Proverbs 3 1-3-23

Have you seen The Chosen*, yet? We are in season 3 and really enjoying the mind blowing efforts of this talented team!

As we watched Episode 3, Jesus was reading the Scripture in His hometown of Nazareth,

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor [Jubilee].”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:16-20

Our passage in John 8 is very similar,

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed

When Jesus announced Himself to be Messiah (which is what He did in Luke 4:21), He was calling everyone to believe in Him. In believing in Him, He would set them free from spiritual bondage. It sounds a lot like what He read in Isaiah 61, doesn’t it? I find it interesting that the Jews answered Him that they have never been slaves of anyone. Were their ancestors not slaves in Egypt? Were they not slaves in Assyria and Babylon? Were they not currently under the governorship of Rome? But, Jesus was speaking of spiritual bondage,

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor [Jubilee**]
.
Luke 4:18-19

The first confession for all of us is to confess our spiritual bondage and our need for a Savior, namely Jesus. Unless and until we are willing to make this confession, we cannot turn from our darkness to the Light (John 3:21), nor can we break the chains of sin that bind us (Romans 11:30-32). We need the Son to set us free. He will set us free from our known chains, but He will also set us free from the chains that are hidden from us. These chains must be revealed before they can be dealt with, which is really hard on Christians, especially if they have been followers for any length of time. Yet, our vulnerability is the very thing that we need in order for Christ to deal with hidden sin, secret sin, and besetting sin. Church is not designed to be a museum, but a hospital where people go for help. May we be willing to accept broken and chained people–for that is what we all are!

Tomorrow we will discuss being sons (and daughters) of the heavenly Father.

Abba, how do we move back into alignment with You? Church tends to be a place where people come to hide (the truth about themselves from others) rather than a place to heal and be healed. Helping others break out of bondage requires that we confess our own bondage and seek help, too. Having victory is a daily thing, just like Your daily bread (grace). It is why You renew us daily (2 Corinthians 4:16). Thank You, Jesus, for your mercies; they are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:20-21) Amen.

*The Chosen- “The first-ever multi-season series about the life of Jesus (and His disciples)”
Watch for free at angel.com

**Jubilee- Every 50th year, every indentured servant was set free, all land bought and sold went back to its original families, debts were forgiven, and land was “set free” (it wasn’t sown that year). See Leviticus 25.

Proverbs 3 12-3-22

Our salvation is based upon what we know from Scripture, of which we have several interpretations. Listen to the Spirit within.

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26

Yesterday, we began looking at four questions I wrote at the end of chapter two of, “A Grand Illusion,” by David Young about what radical progressives believe–or don’t believe.

Why do we need to recognize Jesus as Lord?
Why do we need a Savior?
How can the Bible be “living and breathing?”
What is holiness?

We looked at the first question yesterday. Today we will look at the second one.

Why do we need a Savior?

When will we learn that we are not designed to live life on our own? To use a metaphor, we have a spiritual hookup with God the Father. But, we were deceived into believing that the connection could not be trusted. We filled the connection with sin and selfish desires. We became soul-sick, as though we were dead.

God the Son came to clear out the debris of sin, cleanse and disinfect the connection area, and prove that the connection is safe, wholesome and trustworthy. The question is, will we trust that connection? God the Spirit is waiting for us to give Him access.

Another way to say it is that we are dead, disconnected from the life of God. Sin has killed us, but Jesus offers us His life to us. When we accept, we trade our lives for His life and live as if we are dead to our old lives,

10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:10-11

This way of looking at ourselves is illustrative. We could also say that we are held captive, in chains to our evil desires, serving the one who deceived us, the devil. Jesus became our Christus Victor, who came to rescue us from the dungeons of our own making. His words to us: “Believe in Me (John 5:24).

Before that verse, though, He says this,

19 “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.

Do you want to know what the Father is like? Look at Jesus. He is “the exact representation of His being” (Hebrews 1:3). So, when Jesus would rather die than destroy His enemies, thus allowing them to kill Him, we are seeing God’s heart for everyone. Jesus then rose from the dead to break the hold that the devil had on mankind (Hebrews 2:14-15), including the fear of death. Now, the only prison that people remain in is the prison of their own making. He has had mercy on us all (Romans 11:32)!

This view of Christus Victor, or, the Ransom Theory, was predominant for the first thousand years of church history.

Why do we need a Savior? Because we were never meant to live life on our own. We needed rescuing; Jesus came to rescue us,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Luke 4:18-19

This, folks, is truly good news.

Abba, thank You for rescuing me. I was blind and You healed me. I was oppressed, and you set me free. I will forever praise You for all You have done for me, and I will tell everyone who will listen so that they “will know the truth, and the truth will set them free” (John 8:32). Amen.

Proverbs 3 11-3-22

There is a LOT of my Christian history that I do not know. How about you?

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Sometimes I don’t understand all I know. I’ve been reading Jeremiah in the Masoretic Old Testament (it’s what most of us have in our bibles) and the Septuagint (it’s what the other side of the world has in theirs). The verses have run pretty much the same so far except for 5:10. Here is 5:10 from both versions:

Septuagint (LXX)- “Go upon her outer fortifications [Jerusalem] and tear them down, but do not ruin them completely. Leave the support foundations, for they belong to the Lord.”

Masoretic- “Go through her vineyards and ravage them, but do not destroy them completely. Strip off her branches, for these people do not belong to the LORD.”

The Septuagint, translated by 70 Jewish scholars in ~300 B.C, and the Masoretic, translated over 300 years from ~700 A.D. to 1054 A.D, had the same CIT (Central Idea of the Text), which was that a remnant would be left in order for Israel to start over. That’s hardly good news to the people of that day! I do believe that God had a hand in their protection during the Diaspora (their Dispersion into Babylon), but at the same time, we need to remember that the prophecy does not drive its fulfillment, but merely states what has been foreseen or foretold. Some of the survivors repented and followed the LORD. They were led back to Jerusalem after 70 years in captivity.

What I find interesting is that the Masoretic version has a much harsher tone than its sister text. “Strip off her branches, for these people do not belong to the LORD,” sounds very much like Paul in Romans 11:19-20, “You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble.” Even then, Paul refers to a remnant of the people of Israel in verse 23, “And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.”

What conclusion can we draw from Jeremiah? The people’s unwillingness to follow the Lord caused their downfall (4:18, 5:3, 19, 23). May we not have the same attitude toward God. How so? By being unwilling to open up our minds and hearts to what the Spirit is saying to His churches (Revelation 2:7, 11,17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22). The word, “churches,” is plural because we need each other.

Abba, I learned about the Septuagint from a brother from another denomination. Thank You for enriching my life with a facet I didn’t even know existed in Your multi-faceted diamond of truth! It makes me wonder what else I don’t know… Show me, O Lord, and lead me into Your truth. “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). Amen.

Proverbs 3 10-3-22

Invitations, everyone likes to get them. But what do we do with Christ’s invitation to follow Him?

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

Invitations are fun to get. I like invitations because I have a choice of whether to go or not. Salvation is an invitation because Jesus asks us to join Him in a relationship with Him and we have the choice to accept or decline. Jesus gave a great illustration in the Parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14:16-24,
16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’
23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

I like the fact that everything is ready. All a person has to do is come. When Christ died, He died once for all (Hebrews 7:27). His mercy now extends to everyone (Romans 11:32). But, it still comes down to a choice, “that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). What is the invitation? To walk with Jesus,

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Mark 10:20-22

We don’t know if the rich young ruler ever came to Jesus, but we know that the invitation was always there for him. We have the decision every day to follow Jesus. What makes it easier for us is that we have the Spirit in us to give us both the desire and the power to follow Him (Philippians 2:13).

Want a quick test to see where you are spiritually? Ask yourself this question:

How badly do I want to follow Jesus and become just like Him?

He’s calling us. Can you hear Him?

18 Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18

17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. Revelation 22:17

Abba, You are constantly talking to us in our spirits. You are continuously asking us to join You and to walk with You. May we take You up on it every time we recognize Your voice and understand the invitation. Make it plain, O Lord–I know You will! Amen.

Proverbs 3 9-3-22

Magic vs. the faithfulness of God. We all fight it.

23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,
    and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
So because you [King Saul] have rejected the command of the Lord,
    he has rejected you as king.”

