Proverbs 6 11-6-22

Two different translations of the Old Testament, separated by 1300 years, yet so much alike. Even their differences have meaning!

27 Cause me to understand the way of your precepts,
    that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds. Psalm 119:27

There are several reasons listed in Jeremiah 7 for Israel’s demise. Let’s look at the first one:

LXX- 7 “But if you trust in lying words from which you cannot profit, 8 and you murder, commit adultery, steal, swear to do wrong, burn incense to Baal, and walk after foreign gods you do not know so as to do evil,9 and come and stand before Me in the house wherein My name is called and say, ‘We have not abstained from doing all these abominations,’ 10 then is this house, called by My name, a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I have seen it.”

MAS- 8 “But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. 9 ‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”–safe to do all these detestable things? 11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching!’ declares the LORD.”

There are some differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic texts.

  1. The first one is the numbering of the verses. There is a difference in interpretation in the first and second verses.
  2. The next one is what the priests say when they stand before God in the temple. In the LXX, it seems that the priests were arrogant about their sins. In the MAS, it seems the priests were deceived in their “holy acts.” Either way, they were wrong!
  3. The phrase “den of robbers” may have been a cultural phrase used in that day. It gives the impression that they can do what they want and God will not see. They should have taken to heart Psalm 94:7-11,

They say, “The Lord does not see;
    the God of Jacob takes no notice.”

Take notice, you senseless ones among the people;
    you fools, when will you become wise?
Does he who fashioned the ear not hear?
    Does he who formed the eye not see?
10 Does he who disciplines nations not punish?
    Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge?
11 The Lord knows all human plans;
    he knows that they are futile.

Another place that gives us perspective for the phrase, “den of robbers,” is Malachi 3:8-10,

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.

All of a sudden, Jesus’ cleansing of the temple makes more sense! If Jesus was equating the Israel of His day to the Israel of Jeremiah’s day, then Jesus was acting out the “den of robbers” illustration and likening them to the wicked rulers of Jeremiah’s day–with the same consequences! What was it that Jesus said His house was to be called? “My house will be called a house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13). Sounds noble, doesn’t it? But wait until you read the verses BEFORE the verse He quoted,

For this is what the Lord says:
To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
    who choose what pleases me
    and hold fast to my covenant—
to them I will give within my temple and its walls
    a memorial and a name
    better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
    that will endure forever.
And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
    to minister to him,
to love the name of the Lord,
    and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
    and who hold fast to my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain
    and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
    a house of prayer for all nations
.”

Isaiah 56:4-7

Did you catch the references? “To the eunuchs”: they were considered unclean and not allowed in the temple area. “And foreigners”: they were only allowed as far as the outer court, which the leaders had turned into a marketplace! Jesus quoted a portion of verse 7, and didn’t finish the whole thought. I believe that He wanted them to finish it in their heads! “For all nations” would have really ticked them off. Jesus was, indeed, bringing a New Covenant that was for all people, just like the angel described it in Luke 2:10, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people [nations].”

Tomorrow, we will look at yet another reason for Israel’s apostasy.

Abba, it never ceases to amaze me how accurate the Old Testament was in its prophecies and in its direct correlation to the New Testament and history. May I always be a student of Your Word. Amen.

Proverbs 6 10-6-22

Living for Christ is not something we can do on our own. We need His Spirit in us every step of the way.

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

Romans 6 is a chapter that deals with our daily lives. Paul is talking to believers who have made the commitment to follow Christ. This commitment is different than the one that many people have prayed that says, “Forgive me of my sins and come into my heart so that I can go to heaven.” Can a person be saved saying a prayer like this? Absolutely–as long as lordship is the motive of the prayer. But, the motive seems to be more about missing hell and gaining heaven than about a personal, one-on-one relationship with Jesus. How can we have His Spirit in us and live our lives as if He isn’t?

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:1-4

This baptism is something that the Spirit does to/for us. As we are raised from the dead spiritually, the Spirit of Christ makes us new in Him. We sense His presence; we feel the tension when we are at odds with Him, and we know His pleasure when we are in step with Him. This new life we are living can be and should be completely different from the one we were living, if anything, in the way we love others by considering them first in all things. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we let them have their way; their way may not be good for them–or us. It means that we consider their needs before our own preferences.

As we continue to look at this chapter, we will discover that beyond our baptism, dying to ourselves daily is necessary.

Abba, may we take seriously our “baptism” into You. Being buried with Christ and then raised with Christ marks a new life for us. But, we cannot do it alone. We need You to lead us. The Spirit of Christ in us is our hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). Take us higher up and further in, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 6 9-6-22

There is an apparent contradiction in the Old Testament–or is it there on purpose?

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

The apparent contradiction is as follows:

Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”
So the king said to Joab and the army commanders with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.”
2 Samuel 24:1-2

Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, “Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are.” 1 Chronicles 21:1-2

So, which is it? Was it a clerical error? Was it the authors’ own opinions? Why would God allow a “mistake” in His Word? I’m glad you asked!

We know that “the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times” (Psalm 12:6). Proverbs also tells us, “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6). Taking the words of the LORD as our foundation, everything else is built on top of it. If God allowed both editorials on who motivated David to take the census, then we must accept that God wanted us to see this apparent contradiction. Consider this:

Could it be that God wanted us to understand that every person born before Christ had a veiled view of Him (2 Corinthians 3:14-15)? The version given by the author of Kings had a traditional view of God as King of Israel. Less than 100 years previously, God WAS the King and Leader of Israel (theocracy). Then, the people asked for a king, so God gave them Saul. Saul died, and David became king. Given the troubled history of the Israelites from the Exodus (1459 BC), through the rule of the judges to Saul (1050 BC), it was no wonder that the people had a warrior view of God, especially since the writer of Kings (possibly Jeremiah according to Jewish tradition) lived during the Diaspora (605-535 BC).

What I appreciate is God’s way of setting the record straight. The writer of Chronicles was a priest (possibly Ezra according to Jewish tradition) during the Diaspora, and gives the corrected view of how God works in our lives:

  • Satan rises up against us (either actively or passively through our sinful world and our corrupt flesh) and tempts us.
  • We succumb and fall into sin.
  • God punishes/corrects His children through the consequences of our sin. The good news is that He walks with us through them and, somehow, turns them into blessings (Romans 8:28).

For me, the coolest part of the story is the end as told in 1 Chronicles:

  • The angel of the LORD (the pre-incarnate Christ?) stood at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. v15
  • David repented. vs 16-17
  • The Angel of the LORD had David build an altar there. v18
  • When David offered the sacrifice and “called on the LORD, the LORD answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering.” v26
  • The plague was stopped. v27
  • The threshing floor is the place upon which the Temple was built! It was also the place where Abraham offered his son to the LORD in sacrifice (God intervened). Twice, on this very place, God had mercy!

