Proverbs 2-10-23

Studying God’s Word sharpens our minds because Jesus calls us to use our minds for His glory.

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Today’s topic from, “Person of Interest,” is THE EDUCATION FALLOUT. Jesus ignited a revolution of education among all classes of people. The Gospel makes no differentiation between those classes, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” Galatians 3:28. Jesus is the CATALYST for the modern education revolution because His disciples “wanted to advance the values of their Master” (page 156). J. Warner Wallace lists six IGNITERS on pages 157-158:

IGNITER #1- Christ Followers Celebrated the Life of the Mind. Jesus was a thinker, and he encouraged his followers to be similarly committed to using their minds, even as an act of worship. See Mark 12:30, Romans 12:1-2, and Ephesians 4:22-24.

IGNITER #2- Christ Followers Collected and Protected Knowledge. Christians and Jews were students of Scripture. Moses started this educational emphasis many centuries earlier (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Christians continued this tradition of education. Paul reiterated this emphasis in a letter to his disciple Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

IGNITER #3- Christ Followers were Called to Make Disciples. From start to finish, Jesus and his followers held education in high regard. Jesus’s last words to his disciples made this clear: “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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples, and this required them to become teachers of the Word.

We will look at the other three IGNITERS tomorrow, but even now, it’s pretty clear that Christianity is not a mindless religion. Quite the opposite! We are called to control our minds and to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) to Christ, allowing Him to guide us in our next steps. What great assurance we have in Christ!

Abba, thank You for making it very clear that You love us and have plans for us. If we take You seriously and study Your Word, You will help us to understand Your truth and to share it with those around us. Help us to take each thought captive to You and allow You to help us sort things out. Amen.

Proverbs 10 1-10-23

Listening to Jesus without the aid of the Holy Spirit must have been frustrating. Aren’t we glad we have the Spirit in our lives?!

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26

As we continue to look at what Jesus revealed about Himself, He will try two more times in chapter 12 by exhorting the people to believe in Him,

35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

Who is the light about which He is talking? Himself, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Jesus encouraged them to walk with Him and to believe in Him. Look at the promise: “so that you may become children of light.” They could become His children!

In Jesus’ last attempt to persuade the crowd, Jesus identified Himself with God once again and as the light once again.

44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

A little later, in the upper room, Jesus said this to Philip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” (John 14:9-10). It wasn’t like Jesus was talking in riddles; He was using the metaphor of light based upon their knowledge of OT Scripture, namely Isaiah 9:2. Light can stand for illumination of thought, for knowledge, and for understanding. Jesus is all of these and gives all of these to those who look away from the darkness and come to the light, who is Jesus.

Jesus was speaking plainly, but the people still had a veil over their minds and hearts (John 12:40 and 2 Corinthians 3:14). It wouldn’t be until Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit that people’s minds would be opened to the truth He had been sharing with them–even the disciples (John 2:22, Luke 24:45)!

We have the Holy Spirit available to us to explain the Scriptures to us just like He did with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:27). May we take full advantage of so great a Resource!

Abba, we need our hearts enlightened with Your truth, Your illumination of thought, Your knowledge and Your understanding. May You be our Guide even as You light our path. Amen.

Proverbs 10 12-10-22

How do we get our perception of what God is like? Is it learned? Then, who taught us? When, where and how did we learn it?

28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. Luke 1:28-30

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.


As we enter the realm of the New Testament, we are led straightway by Luke to the Magnificat (Mary’s Song) and Zechariah’s song, both in the first chapter. We will look at part of the Magnificat today,

46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.

In her song, we find the attribute, mercy. It is interesting that this mercy extended to those who feared God. The language that Mary used is kin to the Psalms, in which “those who fear him” is used 11 times. In these 11 verses, we find this description,

  1. God confides in those who fear Him (Psalm 25:14).
  2. His eyes are on those who fear Him (Psalm 33:18).
  3. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him (Psalm 34:7).
  4. Those who fear Him lack nothing (Psalm 34:9).
  5. Salvation is near those who fear Him (Psalm 85:9).
  6. His great love is for those who fear Him (Psalm 103:11).
  7. The Lord’s fatherly compassion is on those who fear Him (Psalm 103:13).
  8. The Lord’s everlasting love is with those who fear Him (Psalm 103:17).
  9. He provides food for those who fear Him (Psalm 111:5).
  10. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him (Psalm 145:19).
  11. He delights in those who fear Him (Psalm 147:11).

Each time, in these verses, the word, “fear,” is from Strong’s Concordance #3372 “yare,” which means “to fear, respect.” Mary used a different word, “phobeos,” [4172] which means, “to terrify, put to flight, to dread.” It might be that her perception was the general perception of her day about God–her visitation by Gabriel certainly encouraged it!–but that was not what the Israelites were told to do at Mount Sinai by Moses,

12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear [3372] the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Moses did use the form, “pachad” [6343], which is the Hebrew form of the Greek, “phobeos,” but it had to do with the neighboring nations concerning how they viewed Israel,

25 No one will be able to stand against you. The Lord your God, as he promised you, will put the terror and fear [6343] of you on the whole land, wherever you go. Deuteronomy 11:25.

Tomorrow, we will look at Zechariah’s song and see what God had in store for all the people coming after him.

Abba, You are mighty and true. You are due all respect, along with our gratitude for all You have done for us. I am looking forward to sharing the exciting truth out of Zechariah’s song tomorrow with my readers. Thank You, Abba, for Your great patience with us. Amen.

Proverbs 10 11-10-22

Everyone needs a life mantra, something that acts as a North Star for him. Mine is a passage from the Bible, Psalm 73:23-26.

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

This psalm was written by a fellow named Asaph. He was one of the priests who led worship for King David. The first part of this psalm is about how good people suffer and bad people prosper. Sound familiar? Me, too! The key to the psalm is in the middle:

16 But when I thought how to understand this,
    it seemed to me a wearisome task [“what’s the use?”],
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
    then I discerned their end.

What Asaph needed was a Godly perspective. They would not get away with things forever. In the words of Paul, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Asaph lists what will happen to them, and then he deals with his own heart,

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

Asaph, was saying, “This is how I must look to God.” And yet, he pens these words,

23 Yet, I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.

The Walk
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me to glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

I have adopted this passage as my life mantra. I read/quote it every morning. I allow it to guide my life. I am aware of God and His presence within me; He walks with me through the day guiding me with His counsel in sweet fellowship; I praise Him for who He is; I look forward to moving from this house/body to His house and my new body.

Do you have a life mantra? I recommend finding a Scripture verse/passage that speaks your heart and life. In the meantime, how about using mine? I have made a QR in order for you to find it easily. I’ll send the link separately.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will find a verse or passage that speaks their heart and life. I know that if they will read Your Word, that You will draw them to one, one that speaks Your heart to them, as well. In my passage, I see Your love and Your patience with me. I love Your guidance because it means conversation, and of course, I love the promise that I will get to be with You in glory. I can hardly wait, O Lord! Amen.

Proverbs 10 10-10-22

The apostle Paul has been considered the 12th apostle by the church for 2000 years. Why?

An apostle was literally, a “called out” one by Christ Himself. In the passage below, we read of Paul/Saul’s calling,

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:5-6

This meeting was one of many times that Paul (formerly Saul) met with Jesus. We have this word from Christ Himself to Ananias, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:16). This suffering is evident in Paul’s life wherever he went. Here was his perspective, “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24). God did not shield Paul from the persecutions he faced in nearly every town he entered. Yet, the Gospel was shared and a church planted in every place. The Holy Spirit was moving!

In 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, Paul tells of a time when he was caught up into heaven,

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this manwas caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

He learned many things that he could not tell–but also things that he COULD tell,

25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

What is the mystery that Paul was given to share? Christ in us, the hope of glory! God the Son lives in us through God the Holy Spirit, “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). This Advocate is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ and of God, “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:3-4).

This is the good news of the Gospel: Christ wants to be in us to give us the hope of glory with Him. This hope is steadfast and sure, and will be realized on the day when we go be with Him. In the meantime, we walk in step with the Spirit as we become like Him in character. We are children of the King! May we never forget it.

Abba, we have so much to learn about being like You. You promise us that we are blameless, pure, without fault or blemish–I just can’t see it. But, I receive it in faith that YOU see it. Make me like You, Jesus. That’s all I ask. Amen.

Proverbs 10 9-10-22

The unity of the Trinity is central to Christianity. God = Jesus = Spirit = God.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14

Today, we look at the third Person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit (part C of article two of the Baptist Faith & Message).

