Proverbs 15 3-15-20

Concerning the Coronavirus: A result of the Curse and sin in our world. Where is your trust? Is it in the LORD?

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

Nothing gets by God. This virus didn’t take God by surprise. Nor, do I think that it is the judgement of God–except in a general fashion. Sin carries its own judgement through its consequences. We must remember that we all have sinful tendencies:

ARROGANCE–> REBELLION–> SIN–> DESTRUCTION

When David was being pursued by Saul and evil men were keeping Saul updated of David’s whereabouts, he prayed/sang this prayer, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise; in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4. In other words, what can happen in this life that God doesn’t know about or can’t control the outcome? If even hell lies open before the LORD, how much more do our lives!

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced the trial of the fiery furnace. Their response to the threat was this:

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

The lesson of the Furnace is:

  1. Many times we are delivered from the fire = Our faith is built.
  2. Many times we are delivered through the fire = Our faith is refined.
  3. One time, we will be delivered by the fire (straight into the arms of Jesus)= Our faith will be perfected. [from Beth Moore-DANIEL]

In any of these circumstances, we can be assured that we are His and He takes care of His own. Consider this:

  1. If we avoid getting the virus, we praise God for His grace. We minister to those who do get it and encourage the fearful.
  2. If we get the virus, we praise God for the opportunity to spend some serious time with Him in our down time. We read His Word, pray, watch inspiring shows on tv, read inspiring books and magazines, stay in contact with people via internet as we encourage the fearful, etc. We enjoy His company! Also, don’t forget to be thankful and gracious to those who serve you while you are sick.
  3. If we die from the virus, what better fate awaits us than heaven and the presence of our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ?!!!

As we can see, this virus is a win/win/win situation for Christians! Let’s use these circumstances to show the world what it is like to walk with Christ in confidence. May people ask us why we are not afraid, and may we tell them the three reasons listed above for our confidence. We have FAITH in God; we TRUST Him with our lives. It’s that simple.

That being said, let’s consider prudence: Many people have extenuating circumstances that need to take extra precautions. They are not necessarily acting out of fear, but out of wisdom. Here again, it comes down to the leading of the Spirit: What is HE telling us/them to do?

I pray that we all have a great day of fellowship with the LORD. I hope to see you at church. If not, we stream our service on Facebook and YouTube. Either way, have CHURCH wherever you are!

Abba, I pray for Your church today that we take courage in our confidence in You. You are Sovereign LORD. May we never forget that! I look forward to singing and praising You with my fellow Christians today; I look forward to praying with them and for them, studying Your Word together in haverim (the uniting of the Spirit in fellowship), carrying each other’s burdens, and ministering to each other in myriad ways. May it be a great day of lifting up the name of Jesus! Amen.

The Sacrifice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Soon, Joseph, soon.”

 

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

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

Proverbs 14 2-14-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

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

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

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

Proverbs 19 1-19-20

What we believe determines how we interpret events in our lives. Is God interactive in our day-to-day lives?

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

The Spirit is constantly teaching us. He shows us great and mighty things in His Word; He reveals truth to us as we listen to people and observe events; He speaks to us through others as they share what He has revealed to them. The determining factor is how we are interpreting His teaching. As I see it, we have two filters:

Filter #1: Our own filter. WE are on the throne of our lives and WE make the final decision of what we believe to be true; WE decide what we want and what’s good for us. The problem with this filter is that we simply don’t know enough to make a logical, rational decision about anything. We don’t know the detailed and current (like, that day) history behind events or people; we don’t know what people are thinking; we certainly don’t know the future. How can we make an intelligent decision about anything? There are  two verses earlier in the chapter that apply:

2 Desire without knowledge is not good–how much more will hasty feet miss the way! I get a mental image of a young dog on a long leash…

3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD. Somehow, it always winds up being God’s fault–or someone else’s fault, but never the person’s fault…

Filter #2: We allow God to be God in the world and in our lives. We trust that no matter what happens, HE is in control and will guide us through it, using us as He sees fit as witnesses for Him and testaments to His grace and glory. Even our deaths can bring Him glory! Jesus is using us to reach others, and that involves risk. He said that He would never leave us or forsake us and would carry us to His side. Let’s let that be our goal. There are two verses in today’s chapter that apply:

21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Let’s make His plans our plans.

23 The fear of the LORD leads to [true and everlasting] life; then one rests content [in the outcome], untouched [not bothered by] by trouble. Even death doesn’t scare us because we have a wonderful future in store for us on the other side!

