Proverbs 4 7-4-20

What better gift to give America than REVIVAL?  She has seen several before; why not again? Let us PRAY FOR REVIVAL!

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
    shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
    they do not know what makes them stumble.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.

Picking up where we left off yesterday, God “is looking for a few good men”–and women, “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9a). All it takes is a few people praying to spark a revival. The timing is up to the LORD. We just need to be faithful, willing, ardent, and compliant to the Spirit of God.

If the Spirit were to fall on Brookwood this Sunday, would you be a willing party to it? We must consider the ramifications of revival in our lives. We are talking a changed perspective, here. Any plans that we may have had go out the window as He takes charge of the room–and our lives. Are you good with that?

Why not begin to orient your life to receive “the fire of the Holy Spirit” now? We can:

  1. Increase our time of Bible study and prayer. Ask God to call you to this time with Him. We cannot generate this desire on our own–but I KNOW that Jesus desires us to desire Him, and the Holy Spirit wants to, as well. As the Spirit takes control of us, we begin to desire what He desires, which is time fellowshipping with Christ. It really is that simple. Allow Him to give you His desires.
  2. Re-arrange our priorities, even to the point of suspending some things indefinitely. What is it in your life that if you gave it up for a season, it would free you up for more personal time with the LORD? THAT’S what I would start with.
  3. Begin to talk about revival with others.
    1. Could it come as it has before?
    2. Would we be ready for it or would it catch us off-guard?
    3. Would we like to be ready for it, or are we content with the way things are?
  4. Take on the attitude of determination: Meet, pray, sing, pray, cry out to God, teach, pray, admonish, pray, exhort, beg the Father to send His fire down upon us to move, to stir, to awaken the spiritually sleeping and raise the spiritually dead, to show signs and wonders, to send dreams and visions, and to break down cultural barriers, financial barriers and “racial” barriers.

Revival is serious business. It is heaven on earth. Jesus taught His disciples to pray for revival“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). B.B. McKinney wrote a beautiful hymn about revival:

Send a revival O Christ my Lord
Let it go over the land and sea
Send it according to Thy dear Word
And let it begin in me

Chorus:
Lord send a revival
Lord send a revival
Lord send a revival
And let it begin in me

Send a revival among Thine own
Help us to turn from our sins away
Let us get nearer the Father’s throne
Revive us again we pray – Chorus

Send a revival to those in sin
Help them, O Jesus, to turn to Thee
Let them the new life in Thee begin
Oh give them the victory – Chorus

Send a revival in every heart
Draw the world nearer O Lord to Thee
Let the salvation true joy impart
And let it begin in me – chorus

Revival is the BLESSING of God, which is His presence with and in us: “Immanuel” (God with us).  Included in revival is the HOPE of God, which is what He has in store for us! Let’s get our eyes off this world and back on the Savior.

LORD, may I be first to take my own words to heart. Just writing this post took considerable effort. Thank You for calling me to do it, for empowering me to do it, and for encouraging me to actually sit down and do it! May my readers be encouraged to do the same as they consider spending more time with You. Amen.

Proverbs 3 7-3-20

In 1949, on the Isle of Lewis, two older ladies began a prayer meeting that led to a great revival in Hebrides Islands.

Chapter 3 is a Revivalist Handbook! Let’s walk through it:

1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
    and bring you peace and prosperity.

Understanding that OT teaching was that righteous people were blessed materially–one that Jesus countermanded, we DO believe that we are blessed spiritually by following the admonition of verse 1. The seeds of revival begin when God’s people turn their attention to the Word of God and begin to apply the commands of the LORD to our lives.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
    bind them around your neck,
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
    in the sight of God and man [generally speaking].

In order for those seeds to grow, we must water them with action. This action cannot be determined by us, nor can we generate “good works” that bring revival. We must lay our lives at the foot of the throne of grace and wait. In His time, He will tell us what the next step is.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

These verses are the crux of revival. When we are willing to trust Him entirely, THEN and ONLY then will revival begin to grow in our hearts.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
    and nourishment to your bones.

Pride is the enemy of revival. Our pride will keep those seeds from growing every time.

Honor the Lord with your wealth,
    with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
    and your vats will brim over with new wine.

One of the main culprits of warding off revival is the love of money. It is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Once we are willing to lay all on the altar, the rest of our lives follows pretty quickly.

11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    as a father the son he delights in.

In order for revival to come to our lives, we must endure the LORD’s discipline. In fact, we must embrace it, want it, even cry out for it. WE NEED CORRECTION. The next verses tell us where we find the what and how:

13 Blessed are those who find wisdom,
    those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
    and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies;
    nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
    in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
    and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
    those who hold her fast will be blessed.

Wisdom is seeing from God’s perspective. Understanding is…well, understanding what we are seeing. We ONLY gain God’s perspective by reading/knowing His Word. We MUST KNOW what He has said in order to know what He desires of us. The Spirit will confirm God’s will concerning what we read. Even our prayers must be scripturally based.

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
    by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
    and the clouds let drop the dew.

Want to know what God’s thinking? What He’s up to? What He wants of us? READ HIS WORD!

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
    preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
    an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
    and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
    when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
    or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be at your side
    and will keep your foot from being snared.

James tells us to draw near to God and He will draw near to us (James 4:8). Read with the awareness of His nearness, His desire to open our minds, His presence, out of which flows love, joy, peace, hope, grace, knowledge, understanding, and discernment–WISDOM!

NOW comes the nitty gritty part, the part where His word tells us where to begin in order for us to make our hearts ready for revival:

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
    when it is in your power to act
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
    “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
    when you already have it with you.

In other words, be up-front and honorable in your business dealings.

29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
    who lives trustfully near you.
30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason—
    when they have done you no harm.

Be the trustworthy neighbor. “Let your light shine before men so that they will see your good deeds (being trustworthy) and will glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

31 Do not envy the violent
    or choose any of their ways.

Do not mimic the ways of evil people. Instead, choose godly role models and learn from them.

32 For the Lord detests the perverse
    but takes the upright into his confidence.
33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
    but he blesses the home of the righteous.
34 He mocks proud mockers
    but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.
35 The wise inherit honor,
    but fools get only shame.

These verses remind us that God is still active in our world. He is looking for people who are seeking His heart:

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9a

All it takes is a few people praying to spark a revival. The timing is up to the LORD. We just need to be faithful, willing, ardent, and compliant to the Spirit of God.

We will talk more about this subject of revival tomorrow. In the meantime, pray with me for Him to give us clean hands and pure hearts. Pray this prayer with me:

Dear Lord, we come before You in repentance for having proud hearts and dirty hands. We have done things our way for so long that our way seems right, feels right, and even looks right. But, when we read Your Word, we find that none of us is righteous unto ourselves. WE NEED YOU, Your guidance, Your correction, even Your rebuke. Give us clean hands and pure hearts, O God (Psalm 24:4). Renew a right spirit within us (Psalm 51:10). “Show us Your ways, LORD, teach us Your paths. Guide us in Your truth and teach us, for You are God our Savior, and our hope is in You all day long (Psalm 25:4).” “My heart says of you, ‘Seek His face!’ Your face, LORD, I will seek (Psalm 27:8).” Begin now to work revival into our souls, O God. We need to be desperate for a new and fresh moving of Your Spirit in our hearts and across this land. Amen.

Proverbs 2 7-2-20

Do we WANT to “walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous?” Are we Spirit-led?

20 Thus you will walk in the ways of the good
    and keep to the paths of the righteous.

Abba, I pray for my readers today that they would find within them Your motivation to seek You. May Your Spirit urge them to “look for you as for silver and search for you as for hidden treasure” (v.4).

I pray for Your conviction of sin in their lives, that as You shine the light of Your grace on those areas that they would willingly acknowledge them (for You both know what they are) and then release them to You. May they look to You for strength to deal with them and for ways to set those guard rails back far enough that they are not tempted in those areas (I’m including myself in this prayer, LORD!).

I pray that You will give them a hunger for your Word and a thirst for Your Presence. They go hand-in-hand! May we learn Your words and then learn to speak them in situations. One in particular that I am going to use, Jesus, is John 14:27, particularly the part about the peace you give us. Help me weave it into conversations, LORD.

As for Your presence, may we get to the point that we look for You and to You concerning everything. Help us to be completely and totally dependent on You for knowledge, insight, discernment, prudence, wisdom (seeing from Your perspective), instruction, and discretion–heavy on discretion! “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD, keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not let my heart be drawn (in)to what is evil…” Psalm 141:2-4a.

May You kindle a fire in each of my readers to seek fellowship with other believers. You designed us to be social. We are all parts of Your Body; we are together the Bride of Christ; we are individually and collectively Your New Temple. Help us to remember these realities and overcome our tendencies to withdraw and remain aloof.

May You place within us the desire for others to know You as we know You. May You call us to join You as You work in our familys’ lives, our friends’ lives, our co-workers’ lives, and even strangers’ lives. May we be witnesses for You and “be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have–with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). 

Lastly, LORD, I ask that You would ramp up Your love, joy and peace that flow from You as we draw close to You in prayer and Bible study, both individually and collectively. Make our time with You extra special. We are counting on it!

We love You, LORD, and we pledge ourselves to You once again. May today be special because we are walking with You. We give all we know of us to all we know of You. May we trade our opinions for Your opinions, our will for Your will, our feelings for Your feelings, our life for Your life, etc. Live through us even as we die to ourselves. Now, to You be all the praise, all the honor, and all the glory, LORD Jesus. Thank You, Abba. Holy Spirit, speak to our hearts. Amen.

Proverbs 1 7-1-20

The point of John’s letter is not for us to doubt if we are the LORD’s, but to verify that we are His!

Verify-
1. to prove the truth of, as by evidence or testimony; confirm; substantiate.
2. to ascertain the truth or correctness of, as by examination, research, or       comparison.
3. to act as ultimate proof or evidence of; serve to confirm.

1 John 5:1-11 can be summed up in this way:

  1. We love God because He first loved us (4:10).
  2. Because God loves us, we trust Him when He tells us that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One (Matthew 3:17).
  3. Believing God enough to trust Him with our lives is His command for us (John 6:29).

When we love God and have His Spirit within us, we know that He loves His children; we want to be like Him, so we learn to love His children, as well. This motivation is the key element that drives the children of God. It overrides even our deepest hatreds and resentments. Why? Because we have a new heart; our old hearts were replaced with new ones when Christ entered into our lives. His Spirit gives us both the desire and the power to love His children like He loves them:

  1. with patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control;
  2. by always telling the truth, but done in love and gentleness;
  3. by humbly holding each other accountable concerning sin in our lives;
  4. By always striving and never giving up (we may grow tired, but He gives us the strength we need when we need it).

