Proverbs 5 11-5-22

Free will is a big deal. It’s what makes us like God.

19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Deuteronomy 30:19-20

When God (Elohim)* created mankind, it was in their image. Mankind was given free will.

Then God [Elohim] said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” Genesis 1:26.

Our free will gives us the ability to choose who we worship. Will it be God or something else? We might be tempted to say, “ourselves,” but when we serve ourselves, we wind up serving Satan, for he is the “god” of pleasure. Knowing that Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10a), we now know why God calls us to follow Him. He gives life in abundance (John 10:10b).

The concept of free will and God’s refusal to breach ours is revealed in Jeremiah . Let’s look at several passages from both the Septuagint (LXX) and the Masoretic (MAS) texts:

LXX- 7:3 Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Amend your ways and your practices, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.”

MAS- 7:3 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.

The Lord was telling the people of Judah to repent, and that if they did, He would make it so they could stay in the land of Israel rather than get carted off to Babylon. We know that they didn’t repent, and Jeremiah gives us the reasons why they didn’t:

LXX- 5:23 But this people has an inattentive and disobedient heart. They turned aside and departed [from social justice].

MAS- 5:23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away [from social justice].

LXX- 6:10 To whom shall I speak and testify? Will it be heard? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, and they cannot hear. Behold, the word of the Lord was an insult to them, and they do not wish to hear it.

MAS- 6:10 To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.

LXX- 6:28 They all are inattentive and walk perversely. They are bronze and iron, and all have corrupted themselves.

MAS- 6:28 They are all hardened rebels, going about to slander. They are bronze and iron; they all act corruptly.

LXX- 7:18 “Do they provoke Me to wrath?” says the Lord. “Do they not provoke themselves to the shame of their own faces?”

MAS- 7:19 “But am I the one they are provoking?” declares the Lord. “Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?”

Both versions have the same CIT (central idea of the text), but each says it a little differently. The conclusion we draw is that the Israelites brought their destruction upon themselves. Tomorrow, we will look at two of the reasons for their demise.

Abba, keep stretching and growing us. I know this study may seem tedious, but it has opened my eyes to seeing Your Word on a larger scale. May I never take for granted all that Your Word has endured. I want life, Your life, Lord Jesus. You are the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6), therefore, I will study Your Word, for You are the Word (John 1:14), and “Your Word is Truth” (John 17:17). Amen.

Proverbs 5 10-5-22

Becoming like Jesus is harder than it looks. We have our sin nature to overcome. Thankfully, we have the Spirit in us!

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Yesterday, we looked at the different soils in which the seed of the Word of God is planted in our lives. Today, we will look at what happens daily in Christians’ lives.

20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 2 Timothy 2:20-21

Daily, we make the choice to be clean vessels for His use or to stay dirty vessels that He still uses, but not for what we would like.

Jesus described salvation as a turning away from sin and turning to the light (John 3:20-21). John further described our daily lives as walking in the light (1 John 1:8). Sanctification is a fancy word for becoming like Jesus. There is a purification process that needs to happen to us. King David compared it to purifying silver and gold (Psalm 12:6). Another way of saying it is that we present ourselves to God,

“But in the same way we gave ourselves as slaves to anything of this world, we must constantly, repeatedly give ourselves to God and righteousness. It is not a once-and-for-all decision; it is a daily one. An hourly one, even. You have to present yourself constantly to God, for your sanctification is a lifelong process.”*

This process of sanctification is one that the Holy Spirit takes great joy in walking us through. To us, it is hard, painful, and altogether unpleasant, but to Him, it is majesty and beauty being created–or, rather, revealed in us. We are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Concerning being clean vessels versus dirty ones, the idea is to stay clean. Since we know that sin destroys everything it touches, we want to wash ourselves in the water of the Word (Ephesians 5:26) and to present ourselves to our Lord ready-to-use, so to speak. Our goal, as we walk with Jesus, is to look just like Him. He tells us to “be perfect even as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).” How do we do that? Through the process of sanctification, which the Spirit is already doing in our lives right now! All we need to do is walk in step with the Spirit,

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

Abba, help us to walk in step with You. The process of sanctification is long, and drawn-out (it takes our entire lives). We look forward to the day we get to step into Your presence whole, complete, blameless and perfected. Until then, we are trusting You for every step. Keep us focused on You, Lord. Amen.

*”Bearing Fruit” page 58

Proverbs 5 9-5-22

The Rich Man and Lazarus: True story or parable? You make the call!

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24

After looking it up on the internet, I’m still undecided about the question. Let’s read the story and look at both sides.

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

A True Story-
From Gotquestions.org

  • The story is never called a parable.
  • The beggar was actually named.
  • “Third, this particular story does not seem to fit the definition of a parable, which is a presentation of a spiritual truth using an earthly illustration. The story of the rich man and Lazarus presents spiritual truth directly, with no earthly metaphor. The setting for most of the story is the afterlife, as opposed to the parables, which unfold in earthly contexts.”

A Parable-

  • It is in the midst of other parables.
  • It begins just like two other parables: Luke 15:11 and 16:1.
  • “Lazarus” might have been used as an icon. It means, “God will help.” “Eleazar” is its Hebrew counterpart. “Lazarus” is the Greek version.
  • Since we have no particulars on the afterlife, we have no way of knowing if Jesus was being literal or simply making the point that many would not believe in Him even after He rose from the dead (v.31).

There is a compelling evidence in Matthew 13:34 that makes me lean toward the passage being a parable,

34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.

At the same time, Matthew may have been referring to the parables that he related in his Gospel. Again, we don’t know for sure. On either side you fall, we can find these truths in the story:

  1. Wealth can turn a person away from true devotion to God. Because of the mention of purple, the entire story may have been pointed to the leadership, specifically the high priest.
  2. There are blessings and consequences beyond the grave about how we live–and for Whom– on this earth.
  3. Jesus was prophesying that many of the leadership of Israel would not believe in Him even after He rose from the dead.

The Rich Man and Lazarus: True story or parable? You make the call!

Abba, I was surprised when Robin pointed out that the rich man’s attitude had not changed even in his torment. He was still ordering people around! If this story is about the current leadership of that day, which several of the other parables were, then they were dead-set against Jesus. No wonder within 40 years the entire sacrificial system was destroyed. It’s interesting to me that they were afraid of losing their privileged status with Rome (John 11:48), yet it was the Romans who annihilated Jerusalem and the temple! Lord, may we always put our trust in You. You are the One who helps us. Amen.

Proverbs 5 8-5-22

The human body with its Intelligent Design is amazing. We continue today “looking” at the eye.

21 For our ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all our paths.
He also guides us on them (Psalm 73:24).

Yesterday, we covered the cornea, the iris, the pupil, the lens, and the liquid. Today, we will cover the muscles, the self-cleaning system.

The muscles:

The eye muscles are the busiest muscles in the body! Besides the muscles that control the inside of the eye, there are “three pairs of muscles attached to the outside of the eye. These muscles rotate the eyeball so we can look in different directions without moving our heads. Basically, one pair of muscles works like reins on a horse to aim the eye left and right. A second pair of muscles, attached to the top and bottom of the eyeball, aims the eye up and down. Finally, a third set of muscles rotates the eye like a doorknob. The purpose of these last two muscles is to keep our vision level when we tilt the head from side to side, so we don’t get dizzy (the Lord thinks of everything!).”
“Just think of it. Everywhere we turn our gaze, twelve separate muscles (six on each eye) move in perfect coordination for us to see the object we’re looking at. If our eyes are even slightly misaligned, we see double. This remarkable coordination is like a marksman so accurate with a pair of pistols that he can make only one bullet hole every time he fires both guns!”
From “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body” page 28-29

The self-cleaning washers in our eyes keep them lubricated and clean. Our tears also eliminate bacteria and other harmful products. “Deep under the upper eyelid, toward the side of the head, each eye has a special reservoir of eye-washing fluid called the lachrymal glands. These glands secrete a watery tear fluid that has just the right acid level (pH) and osmotic (concentration) properties. The fluid also contains special oils to reduce evaporation. It also gives our cornea a smooth surface for optimum vision.”
“If you look very closely at your eye, you will notice a small opening on the margin of your upper and lower eyelids near the nose. These holes, called puncta, are attached to pumps that remove the tear fluid as it flows across the eye and drains it into the nose. This continuously flushes our eyes of debris and keeps our cornea from drying out.”

Humans are the only creatures God created that can cry emotional tears. But, God catches our tears and stores them in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). It shows how much He cares for us. We can trust Him. He doesn’t promise to end our tears on this side of life, but He does promise to walk us through to His side of life.

Tomorrow, we finish our tour of the eye by studying the retina, and the optic nerve.

