Proverbs 30 10-30-20

Is “dishonoring the name of the LORD” a big deal to you? Is representing Him to those around you your goal?

9 …Or I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God.

We are representatives of the LORD here on this earth. In fact, Christ makes His appeal for people to be reconciled to Him through us (2 Corinthians 5:20). EVERYTHING we say and do must be considered and run through a series of filters BEFORE we say/do them. Some of these filters are:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it appropriate?
  3. Is it uplifting?
  4. Have I asked the LORD if He wants me to say/do it?

One of my favorite passages for guiding my thoughts, words and actions is Philippians 4:8-9, “Finally, brothers and sisters [all of us], whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink on such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Notice the list: TNRPLAEP. Pronounced “tenorplape”. We THINK on these things before we act. The next thing that we do is LRH (I’ve no idea how to pronounce that), which is the action part and is learned through Paul’s letters, such as this one. The promise is that God’s peace will guide and guard our hearts. If we go back to verses 4-7, we get a great picture of this peace:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The progression goes like this: Rejoice and be gentle. Pray about everything while being thankful. The confidence we have that God has the situation well in hand gives us great peace. It’s a special peace that is wrapped up in His presence. Christ brings His peace with Him when He comes to us. We access that peace when we acknowledge Him in our hearts and lives. Daily. Continuously.

Let’s consider everything we think, say and do today as we represent Christ to those around us.

Abba, the best and greatest place to represent You is at home, especially during this week as we wait for electricity to be restored to my family. May You guide us GENTLY even as we learn and practice GENTLENESS to those around us. Empower us with Your mighty Spirit, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 29 10-29-20

We need to get our heads on straight. We must seek righteousness if we would have any hope of God blessing us.

2 When the righteous [those seeking after God and His righteousness] thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked [those who seek to serve themselves] rule, the people groan.
16 When the wicked thrive, so does sin, but the righteous will see their downfall. God will ultimately have His way.
18 Where there is no revelation [discipline, correction from the LORD], people cast off restraint [of moral codes]; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.

To think that our vote is not a moral one is ludicrous. The party that wins the election will spend the next four years putting into place their own idea of morality. If the wicked take power, then God’s judgment will come upon us by Him stepping back and allowing the natural consequences of our sinful decisions to take effect. Thankfully, He uses even those consequences to call us back to Him. He even tells us ahead of time what will take place!

For instance, those who do not seek the LORD but follow the designs of their own hearts (cast off restraint), will garner everything they can to lead back to themselves. Whether it’s money, power, pleasure, or any other false god, they will point everything back to them. These actions will surely make the people groan!

Sheep are easily led. If a stubborn sheep gets up and walks away from the flock, other sheep will follow just because (they don’t need a reason). They are naturally inclined toward evil (to rebel and do their own thing).

We are sheep.

Unless we are under the Good Shepherd’s care, we are unprotected from wolves (and other stubborn sheep). Let us pray that God would give us the right leader(s) who will follow the conviction of the Spirit and lead us into righteousness.

From John 10:
14 “I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”
27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

Abba, spending time with You means acknowledging Your presence in our lives and focusing on You. Our best opportunity is when we read Your Word. May You move us beyond our “don’t-want-to” attitude (that we ALL have) and motivate us to read and listen. Speak to us, O LORD. We need to hear from You. Amen.

Proverbs 28 10-28-20

Our politics should be based upon what we know concerning God, His Will, and His Word.

4 Those who forsake instruction [from God through His Word] praise the wicked, but those who heed it resist them.

The moral compass for our nation is up to us Christians. Those who do not know Christ have no reason (they think) to follow His commands. Actually, the directive of marriage, which is one man with one woman for life, is the safest place for women and for children. It’s also the greatest place for all to enjoy family and fellowship. Any aberration of this directive brings destruction. Why? Because sin destroys us.

Another directive is about life. We are not to take another human’s life without cause (to save another human). The greatest choice a man and woman make is to create another human being. Biologists believe that there are two criteria for a human life: Is it human (23 pairs of chromosomes)? Is it alive (does it ingest food and excrete waste)? If it does both of these, then it’s a human life. From the moment of conception, a fetus has 23 pairs of chromosomes, ingests food and excretes waste. Therefore, life begins at the moment of conception and is protected under Christ’s commands and under our constitution as an inalienable right.

There are moral absolutes that come before all other concerns. I believe that our nation is teetering on the brink of judgment because of our history concerning our moral–or immoral–decisions. Let’s not allow the first part of today’s verse to become true for us. Instead, let those who heed the Word of the LORD resist the wicked (those who disregard Christ’s commands and go their own way, those who call “good” evil and “right” wrong). It’s important for our future and for the future of our children as well as our nation.

Abba, may You guide the hearts of Your children to vote according to Your will and Your way. May we set aside our preferences and even our beliefs concerning certain people and parties and vote according to the directives of Your will and Word. Speak to our hearts, LORD Jesus, speak that our souls may hear. Amen.

Proverbs 27 10-27-20

Want to know God’s will for your life today? Open His Word and spend time with Him. That IS His will!

5 Better is open rebuke than hidden love. God’s love is hidden in His Word. Let’s find it!

6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. We can trust the Spirit to “wound us” to make us better. “The word of God is a scalpel…” (Hebrews 4:12), and He uses it to remove sin and grossness from our lives.

7 One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet. Even God’s reprimand tastes sweet when we are hungry for His presence and company in our lives. We KNOW it’s for our own good.

9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from His heartfelt advice and counsel. This verse particularly applies to our LORD. He brings joy to our hearts, and His counsel is pleasant to our souls.

If God does not cause our circumstances, He at least allows them. His intention is to draw us to Himself. He knows what kinds of things are needed in our lives to get us to look to Him, to come to Him and allow Him to care for us and fellowship with us. We must remember that as His sheep, His first responsibility is not our happiness, but our safety. In His presence is the safest place I know!

Let’s spend time with Him this morning–especially if you are home due to weather–in His Word. If you have internet, use a lexicon to look up meanings of words. Tie verses together (string pearls). I tied two verses together this morning: Matthew 3:10 and Mark 11:20. Look them up and give me your assessment.

Abba, as always, You call us to Your throne where we receive mercy and grace for this hour. May we acknowledge Your continuing presence in our minds and hearts today. Thank You for being our Good Shepherd. Amen.

Proverbs 26 10-26-20

Our sin nature has made us all myopic. We need “glasses” to see things clearly. THE SCRIPTURES ARE THOSE LENSES.

12 Do you see a person wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

The Scriptures were given to us to be able to study God’s commands. God thought enough about them and about us to write them down–literally! “When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.” Exodus 31:18. He also had it written down for us, “Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said.” Exodus 24:4.

We know that “All Scripture is God-breathed [remember that God created the heavens and the earth with His words and breathed life into Adam with His breath] and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Granted, at this point in history, Paul was referring to the Old Testament, but we also include the New Testament because these people walked with Jesus Christ and we believe that He guided them in what they wrote:

  • Paul met the LORD on the road to Damascus and had an out-of-body experience sometime during his ministry (Acts 9 and 2 Corinthians 12:1-10)
  • John met the LORD on the Isle of Patmos (Revelation)
  • Peter walked with Jesus before and after His resurrection
  • James and Jude grew up with Jesus and at least James met with Him after His resurrection.
  • We don’t know who wrote Hebrews, but he was at least from the same generation as those who walked with Jesus.

Let’s allow the LORD to give us insight and perspective as we read His Word today.

Abba, may You “show us great and mighty things that we do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3) as we delve the mysteries of Your Word. Teach us and equip us, O LORD. We can’t do anything spiritually lasting without You (John 15:5). Amen.

Proverbs 25 10-25-20

We either walk in the flesh or we walk in the Spirit. There’s not an in between. Let’s choose to walk in the Spirit.

Proverbs 25:18-20 (NIV)

Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is the man who gives false testimony against his neighbor.

Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble.

Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.

These verses show us that a person walking in the flesh (our own strength, knowledge and wisdom) can be very insensitive, unreliable, and in error about many things. In fact, without the Holy Spirit’s guidance and discernment, we will be wrong MOST of the time.

Let’s use an illustration from today’s technological world: We are designed to be incorporated into a network via the Holy Spirit. HE is our CPU. If we never access the Mainframe, then our files become corrupted. Actually, they began with a virus, which is our sin nature, so we were corrupted from the beginning. Only Jesus can wipe our hard drive clean, restore our original programming, and reconnect us to the mainframe.

Let’s stay connected to Him through His Word, prayer, worship, fellowship and teaching. We MUST have a steady diet of each of these in order to be healthy spiritually. Just sayin. Have a great day in church.

Abba, May Your Spirit move mightily among Your people today. May we connect with You and with each other through You. Bind our hearts together with cords that cannot be broken, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 24 10-24-20

Want your life to be beautiful to others? To God? To your LORD? Spend time with Him in His Word.

