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.

Proverbs 19 12-19-20

We revert so easily! One day without reading His Word: we notice. 2 days: our family notices. 3 days: the world notices! In fact, we begin to act just like the world again.

27 Stop listening to instruction, my child, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

As we continue in Colossians 3, we come to the part where we must engage with the LORD. Interaction with the Spirit is how we navigate this next passage.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 

The first thing we must notice here is that we are considered holy by God. Already! Our position in Him makes us thus. Also, there is a practical holiness, an interactive conversation that takes place every day that works our holiness from the inside out so that others can see it. “So then, my dear ones…continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] [from the inside out] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might discredit the name of Christ]. 13 For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing (desire) and the ability (power) to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasurePhilippians 2:12 AMP. You will notice that four of the five attributes are fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). We can easily add “compassion” to that list.

13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 

The next thing that we learn is that not everyone has a handle on these attributes–including ourselves! So, we must bear with patience, showering compassion on them while being kind and tenderhearted toward them in all humility and gentleness. We must remember that we have been forgiven much, so we CAN forgive the little that others do to us (in comparison to Christ’s forgiveness). We must remember Jesus’ parable of the Unmerciful (Unforgiving) Servant who was forgiven a great debt, but would not forgive his fellow servant a small debt. The Master was NOT happy with him (Matthew 18:21-35).

14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

His love is what saved us; it drives us, and it sustains us. It binds us together with other Christians in a way that we cannot understand, but we CAN enjoy. It is the reason that we get together. He promises that He will be with us in a unique and special way when we do, “For where two or three [or more] gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20. There is a special relationship and fellowship that goes on between two or three…but we will save that conversation for another time. Suffice it to know that His love binds all of the attributes (the fruit of the Spirit) together in perfect unity, which takes us a LONG way toward practical godliness (remember that we are already godly in our position in Christ).

Conclusion: To clothe ourselves with the fruit of the Spirit means that we have a connection to the Spirit and a fellowship with the Spirit that calls us into fellowship with other Christians. This fellowship is guided by Him in a unique way that showcases the love of God to the world. “They will know we are Christians by our love.” Jesus said, “In this way the world will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35. Our job is to be intentional about putting on those attributes and to be like Christ even as we fellowship with Him.

Tomorrow, we will discuss verses 15-17, which deal with peace, thankfulness, and worship.

Abba, I willingly and intentionally put on Your attributes of godliness: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, compassion, righteousness and truth (Ephesians 5:9). May I study Your word all the more diligently to learn how to apply these attributes and to become more and more like You (practically speaking). Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus, speak that my soul may hear. I look forward to our running conversation today. Amen.

Proverbs 18 12-18-20

The Holy Spirit has much to teach us. The question is, are we ready and willing to learn it?

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

It is by the grace of God that we learn. His Spirit teaches us according to what we NEED (this is grace) rather than what we DESERVE (this is justice). As we look at Colossians, let’s view it through the lens of Titus 2:11-12,

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It [God’s grace via the Spirit] teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and [to say “Yes” to the Spirit, and] to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 

What does grace want to teach us? NOW we are ready to look at Colossians 2:5-17. Obviously, in order to do justice to the passage, we will have to cover it over several days. For today, let’s study verses 5-11.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 

We have been crucified with Christ and we no longer live, but Christ lives in and through us (Galatians 2:20). In fact, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). We no longer live with these cravings as our goal, our end game, our ultimate experience. Christ has usurped these cravings. HE is the One we crave! Once we have tasted His love, joy and peace, we never want to go back to such pale and transient cravings, which never really satisfy (they just leave us craving more). Besides, we know what happens to those who never clothe themselves with the righteousness of Christ: When they stand before the heavenly Father, they will be ashamed and cast out. Indeed, they will flee from His presence because of their unrighteous state.

You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 

The lusts of the eyes and flesh listed in verses 5-6 are expensive, but not nearly as damaging as the pride of life (2 John 2:16). Our pride causes us to be angry with our fellow human, to rage against others, to carry malice (wishing ill on another person) in our hearts, to say false things against another to spite him, and to allow our mouths to spew poison on those around us through filthy words and dangerous topics. Ridding ourselves of these maladies requires some major help from the Holy Spirit. The FIRST thing we need is the initial desire. Then, we need the power to actually overcome them. Thank the Lord that He gives us the desire and the power to do His will Philippians 2:13. Lean on Him. All the time. About everything.

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed [renovated] in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 

Lying is manipulation. We are either seeking to get our way or…we’re seeking to get our way! We lie to get what we want, either to avoid retribution or to gain what we desire that may not be for us. It is the natural language of our “old man.” Our father, the devil (in John 8:43-44, Jesus says that before God adopts us, Satan is our father. There is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” And we were just like him, “full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God” Ephesians 2:2. We put off this behavior because we have a new Daddy. We are continuously being renewed in the image of God, our Creator. How? The Holy Spirit enlightens our hearts and opens our minds to the knowledge of Him. From where? The Scriptures. Read them. Learn them. Internalize them.

11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Galatians 3:28 includes “male or female, For we are all one in Christ Jesus.” Verse 29 says, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the [Abrahamic] promise (see Genesis 12:3 and 15:5). If you’re wondering how we got included in this promise, consider these passages:

Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, circumcise your hearts, you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem… Jeremiah 4:4

28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God. Romans 2:28-29

15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. Galatians 6:15

As we can see, Christ Jesus internalized our circumcision, just as Jeremiah preached. Because our circumcision is of our hearts, now all people who trust in Christ are circumcised of heart and are one in Christ. He is our ALL IN ALL.

To summarize, we are all one in Christ Jesus. We either have the Holy Spirit in us or folks have the potential of having His Spirit in them. Being a child of Abraham is no longer dependent upon being Jewish or being circumcised physically. The Spirit does it inwardly to all who come to Christ. Therefore, we are to treat each other and all potential brothers and sisters as blessed children of God, sacred, in that we all are temples of the Holy Spirit. WE HAVE GOD LIVING IN US!