I have heard that magic is manipulating circumstances using spells, elemental ingredients, talismans, etc. for a desired outcome. Many cultures and even civilizations were/are based upon magic, and that includes religion. In fact, in many places, magic IS the religion.

For Christians, we must ask ourselves if we have carried something from our former life into our Christian life expecting things to work the same way. For instance, we are told to pray and move mountains (actually, it’s about faith in God’s sovereignty rather than our efforts), to “name it and claim it” (actually, it’s about being dead to ourselves and seeking the Spirit’s leadership in our lives), and that if we have enough faith, miracles happen (actually, our faith is to be in God’s overall plan to reach the world with the Gospel; how He does it is His business). I wholeheartedly believe that if I were to go to a place where the Gospel is new and the atmosphere was toxic with pagan religious rites, I would see miracles happen as God shows Himself mighty unto salvation in the form of signs, dreams, visions and physical miracles. At least, that’s what I am praying concerning Africa, China, Iran, Iraq, Israel, and other parts of the world.

Instead of taking the responsibility of answered prayer upon ourselves, let’s leave the outcome up to the Lord. We have His promise that He never leaves us nor forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5), so we can trust Him in all circumstances. In fact, the famous verse, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13), is about trust and patient endurance in the face of hard times (read 4:10-20). We can trust Him with our pain, with our loved ones, even our lives. Let’s just remember that His long-term goal is for us to be with Him in glory,

24 “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.

Tomorrow, we will look at another kind of magic called, “Performance Magic.”

Abba, You know our hearts. We love You, but we can’t seem to let go of control. It started in the Garden of Eden and continues to this day in every person’s life. Help us to let go and trust You in all things for all things. I know our blood pressure would be lower and our attitudes would be better. Amen.

Proverbs 3 8-3-22

Continuing our journey through the human body and its intelligent design, we look one more time at the brain and then the eye.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear [respect, hold in awe] the LORD and shun evil.

A quick addendum to the brain: If we choose poorly, we should not say, “I will do it right next time.” Instead, we need to go ahead and correct ourselves and do it right. That way, we tell our brains which neuron paths we want to develop. It will make a difference down the road. This corrective behavior honors God and eventually makes us like Jesus.

Now, on to the eye…

Even Charles Darwin conceded that “to suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.” A Pocket Guide to the Human Body, page 25.

Poor Darwin; he chose absurdity over Master Design. What he wouldn’t have given for an electron microscope! Here are some of the things he would have found concerning the human eye:

The eye is essentially a living video camera of extraordinary sensitivity. Like any good manmade camera, the eye has a black interior to prevent light scattering, and an automatically focusing lens and adjustable diaphragm to control the light. And like the most sophisticated modern digital cameras, the eye has a light-sensitive layer (the retina) that can adjust to a wide range of brightness.
But unlike any camera made by man, the retina can automatically change its sensitivity to brightness over a range of ten billion to one! The retina’s light-sensitive cells (photoreceptors) can perceive a range of light, from bright sunlit snow to a single photon (the smallest unit of light). The eye also has the amazing ability to assemble and repair itself, unlike manmade cameras.

There are several parts to the eye: the cornea, the iris, the pupil, the lens, the liquid, the muscle, the cleaning system, and the retina. Tomorrow, we will look at each of these parts and what they do. We will quickly “see” that the eye cannot have produced itself via evolution. There are simply too many parts that must work simultaneously and in perfect order for the eye to work at all!

Abba, we are fearfully and wonderfully made! Help us to “see” You in every part of our body, nature, and our universe. Amen.

Proverbs 3 7-3-22

Bridges vs. Blockades: How we talk and teach affects our attitude concerning others.

3:27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.

In our culture, it is easy to become confused about what is Christian and what is cultural. It is what we say and how we treat others that matters the most. Jesus boiled the entire Old Testament down to loving God and loving people.

Old testament values were such that it was important to distinguish oneself from the world. Jesus, on the other hand, made it all about the people in the world. He was not afraid to get up close and personal with them. He even defied the Sabbath rules in order to minister,

John 5:8-9 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” [9] At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath,

John 9:6-7 Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. [7] “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. [14] Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath.

These are just two examples where Jesus did not allow social or religious customs to keep Him from ministering to people. If we want to be like Jesus, we will have to go where the people are and shine our lights so that they can see Jesus. In fact, we must be bridge-builders and not barrier-builders in order to reach people. We need to make sure that it is Christ alone who unites us and that we allow nothing else to divide us from those we are trying to reach.

Abba, it doesn’t matter what sin a person is caught up in; what matters is that person seeing Jesus in us and being drawn to Him. Showing Your love to those around us is what You have called us to do. We are Your light-bearers! May we bear your light to the world by not calling attention to what divides us, but directing them to the love of Christ who loves us all. Amen.

Proverbs 3 6-3-22

The goodness of God is displayed on the cross. God gave His life so that we can have life. He wants the best for us: Him.

1:33 “Whoever listens to me (Wisdom) will live securely and in confident trust
And will be at ease, without fear or dread of evil.”

There is a children’s dinner prayer that goes, “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food. Amen.” As quaint as this little prayer is, it is chocked full of truth. If God is great, but not good, then He is a God whom we fear and cannot trust; if God is good and not great, then He is a God who cannot truly help us or save us. But, God is great and good in that He loves us and is mighty to save. He is God the Father/Son/Spirit.

When considering death, we know that it was not God’s will that we die. Death is the repercussion that comes from disobeying God. It’s not a punishment, but a consequence. Yet, even death serves a purpose. Were it not for death, then sin could not be taken to the grave, which is exactly what Jesus did! Thankfully, Jesus rose from the dead, thus breaking the power of sin and death for us. Knowing this, we should not be surprised when we read in James 1:13-18,

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Temptation is not sin; giving in to temptation is. Temptation is when we have the desire to go beyond the boundaries given, to exceed the amount of temperance, or to taste that which is not ours to taste. The Spirit will guide us IF we listen and obey.

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. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

How does God choose to give us birth? Through the word of truth. Who is that word of truth? Jesus Christ, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). This metaphor of birth is also called “the awakening (of ourselves to Him)” and “the turning (from darkness to Him).” The goal is connection–actually, our reconnection.

Bad things happen in this dark, diseased (with sin) world and we will have trouble, but be at peace. God is both great and good and Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).

Abba, Your goodness is the fiber of Your character. I think You get blamed for a lot of stuff that is not Your fault. Do You guide our lives? Absolutely, but do You dictate our lives? Absolutely not. Our choices are our own and You honor them. What You desire is for us to consult You in all decisions. The fact that You have overcome the world makes me not fear death. I trust You, O Lord. May I trust You even more tomorrow. Amen.

Proverbs 3 5-3-22

Historical provenance is important to me, especially when it comes to the Bible.

27 I was there when he [God] set the heavens in place,
    when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above
    and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,

I just finished a novel by Tracy Groot called, “Madman.” It is about the Gerasene demoniac from Mark 5:1-20. I enjoyed the book very much. It took me three weeks to read the first half of the book and one afternoon to read the second half. The first half was the development of characters and to build in the despondency of the madman’s family and community. The second half is the drawing up of all the purse strings. Its historical approach and accuracy concerning Scripture is appreciated.

There are three things about the demoniac that I find very interesting.

  1. The account really begins with Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus calms the storm. Jesus was headed to a region infested with demons: the demoniac, but also the worship of Dionysus, the god of pleasure, which included some pretty hairy rituals. Could it be that the demons of that region were trying to keep Jesus out of their area?
  2. The demoniac’s name is Kardus, found in an excavation report of Kursi (the Gerasenes is the region; Kursi is the nearest town) which was published in 1983*. Kardus wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus told him, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19).
  3. About a year later, Jesus returned to this area. A large crowd gathered to hear him, I think largely due to Kardus’ testimony in the region. This is the place where Jesus fed 4,000 men, not counting women and children, and took up seven large baskets of leftovers (possibly representative of the seven nations who made up the Decapolis, which were the ten cities of the region). The significance is that Jesus had already performed the same miracle for the Israelites where they collected 12 small baskets of leftovers. In other words, Jesus accepts both Jew and Gentile into His kingdom! It was a huge revelation, one to which the religious leaders of His day did not take kindly.