God is, indeed, a Romans 8:28 God!

Abba, Your thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts! Thank You for showing us that without You to open our eyes, ears, thoughts, and our hearts, we cannot comprehend Your Word. May we always look to You for wisdom, insight, and understanding. May we not be afraid to ask, to seek, and then to knock. Amen.

Proverbs 6 8-6-22

God’s design of the human ear – Part 1

18:15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. Romans 10:17

About 3.5 years ago, I noticed that my left ear sounded like it was next to a commercial air conditioner. As I listened, I realized that I had significant hearing loss in that ear. I went to a specialist who tested my hearing and I was right, about -60 on their scale. They tried a series of injections into my eardrum–that was weird– with a steroid/antibiotic and I recovered quite a bit of my hearing; I moved to a -25. Over time, I believe that I have recovered even more hearing. The doctor had described to me what he thought had happened: a virus had attacked my inner ear. I reckon he was right! I didn’t understand what he was telling me because I had no real knowledge of the ear’s workings. I do now. Let’s read about The Hearing Ear from A Guide To the Human Body pg. 33-35.

The ears can hear everything, from the faint ticking of a small watch to the roar of a jet engine, a range of volume of nearly one million to one! It is fitting that one of the most marvelous organs in the body should be used to hear the Word of God.
Most sounds are produced by something vibrating, such as vocal cords or loudspeakers. These vibrations produce compressed pulses of air molecules that bump into other air molecules, which in turn bump into others and continue in this way until they reach our ears. The ear of a young person can sense as few as 20 pulses per second (for low-pitched sounds) and as many as 20,000 pulses per second (for high-pitched sounds).

Our ears are made up of three parts: The outer ear (air), the middle ear (bone), and the inner ear (fluid). We will look at the outer ear today.

The outer ear includes the pinna [the part we see], the ear canal, and the eardrum.
[The pinna] has a complicated cup-like shape designed to catch the sound waves from the air. Having two ears helps us to detect what direction sounds come from. Not only can they detect sounds from the left or right, but our pinnae can detect sounds from front, behind, above, or below us.
The ear canal is about 1 inch long and a little over a third of an inch in diameter. It efficiently channels sound waves to the eardrum. Lining the ear canal are special glands that produce earwax (cerumen). This wax lubricates the ear canal, preventing irritation and fighting bacteria.
For most people, the ear canal is self-cleaning. Ear wax traps dust particles, which are then removed from the ear canal (along with the wax) by an amazing conveyor-belt mechanism.
The eardrum (tympanic membrane) plays the final and starring role in the outer ear. Sound waves entering the ear canal cause the eardrum to vibrate. The minute movements of the eardrum are then passed on to the small bones in the middle ear.

Tomorrow, we will look deeper into the ear, which is where it gets exciting! We learn about bones that enable us to hear: The Hammer, the Anvil, and the Stirrup.

Abba, the sense of sound is one that we take for granted. Without realizing it, we can damage our ears with loud music, constant percussive noise, and noise levels that go beyond the limits of our ears. Many times, we won’t reap the whirlwind of hearing loss until we are older. Help us to be good stewards of our bodies, Lord, beginning with our ears. Amen.

Proverbs 6 7-6-22

God is Jesus is God. If we want to know who God is, then we must look at Jesus. He is God in the flesh.

Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
    Whose hands have gathered up the wind?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?
    Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is the name of his son?
    Surely you know!

Yesterday, we determined that Jesus is the revealed Word of God. In John 10:30, Jesus states, “I and the Father are one.” We can trust what Jesus says to be entirely accurate and truthful about the nature, character and intention of God the Father. The Trinity is a core belief for Christians: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, Three-in-One. In fact, Hebrews 1:1 begins with this epic passage,

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

The purpose for the Advent of Jesus Christ in this world was for God the Father to reveal Himself to us. He told Philip, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9). The study of the words of Jesus will give us clarity into the character of God the Father, but there is an aspect missing from this equation: God the Holy Spirit. We can learn facts, but unless the Spirit speaks to us, we have no real understanding. Jesus said, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you” (John 12-15).

Let’s review what we know:

  1. Jesus is the Word of God- John 1:1-3,14
  2. Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets- Matthew 5:17-18
  3. Words of Jesus are from the mouth of God- Matthew 22:37-38, Luke 6:47
  4. The Spirit helps us interpret the OT through Jesus- Matthew 17:3-8, 19:8

Anytime we read the Old Testament, we need to read it through the lens of Jesus. HE is the clear picture of the Father. God the Father, in the Old Testament, is seen through veiled eyes (2 Corinthians 3:14-15). Jesus came to take away the veil (2 Corinthians 3:16). May we hold loosely to that which came before Christ, and hold tightly to Jesus. He is the revelation of God the Father, “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3).

Abba, when I read the OT, I get confused; the picture of You is not very clear. When I read Jesus’ description of You, I see you clearly. You are our loving Father, our Good Shepherd. May we hold tightly onto what Jesus said and hold loosely any other version of you, Abba. Thank You, Jesus, for revealing the Father to us! Amen.

Proverbs 6 6-6-22

Respect is something the Lord asks us to give to our rulers and authorities whether they deserve it or not!

29:18 Where there is no revelation [Christian example], people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.

Paul’s letter to Titus brings bad breaks for bureaucrat bashers. Here’s what he told Titus:

3:1 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

This passage doesn’t leave a lot of room for debate. I reckon the best place to start is by not talking judgmentally about them. We can respectfully disagree with their policies and decisions, but when it comes down to it, we are to be obedient. Of course, our first allegiance is to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Everything else is subject to respect and obedience. How else can God show Himself mighty if we don’t allow Him room to move?

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 

What we need to remember is that we all start out facing the darkness. We all need Jesus. We would do well to consider every person, “good or bad,” as a prospective–even future–sibling in Christ and one of His sheep for whom He died and is in the process of searching for them.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 

The key words in this passage are “kindness,” “love,” “saved,” and “mercy.” Remember that Christ forgave His executioners, both physical and political; we, too, are forgiven, restored, and remade in His image through His kindness, love and mercy. There are three metaphorical terms used, as well. They are “washing,” “rebirth,” and “renewal.”

