Proverbs 1 8-1-20

Many want to live a righteous life, but, why, if not to please our Savior? Is He not worth serving? Was His sacrifice even necessary for our sin?

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

Did you catch that? Gaining, Understanding, Receiving, and then Doing. It’s not enough to just gain knowledge, nor to understand what to do, nor even to receive all we need to do it UNLESS WE ACTUALLY DO IT. Our fear of the LORD comes from understanding that He is the King of the Universe and doesn’t owe us anything. We serve a holy God who does not have to have anything to do with us at all–and yet, He does! He loves us so much that He sent His Son, His One and only Son, to die in our place to buy us back from death and hell. Why? To live in our hearts! So, if we’re going to trust Him as Savior to save us, then we should be ready and willing to trust Him as LORD of our lives.

Do you crave the very thing that will teach us how to please God? David did:

33 Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees,
    that I may follow it to the end.

Increase our knowledge of You and Your Word, O LORD.

34 Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
    and obey it with all my heart.

We need conceptual understanding so we can know the “why” to many of the questions of life. For instance, why is it important to not “try” sin even once, like smoking or drinking or sex or bars or gambling or any other traps we can think of? Because that’s what they are: TRAPS!  They have been laid for us to step into and be caught. One of my precious girls in my youth group when I was a Youth Minister (many years ago) was talked into drinking a beer and was caught: Her family had a propensity to alcoholism, and all it took was one drink. Another friend from our youth group in high school was talked into trying homosexuality. He died of AIDS several years later. “Once” is too many when it concerns sin because SIN DESTROYS US.

“Sin takes you further than you intend to go,
stay longer than you intend to stay,
and pay more than you want to pay.”

35 Direct me in the path of your commands,
    for there I find delight.

Our delight is in the fellowship we share with the Spirit.

36 Turn my heart toward your statutes
    and not toward selfish gain.

Or, selfishness. We tend to be self-centered (understatement).

37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
    preserve my life according to your word.

If we keep our minds filled with truthful, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy thoughts (Philippians 4:8), we will have no room for the worthless things of this life: Pornography, mind-controlling drugs, “keeping up with the Joneses,” etc.

38 Fulfill your promise to your servant,
    so that you may be feared [so that I may fear You].

People are watching. If we don’t fear God, then why should they?

39 Take away the disgrace I dread,
    for your laws are good [and steady].

The disgrace I dread is failure. I do NOT want to finish poorly. So, I stay glued to His Word and am obedient to His Spirit.

40 How I long for your precepts!
    In your righteousness preserve my life.

More than just finishing well, I want to “shine like a star in the universe as I hold firmly to the word of life” (Philippians 2:15-16). I want to be His image-bearer and ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Let’s live a life pleasing to our Savior and Lord.  He is achieving for us an eternal glory. IT WILL BE WORTH IT! (see 2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Abba, as we seek Your face today, make Your Word come alive in our hearts. Fan into flame a desire to please You, be like You, and serve You. Give us Your passion for those around us, especially for those with whom we live (if we can be Christ to them, it’s a cinch to be Christ to others because we are in the habit). Make it so, LORD Jesus, make it so. Amen.

Proverbs 1 7-1-20

The point of John’s letter is not for us to doubt if we are the LORD’s, but to verify that we are His!

Verify-
1. to prove the truth of, as by evidence or testimony; confirm; substantiate.
2. to ascertain the truth or correctness of, as by examination, research, or       comparison.
3. to act as ultimate proof or evidence of; serve to confirm.

1 John 5:1-11 can be summed up in this way:

  1. We love God because He first loved us (4:10).
  2. Because God loves us, we trust Him when He tells us that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One (Matthew 3:17).
  3. Believing God enough to trust Him with our lives is His command for us (John 6:29).

When we love God and have His Spirit within us, we know that He loves His children; we want to be like Him, so we learn to love His children, as well. This motivation is the key element that drives the children of God. It overrides even our deepest hatreds and resentments. Why? Because we have a new heart; our old hearts were replaced with new ones when Christ entered into our lives. His Spirit gives us both the desire and the power to love His children like He loves them:

  1. with patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control;
  2. by always telling the truth, but done in love and gentleness;
  3. by humbly holding each other accountable concerning sin in our lives;
  4. By always striving and never giving up (we may grow tired, but He gives us the strength we need when we need it).

