Ever been through the fire? Jesus can relate. He’ll walk with you through whatever you’re going through.

The tenth and last thing I would like for Graduating Seniors to know is:

Remember that the Lord is always with you and will never leave you.

There is great assurance in knowing that Jesus will never leave us. We have His promise personally and from His Word,

20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

But, what do we do when we can’t feel Him? or see Him at work? or hear His voice? What do we do when our lives take an unexpected turn? We remember:

  • There is nothing happening that has caught God by surprise. Many times in our lives, He allows circumstances to play out according to peoples’ choices, our choices, or according to the natural “dying” state of our world. But, it doesn’t mean that He is not with us, holding us, caring for us, and even carrying us through the nightmare that we may be living through.
  • God has our best at heart. But, if we will remember, our best is not in this world. He has SO MUCH MORE in store for us on His side of life. Maybe we need to refocus…
  • God always answers our prayers. Sometimes, it’s “Yes,” which means that He answered them the way we wanted Him to; sometimes, it’s “no,” which means that there is something bigger going on that we can’t see (see Romans 8:28); sometimes, it’s “wait.” That’s a hard one, but it’s probably the way He answers us the most. Why? Because timing is everything, and His timing is perfect while ours is not. He sees the whole picture while we are stuck with our faces up against it.

Even Jesus asked the question, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). When we look at Psalm 22, we see Jesus was quoting this Davidic psalm,

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

The difference between Him and us is that He knew the end of the story. Verse 24 says,

24 For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

Jesus knew that our circumstances can sometimes blind us to seeing His Presence around us, deafen us from hearing Him speaking to us, and overwhelm our senses so that we cannot feel His Presence in us. What we need to do is remember what He has told us in His Word. Then, we go to Him in prayer and lay our requests at His throne. Here are some verses that tell us what He will do:

16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Of course, the more we know of His Word, the better we can remember His promises. I learned yesterday that reading His Word is the listening part of prayer. I encourage you to read His Word with Him daily. Commit special verses like these to memory. Trust me, you WILL use them!

Abba, thank You for Your Words of comfort and assurance. May we, indeed, commit them to memory so that they come quickly to mind in our times of need. Thank You for Your promise of peace, mercy, and grace when we need them so direly. You are a wonderful, gracious, and loving God. We love You, Jesus! Amen.


When a decision has to be made, it’s time to seek the Lord. But, it helps to be in regular contact with Him beforehand.

Continuing our jump back in time to around 1993, we are perusing the music from a project that Randy (my brother) and I did in our neighbor’s garage with just a recorder, microphones and Randy’s guitar. This song is an original of mine. I wrote it as I was considering and praying about moving from Highland Park in Bartlesville to FBC, Borger, Texas. Click the title to go to the link that has all the songs, including this one:


Coming to a crossroad; which one do I choose?
The road till now has been safe and narrow; now I feel my way I’ll lose.
One road holds security, it’s like the one I’m on;
The other stirs curiosity, of something just beyond.

But I have to stop and listen to the voice that speaks inside,
It is the voice of Jesus and His will I will abide;
It’s the sound of music in mine ear calling, “Come and walk with Me,”
I will soothe the beating of your heart and calm your stormy sea.”

Oh, Jesus, I will come to Thee,
I lay before You all that is within me,
For my life is crucified with Christ and the life that I now live
is by faith in the Son of God; to Him my life I give.

Coming to the crossroad; which one will I choose?
Not the one to fame and fortune if it means His gentle voice I’d lose.
My desire is to do His precious will,
And I want to be where He’s leading me,
For it’s there with Him God’s plan will be fulfilled.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:26, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Looking back 31 years ago (really?!!!), Robin and I have followed the Lord through some feasts and famines, some wonderful places and some arid places, but He has been faithful to walk with us through them all with amazing and wonderful people along the way, and the fellowship we share together and with Him is something that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Abba, thank You for calling me to Your ministry and for allowing me to be Your hands and feet and voice. I also thank You for the wonderful and perfect helpmeet, Robin. She has been instrumental in who I am and for the caliber of our ministry. May we keep our eyes fixed on You, the Author and the Finisher of our faith and our journey through this life. Amen.


Jesus summed up the Law and the Prophets (our Old Testament) in two commands. Let’s look:

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

Jesus was God’s greatest act of love for us that He could show.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Matthew said love was our highest priority according to Jesus. What was Jesus trying to get us to understand? “God is love.” John tells us twice in his first letter (1 John 4:8, 4:16). This love is more than just a feeling. It is also compassion. It is putting the needs of others before oneself. It is forgiving when asking for forgiveness will never come. Being like God is acting and thinking like God. His Spirit is in us; we simply need to listen to Him. John also said,

If anyone has this world’s goods and sees a fellow believer in need but withholds compassion from him—how does God’s love reside in him? 1 John 3:17

How do we generate compassion? Well, we don’t. It is given to us by the Spirit. Our job is to allow it to take root and grow. We don’t even have to feel compassionate; we just meet the other person’s needs. The feelings with which we need to be concerned are wrapped up in our obedience to the Father. When we stand next to Him, we experience the waterfall of His grace; we are bathed in His love, joy and peace; we are given mercy and hope. These are the feelings for which we strive.

As we continue looking at Passion Week, Jesus was near the end of His earthly ministry. He told His disciples, ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Folks, it doesn’t get any plainer than this. If you want to be like God, then love. If you want to be like Christ, then love. If you have the Holy Spirit in you, then you have everything you need to be like God and Jesus.

Let’s do this!

Abba, You are LOVE. You love rightly. Perfectly. Boldly. Radically. May we be just like You as we “love each other deeply” (1 Peter 4:8). Amen.

Proverbs 3-1-23

Assumptions are made. I get that. But when they have been proven wrong, those assumptions need to change.

Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools… Romans 1:22

Answers in Genesis put out a little booklet called, “10 Best Evidences from Science That Confirm a Young Earth.” We will be looking at those 10 best evidences.

#1 Very Little Sediment on the Seafloor

If sediments have been accumulating on the seafloor for three billion years, the seafloor should be choked with sediments many miles deep.
Every year, water and wind erode about 20 billion tons of dirt and rock debris from the continents and deposit them on the seafloor. Most of this material accumulates as loose sediments near the continents. Yet, the average thickness of all these sediments globally over the whole seafloor is not even 1,300 feet.
Some sediments appear to be removed as tectonic plates slide slowly (an inch or two per year) beneath continents. An estimated 1 billion tons of sediments are removed this way each year. The net gain is thus 19 billion tons per year. At this rate, 1,300 feet of sediment would accumulate in less than 12 million years, not billions of years.
This evidence makes sense within the context of the Genesis flood cataclysm, not the idea of slow and gradual geologic evolution. In the latter stages of the year-long global flood, water swiftly drained off the emerging land, dumping its sediment-chocked loads offshore. Thus most seafloor sediments accumulated rapidly about 4,300 [-5,100] years ago.
An additional problem for the old-earth view is that no evidence exists of much sediment being subducted and mixed into the mantle.

Another assumption made is about the sediment from the 13 great rivers of the world. Where they dump into their respective oceans should be vast amounts of sediment built up over the ages. Instead, there’s enough there for about 4,300-5,100 years–and that’s all 13 rivers!

Tomorrow: #2 Bent Rock Layers

Abba, as we look at these clues into our past, may we see Your glory in them. Even when talking about the Global Flood, the glory is not in the flood, but in the fact that You spared this earth. It nearly split apart! Help us to keep open minds and open hearts so that we can hear Your Spirit speak to us. Amen.

Proverbs 2-1-23

Jesus fulfilled over 350 prophecies. Some are clear and some are cloaked. What’s the difference? Let’s look!

J. Warner Wallace talks about “clear” and “cloaked” evidence in his book, “Person of Interest.” As a forensic investigator of cold cases, he works with “clear” evidence that “points specifically to a suspect with great clarity–fingerprints or DNA evidence, for example” (pages 50-51).

