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.

Proverbs 7 11-7-20

We are light-bearers. Our job is to pray. We are to present others before our Father in heaven. Let’s get started!

21 With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk.

In the same way–but with pure motives–we are to present people to the Father. If this young man had been a man of character, he would never have been on her street in the first place. But, if he DID find himself in a conversation with her, his mind and intent would be focused on her soul and not her body. He would:

  1. Go to the Father in prayer for his own success in keeping his attention on her soul and not her body, especially by maintaining his distance from her physically;
  2. Present her to the Father asking for her soul for His kingdom;
  3. Listen to the Holy Spirit as He gave him insight into her life and circumstances;
  4. Speak the words that come to mind even as he is talking to her;
  5. Keep his tone quiet and gentle, or at least cordial if she gets angry and hostile;
  6. Continue to pray for her after the conversation is over;
  7. Immediately call or go see a Christian friend who will hold him accountable and can be a witness after-the-fact concerning the event, and can join him in prayer for this woman.

This approach can and should be used for every conversation we have with lost folks. Our goal is to build bridges for the Gospel. Anything that would hinder building those bridges must be removed from our vocabulary, our habits, and our personality. Why is it so important to become like Christ? Because WE get in the way of the Gospel! We must:

  1. Die to ourselves and live for Christ- “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. This life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God [Jesus Christ] who loves me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
  2. Practice Romans 12:9-21
    1. Our love must be sincere; hate evil and cling to what is good;
    2. Honor others above ourselves;
    3. Keep our spiritual fervor through the spiritual disciplines;
    4. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer;
    5. Bless those who persecute us; bless and do not curse;
    6. Do not be proud; do not be conceited;
    7. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; Be righteous;
    8. As far as possible, live at peace with everyone;
    9. Do not take revenge; on the contrary, we are to meet the needs of our enemies; in this way, we heap burning coals of conviction on their heads;
    10. We are NOT to be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
  3. Pray, pray, pray! “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18. Also, Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Thessalonians 5:17

The election is not over, yet. Please pray for God’s man to be in office. If there is any wrong-doing, pray that it would be exposed. Pray for the peace and salvation of our nation. PRAY FOR REVIVAL!

Abba, I come to You on behalf of my nation asking for You to intervene in the plans of men and have Your will accomplished. May the men and women of God who are in office stand up and be counted for you; may those who oppose You be put to shame–or better, fall under conviction of the Holy Spirit and become obedient to Your Spirit. May Your will be done in our lives and in America. Amen.

Proverbs 7 10-7-20

How does one keep his heart from turning to temptation’s way? How do we keep from straying from the right path?

25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths.

The first thing we notice is that the writer is looking out from the window of his house–he was actually peeking through the blinds! He was where he was supposed to be as the day ended: At home, presumably with his family. The youth was out with other young men; also, he knew where the adulteress worked and when she worked. It was intentional.

Let’s be intentional about NOT sinning. We know that all sin destroys us, so let’s stay away from it. Andy Stanley says to set up guard rails away from the edge of our temptation, far enough away to keep us from even getting close. The placement of the guard rails may be different for each person, but the cliff is the same for everyone!

The second thing we notice is that temptation (in this case, in the form of an adulteress) comes dressed for the hunt. It (she) will grab us and get our full attention just like she did with this young man: She planted a big fat kiss on him. Then, she offered him a night full of fun and revelry. He may have fended her off if she hadn’t kissed him. We will never know. The best thing to do is to NOT let temptation kiss us. Tell your children, especially your youth, to never do something just to try it. “Just once” may end up an addiction–or even death. Ask the young basketball player who tried cocaine “just once.” He had a heart attack and died! Again, guard rails.

While we’re talking about guard rails, how do we know how to set them and how to live by them? We go to Proverbs 3:5-6,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

There are other Scriptures that teach us:

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
    for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
    lead me on level ground.
Psalm 143:8-10

The third thing we notice is that once he decided to follow her, there was no turning back. DESIRE took over and that was that. It’s like having a tooth worked on while using nitrous oxide (laughing gas). You know it hurts; you just don’t care. There’s a disconnect from you and your body. With sin, we can watch ourselves do it as if we are a disinterested party watching it happen. The problem is that WE are stuck with the consequences. Sin is fun for a season, but “in the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.” Proverbs 23:32.

Let’s commit ourselves right now to the LORD and to His protection from the evil one. May we do everything we know to do: Read His Word, pray continuously, honor guard rails, hang with the right people, and be where we are supposed to be at the time we’re supposed to be there. We then trust Him to give us the power, discernment, understanding and perseverance to weather the storm.