Believing the Scriptures because they are the Scriptures is an act of faith, but it is a two-dimensional faith. When the Spirit begins to reveal historical evidence of the truth of the Scriptures, our faith becomes three-dimensional and we have a much deeper faith. One of the emails to which I subscribe is patternsofevidence.com. They give weekly newsletters of current findings in the holy lands concerning biblical accuracy. Go take a look.

Abba, may we take seriously our knowledge of You, our world, and the veracity of Scripture. It’s one of the ways that we interact with You as we look into new archeological, historic and scientific findings that You are revealing more and more routinely as our technology advances. Thank You for being a God of details. You are SO BIG! Hallelujah! Amen.

*”Madman,” Tracy Groot, page 388

Proverbs 3 4-3-22

One of Jesus’ titles is the Great Physician. Ever wonder where it came from? Read on…

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
    and nourishment to your bones.

When Jesus called Matthew to follow Him, Matthew threw a big party and invited many of his cronies and other associates. The religious leaders criticized Jesus for attending the party. Let’s pick up the narrative in Matthew 9:12,

11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.

There are other references to Jesus being a doctor. One is found in Luke 4:23, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” Jesus was doing more than treating people; He was healing them!

The healings were the testimony of God the Father in Jesus’ life and ministry. Jesus said in John 5:31-32,

31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.

Pair this passage with John 10:25, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me,

And John 10:38, “But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”

My take-away from these passages is that the miracles of Jesus, which include all the healings, were to bolster faith in Him as God coming down from heaven (Immanuel=”God with us”). When it comes to our health, the Father pretty much leaves us to our own choices and the continuing natural fall-out of sin. Jesus’ plan for us is expressed in John 17:24,

24 “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.

He wants us with Him! That’s exciting, and something to which to look forward. We no longer have to fear death, so if we live, we live for Christ, and if we die, we gain (Philippians 1:21).

So, now you know how Jesus got the title of the Great Physician.

Abba, I understand why You don’t heal everyone now in this life. You have a far, far better life awaiting us with You. I look forward to seeing You in Your glory, the glory You have had since before the creation of the world! My trust is in You, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 3 3-3-22

If “the joy of the Lord is our strength,” then we must enjoy the Lord. Let’s look at what that doesn’t look like.

1 My child, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart…

The church at Pergamum had issues. First, Pergamum was the place “where Satan has his throne” (Revelation 2:13). This throne may have been the Great Altar that was a prominent feature of the city. It was constructed around 150 BC and was probably dedicated to Zeus and Athena.

The second issue was a group of people who held to the teaching of Balaam, “who instructed Balak to cause the children of Israel to stumble, making them eat idol-food and indulge in sexual immorality” (Revelation 2:14).

The third issue was a group of people who held to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. To read the definition of the Nicolaitans, it sounds a whole lot like the teaching of Balaam. It was okay for them to mix with the pagan religions and their activities while serving Christ. The verse concerning Balaam was an example that the followers of Nicolaitan teaching would have caught immediately as referring to them.

It seems that the “doctrine” of the Nicolaitans was that it was all right to have one foot in both worlds
and that one needn’t be so strict about separation from the world in order to be a Christian. This, in
fact, was the “doctrine” of the Nicolaitans that Jesus “hated.” It led to a weak version of Christianity
that was without power and without conviction — a defeated, worldly type of Christianity.

The call to repent (v.16) follows with a warning of someone coming to them and rebuking them, the sword possibly being the Word of God brought by a messenger, maybe even an apostle. We must remember that symbolism is the main ingredient in Revelation with the Old Testament Scriptures being the key to that symbolism. Two great OT examples of the Lord coming to fight against the people of God was when Assyria came and took Israel away (Isaiah 10:1-11), and when Babylon came and took Judah away (Jeremiah 21:3-7). Both times the Lord referred to Him coming to punish them through earthly men.

The best way to combat the temptation to follow the teaching of the Nicolaitans is to walk closely with Jesus. Let Him be your Source of love, joy, peace, pleasure, and contentment. It’s all about the relationship. The question we must answer is, “Do we trust Him?” It’s hard to trust someone you fear. Jesus told us not to fear (Matthew 10:31). The closer we walk with Jesus, the more we feel His love, joy, peace, the comfort of His leadership, and the enjoyment of the Fellowship of the Trinity. Let’s get started!

Abba, You are my source of satisfaction and pleasure. You are my contentment. Beyond the pleasures of this world, I know that You are my peace, my joy, and my comfort. I also know that someday soon I will experience all of these on a scale so great that I cannot even imagine. They are, indeed, a “foretaste of glory divine.” I’m looking forward to it, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 3 2-3-22

God wants us to love Him and to know Him personally. Our redemption is secured, but voluntary.

BTW, anything in brackets is from me.

1 My child, do not forget [disregard] my teaching, but let your heart [may it be your passion to] keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life [whatever they may be] and peace [of mind and heart] they will add to you.

Today, we are going to look at extremes, one in particular. It is how far will God go to be in relationship with us.

32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. NASB

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

32 For God has given them all up to sin so that he could have mercy upon all alike. Living Bible

If we want to know why God allowed sin in the Garden, it is this: God wanted mankind to choose Him and love Him. He wanted us to come voluntarily into the relationship. Knowing that we would be deceived and be led away into captivity, the Father made a way for us to return even before it all happened. Don’t believe me? Read this:

Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes [to see us as righteous, like Christ], without a single fault—we who stand before him covered with his love [not just a covering, but worked through the fabric of our being]. Ephesians 1:4 Living Bible

What does it all mean? By “giving them all up to sin” (by our own choices) through the one man, Adam, He then delivered us FROM sin through the one Man, Jesus Christ! Jesus is our Representative. See Romans 5:12-21 for Paul’s explanation.

It all comes down to this: Relationship Over Religion.

Teaching people to be religious (works-oriented faith) is OT–and it didn’t work then, either. The Law was to show us that works CANNOT save us (lots of Scriptures on this one; start with Romans 3:20, 25, Hebrews 10:4). Teaching people to ask Jesus for guidance in every decision is relationship. A person can be religious without a relationship; a person with a relationship with Jesus is automatically religious because the more time he spends with Him, the more he will come to look/act like Him, wanting what He wants, sharing the same compassion for his fellow man, and enjoying the Fellowship of the Trinity.

The mercy of God has been shown/given to everyone. If only people would receive it–receive Him–they would embark on an incredible journey with Christ in a close relationship with them. It’s what the Father desired all along.

Tomorrow: Caterpillars vs. Butterflies and Dead Men vs. New Creations

Abba, You have revealed Your love for us through Jesus Christ. In fact, You have loved us as Jesus Christ! The concept of dwelling in believers as the Holy Spirit was absolute genius! Thank You for taking up residence in my heart and life. I am a new creation. Amen.

Proverbs 3 1-3-22

Bartimaeus recognized that he was blind. How could he not? So, what’s our excuse?

21 My child, do not lose sight of these–keep sound wisdom and discretion, 22 and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck.

Bartimaeus understood that he was physically blind. He and his friend recognized that Jesus could heal them. They were, therefore, invested in Jesus. They probably had no qualms accepting Him as Messiah–even in the face of His torture and crucifixion. To hear that Jesus was back from the dead would seem quite plausible to one whose eyes had been healed, or legs had been strengthened, or had been dead and was raised from the dead by Him. These folks would be the ones who had experiential faith, which would be even stronger than the faith of the apostles (Mark 16:14), who saw these healings, but didn’t experience them personally.

Spiritual blindness goes back a long way. Look at the message given to Isaiah in 6:9-10 to deliver to the Israelites,

And He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not understand;
And keep on looking, but do not gain knowledge.’
10 Make the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes blind,
So that they will not see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.”

Jesus quoted this exact passage in Matthew 13:14-15. His point was that the people of Israel were looking for a certain kind of Messiah and were not open to the True Messiah, a Suffering One. It was in this way that their hearts were insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes blind. Those who were willing to accept a different kind of Messiah were the ones to whom Jesus said, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear” (Matthew 13:16).

Let’s not put limits on God with predetermined expectations. He is God, you know! Let’s give Him our lives and watch Him do amazing things in and with them.

Abba, I trust You enough to give You all I know of myself today. Tomorrow, I will do it again. I know that the key to understanding is wisdom, which is seeing from Your perspective. Jesus, I want Your perspective. Call me to Your classroom, O Lord. I want to know You in ever-increasing measure. Please, make it so. Amen.

