Proverbs 2 7-2-21

How important is it to you to connect with Christ and be like Christ? The Spirit asks us this question routinely.

1 My child, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair–every good path.

A familiar pastor said that we would do well to give God the first minutes of our day, the first dollars of our income, and the first day of the week*. Each sets a precedent for the rest of our day, our week, and our dollars. Let’s look at each:

  1. The first few minutes of our day- Devotion
    1. We acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and the Director of our lives
    2. We ask Him to search us, to know our hearts, to probe us, and to expose any area that needs attention (Psalm 139:23-24)
    3. We pledge to follow Him faithfully all day
    4. We feast on His Word so that we have daily nourishment for our souls and fresh inroads for the Spirit
    5. We keep the line of communication open all day
  2. The first dollars of our income- Grace Giving
    1. We thank the Lord for His provision
    2. We take our daily/weekly/bi-monthly/monthly income and ask the Lord how much He wants us to give
    1. We give it to our local body of believers for them to do with as they seek the Lord (no strings attached)
    2. We look for other ways to give between paychecks (a neighbor needs groceries, a person needs the brakes on his bike or car fixed, etc)
    3. We ask the Lord the next time we give if the current amount is still okay
  3. The first day of the week- Corporate Worship
    1. We find a body of believers that have met to seek the Lord and to worship Him
    2. We set aside our preferences for the sake of the group
    3. We participate in worship recognizing that God has called us together for His sake and His glory
    4. We thank God for the privilege and honor to meet with others in His Church, His Body, His Bride

In our book on Discipleship that we are going through on Sunday evenings, a person who is successful in these three areas is well on his way to becoming a spiritual young adult. Spiritual young adults have moved from an egocentric outlook to a ministry-minded outlook. They no longer do things according to how they feel, but according to what is right and true according to God’s Word, and what Jesus is personally calling them to do. They are constantly seeking His face and His will. One day soon, they will be led to a person to whom they will be a mentor/discipler, and then he or she will become a mentor/discipler to someone else. And the process continues.

Which part of this post is the Lord calling you to work on? He usually doesn’t ask us to work on all of these points at once, but He does have us focus on one or two, depending on what is needed in our lives. Ask Him; He will tell you (actually, even as you read this sentence, you already know…).

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will heed Your voice and obey. May they not see working on these areas as drudgery, but as Discipleship 3.0. Help them to move from whatever spiritual level they are to the next one. Help them to see that we all grow daily; where we grow is up the Your Spirit. Move in our hearts, O Lord. You are the Potter; we are the clay. Amen.

*Faith Full, Part 5, Private Disciplines

Proverbs 2 6-2-21

“We need God to obey God.” Jackie Hill-Perry

10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

Robin and I listened to a podcast from Focus on the Family the other day and heard the testimony of Jackie Hill-Perry, who came out of the lesbian lifestyle into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Her statement brings a fresh perspective to how people come to Christ.

44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them…” John 6:44

People tend to look on the outside of people and make judgements as to whether they can/will be saved–or not. The problem is that we simply do not have the spiritual discernment to know whether they will or they won’t. When the prophet Samuel was searching for the next king of Israel, he looked at the first six of Jesse’s sons thinking that one of them would be king because of how they looked as men, but God told Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him [them]. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7. God had chosen a man after His own heart: David (1 Samuel 13:14).”

The truth is that we don’t know what God will use to spark a desire in the heart of a person that turns his/her heart to Him. We are called to plant seeds. The sower in the parable (Matthew 13) did not prepare the soil; he simply cast the seed as he walked. We are to do the same. How? By being witnesses to the truth. The truth of what? Of what God has done in our lives through Jesus Christ. To quote Mary Magdalene on The Chosen, “I was one way, and now I am another, and the only thing in between is Him (Jesus).”

Let’s be about the Father’s business of being witnesses to the miracle that God hath wrought in our hearts and lives. As we do, let’s rejoice with Him that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).

Abba, thank You that everyone begins as sinners and that everyone can come to a saving knowledge of You. The sin doesn’t matter; it’s You rising in their hearts that does. Move mightily, O Lord, and move us to reach out to any and every one You point out–no matter what the sin. They are all potential brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen.

Proverbs 2 5-2-21

Has it ever occurred to you that Jesus has things He wants to accomplish with you? that He has a plan for your life with Him?

20 So you will walk in the way of the good [with Him] and keep to the paths of the righteous [where He wants to go and do what He wants to do].

Yesterday, I told you that I would ask you a difficult question today. It is based upon Acts 5:20, “Go, stand in the temple courts, and tell the people all about this new life.” I asked yesterday,

Is Jesus worth the risk?

Here’s the rest of the question:

If Jesus is worth the risk,
and, assuming that He equips us,
how might we share the gospel with others?

Let’s make sure that we have the “equipping” part down. In Hebrews 13:20-21, we get a real solid foundation of what Jesus does for us,

20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

I like the way that God and Jesus are interwoven in this passage; they really are one (John 10:30). I also like that we will be equipped and used for His glory by His Spirit, which is Jesus. How did Jesus tell us we would be used for His glory? In Acts 1:8, we get a promise and a prophecy,

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Did the promise come true? Yes (Acts 2:4). Did the prophecy come true? Yes. Just read Acts and then continue on to today. The term, “witnesses,” is different than “evangelists.” Evangelism is a gift that is not given to everyone (Ephesians 4:11-13, 1 Corinthians 12:27-30). Being witnesses simply means that we testify to what we have seen and heard. John did this in his letter,

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 1 John 1:1

I bolded the appropriate words for us: Heard, seen, looked at, touched, proclaim. Now, let’s go back to our beginning verse and see how these words apply:

“Go, stand in the temple courts, and tell the people all about this new life.” Acts 5:20

  1. Heard– The disciples had heard straight from Jesus about the new life. They knew it pretty well.
  2. Seen– They had seen Him do miracles; these “signs and wonders” attested to who He is and about His authority to bring about the New Covenant that He was implementing.
  3. Looked at- The disciples had looked at the life of Jesus and found everything He said to be true. In fact, the cross, death, burial, and resurrection sealed their conviction that Jesus is Lord.
  4. Touched– Even though only Thomas is named for touching Jesus’ scars, I’ll bet all of them did (Luke 24:39)! I know I would!!! They ate fish with Him. He probably hugged them, too. In fact, the traditional Hebrew greeting included a kiss. Jesus was real! They were also touched by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
  5. Proclaim– Proclaiming what they had experienced was simple, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, it was even easy. The circumstances were tough, but when Christ is in us empowering us and protecting us from the evil one, being obedient becomes easy; we just do what He tells us to do when He tells us to do it. Will we always be delivered physically as the disciples were in Acts 5:19? No. In fact, every disciple except John died a martyr’s death. It’s all about furthering the gospel. It is said that the “Church is watered by the blood of martyrs” (by L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly ed. in English, n. 27, 4 July 2014) I encourage you to click the link and read the entire letter.

Is Jesus worth the risk? I believe He is. Do you? If so, then let’s be true and faithful witnesses wherever we go with whomever we meet.

