Proverbs 11-11-22

Want to be daring? Give God permission to search your heart and mind. It is quite revealing!

20 But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously,
Who tests the feelings and the heart (mind), Jeremiah 11:20
But You, O Lord, know me [and understand my devotion to You];
You see me; and You examine the attitude of my heart toward You. Jeremiah 12:3
AMP

Yesterday, we looked at Psalm 73. Today, we will look at Psalm 139, particularly the last two verses,

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

There are several exercises I do with verses. One is to look at several different translations. That one was the NIV. Here are some others:

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
Put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there is any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
NASB

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts![a]
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting![b
] ESV

a. Psalm 139:23 Or cares
b. Psalm 139:24 Or in the ancient way (compare Jeremiah 6:16)

The Amplified Version says, “Search me thoroughly…” As we can see, there are several adverbs and adjectives that can be interchanged.

Another exercise I like is to substitute as many other fitting subjects that can help me be more godly (like God), such as, “Search.” I might substitute, “scrutinize,” “study,” examine,” or even “refine.” Each word adds a texture or layer to the verse. “Anxious” is another good one. I might substitute, “worrisome,” “doubting,” “stressed,” “overloaded,” or even “duplicitous!” We could do the same with “hearts,” “know,” “thoughts,” “see,” “lead” and “everlasting way.”

Tomorrow, we will deal with “grievous,” “hurtful, and “offensive.”

Abba, each morning when I read these verses, I am aware of You, Your love, and Your care. I want to be just like You, and the only way I know how is to allow You to know and command my thoughts and ways. “Have Thine own way, Lord, have Thine own way.” Amen.

Proverbs 11 10-11-22

Life’s hard; we need a Guide. Enter: the Holy Spirit. He is our Counselor, Guide, Friend and Advocate.

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

When I was traveling with my musical group called “Matthew,” I would occasionally be asked to sign an autograph (woohoo!). After butchering my name (I’m left-handed), I would put the Scripture reference, Colossians 1:28-29, which says,

28 We proclaim Him, teaching and admonishing everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

This passage seemed like a good “ministry” verse–little did I know that it would become the basis for my ministry!

  1. We proclaim Jesus: His eternal existence, His incarnation, His life and ministry, His death and resurrection, and His ascension and imminent return.
  2. Teaching and admonishing (leading in worship) are the main ingredients in my ministry.
  3. All wisdom? I consider that phrase to mean that I have the Word of God in my hands, in my head, and in my heart.
  4. “Fully mature in Christ” is what happens when we allow the Spirit to lead us in our daily walk. It takes time, and we will not ever be perfect this side of heaven, but even the term, “perfect,” means, “complete, well-rounded, mature.” It can even mean, “without fault or blemish,” which falls right in with Ephesians 5:27 and Jude 24, when He presents us to His Father.

Verse 29 describes the best way to serve the Lord. It’s not in our power, but in the Lord’s power. If we look back at verse 11, we find, “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might…” Learning how to lean on His strength rather than our own usually comes through difficult circumstances and hard times. Paul describes the process aptly in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10,

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What Paul doesn’t tell us is how difficult it is to not act out of anger, to keep the filters on our thoughts and our mouths, and to not quit even when we feel lousy physically and about ourselves. Actually, those are the times when we need to lean on Him the most.

I’m still learning this lesson.

Abba, I hate having to apologize, yet, that “weakness” is when You are strong in my life. May I learn the lesson of John the Baptizer, “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30). Amen.

Proverbs 11 9-11-22

Evolution would have us think that we are nothing more than animals. God wants us to know we are special!

Psalm 8:3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? 5 You have…crowned them with glory and honor. 6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;

Continuing our look at the Baptist Faith & Message, we turn now to mankind.

III. Man

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

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

Want to know how God feels about us? check this out:

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

but God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. Romans 11:32

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

The finished work on the cross says that salvation is available to everyone (Titus 2:11). All we have to do is accept it and receive Him. It’s not about getting to heaven, but heaven getting to us via His Holy Spirit. We need Him in order to walk victoriously through this life and to become like our big Brother, Jesus.

Folks, it doesn’t get any plainer than that! Here’s what it all boils down to:

12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:12

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would appropriate Your mercy and grace by receiving Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and then walking with Him daily. Jesus, You make life better (by giving us Your life) and You make us better at life (as we walk in and with the Spirit). Amen.

Proverbs 11 7-11-22

Knowing the Bible doesn’t make a person a Christian; knowing Jesus Christ makes a person a Christian.

14 For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers. We find many in the Bible.

My first question I would like to ask people who put a lot of emphasis on knowing the Bible is, “Do you use the Bible to have a conversation with the God of the Bible?” The Bible wasn’t written as a textbook, but as verification of the historicity of Jesus. The point is to know Jesus. If we don’t find Christ in the pages of Scripture, then we have missed the point of the Bible. Consider:

  1. Much of the Old Testament is a history book.
  2. A good portion of it is poetry.
  3. A large part of it is prophecy, all pointing to the Messiah, who is Jesus.
  4. The New Testament begins with four biographies of Jesus.
  5. Acts is a history book.
  6. The rest of it are letters to various churches of that time.

As we can see, there’s not anything that was written directly to us. We derive pertinent information from what was said to the audience of that day. Because it wasn’t written specifically to us, we need the Holy Spirit to help us interpret and apply what we read. Even then, the Spirit is not an means to an end; He IS our Endgame. The Spirit of Jesus lives in us and wants to communicate with us all the time! We use the Bible as our means to that end. Let’s read it for good (spiritual) health.

Abba, thank You for supplying us with written evidence of Your participation in our history. Thank You for those who wrote down the life and teachings of Jesus. May we use what we have at our disposal to learn more about You and to communicate with You. We live in an unprecedented age of knowledge; may we use it to our full advantage as Your Spirit guides us and teaches us along the way. Amen.

Proverbs 11 6-11-22

We can learn a lot about God from His question to Cain: “Cain, where is your brother?”

17:17 A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

Cain’s reply was, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” I’m not sure that Cain was ready for God’s reply to his question:

“What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” Genesis 4:10

Evidently, Cain WAS his brother’s keeper. In fact, if there’s one thing I draw from Jesus’ teachings is that we are to treat each other as He treats us. How does Jesus treat us? “Not as our sins deserve” (Psalm 103:10). He never has and He never will. It’s what the cross was all about. Follow this progression,

25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25

34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

Want to know how God replied? It’s recorded in Psalm 22:31, “Done!” (paraphrase)

The verse about God having mercy upon whom He wants to have mercy is about Romans 11:32,

32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

Now, it’s a matter of showing people His grace. What’s the best way to do that? By demonstrating grace.

“…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:44

21 Then Peter approached him with the question, “Master, how many times can my brother wrong me and I must forgive him? Would seven times be enough?” 22 “No,” replied Jesus, “not seven times, but seventy times seven! Matthew 18:21-22

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Romans 12:14

Most important of all, love each other deeply, because love makes you willing to forgive many sins. 1 Peter 4:8

And the clincher:

34-36 “Then the king will say to those on his right ‘Come, you who have won my Father’s blessing! Take your inheritance—the kingdom reserved for you since the foundation of the world! For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was lonely and you made me welcome. I was naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you came and looked after me. I was in prison and you came to see me there.” Matthew 25:34-36 “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ v.40

How we treat others reveals what we think about God and about ourselves. Right thinking leads to godliness (being like God). Jesus wants us to be like Him. Instead of focusing on being right, let’s focus on how to love one another deeply.

Abba, may I take my own advice and let loving others be my focus. I don’t have to be right; I just need to do right, and to do that, I need to think right. Help me transform my mind daily, O Lord, and teach me to love like You. Amen.

Proverbs 11 5-11-22

Supernatural power on the outside = miracles. Supernatural power on the inside = martyrs.