The testimony of God is this: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son, Jesus Christ (v.11).

Verse 12 gives us Salvation Test #10:

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

Test #10 Do you have Jesus in your heart and life?

As I said at the beginning, the point of John’s letter is not for us to doubt if we are the LORD’s, but to verify that we are His!

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

If we trust Jesus everyday to lead us and to teach us, then these tests reinforce our relationship with Him. People who doubt their salvation have not learned to trust the Father-through the Son-via the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. It’s time to put verses 14-15 into practice and approach God asking for our brothers and sisters to learn to trust Him. Verses 16-17 tell us to lead each other out of sin and into life. We can do that.

There is one more Salvation test and it has to do with verse 18: “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.”

Test #11 When you sin, do you feel conviction from the Spirit?

Jesus gives conviction, not condemnation. He is always specific, never general. He encourages; He never discourages. But, we MUST do what He says. We must trust Him enough to believe He has our best interests at heart. He IS God, ya know!

Verses 19-21 give us an overview of our Christian walk:

  1. Satan is in control of this earth.
  2. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world.
  3. We have come to understand that our citizenship is in heaven with Him (Philippians 3:20-21).
  4. We trust in God alone and we forsake idols (they draw us away from trusting God).

Our Mantra: Jesus First

Folks, we MUST remind ourselves of God’s truths everyday. We must recite them until we know them so well that we never doubt them. Are you willing to put in the time to know them that well? I sure hope so! I pray that you do.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would seek Your face everyday in Your graphe (the written word), so that they may logos (know, comprehend, understand) their source of power (God) against their enemy (the devil). May they use the rhema (spoken word of God) to its fullest advantage by memorizing Scripture and then quoting it during temptation, during trials and tribulations, during praise and adoration, during good times and bad, during celebration and tragedy. May we learn to plunge the dagger of Your Word into the proverbial chest of the enemy. Make it so, LORD Jesus, make it so! Amen.

 

 

Proverbs 1 6-1-20

We continue with #7 of the Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say:

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right. 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

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

#7
Jesus was Jewish.

Most Jews don’t know that. They have been led to believe He’s Catholic (Italian). We know He’s Jewish because of His heritage as listed in the first verse of the New Testament:

1 This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham: Matthew 1:1

In John, we find that Jesus came unto His own–the Jews, but His own did not receive Him (John 1:11). We know from the LORD’s covenant with Abraham that Jesus always intended to include the Gentiles (all peoples/families) in His Plan of Redemption.

3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:3

The next thing we need to know is what the LORD is going to do with Israel now and in the future. He has already fulfilled a portion of the prophecy of Moses in Deuteronomy 30, which says,

1 When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, 2 and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today [this part He’s still working on], 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you [He is doing this today!]. 4 Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back [Immigrants from Russia are pouring in]. 5 He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors [this, too, He is working on]. 

It’s the next verse that God has not brought to pass. It is the one on which I am waiting, and is why Robin and I can’t stop watching the “I Met Messiah” videos on Youtube!

6 The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

The writer of Hebrews quotes from Isaiah when he spells out the job of the Holy Spirit,

15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: 16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds (a quote from Jeremiah 31:33).” Hebrews 10:16

We know that Jesus began His church with the Jews (Acts 2:1-11 Pentecost; it was even a Jewish holiday) and then included the Gentiles when Peter went to Cornelius’ house (Acts 10:25-48). We also know that even though the Jews have been sidelined “until the full number of the Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25),” there is always a remnant (Romans 11:5) that is being saved in each generation. Lately, that number has increased radically! We may be seeing the beginning of the salvation of Israel!!!

The Gospel for both Gentiles and Jews can be summed up in Romans 11:32,

32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

In Ephesians 2:14-18, Paul states that Jesus took the Jews and the Gentiles and made a new group in Himself through the cross. Now, we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” And in 3:6, Paul states that “this mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” Paul tells the church in Galatia this in Galatians 3:26-29,

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Genesis 12:3).

