Archive for the ‘Proverbs’ Category

Proverbs 23 8-23-19

August 23, 2019

What dominates our thoughts usually indicates what is important to us. Take time to analyze.

When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, (2) and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. (3) Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive. Proverbs 23:1-3

The object of this verse is to make us think, to analyze:

  1. Why am I there?
  2. What do we hope to gain?
  3. What do I stand to lose?

It’s a great time for you and the LORD to walk through the situation together. Let’s go over some goals:

  1. Don’t put too much weight on pleasing them. Our overarching goal is to please our LORD through our conversation with Him and our obedience to Him.
  2. Don’t be judgemental toward them. Unless asked, their relationship with the LORD is between them and the LORD. Don’t meddle- even mentally.
  3. Look for opportunities to drop spiritual nuggets- not only to the host, but to the wait-staff, as well.

Our goal is to “be kind and compassionate, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” Eph. 4:32.

Abba, give us grace and discernment for today. Amen.

Proverbs 22 8-22-19

August 22, 2019

Another word for faithfulness is dependability. How dependable are you in your relationship with the LORD?

(12) They eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

In most of our lives, the biggest fight is in our mind. We are not, for the most part–and it might change in the near future–ridiculed or persecuted for our faith. Yet, most of us still struggle in some area of our lives. We fight to keep from getting sucked back into old habits and routines, old friendships and patterns–and often losing. What is it that would help us the most in our Christian faith?

KNOWLEDGE

There are two kinds of knowledge: Head knowledge and heart knowledge. Head knowledge is what we learn and lock into our brains. Heart knowledge is what we experience and lock into our hearts. Both are advantageous and necessary, and one needs the other.

What we need to know:

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Our knowledge of God must increase daily in two ways:

  1. We must find out all we can about Him and His Plan for us as individuals and for the world in general. This knowledge is our head knowledge. What we believe, based upon the truths that we learn, is the foundation of our faith. We act on what we know to be true.
  2. We must interact with God constantly. We talk about “a daily walk” when we actually mean “a constant walk.” Our relationship is continuous. God designed it to be literal when He said that He would never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Our experiential knowledge of Him confirms in our hearts what we know in our heads.

Let’s look at another passage of Scripture which has to do with war from the perspective of knowledge:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day [time] of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:10-18

  1. We are strong in His power and not our own.
  2. We need spiritual protection from Satan.
  3. The devil’s schemes are to trick us into following him. Remember your allegiance is to Christ!
  4. There may not be a demon behind every bush, but the IS one behind every thought that perverts, distorts, undermines, obstructs, and downright opposes godliness (thinking and acting like God). Now that you know this in your head, will you move it to your heart by acting on it?
  5. As Christians, we are headed the wrong way according to the world, which includes the majority of people in America–and where you live! Not only that, but people who either don’t know the LORD or are against Him do not fight fairly; they have no conscience to battle. We must train ourselves to fight as the LORD would have us fight rather than revert or resort to fighting like the world does.
  6. Patience means, “last man standing.” We simply outlast our opponent. How? By the power of the Holy Spirit based upon our knowledge of His Word and what we have put into practice.
  7. Truth holds our pants up and our weapons on. The truth of God’s Word is vital.
  8. God’s righteousness protects our heart. We ARE righteous in His sight. Never forget that. Satan would have you doubt it constantly. Determine NOW that you are God’s child and are made righteous through the shed blood of Jesus Christ!
  9. We must know the Gospel backwards and forwards. What I mean is that we need to know HOW a person is saved and WHY a person needs to be saved according to ALL of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. We need to know the WHOLE story, which is why we study the Bible everyday. It’s too big to grasp in one setting or in snatches. We must be diligent and organized in our approach to His Word. It’s that important.
  10. Do you believe what you read? Satan would have you doubt everything. Our faith is based upon our walk, our experience, our interaction with Christ through His Spirit. Do you know that you know that you know? How? Through your walk with Christ daily/constantly, experiencing Him and putting into practice all we know.
  11. The helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit are connected by the Word of God. We commit to memory the Word which we use as our offensive weapon against Satan and the powers of this dark world. What we know in our heads concerning the Word and our relationship with God determines how sharp our blade is and if we actually draw it out and use it.
  12. Prayer is the key. It’s our connection to God, because of Jesus, through His Spirit within us. If we read His Word and submit to what it says, He will explain it to us. Sometimes, He speaks straight to our hearts; other times, He reveals truths to us through circumstances; many times, it’s through others that He makes His truths known to us. All the time, though, we stay connected to the VINE, His Spirit.

I preach to myself today. I KNOW these truths in my head; I struggle to know them in my heart, so I read them, rehearse them, and put them to the test everyday. He is ALWAYS faithful and His words are TRUE. I’m depending on that. You should, too.

Abba, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen. (based upon Psalm 19:14)

Proverbs 21 8-21-19

August 21, 2019

The problem with prosperity is that we come to depend upon ourselves rather than the LORD. How quickly we forget!

(31) The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.

One of the things that make life as a soldier easier these days is the drone. It flies above the soldiers in the field and gives the commander a bird’s-eye view of everything, thus making his commands much more accurate and successful. The Holy Spirit has a “bird’s-eye” view of our battleground and wants to guide us through it successfully. But, we have some things working against us:

  1. Our prosperity has made us arrogant. We think that our success is based upon OUR decisions. To some degree, it is true, but what we forget is that worldly success may not be for our best interest. We cannot foresee what any particular success will do to us down the road. What LOOKS good and right and successful at this moment may not take us to where the LORD wants for us down the road.
  2. The world itself is in the hands of the enemy. What is successful in the world is usually in direct opposition to what the LORD deems successful. For a good overview of this truth, read Psalm 73. Here are a few verses from it: (4) They [the arrogant and wicked] have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. (5) They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. (6) Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. (7) From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. (8) They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. (9) Their mouths lay claim to heaven and their tongues take possession of the earth. They are enemies of God–not of His doing, but of their own.
  3. Our own flesh is working against us. The apostle Paul talks about our struggle in Romans 7:7-25. Only God knows what is best for us. But, how do we discover His best and see from His perspective? For that, we return to Psalm 73: (16) When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply (17) till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. (18) Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. (19) How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! When impending doom was coming, they headed straight into it! What does God want for us? (23) Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into gloryFolks, it doesn’t get any better than that!

We talked yesterday about the war we are in and that Satan is the ruler of this world. Let’s look at that passage in Ephesians:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10

We were dead spiritually. We naturally followed the ruler of the kingdom of the air, which is the devil, i.e. Satan. We sinned and we enjoyed it because we had no Holy Spirit to bring conviction. We had no hope of having anything to do with God, nor did we even want it. What changed our minds?

When we heard of God’s great love for us through the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit brought conviction on our hearts. We responded through faith and received by grace His great gift of salvation. WE CHANGED ALLEGIANCE. We no longer follow Satan, nor continue down the road of destruction with the rest of humanity; we repented (turned around). The problem is that we are now heading against the flow. NOW we understand why the “Prosperity Gospel” that is preached a lot on TV doesn’t work. Let me hit you with a verse from Peter: Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you [bear out what is latent within you], as though something strange were happening to you. (13) But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (16) However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 1 Peter 4:12-13, 16 

How, then, shall we live?

  1. Keep our eyes on the Prize: Jesus and heaven. We should have already read this morning something in His Word to orient ourselves to His reality and His perspective.
  2. Be prepared to do whatever He asks even if it is in direct opposition to the logic and goals of this world, especially concerning money. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be, also.” – Jesus.
  3. Be ready to receive resistance, frustration, argument, rejection, ridicule and even persecution for your decisions. It’s natural and inevitable. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything [THIS is the definition of “perfect”]. James 1:2-4

Abba, as we go out in Your name, may we stay close to You and oriented to Your battle plan to snatch as many from the fire as will come. Help us to follow You and to be Your ambassadors in this fallen world. May our lives be living testaments to Your grace, Your love, and all the benefits that come from being Yours: abounding love, transcending peace, overflowing joy, steadfast hope, and grace upon grace. Lead us to SOMEONE with which to share Christ today. Amen.

Proverbs 20 8-20-19

August 20, 2019

How are you doing in the fight against evil? You realize you ARE in a war, don’t you?

(18) Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.

When we accepted Jesus Christ as our LORD and Savior, we changed allegiance from Satan to Jesus. We now serve Jesus, which puts us at war with the devil and this world in general.

Let’s take the next couple of days to look at what it means to follow Christ, what it takes to follow Christ, and what we need to follow Christ. Let’s start with what we need:

  1. Assurance– We need assurance that we are His and that He is with us.
  2. Support– We need support from the Spirit and from other Christians.
  3. Strategy- We need a strategy, a game plan on how to fight the enemy on the inside and on the outside.

