Proverbs 20 4-20-21

Discipleship is a tricky thing. In order to lead someone else, we must first be led. Jesus calls us to follow Him. Are you ready?

24 A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?

Understanding comes through trust; trust comes by faith; faith comes from believing Jesus. If we truly believe what Jesus says, then we will have faith in Him, which enables us to trust Him, which then leads to understanding. Much of our understanding can be learned through His Word, but what we read must be explained by His Spirit, and many times, we simply don’t have enough parts to make sense of what we know.

For instance, a windshield is made up of a multitude of cut glass three-dimensional orthotopes, also called right rectangular prisms. Even though we might be able to locate all the individual pieces (knowledge) and even glue them back together, we still need a way to bind the pieces together in order to have a clear screen. In our case, even though we might appropriate all the individual pieces to a problem or subject, we still need a Binder in order to understand what we have. We need the Holy Spirit.

12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 1Corinthians 2:12-13

The question is, are we willing to be taught by the Spirit of God? Are we placing ourselves in a position to learn? Do we read His Word? Do we consult with other Christians, ones who are more mature and wiser than ourselves? Do we listen to sermons and teachings about the Word of God? Do we search the Scriptures for truth? The Berean Jews did. Look:

10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. Acts 17:10-12

Lest we think that Luke was maligning the character of the Jews of Thessalonica, read the next verse:

13 But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 

Folks, it’s important for us to search the Scriptures every day to see what God wants to teach us. What we learn may not be needed today, but I promise you that it will be soon. There are many things we need to learn and know first so that when specific circumstances arise, we can interpret them according to what we have learned and know. THEN we understand!

So, what kinds of things do we need to know? That’s what I invite you to learn. At Brookwood, we will be beginning a study called, “Real-Life Discipleship Training Manual” by Putman, Willis, Guindon and Krouse, from Navpress. Order a book and join us in person or online each Sunday evening at 5:00. This Sunday, we will be praying for our first week, which we begin on Monday, the 26th. Plenty of time to order a book. If you’re in the area, come by the office and pick one up for $10. I will be available to answer questions, discuss topics, and ask questions of you; just email or text me and/or we’ll set up a time to get together. My email is

Abba, I pray that You will call all my readers to join us in this venture to learn and grow in You. May You call us, urge us, and motivate us to grab a book and learn from each other and from You. Lord Jesus, You are worth following, so I want to know all there is to know about follow-ship. Teach me so that I can teach others. Amen.

Proverbs 19 4-19-21

Let’s be practical: What are some of the benefits of following Jesus? Love! Joy!” Peace! Hope! Grace! Let’s look at joy.

8 The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.

Jesus is joy. Joy is an expression of God. It’s part of His character, just like love and goodness. In fact, Jesus is the exact representation of the Father, “The Son [Jesus] is the radiance of God’s Shekinah glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Hebrews 1:3.

Not only that, Jesus is the Word of God, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1, 14.

Godliness means, “being like God.” We get to do that through Jesus. Likewise, being like Jesus is being like God. It’s nice to have an example, isn’t it?

Here’s the biggest statement in the Bible (to me): “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30. It’s big because I know that pleasing Jesus IS pleasing God. I don’t have to worry that I’m going to get reprimanded later because I misinterpreted what Jesus said and then get scolded by the Father. They are One. To know Jesus is to know God. If I please one, I am pleasing the other.

Jesus died to give us this opportunity. When Christ called us to follow Him we pledged to do so. We even got baptized signifying to the world that we are now followers of Christ. He came to live in us through His Spirit, through which He empowers us to try, encourages us to try again, and blesses us whether we succeed or fail (as long as we are trying).

Here is a noteworthy verse/passage:

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 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. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

As we live for Him rather than for ourselves, we know that “the joy of the LORD is our strength.” Nehemiah 8:10. The strength to do what? To live for Christ. Want to know the power of God? Then clothe yourselves with the joy of the LORD,

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:14

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

Enjoy the LORD today.

Abba, You are awesome! You have created a way for me to know You on a personal level. When I am enjoying Your Presence and participation in my life, I am filled with joy. I know Your love and sense Your peace. My hope is in You, O LORD. Thank You for Your daily grace. Fill me up, Abba, with YOU. Amen.

Proverbs 18 4-18-21

If Jesus is King of the universe, then obedience to Him is a given. Why don’t more people obey Him?

1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement. ESV

According to this verse, we choose to isolate ourselves from Jesus and seek our own desire. Breaking out against all sound judgement, we rebel, which is sin, and so, destroy ourselves. It is God’s desire to save us from ourselves through Jesus Christ; our own rebellious path toward destruction is our choice. Maybe a better picture of who Christ is will help us to quit relying on our own intellect and start being more obedient. Let’s pick up where we left off yesterday:

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3

  1. Christ is the mystery of God. His mission to earth to take our place on the cross, His God-hood and man-hood in the same body, His extravagant love for us demonstrated through Christ…it is, indeed, a mystery!
  2. Hidden in Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One. Want to know God? Get to know Jesus Christ!

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. Colossians 2:9-10

  1. All the fullness of the Deity (God the Father) lives in the bodily form of Christ.
  2. In Christ we have been brought to fullness. In other words, we are filled with God just like Jesus!
  3. Jesus is the head over every power and authority. Ephesians 1:21, Jude 1:25, Revelation 5:12-13

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Colossians 2:16-17

  1. Living religiously, whether Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, or even Baptist, is worshiping the shadow rather than the reality.
  2. That reality is found in Christ.

10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Hebrews 2:10

  1. Jesus brings many sons and daughters to glory.
  2. God is the One for whom and through whom everything exists. Colossians 1:16 says that Christ is the One for whom and through whom everything was created. What’s the deal? “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30.
  3. Jesus is the Pioneer of our salvation.
  4. He was made perfect (complete) through suffering. How so? Jesus completed the sacrificial system. It was done. Finished. He said so on the cross, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30.

The closer we look at Christ, the bigger He gets and the smaller we get. That’s the point. John the Baptizer said, “He must increase; I must decrease.” John 3:30. The same goes for us, too. Let’s worship Him today for who He is and what He has done for us. Oh, and be sure to thank Him for what He has planned for us, too, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived–the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9.

Abba, may You be praised today. As Your Spirit calls upon us to “seek His face,” (Psalm 27:8) may we worship You by seeking Your face, O Lord. May we receive with joy everything that comes from Your hand. We know it is for our good and for Your kingdom’s sake. “We worship You, Almighty God, there is none like You…” Amen.

Proverbs 17 4-17-21

Is Jesus worth following? Who is He, really? What did those who knew Him have to say about Him? Let’s see…

What NOT to do: 4 A wicked person listens to deceitful lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue. The key is to regularly read God’s Word and run everything through the filter of His truth.

Who is Jesus Christ? The apostle Paul tells us very descriptively in Colossians as well as Hebrews (many people believe Paul to be the writer of Hebrews; the styles are very similar as well as the content).

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:15-20

  1. He is the image of the invisible God
  2. He is the firstborn over all creation
  3. In Him all things were created, and they were created for Him
  4. He is before all things and holds all things together
  5. He is the Head of the church
  6. He is the firstborn from among the dead
  7. He is reconciling all things to Himself by making peace through His blood

Let’s jump over to Hebrews now and see the similarities:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1:1-3

  1. God speaks through His Son. See Matthew 21:37
  2. He is heir of all things. We are co-heirs; see Romans 8:17
  3. The universe is made through Him
  4. He is the radiance of God’s glory
  5. He is the exact representation of God’s being
  6. He sustains everything by His powerful word (which is why we read the Word that He has given us)
  7. He sits at the right hand of God, who is the Majesty of heaven (to read more, go to Ephesians 1:19-23)

There’s more, so we will continue tomorrow. For today, let’s be awed by His majesty, acclaim His great name, and bow to His will for our lives. To me, it all comes into focus with one verse, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15. We will learn more tomorrow.

Abba, thank You for sending Your Son to us. Thank You for calling us friends. Thank You for making a way for You to come and live in my heart and life. May I live my life with that very thought in mind: You in me and I in You, just as You are in Christ and He is in You (John 17:21, 23). Make us all one in the Spirit, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 16 4-16-21

I had a dream last night. In that dream, I experienced the Holy Spirit like never before. Let me tell you my dream.

16 How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!

I was at a conference at a big non-Baptist church (how I knew that, I don’t know). During the music portion of the service, the Holy Spirit swept through the auditorium with the sound of a freight train. It filled everything and everyone including me! I was lying down (remember that it was a dream) when I was filled by His presence and it was amazing! It must have been a waking dream because my entire body was filled with His Presence and the feeling didn’t abate for quite a while as I lay there in bed.

Back to the dream: I left the auditorium and came back; as I entered, I was remembering what had happened, and I was filled again! In fact, as I remember His flowing and filling–His Coming–I am washed over with that same feeling right now! It’s different from the dream because it abates rather quickly where in the dream, it didn’t.

In the dream, it was time for another session, but first, I stopped by a family style restroom; while I was in there, a young couple came in (odd, right?). They were talking about creation vs. evolution and he wasn’t making the biblical connection. As I was leaving, I made mention to him that I would love to have a conversation with him about the topic and gave him my business card. I mentioned a “for instance” concerning clues that God gave us in His Word that substantiate a literal six-day creation, which was the separating of the heavens on day four and their rejoining at the Coming of the Lord. Then, I awoke.