The Jews have never been excluded or replaced by Christians. They are saved the same way we are. In fact, the apostles were intended for the Jews (Galatians 2:8) while Paul was set apart to go to the Gentiles (Romans 15:16). We have already established that Peter (the lead apostle) was instrumental in the Holy Spirit falling upon the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house. We owe a debt of gratitude to Israel and should help them every chance we get,

For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. Romans 15:27

We share in the worship of a Jewish Messiah who will one day set foot on the Mount of Olives once again (Acts 1:10-11). I can hardly wait!

Today, let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).

Abba, I lift up the Jewish people to You asking for an outpouring of Your Spirit upon them. May REVIVAL come to Israel and to Jews everywhere even as You call them home. May I witness the greatest revival in history as You accomplish the re-establishment of Your people, and may I be a part of that revival. You have grafted us Gentiles in, LORD; we are Yours and are one with completed Jews everywhere in You, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach (Jesus the Anointed one, the Messiah). Make that oneness a reality as we pray for Your peace to fall on Jerusalem and all Israel. Amen.

Proverbs 1 5-1-20

Ever get the feeling that there’s more going on around you than you can see? It’s because it’s true!

17 How useless to spread a net
    where every bird can see it!
18 These men lie in wait for their own blood;
    they ambush only themselves!

For Easter this year, we were singing and preaching to the tech crew because of COVID19. We had a living room set on the stage with a backdrop on the stage-right side for the singers. Bryan and Luann sat around the “living room” instead of having the traditional podium and choir. As I was standing by the fireplace, it dawned on me that those watching via internet would not see anything else but the living room and backdrop. They wouldn’t see the cords and lights, the speakers and cameras, or even the musicians, and certainly not the techs. Yet, we and they were all part of the set and the events for the morning.

The perception created by the camera for the viewers made me realize that our physical bodies keep us from seeing the spiritual realm that is happening all around us. Perception is NOT truth. God’s Word is truth John 17:17. JESUS is truth John 1:14, John 14:6. There have been a few people that have had the veil lifted so that they could see the heavenly realm around us:

Elisha 2 Kings 6:17-18

Isaiah Isaiah 6:1-8

Ezekiel Ezekiel 1:4-28 and continuing prophetic visions

Daniel Daniel 7:9-10 and surrounding prophetic visions

Sometimes we are afraid of life’s circumstances. We needn’t be. God’s angels surround us and protect us. “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation [us]?” Hebrews 1:14.

Sometimes we are afraid of demonic activity. If it’s physical, we get away from it. If it’s personal, we resist it. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James 4:7-8a.

Sometimes we are afraid of the future, especially death. Again, we needn’t be. Paradise awaits us! “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Luke 23:43. “But our citizenship is in heaven.And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21

The other image given in Scripture is of an arena of which we are the runners on the track, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off  everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” Hebrews 12:1. We are on the field and in the race. We can only see the track, the hurdles, and the runners beside us. This analogy is particularly poignant to me as a track runner in high school. I have vivid memories of being on the track and being focused on that first hurdle! And just like my narrow focus, our little view of all that is going on around us is just that: LITTLE. NARROW. LIMITED. INCOMPLETE. Our faith is in the LORD. In the Philippians 3:20-21 passage, it mentions Christ’s power that enables Him to bring everything under His control. If we willingly submit to His control, we have absolutely nothing to worry about.

The next verse of the Hebrews 12:1 passage tells us on what to focus: “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.” JESUS is the One on which for us to keep our eyes fixed. The best way to do that is to read and pray: Read His Word daily–or even more often–and converse with Him constantly. Remember, READING IS PRAYING. He talks to us through His Word and we listen. Then we respond in prayer, praise and worship!

If you feel like you were made for more than what’s in this world, just know that you are! And, we will get to it eventually. Jesus IS bringing everything under His control in HIS time and in HIS way. We can trust Him on that.

Abba, I can hardly wait! In the meantime, use me as You see fit. By the time I die, I want to be used up and frayed like an old, used tennis racquet, or a chipped sword. Dare I say that I want to go out in a blaze of glory? I love Zig Ziglar’s attitude, Lord: I don’t want to slip into the grave gently; I want to slide into that grave sideways, have that casket pop open and I exclaim, “Hotdog! What a ride! What a ride!” May I have the faith and the opportunity to live that kind of life and die that kind of death, O Lord, for Your glory! Amen.

