Proverbs 29 11-29-20

The onion was peeled back a little further for me. I stepped back another step. From my journal yesterday morning:

2 When the righteous thrive [righteousness thrives in us], the people [we] rejoice; when the wicked rule [wickedness rules over us], the people [we] groan.

“Abba, I praise You and thank You for the

Ever-Transforming Power of Your Love!

I realize that Your mercies are new each and every morning (Lamentations 3:19-24) because Your love is ever-transforming me. The old is wasting away, but inwardly I am being renewed day by day, moment by moment (2 Corinthians 4:16-18), ever-becoming transformed.

I am constantly, eternally, a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). You WILL be faithful to complete the process You began in me (Philippians 1:6) because it’s not as much WHAT YOU DO as it is WHO YOU ARE. Your presence in my life IS the transforming power of Your love. Even when I sin, You are with me, so I am still being renewed. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like to sin: It messes with my awareness of newness. I begin to believe the lies that maybe You don’t love me anymore because I can’t seem to not sin, that I’m not renewed: I’m dirty, filthy, unworthy, worthless, and unable–or unwilling–to be redeemed. With each accusation comes a chain with a clasp, and in my weakness and deception, I put them on (allow them to be put on)–but then, Christ reaches over and takes them off! I am free! Whole! Complete in Christ! I am NEW! Every time! ALL the time! And I REJOICE!!! Thank You, LORD Jesus. May You be forever praised! Amen.”

Learning to think this way is what the
victorious Christian life is all about.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul tells us about our upcoming bodies, bodies that have NO SIN NATURE! Until then, he tells us this:

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

Paul began his letter to the Corinthians with this revelation:

He [Christ] will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ [which is a coming Day, but also every day in our hearts]God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

The MYSTERY of the GOSPEL of the KINGDOM of CHRIST is “Christ in us, the hope of glory (2 Corinthians 1:27),” but it’s more than that. It’s BETTER than that. It’s ALL that comes with His presence, which is godliness, or, GOD-IN-US. It starts NOW. Did you feel it? There. It happened again. Did you feel it that time? How about now? Are you excited, yet? Now? Keep working at recognizing it!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will catch the same vision I did. It’s all there in Your Word. May You prompt them to read it for themselves and appropriate it in their own lives. Bless us as we meet in Your name, whether physically or virtually. Amen.

Proverbs 28 11-28-20

If you think COVID is a free pass to do what you want, think again. God knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts.

If we feel free from going to church, having a quiet time, and fellowshipping with other believers, then there is something wrong with our relationship with the Father. These are things the Spirit desires and should be creating in us these same desires. We are either rebuffing His attempts or we do not have Him in us. So, which is it? Let’s assume that we all have Him in us, in which case, consider Jesus’ words from Luke 12:

 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

Lest you get the idea that God wants to do us ill-will, we must remember that Christ’s work on the cross had not been completed at the time of this conversation. At the same time, we must consider all of Christ’s words as eternal. So, what can we glean from this passage?

  1. The first thing we can do is look at the previous verse, which speaks of hypocrisy. Jesus wants us to live on the outside what is on the inside. Our heavenly Father knows the difference, so HE is the One we should “fear,” or, be about pleasing. To disregard His desires and design is to NOT fear Him.
  2. Secondly, we must consider what our heavenly Father really thinks of us. Jesus told us in verses 6-7 and 24: We are worth more than many sparrows. In fact, He considers us priceless. How do I know? Because our worth is based upon what He was willing to pay for us, which was His Son’s life–His own life. THAT’S how much He loves us, so THAT’S how much we are worth!
  3. Third, Jesus tells us in verses 4, 7, and 32 to not be afraid. Wait a minute! Didn’t He just tell us to fear Him who can kill the body and put the soul in hell? Where is the logic in that?! Well, it’s at the end of verse 32, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” What kingdom? His kingdom! It was coming! Bringing the kingdom was the PURPOSE of the CROSS. Through Jesus Christ, we have His kingdom IN us. What is His kingdom? HEAVEN IN US! Jesus came to earth to wrest control away from Satan and to enable us to join Him in His kingdom. One of these days, He will return to bring all things under the unity of Himself (Ephesians 1:9-10).

So, instead of fearing God’s wrath, let’s fear getting outside of the influence and guidance of the Spirit. We need not fear His anger (it is being stored up for those who are unrepentant); we need not fear someone else’s opinion because we base our worth and our faith on the Word of God, and we know that the Word of the Lord stands forever (1 Peter 1:24-25). In fact, let’s not fear at all. Believing the words of Christ drives out all fear (1 John 4:18).

Abba, I believe You. I believe You for salvation, I believe You for eternal life, and I believe that You are in my heart and life transforming me into Your image, which is holy, blameless, spotless, and pure. I believe that You are opening my mind to Your truth; please do so all the more, LORD Jesus! Amen.

Proverbs 27 11-27-20

COVID 19 is real! At the same time, we need not fear it. Why? Because our hope and trust are in the LORD!

22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding him like grain with a pestle [mortar and pestle is used grind up pills into powder], you will not remove their folly [fear, knee-jerk reactions] from him.

We can thank COVID 19 for showing us what is in our hearts. All of a sudden, going to church became a liability; singing together became a big deal, and even meeting with family is dangerous! What happens when we must weigh the cost–or potential cost–of what we have done perfunctorily for so long? We find out what is truly important to us.

So, how has your relationship with the LORD fared during the pandemic?

The exiles from Israel to Babylon found themselves in a similar predicament. Everything they had known had been uprooted–including them! Jeremiah sent them a letter giving them instructions on how to not only survive, but to thrive during their exile, which we can liken to our pandemic, especially if we have had to quarantine:

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:4-7

For us, it might be like Jeremiah saying, “Settle down and enjoy the solitude. Submit to your leaders’ admonitions. Don’t worry about getting sick; if you do, I will take care of you. Just don’t be the reason others get sick because of your stubbornness. Seek the peace and prosperity of your city, state, and country. Pray to the Lord for it, because if they prosper, you too will prosper.”

Verses 10-14 include a promise, a plan, a purpose, a provision, and a protection that I think we need to hear:

The Promise: 10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this placeIn God’s time, He WILL RESTORE us as a church and as a family.

The Plan: 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a futureWe can take great comfort in His plans. Just remember that His plans include taking us to be with Him someday.

The Purpose: 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Fellowship, companionship, worship. These are what our God desires! We don’t have to wait to give Him these. All we have to do is turn away from our willfulness and embrace the circumstances. Look for ways to fulfill His purpose. Virtual church, house church, private worship time, etc.

The Provision: 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heartThis verse is the “how to” of the passage. Are we seeking His face with all our hearts? Are we dying to the flesh (our own wills) and deliberately seeking His will alone? Are we choosing to praise Him regardless of our circumstances? We WILL find Him when we seek Him with all our hearts.

The Protection: 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivityI will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” God has this. We don’t have to worry. Even if we are never the same: Social distancing may become a permanent part of our society; masks may be a permanent requirement in certain places; testing may become an in-home regular thing. So what? How does that change His Promise? His Plan? His Purpose? His Provision or His Protection? It Doesn’t!

Let’s keep the main thing the main thing. Exalting our Savior, whether in life or in death, is what attracts those who are interested to Him. They are looking for something beyond COVID. Let’s give “it” to them. Let’s show them Jesus!

Abba, may You be exalted during this time of stress and uncertainty. May we rest in Your Promise, Your Plan, Your Purpose, Your Provision and Your Protection–not from the virus, but from the fear that comes with the virus. Three times in Luke 12 I read today, “Do not be afraid.” I take great comfort in those words! May my confidence be in You and You alone, O LORD. Amen.

‘Tis the season: We Three Kings-COVID version

Proverbs 25 11-25-20

If there is no desire to learn about God in His Word, then there may be a deeper problem than simple rebellion…

28 Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control [the Spirit].

Our desire to please God comes from the Lord inside us. His Spirit testifies with Him (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). If a person does not recognize this connection and learn to respond to it, then there may be NO SPIRIT present in his life. In other words, he may have “fire insurance,” but no true salvation!

Jesus painted a very sobering picture with a story:

24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” Luke 11:24-26

A person who accepts Jesus as Lord but does not surrender his life to Him may get a perception of salvation (fire insurance), but he didn’t get Jesus! In fact, he is actually worse off than if he had never responded to the Good News about Jesus: Like with a vaccine, he is now inoculated with the Gospel–he has a dead strain that keeps him for getting the real thing. Hear the words of Jesus Himself:

28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God [we read, He speaks] and obey it.” Luke 11:28

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.  24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. John 14:23-24

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23

To know Jesus means that we have Him as Lord of our lives. He lives in us; HE gives the orders and we obey. It really is that simple.