  • Washing- We are washed by His blood and made clean, not just covered.
  • Rebirth- Jesus gives us the opportunity to start over with Him. With the acceptance of the Holy Spirit, we are awakened spiritually and it’s as if we are “born again.”
  • Renewal- Our relationship with the Father is renewed. Another word is restored. In fact, our relationship with the Trinity has moved to a higher dimension. He now lives with us in close communion all the time. He has removed our blinders and we see Him with spiritual eyes and hear Him with spiritual ears.

This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

We are to devote ourselves to doing what is good. If we confine “good” to this chapter, we know exactly the “good” we are supposed to do: Be subject (respectful) and obedient to rulers and authorities, slander no one, be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. When we are successful in these areas, we are different from the world (see verse 3) and draw great attention to Christ. We are the aroma of Christ to the world (2 Corinthians 2:14-15). Seeing people as He sees them is, indeed, seeing them in a different light–His light!

Abba, please open our eyes to Your beautiful truth. You love everyone! May we spread Your fragrance to everyone around us, even the “unlovable”–especially the “unlovable!” Amen.

Proverbs 6 5-6-22

Sharing Jesus is simple. We tell what we were like before we met Jesus, how we met Him, and how He has changed us.

25:11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word aptly given.

The gospel is simple. It’s the other stuff that blows our minds. Billy Graham once said, “Jesus gave us His thoughts in pictures so that we can think His thoughts.” What metaphors are used in the Bible to give us word pictures of Jesus?

One great picture is the Passover Lamb. We have it in Exodus and in John 1:29,

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

We have the picture of Him being our Rescuer,

13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14

Jesus is also our intermediary, much like President Trump’s peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

15 His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. Ephesians 2:15-16

We have the word picture of Jesus as the Bread that comes down from heaven (John 6), the Light of the World (John 1 and 8), the Gate for the sheep and the Good Shepherd (John 10), and the Vine (John 15). Each of these pictures gives us a view of Jesus that is different than the rest, yet He is all of these–and more!

My point is that salvation, God’s plan for us and our world, and eternity in general is outside our purview. Because we are in it, we can’t back away far enough to see it. For instance, when the disciples asked Him if He was getting ready to restore the kingdom to Israel, Jesus answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority” (Acts 1:7). We would do well to hold all ideas of how the world ends very loosely. I doubt if anyone will be going, “Aha! See, I told you!”

Let’s stand fast in what we know: Jesus saves!

Abba, You have Your plans and You ask for no man’s advice (Romans 11:34). Thank You for involving us in Your plan to reach everyone. May we trust You to make Yourself known to each person on earth through missions, dreams, visions, and sharing one-on-one. However You want to do it, Lord! Amen.

Proverbs 6 4-6-22

Created in the image of God? You bet we were! Deceived by the enemy, yes, we were. Still loved by God? Indeed!

16 There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
17         haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
        hands that shed innocent blood,
18         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
        feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19         a false witness who pours out lies
        and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Why? Because they draw us away from the Fellowship of the Trinity and destroy us.

Evidently, Jesus sees something in us that He likes. Are we good? He thinks we are. Do we have worth? He thinks we do. He came to save us from the deception that because of what we DO, God can’t love us anymore and we are worthless. On the contrary, we are God’s creation and He sees us as very good*; there is nothing we can DO to make us any less than His creation. John had plenty to say on the subject:

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. John 1:14

Obviously, Jesus saw something good in us. He came to get us back, which is why the Word became flesh.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Again, God loves us; that in itself says everything.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— John 10:14

Jesus calls us His sheep. Sheep have worth.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

The vine gives the branches their worth. Our connection to the vine proves we have worth.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

Want to know what Jesus thinks of you? Here it is! He wants us with Him and to see His glory. He wants us to take part in the Fellowship of the Trinity! He doesn’t just love us; He likes us. He is “especially fond of us.”

Jesus speaks of kernels of wheat in John 12:24. The kernel needs transformation. We are the same way. We need the transformation of the Spirit, “…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” Romans 12:2. His Spirit is the Activator of the new life that is in each of us, just like that kernel of wheat.

The greatest verse about what Jesus thinks of us is John 19:30, 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” Jesus proved His love for us, our worth to Him, and that we are good because we are His creation, His sheep, and His branches. He desires our company forever! I love this quote:

I asked Jesus how much He loves me.
He said, “I love you this much,”
and He stretched out His hands and died.

The next time the enemy tells you that you are no good, turn to Jesus and ask Him what He thinks of you. I promise you that He will always affirm you as His child with all the royal benefits that go with that position.

Abba, thank You for holding up a mirror to me and explaining what I was looking at: Your creation, created very good. Your death on the cross and subsequent resurrection proved Your love for me and sets me free from believing the lies of the enemy. Your presence in my life sustains my true view of You and of myself. Your Spirit transformed my little kernel into a stalk of spiritual life. It’s what You do in each of us as we give ourselves to You. The refrain of “Forever Reign” speaks my heart to You,

Oh, I’m running to Your arms, I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

Amen.

*Genesis 1:27, 31, Jeremiah 31:3, Psalm 139:13-16, 1 John 3:1

Proverbs 6 3-6-22

The Father loves me, this I know, for Jesus told me so.

16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to Him: #1 Haughty eyes…

I had an interesting experience last Thursday evening. I had just finished singing/playing in the Singing Churchmen concert at First Baptist Church, Ponca City, and was headed out of town. I stopped to get gas at an OnCue and went in to get some coffee for the late trip home. A woman was talking to the cashier in a friendly way; when she finished her conversation with the cashier, she noticed my “SCM” shirt (it has a logo) and struck up a conversation with me.

Karen is an interesting person who has lived an interesting life, and wanted to tell me all about it. One particularly interesting part is her being raised Southern Baptist, but was introduced to Pentecostal ways, which included healing. She had been in a car accident when she was younger and went to a healing service. She said that she was healed! I stretched at that point and she took it as a sign that I was in pain. She offered to pray for me. I declined because I wasn’t in pain. We finished our conversation and she told me that she would pray for me as I drove home. I thanked her and told her I would do the same for her, which I did when I was back in my truck.

As I got in the truck, my arm reminded me that I had badly strained my bicep back in January and had reinjured it that afternoon at rehearsal (actually, it was break time and I hurt it goofing off on the stairs; I know, “surprise, surprise”). I thought to myself that I should have asked Karen to pray for my arm. “Oh, well, Lord, I guess You can answer her prayer now as she prays for me,” I prayed.

Evidently, Karen WAS praying for me! When I got up Friday, I had full use of my arm. It still twinges and tingles some, but it is remarkably better–even better than it was before I reinjured it. I was once again reminded of two things:

  1. Never look down on other peoples’ experiences with the Lord (don’t be haughty);
  2. The Father loves us incredibly much, more than life itself. He proves it in a variety of ways. In this case, He answered the prayer of His child, Karen, whom I will probably never meet again this side of heaven.