Proverbs 1 4-1-20

To be an April fool would be to not use this month to grow close to Jesus.

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight;

A friend of mine made an interesting observation yesterday. He said that he didn’t realize how much he leaned on the church for his spiritual development. Now he has been challenged to “man up” and be responsible for his own walk with the LORD. I am cheering him on! May we all take this attitude during our April quarantine.

Best verse: 1:23 Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.

When I first learned this verse, it read: If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you. 1984 NIV.

I actually like the first version better because there is hope in that one. What we DON’T want is for the second one to become true of us. The only way I know to keep it from happening is for us to DO IT NOW. Let’s quit waiting until later. Here’s the verse we want to ward off:  32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them…

Waywardness- turned or turning away from what is right or proper; willful; disobedient.

The simple- those who don’t know any better and are prone to disobedience.

Complacency- a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.

The fool- knowing what is right, but choosing wrong anyway.

Key words: “Kill,” “destroy.” Is that warning not enough to stimulate us to pick up our Bibles and start reading? To drop to our knees and start praying? To put our lives on His altar and ask Him to use us however He chooses? To worship Him for who He is? Sometimes, in our self-preservation, we miss the obvious, which is His will for our lives. What is His will? Jesus told us in John 6:29, “The work of God [His will] is this: to believe in the one he has sent [Jesus].” But not just to believe, but to follow, to listen to Him and obey His promptings, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home in them.” John 14:23. Isn’t that exciting? Isn’t that worth much more than that extra hour of sleep? That tv program? That video game?

I pray for all of you that you will take the pledge of allegiance to the Lamb and love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The Israelites loved God, but they also loved a lot of other gods. We love Jesus, but do we also love a bunch of other gods? Pray this prayer with me:

“Lord, search my heart; test me and know all my thoughts. See if there are any offensive ways in me; reveal them to me and I will repent by turning away from them and turning to You. Then lead me in Your way everlasting.” Based on Psalm 139:23-24.

Welcome to His inner circle of friends, which includes all who are willing to spend time with Him and take His commands seriously.

Abba, I pray for all who have gotten to this part of the blog. It usually means that they are seriously considering what I have written. May they be prompted by You to get up in the morning and pray. May they take a journal and/or notecards and make lists of people for which to pray, circumstances about which to pray, and to lift up Your name simply for who You are! May they write their prayers if it keeps them on task; may they speak out loud if it helps them to focus; may they kneel, stand, or pace if it helps them to be “in the moment” with You. May they find someone with which to pray who will help them to be accountable–if anything, to pray! I know I need these things in my life–and have used all of them at one time or another. I want to be known as Your friend, O LORD. May I spend as much time as I can talking to You, thinking about things I read, practicing being You to others, and looking for opportunities to witness. Amen.

Proverbs 1 3-1-20

When Jesus returns to earth, we will either be with Him or we will go to meet Him. What will it be like?

let the wise listen and add to their learning,
    and let the discerning get guidance—

As stated on February 26th, “What we know or don’t know about heaven shapes how we live our lives. Our VISION determines our hope.” Our hope, in turn, determines what values we place on things, people, events, etc. Let’s look at the hope given us in God’s Word:

Jesus is coming back to earth:

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. Revelation 19:11

19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse… Revelation 19:19-21

Those who are in heaven will be with Him:

14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. [we are with Him, but we will not fight–we don’t have any weapons!]

Those who are alive at the time of His Return will be caught up to join those coming with Him:

17 After that [the dead in Christ rising first], we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:17

Jesus is headed to Jerusalem, and so are we!

Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives [the very place to which the angels foretold He would return when He ascended! See Acts 1:11], east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. Zechariah 14:3-5

On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name. Zechariah 14:8-9

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge [see 1 Corinthians 6:3]. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years[literal? I think so. Also referenced in verses 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7]

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

What will it be like?

