Proverbs 3 5-3-20

I’m afraid that the pandemic is the fault of Brookwood staff. We prayed for revival; we got Quarantine!

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.

During our quarantine, I hope that you have been able to focus on Jesus. I pray that you have increased your wisdom and understanding by spending time in His Word. If you have not, IT’S NOT TOO LATE! Just coming to the realization that you are missing out is a big step. Verses 11 and 12 are leading somewhere: to verses 13-18!

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 [eternal] life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are [heavenly] 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.

During this time of “blessed subtraction,” I have been honing my testimony and Gospel-sharing skills. I haven’t had a chance to use them, yet, but I am hoping that soon the Lord will give me opportunities.

40 days ago, we began “40 Days for Revival,” an intense time of focus on our lives as we prepared for revival meetings–that were supposed to start today! “Coincidentally,” these 40 days ran in tandem with the 40 days of quarantine. The Tuesday evening of the inauguration of the 40 days, I sang a song called, “More of You,” by Brandon Holt. I will be singing it again near the end of the services today. The first line of the song is, “My life’s desire is to be more like You.” From that line, I have fashioned five “life desires:”

  1. To be more like Jesus
  2. To be useful to Jesus
  3. To encourage others to know Jesus
  4. To give my life for Jesus
  5. To go be with Jesus

These desires are based upon Psalm 73: 23-24, which says,

23 Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.

The next two verses speak my heart:

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

I pray that you are having a great time of growth in the LORD during this time of “Righteous Removal” (of things that keep us from seeing Jesus clearly), and that you have come to know Him better. Today, we have the opportunity to meet together again. PLEASE BE WISE. CONSULT THE HOLY SPIRIT as to whether you should attend in person or online. May the Spirit’s peace be upon you either way.

Abba, I am looking forward to this morning with a little trepidation. What’s it going to look like? How many will venture out? It doesn’t matter; it’s just the unknown. YOU are our focus; YOU are our object of affection and worship. May You be praised as we lift up Your name, O LORD. “Make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful” (Psalm 90:17). Amen.

Proverbs 3 4-3-20

We have free time: What will we do with it? Will we while it away, or will we use it to seek the LORD? Let’s GROW!

My son [child], 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.

NOW is a great time to pick a book of the Bible and read it–but don’t stop there! Look up its history and read background information concerning when it was written, by whom, the circumstances, and the audience. Allow the Holy Spirit to teach you during this time.

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.

If we love God, we will love His creation, which includes us and others. If we are faithful in this love by loving others and ourselves (not in a self-fulling way, but in godly ways), then we will be a blessing to God and to those with whom we live.

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.

During these trying times, we need not fear. God’s plans for us go well beyond this life on earth. He has plans for us that venture into His heaven, back to earth with Him, and then beyond this earth as we know it–although it will be transformed when Christ returns, it will still look and function like earth– to the melding of heaven and earth!

What are the conditions for peace in and with God?

  1. Trust- We are to trust Him. There’s a difference between trusting and believing. Believing in Him can be strictly intellectual; it can be hostile; and it can be dismissive. Even the demons believe–and shudder (James 2:19). Trusting requires action. We must put feet to our faith.
  2. Lean on- Lean on what? Not our own understanding, but on His. How do we get His understanding? By asking, seeking, and knocking.
    1. In study– We ask the LORD to reveal His understanding to us; we seek His knowledge in His Word; we knock when we find something that catches our attention.
    2. In prayer– We ask the LORD to reveal Himself to us; we seek His face at the throne of grace; we knock by presenting ourselves first on the altar, and then by interceding for others as the Holy Spirit prompts us.
    3. In fellowship– We ask God with whom He wants us interacting today; we seek them out in whatever manner is acceptable, and then we approach them in the attitude of Christ: humble and gentle of heart (Matthew 11:28-30).
  3. Submit- Many versions use the word, “acknowledge.” It’s a good word, but it does not convey the complete attitude we should have when we come to Christ. The word, “submission,” portrays a king and his loyal subject, which is EXACTLY the picture we are supposed to have in this verse!