Some evidence, however, is less clear. “Cloaked” evidence is often confusing–it may not point to the suspect at all. Imagine finding a button at [a] crime scene, lying on the floor a few feet from the victim’s body. Does this belong to the suspect or to the victim? Did it arrive here as a result of the crime, or was it lying in the room before the crime occurred? The button may be useful evidence, or it may be a useless artifact. We won’t know for sure until we meet the suspect.
If one of the suspect’s shirts is missing a button that matches the one at the crime scene, this piece of evidence will become an important part of our case. While “clear” evidence points to the suspect from the onset (before he is contacted), “cloaked” evidence points to the suspect only in hindsight (after he is identified).

The same is true concerning prophecy. We have “clear” prophecy that speaks directly about Jesus and “cloaked” prophecy that is revealed in hindsight. Isaiah 9:6-7 is an example of “clear” prophecy:

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

Isaiah 53:2-3 (and the entire chapter) is an example of “cloaked” prophecy:

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

  • The Isaiah 9 passage speaks in future tense while the Isaiah 53 passage speaks in past tense.
  • The Isaiah 9 passage speaks of government, God, and David’s throne while the Isaiah 53 passage speaks of the suffering of the Messiah–a message that was, and still is, rejected by Israel’s leaders, thus leading many Israelis astray.

The apostles used the Old Testament Scriptures to confirm their claim that Jesus is the Messiah. Peter said, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11). They used the prophets as their main argument. Those prophets were Moses, Samuel, Daniel, Isaiah, Micah, Hosea, Malachi, Zechariah, David and Jeremiah. They all prophesied about the coming Messiah (see Mission Addiction: Ten Prophets and Prophecies that Point to Jesus). ALL of their prophecies came true in Jesus. In fact, “the gospel writers cited OT prophecy fifty-six times to demonstrate that Jesus was the Messiah, with nearly 300 more they could have used.

Tomorrow, we will look at Daniel’s prophecies and how Jesus fulfilled every one of them.

Abba, each time I read the prophecies about Jesus, I am amazed at Your great love that You showed by telling us beforehand what was going to take place. I just wish more people would believe You! May Your Spirit move across our land and this globe and ignite a spark and fan into flame Your Church, O God. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done even as it is in heaven. Amen.

Proverbs 1 1-1-23

Resolutions…who needs them? We do!

24 However, I consider my 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

Paul had a resolution; it was to complete the task the Lord Jesus had given him. From the time that Paul made this statement, he testified in courts, in Jerusalem, on a ship, on an island, in Rome, and finally before Nero Caesar, who, according to tradition, had him beheaded.

Jesus had a resolution, too. The writer of Hebrews tells us about it,

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
    but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
    I have come to do your will, my God.’”

Interesting note: The writer attributes these verses to Jesus, but they were originally penned by David in Psalm 40:6-8–from the Septuagint (LXX). The resolution is in verse 7, “I have come to do your will, my God.” The LXX has this as the next line in that verse, “And Your law in the midst of my heart.” Jesus kept His resolution all the way to the cross. The LXX has a footnote concerning this psalm (which is Psalm 39 according to its count),

Psalm 39 is a prophecy of the Incarnation (vv. 7-9 [6-8 in MAS*]; see also Hebrews 10:5-7). In His Incarnation, the Lord assumed a mortal body (v.7 [6]) and a rational soul. But here the body is emphasized, because man’s body is mortal and subject to death and decay in the grave (a miserable pit, v.3 [2]). So by His death in the body, Christ destroyed death, and by His Resurrection (brought me up and a rock, v.3 [2]), He overcame the decay that held man’s body in the grave. He was able to do all this because of the two wills in His one Person. For He willed (v.9 [8]) by His human will and energy. And the phrase Your will (v.9 [8]) shows that He possessed within Himself the same will and energy as God the Father, because He is “one in essence” with Him (Creed). Therefore, by means of His two wills and energies, He destroyed death and decay, and put a new song in the mouth of the Church (v.4 [3]).

What is our resolution? Ted Shimer, in his book, “The Freedom Fight,” page 277, says,

“According to the Bible, the follower of Christ is to have a threefold vision:

  1. to know Christ (Matthew 22:37-38),
  2. to be like Christ (Romans 8:29),
  3. and to make Christ known (Matthew 28:19-20).”

May we all take this vision and make it our resolution for the new year.

Abba, I hereby officially make this vision my resolution for this year. I want to know You closer and better, I want to be like You in thought as well as deed, and I want to make You known to anyone and everyone in my sphere of influence. May it be so, O Lord. Amen.

*MAS-Masoretic Text; it’s what most of our Bibles have. For more information on the LXX and the MAS, go to Proverbs 4 12-4-22 and Proverbs 18 12-18-22.

Proverbs 1 11-1-22

Why is it important to study the Old Testament? Because it is where we get the foundation for the Gospel. To know one, we must know both.

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 [Old Testament] Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11

As we continue our look at the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament, there is a shift from God and His chosen people, Israel, to God and Christians. As anti-sematic as this sounds, Jesus’ call was first to the Jews and then the Gentiles (Romans 1:16) to make a new person out of the two groups (Ephesians 2:14-16); this new person is anyone who follows Him. Let’s look at the New Covenant:

New Covenant: Between God and Christians 

The system of animal sacrifice lasted hundreds of years, but even so, it was only temporary. Out of love, God the Father sent his only Son, Jesus, into the world. This new covenant would resolve the problem of sin once and for all.

For three years, Jesus taught throughout Israel about the kingdom of God and his role as Messiah. To support his claim as Son of God, he performed many miracles, even raising three people from the dead. By dying on the cross, Christ became the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice whose blood has the power to wash away sin forever (1 John 1:7).

The new covenant could have begun in the upper room at the Lord’s Supper when He took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20), at Jesus’ crucifixion when Christ’s blood was poured out, upon His resurrection when death was defeated, or at Pentecost with the coming of the Holy Spirit and founding of the Christian Church. Regardless, the new covenant was established between God and the individual Christian (John 3:16), with Jesus Christ serving as mediator.

Besides serving as the sacrifice, Jesus also became the new high priest (Hebrews 4:14-16, 7:24-25). Instead of physical prosperity, the new covenant promises salvation from sin and eternal life with God. As high priest, Jesus constantly intercedes for his followers before his Father in heaven (He IS the intercession). Individuals may now approach God themselves; they no longer need a human high priest to speak for them, for the Father Himself loves us (John 16:26-27).

Like I said earlier, to know one (the New Covenant), we must know the other (the Old Testament). Without knowing about sacrifices, we would not understand what Jesus did for us on the cross. we simply wouldn’t have a reference point.

Abba, we ask that You turn our hearts toward Your entire message, which includes both Old and New Testaments (or Covenants). Just as Abraham and Isaac on the mountain was a foreshadow of You and Your Son, You were teaching Your people all along what the New Covenant would look like. For us Gentiles, we trusted You and then are learning about the promises, where the Jews know the promises, but are having a tough time trusting You. May You turn their hearts toward Jesus, O Lord. We ask it in Jesus’ name, amen.

Proverbs 1 10-1-22

When I read John 3:16, I ask God, “Do you really love me?” He answers, “Yes! More than you can imagine!”

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

I’m a pretty simple guy. If something looks right, feels right, and is vetted, then I’m good with it and will adjust to whatever it is rather than trying to manipulate it into something that fits what I want. Take, for instance, Genesis 1-11. These chapters tell us where we came from and the early years of our ancestry. When I say “vetted,” I’m talking about being able to back up what is being offered. Let’s look at some facts:

  • The text is written in Hebrew and is in narrative form, not poetic form, so it’s not metaphoric in nature, but literal truth.
  • To believe that God CAN create the heavens and the earth, I must believe that He can do it in an instant; six days is nothing to a God that big.
  • More and more, science is finding out:
    • That time works differently in space, so we cannot use star light as a chronometer for how old the universe is (when away from gravitational influence, time speeds up considerably).
    • Most astronomers do not believe in the Big Bang theory anymore because of its inherent problems that cannot be reconciled. In fact, many concede in a Master Design, although they will not admit to a Master Designer (weird, huh?).
    • Mount St. Helens pretty much proved that the Grand Canyon could be created in days (one about a 50th of the size was created in hours in Washington).
    • The moon’s surface and the floor of the ocean do not have NEARLY enough dust/residue on them to be more than a few thousand years old.
    • All thirteen of the earth’s major rivers, where they empty into their respective bays or oceans, have only enough sediment to account for about 4,000 years.
  • Jesus proved the historicity of Adam and Eve:
    • He mentions them in Matthew 19:4, “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’”
    • In order for Jesus to be our representative and take upon Himself the penalty of sin, which is death, Adam had to be our first representative–and a real person–concerning sin, “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—” Romans 5:12. “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” Romans 5:15. “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” Romans 5:17.
    • The Coming of Messiah was foretold in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you [the serpent, i.e. Satan] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

There is much more evidence, but I think I’ve made my point. There’s quite a bit of the OT that I don’t understand, but I do know that if I need to understand, the Spirit will enlighten me.