I realized at this point that I wanted/needed to get up and write down what I saw and felt. I am still glowing from it! Here is what I “downloaded” from what I was thinking when I talked to the young man:

  1. The heavens separated- Genesis 1:14-19; rejoined- Revelation 22:1-5. The light in Genesis 1:3 is the same light that is in Revelation 22:5.
  2. The Sabbath- Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 20:8-11, 31:13-17; Jesus claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath. Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5, John 5:18
  3. Jesus believed in a six-day creation- In Mark 10:6, Jesus states the creation and in the reality of Adam and Eve. He even quotes Genesis 2:24. In Mark 13:19, Jesus states that God created the world. In John 17:24, in Jesus’ prayer, He mentions that God loved Him before the creation of the world. Jesus also believed in Noah! See Matthew 24:37-39 and Luke 17:26-27.
  4. Death entered through sin- Genesis 2:16-17, 3:19, Romans 5:12; there was no death before Adam and Eve sinned.
  5. The Plan of Salvation- the “old Adam” and the “new Adam” 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45, Romans 5:12-21

Our faith is based upon the promises of God and particularly those of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:3-4). His great promise to us is that His Word is truth (John 17:17), both its history and its prophecy. The BIGGEST promise Jesus gave was that He would send the Holy Spirit (John 14:26 and Acts 1:4-5), which He did at Pentecost (Acts 2)! It is His Spirit with which I was filled in my dream. That same Spirit wants to fill us, and He will if we believe His promises and entrust ourselves to His will. The question is, do we believe enough to take action? Do we trust Jesus enough to give Him everything? He wants to fill us; let’s make room for Him by emptying ourselves of all doubt, worldly wisdom (an oxymoron), and any belief that is not based upon the truth of God in His Word.

Abba, thank You for such an excellent dream! I pray that everyone may experience Your Holy Spirit in such a dramatic way. It is, indeed, a foretaste of glory divine. Give us faith, O Lord, to believe Your promises. We will prove our faith by being obedient to You. Amen.

Proverbs 15 4-15-21

The LORD seeks our devotion. Let’s run a check on our lives; are we devoted to Him in every area? Let’s get that way!

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

As far back as the Garden of Eden, God has wanted our devotion. What does being devoted to Him entail? Devotion- profound dedication, earnest attachment. Adam and Eve had that devotion, but it was untested. When it was tested, they failed. Let’s read the account:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
Genesis 3:6-10

Granted, Eve was deceived by Satan. What it boils down to, though, is that she doubted God’s instruction and promise (Genesis 2:16-17, 3:2-3). How about us? Do we ever doubt God’s instruction and promise?

The fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil had a lasting effect upon Adam and Eve. Whether it was because they had sinned and had lost the shekinah glory (covering) of God or because they were now aware of their bodies (sexually), they realized that they were naked. I tend to think of it like this: Because they were now aware of their bodies, they realized that they had lost their shekinah glory (covering). Because they were naked, they were afraid to stand in God’s presence. They knew He was going to come to walk with them, so they tried to cover themselves with fig leaves (3:7) and hid (3:8).

Notice that God came to them, anyway. He even called out looking for them. Did He really not know where they were or what they had done? He was prompting them to come before Him and confess to Him what He already knew. He looks for us when we hide from Him. It is always better to turn to Him quickly and confess so that He can give us everything we need to have victory and make reparations. We may think that God did not take care of Adam and Eve that way, but let’s look:

  1. Christ died before Adam and Eve were created (Genesis 3:15, Revelation 13:8).
  2. He provided clothing for them (Genesis 3:21).
  3. He banished them from the Garden, which was an eternal place, so that they would die–we all need to die in order to be free from these corruptible/perishable bodies (1 Corinthians 15:53-54).

God takes care of us that way, too. Even in our sin, He plops Himself down right in the middle of us! He did it when the Israelites left Egypt (He had them construct a tent and He dwelt in it–kind of), He did it when He went to Matthew’s house and Zacchaeus’ house, and He did it with us in our lives. The entire Bible is God’s love letter to us telling us of His faithfulness and lovingkindness. Let’s wrap His words around us today.

From Psalm 119:97-104,

97 Oh, how I love your law [that which keeps us safe]! I meditate on it all day long. 98 Your commands are always with me and make me wise than my enemies. 102 I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are your words to my taste [soul], sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Abba, may we take great courage and comfort today in Your commands and promises. May we take the time to read them and learn them, for they are our strength, our mighty fortress into which we run. Amen.

Proverbs 14 4-14-21

Heaven is real. Heaven is concurrent. Earth is what we see in the viewscreen; heaven is everything else!*

11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish.

We will follow two themes today. One deals with verse 11, and the other concludes our study on the New Covenant and its ramifications (not that we have dealt with all of them).

First, a wicked person is one who is self-made. In other words, he has no room for God’s opinion. Even the good things he does have a wicked core, which is his own opinion of himself and what he considers good. Anything done outside of the direction and participation of the Holy Spirit is evil and will not carry into eternity. We are to store up for yourselves treasures in heaven;” the wicked person does not do that; instead, he stores up treasures on earth.

The second thing is the reference to a house. A house is a symbol of permanence. By building a house, a person is saying, “I’m staying right here. I am investing in my life in this house.” Notice that the upright uses a tent. Why? Because he can then use what he saved by not investing a house for heavenly investments. Also, he is making the statement, “I am not investing in this world because even though I am in this world, I am not of it (John 17:14-16). I have my sights set on the place my Father has in store for me in the kingdom of heaven.” Why do the upright flourish? Because they are spending their lives, their time and their resources wisely according to God.

Which brings us to the conclusion of the New Covenant ramifications. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36. So, where is His kingdom? Let’s look:

It’s not with the religious rulers of the temple, “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” Matthew 21:43

Many of Jesus’ disciples got to see Jesus come in His kingdom, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Matthew 16:28

Jesus brought His kingdom to each believer at Pentecost, “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:3-4

Why do I think such a thing? Because Jesus said, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst [within you].” Matthew 17:20-21. “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,” Colossians 1:13.

The kingdom of heaven is wherever Jesus is, so if Jesus is in our hearts, then the kingdom of heaven is within us! In view of this revelation, what does it mean concerning the coming of the kingdom? It means that the kingdom of heaven comes to earth as the people of earth receive Jesus into their lives. Want His kingdom to come, His will be done? Then pray that people will receive Jesus Christ, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach!

* The beginning statement needs explanation. When COVID 19 hit, we went to an online service. That Easter, we had one scene for the music and then a living room scene for the sermon. People saw the scenes as the cameras focused on them. I was standing just off-camera as Bryan and Luann finished up the sermon when I realized that Bryan and Luann were “standing on earth” while I was “standing in heaven.” What we perceive on this earth is only what we can see through the lens of the camera. Heaven is everything else: the scene where Robin and I sang, the rest of the stage, the empty seating, the tech area, etc. We should think of heaven as something just outside of our perception. Think about it: All Jesus did to show up in the upper room with His disciples was to step into the scene. He stepped out of the scene when He was with the two disciples at Emmaus. Where is heaven? It’s right beside you–just off-camera. The threshold of death is just that, a threshold, a doorway into the spirit world.

We finish with one more kingdom of heaven verse, “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven [Jesus] has come near.’” Matthew 10:7.

Abba, I know these are difficult concepts, but it’s time for us to put away childish things and become spiritual adults–or, at least, leave the nursery. We want spiritual meat so we can share weighty stuff with those in need of real answers to life–not to impress them, but to offer them something other than “junk food and pat answers.” You live in our hearts. You reign in our lives. You give real peace and real joy and real purpose, and You love with an everlasting love. These are the truths we need to be sharing as well as experiencing them in our own lives. We can’t share what we do not have. So, move in us, O Lord. Shake us until there is nothing left but that which is eternal. If we’re not ready, then get us ready. Move across our land with renewal for Your people and then revival for our potential brothers and sisters in Christ. May it be time, Abba. Amen. So be it.

Proverbs 13 4-13-21

If we are not counting ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus, then we are not living the true Christian life.

2 From the fruit of their lips [professing Christ as Lord each day and living for Him] people enjoy good things [His presence and participation in their lives], but the unfaithful [those who ignore the Spirit within] have an appetite for violence [wickedness, which is doing things without consulting the Lord].

Paul said in Romans 6:11, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” He was describing what happened to us when we believed in Christ as our Lord and Savior. We were buried with Him and then raised with Him to walk in the new life. This process is pictured in baptism. We go under the water, which represents dying, and then come back up out of the water, which signifies raising to life just like Him.

What makes this process possible? The New Covenant! It is the completion of the Old Covenant, which showed us what we needed (a Savior), but all it could do for our sin issue was cover it until the Messiah came and took care of it on the cross, “in His forbearance, he [God] had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–” Romans 5:25.

Paul then gives a rather graphic example further explaining the ramifications of this New Covenant.