What it takes to follow Christ is:

  1. The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit– We get this/Him when we totally surrender our lives to the Lord Jesus. Categorically. There are always pockets of resistance within us, but we generally allow Him to have full reign in our hearts and lives. He will deal with the rest.
  2. Tenacity– holding fast, persistence. The quality or property of holding together firmly. We let go of the things of this world and hold onto Jesus for life.
  3. Reset– the ability to reset and begin again. When we sin, when we fail, when we stumble and fall, when we revert, when we give in, we must learn to reset: We go to Him who gives grace; we bow once again before Him acknowledging Him as our Lord and King; we receive His smile, His embrace, and His love and begin again. “God doesn’t count the number of times we fall, but the number of steps we take.”

Now, what does it mean to follow Christ? I’m afraid that some people have gotten mixed up with Christians and the church without realizing into what they have gotten themselves, or for what they have signed up.

  1. Following Christ means that we have turned from sin and self. We realize that we are not good people and we need a Savior. That’s Jesus!
  2. Following Christ means that we turn to Him. Just being sorry for our sins doesn’t save us; we must turn TO JESUS asking Him to come into us and give us life. We must move from death to life through rebirth. We are BORN AGAIN.
  3. Following Christ means that we seek His face, listen for His voice, and obey His commands–ALWAYS. It is the Way of Life for us. When we fail or fall, we allow Him to pick us up, comfort us, dust us off, dress our wounds, kiss us, and then we try again.

The last verse in Chapter 20 sounds horrible, but has great potential:

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

If we are, indeed, at war with the devil, we need to understand that WE WILL receive blows and wounds and beatings. We WILL get knocked down, deserted and even wounded by our friends, both lost friends and fellow Christians. The enemy is too good at what he does, and we still live in these sin-ridden bodies with all their habits, tendencies, and lusts. We MUST be forgiving of each other, helping each other up and having each other’s backs. Let’s dress each other’s wounds rather than shoot our wounded. The best way to remove pollutants from water is to distill it (boil it and run the steam into a new flask). It’s the same with sterilizing instruments for surgery, and for refining silver. When making a sword, the metalworker heats the metal to red-hot and then hammers it into shape. Do you feel it? I sure do!

Tomorrow, we will look at Ephesians 2:1-10. You might want to read ahead.

Abba, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ that they would grasp who they are in You, and that we are in a war–and in the middle of occupied territory! Give us insight, strength, and endurance so that we can stand against the enemy, O LORD. May we stand so close to You that we fairly glow with the love, peace and joy that radiate from You. May You renew our hope with Your grace. I pledge allegiance once again to You, my LORD and KING. Amen.

Proverbs 19 8-19-19

August 19, 2019

Remembering who we are in Christ and what He has done-and is doing-in us is important. It keeps us fresh.

22 What a person desires is unfailing lovebetter to be poor than a liar. 23 The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble [the troubles of this life].

When we see the whole story of God’s unfailing love for us displayed through Jesus Christ, we learn to fear the LORD in the correct manner. I am reminded of one of the characters in The Chronicles of Narnia refer to Aslan (Jesus) in this manner, “He’s a good lion–not a tame one, but a good one.”

We’ve discussed before God’s greatness and His goodness. The fact that He is great allows Him to be good, and His goodness is what makes Him great to us! I start my week (after Sunday) reminding myself of His greatness and His goodness and praying them over my family.

Card #1: Ephesians 1:16-23

I have not stopped [do not stop] giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of [spiritual] wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better [more fully]. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people [our inheritance IS His people, His family], 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, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way [it is through His church–us!–that He fills everything in every way].

This passage describes His great power. THIS is the GOD we serve!

Card #2:

For this reason [the one mentioned above] I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every [His] family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell [abide, rule] in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in [His] love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know [through experience] this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God [His love, peace, joy, hope and grace!].

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

This passage describes His great love for us. THIS is WHY we serve Him!

Card #3:

To him [Jesus, Jude’s big brother!] who is able to keep you from stumbling [falling] and to present you before his glorious presence without fault [blameless] and with great joy 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

This passage gives me my hope for today and the future. I don’t fear the Day of Judgement because of THIS VERSE knowing that I will be blameless and will be presented to the Father with great joy–both mine and Jesus’.

These passages are how I start my week. I pray them over my family. Today, I pray them over you.

Heavenly Father, I praise You today for Your greatness and Your goodness. Thank You for going to such great lengths to buy us back. You gave us the gift to be able to choose, and, regretfully, we chose sin. But, through Your great love, You have made a way back to You through the shed blood of Jesus! We are now a part of Your family and will enjoy all the benefits of Your inheritance soon! In the meantime, we are enjoying getting to know You in our inner being. Grow us in You, O LORD.

I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ, particularly those who are part of my Proverbs Club, that they would experience You on a great and intimate level today as they read Your Word and walk with You. May we all walk in step with Your Spirit today. I love You, LORD. My life is Yours. Amen.

NOTE: Bryan used the word, Propitiation, yesterday. One of its meanings is, “to make compatible.” I love this meaning! Through the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus, we have been made compatible with God–His Spirit comes and lives in us! WOW!

Proverbs 18 8-18-19

August 18, 2019

Chapter 18 is about CHURCH! God uses church as an environment for His children to learn to be like Him.

Here are some interesting verses:

(15) The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.

We go to church to listen for Him to speak to our hearts through:

  1. The pastor- He is the primary person to whom God will speak concerning the body. We are to honor him and his position as head of our “environment.”
  2. The teachers- They put forth the Word, which will change lives–YOUR life.
  3. The music- The message of the songs can circumvent our intellect and shoot straight to our hearts, but we MUST participate. “Passive worship” is a contradiction in terms. If a person doesn’t sing, then he must actively listen and allow Himself to be carried to His throne.
  4. Each other- God uses His people to speak to His people. It’s one of the reasons we should take our time together very seriously, looking for opportunities to share His love and each other’s burdens.

(1) An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.

When a person chooses to be unfriendly, he shuts down the work of the Holy Spirit in his life. If he’s not careful, he will get caught in a holding pattern in which he will stay until he chooses wisely the next opportunity the LORD gives him. Being confrontational is rarely godly.

(2) Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.

We must come to church to hear from the LORD. Most times, that means keeping our mouths shut concerning our opinion and listening to what our leaders have to say. It’s not a matter of hierarchy, but of office. See James 3:1-2. If you are a church leader, be it a deacon, teacher, or otherwise, you must serve with a servant’s heart. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just like Me.” Matthew 20:25-26. “Servant leader” seems like an oxymoron, but it describes Jesus’ own attitude.

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

At church, we must strive to NOT hold people in contempt, but to teach, rebuke, correct and train in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). The Holy Spirit will bring conviction in their lives if we:

  1. Are living a godly life ourselves;
  2. Pray fervently before speaking to them about their sin and situation;
  3. Hold out the “olive branch” of peace to them if they repent;
  4. Continue to pray for them as they wrestle with their decision regardless of their reaction/response.

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

I want church to be a safe place for Christians to come and learn and grow and experience the presence of Christ manifested in corporate worship. Let’s all strive to be additions to His peace rather than subtractions.

Abba, as we go to church this morning, may we humble ourselves in Your sight, O LORD, so that You can lift us up. May we always take the lower seat at the banquet table (You will move us up IF you so desire). May we study to show ourselves approved, rightly handling Your Word of truth. May we experience Your love as we love each other through word and deed. May we feel your joy as we draw close to Your throne. May we spread Your peace as we interact with each other today and all week. “Make us like YOU, O LORD. You were a servant; make us one, too.” I love You, LORD. May I share that love to those around me today. Amen.

Proverbs 17 8-17-19

August 17, 2019

Truth + Grace = Love. That’s the Gospel in a nutshell, and the formula for living a godly life. We spend our entire lives learning it.

(20) One whose heart is corrupt does not prosper [positional]; one whose tongue is perverse falls into trouble [relational].

We ALL begin with corrupt hearts. It’s our nature. But, Jesus gives us a new heart and a new nature! We spend the rest of our lives learning how to access it, use it, and allow it to become our go-to for living our lives (godly living).

Notice the words in brackets. Jesus deals with us according to our position in Him. The new heart we receive is permanent and is sealed within us by the Holy Spirit. The relational part is where we live each day. Our tongues (what we say) reveal which nature by which we are living. Is there bitterness in our hearts? Anger? Discord? Vindictiveness? Hostility? Even rebellion? It will show up in our words and actions. What does Jesus expect us to do with these feelings?! Speak them to Him–not directed AT Him, but to Him. He KNOWS what’s there (Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD–how much more do human hearts. Proverbs 15:11), and He wants to help us replace those feelings with His Love, thus giving us His Peace so that we can enjoy His Joy.