Tomorrow, we look at verses 12-14, which tell us how we are to be clothed.

Abba, it changes everything to consider everyone a walking temple of Yours where You reside. Even wicked people who follow Satan–either knowingly or unknowingly–are potential temples of Yours. May I allow this train of thought to guide my actions and my speech today. Keep enlightening my heart and opening my mind to Your truth, LORD. I’m hungry for it. Amen.

Proverbs 17 12-17-20

How is it that we can sense His presence in our lives and yet still act like fools?

9 Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter [continues in foolish behavior] separates [even] close friends.

We need to remember that our POSITION in Christ is permanently set while our RELATION to Christ is dynamic and changes constantly (hopefully, for the better; we have this promise: Philippians 1:6). Our POSITION in Christ is based upon what He did for us on the cross and through the resurrection. It’s ALL HIM POSITIONALLY. It is our RELATION to Christ that we will discuss.

Our POSITION in Christ gives us the foundation for our relationship with Christ. It’s our everyday living, our PRACTICAL HOLINESS, that He wants to teach us. It is the part of us that relates to the Holy Spirit in conversation all day, every day, that He works in us. It is this part that needs to grow and mature–it’s the part that needs help! That help comes through reading, studying, pondering and memorizing His Word, listening to sermons, taking classes, and discussing God, Jesus, the Bible and daily life with others in relation to what we have learned and what we need to know.

Our relationship with God, through Christ, by way of the Holy Spirit, is DYNAMIC; it’s always growing, moving, maturing and developing. It will continue to do so until the day we die–and then beyond! It just takes a major step forward when we step across that threshold of death! Right now, let’s consider Paul’s words to the Colossians in 3:1-4,

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 God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

  1. Raised with Christ- We have been raised from the dead! We are no longer who we were before meeting Christ Jesus. We are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17)!
  2. Seated at the right hand of God- We are seated there, as well (Ephesians 2:6). Let’s check in up there (set our minds and hearts on Him) rather than have our heads stuck in this world.
  3. Your life is now hidden- We are dead to our old way of life and our old way of thinking. We are hidden with Christ in God. What does that even mean?! It means that Satan no longer has a strangle-hold on us!
  4. Christ…is your life- Whether we meet Him in the clouds or come back with Him in those clouds doesn’t matter. We are with Him from now through eternity! He has become the sole/soul focus of our attention (pun intended).

So, let’s consider every “failure” an opportunity to learn holiness. It’s the redemptive part of the process. Jesus is rooting for us; He wants us to succeed and even knows how many times we will fail until we finally succeed–and He is excited for us to succeed! How can we disappoint a God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 15:57)? Verse 58 says, “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.”

Tomorrow: How grace teaches us to be like Him.

Abba, I thank You that You are the ONE who called me. I didn’t generate my passion for You and for Your Word on my own; it is the gift that the Holy Spirit grew in me throughout my life. I pray that You will generate a passion for You and Your Word in each of my readers. May they sense Your call upon their lives right now and answer that call saying,

Yes, Lord, yes, to Your will and to Your way.
Yes, Lord, yes, I will trust You and obey.
When Your Spirit speaks to me,
With my whole heart, I’ll agree
and will answer saying, “Yes, Lord, yes.”

Amen and amen.

Proverbs 16 12-16-20

Being aware of the presence of God can be wonderful–if we are aware of His love for us at the same time.

24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

These are the words that the LORD wants to speak to us. His eyes range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9). Whose hearts are fully committed to Him? Those who are contrite (recognizing our need spiritually, filled with a sense of guilt and the desire for atonement and right standing with God; penitent) and lowly in spirit. Here is what the LORD says in Isaiah 57:15 about these people:

15 For this is what the high and exalted One says—
    he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
    but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.

James, Jesus’ brother, said, “God opposes [takes a fighting stance against] the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6 Peter quoted it, as well, in 1 Peter 5:5, and it is based upon Proverbs 3:34. Jesus even used a version of it in Matthew 23:12. When we recognize our need for Him in our lives, we find that He draws near to us. What kind of encouragement did He offer to those who were humbled before Him?

  • “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Matthew 9:2, 6
  • “Your sins are forgiven.” “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:48, 50
  • “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” “I, the one speaking to you–I am He.” John 4:23, 26
  • “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “Then neither do I condemn you…go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:10-11

When we allow Him to lead our lives, we gain much more than a pat on the head for our obedience–we gain the pleasure of His company! When we are in His presence, His love, joy, peace, hope and grace pour out of Him and into us. How do I know this? Because I experience it–when I am contrite and humble in heart! I also have it on His authority. In Luke 4:18-21, Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1-3, which was His Messiah-Mission:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

…”Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus’ mission was “to bestow on us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:3).” All He has ever wanted to do is pour His love on us! A favorite verse of mine is 1 John 3:1, which says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” Isn’t that incredible? Amazing? More than wonderful? Let’s get in on this good stuff by letting go of our pride and our intellect, and abandon ourselves to Him. Why? Because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

Tomorrow, we will discuss why we can sense His presence and yet still act like fools!

Abba, I need You more than ever! I need to feel Your presence with me and Your love upon me. When I am not feeling well, it is so nice to be able to rest in Your unfailing love; when I am in anguish or stress, I hide myself in Your peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). When I get cocky or indignant, I run to You and place myself under Your authority. Then, and only then, am I able to release my feelings of self-importance and to enjoy Your grace and joy. Continue to teach me, LORD, through experience. I love You. Amen.

Proverbs 15 12-15-20

Our wills tend to lean in a selfish and sinful direction. His Spirit desires to teach us His way. Separating our minds from our tongues is a great place to start.