Abba, thank You for seeing my tears and for keeping them. They are precious to You; that makes me very happy. I know You cried, too (John 11:35). I am comforted by the thought that You understand our condition (Hebrews 4:15-16). I know that I can approach You for mercy and grace when I need it–which is all the time! Keep them coming, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 5 7-5-22

“You keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means.” – Inigo Montoya

30:5 “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 6 Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”

People refer to the Word of God being all-sufficient, inspired, inerrant, and infallible. What do these words mean?

All-sufficient– The Reformation was built upon two pillars: Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) and Sola Fide (faith alone). Scripture must stand above all else, such as intellect, reason, logic and even the Church, for it is the Scripture that gives the foundation for the Church. As for faith, Scripture gives us the foundation for a salvation based upon the finished work of Christ on the cross. The Word of God is all-sufficient to meet our every need.

Inspired– The Holy Spirit is the inspiration for the writing of Scripture and for the understanding of Scripture. The Spirit interacts with humanity to perceive the heart of God, to believe the message of God, and to receive the salvation of God. Every writer was inspired by the Spirit and every listener/reader is inspired by the Spirit in understanding.

Inerrant– The Word of God is without error. Everything God said and says is absolutely right and correct. There is no shadow of turning with God (James 1:17); we can trust Him to be the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Infallible– “absolutely trustworthy or sure; unfailing in effectiveness or operation; certain.” We can trust that what God says is absolutely trustworthy. His Word will never cease to be effective or to quit working. We can be certain of it.

The question for the day is: What IS the Word of God? Trusting Scripture, let’s look:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was GodHe was with God in the beginning. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:1-2, 14, 17

but in these last days he [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also 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. Hebrews 1:2-3

Jesus is the Word of God. Whatever He tells us, we can trust with our lives–even our eternity! Tomorrow, we will discuss the mission of the Word of God in our world.

Abba, I praise You for Your all-sufficient Word, Jesus Christ. In Him, we have complete trust for our salvation, our future, and our day-to-day living. May the Spirit of Christ guide us–which is like saying, “may the sun come up in the morning.” Teach us to lean on Him and not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). Amen.

Proverbs 5 6-5-22

How to have peace in your heart:

29:17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.

Peace comes when we are at one with God. It’s what atonement was all about. “Atonement” can be pronounced, “At-one-ment.” Christ was bringing us back together with the Father relationally. If we will let Him, He gives us His peace,

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

I particularly like the word, “thankful.” It’s a lot like “grateful.” Both words describe what I feel inside when I turn my mind toward Jesus. His sheer presence washes away any doubts and fears on which I have been dwelling. The apostle Paul tells us in the previous verses how God feels about us and how to receive His peace,

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

In other letters, Paul uses the term, “put off/put on” instead of “clothe.” Either way, the idea is to set our minds on doing these things and being this way. In many ways, it’s the re-training of the mind. The Holy Spirit will grow compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience in our lives. He will teach us how to forgive, but also how to keep healthy boundaries in place, and what it looks like to put on love. He is the One who brings us peace, our at-one-ment.

My prayer for you this morning is:

Let the [peace and this] message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3:16

Abba, Your peace means everything to me. My at-one-ment with You is all that matters. I trust You for everything in my life, so whatever You say works for me. May I work on my at-one-ment with others now–Spirit, help! Amen.

Proverbs 5 5-5-22

As Christians, our greatest need is to be aware of how much we need Jesus everyday.

3:1 My child, do not forget [Me or] my teaching, but keep [Me and] My commands in your heart,

God the Father has given us the gift of Choice. He wants us to choose to join Him in a personal relationship with the Trinity through the Son. But, there is a spiritual truth that we need to understand. That truth is:

He wants us. We need Him.

We were not designed to work independently from God the Holy Spirit. Since the day Adam and Eve left the Garden, God the Father has been in pursuit of us (Luke 15:3-7). His pursuit became intense with God the Son’s incarnation, life and ministry, death and resurrection, and the sending of God the Spirit to infuse and empower our lives with the Trinity*. The Gospel is now reaching to the ends of the earth as He continues His search for every lost sheep!

Our constant dependence upon the in-dwelling Spirit (and Trinity) is foundational for Christians. Without Jesus as our Shepherd, we do not have life because Jesus is life (John 11:25-26 and 14:6). We must be willing to follow His lead:

  1. At home,
  2. At work,
  3. In relationships (friends, spouses, family),
  4. When with others,
  5. And when alone (this one’s called having integrity).

Jesus is not asking us to do something that He Himself was not willing to do. In fact, since we know that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), we know that Jesus is the ultimate and eternal Servant-Leader. He wants to serve us today by leading us as our Good Shepherd. Consider these verses:

28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Philippians 2:3-5

In the words of my pastor, who quotes E.V. Hill, “I know I will preach well today if my Helper shows up.” Don’t let the phraseology fool you. He’s not talking about the Spirit literally showing up–He’s already with and in him. He’s referring to him being in sync with the Spirit and allowing the Spirit to take charge. He’s the shepherd being led by the Chief Shepherd. Now, THAT’S a servant-leader!

Abba, I am so glad that You want us as Your friends because we need You as our Shepherd. Lead us, Good Shepherd; we will follow. Amen.

*Supporting verses for the in-dwelling of the Trinity:

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. John 14:23

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

14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14

Proverbs 5 4-5-22

The similarities between Peter’s story and Judas Iscariot’s story are striking. Let’s look…

1 my child, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight…22 the evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast [Jesus will set them free].

Most people know the story of Peter:

  • A fisherman
  • Married
  • Leader
  • Hotheaded

Many people know the story of Judas Iscariot:

  • Keeper of the moneybag
  • Dipped into the moneybag occasionally (John 12:6)
  • Rebuked Mary for “wasting” expensive perfume
  • Took 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus

So far, there’s not much similarity, but here’s where it changes. They both were told that they would fall to weakness: Peter to fear and Judas to greed. Peter denied Christ; Judas betrayed Christ. Lest we get the idea that they are worse than the other disciples, read Matthew 26:56b, which was prophesied also,

56 But this has happened so that the scriptures of the prophets would be fulfilled [see Matthew 26:31].” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Both Peter and Judas had great remorse for their “falling away.” Peter was reinstated by Jesus (John 21:15-17); Judas hanged himself after throwing the money back into the temple (see Matthew 27:3-5).

Most people think that when Jesus said, “It would be better if he had never been born” (Mark 14:21), and that he was “doomed to destruction (John 17:12), that Judas is burning in hell right now. I wonder if there is another option. Consider:

  • Judas died before Jesus did;
  • Jesus descended into Hades and led a triumphal train out of hell (1 Peter 4:6, Apostles’ Creed, 2 Corinthians 2:14);
  • Judas may have been the last person to enter Hades before Christ got there and freed the captives (Isaiah 61:1), which means that he also may have been the first person out of Hades with Christ!

The lesson here is not so much to champion Judas, but to warn against assumptions. We must always read Scripture through the lens of Jesus: Jesus said, “love your enemies,” “forgive seventy times seven;” did He not extend forgiveness to the very soldiers who crucified Him? It’s worth considering.

Abba, I don’t know where Judas is today, but I know You well enough to know that You practice what You preach. I would like to believe that Judas was right on Your heels on the way out of Hades and to Your throne! Thank You for Your wonderful grace that extends to every human being on the planet, past, present and future. Amen.

Proverbs 5 3-5-22

Our job is to show people the real Jesus, the One who loves them and can be trusted.

3 For the lips of the adulterous woman [Satan’s deceptions] drip honey, and her [his] speech is smoother than oil…

In the story, With You All the Way” (also entitled, “The Song of the King”), by Max Lucado, the king would play a song on his flute each morning that would guide the young warriors through the dark forest. The problem was that the hopenots (creatures of the forest) would mimic the song with their flutes; their melodies would be close to the king’s, but were not quite the same. Only one of the three warriors made it back to the castle (his secret is for those who read the book).

In this world, we also have hopenots who mimic the King’s true song. Jesus is that True Song, but the hopenots make Him out to be something He’s not. Our job is to show the love and acceptance of Jesus for all people. He will do the convicting of sin in their lives. We are to hurt for them, care for them, and tell them about the love of Jesus and our experiences with Him. We are to be light, His light, to those around us even if they are hostile. I have found that hostile people are usually angry people. Angry people have been hurt; they can’t trust the Jesus they know. We are to show them a different Jesus, One who loves them. Our trust in Him shows that they can trust Him, too.

Realize this: We show Christ the best in trying circumstances. When we say, “Lord, use me for Your glory,” we are releasing Him to allow trying circumstances in our lives. Are we willing? Those circumstances may have happened anyway, but even so, we choose to respond with patience and peace, thus showing everyone watching that they can trust Jesus, too, even in dark times.