Proverbs 3 12-3-21

What alternate route might the Wise Men have taken from Bethlehem to avoid King Herod? Let’s look…

5 Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths [in the case of the Magi, literally].

In reviewing the Christmas story, I began to ponder this verse:

12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. Matthew 2:12

What route did they take coming to Jerusalem? What other routes were available to them going home? I googled a few websites and came up with this scenario. There is a road coming out of Babylon that angles Northwest following the Euphrates River and intersects with a road at Resafa going south to Damascus. At Damascus, it becomes the Via Maris and travels down the Mediterranean Coastline to Egypt.

There was a straighter and shorter route through the desert, but the other road was much more desirable because of the availability of water all along the route. At Joppa (or Appolonia) they could have gone East to Jerusalem.

Bethlehem is four miles Southeast of Jerusalem. When the Magi were warned not to go back through Jerusalem, their best route was to go South to Herodiom (sp?) and then Northeast to Jericho, cross the Jordan, and hit the King’s Highway. From the King’s Highway, they could have gone East along the desert route or North to Damascus, thus putting them back on a reverse route home. King Herod, knowing that they had come down the Via Maris and would probably take that way back home, would most likely have sent his troops West looking for them.

I don’t know about you, but it helps me to see the maps and possible routes. It helps me visualize the events, thus making the story not just possible, but plausible in my mind. Of course, I believe the account because I believe in Jesus and the accounts given to us by Matthew and Luke. Still, I like the way history, astronomy*, and geography all work together to give us a detailed and accurate account of Jesus’ birth.

May we all dig deeper and discover more nuggets of wisdom.

Abba, thank You for nudging me to do this research. I found it very gratifying and pertinent. May we all use this knowledge to make the Christmas account more real to us, our families, and friends. Thank You for coming to rescue us. We surely needed it! Amen.

*For a detailed account of the stars concerning the birth of Jesus Christ, go to Bethlehemstar.com and take the study guide.

Proverbs 3 11-3-21

Many people think getting saved is to keep them from going to hell. Hell is living without Jesus. That life brings its own torment.

11 My child, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent His rebuke, 12 because the LORD disciplines those He loves, as a Father the child He delights in [like we talked about yesterday, when we wander away, He comes and gets us].

We are called to “trust in the LORD with all our hearts and to lean not on our own understanding; in all our ways we are to acknowledge (submit to) Him, and He will make our paths straight as He directs us” (Proverbs 3:5-6). This is how we live for Christ. In fact, He died for everyone so that we would “no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died for us and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

How do we live for Him? Actually, we can’t; not without Him. We live for Christ by living with Christ. It’s a partnership, a friendship, a mentorship, and a marriage all wrapped up in a relationship with Him. Jesus doesn’t need us to do anything for Him; He wants to include us in what He is doing. What is He doing? Loving people where they are and taking them further into His love.

In the words of Linda Free (I love her last name), “We just gotta love’em where they’re at, not where we want’em to be.” Jesus loves us where we are, but He loves us too much to leave us where we are. The whole idea is to grow up in love, living in His love, sharing His love, and even demonstrating His love–the sacrificial kind.

I know it’s short today, but living for Christ with Christ is the bottom line for Christians. It’s how we are known both by the Father and by the world. In Jesus’ own words,

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. 
As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 
35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,

if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Lord, if we could just stop focusing on salvation and get to the fellowship, I think people would find that being Yours is a lot of fun and incredibly satisfying. You are not an ogre, nor are You an angry God. Your disciple, John, whom You love dearly, said that You are Love incarnate. If we want to know what You are like, Abba, we are to look at Jesus. Jesus was–and is–gentle and humble in heart; in Him we can find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30). May we rest in Your loving arms, Abba. Jesus, show us the way; Spirit, fill us and enable us to walk with Jesus all the way. Amen.

Proverbs 3 10-3-21

Christians are in training. Christ wants us to be like Him today. Let’s get busy!

1 My child, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years [spiritually, for eternity] and bring you [inner] peace and prosperity.

As a minister, I see what the average person fights. Here are three areas that hinder Christians:

  1. Romance-includes dating, sexual activity and porn addiction;
  2. Gaming-overstimulation of the adrenal glands, time hog, addiction;
  3. Social media-judgmental attitudes, sharing beyond personal bounds, addiction.

Done correctly, all of these areas have merit. The problem comes when we get outside certain boundaries. The main boundary that is crossed is the amount of time spent, but there are other boundaries, which are listed above. The major passage that I use to combat areas in my life that threaten to get out of control is,

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

  1. We live in a fallen world. It is sin-ridden and inhabited by demons. Our bodies are still part of this world, but our minds live in two worlds, the physical and the spiritual. We must learn to feed the spiritual one and hold tight control in areas that tend toward sin.
  2. Our weapons are spiritual. In fact, our best weapon is Christ Himself! His Spirit living in us lets us know when we are slipping into old habits, getting off the trail, or hanging back a little too much. He also gives us the desire and the power to break away from those habits and temptations.
  3. The divine power is “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The strongholds are the things that are particularly interesting to each individual. The word, “demolish,” denotes not only the breaking down of the walls of a stronghold, but of cleaning up the debris and getting rid of any evidence of it. That’s pretty thorough!
  4. Arguments are often the ones in our heads. Scripture helps a great deal when dealing with our own thoughts. We can also substitute phrases like, “She is my brother/sister in Christ,” which works with dating, pornography, and what is shared on social media. For gaming, the timer is our best friend. Set it and live by it. Also, it’s best to game only on certain days–and not in a row. The danger is in the desire: The more we desire it, the greater the danger. Filling our time with godly activities helps.
  5. “Every pretention” is referring to anything that plays “god” in our lives. Whatever it is, it is only pretending. The Lord Jesus Christ is God of our lives (Titus 2:13). Let’s give HIM the honor and praise due His name.
  6. The knowledge of God is what we are after. Intellectual knowledge is good, but experiential knowledge is what Christ wants. He wants us to know the Father personally and intimately.
  7. Here’s the best part: Taking each thought captive. When we have a tempting thought, we grab it by the neck and subject it to the rule of Christ. We don’t need to be concerned about having tempting thoughts; it’s the world we live in. Rather, let’s get really good at taking them captive to Christ. He receives glory each time we do!

As we worship Him today, let’s thank Him for the in-dwelling Holy Spirit in our lives. He is our hope, our shield, our guarantee, our proof, and our Counselor. Rejoice!

Abba, thank You for the ingenious way You turned the tables on Satan (1 Corinthians 2:8). By conquering sin on the cross and taking all sin to the grave, we now have YOU living inside us! WOW! One of my favorite verses is, “I in them and you in me–so that they may be brought to complete unity” (John 17:23). That’s what I’m talkin’ about, Lord! Bring us to complete unity with You and with each other. Amen.

Proverbs 3 9-3-21

The point of the cross was for us to miss the Great White Throne judgement where people get judged by their works.

11 My child, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent His rebuke, 12 because the LORD disciplines those He loves, as a father the child He delights in [this training is while on earth; when we go to be with Him, “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He truly and entirely is.” 1 John 3:2].

I said yesterday that we would look at a 2 Corinthians 5:10. Here it is,

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad [this is the great white throne judgement; remember that Christ is seated BESIDE the Father at His right hand].

It sounds like we all will spend some time with the Savior going over our lives. Not so! Jesus said that He would raise every person and judge them according to their works (John 5:28-29). But, in verse 25, those who hear the voice of Jesus will live. The implication is that Jesus pulls us out of the pack and keeps us to Himself. We will see this implication in action when we read Revelation 20:12-15.

We are judged by grace. Plain and simple. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us so. Let’s read it:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Basically, what we have here is the law of grace. The only thing we “do” is receive if from Jesus’ hands. It is also called the law that gives freedom (James 2:12) and the law of the Spirit (Romans 8:1-2). This law of grace means that our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. We are not judged according to our works, but according to the fact that our names are in that book! The dead that are standing before the throne in Revelation 20 are those who are spiritually unprepared to stand in God’s presence. We have these promises:

11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death. Revelation 2:11

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die [physically]26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die [spiritually]. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

12 And I saw the dead [spiritually unprepared], great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life [not, “was judged according to their works and found wanting”] was thrown into the lake of fire.