The question is, HOW? Let’s look at Jesus’ Modus Operandi, His MO:

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

The Law shows us that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Living by the Law only breeds more sin. What?!! If we try to live godly lives by living by a set of rules, we learn to be judgemental, we become unforgiving (of others and even ourselves), and we are basically saying that Jesus died for nothing. Really?!! consider this verse:

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. (21) I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! Galatians 2:20-21

Jesus came to give us grace and truth. I place truth first because revealing the true nature of something allows us to deal with it in grace. Otherwise, we may fool ourselves by excusing aberrant behavior without actually dealing with it.

The flip side of this coin is to point out truth and expect judgement. If we “can’t let someone get away with it,” we assume the role of judge, which is God’s place. BAD MOVE! When we do this, we allow the situation to draw us into sin–the same place that the person is with whom we don’t want to let get away with it. Instead, we must move from TRUTH to GRACE. If necessary, start with MERCY.

Justice- getting what we deserve.

Mercy- NOT getting what we deserve.

Grace- Getting what we NEED rather than what we deserve.

Eventually, God wants us to move to seeing people and circumstances from His perspective (wisdom), which is to move people from sin and self to salvation and saving grace. We have salvation through His saving GRACE. Let’s learn to share it, especially with those who don’t “deserve” it. After all, we didn’t deserve it, either.

TRUTH + GRACE = LOVE

Proverbs 16 8-16-19

August 16, 2019

Tired of just surviving each day? Ready to be “hot?” Discover the secret of abiding in God’s presence.

(25) There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

Appearances can be deceiving. Working to please Christ cannot be our motivation. He is already pleased with us. Our journey is not about doing, but about becoming. We cannot “do” to “become.” It’s the difference between the Old Sinai Covenant (OC) and the New Jesus Covenant (NC). The OC was all about acting holy on the outside. The NC is all about being holy on the inside. Jesus said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:25-26. 

So, how do we become holy on the inside? Let’s look at King David and what he wrote in Psalm 16:

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”

David knew that anything good was attached to God. More than that, he knew that being attached to God was what made all things good. He wanted to be like God, so he attached himself to Him, so to speak.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

David knew what Peter learned while walking on the water: Keep your eyes on the LORD. It’s what the writer of Hebrews tells us to do in chapter 12: “fix your eyes on Jesus.” Being shaken has to do with our stability, our confidence, and our fellowship with the LORD in our daily life. Jesus keeps us firm in our faith even as the wind and waves go wild!

11 You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Where Jesus walks, we walk. He reveals the path of life to us one step at a time. As we walk with Him, the joy He radiates washes over us and we begin to radiate it, too.  His eternal pleasures come with abiding in His presence.

The word, “abide,” is not one we use often in our culture. It represents permanence, family, and proximity. I abide with Robin, meaning that my life revolves around us together; we live together, eat together, work and play together. That’s abiding.

Abiding in Christ means that we recognize and acknowledge His Presence in our lives. He lives IN us! We talk to Him in prayer; He talks to us through His Word (mainly). The secret to “hearing” Jesus is to know the sound of His voice and His vocabulary:

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

The Holy Spirit in us is Christ in us (John 14:23). Christ teaches us. How? By REMINDING us of all HE HAS ALREADY SAID. He wrote it all down for us! Now, He calls to mind what He has said when we need it. THE WORD IS HIS VOCABULARY. We don’t study the Bible to be smart as much as we study it to hear Him speak to us. As we do, His attributes flow from Him into us: Love, joy, peace, hope, grace, truth, and righteousness. We sense His goodness, faithfulness, patience, kindness, and even His self-control. We BECOME like Him.

I used to have a propane grill that used lava rocks to distribute the heat. If we consider Jesus as the flame and us as the lava rocks, we get a pretty good picture of how we remain “hot.” The closer we are to the flame, the hotter we are. His heat radiates to us and then from us to the other rocks.

Let’s stay close to the Flame today. Let’s read and listen, trust and obey. In this way, we “will shine like stars in the universe as we hold firmly to the word of life.” Phil. 2:15-16.

Abba, may I never get tired of gazing upon Your beauty–the scars upon Your body that resound through the heavens Your love for me. Nuff said. Amen.

Proverbs 15 8-15-19

August 15, 2019

Today may be the most important Proverbs to date. It deals with how we have victory in our lives over sin and self.

(32) Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.

As we begin today, let’s get a couple of things straight:

  1. We are always moving either up or down in our spiritual walk. If we stop moving, we drift. It’s like walking on a moving sidewalk or rowing upstream.
  2. The Spirit calls to us constantly to keep moving. He promises the desire and the power if we will assent to His control.

The Apostle Paul makes an outrageous statement:

I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. (3) For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. (4) The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (5) We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:2-5

What?!! How?!! Paul gives us the information we need in the previous chapters.

Let’s begin with our salvation: 1:21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, (22) set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Christ called us; we answered. But, the covenant (contract) set up by Christ is different than the old covenant in that He carries the responsibility of BOTH SIDES of the contract. He saved us and now He will make us like Himself: Holy, righteous, blameless, transformed into His image, and conformed into His likeness. THAT’S what the Spirit is doing in our lives.

But, if He is working in our lives, why don’t we feel Him all the time? Why do we struggle so with sin? THE FACT THAT WE STRUGGLE WITH SIN IS CONFIRMATION THAT HE IN US AND WORKING IN US. Sinners don’t struggle with sin. In fact, they enjoy it with no regrets. Christians don’t. And the regret we feel confirms the fact that we are not as we were; we are different on the inside. Why? BECAUSE WE HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT.

3:6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

We are not talking about following rules; we’re talking about following a Person: Jesus. The Spirit IS Jesus in us. The only thing we have to do is whatever He tells us. We are Spirit-driven. We shouldn’t make a move without direction from Him. We shouldn’t say a word without hearing His whisper of what to say. Our thoughts should lead us to Him–especially when they are not godly thoughts. He WANTS us to turn to Him as we learn to deal with those thoughts in a godly fashion.

Here is what we know: 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (7) But we have this treasure [the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ-verse 6] in jars of clay [our bodies] to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (8) We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; (9) persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (17) For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all

His Spirit in us gives us our Modus Operandi, our MO: 5:14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore all died. (16) And he died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again [Christ].

We are now back to our original question of how.

  1. We KNOW that we are His. His Spirit lives in us.
  2. We KNOW that we no longer live by following the letter of the law (rules), but by following the Spirit and His leading. Obedience first; questions later.
  3. We KNOW that He renews us daily. We are fresh each morning in our relationship with Him. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger in our faith in Him.
  4. We KNOW that the glory we are achieving is us being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory (3:18).

Based on what we KNOW, we have “divine power to demolish strongholds” of sinful habits, lustful thoughts, judgemental attitudes, and anything that “sets itself up against the knowledge of God (what we KNOW).” “We take captive every thought,” bringing it to Christ, “to make it obedient to Christ.” We know what He will do: He will transform those sinful habits into exercises of faith, that lust into compassion, those judgemental attitudes into opportunities of prayer, and our lives into vessels of His grace.

Abba, thank You for loving me so much! What You have done for me is beyond comprehension. It will take Eternity for me to grasp how much You love me and have done for me. The work You finished on the cross created a way for me to be in a closer-than-close relationship with You, and I love it! Being in Your presence is what I desire all the time! Fortunately, You live IN ME. I bask in Your love and joy and peace constantly–when I can see Your face and sense Your presence. Help me to remember when I DON’T feel Your presence and look at the wind and waves that You are always with me, holding me up and carrying me when necessary. I glory in Your ultimate goal for me, that I become JUST LIKE CHRIST. Have Your way in me, O Lord. Amen.

 

Proverbs 14 8-14-19

August 14, 2019

The problem with free will is that we have to make decisions about everything. Our need for His Spirit in us is quite evident!

(6) The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.

I used to think that a mocker was loud and obnoxious, rude, crude and socially unacceptable. I’m beginning to see that it’s anyone who deliberately chooses his own way over the right way, specifically, God’s way. Arrogance is the main motivator in the mocker. He (or she) not only does not care what God thinks, but actually thinks that He is wrong and his/her way is right or better. Fear has a place in the mocker’s heart, as well. The fear of missing something, being left out, being wronged, or being left behind can lead a person to doubt, which leads to acts of unbelief (hedging our bets).

God calls us to trust in Him. Adam and Eve learned to trust Him after they left the garden. Noah trusted Him and saved his family. Abraham trusted Him and now has descendents more numerous than the sand on the shore or the stars in the sky. Moses and the Israelites learned to trust Him for their daily bread (manna). Jesus trusted Him implicitly–all the way to the cross for our sake.

