Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Proverbs 21 7-21-19

July 21, 2019

We are on day three of 21 Days of Deep.” We are learning to dive into God’s Word for more than just crumbs. Come with us!

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

As we pick up the narrative in 1 John, we learn the key to knowing we are God’s children. If we love as He loves, then we are His. If we reserve the right to judge for ourselves, then we haven’t given Him all of who we are. Judgement comes from that part of us that is like God–we are made in His image–but is the very thing that keeps us from coming to Him. We must learn to give up our “right” to judge others and allow Him to be in control.

As always, read it here, but also read it in your own “real” Bible.

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God[a] is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister[b] is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister[c] lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

SOAP

We’ve read the SCRIPTURE. Now OBSERVE it. What about it stands out to you?

Now APPLY it. How does it pertain to you?

PRAY. Ask the Lord to show you where you stand with Him and how to love as He loves. Be specific if specific people come to mind. Talk to Him and work it out. Repent (which means to make a course adjustment). Ask Him what to do next and then DO IT according to His timing and instructions.

Let’s enjoy His presence and participation in our lives today. We are His. REJOICE!

NOTE: I posted my commentary prior to this post. After you have prayed, I welcome you to read it.

1 John 2:3-11

July 21, 2019

There are eleven tests of salvation that I have counted in this letter. They are: 1:7, 2:4-6, 2:9-11, 2:15-17, 2:19, 2:23, 3:6, 3:10, 3:24, 5:11-12, and 5:18. Others may count more, but those are the ones I consider to be tests of salvation.

There are two verses pertaining to the anointing of the Holy Spirit. They are: 2:20 and 2:27. We will look at them later.

(3) We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. In John’s Gospel, he relates to us two commands of Jesus that he considers to be the highest commands. The first is John 6:29, where Jesus says, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” We must do exactly that: Take every word of Christ as the Gospel truth.

The other command is found in 13:34 where Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love [agapao] one another. As I have loved [agapao] you, so you must love [agapao] one another.” This word, agapao, means “godly love,” or “to love in a moral sense.” It is referred to as Agape Love, the love of God. The idea is to set aside our own feelings of love or hate and relate to people how God feels about them. How DOES God feel about them? John 3:16 tells us that He loves them so much that He gave His Son. Romans 5:8 tells us that even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Why? Because God loves us so much!

(4) Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. A person who is not interested in doing what Jesus has commanded is not really interested in Jesus being his Lord. He has not given his life over to Jesus, yet. It’s positional; that person is outside of Christ.

(5) But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: (6) Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. The key word here is “must.” If the Spirit lives inside of us, then we feel His desires as our own. He desires to obey through us, therefore we feel the compulsion to obey. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “For Christ’s love compels us…” We feel that we MUST live according to the Spirit, which is to live as Jesus lived. It’s relational; we fight our desire to do His higher desire.

(7) Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. From the first time his audience heard the Gospel, which could be those who heard for themselves Jesus’ message or it could be those in Ephesus where John preached for many years, the message of the Gospel is the same: God loved us through Christ; we love Christ, therefore we obey Him by loving others as He loves them through us.

((8) Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. John is referring to the illustration of light being God and darkness being evil. He began his Gospel with it (John 1:1-4, 14) and expounded on it in 3:19-21. We are most like Christ when we turn away from darkness (sin and self) and turn to Him, our Light, anytime, everytime.

(9) Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Our litmus test is how we feel about others and how we treat them.

(10) Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. There is a difference between “love” and “like.” We can love a person without liking him/her. We always have that person’s best interests in mind concerning his/her spiritual state. We MUST depend upon the Holy Spirit to guide us in this matter because we don’t have the knowledge to know what to do, nor the desire or the power to do it.

(11) But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. When we decide for ourselves that a person is not worth loving, then we have usurped God’s throne and His judgement. We walk NOT according to the Spirit, and therefore are walking in darkness. We stumble around spiritually thinking that we are fine when in actuality we have succumbed to the ways of the evil one. We are “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” spiritually (Rev. 3:17). Jesus says, (18) “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire [of truth and trials], so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear [of righteousness  and living according to the Spirit], so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes [the Word of God, Jesus’ words], so you can see. (19) Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.”

Dear Lord Jesus, I ask that you would teach me to love as You love, to see each person as a soul in need of You. May I listen to Your Spirit as He compels me to be Your hands and feet, Your ambassador, to those around me. May I be Christ to Your children and to those who don’t know You so that they may see You clearly in me. Amen.

SOAP

July 18, 2019

I learned something the other day. I learned what SOAP is. Not the bath soap kind (although, it applies spiritually), but this kind:

S. Scripture- Read the passage.

O. Observation- Observe at least one thing in the passage that you believe God has for you to learn from it.

A. Application- Consider how you may apply this new knowledge to your life today or sometime this week.

P. Prayer- Pray and ask God to give you the knowledge and the skill, the opportunity, and the courage to do it. Ask Him what (and then wait and ponder), ask Him when (wait and ponder), ask Him how (wait and ponder), and then ask Him why (wait and ponder). On this last one, you may not realize the answer until AFTER you are obedient.

Statistically, if we do something the same way for 21 days, it establishes a habit in our lives. If we will “SOAP up” each morning, we will establish a GREAT spiritual habit with our Lord. We will find ourselves growing in our faith and knowledge (both factual and experiential). We may even move up to the next level of spiritual growth!

In the podcast, the speaker asked this question, “How long have you been at your current spiritual level?” If the answer is, “A while,” then he challenged us to get out of the shallows and take what he called, “21 DAYS OF DEEP.” That’s where we SOAP each day for 21 days with the intention of establishing the spiritual habit of SOAP. The goal is to move to the next level of spiritual development by sticking closer to Christ as we keep in step with Him.

NOTE: If you are interested in watching the podcast, text me and I will send you the link.

There are two passages of Scripture that apply. The one from the podcast is Hebrews 5:11-14, which says,

We have much to say about this [obedience through suffering and perfection (wholeness, completeness) through walking with, and becoming like, Christ], but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. (12) In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! (13) Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant [spiritually], is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. (14) But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves [by the Holy Spirit] to distinguish good from evil.

The key to this passage is time. The recipients of this letter had given up trying. The writer was urging them to restart the learning process. IT TAKES TIME.

The one I want to use is Ephesians 5:25-26,

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (26) to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word [our Bibles, God’s words],

When we put these two passages together, we get SOAP! The question we must ask ourselves, and I believe the Holy Spirit asks us each morning, is, “How much do you value the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross?” When we begin to understand just what Christ went through for us, when we consider His leaving heaven for our sake and live 33 years on planet earth to die on a cross and then rise again so that He could live in us and us in him, WE WILL TAKE OUR WALK WITH HIM SERIOUSLY.

Let’s go deep. Are you ready? Dive in!

DIVE by Steven Curtis Chapman

What I Have Believed All Along

July 11, 2019

Simple logic put me on the right path many years ago concerning when a human life begins. I asked myself, “What does it take for a zygote to be a human being?”

Later on, Dr. Duane Gish, Biologist, came to my church in 1991 and spoke to us about life and what the Bible has to say about it. I asked him my question and here is his answer (summarized):

The scientific approach to life is to answer these two questions:

  1. Is it human (does it have 23 chromosomes)?
  2. Is it alive (does it take in nourishment, excrete waste, and grow)?

If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then it IS a human life. Thus, the moment the sperm enters the egg and creates a zygote, it is a human life.