Proverbs 24:3-4 (NIV)

By wisdom a house is built,

and through understanding it is established;

through knowledge its rooms are filled

with rare and beautiful treasures.

We receive wisdom, understanding and knowledge from the Spirit, but unless we want a life-altering (and terrifying) experience like the prophets of old when they encountered the LORD in person, we can read His Word and “hear” His voice just fine. The key is to avail ourselves to Him through the Scriptures.

What we DON’T want is for verse seven to be said of us, “Wisdom is too high for fools; in the assembly at the gate they must not [had better not] open their mouths.” At which point, 17:28 becomes true for them, “Even fools are thought to be wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”

Let’s be wise in the LORD today, spending time with Him in His glorious Word. We will be wise, understanding, and knowledgeable today for it.

Abba, thank You for calling me this morning to get up and read Your Word. You always have an important and timely message for me, even if it’s just how much You love me. I receive that! I love You, too. Amen.

Proverbs 23 10-23-20

The Father is concerned with what is in our hearts. Are we as concerned as He is?

Proverbs 23:15-16 (NIV)

My son, if your heart is wise,

then my heart will be glad;

my inmost being will rejoice

when your lips speak what is right.

To know on what our LORD placed a high value, let’s look at Matthew 15:17-20,

“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’”

Jesus is much more concerned with what comes out of our mouths than we realize. Our words reveal our hearts. Let’s take time today—many times today—to have Him cleanse us of unclean thoughts. Let’s take time this morning to wash our minds with the water of the Word. Let’s allow Him to transform our minds and to give us righteous thoughts. HE WILL!

Abba, May we take as seriously as You our thoughts and words. I know that our deeds will follow. Amen.

Proverbs 22 10-22-20

Learn to discern. Acting on what we discern is called prudence. Listen to the Spirit!

3 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

As I said yesterday, this list of spiritual disciplines is not a comprehensive list, but it does comprise a majority of them. It is taken from the website, Twelve Spiritual Disciplines.

  1. Bible Study- 2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
  2. Prayer- Matthew 6:5-15
  3. Fasting- Matthew 6:16-18
  4. Confession- Proverbs 28:13, 1 John 1:9, James 5:16
  5. Worship- 1 Chronicles 16:29, Ephesians 5:18-20 and Matthew 4:10
  6. Fellowship- Acts 2:42, Hebrews 10:24-25
  7. Rest- Matthew 11:28, Mark 6:31
  8. Celebration- Philippians 4:4, Ecclesiastes 5:18-19, 1 Corinthians 10:31
  9. Service- Colossians 3:23-24, Matthew 23:11, Mark 10:45, John 13:15
  10. Generosity- Acts 20:35, 2 Corinthians 9:7, 1 Timothy 6:17-18
  11. Chastity- 1 Corinthians 7:1-5, Acts 15:20, Matthew 5:27-28
  12. Disciple making- Matthew 28:19, Matthew 4:19, Acts 5:42

Rest is something that our society takes to two extremes. Either we run ragged working and playing , or we don’t work at all. Even retirement can be like the second one. God never intended for us to be idle. He always has something for us to do for Him. In the meantime, we need rest at least one day a week. It’s a time of restoration, meditation, worship and family. Be intentional about all of these aspects.

Celebration is a necessity. We mark our lives by them. Birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, graduations, and even deaths are a big deal. God says to celebrate. He even says to rejoice always in our salvation in Him. Let’s have a party!

Generosity is something that is grown. It comes through little acts with occasions of big acts. In fact, the big acts come out of many little acts. It all starts with a generous heart. Are we willing to give of our time, talents, money and resources when God asks? We are supposed to be good stewards by being discerning in any situation, but we lean toward error and allow God to deal with the recipient trusting that He will replace what is given out of the riches of His glory and our inheritance.

Chastity- Society, of course, is going to lead us in the wrong direction about pretty much everything, but particularly in the department of sex. It’s the best place to derail people because it requires investment, and with investment comes misplaced loyalty. Let’s be loyal to our LORD by being chaste: no sex before marriage and then one man with one woman for life. It’s the best and safest way.

Disciple-making is what happens when we dive in daily with the LORD and then get excited about what He’s doing in our lives. Whether it’s sharing things that we learn, gently correcting and guiding through Scripture passages, or even doling out spiritual nuggets at the store, we all can be disciple makers. Whoever God gives us to disciple, let’s be intentional about it. Discipleship is a slow process. It’s more caught than taught. Let’s be good disciples so that we can make good disciples.

ABBA, each of these points are good for us. Help us to ponder them and allow You to lead us in them. DAILY. Forsaking all else, we trust You, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 21 10-21-20

We come to Christ in need of either forgiveness or help–sometimes both! Either way, He’s ready to save!

8 The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright.
16 Whoever strays from the path of prudence comes to rest in the company of the dead.
21 Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.
29 The wicked put up a bold front, but the upright give thought to their ways.

How about taking the “edge” off of some of our crises by preparing for them ahead of time? God forbid that we should take a proactive approach to our spiritual well being! Many of what people call judgements of God are actually built-in consequences that happen when we get out from under His umbrella of protection. He tells us ahead of time what will happen if we do, and –whammo–they do! But, just in case we think that God is being unfair or unjust or even just mean, we must remember that we did it to ourselves. He just told us up front.

So, what kind of things can we do to stave off some of the “judgements of God?” Walking beside Him is the BEST remedy (Galatians 5:24-25). It’s when we go wandering off on our own that we get into trouble. Sheep do that. To help us stay right beside our Savior, here are some spiritual disciplines that work! How do I know? Because He said they would, and because they are tested and true, proven by Christians throughout the centuries. This list of spiritual disciplines is not a comprehensive list, but it does comprise a majority of them. It is taken from the website, Twelve Spiritual Disciplines. We will look at the first half today and the second half tomorrow.

  1. Bible Study- 2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
  2. Prayer- Matthew 6:5-15
  3. Fasting- Matthew 6:16-18
  4. Confession- Proverbs 28:13, 1 John 1:9, James 5:16
  5. Worship- 1 Chronicles 16:29, Ephesians 5:18-20 and Matthew 4:10
  6. Fellowship- Acts 2:42, Hebrews 10:24-25
  7. Rest-
  8. Celebration-
  9. Service-
  10. Generosity-
  11. Chastity-
  12. Disciple making-

Studying the Scriptures is important, but we must remember that it is Jesus in the Scriptures whom we seek. “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” John 5:39-40. Let’s not make the same mistake that the Pharisees did. Let’s seek Jesus in the Scriptures, for He is the One who gives us eternal life and renews us daily.

Prayer is being in conversation with God. We can address the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit because they are THREE IN ONE: When we address one, we address them all. A running dialogue is a great way to keep Him on the “front burner” of our minds. It also helps when He prompts us in a direction, gives us caution in a conversation, calls our attention to a specific subject, or gives us insight into what others may be going through at a particular moment. All of these situations are useful in wisdom and discretion, ministry and evangelism.

Fasting is a discipline of which I am not acquainted. I will study it more…

When it comes to confession, make sure that the person to which you are confessing is discreet and mature. Also, public confession must be prompted by the Holy Spirit. It’s usually for a special time and place–and it’s His call. If your confessor is someone from out of town, a long-time friend of the same sex, and not someone who is in your circle of regular friends, so much the better!

Worship is responding to God. We do it through prayer, music, obedience, dancing, praising, crying, giving–any way that is a response to His moving in our lives. Our worship services are designed to give people the opportunity to respond to God, whether it’s praise, thanksgiving, confession, intercession, or supplication. The worst thing we can do is just sit/stand there and endure. What a waste!

Fellowship includes laughter, talking, listening, discussing and even debating. Hebrew Christians call it “haverim,” which is based upon Jesus’ pronouncement that where two or more are gathered in His name, He will be there, too (Matthew 18:20).

Let’s be proactive about these disciplines. Map out how you can put them into practice in your life. Some require daily work. No matter. We have eternity to work on it! But, let’s not wait to get started. The more disciplined we are, the more like Christ we are!

Abba, please teach us to be like You. Lead us to be like You even as we walk beside You. Instruct us as we go, LORD. You have the words of life. Amen.

Tomorrow, the other six…

Proverbs 20 10-20-20

Nobody likes to be disciplined. It chafes our self-image. But, if we want to be like Christ, get ready for it!

30 Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.

Most of us tend to have a double standard when it comes to how we judge other people and then ourselves (we’re a lot easier on ourselves!). The problem is that God knows our hearts! There are ELEVEN different references in this single chapter concerning God knowing our intentions and disciplining us. They are:

A king’s [our King’s] wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion;
    those who anger him forfeit their lives [God takes over our lives].

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters [it’s complicated], but one who has insight [God] draws them out [helps us to sort out our feelings].

