Proverbs 3-8-23

Robin and I went to a screening of the upcoming movie, “Big George Foreman.” It was excellent–with a few caveats.

21 All those who heard him [Saul/Paul] were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Acts 9:21

“This one thing I know: I was one way, and now I am completely different, and the only thing in between is Him (Jesus).” –Mary Magdalene from The Chosen

George Foreman, a heavyweight champion, has had a challenging and adventurous life. His dramatic conversion to faith in Jesus Christ was truly a life-changer for him. The entire title of the movie is “Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight of the World.”

If you like (or don’t mind) boxing, it is an excellent portrayal of George’s boxing career. It is violent– it IS boxing!–and shows some graphic hits, but this inspirational movie is based on George’s real life story. The change in George from before his conversion to after his conversion, and then when he took up boxing again after 10 years, is noteworthy. If someone is fighting rage and bitter anger, this movie would be a great one for him to see.

There are a couple of scenes where the ladies are dressed immodestly. There is a scene where George’s sister is in danger during childbirth and he prays. The line the sister says goes something like, “Mama said you prayed… worked.” It could send the wrong message about why we pray, which is to align our will with God’s will rather than make bargains with God or expect His will to align with ours.

The acting was believable, the story was excellent and follows George’s life very closely. There are historical shots of actual boxing matches, George’s family, his church, his boy’s gym, and other historical photos from his life. George, who is still living, continues to minister in Houston.

The movie is due to come out at the end of April. It would be a good one to invite a sports enthusiast to hear George’s testimony and to foster a spiritual conversation. And, if you haven’t seen “The Jesus Revolution” yet, GO SEE IT! It will bless your socks off.

Abba, I lift up the movie, “Big George Foreman,” to You asking that You use it to bring You glory. Amen.

Proverbs 2-8-23

We can fixate on worldly passions, or we can focus on the love, joy and peace that Jesus offers us in a relationship with Him.

Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. Psalm 33:3

What happens to worldly passions (desires) when we fixate on them? They become addictions, entanglements, snares, and eventually, our downfall. Without a focus, a target, so to speak, our passions will never reach their full potential; they veer off-track. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:4, “Through these [His glory and goodness] he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine naturehaving escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” God created us with unique talents and gifts, and He wants us to participate in His divine nature. When we allow Him to unlock those talents and gifts, we find true release and ultimate fulfillment as He says to us, “Well done!” The inspiration of the Spirit is a duet, a cooperative effort that creates something that no one has ever seen or heard or done. It may not get world-wide attention, but it is something that you and the Spirit create together. For this reason, Christians have drawn, painted and sculpted as outlets of their praise and worship, and to inspire other Christians to give praise to God.

From, “Person of Interest,” page 131,

The early Christians were immediately inspired by Jesus and eventually employed every art media at their disposal to draw, paint, sculpt, and craft images of their Savior. Even those who opposed Jesus and his followers were inspired to depict Jesus, if only mockingly. Perhaps the earliest image of Jesus was drawn in this way, illustrating him as as donkey. But shortly thereafter, emerging images of Jesus revealed the adoration of his followers as they illustrated episodes of his life and ministry.

Buried within this historic collection of inspired art is an evidence trail. The fingerprints of Jesus dominate the art of the earliest centuries of the Common Era. So much so that the truth about Jesus can be completely reconstructed simply from the oldest known Christian paintings and sculptures. Page 135

The renowned masters of every historic period, every artistic genre, and every region of the world painted, sculpted, sketched, or etched Jesus of Nazareth.
This did not have to be the case, and it cannot be said of the leader of any other religious movement. Art as we know it today was forever shaped by the inspiration of Jesus, even when those who were inspired didn’t claim a Christian identity. No other person in history has been such a person of interest to artists. No other historical figure has received this much artistic attention. No one has mattered like Jesus.
Page 138

Musicians have composed, sung and played music to Him and for Him since the very beginning of the Church. Philippians 2:6-10 may have been one of the first “songs” of the early church–but, music is tomorrow’s topic! Today, enjoy the artistry around you and allow it to help you praise our Lord.

Abba, I like looking at art; it inspires me to think of You. Dance moves me to tears of joy. Music–ah, music–gives me an outlet that soothes the savage beast within me. I identify with the words of praise or the melody of the instrument. Even now, as I listen to instrumental music, it resonates within me a calm and peace that I might miss without the music. I find myself talking to You easily as the music plays. I praise You for music and what it means in my life. Amen.

Proverbs 8 1-8-23

Today we look at my favorite passage concerning Jesus’ revelation about Himself. Read on!

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. Luke 9:51

The passage begins with Philip and Andrew bringing some Greeks to see Jesus. Because of the crowd (verse 29), we assume that Jesus met with them in a public place.

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 

His “Son of Man” reference in v. 23 is to Daniel 7:13-14 and refers to God the Son, speaking of Himself. He then gives an illustration about a seed that must die in order to sprout (v.24), which is a reference to Himself and the kingdom of God. Jesus then gives the crux of the ideology of His kingdom,

25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

He then goes another step further and states the prerequisite to being a follower of His,

26 Whoever serves me must follow me;

And likewise, whoever wants to follow Jesus must be willing to serve Him (see Luke 9:23). Jesus gives two promises in that same verse,

and (1) where I am, my servant also will be. (2) My Father will honor the one who serves me.

Lest anyone get the wrong idea of why Jesus came from heaven to earth, Jesus spells it out in verse 27,

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 

Jesus turns His–and our–attention to the Father and says, 28 Father, glorify your name!”

God answers audibly, Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 

I hate to stop here, but it IS Sunday. We will pick it up here tomorrow. For today, let’s consider the ideology and prerequisite of being a Christ follower.

Abba, each day we are to turn our lives over to You–sometimes hourly, sometimes moment-by-moment. When we die to ourselves and live for Jesus, we honor You. His Spirit, which is Your Spirit, delights in us. May we die to the things of this world and live for You as we follow You through this maze called life. Amen.

Proverbs 8 12-8-22

God’s patience (long-suffering) and love are beyond anything man can imagine. He IS God, you know!

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

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 continued with Psalm 103:8-13 and Joel 2:13-14. Today, we look at Nahum 1:3 and Jonah 4:2.

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
    the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
    and clouds are the dust of his feet.
Nahum 1:3

From Chuck Swindoll,

The Assyrian Empire, which had its capital at Nineveh, was at its most powerful in the first half of this period, having a stranglehold on Judah during King Manesseh’s reign. Also, while the book of Nahum mentions the destruction of Thebes, it does not mention its reconstruction, which took place in 654 BC. This leads us to date Nahum’s prophecy between the years of 663 and 654 BC.
Nahum preached during the reign of King Manesseh, one of the most evil kings in Judah’s long history, a man who needed the pain of his own experience to teach him the lessons of being a good king. Commentator J. Barton Payne suggests that Manasseh’s great conversion took place late in his reign, around 648 BC, a mere half-dozen years before his death. That means Nahum preached during the darkest period in Judah’s history to that point, a time filled with idolatry of all kinds in a nation that had completely turned its back on God. The Lord’s willingness to send Nahum, whose name means “comfort,” into such a hopeless situation evidences His unrelenting and overwhelming grace.

God was dealing with Israel’s disobedience, particularly Manasseh’s. Look at what happened,

10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 11 So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. 12 In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God. 2 Chronicles 33:10-13

So, God finally got Manasseh’s attention. He then blessed him by returning him to Jerusalem. So, what about Jonah?

He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Jonah 4:2

Jonah was upset at God for reneging on His intention to destroy Nineveh. Or, was God’s “intention” a warning? When the people repented starting with the king and then all the people, God “relented.” Taking a step back, I see the discipline of a loving Father. The Babylonian army was gearing up in Babylon. Who knows? It might have been them. We do know this: In 50 years, the Babylonians took over the entire area. Here is an interesting note. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. Because of their repentance, they were not overturned. Later, they were responsible for taking the ten tribes of Israel captive, which was brought on by the unrepentance of Israel.

Tomorrow, we look at our last OT passage. I believe that we will see a great insight as we dive into that passage. Today, let’s praise God for being such a loving and patient Father.

Abba, You are our Father and You love Your children. The sooner we recognize this fact and acknowledge You even as Manasseh did, the sooner we can have victory in our lives. Keep striving with us, Lord. We need you! Amen.

Proverbs 8 11-8-22

Overcoming how we feel in the “heat of the moment” is important for followers of Jesus. Somehow, we must learn to control our mouths…

I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.” Psalm 39:1

An interesting phenomenon happens when I open my mouth to speak. I am reminded by the Spirit that I will be held accountable for every word I speak, whether good or bad. This concept comes from the verse in Matthew 12:36,

36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.