1the law has authority over someone only as long as that person livesFor example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man. So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him [Jesus!] who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:1-6

What is this new way of service that that we have? What is the way of the Spirit? John calls it “walking in the light,” “If we walk in the light, as God is [in the/our] light, we have fellowship with one another [Christ with us and us with Christ], and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 Our Christianity can be measured by how much we depend upon the Spirit and have fellowship with Him. In fact, prayer (our conversation with the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit) demonstrates our dependence on God. Our lack of prayer demonstrates our independence from God, which is actually a form of rebellion (sin). Doing anything without consulting God first and being obedient to His direction is wickedness. We must repent and do the things we know to do according to His leadership in our lives–moment by moment. There should be no periods of NOT being connected to the Spirit. There may not be any talking going on, but there is an awareness of each other’s presence. Robin and I demonstrate this awareness all the time when we are driving. We are together and enjoying each other’s company, but we may not be in an actual conversation. It’s this kind of fellowship that John is talking about in 1:7.

May we strive to be aware of His presence in our lives; may we welcome His participation and the fellowship that goes with being in step with Him. His Spirit is our confirmation, our surety of salvation, and we are reminded of the absoluteness of our salvation every time we converse with Him. People who do His will according to the leadership of the Holy Spirit never doubt their salvation; it’s too real to them!

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

Abba, thank You for the gift of Your blessed Holy Spirit. He is Your presence in my life. Through Him, I know You! In fact, since the Spirit IS You, then I am talking to You all the time. For a tangible representation of You, I think of Jesus. Lord Jesus, You walk with me and talk with me along life’s narrow way. Thank You for living in my heart and for me being a part of Your kingdom. Bring Your kingdom, Lord. I welcome it both in my heart and in this world. Amen.

Proverbs 12 4-12-21

To be set free from sin is not so that we can live for ourselves, but for the One who set us free. Let’s live for Jesus!

2 Good people [those who live for Christ] obtain favor from the LORD, but He condemns those who devise wicked schemes [live for themselves without regard for Him].

Jesus made an interesting statement in John 8. He stated a spiritual truth that still holds true today.

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” John 8:34

He had said something similar in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 when He said, “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 mammon [appetite for riches, power, self-exaltation].” Matthew 6:24 Jesus was basically saying that if we are not serving God, then we are serving the other.

This spiritual truth has everything to do with the New Covenant. The Old Covenant showed us what we did not have, which was what it took to conquer sin, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” Romans 3:20. As Jesus said, since we are sinners, we are slaves to sin. Paul said,

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins [we were slaves]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. 
12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:1-3, 12

Christ has made it possible to be freed from the chains of sin–to become slaves of righteousness. Read it:

17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sinyou have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:17-18

We must remember that we were not designed to do life on our own. God wants to do life with us. Hence, the cross. Through Christ’s death and atonement for our sins, we can be freed from our bondage to sin as Christ comes to live in our hearts. Our slavery to righteousness simply means that we pledge our allegiance to the Father to live as He directs. Remembering that He is both Great and Good, we can count on Him to deal justly with us NOT according to our own acts, but according to the Righteous Act of His Son, Jesus.

What does this slavery to righteousness look like? Jesus told us,

28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened [with the bondage of sin], and I will give you rest29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

What should we do? Out of gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.” Romans 6:20. We now live for Christ and not for ourselves. Any other way is evil. Let’s honor today the pledge we made to Christ; let’s live for Him and not ourselves, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:11-14.

Abba, what a beautiful thing You did for us through Jesus Christ. This New Covenant has set us free from sin and death, and allows us to have both the desire and the power to live righteously as we fellowship with You, learn from You, and trust You for every decision we make, from when to get up to when to go to bed; from what to read in Your Word to what to talk about with our friends; from what to wear to what to say–or not say. It’s all about the relationship! May we trust You more and more each day as we offer ourselves to You as slaves of Your righteousness. Who knew that being a slave would be so good?! I’m addicted, Lord. I need more of You. Today. All day. Amen.

Proverbs 11 4-11-21

Learning to subdue our human nature is tough, but necessary if we want to be like Christ. He is our Life.

2 Pride comes before disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
27 Whoever diligently seeks good finds good will [acceptance from God], but evil comes to [goes into] one who searches for it.

Christ died once for all, but only those who accept His sacrifice as their substitute receive the cleansing that comes by His blood. Through Christ, we have died to our human nature and now live according to our heavenly nature. Those who have received the Holy Spirit now live for Christ and His purposes.

Revelation 1:5 (ESV)

5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

There are several things in this passage that are important:

1. We are free in Christ.

2. He lives in us. We are His kingdom. In fact, we are ONE with Christ! “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” 1 Corinthians 6:17

3. We are priests. Christ is our mediator and we need no other.

4. Once we are in Christ, our position is permanent. His kingdom, which is in us, will never end.

So, if we are new creations, priests of God, and His kingdom is within us, then why is it so difficult to live a godly life? Answer: Because we still live in this flesh, which houses our human nature, that which we are without God and His participation. If we could get past the feels, we could much more effectively live the Christ life. Let’s face it: Our human nature doesn’t WANT to live a godly life; it wants to live for itself. Beth Moore had it right: We are twice the enemy to ourselves than Satan ever thought about being. He merely highlights our dilemma of having two natures now. The one that grows is the one we feed daily.

So, what are we feeding ourselves? What SHOULD we be feeding ourselves?

2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3

14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:14

16 Let the message [word] of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3:16

Today’s a good day to do Colossians 3:16. Let’s worship together as we commit ourselves, once again, to God’s Word, the Christ life, and to Him who lives in us.

Abba, may You be honored today in our actions, our thoughts, our songs, our prayers, and our conversation. May we learn from You today through the songs, the message, and our teachers even as You take what we hear and synthesize it for us and apply it to our lives. Make us one in You, O Lord. We are Your Church, Your Bride, Your Temple, Your Branches. Bring honor to Your name through us. Amen.

Proverbs 10 4-10-21

Dying to self and living for Christ is at the heart of Christianity. Why? Let’s take a look.

13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning…14 The wise store up knowledge…

As we continue to consider the ramifications of the New Covenant, let’s look at the roots of this “New” Covenant.

…the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made. Revelation 13:8

Why was Christ slaughtered as a Lamb before God made mankind? So that the law would be in place that sin would kill us. What?! Sin needed to kill us in order for Christ to raise us!

14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that those who live would no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose on their behalf. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

God Himself told Adam and Eve what would happen if/when they sinned, “…for the day you eat of it you shall surely die [spiritually].” Genesis 2:17. This law was put in place to keep us from being eternally separated from God. Who is eternally separated from God? Satan and his followers. They cannot be saved because the law of Christ does not apply to them. They are eternally living their rebellion because outside of time, the “time” is ever-present. All of a sudden, the passage in Hebrews 3:7-19 and, specifically, verse 13 make sense:

13 But encourage one another every day, as long as it is still called “today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 

As long as we (humans) are in the timeline of life, we have the opportunity to receive the salvation of Christ. Once death happens, there is no more “time” for salvation, “And just as it is destined for people to die once, and after this comes judgment,” Hebrews 9:27.

How do we apply the knowledge that we have died with Christ? Paul tells us in Romans 6:4, “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Tomorrow, we will look more into our death and resurrection in Christ. For today, let’s contemplate God’s wondrous plan and His immense love for us and how we may live a new life in and for Him.

Abba, You are truly wonderful! Your plan has always been for us to be at Your side. Thank You for making it happen through Christ Jesus. May I never take for granted the lengths You had to go to be resident in us by way of Your Holy Spirit. May You not be just resident, but President in our lives. Amen.

Proverbs 9 4-9-21

Want to be blessed with God’s kindness and grace? His wisdom and understanding? Believe in Jesus whom He has sent.

13 Folly…14 sits at the door of her house…15 calling out to those who pass by…16 “Let all who are simple [naïve, prone toward evil] come to my house!”

The best I can tell from Scripture, Adam and Eve were perfect before God until they disobeyed. Their disobedience was rebellion; it was sin. That sin broke their fellowship with God–but it didn’t change God’s love for them. He had set up ahead of time the means to get them back into right relationship with Himself through the cross. Read it:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.  Ephesians 1:3-5

Redeeming us through the cross was God’s plan all along. It’s always been Plan A; there’s never been a Plan B. What did God do with sin? For the answer to that question, we go to Romans 5:12,

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned–

So, sin entered the world through Adam. We get that. Death comes to us all because of sin. We get that, too. It seems unreasonable–until we look at the next part that is found in Romans 5:18-19,

18 Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone19 Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.

God allowed sin to kill everyone who came after Adam, who was our representative, so that Jesus could redeem everyone at one time as our Representative. God even put off the judgement of everyone’s sin until that sin could go to the cross,

25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. Romans 3:25-26

Jesus told us that the only work required to be made righteous and put in right standing with the Father was “to believe in the one He has sent.” John 6:29. That person, of course, was Jesus. We believe Jesus when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6. He told Martha at Lazarus’ death, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” John 11:25-26. Then He asked her a poignant question, “Do you believe Me?” He asks us the same question every time we have a decision to make. We prove our faith each time we choose to believe Him and act according to our faith rather than according to our own reasoning. Paul put it like this, we “do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:4.

What is our response to so great a salvation? WE PRAISE GOD!