3 “The [gentle] soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse [spiteful, flippant, arrogant, sarcastic, harsh, cruel, unloving, disrespectful, etc] tongue crushes the spirit.

I once thought that “the offensive way” in me was against Christ and what He would find in my heart. Then, it dawned on me that “the offensive way” may very well be toward others. This verse comes to mind:

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for [to] one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for [to] me.’ Matthew 25:40.

What was Jesus talking about? He said, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” These are actions taken for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and, might I add, for our POTENTIAL brothers and sisters in Christ, which covers just about everybody. How we treat others shows how much like Christ we are–or are not.

There is another aspect to “the offensive way” that we need to consider, and it is what we say. Consider what Jesus had to say about what we say,

“I tell you that men will have to answer at the day of judgment* for every careless word they utter—for it is your words that will acquit you, and your words that will condemn you.” J.B. Phillips

We know from Proverbs 12:18 that “The words of the reckless pierce [reckless words] like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Have we considered that when we pierce another’s soul, we pierce our own, as well? Jesus went on to say in Mark 7:20-23 that our mouths reveal what is in our hearts:

“Whatever comes out of a man, that is what makes a man ‘common’ or unclean. For it is from inside, from men’s hearts and minds, that evil thoughts arise—lust, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, arrogance and folly! All these evil things come from inside a man and make him unclean!”

James said, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” James 3:6

In order to control our mouths, we must first allow Christ to transform our minds. It begins with a desire to be like Christ and continues by learning how to hear and respond to the Spirit’s promptings. Where do we learn this kind of information? FROM GOD’S WORD. What kinds of things do we learn in His Word?

  1. God is love. 1 John 4:8 and 16
  2. God loved everyone in the world so much that He gave us His life for us through Jesus Christ. John 3:16
  3. It is NOT God’s desire that any should perish, but that they would come to Him to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
  4. God has wonderful, even incomprehensible things in store for us! 1 Corinthians 2:9
  5. We are overcomers because we are (re)born of God. 1 John 5:4-5

We could go on and on. Are these verses marked in your Bible? DO IT! Highlight them; underline them; write notes about them; string them together with other Scriptures; journal about them; pray them to God in thanksgiving and praise; share them with others. The more we know, the more creative we can become in sharing the Good News about Christ.

Abba, I thank You and praise You for loving me and for calling me to be one of Your children. Your Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am Your child (Romans 8:16). O, to be an overcomer of sin in my life! Thank You that in You and through You I already have the victory (1 Corinthians 15:57)! Move us and teach us, LORD, and fill us with Your power, Your love, Your joy, Your peace, and Your energy even as You direct our lives. Amen.

*Day of Judgment– We are creating the gift that we will lay at Jesus’ feet on the Day of Judgment. That gift will be the gold, silver, and precious gems of our obedience while in this life (see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). I believe that the Great Day of Judgment will be a day of sentencing for the lost and a day of ceremony for the saved. Let’s make sure that we have the best gift we can offer to our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 14 12-14-20

Do you believe in angels? That they stand in the presence of God? That they deliver His message to people? Then, you can believe the entire Bible!

35 A king delights in a wise servant [one who believes what His Master has told him], but a shameful servant [one who acts on his own knowledge] arouses his fury .

The best illustration for this verse is Jesus’ parable of the three servants who were given a certain amount of money to invest (Matthew 25:14-30). Two servants took Him at His word and did what He told them to do. The third servant did according to what he thought was best, “‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’” Jesus called him a wicked servant (“wicked” means that we act on our own rather than with the Spirit).

Now, let’s look at the Christmas narrative and see two different faiths:

  1. The angel, Gabriel, appeared to Zechariah and proclaimed God’s message to him (Luke 1:11-17). Zechariah didn’t believe him based upon what he thinks according to his experience. Gabriel’s reproof was strong, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.” Gabriel’s prediction certainly came true and ended just as he said it would (Luke 1:63-64).
  2. Gabriel also appeared to Mary, who questioned the “how,” but not the power behind the “how” (Luke 1:34). Gabriel explained the “how” and then said, For nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).

Here’s where it gets interesting (as if it already wasn’t!). My version of the NIV and my computer version of the NLV both say, For no word from God will ever fail.The Amplified Version says, For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment. So, not only is nothing impossible with God, whatever He says is going to happen WILL HAPPEN! The same goes for the entire Bible. “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21.

Therefore, beginning in Genesis 1:1, we can believe and trust in God’s Word to be true and accurate. In fact, I have collected some 58 verses/passages throughout the Bible that reveal God’s creative power and refer to His creation of all things. If we don’t believe how God said He did it, then we can’t trust any of the other passages, either.

Which faith will you have? The faith of Zechariah, who believed only what his experiences in life taught him? Or the faith of Mary, who took God at His word? The fun part of Mary’s faith is that she walked with the Spirit and watched God’s plan unfold. We can do the same if we believe first and then ask God to reveal truth to us. It is happening all the time in the medical field, in archeology, in astronomy, in biology–in every area of science! It is even happening in today’s current events. Let’s believe God and allow Him to reveal to us how He is working in our world!

Abba, I pray that You will increase our faith, that You will enlighten the eyes of our hearts, and give us spiritual wisdom and constant revelation. May You do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to Your power that is at work within us. May You receive all glory in Your church and in Christ Jesus through this generation and the next, and forever and ever! Amen. (based upon Ephesians 1:18, 3:16-21).

Proverbs 13 12-13-20

“Lead me in Your way everlasting” is an invitation to God to direct our paths. If He is LORD of our lives, then we invite Him every day.

4 A sluggard’s appetite [for things either not needed or for things he is unwilling to work for] is never filled, but the desires of he diligent [in relation to our LORD] are fully satisfied.