  1. Rarely will a person die during these 1000 years (Isaiah 65:20).
  2. We will live in houses and work the land, which will produce like it did BEFORE the FALL (Isaiah 65:21-23).
  3. The wolf and the lamb will feed together without fear or temptation; so will the lion and the ox, for both will eat straw [Isaiah 65:25].
  4. Jesus Himself will live with us and reign physically from Jerusalem. He will be available to us and will answer us before we call–even while we are still speaking He will hear (Isaiah 65:24).
  5. There will be a stream that begins at the throne on the Temple Mount and will flow east toward the Mediterranean Sea and west to the Dead Sea. It will get bigger and bigger until ships can navigate on it! It will also turn the Dead Sea into fresh water! Along its banks will be many trees–the trees of life (Ezekiel 47:1-12, Revelation 22:2).
  6. We will have jobs, some pertaining to the temple (Zechariah 14:16, Isaiah 66:20, 22); some will judge angels and other disputes (1 Corinthians 6:2), and most will work the land that will work for us (Isaiah 65:21-22).
  7. We will worship the LORD God and Jesus Christ, Yeshua HaMashiach, and enjoy His physical company. IT WILL BE GLORIOUS!!!

After the 1000 years, Satan is loosed again to deceive all those born to the nations (who were still alive upon Christ’s return) but did not receive Christ’s Lordship in their hearts (evidently, there will be many). Christ will subdue them along with Satan and his horde, judge them, and cast them into the lake of fire for eternity. He will then remove the division between the first and second heavens and the third heaven (Where God lives) and the New Jerusalem will descend to the earth (it is 1400 miles cubed!). The LORD God will be our LIGHT from then on (even though the sun, moon and stars will still be with us), and we will live in eternal glory with the Trinity and our brothers and sisters in Christ. What a future He has in store for us!!!

With these things in mind, why would we put ANY stock in this world? Jesus told us,

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

Abba, You have a wonderful Plan for us! WOW! To think that I had narrowed my gaze to just this world. Thank You for lifting my head and allowing me to see in Scripture all that You have in store for us. I praise You for Your greatness, for Your glory, for Your graciousness, and for Your grace. May I devote myself to You and to speeding your Coming along. Amen.

 

Proverbs 1 2-1-20

Through the lens of the New Testament, the Old Testament comes to life! Learning about Jesus never gets old.

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

The teaching that the parents taught their children began like this:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

All of the laws of Moses were learned as the parents taught the children. One of the laws was about uncleanness:

“‘If anyone becomes aware that they are guilty—if they unwittingly touch anything ceremonially unclean (whether the carcass of an unclean animal, wild or domestic, or of any unclean creature that moves along the ground) and they are unaware that they have become unclean, but then they come to realize their guilt; or if they touch human uncleanness (anything that would make them unclean) even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realize their guilt; when anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned. As a penalty for the sin they have committed, they must bring to the Lord a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for them for their sin.

According to the Law, when the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and when Jesus took the hand of Jairus’ daughter, He should have been defiled and become unclean, thus having to make atonement for his sin through sacrifice. INSTEAD, let’s read what happened:

20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up.26 News of this spread through all that region.

IF Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), THEN this passage would have been applicable:

25 The sin offering is to be slaughtered before the Lord in the place the burnt offering is slaughtered; it is most holy. 26 The priest who offers it shall eat it; it is to be eaten in the sanctuary area, in the courtyard of the tent of meeting. 27 Whatever touches any of the flesh will become holy… Leviticus 6:25b-27a

THEREFORE, when the woman touched the hem of His cloak and Jesus took the girl by the hand, instead of being defiled, they became holy! THEY RECEIVED LIFE! This process is what happened to us when we received Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord. He took us by the hand and raised us from the dead, thus making us holy in His sight!

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin [sacrifice] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Let us thank God for so great a salvation through the redeeming work of His Son, Jesus Christ. He has made us holy! He has set us free from the bonds of sin and death, “so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36).”

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for saving me! You have made me holy. You have also made me blameless as I am obedient to You; if I am following Your guidance and direction, then whatever problem someone has with me must be taken up with You. May I take the righteousness imparted to me very seriously. Help me to live for You today as we walk together and fellowship together. I love You, Lord. Amen.