I mentioned John 3:16 and my question at the beginning of this post. There is something else the Spirit does for me when I ask Him if He loves me: He brings to mind other verses where He has told me how much He loves me. Two, in particular come to mind:

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

We validate Scriptural truth with Scripture. It sounds like circular reasoning, but it’s not because the Bible as we now have it was written over a period of 1500 years, by 40 authors, in several countries, in three languages, and from people in all walks of life. It must be one cohesive story–and it is!

So, do I believe that God loves me? You bet I do! He told me so, both in His Word and in my heart.

Abba, thank You for loving me! You have made it plain every day of my life, although there was a time when I wasn’t looking for it, and others when I couldn’t see it because I was looking at the wind and the waves. I’ve learned since then to keep my eyes fixed and focused on You, because You are the Author and Perfecter, the Beginner and the Ender, of my faith. Keep talking to me, Lord; I’m listening. Amen.

Proverbs 1 9-1-22

Loving God and loving others pretty much sums up the two greatest commandments.

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

Psalm 139:23-24 has been a favorite passage of mine for quite a while. It’s a great memory verse and is a good way to begin my quiet time with the Lord in the mornings.

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

It’s a very personal passage between my Father and me. The first part is about my heart and thoughts and my making them accessible to Him. It’s not that He does not know them already, but if I let Him, He will help me sort them out. It’s part of our relationship and the fellowship we share. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

It’s the “any offensive way in me” that has gotten me to thinking lately. My traditional interpretation of this line is that it pertains to the parts of me that are offensive to God. But, that is not how God sees me. He sees me as a little child (Matthew 11:25), as a lamb without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). He has compassion on me and loves me. He wants us to come to Him with no fear (Matthew 11:28-30, 1 John 4:18).

So, if it’s not an offensive way in me, then what is it? Could it be about how I treat others? Am I offensive to those around me? Jesus puts great stock in how we treat others. He even said that if we were not willing to forgive those who sin against us, then the heavenly Father would not forgive us (Matthew 6:14). Basically, we set the curve for our own forgiveness. Also, we are most like Jesus when we serve others (Matthew 20:28).

Now, when I read this passage on my card every morning and quote it to the Father, I am asking for Him to be Lord of my life and to show me how to love others. It’s a daily thing. Try it sometime. I think you will find it very cathartic.

Abba, You know my heart. You know what I need and what I need to get rid of. I am trusting You to guide me today (Psalm 73:23-24). May I give all I know of myself to all I know of You today. Teach me to set myself aside and love others as You love them. It’s important to You, therefore it’s important to me. Loving others is one of the best ways to love You. Amen.

Proverbs 1 8-1-22

I see God in Irreducible Complexity. Today, we begin a journey through the human body and its intelligent design.

7 The fear [and reverence] of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.*
*fool-a person who is gullible, without moral direction and inclined to evil. NIV

One of the things I like about science is that the more we know, the more the Bible makes sense. For instance, when Darwin made his case concerning Evolution, the idea in 1843 was that the human cell was a dark blob of matter. Since then, we know that cells are complex critters that require 23 main parts to interact at one time in order for the cell to live and work and grow. Inside those main parts are many other parts, such as DNA, which is made up of billions of bits of information, and RNA, the part of DNA that builds cells. The question is, which came first: The cell or RNA/DNA? We can’t have one without the other. Hence, Irreducible Complexity.

One Saturday last year, I got a set of pocket guides from Answers in Genesis at a conference. One of them was, A Pocket Guide to the Human Body. It is amazing! We will be spending the next several posts walking through some of the information in this guide. Today, we BEGIN a look at the brain.

The brain has some autonomic (automatic) functions that run the body, but it is adaptable in each of the areas of its control. It is how we learn. Here is a quote from the book on how the brain is laid out.

The neurons that control our senses and motor skills are arranged into an orderly map in the brain, called a homunculus (see pic).

For example, the neurons responsible for touch are laid out in a three-dimensional sequence in the brain, known as a spatial trajectory. If two parts of the body, such as the thumb and index finger, are located next to each other physically, they also have corresponding neurons that are next to each other in the brain. So when scientists attempt to map the sensory neurons in the brain, they find neurons that respond to stimulation of the thumb next to neurons that respond to stimulation of the index finger and so on. The same holds true for neurons that control muscle movement.
Although the neurons in the brain mirror the arrangement of the body parts, they do not mirror the relative size of the body parts. For example, while our arms and legs are much larger than our thumb and lips, they occupy much less space in our brain. The fingers need more space because they require so many more neurons to control fine motor skills and delicate sensations.

So, the more we practice, say, the piano or baseball, the more adapted to the movements used we become. Pretty neat, huh?

Computers are based upon how a brain works–although I’m not sure that computers were designed to work like brains–and they both have a limited amount of space. Information = neurons = space. We have a limited capacity based upon the number of neurons in our brains. Tomorrow, we will look at how the brain decides what to keep and what to remove–all without us being aware it’s going on!

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

If we can trust God to build our bodies to function,
we can trust Him with our daily decisions, too.

Abba, may You teach us to trust You in all things. Discovering the amazing construction of our bodies teaches us how to trust You with our daily lives. May we love You all the more for being such a Master Designer and Creator–our Creator. Amen.

Proverbs 7-1-22

If we were to sum up the early Christians’ response to government, it would be non-compliance. How did they do it?

2:33 but whoever listens to me [the Spirit] will live in [spiritual] safety and be at ease, without fear of harm [death].

Patient endurance is a truly Christian trait. It requires knowing what is waiting on the other side of the trial. In passing through the valley of the shadow of death, we always know that green pastures are at the end of the valley. We also have a Good Shepherd who will see us through to those pastures. Here are some verses that speak of patient endurance,

If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 2 Corinthians 1:6

I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. Revelation 1:9

10 “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go.
If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.”
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.
Revelation 13:10

12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. Revelation 14:12

I found it interesting that Revelation, which was written to First Century Christians, speaks of patient endurance three times. That’s quite a theme, especially during a time of such trial. What gives Christians hope is knowing that death has been conquered and Jesus will see us through to the other side. There is one more passage that speaks of great patience and endurance that sums up the Christian’s life in Christ. It is Colossians 1:9-14,

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Tomorrow, we will parse this passage by discovering its implications and uncovering a deeper meaning (the definition of “parse”).

Abba, we pray for patient endurance. The things most of us go through on a daily basis are not considered real trials. May we compare our trials to those of the early church and realize that we are extremely blessed. At the same time, each person’s trials are the world’s worst to him or her because it’s all he or she knows. May each of us learn to believe Your promises and trust You to lead us home. Amen.

Proverbs 1 6-1-22

Made in God’s image and worth saving: That’s who we are to God. Also, we are counted dead to sin with Christ.

7 The fear of the LORD [understanding who He is and who we are in relation to Him–we are His children!] is the beginning of knowledge…

Yesterday, we looked at the first of two truths that shed light on Romans 6:11, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” One is that we are made in God’s image. The other is that in Christ, we are counted as dead so that death no longer holds power over us. We found that God loves us dearly and would not abandon us to our corruptible fate. Instead, He rescued us! Today, we look at the second truth and how He rescued us.