The testimony of God is this: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son, Jesus Christ (v.11).

Verse 12 gives us Salvation Test #10:

12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Test #10 Do you have Jesus in your heart and life?

As I said at the beginning, the point of John’s letter is not for us to doubt if we are the LORD’s, but to verify that we are His!

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

If we trust Jesus everyday to lead us and to teach us, then these tests reinforce our relationship with Him. People who doubt their salvation have not learned to trust the Father-through the Son-via the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. It’s time to put verses 14-15 into practice and approach God asking for our brothers and sisters to learn to trust Him. Verses 16-17 tell us to lead each other out of sin and into life. We can do that.

There is one more Salvation test and it has to do with verse 18: “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.”

Test #11 When you sin, do you feel conviction from the Spirit?

Jesus gives conviction, not condemnation. He is always specific, never general. He encourages; He never discourages. But, we MUST do what He says. We must trust Him enough to believe He has our best interests at heart. He IS God, ya know!

Verses 19-21 give us an overview of our Christian walk:

  1. Satan is in control of this earth.
  2. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world.
  3. We have come to understand that our citizenship is in heaven with Him (Philippians 3:20-21).
  4. We trust in God alone and we forsake idols (they draw us away from trusting God).

Our Mantra: Jesus First

Folks, we MUST remind ourselves of God’s truths everyday. We must recite them until we know them so well that we never doubt them. Are you willing to put in the time to know them that well? I sure hope so! I pray that you do.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would seek Your face everyday in Your graphe (the written word), so that they may logos (know, comprehend, understand) their source of power (God) against their enemy (the devil). May they use the rhema (spoken word of God) to its fullest advantage by memorizing Scripture and then quoting it during temptation, during trials and tribulations, during praise and adoration, during good times and bad, during celebration and tragedy. May we learn to plunge the dagger of Your Word into the proverbial chest of the enemy. Make it so, LORD Jesus, make it so! Amen.

 

 

Proverbs 30 6-30-20

If we could let go of our own feelings long enough to feel the love God has for others, it would transform us!

5 Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.

IF every word of God is flawless;
IF He shields those who take refuge in Him;
IF His word says, “God is love” (1 John 4:8 and 16b), THEN we can trust that God loves us.

IF He has asked us to believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, THEN we must take Him at His word that Jesus IS God’s Son.

IF Jesus came to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10), THEN we must accept that all of humanity has value: HIS value, the value He placed on us by dying for us.

IF Jesus died for all people, THEN we must love them as He loves them.

There are several truths in our passage for today of 1 John 4:7-21.

  1. God is love (v.8).
  2. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins (v.10).
  3. God lives in us (v.12).
  4. He has given us of His Spirit (v.13).
  5. In this world we are like Jesus (v.17) because we have compassion on the lost (Matthew 9:36).
  6. We love because He first loved us (v.19); remember that we are like Jesus.
  7. Anyone who loves God loves their brother and sister (v.21) not just in words or speech, but with actions and in truth (3:18).

We have the promise in 4:13 that He will give us of His Spirit so that we can rely on His love for us (verse 16a) to receive all that we need in order to accomplish His will, which is for us to love one another:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

We know that we are God’s children because we love like Him. It is this love and compassion that verifies that we belong to Him. John makes this very point:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you  may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13

If we link 4:9 and 5:14 together, we get:

This is how God showed His love to us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Jesus as we approach God in confidence, knowing that God hears us when we pray according to His will, which is for us to believe that He is God, that God is love, and that He wants the best for all mankind, but loves us enough to give us the choice of believing Him enough to trust Him and obey Him or not.

It’s a one-time choice of trust unto salvation, and a daily choice of obedience unto fellowship with Him.

John knew what he was talking about because he walked with Jesus three years in the flesh and then for many years with Him in his heart. If we want God and His love to consume us, then we can’t hold anything back that would keep Him from filling every nook and cranny of our hearts. Let’s give our all to God through Jesus with the help of the Spirit everyday!

Abba, I struggle with areas of my life, but my heart I give to You each day–sometimes several times a day. I keep fixing my eyes on You, only to tear them away to look at things in this world. May I learn to see this world through my peripheral vision and to keep You as the center of my attention. May I see people through Your eyes with the compassion You feel toward them. Make me like You, LORD. That’s my prayer today (and everyday). Amen.

Proverbs 29 6-29-20

We are our own worst enemy. All the devil has to do is mention something we like and we’re off!

6 Evildoers are snared by their own sin, but he righteous shout/sing for joy and are glad.

Satan doesn’t make us do anything. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit living in us. The only way he can influence us is if we give him permission. How do we do that? By believing him over Jesus. That’s effectively what we do when we choose his option of sin over the LORD’s option of righteousness. Hence, Salvation Test #9:

Test #9 Do we believe God enough to do what He says?

1 John 3:24 says, “The one who keeps God’s commands lives in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us.”

Let’s review: God’s command to us is to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ (John 6:29), and to love one another as He commanded us (John 13:34-35). But, how do we tell who is whispering to us? By testing the spirits! Whether it’s a real person who is giving us bogus information or a devil whispering in our ears, they still have to pass this test:

Do they acknowledge that Jesus is who He says He is
and did what He said He would do?

Now, this is not one of the Salvation tests. It’s to be able to tell the voice of God from all the other voices that vie for our attention. 1 John 4:2 says, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus [for who He is and what He has done] is not from God.” Jesus came in the flesh to be the sin sacrifice for us on the cross; three days later, He rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of the Father (Acts 5:30-31).

Because of the Spirit of Jesus Christ Who lives in our hearts, we have overcome any spirit that would otherwise control us (1 John 4:4). All we have to do is believe that Jesus is the Answer for us today. Nothing else. Just Him. Let’s choose Him and His option for righteousness believing that He has something much better–NOW and in store for us–than this world has to offer. His PEACE and PRESENCE are worth more than all the possessions and thrills this world can afford!

Abba, I pray that You will drive the lesson of believing You deep in our hearts. Each time we sin, please hammer this lesson home again. Thank You that You do not hold our sin against us anymore, but You use it to teach us to trust You. Wow! That’s huge!!! Teach us to trust You WITHOUT sinning first. Then, we truly will be good, righteous and holy (Ephesians 5:9). More of You, less of us, LORD. Amen.

proverbs 28 6-28-20

Today’s is different. It’s personal. There is ONE command to keep: Believe Jesus. That’s it. There is nothing else.

1 The wicked flee though no one pursues,
    but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

What we believe makes all the difference in what we fear. When we believe Jesus, we have nothing to fear. In the next chapter, we are going to read, “God is love. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.”  How does that work?

We need to look at what Jesus said, what He did, and what He promised. He said to believe Him (John 10:37-38), and to believe IN Him (John 11:25 is one example).

  1. Jesus is life- Our job is to believe in the one God sent (John 6:29).
  2. Jesus gives life:
    1. To Jairus’ daughter Mark 5:35-37.
    2. To the woman at the well John 4:13-14.
    3. Living water to all who believe in Him John 7:37-38.
  3. He has power over life and death- That He would be killed, but would rise on the third day Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:22-23, Matthew 20:17-19.
  4. His life for our life- Our sins are forgiven because of His sacrifice Luke 24:26-27 (we’ll come back to this one), Acts 2:38, Romans 8:1-2, Hebrews 7:24-25.
  5. In Him we have eternal Life- He is coming back to get us! John 14:1-3, Revelation 22:7, 12.
  6. He commands us to follow Him. Doing whatever. Wherever. Whenever. John 21:22b.

If we believe Jesus, we know that we have passed from death to life 1 John 3:14a. Let’s believe Him when:

  1. We don’t like each other very much.
  2. Our hearts condemn us. (we can’t believe our hearts–it lies to us Jeremiah 17:9).
  3. We get confused on what is important: There is nothing we can do to make Jesus love us more than He does; there is nothing we can do to make Him love us any less than He loves us right now. Do we believe this?

Let’s paraphrase verses 23-24 together:

23 And this is his command: to believe in the name and person of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He loves us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands by continuing to believe what Jesus said and acts on His promises lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us who confirms what Jesus said in our hearts and minds, especially using Scripture.

As we go to church today, let us remember that all we have to do is believe in Jesus enough to act upon what the Spirit is telling us to do, and to believe what He is whispering to us all the time: “I love you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3), “I rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17), “I will keep you from falling–even stumbling–and will present you before My Father’s glorious presence blameless, without fault, and with great joy” (Jude 24). Let’s worship Him with grateful hearts!

Abba, I appreciate Your words of tenderness. I draw encouragement from them. Knowing that You love me and want the best for me makes me love You even more! Even when I fail, You encourage me to get up and try again. You give me RESOLVE, Lord, to try again in Your strength and with Your assistance. May I learn complete dependence on You, O Holy Spirit. Amen.

Proverbs 27 6-27-20

What great love the Father has for us! We can’t help but obey Him. His Spirit within us compels us to follow Him!

One who is full loathes honey from the comb,
    but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.

When we are full of ourselves, we don’t crave the things of God. When we are empty of ourselves, then even His discipline seems sweet to us! Why? Because the very interaction of His Spirit with us is worth more than anything this world has to offer!!!

One of the telltale signs that a person is a follower of Jesus Christ is that they do what Jesus says. They have an ongoing and personal relationship with Him and are interested in doing things His way, in His time, and WITH Him. Their enthusiasm to be obedient and their joy that comes from being in His presence is obvious. Does this person describe you? It can! All we have to do is believe and act on these verses:

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

What can we learn from these verses?

  1. God loves us lavishly. Even as we are! We have worth because He deems us worthy.
  2. We are His children! We have been bought back, adopted, never to be lost again.
  3. Those in the world don’t know Him. Let’s introduce them to Him!
  4. WE WILL BE LIKE CHRIST! What a promise!
  5. Let’s keep ourselves pure just as He is pure. He’ll help us!

Salvation Test #7 is found in 3:6, “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to [in] sin has either seen him or known him.”

Test #7 Does sinning bother you,
knowing it hurts your fellowship with the Father?

The key is if there is conviction of sin. If there is no conviction, then the Holy Spirit is not present. If He is not present, then there is no salvation. One of my favorite life verses is Hebrews 12:11, “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.” “Even what is bitter tastes sweet” falls right into this verse!

Verse nine sets us up for Salvation Test #8No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed [Spirit] remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right [habitually and without conviction] is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

Test #8 Do you have conviction of the Spirit when you sin, particularly when it comes to your relationship with your brothers and sisters in Christ?

The blessing of God is NOT material blessings, although He makes sure we have what we need to do His will.
The BLESSING of God is His Presence with us.
                                               Immanuel: God With Us
The HOPE of God is what He has in store for us.