As we can see, God’s children are not judged according to their works, but by the law of freedom and the Spirit. So, what happens to us at this point in the narration? For that answer, we must go to Matthew 25 and look at two parables:

  1. The Parable of the Bags of Gold-“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'” verse 21
  2. The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats; “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world,'” verse 34

When we get to heaven, yes, we will receive a reward (1 Corinthians 3:11-15), but it’s in a ceremony, at which I believe we will then turn around and cast our crowns at the Savior’s feet! If the twenty-four elders in Revelation 4:10 are representative of all believers in both the old and new covenants, then we are represented in them as they lay their crowns before the throne of the Lamb. Whether I am right or not, we will see. The point is that we never have our sins brought up again. They have been cast from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 1-3:12). “Rejoice, for your names have been written down in heaven!” Luke 10:20.

Abba, thank You for taking care of my sin so that I no longer have to carry it, answer for it, or even have it brought up against me ever again. You are a mighty God, and Your Son is the bravest Man ever! Jesus, You bore my sins to Calvary. Blessed be Your name! Hallelujah!!! Amen.

Proverbs 3 8-3-21

Walking with the Lord requires trust. We trusted Him for salvation; why wouldn’t we trust Him in our daily walk?

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
    preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
    an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
    and your foot will not stumble.

Galatians 5:25 makes an assumption and then gives a directive. The assumption is actually found in verse 24, so let’s read both together:

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

The assumption is that we belong to Christ Jesus and have crucified our flesh with its passions and desires. A comparative verse is Romans 13:14, which says, “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” If Jesus is Lord of our lives, this is exactly how we conduct our lives every day.

The directive is that since we live our lives according to the Spirit’s leading, we are to keep in step with Him. When running track, we would call keeping in step our pace; since I am a music guy, I call it tempo. If we match the TEMPO of our lives to Jesus, life will be so much more satisfying:

T- Time spent with Him in prayer and Bible study;

E- Energy spent seeking Him and serving Him;

M- Motivation fueled by the Holy Spirit;

P- Patient endurance, working to be like God every day (it makes us godly);

O- Objective overview; we step back and get God’s view on things (wisdom), then we keep His objectives first in our lives.

The next time you listen to a song, notice that you are keeping pace with the tempo of the song. Let it remind you that we are to keep in TEMPO with the Holy Spirit day by day, step by step.

Abba, I pray that You will help us establish a pace, one that is in step with You. May we be diligent in our TEMPO as we learn more about You in Your Word even as You teach us through what we are studying. You lead; we will follow. Amen.

Proverbs 3 7-3-21

I believe Jesus’ entire ministry can be encapsulated in this one statement: “Know Me, know the Father.”

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
11 My child, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent His rebuke, because the LROD disciplines those He loves, as a father the child He delights in.

Knowing God is what Christ was and is all about. He said as much to Philip,

9 “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” John 14:9-10

Jesus came to show how much the Father loves us, and includes all people. Anyone who entrusts his life to the LORD Jesus has eternal life (John 3:16). The real question is, are people interested in knowing God?

I pray that people’s interest would increase as time goes by. May those who know Him desire to know Him more; may those who don’t know Him desire to meet Him. They’ll never desire to serve Him until they meet Him. That’s where we come in! Let’s tell them, show them, and teach them to know Him. When they see Jesus in us, they will see the Father and know His love. Then, they will respond to His love, just like we did, and receive Him as their Lord and Savior, their God and King.

Paul wrote, I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11

Let’s begin this morning answering the call of the Spirit to spend time in the Bible and in prayer. We can’t go wrong with giving Him the first few minutes of our day. Not enough time? Get up earlier. Better yet, ask Him to get you up. Just be warned: He may desire more time with you than you bargained for!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would spend time in Your Word this morning getting to know You through Jesus’ words and life, through Paul’s insights, as well as James, John, and Jude. You have so much to show us! May we avail ourselves to You. Who wouldn’t want to get to know the Creator of the Universe?! Especially when You want to know us!!! We are You children and Your servants, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 3 6-3-21

News Flash: God has poured out His love into our hearts; we have the Holy Spirit!

1 My child, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart…

This news flash comes from Romans 5:5, which says, “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” The fact that He gave us His Spirit is amazing; for Him to pour out His love into our hearts is unimaginable! What is this hope to which he refers? For the answer to that question, we must begin four verses back:

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop enduranceAnd endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:1-4

So, our hope is in our salvation, which is based on character, which is strengthened by endurance, which comes from problems and trials. I’ll be you didn’t see THAT coming, did you? Rather than complaining about the “unfair” shakes we get in life, we should be rejoicing that God is building endurance and character in us. If we couple this idea with 1 John 4:17, we get a really good picture of God’s goal for us in this life, “This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement: In this world we are like Jesus.”

God’s goal is for us to be just like Jesus in character. How do we get that way? Through suffering. Jesus suffered, and He’s our Lord and Master. Why would we think that we would be different from Him? Why would we WANT to be different from Him? Jesus said in John 15:20-21, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also…They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.” I can’t help but think of Peter and the other apostles as they left the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:41) “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name [of Jesus].”

Afraid of being embarrassed? Made fun of? losing a valuable association? When the Holy Spirit prompts us, we MUST SPEAK! I am much more concerned about what He thinks of me than anyone else; how about you?

Abba, give us the courage to speak up when You prompt us. May we have the strength to withstand any onslaught by the enemies of the cross. We pray for them because we know that they are potential brothers and sisters in Christ. All it takes is for You to move in their lives, so that’s what we pray: Move in their lives, O Lord! Thank You. Amen.

Proverbs 3 5-3-21

We should treat our neighbors and coworkers as if we will be standing beside them in church next Sunday.

29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you.

Chapter 3 of Proverbs can be broken down into sets.

  • The first 12 verses have to do with our relationship with the Father.
  • Verses 13-18 have to do with wisdom, which is personified. We know wisdom to be Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30).
  • Verses 19-20 tell of the LORD’s wisdom, understanding and knowledge based upon creation.
  • Verses 21-26 speak of the confidence we can have in wisdom and discretion.
  • Verses 27-32 address how we treat our neighbor–and fellow worshiper. In those days, everyone went to the temple or synagogue to “have church.” Running into a neighbor and/or business associate at the temple could be good or bad, depending on how we have treated them.
  • Verses 33-35 deal with our relationship with the Father again, but with conditions.

God wants us to see that when we come together under one roof to lift up the name of Jesus (have church), we had better be in good relations with our fellow worshipers. Here’s what Jesus had to say about it:

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

Notice that it’s not “if you have something against your brother or sister.” Jesus deals with our own grudges in another place. This is about dealing with those whom we have treated wrongly, at least, in their minds. It’s important for us to be of one mind when we worship our Lord. He calls for unity; how can we have unity if we have mistreated family? Paul says this,

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 1 Corinthians 6:7

We need not worry about justice. Jesus will take care of those who wrong us. We have just better make sure that we are right with our neighbors and with the Lord. Our attitude is what determines how we feel about our neighbors and how we treat them. Any justification we have used lies heavy on our conscience. Jesus would have us come to Him for an attitude adjustment. How often? As often as we need one! Let’s let Jesus give us His attitude toward our neighbors and then check with Him often throughout the day to make sure that we still have it.

Abba, You are so wise. Thank You for Your Spirit who reminds us of the things we need to fix in our lives. Thank You that You empower us to do it. I realize that You could fix them Yourself, but You want to work with us to do it together. It’s part of the process of growing and a real part of being with You and doing with You. May You remind us often each day, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 3 3-3-21

When praying for yourself and others, there are things for which to ask and things from which to stay away. What are they?

13 Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she [wisdom] is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.

Don’t ask for money. Money never solved anyone’s problems. If they were insecure before, then they will be insecure rich; if they were arrogant before, then they will be intolerable wealthy. If they were lonely before, then they will fall for all the wrong types of relationships. Fame, prestige, and popularity are the same way. Instead, a person who is wise and gains understanding will find that richness, wealth, security and personal well-being are in the eyes of the beholder: A loving spouse, children and grandchildren/nieces and nephews, integrity, a good work ethic, satisfaction in a day’s work, a calm home life (unless you have crazy cats–or dogs), to name a few. The person who finds wisdom from the Lord, His understanding, and knowledge about Him and how the world works is the person who is truly happy, blessed, and full of joy.