If you have any doubts about your salvation, just know that Satan will never make you doubt if you are lost. He wants you thinking you are saved when you’re not. But, if you are feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit, then do what you did at first: Make Him your first love. Give all you know of you to all you know of Him. And then find out all you can about Him IN HIS WORD.

Abba, I pray that every reader would feel some conviction about spending time in Your Word. May they receive a hunger and a thirst for Your righteousness, which is found in the pages of Scripture–both Old and New! Thank You for leading me to Jeremiah; WOW, what a book! I hear from every page, “WAKE UP!” May You wake me up, O Lord, and praise Your holy name, study Your holy word, and live a holy life. Amen.

Proverbs 26 11-26-20

Happy Thanksgiving! We give thanks that our God wants us to know Him; He has provided the perfect means…His Spirit!

A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the backs of fools.

We have the perfect scenario: God’s Presence, Provision, Participation, Protection, and Promise. Can we not see the great blessing we have received through Christ and His finished work on the cross? Why, then, do we “kick so hard against the goads”? (Acts 26:14)? If Christ is, indeed, Lord of our lives, then we have trusted Him for salvation. Let’s go the rest of the way and trust Him with our every step, every decision, even every breath.

The phrase, “Seeing is believing,” is only partially true. It should read, “seeing correctly is believing.” Jesus said,

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.” Luke 11:34-36

What do we have in our eyes? I used to think that we had colored glasses on, but now I realize that we actually have a film, like a cataract, growing over our eyes. Only Jesus can heal us.

In many ways, we are still blind. Spiritually, we can only see what the LORD illuminates. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, Psalm 119:105, is a classic example of the fact that we cannot see beyond where His light shines. It all comes down to trust. Do we trust Him? I promise you, the more you know about Him, the more you will trust Him. He is faithful; He is love; He has our future in mind all the time.

Today, let’s give thanks for the wonderful gift of salvation and the marvelous gift of His Presence/Spirit.

Abba, heal our eyes so that we can see You clearly. I know that as we do, we will believe You, trust You, and obey You. Thank You for so great a salvation and for leading us all the way to Your throne. Amen.

Proverbs 24 11-24-20

Again, if we trust the Word of God to be saved, why not trust it to tell us how to know Him and be like Him?

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

We tend to think of the Bible as a book that was inspired by God and written by men. Technically, this view is true, but it’s much more than that. The inspiration is the very breath of God–the same breath that breathed life into man. This breath is transcendent of time and breathes on us as we read His words. God converses with us using the words that He inspired men to write!

As I read this chapter of Proverbs, I am taken by this passage:

13 Eat honey, my son [child], for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. 14 Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

Where did Solomon learn this kind of word picture? From his Dad!

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103

Yet, they were inspired by God Himself. HE is the Father speaking to His sons and daughters. Don’t you want your heavenly Father to speak these encouraging words to you? Then, learn His words, His commands, His precepts and decrees. We have this promise from Peter (who got it from Isaiah 40:6-8), “the grass withers and the flowers fall [fade], but the word of the Lord endures forever.” 1 Peter 1:24b-25

There is a warning at the end of today’s chapter. It is what happens to a person’s life if he neglects learning the commands of his LORD:

33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest–34 and [spiritual] poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity [the ability to know the right thing and power to do the right thing] like an armed man.

Jesus has much to teach us and show us if we are willing to take the time to listen, look, and turn our thoughts away from ourselves and pay attention. The same LORD who saved you calls you to walk with Him in obedience. His FIRST directive is to learn all you can about what He has already said. Let’s get to reading!

Abba, the more I learn from Your Word, the more I realize there is SO MUCH to learn! I really believe that we will be learning about You, Your grace, and Your universe for eternity. Starting now is the only smart thing to do. It’s the WISE thing to do! I want to taste and see that the LORD is good;” I want to take refuge in You and Your word. Amen.

Birth and New Birth 11-22-20

The birth of Christ was a unique event: God coming to live in the body of a baby. Emmanuel means, “God with us.” Some people might think that because He was born that the Son didn’t exist before the Incarnation. Not So! Philippians 2:6-8 tells us that, “He, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped [hung onto], but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in the appearance of a man…As we can see, Jesus was with God BEFORE He came to earth. 

We get a clear picture of the Father’s Plan in Ephesians 1:3-4, “How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ. Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”

The same way that God came through Christ into the world, He comes into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Christ is born into our hearts even as we are born into Him! “…God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear Father.” Gal. 4:6 We tend to use the picture of baptism when referring to being born again, but Jesus eluded to this concept of being born in us when He was praying on the night He was betrayed, “My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father–that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me.”

Did you catch the reason for the “One” concept? It’s meant as the very thing that makes Christianity unique–and desirable. Being one with God through Jesus makes all His followers one. This oneness is what attracts future believers to Christ.

The presence of God in the world had been promised since Adam, again through Abraham, then David, and was finally delivered through Mary. It is interesting to note that the Old Covenant was never intended to save, but to show our need of salvation. Romans 3:20 says, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” It is also interesting to note that Jesus spent three years reversing the physical consequences of sin in people. There are only two people mentioned in the Gospels whose sins were forgiven: the paralytic who was let down through the roof (Matthew 9:1-8), and the woman at Simon the Pharisee’s home (Luke 7:36-50). There is one man who Jesus warned to stop sinning after he was healed, and that was the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15). Jesus’ miracles pointed to His Godhood and fulfilled the prophecies about the Messiah. He, indeed, was who He said He was.

It wasn’t until Jesus fulfilled God’s plan that was first stated in Genesis 3:15, elaborated upon in Isaiah 53, and then fulfilled on the cross that the mystery of the Gospel came to light. Part of this mystery is about God living in us. Paul sums it all up for us in Romans 5:1-5, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God…because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” It’s as if the pillar of fire that led the Israelites in the desert exploded at Pentecost and came to rest on each and every believer! He, the Holy Spirit, now leads us from the inside. We have been reborn, remade, refitted for the holiness, which is the Spirit of Christ in us.

Just as Christ was born into this world, so we are born into Christ and He in us. Christmas is truly a wondrous time of year; most people just don’t know why. Maybe we can help them. As we share the Christmas story about the birth of Christ, let’s include the event of our own birth into God through Christ and how Christ has been sent to live in us.

The Incarnation in us is the PURPOSE of Christmas.

Proverbs 23 11-23-20

Every Word of God is applicable to our lives, either directly or indirectly. Loving it is a sign of spiritual maturity.

12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.

The prudent [spiritually mature] see danger and take refuge, but the simple [minded, closed to the voice of God in His Word] keep going and pay the penalty. Proverbs 22:3

The question for the day is:

How much do you know about the Kingdom of God?

Here are some verses where Jesus introduces the kingdom to us:

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come.” Matthew 4:17

But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Luke 11:20

nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” John 18:36

Why would we believe what we have learned about God, Jesus, and salvation in the Word of God and then ignore the Word of God in our daily lives? It makes much better sense to study it like crazy to know how to live this life for God’s glory! Where is your appetite? Has it been dulled by “too many sweets?” High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener used in cokes, candy, and lots of processed foods and drinks. It triggers the same brain parts as heroin and creates appetite rather than slaking it. The more we eat/drink, the more we want. It’s much like Turkish Delight (for all you Chronicles of Narnia lovers out there).

Let’s get back to the Word of God. His kingdom is within you; how much do you know about it? His kingdom is also coming with Him when He comes. How much do you know about that kingdom? Again, where is your appetite?

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

May this verse be our mantra for the day.

Abba, may You increase my desire for Your Word even as I read it. Please continue to show me insights and increase my knowledge. Knowing You and about You is my whole desire (that I know of myself today). I am confident that tomorrow, I will desire You that much more!
Bring revival to our hearts and Your church, O LORD. We’re hungry for it! Amen.

Proverbs 22 11-22-20

Everything we hold dear to us acts as a filter between us and the LORD. He is the GIVER of all things. We must trust Him.

2 Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all.

The apostle Paul understood what it meant to have nothing between him and Christ. Once he met the Savior on the road to Damascus, he was all about Jesus and His mission. His relationship with our LORD is no different than ours–if we are willing to give up everything for Him and to Him. Daily. Hourly. Continuously. Even life itself. Here are Paul’s own words:

22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:22-24

Walking with Christ gave Paul a new perspective on life. He realized that Christ is LORD and King, that there is life beyond death, in fact, that it’s more real than this world! Ted Dekker, in his book, “Hacker,” page 268 says,

“…death isn’t death. It’s not the end because we aren’t just our minds or our bodies. We’re far more than just physical beings having a spiritual experience. We’re spiritual beings having a temporary physical experience.”

