Jesus wants us to have abundant life now. How do we have this abundant life?

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ESV

10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. NLT

According to the NLT, this abundant life is a rich and satisfying life. Let’s establish something up front: “Rich and satisfying” has nothing to do with material possessions or long life. It has to do with the experience of knowing Christ on a deep, deep level. In fact, Christians throughout history who have faced loss, deprivation, torture or death have experienced a closeness to God that goes way beyond ordinary life.

Our prime example is the apostle Paul. In his life, he experienced,

“…far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” 2 Corinthians 11:23-27

What is Paul’s response to this kind of life?

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13

24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24

How could Paul have such an attitude? It has to do with what he was looking forward to. Here is the desire of Paul’s heart:

10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 4:10-11

Paul had been there (2 Corinthians 12:3-4) and knew what awaited Him. The presence of the Lord was with Him, and that presence sustained him through his life and into the next. We may not go through the trials Paul did, but we can experience the presence of Christ as he did. How? By committing ourselves to Christ every day, by studying His Word with Him, by praising Him often, and by aligning our lives with Him in godliness, righteousness and holiness. We need to learn how to practice the presence of Christ.

Abba, I need to heed my own advice. May I commit my life to You today, asking You to help me make decisions based upon how they will affect me concerning godliness, righteousness and holiness. Call me higher up and further in, Lord. I want to know You more. Amen.


HAPPY EASTER! Easter is truly the most important day in history. Christ forgave the world! Who will trust in Him?

Aaron Gann, from CMJ, The Church’s Ministry Among Jewish People, has this to say about Christ’s resurrection:

“While the resurrection has profound implications for salvation – and a focus on this is indeed appropriate – the resurrection is not merely about our justification but is also intimately connected with the kingship of Yeshua [Jesus]. The resurrection proves Yeshua’s claim as the Messiah of Israel since the resurrection of the Messiah was promised as a marker of Israel’s Messianic king.”
“When reading through the pages of the Hebrew Scriptures, one can find many passages that foretell a coming Messianic figure. It can be argued that the Messiah is the central theme of the Hebrew Scriptures as a whole – and by extension, the New Testament as well. Many of these passages – which speak of this figure – speak of a future king whose kingdom would stretch from river to river, who would exercise dominion over his enemies, and who would judge the nations and usher the world into a time of peace never seen before. He is one who would inherit the throne of his father David – being both David’s son and his Lord (Matt 22:41-46) – and whose kingdom would endure forever.”

His kingdom is in our hearts! As we worship our Lord Jesus Christ today, let us greet each other with,

“Christ is risen!”
“He is risen, indeed!”

Lord Jesus, today we worship You as our Lord and King. You are Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, Jesus our Messiah. Thank You for coming to extend Your great love to us and to rule in our hearts until You come to rule in our world. The angels declared that as You left, so You will come. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Proverbs 3-9-23

How long can a comet last? Not as long as some would like to think. Here’s the scoop:

As we resume our study of the “10 Best Evidences from Science that confirm a Young Earth” from Answers in Genesis, we look at:

#8 Short-Lived Comets

“A comet spends most of its time far from the sun in the deep freeze of space. But once each orbit, a comet comes very close to the sun, allowing the sun’s heat to evaporate much of the comet’s ice and dislodge dust to form a beautiful tail. Comets have little mass, so each close pass to the sun greatly reduces a comet’s size, and eventually comets fade away. They can’t survive billions of years.”

Could it be that the ice that forms comet tails came from earth during the Great Flood? The moon’s surface (the side that faces us) is covered with droplets of water. The energy coming from the underground super-heated water was three times the amount needed to overcome our gravity. Did the earth literally spray the face of the moon? Many meteors and asteroids are comprised of earth’s mantle, so why not water in comets? If so, then comets are around 5,000 years old.

The root of the matter lies in whether a person believes in a young or old earth and universe. God told us in His talks with Moses how He created the earth and how long it took,

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

God was giving us a pattern of work and rest. It’s been this way from the beginning,

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

If we can believe God for salvation, why is it so difficult for us to believe Him for creation? About the time I get to thinking that I am smarter and more knowledgeable than God, I read Job. Chapters 40-42 are about God asking Job where he was when Jesus was doing all the creating; He also asked him a lot of questions that only God could know. Here is Job’s answer:

42 Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“I know that you can do all things,
    and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me, which I did not know

Rather than letting the origin of comets burn brain cells, why don’t we give God glory for His creation, whether it was in the first creation or because of the Great Flood? All natural events find their origin in God. Let’s glorify Him.

Abba, because I believe that You created the universe and everything in it in six literal days, I tend to think about scientific mysteries from the standpoint of how You did it rather than how something came into being on its own. The neat thing is that inventions and discoveries are being made all the time that shed light on many of these mysteries and how they prove that You really did create everything! Thank You for being patient with mankind. May we all look to Jesus for all the answers concerning salvation and creation. Amen.

Proverbs 2-9-23

Ever sung a hymn about Jesus? You’re in good company. Christians have been singing hymns about Jesus for 2000 years!

He appeared in the flesh,
    was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
    was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
    was taken up in glory.

1 Timothy 3:16
Possibly the text of an early hymn!

From, “Person of Interest,” pages 141-142

Jesus followers were inspired by Jesus to sing songs about Jesus to Jesus. They borrowed these songs from Old and New Testament Scriptures and quickly began to write their own.
Just as the fingerprints of Jesus can be found in the art of the earliest centuries of the Common Era, so too can they be seen in music. Hundreds of historic hymns were written in the first four centuries of the church, most well before Christianity was safe to sing about.

Embedded in these sacred songs were the simple truths about Jesus. The early church hymns are a rich evidential source of information about Jesus. The broad narrative of Jesus’s life, ministry, death, and resurrection can be heard in these songs, along with many rich theological truths that early believers affirmed. In fact, if all the New Testament manuscripts were destroyed, we would still know the following truths about Jesus from Christian hymns sung in the first four centuries.

  • The BIRTH of Jesus
  • The MINISTRY of Jesus
  • The MISSION of Jesus
  • The DEATH of Jesus
  • The BURIAL of Jesus
  • The RESURRECTION of Jesus
  • The RETURN of Jesus
  • The TITLES of Jesus

The Jesus described in ancient hymns matches the Jesus depicted by ancient artists and the Jesus described by the earliest authors of literature. The fallout in the earliest centuries of the Common Era pointed to the same Jesus described on the pages of the New Testament.

Throughout the centuries, Christian composers, singers, and players were involved with more than just Christian hymns. Because of their influence, “they pushed the envelope of their own contemporary forms of musical expression, making structural and compositional changes even as they invented (or added) new musical instruments” (page 143).

Historic Christian musicians, singers, and performers laid the foundation on which modern music stands. Thousands of years later, Jesus followers are still inspired to sing about Jesus of Nazareth. A brief internet search reveals the depth of the contemporary Christian music industry. In the past fifty years, over five hundred artists have contributed to this industry, recording songs numbering into the hundreds of thousands.

Even pop artists sing about Jesus. Just do a quick internet search and you’ll find singers like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Smokey Robinson, Simon and Garfunkel, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Michael Jackson, Metallica, Guns n’ Roses, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, and many others–and we haven’t even listed country singers! “Some of these artists were inspired by Jesus, some were informed by him, and some were infuriated by him. But Jesus mattered to all of them. They saw Jesus as a person of interest, worthy of their attention” (page 151).

Tomorrow: Education.

Abba, for my prayer, I will quote an old hymn, “Why do I sing about Jesus?”

Deep in my heart there’s a gladness
Jesus has saved me from sin
Praise to His name, what a Savior
Cleansing without and within
Why do I sing about Jesus?
Why is He precious to me?
He is my Lord and my Savior
Dying, He set me free!


Proverbs 9 1-9-23

Hearing God’s audible voice must have been incredible! Once was in our John 12 passage. Can you name the other two?

We left off after reading John 12:27, so let’s pick up there:

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.” 

The crowd was confused at this point, but Jesus set them straight,

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. 

The three times in Jesus’ life that God spoke out loud publicly were times when Jesus was entering into a new stage of ministry.

  1. The first time was at Jesus’ baptism, “And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” Matthew 3:17.
  2. The second time was on the mount of Transfiguration, “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
  3. The third time was when Jesus was entering into His final stage of ministry, Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again” John 12:27.