Abba, I KNOW I’m not strong enough to stand close to the edge. Keep me far away from sin; I have enough trouble managing my mouth and my thoughts. May my heart be set on You and Your holiness, O LORD. I want to be just like You–much more than I want to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of this life, especially with the toll they take on a person. Your presence is exceedingly greater than anything this world has to offer! I love You. Amen.

Proverbs 7 9-7-20

Has it ever occurred to you that the man in today’s chapter had no reason not to go meet the harlot? Sinners sin!

7 I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who had no sense.

Christians tend to forget what it was like before coming to Christ. Sin was FUN! We had no guilt concerning doing things that God considers wrong and harmful. It wasn’t until the Holy Spirit began to open our eyes to God’s way of seeing things that we began to see how destructive sin is to us and how arrogant we were to our Creator. Proverbs 15:21 says, “Folly [carnal thinking] delights a man who has no sense, but whoever has understanding keeps a straight course.” We all thought in this way at one point:

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. Titus 3:3

We were “without hope and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:12b. Aren’t we glad the LORD saved us?!!! Now that we have the Holy Spirit living inside us and we are dead to our old selves, our desire should now be to please God and give Him everything.

Our desire to do anything and be anything for Him
is the Holy Spirit burning bright within us.

Do you have this desire burning in you? Pray that it is–or pray that it does. I will be praying for you:

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19

The more we know Him, the more we love Him; the more we love Him, the more we trust Him; the more we trust Him, the more we obey Him; the more we obey Him, the more our confidence grows in Him, which is our faith. The more faith we have, the more we want to know Him–and the cycle continues in an upward spiral! This faith is based on the grace of God, which “teaches us to say, ‘No,’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” (Titus 2:12).                

Let’s engage the LORD in conversation, interaction, and praise as we go about this holiday. I KNOW you have time today to sit down and do it! It’s important.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would, indeed, spend time with You in Bible study and prayer today. Call them to do the work so that they can enjoy the benefits. Reveal Yourself to them. Speak to their hearts. May they feel Your desire for righteous living and holy lives. May we feel Your pleasure when we are obedient to Your Spirit. Give us that certain satisfaction that comes when we are pleasing to You. May it be our first goal all day, everyday. Amen.

Proverbs 7 8-7-20

Today’s chapter reminds me of Hansel and Gretel. Did she know she was a pawn in Satan’s hand? The result was the same, “Many are the victims she has brought down…” (26).

10 Then out came a woman to meet him,
    dressed like a prostitute…
13 She took hold of him and kissed him
and with a brazen face she said:
14 “Today I fulfilled my vows,
and I have food from my fellowship offering at home.
15 So I came out to meet you;
I looked for you and have found you!
16 I have covered my bed
with colored linens from Egypt.
17 I have perfumed my bed
with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.
18 Come, let’s drink deeply of love till morning;
let’s enjoy ourselves with love!

Notice the progression:

  1. She was dressed provocatively. Guys are visually tempted.
  2. She kissed him. She really had his attention now! The kiss was like the first hit on a cigarette or cocaine: it gives an incredible high and wraps the brain receptors around the drug. From that point on, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DRUG!
  3. Her words were well-chosen with just the right amount of tease with an enticement of food and wine. She appealed to his stomach, as well!
  4. She lied to him! He could have been anyone. She was waiting for any unsuspecting soul to come walking by that she could snare. This guy was the (un)lucky one.
  5. Her den of iniquity was fixed up in such a way that it appealed to his senses: Linens from Egypt, perfumed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. It sounded like a tasty treat and smelled good, too.
  6. The invitation: “Come, let’s together have some real fun. Never mind that I’m someone else’s wife and property.”

At this point, if the young man (or woman, depending on reverse circumstances) has the Holy Spirit within him, the Spirit says, “NO!” If he desires to please God above Himself, then he will walk away–miserable, of course, for a few minutes, but victorious. But, if he has not settled in his heart who is God, then he is fertile soil for such sinister seed.

21 With persuasive words she led him astray;
    she seduced him with her smooth talk. She knew he wanted her. She had him!
22 All at once he followed her  He made the decision. It is certainly too late to turn back now–not without outside intervention.
    like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer stepping into a noose
23     till an arrow pierces his liver [deadly shot],
like a bird darting into a snare,
    little knowing it will cost him his life.

Sin makes you go further than you intend to go,
stay longer than you intend to stay,
and pay more than you want to pay.

22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22

We must decide NOW how we will react THEN. We must learn to call on the Holy Spirit at the BEGINNING of the temptation rather than near the END of it. Guarding the way we think will govern how we feel when tempted. If we know that we have a weakness in a certain area, then we STAY AWAY from that certain area, or have someone with us who will keep us accountable. OUTSIDE INTERVENTION is an acceptable option–and a life saver!

Let us:

  1. Die to self. We died with Christ and went into the grave.
  2. Live for Him. We are resurrected to walk in newness of life with Him.