Abba, as we assemble today as Your church, Your bride, may we come to You with singleness of mind and heart. When we do, I know that You will affirm in our hearts the reality of all that You taught and promised. Our faith is built on Your promises: You are who You said You are (God in the flesh), You did what You said You would do (became the Last Sacrifice–and then rose from the dead), and You will do what You promised to do (advance Your kingdom through Your church, and then come back to rule and reign). Your return may be soon, Lord, but there is so much work to be done that I ask You to tarry a while longer. May Your kingdom come to earth through Your church, Lord Jesus, until You enjoin the heavens once again and hand the scepter back to our Heavenly Father (Psalm 110:1, 1 Corinthians 15:22-28). What a day that will be! Until then, may we be about Your business. Amen.

Proverbs 2 4-2-21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 2 3-2-21

Want to be protected? Seen as one of God’s faithful ones? For knowledge to be pleasant to your soul? Keep reading!

6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

God wants to have a conversation with us. He wants for us to talk to Him and for us to listen to Him. It’s all He’s ever wanted from the day He created Adam and Eve, “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day…” and a conversation ensued–albeit, not a very pleasant one. The point is that the LORD God came to talk with Adam and Eve. the whole point of the cross was for us to be reunited with Him again for fellowship. Wherever we got the idea that God barely tolerates us was NOT in Scripture. On the contrary! He loves us so much that He came to set us free from the consequences of our sin so that we can have Him live with us, IN us. So, how seriously are we taking our relationship with Him?

In John 17:19, Jesus said, “For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” Sanctified means, “to make holy.” What that means to us is that we are made to be like Jesus. In fact, He sanctified Himself (only God can do that); it was His full intention to be set apart to die for us so that we could be truly sanctified by having the Holy Spirit come and take up residence in us. It is He who cleans us up, dresses us in a white robe, gives us the ring of sonship and the sandals of sonship, and He signs–and seals–our adoption papers. He is the reason that we are part of God’s family! He is God and He lives in us! One of my favorite verses is Colossians 1:27, the part that says, “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”

Are we really interested in Him guiding our lives? If so, then we will talk to Him, we will listen to Him, and we will heed what He says. As the old hymns says, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

Tomorrow, we will finish our study on prayer. We will look at how to pray for ourselves and for others.

Abba, it’s kind of scary to think about talking to You. You are King of the Universe, yet You live in our hearts. Turning to You in our minds brings us face-to-face with You! May we get comfortable with talking to You about anything and everything. Help us to obey quickly when we catch ourselves thinking about things that we shouldn’t be thinking about, because You are the one who brought it to our attention. Even this morning, I found another verse verifying the fact that You know me inside and out, Psalm 33:15, “He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.” The more we acknowledge You, the more we will notice how much You are a part of our lives already! Make us even more aware, Abba. Make us like Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 2 2-2-21

Three questions to ask yourself when praying: Why am I asking? Am I willing to step aside? Who gets the glory?

10 For wisdom will enter your heart [through the Holy Spirit], and knowledge [of Him] will be pleasant to your soul.

Often when people pray, they do not get what they ask. Even though Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name,” (John 16:23) there is a problem, which is that we don’t really ask “in His name.”

“In His name” implies that we are asking in the same spirit and intent of Jesus Himself. In order to have that same spirit, there are some questions we need to ask ourselves. These three questions are from the book on prayer by Ronnie Floyd that we are going through in staff prayer meeting. They are:

  1. “Why am I asking God for this?”
  2. “Am I willing to lay aside my will so that God’s will can be done?”
  3. Is my main concern that God will get the glory for it?”

These questions are covered in the model prayer taught my Jesus to His disciples in Matthew 6:9-13,

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.

The first question of “Why am I asking God for this?” is covered in “Your kingdom come.” What we ask must have to do with the furtherance of the kingdom of God. If it is for our own pleasure and our own will, it will probably interfere with God’s kingdom. Answer this question candidly.

The second question of “Am I willing to lay aside my will so that God’s will can be done?” is covered in “Your will be done.” His will over our will; that’s the way it needs to be. Jesus prayed, “Let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.” Matthew 26:39. We must learn to pray the same way.

The third question of “Is my main concern that God will get the glory for it?” is covered in “on earth as it is in heaven.” God’s will is always done in heaven, completely and fully. God’s glory is utmost in heaven. We must make it our main concern here on this earth, as well. In fact, bringing God glory is our primary task. We accomplish this task through our obedience. Our obedience brings Him glory, which Jesus demonstrated by “becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8. His obedience brought His Father great glory, “Father, glorify your name!” “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again [speaking of the cross and resurrection].” John 12:28.

Of course, if we ignore these questions when we pray, it means that either we are not communicating (we are not really interested in a relationship with the Father) or we do not want to yield (Lordship is not part of our plan). Either way, we are headed for destruction as sin takes hold of our lives and destroys us. God loves us, but He will not keep us from suffering the consequences of our own bad choices. He will guide us, warn us, and pick us up and dress our wounds when we fall, but He loves us too much to keep us from the lessons learned through hardship.

Let’s make it our life’s goal to bring glory and honor to our Lord, whether in life or in death.

Abba, it seems that each time I want something, I have to ask these questions. When will I stop having selfish and self-centered desires? When I die? Oh, in that case, please lead me to ask each time I desire something! May I be open and honest with myself–even when it hurts. I want You to gain much glory–how do I go about accomplishing this goal? Through obedience, I know. May I get better and better at dying to self and allowing You to have first place in my heart and life, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 2 1-2-21

Having an “undivided heart” means that we must decide who we will follow: The LORD, or ourselves (idols). It’s a daily decision.

Today’s Proverbs chapter is one of my favorites. It shows us how to follow by using the “IF/THEN” approach. Let’s look at verses 1-5.

IF:

  • We accept His words as true and store them up within us as the manual for righteous living;
  • We turn away from folly (the mindset and attitude of this world) and turn to His wisdom that is presented to us in His Word;
  • We apply our hearts and minds to understanding what the Spirit is teaching us;
  • We call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding by confessing to the Spirit that we NEED Him to open our minds and hearts to what He is saying;
  • We make His knowledge, His wisdom, and His will more important than silver and hidden treasure,

THEN:

  • We will understand what it means to fear the LORD–not a fear of punishment nor a fear of disappointing Him, but one of awe and respect and to realize that we are in His presence and we are SO out of our element! We stand in the presence of the KING OF THE UNIVERSE–and, yet, He loves us as His very own children!
  • We will find the knowledge of God in that we know Him personally and intimately.

The other verse I want to study is Psalm 86:11, “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” In order to unite our hearts, we must first recognize that we have divided hearts. Divided between what? God’s way and our way. In order to accept God’s way, we must trust Him implicitly (completely) and explicitly (Him only). Satan wants to place doubt in our minds and get us to question the goodness of God:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die [the lie]. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Satan got Eve to question God’s motivation for not eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We know NOW that we weren’t ready for the draw that such knowledge has on us. Indeed, we cannot resist the temptation to do evil! But God, in His GOODNESS, had the framework of salvation already in place (see Ephesians 1:3-14). Now, we have the working of grace through the Holy Spirit, “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly [out of control] passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age (Titus 2:12).