So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. Ephesians 1:6-8

Right now, give thanks to the Lord for His wonderful gift of grace through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Abba, I thank You and praise You for the wonderful gift of grace You have lavished on us through Jesus. You are so rich in kindness and grace; You have showered Your kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives (Colossians 1:9). Your Spirit who lives in us bears witness with our spirit that we are Your children, adopted into Your family (Romans 8:16-17), and co-heirs with Jesus Himself! WOW! You are amazing, Abba! May Your praise continue forever and be continually on my lips. Amen.

Proverbs8 4-8-21

How does the New Covenant relate to us? Through Jesus, we can now experience the love, joy and peace of God.

20 I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, 21 bestowing a rich [spiritual] inheritance on those who love me and making their [heavenly] treasuries full.

As we continue to delve into the mysteries of this New Covenant, let’s take a look at some of the practical ways it affects us. I don’t know about you, but I need practical application in order to more fully understand a concept. Let’s begin with Romans 5:1-2,

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. 

We believe in the resurrection, so we have faith that Jesus gave us peace with God by being our propitiation (substitute offering) through His death and resurrection. We have experienced His grace! It’s not that God hated us and is not appeased; He has always loved us and personally came to us in/as Jesus Christ. God died for us through Jesus. That’s how much He loves us (John 3:16). Our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for us is what gives us peace with God. We now have access to stand in His presence and experience all of His love, joy, peace, and the hope that these feelings bring to us as we walk in this world. If you are not experiencing these fruit of the Spirit, then spend time with Him at His throne; it’s the only way to get them.

Tomorrow, we will read Romans 5:12 and look at how this New Covenant fulfilled God’s eternal plan. In the meantime, take great assurance in the peace of God by spending time with Him in His Word and in prayer. It’s in our exchange with Him that we receive His point of view (wisdom). Your reward in heaven will be great!

Abba, I want to “rejoice and leap” as it says in Luke 6:23! As I spend time in Your presence by turning around in my mind and addressing You, I immediately sense Your love, joy and peace that exude from You. I KNOW it’s what You want me to experience all the time; I just need more training in how to keep You at the forefront of my mind. Train me, O Lord, so that I may train others. Amen.

Proverbs 7 4-7-21

The Israelites broke the Mosaic covenant with the LORD, of which we weren’t even a part, yet. Aren’t we glad that Jesus established a new one?!

18 “Come, let’s drink deeply of love till morning; 19 my husband is not at home…”

When we read the prophets, we find these two verses describe Israel. She had broken her marriage vow with the LORD–many times. He allowed her to be carried off first by the Assyrians and then the Babylonians. After her return to the land of Israel, the Lord never demonstrated His presence in the second temple, nor did He speak through the prophets for 400 years.

The next prophet to prophesy was Mary. Listen to her prophecy: From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me–holy is His name” Luke 1:48-49. John the Baptist’s dad, Zechariah, was the next person to prophesy, “He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David…to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham…and you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him…” Luke 1:69, 73, 76.

The next person to prophesy was Simeon, the temple priest, who consecrated Jesus when Mary and Joseph presented Him at the temple. Listen to his prophecy: “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations; a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel” Luke 2:30-32. The last person to testify was John the Baptist himself, “I baptize you with water for repentance, But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” Matthew 3:11.

Did you catch a running theme?

  • Mary – All future generations would be blessed by her offspring.
  • Zechariah – Salvation has come, the offspring of David, and the answer to the oath sworn to Abraham; his son, John, would prepare the way for Him.
  • Simeon – Salvation would come through Him to all nations; He would be a light to the Gentiles and the glory of the people of Israel-well, all those who believe in Him. Even today, the traditional leaders of Israel teach to NOT believe in Jesus as Messiah.
  • John the Baptist – The coming of the Holy Spirit! John prophesied about the point of Jesus’ coming, which culminated at Pentecost. The fire mentioned was judgement upon the unbelieving leadership. This judgement happened in 70 AD at the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

What did Jesus come to do? It’s called the New Covenant; we’ll talk about it tomorrow. In the meantime, let’s glory in what Christ has done for us. He is our Messiah! He is Yeshua Ha-Mashiach!

Abba, thank You for all You have done for us through Jesus Christ. The fulfilling of first the Abrahamic covenant and then the Mosaic Covenant in the New Covenant was genius! Would that all Jews—all people!—would see what You did there. I pray for them that they would come to recognize You, Jesus, as their Messiah even as we do. May Your kingdom come, and may Your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven, which is immediately and fully. Amen.

Proverbs 6 4-6-21

Who we live for shows who is most important to us. Is Christ your priority?

22 When you walk, they [God leading us through His Word] will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you.

What are the ramifications of the whole cross event? One is the new way that God interacts with us. Because of the New Covenant that Jesus inaugurated at the cross and was implemented on Pentecost, He no longer holds us accountable for our sin:

2 Corinthians 5:19 (NIV)

that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.

The Spirit we have been given gives us new desires. We now want to please our Heavenly Father. In our gratitude to Christ Jesus, we willingly pledge to live for Him. What motivates us to set aside, even die to, our own desires?

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NIV)

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 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.

How then shall we live? For Christ! The first thing is to spend quality time with Him in prayer and His Word. Our church is reading through Psalm 119. I ask that you join us. We are on the third set of eight verses (it will be easy to catch up). We are praying for a mighty movement of the Spirit. Join us!

Abba, May You get us ready to receive all the new converts that will be coming to us because of another Great Awakening. I’m excited! May You begin today. Amen.

Proverbs 5 4-5-21

What happens to us when we die? We will stand before our Maker, God the Father. What will you be wearing?

7 Now then, my children, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say.
21 For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and He examines all your paths.

When Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room after His resurrection, He gave them a promise, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” Luke 24:49. What did His Father promise? Clothed with what power?

The night that they celebrated Passover together was only four days before. That night, Jesus told them He would send:

  1. The Advocate- John 14:16, 26, 15:26, 16:7
  2. The Spirit of Truth- John 14:17, 15:26, 16:13
  3. The Holy Spirit- John 14:26
  4. Greek: Parakleteo- He calls us, invites us, beseeches us, entreats us, even begs us; He exhorts us, admonishes us; He comforts us, encourages us, and consoles us. He is our Come-Alongside-er.

We will look at the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 a little closer to Pentecost (in 49 days-the countdown has begun).

What does it mean to be “clothed with power from on high”? For that, we look back on Jesus’ teaching in the parable of the Wedding Banquet in Matthew 22:1-14 where we find this verse:

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.

In order to stand in the presence of the King, we must be arrayed correctly. What is the option? For that, we look at 2 Corinthians 5:1-5,

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

What is our conclusion?

  1. Without the clothing of the Holy Spirit, we will stand naked before God in heaven. That in itself is terrifying!
  2. The clothing of the Holy Spirit is something we must receive BEFORE we give up these “earthly tents.”
  3. The fact that the Holy Spirit is a deposit, a guarantee, lets us know that we have a much greater body to which to look forward, one that is suitable for our heavenly dwelling.
  4. When we receive our new, immortal bodies, “Death has been swallowed up in victory” 1 Corinthians 15:54, which is a quote from Isaiah 25:8.

What a future of HOPE we have! I wonder why every person over 50 doesn’t want to reserve their heavenly bodies (our present bodies don’t work well anymore) by following Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit. Maybe we need to be telling them about Him! In fact, everyone should know about what Christ has in store for those who believe in Him, which can start today. Let’s listen to His voice today and go where He directs us, say what He tells us, and be witnesses for Him, which is what He told His disciples in Luke 24:48.

Abba, I am SO glad that You have something better in store for us! In fact, Your Word tells us that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor has it entered into our hearts what You have prepared for us who love you” 1 Corinthians 2:9. In the meantime, may we follow You with all our hearts knowing that You will lead us every step of the way. Amen.

Proverbs 4 4-4-21

It’s Resurrection Sunday! What will you do today to show your gratitude for all the Christ has done for us?

20 My child, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. 21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.

Imagine yourself leaving Jerusalem with a friend that Sunday morning. You didn’t go to the temple yesterday because you were afraid of the leaders and the mob. You two are talking about all that had happened over the past week and what could have been when you notice someone walking beside you. He asks, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” Your faces are downcast as you answer him with a question, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Evidently, he is, because he asks, “What things?” You answer with a short version about Jesus, the trial, the crucifixion, and the death of a dream. You even tell him about the women’s testimony about Jesus being alive, but the doubt is evident in your tone…

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:25-30

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem [seven miles!]. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

This is the account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Your part was Cleopas, who narrated the story. Even as Cleopas was telling their account, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” After some demonstrations that He was real, He brought everything together for them:

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” It’s a summary of what He told the two disciples in verse 27.

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high [the Holy Spirit].”

What a day that was! Since we were not there, we can only imagine what it must have been like to see Jesus in His resurrected form. What we CAN experience is that same “Power from on high,” the blessed Holy Spirit, who opens our minds so that we can understand the Scriptures. Tomorrow, we will delve into the ramifications of some of these Scriptures, but today, let’s enjoy the wonderful celebration of His resurrection.

Lord, we are grateful! We are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, the kind Peter talks about (1 Peter 1:8). May You be resurrected in our lives every day, Lord Jesus. May we be resurrected in Your love each day. Amen.

He is risen.
He is risen, indeed!

Proverbs 3 4-3-21

Does serving a risen Savior scare you a little? It should at least make us seriously consider anything He asks of us!

