Proverbs 4 10-4-21

Getting people in Christ is our goal, even as we are in Christ. What does it mean to be “in Christ?”

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.

Today, we begin a walk through 2 Corinthians 5:11-21. In this passage we find that not all brothers believe the same things about God, Jesus, the Spirit, the Bible, faith, and mission. It’s okay. Our job is not to persuade them to our way of thinking, but to engage them in conversation and study, seasoned with prayer, so that the Truth of Jesus’ intent is made clear to all. At the end of the discussion, we may still not agree on all points, but there are a few on which we can already agree:

  1. Jesus is God’s Word to us.
  2. Jesus lives in us via His Spirit.
  3. He will make known to us what we need for today.
  4. Our job is to follow Christ and help others follow Christ, not convince people to think like we do.

Verse 11 opens with a Pandora’s Box:

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.

What does Paul mean by “fear the Lord?” Paul has met with Jesus several times; what fear is he talking about? Paul is very good to refer to the Lord Jesus as God (Titus 2:13) and to keep Him elevated in stature (Philippians 2:9-11). In the previous verse (v.10), he makes reference to the throne of Jesus, which is to the right-hand of the Father (Ephesians 1:20). This type of fear is one of respect for the office and of loyalty to his King. At the same time, Paul understands the Plan to bring all things under the authority and unity of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:10). Hence, Paul’s mission is to persuade others to see Jesus as he sees Jesus.

Paul then begins a defense of his ministry to the Corinthians.

12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.

Because of some fleshly opinions, Paul feels the need to defend himself and his brethren to them. He appeals first to God as their Witness, and then to their consciences, meaning that the Spirit would be confirming what he is saying to them. Then he states the real problem: Pride has reared his ugly head. Pride always brings an “us against them” attitude to any situation, which destroys the unity that we are supposed to have in Christ,”

John 17:21 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.

Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

We must always strive to “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Being one in Christ does NOT mean that we see eye-to-eye on everything. Here’s why:

1. We are all in different seasons of our lives with different goals, ministries and people.

2. We have different temperaments and personalities through which we see the world and Christ.

3. We have different backgrounds and experiences, therefore our interpretations are different according to our individual views and where we are in the process of sanctification.

4. Christ shows each of us a different facet of the Diamond (who He is), therefore, we get a bigger picture of Christ collectively than we do individually.

Paul explained in his first letter that we are all parts of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). We are designed to be different. Let’s celebrate our uniqueness in Him!

Abba, thank You that my uniqueness is not just weirdness. I celebrate the “different” perspectives that I seem to have from the usual. May I always seek Your face and interface with others in order to get a clearer picture of You. Amen.

Proverbs 4 9-4-21

1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” How do we know we are in bad company?

14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. 15 Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. 16 For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble [you!]. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

From Northpoint

Five Signs of a Toxic Friendship

Here’s how to spot the warning signs of toxic friendships…

1.   When it dawns on you that your core group isn’t moving in the direction you want your life to be moving in.

2.   When you catch yourself pretending to be someone other than who you really are.

3.   When you feel pressure to compromise.

4.   When you catch yourself thinking, “I’ll go, but I won’t participate.”

5.   When you hope the people you care about don’t know your whereabouts.

From Kelly

How should we treat those who are toxic to us?

[9] When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. [10] But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or who are greedy or are swindlers or idol worshipers. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. [11] What I meant was that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a Christian yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Don’t even eat with such people. 1 Corinthians 5:9-11

Jesus said to treat them like tax collectors—wait, how did Jesus treat tax collectors? He told them about His kingdom (Matthew 5:27-31). They were not followers yet, so Jesus ate with them. We are to reach out to the lost, but we are to avoid those who profess Christ but do not follow His ways. We are to treat them kindly, but at arm’s length. Are we strong enough to do it? No. That’s why we walk in the Spirit and do it with His strength.

Even when we know the answer is, “yes,” the Holy Spirit will prompt us to ask the questions above. Why? Because it helps us to stay on track. One of my guys was telling me that in one of his training videos, he learned that train drivers in Asia have someone just behind them that point every few seconds in order to make sure the driver’s attention is on the road. That’s what the Spirit does for us in helping us keep on track (or get back on track).

Verse 25 tells us to “let our eyes look straight ahead; fix our gaze directly before us.” On what–or Whom–shall we fix our gaze? On Jesus!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer [author] and perfecter [finisher] of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

Abba, help us to keep our eyes fixed on You. When we gaze into Your face, we have Your attention; we receive Your love, joy and peace; we have hope, and access Your mercy and Your grace. Why would we ever want to look anywhere else?! Amen.

Proverbs 4 8-4-21

At the end of the day, all we have is Jesus. Beyond everything in this world, we have Him and His kingdom. He is worth everything!

10 Listen, my child, accept what I say, and the [good] years of your life will be many. 11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. 12 When you walk [headed to His kingdom], your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble [see Isaiah 40:30-31].

Drug users know this secret: What we crave becomes our sole desire. A crack user (according to a regular crack user) experiences his biggest high the first time. From then on, he “chases the dragon” seeking a high like the first one. That craving consumes him even beyond his own personal health, to say nothing of family, friends, job, hygiene, etc.

The same is what happens when we experience Christ. The difference is that the more we experience Him, the greater the love, the joy, and the peace that He gives. It truly is never-ending! James, the half-brother of Jesus, eluded to this experience in his letter:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 NLT

As I read this passage, I see James enduring troubles (eventually, he was martyred). During these troubles, as his faith was tested, he leaned on Jesus for peace and joy. He was rewarded with exceeding love, joy and peace. Thus, his endurance grew as James leaned all the more on Jesus during troubles. It is this kind of training that makes us perfect and complete, needing nothing of this world.

When we face trials of many kinds,
we will know that we have “arrived”

when those trials make us want Jesus.

It’s not that we will go looking for trouble, but we certainly will not run from it, for we know that in our adversity, as we lean on Jesus for peace and joy, He will give it in abundance. In fact, Jesus promised that we would receive life in abundance even as our physical life is being taken from us, “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness” (LB). He told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die [spiritually]. Do you believe this?” Of course, Martha said, “Yes, Lord” (John 11:25-27).

EMT, firefighters, police, military, and other emergency personnel train for emergencies constantly so that when one comes, their training kicks in and they respond out of reflex instead of irrational reaction. We should view our Christianity the same way. We need to learn all we can about God, His Son, His Spirit, His mission, and what His “emergency protocols” are so that when one comes, we are not “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6). It’s called, WISDOM, folks (James 1:5). Let’s train like our (spiritual) lives depend on it–because they do!

Because, at the end of the day, all we have is Jesus.

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power [and presence] of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Abba, may I come to know You more and more so that when the day comes that I give testimony about You at the cost of my life, I will do it with confidence and even excitement as Your Spirit envelops me with Your peace and Your love and Your joy. I look forward to the day, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 4 7-4-21

The word, “kingdom,” brings up visions of kings and of history. Are we part of a current kingdom?

7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. 8 Cherish her [wisdom], and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. 9 She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.

The United Kingdom is England plus northern Ireland. The United States is not a kingdom, but a republic. At the same time, it fits the historic description of a kingdom, but with a chosen ruler. We do not pledge allegiance to the president, but to the flag, which represents the republic of America. That republic is built upon the Constitution and is protected by the judicial branch of our government. Everyone in America answers to the Constitution in some way: most through obedience, but some through the disciplinary arm of the government.

We Christians, answer to the law of the land (Romans 13:1-7), but we answer to a higher King, the Lord Jesus. He came to establish His kingdom and to reign forever. Let’s look as some of the passages that talk about His kingdom:

32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:32-33

17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17

20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Luke 11:20

21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst [within you].” Luke 17:21

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” John 18:36

We know that God has made us His kingdom (Ephesians 2:19-21, 1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 5:9-10). We know that we reign in this world on a spiritual basis (Luke 10:17, John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11, Revelation 20:1-3). We triumph over Satan and his forces by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11). The rest of that verse says, “they did not love their [earthly] lives so much as to shrink from death.” We must never forget where our true and highest allegiance lies, which is to Jesus Christ and His kingdom.

