Proverbs 23 7-23-21

There will be no watching of a video of our lives in heaven, going over it with a fine-toothed comb. We are already pleasing to God!

12 Apply your heart to instruction [study, study, study the Bible] and your ears to words of knowledge [make application of the Bible using the Bible].

Romans 14:10 is usually paired with 2 Corinthians 5:10, which says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” It sounds an awful lot like we will watch a replay of our lives. Not so! The judgment here has to do with Lordship here in this life. Verse 11 of Romans 14 says, It is written, ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.'” (Isaiah 45:23). Paul uses this same verse in Philippians 2:9-11, but adds a couple of references to Jesus,

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Paul emphasizes that it is our allegiance to Jesus Christ about which this passage is referring. In fact, it is in Jesus that this verse is fulfilled, and it brings glory to the Father.

Verse 12 says, “So then, each of us will give an account of our selves to God” concerning Jesus’ Lordship in our lives while on earth. I believe that there will be a time when we all stand before the great throne, God the Father in the center and Jesus at His right hand, and each of our names will be called. When my name is called, I will step out and Jesus will receive me as His own while God gets all the glory (He’s smiling, too). I’ll get the team t-shirt (a white robe) and give high-five’s for an extended period as all the saints that have gone before me wait for me to slap their hands. Actually, I’m sure that the entire ceremony will be so glorious and awesome that I can’t even imagine! But, it is exactly that, a ceremony. We have already passed from death to life (John 5:24) and are clothed in the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21, Isaiah 61:10). We will have received our immortal bodies and will have passed from flesh to spirit–NO SIN NATURE! (1 Corinthians 15:42-49), “And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man [Adam], so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man [Jesus].”

Paul summed it up for us in the next few verses of 1 Corinthians 15,

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

To summarize, the verse is not talking about a detailed account of our lives that we review in heaven, but our daily decision to “bow the knee.” It’s our allegiance to Christ that makes us stand confidently before His throne not only in the future, but right now! Hebrews 4:16 and Ephesians 3:12 tell us so.

Abba, may we all bow our knees and our wills to You every day. “Not my will, but Thy will be done.” Those are Jesus’ words; may they be mine, as well. Amen.

Proverbs 22 7-22-21

If we obey Christ to get rewarded in this life, then we have missed the point of the Kingdom of heaven. It’s not of this world, remember?

9 The generous will themselves be blessed [with all spiritual blessings], for they share their food [and anything else] with the poor [those in need].

As we continue our journey through chapter 14 of Romans, Paul explains that our entire lives are to be spent in service to the Lord. HE determines when our time here on this earth is done–as well as all the in-betweens.

For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

We answer to Christ for our decisions. Whether we live or die, we belong to Christ. Everyone dies eventually, so it all comes down to obedience; let’s not worry about what kills us, rather that we are doing the Lord’s work when our time comes. If you are counting on “The Rapture,” you might take a look at the past several generations. What you will find is that many thought that their generation was going to be the ONE, even back to the 1840’s. When I was young, Henry Kissinger was supposed to be the antichrist! A quick look at history going all the way back to Pentecost will show you that it has been a LOT worse than it is now. We are to interpret Scripture with Scripture, not a newspaper. Are there markers that Jesus may return soon? Absolutely. But, rather than taking all the Christians out, He may be gearing up for a world-wide revival! We simply don’t know, so let’s hope for His Return, but prepare for the fact that it may not be in our generation. In other words, let’s get busy doing the Lord’s work, shall we?

Paul writes in Colossians 3:23-24,

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

In Ephesians 6:7-8, he said,

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

And, in all things, do it with the Spirit, in the Spirit. He wants our fellowship; it’s not as if He needs us to do anything or Him.

Abba, we know You are returning someday. I pray it will be soon. In the meantime, I want to be working, doing Your will. In fact, I want to be “caught in the act” by Your return. May it be a surprise and an interruption to ministry–or, a completion of it. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 21 7-21-21

Do we really believe that the Lord leads us one step at a time? Do we check with Him often to make sure we are following?

2 A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart [looks at our motives].

Accepting the one whose faith is weak is being just like Jesus. What did He say to Peter as Peter cried out to the Lord to save him? “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:22-32. What exactly did Paul consider weak of faith? Let’s look:

For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Romans 14:2

The weakness of faith, to me, is about having trouble letting go of what we know for what Jesus tells us in His Word. Jesus has fulfilled the law (Matthew 5:17-18) so that we no longer have a contractual side to uphold (they were expected to obey certain laws, rituals, and ceremonies). In this case, it was diet wrapped up in conviction. Instead, He has come to live in us, thus rendering all outer duty irrelevant. From now on, we worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24) We need to learn to recognize His voice and promptings. The more we try, the better we get at it. It’s a daily thing. Really, it’s an all-day thing.

Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them

The key to this verse is, “for God has accepted them.” If God accepts them and is working in their lives, who are we to pass judgement on them? We are not their masters, nor they ours. We each are on a path with Him, and at different points on that path. Still, we are all headed to the same place (His throne), so we need to work together.

Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

“The Lord is able to make them stand.” He has moved beyond the Old Covenant contract idea to a new covenant, one of complete love and acceptance. If only we could get our minds around the truth that now that Christ is in us, “we are more than conquerors!” (Romans 8:37). Verse 8 says, “We belong to the Lord.” Therefore, if some of us believe that taking the COVID shot is a good idea, then take the shot, but, if some of us do not want to take the shot for whatever reason, then they had better not take the shot because they would be acting not out of faith, but out of pressure and doubt. Verse 23 tells us, “But whoever has doubts [not confirmed by Christ on the matter] is condemned [it weakens them spiritually] if they eat, because their eating [taking the shot] is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin [destructive to us and faces us away from Him]. We MUST allow each person to determine the best course for himself. You say, “But what if he infects everyone and some die because of his ‘neglect?'” Then, the Lord will give grace to those who get sick; as for those who die in the Lord, “whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (v.8).” We all die anyway, so we should go out with a good and clean conscience. Nothing in this world will be “right” until Jesus returns, so let’s encourage one another to act according to the Spirit within us until He comes, or until we go to be with Him, which is far better than staying here!

We must allow people to be led personally by the Lord. We can exhort scripturally, but when it all boils down, we must hear from Him and do what He says. Otherwise, there’s no faith (actually, our faith would be in other people and things rather than in Christ).

Abba, may Your voice be clear and strong as we navigate our way through this world. I know things won’t be completely right until we get to Your kingdom, so any path is a good one as long as I am with You. I love, love, love Asaph’s prayer in Psalm 73:23-24, “I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand, you guide me with Your sweet counsel, and at the end of my life, You will take me into glory.” Lord, it doesn’t get any better or plainer than that! Amen.

Proverbs 20 7-20-21

Judging another of the Master’s servants will get us in trouble. We are all individually responsible to our Master, the Lord Jesus.

6 Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find [who doesn’t criticize his fellow servant]?

We all have our own opinion, and according to our temperaments, we:

  1. Expect others to share our own (Red/Choleric),
  2. We want to share our opinion with everyone (Yellow/Sanguine),
  3. We keep our opinion to ourselves and tell no one (Green/Phlegmatic),
  4. or we try to persuade others to see things our way (Blue/Melancholy).

What we need is to be White/Godly, which is all the colors, but above any particular color. We can only be White by the assistance and partnership of the Holy Spirit.

I have been studying Romans, and lately chapter 14. I invite you to join me. It would be good for you read through Romans and then come back to 14 with me, but it’s not necessary.

I believe that this chapter can be applied to the COVID shot and masks.

We begin with verse 1.

14 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.

Weak faith refers to those whose concept of service has to do with keeping the law (doing stuff to be pleasing to God). What is pleasing to God becomes a point of contention. These “disputable matters” are anything that is not specifically spelled out by the Lord. Most of them are according to where a person is in his walk with Christ. Our past experiences also play a part.

For instance, I know a person who pays his bills manually every month because he got himself into debt with credit cards, and by paying them manually, he holds himself accountable. I, on the other hand, have no problem with credit card debt and have everything either on credit card or drafted. My problem was debit cards and ATM’s! When they first came out,* I thought, “Wow! Free Money!” It took about three months to cure me (thanks, Robin). Most people have a debit card; we don’t.

Where are we weak in the faith? We should help each other rather than judge each other. Jesus put it like this,

7 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Matthew 7:1-5

Concerning the law, we are to help people shift their thinking from pleasing God to being pleasing to God (we already are). Doing so requires encouragement, not criticism. May we be encouraging to everyone around us today.