Jesus then announced this final stage,

31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

  1. Jesus wanted them to hear His exchange with the Father.
  2. Judgment was now coming on this world. Judgment of what? To “break the power of him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil,” the prince of this world (Hebrews 2:14).
  3. “Lifted up” means, “exalted.” I believe that Jesus is referring to the raising of the snake on a pole (see Numbers 21:1-9) because of His statement to Nicodemus in John 3:14-15, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

The other word in verse 32 that gives us trouble is, “draw.” The Greek is helskyso, which means, “to drag or pull,” as with a fishing net. Examples are: the disciples’ nets were so full that they dragged (helskyso) the fish ashore (John 21:11); Paul and Silas were dragged (helskyso) before the magistrates (Acts 16:19). Are people dragged into salvation with God? Absolutely not! That would nullify their ability to choose. Here is another metaphor: Jesus was on one side of the Grand Canyon and we were on another side with a half mile down and half mile across separating us, then Jesus reached over and pulled our side up next to His. Now there is NO SEPARATION between us and God. All a person has to do is turn and be saved (Isaiah 45:22). This illustration is by no means a complete picture of what Christ did for us. In fact, we could spend the next 1000 years discovering all that went into the Passion week of Christ, i.e. His entry in Jerusalem, His teaching on the temple grounds, His arrest, trial, and crucifixion, and His resurrection. The assuring thing is that we know it’s all true!

Let’s thank Jesus for all He went through to get us back. He is our Great Rescuer, the Victorious Christ (Christus Victor).

Abba, Your salvation is so big that there is no way for us to get our arms around it. What stands out to me is Your great love for us. May we bask in the waterfall of Your love, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 9 12-9-22

Walking with God is the only safe place to be. To walk in darkness is dangerous; we cannot see what makes us stumble.

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
    shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
    they do not know what makes them stumble

Proverbs 4:18-19

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 Nahum 1:3 and Jonah 4:2. Today, we finish the OT passages with Nehemiah 9:17-18. Nehemiah’s description of God comes 200+ years later than Jonah (around 444 BC) when he left Babylon for Israel to rebuild Jerusalem. Here is a part of his prayer to God,

17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies. Nehemiah 9:17-18

As Nehemiah reflects on all of the catastrophes that have befallen them, he does not blame God, but gives Him credit for striving with his wayward people. We learn from Nehemiah that God does not desert them. More than that, God’s character is still the same; they are just seeing a different side of it. After all that had happened and all that the people had gone through, they were finally realizing that God’s “wrath” had more to do with the consequences of walking apart from God. He is our light and our salvation. When we walk with Him, we need not be afraid (Psalm 27:1).

Tomorrow, we will step into the New Testament and look at how God’s character is revealed by Mary, Zechariah, and the writers of the NT.

Abba, You continue to reveal Yourself to us daily. May we continue to learn and put into practice what You show us. We want to reflect You to the people around us. Show us the way, Lord, and we will follow. Amen.

Proverbs 9 11-9-22

Mankind, by ourselves, cannot save ourselves. We need a Savior. Jesus is that Savior!

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

Several weeks ago, I did a series of posts on the Baptist Faith and Message. In the third section on “Man,” I errantly left out any discussion about the state of mankind spiritually and jumped directly into what God thinks of us (see Proverbs 11 9-11-22). Today, I would like to amend that little oversite with comment and a portion taken from a more recent post (see Proverbs 29 10-29-22). First, the BF&M:

III. Man

Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.

Genesis 1:26-302:5,7,18-2239:6Psalms 18:3-632:1-551:5Isaiah 6:5Jeremiah 17:5Matthew 16:26Acts 17:26-31Romans 1:19-323:10-18,235:6,12,196:67:14-258:14-18,291 Corinthians 1:21-3115:19,21-22Ephesians 2:1-22Colossians 1:21-223:9-11.

Mankind can be described as depraved, which means, “corrupt, wicked, or perverted.” We have taken a bite out of the poison apple (to borrow a phrase from “Snow White), and have been corrupted by evil desires (2 Peter 1:3-4). We are wicked in that we do not consider God in any of our decisions, nor do we include Him in our lives. We are perverted in thinking that it’s all about us and our feelings, cravings, fears, and desires (1 John 2:16). We are enemies of God and alienated from Him by choice (Colossians 1:21). We are turned away from Him and turned to darkness (John 3:19). We are at odds with God.

There are three analogies that speak to the human condition:

  1. The courtroom scene- We each have sinned against a holy God and can not longer stand in His holy presence in our current condition. We need cleansing. Christ’s blood washes us clean and we are once again welcome at the throne of grace (2 Corinthians 5:21Romans 8:1-21 John 1:8).
  2. The hospital emergency room- With sin came sickness to our eyes, our bodies, and our souls. Jesus demonstrated this fact throughout His ministry by healing the body and the soul. In Jesus, we are healed and whole (Mark 2:3-12Mark 2:17Luke 4:18).
  3. The rescue operation- Sin binds, it addicts, and it controls. Jesus came to break our bonds, pull us out of our addiction to sin, and to wrest control from the one who controls us (Satan). In Jesus, we find FREEDOM (Matthew 12:28-29Romans 7:24-25Hebrews 2:14-15)!

But, none of this caught God off-guard. His love for us goes beyond anything we can do, think, see or say. He proved that love on a cross, and died to rise again, thus offering us the gift of life in Him. Aren’t we glad?!

It’s not about us, yet it is. He loves us and has made it all about our salvation. He wants us back! Look at the extent He went through to get us back:

  • Leaving His glory in heaven,
  • Limiting Himself to a human body,
  • Living in the dust of this world with all kinds of people,
  • Dying at the hands of arrogant men,
  • Rising again to new life, and
  • Ascending back to His throne in heaven.

Let’s make life all about Him, shall we?

Abba, it is always good to go back and look at our starting place so that we can see how far we have come by Your mercy and Your grace. In the words of the old Imperials song,

Keep on walkin’
You don’t know how far you’ve come
Keep on walkin’
For all you know it may be done
And the Father
Might be standin’ up right now
To give the call and end it all
So keep on walkin’

Keep On Walkin

I intend to. Amen.

Proverbs 9 10-9-22

We are either moving toward God with Jesus, or away from God without Jesus. Which is it for you?

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 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. John 3:17-18

The battle for our minds has been going on since the Garden of Eden. Getting us to doubt God and His commands and promises is something at which Satan is extremely good. Even with the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, we still struggle with our thoughts. But, here is His promise:

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.  Colossians 1:21-23

  1. We were alienated from God by our evil behavior, but it wasn’t our behavior that alienated us. It was what we thought that alienated us. In order to do evil, we must turn away from God, but He has always loved us. In fact, He loved us enough to come to earth in human form–Jesus–and die for us.
  2. Death is the consequence of sin. Jesus took that consequence to the grave and left it there, coming out on the other side and offering us that same experience through Him!
  3. Because we have “died” in Christ, sin no longer has a hold on us. From now on, we are training to be children of the King. In Christ, we know that He will present us holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation. His blood has washed us white as snow! We are not covered–we are clean!
  4. The “if” here calls attention to the fact that our choices matter. Yes, He will present us without fault and with great joy to the Father (Jude 24), but our choices now matter to our lives and our testimony to others. We are light-bearers; let’s live our lives accordingly.
  5. Established and firm, immovable in our faith. How do we get there? By immersing ourselves in all things godly and by abstaining from all things worldly. Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Even so, it is our goal, our aim, and our highest purpose. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can strive to move “higher up and further in.”

We have the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s rejoice today in Him:

57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be firm, immovable, always excelling in 

the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58

Abba, I don’t know why, but You love us and have already promised us that when we get to where You are, we will be righteous, blameless, pure and holy. Bless You! Praise You! Until then, we will strive to live with You and for You. May You receive all the glory, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 9 9-9-22

Jesus was literally fathered by the Heavenly Father, yet He has always been one with Him. How is that?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

As we continue of our survey of the Baptist Faith & Message, we pick up where we left off yesterday with God the Father and move on to God the Son:

B. God the Son

Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.

Genesis 18:1ff.; Psalms 2:7ff.; 110:1ff.; Isaiah 7:14Isaiah 53:1-12Matthew 1:18-233:178:2911:2714:3316:16,2717:52728:1-6,19Mark 1:13:11Luke 1:354:4122:7024:46John 1:1-18,2910:30,3811:25-2712:44-5014:7-1116:15-16,2817:1-521-2220:1-20,28Acts 1:92:22-247:55-569:4-5,20Romans 1:3-43:23-265:6-218:1-3,3410:41 Corinthians 1:302:28:615:1-8,24-282 Corinthians 5:19-218:9Galatians 4:4-5Ephesians 1:203:114:7-10Philippians 2:5-11Colossians 1:13-222:91 Thessalonians 4:14-181 Timothy 2:5-63:16Titus 2:13-14Hebrews 1:1-34:14-157:14-289:12-15,24-2812:213:81 Peter 2:21-253:221 John 1:7-93:24:14-155:92 John 7-9Revelation 1:13-165:9-1412:10-1113:819:16.