11:29 The way of the LORD is a refuge for the blameless, but it is the ruin of those who do evil.

There are many ways that we still think like our old selves rather than with the mind of Christ. One way is that we still think we can live the Christian life under our own power. We were never meant to even try! It is the interaction with the Spirit of God that gives us first the want-to, and then power to live godly lives,

13 For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13 (Amplified Version)

Paul talked about this freedom in Christ to put off our old selves and put on our new selves. Let’s read it:

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

In Romans 13:14, it says, 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” The idea is to stop thinking in our old, deceived ways and start thinking like Jesus. It requires surrender. The process of surrender is not as hard as we might think. It means that whenever we have a question, feel the tension, or are tempted, we step back mentally and ask, “Lord, what am I to do with this situation?” The giving over of ourselves to Him in that moment is exactly the interaction for which He was hoping with all mankind! At that point, He will either empower us outwardly to be a sign unto unbelievers of the power of God, or He will empower us inwardly to endure with grace and humility anything that comes our way (which, too, is a sign unto unbelievers).

In the words of a favorite song of mine,

Sometimes He calms the storm,
With a whisper, “Peace, be still,” but it doesn’t mean He will;
Sometimes He holds us tight
and lets the wind and waves go wild;
Sometimes He calms the storm and other times He calms His child.

Abba, thank You that in either way we have Your promise to never leave us or forsake us. In fact, we are never closer to You and You to us than when we are in difficult circumstances. You’re awesome, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 11 4-11-22

John 3:16 is just the tip of the iceberg to understanding all that Jesus came to do.

8:20 I [wisdom] walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, 21 bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me and making their treasuries full.

Yesterday, we looked at the verses previous to John 3:16. Today we will look at the verses immediately following. As we look at context, let’s remember that this famous verse comes after the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, a religious leader. John 3:16 is a conclusion and explanation for why God came to earth as Jesus. For further explanation, let’s look at the following verses along with verse 16.

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

Here is the crux of the reason for His coming. Jesus came to save the world through His being lifted up (see vs.14-15). What does it take? Believing (trusting) in Jesus. What happens to those who don’t?

18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 

So, there is a problem. We are stuck in death-mode and can’t get out. Just like the people who were bitten by the snakes (see Numbers 21:8-9) and chose to look at the snake on a pole, people who choose to look to Jesus are healed of death-mode. Those who choose to not look to Jesus are consigned to live in darkness without the light of life (see v.21). Jesus won’t force them to be healed (He has a strict non-interference policy concerning our free will).

19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 

God does not choose for us (remember the non-interference policy); we make the decision to live in the light or to turn away from the light and live in darkness.

21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

This description describes what it means to be “born again.” Just as a baby moves from the dark world of his mother’s womb to the light of the outside world, we move from darkness into the glorious light of the presence of God. To what truth is John referring? The truth of who Jesus is: God in the flesh, God with skin on. When we begin to act according to His direction, we experience His presence, participation, providence, protection, as well as His love, joy, peace, hope, grace, and His company!

One more thing, since Jesus is life, to walk with Jesus is to have eternal life. Tomorrow, we will look at the end of this chapter and its conclusion.

Abba, Your word is like a treasure chest; as we pull out treasures, there are more treasures waiting for us! “Open our eyes that we may see wondrous truths in Your word” (Psalm 119:18). Amen.

Proverbs 11 3-11-22

In order to know who Jesus is, we have to know Jesus. It’s really that simple. Why don’t we?

2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Yesterday, we talked about skewed images of Jesus. Here are some more:

Bodyguard god: prevents bad things from happening
On-demand god: honors fair and selfless requests
Boyfriend god: makes his presence known (you have to feel Him)
Guilt god: controls through guilt and fear
Anti-science god: forces trade of the undeniable for the unreliable (you can’t trust what the Bible says because it goes against science)
Gap god: becomes the explanation for the unexplainable (forcing God into a preconceived idea or explanation)
From: Who Needs God?

The point is that we will never know Jesus for who He is until we turn to Him and begin a personal relationship with Him. Know this: He is faithful and true. In fact, He is called Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11). What is He faithful to do? Forgive us. How do I know? Because He wouldn’t tell Peter to do it unless He Himself does it,

22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! Matthew 18:22
Note: Oral law required a person to forgive another person three times in a day. Peter asked Jesus if seven times was enough. Jesus replied, No, seventy-seven times or seventy times seven–per day (according to the translation you are using). The number is not as important as the lesson. Jesus used hyperbole to say that we are to forgive our brother EVERY time. Are we to keep boundaries? Yes, but we are to cancel the debt every time.

In Jesus’ case, He canceled the debt of everyone on the planet and in the timeline by dying on the cross. He broke the power of sin and death by rising again three days later. He calls everyone to follow Him by ascending back to His throne beside God the Father. We can only do that by getting to know Him and allowing Him to reveal Himself to us, the True Jesus. I think that you will find Him loving, peaceful, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and in control. We would do well to be just like Him.

Abba, I want to be just like You. Please continue to reveal Yourself to me as I grow in You. May I continue to read, study, and obey You as we walk through each day together. It’s what Christianity is really all about. Anything else is less that what You desire for us. Show us truth, O Lord. We’re hungry. Amen.

Proverbs 11 2-11-22

The idea of Jesus being just a good man or even just a prophet does not consider what He said about Himself.

18 The wicked earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.

Jesus didn’t pull any punches about who He was or why He was there. Let’s look:

40 But now you’re trying to kill me – me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God! That’s not what Abraham did. 
42 ‘If God really was your father,’ replied Jesus, ‘you would love me, because I came from God, and here I am. I didn’t come on my own initiative, you see, but he sent me.
John 8:40, 42

54 ‘If I do give myself glory,’ replied Jesus, ‘my glory is nothing. My father is the one who brings me glory – the one you say is “our God”; 55 and you don’t know him! I know him, though. If I were to say I didn’t know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him, and I keep his word. John 8:54-55

58 ‘I’m telling you the solemn truth,’ replied Jesus. ‘Before Abraham existed, I Am.’ John 8:58

This last one really got them. Jesus was assuming the title that God used when conversing with Moses. And, sure enough, they picked up stones to throw at Him (v.59), but it still wasn’t His time. He was headed to Passover to become the ultimate Passover lamb. Jesus loved us so much that He allowed evil men (representative of all mankind) to kill Him rather than give them what they deserve (that’s called grace–receiving what we need rather than what we deserve). It is through His grace that we receive His gift of life.

Abba, thank You for Your gift of life. I receive it, live in it, and will share it whenever and wherever I can. Amen.

Proverbs 11 1-11-22

How do the writers in the Bible tell time? How do we tell time? Is there a difference between the two? Yes!

7 When the wicked dies, his hope will perish, and the expectation of wealth perishes too [his death is coming; is it an event or at a certain hour?].

The Greek language uses two words for time: Kairos, which means, “event,” and Chronos, which stands for the literal time, as on a clock or watch. Whichever one is used indicates how the author intends for us to view his narration. The interesting part is that Kairos is used twice as much as Chronos, and is the cultural way of seeing time/events.

For instance, take Luke 2:6,

And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.

The Greek word, Kairos, is used here indicating that it was an event and not a specific time on a calendar. The NASB says, “the days were completed,” meaning that the baby was ready to be born. Parents wait for the event of the birth–although inducing the birth is common nowadays for convenience and necessity. In our Western minds, most of us heard the story of Jesus’ birth like this:

As Joseph and Mary came into Bethlehem, Joseph couldn’t find a place with any extra rooms. Mary was in labor, so they sought shelter in the barn of a gracious innkeeper.”

Hardly! Who would do that to his wife? Especially the mother of God? More than likely, they arrived in plenty of time with plenty of relatives–on the trip and in Bethlehem–to make room in the stable portion of the dwelling. Can’t we just see all the aunts and cousins running around cleaning and working hard to make a cozy and private place for Mary to give birth? It was quite an event.