Paul understood that the kingdom of heaven began within him and joined him to a much larger kingdom that is far grander than we can conceive or experience while here on this earth in these physical bodies. It is what gave him courage in the face of such great trials and tribulations. Hear him again:

12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” Acts 21:12-14

We know that Paul did not die in Jerusalem; he went on to Rome and was beheaded by Nero, but not until he had several years to witness and to write. We are beneficiaries of these years and his writings.

What is so important in your life that keeps you from focusing on Christ? Security? Health? Wealth? Family? These are all gifts from God to us. So many in the world do not have these. Allowing God to have control of our security, health, wealth, and even our family is a great step toward spiritual maturity. Understanding that there is much more to us than what we know in this life allows us to let go.


Letting go; Surrender

Abba, this morning I am letting go of everything and everyone in my life so that You can be my One and Only focus. I trust You with everything, even my very life. May the words to this song be my motto:

I’m Yours, Lord, everything I’ve Got,
Everything I am; everything I’m not.
I’m Yours, Lord, try me now and see,
See if I can be completely Yours.

Proverbs 21 11-21-20

What goes through our minds usually finds a way to be expressed physically. Are we paying attention?

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

What we do begins in our minds. From our past right up to the present, we lay the groundwork for every deed we do, be it good or bad. For this reason, God wants us in His Word and in His presence daily. As we are washed by the Spirit in the water of the Word (see Ephesians 5:25-27), we set our minds on the right course; our deeds then follow.

The problem arises when our physical bodies try to control us through our desires through chemical processes released in the brain and body that create these desires. They seem overwhelming at times, but we have this promise:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear [endure]. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it [and escape]. 1 Corinthians 10:13

So, how do we beat our bodies at this game called, “DESIRE?” The apostle Paul tells us how he did it:

I beat [discipline] my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:27

For gals, this verse can apply to what happens when you focus–or choose not to focus–on your physical bodies. Some may not like the way they look, so they use makeup and other means to make themselves look “better.” Some may not care what they look like and “let themselves go.” We are all custodians of our bodies, therefore, it is important for us to take care of ourselves for ministry-sake; at the same time, we must remember that these bodies are NOT us, but are costumes that we will eventually take off at the “Great Reveal.”

For guys, this verse is particularly pertinent concerning what we see. We must be extremely careful to not “gaze upon” anything that leads our minds down the dark path, particularly concerning sex. Pictures, movies, drawings, cartoons–they all take our minds to places they shouldn’t be. If followed long enough, they will destroy your marriage or any chance of marriage. They will also keep you from becoming the man of Christ I hope you want to be.

We can take a lesson from Jesus in John 8:1-11 when Jesus was confronted with the woman caught in adultery–btw, where was the guy? “Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.” Jesus said more in this gesture than any sermon: He protected His eyes, He safeguarded her modesty (later, when it was just Him and her, he addressed her personally), and He drew the attention away from her. Guys, let us “go and do likewise.” When we are confronted with something that is inappropriate (or someone who is dressed inappropriately), LOOK AWAY! Look up; look down, look anywhere but at what’s in front of you. Cry out to Jesus to help you focus on Him and NOT on what has been presented to you. By all means, DON’T go looking for it! Jesus gives us POWER to win at the game of DESIRE:

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

We can do this in His power and His might, “‘Not my [our] might and not by [our] power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD.” Zechariah 4:6

Abba, may we draw on Your strength as we place ourselves totally and completely in Your hands. We know we are built for eternity; help us to not get so engrossed in this world that we miss out on preparing for the next world: Your Kingdom! Amen.

Proverbs 20 11-20-20

Crucified with Christ…crucified with Christ…crucified with Christ…have it memorized, yet? It’s how we are to live.

Many claim to have unfailing love,
    but a faithful person who can find?

Once we put our faith and trust completely in Christ for salvation, we might think that we would trust Him for everything. Actually, we spend the rest of our lives unlearning what we’ve learned in this world and learning how to depend upon Him. Here are three examples of people who wanted to follow Christ, but had a hard time launching (Luke 9:57-62):

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.”

Matthew 8:19 reveals that this person was a teacher of the law. Jesus, knowing His heart, saw straight through to his greatest concern, which was his trappings. He either drew security from his home, his family, his goods, and his position, or he liked his creature comforts. Jesus was letting him know that if he followed Him, he would have to give up all of those things.

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.”

Lest we think that Jesus was being insensitive, we must understand the phrase, “bury my father.” The man was saying that he wanted to stay with his father until he died. In other words, he would follow Jesus once he had gotten married, raised a family, and taken care of his parents until they died and he received his inheritance. Jesus was saying to come NOW and follow Him.

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.”

Evidently, there was some insecurity in this person. It seems that Jesus knew that if he went back to say goodbye to his family that he would be dissuaded in following Jesus. Family’s like that. They act out of feelings and, usually, what’s best for them. They may have had very good reasons for him not to follow Jesus–it doesn’t matter. If we trust Jesus with our lives, then we can trust Him to take care of whatever we leave.

“Crucified with Christ” is my mantra. It is part of Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live. This life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave Himself for me.” If He loves me enough to give Himself for me, then I gladly die to myself and live for Him. Him living through me is that for which I live! What sweet fellowship with Him! Eternity has truly begun for those who discover this truth.

This morning, read these passages in your own physical Bible (you’re more apt to remember them) and then give yourself to Him. Commit your life to Him for today and then allow Him to guide your every thought and action. Then, do it again tomorrow. Be His disciple!

Abba, I crucify myself; I take up my cross and follow You today (Luke 9:23). I deny what I want and what I think and commit to follow Your lead on everything. Make me sensitive to Your Spirit’s leading. May Your hand be upon mine in everything that I do; may You guard and guide every word that comes from my mouth–harness my thoughts! Being with You is what it’s all about. Amen.

Proverbs 19 11-19-20

What gives you your greatest satisfaction? Your wealth? A job well done? Relationships? What’s important to the Lord?

1 Better the poor whose walk is blameless than a [rich] fool whose lips [ways] are perverse.

As Christians, our greatest satisfaction should come in two ways. One is in our fellowship with the Father through the Spirit, and the other is in becoming like Jesus. The nice part is that we get one with the other. Jesus doesn’t want us to try to become like Him without His guidance, direction, and assistance. Consider these natural traits and then their spiritual opposites:

Pride——————————————Abandon (of self-consideration)
Sloth (laziness)—————————Diligence
Lust——————————————-Pure thoughts

Our problem is not IF we have trouble in any of these areas, but HOW they express themselves in our daily life. Jesus wants to help us with transforming these liabilities into virtues. Each of the natural traits is a raw, unrefined, unfocused, and even perverted form of the corresponding spiritual trait. It requires spiritual energy to put off the natural and put on the spiritual. Yet, that spiritual energy is exactly what Jesus wants to give us through His Spirit/Presence!

Consider this analogy: My father could give me a hammer and tell me to build a dog house. At 35, it would be easy, but at 4, it would be unreasonable. Given the fact that Jesus calls us little children, I am betting that we are more like 3 or 4 spiritually. So, instead of my father giving me a hammer and then expecting me to use it correctly, he puts the hammer in my hand and then places his hand over mine. When I swing at a nail, it’s really HIS aim and HIS power that does all the work–yet, I get the credit!

The same goes for each of these natural traits. Let’s look at some verses that help us understand this concept:

21 If you really listened to him [Yeshua] and were instructed about him, then you learned that since what is in Yeshua is truth, 22 then, so far as your former way of life is concerned, you must strip off your old nature, because your old nature is thoroughly rotted by its deceptive desires; 23 and you must let your spirits and minds keep being renewed, 24 and clothe yourselves with the new nature created to be godly, which expresses itself in the righteousness and holiness that flow from the truth. Ephesians 4:21-24 Complete Jewish Bible

Therefore, put to death the earthly parts of your nature — sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed (which is a form of idolatry);
Never lie to one another; because you have stripped away the old self, with its ways, 10 and have put on the new self, which is continually being renewed in fuller and fuller knowledge, closer and closer to the image of its Creator. 
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with feelings of compassion and with kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with one another; if anyone has a complaint against someone else, forgive him. Indeed, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive.

