Proverbs 18 1-18-21

Are you filled to the measure of Christ’s joy? He wants you to be. All you have to do is trust what He’s already told you.

15 The heart of the discerning [those looking for answers] acquires knowledge [from the LORD], for the ears of the wise seek it out [we “hear” God speak when we read His Word].

In John 17, Jesus is praying and we are sitting in on that prayer (thanks to John and the Holy Spirit). Let’s pick it up in verse 13,

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

  1. Jesus is about to leave this earth via Calvary (the cross). He is speaking as much to His disciples at this point as He is to the Father. We know this because He said as much in 11:42 when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. The question is, when were the disciples to receive this joy of which He spoke? The very next thing to happen was Gethsemane, the cross, and three days of pure agony for them, so I don’t think that it was immediate. Could it have been when they saw Him resurrected? It could be. But, if the point of the cross was so Jesus could live in our hearts via the Holy Spirit (see 16:7 and 17:26), then they must wait until Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit in order to receive the full measure of His joy. What does this mean to us? We have already received the Holy Spirit, therefore, we can receive the full measure of His joy!
  2. The very next phrase is, to me, the key to “the full measure of His joy.” That phrase is, “I have given them Your word…” God went to great lengths for us to have His words available to us. He inspired the disciple John to write down this prayer; He inspired others to copy it, hide it, and spread it around; He inspired others to translate it into various languages including English; He inspired the means for us to have a copy of His words in our homes and hands–in fact, electronically, we can have His words with us all the time, and do!
  3. The reason I am so sure that the phrase is key is because of verse 17, “Sanctify them by [to live in accordance with] the truth; Your word is truth.” Jesus pretty much told us that the way to sanctification (becoming like Jesus) is through His Word. It doesn’t get much plainer than that.
  4. Jesus sanctified Himself? Only God can do that–wait, HE IS GOD! If Jesus sanctified Himself by giving us His Father’s words, then we are sanctified by reading and living according to them.

A word of encouragement: We read to connect, to get to know Him. We ask for understanding, but it’s not the main purpose. His Spirit reveals to us what we need for today as He reveals Himself to us. We read, ask for discernment, and then we ponder: We think about what we have read in light of what we already know and have experienced; we turn it over in our minds with Him guiding our thoughts in accordance with His word. If we get it wrong, we can trust that He will correct us eventually. It’s all part of the training. Many times, we must unlearn what we have been taught (whether by humans, demons, or experience), and learn what is right. It’s a process, the process of sanctification. Just know that during this process, we are being made to be JUST LIKE JESUS.

Want to be one with God and your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Then be sanctified through His Word!

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would immerse themselves in Your Word. Your Scriptures are the vehicle through which we hear Your voice. In fact, our prayers are our response to You speaking to us! We find in the Scriptures Your character, Your Plan, and Your interaction with us. May we take our relationship with You seriously, especially if we want to follow You and be like You. I know I do. Please continue to open my mind and heart to Your words of life. Amen.

Proverbs 17 1-17-21

We are free to worship the LORD Jesus whenever we want. No one can take that privilege away from us. NO ONE!

20 One whose heart is corrupt does not prosper; one whose tongue is perverse falls into trouble. Let this verse be a guide in your next conversation about politics. Watch your attitude and your tongue!

Whoever gives heed to instruction [from the Spirit] prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD. Proverbs 16:20 Our instruction and blessing come from the Spirit who lives in us.

I am getting a picture of why people in our churches are upset; they have the wrong focus. Many are worried that we will lose our “freedom.” The true freedom with which we should be concerned is our freedom in Christ to worship Him. We have that privilege due to the indwelling Holy Spirit, so we are good!

In Romans 8:18-25, Paul is telling us to quit focusing on this world and all its goings-on and focus on what is to come:

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

There are two future truths here to which we look forward:

  1. Our completed, renewed, glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-49);
  2. Our world renewed and transformed into Eden (Romans 8:19-22).

The timing and procedure for these events are not nearly as important as our looking forward to the realization of these events. Let’s not get too comfortable here in this world. It is dominated by Satan and his horde until Christ comes back. Until then, we wait for it patiently.Christ has moved into our hearts (Galatians 4:6), so, for us, eternity has already begun. For now, let’s serve Him and live as followers of the Way (Acts 22:4) and as children of light (Ephesians 5:8) as we look forward to the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13). Christ will draw people to Himself through our righteousness and purity (John 12:32–Jesus is in us; when we live the crucified life, He uses our lives to draw others to Himself). The interesting thing is that as we strive to live separated from this world and become more like Jesus, the more our thoughts turn to seeking the lost, and the more opportunities we find to share the Good News of Jesus and why we live differently.

It’s a win-win: Live separately for Christ; have more opportunities to share Jesus.

As seek we worship Christ today, know that He is interested in your life. He wants you to be like Him in righteousness, purity, and godliness. Are you as interested in Him as He is in you?

Abba, this day I pledge my life anew to You. Thank You for Your righteousness; now make me pure and godly (like God). I want to know You in the power of Your resurrection (the victories) and in the fellowship of Your sufferings (the struggles). I want to be crucified in my flesh so that I can, somehow, attain to my spiritual resurrection in this life (from Philippians 3:10-11). I look forward to my physical resurrection, as well, but that’s not where I live. I want to be like You NOW in this life, knowing that I am promised to be made whole and complete in You upon Your return (1 John 3:2). I make 1 John 3:3 my life verse, “All who have this hope [see verse 2] in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure.” Make it so in my life, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 16 1-16-21

Does the Spirit of God live in you? Does the Spirit of Christ speak to you all the time in your mind and conscience?

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do [all that you do], and He will establish your plans [according to His].

Jesus was very specific about sending the Holy Spirit to us. Here is what He said:

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” John 15:26
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” John 16:13-15

These words were Jesus’ parting instructions to His disciples. It was important information! We benefit from Jesus’ promise to send the Helper. We read about it in Acts 2,

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

Now, let me ask again, does the Spirit of God live in you? Does the Spirit of Christ speak to you all the time in your mind and conscience? If we belong to Him and He lives in our hearts (by way of the Spirit), then He is speaking to us ALL THE TIME. If we are not hearing Him, there’s a problem on our end, not His.

Problem #1: We aren’t listening. We haven’t taken the time to learn how to hear His voice. If we want to know what God thinks about us, His world, about anything, we simply pick up His Word and read it. Yet, many Christians won’t take the time, nor will they put out the effort. They either like they way they are living, being in charge, or don’t think that they were all that bad and that they really don’t owe Jesus their lives, all of which speak of a defective relationship. I sure hope they really have a relationship with Him!

Problem #2: We have wandered so far off the path that we have begun to think like lost people again. If we are truly saved, eventually, we will come back from the far country (the Prodigal), but think of all we miss out on in the meantime. We don’t want to be this way!

Luke 5:31-32 is an invitation to be changed from the inside, to think differently. Here’s what it says in an amplified version:

31 Jesus answered them, “It is not [those who think they are spiritually] healthy who need a doctor, but [those who realize that they are] sick. 32 I have not come to call [invite] the righteous, but sinners to repentance [change their inner person by changing their allegiance from self and Satan to Jesus Christ].”

We who have trusted in Christ as our Savior have changed our allegiance; but, our decision to follow Him daily is every bit ours to make just as our decision was to be saved. Is He LORD? Then serve Him. Do we owe Him our eternal lives? Then serve Him. Are we grateful? Then serve Him. Do we love Him? THEN SERVE HIM!

Each day, we are building our world, our kingdom.
Are we building it with Christ as the center or with ourselves as the center?

Abba, I chose YOU! You are my LORD. I owe You everything. I am grateful for all You have done and for all You have promised to Your faithful ones. I want to be in that group! I love You. How may I serve You more? Better? More effectively? I fix my eyes on You, hear You, and promise to obey You. “Open my eyes that I may see beautiful truths in Your Word” (Psalm 119:18). You are my King. I will follow You. Amen.

Proverbs 15 1-15-21

Have you ever wondered WHY things happen the way they do? Miracles, premature death, “coincidence,” suffering: His GLORY!

11 Death and Destruction [Abaddon, hell] lie open before the LORD–how much more do human hearts!

God sees things from an eternal perspective, even all of eternity (get your arms around that thought!). He uses our time on earth to “prove” us.

Prove- to subject to a test [in order to show], experiment, comparison, analysis, or the like, to determine [in order to reveal] quality, amount, acceptability, characteristics, etc.–things God already knows, but wants to REVEAL FOR OUR GOOD. Lest you think that God is all about judgment, His judgment is reserved for those who refuse His kind offer of salvation. It is His desire that ALL come to Him for cleansing and healing and a relationship with Him (2 Peter 3:9).

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open” Luke 8:17. God wants everyone to know what He knows is inside of each of us, and He knows just what to use to expose what is there. Some people He proves with power, many more with oppression; some He proves with riches, many more with poverty; some He proves with health, many more with myriad ailments; some He gives long life, many more He calls (what we would consider) prematurely. How does He decide? For that answer, we go to Proverbs 20:27,

27 The spirit [breath] of man is the lamp of the Lord,
    searching all his innermost parts.
ESV

27 The Lord looks deep inside people
    and searches through their thoughts.
NCV

God is looking for those who are faithful to Him in heart–even in our failures and sinful thoughts and actions, those who are faithful turn to Him for help, for solace, for strength, and for sustenance. They find in the midst of their struggle that they are not strong enough, not good enough, not brave enough on their own; they need a Savior, so they turn to Him. How can God receive such vile creatures who even kill Christians while they think that they are doing God a favor? Yet, He does! Don’t believe me? Let me show you some passages that will change your mind:

20 “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” John 15:20
2 “They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.” John 16:2

“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.” Acts 22:3-5

Of course, we are talking about Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus. It was on his way to Damascus that the Lord Jesus appeared to him and called him into His service (Acts 22:6-16).

As I said, God looks on the heart. We know this truth from the Lord Himself when Samuel was trying to identify the new king of Israel, which was David, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his [Eliab’s] appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” 1 Samuel 16:7.