To be clear, how I use the verse and its original intent are not the same. Nor is the “day of judgment” referring to Christ’s return or us standing before Him in heaven. To know its true intent, we must look back at verse 31-32,

31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

The key word in verse 36 is “empty,” which refers to those who speak against the Holy Spirit. Jesus was referring to His day of judgment when the rulers crucified Him. He reveals their hidden intent in verses 34-35,

34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

As for the words we speak, Jesus said in verse 37, “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Paul tells us how to be acquitted by our words,

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9-10

It is this truth to which Jesus was referring in verses 31 and 32. As for the time of judgment, we see that time in the following verses,

39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here [the Gospel is greater than Jonah’s message to which the Ninevites listened and repented]42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here [the Gospel is greater than Solomon’s wisdom].

Since that judgment has come and gone, and the Holy Spirit now lives in each of us who has invited Him in, we receive the judgment of our words as we say them–sometimes, even before we say them! The conviction of the Spirit is immediate in most cases. I am learning to hear His voice BEFORE I say the wrong thing, and to consider how to say something before blurting out something that has not been run through the filters of the Spirit based upon Ephesians 4:29:

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

  1. Is what I am about to say unwholesome in any way?
  2. Is it helpful to the person or situation?
  3. Does it build up according to their needs?
  4. Does it benefit those who listen?

The one thing we don’t want to do is “grieve the Holy Spirit by whom we are sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). Let’s bring joy to our Savior’s heart by being godly in how we use our words.

Abba, I still mess up, but I’m learning! I know that in order to control my mouth, I must control my mind. I have the mind of Christ in me; help me to access it! Thank You, Holy Spirit, for never giving up on me. Amen.

Proverbs 8 10-8-22

The Good News of Jesus Christ is about Him making peace with us. He wants our relationship with Him restored!

Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). Romans 5:1

As we discussed yesterday, Isaiah prophesied about the stubbornness of the Israelite people to hear, but not understand. Jesus quoted the same verse, but then told His disciples (after He rose from the dead) to reveal what had been hidden. What is it that was revealed in Jesus? Let’s look:

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 him, 20 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

  1. Christ considers every follower to be part of His body. When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we ceremonially take His body into our own, thus symbolizing us in Him. We are the church; we are His Bride.
  2. In Christ we all died; now, in Christ, we all live. When we are baptized, we ceremonially die with Him and are raised with Him to walk in a new life, one that is found in Him and led by Him.
  3. All the fullness of God dwells in Him. I use present tense because Jesus is alive and is seated at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19, Acts 2:32-33, Romans 8:34, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 10:12, Hebrews 12:2). When we look at Jesus, we are seeing the Father (John 14:9).
  4. Verse 20 could be interpreted that eventually, all things will willingly come into the fellowship of God. The same could be said for Ephesians 1:10. What we must consider is:
    • The central idea of the NT is that mankind has a choice to receive Jesus as Lord or face judgment.
    • This concept goes beyond our purview. We must remember Isaiah 55:8-9 that God’s thoughts and ways are far beyond our own.
    • Even so, those who reject Christ will stand before Him condemned (John 3:18, John 5:24-30).

So, what is the Good News that we are to reveal to the world? The Good News is that Jesus has made peace with all through His shed blood on the cross! All is forgiven! We can all come home–if we so choose. But, we cannot walk the way of the world and go the way of heaven; they are in two different directions. More than that, the way of heaven is like 12 o’clock on a clock; any other time is not 12 o’clock and is the way of the world. Only Jesus can show us the “straight and narrow path” (Matthew 7:13-14).

As we share the Good News, let us pray that the Spirit prompts people’s hearts to accept and receive Jesus as Lord.

Abba, I want everyone to know the peace I have in You, the joy I share in You, and the love I feel in You. Why would anyone trade away such a valuable and precious gift from You? Show them the Truth, Lord. I offer my life to You; may my life and my faithfulness (brought about by Your Spirit) bring glory to Your kingdom. Amen.

Proverbs 8 9-8-22

The reality of the Trinity is key to understanding why the Father could send the Son to die: They are the same Person.

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:9
30 I and the Father are one.” John 10:30

Article 2 of the Baptist Faith & Message is what we believe about God:

II. God

There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.

A. God the Father

God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.

Genesis 1:12:7Exodus 3:146:2-315:11ff.; 20:1ff.; Leviticus 22:2Deuteronomy 6:432:61 Chronicles 29:10Psalm 19:1-3Isaiah 43:3,1564:8Jeremiah 10:1017:13Matthew 6:9ff.; 7:1123:928:19Mark 1:9-11John 4:245:2614:6-1317:1-8Acts 1:7Romans 8:14-151 Corinthians 8:6Galatians 4:6Ephesians 4:6Colossians 1:151 Timothy 1:17Hebrews 11:612:91 Peter 1:171 John 5:7.

John tells us in 1 John 4:8 that “God is love.” God is also righteous. Everything He does is right. He is our standard for right living, goodness, and love. His is a self-giving love. We cannot live up to any standard of righteousness without Him. He knows this and has offered everyone the opportunity for Him to come and live in them, help them, guide them, and transform them into complete righteousness (the image of His Son, Jesus). God “is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). This is God the Father, who longs for each of His prodigal children to return home (Luke 15:11-24).

Aren’t you glad you did?

Abba, I find it amazing that You have made a way for us to be Your children, in right-standing with You, and eligible to inherit Your kingdom with our Brother, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:14-17). May we bask in Your love, Your righteousness, Your joy, and Your peace. Thank You, thank You, thank You, Abba. You’re the best! Amen.

Proverbs 8 8-8-22

When it comes to the inner ear, there is NO WAY Evolution came up with this. It’s sheer genius!

30 [At the creation of the world and man] I was the craftsman at his side day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, 31 rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.

We have discussed the outer ear, the middle ear, and now we will discuss the inner ear. If the shape of the ear, the canal and eardrum weren’t enough, along with the three bones that are fully grown at birth and amplify sound 20-fold for the next step in hearing, then the inner ear will finally persuade you that Evolution had nothing to do with the human body.

The foot plate that is at the end of the stirrup moves in and out causing waves in the inner ear’s fluid. “The bony chamber of the inner ear is shaped like a small snail shell, from which it gets its Latin name cochlea. The function of the cochlea is to take the mechanical vibrations from the ossicles [small bones] (and ultimately the eardrum) and convert them into electrical signals understandable to the brain.” From, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body,” page 36-38

“Inside the cochlea are three canals. The middle canal is a spiral, filled with a special fluid. Running within this spiral canal is yet another fluid-filled channel called the cochlear duct. As the piston movement of the middle ear [foot plate] causes waves to travel through the fluid in the cochlea, the cochlear duct bounces up and down.
Inside the cochlear duct is a strip of tissue known as the organ of Corti…here the ear converts signals at a molecular level.”

This organ essentially consists of three rows of outer hair cells and one row of inner hair cells. The tops of the cells have tiny “hairs”…these hairs are actually cilia that are much smaller than a hair on our bodies.
The tips of some of the hairs are attached to an overlying spiral membrane called the tectorial membrane. When the organ of Corti bounces up and down, the tectorial membrane wiggles the hairs.

The wiggling of the hairs causes small molecular “trapdoors” on the tips of the hairs to open and close, permitting electrically charged particles (ions) to enter the hairs. Incredibly, the molecular trapdoors are controlled by molecular springs that attach to adjustable molecular brackets. [This is small stuff, y’all].
It staggers the mind to think of tiny molecular trapdoors opening and closing at a rate between 20 and 20,000 times per second, admitting charged ions into the tips of the hairs. This movement of ions generates electrical signals that are sent to the brain, where they are processed and interpreted [as specific sounds].”

I read the material and studied the illustrations and I still don’t know how the brain knows what sounds it is receiving. The inner ear, especially working with the middle and outer ear, is miraculous! And to think that God is WAY beyond physical hearing. He hears us when we mentally cry out, and He answers. If we listen beyond the physical with our spirits, we can hear Him talking to us. He is saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore, I have drawn you [to myself] with loving devotion” (Jeremiah 31:3). Let’s respond to that love right now.

Abba, I hear you! Thank You for loving me and drawing me to Yourself with loving devotion. I am Your child, Your creation. The fact that You care for me gives me great joy and comfort. I praise You, Abba. Amen.

Tomorrow: The Heart.