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.

Again, from Athanasius:

1. Although being himself powerful and the creator of the universe, he prepared for himself in the Virgin the body as a temple, and made it his own, as an instrument, making himself known and dwelling in it.

A temple is wherever God lives (manifests Himself), so when God took up residence in a baby, that baby’s body became a temple of God. “Immanuel” means, “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14). We, too, are temples of God the Holy Spirit, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

2. And thus, taking from ours that which is like, since all were liable to the corruption of death, delivering it over to death on behalf of all, he offered it to the Father, doing this in his love for human beings,

In God’s love, Jesus gave Himself over to death–but, He did not see corruption! (see Psalm 16:10)

3. so that, on the one hand, with all dying in him the law concerning corruption in human beings might be undone (its power being fully expended in the lordly body and no longer having any ground against similar human beings), and,

Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He rose from the dead.

4. on the other hand, that as human beings had turned towards corruption he might turn them again to incorruptibility and give them life from death, by making the body his own and by the grace of the resurrection banishing death from them as straw from the fire.

Death is the consequence of rebellion. Mankind has lived in rebellion since Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden. Jesus vanquished death and now seeks to turn mankind back to Himself, to incorruptibility (no more fear of death), and to walk in the light of His love.

Because Jesus died for all, it’s as if we have already died. It’s simply a matter now of turning from darkness to His light, a shedding of the old person and taking on the new person. Paul said in Ephesians 4:22-24,

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.

In death, we became finite–but, so did sin! We could not go beyond death, but neither could sin. Jesus did, and He takes us with Him beyond death, beyond sin!

Paul says in Colossians 3:3, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” And, 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.” Have we realized the fullness of new life, yet? No, but we surely will when these bodies die. In the meantime, we consciously put off our rebellious ways and walk in step with Jesus. Daily. Hourly. Continuously. If we get out of step, He helps us get back into step. The Christian life really is that simple. It’s all about our personal relationship with Jesus.

Abba, living dead to the world but alive to You is difficult because our eyes deceive us and our feelings betray us. May we come to You every day so that You can give us new sight, spiritual sight. Renew a right spirit within us, O Lord. We need You every hour, every minute of every day. Amen.

Proverbs 1 5-1-22

The interaction of Jesus in our lives is paramount. He has removed all barriers. All we have to do is turn to Him and trust.

1:23 Repent [turn and think differently] at my rebuke [words that are contrary to what you currently know and think]! Then I will pour out my heart to you, and make Myself known to you.

Luke wrote his Gospel between the dates of A.D. 58 and A.D. 65. It was a difficult time for Christians back then, enough so that Luke gave us a code name for disciples of Jesus: “Servants of the Word.” Here’s what he said,

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Luke 1:1-2

Another place where Jesus is referred to as the Word is John 1:12,

14 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.

Yet another place is Hebrews 4:12,

12 For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Some translations add “it” after “sword,” but that changes the meaning of the verse. The original does not have “it” in the sentence, thus indicating that the Word of God is Jesus, just like He is in Luke and John.

So, as we read our Bibles, listen for His voice; look up the Hebrew and Greek; see what the early church fathers had to say about Jesus’ words. Compare; contrast; inquire of Him. It’s what He’s wanted all along: Interaction.

Abba, thank You for wanting interaction with us. Thank You for clearing out all obstacles that keep us from seeing You. I’m reminded of the Keith Green song, “O Lord, You’re Beautiful,”

O Lord, You’re beautiful, Your face is all I seek;
And when Your eyes on on this child, Your grace abounds to me.

Of course, Your eyes are always on Your children. I take great comfort in that. Amen.

Proverbs 1 4-1-22

Encountering Christ first-hand is life-changing. Without this encounter, Christianity is just a set of rules.

33 Whoever listens to me will live in safety (of soul) and be at ease (in heart), without fear of harm (from God or anyone).

My SS class knows that I have several favorite Bible verses. My newest one is John 18:5,

“Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.)

My footnote for “I am he” reads,
18:5b Or “The ‘I am’ is here”; or “I am the Lord”; Greek reads I am; also in 18:68.

“I AM” is the name God told Moses when Moses asked God whom he should say sent him (see Exod 3:14). What happens when people are face-to-face with God? Let’s read the next verse and see:

When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

Everyone? Everyone! Even Judas. It makes me wonder if everyone falls to the ground in the presence of Jesus. Oh! That reminds me of another set of my favorite verses,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:10-11

So, if everyone will fall to their knees and confess Jesus is Lord, then will they do so willingly or unwillingly? What about those who have never heard the name of Jesus in this life? What about those who only know the Jesus they have been presented (a distorted image of Jesus)? The character of God precludes Him sending anyone to hell without a chance to know Jesus. In fact, does He send anyone at all? Is it not a choice that people make when they reject Him?

When I consider Saul (later to be called Paul) on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19), I get a pretty good picture of what a murderer would do when he meets Jesus face-to-face. His words were, “Who are You, Lord?” Saul had been persecuting Christ’s church and was on his way to Damascus to do the same, but Jesus didn’t hammer him; instead, He introduced Himself to Saul, “I am Jesus, the One whom you are persecuting.” There was no accusation or judgment in His statement, only truth. Then, Jesus told Saul what to do next, “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Saul was His from then on.

It was dangerous for the early Christians to share their faith openly. They relied on Jesus to bring people into His flock Himself. You know what? By the year 300 A.D. it is estimated that half the Roman Empire was made up of Jesus followers! Even today, Jesus is revealing Himself to people of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds. See More Than Dreams.

Let’s pray for more people to encounter Jesus in their dreams. Let’s pray for His Church to keep advancing. Let’s pray for a worldwide awakening to the Good News of Jesus Christ!

Abba, You are, indeed, building Your kingdom–one person at a time! It is very freeing to realize that You don’t need us to tell people about You, but You love for us to join You in the process. May we count it a privilege (not a duty) to join You in where You are working. Amen.

Proverbs 1 3-1-22

Understanding the Trinity helps us understand that Jesus was God walking on this earth–in a human body!

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

As we were looking at Revelation 1:4-8 yesterday, there was a phrase concerning the Spirit that was a little unsettling. Let’s look at it:

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. 

A person could conclude that there are actually seven spirits around the throne, and it could be, although they are not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture. Instead, because we have God the Father and God the Son mentioned in this passage, “seven spirits” is usually interpreted as “seven-fold Spirit,” meaning God the Spirit.

In Scripture, the number 7 represents:

  • Fullness, completeness and perfection, as in the fellowship of the Trinity;
  • Exoneration and healing, as in the Sabbath (seventh) Year, Jubilee (50th year, the year after seven seven’s, which is 49 years), and Naaman’s washing in the Jordan river seven times (2 Kings 5:10-14);
  • Fulfillment of promises and oaths; from the root word “saba,” which means “satisfaction and fullness.” Two words come from it: “shaba (to swear)” and “sheba (seven).” An example is Beersheba, which means “well of oath” or “well of seven” for which seven lambs were paid for the use of the well that was there.

By using the number seven, John is alluding to the fact that God is perfectly complete in the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, Three-in-One. To see the Spirit as anything less than equal with the Father and the Son is to deny the Trinity–not a good thing!

Let us remember that we are loved by the Father, in the Son, through the Holy Spirit. We have been invited into the Fellowship of the Trinity!

Abba, seeing You as the Trinitarian Person that You are helps me interpret Scripture correctly. I see You and the Son as one (John 10:30), and I see You and the Spirit as one in me–along with Jesus (John 14:23, 15:26). You went to great lengths to get us back; may we not take Your sacrifice for granted. Amen.

Proverbs 1 2-1-22

Christ fulfilled the Law and the Prophets by living a perfect, sinless life. God was glorified through Jesus’ obedience.

2 to know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight,

Jesus Himself revealed this pearl in His priestly prayer, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” If we couple this verse with Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill,” we see that Jesus did what no other human could do, which is to live a perfect, sinless life. It is why He could be our Representative at the cross.