Abba, as we study Your Word in depth, I first thank You for giving the apostle Paul such great insight. I also thank You for having it written down, preserved, and translated for us so that we can study it today. May we never take it for granted. Open our minds and hearts to Your Mind and Heart. Use Your scalpel on us today (Hebrews 4:12). Amen.

*The year was 1984, and Robin and I were fresh out of college.

Proverbs 19 7-19-21

Does God send people to hell? Or, do they simply not prepare for heaven? There is a difference.

3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.

It never ceases to amaze me that people accuse God of being brutal and unfair because He “sends people to hell” when they are not interested in doing anything God’s way or even having anything to do with Him. Could it be that God simply allows them to “have it their way?” There are two scripture passages that I would like to string together:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God John 1:12

I did a little research on the word, “right.” It is a feminine noun, which means that it is passive (it needs outside power). The Greek word is eksousia and means “privilege, granted authority, conferred power; delegated empowerment, authorization.” Notice that each of these terms receives power from outside itself. Jesus gives us the privilege to become children of God. When we are born again, we are born with this inalienable “right.” It is the Holy Spirit who makes it happen. This right includes all the power and authority, protection and provision afforded by our heavenly Father.

It is never God’s intention to lose anyone to hell, but He does offer free will, and that free will requires complete free will. The choice to have nothing to do with God must be one of the choices. The righteous anger of Jesus Christ with the religious leaders had much to do with God’s love for them. The hinge verse for me is Matthew 23:13, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” In the midst of their arguing with Him, He offers them the opportunity to believe, “Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father” John 10:37-38. If the kingdom of heaven (of God) is in our midst, or within us (Luke 17:21), then it follows that we receive entry into the kingdom while here on this earth. To leave this earth without the kingdom of heaven within us leaves us nowhere to go but to a place that was originally created for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41). It doesn’t sound like God created hell for people at all!

Yes, there is a time of sentencing, so to speak (Matthew 22:11-13 and 25:41, 46), but it is really just the honoring of the choice made in life, the choice to have nothing to do with God. I include three quotes from C.S. Lewis,

“A man can’t be taken to hell, or sent to hell: you can only get there on your own steam.”
The Quotable Lewis, page 292

“I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside.
The Quotable Lewis, page 292

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.”
The Quotable Lewis, page 293

We must never forget that “God so loved that world that He gave His one and only Son.” Those who treat that great sacrifice with contempt will not want to stand in His glorious presence in heaven. They will look for any place else to be. Mercifully, God grants them their request: Hell. Does God send people to hell? Yes, at their insistence.

Abba, I know Your heart, that You desire no one to go to hell. I also know that you created us to choose. I choose You. Please work through me to “rescue those being led away to death” (Proverbs 24:11) by “snatching them from the fire” (Jude 23). You are the LORD Most High. All creatures will bow before You and confess “Jesus is LORD” (Isaiah 45:23 and Philippians 2:10-11). I pray that many will choose to bow BEFORE they see You face to face. Amen.

Proverbs 18 7-18-21

Being Holy Spirit-powered requires effort. Are you willing to do what it takes to be like Jesus?

9 One who is slack in his work [will not make the effort] is brother to one who destroys [his own life].

16 A gift [in this case, the gift of our lives] opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great [the LORD].

We know that Jesus gives us first the desire and then the power to do His will (Philippians 2:13). Why, then, do we depend so much on our own strength? If we run out of energy, patience, and/or want-to, then we’re spending the wrong energy. We need to switch to HSP (Holy-Spirit Power). His power is unlimited. If we do it early on, then the switch is not so noticeable by others. In the following passage, notice what Paul says he is praying for them. We should pray for the same thing!

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14

  1. The knowledge of His will- We find that knowledge in His Word, in other Christians, and in prayer.
  2. Bearing fruit- The Holy Spirit transforms us from the inside out to look like Jesus in character.
  3. Growing- We never coast spiritually. It’s like rowing a canoe upstream. Let’s keep rowing!
  4. Being strengthened with all power- Here’s the key to a victorious Christian life, which is allowing the Holy Spirit to empower us before we try things in our own strength. His perspective is different, His knowledge includes the future and what is best for everyone, our obedience is vital to our growth, and our partnership with Him is what our salvation is all about.
  5. Giving joyful thanks- Look at all He has done for us:
    1. We are qualified to share in His people’s inheritance,
    2. We get to live in the kingdom of light,
    3. He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness,
    4. We brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves,
    5. He redeemed us through the forgiveness of sins thanks to Jesus! WOW!!!

This morning, rather than relying on our own power, let’s lean on His strength and allow Him to fill us and empower us to be Christ to those around us–even at church!

Abba, thank You for all You have done for us. Just going over it again makes my heart thrill. It’s one of my favorite passages (I just wish I could memorize it…). Fill us, transform us, grow us, and strengthen us, Lord, and we will give joyful thanks to You. Amen.

Proverbs 17 7-18-21

Learning to respond as Jesus would requires walking in step with the Spirit. We must first defeat our own wills–our flesh!

24 A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

Lesson one was over where our power comes from.
Lesson two was over how to access and wield that power.
Lesson three is over why we need the Spirit in order to handle that power.

Lesson 3

Has it ever occurred to you that our first response to anything may be our fleshly response? It’s enough to question any opinion we have! Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (also Mark 10:27 and Luke 18:27). In verses 23-25, Jesus was talking about the rich having trouble getting into heaven. The problem with rich people is that they don’t see their need for Christ. Their material blessings appear to be all they need for this life. What they forget is that it is impossible to live a godly life without God in us. Again, Jesus said, “they have received their reward in full.” Matthew 6:2, 5, 16. They can expect no reward in heaven because they didn’t store any up.

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

Let’s look at a rich man who died and what he was told about his wealth:

23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. Luke 16:19-21 NOTE: Many people consider this story a parable, but I think it was a current event. The fact that Lazarus was mentioned by name is different than other parables. If it is a real account, then we have a window into what happened to people when they died in the Old Testament.

Whether a parable or a real account, we get the picture that we are to abandon the trappings and lures of this world and cling to all things godly, namely Christ. Before we speak, let’s consider if it is god-honoring; before we watch something, let us consider if Christ will want to watch it with us; when our minds wander into dangerous territory, let us “take each thought captive and make it obedient to Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Remember, our reaction will be fleshly; our response needs to be godly.

Abba, make us like You. As we study the life of Christ, may Your Spirit recreate Him in us. We want to be just like Jesus! Amen.

Proverbs 16 7-16-21

The desire to change is what marks a person as a true Christian. A person who does not want to change has no vision of Christ.

9 In a person’s heart he plans his course, but the LORD establishes their steps [but, to where?].

15:24 The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep them from going down to the grave [either up or down].

Let’s review from Proverbs 14:

Lesson 1- A Christian’s power comes from the person of Christ, His in-dwelling. The Holy Spirit is the one who lives in us and empowers us. Therefore, our greatest weapon is prayer: constant, intentional, conversational interaction with the King of the universe. We can’t surprise Him, nor can we disappoint Him since He knows all about us: past, present, and future.

Lesson 2

The resurrection power in us is what gives us the desire to change, to be transformed into the image of Christ, and to have His character. A person who encounters Christ and truly sees Him for who He is will desire to be just like Him. Jesus is completely loving, joyful, and peaceful, and these characteristics flow from Him to us. He is also perfectly patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and has complete self-control. This fruit He gives to us when we walk with Him. We have the resurrection power of Christ.

19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, Ephesians 1:19-20

We can study the Bible; we can go to church; we can even say prayers, but if we don’t walk with Jesus in a continuous encounter, then we are missing out on the main reason for being saved. Walking with Him is what continues to create the desire to be just like Him. It makes me ask:

  • Would Jesus want to watch that movie? I really need to ask Him and pay attention to the tension that may be happening in my spirit.
  • Would Jesus play that game? If it’s for money, then probably not, because someone loses materially. If it involves sex in any way, certainly not, because lust comes too easily to people, and improper attention is destructive attention.
  • Would Jesus have that attitude? Feelings can’t be trusted. In fact, we look for a feeling of satisfaction from making godly choices rather than what makes us feel good.

We need to be asking ourselves these types of questions about everything and then listening for the Holy Spirit as He guides us into all truth. Yeah, it will feel awkward and embarrassing, but those feelings will pass as we become more like Jesus and we get comfortable with the Holy Spirit’s voice and leadership. Those who are also spiritual will be drawn to us; those who are not spiritual will be offended. It’s okay. In fact, these reactions are exactly the result for which we are hoping. Let’s look:

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

Let’s be the aroma of Christ to all those around us today.