How does that translate into our everyday lives?

  1. We must be connected and stay connected to King Jesus through prayer.
  2. We must find out all we can about His kingdom, how it works, and what it is like.
  3. We must store up treasures there rather than down here.
  4. We must be willing to do as Jesus asks.

This last one needs some explaining. If Jesus is in control of our lives, then we will be all about His mission. If the best witness to a person or persons is for us to give our time, resources, money, or even our lives, we will do it gladly. The best way for us to be in a position to do so is to be in a constant state of readiness to do just that. The only way to be ready is to be connected and stay connected to King Jesus through prayer–and now we are back to our list.

On this Independence Day, let’s make it our Dependence Day to our Lord Jesus Christ, along with every other day this year.

Abba, thank You for our country. May I love it and serve it, but may I never forget that Your kingdom takes precedence over it. May I be ready to serve You in whatever manner You deem best, knowing that my ultimate goal is to stand in Your presence whole, complete, blameless, and faultless. Wow! Now, that’s worth living for! Amen.

Proverbs 4 6-4-21

To have the Spirit of Christ is to have new life. How can we continue to live as though we don’t have Him inside us?

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter [in our hearts] till the full light of day [when we stand complete in His presence].

Sometimes, I think we take our relationship with Christ for granted. We tend to forget that the Spirit of the living Christ now lives in us. Doing things our way should be a thing of the past, or at least, as a way of life. Walking with the Spirit means that we rest in Him, listen for His voice, and follow His lead. The First Century Christians had only the spoken words of the apostles and teachers for the most part. They certainly didn’t have the New Testament right away, and then only circulated letters. What good was the Old Testament to them? Much! It told them who God is (Exodus 3:6, Numbers 14:18-19) and His plan for mankind (Ezekiel 36:25-27, Zechariah 3:9). The Psalms and Proverbs give instruction for daily living. There was PLENTY there for the new Christians to learn about serving the Lord.

But, the most important factor was the receiving of the Holy Spirit. With Jesus in them, they were taught first-hand about God and His plan for them. Add to that His continuous presence: the love, joy and peace that flow from Him to us, the hope that comes through His mercy and grace that are available to us at His throne anytime we need them (Hebrews 4:16), and the security of His Plan for each of us (Jeremiah 29:11) and the whole world (2 Peter 3:9, John 1:16).

Why is it such a big deal to walk in the Spirit rather than in the flesh? Let’s look at the flesh first. When Paul uses the term, “the flesh,” he is referring to our physical bodies, our natural person, the part of us that is not transformed by God, but is part of the original covenant and has been infected by sin. It represents us before we came to know Christ; we lived for ourselves and were slaves to sin and the one who deceived us into rebelling (Ephesians 2:1-3). To depend on our flesh, our own intellect and desires, is to deny the Spirit within us. Doing so leads to consequences, both natural and spiritual; let’s be wise and listen to the Spirit.

Speaking of which, let’s read what Paul says we should focus on:

in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. Romans 8:4-5

More on this tomorrow. For today, let’s focus on what the Spirit desires. Let’s turn to Him in our minds and ask Him to lead us–we will have to set aside our own plans and allow Him to reshape them; are we willing to do that? If we are not, then we are living according to “sarka,” which means “the flesh: apart from the Spirit.” To do so leads to destruction. Let’s not go there!

Abba, speak to us; convict our hearts. Let us feel Your presence in our lives and know Your love, joy and peace as we commit our way to You. Lead us and we will follow; direct us and we will obey. “Where else would we go? You have the words of life (John 6:68).” You are our Lord; be Lord of our lives. Amen.

Proverbs 4 5-4-21

Our connection to the LORD must be constantly renewed. Otherwise, we believe only what we see. There’s SO MUCH MORE!

Proverbs 4:20-22 (NIV)

My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.

The Holy Spirit helps us to reach out with an awareness of His Presence all around us. It’s interesting to me the movies that deal with this awareness, but in a worldly fashion.

Star Wars emphasizes the force that connects all living things, but doesn’t have a consciousness of its own. We, as Christians, know that Jesus is that consciousness and much, much more.

Hebrews 1:2-3 (NIV)

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Another movie that comes close is The Matrix where everyone is in beds and having their dreams controlled by sentient machines. The analogy is that there is a higher consciousness and reality, and some choose to rise above the dream-state while most people choose to continue in their dreams.

We can see how closely the analogy comes to describing Christianity. We live in a world that tries to convince us that this physical world is all there is, for instance, evolution. Jesus came to us through His Spirit and has invited us to come alive in Him and be born into the kingdom and family of God the Father,

Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV)

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

Let us praise our Heavenly Father for His wonderful grace! We are thankful for Him making us aware of Him and His kingdom—and then inviting us to be members of that kingdom!

Abba, we praise You today for the reality of heaven. Make us aware of Your presence around us and the kingdom that is all around us, as well. Give us spiritual eyes, Lord, and raise our awareness of all that is going on around us spiritually. We will watch for You. Amen.

Proverbs 4 4-4-21

It’s Resurrection Sunday! What will you do today to show your gratitude for all the Christ has done for us?

20 My child, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. 21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.

Imagine yourself leaving Jerusalem with a friend that Sunday morning. You didn’t go to the temple yesterday because you were afraid of the leaders and the mob. You two are talking about all that had happened over the past week and what could have been when you notice someone walking beside you. He asks, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” Your faces are downcast as you answer him with a question, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Evidently, he is, because he asks, “What things?” You answer with a short version about Jesus, the trial, the crucifixion, and the death of a dream. You even tell him about the women’s testimony about Jesus being alive, but the doubt is evident in your tone…

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:25-30

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem [seven miles!]. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

This is the account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Your part was Cleopas, who narrated the story. Even as Cleopas was telling their account, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” After some demonstrations that He was real, He brought everything together for them:

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” It’s a summary of what He told the two disciples in verse 27.

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high [the Holy Spirit].”

What a day that was! Since we were not there, we can only imagine what it must have been like to see Jesus in His resurrected form. What we CAN experience is that same “Power from on high,” the blessed Holy Spirit, who opens our minds so that we can understand the Scriptures. Tomorrow, we will delve into the ramifications of some of these Scriptures, but today, let’s enjoy the wonderful celebration of His resurrection.

Lord, we are grateful! We are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, the kind Peter talks about (1 Peter 1:8). May You be resurrected in our lives every day, Lord Jesus. May we be resurrected in Your love each day. Amen.

He is risen.
He is risen, indeed!

Proverbs 3 4-3-21

Does serving a risen Savior scare you a little? It should at least make us seriously consider anything He asks of us!

5 Trust the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

Tomorrow, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Yeshua Ha-Mashiach. Let’s read it:

Jesus Has Risen

28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Matthew 28:1-8

There are several points that come into play concerning the resurrection of Jesus.

How are we at following directions? How well do we listen to the Holy Spirit? Do we always reserve final judgement on any orders we are given? I call that attitude, “Selective Service.” Not Good. It’s a whole lot like putting your hand to the plow and then looking back at your old life where you did things your way. Jesus said that such a person is unfit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). Also, delayed obedience is disobedience. We would do well to remember that we serve a RISEN Savior, one who beat death! He is our Sovereign Lord. He deserves our undying gratitude and our unquestioning servitude.