C. God the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.

Genesis 1:2Judges 14:6Job 26:13Psalms 51:11139:7ff.; Isaiah 61:1-3Joel 2:28-32Matthew 1:183:164:112:28-3228:19Mark 1:10,12Luke 1:354:1,18-1911:1312:1224:49John 4:2414:16-17,2615:2616:7-14Acts 1:82:1-4,384:315:36:37:558:17,3910:4413:215:2816:619:1-6Romans 8:9-11,14-16,26-271 Corinthians 2:10-143:1612:3-11,13Galatians 4:6Ephesians 1:13-144:305:181 Thessalonians 5:191 Timothy 3:164:12 Timothy 1:143:16Hebrews 9:8,142 Peter 1:211 John 4:135:6-7Revelation 1:1022:17.

The Holy Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9), the Spirit of Christ (1 Peter 1:11), the Spirit of holiness (Romans 1:4), the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2), the eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14), and the Spirit of glory (1 Peter 4:14). He is the “action” of God in the universe and our lives.

Interestingly, the question of equality of the Spirit in the Trinity was one of the issues that split the Roman Catholic Church from the Eastern Orthodox Church in 1054 AD. In the Nicene Creed, which was established in 325, the phrase about the Holy Spirit, “proceeding from the Father,” was given the addition, “and the Son (filioque–>son).” This change to the creed was so inflammatory that they split. A good, quick, informational source on “filioque” is

Baptists believe that the Holy Spirit is in equal standing with the Father and the Son. The fact that the Spirit is referred to as “of God,” “of Christ,” “of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:19),” and “of holiness” attest to the unity of the Trinity. To have one is to have the others. They cannot be separated. The Spirit in us is HOW we have Christ in us and HOW we are sons of God. Neat, huh?

Abba, thank You for Your Spirit in us. The Gift of the Holy Spirit is what restored our relationship with You back to Eden-status. Actually, it’s better than Eden because we can never be separated from You again (Romans 8:31-39). You are awesome, and we are eternally grateful to You. Amen.

Proverbs 10 8-10-22

As amazing as our hearts are, eventually they WILL stop. What does God have planned for us afterward?

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

Yesterday, we learned that the heart is actually two pumps in one, one pumping blood to the lungs for oxygen and the other pumping blood to the body. Today, we will learn about why the heart never wears out, what keeps it from sliding around inside the ribcage, and how it keeps from overheating.

Two pumps in one:

In Place and Lubricated
“The human body has an amazing ability to keep organs stable as we run, jump, and twirl. That may seem easy for kidneys or our bladder, but the heart presents an extra difficulty. It is pumping vigorously all the time. How can it keep moving without sliding around inside the ribcage or overheating?
To protect this nonstop muscle, God placed it in a special two-layered bag, called the pericardial sac. The tough outer layer of the sac, called the fibrous pericardium, attaches tightly to the heart. A special lubricant fluid between the two layers allows the heart to slide around with little friction. If it were not for this marvelous lubricated sac, the beating heart would create enough heat to kill us.” Taken from, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body,” page 43

As for never tiring, “God designed a separate system of nerves called the autonomic nervous system. These nerves differ from the nerves of our five senses because they continuously transmit without fail. They don’t get overwhelmed with information (like the strain on your eyes from staring too long at a bright tie-dyed shirt), so they don’t tire out.
Yet our hearts are different from typical autonomic systems. Most systems, like digestion, don’t have to run constantly. The heart, on the other hand, must function all the time. So God gave the heart a built-in pacemaker that allows it to run regularly, without active outside control.
Sitting on the upper right side of the heart is a cluster of specialized cells called the sinoatrial node. They generate electrical impulses that stimulate the muscles in the upper chambers to contract. The signal continues moving down to another cluster of cells above the lower chambers, which then fire.
These electrical impulses ebb and flow in regular waves, without the need for direct input from the brain.
If needed, however, the brain can directly control heart rate and blood pressure. The brain constantly monitors the heart to evaluate when to step in.” (page 44)

Adrenaline is a big part of how the brain helps the heart help us during strenuous exercise.

As we can see, we can trust God with our bodies. They WERE designed to last forever, but not anymore; sin took care of that. We have this promise, though, in 2 Corinthians 4:16,

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

The Spirit in us would have kept not only the inward person renewed, but the outer person renewed, as well. These physical bodies are part of the old covenant. Jesus has new bodies awaiting us beyond this physical world,

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 5:2-5

Abba, it is this promise, this guarantee, that gives us hope for the future. We are confident that You will keep Your promise to keep us with You and to see You in Your glory (John 17:24). May we keep the main thing the main thing: Trusting You daily for everything. Amen.

Proverbs 10 7-10-22

Understanding the heart and character of God is in direct correlation to serving Him with our whole hearts.

24 What the wicked dread will overtake them [God]; what the righteous desire will be granted [God].

It is interesting how through the ages words take on different meanings, thus changing the way we interpret verses. Exodus 34:6-7 is a prime example,

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

This passage is out of the Masoretic text, which was “written sometime between the seventh and tenth centuries AD, it was based on the meticulously preserved oral tradition and the best available manuscripts of the original Hebrew text.” See Masoretic Text. Many times newer is often better, but not necessarily in this case. By the time this version was finished (1000+A.D.), it was a millennium away from Christ and the apostles; it was part of the Western Roman Catholic Church, and was involved in a major division between the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Roman Catholic Churches that happened in 1054 A.D. The Eastern Orthodox Churches continued to use the Septuagint version (to this day), translated by 70 (LXX) Jewish scholars in the 3rd century B.C. If Paul carried a Greek version of the Bible, this was it! Let’s read our text out of the LXX,

6 Then the Lord passed before his face and proclaimed, “The Lord God, compassionate, merciful, longsuffering, abounding in mercy and true, 7 preserving righteousness and showing mercy onto thousands, taking away lawlessness, wrongdoing, and sins; and He will not clear the guilty, visiting the lawlessness of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.

There is a noticeable difference in that the word, “punish,” is not in this version. In fact, the general idea is not that God punishes, but that He allows the natural consequences of mankind’s actions to follow them even into the next three or four generations. We see these natural consequences today in families with alcohol and drug addiction, suicide, and divorce. They are learned behaviors with a huge amount of emotional force. What we must do is use the first part of verse 7 to circumvent and/or disrupt destructive behavior, to “break the chain:” The Lord God is compassionate, merciful, longsuffering, abounding in mercy and true; He preserves our righteousness in Jesus Christ and shows mercy on all who will turn to Him. He took away our lawlessness, wrongdoing, and our sins and buried them in the grave with Himself–then He rose again WITHOUT them! God allows them, but He doesn’t cause them, which means that we can change them if we call on Him to help us with them. With His guidance, we can break that chain.

It’s an honor to serve a God like ours. He has done so much for us!

Abba, thank You for being You. Teach me to be just like You. I know You are transforming me into Your image, the image of Christ Jesus; I just wish the process moved a little quicker…Still, thank You. Amen.

Proverbs 10 6-10-22

What is it that makes the Gospel so unique? There have been people with “Messiah Complexes” all through history.

3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Jesus made some claims about Himself that were pretty unbelievable–unless He is who He says He is. These claims can be found listed at Jesus’ Unique Claims About Himself. The main one is His claim to be able to rise from the dead:

17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:17-18

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Matthew 16:21 (also 17:22-23 and 20:17-19)

So, the question is, Did He? We have four eye-witness accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that say He did. We also have indicators of many more who wrote about it, but those accounts have not survived,

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among usjust as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Luke 1:1-2

We have testimony that Jesus appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters (Christians) at one time, and several received personal appearances (1 Corinthians 15:5-7), His last appearance being John on the Isle of Patmos (Revelation 1:10-18).

Foundational to the Christian faith are these points:

  1. The Incarnation– God came down and dwelt among us in the flesh as Jesus Christ.
  2. The Life– Jesus lived in perfect union with God the Father through God the Spirit as God the Son.
  3. The Passion– Jesus willingly laid down His life for all mankind.
  4. The Resurrection– God the Father raised God the Son from the dead through God the Spirit.
  5. The Ascension– Jesus ascended in front of witnesses into the heavens, returning to His throne, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. We know this last part through Stephen’s testimony in Acts 7:55 (although Jesus was standing when Stephen saw Him, we presume that He was standing in front of His seat beside the Father).

(The Return could be added here, but since it hasn’t happened yet, the facts are still “up in the air.”)

Based upon the five foundational points made above, we now have what is referred to as dogma, which is “a settled or established opinion, belief, or principle.” All else is interpretation based upon the writings of early Christian writers, specifically Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, the writer of Hebrews, James and Peter. In our faith in Jesus, let us hold closely to dogma. It is the first ring in the Concentric Circles of Theology:

Abba, teach us to hold closely what is true about You and Your mission, but to hold loosely to man’s opinions–even our own. The static words that we read can be misinterpreted; the dynamic words that You speak to us in our spirits by Your Spirit are life. May we always seek You for every answer, even if the answer is “not yet.” Waiting is one of the hardest things we do. Give us patience and trust, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 10 5-10-22

Hardship equals judgment; “God causes the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Which one is right?