Let’s “study to show ourselves approved, workmen who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing and correctly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15. We will find that our faith grows much faster if we apply ourselves to learning His Word even as He reveals His will to us through His Word.

Abba, as we worship in our respective houses of worship today with our friends and family, may we focus on You and Your love for us, and Your plans for us. May today be all about YOU. Help us to use the correct filter as we study Your Word and hear from You through our pastors. “Speak to our hearts, Lord Jesus, speak that our souls may hear.” I am listening. Amen.

Proverbs 28 12-28-19

Trust Christ and quit trying to live life on your own. What’s the point in being a Follower if you’re not following?

18 The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe,
    but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into the pit.

Let’s rephrase this verse: The one who walks with the Master is kept safe at Jesus’ side, but the one whose ways are all about themselves, doing things their way, have already fallen into a trap.

What kind of trap? The trap of self-dependence. We were never designed to act independently of the Spirit. Sin did that to us. Now, it is our job to quit doing things on our own and start allowing the Spirit to show us how to do things, to live life according to the Spirit.

26 Those who trust in themselves are fools,
    but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe and will prosper.

If we say, “I’m saved and that’s enough,” then we are missing out on the whole reason for salvation, which is to fellowship with the LORD, through which we learn holiness. There is a lot to be learned in this world that will apply to the next world. What and how, I’m not sure, yet, but I’m studying hard to find out! How about you?

Let’s suppose that you are on a long flight and the pilot says to you, “Come up here to the cockpit and I’ll show you how to fly a 747.” You agree and you both head up to the cockpit. You strap in and he begins to tell you what to do. As he does so, he explains what each button, lever and switch does. He explains the screens and what you’re seeing. You feel the monster of a plane reacting to your commands; you feel the mighty power at your fingertips and you’re hooked! The pilot turns to you and asks, “Would you like to fly with me and become my co-pilot?” How would you answer?

  1. “Sure! What do I do next?” He hands you a manual and says, “Let’s start by reading chapter one: ‘What Makes a Good Pilot.'”
  2. “No thanks. I’m content to ride in the back.”

Many Christians are content to “ride in the back” through life. They miss out on the relationship, the interaction, the connection with the Pilot of life, Jesus Christ. Let’s not be this kind of Christian. Instead, let’s pick up that manual–the BIBLE–and head to the cockpit with the Lord Jesus and learn to fly!

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good [His words], and you will delight in the richest of fare. Isaiah 55:2

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

Abba, sitting down with You each day and reading Your Word is the highlight of my day. Unlocking the secrets stored up in each book, each chapter, even each verse is exciting! I love to read with the understanding that You give, which has come over time, time spent in Your Word when understanding didn’t come easily. But, as I experienced life and You called verses to mind, I began to apply Your lessons to my life. THEN I understood why it is important to “study to show myself approved (2 Tim. 2:15).” I must know the material before I can work on applying it with Your guidance. Keep teaching me, LORD. I have SO MUCH to learn! Amen.

Proverbs 22 11-22-19

As Christians, are we ready for “hard times”? Do we really lean on Him for life and strength? It’s important to know now.

4 Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.

In the Old Testament, it was all about obedience. Their relationship with the LORD was not nearly what God had in mind. People associated worldly blessings of health, riches and long life with God’s blessing. Little did they know that those things are always a means to an end and that each person’s health, riches and life span are determined by several factors, not the least being God’s plan for each person (also included are a person’s willingness and other people’s decisions).

The New Testament, though, is about God coming to live INSIDE each person. We become little mobile temples where God resides! On the day Jesus died–at the very moment He breathed his last– the veil in the temple was torn in two. From all I’ve read, this veil was 30 feet wide and 30 feet tall and about six inches thick. To tear this veil would have taken modern machinery (or a lot of animals yoked together), Yet it was torn from the top to the bottom. The significance of this event is displayed 52 days later at the Feast of Pentecost:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4

  1. This “place” was probably Solomon’s colonnade, which was an area of steps with columns; each place between the columns was called a “room.” This area was to the side of the court of the Gentiles and led to the marketplace. A strategic place for the Holy Spirit to come upon them, yes?
  2. Look at who all were there (1:13-14): The disciples and other men along with the women who went with Jesus and cared for the group’s needs (Mark 15:41). Mary, Jesus’ mother is mentioned as well as Jesus’ brothers (James and Jude and the others).
  3. They ALL were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in someone’s native language (v.6)–women included! The men went to the men’s court while the women went to the women’s court, both of which would be just past the Gentile court, which would have been filled, too. That is, if they even got out of the Gentile court…!
  4. The correlation has been drawn concerning the tongues of fire with the pillar of fire that was above the Israelites in the wilderness. That cloud by day and pillar of fire by night was the presence of God with the Israelites. ALL of them would have gotten the correlation, especially if it formed above them and then split into little flames that came to rest on each of them: 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

