting requires “No Fear.”

Proverbs 15 11-15-22

Love really is the key to everything. If we could just learn how to love like Jesus did, we would be just like God.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

If you are wondering about my statement that we would be just like God, it’s a simple matter of 2+2=4. John told what God is like in 1 John 4,

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

If God is love, and Jesus is God, then to love like Jesus is to love like God. And, it’s the very thing that Jesus told us to do. Love is what is attractive about the Gospel.

Even God’s justice is based on love. He loves us so much that He is willing to allow us to go our own way rather than force us to love Him (it’s called free will). If someone chooses to have nothing to do with Him, God will honor his decision–never mind that the person is breathing God’s air, walking on His ground, and living in a body He created! And, God will allow him to walk into eternity and continue to have nothing to do with Him–although, the consequences of that choice will be far worse than we can imagine.

We are going to camp on this concept of godly love for a while. For today, let’s ask God to show us His love. It may come from His Word, from Him in prayer, through a friend, and even through an adversary. Let’s look for Him to reveal His love to us. In the meantime, let’s show love to others in every way we can think of.

Abba, showing Your love often means that I have to disregard how I feel about someone or a situation. So be it. You never said that love is a feeling, but an action, which You proved every day Jesus walked this earth–and beyond! If I am really interested in being Your ambassador on this earth, I need to learn how to love. Teach me, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 14 11-14-22

Jesus told us like it is, but He quoted a lot of the Old Testament. Maybe we should go take a look…?

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. Matthew 7:28-29

When reading Scripture, the thing to remember is, “keep the main thing the main thing.” But, what is the main thing? How do we find it? The best way is to look back into the Old Testament and see if there is a reference to what is going on in the New Testament. One fulfills the other, right?

Take John 2:13-22, for instance,

[13] When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. [14] In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. [15] So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. [16] To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”
[17] His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
[18] Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
[19] Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
[20] The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” [21] But the temple he had spoken of was his body. [22] After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

Jesus called the temple His body and His body the temple, which is “biblical topology” (the study of how passages relate to each other). He gave us the true spiritual connection of God and mankind. It was never about a building, but about the relationship. 

Originally, when David sought to build a temple for the Lord, God answered,

[5] “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? [6] I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. [7] Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’” 2 Samuel 7:5-7

God didn’t need a building, and the disciples knew this. But, because the disciples remembered these words of Jesus to the Pharisees, they believed the Scripture—as Jesus interpreted them, as well as all the words that Jesus had spoken to them (John 14:23, for example), which leads us to:

Rules for reading the Bible:

  1. Typology is a key factor; look for a correlation in the Old Testament to the New Testament.
  2. We are to interpret OT according to Jesus. He IS the Word. Whatever He says, goes.
  3. It’s all about relationship; let’s keep the main thing the main thing.

Abba, Your Word is deep–deeper than we can ever fathom–but it’s also straightforward. You don’t obscure truth; it’s there for us to find. I can’t help but think of Proverbs 25:2, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” It’s something You do with us: We discover truth as You reveal it to us. We should never forget that we are very small children to You. Thank You for loving us as a Father. Amen.

Proverbs 12 11-12-22

Applying Scripture to our lives is not as difficult as it may seem, but it can be unpleasant.

God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. 1 Corinthians 1:9

We began yesterday looking at Psalm 139:23-24, which said,

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

In these verses, we used two exercises to help us apply them to our lives,

  1. We looked at several different translations;
  2. We used synonyms for many of the words;

Today, we will apply the exercise of substitution. “Substitution” is when we find other words that are not synonyms, but are still applicable to the verse. Let’s look at the word, “offensive.” We are asking God to search and know our hearts and thoughts; we want Him to find anything that is offensive; the conclusion of the last line is that we want God to help us overcome these offensive attributes in our lives as He leads us in the Way of His Truth, which leads to eternal Life. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). What are some other offensive attributes?

  • Stubborn,
  • Willfull,
  • Doubting,
  • Hateful,
  • Irritating,
  • Misdirected,
  • Insincere,
  • Selfish,
  • Arrogant,
  • Sinful,
  • _______ (fill in the blanks)
  • _______
  • _______

In all of these, we need the help of the Holy Spirit in order to get beyond them. He wants to help! It’s not like He’s going, “I wish he’d hurry up and grow up.” His whole goal is to help us mature. It’s a process called “sanctification.” He enjoys the process–even if we don’t. Why? Because He’s doing it WITH us. We are His kids and He loves us.

Let’s remember that it is Him in us that makes us like God. Here is a passage to remember,

27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim Him, teaching and admonishing everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ29 To this end I labor, striving with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me [through the Holy Spirit]. Col. 1:27-30

Abba, I know You are in me working. The first thing You changed was my desires; I now want what You want, which is holiness and righteousness and peace. You want love to be first and foremost in our lives; so do I. Now, Father, bring to completion what You have begun in us (Philippians 1:6). Amen.

