Proverbs 28 2-28-20

February 28, 2020

We ask God to work according to what we see and know, but we trust Him to act according to what He sees and knows.

Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.

There is SO MUCH that we don’t know and don’t see. Yet, we still try to live our lives according to our own ideas and perceptions. As we live our lives, we cannot see what God has planned for us on the other side of death. But, He has given us His Word, and in it He gives us snippets of what is to come. Isaiah 65 is one of those snippets:

1 “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
    I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
    I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’”

This verse is for us Gentiles. WE are the nation that He has called unto Himself. Does this calling leave out the Jews? Absolutely not! Read on!

This is what the Lord says:

“As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes
    and people say, ‘Don’t destroy it,
    there is still a blessing in it,’
so will I do in behalf of my servants;
    I will not destroy them all.
I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,
    and from Judah those who will possess my mountains;
my chosen people will inherit them,
    and there will my servants live.
10 Sharon will become a pasture for flocks,
    and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds,
    for my people who seek me.

 

These verses speak of a new kind of servant, one who trusts in the One True God. We know Him as Jesus Christ, Yeshua haMachiach. Let’s read about what He has in store for His servants:

17 “See, I will create
    new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
    nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
    in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
    and its people a joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
    and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
    will be heard in it no more.

From this passage, we can conclude:

  1. God is going to remake the earth. It will be the same as what the Flood did to the earth. We read about it in 2 Peter 3, But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. Christ will not remove the earth from existence, but RENEW the earth for US!
  2. We will keep our identities, but our lives on earth will be overshadowed and engulfed with the Presence of Christ, the newness of the earth, and all that God has in store for us. I have read it put this way, “If I am in economy seating on a plane and am asked to move to first class, there will be nothing in economy seating that I will miss. Considering that our seating is more like in the baggage department, how much more!” (paraphrased from Randy Alcorn, “Heaven”).
  3. Jerusalem will become the hub of civilization, for Christ will rule from there! To learn about the Coming of Christ to Jerusalem, read Zechariah 14. What a POWERFUL chapter of our future! We will unpack that one another time.

Coming up in the rest of Chapter 65 is the Millennial Reign of Christ. I can hardly wait to talk about it!

Abba, You have SO MUCH in store for us–if we could only grasp the fact that this world as we know it, that this life as we know it, is such a small part of what is coming. At the same time, our lives are ultra-important because it is during this time that we decide where we will spend eternity and with whom. May we be about Your mission, O LORD, to call people to Yourself. May I be a light, an example, a witness, and a herald for You. I’m looking for divine appointments today, Abba. Amen.

 

Proverbs 27 2-27-20

February 27, 2020

That with which we are filled dictates what we crave. The world=Worldly desires. Filled with the Spirit=Spiritual desires.

7 One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.

Do we crave heaven? Do we even know enough about it to want it? Lots of people are afraid of heaven even though they believe in it. Fear comes from not knowing what the Bible teaches us about heaven.

We can learn a lot from the Transfiguration in Matthew 17:

1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

  1. They saw Jesus in His glorified state, the one that He left to come to earth. “Abba, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory You have given Me because You loved Me before the creation of the world.” John 17:24. We, too, will be glorified in heaven. “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2. Our glorified state means NO SIN NATURE! We won’t fight those evil thoughts any longer!!!
  2. Moses and Elijah were recognizable people. The disciples inherently knew who they were, presupposing that we, too, will be inherently known to everyone around us in heaven. Since we are the sum of our experiences, and knowing that Moses stood for the Law and Elijah stood for the Prophets, we can assume that they were cognizant of their past and what is happening on earth. They may have even known what was going to happen! Their knowledge of events went WAY BEYOND what they knew while on earth, therefore, it is safe to say that ours will, too.
  3. Lest we think poorly of Peter, the Transfiguration happened during the Feast of Tabernacles, at which time everyone was required to build tents and live outdoors for a week to identify with the children of Israel during their 40 year excursion through the desert. It was also a week of celebration that modeled the fact that our lives here on earth are in earthly, temporary tents (bodies) and that heaven is coming! Peter was simply trying to accommodate everyone. I’m sure the trio was amused.
  4. The appearance of Moses and Elijah gives us great insight into these facts:
    1. We will have real and identifiable bodies.
    2. Who we are in heaven is directly tied to who we are on earth. Remember that Jesus repeatedly said, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” Matthew 19:30. He also said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.” Matthew 20:26-27.
    3. We will know and be known for who we are. In other words, our souls continue to be us. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12.

That’s all for today. Soon, we will cover what we will be doing in heaven. THAT’S an exciting study, for sure! For now, let us be assured that we will be US in heaven and that what we do here on earth matters eternally. Let’s be about the Father’s business, shall we?

Abba, thank You for the assurance I get when I read about heaven. Thank You that You want us to KNOW! I want to foster my relationship with You so that I don’t miss out on a single thing either here or there. It’s not that I want to be great in the kingdom, but I DO want to hear these words from You, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” “Come and share your master’s happiness! Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 25:21, 34). I live to hear these words! Please help me to make it so. Amen.

Proverbs 26 2-26-20

February 26, 2020

What we know or don’t know about heaven shapes how we live our lives. Our VISION determines our hope.

Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool.

Without a clear view of heaven, God’s reality and ours, we tend to lower our sights and work to make this world work for us. There is so much more than just what we see! The kingdom of heaven, which is this earth, the first heaven (the sky), and the second heaven (the sun, moon and stars–space), are separated from the kingdom of God, which is where God lives and saints from this world reside–for a while! Soon, Jesus will come and establish His kingdom here on earth and we will be with Him:

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 11:15

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. Revelation 12:10

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. Revelation 21:2

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

God’s overall plan is to live together with us forever. Most people know this part. What they miss are the particulars, such as:

  • Where will we live?
  • Will we have real bodies?
  • Will we keep our identity?
  • Will we know each other?
  • Will we work?
  • Will we do anything besides be part of a huge worship service?
  • Will there be animals?

The answer to all these questions is YES! Tomorrow, we will look at some Scriptures that give us the answers to these questions. For today, let us focus on this verse:

Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
    but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. Proverbs 29:18

The King James Version reads,

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

From these two versions, we can deduce:

  1. If we don’t have a firm concept of where we are going and what God intends for us, then we will wander from God’s path to His glorious future.
  2. We are blessed and happy when we keep His goals and His Plan in mind. Why? Because we can interpret our circumstances and our beliefs according to what He has promised rather than what we see and what we are told (lies and deception by Satan).
  3. We gain hope through our understanding of how God works in this world and what He has planned for His Church, His Bride. Consider this passage:

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

Let us pray for the Spirit to reveal to us more of His Plan. There is MUCH about it in the Word of God, so tomorrow we will look at some of those passages.

Abba, please reveal to us aspects of Your Plan that will inspire us to live for You. We pray for revival, which is basically Your bride resetting our sights on You and what You are doing in this world. May we join You in what You are doing, Lord Jesus. Help us to “fix our eyes on You, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” Amen.

 

 

Proverbs 25 2-25-20

February 25, 2020

Taking an honest look at ourselves and where we are spiritually is a good idea every so often. How are you?

19 Like a broken tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble. 

Reliability comes through stability. How does one become stable? Through regular prayer and practicing the presence of Christ. During crisis, we run to our “go-to’s.” Some people go to alcohol; others run to a certain person. For some, it’s an activity (gaming, work, etc). Christians are to go to the LORD. We establish our connection through daily–continuous–conversation and follow-ship. Without that connection, we are no better off than the world.

There is a story in 1 Kings 13 that demonstrates what happens when we forego our connection with Him and act on what we see and hear. The entire story is very interesting, but here is the crux:

But the man of God answered the king, “Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here. For I was commanded by the word of the Lord: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.’”

18 The old prophet answered, “I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the Lord: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’” (But he was lying to him.) 19 So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house.

23 When the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him. 24 As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was left lying on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it.

Why did the old prophet deceive the man of God? I don’t know. The point is that the man of God had his instructions from the LORD. Why didn’t he check with the LORD before going with the old prophet? Joshua did the same thing concerning the spies he sent to spy out Ai (Joshua 7:2). Had he checked with the LORD first, the LORD would have told him that he had sin in the camp (Achan had stolen some of the plunder from Jericho that was dedicated to the LORD). It cost the lives of 36 men.

As we pray for revival, please don’t take ANYTHING for granted. Check with the LORD before making any decision, both major and minor. Nothing is too small in our lives about which God isn’t interested in helping us make good decisions. It’s all about the CONNECTION.

What we don’t realize is that the whole point of our salvation was to re-establish our relationship with Him. He wants conversation, trust, and intimate fellowship with us! When we pray, He answers all the time! Let’s listen and see what He says:

Me: Good morning, Lord.