Abba, one of the things You taught us on the cross was to forgive those who may never actually give an apology. In the words of a friend, “I learned to accept the apology that I will never get.” Teach us to release those who owe us the debt of apology. We don’t have to forget, but neither do we have to allow it to influence us anymore. If You can do it, then we can do it, because we have You and Your resurrection power in us. To that, we say, “Amen!”

Proverbs 15 7-15-21

Most of us have been tested for Covid19 at some time. How have you done on the TRUE Covid19 test?

14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.

The TRUE Covid19 test has to do with what you did with your time during the quarantine. It is like the parable of the servants and their bags of gold to which they were entrusted. The first two invested theirs and doubled their money; good job! The third one buried his and gave it back as it was. The master was not pleased. Which one are you?

During Covid19, when everything was shut down and restricted, did you:

  1. …maintain your daily walk with the Lord?
  2. …increase your time daily with Him in prayer and study?
  3. …read books, articles, blogs and/or other materials to stretch and grow you spiritually?
  4. …listen/watch sermons and other videos or broadcasts to learn about the Bible and science, history, archeology, eschatology, etc?
  5. …reach out by phone, email, or text to other Christians? Unbelievers?
  6. …encourage and help those in your own household?
  7. …feel stronger in your walk because of the Covid19 experience?

We can’t get the time back, but we can still put these questions to work for us. It will just be a little harder since our lives have somewhat returned to normal. Who knows? We may get another chance this next cold season!

Abba, You use everything in our lives to point to You when we listen and perceive with spiritual eyes. May Your Spirit continue to open our minds and hearts to Your heart’s desire, which is to have sweet, intimate fellowship with us. It’s why You came to live in our hearts! We love You; help us to act in that love. Amen.

Proverbs 14 7-14-21

What is the first lesson that a new Christian needs to learn? It’s about where his power to change comes from.

12 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death [destruction].

Lesson One

A Christian’s power comes from the person of Christ, His in-dwelling. The Holy Spirit is the one who lives in us and empowers us. Therefore, our greatest weapon is prayer: constant, intentional, conversational interaction with the King of the universe. We can’t surprise Him, nor can we disappoint Him since He knows all about us: past, present, and future.

This power is going to manifest itself in our ability to overcome sin in our lives. It first comes as desire; then we figure out how to beat sin. Don’t worry about failing; the Lord changed our relationship with sin so that now, instead of separating us from Him, He uses our failings as tools for our training in righteousness. Pretty cool, huh?

Here are some verses to chew on:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know…his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, Ephesians 1:18-20

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

I particularly like this last verse because it describes the perfection (completeness, wholeness) of Christ, yet He gives that perfection to us through His Spirit. “In this world we are like Jesus” (1 John 4:17). Through His power working in us, we can love like He did, and we can practice self-discipline just like He did, which was perfectly. The Great American Hero (an old tv series) was given the ability to fly, but he had to learn as he went; consequently, he wasn’t very good at it, but we must remember one thing: He Could Fly! We can, too, because we have His Spirit in us.

Let’s walk with the Spirit and keep in step with Him as He grows in us the fruit that perfects us: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Abba, may You grow all of these fruit in our lives. Help us to keep our eyes focused on You as we walk with you day by day. Keep transforming us into Your image, conforming us to the image of Your Son, Jesus. I’m lovin’ it! Amen.

Proverbs 12 7-12-21

Yesterday was discernment. Today is discretion. “Think about what you’re going to say, and then don’t say it.”

18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

One of my biggest challenges is keeping my mouth under control. It’s like it has its own little motor that turns on and runs all by itself! Of course, what I’m facing here is habit. I’ve done it so long that it feels unnatural to try to control it. What do I do?

First of all, I must confess that I have a problem. I tell the Lord about it–I’m not fooling anyone. He is the one who prompted me to face my habit! But, confession is good for the soul. It gets it out there on the table.

The next thing is to acknowledge my desire to change. I may not know how, but having the desire is the foundation to change. I claim Psalm 37:4, “Commit your way to the Lord, delight in Him, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” My desire is to be discerning about what I say.

The third thing I do is identify what I talk about that I know is a problem: Speaking critically about people. Why is it a problem?

  1. The person to whom I am talking does not need the negativity. Also, he may not share my opinion.
  2. Professing negative things about others colors my opinion of them. If I am to see them as brothers and sisters in Christ, I must talk about them as if Christ is standing right there with me. Oh, wait–He is!
  3. Some people don’t need ammunition for their own habit of being critical. Besides, they may talk about me the same way!

The best verse for me to combat this habit is Ephesians 4:29, which says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Two things I draw from this verse is that I am to be about building others up and not tearing them down, and to be a benefit and not a hindrance to those who are listening to me. I must consider both the person about whom I am talking and also the person to whom I am talking.

Well, I’m not perfect, but I am working on it with the partnership of the Holy Spirit. I am sure glad that the Lord enjoys our fellowship regardless of how many times it will take for me to kick this habit. I know He’s rooting for me. I also know that I am “more than a conqueror through Him who loves me” (Romans 8:37).

Abba, we all have “kinks in our armor.” I am so glad that You have given us Your armor. May I take my old armor off and put on the new armor, the one that does not gratify the desires of the flesh (Romans 13:14). Keep working in me so that I may be pure and blameless on the Day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:10). I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17); help me live in that reality. Amen.

NOTE: Monday was the first day in 12+ years that I forgot to write a Proverbs post. Couldn’t let THAT happen!

Proverbs 13 7-13-21

There’s a reason that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is called a social gospel. It’s all about the relationships.

20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm [we begin with Christ].

The first relationship is with God Himself. He calls us into fellowship with Him through the precious blood of Jesus and by the giving of the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at some Scriptures:

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

We are God’s special possession and He calls us into His wonderful light. Why? For fellowship.

1 John 1:3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

In believing the message proclaimed by John (and the others with him), we can join in the fellowship of God and with Jesus.

Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

The recipe for a victorious Christian life: The apostles’ teaching, fellowship with other believers, worship with other believers and to prayer, both private and corporate.

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

We have been called into fellowship with the Son of God!

2 Corinthians 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

We have been given fellowship with the Holy Spirit. We have now included all three: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 2:1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

Being in fellowship with the Trinity and with each other means that we are like-minded (in spiritual aspirations), we have the same AGAPE (godly) love, and are one in spirit and mind (we have the same goals). These goals are:

  1. To bring glory and honor to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
  2. To bring others into fellowship with God, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Getting to know Christ intimately is the goal of every Spirit-filled believer. It’s our quest.

1 John 1:6-7 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Walking in the light of Christ means that we have taken His yoke upon us and become a disciple of Christ. We enter the fellowship of believers, and Jesus’ blood purifies us from all sin. In fact, all evidence of sin is removed from our lives.*

We are THE FELLOWSHIP.

Abba, You have called us together to walk together, to work together, to live together, and to love together. May we take Your call seriously. Amen.

Experiencing God’s Healing Hand Focus On the Family Broadcast (be sure to watch all the way to the end!)

Proverbs 11 7-11-21

Thinking like Jesus requires the Holy Spirit. Are we listening to Him? Do we know how?

8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble, and it falls on the wicked instead.

What is meant by discernment of the Spirit?

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 1 John 4:1-3

Learning to determine what makes us feel a certain way is important, even vital. We have to ask, “Is it the Holy Spirit?” We know that He will never lead us in a way that is contrary to the Word of God. But, what if our understanding of the Word of God is incomplete, or even wrong? What if we are basing our opinion, even our conviction, upon something that we have been taught by society? Family? Even church? Could it be a lie of Satan?

NOW we know why studying the Word of God is so important, why getting together with other Christians and talking about passages and their meanings is so important, and why prayer is so important. Our connection with the Holy Spirit is paramount to our understanding of His Word and His Plan.

When confronted with a situation, consider these three questions for discernment:

  1. Is it public? Dealing confrontationally in a public setting is dangerous. It puts the other person in a place where he cannot save face (his dignity); there is no “out” for him. He will usually fight. When possible, wait for a more private moment to confront.
  2. Is it appropriate? Many times, I see something that is wrong, but I am not in a place to do anything about it. It’s not in my realm of influence or responsibility. I can pray about the matter and use it to help me not make the same mistake, but I have to trust that God will work good through the circumstances (even if they are taking the long way around).
  3. Is it convenient? I’m not suggesting that we wait until our schedule clears. We must discern if the climate is right for learning. We may do better to leave (literally). Sometimes, the lack of our support will cause the person to desist. At a later date, we possibly can come back and discuss the matter with that person.

