Archive for the ‘Proverbs’ Category

Proverbs 26 6-26-19

June 26, 2019

The character of God: Good. We strive to be good. What does that entail? Is it possible to attain? Let’s see…

Before we look at the goodness of God, let’s take a look at the heart of mankind:

24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbor deceit. 25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations* fill their hearts. 26 Their malice may be concealed by deception, but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.

*6:16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community [among the brethren].

When we give our lives to Christ and the Holy Spirit comes to live in us (see Gal. 2:20), He begins the process of sanctification/transformation. Jesus (via the Spirit) teaches us His way, which is the way of God. We learn to be GOOD. But, what does that process entail? Paul describes it:

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

First, we must unlearn what we have learned. We are to put off what we were taught by life and by others, with regard to our former way of life; to put off our old selves, which are being corrupted by their deceitful desires. How were we? Just look at our Proverbs text for the day! Our hearts were deceitful and wicked above all things and beyond cure. Jesus came in and replaced our natural heart with a new heart, one that beats with the rhythm of heaven. It is that heart to which we are attuning our lives.

Second, we are to be made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. This is where we live, learning to be like God.

Before we go any further, let’s get something straight. For Christians, Practice makes PROGRESS, not perfect. Our perfection will not ever be complete until we are out of these old-covenant bodies. It is this final process that makes death so glorious! For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 Until then, we walk with Jesus emulating Him as truth is revealed to us. It’s a continuous and progressive process. Precept upon precept. Somehow, Jesus takes our mistakes that we make out of habit, listening to our old nature, and our ignorance of holiness and works them out for our good.

Sure, it’s messy! Jesus KNOWS this very well. He lived here, remember? But He is already looking forward to our re-creation as we transition to His world and His kingdom. Our hope is not in being perfect in this world, but becoming like the company we keep: Jesus!

Let’s spend today aware of His presence in our lives. Let’s listen to Him as He comments on every thought we have as well as the things that are going on around us. Remember that His voice doesn’t condemn, but rather convicts by shining light on things that need fixing, adjusting, or replacing. He is always pleased with us because we are His. He is always humble and gentle with us and has no expectations of us, only the hope that we will learn to listen to Him and enjoy His company. Everything else will either fall away or fall into place as His character, His GOODNESS, transforms our character into His likeness.

#WalkWithJesus=LJPHG (Love, Joy, Peace, Hope and Grace)

Proverbs 25 6-25-19

June 25, 2019

Good News! God loves us and wants us! Through His Spirit, He has given us everything we need to be like Him!

25 Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.

Jesus brought good news from a distant land (heaven). His good news is that God loves us so much He came in the form of Jesus to live, die and rise again so that we could have eternal life (John 3:16, Phil. 2:5-10). That life is now living in us! Eternity has already begun for those who are in Christ and Christ in them.

Galatians 2:20 gives us the instructions of how to attenuate to God’s leading in our lives:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. This life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Our faith is based upon His promises. Those promises are written down in Scripture. Our attitude is that we have been crucified along with Christ on the cross. We die to ourselves, our wants, desires, wishes, dreams, hopes, cravings, and our temptations so that Christ may live through us. We work to express His character: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22-23), humility (Matt. 11:29), truth (Eph. 5:9), being noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). How? Through obedience and practice. Diligence and repetition are our best teachers. Listen, listen, listen to the Spirit!

How do we hear the voice of God? He is inside us, so it sounds like us. How can we discern between our “voice” and His voice? We base truth on what He has already told us. And what has he told us? He went to the trouble of having it written down for us. It’s the Bible! When we read the Bible, we enter into prayer because the Spirit speaks to us even as we read His words. I will go so far as to say that if a person doesn’t read God’s Word, he will not be able to discern His voice.

“I may listen to a thousand tongues, but I only hear one whisper.” This quote is from a song by First Call (back in the 80’s). We hear His gentle whisper by being becoming attuned to His voice, what He would say and do according to what is written down in Scripture. Today, may we spend time with Him in prayer–reading His Word–and die to ourselves (we ARE crucified, you know) and allow Christ to live through us as we emulate Him.