He also fulfilled the promise to Abraham that was made centuries before, “and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). As He did so, Jesus cleared up some assumptions that had been made. One was the belief that the law was made to make us holy–NOT SO! It was made to get us by until Christ could come (Romans 3:25). Another was that the law reflected God’s holiness and so could be used as a hammer; Jesus agreed on the reflection, but objected to their conclusion. Jesus revealed the Father’s heart of love. As an example, let’s look at John 8:1-11,

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

Jesus did not condemn her. Remembering that Jesus is God (Emmanuel) and that He only does what He sees His Father doing (John 5:19), we can deduct that it is God who does not condemn the woman. Jesus had shown the world the Father’s heart: He loves us and does not condemn us. He died on the cross to forcibly take us back from Satan (Matthew 12:29). The curse of death has been lifted, and now anyone “who hears His word, and believes Him who sent Jesus (which was God the Father), has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24). Pretty simple, really–humanly impossible and completely unfathomable, but simple. God simply chooses not to condemn us and to forgive us in Christ. WOW!

Let’s thank Him for so great a salvation and look for someone with which to share this good news–if it’s a brother or sister in Christ, then rejoice together! If it’s a lost person, so much the better!!! Maybe soon, he won’t be lost anymore…

Abba, thank You for so great a salvation: for not condemning me, but forgiving me and pouring out Your grace upon me. You have given me what I need rather than what I deserve, and for that I will be forever grateful. Amen.

Proverbs 1 1-1-22

A new year, a new way of thinking. It’s what Jesus called us to do. “Repent,” which means, “Change the way you think.”

33 “Whoever listens to me will dwell secure [in Christ] and will be at ease, without fear of [bodily] harm or dread of disaster.”

As we enter this new year, I am praying that the Lord will speak to me as He did to the people of His days on earth. Three times in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said these words,

21 “You have heard that the ancients were told… 22 But I say to you… Matthew 5:21-22
38 “You have heard that it was said… 39 But I say to you… Matthew 5:38-39
43 “You have heard that it was said… 44 But I say to you… Matthew 5:43-44

What I want to do is put everything I have ever learned about God, about Jesus, about the Bible, church, traditions, music, worship–everything on the altar and ask the Lord Jesus to confirm, adjust, tweak, modify–and even delete–anything and everything and tell me what He wants me to know. I know that sounds a bit extreme, but isn’t that what we need to do each day in order to follow the Lord wholeheartedly? Yesterday has passed; tomorrow is unknowable (for us); today is where we live, moment-by-moment. We must trust in Jesus for everything: Our breath, our lives, our perceptions, and truth, which sometimes runs crossways with our perceptions. We are finite beings and therefore cannot know or see everything that is happening, so we trust in the One who can and does: Jesus.

So, today, I pray this prayer:

Lord Jesus, I trade my life for Your life,
my ways for Your ways,
my thoughts for Your thoughts,
my will for Your will.
May we walk together and fellowship together as I will follow Your lead.
I bring nothing to the table except my willingness to listen and obey.
Thank You for wanting to spend life with me. Amen.

Proverbs 1 12-1-21

We trust God by spending time with Him and by watching Him prove Himself faithful time and again.

23 If you turn at my reproof, behold [see with different eyes], I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.

Wisdom is seeing through God’s eyes;
faith is seeing through Jesus’ eyes.

What did Jesus see? “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” We are to see ourselves the same way, and others that way, too. How can we get mad at our neighbor when we realize that he or she is harassed and helpless, like a sheep without a shepherd? How can we get mad at ourselves? We are the same way.

Shepherds provide everything for their sheep. Why? Because sheep are dumb (from someone who owns sheep). They need someone to take care of them. Otherwise, they’ll eat too much, drink from dangerous pools and streams, wander into dangerous places or stay in the same place until there is no more grass; they can’t take care of their wool when it gets too heavy, or doctor their own eyes when they become infected (a regular thing), and they can’t protect themselves. Wait…we’re still talking about sheep, right? For a moment there, I thought we were describing mankind’s spiritual state. Oh, we were? Gotcha.


  1. Healed and cleansed the leper (Matthew 8:1-4)
  2. Healed the centurion’s servant–long distance (v5-13)
  3. Healed Peter’s mother-in-law (v14-15)
  4. Healed all who were sick and cast out demons (v16-17)
  5. Healed two demon-possessed men (v28-34) AND THAT’S JUST CHAPTER 8!

In chapter nine, Jesus:

  1. Heals a paralytic and forgave his sins (v1-8)
  2. Raised Jairus’ daughter (v18-26)
  3. Heals two blind men (v27-31)
  4. Heals a man who was mute (v32-33)

As we can see, Jesus was concerned and interested in people’s plights. Now that Jesus has gone back to His throne, His Spirit continues in the same manner healing people of their spiritual maladies. Who said that no one gets physically healed anymore? Go to a country where modern medicine is not available and you’ll see healings in Jesus’ name! The power of God is still working in our world. In fact, I believe that He is moving us to a day of awakening. What this awakening will look like, I don’t know, but I’ll bet we recognize it when it gets here. In the meantime, let’s love Jesus and love each other with all we know and have.

Abba, I look forward to what You have in store for us. I don’t need to know what You’re going to do; I just want to be part of it! Include me, too, Lord. I am Your servant. Amen.

Proverbs 1 11-1-21

Stories help us picture abstract truths. I pray this story will do that for you.

20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square;[wisdom is personified in order to grasp the meaning of the text].

The following story is allegorical. It is designed to put into tangible form abstract concepts. It is NOT literal, and can be altered at any point if new revelation arises.

I had a dream…
I was walking along and came upon a prison. As I got closer, I noticed that the doors were wide open. “Strange,” I thought. So, I ventured into the open doors.
No one was in sight, so I walked past the guard station. What I found was that all of the doors were open! I began to look for anyone. The further I went into the prison, the stranger things seemed. It looked like it was still in use, except that no one was there–no guards, no prisoners…no one.
I came to some stairs and, since lights were on, I went down them. I went down several floors until I noticed that the floor had changed, along with the lighting. I realized that this hallway was really a tunnel of sorts, made partially of earth. There were cells on each side, and I heard crying. I looked in a cell and saw a man in chains. His clothes were filthy and his wrists and ankles were bloody from the manacles. It’s what I expected to see in a prison, but what I didn’t expect to see was the cell door open. In fact, all of the cell doors were open!
I went into the man’s cell and said, “Why are you crying?” He looked up in surprise and fear and said, “My chains won’t stay on. If the guards catch me without my chains, there will be hell to pay!”
I told him that there was no one in the prison, but he wouldn’t believe me. I left him wailing about how much trouble he would be in when the guard came back. I had walked past several cells when I noticed a young girl who wasn’t crying. I stopped and asked her, “Are you not afraid of the guards?” She replied, “Yes, but I have heard rumors about a man who is coming to save us.”
“Really? How will he accomplish this feat?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I am hoping that he will come and take us away from here.”
I looked at her manacles and they were not locked. I said, “Why not take the manacles off of your wrists and ankles and come with me?”
Tentatively, she reached out and touched a manacle on her wrist. It released and fell off. She took the other one off and looked at me with astonishment. She quickly removed the ones on her ankles and stood up. We moved up the hallway to the stairs and took them as quickly and quietly as we could. We found that there was no reason to sneak around, for there were still no guards. As we walked past the guard station and looked out at the front gates, we saw a man standing there motioning us to join Him.
When we passed through the gates and walked up to Him, He said to her, “My daughter, you are free. There is no record of your past crimes.”
The girl fell at His feet and thanked Him. He knelt down and asked her, “Would you like to come with me? I have new clothes and a new life awaiting you.”
Overjoyed, the girl exclaimed, “Yes! Yes!” and threw her arms around Him. He then turned to me and said, “You are my ambassador. Go back into the prison and bring out more prisoners. Tell them that all debts are paid and all records wiped clean. Bring as many as will come. I will meet you here.”
Overwhelmed by the love in His eyes, I gladly went back into the prison to lead out more prisoners…

Things to know about this story:

  1. I, too, was one of those prisoners at one time. The story could have been written with Jesus escorting me out of the prison and then asking me to go back and lead other prisoners out.
  2. Christ is with us–actually, in us–as we go out to lead prisoners out of their cells.