14:32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God.

Throughout the centuries, even millennia, people have judged others by their circumstances. Jesus paid no attention to stations in life; in fact, He made it a point to help those who were considered “cursed” by God. John 9 (the account of the man blind from birth) is a prime example. Matthew Henry, 1662-1714, made this statement,

“Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins,
but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces.”

Albeit stated in soft form, Matthew Henry understood that physical ailments were not a direct judgment from God. Of his nine children and two wives, four children died as babies and his first wife of smallpox at 25. He was well acquainted with suffering.

The book of Job is in direct opposition to the idea that physical blessings were God’s blessings and physical ailments, and even low stations in life, were the judgment of God. All forms of death and hardship have as their root the curse of sin (Genesis 3:14-19). We can look at these judgments in two ways:

  1. God arbitrarily chose these judgments to impose upon mankind and the world;
  2. God was stating the effects of sin on mankind and the world.

We cannot begin to know all of the ramifications of Adam and Eve’s decision to rebel against God and follow the advice of the serpent. We do know the cost was high:

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—Romans 5:12

The happy news is that Jesus came to reverse the effects of sin and death on our world:

18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. Romans 5:18

Does Jesus physically heal everyone? No. Has He reversed death? Not yet. Jesus knew something that we could only hope for, that there is life after death–JESUS IS LIFE!

The “extraordinary grace” that Matthew Henry mentioned is wrapped up in Romans 5:1-5,

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of GodNot only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

And His Spirit is our seal of things to come (2 Corinthians 1:22). With this promise we shout with the apostle Paul,

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:54-55

Thanks be to You, O God, for giving us the victory in the Lord Jesus Christ (v.57)! With the promise of being with You for eternity and Your seal of the Holy Spirit in us, we can “stand firm, letting nothing move us away from our faith in You. We can now give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because we know that our labor in the Lord is not in vain” (v.58). Amen.

Proverbs 10 4-10-22

Jesus related to Nicodemus in terms he couldn’t understand and in some that only Nick could understand.

8:17 I love those who love me [wisdom], and those who seek me find me.
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:24

As we continue our look at memorization, knowledge (knowing the passage), and proof texting (bending Scripture to say what we want it to say), we now turn our attention to context. “Text without context is pretext for proof text.” In other words, we need to stay true to the central idea of the text, or, the CIT. Back to John 3:16,

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. NLV

The setting for this verse is the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus. Jesus makes two statements that are right up Nick’s alley in the way of Scripture. One is His reference to Daniel 7:13-14 and Himself. Let’s look at the passages side-by-side:

13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. John 3:13
13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14

Jesus was obviously speaking of Himself and was equating Himself with God, “I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things” (John 3:12)? Then Jesus identifies Himself with Moses by connecting the snake on the pole with Himself; in the same way that people who looked to the snake on the pole were saved (see Numbers 21:4-9), so is anyone who looks to Jesus for salvation, and He gives them eternal life. WE know that Jesus was foretelling how He would die on a cross. It is at this point that John shares with us how much God loves us and what Jesus’ plan was to save the world: God would give His Son, and the Son would give Himself. That’s a lot of love, folks!

Tomorrow, we will look at what is on the other side of this famous verse.

Abba, as we worship today, may we connect to You in Spirit. May we connect with our fellow believers through music, teaching, and haverim (the conveyance of the fellowship, partnership and mutual respect between friends). May we connect with folks who are seeking You, Abba. Everyone needs to meet Jesus. How can we help? Amen.

Proverbs 10 3-10-22

Learning to trust Jesus can be hard, especially if you’ve been shown a counterfeit Jesus!

7 The name of the righteous [the correct image of Jesus] is used in blessings, but the name of the wicked [a false image of Jesus] will rot.

My friend, Cal, and I were talking yesterday about a friend of his who simply will not trust Christ. The fellow doesn’t see the need. “Scare tactics” haven’t worked; that’s where you tell him that if he doesn’t accept Jesus that he is going to hell–it’s not that it’s not true, but it’s the wrong motivation to come to Christ; Jesus desires a relationship, and a relationship cannot be built on fear. In fact, fear may be the very reason that the fellow won’t come to Christ. Consider this:

  • IF he was raised in a strict, overly religious home,
  • IF he was raised by a parent(s) who used hell as part of their manipulation or intimidation,
  • IF he had a good friend who died of a terrible disease or in a freak car accident,
  • IF he went to a church that only harped on money,
  • IF he had someone in his life who represented Jesus and had a moral failure,
  • THEN he may have rejected the Jesus he was shown–which is actually good–but threw out Jesus with the bath water, so to speak.

In, A More Christlike God, there is a section on Christian Polytheism. Here it is:

It was risky business for early Christians to hold up Christ as the image of the one true God. Their gospel confession demanded a rejection of Rome’s pantheon of pagan gods and the emperor’s demand for worship. And that meant persecution. But at least the choice was straightforward: Jesus is Lord and Jupiter is not. Jesus is Lord and Diana is not. Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not.
But today, how are we to navigate the problem of polytheism (the belief in many gods) within Christianity? Let’s say there’s still a militaristic god of war, a patriotic god of nationalism, a puritan god of moralism, a partisan god of politics, and erotic god of promiscuity, a charismatic god of power, a prosperity god of consumerism, etc. Have these gods somehow survived and thrived, masquerading under the Christian brand? How might these gods inhabit and even direct the accredited Christian establishment? Do we see them lurking in the multitude of Christian sects, promising unwarranted immunity from the corruption of Christendom? All they needed to do was co-opt the name of Jesus. Talk about identity theft! Is it possible for the church to worship idols under a thin veneer of Christianese without even knowing it?

There are other “gods,” but I am going to have to do some research to find them. I will look for them.

The point is that Cal’s friend may have been shown a false image of Jesus. It happens all the time–way too often! We need to present the God that Jesus represented, who is a God of love and mercy and grace and compassion. If we present a Jesus who wants us next to Him both metaphorically and, later, literally, along with all of His other virtues, then I’ll bet more people would trust Jesus enough to give Him their lives. Listen to God’s words to us through Jesus:

28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” Matthew 11:28-30

How do I know these are God’s words? Here they are:

The Lord passed by before him and proclaimed: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness,keeping loyal love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin [we’ll deal with the second part of this verse another time]. Exodus 34:6-7a

God is love.” We do not need to fear Him. We can trust Him. Let’s show people this image of Jesus.

Abba, reveal Yourself to us so that we can represent You to others. May we be willing to listen to You when You tell us something different than what we have learned. We trust You. Amen.

Proverbs 10 2-10-22

We may believe that Jesus said these things. The question is, “Do we believe them enough to obey Him?

13 On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.

At one point in Jesus’ ministry, probably just a few months before His crucifixion, He went up to the festival of Tabernacles, which happens near the beginning of the Jewish civil New Year. It amazes me to note how many times Jesus told them that He was from heaven, that God was His Father, and that He hears God, sees Him working, and is obedient to Him. Let’s look at those passages:

16 ‘My teaching isn’t my own,’ replied Jesus. ‘It comes from the one who sent me! 17 If anyone wants to do what God wants, they will know whether this teaching is from God, or whether I’m just speaking on my own account. 18 Anyone who speaks on his own behalf is trying to establish his own reputation. But if what he’s interested in is the reputation of the one who sent him, then he is true, and there is no injustice in him.’ John 7:16-18

28 As Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he shouted out, ‘You know me! You know where I come from! I haven’t come on my own behalf – but the one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him! 29 I know him, because I come from him, and he sent me!’ John 7:28-29

At this point, the leaders tried to arrest Him, but since His time had not come, they couldn’t do it. The text doesn’t say why they couldn’t, only that they couldn’t. Even the temple guards wouldn’t arrest Him. They would hear Jesus talk and then come away saying, “No one ever spoke like this!” John 7:46. But there’s more…and we’ll pick it up tomorrow.

The proof was there in both words and deeds for anyone to believe Jesus. Yet, He did not demand a following. He knew that everyone would fall away at some point. Still, He went to the cross for us, through death, and then out the other side to eternal life (life in the new age). He promises us that very same life. Let’s live for that life rather than this life.

Abba, I have been challenged lately to consider my wealth expendable. I’m not a rich person by American standards, but I have all I need and most of what I want, with plenty to spare. How might I serve the poor and/or further Your kingdom? I will be waiting for You to answer. Amen (for now).

Proverbs 10 1-10-22

Collectivism and Individualism: East, meet West.