There is always the possibility that God calls us to speak up publicly. When we do, let’s make sure that we are prayed up and righteous. In other words, we CANNOT be angry, because “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God requires” (James 1:20). Let’s be known for our love and compassion. Trust me; we would be different than the world! Jesus said that we would be known as His disciples if we love, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples if you love one another” John 13:34-35.

Abba, may we love like You. As we attend church today, may Your Holy Spirit teach us discernment. May we practice on each other so that when we go out into the world, we will be good at it for Your name’s sake. We love You and want to be good representatives of You and Your name. Amen.

Proverbs 10 7-10-21

What we say and what we do had better line up with each other. People spot hypocrisy pretty quickly.

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver [if their heart is right], but the heart of the wicked is of little value [regardless of what they say].

Proving the Love of Christ is of utmost importance. God calls us to show love to people, both Christians and non-Christians. We must prove that:

  1. We are followers of Christ and not just believers. The difference is whether we just intellectually believe in Him or actually entrust our lives to Him. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder” James 2:19.
  2. The power of Christ is in us changing us into Christ-like people. The people around us must see the change in us. Forgiveness, and purity of mind and heart are what they will notice quickly.
  3. Having Jesus in our lives is more than just talk. We have to walk the walk. Be encouraged; all Christians must walk the walk, too. Let’s hold each other accountable.

Everything that happens to us has a spiritual purpose. Let’s use it to its full advantage. When people notice that we are different and ask us about it, let’s tell them that it’s Christ in us that is making the difference. If the Spirit is working in them, then they will ask more questions. If He is not, then we pray for them that He will begin soon to work in them, maybe even using our words and/or our lives to bring their hearts under conviction.

Steven Curtis Chapman sings,

You can run with the big dogs, you can fly with the eagles,
You can jump through all the hoops and climb the ladder to the top,
But, when it all comes down, you know it all comes down to the walk.

Abba, help us to walk the walk even as we talk the talk. I know it’s important for our lives to match our words. No double-standards here. Thank You for setting the example personally. By relying on Your Spirit all the time, I know we will succeed. Amen.

The Walk by Steven Curtis Chapman

Proverbs 9 7-9-21

Something is precious to you when it costs you something. God’s love cost Him His Son, Jesus. What has your salvation cost you?

8 Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. 9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

Some of the guys and I were sitting around talking this morning and the subject of the Good Samaritan came up. To refresh your memory, here it is (for the full version, see Luke 10:25-37):

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

We came up with three distinctive characteristics for being a good Samaritan. They are:

  1. Inconvenient– Most times, when we see a need, we are on our way to do something. We have schedules, obligations, and appointments. Rarely are we standing around when something happens that calls for us to assist. The sacrifice of our time is the first place a person is called to give if one wants to be like Christ, as the good Samaritan was.
  2. Socially unacceptable– Samaritans and Jews were nationally bigoted toward each other. The Jews particularly held the Samaritans in contempt because of their mixed blood. Often we are called to step across racial lines, economic lines, gender lines, and even religious lines in order to answer the voice of the Holy Spirit. It is the second sacrifice we must be ready to make. In fact, we really need to prepare ourselves ahead of time so that we know how to respond appropriately in order not to offend. If we want to be like Christ, we will have to look beyond these differences.
  3. Expensive– Whatever we think it will cost, count on it being more. “In for a penny, in for a pound,” is an English phrase meaning that once we are committed to a task, we must finish it regardless of the cost. In the case of the good Samaritan, notice that he had already spent oil and wine as well as two denarii (two day’s wages) on the man. He then told the innkeeper that he would cover any extra costs that came up. Like I said, expensive. We know that our income is from the Lord and that He can have us spend it any way He choses. Let’s keep this fact in mind when we go to help and not be stingy. Remember, “Whatever a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Let’s set our hearts to be kind and generous.

When doing good costs us something, it is Christianity at its best. Christ is displayed through us. Also, sometimes we get the opportunity to share the Gospel. People are much more inclined to listen (even politely) when we are helping them. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Let’s be about the Father’s business, shall we?

Abba, You are so good to include us in Your business. Thank You for giving us opportunities to be Your hands and feet, and then Your voice to people in need. It’s worth every minute, every socially awkward moment, and every penny. What do You have for us tomorrow? We’ll be ready (this time). Amen.

Proverbs 8 7-8-21

Ever wondered if God chooses who gets saved? Or, does He hope that people will? It has everything to do with free will.

1 Does not wisdom [NT- the Gospel] call out Does not understanding raise her voice? 6 “Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. 7 My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. 10 Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, 11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her [choosing Christ].”

There are plenty of verses that indicate that the Holy Spirit has to move in a person’s life in order for that person to even want to be saved. Then, the process of salvation is actually the activity of the Spirit in a person’s life. After that, it’s up to the Spirit to keep us until our salvation is complete upon entry into the kingdom of heaven. Here are some verses:

44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. John 6:44

65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” John 6:65

27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Matthew 11:27

14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. Acts 16:14

So, who gets chosen? Let’s look at a few verses and see:

32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live! Ezekiel 18:32

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3-4

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. Titus 2:11

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

What is it that God looks for in a person? We find that answer in 2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” According to Jesus, we have one job: “The work of God is this: to believe in [trust in, rely on, wholly commit to] the one He has sent [Jesus].” But, if a person cannot come unless God enables him, how is a person saved? “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17). So, once a person has heard the message, the Spirit of God takes over. If a person asks God to give him faith to believe in Jesus for salvation, I trust that He will. It’s a confirmation of the Spirit’s presence and participation in that person’s life.

But, not all people take God up on His offer of salvation. We need only to look at the Parable of the Sower to understand the tendency of humanity (read Mark 4:1-20, also Luke 14:15-24).

Our job is to spread the message of Christ. How? By becoming involved in people’s lives and looking for opportunities to share Christ with them. How are you doing in this department? Maybe it’s time we broke out of our protective shells and got busy!

Abba, may I be the first to address this issue in my life. I plan to do it today with Angela, a girl I met yesterday because of an auto accident I witnessed. May I meet her physical needs concerning her car, and then her spiritual needs concerning Jesus. Prime her heart, Lord Jesus. I’m looking forward to the opportunity. Amen.

34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
    watching daily at my doors,
    waiting at my doorway.
35 For those who find me find life
    and receive favor from the Lord.
36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
    all who hate me love [court] death.”

Proverbs 7 7-7-21

How do you see Jesus? How do we reconcile the Loving Jesus with the Wrathful Jesus of Matthew 23 or Revelation 19?

24 Now then, my children, listen to Me; pay attention to what I say.

I see Jesus three ways: Compassionate, sorrowful, and angry. Let’s discuss them.

Jesus was compassionate toward all people. He received anyone who came to Him. “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away [cast out].” John 6:37. All He desires is for us to follow Him with an undivided heart. We have passages like Luke 9:57-62 of the three men that Jesus either called to follow Him or they asked to follow Him; He wanted them to follow Him, but they needed to do it with an undivided heart. We have the rich, young ruler in Mark 10:17-30 who, again, had a divided heart. We even have Judas, who walked three years with Him, but still betrayed Him, which brings up the next way I see Jesus.

Jesus was sorrowful. He is known from Isaiah 53:3 as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. It broke His heart that people would not receive Him. But, they had to have the choice; it was the only way for everyone to have free will. One of the biggest rejection accounts (besides the crucifixion) is found in John 6. Jesus required that they believe Him to be the Messiah on His terms rather than theirs. Upon hearing Jesus’ way of putting things, “many of His disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?'” (verse 60) and many turned away (verse 66). Jesus turned to His 12 disciples and asked them if they would leave, too. Peter was quick to reply, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (verse 68). He had a pure and undivided heart.

Jesus was also angry at times. It is interesting that the only people with whom He got angry were the religious leaders. They weren’t just not following Him; they were leading other people astray. Jesus had this to say about them:

13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying toMatthew 23:14

15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. Matthew 23:15

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Matthew 23:37

Within 40 years, that generation of leaders did, indeed, see “the Son of Man coming in the clouds” as He brought judgment upon Israel and particularly Jerusalem through Rome just as He did through Assyria and Babylon. They would not accept Jesus as the Final Sacrificial Lamb and stop the ceremonial sacrifices, so Jesus brought an end to the Old System Himself. The sacrificial system has never been “resurrected.”

There are two nuggets of wisdom to draw from seeing Jesus in these ways:

  1. Jesus loves those who receive Him. He bestows all of His kingdom treasures on those who choose Him, “Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God–” John 1:12
  2. Jesus Is LORD. Everyone WILL bow the knee to Him. We have this promise in Philippians 2:9-11,
    Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name
    10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth
    11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

We serve a risen Lord! Let’s serve Him with everything we have!

