If we had to work for our salvation, we would be in BIG trouble. Jesus has already done all the work!

What exactly were the Judaizers preaching that got Paul so upset? Let’s take a look as we delve into the reason for the letter to the churches in Galatia.

From GotQuestions.org:

In the early church, those who taught a combination of God’s grace and human effort were called “Judaizers.” The word Judaizer comes from a Greek verb meaning “to live according to Jewish customs.” The word appears in Galatians 2:14 where Paul describes how he confronted Peter for forcing Gentile Christians to “Judaize.”

According to the Judaizers, a person couldn’t be a Christian without following the Jewish customs, which included circumcision. Paul used circumcision as the encapsulation of Judaism, of abandoning being saved by grace alone and “going backward,” trying to be saved through works again. Paul said,

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Galatians 3:2-3

Earlier in his letter, Paul stated how a person is justified,

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. Galatians 2:15-16

What can we deduce from this passage?

  1. Works of any kind do not save a person. Forgiveness has already been given by Jesus through His FINISHED work on the cross. To continue to work for something that has already been given is to discredit the gift.
  2. Jews already knew that the law could not truly justify them. It is why they looked for Messiah to come. Psalm 130:7-8 says, “Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” The fact that they had to offer sacrifices each year reminded them that their sins were only covered and not washed away. Only Jesus’ blood shed on the cross could wash away their sins.
  3. Our belief (faith) in Christ’s redemption of the whole world is why the gospel was being preached in Galatia to the Gentiles along with the Jews. This good news was available to all who would receive it!

Paul concluded his letter with this unequivocable statement, “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation” Galatians 6:15. Paul left no doubt about where he stood on the matter. We would do well to remember that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit love us as only They can love. Forgiveness is already given! Therefore, let’s give thanks to Them for that love, forgiveness and grace and live our lives in assurance and gratitude.

Abba, thank You for the saving work of the cross. It’s where Your self-giving love shone on us, and it’s where we receive Your forgiveness that You offer freely to all who will come. May we be lights for You that point others to the One who wants to save them: Jesus Christ. Amen.


I found this song in the archives and thought it would be appropriate for today as we go to church:

We only did this song once. It was at a Matthew* Reunion at Brookwood around 2009. We were in the new auditorium and David Polk was still with us this side of heaven. I probably recorded this song so that the guys could practice before they came. Don’t expect a great rendition…(click the title, go to the link; it’s the last song on the list).


We come together to sing and praise,
We talk about the weather and about our days,
Then we sing a worship song;
We listen to the pastor break the Bread of Life,
We take up the offering ‘cause we know it’s right,
Then we all just run along…

And Jesus waits for us to come
So He can wrap His arms around us,
The Holy Spirit’s calling us to Him,
So here we stand before Him now,
Will we run to Him or turn around
And all just walk away…
Let us turn to Him and say:

We wait upon You, Lord,
Not because of fame and fortune,
Not for what You can do for us—
We wait upon You!
We wait upon You, Lord,
You pour out grace through Your Holy Presence,
You’re the One with the words of life,
We wait upon You! We wait upon You!

We are waiting…we are waiting…waiting…

We come together to sing Your praise,
Joining our voices, we Your anthem raise,
We are crying out to You;
We listen to the stories of Your faithful ones
And we are encouraged to continue on
As we run to the prize:
From Your throne in Glory rise!

And Jesus beckons us to come
So He can wrap His arms around us,
The Holy Spirit carries us to Him,
Then we will stand before His throne,
We will pledge allegiance to the Lamb
And fall at His feet…those nail-pierced feet—but until then:

We wait upon You, Lord,
Not because of fame and fortune,
Not for what You can do for us—
We wait upon You!
We wait upon You, Lord,
You pour out grace through Your Holy Presence,
You’re the One with the words of life,
We wait upon You! We wait upon You!

We are waiting…we are waiting…waiting…

May we enter into corporate worship with consecrated hearts that come from consecrated lives. If we have not been living as set-apart Christians, then we need to start with repentance. Let us turn to Him and ask Him to help us orient our lives to the cross and to His throne. We cannot do it ourselves; we need Him. So we wait…

Abba, I know that as Worship Leader, I must be the Lead Worshiper. I ask that you prepare my heart for worship. May I seek Your presence now so that I won’t be surprised when You show up in our midst! Manifest Your presence with us, O Lord. WE NEED YOU! Amen.

*Matthew was our singing group. We traveled to churches and sang concerts of original songs.


Jesus didn’t leave any room for ambiguity. He demonstrated His lordship over death. Will we trust Him as Lord?

The reaction to the resurrection of Lazarus was polarizing. Many believed in Jesus because of the miracle, but others took it as a threat to their security and way of life. I’m sure it was “just business…”

45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
54 Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.

I believe that Jesus knew what the result of the resurrection of Lazarus would be. He knew that they would kill Him. The high priest, Caiaphas, made a remarkable statement during the leaders’ meeting,

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

John included his own commentary about his statement,

51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.

The village called Ephraim is today called, “Tazbeh,” and is 9.5 miles Northeast of Jerusalem. We don’t know how long Jesus stayed there until time to ride the donkey’s foal into Jerusalem, but I’ll bet it wasn’t long. Jesus was much too popular to stay hidden for any extended length of time.

For me, the take-away is the deliberate “offering” of Himself to die for us. His mission was to “proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). The only way for us to be truly free was for Him to break the power of the evil one (Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus would go through death and “kill” it with His LIFE. He offers us that same life.

Abba, looking at the mission of Jesus shouts Your love for us. You conquered death for us so that we can experience Your life. You are amazing! May we shout for joy this coming Sunday–and every day–for Your amazing love. Amen.

Proverbs 3-7-23

Humility is being willing to change your conclusions when new information comes in. Science is always changing. So should our conclusions.

42 Then Job replied to the Lord:
“I know that you can do all things;
    no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
    Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me to know.
Job 42:1-2

“10 Best Evidences from Science That confirm a Young Earth,” by Answers in Genesis, has provided some super examples of science finally catching up to the Bible. Let’s look at number 7:

#7 Caron-14 in Fossils, Coal, and Diamonds

“Carbon-14 (or radiocarbon) is a radioactive form of carbon that scientists use to date fossils. But, it decays so quickly–with a half-life of only 5,730 years–that none is expected to remain in fossils after only a few hundred thousand years. Yet, Carbon-14 has been detected in “ancient” fossils–supposedly up to hundreds of millions of years old–ever since the earliest days of radiocarbon dating.

Even if every atom in the whole earth were carbon-14, they would decay so quickly that no carbon-14 would be left on earth after only 1 million years. Contrary to expectations, between 1984 and 1998 alone, the scientific literature reported carbon-14 in 70 samples that came from fossils, coal, oil, natural gas, and marble representing the fossil-bearing portion of the geologic record, supposedly spanning more than 500 million years. All contain radiocarbon. Further, analyses of fossilized wood and coal samples, supposedly spanning 32-350 million years in age, yielded ages between 20,000 and 50,000 years using carbon-14 dating. Diamonds supposedly 1-3 billion years old similarly yielded carbon-14 ages of only 55,000 years.

Even that is too old when you realize that these ages assume that the earth’s magnetic field has always been constant. But, it was stronger in the past, protecting the atmosphere from solar radiation and reducing the radiocarbon production. As a result, past creatures had much less radiocarbon in their bodies, and their deaths occurred much more recently than reported!

So, the radiocarbon ages of all fossils and coal should be reduced to less than 5,000 years, matching the timing of their burial during the flood. The age of diamonds should be reduced to the approximate time of biblical creation–about 6,000 [to 8,000] years ago.”

I remember back in the 70’s and 80’s the scientific world touting carbon-14 dating. Due to more advanced scientific methods, this method of dating has proven that everything that was tested for carbon-14 is less than a million years old–and probably less than 50,000! According to God, He created everything about 6,000-8,000 years ago. Since He was there, we can trust His word on the matter.

Tomorrow, #8 – Short-Lived Comets

Abba, thank You for requiring us to believe You by faith. You continue to unveil truth to us as science continues to delve Your secrets, O Lord. May we have the patience and humility to wait on You without making assumptions, and to be willing to change our conclusions based upon the unveiling of Your truths. Faith is “Forsaking All, I Trust Him.” We trust You, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 2-7-23

The coming of Jesus 2000 years ago is still having a major impact on our world today.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:6

We saw in, “Person of Interest,” written by J. Warner Wallace, that Jesus is the most written-about person in history. What about architecture? How did Jesus influence the way we build?