Proverbs 11-11-22

Want to be daring? Give God permission to search your heart and mind. It is quite revealing!

20 But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously,
Who tests the feelings and the heart (mind), Jeremiah 11:20
But You, O Lord, know me [and understand my devotion to You];
You see me; and You examine the attitude of my heart toward You. Jeremiah 12:3
AMP

Yesterday, we looked at Psalm 73. Today, we will look at Psalm 139, particularly the last two verses,

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

There are several exercises I do with verses. One is to look at several different translations. That one was the NIV. Here are some others:

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
Put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there is any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
NASB

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts![a]
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting![b
] ESV

a. Psalm 139:23 Or cares
b. Psalm 139:24 Or in the ancient way (compare Jeremiah 6:16)

The Amplified Version says, “Search me thoroughly…” As we can see, there are several adverbs and adjectives that can be interchanged.

Another exercise I like is to substitute as many other fitting subjects that can help me be more godly (like God), such as, “Search.” I might substitute, “scrutinize,” “study,” examine,” or even “refine.” Each word adds a texture or layer to the verse. “Anxious” is another good one. I might substitute, “worrisome,” “doubting,” “stressed,” “overloaded,” or even “duplicitous!” We could do the same with “hearts,” “know,” “thoughts,” “see,” “lead” and “everlasting way.”

Tomorrow, we will deal with “grievous,” “hurtful, and “offensive.”

Abba, each morning when I read these verses, I am aware of You, Your love, and Your care. I want to be just like You, and the only way I know how is to allow You to know and command my thoughts and ways. “Have Thine own way, Lord, have Thine own way.” Amen.

Proverbs 10 11-10-22

Everyone needs a life mantra, something that acts as a North Star for him. Mine is a passage from the Bible, Psalm 73:23-26.

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

This psalm was written by a fellow named Asaph. He was one of the priests who led worship for King David. The first part of this psalm is about how good people suffer and bad people prosper. Sound familiar? Me, too! The key to the psalm is in the middle:

16 But when I thought how to understand this,
    it seemed to me a wearisome task [“what’s the use?”],
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
    then I discerned their end.

What Asaph needed was a Godly perspective. They would not get away with things forever. In the words of Paul, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Asaph lists what will happen to them, and then he deals with his own heart,

21 When my heart was grieved
    and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
    I was a brute beast before you.

Asaph, was saying, “This is how I must look to God.” And yet, he pens these words,

Awareness
23 Yet, I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.

The Walk
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me to glory.

Praise
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

Dependence
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

I have adopted this passage as my life mantra. I read/quote it every morning. I allow it to guide my life. I am aware of God and His presence within me; He walks with me through the day guiding me with His counsel in sweet fellowship; I praise Him for who He is; I look forward to moving from this house/body to His house and my new body.

Do you have a life mantra? I recommend finding a Scripture verse/passage that speaks your heart and life. In the meantime, how about using mine? I have made a QR in order for you to find it easily. I’ll send the link separately.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will find a verse or passage that speaks their heart and life. I know that if they will read Your Word, that You will draw them to one, one that speaks Your heart to them, as well. In my passage, I see Your love and Your patience with me. I love Your guidance because it means conversation, and of course, I love the promise that I will get to be with You in glory. I can hardly wait, O Lord! Amen.

Proverbs 9 11-9-22

Mankind, by ourselves, cannot save ourselves. We need a Savior. Jesus is that Savior!

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

Several weeks ago, I did a series of posts on the Baptist Faith and Message. In the third section on “Man,” I errantly left out any discussion about the state of mankind spiritually and jumped directly into what God thinks of us (see Proverbs 11 9-11-22). Today, I would like to amend that little oversite with comment and a portion taken from a more recent post (see Proverbs 29 10-29-22). First, the BF&M:

III. Man

Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.

Genesis 1:26-302:5,7,18-2239:6Psalms 18:3-632:1-551:5Isaiah 6:5Jeremiah 17:5Matthew 16:26Acts 17:26-31Romans 1:19-323:10-18,235:6,12,196:67:14-258:14-18,291 Corinthians 1:21-3115:19,21-22Ephesians 2:1-22Colossians 1:21-223:9-11.

Mankind can be described as depraved, which means, “corrupt, wicked, or perverted.” We have taken a bite out of the poison apple (to borrow a phrase from “Snow White), and have been corrupted by evil desires (2 Peter 1:3-4). We are wicked in that we do not consider God in any of our decisions, nor do we include Him in our lives. We are perverted in thinking that it’s all about us and our feelings, cravings, fears, and desires (1 John 2:16). We are enemies of God and alienated from Him by choice (Colossians 1:21). We are turned away from Him and turned to darkness (John 3:19). We are at odds with God.