Do all biologists follow this logic? 90% of them do, according to a study done by Steven Jacobs! Here is the link to the article about his findings.

Steven Jacobs’ Survey

It is interesting to note that many who adhere to the scientific logic DO NOT support the Pro-Life movement. In fact, many become emotional and militant about Pro-Choice. It just goes to show that it’s personal and not objective. It also reveals a sinister mastermind behind Pro-Choice who disregards logic and truth to press his own agenda, which is to destroy anything God has made, particularly mankind.

What Went Wrong?

July 11, 2019

For some reason, WordPress posted today’s lesson UNDER yesterday’s lesson. Scroll down to it. If you can’t find it, it’s in the Proverbs category.

Proverbs 11 7-11-19

July 11, 2019

Our hearts, by themselves, are full of wickedness; we want what WE want. Jesus wants to give us life, HIS life. Daily bread.

20 The LORD detests those whose hearts are perverse, but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.

What makes a heart perverse? What makes our ways blameless? For these answers, we look to Jesus. There’s nothing like going to the Source for truth! Jesus proclaimed the end of the Sinai Covenant and announced a new way to God: Himself. His life and sacrifice on the cross are what mankind needs to be reestablished in right relationship with the Father.

Why was it so hard for the Pharisees to believe in Jesus and His message? It would have messed up their playhouse. How so?

Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead. Many Jews believed, but some went and reported to the chief priests and the Pharisees. They called a meeting:

“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation [fulfilled in 70 A.D.].” John 11:47-48

They had things the way they wanted them. They were in control, both politically and religiously, and they didn’t want to give up any of that control.

Here’s what Jesus had to say about them:

“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them [by obeying the Sinai Covenant of Moses] you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me [the sacrificial system was set up to point to Jesus], 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” John 5:39-40

What about us? We study the Scriptures, too. Does this mean that we will miss eternal life? NOT AT ALL! Jesus IS eternal life. As long as we seek Him in the pages of Scripture, we will find Him, and thus, eternal life. The religious leaders were keeping the Sinai Covenant of Moses. Jesus was introducing a New Way through Himself as the FINAL sacrificial Lamb. They simply refused to believe Jesus.

Let’s look at what Jesus taught:

  • He came to fulfill [complete] the Scriptures, not abolish them (throw them out). Matt. 5:17-18
  • He said that doing and believing are two different things. He wants us to BELIEVE in Him. “Do not work for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man [Himself] will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval [the Holy Spirit–same as us]. The crowd asked a very Old Covenant question: “What must we DO to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to [simply] believe in the one he has sent [Jesus].” John 6:27-29
  • Jesus hinted at the way He would die and thus fulfill the requirements of the law: “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission [forgiveness] of sin.” Hebrews 9:22. Here’s what He said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32

If we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of Man (see Daniel 7:13-14), God Himself (Immanuel), then we look to Him for salvation, for daily renewal, for answers, for strength and endurance–for ALL THINGS.

If we believe that He lives in our hearts, then we will inquire His opinion on every subject and every question. We will trust Him to give us the desire and the power to act on His opinion and His will for our lives. Here is the promise we are given by Him:

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

Free from the bonds of sin! Free to love as He loves! This is what victorious Christian living is all about! Let’s work hard at believing Jesus by finding out what He said. His words speak to us today just as richly as they spoke to those who heard them 2,000 years ago.

Have a great time with the Lord this morning!

Concerning Extra-Terrestrial Life

July 10, 2019

I love the Marvel movies, Star Trek, Star Wars, and other Sci-Fi stuff. It stimulates my imagination and has neat effects. But, do I believe in extra-terrestrial life? Not at all!

With as many planets as there are in the heavens, doesn’t it make sense that there should be other planets that “just happen” to have life on them? No, it doesn’t, once we examine the purpose of earth and the different purpose for all the other planets.

This planet was CREATED by God for the express purpose of being the home for His creation, particularly mankind. Created in His image, we stand above all other creatures and are invited to have a personal relationship with God. Genesis says,

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the dep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:1-2

We must take God at His Word that the heavens, which includes all the other planets, were created for His glory AS THEY ARE. But, earth is different. God shaped it and grew it to be habitable for mankind. The story of mankind is about God reaching out to His creation in love and mankind spurning that love; it’s about God reaching out again through Jesus in love to give us the opportunity to come back to Him.

I read an article from Answers in Genesis about the notion of extra-terrestrial life. In the article, the writer, Dr. Jason Lisle, gave a very clear synopsis of the Gospel:

God’s plan of redemption is for human beings: those descended from Adam. Let us examine the conflict between the salvation message, and the notion of alien life.

The Bible teaches that the first man (Adam) rebelled against God (Genesis 3). As a result, sin and death entered the world (Romans 5:12). We are all descended from Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:20) and have inherited from them a sin nature (Romans 6:620). This is a problem: sin is a barrier that prevents man from being right with God (Isaiah 59:2), but God loves us (despite our sin) and provided a plan of redemption—a way to be reconciled with God.

After Adam and Eve sinned, God made coats of skins to cover Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). He therefore had to kill an animal(s). This literal action is symbolic of our salvation: an innocent Lamb (Christ—the Lamb of God) would be sacrificed to provide a covering for sin (John 1:29). In the Old Testament, people would sacrifice animals to the Lord as a reminder of their sin (Hebrews 10:3) and as a symbol of the One to come (the Lord Jesus) who would actually pay the penalty for sin.

The animal sacrifices did not actually pay the penalty for sin (Hebrews 10:411). Animals are not related to us; their shed blood cannot count for ours, but the blood of Christ can. Christ is a blood relative of ours, since He is descended from Adam as are we; all human beings are of “one blood” (Acts 17:26). Furthermore, since Christ is also God, His life is of infinite value, and thus, His death can pay for all the sins of all people. That is why only the Lord himself could be our savior (Isaiah 45:21). Therefore, Christ died once for all (Hebrews 10:10).

He goes on to explain that any life form not of this earth would not be related to us, thus making it disqualified from the sacrifice of Jesus. Not only that, but Romans clearly states that Jesus died once for all (Romans 6:10), so there could never be Him going to another planet to sacrifice Himself for them.

The real question is, “Is there life beyond this earth?” YOU BET THERE IS! Jesus offers us eternal life with Him in heaven! Now, THAT’S a truth that I can believe!!!

It’s an interesting read (if you like that kind of stuff). Read the entire article at:

About Extra-Terrestrial Life

If I had only one chance

June 27, 2019

If I had only one chance to talk to you, what would I say?

I would tell you that Jesus loves you. If you read nothing else, I want you to know that He loves you and died in your place so that He could have you back from sin, self, and Satan. There’s more to the story, but that’s the main thing. He loves you because He made you and He wants you back, back in sweet fellowship with God and Himself (they’re the same Person) through His Spirit.

How? Respond. Surrender. Lay down your pride and arrogance and raise the white flag of humility. You must recognize that you are not the captain of your own ship. Instead, you are a slave to sin and you need a Savior. That’s what you are saved from, but what are you saved to? The point of the cross was to bridge the gap between God and you. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, you can have peace with God and enjoy a sweet fellowship with Him. Forever. And with me. We would be spiritual siblings!

God is not mad at you. He’s not disappointed in you. He’s desperate for you! Sin is killing you and keeping you from Him. Through Jesus, He can remedy that. Let Him.