Churches in the first centuries of the Common Era were still relatively dark, uninspiring spaces, although they were much larger than their house church counterparts. But even in these heavy spaces, a simple architectural development would eventually point believers heavenward.
Domes were not unknown to the Greek and Roman world, or course, but they were mastered by Christian church builders who stretched the limit of the archetype.
These arched ceiling surfaces provided opportunities to paint images of the angelic realm, and architects designed them to be illuminated in heavenly ways with hidden light wells and strategically placed window openings. Many domes also allowed for the placement of statues, providing yet another artistic avenue for expression. The technology involved in perfecting dome architecture stretched the imagination and engineering skills of designers and builders. The dome at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in an excellent example.
Designed by Michelangelo, the structure of the dome is an artistic and engineering tour de force. He carefully controlled the way in which he allowed light to enter the space by building a double-walled dome with a light chamber. Windows along the base provided another source of controlled light. The result is nothing less than stunning.

Flying buttresses, visible in the pictures on the St. Peter’s Basilica website, were another invention by Christians that allowed architects to design and build windowed walls that did not bear weight inside the outer weight-bearing walls, thus allowing the inner space to be much larger than was formerly possible. Flying buttresses were used all over Europe thanks to the inspiration of Christians.

There was an unexpected inspiration that happened in the first three centuries during persecution. People began to draw and paint pictures of our Lord and to write songs about Him. We will look at these tomorrow.

Abba, when I think about Your love, mercy and grace, and when I experience Your peace and joy, my heart sings. Others express their adoration and praise to You in other ways. We are inspired to worship You in ways that are unique to each of us. May we not think down on ourselves for loving You as only each of us can. The songs I write to You and about You will probably never reach the masses, but You receive glory and honor through my meager talents. May I praise You with all my heart, O Lord, and with everything I have. Amen.

Proverbs 7 1-7-23

As Jesus headed to Jerusalem, He spoke to many people. He used analogies from everyday life to describe Himself.

23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. John 2:23-24

In John 10, Jesus uses several analogies to define who He is:

  1. Jesus is the Gate for the sheep (John 10:7).
  2. Jesus is the Door for salvation (John 10:9).
  3. Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14).
  4. Jesus told them that as the Good Shepherd, He lays down His life for his sheep, and will take it up again by the authority given to Him by His Father (John 10:17-18).
  5. Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30).
  6. Jesus is God’s Son (John 10:36).
  7. Jesus told them to believe His works even if they didn’t believe His words (10:37-38).

Jesus’ greatest public miracle happened in Bethany when He raised Lazarus from the dead. In His conversation with Martha, Jesus declared:

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

Martha spoke the same confession that Simon Peter did when Jesus asked the disciples who they thought He was (Matthew 16:16),
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

We now come to the final public address that Jesus gives. In it, He reveals His mission, how He will fulfill it, and what He will accomplish in doing it–and we will pick up here tomorrow. If you want to read ahead, it begins in 12:20 and runs through the end of the chapter.

In the meantime, read through again the list of analogies Jesus gave us and ponder what they mean to us. How do we relate to each one?

Abba, as I look at these analogies, I see myself as one of Your sheep. I put my full trust in You because You laid down Your life for me and then took it up again so that I might not fear death (Hebrews 2:14-15). I know that You hold me in a double-fisted grip (John 10:28-29), and I believe You are God and Son at the same time. You have worked a miracle in my heart and life, and I praise You and thank You. Amen.

Proverbs 7 12-7-22

God is a loving and patient Parent. We need not fear Him–respect Him? Absolutely, but He wants the best for us. Choose Him.

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Matthew 23:37

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

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

We are on the fourth question,

What is holiness?

Holiness is the character of God. Whatever God is like, that is holiness. Let’s look at some verses that tell us about the character of God.


We continue reviewing the Scriptures that list characteristics of God. Yesterday, we began with Exodus 34:6-7 and Psalm 86:4-7. Today, we start with Psalm 103:8-13.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love
The Lord is good to all;
    he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All your works praise you, Lord;
    your faithful people extol you.
11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom
    and speak of your might,
12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures through all generations.
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
    and faithful in all he does

As David described the attributes of God, we can see that he had an ongoing and personal relationship with Him, one that gave David great insight to the character of God. Notice the absence of punishment down to the third and fourth generations. David knew the grace of God (Psalm 51), His love that is everlasting (Psalm 103:17), His mercy that is very great (1 Chronicles 21:13), and His lovingkindness (listed 22 times in Psalms, KJV). Psalm 145:8 is yet another listing by David of those attributes.

The next listing of God’s character is Joel 2:13-14, which takes place around 250 years later,

13 Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
    and he relents from sending calamity.

14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
    and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
    for the Lord your God.

We see that the attitude toward God is beginning to change from God being stern to One who allows people to reap the consequences of their own bad decisions. Joel’s call to rend their hearts and not their garments places God’s priority on their attitude and holiness (being like Him) rather than their lip service and rituals.

We will stop here for today and meditate on the goodness of God, how He loves us dearly, but allows us to experience the consequences of our bad decisions while calling us back to His side.

Abba, this process of choosing my own way and then coming back to You is a lifelong process. Through my life, I have learned to return more and more quickly to Your side. Being with You is the safest and most pleasant place for me to be even when life is hard–especially when life is hard! Thank You for loving me. I want to be just like You. Amen.

Proverbs 7 11-7-22

How closely aligned to the world are we? Do we stand out in this world? Are we enough like Christ for people to tell the difference?

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. James 4:4

One of the most glaring recriminations that Israel committed is described in Jeremiah 7:17-19,

LXX- 16 Do you not see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 17 Their sons gather wood, and their fathers kindle the fire, while their women knead cake dough for the host of heaven [pagan gods]; and they pour out drink offerings to foreign gods to provoke Me to anger. 18 Do they provoke Me to wrath? says the Lord. “Do they not provoke themselves to the shame of their own faces?”

MAS- 17 Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough to make sacrificial cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods in order to provoke Me to anger. 19 Are they provoking Me?” declares the Lord. “Is it not themselves instead, to their own shame?”

The entire family was involved in worshiping the gods of the land. If we read further, we find that they were mixing these offerings with their offerings to the Lord at the temple,

LXX- 21 Thus says the Lord: “For I did not speak to your fathers, nor command them concerning whole burnt offerings and sacrifices in the day I brought them o the and of Egypt. 22 But I commanded them this word, saying, ‘Listen to My voice, and I will be to you as God, and you shall be to Me as a people. Walk in all My ways I commanded you, that it may be well with you. 23 Yet they did not hear Me and did not attend their ear. Instead, they walked in the devices of their heart and went backward, not forward.

MAS- 22 For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them on the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you shall walk entirely in the way which I command you, so that it may go well for you.’ 24 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked by their own advice and in the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and they went backward and not forward.

Their continued rejection of God’s commands ultimately reaped the whirlwind. Was it God’s doing, His wrath? In an indirect way, yes. Because of the consequences of sin and death, the sin nature pervades all of humanity and nature. God’s commands were designed to help us avoid much of the natural consequences of living in this world. His commands were also designed to foster a relationship between God and each person. Some did, but most didn’t.

If we only understood that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30), we would trust Him with our lives. He wants only the best for us, which includes a walking, talking, active relationship with Him. He wants to do things WITH us, and to create anew with us. The synthesis between each of us and the Spirit is new! The Father is guaranteed worth getting to know.

Abba, You know our hearts. We would never turn to You were it not for Your sacrifice and Your Spirit calling out to each of us. May we all respond to Your call, accept Your invitation to join You, and receive You into our lives. Daily. Amen.

Proverbs 7 10-7-22

Having a goal for our lives is important. Christ has given us His goal; are we interested?

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”John 6:68

I found a new passage that works very much like the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20, which says,

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The passage of which I am speaking is personal. Jesus spoke it directly to Paul (Saul at the time), but we can assume that its message was given to the disciples earlier. It ties together the Old and New Testaments in a very specific way.