God: Isn’t it, though? I made mornings consistent so that you can get up each morning and spend it with me.

Me: Holy is Your name.

God: Yes! Thank you for acknowledging my holiness. I want to impart it to you. Today, let’s work on ____________ in your life.

Me: May Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth even as it is in heaven.

God: Thank you. I can hardly wait until I re-establish my kingdom on earth. Just a few more souls…

Well, you get the idea. The more we know of God, the more we know what He will say to us. It’s all according to His Word. With this knowledge comes confidence as we converse with Him. We trust His Word, therefore, we trust what He tells us. Our track record with Him sets the scale as to how much we trust Him with our future.

Let’s be conscious of His presence today and turn to Him continually throughout the day. Read His Word with the idea that He will use it to communicate with us. Let’s listen for His voice and watch for His lead. Walking with Him is EXCITING!

Abba, as I go through today, make me aware of You in all I do and see. Give me Divine appointments; teach me; give me sweet fellowship with other Christians. Is there someone with which I can share the Gospel today? a word of encouragement? I will be looking for You in everything and listening for Your Voice, O Lord. Amen.

 

Proverbs 24 2-24-20

February 24, 2020

PC – Putting God’s Commands first in our lives. Are we willing to risk it?

24 Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,” will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations. 25 But it will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come on them.

Political correctness is simply another way of capitulating to the enemy. He would have us muzzle our mouths concerning sin. But, God calls us to:

10 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. 12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay everyone according to what they have done?

There are many gray areas in politics, but there are two areas that are black and white:

One is ABORTION. Abortion is likened to bowing down to the god of Molek:

“‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord. Leviticus 18:21

I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. Lev. 20:3

They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molek, though I never commanded—nor did it enter my mind—that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin. Jeremiah 32:35

As with any sin, God forgives, and we as His ambassadors are to lead the repentant ones into a new life with Christ, one of forgiveness, peace, and hope.

The other is ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLES. God is pretty clear:

Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. Leviticus 18:22

Lest we get the idea that Old Testament law doesn’t apply anymore since the New Testament was initiated, we need only look at Romans 1 where we find that:

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

We, on the other hand, are to call people back to the TRUTH about God, about Jesus and His forgiveness, and the hope of salvation through the cross of Christ. Here is where a confusing passage of Scripture comes into play:

Do not answer a fool [mocker- one who is wise in his own eyes] according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.
Answer a fool [either doesn’t know any better, or is acting on feelings] according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. Proverbs 26:4-5

Before talking to someone about these subjects, we must determine if that person is a mocker or simply a fool. The mocker we are to have nothing to do with, but there is hope for a fool. We must pray and ask God to reveal to us what to do and what to say–if anything.

To me, these two subjects are deal-breakers concerning candidates for office. If they are lenient on either of these subjects, I cannot support them. The words, “defiled,” “profaned,” “detestable,” “shameful,” unnatural,” and “fool,” are great indicators about what kind of leaders they will be. They are following the wrong god. So, I pray for them that God will reveal Himself to them and that they will turn from their sin–any sin, all sin–and turn to Him for forgiveness and life (just like we did). How should we pray for them?

  1. Pray first that their minds and hearts would be open to God’s plan. They must move from the “mocker” stage to the “fool” stage.
  2. Pray for conviction of sin: that they see the damage their sin is causing to them and to others; that they sense the Holy Spirit’s call on their life to give up and give in.
  3. Pray a hedge of protection around them so that outside influences will be hindered from swaying them away from God.

Are we going to make a difference in this world? The only way to make the RIGHT difference is through prayer and obedience to the Holy Spirit. Let’s pledge ourselves anew to the God of the Universe to follow Him and allow Him to love people through us.

Abba, I know that these topics are touchy. But, sin is sin. It is all detestable to you. Yet, rather than destroying us–or allowing sin to destroy us–You came and paid the penalty for our sin. WOW! Thank You, Jesus! I owe You my life. Use me in any way, shape or form You choose to reach others for You, teach others Your way, and show Your love to a hurting world. Amen.

 

Proverbs 23 2-23-20

February 23, 2020

Today should be different. May we dedicate this day to the LORD for prayer, His Word, and Christian fellowship.

26 My son [child], give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways,

In this verse, God has the responsibility of taking care of our hearts while we have the responsibility of taking care of our eyes. What we see makes a world of difference in what we want–and visa versa: what we want makes a world of difference in what we see.

We ask for wisdom, which is seeing from God’s perspective. We are able to discern between good and bad and to choose the good. It doesn’t remove the bad from our minds–at least, not yet. That process happens when we step from this world to the next. The big question is: Do we really want godly wisdom?

The pull of idolatry on our souls is STRONG. We want what we want. Satan knows our weaknesses as humans and plays to these weaknesses, which are the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). The rest of the chapter in Proverbs bears this truth out:

27 for an adulterous woman is a deep pit,
    and a wayward wife is a narrow well.

30 Those who linger over wine,
    who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.

If we truly desire what God wants for our lives and are willing to place everything on the altar for Him to decide what He wants for us, then we must learn to replace our worldly desires with godly desires. We must be willing to do ANYTHING to break our bad and sinful habits and lusts. Is there really any measure that is too extreme to break a sinful habit? Jesus used a pretty strong illustration about this very topic:

29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:29-30

He was referencing adultery of the mind as well as the body, which we know is rampant among men today in the form of pornography. Am I advocating us maiming our bodies? No, but I am advocating that we go to dire measures to break bad and sinful habits. If it’s on our electronic devices, we may have to do without them for a while ( it takes 21 days to completely break a habit and create a new one). A person might have to have a good old-fashioned book burning, or in this case, magazine burning. Another wise choice is to stop going to places where women’s bodies are on display, like certain movies, swimming pools, strip joints, etc. And this is just one topic! There is SO MUCH about us that Jesus wants to fix!!!

BUT, He KNOWS the fight we have inside. It’s what He came to help us do. He has made us pleasing to God, so we don’t have to worry about our position with Him. The Father DOES want us to work hard at our sanctification, though, and become conformed to the image of His Son (see Romans 8:29).

Today is a special day. We can start TODAY to become like Christ. Let us repent and choose His way. We begin with worship and praise and by placing ourselves under godly teaching. Let’s go to church! Let’s use that altar to build an Ebenezer, a remembrance stone to mark the day we gained victory over a particular area in our lives (see Joshua 5:1-3, 19-24).

Abba, may we use church today for that which it was created: a place to meet with You collectively and to help each other grow in grace and knowledge of You–with You. May we not take it for granted. Do a mighty work in Your church today, LORD, as You probe our hearts and call us to repentance.

I open myself to You for scrutiny, O LORD. May the fire of Your gaze and the intensity of Your presence burn away all the dross in my life. I want nothing left but godliness, O God. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew Your steadfast spirit within me.” Amen.

Proverbs 22 2-22-20

February 22, 2020

To be known as a person who is led by the Spirit of God…that should be the quest of every Christian.

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

Consider Moses: Raised in the Egyptian palace, leader of the Israelites, a nation of two million strong. Did he have a right to be proud of his accomplishments? Not at all! In fact, if you were to ask him, he would be appalled for you even thinking such a thing! 40 years on the backside of the desert and then another 40 years leading a rebellious people around that same desert until they all died will humble a person.

(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.) Numbers 12:3

Consider King David: Anointed by God, killed a giant, a great warrior and leader, king of Israel. Cocky? At times. Humble before God? Always! Listen to his heart:

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a [Your] willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.

 

In the Old Testament (OT) days, the Spirit of the LORD came upon a person like a cloak rather than coming inside of each person as He does now (NT). We walk according to the Spirit who lives inside of us:

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. Romans 8:14

Humility comes from having something by which to compare ourselves. When walking with God, we are constantly aware of His Glory. That in itself is enough for us to see ourselves in a true light: we are His creation; we are to glorify Him. Without His Spirit to sustain us, we have neither life nor breath, sight nor hearing, understanding nor reason. HE IS OUR LIFE. 

Are we slaves? Certainly not, but sons! Ladies, YOU have been raised to the level of sonship and now have inheritance rights–Jesus is the Great Liberator! (see Galatians 3:28). We ALL are co-heirs with Christ, who will inherit the UNIVERSE!

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:15-17

36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:36

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea [tempestuous waters].I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. Revelation 21:1-7

Folks, it just doesn’t get any better than that! Let us rejoice in our inheritance even as we patiently endure whatever trials we face in this life.  We all face physical death (“No one gets out of this world alive”) unless the LORD returns, so let’s store up for ourselves treasures in heaven, ones that will endure the fire of His scrutiny (1 Cor. 3:11-15), rather than treasures here on earth, where nothing lasts (Matthew 6:19-21). The catch, the double blessing, is that in our poverty (our choosing life over there rather than life here) we discover true love, joy and peace, hope and grace. These are the true and enduring riches of this world, ones that can only be found in His eternal presence!