The promise we receive when we trust in, lean on, and submit to Him is that He will direct our ways and make them straight. GUIDANCE. It’s not that our path will go straight, but that He will lead us straight on the path–wherever it goes and however many twists, turns, dips and climbs it has. The idea is to not stray from the path. We tend to think of roads and cars in today’s society, but this verse was written in a time when people walked or rode horses (or donkeys). The best place to walk was in the middle of the path. To stray to one side or the other was to endanger oneself and his mount. We must have the same mindset and stay in the middle of the path.

Robin and I love to go to Estes Park, Colorado, for vacations. We love to hike! When hiking up the mountain, though, we rarely get to climb side-by-side. Instead, one will take the lead and the other will follow. When walking with the LORD, there are times when we walk side-by-side with Him, but most of the time, He will take the lead. We would do well to stay close to His heels! Robin and I conversed the entire time, so we can trust the LORD to do the same with us. We need only to stay close.

Let’s be as Solomon was–at least, at the beginning of his reign–and follow God with our whole hearts:

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge [submit to] the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.” 1 Chronicles 29:9-10

May we be strong and do the work God has for us. Let’s “study to show ourselves approved, workmen who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing and handling the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Abba, I ask that You reveal Yourself to me in Your Word today. I also ask that You reveal Yourself to all who read Your Word today. May we all take refuge, find comfort, gain knowledge, and be empowered as we spend time in Your presence. Show us how to use our time wisely. Show us You, LORD. Amen.

 

Proverbs 3 3-3-20

Trusting in something besides the LORD? Finances? a relationship? a position? Anything before him is idolatry.

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.

When asked which of the commandments was the greatest, Jesus gave them an answer that wasn’t in the 10 Commandments. Let’s look at the passage:

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like [equal to, the second part of] it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

Jesus knew that if we love the LORD with all of our hearts, that if we trust Him with everything, to be our Light, our Shield, and our Provider of everything we need, then we would keep the rest of the commandments. We would have no need or desire to break them.

#1: “You shall have no other gods before me.” Sheep trust their shepherd and only their shepherd. If our Shepherd is meeting all of our needs according to His riches in glory (Phil. 4:19), then we have no need for any other gods/shepherds.

#2 “You shall not make for yourself any graven image.” The LORD is the Power behind everything in our lives. He uses all things to teach us and to keep us. When we focus on His tools rather than Him, the Craftsman, we run the risk of idolizing the tool. Loving Him and trusting Him with all our heart keeps us from this temptation.

The rest of the commandments are easy to keep when we love Him because His Spirit guides us into all truth and empowers us to keep His commands.

#3 “You shall not take the LORD’s name in vain (misuse it).” 

#4 “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” 

#5 “Honor your father and your mother.” 

#6 “You shall not murder.”

#7 “You shall not commit adultery.”

#8 “You shall not steal.”

#9 “You shall not give false witness (lie).”

#10 “You shall not covet (want what is not yours).”

Without the Holy Spirit living in our hearts equipping us and empowering us, we can’t keep ANY of the commandments. With Him living in us and walking beside us, encouraging us and empowering us, giving us the want-to to want to, we can keep ALL the commandments. We begin by making the decision to love the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, mind and with all our strength. We demonstrate our love for Him by loving our neighbor as ourselves.

King David said, “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11. Let us have undivided hearts and be wholehearted today in our service to our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ. HE IS our All in All.

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

For, we are always with Him; He holds us by our dominant hand, He guides us with His counsel, and when this life is over, He will take us into Glory (verses 23-24). Folks, it just doesn’t get any better than that!

Abba, I pray that You will search my heart and flush out any cobwebs of idolatry that might be lurking in the corners. I want to serve You with an undivided heart, with my whole heart. See if there be any offensive way in me; if there is, then help me root it out! Then, lead me in your way everlasting. This is my daily prayer, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 3 2-3-20

Our connection with God is never lost, but it can become corrupted. Keep those lines of communication open!

3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

How much we’re willing to trust God depends on how much we are willing to talk to Him. As much as God likes for us to read His Word and do His will, He prefers for us to be in contact with Him all the time. In fact, in order for us to correctly interpret what we read, we need Him to tell us how to interpret it. Also, in order for us to please Him in what we do, we need to do it WITH Him. He doesn’t need for us to do anything FOR Him.