Here is the passage:

16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ Acts 26:16-18

Jesus had appeared to Saul (Paul) on the road to Damascus. This commission sounds very much like the Great Commission, but with more information. Jesus is tying together Isaiah 6:9-10, Mark 4:21-22, and then the Acts 26 passage. Here are the first two:

He said, “Go and tell this people:
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
    be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
    make their ears dull
    and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

Isaiah 6:9-10
[Although it sounds like God is hardening their hearts, He is simply giving them over to what they have already done in their hearts. See Romans 1:24-26]

21 He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. Mark 4:21-22

At this point in Jesus’ ministry, it wasn’t time for full disclosure. He had yet to rise from the dead. THEN, it would be time to tell everyone! What was it that they were to share with everyone?

18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:18-20

We will delve the depths of this passage tomorrow. For today, let’s rejoice in the great calling of Christ on our lives that we get to participate with Him in reconciling the world to Him by sharing the Good News of what Jesus has done or us and what He will do for them.

Abba, thank You for such good news to share with others. Helping people align themselves with Christ is pure joy for me, whether it’s unto salvation by the calling of the Holy Spirit, or to an even deeper walk with Christ for long-time followers. Thank You for including me in Your Plan. Amen.

Proverbs 7 9-7-22

Ever wondered why you believe what you believe? I read through the Baptist Faith and Message the other day…

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

As I read through the BF&M, I felt grounded in my faith and secure in my belief. I thought you might like to walk through them with me. None of them are very long, but they do speak the basic truths of our Baptist beliefs.

I. The Scriptures

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.

Exodus 24:4Deuteronomy 4:1-217:19Joshua 8:34Psalms 19:7-10119:11,89,105,140Isaiah 34:1640:8Jeremiah 15:1636:1-32Matthew 5:17-1822:29Luke 21:3324:44-46John 5:3916:13-1517:17Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11Romans 15:416:25-262 Timothy 3:15-17Hebrews 1:1-24:121 Peter 1:252 Peter 1:19-21.

I like the way that each article has a list of Scripture passages as references. The sad part is the loss of the original texts and our inability to read Hebrew. Hebrew is a three-dimensional language as opposed to Greek, Latin, and English. As was said by an interpreter around 3 BC, there are some concepts that simply do not translate from Hebrew to Greek*. Even so, from Hebrew to Greek, to Latin, to old English, and finally to contemporary English, the Central Idea of the Text has never changed.

We do well to remind each other often of the Gospel we have received from reliable witnesses and on which we have taken our stand. We are saved through this Gospel; let’s hold firmly to it. What is the Gospel on which we hold firmly?

  • Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
  • He was buried,
  • He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
  • and was seen by Cephas (Peter), the Twelve, more than 500 brothers and sisters at the same time, to James (His brother), and to Paul (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

Abba, we search the Scriptures not to find life, but to find You, for You give life (John 5:39-40). May we study them diligently in order to correctly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Sanctify us with Your truth; Your Word is truth (John 17:17). Amen.

*In the prologue of Wisdom of Sirach

Proverbs 7 8-7-22

God’s design of the human ear – Part 2

19:27 Stop listening to instruction, my child, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

Yesterday, the outer ear. Today, the middle ear.

Malleus (Hammer), Incus (Anvil), Stapes (Stirrup) and Oval Window

The function of the middle ear is to amplify the sound vibrations of the eardrum. the vibrations must be compressed into a much smaller area.
This is accomplished by a sequence of three small bones in the middle ear, known collectively as ossicles. The ossicles are the smallest bones in the body. They are the only bones that never grow larger from the time of birth.
Vibrations produced in the eardrum are passed to the first bone, called the hammer (malleus) whose “handle” is attached to the eardrum. This bone, in turn, passes its vibrations to a bone called the anvil (incus). Next, the vibration is transmitted to a bone that looks like a stirrup, called the stapes. Finally, the “foot place,” located on the stirrup, is inserted into a small oval window.
Amplification results because the surface area of the eardrum is much greater than the foot plate of the stirrup, thus concentrating the energy over a smaller area and resulting in over a 20-fold increase in pressure. The foot place moves in and out, like a piston, producing waves in the fluid of the inner ear.

How these bones know what to do is beyond me. The very fact that they never grow any bigger after birth is astonishing. How did evolution figure that one out? How did these bones know that if they worked together that they could transmit sound from the eardrum to…what? That’s tomorrow’s lesson: The Inner Ear. Prepare to be amazed (if you already weren’t).

Abba, as much as we depend upon hearing in this world, I am glad that we don’t have to depend upon hearing you audibly; You speak directly to our hearts and minds. May we listen for You daily as we train ourselves to listen closely for Your still, small voice–most of the time… Amen.

Proverbs 7 7-7-22

Dying to self means giving up our natural instincts and taking on new, spiritual ones. Are we ready?

8:11 Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold.

One of the most interesting passages in the Gospels to me is the scene where the official slapped Jesus in the face,

19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”

I’ve always wondered what the official thought of Jesus’ question. In the Matthew account, here is what happened next,

63 …The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” [Psalm 110:1; Daniel 7:13-14]
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”
“He is worthy of death,” they answered.
67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”

Jesus was demonstrating His own teaching,

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ [Exodus 21:24; Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. Matthew 5:38-39

Was Jesus serious about His teaching? His commitment? You bet He was! He was willing to die to prove it. But, Jesus knew what would be accomplished by loving His enemies. He knows what will be accomplished if we love our enemies, too. Here’s what He said,

35 “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).

Jesus’ plan went beyond death. It still does. Ask any of the martyrs throughout our Christian history (we’ll have to wait until we get to where they are). We must see beyond our current circumstances, too. Do we stand by and allow people to hurt those whom we love? No. We put our lives between them and the aggressors. But, it’s not about safety on this side; it’s bigger than that. It’s about having victory on His side. Tomorrow, we will look at two reasons for Jesus’ demonstration of love.

Abba, help us to comprehend Your love. It’s bigger than this world can hold. How can we demonstrate a love like that? Only by Your Spirit in us, that’s how! May we give our lives over to You, Lord, and the lives of our loved ones (which is actually harder to do). We trust You completely. Amen.

Proverbs 7 6-7-22

Following Jesus is not a drudgery if we truly take the time to know Him, talk to Him and listen to Him.

17 Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise;
    apply your heart to what I teach,
18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart
    and have all of them ready on your lips.

Yesterday, we looked at Titus 3:1-8 about respecting our rulers and authorities and “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.” A tall order, right? One that can only be done in cooperation with the Spirit.

There’s another passage that really is impossible without the direction and participation of the Holy Spirit. It is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24. We will look at verses 16-18 today,

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

  • Rejoice always– means to have joy, His joy, in us always. Joy is not happiness; happiness is an outward and fickle emotion while joy is an inward state of mind. We have joy because we KNOW what Christ has done for us, is doing in us, and will do for us when we die.
  • Pray continually– means to have an open line of communication with the Father through the Son via the Holy Spirit all the time. Never are we to shut it down. If (when) we do by turning away from His face, then we repent and turn back around and face Him. We will not see anger on His face, but complete love and intense compassion. His smile and pleasure are always upon us for us to see and experience.
  • Give thanks in all circumstances– means to understand that nothing in this world or the next can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39) and that He is walking through our circumstances with us (Hebrews 13:5). We know that He will take those circumstances and use them to mature us (Romans 8:28-29). We become more like Him by sharing in His sufferings (Philippians 3:10).
  • For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus– means that becoming like Jesus is the overall plan (2 Corinthians 3:18). Our constant fellowship with the Father is what the cross was all about! (see John 16:7, 13).

As we can see, these three verses constitute our attitude while in this world. The great part is that we don’t have to generate anything on our own; the Spirit is our dynamo,

13 [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. Philippians 2:13

Abba, thank You for providing the motivation and energy to even desire to know You. It has been called an “irresistible grace,” yet You allow each person to choose or not choose You. It’s not a matter of how many times we rebuff You, but when we turn from the darkness in our lives to the saving light of Your glorious face, Jesus! May everyone experience Your wonderful cleansing and new life. Amen.

Proverbs 7 5-7-22

“Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…” Heaven is watching; let’s press on toward the goal.

15:24 The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep them from going down to the grave.

I got to thinking about something that has changed my perspective on my immediate future. It is this question:

Since I am 61, how will I live my life with the prospect
of having 25 more years of active living?

I think of my dad who was 82 when he died of a stroke. He was scheduled to work that week at his job at the funeral home. He had worked full-time at the county courthouse in Durant until he was 77.

I can look across the hall at church at the office of Bro. Robert Griffin who is currently 82 and is our part-time Senior Adult minister. He and Mama Faye have that ministry going great guns. They have no plans to quit anytime soon.