So, whatever we go through, whatever we endure, it is God showing us what is in our hearts; it is Him revealing to us what we set in our lives as idols, but also our dire need of Him and His Spirit. This life is an obstacle course–who wants to remain on an obstacle course?! Let’s trust Him to get us through it and onto the rest of eternity, shall we?

Tomorrow: How the LORD helps us on this obstacle course.

Abba, thank You that because of the blood of Jesus You do not see my shortcomings and failures; instead, you see that which drives me to You. May I come to You and receive all the mercy and grace that is needed in my time of need (Hebrews 4:16), which happens to be ALL THE TIME. Through Jesus, You have shown Yourself to be kind and compassionate, long-suffering and gentle with all who come to You in faith. Thank You for proving my faith; when all the dross is gone, I will shine brilliantly for You, Abba! Amen.

SS 1-10-21 Ephesians Recap 1-3

Audio Version

SS 1-10-21 Ephesians Recap

Due to COVID and the holidays, we have taken a five-week siesta from meeting. So, let’s go over what we have covered so far about this wonderful letter to the Ephesians+.

  • Ephesians was probably intended to be a circular letter.
  • The first three chapters are doctrine (teaching of truth).
  •   The last three chapters are application.
  •   Chapter one sets up the framework of salvation:
    •  The framework-1:3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10
    •  The purpose- 1:13-14
    • The prayer- 17-18, 19-21, 22-23
  •   Chapter two, verses 1-10 tell us who we were and who we are now:
    •  Dead in sin- 2:1-3
    • Alive with Christ- 2:4-7
    • Grace and God’s masterpiece- 2:8-10
  • Chapter two, verses 11-22 tell us God’s overall plan for mankind:
    •  Bringing Jews and Gentiles together through the cross-2:14-16, 17-18
    • Members and stones- 2:19-22
  • Chapter three embraces the mystery AND the gospel—and here’s where we will park today.

Read Ephesians 3:1-6. What is this mystery? We get a better feel for it in 2:14-17. Read it. The two reconciled to God through the cross…WOW! Paul was a sharer of this truth. Read 3:7-9. Now, the question is, what is this gospel?

  • Read Luke 9:6. What gospel? Read Matthew 4:17, Luke 17:20-21 and 19:41-44. Paul preached to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. What do you suppose he was meant?
  • Read Ephesians 10-12. Who approaches God with freedom and confidence? WE DO!

Because of mystery and gospel, Paul prays this wonderful prayer for the church. It would be a great one to put on a card and read it every week.

 Around the tables:

  1. Why do we read the verses out loud?
  2. Why is it important that we know this material?
  3. Do you think that in the near future that someone may ask you to give an account for the faith you have?
  4. What good might the prayer in chapter 3 do us were we to ever be detained for our faith?

Proverbs 14 1-14-21

Does the world hate you? Have you been mistreated because of what you believe? No? Then maybe we don’t look enough like Christ…

Whoever fears the LORD walks uprightly [despite what it costs them], but those who despise Him [the LORD] are devious in their ways [against His followers].

Listen to the words of Christ:

18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as it loves its own. But I have chosen you out of the world, so you don’t belong to it. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: A servant is not greater than his master. If people did wrong to me, they will do wrong to you, too. And if they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours, too21 They will do all this to you on account of me, because they do not know the One who sent me.

There are three things we need to take away from this passage:

  1. We belong to Christ!
  2. People are not our enemy; Satan and his horde are our enemy. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 6:12. Are they deceived? Yes. Willfully rebellious? Yes. Beyond redemption? Not until death. It is our job to pray for them.
  3. We will be treated like the world treated Christ. It is an honor. “They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” Acts 5:40-41.

How can we expect to be treated better than our Master? than God Himself? Jesus continued,

23 Whoever hates me also hates my Father. 24 I did works among them that no one else has ever done. If I had not done these works, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen what I have done, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. John 15:23-24

I am immediately reminded of John’s passage about people loving darkness rather than light,

19 They are judged by this fact: The Light has come into the world, but they did not want light. They wanted darkness, because they were doing evil things. 20 All who do evil hate the light and will not come to the light, because it will show all the evil things they do.  John 3:19-20

Our callings are individual. We each take a stand for Jesus’ sake. It doesn’t matter if no one listens (like Jeremiah and Ezekiel); it doesn’t matter if we see no effect at all on those we are trying to influence. There is an accumulative effect that happens beyond our ability to perceive. We must trust the LORD in each matter. Take courage in doing what He has asked you to do, wherein there is certain satisfaction in our obedience. Let’s just make sure that what we do is Scripturally based and according to what He is leading us to do.

Abba, keep us on task as we follow You. Since we are “in the game,” we know that we cannot see what is happening on other parts of the field. We will trust You to know what’s going on and even what will happen in the future. Ours is to do as You say, when You say, and how You say. Make us good soldiers for You, Lord Jesus. Amen.

We are Servants of Our Savior
Let’s be faithful ones

Proverbs 13 1-13-21

Our walk with Christ comes before all else; everything else–missions, evangelism, worship–comes out of that relationship.

6 Righteousness guards the person of integrity, but wickedness [doing things our way with no regard for God*] overthrows the sinner [it always backfires eventually].

Our integrity (who we are when no one is looking–except God) is dependent upon how closely we are walking with the Lord. We have no goodness of our own, therefore, when we step away from the Master, we go back to our own way of doing things, which is wickedness*. Lest we deceive ourselves, any time we deviate from the Lord’s will, we are serving ourselves, which serves Satan. Jesus said to remain in His love (John 15:4, 5, 6, 7, 9). Verse 10 tells us how:

10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

We have His word on the matter plus His example. Verse 11 tells us why:

11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Jesus is in us, therefore, we feel His joy. When do we feel that joy? When we remain in His love by keeping His commands. His first command is to believe in/on Him (John 6:29), first for salvation and then for daily transformation. Do we really believe what Jesus said about living waters springing out of us (John 4:14, 7:38)? How about the part where He calls us the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)? Do you believe that we are his spiritual siblings (Matthew 12:50)?

Now, how about those other commands:

  1. Missions– How can we go if we are not listening to the One who sends us?
  2. Evangelism– How will we know what to say if we are not paying attention to Him who is drawing them?
  3. Worship– Why do we think that we are worshiping Him when we are not obeying Him? Obedience sets the stage for worship because worship is our response to our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ in the Spirit. True worship is honoring Him by staying right by His side. The old hymn was right, “What He says we will do, where He sends we will go; never fear, only trust and obey.” He will never tell us to do something that He is not right there doing it with us. He will never tell us to go anywhere that He is not right there beside us. Remember that HE IS INSIDE OF US.

Now that we are committed to believe and obey Him, we are ready to love each other. In fact, it’s His first command: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). He emphasized it three times in this passage, so I think it’s important! But, we can only do it when our personal relationship with Him is right. Our purity of mind, heart, and body, as well as our righteousness that is seen by the world hinges on our staying close to Jesus. Our position in Christ is sealed; our fellowship is not.

Read His Word. Talk to Him in Prayer. Be a Do-er and not just a Hear-er.

The interesting thing is when we are close to Him, our righteousness shines “like stars in the universe”(Philippians 2:15), and people are attracted to Him through us. Let’s not worry so much about going FOR Him until we have learned to stay WITH Him.

Abba, thank You for Skip Robinson, who taught me–and the others at my church–to trust in and walk with Jesus. My steady walk with You began then and has continued to today. May I walk ever closer to You so that You can do mighty things with me, all for Your glory, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 12 1-12-21

How has knowing Christ personally changed your life? Do you have the desire to know Him better? to serve Him?

3 No one can be established through wickedness [acting out of our own will with no regard to God’s will], but the righteous cannot be uprooted.

To place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, to pledge our lives to Him forever, is a permanent commitment. Yet, if we are not careful to follow closely, we can be drawn back into the ways of our old life, our old self. It doesn’t fit anymore and we are miserable after tasting eternal life and the goodness of our Savior, but the draw is still there. Jesus spoke to His disciples about this subject their last night together:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

What is He talking about?

  1. Israel was known as the Vine (Psalm 80:8-11, Isaiah 5:2, 7). Jesus was telling them that HE is the TRUE VINE. HE is the TRUE ISRAEL. The Gardener is God Himself. What an awesome revelation!
  2. The phrase, “cuts off,” is a secondary meaning for the Greek word. It’s primary meaning is, “to raise, take up, lift.” The meaning changes from removal of a non-producing branch to the tender care of one that has dropped down into the dust. The vinedresser picks it up, washes it, and ties it back up onto the vine trellis where it can be pruned and made even more fruitful. Jesus said that He had made them clean through the word spoken to them. We, too, can be made clean (our feet-see 13:6-10) through the word provided for us!
  3. Verse 4 is the part we tend to forget. We were never designed to do anything on our own, but with the Holy Spirit. It’s a fellowship, a partnership, a RELATIONSHIP. When we try to do things our way (the very definition of wickedness), it only messes everything up.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

  1. Verse 5 is a reiteration of what He just told them. Anytime in the Bible that something is repeated, it means that it’s important.
  2. “…like a branch that is thrown away and withers”- This phrase is a metaphor. We might get a clearer picture using coals in a fire. If we remove a coal from a fire and set it to the side, what happens to it? Eventually, it cools and goes out. But, what happens when we take the coal and put it back in the fire? It catches fire and glows again! This process is how we are when it comes to listening to the Holy Spirit.
  3. What was He expecting them to wish for? Verse 18 says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” He promised that the Advocate, the Holy Spirit (see 14:25), who would never leave them and would guide them into all truth (16:13). They would know for what to ask, which leads us to the next verse.
  4. The fruit that they would bear is the manifestation of Jesus in them. What is Jesus like? He is loving, peaceful, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and has perfect self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). He is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). He is “zealous for His house,” (Psalm 69:9 and John 2:17) which is now us (1 Corinthians 6:19). Get the picture? Our mission is to find out what Jesus is like and be like Him. It’s called sanctification. It’s what the Holy Spirit does in us.