The process is simple. Ask Jesus to save you, to come into your life and be your Lord and Master. You basically make yourself a slave to Him–but, instead of treating you like a slave, He adopts you into His family! You will get a spiritual bath, a white robe (sign of sonship), spiritual sandals (another sign of sonship), a ring with the family crest on it (still another sign of sonship), and adoption papers signed in the blood of Jesus and sealed by His Holy Spirit along with the promise that you will go to live with Him someday.

Do you feel His drawing in your spirit? Is there a tension there that nudges you to believe and to accept His generous offer? ACT ON IT! DON”T WAIT! Do it NOW.

When you do place your faith and trust in Christ Jesus, you will receive a wonderful blessing, which is the Holy Spirit, who comes and takes up residence in your heart and life. The Spirit of God is the essence of Jesus; it’s His way of coming to live with you. He will enter your heart and mind and be with you. Want to know the mind of God? Just ask Him. He’ll be right there with you and in you all the time!

Another residual blessing of being in the presence of the Father is what radiates from Him. You get to bask in His glory. What does that feel like? It’s loving, peaceful, joyful, hopeful (looking forward to the future), and full of grace. He will speak truth to you, especially about yourself, and He deals with you in grace. It doesn’t get any better than that! I have experienced it personally and can attest to it!

My hope, my prayer, is that you will give your life to Him today. You’ll never regret it. If you do, call me or write me. I want to know. In the meantime, I recommend you read the book of John in the Bible. John describes his call from the Lord to be His disciple and will give you a good grasp of who Jesus is and what He has done for you–for the WORLD!

Where Vultures Gather

June 21, 2019

I was reading in Luke 17 this morning when I came upon a strange verse:

“Where, Lord?” they asked.
He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.” Luke 17:37

What in the world?! I asked the Lord what it meant. Then, I let my mind wander through the Scriptures trying to remember where else I had read about vultures. Praise the Lord for the “search” feature on my bible app! I found a similar verse in Matthew 24, in which the reference is to Jesus’ Second Coming.

For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. Matthew 24:27-28

The reference to vultures, then, may be a reference to Armageddon, in which the birds of the world come for a great feast when the armies of the world come together to fight against the Lord.

14 They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.

16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. Revelation 16:16

Here is the result of that battle:

17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.”

… 21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. Revelation 19:17-18, 21

As I continued to read around 16:16 for context, I noticed a similarity between verse 20 and this prophecy in Isaiah:

Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. Revelation 16:20

Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. Isaiah 40:4

It’s reference is to the declaration of John the Baptist about the coming Messiah, who was Jesus. In the Gospel of Mark, verse 3 of Isaiah 40 is used with verse 4 implied:

2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”— 3 “a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” Mark 1:2-3

John confirms this passage:

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” John 1:23

Matthew does, as well, in Matthew 3:3. Jesus Himself confirmed John the Baptist:

9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.” Matthew 11:9-10, 14

If Revelation 16:20 is a prophetic reference like Isaiah 40:3-4, then the entire chapter about the seven bowls of God’s wrath may be about the earth being made ready for His Coming.

The first bowl might actually be one of God’s final evangelistic appeals to the world.

2 The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.

The second bowl I see as God’s mercy upon all the creatures of the sea. He took them on into heaven with Him in preparation for the new heaven and new earth.

3 The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died.

The same can be said for the third bowl, except that now there is no potable water- really, no water at all! Another evangelistic appeal.

4 The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.

The fourth bowl is big. It could be a sonar flare of such magnitude that it lasts for several days or even weeks. Not only would it become intensely hotter, all communications would go down due to the huge electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Or, it could be that something happens to our ozone layer, which keeps harmful ultraviolet radiation from the earth’s surface. Whatever the case, it’s gonna be hot!

8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. 9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.

Oh, the stubbornness of mankind!

The fifth bowl is similar to the ninth plague of Egypt found in Exodus 10:21-23. If it is only upon the kingdom of the beast, then it is exactly like the ninth plague and is a bonified miracle with no “coincidental” natural phenomena.

10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony 11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.

The sixth bowl dries up the great river Euphrates. This action could possibly be man-made by China as they prepare to march to Armageddon.

12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.

The seventh and last bowl of wrath is the greatest earthquake the earth has ever had, even during the Great Flood. Jerusalem, which is generally divided into three areas, splits apart into three areas. Are they the same areas? We are not told. We ARE told that the cities of the world are destroyed. 100 pound hailstones! The mountains and islands, which are submerged mountains, are leveled. World-wide chaos. More loss of life. More opportunities for the remnant to come to Christ.

17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. 19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. 21 From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.

If we were to keep reading in Revelation, we would read about the end of Satan’s throne and then his reign. Jesus wins, and so do we!

Exciting times ahead!

Addendum to 6-5-19

June 6, 2019

Addendum: Having our spiritual family before our natural family does NOT trump our responsibilities in taking care of and interacting with family. It DOES affect HOW we take care of them, in what order of importance they come, and how we interact with them. It does NOT include being at church every time the doors are open or dropping everything just because there’s a church function. What it DOES do is it runs everything through the filter of, “Jesus, how do You want me to handle this?” He will speak to us in one (or more) of four ways:

  1. Through prayer. Our continuous fellowship with Him is vital.
  2. Through the Bible. It is His written words to us.
  3. Through circumstances. Do you feel the tension? Pay attention to that tension. It may be the Holy Spirit!
  4. Through others, especially other believers.

Jesus wants us to take care of our natural families. We will let us know the best way to do that. Ask Him!

On Death and Dying

May 6, 2019

Robin and I love to read. One of our favorite authors is Lynn Austin. Her book, “Waves of Mercy,” is about the immigration of several families from the Netherlands in 1850 and their trials and tribulations, heartaches and triumphs.

The main character walks through  the leaving a love behind, the death of her parents to malaria within a year of arriving in the Michigan frontier, one son who lost his leg during the civil war, and another son who gave his life in that war. Her daughter, in a rebellious act immediately following the great Chicago fire, which also burned down her town of Sweden, Michigan, ran off with a scoundrel and didn’t hear from her for eight years. During all that time, we, the readers, walk through her struggle with God and her faith walk as she learned to trust Him in all things.

Here is an excerpt in which Geesje (the main character) comforts a young mother whose son was stillborn:

“How can I ever trust God again after He took my baby?” she [the young mother, Johanna] asked.

I squeezed her tightly and said, “No matter what, don’t ever stop trusting Him. I believe that God is as grieved over your baby’s death as we are. He created us and gave us life on this beautiful earth because He wanted us to live here for eternity. But death entered this world when Adam and Eve sinned. Now we feel pain and grief each time a loved one dies because we know it isn’t right. God knows it isn’t right, too. That’s why He sent His Son to die in our place, so that death would be destroyed and we would have eternal life. Keep your eyes on the cross, Johanna, and you’ll know that you can surely trust Him.”

Is that how you keep going, Geesje? By waiting for heaven?”

“In a way…” I said, stroking her hair. “But Jesus also taught us to pray for God’s kingdom to come now and for His will to be done now, here on earth, as it is in heaven. He has work for us to do, Johanna. A life to live  for Him now. When I felt the way you do right now, I asked God to let me know He was still beside me. To show me that He loved me and that His ways were good and right. Then I watched and waited for His replies… Slowly, little by little, He let me know in dozens of everyday ways that He was near me and that He loved me. He’ll do the same for you if you ask.” pages 249-250

The book was excellent, but it would have been worth reading just for this passage! What we must  remember is that Jesus has a kingdom BEYOND this world, to which He calls His children. As my pastor, Bryan, says, the best gift we can give our loved ones is the assurance that we are in heaven waiting on them. How do we do that? By trusting in Jesus and following Him all the way there!