What does it take to trust God? The first thing is to know where to look for answers: The Words of God, i.e. the Bible.

A humble and contrite heart: My sacrifice is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:17 Understanding that we are broken is huge. It’s worse than that–we are dead! Without the life of the Spirit in us, we have no spiritual life at all. We are much like the blow-up man in front of the Firestone store. As long as the air blower is on, he waves around like crazy. Turn the air off, and he is nothing but pieces of material on the ground.  We are like an old pump organ. If the Spirit is not pumping air into us, we can make no music at all.

A willing heart: 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 drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37-38 Jesus’ invitation to us requires a willing heart. We must be willing to allow Him to fill us with Himself and to flow through us to others. To think that Christ’s grace is ours for us to keep is arrogant and selfish. The only way for us to stay fresh and clean is for His living water to flow THROUGH us. Otherwise, we stagnate. We are to look (with His eyes) for opportunities to share His living water with others. Most of these opportunities are dirty, distasteful, and even dangerous. Don’t worry! Trust Him! We just need to be obedient to the Spirit.

An eager heart: Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Psalm 100:1-2 Worship is important. It calls for us to openly acknowledge God and His sovereignty, His character, His deeds, and His great love for us. He draws us into worship; we sing and pray the words; they minister to our hearts and draw us into fellowship with Him and with each other. A person who does not sing may be praying. As long as he is engaged with the Spirit, he is worshiping. But, if he is simply biding his time, then he is unengaged with the Spirit and has missed the entire point of worship and praise.

Today, I pray that you begin with an humble and contrite heart; that you will move to a willing heart, one that allows the Spirit to recreate Jesus in you; that you will have an eager heart, one that praises Him for who He is and what He has done for us, and that you will spill over into someone else as you go through your day.

Abba, I want to this prayer to be true for me today, too. I look forward to spending the day with You. Amen.

Proverbs 13 8-13-19

August 13, 2019

The devil is the father of lies. His world is all about deception. Focusing on God reveals those deceptions.

(5) The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.

What happens when we don’t bathe for a few days? We begin to stink. What happens when we don’t eat for a few days? We get weak and cranky. What happens when we don’t “bathe in His Word” and “eat at His table” everyday? We get weak and cranky and begin to stink.

Not only that, but our eyes begin to become clouded and truth becomes unclear. Our minds become fogged and we lose discernment. Hence, we eventually fall to one of the devil’s deceptions and believe his lies.

King David understood the importance of reading God’s Word and spending time in worship everyday. Let’s take a look at a portion from Psalm 119.

125 I am your servant; give me discernment
    that I may understand your statutes.

David states the conditions of the relationship: he is God’s servant–not the other way around! “He is God and I am not.”

127 Because I love your commands
    more than gold, more than pure gold,
128 and because I consider all your precepts right,
    I hate every wrong path.

David realized that God’s commands are valuable and useful. God designed them for our use and our safety. David was living under the Old Covenant, but God’ commands are as useful now as they were then–even better, because we don’t have to follow all of the Sinai Covenant rules of sacrifice and ritual AND we have the Spirit in us! Jesus completed those rules through His atoning sacrifice for us by way of His sinless life and His death on the cross. When the veil was torn, the Spirit moved out of the temple and into us, thus making us mobile temples!

129 Your statutes are wonderful;
    therefore I obey them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
    it gives understanding to the simple.

When we read, He speaks to us. We respond by receiving His words as truth, which is worship. This interaction between us and Him allows us to enjoy His attributes that emanate from Him: His love, His joy, and His peace. His statutes are, indeed, wonderful, and therefore we obey them, too. As He speaks to us through them, He unfolds truth to us, He sheds light on areas of our lives that need attention, and He gives us understanding on what to do, how to do it, the timing, and the power and discernment to do it with Him His way.

132 Turn to me and have mercy on me,
    as you always do to those who love your name.

I love David’s confidence that he learned through experience. May we learn it, too.

133 Direct my footsteps according to your word;
    let no sin rule over me.

We could pray this prayer everyday and not wear it out! In fact, let’s pray it everyday!

135 Make your face shine on your servant
    and teach me your decrees.

God is ready and waiting to pour out His blessings on those who will call upon Him in prayer and Bible study, to make His face shine on us. If we will give Him our allegiance daily, He will transform us daily into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. I not only believe this, I’M COUNTING ON IT!

Abba, as I read Your word and ponder them, may You speak to my heart. Help me to apply what I learn to my life as You show me how and give me the desire and the power to succeed. My goal is to be like Christ; my allegiance is to Him. May You grant me my heart’s desire. Amen.

I Pledge Allegiance To the Lamb-Ray Boltz

Proverbs 12 8-12-19

August 12, 2019

Jesus is the answer for us today. Not only us, but the whole world. Are we ready to share Him?

(5) The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.

Righteous acts are simple because they are Spirit-driven. We asked, we listened, then we obeyed. If righteousness were based upon acts of righteousness, though, we would be doomed, because in and of ourselves, we have NO righteousness out of which to act. We would have to hope that God would send someone to save us from ourselves–WAIT! That’s exactly what God did!!! Our righteousness is not based upon what we do, but upon Who we believe. We have received His righteousness through His sacrifice on the cross; we have received power over sin and death through His resurrection (2 Cor. 5:21).

Then, why do we still struggle so? Because we still live in our sin-full bodies. Jesus came to live in us so that we would have the power to manage our bodies until we can get our new ones. Ours is NOT a matter of learning how or becoming strong enough; it’s a matter of learning to lean on Him and call on His strength. It’s all about the relationship through connecting with Him. Sin no longer separates us positionally. We are His children regardless of what we do. Sin DOES separate us relationally because we turn away from Him. What does repent mean, but to turn around? He is always faithful and just to forgive and move on. He is perfectly, completely and continuously patient, gentle, and kind.

That doesn’t mean that we get to skip the consequences. He simply helps us through them. It’s a walk on a journey. The difficulty of the path is sometimes determined by our choices and sometimes by others’ choices, including the LORD’s. If we want to serve Him the best that we can, then we must allow Him to place us in difficult, risky, and dark circumstances in order for our light to shine. Life’s a struggle (John 16:33). Then we DIE! We have a future glory waiting for us (Romans 8:23)! So, be encouraged. Let’s look at these two verses together:

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

23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children,[a]including the new bodies he has promised us.

What can we conclude from these two verses?

  1. Jesus wants us to experience His peace. All the time. In every circumstance. In Him.
  2. We will experience trouble in this world. Pain, disease, betrayal, etc.
  3. We rejoice in His victory over this world and its plight.
  4. The Spirit within us gives us a taste of future glory. That glory tastes like His love, His joy, and His peace that flows through us. Throw in hope and grace, truth and righteousness, and we have the ANSWER that the world needs. It’s Jesus!
  5. We eagerly await our new heavenly bodies that will not struggle with sin, but will be able to enjoy our LORD fully and completely in His presence.

In the meantime, let’s try not to get too comfortable with our surroundings, but be ready for the LORD to use us for His glory. Let’s be about His work today keeping Him as our main focus.

Jesus Is the Answer

Proverbs 11 8-11-19

August 11, 2019

Cause and Effect, the stuff of science. God created it. It makes sense that He would abide by it. Thank You for the Cross!

(21) Be sure of this: The wicked [those who chose to follow a different master than the LORD] will not go unpunished [be exempt from punishment], but those who are righteous will go free [enjoy freedom].

The Hebrew term for “unpunished” has several meanings:

  1. (Qal) to be empty, be clean, be pure

  2. (Niphal)

    1. to be cleaned out, be purged out

    2. to be clean, be free from guilt, be innocent

    3. to be free, be exempt from punishment

    4. to be free, be exempt from obligation

  3. (Piel)

    1. to hold innocent, acquit

    2. to leave unpunished

The main gist is that a person who choses a master other than the LORD cannot be made pure as long as he follows the other master. THERE IS ONLY ONE OTHER MASTER: SATAN, and the love of money is his favorite bait. See 1 Timothy 6:10, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and [the god of] money [mammon, riches (where it is personified and opposed to God), avarice, greed]. Matthew 6:24

When we step away from God’s will, from His commands, from His very voice, THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES. It’s the design of nature: Cause and Effect.

Rather than go against His own natural design, God built in a way to receive the consequences of our sin on Himself. He came to earth HIMSELF as Jesus and died in our place. Why didn’t He just forgive us? Because we belonged to another master, Satan, whose strong-arm was (and still is) DEATH. Unless a person willingly chooses Jesus as his new Master, he remains enslaved and must suffer the consequences of his own sin. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s what Jesus did for us:

Hebrews 2:14-15 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

Those who hold this passage dear to their hearts have reason to celebrate, which is why we go to church and praise His name. We worship Him as we respond to His love and mercy and grace. Let’s go this morning with grateful hearts!