  1. Each gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) has a version of the event. Illustration: in a bank robbery, the detective might ask several people if there was a get-away car. Each person might describe a vehicle in a number of colors, makes and models, and even types of vehicle. The conclusion the detective draws is that there WAS a get-away car because no one said there wasn’t; they all described something. In this case, there were several points of view: Mary Magdalene, the group of ladies, and Peter and John. What was the conclusion that a detective might draw? That there WAS a resurrection!
  2. In reading the other gospels, there was one angel who was sitting on the stone; there was an angel in the tomb; there were two angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where Jesus had been laid. Here again, what’s the conclusion? There WAS at least one angel!
  3. The first day of the week actually begins on Saturday evening as the sun goes below the horizon. Jesus rose sometime in the night. The angel didn’t roll the stone away until the ladies got there. Of course, He wasn’t there; He had risen!
  4. The angel said that Jesus would go ahead of them to Galilee and for the ladies to tell the disciples to join Him there. They didn’t. In fact, Jesus showed up that night in their meeting room! Then, He did it again the next week! THEN, the disciples went to Galilee.
  5. Key in on the ladies’ emotions: “Afraid yet filled with joy.” When we think of the resurrection, what emotions are stirred in us? The mystery might be unsettling–how does one explain the unexplainable? The ramifications are astounding–He really IS God! He really IS the Passover Lamb! We really ARE free in Christ!

Abba, You are our King. May we, who have never lived under an earthly king, grasp the magnitude of Your call on our lives. We have given You our hearts, but we must also give You our lives to be lived as You see fit. Make us fit for the kingdom, Lord. Whip us into shape. Trim our fat and tone our spiritual muscles. May we answer immediately when You call on us even as Moses did, “Here I am” (Exodus 3:4), as Samuel did, “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10), and as Jesus did, “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees His Father doing” (John 5:19). May we see You at work and join You in Your work. Amen.

Proverbs 4 3-4-21

Matthew was a Jew. Through what lens did he view Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount? I’ll bet it’s different than our view!

25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. 26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.

A devout Jew kept several things in mind. One was that he was part of God’s chosen people and was called to be separate from the nations. He could expect other nations, especially the ruling nations, to despise him and treat him with contempt. Another was that the temple was the center of worship. Everything revolved around the temple. Still another was the Law. Being a devout Jew required living by the Law, even the extra laws that the Jewish leaders imposed on the people.

Jesus came to fix a broken system. The Law itself wasn’t broken; it was designed to show us our sin (Romans 3:20). It was the system that was superimposed by the leadership that was broken. In fact, He came to fulfill the Law so that we could move beyond laws to love (Matthew 5:17-18). Jesus explained the Law according to how God intended it to be. Let’s look at Matthew, chapter five:

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

This sermon came early in His ministry. He already had disciples and He taught them, but everyone was welcome to listen.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The word for “poor” means “beggar.” Any self-respecting Jew would be offended by this statement. Those who saw with spiritual eyes would see that there is no way for the blood of bulls and rams to wash away sin. The Jews needed Messiah!

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

The nation of Israel was a vassal state to Rome. They longed for their freedom and independence. Jesus’ promise gave them hope, but not the kind that He intended.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

They knew that they were promised that Messiah would redeem the land that was taken from them. Jesus promised much more! The meek part would have been confusing to them. They wanted to fight!

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Generally speaking, every Jew hungered for the Law and the righteousness that came from following it. The problem was that no one could keep the Law perfectly and they were therefore condemned by it. How could they hunger and thirst for a righteousness that could not be attained? Yet, Jesus promised that those who did would be satisfied as in filled to the full. He said that He had come to give life in abundance, or, to the full. Their interest was piqued!

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

This one I’ll bet would have grated on them. They had not been shown mercy, so why should they show mercy?

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Here, again, is another impossibility. Yet, Christ promises that they will see God if they are pure in heart. The Law could not achieve a pure heart; how was He going to accomplish this task? Was He speaking for God?

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Again, Jesus calls them to seek peace rather than war. Many would be for peace, but many would be for war.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Jews were familiar with persecution because of their religious beliefs. The difference comes in His definition of righteousness: HE is righteousness. HE offers them the kingdom of heaven. He IS the kingdom!

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Here, Jesus gets specific and points all persecution His way. People would assume by His statement that those who oppose Him would persecute Him and his followers. Jesus promises great reward in heaven. In order to fulfill this promise, He had to be Messiah! Many put their faith and trust in Him. Why? Because He called them. He called us, too. Jesus referred to the prophets who were persecuted. He even made a sarcastic remark about no prophet being allowed to die outside of Jerusalem (Luke 13:33). Most Jews knew about the prophets, so they would certainly get the reference. Understanding it was another matter.

As we can see, the Jews had a frame of reference for every statement that Jesus made. Tomorrow, we will delve into the passages on salt and light, and the fulfillment of the Law. “I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

Abba, as we study the Scriptures, may You open our minds to what Christ was talking about to His fellow Israelites. Knowing the context helps us to interpret their meaning for our day and our circumstances. Grow us, Lord. We hunger and thirst after righteousness, Your righteousness. Make us pure in heart, O God. Amen.

Proverbs 4 2-4-21

Our anger needs to move us to prayer; we ask God to intervene in us and in the situation.

23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

The protection of our hearts is paramount to godly thoughts and actions. Our inner motivation comes from our thoughts being run through the filter of our hearts. The problem is that our hearts are deceitful and beyond cure (Jeremiah 17:9). We need another filter, one that we can run our thoughts and feelings through as they come out of our hearts. It is….prayer.

You thought I was going to say the Word of God, didn’t you? Actually, God’s Word was given to us so that we can learn how to talk to Him. We learn about Him by reading what He has revealed to us. We can even pray His words back to Him. God’s Word is alive with His Spirit. We are to run to Him in prayer and His Word to know what to do with everything that comes out of our hearts.

Speaking of which, I was asked the other day if Christians could have righteous anger. My reply was based upon James 1:19-21,

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of [reject] all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

We get angry. That’s a fact and inevitability. What we do with that anger is crucial. God wants us to come to Him with that anger. In fact, we are to leave all judgment and wrath to Him (Romans 12:19-20). Instead, we are to humbly accept the Word planted in us through daily reading, study, pondering, and conversation with God as well as other believers. We will find that God wants us to show compassion to people—this does not mean that we are to lie down and let them walk on us. It simply means that we pray for them and seek to show Christ to them even while doling out consequences if that is our job. We should try to help them see the truth about their bad choices.

Even persecution is to be treated this way, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Romans 12:14. It is how we can break through the walls of division and shine our lights.

Today, let’s let everything that comes our way take us to the throne of Grace “with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16.

Abba, today promises to be weird as Robin and I take care of her parents after her dad’s surgery. May we have patient endurance and place their needs above our own. May we keep happy spirits and cheerfully serve as needed. May we treat each other with love and respect, each considering the other above and before himself. May we be Truth in action, Lord, allowing every trial to take us to Your throne for some of that mercy and Grace! Amen.

Proverbs 4 1-4-21

What divides us ultimately separates us. Let’s focus on what we have in common as Christians.

24 Keep your mouth free of perversity [that which is contrary to Christ’s nature and commands]; keep corrupt talk [topics said in ways that are not godly, i.e. derogatory remarks, defaming character; blustering] far from your lips.

Yeshua (Jesus) intends for us to be one even as He and the Father are one; in fact, He said that our unity is how the world will know God’s love (John 17:20-23). That’s a pretty tall order! It’s going to require some coordination–but, I know just the Person to do it: the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16, Ephesians 4:3-4). Here’s what we need to remember:

I used to think that hate was the opposite of love. Then, I moved up to thinking apathy was the opposite of love. Now, I’m beginning to understand that FEAR is the opposite of love. Knowing that God loves me, that I am an eternal being, a child of the Light, and that Christ is in me and I am hidden in Christ helps me to understand that fear is doubting any of these biblical truths. Fear of pain, fear of rejection, fear of people, fear of loss, fear of hunger or security or relationships, and even fear of death are reactions to any doubts I have about who and Whose I am. So, who am I? WHOSE am I?

  • I am a child of the King of the Universe. I am an eternal being created to be LIKE Christ IN Christ. I have been rescued from fear and darkness and brought into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). I am Christ to all around me–His light, His fragrance, His aroma, Him!
  • I am God’s. As His possession and child, I am His to do with as He pleases. The neat–and comforting–thing is that I know I am of great worth to Him, therefore, I can trust Him to have my best–and eternal–interests in mind. Worth is established by what a person is willing to pay to get it. The Father gave the Son so that He could have ME. He did for you, too, and this is why we can trust Him: We are of the greatest worth to Him.
  • The Spirit connects us. We all talk to the same Spirit, and He guides us with His counsel (Psalm 73:23-24, John 16:13). When we get together to worship, His Spirit in me connects with His Spirit in you and forms a bond that goes beyond natural bounds. It’s why we are commanded to meet together regularly, even if it’s just two or three at a time (Matthew 18:20).