Let’s not forget verse two where John reminds us that Christ is coming back. This promise is our hope. What happens if we die before He comes back? Paul teaches that we go to be with Him where He is: Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:8). In fact, part of us is already seated with Him in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6).

I want us to end today with an explanation of our relationship with Jesus as given by Peter, the leader of the disciples who walked with Jesus:

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Keep reading His Word. It’s where I found all of these gold nuggets! His Spirit confirms each one of them in my heart. How about you?

Abba, I pray that my readers will read these verses for themselves and allow You to speak to them, confirming the truths of Your Word in their hearts. Fill them with that inexpressible and glorious joy of which Peter speaks. Your love compels me to honor You with obedience. Getting more of You makes me want more of You! It’s a delicious cycle. Fill me, LORD, to the top. Amen.

Proverbs 26 6-26-20

Listening to the right people makes all the difference in what we believe. Listening to the Spirit is what 1 John 2:18-27 is about!

23 Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware
    are fervent lips with an evil heart.
24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips,
    but in their hearts they harbor deceit.
25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them,
    for seven abominations fill their hearts.
26 Their malice may be concealed by deception,
    but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.

These verses are scary. They reveal to us that people deliberately try to deceive us and trick us and lead us astray. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). There were people like that in the churches of John’s day, and there are people like that in our churches, too! We recognize them by this statement, “I don’t see why…” Many a deception is both exposed and given beginning with those words. They don’t see because they have no spiritual discernment.

Tests #5 and #6 are in our text for today. #5 is found in 1 John 2:19, They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”

#5 Is the Gospel (following Jesus) permanent in your life?

In the parable of the Sower and the Seed, the second seed heard the Gospel and responded to it with great joy, but when they were faced with either persecution or “change” in general, they forsook the Gospel and went back to their old life (Mark 4:17). Did they ever know the LORD? Were they ever filled with His Spirit? According to John, they didn’t and weren’t. The way I see it, when a person throws open the door of his heart and invites Jesus inside, He stands at the threshold with His hand out waiting for two things: the deed to his house and the master key to every room. Until Jesus  receives those two things, He is at the door, but not in the heart. True salvation comes ONLY when the person is willing to give Jesus those two things. It’s positional. Once we have done that, Christ comes in and our salvation becomes relational. We daily renew our commitment to Him and He daily fills us with His Spirit.

Test #6 has to do with those who would mislead the brethren, I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

#6 Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ?

All Jews knew what “Christ” meant. The Gentiles may or may not have. It means, “Anointed One.” It refers to the Messiah of the Jews. We know that God always intended to extend His salvation to all people through the Messiah (Genesis 12:3). Salvation comes through no other name than Jesus (Acts 4:12).

How do we know that we are saved? The Holy Spirit confirms it in our hearts (Romans 8:16). In fact, you don’t need me to teach you anything, for the Spirit will lead you into all truth and remind you of everything that Jesus has said (John 14:26). His anointing talked about in verses 26 and 27 IS THE HOLY SPIRIT. Let us “remain in Him.”

NOTE: For a full exposition on the word, “remain/abide,” go to The Spirit Within, chapter 7.

Abba, I ask that You fill my readers with Your presence, thus confirming their salvation. I ask that You call them to participate in what You are doing in the world around them. May they “see” you at work and join You in it. Bless them greatly, O LORD, as they walk with You and commune with You. I will do the same. Amen.

Proverbs 25 6-25-20

Today, we read 1 John 2:3-18 and ask ourselves this question, “If I claim to know God, do I obey Him?”

19 Like a broken tooth or a lame foot
    is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.

Test #1 Do you walk in His light?

1 John is full of Salvation Tests. The first one is 1:7, “If we walk in His light, as He is in the light [all things visible], we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Test #2 Do you know God and obey Him?

The second test is 2:4, “Whoever says, ‘I know him [God],’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” John goes on to say that a person who obeys His word is made complete in God’s love. “Complete” means to fulfill, to accomplish, and to consummate (in character). We become like Jesus. 1 John 4:17b says, “In this world we are like Jesus.”

Test #3 Do you live as Jesus lived?

Test #3 is verse 6, “Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus lived.” A pastor had a 16 year old son who had long hair. His dad asked him to get it cut. The son replied, “Jesus had long hair.” The pastor shot back, “Yeah, and he walked everywhere He went, too.” I’m thinking John was referring to character traits, don’t you? Jesus lived full of grace and truth. These are our goals, as well.

One example given is hating a brother or sister in Christ. Hating involves judgement, of which Jesus said not to do (Matthew 5:43-45, 7:1-5). Jesus also said that in forgiving our brother, we are made perfect (Matthew 5:48). Now, where have we seen that word before…!

Verses 12-14 resemble a song to me. It’s a way of memorizing doctrine.

  1. Children (verse 1)- Their sins have been forgiven on account of His name.
  2. Fathers (refrain)- They know Him who is from the beginning (a teaching on the transcendence and immanence of God through Christ).
  3. Young Men (verse 2)- They have overcome the evil one (in Jesus’ name).
  4. Children (verse 3)- They know the Father.
  5. Fathers (refrain)- Repeat.
  6. Young Men (verse 2b)- The word of God lives in them plus previous verse.

Verses 15 and 16 are test #4.

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

Test #4  Do you love the world?

  1. Do you feed the lust of your flesh–that which makes you feel good regardless of its morality or the lack thereof?
  2. Do you feed the lust of your eyes–looking with avarice in your heart, or lust, or hate, and coax it to grow within you?
  3. Do you feed your pride–that which makes you feel above others, satisfied with life, and having no need for God?

It is at this point that we must ask ourselves who we want to please: God or ourselves? If we want to please God, then we must obey Him concerning these three vices. If we want to please ourselves, then we cannot, should not, and must not claim to know God as our Father.

We choose sin because it seems to be the better option for us than what God is offering. BEWARE! There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death/destruction” Proverbs 16:25. John gives us this promise in verse 17, “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” Now, THAT’S A PROMISE!

The three lures, lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, are three of Satan’s biggest tricks in his bag–and, oh, what tricks! Virtually all sins fall under these three headings. Satan even used them on Jesus–but, to no avail. See Luke 4:1-13. Why? Because His “better option” was far above what Satan had to offer. Ours is, too, if we study and believe what God has said in His Word.

Today, look at every temptation you run across through the lens of verses 15-16 and identify those temptations according to the BIG THREE. It’s an interesting exercise! Let me know how it goes.

Abba, I pray for my readers today that they would enjoy looking at the world through Your eyes as they identify the traps of Satan and their own tendencies toward sinful behavior. May You fill them with Your joy and peace; may they revel in the knowledge and security of their salvation; may Your presence and participation in their lives eliminate their desire to seek after other things. Me, too, LORD. Amen.

 

Proverbs 24 6-24-20

Before reading this post, read 1 John 1:1-2:2 out of your real Bible. Then, ask this question: Am I hiding any sin?

A wise man is full of strength,
    and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
    and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

We have an abundance of counselors right in our hands! All the writers of the books of the Bible have collaborated by the guidance and instruction of the Holy Spirit to bring us wisdom, understanding and knowledge (verses 3-4). Let’s look at what John said in his letter to Christians of his day while he was incarcerated.

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life 

For a description of the “word of life,” we go to John 1 and read verses 1-18.

  1. The Word was God
  2. In Him was life and light
  3. He came into the world, but the world did not recognize Him
  4. Those who did He gave the right to become children of God
  5. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us
  6. Full of grace and truth
  7. He has seen the Father because HE IS GOD

the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 

Jesus made the Gospel plain to John, who has made it plain to us. There are at least 11 “tests” in this letter concerning our faith.

that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

We are the church, the Bride, the brotherhood shared in Christ.

And we are writing these things so that (y)our joy may be complete.

To know Jesus is to know JOY.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 

In the words of the writer of Hebrews, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:3). Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, says, The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17). If we know the Son, then we know the Father (John 14:9).

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 

Doing what Jesus said is how we show our love for Him and that we walk in His light (John 14:23).

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 

It is an eternal cleansing. His blood was on the altar before the creation of the world (Revelation 13:8) and cleansed Isaiah’s mouth (Isaiah 6:7) 700 years before His death!

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 

Jesus came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Otherwise, He died for nothing (Galatians 2:21). Our relationship with the Father is safe, but the fellowship is broken. The next verse applies to both cases, but in different ways: One unto salvation; the other unto restored fellowship.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Paul quoted Deuteronomy 30:14 when giving his instructions in Romans 10 on how to be saved,But what does it say? ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’  that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Romans 10:8-10).

2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Jesus is our ADVOCATE! We need no other person, set of rules or anything. We are in Christ!

May the LORD impress upon you the importance of hiding His Word in your heart instead of sin. Sin destroys us! The “sword of the Spirit which is the word of God” is our main weapon against the enemy and his evil schemes, traps, and hidden snares.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would not hide sin in their heart, but confess it to You and then enjoy sweet fellowship with You. May they become hungry for Your Word. Make it like honey in their mouths and sweetness to their souls. May they learn in order to teach, O God. Make us harvesters for You. Amen.

Don’t forget to read Proverbs 24 today!

Proverbs 23 6-23-20

Have you been reading Proverbs each morning? Have you been reading ANYWHERE in His Word? There are no shortcuts to a close walk with Jesus.

12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to knowledge.
17…always be zealous for the LORD.
19 Listen, my child, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path…
23 Buy the truth and do not sell it–wisdom, instruction and insight, as well [they will always cost you something].

It has come to my attention through the Spirit that my daily posts may be being used as a substitute for a person’s daily time with the LORD in His Word. If anything, I am NOT doing my best to encourage folks to move beyond just a daily quiet time.

The LORD doesn’t just teach us for our own enjoyment. He has plans for us in His kingdom work. We must grow in this direction: Am I available and usable to God for His kingdom work? The emphasis is on our willingness to study His Word daily, to listen for His voice throughout the day, and to apply His truths to our lives. WE MUST BE ZEALOUS! “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

2 Peter 1:3a says it all: His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him.” The rest of that verse and the following five verses are an expansion of this truth.

<read them from your own Bible>

What is that truth? His power works through our knowledge of Him. The more we know of Him, the more power we have with which to work. Lest we think it’s up to us, let us remember Paul’s statement, “For this I toil/struggle/labor, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29).

What is it that Paul struggles so hard to do? 28 “We proclaim Him, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” 

  1. Proclaim- He used the “rhema,” the spoken word, to get the message out. We must, too.
  2. Teaching- We have Paul’s letters that explain the Gospel and how to live it. We also have the Gospels and the actual words of Christ to study.
  3. Present- This goal is for what I am aiming. I have used verses 28 and 29 as my life verses since the beginning of my ministry. Somehow, I drifted away from my goal.