Three references are listed above that explain who Jesus really is:

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel [God with us]. Isaiah 7:14

Jesus is one of the Trinity. He is God with us.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Jesus is the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us.
He IS grace and truth.

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. Hebrews 1:2

Jesus is how God speaks to us. He is the One to whom we listen.

Jesus is “God with skin on.” He is the exact representation of God’s being, the Sustainer of all things by His powerful word (see Genesis 1:3 and Hebrews 1:3), and the “appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he [God the Father] made the universe (again Genesis 1:3-26).” If we want to know what God is like, we look no further than Jesus Christ. ““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)

Yet, Jesus showed us His great love for us in that while we were still sinners, He died for us (Romans 5:8). “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1). This is the Good News of the Gospel!

Abba, thank You for coming and taking on the curse of death for us. Only You could be raised from the dead, thus breaking the curse forevermore! You are the firstfruits of many brothers and sisters (Romans 8:29), of which I am one. Amen.

Proverbs 9 8-9-22

Without the flow of oxygen to our brains, we would pass out in 10 seconds, and die in 5 minutes. Enter: The Heart!

3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart…the Hebrew word for “heart” means with every fiber in our being, with all we have.

Our hearts begin beating about the fifth week after conception. It will beat more than 2.5 billion times for the average lifespan of 79 years (for Americans).

Our hearts are actually double pumps in that they pump blood to the lungs for oxygen and then to the body for the distribution of that oxygen. When a baby is in the mother’s womb, his “heart starts out as a simple, large tube. As the baby grows, however, the Creator designed the tube so that it loops back, forming a kink. The sides fuse together, forming a wall between two separate compartments. As the rest of the heart forms, the two sides remain separate, essentially becoming two pumps.” During gestation, there is a hole (the foramen ovale) between the chambers that allows the flow of blood to bypass the lungs (the baby gets oxygen through the umbilical cord). “At birth, a marvelous transformation takes place. When the lungs inflate and the baby takes his first breath, the pressure in the heart shifts, forcing a flap over the foramen ovale to close the hole. The body also produces chemicals that cause the bypass artery to close.
By marvelous design, the baby emerges from its watery home and breathes the air without a glitch. Blood begins pumping to the lungs to absorb oxygen without a moment’s delay.”
Taken from, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body,” pages 44-46

How does the heart keep from wearing out, sliding around inside the ribcage or overheating? We will cover these questions tomorrow.

Abba, You are amazing. When we say that we love You with all our heart, we really are saying that we love You like our hearts work: Continuously and with all we have. May we take seriously what it means to love You with all our heart, serving You faithfully even as our hearts do us. We depend upon You, O Lord, even as we depend upon our hearts for the very oxygen we breathe. You ARE our oxygen, Lord Jesus. You are LIFE. Amen.

Oxygen by Avalon

Proverbs 9 7-9-22

The Good News of Jesus Christ is that in Him, our sins are forgiven. He took care of them 2,000 years ago!

11 Through Me [Christ] your days will be many, and years will be added to your life [extended into eternity]. 12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker [and refuse to listen], you alone will suffer [the consequences].

One of the most liberating passages I know is 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. Christ died for everyone! Let’s read it:

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

The phrase, “once for all” referring to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is used in Romans 6:10, Hebrews 7:27, Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 9:26 (my favorite), Hebrews 10:2, and Hebrews 10:10. Jesus did away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:26). It’s now a matter of people trusting Jesus enough to allow the Holy Spirit to enter them, cleanse them, and begin the work of sanctification in them (making them to be like Jesus in righteousness and holiness; see Ephesians 4:24).

Want more proof? Here’s 2 Corinthians 5:18,

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:

The whole point of Jesus bearing our sins on the cross was to bury them in death–and leave them there! Let’s look:

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18

24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

Just as Jesus died with our sins and then rose again without our sins, we, too, can “die” to sins and live for His righteousness. Our sins are forgiven, buried, forgotten. From now on, it’s a matter of turning to Him for life, fellowship, instruction and training, all for the new kingdom that He is in the process of building right now! Following Christ is not about the hereafter, but the here and now! The hereafter will take care of itself as we walk in step with the Spirit of Christ. Let’s do it!

Abba, I am so excited to have such good news to share with my neighbors! May You orchestrate an opportunity for me to share it with them. Amen.

Proverbs 9 6-9-22

God is up to something much bigger in the world than we know. He is in the process of saving it!

24:11 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

As we continue our study of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, let’s read the passage again:

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

These verses represent our attitude while in this world.

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.

These verses remind us to check with the Holy Spirit concerning all teaching regardless of who it is, but to accept all prophecy/teaching that is compatible with the teachings of Christ Jesus.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

  • May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through- It is God who keeps us concerning our salvation. Christ died for all so that we all died to death through Him. God reconciled the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them (2 Corinthians 5:19). God Himself is our peace, and it is He who is transforming us into the image of Christ with ever-increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). We are receiving a complete make-over spiritually.
  • May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ- This verse is a sure thing based upon Jude 24, “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—” Verse 25 tells us who “him” is in verse 24, “to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” It is God who keeps us blameless. Christ gave Himself up for His Bride, the Church, “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with the water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:26-27).
  • The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it- We have this promise in Philippians 1:6, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

These verses are about what God is doing in us. Jesus Christ is adding to His Church daily. His Bride is being washed. The water is the Word of God, which we have established as Jesus Himself. Could it be that Christ regards all of humanity as His Bride and is in the process of cleansing her through His Spirit and the word of our testimony? It would mean that salvation is much bigger than we think! Does everyone accept His offer of matrimony? No, but to those who do, He gives the right to become children of God (John 1:12). That’s a mighty big plan, but He’s a mighty big God, isn’t He?

Abba, may Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 9 5-9-22

Unity in Christ is what Jesus asked the Father for us. What are we willing to do to make it happen?

16:2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.

I heard it said, “What unites us ultimately divides us.” I take this statement to mean that whatever we hold near and dear to our hearts will be for what we fight and die. It also means to me that we need to be really careful about that which we unite, especially concerning Jesus Christ. Jesus prayed for unity (John 17:23); we need to determine what is absolute truth and what is interpretation. Preferences don’t count, and even convictions can be erroneous; they can be like drawing lines in the sand. The following picture gives us an idea of how to categorize our beliefs:

Let’s take them from the bullseye out.

  1. Jesus- The Person, Jesus Christ, is our foundation. A personal, ongoing relationship with Him is not only necessary, it’s vital.
  2. Dogma- The facts: Jesus left heaven to come to earth to reveal the Father to us; He lived, died on a cross, and rose from the dead three days later; He appeared to many, and then ascended back to His rightful throne with the Father; He promised that He would return one day, for which we patiently wait (for example, the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds).
  3. Doctrine- What we believe the Bible says about anything else: Heaven, hell, grace, works, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper are starters. Even our views on the Trinity are our efforts to describe that which is beyond words and human perception. Important, yes; vital, no. Paul said, “All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained” (Philippians 3:15-16).
  4. Opinion- Our personal feelings, ideas, and concepts concerning all things biblical. Opinion goes beyond the text, which is what puts it in the last circle.

We tend to run with people who think like we do, which is not bad as long as we don’t hold ourselves aloof from other Christian brothers and sisters based upon anything except Jesus and Him crucified (Jesus Christ and Dogma; see 1 Corinthians 2:2). The big questions, those on which we all can unite, are,

“Do they believe that Jesus is Lord?
Do they love Him?

Do they follow Him?”

Abba, reading and listening to people who are Your followers and yet hold different views on doctrine has taught me that I don’t have everything “sewn up theologically”-in fact, can’t. There is so much of church history, what has been believed by church leaders in the past, and on what my own denomination’s beliefs are based that I never knew. In some ways, I feel like I’m beginning my education over–at 61! Rather than be frustrated, I choose to be excited about learning more about You, Lord, and those who have followed You. It’s something like reading a continued version of Hebrews 11, the hall of faith. Grow us, Lord, and make us one in You. It’s important; otherwise, You wouldn’t have prayed for it. Amen.

Proverbs 9 4-9-22

Which is better, memorizing or knowing? Aren’t they the same? Not necessarily…

1 Wisdom has built her house [preparation]; she has set up its seven pillars [done the leg work]. 2 She has prepared her meat [gathered her sources] and mixed her wine; she has also set her table [laid everything out in a proper order].