Rather than focusing on topics that divide us, let’s focus on what unites us. In doing so, we make His joy complete in us.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit [full accord] and of one mind. Philippians 2:1-2

We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. 1 John 1:3-4

Abba, You know my heart. I want what You want. I have asked, and Your Spirit has been changing my perspective. Even so, I have a hard time maintaining this new perspective. Help me, O LORD, to untether myself from the things of this earth and to set my eyes on Your Prize, which is a place at Your feet. Help us be united in Your love, Father. I know it’s important. Amen.

Proverbs 4 12-4-20

A wasted relationship–that’s what we have when we trust Christ for salvation, but then live our lives as if He is not in us. We have forfeited all the benefits of knowing Christ: The joy of His continuous presence, His boundless love and peace that emanate from Him, His wise counsel and leadership, our growth and usefulness to the kingdom, not to mention all the bonuses of deep friendships and experiences that we miss out on because we are not in step with the Spirit.

1 Listen, my children, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. 2 I give sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.
5 Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.
18 The path of the righteous [when walking with the Savior] is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.

How often do we remind ourselves that we are sojourners on this planet? It is no longer our permanent home, nor are the things of this world our permanent goals. Jesus Christ is our LORD and Master. He is our Messiah, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach. We are preparing for His kingdom, not this one, even as His kingdom grows within us and links us to His kingdom in other Christians.

Jesus gave a parable in Luke 16 about the shrewd manager who was caught being “unwise” with his master’s finances. All of the wealth that was at his disposal was no longer going to be available to him. So, he called in his master’s debtors (those who owed him money) and lowered their debts so that they would welcome him and give him a job when his master fired him. Jesus commended the manager because he changed his viewpoint concerning that wealth from a goal to a means. This lesson is one that He would have us learn for everything from our jobs to our free time, from our necessities to our niceties. Everything must go on the table to be used as the LORD asks us to use them. To hold onto them as our end goal will tarnish them and we will miss the blessing and the reason with which we were entrusted with them.

Do you trust the LORD that much? Could you do it? Thankfully, our LORD is patient and kind, full of mercy and grace. He wants to walk with us and counsel us. He will show us what to do and give us the desire and the power to do it. But, the first thing we must do is commit ourselves to Him RIGHT NOW. Don’t wait. Do it now. Then, get in His Word and listen for His voice. If you read Luke 16, pay close attention to verses 10-15. It’s important.

Ponder this passage as you go about your day:

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. Galatians 5:24-25

I reckon the question is, do you belong to Christ Jesus? Then, get with it! Let’s not waste our relationship with Him.

Abba, You know that crucifying my flesh with its passions and desires isn’t easy and that I fight it all the time. Thank You for Your Spirit who encourages me, consoles me, empowers me, and helps me try again and again. I know that I am in training. May I, after I have “preached” to others, not be disqualified for the prize (1 Corinthians 9:27). May I be personally diligent in all matters WITH YOUR HELP AND GUIDANCE. Amen.

Proverbs 4 11-4-20

If there’s one thing I have learned through the years, it’s that God has a plan that cannot be thwarted. Trust in it. In Him.

26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Here is Luke’s description of the time of John the Baptist and, thus, Jesus’ ministry, “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar–when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene–during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.” Luke 3:1-2 That’s a pretty specific description. When plugged into the historical records, the best that the historians can tell is that it was sometime during 26 A.D.

Why go to so much trouble to get it right? Because, “When the set time had come (in the fullness of time), God sent His Son [Jesus Christ], born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law [us], that we might receive adoption to sonship.” Galatians 4:4-5. This is the redemption of the eternal covenant! It began with Abraham and was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He offers to all His redemption through adoption into God’s family. The hard part is that in order to be adopted into God’s family, a person has to relinquish all rights and privileges of his former life, even Jews. It’s not that they become non-Jews; it’s that they become a new creation in Christ.

If any person is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, and, behold, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

His (Christ’s) purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. Ephesians 2:15b-16

In Christ, we are now all “fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household…” Ephesians 2:19.

Here’s the point: If God is so specific about the birth and ministry of His Son, we can count on Him being specific about our lives and the future of His church, His Bride. Whoever wins the election, we can trust God to give us everything we need to do His will. Making His will our priority may be what He’s up to with this election! Consider it.

Abba, I want to be all about Your will and ministry. Help me to set aside my preferences and feelings and be about my Father’s business–Your business. I want my life to count for You, LORD Jesus. Let’s work together to make it so. Amen.

Proverbs 4 10-4-20

Pray like you’ve never prayed before. Our nation is on a precipice. We have the blood of millions on our hands. As God did with Israel because of the blood of their children they had sacrificed to idols, God will judge our nation because of children sacrificed to the god of convenience.

14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
    or walk in the way of evildoers.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
    turn from it and go on your way.
16 For they cannot rest until they do evil;
    they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.

31 They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire—something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind. Jeremiah 7:31

God will be calling us to pray. He will remind us often. When we think about praying for someone in particular, our leaders, and/or our nation, we must remember that His voice sounds like our voice in our heads. The fact that we thought of it is Him reminding us.

Also, God will not ask us to pray unless He is working. He is inviting us to join Him in His work. But, there’s a catch: We must be righteous in order to pray with power,

1Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:13-16

Our nation is sick, sick with the blood of children, with hatred and bigotry, with immorality and licentiousness, and with complacency. Let us pray for ourselves; let us confess our sins to one another. Let’s intercede for our leaders, especially those who are not in God’s will. Let’s pray for our nation that we would turn back to God before it requires something drastic–again–to get our attention.

James gave us the procedure for repentance in chapter 4:

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-10

We are not in a good place with our nation, nor are we in a happy time in our country. Pray that the pandemic would ease. Pray for our president that he recover. Pray that every leader would feel the conviction of God and repent. Pray that every member of Brookwood would feel that same conviction and repent! I pray that every reader of this post would feel His conviction and repent, as well.

It’s not too late for America, but it may be close. 40-60 million lives requires a lot of repenting! God takes those lives seriously. We had better, too!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would have their spiritual eyes opened to the truth of Your justice, but also Your love and mercy. May You move mightily and help us to rid America of our Topheth, LORD. May You move in Your mighty power, in a way that we will stand in awe of Your mighty deeds. Call us to national repentance, Abba, just as soon as we take care of our personal repentance. Amen.

Proverbs 4 9-4-20

Deciding to follow Christ–from that first time until now, it is a conscious, determined decision. Emotions are fickle.

1 Listen, pay attention…4 Take hold of my words, keep my commands…5 Get wisdom, get understanding, do not forget or turn away…6 do not forsake, love her [wisdom]…7 get wisdom, get understanding…8 cherish her, embrace her…13 hold on, guard it well…15avoid the evil path…20 turn your ear…21 do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart…23 guard your heart…24 keep your mouth from corrupt talk…25 look straight ahead, fix your gaze…26 give careful thought, be steadfast…27 do not turn, keep your foot from evil.

Did you notice how many decisions are made in this chapter? 31 (2 are repeated). Yes, we feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we feel relief and gratefulness when we come to Him, we receive His love, joy and peace, hope and grace–many times, with tears and shouts of thanksgiving! But, we should never equate tears and emotions with salvation. True salvation is that conscious, determined decision to follow Christ, to open our lives to His Lordship and leadership. It is a transaction, much like a marriage.

When I married Robin, we had a beautiful ceremony in Ardmore, Oklahoma, with many friends and relatives attending. It was a joyous occasion. But, it wasn’t until Dr. Hopper, Robin and I filled out and signed the marriage license that we were officially married according to the state of Oklahoma. The same is true with Jesus. He stands at the threshold of our hearts waiting for us to give Him the deed to our house and the key to every room. It doesn’t matter how happy we are that we “threw open the door for Him.” It only matters if He steps inside, because once He does, it means that He has taken possession of our “house” and everything in it. The rest is just a matter of settling in.