The LORD is not pushy. He will not come into a life where He is not wanted. The whole reason for giving us CHOICE is for us to choose Him. Let’s look at Psalm 139:23-24 again,

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
try me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there be any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

As His children, we have placed ourselves entirely in His command. We come to Him daily, even continuously, seeking direction and correction. We realize that we are made to work WITH Him. Jesus is our Source of life, energy, connection, and all that goes with being connected to God via the Spirit. Without Him, we are spiritually dead, but with Him, we are completely alive! We sense His Presence and Participation, we enjoy the love, joy and peace that flow from His throne into our lives. “His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:16. There is much reason to celebrate!

One of the things that we automatically do in His presence is we abandon who we were and are without Him for who He wants us to become with Him. Hence, the phrase, “lead me in the way everlasting.” Solomon said it like this in Proverbs 3:5-6,

Trust the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding,
in all your ways acknowledge Him
and He will direct your paths.

What better way to start our day than getting with the LORD Jesus, enjoying His company, and making Him Lord of our lives? It’s amazing what we can put up with, do without, and even endure when we are living life with Jesus!

LORD, as we worship You today, may we celebrate You reigning in our hearts. When we do, the offensive things in our lives are covered with grace and they begin to dissolve and reform into tools for Your kingdom work. Arrogance is transformed into concern for others; lying is transformed into sharing the Good News of Jesus; dark thoughts are transformed into prayers of adoration and praise. May You transform our lives today as we worship You–all day! Amen.

Proverbs 12-12-20

“Know my heart” is the same as “I give you my heart.” It’s an acknowledgement that Christ knows our innermost thoughts.

22 The LORD [Adonai] detests lying lips [those who deceive themselves], but He delights in people who are trustworthy [those who trust in Him].

Let’s be honest with ourselves and with our Lord. We know what is in our hearts. Why would a holy God want to delve the depths of MY heart? It’s pretty ugly in there–okay, it’s a LOT ugly in there. He even tells me how ugly it is: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9. Yet, King David tells the LORD,

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

David gives God permission to lay open his heart. It’s a whole lot like open-heart surgery. We know from Hebrews 4:12-13 that, “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. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” What is it that David wants God to do with his heart?

“See if there is any offensive way in me.” When I consider what “offensive” is in my heart, I see:

  1. Self-centeredness- I see things from my perspective, and my perspective is the most important one to me. I come first in all things and everyone else takes a backseat to me. I like being right, but I like even more having things my way–even if it isn’t the best way.
  2. Selfishness- Sometimes I want just to want. I don’t need something, but because I want it, I must have it. This attitude is evident in Amnon and what he did to Tamar, his sister (read about it in 2 Samuel 13). It’s also in every heart. Jesus tells us as much in Matthew 5:28.
  3. Pride- Sometimes I like the way I am because it makes me feel powerful. I am my own person–never mind that I am a BAD person, a DEAD person. On my own, I am a wayward sheep (Isaiah 53:6). THANK YOU, JESUS, FOR SAVING ME FROM MYSELF!

The Spirit within me has given me a new nature. I have a higher desire that goes above my base desires. I want what Jesus wants. The problem is that it’s a process, and this process takes time. It is built one teaching upon another, the base being the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23 and Ephesians 5:9). Some of it we grasp very quickly while some of it must be rooted out of our selfish nature. That’s the “offensive” part.

Today, let’s allow Him to show us what can be offensive in our lives. Realizing that He cannot be offended by His children does not change the fact that we can be offensive to others. We can demonstrate His love in us by loving His Body, His Bride, His Church, His–and our–Family. It gives Him great joy when we let go of an offensive part of our hearts and allow Him to transform us into more of His image.

Abba, search my heart today. Show me what’s there and then urge me to give it to You. YOU are the only One who can transform my life into a radiant and beautiful one that glorifies You. Make me into a faithful servant, O LORD. I am Yours; do with me as You will. In the words of Mary, “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Amen.

Proverbs 11 12-11-20

Is your faith like Mary’s or Zechariah’s? Do you see with faith or do you put your faith in what you see?

2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

When we say, “I don’t see why or how…” we are making our opinion the final say in the matter. We are acting as judge concerning the situation. Taking this stance is the very basis of pride. We have exalted ourselves above the LORD’s opinion and plan. What we forget is how easily and quickly circumstances can change. One bad decision, one “accident” or sickness, one “better offer,” one “coincidence,” one prayer and the whole scenario flips over. We see it in movies all the time. We see it in life if we take the time to notice and then give credit where credit is due.

Zechariah was seeing with his physical eyes. He saw his wife advanced in age; he saw her barren for decades. What he could not see was God’s wondrous power and promise (Luke 1:18). Even then, God did, indeed, give him a sign–not the one he would have chosen, but a sign nonetheless (Luke 1:19-20). Gabriel made a believer out of Zechariah! His obedience in Luke 1:63 freed his tongue and he prophesied some major stuff in his song (Luke 1:67-79)!

Mary questioned Gabriel, but only in asking how because of the impossible nature of what he was declaring. She did not question the power of God, but was only inquiring of what to expect (Luke 1:34-35). Gabriel told her; he even told her about her “aunt” Elizabeth, thus giving her someone with which to share these amazing events. Then, he said, “For no word from God will ever fail.” (Luke 1:37). Now, THAT’S a promise! Mary’s response was as ours should be, “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”

When we read His Word, do we read to hear? Are we listening for instructions, explanations, and knowledge? When we pray, do we pray to connect with our Lord Jesus? When we sense His presence, all of our questions become secondary to Him. He becomes our focus rather than our circumstances. We have the same promise that Gabriel gave to Mary, “For no word from God will ever fail.” (Luke 1:37). Let’s live in that promise today as we stay connected to Jesus.

Abba, what happens is not nearly as important as my staying connected to You. I know that when I am connected and listening and obeying, that You work all things together for what is best for me, for those around me, and for Your Plan. I understand that You don’t promise to make me comfortable or even safe physically; in fact, You told your disciples just the opposite. What I am placing my faith and hope in is Your ultimate Plan to bring these two kingdoms together, the one inside me and the one where You are. “May Your kingdom come, may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Amen.