14 Above all these, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together perfectly; 15 and let the shalom which comes from the Messiah be your heart’s decision-maker, for this is why you were called to be part of a single Body. And be thankful — Colossians 3:5, 9-10, 12-15

Colossians 3:16 tells us the secret ingredient to a Christ-like life, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” The CJB says, “let the Word of the Messiah, in all its richness, live in you That’s not asking too much, is it? If Christ asked us to meet with other believers for fellowship each week, we wouldn’t think that was too much would we? Or, to give 10% of our check? or, give to missions or a friend in need? So, why is it so hard for us to read His Word daily and diligently? Because Satan knows that if he can keep us from reading, then he can keep us from having spiritual victory in our lives!

Brothers and sisters, let’s ingest the Living Bread by reading His Word daily. Let’s “crave the pure milk of the Word” and delight in its richness.

Abba, I pray that You will generate within us a hunger and a thirst for Your Word. May the Scriptures come alive to us! Speak to our hearts as we read and help us apply Your truths to our lives. Thank you for the wonderful gift of Your words, O LORD, that we may KNOW exactly what You mean, what You desire, and what You have in store for us. Amen.

SS 11-15-20 Ephesians 3

SS 11-15-20 Ephesians 3

Audio Lesson

Today, we read Paul’s testimony—not about his salvation, but about his calling. Let’s pick up his story in Acts 9:15.

The Lord Jesus had set Paul aside to be His spokesman to the Gentiles. Under ordinary circumstances, how would Paul have taken this news? Being visited by the Lord as had happened to him, how did he respond? How about us? If we have truly met with the Lord Jesus, how do we respond when He invites us to join Him in His work?

Let’s read Ephesians 3:1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-13

1. The mystery of Christ- what is this mystery that is mentioned in chapter 2?

2. What is the promise mentioned at the end of chapter 6? Hint: 1:18

3. “Though I am the least of all the Lord’s people”-read 1 Corinthians 15:9 and 1 Timothy 1:16. If Corinthians was written near the beginning of his ministry, Ephesians written in the middle of his ministry, and Timothy written near the end of his ministry, what is the progression of these three verses?

4. To whom was this mystery made known (v9-10)? What is the significance of 1 Corinthians 2:8?

5. Through what Christ has accomplished for us, how may we approach God (v12)?

6. What about verse 13?! What’s that all about?

Read Ephesians 3:14-17a (finish sentence), 17b (Pick up with new sentence)-19, 20-21.

1. Read Hebrews 4:16, Revelation 6:9-11, 7:9-11. Getting a better idea about the throne of God?

2. Our last name is His name!

3. Where does Christ strengthen us? How does He do that?

4. Dwell- Abide, live, rule. By what? What’s another word for it?

5. The Love of Christ—Read Ephesians 1:4-8. What do you think?

6. Let’s read verse 21 along with Ephesians 6:12. Who has our back? Who’s gonna win?

7. V.19- Filled to the measure—overflowing!

8. V. 20 How much can you imagine? It’s far beyond that!

9. The Church- How does Christ receive glory?

Conclusion: Since we are part of this mystery (the church), we have the same mandate to share it with others. What is this message? That Christ came from heaven to pay for our sin debt so that we can be reunited with the Father! Let’s live this message so that when we share it, we will have our lives as testimony to its authenticity.

Around the tables:

1. According to Galatians 3:28, what is the outcome of this mystery?

2. When approaching the throne of grace, how do you feel? What does God’s Word say about approaching His throne?

3. If God can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,” then why don’t most of our prayers get “answered?”

SS 11-8-20 Ephesians 2:19-22

SS 11-8-20 Ephesians 2:19-22

Audio Lesson

This morning, we begin with Hebrews 13:20-21 concerning the eternal covenant. Let us keep this eternal covenant in mind as we discuss this morning’s passage in Ephesians.

Read Ephesians 2:11-13, 14-18, 19-22

  1. We are no longer foreigners and strangers (v.12).
  2. We are fellow citizens with God’s people and now members of His household (v.19).
    1. He has made the two groups one (v.14).
    2. How? Through His flesh (v.15).
    3. He has fashioned one new humanity out of two (v.16).
    4. We are reconciled together through the cross (v.16).
    5. The Key: Access to the Father by one Spirit (v.18).
  3. We are being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.
    1. Apostles- read 1 John 1:1-4
    2. Prophets- read Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7
    3. Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone- Read Luke 20:17-18, Acts 4:9-12
  4. The whole building is being built to become a holy temple in the Lord (v.21).
    1. The New Jerusalem- read Revelation 21:9-11, 22-24, Ephesians 5:25-27, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Jude 24, and Revelation 21:11 again
    2. God’s Temple- read Galatians 4:6, 1 Corinthians 3:9&16, 6:15-17, 19-20
  5. We are being built together to become a corporate dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit (v.22). Read Galatians 3:28, Hebrews 3:6, Matthew 18:20.

So, through Christ’s flesh and because of His sacrifice on the cross, we who were far away and those who were near were joined together to create a new humanity, the Bride of Christ, and we are individual temples, but also a collective temple in which God lives. One day, Christ will come for His Bride. O, what a glorious day that will be!

We end like we began, with Hebrews 13:20-21, “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, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Around the Table:

  1. Was any of this material new to you?
  2. How does it change your view of the church? You and your place in Christ?
  3. Is this good news? How might you share it with other people who are Christians? Who are lost?

SS 11-1-20 Ephesians 2:11-18

SS 11-1-20 Ephesians 2:11-18

Audio Lesson

Let’s review 1 through 14:

  1. This letter is from Paul to the church in Ephesus, but also is a circular letter.
  2. We are blessed, chosen, holy and blameless, sons through adoption, all through the redemption we have received through the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.
  3. The mystery: to bring all things under the authority of Christ, to unify heaven and earth.
  4. The framework of salvation was in place before the foundations of the world were laid. All who put their hope in Christ are for the praise of God’s glory.
  5. Those who believe are marked with the seal of God, the promised Holy Spirit, guaranteeing our inheritance until we are fully redeemed (glorified in heaven).

Now, let’s review 15-23:

  1. Paul’s prayer is our prayer for each other.
  2. That the LORD would give us spiritual wisdom and revelation,
  3. That the eyes of our heart may be enlightened in order to know
    1. The hope to which He has called us,
    2. The riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people,
    3. And the incomparably great power for us who believe.
  4. Jesus is seated at God’s right hand over every name and every rule and authority.
  5. God has appointed Him to be head of the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.

Now, let’s review 2:1-10:

  1. We were dead spiritually because of our transgressions and sin.
  2. We followed the ways of Satan, gratifying the cravings of our flesh with no regard to God or His covenant and laws.
  3. We were by nature deserving of His wrath.
  4. Instead, because of His great love, He made us alive with Christ! Saved by grace!
  5. We are seated with Him in heavenly places.
  6. Examples of His incomparably rich grace, expressed through Christ Jesus.
  7. Saved by grace, not of ourselves, so that no one can boast.
  8. We are His handiwork, His masterpieces, created for His pleasure and His will.

Now, for the lesson, read 2:11-18. In order to set it up, let’s look at some other passages:

  1. Mark 14:48-49 Scriptures fulfilled
  2. Matthew 3:1-3, 4-6, 7-10, 11-12 Fire and winnowing fork = Judgment
  3. Malachi 3:1, 4:5-6 Repentance and judgment
  4. Mark 12:1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12
    1. To whom was Jesus referring?
    2. What did He mean by “cornerstone? Read Psalm 118:22-23, 20, 25-27, Matthew 21:42-44
  5. Mark 11:12-14, 20-21

Let’s tie it all together. Christ Jesus came to bring salvation to all who believe in Him, but to bring judgment upon all who don’t. He expanded Israel to mean Himself rather than the nation or the land. Read John 15:1-2. He is the TRUE VINE. See how He ties in the fig tree? See how He ties in Israel? He expanded salvation to the whole world. Remember how God can raise stones up to be children? Remember how Jesus said at His Triumphal Entry that if the people didn’t praise Him, that the very stones would cry out in praise (Luke 19:40)? Those who believe in Jesus Christ are connected to the TRUE VINE: God has made the two one! “His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross…” Ephesians 2:15-16

Around the Tables:

  1. How do we have access to the Father (see Ephesians 2:18)? How do Jews have access to God (trick question)?
  2. Read verse 11. From which group do you hail (Jew or Gentile)? According to verse 12, where did we stand with God and Israel before Christ? Where do we stand now because of the blood of Christ (v13)?
  3. Why is “put to death their hostility” so important a phrase? How should we feel about Jewish believers?
  4. How should we feel and act toward those Jews who do not believe in Yeshua as their Messiah? About all unbelievers, whether Islamic, Buddhist, Atheist, Communist, etc?