There is one more idea that I want us to consider. If the disciples didn’t remain with Jesus’ teaching, to what would they return? You guessed it: Judaism. The apostle Paul chastised the Galatians for doing just that:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:6-7

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:1-2, 6

Do we not do the same thing when we return to the vises and “securities” that we had before we came to Christ? Is our hope in our money, our family, or our health? NO! All of these things will pass away–or we will. Either way, only our relationship with Christ Jesus is eternal, so let’s put all of our time, effort, and resources into our heavenly account by remaining connected to the True Vine, which is Jesus.

Abba, may our hunger and thirst for You and Your Word become a mighty fire in our bones! Amen.

Proverbs 11 1-11-21

Our interest in learning how to be godly (like God) is a barometer of our commitment to our Savior. Why did we trust in Him if not to serve Him and become like Him?

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

One of my daily verses/passages is Titus 2:11-14. It says,

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Let’s break it down:

  1. The grace of God- Grace is what God gave us. “Justice is what a person deserves; mercy is not getting what a person deserves; grace is a person getting what he needs rather than what he deserves.” We received grace through “the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” Romans 3:24+. This grace appeared on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to dwell in believers. Now, we have Christ in us! He, through the Spirit, teaches us all the time every day–if we are listening.
  2. “No”- We have a choice. We answer either “no” or “yes” to temptation. Recognizing temptation before we are consumed by desire is the key to godly living. We say “no” BEFORE we are hit by worldly (out-of-control) passions by establishing guard rails that “keep us on the road.”
  3. “Yes”- It is implied that we say “yes” to the Spirit, and are rewarded with the desire and the power to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.
  4. “This present age,” “wait for the blessed hope,” “Appearing”- We await a returning Savior, Jesus Christ the Messiah, Yeshua Ha-Mashiach, who is King of kings and Lord of lords.
  5. Who gave Himself for us- Grace came because of Christ’s willingness to die in our place. Praise God He rose from the dead; now, we can, too, through Him! His purpose was:
    1. To redeem us from all wickedness. I define *wickedness as “acting out of our own will with no regard to God’s will.” We no longer think on our own, but are joined by the Holy Spirit.
    2. To purify for Himself a people who are His very own. I quoted Romans 3:24 earlier. Here’s the entire passage: 22 “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. 23 There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Jesus created a new humanity by reconciling Jews and Gentiles to God through the cross (Ephesians 2:14-18).
  6. Eager to do what is good- Are we eager to do what is good? Do we look for the right way to do things? Do we ask Him to help us determine what is good in every circumstance? Every word? Even every thought? Are we aware of His presence and participation in our lives?

May we seek to become more and more aware each day by searching the Scriptures for insights into God’s character, God’s motivation, and God’s plan for this world and all mankind. IT’S IN THERE!

Abba, I love it when You stop me in my prayer time and have me camp on a Scripture passage. You rarely just come out and tell me something; You have me dig and search for corroborating Scriptures and even check to see what other Christians have to say on the matter. But, what learning! What fellowship with the Spirit! Thank You for being active in my life. May I never go back to “doing things on my own with no regard for You and Your will” (i.e. *wickedness). Lead on, my King. I pledge to follow. Amen.

Proverbs 10 1-10-21

Let’s let NOTHING distract us or deter us from worshiping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, today. He is our EVERYTHING.

1 A wise child brings joy to his father…blessings crown the head of the righteous…the wages of the righteous is life…the lips of the righteous nourish many…the way of the LORD is a refuge for the blameless. vs 6, 16, 21, 29

What we are zealous about reveals who we truly worship.
Zealous– intensely devoted, eager, or enthusiastic; that which dominates our conscious thought.

Today, as we enter into our time of worship, whether at church or at home, may we consider about whom we are zealous. There are really only three choices: One is our heavenly Father, another is Satan, who is the god of this world, and the third is ourselves–which really is worshiping Satan because we live in rebellion against the heavenly Father (see Ephesians 2:1-3). Here’s what Jesus was zealous about,

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” John 12:23, 27

Jesus was all about going to the cross for us. Why? So that He could break the power that sin and death had on our lives, so He could send His Spirit to live in our hearts, and so He could give us eternal life (beginning the moment His Spirit entered our lives). Now, tell me, are you THANKFUL?!!!

The only condition that the Holy Spirit deems worthy of entry into our lives is complete surrender and devotion. There must be a time in our lives when we pledged allegiance to our Lord and Savior, a total giving over of control of our lives to Him. For all time. There are those who trusted Christ to save them from their sins, but never gave Him their lives. It is my opinion that He is still standing at the threshold of their hearts waiting for two things: One is the deed to their lives, and the other is the Master key to every room in their hearts. What we are talking about is fealty, which is an old English term for the pledge of the people to their king. Everything about their lives was then controlled by him and dedicated to his service.

If every person who went to church (or watched online) were a Christian (a close follower of Christ, a true disciple), then why is the percentage of them who read their Bibles at least four times a week only 3%?

3% said they read the Bible four or more times a week,
10% said they read it “several times,”
and 9% said they read it once a week.

2020 State of the Bible

Is the Bible not our instruction manual for godly living? Is it not the source of who God is, His plan for humanity, and the account of our salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ? If we think we can please God without reading His Word, then we are confused and deceived or downright rebellious. God thought enough of us and His Plan to write it down for us to have in black and white. We don’t have to take anyone’s word for it; it’s there for us to read for ourselves! Not only that,

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword [a scalpel], it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

As we enter into our worship time today, let’s consider how God instructs us to come before Him:

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7

Abba, as I stand before my congregation, may I be the Lead Worshiper rather than the Worship Leader. May I be the first to come to You in humility recognizing who You are and the high honor we have to even come before You! May I lead the people in praise, in testimony, and in prayer, O LORD, as we pledge ourselves to You and renew our devotion to You. May Your Holy Spirit bind our hearts together; may He speak to each of us encouraging us, consoling us, and urging us to stay in Your presence all week long, listening to Your voice, and following Your commands. We are Yours, heavenly Father. We follow You, Lord Jesus. We comply with Your prompting, Holy Spirit. We worship You in the splendor of Your holiness (Psalm 96:9). Amen.

Proverbs 9 1-9-21

Whatever we fear keeps us from experiencing God and all that He is. We must lift our focus from that fear to Him.

10 The fear [recognition of who He is; loving Him above all else] of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and [experiential] knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” John 8:32. It is interesting that just before this statement–and part of it–is this, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” I would like to meld two concepts together. One is hating all else except the Father and the other is whatever we bind on earth is bound in heaven.

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

In the Matthew account, Jesus was talking about the fact that He didn’t come to bring overall peace to the world, but a sword as He gives individual peace. The gospel would divide family members, “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother…a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household” Matthew 34-36. It still does.

19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19

We can conject that the keys are faith and trust, belief and obedience. The melding of the two concepts is this: If anything or anyone comes before our belief, faith, trust and obedience to the Lord Jesus, then we are bound here on this earth; being bound to earth tethers us in a way that keeps us from experiencing all that Christ has for us. We must understand that being tethered to this earth is more than just a noose on our foot, “the cords of their sins hold them fast” Proverbs 5:22. Our tethers actually bind us like ropes; they chain us and weigh us down. Mark 4:19 gives us a list, “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things…”. Jesus gave the biggest obstacle for most people: Family. We must give up even our loved ones in order to follow Christ. Do we trust Him to know their future? Is He strong enough and wise enough to take care of them–regardless of what happens to them?

If we can let go of even these tethers, then we are loosed to experience the fullness of His love, joy and peace. Like Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

Freedom is found beyond the tethers of this world.

By focusing on Christ beyond the good and bad circumstances we are in or our family is in, we can become truly free to experience His peace and feel His joy, to love as He loves, and to give: We give patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to those around us. We give truth both in word and deed. We practice righteousness because we ARE righteous on the inside; we just need to work it to the outside.

What tethers you to this world? Do you truly believe that our heavenly Father will meet all our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19)? It’s a daily decision based upon daily practice.

Abba, what tethers me to this world? My love for Robin? No. We have made the pledge to each other to love You first. Our children? No. We gave them to You soon after they were born. Our grandchildren? No. They are Yours, too. Security? Health? Position? MUSIC? No. We consider them forfeited for Your sake. It’s a daily struggle to keep them on the altar, but our daily practice of prayer and Bible study keeps us current on our commitment to You. We KNOW YOU are committed to us. Once more, I quote part of my favorite psalm, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And this earth has nothing I desire besides You” (Psalm 73:25). Jesus, be my Lord and I will be Your disciple. You have the words of life. Amen.

Proverbs 1-8-21

Which comes first, our love for Christ or following His commands? We serve because we love Him, but show that love through service.

1 Does not wisdom [the Spirit] call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?

Jesus came to seek and to save those who are lost.” We were lost, but now we are found. What does our salvation mean personally? Jesus describes it in John 14:15-21,

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Let’s squeeze these verses and get the nectar out of them:

  1. If you love me- We love Him because He first loved us (also 1 John 4:19).
  2. Keep my commands- Jesus’ call on our lives is for us to live righteously. We can only do that if we listen to Him and live like Him. The point of our salvation is to be like Jesus, with Jesus.
  3. Another advocate…forever- He’s speaking of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. He is also mentioned in John 14:26, John 15:26, John 16:7-8, and John 16:13-15.
  4. For He lives in you and will be in you- This verse right here makes Christianity what it is. Our personal relationship with the Father is stated and described in these words. Want to know the difference between Christianity and Buddhism? Hinduism? Islam? New Age? Here it is!
  5. I will come to you- Lest we think that the Spirit and Jesus are two different people, Jesus superimposes Himself over the Spirit. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ, yet He is a distinct part of the Trinity. WOW!
  6. But you will see Me- This statement is both literal and figurative. It is literal in that Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples after the resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 15:4-8 for a list) and it is figurative in that we “see” Him by knowing Him personally in our lives. We “see” Him in Scripture when we read His Word; we hear His voice when He talks to us; we feel His hand on our backs when He urges us on, and we feel His arms around us when we need a hug. I LOVE THIS VERSE!
  7. I am in the Father, and you are in me, and I am in you- Folks, it doesn’t get more intimate than that!
  8. The one who loves me- The way we show our love for Christ is first by having His commands (in other words, we learn them from His Words: the Bible) and then by keeping them. Aren’t we glad that He doesn’t hold us to the Law as it was before He came?! Instead, He gives us just one new command: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” John 13:34-35.
  9. Loved by my Father- We are loved by His Father! Isn’t that great?! In fact, we have been adopted by Him! Jesus also promises that He loves us and will show Himself to us. I live for this promise. How about you?