This pattern of living is something every faithful Christian does everyday, every hour, every decision. It’s a WAY OF LIFE.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will take this pattern seriously. They will never get to know You unless they do. Oh, how You want them to know You! But, ultimately, You leave the decision to us. I choose to die to self and live for You. May they do the same. I love You and thank You for Your sacrifice on my behalf. I choose You, Jesus. Reign in my heart as we walk together today. Amen.

Proverbs 7 7-7-20

On this day, 11 years ago, I made my first post on WordPress. Proverbs followed shortly thereafter. Here ’tis.

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

“Do not be drunk with wine which leads to debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18

For many years, I have used this verse as a platform for abstinence of any kind, be it alcohol, drugs, nihilism, fornication, etc. I would use the last part of the verse to conclude that we are not to be controlled by anything but by the Holy Spirit. This teaching is good and it is correct, but I must admit that it is elementary.

Another teaching that I preach quite often is that our works are made up of only two kinds: response to the Spirit or resistance to the Spirit. The first kind is made of gold, silver, and precious gems, the second kind is made of wood, hay, and stubble (1 Cor. 3:12-13. When we place our gifts on the altar, the outcome will be what we offer to the Lord Jesus at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). This teaching is good and it is correct, but I must admit that it, too, is elementary.

The Lord has been impressing me with a pattern of thought that I have read about, but never considered it for myself. I am now in the process of integrating it into my everyday life. I have been brought to the conclusion that being filled with the Spirit has more to do with being conscious of Him every waking moment than it does with what I do or not do. My salvation is based upon a relationship with the Father. The reason I needed a relationship is because I had lost the presence of the Holy Spirit (through Adam) and I have no way of knowing how to please God (Heb. 11:6 editorialized). If it is only through the Holy Spirit that I can please God, then I need to be in contact with the Holy Spirit continually. I know that His Spirit resides in and with me, but how often am I aware of all He is doing and wants to do with and through me?

So, if it’s not the doing that makes my life significant to God, then I will concentrate on what does make me significant to Him, which is my relationship with Him. I want to be aware of His presence in my life every waking moment. That is my aim. By the way, if I am successful, the doing falls in line automatically!

Have a great day getting to know the God of the universe.

Abba, thank You for Your consistency in my life. I know it hasn’t been my doing, but Your faithfulness. Your “patient endurance” with me is what I appreciate most about You: You love me because I am Yours. Now, Father, make me like You. May I grow to be just like Jesus! May my readers assume this same desire and goal. May Your Spirit fall on us, O LORD. We are desperate for it! Amen.

Proverbs 7 6-7-20

Here is #10, part 2, of the Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right. 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

My son, keep my words
    and store up my commands within you [learn them and recite them].
Keep my commands and you will live;
    guard my teachings as the apple of your eye [allow them to encourage you].
Bind them on your fingers;
    write them on the tablet of your heart [discuss them with the Spirit].

#10 What awaits us in heaven? Part 2

There are two things we can count on in the future. One is that God will renew all things; the second is that Jesus will set up His throne in Jerusalem.

There are two things we do not know. One is to what extent the renewal will take; the second is whether the New Jerusalem comes with the renewal or after 1000 years.

My take on Scripture is that the renewal of all things (based on Matthew 19:28), which includes the topical earth as we know it as well as all nature concerning the animal kingdom–even the planets in the heavens–will be radically reformed into a Pre-Fall state. The sheer presence and participation of the Holy Spirit WITHOUT any of the fallout of sin will make ALL the difference in how things grow, how animals interact, and how humans “rule” again, just like Adam and Eve. 

Peter gave us a pretty graphic description of “the end of the world” as we know it in 2 Peter 3.

3 Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. 4 They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” Most people believe that earth has been around for millions, if not billions, of years and will be around for as long. Evolution teaches this view.

5 They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. 6 Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. Secular scientists ignore or vehemently refute a worldwide flood. The problem is that with the invention of each new instrument, we find more and more evidence pointing to a worldwide flood! It’s getting to the point where they are looking foolish if not childish to hang onto their point of view. Even so, they “deliberately forget” because to acknowledge a worldwide flood would call them into account with the God of that flood.

7 And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed. This event is linked to the Day of the Lord mentioned in verse 10 when Jesus returns: But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. We know what happens next because we have read it in Isaiah 65:17. 

17 “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore. And in 2 Peter 3:13.

13 But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

When it comes to the Great Flood, water gets most of the attention, but what we now know because of new scientific equipment (and views from space), fire played a key role in the reforming of the earth during the flood. There is a ring of 50,000+ volcanoes in the Pacific Ocean that is called the Ring of Fire. Many of them are still active. There is a volcano recently discovered 590 miles NW off the coast of Hawaii (Pūhāhonu) that is absolutely monstrous, much like–but bigger than–Yellowstone, which covers the corners of four states with an even older and bigger crater underneath that is over 100 miles wide and extends to the eastern edge of Idaho. 