Abba, thank You for all You have done for us. In Your foreknowledge, You SAVED us! Thank You, Jesus, for dying for us before the foundation of the world was ever laid (Rev. 12:8). Thank You for planting the tree(s) from which was made your cross, and for creating iron from which Your nails were made. You had us in mind all along. I AM GRATEFUL. My heart is full of love, Abba, and confidence as I stand before You today. Thank You for bearing my consequences and, instead of death, giving me eternal life in Your presence as Your child and fellow heir with Jesus. I will sing for all I am worth–because of Your blood–today! Amen.

Proverbs 10 8-10-19

August 10, 2019

Where we walk, how we walk, and with whom we walk makes all the difference in our journey and our destination. Walk with Jesus!

Day 21 of 21 Days of Deep

(9) Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. 

I read a lot, including westerns. One of the stories took place in the Louisiana swamps. In it, the hero had grown up there, so he knew his way around. He would always stay on the trail because to step off of it ran the risk of bogs, quicksand and alligators. Some trails were seasonal, and some areas were conditional to the tide, which was hourly.

As we walk with Jesus, we must remember that it is DANGEROUS to get off the trail–even a little bit. The tendency is to wander just a smidge, then a little more, then a little more often, then a little more–until we find ourselves trapped, embarrassed, ashamed, sometimes bloody, and in need of help. Jesus’ words to us as He rescues us are, “O, My little faithless one, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31. He doesn’t get angry, He doesn’t shame us, but He DOES allow us to live with the consequences of our actions.

The passage for today is James 1:19-21. It is one of my favorites, but not for the reason you might think. I have a quick fuse that leads to an explosion. This passage is my Go-To along with some fervent prayer. Daily. Sometimes, several times a day.

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Verse 19-the lesson: “beloved siblings;” James is talking to his church, his family, and himself. “Take note” means to place high value on what he is about to say. “Everyone” means, well, everyone! We should listen twice as hard as we speak, and drag our feet when it comes to getting angry. Let it be the last resort rather than the first.

verse 20-the reason: It is simply not our place to judge, and that’s what we do when we get angry with someone. NEVER do we have all the information: we don’t know the events leading up nor what is going through a person’s mind. Only God knows the full extent of the situation. Let’s leave the judging up to Him.

verse 21-the process: Moral filth can be what we watch, what we read, what we deem important, or anything that is contrary to the Law of Love that Jesus gave us (John 13:34). It can be a way of thinking, as well. Evil (going our own way) is so prevalent in our world and in us. We need HELP! The LORD gave us His Spirit and His Word. We need to plant His words deeply in our lives.

Consider this: If we speak a natural language and are given the opportunity to be an exchange student in a foreign country with a foreign language, the first thing we would buy is some kind of translation book (it may be electronic). In that book would be a vocabulary of words and phrases, some history and culture, and maybe some tips to help us integrate. The next thing we would need is a guide, someone to help us learn the language and interpret the culture as well as converse with the people. This illustration describes the Bible and the Holy Spirit!

Today, let’s walk close to Him, listening to Him, and allowing Him to help us interpret our circumstances and to guide our moods, responses, and even our words. Being quick to listen to Him, slow to speak rash words, and slow–to the point of stopping–to get angry is a great plan every day.

Dear Lord, I thank You for the mighty work you are doing in me concerning explosive anger. From the day You called me to learn gentleness (20+ years ago), You have worked hard with me to internalize this passage. I am COMPLETELY dependent on You for success. I pray that others will see the benefit of this passage and call on You to bring it to bear in their lives, as well, learning to be completely dependent on You as I do–and am still learning. You have deemed us worthy; may we live lives worthy of the calling we have received. Amen.

Proverbs 9 8-9-19

August 9, 2019

We all follow someone. Who are you following? If you are not following anyone, then you are being led…where?

(9) Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

(16) To those who have no sense, she [Folly] says, (17) “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious [in it for the thrill]!” (18) But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.

Day 20 of 21 Days of Deep

“Hansel and Gretel” is a dark story, but a great illustration of Satan and his “plan” for us. For a synopsis of the story, see Hansel and Gretel – Plot at Wikipedia.

He “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour [kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10)].” 1 Peter 5:8. We must be alert and sober-minded. What does sober-minded mean? It means “rational, sensible.” Add sober-minded to alert and we get: PAY ATTENTION!

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. Hebrews 2:1

This week at WACK (Worship Arts Camp for Kids–it’s the old Young Musicians Camp), Mark Jones gave a great illustration from his own life concerning who we follow. He said that several years ago, he and his young daughter were walking back to the car after watching a fireworks display one Fourth of July. As they were walking, he began to talk to some friends on his left. Somewhere along the way, the daughter began to follow the wrong set of parents. After several tense and gut-wrenching minutes with lots of people searching, the couple brought his daughter to him. She said that she thought she was following him, but somehow followed the wrong person. WOW! How thankful Mark and his wife were that the couple brought her to him! It could have ended so badly…we parents were right there with him [I’m tearing up again just writing about it].

This illustration is perfect for showing us what happens when we look away from Jesus. The writer of Hebrews understood both our tendency to wander and Satan’s purpose and plan for us. He tells us in 12:2 to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” Peter knew the danger of looking away from Jesus:

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind [and waves], he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith [My little faithless one],” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:28-21

Now, the fun part! I asked you yesterday to read some passages beginning with Romans 12:10-21. Let’s look at that passage:

10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor,serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[b] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[c]

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Let’s begin with the last verse first. How do we overcome evil with good? It’s a matter of intent. What do you WANT to do? Part of me wants to be lazy, to complain, to fight, and/or to hide–this would be my flesh, my “old man.” The other part of me wants to please my heavenly Father, to obey Jesus, and walk in the Spirit–this would be my new self, the one that was made alive when Jesus came into my heart and life. I now WANT to overcome evil with good. Paul gives a pretty good list of how to overcome evil.

10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. In Philippians 2:3, Paul said to “consider others better (before) yourself.” How do we honor one another? By realizing that they are beloved children of God, too; also, know that Daddy will discipline us if we mistreat them. His Spirit within us loves them; let’s let that love pour out through us to them. In this way we are most like Christ. When doing so, 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor,serving the Lord. 

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. I love this little list. Joy comes from our connection with God. Patience comes from the hope we have in our future. Faithfulness in prayer keeps our connection pure and strong.

13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. God gives to us and expects us to share with others, especially our siblings in Christ. Let’s take care of each other. Don’t look too far ahead because it’s difficult for us to picture the future with God presiding. HE makes His will to succeed; HE will take care of our future, so go ahead and give. These verses go along with this theme. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Share everything, even pain and suffering. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited. Living in a society built on a caste system, this idea was mind-blowing. Our conceit is much more subtle…

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone [concerning righteousness]. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[b] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[c]

 

Here Paul quotes Proverbs 3:11-12. For this phrase, “heap burning coals on his head,” I found this explanation:  “the expression may reflect an Egyptian expiation ritual, in which a guilty person, as a sign of repentance, carried a basin of glowing coals on his head.” [from NIV Study Bible]. It basically means to make them be ashamed and want to change, and maybe to want what we have in our relationship with Jesus.

Our lights shine brightest when times and circumstances are dark. Don’t be afraid of wind and waves. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, our hope in His future for us, our faith in His plan to get us there, and enjoy the love, peace, joy, hope and grace that pour from His throne through us to others. We are never more like Christ than when He is flowing through us. 

Abba, I want You to flow through me. Help me to keep my eyes fixed solely and firmly on You today. May I pay attention to the tension of the Holy Spirit when making decisions; may I see with your eyes the needs that are around me; may I increase in knowledge so that You will have more in me with which to work. May I be an extension of You to the people around me. I look forward to the day because of You. Amen.

SOAP

Proverbs 8 8-8-19

August 8, 2019

If you want to hear God speak out loud, pick up His Word and read it out loud! He will be speaking to you. God’s Word is living and active!

1 Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? (4) “To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. (5) You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it. (6) “Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say;”

Day 19 of 21 Days of Deep

Jesus made a monumental statement in His recorded prayer in John 17. He said, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17.

  • Jesus said it. It’s important.
  • Sanctify- to purify; to free from sin; to set apart; to consecrate; to make a priority.
  • Truth- anything God or Jesus said in the Word is true. Take it to the bank.
  • Chapter 17, verse 17; easy to remember.

According to this verse, we can be set free from sin through listening to and applying God’s words. God uses His written words to speak to our hearts and then acts on them. Since He is outside of time, He can actually speak to us at the same time He is having them written down so many years ago!

