Proverbs 2 11-2-22

The average couple spends together 3 hours a day for 3.5 years = 3833 hours. The disciples spent ~25,550 hours with Jesus (20 hrs per day).

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2

We would do well to hold the accounts of the apostles very dear. They knew Jesus. They believed His words, His works, and His sacrifice. He spoke of tearing down the Old Covenant and rebuilding it in three days (John 2:19). Jesus was saying, “Put aside the old and welcome the new!” I heard of a fellow who is trying to keep both the New Testament code and the Old Testament laws. It isn’t going very well. Why not? Because one is designed to replace the other. Let’s consider this passage from Hebrews 8,

They [the priests] serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain” (Exodus 25:40). But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.
For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for anotherBut God found fault with the people and said:
“The days are coming, declares the Lord,
    when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
    and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
    I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
    to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
    and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
    after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
    and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
11 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

Why the New Covenant Is Better 

The Old Testament is a record of the nation of Israel struggling—and failing—to keep its covenant with God. The New Testament shows Jesus Christ keeping the covenant for his people, doing what they cannot do.

Theologian Martin Luther called the contrast between the two covenants law vs. gospel. A more familiar name is works vs. grace. While God’s grace frequently broke through in the Old Testament, its presence overwhelms the New Testament. Grace, that free gift of salvation through Christ, is available to any person, not just Jews, and asks only that a person repent of their sins, believe that God sent Jesus, and trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

The New Testament book of Hebrews gives several reasons why Jesus is superior to the old covenant, among them: 

  • Jesus is superior to Moses as a mediator;
  • Jesus is a high priest forever, seated next to God in heaven;
  • Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all, perfecting believers for eternal life.

Both the Old and New Testaments are the story of the same God, a God of love and mercy who gave his people the freedom to choose and who gives his people the opportunity to come back to him by choosing Jesus Christ.

Aren’t we glad we are part of the New Covenant?!!!

Abba, thank You for placing me in this time in history. Knowing you personally and having you in my heart (my seat of emotions, thought, and intellect) makes life a pleasure and a treasure. Even so, I long to be with You completely and wholly, Lord. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). Amen.

Proverbs 2 10-2-22

Memorizing Scripture is not hard. All a person has to do is read it everyday. Saying it helps; applying it definitely helps!

Your Word I have hid in my heart that I might not sin against You [God]. Psalm 119:11

One of my memory passages is Colossians 1:9b-14,

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

  • A daily prayer- I pray this prayer for my family, my co-workers, my friends, and even for those who don’t know the Lord Jesus yet.
  • …that the Spirit gives- the words are simply words; it is the Spirit who speaks to us in the words, The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I [Jesus] have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life (John 6:63).
  • …live a life worthy of Him- “Worthy” means, “fitting,” “appropriate.” Our lives are to fit the pattern and character of Christ.
  • …live a life pleasing to Him- “pleasing” also means, “delighting.” Jesus takes great delight in working daily with us to make us more like Him.
  • Bearing fruit in every good work- If we are Spirit-led, then our actions will bear spiritual fruit. Most of the time, we don’t know what that fruit is, but we have faith that it benefits us and the people around us. If anything, it helps us become more like Jesus.
  • Growing in the knowledge of Him- Lest we get cocky, we all are growing in our walk and in looking like Jesus. We never know when God will turn that diamond to show us a new facet of His love and grace. Many times, we learn something new about ourselves.
  • Being strengthened with all power- In the larger picture of God’s Plan, we cannot fail. We must remember that.
  • …giving joyful thanks to the Father- All the time!
  • …who has qualified us- How does the Father qualify us? He has adopted us into His family!
  • …the kingdom of light- “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5b).

13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

The kingdom of light is the kingdom of the Son. Notice that it is past-tense. Jesus brought the kingdom with Him when He came to earth. Those who have the Son have His life and are members of His kingdom NOW. What is our promise?

…[We wish] 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. 2 Corinthians 5:4-5

Death has been defeated and we no longer fear it because we know that when we walk the vale (of death) with Jesus, He will escort us into the full disclosure of His kingdom. Death is, indeed, swallowed up by life. NOW we know why we give joyful thanks to the Father!

Abba, this passage is rich with promise, Your promise. Thank You for the presence of Your Spirit because He is the One guaranteeing what is to come. May we worship You in Spirit and in joyful truth today, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 2 9-2-22

Jesus asks us to think outside the box (of our western thinking) on this one.

Jeremiah 33:3 (God’s phone number) “Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things you do not know.”