Proverbs 8 7-8-22

“If we want to know what God is like, just follow Jesus through the Gospels.”*

33 Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.

Living the Jesus Way means focusing beyond this life to what Jesus is accomplishing both in our lives and in the world. His way is caught as much as it is taught. When we experience someone living the Jesus Way, the Spirit says, “See? That’s how I want you to live.” He then sets us on an upward path, one that we walk with Him.

What is the Jesus Way? It is a way of living that demonstrates the love that the Heavenly Father has for us, and is explained in this passage,

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Jesus goes on to explain the reasoning behind the Jesus Way,

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 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 [fellow exhibitors of His love], because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful [Romans 11:32, Ephesians 2:4]. Luke 6:27-36

Jesus contrasts the love the world has with the love that God demonstrates to us. The love of the world is nothing special. Even a murderer can love his best friend. What’s special about that? But, as followers of Jesus, we are called to demonstrate the amazing, unprecedented, unexpected, over-the-top kind of love that Jesus has lavished upon us.
Why? For two reasons: First, we are called to love so that even the most evil person can experience the undeserved kindness and mercy of God [through us]. Secondly, we love because loving others teaches you and I how to die to ourselves and become more like Jesus every day.
See, the command that Jesus gives us to love our enemies is intended not only to change the hearts of sinners, but to change our own hearts as well.
We cannot love like Jesus loves on our own. The only way we can follow Jesus and obey His command to love those who are trying to harm us is if we take up our cross daily, die to ourselves, throw ourselves completely at His feet, and beg to be filled with His love for our enemies. It just won’t work any other way.
As Jesus reminds us, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).**

Responding in love rather than reacting in fear, anger, outrage, sarcasm, disdain, or any other negative emotion is the Jesus Way.

Abba, please help us to see with Your eyes and to hear with Your ears. Give us Your heart so that we might share Your love with people who need it, even our enemies–especially our enemies! Amen.

*Andy Stanley

**Keith Giles, “Jesus Untangled,” pages 100-101

Proverbs 8 6-8-22

Walking with Jesus is a process. We learn as He reveals.

1:4 Look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure…

Yesterday, we began a study of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 to learn the formula for a godly life. The first three verses constitute our attitude while in this world,

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

Today, we look at our relationship with the Holy Spirit, particularly concerning the Word of God.

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

  • Do not quench the Spirit– “Quench” means to put out, to pour water on, to squelch, to extinguish, to suppress or stifle. In a Christian’s life, our connection to God the Father is through the Spirit of Christ (Philippians 1:19, 1 Peter 1:11). Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” So, in a sense, we choke ourselves when we cut off the flow of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Wrong thinking will do that to us because wrong thinking leads to wrong acting. How important is our connection to the Spirit of Christ? “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit is our seal, our proof, our redemption. He is the flow of Christ’s life in us.
  • Do not treat prophecies with contempt– “Prophecy” means, the gift of communicating and enforcing revealed truth, which means that it doesn’t have to be new prophecy or future prophecy to qualify. These prophecies may be written ones, which would include the Old Testament prophecies, or current spoken ones. The idea is to not treat the Word of God with contempt. Just so we’re clear, the Word of God is Jesus Christ; the Bible is a collection of the words of God. Through the ages, the words of God have been misconstrued, twisted, and manipulated. The Word of God speaks to us through His Spirit everyday. In effect, to hold in contempt those who are upholding revealed truth is to hold in contempt what Christ has made known to His church, which leads us to our next point.
  • Test them all– Where we need to be careful is whether we are talking about dogma or doctrine. If dogma, which is the absolute truth about Jesus and His mission, then we politely refuse to give ground. If it is doctrine, which is the interpretation of how people view the meaning of the Scriptures, then we can politely offer a different interpretation, understanding that we may not come to an agreement on any given issue. Just know that “God will reveal [His truth] to us” (Philippians 3:15) in time.
  • Hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil- The litmus test for this command is this: “If it draws us nearer to Christ, then it is good; if it draws us away from Christ, then it is bad.” Because of temperament, susceptibility, culture, and a number of other variables, each person must determine, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, what is good and what is evil. Some good and evil are universal, but there’s a lot that is as individual as the individual. Paul said in Romans 14:5, “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.” Here again, does it draw you to Christ or away from Christ? That is the question.

Abba, I must take my own medicine here. I cannot be someone else’s “Holy Spirit.” Only You can be our Shepherd and Guide. May we learn to listen closely to You everyday in every way. Amen.

Proverbs 8 5-8-22

Happy Mother’s Day to all who are moms and to all who have moms.

5:1-2 My child, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.

GCFL (Good, Clean, Funny Laughs) is a place where I get most of my jokes for Wednesday Morning Blessings. I know that Dale Griffin uses it, too, as a source for his jokes. Occasionally, they publish inspirational anecdotes. Here is one appropriate for today:

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking

When you thought I wasn’t looking you hung my first painting on the refrigerator,
and I wanted to paint another.
When you thought I wasn’t looking you fed a stray cat,

and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn’t looking you baked a birthday cake just for me,

and I knew that little things were special things.
When you thought I wasn’t looking you said a prayer,

and I believed there was a God that I could always talk to.
When you thought I wasn’t looking you kissed me good-night,

and I felt loved.
When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw tears come from your eyes,

and I learned that sometimes things hurt–but that it’s all right to cry.
When you thought I wasn’t looking you smiled,

and it made me want to look that pretty [good], too.
When you thought I wasn’t looking you cared,

and I wanted to be everything I could be.
When you thought I wasn’t looking–I looked . . .

and wanted to say thanks for all those things you did when you thought I wasn’t looking.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. See you soon. Your son, Kelly.

Proverbs 8 4-8-22

Does God need the Bible to speak to us? No. Does He use the Bible to speak to us? Absolutely!

6 Listen, for I [wisdom] have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.

Memorization is hard. I remember in my Sophomore year in high school, my English teacher had rules for writing that she wanted memorized exactly. To miss anything meant that we failed the test. I took that test four times before I got it right. Do I remember them today? No, but she did show us how to implement the rules, which I still follow today.

In the book, “Growing Up,” this week’s chapter for my group is about Scripture memorization. It is based on Psalm 119:11, “I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” Many of us may remember this verse because of Vacation Bible School (it’s in the pledge to the Bible). In the book, the author does a quick history lesson:

The art of memorization is quickly becoming a thing of the past. In the first century,
however, memorization was critical. In an age when the only way to store and transmit
material was to copy it by hand, men and women had to commit information to memory.

In Deuteronomy 17:18, Moses instructed the people to have their (future) kings to do this:

18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees

What about us today? How do we hide His word in our hearts? Most people today will pick a verse (or have one picked for us) and we memorize the verse. We commit it to short-term memory and can usually remember it long enough to pass the “test” in our next class. I come at it a little differently. Let’s take a verse that is near and dear to my heart,

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

Here’s what I do:

  1. I ask myself, “Do I need to memorize the entire verse?” What is it that draws me to the verse? If the part I like is, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” then that’s the part I work on.
  2. Is there another version that I like better? Check them out. One uses “message” instead of “word,” and “among” instead of “in.” These words give a little different flavor to the verse.
  3. Where is the verse found? In this case, it’s in the third chapter of Colossians. Colossians has four chapters that are roughly split up into the first two chapters dealing with doctrine (basic teaching) and the last two chapters dealing with application to our lives. Chapter 3 is the meat of the book concerning application, which is what our verse is about. Interestingly, our verse has the same “address” as a very popular verse, John 3:16. That helps.
  4. Reading it in a hands-on Bible helps, too, because I can envision where the verse is on the page. I know that there is a header after verse 17, and the verse I like is one back from there. Every little thing helps.
  5. There are two more “cheats” to memorization. One is repetition. Say it over and over again. The other is to teach it. Once you’ve researched the verse and explained it out loud, you stand a good chance of moving it from short-term memory to long-term memory. By the way, teaching is part of the verse!

I’m sure there are more tricks of the trade, but that’s how I do it. I would be interested in you sharing your unique way of memorizing Bible verses with me. Tomorrow, we will look at why we memorize Bible verses.

Abba, I love the idea of singing our faith. May we be faithful to the message You have given us in our worship of You, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 8 3-8-22

Want to know how much God loves you? He was willing to come to earth and die for us. THAT’S how much He loves us!