Another example gives us a feeling of time, but is really an event. It’s found in Hebrews 9:27-28,

27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

It sounds like God has appointed a time for each person to die. That would be chronos. Actually, the culture would have us read it as kairos–an event. In other words, it is appointed unto mankind to die once physically–whenever that happens, after which comes judgment. The phrase, “a second time,” is wrapped up in one Greek word, deuterou, and also indicates an event. In fact, Jesus downplays the disciples’ question as to when He is returning,

36 “But of that day and hour [a specific time, as in chronos] no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Matthew 24:36

So, we must learn to take a step back when we read and consider the literal meaning of the text, which means that we look at who wrote it, when, where, to whom, and who translated it and what was their intent (an exact translation or a true meaning translation). Only then are we ready to read the text morally, which means to look at what the central idea of the text is. Finally, we are ready to deduce what the spiritual lesson is for us.

Abba, give us eyes to read and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to Your Bride, the Church–to us! I believe that You speak to us constantly and that Your Word helps us to tune in and discern what You are saying. Nevertheless, You abide in us and we in You so that we always have Fellowship with the Trinity. May we continue to cultivate the soil of our hearts; prepare us for a rich harvest, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 11 12-11-21

Jesus was more than a carpenter; He was a builder, a craftsman. It makes sense since He created the world!

24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more; 25 A generous person will prosper; 27 Whoever seeks good finds favor, 28 …the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

As we continue our look at Nazareth, we find that they had very normal lives, Joseph and his family included. While Joseph’s family was carpentry (Mark 6:3), most were farmers and were non-Roman in beliefs and traditions. Jesus’ family traveled to Jerusalem each year for Passover (Luke 2:41-52). The trade of carpentry also carried the duties of brick mason. Joseph and his sons, Jesus, James, Joseph, Simon and Judas (Matthew 13:55), most likely built houses and buildings. The nearby city of Sepphoris provided work for them.

Joseph was a builder [craftsman, artisan]– not [just] a carpenter, since there was little need for a carpenter in a small village, and wood was a luxury item. He probably had to travel to get jobs outside Nazareth, but there was plenty of work at the time, since Herod Antipas had recently redesigned and rebuilt the nearby town of Sepphoris. People of Nazareth

There were several events that happened in Nazareth:

  • Gabriel visited Mary and Joseph, respectively; a marriage occurred;
  • The family was warned not to stay close to Jerusalem (Bethlehem was considered close) when they came back from Egypt, so they went home to Nazareth (Matthew 2:22-23);
  • He was rejected in His hometown by claiming to be Messiah (Luke 4:14-30); they tried to throw Him off the town’s cliff, but Jesus walked right through them;
  • A demoniac in Capernaum referred to Jesus as “Jesus of Nazareth (Luke 4:34);” pretty specific, huh?

Jesus is referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth” another time,

35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.
42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Luke 18:35-42

Literal- In Mark 10:46, we find that the blind man’s name is Bartimaeus. There were actually two blind beggars and both were healed (Matthew 20:29-30), but only one is mentioned in Luke, and he is named only in Mark. Their persistence paid off. Jesus’ question is an obvious one, but it was important for the beggars to state their need and desire. Jesus obliged, and they followed Him into Jerusalem rejoicing. I’m sure that miracle caused quite a stir!

Moral- We all “see” ourselves in these blind men. Without the salve of the Holy Spirit, the scales that cover our eyes and blind us to the truth remain intact. All we have to do is state our need and desire to be healed by Jesus. When He does, we will go with Him, rejoicing along the way.

Spiritual- They called Him “Jesus, Son of David.” They could have derived their information from the fact that He was from Nazareth since that is where the royal line of David resided. Also, they likely heard about Jesus from passers-by and knew this was their big chance. Notice that they continued to cry out even when told to be quiet. Are we that desperate for healing? Do we even want to see spiritually? My answer is, YES! How about you? Daily application continues to give us a clearer vision of Jesus.

Joseph and Mary left Nazareth to go to Bethlehem to be counted, so tomorrow we travel to Bethlehem. Stay tuned…

Abba, the way You work in our ordinary lives is amazing. I think that You are constantly pulling off “minor” miracles in our lives. Even so, You let the normal course of our actions flow naturally. Even death doesn’t seem like a big deal to You–and I guess it isn’t. May we learn to trust You explicitly in all we do and in all that happens to us. I have faith that even what happens because of sin in this world You will take and “work it for good for those who love You and are called according to Your purpose” (Romans 8:28). The safest place to be is in the center of Your will, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 11 11-11-21

Reading the Bible 3-D isn’t necessarily hard; it’s just different because we’ve always read it a certain way.

2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom [I figured out that for me to not look at Scripture 3-D was because of my pride; I had to let it go and see what Jesus said about the Scriptures].

Yesterday (scroll down to read it), we talked about how to read the Bible 3-D: Literally, Morally and Spiritually. Let’s look at them again:

  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.

Here is Psalm 101 for our dissecting pleasure.

Psalm 101

I will sing of lovingkindness and justice,
To You, O Lord, I will sing praises.
I will give heed to the blameless way.
When will You come to me?
I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.
I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not fasten its grip on me.
A perverse heart shall depart from me;
I will know no evil.
Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy;
No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.
My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me;
He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.
He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house;
He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me.
Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land,
So as to cut off from the city of the Lord all those who do iniquity.

Literal- David is praising the Lord. He attests to his success in keeping the law and recounts yesterday’s successes in keeping his integrity according to the law. He commits to conscripting others into keeping the law. In many versions, it says, “I will slay sinners…” We must remember that David lived in a war-world. David did not usually make peace with the enemy; he conquered or killed them.

Moral- The things that David did in order to fulfill the law were not bad things. We would all do well to:

  1. Sing praise to the Lord.
  2. Lead a blameless (upright) life.
  3. Conduct our affairs with integrity.
  4. Not hold company with faithless people, those who run their mouths, nor those who practice deceit or lie.

Spiritual- Where is Jesus in the text? The law was everything to David. Even so, we find in his life that he was not always successful in keeping it (2 Samuel 11). Thus, Romans 3:25 comes into play, “through the law we become conscious of our sin.” We have the fulfillment of the law in Jesus Christ. He, through His in-dwelling Spirit, gives us the motivation and the wherewithal to accomplish such feats.

There is an overall theme here from which we can benefit. David talks about yesterday and then today. He is basically recounting yesterday’s successes and then committing to work on repeating those successes today. We would do well to recount yesterday’s successes and then commit ourselves to the Lord to hear His voice and be obedient to Him in order to have success today. Tomorrow, we do it again.

Reading the Bible literally is what we do most. We take it at face value, so to speak. Reading it morally is not uncommon for us. We ask, “How can this passage apply to my life?” But, reading it spiritually is not something we do on any regular basis. In this case, we had to determine that the law was important to David, which gave us something (in contrast) to apply. David’s not having the Spirit as we do is a big deal in how he hears God, perceives what God says, and how he interprets the message through his various filters (his raising, the times, his current position as king of Israel, as a warrior, etc). We, on the other hand, have the Spirit of Christ to teach us all things and Who will lead us into all truth. He is our Counselor and Guide.

It is evident that there are more layers of meaning in the Scriptures and we need to learn to find them. Reading the Bible literally, morally and spiritually is a great way to peel back the first two layers to that third layer. By the way, the passages get harder.

Abba, thank You that You are pleased, even delighted, with us. We no longer have to keep the letter of the law. If we are obedient to You as You lead us, then we keep the law that You wrote on our hearts, the law of love! Deepen us, Father. We want to see Jesus in every verse and every word. Amen.

Proverbs 11 10-11-21

The love of God for us is immense. Look at the lengths He went to get us back: Jesus and the cross!

8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble, and it falls on the wicked instead [because of their bad choices]. 19 Truly the righteous attain life [in Jesus], but whoever pursues evil finds death [because of their bad choices].