Ephesians 6:18 tells us to pray always. Here it is in a few versions:

ESV- praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

NIV- And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

AMPC- Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).

CJB- as you pray at all times, with all kinds of prayers and requests, in the Spirit, vigilantly and persistently, for all God’s people.

NLT- Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

MSG- In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

As we can see, our connection with the Spirit is vital, and our connection with each other is maintained through prayer. One way to see prayer is as a conduit between us and God, and us and each other. The Spirit flows from God to us, and then from us to one another. How clean the pipes are and how open they are depends upon us. The Spirit is ALWAYS flowing–we just tend to allow our pipes to become corroded, or we neglect to open the valves.

The other reason for praying for each other is to take our eyes off of ourselves. Intercessory prayer is a selfless act. It pleases God. Our Savior set the example, and we follow it via His Spirit.

9 “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.”

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message [us!], 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:9-11, 20-23

The best way to evangelize is through prayer. As we pray, the LORD will instruct us on where to go and when, who to see, and what to say and do. Often, God uses us through or prayers to open doors so that others can witness boldly. It’s all according to His Plan. Only He knows, so we ask. Our faith is in believing that He is working in and through us, and, as we see His Plan working, our faith grows.

Let’s water those seeds and stretch those muscles in prayer today. May we ask the LORD to speak to our hearts and to make His presence and will known to us today.

Abba, You speak to us constantly. We have only to turn our attention to You and listen to what You say. I know that my level of comprehension goes up as I read Your Word. It’s like a vocabulary book for interpreting what You are saying. It gives me context and background for what You will and won’t ask or do. In fact, Your Spirit uses the very words I read to speak to my heart! May my “face” be turned toward You all the time, and when I feel myself turning away to look at something else, remind me, O LORD, to turn back to You (the very definition of repentance). I love the words to the old hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” May I keep my eyes fixed on You, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 3 1-3-20

The Christian life can be summed up as: J.O.Y. – Serving Jesus first, others second, and you last-or not at all.

The task: 1 Do not forget His [the LORD’s] teaching, keep His commands in your heart;

The reward: 2 They will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity [the LORD’s blessing, not necessarily money].

The task: 3 Let love and faithfulness [to the Lord] never leave you; bind them around your neck [like a necklace], write them on the tablet of your heart [memorize and internalize them].

The reward: 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man [you will be a worthy ambassador for Christ].

The task: 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit [acknowledge, make first place] Him,

The reward: and He will make your paths straight [direct your paths; show you the way to go].

Verses 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-18, and 21-26 can be done the same way. Each of them gives us an aspect of how to put Jesus FIRST in our lives. Jesus is all about helping others. With His Spirit directing us, there is no way to miss helping others in their time of need. There are two things to remember:

  1. Just because we see a need doesn’t mean that it is our duty to meet it.
  2. We must wait on the LORD to prompt us to do it IN THE PROPER TIME AND WAY.

Usually, when we see a need, it’s because the Spirit has shone a light on it for us and called our attention to it so that we can help–but not necessarily. If it’s not for us, then we should be feeling a tension about helping. PAY ATTENTION TO THE TENSION. When we help is important (timing) ; how we help is important, as well (procedure). He will guide us if we are listening, if we are paying attention and not acting on our feelings, which can be misleading.

The best way to get “in the zone” spiritually is to:

  1. Give ourselves to Jesus categorically every morning–first thing, even before coffee!
  2. Saturate ourselves with the words of God–Jesus via the Word. We must remember that Jesus IS the Word (John 1:1–4).
  3. Practice the Presence of God by keeping an open dialogue going. He really is with us and communicating with us.

One of my favorite passages is Isaiah 30:20-21, which says,

20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them [they will be revealed to you by the Spirit how He has taught you through adversity and affliction]. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way;walk in it.”

Jimmy Cox once said, “I don’t hear His voice audibly–it’s louder than that.” He is So right! Christ’s voice is unmistakable when we are in the habit of listening. Let’s get ourselves into the habit of listening for His voice everyday, all the time.