Something was pointed out to me the other day that I want to pass on to you. Jesus gave us the greatest command in Matthew 22:37, but He linked another verse with it, thus giving the second verse the same authority as the first. Here they are:

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

See what He did? “The second is like it.” How can two verses have equal importance? Western thinkers will have a problem with this concept because we think in priorities. Eastern thinkers would see these verses as co-central. Instead of building a pyramid with the greatest command on top, they would see it as a target with both greatest commands as the center, or bullseye. When these two verses are seen as central to everything else, it’s easy to keep them in perspective. Jesus put it this way,

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. John 14:15

Since Jesus is God with skin on, we show our love for God by obeying Jesus. What did Jesus tell us to do?

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, [love your neighbor, but also] love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect [complete, mature, fulfilled], therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect [complete, mature, fulfilled].

Paul went even further with this central thought:

14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

Again, we show our love of the Father by loving our neighbor. How do we accomplish this task? Enter the Holy Spirit. We are not designed to do it in our own power nor by ourselves. He craves our fellowship and offers us a partnership with Him for life. Christianity really is that simple.

Abba, thank You for wanting us as Your children. You’ve made things almost too simple. I stake my life on Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who works in you to will [the desire] and to act [the power] in order to fulfill his good purpose [becoming like Jesus].” I crave it more and more, Lord. I can hardly wait to see You, for then I will be just like You (1 John 3:2). Amen.

Proverbs 2 8-2-22

Continuing our journey through the human body and its intelligent design, we look again at the brain.

9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair–every good path.

Since our brains are safely tucked inside our skulls, we have limited space for neurons. Therefore, our brains must constantly be determining what information it will keep and what information it will let go. Here is a quote from A Pocket Guide to the Human Body, page 21-22.

The brain functions like a bookshelf with limited shelf space. If you need to add more pages to one of the books, then the increase needs to come at the expense of pages from other, nearby books on the shelf.
Behaviors or senses that are used more, receive a greater allocation of space in the brain. This explains why individuals who are blind or deaf seem to have heightened sensitivity in other areas.
Neurons make an astonishing number of connections with other neurons. An adult brain has around 100 billion neurons, and just one of those neurons can make tens of thousands of connections.
Initially, neurons send out fibers to a wide target area. Those connections that are repeatedly used become stronger, while those that are unused can be lost in a process called pruning. Neurons are constantly competing with each other for targets. Over time, each neuron becomes responsible for an increasingly smaller area.

In other words, the more focused a neuron is, the more adept we are at whatever it is that the neuron does. Musical instruments are a prime example of focused neurons. The more a person plays the piano, sax, guitar, trumpet, violin, etc. the more it becomes engrained in our brain’s neurons. We call it “second nature.” Athletes experience the same thing through practice.

Since experience alters the brain in both positive and negative ways, it is all the more important to live a godly life. Perhaps this is one reason that the Apostle Paul admonished Christians how to think: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

I particularly like the author’s approach to experience and repetition in our lives concerning godliness. We must practice what the Spirit shows us in order to get godliness entrenched in our brains. It is a process, a lifelong one, at that!

Tomorrow: The Seeing Eye

Abba, thank You for making us to adapt and change. I want to be like You, so change me. Your Word tells me that You are forming Christ in me (Galatians 4:19), conforming me to His image (Romans 8:29), and transforming me into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). You are amazing! Amen.

Proverbs 2 7-2-22

Jesus has so much to show us and teach us! All we have to do is avail ourselves to Him.

3 Indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding…(6) the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Yesterday, we talked about one passage that speaks of great patience and endurance that sums up the Christian’s life in Christ. It is Colossians 1:9-14,

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

  • we have not stopped praying for you– praying continuously speaks of an ongoing relationship with Christ. We all can have this type of relationship if we will ask Him about everything. There is nothing too small that He does not want to talk about it.
  • fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives– His will is ongoing and is a synthesis of what He wants and what we want. He gave us Choice so that we can create together new ideas, acts of kindness, art, music, discoveries and more as we grow in wisdom and understanding, which comes from us relating to the Spirit.
  • so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way– Being worthy of the Lord is a human perspective. We have nothing to prove to God; He knows us inside and out, our past and our future–yet, He loves us profoundly! The word, “please,” can also be interpreted, “delight.” We are a delight to our Lord! Let’s remember that.
  • bearing fruit in every good work– Our work is to believe (trust) and obey. As we do, the fruit of the Spirit are grown in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, truth and righteousness.
  • growing in the knowledge of God– This is what life is all about. We will grow until our time on earth is over. Then we shall “know fully, even as we are fully known” by Him (1 Corinthians 13:12).
  • being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience– The Spirit is our dynamo, our power to be obedient. Our endurance and patience are grown through practice. In this, we can be just like Jesus.
  • giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light– What qualified us? Christ’s finished work on the cross. His mercy now extends to both Jew and Gentile! I love the title, “Kingdom of light.” Jesus is the light of heaven that came into our world to share that light with us. Let’s be light-bearers for Him and share His light with others.
  • For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves– This phrase is a description of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. From then on, it’s just a matter of people allowing Him to heal them, dress them, and seal them for eternity.
  • in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins– Jesus is our redemption. In Him, everyone has forgiveness of sins. Showing people how to appropriate that forgiveness in their lives is what we are all about.