So, what do we pray when we pray for others? If they are believers, then we pray pretty much the same thing we pray for ourselves, which we’ll get to in a minute. If they do not know the Lord, then I recommend this (from my brainstorm page):

  1. Ask for opportunities to be a witness to them, both silent and vocal.
  2. Ask for them to have an awareness of spiritual things.
  3. Ask for them to have a curiosity and willingness to talk about the Lord.
  4. Ask for these things:
    1. a drought to come upon them: money, friends, transportation, housing, something!
    2. a hedge of separation from those who encourage wayward living.
    3. a crisis of belief where they actually consider that there may be something to what you’ve been saying.
    4. a godly person or persons to come alongside them to encourage them on their journey.
    5. for God to do whatever it takes to draw them to His side!
  5. Be available for a salvation conversation and discipleship.

As for yourself and other believers, pray for these things:

  1. Seek wisdom from God in His Word. Listen to His Spirit as He speaks to you through what you read.
  2. Seek transparency with Him. He already knows; the only person you are fooling is yourself. He wants you to succeed. Trust Him.
  3. Seek knowledge, instruction, insight and understanding; seek prudence and discretion.
  4. Seek God’s will for your life for today, even right now. He sees the whole path and knows the best way.

Here are some miscellaneous things for which to pray that are from Robin’s brainstorm page:

  1. Make us useful for Your kingdom.
  2. When traveling, may we/they enjoy Your presence and protection.
  3. Teach us how to “remain in You.”
  4. Take our lists, our desires, and change them to Your will and desires.
  5. Please orchestrate the details of this day and may we respond to You and not react or resist as Your will unfolds.
  6. “May our children see Your glory at work and please make our efforts successful (Psalm 90:16-17). Pray other Scriptures as prayers!
  7. Please give me the sense to obey. (Psalm 119:73)
  8. Guard my thoughts, words, and deeds so they will honor Your name.
  9. Please prepare hearts to receive Your answers.

I’m sure there will be more, but that’s all we have on our brainstorm pages so far. With God, we can get as specific as we like. Since He already knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8), we can rest assured that He will give us what we need, and that He enjoys us asking. We must remember that He is God, therefore He gets to choose the answers and the timing. We are His little children (emphasis on “little”). Remember, it’s all about the relationship. Start talking; He’s listening!

Abba, thank You that You hear our prayers–that You even care to listen! We are Your children and You’re crazy about us, just like we are about our kids. May we take advantage of our position as siblings of Jesus and co-heirs with Him. Wow! I can hardly wait to see what all You have planned for us. Amen.

Proverbs 3 2-3-21

Let’s go back to the beginning: Did you surrender to Christ? Were you baptized in obedience? Do you walk with Him daily?

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight [direct your paths].

Those who answer “yes” to the above questions are the ones who Paul includes with himself in Romans 6:2, “We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Sin bothers us. In fact, we will not rest until we have first repented of it and then worked hard to conquer it. We will make any change in our lives, give up any pet desire, and struggle against any besetting sin (one that has a deep root and is locked into place) until we have victory in Christ. We allow that struggle to drive us to the cross and then to the throne of Christ. We use that struggle to teach us to die to self and live for Christ. In this way, we become stronger because of our weakness as Christ takes up “presidence” in our hearts (a mash-up of residence and president). Our key verses for living are:

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:4

11 In the same way, we count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus12 Therefore we do not let sin reign in our mortal bodies so that we obey its evil desires.  Romans 6:11-12 adapted

13 …we have been brought from death to life; and we offer every part of ourselves to him as an instrument of righteousness14 For sin shall no longer be our master, because we are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:13-14 adapted

Our slavery is of our own choosing. “Slavery?” you say. Christ said, “everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34). But, those who are in Christ live in this verse, “But thanks be to God that, though we used to be slaves to sin, we have come to obey from our hearts the pattern of teaching that has now claimed our allegiance. We have been set free from sin and have [voluntarily] become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:17-18 adapted. We freely and wholeheartedly follow Christ! And, our righteousness leads to holiness (Romans 6:19).

We would do well to remind ourselves of these verses often as we walk in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).

Abba, it is my sincere hope that every reader of this post will pray these verses back to You in thanksgiving and praise. You have done a wondrous thing for us through the work of our Savior and Lord on the cross of Calvary. May we never take Your sacrifice for granted. Amen.

Proverbs 3 1-3-21

What is our goal in life? What is God expecting of us? What do we expect of ourselves? It’s a good question to ask as we go into worship.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Don’t be wise in your own eyes. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.

Christlikeness. That’s our goal. So, how do we attain becoming like Christ? By knowing Christ–not about Christ, but knowing Him intimately and thus becoming just like Him. The Spirit’s job is to teach us to be like Him, and is Himself Yeshua (Jesus). To know Christ is to become like Him; to become like Him calls us to a higher understanding and closer walk with Him.

God has gifted us with everything we need for godly living–Himself!
What are His expectations?
That we believe (act on, put our faith and trust in)
His One and only Son–daily, even continuously (John 6:29).

So, how do we get to know Him and become like Him? Paul tells us in Philippians 3.

10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! NLT

What?! I’m not sure I like that version. Let’s try a different one.

Now I long to know Christ and the power shown by his resurrection: now I long to share his sufferings, even to die as he died, so that I may perhaps attain as he did, the resurrection from the dead. J.B. Phillips

Hey, I like that one even less! Surely there’s a better one.

10 And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; 11 so that I may attain to the resurrection [that will raise me] from the dead. AMP

Well, there’s one more I want to try.

10 [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] 11 That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]. Amplified Bible, Classic Edition

In case you haven’t noticed, it is all about the relationship. And, like Paul, the resurrection power calls us to die to self and live WITH Christ. I used to say, “He died for me; I’ll live for Him,” but people can live FOR Christ without ever really knowing Christ. Let’s keep the main thing the main thing: It’s a relationship. Let’s spend time with Him in worship this morning and then walk with Him through the rest of the day. Let’s allow Him to guide our evening, speak to us in our dreams, and then call us to get up and join Him at the table for prayer and Bible study in the morning. Then, repeat.

Abba, as we begin this new year worshipping “together,” may we seek Your face (Psalm 27:8) through praise and worship, fellowship and teaching. May we put You on the throne of our hearts AND KEEP YOU THERE. Be our God; reveal Yourself to us. We are Yours. Amen.

Proverbs 3 12-3-20

Quarantining has been good for Christianity. Frustrating, but good. It has halted the status quo and called us to analyze how and why we do things.

1 My child, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart…3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

The problem with the way we used to do things is that we depended upon others for our spiritual food. Whether it was Bible reading (led by a pastor), worship (led by a worship leader), Bible study (led by a teacher), prayer (organized, perfunctory, as at the beginning or end of a meeting), or works (things we do at church), it was all provided for us. Granted, ministers are given to the body of Christ to “equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” Ephesians 4:12. But, the goal of ministers needs to be to equip each Christian to study and grow independently. Each of us is to have sole dependency on Christ. It highlights once again the truth in Sole Scriptura, the sole sufficiency of the Scriptures. All we need is a Bible and we are good to go! The Scriptures, through the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit, give us everything we need to be successful and faithful followers of Christ.

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

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in himrooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7

If we want to hear from God, we must learn to speak His language, which is Scripture. He will NEVER go outside the bounds of what He has revealed in His Word. If we know His Word, then we know where those boundaries are and cannot be misled or deceived. We also will know His heart, His Plan, and His promises. My favorite promise comes from Jesus’ prayer in John 17:24,

“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.”

There are several things we can learn from this statement:

  1. Jesus Christ is God’s Son.
  2. We will be with Him in heaven!
  3. We will experience His glory!
  4. Jesus Christ is eternal; He was not created, but has existed with God from before creation.

From this verse, I extrapolate this worldview:

Jesus Christ is sovereign and is worth serving.
He loves me and wants me to be with Him;
He is with me right now,
and I will go to be with Him when He calls.
There, with Him, I will experience His full glory forever!

Everything in my life is based upon this worldview. My life, my worldly goods, my position, even my family and friends must take a backseat to this worldview. Either Jesus is Sovereign and has my best interests at heart for everything, or I am completely wrong and a fool.