Paul was facing hard times ahead (Acts 20:22-23), but here is his attitude, one that we would do well to adopt:

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.

Abba, may I remember my own words when I experience dark days. Right now, things are great; I feel that You are teaching me great lessons. I also know that real faith is tried by fire. I release you in my life to allow whatever circumstances will give me the best opportunities to demonstrate great faith, Your love for me, my trust in You, and Your faithfulness to me. Whoever it is, Lord, that You are trying to reach, may they see the real You in me and want You in them. It is my only aim. Amen.

Proverbs 5 2-5-22

What are we before we are transformed by Jesus? We are like caterpillars; we have potential, but a big change needs to occur.

21 A person’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders, weighs, and then makes level our paths.

Caterpillars to Butterflies. This beauty is an evolution-defying creation! They truly begin as one creature and transform into a different creation–all in less than two weeks. They are also a classic illustration of us before we believed in Jesus and after we believed Him and took Him at His word. Let’s look at some fun facts about caterpillars and butterflies.

Miraculous Life Cycle

EggThe Egg: All the information to assemble this creature was in place long before it hatched. Its nectar-eating mother knew just where to deposit the egg. (For many species, the caterpillar survives on only one specific type of plant.)
CaterpillarCaterpillar: The caterpillar is born with specialized tools to grab food and chow down. It will grow up to three thousand times its original size, so sometimes it needs to shed its outer skeleton. That means laying down a new outfit under the old one—wrinkles and all.
Caterpiller to PupaPupa (Chrysalis): Eventually the caterpillar molts into a new body plan (a chrysalis). At the end of this stage, one final molt occurs. With the help of MRIs, we can watch how the pieces of the former life are carefully torn apart and rearranged.
Pupa to ButterflyButterfly: Once the adult body is built, the butterfly will inflate until it splits the old exoskeleton. Then it pumps blood into the wings so they unfurl. After a short wait to let the new exoskeleton harden, the transformed creature takes to the air.

To watch an eight-minute video on the metamorphosis of a butterfly, click here.

The transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly is an exquisite illustration of our life in Christ. We are spiritual caterpillars until Christ comes and transforms us into spiritual butterflies. We are, indeed, new creations! The chrysalis of conviction, repentance, and faith happen at the Holy Spirit’s prompting. When is a caterpillar ready to become a butterfly? When the Holy Spirit deems it is the right time. We are also butterflies who hold out to all “caterpillars” the hope of them becoming butterflies, too, trusting that He will move in their lives and that they will go into their own chrysalis and come out as beautiful butterflies.

But, even this metaphor is still inadequate to describe the process. One could conclude that salvation is a one-time event, but it’s more than that; it’s about our relationship with Jesus. This relationship is for life and lasts a lifetime–in this age and the age to come.

Thank You, Jesus, for transforming us into new creations. We now want to be with You and be like You. Help us to grow, to stretch out our new wings (metaphorically) and fly! Amen.

Proverbs 5 1-5-22

Fire insurance or a true relationship? That’s what we will discuss today.

1 My child, be attentive to my wisdom [seeing from God’s perspective]; incline your ear to my understanding [paying attention to God’s ways], 2 that you may keep discretion [live holy and righteous lives], and your lips may guard knowledge [speak godly and true statements].

When Zechariah got his voice back (Luke 1:64), he began to praise God and prophesy much like Mary. After speaking about redemption and salvation (v68-69), about deliverance and mercy (v70-72), about the holy covenant and the oath to Father Abraham (v.73), Zechariah says this:

74 To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,
Would serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
76 And you, child, also will be called the prophet of the Most High;
For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways;
77 To give His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,
78 Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
79 To shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

  • v.74 With fear is how they always served God–up until John. John prepared the way for Yeshua (Jesus); Yeshua (Jesus) showed the way to His loving Father.
  • v.75 Christ will make us holy and righteous.
  • v.76-77 John will go ahead of the Messiah and prepare the way; he will begin the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of sins.
  • v.78 God now begins to be portrayed as a loving Father who has tender mercy for His children–all of them (Gentiles, too).
  • v.79 The light of Christ will shine in our hearts. He will shine on every heart and say, “Do you trust Me? Then, follow Me.” We spend our entire lives learning to trust and follow.

So, how are you doing? Do you want to follow Christ and meet with Him up close and personal? Or, are you comfortable at a distance? A lot of people have their “get out of jail free” cards and they’re fine keeping Christ at arm’s length. But, that’s not what salvation is all about. If we take heaven and hell off the table and just deal with a personal, one-on-one relationship with Jesus for life, would everyone who claims to be a Christian really take Him up on it? Of course, if we have a relationship with Jesus, then hell is averted and heaven is secured. Christ in us IS heaven!

Let’s follow Christ because He has called us. Let’s be obedient because His Spirit urges us to do so. Let’s converse with Him constantly and consistently all day, every day. We don’t have to worry about hell because Christ is in us, nor do we need to worry about heaven because He has promised to take us to be with Him (John 17:24). But, we must not miss the point of the cross/grave/resurrection/ascension, which is “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

Abba, thank You for living in me. The lack of Your presence would surely be hell. May our relationship grow closer and closer together until You and I are completely one–now, THAT’S heaven! I love You. Thank You for loving me. Amen.

Proverbs 5 12-5-21

Forecasting- presuming to know the outcome before the event takes place. Adam and Eve did, Cain did, etc.

21 For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines [weighs and levels] all your paths [more on this verse tomorrow]. [But], the evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins [of their own doing and their own beliefs] hold them fast.

Well, I didn’t get very much further in my 1 John 2 reading. Verses 28 and 29 “spoke” to me. Let’s look at them one at a time,

28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 

When I read this passage in the past, I always interpreted its meaning as my need to do something in order to evoke a right response from God or to avoid a negative response from Him. Now, I’ve come to see that it has to do with my own self-imposed shame rather than His “wrath.” If I abide–live my life in His life, enjoying His Presence and intimate fellowship–in Him, then I learn that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all,” (1 John 1:5) and that “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him” (1 John 4:16). When I ponder these two truths, I realize that any darkness is in me and is my own doing and my own thinking.

God is in the process of expunging me of all darkness (wrong-thinking), including anything that makes me fear Him. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18). So, my confidence on the day of His coming comes from my walking with Him and understanding that He is our light and our salvation, and our Great Love. Any fear or shame comes from my own mind and thoughts because I simply don’t know Him well enough to shed the deception that began with Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 3:10).

As for verse 29, it is the outcome of verse 28,

29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

Those who abide in the Lord are easy to spot because they reflect the Lord’s character and qualities. Practicing righteousness flows out of their relationship with Jesus Christ and their constant communion with the Spirit. In fact, 3:1 is a confirmation of today’s truth,

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him [but, we DO!].

May we enjoy to the fullest our status as children of the heavenly Father. May we feel free to crawl up onto His lap and lean against Him (Hebrews 4:16). Our fellowship with the Trinity is the purpose of our salvation!

Abba, thank You for Your amazing love! Because of Your great love, we no longer have to worry about darkness, punishment, wrath (whether real or imagined), or anything else that might separate us from You. Keep teaching us, Lord. We want to know You more. Amen.

Proverbs 5 11-5-21

Heaven is a great selling point for salvation, but it’s the wrong selling point. The love of Jesus is.

23 For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life.

Here’s how salvation should go:

  1. Jesus prompts a person to ask questions about spiritual things. There’s an interest.
  2. As those questions are answered, the person feels drawn to Jesus.
  3. At a given point, that person receives Christ as his Savior and Lord, along with a pledge of obedience.
  4. The person begins to walk with Jesus as a new creation in Christ.

Let’s take these four steps apart:

  1. Many times, the questions come as accusatory remarks. There may be a lot of hurt behind the question, like, “Why did God kill my father?” We must always assume that the question is real and the person is seeking an answer, something that he can believe. The answer is, “God didn’t kill your father; sin did. Maybe not his personal sin, but sin in general has caused all people to die. The result is evident in our world. God loves your dad, and He grieves with you as you grieve.”
  2. As we talk to him about how much Jesus loves him, we stress that Jesus wants a personal, ongoing relationship with him. This relationship begins with him recognizing Jesus as Lord, King of the Universe, and pledging his life to Him. The idea of Jesus being our personal Guide through this world needs to appeal to him.
  3. The realization of our inability to make good choices in life because we are subjective (living in it) enables us to trust Jesus for His leadership. The more we trust Him, the more trustworthy He becomes, and the more trustworthy He becomes, the more we trust Him. The person’s willingness for Jesus to transform him from the inside out is big. If a person wants Jesus, he will have to give Him all rights and all controls to his life.
  4. A mentor is a great idea for a young follower of Jesus. We can explain the fellowship we share with Christ in everyday life, teaching him what happened when he was adopted into the family, when he was reborn, and how Christ is transforming us into the likeness of Jesus (who is God). We want to be like Him in character. It is this desire that reveals the heart of the person.