In light of these two very influential men, I see myself continuing in ministry until the day I die. I probably won’t work full-time until I’m 77, but I see no reason to slow down and stop just because I reach retirement age.

What I CAN see is my training up the next generation of servant/leaders. My generation needs to start thinking about handing off our ministries to the ones coming behind us. Doing so means that we will have to adjust to their way of doing things, changing things, and using different people, but it has to be done. I am rarely on the stage leading by myself anymore. Why? Because I have other people out there leading with me and sometimes for me. Most of them are younger than me (which is most people anymore). It’s a good thing.

If you are around 60, I pray you would consider two things:

  1. Get involved and stay involved in the Lord’s ministry; get in people’s lives.
  2. Train up the next generation as you give your ministry away.

Abba, may I continue to train up the next generation. May I give them room to spread their wings. I know they will make mistakes; I made them, too. With You guiding them, they will grow from their experiences just like I did. In the meantime, please continue to expand my ministry; I don’t want to quit and wait for death; I want You to catch me ministering when You return either for me personally or for everyone. Thank You for the hope we have in You. Amen.

Proverbs 7 4-7-22

Easter is the commemoration of Resurrection Day, the day that Jesus rose from the grave thus breaking the power of death.

1 My child, keep my words [the account of my coming] and store up my commands within you.

We were encouraged Sunday night to read John 12-18 this week. John 12 holds a particularly strong statement made by Jesus that defines the wrath of God. It is,

31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.

The first half of the verse tells us what: Judgment; the second half tells us who: The prince of this world, i.e. Satan. From this verse, we can derive the definition of the wrath of God. That wrath is directed toward anything or anyone (namely, Satan) that deceives, damages or destroys His children. Jesus destroyed death so that we will not longer fear it (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Athanasius of Alexandria (296-373 AD) talks in his book, “On the Incarnation,” about how Jesus allowed his enemies to choose the form of death for Him (pg. 75). That way, when He won, no one could say that Jesus set the whole thing up. Just like a wrestler who takes on all opponents in whatever style of wrestling they desire, Jesus took on the cross, mankind’s worst torture/death tool. From Athanasius,

…but he [Jesus] accepted and endured on the cross that [torture and death] inflicted by others, especially by enemies, which they reckoned fearful and ignominious and shameful, in order that this [way of death] being destroyed [by Christ’s resurrection], he might himself be believed to be Life, and the power of death might be completely annihilated.Page 74-75

He goes on to say that the cross became “the trophy of his victory over death.” Jesus really was on a rescue mission to save His creation, mankind. Remembering that the Trinity was present at and on the cross with Jesus, Athanasius posits that the Trinity became flesh and blood in Christ so that death could be experienced and subsequently dealt with.

Athanasius continued, “that by the grace of the resurrection [Jesus] banished death from them [us] as straw from fire. For the Word [Jesus], realizing that in no other way would the corruption of human beings be undone except, simply, by dying, yet being immortal and the Son of the Father, the Word was not able to die, for this reason he takes to himself a body capable of death, in order that it, participating in the Word who is above all, might be sufficient for death on behalf of all, and through the indwelling Word would remain incorruptible, and so corruption might henceforth cease from all by the grace of the resurrection.” Pg. 57-58

Put plainly, love wins. From now on, we see God as the merciful and hospitable Father, who wins by love, whom we don’t have to fear, who accepts and adores us while we’re still a mess, and sees us as we are and heals us with hugs and Fatherly affection. He’s particularly fond of us, you know! His kindness, forbearance and patience lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4), and by His grace we have salvation and His direction in our lives (Titus 2:11-12).

What a joyous time of year it is as we remember all that He has gone through for us!

Abba, thank You for going to so much trouble for us! I am both humbled and lifted up knowing that we humans, Your creation, are very valuable to You. Thank You for saving us. May we make known the marvelous mysteries of Your grace to each other and to those who don’t know You (yet). Amen.

Proverbs 7 3-7-22

Want to be like Jesus? Forgive, forgive, then forgive again.

24 Now then, my children, listen to me; pay attention to what I say.

We came to a conclusion this morning in Sunday’s Cool (Sunday School). After an hour of discussion (there were 20 of us), we decided that there are no human words that can describe what Jesus did for us on the cross, that there is no human thought that can grasp the Trinity, and that we all should be careful not to hold too tightly to any perceived analogy or explanation. It is enough to believe in what Jesus did and to trust Him with our lives. We did not frame our conclusion in quite this succinct manner, but it is the heart of our discussion.

The greatest thing that we came away with this morning is the love and mercy of God. The debt that we owed that we could never pay wasn’t paid by Jesus–it was canceled by Him. Read His own words:

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times [or, seventy times seven].
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Want to be like Jesus? Forgive, forgive, then forgive again. Cancel the debt. Then reset.

Abba, finding that reset button is hard to do, but necessary for the Jesus Way. To begin again with someone without holding past offenses against him/her is only something that You can do in us. Make it so, Abba! May we be like Jesus in this way today. Amen.

Proverbs 7 2-7-22

Christ is our all-in-all. When will we begin living like it’s a reality rather than just a concept?

1 My child, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you;

Yesterday, we discussed the Beatitudes and how the first half of each one is about Christ and the second half is about us in Christ. “Each blessing describes our participation in the resurrection life of Christ–the life of the age to come as it breaks into our lives now.”* The Beatitudes point to Christ and our life in Him. “They are Jesus’ version of the fruit of the Spirit and signs of the Spirit-filled life.”*

  1. We learn that we bring nothing to the table spiritually. We become humble.
  2. We learn that there is a balm for our “wretchedness, miserableness, poorness, blindness, and nakedness” (Revelation 3:17). He comforts us with His presence. It’s part of our humility.
  3. We learn to be meek and gentle. Again, it’s part of our humility.
  4. We learn to be hungry and thirsty for the right things. We are satisfied.
  5. We learn to treat people as we want to be treated: With mercy.
  6. We learn to look for God and nothing else (it’s hard to do, but we’re learning). The more focused our vision, the clearer we see God.
  7. Peacemaking happens when we quit fighting fire with fire. Instead, we hold out forgiveness and an olive branch of peace to those who are trying to fight with us. It’s how we are most like Christ (think “cross”).
  8. Being persecuted for His name’s sake means that we are, indeed, citizens of the kingdom of heaven.

The Beatitudes also speak of our glorification:

  1. Ours is the kingdom of heaven (in us).
  2. We are comforted by the Holy Spirit.
  3. We will inherit the earth as the Church fills it up.
  4. Our hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied in Jesus.
  5. We have received mercy!
  6. We will see God!!!
  7. We are called His children.
  8. Great is our reward in heaven (the kingdom of God–which is in us).

We usually refer to glorification as the last step in salvation (we are made new creations), sanctification (we are being made into the image of Jesus), and then glorification (we receive our glorified bodies in the kingdom). But, it’s not the only use of the term. Romans 8:30 says, “and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Taking the sum of the Beatitudes, we become like Jesus when they are manifested in our lives. Bradley says, “Rather, glorification by the Holy Spirit is humility, meekness and mercy. Glorification turns worldly power on its head with a force more powerful: self-giving, cruciform (which means, “cross-like”) servant-love.”*

To summarize, “The whole Sermon is a finger pointing to Abba’s love, made resident by the Spirit in human nature and manifest in Christ and his followers. The [early Christian] Fathers go so far as to say that we will become by Grace what Christ is by nature…”*

Abba, becoming like Jesus is my highest goal–it’s my only goal! If I am like You, then I know that I will mature, whole and complete (the definition of being perfect). I know I can only do it by following You and allowing You to transform me day by day, even moment-by-moment. Thank You once again for inviting me to share in the Fellowship of the Trinity. Amen.

*Bradley Jersak, “A More Christlike Way,” pages 151, 153, 154, 155

Proverbs 7 1-7-22

We don’t have to worry about getting people lost to get them saved. God has already done that (in a manner of speaking).

27 Her house is the way to Sheol, going own to the chambers of death [aren’t we glad Jesus rescued us?].

Yesterday, we established that Jesus came to redeem us. Jesus also used the term, “ransom,” (Matthew 20:28) which was used to indicate the purchasing of slaves. We were slaves to sin and we were held in bondage to the fear of death. Jesus saved us from them both! To understand this process, let’s begin with Romans 11:32 and then work our way backwards through Romans,

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

God has always considered all of His children as equals, no matter how different things were and are in the physical world. He sees us with spiritual eyes that “divide soul and spirit, joints and marrow, able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart” of mankind (Hebrews 4:12). We are all on the same plane in His eyes: We are sinners in need of saving, lost children in need of rescue, and His treasures in need of restoration.