When a king [our King] sits on his throne to judge,
    he winnows out all evil with his eyes [helps us to discern].

10 Differing weights and differing measures [our double standards]—
    the Lord detests them both.

12 Ears that hear and eyes that see [how we interpret what we hear and see]—the Lord has made them both [and knows what we hear and see].

22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!”
    Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you [leave the disciplining to God].

23 The Lord detests differing weights [again, our double standards],
    and dishonest scales do not please him.

24 A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way [God knows the intent of our hearts]?

26 A wise king [our King] winnows out the wicked; he drives the threshing wheel over them [separating the bad from the good in our lives–painfully!].

27 The human spirit is [scrutinized by] the lamp of the Lord
    that sheds light on one’s inmost being.

30 Blows and wounds scrub away evil [from our souls], and beatings purge the inmost being [discipline hurts; we can be slow learners].
“Strike me; it is a kindness…” Psalm 141:5

If you’re like me, you probably read over these pretty quickly. I hope you noticed the notes in brackets. They help us place the verses in context to our lives today. There is one more verse that I want us to read today:

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. Hebrews 12:11

  1. Discipline/painful- it’s never pleasant, so if you are not enjoying where God has you right now, just know that you are in the right place–as long as we work to learn the lesson in the discipline. Otherwise, we are bound to repeat it, but with higher stakes and greater consequences!
  2. Later on…- In this phrase lies our hope. We can trust our LORD to bring about His righteousness in us. He wants us to be holy. Like Him. In fact, He is making us to be holy, just like Him! (See the Song of Zechariah)
  3. Produces- This word indicates that there is a product that the LORD wants to see as a result of our discipline. What is that product?
  4. A harvest- Jesus refers to a harvest in the Sower and the Soils (Mark 4:3-8). He is letting us know that it’s not a 1:1 ratio, but a 1:30, 1:60, 1:100 ratio! This is GOOD news. We will bear much fruit.
  5. Righteousness and peace- These are the harvest that Jesus wants to produce in our lives. He gives us righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) and peace (John 14:27)!
  6. Trained by it- “it” being discipline.

What ARE some of the disciplines of the LORD? We will deal with THAT question tomorrow!

Abba, I pray for my readers that today they will perceive and understand that whatever discipline You are using in their lives is for their good and Your glory. As we become more like Jesus, we bring You glory! I love the verse 2 Corinthians 3:18, which says, “And we…are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory [for You], which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” It’s all for You, heavenly Father. YOU are the One we praise. Amen.

Proverbs 19 10-19-20

Seasons of refreshing come from meeting with Jesus. It’s important to meet with Him; it’s how we get to know Him.

2 Desire [to know Christ] without knowledge [taking time to get to know Him] is not good–how much more will hasty feet [too busy to stop and spend quality time with Him in prayer, Bible study, and fellowship/worship] miss the way.
3 A person’s own folly [thinking that he knows best] leads to their ruin [the missing of the blessing of a close relationship with the LORD], yet their heart rages against the LORD [as if it’s His fault that they wouldn’t take time to meet with Him!].

In Mark 5, we read the account of Jairus the synagogue ruler and the healing of his daughter. We also find the account of the woman who had been ill for 12 years. Each of these people had an encounter with Jesus. Do you think they were grateful? I sure do! I wonder if they desired more time with Jesus? Did they follow Him from then on?

How about you? From what did Jesus set you free when you encountered Jesus? Were you grateful? Are you still grateful? Do you desire more time with Him? The good news is that WE CAN HAVE MORE TIME WITH HIM. He calls us every day to set aside some time for just you and Him. Don’t be in such a hurry (and full of yourself) that you miss out on the TRUE BLESSING of your salvation.

Take a look at the disciples in verse 40, “After He put them all out [of the house], He took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with Him [Peter, John and James (Luke 8:51)], and went in where the child was.” What was the purpose of these three getting to witness this miracle? These three also got to experience the Mount of Transfiguration (see Mark 9:2-8). When we look at history, God used these three in extraordinary ways in building His Church. We get to hear from them each time we read their letters in our Bibles. In fact, we get to experience their experiences as we read about them because Jesus affirms in our hearts the truth of these experiences. He opens our minds to what He was showing them: His divinity. Our faith (our hope and trust, our reliance) is increased when we read these encounters in His Word.

In many ways, we are still in school. We are learning to be godly even as we learn what godliness is. One of my favorite verses is Titus 2:12, “It [the grace of God] teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” God’s grace, which is the active ingredient in our salvation, a.k.a. the Holy Spirit, teaches us. There are times for instruction and then times of practice; there are times of demonstration and then times of experimentation where we try out what we have learned. If we keep this concept in mind, it will help us to discipline ourselves and spend the time and effort with the LORD we need to learn how to be like Him.

Are you truly grateful? Then apply yourself to the spiritual disciplines of prayer, the study of Scriptures, and talking about the LORD with those around you–family, friends, strangers at Wal-mart, etc.

Abba, I pray that You will become bigger and bigger in our lives so that being with You and being like You becomes our biggest desire. May we see You in action around us and join You in Your work. Open our eyes, LORD, to You and what You are doing in the lives of those around us even as we spend intimate time with You. Amen.

Proverbs 18 10-18-20

Our actions are not our own to make. We must consult the Spirit first. Otherwise, what’s the point of salvation?

When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes reproach.

When wickedness comes–choosing our way over God’s way. It’s rebellion. We tend to see certain acts as wicked acts, but really, any act that is NOT SPIRIT-LED is a wicked act. We are all wicked at heart. Praise be to God for His mercy and His grace!

So does contempt–This sword slices both ways. We tend to hold people in contempt when we are focused on ourselves. Likewise, those to whom we show a contemptible attitude hold us in contempt. Christians are called on by God to fight through these feelings; non-Christians have no such compunction (the prick of conviction).

With shame–The shame we feel when we have these feelings of contempt for someone is the Holy Spirit’s presence and participation. He is calling us to repent and to come back to the Narrow Way. Many times, this call comes with our wicked actions in the form of consequences. Sin destroys us: our relationships, our health, the atmosphere of our social environment, etc.

Comes reproach–Reproach is the judgment of our actions and our unwillingness to repent. It’s the punishment and/or correction of our actions. As children of the King, the last thing we want is to be rebuked by our LORD.

What we need to realize is that we are to take EVERY thought captive to our LORD Jesus Christ so that we can find out how to make it obedient to Him (2 Corinthians 10:5). Our every action should be based upon a conversation WE HAVE ALREADY HAD with the Spirit about the subject. Paul’s admonition to “pray without ceasing” comes into play here (Ephesians 6:18 and 1 Thessalonians 5:19). Our constant communication with the Spirit is what our salvation is all about!

This morning as we come together to worship corporately, may we have already communed with the Spirit, checked our wickedness (our tendency to see/do things our own way) at the door, and be ready to praise and honor our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. We will be honoring the Father as we turn to Him, and His Spirit will rejoice within us, which causes us to praise Him all the more, which causes more rejoicing, and so on (I started to say that it lasts all day, but it’s really forever!).

Abba, the wickedness of my heart shows every time I butt heads with Your Spirit. May I quickly “die to self and live for Christ” as You gently lead me in the way everlasting. I can hardly wait to get out of this body of sin!!! In the meantime, I will trust in You for grace, mercy, patience, correction, and forgiveness. I love You. I’m SO GLAD You love me.

Looking forward to worshipping with my brothers and sisters, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 17 10-17-20

Want to know where you are spiritually? Find yourself in the Parable of the Sower. It’s IMPORTANT and quite revealing!

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

In the parable (story with a point) of the Sower, we find four different soils: The path, rocky soil, weedy soil, and good soil. Let’s read.

 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” Mark 4:3-8

What can we learn from Jesus’ teaching? He explains the parable later to His disciples:

14 The farmer sows the word [Gospel]. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

What it boils down to is does a person believe that God has revealed Himself through Scripture? If so, then we accept God’s own testimony about His Son, Jesus Christ.

Everything revolves around our willingness to trust
what He has said in His Word (whether we hear it or read it) and to make every decision in our lives based upon the truth of His Word.

IF God inspired the writers to write down truth about Him and His Son,
IF God preserved those words throughout history to this present day,
IF the Spirit moves and speaks through those words as they are spoken or read,
THEN we can trust what the Scriptures say,
THEN we can hear Him speaking to us through them,
THEN what they say about the future is dependable,
THEN we will receive power to live according to God’s principles laid out in His Word.