This passage describes the Christian’s life as he walks with Christ daily. We help each other and “encourage one another–and all the more as we see the Day [of His return] approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

Abba, realizing what You accomplished for us on the cross is a constant revelation as we turn that diamond a little each day to see a different pane. Whether it’s in someone’s teaching, our own study, a word from You, or through someone else, we learn something new about You and Your awesomeness. You are amazing, Lord! Amen.

Proverbs 2 6-2-22

“Surely not I,” comes to mind whenever I want to do something that might have consequences attached.

29:1 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed–without remedy. NIV

29:1 He who hardens his neck and refuses instruction after being often reproved (corrected, criticized), will suddenly be broken beyond repair. AMP

“Surely not I” comes straight from Mark 14:18-19 when Jesus told the disciples that they would betray Him,

18 While they were reclining at the table, Jesus said, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.” 19 They began to be grieved and deeply distressed and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?”

We all think that we are bulletproof concerning certain things. Sugary drinks, chocolate, alcohol, certain places and actions, drugs, etc. These “vices” have avoidable consequences. Can they be done in moderation? Some can, some cannot, and some have more dire consequences than others, but whatever calls to us with the Siren Song* must be avoided at all costs–because it may cost us all. If anything, they teach us to ignore the Spirit’s prompting, which creates dissonance and interference between us and our Lord Jesus. It can be seen as a betrayal like the disciples (a turning away from the Lord).

Yet, Jesus did not condemn any of the disciples for their betrayal–even Judas. How did Jesus great him in the garden of Gethsemane? He called him, “friend” (Matthew 26:50). Our best passage about no condemnation from Jesus is John 8:1-11 about the woman caught–or rather, trapped in adultery. Jesus first of all called every leader into account, from the oldest to the youngest, and then he addressed the woman,

10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jesus knows what calls to us, our Siren Song*. We know from James 1:13-18 that only good things come from God. How can that be so? We will talk about it tomorrow.

Abba, we all have our weak spots. May we cling to Your Spirit for direction, strength, rescue and solace. The relationship we have with You through the Spirit trumps anything this world has to offer. May we remember that truth the next time we come under temptation. Amen.

*Siren song describes something that is very appealing and alluring on the surface but ultimately deceptive, dangerous, or destructive. Siren song’s origins are rooted in Greek mythology. The Sirens were beautiful women with the upper bodies of humans and the lower bodies of birds whose bewitching songs lured sailors to their doom. So irresistible were their songs that sailors who heard them would be tempted to navigate the ship close to the shore and risk crashing or they might jump overboard into the water and drown. In Homer’s Odyssey, the hero Odysseus cleverly stops the ears of his crew with wax to keep them from hearing the Sirens’s song. He tied himself to the mast so he could hear the song yet survive.

Proverbs 2 5-2-22

Asking God questions is one thing; questioning God is quite another. We must trust Him in all circumstances.

3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

We’ve discussed before how the two miraculous feedings were signs to Israel and to the Gentiles that Jesus had come for both groups (see Proverbs 25 4-25-22). I read an observation the other day that showed another jewel of wisdom from these miracles. Jesus said,

Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered [after feeding everyone]? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered [after feeding everyone]? Matthew 16:9-10

In John, the five loaves and two fish were attributed to a young boy (John 6:9). This little boy represents every one of us in Christ. The tasks in front of us are far too big for us to achieve on our own; we need the interactive help of God the Holy Spirit. He knows what we need, what the best course of action is, and has the power to make it happen. The disciples even had enough left over for tomorrow’s lunch! We were never designed to act on our own. When we do, it’s because we became impatient, which leads to arrogance:
God does not work fast enough for us, so we take over the wheel. The problem is that cars are not built for small children to drive, nor do children have the dexterity or the knowledge to drive capably. We need to trust in the Lord to know and to handle things as He knows they need to be handled. Many times, it may not be our particular situation that gets handled well (by ourselves or others), but those coming after us will learn from our experiences and, hopefully, they will get it right. If not, then the next generation, and so on.