Now that we recognize that we all need a Savior, let’s look at 2:1-3,

Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?

The judgment of God of which Paul speaks is not the passing of a sentence, but rather the meting out of mercy, the mercy mentioned in 11:32. It’s a discernment of what is needed and then applied. Now, the judgment that man uses is, indeed, condemnation, but it backfires because every man falls to the same temptations. We are all in this mess together!

I think we’re ready now to discuss 1:18,

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

This “wrath of God” is God “shutting us all up in disobedience” (11:32) so that He could show mercy to us all! The description of the acts of rebellion and defiance show the depths of the Father’s love. A singing group named Philips, Craig and Dean had a song called, He’ll Do Whatever It Takes,” that says,

He’ll do whatever, whatever it takes
His grace reaches lower than your worst mistake
And His love will run farther than you can run away, my friend
He’ll do whatever, whatever it takes
He’ll do whatever, it takes

Rather than seeing “us and them,” “the saved and the sinner,” let’s see everyone as lost sheep, lost coins, and lost sons. Jesus makes the same plea to everyone,

28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

It’s all about a relationship with Jesus. Always has been; always will be.

Abba, thank You for calling me into a deep and abiding relationship with You. When people ask me how I’m doing, I think that I will respond, “I am full of joy,” or “I am peaceful,” or “I am loved.” If/when they ask me why, I will have the opportunity to share with them the wonderful news of Your mercy and grace, and the invitation for them to come and receive You and all You bring with You. I’m looking forward to it. Amen.

Proverbs 7 12-7-21

Two metaphors, one connotation: Life in God (the Trinity). It’s all about relationship.

4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend…

In 1 John 3:9, we have two metaphors used to help describe our relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit. Let’s look at the verse,

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.

The first metaphor is “born of God.” Jesus used this metaphor in John 3:3. He described salvation as being first born of water (natural birth) and then of spirit (a spiritual birth). The second metaphor is, “God’s seed.” The seed of God in each of us is “born” when it sprouts in fertile soil. Both are viable as descriptions of salvation. Jesus refers to the kingdom of heaven as a mustard seed and yeast in dough (Matthew 13:31-33), and finding the kingdom of heaven as a treasure hidden in a field and a pearl of great price (Matthew 13:44-46). The kingdom of heaven comes through a Person, and that Person is Jesus Christ. “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:12

Jesus’ message is simple and straightforward: Repent [change the way you are thinking], for the kingdom of heaven [heavenly life that God the Son brings] is at hand.”

If we really want a description of salvation, Jesus gives us one in Matthew 13:15. It’s at the end of a quote from Isaiah 6:9-10,

15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ Matthew 13:15 (also in John 12:39-40)

King David proclaimed, “Your face, O Lord, I will seek” Psalm 27:8. In Matthew, Jesus said, “Come to Me,” (11:28); in Luke, He said, “Now, they are hidden from your eyes,” (19:42), and in John, Jesus says, “Come into the light,” (3:21). In John’s first letter, he says, “The darkness has blinded their eyes” (2:11).

Conclusion: We need to turn to Jesus and have our eyes healed. When we do, the deception and lies fade away in light of the Truth. We could say that “the scales fall off our eyes” (Acts 9:18). We begin to see with new eyes, hear with new ears, and understand with new hearts. Are they really new? No, but they are restored. Turned away from the Father, we saw only darkness. Many love it because they feel that they can do what they want to do. The problem is that they cannot see the consequences until it is too late to avoid them. Walking in the light of Christ–with Christ–is the only way to avoid wrath (consequences). We who walk in the light, as He is in the light, have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus God’s Son (continuously) cleanses us from all sin (because of Christ’s completed work on the cross). If we have the Son, we have (eternal) life. If we turn away from the Son, we “enter” darkness. Let’s keep our faces turned toward Him.

Tomorrow, we will look at the metaphor of the seed and its significance.

Abba, I don’t need eternal life–I need You. You ARE eternal life. Rather than pining for a perfect location to live, a paradise, I want a relationship with You, and I don’t care where we are or how we live. If I’m with You, then as far as I’m concerned, that’s heaven to me. Your love, Your joy and Your peace allow me to endure and even enjoy the most dire circumstances. I know that this world will pass away, but Your promise to be in me and I in You forever will never change. I have You and that’s all I need. Thank You, Abba, Jesus, and Spirit for living in me and I in You, and including me in Your fellowship.

Proverbs 7 11-7-21

We cannot understand the Bible unless the Spirit gives us spiritual insight into the meaning of the Scriptures. Will we listen?

24 Now then, my children, listen to me; pay attention to what I say.

The apostle Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). At a time when there were no New Covenant Scriptures and virtually no Christians, it made sense for Paul to tell the Corinthians to follow his lead. Nowadays, we have an entire culture based upon Judeo-Christian values (although, not so much anymore), the Old and New Testaments, and plenty of people to imitate concerning godly living.

But, Christian living is much more than imitation. We have the Holy Spirit in us to guide us along the way. The early Christians did, too, and leaned heavily upon Him for guidance through a very pagan world. It may be that our culture has made it too easy for us to be lax in our dependency upon Christ. As our nation drifts farther away from those Judeo-Christian values, we Christians will need to go back to the basics. What are those basics? They begin with knowing what Jesus said:

  1. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” John 14:6. To know the Father, we must know the Son. To know the Son is to know the Spirit of the Son and the Father.
  2. “If you love me, keep my commands.” “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them” John 14:15 and 21.
  3. “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.

So far, we have us coming to Jesus, obeying Him and having Him and the Father and the Spirit coming to live in us. He (they) will tell us everything we need to know. These are the words of Jesus. He is our Lord and Master, King of the Universe. We are to listen to Him. Nothing else matters. If we knew nothing but these few verses, we would make it just fine because we have been promised that the Spirit would teach us what Jesus said and meant, and what the next step would be.

Caveat: I envision them coming to live in me much like the old couple in the car. She said, “Remember when we used to sit close together and cuddle as we drove?” He (who was driving) replied, “Honey, I never moved.” Like the Prodigal, the Father waits for us to come home even as Jesus comes to find us. Isn’t that exciting?!

Maybe losing our Christian culture would be the catalyst for revival among the Church (as a whole), especially in America! The Gospel is spreading like wildfire in restricted countries; why not here? Maybe we need some pruning. We certainly need some focus. Let’s be available to the Spirit to help us take the mighty stone of the Gospel and turn it into a mighty mountain that fills the entire earth (Daniel 2:35).

May we pledge our lives to Jesus Christ anew this morning.

Abba, I pledge my life to You. May we, together as partners, do mighty works that glorify Your name in heaven and earth. You lead, I will follow. THAT’S a partnership I can trust and enjoy! I love You, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 7 10-7-21

We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us: Be reconciled to God!

13 She took hold of him and kissed him and with a brazen [uncovered, painted] face she said, “Today I fulfilled my vows [probably at a pagan temple], and I have food from my fellowship offering at home. So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you!”

With the same enthusiasm that this woman looked for and appealed to this man, Jesus wants us to continue His mission, although we will do it with unveiled faces and with ourselves being the temple of God! As we finish our study on 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, verses 18-21 are about the ministry that God has given us,

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

  1. We are reconciled to God through Christ. God loves us so much that He came as Jesus to reconcile us back to Himself. We now can have sweet, intimate fellowship with Him. One of the best verses in the Bible is Revelation 3:20 where Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and he/she with me.” Dinner was a near-sacred time for Jewish folks. To eat with them was to temporarily become “one of the family.” Jesus wants us to become part of His family–He wants to adopt us!
  2. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. In the same way that we were reconciled to God (we accepted His love and His kingdom into our hearts and lives), we are now to tell others what happened to us and how they can have it happen to them. That’s what sharing the Gospel is: Sharing good news with others.
  3. What is this good news? “that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins again them.” This is big, folks! It means that even the people who put Jesus on the cross were included in this reconciliation (not just the Roman soldiers, but the people in charge who ordered the execution). The kingdom–Jesus–is now available to anyone who receives it (Him).
  4. This message of reconciliation is what we are to take to the world. We are ambassadors for Christ. We are to implore people to receive the reconciliation that the Father offers through Jesus.