SS 10-4-20 Ephesians 1:1-10

SS 10-4-20 Ephesians 2 1-10 “The Back Story”

Audio Lesson

We know from Ephesians 1:4 that we have been chosen by God to be made holy and blameless in His sight. This happens through what we read in verses 5 and 6, which tell us that the framework of salvation was established through Jesus Christ before creation. We know that it is through the cross. The veil was ripped, thus marking an end to the old way of entering God’s presence (see Matthew 27:51). His subsequent burial and resurrection were all part of the process of Him proving He was Who He said He was. His resurrection inaugurates our resurrection! He is the firstfruits of those who rise from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20). 

With this process in mind, let’s read Ephesians 2:1-3, 4-5.

  1. Who is the “As for you” in this sentence?
  2. Before you were saved, did you have any idea that you were following the ways of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, Satan? Do you realize it now? Doesn’t the next phrase lock it down?
  3. Who lived following our sinful desires?
  4. What did we deserve?
  5. Why did God save us? What motivated Him?
  6. What specifically did He do for us (v5)? How have we been saved?

Let’s read verses 6-7, 8-9.

  1. We were raised from the dead, but where else were we raised to be? What does THAT mean? Read Galatians 2:20. How do the two relate?
  2. Someone read verses 8 and 9 from the New Living Version. 
  3. How much did we have to do with the act of salvation? Ask John-or someone- how much he had to do with his knee surgery. 

Now for verse 10 from the NLV: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

  1. What other words are used in other translations instead of “masterpiece”?
  2. Let’s look as some other passages that deal with the word (renew):
    1. Matthew 19:28
    2. Romans 12:2
    3. 2 Corinthians 4:16
    4. 2 Corinthians 5:17
    5. Ephesians 4:23
  3. Do you still think that salvation is an isolated experience? A one-time event?
  4. When did God plan for these good works? How are we supposed to do them? For that answer, go to John 5:19-20. Aren’t we supposed to be like Jesus?

In Two weeks, we discover that God has made one humanity out of two. Don’t miss!

Table Discussion:

  1. As we look back on our lives before Christ, we have many feelings. The one we are to focus on is gratefulness. In what ways are you grateful to the LORD?
  2. If I told you that our good works begin with finding out as much as we can about our heavenly Father, His Son, and the work of the Holy Spirit in us, would you believe me? What is the best way for us to accomplish this task? What would be second? What would be third? Fourth?

Key 1:

  1. We are the “as for you.” He was talking to everyone who read the letter, or had it read to them.
  2. The phrase, “the spirit who is even now at work in those who are disobedient,” tells us that everyone who is disobedient is being led by Satan. The NLV says, “the spirit who is at work in those who refuse to obey God.” It is the spirit of rebellion, that “I’ll do what I want” attitude. Oh, still have it? Pray that He will get rid of it for you!
  3. We all lived to satisfy our sinful desires. That was the point of sin.
  4. According to verse 3, we all deserved death, the wrath of God. What is spiritual death? Separation from God. How can we be separated from One who is everywhere? It’s a separation of relationship. To stand in the presence of God in our sinful state would make us most miserable. Ask Isaiah, “Woe is me!” To be exiled from His goodness but to feel His righteous anger forever would, indeed, be hell.
  5. God saved us because of His great love for us. His motivation was His mercy, in which He is rich.
  6. Through Christ we are born again. He raised us spiritually and made us alive in Christ. We have been saved by His grace! Nothing on our part added except our consent.

Key 2:

  1. We were raised to heaven and seated with Christ around His throne. Evidently, there is a trade: We go there and the Holy Spirit comes and resides in our hearts. Christ lives in us even as we live with Christ.
  2. (read)
  3. None. We give consent, just like a person having an operation. That’s all we do; the rest is up to the Surgeon, the Great Physician.

Key 3:

  1. Handiwork (NIV), of His making (CJB), workmanship (KJV)
  2. (read)
  3. Salvation is like the three states of (H2O): Solid, liquid, and gas, which are ice, water, and steam or vapor. We are saved (a one-time event), we are being saved (sanctification), and we will be saved (glorification). The Blood of Christ is eternal and so are we.
  4. The Father planned these good works in Christ Jesus when He established our salvation in Christ Jesus: before the creation of the world (see 1:4). John 5:19-20 is about Jesus commenting that He does nothing by Himself, but with the Father. We are to do the same. It’s all about the relationship.

SS 10-18-20 Parable of the Sower

SS 10-18-20 The Parable of the Sower

Audio Lesson

Taken from Proverbs 17  10-17-20

In the parable (story with a point) of the Sower, we find four different soils: The path, rocky soil, weedy soil, and good soil. Let’s read.

 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” Mark 4:3-8

What can we learn from Jesus’ teaching? He explains the parable later to His disciples:

14 The farmer sows the word [Gospel]. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

What it boils down to is does a person believe that God has revealed Himself through Scripture? If so, then we accept God’s own testimony about His Son, Jesus Christ.

Everything revolves around our willingness to trust
what He has said in His Word (whether we hear it or read it)
and to make every decision in our lives based upon the truth of His Word.

IF God inspired the writers to write down truth about Him and His Son,

IF God preserved those words throughout history to this present day,

IF the Spirit moves and speaks through those words as they are spoken or read,

THEN we can trust what the Scriptures say,

THEN we can hear Him speaking to us through them,

THEN what they say about the future is dependable,

THEN we will receive power to live according to God’s principles laid out in His Word.

What we can learn from the parable:

  1. Many people hear the message of God’s love and forgiveness, but because of the hardness of their hearts, which have been hardened by the lusts of their eyes, the lusts of their flesh, and their pride of life (1 John 2:16), they willingly turn away from the Truth.
  2. Many people hear the message about our Savior and it seems good to them, so they receive it. Notice that the decision was theirs in that there was no Holy Spirit-conviction. It was based upon an intellectual decision. The problem with a head-decision versus a heart-decision is that the Spirit does not transform the person, therefore, when hardship, persecution, or even just a conflict of wills comes, the person reverts to his old ways. “A dog to its vomit and a pig to its mud (2 Peter 2:22).”
  3. This soil is where most of the church today lives. We love Jesus, but we tend to ignore the rest of His title, which is Adonai (LORD) Yeshua (Jesus) Ha’Mashiach (King, Anointed One). We want the promise of heaven, but we also want wealth, health, comfort, pleasure, power, leisure, and everything else this world offers. Jesus said that a person that puts his hand to the plow (accepts the Gospel) and then looks back (desires what was) is not fit (is out of shape mentally, physically, and spiritually) for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). The LORD Jesus is still waiting for His Church to give Him their entire lives. It makes me wonder if they really are born again–that’s not my call. If they say they love Jesus, then I will exhort them to love Him with all of their hearts, souls, minds and with all their strength. Eventually, maybe they’ll get it.
  4. This soil is where we want to be! Those who meet with the LORD Jesus daily in the pages of Scripture find true wealth: The JOY of His Presence (Psalm 16:11, 1 Peter 1:8-9), PEACE that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7), His LOVE abounding in our hearts for Him, for ourselves, and for others (Philippians 1:9-11), and His MERCY and GRACE in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Notice that they all come from Scripture.

Today, how about moving from soil #3 to seed #4? All it takes is turning to Jesus and giving Him your life for today, for right now, and then to read, thus allowing Him to speak to your heart. He CAN and DOES speak to us directly, but He has chosen to speak to us mainly through His written Word to us, the Scriptures, our Bible. Once we hide God’s words in our heart (Psalm 119:11), He REMINDS us of what we have read as we need to know (John 14:26) and interprets according to our circumstances.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would comprehend the import of Your revealed message to us. The Scriptures are Your love letter to Your children! May we read them and understand Your love and passion for us. May we receive Your Plan as our plan, and Your will as our will realizing that You want only the BEST for us (sin destroys us). Each morning, I revel in this truth based upon Psalm 73:23-26: I am always with You, You hold me by my hand, you guide me with Your counsel as we walk, and one day You will take me home to be with You in glory. WOW! Whom have I in heaven besides You, O LORD? And this earth has nothing I desire besides You! My heart and my flesh fail me all the time, but YOU are the strength of my heart and my portion, my Choice, forever. Come live in and through me, LORD Jesus, I beg You. Amen.

Around the Table:

  1. Which Scripture grabbed your heart this morning? Share with the group and tell why.
  2. What’s the difference in being in love with Jesus and being in love with the idea of being in love with Jesus?
  3. What’s the difference between intellectual salvation and heart salvation? Which one are you?

Proverbs 18 11-18-20

Who we believe determines after whom we pattern our lives. I believe Jesus Christ. His words are LIFE.