Today, let’s strive to live with undivided hearts that are completely given over to our Lord and Savior, Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ). There is SO MUCH to learn, so let’s get started! Let’s accept, store up, turn, apply, call out, cry aloud, look for, and search for the Father in Scripture and in prayer.

Abba, I pray that You would teach me to have an undivided heart, to recognize and acknowledge that I have the knowledge of good and evil, but I also have the power through Your Spirit to choose righteously. I understand that I was not designed to make decisions on my own. You walk with me, holding my hand and guiding me with Your counsel (Psalm 73:23-24). May I trust You implicitly and explicitly today, Father. Amen.

Proverbs 2 12-2-20

We can trust the Bible because of its accuracy concerning prophecy. Jesus fulfilled ALL of the Old Testament Scriptures. Here are some big ones…

6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

Anytime we read in the Old Testament, we must remember that it tells His Story from beginning to End. To think of Christ as a Newcomer to the scene would be erroneous. Christ was with the Father before Creation. One simply has to read Proverbs 8:22-31 to verify this truth. NOTE: If you read that passage, be aware that some translations use, “given birth,” when the best translation is, “brought forth;” brought forth as what? The Sacrifice: “The Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” Revelation 13:8.

Since we are talking about creation, let’s look at Jeremiah 33.

“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’”

Let’s assume that “calling to Him” means reading His Word. Looking a little further in the chapter, we see that He has a surprise for us:

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

I consider this passage a Christmas passage because it speaks of the coming of Messiah, who will hold both offices of King and High Priest: His Kingship in Revelation 19:16, and His Priesthood in Hebrews 4:14.

A little further still, we read,

22 “I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.”

Here’s where it gets interesting because it’s talking about us! How are we descended from David? How can we be priests? When we received Christ into our lives and the Holy Spirit took up residence in us, we were adopted into the family of God, and Christ became our Big Brother. Romans 8:15-17 says as much:

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

As for the priesthood, 1 Peter 2:9 and Revelation 5:10 both refer to us a kingdom of priests. Priests are the go-betweens, the intercessors, the ambassadors for Christ to the world. That’s our new job!

The real tie-in to Christmas is in the wording, “will never fail.” In other words, it will never end. Now, where have we heard that phrase before? Oh, yeah! It’s in Luke 1:32-33, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

The Bible is rich with the promises of God. If we can trust the ones that He has already given us through Christ, then we can trust Him for the ones He has promised us in the future.

Abba, may You continue to reveal Yourself through Your Word. There is SO MUCH there for us to discover about You and Your Plan through Your promises. May we take the time to seek You even as You call us to Yourself. Amen.

Proverbs 2 11-2-20

How was your worship of the LORD Jesus yesterday? Fulfilling? Frustrating? Next week’s worship begins today.

1 My child, if you accept [in your heart] my words [what I have said to you in My Word] and store up my commands within you…(5) then you will understand the fear of the LORD [who He is] and find the [personal] knowledge of God.

The whole point of our salvation is to have a personal, thriving relationship with Jesus Christ via His Spirit who indwells us. Jesus lives in us! “Christ in us, the hope of glory” Colossians 1:27b. This mystery is worth looking into every day! But, how do I know about this mystery? BECAUSE I READ IT IN HIS WORD! “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery…” Colossians 1:26-27a.

Listen to Paul: “I have become its [the church’s] servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness–” Colossians 1:25.

If we believe that Paul has, indeed, been commissioned by God, then we need to heed his words, which means that we need to read them, study them, and then heed them. Are you ready? Let’s go!

We proclaim Him [Jesus Christ], teaching and admonishing everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I [we] labor, strenuously contending with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me [us]. Colossians 1:28-29.

Abba, You know that this passage has been a part of my life for many years. It is the foundation of my ministry. May I continue to make You first in my life; may I read and study Your Word, for I know that when I do, Your Spirit teaches and admonishes me. Does it hurt sometimes? Yes, but it’s a good and healing hurt. I want to be just like You, Jesus, no matter how painful it can be or how long it takes. You are my LORD and MASTER. May it be according to Your will. Amen.

Proverbs 2 10-2-20

Want to take your Christianity seriously? Then do this: Tell Him. I promise He knows. He’s waiting…

2 My child, if you accept…store up…turn your ear…apply your heart…call out…cry aloud…look for…search…
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

The Spirit is the One prompting you at this very moment. The fact that you opened up this post and are reading it shows your interest. What will we gain?

  1. What it means to fear the LORD, not in a negative way, but in respect and awe. He is serious about our commitment.
  2. God Himself. He wants us to know Him personally and intimately (Proverbs 1:23).
  3. We will gain knowledge and understanding (v6).
  4. We will have success in our walk because He is our shield against the enemy (v7).
  5. God will guard our course and protect us against the enemy as we walk with Him.

His call for us to join Him is there in His Word. Remember that He is Ever-Present, so when we read Isaiah 55, He is talking to us at this very moment!

Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.

Jesus offers us all these things at no cost to us–just to Him.

Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.

I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
    a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
    and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has endowed you with splendor.”

God has big plans for us if we only will give ourselves completely to Him.

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.

Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

God is interested in our past only in that He wants to redeem it. If we give Him our past, then He works it into the fabric of His will for us and Him.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

How God accomplishes this purpose is not a matter we need to understand, but to trust. He is GOD; let’s let Him be God on His own (He doesn’t need our help).


12 You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.”

God receives glory when we trust Him and follow Him, when we look for Him in the Scriptures and search for Him as we would for hidden treasure.

Today, read His Word and strive for Him. Make the extra effort to know Him. Ask Him to reveal Himself. He will! It all begins with this prayer:

LORD, I give all I know of myself to all I know of You. Take me and fill me; I’m Yours. Amen.

NOTE: For those who feel that the Scriptures are not the only way to know God, know that what you say is true. Prayer is the only certain way to know Him. But, we should facilitate the avenues He has provided for us, and His written Word is a great place for us to start. When we have exhausted this resource, then we can move on to other things. Also, commentaries count as long as we read the Scriptures for ourselves.

Proverbs 2 9-2-20

Our spirituality is our responsibility–to a point. It’s like getting our hair cut. We sit in the chair, but the LORD “cuts our hair.”

1 My child, IF you accept my words…IF you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding…IF you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, THEN you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. (1-5)

The key to this passage is the CHOICE that is given by the Father and honored by Him. He allows the wicked to “walk in dark ways” (v13) and the adulterous woman to “ignore the covenant she made before God” (v17). Are we really trying to live righteously, relying on the Spirit to lead us and to strengthen us even as He coaches us? God “equips us with everything good for doing His will,” but are we letting Him “work in us what is pleasing to Him?” (Hebrews 13:21). Let’s take an inventory:

  1. Do we habitually sin and not care?
  2. Is there any Holy Spirit-conviction in our lives?
  3. Do we feel guilty when we do wrong or only when we get caught?

