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.

Proverbs1 10-1-20

I am a firm believer in the power of the Holy Spirit in each person’s life. I write Proverbs because I feel called to do so. You read them because YOU feel called to do so. Otherwise, it’s out of duty or misplaced loyalty, neither of which are eternal.

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

This chapter is the epitome of our daily walk in this world. We either listen to the Spirit or ignore the Spirit–sometimes both throughout the day! It boils down to desire: Do we WANT the Spirit to conform us to the image of Christ? The LORD Jesus was all about what God was doing in the world concerning the souls of men. He was NOT concerned with the things of this world that pull on us so hard, things like pleasure, comfort, security, power, influence, thrill, and self-satisfaction. In fact, to follow Christ, we must give up these things.

22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
    How long will mockers delight in mockery
    and fools hate knowledge?

Simple people live their lives without any moral direction and are inclined to evil. It’s natural. If we don’t take on Christ’s moral direction every day, we will incline to evil. It’s that simple.
Fools hate being told that what they want to do is not pleasing to God. They don’t care. Beware of this feeling! It leads to mockery.
Mockers take delight in sin. They get a charge out of it. If we are wise, we will recognize this tendency in ourselves and repent!

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

God calls to us each morning and all day to come to Him for cleansing and intimate fellowship. It’s what salvation is all about! We come through Jesus as the Spirit empowers us (He is our connection).

24 But since you refuse to listen when I call
and no one pays attention when I
stretch out my hand,
25 since you disregard all my advice
and do not accept my rebuke,

We have a CHOICE. FREE WILL is all over this passage. God doesn’t want robots. He wants children who love Him and want to fellowship with Him. Recognize the signs of His interaction with You. Listen, pay attention, heed, and accept!

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.

Be not deceivedGod is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7 Here again, free will.

32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
    and the complacency of fools will destroy them;

Verses 30-32 are some of the saddest verses in the Scriptures because it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s our choice to heed His voice and follow Him. Daily. Continuously.

33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety
    and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

Best verse! Of course, we’re not talking so much about physical safety, but safety of the soul. Those who are in Christ Jesus, walking with Him and enjoying intimate fellowship with Him are not concerned with physical safety or harm. We trust that everything that happens to us is for the good of the kingdom and for us. How can physical danger and harm be good for us? We all ultimately die, and when we do, we get to go be with Him. Why not die for the sake of the Gospel? The intimate fellowship that comes during hardship and pain is the BIG MYSTERY of Christianity. Need more information? Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 and 12:1-10.

Let’s live for Christ today. He did so much for us. We should be grateful.

Abba, I know I am! Thank You for so great a salvation. Thank You for wanting to have a personal, intimate relationship with me. I am honored and humbled. I want to be like You, LORD, for I know that the more I am like You, the sweeter the fellowship we have! It is the desire of my heart; please grant it according to Psalm 37:4. Thank You! Amen.

 

Proverbs 1 9-1-20

The problem with Proverbs 1 is that it is impossible to do/keep humanly. We need the divine power of the Holy Spirit!

22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
    How long will mockers delight in mockery
    and fools hate knowledge?
23 Repent at my rebuke!
    Then I will pour out my heart and thoughts to you,
    I will make known to you my teachings.

God equips us. He gives us everything we need for godly living (2 Peter 1:3). The Holy Spirit within us IS GOD. He is Jesus in Spirit. We can equally say that Jesus lives in us (Colossians 1:27). How does God equip us? We have spiritual weapons:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

What weapons? There are three that I have found in Scripture that work individually as well as collectively. They are:

17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:17-18

The word of God confirms what the Spirit says to His children. If we hear something that cannot be confirmed in the word of God, we are to “take it captive and make it obedient to Christ.” If it is truly wrong, we reject it, refuting it with the word of God; if it needs correction, we correct it according to the word of God; if it needs explanation, we explain it using the word of God.

We need to keep in mind that the word of God was never intended to be used without the presence and participation of God, through Christ, with the Holy Spirit. Hence, prayer. Talking to God assumes that He is present and listening. Listening to God assumes that He has something to tell us. Both of these assumptions are good ones based upon the word of God (see today’s Proverbs verses).

There is one more weapon, and that is PRAISE. When we praise, we utter with our mouths truths about God, what we know about God, and how we feel about God. These thoughts become concrete in our minds and lives as we speak them through recitation, conversation, and song. Want to sense the presence of Christ? Speak audibly to Him!

2 Chronicles 20 is a great example of how praise is used as a spiritual weapon. Here is the main passage:

21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
    for his love endures forever.”

22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 

Here’s how it works: We pray according to the Word of God; we praise according to our faith that God hears our prayers and answers them. What did God tell us to do?

19 [Speak] to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:19-20

This is not just on Sunday morning, but an all-week affair! If we truly want to have a flourishing relationship with the heavenly Father, then we will begin a conversation with Him when we first get up in the morning and go to sleep at night without ever ending the conversation. I guess we could say that we resume yesterday’s conversation with Him, which means that we NEVER stop conversing with God! Whether we address Him as Father, Jesus, or Holy Spirit doesn’t matter; they are all ONE. He just wants our fellowship and obedience. Why our obedience? Because we live in the enemy’s territory and our flesh still wants to drag us back into bondage–more on that later.

Today, let’s make Him our PRIORITY. Let’s use our weapons to combat the enemy in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

Abba, the more I study Your Word, the more I learn about You. The more I learn about You, the more the Holy Spirit confirms You and Your truths in my heart. The more He confirms, the more confident I am in believing that You have my best interests at heart and that I can trust You. In this trust, I pledge to obey You all day and in every way. Speak loudly, LORD; I’m a little deaf–literally and spiritually. amen.

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.