I will always be grateful to Karen for her joy, willingness to share her story, and her faithfulness to pray. I want to be known for those qualities, too.

Abba, today is a special day; we get to spend it with our brothers and sisters in Christ. May we worship together, sing together, study together and pray for each other–out loud, right then and there. May we not be afraid to be known as people of immediate prayer, even laying on hands to do it. Take us higher up and further in, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 6 2-6-22

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Who knew? It’s the Gospel in a nutshell.

23 My command is a lamp and my teaching a light, and my reproofs for discipline are the way of life.

The preamble of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) begins with the above-quoted verse (5:3), which is the first of the Beatitudes. I have been reading an interesting book entitled, “A More Christlike Way,” by Bradley Jersak. On page 145, Bradley begins a study of the Sermon on the Mount, in which he states that the first half of each Beatitude is about Christ and the second half is about us becoming like Christ. Let’s try it:

  1. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus became poor so that we could become rich (Corinthians 8:9). He humbled and emptied Himself for our sake so that we could inherit His kingdom (Philippians 2:6-8).
  2. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Jesus mourned our loss–we lost sight of Him, His love, and we turned away from His light, His life. He then came looking for us (Luke 15:3-9) because He had compassion on us (Matthew 9:36).
  3. “Blessed are the gentle (meek), for they shall inherit the earth.” Jesus was meek and gentle with us (Matthew 11:29) because He loves us (John 13:34). Because of His gentle spirit, we are part of the process of gaining the whole earth as prophesied by Daniel (Daniel 2:44).

And so they go. Bradley goes on to say that the Sermon on the Mount is designed to show us what walking in the Spirit looks like. Jesus paved the way and then gave us His Spirit (which is actually Him) to teach us, show us, and empower us to walk the Jesus Way.

More on the Sermon on the Mount tomorrow.

Abba, thank You for Jesus’ notes on godly living. Thank You for the desire and the power to do Your will and live like Jesus (Philippians 2:13). May today be a day of celebration as we continue on the Jesus Way. Amen.

Proverbs 6 1-6-22

What was it that Jesus accomplished on the cross? Good question! Let’s begin to look into it and see…

24 to preserve you from the evil woman [the temptations of destructive pleasure]…

Christ’s work on the cross is finished. I don’t pretend to know all He accomplished by going to the grave and then coming out three days later, but I do know that whatever He did was a completed work. There is a verse in John 1 that sums up what He did,

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name,

In John 3:16, it says “that whoever believes in him.” What is it that we are supposed to believe? In John 6:29, Jesus says, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” He goes on to say in verse 53, “Truly I say to you, unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you. But if you do, you have eternal life…” “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life (v63).” Later on, in the upper room, He told His disciples to eat the bread, for it is representative of His body, the ministry of His earthly life. In the same way, He told them to drink from the cup, for it represented His blood, which would be poured out at the cross, the price for mankind’s destructive nature.

While on the cross, Jesus prayed for His Father to forgive those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34). Was He talking about just the Roman soldiers, or was He talking about all who had a hand in His crucifixion? Since the soldiers were simply doing their jobs, I believe that He was referring to the religious leaders, the Roman leaders, and everyone who went along with it–basically, the whole world. Since He and the Father are one, I must assume that the Father replied, “Done,” which is actually the end of Psalm 22, which states the completion of Christ’s work on the cross,

31 and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, that he has wrought it.

The qualifier is this, that a person believes that Jesus is the Christ:

  1. We believe that He is God the Son, Creator of the Universe and our Messiah.
  2. We confess Him as Lord and pledge our lives to Him.
  3. He commands us to follow Him away from darkness and into His glorious light.
  4. We receive Him and His forgiveness, both of which have been freely offered to everyone.

Tomorrow, we will look at how this forgiveness that has been extended to all people and how it played out in the spiritual world as we look at Romans 11:32, 2:1, and 1:18.

Abba, the hugeness of what You accomplished on the cross amazes me. I’ve been a follower of You for 54 years and a minister for 38 of those years, and I am just now beginning to understand the vastness of it all. May You continue to reveal salvation to me and all it entails, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 6 12-6-21

Read to learn, not just to get done. Read to hear, not just to learn.

20 My child, keep your father’s commandment…21 bind them on your heart always…

As I was reading yesterday’s Proverbs chapter, verse 21 caught my eye, so I googled it:

Lexicon Proverbs 5:21
click on biblehub.com

What I found was very interesting.

 Proverbs 5:21 
NASB LexiconNASB ©HebrewStrong’sOrigin
For the ways דַּרְכֵי־ (dar·chei-) 1870: way, road, distance, journey, manner- from darak
of a man אִ֑ישׁ (ish;) 376: man- from an unused word
are before נֹ֨כַח (no·chach) 5227: in front of, opposite to- from an unused word
the eyes עֵינֵ֣י (ei·nei) 5869: an eye- of uncertain derivation
of the LORD, (Yah·weh) 3068: the proper name of the God of Israel- from havah
And He watchesמְפַלֵּֽס ׃ (me·fal·les.) 6424: to weigh, make level- denominative verb from peles
all וְֽכָל־ (ve·chol-) 3605: the whole, all- from kalal
his paths. מַעְגְּלֹתָ֥יו (ma’·ge·lo·tav) 4570: an entrenchment, track- from the same as egel

The phrase, “and He watches,” leaves us thinking that God may have a great big hammer that He is going to use on us. But, the rest of the definition shows us that God wants to:

  1. Watch our path; other translations use “examine,” “observe,” “survey,” and, “ponder,” to name a few.
  2. Weigh– the best route for us. He can see ahead and He knows what is good for us relationally with Him and what is harmful. He doesn’t want us to suffer wrath (consequences).
  3. Make level– He even goes ahead of us and smooths out the way for us. Does He make it easy? Certainly not. We learn from resistance, not routine. Resistance makes us discern and decide, and it makes us stronger. Too much routine puts us to sleep; after a while, we go on stand-by and quit thinking. To me, making our paths level means that God makes it clear to us which is the best path to take. It may not be the easiest or the most fun, but it IS the best path.

So, now when I read this verse, I see the loving God that Jesus says He is. And, if I do not heed His direction, then I suffer verse 22,

22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast.