Last Sunday, I told of my recommitment. Johnny Bisagno took nearly 30 minutes to graphically describe a beating and crucifixion Roman-style. Jesus endured them both because of my sin. Sin separates us from the Father by taking us the wrong way–right off a cliff. It destroys us! THAT’S why God hates sin so much. Jesus took the ugly punishment for our sins so that we wouldn’t have to. Why, then, do we treat His commands with such disdain? Why does sin not bother us? With Him living inside us, shouldn’t we hear or sense His crying out before we sin, during our sin, and after our sin?

Here’s a good litmus test: If you ever cop an attitude, I promise you that it’s because of your rebellious nature. We get in the flesh. “Attitude” is our version of playing God. In fact, we may even use the words, “If I were in charge…if that was my child…If I were God…” We’ve all been there; we’ve all done that; we all have the T-shirt.

James tells us what to do in 4:4-10. Let’s read it:

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world [to live like the people of the world do] becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Maybe we ought to try this approach one Sunday: We come in and fall on our faces before God; we begin by submitting ourselves to Him. We resist the devil by resisting the urge to get up before we have finished. We ask for the Spirit to wash us, to purify us, and to make us single-minded. We grieve our sin, mourn over lost opportunities, and wail for sinners who refuse to repent. We see this world for what it is: sick, sin-saturated, and in control of the devil. We then humble ourselves before the Lord and wait for Him to lift us up. What would He raise us up to do?

  1. Praise.
  2. Worship.
  3. Pray.
  4. Go.

The promise for us is success in giving the Spirit opportunity to convict of sin in someone’s life. That person may not accept it, but we must be faithful. We never know with whom He’s dealing nor His timing. Ours is to obey. We can only do that when we can clearly hear His voice. We can only do THAT when we are cleared of all sin–that which stands between us and the Father.

Did you pass the test? Then pass this one: Take extra time today to confess sin to the Father (He already knows). Give it up to Him and allow Him to replace it with His gifts of love, joy, peace, and whatever else is needed for the next step. You’ll never regret it.

Abba, I’ve reached a point where our complacency needs overhauling. May we spend as much time praying as we do anything else today. May we agonize over lost friends and relatives, neighbors and enemies (political and otherwise). May we be willing to give up anything and everything for the opportunity to be witnesses for You–even our rights as Americans, our safety, and even our lives if You deem it necessary. Ignite us, Father. Fan us into flame. Make us burn for You in a dark world. Amen.

Proverbs 2 8-2-20

Want to beat bigotry? Have a common bond that is higher than skin color, culture differences, age, or heritage.

Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
    from men whose words are perverse [they will lead you astray],
13 who have left the straight paths
    to walk in dark ways [they no longer look beyond the surface],
14 who delight in doing wrong
    and rejoice in the perverseness of evil [their minds are warped],
15 whose paths are crooked
    and who are devious in their ways [they are like their father, the devil].

Wicked men would have us believe that people are different in character and worth because of skin color (we all come from the same set of people: Adam and Eve, and then Noah and His family), nationality, political standing, social position, and the amount of wealth one has, all of which are only surface circumstances. King David had the right idea by choosing to bond over something bigger than any of these differences:

63 I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow Your precepts. Psalm 119:63

If we choose to be friends with all who love the LORD, then verse 64 comes true, too:

64 The earth is filled with Your love, LORD; teach me Your decrees. Psalm 119:64

The world gets darker because people of the dark just get darker. But, we have the cure for darkness: the Light of Christ! He shines in us and through us. If we pray for those who are caught in darkness, maybe the LORD will send His Spirit to convict their hearts and revival will break out in Washington, D.C. or New York or even California! But, we must pray!

Let us pray:

  • That God would convict OUR hearts of sin and show us where we have compromised with the world–and then repent!
  • That the LORD would move in our very own Metroplex, and that He would begin in BWBC.
  • That we would be brave enough and wise enough to get on our faces before God and ask Him to use us as His instruments for revival.
  • That we would set aside everything that divides us and focus on what unites us, or rather, Whom, who is Christ.

May we wait patiently upon the LORD and “seek His face with all our hearts (v. 58)” and maybe He will send His Spirit to fall on us as it has in days past. It’s not too late for OKC, for Oklahoma, for America, or for the world. LET’S PRAY!

Abba, I join with my brothers and sisters in Christ to look beyond our differences to unite in our common ground–at the foot of the cross. We have “one body and one Spirit, just as we were called to one hope when we were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:4-6. So, LORD, may we come together in Your name and in Your power to do something extraordinary, which is unite in prayer for revival in our land. “Lord, send a revival, and let it begin in me.” Amen.

Proverbs 2 7-2-20

Do we WANT to “walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous?” Are we Spirit-led?

20 Thus you will walk in the ways of the good
    and keep to the paths of the righteous.

Abba, I pray for my readers today that they would find within them Your motivation to seek You. May Your Spirit urge them to “look for you as for silver and search for you as for hidden treasure” (v.4).

I pray for Your conviction of sin in their lives, that as You shine the light of Your grace on those areas that they would willingly acknowledge them (for You both know what they are) and then release them to You. May they look to You for strength to deal with them and for ways to set those guard rails back far enough that they are not tempted in those areas (I’m including myself in this prayer, LORD!).

I pray that You will give them a hunger for your Word and a thirst for Your Presence. They go hand-in-hand! May we learn Your words and then learn to speak them in situations. One in particular that I am going to use, Jesus, is John 14:27, particularly the part about the peace you give us. Help me weave it into conversations, LORD.

As for Your presence, may we get to the point that we look for You and to You concerning everything. Help us to be completely and totally dependent on You for knowledge, insight, discernment, prudence, wisdom (seeing from Your perspective), instruction, and discretion–heavy on discretion! “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD, keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not let my heart be drawn (in)to what is evil…” Psalm 141:2-4a.

May You kindle a fire in each of my readers to seek fellowship with other believers. You designed us to be social. We are all parts of Your Body; we are together the Bride of Christ; we are individually and collectively Your New Temple. Help us to remember these realities and overcome our tendencies to withdraw and remain aloof.

May You place within us the desire for others to know You as we know You. May You call us to join You as You work in our familys’ lives, our friends’ lives, our co-workers’ lives, and even strangers’ lives. May we be witnesses for You and “be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have–with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). 

Lastly, LORD, I ask that You would ramp up Your love, joy and peace that flow from You as we draw close to You in prayer and Bible study, both individually and collectively. Make our time with You extra special. We are counting on it!

We love You, LORD, and we pledge ourselves to You once again. May today be special because we are walking with You. We give all we know of us to all we know of You. May we trade our opinions for Your opinions, our will for Your will, our feelings for Your feelings, our life for Your life, etc. Live through us even as we die to ourselves. Now, to You be all the praise, all the honor, and all the glory, LORD Jesus. Thank You, Abba. Holy Spirit, speak to our hearts. Amen.

Critique of #8 We Owe a Debt to Israel June 2, 2020

One of the things I like about posting is the feedback I get. In this case, I need to make some adjustments and clarifications to what I said. The blue print is what I have either added or changed from the original. The red print is either a link or is the subjective material.