In our impatience, we become arrogant and distrust God. Jesus calls this distrust a lack of faith, or, unbelief (see Mark 13:58). Eve became impatient and acted in arrogance when she believed the lie, distrusted God, and ate the fruit. She got in a hurry and got ahead of God. What a dangerous place to be! May we trust the Lord like little children (Matthew 18:3-4) and do things His way, the Patient way.

Abba, may we see beyond our lives to Your plan, which gives everyone the opportunity to trust You and then act on that trust. Sometimes it takes weeks, sometimes months or years and even generations. We trusted You with our lives; may we trust You with the future, as well. Amen.

Proverbs 2 4-2-22

God is Jesus is Spirit is Jesus is God. Each Person of the Trinity is His own person, yet one in nature and character.

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

Here’s a little review from yesterday’s post concerning one of my favorite Bible verses, John 18:5:

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

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

In Exodus 3:14, God tells Moses this, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” The interesting thing about “God” is that it is “Elohim” in Hebrew, which is plural, i.e. the Trinity. When Jesus used the same name, He was talking about the Trinity, of which He is a member.

Another time when Jesus used this name is John 8:58, “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” Jesus was referring to a time even before Abraham who lived over 400 years before Moses. I think He was referring to before the creation of the world, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world” John 17:24.

Why is His usage of this name so important? Because Jesus was headed to the cross. And, if Jesus, as part of the Trinity, was on the cross, then so were God the Father and God the Spirit. There is no separating them! When we think of Jesus, just remember that God the Father loves us just as much and in the same way as God the Son and God the Spirit. They were showing us how much they love us by dying for us. Then they showed us the way back to them by rising from the dead! One of my other favorite verses is,

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

Anything that makes us fear God the Father must come from the great deception of the evil one. Even James had something to say about it,

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 

The writer of Hebrews said, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). If one is the same, then all three are the same.

Let’s ask the Father to show us what, if anything, makes us fear Him. I have faith that He will reveal it to you just as He did me.

Abba, thank You for revealing to me what causes me to fear You and to let it go. As You reveal more of myself to me, may I be as willing to let go of other things, as well. It’s a process, Lord. My goal is to be just like You. Amen.

Proverbs 2 3-2-22

A moral person is not necessarily a transformed person. Jesus wants a relationship with us, not just token obedience.

1 My child, if you accept my words…

Jesus knows we have a moral problem. We like to please ourselves. We are ruled by our passions and how we feel at the moment. I just described a two-year-old! Maybe that’s how we need to see ourselves spiritually. And, just like our young children (including nieces, nephews, god-children, etc), we love them because they are ours. We expect immature behavior. We also look forward to the day when they are mature adults, but there’s a long journey in between. I just described our Christian life!

We can live morally, but we will always live in fear of failing (failing ourselves) or in fear of disappointing (failing God). These people are living life for God rather than with God. When we turn from darkness to His glorious light, this is what we hear Jesus say:

“Ask me and I will give you living water.” John 4:10

“Believe me and I will give you the bread of life.” John 6:35

“Come to me and I will make rivers of living water flow from within you.” John 7:37

“I don’t condemn you. Walk with me.” John 8:11

“Know me and know freedom from your fears.” John 8:32-36

“You know my voice, for I am your Shepherd.” John 10:14, 27

There are many more verses, but these few give us a good idea of what Jesus wants us to know. He wants us to trust Him rather than fear Him, to walk with Him rather than try to please Him on our own. He wants us to accept the fact that He loves us now, just as we are. Granted, He loves us too much to leave us as we are, but He will be the Guiding Light and the Transformer of our hearts and lives as we walk with Him.

Fear vs. Faith:
Fear in a set of rules; Faith in knowing a Person.
In fear we try to please; in faith, we are pleasing.

Let’s turn to Him right now and receive all that He has for us. He loves us!

Abba, I turn to You right now with open arms ready to receive Your love, peace and joy. I need Your filling so that I can hear You clearly, see You working around me, and walk in Your assurance that I am Yours and am already pleasing to You. It makes me want to be just like You and to spend every moment basking in Your presence! Amen.

Proverbs 2 2-2-22

Want to produce a good Pharisee? Convince him to quit sinning without coming to Jesus. It’s all about the relationship.