May the Lord Jesus use this story to help you understand what a great salvation we have in Him. It is a story of HOPE.

Abba, thank You for setting me free from my prison. It was a joyous day when I realized that You had already set me free (Romans 3:23-24) and that all I had to do was trust You to lead me out. In a way, You are still leading me out of that prison. I look forward to the Day when we reach the gates and I receive new clothes and new life with You in Your kingdom. For now, may I be Your ambassador to my fellow prisoners who have not heard the Good News: We shall know the Truth (Jesus) and the Truth sets us free! All praise be you You, Lord Jesus! Amen.

Proverbs 1 10-1-21

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith…Christ Jesus is in you–unless…you fail the test!

22 “How long will you who are simple [gullible, without moral direction and inclined to evil] love your simple ways? How long will fools [they know better, but they don’t care] hate knowledge and mockers [they not only don’t care, they either make fun of or get mad at those who don’t participate with them] delight in mockery?

The opening verse is 2 Corinthians 13:5. It’s an interesting verse because it calls us to do some soul-searching, a bit of introspection. What is the test? That Christ is in us. What does it take to have Christ in us?

  1. We believe He is who He says He is. Colossians 1:15-20 tells us that He created all things and holds all things together with His mighty power. The interesting thing is that no one knows why protons and electrons orbit around a nucleus. There is no accounting for the orbit; they are beginning to understand how, but not why. The answer is found in not what, but who: Christ holds all things together. We also have John 10:36-38 where Jesus tells the religious leaders to believe in Him because of His miracles. The miracles attest to the fact that “the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”
  2. We believe that He did what He said He would do. Colossians 1:21-22 tells us that we were alienated from God and enemies in our minds because of our evil behavior, but Christ reconciled us to God through His death and resurrection. Ephesians 2:1-5 says that we were dead in our sins, slaves of Satan, and slated to be condemned to eternal banishment; we were to reap the consequences of our choices. But, God loves us so much and is so rich in mercy, that He saved us through Jesus Christ. His resurrection means that we die with Him and then are reborn with Him. That’s good news!
  3. We believe that He’ll do what He said He would do. Jesus said, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and he with me” Revelation 3:19-20. This is the promise of the Son of God! Also, God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” Ephesians 2:8-10.

Jesus gave us three things to do:

  1. BelieveBelieve me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. John 14:11
  2. Obey-If you love me, keep my commands16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth…you know him, for he lives…in you. John 14:15-17
  3. Proclaim-To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I labor with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1:27-29

We will talk about proclaiming tomorrow. Right now, let me ask: Did you pass the test? Is Christ in You?

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would know You intimately as their Lord and Savior. You love us so much and You pour out Your mercy on all who trust in You. Thank You for pouring Your love into my heart! Amen.

Proverbs 1 9-1-21

Many Christians act like they don’t know what to expect when they die. They live in fear of death when Jesus has conquered death!

22 How long will you who are simple [someone who doesn’t know right from wrong, but is prone toward evil] love your simple ways? How long will mockers [those who know right from wrong but doesn’t care–in fact, will ridicule and even get angry at the righteous] delight in mockery and fools [those who know right from wrong, but choose wrong anyway] hate knowledge?

We have been given wonderful instruction in 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 concerning our current bodies and the bodies waiting for us in the kingdom of God. Let’s read it:

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.

  1. We live in an earthly tent. It’s also called a vessel (2 Timothy 2:21), a building, and a dwelling. In 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, our bodies are referred to as natural and perishable bodies, bodies of dishonor because of sin.
  2. Our heavenly dwelling and the process of getting there are described in 1 Corinthians 15:53-54, “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.’”
  3. “Clothed instead of naked” comes from a description of us in the throne room of God. The best illustration is in Matthew 22:11-13, “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.’” We cannot stand in the presence of God in our birthday suits because it has been tainted with sin. It’s not that God cannot look upon sin, but that we will feel utterly out-of-place. Indeed, we will seek to hide from the Holy One (Revelation 6:16). Only by being clothed with the Lord Jesus Christ are we suitable for eternal living (Romans 13:14).
  4. The Spirit teaches us about what is to come and reminds us that we cannot conceive all that He has planned for us. Knowing what we know, we long to be out of these bodies and in our heavenly bodies–or, at least, we should.
  5. Making the transition from these bodies to our eternal bodies is something that the Holy Spirit does for us. He fashions us for this very purpose, and is our deposit, our guarantee of what is to come.

The conclusion that I draw from this passage is that drawing close to Jesus/the Holy Spirit is the best way to be fashioned and prepared to make the transition from this world to the next, from this kingdom to His kingdom, from this tent to our heavenly dwelling. We should take great comfort in the phrase, “what is mortal is being swallowed up by life (v.5)!”

Tomorrow, we look at verses 6-10 and what awaits us.

Abba, thank You for loving me and for preparing me to exit this world and go be with You in Your kingdom. I can think of nothing greater! May my life and my death bring glory and honor to You, O Lord.

Proverbs 1 8-1-21

WARNING: Training has a built-in timer. The more delays there are in training, the longer it takes to absorb and learn the material.

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

Sundays are designed to train and be trained. As a minister for the past 36 years, I can vouch for the system. Some strategies work better than others, but they all are designed to give us the opportunity to train disciples and for disciples to get training. The more sporadic we are in our attendance, the longer it takes to absorb and learn the material. It’s the same for any topic. Training requires redundancy in order to build in second-nature reactions. Whether it’s carpentry, Excel, Karate, or a musical instrument, the longer between “practice” sessions, the longer we extend the training–and perform poorly.

On a typical Sunday morning, a person can expect these things:

  1. Smiling faces to greet him at the door or in the classroom;
  2. Information from the Bible about God and His interaction with humankind;
  3. Corporate worship where we speak the Word, sing the Word, pray the Word, and hear the Word proclaimed;
  4. To be asked to commit his life this week to His will and His way;
  5. To encourage and be encouraged by fellow believers.

My question is, “Who wouldn’t want this on a weekly basis? Why would we let anything (except emergencies) get in the way?”

Sunday evenings are yet another opportunity for us to train and be trained. In fact, training IS the topic. In order to grow, we must be F.A.T.

F = Faithful; are we really interested in growing as Christians?

A = Available; if so, then we will be available at the times that are scheduled for us to attend and train.

T = Trainable; a person must be willing to put himself under the tutelage of a mentor. Attitudes must be checked at the door.

One more thing: In order to know God, we need to learn His Word. Read it; study it; memorize it; quote it; teach it; share it; KNOW it. How do I know this? Because the WORD tells me so:

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

1All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

29 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces? Jeremiah 23:29

Let’s quit messing around and start acting like Jesus followers. Let’s train and be trained in order to disciple the world! Let’s start with the “world” around us.

Abba, it’s time for us to quit serving ourselves. We as Your people have indulged ourselves too much and too long in the culture. We need to cut out the fat and start being F.A.T. When I stand before You each evening, I don’t want to have to make excuses for my lack of training, especially when it comes to Sundays. They used to be special days that were set aside for training. May they be that way again by the true people of God. Make it so, Lord, please, make it so. Amen.

Proverbs 1 7-1-21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 1 6-1-21

Regardless of how we were before we met Christ, we all begin washed, sanctified and justified in Him.

19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it. 33 “but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

Yesterday, we answered the question of why Christ had to die. He died so that God could pour His amazing grace on us as Christ comes to live in our hearts! Today, let’s discuss what comes next. Let’s find out where we came from:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

As I look at this list, I think we all fit into the “idolaters” category, don’t you? So, we all begin at the same place with Christ: We are all sinners. Now, the blood of Jesus washes everyone clean and puts everyone on the same plane as sons of God (see Romans 8:16).

But, we all have been created to serve. Jesus 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 two masters.” Paul puts it this way,

Romans 6:17-18 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

He then goes on to say, “So now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.” We know that holiness means being like God as we are transformed into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). So, then, we are headed to Christlikeness as we serve in righteousness.