When it comes to sanctification (becoming like Jesus daily), it means that every day we renew the marriage license. It doesn’t go bad or lose its power; it is a reminder of Whose we are and Who calls the shots. We must remember that, “we are crucified with Christ and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. This life we live in the body we live by faith in the Son of God, who loves us and gave Himself for us.” Galatians 2:20. The next verse tells us why, “We do not set aside the grace of God, because if righteousness could be obtained by the law, then Christ died for nothing.” In other words, if we could be saved by good works, following the law, or by any other means, then Christ didn’t have to die on the cross for our sins. But, as He said, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Matthew 26:39, 42

Let’s determine in our hearts and in our minds to be like Christ, to allow the Holy Spirit to change us and make us into His image. There are parts of us that will resist, but we will be tenacious and strong-willed in the right sense. We die to ourselves and live for Christ.

Abba, may today be one of complete and total submission to You and Your Spirit. May we look at the life of Christ and emulate Him. May You build in us His characteristics of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. May we speak truth and life to those around us. Help us to be all that we can be in You, Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 4 8-4-20

It’s not about the prayer; it’s about submission. I repeat: It’s not about the prayer; it’s about submission.

20 My child, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast [deliberate, stubborn in doing right] in all your ways.
3:6 In all your ways submit to Him, and He will direct your paths.

There comes a time when every one of us must decide if Jesus is really worth following. If He is, then everything in this world becomes a tool in the Master’s hands; everything goes on the table for His use. If we don’t put it on the table, it becomes a hindrance and an encumbrance, a stumbling block that gets in our way, and a ball and chain that we drag around. Are we willing to give up our little “golden calves” (a reference to the golden calf that Aaron made for the Israelites at Mount Sinai; see Exodus 32)?

When talking to people about Christ, we must be careful not to mislead them. Asking Christ into their hearts is good, but not without the understanding that He wants their lives. There must be a willing submission of their lives to Him before He will enter and take over. It’s like swinging the door open wide and saying, “Come on in, Jesus!” He then stands at the threshold of their heart’s door smiling, with His hand out, waiting for them to give Him the deed to their house and the master key to every room in it. Until they are willing to give Him their lives, die to self, and allow Him to live through them, then He will NOT step across the threshold. IT’S THAT IMPORTANT.

Jesus had taken His disciples to Caesarea Philippi, which was a demonic worship center. He then asked the disciples who people said He was. They replied: John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. When He asked them, “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). From that time on, He set His face toward Jerusalem to die on the cross. He even told His disciples what was going to happen (Matthew 16:21). The disciples didn’t take it very well. Peter even rebuked Jesus! The LORD set Him straight:

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

If we are not willing to give up our “human concerns,” then Christ considers us an enemy of the cross. There can be no salvation. Once we are saved, the question still comes up every morning, but it doesn’t affect our position in Him. What it DOES affect is our fellowship with Him and how well we hear and heed His voice and direction. We would do well to live by this verse:

20 I have been crucified with Christ (daily) and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

May we take to heart the very things we preach. “Christ in us; the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) means that we have given Jesus everything. We have “thrown off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us” (Hebrews 12:1). Jesus IS our ONLY HOPE.

Abba, Jesus is my only hope. I have placed my whole life in His hands. Jesus, You are my LORD, my Master, and my only hope. I trust in nothing else for my satisfaction, my fulfillment, and my happiness. I am satisfied in You and content in any circumstance. My “money” is on Your eternal life in Your country, which is beyond the borders of this world. Keep me from becoming entangled with the things of this world, LORD. I submit to You and Your will for my life. I want to live for You. In the power of Your Spirit who lives in me, I will! Amen.

Proverbs 4 7-4-20

What better gift to give America than REVIVAL?  She has seen several before; why not again? Let us PRAY FOR REVIVAL!

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
    shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
    they do not know what makes them stumble.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.

Picking up where we left off yesterday, God “is looking for a few good men”–and women, “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.

If the Spirit were to fall on Brookwood this Sunday, would you be a willing party to it? We must consider the ramifications of revival in our lives. We are talking a changed perspective, here. Any plans that we may have had go out the window as He takes charge of the room–and our lives. Are you good with that?

Why not begin to orient your life to receive “the fire of the Holy Spirit” now? We can:

  1. Increase our time of Bible study and prayer. Ask God to call you to this time with Him. We cannot generate this desire on our own–but I KNOW that Jesus desires us to desire Him, and the Holy Spirit wants to, as well. As the Spirit takes control of us, we begin to desire what He desires, which is time fellowshipping with Christ. It really is that simple. Allow Him to give you His desires.
  2. Re-arrange our priorities, even to the point of suspending some things indefinitely. What is it in your life that if you gave it up for a season, it would free you up for more personal time with the LORD? THAT’S what I would start with.
  3. Begin to talk about revival with others.
    1. Could it come as it has before?
    2. Would we be ready for it or would it catch us off-guard?
    3. Would we like to be ready for it, or are we content with the way things are?
  4. Take on the attitude of determination: Meet, pray, sing, pray, cry out to God, teach, pray, admonish, pray, exhort, beg the Father to send His fire down upon us to move, to stir, to awaken the spiritually sleeping and raise the spiritually dead, to show signs and wonders, to send dreams and visions, and to break down cultural barriers, financial barriers and “racial” barriers.

Revival is serious business. It is heaven on earth. Jesus taught His disciples to pray for revival“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). B.B. McKinney wrote a beautiful hymn about revival:

Send a revival O Christ my Lord
Let it go over the land and sea
Send it according to Thy dear Word
And let it begin in me

Lord send a revival
Lord send a revival
Lord send a revival
And let it begin in me

Send a revival among Thine own
Help us to turn from our sins away
Let us get nearer the Father’s throne
Revive us again we pray – Chorus

Send a revival to those in sin
Help them, O Jesus, to turn to Thee
Let them the new life in Thee begin
Oh give them the victory – Chorus

Send a revival in every heart
Draw the world nearer O Lord to Thee
Let the salvation true joy impart
And let it begin in me – chorus

Revival is the BLESSING of God, which is His presence with and in us: “Immanuel” (God with us).  Included in revival is the HOPE of God, which is what He has in store for us! Let’s get our eyes off this world and back on the Savior.

LORD, may I be first to take my own words to heart. Just writing this post took considerable effort. Thank You for calling me to do it, for empowering me to do it, and for encouraging me to actually sit down and do it! May my readers be encouraged to do the same as they consider spending more time with You. Amen.

Proverbs 4 6-4-20

Here is the second half of #9 of the Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say

See Critique

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?

24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips. [Jesus is coming soon]
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you. [Jesus is coming soon]
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways. [Jesus is coming soon]
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil. [Jesus is coming soon]

#9 Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready? Part 2

Yesterday, I made the statement that mankind will not know the hour, day, or year when Jesus is coming back, but we can know the season. Today, we look at His actual coming.

The best verses are in Revelation 19 where John describes the Second Coming:

9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of kings and Lord of lords.

19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

Let’s break it down:

  1. The doors to heaven were standing open.
  2. Jesus was on a white horse as opposed to the donkey He rode into Jerusalem.
  3. His names are Faithful and True, the Word of God, King of kings and Lord of lords, plus there is a name that only He knows!
  4. His robe is dipped in blood–whose blood, it doesn’t say. It could be His; it could be His enemies’.
  5. The many crowns represent His sovereignty over all kingdoms.
  6. We are with Him! We are dressed in white (the big tell), and we don’t have weapons–we don’t need them. Jesus strikes down His enemies with the sword of His mouth. How? The same way He created the universe with His words. He will pronounce words of judgement and voila! Done.
  7. The beast and the false prophet are cast into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 

If we were to keep reading, it just gets better and better!