17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” “We love Him, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 AMP

As I was studying the Trinity and pondering the relationship between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, it dawned on me that to see Jesus is to see the Father. I know, I know, Jesus said as much in John 14:9, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

But, it’s more than what I was thinking. For instance, Jesus tells us that He is gentle and humble in heart, “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” (Matthew 11:29). Therefore, since to see Jesus is to see the Father, I can assume that God the Father is gentle and humble, too. Another instance is when Jesus said, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Since Jesus served, then God serves, as well. I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to say that the Father serves us even as we serve Him. He hasn’t asked us to do anything that He was not willing to do, which flies right in the face of all the other “gods” of Jesus’ day. Like, whoever heard of a God who served?!

This reciprocation is what makes a relationship work. It’s not as much a give-and-take as it is a give-and-give. It’s what makes a good friendship, a good marriage, and a good fellowship in our homes, our churches, and with the Trinity.

Jesus Himself demonstrated this model. He did not “regard privilege as something to exploit for Himself. He saw that the privileges of his sonship were to be employed to serve others, rescue the afflicted and raise up humanity with and in himself. Christ would embrace and unite himself to us. Intrinsic to that union is an exchange of our poverty for his riches, our predicament for His prosperity (see 2 Cor. 8:9). Ironically, to employ privilege first meant setting it aside. This is the downward mobility of the kingdom of God!” “A More Christlike Way” pg. 111. It’s also straight out of Philippians 2:5-11.

Let’s be like our heavenly Father today; let’s be gentle and humble, and serve.

Abba, it’s no wonder that You are so attractive to souls when they get to know the real You. May we all demonstrate who You are even as we tell others who You are. Thank You for loving us so much! Amen.

Proverbs 8 2-8-22

“To be or not to be.” God answered that question on the cross. He wants us “to be” conformed into the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:29).

34 Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. 35 For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD,

One of the favorite discipleship lines is to “take up our cross and follow Jesus.” It’s based upon Jesus’ declaration that anyone who would be His disciple must do that very thing, even daily (Luke 9:23). We also like to apply John 3:30 to our lives, “He must increase, I must decrease.” My pastor and I pray on Sunday mornings that Christ would hide us and exalt Himself through us. Obviously, I like that idea of getting out of the way and allowing God to work.

There’s more to it (there always is, right?), and it comes with another favorite verse, 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, and behold, the new has come!” Here’s how it works:

  • Christ lives in me;
  • He is transforming me from the inside out;
  • I interact with Him in new ways creating new works every day.

As much as I would like to, I can’t just “get out of the way and let Christ do it.” I am a partaker with Him in everything that pertains to me. If He wants to show kindness to someone, then He is going to work with me to show that kindness to that person. If He wants to bless a person financially, then He may work with me to bless that person financially. And so on. We never really ever get to jettison our self-will. That’s the part that we are to exercise every day, “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I discipline my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:26-27).

The Sermon on the Mount is designed to teach us a more Christlike way. We model our lives after Christ even as He teaches us and empowers us to do that very thing. Consider this:

What does the Sermon on the Mount do?
The sermon systematically dismantles that old self, the false self, the Adam and Eve self, making room for the new self, the Christ-life, the new heart of Jesus in you.
The Jesus Walk impoverishes the ego, starves our cravings, and finally, detaches us from the craver itself. Indeed, “I am crucified with Christ” [Galatians 2:20].
The Sermon uses my perceived external enemies to defeat my real inner enemy. This is the genius of Grace…who relentlessly opposes all our resistance to Love, but because Grace IS Love, Grace awaits willing surrender rather than violating our will. Grace never gives up, but we set the pace. We decide when we’ve bottomed out on slavery to Self.*

Jesus doesn’t want to do away with us; He wants us to be the way we were originally created to be. Even then, we await the Day when we will be given glorified bodies. Then, we will know Him even as we are fully known now (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Abba, thank You for seeing worth in me. Thank You for wanting to be with me and to create with me. May I give myself over to You ever more willingly. Being like You is my End Game. Amen.

*from “A More Christlike Way,” by Brad Jersak pages 157-158

Proverbs 8 1-8-22

Jesus didn’t come to simply clarify the Scriptures. He came to fulfill them and to give us new marching orders!

8 All the words of my [wisdom] mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them [Paul refers to Jesus as the wisdom of God in 1 Corinthians 1:24].

In reading chapters 8 and 9 in Luke yesterday, I saw something that intrigued me. Jesus really did a major paradigm shift concerning what we use as our base of authority. Let’s look:

His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable [the sower and the seed] meant. 10 And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand [a quote from Isaiah 6].
11 “Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God.
Luke 8:9-11

At this point in history, we would assume that the word of God was the Scriptures of Genesis through Malachi. Jesus even quoted from Isaiah! But, in Luke 6 (and in Matthew 5-7) Jesus redirected the entire way of interpreting those scriptures. First, He told them that He was Lord of the Sabbath (6:5) and then proved it by healing a man on the Sabbath (6:6-11). He gave the people new directives with the Beatitudes (6:20-23) and to bless those who curse them and pray for those who abuse them (6:27-31). He told them to love their enemies and to be merciful even as their heavenly Father is merciful (6:35-36). He warned them not to judge others, and that they could tell a good/bad person by his/her fruit (6:37-45). Lastly, He told them to build their foundation for life on His words by doing them (6:46-49).

So, when Jesus said that the seed was representative of the word of God, I believe that He was referring to His words.

The second passage that sealed the deal for me is 9:28-36, at which we will look tomorrow.

Abba, thank You for caring for us and wanting us to know the Father through You. Your Spirit teaches us. May we continue to listen to You and to allow You to interpret what we read, what we hear, and even what we think, O Lord.

One more thing: Thank You for Robin. Bless her today on her 60th birthday. Amen.

Proverbs 8 12-8-21

Metaphors are used to describe the indescribable by highlighting one aspect of many. They are slivers.

1 Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice? 2 On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand…[metaphors and personification]

Yesterday, we looked at the metaphor of being born again in 1 John 3:9,

No one who is born [metaphor #1] of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed [metaphor #2] abides in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.

Jesus used metaphors all the time to describe the indescribable kingdom of God (Matthew called it the kingdom of heaven out of deference for his fellow Jews as per the leadership, who took offense to using God’s name in everyday conversation). Jesus used the seed as a big way to describe what happens to us when we walk in the light of our heavenly Father. Let’s look at some passages,

The Sower and the Seed (of the Good News of Jesus)-Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23: This parable is about those who listen and heed–some not at all, some selectively, some with reservation, and then some wholeheartedly.

31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32

The Parable of the Tares-Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43: Many see this parable as pertaining to the end days, but we must remember that the next major event on the horizon for the people of Israel was the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. It was the final judgment (consequences) on the rulers, thus the majority of the people, who denied that Jesus was the Messiah and that He is God in the flesh. These people are the ones about whom John writes about in 1 John 4:1-6.

There are many others (search “seed” in the NT), but there is only one more I want to bring to our attention,

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. John 12:23-26

Jesus gave us an entire picture of the Gospel (what He was about to do for us) in the metaphor of the seed. Let’s break it down:

  1. The seed is personified and willingly gives its life to the ground, just like Jesus was about to do.
  2. The natural product of the seed is a stalk that produces many kernels (seeds). In the same way, Jesus died so that we all would be done with death and live forever (see Romans 8:1-2, 29).
  3. We, who have turned away from the Father, must give up what we think we want (even though it comes with dire consequences, one of the greatest being our fellowship with the Trinity) and turn back to Him. He IS eternal life (1 John 5:11-12.)
  4. Our service and our follow-ship are based upon trust. The question is, do we trust Jesus? The answer is in our obedience–or disobedience.

What it all boils down to is that there is no adequate way to describe what Jesus did for us on the cross, nor to describe what He offers everyone. Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5); do we trust Him enough to believe Him? Are we willing to give up our darkness (John 3:21) and walk in His light (1 John 1:7)? It really is that simple. In turning to Jesus, we will be “born again,” and His “seed” will sprout in us. This message is GOOD NEWS, folks! Let’s share it!!!

Abba, I get all excited again when I “talk” about all You have done for us in Christ. May we truly get excited about having new life in Jesus. May the seed of Your Spirit grow much fruit in our lives as we walk with You every day, all day. Amen.

Proverbs 8 11-8-21

Every once in a while, God changes our viewpoint. He moves us to a different peak and sets before us a new vista. Are we ready?

7 My [wisdom] mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. 8 All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. 9 To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge.

2 Corinthians 5 is chocked full of wonderful insights and quotable verses. For instance,

  1. Verse 1- We have an eternal house (body) in heaven not built with human hands.
  2. Verse 5- God has fashioned us for our dwelling (body) and has given us the Holy Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing it.
  3. Verse 8- To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

My favorite is,

14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that those who live would no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose on their behalf.