Abba, when I look at You in the Scriptures, I see You in the human form of Jesus (Philippians 2:6-8). I should think of Him as nothing less than You in the flesh (Matthew 1:23, John 1:14). May my readers see You this way, too, even as we tell of Your patient endurance with us, Your compassion, and Your AGAPE love (godly, selfless love that gives what we need rather than what we deserve). Amen.

Proverbs 6 7-6-21

Struggling in your walk with Christ? We may be making it harder than it should be…

3 So do this, my child, to free yourself…Go–to the point of exhaustion…4 allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. 5 Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

What is it that hinders us from following the Lord wholeheartedly? Knowing is half the battle. Once we know, then we can turn our focus and energy to dealing with it. It may sound easy, but most victories are won one battle at a time until ultimate victory is accomplished. So it is with anything in our lives that hinders us. Here’s what the writer of Hebrews says,

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Hebrews 12:1

The writer calls that which hinders sin. Sin means, “to miss the mark.” We KNOW we miss the mark of perfection (doing everything right according to God). So, how do we throw it off, and how do we keep it from keeping us down? The good news is that Jesus has already done it! Let’s read the rest of verse 1 and then verse 2,

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

  • The race marked out for us is God’s will for our lives.
  • The Person we are to fix our eyes upon is Jesus.
  • He is the Beginner and the Ender of faith, which means that He carries both sides of the New Covenant. Not only are we not held accountable for any sin–past, present or future, He has changed what sin does in our lives. It’s like it used to bind us, but now it’s just dead weight that we can take off, as if it were hand and leg irons that came undone.

Do we need, then, to ask forgiveness for sin that we can’t seem to give up? The word we are to activate is, “confess,” which means to agree with God that what is wrong is wrong. This is the “knowing” part of the battle. The second part has to do with Romans 8:15. Let’s look at it:

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

  • The Spirit we received is the Spirit of Christ Jesus (see Romans 8:9-10).
  • We are no longer slaves, but sons!
  • We no longer have to live in fear.
  • We cry out, “Daddy!” to the heavenly Father.

Jesus Himself now lives in each of us giving us victory over “everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” To rid ourselves of besetting sin (embedded habits), Jesus asks us to:

  1. Acknowledge that we have the habit and that it is a problem.
  2. Give Him the problem and ask for His help.
  3. Do the next thing He asks of you.
  4. Each time you fall, confess and begin again.
  5. The Spirit is always specific and encouraging. If you hear condemning words that make you want to quit trying, just realize that you are hearing from the enemy.
  6. Rejoice even in failure! God knows how many times we will fail before we succeed, therefore, He rejoices with each time we get closer and closer to that success. We see each failure; He sees the ultimate victory.

This failure, or stumbling, is not the stumbling that is talked about in Jude 24, which means to falter in your belief in Jesus as God’s Son and that He is our Savior. This stumbling is like a toddler who is learning to walk. We need our spiritual legs to become strong. When a baby toddles from one parent to another, they don’t count how many times he falls, but how many steps he takes! Just like those parents love that baby, GOD LOVES US! I can’t say that strongly enough. Tears come to my eyes when I say it because the Spirit fairly yells to me, “It’s True!!!” Believe it. Stake your life on it. Trust it. Act on it.

Abba, may You show us again and again how much You love us. We are inscribed on the palm of Your hand (Isaiah 49:16). We are the apple of Your eye (Deuteronomy 32:10). May we never forget, but rather be amazed each day with how much You love us. We know that we are more than conquerors through You, Lord Jesus, the One who loves us (Romans 8:37). Help us to grow in the knowledge of Your love.

Proverbs 5 7-5-21

“The Change” is what happens to us when we give our lives to Jesus. He changes us from the inside out.

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

I was listening to my Steven Curtis Chapman playlist and heard one of my favorites, “The Change.” The refrain goes like this:

What about the change, what about the difference?
What about the grace, what about forgiveness?
What about a life that’s showin’ I’m undergoin’ the change?

I got to thinking, “what kind of change?” Here’s what I came up with (so far):

  1. More loving- He is teaching me to love my brother and sister in Christ and to have compassionate love for those who are not part of His family (2 Peter 1:7-8, Romans 12:19-20, 1 John 4:11).
  2. More forgiving- He is showing me how to forgive as He forgives (Matthew 6:12-15, Colossians 3:13).
  3. More focused- I am learning how to remain focused on godly things (Philippians 4:8-9, Colossians 3:2).
  4. More intentional- I make His business my business and seek out His will (Acts 20:24, 1 Corinthians 9:27).
  5. More of a peacemaker- I am realizing that what I say either causes peace or hostility (Matthew 5:9, Proverbs 6:19, James 3:10).
  6. More knowledgeable- Learning who Jesus is according to His Word is vital for spiritual growth (Psalm 19:7-14, 2 Peter 1:5).
  7. Seeing from His Perspective- That’s the definition of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7, 8:12, 9:10).

I suggest that you develop your own list according to what the Spirit is telling you. Gaining the proper perspective of ourselves is key to submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Don’t forget this one thing: God can NEVER be disappointed with you. He loves you and died for you! He knows everything that you ever did and will ever do. Our relationship with the sin in our lives that separates us from having a relationship with the Father has been changed forever. From now on, God uses everything in our lives to teach us to walk in step with Him. Everything: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. He is looking forward to our glorification when we step into His Presence in His Kingdom. In the meantime, He walks with us in sweet fellowship and uses our imperfections to mold us into the image of His Son.

Abba, may You teach us to undergo the change according to Your Spirit. We want to be just like You, Jesus. Amen.

I’m gonna have the change, I’m gonna have the difference,
I’m gonna have the grace, I’m gonna have forgiveness,
I’m gonna have a life that’s showin’ I’m undergoin’ the change
.

The Change – Steven Curtis Chapman

Proverbs 4 7-4-21

The word, “kingdom,” brings up visions of kings and of history. Are we part of a current kingdom?

7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. 8 Cherish her [wisdom], and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. 9 She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.

The United Kingdom is England plus northern Ireland. The United States is not a kingdom, but a republic. At the same time, it fits the historic description of a kingdom, but with a chosen ruler. We do not pledge allegiance to the president, but to the flag, which represents the republic of America. That republic is built upon the Constitution and is protected by the judicial branch of our government. Everyone in America answers to the Constitution in some way: most through obedience, but some through the disciplinary arm of the government.

We Christians, answer to the law of the land (Romans 13:1-7), but we answer to a higher King, the Lord Jesus. He came to establish His kingdom and to reign forever. Let’s look as some of the passages that talk about His kingdom:

32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:32-33

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

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

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

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32

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

We know that God has made us His kingdom (Ephesians 2:19-21, 1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 5:9-10). We know that we reign in this world on a spiritual basis (Luke 10:17, John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11, Revelation 20:1-3). We triumph over Satan and his forces by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11). The rest of that verse says, “they did not love their [earthly] lives so much as to shrink from death.” We must never forget where our true and highest allegiance lies, which is to Jesus Christ and His kingdom.

How does that translate into our everyday lives?

  1. We must be connected and stay connected to King Jesus through prayer.
  2. We must find out all we can about His kingdom, how it works, and what it is like.
  3. We must store up treasures there rather than down here.
  4. We must be willing to do as Jesus asks.

This last one needs some explaining. If Jesus is in control of our lives, then we will be all about His mission. If the best witness to a person or persons is for us to give our time, resources, money, or even our lives, we will do it gladly. The best way for us to be in a position to do so is to be in a constant state of readiness to do just that. The only way to be ready is to be connected and stay connected to King Jesus through prayer–and now we are back to our list.

On this Independence Day, let’s make it our Dependence Day to our Lord Jesus Christ, along with every other day this year.

Abba, thank You for our country. May I love it and serve it, but may I never forget that Your kingdom takes precedence over it. May I be ready to serve You in whatever manner You deem best, knowing that my ultimate goal is to stand in Your presence whole, complete, blameless, and faultless. Wow! Now, that’s worth living for! Amen.

Proverbs 3 7-3-21

I believe Jesus’ entire ministry can be encapsulated in this one statement: “Know Me, know the Father.”

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
11 My child, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent His rebuke, because the LROD disciplines those He loves, as a father the child He delights in.

Knowing God is what Christ was and is all about. He said as much to Philip,

9 “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” John 14:9-10

Jesus came to show how much the Father loves us, and includes all people. Anyone who entrusts his life to the LORD Jesus has eternal life (John 3:16). The real question is, are people interested in knowing God?