The key to “the end of the world” is that Jesus has promised to make all things new! Listen to this promise:

5 And the one sitting on the throne [Jesus] said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” 6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. 7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

Jesus instructed John to write it down for us so that we would be encouraged. Let’s be encouraged today knowing that He has everything well in-hand. When the time is right, He will come again and restore/renew all things. COUNT ON IT!

Tomorrow: the New Jerusalem!

Abba, thank You for such a wonderful promise. I love that You don’t scrap anything, but redeem everything to be as it was intended–including me! I am SO looking forward to seeing firsthand everything in its renewed state and to enjoy Your world(s) as they were intended to be enjoyed: WITH YOU. Until then, may I keep my eyes on You, my Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 7 5-7-20

What does it take to have a Christ-honoring home? Is that something we really want? How badly?

21 With persuasive words she led him astray;
    she seduced him with her smooth talk.
22 All at once he followed her
    like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer stepping into a noose
23     till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
    little knowing it will cost him his life.

It’s important to realize that temptation is everywhere. Satan has done a GREAT job of bringing it right into our homes–not that we needed a lot of help being tempted. We are quite capable of taking any good pleasure and turning it into an obsession. Beth Moore says that she is twice the enemy to herself than Satan ever thought about being. All we need is a suggestion and off we go, not knowing nor even caring–at the time–what the cost will be.

When Solomon’s temple was dedicated (see 2 Chronicles 5-7), it became the “home” of God. Solomon knew that God was too big to actually live in the temple, but he prayed that God would turn His attention, His eyes, toward the temple (2 Chronicles 6:18-21). The famous verse, 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land,” is taken from Solomon’s conversation with God after the dedication. Here are the next two verses:

15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

We know that at Pentecost, God made our hearts His home. We are now mobile temples! 1 Corinthians 6:19 confirms it: Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? One day, we know that God will once again turn His full attention toward Jerusalem (Isaiah is chocked full of prophecies and verses about God’s unending love for Jerusalem, the temple, and the people of Israel), but we also know that Him living in our hearts was where He has been heading since the Fall (see Genesis 3:15). Installing His Spirit in each believer is exactly what Christ intended when He went to the cross:

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. John 15:7

27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

We are now our own priests to God! Peter even calls us “a royal priesthood.” Therefore, WE are responsible for what goes on in our homes. WE are responsible for the spiritual barometer of our homes. WE are responsible for Christ being “the head of the home, the unseen guest of every meal, the silent listener to every conversation.” WE must dedicate our homes to Him for His glory–whatever that takes!

God consecrated the temple for Himself; I believe He does the same thing with us. May we take our consecration seriously every day. May we dedicate ourselves first and then our house and household. Who knows? One day–soon–we may be having church in our homes with YOU leading!

Abba, we know that “as goes the family, so goes the nation.” Even households of one need to be consecrated unto You. So, I pray for all my readers that they would dedicate themselves to You each morning, committing themselves to prayer and Bible study, and then dedicate their households to You, committing themselves to creating and keeping a godly atmosphere in the home. This action by itself will bring revival to Your church! May it be so, O Lord. Make it happen. Amen.

Proverbs 7 4-7-20

What are you keeping around in your life that keeps calling you back to a life of sin? Isn’t it time to get rid of it?

13 “She took hold of him and kissed him…”

I have Hillary’s old X-Box 360 Game station in a box in the closet. I LOVE to play HALO. But, I know something about myself: It can become an obsession and take over my thoughts so that it’s all I think about during the day. So, it stays in the closet. A couple of times a month, I go over to Hillary’s and we play on her game station; that way, I’m not tempted to sit down anytime I feel like it–because I ALWAYS feel like it!

How about you? Is there something in your life that has its claws in you? Is there something to which you are hanging on “just in case?” Does something take hold of you and “kiss you” and lead you down a dark path? It’s time to give it to the LORD and ask Him what to do with it. He may want You to get rid of it completely: a boat, a motorcycle, and old sport; or He may have you put it away for a while, or make it not so accessible (like He did for me).

This time of quarantine can teach us a lot about ourselves. It has a way of revealing our tendencies: Do we watch too much television? News? Movies? Banal fillers? Do we spend too much time on FaceBook, YouTube, and other social apps? What SHOULD we be spending our time doing?

The Holy Spirit longs for us to spend time with Him. We know He is always with us, but He has lots to share with us that we can only be able/ready to receive when we sit down, become quiet, and tune in to His voice. He speaks to us in our hearts, and He speaks even more loudly in His Word. The Bible is His written words, His tangible communication with us! Why, O why do we ignore it? HOW can it be relegated to the bottom of our to-do list?