Abba, I present myself to You as Your apprentice, even Your slave; do with me as You will. Of course, I’m counting on Your own words that You are humble and gentle, and that Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light (Matt. 11:28-30). But, I also remember what you said to Paul as he was beginning to walk with you, “I will show him how much he must suffer for My name.” Acts 9:16. I receive that verse, too. I’m for whatever is going to bring You the most glory, LORD. I am Yours to do with as You please. Amen.

Proverbs 3 12-2-19

Choosing Righteousness seems unnatural, but once we do it enough times, we form a pattern of godliness in our lives.

[13] Happy the person who finds wisdom,
the person who acquires understanding;
[14] for her profit exceeds that of silver,
gaining her is better than gold,
[15] she is more precious than pearls—
nothing you want can compare with her. CJB

We have grown up in a world where so much is backwards: right is wrong and wrong is right. How can a person know the truth? Even the Word of God has been twisted to “say” what people want it to say rather than allowing it on its own. We cannot trust ANYTHING that we have learned in life except that which comes from the Spirit of God.

So, what do we do? We must learn to lean heavily upon the Spirit to show us His truth and to teach us His ways. Wisdom is seeing from God’s perspective. The only way to do that is to be subject to Him often enough to gain a larger perspective than just the here-and-now. We must quit thinking from moment to moment and start thinking on a larger scale.

Let’s start with a picture of who we were and who we are now in Christ:

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:15-18

From the moment we were saved, we were given a new nature, one that craves God and His righteousness. We WANT TO be righteous. It is THIS nature to which we should pay close attention because it is guided and controlled by the Holy Spirit who lives in you. Our allegiance is now to Christ!

This new mind sets us free from sin in that we now have a choice. Before we trusted in Christ as LORD, we didn’t have a choice. Now, because of the Holy Spirit within us and our new nature, we DO have a choice. I will say this: while making the choice, our feelings are still worldly; but after we have chosen rightly, the peace and joy that emanate from the Father to us is WELL WORTH IT! Just the comparison between the pay-off for sin and the intimate fellowship with the Father is enough to make us want to be righteous ALL THE TIME. Our motivation has certainly changed!

20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:20-23

Verse 23 reads like this in the CJB, “For what one earns from sin is death; but eternal life is what one receives as a free gift from God, in union with the Messiah Yeshua, our Lord.

Let’s concentrate today on the righteousness that comes from God and enjoy the benefits of our union with Jesus!

Dear LORD, Thank You for freeing me from the chains of sin and yoking me to You. I would much rather walk with You in righteousness than walk alone in my sin. It’s still tough making righteous decisions because I am still tempted by my flesh and my worldly mindset. Help me, O LORD, to replace my worldly thinking with godly thinking through Your Word and through Your guidance. May I rethink EVERYTHING in my life and make it subject to You and Your righteousness. Let’s start right now! Amen.

 

Proverbs 3 11-3-19

Sometimes we forget we are students. We are in training to become perfect in Christ. Train on!

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 [child] he delights in.

God has called us. He has given us His Spirit to come alongside us and train us in righteousness. We have a gift–now, how do we use it?!

God has also given us His written Word so that there is no mistake about what He is doing and what He likes. It’s important that we get to know His Word, reading it everyday for knowledge, yes, but also to hear His holy whisper. The Spirit speaks to us when we read His Word. Consider it a text from the Lord.

To connect the Word of God with His discipline, let’s look at another passage of Scripture:

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

God’s discipline is wrapped up in His Word. Through scripture, He teaches us, rebukes us, corrects us, and trains us in righteousness. We KNOW that we are His because we have this process going on in our lives. We know three things:

  1. We are God’s servants.
  2. We will be thoroughly equipped–at the time we need it.
  3. Every good work–We will be ready for whatever He calls us to do.

This morning as you study your bible privately and then with others, may the Spirit speak to you confirming that you are His; may He reveal truth to you; may He instruct you in how to handle a certain issue in your life; may He ready us for whatever is coming in our lives.

LORD, I just have this feeling that something BIG is about to happen. Make us ready for that day. May we be ready to give our time, talents, resources, and even our lives for the sake of souls. We know that our time on this earth is short; help us make the most of it for You and Your kingdom. We are Your servants. Help us to serve YOU! Amen.