How about you? Do you have a verse/passage on which you “hang your hat?” On what is your worldview based? I would love to hear. In the meantime, continue on as good soldiers for Christ as we continue to live our lives in Christ, “who loves us and gave Himself for us.”

Abba, You are above all things. Your Plan is all-inclusive. We need not worry about anything, whether food or drink, clothes, money, health, time, productivity–anything! The phrase, “Am I making a difference,” is erroneous because it places the emphasis on us. What we should be asking is, “Lord, may we come to know You so intimately that we trust You in EVERY circumstance. You will bring glory to Your name, of that we have no doubt.” Give us faith, O LORD. May we be ready on the day of testing. Amen.

Proverbs 3 11-3-20

Two things: READ the WORD and VOTE according to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We are His Mouthpiece!

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. Don’t use logic as your only assessment concerning how to vote. Ask the LORD to reveal to you for whom He wants you to vote. The BEST way is to be informed BEFORE you go to the voting booth. Do a little research.

It’s amazing to me that no matter how many times I read a passage in the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit can reveal something new. I was reading in Luke 1 about the birth of John the Baptist this morning and realized (had revealed to me) that Zechariah was a priest; in fact, both he and Elizabeth were descendants of Aaron, which means that John was a descendant of Aaron and in line with the priesthood–JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS A PRIEST!

Another thing that stood out to me was Gabriel’s prophecy: “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah…to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:17 Gabriel himself made the connection between John and Elijah. He was referring to Malachi 4:5-6,

See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.

I didn’t include the middle of verse 17 because I wanted to emphasize what Malachi said. Now, here’s what I left out: “to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous.” Sound familiar? It’s a rendition of Malachi’s prophecy, thus making the connection between John and Elijah obvious. Assuming that Zechariah knew the book of Malachi, the reference was not lost on him.

Again, I am amazed concerning the Plan of God. His GREAT PLAN OF SALVATION that He established before He ever made the world (see Eph. 1:4-6 and Rev. 13:8) was being played out in history! TODAY is another great day in history. I believe that God will make His will known beginning today (it may take a while to get all the results in) concerning America and the world. Pray for His will to be done.

Abba, I pray that Your will be done today on earth even as it is in heaven. May we, Your people, be obedient to Your Spirit on every level: our private lives, our marriages, our families, our work, our worship, our recreation, and especially our citizenship. May You put in place the leader that will “turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous.” May Your will be done, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 3 10-3-20

“Trust the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; submit to Him in all your ways…and He will direct your paths.” v.5-6

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil [our own desires, intentions, diversions, thoughts, and even feelings].

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” The Main Thing is the Gospel [Good News] of Jesus Christ:

  • He is the Anointed One, the Jewish Messiah
  • He came from heaven to earth, lived, died, rose again, ascended
  • He is coming back for His Church, His Bride
  • He wants everyone to trust in Him for salvation

Our motto should be:

Whatever it takes to advance the Gospel

In America, Christians get all up in the air about sickness, job loss, divorce (although, not as much), and with things that threaten our health or security. Why?

  • Is Christ not in control?
  • Are we all not destined to die?
  • Have we not taken a vow of poverty, in that we gave everything to Christ for Him to do with as He pleases?

Instead of asking, “Why,” and then praying for God to “fix it,” let’s pray, “Okay, LORD, what do I need to do so that You receive the most glory? How can I advance the Gospel through this crisis? Since You’ve chosen not to protect me from it, then use me in it and carry me through it.”

Who knows? God may have spent your entire life getting you to “such a time as this.” Proverbs 24:10 says, “If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!” In other words, to be strong in the LORD only when times are good shows that we really have not learned to trust Him, yet. Instead of seeing trying times as God forsaking us–or failing!–let’s look at them as growing seasons where our faith is tested, much like exercising our muscles when we work out.

The key to everything is PRAYER. All things in this life are to connect us with the Father. Our very salvation is designed for us to have a close and intimate relationship with Him through Jesus Christ via the Holy Spirit.

Don’t get me wrong! I don’t look forward to hard times, but I do want to wring them for all they’re worth concerning my relationship with Christ and for His glory. I pray that this pandemic would bring many back to Him and would call our country to repentance. Selective obedience is disobedience. We need to give Him ALL.

Abba, may You work a mighty work in our country. I know You are using this Pandemic to call us back to You. May we heed Your discipline, O LORD. Whatever else You use, we accept as from Your hand. Increase our faith, Abba, and call many to Your side. Heal our land, O LORD. Do whatever it takes. Amen.

Proverbs 3 9-3-20

Concerning End Times, we may have the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble. Let’s focus on His MOVING rather than His COMING.

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.

I have always read this verse as a business verse, to which it can certainly be applied. Today, I read it differently in light of my beginning statement. We tend to take an “us against them” approach when we think of evil people. We must remember that WE used to be “evil people.” “At one time, we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.” Titus 3:3. We must begin to think differently about those around us.

Proverbs 24:10-12 puts our job into perspective. Let’s look:

10 If you falter in a time of trouble,
    how small is your strength!
11 Rescue those being led away to death;
    hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
    Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

  1. What does it mean to falter? For us, it means that we take our eyes off the job we are to do. When things get tough living for Christ, we lean in on Him all the more! In fact, we should pray that God would make us “shine like stars in the heavens” (Philippians 2:15). The implication is that it must be dark before our lights can truly be seen. Let’s not worry about how dark it gets; let’s focus on increasing our light!
  2. God brings people into our paths everyday for us to influence for Him. Are we paying attention?
  3. Feigning ignorance just shows that we have been ignoring His commands. Not a good idea!
  4. Rewards, indeed, are coming, but I don’t think that they will be for what we have traditionally considered rewardable. The works that the LORD is looking for is in terms of OBEDIENCE, especially concerning sharing the Good News with potential followers and encouraging the flock to stay close to the Shepherd.

Jesus IS coming back, but before He does, how about praying for a great outpouring of His Spirit? I see every person I talk to about Christ as a potential catalyst for a great revival. When we cry out to God, let’s make it about lost souls!

Abba, You know my heart. I want more than anything–health, wealth, long life–for You to move mightily in our land. May Your Spirit fall on us in POWER, O LORD! May it not be anything we do, but–all of a sudden–people begin to cry out to You in repentance. Revival starts in the hearts of Your children, Abba, I know this. May we begin to cry out to You in repentance. May You begin a great revival in me today. Have Your way in me. Amen.

Proverbs 3 8-3-20

So many people are comfortable with just being saved, but that is NOT what Christ had in mind! He wants FELLOWSHIP!

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.

His presence in our lives and the fellowship we have with Him has a very practical side. Even while we enjoy Him on a personal level, He is leading us along life’s path. This path is filled with traps, hidden snares, lures, and every kind of temptation. Only Jesus can guide us through them–and rescue us when we get caught in them.

A favorite verse of mine is Ephesians 2:10. I particularly like the NLT version:

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

  1. The NIV uses the word, “workmanship.” “Masterpiece” denotes a higher degree of accomplishment and value. It’s not just about His ability to create, but about how pleased He is with His work, with US!
  2. We are new in Christ upon salvation and every day, even all the time. His Spirit is our tree of life, the shekinah glory of God that lives in us and is constantly regenerating us.
  3. The “good things” are acts of obedience. HE puts us into position; HE gives us the tools; HE sets up the circumstances; HE tells us what to do; HE empowers us to do it; therefore, HE gets all the glory even as we enjoy doing it. These “good things” are actually new works that glorify the LORD.

If we hear His voice and heed it, then we will supernaturally live righteously, walk humbly with Him and others, and be witnesses in our homes, school, work, church, neighborhood, city, state, country, and the world, all depending upon His plan for each of us. The Key is DEPTH.

How do we get depth? The rest of today’s chapter tells us how:

  1. We are not wise in our own eyes (verses 7-8).
  2. We honor God with the best that we have. All the time. Every time. (verses 9-10)
  3. We accept the LORD’s discipline in our lives, learning as quickly as possible and thanking Him for the discipline. We are better people for it. (verses 11-12)
  4. We do all we can to find wisdom and gain understanding of Him and His Word by studying the Scriptures and listening to His voice. We will find true treasure and peace in the process. (verses 13-18)
  5. Wisdom, understanding and knowledge all come from Him. We “study to show ourselves approved” (2 Timothy 2:15). Depth comes from study. Are you ready to go deep with Him? (verses 19-20)
  6. Wisdom, understanding, sound judgment and discretion come from a disciplined lifestyle. We MUST apply ourselves to learning all we can about Christ and His Plan and then make ourselves available to Him. Daily.