21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Peter said to Jesus, “ Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68. These words were penned by John, who also said, “ The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17.

Jesus Himself said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill him. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the law until everything is accomplished.” Matthew 5:17-18. Jesus is the Bridge between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Beth Moore put it like this, “John’s Gospel tells us that ‘the law was given through Moses’ and ‘grace and truth came through Jesus Christ’ (John 1:17). But lest the graced ones misinterpret these words, Grace didn’t break the law of Moses, like stone tablets thrown into worthless fragments. Grace loosed the law of love from its limits.” Chasing Vines, page 257.

I believe that Jesus is God. He is part of the Trinity, God the Son. The same God that told the Israelites not to come near his holy mountain is the same God that said, “Do not be like them, for your father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray: our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:8-10. Where did the change come from? How did the change happen? It happened back in 4:17, “ From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Jesus brought God’s kingdom to us. He is a loving Father who could finally reach out to us through his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Bridge between our Heavenly Father and us.

This message of Jesus is the TRUTH about God’s GRACE. May we build our lives upon this TRUTH and receive His GRACE.

Abba, May You reveal Yourself more and more to us through Your Word. Thank You for such a unique instrument that guides us to the Source of truth: You. May we study it as if we are studying You—which we are! As we read Your words, speak to our hearts through them. Amen.

Proverbs 17 11-17-20

We have no other recourse than to depend upon the Holy Spirit to change a person. No amount of words can do it.

16 Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom when they are not able to understand it? They don’t listen to the Spirit—He may not even be present!

10 A rebuke impresses a discerning person more than a hundred lashes a fool. He is listening to the Spirit!

What it boils down to is what a person really wants—or Who. If he simply wants salvation (a reservation in heaven), then he is going to be sadly disappointed. Salvation can only come through a person—not a program or prayer (ritual).

Coming to Christ is about lordship. It’s about walking with Him in constant conversation. It’s about following His every command. The result (benefit) is heaven on earth, even within us! Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is within you.” Luke 17:21. Why? Because JESUS is in you!

I think it all comes down to desire. What do we want? Do we want to live our lives our way doing what we want to do when we want to do it? Or, do we desire to know Christ in the power of His resurrection and to share in the fellowship of His sufferings? Do we want to become like Him? Right now, the voice within you is resounding, “YES!” If it is not, then you may want to make sure that the voice is even present. “His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:16.

Lest you think I’m more than I am, I learned to desire Christ by reading Philippians 3:10-11. As I read, the Spirit spoke to me and I began to crave Christ—His presence, His company, His teaching, His wisdom and discernment—you know, Him. You can, too. It’s how we all establish connection with Him: by reading His Word. Try it today.

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

Abba, I know You called me. I know You call others just like You called me. Do it, LORD. Urge them to read Your Word and then explode upon their lives with Your glorious Presence! Just like you did mine. I know this: they’ll never be the same and they’ll never go back. Thank You in advance. Amen.

Proverbs 16 11-16-20

We cannot be ruled by our hearts. We MUST go to, trust in, and rely on the LORD Jesus for the appropriate answer.

1 To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue.

I was reading in Jeremiah 17 this morning and came across these verses:

7 But blessed is the person who trust in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him.

9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can know it?

10 “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind…”

Based upon these verses, we cannot trust our heart because it will deceive and ultimately destroy us; we CAN trust the LORD because He knows the heart and mind of both ourselves and the person to whom we are talking.

I have included this morning a prescription for relationships, particularly marriage (and from the guy’s perspective). I pray that it will help you to “trust the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Rx for Marriage

  1. Never a cross word (short, unkind, impatient, etc.)
  2. Speak loving words (conversation, encouragement, building up, protection, compliments, even wooing)
  3. Arrange for times to be together to talk (letting her guide the conversation as you keep turning it back to her by asking her the questions she asks you)
  4. Stay away from dangerous topics (previous relationships)Love her in all the love languages:
    1. Giver her your TIME
    2. Speak WORDS of AFFIRMATION to her
    3. SERVE her
    4. TOUCH her both romantically and non-romantically (hold her hand, rub her back)
    5. Give her GIFTS (the amount/cost of the gift carries less weight than the thought, so keep most of them small, but give often)
  5. Apologize–often.  Guys often don’t realize when we are hurting those around us. She will explain it to you…
  6. If in conflict, NO alcohol. Just holding it in your hand can change you in someone you don’t want to be. Find some other way to unwind. If she has any uncertainties or doubts about you or the relationship, your drinking will make her fearful. She needs you to be constant, like an anchor. The alcohol undermines the good and highlights the bad. 
  7. Pray separately and together. It doesn’t have to be long, and having a topic for the prayer helps. Let her know that your relationship together with the LORD is important.
  8. Have your quiet time with the LORD where she and your children can see you. It’s not about a show, but it is about demonstrating what is important to you.
  9. Keep yourself accountable to God every day and also to someone every week. It needs to be a person of the same gender—this is important! Also, it helps if the person is a life-long friend and lives in another town, or at least is not someone you work with or go to church with. It’s when you have the same friends that things tend to slip out.
  10. Make this pledge every day, “I am committed to the LORD and to you, to our marriage and to finishing well.” Now, take every precaution to stay that way!

Abba, I pray that each person who reads this post will take these prescriptions to heart and apply them with his/her mind. May we come to You in prayer ALL THE TIME in EVERY conversation (praying continually) and trust You and Your still, small voice, the one just behind us, as You say, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21). Amen.

Proverbs 15 11-15-20

My prayer for you today is that you will meet with Christ in a personal way even as we meet as His church.

12 Mockers resent correction, so they avoid the wise [go to church].

11 Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD—how much more do human hearts [you might as well go to church].

Here is my prayer for you:

My dear children, I strive as in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you. (Galatians 4:19). Remember that when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are [all] sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:4-6).

With this in mind, I ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way:

1. bearing fruit in every good work,

2. growing in the knowledge of God,

3. being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,

4. and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.

We are in the kingdom of light! Let’s live a children of light (Ephesians 5:8).

Abba, May we live in the awareness of You today and every day as children of light. May Your Spirit rejoice in us and may we join Him in the everlasting praise that is going on around Your throne. Make us aware of Your kingdom, LORD, so that we become less attached to this one. Amen.

Proverbs 14 11-14-20

If the kingdom of God is within us, we can never get away from it or Him. Might knowing this truth change our activities?

14 The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, but the good rewarded for theirs.

Believing that Christ is within us is the basis for Christianity. It’s not about going to heaven—it’s about heaven coming to us! “…the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21. We no longer need to worry about going to heaven because we are already with Jesus. One of my favorite verses is Colossians 1:27, “…Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The question then becomes, “How will we live our lives?” Will we live them in sweet fellowship with our Savior or will we ignore so great a gift and live for ourselves? The “good” and the “faithless” fall along these lines. We become that which we follow.

1. If we follow ourselves and disregard the Spirit within us, then we reveal that we don’t truly believe that Christ is in us. In fact, we show that we are not interested in being Christ’s or in following Him. We are faithless.

2. If we acknowledge His presence in us and turn to Him for fellowship, leadership and direction, then we produce good fruit for Him and His kingdom. We are good.

May we begin afresh and anew today with Him, acknowledge His presence in our lives, read His Word, and listen for/to His voice. Let’s do whatever He says and enjoy His friendship.

Abba, thank You for coming to live in my heart and life. Knowing You is worth more than life itself. May I be Your willing and obedient servant today, all the while enjoying Your friendship and becoming like You. Amen.

Proverbs 13 11-13-20

Appetite and desire: What appeals to us? Things according to the flesh or things according to the Spirit?

4 The sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.
25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.

As Christians, our souls crave spiritual sustenance. We long for what the Lord Jesus called, “daily bread.” Let’s look at some passages:

11 Give us today our daily bread. Matthew 6:11

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (Deut. 8:3)

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:31-33

Our focus is to be on our relationship with the Father. Jesus has made that relationship possible by sending His Spirit into our hearts. We are no longer residents of this kingdom, but residents of His Kingdom. We are to be retraining our minds to think His way about things instead of how a natural person thinks of things. We are called to a higher purpose!

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. Romans 7:4

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:4

Because of what Christ has done for us and because of our faith in Him (trusting Him for everything), we are called to a new mission in life rather than running after this life’s “worries, riches and pleasures.”

28 We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom [supplied by Him], so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ [even as He does us; see Jude 24]. 29 To this end I [we] strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me [us]. Colossians 1:28-29

Let’s be about the Father’s business today. Rather than build up our earthly lives, let’s pour our energy into building up His kingdom. This is the “bread” of which the Lord Jesus spoke in John 4:32-34.