Abba, I pray that I would seek you and Your kingdom, because I know that You have the words of eternal life. In a sense, I don’t want to be just like You–I want You to live through me. Even though You are training me as Your son to be just like You, I know that anything good in me is from Your Spirit. I want people to see YOU in me. Come and reign in my heart, O LORD, and shine through me to everyone around. I am Yours. Amen.

 

Proverbs 21 2-21-20

February 21, 2020

Arrogance leads to disobedience, which leads to sin, which leads to destruction. What? Me, arrogant?

A person may think their own ways are right,
    but the Lord weighs the heart.

Satan doesn’t know what we are thinking, but God does. He knows what we are thinking, our motivation behind our thoughts, and our intentions. Yet, He judges us on our actions. Why? Because He knows that we struggle with our thoughts and emotions. It is in our minds that He fights for us and with us.

To do what is right and just
    is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

God knows that whatever is on the throne of our heart will win out in our actions.

Haughty eyes and a proud heart—
    the unplowed field of the wicked—produce sin.

We are from the very beginning of our lives selfish and arrogant beings. It’s all about us and meeting our needs. Ask any mother and she will testify! It’s “the unplowed field of the wicked” part that really gets us. “Unplowed” means “fallow”: land that has been “plowed and left unseeded for a season or more; uncultivated; not in use; inactive.”

Let’s talk about our spiritual lives. Is our relationship with the LORD Jesus fallow? Christ cultivated us unto salvation, but what then? Have we seeded our soil with the Scriptures? with daily Bible study, both personal and with other Christians? with earnest prayer about transforming our lives to look like His? about looking for where He is working and joining Him there? Are we broken over the sinful thoughts we have? over our tendency to get angry, judgmental, petty, vindictive and spiteful? We must remember that what we do comes from how we think–and God knows both!

With just a little effort, we can turn our thoughts heavenward. If we will look up from ourselves, look inside to His Spirit and turn and look at Him (give Him our full attention), we will come face to face with Christ our Savior! It will thrill Him as much as it will us!!! He desires sweet fellowship with us, and has wonderful adventures in store for us. All it takes is for us to allow Him to be Lord of our lives NOW. TODAY. Don’t wait and don’t look back. Leave everything behind. If we need something again, He will provide it again–probably an improved version (He’s like that).

There is a starter chapter for those who would like to allow Christ to be center stage, but don’t know how to get started. It is Ephesians 4.

Verses 1-3 deal with attitude and gives us a reference for where God will be taking us. He wants us to be humble, gentle, and patient. THAT’S A TALL ORDER!

Verses 4-16 tells us how we are all part of His Body and how we fit together, each growing in different ways that help each other grow into something much bigger than ourselves: The Temple of God, the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ.

Verses 17-24 speak of how we used to be (darkened in our understanding), but how we are now righteous and holy in Christ. We learn to put off our old ways and put on the new life by being made new in the attitude of our minds.

Verses 25-28 we learn about telling the truth, not staying angry, and doing our share.

Verses 29-32 teach us how to talk–and not talk. We learn to keep the Spirit of God flowing through us as we grow in this area. It has all to do with how we think, which controls how we feel, which influences how we act.

May we commit as much of this chapter to memory! Happy reading.

Abba, may You use the teaching in this chapter to transform my life and to conform me to the image of Your Son. I want to be just like Jesus. More than that, I want Him to live through me. May I be a sweet aroma to You, LORD, a living sacrifice, and a holy and clean vessel/conduit ready to be used by You for Your kingdom work. Amen.

Proverbs 20 2-20-20

February 20, 2020

“Helping God out” is usually not a good idea. Let’s wait for Him to tell us what, how, and when. Timing is everything.

3 It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Quarrel- “an angry dispute or altercation; a disagreement marked by a temporary or permanent break in friendly relations; a cause of dispute, complaint, or hostile feeling.”

The difference between bickering and quarrelling, to me, is in the break in relations.  We can bicker and still come to an agreement. Not so with quarreling. The hostile feelings don’t go away so fast. In fact, one party must repent and apologize before reconciliation can be made. We, as little Christs, must listen to the Spirit and be willing to BE THAT PERSON who repents and apologizes. The fact that there was a quarrel means that both parties said things in a way that shouldn’t have been said. Let’s look at some guidelines:

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you [from all kinds of pitfalls, temptations, hidden snares and heartaches.]. James 1:19-21

Vanity and arrogance charge the battery of quarreling, and we know that arrogance leads to rebellion (ignoring the Spirit), then to sin, and then to destruction, in this case, of a relationship. It can also be the catalyst for losing privileges and even placement in whatever we are in, such as a job, a position at church, a place on a team, etc. So, how should we view our circumstances and behave?

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God [be holy and pleasing]—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

If you have not committed these verses to memory yet, do it today. We live and die (or is it die and live?) according to these two verses.

Later on in the passage, Paul tells us how to relate to each other in a godly fashion:

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

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone [pertaining to God’s Word] . 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:9-18

What it boils down to is this: We are to recognize our place in the body of Christ. We are responsible for ourselves and the ones over which God has put us in charge.  Period. Let’s not be taking more responsibility than God has allotted us. We are to make sure that we are doing the best we can and being the best we can be at what God has given us. The Shepherd will take care of the rest of the sheep.

I have been stung many times by offering help where help was not wanted. Would what I offered have helped? Absolutely, but since I wasn’t in charge, I could not force the issue. In fact, I am to have no feelings at all about it (dead people don’t have feelings; we must remember that we are living sacrifices that have been crucified with Christ and we no longer live, but Christ lives through us). I just focused on my part and made sure that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing to the best of my ability.

Today, let’s take the lower seat at the banquet table (Luke 14:8-11). Let’s wait to be asked for our assistance or opinion. Let’s let whoever is in charge be in charge. Tough? Absolutely for certain kinds of temperaments! But, it is the godly way of doing things.

Abba, as I go to play percussion for the Singing Churchwomen East, may I remember what I preached today and allow Randy Lind and others be in charge. I will make my services available to them for whatever they need and then step back and do what I am supposed to be doing to the best of my ability. If they ask me to do something, then grant me the wisdom and right heart attitude to jump up and do it immediately and fully THEIR WAY. May I be a humble and willing SERVANT for You today, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 19 2-19-20

February 19, 2020

Need a boost spiritually this morning? Read Psalm 51 and you will find yourself at His throne of grace.

16  Whoever keeps commandments keeps their life, but whoever shows contempt for their [the commandments’] ways will die.

We tend to forget that obedience is what pleases the LORD. Now, on one hand, we are always pleasing to the LORD because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. But, on the other hand, He delights in those who listen to His voice (His leadership) and obey.

The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse, but he delights in those whose ways are blameless. Proverbs 11:20

“Blameless” means that we are under His rule and therefore under His protection. When we are obedient, then He takes any fall-out from our obedience upon Himself. Jesus Himself will present us blameless (without fault) and with great joy to the Father in His glorious presence (Jude 24)!

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

There’s no way around it: If God is going to work in us what is pleasing to Him, then it will be through Jesus Christ in us. We have been equipped with the Holy Spirit so that we will know WHAT He wants us to do, WHEN He wants us to do it, HOW to do it, and will give us the POWER to do it. King David prayed for a willing spirit, one that WANTS to do the LORD’s will. Do you have such a spirit?

If yes, then read Psalm 51 and identify with so many of the phrases David uses:

  • Unfailing love
  • Whiter than snow
  • a pure heart
  • Renewal of a steadfast, transformed heart
  • the joy of His salvation
  • Declared praise
  • a broken spirit and contrite heart
  • God’s delight in the sacrifice of the righteous

If not, then read Psalm 51 and identify with the theme of the psalm and with several of the phrases David used:

  • Have mercy on me, O God
  • According to Your great compassion
  • blot out my transgressions
  • Wash away my iniquity
  • Cleanse me from my sin
  • Cleanse me, wash me
  • Create in me a pure heart, O God
  • My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. 2 Thessalonians 6:2b

“Now is the day to capitalize on your day of salvation.” Have you emptied yourself before Him and asked Him to come in and fill you with His Spirit? NOW is the appointed time; the Holy Spirit is pleading with you RIGHT NOW to do it! This process is one that we are to do often: Anytime we feel that our spirits are being led astray, when we want to feel His Presence and Participation in our lives, before praying for others…anytime!

May “that great Shepherd of the sheep” shepherd us today!

Abba, I pray for those reading this lesson that they would take to heart this prayer/process and do it, live by it, and watch You work in their lives. Of course, I include myself in this prayer. May David’s psalm be the very prayer that ushers revival into our hearts and lives. So be it!

 

Proverbs 18 2-18-20

February 18, 2020

For revival to come, we must know what is in our hearts–and confess it and get our hearts right with God!