There is an old joke that a person took his Bible and opened it to a random page; he closed his eyes and pointed at a random verse, “Judas hanged himself;” He then closed his Bible, opened it again and repeated the process. This time, the verse was, “Go thou and do likewise.” If the person in the joke were to put these verses together and use them to advocate suicide, then the person would be proof texting. What is proof texting?

Proof texting is the method by which a person appeals to a biblical text to prove or justify a theological position without regard for the context of the passage they are citing. 

Proof texting is my taskmaster when reading Scripture because it forces me to know context as well as content. “As the saying goes, ‘a text without a context is a pretext for a proof text.'” Let’s look at John 3:16 as an example since most people are familiar with it–you may even be able to quote it.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. KJV

The first hurdle we come to is interpretation. John wrote his book in Aramaic, the language of commerce throughout the Roman Empire. It was translated into Latin sometime in the 4th Century and then into English in the 14th Century by John Wycliffe. The language, both Latin and English, has been updated, scrutinized, and re-interpreted many times up to today. There is also an ancient Greek version. For us, we will look at several interpretations from several versions:

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. NIV

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. NASB

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ESV

16 This, you see, is how much God loved the world: enough to give his only, special son, so that everyone who believes in him should not be lost but should share in the life of God’s new age. NTE

Reading different versions is much like the game we used to play in school where we tried to find the differences in two pictures that looked much alike. Understanding that each version is the interpretation of people who didn’t live in that time, we need an overall approach to whatever version we are reading so that we read it impartially (well, as impartially as we can) to keep us from proof texting. For me, that approach is to run everything through Jesus, both in the pages and at the throne. In other words, The Spirit will help me by explaining what He wants me to know and applying it to my life. It will never be a full revelation, but it will be what I need for today.

As I have grown in Christ, the Spirit has shown me these things about John 3:16:

  • He loves me so, so much;
  • He came as Jesus–God with skin on–to die for me, come to life again, and offer me that new life;
  • Believing in Him as my Messiah (Savior and Lord) means trusting Him with my life;
  • Eternal life is life with Him beyond my physical death, but it begins here on earth with Him and me together.

Tomorrow, we will look at context. Do you know the verses around John 3:16?

Abba, I can only trust man’s opinion so far, but I can trust You completely. Your Truth never changes; our perception of it does, though, according to when we live, how we live, and what we know. May You keep revealing truth to me as I study my Bible and listen for Your voice. Help it make sense, Lord. I can’t understand it without You. Amen.

Proverbs 9 3-9-22

Jesus draws us to others for a “divine appointment,” in which we tell them what Jesus has done for us. He will do the rest.

  1. Wisdom has built her house; she has carved out its seven pillars [the Spirit knows what He is doing].

Matthew 28:18-20 is called The Great Commission, in which we get our marching orders to make disciples across the globe. The problem is that it doesn’t tell us what to initially tell them. Let’s look at it:

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

There is an implication of shared authority as we go. Jesus says that He is in control now and He is sending us out as His ambassadors (Ephesians 1:9-10 and 2 Corinthians 5:20). We are to go and make disciples–but what do we say?! How do we get them to listen? For the answer to these questions, we must go back into Matthew to chapter ten when Jesus sent out His 12 disciples/apostles (“apostles” means “sent ones”). Let’s look at what Jesus told them:

As you go, declare publicly that the kingdom of heaven has arrived. 

  1. How are we to go? As we go about our daily lives.
  2. What are we to do? Declare.
  3. How are we to declare? Publicly.
  4. What are we to declare? That the kingdom of heaven has arrived.
  5. What is the kingdom of heaven? It’s not a “what,” but a “He.” It’s Jesus!

Jesus IS the kingdom of heaven. I love the hymn, Heaven Came Down, in which the refain says,

Heaven came down and glory filled my soul,
When at the cross, my Savior made me whole;
My sin were washed away, and my night was turned to day;
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul.

Jesus is God; wherever God is, that’s heaven. Jesus is in our hearts, therefore, heaven is in our hearts. Thus, the kingdom of heaven has arrived in us! This is the message that we are to proclaim:

  1. Jesus came from heaven to earth,
  2. Lived His life in complete obedience to His heavenly Father (something that no one else could do),
  3. Died in our place so that we could have eternal life, life that begins the moment that we turn to Him and acknowledge Him as our Lord and Savior, turning from our darkness to His marvelous light. In fact, Peter tells us, “But you are a chosen racea royal priesthooda holy nationa people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Did you catch it? Peter told us to tell people what Jesus did for us! It really is that simple. What has Christ done for you? To you? With you? Our testimony is our soapbox. Somebody out there needs to hear it.

Abba, may we ponder the questions, “What has Christ done for us? To us? With us?” and formulate a simple, straightforward testimony to tell people. Since it’s our story, there’s no way for a person to convince us otherwise or to contest it. After that, it’s up to You, Holy Spirit. We leave them in Your capable hands. Amen.

Proverbs 9 2-9-22

A metaphor is a concrete concept that helps explain a larger, abstract concept. Jesus loved them!

1 Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars [the structure of God’s Plan].

Let’s walk through a few chapters of the Gospel of John and listen to Jesus:

35 I am the bread of life,’ replied Jesus. ‘Anyone who comes to me will never be hungry! Anyone who believes in me will never be thirsty!’ John 6:35

53 ‘I’m telling you the solemn truth,’ Jesus replied. ‘If you don’t eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 Anyone who feasts upon my flesh and drinks my blood has the life of God’s coming age, and I will raise them up on the last day. John 6:53-54

37 On the last day of the festival, the great final celebration, Jesus stood up and shouted out, ‘If anybody’s thirsty, they should come to me and have a drink! 38 Anyone who believes in me will have rivers of living water flowing out of their heart, just like the Bible says!’ John 7:37-38

12 Jesus spoke to them again. ‘I am the light of the world,’ he said. ‘People who follow me won’t go around in the dark; they’ll have the light of life!’ John 8:12

So he spoke to them again. ‘I’m telling you the solemn truth,’ he said. ‘I am the gate of the sheep. John 10:7

11 I am the good shepherd,’ Jesus continued. ‘The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11

25 I am the resurrection and the life,’ replied Jesus. ‘Anyone who believes in me will live, even if they die. 26 And anyone who lives and believes in me will never, ever die. Do you believe this?’ John 11:25-26. This metaphor was prophecy, as well. Jesus became our Resurrection and brought us eternal life, life in the next age with Him in the kingdom of heaven.

There are more, but we will cover them another time. My point is this: Whatever we think we know about the Gospel, Christ’s Plan, and the Kingdom of Heaven, we must confess that all we really have conceptually are metaphors. Evidently, spiritual concepts are much larger than our human, finite brains can handle. Jesus hinted at this truth in John 3:12, “If I told you earthly things and you don’t believe, how will it be if I tell you heavenly things? Are you going to believe then?” BTW, Jesus had been speaking a metaphor to Nicodemus about being born again. Peter used the same metaphor in 1 Peter 1:23 and actually mixes two metaphors together, “You have been born again [#1-John 3:3], not from seed which decays but from seed [#2-John 12:24] which does not – through the living and abiding word of God.”

All of these metaphors give us an idea of who Christ is and what He means to us. He is:

  • Our bread of life
  • Our living water
  • Our light
  • Our Gate-keeper
  • Our Good Shepherd
  • Our Resurrection and Life

Let’s praise Him today for who He is to and for us. All that, and also the Fellowship of the Trinity!

Abba, I praise You for Jesus–You in the flesh. It boggles my brain that You, being untouchable by death, would become human so that You could die at the hands of sinful men, allowing Yourself to be killed rather than seeking retribution on them. By taking death to the grave, You conquered death and left sin and death there in the grave. WOW! Your Plan truly is beyond our wonderings! To You be glory and majesty and honor, O Lord. Hallelujah! Amen.

Proverbs 9 1-9-22

“Listen to Me.” That’s what Jesus says. We must run everything through the filters of what He has told us.

Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser,
Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.

Yesterday, we saw where Jesus was giving a whole new perspective on how to interpret the Scriptures. He was saying that from then on, people were to read the Scriptures through the filters He would show them about His Father. There is one more passage that clearly indicates this truth. It is Luke 9:28-36,

The Transfiguration

28 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. 30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, 31 who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. 33 And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not realizing what he was saying. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen.