Verse 21 has a lot packed into it. Here it is:

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The first thing we need to know is that Jesus is our Representative. Just as Adam was our first representative, which is why we are all born with a sin nature, Jesus has become our second Representative, which is why we all can be reconciled to God through Him (C.S. Lewis refers to it as “the deeper magic).

The second thing we need to know is that all sin was laid on Him, and then He took it to the grave. Sin died with Jesus Christ. The good news is that Jesus rose up out of that grave, leaving death behind.

The third thing is that now we can become the righteousness of God. How? By having Christ in us. HE is our righteousness, and because He is in us, we become that righteousness, too.

Summary of the entire passage:

  1. We fear the Lord, but not as the world fears their leaders. We fear out of awe and respect.
  2. God is concerned about what is in the heart, so we must be, too.
  3. Christ died for all so that all who live should not live for themselves, but for Christ.
  4. We view everyone who doesn’t know Christ as prospective brothers and sisters.
  5. All who are in Christ are new creations; they are brand new!
  6. This great message has been given to us to share to others. We are His ambassadors.
  7. The message is: We have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. You can be, too!”
  8. God makes His appeal through us as extensions of Him on planet earth.
  9. God took our sin to the grave and left it there so that we could receive and become His righteousness.

May we recognize our new relationship with God the Father, our new position as Christ’s ambassadors, and our new Companion, the Holy Spirit.

Abba, may we recognize who we are in Christ (Your ambassadors) and get excited about sharing what You have done in our lives. We are new creations! We got that way by being reconciled to You. You live in our hearts. THAT’S GOOD NEWS! Thank You for being my Representative and for taking my sin to the grave. Now, I walk in Your righteousness even as You live in me and walk with me. Please give me opportunities to share this good news. Amen.

Proverbs 7 9-7-21

The Bible has some intriguing promises in it for us. Want to check out a few? Read on…

18 “Come, let’s drink deeply of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love! [the problem is that what she is calling love is really an addiction to lust; real love comes from the Father]

There are several verses that promise us that we will overflow with certain qualities and attributes. What are these special verses?

Hope- In what is to come. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13. Joy and peace flow from our hope.

Love- His love in us. “May the Lord make your love [that He has given you] increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12.

Joy- Knowing Him and being part of His plans. “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and [amidst] their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” 2 Corinthians 8:2

Peace- Resting in the knowledge that we are safe. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Grace- What we have received, we give. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1:14. His love gives us faith. We feel it; we know it deep within us. It is foundational.

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

Life- Springs of living water flow from us. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of [living] water welling up to eternal life.” John 10:10, 4:10, 14.

A person might ask, “How do I partake of these promises?” They are found in the Person of Jesus Christ. Colossians 2:6-7 says it best, “Continue to live your lives IN Him.” How do we do that? By establishing Him as the foundation of our lives and then building our lives on Him. Here’s how that works:

  1. With our mouths confess Him as Lord of our lives. It’s important to say it out loud. There’s something concrete about the words leaving our mouths. It’s why the courts have us sworn in; it’s why we say vows in marriages, and it’s why we “confess with our mouths, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead” and we are saved (Romans 10:9-10).
  2. Start a list of all the important things in our lives: people, money, houses, job, cars and other possessions, fame, belonging, power, influence, etc. Now go over each one asking the Lord what He wants you to do concerning each one. It’s not easy and it takes a while. He usually won’t ask us to give up everything at once–but sometimes He does! Are we willing to give Him all?
  3. Ask someone to help you. We all need mentors, someone who can kickstart us in our walk with Christ by giving us verses, pointers, and guidance, but will also encourage us to seek the Father in prayer and Bible study, and will pray for us and with us.

Most people see their lives as a pie that is cut into several pieces, each piece representing a segment of our lives: Work, family, entertainment, church, etc. The problem is that Jesus wants all the pieces. It makes better sense to see our lives as a target with our relationship and fellowship with Christ at the center, our family and close relationships in the next concentric ring, then our work in the next ring, our entertainment in the next, etc. We always go to the center before going to any of the other rings. It’s called, “Hitting the mark,” which is the opposite of sin (“missing the mark”).

Want to know why many Christians don’t serve Jesus with all their hearts? It’s because they live their lives by the “PIE” illustration. It’s also why they don’t experience the promises listed above, or at least not with regularity or intensive measure. Let’s take Jesus up on His promises. I know He wants us to!

Abba, thank You for Your promises. I strive to experience them every day. I admit I am hooked on Your love, joy, peace, hope and grace. I am, indeed, overflowing with thankfulness. Now, I ask that You overflow me with life so that I can share You and Your grace with others. I am truly grateful, Lord. I am Yours. Amen.

Proverbs 7 8-7-21

If you could boil down your Christian beliefs to its base components, what would they be? Mine are below.

4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and to insight, “You are my relative.”

Today, I have the honor and privilege to give a small, inspiring speech to a beautiful graduate. She has been home-schooled and didn’t get a graduation ceremony, so her mom and dad are having one for her. As I consider what to say, I think I’ll start at my beginning:

When I trusted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I believed what He told me about His Word, “Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth.” John 17:17. I believed that His Word is the truth, therefore I could read it and know that through it I was being sanctified. I didn’t know what “sanctified” meant at the time, but I do now. The dictionary definition is, “To be made holy.” My own definition is, “To be like Jesus, which is holy.” So, if I read my Bible regularly and do what it says, then I will become like Jesus.

So, Elyanne, I want to inspire you to do what I did. I boiled my Christian beliefs down to these two components:

  1. Trust Jesus.
  2. Read the Bible.

If you will do these two things over and over again each day, then you will become just like Jesus. From here, I would like to inspire you to something else: Take it to a higher level and become a Bible scholar. Robin is in the middle of a study on Galatians written by Beth Moore and her daughter, Melissa. Beth is a Bible scholar in her own right, but Melissa takes it to another level. Melissa:

  • holds an M.A. in Biblical Exegesis (Wheaton Collage Graduate School, 2007),
  • a Th.M. (Theology Masters) in Biblical Studies (Columbia Theological Seminary, 2010)
  • and an M.A. in Biblical Languages (Houston Baptist University, 2016).
  • See “Now That Faith Has Come,” A Study of Galatians.

She has such a passion for God’s Word that she has learned to read it in Hebrew and Greek. She may even be able to read it in Aramaic and Latin!

You don’t have to be just like Melissa, but I want you to realize that you can be whatever God puts in your heart. Don’t limit yourself; stay open to what the Lord is telling you and where the Spirit is leading you. One more thing, many times, we must follow Him over the hill to find the road that He is really leading us to take. Don’t be afraid to change and adjust. Rarely does He take us straight to the goal; there are people to meet, folks to which to minister, and all kinds of things to learn along the way.

That’s good advice for all of us, don’t you think?

Abba, bless Elyanne today as we celebrate this benchmark in her life. May she trust You and read her Bible faithfully, even as she has since she was saved. May we all turn up the heat on both in our lives, as well. Thank You, Abba, for Elyanne. Amen.

Proverbs 7 7-7-21

How do you see Jesus? How do we reconcile the Loving Jesus with the Wrathful Jesus of Matthew 23 or Revelation 19?

24 Now then, my children, listen to Me; pay attention to what I say.

I see Jesus three ways: Compassionate, sorrowful, and angry. Let’s discuss them.

Jesus was compassionate toward all people. He received anyone who came to Him. “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away [cast out].” John 6:37. All He desires is for us to follow Him with an undivided heart. We have passages like Luke 9:57-62 of the three men that Jesus either called to follow Him or they asked to follow Him; He wanted them to follow Him, but they needed to do it with an undivided heart. We have the rich, young ruler in Mark 10:17-30 who, again, had a divided heart. We even have Judas, who walked three years with Him, but still betrayed Him, which brings up the next way I see Jesus.

Jesus was sorrowful. He is known from Isaiah 53:3 as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. It broke His heart that people would not receive Him. But, they had to have the choice; it was the only way for everyone to have free will. One of the biggest rejection accounts (besides the crucifixion) is found in John 6. Jesus required that they believe Him to be the Messiah on His terms rather than theirs. Upon hearing Jesus’ way of putting things, “many of His disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?'” (verse 60) and many turned away (verse 66). Jesus turned to His 12 disciples and asked them if they would leave, too. Peter was quick to reply, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (verse 68). He had a pure and undivided heart.