Proverbs 10 12-10-20

The point of Christmas is the Coming of God to earth in human form, the form of a baby. What was the point of His Coming?

23 A fool finds pleasure in wicked [his own] schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.

Hallmark Movies hit all around the true message of Christmas–even portraying the manger scene with shepherds and wisemen–but leave out the real reason for gift-giving. The reason gifts are given at Christmas is to honor the Gift given to us that Christmas day, which was “a Savior who is Christ [Messiah] the Lord.” Jesus’ Mission–His subsequent life, ministry, death, burial, resurrection and ascension–is the point of His coming. The Gift He brings to us is the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

For us non-Jews, it is difficult to understand the importance of the sacrifice made by Christ the WAY Christ made it. Suffice it to say that it was important for Christ to die a certain way, at a certain time, and in a certain sequence. Let’s get a general view from Peter in his first sermon:

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” Acts 2:22-24

What we see here is the PLAN of God for Christ to die for the sins of the world. What ELSE we see here is Jesus defeating death for us. That’s HUGE! What else did Peter say?

32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.

There were many witnesses to the resurrected Christ. They saw Him ascend to heaven where He is seated at the right hand of God, and He has sent the promised Holy Spirit (see Ezekiel 36:26-27, and Joel 2:28-29). What does this testimony mean to both Jews and non-Jews? Peter tells us:

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

Jesus fills the offices of both Priest and King. He is our Priest who presented Himself as the Sacrifice for us, and He is our King because we have received Him as such. We have the kingdom of God in our hearts through His Holy Spirit, of which Jesus is Supreme Ruler.

Let’s spread the Good News of His wonderful Gift this Christmas when we give gifts to others. Consider printing, reading, or saying,

“I present you with this gift to remind us of the amazing gift
that God gave us through Jesus Christ, the gift of eternal life in Him.”

Peter finishes his sermon with a call to repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38-39). May we have opportunities to give the same call to our loved ones and other people in our lives.

Abba, may we make Christmas about You and the Gift You gave us in Jesus. May Your Spirit convict of sin, which brings repentance, and inspire many to give their lives to You. Amen.

Proverbs 9 12-9-20

Those who trust in Christ have accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. His ways are now their ways. His kingdom is their kingdom.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

We tend to think of salvation as a one-time event, a transaction. It is true that His salvation has a beginning in our hearts and lives, but it is just that: A Beginning. He births in us His kingdom, which will grow until it fills every corner of our lives. Jesus gives two distinct examples of the growth of the kingdom within us:

18 Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” 20 Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Luke 13:18-21

Another illustration is to say that we are inducted into Christ’s kingdom and, therefore, His army and service. From that point on, we are enlisted soldiers. We serve at His pleasure and disposal. Our lives are no longer our own; we belong to Him.

Join with me in suffering [setting aside our own desires, pleasures, and comforts], like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 2 Timothy 2:3-4

Is this kind of relationship what you had in mind? It’s usually not the one presented for salvation. It makes me wonder if we are really interested in having the kingdom of God grow in our lives and become attractive to those who do not know the LORD. What kind of LOVE are we displaying? Jesus said, 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). There’s an old song entitled, “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love.” To me, it hits the nail right on the head.

Let’s ask the LORD Jesus to refocus our attention to what HE thinks is important. Let’s begin to allow Christ’s love to be the most important thing in our lives. Let’s allow Him to reorient our lives so that we begin to love the Bride of Christ as He does; in doing so, He will draw all people to Himself as we lift up Christ in our lives. He said as much: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32

Abba, may I learn to set aside the things of this world that I like so much and focus on what You consider important. May I use the gifts You have given me to exalt You. I know that when I do, You bring people to a point of decision on what to do with You. May I always present You fully and honestly: You are full of grace, but also truth, salvation and judgment. May my Christian brothers and sisters realize the import of these words, as well. Amen.

They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love by Jars of Clay

Proverbs 8 12-8-20

Things I have learned having COVID19: God uses everything that occurs in our lives to draw us to Himself in relationship.

5 You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.

To pray for God to keep us from getting COVID is to ask Him to not use the very thing that He may be planning to use to draw us into a closer and deeper walk with Him. At the same time, He wants to hear our hearts–but then, for us to trust Him for whatever comes next.

We forget that He wants us with Him in glory. That is HIS goal for us (John 17:24). In the meantime, as long as He has plans for us to further His kingdom in this world and to learn to walk with Him in Spirit and in truth, we are bulletproof–until He says otherwise, and as long as we do things His way. Notice I did NOT say that we wouldn’t suffer, only that we will not die until He is ready to receive us. Even our deaths bring Him glory.

  1. We have no fear of death because He has defeated death! 1 Corinthians 15:54-58.
  2. We have no fear of pain:
    1. Our bodies are designed to “shut down” when pain reaches a certain level. We go into shock; we can still function at a certain level, but the pain is muted.
    2. I believe that there is a thinning of the veil between heaven and earth in times of extreme pain. Our souls experience a taste of glory, which mitigates the pain. We see it in Stephen when he is stoned (Acts 7:55-60).
  3. We have no fear of uselessness. To be limited to prayer alone is NOT a punishment, but a liberation! From that point on, we commune with our LORD on an ever-deepening level that moves us into oneness with Him. In fact, there may be a point when even consciousness is abandoned in relation to this communion. We have no idea what goes on spiritually when a person is in a coma. My hope is that the LORD is doing a deep work with that person’s soul.

It is interesting to realize that the universe goes on without me. I yearn to get back to leading, singing, teaching, and playing with my grandchildren, but I also understand that the LORD has plans for me that go beyond my understanding. I simply want to learn all I can from everything I go through. God doesn’t waste any opportunity; I don’t want to, either.