This story wasn’t a parable, but an account. It really happened. There are several things to note in this passage:

  • One is the recognizability of Moses and Elijah. Peter had no trouble discerning who they were. We are given a window into what the kingdom of heaven is like!
  • When Peter offered to make three tabernacles (tents), one for each of them, he was putting them all on the same level of authority. He naturally assumed that Jesus would be working within the bounds of the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). WRONG! Jesus came to fulfill it and to finish them. Their work was done, which was to show people that there is nothing they could do to save themselves and to point to His Coming. Jesus came to save the world.
  • The cloud is God the Spirit. It’s the same cloud that covered Mount Sinai, led the Israelites in the desert, and filled Solomon’s temple.
  • There are three times that God spoke audibly concerning His Son, Jesus: Matthew 3:17 (the Spirit came down in the form of a dove), Luke 9:35 (the Spirit came down in a cloud), and John 12:28 (God’s voice sounded like thunder). God said, “Listen to My Son.”
  • When the cloud lifted, only Jesus was standing there, thus indicating that He is the One to whom they were to listen from then on. The authority baton was passed.
  • Jesus had already made it evident that the New Covenant was coming. In Luke 5:33-35, He changed the rules about fasting and praying by calling Himself the bridegroom and His disciples His attendants. He then went on to compare the Old Covenant to old cloth and old wine skins and the New Covenant to new cloth and new wine skins (Luke 5:36-39), which was a warning against trying to mix the two covenants. Jesus was bringing in the New Covenant, the covenant of His blood (Luke 22:20).

To recap, there are three major clues for us to discover that Jesus is Lord of the word (to use His own phraseology, i.e. Lord of the Sabbath-Luke 6:5). These clues are: “But I say…” “The seed is the word of God (Me).” “This is My Son. Listen to Him.” Subsequently, we are to now view Scripture through the lens of Jesus. You may be asking, “Exactly what in the Old Testament did Jesus change?” For that answer, go to Matthew 5 and/or Luke 6 and see what Jesus changed. There are other things, as well, like the tradition of fasting and praying, and the way Sabbaths were viewed, for examples. He was also big on seeing God as the loving heavenly Father and not an angry punisher (that’s a big one!).

God is our loving and merciful Father; Jesus is our gracious and truthful Savior. We can confidently give our lives to them. They are trustworthy and true. They love us!

Abba, thank You for loving me! I trust You implicitly. I may not get everything right, but I trust You to help me make things right and to set my sights on next time. You are a patient and kind Teacher and Companion. I love walking with You. Amen.

Proverbs 9 12-9-21

Where is your darkness? We all have it. It’s where our fears, temptations, addictions, and secret thoughts lie.

17 “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” 18 But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.

Revelation. That’s what Jesus was all about. Still is. Jesus came to reveal LIGHT to us. His light. John 3:20-21 describes the world’s present situation,

20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

The way I see it, we have two things wrong with us. One is that we have scales over our spiritual eyes so that we cannot see truth plainly. It’s the reason why Satan has such success with us. The other thing is that we do not face the light; whether we cannot see it or do not want to see it doesn’t matter. We’re all turned away from it. The light is Jesus. We learn this revelation from John at the beginning of his Gospel,

In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankindThe light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome [comprehend, conquer] it. John 1:4-5

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. John 1:9

So, the way I see it, we need to turn and face the Father/Son/Spirit. In fact, the first verse of John literally reads, “In the beginning the Word was face-to-face with God.” This kind of relationship is what Jesus came to restore for us! Ephesians 3,

Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence

Literal- Paul is talking to the Ephesians, who are mostly Gentiles, about what Christ came to do. These boundless riches have to do with our relationship with the Father, through Jesus, by the Spirit. The administration of this mystery is what Paul is doing: He is sharing it! He is making it known; he is revealing it. We, the church, have been made ambassadors of this great news (2 Corinthians 5:20). This eternal purpose was accomplished in Christ Jesus on the cross, through the grave, and by the ascension. We now have complete access to God our Father!

Moral- We tend to think in future terms when we think about heaven. But, consider this: If heaven is where God and Jesus are, and they are in our hearts/lives/minds (John 14:23), then (the kingdom of) heaven is with us and in us now. Conversely, those who refuse, or do not know to turn, to the light of the good news of this relationship continue to live in darkness, which winds up being a horrible state of loneliness, guilt, shame, hopelessness, etc. Sounds like hell, doesn’t it?

Spiritual- Our darkness is what we imagine when we turn away from the light, the face of Christ. Satan whispers lies and deceptions and our imaginations take off. I talked to a guy yesterday who said that he lives with the feeling that he is getting what he deserves–Not So! Jesus came and declared through the cross amnesty for the entire world! The debt of all sin is canceled! Erased! Expunged! Removed, like a stain from a shirt. From now on, we are to share the love of Jesus and His marvelous invitation to join Him in the Fellowship of the Trinity. In the words of the writer of Hebrews,

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest [speaking to Jews] who has ascended into heaven [and rejoined the Father and the Spirit], Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest [according to the Jewish system] who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

The best news ever is that we do not have to stay in darkness. We look at Jesus. He will shine His light on us and in us. He will make quick work of the shadows of lies and deceit about our unworthiness and any price that we think we must pay for redemption–it’s already been paid!

Let’s be face-to-face with Jesus today. Being included in the Fellowship of the Trinity will keep us stoked all day!

Abba, thank You for Your wonderful plan to get us back. You bound the strong man and took us as plunder. Now, O Lord, we can’t help but wonder at the love You have poured out on us. Keep opening our minds, Father. We want to be face-to-face with You today. Amen.

Proverbs 9 11-9-21

Slaves to sin or slaves to Christ? Sin=deception, bondage, and death. Christ=life, liberty, and acceptance. It’s a no-brainer.

12 If you are wise, your wisdom [choice] will reward you; if you are a mocker [and reject Christ], you alone will suffer [the consequences].

To be free from the law means that we have no other law than Christ Himself. So, we can forget any rules and, instead, focus on what Jesus is saying to us. He is quite capable of keeping us from straying. Here are three versions of Romans 7:4,

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you also were put to death in regard to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. NASB

In the same way, brothers and sisters, you have died to the laws in Moses’ Teachings through Christ’s body. You belong to someone else, the one who was brought back to life. NOG (Names of God)

There is, I think, a fair analogy here. The death of Christ on the cross had made you “dead” to the claims of the Law, and you are free to give yourselves in marriage, so to speak, to another, the one who was raised from the dead, that you may be productive for God. J.B. Phillips

We are married now to Christ and nothing else. I used to wonder how the first century Christians operated without any type of New Testament Scripture. Well, I don’t wonder anymore. Once they tasted the love of Jesus, they gladly took His yoke upon themselves. In fact, they considered themselves slaves to Christ!

29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29

Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Colossians 6:6

16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 1 Peter 2:16

Rather than seeing our salvation as a one-time event of having our sins forgiven and being given a ticket to heaven, let’s see it as:

  1. The beginning of a conversation with the heavenly Father about His Son.
  2. The sprouting of the Spirit of Christ in us (He is the kingdom of heaven-Luke 17:21).
  3. The awakening of our souls from the sleep of death to walk in the light of His love.
  4. The event of being born again as a child of God.

All four analogies are taken from the Scriptures. Each serves to show that our salvation is the BEGINNING of a relationship. The concept of a transaction leaves so much to be desired, but is still a valid description. Our relationship with Jesus is personal, intimate, and continuous. With Him leading us–and with us following closely–we cannot wander very far from the trail.

What I’m trying to say is that Jesus IS our Bible. We allow the Scriptures to lead us to Him. If we read the Scriptures without consulting Him for interpretation and enlightenment, then we have missed the entire point of the Scriptures! Even then, we must make allowance for ourselves for an incomplete understanding of said Scriptures because we all have filters by which we read the Scriptures; the times we live, the people we live with, and our experiences are three of them. There’s always more to learn.

In the words of Nathan Hamm, a fellow Christian,

“Read the Bible. Follow Jesus.”

Abba, this mantra is how I want to live my life. I want to know You more through study and through experience. I really am willing to give up everything to know You better. Paul said that he considered everything in his world as garbage in comparison to knowing You and your righteousness. I agree. May I know You in the power of Your resurrection, the participation of Your sufferings, and finally, the realization of rising from the dead. You are my Counselor, my Guide, and my King. I will follow You. Amen.

Proverbs 9 10-9-21

On this day, a certain number of years ago, Robin and I were on our way to the hospital…

9 Instruct a wise person and she will be wiser still; teach a righteous woman and she will add to her learning.

Today is Hillary’s birthday! We are so proud of her.

This week, Robin and I got to attend a Double Honor Minister’s Retreat in Red River, New Mexico. We met with three other couples and the host couple:

  • Two pastors and their wives,
  • a Director of Missions who started out as a music minister, then pastor, then missionary, and now a DOM, and his wife,
  • and the host couple, Andy and Becky Dietz, with whom I was on staff at FBC, Borger, TX, many moons ago.