Notice that in both cases (deeds of the wicked and the cords of their sins) are the result of their lack of trust in the Lord’s choice of paths. The consequences of their choices are what punish them. Even then, adversity is a great task-master:

20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction [by allowing us to endure the consequences of our own actions], your teachers will be hidden no more [obvious to you]; with your own eyes you will see them [the Lord’s hand in our discipline]21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you [the Holy Spirit], saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:20-21

It wasn’t until I began to read the OT in light of Jesus’ revelation of the character of the Father (i.e. LOVE) that I read this verse correctly. It makes me wonder what else I need to study…!

Abba, please keep opening my eyes to the truth of who You are. I want to know Your character so that I can build it in my life. I want wisdom, understanding and knowledge (Proverbs 24:3-4), so that I can be just like You, Jesus. Spirit, lead me, and I will follow no matter what awaits me on that path, for You will be with me. Who could ask for anything more?! Amen.

Proverbs 6 11-6-21

We tend to view things along certain parameters of knowledge and experience. Learning something new is uncomfortable.

10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest [spiritual inactivity]–and [spiritual] poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.

People who look for counterfeit money do not study counterfeit money, but the real thing. Any abnormalities are immediately spotted. We want to do the same thing with truth. The problem is that our minds automatically adjust what we hear and read to a prescribed format. Take, for instance, the phrase, “They are now in the grave.” I typed this the other day and my auto-correct changed the word “grave” to “grace.” Even while I was making a note on my phone for this post it did it again! “Grace” not a bad option; it’s just not what I intended.

Our theology works the same way. In order to consider a new idea or concept, we must be aware that we have certain precepts built into our background, which is good–to a point. So, how do we determine what is good and what needs scrutiny? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). In other words, He is the way to truth and life. Let’s run everything through the lens of Jesus, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. Trust me, it’s not easy! In fact, it’s downright mind-blowing!

Jesus said that He came to fulfill (complete) the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17). Jesus completed their job, which was to point to Him (John 5:39). Jesus inaugurated a new covenant at the Lord’s supper and was referring to His blood that was to be spilled out during the crucifixion (Luke 22:20). From that point on, only Jesus matters. If it doesn’t line up with what Jesus taught, then we are to not put it on the same level with Jesus’ words and teachings. Here is a for-instance:

I have heard it taught that God turned His face away from Jesus while He was on the cross. Not True! I get their reason: God needed to punish mankind for their sin, so He poured His wrath out on Jesus. But, consider this:

  1. The Psalm that Jesus quoted was Psalm 22. Verse 1 is exactly what Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Taken at face value and if we read and know nothing else, I can see how a person might see it as God turning away. But, if you read the rest of the psalm, you find that in verse 24, it says, “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one [Jesus]; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”
  2. A technique of writing is the question/answer kind. The psalmist begins with a question and then answers it later in the psalm. Psalm 22 is just such a psalm, as is Psalm 6 (verses 3 and 9), Psalm 13 (verses 1 and 5-6), Psalm 62 (verses 3 and 5-6), Psalm 94 (verses 3 and 15, 23), and several others.
  3. Nearly all Jews knew Psalm 22. It was part of their early memorization and part of their weekly synagogue readings. Once Jesus began the psalm, every Jew within earshot would finish it in their minds. That particular psalm has several specific references to the crucifixion, which was going on at that time:
    1. 7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.” Compare to Matthew 27:39, “those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads.”
    2. 8 “He trusts in the LORD, let the LORD rescue him.” Compare to Matthew 27:43, “He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him.”
    3. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.” The body weight pulls the bones out of joint.
    4. 16 “They pierce my hands and my feet.” Compare to John 20:25 and 27, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” “Thomas, put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” The feet are implied as per crucifixion methods.
    5. 18 “They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” Compare with Mark 15:24, “And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.”
    6. 31 “He has done it!” In the Greek of the day, “It is finished!” Compare with John 19:30, “Jesus said, ‘It is finished.'”
    7. Jesus’ reference to this particular psalm identified Him as the Messiah, for it was considered a Messianic psalm.

My conclusion: Knowing that Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” (Hebrews 1:3), I can say with confidence that God died in Christ that day on the cross. His body took all our sin and the spiritual consequences (separation from God and its torment) and deposited them in the grave. That’s not a court room scene; that’s a Rescue Operation! And that’s how I choose to see God, as one of love, one who loves the world so much that He came to earth to rescue mankind so that we can be reunited with Him. It’s all there in John 3:16-17.

Abba, thank You for loving us and coming to rescue us. You are amazing! I love You! Amen.

Proverbs 6 10-6-21

We all died in Christ. Now, the only thing left to do is be born again! Sin is dead; now we get to be dead to sin.

9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?
4 Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids.
23 For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction [repentance] and instruction [in the way of the Lord] are the way to life.

We continue this morning with our look at 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, specifically verses 16-17.

Allegorically, we are in a dungeon because of Adam’s sin. Chains are around our wrists and ankles, but the door is now standing wide open because Jesus opened all the doors to our cells when He died on the cross as He our Representative, the New Adam (Romans 5:15). Everyone is “dead” to the sentence that holds us in the cell. Since everyone on earth is dead concerning sin because of Christ’s death, we all need now is a resurrection. Fortunately, Christ has also provided that for us, too. Paul tells us in Romans 6:4,

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

Jesus said, “You must be born again. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” John 3:3, 6. We all must come to Jesus for life. He offers it to us freely if we will just respond to Him. He does the rest:

  1. He picks us up from our position outside of the Father and places us beside Him;
  2. He breathes new life into us by placing His Spirit in us;
  3. He restores us spiritually, mentally/emotionally, and, in many ways, physically;
  4. He places the ring of sonship on our finger (ladies, you, too) and gives us the robe and sandals of sonship;
  5. He signs adoption papers and gives us a throne near His!

In our dungeon allegory, Christ comes to us and says, “Arise!” The chains fall off our hands and feet, we take His hand and get up, and walk right out of that cell (it’s actually a grave).

Paul continues,

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

Paul gives a little insight into his past. He had regarded Christ as just a man who was leading his nation astray, but now He views Him as his “great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Nor does he regard people from his former point of view, but now as potential brothers and sisters in Christ. We should, too. In fact, we should view our spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ as new creations, not holding their past against them nor allowing ourselves to judge them according to their past. “The old has gone, the new is here!”

Anyone can now respond to Christ, and everyone’s invited. All they need is an invitation, which we will cover tomorrow.

Abba, thank You for making me a new creation in Christ. My old desires and perspectives are gone and now I see things from Your perspective (at least, that’s what I am working to attain). May You and I work together to make me more like You. I would like that very much! Amen.