Today, let’s show Jesus how much we love Him by spending time with Him in prayer, in His Word, and with other Christians sharing and testifying to each other. Then, when He brings someone to us, we can share out of our storehouse all the good things we know about Christ so that they can experience Him, too.

Abba, I love this passage. It tells me who I am in You and that You are with–even in–me. My security is…well, secure. Thank You for being so plain; I need that. May I show You how much I love You be obeying Your commands as You lead me with Your counsel. Amen.

Proverbs 7 1-7-21

What is it exactly in our lives that draws people to want to know our LORD? Why would they want to be like us?

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

The problem is that we have all “turned to her ways and strayed into her paths.” For me, the big question is, “How do I avoid temptation from now on?” The answer to this question is found in chapter 9, verse 15, “…calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way…” Jesus said to “enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” Matthew 7:13-14.

This narrow road we are on runs parallel with the broad road, but we are going the other way. Somehow, people on the broad road and we on the narrow road cross paths (it’s a spiritual thing) and God gives those people the opportunity to see and decide to join Him on the narrow road. For us, it’s more about how we live than what we say. The Spirit is quite capable and, indeed, necessary to bring conviction in those people’s lives. For us, James 1:19-21 gives us a clear picture of day-to-day living.

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.

The first part of this verse is speaking to those who are part of God’s family and are interested in producing righteousness in their lives. James gives us some very good wisdom. I have heard it said that God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we would listen twice as much as we talk. Point taken.

It’s the next part that hits us where we live. There are three assumptions:

  1. There is moral filth and evil in our lives;
  2. That we want to get rid of that moral filth and “the evil that is so prevalent;”
  3. That the word is planted in us.

We spend our whole lives rooting out ungodliness in our lives. But, lest we think that God is ever unhappy with us because of our filthiness and failures, let us remember these truths:

  1. We have the righteousness of Christ. HE HAS ALREADY MADE US RIGHTEOUS (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  2. His joy overflows in our lives because HE is joyful in our lives. It’s what living water is all about (John 4:14 and John 7:38).
  3. Our heavenly Father uses the trials in our lives to teach us and to grow us. It’s all about the relationship.
  4. When He is ready, He will instantly glorify us, so we don’t have to worry about not ever reaching any certain point of godliness (1 Corinthians 15:53).

So, let us get rid of all moral filth and prevalent evil by humbly accepting the word that has been–and is being–planted in us. The question is, how hard are we working at it? Is reading a chapter of Proverbs a day doing it for us? Should we be reading more? How about aligning ourselves with Him in prayer? Are our prayers perfunctory or do we crave His Presence and Participation in our lives? Maybe we need to venture outside the norm and “up our game” according to my pastor, Bryan. Let’s be more about the Father’s business and less about our own.

Abba, this world looks dark right now, but I know that You have everything well in hand. I also know that our lights shine brighter when the world is darker. Please draw Your people into close relation to You and teach us to shine brightly for the world to see, especially to those around us. We love You and trust You, and Your love drives out our fear of disease, political turmoil, loss of security, and even death. Thank You for so great AND COMPLETE a salvation. Amen.

Proverbs 6 1-6-21

Obedience without love is duty. We are NEVER to serve God out of duty, but out of gratitude and love. He loves us, we love Him.

21 Bind them [teaching of God’s love for us] on your heart; fasten them around your neck.

Today is straight out of my journal (I did go back and list the Scripture references).

Without the desire to do Your will, Abba, I am left with nothing but duty (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). This desire is motivated by gratitude and love. It’s not what I can get from You, but what You have already done for me for which I am grateful. The love I have in my heart is You (Your Spirit) loving You (the Father) through Jesus (the Son), and invites me to join in as a member of that love (John 15:9-11, 1 Corinthians 2:12-13).

The inner peace I feel knowing that I am washed in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14, 12:11), made perfect, complete and whole in Your eternal sight (Jude 24), fills me with joy inexpressible (1 Peter 1:8), Abba. The fellowship we share is beyond words.

The framework of the knowledge for my relationship with You is explained and illustrated in Scripture. The more I know, the better I can understand; the better I understand, the more victorious I can be in this world.

The other neat thing about Scripture is that I connect with You when I read them, ponder them, and quote them. I LOVE that connection!

The Spirit within me has given me a new desire, which is to be just like You, LORD. Whatever that looks like, that’s what I want to be. Work my salvation from the inside out.

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation [work your salvation from the inside out] with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will [desire] and to act [power] in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13

Amen.

Proverbs 5 1-5-21

Learning to trust the LORD and follow His guidance is our main task and goal in this life. Everything else follows suit.

7 Now then, my children, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say.
22 The evil deeds of the wicked [those who act with no regard for the LORD’s opinion and direction] ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. 23 For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly [actions based upon habit and not on the LORD’s guidance].

We all have fears and doubts. The world, whose god is Satan, offers us many illusions. We have feelings that betray us, so how do we know which feelings to trust? We need to learn to hear with spiritual ears and see with spiritual eyes. This illustration is used by God: Isaiah quoted Him (Isaiah 6:9-10), Jeremiah used it (Jeremiah 5:21), and Jesus quoted the Isaiah passage in Matthew 13:14-15. But, then He says, “But blessed are your [the disciples’] eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.” He is referring to Him and His message, His words. We “see and hear” Him in the Scriptures. We need to see that God has a plan, that we are part of the plan, and that we need to be about that plan WITH Him.

We combat fear and doubt with the Word of God and with His presence. The Word is our truth and it gives us inside knowledge while His presence in our lives confirms that truth and helps us internalize it, act on it, and finally understand it. 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 explains:

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

  1. The god of this age is Satan. Check it out in John 14:30 and Ephesians 2:2.
  2. They cannot see the light because they love darkness (John 3:19).
  3. That light is the Gospel, the good news about the kingdom of Christ being with us; it displays the glory of Christ, who is the exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:3).
  4. Paul and his cohorts preached Christ, and presented themselves as servants of His message.
  5. God’s glory was displayed in the Creation of the World. The same power raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at God’s right hand (Ephesians 1:19-20). That power is represented as light in us, and gives us knowledge of God’s glory that is displayed in the face of Christ. WE get to gaze upon His face because He lives in us and we encounter Him all the time! All we have to do is look up and away from whatever has our attention.

Let’s make it all about Him today. Let’s read His Word as if our lives depended on it, which they do. As we read His Word, focus on what Jesus said and did, and on what the apostles want us to know about following Him. The Spirit will help us interpret what we need at our time of need (Mark 13:11). Remember my definition of folly: Actions based upon habit and not on the LORD’s guidance. Why is habit so important?

Trusting Him in one area helps us succeed in trusting Him in other areas. Likewise, failing to trust Him in one area causes us to fail in other areas.

Jesus said, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much” Luke 16:10. Let’s be faithful in all we have and do and say.

Abba, may You be honored today in our lives as we trust in You and follow You as we read, hear and obey Your counsel from Your Word. May Your counsel be our top priority today and Your will our greatest endeavor. We love You. Even in that, help us to show our love to You through our thoughts and actions, our words and deeds. Amen.

Proverbs 4 1-4-21

What divides us ultimately separates us. Let’s focus on what we have in common as Christians.

24 Keep your mouth free of perversity [that which is contrary to Christ’s nature and commands]; keep corrupt talk [topics said in ways that are not godly, i.e. derogatory remarks, defaming character; blustering] far from your lips.

Yeshua (Jesus) intends for us to be one even as He and the Father are one; in fact, He said that our unity is how the world will know God’s love (John 17:20-23). That’s a pretty tall order! It’s going to require some coordination–but, I know just the Person to do it: the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16, Ephesians 4:3-4). Here’s what we need to remember:

I used to think that hate was the opposite of love. Then, I moved up to thinking apathy was the opposite of love. Now, I’m beginning to understand that FEAR is the opposite of love. Knowing that God loves me, that I am an eternal being, a child of the Light, and that Christ is in me and I am hidden in Christ helps me to understand that fear is doubting any of these biblical truths. Fear of pain, fear of rejection, fear of people, fear of loss, fear of hunger or security or relationships, and even fear of death are reactions to any doubts I have about who and Whose I am. So, who am I? WHOSE am I?

  • I am a child of the King of the Universe. I am an eternal being created to be LIKE Christ IN Christ. I have been rescued from fear and darkness and brought into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). I am Christ to all around me–His light, His fragrance, His aroma, Him!
  • I am God’s. As His possession and child, I am His to do with as He pleases. The neat–and comforting–thing is that I know I am of great worth to Him, therefore, I can trust Him to have my best–and eternal–interests in mind. Worth is established by what a person is willing to pay to get it. The Father gave the Son so that He could have ME. He did for you, too, and this is why we can trust Him: We are of the greatest worth to Him.
  • The Spirit connects us. We all talk to the same Spirit, and He guides us with His counsel (Psalm 73:23-24, John 16:13). When we get together to worship, His Spirit in me connects with His Spirit in you and forms a bond that goes beyond natural bounds. It’s why we are commanded to meet together regularly, even if it’s just two or three at a time (Matthew 18:20).

Rather than focusing on topics that divide us, let’s focus on what unites us. In doing so, we make His joy complete in us.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit [full accord] and of one mind. Philippians 2:1-2

We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. 1 John 1:3-4

Abba, You know my heart. I want what You want. I have asked, and Your Spirit has been changing my perspective. Even so, I have a hard time maintaining this new perspective. Help me, O LORD, to untether myself from the things of this earth and to set my eyes on Your Prize, which is a place at Your feet. Help us be united in Your love, Father. I know it’s important. Amen.

Proverbs 3 1-3-21

What is our goal in life? What is God expecting of us? What do we expect of ourselves? It’s a good question to ask as we go into worship.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Don’t be wise in your own eyes. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.