1 A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.

We Westerners, who live in Western Europe, North America, and Canada, have a culture built on individualism. “Be true to yourself,” “I just have to be me,” and other phrases like these pretty much tell the tale. Our choices are our own, and we live and die by them. The problem is that the Eastern part of the world and South America live collective lives. Their culture is built around family, clan, and nation. Honor and shame are built-in to their lives. Why does this difference even matter? Let’s look at Luke 12:51-53,

51 Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; 52 for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

We Westerners see this passage as logical and we don’t see a problem; Easterners are shocked and appalled by it. What Jesus was saying was inconceivable to most people of His day. Family, tribe and nation were everything. Yet, Jesus calls everyone to make his own decision to follow Him. He was beginning a new code of honor: Loyalty to Him. He was also inaugurating a new family: His family, the Church.

In the book, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes, by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien, page 118, they explain the difference between the two ways of thinking:

“To summarize, in an innocence/guilt culture (which includes most Western societies), the laws of society, the rules of the church, local mores (pronounced, “mahrez,” and means, “colloquial perspective) and code of the home are all internalized in the person. The goal is that when a person breaks one of these, her or his conscience will be pricked. In fact, it is hoped that the conscience will discourage the person from breaking the rule in the first place. The battle is fought inside.
In the honor/shame society, such as that of the Bible and much of the non-Western world today, the driving force is to not bring shame upon yourself, your family, your church, your village, your tribe or even your faith. The determining force is the expectations of your significant others (primarily your family). Their expectations don’t override morals or right/wrong; they actually are the ethical standards. In these cultures, you are shamed when you disappoint those whose expectations matter.”

So, when Jesus made this statement, He was going against the culture of society. It’s just another layer of the New Covenant, one that we Westerners can’t see because we don’t think like that. Easterners, on the other hand, have to transfer their loyalty to Christ and His family. In their minds, they are having to turn their backs on the family, clan, nation, and even ancestors. It was–and is–a much bigger deal to them than it is to us.

If we were to implement anything into the Gospel from the Collective way of thinking, it would be that Christ comes first, then His Church, and then our society, which includes our families, clans, and nation. We are not to play the Shame Game, but we are to stir each other up to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). We must remember that “No man is an island.” Our decisions affect those around us in ever-increasing concentric circles, much like the waves created by a rock thrown into a pond.

Let’s not judge our Eastern neighbors too harshly. There’s a reason they think the way they do.

Abba, may You guide us into Your ever-increasing truth. Open our eyes and minds to new truths in Your Word. It’s like a bottomless treasure chest! We’ll keep digging; please keep speaking. Amen.

Proverbs 10 12-10-21

Joseph and Mary were from Nazareth. Chance happening? Coincidence? I think not! Scripture foretold it!

14 A wise person stores up knowledge…

About a hundred years before the birth of Christ, the royal family of David left Babylon and moved to Israel. Possibly because of political reasons, they settled in Nazareth, which is far away (to them) from Jerusalem. The distance is about 64 miles, or 91 miles by the sea route if one doesn’t want to go through Samaria or walk through mountains. Matthew’s comment about Jesus being a Nazarene in Matthew 2:23 probably refers to Jesus coming from the city of the Branch (the meaning of the word, “Nazareth,” and explained later).

There are two genealogies given in the New Testament: the first is found in Matthew 1:1-17, and the other in Luke 3:23-37. I have read good arguments on both sides of which one is Joseph’s and which one is Mary’s. The point is that both Joseph and Mary were from David and Bathsheba, one from Solomon and the other from Nathan (1 Chronicles 3:5).

Why is Nazareth famous?

Nazareth is famous for one thing, and one thing only: it is the home town of Jesus.
It was here that Jesus spent his boyhood, living with his mother and father, and here that he faced the skeptical townsfolk of Nazareth.


The village seems to have been held in some contempt in 1st century Palestine. It was a nondescript dot on the map with not much to offer, overshadowed by nearby Sepphoris, the luxurious Greek-style capital of Herod Antipas. It is beguiling to think that Joseph and Jesus, as builders, may have traipsed over to Sepphoris to work on the new buildings. [Sepphoris, also known as Zippori, was 3.5 miles NW of Nazareth]

Bible study resource: ancient Nazareth

  • Nazareth lay in the hills twelve miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee: fertile land.
  • Excavations show just how small it actually was – but every bit of space was used effectively. It was built on porous rock, so as well as the buildings above the surface there were underground cisterns for water, vats for oil, and silos for grain. There was a single, ancient spring for water.
  • It was a conservative town, clinging to traditional Jewish culture in a world that had been radically affected by Greek thought and culture.
  • It had a population of about 400, so everyone knew everyone else. The people were physically robust, strong-minded, practical, respectful of traditional and loyal to family.
  • They spoke Aramaic, a language with a strong poetic tradition. Being able to talk well was a valued skill.
  • Young Jewish men were expected to be literate. The Jewish queen Salome Alexandra had made reading and writing compulsory for all Jewish boys – for study of the Torah.


Although the Christmas tree has pagan origins, Christians have embraced its beauty for centuries as an important centerpiece of Christmas décor. I suggest that the Christmas tree branch should stir us most. Why is that?

Although we associate Christmas with Bethlehem, our Lord was conceived and reared in the small village of Nazareth in Israel’s northern province, Galilee. This is where Mary and Joseph grew up and lived. This is where an angel appeared to Mary and announced that she would mother the Messiah. This is where Joseph received a vision in a dream, assuring him that Mary truly had conceived while yet a virgin. The espoused couple travelled to the original city of David, Bethlehem, leaving what might be called the new village of David’s heirs, Nazareth.

A number of authorities have postulated that the name “Nazareth” was derived from the Hebrew word for “branch,” netzer. Paul Wallace (John’s Rabbi) writes,

When the Scriptures tell us that Jesus was a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23), they [are referring to]…the family line of David. Isaiah 11:1 predicts the coming of the Messiah. “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse, from his roots a Branch (netzer) will bear fruit.”

Ed Vasicek Nazareth and the Royal Line

Why is knowing important? Consider this: I can hold whatever opinion I want about a person or event as long as I don’t get to know the person or study the event. But, once I do, my opinion may be influenced by personal knowledge. The leaders in Capernaum are a case in point (Luke 7:1-10) in how they regarded the Roman Centurion in their town. As we learn about Nazareth and its area, we are learning about the places where Jesus spent most of His time and a large portion of His ministry. Context is important. We will continue our research on Nazareth tomorrow.

Abba, thank You for the people who have put in the time and resources to make known to us information about You and where You grew up as Jesus. I see that every detail of Your Advent was carefully planned. Your Coming was important to You because You were coming to get us back! It’s important to us because You want us with You! I find great security in knowing that You want me, Lord. May I enjoy the Fellowship of the Trinity today as we walk together. Amen.

Proverbs 10 11-10-21

Length, width and depth. Reading the Bible in 3-D is pretty cool.

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver [metaphor]… 25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone [metaphor]… 29 As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so are sluggard to those who send them [simile].

I’ve been doing a lot of extra-curricular reading lately. One of the books talks about the three ways to read Scripture. I tried it yesterday morning and it worked!

The three ways are:

  1. Literal– it is the grammar part, the skeletal layout of the text. Is it narrative? Poetry? Story? Who wrote it? To whom was it written? When? Under what circumstances? What is the CIT (Central Idea of the Text)?
  2. Moral– it is the questioning part: How does this passage apply to my life? Is there a “moral” to draw from the text? What was the author trying to say? What can we draw from the story, either to do or not do (cautionary tale)?
  3. Spiritual– Jesus said that all Scripture points to Him, so we ask, “How does this passage point to Jesus?” Seeing Jesus in every passage is difficult, especially in the Old Testament. Many times, we must realize that people’s veiled hearts are exactly what we are supposed to see: distorted, confused, and incomplete views of God and His Son.

Jesus came to give us clear sight. To see Him is to see the Father,

Jesus answered, “For a long time I have been with you all; yet you do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. Why, then, do you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:9

There are two passages where Jesus claims that all the (OT) Scriptures point to Him. They are:

39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me [these very Scriptures point to me- NLT]40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. John 5:39-40

25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. Luke 24:25-27

Finding Jesus in the Scriptures is what we will do tomorrow as we look at Psalm 101.

Abba, I begin this trek into the Scriptures with great trepidation because it challenges how I have looked at Scripture all my life. May I seek You constantly in prayer even as I read Your story through time. Show me on every page and in every verse how You are involved with every person and every account. May the Scriptures come alive to me, Abba. I’m counting on it! Amen.

Proverbs 10 10-10-21

We are to be light bearers. The best way for us to do that is to demonstrate God’s love for everyone to everyone.

1 A wise child brings joy to his father…11 the mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life…

This past week, we did a study of 2 Corinthians 5:11-21. In it, we discovered that Christ’s love compels us to be ministers of reconciliation. In order to fulfill our role, we will be looking at this amazing love that the Father has for us that is displayed in Jesus Christ. We begin, not with John 3:16, but with John 15:9,

“Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; remain in my love.