Today, commit yourself to begin a new paradigm wherein you pledge to “study to show yourself approved, a workman who need not be ashamed, who correctly and aptly handles the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).” We need teachers and mentors for the harvest. LET’S GET READY!

Abba, I must make sure that I am following my own advice, “lest after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Keep me diligent; keep me desperate for Your Spirit, Your power, and Your participation in my life. I love You, LORD, and I desperately want You in my life. Amen.

 

Proverbs 22 6-22-20

Everything we think, say, and do must be scrutinized to bring everything into alignment with His will.

11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.

Do we desire to have a pure heart? Do we use our words to bless others? If we do, then we are pleasing to King Jesus. In a sense, we are always pleasing to Him, but our lives should be reflecting our relationship with Him. King David was a man after God’s own heart and here is what he said,

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

David had the same problem we have in that he had the desire to follow the Lord and to be righteous and holy, but couldn’t maintain it. We have the Holy Spirit within us and we STILL can’t maintain it! Here is his prayer after his debacle with Bathsheba:

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
 so that sinners will turn back to you.

Let’s break it down:

  1. Only God can create a pure and clean heart within us. What we need is a steadfast spirit, one that is determined to be righteous and holy and live for Him. He will empower us if we ask Him and demonstrate a steadfast spirit.
  2. We have His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We don’t have to worry about our relationship with Him. We DO need to be concerned with our fellowship with Him. Let’s not ignore Him and pretend He doesn’t hear or see–or isn’t there! That’s childish.
  3. We need for Him to restore our joy and to grant us a willing spirit. We cannot generate these attributes on our own. Many times, it’s a moment-by-moment situation. KEEP ASKING!
  4. The goal for each of us should be to pass along what we know and have learned to others. Let’s be looking for opportunities to share what God has taught us. He will bring people into our lives and across our paths and prompt us to give a word of exhortation, a nugget of knowledge, a bit of wisdom, or an illustration of something we have learned as we walk with Christ daily. Be on the look-out!

Let’s let Jesus into every part of our lives. There is so much that we consider just normal life that has its roots in the world. We MUST get better at discerning what is holy and what is unholy. Jesus can help us with that. In fact, He’s the ONLY ONE who can!

Abba, I start afresh and anew in You today. You renew me daily–and I am so glad! I ask for an undivided heart, O LORD. May I walk in Your truth as we walk together. Amen.

Proverbs 20 6-20-20

What pleases the LORD? How can we please Him? Do we even want to? It’s our higher calling if we are His. There are three verses in today’s chapter that lend themselves to this truth.

Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest.

What is our motivation? If we have Christ in our hearts, HE is our motivation. His Spirit lives in us, works in us, and calls us to move. Titus 2:14 bears out this point:

14 who [He] gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

No Spirit? No motivation. Know the Spirit? Know His motivation.

5 The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.

What is our INTENTION? Our sin nature is more than just skin deep. We call it, “the flesh,” but it is a core problem. As long as we are in these physical bodies, we will fight it. That’s why Jesus’ finished work on the cross was so important. We only have victory through death–the death of these bodies. We–our hearts, minds, souls, and spirits–have already been made righteous in God’s eyes. We are ALREADY BLAMELESS through Jesus! Knowing this, we acknowledge our fight, we move through our temptations and get on with what Christ is encouraging us and calling us to do. We FOLLOW THROUGH.

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

We are called to be faithful. He gives us both the desire and the power to do His will (Phil. 2:13). We must give Him complete control, especially if we are in a bad place. Jesus can and will help us to get back to the “path of life” where He is and He wants us.

Here is how:

For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. 10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10

To find out what pleases the Lord, we must ask each time we make a decision, “Is it good, right and true?”

  1. Is it good? For this, we need the Word of God. It defines what God considers good and bad for us. It is our standard for living.
  2. Is it right? “Many things are beneficial, but not all things are profitable” 1 Corinthians 6:12. It may be good, but it’s not right for us. Only the Spirit can lead us in this decision.
  3. Is it true? Does it fit the general direction we and God are going? With this question, there may not be a logical answer. It comes from our walk with Him and the calling He has given us.

If we ask ourselves these three questions each time we make a decision, we will have a GReaT life in Him and for Him (Good, Right, True). Start TODAY!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will set aside their own personal wants and perceived needs and turn to You for strength and direction. May they die to themselves and allow You to live through them. Make them “tough for Jesus,” LORD. Help us to “set our face like flint” toward righteousness and to reject all ungodliness. Make us shine like stars in Your universe, O God! Amen.

Critique of #9, Jesus is Coming Soon, 6-3-20

One of the things I like about posting is the feedback I get. In this case, I need to make some adjustments and clarifications to what I said. The blue print is what I have either added or changed from the original. The red print is either a link or is the subjective material.

Here is #9 of the Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say:

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right. 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
    preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
    an ornament to grace your neck.

#9 Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready? Part 1

This entire section is under reconstruction. As new light has appeared on my horizon, I am seeing Revelation with different eyes beginning with its date of composition, which may have been around 65 A.D, in which case most of the events that happen in it are concerning the fall of Jerusalem and the complete destruction of the temple, thus putting a definitive end to the sacrificial system.

A premillennial dispensational view:

Believing like I do that John had his vision of Jesus and heaven in 90+A.D, Christians have been looking for the Return of Christ for over 1900 years. He said, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done [on account of Me].” Revelation 22:12. From our perspective, it would seem that he is dragging His feet. But, Peter explained that, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to [at least, an understanding of] repentance [with an opportunity to respond].” 2 Peter 3:9.

At the same time, Daniel, Jesus, Paul and John gave us some really good clues to know the season of His Coming. It is into those that we will delve today. Just be aware that mankind is not to know the day or the hour or even the year–but, we can know the season!

25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. Daniel 9:25-26

This part is understandable as we look back on history. Jerusalem was rebuilt in 445 B.C. and Daniel’s seven “sevens” and sixty-two “sevens” equal 490 years, which just happens to be the year that Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He died that week. The next part, after the destruction of Jerusalem, becomes very vague:

 The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary [the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D.]. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” Daniel 9:25-27

Since the temple was destroyed and has not been rebuilt yet, we can assume that this ruler is yet to come. For insight as to who he is, we go to Matthew 24:15, “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—” and then to 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” 

Now we KNOW it hasn’t happened, yet. The interesting part is that since the miraculous revival of Israel in 1948 and her subsequent victories over her enemies, there has been a push to have everything ready for the temple when it is built for the fourth and last time–even down to the Red Heifer! Update on the Building of the Third Temple

Verses 6-8 describe how it will go down:

6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

There are many theories as to who the “One” is who now holds the antichrist back. I personally think that it is the Holy Spirit as He uses the Church to stand in the gap; this is where we stand today. Eventually, somehow, we get removed and the antichrist is finally free to do as he pleases.

Caveat: To know specifically how the antichrist will take over the world, read the following verses of 9-12. I think that you will see what I see: Control of the press, made-to-order miracles (like vaccines for viruses that were manufactured), manipulated video, and other such things. At the same time, I know that God doesn’t want anyone to perish, and if we fervently ask, He might grant another worldwide revival to thwart the evil one’s plans once again. People need Jesus more than ever before!

So far, we’ve just looked at what will happen to set up Christ’s Return. Tomorrow, we will look at His actual Return. Jesus said, “Watch out that no one deceives you…Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Matthew 24:4, 42. Let’s put our hope, our faith and our trust in Him. Let’s share our hope, faith and trust with those around us. LET’S SHARE JESUS!

Abba, I pray that this post will not scare anyone, but will motivate every Christian to be about the Father’s (Your) business. It’s time to scrap the “American Dream” and adopt a heavenly one. YOU ARE COMING SOON! We not only want to be ready, we want to be found as diligent, good and faith servants. Call us to the battle, LORD. Make us ready! Amen.

Proverbs 19 6-19-20

The Lord’s voice is behind us, but where are His arms? Around us!

22 What a person desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar [one who says he loves God, but chases after money or power or influence or fame, etc].

One of my favorite verses in Isaiah is 30:21, which says, “And you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” THAT’S how I hear the Spirit’s voice. In the words of Jimmy Cox, “I don’t hear His voice audibly–it’s much louder than that.” Very true!

We have His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Our job is to keep our minds/posture/attention turned toward Him. “Breathe in the Spirit, breathe out the flesh…breathe in the Spirit, breathe out the flesh…” What our job is NOT is to do things FOR Him. He doesn’t need our “help.” Abraham and Sarah tried to “help” God and they wound up with Ishmael (look how that worked out!). God is reaching around us and working; He’ll let us know when and how we can join Him. We just need to stay connected to the Spirit. One of the BEST ways is through the Word of God. Here’s why:

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

God has placed–literally–in our hands His revelation of His overarching plan, His character, His desires, and His warnings. Let’s learn what He has written down for us even as He teaches us while we read. Saying we don’t have time to read is really saying we don’t have time for God. If we want to love our Lord, we will spend time with Him in His Word. Let’s place ourselves in a position to hear His voice. We need to seek His face and humble ourselves in His presence. When we do, we will be awash with His Love, His Joy, and His Peace. Let’s enjoy the EMBRACE of God!

Keep this word picture in mind: The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field [the Gospel planted in a life]. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches [it ministers to those around it].” Matthew 13:31-32 Jesus is growing the Kingdom of Heaven in you!

Abba, please show us snippets of the fact that You are growing the Kingdom of Heaven in us. May we get little revelations all day as You make us aware of how You are growing us into trees that minister to those around us. Help us to stay focused on You, but to keep our hands at our sides until You tell us what to do with them–our mouths, too. Thank You for loving us and for wanting to interact with us! WOW! The King of the universe wants to walk with me! Now that’s a thought that will keep me going all day. Love you. Amen.

Proverbs 18 6-18-20

God the Father loves everyone and wants the best for everyone. The problem is that most people won’t give Him a chance.

10 The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

Taking the Father up on His offer of salvation is the smartest thing we can do. Why? Because we get to trade all of our filthiness, selfishness, and spiritual deadness for His life, His love, His joy, His peace, His adoption, His heavenly clothing, His family, and His heavenly home. He comes to us in our “hopelessness” and plops Himself right in the middle of us (it’s what He did with the Israelites in the desert: He set His tabernacle smack dab in the middle and had the tribes encamp in a circle around it). Also, we become members of His physical family here on earth, Israel, but in a spiritual way: We are grafted in (Romans 11:17-24).