If we explain that hell is not having a relationship with Jesus and that heaven is having a relationship with Jesus, the person begins to understand that we are already living in one or the other. The step beyond this life is nothing but a continuation of our everyday life. Who wouldn’t want to be part of this kind of salvation?!

Abba, it is Your desire that all people come to You. You offer so much to us that it’s impossible to grasp it all: the forgiveness of sin, the presence of Jesus, the fellowship with the Spirit, Your guidance through this world, the promise of eternal life with You…and these just scratch the surface! May you continue to lead us into all truth, Lord. We will be diligent searchers for Your truth. Amen.

Proverbs 5 10-5-21

Yesterday was a matter of the heart concerning pride. Today is a matter of the mind. What do we want to do?

7 Now then, my children, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. 9 Keep to a path far from her [temptation], do not go near the door of her house…

The next verses in our study of 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 are 13-15. Let’s look at verse 13:

13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 

There will be times when we will be considered out of our minds for following Christ. The decisions we make are based upon the Spirit’s prompting in our lives. We spend time reading the testimonies of the Apostles and other Christians in our New Testament; we discuss what we know with each other, asking the Spirit to guide us into more truth, even all truth; we spend time in conversation with Jesus seeking His face and pledging ourselves to Him for right here, right now. The decisions we make are based upon His kingdom and not this kingdom (world), or our health, wealth, control, fear, etc.

In this case, Paul and the others were in their right spiritual minds for the Galatians. Paul had their needs in mind and what was best for them. This next statement was specifically for them, but is also a universal truth:

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.

The love of the Christ who is in our hearts guides our thoughts and is our highest motivator in our decision making. In following Christ, we first must believe that He is who He says He is and that He did what He said He would do (John 12:23, 32). Paul then states the spiritual fact that in Christ, all died to sin. It’s what the Law did on a limited basis (the Jews died vicariously through the death of their sacrifices). We know that the Father postponed judgment for all sin until the cross (Romans 3:25) and then Jesus took that sin to the grave–then He rose again while leaving sin in that grave! Now, all who choose to walk in His light walk out of their graves and into eternal life with Christ.

If we will remember this truth each day, we will “no longer live for ourselves” but for Christ. We are His; He has a wonderful plan for us. He has shown us the love of the Father. Let’s be about the Father’s business.

Abba, thank You for loving me. Thank You for Jesus conquering sin and the grave and giving me new life. May I be enthusiastic about sharing such good news with others. Amen.

Proverbs 5 9-5-21

What are we willing to lose to gain Christ? Is He even our goal in this life?

8 Keep to a path far from her [temptation], do not go near the door or her house…21 For your ways are in full view of he LORD, and He examines all your paths.

2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.

I ran across a passage in my daily reading that made me ponder. Here it is:

11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment. 1 Corinthians 4:11-13

We know that the “we” is Paul and Sosthenes, and maybe others (see 16:19-20). This is the same person who met Jesus personally and had several “talks” with Him. Paul even went to heaven and was shone the whole picture, some of which he was not allowed to talk about (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). Yet, Paul endured such hardship for the Lord. In fact, Paul counted it quite an honor to “fill up in his flesh the afflictions of Christ” (Colossians 1:24).

How about us? Christ gave His life for us. Paul lived his life in abject poverty for His Lord. What are we willing to lose to gain Christ? Are we willing to suffer pain, heartache, loss, or poverty? If not, then we really don’t understand what He did for us on the cross or what He has in store for us. We believe in the idea of heaven, but we haven’t grasped the reality of it, yet.

Just wait. We will. It’s one of the advantages of growing old. We learn not to overcome, but to stick close to our Savior’s side (we are already overcomers in Christ-Romans 8:37, 1 John 5:4). When Peter was most successful in walking on water was after Jesus caught him and raised him up. Then they walked back to the boat together (Matthew 14:25-33). That’s us! In our pain, in our heartache, loss, or poverty, we stick close to Jesus. We know that eventually we will make it to the other shore (v.34), and heaven will be all the sweeter. Great is His faithfulness.

This morning, let’s worship together in our respective locations.

Abba, thank You that You promise to catch us when we begin to sink. Thank You for walking us back to the boat and for getting us all to the other side. I know that Your kingdom is beyond words! In the meantime, may You remind us that this world is NOT our home and that we are just a’passin’ through. To You be the glory. Amen.

Proverbs 5 8-5-21

Choosing Christ over everything in this world takes faith. We must learn to trust Jesus. How? By studying His Word and His ways.

1 My child, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, 2 that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.

If the entire point of our salvation was for us to be able to enjoy a wonderful, personal relationship with our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection and the consequent infilling of the Holy Spirit, then our acknowledgement of Him in our lives must be our first priority. Most people do not associate reading God’s Word with spending time with Him, but it is. He lives in the words; they are living and active (Hebrews 4:12). Just as “the prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21), He speaks to us through the writers of His Word.

Spending time with Jesus is how we are changed, transformed, remade, fixed, tweaked and tuned to be godly. We are being made into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). We had been living as slaves until the day Christ saved us. From that point on, He has been working on us and in us to get us through enemy territory to His kingdom even as He grows His kingdom in us. He has been preparing us for it by teaching us who we are and what to expect. His Spirit within us gives us the desire to overcome our own selfish desires and the power to overcome temptation. We are being made into the image of God as we were intended to be from the beginning.

It’s our choice. It’s always been our choice, but once we make the choice, we move our wills out of the way and allow Him to work in and through us. It’s quite a privilege! What we forget is that just being with Him changes us. Although programs and studies are good, we need time with the Father in order to absorb His goodness and His love. In order to radiate, we must saturate. Engaging the Father in conversation and submitting ourselves to Him faces us toward Him and makes us ready to receive all of His goodness, love, joy, peace, mercy, and grace.

Let’s try an experiment: When you think about God, give all you know of yourself to all you know of Him right then. Submit yourself to Him that very minute. Then, go on about your day. The next time you think about God, do it again right then. Then again. and again. I think what you will find is that it will become a habit, a routine, even second nature to live in His presence. His presence means His participation, as well. We need not worry about protection when we are walking with the Father. What’s the worst they can do, kill the body? Here’s what Jesus said about that:

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. Luke 12:4

He also says, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24

Dying to self and living for God through Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit is our new directive (Romans 6:11).

Abba, may You challenge us to seek Your face routinely, to get to know You, and to become like You. We can only do that when we strive to acknowledge You in our everyday lives. Make Yourself known to us even as You told us You would, “Turn to Me, and I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings and My thoughts” Proverbs 1:23. I can’t think of anything I want more than for You to do just that! Let’s start right now, shall we? Thank You, Abba! Amen.

Proverbs 5 7-5-21

“The Change” is what happens to us when we give our lives to Jesus. He changes us from the inside out.

7 Now then, my children, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say.

I was listening to my Steven Curtis Chapman playlist and heard one of my favorites, “The Change.” The refrain goes like this:

What about the change, what about the difference?
What about the grace, what about forgiveness?
What about a life that’s showin’ I’m undergoin’ the change?

I got to thinking, “what kind of change?” Here’s what I came up with (so far):

  1. More loving- He is teaching me to love my brother and sister in Christ and to have compassionate love for those who are not part of His family (2 Peter 1:7-8, Romans 12:19-20, 1 John 4:11).
  2. More forgiving- He is showing me how to forgive as He forgives (Matthew 6:12-15, Colossians 3:13).
  3. More focused- I am learning how to remain focused on godly things (Philippians 4:8-9, Colossians 3:2).
  4. More intentional- I make His business my business and seek out His will (Acts 20:24, 1 Corinthians 9:27).
  5. More of a peacemaker- I am realizing that what I say either causes peace or hostility (Matthew 5:9, Proverbs 6:19, James 3:10).
  6. More knowledgeable- Learning who Jesus is according to His Word is vital for spiritual growth (Psalm 19:7-14, 2 Peter 1:5).
  7. Seeing from His Perspective- That’s the definition of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7, 8:12, 9:10).

I suggest that you develop your own list according to what the Spirit is telling you. Gaining the proper perspective of ourselves is key to submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Don’t forget this one thing: God can NEVER be disappointed with you. He loves you and died for you! He knows everything that you ever did and will ever do. Our relationship with the sin in our lives that separates us from having a relationship with the Father has been changed forever. From now on, God uses everything in our lives to teach us to walk in step with Him. Everything: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. He is looking forward to our glorification when we step into His Presence in His Kingdom. In the meantime, He walks with us in sweet fellowship and uses our imperfections to mold us into the image of His Son.