As we continue our study on the love of God, let’s look at one of my favorite passages–well, one of them, anyway. It is Galatians 2:20-21,

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

There are several truths to draw from this passage:

  1. Being crucified with Christ is both metaphoric and spiritual. It might be better to understand by saying that we died in Christ as Christ died for us. He is our Representative, our second Adam (Romans 5:15). Because of Jesus, we no longer need to be afraid of death (1 Corinthians 15:56-57).
  2. Christ lives in us. We are His temple, mobile temples, at that.
  3. Now that we know Christ, we build our whole lives around Him. The Holy Spirit never sleeps, and we have Him living in us. We are to be honing in on His voice and promptings so that we will be successful when it comes to godly living. His desires are our desires. The faith mentioned is our belief that Jesus holds the best plan for our lives, both here and in eternity.
  4. He loves us! It’s in past tense because it is talking about before the cross. We know He loves us because of what He did for us. God died on the cross through Jesus to show His love for us.
  5. Grace is what we are given in our time of need. Mercy, too, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  6. The Law was designed to show us our need for a Savior. If it could save, then Jesus never needed to come to earth and make a way back to the Father (Romans 3:20).
  7. God the Father gave up His Son for us; the Son gave up His life for us. It was NOT for nothing!

And it’s all because of love! Love died for us so that we could experience God’s love up front and personal. We end today with this verse from Romans 5:5, “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” With this kind of love in our hearts, let’s share that love to all around us!

Abba, You are wonderful! Thank You for putting not only the feeling of love, but also Your compassion (Agape’ love). May we trust You enough to share that love with those around us. We will leave the conviction of their souls up to You. Amen.

Proverbs 11 9-11-21

To serve Christ, we must be convinced that He is who He says He is, did what He said He’d do, and will do what He said He’d do.

1 The LORD detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with Him [God sets store by truth].
3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity [The Word = Truth = God = Jesus Christ].

We are convinced. Of what? That Jesus is who He says He is.

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 2:13-14

How? We have experienced Him first-hand in our hearts and lives.

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 joyfor you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.1 Peter 1:8

52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:52

11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:11

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5

Why? If Jesus is right, then we will be going to live with Him when we die. For right now, we have Him living in our hearts. Our relationship is ongoing for eternity!

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Philippians 3:20-21

29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8 (Pure in heart = single-mindedness, i.e. convinced)

What is our goal? To be like Jesus, to trust Him and obey Him, to imitate Him and serve Him.

10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11

Knowing Christ takes precedence over every relationship we have, every thing we do including work, hobbies, recreation, and even ministry.

F.A.I.T.H.
Forsaking All, I Trust Christ

We must be willing to forsake all and trust Him. We must be CONVINCED.

Abba, I am convinced. I have staked my whole life on Your promises and Your presence in my life. I have been saved for 54 years out of my 60. I’m pretty sure! May I continue to grow in my intimate knowledge of You in every area of my life and in every way. Make me completely like You, Jesus, no matter what it takes. Amen.

Proverbs 11

Being reconciled to God is not our doing, but His doing. Still, He awaits our reply. Such is a God of love.

4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but [Christ’s] righteousness delivers from death.

As I was reading Romans 5 yesterday morning, I ran across this verse,

11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have now received reconciliation.

I was curious to know the meaning of the word, “reconciliation,” which we have received, so I looked it up at Dictionary.com. What I found was a progression! It said, using the verb tense of “reconcile,”

  1. to cause (a person) to accept or be resigned to something not desired: He was reconciled to his fate.
    • We come to realize that there is nothing good in us; we are separated from God with no way to be reunited with Him through anything we can do. We need a Savior.
  2. to win over to friendliness; cause to become amicable: to reconcile hostile persons.
    • In and of ourselves, we do not want to be reconciled to God; we want our own way. Were it not for the wooing of the Spirit, we would never seek God. He reconciled us to Himself!
  3. to compose or settle (a quarrel, dispute, etc.).
    • Jesus settled the dispute of our sin on the cross. He paid our debt so that we could have access to God. Don’t forget that Jesus IS God!
  4. to bring into agreement or harmony; make compatible or consistent: to reconcile differing statements; to reconcile accounts.
    • God settled the books and reckons our debt as paid in full (Psalm 22:31).
  5. to reconsecrate (a desecrated church, cemetery, etc.).
    • We are reinstated as His children with full rights and privileges of children of the King.
  6. to restore (an excommunicate or penitent [person]) to communion in a church.
    • We now have full communion with God the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit.
  7. to become reconciled.
    • We are now in an eternal state of reconciliation; it can never be changed or revoked.

Reconciliation is our position in Christ. It is what Baptists call, “the security of the believer.” Calvinists call it, “the perseverance of the saints.” Whatever happens to our relationship with the Father while here on earth, nothing and no one can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39).

It’s amazing what a little research can find!

Abba, may we revel in our reconciliation to You. Thank You for going to all that trouble for us; may we appreciate all that You have done for us and live to serve You out of thankful, grateful hearts. Amen.

Proverbs 11 7-11-21

Thinking like Jesus requires the Holy Spirit. Are we listening to Him? Do we know how?

8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble, and it falls on the wicked instead.

What is meant by discernment of the Spirit?

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 1 John 4:1-3

Learning to determine what makes us feel a certain way is important, even vital. We have to ask, “Is it the Holy Spirit?” We know that He will never lead us in a way that is contrary to the Word of God. But, what if our understanding of the Word of God is incomplete, or even wrong? What if we are basing our opinion, even our conviction, upon something that we have been taught by society? Family? Even church? Could it be a lie of Satan?

NOW we know why studying the Word of God is so important, why getting together with other Christians and talking about passages and their meanings is so important, and why prayer is so important. Our connection with the Holy Spirit is paramount to our understanding of His Word and His Plan.

When confronted with a situation, consider these three questions for discernment:

  1. Is it public? Dealing confrontationally in a public setting is dangerous. It puts the other person in a place where he cannot save face (his dignity); there is no “out” for him. He will usually fight. When possible, wait for a more private moment to confront.
  2. Is it appropriate? Many times, I see something that is wrong, but I am not in a place to do anything about it. It’s not in my realm of influence or responsibility. I can pray about the matter and use it to help me not make the same mistake, but I have to trust that God will work good through the circumstances (even if they are taking the long way around).
  3. Is it convenient? I’m not suggesting that we wait until our schedule clears. We must discern if the climate is right for learning. We may do better to leave (literally). Sometimes, the lack of our support will cause the person to desist. At a later date, we possibly can come back and discuss the matter with that person.

There is always the possibility that God calls us to speak up publicly. When we do, let’s make sure that we are prayed up and righteous. In other words, we CANNOT be angry, because “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God requires” (James 1:20). Let’s be known for our love and compassion. Trust me; we would be different than the world! Jesus said that we would be known as His disciples if we love, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples if you love one another” John 13:34-35.

Abba, may we love like You. As we attend church today, may Your Holy Spirit teach us discernment. May we practice on each other so that when we go out into the world, we will be good at it for Your name’s sake. We love You and want to be good representatives of You and Your name. Amen.

Proverbs 11 6-11-21

How can a person tell if he is a Christian, which is a follower of Jesus Christ, His Spirit, and His teachings? #4

2 0 The LORD detests those whose hearts are perverse [do not know Christ], but He delights in those who ways are blameless [Christ makes us blameless].

Here’s what we now know about how we can tell who the people of God are from an individual perspective.

  1. You had a starting point. 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.
  3. Your habits change. As you desire to walk with Christ and obey Him, He calls you to learn of Him. 
    1. Prayer becomes vital to you. 
    2. You begin to desire to meet with the family of God.