There are three analogies that speak to the human condition:

  1. The courtroom scene- We each have sinned against a holy God and can not longer stand in His holy presence in our current condition. We need cleansing. Christ’s blood washes us clean and we are once again welcome at the throne of grace (2 Corinthians 5:21Romans 8:1-21 John 1:8).
  2. The hospital emergency room- With sin came sickness to our eyes, our bodies, and our souls. Jesus demonstrated this fact throughout His ministry by healing the body and the soul. In Jesus, we are healed and whole (Mark 2:3-12Mark 2:17Luke 4:18).
  3. The rescue operation- Sin binds, it addicts, and it controls. Jesus came to break our bonds, pull us out of our addiction to sin, and to wrest control from the one who controls us (Satan). In Jesus, we find FREEDOM (Matthew 12:28-29Romans 7:24-25Hebrews 2:14-15)!

But, none of this caught God off-guard. His love for us goes beyond anything we can do, think, see or say. He proved that love on a cross, and died to rise again, thus offering us the gift of life in Him. Aren’t we glad?!

It’s not about us, yet it is. He loves us and has made it all about our salvation. He wants us back! Look at the extent He went through to get us back:

  • Leaving His glory in heaven,
  • Limiting Himself to a human body,
  • Living in the dust of this world with all kinds of people,
  • Dying at the hands of arrogant men,
  • Rising again to new life, and
  • Ascending back to His throne in heaven.

Let’s make life all about Him, shall we?

Abba, it is always good to go back and look at our starting place so that we can see how far we have come by Your mercy and Your grace. In the words of the old Imperials song,

Keep on walkin’
You don’t know how far you’ve come
Keep on walkin’
For all you know it may be done
And the Father
Might be standin’ up right now
To give the call and end it all
So keep on walkin’

Keep On Walkin

I intend to. Amen.

Proverbs 8 11-8-22

Overcoming how we feel in the “heat of the moment” is important for followers of Jesus. Somehow, we must learn to control our mouths…

I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.” Psalm 39:1

An interesting phenomenon happens when I open my mouth to speak. I am reminded by the Spirit that I will be held accountable for every word I speak, whether good or bad. This concept comes from the verse in Matthew 12:36,

36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.

To be clear, how I use the verse and its original intent are not the same. Nor is the “day of judgment” referring to Christ’s return or us standing before Him in heaven. To know its true intent, we must look back at verse 31-32,

31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

The key word in verse 36 is “empty,” which refers to those who speak against the Holy Spirit. Jesus was referring to His day of judgment when the rulers crucified Him. He reveals their hidden intent in verses 34-35,

34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

As for the words we speak, Jesus said in verse 37, “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Paul tells us how to be acquitted by our words,

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9-10

It is this truth to which Jesus was referring in verses 31 and 32. As for the time of judgment, we see that time in the following verses,

39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here [the Gospel is greater than Jonah’s message to which the Ninevites listened and repented]42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here [the Gospel is greater than Solomon’s wisdom].

Since that judgment has come and gone, and the Holy Spirit now lives in each of us who has invited Him in, we receive the judgment of our words as we say them–sometimes, even before we say them! The conviction of the Spirit is immediate in most cases. I am learning to hear His voice BEFORE I say the wrong thing, and to consider how to say something before blurting out something that has not been run through the filters of the Spirit based upon Ephesians 4:29:

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

  1. Is what I am about to say unwholesome in any way?
  2. Is it helpful to the person or situation?
  3. Does it build up according to their needs?
  4. Does it benefit those who listen?

The one thing we don’t want to do is “grieve the Holy Spirit by whom we are sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). Let’s bring joy to our Savior’s heart by being godly in how we use our words.

Abba, I still mess up, but I’m learning! I know that in order to control my mouth, I must control my mind. I have the mind of Christ in me; help me to access it! Thank You, Holy Spirit, for never giving up on me. Amen.

Proverbs 7 11-7-22

How closely aligned to the world are we? Do we stand out in this world? Are we enough like Christ for people to tell the difference?

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. James 4:4

One of the most glaring recriminations that Israel committed is described in Jeremiah 7:17-19,

LXX- 16 Do you not see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 17 Their sons gather wood, and their fathers kindle the fire, while their women knead cake dough for the host of heaven [pagan gods]; and they pour out drink offerings to foreign gods to provoke Me to anger. 18 Do they provoke Me to wrath? says the Lord. “Do they not provoke themselves to the shame of their own faces?”

MAS- 17 Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough to make sacrificial cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods in order to provoke Me to anger. 19 Are they provoking Me?” declares the Lord. “Is it not themselves instead, to their own shame?”

The entire family was involved in worshiping the gods of the land. If we read further, we find that they were mixing these offerings with their offerings to the Lord at the temple,

LXX- 21 Thus says the Lord: “For I did not speak to your fathers, nor command them concerning whole burnt offerings and sacrifices in the day I brought them o the and of Egypt. 22 But I commanded them this word, saying, ‘Listen to My voice, and I will be to you as God, and you shall be to Me as a people. Walk in all My ways I commanded you, that it may be well with you. 23 Yet they did not hear Me and did not attend their ear. Instead, they walked in the devices of their heart and went backward, not forward.