We had a great time together strengthening each other in the Lord and learning about each other’s ministry, encouraging each other and praying for each other. One of the most fun things we did was talk about our families. Since Andy and Becky knew my girls, it was fun telling them about how they follow the Lord and sing/play with me at church on the Praise Team and in choir. We told them how proud we were of Hillary:

  • Her flute-playing ability and the two orchestras of which she is a part,
  • Her participation in the Singing Churchwomen of Oklahoma,
  • Her position in administration at EPIC schools,
  • The fact that she is nearly done with her doctorate in (some kind of degree concerning) Education,
  • and her two cats, plus one outside cat of which she takes care (she was left by a neighbor who moved).

Andy and Becky rejoiced with us in the girls’ close walk with the Lord. We were reminded of the verse,

Train up a child in the way that she should go, and when she is old she will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

Hillary, you make your mom and dad very proud of you and very humbled at the same time. May God continue to bless you as you seek Him.

Abba, thank You for such wonderful children. Hillary and Hayley have been a great blessing to us–as well as good friends. May You bless both of them, and particularly Hillary today on her birthday. Amen.

Proverbs 9 9-9-21

Seven pillars: Wisdom, knowledge, instruction, understanding, insight, prudence, and discretion. These don’t come naturally.

1 Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars.

We don’t come by wisdom naturally. It is offered to us by the Holy Spirit. Here’s what the Spirit said in chapter 1, “Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you and make my heart and teachings known to you.” Wisdom requires that we turn to the Lord and ask for it,

indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:3-5

How do we get wisdom? God gives it to us, “For the LORD gives wisdom; out of His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (v.6). It’s not something that comes naturally to us because we naturally want to do things in our own power and according to our own intellect. That’s the problem with mankind: We don’t want the Lord’s help; we want to do it ourselves. One of our Proverbs members sent me this yesterday:

I choose whether I will trust the flesh or I will trust the Spirit.

Romans 8:6
New American Standard Bible
For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,

Good News Translation
To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace.

I have just recently been appreciating what it means to have the mind set on the flesh. “Sarkos” is the Greek word for flesh and it is not just bad or negative thoughts, intentions, or actions. Even my good intentions or striving in myself to do good can be in my flesh. Any natural ability or function apart from God or trusting in ourselves or our abilities could also be considered setting our mind on the flesh. It happens almost automatically unless we make a decision to continuously turn to and rely on the Holy Spirit within us as grace to live and abide in Him receiving our life supply through His life and power within us. There’s no need to get discouraged or upset when we realize we are off, just turn to Him and reset and go on with our minds set on the Spirit. Praise the Lord for His life in us and as sons of God, we are led by the Spirit of God. We can choose to set our mind on the Spirit today.

It’s not a matter of God “catching us” functioning in the flesh, but of Him helping us break the habit. It’s a lifelong fight that doesn’t end until we leave these bodies. It is at that time that we strip off the corruptible and put on the incorruptible; we remove the mortal and put on immortality, and “death [which is embedded in these bodies] is swallowed up by life.” We find these promises taught in 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 and 1 Corinthians 15:35-54.

If we truly want to think like God, then we need the mind of Christ. The only way to get it is to give our minds over to Him and allow Him to guide our thoughts, which guide our actions, which are determined by our obedience. It really is simple: Jesus comes to us each day saying, “Do you trust me?” We answer, “Yes, Lord!” And then we follow Him.

Trust and obey for there’s no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey

Abba, it really does come down to us trusting You in everything. I categorically give myself over to You. Now, help me with the specifics. Work in me and through me, Lord. I am Yours; do with me as You will. Amen.

Proverbs 9 8-9-21

“Christians are deluded.” I’ve heard it before. In their eyes, we are just deceiving ourselves. In that case…

4 To those who have no sense she [wisdom] says, “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. 6 Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.”

8 Do not rebuke mockers [those who make fun or get angry at you because of what you believe] or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.

12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.

18 But little do they know that the dead are there [that death awaits], that her guests are [go] deep in the realm of the dead.

Someone who makes such a statement has not thought through his argument. These are the questions I would like to ask:

  • So, in my delusion, I strive to become like a dead man and live as He taught?
  • I get together with other deluded people for fellowship and to worship a dead man?
  • I would give my life in service for this dead man and His promises?
  • What about all the Olympic athletes who give glory to God: are they all part of a collective delusion? Let’s look at five.
  1. Allyson Felix
  2. Sydney McLaughlin
  3. Tamyra Mensah
  4. Keni Harrison
  5. Tatjana Schoenmaker

And these are just a sample of the testimonies!

  • Where are all the other symptoms of delusion, such as antisocial behavior, hallucinations, and persecutory paranoia?
  • And the best question: Why would I love you and want the best for your life?

When it all boils away, what we have left is a person who needs Jesus. We, as Christians, are to display Jesus. We don’t judge, condemn, point out sins and faults, shun, or hold contempt for people who don’t have Jesus. Instead, we are to be Christ to them even when they don’t want us to. So we get harassed; so we get beat up; so they kill us. Let’s not forget the apostle Paul’s words:

24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:20-21

May we all have that kind of faith.

Abba, being ridiculed hurts, but it’s even more frustrating that I can’t get through to them. I want them to experience You as I have and to feel the love, the joy, the peace; I want them to know You as I know You–even better! They are missing so much even as they turn away from so great a salvation. Move in their hearts, O God. Call them to Yourself, and may they answer, “Yes, Lord, Yes!” Amen.

Proverbs 9 7-9-21

Something is precious to you when it costs you something. God’s love cost Him His Son, Jesus. What has your salvation cost you?

8 Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. 9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

Some of the guys and I were sitting around talking this morning and the subject of the Good Samaritan came up. To refresh your memory, here it is (for the full version, see Luke 10:25-37):

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

We came up with three distinctive characteristics for being a good Samaritan. They are:

  1. Inconvenient– Most times, when we see a need, we are on our way to do something. We have schedules, obligations, and appointments. Rarely are we standing around when something happens that calls for us to assist. The sacrifice of our time is the first place a person is called to give if one wants to be like Christ, as the good Samaritan was.
  2. Socially unacceptable– Samaritans and Jews were nationally bigoted toward each other. The Jews particularly held the Samaritans in contempt because of their mixed blood. Often we are called to step across racial lines, economic lines, gender lines, and even religious lines in order to answer the voice of the Holy Spirit. It is the second sacrifice we must be ready to make. In fact, we really need to prepare ourselves ahead of time so that we know how to respond appropriately in order not to offend. If we want to be like Christ, we will have to look beyond these differences.
  3. Expensive– Whatever we think it will cost, count on it being more. “In for a penny, in for a pound,” is an English phrase meaning that once we are committed to a task, we must finish it regardless of the cost. In the case of the good Samaritan, notice that he had already spent oil and wine as well as two denarii (two day’s wages) on the man. He then told the innkeeper that he would cover any extra costs that came up. Like I said, expensive. We know that our income is from the Lord and that He can have us spend it any way He choses. Let’s keep this fact in mind when we go to help and not be stingy. Remember, “Whatever a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Let’s set our hearts to be kind and generous.

When doing good costs us something, it is Christianity at its best. Christ is displayed through us. Also, sometimes we get the opportunity to share the Gospel. People are much more inclined to listen (even politely) when we are helping them. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Let’s be about the Father’s business, shall we?

Abba, You are so good to include us in Your business. Thank You for giving us opportunities to be Your hands and feet, and then Your voice to people in need. It’s worth every minute, every socially awkward moment, and every penny. What do You have for us tomorrow? We’ll be ready (this time). Amen.

Proverbs 9 6-9-21

How can a person tell if he is a Christian, which is a follower of Jesus Christ, His Spirit, and His teachings? #2

16 To those who have no sense [to keep their desires under control] she says, “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” 17 But little do they know that the [spiritually] dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm in the [already spiritually] dead.

How can we tell who the people of God are? Let’s look at it from an individual perspective. Yesterday, we looked at meeting Jesus. Today, we look at our desires.

2. Once you met Jesus and received the Holy Spirit, your desires began to change: The Spirit begins to grow spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) in your life.

  • You desire the love, joy and peace that come from being in fellowship with Jesus;
  • You begin to sense the nudges and the restraining pull of the Spirit as you walk through the day helping you become patient, kind, and good;
  • You realize over time that God is conforming you more and more into the likeness of His Son as you become faithful in walking with Him, gentle in spirit with everyone, and having self-control in all areas of your life.