15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
    for the ears of the wise seek it out.

What is your heart’s desire? Is it to know Christ? Consider this: To seek to know Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (Phil. 3:10), we must transcend the distractions of this world and focus on His world. What IS His world?  It is not only the third heaven, but also the first and second heavens, in context with the third heaven. We tend to see this world as the ONLY reality when it is really only PART of a bigger REALITY. God works in all three heavens plus our world. He has never been locked out of any part of it. The separation was for our own good while mankind is still in sin. Soon, He will COME and correct the matter of sin and separation.

Before sin and subsequent death came into this world, all three heavens were joined in Eden. God walked with Adam and Eve. Upon sin and then death, God put a partition between the third heaven and the first two heavens (our atmosphere and then outer space). When we die, we simply cease to be in the first two heavens and move to the third heaven. It is every bit as real as the first two–in fact, more so–and must have some physical properties to it, again, even more so.

With this in mind, we should not live our lives as if this earth is the end-all for us. God made a way for us to leave these sin-ridden bodies and be with Him until He RETURNS to earth. We will come with Him and take up our old bodies, which will then be in a transformed and glorified state. It makes sense, then, that the best thing for us to do is to “seek first His kingdom, and all of the necessities of life will be added to you, as well.” Matthew 6:33 adapted.

Therefore, Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” 2 Corinthians 13:5. If Christ is in us, we must allow Him to lead us. He will not have it any other way. Sooner or later, He WILL take the lead in our lives. We have this promise:

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. Hebrews 12:4-7

As we move closer to Revival, let us recognize the discipline of God in our lives and thank Him for it. May we receive it and use it to repent and move closer to the side of our Savior. We must remember that “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11. Take great joy in the fact that God deals with us as His children! It is PROOF that we ARE His children!!!

Abba, thank You for the discipline that You have applied to my life through the years. I receive Your discipline and consider those times as precious to me. You are ALWAYS gentle and patient. At the same time, You do not hold back the consequences or the “sand paper” by which You shape me–sometimes, it’s a hammer and chisel! I want to look just like You, Jesus. Please make it so in my life. Amen.

The Sacrifice

February 17, 2020

The man took the lamb from the flock and carried it to the altar. As he took the knife to slit its throat, he looked down into the round, black eyes of the lamb.

“I can’t do it,” he cried as the knife clattered to the ground. The man released the lamb to return to the fold.

But, the lamb did not move. Instead, it looked up at the man and said, “You must, for it is the only way for you to be right with Abba. He wants you to have fellowship with Him, and this is the only way.”

The man replied, “But, why must you give your life? What have you done to deserve such treatment?”

“Whether I die by your hand, by wolves, or by old age, I am still subject to death. All of nature is subject to frustration until Jesus returns and sets it free.”

The lamb walked closer to the man and continued, “If my death will foster His coming by showing you the depths of your sin, the lengths that Abba will go to get you back, and be a foreshadow of the death of my King, then I gladly lay down my life for you.”

With tears in his eyes, the man took the lamb and held it close. “Thank you,” he whispered, “and I am sorry. Maybe we will meet again in His glorious kingdom.”

As the lamb’s blood dripped over the sides of the altar, the man prayed, “Father God, receive this sacrifice in my place.”

The Father replied, “I do. Now come and have sweet fellowship with me. One day soon, I will be your Sacrifice. No more will I require nature to pay for you sin; I will do it Myself.”

The man fell on his face before the LORD and worshiped Him. “When, O LORD?”

“Soon, Joseph, soon.”

 

21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

Proverbs 17 2-17-20

February 17, 2020

Why do we hang so tightly to that which destroys us and keeps us from God?

16 Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom,
    when they are not able to understand it [unwilling to give up their sin]?

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
    but the Lord tests the heart.

I’ve mentioned before that I like to watch Imetmessiah.com, a youtube site that shows testimonies of Jews who have come to Jesus. I am struck by the number of them who, upon salvation, have a voracious appetite for the Word of God and to learn all they can about Yeshua (Jesus). It would seem that salvation brings this desire to know our Savior.

Where are you concerning your desire to know Your LORD? Regardless of your answer, I offer two exhortations:

  1. Pray for a higher desire. Robin calls it “the want-to to want to.” It is a plea for God to override our natural desires and give us His desires. He wants to pour out His Spirit upon His people–but we are not ready!  What stands in our way?
  2. We must acknowledge our sin and confess it. Sin keeps us at arm’s length from Him. People, people, if we are to have revival, then we must give up our sins. I have given to Him all I know–but I know there is still much darkness within me. I fight arrogance, vanity, pride, covetousness, and other dark thoughts. The fight itself is not sin, but it shows me that I am one step away from spiritual calamity. I NEED HIM!!!

The story of the silversmith has always be a favorite of mine because it demonstrates the process of sanctification (being made into His likeness) in our lives. As the silversmith heats the silver to a certain temperature, dross rises to the top, which he scoops off. He then turns the heat up another notch, at which dross rises to the top and he scoops it off. He does this process seven times, and maybe more. He knows the silver is ready when he can see his reflection clearly in the silver.

As we give revealed sin over to Him, He turns the heat up in our lives. Each person’s “heat” is different, so I won’t even try to give examples. Suffice it to say that we each feel the heat of His gaze. It may seem like we give something to God only to take it back again, but not so. He separates us from our sin as far as the east is from the west. What we are experiencing is a deeper heating upon which more dross–a deeper dross–rises to the top. He repeats this process until we become clear enough for Him to see His reflection in us.

Corresponding Scripture references are:

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Psalm 12:6

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

12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12

We will know we are ready for revival when we are willing to set aside our schedules, our daily activities, and our regular diversions to seek God in His Word and in prayer. We might even seek out prayer meetings! I have a prayer time from 6 to 7 at Brookwood BC on Wednesday mornings. I invite you to join me.

Also, my pastor, Bryan, has asked his flock–and I am asking you– to join him in reading Psalm 51 and praying this verse every day this week. Here are some things for which to pray:

New International Version
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

New Living Translation
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.

English Standard Version
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Contemporary English Version
Create pure thoughts in me and make me faithful again

Good News Translation
Create a pure heart in me, O God, and put a new and loyal spirit in me. 

International Standard Version
God, create a pure heart in me, and renew a right attitude within me.

NET Bible
Create for me a pure heart, O God! Renew a resolute spirit within me! 

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Create in me a pure heart, oh, God, and renew your right Spirit within me.

GOD’S WORD® Translation
Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a faithful spirit within me.

Revival won’t come on its own. The people of God must prepare for it. Groundwork must be laid. We MUST plead with the LORD to “restore to us the joy of His salvation and grant us a willing spirit to sustain us” (Psalm 51:12). May we be ready and willing to give up anything and everything to get it.

Abba, I once again present myself to You. Make me clean inside and out so that people can see Jesus in me. May I be Christ to others in such a way that they want You, too. Give me opportunities to witness for You regardless of the cost. I am Yours. Amen.

 

Proverbs 16 2-16-20

February 16, 2020

What are we willing to give up for Christ’s plan to save sinners? Time? Money? Stuff? Schedules? Our very lives?

20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.

When we became Christians, we died and our lives became all about Him. If this was not explained to you before you chose Christ, I am sorry. I pray that you have grown enough in Christ to realize that He is WORTHY. To follow Christ, we must be willing to give up our homes and lives, our family, and to not look back.

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Homes and lives.

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Family

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62 Don’t look back.

Our memories tend to be selective when looking back. The children of Israel pined for Egypt in the desert; they “forgot” the slavery part of Egypt.

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” Numbers 11:4-6

They were being fed directly by God with manna and they complained about the food and the service! Be wary of those who would minimize God’s graciousness!

What we need to remember when we do ponder our past is this:

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

Instead, let us strive to be this way:

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. Titus 3:1-2

Why? Because of what Christ has done for us!

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7

Folks, that is reason enough to follow Him! But there’s an even bigger reason:

 

9 And they sang a new song [to Jesus], saying:

You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased for God
    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
    and they will reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
    and honor and glory and praise!”

 

We worship Jesus Christ, Yeshua Messiah, because HE IS WORTHY. We love Him because HE IS WORTHY. We serve Him because HE IS WORTHY. As we go to our respective churches today, may we praise the name of Jesus because HE IS WORTHY!

Dear LORD Jesus, Your Spirit bears witness to my spirit that YOU ARE WORTHY! May my entire life be wrapped around this truth. Direct me as You see fit, LORD. I give up everything and everyone for YOU. “I have set my face like flint” and will not look back upon anything in my life and wish to return. To YOU, O LORD, be all power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise in my life. Amen.

 

Proverbs 15 2-15-20

February 15, 2020

Do you talk like Jesus? Do gracious words come out of your mouth? How about the opposite? It matters!