There are other clues to the imminent return of Christ:

  1. One world currency
  2. The mark of the beast
  3. Worldwide communication
  4. Treaties and kingdom coalitions

These we all have now. What we DON’T have is a peace treaty between Israel and her surrounding countries. Clinton tried it in 2000, but failed. President Trump initiated a peace plan in 2017 that is still underway. PEACE. That peace plan may be the very thing that allows Israel to build her temple.

How shall we prepare? Peter tells us how:

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.

14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation… 2 Peter 3:11-12, 14-15

Solomon said it best, though, when it comes to evangelism:

10 If you falter in a time of trouble [don’t look back], how small is your strength [weak is your faith, double-minded is your heart]! 11 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37-38). Let’s BE THOSE HARVESTERS!

One more thing: Each year, I get really excited when Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) rolls around. Why? I’m glad you asked! Jesus fulfilled four of the seven Jewish festivals, which, by the way, were instituted by God, with His death (Passover and Unleavened Bread), resurrection (First Fruits), and the coming of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost). If He did it with the first four, I believe that He will fulfill the last three just as literally. The New Year is begun with the Feast of Trumpets, then 10 days later is the Day of Atonement, and then the Feast of Tabernacles/Ingathering. These easily translate into The Return, The Judgement, and Heaven. We may not know the day, hour, or year, but we CAN know the season! This year, Rosh Hashanah is Friday, September 18 through Sunday, September 20 (the trumpet can be blown anytime during these days). It seems a bit early according to other prophecies, but–who knows? Christ may surprise us all!

I believe that God is preparing His church for a final push; whether it’s global revival or gleanings, I don’t know. I believe that He is training me for something specific. He has not revealed it to me, and probably won’t until it’s time or close to time to do whatever it is for which He is training me. In the meantime, I am staying close to Him with my eyes fixed on Him; I am writing down everything He is saying to me, and trying to memorize as much Scripture as I can. I am trying to whittle down my testimony and the Gospel presentation to their essential points so that I can share them quickly and concisely. And, I am praying for God’s Spirit to move in your heart and all who read my posts along with those who meet with me for prayer each Wednesday morning.

What is God calling you to do to prepare for what is coming?

Abba, I pray that You will impress upon the hearts of Your children what it is that You want us to do, whether it’s to get up earlier and read more in Your Word, to make lists of people and pray for them, or to talk to our neighbors, coworkers, and even random people to find out what their spiritual needs are–and then to meet them. May we all make ourselves available to You for WHATEVER You have for us to do. We are Yours. Do with us as You will. Amen.

Proverbs 4 5-4-20

Dying to self and living for Christ is what Christianity is all about. If we want heaven on earth, we need Christ living in us.

26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.

Sometimes, the Monday morning blahs get us. It’s hard to move beyond our feelings. This is the time when all of our Bible study comes in handy as we remember that this world is not our home (yet), Jesus is the Leader of our lives, and our feelings can’t be trusted. Today’s chapter tells us to “guard our hearts above all else [keep them on a short leash], for everything we do flows out of it.” v23. In other words, our hearts act as amplifiers for our feelings; we tend to act out of our feelings; therefore, our hearts guide our actions–when it doesn’t really do any thinking! Instead of following our hearts (and our feelings), let’s base our actions on what we know to be true according to the Word of God.


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

Christ died for all so that through Him, we might die to these bodies of sin and be raised to walk in newness of life with him. We owe Him our lives, therefore, we do not live for ourselves anymore, but for Him.


16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way [as just a man], we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new is here! 

To live for Christ is to have His attitude and His mission. As we regard Christ, we find that He has awakened our Spirits from the dead and we CAN! We no longer think the way we used to. When we look at our sinful lives and are repulsed by them, we can be sure that it is the Spirit in us that has given us this point of view. Therefore, we take on Christ’s continued mission.


18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

This appeal is our ministry, our goal, and our task. The confusing part is that God allows us to be put in interesting-if not extreme- circumstances for our lights to shine. Evidently, we shine best in the face of hardship, sickness, and persecution. Paul is a shining example of these.


15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name. Acts 9:15-16

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

When we walk through hard times, whether financially, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, we can trust the Lord that He is putting us on display for others to watch. How we respond/react to our circumstances reveals how much of today’s lesson we have learned. Do we step back and realize that God has a purpose for what we are going through or do we try to get back to our normal as quickly as possible? Do we give thanks in all things, or do we complain and throw a pity party? Holding a tight rein on our hearts is imperative as we go to the Father and receive from His hand our daily bread. Let’s take Paul’s perspective on his circumstances.


We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves [put ourselves on display] in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 2 Corinthians 6:3-5, 8-10

The Quarantine has been good for us spiritually on several levels. Let’s continue the good work that the Holy Spirit is doing in us. Let’s give thanks, endure hardship with patient faith, and display Christ in our lives at every turn.

Abba, may I follow my own advice. Move in my heart today. Amen.

LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. Isaiah 33:2

Proverbs 4 4-4-20

What are you willing to do to know that God is real? To sense His Presence? To feel His love and approval? Anything? Everything?

7 Though it cost you all you have…

Adam and Eve* were perfect. They had only one “temptation” to avoid, which really wasn’t a temptation until the serpent brought it to their attention. Their eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil doomed us to lives of misery. Why? Because we have the knowledge, but lack self-control. We have no power to go against the feelings that temptation brings and to choose righteously.

What we need is for God to come and live in our hearts, to tell us what is right and what is destructive, and to empower us to choose good over evil. WAIT!!! THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT JESUS ACCOMPLISHED WITH THE CROSS/GRAVE/RESURRECTION! His Presence in our lives is where we get our close communication, our sweet communion, with Him. It’s where we feel His love and approval; His Presence brings joy, peace and hope. We relish His mercy and His grace. Spending time recognizing His Presence in our hearts and lives makes us more and more like Him: humble, gentle, patient, kind, faithful, fair, righteous, and holy. It is THIS relationship that makes being a Christian worth it!

If you’ve never had it before, that close relationship with Jesus Christ, that sweetness of fellowship that comes from having Him in your heart, I urge you to give your life to Him today. Ask Him to convict you of sin–you’re probably going, “WHY?” His Presence in our lives is felt most when we feel the conviction of sin: the things in our lives that are destroying us and those around us (relationally if not literally). It is His conviction that prompts us to act when He wants us to; His conviction empowers us to choose rightly. But, it all begins with the conviction of present sin in our lives. Respond to His conviction; it is His way of loving you! Ask Jesus to come, live in your heart, forgive you of all your sin, and to rule and reign as LORD and King in your life. You’ll never regret it!

If you have, but it’s been a while, He is just a prayer away. In fact, knowing His peace–feeling it and understanding it–comes from being in His Presence. But, we cannot come to Him just any old way; we must come as He dictates. He is holy, therefore, we must come to Him wholly (get it?). We must climb up on the altar and die to ourselves in order to get to His lap, so to speak. In doing so, He pours on us His Pleasure! Know this: We must determine in our hearts to live for Him from now on; He knows when we are holding back. The man prayed, “I believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” Mark 9:24. It’s all part of the conviction we feel from the Spirit. We must learn to sense it, obey it, and live by it. Then all the things that come with salvation we enjoy every time we come to Him.

If you want to have it everyday, then come to Him the same way we did that first time: completely, wholly, and with abandon. The neat part is that the more often we do it, the easier it gets, the more rewarding it gets, and the more real it gets! Spending time with Him is as easy as turning around in our minds. It’s what is meant by “transforming our minds” in Romans 12:2, “the renewal of our minds” in Ephesians 4:23, and the “clothing of ourselves with the LORD Jesus Christ” in Romans 13:14. You may have noticed that I used three verses from the Bible; the Bible is where we learn to turn to Him, HOW to turn to Him, and WHY we need to turn to Him everyday, every hour–continuously.

May we use this “down time” to fire up our prayer life and Bible study. Answer His call to join Him. Don’t be afraid of conviction, because it’s how He communicates His desires to us. Look for it; ask for it; recognize it as His Participation in our lives.