We don’t get to skip the heartache, but we don’t grieve as the world grieves who have no hope. We know this:

Philippians 3:20 (NIV)
[20] But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, [21] who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Now, THAT makes it worth it all!

A Two-Way Street

January 6, 2019

The Bible is a conundrum, a riddle. It is its own witness, yet it claims that two witnesses are needed to verify truth. The reality is that the Bible can only be “proved true” if one believes that the God of the Bible is real, for He is the Witness that makes all the claims of the Bible true.

There is no way to intellectually argue a person into faith in God. A person must be open to the idea that he doesn’t have all the facts and is willing to be open to God revealing Himself to him. Then, God must do exactly that! The Christian faith is built on an event, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and an experience, when He introduces himself to a person. Christianity is a relationship with the Heavenly Father, through the Son (Jesus), by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is His Story on paper.

People who neglect the Bible ignore the fact that it was first spoken by God and then written down by the listener (the writer). Jesus IS the WORD and is the action and the power behind every spoken word of God. Therefore, the Bible is the living Word of God, as stated in itself in Hebrews 4:12.

To read the Bible for facts and history is good, and science is proving everyday the wonderful truths-with incredible accuracy-of God’s creation and involvement in our world. But, the greater reason to read the Bible is to interact with God. Since Jesus is our Savior, Intercessor, and Friend, and the Holy Spirit is our Counselor, Comforter, and Guide, we an speak to them interchangeably without any disrespect to any of them. They are 3-in-1.

Once a person comes to believe the validity and authority of the Bible, he can begin to trust its claims as truth. He realizes that anything that sets itself up in opposition to it is a lie and a deception of the enemy, Satan. He also realizes that no only does he have incomplete knowledge–of everything–but, also, that anything learned outside of God’s word, that which contradicts its truths, has been deviously engineered to hoodwink all who hear it.

Further, the more he doubts the world’s claims, the more dependent he becomes on the Lord and His Word for truth. Hence, the hunger and thirst of which the Bible speaks in Matthew 5:6. Now, through faith, he has sweet fellowship with our Lord and experiences all the benefits of a relationship with Him: Abounding love, inexpressible joy, peace that passes all understanding, grace beyond measure, and a hope in heaven where we will spend eternity with our Lord and Savior, our Redeemer, our Victor, our KING!

On a personal note, the daily walk and interaction with Him is enough for me. If there were no afterlife, following Christ is still beyond compare to any pleasures this world has to offer–even in the face of persecution and physical deprivation. His presence in my life IS Heaven!

The reality of the truth of the Bible is that God is knowable, and He wants us to know Him. The realness and closeness of our relationship with Him is what is attractive to people who are searching for truth, for family, and for something to believe in beyond themselves. Our relationship and fellowship with Him and, therefore, with each other (His Body) is what attracts searchers to Him. So, let’s start digging into His Word and discover HIM!

Here We Go a-Caroling

December 16, 2018

If you go caroling this season, I thought you might like to have some music by which to sing.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bbo0entjkmf4r39/AAAJcZ3wydfclmKnSTfiDxHia?dl=0

This link included traditional carols from the Baptist Hymnal with full orchestration and four-part voices.

It also includes the music without the voices, as well as a split-track version for the seriously musical (and picky).

Enjoy spreading the Good News!

What Christmas Means To Me

December 14, 2018

Christmas is about Christ’s coming. Well, let me tell you about when He came to me.

When I was a young boy, a strange thing happened to me one Sunday morning. As I was sitting in church, I found myself enthralled in what the pastor was saying. There seemed to be a voice inside of me that was agreeing with what he said. I sat up and took notice!

I had grown up in church, so I knew many of the stories of the Bible. I had sung the songs of Christ’s birth, had made crafts depicting events from His life and ministry, and I had always heard of His death and resurrection, but that’s all they were–stories. They weren’t real to me. I’m not sure what the preacher said that morning, but I do know this: The Holy Spirit placed in me an awareness of my need for Jesus in my life. All of a sudden, those stories became real to me! He had spoken to me!!!

Later that week, I asked my mom what I needed to do to be saved. She instructed me to get alone with Him and ask Him into my life. So, I went to my bedroom and knelt down. I told Him I was a sinner (I wasn’t real clear what that meant; I just knew that it was between Him and me, and I wanted it out of the way); I asked Him to forgive me (which I found out later that He already had), and to come into my life and be my Lord. I assumed that He would be like another parent to me–which is absolutely correct!

A neat thing happened next: I saw out of the corner of my eye someone standing there smiling at me. When I turned to look, no one was there (I suppose I caught my guardian angel not being careful…). The sense of Jesus coming to live in my heart was warm and light. I have felt it all my life, although it is sometimes keener than at other times. He still speaks to me. In fact, He is always speaking to me! If I am not hearing from Him as I read the Bible, then I am not paying attention. He speaks to me when I drive (which can be quite convicting), He sings with me as I sing, and He sings over me as I sleep (He told me so in His Word). He is all the time whispering to me things like, “I love you with an everlasting love,” and, “Come to me and I will give you rest.” He also tells me, “Be strong and courageous; am I not with you always?” And the one I love to hear the most is, “My peace I give you.” Having Jesus in my life gives me a joy that nothing in this world can touch!

The day Christ came into my life is a microcosm of Him coming to earth. He came so that I could be reunited with the Father, which He achieved by dying on the cross in my place–and then rising again to give us victory over death! The price has been paid, and Forgiveness is offered to everyone; all a person has to do is receive it by placing his life into His capable hands.

So, Christ’s coming, both to earth and to my heart, is what Christmas means to me.

I Never Imagined…

December 11, 2018

The question has come up whether Jesus was complete when He entered Mary’s womb (which would make Mary a surrogate mother) or whether God joined with Mary’s chromosomes in order to fashion Jesus–just as every baby is fashioned. While both sides have good arguments, I would like to explore one that seems stronger than the other.

Let’s string some pearls:

Luke 1:31 “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.”

Galatians 4:4-5 But when the set time had fully come [in the fullness of time], God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Hebrews 2:14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

My son-in-law postulated that a woman’s egg was still sinless until it mated with the male counterpart, thus, David’s statement in Psalm 51, “Surely I as sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” David, along with all mankind (both male and female), was conceived in sin. In Mary’s case, her egg mated with the Holy Spirit, therefore begetting God in human form. The Greek meaning for the word, “conceive,” is…”to conceive.” But, in Isaiah 7:14, we find the Hebrew term, “conceive,” as meaning…”to conceive.” It does add one more thought, and that is of a mental conception, as in original thought. It was something original!

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Philippians 2:5-7 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Now, before someone cries, “Heresy!” let us remember that all things in the timeline happen outside the timeline, as well. For instance, Christ died for us both BEFORE time,

Revelation 13:8b …the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

and IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME. Likewise, Jesus was “brought forth” before time began, but also had a place in our history some 2000 years ago. Do I pretend to understand it? Absolutely NOT!I have faith in our LORD that His plan is perfect and complete, and it is well above my purview. I accept it on faith because of the passage in Hebrews.

  1. He shared in our humanity (2:14);
  2. He was made like us, fully human in every way (2:16);
  3. He Himself suffered when He was tempted (2:18).