We dealt a little bit concerning this subject in yesterday’s post. “We owe a debt of gratitude to Israel and should help/evangelize them every chance we get, ‘For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the [Christian] Jews to share with them their material blessings. Romans 15:27.’”

For instance, in 1973, war was–yet again–declared on Israel. Prime Minister Golda Meir called President Richard Nixon and asked for help. According to reports, Nixon’s mother had raised him on Bible stories and had instructed him that if he ever had an opportunity to assist Israel, do it. Nixon told PM Golda Meir, “What do you need?” Here’s the scoop:

Nixon Administration initiated Operation Nickel Grass, an American airlift to replace all of Israel’s lost munitions. This was huge – planeload after planeload of supplies literally allowed munitions and materiel to seemingly re-spawn for the Israeli counter effort. 567 missions were flown throughout the airlift, dropping over 22,000 tons of supplies. An additional 90,000 tons of material were delivered by sea. How Richard Nixon Saved Israel

For a nation that is mostly agnostic or atheist, it doesn’t seem to deserve or even want our gratitude. Some denominations teach that Jews are Christ-killers. Technically, it was the Romans who crucified Christ, and the mob was more than likely seeded with rabble-rousers, much like the protests going on downtown. Not only that, it was for OUR sins that He hung on the cross. No one took His life; He laid it down. Here are Jesus’ own words:

No one takes it away from me; on the contrary, I lay it down of my own free will. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. This is what my Father commanded me to do.” John 10:18

So, no one killed Christ, yet we all killed Christ. To call a Jew a Christ-killer is the pot calling the kettle black.

The history of Israel is about the Coming of the Messiah. He was foretold in Genesis 12:3 in the prophecy of God to Abraham and explained by Peter in Acts 3:21-26:

19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’ 24 “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs [those of you who will receive Jesus as Messiah] of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your [spiritual] offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’

God is blessing all the nations through Abraham. How can He cut off His own people? The question is, “Who are Abraham’s children?” To say that the LORD has disregarded His people is to call Him a liar. The New Covenant that is spoken of in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and is reiterated in Hebrews 8:8-12 is the very covenant that He has made with us-all who trust in Jesus! In John 8:39, the religious leaders claimed to be Abraham’s children. Jesus told them that their father was the devil (v44). Galatians 3:7 says that those who believe in Jesus Christ are children of Abraham.

So, when we think of Israel and the Promise, we must always think of her and it as the root of the tree of salvation. An olive tree may die above ground, but its root system lives for thousands of years. In fact, the trees in the Garden of Gethsemane are claimed to be 1500 years old, but the roots may go back before Christ! If Israel and the Promise are our root, then Paul’s statement in Romans 11:17-18 is quite appropriate:

17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. [Even so, we are all equal in Christ (Galatians 3:26-29).]
NOTE: I have a shirt from Israel with verse 18 on it. It has a Star of David on it encircled by a fish. LOGO

One day, we ALL will live in Israel (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 with Acts 1:10-11), and eventually, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-4). Let us pray that Israel will awaken to their Messiah! The sooner they do (Isaiah 45:17; actually, the entire chapter is Messianic in nature), the sooner we get to go be with Jesus. Actually, it began in Acts 2 and has branched out from there. Those who are in Adonai will find justice and glory (Isaiah 45:17-25).

From Dr. Mitch Glaser, President of Chosen People Ministries:

“By way of reminder and as the leader of this historic mission to the Jewish people, I believe that Jewish people need to accept Jesus to have a place in the age to come (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, John 3:16–17). I do not believe that anyone is capable of keeping the Law to the extent that their human efforts would somehow satisfy God’s demands for righteousness, enabling the individual to enter heaven on their own merit. (Galatians 2:15–16, 3:23–25, Romans 10:2–4 ff.) Jewish people are saved by grace through faith, just like everyone else!”

Proverbs 2 6-2-20

Adjustments were made to this post. Read them here: Critique

We are on #8 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?

“9 Then you will understand righteousness, justice,
fairness and every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
knowledge will be enjoyable for you,
11 discretion will watch over you,
and discernment will guard you.”
Solomon, King of Israel

#8
We owe quite a debt to Israel.

We dealt a little bit concerning this subject in yesterday’s post. “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.’”

For instance, in 1973, war was–yet again–declared on Israel. Prime Minister Golda Meir called President Richard Nixon and asked for help. According to reports, Nixon’s mother had raised him on Bible stories and had instructed him that if he ever had an opportunity to assist Israel, do it. Nixon told PM Golda Meir, “What do you need?” Here’s the scoop:

Nixon Administration initiated Operation Nickel Grass, an American airlift to replace all of Israel’s lost munitions. This was huge – planeload after planeload of supplies literally allowed munitions and materiel to seemingly re-spawn for the Israeli counter effort. 567 missions were flown throughout the airlift, dropping over 22,000 tons of supplies. An additional 90,000 tons of materiel were delivered by sea. How Richard Nixon Saved Israel

For a nation that is mostly agnostic or atheist, it doesn’t seem to deserve or even want our gratitude. Some denominations teach that Jews are Christ-killers. Technically, it was the Romans who crucified Christ, and the mob was more than likely seeded with rabble-rousers, much like the protests going on downtown. Not only that, it was for OUR sins that He hung on the cross. No one took His life; He laid it down. Here are Jesus’ own words:

No one takes it away from me; on the contrary, I lay it down of my own free will. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. This is what my Father commanded me to do.” John 10:18

So, no one killed Christ, yet we all killed Christ. To call a Jew a Christ-killer is the pot calling the kettle black. 

The history of Israel is about the Coming of the Messiah. He was foretold in Genesis 12:3 in the prophecy of God to Abraham and explained by Peter in Acts 3:21-26:

19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’ 24 “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’

God is blessing all the nations through Abraham. How can He cut off His own people? To say that the LORD has disregarded His people is to call Him a liar. The New Covenant that is spoken of in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and is reiterated in Hebrews 8:8-12 is the very covenant that He has made with us!

So, when we think of Israel, we must always think of her as the root of the tree of salvation. An olive tree may die above ground, but its root system lives for thousands of years. In fact, the trees in the Garden of Gethsemane are claimed to be 1500 years old, but the roots may go back before Christ! If Israel is our root, then Paul’s statement in Romans 11:17-18 is quite appropriate:

17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.
NOTE: I have a shirt from Israel with verse 18 on it. It has a Star of David on it encircled by a fish. LOGO

One day, we ALL will live in Israel (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 with Acts 1:10-11), and eventually, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-4). Let us pray that Israel will awaken to their Messiah! The sooner they do (Isaiah 45:17; actually, the entire chapter is Messianic in nature), the sooner we get to go be with Jesus.

Abba, I believe Your Word and trust it with my life–and for life! I feel a connection with the people of Israel and I ask for Your peace to come to them through a knowledge and acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as their Messiah. You are coming soon; even so, come, LORD Jesus, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach (Revelation 22:20).

 

Proverbs 2 5-2-20

I love lists. They help me remember. The Bible uses lists, too, to help us remember. Let’s look at some.

1 My son, if you accept my words
    and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
    and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.