I’m not saying that your old desires won’t rear their ugly heads, because they will. But, the Spirit in us causes us to realize that when we lean toward those old desires, there is a tension between us and Him. It’s like a wheel that gets out of balance, or a string on a piano (each key has two or three strings) gets out of tune with the others. We crave harmony, so we begin to adjust our desires to match His desires. In fact, if we make our desire to make His desires our desires, then we know that He will make it so. Psalm 37:4 says, “Commit your way to the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Committing your way to Him is making His desires your desires.

This process is called, “sanctification.” It’s a churchy term that means that we are being remade into the image of His Son, Jesus. It’s His process and His doing; we simply do as we are led by the Spirit. We “pay attention to the tension” and get rid of it so that we can make beautiful music together with the Spirit!

How can we have victory over our sinful desires? We don’t have to! Christ already has. In fact, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have [through Him] nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there” Galatians 5:24. We already have the victory in Christ Jesus! The next verse tells us how to live,

25 If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit as He leads us in every part of our lives.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Abba, please plant deep within us the experiential knowledge that we have been crucified with Christ. We can die to our passions and sinful nature and live for You because Your Spirit empowers us to do just that! It’s hard, but it’s worth it. Just experiencing Your love, joy, peace, hope and grace when we are in tune with You and walking in step with You makes it all worthwhile. Thank You, Abba. You’re awesome. Amen.

Proverbs 9 5-9-21

Today is a special day that we set aside to honor our moms and other special women in our lives.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
31:10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than precious gems.
31:28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her…

Yesterday, we got out a DVD that we recently had made from some old VCR tapes. On the DVD was the birth of Robin’s and my oldest daughter, Hillary. In the video were three ladies who have been instrumental in my becoming who I am today.

The first one is Vera Proffer, my grandmother on my mother’s side. Vera and her husband, Grady, helped raise me in Durant, took me fishing, taught me to love pimento cheese sandwiches and bottled coke (I was famished after a fishing trip), fed me hamburgers on my way to work twice a week in college, and to follow the Lord. Happy (grand) Mother’s Day, Granny.

The second one is my mother, Dorothy Anderson. She and my dad, Andy, raised me to love the Lord, follow my dreams, and to put everything I had into whatever I pursued. Mom was the one who instructed me in how to ask Jesus into my heart and life. In the loving environment of our home, I was a double all-state-er (band and track) my senior year, sang in a singing group with my brother for seven years, and have served in the ministry vocationally for 36 years. Mom always believed in me. When they came to live with us from 2011-2017, I got to watch all over again how I had learned to love my wife in the way Mom and Dad loved each other. Dad had a stroke and died in January of 2017, and Mom battled Chronic Hepatitis C for 41 years and died two months after Dad. I was truly blessed to have them with me those last few years. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

The third one is my wife, Robin. There’s a saying, “All wise men marry up.” I sure did! God put us together because He knew I needed help!!! Through the years, Robin has helped me stay true to my calling, raise two beautiful daughters and now three (and soon to be four) wonderful grandchildren, and grow in my walk with the Lord. She challenges me on every subject to make sure that I am biblically based, helps me musically to be all I can be, makes me aware of situations and people about which I need to know (and am oblivious to), and loves me with an everlasting love. I honor her today. Happy Mother’s Day, Robin.

Today, we go to visit Robin’s mom, Janet, and honor her. She turned 87 last week. Her husband, Herb, takes care of her (he’s 90). Janet is one of the instrumental people in Robin’s life.

I pray that today you will honor the women who have been instrumental in you becoming who you are and who have helped you to walk with Jesus. Mom, step-mom, grandmother, aunt–it doesn’t matter the relation, only the relationship.

Abba, thank You for giving me such a special mom. I know she awaits my arrival. Seeing her in the video sure tugs on my heart. I look forward to the day when we will all be together again with You. Whether here or there doesn’t matter to me. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 9 4-9-21

Want to be blessed with God’s kindness and grace? His wisdom and understanding? Believe in Jesus whom He has sent.

13 Folly…14 sits at the door of her house…15 calling out to those who pass by…16 “Let all who are simple [naïve, prone toward evil] come to my house!”

The best I can tell from Scripture, Adam and Eve were perfect before God until they disobeyed. Their disobedience was rebellion; it was sin. That sin broke their fellowship with God–but it didn’t change God’s love for them. He had set up ahead of time the means to get them back into right relationship with Himself through the cross. Read it:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.  Ephesians 1:3-5

Redeeming us through the cross was God’s plan all along. It’s always been Plan A; there’s never been a Plan B. What did God do with sin? For the answer to that question, we go to Romans 5:12,

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned–

So, sin entered the world through Adam. We get that. Death comes to us all because of sin. We get that, too. It seems unreasonable–until we look at the next part that is found in Romans 5:18-19,

18 Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone19 Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.

God allowed sin to kill everyone who came after Adam, who was our representative, so that Jesus could redeem everyone at one time as our Representative. God even put off the judgement of everyone’s sin until that sin could go to the cross,

25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. Romans 3:25-26

Jesus told us that the only work required to be made righteous and put in right standing with the Father was “to believe in the one He has sent.” John 6:29. That person, of course, was Jesus. We believe Jesus when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6. He told Martha at Lazarus’ death, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” John 11:25-26. Then He asked her a poignant question, “Do you believe Me?” He asks us the same question every time we have a decision to make. We prove our faith each time we choose to believe Him and act according to our faith rather than according to our own reasoning. Paul put it like this, we “do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:4.

What is our response to so great a salvation? WE PRAISE GOD!

So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. Ephesians 1:6-8

Right now, give thanks to the Lord for His wonderful gift of grace through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Abba, I thank You and praise You for the wonderful gift of grace You have lavished on us through Jesus. You are so rich in kindness and grace; You have showered Your kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives (Colossians 1:9). Your Spirit who lives in us bears witness with our spirit that we are Your children, adopted into Your family (Romans 8:16-17), and co-heirs with Jesus Himself! WOW! You are amazing, Abba! May Your praise continue forever and be continually on my lips. Amen.

Proverbs 9 3-9-21

Thinking that we can live our lives our way and then make things right with God near the end is inviting disaster.

12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.

We continue looking at the book of Matthew from a Jewish perspective. Jesus was dealing with unforgiveness and breach of fellowship among the family; He then turned the conversation from horizontal to vertical.

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” Matthew 5:25-26

The statement assumes the guilt of the person with the adversary. Jesus is referring to Himself as the adversary and the Jewish people, particularly the Jewish leaders, as the guilty person. There will come a time when it will be too late to repent. We know that the time to which He is referring is the destruction of Jerusalem (and much of Israel) in 70 A.D.

Let’s talk about judgement. First of all, we will see it spelled two ways, “Judgment” and “Judgement.” There is no difference in meaning, so we won’t worry about it. Secondly, we tend to think of a judge or a ruler who decides to pass judgement upon people, many times randomly or capriciously. This is not the case with the heavenly Father. “Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar” Romans 3:4. God always judges rightly. But there is more to it than just passing reasonable judgement. Thirdly, God’s judgement is both passive and active. It is passive in that He decided (passed judgement) in Genesis 2:17 that He would let mankind suffer the consequences of their own sin based upon their own decisions.

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die [spiritually and later physically].”

It is not God’s nature to mete out wrath. He is a good and gracious God. His desire is that all mankind come to repentance and faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:9). Even so, there is an active side to His judgement. He uses natural occurrences and people to carry out judgement. He used the Assyrians and the Babylonians as His tools to judge Israel. From a human aspect, if God had not told us that He was doing it, we would have assumed that everything occurred naturally. Concerning Israel and the Assyrians, Israel called upon the Assyrians to help them in a battle. The Assyrians got a taste for the good things in Israel and soon came to invade Israel and take all the plunder. Israel did not repent, and the Assyrians came back and carried everyone off as slaves. Likewise, Hezekiah, king of Judah, showed the Babylonian emissaries his treasuries; eventually, they came and took everything he had shown them (it took several generations, but it happened just as Isaiah said it would in 2 Kings 20:15-18). I believe much of Revelation is like this natural judgement.

The religious rulers of Jesus’ day did not receive His warning and admonition. Instead, the conspired to kill Him. Even after His resurrection, they refused to believe, and persecuted the Church. Their subsequent rebellion against Rome cost them their temple, city, and homeland. Temple sacrifice was eliminated. Why? Because the final Sacrifice had been made when the Lamb of God was slain on the cross. From then on, all true Jews call on the name of Jesus for salvation. Paul said it best:

29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God. Romans 2:29

14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. Galatians 6:14-15

Abba, I, too, want to boast in nothing except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the world be crucified to me, and I to the world, daily. Make me new every day, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 9 2-9-21

Discipleship is a decision to become a Christ-follower. He has extended an invitation to follow Him. Shall we take it?