Why is it so important to read the Word everyday? Let’s look at some statistics:

While those surveyed hold to a high view of Scripture, not all are acting like it. Only “a third of Americans who attend a Protestant church regularly (32 percent) say they read the Bible personally every day. Around a quarter (27 percent) say they read it a few times a week. Fewer say they only read it once a week (12 percent), a few times a month (11 percent) or once a month (5 percent). Close to 1 in 8 (12 percent) admit they rarely or never read the Bible.”

But wait, there’s more! Keep reading:

What does this mean for the church? If you look at research from the Center for Bible Engagement, the implications are enormous. In fact, according to the Center, time spent in the Word of God is the single best indicator of bad and good behavior among Christians…

The writer of Hebrews was very plain in his letter concerning the Word of God and its impact on our lives. Here’s what he said,

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword [a scalpel], it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Lest someone get the wrong idea about giving an account to God, we do this every time we make a decision. The Spirit convicts us when we are wrong and commends us when we are right. So, it’s not as scary as it seems. He’s Daddy! He wants us to be like Him, so He gently corrects us. How? According to His Spirit and according to His Word, which is why knowing His words is vital to us. It’s His vocabulary.

In his article, Brian Hobbs reports this revealing fact:

What the Center found, through extensive research, was that “Christians who read or listen to the Bible at least four days a week” were more likely to engage in good behaviors like evangelism and church attendance and were less likely to participate in negative behaviors, like gambling and consumption of pornography.

What’s even more interesting about “the power of 4” is that there was “no statistical difference between Christians who read or listen to the Bible two to three days a week and those who do not engage (with) Scripture at all or only once a week.” In other words, until you take in God’s Word four times per week, you won’t start to see results.

Daily Bread-Brian Hobbs

So, here’s an assignment: Read these passages over the next few days and let’s study them together. It may extend our 21 Days of Deep, but we’ll just change the number!

  • Romans 12:10-21
  • James 1:19-21
  • 2 Cor. 10:2-5
  • Eph. 1-3, 4:22-24, 29-32

Remember these three things:

  1. We don’t read to finish. We read to hear Him speak to us.
  2. We don’t read for God to bless us. We read in order to be changed.
  3. Contempt is the devil’s own attitude. To ignore God’s Word is to treat it with contempt. Let’s have Christ’s attitude (see John 17:17).

SOAP

Scripture-Read again John 17:17. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe– Did you notice anything in particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply– How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray– Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ in you. Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

For an in-depth look at this passage, see the following lesson below.

Proverbs 7 8-7-19

August 7, 2019

The more we know about Christ, the more we trust Him. This is why we study our Bibles and ponder His life, death and resurrection.

Day 19 of 21 Days of Deep

7 My child, keep my words and store up my commands within you. (2) Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. (3) Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

As we go deep today, we look at the second half of Psalm 22. It is the spiritual side of what is happening while Jesus is on the cross. IT IS AMAZING!

NOTE: Be sure to look at the last verse and its commentary (in my commentary).

22 I will declare your name to my people;
    in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
    Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
    before those who fear you[a] I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek the Lord will praise him—
    may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

SOAP

Scripture-Read it. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe– Did you notice anything in particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply– How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray– Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ in you. Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

For an in-depth look at this passage, see the following lesson below.

Proverbs 6 8-6-19

August 6, 2019

The lure of sin can be resisted if we have the right focus. The cross is that focus. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus!

25 Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes [or, let your eyes be captivated by her beauty].

Day 18 of 21 Days of Deep

Temptation is hard to beat. In fact, there is no human who has ever done it except Jesus. At the same time, the LORD wants us to learn how to beat it. It’s not a matter of becoming strong enough; it’s a matter of learning to look to Him in our moment of temptation for His strength and His perspective. When we realize what our sin did to Jesus (the Cross), we think twice about committing it. Let’s look at the crucifixion through David’s eyes.

My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.[a]

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.[b]
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
    “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
    since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
    you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.
15 My mouth[c] is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce[d] my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
    You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
    save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

 

SOAP

Scripture-Read it. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe– Did you notice anything in particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply– How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray– Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ in you. Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

For an in-depth look at this passage, see the following lesson below.

Proverbs 8-5-19

August 5, 2019

We begin this life as slaves. Jesus came to free us. Those who trust in Him know the truth, and His truth sets us free!

22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast.

Day 17 of 21 Days of Deep

As we continue to dive deep into His Word, let’s look at Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Turn to Psalm 22 and read THE ENTIRE PSALM in your physical Bible first.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?

Why would Jesus quote this verse while on the cross? I highly encourage you to read the discourse following this blog.

SOAP

Scripture-Read it. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe– Did you notice anything in particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply– How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray– Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ in you. Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

For an in-depth look at this passage, see the following lesson below.

Proverbs 4 8-4-19

August 4, 2019

Fanatic- a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal. What are you fanatical about in your life?

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. 19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.

Day 16 of 21 Days of Deep

The word, “uncritical,” means “without question.” How dangerous is that! When considering whether to follow Christ, it comes down to two things:

  1. Is He calling us? We cannot come to Him unless the Spirit calls us into a relationship with Him (John 6:44). It’s not up to us; it’s up to Him.
  2. Is He worth following? Simon Peter answered correctly, and for us, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68.

In one way, we are not fanatics because we asked the right questions up front. Is He worth following? Is He calling us? The answer is a resounding YES. We place our faith and trust in Him. Once we are in, though, we become fanatics in that we don’t question what Jesus asks of us. We TRUST Him. We have His promises and we bank everything on His Word.

Here are some of those promises:

18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to [in willful] sin; the One who was born of God [Jesus in us] keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. 19 We know that we are children of God [and our citizenship is in heaven], and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one [Satan]. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come [to us] and has given us understanding, so that we may know him [experientially and intimately] who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ [and He in us]. He is the true God and eternal life.

21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. [For a breakdown of this verse, definitely go to the study just below today’s Proverbs lesson!]

SOAP

Scripture-Read it. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe– Did you notice anything in particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply– How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray– Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ in you. Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

For an in-depth look at this passage, see the following lesson below.

1 John 5:18-21

August 4, 2019

It all boils down to idolatry. Is there anything to which we turn before we turn to Jesus? Is there anything that we love more than being in right-standing with Him? Idols trigger an emotion in us; maybe we ought to investigate why. We may (will) not like what we find.

John has the solution and gives it before his last statement. Let’s read:

18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to [in willful] sin; the One who was born of God [Jesus in us] keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. 19 We know that we are children of God [and our citizenship is in heaven], and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one [Satan]. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come [to us] and has given us understanding, so that we may know him [experientially and intimately] who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ [and He in us]. He is the true God and eternal life.

21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

The secret to getting rid of idols in our lives is simple, but not easy. It requires getting the right mindset every morning and renewing it throughout the day.

  1. We get up in time to spend some time washing our brains with the Word. We orient our attitude of who we will please today to be HIM. It’s micro-repentance. It’s easier, safer, and much more pleasant to make minor course adjustments often than having to major course adjustments occasionally.
  2. We adjust our schedule to include eating right and drinking enough water. Our brains work better when given the right fuel. Don’t give the devil a foothold.
  3. Rehearse ahead of time how we will react/respond to certain situations according to Ephesians 4:2-3, “Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love. (3) Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
  4. Look for ways to share your story today. Even a part of it is useful by the Spirit in a person’s life. Share one aspect of what we have been learning in His Word or how the Spirit prompted in a certain circumstance. Let’s give the Spirit handles to work in other people’s lives.

Knowing that our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20) and that Satan has control of this world–for a little while longer, let’s live our lives in constant awareness of our present state. Don’t trust ANYTHING from Hollywood or New York or D.C. Instead, test everything according to the Spirit and the Word of God. Let’s be fanatics for Jesus!

Lord Jesus, I want YOU to be my main concern today. I want YOU to direct my paths. May I make you my ONLY hope and trust today; may I lean not on my own understanding and, instead, learn all I can about Your Word and from Your Word. Lead me, O Holy Spirit, that I may become a drink offering ready to be poured out for You: May I fight the good fight, keep the faith, and finish the race (based on 2 Tim. 4:6). Oh, how I long for Your appearing! In the meantime, keep transforming me into You so that others may see You when they see me. Amen.

Proverbs 3 8-3-19

August 3, 2019

Discernment is not something we have on our own. It is the Spirit of God revealing to us what He sees and where He is working.

28 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.

Day 15 of 21 Days of Deep

I usually see this verse as a business verse, but this time we will look at it concerning people in general.  What is it that everyone is due? What one thing is offered to everyone? The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who know the Gospel and have the Spirit as President in their hearts surely have the power to act. Consider this:

A friend finds himself in a tight spot because of choices he has made. We could say, “I see you’re in a tight spot. I’m sorry that circumstances are so bad. It’s hard to make wise choices when we can’t see the future or the outcome. Did you know that we were never intended to make choices on our own? God wants to help us walk through life and make good choices. I’d love to tell you about Him. In the meantime, let me help you with this situation.”