I pray that people’s interest would increase as time goes by. May those who know Him desire to know Him more; may those who don’t know Him desire to meet Him. They’ll never desire to serve Him until they meet Him. That’s where we come in! Let’s tell them, show them, and teach them to know Him. When they see Jesus in us, they will see the Father and know His love. Then, they will respond to His love, just like we did, and receive Him as their Lord and Savior, their God and King.

Paul wrote, I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11

Let’s begin this morning answering the call of the Spirit to spend time in the Bible and in prayer. We can’t go wrong with giving Him the first few minutes of our day. Not enough time? Get up earlier. Better yet, ask Him to get you up. Just be warned: He may desire more time with you than you bargained for!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would spend time in Your Word this morning getting to know You through Jesus’ words and life, through Paul’s insights, as well as James, John, and Jude. You have so much to show us! May we avail ourselves to You. Who wouldn’t want to get to know the Creator of the Universe?! Especially when You want to know us!!! We are You children and Your servants, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 2 7-2-21

How important is it to you to connect with Christ and be like Christ? The Spirit asks us this question routinely.

1 My child, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair–every good path.

A familiar pastor said that we would do well to give God the first minutes of our day, the first dollars of our income, and the first day of the week*. Each sets a precedent for the rest of our day, our week, and our dollars. Let’s look at each:

  1. The first few minutes of our day- Devotion
    1. We acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and the Director of our lives
    2. We ask Him to search us, to know our hearts, to probe us, and to expose any area that needs attention (Psalm 139:23-24)
    3. We pledge to follow Him faithfully all day
    4. We feast on His Word so that we have daily nourishment for our souls and fresh inroads for the Spirit
    5. We keep the line of communication open all day
  2. The first dollars of our income- Grace Giving
    1. We thank the Lord for His provision
    2. We take our daily/weekly/bi-monthly/monthly income and ask the Lord how much He wants us to give
    1. We give it to our local body of believers for them to do with as they seek the Lord (no strings attached)
    2. We look for other ways to give between paychecks (a neighbor needs groceries, a person needs the brakes on his bike or car fixed, etc)
    3. We ask the Lord the next time we give if the current amount is still okay
  3. The first day of the week- Corporate Worship
    1. We find a body of believers that have met to seek the Lord and to worship Him
    2. We set aside our preferences for the sake of the group
    3. We participate in worship recognizing that God has called us together for His sake and His glory
    4. We thank God for the privilege and honor to meet with others in His Church, His Body, His Bride

In our book on Discipleship that we are going through on Sunday evenings, a person who is successful in these three areas is well on his way to becoming a spiritual young adult. Spiritual young adults have moved from an egocentric outlook to a ministry-minded outlook. They no longer do things according to how they feel, but according to what is right and true according to God’s Word, and what Jesus is personally calling them to do. They are constantly seeking His face and His will. One day soon, they will be led to a person to whom they will be a mentor/discipler, and then he or she will become a mentor/discipler to someone else. And the process continues.

Which part of this post is the Lord calling you to work on? He usually doesn’t ask us to work on all of these points at once, but He does have us focus on one or two, depending on what is needed in our lives. Ask Him; He will tell you (actually, even as you read this sentence, you already know…).

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will heed Your voice and obey. May they not see working on these areas as drudgery, but as Discipleship 3.0. Help them to move from whatever spiritual level they are to the next one. Help them to see that we all grow daily; where we grow is up the Your Spirit. Move in our hearts, O Lord. You are the Potter; we are the clay. Amen.

*Faith Full, Part 5, Private Disciplines

Proverbs 1 7-1-21

Why do I study my Bible? Because it is the only unchangeable truth. It has been the same for 3500 years and is one big story.*

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.

God’s laws have natural blessings and consequences. Physical laws are the easiest to see, but we can also find them in His moral laws. For instance, a person who runs around on his spouse will erode her trust and destroy the marriage. Also, a person who lies a lot will find that he has no close friends because he cannot be trusted. There are spiritual laws, too. Paul says,

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:7-9

Paul is talking about crucifying the flesh with its passions and desires and living by the Spirit as we keep in step with Him (see Galatians 5:24-25). The only way to be Spirit-filled is to be empty of self and allowing Him to come in and fill us. It’s a conscious decision we need to make every morning when we get up and probably several times a day as our natural desires rear their ugly heads. One of my favorite passages is in Philippians. It’s my 9/11 passage:

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11

It’s that “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ” that gets me every time. We know what the fruit of righteousness is (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; Galatians 5:22-23). They come THROUGH Jesus Christ, which means that He gives them. We go to Him to get them. We can go so far as to say that they flow from Him. He IS love, He IS joy, He IS peace, etc. In order to have them, all we have to do is spend time with Jesus! As we spend time with Him, He opens our minds to knowledge, which in turn allows us to be able to discern what is best. Remember this: Christ makes us pure and blameless. We are already that way in His eyes.

Let’s spend time with Him today. It’s as easy as turning around in our minds. He is there waiting for us. He wants to spend time with us! He loves us and wants to make us to be like Him: Perfect (well-rounded, complete, full). I’ll take that kind of “perfect!”

Abba, I am amazed at Your accessibility! You really are right here with me. May I become more and more aware of You, to trust You, listen to You, and obey You as we get to know each other. I know that over time, I will trust You so much that even dying will seem insignificant compared to the glory that awaits Your children (2 Corinthians 4:17). Keep chiseling away, Lord. I want to be just like You. Amen.

*Written over 1500 years by 40 authors in three languages from various walks of life and from different countries, yet the theme and story are seamless and flawless, flowing from the beginning of history to the first century A.D. See Who Wrote the Bible by Jeffrey Kranz.

Proverbs 30 6-30-21

The separation of church and state is bigger and more catastrophic than we realize! It’s the parting of the ways.

20 This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I’ve done nothing wrong.” This attitude is what is wrong with America today. The majority of Americans have left the Judeo-Christian values on which this nation was built.

There is a passage in the Bible that deals with the relationship between church and state, or the Bride and America. I understand that the analogy is not perfect; Christ is our Bridegroom, not America, but the principle is still the same.

12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.
1 Corinthians 7:12-15

The Puritans and others moved to America to get away from the Church of England so that they could worship the Lord as they saw fit, which was in many ways contrary to what they were forced to do in England. They were Bible-believing, Jesus-worshipping rebels who left the established church to start one of their own in a new land.

When the United States was established, many of the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were Christians, while some were Unitarians, who followed the Judeo-Christian values of the Bible. The Bride of Christ needs no established government in order to survive and even thrive, but the nation needs the Bride of Christ to help it keep its values. The Church sanctifies our nation through these values. God’s laws carry natural consequences and blessings. By abiding by those laws, blessings come, of which our nation has experienced many over the past 200+ years.

The divergence of our nation from these values carries those consequences. One need only to look at Israel to know what happens to a nation who separates itself from God’s laws (Jeremiah 7:17-19, 11:7-8, 19:3-5). By the way, God’s laws are simply the stating of what righteous people do and what unrighteous people do and the subsequent blessings or discipline. People with the Spirit of God have His laws written on our hearts and need no form of government in order to live together. The laws of our land were written for those who are unrighteous and need some kind of outward control. There is no Spirit in them.

As the “husband” rebels against his “believing wife,” he leaves the safety and sanctification that the believing wife provides. It is this rebellion that America is having against the Church, the Bride of Christ. How does this “parting of the ways” affect the Church? Foundationally, not at all. Culturally, it will become more difficult to live in the culture of the world. The Church will have to pull out and become a culture unto itself. Ironically, this counter-culture is exactly how the Christians lived in the first, second and third centuries! Even more ironic is the fact that the Church exploded during those centuries. Why? Because their Christianity was authentic; there was no advantage to be gained by pretending to be a Christian.

I pray that our churches would be filled with authentic Christians. How that may be achieved is up to the Lord. Will you begin the process of removing the world’s culture from your Christianity?

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would begin to remove the world’s culture from their lives. It begins with a simple question, “Lord, what would You have me do first?” From there, I know that You will guide them. I pray that You would continue to do the same in my life. May I replace time-wasters with reading Your Word, Christian books and studies, and time with other Christians. May we do everything we know to do to ignite the flame of revival in our own hearts so that it may spread to others. Purify Your Church, O Lord. Amen.

13 while we wait for the blessed hope—
the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 
14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness 

and to purify for himself a people
that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Titus 2:13-14

Proverbs 29 6-29-21

In Christ, our relationship with sin has changed. It becomes a tool in the Master’s hand to teach us righteousness.