Jesus was also angry at times. It is interesting that the only people with whom He got angry were the religious leaders. They weren’t just not following Him; they were leading other people astray. Jesus had this to say about them:

13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying toMatthew 23:14

15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. Matthew 23:15

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Matthew 23:37

Within 40 years, that generation of leaders did, indeed, see “the Son of Man coming in the clouds” as He brought judgment upon Israel and particularly Jerusalem through Rome just as He did through Assyria and Babylon. They would not accept Jesus as the Final Sacrificial Lamb and stop the ceremonial sacrifices, so Jesus brought an end to the Old System Himself. The sacrificial system has never been “resurrected.”

There are two nuggets of wisdom to draw from seeing Jesus in these ways:

  1. Jesus loves those who receive Him. He bestows all of His kingdom treasures on those who choose Him, “Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God–” John 1:12
  2. Jesus Is LORD. Everyone WILL bow the knee to Him. We have this promise in Philippians 2:9-11,
    Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name
    10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth
    11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

We serve a risen Lord! Let’s serve Him with everything we have!

Abba, when I look at You in the Scriptures, I see You in the human form of Jesus (Philippians 2:6-8). I should think of Him as nothing less than You in the flesh (Matthew 1:23, John 1:14). May my readers see You this way, too, even as we tell of Your patient endurance with us, Your compassion, and Your AGAPE love (godly, selfless love that gives what we need rather than what we deserve). Amen.

Proverbs 7 6-7-21

Christianity is forever. It begins when Christ Jesus enters your heart and life. He places eternity in our hearts!

2 Keep my commands and you will live [forever]; guard my teachings [and my promises] as the apple of your eye.

Paul said in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” In verse 38, he says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life…” God’s perspective is a heavenly one in that He sees this world as a very temporary assignment. When life here is done, we go to be with Him, which is our permanent assignment.

Therefore, death cannot be looked at as losing. In fact, our eternal reward begins when we die (2 Timothy 4:8). We can never be separated from the love of Christ! Let’s read it:

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul uses Christ and God interchangeably. Why? Because the Holy Spirit = Jesus Christ = God. We know them as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three-in-one.

How can Paul be so sure? Jesus told us. It’s one of His promises. It’s in John 10:28-30,

28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

That’s a double-fisted grip. No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth can break that grip! We Baptists call that the security of the believer. We can’t even wiggle out–why would we try?!!!

Let’s praise the Lord for His amazing love and the security we have in Him!

Abba, I praise You for who You are–God! You are my Lord and Savior. You are my King. May I love You and fear You at the same time; may I enjoy Your sweet fellowship all the while being aware that You are King of the Universe. You are God (and I am not). May Your will be done in my life and on earth even as it is in heaven. Amen.

Proverbs 7 5-7-21

Knowing where we are in our walk with Christ is important. It allows us to know how to move forward with Him.

24 Now, my children, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. 25 Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray to her paths, [we must be diligent and intentional]

The “her” mentioned here is the adulterous woman, who is an example of Desire. She exemplifies anything in our lives that tempt us to step outside the boundaries set by the Lord. Whether it’s food, sex, hobbies, books, movies, or free time, anything about which we do not consult the Spirit before partaking sets us up for moral and spiritual failure. We tend to forget that we have an enemy who will use us to further his plan of usurping God. Satan wants God’s throne (Isaiah 14:12-15); in the meantime, he desires the throne of our hearts.

The discipleship book through which we are going on Sunday evenings has a summary and profile of each stage of a person’s spiritual growth. We will look at these five profiles over the next few days.

General Characteristics:

  1. Dead– unbelieving, rebellious. Satan is on the throne of this person’s heart (Ephesians 2:1-3).
  2. Infant– ignorant, confused, dependent. The unseating of Satan from a person’s heart and the rise of Christ to that throne is tumultuous: buried with Christ in His death and raised to walk in newness of life! (Romans 6:4).
  3. Child– self-centered, self-absorbed, idealistic, prideful or low view of self (or both at different times), interdependent. You know, childish.
  4. Young Adult– Action/service-oriented, zealous , God-centered, others-centered, mission-minded but incomplete in his or her understanding (Proverbs 19:2), independent.
  5. Parent– Intentional, strategic, reproduction-minded, self-feeding, mission-minded, team-minded (unity matters), dependable.

Have you found yourself in one of these categories? Did other people come to mind as you read through them? It’s usually easier to identify someone else’s position than our own. Let’s ask the Lord where we are in this list. We need to know our starting position in order to know how to move ahead. I love this quote,

“God loves us right where we are,
but He loves us too much to leave us there.”

Let’s place ourselves in His capable, loving hands and ask Him to guide us to our next stage.

Abba, You are a God of order. You set up the heavens and all creation in an orderly design. You designed us to grow spiritually just as we do physically. May we pay attention to Your Spirit today as You gently and quietly (most of the time) lead us in our walk with You. Grow us, Lord; don’t allow us to stay where we are. We want to be like You, Jesus, and that means daily growth. We need to always be moving “higher [further] up and further in” with You. We are Yours; do with us as You will. Amen.

Proverbs 7 4-7-21

The Israelites broke the Mosaic covenant with the LORD, of which we weren’t even a part, yet. Aren’t we glad that Jesus established a new one?!

18 “Come, let’s drink deeply of love till morning; 19 my husband is not at home…”

When we read the prophets, we find these two verses describe Israel. She had broken her marriage vow with the LORD–many times. He allowed her to be carried off first by the Assyrians and then the Babylonians. After her return to the land of Israel, the Lord never demonstrated His presence in the second temple, nor did He speak through the prophets for 400 years.

The next prophet to prophesy was Mary. Listen to her prophecy: From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me–holy is His name” Luke 1:48-49. John the Baptist’s dad, Zechariah, was the next person to prophesy, “He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David…to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham…and you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him…” Luke 1:69, 73, 76.

The next person to prophesy was Simeon, the temple priest, who consecrated Jesus when Mary and Joseph presented Him at the temple. Listen to his prophecy: “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations; a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel” Luke 2:30-32. The last person to testify was John the Baptist himself, “I baptize you with water for repentance, But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” Matthew 3:11.

Did you catch a running theme?

  • Mary – All future generations would be blessed by her offspring.
  • Zechariah – Salvation has come, the offspring of David, and the answer to the oath sworn to Abraham; his son, John, would prepare the way for Him.
  • Simeon – Salvation would come through Him to all nations; He would be a light to the Gentiles and the glory of the people of Israel-well, all those who believe in Him. Even today, the traditional leaders of Israel teach to NOT believe in Jesus as Messiah.
  • John the Baptist – The coming of the Holy Spirit! John prophesied about the point of Jesus’ coming, which culminated at Pentecost. The fire mentioned was judgement upon the unbelieving leadership. This judgement happened in 70 AD at the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

What did Jesus come to do? It’s called the New Covenant; we’ll talk about it tomorrow. In the meantime, let’s glory in what Christ has done for us. He is our Messiah! He is Yeshua Ha-Mashiach!

Abba, thank You for all You have done for us through Jesus Christ. The fulfilling of first the Abrahamic covenant and then the Mosaic Covenant in the New Covenant was genius! Would that all Jews—all people!—would see what You did there. I pray for them that they would come to recognize You, Jesus, as their Messiah even as we do. May Your kingdom come, and may Your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven, which is immediately and fully. Amen.

Proverbs 7 3-7-21

Chapter 7 is about who I call the Mistress. If we are not careful, we all may have one. Do you?

15 I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you!

Each week as we prepare to go to church, we get the chance to ask ourselves this question: Is there anything that I have put in front of the Lord in my life? If so, then we have a mistress. We don’t choose her; she looks for us–a better term may be “hunt.” Satan and his demons seek those who have weak spots in their hedge of protection, chinks in their spiritual armor. It’s the main reason God has us set aside one day a week to be all about Him. The sabbath was the time in Israel’s week when they stopped all activities and focused on the LORD. Nowadays, we don’t celebrate quite the same way, but we do have a day in our week that we interrupt our schedules to spend time together in celebration and praise of Him, prayer, learning, and fellowship. It’s called, “Church.”