At this point, we present the Gospel to him and help him with his problem, be it monetary, physical, or emotional. John had something to say about helping our brother:

16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

NOTE: For more about the sin that leads to death, see the following commentary.

SOAP

Scripture-Read it. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe– Did you notice anything in particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply– How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray– Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ in you. Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

For an in-depth look at this passage, see the following lesson below.

1 John 5:16-17

August 3, 2019

Up to this point, John has been talking about our spiritual state, the position of our souls. Now, he moves to the relationship we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ, His Family.

Remember in Ephesians where Paul deals with the family of God, “To Him be glory in the church [His Family] and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:21. He now turns our attention to helping our brothers and sisters.

16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

Our first order of business is to talk to God about them. We ask for His perspective on them. Knowing that He loves them and wants the best for them, we view them through that love. In what form will that LIFE come to them? Through us? We must be willing to be part of that life. God may or may not ask us to join Him in sharing life with them, but are we willing to be His hands and feet–and pocketbook– if He asks?

What is this sin that leads to death? It is often referred to as the unpardonable sin. There is at least one denomination that thinks suicide is it because the person has no time to ask forgiveness for the sin of suicide. What’s wrong with this thinking?

  1. We are not judged by individual sins. We are either under the blood categorically and positionally, or not under the blood.
  2. Yes, it is a sin, but it’s a sin like all others, and is forgiven at the cross.
  3. Granted, suicide is unfixable on this side of eternity, but those who have been to the cross for forgiveness are instantly glorified when we step from this world to His world, regardless of the circumstances.

So, what IS the unpardonable sin, the one that leads to death? Let’s read it:

“And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” Matthew 12:31

“And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” Luke 12:10

What is blasphemy? It is, “the crime of assuming to oneself the rights or qualities of God.” It’s basically when a person resists the urging of the Spirit for salvation by deciding that he doesn’t need or want Jesus. Since the Spirit is the One who saves us and seals us, to resist Him is to resist Salvation itself. The one who resists the Spirit chooses to stay in their sinful condition. THIS is the unpardonable sin.

In John’s case, there were people who were going around to the churches spreading false Gospels:

  1. Jesus didn’t really come in human form; He just appeared as a human. This lie refutes the humanity of Jesus which was needed in order for Him to be our propitiation, our sin sacrifice, which satisfied the price of sin and put us back into a right relationship with the Father.
  2. We must keep the Levitical Law. This lie refutes the NEW COVENANT that Jesus established. We go back to the original covenant with Abraham where God took the mantle of fulfilling both sides of the covenant (see Genesis 15, particularly verse 17). We are saved by grace; the work was finished on the cross by Christ.
  3. You can fall from grace and be lost again. This lie refutes the permanence of the sacrifice of Jesus. All we need to do to expose this one is to look at the verses where it says that Jesus died ONCE FOR ALL. John makes it clear in 2:19 that anyone who walks away from the faith was never a full believer in the Gospel to begin with.

With this last one, we are back to the sin that leads to death, or, unpardonable sin. Can a person be led astray to the point of losing their salvation? Scripturally, I don’t think so. The real proof is in whether or not the LORD disciplines them “because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Proverbs 3:12 and quoted in Hebrews 12:6. We pray for them that it is so, and that they would respond to His urging to come back into fellowship with Himself.

True born-again believers, who have trusted in the LORD for the forgiveness of their sins and received the Holy Spirit into their hearts and lives, do not continue in a life of willful sin. Instead, we work to break the habits of sinful behavior and to renew our minds through a consistent conversation with the Spirit. Through this steady walk with Jesus, we prove that we are His. Let’s walk with Him today and trust Him to lead us “higher up and further in.”

Abba, Your Spirit within me testifies with my spirit that I am Your child (Romans 8:16). Thank You that I don’t have to fight with doubt any longer! May I work tenaciously to emulate You and may I lift up my brothers and sisters in You in prayer that they might be strong in their faith. According to Ephesians 3, may You strengthen them with power in their inner being so that You may be President in their hearts; may they be rooted and established in Your love and dive deep into Your love for them. Fill them up to overflowing, Lord Jesus. Me, too! Amen.

Proverbs 2 8-2-19

August 2, 2019

Learning to accept what God says can be difficult, which is why we come to the well of grace and truth each day.

Day 14 of 21 Days of Deep

1 My child, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,

How? By consistently replacing the lies of Satan with the truth of Jesus. His word is truth (John 17:17). Let’s look at some truths on PRAYER.

14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

NOTE: To know what to pray, read Ephesians 3:14-21.

SOAP

Scripture-Read it. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe– Did you notice anything particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply– How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray– Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ in you. Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

For an in-depth look at this passage, see the following lesson below.

1 John 5:14-15

August 2, 2019

Knowing what to pray is the secret to successful praying. Adrian Rogers did an excellent job of teaching on this subject several years ago in a sermon called, “How to Pray For Friends and Influence People.” If you would like to listen to it, here is the link:

Adrian Rogers: How to Pray for Friends and Influence People

In it, he revealed how to pray successfully. John knew how. Read what he said:

14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

In order to know what His will is, we need to read Ephesians 3:14-21.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a]in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

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

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, What reason? It’s back in verse 8, “to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches Christ.” These riches are wrapped up in our relationship with Christ, who has made them our inheritance. Not only for later, but He dips into them as we need them, “And my God will supply all your needs according to [out of the abundance of] the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. “What riches?” you might ask.

15 from whom every family[a]in heaven and on earth derives its name. We derive our identity from His identity, from His name. Our last name is different; it’s now “GodSon,” heirs with Christ Jesus Himself (Romans 8:17). We should take great comfort in that name.

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell [abide, rule] in your hearts through faith. Our inner being is who we are on the inside. It’s who makes the decisions for our lives. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, we are strengthened with His power to live as He would live were He us. In other words, we become “little Christs,” which is exactly what the term, “Christian,” means. An attainable goal? I should say so, since HE is the ONE who is doing it!

Christ dwelling in our hearts makes the difference. The term, “dwell,” means constant and consistent habitation. Christ lives in our hearts and never leaves the premises! He also rules our hearts. “He’s not just resident, He’s President!” Thankfully, long-suffering is one of His attributes.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. We are loved by God–did you get that? He wants us to learn through knowledge and through experience the vastness of His love for us. Just look at what He did for us: He left heaven and came to earth, was born a human, lived 33 years, died on a cross, went to a tomb, rose from the dead, and ascended back to His throne JUST SO WE WOULD KNOW HOW MUCH HE LOVES US.

—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Here’s the prayer part. We can confidently pray these things:

  1. That we may be strengthened by His power as the Holy Spirit works in us;
  2. That Christ would rule in our hearts as LORD;
  3. That His Spirit would empower us to begin to grasp His never-ending love for us;
  4. And that we would be filled to the brim with all the fullness of God. May He spill over onto others because we are so full of Him!

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, When we call on Him, we get ALL of Him. When we ask these things, we are SURE He will grant them. Why? For His glory!

21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. “In the church” is us. We bring Him glory when we pray these things for ourselves and for others, when we expect Him to do above and beyond what we could ever ask or imagine, and when we allow Him to work through us.

Now we know what John means when he says, And if we know that he hears us, we know that we have what we asked of him.” I’m excited to start praying these things for you! Please pray them for me, as well.

Abba, according to Your Word, I can have confidence that You will answer my prayers as I come boldly before Your throne of grace. May you strengthen my brothers and sisters in Christ–and me–to grasp Your love for them as well as your church; may we treat each member as Your beloved child, and may we be Christ to them as You fill us to overflowing. Don’t give me what I ask–give me far and above what I can even imagine! I love You, Abba. May I be filled with You today so that people can know You through me.

Proverbs 1 8-1-19

August 1, 2019

Sometimes we forget the gravity of our situation. We live in a dark world. We NEED His LIGHT!

28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, (29) since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD.”

Day 14 of 21 Days of Deep

OUCH! God calls out to the sinner and to the saint, “Call to me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 (referred to as God’s telephone number). To one, it is unto salvation; to the other, it is for daily communion.

To the sinner, it is to save him from himself and his sinful ways. Sin kills, steals, and destroys (John 10:10a). It is to save him from being simple (unknowing and prone to evil) and a fool (knowing that what he is doing is wrong, but doing it anyway because HE wants to). Look at the promise: “I will pour out my heart to you and make my thoughts known to you (v21).” But, the invitation comes at HIS TIME by HIS SPIRIT.

To the saint, it is to dine with Him, which was a very intimate meal filled with love and laughter, sharing of thoughts, and of individual teaching. It’s a mentorship and is designed to be everyday, even every moment!