The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
    but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

What does the Bible mean by “perverse?” According to the dictionary:

  • (of a person or their actions) showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences.
  • contrary to the accepted or expected standard or practice.
  • (of a verdict) against the weight of evidence or the direction of the judge on a point of law.

Examples of “perverse” are bitter (spiteful), raging, angry, fighting, slanderous, malicious, dispassionate, unforgiving (Eph. 4:31-32), immoral, impure, bawdy (obscene or inappropriate), fractious (divisive), jealous, envious (Gal. 5:19-20), selfish, vain, arrogant (Phil. 2:3), unloving and disrespectful (Eph. 5:33). I’m sure there are more. Any of these words can be substituted for the word, “perverse,” in verse four.

But, the LORD is not only interested in what comes out of our mouths, for He knows that our thoughts determine what we say. He wants to fix our hearts, which will in turn fix our mouths.

18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. Matthew 15:18

If we want to be more like Christ, then we need to start changing the way we think, which will change the way we feel, and will change the way we talk to others (thank you, Beth Moore).

26 The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked,
    but gracious words are pure in his sight.

In order to speak gracious words, we need to think gracious thoughts. BUT HOW? Well, it comes through daily washing our minds with the water of the Word.

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

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

We’ve heard these verses over and over–so, why won’t they stick? Here is what I have concluded: Until we are ready to ask the LORD how we should think and what we should say ALL THE TIME, we are not really ready to change. HE HAS AN OPINION–AND IT’S THE RIGHT ONE. Most times, we don’t want to ask because we don’t want to know because once we know, then we are accountable to Him. What we don’t realize is that we are ALREADY accountable to Him for every thought and every word. He wants to help us learn to be like Him! He loves us and wants the best for us. Only HE knows what that BEST is. He gave us His Spirit so that we can communicate with Him 24/7. Let’s take advantage of our advantage.

Let’s trust Him today–just today. Let’s try Him and see if He will open the windows of heaven and pour out His blessings (His peace, presence and participation in our lives) on us (loosely based on Malachi 3:10).

Abba, I know that opening my mind to You can be scary. I don’t really want to acknowledge what goes on in there. But, I realize that You know EXACTLY what I am thinking, and even why: You know the history of my life and its influences; You know my tendencies and my struggles; You also know my heart, which so desperately wants to be like You. Please give me the desires of my heart, O LORD (Psalm 37:4) even as I take delight in You. May I listen, trust and obey Your Voice all day today–and then tomorrow, and the next day, etc. Amen.

 

Proverbs 14 2-14-20

February 14, 2020

Jokes that mention the reproductive parts of the body are off-limits for Christians: They conjure up mental images.

This Valentines, we may be tempted to read and/or pass along jokes that get a little personal. As Christians who show Christ to the world, we must not take part in such activities. Here is why:

The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways,
    but the folly of fools is deception.

We are giving thought to our ways. Those who say, “I don’t see anything wrong with it,” are not seeing it from God’s perspective and will be deceived. What IS God’s perspective on such matters? Let’s take a look:

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.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.”

There are several great lessons to learn from this passage, but we will focus on one, and that is what Christ did when presented with a woman who was likely in a compromised position and, possibly, attire. He redirected His focus by writing in the dirt! He didn’t address the woman again until they were “alone” (His disciples were with Him). Even then, His attention was on her spiritual condition.

We, too, must learn to redirect our attention when confronted with jokes, stories, movies, etc. that call unseemly attention to sexual anatomy and functions. Let us be prudent and “give thought to our ways.” Today is a great day to begin–again! We are never too old to learn new spiritual habits.

Abba, thank You for teaching me this lesson when I was younger (34ish) albeit in a rather rude awakening. I wish I had learned it through teaching rather than through an awkward experience. Oh well; the point is that I learned it! Help me keep my mind where it should be, which is on whatever You are doing, LORD. Happy Valentine’s Day to YOU, Abba. Thank You for loving me. Amen.

Proverbs 13 2-13-20

February 13, 2020

Being satisfied with Jesus and in Jesus is what makes Christianity so great. Have you found sustainable satisfaction in Him?

4 A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

5 The righteous hate what is false, but he wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.

If you are wondering how these two verses go together, let me explain. We become righteous through the shed blood of Jesus Christ as our “replacement sacrifice.” Our lives are changed from being a stench to God to being a fragrant aroma to Him. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:2, “and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Let’s go Leviticus and look at what these phrases mean.

Sacrifice (heb. korban)- an object that helps the worshipper draw closer to God. Obedience is key.

Atonement (heb. kaphar, kippur)- to ransom by means of a substitute. Jesus is our substitute!

“Aroma” represented clean souls that are drawing near to God through repentance through atonement by means of a sacrifice. Let’s look at Ephesians 5:2 again:

and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

  1. Christ loved us and gave His life for us. Walking in His way is the least we can do!
  2. How much did Christ love us? John 3:16. He gave His life.
  3. Christ is our atonement, our substitute, and is the FINAL ATONEMENT for all mankind. 23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:23-25
  4. Because Jesus is a fragrant offering to God, we are, too! 14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

The heights of His love and the depths of His grace cause us to stand amazed in His presence! The longer I live and the more I study, the more amazed I am at the extent God has gone to get us back. I am with Paul when he exclaims,

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord [or known His plan]?
    Or who has been his counselor [to tell God how to save us]?”
35 “Who has ever given to God [in payment for our sin],
    that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:33-36

All we can say is, “Thank You, Jesus!” Now that we have His Spirit in us to guide us and to give us victory over our sinful nature, we can focus and concentrate on living righteous lives for Him, fully satisfied in Him and knowing that we are a sweet fragrance to Him and the aroma of salvation to those around us. WE HAVE SUSTAINABLE SATISFACTION IN CHRIST.

Abba, thank You for coming to earth in the form of Yeshua our Messiah and becoming the atonement/replacement sacrifice for us so that we did not have to die for our sins. Because of what You did for me, I, through Your power and presence and participation in my life, will live for you. Amen.

Proverbs 12 2-12-20

February 12, 2020

The life we live is like building a house. Be careful of the materials you use.

24 Diligent hands will rule, but laziness and in forced labor.

This entire chapter is about the natural benefits and/or consequences of our actions. The wicked who deal in wickedness are effectively the selfish who deal and selfishness. They act according to how they feel rather than what they know to be right.

Motivation is everything. Those who have the Holy Spirit are led and controlled by the Holy Spirit. Those who do not have His Spirit are controlled by their own selfish desires. We are naturally wayward people. We must learn to become a supernatural people by His power and His Spirit. In fact, we should not even try to be better versions of ourselves, but rather be reflectors of Christ. We can only be successful by His power, which is at work within us.

Colossians 1:29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

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

As we go through today, let us be aware of his presence, participate in his plan, and work according to his power.

ABBA, I know how hard it is because I struggle with it in my life. May I set myself aside and allow you to lead in my life. I don’t want to be a better version of me; I want to be a reflector of you! May it be so in my life today. Amen. 

Proverbs 11 2-11-20

February 11, 2020

Why would we pledge our heart and life to the LORD and then live for ourselves? That’s the worst kind of double standard.

We find that Solomon knew about double standards. He wound up reaping what he sowed by the kingdom being divided because of his waywardness, which was passed down to his son, and seemed to hit every other generation for centuries. Solomon preached against double standards; I just wish that he had practiced what he preached.

1 The Lord detests dishonest scales,
    but accurate weights find favor with him.

The integrity of the upright guides them,
    but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Many times, God doesn’t have to lift a finger for a duplicitous person to destroy himself; evil people are destroyed by evil. It’s what sin does to us. Jesus said, “The thief [sin] comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10. The destructiveness of sin is why God hates it so much.

What IS sin? It is arrogance that reveals itself in rebellion that displays itself in disobedience that reaps destruction.

ARROGANCE –> REBELLION –> DISOBEDIENCE–> DESTRUCTION

Here are some more verses that pertain to the fate of those who deal in double standards:

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

From today’s chapter:

The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight,
    but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness [the fruit of their own schemes].

The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
    but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires [we can’t seem to get away from them].

20 The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse [strong word of warning],
    but he delights in those whose ways are blameless [strong word of blessing].

By the way, “blameless” is how we are when we are subject to the LORD’s commands and leadership. When He tells us to do something, we stand blameless for the results; HE takes all responsibility and credit for our actions. It’s how things are supposed to work.

Today, may we listen, “bow our heart’s knee”, and obey the LORD’s commands. May we love as He loves, care as He cares, and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to all who will listen–as He leads. Let’s be looking for opportunities so that He doesn’t have to use something major to get our attention…!

Abba, may You reveal in my life any double standards I have. I want to be righteous and holy, so please turn up the heat on my kettle so that I may shine as silver purified seven times, as gold refined in the fire. I know that revival starts in MY heart, so, “Lord, send a revival and let it begin in me.” Amen.

