Proverbs 19 2-19-19

February 19, 2019

In our haste-and arrogance- we rush ahead with our own plans, thus rendering Christ’s leadership ineffective in our lives.

The Christian life is designed to be lived in a constant dialogue with Christ. His presence in our lives is KEY. His direction in our course is vital. His leadership in our decisions is paramount. His companionship is life-giving. Why do we try to do it ourselves?! Yet, we run ahead of God (much like Adam) and we mess up timing, make relationships awkward, throw a wrench into the works–and then expect God to clean up the mess we’ve made!

Let’s consider how Jesus wants us to come to Him:

9 “So I say to you: Ask [and keep on asking] and it will be given to you; seek [and keep on seeking] and you will find; knock [and keep on knocking] and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks [is persistent in asking] receives; he who seeks [is persistent in seeking] finds; and to him who knocks [is persistent in knocking], the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Lk 11:9-13

Persistent praying doesn’t change God’s mind; it allows us to wrap our minds and hearts around God’s will. It gives God room to work according to His timing and His Plan. The question is: Are we willing to trust Him?

3 A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD. Pr 19:3

Let’s not let this be us. Instead, let’s do it this way:

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Mt 26:39

By the way, Jesus prayed three times before He had peace about the situation and was ministered to by angels. We would do well to do the same: Pray until we have peace.

Proverbs 18 2-18-19

February 18, 2019

Ever feel assertive? Aggressive? Demanding or insistent? Watch out! A proud heart makes everyone an opponent-even God!

12 Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.

Most people think of wickedness as really evil stuff. In reality, it is anything that is not godly. Selfish thoughts are wicked because they are not godly thoughts, and in the same way, selfish deeds are wicked deeds because they are not Spirit-led. Now we can see why we DON’T want to be judged according to our deeds (and thoughts), but rather by the blood of Jesus (see Rev. 20:12-15).

The problem with wicked (selfish, aggressive, sinful) thoughts is that they lead to a contemptible attitude, which has two meanings: the first is that we hold everything and everyone in contempt, the other is that we make ourselves contemptible to those around us. Thus:

3 When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes disgrace.

What do we do when these thoughts come unbidden to our minds? Let’s remind ourselves of a few realities:

  • As Christians (Christ followers), we have the indwelling Holy Spirit, so we have access to the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16).
  • Recognizing our true position in Christ enables us to step back and see from God’s perspective. What is that position? Humility-He is God and we are not! Usurping God’s position in our lives is serious business. James, Jesus’s brother, says, 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud
    but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. Jas 4:6-10
  • We have what we need to combat our flesh and our enemy. His Spirit equips us with spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-18) and with His power.

A memory passage of mine (because I NEED it) is,

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2Co 10:3-5

God loves us and wants the best for us (that which makes us more like Christ). He is faithful and will fulfill that goal in our lives. We can trust Him to walk with us through each day as we do battle. BE ENCOURAGED!

Proverbs 17 2-17-19

February 17, 2019

What sin does: it makes us selfish, it makes us crave more sin, and it destroys us. Yet, we cannot give it up. Why?

12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly [sin].

Sin is addictive. Much like heroin, alcohol and sugar, the brain wraps around the “drug” and life becomes all about the sin. There are seven deadly sins. They are:

Pride, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, and Sloth

Seven Deadly Sins
There are many verses that attest to these and we can vouch for them in our lives, can’t we? Here’s the big problem with sin: It destroys who we are. It comes in and takes over. No one can trust how we will react when we are driven by our addiction. Hence, verse 12.

Christ wants to save us from our addictions. He wants to restore who we are by transforming us into what we were always meant to be, which is to be like Him. What is Christ like? He is loving, joyful, peaceful, full of grace and hope, truthful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, self-controlled, trusting, and He never gives up on us.

Do you want to be like Him? I DO!!! Lord Jesus, transform me into Your likeness today!

Proverbs 16 2-16-19

February 16, 2019

God created time and the universe; He works within them interactively with mankind. Its a good tension.

Tension #1:

V2 All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.

Tension #2:

V4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends— even the wicked for a day of disaster.