MAS- 22 For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them on the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you shall walk entirely in the way which I command you, so that it may go well for you.’ 24 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked by their own advice and in the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and they went backward and not forward.

Their continued rejection of God’s commands ultimately reaped the whirlwind. Was it God’s doing, His wrath? In an indirect way, yes. Because of the consequences of sin and death, the sin nature pervades all of humanity and nature. God’s commands were designed to help us avoid much of the natural consequences of living in this world. His commands were also designed to foster a relationship between God and each person. Some did, but most didn’t.

If we only understood that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30), we would trust Him with our lives. He wants only the best for us, which includes a walking, talking, active relationship with Him. He wants to do things WITH us, and to create anew with us. The synthesis between each of us and the Spirit is new! The Father is guaranteed worth getting to know.

Abba, You know our hearts. We would never turn to You were it not for Your sacrifice and Your Spirit calling out to each of us. May we all respond to Your call, accept Your invitation to join You, and receive You into our lives. Daily. Amen.

Proverbs 6 11-6-22

Two different translations of the Old Testament, separated by 1300 years, yet so much alike. Even their differences have meaning!

27 Cause me to understand the way of your precepts,
    that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds. Psalm 119:27

There are several reasons listed in Jeremiah 7 for Israel’s demise. Let’s look at the first one:

LXX- 7 “But if you trust in lying words from which you cannot profit, 8 and you murder, commit adultery, steal, swear to do wrong, burn incense to Baal, and walk after foreign gods you do not know so as to do evil,9 and come and stand before Me in the house wherein My name is called and say, ‘We have not abstained from doing all these abominations,’ 10 then is this house, called by My name, a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I have seen it.”

MAS- 8 “But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. 9 ‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”–safe to do all these detestable things? 11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching!’ declares the LORD.”

There are some differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic texts.

  1. The first one is the numbering of the verses. There is a difference in interpretation in the first and second verses.
  2. The next one is what the priests say when they stand before God in the temple. In the LXX, it seems that the priests were arrogant about their sins. In the MAS, it seems the priests were deceived in their “holy acts.” Either way, they were wrong!
  3. The phrase “den of robbers” may have been a cultural phrase used in that day. It gives the impression that they can do what they want and God will not see. They should have taken to heart Psalm 94:7-11,

They say, “The Lord does not see;
    the God of Jacob takes no notice.”

Take notice, you senseless ones among the people;
    you fools, when will you become wise?
Does he who fashioned the ear not hear?
    Does he who formed the eye not see?
10 Does he who disciplines nations not punish?
    Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge?
11 The Lord knows all human plans;
    he knows that they are futile.

Another place that gives us perspective for the phrase, “den of robbers,” is Malachi 3:8-10,

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.

All of a sudden, Jesus’ cleansing of the temple makes more sense! If Jesus was equating the Israel of His day to the Israel of Jeremiah’s day, then Jesus was acting out the “den of robbers” illustration and likening them to the wicked rulers of Jeremiah’s day–with the same consequences! What was it that Jesus said His house was to be called? “My house will be called a house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13). Sounds noble, doesn’t it? But wait until you read the verses BEFORE the verse He quoted,

For this is what the Lord says:
To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
    who choose what pleases me
    and hold fast to my covenant—
to them I will give within my temple and its walls
    a memorial and a name
    better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
    that will endure forever.
And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
    to minister to him,
to love the name of the Lord,
    and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
    and who hold fast to my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain
    and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
    a house of prayer for all nations
.”

Isaiah 56:4-7

Did you catch the references? “To the eunuchs”: they were considered unclean and not allowed in the temple area. “And foreigners”: they were only allowed as far as the outer court, which the leaders had turned into a marketplace! Jesus quoted a portion of verse 7, and didn’t finish the whole thought. I believe that He wanted them to finish it in their heads! “For all nations” would have really ticked them off. Jesus was, indeed, bringing a New Covenant that was for all people, just like the angel described it in Luke 2:10, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people [nations].”

Tomorrow, we will look at yet another reason for Israel’s apostasy.

Abba, it never ceases to amaze me how accurate the Old Testament was in its prophecies and in its direct correlation to the New Testament and history. May I always be a student of Your Word. Amen.

Proverbs 5 11-5-22

Free will is a big deal. It’s what makes us like God.

19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Deuteronomy 30:19-20

When God (Elohim)* created mankind, it was in their image. Mankind was given free will.

Then God [Elohim] said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” Genesis 1:26.

Our free will gives us the ability to choose who we worship. Will it be God or something else? We might be tempted to say, “ourselves,” but when we serve ourselves, we wind up serving Satan, for he is the “god” of pleasure. Knowing that Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10a), we now know why God calls us to follow Him. He gives life in abundance (John 10:10b).