In Jewish terms, recognizing Yeshua as Israel’s Messiah is the most Jewish thing a Jew can do. Why? Because Jesus/Yeshua fulfilled the requirements of the law with His own blood. God’s blood. He now sits at the right hand of God; this fact is proven by His resurrection, interaction with over 500 people, and His ascension.

The writer of Hebrews gives us proof:

1:3 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.

7:27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.

8:1-2 Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.

9:27 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

10:14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those [we] who are being made holy.

We all know John 3:16, but what does that look like on a personal level? We get a good look in Ephesians 2:4-5:

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

We have so much for which to be thankful. Let’s get started! I’ll go first:

Abba, I’m thankful that You called this 6-year-old kid to be Yours. Thank You for a mom who knew what to do when I asked about salvation. Thank You for a dad who made sure we were in church each week by example. Thank You for the call on my life to serve You in vocational ministry. Thank You for a wonderful, godly wife and beautiful children who love You, too. Thank You for my grandchildren and their love for You, as well. I am illegally blessed–well, it should be illegal. I give You my life once again to do with as You wish. I just want to be helpful for the kingdom. Amen.

Proverbs 17 6-17-20

What is our greatest need? Purification for our sins. Without it, life is futile and death is worse!

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

If this verse is taken as a metaphor for the soul, then to be at peace with ourselves and God is better than anything this world has to offer. Having our sins forgiven is a big deal to God because it allows Him to be with us. We have no spiritual idea what we looked like: Dead in our sins, willfully disobedient, rebellious in nature, brute beasts that didn’t even know right from wrong, marred, filthy…we get the picture. Yet, even in our pitiful condition, God gave His Son–and His Son gave His life–for us so that we could be reunited with the Father through the Son.

Here is our text verse:

Hebrews 1:3 (NIV)
[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.
The phrase “once for all” is used in Romans 6:10, which says, “The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. It is also used 5 times in Hebrews (same context), and 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. I love these last words, “to bring you to God.” Wow! That says it all.
But wait! There’s more:
Hebrews 2:14-15 (NIV)
[14] Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy 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.
We have so much for which to be thankful. Let’s not take for granted our relationship with God and the fellowship we share with the Spirit. Indeed, if we treat it with contempt or apathy, we must consider carefully these words:
1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. Hebrews 2:1-3
Abba, I pray for my readers that they would regain the joy of their salvation, that excitement and gratitude that flowed from their hearts when they first received the Good News and invited You via Your Spirit to live in them. May it be a daily experience, Lord. In fact, may it grow and grow each day! Thank You for living in me and proving over and over how much You love me. I love You, too. Amen.
*From the Strong’s Concordance-

Purification/Purge: 4160 with 2512 (katharismos, from which we get the word, catharsis, to complete with absolution)–bear, + bewray [to reveal or expose], cast out, execute, have purged, Compare 4238.
4238: A primary verb; to “practise”, that is, perform repeatedly or habitually (thus differing from 4160, which properly refers to a single act).

Critique of #8 We Owe a Debt to Israel June 2, 2020

One of the things I like about posting is the feedback I get. In this case, I need to make some adjustments and clarifications to what I said. The blue print is what I have either added or changed from the original. The red print is either a link or is the subjective material.

We dealt a little bit concerning this subject in yesterday’s post. “We owe a debt of gratitude to Israel and should help/evangelize them every chance we get, ‘For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the [Christian] Jews to share with them their material blessings. Romans 15:27.’”

For instance, in 1973, war was–yet again–declared on Israel. Prime Minister Golda Meir called President Richard Nixon and asked for help. According to reports, Nixon’s mother had raised him on Bible stories and had instructed him that if he ever had an opportunity to assist Israel, do it. Nixon told PM Golda Meir, “What do you need?” Here’s the scoop:

Nixon Administration initiated Operation Nickel Grass, an American airlift to replace all of Israel’s lost munitions. This was huge – planeload after planeload of supplies literally allowed munitions and materiel to seemingly re-spawn for the Israeli counter effort. 567 missions were flown throughout the airlift, dropping over 22,000 tons of supplies. An additional 90,000 tons of material were delivered by sea. How Richard Nixon Saved Israel

For a nation that is mostly agnostic or atheist, it doesn’t seem to deserve or even want our gratitude. Some denominations teach that Jews are Christ-killers. Technically, it was the Romans who crucified Christ, and the mob was more than likely seeded with rabble-rousers, much like the protests going on downtown. Not only that, it was for OUR sins that He hung on the cross. No one took His life; He laid it down. Here are Jesus’ own words:

No one takes it away from me; on the contrary, I lay it down of my own free will. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. This is what my Father commanded me to do.” John 10:18

So, no one killed Christ, yet we all killed Christ. To call a Jew a Christ-killer is the pot calling the kettle black.

The history of Israel is about the Coming of the Messiah. He was foretold in Genesis 12:3 in the prophecy of God to Abraham and explained by Peter in Acts 3:21-26:

19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’ 24 “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs [those of you who will receive Jesus as Messiah] of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your [spiritual] offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’

God is blessing all the nations through Abraham. How can He cut off His own people? The question is, “Who are Abraham’s children?” To say that the LORD has disregarded His people is to call Him a liar. The New Covenant that is spoken of in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and is reiterated in Hebrews 8:8-12 is the very covenant that He has made with us-all who trust in Jesus! In John 8:39, the religious leaders claimed to be Abraham’s children. Jesus told them that their father was the devil (v44). Galatians 3:7 says that those who believe in Jesus Christ are children of Abraham.

So, when we think of Israel and the Promise, we must always think of her and it as the root of the tree of salvation. An olive tree may die above ground, but its root system lives for thousands of years. In fact, the trees in the Garden of Gethsemane are claimed to be 1500 years old, but the roots may go back before Christ! If Israel and the Promise are our root, then Paul’s statement in Romans 11:17-18 is quite appropriate:

17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. [Even so, we are all equal in Christ (Galatians 3:26-29).]
NOTE: I have a shirt from Israel with verse 18 on it. It has a Star of David on it encircled by a fish. LOGO

One day, we ALL will live in Israel (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 with Acts 1:10-11), and eventually, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-4). Let us pray that Israel will awaken to their Messiah! The sooner they do (Isaiah 45:17; actually, the entire chapter is Messianic in nature), the sooner we get to go be with Jesus. Actually, it began in Acts 2 and has branched out from there. Those who are in Adonai will find justice and glory (Isaiah 45:17-25).

From Dr. Mitch Glaser, President of Chosen People Ministries:

“By way of reminder and as the leader of this historic mission to the Jewish people, I believe that Jewish people need to accept Jesus to have a place in the age to come (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, John 3:16–17). I do not believe that anyone is capable of keeping the Law to the extent that their human efforts would somehow satisfy God’s demands for righteousness, enabling the individual to enter heaven on their own merit. (Galatians 2:15–16, 3:23–25, Romans 10:2–4 ff.) Jewish people are saved by grace through faith, just like everyone else!”

Proverbs 16 6-16-20

Faith shows itself when we don’t feel like trusting the Lord; it’s when things look and/or feel wrong that we prove ourselves faithful.

2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.
32 Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.

Our feelings can really get in the way of our obedience. It’s not so much a matter of not caring; the Spirit inside us gives us the desire to do His will. It’s the heart that causes so much turmoil. It magnifies the desires of our minds, amps them up, and then our brains dump chemicals into our bodies that are nearly insurmountable. What do we do when we are confronted with the temptation to sin, or to circumvent God and “help Him out?”

  1. Step back. We are too close to the edge. If our feelings are going crazy, then we are beyond the guard rail! We need to get back on the other side. That may mean leaving the situation and/or friends. Taking a walk usually helps. Praying while we’re walking ALWAYS helps.
  2. Ask God what He has in mind. He may or may not answer right away, but we know that He has our best interests in mind ACCORDING TO HIS WILL FOR OUR LIVES. More than likely, what we are wanting is not the best thing for us right now. Give Him time to answer, or to change the circumstances.
  3. Continue in the direction we were headed before we got sidetracked. More than likely, Jesus is still on the path and He is waiting for us to rejoin Him, in a manner of speaking.

There are two other verses in this chapter that we need to remember:

18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.

Whatever we think we want here on this earth is NOT worth giving up the fellowship we have with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. In fact, the stronger the resistance by the Spirit, the more dangerous the outcome if we fail to heed His warning.

In Bruce Wilkinson’s book, The Secrets of the Vine, he says that every person–especially leaders–will periodically come to a ledge in their walk with Jesus where the precipice is sheer and the drop is deep, but the place we are heading is worth the risk. It’s where Jesus is leading. The problem is that the trail is narrow at that point and to wander away from His side means to fall bigtime. Most of the time, our wandering is caused by little habits of rebellion or laziness or both. Our habits tend to show up at the most inopportune times. We spend our spiritual lives shedding these sinful habits. Bruce says this:

“Can I look back over my walk with God and see very clearly that a sinful behavior I used to be caught up in is no longer an issue? Are there thoughts, attitudes, or habits that used to dominate my life but don’t anymore? If you can answer yes, you’re moving forward and upward with God.”
― Bruce H. Wilkinson, Secrets of the Vine: Breaking Through to Abundance

The reverse, of course, is what we get when we are NOT working on looking like Jesus. The Word of God is our textbook for God-likeness (godliness). When we are ready to learn, to follow in obedience, to be discerning in our own lives concerning sin of any kind, then we will read it, study it, memorize it, fall in love with it, and find ourselves desperate without it. Are you there? You can be today. All you have to do is open it up and allow Him to speak to you. Start with Romans 12, then go to 1 john. Read John 10 to hear Jesus’ own words.

Bruce Wilkinson also says this:

“Do you want more abundance? More is always possible, but you’ll have to do something opposite of what you’re currently doing. You’ll have to cooperate with God’s ways and respond in obedience and trust.”
― Bruce H. Wilkinson, Secrets of the Vine: Breaking Through to Abundance

C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers through pleasure but shouts through pain. Sometimes our Father has to shout.” We would do well to begin NOW rather than make the Father shout for us to hear Him. One more quote:

“What percentage of Christians do you think have experienced scourging? It may shock you to read that God scourges “every son.”
― Bruce H. Wilkinson, Secrets of the Vine: Breaking Through to Abundance

Let’s learn those hard lessons BEFORE we take the fall. Solomon promises, “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trust in the LORD.” Proverbs 16:20

Abba, You KNOW I need this teaching to be manifest in my own life. May I heed Your voice and stay stuck to Your side, especially when the draw of temptation is at its strongest. Help me to step back, take a walk, pray, and allow You to guide me back to the path of righteousness. It’s where I want to be. Thank You for Your guidance and encouragement! Amen.