The first set is: Accept, store up, turn, and apply. These are the conditions of our mind. Are we open to the Word of God? Are we willing to receive them as truth and apply them to our lives today?

ACCEPT, STORE UP, TURN, APPLY

The second set is: Look, search, understand and find. We Look in the meaning in God’s Word and search it for truth, the truth that the Spirit wants to impart to us today. We have the promise that He will help us to understand and we will find meaning and purpose, and we will understand our LORD and God just a little better.

LOOK, SEARCH, UNDERSTAND, FIND

There is another list here, a partial list: Words and commands. In Psalm 119, these words are used interchangeably with five others: Promises, law, statutes, decrees and precepts. David used each one in each section. That psalm is definitely a masterpiece! If you haven’t read it lately, I highly recommend it.

WORDS, COMMANDS, PROMISES, LAW, STATUTES, DECREES, PRECEPTS

Another partial list comes from chapter one of Proverbs: Wisdom, understanding, insight and knowledge. They are part of the list given us in Proverbs 1:2-6. The others are instruction, prudence and discretion. I believe they are the seven pillars mentioned in Proverbs 9:1.

WISDOM, UNDERSTANDING, INSIGHT, KNOWLEDGE, INSTRUCTION PRUDENCE, DISCRETION

Another list that I find fascinating is the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance [patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-controlThey are in three’s:

Love, joy and peace are one-syllable words that are given to us by the Holy Spirit. They emanate from God Himself. When we stand close to Him, they penetrate deep into our souls. It is wise to draw close to Him often!

Patience, kindness and goodness are two-syllable words that are action words. We practise these fruits daily. When we display these fruits, we are most like Christ.

Faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are three-syllable words that reveal our inner nature as we become like Christ. They are long-term descriptions of us as we are transformed into His image and conformed to His likeness.

LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL

As we can see, lists are good for locking into our memories God’s Word. Let’s accept, store up, turn, and apply God’s Word to our hearts and lives today. Let us look and search for meaning and application knowing that we will find out and understand what it means to fear the LORD (recognize that He is God, King of the universe, and yet, calls us to sit beside Him in the heavenly realms!) and find the knowledge of God (His will and plan revealed to us by His Spirit–as needed and as much as our finite minds can hold).

Abba, I pray that my readers will gain a desire to study Your Word. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if we  continue studying Your Word–the originals!–in heaven, or at least, in Jerusalem during the Millennial Reign. It is by itself a masterpiece like none other! I look forward to knowing it fully as I get started here on this earth. I love You. Thank You for supplying us with such a unique book through which You speak to me. May I treat it as the treasure it is. Amen.

 

Proverbs 2 4-2-20

Christianity is answering the call of Jesus to follow Him doing…whatever! He calls us to walk with Him and become just like Him, allowing Him to work in and through us.

10 For wisdom [the Holy Spirit] will enter your heart, and knowledge [of Him] will be pleasant to your soul. Is learning about Jesus and how we can serve Him distasteful or boring to you? Then, Watch Out! You may not have Him living in you.

It’s a One-Time Decision; It’s a Daily Decision

Position; Fellowship

How can we tell? The Spirit convicts us of sin, prompts us to act, and teaches us from God’s Word. No conviction? No Spirit. No Spirit? No Salvation.

I call it, The Great Connect. It’s what Jesus’ coming to earth was all about. The miraculous birth, the sinless life, the cross, the grave, and the Resurrection are all about reconnecting us to God. He is our Door, our Internet Connection–faster than fiber optics!

Following Christ OUR way is in direct conflict with discipleship. It’s His way or no way. If that sounds pompous, just consider that He is King of the universe. We need to get off our high-horses and quit judging God! If we don’t feel convicted concerning our self-centeredness, then there is no Spirit within. No Spirit = No Salvation.

Romans 12:1-2 says, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies [entire lives] to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” NLT

Let’s allow God to transform us into new people–His people, the kind that those around us will want to know, to be like, to have what we have. Or, rather, WHO we have. Christ wants only the best for us, but it’s not according to this world’s standards, but according to what He has in store for us in heaven and on the new earth when we get back! Let’s keep the ultimate goal in mind (Christ Himself) rather than looking at the wind and waves around us (like Peter when he walked on water).

Abba, I praise You for Your excellent plan of salvation! Not only could I have not done it better myself, I couldn’t have done it at all!!! I need You in my life all the time for everything. You ARE my EVERYTHING. Make me like You, LORD, and make me shine for You to all around me. Connect me with those who don’t know You so that they can connect with You for that first time. Connect me with those who need to learn about You so that they can improve their daily connection with You. LORD Jesus, please use this time in America–in the world–to call people to Yourself. May REVIVAL break out everywhere! So be it–amen.

Proverbs 2 3-2-20

Have you “hit your stride” with the LORD, yet? He’s all about being with you and you with Him. RELATIONSHIP!

5 …then you will find–God!

How could we think that God is so distant? He has made the first move EVERY time throughout mankind’s history:

  • In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve sinned, yet God went looking for them;
  • In a world where “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time,” God sought out Noah and bestowed grace upon him [that’s what “found favor in God’s sight” means] and saved humanity;
  • God chose Abram/Abraham to start a nation who would be His bride;
  • God chose Israel–not because of their goodness, but because of His promise to Abraham and His plan for humanity –> God was coming to earth! God literally plopped Himself down in the middle of “those sinful and dirty humans” to teach them how to draw near to Him. **
  • God came to earth! “Immanuel” – “God with us” – “for unto you this day in the city of David [Bethlehem] is born to you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, your Messiah!”
  • At Pentecost, God came to live inside those who trust in Him. We become mobile temples!

And so, each morning I get up and heed these words by the wisest man who ever lived, yet the most foolish man, for he did not heed his own exhortation:

My son [child], if you accept my words
    and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
    and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord [who He is]
    and find the knowledge of God. [intimate and experiential knowledge of Him]

Let me do a little exhorting here:

  1.  Let’s not base our decisions on how we feel or what we think suits us. That kind of thinking is a foundation of sand. Indeed, it is quicksand! STAY AWAY!
  2. Ask the LORD Jesus to reveal to you the best way for you to get to know Him. Be ready to change how you live your life when you do! That kind of request requires us to accommodate His answer. 5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt [be ready to do whatever He says], because the one who doubts [is not really committed] is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded [of two opinions, his being the strongest] and unstable in all they do [wishy-washy when it comes to obeying God].”
  3. Do it consistently. It takes three weeks to establish a new habit, which reveals how slowly we learn. Give Him time and the opportunity to transform you into His image. You will never be sorry!

Abba, I pray for those reading today. May they heed Your call for them to join You–in everything and in every way. May what they read lead them to You; may what they watch cause them to think of You; may they “see” where You are working in the world and join You there. Open their eyes to the reality of You in their lives even as You do for me each day through Your Word and through Your guidance throughout the day. Thank You for such a neat chapter of truth, LORD. May we learn to live it each day. Amen.