The concept of free will and God’s refusal to breach ours is revealed in Jeremiah . Let’s look at several passages from both the Septuagint (LXX) and the Masoretic (MAS) texts:

LXX- 7:3 Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Amend your ways and your practices, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.”

MAS- 7:3 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.

The Lord was telling the people of Judah to repent, and that if they did, He would make it so they could stay in the land of Israel rather than get carted off to Babylon. We know that they didn’t repent, and Jeremiah gives us the reasons why they didn’t:

LXX- 5:23 But this people has an inattentive and disobedient heart. They turned aside and departed [from social justice].

MAS- 5:23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away [from social justice].

LXX- 6:10 To whom shall I speak and testify? Will it be heard? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, and they cannot hear. Behold, the word of the Lord was an insult to them, and they do not wish to hear it.

MAS- 6:10 To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.

LXX- 6:28 They all are inattentive and walk perversely. They are bronze and iron, and all have corrupted themselves.

MAS- 6:28 They are all hardened rebels, going about to slander. They are bronze and iron; they all act corruptly.

LXX- 7:18 “Do they provoke Me to wrath?” says the Lord. “Do they not provoke themselves to the shame of their own faces?”

MAS- 7:19 “But am I the one they are provoking?” declares the Lord. “Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?”

Both versions have the same CIT (central idea of the text), but each says it a little differently. The conclusion we draw is that the Israelites brought their destruction upon themselves. Tomorrow, we will look at two of the reasons for their demise.

Abba, keep stretching and growing us. I know this study may seem tedious, but it has opened my eyes to seeing Your Word on a larger scale. May I never take for granted all that Your Word has endured. I want life, Your life, Lord Jesus. You are the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6), therefore, I will study Your Word, for You are the Word (John 1:14), and “Your Word is Truth” (John 17:17). Amen.

Proverbs 4 11-4-22

Opening our minds requires looking beyond our customary boundaries. But, everything needs to run through the filter of God’s Spirit and His Word.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

How do we test the spirits? We compare them to Jesus. What we know about Jesus determines how we compare what we hear and read. For instance, John says to see if what we are testing confesses that Jesus came from heaven and God to earth in human form. Is He Emmanuel, which means, “God with us?” Or, do they posit that Jesus was a man who became God through righteous acts and the sacrifice of his life? It’s a big deal foundationally, because Jesus was God on earth who gave His life for us. We couldn’t save ourselves, so He did it for us. God is good, all the time. We need not worry about His wrath because He stepped in and took the consequence of our sin on Himself, i.e. death. There IS no wrath (spiritual death) for those who trust Jesus.

To take the erroneous position to its end would be to say that we all can save ourselves if we live right and give our lives for something good. Sounds “Old Testament,” doesn’t it? What did Paul have to say about that?

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 3:20

We can’t be saved by our works, so their argument doesn’t hold water. Jesus (God) coming to free us from the wages of sin, which is death (Romans 6:23); this is what we believe and in Whom we place our trust.

Tomorrow, I will share with you what I am learning by reading Jeremiah from both the Septuagint and the Masoretic texts at the same time. Neat stuff! In the meantime, immerse/bathe/submit yourself to His Word in your daily reading time. If you are not reading anywhere right now, I recommend Ephesians or Colossians. The first half of each is doctrine and the second half of each is practical application.

Abba, You are amazing. You have so much You want to show us! May we continue to fill our minds with You and Your Word, and may we consciously listen to Your voice as You speak to us. It may not be audible, but in the words of my brother, Jimmy Cox, “it’s louder than that.” Learning to trust Your voice is what life is all about. “Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus, speak that my soul may hear.”* Amen.

*Hymn, Speak to My Heart

Proverbs 3 11-3-22

There is a LOT of my Christian history that I do not know. How about you?

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Sometimes I don’t understand all I know. I’ve been reading Jeremiah in the Masoretic Old Testament (it’s what most of us have in our bibles) and the Septuagint (it’s what the other side of the world has in theirs). The verses have run pretty much the same so far except for 5:10. Here is 5:10 from both versions:

Septuagint (LXX)- “Go upon her outer fortifications [Jerusalem] and tear them down, but do not ruin them completely. Leave the support foundations, for they belong to the Lord.”

Masoretic- “Go through her vineyards and ravage them, but do not destroy them completely. Strip off her branches, for these people do not belong to the LORD.”

The Septuagint, translated by 70 Jewish scholars in ~300 B.C, and the Masoretic, translated over 300 years from ~700 A.D. to 1054 A.D, had the same CIT (Central Idea of the Text), which was that a remnant would be left in order for Israel to start over. That’s hardly good news to the people of that day! I do believe that God had a hand in their protection during the Diaspora (their Dispersion into Babylon), but at the same time, we need to remember that the prophecy does not drive its fulfillment, but merely states what has been foreseen or foretold. Some of the survivors repented and followed the LORD. They were led back to Jerusalem after 70 years in captivity.