Abba, I praise You for Your conviction in my heart and life. I recognize it as Your way of warning me, calling me, and empowering me to do Your will–WITH You and NOT for You. As I read Your Word and as I turn to You as often as I recognize Your voice of conviction, may I get better and better at it, and faster and faster at turning to You. When I do turn to You, You become SO REAL in my life! I’m addicted, LORD. I want MORE of You (I realize I have ALL of You in my heart, but I want to know and access as much of You as I can). Make it so today, LORD Jesus, Yeshua Ha’Machiach. Amen.

*Adam and Eve were real people who lived in a real Garden of Eden. They walked and talked with God, and were the Parents of all humanity. We’re looking at about 6500 years ago. Don’t believe me? Let’s talk.

Proverbs 4 3-4-20

Why read a chapter of Proverbs every day? Because the Spirit wants to speak to us and impart wisdom to us.

20 My son [child], pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
    keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.

If we were to consider these verses as an intro into the next few verses, we would get an entirely different impression about the author’s intent. The nuggets of wisdom are not random; they have a rationale that we would do well to consider.

23 Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.

How do we guard our hearts? The previous verses tell us to pay attention and do what God tells us either in His Word or in our spirits. He is King there, so protect the throne!

24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

How do we guard our mouths? By paying attention to what we say. We KNOW when we are about to say something derogatory, slanderous, callous, dirty, or ungodly (something God would not say or approve). May we always remember that our arrogance in disregarding God is telling us to do leads to rebellion, which leads to disobedience, which leads to destruction.

25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.

How do we guard our eyes? We must predetermine what we will intentionally look at and and NOT look at. We must also predetermine what we will do with sights that we unintentionally see. Looking away as quickly as we can is the first thing; the second thing is turning our thoughts to the LORD and asking for help. We cannot unsee it, but He can mitigate its effects on our minds.

26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.

How do we guard where we go? Again, predetermination and intention play big roles in our destination. We must decide where we want to be and how we want to get there. As Christians, we have these verses to guide us:

19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, Galatians 4:19

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1b-2a

24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

Last verse of the chapter:

27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

How do we guard our steps? This answer is simple, but not easy to do. We are to follow the Savior by walking in step with Him. He will show us only a few steps at a time–sometimes, only ONE step at a time–as He leads us toward the Celestial City. Consider these verses:

25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you [in other words, don’t concern yourself with someone else’s walk]? You must follow me.” John 21:22

Today, let’s answer His call to follow Him–closely. Let’s keep in step with Him as He leads us onward and upward (higher up and further in).

Abba, may I focus on You today. I want to be aware of Your presence and hear Your voice whispering to me all the time. Sometimes You are instructing me what to say/not say; other times You are giving me discernment or insight; still other times you are simply encouraging my spirit. May I become more and more attuned to Your voice and the nuances of Your Spirit’s moving in my life and in the world around me. Make me AWARE, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 4 2-4-20

We must be careful not to make our salvation all about us because it’s really all about Him. He is our all in all.

26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.

Get wisdom, get understanding;
    do not forget my words or turn away from them.

Our Salvation is due to His sacrifice. He deemed us worthy to be saved, therefore we have  incredible worth- the blood of our God! Salvation came to us not when we said a prayer, but when we recognized His great gift of salvation through His blood and responded by bowing our head and knee. It’s for His glory that we are saved, not our happiness. King David said,

Not to us, Lord, not to us
    but to your name be the glory,
    because of your love and faithfulness. Psalm 115:1

The story of His great sacrifice is given in Philippians 2. Let’s read it:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge [confess] that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.


Through our salvation, we have given Him our lives for Him to use as He wishes. We have died to ourselves and now live for Him, with Him living through us (Galatians 2:20). If He asks us to suffer for His glory, do we need to understand why in order to submit? NO! Dead people don’t have opinions, nor do they make decisions about what is fair. If we want fair, we have only look at our lives and see that fairness would gain us hell!

When we gave our lives to Jesus Christ, we did so because He is worthy. We join in the song that is being sung around His throne in Heaven right now:

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
    and honor and glory and praise!” Rev. 5:12

Our happiness is founded and sealed in knowing Christ and having His Spirit in our hearts and lives. Anything else good that happens to us is gravy. God is continuously putting us in places for our lights to shine. I personally think that He puts us in place for even one person! Even as Moses was arguing with God about not being His spokesman, God already had Aaron on the way to meet him (Ex. 4:14).

Our satisfaction comes from knowing that we are being of use to Christ. Any good things that we experience are secondary to our primary function: Being available for His purposes. The neat part comes from knowing that being in His presence brings us overflowing peace, joy, hope,  grace, and a true sense of His love for us. We also have this promise from Him:

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. John 17:24

So, what do we say to growing old? To His glory! What do we say to cancer? To His glory! Persecution? To His glory! Hardship? To His glory! We  glorify Him the most when all we have to praise Him for is His worthiness. In fact, our lights shine the brightest in our darkest moments.

If you are going through a trial or “dark moment,” be encouraged. You have the opportunity to give glory to Him, to praise Him for Who He is–with no other apparent reason for praising Him–and for letting your light shine for Christ. Trust me, someone is watching. May that person come to Christ because of your sufferings.

As we look forward to this Sunday, may we say with David, “Not to us, O LORD, but to Your name be glory.”

Abba, I realize that I have not had to suffer much in my life so far. At the same time, You have called me to set aside my own life for Your will. You know that I was ready on several occasions if You had called upon me to give my life. I once again offer myself to You for You to use in whatever way will bring You the most glory. Sincerely yours, Kelly.

Proverbs 4 1-4-20

IronMan and Wonder Women today. Two ways to learn to keep from stumbling in this world and to be encouraged.

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
    shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
    they do not know what makes them stumble.

Since we know Jesus and have His Spirit in us, when we stumble, we can see what made us stumble.  Caring enough to change whatever it is that causes us to stumble only comes by spending time in the LORD’s presence in worship. Did you know that when we read our Bibles that we are worshiping? We are responding to the Spirit’s call, which is the definition of worship! As we read, we become aware of several things: His love, our sin debt, His grace, our gratitude.

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
    Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

Though it cost us all we have, we can get understanding and learn from our mistakes and stumblings. Better to lose the world and gain our souls, right? Many people will not give their lives to Christ because they think they have too much invested in their sin. It would require a drastic change of lifestyle, possibly loss of income, power, or some addiction. They hold onto their rags when they could let go and receive Christ’s riches!

13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.

As the Holy Spirit instructs us, we need to hold onto His instruction and not let go. In fact, we need to guard it with our lives. The interesting thing is that the more time we spend with Him in prayer and Bible study, fellowship and worship, the more real He becomes to us; the more real He is to us, the easier it is to let go of the things of this world and to hold onto the things that really matter. We crave even more, which is why some people are drawn to church routinely; it’s where they can get all four at one time.

14 [Get off] the path of the wicked and quit walking in the way of evildoers.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it [anymore]; turn from it and go on your way.

It really is that simple. This admonition is for us each morning. If we look at our lives, the Spirit reveals areas that need His attention. What we are doing or how we are thinking may not be particularly bad, just out of focus. We must remember that our flesh is intrinsically evil and our hearts are amplifiers of our feelings. We TEND toward evil naturally. EVERYTHING in our lives must be laid on the altar and scrutinized by the Spirit. The question is, are we really ready to do it? It’s a daily thing.

Let’s be Christ followers–up close and personal!

Abba, I give all I know of me to all I know of You today. As I learn more about Your love and grace and more about myself and my selfish attitude {and all that goes with it), may I give You that portion tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. May You increase and I decrease (John 3:30). Help me to live for You today. Reveal to me Yourself and myself. Amen. 

Hayley posted this yesterday on Facebook. It fits perfectly with this morning’s devotional:

Everyone is doing their one word for the year thing, and I had two phrases that I’m working on that I was just gonna count for it, which are:
Patience isn’t personal
Consistent and courteous
But one word did come to me during my quiet time this morning!