10 For wisdom [the Holy Spirit] will enter your heart
And knowledge [the Holy Spirit] will be pleasant to your soul;
11 Discretion [the Holy Spirit] will guard you,
Understanding [the Holy Spirit] will watch over you,

Want to cause an argument or fight? Just point out someone’s errors, faults–or sins. It’s not only rude, it’s counter-productive to the cause of Jesus. Let’s walk through a scenario:

We have a friend who has “issues.” We confront him with his sin and he agrees to change his ways. Congratulations! We have just won him over to works-based religion. We have just done what Jesus told us NOT to do,

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matthew 23:15).

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also” (Matthew 23:25-26).

Jesus forgives sin, both big and small, so we don’t have to worry about a person’s sin problem (regardless of how detestable it is to us or how offended we are by it). If we teach a religious lifestyle–which is exactly what we teach when we condemn others for the sin in their lives–we have not shown the most important thing about Christ, which is His love and His desire to have a personal, ongoing relationship with them. Jesus gives a great illustration,

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5

What I get out of this passage is that we are responsible for the sin in our lives. Period. It is the Spirit of God who reveals to people the sin that is destroying them. We are not to be another person’s “Holy Spirit.” Instead, let’s talk up our relationship with Christ. When they see our love for the Lord and for others, they will hopefully want what we have. Until they do, we pray for them, show them the love of Christ, and give a defense for the hope we have in Him.

This defense looks like this:

“All I know is this:
I was one way and now I am completely different,
and the thing that happened in between was Him.”
Mary Magdalene-The Chosen, Episode 2

It is our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that will attract people to Christ. Once they have been touched by a Christ-Follower with one of these attributes, the Holy Spirit will use that encounter to convict their hearts of the very sin that we used to condemn. But, until a person has a relationship with Jesus, he will not understand true repentance. All we produce is “a good Pharisee.”

So, let’s get off our high-horses and quit condemning people for sinning. It’s what sinners do, and until they come to Christ, they really have no reason to change. Be the bridge between Christ and sinners.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10

Abba, thank You for teaching me to quit judging others and condemning them for their sin, but to love them as You love them, and to show compassion on them (even when they make it difficult…). It’s what You did for me. May I “pay it forward,” Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 2 1-2-22

We all need Jesus to heal our eyes and to help us to see. But first, we must admit we are blind spiritually.

20 So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.

There is a storybook that I used to read to my children that always touched me. Here it is (less the pictures):

Poor blind Bartimaeus. His eyes were sick. He couldn’t see the sun. He couldn’t see the trees. He couldn’t see the houses. He couldn’t see people. But Bartimaeus could hear. and one day–
He heard lots of people walking. Step. Step. Step. He heard lots of people talking. Talk. Talk. Talk.
“What is happening?” asked Bartimaeus. “What is happening?”
“It’s Jesus,” somebody said. “Jesus is coming down the road. We’re all walking with Him.”
It’s Jesus, Bartimaeus said to himself. Jesus can make my eyes well.
“Jesus,” he called. “Help me! Jesus, help me!”
Now, lots of people were making noise walking. Lots of people were making noise talking, BUT–
Jesus heard Bartimaeus anyway, and Jesus stood still. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked kindly. “Lord,” said Bartimaeus, “I want to see again.” What do you think Jesus said?
I’ll tell you what Jesus said. He said yes. “You may see.” He told Bartimaeus. And all at once–
Bartimaeus saw the sun. Bartimaeus saw the trees. Bartimaeus saw the houses. Bartimaeus saw the people. But best of all–Bartimaeus saw Jesus.
From “Read-Aloud Bible Stories vol. 1

Bartimaeus is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. It illustrates our own need for Jesus to heal our eyes. Here are some fun facts about this real account:

  1. It’s in Matthew (20:29-34), Mark (10:46-52) and Luke (18:35-43).
  2. In Luke, it is a man; in Mark, the man is called Bartimaeus; in Matthew, it is two men, a man and (assumed,) Bartimaeus.
  3. They were on the side of the road outside of Jericho that leads to Jerusalem. Jesus was headed there for His triumphal entry.
  4. They may have heard that Jesus had gone to Zacchaeus’ house, which would give them hope.
  5. They cried out for mercy, which is exactly what Jesus came to give mankind, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mathew 9:13
  6. Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you.” We know faith to mean that we trust enough to act on what we believe. Bartimaeus and his friend believed that Jesus could heal them, so they cried out, and Jesus gave them their sight.
  7. They received their sight and followed Jesus along the road. They probably went all the way to Jerusalem (only a few miles) and possibly laid their coats down in front of His donkey as Jesus rode into Jerusalem that day. They could have cried, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9).