We find that the heavenly Father, the King of the universe, loves His Son. We also see that the Son loves us. Does that necessarily mean that the Father loves us as the Son does? No, unless we look back in the evening’s conversation and discover this, “It is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work [loving you]” (14:10). If we read verses 9-11, we find that Jesus was telling Philip and the guys that He and the Father are one,

Jesus replied, “Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own initiative, but the Father residing in me performs his miraculous deeds. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me, but if you do not believe me, believe because of the miraculous deeds themselves.

Just in case we missed the point, let’s look at John 10:28-30,

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

When we say, “Jesus,” we are saying, “Father.” To say, “Father,” is to say, “Holy Spirit.” They are three in one. We tend to forget that point, especially concerning the cross–but, we will save that discussion for another time. Suffice it to say that Jesus is the Father extending His love to us. NOW, we can read John 3:16,

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He [loved us so much that He] gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish [be utterly destroyed by the consequences of their actions,] but have eternal life.

Want to know the real mission of Jesus here on earth? It’s in the next verse: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” Jesus’ mission was to save the world. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Ever. Not before, not during, and not after. Jesus is the exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:3), and we know that God is love (1 John 4:8).

If we want to know the love of the Father, we need to get to know Jesus. The Scriptures are a great place to start, but He Himself is the best place to learn about His love. Go to Him and ask Him. He will reveal the Father to us. He will give us His love.

Abba, thank You for loving me and for giving me Your love. I feel it in my heart, and I act on it every day. The assurance of Your love gives me the strength to stay on task. May I be a light/love bearer for You, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 10 9-10-21

Wanna know why we do things? “For the love of Christ compels us.” Is it His love for us? or, our love for Him? or, both?

22 The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, without painful toil for it [for millennia, it was believed that wealth equaled the blessing of God; we now have something that is much greater than material wealth: the indwelling of the Spirit].

God’s love for His creation, mankind, is greater than the universe. When sin separated us from Him, He had already set in motion His Plan for getting us back. We must remember that free will is paramount to Him: He wants us to love Him with no manipulation, no strong-arming, and no presets. He came to earth as Jesus to buy us back; He paid the debt that we could never pay.

There are two verses that we will look at today to confirm these truths:

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

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died15 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. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

God, not wanting any to perish, created the way for all mankind to come back to Him: The cross. When Jesus died, He took every person’s sin to the grave. Spiritually, we all died with Him. Actually, we were already dead spiritually because we did not have the Holy Spirit in us. The Spirit is life, and without Him, there is no spiritual life. But, because of Christ and His finished work on the cross, everyone who accepts Him as God and commits to serve Him as God of their lives receives the life-giving Spirit, which is Jesus Himself (1 Corinthians 15:45).

Now, to answer the question:

  1. Yes, the Spirit compels us to follow Christ in obedience. He is our driving Force now.
  2. Yes, our love for Jesus is driven by our thankfulness and gratefulness for all He has done for us.
  3. We are compelled because of our commitment to Him and because of the encouragement of the Spirit to no longer live for ourselves, but for Christ. He’s the One who died for us and was raised again.

Are you grateful? I AM! Let’s follow the Spirit’s leading and serve our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Abba, I surely am grateful for You saving my soul. I look forward to shedding this old sin-ridden body and taking up residence in my new body in my new home–Your home! I know Your kingdom is in me now, and I can hardly wait to step into Your kingdom whole and complete! May my life and my death bring glory and honor to You, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 10 8-10-21

The certainty of our salvation is wrapped up in our daily walk with Jesus. Want to know you’re saved? Walk with Jesus.

17 Whoever heeds discipline [stays close to the Master] shows the way to life [to others], but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once said, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” The apostle Peter said it like this,

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8

Joy is one of the three fruits that is bestowed upon us by the presence of Jesus in our lives. The other two are love and peace. When we acknowledge Him as being in our lives and in control of our lives, His love, JOY and peace flow from Him to and through us. How do we acknowledge the Lord?

  1. Believing- the entrusting of our lives to Him; the only way to foster such belief and trust is to know Him. How do we know God? By reading the letter He sent us: The Bible! For the younger generation, consider it a long text message. The point is that He thought enough of us to write down everything (at least, some of everything) so that we wouldn’t have to guess or take another person’s word for what He said. The only Person we trust is Jesus because Jesus’ words were/are founded in the Scriptures (Old Testament). The first Covenant corroborates Jesus’ claim as the Son of God, the Messiah.
  2. Experiencing- when we are saved, we entrust our lives to Him; by doing so, we experience Him that first time as we feel His love, JOY, and peace flowing from Him to and through us. It’s amazing! It truly is inexpressible and glorious. What often happens is that a new Christian does not sustain His relationship with Christ through Scripture reading, prayer, and Christian fellowship, and loses the feeling. Then, in a moment of conviction, turns around and faces Christ again, and, entrusting his life once again to Christ, feels that he has been born again because it feels like that first time–sometimes even stronger. Only the person knows for sure if it was a true salvation experience or simply a returning to our first love (see Revelation 2:4-5). Sometimes, Christ calls us to a higher, closer walk with Him. That, too, can be mistaken as a salvation experience. How can we tell the difference? The presence of the Holy Spirit and a changed life. Again, only the person can answer that question.
  3. The end result- This salvation is the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He is the Spirit of Jesus Christ! Being with Him is being in heaven; the difference in how we perceive Him is the container in which we live. Now, we live in perishable, natural and weak bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-44), and we see only a reflection (dimly) as in a mirror (1 Corinthians 13:12a) and only in part. Upon death, we will put on the imperishable and the immortal (1 Corinthians 15:53-54), and we will see Him face to face. We will know Him fully, even as we are fully known by Him (1 Corinthians 13:12b).

How do we know that we are receiving the salvation of our souls? We feel His presence as love, JOY and peace that pervades our souls! And how do we make that happen?

By trusting Jesus and reading the Bible.

Bigger than our schedules, higher than our life goals, greater than our own plans, He is our One Desire. King David said,

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.

Psalm 27:4

Since we are His temple, all we have to do is access Him by turning around mentally and “facing” Him in our minds, by talking to Him and listening for His still, small voice, and by reading His Word and recognizing the impressions and urgings of the Holy Spirit as He helps us think like Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). If we take our Christianity and our decision to follow Christ seriously, we will follow this procedure every day until the day we die.

Abba, I reconfirm my commitment to follow You. Every morning, I trade my will for Your will, my thoughts for Your thoughts (as I read Your Word), my desires for Your desires, and my life for Your life. Use me as You see fit; I am hooked on Your JOY, Lord! Fill me up so that I overflow to others!!! Amen.

Proverbs 10 7-10-21

What we say and what we do had better line up with each other. People spot hypocrisy pretty quickly.

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver [if their heart is right], but the heart of the wicked is of little value [regardless of what they say].

Proving the Love of Christ is of utmost importance. God calls us to show love to people, both Christians and non-Christians. We must prove that:

  1. We are followers of Christ and not just believers. The difference is whether we just intellectually believe in Him or actually entrust our lives to Him. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder” James 2:19.
  2. The power of Christ is in us changing us into Christ-like people. The people around us must see the change in us. Forgiveness, and purity of mind and heart are what they will notice quickly.
  3. Having Jesus in our lives is more than just talk. We have to walk the walk. Be encouraged; all Christians must walk the walk, too. Let’s hold each other accountable.

Everything that happens to us has a spiritual purpose. Let’s use it to its full advantage. When people notice that we are different and ask us about it, let’s tell them that it’s Christ in us that is making the difference. If the Spirit is working in them, then they will ask more questions. If He is not, then we pray for them that He will begin soon to work in them, maybe even using our words and/or our lives to bring their hearts under conviction.

Steven Curtis Chapman sings,

You can run with the big dogs, you can fly with the eagles,
You can jump through all the hoops and climb the ladder to the top,
But, when it all comes down, you know it all comes down to the walk.

Abba, help us to walk the walk even as we talk the talk. I know it’s important for our lives to match our words. No double-standards here. Thank You for setting the example personally. By relying on Your Spirit all the time, I know we will succeed. Amen.

The Walk by Steven Curtis Chapman

Proverbs 10 6-10-21

How can a person tell if he is a Christian, which is a follower of Jesus Christ, His Spirit, and His teachings? #3

9 Whoever walks in integrity [according to God’s commands even when it’s just him and God] walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths [short cuts, hidden sins, old habits] will be found out [revealed to all].

How can we tell who the people of God are? Let’s look at it from an individual perspective. The first two points were:

  1. There was a point in time when Jesus came to you and prompted you to give Him your heart and life–and you did, holding nothing back.
  2. Your desires began to change:
    1. You desire the love, joy and peace that come from being in fellowship with Jesus;
    2. 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;
    3. 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 and spirit with everyone, and having self-control in all areas of your life.

Today, we will discuss how our habits change.