Proverbs 10 2-10-20

February 10, 2020

Focusing on Jesus is a discipline. Lots of times we don’t feel like doing it, but we KNOW it’s right.

4 Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.

OR,

4 Lazy habits make for spiritual poverty, but diligence in the spiritual disciplines brings blessings.

RESET. That’s what I call it. When I am in a “don’t want to” mode, I reset by acknowledging that I am in such a mode (or mood), changing my schedule, and thanking Jesus for loving me anyway. I then go over all the Scriptures I know pertaining to how I should be when I am Spirit-led. Like these:

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

 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Humility. Philippians 2:3-5

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance [patience, long-suffering], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness [my big one] and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

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. Ephesians 4:2-3

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 [“we will guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride], always trusts [always giving the benefit of the doubt], always hopes [that each of us will live as Christ wants us to live], always perseveres [keeping at it and never giving up]. 8 Love never fails [we always win!]. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

There are more, but those are the big ones. They are certainly enough for us to chew on for the rest of the day. Let’s ask the LORD which ones(s) He wants us to work on today and get after it. I’m sure that we will have plenty of opportunities to practice…!

Abba, sometimes I’m just tired. But I know that it’s no excuse to act in an ungodly fashion. So, may You well up inside me and give me all the grace I need today to be You to others. Coffee helps. Thank You. Amen.

 

Proverbs 9 2-9-20

February 9, 2020

From what is Christ calling you away? To what is He calling you? Is there something He is addressing in your life?

Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
    whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
    rebuke the wise and they will love you.
Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
    teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

The LORD’s voice is plain and evident in a Christian’s life. It’s how we came to Him in the first place: He spoke to us, convicting us of sin, and asking us to give ourselves to Him. He came into our lives and has been part of us ever since.

In your relationship with Him, have you made yourself available to Him on a regular basis? Have you honed the weapon of prayer? Let’s look at some ways to sharpen our prayer lives:

  1. Praise– Praise is telling God who He is. It’s a confession and acknowledgement of His attributes and deeds. One of those deeds was to save us, therefore we sing about our salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ.
  2. Listening– Listening for God to speak is not easy. We are an impatient people. There are so many things that have our attention that He waits until we clear our minds of those things–that takes time!
  3. Waiting– In time, He will prompt us to pray for a certain thing, event or person; He may prompt us to address a certain issue in our lives; He may call us to pray over someone. This “Season of Prayer” is very important to the people of God, His Church. In fact, it is the MAIN EVENT in worship.

They [the remaining disciples] all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the [men,] women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers [120 people in all]. Acts 1:14 Ten days later and while they were meeting, Pentecost happened! Read it in Acts 2.

A little later, Peter healed the lame man at the temple gate and Peter and John were called before the Sanhedrin (religious powers). They were threatened to not speak about Jesus. they went back to their group and had a prayer meeting, praising the LORD for the privilege to testify on His behalf. Here’s what happened:

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. Acts 4:31

So, how do we get back to prayer in our churches? All my life, church has been about honoring God, but mostly from a third person aspect. We laud Him, but from a distance. I would like to change that. I’m not sure how, but I’m trusting God to lead me. I KNOW He is leading Bryan, my pastor. Please pray for us as we seek His will in this matter.

In the meantime, join me in prayer every chance we get to meet together. Pray for me as I pray for you:

Abba, I lift up my brothers and sisters in Christ today that this day will be one of special importance to them, for it is the day that You call them to a higher and closer walk with You. May You make Yourself plain and evident to them. Speak to them even as You did Moses, “With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD.” Numbers 12:8. I know it can be scary, but experiencing You gives us hope for today and bright hope for the future! Give them–give us!–as taste of Your glory, LORD. It’s addictive and I cannot get enough!!! Amen–for now.

Proverbs 8 2-8-20

February 8, 2020

WE NEED CHURCH! The Church is the body of Christ, and we need Christ, therefore, WE NEED CHURCH!

I love those who love me,
    and those who seek me find me.
18 With me are riches and honor,
    enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 My fruit is better than fine gold;
    what I yield surpasses choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
    along the paths of justice,
21 bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me
    and making their treasuries full.

When we seek the LORD among His people, He reveals Himself in our fellow Christians. He speaks to us through the body of Christ; He encourages us, lifts us up, admonishes us, exhorts us, teaches us, surrounds us, and fills us. There is something unique to corporate worship that we can’t get anywhere else. It’s a Spirit thing.

Consider the warning given at the end of the chapter:

32 “Now then, my children, listen to me;
    blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise;
    do not disregard it.
34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
    watching daily at my doors,
    waiting at my doorway.
35 For those who find me find life
    and receive favor from the Lord.
36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
    all who hate me love death.”

When we get the attitude that we don’t need to go to church today, it had better be because the LORD has released you for the day to have private worship with Him. He does that sometimes, but it is NOT the norm. Here are some stipulations:

  • Spiritual fast- God calls us to separate ourselves for private worship for a season and for a specific task or reason;
  • Spiritual abuse- God does NOT call us to remain in a spiritually abusive situation. People who make us feel unnecessarily guilty in order to manipulate us are being spiritually abusive. STAY AWAY FROM THEM. Find somewhere else to worship.
  • Seasons of rest- Travel with family for a vacation is acceptable, provided that we don’t take a spiritual vacation while we’re gone. Consider having at least a devotional together wherever you are that Sunday morning.

Otherwise, GAME ON! Even if we need to “suit up” when we go to church, God still calls us to meet together regularly. It’s been His established way of meeting with us for 2,500+ years. It’s not about things making sense; it’s about our obedience. Are we willing to do things His way for His purposes? We don’t have to know the reasons behind His promptings. We have died to ourselves and are allowing the LORD Jesus to live through us. He owes us NO EXPLANATION!

Today or tomorrow, let’s make a point of worshiping the LORD in a corporate setting. Whether it’s in a living room or a 2000 seat auditorium, “set your face like flint” to do what He has called us to do, which is meet together regularly.

25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

Abba, I know it seems like I have a vested interest in people coming to church, but it’s more than that. You KNOW that I serve You because I believe in what I am saying. You called me first as a Christian to follow You and to serve You as a regular person in the pew. You then called me out to serve You vocationally. Whether I serve You in a church full-time or whether I’m just a regular church member, I WILL meet regularly with Your body of believers because that’s a side of You I can’t get any other way. Make me a well-rounded follower of You, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 7 2-7-20

February 7, 2020

Make sure that the voice you are following is the LORD’s. The Spirit speaks to us in certain ways. Find them out!

25 Do not let your heart turn to her [temptation] ways or stray into her paths.

What does the voice of the Holy Spirit sound like? In order to answer this question, we must know the temperament of God. God is:

  1. Holy- He is pure in His thinking, utterly righteous, and cannot be tempted, nor does He tempt anyone. “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;” James 1:13
  2. God came to earth as Jesus, therefore, we can address Jesus knowing that we are addressing God. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel [God with us]. Isaiah 7:14
  3. Jesus is gentle and humble in heart. He will NOT force His will upon anyone. He will certainly guide circumstances, but each of us has the right to choose to listen and follow Him. 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.” Matthew 11:28-30
  4. His Spirit lives in us and guides us. Will we listen? He uses:
    1. prayer (our conscience and the “still, small voice” [1 Kings 19:12] and the voice right over our shoulder [Isaiah 30:21]),
    2. the Bible [2 Timothy 3:16-17],
    3. other people, particularly believers [Hebrews 10:24-25],
    4. and circumstances [Acts 16:6].

Our job is to avail ourselves to Him. If we are listening and ready to move at His command, then we will be able to discern His instructions and follow His voice. He will empower us to do whatever He asks of us and we will be full of Him–His love, joy and peace–as we minister in His name, be His hands and feet to others, and be His ambassadors to the world.

To this calling we must pledge ourselves anew every morning. Are you READY?

Abba, I pledge myself to You today to follow Your lead in humility, but boldness; kindness, but straightforwardness; gentleness, but with passion. May I disciple as I go through today. May I minister where You lead me to whomever I am with. I find great joy in Your presence and Your participation in my life. LET’S DO THIS! Amen.

 “I pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strength, with all I am
I will seek to honor His commands
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb”

I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb-Ray Boltz

Proverbs 6 2-6-20

February 6, 2020

Vigilance is important. If we quit rowing, we will be carried downstream, thus losing our momentum, and entrapping us.

There are two examples given in today’s chapter that we will apply to our lives. The first one is:

How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
    When will you get up from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest—
11 and poverty will come on you like a thief
    and scarcity like an armed man.