If I had to choose one word for this year It would be WARRIOR. The struggle is real between the corruptive nature of this world inside of me and God‘s nature He has gifted me through the Holy Spirit living inside of me. (Thank you Jesus!) The battle is whether I will claim the victory that is already there or turn to Myself and rely on what I want, how I feel, and how I think – Speaking to myself or others in my head instead of to God. There’s a reason we call those who pray, prayer WARRIORS. This is not just for super spiritual people, this title is for anyone who chooses to turn from self and talk to God instead. I need Him. God, help me to be a WARRIOR

“By these he has given us valuable and superlatively (extreme; supreme) great promises, so that through them you might come to share in God’s nature and escape the corruption which evil desires have brought into the world.”
‭‭2 Peter 1:4‬ ‭CJB‬‬

Proverbs 4 12-4-19

When you trusted Christ as Savior, did you present yourself to Him as an obedient slave? That’s what Lordship means.

11 I’m directing you on the way of wisdom, guiding you in paths of uprightness;
12 when you walk, your step won’t be hindered; and if you run, you won’t stumble.

God’s plans for us are for good things in our future and a hope for that future (Jeremiah 29:11). Our hope is in His Coming, either for us individually in death, at which time we go to be with Him in heaven (2 Cor. 5:8), or us as a group, the Catching Up of the Church, at which time we will go to be with Him in Jerusalem (1 Thes. 4:17, Zech. 14:4)! Is there a Rapture in there before Christ comes to earth? Possibly. We shall wait and see!

In the meantime, He walks with us as we go through this life and directs our steps in righteousness and holiness. The question is, how invested are we in the process?

15 Therefore, what conclusion should we reach? “Let’s go on sinning, because we’re not under legalism but under grace”? Heaven forbid! 16 Don’t you know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, then, of the one whom you are obeying, you are slaves — whether of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to being made righteous? 17 By God’s grace, you, who were once slaves to sin, obeyed from your heart the pattern of teaching to which you were exposed; 18 and after you had been set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.

This progression is universal for Christians and describes first our dilemma and then our solution:

  1. We are slaves to the one we serve.
  2. Our actions reveal who we follow, whether sin unto death (Satan) or obedience unto life (Christ).
  3. We learned the Way of Christ unto salvation and obeyed His command to receive His forgiveness of our sins and His Spirit into our hearts.
  4. After being set free from sin, we became slaves to Him. We WANT TO be righteous! It’s now our new nature.

In view of what has happened to us and Whose we are, 15 Therefore, what conclusion should we reach? “Let’s go on sinning, because we’re not under legalism but under grace”? Heaven forbid! Instead, let us learn to walk as “King’s Kids” in love, in righteousness and holiness, and with increasing glory. One day, we will inherit all of heaven and earth along with Christ (we are joint-heirs with Christ, Romans 8:17). We will once again manage the earth and even angels (1 Cor. 6:3–don’t ask me what that will look like).

Abba, I ask that You make Your will very plain to us today. Speak to us as we turn in our minds and hearts to You and to do Your will. It is our intent to learn of You and to lean on You as we walk through today. May You place us in circumstances that allow our lights to shine for You–regardless of how inconvenient, expensive, or even dangerous it may be. Our hope is in You and in heaven, not for anything down here on this earth. Even our family, whom we love so much, we entrust to You and in being with them in heaven forever rather than trying to hold onto them here on this earth. Keep us focused on You, Adonai. You are our all in all. Amen.

Proverbs 4 11-4-19

Eating right helps us in many ways, both physically and spiritually. Our spiritual nourishment comes from God’s Word.

17 They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.

There is a parallel between this verse and the Lord’s Supper, in which we symbolically eat the body of Christ and drink the blood of Christ, the first symbolizing us taking on the servant-life of Christ and the second symbolizing us receiving His forgiveness and new life.

Another parallel is daily bread. Jesus used this analogy in the prayer He taught His disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  Luke 11:3. His reference was to the manna given to the Israelites when wandering in the desert (Genesis 16:14-18), which He also referenced when being tempted by the devil in Matthew 4:4, which references Deut. 8:3, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”

We take in daily spiritual nourishment when we read His Word. Do you want to be strong in the LORD? To be able to stand against Satan? When describing the armor of God, Paul calls the word of God the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). It is a major way that the Holy Spirit communicates with us. His Word is also how we wash and get ready for the day (Eph. 5:26). We renew and transform our minds and thoughts in it (Romans 12:2).

Be sure to spend time in His Word and conversing with Him. If all you do is look up the verses we have just read, it would be a good start! I recommend keeping a lexicon handy, or your phone with a bible app that has a good search feature (it’s the quickest way to get around when following a thread). Allow Him to lead you all over the Bible! It is a very satisfying experience. Have fun with the LORD today in His Word.

Abba, thank You for Your Word. Getting to know You through the Scriptures helps my confidence as I follow You through today. Recognizing Your voice comes more easily, too, LORD, when I read everyday. Keep me faithful to You. Amen.

Proverbs 4 10-4-19

If you were to die today, how would people remember you? How much like Jesus would they say you were?

13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. – Proverbs 4:13

My heart hurts today. I lost a good friend yesterday. Mike Kennedy was 57 years old when he went to be with the LORD due to a head- on collision. His wife was also injured and is grieving along with the children. Her cousin also died in that accident. Please pray for this family and the driver of the other vehicle.

Mike took today’s scripture to heart and lived his faith everyday. He is a man who loves Jesus and now stands before Him whole and complete, singing to the LORD in the heavenly choir in his new, glorified body! Lucky fellow! We will join him one day. Mike looked a lot like Jesus!

Until then, may we guard our hearts and the instruction that the Holy Spirit gives as we follow Him.

Abba, comfort Mike’s family with Your love and peace even as they grieve the loss of Mike. Actually, we know right where he is: Standing in Your presence! Help me not be a little bit envious of him.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 4 9-4-19

Who is at work in us? Jesus is at work in us! He loves renovation jobs! He enjoys the work and our fellowship.

(6) Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.

King Solomon did not know God as we know God. He knew Him from a dream in which God asked him what he desired God to do for him (2 Chronicles 1:7-12). We do not know if God contacted Solomon again his entire life.

We, on the other hand, have Christ living in our hearts! We get to talk to Him ALL THE TIME! Oh, what wondrous love that He would desire a steady relationship with me, and all His adopted brothers and sisters. More than that, God Himself fellowships with us through the Spirit of Christ Who lives in us. I pray that this revelation never gets old to us!

I was reading this morning and a phrase stuck out at me. Most of the time when that happens, it’s the Holy Spirit emphasizing that part of Scripture. Here ’tis:

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

We know that Christ lives in our hearts (Eph. 3:17); we know that His Spirit is our seal of salvation (2 Cor. 1:22); we know that His Spirit gives us the desire and the power to do His will (Phil. 2:13); we know that He is pleased to do this for us (Eph. 1:9).

God is building His house and using us to do it (Eph. 2:19-22). Why? I believe that He loves the interaction. He loves us and wants to spend time with us, so by using us to reach others and help others gives Him the opportunity to teach us, rebuke us (when we don’t listen), correct us (like a father would his son when he is learning to sand a board), and train us through exercises and obstacle courses–although our courses are real!

The problem is that when we spend time with the Father, we are both satisfied and dissatisfied at the same time. By experiencing the majesty and glory of the Father–even a little bit–and the love, joy and peace that exude from Him, we become dissatisfied with the things of this world. They no longer hold their appeal. It is enough to know that God is working in me what is pleasing to Him.

Paul had the same struggle:

20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

Peter knew this joy of which we are speaking:

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

If we feel this inexpressible and glorious joy now, imagine what it will be like to stand in His presence new and complete in our glorious bodies, with no sin nature, forever! Folks, THAT’S something worth looking forward to and working toward!

Lord Jesus, may You complete the work You have started in my heart and life (Phil. 1:6). I am looking forward to spending eternity with You and my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. In the meantime, may I focus on You, turning to you often during the day, and enjoy this limited version of life until You call me home. Use me any way you like; I am Yours. Then, Abba, bring me home to You! I am counting the days…Amen.