The point I would like to make from this event is THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD WAS IN EACH OF THEM. Salvation is NOT a decision we make with our heads; it’s a response to an invitation to come–or, rather, a request to enter. Without the Holy Spirit making Himself known through conviction, and many times a true presence, there is nothing we can do concerning salvation. With conviction comes our own conviction to give ALL to Christ. If left to our own decision, then we could be saved without giving up everything–and that’s what it takes to be saved.

What would happen if, instead of telling someone all the benefits of being saved, we told them how hard it was going to be, but that it is well worth it to have Jesus in them? Then, instead of asking them to pray a prayer, we instructed them to get alone, to fall on their knees and begin to give God everything as each idol, stronghold, and pet sin came to mind? What if we told them to cry out to God for His mercy until they felt Him come in and save them? Indeed, we would have fewer salvations, but the ones we got would be REAL!!! We would know it and they would know it!

I pray you have had an encounter with the LORD Jesus through His Spirit. I pray that You feel His presence in your life and that He talks to you through prayer, His Word, other Christians, and through circumstances. Our constant use and participation in these areas are true evidence of salvation.

Abba, may we take back the kingdom through bold witnessing and by turning up the fire, so to speak, on how a person gets saved. It has been watered down through the past century to the point that culture has crept into Your church. As our world becomes more and more polarized concerning Christianity, I pray that You will call us out as bold ambassadors for You. I look at what you have done in China and ask for that same boldness. I don’t ask for hard times, Abba, but I am ready for them thanks to You. May Your will be done. Amen.

Proverbs 17 10-17-19

Want to know what is in your heart? Give God time; He’ll show you.

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

We have a society that loves to commit to teams, groups, activities, studies, etc. and then grows weary, becomes bored, figures out it takes too much time and effort, or is offered a more interesting team, group, activity, study, etc. and quits the first for the second.

We have churches with people who love Jesus, but don’t know Him well enough to commit to Him. They are part of the church and will come occasionally, but family, vacations, work, games, etc. keep them out more than they are in.

We have Christians who claim to know Christ, but are not interested in taking the time each day to read His Word, to apply it to their lives, and to learn to hear His voice. Instead, they trust their own logic, their own fears, and their own–well, to put it bluntly, arrogance.

I can’t judge people’s salvation, but I often wonder if these people really have a working, walking relationship with the Savior. There’s one way to find out, and that is to be tested. We live in a fallen world and we all will face sickness, accidents, physical failure, and death. We live with fallen people and will face strife, adversity, relational failure, desertion, and even hatred–and that’s just from our families! WE WILL BE TESTED. Does God bring them on? He certainly has that right as Omnipotent God, but I think in His Omniscience, He sees our future and what is coming; He tries to prepare us for it, even avoid it if we will listen; still, He promises to walk with us through whatever it is.

What we must remember is that this life is all about our relationship with Him. He uses whatever comes our way to get us to interact with Him. As long as we live life on our terms, avoid consulting Him, ignore Him and His direction, and relegate Him to times of desperation, we miss the point of salvation. In fact, salvation may not have happened, yet.

Jesus was quite clear that to become His disciple, we must give up everything. NOW. When He asks.

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross [die to self] daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

When He says, “follow me,” He means like His disciples did: they left their families, their work, and their homes and went with Jesus. How many Christians have actually done that? Have you? Until that happens, we are untested. Until we are tested, we don’t truly know. Faith is a gift; it is based upon belief + action. The “gift” part is that God comes to us and says, “Do you trust me? Take My hand and come with me.” Our part is to take His hand and go with Him. It may be getting out of the boat on choppy waters; it may be into a fiery furnace; it may even be into a kangaroo court. Wherever it is, interacting with Him is worth more than ANYTHING in this world.

Forsaking All, I Trust Him.” This is the acronym of FAITH. Are you there, yet?

Abba, I know I’m preaching to the choir, but we all need to be reminded that it’s all about You and knowing You. Please continue to make Yourself known to me. If adversity, trial, and calamity are in my future, I KNOW You will carry me through them; please redeem them through Your grace by using them to refine me like silver, like fine gold. Purify my heart, O Lord. I want to be like YOU. Amen.