3. Your habits change. As you desire to walk with Christ and obey Him, He calls you to learn of Him. The best and most convenient way is by studying your Bible. He made sure you had a copy by speaking the words, overseeing them written down by a faithful follower, preserving those words for two millennia, having them painstakingly translated into your language, and faithfully copied and produced as the Bible you now have. Don’t take it for granted.

  • Prayer becomes vital to you. It’s a conversation that begins as you get up and continues all day until you go to sleep. Things that make you ignore the Spirit, like explicit movies, graphic video games, risqué books, and pornographic material, no longer have the hold on you they once did. You now see them as fellowship-breakers, and your communion with the Lord holds a higher value. Christ means more to you than any of these things. Being a pure and clean vessel (conduit) in order for Christ to flow through you to others becomes your highest priority. Being in constant conversation with Jesus is your new way of life.
  • We begin to desire to meet with the family of God. We meet with other Christians and share experiences, what we are learning, and talk about Him. We meet for worship, prayer, fellowship, and learning (discipleship). We read the Word together, we sing songs together, we eat together, and we pray together and for each other. This fellowship goes beyond the color of our skin, our heritage, gender, politics, preferences and social status. We become a new race (Galatians 3:28, Ephesians 2:15, 1 Peter 2:10, 9).

Habits take about three weeks to become ingrained. If this process of changing your habits seems intimidating or overwhelming, just commit for 21 days. We can endure anything for three weeks, right? Let’s read His Word every day. Jesus said, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11), and, “People don’t live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3). Let’s pray by opening up that conversation first thing in the morning and not closing it until we go to sleep that night, and let’s commit to meeting with the family of God on a regular basis. It’s worth it!

Abba, may my readers come to a full and complete knowledge of what it means to walk with You daily in step with the Spirit. The fellowship we share, the insights You bring to our awareness, and the opportunities to join You where You are working are what Christianity is all about! Keep growing us, Lord. We want to be like Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 10 5-10-21

The joy of serving Christ grows over time as we get to know Him personally. It’s the secret in the sauce.

24 What the wicked dread will overtake them; what the righteous desire will be granted.

This morning, Robin and I will go to a memorial service for a dear friend, Linda Free. Linda was the wife of Tommy, with whom I worked in Wichita Falls, TX. Linda had a heart as big as Texas. Her motto was, “We just need to love them where they’re at” (best southern accent). And she meant it! After many years of physical struggle, she is now whole and complete in the presence of the Lord. Her race is won and she is enjoying the fruit of a life of serving the Lord Jesus.

How much do you desire to know Jesus? Are you interested in finding out what He likes and what saddens His heart? Do you crave His presence and participation in your life? The answer to this question will tell us whether we have made Him Lord of our lives or not. Let’s take time this morning to reflect on our relationship with Christ. Do we dread spending time with Him or is it the highlight of our day? Let’s renew our relationship with Jesus today.

Abba, I want You to be my Lord and Friend. Thank You for making such a relationship possible. That You would want a personal relationship with me in the first place is amazing! May I never take You for granted. May I carry over this desire for a deeper relationship into my marriage, my relationships with my children and grandchildren, and even with my friends and prayer partners. Connect us, Lord, with Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Proverbs 10 4-10-21

Dying to self and living for Christ is at the heart of Christianity. Why? Let’s take a look.

13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning…14 The wise store up knowledge…

As we continue to consider the ramifications of the New Covenant, let’s look at the roots of this “New” Covenant.

…the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made. Revelation 13:8

Why was Christ slaughtered as a Lamb before God made mankind? So that the law would be in place that sin would kill us. What?! Sin needed to kill us in order for Christ to raise us!

14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that those who live would no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose on their behalf. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

God Himself told Adam and Eve what would happen if/when they sinned, “…for the day you eat of it you shall surely die [spiritually].” Genesis 2:17. This law was put in place to keep us from being eternally separated from God. Who is eternally separated from God? Satan and his followers. They cannot be saved because the law of Christ does not apply to them. They are eternally living their rebellion because outside of time, the “time” is ever-present. All of a sudden, the passage in Hebrews 3:7-19 and, specifically, verse 13 make sense:

13 But encourage one another every day, as long as it is still called “today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 

As long as we (humans) are in the timeline of life, we have the opportunity to receive the salvation of Christ. Once death happens, there is no more “time” for salvation, “And just as it is destined for people to die once, and after this comes judgment,” Hebrews 9:27.

How do we apply the knowledge that we have died with Christ? Paul tells us in Romans 6:4, “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Tomorrow, we will look more into our death and resurrection in Christ. For today, let’s contemplate God’s wondrous plan and His immense love for us and how we may live a new life in and for Him.

Abba, You are truly wonderful! Your plan has always been for us to be at Your side. Thank You for making it happen through Christ Jesus. May I never take for granted the lengths You had to go to be resident in us by way of Your Holy Spirit. May You not be just resident, but President in our lives. Amen.

Proverbs 3-10-21

A Ready Guide to Worship

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence [it’s a heart issue].

Worship is different than praise and thanksgiving. We praise the Lord and give thanks to His holy name. Worship is a response to His Spirit speaking to us. It requires “listening ears” that we can only get when our hearts are tuned to Him. I love the first verse of Come Thou Fount, which reads, “Come, thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace.” Somewhere in a service, we need to move from talking about God to talking TO Him. When we acknowledge Him, His Spirit speaks to us in the music, the prayers, the sermon, and the invitation. It’s important for us to move from praise to worship.

Here are some guidelines for encouraging worship:

  1. Tune your heart to sing His praise. Singing our faith and our intention helps us focus on Him. I know somewhere down the line, men have gotten the idea that it’s okay for them not to sing–wrong! Tell that to King David, or Jesus. They both sang. Men, we need to model true praise and worship by singing to the Lord. Perfection is not necessary; just a willing heart.
  2. “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever.” List in your mind everything that comes to mind for which you are thankful. Be sure to include His attributes and His love, His greatness and His goodness. Allow yourself to be carried along by the music and the flow of the service.
  3. Keep something handy on which to take notes during the sermon. The Lord highlights things for us; when He does, make a note. Expect God to speak to you through your pastor–whether in agreement or in rebuttal. Try to see from his perspective, which includes age, temperament, history, and education.
  4. Keep comments to others, whether by mouth or phone, to a minimum and make sure to not say anything negative about what is being said. If you have a question or disagreement, jot it down for another time. Pray about it; study on it; discuss the topic, but not the disagreement. It’s important to not defame anyone. Stay away from disparaging* and caustic** remarks. Instead, PRAY.
  5. Don’t “check out” during the invitation i.e. packing up your things getting ready to go, checking your phone for messages, etc. Instead, pray for God to move in hearts–especially yours! Now is a great time to hear from Him as we lay our hearts and lives before Him in an attitude of humility.

God is speaking to His Church. What is He saying? “He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to His church” Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22.

“Speak, LORD, Your servant is listening.” These words were spoken by Samuel the first time he heard Your voice. I am sure that he spoke them many times in his life. How can I be so sure? Because I speak them often, as well. May I never impose my will over Yours. Twice lately, I have misheard You and have been corrected and then mildly rebuked. No worries; I consider them as training. I now know better how to hear Your voice. I have learned that when there is a question, don’t go any further until I am sure of Your answer even if I miss an opportunity to do or say something. “When in doubt, don’t.” I’m learning, Lord. I’m only 60. When I’m 80, maybe You’ll call me like You did Moses. If You do, then I am sure You will equip me with everything I need to do Your will. In the meantime, keep training me, Lord. Amen.

*disparaging-tending to belittle or bring reproach upon.
**caustic-capable of burning, corroding, or destroying living tissue; severely critical or sarcastic.

Proverbs 10 2-10-21

The goal of discipleship is reproduction: The making of new disciples who will in turn make new disciples, etc.