Abba, my whole experience with COVID has been typical; for that I am grateful. May I come out of this sickness with a better understanding of You, of suffering, the plight of humanity, and the salvation/restoration You have in store for those who love You and for creation. May our sites be a little more focused on You and Your Plan as we deal with COVID. Amen.

Proverbs 7 12-7-20

The danger of not asking the Holy Spirit for guidance is running the risk of making a rash decision based upon partial information.

1 My child, keep my words and store up my commands within you. 2 Keep my commands and you will live…

I can think of a couple of reasons why I don’t ask the Holy Spirit for guidance.

  1. I’m afraid that He will not agree with my assessment.
  2. It takes too much time to ask Him, get an answer, and then carry out His will.

The first reason is arrogance (haughtiness) and the second is sloth (laziness). We ran into both of these attitudes in the garden with Adam and Eve. Eve, in her arrogance, thought that she could make the decision on her own about eating the fruit. Bad news. Adam was standing right there (see Genesis 3:6); he allowed Eve to be the spiritual leader of his household. Bad move. He was lazy. The most interesting part of the story is that it has been the tendency since then for women to desire control and for men to let them have it (see Genesis 3:16).

We combat these two attitudes with the godly attitudes of humility and servanthood. Luke tells two parables of Jesus that deal with humility and servanthood. The first parable is found in Luke 17:7-10. We serve our LORD Jesus Christ, doing as He commands. So, what is our attitude? “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'” The second parable is in Luke 18:10-14, about the Pharisee and the tax collector who went to worship. The Pharisee was arrogant, but the tax collector was humble. According to Jesus, the tax collector went home justified before God. He finished the parable with this teaching, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Let’s be neither arrogant nor lazy, but let’s take on the nature of a servant, just like Jesus did. “taking the very nature [form] of a servant.” Philippians 2:7.

Abba, may we be diligent in following You, our LORD and Savior. May I recognize arrogance and laziness in me when my flesh rears its ugly head and replace them with humility and servanthood. Make me more like you, LORD, through practice. Keep taking me back to the obstacle course until I master it! Amen.

Proverbs 6 12-6-20

RESOLVE is what I pray for you today. May you seek the LORD and receive an answer. May you experience Him in worship.

4 Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids [diligence, resolve].

I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:5-6

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11

As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face [in worship and in Your Word]; when I awake [in the morning], I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness [in me]. Psalm 17:15

Church can be “just church” unless we go with the attitude that we will be in the LORD’s presence. You may say, “I thought that He is always with me.” True, but He also promises to be with us in a unique way when we meet together to worship. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus says, “For where two or three [or more] gather in my name, there am I with them.” If just two of us were to gather to pray, to worship, and/or to study the Bible together, we are joined together by His Spirit in a unique way, one that goes beyond what we can experience individually. God wasn’t kidding when He commanded us to “not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25.

Today, let’s meet together–whether in person or online, which I am currently doing–to worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness and proclaim His great works. Let’s submit ourselves to His righteousness and seek His counsel. May we enjoy the “Presence” of the LORD as we sing together, pray together, and hear the message of the LORD via our pastor. Different churches? No problem! The Holy Spirit joins us together universally because we are all part of “one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism [in the Spirit]; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:4-6.

Abba, we worship You in Spirit and in truth. We call on You as our Lord and Savior. May You give us the desires of our hearts as we seek Your face. Tell us what we need to need, to want, and to strive for. We’re starting at ground zero today. Come and fill our hearts with Your presence, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 5 12-5-20

Stop and ask. There is so much going on spiritually that we can’t see–we also have an adversary who is a deceiver!

1 My child, pay attention to my wisdom [ASK!], turn your ear to my words of insight…

There is quite a bit of precedent in the Word for us to consider:

  • Sarai (Sarah), Abram’s (Abraham’s) wife, didn’t stop and ask the LORD before giving Hagar to Abram to have a child (Genesis 16).
  • Joshua didn’t stop and ask when going up to take Ai (Joshua 7).
  • Joshua didn’t stop and ask concerning the Gibeonites and their deception (Joshua 9).
  • King David didn’t stop and ask how he should bring the ark of God up to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6).
  • Rehoboam (Solomon’s son) didn’t stop and ask concerning the advice given by the elders (1 Kings 12).

All of these people had major and long-term consequences:

  • Hagar bore Ishmael, who became the father of the Arabs. Nuff said.
  • 36 men were lost at Ai, a podunk town that should have been wiped out easily.
  • The Israelites couldn’t rid the land of its inhabitants (which God had commanded them) because of the pact made by the deception of the Gibeonites.
  • The death of Uzzah when the oxen stumbled and he reached out to steady the ark (it was NOT supposed to be moved on a cart, but carried by hand-see verse 13).
  • The kingdom was ripped in two because of Rehoboam’s rejection of the good advice. He lost ten tribes that day.

What about us? What do we lose and what do we have to put up with just because we didn’t stop and ask? Christ came to earth so that we can inquire of the LORD all the time. He lives in our hearts and guides our lives–when we let Him. Let’s make a habit of asking Him rather than doing what seems good in our eyes. Remember that there is a lot going on spiritually of which we are unaware and that we have an adversary who is the Great Deceiver! He’ll get us every time if we don’t stop and ask the Spirit for instructions.

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

Abba, may I take my own advice. I really appreciate Your answer concerning a matter that had been consuming a lot of my attention; I have let it go and am trusting You for the future. I don’t need to “hedge any bets” concerning what is coming; You have the future well in-hand. Walking with You is fun; I’m glad You’re All-Patience as I pepper You with questions…! Lead on, Good Shepherd. I, your sheep, will follow closely. Amen.