Being like Christ is a process that is initiated by the Holy Spirit. We don’t generate the desire; He IS our Desire. Any desire to please God comes from Him; any power we have to overcome sinful habits and desires comes from Him; any praise we want to give, any glory and blessing and honor and riches, comes from Him and goes to Him (Romans 11:36).

We are most like Christ when we are surrounded,
filled, enveloped and consumed by the Spirit of Christ.

We don’t lose ourselves–we become who we were meant to be! We become holy, righteous, blameless, upright, faithful, loving, and filled with all the love that comes from Him.

Do you want to be this kind of person? If so, then you definitely have the Holy Spirit working in you because lost people sure don’t want it! Let’s kindle the flame of passion in our hearts for God. Let’s praise our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Let’s be obedient to the Spirit as He communes with us, leads us, encourages us, protects us, and empowers us. We have work to do, folks. Let’s be about the Father’s business!

Abba, You have great plans for us, for our churches, for America, for Israel (see Romans 11:12, 15, 23-24), and for the world! Revival is coming! May we be ready to be part of the process, whether it’s witnessing, discipling, being light in dark places, rescuing, comforting, or any combination of all of these, we want to be ready, Lord. Help us to focus, to prepare, and to fix our eyes on You. Amen.

Proverbs 11 5-11-21

The example of our lives gives weight to our words. We must make sure that we are practicing what we preach.

18 A wicked [making decisions without regard to Christ] person earns deceptive wages [leading them astray from Christ and His way], but the one who sows righteousness [daily] reaps a sure reward.

As we look at the Infant stage of spiritual growth, we must understand that new Christians are secure in their salvation, but lacking in their understanding. It is the job and joy of the church to feed them and watch them grow in Christ.

The first thing we must teach them is that our faith and daily walk in Christ is not based upon a feeling, but on our knowledge. Yes, we felt His peace and joy when He entered into us; yes, we feel His presence and participation in our lives each day, but many times we do NOT feel Him when we are overwhelmed by the waves of the sea as Peter was (Matthew 14:29-31). These waves are the world’s attempts to dissuade us and to draw us back into its clutches. Our faith is based upon the promises of God in His Word, the Bible.

The second thing we must teach them is that although our faith is based upon our knowledge, it is God who saves us and keeps us in Jesus Christ. Intellectual belief is NOT the same as heart-felt faith. Faith requires trust, which is belief in action. We give our lives to Christ the first time (salvation) and every day afterward (sanctification) so that eventually, we will be just like Jesus (glorification).

The third thing is that the more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know, which whets our appetites to learn more about Christ and His kingdom…and the cycle continues into eternity. Learning just a few basic tenants of the Christian faith will not sustain a person for very long. For instance, take the account of manna that was given to the Israelites in the desert for forty years. It’s in Exodus, so we learn about it by reading Exodus 16. Those passages explain that manna was given daily except on the Sabbath. The Israelites were to gather just enough for each weekday and then for two days (enough for the Sabbath). God regulated the amount and provided enough for everyone. If anyone kept the manna for more than one day, it spoiled. The lesson here is that our daily bread (Matthew 6:11) is like manna from heaven. We need daily nourishment that is fresh. Also, Jesus is our manna from heaven (John 6:49-51). We need a fresh communion with Jesus daily, as well. These are basic truths, i.e. milk of the Word (1 Peter 2:2).

Let’s make sure that our new brothers and sisters are receiving all they need to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Abba, I know that it is the responsibility of Your church to raise their young. May we take seriously our own walk with You so that we are not trying to live on moldy manna. Keep us fresh so that we can lead others by our example as much as by our teaching. We are depending on You, our Manna from heaven. Amen.

Proverbs 11 4-11-21

Learning to subdue our human nature is tough, but necessary if we want to be like Christ. He is our Life.

2 Pride comes before disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
27 Whoever diligently seeks good finds good will [acceptance from God], but evil comes to [goes into] one who searches for it.

Christ died once for all, but only those who accept His sacrifice as their substitute receive the cleansing that comes by His blood. Through Christ, we have died to our human nature and now live according to our heavenly nature. Those who have received the Holy Spirit now live for Christ and His purposes.

Revelation 1:5 (ESV)

5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

There are several things in this passage that are important:

1. We are free in Christ.

2. He lives in us. We are His kingdom. In fact, we are ONE with Christ! “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” 1 Corinthians 6:17

3. We are priests. Christ is our mediator and we need no other.

4. Once we are in Christ, our position is permanent. His kingdom, which is in us, will never end.

So, if we are new creations, priests of God, and His kingdom is within us, then why is it so difficult to live a godly life? Answer: Because we still live in this flesh, which houses our human nature, that which we are without God and His participation. If we could get past the feels, we could much more effectively live the Christ life. Let’s face it: Our human nature doesn’t WANT to live a godly life; it wants to live for itself. Beth Moore had it right: We are twice the enemy to ourselves than Satan ever thought about being. He merely highlights our dilemma of having two natures now. The one that grows is the one we feed daily.

So, what are we feeding ourselves? What SHOULD we be feeding ourselves?

2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3

14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:14

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

Today’s a good day to do Colossians 3:16. Let’s worship together as we commit ourselves, once again, to God’s Word, the Christ life, and to Him who lives in us.

Abba, may You be honored today in our actions, our thoughts, our songs, our prayers, and our conversation. May we learn from You today through the songs, the message, and our teachers even as You take what we hear and synthesize it for us and apply it to our lives. Make us one in You, O Lord. We are Your Church, Your Bride, Your Temple, Your Branches. Bring honor to Your name through us. Amen.

Proverbs 11 3-11-21

Why is sexual sin so pervasive? Because it is at the base of our self-control, which is the hardest fruit to grow.

22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

Today we look at adultery and divorce from the Jewish leaders’ perspective. Jesus raised the bar impossibly high for guys concerning adultery. Let’s look at it:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Matthew 5:27-30

The first part of this passage everyone gets. Jesus moved our responsibility from the physical to the mental. It’s the next part that we have to work through. He is basically saying that whatever you look at that causes you to commit adultery is something that needs to exit our lives. The same goes for what we do, as well. Our guardrails need to be such that we don’t get close to the temptation if we have anything to do with it. Personal responsibility is a thing. It’s part of having free will. If we were to have free will, then God had to give us total free will. He is still in charge of the basics in our lives, but any choice we have is, indeed, our choice. The passive judgement that God passed on mankind is to allow us to suffer the consequences of our sin–unless we cry out to Him for help. He is ready and willing to save us whenever we call.

Now, we look at divorce:

“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’[a]32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Matthew 5:31-32

Jesus elaborates in Matthew 19:1-12 concerning marriage, sex, and abstention from sex. In that passage, He says, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” The partnership of marriage is a picture of our relationship with God. God does not give up on us, therefore, we are not to give up on each other.

The religious leaders then try to throw Him a curveball by asking about Moses’ certificate of divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Jesus set the record straight that it was because of their hard hearts that this concession was given. “But it was not this way from the beginning.” Jesus wanted them to know the whole truth about marriage and God’s design.

In verse 9, there is an exception. If the woman (speaking to men) is unfaithful, then he is free to divorce her. Men who want a divorce are usually the ones who have been or are wanting to be unfaithful. Jesus said no. When the disciples claimed that it would be better not to marry, Jesus set a bar that is impossible to meet without the Holy Spirit:

11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

Jesus said by using the word, “eunuch,” that unless we are married, then we are to be chaste unto the Lord. In other words, “No Sex Outside of Marriage.” They were not free to do as they wanted. God has rules for marriage that are designed to protect both the man and the woman as well as the picture marriage shows to the world. The question is, are we willing to give up our desires to do what is best for our Lord? It all comes back to self-control and being under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion: Jesus reinstated God’s original plan for marriage
that the religious leaders had corrupted. [mic drop]

Abba, may I learn more and more about Your original intent concerning marriage and self-control. I know that if we get our bodies under control, then most of our fight with the “natural man” goes away. When the fight goes away, our overall peace level goes way up! “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth (Psalm 86:11).” Amen.