1 A wise son brings joy to his father…
5 He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son…
8 The wise in heart accept commands…
11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life…
13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning…
16 The wages of the righteous is life…
20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver…
21 The lips of the righteous nourish many…
31 From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom…

From “The Master Plan of Evangelism” by Robert Coleman
There is no use to pray for the world. What good would it do? God already loves them and has given his Son to save them. No, there is no use to pray vaguely for the world. The world is lost and blind in sin. The only hope for the world is for men to go to them with the Gospel of salvation, and having won them to the Savior, not to leave them, but to work with them faithfully, patiently, painstakingly, until they become fruitful Christians savoring the world about them with the Redeemer’s love.
Here finally is where we must all evaluate the contribution that our life and witness is making to the supreme purpose of Him who is the Savior of the world. Are those who have followed us to Christ now leading others to him and teaching them to make disciples like ourselves? Note, it is not enough to rescue the perishing, though this is imperative; nor is it sufficient to build up newborn babies in the faith of Christ, although this too is necessary if the first fruit is to endure; in fact, it is not sufficient just to get them out winning souls, as commendable as this work may be. What really counts in the ultimate perpetuation of our work is the faithfulness with which our converts go out and make leaders out of their converts, not simply more followers. Surely we want to win our generation for Christ, and to do it now, but this is not enough. Our work is never finished until it has assured its continuation in the lives of those redeemed by the Evangel. (pages 109-110)
The test of any work of evangelism thus is not what is seen at the moment, or in the Conference Report, but in the effectiveness with which the work continues in the next generation. Similarly the criteria upon which a church should measure its success is not how many new names are added to the role nor how much the budget is increased, but rather how many Christians are actively winning souls and training them to win the multitudes. The ultimate extent of our witness is what matters, and for this reason values can only be measured by eternity.
This is the new evangelism we need. It is not better methods, but better men – men who know their Redeemer from something more than hearsay – men who see his vision and feel his passion for the world – men who are willing to be nothing in order that He might be everythingmen who want only for Christ to produce His life in and through them according to His good pleasure. This finally is the way the Master planned for his objective to be realized on the earth, and where it is carried through by his strategy, the gates of hell cannot prevail against the evangelization of the world. (pages 113-114)

This book sounds like something we need today–yet, it was written in 1963. What happened? Did we not heed the warning? How come our entire church calendar is not structured around discipleship toward evangelism and more discipleship? How well do we know our Lord? How well do we WANT TO? Are we really on board with His plan? In case we think that Jesus was introducing something new, we have these illustrations from the Old Testament:

  1. The birth of Israel through Abraham and Sarah–Each son had children, who had children, who had children, etc. until Israel was a mighty nation, so great in number that the Egyptians were threatened by them (Exodus 1:6-12).
  2. Daniel’s dream of the rock that grew into a mountain that filled the whole world (Daniel 2:35).
  3. The water coming out from under the threshold of the temple in Ezekiel’s vision that grew to be a great river that turned the salt water of the Dead Sea into fresh water (Ezekiel 47:1-12).

From Jesus Himself, we have these parables:

  1. The mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32) that starts as the smallest of seeds, yet grows to become a tree.
  2. The yeast in the dough (Matthew 13:33) that works its way into sixty pounds of flour.

As we can see, God’s plan all along was for us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. Here’s the plan:

  1. We learn- There are some great resources out there to help us learn a good strategy; the best one is the Bible!
  2. We pray- Our ongoing relationship with the Father through the Son in the Spirit is how we connect with Him; with us connected to Him, He can then use us to connect with others. He will lead us to each person to whom He wants us to share.
  3. We initiate- Whether it’s a text, a call, or a visit, we seek out that person.
  4. We share- Our story is our best evangelistic tool. They want to know what is so special about Jesus. Well, we know Him personally and enjoy His love, joy, peace, hope and grace! Now, THAT’S worth sharing!
  5. We strive- Rarely does a person respond to the Gospel the first time he hears it (the average is seven times before a decision is made). We simply continue to pray, initiate and share short examples of God’s amazing grace in our lives. God will bring the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Jesus gave a parable about increasing our investments, The Bags of Gold in Matthew 25:14-30. Jesus expects obedience. When will we learn that salvation is not about us, but about His glory? Let’s make it all about Him, shall we?

Abba, You know that I am thankful for my salvation; I know that when my heart beats in sympathetic rhythm with Yours that I find myself consumed with spreading the Gospel. The question that runs through my mind constantly is, what is best going to spread the Gospel: Me going out or me training others? May You give me opportunities to train others even as I go out in Your name and Your power, under Your orders and Your protection. Let’s go, Abba! Amen.

Proverbs 10 1-10-21

Let’s let NOTHING distract us or deter us from worshiping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, today. He is our EVERYTHING.

1 A wise child brings joy to his father…blessings crown the head of the righteous…the wages of the righteous is life…the lips of the righteous nourish many…the way of the LORD is a refuge for the blameless. vs 6, 16, 21, 29

What we are zealous about reveals who we truly worship.
Zealous– intensely devoted, eager, or enthusiastic; that which dominates our conscious thought.

Today, as we enter into our time of worship, whether at church or at home, may we consider about whom we are zealous. There are really only three choices: One is our heavenly Father, another is Satan, who is the god of this world, and the third is ourselves–which really is worshiping Satan because we live in rebellion against the heavenly Father (see Ephesians 2:1-3). Here’s what Jesus was zealous about,

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” “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!” John 12:23, 27

Jesus was all about going to the cross for us. Why? So that He could break the power that sin and death had on our lives, so He could send His Spirit to live in our hearts, and so He could give us eternal life (beginning the moment His Spirit entered our lives). Now, tell me, are you THANKFUL?!!!

The only condition that the Holy Spirit deems worthy of entry into our lives is complete surrender and devotion. There must be a time in our lives when we pledged allegiance to our Lord and Savior, a total giving over of control of our lives to Him. For all time. There are those who trusted Christ to save them from their sins, but never gave Him their lives. It is my opinion that He is still standing at the threshold of their hearts waiting for two things: One is the deed to their lives, and the other is the Master key to every room in their hearts. What we are talking about is fealty, which is an old English term for the pledge of the people to their king. Everything about their lives was then controlled by him and dedicated to his service.

If every person who went to church (or watched online) were a Christian (a close follower of Christ, a true disciple), then why is the percentage of them who read their Bibles at least four times a week only 3%?

3% said they read the Bible four or more times a week,
10% said they read it “several times,”
and 9% said they read it once a week.

2020 State of the Bible

Is the Bible not our instruction manual for godly living? Is it not the source of who God is, His plan for humanity, and the account of our salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ? If we think we can please God without reading His Word, then we are confused and deceived or downright rebellious. God thought enough of us and His Plan to write it down for us to have in black and white. We don’t have to take anyone’s word for it; it’s there for us to read for ourselves! Not only that,

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

As we enter into our worship time today, let’s consider how God instructs us to come before Him:

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7

Abba, as I stand before my congregation, may I be the Lead Worshiper rather than the Worship Leader. May I be the first to come to You in humility recognizing who You are and the high honor we have to even come before You! May I lead the people in praise, in testimony, and in prayer, O LORD, as we pledge ourselves to You and renew our devotion to You. May Your Holy Spirit bind our hearts together; may He speak to each of us encouraging us, consoling us, and urging us to stay in Your presence all week long, listening to Your voice, and following Your commands. We are Yours, heavenly Father. We follow You, Lord Jesus. We comply with Your prompting, Holy Spirit. We worship You in the splendor of Your holiness (Psalm 96:9). Amen.

Proverbs 10 12-10-20

The point of Christmas is the Coming of God to earth in human form, the form of a baby. What was the point of His Coming?

23 A fool finds pleasure in wicked [his own] schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.

Hallmark Movies hit all around the true message of Christmas–even portraying the manger scene with shepherds and wisemen–but leave out the real reason for gift-giving. The reason gifts are given at Christmas is to honor the Gift given to us that Christmas day, which was “a Savior who is Christ [Messiah] the Lord.” Jesus’ Mission–His subsequent life, ministry, death, burial, resurrection and ascension–is the point of His coming. The Gift He brings to us is the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

For us non-Jews, it is difficult to understand the importance of the sacrifice made by Christ the WAY Christ made it. Suffice it to say that it was important for Christ to die a certain way, at a certain time, and in a certain sequence. Let’s get a general view from Peter in his first sermon:

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” Acts 2:22-24

What we see here is the PLAN of God for Christ to die for the sins of the world. What ELSE we see here is Jesus defeating death for us. That’s HUGE! What else did Peter say?

32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.

There were many witnesses to the resurrected Christ. They saw Him ascend to heaven where He is seated at the right hand of God, and He has sent the promised Holy Spirit (see Ezekiel 36:26-27, and Joel 2:28-29). What does this testimony mean to both Jews and non-Jews? Peter tells us:

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

Jesus fills the offices of both Priest and King. He is our Priest who presented Himself as the Sacrifice for us, and He is our King because we have received Him as such. We have the kingdom of God in our hearts through His Holy Spirit, of which Jesus is Supreme Ruler.

Let’s spread the Good News of His wonderful Gift this Christmas when we give gifts to others. Consider printing, reading, or saying,

“I present you with this gift to remind us of the amazing gift
that God gave us through Jesus Christ, the gift of eternal life in Him.”

Peter finishes his sermon with a call to repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38-39). May we have opportunities to give the same call to our loved ones and other people in our lives.

Abba, may we make Christmas about You and the Gift You gave us in Jesus. May Your Spirit convict of sin, which brings repentance, and inspire many to give their lives to You. Amen.