Christlikeness. That’s our goal. So, how do we attain becoming like Christ? By knowing Christ–not about Christ, but knowing Him intimately and thus becoming just like Him. The Spirit’s job is to teach us to be like Him, and is Himself Yeshua (Jesus). To know Christ is to become like Him; to become like Him calls us to a higher understanding and closer walk with Him.

God has gifted us with everything we need for godly living–Himself!
What are His expectations?
That we believe (act on, put our faith and trust in)
His One and only Son–daily, even continuously (John 6:29).

So, how do we get to know Him and become like Him? Paul tells us in Philippians 3.

10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! NLT

What?! I’m not sure I like that version. Let’s try a different one.

Now I long to know Christ and the power shown by his resurrection: now I long to share his sufferings, even to die as he died, so that I may perhaps attain as he did, the resurrection from the dead. J.B. Phillips

Hey, I like that one even less! Surely there’s a better one.

10 And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; 11 so that I may attain to the resurrection [that will raise me] from the dead. AMP

Well, there’s one more I want to try.

10 [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] 11 That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]. Amplified Bible, Classic Edition

In case you haven’t noticed, it is all about the relationship. And, like Paul, the resurrection power calls us to die to self and live WITH Christ. I used to say, “He died for me; I’ll live for Him,” but people can live FOR Christ without ever really knowing Christ. Let’s keep the main thing the main thing: It’s a relationship. Let’s spend time with Him in worship this morning and then walk with Him through the rest of the day. Let’s allow Him to guide our evening, speak to us in our dreams, and then call us to get up and join Him at the table for prayer and Bible study in the morning. Then, repeat.

Abba, as we begin this new year worshipping “together,” may we seek Your face (Psalm 27:8) through praise and worship, fellowship and teaching. May we put You on the throne of our hearts AND KEEP YOU THERE. Be our God; reveal Yourself to us. We are Yours. Amen.

Proverbs 2 1-2-21

Having an “undivided heart” means that we must decide who we will follow: The LORD, or ourselves (idols). It’s a daily decision.

Today’s Proverbs chapter is one of my favorites. It shows us how to follow by using the “IF/THEN” approach. Let’s look at verses 1-5.

IF:

  • We accept His words as true and store them up within us as the manual for righteous living;
  • We turn away from folly (the mindset and attitude of this world) and turn to His wisdom that is presented to us in His Word;
  • We apply our hearts and minds to understanding what the Spirit is teaching us;
  • We call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding by confessing to the Spirit that we NEED Him to open our minds and hearts to what He is saying;
  • We make His knowledge, His wisdom, and His will more important than silver and hidden treasure,

THEN:

  • We will understand what it means to fear the LORD–not a fear of punishment nor a fear of disappointing Him, but one of awe and respect and to realize that we are in His presence and we are SO out of our element! We stand in the presence of the KING OF THE UNIVERSE–and, yet, He loves us as His very own children!
  • We will find the knowledge of God in that we know Him personally and intimately.

The other verse I want to study is Psalm 86:11, “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” In order to unite our hearts, we must first recognize that we have divided hearts. Divided between what? God’s way and our way. In order to accept God’s way, we must trust Him implicitly (completely) and explicitly (Him only). Satan wants to place doubt in our minds and get us to question the goodness of God:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die [the lie]. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Satan got Eve to question God’s motivation for not eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We know NOW that we weren’t ready for the draw that such knowledge has on us. Indeed, we cannot resist the temptation to do evil! But God, in His GOODNESS, had the framework of salvation already in place (see Ephesians 1:3-14). Now, we have the working of grace through the Holy Spirit, “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly [out of control] passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age (Titus 2:12).

Today, let’s strive to live with undivided hearts that are completely given over to our Lord and Savior, Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ). There is SO MUCH to learn, so let’s get started! Let’s accept, store up, turn, apply, call out, cry aloud, look for, and search for the Father in Scripture and in prayer.

Abba, I pray that You would teach me to have an undivided heart, to recognize and acknowledge that I have the knowledge of good and evil, but I also have the power through Your Spirit to choose righteously. I understand that I was not designed to make decisions on my own. You walk with me, holding my hand and guiding me with Your counsel (Psalm 73:23-24). May I trust You implicitly and explicitly today, Father. Amen.

Proverbs 1 1-1-21

Not feeling like having a quiet time with the LORD? Die to those feelings and be refreshed by His Spirit!

10 My child, if sinful men [feelings, spirits] entice you, do not give in to them.
23 If you repent at my rebuke, I will pour out my thoughts to you and make my heart known to you.
33 Whoever listens to Me will live in [spiritual] safety and be at ease [concerning the trials and struggles of this life], without fear of harm [to our souls].

It’s a new year. Resolutions are made. Let’s make one of our own: Commit anew to read a chapter of Proverbs each morning. It would be good to read a chapter in the New Testament, as well. Let’s ask the LORD to speak to us through His Word. There is no power in the pages themselves, but the POWER and the SPIRIT from whom the words flow are eternal and they are life. “The Word of God is living and active!” Hebrews 4:12.

This morning, let’s look at our model verse from King David:

Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try [test] me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

It occurred to me that if God chooses not to be offended, then, in order to be like Him, we should choose to not be offended, either. Yeshua (Jesus) knew what He was doing when He sent the Holy Spirit (which is actually Him) into our hearts in that He was/is aware of all of our faults and tendencies, failures and even rebellions. His expectations are different than ours; He is concerned with the maturity and transformation of our souls. Our good deeds flow from that maturity and transformation. We learn to do these good deeds WITH HIM rather than FOR HIM. Since He knows when we will finally turn the corner and have victory in those difficult areas of our lives, He strives with us in perfect patience, kindness and gentleness as we struggle in those areas. He rejoices in our future. Let’s do the same with ourselves! It’s part of the transformation…

New Passage for the New Year:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10

When we begin to feel stressed, frustrated, and even angry with ourselves (and others), let us remember whose and what we are: We are His children of light; we have Him in us, and He is the light of the world (John 8:12). It’s a great way to start the day–and the year!

Abba, I loved waking up this morning with the tune, “Hear the Voice of My Beloved,” running through my head. I perceived that You were calling me to come and join You at Your table for “breakfast.” I dined on Ezekiel as he called the people of Israel to repent and come back You; then I supped on John’s recounting of Yeshua doing the same thing. Wow! Your compassion knows no limits!!! Thank You for sharing with me this morning. I love it. I love You. Looking forward to the day and the year WITH YOU, amen.

Proverbs 31 12-31-20

We could consider 2020 a bust, but God uses everything in our lives to teach us and to grow us. Recognizing His hand is key.

11 Her [The Wife of Noble Character] husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value [not only material goods, but integrity and stature, as well].

There are other examples in the Bible of people with noble character:

  • Joseph was a person of integrity. He was loyal to whatever master he served, first Potiphar (Genesis 39:2-6)–twice, actually, if we count his refusal of Potiphar’s wife’s advances (Genesis 39:11-12), then the prison warden (Genesis 39:21-23), then Pharaoh himself (Genesis 41:41-44), then to his wife, Asenath (Genesis 41:45, 50), and then to his family (the rest of Genesis).
  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were men of integrity. They were loyal to the LORD in defiance of King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3).
  • Daniel was a person of integrity. He, too, was loyal to the LORD in defiance of King Neb’s decree, but loyal to King Neb at the same time (Daniel 6).

God is the same way. Philippians 1:6 tell us that “we have confidence in this, that He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus [either He returns, or we go to be with Him individually].”

Concerning this past year, how are we to view it? For the right viewpoint, let’s turn to Philippians 3:13-14.

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 ahead14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

  1. We’re not there, yet, so don’t get impatient (my problem!). Sanctification (becoming like Jesus) is a process that will take every day on this earth, and then some! Enjoy the process with Him.
  2. Forgetting means “to set aside.” We don’t allow memories (especially of past offenses) to color our decisions today. God “remembers our sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12), so we should do the same–even our own!
  3. Instead, let’s strain toward what is ahead, which is Christ-likeness. And, the best way to become like Him is to know Him intimately (we’ll get to that in a minute).
  4. The goal to which we press is this: “…a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” 2 Timothy 4:8.

How do we know Christ intimately? First, we consider loss the “gains” of this world (Philippians 3:7). Second, we make knowing Christ Jesus our Lord the ultimate–and ONLY–goal of this life (Philippians 3:8). Third, we recognize that our righteousness comes only through our faith in Christ (Philippians 3:9). And fourth, we desire to know Him in His resurrection, which are the powerful and glorious times, and His sufferings, which are the difficult and painful times (Philippians 3:10).

Christ lives in us.
We live in Christ.
Knowing Christ is all.

We have our marching orders. Let’s count on the Spirit to give us first the desire and then the power to do it!

Abba, as I look back on this year, I see in myself victories and defeats. But, I also see You walking alongside me giving me encouragement, instruction, and Your wise counsel. Thank You for Your faithfulness! I look forward to this next year being more of the same, but hopefully in bigger strides. Amen.

Proverbs 30 12-30-20

Have you ever wondered why evil people live so long? Why doesn’t God kill them and save humanity from people like Hitler?

11 “There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers;
12 those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth;
13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty, whose glances are so disdainful;
14 those whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives
to devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among mankind.

I believe that the answer is in Ezekiel 18. The key verse is in the last verse:

32 For I take no pleasure in the [spiritual] death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

The whole chapter is about getting what you deserve. If you are evil, then when you die, you will be judged accordingly, and if you are righteous, then when you die, you will be judged accordingly. Sounds very Old-Testament, doesn’t it? But, then we come to verse 21 and that’s where we find the heart of God:

21 “But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live [be judged as righteous in heaven]; they will not die. 22 None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them [at death]. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live [spiritually]. 23 Do I take any pleasure in the [spiritual] death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

For the most part, mankind is given 70 years to turn from our wicked ways and turn to the LORD. In the U.S. 90% of men and 93% of women will live to be 70 years old. 62% and 71% live to be 80 (my parents were 82 and 83 when they died), and 22% and 34% live to be 90 (Robin’s parents are currently 90 and 87). We have it on record that God does take some people early because of their wickedness (Genesis 38:7), but for the most part, God allows humanity to live naturally for 70-80 years (Psalm 90:10). God gives them time to repent of their evil ways and turn to him. Peter restates this character trait of God in 2 Peter 3:9,

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

God has NEVER wanted His creation to perish. Even the Great Flood was a last resort, so to speak. God allowed humanity to come down to one man and his family–that in itself tells us just how wicked mankind had become! As long as there is breath in a person, he has the opportunity to repent and come to Christ.