Now Hebrews 4:15-16 comes fully into play:

  1. He EMPATHIZES with us (not just feeling pity for us, but actually feeling what we feel because He has experienced what we experience-yet, without sin-v15);
  2. We can approach God with confidence (v16);
  3. We will receive mercy and grace as needed (Jesus lives as our Intercessor – see 7:25 -and Advocate – see 1 John 2:1).

Is it necessary that Jesus have human chromosomes? It stands to reason so that He could share in humanity in every way: from pain to joy (each time He healed), from dismay to thrill (when the disciples finally understood), from fear to peace (in the garden), and from temptation to victory (at His desert experience and upon His death). The point is identification. God created all emotions, but God, through Jesus, identified with us on a level that we need. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence…

To me, the whole subject boils down to Gabriel’s statement, “You will conceive…” He didn’t say, “You will be implanted…”

An interesting passage, which takes on new meaning under these new parameters, is Proverbs 8:22-31:

Proverbs 8:22 “The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works,
before his deeds of old;
[23] I was appointed from eternity,
from the beginning, before the world began.
[24] When there were no oceans, I was given birth,
when there were no springs abounding with water;
[25] before the mountains were settled in place,
before the hills, I was given birth,
[26] before he made the earth or its fields
or any of the dust of the world.
[27] I was there when he set the heavens in place,
when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
[28] when he established the clouds above
and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
[29] when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
[30] Then I was the craftsman at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
[31] rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.

Wisdom is usually a personification in Proverbs, but 1 Corinthians 1:30 tells us that Jesus became for us “wisdom from God. If He is the “wisdom” in this passage, He brings new meaning to the words used. As I looked up each word, I found that the setting can be taken as a ceremony where Jesus is anointed and appointed (the Hebrew meanings of “possessed me,” “set up,” “brought forth”) to be the sin sacrifice and then presented as an offering (a libation) to be poured out for us. In light of Revelation 13:8, “...the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world,” we see that God’s first act IN creation was presenting the Light of the World:

Genesis 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

In the words of my daughter, “That Light is Jesus Christ,” Who was presented to the physical universe in human form, was the Creator, and is the One who holds all things together:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] He was with God in the beginning.
[3] Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. [4] In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

Hebrews 1:2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. [3] The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. [16] For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. [17] He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Did “the One and only Son (John 3:16)” who was “begotten by the Father (John 1:14),” indeed, mix with Mary’s chromosomes to fashion God in a human body? How? When? Good questions. Concerning the “when,” we must remember that everything outside of time has a place in the timeline. Christ died outside of time, but we also know that “in the fullness of time, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship (Galatians 4:4).” Paul calls Jesus “The firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15).”

So, was Jesus fully human? I believe He had to be in order to complete the task given Him. Is it worth withdrawing fellowship with those who don’t believe as I do? No. In fact, we should be focusing on the PURPOSE of the Incarnation i.e. the CROSS (that’s for another article). Do I understand the nuances of the Incarnation? No, but I do understand enough to know that it was something special and new:

Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

God was providing us a way back to Him through Jesus our Savior and He is using His natural design to do it. Now, THAT’S worth celebrating!

 

Why I May Never Say, “Merry Christmas,” Again (reprinted from FACT)

December 7, 2018

With today’s encapsulation of stories about schools banning certain Christmas songs and Christmas-related words and images, I couldn’t help but think about the protests in recent years over the shift from “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays.” I get that for many these things are a lament about the increasing secularization of our culture and that for others these things are about stifling religious speech. But something bothers me about the fuss, and this week I may have finally put my finger on it. In fact, I may never say “Merry Christmas” again.

I don’t know the origin of the phrase “Merry Christmas,” but whatever it might have meant at one time, what’s important to me is what it means now. Webster’s dictionary entry suggests that the word merry now means “full of gaiety or high spirits.” The “archaic” meaning of merry according to Webster’s was “giving pleasure,” and perhaps that understanding better captures what I’m about to say. In either case, merry just doesn’t seem to be the right word to associate with Christmas.

Is merry the right word if the point of a Christmas greeting is to distinguish it from a greeting like “Happy Holidays” that, for many, is not so much a nefarious slam on the celebration of Christ’s birth as it is an acknowledgment that some may be celebrating a contemporaneous seasonable religious event and that others may just see Christmas as a break from the usual routine?

The answer for me came as I was reading the most complete telling of the facts surrounding Christ’s birth found in the New Testament, the story in Luke chapter 2. The word first associated with the birth of Christ is glory. We’re told that an angel appeared to shepherds tending their flocks near where Christ was born and “the glory of the Lord shone around them.” Then a host of angels joined the one angel, and they all began singing, “Glory to God in the highest.” After the shepherds found the Christ child, they left glorifying God.

Glory, not merry or merriment, seems to be the operative word when it comes to how the Scriptures would have us think of Christ’s birth. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking of the word glory and the meaning it is intended to convey relative to God.

This is a subject too deep and full of meaning for this one little commentary, but I’ll focus on this: Glory is often used in Scripture to describe God’s moral beauty and perfection and as a way of describing its visible manifestation when a bit of it breaks through into our earthly existence. Glory is perhaps the best we can do when we try to describe what shone around the shepherds.

I don’t fully understand what is meant by the glory of God, but Scripture gives us some idea. It tells us that sin is more than doing something wrong or not doing what is right but is to “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Scripture also tells us that the natural inclination of human beings is to “exchange the glory of the incorruptible God” for something less glorious and find value, worth, significance, meaning, and praise in that lesser thing.

In this regard I’m reminded of what C.S. Lewis said:

It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

In conclusion, it seems to me that by “Merry Christmas,” Christians settle for an expression that does not do Christmas justice. The phrase expresses contentment with and wishes for seasonal merriment when glory is what Christmas really offers. It is offered to all those who believe that the baby born in the manger was God incarnate, coming to provide a way by which those who had fallen short of the glory that was originally ours to enjoy—a relationship with the God of Glory—could again enjoy that relationship, both now and for eternity.

Wishing one a merry Christmas is a bit like offering people mud pies for their Christmas dessert. Wishing them a glorious Christmas? Well, that is the offer of a holiday at the sea!1

Proverbs 31 10-31-18

October 31, 2018

Diligence moves beyond how we feel to what we know needs to be done. Are we convinced that Christ is worth serving?

Proverbs 31:11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

This verse speaks of diligence. The fact that her husband has full confidence in her says much about her:

  • She is consistent in keeping her house in order (v.27)
  • She is trustworthy with their finances (v.16, 18)
  • She keeps herself (v.22b, 25),
  • She does what she can to help out monetarily (v.24), just to name a few of the ways she contributes to the household.
  • There is more, though, and I think it is the foundation of her integrity:
  • [26] She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

    We all would do well to be diligent and consistent in our walk with Jesus. Doing FOR Jesus will get us just so far. We must do WITH Jesus or we miss the whole point of salvation: Relationship!

    If we think about it, God doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. So, why does He give us tasks and instructions? It is for us to do it with Him. This verse takes on new meaning under this way of thinking:

    Zechariah 4:6b ‘Not by might nor by power, but by [with] my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.

    Let us be diligent today in walking in step with God. Let’s take His yoke upon us and work with Him as He takes the lion’s share of the load and responsibility. I promise you that we will find rest for our souls.

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

    Proverbs 30 10-30-18

    October 30, 2018

    One way God speaks to us is through others, particularly members of His Body of fellow believers. Let’s listen!