Proverbs 15 6-15-20

Some things are provided for us: Truth, Righteousness, and the Gospel. Others we must do ourselves–with His help: Faith, [knowledge of] Salvation, and the Word. The oil/lubrication that makes all these work is Prayer.

The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
    but the prayer of the upright pleases him.

God is much more interested in us having a relationship with Him than what we can do for Him. Does He really need us to do anything? It’s all designed for interaction. He invites us to join Him in what He is doing; we interact with Him during the project. We grow to be like Him and He receives glory!

The idea is to wed the two: Prayer plus Sacrifice. We interact with Him while serving Him. So, what does that look like? Let’s look at the opening statement. What is provided?

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:14-15

  1. The Belt of Truth is what we know to be true. The Spirit has revealed to us His Plan, His Redemption, and His Interaction. What we get is synergythe interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc.; synergism. This synergism is what is created when we interact with the LORD. It’s a NEW THING!
  2. The Breastplate of Righteousness is what He gave to us upon salvation. It’s the character of Christ and plays out in our lives as a desire to be like God, which is godliness. What is God like?
    1. He’s holy (He is set apart and special): we should see ourselves as holy, too.
    2. He’s fruit-bearing: This is my way of including all of the fruit of the Spirit; we aspire to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and exercise self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
    3. The best attribute of God is that He is loving. In fact, the Bible says that HE IS LOVE (1 John 4:16) and that He loves us. His love and righteousness cover our hearts and protect us from the enemy’s lies.
  3. The Gospel of Peace is the Plan of God for salvation, transformation, and eventually glorification. We keep this plan before us all the time. It’s important. Anytime that we begin to doubt or to look around at what the world is doing, we need to go back to the Plan. It’s how we interpret all that is going on around us. We have several illustrations that give us hope concerning the Gospel:
    1. Daniel’s vision of the Rock that smashed the statue and then became a huge mountain that filled the whole earth (Daniel 2:31-35).
    2. The mustard seed (Mark 4:30-32).
    3. The river from under the throne of God that grows until all nations are blessed  by it (Ezekiel 47:1-12).
    4. The yeast in the dough (Matthew 13:33).

Whether in good times or bad, we can count on the Gospel ever-increasing until it fills the entire earth! And we are a part of that Gospel!!!

So, be encouraged today. Join Him in Bible study and learn at His feet. Feel His love, joy and peace wash over you. Be energized by the promise of the Gospel. Now, go walk with Jesus!

Abba, I pray for my brothers and sisters that they would be Your willing ambassadors today. May they see You working and join You in Your work in people’s lives. May You equip us and whip us into shape for Your use and enjoyment. I want to be spiritually productive with You today, LORD. May I cooperate with Your Spirit! Amen.

Proverbs 14 6-14-20

The best defense is your own story. A person can refute facts, but your own personal story is unimpeachable.

5 An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies.

When we give our testimony of how we met the Lord, we are stating three Spirit-useable facts:

  1. How we were before we met Christ.
  2. How we met Christ.
  3. How we are now that we know Christ.

The Gospel is wrapped up in these facts. It’s our account of how the Gospel came to us. We needed the Good News; someone shared it with us; we came to Christ; He came into our hearts and lives; we walk with Him in His love, joy, peace, security, and grace. The Holy Spirit will use your testimony in that person’s life. We pray that it will be unto salvation in this life (if not, then it’s toward his conviction at judgement).

Be thinking about how you would share your testimony. If someone expresses fear, we can share about how walking with Jesus neutralizes our fear of death. If someone expresses disgust with politics, some of you who used to get upset can share about how God raises up kingdoms and brings down leaders according to His plan for history (His story), of which we are a part. You can even share that you are not rattled by all the discord because God is still on His throne, which includes the throne of your heart. There’s your lead-in…

It’s not as hard as one might think; it simply takes intentional forethought and deliberate “coincidences” that put you in places to be able to tell your story. I promise that the more we do it, the better at it we will get.

It goes without saying–but, I’ll say it anyway–that we must be prayed up and read up in order to have any power behind our stories. Lost people can spot weakness really quick. Whether it’s hypocrisy or spiritual weakness, we don’t want to go there. That’s why being at church this morning is really good for us. It gets our week off to a good start. “See” you there.

Abba, may You call us to hone our stories and then give us opportunities to share them. May You use our stories to call someone to Yourself. It’s this beggar showing another beggar where to find bread–the Bread of Heaven!
Looking forward to worshiping with my brothers and sisters today, LORD. Inhabit the praises of Your people. Amen.

Proverbs 13 6-13-20

Sorry. Yard work came first. What do we say to a lost person about Christ?

14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.

Robin and I have been watching a lot of “I Met Messiah” videos about Jews coming to faith in Jesus Christ, whom they call Yeshua (the Hebrew name of Jesus). In many of their testimonies, a person walked up to them–out of the blue–and said, “Do you know Jesus?” They were usually highly offended, but the seed was there and the Spirit watered it and it took root.

In many other cases, a friend would ask them if they knew Jesus. Again, they were offended, even aggressive, but the patient sharing of Christ by mouth and by life won their hearts.

In our world where most people don’t know what a Messiah is, nor their need for one, we must begin a bit earlier in the story or in another place in the story. We must present the GOOD NEWS of Jesus and then the BAD NEWS of their plight. Sometimes it will be in one fell swoop, and other times it will be in stages, even statements. For instance,

  1. I have some good news for you; maybe you’ve heard it: God loves you and wants a personal relationship with you.
  2. Did you know that Jesus Christ died for your sins and offers you eternal life in Him?
  3. Since we aren’t born knowing God, we have chosen our own way in this world. The problem is that it’s controlled by the devil, so by default you have been following him.
  4. This separation between you and God is caused by sin, which means “to miss the mark.” This sin separates us from God and, if left untended, will end in eternal separation from Him. He doesn’t want that!  Would you like to hear how to be reunited with God?
  5. God sent His Son, Jesus, to live among us and to show us what righteousness looks like, to demonstrate what holiness is, and to teach us what true love means.
  6. Jesus fulfilled His plan of dealing with our sin by dying on the cross, thus paying for our sins. He then rose again, and now offers us eternal life through Him–on two conditions:
    1. We must give Him our lives, the very deed to our “house.”
    2. We must release everything in our lives to Him, the “keys” to every room in our house.
  7. The best news is that His salvation is not static, but contributes to our everyday life. Jesus comes to live in us to show us His Way and to empower us to break the holds that sin may still have in our lives. We have continuous fellowship with God through Jesus!
  8. He may be calling you right now. Is He?

These statements, or statements like them, present the Gospel in a non-threatening way. The main goal is to say the name Jesus and include some portion of the Gospel. We are seed-planters,

“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.”
14 “The farmer sows the word.” Mark 4:3, 14

We plant the seed of the Gospel and then God makes it grow. Usually, it takes time and other people watering and weeding (but not always). Paul gave this illustration:

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose [spreading the Gospel], and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.

Let’s pray for opportunities to plant seeds of the Gospel. Start looking!

Abba, please bring a great harvest as we invest in Your kingdom. Give us plenty of opportunities no matter the circumstances or even the consequences. The only thing that matters is getting the name of Jesus out there for people to hear and to respond to You. May we be Your ambassadors, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 12 6-12-20

Bad News/Good News. We are all born on the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak.

No one can be established through wickedness [doing things our way, even if it seems right], but the righteous [those who know and listen to God] cannot be uprooted.

We are naturally followers of Satan because we do not know God. In fact, the Law doesn’t make us sinners; it proves to us that we ARE sinners! Here’s how it works:

Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power.At one time I lived without understanding the law. But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life,10 and I died. Romans 7:7-10a NLV

Without the Law, I would never have known that I was a sinner. It put a name to my desires and actions. I did not know that I was coveting until the Law told me what coveting was. If not coveting, then we could insert lust, hate, greed, idolatry, and arrogance, for all of these are components of the 10 Commandments; coveting was simply the one that Paul chose to use.

Sometimes, it helps to read it from another translation. Here’s the Amplified Version:

What then do we conclude? Is the Law identical with sin? Certainly not! Nevertheless, if it had not been for the Law, I should not have recognized sin or have known its meaning. [For instance] I would not have known about covetousness [would have had no consciousness of sin or sense of guilt] if the Law had not [repeatedly] said, You shall not covet and have an evil desire [for one thing and another].
But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment [to express itself], got a hold on me and aroused and stimulated all kinds of forbidden desires (lust, covetousness, etc). For without the Law sin is dead [the sense of it is inactive and a lifeless thing].
Once I was alive [through Adam], but quite apart from and unconscious of the Law. But when the commandment came, sin lived again and I died (was sentenced by the Law to death) [through Adam-based upon Romans 5:12].

That’s the bad news. Here’s the GOOD NEWS: Jesus not only paid our death penalty, He arranged for us to be adopted into His family as His brothers and sisters! Here is our SALVATION:

18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Jesus Christ] the many [we] will be made righteous. Romans 5:18-19 NIV

So, through Jesus we are declared righteous in God’s sight. We’ve been washed in the blood of Jesus and made clean! The Law pointed out to us what we deserved; Grace gave us what we needed. Watch:

20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20-21 NIV

Now, a lost person doesn’t need to know all of this doctrine in order to be saved. In fact, it would probably hinder more than it would help. What they need to know is:

  1. They are deceived, living without God in their lives, following the deceptive paths of the devil, and slaves to our own passions and lusts–our sin natures.
  2. Jesus wants to save them from their lives of destruction. He will come into their lives, cleanse them of their sin, free them from the bondage of the devil, and lead them into truth and godliness (God-like-ness).
  3. All that is required is that they give their lives to Him, lock, stock and barrel, from this point on, and walk with Him routinely.

The question is, are they willing to do that? Hey, are WE willing to do that?!

Abba, I pray that we would learn so much about what You did for us in salvation that we can share it with others, answering their questions, handling GENTLY their objections, and guiding them to a point of decision. I know that the ultimate decision is between You and them; I just want to make sure that they get the chance to trust You. I know You do, too. Amen.

Proverbs 11 6-11-20

Have you ever thought about our motivation behind going to church on Sundays? Why do you go to church?

1 The LORD detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.

To be honest, most of us go to church because our parents raised us that way. It feels unnatural–or, at least, a little bit wrong–not to go. At the same time, we may be giving two different signals to the LORD: Going out of duty vs. going out of grateful obedience. Let’s do a little self-analysis and see with what we come up.

Let’s establish a baseline. God commanded the Israelites to go to church. Their church was at the temple, and the men were required to attend three times a year. They had an alternate place of worship in Northern Israel for those who had to travel from the far northern part of Israel, but all men were required to do it. The women and children we encouraged to attend with them. Then, there was the weekly worship at the synagogue.