What we can learn from the parable:

  1. Many people hear the message of God’s love and forgiveness, but because of the hardness of their hearts, which have been hardened by the lusts of their eyes, the lusts of their flesh, and their pride of life (1 John 2:16), they willingly turn away from the Truth.
  2. Many people hear the message about our Savior and it seems good to them, so they receive it. Notice that the decision was theirs in that there was no Holy Spirit-conviction. It was based upon an intellectual decision. The problem with a head-decision versus a heart-decision is that the Spirit does not transform the person, therefore, when hardship, persecution, or even just a conflict of wills comes, the person reverts to his old ways. “A dog to its vomit and a pig to its mud.”
  3. This soil is where most of the church today lives. We love Jesus, but we tend to ignore the rest of His title, which is Adonai (LORD) Yeshua (Jesus) Ha’Mashiach (King, Anointed One). We want the promise of heaven, but we also want wealth, health, comfort, pleasure, power, leisure, and everything else this world offers. Jesus said that a person that puts his hand to the plow (accepts the Gospel) and then looks back (desires what was) is not fit (is out of shape mentally, physically, and spiritually) for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). The LORD Jesus is still waiting for His Church to give Him their entire lives. It makes me wonder if they really are born again–that’s not my call. If they say they love Jesus, then I will exhort them to love Him with all of their hearts, souls, minds and with all their strength. Eventually, maybe they’ll get it.
  4. This soil is where we want to be! Those who meet with the LORD Jesus daily in the pages of Scripture find true wealth: The JOY of His Presence (Psalm 16:11, 1 Peter 1:8-9), PEACE that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7), His LOVE abounding in our hearts for Him (Philippians 1:9-11), for ourselves, and for others, and His MERCY and GRACE in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Notice that they all come from Scripture.

Today, how about moving from soil #3 to seed #4? All it takes is turning to Jesus and giving Him your life for today, for right now, and then to read, thus allowing Him to speak to your heart. He CAN and DOES speak to us directly, but He has chosen to speak to us mainly through His written Word to us, the Scriptures, our Bible. Once we hide God’s words in our heart (Psalm 119:11), He REMINDS us of what we have read as we need to know (John 14:26) and interprets according to our circumstances.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would comprehend the import of Your revealed message to us. The Scriptures are Your love letter to Your children! May we read them and understand Your love and passion for us. May we receive Your Plan as our plan, and Your will as our will realizing that You want only the BEST for us (sin destroys us). Each morning, I revel in this truth based upon Psalm 73:23-26: I am always with You, You hold me by my hand, you guide me with Your counsel as we walk, and one day You will take me home to be with You in glory. WOW! Whom have I in heaven besides You, O LORD? And this earth has nothing I desire besides You! My heart and my flesh fail me all the time, but YOU are the strength of my heart and my portion, my Choice, forever. Come live in and through me, LORD Jesus, I beg You. Amen.

Proverbs 16 10-16-20

“Do as I say, not as I do,” is not good modeling. Why do we expect others, esp. our kids, to do what we don’t?

2 All a person’s ways seem pure to him, but his motives are weighed by the LORD.

Here are a few verses to let us know that God knows what’s really going on in our hearts and heads:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

11 Death and Destruction [hell] lie open before the Lord—
    how much more do human hearts!
Proverbs 15:11

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 (verses 14-16 give us perspective of verses 12-13: Firm faith, an empathetic high priest, an approachable throne and God, and grace and mercy available to us anytime we need it).

NOTE: If you have any doubts about whether you are a Christian, or if you have never given your heart and life to Jesus Christ, click here: I’m Not So Bad…Am I?

What we need to decide is who we want to please: Do we want to please the LORD who gave His life on the cross in our place so that He could have a personal, intimate relationship with us, or do we want to please ourselves regardless of the cost to ourselves and to those around us?

1 Peter 5:3 talks about us being examples to the flock, “Shepherd and guide  and protect the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not [motivated] for shameful gain, but with wholehearted enthusiasm; not lording it over those assigned to your care [do not be arrogant or overbearing], but be examples [of Christian living] to the flock [set a pattern of integrity for your congregation]. AMPLIFIED Version

Whether your “congregation” is family, friends, workmates, or a group of people, we are to model Christ to them. And, the only way to know how to do such a thing is to ask Him to show us. We model Christ as we are obedient to Him and act just like He tells us in the Scriptures and in our hearts. For instance, how does Jesus respond to children? He blesses them (Matthew 19:13-14). Another question would be, how does Jesus respond to compromising situations? He redirects and does not condemn, but rather deals in grace and exhorts us to go and live righteously (John 8:1-11). One more: Jesus said for anyone who would come after Him to take up his cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Did Jesus model taking up His cross for us? Absolutely!

Our lives as Christians cannot be about us and what we want to do. We must decide daily–even minutely–to set ourselves aside and be Christ to those around us, especially to lost people (they are potential brothers and sisters in Christ; don’t forget that). Paul’s answer to Jesus’ call to take up our cross and follow Him is found in Galatians 2:20,

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,
but Christ lives in me. 
The life I now live in the body,
I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, 
who loved me and gave himself for me.

I’ll give you a hint: If you initially don’t like doing right, then you’re on the right track. Our flesh hates doing anything that isn’t self-satisfying. Later on, however, the Spirit gives us peace and joy and “a certain satisfaction” that comes from being pleasing to Him (and obedient).

Let’s trust our Good Shepherd and be obedient sheep. He has green pastures in store for us.

Abba, may I heed my own words. Patience is NOT in my human nature. Neither is kindness. May I exude both to those around me, especially to my family. I know that if I can demonstrate these qualities to my family, then I can demonstrate them to anyone anywhere! I know Christianity is a practice; may You help me “develop my swing.” Amen.

Proverbs 15 10-15-20

Just how godly do you want to be? How much like God interests you? Your answer will determine how you read this chapter.

1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

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

2 The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

Are you interested in being wise? If so, then you will learn discernment of the Spirit. Allow Him to okay what you want to say; if you feel a “check” in your spirit, then don’t say anything. In the words of my good friend, Ricky Griffin, “Think about what you’re going to say, and then don’t say it.”

4 The gentle, soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

What is your intention? Are you interested in being a peacemaker (see Matthew 5:9)? If so, then you will guard your tongue. I substitute for the word, “perverse” (which means twisted toward evil), these words: willful, contrary, unloving, disrespectful, spiteful, angry, cruel, harsh, and ungodly. I’m sure that we can add more. In fact, send me some. I’ll add them to my list.

8 The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases Him.

We could write a book expounding on this verse! Much of the Old Testament is wrapped around the Israelites’ unwillingness to give up their wicked ways, but then they would come to the temple and “worship God.” Their actions spoke much louder than their words. Ours do, too. The verse says that God detests–abhors, shuns, considers highly offensive--that kind of behavior. God is interested in a relationship with us. Our prayers and our willingness to strive to be like Him are what please Him. Are you interested in being like Him?

Let’s do one more:

26 The LORD detests (there’s that word again) the thoughts of the wicked, but gracious words are pure in His sight.

Is God gracious? Has He been gracious to you? The CROSS is the answer to that question; His love and mercy and grace are, too. The in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit is God’s most gracious act toward us. He lives inside of us, walking with us wherever we go! Let’s capitalize on His graciousness and get to know the God of the universe–and of us. We can start by allowing Him to renew our minds (Romans 12:2). He will take it from there. We need to learn to allow Him to be first in our lives. He is our LORD. Allow Him to be so. Consider these phrases:

More of Him; less of me
(John 3:30)

He is First; I am Second
(Iamsecond.com)

May we die to self and live for Christ
(Galatians 2:20)

Abba, may we all set aside our agendas and our personal desires and take up Your agenda and Your desires. We don’t even know what they are, but we trust that You will let us know as we go along. I know that reading Your Word gives me great clues and insights. Give us the desire to know You more deeply and intimately, LORD. May we choose to be just like You–as You give us the desire and the power to do so. Today, I choose to walk in step with You, LORD Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 14 10-14-20

Many have forgotten the depths from which we were saved. Christ gave His life; what are we giving for Him? It would seem as little time and energy as possible…

2 Whoever fears the LORD walks uprightly, but those who despise Him are devious in their ways.
4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.

I like verse four. It basically tells me that God is willing to put up with a “dirty stall” to have “oxen” for the harvest. The key word to this verse is “commitment.” God wants commitment from us, and He’s willing to put up with the “stuff” in our lives to have a relationship with us. He saved us through Jesus Christ from the depths of our sinfulness. We couldn’t save ourselves; we needed Him! We owe Him everything.

Yet, we seem to have forgotten that if left to ourselves, we will revert back to our old ways; we forget that most people in this world are NOT believers and they don’t love the LORD Jesus–in fact, many are hostile to Him, and therefore, us. WE ARE SWIMMING UPSTREAM! The sooner we realize that, the better off we will be. We must work hard for Christ, WITH Christ and with each other in order to overcome, to have victory, and to avoid the traps that Satan sets for us. Actually, they are built into this world; it’s why we must be careful about how involved we get with it. Paul had something to say on the subject:

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officerSimilarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 2 Timothy 2:3-6

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

If the question is whether you do it your way or His way, didn’t you settle that question upon salvation? If you are still struggling with it, you may still be struggling with salvation rather than lordship. Consider this: Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 2 Corinthians 13:5.