What I find interesting is that the Masoretic version has a much harsher tone than its sister text. “Strip off her branches, for these people do not belong to the LORD,” sounds very much like Paul in Romans 11:19-20, “You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble.” Even then, Paul refers to a remnant of the people of Israel in verse 23, “And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.”

What conclusion can we draw from Jeremiah? The people’s unwillingness to follow the Lord caused their downfall (4:18, 5:3, 19, 23). May we not have the same attitude toward God. How so? By being unwilling to open up our minds and hearts to what the Spirit is saying to His churches (Revelation 2:7, 11,17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22). The word, “churches,” is plural because we need each other.

Abba, I learned about the Septuagint from a brother from another denomination. Thank You for enriching my life with a facet I didn’t even know existed in Your multi-faceted diamond of truth! It makes me wonder what else I don’t know… Show me, O Lord, and lead me into Your truth. “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). Amen.

Proverbs 2 11-2-22

The average couple spends together 3 hours a day for 3.5 years = 3833 hours. The disciples spent ~25,550 hours with Jesus (20 hrs per day).

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2

We would do well to hold the accounts of the apostles very dear. They knew Jesus. They believed His words, His works, and His sacrifice. He spoke of tearing down the Old Covenant and rebuilding it in three days (John 2:19). Jesus was saying, “Put aside the old and welcome the new!” I heard of a fellow who is trying to keep both the New Testament code and the Old Testament laws. It isn’t going very well. Why not? Because one is designed to replace the other. Let’s consider this passage from Hebrews 8,

They [the priests] serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain” (Exodus 25:40). But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.
For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for anotherBut God found fault with the people and said:
“The days are coming, declares the Lord,
    when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
    and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
    I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
    to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
    and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
    after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
    and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
11 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

Why the New Covenant Is Better 

The Old Testament is a record of the nation of Israel struggling—and failing—to keep its covenant with God. The New Testament shows Jesus Christ keeping the covenant for his people, doing what they cannot do.

Theologian Martin Luther called the contrast between the two covenants law vs. gospel. A more familiar name is works vs. grace. While God’s grace frequently broke through in the Old Testament, its presence overwhelms the New Testament. Grace, that free gift of salvation through Christ, is available to any person, not just Jews, and asks only that a person repent of their sins, believe that God sent Jesus, and trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

The New Testament book of Hebrews gives several reasons why Jesus is superior to the old covenant, among them: 

  • Jesus is superior to Moses as a mediator;
  • Jesus is a high priest forever, seated next to God in heaven;
  • Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all, perfecting believers for eternal life.

Both the Old and New Testaments are the story of the same God, a God of love and mercy who gave his people the freedom to choose and who gives his people the opportunity to come back to him by choosing Jesus Christ.

Aren’t we glad we are part of the New Covenant?!!!

Abba, thank You for placing me in this time in history. Knowing you personally and having you in my heart (my seat of emotions, thought, and intellect) makes life a pleasure and a treasure. Even so, I long to be with You completely and wholly, Lord. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). Amen.

Proverbs 1 11-1-22

Why is it important to study the Old Testament? Because it is where we get the foundation for the Gospel. To know one, we must know both.

11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the [Old Testament] Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11

As we continue our look at the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament, there is a shift from God and His chosen people, Israel, to God and Christians. As anti-sematic as this sounds, Jesus’ call was first to the Jews and then the Gentiles (Romans 1:16) to make a new person out of the two groups (Ephesians 2:14-16); this new person is anyone who follows Him. Let’s look at the New Covenant:

New Covenant: Between God and Christians 

The system of animal sacrifice lasted hundreds of years, but even so, it was only temporary. Out of love, God the Father sent his only Son, Jesus, into the world. This new covenant would resolve the problem of sin once and for all.

For three years, Jesus taught throughout Israel about the kingdom of God and his role as Messiah. To support his claim as Son of God, he performed many miracles, even raising three people from the dead. By dying on the cross, Christ became the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice whose blood has the power to wash away sin forever (1 John 1:7).

The new covenant could have begun in the upper room at the Lord’s Supper when He took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20), at Jesus’ crucifixion when Christ’s blood was poured out, upon His resurrection when death was defeated, or at Pentecost with the coming of the Holy Spirit and founding of the Christian Church. Regardless, the new covenant was established between God and the individual Christian (John 3:16), with Jesus Christ serving as mediator.

Besides serving as the sacrifice, Jesus also became the new high priest (Hebrews 4:14-16, 7:24-25). Instead of physical prosperity, the new covenant promises salvation from sin and eternal life with God. As high priest, Jesus constantly intercedes for his followers before his Father in heaven (He IS the intercession). Individuals may now approach God themselves; they no longer need a human high priest to speak for them, for the Father Himself loves us (John 16:26-27).