Today, let’s not let sin reign in our mortal bodies so that we obey its evil desires (Romans 6:12), but let’s offer ourselves as instruments of righteousness (v13). “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” (v14).

Abba, May we all live according to Your grace. Make it plain to us as we read Your Word, listen for Your voice, and follow You as we go about our day. We are Your humble servants. Amen.

Proverbs 1 5-1-21

King David was a man after God’s own heart. Are we willing to listen and learn from him?

8 Hear, my child, your father’s instruction, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
19:18 Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.

As I was reading Psalms yesterday morning, I read Psalm 141, which has some very interesting verses in it:

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.

In our conversations, are we building up or tearing down? Discerning the difference is a Holy Spirit thing. We must be in tune with Him in order to discern the difference BEFORE we speak.

Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
    so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
    do not let me eat their delicacies.

There’s something we know about our hearts: The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9. With the right enticement, all of us are prone to temptation. Sin is enjoyable–for a while; then we begin to recognize the cords that tie us up (Proverbs 5:22). We must be diligent, but more than that, we must trust in and rely on the Spirit of Jesus to lead us, hold us back, and reprove us when necessary.

Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness;
    let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it,
    for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers [will not take part with them].

Speaking of reproving, His reproof may come in the form of a brother or sister in Christ rebuking us. Even if the rebuke is scathing, we must endure and heed that rebuke as God’s words to our ears. If the rebuke is Scripturally sound, then it surely is! Consider it Christ’s discipline, “My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the child he delights in.” Proverbs 3:11-12.

Tomorrow, I will ask you a difficult question. It is based upon Acts 5:20, “Go, stand in the temple courts, and tell the people all about this new life.” I can share part of the question with you:

Is Jesus worth the risk?

Abba, as we look at the apostles’ lives and what You meant to them, may we get a perspective that helps us to understand just what You have done in our lives. I suspect that most of us take the Good News about You lightly because we don’t really comprehend the lengths You went for us and for all people. If we did, I believe that we would take much more seriously our walk with You, how we treat each other, and we would be far more concerned about those who don’t know You. Instead of flirting with sin, we would be focused on You and Your will. Give us discernment, O Lord. Give us understanding. 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 1 3-1-21

The fear of the Lord is a good thing–when we understand what we are fearing!

7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

When a student enters the dojo (school) of a fourth-degree blackbelt Karate expert, there is a certain amount of fear of what that teacher COULD do to him, but there is much more awe than outright fear of getting beaten beyond recognition. The teacher wants the student to learn his ways and to be with him for a long while. Beating up his students would never enter his mind! Consider this passage:

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11

Our Father in heaven has good gifts to give us. Even as we fear Him as King of the Universe, we are in awe of Him as our heavenly Father! He loves us and we love Him. When it comes to judgment, we receive discipline, but not punishment. Christ has already taken all the consequences of our sin upon Himself. Note these words from Jesus Himself:

In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. John 16:26-27

Did you catch that? The Father Himself loves us! WOW! Now, when we ask for something, we can ask in Jesus’ name. What does that mean? It means that we ask for the same things for which Jesus asked. We’ll break that down another time. Suffice it to say that we can trust the Father to do what is right for everyone involved when we ask Him. It’s not that He won’t unless we ask, but it’s because we ask that He now has “permission” to get involved. Consider what Jesus told Peter:

“and I will give to thee the keys of the reign of the heavens, and whatever thou mayest bind upon the earth shall be having been bound in the heavens, and whatever thou mayest loose upon the earth shall be having been loosed in the heavens.” Youngs Literal Translation

A short time after this conversation, Peter loosed salvation in Christ with the coming of the Holy Spirit upon his Jewish brethren in Acts 2. Soon after that, he loosed salvation upon Cornelius and all Gentiles in Acts 10. Peter bound the Gospel from the religious leaders with his statement, “we must obey God rather than men” Acts 5:29. As we can see, God was working through Peter in each of these situations as he loosed and bound what God wanted Him to loose and bind.

He wants to do the same thing with us! In our situations, we have the freedom and responsibility to loose and bind according to God’s will. For instance, when praying for our leaders and government officials:

  • We seek revival to sweep through their offices and meetings;
  • We seek perseverance in the face of bad decisions, ridicule, ostracism, and persecution;
  • We seek God’s glory to be attained according to the rise and fall of nations;
  • We bind satanic forces and pray that those who follow them will devour each other;
  • We loose the Holy Spirit in their lives and circumstances;
  • We bind all under-the-table meetings, pay-offs, and deals that they betray each other;
  • We loose those leaders that stand for what is right and just;
  • We bind immoral laws and decisions;
  • We loose liberty for captives and good news to the poor.

We could go on, which is the point. Let’s pray for our country and its leaders, but let’s pray with intention and education in that we have sought God’s will and are praying God’s will. We have a responsibility to pray. It also gives us something to talk about with our heavenly Father. Be sure to listen to His response.

Abba, You have given us the awesome task of being advocates for potential brothers and sisters. As we come to You in prayer for them, please teach us to pray for them according to Your will: “You love them so much; whosoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life (John 3:16);” “You are patient with them, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9),” for starters. Give us clean hands and pure hearts (Psalm 24:4) so that we can stand in the gap for our leaders (Ezekiel 22:30), O Lord. Teach us how and lead us to do it! Amen.

Proverbs 1 2-1-21

Everything we say, do, everyone we meet, all we read and watch must be seen as tools in our Master’s hands to train us.

3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair;

Since the Lord Jesus is with us all the time, everything must be seen as instruments in the hands of the Master. We don’t have to wait for judgment concerning what we say; the Holy Spirit convicts us of it right then and there! Matthew 12:36 says, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty [idle] word they have spoken.” What we must remember is that Jesus was referring directly to the Pharisees who had accused Him of driving out demons by Beelzebul (Satan). Those who have not taken the mark of the cross (been saved) will answer for every word and every deed on Judgment Day (Revelation 20:13). Those of us who have the Spirit answer Now to the Spirit. Our judgment at the BEMA (judgment) seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) is about rewards–it’s an awards ceremony! What we must remember is that the Great White Throne and the BEMA Seat are right next to each other and that God and Jesus are one–yet, three: Father, Son, Spirit. Those who never accepted Christ as Savior will stand before the Father: “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15) while those whose name is written in the book of life will hear from their Master, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21).

Jesus being with us all the time through the presence of the Holy Spirit is why we cannot continue in sin for very long. John put it like this, “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him [Jesus] or known Him.” 1 John 3:6.

The Spirit’s conviction may be immediate, but we still live with the consequences of our bad choices (sin). Repentance usually helps mitigate those consequences so that we are not in them as long or don’t have to suffer the extreme consequences. Proverbs 22:3 tells us that “the prudent see danger coming and take refuge [hide themselves in Him as our high tower], but the simple [those who lack judgment and ignore the direction of the Spirit] keep going and pay the penalty.” The sooner we repent and obey, the better our outcome will be. Just know that the Spirit loves you and wants the best for you. It hurts Him to see us make choices that hurt us.

So, let’s not “grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30). Instead, let’s “find out what pleases the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10) and do that, instead!

Abba, I want to please You. You are my God! Jesus, I want to please You. You are my Savior. Spirit, I want to please You. You are my Companion, my Advocate, my Helper. Please lead me in the way of righteousness (I know You will) and help me be pleasing to You (I know I already am). Let’s make it all about You. Amen.

Proverbs 1 1-1-21

Not feeling like having a quiet time with the LORD? Die to those feelings and be refreshed by His Spirit!

10 My child, if sinful men [feelings, spirits] entice you, do not give in to them.
23 If you repent at my rebuke, I will pour out my thoughts to you and make my heart known to you.
33 Whoever listens to Me will live in [spiritual] safety and be at ease [concerning the trials and struggles of this life], without fear of harm [to our souls].

It’s a new year. Resolutions are made. Let’s make one of our own: Commit anew to read a chapter of Proverbs each morning. It would be good to read a chapter in the New Testament, as well. Let’s ask the LORD to speak to us through His Word. There is no power in the pages themselves, but the POWER and the SPIRIT from whom the words flow are eternal and they are life. “The Word of God is living and active!” Hebrews 4:12.