5 Trust the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

Tomorrow, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Yeshua Ha-Mashiach. Let’s read it:

Jesus Has Risen

28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Matthew 28:1-8

There are several points that come into play concerning the resurrection of Jesus.

How are we at following directions? How well do we listen to the Holy Spirit? Do we always reserve final judgement on any orders we are given? I call that attitude, “Selective Service.” Not Good. It’s a whole lot like putting your hand to the plow and then looking back at your old life where you did things your way. Jesus said that such a person is unfit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). Also, delayed obedience is disobedience. We would do well to remember that we serve a RISEN Savior, one who beat death! He is our Sovereign Lord. He deserves our undying gratitude and our unquestioning servitude.

  1. Each gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) has a version of the event. Illustration: in a bank robbery, the detective might ask several people if there was a get-away car. Each person might describe a vehicle in a number of colors, makes and models, and even types of vehicle. The conclusion the detective draws is that there WAS a get-away car because no one said there wasn’t; they all described something. In this case, there were several points of view: Mary Magdalene, the group of ladies, and Peter and John. What was the conclusion that a detective might draw? That there WAS a resurrection!
  2. In reading the other gospels, there was one angel who was sitting on the stone; there was an angel in the tomb; there were two angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where Jesus had been laid. Here again, what’s the conclusion? There WAS at least one angel!
  3. The first day of the week actually begins on Saturday evening as the sun goes below the horizon. Jesus rose sometime in the night. The angel didn’t roll the stone away until the ladies got there. Of course, He wasn’t there; He had risen!
  4. The angel said that Jesus would go ahead of them to Galilee and for the ladies to tell the disciples to join Him there. They didn’t. In fact, Jesus showed up that night in their meeting room! Then, He did it again the next week! THEN, the disciples went to Galilee.
  5. Key in on the ladies’ emotions: “Afraid yet filled with joy.” When we think of the resurrection, what emotions are stirred in us? The mystery might be unsettling–how does one explain the unexplainable? The ramifications are astounding–He really IS God! He really IS the Passover Lamb! We really ARE free in Christ!

Abba, You are our King. May we, who have never lived under an earthly king, grasp the magnitude of Your call on our lives. We have given You our hearts, but we must also give You our lives to be lived as You see fit. Make us fit for the kingdom, Lord. Whip us into shape. Trim our fat and tone our spiritual muscles. May we answer immediately when You call on us even as Moses did, “Here I am” (Exodus 3:4), as Samuel did, “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10), and as Jesus did, “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees His Father doing” (John 5:19). May we see You at work and join You in Your work. Amen.

Proverbs 2 4-2-21

The crucifixion didn’t just happen. God had a plan and Jesus was working that plan.

7 [The LORD] holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

It may look like God didn’t protect His Son, but He did–right up to the cross. Christ’s death on that cross was the whole reason He left heaven and came to earth (John 12:27-28). Let’s look at His death and burial.

31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. John 19:31-34

41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. John 19:41-42

This morning, Jesus had been in the tomb for Wednesday evening, Thursday, Thursday evening, and now Friday. He could at any moment come back from the dead, but according to Jewish tradition, the spirit hovered over the body for three days. Waiting three days and three nights fulfilled several criteria:

  1. The soul/spirit would have left the body. He was considered truly dead.
  2. He had said that He would be in the ground three days and three nights just like Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights (Matthew 12:40). It was the ONLY sign gave them that they understood.
  3. Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of Hosea 6:1-2, which says, “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.”

We know that no one took Jesus’ life (John 10:17-18). He was the Lamb of God that took away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The atonement made by Jesus is our intercession with the Father:

23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:23-25

The blood of Jesus cleanses our consciences from acts of sin so that we can be free from the fear of death:

12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! Hebrews 9:12-14

We are now free to serve God without having to worry about judgement! He loves us! He wants us! He has adopted us! Praise be to God on High!

Because of so great a sacrifice for us, let us serve Him with all we are, holding nothing back, and without reservation.

Abba, You are truly wonderful. Your Plan, which You set into motion before the creation of the world, was to buy us back with Your own blood. Many Jews saw Your sacrifice for what it was; we Gentiles are having to learn it, but as we do, we stand in awe of You. As I learn, my admiration and respect for You continues to soar! Please keep revealing Yourself to me, to us, we beg You. Amen.

Proverbs 1 4-1-21

Is any decision we make truly trivial? Not really. Every decision bears either Christ’s righteousness or our unrighteousness.

2 for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; 3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair;

When Jesus had given the Olivette Discourse, He told three parables about the coming of the kingdom of heaven (or, the kingdom of God; see Luke 19:11). Instead of quoting all of them, let’s look at the cruxes of the parables.

Matthew 25:1-13 The Parable of the Ten Virgins

11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

Jesus was telling them to be prepared for the Messiah when He came to do what He came to do. The expectations of the people were not in line with what Jesus came to do, which was to be the Passover Lamb for them. The resulting consequence was that they were left out of the kingdom because they missed Jesus, their Messiah.

Matthew 25:14-30 The Parable of the Bags of Gold

20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

25 I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’
26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant
28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. 29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The rewards and the consequences are according to the actions of the servants. The people of Israel had a choice: Believe in Jesus as Messiah and let Him free them from their chains of sin, or reject Him and stay in the chains of their sin. The consequence of sin is death and destruction. Within 40 years, Israel self-destructed. How could Jesus allow the scattering of Israel to the ends of the earth? What about the covenant God had with His people? That covenant was fulfilled in Jesus. In fact, the first covenant that was established with Abraham is still being fulfilled through all who believe in Jesus. Theirs is the true circumcision, the circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:28-29 and Galatians 6:15). What is it that whoever has it, more will be given? Faith. What is it that if a person doesn’t have it, even the little that may reside in him is taken from him? Faith. Faith in what? Faith that Jesus is who He says He is and that He did (and will do) what He said He would do.

Matthew 25:31-46 The Sheep and the Goats

The first thing we notice is that the heading doesn’t say the word, “parable.” The way this one is given is different than the other two and has the feel of reality–it may not be a parable at all! In fact, I believe that it is the answer and conclusion to the previous two parables. It is prophecy.

  1. Jesus referred to Himself in the story: The Son of Man.
  2. The people of all nations are referred to as sheep and goats, a comparison that the people of Jesus’ day would know well.
  3. The truth of verse 34 is enlightening because of the reference to the creation of the world. See Hebrews 4:3c-4.
  4. The answer to this prophecy is found in Isaiah 58:6-9. Jesus wasn’t just pulling examples out of thin air. He was tying His kingdom back to the Old Covenant and the standard of righteousness that God requires. We know that the only way to meet that standard is through faith in Christ. Read it for yourself:

20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. 21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:20-24

The standard is high because the stakes are high. We must be clothed with Christ in order to stand in the presence of the Father (Matthew 22:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:53). The alternative is the lake of fire–that was not intended for anyone but Satan and his followers (verse 41). Verse 46 spells it out, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

The showdown had begun. The problem for the enemy is that they did not understand just exactly what was going down. More on that tomorrow…

Abba, these parables–and prophecy–teach me to consider the gravity of life’s decisions. None of my decisions are trivial in light of Your righteousness. May I learn to “be clothed in the righteousness of Christ (Romans 13:14)” in every area of my life. Keep working on me, Lord. You are the Potter; I am the clay. Amen.

Proverbs 31 3-31-21

Jesus came to set things right between us and the Father. Those who did not accept Him paid a heavy price. Still do.

8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. 9 Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

We will never know what Jesus would have done for Jerusalem and the people of Israel if they had believed in Him as their Messiah. Instead, they followed their own wicked hearts and it led them to destruction, as it does for all of us. Just know that judgement was not God’s desire. We find His desire in 2 Peter 3:9, “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Jesus Laments over Jerusalem

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”

Scene: Jesus was leaving the temple area. His parting words were not just to the religious leaders, but also to the city itself and its history. His heart breaks as He mourns over her. When, at last, her Messiah came, she refused Him. Now, she will be desolate.

There are two schools of thought concerning verse 39. One is that He was referring to Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit came. Since He and the Spirit are One, then Jesus did, indeed, come at Pentecost. The other school of thought is that Jesus was referring to His REAL triumphal entry described in Revelation 19:11-16 and Zechariah 14:3-9. The interesting part is that BOTH can be correct.