Somehow, God knows all things–everyone’s future–and, yet, interacts with each of us in the present. He is truly Omni-Present. Each decision we make, from the time we open our eyes in the morning until the time we close them at night, He honors. Somehow, He weaves everyone’s decisions in the entire world–throughout history–into His will.

It’s like the tension between love and justice. LOVE says, “I forgive you.” Justice says, “There are consequences.” Somehow, God marries these two together, as well.

There’s one more set:

Truth and grace. The others are good to know, but grace and truth are where we live.

10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jn 8:10-11

In a sense, we have all been caught in adultery. Jesus says, “I forgive the past; what will you do with Me right now?” Jesus is interested in us interacting with Him RIGHT NOW! Forget yesterday’s regrets and tomorrow’s worries. He wants your NOW. He is capable of keeping up with everyone, so trust Him to have you safe in His will and in His arms.

6 Through [His] love and [His] faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD [residing in His presence] a man avoids evil. Pr 16:6

On a personal note: I went to the doctor about some abrupt hearing loss in my left ear and, through several tests, found that it is permanent. Pray that I will experience a new closeness with the Spirit as I cope. I LOVE feeling His arms wrap around me (I live for those moments)!

Proverbs 15 2-15-19

February 15, 2019

Christianity is a life devoted to walking with Christ learning from Him and becoming just like Him. It’s a relationship! Anything else is just religion.

8 The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him. Pr 15:8

The sacrifice versus the prayer: one has to do with appeasement, the other with a conversation. Religion through the ages has-and is-about keeping the gods happy while people go about their business. Not so with Christianity. The whole point of the Advent, the cross, and the Resurrection is for us to be reunited with God through Christ Jesus our Lord as the Holy Spirit comes to live in us! It’s much more than just a daily thing-it’s better than that; its a continuous conversation with our heavenly Father.

Consider this verse:

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

We are right with God because of Jesus. He lives in us. We have fellowship with Him. LET’S ENJOY IT!!!

Proverbs 14 2-14-19

February 14, 2019

Our task as Christ followers is simple: be as much like Christ as possible. Best way: He rubs off on us. Stand CLOSE!

4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest. Pr 14:4

Christ needs workers in the field (Matt. 9:27-28). With workers comes all the problems inherent with working with people. In the verse, with oxen comes quite a mess in the stable (poo), but having the oxen is worth the mess because of the harvest. As we work with people, we also must put up with poo, but Christ calls us to the harvest.

A good harvester for Christ understands that he can do nothing on His own (John 15:5). Instead, we must focus on Christ in fellowship and count on Him working through us to have any success on an eternal basis. Consider Paul:

10 I want to know Christ [deeply, personally, intimately] and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Phl 3:10-11

As we spend more and more time in His presence, we begin to smell like Him:
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? 2Co 2:14-16

Let’s stop doing things FOR Christ and start doing everything WITH Christ. Even though things might get messy, we will be achieving something glorious with Him!

Proverbs 13 2-13-19

February 13, 2019

Humility is hard because it requires trust, especially in regard to instruction and advice. Yet, Christ requires it of us.

We begin with Jesus’ invitation:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Mt 11:28-30

God speaks to us through prayer, His Word, circumstances, and other people, mostly the body of Christ, but not limited to it. If we regard every word of advice, rebuke, or correction as possibly coming from the LORD, I think we would hear His voice more often. In any case, responding in a loving manner is mandatory (see 1 Cor. 13:4-8 for a list of how to respond lovingly).

How does the above fit in with today’s Proverbs? Well…

10 Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

18 He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.

13 He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded.

This next verse has to do with our response:

3 He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

Minor course corrections are preferable to major ones. It just takes a lot more of them to stay on course. If staying on Jesus’ course is our goal, then we will see correction as sweet spiritual food, in which case:

25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.

Let’s be hungry to hear from our LORD from whatever source He chooses.

Proverbs 12 2-12-19

February 12, 2019

God detests lip service. He would rather a person be openly rebellious than pious, but devious. He KNOWS our hearts; who are we trying to fool?