Abba, may You teach us to undergo the change according to Your Spirit. We want to be just like You, Jesus. Amen.

I’m gonna have the change, I’m gonna have the difference,
I’m gonna have the grace, I’m gonna have forgiveness,
I’m gonna have a life that’s showin’ I’m undergoin’ the change
.

The Change – Steven Curtis Chapman

Proverbs 5 6-5-21

Christians don’t get in tune with the universe; we get in tune with the God the Holy Spirit, the Creator of the universe!

7 Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say.
21 For you ways are in full view of the LORD, and He examines all your paths [to keep you free from the cords of sin–see verse 22].

The Spirit of God is in us. Emmanuel means, “God with us.” Upon Jesus’ death when the temple veil split down the middle, it signaled the end of temple worship. At Pentecost, the tongues of fire signaled the moving of God’s temple from the temple building to the believers, who became living temples. So are we! God is with us–Emmanuel in our hearts! Consider these verses:

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. Romans 8:5-14

IF we live according to the Spirit, and

IF we live to please God, and

IF we are led by the Spirit of God,

THEN we will have a mind that is governed by life and peace that comes from the Spirit, and

THEN we will have eternal life (beginning RIGHT NOW) because we are made righteous and ARE pleasing to God, and

THEN we are children of God.

Everyone is raised to sonship in Christ (see Galatians 3:28). Sons can inherit, which is what Paul says we will do with Christ in eternity (see Romans 8:17). But, I think there is more to it than that. Eve got her instructions from Adam (Genesis 3:2; the instructions were elaborated upon, which indicates that they were probably from Adam rather than God Himself. In fact, God gave Adam His instructions about the tree in 2:16-17 BEFORE Eve was made) whereas Adam got his from God Himself. Being a son means that we can speak to God personally and no longer need a mediator (John 16:26-27). Jesus is our Mediator for sin since His sacrifice was eternal (Hebrews 7:24-25 and Revelation 13:8), but we get to walk and talk with God Himself through His Spirit (which is also Jesus).

Since we are sons, let’s act like sons of God with true reverence, devotion, and great joy. Let’s be lavish with our money and resources, with our time and with our lives as we pour out God’s love on others. If we do it to other Christians, then others will be drawn to the fellowship we have in Christ. If we do it to unbelievers according to the leading of the Spirit, then they will be drawn to the same Spirit who guides us. It’s a win/win situation!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would know their position in You (as sons) and sense Your presence and participation in their lives. May they live out their faith which is founded on Your promises to always be with us and to never forsake us, and to bless us beyond our wildest imagination. Use us to bless others, Lord. We are Yours. Amen.

Proverbs 5 5-5-21

Discipleship is a process that begins within us and moves to the outside of us as we learn obedience to Christ.

Proverbs 5:1-2

My child, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding; That you may observe discretion And your lips may preserve knowledge.

There is no reason to consider being a witness for Christ unless we are in communion with Him routinely. We can tell others about a relationship with Christ, but they won’t believe us unless we are living in ours. In fact, hypocrisy (being intentionally two-faced) does more to damage Christianity than anything. It’s like taking hot water and cold water and mixing them. The result: tepid water. Here’s what Jesus said,

Revelation 3:15-16

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

Historically, the water came into Laodicea from two different sources and had a sulphuric smell and taste. If our hypocrisy is like this water, then we stink!

When we live surrendered lives to the Lord, then we are ready to be witnesses for Him. Christ shines out from us. People who notice and are interested in learning about this difference will seek us out. Let’s be ready to give an account for the hope, joy, and peace we have, and the love we show to others. Christ WILL grow His church; how we participate with Him personally has everything to do with how He can use us in His mission.

We must ask ourselves every morning if we are interested in joining Christ in His mission to bring people into His kingdom. Let’s be diligent in surrendering to Him each day and living for His glory.

Abba, may I surrender to You every day. I know that I cannot live on yesterday’s grace. I am one step away from stumbling. Unless I depend on You every moment for everything, I Will Stumble. Thank You, Jesus, for keeping me in Your daily grace. Call me daily and then help me to follow You. Amen.

Proverbs 5 4-5-21

What happens to us when we die? We will stand before our Maker, God the Father. What will you be wearing?

7 Now then, my children, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say.
21 For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and He examines all your paths.

When Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room after His resurrection, He gave them a promise, “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” Luke 24:49. What did His Father promise? Clothed with what power?

The night that they celebrated Passover together was only four days before. That night, Jesus told them He would send:

  1. The Advocate- John 14:16, 26, 15:26, 16:7
  2. The Spirit of Truth- John 14:17, 15:26, 16:13
  3. The Holy Spirit- John 14:26
  4. Greek: Parakleteo- He calls us, invites us, beseeches us, entreats us, even begs us; He exhorts us, admonishes us; He comforts us, encourages us, and consoles us. He is our Come-Alongside-er.

We will look at the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 a little closer to Pentecost (in 49 days-the countdown has begun).

What does it mean to be “clothed with power from on high”? For that, we look back on Jesus’ teaching in the parable of the Wedding Banquet in Matthew 22:1-14 where we find this verse:

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.

In order to stand in the presence of the King, we must be arrayed correctly. What is the option? For that, we look at 2 Corinthians 5:1-5,

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

What is our conclusion?

  1. Without the clothing of the Holy Spirit, we will stand naked before God in heaven. That in itself is terrifying!
  2. The clothing of the Holy Spirit is something we must receive BEFORE we give up these “earthly tents.”
  3. The fact that the Holy Spirit is a deposit, a guarantee, lets us know that we have a much greater body to which to look forward, one that is suitable for our heavenly dwelling.
  4. When we receive our new, immortal bodies, “Death has been swallowed up in victory” 1 Corinthians 15:54, which is a quote from Isaiah 25:8.

What a future of HOPE we have! I wonder why every person over 50 doesn’t want to reserve their heavenly bodies (our present bodies don’t work well anymore) by following Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit. Maybe we need to be telling them about Him! In fact, everyone should know about what Christ has in store for those who believe in Him, which can start today. Let’s listen to His voice today and go where He directs us, say what He tells us, and be witnesses for Him, which is what He told His disciples in Luke 24:48.

Abba, I am SO glad that You have something better in store for us! In fact, Your Word tells us that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor has it entered into our hearts what You have prepared for us who love you” 1 Corinthians 2:9. In the meantime, may we follow You with all our hearts knowing that You will lead us every step of the way. Amen.

Proverbs 5 3-5-21

Salt and Light: Personal or national? Both?
Warning: Don’t read God’s Word unless you intend to obey what He tells you in it.

1 My child, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, 2 that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.

Yesterday, we looked at the Beattitudes from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. “We find [the Beattitudes] an abstract of Jesus’ history-altering intention for establishing the kingdom of heaven as well as a clue to Matthew’s organization of his Gospel.” This quote is from a website that gives insight into the “blessings” of Jesus: The Beattitudes. Today, we continue in chapter 5 with Jesus’ illustration concerning salt and light.

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by people.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
NASB

Jesus was Jewish. He followed the Law to its fullest extent–at least, in its original intent. We must remember that it was Jesus who gave the Law to Moses; He knew its intent. He perfectly fulfilled the Law because He WAS the Law. Matthew, too, was Jewish and wrote to a Jewish audience. We must interpret everything Matthew wrote from a Jewish perspective.

Salt was used in 30 A.D. for several purposes. It was a flavoring, a preservative, and a healing agent. When salt had too many other ingredients in it, it was considered impure and was relegated to being spread on roads to keep grass and weeds from growing. I believe that Jesus was referring to the nation of Israel. Their “job” was to spread the knowledge of the LORD God (Adonai) to the nations (see Deuteronomy 4:5-8). Instead, Israel was proud, exclusive, and unapproachable, even hostile. Jesus was reminding them of their original purpose. There is one more implication to the phrase, “thrown out and trampled underfoot by people.” In 70 A.D. the Israelites were “thrown out” of Jerusalem and “trampled underfoot” by the Roman soldiers. A portend?

“You are the light of the world” is another reference to Israel’s original purpose. Jerusalem is located on the side of Mount Zion (formerly known as Mount Moriah, the same mountain on which Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac in Genesis 22, and on which David bought the threshing floor from Araunah [2 Samuel 24:15-25]; ultimately, the temple was built there [ 2 Chronicles 3:1]). Everyone went “up” to Jerusalem. Again, it was a reminder that Jerusalem was placed on a hill (the side of the mountain) in order to be a light to the nations.