4 “Let all who are simple [unlearned, undisciplined, and prone toward ungodly habits and tendencies] come to my house!” –Wisdom [God’s perspective]
9 Instruct the wise [those who want to learn] and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous [made so by Christ] and they will add to their learning.

Young Christians: Are you being discipled by anyone? If not, why not?
Mature Christians: Are we discipling anyone? If not, why not?

  1. A failure on the leader’s part: “There is no one to lead us.”
  2. A failure on the follower’s part: An unwillingness to be discipled.
  3. It could be a mixture of the two.

Today, we will discuss the part of the young Christian.

A disciple of Christ is willing to put himself/herself under the tutelage of a mature Christian for learning. It can be a prescribed period of time. The early church leaders called this relationship, The Catecumenate-“Hearing the Word” (from The Patient Ferment of the Early Church, page 152). Instruction was called, “catechesis,” and the candidate was called a “catechumen.” The sponsor (mature Christian) and the catechumen had a master-apprentice relationship and could last for up to three years. At some point, the sponsor would present the catechumen to the church leaders for evaluation. “The sponsor has to affirm that the candidate has changed: not only the candidate’s thinking (that was the easy part), but also the candidate’s behavior, character, and reflexes–in short, the candidate’s habitus.” “It wasn’t the candidate who answered these questions; it was their sponsor, their accompanying advocate.” pg. 153.

I wonder what would happen if we all had to go through such a rigorous process in order to join our particular group of Christians: How would a “sponsor” describe us? Would our “habitus” be different enough from the world for us to be considered for membership? Have our thinking, behavior, character and reflexes (what happens to us when we are surprised or caught off-guard) been transformed by the Spirit of Christ? According to history, candidates didn’t get to worship with the church, but only with other candidates. Neither did they get to be baptized or partake in the Lord’s Supper until they were considered for membership. They really wanted to be part of the Christian church! Why? Because Christ lived in their hearts and their sole desire was to be like Him, so all the teaching and the rigorous training were exactly what they wanted.

How about us? Is being just like Jesus exactly what we want? Are we willing to go through such training and teaching to learn Christ? This is the question of the ages and the question for the current church–for us.

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” — Paul the Apostle (Acts 20:24)

Abba, I realize that in some ways I have an advantage over most folks in that I am encouraged to study and learn in order to help lead the church. At the same time, You know that I answer every day the same question that everyone answers: “Will you follow Me?” Thank You, Lord Jesus, for giving me the privilege to be Your disciple. May I lead others to the same decision; may they find the love, joy, peace, hope, grace and truth that has sustained me and calls me homeward. I, too, count my life worth nothing to me except to complete the task You have given me. Use me up, Lord; I am Yours to do with as You see fit. Amen.

Proverbs 9 1-9-21

Whatever we fear keeps us from experiencing God and all that He is. We must lift our focus from that fear to Him.

10 The fear [recognition of who He is; loving Him above all else] of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and [experiential] knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” John 8:32. It is interesting that just before this statement–and part of it–is this, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” I would like to meld two concepts together. One is hating all else except the Father and the other is whatever we bind on earth is bound in heaven.

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26

In the Matthew account, Jesus was talking about the fact that He didn’t come to bring overall peace to the world, but a sword as He gives individual peace. The gospel would divide family members, “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother…a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household” Matthew 34-36. It still does.

19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19

We can conject that the keys are faith and trust, belief and obedience. The melding of the two concepts is this: If anything or anyone comes before our belief, faith, trust and obedience to the Lord Jesus, then we are bound here on this earth; being bound to earth tethers us in a way that keeps us from experiencing all that Christ has for us. We must understand that being tethered to this earth is more than just a noose on our foot, “the cords of their sins hold them fast” Proverbs 5:22. Our tethers actually bind us like ropes; they chain us and weigh us down. Mark 4:19 gives us a list, “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things…”. Jesus gave the biggest obstacle for most people: Family. We must give up even our loved ones in order to follow Christ. Do we trust Him to know their future? Is He strong enough and wise enough to take care of them–regardless of what happens to them?

If we can let go of even these tethers, then we are loosed to experience the fullness of His love, joy and peace. Like Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

Freedom is found beyond the tethers of this world.

By focusing on Christ beyond the good and bad circumstances we are in or our family is in, we can become truly free to experience His peace and feel His joy, to love as He loves, and to give: We give patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to those around us. We give truth both in word and deed. We practice righteousness because we ARE righteous on the inside; we just need to work it to the outside.

What tethers you to this world? Do you truly believe that our heavenly Father will meet all our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19)? It’s a daily decision based upon daily practice.

Abba, what tethers me to this world? My love for Robin? No. We have made the pledge to each other to love You first. Our children? No. We gave them to You soon after they were born. Our grandchildren? No. They are Yours, too. Security? Health? Position? MUSIC? No. We consider them forfeited for Your sake. It’s a daily struggle to keep them on the altar, but our daily practice of prayer and Bible study keeps us current on our commitment to You. We KNOW YOU are committed to us. Once more, I quote part of my favorite psalm, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And this earth has nothing I desire besides You” (Psalm 73:25). Jesus, be my Lord and I will be Your disciple. You have the words of life. Amen.

Proverbs 9 12-9-20

Those who trust in Christ have accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. His ways are now their ways. His kingdom is their kingdom.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

We tend to think of salvation as a one-time event, a transaction. It is true that His salvation has a beginning in our hearts and lives, but it is just that: A Beginning. He births in us His kingdom, which will grow until it fills every corner of our lives. Jesus gives two distinct examples of the growth of the kingdom within us:

18 Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” 20 Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Luke 13:18-21

Another illustration is to say that we are inducted into Christ’s kingdom and, therefore, His army and service. From that point on, we are enlisted soldiers. We serve at His pleasure and disposal. Our lives are no longer our own; we belong to Him.

Join with me in suffering [setting aside our own desires, pleasures, and comforts], like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 2 Timothy 2:3-4

Is this kind of relationship what you had in mind? It’s usually not the one presented for salvation. It makes me wonder if we are really interested in having the kingdom of God grow in our lives and become attractive to those who do not know the LORD. What kind of LOVE are we displaying? Jesus said, 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). There’s an old song entitled, “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love.” To me, it hits the nail right on the head.

Let’s ask the LORD Jesus to refocus our attention to what HE thinks is important. Let’s begin to allow Christ’s love to be the most important thing in our lives. Let’s allow Him to reorient our lives so that we begin to love the Bride of Christ as He does; in doing so, He will draw all people to Himself as we lift up Christ in our lives. He said as much: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32

Abba, may I learn to set aside the things of this world that I like so much and focus on what You consider important. May I use the gifts You have given me to exalt You. I know that when I do, You bring people to a point of decision on what to do with You. May I always present You fully and honestly: You are full of grace, but also truth, salvation and judgment. May my Christian brothers and sisters realize the import of these words, as well. Amen.

They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love by Jars of Clay

Proverbs 9 11-9-20

Due North, in tune, a metal detector, and the Word of God–what do they have in common? They give us truth.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom [it makes us listen], and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding [He reveals it to us].

  1. When using a compass, true North is always stationary. As we turn to the right or to the left, we orient ourselves by it.
  2. When tuning my guitar, I use an app that shows me when each string is in tune. It shows me how far from “in tune” I am and turns green when I reach “in tune.”
  3. A metal detector ticks louder and faster the closer we come to a metallic object. If wisdom is that object, then the closer we come to it, the louder our “metal detector” (wisdom) ticks.
  4. The Word of God reveals to us truth and righteousness. We then live our lives by that truth and righteousness. We cannot do it ourselves; we depend upon the Holy Spirit for guidance. “You hold me by my right hand, and You guide me with Your counsel.” Psalm 73 23b-24a

Ours is a simple faith, much like a child’s faith, but that is exactly how Jesus told us to be (Luke 18:17). We are designed to receive one command at a time as He leads us. When we follow Him, the worries of this life fade away and we can focus on His face–His countenance cascades down upon us as we behold His beauty and the wonder of His great love and majesty!!! WOW!

Here is Jesus’ command for us today:

So don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things. Your heavenly Father knows all your needs [it’s hard to trust Him if we don’t know Him very well], and He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern. So, don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:31-34

Concerning worry (from Robin’s notes): Worry is a result of envisioning the future without God; worry only wrecks right now: it sucks the joy out of the present. Worry says that something else is more important than God in our lives, which equals idolatry.

We can do this. He has made it simple on purpose.

Abba, may I take my own advice and simply gaze upon Your beauty and majesty. I KNOW that I will receive Your love, peace, joy, mercy and grace as I stand in Your presence and enjoy Your company. Lead me, LORD. I am Your little child. Amen.