Abba, we ask for our daily bread, that You will supply in abundance. May we seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness; may we hunger and thirst after You, learning all we can about You in Your revealed Word. Speak to our hearts, Lord Jesus, making us aware of Your kingdom all around us. We are Yours. Help us to focus on You and Your work. Amen.

Proverbs 12 11-12-20

Becoming like Christ is our goal. His Spirit lives in us and leads us, but it’s still hard work. Our sin nature rebels.

1 Whoever loves [the LORD’s] discipline loves knowledge [from the Word of God], but whoever hates correction is stupid [spiritually ignorant and rebellious].

To keep from being stupid (spiritually ignorant and rebellious), let’s learn from the Word of God:

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. James 1:19-21

  1. Brothers and sisters- we ALL are to take part in this exercise.
  2. Quick to listen, slow to speak- we have been given two ears and only one mouth; use them accordingly.
  3. Slow to become angry- James gives us the reason immediately after: “Because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
    1. It’s OUR anger and not God’s, so don’t claim a righteous anger;
    2. It produces, but not what God wants;
    3. God desires us to have His righteousness, the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  4. Moral filth- Thoughts and actions that are not Spirit-led.
  5. Prevalent evil- the enemy is always lurking, seeking those lambs who wander away from the Shepherd. STAY CLOSE TO THE SHEPHERD.
  6. Humbly accept the Word planted in you- The Spirit has planted His Word in our hearts and lives; cultivate it. Why?
  7. His Word- Because it can save you from all kinds of pitfalls, temptations, hidden snares, heartache and damage. “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I [Christ] have come to give life in abundance.” John 10:10


In order to give ourselves time to respond rather than react, we must step back mentally so that we can get an objective perspective to the situation. Stepping back requires maturity and patience, so don’t think that it’s easy or that you will learn it quickly. At the same time, it will bring great rewards to those who choose to practice it. We need some tools, though. We will talk about those tools tomorrow.

For today, let’s ask the LORD to reveal to us evil and filth in our lives, whether it is on us or simply around us. Then, let’s read His Word and humbly accept His message for us today.

Abba, I humbly receive and accept Your message concerning anger. May I be quick to listen, slow to speak, and even slower to get angry. I will leave judgment to You, LORD, and I will focus on being kind and compassionate. May my words be full of grace, seasoned with the salt of Your teaching, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 11 11-11-20

Jesus IS our righteousness. He gives us His. When will we begin to appropriate that righteousness in our lives?

6 The righteousness [Jesus Christ] of the righteous delivers them, but the unfaithful [those who do not appropriate His righteousness] are trapped by evil desires [laid by Satan].

Truths Upon Which To Build Our Lives:

  • Our relationship with Jesus is ALL-IMPORTANT. It stands above all circumstances, above all desires, and above all needs in this world and in our lives.
  • The Word of God is our SOURCE. It tells us WHO God is, WHAT He wants and expects of us, HOW He interacts with us, and even WHY He does. For us not to read, study, and know His Word is Satan’s greatest victory over us. In contrast, to read, study, and know His Word gives the Spirit the greatest access to us for conversation, fellowship, teaching, rebuking, correcting and training, and for travel (we are on a journey to His throne).
  • Meeting together on a routine basis is God’s way of preparing us for heaven. We encourage each other, join together in prayer and worship, teach each other, and give each other opportunities to put into practice our spiritual disciplines (being loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, self-controlled, selfless, abandoned (to Him), humble, self-denying, compassionate, diligent, thinking in a godly fashion, forgiving, and tempered). We hold each other accountable.

NOW we know why church is so important. It’s the place that gives us opportunities for prayer, Bible study, and fellowship/interaction with other believers. “Church” happens not only in our building, but every place that two or more are gathered in His name (Matthew 18:20). So, every meal together, every Bible study, every prayer meeting, and every worship service is church for us. It’s why we don’t get overwrought when they threaten to shut church down for the pandemic. “Two or more,” remember?

Let’s appropriate the righteousness of Christ today; let’s meet with other Christians and realize that Jesus is with us just like He is in church–it IS church!

Abba, I look forward to meeting with other Christians today. In fact, by the time this post goes out, I will have already met with a group of guys for prayer. We had CHURCH! I know that talking with Bryan, Tony and Brother Robert is CHURCH, as well as Choir rehearsal tonight. May we practice our spiritual disciplines on each other realizing that You are in our midst even as You are in our hearts. I’m looking forward to it, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 10 11-10-20

God is love–but He is also God of justice. His rebuke can lay waste to nations; He lays bare our very lives! Hebrews 4:12-13, 14-16 (I always include 14-16 because of the context–it’s not as dire as one might think)

24 What the wicked dread [God] will overtake them; what the righteous desire [God] will be granted.
29 The way of the LORD is a refuge for the blameless [those in Christ], but it is the ruin of those who do evil [go their own way].

As I was reading Jeremiah, I came upon this verse:

Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps. Discipline me, LORD, but only in due measure–not in Your anger, or You will reduce me to nothing. Jeremiah 10:23-24

Jeremiah lives 600+ years before Christ came, yet he knew God intimately. In fact, God chose him to serve Him before Jeremiah was even born and called him to serve as a prophet at a young age (Jeremiah 1:4-10). Jeremiah’s relationship was built upon the Old Covenant. Ours is different. Let’s look at those differences:

Old Covenant- Listen to the terms of this covenant and follow them. From the time I brought your ancestors up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, ‘Obey Me.’ But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts.” Jeremiah 11:6-8. The OC is built upon obedience, but people still had evil hearts.

New Covenant- If you love me, keep my commands.” “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. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:23-26 The NC is built upon obedience, too, but now, we have the Spirit of God living in us! Also, we have changed hearts, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezekiel 36:26-27. Jeremiah put it this way, “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” Jeremiah 24:7.

What else did Jeremiah say?

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again [in the church], and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt [through the church].” Jeremiah 31:3-4

“This is the [new] covenant I will make with the people of Israel [and all who believe] after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Jeremiah 31:33

“This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it–the LORD is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'” Jeremiah 33:2-3

Folks, that’s the LORD calling us! Let’s answer today. Read His Word. Call on His name. Obey His commands. Be full of inexpressible joy!

Abba, I take great comfort and get downright excited when I read in the Old Testament what you were going to do in the New Covenant! It blows me away to think of the scope of Your love and Your plans for humanity. I want to be a part of Your story, LORD. How may I help? I will be walking right alongside You today. Just let me know. Amen.

Proverbs 9 11-9-20

Due North, in tune, a metal detector, and the Word of God–what do they have in common? They give us truth.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom [it makes us listen], and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding [He reveals it to us].

  1. When using a compass, true North is always stationary. As we turn to the right or to the left, we orient ourselves by it.
  2. When tuning my guitar, I use an app that shows me when each string is in tune. It shows me how far from “in tune” I am and turns green when I reach “in tune.”
  3. A metal detector ticks louder and faster the closer we come to a metallic object. If wisdom is that object, then the closer we come to it, the louder our “metal detector” (wisdom) ticks.
  4. The Word of God reveals to us truth and righteousness. We then live our lives by that truth and righteousness. We cannot do it ourselves; we depend upon the Holy Spirit for guidance. “You hold me by my right hand, and You guide me with Your counsel.” Psalm 73 23b-24a

Ours is a simple faith, much like a child’s faith, but that is exactly how Jesus told us to be (Luke 18:17). We are designed to receive one command at a time as He leads us. When we follow Him, the worries of this life fade away and we can focus on His face–His countenance cascades down upon us as we behold His beauty and the wonder of His great love and majesty!!! WOW!

Here is Jesus’ command for us today:

So don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things. Your heavenly Father knows all your needs [it’s hard to trust Him if we don’t know Him very well], and He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern. So, don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:31-34

Concerning worry (from Robin’s notes): Worry is a result of envisioning the future without God; worry only wrecks right now: it sucks the joy out of the present. Worry says that something else is more important than God in our lives, which equals idolatry.

We can do this. He has made it simple on purpose.

Abba, may I take my own advice and simply gaze upon Your beauty and majesty. I KNOW that I will receive Your love, peace, joy, mercy and grace as I stand in Your presence and enjoy Your company. Lead me, LORD. I am Your little child. Amen.

Proverbs 8 11-8-20

Don’t give in to despair. Recognize that it’s the enemy trying to get you to give up and give in. KEEP PRAYING!

13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.