 

 

Proverbs 1 1-1-20

In order to understand a subject, we first learn as much as we can about it. But, there’s something before knowledge…

7 The fear [love and respect] of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but [self-important] fools despise wisdom [God’s perspective] and instruction [God’s directives].

The Holy Spirit gives us a hunger and desire for God’s Word. He wants us to find out all we can about Him, His ways, and His Plan. Jesus said it like this:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

The Spirit of the LORD was upon David (you may read about his anointing in 1 Samuel 16:13). Here is what it looks like when we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our minds and hearts concerning His Word:

 

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.

 

In Psalm 119, which is a literary work of art considering that David used each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, wrote eight verses per letter, and used seven words interchangeably: law, word, statutes, ways, precepts, decrees, and commands. In this psalm we find verses like:

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
    By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.

18 Open my eyes that I may see
    wonderful things in your law.

103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 I gain understanding from your precepts;
    therefore I hate every wrong path.

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.

There are many more, so I encourage you to read the psalm looking for themes, the interchanging of words, and the heart of David as he was led by the Spirit.

For me, this year will be the Year of the Word. I am beginning today with a chronological reading of the Bible. I have done it before and gained great insight about how the different books, letters, and prophets fit into the timeline. I greatly encourage doing it. There are internet sites with reading plans, books with reading plans, and even chronological bibles that are lined out in that format. GO FOR IT!

Abba, as I study Your Word, may You open my eyes that I may see those beautiful truths about which David was talking–and all he had was the Old Testament! I have Your revealed truth in the New Testament that contains Your life, testimony, and Your words to us, along with instructions for daily living from Paul, Peter, James, John, and the writer of Hebrews. May I immerse myself in Your Word; may You baptize me with Your Holy Spirit. Looking forward to the year, Abba. Amen.

 

 

 

Proverbs 1 12-1-19

Salvation is having Christ inside us. He is now our Savior, our Boss, our Lord. He’s talking; are you listening?

32 “For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
    and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33 but whoever listens to me [wisdom] will live in safety
    and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

If we use our own reasoning, we will fail. We will be deceived by the enemy and succumb to be part of his plan. He’s too good at what he does! We must listen to the Holy Spirit all the time. The Spirit is inside us! He is constantly trying to communicate with us. He doesn’t grow tired and He never sleeps (Psalm 121:4). If we ignore Him, then we are deliberately rebelling against His wisdom and direction. Yes, it’s that serious. Once we rebel, we are open to the enemy’s charms–in fact, we join his camp!

Instead, let us fine tune our spiritual ears to hear His voice and determine in our hearts to obey His commands. If we are truly born again, then we WANT TO do His will–His way!

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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.

Our “want-to” has changed. We can no longer be satisfied with doing what we want. We want what He wants. By choosing Christ, we gave Him the right to make us holy. In fact, we promised to let Him. Why do we fight Him so?

Here is the promise of what God is doing in us:

But you, you do not identify with your old nature but with the Spirit — provided the Spirit of God is living inside you, for anyone who doesn’t have the Spirit of the Messiah doesn’t belong to him. 10 However, if the Messiah is in you, then, on the one hand, the body is dead because of sin; but, on the other hand, the Spirit is giving life because God considers you righteous11 And if the Spirit of the One who raised Yeshua from the dead is living in you, then the One who raised the Messiah Yeshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.

12 So then, brothers, we don’t owe a thing to our old nature that would require us to live according to our old nature. 13 For if you live according to your old nature, you will certainly die; but if, by the Spirit, you keep putting to death the practices of the body, you will live.

Where did I learn these principles? From reading the Word of God. Make SURE that you do it today. Don’t trust someone else to spoon-feed you; that’s for babies. Man up! Let’s do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. The Spirit calls us to His banquet table. Let’s go and feast! [Solomon 2:4]

Abba, it’s time for me to put away childish things and be adult about my spiritual health and growth. It’s all about listening to You, Lord. May I continue to fine-tune my spiritual ears to hear Your voice loud and clear. May I recognize the signs that my body is tiring and wearing down so that I can do something about it rather than fall into old habits. May I continue to fill my mind with good-for-me things rather than bad-for-me things, or even fluff. Help me to take seriously my calling to be Your ambassador to this world. Amen.