So, let me ask again: What in your life comes before the Lord? Your job? Your medicine (liquid, recreational, or whatever)? Your fun? Your will? Your desires? Your kids’ success? Jesus describes anything that comes between Him and us as masters.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [that which satisfies, specifically wealth]. Matthew 6:24

Those who refuse to look because they know that they have a mistress have lost their fear of God. If they were to look closely, they would find that God wants us to fear Him so that He can lead us in a way that we are not destroyed by sin. To think that we are on the same level with God usually winds up with us deciding that our way is better than God’s way. What we forget is that He has a complete view of everything and a pure heart that wants only our good. If we could get past our feelings, we would be able to see clearly that His way is always best for us. Sadly, Psalm 36:2 describes a lot of people, even Christians, “In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin.”

May we not be like that! Let’s open our eyes and look at ourselves with a discerning heart. Let’s ask the Spirit to shine His light on any area that is not surrendered to Him. Let’s make our sabbath be what it was originally intended to be: A day of introspection and celebration with God the Father, through the Jesus the Son, with the help of the Holy Spirit as we recognize His sovereign place in the world and in our lives. Let’s make today all about Him.

Abba, as I look at my life, I pray that You will open my eyes to anything that I am keeping to myself and not letting You have. I know that everything I surrender to You becomes sanctified and is used to make me more like You–even sin! I praise You that You have changed my relationship with sin so that it no longer separates me from You–I still have to deal with the consequences, but not being in Your presence is not one of them–but now has become a tool in Your hand as You shape me into Christ’s image. Thank You that in Christ I am still being “fearfully and wonderfully made” as I am transformed into His image. Keep it up, Abba. I want to be just like You! Amen.

Proverbs 7 2-7-21

A successful Christian realizes that he can do nothing on his own. He, and we, need the Spirit!

25 Do not let your heart turn to her [Desire’s] ways or stray into her paths.

The lure of desire is too much for us humans. Just ask Adam and Eve. Eve felt the desire to be wise like God and it cost her–it cost us! When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Genesis 3:6. If Adam and Eve, perfect as they were, could not resist the lure of temptation, what chance do we have? “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is [so easily led astray and] subject to death?” Romans 7:24.

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:26

Therefore, there is now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

The law said to not covet; we coveted (wanting what someone else has instead of them having it), and according to the law, we had to die. Christ died for us, so that we could live through His resurrection. Now, instead of living by the law of sin and death, we live according to the law of the Spirit, which is LIFE! Our sins are no longer held against us. But, neither are we doomed to sin and fleshly desires. We now have the Spirit in us to give us the want-to to want to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. Let me say it again, if we are in Christ, there is NO CONDEMNATION. None! Zilch. Zero. We could live in sin the rest of our lives and still not be under the condemnation of God. The good news is that if we have the Spirit of God in us, we won’t want to live in sin the rest of our lives. The starting point is realizing that we are free in Christ to love God with all our hearts. It’s all He wants from us.

So, if you feel resistant in giving your whole life to the LORD, it’s just your flesh trying to draw you back in. Consider giving Him the deeper part of your being. Recognizing the Spirit’s voice in our minds is one of the first and liberating feats of becoming a disciple. Also, if being obedient to Him in your daily life seems overwhelming, try giving Him your current inner thoughts and motives. “If you change the way you think, you’ll change the way you feel.” –Beth Moore. Reading His Word is the best way to know what God is thinking.

Psalm 73:21-26 is amazing to read every day. allow it to minister to you.

21 When my heart was grieved
    and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
    I was a brute beast before you.

23 Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

Begin with this prayer to the Lord Jesus, “Lord Jesus, I give all I know of myself to all I know of You. Please increase both today.” Tomorrow, pray this prayer again based upon what you have learned about yourself and about the Lord. Trust me, it works. I’ve prayed this prayer for years.

Abba, I want to pray it again: I give all I know of myself to all I know of You. Please increase both today. As I learn about myself, I see me as incapable of getting along without You. I know I can’t be righteous and holy without You. As I learn about You, I see a God who loves me with abandon–You abandoned Your throne to come to earth and rescue me! Wow! May I experience more and more of Your love. Amen.

Proverbs 7 1-7-21

What is it exactly in our lives that draws people to want to know our LORD? Why would they want to be like us?

25 Do not let your heart turn to her [temptation’s] ways or stray into her paths.

The problem is that we have all “turned to her ways and strayed into her paths.” For me, the big question is, “How do I avoid temptation from now on?” The answer to this question is found in chapter 9, verse 15, “…calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way…” Jesus said to “enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” Matthew 7:13-14.

This narrow road we are on runs parallel with the broad road, but we are going the other way. Somehow, people on the broad road and we on the narrow road cross paths (it’s a spiritual thing) and God gives those people the opportunity to see and decide to join Him on the narrow road. For us, it’s more about how we live than what we say. The Spirit is quite capable and, indeed, necessary to bring conviction in those people’s lives. For us, James 1:19-21 gives us a clear picture of day-to-day living.

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

The first part of this verse is speaking to those who are part of God’s family and are interested in producing righteousness in their lives. James gives us some very good wisdom. I have heard it said that God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we would listen twice as much as we talk. Point taken.

It’s the next part that hits us where we live. There are three assumptions:

  1. There is moral filth and evil in our lives;
  2. That we want to get rid of that moral filth and “the evil that is so prevalent;”
  3. That the word is planted in us.

We spend our whole lives rooting out ungodliness in our lives. But, lest we think that God is ever unhappy with us because of our filthiness and failures, let us remember these truths:

  1. We have the righteousness of Christ. HE HAS ALREADY MADE US RIGHTEOUS (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  2. His joy overflows in our lives because HE is joyful in our lives. It’s what living water is all about (John 4:14 and John 7:38).
  3. Our heavenly Father uses the trials in our lives to teach us and to grow us. It’s all about the relationship.
  4. When He is ready, He will instantly glorify us, so we don’t have to worry about not ever reaching any certain point of godliness (1 Corinthians 15:53).

So, let us get rid of all moral filth and prevalent evil by humbly accepting the word that has been–and is being–planted in us. The question is, how hard are we working at it? Is reading a chapter of Proverbs a day doing it for us? Should we be reading more? How about aligning ourselves with Him in prayer? Are our prayers perfunctory or do we crave His Presence and Participation in our lives? Maybe we need to venture outside the norm and “up our game” according to my pastor, Bryan. Let’s be more about the Father’s business and less about our own.

Abba, this world looks dark right now, but I know that You have everything well in hand. I also know that our lights shine brighter when the world is darker. Please draw Your people into close relation to You and teach us to shine brightly for the world to see, especially to those around us. We love You and trust You, and Your love drives out our fear of disease, political turmoil, loss of security, and even death. Thank You for so great AND COMPLETE a salvation. Amen.

Proverbs 7 12-7-20

The danger of not asking the Holy Spirit for guidance is running the risk of making a rash decision based upon partial information.

1 My child, keep my words and store up my commands within you. 2 Keep my commands and you will live…

I can think of a couple of reasons why I don’t ask the Holy Spirit for guidance.

  1. I’m afraid that He will not agree with my assessment.
  2. It takes too much time to ask Him, get an answer, and then carry out His will.

The first reason is arrogance (haughtiness) and the second is sloth (laziness). We ran into both of these attitudes in the garden with Adam and Eve. Eve, in her arrogance, thought that she could make the decision on her own about eating the fruit. Bad news. Adam was standing right there (see Genesis 3:6); he allowed Eve to be the spiritual leader of his household. Bad move. He was lazy. The most interesting part of the story is that it has been the tendency since then for women to desire control and for men to let them have it (see Genesis 3:16).

We combat these two attitudes with the godly attitudes of humility and servanthood. Luke tells two parables of Jesus that deal with humility and servanthood. The first parable is found in Luke 17:7-10. We serve our LORD Jesus Christ, doing as He commands. So, what is our attitude? “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'” The second parable is in Luke 18:10-14, about the Pharisee and the tax collector who went to worship. The Pharisee was arrogant, but the tax collector was humble. According to Jesus, the tax collector went home justified before God. He finished the parable with this teaching, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Let’s be neither arrogant nor lazy, but let’s take on the nature of a servant, just like Jesus did. “taking the very nature [form] of a servant.” Philippians 2:7.

Abba, may we be diligent in following You, our LORD and Savior. May I recognize arrogance and laziness in me when my flesh rears its ugly head and replace them with humility and servanthood. Make me more like you, LORD, through practice. Keep taking me back to the obstacle course until I master it! Amen.