Chapter 24 begins with Jesus walking away. Someone called His attention to the beautiful buildings. Jesus’ response was cryptic: And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” He was referring to the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D, which brought to a close the temple sacrifices. I will not print the entire passage here, but I will make some comments:

  1. The tearing of the veil upon Jesus’ death and the Coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost heralded in the New Covenant of love and grace where Jesus lives in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. The sacrificial system ended there, but was not brought to a close until 70 A.D. because the religious leaders refused to believe that Jesus was Messiah. Jesus had to do it for them (from an earthly perspective, they brought it upon themselves with their rebellion from Rome).
  2. The Olivette (on the Mount of Olives; see v3) Discourse is widely disputed. There are some key verses that bear scrutiny.
    1. Verses 4-14: Many of the verses were fulfilled in the 40 years between Jesus’ resurrection and the Fall of Jerusalem. The Greek word for “whole world” is the same one that Luke used in Luke 2:1, which is translated as “Roman Empire.” It specifically means, “known world.” If so, then it refers to the Destruction of Jerusalem. If it refers to the entire world, then it is ongoing, as is Acts 1:8.
    2. Verses 15-26: Using Scripture to interpret Scripture, there are two ways to view these verses:
      1. Luke 21:20-27 helps give a point of reference. History states that Vespasian marched on Israel from the North taking Galilee, Central Israel, and then circled around Jerusalem taking Judea, and then started to tighten the noose on Jerusalem when he got word that Nero had committed suicide and was being called back to Rome, so he withdrew. It was some time before his son, Titus, was appointed to deal with Jerusalem. Luke’s passage now makes sense. The desolation talked about is the destruction of the temple and the erecting of a pagan altar in its place by Titus. It was Rome’s way of finalizing their victory over Israel.
      2. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 is another passage that is used to interpret “the abomination that causes desolation.” Many see this passage as a future event along with Matthew 24:15-31.
    3. Verses 28-30: Some see the destruction of Jerusalem as history that has been fulfilled from a heavenly perspective, much like Jesus coming against Israel through Assyria and Babylon (see Micah 1:3-7, Isaiah 13:9-11 and Zephaniah 1:14-16 for examples).
    4. Verses 30-31: Many see these verses as a future event. It can certainly be read that way, and I am sure that Jesus will come again with power and great glory. It can also be interpreted as a fulfillment of the judgement passed on Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Even the part where Jesus gathers His elect can be seen as the gathering of all Christians who fled Jerusalem, or an ongoing event rather than a future one. The language used is what is called prophet-speak, and can be read all over the Old Testament (a good example is Daniel 7:13-14 where the term, “coming in the clouds,” stands for His power and great glory).
    5. Verse 34: The term, “generation,” has been interpreted in many ways. Jesus used it often (six times in Matthew, three times in Mark, 10 times in Luke, and in Acts 2:40) and meant the people to whom He was talking. It may have a more general use concerning a future date.
  3. Regardless of our eschatological view, we come away from this passage with some basic truths:
    1. Jesus will return.
    2. No one knows when.
    3. Exact interpretation of this passage is not paramount.
    4. We are to learn the lesson of obedience to Christ from it.

In Jerusalem, on Wednesday, day 14 of the month of Nisan in 30 A.D, Jesus died on a cross. We, as does most of the world, do not go by a lunar calendar as Israel does, but by the Roman solar calendar, so our “Easter” sometimes does not coincide with the true week of Passover. This year, it’s off by four days. Even so, let us give solemn consideration to today as we remember our Lord’s death in our place.

Abba, I love You. Thank You for Jesus and His substitute sacrifice (propitiation) for me on that cross. Because of Him, I am now Your beloved and adopted son, brother to Jesus, and co-heir with Him! May all of my brothers and sisters in Christ give You praise today. WE ARE GRATEFUL! Amen.

Proverbs 30 3-30-21

What would Jesus say about our lives? Do we routinely give Him control and lean on Him for direction? Is He truly our Lord?

11 There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers [see Mark 7:6-13], 12 those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth; 13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty, whose glances are so disdainful; 14 those whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives to devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among mankind [contempt].

It was time for Jesus to stir the religious leaders into action. They either needed to repent and receive His words or kill Him. Most of them chose to kill Him. Read now Jesus’ final condemnation:

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 

The scribes and Pharisees didn’t want the system to change, which is exactly what a Messiah would do. In other words, they really didn’t want Messiah to come. Therefore, they rejected Jesus even with all of the evidence of healings right in front of them.

14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.

This woe is another example of what the leaders did: They would make a law that gave them what they wanted, and then make another law excusing them for their misdeed. But, the Lord knows and has said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay” Deuteronomy 32:35.

15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

Lest we get the idea that they took in foreigners, they were looking for Jews to become their disciples. Then, they would teach them to be “good” Pharisees–whose practices Jesus detested.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ 17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ 19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.

These woes show the inner drive of the religious leaders: Gold and gifts. They were all about the things of this world. Jesus was NOT. In fact, He said, “My kingdom is not of this world” John 18:36.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

The leaders were all about their rules, even tithing on their spices, but they neglected the more important matters of the law, which were justice and mercy and faith. A gnat was an unclean animal, but very small. The camel also was an unclean animal, but very large. It’s a great analogy that is lost on most Gentiles.

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

Jesus wanted repentance of the heart. All their deeds meant nothing if their hearts were not right with God.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

The religious leaders were all about how they looked and appeared to the public and to each other. Since they set the standard on what was considered holy and righteous, they knew how to look very holy and righteous. Jesus condemned their actions concerning giving to the needy in Matthew 6:1-4, prayer in 5-15, fasting in 16-18, and treasures in 19-21. They were dead inside; they needed His life, His Spirit; Him!

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ 31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

History proved that the religious leaders did the same thing that their forefathers did, which was to kill the Messiah, the Prophet spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:14-19. Jesus would hold them all responsible for all the prophets’ deaths. When? At the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

How about us? Are we continuing on the same path as our forefathers? If they were godly, then let us continue upward. If they were not, then let us forge a new path as we partner with the Spirit, leaning on Him and trusting Him to direct our paths.

Abba, I pray that I would be a devoted follower of You. May I use my fear of what You Could do to motivate me to depend upon Your grace, trusting in what You Won’t do because of Your great love and my devotion to You. Bless me even as I bless You, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 29 3-29-21

Our sin nature wants to fight Jesus for control of our lives. His Spirit will help us relinquish control to Him–if we are willing.

10 The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity and seek to kill the upright.
20b “If they persecuted me [Jesus], they will persecute you also.”

If we think that the fighting was dirty before, consider this verse from Matthew 26:3, “Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.” What had Jesus said or done that could be that bad? This week, we are going to look at the escalation of Jesus’ attacks on the Jewish leadership. The reason for these attacks was two-pronged. First, Jesus wanted the people to know that the leadership was NOT doing things the way God wanted them to, but were unwilling to change. Second, Jesus was prodding them into killing Him (even while holding out redemption to them; see John 10:38)–it was the Plan all along. Here is the first antagonizing teaching.

A Warning Against Hypocrisy

23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

On the surface, this statement seems innocuous enough, but what the teachers of the law were really doing was putting themselves on an equal plane with Moses. They were interpreting the Law according to their own designs. They had rules to control people while they answered to a different set of rules that they made up for themselves. Jesus called them on one of these rules in Mark 7:9-12, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” Jesus then turned the people’s attention to the motives of the teachers of the law:

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries [boxes containing Scripture verses, worn on forehead and arm] wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

To them, it was all a big ego trip. To Jesus, they were either hired hands who didn’t care for the sheep (John 10:12-13) or actual wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). Now, He gives the correct position to have:

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 

The terms, “Rabbi (Teacher),” “Father,” and “Instructor,” are all terms that the religious leaders adored. Lest we get the impression that we are not to use these terms at all, we must understand that a disciple of the Rabbis were to receive and accept whatever the Rabbi taught without question. The other terms carried the same weight. Jesus was saying that they all have one Teacher, Father, and Instructor–Him. Very soon, He would come to live in His believers so that He would abide in them and direct their every step. When? At Pentecost and the Coming of the Holy Spirit. We, too, have that same Spirit in us. Jesus teaches us, and His Father is our Father; the Spirit instructs us and leads each of us as our Partner, our Guide, as one who walks with us every step of the way. We are all His children and on equal footing with Him.

There is nothing too trivial about which He is concerned for us. Why do we fight Him so? The next two verses hold the key to our stubbornness and also the secret to success:

11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

In Jesus’ kingdom, humility trumps pride. In fact, pride undermines all of Christ’s attributes of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It’s not so much that the Father reprimands those who exalt themselves; He doesn’t have to. They will destroy themselves. Likewise, the “reward” for humility is to be loved and adored by those around them. It’s built in!

May we learn to “humble ourselves in the sight of the LORD, and He will lift us up (James 4:10).”

Abba, may this week be special to us as we read Your Word and articles, listen to teachings and sermons, and watch videos and shows to gain a greater perspective about this special week. If I were to choose something to allow to consume me, it would be learning about this holy week. It is the greatest week in history! Show me more, Lord Jesus. This inquiring mind wants to know. Amen.

Proverbs 28 3-28-21

Learning from Jesus is a constant thing. His Spirit speaks to us all the time–if we will take time to listen.

4 Those who forsake instruction praise the wicked, but those who heed it resist them.

During these days of teaching in the temple courts, Jesus shared some wonderful truths. The first was due to a question by one of the experts of the law. Mark 12:32-34 shows that he really was an expert in the law and had a pretty good grasp on its meaning.

The Greatest Commandment

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together [again]. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind [Deuteronomy 6:5].’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself [Leviticus 19:18].’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices [based on 1 Samuel 15:22].”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions. Mark 12:32-34

Since that exchange had stopped them asking questions, Jesus asked them one of His own (asking questions to make their students think and come to the right conclusion was the mode of teaching back then).

Whose Son Is the Messiah?

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
    under your feet [Psalm 110:1].”’

45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions. Matthew 22:41-46

The leading question of Jesus was based upon Isaiah 9:6-7 and Jeremiah 33:17-18. The latter reference gives us one more clue, which is that Jesus is not only King, but High Priest:

17 For this is what the Lord says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel, 18 nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.’”

Of course, we know that it is the sacrifice of Jesus that completed all sin offerings. Hebrews tells us so in Hebrews 9:25-26.