Here is a verse to keep in mind:

12 For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, and revealed to the eyes of Him with whom we have to give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 AMP

King David was a man after God’s own heart. How so? Let’s look:

9 How can a young man [anyone] keep his way pure?
By keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to Your precepts].
10 With all my heart I have sought You, [inquiring of You and longing for You];
Do not let me wander from Your commandments [neither through ignorance nor by willful disobedience].
11 Your word I have treasured and stored in my heart,
That I may not sin against You. Psalm 119:9-11

May we use this time to get to know our heavenly Father through His Word. Let’s be intentional about it.

  • Pick a book and read it.
  • Mark any words, phrases, or passages that stand out to you.
  • Write down any thoughts you have about something you read.
  • Summarize the passage in your own words and with your own application.
  • Read a commentary. Make your own personal commentary!
  • Read with coffee or other drink, while eating breakfast, or while working out.
  • Read on your electronic device or out of a regular Bible-or both.
  • Look up verses in different translations.
  • Do any of the above–do all of the above!

The point is to hear His voice so that we can obey. Just remember that He doesn’t need us to do anything FOR Him; He wants us to do things WITH Him. It’s a relationship. Let’s start treating it like one.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would use this lesson to “spur them on to good works” by spending time with You in prayer and in the Word. It’s where I’m heading right now…Amen.

Proverbs 7 3-7-20

Haven’t read yesterday’s Proverbs, yet? Be sure to scroll down below this one and read it first!!!

18 Come, let’s drink deeply of love till morning;
    let’s enjoy ourselves with love!

If we wait until we FEEL like reading the Bible and setting time aside to pray, then we will NEVER get around to it. Satan will ALWAYS have something else for us to do that we will feel like doing. The “love” mentioned in this chapter is not bad in and of itself, but the fact that the guy is not her husband makes it wrong. They are arrogant in believing that just because her husband is gone that they can get away with adultery. In their arrogance, they are rebel against what they know to be right, and commit sin–against themselves, each other, and especially God. Actually, all sin is against God because He is the One who established what is right and wrong, but our sin affects others in the process(no person is an island). Ultimately, their sin will lead to their destruction: possibly her marriage and his life, and definitely their souls being cast into hell if they don’t repent and come to the LORD.

If we have trusted Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior, and if He has, indeed, washed us in His precious blood, cleansed us from our sin, and come to live in our hearts, then we should be the most grateful people on the planet!

If His Spirit is working inside of us to make us to be like Jesus (see Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18, and 1 John 4:17), then He is creating in us first the desire and then the power (Philippians 2:13) to get His Word out and study it–not just read it, but study it, memorize it, ponder it, and parse it (to analyze something, as a speech or behavior, to discover its implications or uncover a deeper meaning). Finding out more about Jesus and His nature (so that we can act just like Him), God and His Plan for our future, and the Holy Spirit and how He works in our lives (prompting us, warning us, leading us, and protecting us) will become ALL-IMPORTANT to us.

IF we DON’T have any desire to know Him more and deeper, then we have:

  1. A deep sin problem that has pushed out any ability to sense His Spirit or hear His voice;
  2. A selfish nature that needs to die so that Christ can live through us;
  3. A dead spirit that needs the life of Christ (basically a lost person).

In 1 Samuel 21-23, David was on the run from King Saul, yet he had time to seek the counsel of the LORD. In fact, he had just gotten away from King Achish by acting insane! He gives the LORD the credit for saving him:

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Psalm 34: 4, 8, 10

At this point in his life, David had no home; he was separated from his wife; he was a wanted man. What is the “good thing” that he had? Relationship! He was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). If you would like to read David’s idea of a quiet time, read Psalm 119.

Let us seek the LORD while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6). Let us draw near to Him BEFORE something bad or disastrous happens. Peace before the storm means security and confidence during the storm.

Abba, may I take to heart my own words. Keep drawing me closer to You and into Your Word. Prepare me, LORD, for that next task, that next person to which to talk, that next class to teach, that next worship time to lead. Right now, it’s helping cook breakfast for the men in our church! Come eat with us, O LORD, and us with You. Amen.

Proverbs 7 2-7-20

Make sure that the voice you are following is the LORD’s. The Spirit speaks to us in certain ways. Find them out!