**The phrase, “God cannot look upon sin” is found in Habakkuk 1:13 and says, 13 You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?”  It is the second of Habakkuk’s complaints to God about Him allowing the “righteous” to be overtaken by evil people. When read in context, we see that Habakkuk is giving people’s opinion about God, that He cannot look upon sin, while accusing God of standing by while evil triumphs in the land. It’s obvious from the text that God’s holiness has nothing to do with “looking on sin,” but with dealing with sin in our lives. God will not tolerate sin in the lives of His children. Why? Because sin destroys them. Yet, He deals with sinful people everyday. TRANSFORMATION is what He’s about.

Proverbs 2 2-2-20

Do we really want to know God? He is only a page away. He wants to reveal Himself to us in His Word. Read it!

If you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding [of Himself, His ways, and eternity].

Christians WANT to follow Jesus. The Spirit within us creates in us a desire to know Him. Even as I type this, the Spirit within me is reminding me of the verses where I learned it. Let’s look at Romans 8:

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

This verse is our foundation. Without the Spirit, we cannot be God’s children. The best test for salvation is to ask God if we are His and hear the Spirit cry, “Yes!” Along with that cry comes His peace, His love, and His joy. Are you ready? Let’s try it: Go!

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Here is the verse to which I was referring. His Spirit leads us to follow Christ; He even gives us the desire to follow Him, and then empowers us to follow Him. Philippians 2:13 is another good verse to memorize. Here it is in the Amplified version:

13 For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you [through the Spirit], both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing (desire) and the ability (power) to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.

Are you resisting following God? Why? Are you too attached to your toys? a certain lifestyle, afraid of a certain type of people? that God will call you to do something distasteful? Are you enjoying sin too much? in too deep? Is the Holy Spirit calling you right now to give to Him whatever it is that is keeping you from Him? It’s destroying you–in more ways than you know! It is setting up a foundation and platform of destruction of your relationship with God, your spouse, your children, your friends, your boss and co-workers–with everyone! Sin isolates and then destroys us, which is why God hates it so much and calls His children to turn away from it and turn to Him for life! Jesus said, “The thief [the devil] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full [abundantly]. John 10:10

Let’s search for Him as for “hidden treasure” today, presenting ourselves before Him as His servants and He our God. It’s what we were re-born to do!

Abba, I know that You are calling me to a higher, closer walk with You. I pray that as You call others that they will not resist You. “You do not delight in sacrifice (good deeds alone), or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings (one-way prayers). My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Psalm 51:16-17).” “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).” Amen.

Proverbs 2 1-2-20

Has God given you a spiritual goal for this year? Have you asked Him for one? Do you WANT to be more like Jesus?

2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding– 

Setting goals helps us to stay on track without allowing the “tyranny of the urgent” to draw us away. Our physical health has something to do with what we accomplish, as well. In order to achieve our goals, especially our spiritual ones, we need to be as healthy as we can be and in our right minds (which rules out alcohol and marijuana along with harder drugs).

Here are some examples to consider:

  • Get up 30 minutes early in the morning to read God’s Word and pray. Ask the Spirit to guide your reading time. Make lists of the people in your life and pray for them on a specific day. Of course, going to bed at a decent hour will help a lot!
  • Eating right always makes a difference. Choose foods that give you mental acuity, i.e. protein, low sugar, and NO high fructose corn syrup. The fewer ingredients (and ones you can pronounce) the better. Check out the ingredient list for Lays potato chips, Fritos, and Cheetos. The difference will surprise you.
  • Along with a fit mind goes a fit body. Figure out when you feel the best during the day and work in some work-out time. Walk, walk, walk! Walking can be done anywhere, in any clothes (except shoes), and in any weather (especially indoors).
  • Have a project:
    • Listen to or watch a series on Creation or other Bible topics on YouTube;
    • Listen to or watch a series by a well-known preacher/teacher;
    • Listen to Christian music instead of secular music;
    • Learn to read music (it’s a language, and one that’s not that hard to speak);
    • Get involved in a ministry, whether in-church or out-of-church, one from which you receive no benefit other than serving;
    • Pick a book of the Bible and learn all you can about it; practically memorize it!

These are just suggestions. Ask the LORD what HE would have you do. Let’s not be content with where we are; He has a wonderful adventure ahead of us! Even storms take on a new feel when we are walking with Jesus. Who knows? We may even get to walk on water with Him!

In all things, “Preach [teach, share] the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” We are His ambassadors. Let’s go be salt and light in our corner of the world.

Abba, I certainly don’t exempt myself from setting goals. Please help me to pick the ones You want me to do and then empower me to do them. Hold me accountable to You, O Lord. Grow me. Fill me. Get me ready for whatever is coming next in my life and in this world. Counting on You, amen.

Proverbs 2 12-2-19

Living a godly life isn’t all that hard; all we have to do is die to ourselves. In fact, we already have!

10 For wisdom will enter your heart, knowledge will be enjoyable for you,
11 discretion will watch over you, and discernment will guard you.

What we don’t realize most of the time is the active role that the Holy Spirit takes in our lives. If we were to tune in to all that He does for us, we would be awed and grateful! Just the fact that you are interested in spiritual things is courtesy of Your resident Holy Spirit. The entry of the Spirit of Christ into our lives happened the very moment that we gave our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ, Yeshua Messiah. He, through the Holy Spirit, came to live in us, to speak to us, to lead us, to grow us , and to develop us into fully equipped and devoted followers of Christ. One of my favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 4:16, which says, “Though outwardly we are wasting away [growing older], inwardly we are being renewed daily.” Add to that 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit, and we have a pretty solid description of the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives.

Why would God go to so much trouble for us? Because He loves us! It’s what the cross was all about. By dying to ourselves, we can live for Him. Paul explains the process:

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will also be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was put to death on the execution-stake [the cross and we were crucified] with him, so that the entire body of our sinful propensities [our leanings and tendencies] might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For someone who has died has been cleared from sin. Now since we died with the Messiah, we trust that we will also live with him. We know that the Messiah has been raised from the dead, never to die again; death has no authority over him. 10 For his death was a unique event that need not be repeated; but his life, he keeps on living for God. 11 In the same way, consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God, by your union with the Messiah Yeshua. Romans 6:5-11 CJB (Complete Jewish Bible)

As we  go through today, let’s remember that He is for us and with us. Let’s let Him guide us as we walk through this day. “What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms. What a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms.”

Abba, thank You for such a great salvation, one that keeps giving and giving; one that changes me into who I was created to be little by little, attitude by attitude. Sometimes, I don’t see it. In fact, I get frustrated with the slowness of the process, especially if I think I am going backwards! But, I know that You are the one who keeps me, and You are the one who is in charge of my transformation into Christlikeness, so I trust that You use EVERY moment and EVERY decision to make me more like Your Son, Jesus. You are the Potter, Abba, I am the clay. Mold me and fashion me according to Your Plan and Purpose. Let’s GO! Amen.

Proverbs 2 11-2-19

May we truly realize what God wants for us, the depths of our betrayal, and the lengths He went to get us back!