There are things we do all the time concerning maintenance; for instance, dog owners run the risk of getting fleas in their carpet if they don’t vacuum regularly and wash their dogs; if we don’t wash the sheets on our beds regularly, we run the risk of getting bed bugs; the same goes for getting lice if we don’t wash our hair regularly.

In the same way, we must stay focused and diligent in our Bible study and prayer, our worship time and our fellowship with others or we will open ourselves to leaving the paths of righteousness and losing our way. Trust me, the devil has plenty of delectable “paths” for us if we take our eyes off the LORD. We’ve read verses 10 and 11 over in chapter 24:

30 I went past the field of a sluggard,
    past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
31 thorns had come up everywhere (he had become bristly and hard to deal with),
    the ground was covered with weeds (his daily life was in a shambles),
    and the stone wall was in ruins (his spiritual life was in decay).
32 I applied my heart to what I observed (being smart is learning from our mistakes…)
    and learned a lesson from what I saw (being wise is learning from others’ mistakes):
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest—
34 and poverty will come on you like a thief
    and scarcity like an armed man.

The Spirit desires our company. Why do we deny Him? Most times, it’s because we have sinful things we want to do and being with Him interferes with our plans. If anything, we are afraid of what He might ask of us. WE want to be in charge of our lives, even though we KNOW that it will not end well, which leads us to the next example:

My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
    if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,
you have been trapped by what you said,
    ensnared by the words of your mouth.
So do this, my son, to free yourself,
    since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:
Go—to the point of exhaustion—
    and give your neighbor no rest!
Allow no sleep to your eyes,
    no slumber to your eyelids.
Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
    like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

When we find ourselves in a mess, caught in a trap, and drowning in quicksand, let us not be too proud to cry out to God. The realization of our predicament is actually Him opening our eyes to our present condition (see the parable of the lost son in Luke 15, esp. v17); this action is called, “CONVICTION.” It comes with His PRESENCE. In His PRESENCE, we feel His love for us; as we give ourselves over to Him, we receive His peace, which leads to joy. Who DOESN’T want these aspects in their lives?! As He leads us, He walks us through the steps to get out of the snare we are in and leads us back to the path of righteousness. Thankfully, we get usually back to the path much quicker than we got away from it.

Knowing that we are all one step away from leaving the path, let us be diligent about our time with the LORD and serve Him with willing hearts. Let us be ready in season and out of season (anytime, whether it’s convenient or not) to give an account for our faith, to help a brother or sister in need, and to make godly choices.

Paul gave this charge to Timothy, and is applicable for us today:

“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Timothy 4:2

Abba, once again I place myself on Your altar. I know I keep crawling off; may You seek me every time and turn me around. I know I am happiest when I am at Your side, looking up at You. I also know that I am the most productive when I am there. You have a way of making little into much (I’m thinking of Your miracles with the bread and fish). May You do that in my life and with my life, LORD. Use me as You see fit; You are the Potter and I am the clay. Mold me and make me according to Your will. I reserve nothing for myself. Amen.

Proverbs 5 2-5-20

February 5, 2020

Maintenance is important for cars, houses, our health, and our spiritual lives. DAILY maintenance is prescribed.

1 My child, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, 2 that your lips may preserve knowledge.

Living on yesterday’s grace–not a good idea! Each day, we get up as new creations in Christ who need the nourishment of the Spirit and fellowship with our heavenly Father and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Scriptures to consider:


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

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that when we are saved, we become new creations. This verse tells us that EACH DAY we become more and more like our Savior. We can either help or hinder the Spirit as He works in us (Eph. 4:30 “quench” = “hinder”).

11 “Give us this day our daily bread…” John 6:11

Bread in that day had no preservatives, so it became stale overnight. We also have the reference to manna, the bread from heaven, which spoiled overnight–except on the day before Sabbath, where it lasted two days (Exodus 16:21-26).

25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

Christian history tells us that even a century after Paul (read about Justin the Martyr in 168 AD), Christians would meet together each day before daybreak for prayer and encouragement, and to be lights in a dark world as they went to work. We would do well to consider meeting more often for the same reasons.

Please pray with me on this matter: I sense that God is about to do something unusual at Brookwood. I would like to begin going to church early in the morning for an hour of prayer. I would begin with one day a week and then go from there. I am asking for guidance as to what day and what time. I am also asking for people to join me there as the Spirit leads. I will update you as I receive confirmation from the Spirit.

Abba, You know my heart. I want to be attuned to Your Spirit, and prayer is the only way I know to do that. Bible study is important, too, because You speak to me through Your Scriptures, but it is in prayer that I fellowship and commune with You. Lead me in this endeavor, O LORD, for I feel Your urging to do it. Amen.

 

 

 

Proverbs 4 2-4-20

February 4, 2020

We must be careful not to make our salvation all about us because it’s really all about Him. He is our all in all.

26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.

Get wisdom, get understanding;
    do not forget my words or turn away from them.

Our Salvation is due to His sacrifice. He deemed us worthy to be saved, therefore we have  incredible worth- the blood of our God! Salvation came to us not when we said a prayer, but when we recognized His great gift of salvation through His blood and responded by bowing our head and knee. It’s for His glory that we are saved, not our happiness. King David said,

Not to us, Lord, not to us
    but to your name be the glory,
    because of your love and faithfulness. Psalm 115:1

The story of His great sacrifice is given in Philippians 2. Let’s read it:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge [confess] that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

 

Through our salvation, we have given Him our lives for Him to use as He wishes. We have died to ourselves and now live for Him, with Him living through us (Galatians 2:20). If He asks us to suffer for His glory, do we need to understand why in order to submit? NO! Dead people don’t have opinions, nor do they make decisions about what is fair. If we want fair, we have only look at our lives and see that fairness would gain us hell!

When we gave our lives to Jesus Christ, we did so because He is worthy. We join in the song that is being sung around His throne in Heaven right now:

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
    and honor and glory and praise!” Rev. 5:12

Our happiness is founded and sealed in knowing Christ and having His Spirit in our hearts and lives. Anything else good that happens to us is gravy. God is continuously putting us in places for our lights to shine. I personally think that He puts us in place for even one person! Even as Moses was arguing with God about not being His spokesman, God already had Aaron on the way to meet him (Ex. 4:14).

Our satisfaction comes from knowing that we are being of use to Christ. Any good things that we experience are secondary to our primary function: Being available for His purposes. The neat part comes from knowing that being in His presence brings us overflowing peace, joy, hope,  grace, and a true sense of His love for us. We also have this promise from Him:

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. John 17:24

So, what do we say to growing old? To His glory! What do we say to cancer? To His glory! Persecution? To His glory! Hardship? To His glory! We  glorify Him the most when all we have to praise Him for is His worthiness. In fact, our lights shine the brightest in our darkest moments.

If you are going through a trial or “dark moment,” be encouraged. You have the opportunity to give glory to Him, to praise Him for Who He is–with no other apparent reason for praising Him–and for letting your light shine for Christ. Trust me, someone is watching. May that person come to Christ because of your sufferings.

As we look forward to this Sunday, may we say with David, “Not to us, O LORD, but to Your name be glory.”

Abba, I realize that I have not had to suffer much in my life so far. At the same time, You have called me to set aside my own life for Your will. You know that I was ready on several occasions if You had called upon me to give my life. I once again offer myself to You for You to use in whatever way will bring You the most glory. Sincerely yours, Kelly.

Proverbs 3 2-3-20

February 3, 2020

Our connection with God is never lost, but it can become corrupted. Keep those lines of communication open!

3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

How much we’re willing to trust God depends on how much we are willing to talk to Him. As much as God likes for us to read His Word and do His will, He prefers for us to be in contact with Him all the time. In fact, in order for us to correctly interpret what we read, we need Him to tell us how to interpret it. Also, in order for us to please Him in what we do, we need to do it WITH Him. He doesn’t need for us to do anything FOR Him.

Ephesians 6:18 tells us to pray always. Here it is in a few versions:

ESV- praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

NIV- And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

AMPC- Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).

CJB- as you pray at all times, with all kinds of prayers and requests, in the Spirit, vigilantly and persistently, for all God’s people.

NLT- Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

MSG- In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

As we can see, our connection with the Spirit is vital, and our connection with each other is maintained through prayer. One way to see prayer is as a conduit between us and God, and us and each other. The Spirit flows from God to us, and then from us to one another. How clean the pipes are and how open they are depends upon us. The Spirit is ALWAYS flowing–we just tend to allow our pipes to become corroded, or we neglect to open the valves.

The other reason for praying for each other is to take our eyes off of ourselves. Intercessory prayer is a selfless act. It pleases God. Our Savior set the example, and we follow it via His Spirit.

9 “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.”

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message [us!], 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:9-11, 20-23

The best way to evangelize is through prayer. As we pray, the LORD will instruct us on where to go and when, who to see, and what to say and do. Often, God uses us through or prayers to open doors so that others can witness boldly. It’s all according to His Plan. Only He knows, so we ask. Our faith is in believing that He is working in and through us, and, as we see His Plan working, our faith grows.