This morning, let’s look at our model verse from King David:

Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try [test] me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

It occurred to me that if God chooses not to be offended, then, in order to be like Him, we should choose to not be offended, either. Yeshua (Jesus) knew what He was doing when He sent the Holy Spirit (which is actually Him) into our hearts in that He was/is aware of all of our faults and tendencies, failures and even rebellions. His expectations are different than ours; He is concerned with the maturity and transformation of our souls. Our good deeds flow from that maturity and transformation. We learn to do these good deeds WITH HIM rather than FOR HIM. Since He knows when we will finally turn the corner and have victory in those difficult areas of our lives, He strives with us in perfect patience, kindness and gentleness as we struggle in those areas. He rejoices in our future. Let’s do the same with ourselves! It’s part of the transformation…

New Passage for the New Year:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10

When we begin to feel stressed, frustrated, and even angry with ourselves (and others), let us remember whose and what we are: We are His children of light; we have Him in us, and He is the light of the world (John 8:12). It’s a great way to start the day–and the year!

Abba, I loved waking up this morning with the tune, “Hear the Voice of My Beloved,” running through my head. I perceived that You were calling me to come and join You at Your table for “breakfast.” I dined on Ezekiel as he called the people of Israel to repent and come back You; then I supped on John’s recounting of Yeshua doing the same thing. Wow! Your compassion knows no limits!!! Thank You for sharing with me this morning. I love it. I love You. Looking forward to the day and the year WITH YOU, amen.

Proverbs 12-1-20

Evidence of a redeemed life is a selfless heart. We serve Christ HIS way, not our way. “Selective service” is not an option.

1 The proverbs of Solomon…2 for attaining wisdom and discipline, for understanding…3 for acquiring a disciplined life…4 for prudence…knowledge and discretion…

Our mindset must be that His words are final. We cannot take the attitude that we can take some and leave some, or conform them to our will. Solomon learned this lesson from his dad, King David:

Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your name. Psalm 86:11

It’s the “undivided heart” with which we struggle. Yet, that struggle is what makes us strong in the Lord because we must determine to be godly, we must listen to the Spirit and be intentional about our walk and our actions.

NOW, we are ready to study Titus 2:11-14.

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to [say “Yes” to the Spirit and to] live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

  1. The grace of God has appeared in the flesh through Jesus Christ. This is a GREAT Christmas verse!
  2. To whom? To all people. That’s important. Christ didn’t die for some (those who would trust in Him); He died for all (see Romans 6:10, Hebrews 7:27, 9:12, 9:26, 10:10, and particularly 1 Peter 3:18).
  3. “This present age” and verse 13 we will discuss at another time.
  4. Jesus is in the process of purifying for Himself a people that are His very own–the Church! Us!!!
  5. “Eager to do what is good”- Are we eager to do what is good? Are we ready to live a self-less life and do things Christ’s way?

If we aren’t ready to allow Christ to be president in our lives and not just resident, then we will continue to be “infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people [who are prompted by Satan] in their deceitful scheming.” Ephesians 4:14.

Instead, how about praying each morning David’s prayer to teach us His way and then walk in His truth? Are you ready for an undivided heart that fears the Lord–not unto punishment, but unto discipline? Discipline is our best evidence that we are God’s children! See Hebrews 12:4-13. Let’s get started!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would have an undivided heart, that You would teach them to fear Your name, and to be all about You rather than themselves. Lord, You know I’m preaching to myself here. That psalm is my prayer every morning. Make it so in my life, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 1 11-1-20

All Saints Day: A day to remember saints that have gone on to glory–both well-known and little-known.

8 Listen, my son, to your [spiritual] father’s instruction and do not forsake your [spiritual] mother’s teaching. 9 They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.

We know all the known Scripture writers and the apostles, but do we know these famous Christians and martyrs?

St. Cyprian, Latin in full Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus, (born 200 CE, Carthage—died September 14, 258, Carthage; early Christian theologian and bishop of Carthage who led the Christians of North Africa during a period of persecution from Rome. Upon his execution he became the first bishop-martyr of Africa.

Tertullian, Latin in full Quintus Septimus Florens Tertullianus, (born c. 155, /160, Carthage [now in Tunisia]—died after 220, Carthage), important early Christian theologian, polemicist, and moralist who, as the initiator of ecclesiastical Latin, was instrumental in shaping the vocabulary and thought of Western Christianity.

Saint Clement of Alexandria, Latin name Titus Flavius Clemens, (born AD 150, Athens—died between 211 and 215; Western feast day November 23; Eastern feast day November 24), Christian Apologist, missionary theologian to the Hellenistic (Greek cultural) world, and second known leader and teacher of the catechetical school of Alexandria

Origen, Latin in full Oregenes Adamantius, (born c. 185, probably Alexandria, Egypt—died c. 254, Tyre, Phoenicia [now Ṣūr, Lebanon]), the most important theologian and biblical scholar of the early Greek church. His greatest work is the Hexapla, which is a synopsis of six versions of the Old Testament.

St. Augustine, also called Saint Augustine of Hippo, original Latin name Aurelius Augustinus, (born November 13, 354, died August 28, 430; bishop of Hippo from 396 to 430, one of the Latin Fathers of the Church and perhaps the most significant Christian thinker after St. Paul. Augustine’s adaptation of classical thought to Christian teaching created a theological system of great power and lasting influence.

Adoniram Judson, (born Aug. 9, 1788, Malden, Mass., U.S.—died April 12, 1850, at sea, Indian Ocean), American linguist and Baptist missionary in Myanmar (Burma), who translated the Bible into Burmese and wrote a now standard Burmese dictionary.

Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon (December 12, 1840 – December 24, 1912) was a Southern Baptist missionary to China with the Foreign Mission Board who spent nearly 40 years (1873–1912) living and working in China. As a teacher and evangelist she laid a foundation for traditionally solid support for missions among Southern Baptists, especially through its Woman’s Missionary Union.

Dwight Lyman Moody (February 5, 1837 – December 22, 1899), also known as D. L. Moody, was an American evangelist and publisher who founded the Moody Church, Northfield School and Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts (now Northfield Mount Hermon School), Moody Bible Institute and Moody Publishers.[1] One of his most famous quotes was “Faith makes all things possible… Love makes all things easy.“ Moody gave up his lucrative boot and shoe business to devote his life to revivalism, working first in the Civil War with union troops through YMCA in the United States Christian commission. In Chicago, he built one of the major evangelical centers in the nation, which is still active.

Cornelia Arnolda Johanna “Corrie” ten Boom (15 April 1892 – 15 April 1983) was a Dutch Christian watchmaker and later a writer who worked with her father, Casper ten Boom, her sister Betsie ten Boom and other family members to help many Jews escape the Nazis from the Holocaust during World War II by hiding them in her home. She believed her actions were following the will of God. They were caught, and she was arrested and sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Her most famous book, The Hiding Place [great book], is a biography that recounts the story of her family’s efforts and how she found hope in God while she was imprisoned at the concentration camp.

William Franklin “Billy” Graham Jr. (November 7, 1918 – February 21, 2018) was an American evangelist, a prominent evangelical Christian figure, and an ordained Southern Baptist minister who became well-known internationally in the late 1940s. One of his biographers has placed him “among the most influential Christian leaders” of the 20th century.[2]

There are nearly countless others, such as Martin Luther, William Tyndale, Dietrich Bonhoeffer , and C.S. Lewis (my favorite) to name a few. Click on their names and you can read about them. Let’s celebrate that “great cloud of witnesses” mentioned in the hall of spiritual fame found in Hebrews 11 and those of our family and friends that have crossed the veil to Aslan’s world (the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis).

Abba, I thank You for the testimonies of the great heroes of the faith. They encourage me and inspire me to be like them. When my life here on this earth is over, may I say like Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is waiting for me a crown of righteousness which the LORD, the Righteous Judge, will award me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8. May it be so, LORD Jesus. Amen.