Proverbs 4 12-4-20

A wasted relationship–that’s what we have when we trust Christ for salvation, but then live our lives as if He is not in us. We have forfeited all the benefits of knowing Christ: The joy of His continuous presence, His boundless love and peace that emanate from Him, His wise counsel and leadership, our growth and usefulness to the kingdom, not to mention all the bonuses of deep friendships and experiences that we miss out on because we are not in step with the Spirit.

1 Listen, my children, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. 2 I give sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.
5 Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.
18 The path of the righteous [when walking with the Savior] is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.

How often do we remind ourselves that we are sojourners on this planet? It is no longer our permanent home, nor are the things of this world our permanent goals. Jesus Christ is our LORD and Master. He is our Messiah, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach. We are preparing for His kingdom, not this one, even as His kingdom grows within us and links us to His kingdom in other Christians.

Jesus gave a parable in Luke 16 about the shrewd manager who was caught being “unwise” with his master’s finances. All of the wealth that was at his disposal was no longer going to be available to him. So, he called in his master’s debtors (those who owed him money) and lowered their debts so that they would welcome him and give him a job when his master fired him. Jesus commended the manager because he changed his viewpoint concerning that wealth from a goal to a means. This lesson is one that He would have us learn for everything from our jobs to our free time, from our necessities to our niceties. Everything must go on the table to be used as the LORD asks us to use them. To hold onto them as our end goal will tarnish them and we will miss the blessing and the reason with which we were entrusted with them.

Do you trust the LORD that much? Could you do it? Thankfully, our LORD is patient and kind, full of mercy and grace. He wants to walk with us and counsel us. He will show us what to do and give us the desire and the power to do it. But, the first thing we must do is commit ourselves to Him RIGHT NOW. Don’t wait. Do it now. Then, get in His Word and listen for His voice. If you read Luke 16, pay close attention to verses 10-15. It’s important.

Ponder this passage as you go about your day:

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

I reckon the question is, do you belong to Christ Jesus? Then, get with it! Let’s not waste our relationship with Him.

Abba, You know that crucifying my flesh with its passions and desires isn’t easy and that I fight it all the time. Thank You for Your Spirit who encourages me, consoles me, empowers me, and helps me try again and again. I know that I am in training. May I, after I have “preached” to others, not be disqualified for the prize (1 Corinthians 9:27). May I be personally diligent in all matters WITH YOUR HELP AND GUIDANCE. Amen.

Proverbs 3 12-3-20

Quarantining has been good for Christianity. Frustrating, but good. It has halted the status quo and called us to analyze how and why we do things.

1 My child, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart…3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

The problem with the way we used to do things is that we depended upon others for our spiritual food. Whether it was Bible reading (led by a pastor), worship (led by a worship leader), Bible study (led by a teacher), prayer (organized, perfunctory, as at the beginning or end of a meeting), or works (things we do at church), it was all provided for us. Granted, ministers are given to the body of Christ to “equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” Ephesians 4:12. But, the goal of ministers needs to be to equip each Christian to study and grow independently. Each of us is to have sole dependency on Christ. It highlights once again the truth in Sole Scriptura, the sole sufficiency of the Scriptures. All we need is a Bible and we are good to go! The Scriptures, through the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit, give us everything we need to be successful and faithful followers of Christ.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the [every] servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in himrooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7

If we want to hear from God, we must learn to speak His language, which is Scripture. He will NEVER go outside the bounds of what He has revealed in His Word. If we know His Word, then we know where those boundaries are and cannot be misled or deceived. We also will know His heart, His Plan, and His promises. My favorite promise comes from Jesus’ prayer in John 17:24,

“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.”

There are several things we can learn from this statement:

  1. Jesus Christ is God’s Son.
  2. We will be with Him in heaven!
  3. We will experience His glory!
  4. Jesus Christ is eternal; He was not created, but has existed with God from before creation.

From this verse, I extrapolate this worldview:

Jesus Christ is sovereign and is worth serving.
He loves me and wants me to be with Him;
He is with me right now,
and I will go to be with Him when He calls.
There, with Him, I will experience His full glory forever!

Everything in my life is based upon this worldview. My life, my worldly goods, my position, even my family and friends must take a backseat to this worldview. Either Jesus is Sovereign and has my best interests at heart for everything, or I am completely wrong and a fool.

How about you? Do you have a verse/passage on which you “hang your hat?” On what is your worldview based? I would love to hear. In the meantime, continue on as good soldiers for Christ as we continue to live our lives in Christ, “who loves us and gave Himself for us.”

Abba, You are above all things. Your Plan is all-inclusive. We need not worry about anything, whether food or drink, clothes, money, health, time, productivity–anything! The phrase, “Am I making a difference,” is erroneous because it places the emphasis on us. What we should be asking is, “Lord, may we come to know You so intimately that we trust You in EVERY circumstance. You will bring glory to Your name, of that we have no doubt.” Give us faith, O LORD. May we be ready on the day of testing. Amen.

Proverbs 2 12-2-20

We can trust the Bible because of its accuracy concerning prophecy. Jesus fulfilled ALL of the Old Testament Scriptures. Here are some big ones…

6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

Anytime we read in the Old Testament, we must remember that it tells His Story from beginning to End. To think of Christ as a Newcomer to the scene would be erroneous. Christ was with the Father before Creation. One simply has to read Proverbs 8:22-31 to verify this truth. NOTE: If you read that passage, be aware that some translations use, “given birth,” when the best translation is, “brought forth;” brought forth as what? The Sacrifice: “The Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” Revelation 13:8.

Since we are talking about creation, let’s look at Jeremiah 33.

“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’”

Let’s assume that “calling to Him” means reading His Word. Looking a little further in the chapter, we see that He has a surprise for us:

17 For this is what the Lord says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel, 18 nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.’”

I consider this passage a Christmas passage because it speaks of the coming of Messiah, who will hold both offices of King and High Priest: His Kingship in Revelation 19:16, and His Priesthood in Hebrews 4:14.