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

What does the voice of the Holy Spirit sound like? In order to answer this question, we must know the temperament of God. God is:

  1. Holy- He is pure in His thinking, utterly righteous, and cannot be tempted, nor does He tempt anyone. “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;” James 1:13
  2. God came to earth as Jesus, therefore, we can address Jesus knowing that we are addressing God. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel [God with us]. Isaiah 7:14
  3. Jesus is gentle and humble in heart. He will NOT force His will upon anyone. He will certainly guide circumstances, but each of us has the right to choose to listen and follow Him. 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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
  4. His Spirit lives in us and guides us. Will we listen? He uses:
    1. prayer (our conscience and the “still, small voice” [1 Kings 19:12] and the voice right over our shoulder [Isaiah 30:21]),
    2. the Bible [2 Timothy 3:16-17],
    3. other people, particularly believers [Hebrews 10:24-25],
    4. and circumstances [Acts 16:6].

Our job is to avail ourselves to Him. If we are listening and ready to move at His command, then we will be able to discern His instructions and follow His voice. He will empower us to do whatever He asks of us and we will be full of Him–His love, joy and peace–as we minister in His name, be His hands and feet to others, and be His ambassadors to the world.

To this calling we must pledge ourselves anew every morning. Are you READY?

Abba, I pledge myself to You today to follow Your lead in humility, but boldness; kindness, but straightforwardness; gentleness, but with passion. May I disciple as I go through today. May I minister where You lead me to whomever I am with. I find great joy in Your presence and Your participation in my life. LET’S DO THIS! Amen.

 “I pledge allegiance to the Lamb
With all my strength, with all I am
I will seek to honor His commands
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb”

I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb-Ray Boltz

Proverbs 7 1-7-20

DESIRE is dangerous because it is so powerful–and volatile. We must train to overcome it through Jesus.

21 With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. 22 All at once he followed her…

All sin begins with DESIRE. In James’ letter, he tells us, “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. James 1:14. Where did this evil desire come from? Why do we even have it? Let’s go back to the beginning…

27 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…” Genesis 1:27 The ability to discern and to choose is part of being like God.

7 Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being [soul]. Genesis 2:7 We are different than all creation in that our bodies have a soul.

22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man… Woman, too, has a soul and is man’s counterpart.

6 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. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, Genesis 3:6-7

There are some key points in this passage that apply to us today:

  1. When Eve “saw” that the fruit was good for food, it was a justification. Nowhere did God say that it was for consumption. In fact, He said not to eat it. Eve made an assumption that since it was a tree and was in the garden that it was like all the other trees from which she could eat. We make the same justification.
  2. The fruit appealed to her, which in itself is not a bad thing, but it became all she could focus on–she obsessed! Of all the trees in the garden from which to eat, she centered on the ONE that she could not have. Granted, it was pointed out to her by Satan, which he does to us, too.
  3. It was “desirable” in that she believed it would do something for her. The problem is that it was in direct violation of what God had told her. The truth was that it would give her knowledge, NOT wisdom. Satan twisted the truth. Being like God in power and position is not wise; seeing from God’s perspective under His authority and guidance is godly wisdom.
  4. Adam was with her, but did nothing. The phrase, “silence gives consent,” was certainly in play here. He then took the fruit she offered him and ate it. Their eyes were, indeed, opened–to their nakedness! And DESIRE was born.

The curses that were placed on them were natural consequences of not following God’s purpose and plan. Sex became a weapon that both man and woman use against each other. The garden itself, which they were to tend, was taken away. On the outside of the garden, the ground did not respond to Adam. Why? Because the deed had been passed to someone else:

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only [Deut. 6:13].’” Luke 4:5-8

Satan got his wish! Now we understand that the Gospel was MORE than just about mankind, but about all of nature, too. Jesus came to redeem mankind AND nature. It’s a progressive redemption:

  1. He saved our souls. Our bodies still die. Creation still waits.
  2. He will come again and when He does, we will either come with Him and be rejoined to our earthly bodies or we will meet Him in the air.
  3. When He comes, all creation will be saved: transformed and restored to its former glory.

Concerning DESIRE in our own lives, we fight desire with a higher desire. Jesus, through His Holy Spirit within us, gives us first the desire to do His will, then He gives us the power to do His will.

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 desire and power], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. Philippians 2:13 AMP

We must recognize the devil’s lures, traps, hidden snares, and deceitful lies and turn from them to the One who loves us and desires us to live righteous and holy lives WITH HIM! Let’s not let desire get the best of us. Let’s use our desire to live for HIM. It all starts with us spending time with Him in prayer and Bible study. Let’s get to it!

Abba, may You reveal to us the devil’s schemes that he uses to push our DESIRE buttons. As we become aware of our weaknesses and tendencies, help us to put into place guardrails that keep us away from the edge. May we walk in the center of the road, O LORD. May we feel the tension when we start in a direction that is not from You, and may we feel Your good pleasure, satisfaction and delight when we “course correct.” Help us to overcome our desire with desire for You. I’m looking forward to walking with You today. Let’s get started! Amen.