Also, Jesus’ use of Psalm 110:1, which was to them a Messianic verse, identified Him with the Messiah. The question was, “How can the King of David be His son at the same time?” Jesus was giving them an explanation of His coming as a person rather than straight from His throne. But, it wasn’t time for Him to do that, yet. He still had to go to the cross, die, be buried, wait, rise again, appear many times, and then ascend back to His throne. Now, He waits for a word from His Father to come and get His Bride. I can hardly wait!

Abba, as we go to our respective churches this morning, may you place upon each of us an awe of being in Your presence in a special way. When we get together as Your children to praise You and worship You, Your Spirit confirms in each of us first our own salvation and relationship with You, and then the connection we all have with each other through that same Spirit. Bind our hearts together this morning, Lord. Have Your way in us. Be magnified in us and by us, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 27 3-27-21

Serving Jesus is wrapped up in one word, “Whatever.” Why would we be selective in serving?

3 Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but provocation by a fool [he who refuses to submit to authority] is heavier than both.

The religious rulers wanted to serve God their way. When Jesus tried to correct them, they resisted—big time! Twice the powers that be tried to trick Jesus. Twice He turned the tables on them. Jesus was all about changing the way people were thinking about the law, God, and heaven. Let’s look at the Pharisees’ trap first:

Paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar

1Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

  1. The intent was obvious to everyone: The Pharisees and the Herodians wanted Jesus out of the way.
  2. They first appealed to His integrity. They assumed that Jesus would tell the truth. They thought they had Him–little did they know…
  3. The imperial tax was “A special tax levied on subject peoples, not on Roman citizens.” The Jews hated having to pay this tax on top of the regular Roman tax, the temple tax, and their own national tax as well as special taxes imposed by Rome.
  4. They asked for a judgement call from Jesus on this tax. To say, “No, it is wrong,” would have put Him in hot water with the Roman government; to say, “Yes, we need to pay it,” would have put Him at odds with the people.
  5. Jesus knew their minds and the intent of their hearts. He called for a denarius to be brought to Him. We have to assume that one of the Pharisees brought Him the coin. The problem is that it had a picture of Caesar on it as well as the inscription “The Divine Caesar.” It was an idol–and they had brought it into the temple area (see 21:23). Busted!!!
  6. Jesus didn’t call them on the coin. Instead, He specified that we are to give to Caesar what He asks for as leader of Rome and to give to God what God asks of us as Lord of our lives. It’s a valid word for today.
  7. Exit—embarrassed—stage right…

Then, the Sadducees came to trick Jesus with this story:

Marriage at the Resurrection

23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.

  1. The story they told Jesus was based upon Deuteronomy 25:5-6 and was a valid point that was taken to the extreme.
  2. Jesus made a public statement concerning their knowledge of Scripture–or the lack thereof–and the power of God. He schooled them!
  3. Our glorified bodies will be beyond just physical bodies. Our physique and the way it works will not be what we know. Marriage will not be needed. Our intimate knowledge of everyone far outshines the intimacy involved in marriage. Neither will there be any need to procreate. I wish I knew what He meant by “they will be like the angels in heaven.” I can assume that our physical needs and desires will give way to heavenly ones.
  4. Jesus then brought it all home to a correct interpretation of Scripture. He quoted Exodus 3:6 to them. Then He interpreted it for them, “He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” Boom. Mic drop.
  5. The crowds were astonished. The Sadducees were surely embarrassed if not downright ashamed. The gauntlet had been thrown down.

They tried again one more time, but we will have to wait until tomorrow. For today, let’s allow God to interpret Scripture for us. When we read a verse or passage, let’s ask Him to tell us what it means and how to apply it. He may not answer right away, but soon that answer will dawn on us as He shows us. He’s like that.

Abba, may You be my light, my knowledge, my wisdom, my discernment, my understanding, my discretion, and my prudence concerning Your Word. May I heed every instruction that comes from Your lips to my ears. Amen.

Proverbs 26 3-26-21

Do we have the right “robe” of salvation? Are we clothed in the righteousness of Christ? Is He our “Invitation?”

9 Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand [truth] is a proverb [Christ’s invitation] in the mouth of a fool [who refuses to accept it].

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet in Matthew 22:1-14 is a strong indictment against the leaders of Israel. There are also several truths–from my perspective–concerning salvation that we can draw from it. Let’s look at it in sections:

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the stre
et corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

Here is the framework:

  1. Jesus is describing the kingdom of heaven (kingdom of God in Luke 14:15-24).
  2. The King is God and Jesus is the Son. The banquet is found in Revelation 19:7-8 (there was always a banquet with a wedding-see John 2:1-10 for an example).
  3. People gave excuses for not accepting the invitation. Who are these people? The Jews, including the leaders of Israel. It’s everyone who rejects Jesus as Messiah.
  4. The others who are then invited are the Gentile nations. Even Paul said, “Your blood be on your own heads. I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles” Acts 18:6.

Jesus was spelling out the conditions of salvation and the consequences of rejection. He was also prophesying the Gospel being shared with the Gentiles beginning with Cornelius in Acts 10.

But wait–there’s more!

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.
13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Wedding guests were given an outer robe to wear that identified them with the wedding party. This man did not have a wedding robe. What does this mean?!

  1. The King is the one who noticed.
  2. The King called the man, “friend.” It is possible that the King was giving him an opportunity to repent. Jesus used the same reference in His parables; He also called, Judas “friend” at His betrayal (Matthew 26:50), thus (possibly) giving one last chance to repent.
  3. The man was speechless because he thought that his own clothes were good enough. Are our “works” good enough? Can we be righteous enough to stand in the King’s presence? Not without the robe of righteousness given to us by Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21 and Revelation 3:5).
  4. The consequences of the man’s poor choice was to be cast out. Only those with the right robe are allowed to be part of the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb.

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Jesus made it plain in John 12:32 that He calls all people to Himself by His finished work on the cross. The term, “once for all,” is used in Romans 6:10, Hebrews 5:9, 7:27, 9:12, 10:1-2, 10:10, and Jude 1:3. It’s pretty clear that Jesus died Once or All. The condition of salvation is the acceptance of Jesus as Messiah, which means that we pledge our faith and obedience, our lives and even our deaths to Him. The neat part is that we get to do it IN PERSON. Our introduction to Jesus is personal and He is ever-present in us from that point on. Cool, huh?

Let’s renew that vow to Him today by acknowledging His Presence, Participation, Provision, Protection, and Pilotry (the One who pilots our ship) in our lives.

Abba, you are my Pilot, my Messiah. May I subject myself to You in every way today. Amen.

Proverbs 25 3-25-21

Who Jesus is demands a decision. Either we believe Him and follow Him, or we choose to go our own way. The decision is ours, but it IS a decision.

4 Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel; remove wicked officials from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.

Jesus had some wicked officials working in the temple system. His procedure for “cleansing His house” was involved and personal. Let’s look:

The Parable of the Tenants

33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

Jesus isn’t telling a random story. It’s one that the people of Israel knew well. We can read the entire story in Isaiah 5:1-7, but here are some keys verses from that passage:

I will sing for the one I love
    a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard
    on a fertile hillside.
He dug it up and cleared it of stones
    and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it
    and cut out a winepress as well.

Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
    but it yielded only bad fruit.

7 The vineyard of the Lord Almighty
    is the nation of Israel,
and the people of Judah
    are the vines he delighted in.
And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
    for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

As we can see, Jesus is calling them into judgement simply by choosing that story from Isaiah. His version of the story includes the sending of the son, which represents Himself. Notice, also, the conclusion that the listeners come to when He asks them what the owner will do:

40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

Then, Jesus lowers the boom:

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’ [Psalm 118:22-24 a Messianic psalm]?

43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

Jesus was declaring that He is the Cornerstone. We know that the taking away of the kingdom is Him inviting the Gentile nations to become “true Israelites” (Romans 2:28-29), which He implemented at Pentecost (Acts 2). Then He tells them, in true Messiah form, that anyone who falls on Him will be broken to pieces, but anyone on whom He falls will be crushed. I would rather be broken than crushed, how about you?

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet. Matthew 21:33-4

Again, the leaders wanted to arrest Him, but it wasn’t time, yet. That time would come. For us, we will observe the Holy Week beginning this Sunday with Palm Sunday. We will “watch” it all happen through the lens of Scripture and get a sense of the purpose of God. Tomorrow, we look at the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. It’s quite revealing!

Abba, thank You for calling me to fall on You. Break me and then put me back together with Your Holy Spirit so that I look just like Jesus. May I think like Jesus, feel like Jesus, and respond to You just like Jesus. That is my goal for today, Lord. Tomorrow, too. Amen.

Proverbs 24 3-24-21

Are we being honest with Jesus? with ourselves? He knows our hearts whether we mean what we say or not.

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

The next three parables were an indictment to the religious establishment. They show the thoughts and intents of the leaders’ hearts, which was not about serving the Lord, but about serving themselves at the people’s expense. Let’s study the first one.