Proverbs 10 11-10-20

God is love–but He is also God of justice. His rebuke can lay waste to nations; He lays bare our very lives! Hebrews 4:12-13, 14-16 (I always include 14-16 because of the context–it’s not as dire as one might think)

24 What the wicked dread [God] will overtake them; what the righteous desire [God] will be granted.
29 The way of the LORD is a refuge for the blameless [those in Christ], but it is the ruin of those who do evil [go their own way].

As I was reading Jeremiah, I came upon this verse:

Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps. Discipline me, LORD, but only in due measure–not in Your anger, or You will reduce me to nothing. Jeremiah 10:23-24

Jeremiah lives 600+ years before Christ came, yet he knew God intimately. In fact, God chose him to serve Him before Jeremiah was even born and called him to serve as a prophet at a young age (Jeremiah 1:4-10). Jeremiah’s relationship was built upon the Old Covenant. Ours is different. Let’s look at those differences:

Old Covenant- Listen to the terms of this covenant and follow them. From the time I brought your ancestors up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, ‘Obey Me.’ But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts.” Jeremiah 11:6-8. The OC is built upon obedience, but people still had evil hearts.

New Covenant- If you love me, keep my commands.” “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:23-26 The NC is built upon obedience, too, but now, we have the Spirit of God living in us! Also, we have changed hearts, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezekiel 36:26-27. Jeremiah put it this way, “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” Jeremiah 24:7.

What else did Jeremiah say?

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again [in the church], and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt [through the church].” Jeremiah 31:3-4

“This is the [new] covenant I will make with the people of Israel [and all who believe] after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Jeremiah 31:33

“This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it–the LORD is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'” Jeremiah 33:2-3

Folks, that’s the LORD calling us! Let’s answer today. Read His Word. Call on His name. Obey His commands. Be full of inexpressible joy!

Abba, I take great comfort and get downright excited when I read in the Old Testament what you were going to do in the New Covenant! It blows me away to think of the scope of Your love and Your plans for humanity. I want to be a part of Your story, LORD. How may I help? I will be walking right alongside You today. Just let me know. Amen.

Proverbs 10 10-10-20

We tend to make spending time with God about us giving to Him–when it’s really the other way around!

2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness [righteous treasure] delivers from death.

What are “ill-gotten treasures”? Anything gained for our own glory, security, or pleasure; when it’s all about “me.”

What are “righteous treasures”? Any blessing from the LORD (v6), security gained by integrity (v9), knowledge (concerning the LORD) shared (v11, 13), love that covers all wrongs (v12), discipline that leads to life in Christ (v17), understanding gained through godly wisdom (v23), granted desire (v24 and Psalm 37:4), the fear of the LORD (v.27), JOY (v28), and REFUGE (v29).

We GET much more than we GIVE.

Our heavenly Father wants to spend time with us so that He can shower us with His blessings. Don’t believe me? Then read these verses:

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3

23 Repent at my rebuke!
I will pour out my thoughts [and heart] to you,
    I will make known to you my teachin
. Proverbs 1:23

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33-36

To skip reading His Word and spending quality time with the LORD is to severely short-change ourselves and will greatly hinder us as we try to serve Him in our own power–which, in reality, is sin because it’s in our power and not God’s. The only way to get God’s power is to be with Him in mind and heart–to actually be WITH Him in attention, focus and attitude. The GOAL is ALWAYS COMMUNION. Prayer and Bible study are the only two ways I know to get me where I want to be, which is in a state of awareness of His Presence in me and His Participation in my life.

Let’s give ourselves the best chance we can to live with and for Him by reading the Scriptures today, and then conforming to the Spirit’s will and obeying His commands as we go though this day.

Abba, I pray that You will teach us how to be good students of Your Word. It’s a day-by-day/play-by-play decision on our part to subdue our own nature and allow You to rise in our hearts and take Your throne there. Help us to get beyond our personal feelings and focus on what is the RIGHT thing to do in accordance to Your leadership in our lives and hearts. I know that the Scriptures contain all of the basic ingredients that You want us to have in order for You to make us righteous and holy, complete and mature. May we become less and You become MORE in our lives, LORD Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 10 9-10-20

Those who are in Christ Jesus have passed from death to life in Him. Let’s learn all we can about our heavenly Father.

1 A wise son [child] brings joy to his father…
2 …righteousness delivers from [all kinds of] death.

3 The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry [esp. spiritually]…
4 …diligent hands bring [spiritual as well as physical] wealth.
17 Whoever heeds discipline [learning the disciplines] shows [others] the way to life…
23 …a person of understanding delights in wisdom.
28 The prospect [end result] of the righteous is joy
31 From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom…
32 The lips of the righteous know what finds favor [what pleases the LORD]…

The fear that Christians have for their heavenly Father is based upon who He is: Supreme Ruler of the Universe. Upon reading the accounts of those who have spent time in His literal presence (Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1, Daniel 7-8), I have come to recognize that being in His “physical” presence is terrifying! But, we need not worry; His children are safe with Him. At the same time, we must come to terms with His glory in our lives. Do we want that glory to shine through us? If so, then we must take seriously the fear of the LORD.

By taking seriously the fear of the LORD, we would:

  1. Always fall on our knees (metaphorically if not literally) every morning in repentance, confession, and alignment.
  2. Always consider Him by asking His opinion, which is His will, concerning every matter, even every word we speak–or are about to…
  3. Never think that we have the right to do anything, except, that which is governed by the Holy Spirit and the law of grace.
  4. Always have an attitude of thankfulness for what we have, gratefulness for what He has done, and hopefulness as we look ahead to what the LORD has in store for us.

By taking seriously the fear of the LORD, we:

  1. Live in a constant state of awareness of His presence and, therefore, His scrutiny. Our desire is to please Him in every way (I know there is a tension here; we will talk about that tension another day).
  2. Look for where He may be working and ask to join Him there.
  3. Love everyone-some from a distance that we must keep because of their bad choices, and some close up and personal, but all according to the love that Jesus has for all people. He died for them, you know.

These axioms are all based upon the Word of God, i.e. the Bible. Our heavenly Father has placed literally in our hands His written words to us to make our lives simpler and easier. Do you like simple and easy? I sure do! At the same time, He offers us in the Bible depths of insights of which we can never reach the bottom! Why would we not take advantage of so great a resource?!!!

Let’s read His Word today and listen for Him to speak to us. It really is that simple.

Abba, thank You for Your written Word. You really have made it simple and easy for us. I exult in what I learn about You from You. When I read Psalm 19:7-9, I glory in Your law, statutes, precepts, commands, decrees, and the fear and awe I have of You. I find Your Word perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, firm, and righteous. They refresh my soul, make me wise, give me joy, allow me to see, give me endurance, and make me righteous. You call to me and I answer. You are a good, good Father. May I be just like You. Amen.

Proverbs 10 8-10-20

What are you eager to do? What floats your boat? What gets you up in the morning? Is it pleasing Jesus? It is the key unifying factor of ALL Christians. Our desire to do good is the key to today’s entire chapter.

3 The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry, but He thwarts the craving of the wicked.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6. Is righteousness our goal? If not, then we need to check with the LORD and make sure that we are truly His. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” 2 Corinthians 13:5. 

We all slip back into old habits and routines, so let’s add a couple of words to this verse: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are [walking] in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is [president] in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” Once Christ saves us, we are positionally seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). It is our relationship, our fellowship, with Him that is contingent upon our willingness to die to ourselves everyday and live for Him.

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14 (great memory passage!)

If you’re like me, part of me WANTS to live for Him while another part of me balks at the labor involved. It’s HARD WORK serving Christ! The good thing is that His Spirit within us gives us both the DESIRE and the POWER to do His will:

12 Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe [fear] and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ). 13 [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the desire and power], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. Philippians 2:12-13 AMP

NOTE: Be sure to make notes in your Bible concerning these verses. In most versions, the translation can be misleading.

Concerning our chapter for today, are we EAGER to:

  • Bring joy to our heavenly Father (1)?
  • Have diligent hands (4, 5)?
  • Use our mouths to spread righteousness (6, 11, 31, 32)?
  • Accept His commands (8)?
  • Walk in integrity, doing what pleases Him when only HE is watching (9)?
  • Cover all wrongs with love (12)?
  • Store up knowledge (14)?
  • Heed discipline (17)?
  • Speak the truth in love (18, 19, 20)?
  • Find no pleasure in wicked schemes–even in jest (23)?
  • Fear the LORD in reverence and awe (27)?
  • be joyful at the prospect of living for Jesus (28)?
  • Run to Jesus for refuge (29)?

Let me ask again, what are you eager to do? Is it to please the LORD? Then, I’ll let you get back to your Bible study! I’m headed back in, myself!

Abba, may we meet with You in Your Word today. May Your Spirit speak to us as we read Your words. May You open our minds to Your righteousness and truth. Then, help us to discern opportunities to put our new-found knowledge to good use. Increase our eagerness, O LORD! Set us on fire for You (I think that’s called revival)! May Your fire fall on us today. So be it!