One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” There is not a truer statement. Since Jesus and God are one along with the Spirit, we now know that God has always been GOOD even as He is GREAT. Let’s rejoice in having such a great God as our heavenly Father who invites us to be ONE with Him now and forever.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodnessThrough these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

Abba, I praise You for Your patience and Your long-suffering. Your goodness knows no bounds! Thank You for offering to me eternal life through Jesus Christ my Lord. I particularly love the fact that I don’t have to wait until I die to reap the benefits of such a great salvation. I enjoy Your presence and participation in my life RIGHT NOW! I invite You, once again, to be my Guide and Companion. You lead; I follow. Amen.

Proverbs 29 12-29-20

Jesus turned to me and said, “My Father loves you so much that He sent Me so that you could have eternal life with Me.”

18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. The revelation is the LORD speaking directly to us; the restraint is godliness and casting it off leads to destruction. Wisdom’s instruction is this: “to believe in the one He [God] has sent.” John 6:29.

People shouldn’t be surprised when I say that Jesus talks to me regularly, even constantly. EVERY CHRISTIAN has this opportunity. There IS a learning curve to understanding:

  1. We must learn to recognize that He is talking to us,
  2. We must understand the lingo–there is a vocabulary that we need to learn,
  3. We must know the things He is likely to say to us–and NOT say to us. For instance, God convicts, but never condemns with His words to us. Ex. God says, “You just lied. Repent now.” Satan says, “You just lied. You’re a bad person; you are dirty and will never be clean!”

The Word of God, a.k.a. the Bible, is our link to God, our guidebook, reference manual, and primer for knowing God. HE wrote it so that we can know Him better and so that we’re all on the same page, so to speak, concerning His character and His Plan. Problems arise when people make much of the words and forget to consult the Author. I would like to introduce a unique way of thinking about the Word of God. I read it in a book recently. It is from The 49th Mystic by Ted Dekker, page 208:

“I…I have the second riddle,” I said.
“Riddle? You mean the finger.”
“Finger? No, a riddle. A clue.”
“We call it a finger. It points the way, like a finger that points to the sun. It isn’t the sun, it only points to it. Like Scriptures. They aren’t the Word; the Word is Justin [Jesus]. The Scriptures only point to the Word. Remember, set your eyes on what is unseen, not on the finger itself. If you focus all of your attention on the finger, it will block your sight of that to which it points. In this way the letter–that is, Scripture–kills, but the Spirit gives life, as written.”

For instance, when I read John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that anyone who believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life,” I understand that Jesus came to pay the penalty for my sin. But, it’s not until I hear His voice say to me, “My Father loves you so much that He sent Me so that you could have eternal life with Me,” that I begin to comprehend the passion, the fervor, the LOVE that is behind those words. When He talks to me, I EXPERIENCE Scripture–I experience CHRIST! Now, you know why I have made it my life’s ambition to know the Bible. It’s Christ’s lingo; it’s His vocabulary. When I study the Jewish sacrificial system, I no longer see just dead animals and macabre sacrifices. I see a foretelling of the sacrifice that Christ would make on the cross for me. All of a sudden, it’s personal. I feel remorse for the necessity of Him having to leave heaven to do that for me, but I also feel overwhelming gratitude that He did!

John 3:16 is just one example. If we let Him, He will speak to us in EVERY verse–even the Old Testament. My personal life passage that I read EVERY morning is,

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

Psalm 73:23-26

Not, “He is always with me,” but I am always with HIM! He holds my hand! He guides me with His counsel–WOW! And He promises to take me to be with Him in glory. Does it get any better than that? What do I care about this world? What is there here that would keep me from Him? There are many loved ones in heaven, but He is the ONE that I desire to see, to kneel at His pierced feet, and say, “Thank You, Jesus.” My heart and my flesh (my sinful nature causes me to) fail, but God is the strength of my heart, and He will finish what He has begun in me. He is my portion, my stake, my allotment, my inheritance forever. When I read these words, I am speaking what He has revealed to my soul. It is truth on a level that goes WAY BEYOND intellect. It’s personal.

Today, pick up your Bible and read; expect Him to speak to You through what you read. Ponder it; apply it; ask Him about it, and then wait for insight and understand to enter your heart. Don’t believe it can happen? Then, read Proverbs 2. Oh, and shoot me a text about what God says to you…!

Abba, I pray that You would open up the minds and hearts of Your children as they open up Your Scriptures. You thought enough of us to write down what You think of us–if we would only take the time and make the effort to read it for ourselves! I know You have loved me with an everlasting love,” just as You loved Israel. I glory in that love, O LORD. May we feel Your excitement when we read Your Scriptures; may we bask in Your presence and drink in Your wisdom and knowledge. Know our hearts, O God. We are Your children! Amen.

Proverbs 28 12-28-20

If you are His, YOU WILL FOLLOW HIM. If you are not, then you won’t. Has He called You? Then, ANSWER–or walk away.

Evildoers do not understand what is right,
    but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.
If anyone turns a deaf ear to My instruction,
    even their prayers are detestable.
13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
    but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
26 Those who trust in themselves are fools,
    but those who walk in [the] wisdom [of the Spirit] are kept safe.

Last night, our church observed the Lord’s Supper. We ate the bread and drank the wine (unfermented, of course). Then, this morning I was reading John 6. In this chapter, we read Jesus’ words:

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

He goes on to say, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). Here was the dividing line: Those who were not really interested in giving their lives to their Christ took His meaning literally. They were (and are) caught up in the flesh and see everything from a physical point of view. They walked away. Those whom the Father had given to the Son (see verse 37) understood that Jesus was talking in spiritual terms. They may have not understood the full meaning (Christ had not died for them, yet), but they trusted Him. “You have the words of eternal life.” (Peter in verse 68).

In the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus used the same terminology:

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.Luke 22:19-20

We understand that the bread HAS ALWAYS represented His body,
which is the sacrifice for our sins.

We understand that the cup HAS ALWAYS represented His blood,
which is the atonement for all sin.

Every time we partake in the Lord’s Supper we remember His life, His death, and His resurrection.
Every time we eat the bread, we offer our lives as living sacrifices to Him.
Every time we drink the cup, we accept His atonement for our sins and pledge our lives to Him.

This pledge is what it means to “do this in remembrance of Me.” And, what is that pledge?

He died for me; I’ll live for Him.

Of course, we don’t need to partake in the Lord’s Supper to pledge ourselves to Him. In fact, we are to do it every morning. If you haven’t done it yet, today, how about doing it now? It’s important.

Abba, I pledge myself to You. May You teach me to quit seeing with just my physical eyes and open my mind and spirit to the spiritual kingdom that is inside of my fellow Christians and all around me. I know that You are working in the lives of those whom You are calling (those who will listen); I want to “see” You working and join You there. I accept Your sacrifice as my own and offer my life as a living sacrifice to You. I trust that You will transform me now and reveal to me Your will, Your good, pleasing, and perfect will. Amen.

Proverbs 27 12-27-20

Christianity is not so much about being LIKE Jesus as it is being WITH Jesus. We allow Jesus to live in and through us!

19 As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the [His] heart.

We are PRISMS. Prisms don’t generate any light of their own; they take light that is being shone into them and make it beautiful. Jesus is the LIGHT. In allowing His light to shine in and through us, we become His light to the world. We hide that light when we quit believing that He loves us and wants to work with us as PARTNERS. Yes, He is the Lead Partner, but we are partners with Him, nonetheless. We’re family!

For instance, if we quit believing that He loves us as we are, then we begin to fear His retribution for our failures to “measure up.” We read His Word for rules to follow and for a certain way to be that will be pleasing to Him. We don’t want to “disappoint Him.” The problem is that He ALREADY loves us and is pleased with us. He is ENJOYING living life with and through us. We do not need to fear His retribution; Jesus took it to the cross for us. To think that He will punish us is to deny Christ’s finished work on the cross! I am not saying that there are not consequences to our ungodly actions, but I AM saying that we no longer need to fear God’s wrath. Neither do we need to fear disappointing Him. He knows our weaknesses–He knows our FUTURE! He even knows how many times we will get things wrong before getting them right. Guess what: He rejoices in the time we WILL get them right! Until then, we are under His tutelage by way of the Holy Spirit, who is the epitome of love, joy and peace, patience, kindness, and goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness, and He has COMPLETE self-control (He is GOD, you know).

John said it like this:

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:13-19

Let’s see,

  1. We know we live in Him and He in us by knowing His Spirit who is in us.
  2. John testifies to the fact that Jesus is who He says He is and did what He said He would do.
  3. Want God to live in you and you in God? Then acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God; bank on it, depend upon it as if your life depended on it, because it does! Now, ACT on that knowledge.
  4. We are like Jesus because His light shines through us (Ephesians 5:8), therefore, we do not fear judgment.
  5. His love drives out our fear, because fear has to do with punishment. Remember, Jesus took our punishment to the cross!
  6. We spend our lives learning how to acknowledge and accept His perfect love. Our fears are world-generated; His love, joy and peace are heaven-generated. Let’s focus on the heaven-generated ones!
  7. We can love (not fear) because He loved us first. He started it; He will finish it (Philippians 1:6).

If you having trouble believing me or even following me, consider the verses in Colossians that we studied several days ago:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in GodWhen Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4

We are dead to this world, therefore, we cannot fear death. Trust Christ in how we leave our earthly bodies. He has SO MUCH MORE waiting for us! But, let’s not wait until we get THERE to begin experiencing heaven. HEAVEN LIVES IN US NOW! Jesus brings the kingdom of heaven to us when He enters us. So, let’s get started!