If your desire is to please Him, but you are still at war with yourself, then get alone with the LORD for a couple of hours; read His Word (preferably 1 John, Romans, and Ephesians); seek Him in prayer as you repent and reflect upon Him and what He might be asking you to do that has you so scared. Our fear comes from envisioning the future WITHOUT Christ; envision it WITH Him and you will find an excitement about it! Try it–DO IT!

Abba, I struggle with sin in my life, but I know that You are the One who is keeping me clean on the inside even as I strive to stay clean on the outside. I pray for my readers that they would rediscover their gratefulness for all You have done for them. May they be willing to pick up a Bible and find out who You are. It’s important–especially as the election draws near. Help us, O God, to seek You with all our hearts. Amen.

2020 Election Guide from Franklin Graham

Proverbs 13 10-13-20

How do we keep our love for Christ from growing cold (part 2)? Isn’t it His responsibility to keep us on fire?

10 Where there is strife [pride], there is pride [strife], but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.

God is always talking to us. His Spirit teaches us, “explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” 1 Corinthians 2:13. In fact, “the Spirit Himself [continuously] testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:16. With the Spirit speaking to us continuously, how is it that we get so estranged from Him?

  1. Pride. It’s in verse 10. Our pride keeps us from accepting what the Spirit has to say, thus creating strife in our relationship. The willingness to take advice speaks of humility. Remembering that He is God and we are not is essential to a good and healthy relationship with the Father.
  2. Snares. We get caught in snares. These snares lead us to death–literally, if allowed to be carried to their full extent. Thankfully, when we repent, God leads us out of the valley of death and into pleasant pastures (sometimes it takes a while). Learning the teaching of the wise leads us to the fountain of life, which is Christ, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37-38.

From where do we learn this “teaching of the wise?” From the written Word of God!

  1. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8
  2. Read the word of the LORD. It was written down for YOU. “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm and all of them are righteous.” Psalm 19:7-9
  3. Memorize and apply daily–continuously. Consider it therapy or medicine (salve). “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103
  4. Meet together with other Christians. “Do not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25
  5. God’s word to us: Talk about it, live it, breathe it. “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deut. 6:7-9

Hear God’s heart: “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” Deut. 5:29

God wants to bless us. All we have to do is stay close to Him. Proverbs 8 ends with this blessing: “Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For those who find me find life and receive favor from the LORD.” Proverbs 8:34-35. Let’s be diligent about drawing near to God each day by talking to Him through His Word. As we read His words, the Spirit explains to us spiritual things. We respond in adoration and praise to Him. We are blessed and He is blessed! It’s a win/win moment for everyone!

Abba, as You remind us to come to You in prayer and by reading the Scriptures, I hear Your voice and respond by getting out my Bible and reading. You speak to me from the pages to my heart–“from Your mouth to my ears.” If you carried the Israelites on eagles’ wings (Exodus 19:4), how much more will You interact with us through the in-dwelling of Your Holy Spirit! May I “kill” my pride and come to You with a humble heart. Teach me, O God, for I crave Your Presence, in which I receive Your love, joy, peace, hope, and “mercy and grace for the day” (Hebrews 4:16). Amen.

Proverbs 12 10-12-20

How do we keep our love for God from growing cold? It’s hard to sustain a one-sided relationship…

15 The way of [arrogant] fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice [from the Holy Spirit].
24 Diligent hands will rule [our own hearts], but laziness ends in forced labor [in bondage to sin].

Jesus made a comment in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) that applies to today’s times,

12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:12-13

We tend to be influenced by our surroundings, be it work, TV, internet, books, those with whom we hang, media, etc. There are a thousand voices out there, but there is only ONE to which we are to listen, and that Voice is the Holy Spirit who is within us.

A one-sided relationship is one that only one person in the relationship is trying. One is a giver and the other is a taker. What makes a relationship work is when both parties are givers. In order for us to determine who is the giver and who is the taker in our relationship with the LORD, let’s read:

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:4-6

You will notice that we are BOTH givers and takers. We are in a partnership with the LORD. Our relationship is symbiotic. The problem comes when we don’t recognize when He’s giving to us. Let me set your mind at ease: We don’t have to work so hard at our relationship with the LORD; we just have to work diligently. In other words, let’s be steady in our walk with Him.

Most people think that praying to God, reading our Bibles, and going to church is the extent of our responsibilities as a good follower of Jesus Christ. Yes and no. HOW we do these things makes ALL the difference in the world. If you’ll notice, praying to God and reading our Bibles are seen as two different things. NOT SO! Reading our Bibles is God talking to us! When we open the Scriptures (the Bible is what we call the collection of God’s love letter to us), we open a line of communication between God and us. The Spirit speaks to us through God’s Word. For instance, when we read about King David, we “realize” (via the Holy Spirit talking to us) that we are capable of great love, but also great failure; when we read of King Solomon, we “realize” that the things of this world, in his case his many foreign wives, can lead us astray; when we read of Paul, we “realize” that a true encounter with the LORD Jesus will change our minds and hearts in an instant.

If you want to know what God thinks, ask Him and then read His Word. He wrote it down for us so that we wouldn’t miss it! He even instilled the Holy Spirit to interpret His Words. Do you really want to know? It’s a question of Lordship.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would choose You to be LORD of their lives today, and then tomorrow to make the same choice. I know that if I do it categorically, then I am much more likely to make every decision based upon that first decision. May they find this truth for themselves as You call us to our commitment. If we listen, You are calling us into a permanent, lasting, intimate conversation with You: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will show you great and wondrous things that you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 (God’s phone number). I’m calling, LORD. Let’s talk.

Proverbs 11 10-11-20

How serious does a situation have to get before we get serious about our lives? Christ takes precedence over everything!

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

We tend to live our lives as if they will stay the same forever. Even if our circumstances are bad, we tend to see them as permanent. The problem is that the only constant in our lives is “change.” From cars that quit running (had that happen recently) to governments changing (we’re liable to see that soon), life is full of change.

The only REAL Constant is the love of God through Jesus Christ our LORD. His Spirit in us gives us hope in worrisome days, peace in the midst of storms, and joy on the inside regardless of what’s going on outside. I’ll bet you’re wondering why the pep talk. It’s because I’m going to ask you to do something that you’ll probably think is not necessary, that things are not bad enough, or that it’s not for you. We’ll see…

If Christ were to come tomorrow, would He find you doing His work? If Christ were not to come in your lifetime, would your life cause Him to say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant?” In our current political and social climate, let’s rise above both and put our sights on what is truly important: Getting the message of Christ out to the world. How?

  1. Our actions speak much louder than our words. What we consider important says a lot about what/Who we worship. Since Paul’s establishment of the church outside of Israel, Christians have made and kept Sunday as our “special day” (because of Christ’s resurrection on the first day of the week) to come together as believers and worship together. It’s not really our “Sabbath,” but it IS the day agreed upon by this body of believers, i.e. Brookwood, to come together for Bible study, fellowship, worship, and to hear what the LORD has put on our pastor’s heart. Let’s make Sunday Special again.
  2. Where we spend our time in public says a lot to unbelievers. If we are no different than they in where we eat, what we drink, and what we listen to, then our relationship with Christ must not be at the top of our agenda. The LORD Jesus is all about recreating Himself in us. Are we allowing Him to do that?
  3. The goals we have in this world sometimes outweigh the goals we have for His world (heaven). We must remember that in heaven, there is no sin; it is judged at the door, so to speak. Everything from this life that is not godly and holy is left behind as we enter eternity. The problem is that if worldly possessions are all we have, then we have no gift to give to our King. BAD NEWS. Health, wealth, and a free calendar do NOT count as eternal goals. God is in charge of our lives; allow Him to be in charge.
  4. I’m sure that you think that I harp on you about reading your Bibles. There’s a good reason for it: God speaks to us through the Scriptures! Do you want to hear God talk out loud to you? Then read His Word out loud. If you’re not interested in Him having a say in your life, or if you are not interested in hearing what He has to say, then, by all means, ignore His Word. Otherwise, dust it off and break it open! Then, start listening.

I told you it wasn’t pretty. It’s time for us to quit playing “Christian” and get down to business. Our neighbors are scared, our nation is divided, and we’re acting just like lost folks. How do we remedy this situation? We REPENT and PRAY. TOGETHER. Let’s start today. See you in church (a lot of you, anyway).

Abba, may I be about Your business today. As we honor our police and Highway Patrol today (Faith In Blue), may You call them to honor You by giving You their lives. May Your Spirit whoosh down on us and bring revival. Me first, LORD! Even if it hurts. Amen.

Proverbs 10 10-10-20

We tend to make spending time with God about us giving to Him–when it’s really the other way around!

2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness [righteous treasure] delivers from death.