Proverbs 11 2-11-21

Prayer is the key to Christianity. Praying saves us, connects us, keeps us, and empowers us. It’s our link to God Himself!

14 For lack of guidance a nation [person] falls, but victory is won through many advisors [and one Main Advisor: the Holy Spirit!].

Somewhere along the way, we lost the main goal of salvation: The re-establishment of our relationship to God. This connection is designed to right what was wronged so long ago in the Garden of Eden. The fellowship between the Creator and the created was broken by sin. Jesus came to redeem us and to make it possible for humanity to be reunited to the Father through Him. Upon salvation, the Holy Spirit enters us and takes up residence. From that time on, our goal becomes making Him President over every area of our lives. The connection between us and Jesus is prayer–a conversation with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is continuous (to believe otherwise is to ignore His presence in our lives) and aligning (we align with His will). Is this pattern the pattern of our lives?

Consider the disciples when they came to a circumstance that they could not overcome.

Mark 9:14-29 (NIV) [14] When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. [15] As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
[16] “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.
[17] A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. [18] Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
[19] “O unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
[20] So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
[21] Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. [22] “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
[23] “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
[24] Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
[25] When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
[26] The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” [27] But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
[28] After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
[29] He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.

There are many “devils” that plague our society and our lives. Some are easy fixes, but most are not. The devil is strong—but we are stronger! How? Through our link with God through prayer and the Holy Spirit. Consider these verses:

1 John 5:4 (NIV) [4] for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

Romans 8:37 (NIV) [37] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV) [57] But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:4 (NIV) [4] You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

It is connection with the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit that gives us “the desire and the power to do His will.” Philippians 2:13. We connect through prayer; our Bible study is the language and the platform He uses to communicate with us.

This is why we pray… and study… and pray with others… and study with others… and pray alone… and study alone… and pray with others… and study with others… etc. If we want to be encouraged, then we need to pay attention to the One who will encourage us–the Holy Spirit. We also have those who challenge us to “up our game” in our study time and prayer time. The more we pray (especially together) the more we assume the attitude of Christ for those around us. I see it all the time in prayer groups. Be encouraged–and PRAY!

Abba, You tell us that through prayer we can have a personal, one-on-One conversation with You. That’s enough reason for me! I’m gonna pray! If I change in the process to look more like You and be more like Your Son, then so much the better. It is the reason I got saved. Have Your way in me. I am Yours! Amen.

Proverbs 11 1-11-21

Our interest in learning how to be godly (like God) is a barometer of our commitment to our Savior. Why did we trust in Him if not to serve Him and become like Him?

5 The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight, but the wicked are brought down by their own *wickedness.

One of my daily verses/passages is Titus 2:11-14. It says,

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.

Let’s break it down:

  1. The grace of God- Grace is what God gave us. “Justice is what a person deserves; mercy is not getting what a person deserves; grace is a person getting what he needs rather than what he deserves.” We received grace through “the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” Romans 3:24+. This grace appeared on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to dwell in believers. Now, we have Christ in us! He, through the Spirit, teaches us all the time every day–if we are listening.
  2. “No”- We have a choice. We answer either “no” or “yes” to temptation. Recognizing temptation before we are consumed by desire is the key to godly living. We say “no” BEFORE we are hit by worldly (out-of-control) passions by establishing guard rails that “keep us on the road.”
  3. “Yes”- It is implied that we say “yes” to the Spirit, and are rewarded with the desire and the power to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.
  4. “This present age,” “wait for the blessed hope,” “Appearing”- We await a returning Savior, Jesus Christ the Messiah, Yeshua Ha-Mashiach, who is King of kings and Lord of lords.
  5. Who gave Himself for us- Grace came because of Christ’s willingness to die in our place. Praise God He rose from the dead; now, we can, too, through Him! His purpose was:
    1. To redeem us from all wickedness. I define *wickedness as “acting out of our own will with no regard to God’s will.” We no longer think on our own, but are joined by the Holy Spirit.
    2. To purify for Himself a people who are His very own. I quoted Romans 3:24 earlier. Here’s the entire passage: 22 “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. 23 There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Jesus created a new humanity by reconciling Jews and Gentiles to God through the cross (Ephesians 2:14-18).
  6. Eager to do what is good- Are we eager to do what is good? Do we look for the right way to do things? Do we ask Him to help us determine what is good in every circumstance? Every word? Even every thought? Are we aware of His presence and participation in our lives?

May we seek to become more and more aware each day by searching the Scriptures for insights into God’s character, God’s motivation, and God’s plan for this world and all mankind. IT’S IN THERE!

Abba, I love it when You stop me in my prayer time and have me camp on a Scripture passage. You rarely just come out and tell me something; You have me dig and search for corroborating Scriptures and even check to see what other Christians have to say on the matter. But, what learning! What fellowship with the Spirit! Thank You for being active in my life. May I never go back to “doing things on my own with no regard for You and Your will” (i.e. *wickedness). Lead on, my King. I pledge to follow. Amen.

Proverbs 11 12-11-20

Is your faith like Mary’s or Zechariah’s? Do you see with faith or do you put your faith in what you see?

2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

When we say, “I don’t see why or how…” we are making our opinion the final say in the matter. We are acting as judge concerning the situation. Taking this stance is the very basis of pride. We have exalted ourselves above the LORD’s opinion and plan. What we forget is how easily and quickly circumstances can change. One bad decision, one “accident” or sickness, one “better offer,” one “coincidence,” one prayer and the whole scenario flips over. We see it in movies all the time. We see it in life if we take the time to notice and then give credit where credit is due.

Zechariah was seeing with his physical eyes. He saw his wife advanced in age; he saw her barren for decades. What he could not see was God’s wondrous power and promise (Luke 1:18). Even then, God did, indeed, give him a sign–not the one he would have chosen, but a sign nonetheless (Luke 1:19-20). Gabriel made a believer out of Zechariah! His obedience in Luke 1:63 freed his tongue and he prophesied some major stuff in his song (Luke 1:67-79)!

Mary questioned Gabriel, but only in asking how because of the impossible nature of what he was declaring. She did not question the power of God, but was only inquiring of what to expect (Luke 1:34-35). Gabriel told her; he even told her about her “aunt” Elizabeth, thus giving her someone with which to share these amazing events. Then, he said, “For no word from God will ever fail.” (Luke 1:37). Now, THAT’S a promise! Mary’s response was as ours should be, “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”

When we read His Word, do we read to hear? Are we listening for instructions, explanations, and knowledge? When we pray, do we pray to connect with our Lord Jesus? When we sense His presence, all of our questions become secondary to Him. He becomes our focus rather than our circumstances. We have the same promise that Gabriel gave to Mary, “For no word from God will ever fail.” (Luke 1:37). Let’s live in that promise today as we stay connected to Jesus.

Abba, what happens is not nearly as important as my staying connected to You. I know that when I am connected and listening and obeying, that You work all things together for what is best for me, for those around me, and for Your Plan. I understand that You don’t promise to make me comfortable or even safe physically; in fact, You told your disciples just the opposite. What I am placing my faith and hope in is Your ultimate Plan to bring these two kingdoms together, the one inside me and the one where You are. “May Your kingdom come, may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Amen.

Proverbs 11 11-11-20

Jesus IS our righteousness. He gives us His. When will we begin to appropriate that righteousness in our lives?

6 The righteousness [Jesus Christ] of the righteous delivers them, but the unfaithful [those who do not appropriate His righteousness] are trapped by evil desires [laid by Satan].