For those living in Jerusalem, they could go to “church” twice a day for the morning and evening sacrifices. King David made a big deal about going up to worship at the temple as we learn in Psalm 100:

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
 his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Jesus shared this passion for worship. He, too, went to the feasts in Jerusalem, and He entered the synagogue in whatever town He was each Sabbath to worship and teach:
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. Luke 4:16

Jesus taught His disciples to do the same, but they changed the day of worship to the first day of the week in honor of His resurrection. Not only that, they met each day for a while:

46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,  47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47

God wants us to meet together, as well. He said as much through the writer of Hebrews:
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

So, why do we go to church?

  1. Because Jesus commanded us to go. We obey out of gratitude!
  2. Because we as individuals are part of the Bride of Christ. He wants to spend time with His Bride collectively.
  3. He has much in store for us:
    1. Perspective through worship
    2. Fellowship with and encouragement from other believers
    3. Haverim (the sharing of ideas from a biblical perspective)
    4. Teaching from the LORD through others
    5. Ministry (learning to look outside of ourselves)
  4. Together, we are Christ to the world.

What should we pray for as we go?

  1. That we have the right heart attitude as we engage the community of brothers and sisters in Christ.
  2. That we go expecting God to speak to us sometime while we are there.
  3. That we bless the LORD in word and song. The routine, the music, and the hearing of the public reading of the Word minister to us more than we know.
  4. That God would move in a mighty way; that His power would be displayed through the salvation of souls; that we would be touched by His Spirit; that people would turn away from sin and turn to Christ (both the lost and the saved), but we must be ready for Him to start with us.

If you are going to church and sitting/standing back and being passive, then you are missing out on why we have church. God ordained this! Do we really think we know better than God? or, that there are better places to be right then? If we want to hear from God (individually and collectively), then we must give Him plenty of opportunities, and we must seek Him where He calls us to be.

There are some who CANNOT go to church right now. I’ll bet that they WANT TO go! We look forward to the day that they get to come back. The rest of us ought to take advantage of getting together–who knows what the future holds?

“Lord, send a revival, and let it begin in me.”

Abba, You know I haven’t always wanted to go to church. But, I have learned through the years that if I want to be regularly obedient to You, then I will go. Thank You for all the times You have spoken to me in services at Falls Creek, my home church at Calvary in Durant, at FBC, Shawnee, while in school, and then at all the churches in which I have served. Now, O LORD, speak to me once again here at Brookwood. Move mightily among our folks. Bring revival to Your church! And let it begin in me. Amen.

Proverbs 10 6-10-20

What is it you desire? Good things or evil? God-focused things or self-centered things? His will or yours?

24 What the wicked dread will overtake them; what the righteous desire will be granted.

This verse is a riddle; the answer is the same for both: God. The difference is in our relationship to Him. We Americans teach our children to become independent of their parents as they grow older. There is a lot of value in being able to take care of oneself and ultimately a family.  But, it is not so in Christianity. We must go from being independent to being completely dependent upon the Spirit of God.

Take Elisha, for instance. When the king of Aram ordered his arrest and sent his army to take him, his servant was alarmed: When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15-17

There is so much more to this world than we can see. The spiritual world is going on all around us, but we cannot see it. Paul even warns us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12. We need to depend upon Jesus for everything.

I stumbled across a great illustration the other day. I recalled a blonde joke from “ages past.” It seems a blonde woman listened to a walkman with a headset all the time (a walkman is the precursor to an ipod). A friend got curious, came up behind her and removed the headphones. The blonde immediately collapsed! He put the headphones on and heard, “Breathe in; breathe out. Breathe in; breathe out…” I have revised the tale in that he put the headphones back on her and she revived.

Now, consider Ephesians 4:22-24 (great memory verses, by the way):

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self [breathe out], which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self [breathe in], created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Let’s apply the blonde’s technique to being continually filled with the Spirit: “Breathe in the Spirit; breathe out the flesh. Breathe in the Spirit; breathe out the flesh.” It WORKS!

May the Lord call to your mind this humorous way to remember to keep being filled with His Spirit. Let’s lean on Him even as we keep in step with Him.

Abba, may I heed my own advice and continue to practice the presence of Christ in my life. I want to learn to be totally dependent upon You for insight, understanding, discernment, and wisdom (seeing things from Your perspective). You are the air I breathe, O LORD. You are my oxygen. Amen.

Oxygen – by Avalon

Proverbs 9 6-9-20

Here is #10 part 4 of the Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right. 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

1 Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars.
“I am going to prepare a place for you, [and] I will come back and take you to be with me…” John 14:3

#10 What awaits us in heaven? Part 4

What will we do? I believe the activity of heaven can be summed up in five words:

Worship, Work, Create, Explore, and Fellowship

“For the Christians, death is the doorway to the Christ who has defeated death and will swallow it up.” Randy Alcorn, HEAVEN, pg. 439

  1. Worship– We will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father; we will bask in the radiance of their glory and enjoy the pure love, joy and peace that emanate from their Presence. We will join the countless millions who will be there with us: After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice [either saying or singing]: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9-10. How long will we do this? I don’t know. Does it matter? There will be no need to mark time. In the words of Randy Alcorn, “That isn’t all there is to Heaven, but if it were, it would be more than enough.” HEAVEN, page 195.
  2. Work– We will both rule and serve. What we must remember is that we are returning to earth for eternity. At some point, heaven will be joined with earth–the two will become one again even as it was in Eden, but this time, it’s the entire physical universe. On the fourth day of creation, God separated the heavens, His heaven (the third heaven) from outer space (the second heaven) and our atmosphere (the first heaven); He will simply remove the separation. To Him, it’s no big deal. To us, it’s heaven on earth! There will be plenty to do here as Eden is restored world-wide. Mankind will be back to what we were created to do, which is to tend the garden (Genesis 2:15). Also, Paul mentions judging angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3), which can mean managing a work detail.
  3. Create– God created us in His image (Genesis 1:26). God just got done creating the universe; we are like Him, therefore, we are made to create. Don’t worry if you don’t think you have a creative spirit. Anything we do in conjunction with the Holy Spirit is new. We ourselves are new creations. Just thinking and praying is creating, along with whatever the Spirit leads us to do: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17. More than that, everything becomes better and greater in heaven. From Randy Alcorn, HEAVEN, page 439:
    “Understanding that our peak doesn’t come in this life should radically change our view of deteriorating health, which otherwise would produce discouragement, regret, anger, envy, and resentment. Elderly people could envy and resent the young for what they can do. People handicapped from birth could envy and resent others for what they can do. But when the elderly and handicapped recognize that their experiences on the New Earth will be far better than the best anyone else is experiencing here and now, it brings anticipation, contentment, consolation, and the ability to fully rejoice in the activities of the young and healthy, without envy or regret.”
    [We can say to ourselves,] “I haven’t passed my peak. I haven’t yet come close to it. The strongest and healthiest I’ve ever felt is a faint suggestion of what I’ll be in my resurrected body on the New Earth.”
  4. Explore– Understanding that we will be like Jesus (Philippians 3:20-21), the idea of thought-transport is not so sci-fy, nor is the concept of exploring the universe that God designed FOR US–renewed, of course. We will also have the entire city of the New Jerusalem to explore and everyone in it to get to know. Then, we have all of earth to explore. As we can see, there will be plenty to do and see, all with hearts full of wonder and delight. We will constantly be thanking God for all He has done–in person, since He will be there with us. Can you imagine Him telling you what He was thinking as He created the giraffe or hummingbird? Speaking of animals, have I mentioned that we will be back in right relationship with them? Robin wants to swim with the whales; I think we will!
  5. Fellowship– Everyone who trusted Christ as Savior and Lord will be in heaven. The multitude that no one could count includes every Christian– and all who trusted in Him BEFORE the cross, as well. There are verses that tell us that David himself will be prince of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 34:23-24). We will spend eternity getting to know everyone in heaven. The neat part will be that we will intuitively know who each person is when we meet them. Peter, James and John intuitively knew Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:4). Still, that’s a LOT of people. I’m glad we have an eternity to do it, don’t you?

Randy Alcorn makes this statement, HEAVEN, page 440, “I don’t look forward to that [death]. But I do look beyond it. I look first to being with my Jesus, second to being with loved ones, third to Christ’s return and the bodily resurrection, and fourth to setting foot on my eternal home–the New Earth. It makes me want to shout and cry and laugh just thinking about it.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Abba, thank you for such a wonderful inheritance. As I read about this inheritance in the Word, I realize that You are giving us back our world–and a whole lot more! You intended us to be with You and enjoy all of Your creation: earth, space, our home in heaven–even before You created them! It’s been Your plan all along. WOW! It blows my mind how much You must love us! Thank You for the hope we have beyond this life. May we make each day here count for You, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 8 6-8-20

Here is #10, part 3, of the Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right.
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

18 With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity.
35 For those who  find me find life and receive favor from the LORD.

#10
What awaits us in heaven? Part 3

The New Jerusalem-a real city.

We begin with Jesus’ promise that He was going to prepare a place for us. Here is His description:

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:1-3

Notice how literal Jesus is, “If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” What will this place look like? We get a pretty good picture of it from, again, John in Revelation 21:2 and 9-22:5. Now, we are the Church, the Bride of Christ. When paired with what Jesus told His disciples in the upper room, we have the dwelling place of Christ’s Bride, which is the Church–us! I don’t think we need to get any more symbolic than what the text says: The Bride of Christ is where the Bride lives. He is building us a mansion that is beyond comprehension! We will all dwell together in the New Jerusalem with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In fact, we will behold Jesus in all His glory as it was before He left heaven on His mission of grace (see John 17:24). 

Here are some dimensions of that city as described in Randy Alcorn’s book, “Heaven,” pages 250-251:

The city’s exact dimensions are measured by an angel and reported to be 12,000 stadia, the equivalent of 1,400 miles or 2,200 kilometers, in length, width, and height (Revelation 21:15-16). Even though these proportions may have symbolic importance, this doesn’t mean they can’t be literal. In fact, Scripture emphasizes that the dimensions are given in “man’s measurement” (Revelation 21:17). If the city really has these dimensions (and there’s no reason it couldn’t), what more could we expect God to say to convince us?

A metropolis of this size in the middle of the United States would stretch from Canada to Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the California border. The New jerusalem is all the square footage anyone could ask for.

Even more astounding is the city’s 1,400-mile height. Some people suggest this is the reach of the city’s tallest towers and spires, rising above buildings of lesser height. If so, they argue that it’s more like a pyramid than a cube.