In this passage, Jesus is directing the people back to the nation’s original purpose, which was to be a light to the Gentiles. Where have we heard that phrase before? Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 52:10; Isaiah 60:3; John 8:12; Acts 13:47; Acts 26:23; also, Simeon’s prophecy in Luke 2:32. Jesus is that Light. He even called Himself the light of the world in John 8:12. Jesus was always about reaching the Gentiles and He wanted to use Israel to do it. Did He accomplish His goal? Indeed! The Coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2) and the sending of Saul/Paul to the Gentiles in Acts 9:15 are evidence of His success. We are part of that plan, as well. Paul said, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky [universe-to the world] 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life” Philippians 2:14-16. In fact, the quote that Paul makes in that verse is from the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32, specifically verse 5, and redirects it to encompass Christ’s goal of reaching this “warped and crooked generation.” Wow!

Tomorrow, we will finally get to The Fulfillment of the Law.

Abba, You are amazing! And Your Word is amazing! You truly have given us everything we need for a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). May we continue to study and ponder, discuss and share the truths You show us. Amen.

Proverbs 5 2-5-21

What is a follower of Christ? “I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

13 I would not obey my teachers or turn my ear to my instructors.

Terminology is interesting. What means one thing to one person might mean something entirely different to another. So, let’s define our terminology.

(American) Christian- a person who has trusted Christ for salvation: deliverance from hell and the promise of heaven.

Follower of Christ- a person who takes the Way of Christ seriously: relationship over ritual, and His ways over the person’s ways.

I wonder when the terms got to be so far apart in meaning. The biblical definition is found in Acts 11:26, “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” If the term was meant for disciples, then let’s delve into what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

The best place to start is with what Jesus said about following Him as His disciple:

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. Luke 9:23-24

Jesus gets specific about the cost of following Him later on in that chapter:

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62

1. The first candidate might have had a love for comfort and security. Jesus warned him that following Him required giving up all comfort and security and allowing Him to provide what was needed.

2. The second candidate had family ties and responsibilities that kept him divided. “Bury my father” meant much more than a funeral. It meant staying with him and caring for him until he died. Either the man felt responsible (or was made to feel that way) or he was making sure he received his inheritance. Again, Jesus told him to leave the consequences and possible fallout to Him.

3. The third candidate was possibly looking to define how he would follow Christ and when. Jesus made it clear that once we have decided, there is no turning back. We either follow Him 100% or eventually lose our desire to continue and return to our former way of life, which can be licentious or religious—both are sinful because they are done without the involvement of Christ in their lives.

Let’s take a good look at ourselves and what we consider important in our daily lives. Are we spending time in prayer and Bible study every day? Is our relationship with Him our highest priority? Are we truly followers of Christ as He desires? “If not now, when?” (Jesus to His mom in “The Chosen”).

Abba, I choose today to follow closely to You because yesterday is gone and tomorrow depends on today. May You prompt me in the way you want me to go and to say what you want me to say; May You call my attention to what You want me to learn and help me to avoid what I don’t need to think, see or do. It’s all about You, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 5 1-5-21

Learning to trust the LORD and follow His guidance is our main task and goal in this life. Everything else follows suit.

7 Now then, my children, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say.
22 The evil deeds of the wicked [those who act with no regard for the LORD’s opinion and direction] ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. 23 For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly [actions based upon habit and not on the LORD’s guidance].

We all have fears and doubts. The world, whose god is Satan, offers us many illusions. We have feelings that betray us, so how do we know which feelings to trust? We need to learn to hear with spiritual ears and see with spiritual eyes. This illustration is used by God: Isaiah quoted Him (Isaiah 6:9-10), Jeremiah used it (Jeremiah 5:21), and Jesus quoted the Isaiah passage in Matthew 13:14-15. But, then He says, “But blessed are your [the disciples’] eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.” He is referring to Him and His message, His words. We “see and hear” Him in the Scriptures. We need to see that God has a plan, that we are part of the plan, and that we need to be about that plan WITH Him.

We combat fear and doubt with the Word of God and with His presence. The Word is our truth and it gives us inside knowledge while His presence in our lives confirms that truth and helps us internalize it, act on it, and finally understand it. 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 explains:

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

  1. The god of this age is Satan. Check it out in John 14:30 and Ephesians 2:2.
  2. They cannot see the light because they love darkness (John 3:19).
  3. That light is the Gospel, the good news about the kingdom of Christ being with us; it displays the glory of Christ, who is the exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:3).
  4. Paul and his cohorts preached Christ, and presented themselves as servants of His message.
  5. God’s glory was displayed in the Creation of the World. The same power raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at God’s right hand (Ephesians 1:19-20). That power is represented as light in us, and gives us knowledge of God’s glory that is displayed in the face of Christ. WE get to gaze upon His face because He lives in us and we encounter Him all the time! All we have to do is look up and away from whatever has our attention.

Let’s make it all about Him today. Let’s read His Word as if our lives depended on it, which they do. As we read His Word, focus on what Jesus said and did, and on what the apostles want us to know about following Him. The Spirit will help us interpret what we need at our time of need (Mark 13:11). Remember my definition of folly: Actions based upon habit and not on the LORD’s guidance. Why is habit so important?

Trusting Him in one area helps us succeed in trusting Him in other areas. Likewise, failing to trust Him in one area causes us to fail in other areas.

Jesus said, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much” Luke 16:10. Let’s be faithful in all we have and do and say.

Abba, may You be honored today in our lives as we trust in You and follow You as we read, hear and obey Your counsel from Your Word. May Your counsel be our top priority today and Your will our greatest endeavor. We love You. Even in that, help us to show our love to You through our thoughts and actions, our words and deeds. Amen.

Proverbs 5 12-5-20

Stop and ask. There is so much going on spiritually that we can’t see–we also have an adversary who is a deceiver!

1 My child, pay attention to my wisdom [ASK!], turn your ear to my words of insight…

There is quite a bit of precedent in the Word for us to consider:

  • Sarai (Sarah), Abram’s (Abraham’s) wife, didn’t stop and ask the LORD before giving Hagar to Abram to have a child (Genesis 16).
  • Joshua didn’t stop and ask when going up to take Ai (Joshua 7).
  • Joshua didn’t stop and ask concerning the Gibeonites and their deception (Joshua 9).
  • King David didn’t stop and ask how he should bring the ark of God up to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6).
  • Rehoboam (Solomon’s son) didn’t stop and ask concerning the advice given by the elders (1 Kings 12).

All of these people had major and long-term consequences:

  • Hagar bore Ishmael, who became the father of the Arabs. Nuff said.
  • 36 men were lost at Ai, a podunk town that should have been wiped out easily.
  • The Israelites couldn’t rid the land of its inhabitants (which God had commanded them) because of the pact made by the deception of the Gibeonites.
  • The death of Uzzah when the oxen stumbled and he reached out to steady the ark (it was NOT supposed to be moved on a cart, but carried by hand-see verse 13).
  • The kingdom was ripped in two because of Rehoboam’s rejection of the good advice. He lost ten tribes that day.

What about us? What do we lose and what do we have to put up with just because we didn’t stop and ask? Christ came to earth so that we can inquire of the LORD all the time. He lives in our hearts and guides our lives–when we let Him. Let’s make a habit of asking Him rather than doing what seems good in our eyes. Remember that there is a lot going on spiritually of which we are unaware and that we have an adversary who is the Great Deceiver! He’ll get us every time if we don’t stop and ask the Spirit for instructions.

“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’” Jeremiah 33:2-3

Abba, may I take my own advice. I really appreciate Your answer concerning a matter that had been consuming a lot of my attention; I have let it go and am trusting You for the future. I don’t need to “hedge any bets” concerning what is coming; You have the future well in-hand. Walking with You is fun; I’m glad You’re All-Patience as I pepper You with questions…! Lead on, Good Shepherd. I, your sheep, will follow closely. Amen.

Proverbs 5 11-5-20

What does it mean to have “Christ in us, the hope of glory?” How do we let the light of Christ shine through us?

1 My child, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, 2 that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.

LISTEN AND READ. That’s what verse one says. Listen to what? to Whom? We are listening for His voice inside us. “You will hear a voice behind you [in your ear, your mind] saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21. Christ’s habitation of us is real, yet feels perfectly natural. Why is that? BECAUSE HE CREATED US THAT WAY. We all began with a God-sized hole in us that could only be filled by Him.

What happens is this:

  1. We pray for guidance.
  2. We read His Word.
  3. We walk with Him through our day depending upon His leadership.

Tomorrow, we do the same thing. The key word in verse 2 is “maintain.” To us it is maintenance. Maintenance means “care or upkeep, support or subsistence; livelihood.” It means “consistency.” We become dependable–we depend upon Him for interpretation of what we read and then we become dependable by doing what He says. This consistency in our lives builds integrity and moral authority.