Proverbs 6 9-6-21

Jesus is King of the Universe. He knows all things intimately. What would you like to know? Ask Him. Then start reading!

20 My child, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching [concerning the Lord and His Word]. 21 Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck.

Here’s how my morning has gone:

  • I got my coffee and my Bible stuff and sat down in my place (a reclining couch with a tv tray beside it).
  • I got my notecards and went through the daily cards* and then the weekly cards.
  • I then journaled a prayer to the Lord. This morning’s was one of thanksgiving for such a powerful morning at church yesterday.
  • Then came my Bible study. I read the Proverbs chapter for the day and then wherever I am studying, which is 1 Corinthians. As I read the passage (6:12-20), I realized that these are sayings that were popular at Paul’s time. I googled the passage and learned that people were using that saying to justify sexual sin. All of a sudden the entire passage came into focus!

Each morning as I go through this routine, I am conscious of His presence with me. I don’t necessarily feel Him, but I know He is here. What I do feel is my mind being fashioned to see new concepts and accept new knowledge. I ask Him to open my mind to the knowledge I now have, and open my heart to apply this new knowledge to myself. Then, I ask Him for the wisdom to teach this knowledge to others.

This daily process has become not only my favorite time of the day, it is vital in keeping me fresh concerning worship, ministry, teaching Sunday’s Cool (Sunday School), my relationship with Robin, my kids, my grandkids, friends, etc. It’s like I’m being made new each day–wait; I AM!

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

May you create your own routine to spend time with the King of the Universe. He has SO MUCH to share with us.

Abba, thank You for calling me into a time of fellowship with You. When I focus on You, I can sometimes sense Your presence, but I always know You are here with me, in me. I enjoy Your participation, I catch a reflection of Your love, joy, and peace, and I learn so much from You! I truly feel prepared to meet the challenges of the day. I’m saddled up**; let’s ride! Amen.

*These are notecards of verses I use to prepare my heart for fellowship with Jesus, and verses that I am memorizing. There is also a prayer card of people for whom I pray every day. The weekly cards are more of the same. I have cards I memorized that I go over, and groups of people for whom I pray.

** The Great Adventure by Steven Curtis Chapman

Proverbs 6 8-6-21

“Why do I need Jesus?” There is grave danger for those who do not consider this question sometime in their lives.

10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest–11 and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man [spiritual poverty and eternal separation await those who put off making Jesus Lord].

I stumped myself the other day. I wrote down, “Why do I need Jesus?” and I didn’t know where to begin. What would I say to someone who asked me that question?

I could tell him about the wonderful relationship that he can have with the God of the universe who wants to have a personal relationship with him! I could explain that God loves us so much that He came as Jesus to die in our place, but then I would need to explain sin, propitiation, and surrender:

  1. Sin-that which separates us from having a relationship with the Father. It is our rebellion, but it’s more than that. It’s what we become when we don’t have the Holy Spirit in us. It’s evil, aberrant behavior, selfishness, rage, hatred, malice, and so much more. We are addicted to it and cannot be free of it even if we wanted to, which we don’t (without His help).
  2. Propitiation-the substitution of one thing for another; in this case, Jesus’ death for our death. He took the weight and penalty of our sin upon Himself and then died, thus taking that sin to the grave. We no longer can be held accountable for our sin–unless we refuse to receive that pardon from Jesus. He bought our life and He asks us for our life. If we give it to Him, then He gives us His Spirit, which is actually Jesus in Spirit form. If we refuse, then we do NOT receive the Spirit and we will go into eternity unprepared. It will be like leaving the space station without wearing a space suit.
  3. Surrender– the giving of our lives to him in total and complete submission. We count ourselves dead to sin and our selfishness and alive to His Spirit. We respond to His moving in our minds and hearts so that we no longer follow our feelings, our heart (so to speak), our habits, or any person other than Christ.

I think what I would start with is this: We all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts that only God can fill. It’s not an original concept; in fact, it’s centuries old,

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
– Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII(425) 1670 AD

Until he comes to terms with the fact that he has this God-shaped hole, there is no reason to press the matter. I will answer any questions he has about faith, my testimony, and the Bible concerning salvation (I won’t argue Creation vs. Evolution, Eschatology, or anything else that does not lead directly to the Gospel), but I am waiting on him to confess his need for God to fill that void. Conviction comes through a person hearing the Gospel and the Holy Spirit calling to his attention his need for God. It’s up to him to decide; God will not force him. At the same time, I perceive that the Lord is working in his life, therefore I pray and strive until that decision is made.

All I said up front is true, and I hope to be able to share my own story with him about Jesus rescuing me and coming to live in my life, about how my life is full and complete because of Christ in me, and how I sense His love and His genuine enjoyment of my presence and my company. I want him to know Christ as I know Christ. This is why I am constantly ready to give an account for the hope I have in Christ, and doing it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15), out of true love for people as potential brothers and sisters in Christ.

Have you worked out what you would say? Maybe it’s time to write some things down and have them handy.

Abba, may You urge us to do just that and to be ready at a moment’s notice to explain what Christianity is and what it’s about, and to testify about what it means to us. Sharing our story of what Jesus did for us and means to us should be one of the most thrilling moments of our lives! Give us power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). We are Your servants. Amen.

Proverbs 6 7-6-21

Struggling in your walk with Christ? We may be making it harder than it should be…

3 So do this, my child, to free yourself…Go–to the point of exhaustion…4 allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. 5 Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

What is it that hinders us from following the Lord wholeheartedly? Knowing is half the battle. Once we know, then we can turn our focus and energy to dealing with it. It may sound easy, but most victories are won one battle at a time until ultimate victory is accomplished. So it is with anything in our lives that hinders us. Here’s what the writer of Hebrews says,

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Hebrews 12:1

The writer calls that which hinders sin. Sin means, “to miss the mark.” We KNOW we miss the mark of perfection (doing everything right according to God). So, how do we throw it off, and how do we keep it from keeping us down? The good news is that Jesus has already done it! Let’s read the rest of verse 1 and then verse 2,

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

  • The race marked out for us is God’s will for our lives.
  • The Person we are to fix our eyes upon is Jesus.
  • He is the Beginner and the Ender of faith, which means that He carries both sides of the New Covenant. Not only are we not held accountable for any sin–past, present or future, He has changed what sin does in our lives. It’s like it used to bind us, but now it’s just dead weight that we can take off, as if it were hand and leg irons that came undone.