The Future by First Call

The Future – Lyrics

Proverbs 24 6-24-19

June 24, 2019

Christians live in a divided world. We love our Lord, but we also love this life. Holding tightly to one and loosely to the other is a constant battle.

5 The wise prevail through great power, and those who have knowledge muster their strength. 6 Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.

What power? The power of the Holy Spirit. Whose knowledge? The knowledge of God. Verses 3 and 4 expound His wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Elsewhere in Proverbs:

3:19 By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.

Whose guidance? His guidance. What advisers? There are several directions we can go here. One is the Holy Spirit’s direct input in our minds. Another is the advice of godly people in our lives. Yet another is the wisdom and testimony of those we read in the word of God, people like Noah, Job, Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, John, Paul, etc. We take courage and comfort from their lives and their words, especially Jesus, who shared with us His Plan for us and for the world:

Luke 21:12 …they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.

It sounds like we must give up this life to gain His life, to use this life to grow the other life. EXACTLY! Matthew and Luke quote Jesus twice with this concept, and Mark and John quote Him, too:

Matthew 10:39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. [See 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, 17:33, and John 12:25]

So, what does Jesus offer that is worth giving up this life? Let’s read and find out!

John 17:24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am [as I return to heaven], and to see [and experience] my glory [seated at your right hand], the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

WOW! Keep reading:

Ephesians 2:4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Double WOW! But, wait. There’s more:

Jude 24 To him who is able to keep you from falling [or even stumbling] and to present you before his glorious presence without fault [blameless] and with great joy–25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

Christ’s ultimate goal for us is to be with Him at His throne in heaven. From John, we have Christ’s words to us:

Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

All of a sudden, this life pales in the light of all that Christ as in store for us. Let us cherish all that this life has to offer in relationships, beauty, and love, but be ready to let it go for Christ’s sake when the time comes.

Let’s keep our eyes on Him at all times, staying connected by His Spirit.

“Stand firm, and you will win life.” -Jesus

 

Proverbs 23 6-23-19

June 23, 2019

Take a moment to review your life. Who’s been driving: you or the Lord? The destinations are quite different.

9 Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words. 

19 Listen, my child, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path.

Each of us has a stubborn streak. My hope is that we all learn how to get beyond it to see the truth about life, love, and communication.

Life– All life comes from God. He is CREATOR. I love the fact that science is quickly catching up with Truth. Each new invention allows scientists to discover more and more reasons to discount evolution and believe in a Creator. I call it, “I C (see) Design.” It is based on the Irreducible Complexity of life. The more we see with microscopes and telescopes, the more we find that all of creation started with many working parts all at once. IT’S AWESOME!

Love– Our ability to love comes from God who loved us first and is, indeed, the embodiment of love. His very nature is love. He is CRAZY about us! The judgmental side of God that we see in the Old Testament, the Judge of sin, is NOT the side He wants to express to us. JESUS is “God with Us.” His sacrifice on the cross is God paying the price for our sin and rising from the dead so that we could experience God’s love once again. Now, THAT’S going the distance!

Communication– Learning how to talk to God and to Hear His gentle voice is simple, yet takes a lifetime. Interacting with God helps us interact with each other. He is patient with us, so we learn to be patient with others. He is gentle, so we learn to be gentle with others. And so on. The very fact that we CAN have a walking, talking, working relationship with the God of the Universe is mind-blowing! Vice President Pence knows what I’m talking about. Do you?

I invite you to respond to me concerning any questions or comments you might have, even if they are oppositional. I would love to begin a dialogue with you.

Let’s worship in our respective churches today. He’s worth it.

Proverbs 22 6-22-19

June 22, 2019

Do you have a mocker lurking inside you? Absolutely. We all do! How do we drive him out? Read on…

10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.

The mocker inside us is that part of us that thinks too highly of itself. It holds others and their opinions and even contributions in contempt. It dismisses out-of-hand what other people suggest and usually rebuffs criticism and rebuke even at its own expense.