Abba, thank You for loving me so much that You came and took my place on the cross. Thank You for putting me to death and raising me to walk in newness of life with You. I look forward to each day learning to love instead of fear, and to “set my mind” on the things of heaven. You get such a kick out of teaching me, and I am glad! Open my mind to heaven; open my heart to You, LORD. I want to know You deeply and intimately. TBC

Proverbs 26 12-26-20

It’s time to put away Christmas. It’s also time to quit thinking of Jesus as a baby and remember His Mission: Saving souls!

1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool. So is continuing to think of Jesus as a baby.

Many people pay homage to Jesus for coming to earth to save us, but they never stop to think about Him growing up and becoming an itinerant preacher, a Rabbi. What was His message? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17). There are three interpretations that have been used: “is at hand,” “is here,” and “has come near.” The basic meaning is that what was far away has arrived and is imminent. Have you ever thought of God as far away? Sometimes it feels like He is. But, that is exactly what Christ came to remedy! Paul tells us in Romans 10:8-9 what the New Covenant is all about:

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Paul is quoting verses from Deuteronomy 30, which is a prophetic chapter about God circumcising our hearts (a great chapter that he references many times in his letters). He is synthesizing the old with the new using a teaching that John gives us in His Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word.” “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:1, 14, 17. Jesus is the Word. Therefore, salvation comes through believing that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. In Christ, we have found favor in God’s sight. God left the sins of mankind unpunished until Christ died on the cross, on which He took ALL sin to the grave with Him. Jesus, who has risen from the dead and ascended back to His throne at the right hand of God, calls us to believe in His sacrifice and to give our lives to Him. It’s a one-time thing and a daily thing: once for justification (just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned) and then each day for sanctification (the daily sacrificing of ourselves and living for Him, thus becoming more and more like Christ), as we look forward to our future glorification (receiving our new, imperishable bodies that never tempt us to sin and never wear out).

If you have heard these truths before, but don’t know where to find them in your Bible, I challenge you to read Romans. As you do, look up each reference that is at the bottom of the page or at the end of each paragraph. Learning where Paul got his information helps us understand his teachings. NOTE: The glorification part is from 1 Corinthians 15–another good chapter to study!

Have fun with Him digging into His Word. He thought enough of us to write down what He wants us to know. The least we can do is learn it!

Abba, may this coming year be one of great learning for us. I know that at our church, we will be emphasizing prayer, which goes hand-in-hand with Your Word. On a general level, prayer is us talking to You, and reading Your Word is You talking to us. I know it’s much more than that, but it’s a simple way to look at the two. May we be diligent in both, “pressing on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us.” (Philippians 3:12). Have Your way in us, O LORD, and DON’T LET GO! Amen.

Proverbs 25 12-25-20

Today, we celebrate Christ coming in the flesh so that He could come into our hearts in the Spirit. Is the soil of our hearts ready?

4 Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel; 5 remove wicked officials [anything that is tainted] from the king’s [our] presence, and his throne [our lives] will be established through righteousness.

As we discussed yesterday, Jesus’s first sermon and main theme was Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). “Repentance” means “to turn around and go a different direction.” I like to call it “a course correction.” Ship’s captains used to do it every night when they would look at the stars and check their course. They would make small course corrections. When the weather was bad and days would pass without a clear night, ships might get hundreds of miles off-course, or even shipwreck on islands.

Our lives work the same way. Jesus has always been aware that being in us is far better than us going to Jerusalem three times a year for a course correction. Yet, His Plan included reaching all of humanity and not just one group, so He arranged history–using the actions of sinful men, which is quite a feat–to be such that when the Good News of Jesus Christ came, it could go out to all the civilized world, first to Jerusalem, then to Judea, then Samaria, and then to the entire world. In fact, it’s still going out! According to the International Mission Board of the SBC, only 75% of languages have the Scriptures translated. There’s still work to do!

Can Christ come at any time? Absolutely! He is not bound to humans sharing the Gospel orally or in written form. Throughout the centuries, He has appeared to many through dreams and visions. IMetMessiah.com has many stories where Christ appeared to these Jews in dreams and visions! There are other websites that have testimonies of Muslims who have had Christ appear to them in dreams and visions. The Gospel is moving fast across our world!

How about in our lives? What is keeping us from enjoying the presence of Jesus? Have we filled our time with activities? Are our schedules so tight that we do not have time to sit at His feet? When reading about Mary and Martha, Martha’s activities were legitimate, but Christ transcended this world’s concept of necessity:

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

More than food, which is our greatest necessity on this earth, Jesus made sitting at His feet the greatest priority. May we do the same. He tells us in Matthew 6:25-34 to not worry about our lives, what we will eat or drink or wear (which includes where we live and our station in life). The world runs after more stuff, better stuff, social status, health, and better security. Jesus said that all of these are like the grass of the field, “which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire.” Instead, He makes our relationship with Him our highest priority, our greatest concern, and the way to complete fulfillment.

We are approaching 2021. Let’s use this week to prepare our hearts and lives for Jesus to do something radical to us, for us, AND WITH US. Satan will whisper to us, “Surely not.” When you hear these words, REBUKE THEM! DO NOT RECEIVE THEM! Take that thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Let’s finish this year well.

Abba, may I take into consideration my own teaching here. I want to finish this year well, so I pause and reflect on my communion with You this past year. It has been good–mainly because of COVID in that I have had extra time at home. Thank You for having me begin my day with You. It helps so much to be in tune with Your Spirit as I begin and walk through my day. I want to finish well in my life, LORD, serving You and making everything I am and have available to You to further Your kingdom. Use me; I am Yours. Amen.

Proverbs 24 12-24-20

What was it that was so important for Jesus to come to earth to tell us? He left GLORY for us! What was/is His message?

5 The wise prevail through [His] great power, and those who have knowledge [of Him] muster their strength [in Him]. 6 Surely you need guidance to wage war [against our flesh and Satan and his army], and victory is won through many advisors [or, the Great Advisor, the Holy Spirit; we also have many advisors in the Bible].

As soon as Jesus was baptized and had spent time in the desert, He began His ministry. His sermon was simple, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near [or, is at hand].” Matthew 4:17. I believe that Jesus was referring to Himself. He IS the kingdom of heaven! Wherever He is, there the kingdom is. I base this conclusion on Luke 17:20-22:

20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” 22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.

The Pharisees–and, therefore, the people–were looking for the Messiah to bring liberation to the nation of Israel, but in an outward form, much like Moses and Joshua did. In fact, “Jesus” is a form of the name, Joshua, which means, “Savior.” It is “Yeshua.” Jesus set them straight on the matter. He said that they would not be able to observe it physically; that being said, since Christ Himself is the kingdom of God, they WERE observing it physically, but they didn’t recognize it. John tells us in John 1:10-11 that “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. 11 He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.”

In verse 22, I believe that Jesus is making reference to His being with them. There must have been a sense of specialness around Jesus, an air of holiness. Indeed, once He was crucified, everything changed! Basically, Jesus made it possible for Him, via the Holy Spirit, to take up residence in our hearts and lives, thus bringing the kingdom of God with Him. Those who have Christ have the kingdom of God WITHIN them! But, since the Pharisees were looking for a different kind of Messiah, they missed Yeshua Ha-Mashiach (Jesus the Messiah). Would that they had repented and come to Jesus!

Tomorrow, we look at the first part of Jesus’ sermon: “Repent.” A strange topic for Christmas Day? I think not! The Shepherds came humbly, and so did the Magi. We do, too.

May we recognize and accept that the kingdom of God is within us. We look forward to the joining of the kingdom within us with the kingdom of Christ where He reigns (Revelation 11:15).

Abba, thank You for such a great plan to come and live in each of us. WOW! May we never get over the awesomeness and specialness of having You in us to walk with us and to counsel us as we navigate through the physical world. Keep us aware of Your presence; keep us aware that this world as we know it is NOT PERMANENT. You WILL come again and restore everything to its original state (Matthew 19:28). Until then, our hope is in You, Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 23 12-23-20

Give Up/Take Up. This is what Jesus did for us at Christmas and beyond. We must do the same for Him.

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

When Jesus left glory, He gave up His position beside the Father–temporarily, of course–and came and took up OUR cross so that we could have eternal life with Him. The apostle Paul stated this truth like this:

That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:19b-21

The writer of Hebrews stated this same truth:

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Lest we think that Jesus earned this position rather than returned to it, here are His words on the matter:

5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. John 17:5 and 24

When we think of “baby Jesus,” let’s remember
who He is and from where He came!

Because Jesus sits at the right hand of God and has been given all authority (Matthew 28:18), He equips us with everything we need (Hebrews 13:20-21), but not to act independently of Him (Romans 8:12-14). In fact, we have His “very great and precious promises so that through them we may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:4.

Here’s the process:

  1. We give up corruption and take up His divine nature.
  2. We give up doing things our way and take up doing things WITH HIM His way.
  3. We give up gain in this world to take up gain in His world (heaven).
  4. We give up serving Satan in this kingdom to take up serving Christ in His kingdom: Christ’s kingdom exists beyond this world, yet includes this world. Christ’s kingdom is somewhere to which we will go when we die, but at the same time is within us. Christ’s kingdom is growing in us like a mustard seed and yeast (Matthew 13:31-33); eventually, it will take over our lives as we leave this world to walk in His. His goal for us is that we give up the things of this world and take up anything and everything that grows His kingdom in us. Our perceptions change as we get glimpses of His kingdom. His truths become our truths; His ways become our ways, and we begin to look like Him. Two of my favorite verses are:

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:29

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

May we take this Christmas time to reflect on all that He has done for us and renew our pledge of fealty to Him afresh and anew.

Abba, I like those words: Conformed and Transformed. I want to be conformed and transformed with ever-increasing glory into the image of Your Son, Jesus. May we all do everything we know to make Your plan for us to become a reality sooner rather than later. Thank You for the promise that the good work that you began in us You will carry on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6) when He brings unity to all things in heaven and on earth under His reign (Ephesians 1:10). Until then, I am Your humble servant. Amen.