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

Romans 5 puts it all together for us as to why Christ did things the way He did. The peace mentioned in verse 1 is far more than just a truce; it’s complete peace, meaning that there are now NO BOUNDARIES between us and the Father. And, nothing can come between us, not evil, not even our own choices (John 10:27-30, Romans 8:35-39).

Let’s look at verse 15, “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man [Adam], how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

What is the gift that came by the grace of Jesus? We find it in John 4 and 7:

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37-38
History: The festival is the Feast of Booths, which was to commemorate the Israelites living in tents in the wilderness. It was to remind them that there is coming when they would live in the land of plenty; it’s a picture of heaven! Also, there was a ceremony on the last day where water was drawn from the Pool of Siloam in lower Jerusalem and taken up to the temple and poured out as an offering. Jesus was saying that He was that drink offering. It was a big Messianic sign.

Let’s talk about the word, “overflow.” It’s connotation is that we are filled to overflowing. With what? God’s grace! Our sins are washed away and we are covered with a non-stick material–His blood–and nothing ever sticks again. We are now overflowing with grace! The best illustration I know is from John 13 when Jesus washed Peter’s feet:

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean,
John 13:6-10a

Those who are in Christ Jesus are being made pure and holy, clean and righteous, and have been made blameless and without fault in His glorious presence, which is in us (Romans 8:1-2, 1 Corinthians 1:8-9, Ephesians 1:4, 5:26, Jude 1:24). Our sins are forgiven; now, when we act in contradiction with the Spirit (by turning away), He calls us to repent (turn back around and face Him). This act of repentance happens when we make confession (agreeing with God that what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong). When we confess to each other the things that draw us away from looking into the face of Christ, it helps us in two ways:

  1. We verbalize our weaknesses and can deal with them in the light;
  2. Others now know how to pray for us and can hold us accountable by asking us about them.

Never again are we judged according to our sin; Christ dealt with sin on the cross. Now, all who follow Christ walk in righteousness. Those who don’t walk in righteousness don’t have the Spirit, which means that they do not belong to Christ. If sin does not bother a person, then there’s no conviction of the Spirit. In contrast, even besetting sin (deep-rooted habits of bondage) comes with conviction of the Spirit; it may take years to overcome these problems. That’s okay. We have our entire lives that flow into eternity to have complete victory!

Tomorrow, we will talk about that victory. Today, let’s live in thankfulness and gratefulness for Christ’s sacrifice that rescued us from the bondage of sin.

Abba, I am deeply grateful for all You have done for me. I am not perfect, but I am blameless. My desire (which comes from the Spirit) is to be more and more like You. I know that I get that way by walking with You, gazing into Your beautiful face, and by obeying all that You say as You walk with me and counsel me. O, the love, joy and peace that flow from You to me! I am, indeed, thankful! May they pour out through me to others. Amen.

Proverbs 28 6-28-21

Understanding the Plan of God is important. It helps us to walk in His light with confidence.

5 Evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully [a continuous process].

I’ve been reading Romans lately. I read through it and now I am going through it again. It’s amazing how much I missed that first reading! I’ve been stuck in chapter 5 for several days now. Today, I managed to read three verses and I would like to discuss them with you. I am using the Amplified Version for clarity–the interesting thing is that my program was on that version from yesterday; otherwise, I may not have even looked at that one (do you think the Holy Spirit arranged that little detail?!):

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, so death spread to all people [no one being able to stop it or escape its power], because they all sinned. 13 Sin was [committed] in the world before the Law [was given], but sin is not charged [against anyone] when there is no law [against it]. 14 Yet death ruled [over mankind] from Adam to Moses [the Lawgiver], even over those who had not sinned as Adam did. Adam is a type of Him (Christ) who was to come [but in reverse—Adam brought destruction, Christ brought salvation]. Romans 5:12-14

Looking at verse 14, let’s break it down:

  1. Death ruled over mankind- Adam was our representative before God just as we have representatives in Washington. What they decide affects us; in the same way, what Adam decided affected us–or, should I say, infected us with sin! With sin came death. By the way, the Old Earth idea foregoes death entering through sin whereas a literal six-day creation sets the stage for Adam and sin; it’s either one or the other.
  2. Sin was in the world before the law- The law, which is God’s basic description of righteousness, wasn’t given until Moses, but since God’s law is written on everyone’s hearts (see Romans 2:15), everyone is held accountable to that same law. God, “in His forbearance, let the sins committed beforehand unpunished” (Romans 3:25) until Christ came to pay for all sin. Consequently, death ruled over mankind until Christ came. The law, with its sacrificial system, was designed to increase people’s desire for righteousness and holiness and to set the stage for Christ to come as the Final Sacrifice (Romans 3:20 –> Ephesians 4:24).
  3. Christ brought salvation- Jesus is our Representative just like Adam was, which means that what He did on the cross paid the sin debt for all mankind. The invitation for salvation is open to all people, but is not universally granted; it is granted only to those who accept His sacrifice and receive the forgiveness achieved by it.

We’ll talk more about this salvation as we move through Romans. Today, let’s try to get our minds around the fact that God has a Plan and has been working His Plan from the beginning. Us in Christ was on His mind before He ever created the heavens and the earth! Let’s enjoy our position in Him as children of the heavenly Father!

Abba, thank You for having such a great plan for the world, for Your church, and for us. We had no part in our salvation except to accept Your sacrifice for us and to receive Your forgiveness. May we take great comfort in that forgiveness, Lord. From that time on, we live in the light of Your love, walking with You and striving to be just like You, Jesus. Lead on, my King. Amen.

Proverbs 27 6-27-21

The rich young ruler went away sad because he was very rich. How would answer Jesus if He asked you to give everything away? (Mark 10:17-22)

1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. NIV

21 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold [to separate the impurities of the metal],
And each is tested by the praise [life] given to him [and his response to it, whether humble or proud].
AMP

Dying to self and living for Christ (with Christ) means that whatever I enjoy, whatever I like, even what I value is secondary to what Christ asks of me. In other words, if Christ asks me to not watch a particular tv show again, I won’t; if Christ asks me to give up certain foods or drink, I will; if Christ asks me to give away anything I own, I will. He sets my values, changes my preferences, and transforms that which gives me joy. It’s what being conformed to the image of Christ is all about.

I have several favorite verses that remind me of my priority. Here they are:

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:29

18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18

19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, Galatians 4:19

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:9-10

17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because in this world we are like Jesus. 1 John 4:17

If these verses are true, then every moment I live is subject to the Master’s hand. Am I really willing to give up my life as I know it if He asks me to? Can I give up Sci-Fy and video games, ice cream and cokes? Can I really give my stuff away to people who could use it more than I? Do I really need a whole bunch of money saved up in order to feel secure? So far, the Lord has only asked me to consider letting go of a few things, but if I’m really wanting to see revival in our church and our land, I need to up my game on getting serious about following Him.

As we worship this morning, remembering that we are responding to His call to meet with the family of God, may we consider the question, “What am I willing to give up for Christ?” If revival could start if we got serious about following Him, what might it cost? Would we be willing to pay it? Good questions for a Sunday morning, right?

Abba, as we meet together, may we see each other with new eyes. May we see in each person the potential of being the catalyst for revival. Also, may we see in ourselves Your potential to begin moving in people’s hearts. Our willingness to change may be the spark that You use to start the fire of revival in our land. May it be so, Lord Jesus! Amen.

Proverbs 26 6-26-21

Why would a person want to become a Christ-follower? We need to be ready to answer this question.

Answer [and correct the erroneous concepts of] a fool according to his folly [when he asks],
Otherwise he will be wise in his own eyes [if he thinks you agree with him].
AMP

My pastor and I were brainstorming the other day and he wrote down these five things that are easily shared with someone who asks why a person would want to become a Christ-follower.

Life Without God means:

  1. No wisdom
  2. Bondage
  3. No real peace
  4. No power
  5. No true satisfaction.
  1. No wisdom- Being able to determine when someone is lying to you is a big deal. Satan has most people fooled, so they spout off his lies as if they are truth: Darwinism (Darwin), psychoanalysis (Freud), and Communism (Marx) are three that took the world by storm at the turn of the 19th Century. Knowing what truth really is comes from the Truth-Giver, Jesus.
  2. Bondage- Whether we recognize it or not, we are slaves to that which controls us. Our sin controls us, therefore, we are slaves to sin. We need a Savior.
  3. No real peace- When we control our circumstances, we have a sense of peace. The problem is that we rarely control our circumstances, therefore, we rarely have this sense of peace, much less, maintain it.
  4. No power- We cannot control our circumstances, nor can we control other people (for long). We cannot change them; we cannot even change ourselves very much or for very long. We don’t usually have the desire to change; it’s easier to just rock along…
  5. No true satisfaction- Because we are just rocking along, there’s really no point to life. We accept circumstances as they come–or we rail against them–because we have no power to control what happens in our lives. There is some satisfaction to getting our way, and there is a fleeting satisfaction to sin, but both are temporary and illusive.