Pride is the culprit and we all have it. It is at the heart of our sin nature. Oh–you refuse to admit that you have a sin nature? You have just verified the mocker inside you! Admitting that we have a sin nature and that pride is at the center of it allows us to accept Christ’s gift of salvation. He gives us a new template, His life and His words, over which we can lay any scenario or plan to see if it matches His will. We must keep in mind that God’s overall will is for us to be with Him forever, and it begins the moment He comes into our hearts and lives, and doesn’t stop until we are with Him at His throne. Everything points to that end even while He transforms us into the image of Christ.

So, how do we drive the mocker out? The next verse tells us:

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

We must learn to love what Jesus loves. He loves hungry hearts (see Matt.5:6), therefore, let’s be hungry for His words and thirst for His righteousness. He is gentle and humble in heart (see Matt. 11:29), therefore we must learn to be gentle and humble in heart.

Those with whom we hang around have a lot to do with how we are. We must pay close attention to how we become when we are around them.

24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, 25 or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.

Most of the trouble I got into in my life I did with friends. When it’s just God and me, I tend to listen more closely and hear Him more clearly.

The second part is our words. We need to learn to speak with grace, which means that EVERYTHING we say must be run through this filter:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

EVERY word must be building-up words and benefit those who listen. How? By taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). We must hold that thought and ask the LORD what to do with it:

  1. Say it.
  2. Modify it.
  3. Don’t say it at all.
  4. Wait for a more appropriate time.

We CAN do this. We have our whole lives to learn it. If we live until we do, some of us may rival Methuselah!

Let’s work hard to be Christ-like today.

Proverbs 21 6-21-19

June 21, 2019

Complacency is the devil’s best tool. We get comfortable and forget that this world is not our home and that we have an enemy!

4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the unplowed field of the wicked, produce sin!

We love the Lord. We have accepted His gift of forgiveness and received His Spirit. WHY would we want to go back to living life on our own?

We are made body, soul, and spirit. The body is physical, the soul is our minds, and our spirit is, well, spirit. Much like a three-legged stool, we are not much good without all three legs–at equal lengths!

The mind controls the body. What controls the mind is our main concern. We were designed for our spirits to control our minds, which then would control our bodies. What happened? SIN happened and then The Fall. Our spirits died. When Jesus came into our hearts, He resurrected our spirits and filled them with Himself!

Our spirits are much like a balloon that is empty of air. Jesus comes and fills our balloon with His breath of life.

Our spirits can also be likened to walkie talkies with dead batteries. Jesus comes and charges our batteries. Now, we can converse with the Father!

Concerning our verse for today, how are we haughty? We ignore our need for Him to lead us through this life, particularly today. When we quit following the Lord and tell Him that we are just fine right here, where we are and how we are, we have a proud heart.

An unplowed field will raise a crop–of weeds! Thorns and thistles will take over a field quickly. We MUST keep our hearts and minds cultivated through prayer, bible study, and fellowship with other believers. Our walk with Christ must take precedence over daily life. Otherwise, we will become slaves to the tyranny of the urgent and to our own tendencies. Satan WILL fill our time for us if we don’t fill it with walking with God.

We Americans are rich. We have everything we need– and a lot we don’t! We must hold loosely to the things of this world or they will weigh us down. We are in a race and we have a goal: heaven with Jesus! Let’s run with perseverance and tenacity. Let’s be stubborn for Jesus!

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Proverbs 20 6-20-19

June 20, 2019

F.A.I.T.H. Forsaking All, I Trust Him. We must be abandoned to the Savior, the Captain of our ship, our souls.

6 Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?

We claim to know Jesus, but do we follow Him, walking with Him, listening to Him all the time and doing what He says? If this is not our daily experience, then we don’t know Jesus nearly as well as we think!

His intention was to make a way back to the Father through Himself. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is our confirmation. Why would we not take full advantage of His residence in our lives?

Luke gave us two accounts of people responding out of gratitude in not-so-religiously-proprietary ways:

Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. Luke 7:36-38

She broke many social rules by doing what she did. She also invested a lot of money in this action, because perfume was expensive (see Matthew 26:9).