Truths Upon Which To Build Our Lives:

  • Our relationship with Jesus is ALL-IMPORTANT. It stands above all circumstances, above all desires, and above all needs in this world and in our lives.
  • The Word of God is our SOURCE. It tells us WHO God is, WHAT He wants and expects of us, HOW He interacts with us, and even WHY He does. For us not to read, study, and know His Word is Satan’s greatest victory over us. In contrast, to read, study, and know His Word gives the Spirit the greatest access to us for conversation, fellowship, teaching, rebuking, correcting and training, and for travel (we are on a journey to His throne).
  • Meeting together on a routine basis is God’s way of preparing us for heaven. We encourage each other, join together in prayer and worship, teach each other, and give each other opportunities to put into practice our spiritual disciplines (being loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, self-controlled, selfless, abandoned (to Him), humble, self-denying, compassionate, diligent, thinking in a godly fashion, forgiving, and tempered). We hold each other accountable.

NOW we know why church is so important. It’s the place that gives us opportunities for prayer, Bible study, and fellowship/interaction with other believers. “Church” happens not only in our building, but every place that two or more are gathered in His name (Matthew 18:20). So, every meal together, every Bible study, every prayer meeting, and every worship service is church for us. It’s why we don’t get overwrought when they threaten to shut church down for the pandemic. “Two or more,” remember?

Let’s appropriate the righteousness of Christ today; let’s meet with other Christians and realize that Jesus is with us just like He is in church–it IS church!

Abba, I look forward to meeting with other Christians today. In fact, by the time this post goes out, I will have already met with a group of guys for prayer. We had CHURCH! I know that talking with Bryan, Tony and Brother Robert is CHURCH, as well as Choir rehearsal tonight. May we practice our spiritual disciplines on each other realizing that You are in our midst even as You are in our hearts. I’m looking forward to it, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 11 10-11-20

How serious does a situation have to get before we get serious about our lives? Christ takes precedence over everything!

2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

We tend to live our lives as if they will stay the same forever. Even if our circumstances are bad, we tend to see them as permanent. The problem is that the only constant in our lives is “change.” From cars that quit running (had that happen recently) to governments changing (we’re liable to see that soon), life is full of change.

The only REAL Constant is the love of God through Jesus Christ our LORD. His Spirit in us gives us hope in worrisome days, peace in the midst of storms, and joy on the inside regardless of what’s going on outside. I’ll bet you’re wondering why the pep talk. It’s because I’m going to ask you to do something that you’ll probably think is not necessary, that things are not bad enough, or that it’s not for you. We’ll see…

If Christ were to come tomorrow, would He find you doing His work? If Christ were not to come in your lifetime, would your life cause Him to say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant?” In our current political and social climate, let’s rise above both and put our sights on what is truly important: Getting the message of Christ out to the world. How?

  1. Our actions speak much louder than our words. What we consider important says a lot about what/Who we worship. Since Paul’s establishment of the church outside of Israel, Christians have made and kept Sunday as our “special day” (because of Christ’s resurrection on the first day of the week) to come together as believers and worship together. It’s not really our “Sabbath,” but it IS the day agreed upon by this body of believers, i.e. Brookwood, to come together for Bible study, fellowship, worship, and to hear what the LORD has put on our pastor’s heart. Let’s make Sunday Special again.
  2. Where we spend our time in public says a lot to unbelievers. If we are no different than they in where we eat, what we drink, and what we listen to, then our relationship with Christ must not be at the top of our agenda. The LORD Jesus is all about recreating Himself in us. Are we allowing Him to do that?
  3. The goals we have in this world sometimes outweigh the goals we have for His world (heaven). We must remember that in heaven, there is no sin; it is judged at the door, so to speak. Everything from this life that is not godly and holy is left behind as we enter eternity. The problem is that if worldly possessions are all we have, then we have no gift to give to our King. BAD NEWS. Health, wealth, and a free calendar do NOT count as eternal goals. God is in charge of our lives; allow Him to be in charge.
  4. I’m sure that you think that I harp on you about reading your Bibles. There’s a good reason for it: God speaks to us through the Scriptures! Do you want to hear God talk out loud to you? Then read His Word out loud. If you’re not interested in Him having a say in your life, or if you are not interested in hearing what He has to say, then, by all means, ignore His Word. Otherwise, dust it off and break it open! Then, start listening.

I told you it wasn’t pretty. It’s time for us to quit playing “Christian” and get down to business. Our neighbors are scared, our nation is divided, and we’re acting just like lost folks. How do we remedy this situation? We REPENT and PRAY. TOGETHER. Let’s start today. See you in church (a lot of you, anyway).

Abba, may I be about Your business today. As we honor our police and Highway Patrol today (Faith In Blue), may You call them to honor You by giving You their lives. May Your Spirit whoosh down on us and bring revival. Me first, LORD! Even if it hurts. Amen.

Proverbs 11 9-11-20

God has plans for us; they are for good and not for evil*. Are we willing to follow Him and receive what He has for us?

17 Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.
19 Truly the righteous attain life, but whoever pursues evil finds death.

How do we reconcile God’s plans and our choices? Either God chooses everything, in which case, He chooses for me to make bad choices as well as good, or He hopes that we make good choices and works damage-control when we don’t.

OR, His plans for us are on a different plane. We tend to think in outcomes that are physical and within our lifetime; God thinks in terms of our character and eternity.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:28-29

His HUGENESS is how He accomplishes Romans 8:28 even while performing 8:29 in us. In God’s foreknowledge, He knows our every decision (Psalm 139:16). Knowing that we would accept Jesus as our LORD, He predestined us to meet Christ at the appointed time in our lives. From that point–and even before–He uses the circumstances in our lives and our choices–both good and bad–to conform us to the image of His Son. Love is based upon choice; love that is required is not love at all, but duty. We love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Our choice is based upon His choice (John 15:16). Nobody made Jesus lay down His life; He CHOSE to do it because of His great love for us! Follow these verses:

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

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  1 John 3:1

Understanding the relationship between love and choice should help us to “walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16. Choosing to love God daily means sacrifice of worldly goals and pleasures; it means being obedient to His Word and to His Spirit in every decision. What is our reward? THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST. We learn to “swim in heaven’s waters.” When we swim in the ocean, we are out of place: We cannot breathe underwater, we don’t have fins or flippers, our eyes are not made to see underwater, we don’t have sonar, etc. We are designed to walk on land. But, in Christ, we are new creations; we begin to grow these qualities in our lives to the point where we will be not only proficient at swimming in heaven’s waters, we are AT HOME in heaven’s waters. Of course, we are speaking of standing in the presence of our Almighty God. We will no longer worry about thinking, saying, or doing the wrong thing; the right thought, word and deed will come naturally to us.

In the meantime, we struggle every day, but that struggle is what God uses to transform us. In the words of my pastor, “Well, here it is another day and I am still in this fleshly body. LORD, I’m gonna need Your help again!”

Abba, You know what is in our hearts. You know what we need. As we walk with You each day, may we become more aware of You, more in touch with You, and more like You. I give all I know of myself to all I know of You today. Tomorrow, I will give a little more based upon what I have learned of You today. In this way, I am a little more like Jesus each day. Work wonders in me, LORD. I NEED YOU. Amen.

*Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Proverbs 11 8-11-20

The trouble with American life is that there are few apparent consequences–in fact, there are just the opposite!

4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from [the second] death.
“The one who is victorious [over the cares of this world] will not be hurt at all by the second death.” Revelation 2:11b
7 When a wicked man perishes, his hopes die with him; all the promise of his power [by the devil] comes to nothing.