Life With God Means:

  1. Great Wisdom
  2. Freedom
  3. Real Peace
  4. His Power
  5. Real Satisfaction
  1. Great wisdom- With the Spirit comes the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). When we die to ourselves and focus on Him (Romans 6:11, 1 Peter 2:24), we ask Him what He thinks about any given circumstance, subject, or opportunity. He instructs us in the way we should go or not go, in what to say or not say, and in what to do or not do.
  2. Freedom- We are free from the chains of sin (Romans 8:1-2, Galatians 5:1)! We do only what we want to do, which is to serve our new Lord and Master, Jesus Christ! Our heavenly Father is pleased with us and we have His Spirit to lead us in righteous behavior and attitudes. In Christ, we are free indeed! We COULD live to serve ourselves, but why would we want to? Jesus is the One with the words of eternal life (John 6:68).
  3. Real peace- Jesus gives us His peace (John 14:27, 16:33). It goes way beyond circumstantial peace and even beyond happiness. It originates at the throne of God and flows through us to others, just like His love and joy do.
  4. Real power- We have resurrection power available to us to overcome sin (Ephesians 1:20, 1 John 5:4-5, 2 Timothy 1:7). We access that power when we yield to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. It is always available because He is always available in us.
  5. Real satisfaction- Satisfaction comes from knowing that we are safe and secure in Jesus’ arms. The love, joy and peace that we feel give us a feeling of satisfaction that cannot be duplicated by the world (that’s what drugs and sex are all about). We are content with our circumstances because we know that we have a sure inheritance awaiting us with Jesus (our persecuted brothers and sisters know this differentiation very well). We live in His promise that He will either come and get us to take us to be with Him or that He will come again when He combines heaven and earth (John 14:1-4, Matthew 19:28, Acts 3:21, Romans 8:19-21).

When we share the Gospel, our first job is to give our testimony. The power of Christ in our lives is what is so attractive to a person in whom the Holy Spirit is working. The information above answers the question of why a person would want to become a Christ-follower. I pray that it comes in handy the next time someone questions you.

Abba, I look forward to using this information in sharing You with others. I realize that there’s not anything in there about what is required to follow Jesus, like the forsaking of ourselves and our sin, receiving Your gift of eternal life, the entry of the Holy Spirit into our lives, and our pledge to follow His direction and counsel from now on. We can share that information at another time or as You lead. For right now, we want to be faithful witnesses to the Truth. In partnership with You, I know we will be. Amen.

Proverbs 25 6-25-21

Regardless of where we are coming from, all roads lead to Jesus, and then Jesus leads us to God. Jesus is our Source for everything.

13 Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him; he refreshes the spirit of his master.

Church attendance is a good thing, but it isn’t what is meant by “walking with the Lord.” Our walk is person and ongoing. It is a daily, even continuous, giving-over of ourselves to Jesus. He is our Companion, Leader, and Guide. We constantly check with Him for direction, instruction, knowledge and understanding of what to do next, say next, and even what to think–about anything!

God doesn’t have rules; He doesn’t need them. Those who have His Spirit know the mind of God and Christ (1 Corinthians 2:12, 16). That’s why when Paul gives an example list of acts of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21, he ends the list with these words, “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Why? Because they don’t have the Spirit of God within them. He then gives an example list of the fruit that the Spirit grows in a Christian’s heart (Galatians 5:22-23), and ends this list with these words, “Against such things there is no law.”

When a person is living by the Spirit, he keeps in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). What does that look like?

People who are committed to walking with Jesus read their Bibles “religiously,” meaning that we read them to learn, to know, and to grow. It’s important to us because it’s how we know what God’s voice sounds like and what He will say.

People who are committed to walking with Jesus want to spend time together talking about what they have learned and listening to others about what they have learned. We don’t always agree, but that’s okay, too. We know that eventually, all will be revealed (Philippians 3:15-16). In the meantime, we rejoice together in sweet fellowship with the Spirit of God.

People who are committed to walking with Jesus look for ways to lead others to do the same. We help people along in their walk with Christ. If someone doesn’t know Him, then we introduce him to Jesus. Evangelism and discipleship really are this simple!

Dying to self and living for Christ by following His every footstep and command is the desire that the Spirit puts in our hearts–and we don’t mind. In fact, we like it!

5 And we will not be disappointed, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5

Today, let’s die to ourselves and live for Christ, with Christ. Let’s listen to the Holy Spirit and display our love for the Father. The world is dying for an unfailing love; we have it in Christ!

Abba, may You kindle the flame of Your love in my heart. I want it to burn brightly. I envision myself as the burning bush that burned, but didn’t burn up; that’s how I see myself in You. Light me up, Lord. I want so much of Your love that I overflow to others! Amen.

Proverbs 24 6-24-21

Let’s talk about the part of the Christian life that they may not have told you about at your conversion…

26 An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.

Full disclosure is needed before a person comes to Christ. Jesus never asks a person to receive part of Him, nor does He ask someone to follow Him part-time. We have these Scriptures to show this truth:

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:57-62

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Mark 10:21-22

In Baptist circles, most people use Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” But, did they disclose verse 11 from earlier in the chapter? It says, “In the same way [just as Christ died and now lives], count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

They may have used, Galatians 2:16, “A person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” But, did they reveal 5:16-17, which say, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Jesus doesn’t want us just to be with Him in heaven. He wants us NOW. So much so that He enters our hearts and lives with us NOW. He wants us to be like Him: holy, righteous, pure and blameless NOW. Are we ready for such news? Do we really want Him to be the actual Lord of our lives? We all still want to give in to our fleshly desires, but those who have the Spirit of God in them have a new desire that will not let us give in for long. He will teach us what it means to be crucified with Christ:

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 in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24

14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

Tomorrow, we will talk about our new person walking with the Spirit. In the meantime, let’s put our flesh on the cross; I promise you it fits!

Abba, I don’t like the pain of the cross, nor do I like dying to self, but I desire even more to be just like You. I want to act like You and think like You, and the only way to do that is to die to self and live for You, Jesus. Make Yourself known to me; teach me what You like and dislike; instruct me in how to overcome sinful habits. Sanctify me, Lord, and then glorify me so that You are glorified. I’m Yours. Amen.

Proverbs 23 6-23-21

What motivates a person is important. It shows where his heart really is.

6 Do not eat the bread of a selfish person;
Or desire his delicacies;
For as he thinks within himself [in his heart], so he is [revealed].
He says to you, “Eat and drink!”
But his heart is not with you.
You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten
And waste your compliments.

We all know what self-motivation is; it’s what drives us to do, to be, to aspire, and to succeed. Inner motivation is a desire that comes not from us, but from the Holy Spirit who is in us. The first has to do with our preference; the second with the Lord’s command. We can trust the Spirit of God to tell us to do things that are pleasing to God. We become godly by listening and heeding the Holy Spirit’s quiet whisper and His nudges.

How do we know what types of things the Spirit whispers? We look at what He has said and done in the past. Our reference book for such history is the Bible. The book of Acts is full of the Spirit’s leading of the apostles. He leads us the same way. Why read the Bible? In order to learn how to hear the Spirit’s voice when He speaks to us (which is all the time). What does He say? Things like,

17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will rejoice over you with joy,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy
.
Zephaniah 3:17

15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters by which we cry out, “Abba [Daddy]! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:15-16

Let’s not let the enemy talk us out of responding to the Spirit within us. Our inner motivation is what drives us to learn all we can about our Savior, the Spirit within us, the kingdom of God, and our future with Him.

One more thing: When you hear His voice and feel His gentle nudge, do what He says. He won’t ask you to do it unless it is important to Him. Let’s make it important to us!

Abba, I want to hear Your voice all the time! The only way I can do that is if I can get my own voice to quiet down. When I hear myself going off on a tangent in my mind, I am trying to learn to abruptly stop and change direction. I don’t try to finish the thought, but immediately enter into a conversation with You. Help me to do more and more of this kind of inner motivation as You coach me. I’m working on my want-to to want to. I want to delight in You, Lord; now, give me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4), which is to obey You in everything (Psalm 40:8). Awaiting Your word, amen.

The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom,
    so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
    and opens my understanding to his will.

Isaiah 50:4