    Proverbs 30:3 I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.

    The Writer is acknowledging the fact that no matter how hard and long a person studies, he will never have complete wisdom nor full knowledge. In fact, the more we know, the more we realize how much more there is to know. The same works with wisdom.

    Robin was sharing with some friends something she is learning, and I want to share it with you (adapted):

    Concerning each day:

    Psalm 16:11 You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever!

    John 15:10-11….remain in Me… so that your joy may be complete.

    Psalm 118:24 This is the day that the Lord has made. We can rejoice and be glad in it. How? By remaining in Him and enjoying His presence and participation in each day He has made! I like to pray in the morning “I look forward to rejoicing WITH YOU in this day You have made! Here WE go….!”

    It is the next thing she shared that really got my attention:

    If we are being beat up by the “you should be ‘more’ thought bullies”, those aren’t from God. God doesn’t need us to be or do more for Him, He will take care of what and where and how each hour of each day should go. All God wants is for us to stay yoked to Him and enjoy Him. (Mt 11:28) If we are yoked to Him we cannot possibly go in a different direction than He does! Praying you “find rest for your souls” and can learn to replace the “thought bullies” with the truth and joy of His presence. The reason I share this is because God has been working on me in this area, as well. The questions I feel the Spirit is asking me (daily) are:

    1. Do I accept the fearful and wonderful way God made me (limitations and all)?

    2. Do I relax and enjoy the blessings of the life He has given me (and stop listening to the “thought bullies” saying I’m never enough)?

    3. Do I rejoice with Him in each day He has made, and heed the always specific instructions from His Spirit – and not try to do or be “more?”

    That might have been more than you wanted to know about me, but there it is anyway! Love y’all.

    I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    Proverbs 29 10-29-18

    October 29, 2018

    Our first thoughts and feelings are from our natural disposition: our flesh. THEN come the filters of the Spirit.

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

    Let’s establish a baseline:

    1. We were born with a sin nature. We were dead in our sins and have no spiritual discernment whatsoever.
    2. Christ paid the debt we could never pay and bought us back! He loves us!
    3. We who trust in Him have been crucified with Christ and He lives in us and through us. This process is learned. It is also where we live.
  • If we have no revelation from the Spirit of God either through His Word or by His Spirit, we naturally revert to our old, sinful, self-centered nature. WE ARE TALKING DAILY HERE! What we want to do is establish ourselves as His children (Romans 8:16) with an eternal relationship with Him. We serve because He served and we are extensions of Him on this earth, but our position has been changed from servant status to sonship status. Thus, the next verse becomes applicable:
  • Proverbs 29:19 A servant cannot be corrected by mere words; though he understands, he will not respond.

    We, though, DO respond to His correction because we are His children! The key is to keep ourselves responsive by setting aside our natural person and accessing our spiritual person, which is who we are in Christ. We are being transformed into His likeness!

    Our daily walk with Him is much more than “daily.” It is moment-by-moment. It is an eternal relationship. Let’s do all we can to enhance and deepen it by reading His Word (memorizing it and looking up verses whenever the Spirit brings them to mind, quoting them to others–when appropriate) and living in a constant awareness of His Presence in our lives.

    Let’s be SONS who act like servants; not servants who act like sons.

    Bonus verse:

    2 Corinthians 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

    Proverbs 28 10-28-18

    October 28, 2018

    To win the lottery…would put me in direct conflict with the plans of step-by-step dependence with my LORD. Just saying…

    Proverbs 28:25 A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.

    Another translation for dissension is conflict. When we want something for nothing, or wish for money not made by our own work and integrity, we play right into the devil’s hands. Our dependence shifts from the LORD to the world and its outlook.

    The dissension and conflict arises within ourselves as we wrestle between two worldviews and two masters. Jesus said:

    Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money [Mammon-wealth regarded as an evil influence or false object of worship and devotion. It was taken by medieval writers as the name of the devil of covetousness, and revived in this sense by Milton.]

    Today, let’s focus on what we DO have:

    • A loving relationship with the God of the universe,
    • A Savior who loves us more than His own life,
    • A Spirit that rejoices in living with us,
    • A family that extends through all time and all nations,
    • A home awaiting us that far surpasses anything this world could offer.

    Who could ask for anything more?! Let’s worship our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ today. HE alone is worthy of all power and wealth (riches) and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!

    Taken from Revelation 5:12

    Proverbs 27 10-27-18

    October 27, 2018

    There is a tension between “today” and “tomorrow” that needs constant monitoring. Only the LORD can guide us in that tension.

    Proverbs 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

    Today is what we have been given. Jesus prayed,

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

    It’s important to keep this day’s needs and responsibilities on the front burner, so to speak. Jesus gives us His grace and the calm assurance of His Presence for today.

    The problem comes when we start putting too much stock in what we have or what we can do. We, then, begin to make plans based on things staying as they are–which, nothing ever does. Jesus told this story:

    Luke 12:16-21 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

    “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

    “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

    This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

    “You fool!” Wow! Let us heed this warning! The last thing I want is to stand before God and hear Him say that to me!!! Instead, let’s be rich toward God and make today our focus. Do we plan for the future? Sure. We just need to acknowledge that circumstances may change at any moment and that God has everything under control. If we are walking in step with Him, then we will be exactly where He wants us. Will life get crazy? Absolutely, but we are having the adventure of our lives!

    The refrain of a song sums up our walk with Jesus on this earth:

    “Sometimes He calms the storm, with a whisper, “Peace, be still,” He can settle any sea, but it doesn’t mean He will.

    Sometimes He holds us close and let’s the wind and waves go wild; sometimes He calms the storm, and other times He calms His child.”

    Let’s let Him calm us today.

    Testimony:

    The first time I sang that song was just before I was diagnosed with callouses on my vocal cords, which required surgery. Talk about setting me up! God was preparing me for the wild 6 months it took to get through those “rapids.” Our walk with Him grew leaps and bounds during that time as we walked with confidence in our LORD. It makes a tough time a fond memory.

    https://youtu.be/3BMIJHZSavo

    Proverbs 26 10-26-18

    October 26, 2018

    Applying truth from God’s Word requires guidance by the Holy Spirit; we must be willing to change. Living in both worlds can’t last…

    Proverbs 26:9 Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

    We fall into habits pretty easily; we like routine. We must be careful of who is leading us. Every TV show has a lesson; every movie has a theme; every song has a message; every book has a sermon. Let’s make sure we are filling our hearts and minds–and guys, our eyes–with things that build us up in Christ. How so?

    A drunkard who is wielding a thornbush hurts himself and the people around him. Likewise, a person who says he is a Christ-follower but does not actually walk in step with Christ hurts himself AND the people close to him because they expect him to act like Christ when he does not have the power nor the desire to be like Christ. It’s a deception on both parts; first the guy who is deceiving himself and, second, those around him who depend on him. Both need to wake up!

    We can’t make a list of do’s and don’t’s. That’s not the way the Spirit works. What is right for one may be wrong for another (with the exception of foundational truths). We can trust the Spirit to ALWAYS lead us according to God’s will; it’s our interpretation of His will that worries me!