Tomorrow, we will look at more Scriptures that deal with spiritual blindness. Until then, let us continue to look to Jesus for spiritual wisdom and insight.

Abba, may we worship You today with a clear understanding of You as our Lord and Savior, the Son of God, who is the Second member of the Trinity, God the Son. You alone are worthy to be praised. Amen and amen.

Proverbs 2 12-2-21

Trinity-The Three Faces of God

1 My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom and incline your heart to understandingthen you will find the knowledge of God.

While pondering the Trinity, it occurred to me that their union might be viewed as three faces of God. The concept sounded familiar, so I did a search of “faces” on my Bible app, and this is what came up:

10 As for the form of their [angel’s] faces, each had the face of a man; all four had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle. Ezekiel 1:10

In human terms, we might put characteristics with these faces. The face of a man might stand for intellect; the face of a lion might be courage and fierceness; the face of a bull might be strength; the face of an eagle might be all-seeing or awareness. Yet, in trying to explain them three-dimensionally as Ezekiel did, or metaphorically as we did, we know that it is more than that. We are talking extra-dimensional here!

The angels have four faces; the Trinity has three. But, there is one face that the Trinity wants to add: Us! WE are the fourth face! They want to include us in their fellowship. It’s what God the Father/Son/Spirit has been seeking to do ever since we ran away and hid (in the Garden of Eden–and in our own lives).

Let’s walk through a little bit of the OT beyond Adam and Eve and see how God the Father/Son/Spirit interacted with people:

  1. Cain-God’s interaction with Cain was very relational. God tried to steer Cain to righteousness, but Cain wouldn’t have it. So, Cain walked away from the presence of God (Genesis 4:16).
  2. Noah- God interacted with Noah in a big way. In fact, the Ark was a rescue operation of mankind!
  3. Abraham-The account of the pre-incarnate Christ appearing to Abraham and Sarah is a classic example of God seeking relationship with us and including us in what He is doing.
  4. Joseph-God’s interaction with Joseph was unique. Talking to him in dreams was new. It probably had a lot to do with Joseph’s ability to resist despair (I’ve always admired him for that).

We could name many more–and that’s before Jesus came! Jesus is the pièce de résistance, the most remarkable example of God reaching out to mankind to include him (us) in the Trinity. Think about it:

  • God the Father orchestrates all of history to come to earth as a human;
  • God the Son IS THAT human;
  • Once God the Father has demonstrated His love for us by dying on the cross as God the Son, He sent us God the Holy Spirit so that we would be included in the Trinity. Simple, right?!

It’s mind-boggling, but a worthy topic of thought and discussion. For us, all we need to know is that God is love, and His love lives in us and includes us in the fellowship of the Trinity.

Abba, Your love knows no bounds. I stand with Paul in his description of Your love: That we would be rooted and established in love, and have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19). Open our eyes, Lord, to the intimacy and fellowship of the Trinity. Prepare us for a New Awakening! Amen.

Proverbs 2 11-2-21

We talk a lot about salvation, but what God really wants is a relationship with us. Are we willing to join Him?

5 Then you will understand the fear of the LORD [Old Testament way of looking at God; today, we trust Him] and find the knowledge of God [Old Testament way of thinking about God; today, we know Him personally].

Jesus came to reveal God the Father to us. Jesus told stories that show us the true nature of God the Father. One of those stories is about the lost sheep.

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds itAnd when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! Luke 15:3-7

The relationship between the sheep and the Shepherd is a true picture of the love the heavenly Father has for His children–all of them. He loves the 99 sheep and He loves the sheep that wandered off. He searched until He found it. The sheep represents us lost because of sin. The Shepherd is Jesus. He rejoiced over the sheep that He found and He carried it home, and then threw a party!

What does this story tell us about the relationship between the sheep and the Shepherd?

  1. The Shepherd cares for the sheep.
  2. We don’t know how the sheep got lost; was it eating and simply wandered off? Was it being sneaky and slipped away? Was it being rebellious and ran away? Was it lured away by tasty flowers, or something blowing in the wind? We can assume that the sheep was thankful that the Shepherd found it. Sheep are defenseless. The best they can do is run, and that not very well.
  3. The sheep had a connection with the Shepherd. We have a connection with Him, too.

Our connection is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ comes to live in us. In other words, He never leaves us! Salvation comes down to this: We either have the Spirit or we don’t. One way to tell is to look at our desires. We all have base desires–our natural desires of food and drink, love and companionship, etc. Many times, our desires tempt us to go overboard in certain areas and even to warp those desires. Satan has a heyday with us in these areas.