When we are tempted to give up and say, “What’s the use?” is when we are close to having victory in our lives. It’s like Satan’s last defense; he has tried to block us at every turn, but we have been diligent. Now, he tries to convince us that we don’t matter, that our opinion doesn’t matter, that our vote doesn’t matter, and that our prayers don’t matter. But, THEY DO!

When Paul was talking to Timothy, he encouraged him with these words,

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:13-15

Do you hear Paul saying, “Don’t give up. Keep pressing on”? In fact, those same words are spoken by Paul about himself in his letter to the Philippians,

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

When we are tempted to say, “What’s the use?”, we must remember that our calling by the LORD is NOT to change the world, but to be obedient to Him. HE will change the world. We are simply to be obedient. How?

  1. Through prayer. It’s our connection to Him. Our fellowship with Him gives us nourishment for our souls. He is the Vine and we are His branches. The phrase, “suck it up,” should take on new meaning for us!
  2. Do what He tells us to do. He will draw our attention to whatever it is; we will have the thought, “I should do that.” We check with the Spirit one more time, and if there is no “check in our spirit”, we do it. We don’t even have to consider whether or not it will make a difference. The boy with five loaves of bread and two small fishes didn’t consider his contribution small–it was his lunch!
  3. Be diligent. In other words, keep at it. Be obstinate, even dogmatic about the LORD’s will. If we are going to be known for something, our diligence and integrity are the BEST things. I would rather someone say, “Well, you can say this about him, he’s consistent,” than have words of flattery said about me. The only Person I want to please is the LORD.

Here are two verses to encourage us:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Consider Him [Jesus Christ] who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:3

Based upon these two verses, we should continue to resist the devil and be encouraged as we pray through whatever “problems” we are having in our lives. I put “problems” in quotations because they are really obstacles in an obstacle course; taken on correctly, they become the very tools that the Spirit uses to train us in godliness. Let’s not have to take this course again…!

Abba, I pray encouragement for my brothers and sisters. May they not grow weary in coming to You about all things. May their fellowship with You be sweet, especially as they read Your Word and hear Your voice. May their praise be genuine and fresh today as we meet together in our respective churches. We delight in You, O LORD. Amen.

Keep On Walking – The Imperials

Proverbs 7 11-7-20

We are light-bearers. Our job is to pray. We are to present others before our Father in heaven. Let’s get started!

21 With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk.

In the same way–but with pure motives–we are to present people to the Father. If this young man had been a man of character, he would never have been on her street in the first place. But, if he DID find himself in a conversation with her, his mind and intent would be focused on her soul and not her body. He would:

  1. Go to the Father in prayer for his own success in keeping his attention on her soul and not her body, especially by maintaining his distance from her physically;
  2. Present her to the Father asking for her soul for His kingdom;
  3. Listen to the Holy Spirit as He gave him insight into her life and circumstances;
  4. Speak the words that come to mind even as he is talking to her;
  5. Keep his tone quiet and gentle, or at least cordial if she gets angry and hostile;
  6. Continue to pray for her after the conversation is over;
  7. Immediately call or go see a Christian friend who will hold him accountable and can be a witness after-the-fact concerning the event, and can join him in prayer for this woman.

This approach can and should be used for every conversation we have with lost folks. Our goal is to build bridges for the Gospel. Anything that would hinder building those bridges must be removed from our vocabulary, our habits, and our personality. Why is it so important to become like Christ? Because WE get in the way of the Gospel! We must:

  1. Die to ourselves and live for Christ- “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. This life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God [Jesus Christ] who loves me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
  2. Practice Romans 12:9-21
    1. Our love must be sincere; hate evil and cling to what is good;
    2. Honor others above ourselves;
    3. Keep our spiritual fervor through the spiritual disciplines;
    4. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer;
    5. Bless those who persecute us; bless and do not curse;
    6. Do not be proud; do not be conceited;
    7. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; Be righteous;
    8. As far as possible, live at peace with everyone;
    9. Do not take revenge; on the contrary, we are to meet the needs of our enemies; in this way, we heap burning coals of conviction on their heads;
    10. We are NOT to be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
  3. Pray, pray, pray! “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18. Also, Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Thessalonians 5:17

The election is not over, yet. Please pray for God’s man to be in office. If there is any wrong-doing, pray that it would be exposed. Pray for the peace and salvation of our nation. PRAY FOR REVIVAL!

Abba, I come to You on behalf of my nation asking for You to intervene in the plans of men and have Your will accomplished. May the men and women of God who are in office stand up and be counted for you; may those who oppose You be put to shame–or better, fall under conviction of the Holy Spirit and become obedient to Your Spirit. May Your will be done in our lives and in America. Amen.

Proverbs 6 11-6-20

If we are obedient to the Spirit of God, then everything else falls into place. Are we being obedient? Are we even listening?

3 So do this, my child, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands [gotten caught up in worldly affairs], Go–to the point of exhaustion… 4 Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids.

Let’s face it, we have not been diligent about our walk with Christ. We have not made prayer and Bible study a priority in our lives. Consequently, neither has society. We have not been salt and light. You say, “I am offended by your statement. In what way have we not been good Christians?”

Here is a prime example. Each morning, through prayer and Bible study, we are to put on the armor of God:

  1. The belt of truth– knowing the Gospel well enough to discern truth
  2. The breastplate of righteousness– living daily in His presence and sharing His righteousness
  3. Shoes of readiness– ready to take the Gospel wherever He leads
  4. The shield of faith– protecting what is true against what is false
  5. The helmet of salvation– going over again and again all aspects of salvation: What, when, how, and why.
  6. The sword of the Spirit– reading, learning, discussing, and pondering the Word of God so that we are SURE of what it says (it’s how He talks to us and teaches us)
  7. Praying in the Spirit– keeping a constant dialogue going with the Spirit

Have we been diligent in doing this very necessary task?

Have we done it in a fashion that our spouse has observed us doing it?

Have we allowed our children to see us struggling into our armor?

Have we taught others (especially our children) to do the same, showing them how each piece goes on and how it works?

We must decide daily if we want to be like Christ. If yes, then get ready to be trained. It’s a wild ride, but He is with us every step of the way. It’s thrilling! If no, then get ready to be disciplined. He WILL accomplish making you like Himself, but it won’t be pretty. Read Hebrews 12:4-13 and you will see what I mean.

Do we want revival for our country? Then, we must first have revival in our own souls. Let’s give the Spirit every opportunity today. Put on that armor! Open up that line of communication! Be ready to go where He leads! Be ready to share what He tells us to share! Let’s be thrilled to be part of the Cause! Lives are at stake.

Abba, work in me the very things I have said in this post. Make me a valiant soldier for Christ. Use me in any way, shape or form that spreads the Gospel and encourages the family of God. May my armor be bent and scratched from battle when I enter heaven! Make me useable and then use me, LORD. I am Your willing servant. Amen.

Proverbs 5 11-5-20

What does it mean to have “Christ in us, the hope of glory?” How do we let the light of Christ shine through us?

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

LISTEN AND READ. That’s what verse one says. Listen to what? to Whom? We are listening for His voice inside us. “You will hear a voice behind you [in your ear, your mind] saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21. Christ’s habitation of us is real, yet feels perfectly natural. Why is that? BECAUSE HE CREATED US THAT WAY. We all began with a God-sized hole in us that could only be filled by Him.

What happens is this:

  1. We pray for guidance.
  2. We read His Word.
  3. We walk with Him through our day depending upon His leadership.

Tomorrow, we do the same thing. The key word in verse 2 is “maintain.” To us it is maintenance. Maintenance means “care or upkeep, support or subsistence; livelihood.” It means “consistency.” We become dependable–we depend upon Him for interpretation of what we read and then we become dependable by doing what He says. This consistency in our lives builds integrity and moral authority.

How much maintenance do you do at home? At work? It’s important for things to be in their proper place and for things to work right. So, too, in our spiritual lives. We need to be looking to Jesus for guidance, strength, discretion, and consistency. We get all of these things through our maintenance program of praying, reading and walking.

One other thing: If we are lazy in our spiritual maintenance, the enemy will blind our eyes to our need of Him. We will, then, do things in our own power, which is wickedness. There is no hope in that way of life. “For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.” V. 25. Let’s maintain discretion concerning His voice among all the other voices we hear, and preserve knowledge by hiding His Word in our hearts.

Abba, I pray for my brothers and sisters in You that they will take seriously the call to know You in Your fullness. You have made Yourself available to us through Your Spirit and Your Word; all we have to do is take advantage of both. One without the other leads to failure. May they know Your Word inside and out so that You can “show them great and mighty things that they do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). Give them thirst for You and hunger Your Word, LORD (Matthew 5:6). Me, too. Amen.