22 The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are truthful. Pr 12:22

I had always read this verse as meaning people who are dishonest with other people. This morning, though, I saw it a different way. We dishonor God when we say one thing to Him and then act another. But, we are not alone in this quagmire. The Israelites had the same problem:

13 The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Isa 29:13

Jesus quoted this very verse about the people in His day:

7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: Mt 15:7-9

In that passage, the leaders were twisting the Law to meet their own agenda. Jesus called them on it. They were offended. Jesus wasn’t interested in defending Himself.

The problem with the Law is that we DON’T know enough about any circumstances to make a qualified judgement. What leads to excess for one may not for another. What leads to liberty for one may lead to the temptation to wield that liberty as a club for another. Only the Spirit knows each heart and what is best for each person, which is why Jesus introduced the Law of Love:

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. Jn 13:34

It comes down to this: Do we trust the Holy Spirit to convict and lead every Christian? Are we convinced that He will work with every Christian to bring about Christ-likeness in each of us? Then, let’s believe-and keep on believing-that He is working in us and in other believers to make us holy and spotless and will present us to Himself in due time. Paul sums it up for us:

15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Phl 3:15-16

LOVE must be our ultimate goal. It is the defining characteristic of a follower of Christ.

35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jn 13:35

Let’s get out there and love each other!

Proverbs 11 2-11-19

February 11, 2019

Salvation is not difficult. It is giving to Jesus…all. We spend the rest of our lives learning to trust Him enough to let go of control.

19 The truly righteous man attains life, but he who pursues evil goes to his death. Pr 11:19

OT was about works; NT is about relationship. They served God from a distance; we serve God up close and personal. Jesus has drawn us near.

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. Ep 2:13

My view of salvation can best be described in an analogy:

Jesus stands at the door of our hearts and knocks. We swing open the door and invite Him in. He smiles at us–but He doesn’t move across the threshold. Instead, He holds out His hand. He is waiting for us to give Him two things:

  1. The deed to our house. He wants full ownership and the right to make ANY change He wants WHEN He wants.
  2. The master key to every door. NOTHING is off-limits for Him.

He may not even get to every room in our house before we die; we don’t even get to determine which room He chooses to remodel first. The point of salvation is for Him to work WITH US to remodel us from the inside out.

Salvation is a one-time event when Jesus comes into our hearts and lives.

Salvation is also a process where we inventory our lives and then give Him complete control, carte blanche access, and total ownership. We don’t change anything to be saved; we simply transfer ownership. I believe many church members are stuck right here. They have spoken the words, been baptized, and live according to a set of community-based rules of acceptance, but Jesus is NOT in their hearts. He is still standing at the threshold with His hand out waiting…

The righteous person from our lead verse is one who Has Christ in him (Col. 1:27). The person who pursues evil is the one who insists on hanging onto control of certain aspects of his life (James 1:6-8).

Let’s take to heart Jesus’s own condition of salvation:

23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Lk 9:23

Proverbs 10 2-10-19

February 10, 2019

Our joy and our righteousness are untouchable. Sometimes, though, they are not discernable.

28 The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing. Pr 10:28

The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives gives us access to God. He IS love; He IS joy; He IS peace, and each of these He gives to us to the point of overflowing even as He overflows with them. He exudes them!

13 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. Ro 15:13

As we become more like Him, we also exude love, joy, and peace. Our hope is in becoming just like Jesus. He is working in us to do just that!

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2Co 4:16

18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2Co 3:18

How does this information translate into our lives? Our righteousness is not based on what we know, but on Whom we know. Jesus makes these things come to pass in our lives even in the harshest circumstances. Bad times will come, but Jesus has this!

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

So, even when we don’t feel it, when we can’t see it, or when we are confronted with lies, we can turn to Him inwardly and thank Him for the overflowing love, joy, peace, hope, mercy and grace that come from His Person. We praise Him IN SPITE of all that is going on in our lives and around us.

3 When I am afraid, I will trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? Ps 56:3-4

Let’s trust and keep on trusting. Let’s believe and keep on believing. Let’s ask, seek and knock and keep on asking, seeking and knocking. He WILL answer.