Proverbs 22 12-22-20

Today’s Proverbs is a mash-up of Robin’s post to her Bible Study group and my own Christmas trivia. Hope you enjoy!

9 The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor [Robin shared her “food” with me; I, in turn, am sharing it with you; we’re all beggars sharing His bread with each other].

NOTE: I included the links for convenience. I hope you will click on them and read them–or, better yet, read them from your own Bible!

Robin’s:

  • If you haven’t read “The Christmas Story” in chronological order, I highly recommend it.
  • Here’s how: Luke 1:5-80Matt 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-39Matt 2:1-23.   
  • Fun notes: Zachariah’s name means “God has remembered” and Elizabeth means “His oath”.
  • Elizabeth confirms to Mary she is indeed pregnant when not enough time has passed for Mary to have evidence of this.
  • Gabriel tells Mary what is about to happen. Joseph is told why.
  • The Greek word for host really means “armies”.  The shepherds saw a literal army of angels wielding their mighty weapons of praise on this most important of nights! 
  • Remember praise is our mighty weapon too as we fight the war over our thoughts during these unprecedented times. Replace anxiety, despair, worry and fear with praise and and thanksgiving. Spend time WITH the One who loves you more than you can comprehend and receive that “peace that passes understanding” (Phil 4:4-8). He came as Emmanuel meaning “God with us” so remain in Him that your joy may be complete (John 15:5-11). Choose to rejoice WITH Him in this day He has made (Ps 118:24)! Merry Christmas y’all!

Kelly’s:

  • Luke’s account of the Christmas story began with the last verses of the Old Testament (Malachi 4:5-6 and Luke 1:17).
  • Luke had access to Mary, which is why his account is so detailed.
  • There are six accounts of barrenness to whom important children are born to that couple. Can you guess who they are? Genesis 15:2-5, 25:21, 29:31, Judges 13:2, 1 Samuel 1:5, Luke 1:7.
  • An angel of the Lord appeared a total of five times in the Christmas Event (through the flight to Egypt): once by name (Gabriel) to Zechariah, once by name (Gabriel) to Mary, and four times to Joseph (in dreams).

Of course, nothing in God’s Word is trivial. Jesus said, “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 5:18. The more we know of the Word of God, the more we become excited about His promises, the more easily we can discern His voice, and the more handles we have for living this life for Him. Let’s get into His Word this week and let it continue into next year.

Abba, thank You for such a godly wife who KNOWS HER BIBLE! We bounce stuff off each other all the time. In fact, You know that many aspects of my Proverbs have been “Robin approved” before they go out. She just has a knack for knowing just how to say things–or how NOT to say things. May we all read again the account of Your Advent with excitement and anticipation; may You give us fresh excitement about sharing the wonderful news of Your Coming and why You came. Thank You for coming to us for us. I am eternally grateful. Amen.

2Us4Us

Proverbs 21 12-21-20

It used to be that we could gauge a person’s spiritual life by their church attendance (or so we thought). COVID 19 changed that perspective–or, rather, revealed that it was an erroneous one.

3 To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22

Actually, to be freed from the bonds of religion and duty reveals what is really in our hearts. Those who were going to church as a duty found that they didn’t miss it at all; those who were going out of habit found that they have made new habits that do not include church attendance; those who were going out of social or familial expectations have found that they have a great excuse to do what THEY want rather than what everyone expects of them. And then, those who went to church to worship the LORD out of a glad heart and to spend time with other Christians found that they had to find other ways to worship, and to be content with smaller groups of Christians–sometimes, much smaller groups.

What Jesus frees us to do is what is in our hearts. He desires us to come to Him on our own seeking His presence and participation in our lives. If we can do without Him during COVID, then we never really had Him because He is supposed to be inside us, which means that we can worship Him all the time. Also, He said in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” We don’t need more than one other person to constitute a church meeting! Sure, it’s more fun the more people we have, but it’s not necessary. It’s all about intention: Are we intentional about our worship? about our study time? about our disciplines? and about connecting to God in prayer? It has really shown up now that we have COVID as our excuse!

What it boils down to is sole dependence–or, soul dependence–on Jesus and His Spirit. Each of us is responsible for our own relationship with Jesus Christ. We can’t depend upon our parents, our spouses, or our church. Why? Because there may come a time when we don’t have anyone else! You may be thinking, “Surely not. I can’t think of any situation where I would be totally alone.” Consider this scenario:

Your blood pressure goes out of sight for some reason and stays high for several weeks, thus rendering you limited in your abilities because of brain damage due to mini-strokes. Over the course of time, you have a big stroke that puts you in the hospital and eventually in a nursing home. While you’re there, you get COVID 19 and are isolated. Your family can’t come see you; you can’t work a phone because of your limited function; the only people to come and see you are the people who work at the nursing home. Your relationship with the Lord is completely down to just you and Him.

The scenario I just described is what has happened to my cousin. He is currently in a semi-conscious state that renders him incapable of taking care of himself. He never married, so he depends upon his sister to make sure he is getting the care he needs. Pray for my cousin that Jesus will supply his every need according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).

What is God doing in Larry’s life? I don’t know. Is He communicating with him on a spiritual level of which we are unaware? Does Larry leave his body and wander around heaven? Is he simply asleep until death comes and he is released from his body? I don’t know, but I pray for him that God would work a mighty work in him, and when He is done, He will take Larry home to be with Him. I can hardly wait to meet Larry in heaven in our glorified bodies!

Let’s make sure that we are proactive concerning our relationship with Jesus Christ. Read that Bible. Make out prayer cards and lift up people to the Lord. Get together with at least one other person for fellowship, worship and prayer. It’s important.

Abba, COVID 19 can be a positive force in our lives if we allow You to guide our choices in these circumstances. May we be intentional about our relationship with You by reading, studying, praying, and worshipping personally and with at least one other person. Thank You for creating THE WAY for us to worship You in spirit and in truth. Amen.

Proverbs 20 12-20-20

“Peace on earth” is part of Christmas. The peace Jesus brought was peace that is found in Him and in His family, the church. It’s an individual peace.

24 A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way [understand why God leads us as He does]?

Faith is believing enough in what God said to act on it. We don’t consider an alternate route or plan; we trust the LORD to be right and to be working His plan. It’s not blind faith, either. Blind faith is believing something just because we want it to be true even if the evidence points another direction (ex. evolution-Irreducible Complexity). Our faith is based upon the Word of God. We trusted it for salvation–why don’t we trust it for daily living? Paul taught us how in Colossians 3. We pick up at verse 15.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. 

Trusting in Christ is where we get our peace. Is He King of kings and Lord of lords? Is He King of the universe? Does He have our best interest at heart? Yes! He is both great and good. He gives us His peace (John 14:27). It’s a peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7). We are called to peace WITH HIM. We are members of His very own body (Ephesians 2:21)! We CAN experience His peace whenever we turn to Him.

And be thankful. 

Grateful should be the mantra of every Christian. Paul states why earlier in His letter to the Colossians, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (1:13-14). And, he’ll tell us in our next verse to sing with gratitude in our hearts.

16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit [spiritual songs], singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 

What we must remember is that the Scriptures were public. They were read publicly because there weren’t enough copies for everyone. In fact, no one had a complete set of books until at least 350 AD. Consequently, in order for the people of Colossae to “let the message of Christ dwell among them richly,” they had to meet together and read whatever portion of the Old Testament they had publicly. This letter was designed to be read publicly to the church body; it was probably intended to be passed along to another church, just like the letter to the Ephesians. They would memorize portions of it and teach each other as well as correct each other. The key is “with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,” which I take to mean that they put portions of Scripture to music and made creeds of Jesus’ teachings and events (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-8) in order to memorize truth. We do the same thing. And how are we to sing to God? With gratitude in our hearts. Now, THAT’S WORSHIP!

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

This verse gives us the attitude by which we live our daily lives:

  1. Whatever we do- Everything we do is important. There is nothing too small or too insignificant to fall under the radar of our Lord.
  2. Whether in word or deed- What we say and what we do, it’s all important to the Lord Jesus. He wants us to represent Him ALL the time.
  3. Do it in the name of the Lord Jesus- We are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). We could spend a lot of time talking about what it means, “in Jesus’ name.” Suffice it to say that it is in His name that we are protected from the evil one (see John 17:11 and 15) and spread the fragrance of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). We live and breathe and have our being in the power of His name.
  4. Giving thanks to God the Father through Him- Here we are back to gratitude. We owe Him SO MUCH! We bless the Father through the Son by way of the Spirit (Romans 8:26).

If we could read chapter 3 of Colossians every day and apply it to our lives, we would:

  • Set our hearts on things above,
  • Put to death our earthly nature,
  • Rid ourselves of sinful thoughts and speech,
  • Take off our old self with its practices,
  • Put on the new self, which is being renewed (renovated) in the continual knowledge of Him,
  • Understand that all of Christ’s children are equal in Him,
  • Clothe ourselves with the fruit of the Spirit,
  • Bear with each other and forgive each other,
  • Put on love as our overall virtue,
  • Let Christ’s peace rule in our hearts,
  • Be thankful and grateful,
  • Let the word of Christ dwell in us richly,
  • Teach and admonish each other in His Wisdom,
  • Sing the Scriptures together as we memorize passages and truths, with gratitude in our hearts,
  • And do everything, whether in word or deed, in the powerful name of the Lord Jesus,
  • All the while giving thanks to God through Jesus.

I think we’re gonna need a little help here. Holy Spirit, HELP! Thank God, He gives it!

Summary: We can do all things through Christ who gives us both the desire and the power to do His will through His Spirit within us. It’s a daily thing.

Let’s end with this benediction:

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58.

Abba, I grow weary sometimes, but I realize that it’s my flesh talking. Of course I grow weary! I live in an old-covenant body that is destined to die. Thank You that You renew me on the inside daily, even constantly. I want to be transformed by the renewing of my mind and attitude. I realize that the best way to do this is to pray and then read Your Word. You speak to my heart even as I read! Thank You for the way You open up our minds as we read and meditate on what You considered so important to write down and preserve for us. May we never take Your Scriptures for granted. We worship You today in Spirit and in Your truth. Amen.