Do we need, then, to ask forgiveness for sin that we can’t seem to give up? The word we are to activate is, “confess,” which means to agree with God that what is wrong is wrong. This is the “knowing” part of the battle. The second part has to do with Romans 8:15. Let’s look at it:

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

  • The Spirit we received is the Spirit of Christ Jesus (see Romans 8:9-10).
  • We are no longer slaves, but sons!
  • We no longer have to live in fear.
  • We cry out, “Daddy!” to the heavenly Father.

Jesus Himself now lives in each of us giving us victory over “everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” To rid ourselves of besetting sin (embedded habits), Jesus asks us to:

  1. Acknowledge that we have the habit and that it is a problem.
  2. Give Him the problem and ask for His help.
  3. Do the next thing He asks of you.
  4. Each time you fall, confess and begin again.
  5. The Spirit is always specific and encouraging. If you hear condemning words that make you want to quit trying, just realize that you are hearing from the enemy.
  6. Rejoice even in failure! God knows how many times we will fail before we succeed, therefore, He rejoices with each time we get closer and closer to that success. We see each failure; He sees the ultimate victory.

This failure, or stumbling, is not the stumbling that is talked about in Jude 24, which means to falter in your belief in Jesus as God’s Son and that He is our Savior. This stumbling is like a toddler who is learning to walk. We need our spiritual legs to become strong. When a baby toddles from one parent to another, they don’t count how many times he falls, but how many steps he takes! Just like those parents love that baby, GOD LOVES US! I can’t say that strongly enough. Tears come to my eyes when I say it because the Spirit fairly yells to me, “It’s True!!!” Believe it. Stake your life on it. Trust it. Act on it.

Abba, may You show us again and again how much You love us. We are inscribed on the palm of Your hand (Isaiah 49:16). We are the apple of Your eye (Deuteronomy 32:10). May we never forget, but rather be amazed each day with how much You love us. We know that we are more than conquerors through You, Lord Jesus, the One who loves us (Romans 8:37). Help us to grow in the knowledge of Your love.

Proverbs 6 6-6-21

Paul acted out of ignorance until He met Jesus. How about you? Has Jesus called you to be His? I pray your answer was, “Yes!”

5 Free yourself [by taking Christ’s offer of complete forgiveness and freedom], like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

The apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul (Saul was his Hebrew name and Paul was his Greek name–see Acts 13:9), thought he was doing the LORD a favor by ridding the world of that sect of the followers of the Way (Acts 19:9). When he met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus (see chapter 9), he became an devoted follower of Jesus. In fact, Jesus had plans for Paul to take the message of salvation to the Gentiles. We learn a little about Paul’s thoughts on the matter in 1 Timothy 1:13-14,

13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Paul acted out of ignorance. He had not met Christ up until that point on the road. But, what about those who turn down Christ’s invitation? I’m not talking about hearing the Gospel, but about the Holy Spirit urging a person to respond to Him, but he turns Him down? I know that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God,” (Romans 10:17), but the Spirit must move in a person’s heart before that person can even respond. He is dead spiritually. The Spirit must invite a person to receive Him before he can even know what he’s missing (John 6:44).

John 3:16 tells us that God loves the world so much that He gave His Son as the ultimate sin sacrifice. Verse 17 tells us that a person who believes will not be condemned, but verse 18 says that a person who doesn’t believe stands condemned already, for he hasn’t believed in the one and only Son. This person has committed the one sin that cannot be pardoned, the sin of unbelief, which is saying, “No!” to the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32).

We who have Christ are buried with Him in death and are raised to walk in newness of life in Him (Romans 6:2-4). We have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Therefore, we are commanded, “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” Romans 6:13-14.

As we enter into worship this morning, may we all remember that we have died with Christ and no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died for us and was raised to life (2 Corinthians 5:15) and us in Him.

Abba, Your love compels us to worship You today. We exalt Your name and praise You for who You are and for all You have done for us. You truly love us, don’t You?! That, right there, is worth shouting! May we lavish our love on You today, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 6 5-6-21

Pray for our country today on National Day of Prayer. We need the revival; may the Holy Spirit move across our nation!

20 My son, keep your father’s command [we have more than our father’s command; we have the Spirit!]
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching [the Spirit teaches and leads us; lean on Him].
21 Bind them always on your heart [let them rule your heart because we can’t trust our hearts];
    fasten them around your neck [like a neckless that always reminds you].
22 When you walk, they will guide you [Jesus guides us];
    when you sleep, they will watch over you [Jesus rejoices over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)];
    when you awake, they will speak to you [Jesus speaks to us in His Word, which is alive with His Spirit (Hebrews 4:12)].
23 For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light [the Spirit lights our way, but also what is in us],
and correction and instruction are the way to life [Jesus is life; rejoice in Him always],
24 keeping you from your neighbor’s wife [worldly things that tempt us],
    from the smooth talk of a wayward woman [Satan is working hard to derail us].

Revival must begin in our own hearts. In order for that to happen, we must decide whether Jesus is worth following or not. If He is, then we must place ourselves in a position to hear Him:

  • We open ourselves to Him and ask for a sense of His presence;
  • We lay ourselves before Him asking forgiveness for any pride and rebellion;
  • We receive His forgiveness and accept whatever He wills for our lives today;
  • We rejoice in His grace and the awareness of Him in our lives (see Zephaniah 3:17 again);
  • We look for opportunities to meet with other Christians to increase our knowledge, to fellowship with like-minded believers, to strengthen each other in the faith, and to experience the Lord in a way that is unique to Christians in corporate worship.
  • We continue this process as often and with as many people as possible; it becomes our habitus (the outward lifestyle of a follower of Jesus Christ).
  • We look for people who might be showing interest and for opportunities to share what we are experiencing.
  • We invite people to “come and see” (John 1:39).

I pray that you will feel the drawing of the Spirit to begin the process of revival. It’s the ONLY WAY to save America.

Abba, may You move mightily in Your church. Then, move mightily in our city, state, and nation. You are already moving in the world; move here, too! May You sweep across this land even as You have in our past, Lord. It’s always darkest just before dawn; may Your light arise and shine on us, Lord Jesus. May we shine for You! Amen.

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

Isaiah 60:1

Proverbs 6 4-6-21

Who we live for shows who is most important to us. Is Christ your priority?

22 When you walk, they [God leading us through His Word] will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you.

What are the ramifications of the whole cross event? One is the new way that God interacts with us. Because of the New Covenant that Jesus inaugurated at the cross and was implemented on Pentecost, He no longer holds us accountable for our sin:

2 Corinthians 5:19 (NIV)

that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.

The Spirit we have been given gives us new desires. We now want to please our Heavenly Father. In our gratitude to Christ Jesus, we willingly pledge to live for Him. What motivates us to set aside, even die to, our own desires?