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind [regretted-NASB, repented-KJV] and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. Matthew 21:28-32

  1. I like the way Jesus began by inviting His listeners to give their opinion. He was in classic Teacher mode.
  2. The first son said that he would not go, but then repented and went. Jesus’ first sermon was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” Matthew 4:17. This son did the will of the Father by repenting and trusting in the Son in order to gain the kingdom of heaven.
  3. The second son said he would go, but then didn’t. We can surmise that Jesus was referring to the religious leaders. The work was to prepare the people for the coming Messiah. Believing in Him was crucial to pleasing God. The religious leaders were all about pleasing God according to the Law–as long as it met their own agenda, which was control of the people and the treasury. In order to stay in control, they had to work with the Roman government. Being obedient to Roman law was one thing, but using their influence and connections to wield power–especially against Jesus–was quite another matter. They didn’t want a Messiah; they wanted to remain in their positions of leadership and power.
  4. In a sense, both sons said “no:” one with his words and the other with his deeds. Both needed to repent, which was Jesus’ point.
  5. “Ahead of you” – Jesus was still talking to the chief priests and the elders of the people from verse 23. He didn’t pull any punches, did He? They wouldn’t answer Him about John the Baptist, so He called them on it: “John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him” v.32. Wow! They would have done better to have answered Jesus and taken their lumps from the people. They were exposed either way!

I wonder what it was like to see the change in tax collectors and prostitutes after they were baptized by John the Baptist, and then to believe in Jesus as Messiah according to John the Baptist’s testimony in John 1:29. How about us? Are we different since we were baptized for believing in Jesus? In order to be like the first son, we must repent of anything that is not in keeping with the leadership of the Holy Spirit (Jesus) in our lives. How do we discern what these things are? By listening to His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:10-18, Isaiah 30:21), reading His Word (Psalm 19:7-11), and then listening again.

Let’s be about the Father’s business today.

Abba, since You called me, I have sought to do Your will–except for those two years in Junior High where I got off-course–and to learn all I can from Your Word. Having a repentant heart is good for me; help me to keep it. May I treasure Your Word as more precious than pure gold and honey from the honeycomb; “by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward,” (Psalm 19:7-11) which is knowing You and partnering with You. You lead; I’ll follow. Amen.

Proverbs 23 3-21-21

We are designed for interaction with the Father, through the Son, in conjunction with the Holy Spirit. Let’s connect with Him.

1 When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what/who 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.

Yesterday, we read about Jesus going to Bethany when He got into Jerusalem. On His way, He passed a fig tree that was in full leaf. The next morning, Jesus stopped by it to pick some fruit, but it didn’t have any. It deceived Him. Here’s what happened:

18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. Matthew 21:18-19

The fig tree was a symbol for Israel (Hosea 9:10). Jesus used the fruitless fig tree to teach the disciples what was going to happen to the Israeli leadership for not believing in Him.

20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.
21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

We know that 40 years later, Israel was subdued and Jerusalem destroyed. Jesus prophesied this destruction with the cursing of the fig tree. The mountain to which Jesus was referring was Mount Zion, the one on which Jerusalem was built. The sea is representative in prophet-speak of a Gentile presence (Rev. 17:15), in this case, Rome. Jesus was saying, “If you believe what the Father tells you, then you will be able to do whatever He tells you to do.” Never are we left to choose on our own. Remember that we were designed for interaction with Him. Jesus Himself said, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” The same goes for us.

When the chief priests and elders of the people questioned Jesus, asking, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?” (Matthew 21:23), Jesus stumped them with their own judgement concerning John the Baptist.

24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

They couldn’t answer because either way, they would have condemned themselves.

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Jesus was not ready for them to arrest Him for blasphemy by claiming outright to be the Messiah. Every human was playing the political game trying to match wits and manipulate circumstances. Jesus had a specific timeline that led to the cross. It wasn’t quite time, so…

Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

Jesus finally did confess that He is the King of the Jews (the Messiah) in Mark 14:62, and, sure enough, they crucified Him for that confession. Jesus quoted straight from Daniel 7:13-14, which identified the Messiah:

13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of mancoming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence [seated with Him]14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped himHis dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

HERE is where Jesus told them from where He got His authority. It Was Time.

Lest we get ahead of ourselves, we still have a few days–and quite a few parables–before Jesus is arrested. Tomorrow, we will look at how Jesus condemned the religious leaders for their selfish actions, their lust for power and prestige, for usurping the praise of men, and for killing the prophets who came to warn them.

Abba, Your Story is, indeed, the greatest story ever told. It’s more than a story; it’s a true account-it’s History! It is His Story, the story of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Oh Jesus, You are marvelous; You are wonderful; You are my Savior and my Lord. You are my All In All. Be Lord of my life today. Reveal Your will, Your way, and Your treasures to me as I study Your Word. Amen.

Proverbs 22 3-22-21

We must drive out the mocker from within ourselves; if not, then we will be driven out (removed from the situation).

22 Drive out the mocker [one who gets angry, caustic, or contemptuous], and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.

Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem on a young donkey and then drove the moneychangers and sellers out of the temple. Why the big deal? Let’s find out!

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” [Zechariah 9:9]
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!” [“save us”
Psalm 118:25]
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” [Psalm 118:26]
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Jesus was announcing His kingship by riding into Jerusalem on a young donkey thus fulfilling the prophecy. The crowds and children were quoting from the Messianic Psalm 118. Everyone knew that Jesus was proclaiming to be the Messiah.

If we read all four Gospels, we find that Jesus went to the temple area and saw what was going on. He then went to Bethany for the night (Mark 11:11), and then came back the next day and cleared the temple of moneychangers and animal vendors. This was not the first time that Jesus cleared the temple; the first time, He made a whip of cords and drove them out (John 2:13-17). Why was it so important for the temple area to be cleared? The answer is in Jesus’ quote, but let’s include the rest of the verse:

“these I will bring to my holy mountain
    and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
    a house of prayer for all nations
.” Isaiah 56:7

The religious leaders had set up a marketplace in the court of the Gentiles, which is the outer area, and were requiring the people to purchase their lambs instead of the ones they brought, and were exchanging their money for temple money at an inflated price. They not only had effectively crowded out the Gentile worshipers, they were cheating everyone who had come to worship! Jesus was restoring everyone’s right to worship, and restoring to the Gentiles their rightful place at God’s banquet table. He did this through His death, burial and resurrection, and the invitation to Cornelius and then the Roman World through Paul and others. In doing so, He fulfilled the Abrahamic Covenant established in Genesis 12:3. It was a BIG DEAL!

If Jesus hadn’t given the religious leaders enough reason to kill Him, they surely had it now! Jesus was confronting their greed and lust for power. The HAD to kill Him if they were going to keep things they way they liked them,

47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our [position in the] temple and our nation.”
John 11:47-48

Jesus was all about restoring God’s people to Himself, which includes Jews and Gentiles. He said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth [crucified], will draw all people to Myself” John 12:32.

Let’s praise the LORD for His marvelous salvation! Let’s worship our Great God and Savior for His wondrous love! Let’s be thankful and bless His name! Let’s give Him our lives as our offering to His greatness.

Abba, blessed be Your name! Thank You for Your wondrous plan to bring to Yourself all who will come. Thank You for giving us the privilege of being a part of Your family. We owe You everything. May we serve You with everything we have and everything we are. Amen.

Proverbs 21 3-21-21

Trusting God for the bigger picture is not easy. It’s what got us messed up in the beginning. It still messes us up!

2 A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.

Seeing Jesus from a Jewish perspective is not easy for us Gentiles. Let’s look at a Matthew 16:21-28 this morning; it will help us understand what Jesus was doing.

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Jesus knew what was going to happen. In fact, the cross was why He came to earth. He tells us as much:

17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:17-18

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour28 Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” John 12:27-28

Get this: Peter rebuked Jesus! I can just see it using the characters on “The Chosen.”

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Peter was just being protective–but then, he may have still had in mind Christ setting up a physical kingdom. It’s all he knew. In fact, there is much that was hidden that the Lord was doing to keep it from the enemy (see Luke 9:45 and 1 Corinthians 2:8). Jesus was not saying that Peter was Satan or that he was being controlled by Satan. He was saying that Peter had his own agenda in mind rather than the Lord’s, which was like Satan.

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Jesus mentioned the cross for the first time. Everyone knew what a cross meant: DEATH. A gruesome one, at that. I suspect that they were taken aback by such strong language. It’s not just a one-time decision, either. We must make it every day. Luke actually adds the word, “daily,” to the passage (Luke 9:23).

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.

To know what Jesus is talking about here, we must look at what happens next, which is the Transfiguration. Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him to the top of a mountain. Jesus was transfigured there back into His heavenly form. God came and enveloped them and spoke about His Son. Peter, James and John tasted heaven. What do you think this experience did for them when they faced prison, exile, being boiled in oil, and death? I personally think that they were excited to get to go back! Paul, who also tasted heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2-4), gave us insight into how it changed his viewpoint about life:

24 However, I consider my [this] life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

We learned yesterday that Jesus is the Messiah. Today we learned what He came to do. Tomorrow, we will begin looking at the fulfillment of His Plan with the Triumphant Entry.

Abba, help us to trust You to have everything worked out for us. How we live for You and how we die for You is entirely up to You. We will trust You to lead us, strengthen us, give us everything we need to serve You, and the faith to die for You. We trust You for the bigger picture, knowing You will be with us always, and I believe Your presence becomes more and more evident as our time draws near. Just to see Your face and stand/bow in Your presence will make it all worthwhile! Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.