This passage leads into the verse for the day, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer” (verse 16). Let’s break it down.

  1. By the term, “no one,” we can assume that Paul is talking about his brothers and sisters in Christ as well as–well, everyone.
  2. The viewpoint is from a worldly perspective, which assumes that everyone is in it for themselves. I’m sure there are other worldly perspectives, but that is the one that comes to mind.
  3. By viewing them differently, we must see them not for how they can benefit us, but for how they can be reconciled to God (verses 18-20).
  4. Before Christ’s Passion (trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection), all Jews saw Jesus as just another Jew with delusions of grandeur. After the Passion, many saw Him for who He really is: The Risen Savior, the Messiah, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
  5. What I see is Paul telling us that it is REALLY important to see each other differently from the world’s viewpoint. If we see through the eyes of Christ, then we WILL see everyone differently: They are all prospective brothers and sisters in Christ.

This verse helps me to calm down when I get frustrated. It helps me chill when I am perturbed. It helps me have patience when mine is all used up. It helps me to love even when people are being…unlovable. Wisdom is seeing things from God’s perspective. With the Spirit of Christ in us, we have availability to that wisdom every day! Let’s make good use of it by staying in a constant conversation with Him.

Abba, my prayer, my aim is to see things Your way. I know how important it is, so help me to overcome how I feel and just do the next right thing according to Your Spirit. Thank You for making it all so simple that even a child could do it–ME! Amen.

Proverbs 8 10-8-21

The message of reconciliation is based upon God’s love for us. He wants us to show the world His love.

35 For those who find me find life and receive favor [blessing, love] from the LORD.

Yesterday, we ended our passage in 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, but there is one more thing I would like to share concerning verse 21,

God made him who had no sin [became the Representative of] sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus didn’t have to die; He chose to die. God did not kill Him; the world establishment did (don’t believe me? Read Mark 15:1-15 and especially Acts 2:23). Jesus chose to take our sins to the grave. He showed how much God loved the world (John 3:16) by willingly laying down His life for all of us, even those who killed Him (John 10:17-18, 12:31-32).

When we look at His prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, we find that He was asking God for another way (Matthew 26:39, 42), yet, we know that He knew that He had come to earth for the very purpose of showing God’s love to everyone and expressing that love in His sacrifice on the cross,

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” John 12:27-28

That voice was heard by everyone around, but it was misinterpreted by the crowd. Jesus’ next statement clears up the matter,

29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. 30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine.

What they heard was God confirming His love for His Son, and His participation in the coming events. God the Father was going to receive glory through the Son. How? By Jesus allowing Himself to be killed by the world establishment in order to take on Himself the consequences of sin for all mankind. What God was showing was His love for His Son, and His eternal love for His creation, a love so strong and so deep that He was willing to die for them. A good way to put it is, “Lose my children? Never! I would rather die first.” He even put off the consequences of all sin that happened before the cross so that they could participate in that forgiveness (Romans 3:25).

What does this love mean to us? It means that we can trust God. He will always give “good and perfect gifts from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). It means that the bad things that happen to us are caused by sin in this world and by our own choices. God doesn’t cause those bad things, but He promises to walk with us through them (Hebrews 13:5) and to bring good from them (Romans 8:28). It means that the church and the Gospel are triumphant and will continue to be triumphant until Christ comes to rule His kingdom that is growing within us and in the world.

We are now righteous. Let’s be His ambassadors to this world and increase His kingdom.

Abba, thank You for calling us to be part of Your kingdom. Thank You for growing Your kingdom within us. May we share the good news of reconciliation to those around us, so that they, too, can have You and Your kingdom within them. “May Your kingdom come, may Your will be done on earth even as it is in heaven.” Amen.

Proverbs 8 9-8-21

It’s not what you know, but who you know, namely Christ Jesus. He is the Key to everything.

22 The LORD chose Me, appointed Me, anointed Me, and sacrificed Me as the first of His works [of salvation], before His deeds of old [creation];

If we want to know God, we must get to know Jesus. Colossians 2:9 tells us that “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity [God the Father] lives in bodily form.” Jesus IS God. John 1:1-3 says that Jesus is the Word, and the Word is God, therefore Jesus is God. This “Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” He was God, but also the “Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. “Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been with you such a long time? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father...Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me?'” John 14:8-10. We have been given fullness in Christ. Fulness of what? Christ Himself! Colossians 2:10.

We come to understand the love of God and the full riches of complete understanding of Christ through experience. We must experience life with Christ. Doing things for Christ doesn’t qualify. We must do these things WITH Christ. His Spirit within us IS Christ. He is the One who reveals everything as we go through everything with Him. If He is not in charge, then He remains quiet and we miss the opportunity to learn from the experience. He will have to take us through it again WITH Him so that we may learn the lesson He has for us, the wisdom we are to gain, and the experiential knowledge of Christ that He wants to reveal to us.

Colossians 2:2-3 and 6-7 give us all this information. Let’s read it:

How I long that you may be encouraged, and find out more and more how strong are the bonds of Christian love. How I long for you to grow more certain in your knowledge and more sure in your grasp of God himself. May your spiritual experience become richer as you see more and more fully God’s great secret, Christ himself! For it is in him, and in him alone, that men will find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. J.B. PHILIPS

Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so go on living in him—in simple faith. Grow out of him as a plant grows out of the soil it is planted in, becoming more and more sure of the faith as you were taught it [experientially], and your lives will overflow with joy and thankfulness.

Hint: Reading Colossians 2:1-15 in several different translations and paraphrases will give the reader a fuller grasp of the text’s meaning. What else will we find?

  1. Our whole self that was ruled by the flesh was put off [discarded] when Christ circumcised our hearts upon salvation.
  2. God made us alive WITH Christ. That’s HUGE!
  3. Jesus canceled our debt by nailing it to the cross.
  4. He disarmed the powers and authorities of Satan, triumphing over them by the cross.

Powerful passage! It’s worth spending a few days soaking up the meaning of each truth given in it. Let’s see: Encouraged hearts, knowing the mystery of God (which is Christ), hidden treasures of experiential knowledge, strengthened faith that is overflowing with joy and thankfulness, having the fullness of Christ dwell in us, made alive WITH Christ, and having our sin debt completely erased…it doesn’t get any better than these! Aren’t you glad you know Christ personally? They are all yours through and with Him!

Abba, what wondrous works You have wrought! Thank You for making Yourself available to each of us through Your Spirit. May I learn each of these wonderful truths and learn to manifest them in my life. I’m ready, Lord! Lead the way. Amen.

Proverbs 8 8-8-21

Guidelines for reading Proverbs 8. Sometimes we need a little perspective.

9 To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge [of the holy One-9:10].

When I read chapter 8, there are two things I keep in mind:

  1. Jesus is “wisdom from God” – 1 Corinthians 1:30, “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
  2. Jesus is the Word – John 1:1, 14, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The conclusion I reach is that Jesus is the wisdom that is speaking in this chapter. As I read it, the meanings of the verses take on a whole new dimension and application when I consider that Christ is speaking to me through them. For instance:

  • v. 10 “Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold.” Christ’s instruction would be the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life. Knowledge of Him would be getting to know the Spirit within me. Both are better than anything this world can offer.
  • v. 17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” By loving Christ, I have the privilege of being loved by Him. In John, I find out that to be loved by the Son is to be loved by the Father (John 14:21). I also have the promise that if I seek Him, then I will find Him. “My heart [His Spirit] says to me, ‘Seek HIs face.’ Your face, O LORD, will I seek.” Psalm 27:8.
  • When we read verses 22-29, the meaning of the terms, “brought forth” and “given birth,” can be better translated as, “appointed” and “anointed” as in a ceremony. He was “established” and “poured out,” “chosen” and “presented.” Jesus was not created, but appointed to be God’s emissary to earth for our sakes.
  • v. 30 I love the phrase, “I was constantly at His side” as “I was the craftsman at His side.” We have confirmation of this interpretation in John 1:2-3, 1 Corinthians 8:6, Colossians 1:15-17, Hebrews 1:2-3, and Revelation 22:13.
  • v. 36 reminds me of John 3:18, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

The last thing I want to point out is that as we read this chapter, we need to have open hearts and open minds to Him. He wants to clarify that He really does run the universe and is qualified to run our lives. At the same time, He wants our cooperation–more than that, He wants our trust. Neither does He want to do it alone; He wants our companionship. Let’s give it to Him!

Abba, May You continue to speak to us through Your Word. Thank You for making it available to us for over 3,000 years! That, in itself, is a miracle that cannot be explained!!! May we never take it for granted, but read it faithfully, listening for Your voice in the words, and hearing that whisper of Your love as we turn the pages. Amen.