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NIV)

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 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.

How then shall we live? For Christ! The first thing is to spend quality time with Him in prayer and His Word. Our church is reading through Psalm 119. I ask that you join us. We are on the third set of eight verses (it will be easy to catch up). We are praying for a mighty movement of the Spirit. Join us!

Abba, May You get us ready to receive all the new converts that will be coming to us because of another Great Awakening. I’m excited! May You begin today. Amen.

Proverbs 6 3-6-21

Truth always has its day, but woe to the one who strove to deceive. He is his own undoing.

18:17 In a a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines.

If they weren’t sure that Jesus was proclaiming to be Messiah, the next passage cleared it up for them.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-20

The accusation of abolishment was something that rabbis did among each other. When one of them made a statement that went outside the bounds of what was considered lawful, the other rabbis would accuse him of abolishing the law. He was striking it down and setting up a new law. It was a very serious charge. Evidently, Jesus was being accused of abolishing the Law. When He said that He had come to fulfill them, He was talking about the sacrificial system. He was to become the Sacrificial Lamb. As John put it, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” John 1:29.

It’s interesting to think that Jesus was Jewish and kept all the Law. But, seeing that He wrote the Law and could have changed it if He wanted, He didn’t change it at all; He finished it by fulfilling the demands of the sacrifice. What were those demands? The deaths of all who have sinned. Jesus took the consequences of our sin upon Himself and killed them with His own death. Here’s what happened next:

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference [between Jew and Gentile; see verse 9], 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. Romans 3:21-25

Jesus offers grace to both Jew and Gentile alike. It was His plan all along as we read about last week in Deuteronomy 4:5-8. Both groups are equally lost and are both equally saved by God’s grace. Jesus also said that not one word, letter or even dot of an “i” would disappear until He had made it to the cross. Jesus was the Keeper of the Covenant.

When Jesus talked about a person who sets aside one of the least of the commands and teaches others to do the same, He was especially talking to the religious leaders. He was referring to their extra laws and the way their laws changed the complexion of the ones given by God to Moses. How do I know this? Because of His statement in verse 20, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law…” They were in the habit of chaining the people with their manmade traditions. The one that Jesus had the most trouble with was the keeping of the Sabbath. The religious leaders had written so many rules about what a person could and couldn’t do that it became more about the rules than about acknowledging the LORD. Jesus deliberately healed on the Sabbath seven times: Three times in Mark (Mark 1:21-28, 1:29-31, 3:1-6), two times in Luke (Luke 13:10-17, 14:1-6), and two times according to John (see John 5:1-18, 9:1-14). I find it interesting that Matthew didn’t record any of these healings. Would it have offended his Jewish readers? It certainly did the religious leaders! It was their main reason for wanting to kill Him.

There’s a lesson here for us: If Jesus was not afraid of the religious leaders nor the Roman government because He had a mission to complete and He was counting on God to get Him to the cross, we can have that same assurance that when we are following God’s will for our lives (on a daily and even continuous basis) we need not fear anything or anyone. Our lives are in His hands and we will die when He is satisfied that our mission is complete. We are invincible until He says otherwise. Therefore, in both our lives and in our deaths may He be honored and glorified.

Abba, You have called us to Your mission and included us in that mission. May we be obedient servants and glory in our part of Your Story. Indeed, may our lives and our deaths bring much glory and honor to You, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 6 2-6-21

The Work of the Holy Spirit in us: Fellowship with a purpose. Even as He abides in us, we are transformed into Christ’s image.

21 Bind them (words of knowledge) always on your heart; fasten them around your neck.

Scripture tells us that the Spirit is transforming us into the image of Christ,

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined [predetermined] to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:29

18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:9-10

17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 1 John 4:17

But, our transformation is not the only work He does in us. We must also remember that any works that we do for the kingdom are done at the prompting, then the powering, and then done at the direction of the Holy Spirit. We are vessels, conduits, stone water pots, e.g. the purification pots at the wedding at Cana (John 2:6). We ourselves have no inherent power; it is He who flows through us who does. At the same time, because He is doing it with us, we are creating something brand new–a brand new work never before seen! And you thought God quit creating on the sixth day of creation! We are new creations in Christ–everyday! 2 Corinthians 5:17 and 4:16 point out this wonderful fact.

There is one more important work that the Spirit does in us and that is fellowship. The whole point of the cross was for Jesus to be able to send “another advocate” to help us and be with us forever. The term, “another,” in the Greek denotes something that is just like its replacement. In other words, the Spirit coming to live in us IS Jesus Himself, but in Spirit form. Jesus said, “Remain in Me, as I remain in you.” John 15:4. What a powerful verse that is chocked full of meaning and promise! The term, “remain,” means to dwell, to live permanently, to set up shop, which is exactly what we ask Jesus to do when we invite Him inside. We ask Him to come in and take over, to be the Lord of our lives. And He Does!

If we take the time to ponder these verses each morning, we will get a sense of destiny (Jesus has a plan for our lives), belonging (Jesus lives with us and the Father has adopted us into his family), and purpose (God is doing a new thang–with us).

Abba, thank You for coming to live in me, for giving me destiny, belonging, and purpose. May I devote myself to seeing these three to their fulfillment in me. Rule in my heart, my Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 6 1-6-21

Obedience without love is duty. We are NEVER to serve God out of duty, but out of gratitude and love. He loves us, we love Him.

21 Bind them [teaching of God’s love for us] on your heart; fasten them around your neck.

Today is straight out of my journal (I did go back and list the Scripture references).

Without the desire to do Your will, Abba, I am left with nothing but duty (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). This desire is motivated by gratitude and love. It’s not what I can get from You, but what You have already done for me for which I am grateful. The love I have in my heart is You (Your Spirit) loving You (the Father) through Jesus (the Son), and invites me to join in as a member of that love (John 15:9-11, 1 Corinthians 2:12-13).

The inner peace I feel knowing that I am washed in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14, 12:11), made perfect, complete and whole in Your eternal sight (Jude 24), fills me with joy inexpressible (1 Peter 1:8), Abba. The fellowship we share is beyond words.

The framework of the knowledge for my relationship with You is explained and illustrated in Scripture. The more I know, the better I can understand; the better I understand, the more victorious I can be in this world.

The other neat thing about Scripture is that I connect with You when I read them, ponder them, and quote them. I LOVE that connection!

The Spirit within me has given me a new desire, which is to be just like You, LORD. Whatever that looks like, that’s what I want to be. Work my salvation from the inside out.

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation [work your salvation from the inside out] with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will [desire] and to act [power] in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13

Amen.