Proverbs 1 11-1-19

Proverbs is the OT way of looking like Jesus. How much simpler and rewarding it is to have Him in us!

32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
    and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety
    and be at ease, without fear of harm.

Our goal as Christians is to be disciples of Christ. What does it mean to be a disciple of His?

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

It was the same for Philip, Matthew, and all the disciples. They left their jobs, their families, and their expected futures to follow Jesus. There were many who followed Him who weren’t part of the 12. Two of those were Justus and Matthais (Matthais was chosen to take Judas Iscariot’s place among the 12. See Acts 1:21-26). In order to follow Christ, we must leave the life we were living and take up His life.  From that point on, it’s all about learning to be like Jesus. The disciples lived with Him, eating and drinking with Him, walking with Him, ministering with Him, interacting with people (sometimes negatively), but all the time they were learning from Him. They knew Him intimately as He revealed Himself to them, and in doing so, He revealed the Father to them. Did they know that they were learning to be like God?!

We each have our own personalities, our own temperaments, and our own ways to show and receive love. In the words of Keith Green, “We are like windows stained with the colors of the rainbow set in a darkened room till the Bridegroom comes to shining through.” Stained Glass Each of us is set a little differently to reveal Christ unique to us and through us.

For instance, what does Christ’s love look like through you? His joy? His peace? What does His patience look like through you? His kindness? His goodness? How about His faithfulness? His gentleness? His self-control?

We each give and receive love a little differently. Are we servants? Gift-givers? Do we love others by spending time with them? Do we affirm them with our words, or a meaningful touch?

We each have different gifts. Are we leaders? Are we details-oriented? Are we mercy-givers? Are we teachers? Come-alongsiders? Do we meet monetary needs? Are we evangelists (those for whom fruit is always ripe)?

There are so many ways and variations for us to show Christ to each other and to the world. The big thing is to spend time with Him, walk with Him, and imitate Him. Paul not only wrote a large portion of our NT, he demonstrated it to the early church, particularly to the Gentiles who did not know the OT scriptures. Here’s what he said:

Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1

Each of us will do it a little differently; each of us is at a different place in our walk with Christ. The key is to KEEP WALKING WITH CHRIST! If we look away, we will wander away. So, these next verses are key to becoming like Jesus:

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

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Abba, it is my determined focus to keep You firmly in my sights and to be right by Your side. I want to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can. May I be a willing vessel for You to use in whatever manner You desire. I just want to be part of what You are doing, Lord. May You shine through me in my unique way. May people see You in me! Amen.

Proverbs 1 10-1-19

Coasting-we don’t get that luxury. If we are not moving forward spiritually, then we are drifting backward.

(20) Out in the open wisdom [continually] calls aloud, she raises her voice [continually] in the public square; (21) on top of the [city] wall she [continually] cries out, at the city gate she [continually] makes her speech:

The Spirit is continuously speaking to us. He doesn’t wait for us to talk to Him; He is constantly speaking to us words of wisdom and insight. He is making Himself known to us through His creation and through His Spirit. Take a look:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.

 16 The Spirit himself testifies [bears witness] with our spirit that we are God’s children.

17 The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Note: This verse is OT and speaks of a time to come. That time came with Jesus Christ who joined us to Israel by destroying the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, between Israel and Gentiles (Eph. 3:11-22). We claim this verse because we are now part of Israel!

God is Ever-Present (Omnipresent). He always works in the NOW. He is calling to us even now! Let’s not take a break from listening for and hearing (heeding) His Spirit. Instead, let’s “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called“Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13

One more thing: Even though I am encouraging you to talk to God and read His Word, don’t let me talk you into anything. You do it because He has called you and you are answering His Spirit. Do it because you want to. If we can be talked into something, then we can be talked out of it. Head knowledge is not enough; we need to experience God on a personal basis with our hearts. Jesus needs to LIVE in our hearts!

What happens to a young person when he goes to a state college? He is hit from all sides with Evolution and Atheism. He will conclude one of two things.