A little further still, we read,

22 “I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.”

Here’s where it gets interesting because it’s talking about us! How are we descended from David? How can we be priests? When we received Christ into our lives and the Holy Spirit took up residence in us, we were adopted into the family of God, and Christ became our Big Brother. Romans 8:15-17 says as much:

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

As for the priesthood, 1 Peter 2:9 and Revelation 5:10 both refer to us a kingdom of priests. Priests are the go-betweens, the intercessors, the ambassadors for Christ to the world. That’s our new job!

The real tie-in to Christmas is in the wording, “will never fail.” In other words, it will never end. Now, where have we heard that phrase before? Oh, yeah! It’s in Luke 1:32-33, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

The Bible is rich with the promises of God. If we can trust the ones that He has already given us through Christ, then we can trust Him for the ones He has promised us in the future.

Abba, may You continue to reveal Yourself through Your Word. There is SO MUCH there for us to discover about You and Your Plan through Your promises. May we take the time to seek You even as You call us to Yourself. Amen.

Proverbs 12-1-20

Evidence of a redeemed life is a selfless heart. We serve Christ HIS way, not our way. “Selective service” is not an option.

1 The proverbs of Solomon…2 for attaining wisdom and discipline, for understanding…3 for acquiring a disciplined life…4 for prudence…knowledge and discretion…

Our mindset must be that His words are final. We cannot take the attitude that we can take some and leave some, or conform them to our will. Solomon learned this lesson from his dad, King David:

Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your name. Psalm 86:11

It’s the “undivided heart” with which we struggle. Yet, that struggle is what makes us strong in the Lord because we must determine to be godly, we must listen to the Spirit and be intentional about our walk and our actions.

NOW, we are ready to study Titus 2:11-14.

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 [say “Yes” to the Spirit 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.

  1. The grace of God has appeared in the flesh through Jesus Christ. This is a GREAT Christmas verse!
  2. To whom? To all people. That’s important. Christ didn’t die for some (those who would trust in Him); He died for all (see Romans 6:10, Hebrews 7:27, 9:12, 9:26, 10:10, and particularly 1 Peter 3:18).
  3. “This present age” and verse 13 we will discuss at another time.
  4. Jesus is in the process of purifying for Himself a people that are His very own–the Church! Us!!!
  5. “Eager to do what is good”- Are we eager to do what is good? Are we ready to live a self-less life and do things Christ’s way?

If we aren’t ready to allow Christ to be president in our lives and not just resident, then we will continue to be “infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people [who are prompted by Satan] in their deceitful scheming.” Ephesians 4:14.

Instead, how about praying each morning David’s prayer to teach us His way and then walk in His truth? Are you ready for an undivided heart that fears the Lord–not unto punishment, but unto discipline? Discipline is our best evidence that we are God’s children! See Hebrews 12:4-13. Let’s get started!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would have an undivided heart, that You would teach them to fear Your name, and to be all about You rather than themselves. Lord, You know I’m preaching to myself here. That psalm is my prayer every morning. Make it so in my life, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 30 11-30-20

“The Word of God is living and active!” Here are some verses that have transformed my way of thinking:

6 “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

John 17:15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

Let’s take the second part first. Our sanctification (becoming like Jesus in true righteousness and holiness) comes through the truth, which is the Word of God. If we ever needed a verse upon which to base our lives, this one is it.

As for protection, Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane:

Luke 22:46 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

Mark 14:38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit [His Spirit and/or your soul] is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Jesus is not so much concerned about our physical predicaments; He can use us anywhere, anyhow. He never leaves us! He’s concerned about our susceptibility to the Enemy’s lies. He foreknew that the disciples would not be able to stay awake and would run away. It didn’t matter. He was the only One who could do what He was about to do. What was it He was about to do? He was about to join eternity with history at the cross. It is, indeed, the crossroads of history. His love and grace reach both backward in time to Adam and Eve and then forward to the last person who will receive Him as Lord.

Interesting note: When Jesus said, “Keep watch,” He was referring to the practice/command of Exodus 12:42,
42 Because the Lord kept vigil [watch] that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil [watch] to honor the Lord for the generations to come.
In other words, He wasn’t asking them to do anything out of the ordinary. In fact, they probably observed the practice most other times. So, what happened? They were unprepared for the Enemy’s attack! But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. Matthew 26:56, which was a reference to Zechariah 13:7. Matthew and Mark even quoted it in Matthew 26:31 and Mark 14:27. Why? Did Jesus choose for them to desert Him? NO. He just knew ahead of time, as did Zechariah–and Isaiah 59:15-21 (neat passage!). He had to save mankind on His own.

Tomorrow, we will look at Titus 2:11-14 and how it has transformed my life.

Abba, may You impress upon us the importance of making Your Truth first in our lives. May we discover Your Truth in Your Word. Make it vital to us, O LORD–hopefully, not by removing it from our accessibility! May Your words be precious in our sight even as it was to King David in Psalm 19. Speak to our hearts, LORD Jesus, speak that our souls may hear. Amen.

Proverbs 29 11-29-20

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

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

“Abba, I praise You and thank You for the

Ever-Transforming Power of Your Love!

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

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

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

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

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

Paul began his letter to the Corinthians with this revelation:

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

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

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

Proverbs 28 11-28-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 27 11-27-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Tis the season: We Three Kings-COVID version

Proverbs 25 11-25-20

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

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

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

Jesus painted a very sobering picture with a story:

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

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

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

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.  24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. John 14:23-24

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 26 11-26-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 24 11-24-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birth and New Birth 11-22-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Incarnation in us is the PURPOSE of Christmas.

Proverbs 23 11-23-20

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

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

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

The question for the day is:

How much do you know about the Kingdom of God?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May this verse be our mantra for the day.

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

Proverbs 22 11-22-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dedicio

Letting go; Surrender

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

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

Proverbs 21 11-21-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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