    The relationship that God wants with us is much greater and deeper and closer than we can imagine (Jeremiah 33:3). If we could wrap our minds around this truth, we would gladly follow Him, allowing Him to guide us and to teach us and to mold us and make us into the people we were always meant to be: Like Him in godliness and holiness. The sad truth is that deception is Satan’s favorite tool:

    • Can we really trust what God says (Gen. 3:4-5)?
    • Does God really have my best interests at heart?
    • Doesn’t God want me to be happy?
    • Can God really protect me?
    • Does He really know what is right for me?
    • Does He really care about me, or is He simply tolerating me?
    • What can I do for God? He doesn’t need me.
    • Does He really want to be involved in every aspect of my life? Surely not!

    But, He DOES! That’s the POINT! If we would allow Him, He would be our Best Friend.

    Let’s not be like the drunkard who deceived himself and those around him. Instead, let’s walk with Jesus, taking every step just as He tells us, and enjoy our time with Him. I promise you that He will be enjoying His time with us!

    Don’t believe me? Read Isaiah 55 and John 15.

    Proverbs 25 10-25-18

    October 25, 2018

    Growing up in Christ begins with thinking of others instead of ourselves; being available to Him is key.

    Proverbs 25:13 Like the coolness of snow at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the spirit of his masters.

    Being available to God is easy to say, but hard to do because of our natural tendency to think of ourselves first. We are so tied to how we feel that we have a hard time getting past those feelings to what He has in store for us both in tasks and in rewards.

    Dying to self is necessary for Christians to function correctly in the body of Christ and to be His extensions to this world. Consider Romans 12:

    Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

    This verse sets up the rest of the chapter as verse 2 describes the process of being living sacrifices:

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

    So, our first order of business each day is to crawl back up onto the altar. Our second order of business is to be transformed by renewing our minds with His Word (Eph. 5:26).

    Verses 3-8 talk about each of us functioning differently in the Body of Christ. He will lead each of us in our own path and equip us to do His will according to what He has planned for each of us. Let’s not be telling each other how to serve God; He’s big enough to tell us Himself–in fact, it’s imperative that we hear from Him individually. Fellowship with Him is the whole point of salvation!

    Verses 9-21 are great study verses:

    • Be sincere;
    • Cling to what is good;
    • Be devoted to one another and honor one another above ourselves;
    • Keep our zeal to serve Him;
    • Be joyful in hope;
    • Be patient in affliction;
    • Be faithful in prayer;
    • Share with each other;
    • Practice hospitality;
    • Bless those who persecute us (do NOT curse them);
    • Rejoice with those rejoicing;
    • Mourn with those who are mourning;
    • Don’t be proud;
    • Associate with all “classes;”
    • Do not repay evil for evil;
    • Make sure what we do honors Christ and people;
    • Try to live at peace–not peace at all cost, though!
    • Do not seek revenge;
    • Leave room for God to work in our enemy’s life;
    • Do not be overcome by evil;
    • Overcome evil with good!

    What a great start to serving Christ! Many of these action points gives an opportunity for us to explain why we are acting the way we are. In that opportunity, let’s give our testimony about what we were like before Christ, what Christ has done for us, and how we are now in Christ. Let them know that Jesus loves them!

    Let’s be trustworthy messengers for Christ today!

    Proverbs 24 10-24-18

    October 24, 2018

    We live in a fallen world full of sinful people. Bad things happen. But, God wants to walk with us through this life–to His!

    Proverbs 24:16 for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again,

    Our past, however ugly, is ours; it has shaped us into who we are. The Good News is that Jesus wants to transform us into who we were always meant to be: Ourselves, with Christ as our Savior and Mentor. He wants to use our testimony–who we were before Christ, how we came to Christ and why, and what Christ means to us–to reach others. Our story is our story and God will use our story to reach others. What we need to do is be intentional about sharing our story. How? I’m glad you asked!

    1. We need moral authority. In other words, our talk needs to match our walk. Make sure you are walking in step with the Lord.

    2. Have your story ready. Write it down; practice it; give it an introduction and a hook (an intriguing aspect that makes the listener want to hear more); have more to share when asked; tell them that Jesus loves them and wants to have a one-on-one relationship with them; if given the opportunity, tell them how!

    3. Ask God to give you opportunities to share your story. It typically takes seven exposures to the Gospel before someone makes a decision. Be one of the seven!

    I recommend not waiting. Otherwise, we might end up like this:

    Proverbs 24:11-12 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

    The Apostle Paul knew how to use his circumstances as his testimony:

    2 Corinthians 1:8-10 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened [or, our circumstances were such] that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,

    Paul used even the bad times as a testament to God’s power and faithfulness. We can do the same with the experiences in our own lives. Let’s be bearers of His light to a dark world. HE will guide us and speak through us. Trust Him!

    Proverbs 23 10-23-18

    October 23, 2018

    If God we’re to ask you to give up a certain thing in your life for Him, would you tell Him, “no?” Then He is not truly LORD.

    FAITH:

    Forsaking

    All

    I

    Trust

    Him

    The mocker:

    Proverbs 23:9 Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words.

    Instead, what should we do?

    Proverbs 23:12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.

    [23] Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding.

    Solomon then hits two areas in life that are in opposition to godly living (see yesterday’s lesson):

    1. Adulterous relationships (whether before or during marriage)- verses 26-28,

    2. Party drinking (alcohol)- verses 29-35.

    All the reasons in the world make no difference if Christ is calling us to “put away childish things (1 Cor. 13:11)” in order to gain a closer walk with Him.

    “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliott

    Let’s seek after truth, wisdom, instruction and insight by reading His Word and listening to what the Spirit wants to say to us. Yes, it’s THAT important!

    Jeremiah 33:3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell/show you great and unsearchable/mighty things you do not know.’

    Revelation 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is says [is saying] to the churches.

    1 Corinthians 2:10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

    [13] This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

    [16c] But we have the mind of Christ.

    Proverbs 22 10-22-18

    October 22, 2018

    Desiring to be like Christ is a sure sign of salvation; being like Christ is a sure sign of walking in step with Him.

    Proverbs 22:11 He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.

    I like to rewrite this verse to read:

    He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious [shows that he] has the king for his friend.

    Consider this analogy based on John 7:37-38 (streams of living water) and 2 Timothy 2:20-21 (vessels of gold and silver vs. wood and clay): We receive God’s love, wisdom, and instruction through a spiritual pipe that begins at His throne and is connected to our heads. At that connection is a valve; at its installation it is barely turned on (a safety feature), but is gradually increased as we grow in Christ. God’s love, wisdom and knowledge are processed through our minds, thus transforming our minds and hearts, and are then made to flow out of us to others in the forms of grace, mercy, kindness, gentleness, truth, etc. There is a valve on the out-going pipe, as well. Its setting is our responsibility. Christ directs the flow, but we determine what and how much flows out.

    The more we know of Him by spending time with Him in conversation, by reading His Word, by discussing with others, and through worship, the more access and control we have over the outgoing valve. We WANT to share Jesus and His love with everyone; we leave it to Him to tell us who and when and how. We are simply available.

    Being a vessel of gold or silver requires purity of mind and soul. Let’s make Him the Object of our affection and attention today. Let’s have FAITH:

    Forsaking

    All,

    I

    Trust

    Him.

    Proverbs 21 10-21-18

    October 21, 2018

    If we belong to God, then WE WILL look like Jesus eventually: in character and heart, in attitude and focus.

    Proverbs 21:21 He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.

    Jesus paid a great price for us in more ways than one. His blood purchased our pardon; His resurrection gave us eternal life–and all that goes with it!