Like I said earlier, to know one (the New Covenant), we must know the other (the Old Testament). Without knowing about sacrifices, we would not understand what Jesus did for us on the cross. we simply wouldn’t have a reference point.

Abba, we ask that You turn our hearts toward Your entire message, which includes both Old and New Testaments (or Covenants). Just as Abraham and Isaac on the mountain was a foreshadow of You and Your Son, You were teaching Your people all along what the New Covenant would look like. For us Gentiles, we trusted You and then are learning about the promises, where the Jews know the promises, but are having a tough time trusting You. May You turn their hearts toward Jesus, O Lord. We ask it in Jesus’ name, amen.

Proverbs 31 10-31-22

Many people believe that the Old Testament is outdated and not needed. Nothing could be further from the truth!

All [Old Testament] 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. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Entire denominations are based upon the irrelevancy of the Old Testament. The problem is that Peter, Paul, James, Jude, and the writer of Hebrews didn’t have anything else BUT the Old Testament when they wrote. They referenced it 200+ times (ChristianQuestions.com). So, for the next three days, we will be looking at the relationship between the Old and New Covenants.

Old Covenant/New Covenant

  • A covenant is a binding contract between two parties, ratified by swearing an oath. 
  • The word “testament” and “covenant” are interchangeable.
  • The Old Testament (old covenant) was a foreshadowing of the New, a foundation for what was to come. 
  • From the book of Genesis on, the Old Testament pointed forward to a Messiah or Savior. 
  • The New Testament describes the fulfillment of God’s promise by Jesus Christ.

Old Covenant: Between God and Israel 

The Old Covenant was established between God and the people of Israel after God freed them from slavery in Egypt. Moses, who led the people out, served as the mediator of this contract, which was made at Mount Sinai:

Then Moses took the blood from the basins and splattered it over the people, declaring, “Look, this blood confirms the covenant the Lord has made with you in giving you these instructions.” (Exodus 24:8, NLT)

God issued the Ten Commandments and the laws in Leviticus to be obeyed by the Hebrews. If they complied, he pledged prosperity and protection in the Promised Land.

Altogether, there were 613 laws, covering every aspect of human behavior. Males had to be circumcised, sabbaths had to be observed, and people had to obey hundreds of dietary, social, and hygiene rules. All these regulations were intended to protect the Israelites from their neighbors’ pagan influences, but no one could keep so many laws. To address the people’s sins, God set up a system of animal sacrifices, in which the people provided cattle, sheep, and doves to be killed. Sin required a blood sacrifice.

Under the old covenant, those sacrifices were carried out at the desert tabernacle. God installed Moses’ brother Aaron and Aaron’s sons as priests, who slaughtered the animals. Only Aaron, the high priest, could enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement, to intercede for the people directly with God.

After the Israelites conquered Canaan, King Solomon built the first permanent temple in Jerusalem, where the animal sacrifices continued. Invaders eventually destroyed the temple, but when it was rebuilt, the sacrifices resumed. 

The old covenant was for a specific people in a specific place and time.
The new covenant extends to the entire world: 

By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete;
and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:13, NIV)

Abba, You have made all things new concerning our relationship with You (Revelation 21:5). We are Yours because You called us and we answered. One of these days, we each will be called to join You where You are where we await the time for us to go with You to Jerusalem for Your eternal reign on earth. Then, all things will be new in You and You will reconcile all things to Yourself (Colossians 1:20). You are awesome, Lord! I can hardly wait!!! Amen.

Proverbs 30 10-30-22

If people were to sit down with a piece of paper and write out the pros and cons of salvation, I bet they would opt for salvation every time.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

From the past several days:
When Peter made his great statement in Acts 4:12, he gave us a unique definition of salvation from God’s perspective,

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

There are several questions that arise from this verse.

  1. Must a person be saved?
  2. From what is he lost?
  3. Is he not capable of saving himself?
  4. Why Jesus’ name?
  5. What makes His name special?
  6. Everyone?
  7. What is required?
  8. What shall we gain/avoid?

We have discovered that we all need to be saved from sin, from ourselves, and from the evil one. We are not capable of saving ourselves. We need Jesus. It is Him and His name on which we call. His name represents all that He is as God the Son, Messiah Ha’Mashiach, our Savior and Lord. Everyone needs Jesus, and He’s already done all the heavy lifting. All we have to do is accept His gift of forgiveness and mercy and receive Him as our Savior and Lord. What shall we gain and what shall we avoid by becoming His followers?