Let’s water those seeds and stretch those muscles in prayer today. May we ask the LORD to speak to our hearts and to make His presence and will known to us today.

Abba, You speak to us constantly. We have only to turn our attention to You and listen to what You say. I know that my level of comprehension goes up as I read Your Word. It’s like a vocabulary book for interpreting what You are saying. It gives me context and background for what You will and won’t ask or do. In fact, Your Spirit uses the very words I read to speak to my heart! May my “face” be turned toward You all the time, and when I feel myself turning away to look at something else, remind me, O LORD, to turn back to You (the very definition of repentance). I love the words to the old hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” May I keep my eyes fixed on You, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 2 2-2-20

February 2, 2020

Do we really want to know God? He is only a page away. He wants to reveal Himself to us in His Word. Read it!

If you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding [of Himself, His ways, and eternity].

Christians WANT to follow Jesus. The Spirit within us creates in us a desire to know Him. Even as I type this, the Spirit within me is reminding me of the verses where I learned it. Let’s look at Romans 8:

16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

This verse is our foundation. Without the Spirit, we cannot be God’s children. The best test for salvation is to ask God if we are His and hear the Spirit cry, “Yes!” Along with that cry comes His peace, His love, and His joy. Are you ready? Let’s try it: Go!

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Here is the verse to which I was referring. His Spirit leads us to follow Christ; He even gives us the desire to follow Him, and then empowers us to follow Him. Philippians 2:13 is another good verse to memorize. Here it is in the Amplified version:

13 For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you [through the Spirit], both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing (desire) and the ability (power) to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.

Are you resisting following God? Why? Are you too attached to your toys? a certain lifestyle, afraid of a certain type of people? that God will call you to do something distasteful? Are you enjoying sin too much? in too deep? Is the Holy Spirit calling you right now to give to Him whatever it is that is keeping you from Him? It’s destroying you–in more ways than you know! It is setting up a foundation and platform of destruction of your relationship with God, your spouse, your children, your friends, your boss and co-workers–with everyone! Sin isolates and then destroys us, which is why God hates it so much and calls His children to turn away from it and turn to Him for life! Jesus said, “The thief [the devil] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full [abundantly]. John 10:10

Let’s search for Him as for “hidden treasure” today, presenting ourselves before Him as His servants and He our God. It’s what we were re-born to do!

Abba, I know that You are calling me to a higher, closer walk with You. I pray that as You call others that they will not resist You. “You do not delight in sacrifice (good deeds alone), or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings (one-way prayers). My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Psalm 51:16-17).” “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).” Amen.

Proverbs 1 2-1-20

February 1, 2020

Through the lens of the New Testament, the Old Testament comes to life! Learning about Jesus never gets old.

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They are a garland to grace your head
    and a chain to adorn your neck.

The teaching that the parents taught their children began like this:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

All of the laws of Moses were learned as the parents taught the children. One of the laws was about uncleanness:

“‘If anyone becomes aware that they are guilty—if they unwittingly touch anything ceremonially unclean (whether the carcass of an unclean animal, wild or domestic, or of any unclean creature that moves along the ground) and they are unaware that they have become unclean, but then they come to realize their guilt; or if they touch human uncleanness (anything that would make them unclean) even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realize their guilt; when anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned. As a penalty for the sin they have committed, they must bring to the Lord a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for them for their sin.

According to the Law, when the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and when Jesus took the hand of Jairus’ daughter, He should have been defiled and become unclean, thus having to make atonement for his sin through sacrifice. INSTEAD, let’s read what happened:

20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up.26 News of this spread through all that region.

IF Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), THEN this passage would have been applicable:

25 The sin offering is to be slaughtered before the Lord in the place the burnt offering is slaughtered; it is most holy. 26 The priest who offers it shall eat it; it is to be eaten in the sanctuary area, in the courtyard of the tent of meeting. 27 Whatever touches any of the flesh will become holy… Leviticus 6:25b-27a

THEREFORE, when the woman touched the hem of His cloak and Jesus took the girl by the hand, instead of being defiled, they became holy! THEY RECEIVED LIFE! This process is what happened to us when we received Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord. He took us by the hand and raised us from the dead, thus making us holy in His sight!

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin [sacrifice] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Let us thank God for so great a salvation through the redeeming work of His Son, Jesus Christ. He has made us holy! He has set us free from the bonds of sin and death, “so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36).”

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for saving me! You have made me holy. You have also made me blameless as I am obedient to You; if I am following Your guidance and direction, then whatever problem someone has with me must be taken up with You. May I take the righteousness imparted to me very seriously. Help me to live for You today as we walk together and fellowship together. I love You, Lord. Amen.

 

 

Proverbs 31 1-31-20

January 31, 2020

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit is what makes us children of God. He is our “proof” of salvation. Listen to Him.

1 A Wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

How did she get that way?  From where did her noble character come? It came from the Spirit of God! Part of her “getting up early (v.15)” is about having her time with the LORD, orienting herself to His will and His purposes. We would do well to do the same! Paul tells us how in Ephesians 4:

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 

Grieve- to distress mentally; cause to feel grief or sorrow; to quench or restrict. To ignore. Humanly, it causes consternation and frustration and even disappointment, but those are human traits. God, in His Omniscience, KNOWS our weaknesses and has made provision for them through His GREAT love and grace through the cross.

Rather than living in a constant state of fear that we might grieve the Holy Spirit, He wants us to live in confident fellowship with Him so that by being with Him we (super) naturally do what He desires and is leading us to do. Consider these verses:

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person [in intimate fellowship], and they with me. Revelation 3:20

But if we walk in the light [walking with the Spirit], as he is in the light [as Jesus did], we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

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

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

Jesus never asks us to do something that He is not ready to empower us to do. Granted, He may not empower us until we begin to try, so don’t wait on a feeling to get started. Let’s follow a thread concerning this concept:

If Philippians 2:13 is true and He gives me first the desire and then the power to do His will, then as I begin to put off my old self, “which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires” (Eph. 4:22), I will feel His participation and His presence, and ultimately, His power as He works in and through me. As I sense Him, I can now focus on putting on the new self, “created in righteousness and holiness” (v.24). I have an active role in my “being made new in the attitude of my mind” (v.23). All the details fall under this procedure.

May we strive to put this procedure into action today–all day, many times today.

Abba, even as I point others to this truth, I realize that I have three fingers pointing back at me! May I live what I “preach” as I go through today, and tomorrow, and the rest of my life. I understand that Your blessing and Your pleasure are waiting for me through my interactive obedience. I know that when I walk in step with You that I feel the love, joy, peace, hope and grace emanating from Your Presence. You DESIRE me to experience these attributes! May I take advantage of all of the benefits of being Your child, O God. Amen.

 

Proverbs 30 2-30-20

January 30, 2020

Are you lacking in zeal? Have you lost your spiritual fervor? Plug into the SOURCE: Jesus and His Word!

5 Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.

1 In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word [Jesus] was with God, and the Word [Jesus] was/is God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.In him was/is life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines [Jesus] in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-4

How do I know that Jesus is the Word of God? A little later in that chapter, John tells us that, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (v14).” 

Let’s combine these verses with Proverbs 1:23,

Repent at my rebuke!
    Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
    I will make known to you my teachings and pour out my heart to you.

So, it makes sense that if we read His Word, then we are conversing with God through Jesus Christ as His Spirit makes known to us His thoughts and His heart.

As we read, we receive handles of truth that the Holy Spirit uses to teach us and guide us. For instance, I read this morning Romans 12:9-21, in which are these verses:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

  1. In order to love, I must be sincere in my love. No flattery or talking about that person behind his/her back. I must truly love that person as a brother or sister in Christ, or a prospective one.
  2. As I learn what God hates and what He loves, I cling to the good and get rid of the bad. I even learn to hate evil because it destroys people, relationships, and everything good.
  3. I learn to devote myself to Christ who calls me to be devoted to others. I must be concerned with meeting their needs as they arise–according to His guidance. Many times, coordinating to meet that need is better than meeting it myself.
  4. Putting others’ needs before my own is what honoring each other is all about.
  5. In these things, we are to be zealous. We keep our spiritual fervor by diving into His Word for refreshment of spirit and time with Him. We bask in His love and the joy, peace, hope and grace that emanate from Him. Serving the LORD is a PLEASURE!

May these truths come alive in our lives today as we make time in our schedules to read His Word and entrust ourselves to His guidance. It’s all about the relationship.

Abba, may You become alive to us as we read Your Word. May You speak to us through it even as we read it. May You call to mind truths that You want us to apply and when You want them applied. As we obey, may we feel Your love, joy, peace, hope and grace, O LORD. Give us a sense of YOU. Amen.