 

Proverbs 7 12-7-19

Our way of thinking has gotten us into more trouble than we know! It’s time to let Him guide our thoughts and ways.

25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. 26 Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng.

All sin comes from faulty thinking. Check out Eve’s story in Genesis 3 or Cain’s story in Genesis 4. We need to make sure that we are thinking correctly about God and about righteous living, which means that we need to think correctly about sin. There’s only one Source from which we can get an absolutely right perspective, and that is from God. It’s not hard; it just depends on how much it means to you to get it, because once we get it, we are obligated to live by it!

Paul makes it plenty plain in Romans 8:

But you, you do not identify with your old nature but with the Spirit — provided the Spirit of God is living inside you, for anyone who doesn’t have the Spirit of the Messiah doesn’t belong to him [BEST Trinity verse]. 10 However, if the Messiah is in you, then, on the one hand, the body is dead because of sin [our status]; but, on the other hand, the Spirit is giving life because God considers you righteous [our status]. 11 And if the Spirit of the One who raised Yeshua [Jesus] from the dead is living in you, then the One who raised the Messiah Yeshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you. 12 So then, brothers, we don’t owe a thing to our old nature that would require us to live according to our old nature13 For if you live according to your old nature, you will certainly die; but if, by the Spirit, you keep putting to death the practices of the body, you will live

It makes sense, then, to find out as much as we can about the Spirit-life. Spiritual matters should interest us more and more as worldly matters should fade into the background. What matters are we talking about? That’s for you and the Holy Spirit to determine. It’s one of the things that we get to do with Him. It’s during times like those that His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are His children (that’s from Romans 8:16).

Try reading or listening to people’s testimonies about how they came to Christ. It’s very uplifting. One of the things I like to do is go to IMETMESSIAH.COM on YouTube. It’s about Jews who have come to believe in Yeshua Messiah (Jesus). Truly inspiring. Another good book is Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Andrew, a 16th Century monk. Ask the LORD and He will lead you to just the right resource at just the right time in your life. He’s good at that.

Let us not grow weary of doing good. Galatians 6:9. Instead, let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23.

“Change the way you think, and you’ll change the way you feel.” Beth Moore

Abba, I pray that my brothers and sisters in Christ would “catch the bug” of learning about other people’s conversions and what You have taught them. May they gain all kinds of insights and tips for righteous living. May we identify with them in their sufferings and learn to love You with all our hearts. Lead us, LORD, in our daily walk. We are following and listening and obeying. Amen.

Proverbs 7 11-7-19

Whatever has a stronghold in our lives, a besetting sin, there IS a way to beat it–today. It’s part of our walk, our story.

5 They [God’s commands and his teachings] will keep you from the adulterous woman [any besetting sin*], from the wayward woman with her seductive words.

*A besetting sin is one to which on account of our constitution, or circumstance or both, we are peculiarly exposed, and into which we most easily and most frequently fall. In the life of every individual, there is a “besetting” sin that can tower like a mountain between the individual and God. The verb of which besetting is the participle form means “to surround with hostile intent; to set upon, attack, assault on all sides.” For example,
The fox was beset by hounds.
St. Anthony was beset by demons.
Believers are beset with sin.

In the expression besetting sin, however, the word “besetting” seems to mean “chief” or “principal.” Judging from usage, a besetting sin is one to which a particular individual is particularly susceptible. Besetting Sin-Definition

This chapter holds the key to overcoming strongholds in our lives. The strongholds keep us from fellowshipping fully with our Savior and from living the victorious Christian life that God desires for us to enjoy.

7:1 My son [child], keep my word and store up my commands within you.

This verse is a call to learn all we can about God, Jesus, the Spirit, and ourselves. His Word is where we start. It’s why we must read it everyday, preferably early in the morning so that it can help us form our attitudes for the day. It starts us off in the right frame of mind.

7 I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who had no sense.

Learning from our own mistakes is being smart; learning from others’ mistakes is being wise. Pay attention to those who seem to enjoy life in all the wrong ways. We will notice that eventually the consequences of “free” living will catch up with them. “Payday Some Day.” Whether it’s a ruined liver from alcohol, no license due to DUI’s, several wrecked marriages, used up and worn out bodies from drugs, or whatever, the consequences WILL come–along with guilt and regret. Even then, our LORD has compassion on them and wants them to come to Him. Some may, but most won’t because of the pattern of self-government that rules their lives.

13 She took hold of him and kissed him…18 “Come, let’s drink deeply of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love!” 21 With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk.

She got his full attention with a kiss. What gets our full attention? How can we deflect that “kiss?” I’m sure they had a good time, but at what expense? 27 Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death. 6:32 But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself. 2:19 None who go to her return or attain the paths of life. 