What are “ill-gotten treasures”? Anything gained for our own glory, security, or pleasure; when it’s all about “me.”

What are “righteous treasures”? Any blessing from the LORD (v6), security gained by integrity (v9), knowledge (concerning the LORD) shared (v11, 13), love that covers all wrongs (v12), discipline that leads to life in Christ (v17), understanding gained through godly wisdom (v23), granted desire (v24 and Psalm 37:4), the fear of the LORD (v.27), JOY (v28), and REFUGE (v29).

We GET much more than we GIVE.

Our heavenly Father wants to spend time with us so that He can shower us with His blessings. Don’t believe me? Then read these verses:

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

23 Repent at my rebuke!
    Then
I will pour out my thoughts [and heart] to you,
    I will make known to you my teachin
gs
. Proverbs 1:23

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33-36

To skip reading His Word and spending quality time with the LORD is to severely short-change ourselves and will greatly hinder us as we try to serve Him in our own power–which, in reality, is sin because it’s in our power and not God’s. The only way to get God’s power is to be with Him in mind and heart–to actually be WITH Him in attention, focus and attitude. The GOAL is ALWAYS COMMUNION. Prayer and Bible study are the only two ways I know to get me where I want to be, which is in a state of awareness of His Presence in me and His Participation in my life.

Let’s give ourselves the best chance we can to live with and for Him by reading the Scriptures today, and then conforming to the Spirit’s will and obeying His commands as we go though this day.

Abba, I pray that You will teach us how to be good students of Your Word. It’s a day-by-day/play-by-play decision on our part to subdue our own nature and allow You to rise in our hearts and take Your throne there. Help us to get beyond our personal feelings and focus on what is the RIGHT thing to do in accordance to Your leadership in our lives and hearts. I know that the Scriptures contain all of the basic ingredients that You want us to have in order for You to make us righteous and holy, complete and mature. May we become less and You become MORE in our lives, LORD Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 9 10-9-20

Having the mind of Christ is messy–it messes with our logic, our feelings, and our beliefs. Listen to Him!

9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
16 …we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16

From yesterday: “This chapter [chapter 8] is awesome in that we are introduced to how the Word of God can change our lives. Wisdom is seeing from God’s perspective. It’s standing right beside Him looking where He’s looking and having Him explain it to us.

After writing yesterday’s Proverbs, I was reading Matthew 22 and ran across this passage:

29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” 33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching. Matthew 22:29-33

The Pharisees had tried to trap Jesus (v.15-22) and He turned the tables on them. Then the Sadducees (another religious group) tried. They posed a hypothetical situation that was supposed to stump Christ: A man married a woman, then he died. She was passed to his brother (in order to produce an heir for her first husband), who also died. She went through seven brothers and then she died. The question was, “Whose wife will she be in heaven?” The LORD Jesus set them straight!

  1. We interpret Scripture with Scripture, meaning that we cross-reference what we read with what has already been written. King Jesus referred them to the Father’s words to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:6).
  2. The LORD Jesus quoted the Father’s name in the verse, I AM (YHWH or YAHWEH, which means “ever-existing” and “ever-creating”). Look what He did in John 8:58, “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I AM!” The form of the phrase means “ever-existing,” but is different in that it is a personal pronoun and thus more intimate. GOD WAS WITH THEM!
  3. Everyone was astonished because they had been taught for generations that when a person dies, he’s dead until the Messiah comes and raises everyone (see John 11:24). Jesus was telling them that we live beyond the grave IMMEDIATELY. It was a new concept and flew in the face of the Sadducees, who believed that there was NO resurrection at all.

Studying this passage shapes my belief in Jesus Christ as God in the flesh (Immanuel), and the power of God to give me life with Him beyond the grave. You will notice that I went to other passages in the Bible to help me understand the Matthew 22 passage. THAT’S interpreting the Scriptures with Scripture. I used my memory, the reference verses given in my Bible, and an electronic Bible concordance. Googling works, too. Let’s not just read a passage; let’s study it by taking it apart and examining it in light of other Scripture. Let’s ask the Spirit what it means and allow Him to shape our thoughts. Follow every nudge; don’t stop just because it sounds good or fits what we want it to say. Our integrity is at stake here. Let’s be open to TRUTH no matter where it leads us. We TRUST our Savior.

Abba, I pray that as we study Your Word, we will enjoy Your Presence and Participation. Thrill our hearts, LORD, as we seek You in the Scriptures. Grow us today for tomorrow’s questions and challenges. Amen.

Proverbs 8 10-8-20

Wisdom: Jesus IN the Word. When we read, He speaks to us; we find Him in each page; He speaks to us in them!

This chapter is awesome in that we are introduced to how the Word of God can change our lives. Wisdom is seeing from God’s perspective. It’s standing right beside Him looking where He’s looking and having Him explain it to us.

1 Does not wisdom [the Spirit] call out? Does not understanding [His explanation] raise her voice?
4 “To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind [all who will listen].
6 Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.”

We are always being shaped by what we see, hear and experience. How we are shaped depends on our temperament, personality, goals, and if we have the Holy Spirit living in us.

12 I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence [right choices]; I possess knowledge and discretion [how to make those right choices].
13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance–whoa!–evil behavior and perverse speech.

Jesus has given us living words, which are accounts of His life and what is important to Him. Salvation is based upon dying to ourselves and having Him live in us and through us (Galatians 2:20). If that’s not your goal, then you became a Christian for the wrong reasons. In fact, the first sign (fruit) of the Spirit in our lives when we are saved–and each morning when we get up–is to experience His presence by reading His Word and learning about Him. His Spirit gives us an insatiable desire to know Christ through the Scriptures.

Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:24b
30 I was the Craftsman at His side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in His presence, rejoicing in His whole world and delighting in mankind.

If you don’t have this burning desire to read His Word and “study to show yourself approved (2 Timothy 2:15),” then there are worries in this life, deceitfulness of wealth, and desires for other things that have come into your life and are choking you. You are unfruitful (see Mark 4:19).

32 Now then, my children, listen to Me; blessed are those who keep my ways [by learning them].
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.

Know this: God prunes His vines. He will cut off in our lives the leaves and stems that are diseased or are sucking life-giving nutrients out of us.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
“He [the Father] binds up every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 5:2

Are you frustrated with church? Read.
Are you concerned about where you are spiritually? Read.
Are you perplexed concerning the choices of your children? Read.

“Those who know [God] read.”

It’s time, folks. We MUST get serious about living our lives for Him. Our country depends upon our faithfulness; our children are depending upon our faithfulness! It ALL starts with a repentant heart and a willingness to pick up His Word and discover Him in the pages. He will do the rest!

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

Abba, as I’ve already prayed this morning, I ask that You give my readers an insatiable desire to know Your Word. It has the power to transform their lives into mature and godly ambassadors for You. May our conversations at church move away from earthly matters and become conversations about what we’ve read lately in Your Word. WOW! What a paradigm shift!!! I look forward to the day, LORD. May it be soon. Amen.

Proverbs 7 10-7-20

How does one keep his heart from turning to temptation’s way? How do we keep from straying from the right path?

25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths.

The first thing we notice is that the writer is looking out from the window of his house–he was actually peeking through the blinds! He was where he was supposed to be as the day ended: At home, presumably with his family. The youth was out with other young men; also, he knew where the adulteress worked and when she worked. It was intentional.

Let’s be intentional about NOT sinning. We know that all sin destroys us, so let’s stay away from it. Andy Stanley says to set up guard rails away from the edge of our temptation, far enough away to keep us from even getting close. The placement of the guard rails may be different for each person, but the cliff is the same for everyone!

The second thing we notice is that temptation (in this case, in the form of an adulteress) comes dressed for the hunt. It (she) will grab us and get our full attention just like she did with this young man: She planted a big fat kiss on him. Then, she offered him a night full of fun and revelry. He may have fended her off if she hadn’t kissed him. We will never know. The best thing to do is to NOT let temptation kiss us. Tell your children, especially your youth, to never do something just to try it. “Just once” may end up an addiction–or even death. Ask the young basketball player who tried cocaine “just once.” He had a heart attack and died! Again, guard rails.

While we’re talking about guard rails, how do we know how to set them and how to live by them? We go to Proverbs 3:5-6,

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.

There are other Scriptures that teach us:

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
    for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
    lead me on level ground.
Psalm 143:8-10

The third thing we notice is that once he decided to follow her, there was no turning back. DESIRE took over and that was that. It’s like having a tooth worked on while using nitrous oxide (laughing gas). You know it hurts; you just don’t care. There’s a disconnect from you and your body. With sin, we can watch ourselves do it as if we are a disinterested party watching it happen. The problem is that WE are stuck with the consequences. Sin is fun for a season, but “in the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.” Proverbs 23:32.