How much maintenance do you do at home? At work? It’s important for things to be in their proper place and for things to work right. So, too, in our spiritual lives. We need to be looking to Jesus for guidance, strength, discretion, and consistency. We get all of these things through our maintenance program of praying, reading and walking.

One other thing: If we are lazy in our spiritual maintenance, the enemy will blind our eyes to our need of Him. We will, then, do things in our own power, which is wickedness. There is no hope in that way of life. “For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.” V. 25. Let’s maintain discretion concerning His voice among all the other voices we hear, and preserve knowledge by hiding His Word in our hearts.

Abba, I pray for my brothers and sisters in You that they will take seriously the call to know You in Your fullness. You have made Yourself available to us through Your Spirit and Your Word; all we have to do is take advantage of both. One without the other leads to failure. May they know Your Word inside and out so that You can “show them great and mighty things that they do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). Give them thirst for You and hunger Your Word, LORD (Matthew 5:6). Me, too. Amen.

Proverbs 5 10-5-20

Daily faithfulness: That’s what God asks of us. Even when we don’t understand, or feel like it, remain faithful to the task.

8 Now then, my children, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say.

The old farmer sat on the porch with his grandson. The grandson asked him, “Grandpa, why do you read your Bible everyday? What’s the point of reading about people who lived so long ago?”
Grandpa replied, “Because these people walked with the LORD Jesus and were moved by His Spirit to write down what He said and did so that we can know Him, too.”
“But, how can knowing stories about Jesus then help us know Him now?” the grandson asked.
Grandpa answered, “The same Spirit that urged them to write those words moves in our hearts today.” He walked over to the edge of the porch and picked up a coal bucket. “If you really want to know what happens to us when we read His Word everyday and set our minds and hearts on following the LORD each day, then take this bucket down to the well, fill it up and bring it back up here to me.”
“Okay,” the grandson answered dubiously. He took the bucket and went to the well. He filled it and started back up the path to the porch, but the bucket had holes in the sides and the water leaked out. By the time he got to the porch, the bucket was empty.
“Grandpa, there are holes in this bucket! I’ll never get it up here to the porch full.”
“Nonsense. Try it again.” So the grandson marched down to the well and tried it again with the same result.
“This isn’t going to work, Grandpa.”
“Just one more time. Do it for me,” Grandpa said.
With a sigh, the grandson went down and filled the bucket. When he got back to the porch, he set the empty bucket down in front of his Grandpa and said, “See? I knew it was useless. The bucket is empty.”
Grandpa said, “Grandson, I didn’t tell you my goal. My goal wasn’t to have a full bucket of water delivered to my porch. My goal was to have the bucket rinsed of the coal residue that was in the bucket.”
The grandson’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.
“Also,” Grandpa continued, “if you’ll notice, there are flowers along the path, which you watered as you labored up the hill. Thank you.”
The grandson sat down beside his Grandfather and said, “So, what you’re telling me is that even though I don’t see progress, it’s still happening in my life when I read His Word everyday? And that I am still useful to Him even when I don’t realize it?”
“Yes. The point of Bible study and prayer is not so much to educate as it is to fellowship with our heavenly Father. That’s really what He wants. So, you just keep reading and following His instructions and when it’s all said and done, you will have been a good and faithful servant.”
“Thank you, Grandpa,” said the grandson. “I will.”
Grandpa smiled.*

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” Matthew 25:21

I don’t know about you, but I live to hear those words.

Abba, may I remain faithful in the little things because I know that You are developing my character, and that out of my character will come the will and determination to do the right thing when times get tough. Keep me depending on You, LORD. I trust You implicitly. Amen.

*This story is not original. I just told it in my own words.

Proverbs 5 9-5-20

Before coming to Christ, we lived in a state of rebellion. We were rebellious by nature. Christ changed all that!

12 “How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! 13 I would not obey my teachers or turn my ear to my instructors.”

This is how we were:

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. Ephesians 2:1-3 NLT

But, once we came to Christ for forgiveness and new life, the Holy Spirit now resides in us giving us a heart of flesh (we’re alive) and has removed our stone-dead hearts (Ezekiel 36:26).

Our new nature is based on love (John 13:34-35). We now live in a state of loving God and loving others. When we are rebellious, we put on the grave clothes from which we were delivered. Rebellion is NOT our nature, and we should be able to strip it off like old clothes, just like a dirty old coat. Look what Jesus said to do to Lazarus:

43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, Unwrap him and let him go!” John 11:43-44 NLT

Paul makes much over us putting off our old self and putting on the new self:

22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:22-24 NLT

Like I said yesterday, don’t wait for a feeling. Make a conscious, deliberate decision to do things God’s way. As you change the way you think, I promise that it will change the way you feel. If anything, we have the satisfaction of thwarting Satan in his schemes to drag us back into sin. May we all have success in whatever battle field we are fighting.

Abba, I pray for my brothers and sisters that You would give them victory in whatever area of life that is giving them trouble. May they never lose the desire to win in that area even if it takes their entire lives! To know that You are in there right alongside us fighting with us gives us courage, strength, and the will to keep going. Thank You for giving us all we need to be victorious, LORD. May we realize that we WIN just by being with You and leaning on You in our times of need. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP. Remind me again and again, Abba. I love You. Amen.

Proverbs 5 8-5-20

Ever wonder why God allows our lives to fall apart? It is so He can direct us in how to put things back together.

12 You will say, “How I hated discipline!
    How my heart spurned correction!
13 I would not obey my teachers
    or turn my ear to my instructors.
14 And I was soon in serious trouble
    in the assembly of God’s people.”
21 For your ways are in full view of the LORD,
and He examines all your paths.

I am sure that there are times when God actually afflicts His children. I think that there are times when He doesn’t stop the natural circumstances of this world, i.e. cancer, natural disasters, accidents, genetics, etc. But, I think that most of the time that which we perceive as His afflicting us is actually Him allowing us to reap the consequences of our choices, some that are deliberate rebellion and others that are made out of ignorance. Either way, we learn from these afflictions. King David did:

Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word.
71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn Your decrees.

In Christ, life becomes a practice field for us. We no longer need to worry about “making the team.” It’s all about learning to be obedient to the Spirit in how to be like Jesus: How to represent God to the world. There may be times when He tells us to “drop and give Me twenty.” In that case, it’s an attitude problem. David had them:

75 I know, LORD, that Your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. 76 May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant.

The key to this passage is in believing what Jesus has told us, what He has promised us. For instance, in Hebrews 12:4-8, we have this promise:

 

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
(“as a father the son he delights in” Proverbs 3:11-12)

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 

In my own personal creed (see Proverbs 7-29-20), I stated what I believe according to His promises to us:

In fact, I know exactly how David felt when he wrote:

92 If Your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.

Had I not known the above verses and believed them and cherished them, then I would not have learned from my situation and may have been doomed to repeat my mistakes until I learned the lesson–not by God’s hand, but by my stubborn will and poor decisions.

If we will see every problem in our lives as opportunities to grow in Christ, then we would see how God uses these predicaments to bring good for us. There is a verse that tells us this good news, but there is a catch:

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

The catch is in the phrase, “who have been called.” It implies those who are following the LORD closely, “according to His purpose.” We MUST be following the LORD closely to see the good that God is bringing out of our afflictions, both for ourselves and in ourselves and for and in others. The key is in Him asking, “Do you trust Me?” and us responding, “Yes, LORD, Yes, to Your will and to Your way.”

May we read His promises and base our next decisions on those promises. Soon we will be able to say with David, “It was good for me to be afflicted” (73).

Abba, You have taken me through some rough times. I know that TRUST COMES FROM TIME PLUS BELIEVABLE BEHAVIOR. T+BB=Trust. You are always believable and trustworthy. Thank You for Your unfailing love! May I always trust in You as I become trustworthy to You. Amen.

 

Proverbs 5 7-5-20

Our failures build resolve. They give us insight into what we need to do to have victory over sin.

1 My child, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight,  2 that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.

We each have our vulnerabilities. Our tendencies are particular to our environment, heritage, temperament, and history. God used to say, “This is how I want you to be.” Now, He says, “This is how I will make you to be if you’ll let me.” He even came into our lives so that He could work with us on our character and godliness.

Being like Jesus is our goal and it’s going to take His help, His strength, and His guidance to reach that goal. Praise His Name, He wants the very same thing for us! He is building us up into a temple for Himself. In fact, we are already mobile temples: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God. You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

With the Holy Spirit in us, we have a new nature. In fact, we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We no longer have to live according to the flesh (Romans 8:4). He calls us to follow Him and then gives us both the desire and the power to do it (Philippians 2:13). If we determine “to put off our former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24), then each day we will come to Him, asking for His daily bread (His words in print, in our heads, and in our hearts), and for Him to “create in us clean hearts and renew a right spirit within us” (Psalm 51:10), WE WILL SEE SUCCESS IN OUR LIVES OVER TIME. Jesus KNOWS how long it will take for us to kick that habit, to create new, godly habits, and to master our bodies and our minds (with some measure of success).