We don’t need to worry that Heaven will be crowded. The ground level of the city will be nearly two million square miles. This is forty times bigger than England and fifteen thousand times bigger than London. It’s ten times as big as France or Germany and far larger than India. But remember, that’s just the ground level.

Given the dimensions of a 1,400-mile cube, if the city consisted of different levels (we don’t know this), and if each story were a generous twelve feet high, the city could have over 600,000 stories. If they were on different levels, billions of people could occupy the New Jerusalem, with many square miles per person. 

If these numbers are figurative, not literal (and that is certainly possible), surely they are still meant to convey that the home of God’s people will be extremely large and roomy.

The cube shape of the New Jerusalem reminds us of the cube shape of the Most Holy Place in the Temple (1 Kings 6:20), the three dimensions perhaps suggestive of the three persons of the Trinity. God will live in the city, and it is His presence that will be its greatest feature [emphasis added].

The graphic description of the walls, the gates, and the streets are reminiscent of Ezekiel’s vision in Ezekiel 1 where he describes the mobile throne of God. No one doubts that Ezekiel’s vision was exactly what he saw. I see no reason to believe John’s vision was anything else but what he saw, which was a literal building.

To me, the key is Jesus’ promise to come get us and take us to be with Him. Whether the New Jerusalem is literal or figurative, whatever Jesus has for us is beyond our wildest dreams! I have THAT in writing, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him–” 1 Corinthians 2:9.

Abba, the description itself makes me want to go be with You. And to think that what You actually have in store for us is beyond comprehension blows my mind! I know I spend a lot of time thinking about heaven, but Lord, people need hope here in this world, and having a grasp on what heaven is like gives us hope. Please continue to reveal heaven to us even as You use us in Your plan here on this earth. We are Yours. Forever. Amen.

Proverbs 7 6-7-20

Here is #10, part 2, of the Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right. 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

My son, keep my words
    and store up my commands within you [learn them and recite them].
Keep my commands and you will live;
    guard my teachings as the apple of your eye [allow them to encourage you].
Bind them on your fingers;
    write them on the tablet of your heart [discuss them with the Spirit].

#10 What awaits us in heaven? Part 2

There are two things we can count on in the future. One is that God will renew all things; the second is that Jesus will set up His throne in Jerusalem.

There are two things we do not know. One is to what extent the renewal will take; the second is whether the New Jerusalem comes with the renewal or after 1000 years.

My take on Scripture is that the renewal of all things (based on Matthew 19:28), which includes the topical earth as we know it as well as all nature concerning the animal kingdom–even the planets in the heavens–will be radically reformed into a Pre-Fall state. The sheer presence and participation of the Holy Spirit WITHOUT any of the fallout of sin will make ALL the difference in how things grow, how animals interact, and how humans “rule” again, just like Adam and Eve. 

Peter gave us a pretty graphic description of “the end of the world” as we know it in 2 Peter 3.

3 Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. 4 They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” Most people believe that earth has been around for millions, if not billions, of years and will be around for as long. Evolution teaches this view.

5 They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. 6 Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. Secular scientists ignore or vehemently refute a worldwide flood. The problem is that with the invention of each new instrument, we find more and more evidence pointing to a worldwide flood! It’s getting to the point where they are looking foolish if not childish to hang onto their point of view. Even so, they “deliberately forget” because to acknowledge a worldwide flood would call them into account with the God of that flood.

7 And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed. This event is linked to the Day of the Lord mentioned in verse 10 when Jesus returns: But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. We know what happens next because we have read it in Isaiah 65:17. 

17 “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore. And in 2 Peter 3:13.

13 But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

When it comes to the Great Flood, water gets most of the attention, but what we now know because of new scientific equipment (and views from space), fire played a key role in the reforming of the earth during the flood. There is a ring of 50,000+ volcanoes in the Pacific Ocean that is called the Ring of Fire. Many of them are still active. There is a volcano recently discovered 590 miles NW off the coast of Hawaii (Pūhāhonu) that is absolutely monstrous, much like–but bigger than–Yellowstone, which covers the corners of four states with an even older and bigger crater underneath that is over 100 miles wide and extends to the eastern edge of Idaho. 

The key to “the end of the world” is that Jesus has promised to make all things new! Listen to this promise:

5 And the one sitting on the throne [Jesus] said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” 6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. 7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

Jesus instructed John to write it down for us so that we would be encouraged. Let’s be encouraged today knowing that He has everything well in-hand. When the time is right, He will come again and restore/renew all things. COUNT ON IT!

Tomorrow: the New Jerusalem!

Abba, thank You for such a wonderful promise. I love that You don’t scrap anything, but redeem everything to be as it was intended–including me! I am SO looking forward to seeing firsthand everything in its renewed state and to enjoy Your world(s) as they were intended to be enjoyed: WITH YOU. Until then, may I keep my eyes on You, my Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 6 6-6-20

Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right. 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

23 For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life

#10
What awaits us in heaven? part 1

Let’s begin with some basic facts presented in Scripture that shed light on what is to come by looking at what has already been revealed:

  1. The presence of Jesus in Heaven-
    1. Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. John 13:1. Jesus knew the plan.
    2. After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began. John 17:1-5. Jesus was sharing the plan with the disciples one last time.
    3. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began! John 17:24. We see Jesus’ heart in this verse. He LOVES us!
    4. And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise [same word as Eden].” Luke 23:43. Jesus reassured the thief that he would be with Jesus in the next world.
    5. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 1:19-20. Paul speaks of what he has seen (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). Jesus IS in Heaven!
  2. We will have real, spiritual, glorified bodies-
    1. It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies. 45 The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. 46 What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. 47 Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. 48 Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. 49 Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man. 1 Corinthians 15:42-48. These physical bodies of which Paul speaks are far superior to these earthly vessels. We get a pretty good idea of what they will be like by looking at Jesus once He was resurrected.
  3. Jesus could:
    1. Go back and forth between heaven and earth (John 20:17)
    2. Appear wherever He wanted (John 20:19)
    3. Eat physical food (Luke 24:41-43)
    4. Be touched, which requires a physical body (Luke 24:39 and John 20:27)
    5. Was recognizable (John 21:7, 12)
  4. We will be like Him- Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 1 John 3:2. This is our promise and to what we hold so dearly.

Tomorrow, we will look at the new heaven and the new earth. Today, let’s focus on being like Christ BEFORE He was resurrected:

  1. Meek and humble (Matthew 11:28-30)
  2. Joyful (Isaiah 61:3)
  3. Compassionate (for the lost, Matthew 9:36)
  4. A Servant (Mark 10:45)

If we focus on having these Christ-like traits today, what a difference it will make in our lives and what an impact it will have on those who live with us! They’ll think we are different people–which is the point! “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation!”

Abba, I pray that as we gaze toward heaven, it’s with the intent of being Your hands and feet here on earth. We can endure anything for a season, especially with the promise of the reward You have in store for us! Make us like You, LORD Jesus, a servant to those around us. Amen.

 

 

Proverbs 5 6-5-20

Isn’t it time we got serious about our relationship with Christ? “Semester tests” are coming and we haven’t studied…

NOTE: #10, “Heaven,” is coming. Patience, patience…

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

Why become a Christian if we are not going to follow Christ? Why marry Him if we don’t want to spend every waking moment with Him–at least, that’s how I feel about Robin. I have to admit that I am hooked on His love that is so deep that I’ll never find the edges, with His peace that passes all understanding, with His joy that radiates from His throne and fills my entire being, and His companionship that gives my daily life a weight and a depth that goes beyond the mundane.

Knowing that every activity I have and do with the Spirit is a NEW THING, that together we are creating an offering to the Father that would otherwise never exist, gives my life meaning. Even my prayers are unique! I pray–even when I don’t know what to say–and He takes my prayers and transforms them into special offerings to the Father and the Son. Don’t believe me? Read this next passage:

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but [even as we pray] the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.  Romans 8:26-27

I believe that history is heading to a climax. Satan pretty much has the world where he wants it. The only thing that can hold him back is another worldwide revival. I have read reports that India is the hottest place for salvations in the world with Iran being right behind them. That’s amazing! China has always been a place of a great moving of the Spirit even in the face of great persecution. Could it be that America might be called into revival if we were being persecuted, too? It almost seemed that we might get some with the pandemic. Looking back on it, I can sure see how quickly our society can turn on us!

Rather than say, “Surely not,” let’s get before the LORD and ask Him how He wants us to serve Him, worship Him, and be witnesses for Him in the coming days. The media keeps talking about a resurgence of COVID 19 this Fall; are we ready to find creative ways to meet for prayer–even at the risk of sickness, or will we meekly quit meeting altogether and depend on the internet? The problem with the internet is that it is controlled by companies that can be manipulated. What happens if churches get censured? We would have a LOT of people stranded spiritually. What about having a network of house bible studies with everyone assigned and ready to go if the time comes? The great revival of 1857 started in a noonday prayer meeting of a few businessmen.

I take comfort from passages like Psalm 110:1-3. It’s a Messianic psalm and it describes the power and authority of our LORD Jesus Christ:

The Lord said to my Lord,
    “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
until I humble your enemies,
    making them a footstool under your feet.”
The Lord will extend your powerful kingdom from Jerusalem;
    you will rule over [in the midst of] your enemies.
When you go to war,
    your people will serve you willingly.
You are arrayed in holy garments,
    and your strength will be renewed each day like the morning dew.

Jesus even quoted verse 1 in Matthew 22:44 in reference to Himself. I take four encouragements from it:

  1. Jesus has all authority. We know that because He said so in Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
  2. Even in the midst of my enemies, I can count on Him ruling over my situation. I will NOT fear death (enough to make me shrink from it) either by sickness or otherwise, nor imprisonment (there are lots of “captive” audiences there; ask Joseph). “They triumphed over him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” Revelation 12:11
  3. We have the promise that the people of God will rise up in the face of adversity and serve Him. Now THAT’S revival! We will be arrayed in the splendor of the glory of God. That in itself will draw many and make the servants of Satan flee.
  4. Our strength will be renewed as needed. We are Spirit-driven. We will “mount up on wings as eagles, we will run and not grow weary, we will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31.

Folks, let’s be about the Father’s business. Let’s get up earlier and spend time with Him in His Word. Let’s look for opportunities to share something spiritual with people around us. Let’s meet in prayer groups. Let’s be intentional about displaying Jesus in our lives–and I’m not talking a fish on our car! Let’s be ready for that BIG DAY when our faith is tested. I want to be; don’t you?

Abba, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ that they would be able to see the signs of the times and get ready. It’s TIME! May they stop waiting for more signs; may they take this message personally; may they answer the Spirit’s call to “war.” Give us just a little more time, LORD Jesus. Help us to prepare. Amen.