The Spirit in us will acknowledge the desires and then overlay His desires. I call it our higher desire; Robin calls it the want-to to want to. We either have this higher desire of the Spirit or we don’t. Obedience to the Spirit is essential–not for relationship, but for fellowship with our heavenly Father. Here is the promise we have from Him:

21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

Another way to tell is the certainty of His presence. When we are in tune with Him, His love, joy and peace flow through us. Sounds like the Force, doesn’t it? Interestingly, George Lucas took aspects from several religions and mashed them into what he called the Force on Star Wars. The part he took from Christianity is the way the Spirit flows through us. We are at peace when we are resting in the Father via the Spirit. We “do not live our lives in the ways of the flesh [guided by worldliness and our sinful nature], but [we live our lives] in the ways of the Spirit [guided by His power]For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose]” (Romans 4-5).

Paul tells us in Colossians 3:1-2, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” We are to  fix our thoughts on Jesus (Hebrews 3:1); another way of saying it is, fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2).

People who enter into a relationship with Jesus are, indeed, born again as the Spirit comes into their lives and takes up residence. We should be able to tell pretty easily because of the ongoing conversation that He has with us every day. But, if there is a question, consider 2 Corinthians 13:5,

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

Salvation without a relationship with Christ is not true salvation. A person misses out on the whole purpose of salvation! His Spirit is our salvation; He brings salvation to us as He comes to live in our heart and life. May we nurture that relationship–even when we venture away from Him. Know this: He WILL search for you until He finds you. Then, He will carry you home rejoicing and throw a party!

Abba, thank You for coming after me. I got lost for a while when I was young, but You kept after me. I am so glad! You have nurtured me all these years. I can’t imagine life without You–I’m sure glad I won’t ever have to find out! Ke-e-e-ep me close to You, Lord Jesus. I am Your sheep and You are my Shepherd. Amen.

Proverbs 2 10-2-21

Speaking of proclaiming, who proclaims, and what is it that they are to proclaim?

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.

I originally thought that I would find a good passage on proclaiming in Matthew 28:19-20, but what it says there is,

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We are to:

  1. Make disciples,
  2. Baptize them into the family of God,
  3. and teach them to obey everything that Jesus commanded the disciples.

The next passage was a bit more forthcoming. It was Romans 19:14-15,

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

The progression is:

  1. It is good to bring good news,
  2. It is good to be sent,
  3. It is good to preach (tell the good news),
  4. It is good that they hear,
  5. It is good that they call on Jesus by believing in Him.

I, then, looked at every reference to “proclaim” or “proclaiming” in the New Testament. In each case, it was someone proclaiming, either Jesus, Paul, or the Gospel in general. So, what does it mean for us to proclaim?

Actually, the term, “proclaim,” is never used as a directive. Instead, it is something that we, as Christians who walk closely to Christ and want to share out of our experiences with Him, want to share with others. Here is what I would like all Christians to understand:

  1. Not everyone is an evangelist (Ephesians 4:11). We ARE called to be witnesses (Acts 1:8).
  2. We are called to give a reason for the faith we have in Jesus, “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 of their slander.
    1. We are to revere Christ as Lord,
    2. We are to be prepared,
    3. The answer we are to give is why we follow Jesus,
    4. We are to do it with gentleness and respect (they obviously believe differently than we),
    5. We are to keep a clear conscience through good behavior; may conviction come upon them.
  3. There are times when our actions speak louder than our words. We must be sensitive to the Spirit and allow Him to work in their hearts. (ex. 1 Peter 3:1)

When a Christian is full of the love of Jesus, here’s what happens:

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Let’s ask the Lord to give us opportunities to share His love with others. Most of the time, it’s with someone with whom He has brought us into contact. “Research shows that, on average, adults must hear the Gospel message about seven times before they come to faith in Christ. So, don’t give up on your friend, but prayerfully continue to look for opportunities to share your faith.” Share Jesus Without Fear. We have to be content with where we are in a person’s process. Generally speaking, I tend to be a #2 or #3; I answer a lot of questions. Very occasionally do I get to actually be there when a person gives his heart to Christ. Oh, what a joy it is! Yet, I am content to simply be part of a person’s story of how he came to Christ. Joining the Father where He is already working is a wonderful activity with Him. Let’s get to it!

Abba, thank You for the fire of the Holy Spirit in me. Thank You that You meet with me daily and direct my paths all day long. Please give me plenty of opportunities to be a witness and even to proclaim You to others. Help me be ready. Amen.

Proverbs 2 9-2-21

Knowing the future is easy. All we have to do is read the Bible. Jesus told us, John told us, and Paul told us. Do we trust them?