The nice thing is that our fellowship is not built on our successes, but on our turning to Him for assistance, guidance, and strength. The fellowship is in the CONNECTION. It’s all about the fellowship.

Today is Sunday. How about starting today with this new way of thinking? As you worship with the body of Christ, either physically or online, make it a point to commit your life to Him afresh and anew. You will experience His closeness, His love, His joy, and His peace that emanate from His Presence. Then, do it everyday. It never gets old!

The hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,  has a wonderful refrain. It’s one that we can experience right now:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace.

Abba, I pray that each reader will come to You now and place themselves smack dab in the middle of Your throne room floor. I know what You’ll do (because You’ve done it with me): You’ll come down off Your throne and sit on the floor with them, put Your arms around them and love on them. It’s a wonderful place to be!!! Thank You, Adonai, for being SO PERSONAL with each of us. May we trust You more and more as we spend more and more time with You in Your Word and in Your Presence. Amen.

Proverbs 5 6-5-20

Isn’t it time we got serious about our relationship with Christ? “Semester tests” are coming and we haven’t studied…

NOTE: #10, “Heaven,” is coming. Patience, patience…

1 My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, 2 that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.

Why become a Christian if we are not going to follow Christ? Why marry Him if we don’t want to spend every waking moment with Him–at least, that’s how I feel about Robin. I have to admit that I am hooked on His love that is so deep that I’ll never find the edges, with His peace that passes all understanding, with His joy that radiates from His throne and fills my entire being, and His companionship that gives my daily life a weight and a depth that goes beyond the mundane.

Knowing that every activity I have and do with the Spirit is a NEW THING, that together we are creating an offering to the Father that would otherwise never exist, gives my life meaning. Even my prayers are unique! I pray–even when I don’t know what to say–and He takes my prayers and transforms them into special offerings to the Father and the Son. Don’t believe me? Read this next passage:

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but [even as we pray] the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.  Romans 8:26-27

I believe that history is heading to a climax. Satan pretty much has the world where he wants it. The only thing that can hold him back is another worldwide revival. I have read reports that India is the hottest place for salvations in the world with Iran being right behind them. That’s amazing! China has always been a place of a great moving of the Spirit even in the face of great persecution. Could it be that America might be called into revival if we were being persecuted, too? It almost seemed that we might get some with the pandemic. Looking back on it, I can sure see how quickly our society can turn on us!

Rather than say, “Surely not,” let’s get before the LORD and ask Him how He wants us to serve Him, worship Him, and be witnesses for Him in the coming days. The media keeps talking about a resurgence of COVID 19 this Fall; are we ready to find creative ways to meet for prayer–even at the risk of sickness, or will we meekly quit meeting altogether and depend on the internet? The problem with the internet is that it is controlled by companies that can be manipulated. What happens if churches get censured? We would have a LOT of people stranded spiritually. What about having a network of house bible studies with everyone assigned and ready to go if the time comes? The great revival of 1857 started in a noonday prayer meeting of a few businessmen.

I take comfort from passages like Psalm 110:1-3. It’s a Messianic psalm and it describes the power and authority of our LORD Jesus Christ:

The Lord said to my Lord,
    “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
until I humble your enemies,
    making them a footstool under your feet.”
The Lord will extend your powerful kingdom from Jerusalem;
    you will rule over [in the midst of] your enemies.
When you go to war,
    your people will serve you willingly.
You are arrayed in holy garments,
    and your strength will be renewed each day like the morning dew.

Jesus even quoted verse 1 in Matthew 22:44 in reference to Himself. I take four encouragements from it:

  1. Jesus has all authority. We know that because He said so in Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
  2. Even in the midst of my enemies, I can count on Him ruling over my situation. I will NOT fear death (enough to make me shrink from it) either by sickness or otherwise, nor imprisonment (there are lots of “captive” audiences there; ask Joseph). “They triumphed over him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” Revelation 12:11
  3. We have the promise that the people of God will rise up in the face of adversity and serve Him. Now THAT’S revival! We will be arrayed in the splendor of the glory of God. That in itself will draw many and make the servants of Satan flee.
  4. Our strength will be renewed as needed. We are Spirit-driven. We will “mount up on wings as eagles, we will run and not grow weary, we will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31.

Folks, let’s be about the Father’s business. Let’s get up earlier and spend time with Him in His Word. Let’s look for opportunities to share something spiritual with people around us. Let’s meet in prayer groups. Let’s be intentional about displaying Jesus in our lives–and I’m not talking a fish on our car! Let’s be ready for that BIG DAY when our faith is tested. I want to be; don’t you?

Abba, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ that they would be able to see the signs of the times and get ready. It’s TIME! May they stop waiting for more signs; may they take this message personally; may they answer the Spirit’s call to “war.” Give us just a little more time, LORD Jesus. Help us to prepare. Amen.

Proverbs 5 5-5-20

Spiritual Realities- We need to get back to the Basics. Let’s not forget that JESUS IS COMING SOON!

1 My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
    turn your ear to my words of insight,
that you may maintain discretion
    and your lips may preserve knowledge.

As easy as it sounds, advice that requires us to change is difficult to heed. People usually think, “I’ll get around to that eventually.” It’s like a round tuit. The problem is that the circumstances that call us to finally move may make our change moot. In other words, it may be too late!

12 You will say, “How I hated discipline!
    How my heart spurned correction!
13 I would not obey my teachers
    or turn my ear to my instructors.

So, what are the Spiritual Realities that are basic to our faith?

  1. SIN SEPARATES US FROM GOD. We start with this one because it explains why we have a problem believing that God exists and/or that He would want to be actively involved in our lives. Sin is the willful disobedience of what God has told us to do or not to do. It is rebellion. We all do it everyday without thinking about it. How? By making decisions–any and all decisions–without consulting Him. We don’t because we can’t: We are dead in our sins and blind to God. Ephesians 2:1-3. This reality leads us to the next one:
  2. GOD IS REAL. We may not acknowledge Him, but He is in heaven on His throne ruling the universe. In fact, He has given all authority to his Son, Jesus Christ, Yeshua ha’Mashiach, until God has made all His enemies His footstool. This reality leads us to the next one:
  3. HEAVEN AND HELL ARE REAL. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. One day, every person will spend eternity in one or the other. Revelation 20:11-15. This reality leads us to the next one:
  4. DEATH IS UNIVERSAL, BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE FINAL. Ever since Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, everyone has died*. Yet, God has provided a way of escape from this fallen world of sin through death. This reality leads us to the next one:
  5. JESUS DIED AND ROSE AGAIN SO THAT WE COULD HAVE NEW LIFE. We are born once naturally; we need to be born again spiritually. John 3:5-6. God loves us so much that He came as Jesus to die in our place so that we could be reunited with Him! John 3:16.

The question is, “What will you do with Jesus?” To ignore Him is to choose hell. To receive Him is to accept His sacrifice for our sins, be forgiven, and to make Him Lord of our lives. BE WARNED: We can’t have forgiveness without making Him Lord of our lives. When we receive Him, He comes to live in us by way of the Holy Spirit. He is GOD and He desires that we give up our rebellious ways and follow His lead. In everything. Everyday. Without exception.

You may say, “That’s impossible!” True, in our own power. It’s a process. Look at it this way:

POSITION- We are in Christ. He has signed adoption papers and we are co-heirs with Jesus Christ! Romans 8:14-17. This position cannot change. See John 10:27-30.

RELATION- We are in a dynamic relationship with God through Jesus, through the Spirit. Becoming like Jesus is what the rest of this life is all about! We are being conformed to His image, transformed into His likeness, and are indeed Christ’s ambassadors to those around us.

Why do I share this information? For many, it’s old-hat. To be truthful, I am practicing for sharing the Gospel with others. In fact, I am making the information available to you now so that you can share it with others. As time marches on to its END, we should have more and more opportunities to share the Gospel with people, especially our neighbors and co-workers. Let’s be looking for ripe fruit!

Jesus said, My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” Let’s let His food be our food! What was His food? The soul of the woman at the well!

Abba, I pray that You would give us souls to lead to You. There is much fear because of the pandemic, but that fear has many people searching for answers. We have the answer in You, Lord Jesus! May we share faithfully and fearlessly, and may people respond to the Gospel. Even if they don’t, may we be faithful even unto death. We KNOW that the best is yet to come! I am Yours, Lord. Use me as You see fit. Amen.

The Basics of Life by 4Him

*Enoch and Elijah are the only two exceptions, and may be back to fulfill this reality. Revelation 11:1-14