Returning to our besetting sin keeps us from walking with Jesus with a free heart. Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full [abundantly].” John 10:10b

All of a sudden, this next passage that usually sounds so “milk toast” takes on a whole new meaning:

28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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

Jesus wants us to know that He understands the hold that sin has on our lives. He KNOWS that we fight with it everyday, that all of our senses are tainted with it and we carry it around in our bodies like a dead weight. Oh, what it must feel like to experience our new, glorified bodies in heaven where that weight of sin is gone!

So, how do we rid ourselves of besetting sin? Well, we don’t, really, not in this world. It always lurks in the shadows. We must be vigilant against it. How?

  1. Go to Jesus. He will give you rest. If you go to Him BEFORE you sin, then He can give you strength to overcome. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
  2. Go to Jesus. If you go to Him AFTER you sin, He will provide comfort and grace along with insight for next time. Some of our closest fellowship with Him is waiting for us when we go to the Savior at our lowest point.
  3. Go to Jesus everyday. Begin the day with Him and walk with Him through the day. Many times, we can head off sin as He steers us around it. Trust Him; follow Him.

God is never exasperated with us. He is never irritated, nor is He disappointed. We are sheep. We “sheep” (whatever that means). He knows and still wants us to come to Him. He loves us with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3) and rejoices/dances over us with singing (Zeph. 3:17). Let’s hold on to this truth!

Abba, thank You for loving us as we are. I look forward to the day when we will be as You have prepared for us to be: Holy, blameless, pure, and free from our sinful nature! I can hardly wait!!! In the meantime, help me to keep my eyes fixed on You, LORD, and to trust in Your guidance and strength. Amen.

Dear Lord,
So far I’ve done all right.
I haven’t gossiped,
haven’t lost my temper,
haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent.
I’m really glad about that.

But in a few minutes, God,
I’m going to get out of bed.
And from then on,
I’m going to need a lot more help.
Morning Prayer

Proverbs 7 10-7-19

We have been told what to do to ensure faithfulness. The question is, will we do it?

(3) Bind them [God’s commands] on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

I have a small stack of Scripture cards that I go through each week. These verses are ones by which I try to live; some are doctrinal verses that remind me of who God is and who I am in relation to Him, and some are verses that deal with specific areas of my life. For instance, one by which I try to live is from James, Jesus’ brother:

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 [from your present situation as well as eternally]. James 1:19-21

Another (I read this one this morning) that deals with doctrine is from Jude, another of Jesus’ brothers:

24 To him who is able to keep you [from falling or even stumbling] and to present you before his glorious presence [to God the Father and Himself] without fault [blameless] and with great joy 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 24-25

How about you? Do you have favorite verses? Verses by which you live? Have you committed them to memory? Have you considered writing them down on cards and read them on a regular basis to remind yourself of His promises and His commands? There IS a DISCIPLINE to the victorious Christian life. Think proactively.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with personalizing verses. For instance:

Kelly, as a prisoner for the Lord, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle–I know you have a hard time with this one; be patient by having no unrealistic expectations, bearing with others in Christ’s love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace–stay connected. Ephesians 4:1-3

When we are in crisis or in temptation, Christ goes to the card file of our mind and pulls out verses that will give us confidence, direction, strength and courage in our time of need. Doesn’t it make sense to give Him MUCH with which to work rather than just a little (John 3:16 can only go so far…)?

Abba, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ that they would create card files of Your Word–Your commands, Your words of encouragement, Your warnings, Your promises, and Your reminders of Your love for us. May we be proactive EVERYDAY concerning our walk with You. Lead us, our Eternal King. Amen.

Proverbs 7 9-7-19

Every once in a while, we need a remembrance stone, a place or event that reminds us of whose we are and our calling.

(24) Now then, my sons [and daughters], listen to me; pay attention to what I say. (25) Do not let your heart turn to her [temptation] ways our stray into her paths.

Robin and I are at FALLS CREEK. We are here for a Singing Churchwomen retreat for which we play percussion during the year. This place holds a special place in my heart:

  1. In 1975, my friend, Howard Harper, and I re-committed our lives to Christ.
  2. In 1980, I responded to God’s call to serve Him in vocational ministry.
  3. I also met the love of my life here as we worked on staff together that summer and the next.
  4. We had numerous retreats here as I was growing up, and then for eight years I brought my own youth groups here.

Needless to say, Falls Creek is special to me. It’s like a remembrance stone:

1 When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, 2 “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
8 So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the LORD had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. 9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day. – Joshua 4:1-9

Where is your place of remembrance? Where is it that you can visit to “recapture the moment?” Maybe it’s time to visit there again and renew the covenant between you and God. I can assure you that it will be a time of refreshing.

Dear LORD Jesus, thank You for my place of remembrance, for Falls Creek. Renew my heart even as I renew my vow to You, my LORD and my God. Amen.