Let’s commit ourselves right now to the LORD and to His protection from the evil one. May we do everything we know to do: Read His Word, pray continuously, honor guard rails, hang with the right people, and be where we are supposed to be at the time we’re supposed to be there. We then trust Him to give us the power, discernment, understanding and perseverance to weather the storm.

Abba, I KNOW I’m not strong enough to stand close to the edge. Keep me far away from sin; I have enough trouble managing my mouth and my thoughts. May my heart be set on You and Your holiness, O LORD. I want to be just like You–much more than I want to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of this life, especially with the toll they take on a person. Your presence is exceedingly greater than anything this world has to offer! I love You. Amen.

Proverbs 6 10-6-20

There is a way, a prayer, that will make us successful concerning chapter 6.

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

It’s the Model Prayer that the LORD Jesus taught His disciples (and us). It’s found in Matthew 6:9-13. I used the King James Version because that’s how I memorized it as a kid.

Our Father…

Is He your Father? Have you given your life to Him and accepted His Son as Your substitutionary sacrifice for you on the cross? Have you given Him access to your life in general and then every area specifically? Assuming you have, let’s continue.

Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.

The One who sits enthroned between the cherubim is holy. We hallow His name; in other words, we make His name special. We speak about Him with the reverence He deserves as LORD of the Universe and our King. We are speaking specifically to the Father, but the LORD Jesus is sitting right there beside Him!

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The Father’s will is done immediately and fully in heaven. We look forward to the day when He unites this world with His own. In the meantime, we work to make the two compatible by bringing lost people to Him for redemption; we work to save animals and habitats; we work to improve the daily lives of people all over the world.

Give us this day our daily bread…

This phrase is a reference to manna that was given to the Israelites as they traveled through the desert. They would go out and gather the flakes of manna off the ground each morning and make bread out of it. God supplied it for them. He supplies our daily bread today through the jobs that we have, the nice homes and appliances that we have, and the stores from which we purchase our food. God supplies us with all we need for today in the way of faith, love, joy, peace, righteousness, holiness and truth–if we ask for it and the are obedient.

and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

I chose “debts/debtors” instead of “trespasses/those who trespass against us” because “debt” can mean more than just “trespass.” We understand that a trespass means that someone has overstepped his bounds with us. A debt is something that we think someone owes us, which includes trespasses. Having someone owe us is a form of entitlement. Jesus said to give freely, not expecting repayment (Matthew 10:8, Luke 6:35). I believe that this command covers debts of hurt, theft, and any kind of selfish act that robs us in some way. People don’t get off scot-free; we give them to God and He takes care of the matter. The problem with revenge is that we are small-minded. What satisfies us may be insignificant to what God has in mind for them–and His way is usually redemptive in nature!

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

The first part of this phrase is a reminder that God does NOT lead anyone into temptation. “Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of heavenly lights” (James 1:13-17). The second part is a reminder that deliverance is what God does for us. Jesus prayed in His priestly prayer, “My prayer is not that You take them out of the world, but that You protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15). Jesus also said this to His disciples a little later on that same evening, “‘Why are you sleeping?’ He asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.'” (Luke 22:46). “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38). PRAYER (connection) is how we are delivered from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Let us never forget that God is GOD. He is King of the universe and Ruler of this world. Nothing gets past Him. The Day of Wrath is coming, but He is “slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished…” (Numbers 14:18). His timetable is set on an eternal clock, so He sees this life and beyond for each of us. Knowing that He has everything in control and has asked us to join Him in His work, we pray for and strive with people to come to a saving knowledge of Him and to become like Him. As long as people have breath and a beating heart, there is hope–even for the most wicked people.

Amen.

“So be it.” That’s the literal interpretation. We would say, “May it be so according to Your will, O LORD.”

Abba, we give You our lives today. We hallow Your name and ask for our daily bread. We pledge to forgive those who “owe” us anything, and pray that they would come to You for forgiveness, cleansing, and healing. Change us all, O LORD, to be like You. We look forward to being like You and with You when Your kingdom comes. Until then, we strive with each other–and with ourselves–to bring Your kingdom to earth through us. Even so, come, LORD Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 5 10-5-20

Daily faithfulness: That’s what God asks of us. Even when we don’t understand, or feel like it, remain faithful to the task.

8 Now then, my children, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say.

The old farmer sat on the porch with his grandson. The grandson asked him, “Grandpa, why do you read your Bible everyday? What’s the point of reading about people who lived so long ago?”
Grandpa replied, “Because these people walked with the LORD Jesus and were moved by His Spirit to write down what He said and did so that we can know Him, too.”
“But, how can knowing stories about Jesus then help us know Him now?” the grandson asked.
Grandpa answered, “The same Spirit that urged them to write those words moves in our hearts today.” He walked over to the edge of the porch and picked up a coal bucket. “If you really want to know what happens to us when we read His Word everyday and set our minds and hearts on following the LORD each day, then take this bucket down to the well, fill it up and bring it back up here to me.”
“Okay,” the grandson answered dubiously. He took the bucket and went to the well. He filled it and started back up the path to the porch, but the bucket had holes in the sides and the water leaked out. By the time he got to the porch, the bucket was empty.
“Grandpa, there are holes in this bucket! I’ll never get it up here to the porch full.”
“Nonsense. Try it again.” So the grandson marched down to the well and tried it again with the same result.
“This isn’t going to work, Grandpa.”
“Just one more time. Do it for me,” Grandpa said.
With a sigh, the grandson went down and filled the bucket. When he got back to the porch, he set the empty bucket down in front of his Grandpa and said, “See? I knew it was useless. The bucket is empty.”
Grandpa said, “Grandson, I didn’t tell you my goal. My goal wasn’t to have a full bucket of water delivered to my porch. My goal was to have the bucket rinsed of the coal residue that was in the bucket.”
The grandson’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.
“Also,” Grandpa continued, “if you’ll notice, there are flowers along the path, which you watered as you labored up the hill. Thank you.”
The grandson sat down beside his Grandfather and said, “So, what you’re telling me is that even though I don’t see progress, it’s still happening in my life when I read His Word everyday? And that I am still useful to Him even when I don’t realize it?”
“Yes. The point of Bible study and prayer is not so much to educate as it is to fellowship with our heavenly Father. That’s really what He wants. So, you just keep reading and following His instructions and when it’s all said and done, you will have been a good and faithful servant.”
“Thank you, Grandpa,” said the grandson. “I will.”
Grandpa smiled.*

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” Matthew 25:21

I don’t know about you, but I live to hear those words.

Abba, may I remain faithful in the little things because I know that You are developing my character, and that out of my character will come the will and determination to do the right thing when times get tough. Keep me depending on You, LORD. I trust You implicitly. Amen.

*This story is not original. I just told it in my own words.

Proverbs 4 10-4-20

Pray like you’ve never prayed before. Our nation is on a precipice. We have the blood of millions on our hands. As God did with Israel because of the blood of their children they had sacrificed to idols, God will judge our nation because of children sacrificed to the god of convenience.

14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
    or walk in the way of evildoers.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
    turn from it and go on your way.
16 For they cannot rest until they do evil;
    they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.

31 They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire—something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind. Jeremiah 7:31

God will be calling us to pray. He will remind us often. When we think about praying for someone in particular, our leaders, and/or our nation, we must remember that His voice sounds like our voice in our heads. The fact that we thought of it is Him reminding us.

Also, God will not ask us to pray unless He is working. He is inviting us to join Him in His work. But, there’s a catch: We must be righteous in order to pray with power,

1Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:13-16

Our nation is sick, sick with the blood of children, with hatred and bigotry, with immorality and licentiousness, and with complacency. Let us pray for ourselves; let us confess our sins to one another. Let’s intercede for our leaders, especially those who are not in God’s will. Let’s pray for our nation that we would turn back to God before it requires something drastic–again–to get our attention.

James gave us the procedure for repentance in chapter 4:

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-10

We are not in a good place with our nation, nor are we in a happy time in our country. Pray that the pandemic would ease. Pray for our president that he recover. Pray that every leader would feel the conviction of God and repent. Pray that every member of Brookwood would feel that same conviction and repent! I pray that every reader of this post would feel His conviction and repent, as well.

It’s not too late for America, but it may be close. 40-60 million lives requires a lot of repenting! God takes those lives seriously. We had better, too!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would have their spiritual eyes opened to the truth of Your justice, but also Your love and mercy. May You move mightily and help us to rid America of our Topheth, LORD. May You move in Your mighty power, in a way that we will stand in awe of Your mighty deeds. Call us to national repentance, Abba, just as soon as we take care of our personal repentance. Amen.

Proverbs 3 10-3-20

“Trust the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; submit to Him in all your ways…and He will direct your paths.” v.5-6

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil [our own desires, intentions, diversions, thoughts, and even feelings].