Proverbs 8 7-8-21

Ever wondered if God chooses who gets saved? Or, does He hope that people will? It has everything to do with free will.

1 Does not wisdom [NT- the Gospel] call out Does not understanding raise her voice? 6 “Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. 7 My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. 10 Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, 11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her [choosing Christ].”

There are plenty of verses that indicate that the Holy Spirit has to move in a person’s life in order for that person to even want to be saved. Then, the process of salvation is actually the activity of the Spirit in a person’s life. After that, it’s up to the Spirit to keep us until our salvation is complete upon entry into the kingdom of heaven. Here are some verses:

44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. John 6:44

65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” John 6:65

27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Matthew 11:27

14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. Acts 16:14

So, who gets chosen? Let’s look at a few verses and see:

32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live! Ezekiel 18:32

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3-4

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. Titus 2:11

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

What is it that God looks for in a person? We find that answer in 2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” According to Jesus, we have one job: “The work of God is this: to believe in [trust in, rely on, wholly commit to] the one He has sent [Jesus].” But, if a person cannot come unless God enables him, how is a person saved? “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17). So, once a person has heard the message, the Spirit of God takes over. If a person asks God to give him faith to believe in Jesus for salvation, I trust that He will. It’s a confirmation of the Spirit’s presence and participation in that person’s life.

But, not all people take God up on His offer of salvation. We need only to look at the Parable of the Sower to understand the tendency of humanity (read Mark 4:1-20, also Luke 14:15-24).

Our job is to spread the message of Christ. How? By becoming involved in people’s lives and looking for opportunities to share Christ with them. How are you doing in this department? Maybe it’s time we broke out of our protective shells and got busy!

Abba, may I be the first to address this issue in my life. I plan to do it today with Angela, a girl I met yesterday because of an auto accident I witnessed. May I meet her physical needs concerning her car, and then her spiritual needs concerning Jesus. Prime her heart, Lord Jesus. I’m looking forward to the opportunity. Amen.

34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
    watching daily at my doors,
    waiting at my doorway.
35 For those who find me find life
    and receive favor from the Lord.
36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
    all who hate me love [court] death.”

Proverbs 8 6-8-21

How can a person tell if he is a Christian, which is a follower of Jesus Christ, His Spirit, and His teachings? #1

10 Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, 11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.

The first thing we need to know is that Christians are different. We are new (2 Corinthians 5:17). In fact, “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” 1 Peter 2:10. We are the people of God! How can we tell who the people of God are? Let’s look at it from an individual perspective:

Number 1:
There was a point in time when Jesus came to you
and prompted you to give Him your heart and life
–and you did, holding nothing back.

The passage that us usually used for this process is Romans 10:9-13,

9 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

We must view this passage from a Jewish perspective. Their sin was covered by an animal sacrifice, which they had to do again and again. Jesus is our Final Sacrifice. Believing that God raised Him from the dead is the same as declaring that Jesus is Ha’Mashiach, the Messiah. To be Messiah is to be Lord, King, even God! He is not Someone we receive and then go, “Okay, now I can get on with my life knowing that I have eternal security.” NO! As Lord and God, King and Messiah, He commands our loyalty, our devotion, even our lives. Jesus Christ, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, is who we believe in, trust in, and follow. We are promised that everyone who calls on Him as his Final Sacrifice will be saved, made whole, be complete, and be eternally secure.

From now on, when we get up in the morning, the very first thought and words from our mouths should be, “Jesus is Lord.” He is our Lord, our Master, our Savior. This thought and prayer will bring you great joy and assurance as you go through your day engaging Your Lord in conversation throughout the day.

Remember this: We are no longer under the sacrificial system; We ARE forgiven (we live in forgiveness). When we struggle to obey, we no longer plea for forgiveness, but for correction and the restoration of fellowship with the Spirit. Our confession daily is: We Need Jesus!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would understand that they are forgiven and are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. May we take great pleasure in this process even though it can be rigorous and sometimes painful. We look forward to the goal, which is to be like Christ and, ultimately, with Christ and You in glory. Amen.

Proverbs 8 5-8-21

Meeting the Savior is more important than gaining salvation. Consider it a by-product; it’s what we get by knowing Him.

32 “Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.
34 Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.
35 For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.
36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.”

Did you notice that it’s all about finding Him? And this is Old Testament! Jesus said, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. It’s all about the relationship.

Today, we look at the first category of spiritual growth, the spiritually dead. We come into this world with the blood of Adam in us, which means that we are born into the same spiritual condition of Adam: Sans-Spirit (without the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives). The Lord continuously works with people to bring them to a place of awareness of this vacuum. What we do about that vacuum once we perceive it is according to each person. This choice is called, “free will.” God will not force a person to trust in Him, even though there are a few people whose testimonies may seem that way, like John the Baptist, who was filled with the Spirit even while in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15). Our choice to trust Christ is made outside of time with a corresponding place inside of time, or on the timeline. God, who lives in the ever-present, is both places at once; He is always NOW. It’s what “I AM” means (Exodus 3:14). Therefore, God knew that John would trust Him. King David is another example (Psalm 139).

The problem is that we have an enemy, Satan, who comes to us and gets us to doubt God. Because we have never experienced Jesus in our lives through the Holy Spirit, we tend to lean toward wickedness (doing things without regard to God or His instructions and commands). Satan gets us to focus on what feels good (pleasure), and leads us to believe that we can be our own god (1 John 2:16). What we don’t realize is that we are actually serving Satan; it’s a deception. We cannot serve two masters, but WE WILL SERVE SOMEONE (Matthew 6:24).

What God wants a person to realize is that it is not in the fulfillment of pleasure that completes us, nor in human relationships. It is in a personal, intimate, and ongoing relationship with God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. He becomes our Source of love, joy, peace, hope and grace. Once a person has experienced these fruit of the Spirit that flow from His person, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace” (the refrain from, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”).

His forgiveness awaits anyone who will turn to Him. He has paid the price for our sin (our wickedness, selfish desires, rebellion and treason). Why? Because He wants us back! It really is that simple.

For those of us who have turned to Him and trusted Him as our Savior and Lord, we rejoice every time we go over these truths. They warm us up all over again! Let us praise our Father and His Son for such a wonderful salvation.

Abba, I give You praise for Your wondrous salvation through Jesus. I realize that it’s not salvation that I sought, but You, Jesus. You are my Savior. Going to heaven when I die is a by-product of my knowing You. In fact, all death is to me is a removing of the barriers that keep me from experiencing You more completely. May You reveal more and more of Yourself to us through prayer, Scripture reading, and spending time with the rest of Your body, the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23). We love You. Amen.

Proverbs8 4-8-21

How does the New Covenant relate to us? Through Jesus, we can now experience the love, joy and peace of God.

20 I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, 21 bestowing a rich [spiritual] inheritance on those who love me and making their [heavenly] treasuries full.

As we continue to delve into the mysteries of this New Covenant, let’s take a look at some of the practical ways it affects us. I don’t know about you, but I need practical application in order to more fully understand a concept. Let’s begin with Romans 5:1-2,

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. 

We believe in the resurrection, so we have faith that Jesus gave us peace with God by being our propitiation (substitute offering) through His death and resurrection. We have experienced His grace! It’s not that God hated us and is not appeased; He has always loved us and personally came to us in/as Jesus Christ. God died for us through Jesus. That’s how much He loves us (John 3:16). Our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for us is what gives us peace with God. We now have access to stand in His presence and experience all of His love, joy, peace, and the hope that these feelings bring to us as we walk in this world. If you are not experiencing these fruit of the Spirit, then spend time with Him at His throne; it’s the only way to get them.

Tomorrow, we will read Romans 5:12 and look at how this New Covenant fulfilled God’s eternal plan. In the meantime, take great assurance in the peace of God by spending time with Him in His Word and in prayer. It’s in our exchange with Him that we receive His point of view (wisdom). Your reward in heaven will be great!

Abba, I want to “rejoice and leap” as it says in Luke 6:23! As I spend time in Your presence by turning around in my mind and addressing You, I immediately sense Your love, joy and peace that exude from You. I KNOW it’s what You want me to experience all the time; I just need more training in how to keep You at the forefront of my mind. Train me, O Lord, so that I may train others. Amen.

Proverbs 8 3-8-21

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” Hebrews 13:8. He has always wanted us back.