The other is when Jesus healed 10 lepers. He told them to go to the priest for the ritual of being declared clean. As they walked away,

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:15-16

I see this man as a foreshadowing of our worship. He was a Samaritan, so he couldn’t go to the Jewish priests. Who else did he have than the One who healed him? We are that way. Who else do WE have but Jesus?

Let’s be extravagant in our worship of Him today. Let’s get outside our religious box and lavish our gratitude on Him. Let’s abandon ourselves to Jesus!

I’m abandoned by Steve Fry

Proverbs 19 6-19-19

June 19, 2019

It’s never too late to come back to the Father. He loves us and has forgiven us in Christ. He restores us!

3 A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD.

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

12 A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass.

Solomon didn’t know it, but he was describing the process of salvation/restoration. Jesus put it in the form of a parable (a story):

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. Luke 15:11-24

Notice the things that were given to the errant son upon his arrival back home:

  1. The ring of authority.
  2. The robe of family.
  3. The sandals of sonship.

Because of the Father’s great love, His child was forgiven before he ever got home- maybe even when he came to his senses and forgave himself. When He did get home, the Father restored him! THIS is the kind of heavenly Father we have!

Lets rejoice today in His great love and serve Him out of the gratitude that is in our hearts.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

A Man and His Sons

Proverbs 18 6-18-19

June 18, 2019

There’s more to being a Christian than just praying a prayer and going to church. It’s about walking with Him and becoming like Him.

15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.

The sequence given in 2 Peter 1:5-7 is faith (believing the promises of God and basing our lives on them), goodness (the character of God), knowledge (if we are wise and discerning), self- control (acquired over time and persistence), perseverance (try and try again), godliness (being like God in manner and thought), mutual affection (brotherly love), and love (a soft heart toward all people).

The purpose of the sequence is to make us effective and productive in our knowledge of Christ (verse 8).

The problem I see among Christians is what I call The Great Disconnect. It’s what happens when we love Christ with our words, but His commands never quite make it to our actions.

I have heard that Buddhists may receive Christ willingly enough, for they believe in many gods. They just add Christ to their collection. But Christ turned to those who followed Him and gave them an ultimatum:

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh [become obedient to Him] of the Son of Man and drink his blood [receive His sacrifice], you have no life in you. John 6:53

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:25-27

Even though positionally we are safe in Christ, relationally we are always struggling to die to self and live for Christ. We LEARN to be like Him. It’s that KNOWLEDGE part of the sequence.

Let’s get serious today about following Christ. Let’s turn from our own desires and doing things our own way and turn to Him for direction and fulfillment. May we consider how the Spirit is leading us before we say or do ANYTHING today.

Proverbs 17 6-17-19

June 17, 2019

Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make progress. It involves evaluation and correction. Are we willing?

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

What do a laboratory, an obstacle course, a batting cage, and a family have in common? They are all places of experimentation and practice. We have the goal: peace, and the problem: strife.

God works within our circumstances. He allows for our choices and the choices of others, yet somehow guides history. HE’S A BIG GOD! He is much more interested in our interaction with each other than He is getting us out of whatever situation we are in.

I heard a sermon the other day that dealt with this interaction. Matthew 15:1-20 was the text. We will look at the last four verses.

17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man [person] ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’” Matthew 15:17-20

To be unclean was to be impure; it can be interpreted as unprepared. When we address the Lord, are we prepared in our minds to receive His fellowship? His counsel? His direction?

What do we do with impure thoughts? We know that they originate in our hearts, which are exceedingly wicked, selfish, and fickle (see Jer. 17:9), and come to us as feelings. We must learn to take these feelings and run them through the filter of the Holy Spirit as we read His Word and pray.

2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Let’s work toward peace in our homes, our jobs, and at church- everywhere! – by renewing our minds and “taking each thought captive making it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:5. Let’s consider others first rather than demanding our own way. It’s the Christ-like thing to do. Only then will we be able to create an atmosphere of peace- as far as we are concerned.

Here is our goal: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Practice, practice, practice. We are to be lovingly obstinate. Love is patient and kind. It is never rude. But, love never fails, either. It never gives up and it works to never give in to unclean thoughts and people.

Let us never fail to love.