  1. If he has a solid faith that is based upon a personal relationship with Jesus, he will survive spiritually.
  2. If he has a solid faith PLUS good grounding in the Word of God and the truth of Genesis 1-11 (plus the rest of the Bible), he will find like-minded believers and actually prosper.
  3. If he has only a head knowledge of salvation, if the Spirit doesn’t reside in his heart and does not bear witness that he is a child of God, then he will be converted to atheism and recant his salvation and belief in the Bible and God.

We need more than just a “the Bible tells me so” faith. We need:

  1. Relationship- A genuine relationship with God through Jesus Christ via His Holy Spirit;
  2. Foundation- Proper grounding in the truths of the Bible based upon archeology, history, astronomy, biology, physiology, sociology, and science in general.

RELATIONSHIP + FOUNDATION = SOLID FAITH

NOW we understand why we have Sunday School and Life 101. NOW we know why we are to read God’s Word everyday and follow His leading. As we go, people will ask us the reason for our faith. We are NOW able and ready to tell them. Peter said it best:

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed [convicted by the Spirit] of their slander.

Abba, I ask that You drive deep in our hearts a love for Your Word. Give us a thirst for knowledge that validates and verifies the truth of its history and its message. May we take seriously the upbringing of our young people so that they are prepared to meet the enemy head-on. In fact, I pray that for ALL our people! Give us courage; give us strength; give us faith, O LORD! Amen.

 

Proverbs 1 9-1-19

Many Christians forget that they have Christ in them. They receive Christ–and then forget that they received Christ!

(20) Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; (21) on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech:

God speaks to all people through the wonderful complexity and beauty of our world. With each new invention, we find ways to discover the marvelous works of our Creator.

The heaven declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (2) Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. Psalm 19:1-2

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20

Today in Sunday’s Cool (Sunday School), we are looking at the Monarch butterfly. It comes up from its home in Mexico and migrates north into America for four generations, each butterfly living 2-4 weeks. In the fifth generation, its life is extended to nine months and it flies back to its home in Mexico. Why? Because God programmed it that way! There is no explanation by (D)Evolution for this behavior.

The Fool- a person who knows what is right, but chooses wrong instead.

Right now, I’ll bet you’re thinking that I’m talking about evolutionists–and you’re right, to a certain extent. But, I am also talking about Christians who ignore the Holy Spirit inside of them.

Answer this question: Do you try to please God by what you do?

Paul asked the question in this way: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Galatians 3:2

We are ALREADY pleasing to God through Jesus Christ. Our faith in Him put us in right standing with the Father (John 14:21, 23). What we do each day we do according to what we believe about that relationship.

  1. Is it just unto salvation? Are we on our own after we are saved?
  2. Is it up to us to generate the power to overcome sin?
  3. What happens when we fail?

Salvation means “Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).” He lives in our hearts and lives through the Holy Spirit. We are permanently linked to Him. We just need to believe that He cares for us and wants to help us through this life. Let’s answer those questions:

  1. Our salvation is pervasive. It spans our entire being. He wants ALL of us–all the time! He wants constant communication with us. He wants to fellowship with us all the time!
  2. Our spiritual power comes from our relationship with Christ and our knowledge and understanding of what sin does to us: It destroys us. That in itself circumvents a lot of sin. Those sins that continue to plague us are the ones that drive us to the cross. His forgiveness is complete and ongoing. The very struggle is evidence of our new nature in Christ. WE WILL HAVE VICTORY EVENTUALLY. We must believe this.
  3. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (2) He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2. He who knows the past, present and future has already dealt with our sin. Regardless of what we do, we are positionally right with God. Now, relationally, we can turn away from Him in unbelief (believing that something else is more important than Christ, more fun than being with Christ, or more powerful than Christ), in which case, we lose all the benefits of being with Christ: His love, joy, peace, and the other fruit of the Spirit, as well as our influence and testimony. Yet, throughout our rebellion, Jesus is still pleased to call us His own, because He knows that eventually we will get it.

Abba, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ that they will become aware of Your presence in their lives, that they would believe that You have their best interests at heart, and that their best choice is to trust You with their lives. May they learn to turn to You for Your opinion on everything, believing that You really do have all the answers. May today be a starting point for them as they follow You. Me, too, Lord! Amen.