10…knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11 discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Yesterday, as we studied 2 Corinthians 5:1-5, we discovered that this life, along with our sinful bodies and even death itself, is being swallowed up in life! Eternal life. We will have bodies suited for eternity in the Lord’s presence. What hope can we find in such a discovery? Let’s look at the next four verses and find out.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

  1. “Always confident”- There is a sureness here that transcends any trial or tribulation. That sureness is that no matter whether they are alive or dead physically, they are safe in the truth that God has them in the palm of His hand either way. They have a sure hope.
  2. “We live by faith, not by sight”-. Paul talks about this type of faith twice more in Scripture, Romans 8:24 and Hebrews 11:1 (if you are a believer that Paul wrote Hebrews). The idea is to take Jesus’ word that He has a place for us (John 14:2-3) and that we will be with Him upon the death of these natural bodies (Luke 23:43). We believe Jesus for salvation; why not believe Him about heaven, too?
  3. “We make it our goal to please Him”- Ephesians 5:10 says, “and find out what pleases the Lord.” Upon the entry of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we gain His innate desire to please the Father. Pleasing the Son pleases the Father. How do I know this? Because of John 5,
    1. Verse 19, “I can do only what I see my Father doing.”
    2. Verse 20, “The Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does.”
    3. Verse 21, The Father and the Son give life to whomever they are pleased to give it.
    4. Verse 22, The Father has entrusted all judgement to the Son.
    5. Verse 23, All who honor the Son honor the Father. Those who do not honor the Son dishonor the Father.

In conclusion, we no longer need to worry about pleasing the Father because we please the Son. We give Him our lives and live each day in accordance to the Holy Spirit’s guidance within us. We no longer fear death because we know that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” In the meantime, we rejoice in each day because of the hope in us that He will fulfill His promises to us.

Tomorrow, we will look at verse 10: The Question of the Ages, “Will Christians be judged for their works?” (I’ll give you a spoiler alert: NO!). Stay tuned…

Abba, thank You for the promises You have given us concerning our future beyond these bodies and this life. Thank You for the assurance we have in You and the Spirit within us Who is our guarantee and the seal of Your promise. Teach us what pleases You, O Lord. We will do it! Amen.

Proverbs 2 8-2-21

Knowing what we believe is important. We must have a tangible guideline and goal in order to grow in the right direction.

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

Bryan, my pastor, used a phrase yesterday in his sermon that caught my attention. He said that we are “blood-bought, Spirit-filled, with a God-initiated desire to please and serve the Lord.” Let’s look at each of these characteristics of a Christian.

1. Blood-bought: We are talking about those who have appropriated forgiveness through the blood of Christ. His sacrifice on the cross bought our freedom from sin. Now, we willingly give up that freedom to be bond-slaves to the heavenly Father. the apostle Paul said that he was a bond-slave to Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1). what is a bond-slave? Let’s look in Deuteronomy and see.

12 “If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. 16 But if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he is well-off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl, and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your [bond] slave forever. And to your female [bond] slave you shall do the sameDeuteronomy 15:12, 16-17

Being blood-bought means that we have been purchased, “You are not your own; you were bought with a price” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. We belong to Jesus by our own choice. Glad wrote a beautiful song called, “Pierce My Ear.”

2. Spirit-filled: Since the birth of the church, Christians have the distinctive trait of being filled with the Holy Spirit of Christ (Acts 2:4). The Holy Spirit lives in us (2 Timothy 1:14). Because we have the Spirit of Jesus Christ living in us, we have access to the throne of our heavenly Father all the time (Ephesians 3:11-12, Hebrews 4:16). We must remember that “whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17).

3. God-initiated: God initiates the desire to please Him. When we were dead in our sins, His Spirit spoke to us through the message of the Gospel and we awoke. Those who answered the call of the Spirit to receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ were given His Spirit. It is the Spirit of God who lives in us that gives us first the desire and then the power to do His will (Philippians 2:13). Those who are Christ’s desire to please Him. It’s really that simple.

Here is our mantra:

We are blood-bought, Spirit-filled,
with a God-initiated desire to please
our Lord Jesus Christ in all things.

Let’s live out our mantra today.

Abba, easy to say–hard to do, unless we are depending solely upon the Holy Spirit. Our own strength will fail every time, but the Spirit never fails. Jesus lived by the Spirit and He never failed in righteousness and holiness. I want to live by the Spirit, too. Help me, Father, to learn all I can about Your Spirit and His workings in my life so that I can trust Him completely all the time. Amen.

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).