We gain:

  1. Life- “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24
  2. Love- “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1
  3. Joy- “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
  4. Peace- “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
  5. Hope- “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5
  6. The Holy Spirit- “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,” Ephesians 1:13
  7. A Family- “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.” Romans 8:16-17

What we avoid-

  1. An empty life- “At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.” Mark 10:22
  2. Being led astray- “…By your [Satan’s] magic spell all the nations were led astray.” Revelation 18:23
  3. Being cast out into outer darkness- “And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:30
  4. Eternal punishment- ““Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:46

As we can see, there is much to gain and much to lose. Yet, it is not a choice we can make on our own. Salvation comes from an invitation by Christ. The awareness of His invitation IS His invitation. If you have not taken Him up on it, “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Abba, I look back on the day You invited me to receive Your salvation with much gratitude. I have never truly doubted Your presence in my life. What I have learned is that, really, it’s my life in You. May you live Your life through me even as I live my life for You. Amen.

Proverbs 29 10-29-22

God’s salvation is simple. He has done everything for us; all we have to do is receive the gift of His sacrifice and His love.

30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They replied, “Believe in [trust in, rely on, receive His gift of grace] the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

From the past several days:
When Peter made his great statement in Acts 4:12, he gave us a unique definition of salvation from God’s perspective,

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

There are several questions that arise from this verse.

  1. Must a person be saved?
  2. From what is he lost?
  3. Is he not capable of saving himself?
  4. Why Jesus’ name?
  5. What makes His name special?
  6. Everyone?
  7. What is required?
  8. What shall we gain/avoid?

As we delve into what is required for salvation, many people lean toward a courtroom scene while others may lean toward a hospital emergency room; I lean toward a rescue operation. The interesting thing is that all three scenarios are correct from their perspectives:

  1. The courtroom scene- We each have sinned against a holy God and can not longer stand in His holy presence in our current condition. We need cleansing. Christ’s blood washes us clean and we are once again welcome at the throne of grace (2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 8:1-2, 1 John 1:8).
  2. The hospital emergency room- With sin came sickness to our eyes, our bodies, and our souls. Jesus demonstrated this fact throughout His ministry by healing the body and the soul. In Jesus, we are healed and whole (Mark 2:3-12, Mark 2:17, Luke 4:18).
  3. The rescue operation- Sin binds, it addicts, and it controls. Jesus came to break our bonds, pull us out of our addiction to sin, and to wrest control from the one who controls us (Satan). In Jesus, we find FREEDOM (Matthew 12:28-29, Romans 7:24-25, Hebrews 2:14-15)!

How do we come to Christ? We believe that He is who He said He is, did what He said He did, and will do what He said He would do. We trust Him with our lives beginning today and every day afterward. We receive His Holy Spirit into our lives and follow, listen, and obey Him in all instructions. Since the Spirit is Jesus, we walk with Him and talk with Him as our closest Friend–always remembering that He is King of the Universe and Lord of our lives.

Tomorrow, we wrap up this topic by looking at the ups and downs of our salvation in Christ.

Abba, You have made salvation simple by canceling our debt, healing our souls, snatching us from the fire, and releasing us from the grip of Satan and our own addiction to sin and desire. All we did was receive Your invitation. We owe You so much–we owe You our lives! I agree with Paul when he said, “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” (Acts 20:24). That’s what I want to do, Abba: Testify to the good news of Your grace in my life. I will be looking for opportunities to do just that! Amen.

Proverbs 28 10-28-22

Ever had a dream of being “unclothed?” Imagine standing before the Lord in that condition. How embarrassing! How horrifying!!!

15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mindMark 5:15

From the past several days:
When Peter made his great statement in Acts 4:12, he gave us a unique definition of salvation from God’s perspective,

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

There are several questions that arise from this verse.

  1. Must a person be saved?
  2. From what is he lost?
  3. Is he not capable of saving himself?
  4. Why Jesus’ name?
  5. What makes His name special?
  6. Everyone?
  7. What is required?
  8. What shall we gain/avoid?

The term, mankind, draws us all into the category of being in need of salvation. Every man, woman, and child is in need of saving by God through Jesus Christ. There are several descriptions in the Bible of our need of salvation:

It is this last analogy that I want us to consider. When Adam and Eve sinned, the first thing that they noticed was their nakedness. They even tried to cover up. In their failed attempt, they hid from God. We have been hiding ever since. Christ came to cover our nakedness with His righteousness. It’s more than just clothing, though; it goes deep into our souls and cleans us from the inside out. For today, we will go with the analogy of being clothed. Being clothed in His righteousness means that we have come over to His side, we have turned around and are facing Him, we have been healed, and we have been born again. From now on, we think like Christ,

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

How is this even possible? In Christ we have died and have been raised to new life! And, “since we have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).

It is much better to meet God through His Spirit–and clothed–now than to meet Him in Person–unclothed–later (more on that another time).

Abba, to be clothed in Your righteousness means that You have wrapped Yourself around us. You have even permeated our minds so that we think like You (1 Corinthians 2:16). May we “suit up” each day (Ephesians 6:13-18), setting our hearts on the things You think about and You like, and then set our minds to doing them. All for Your glory, Lord. Amen.