6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

We know that Jesus died on a cross for our sins and then rose again, thus conquering death. Have you ever thought about the implications? Why did God have to go to such great lengths? Was our sin really that bad? Let’s take a look:

When the woman [Eve] saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband [Adam], who was with her, and he ate it. Genesis 3:6

God had told Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:16-17

Die how? Certainly not physically–yet. Through separation from the Spirit, their holy covering.

3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked;

What actually happened when they sinned? They joined the enemy’s camp. Their rebellious act was treason. They became the property of Satan. Think about it: The Spirit of God was upon them like a covering. They had no track record of doing anything wrong, but everything was done according to the Spirit. They ignored the warning of the Spirit and trusted in the serpent’s lies. They chose Satan over God thinking that they were making the decision for themselves not realizing that they were being played. Satan’s deception led to their sin and thus to their separation from God! This separation spread like a poison through all of creation.

We know a little bit about how sin affected our world. We have the Great Flood that nearly destroyed it, but we don’t know the heights from which we have fallen in our relation to animals and nature. We understand some of how sin affected our relationship with each other. One has only to read the news and know the depths to which sin has brought us, but we have only a hint of what things were like during those first 1,600 years before Babel when people were of one mind (Genesis 11:6-7).

Satan wanted our worship (see Isaiah 14:12-15, Luke 4:5-7) and we gave it to Him! We joined the devil’s camp. Look at these verses:

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. Titus 3:3

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient [Satan]. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. Ephesians 2:1-3

Our Western culture paints us as inherently good people who make mistakes. “We are not sinners, but mistakers.” WRONG!!! We are born in sin, steeped in sin, and love our sin–before we meet Christ. Now we see why He had to go to such great lengths to save us.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7

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

O most great and loving Father, thank You for what You have done for us through Jesus Christ. Thank You for Your Spirit who now lives in me and is making me to be like You. May I forsake my old ways of death and betrayal. May You do whatever it takes to purge my old self and take on the new self, created in the holiness and righteousness of You. Amen.

Proverbs 2 10-2-19

If we are truly His, then our desire to please Him overrides all other desires. If you are not to this place…

(10) For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

If we are not at a place in our lives where our desire to please Him is our overarching theme, then one of two things:

  1. We don’t understand the work of the Holy Spirit who lives inside us, or
  2. We don’t HAVE the Holy Spirit inside us.

Here’s the deal: It’s one thing to have the Holy Spirit but not understand how He works in our lives to make us more like Jesus, but it’s an entirely different thing to be selective about how we will serve Him and allow Him to work in our lives. I do not believe that Jesus will allow a Christian to be comfortable with the latter decision for very long.

When we tell the Holy Spirit what we will and won’t do for Jesus, He backs off and basically says, “Okay, do it your way. Let me know how it works for you.” Don’t believe me?

God mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed. Proverbs 3:34

God opposes [takes a boxer’s stance against] the proud but shows favor to the humble. James 4:6

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5b

“The greatest among you will be your servant. (12) For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12

Many people have a head knowledge of salvation, but it takes committing our entire lives to Christ for Him to take residence in our hearts. My own opinion is that He stands at the threshold of our heart’s door with His hand out, waiting for us to give Him the deed to our house and the master key to every door. We may not even KNOW every door in our hearts, but He wants the master key and the right to enter any door at any time. Only then will He come in and “eat with us and us with Him (Rev. 3:20).”

If Christ is indeed in your heart, then you would do well to “submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil [and his lies about your own elevated position] and he will flee from you. (8) Come near to God [humbly and repentantly] and he will come near to you [and love on you]. Wash your hands, you [still resistant] sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded [those who think you can have Christ without giving Him everything]. (9) Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom [realize just how serious your condition is!]. (10) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord [the crux of the matter], and he will lift you up [what a promise!]. James 4:8-10

Knowing that Christ is in us and that we have given him everything, we know that His “His wisdom will enter our hearts and His knowledge will be pleasant to our souls.” And, we have this promise to which to look forward:

…may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ. Hebrews 13:21b

Lord, I give You my life today. I know I gave it to You yesterday, but yesterday’s gone; nor is it tomorrow, yet, so I can’t give you tomorrow. I have only today to offer You. What’s nice is that giving You TODAY is all You ask! It’s why I like inserting the word “today” in the middle of Matthew 6:33 basing it on verse 34*. You are, indeed, humble and gentle of heart; I do NOT want you to take a boxer’s stance against me! Work in me what is pleasing to You, O Lord. Amen.

*“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness [today], and all these things will be given to you as well [as you need them TODAY]. (34) Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34

Proverbs 2 9-2-19

Christ promises us His protection–but from what? Should our lives be a bed of roses? What about the thorns?

(6) for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

To believe that Christ as promised to protect us from bad things happening is not only wrong doctrine, but downright dangerous to our faith. In fact, it’s faith in the wrong god! Satan would have us think that God is like a candy machine: we put “money” in and out come blessings. This “god” doesn’t exist. “Name it and claim it” only works concerning God’s will and His characteristics, such as His love, His grace, and His desire to see all people come to Christ. God arranges for us to be put into dark places so that our lights can shine for Him.

There is a passage in Philippians that deals with our lights, but it is usually used for just the first part of the passage:

(14) Do everything without grumbling or arguing,

The rest of the passage is the “why:”

(15) so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky (16) as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16a.

From this passage, we learn:

  1. Our actions either point people to Christ or turn them away from Christ. Let’s work to draw all people to Christ through how we treat each other. “And they’ll know we are Christians By Our Love.”
  2. We want people to “see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16.” Our good deeds of being the hands and feet of Christ, of being Christ to a lost world, draw attention to the Father and give the Spirit opportunity to speak to their hearts.
  3. We live in a warped and crooked generation. What is interesting is that Paul was quoting Deuteronomy 32:5, which tells us that Moses, too, lived in a warped and crooked generation. Things haven’t gotten any better! How do we live in it without being sucked into it? By staying close to the Source of our flame!
  4. Just like the stars, we display God’s invisible qualities–His eternal power and His divine nature [of goodness and and faithfulness] (Romans 1:20).
  5. Holding firmly to the word of life is KEY.

Yesterday in Sunday’s Cool (Sunday School), we were discussing the question of the difference of studying the Bible personally and discussing the Bible in a group setting. When we are in a group setting, our attention is on whoever is speaking; we learn truth from each other. When we study the Bible alone, our attention is on Him who is speaking to us through the Scriptures; we learn truth straight from the Source. Both are good and necessary to be well-rounded and complete in our faith, but one has priority: Reading the Word of God for ourselves to hear Him speak to us personally.

Life is a rollercoaster ride–sometimes in the dark! It has ups and downs, corkscrews and loops. Never fear! There IS a destination: Heaven. In the meantime, let’s let our lights shine for Christ in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. May we say as Paul said:

(12) I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (13) I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

Abba, as I walk through this life, I realize what You mean by having to “hate” this life and even my loved ones for You. If I am going to be available for You to use in ANY situation, then I must be willing to lay down my life at any time–even to watch my loved ones lay down their lives for You. May I not “shrink from death (Rev. 12:11)” when my time comes. I ask only this: That someone would be brought to saving faith in Jesus Christ through my sacrifice. May Your will, and Your will ALONE, be done. Amen.