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” The Main Thing is the Gospel [Good News] of Jesus Christ:

  • He is the Anointed One, the Jewish Messiah
  • He came from heaven to earth, lived, died, rose again, ascended
  • He is coming back for His Church, His Bride
  • He wants everyone to trust in Him for salvation

Our motto should be:

Whatever it takes to advance the Gospel

In America, Christians get all up in the air about sickness, job loss, divorce (although, not as much), and with things that threaten our health or security. Why?

  • Is Christ not in control?
  • Are we all not destined to die?
  • Have we not taken a vow of poverty, in that we gave everything to Christ for Him to do with as He pleases?

Instead of asking, “Why,” and then praying for God to “fix it,” let’s pray, “Okay, LORD, what do I need to do so that You receive the most glory? How can I advance the Gospel through this crisis? Since You’ve chosen not to protect me from it, then use me in it and carry me through it.”

Who knows? God may have spent your entire life getting you to “such a time as this.” Proverbs 24:10 says, “If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!” In other words, to be strong in the LORD only when times are good shows that we really have not learned to trust Him, yet. Instead of seeing trying times as God forsaking us–or failing!–let’s look at them as growing seasons where our faith is tested, much like exercising our muscles when we work out.

The key to everything is PRAYER. All things in this life are to connect us with the Father. Our very salvation is designed for us to have a close and intimate relationship with Him through Jesus Christ via the Holy Spirit.

Don’t get me wrong! I don’t look forward to hard times, but I do want to wring them for all they’re worth concerning my relationship with Christ and for His glory. I pray that this pandemic would bring many back to Him and would call our country to repentance. Selective obedience is disobedience. We need to give Him ALL.

Abba, may You work a mighty work in our country. I know You are using this Pandemic to call us back to You. May we heed Your discipline, O LORD. Whatever else You use, we accept as from Your hand. Increase our faith, Abba, and call many to Your side. Heal our land, O LORD. Do whatever it takes. Amen.

Proverbs 2 10-2-20

Want to take your Christianity seriously? Then do this: Tell Him. I promise He knows. He’s waiting…

2 My child, if you accept…store up…turn your ear…apply your heart…call out…cry aloud…look for…search…
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

The Spirit is the One prompting you at this very moment. The fact that you opened up this post and are reading it shows your interest. What will we gain?

  1. What it means to fear the LORD, not in a negative way, but in respect and awe. He is serious about our commitment.
  2. God Himself. He wants us to know Him personally and intimately (Proverbs 1:23).
  3. We will gain knowledge and understanding (v6).
  4. We will have success in our walk because He is our shield against the enemy (v7).
  5. God will guard our course and protect us against the enemy as we walk with Him.

His call for us to join Him is there in His Word. Remember that He is Ever-Present, so when we read Isaiah 55, He is talking to us at this very moment!

Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.

Jesus offers us all these things at no cost to us–just to Him.

Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.

I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
    a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
    and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has endowed you with splendor.”

God has big plans for us if we only will give ourselves completely to Him.

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.

Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

God is interested in our past only in that He wants to redeem it. If we give Him our past, then He works it into the fabric of His will for us and Him.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

How God accomplishes this purpose is not a matter we need to understand, but to trust. He is GOD; let’s let Him be God on His own (He doesn’t need our help).


12 You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.”

God receives glory when we trust Him and follow Him, when we look for Him in the Scriptures and search for Him as we would for hidden treasure.

Today, read His Word and strive for Him. Make the extra effort to know Him. Ask Him to reveal Himself. He will! It all begins with this prayer:

LORD, I give all I know of myself to all I know of You. Take me and fill me; I’m Yours. Amen.

NOTE: For those who feel that the Scriptures are not the only way to know God, know that what you say is true. Prayer is the only certain way to know Him. But, we should facilitate the avenues He has provided for us, and His written Word is a great place for us to start. When we have exhausted this resource, then we can move on to other things. Also, commentaries count as long as we read the Scriptures for ourselves.

Proverbs1 10-1-20

I am a firm believer in the power of the Holy Spirit in each person’s life. I write Proverbs because I feel called to do so. You read them because YOU feel called to do so. Otherwise, it’s out of duty or misplaced loyalty, neither of which are eternal.

5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance–

This chapter is the epitome of our daily walk in this world. We either listen to the Spirit or ignore the Spirit–sometimes both throughout the day! It boils down to desire: Do we WANT the Spirit to conform us to the image of Christ? The LORD Jesus was all about what God was doing in the world concerning the souls of men. He was NOT concerned with the things of this world that pull on us so hard, things like pleasure, comfort, security, power, influence, thrill, and self-satisfaction. In fact, to follow Christ, we must give up these things.

22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
    How long will mockers delight in mockery
    and fools hate knowledge?

Simple people live their lives without any moral direction and are inclined to evil. It’s natural. If we don’t take on Christ’s moral direction every day, we will incline to evil. It’s that simple.
Fools hate being told that what they want to do is not pleasing to God. They don’t care. Beware of this feeling! It leads to mockery.
Mockers take delight in sin. They get a charge out of it. If we are wise, we will recognize this tendency in ourselves and repent!

23 Repent at my rebuke!
    Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
    I will make known to you my teachings [and my heart].

God calls to us each morning and all day to come to Him for cleansing and intimate fellowship. It’s what salvation is all about! We come through Jesus as the Spirit empowers us (He is our connection).

24 But since you refuse to listen when I call
and no one pays attention when I
stretch out my hand,
25 since you disregard all my advice
and do not accept my rebuke,

We have a CHOICE. FREE WILL is all over this passage. God doesn’t want robots. He wants children who love Him and want to fellowship with Him. Recognize the signs of His interaction with You. Listen, pay attention, heed, and accept!

30 Since they would not accept my advice
    and spurned my rebuke,
31 they will eat the fruit of their ways
    and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.

Be not deceivedGod is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7 Here again, free will.

32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
    and the complacency of fools will destroy them;

Verses 30-32 are some of the saddest verses in the Scriptures because it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s our choice to heed His voice and follow Him. Daily. Continuously.

33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety
    and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

Best verse! Of course, we’re not talking so much about physical safety, but safety of the soul. Those who are in Christ Jesus, walking with Him and enjoying intimate fellowship with Him are not concerned with physical safety or harm. We trust that everything that happens to us is for the good of the kingdom and for us. How can physical danger and harm be good for us? We all ultimately die, and when we do, we get to go be with Him. Why not die for the sake of the Gospel? The intimate fellowship that comes during hardship and pain is the BIG MYSTERY of Christianity. Need more information? Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 and 12:1-10.

Let’s live for Christ today. He did so much for us. We should be grateful.

Abba, I know I am! Thank You for so great a salvation. Thank You for wanting to have a personal, intimate relationship with me. I am honored and humbled. I want to be like You, LORD, for I know that the more I am like You, the sweeter the fellowship we have! It is the desire of my heart; please grant it according to Psalm 37:4. Thank You! Amen.

 

Proverbs 30 9-30-20

The desire for godly wisdom is the first sign of Christian growth. A lack of desire reveals a conflict of interest.

“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
    do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God.

Do you see the balance in these verses? There are those who would lie to us and tell us that riches will solve everything or that to not have anything means no responsibility. We may even be lying to ourselves! God knows how much of anything that we need, so we learn to trust Him.

Do we have a desire to know God? to obey the Spirit? to fellowship with the LORD Jesus?  You probably set an alarm to get up, made coffee, and may have even set down to breakfast. Then, you had the desire to read this post, which means that you have desire. This desire is from the Holy Spirit within you.

Which would you rather have:

  1. Someone telling you what you should be doing, or
  2. Someone who gives you the desire to do what God wants you to do for and with Him?

Notice that the first option is Old Testament and the second option is New Testament. The difference is in RELATIONSHIP. God wants to have an ongoing and intimate relationship with us through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Our struggle comes in recognizing that desire as Him in us. We must learn to discern His voice from our own voice. Proverbs 24:3-4 gives a beautiful description of how:

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

Wisdom is how the house is built;
Understanding is how it is established (how it works);
Knowledge is how the rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

All of these traits can be found in the Word of God. We just have to dig for them.

Consider yourselves disciples of Christ. Study to show yourselves approved by Him. Learn to rightly divide/decipher/parse the word of truth. Be good workers who need not be ashamed (based on 2 Timothy 2:15). Is this desire in you? OBEY IT! OBEY HIM!!!

I mentioned a conflict of interest. If our interest is divided between what Christ wants for us and what we want to do, then we will always be at a standstill with Him. We can’t build our house; we can’t establish our walk with Him; we can’t fill our lives with the rare and beautiful treasures that He has for us. Let’s decide today to give our whole lives to the LORD Jesus. It will feel a whole lot like salvation, but know that it’s really just moving up to level 2 in our relationship with Him.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would take seriously this call to commit all to You. You have SO MUCH in store for us if we will only believe You. May we be like the man in Mark 9:24 when he says, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” May we place our lives in Your capable hands. Make us, melt us, mold us, and fill us, LORD. We are Yours. Amen.