    Consider the ramifications:

    • A constant cleansing from sin by His blood, Heb. 7:24-25
    • Release from the effects of sin by the presence and participation of the Spirit, 2 Cor. 4:16-18
    • Being made into the likeness of Christ by being conformed to His image, Romans 8:29
    • Moving from glory to ever-increasing glory, 2 Cor. 3:18
    • NO CONDEMNATION! Romans 8:1-2 That goes for ANYTHING we think, say, or do (but, it doesn’t eliminate the consequences during this life; only for the next).
  • It would seem that Christ took a gamble saving us that we might choose life, but then wander off to do our own thing. TRUE! But, all that are His have Him via His Spirit, and He has promised that He WILL finish what He has begun in us:
  • Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

    How? Through discipline:

    Hebrews 12:4-7 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?

    [11-13] No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

    So, let’s rejoice in our daily salvation and follow Him closely, being confident that He has us right where He wants us TODAY; tomorrow we will be even closer to home, to perfection (glorification), and HIM!

    Proverbs 20 10-20-18

    October 20, 2018

    Agreeing with God about what is sin-in our lives alone-is the first major step in learning to live righteously.

    Proverbs 20:27 The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being.

    Two things:

  • 1. God knows our hearts, every thought and intent, every shadow and deep, dark recess. Look at these verses:
  • Psalms 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
  • Jeremiah 11:20a But, O LORD Almighty, you who judge righteously and test the heart and mind,
  • Jeremiah 12:3a Yet you know me, O LORD; you see me and test my thoughts about you.
  • 1 Chronicles 29:17a I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.
  • Luke 5:22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?”
  • Revelation 2:23b Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds,
  • 2. God has forgiven us! He has paid our debt, canceling our sin and the consequences it bears on our soul. FOREVER!
  • What does this mean?! It means:
  • Romans 8:1-2 Therefore, NO CONDEMNATION!!! For those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

    Jesus and His blood that is on the heavenly altar intercedes for us from now on:

    Hebrews 7:25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

    So, what do we do with verses like:

    2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

    I read this passage (verses 6-10) as Paul making a case for everyone living forever, either in heaven or in hell. Much of the teaching in Corinth was, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die,” thus referring to the belief that there is no afterlife. Drop this passage on top of:

    Revelation 20:12-15 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

    Here is what I see: If a person is not a Christ Follower, his/her name is NOT found written in the book of life. This person is judged according to his works–which were all evil because they were not Spirit-led or Spirit-empowered.

    If a person IS a follower of Jesus and his/her name IS written in the book of life, then we get this response from Jesus:

    Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

    Since our sins have been separated from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalms 103:12), we have this promise:

    Psalms 103:11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;

    There is one more passage that convinces me that our judgment is gone:

    1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

    Any teaching, rebuking, correcting and training we receive from Christ is through His Word (either written or spoken or lived out) in this life. There is NO NEED once we reach heaven (based on 2 Timothy 3:16-17)!

    Let’s rejoice in His perfect love and in His perfect sacrifice for us. We are, indeed, grateful!

    Proverbs 19 10-19-18

    October 19, 2018

    If we apply God’s Word to our lives, we will receive His Power and Presence to carry it out. His will over ours.

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

    Folly is doing something contrary to God’s design and will. He has made His will plainly available to us in His Word. His Will for us is to walk in step with Him enjoying close fellowship with Him, being obedient to His direction, and encouraging others to do the same.

    Our society is caught up in self-gratification to the point that we live isolated lives doing our own thing. God calls us as His Body to live in unity and close fellowship with each other. The only thing we get to take to heaven is our relationships. I reckon we’d better work on them!

    Being One In Christ:

    1. A Holy Desire-God wants us to be one even as He and Christ are One (John 17:20-23); we can be one through His Spirit (Eph. 4:3)!
    2. A Biblical Desire-God states in His Word that He wants us to be unified in Him (John 14:20, 17:23).
    3. A True Desire-The Spirit gives us His desire to be One in Him (1 Cor. 12:12-13, Eph. 4:13).
  • We are required to set aside our personal desires (our folly) and seek the Spirit’s desires: What is He telling you about Him, His Word, His Body (the Church), and His Mission?
  • READ, READ, READ HIS WORD!!! Then, follow His instructions. Let’s be doers of the Word and not hearers only, and let’s fellowship together in a way that the world will be drawn to Christ.
  • Proverbs 18 10-18-18

    October 18, 2018

    When we speak unlovingly to or judgmentally about others, we presume to be above that person. We are NOT!

    Proverbs 18:1 An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he against all sound judgment starts quarrels.

    This chapter is our monthly reminder to “set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalms 141:3. What we say and how we say it gives shape and weight to our feelings–which are controlled by our physical and mental states, and those are subject to all kinds of variations. If we can place a “pause” between what we feel and what we say and run our words through some biblical filters, then we will be a long way down the road to godliness. Remember: If we change the way we think, we can change the way we feel. –Beth Moore

    Let’s look at some filters:

    Proverbs 18:2 A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. We can find wisdom even in fools’ mouths (sometimes it’s in learning what NOT to do). We are to care for the person even if we don’t value his/her opinion.

    [8] The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts. Sharing our opinions about others is DANGEROUS! Unless we are directly involved and the other person is directly involved AND we have permission from the person about whom we are talking, it is not our place to say anything. Jesus warns us,

    Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    Realistically, we have NO IDEA how we would react in any given situation, so we cannot say, “We’ll, I would have____________.” If the person was following the Spirit’s leading, then–if we are in step with the Spirit–we would have done EXACTLY as they did. We need to get over ourselves!

    One more:

    Proverbs 18:13 He who answers before listening— that is his folly and his shame. Even though this verse reeks of pride, let’s consider it differently in that a person can forecast the outcome of a situation out of fear and insecurity as well as laziness and pride. The idea is to not tell God how things will turn out. He may have something wonderfully surprising in store! We Christians should live with the phrase, “I didn’t see that coming!” as our mantra. Walking in step with the Lord means that He is involved in our lives and in those around us. Expect God-things to happen.

    Let’s use this verse as our life-verse for the day:

    Proverbs 18:20 From the fruit of our mouths [our] stomach is filled; with the harvest from our lips [we are] satisfied.

    Let’s make sure to have God-controlled speech today. We will be amazed at how much we will learn about godliness!

    Proverbs 17 10-17-18

    October 17, 2018

    The goal of our lives is peace: Inner peace with God first, and then sharing peace to others. Circumstantial peace is unpredictable.

    Proverbs 17:1 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.

    Since inner peace comes first, let’s start with the basics. Christ gives us His peace.

    John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

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

    Luke 24:36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.

    We lean on this peace. We hold it as precious. Would that we allowed it to permeate our being everyday.

    What brings peace? Paul said that rejoicing in the Lord will, as well as conversing with Him:

    Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    So, now we have inner peace. What about sharing peace with others–especially those in our own household?

    The key word in the Philippians passage is “gentleness.” We must work to let our gentleness be known to all beginning with our Jerusalem (our own homes), Judea (our daily/weekly place of employment and interaction, which is work and church), Samaria (our neighborhood) and the world.

    Much of the study on Love and Respect in relationships is built on being gentle with each other. We are gentle with that which is fragile; many times our friendships should be treated this way. We are gentle with that which is valuable; our relationships are ALWAYS worth treating them gently.

    Let’s ask God to help us be gentle today: kind eyes, soft tones, loving touches, and an attitude that treats others as higher than ourselves (Phil. 2:3).

    Let’s be Christ to everyone!

    Bonus Passage:

    Ephesians 4:2-3 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.