27 When he [the Father] prepared the heavens, I [Jesus Christ] was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:
28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: 29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: 30 Then I [Jesus Christ]
was the craftsman by his side day after day, and I [Jesus Christ] was filled with delight, rejoicing always before him; 31 rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind. Proverbs 8:27-31 (compiled from several versions)

So, when Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago…” we know that He was the One who said it. He knew what He meant; He needed no one to interpret for Him. Jesus came to explain the Law and then fulfill it. Read on!

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ [an Aramaic term of contempt] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ [an even worse term of contempt] will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Matthew 5:21-22

Jesus was, of course, talking about the Israelites at Mount Sinai when the 10 Commandments were given. I think He phrased it that way so that the people were forced to remember what they knew about the event. It brought from the subconscious to the conscious more than what would have been thought of if He had simply said, “When God gave the 10 Commandments, He said…” Jesus immediately set the record straight that it was not just about the actual act of murder, but also about the thoughts and intents of the heart. If we want to be like God, then we must think like Him. Since only the Spirit knows the mind of the Lord (1 Cor. 2:11), then we need the Spirit with us and in us. Hence, the cross, resurrection, and Pentecost.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

Jesus then gives an example of a good time to forgive: Before coming before the Father with an offering. He was still talking to Jews who bought sacrifices to the temple in Jerusalem. What Jesus was asking was BIG. Consider that you are from Nazareth and are in Jerusalem about to offer your annual sheep at the temple and the Lord brings to mind a fellow Jew who thinks you cheated him. Jesus is saying that you should leave your sheep with someone in Jerusalem and make the trek back home (70 miles), reconcile to that person, and then return and give your offering. Jesus was saying that reconciliation was a more proper sacrifice to God than the sheep. He would know.

Verses 25 and 26 we will save for tomorrow. Good stuff there.

Abba, may we take our offering as seriously as Jesus wants us to take it. May we not only forgive those who do us wrong, but be reconciled with them (if they are willing); the first is a heart issue while the second is a fellowship issue. Thank You, Jesus, for setting the record straight. We want to be like You because that makes us like our heavenly Father. Give us more, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 8 2-8-21

To make disciples, we first need to be disciples. Following Jesus from afar doesn’t cut it. We need to be up close and personal.

6 Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.
9 To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge.
34 Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.

Our job as Christians is to evangelize the world. What does that mean? It means that we are to spread the account of Jesus Christ and His message with those we come into contact. You might say, “That’s impossible! Even Billy Graham didn’t share with everyone he came into contact.” Correct. So, we must have an incomplete view of what it means to share Christ. Jesus said for us to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). Paul called us the fragrance and aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

We get our marching orders from Jesus on the Mount of Olives just before He ascended to heaven, “All authority has been given to me, so go, and as you go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I promise to be with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20. Paul puts it like this, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1.

How did Jesus call His own disciples? Let’s look:

  • Peter and Andrew, James and John- “Come, follow Me and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matthew 4:19.
  • Philip-“Follow Me.” John 1:43.
  • Matthew-“Follow Me.” Matthew 9:9.
  • The rest were appointed out of the ones who were following Him as a group-“He appointed twelve that they might be with Him…” Mark 3:14.

In each case, Jesus called them to walk with Him, to learn from Him, and to be like Him. This process is True Discipleship. Wherever did we get the idea that evangelism was having people pray a prayer? How did the process get boiled down to just one act? Where’s the commitment? Where’s the footwork?

Let’s go back further to Moses. Here’s what the LORD said to him, “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” Exodus 4:12. How about Abraham? “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” Genesis 12:1. What about Noah? Genesis 6:9-14 says that Noah was a righteous man who walked faithfully with God. It was out of one of these conversations that God told him to build the ark. Again, it was part of discipleship.

There is the office of evangelism (Ephesians 4:11-12). Evangelism is the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ; it is a call to repentance and change; it is a call to follow Christ. There are people who are called to be evangelists. Take Peter, for instance:

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:36-38

Peter had the occasion (the festival of Pentecost–all male Israelites were required to attend), the sign (tongues of fire and individual languages), the motivation (Jesus had told him to spread the Gospel), and the opportunity (all were gathered in the temple grounds for the sacrifice). These are the things we are to look for when sharing the Gospel:

  1. The occasion– “as you go…”
  2. The sign– There will be something that triggers the opportunity.
  3. The motivation– We listen to the Spirit and He prompts us and empowers us.
  4. The opportunity– We wait for the Spirit to present the right time and circumstances, the right people and the right frame of mind.

If we walk with the LORD everyday, all day, if we immerse ourselves in His Scriptures and plead with the Holy Spirit to open our minds to Him, if we converse with our brothers and sisters in Christ about the things of God, then we will find that we, too, are evangelists, and that we, too, are disciple-makers. As we walk in step with Christ, He will lead us and will present these opportunities to us. We don’t have to “conjure them up.” In fact, forcing the issue creates issues (Acts 19:13-16, the seven sons of Sceva). When the time is right and the people are ready, He will let us know.

What happens after evangelism? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s lesson on Discipleship: the True calling of Christ’s followers.

Abba, You are so faithful to keep Your word. Thank You that You don’t expect us to do anything that You do not first call us and then empower us to do. We can trust You in this matter of evangelism and also in discipleship. May You train us up in true righteousness and holiness so that we can show others The Way. Amen.

Proverbs 1-8-21

Which comes first, our love for Christ or following His commands? We serve because we love Him, but show that love through service.

1 Does not wisdom [the Spirit] call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?

Jesus came to seek and to save those who are lost.” We were lost, but now we are found. What does our salvation mean personally? Jesus describes it in John 14:15-21,

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 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.”

Let’s squeeze these verses and get the nectar out of them:

  1. If you love me- We love Him because He first loved us (also 1 John 4:19).
  2. Keep my commands- Jesus’ call on our lives is for us to live righteously. We can only do that if we listen to Him and live like Him. The point of our salvation is to be like Jesus, with Jesus.
  3. Another advocate…forever- He’s speaking of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. He is also mentioned in John 14:26, John 15:26, John 16:7-8, and John 16:13-15.
  4. For He lives in you and will be in you- This verse right here makes Christianity what it is. Our personal relationship with the Father is stated and described in these words. Want to know the difference between Christianity and Buddhism? Hinduism? Islam? New Age? Here it is!
  5. I will come to you- Lest we think that the Spirit and Jesus are two different people, Jesus superimposes Himself over the Spirit. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ, yet He is a distinct part of the Trinity. WOW!
  6. But you will see Me- This statement is both literal and figurative. It is literal in that Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples after the resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 15:4-8 for a list) and it is figurative in that we “see” Him by knowing Him personally in our lives. We “see” Him in Scripture when we read His Word; we hear His voice when He talks to us; we feel His hand on our backs when He urges us on, and we feel His arms around us when we need a hug. I LOVE THIS VERSE!
  7. I am in the Father, and you are in me, and I am in you- Folks, it doesn’t get more intimate than that!
  8. The one who loves me- The way we show our love for Christ is first by having His commands (in other words, we learn them from His Words: the Bible) and then by keeping them. Aren’t we glad that He doesn’t hold us to the Law as it was before He came?! Instead, He gives us just one new command: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” John 13:34-35.
  9. Loved by my Father- We are loved by His Father! Isn’t that great?! In fact, we have been adopted by Him! Jesus also promises that He loves us and will show Himself to us. I live for this promise. How about you?

Today, let’s show Jesus how much we love Him by spending time with Him in prayer, in His Word, and with other Christians sharing and testifying to each other. Then, when He brings someone to us, we can share out of our storehouse all the good things we know about Christ so that they can experience Him, too.

Abba, I love this passage. It tells me who I am in You and that You are with–even in–me. My security is…well, secure. Thank You for being so plain; I need that. May I show You how much I love You be obeying Your commands as You lead me with Your counsel. Amen.

Proverbs 8 12-8-20

Things I have learned having COVID19: God uses everything that occurs in our lives to draw us to Himself in relationship.

5 You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.

To pray for God to keep us from getting COVID is to ask Him to not use the very thing that He may be planning to use to draw us into a closer and deeper walk with Him. At the same time, He wants to hear our hearts–but then, for us to trust Him for whatever comes next.

We forget that He wants us with Him in glory. That is HIS goal for us (John 17:24). In the meantime, as long as He has plans for us to further His kingdom in this world and to learn to walk with Him in Spirit and in truth, we are bulletproof–until He says otherwise, and as long as we do things His way. Notice I did NOT say that we wouldn’t suffer, only that we will not die until He is ready to receive us. Even our deaths bring Him glory.