But, He extends His invitation only for a season. When that season is closed, we reap the fruit or consequences of our actions. It’s God’s natural way of things. He set this world up to run a certain way; He wants to guide us through it. THAT’S HOW THINGS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE!

How do we know that we are His? John has answered that question in his letter. Whoever has the Son [living inside him/her, speaking to him/her on a constant basis, being the Leader, LORD] has life; whoever does not have the Son of God [has never bent the knee] does not have life.” 1 John 5:12. John said so himself:

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

SOAP

Scripture-Read it. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe– Did you notice anything particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply– How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray– Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ in you. Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

For an in-depth look at this passage, see the following lesson below.

1 John 5:13

August 1, 2019

When comparing John’s Gospel to this letter, we find several similarities, particularly the one where he tells us the reason for writing the letter. It comes at the end of the greatest part of the Gospel where Jesus, after rising from the dead, appeared to His disciples. John says,

“But these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:31

In John’s letter, he writes:

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

The question we ask in order to know is this, “Do you walk with Jesus daily?” Another way to ask it is, “Do you commune with the Holy Spirit constantly?” If the answer is yes, then we KNOW that we are saved and are enjoying the fruit of that relationship, which is His love, His joy, His peace, along with patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

If the answer is no, then we must first look at our salvation experience and make sure that we belong to Him:

  1. Did He come to you and ask you to let Him be LORD of your life? Or, did you think it was a good idea, do it because others were doing it, or do it because it was the expected thing to do?
  2. Did you understand that it was a lifetime commitment? Or, were you simply afraid of going to hell (that’s called, “fire insurance”)?
  3. Do you check with Him before every decision? Or, do you still run your life?
  4. Do you grow daily by reading His Word and communing with Him? Or, is your time your own to do with as you please?

John wrote that we may KNOW that we have eternal life. Do you have the Son? If He is your LORD, then you have life. If He is NOT your LORD, then get Him today! He is asking right now for you to let Him into your life and allow Him to be your LORD. But, we must be ready to give Him everything, everyday, from now on. Oh, how He wants to commune with us!

“Call to me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 (referred to as God’s telephone number)

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and sup with him and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20

 

Proverbs 31 7-31-19

July 31, 2019

Proverbs 31 is about the wife of noble character. I have lived with her for 37 years today. Thank you, Robin!

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gates.

Day 13 of 21 Days of Deep

We continue in 1 John 5 as he describes the testimony of Jesus and why we should believe it–which we have!

Read it in your physical Bible first; then read it electronically.

This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify:the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

SOAP

Scripture-Read it. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe– Did you notice anything particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply– How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray– Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ in you. Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

For an in-depth look at this passage, see the following lesson below.

1 John 5:6-12

July 31, 2019

God’s Great Rescue Plan was inconceivable. Only He knew what He was up to! Now, after the fact, His testimony stands firm. Let’s start with that testimony:

11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

The strength of this testimony can be seen in the next verse:

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

On what is it based? THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST. Let’s look:

This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify:the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 

There are three elements to this testimony:

  1. The water- This reference is to His physical body being born. The amniotic fluid that surrounds the embryo is mostly water. There is also a reference to water when Jesus was pierced by the spear in His side. The sac surrounding the heart is also filled with water and was punctured along with his heart–a sure sign of His death.
  2. The blood- This reference is to His purpose, which was to be the sin sacrifice for us (2 Cor. 5:21). The entire sacrificial system was designed as a picture of what Christ would do for us–had already done for us. One of the mind-blowing verses in the Bible is Revelation 13:8, which says, “…the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” How God did it, I don’t know, but we were redeemed before the world ever began and the Fall ever happened! EVERYONE is judged according to the CROSS: Those who looked forward to it and we who look back on it.
  3. The Spirit- The third Person of the Trinity. He came down in ceremonial form on Jesus in the form of a dove when He was baptized (Matt. 3:16), thus officially beginning His ministry. His Father was very pleased with Him, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” One might go so far as to say that Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Old Covenant by living 30 years righteously, something that no one up to that point had done. Upon His baptism and the receiving of the Holy Spirit (ceremonially)*, He ushered in the New Covenant. From that point on, everything pointed to the Cross and salvation through Him.

Again and again, Jesus told them that if they didn’t believe His message, to at least believe the miracles that testified about Him (John 10:25, 32, 37, 38, 14:11). Those who refuse to believe make Jesus out to be a liar, which makes God a liar, as well. NOT A GOOD THING! They have moved from standing in front of the Judge’s bench to the Judge’s seat–which is reserved for God alone! Mankind can be so arrogant.

John ends this discussion by summarizing Christ’s life:

11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Salvation is simple–not easy, but simple. We believe Jesus. We prove we believe Him by walking with Him continuously and obeying Him. We have the Spirit, who is Jesus, who is God, living in us and communing with us. What more could we ask?!

*Who can explain Jesus? He was God, yet human. He was sinless, which made Him eligible to be the Passover Lamb; He was human, which made Him eligible to be our sin sacrifice; He was one with God through the Spirit. I see the Spirit coming down on Jesus at His baptism as a ceremonial filling, an outward sign of an inward reality, identically to our baptism: An outward sign of an inward reality, which is “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:27. When we graduated from high school, we received a diploma in a ceremony that testified that we had met the requirements set before us. It was the same when I received my black belt in Karate. The belt verified that I knew what it took to be a black belt and had demonstrated my knowledge and skill. Baptism is our testimony of the transformation and indwelling inside us. It doesn’t DO anything to us; it shows WHAT HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE!

Proverbs 30 7-30-19

July 30, 2019

Thoughts and actions, words and deeds–one follows the other. How we live comes from what we believe about Jesus.

4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is the name of his son? Surely you know!

Day 12 of 21 Days of Deep

Yes, we DO KNOW! He is the LORD God and His Son is Jesus Christ! It is VITAL that we keep this confession in the forefront of our minds, for it establishes and maintains our priorities. First thing in the morning, our flesh, our “old man,” tries to re-establish himself as first in our lives. We must “force him back in the grave” by reinforcing in our hearts our reverence for Christ, acknowledging Him as the Lord of our lives. In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 1 Peter 3:15a. Studying passages like 1 John 5 will help us to do exactly that!

As always, read it first in your physical Bible; then, read it here and/or on your electronic device.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

SOAP

Scripture-Read it. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe– Did you notice anything particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply– How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray– Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ in you. Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

For an in-depth look at this passage, see the following lesson below.

1 John 5:1-5

July 30, 2019

Love is an action verb. It shows up huge in this passage. Let’s take a look.

As always, read it first in your physical Bible; then, read it here and/or on your electronic device.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 

What does he mean by, “the Christ?” The Christ is the Savior, the Anointed One of Israel, their King, the Messiah. Martha spoke well for us: “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11:27. Our trust is in His Person and in His Plan. We have put all our eggs into His basket, so to speak. We have no “plan B.” It’s all or nothing, and we have chosen to place ALL of our faith and trust in Him. Whatever He says, goes. Period. And what does He say we will do? Love His other children.

This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 

If you want God to know you love Him, then do what He has commanded. What has He commanded?

  • We could start with the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7;
    • We find His command to be salt and light;
    • Jesus gives more in-depth instructions concerning the 10 Commandments, particularly murder, adultery;
    • He deals with love for our enemies and what to do when we are mistreated;
    • He deals with prayer, the poor, fasting and worry;
    • He instructs us to lay up treasures in heaven instead of in this life;
    • He warns us against judging others and teaches us to ask, seek, and knock;
    • He exhorts us to enter the narrow gate and stay on the narrow road;
    • He warns us that we will be known by our fruit rather than by what we say;
    • And to be sure to build our house on the rock of His foundation.
  • Skipping to John 6:29 coupled with 14:15, He tells us that our main job is to Believe Him and do what He says. In fact, we prove we believe Him by doing what He says.
  • He gives us a new command (different in emphasis from the old Sinai Covenant, which was based on personal obedience in order to be righteous; we are righteous, therefore we obey!), and that command is to love one another (John 13:34).
  • For more of His commands, read the Gospels and get charged up!

In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 

Our biggest Weapon, our greatest Source, our Advocate, Helper, Counselor, Trail Guide, Friend and Associate is the Holy Spirit. He makes following God’s commands a pleasure–not easy, sometimes, but lightening. We find release from tension with Him when we are obedient. Pay attention to the tension. In this way, we overcome the world with its temptations, lures, traps and hidden snares.

Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Do we believe that Jesus is who He said He is and that He did what He said He did? YES! Then, let’s believe that His Spirit lives in us and will help us and encourage us to follow Him. As we already know, He’s worth every step and every breath!