Christ left His throne in heaven, came to earth in human form, died on the cross for our sake, rose again, and then returned to Heaven and now sits on the right side of the Father interceding for us.

HE DID ALL THAT FOR US. CAN’T WE LIVE FOR HIM?

Abba, I remember when Johnny Bisagno preached at Falls Creek that Tuesday noon session in 1975 this very message about all that Jesus went through just to get us back. That day, Howard and I gave our lives back to You after living for ourselves for so long. Thank You for calling me back. Thank You for not putting me on a shelf!  LORD Jesus, I pledge myself anew to You. I am Yours. Use me as You see fit. Amen.

Proverbs 3 7-3-20

In 1949, on the Isle of Lewis, two older ladies began a prayer meeting that led to a great revival in Hebrides Islands.

Chapter 3 is a Revivalist Handbook! Let’s walk through it:

1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
    and bring you peace and prosperity.

Understanding that OT teaching was that righteous people were blessed materially–one that Jesus countermanded, we DO believe that we are blessed spiritually by following the admonition of verse 1. The seeds of revival begin when God’s people turn their attention to the Word of God and begin to apply the commands of the LORD to our lives.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
    bind them around your neck,
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
    in the sight of God and man [generally speaking].

In order for those seeds to grow, we must water them with action. This action cannot be determined by us, nor can we generate “good works” that bring revival. We must lay our lives at the foot of the throne of grace and wait. In His time, He will tell us what the next step is.

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.

These verses are the crux of revival. When we are willing to trust Him entirely, THEN and ONLY then will revival begin to grow in our hearts.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
    and nourishment to your bones.

Pride is the enemy of revival. Our pride will keep those seeds from growing every time.

Honor the Lord with your wealth,
    with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
    and your vats will brim over with new wine.

One of the main culprits of warding off revival is the love of money. It is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Once we are willing to lay all on the altar, the rest of our lives follows pretty quickly.

11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    as a father the son he delights in.

In order for revival to come to our lives, we must endure the LORD’s discipline. In fact, we must embrace it, want it, even cry out for it. WE NEED CORRECTION. The next verses tell us where we find the what and how:

13 Blessed are those who find wisdom,
    those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
    and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies;
    nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
    in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
    and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
    those who hold her fast will be blessed.

Wisdom is seeing from God’s perspective. Understanding is…well, understanding what we are seeing. We ONLY gain God’s perspective by reading/knowing His Word. We MUST KNOW what He has said in order to know what He desires of us. The Spirit will confirm God’s will concerning what we read. Even our prayers must be scripturally based.

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
    by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
    and the clouds let drop the dew.

Want to know what God’s thinking? What He’s up to? What He wants of us? READ HIS WORD!

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
    preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
    an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
    and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
    when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
    or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be at your side
    and will keep your foot from being snared.

James tells us to draw near to God and He will draw near to us (James 4:8). Read with the awareness of His nearness, His desire to open our minds, His presence, out of which flows love, joy, peace, hope, grace, knowledge, understanding, and discernment–WISDOM!

NOW comes the nitty gritty part, the part where His word tells us where to begin in order for us to make our hearts ready for revival:

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
    when it is in your power to act
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
    “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
    when you already have it with you.

In other words, be up-front and honorable in your business dealings.

29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
    who lives trustfully near you.
30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason—
    when they have done you no harm.

Be the trustworthy neighbor. “Let your light shine before men so that they will see your good deeds (being trustworthy) and will glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

31 Do not envy the violent
    or choose any of their ways.

Do not mimic the ways of evil people. Instead, choose godly role models and learn from them.

32 For the Lord detests the perverse
    but takes the upright into his confidence.
33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
    but he blesses the home of the righteous.
34 He mocks proud mockers
    but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.
35 The wise inherit honor,
    but fools get only shame.

These verses remind us that God is still active in our world. He is looking for people who are seeking His heart:

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9a

All it takes is a few people praying to spark a revival. The timing is up to the LORD. We just need to be faithful, willing, ardent, and compliant to the Spirit of God.

We will talk more about this subject of revival tomorrow. In the meantime, pray with me for Him to give us clean hands and pure hearts. Pray this prayer with me:

Dear Lord, we come before You in repentance for having proud hearts and dirty hands. We have done things our way for so long that our way seems right, feels right, and even looks right. But, when we read Your Word, we find that none of us is righteous unto ourselves. WE NEED YOU, Your guidance, Your correction, even Your rebuke. Give us clean hands and pure hearts, O God (Psalm 24:4). Renew a right spirit within us (Psalm 51:10). “Show us Your ways, LORD, teach us Your paths. Guide us in Your truth and teach us, for You are God our Savior, and our hope is in You all day long (Psalm 25:4).” “My heart says of you, ‘Seek His face!’ Your face, LORD, I will seek (Psalm 27:8).” Begin now to work revival into our souls, O God. We need to be desperate for a new and fresh moving of Your Spirit in our hearts and across this land. Amen.

Critique of #9, Jesus is Coming Soon, 6-3-20

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.

Here is #9 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?

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
    preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
    an ornament to grace your neck.

#9 Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready? Part 1

This entire section is under reconstruction. As new light has appeared on my horizon, I am seeing Revelation with different eyes beginning with its date of composition, which may have been around 65 A.D, in which case most of the events that happen in it are concerning the fall of Jerusalem and the complete destruction of the temple, thus putting a definitive end to the sacrificial system.

A premillennial dispensational view:

Believing like I do that John had his vision of Jesus and heaven in 90+A.D, Christians have been looking for the Return of Christ for over 1900 years. He said, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done [on account of Me].” Revelation 22:12. From our perspective, it would seem that he is dragging His feet. But, Peter explained that, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to [at least, an understanding of] repentance [with an opportunity to respond].” 2 Peter 3:9.

At the same time, Daniel, Jesus, Paul and John gave us some really good clues to know the season of His Coming. It is into those that we will delve today. Just be aware that mankind is not to know the day or the hour or even the year–but, we can know the season!

25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. Daniel 9:25-26

This part is understandable as we look back on history. Jerusalem was rebuilt in 445 B.C. and Daniel’s seven “sevens” and sixty-two “sevens” equal 490 years, which just happens to be the year that Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He died that week. The next part, after the destruction of Jerusalem, becomes very vague:

 The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary [the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D.]. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” Daniel 9:25-27

Since the temple was destroyed and has not been rebuilt yet, we can assume that this ruler is yet to come. For insight as to who he is, we go to Matthew 24:15, “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—” and then to 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” 

Now we KNOW it hasn’t happened, yet. The interesting part is that since the miraculous revival of Israel in 1948 and her subsequent victories over her enemies, there has been a push to have everything ready for the temple when it is built for the fourth and last time–even down to the Red Heifer! Update on the Building of the Third Temple

Verses 6-8 describe how it will go down:

6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

There are many theories as to who the “One” is who now holds the antichrist back. I personally think that it is the Holy Spirit as He uses the Church to stand in the gap; this is where we stand today. Eventually, somehow, we get removed and the antichrist is finally free to do as he pleases.

Caveat: To know specifically how the antichrist will take over the world, read the following verses of 9-12. I think that you will see what I see: Control of the press, made-to-order miracles (like vaccines for viruses that were manufactured), manipulated video, and other such things. At the same time, I know that God doesn’t want anyone to perish, and if we fervently ask, He might grant another worldwide revival to thwart the evil one’s plans once again. People need Jesus more than ever before!

So far, we’ve just looked at what will happen to set up Christ’s Return. Tomorrow, we will look at His actual Return. Jesus said, “Watch out that no one deceives you…Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Matthew 24:4, 42. Let’s put our hope, our faith and our trust in Him. Let’s share our hope, faith and trust with those around us. LET’S SHARE JESUS!

Abba, I pray that this post will not scare anyone, but will motivate every Christian to be about the Father’s (Your) business. It’s time to scrap the “American Dream” and adopt a heavenly one. YOU ARE COMING SOON! We not only want to be ready, we want to be found as diligent, good and faith servants. Call us to the battle, LORD. Make us ready! Amen.