  1. We have no fear of death because He has defeated death! 1 Corinthians 15:54-58.
  2. We have no fear of pain:
    1. Our bodies are designed to “shut down” when pain reaches a certain level. We go into shock; we can still function at a certain level, but the pain is muted.
    2. I believe that there is a thinning of the veil between heaven and earth in times of extreme pain. Our souls experience a taste of glory, which mitigates the pain. We see it in Stephen when he is stoned (Acts 7:55-60).
  3. We have no fear of uselessness. To be limited to prayer alone is NOT a punishment, but a liberation! From that point on, we commune with our LORD on an ever-deepening level that moves us into oneness with Him. In fact, there may be a point when even consciousness is abandoned in relation to this communion. We have no idea what goes on spiritually when a person is in a coma. My hope is that the LORD is doing a deep work with that person’s soul.

It is interesting to realize that the universe goes on without me. I yearn to get back to leading, singing, teaching, and playing with my grandchildren, but I also understand that the LORD has plans for me that go beyond my understanding. I simply want to learn all I can from everything I go through. God doesn’t waste any opportunity; I don’t want to, either.

Abba, my whole experience with COVID has been typical; for that I am grateful. May I come out of this sickness with a better understanding of You, of suffering, the plight of humanity, and the salvation/restoration You have in store for those who love You and for creation. May our sites be a little more focused on You and Your Plan as we deal with COVID. Amen.

Proverbs 8 11-8-20

Don’t give in to despair. Recognize that it’s the enemy trying to get you to give up and give in. KEEP PRAYING!

13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.

When we are tempted to give up and say, “What’s the use?” is when we are close to having victory in our lives. It’s like Satan’s last defense; he has tried to block us at every turn, but we have been diligent. Now, he tries to convince us that we don’t matter, that our opinion doesn’t matter, that our vote doesn’t matter, and that our prayers don’t matter. But, THEY DO!

When Paul was talking to Timothy, he encouraged him with these words,

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:13-15

Do you hear Paul saying, “Don’t give up. Keep pressing on”? In fact, those same words are spoken by Paul about himself in his letter to the Philippians,

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

When we are tempted to say, “What’s the use?”, we must remember that our calling by the LORD is NOT to change the world, but to be obedient to Him. HE will change the world. We are simply to be obedient. How?

  1. Through prayer. It’s our connection to Him. Our fellowship with Him gives us nourishment for our souls. He is the Vine and we are His branches. The phrase, “suck it up,” should take on new meaning for us!
  2. Do what He tells us to do. He will draw our attention to whatever it is; we will have the thought, “I should do that.” We check with the Spirit one more time, and if there is no “check in our spirit”, we do it. We don’t even have to consider whether or not it will make a difference. The boy with five loaves of bread and two small fishes didn’t consider his contribution small–it was his lunch!
  3. Be diligent. In other words, keep at it. Be obstinate, even dogmatic about the LORD’s will. If we are going to be known for something, our diligence and integrity are the BEST things. I would rather someone say, “Well, you can say this about him, he’s consistent,” than have words of flattery said about me. The only Person I want to please is the LORD.

Here are two verses to encourage us:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Consider Him [Jesus Christ] who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:3

Based upon these two verses, we should continue to resist the devil and be encouraged as we pray through whatever “problems” we are having in our lives. I put “problems” in quotations because they are really obstacles in an obstacle course; taken on correctly, they become the very tools that the Spirit uses to train us in godliness. Let’s not have to take this course again…!

Abba, I pray encouragement for my brothers and sisters. May they not grow weary in coming to You about all things. May their fellowship with You be sweet, especially as they read Your Word and hear Your voice. May their praise be genuine and fresh today as we meet together in our respective churches. We delight in You, O LORD. Amen.

Keep On Walking – The Imperials

Proverbs 8 10-8-20

Wisdom: Jesus IN the Word. When we read, He speaks to us; we find Him in each page; He speaks to us in them!

This chapter is awesome in that we are introduced to how the Word of God can change our lives. Wisdom is seeing from God’s perspective. It’s standing right beside Him looking where He’s looking and having Him explain it to us.

1 Does not wisdom [the Spirit] call out? Does not understanding [His explanation] raise her voice?
4 “To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind [all who will listen].
6 Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.”

We are always being shaped by what we see, hear and experience. How we are shaped depends on our temperament, personality, goals, and if we have the Holy Spirit living in us.

12 I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence [right choices]; I possess knowledge and discretion [how to make those right choices].
13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance–whoa!–evil behavior and perverse speech.

Jesus has given us living words, which are accounts of His life and what is important to Him. Salvation is based upon dying to ourselves and having Him live in us and through us (Galatians 2:20). If that’s not your goal, then you became a Christian for the wrong reasons. In fact, the first sign (fruit) of the Spirit in our lives when we are saved–and each morning when we get up–is to experience His presence by reading His Word and learning about Him. His Spirit gives us an insatiable desire to know Christ through the Scriptures.

Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:24b
30 I was the Craftsman at His side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in His presence, rejoicing in His whole world and delighting in mankind.

If you don’t have this burning desire to read His Word and “study to show yourself approved (2 Timothy 2:15),” then there are worries in this life, deceitfulness of wealth, and desires for other things that have come into your life and are choking you. You are unfruitful (see Mark 4:19).

32 Now then, my children, listen to Me; blessed are those who keep my ways [by learning them].
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.

Know this: God prunes His vines. He will cut off in our lives the leaves and stems that are diseased or are sucking life-giving nutrients out of us.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
“He [the Father] binds up every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 5:2

Are you frustrated with church? Read.
Are you concerned about where you are spiritually? Read.
Are you perplexed concerning the choices of your children? Read.

“Those who know [God] read.”

It’s time, folks. We MUST get serious about living our lives for Him. Our country depends upon our faithfulness; our children are depending upon our faithfulness! It ALL starts with a repentant heart and a willingness to pick up His Word and discover Him in the pages. He will do the rest!

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges [discerns] the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Abba, as I’ve already prayed this morning, I ask that You give my readers an insatiable desire to know Your Word. It has the power to transform their lives into mature and godly ambassadors for You. May our conversations at church move away from earthly matters and become conversations about what we’ve read lately in Your Word. WOW! What a paradigm shift!!! I look forward to the day, LORD. May it be soon. Amen.

Proverbs 8 9-8-20

We don’t have to have the Bible to know God, but it sure makes it easier! The Spirit speaks to us through it.

5 You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, your hearts on it and instruct your minds.
9 To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge.
17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

Let’s practice by taking a passage from King David’s Psalm 143.

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.
NOTE: This passage is on a card that I read every morning.

What can we learn?

  1. Each morning brings us word of His unfailing love. It’s in His Word for the reading. He has provided it for us if we will take advantage of it.
  2. What we read in the Bible we take as truth, not because it’s in the Bible, but because we believe that God orchestrated its writing, kept it protected all these millennia, and makes it available to us today.
  3. Why should we trust that the Bible–New Testament especially–is how God shows us the way to go? Peter himself told us, “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16. Matthew, Peter (through Mark), John, Paul, James and Jude all walked with Jesus. They had special knowledge of having learned from Him. Luke gathered many of the stories of people who walked with Jesus (I believe he talked to Mary; it’s the only way to explain Luke’s intimate knowledge of the Advent). His testament was verified and validated by those who walked with Jesus and were still living. Why shouldn’t we believe that God will speak to us through His Word? He did with David and with Jesus.
  4. How do we hide ourselves in God’s Word? By immersing ourselves in it and learning it inside and out. We can’t know too much of God’s Word. Why? Because it’s alive! “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12. How does it penetrate so deeply? “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.”1 Corinthians 2:13. His Spirit leads us on level ground as He teaches us to do God’s will.

Our obedience IS God’s will for our lives.

Let’s do all we can to know God. Let’s read His Word, study it, meditate on it, memorize it, and share it with others. We can’t go wrong knowing the Scriptures, for in them we find our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We “study the Scriptures diligently because we think that in them we have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about Me,” (John 5:39) so let’s come to Him for life. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Where did I learn this? From Jesus’s words, which were written down by John as he heard Jesus say them (recorded in John 14:6).

Abba, it breaks my heart when Christians are not interested in learning about You in Your Word. It would seem that if they truly believed that You came to earth and died for them that You would be worth reading about in Your Word that You so graciously provided for them! Cause us to hunger and thirst after righteousness, O LORD. We need You to give us both the desire and the power to seek You. Create in us clean hearts, O God, and renew a right spirit within us. Amen.

NOTE: Statistics show that people who read the Bible four or more times a week experience life change. Are YOU experiencing life change?