We are an “instant gratification” society. We want what we want–NOW! Tim Hawkins makes fun of “Taco Express” (approximation): “Like, it’s not fast-enough food? What are they going to do? Shoot it out of a cannon as you drive by?” Many times we don’t see what our choices are doing to us on a comprehensive basis. Each bad decision adds to other bad decisions and will cause us to drift off-course. Here are a few that we don’t see coming:

  • If we don’t tithe, we get to use the extra money to buy something we want. What we don’t see is the gradual inward-turning that our souls do to the point where we become very self-centered. We may even “forget” God (see Proverbs 30:7-9 for a great prayer to pray).
  • If we refuse to say anything about our values, we get to be a part of whatever group interests us. What we don’t see is that we become the company we keep. “Don’t be misled: Bad company corrupts good moral character” 1 Corinthians 15:33. Proverbs 13:20 tells us, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” 
  • If we don’t share our faith, then we are not criticized, ostracized, or persecuted. What we don’t see is that if we don’t acknowledge Jesus to others, then He will not acknowledge us before the Father. IT’S A BIG DEAL! “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns [does not acknowledge] me before others, I will disown [acknowledge] before my Father in heaven. Matthew 10:32-33 Also, we miss the blessing of being useful to Jesus in reaching others for Him. Each grain of salt (a comment, an explanation, even a stance) makes a difference when the Holy Spirit uses it to bring conviction in someone’s life.
  • If we don’t go to church, we can claim any excuse we like and no one can disprove it–especially with online services! What we don’t see is that it’s not about pleasing others or even looking good in their eyes. It’s about pleasing the Father, and He sees the heart!

The real issue is with our relationship with Jesus. He went through so much so that He could be with us and in us. Yet, we treat this miracle, this mighty act of salvation, with disdain and contempt. Do we forget how much it cost Him?!

Let’s not worry about what it will cost us. Even though we may not see the results–and even blessings–of our faith in this life, we trust Christ’s promise that we will receive:

  1. A crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8)
  2. A hundred times as much of whatever we lost (Matthew 19:29)
  3. Eternal life! (Matthew 19:29 again)

Do you believe what He said? Then act on it!

Abba, I call all readers today to take You seriously. You paid a heavy price for our freedom and I KNOW You don’t want us walking back into the very “tar pits of sin” from which You saved us. May we take seriously our commitment that we made when we trusted You for salvation and the calling You now have on our lives. We are Your humble servants. May we start acting like we are Yours. (dare I say amen?)

Proverbs 7-11-20

So, when are you going to surrender your all to Jesus? Is there anything to which you are hanging on? Give it up!

2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Humility- not proud or arrogant; modest: modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.

When I went to Dictionary.com to look up the definition of Humility, the Word of the Day was “Ductile.” It seemed quite appropriate:

Ductile- capable of being molded or shaped.

That’s what happens to us when we enter Christ’s army. The first thing that happens to us is we go to Bootcamp. Among other things that happen there, we run the obstacle course. This course is designed to condition us, strengthen us, and teach us how to overcome obstacles in our lives. It is designed for us and it is NEVER one that we run by ourselves: Jesus runs it with us! Today, we look at Jesus as the Good Drill Sergeant. He is our Encourager, our Counselor, and our Commander all at the same time. Oh, and we run it more than just once. We will run it many times. In fact, there are many courses that we will run in our lives; all of them more than once.

Jesus,
You are the Favorite Big Brother, the Benevolent Master,
the Ultimate Boss, and the Good Drill Sergeant.

If you’ve ever been in the military, this illustration may have both good and bad memories attached to it. Sorry. But, it is a good illustration for the training that we receive as His good soldiers:

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 2 Timothy 2:3-4

The key is in the phrase, “tries to please.” It’s our desire, and we make every effort to please Him. When Paul wrote to Titus, he talked about Jesus redeeming us from all wickedness and purifying for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good (Titus 2:14). We, as followers of Christ, should be eager to do what our Commander desires. We want to please Him by doing what He commands. He came to live inside of us via the Holy Spirit to give us both the desire and the power to do His will (Philippians 2:13).

The question is, do you desire to please Jesus? Is it your first and last goal everyday? If not, then we should “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). If we consider ourselves as enemies of the cross (Ephesians 2:1-3), then to come to Christ is to surrender to Him–and actually switch sides! We die to ourselves and are raised as new creations in Christ. Our desires change; our habits WILL change. Our reward changes, as well. We have this promise from Peter:

10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things [daily], you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:10-11

There is one more verse in Proverbs 11 that I want for us to view:

5 The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.

  1. The righteousness- The conditioning we receive is called righteousness. It is both imparted to us by Jesus and it is developed in us by the Holy Spirit. We are promised completion in the course upon death when we are made complete and whole in Christ!
  2. The blameless- It means, “without fault.” Jesus took all of our faults and our guilt with Him to the cross and to death. He now looks at us as faultless and blameless, spotless and perfect, whole and complete. He sees us as we are in Him and as we will be when we see Him in person.
  3. Straight paths- Following Jesus doesn’t mean that the path is straight, but plain and traversable. He would never ask us to do anything that wouldn’t please Him and that He didn’t empower us to do. Think of the path more as “straight ahead.” If we are following Jesus, then the path is always straight ahead of us.
  4. The wicked- Those who follow their own paths. They have not surrendered to Christ; they have not raised the white flag and thrown down their pride. Jesus is NOT their LORD.
  5. Brought down by their own wickedness- Knowing that sin destroys us, in not following Jesus they are walking off the cliff’s edge or walking into quicksand, all traps of Satan. They are self-destructing!

Let’s surrender all to Christ today. Let’s breathe in the Spirit and breathe out the flesh; let’s turn our eyes upon Jesus and away from anything else; let’s surrender our lives and will to Him as we raise the white flag and throw down our pride. Let us “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance [endurance] the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1b-2a)

Abba, may I be first to raise my white flag and throw down my pride. May I fix my eyes on You and follow You on the straight path, the one straight ahead of me. May I run the obstacle courses of life WITH YOU and learn all I can each time I run them. Teach me everything I need to know for godly living. I am hungry for it–I am DESPERATE for it! Bring it on, amen.

Proverbs 11 6-11-20

Have you ever thought about our motivation behind going to church on Sundays? Why do you go to church?

1 The LORD detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.

To be honest, most of us go to church because our parents raised us that way. It feels unnatural–or, at least, a little bit wrong–not to go. At the same time, we may be giving two different signals to the LORD: Going out of duty vs. going out of grateful obedience. Let’s do a little self-analysis and see with what we come up.

Let’s establish a baseline. God commanded the Israelites to go to church. Their church was at the temple, and the men were required to attend three times a year. They had an alternate place of worship in Northern Israel for those who had to travel from the far northern part of Israel, but all men were required to do it. The women and children we encouraged to attend with them. Then, there was the weekly worship at the synagogue.

For those living in Jerusalem, they could go to “church” twice a day for the morning and evening sacrifices. King David made a big deal about going up to worship at the temple as we learn in Psalm 100:

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
 his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Jesus shared this passion for worship. He, too, went to the feasts in Jerusalem, and He entered the synagogue in whatever town He was each Sabbath to worship and teach:
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. Luke 4:16

Jesus taught His disciples to do the same, but they changed the day of worship to the first day of the week in honor of His resurrection. Not only that, they met each day for a while:

46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,  47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47

God wants us to meet together, as well. He said as much through the writer of Hebrews:
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

So, why do we go to church?

  1. Because Jesus commanded us to go. We obey out of gratitude!
  2. Because we as individuals are part of the Bride of Christ. He wants to spend time with His Bride collectively.
  3. He has much in store for us:
    1. Perspective through worship
    2. Fellowship with and encouragement from other believers
    3. Haverim (the sharing of ideas from a biblical perspective)
    4. Teaching from the LORD through others
    5. Ministry (learning to look outside of ourselves)
  4. Together, we are Christ to the world.

What should we pray for as we go?

  1. That we have the right heart attitude as we engage the community of brothers and sisters in Christ.
  2. That we go expecting God to speak to us sometime while we are there.
  3. That we bless the LORD in word and song. The routine, the music, and the hearing of the public reading of the Word minister to us more than we know.
  4. That God would move in a mighty way; that His power would be displayed through the salvation of souls; that we would be touched by His Spirit; that people would turn away from sin and turn to Christ (both the lost and the saved), but we must be ready for Him to start with us.

If you are going to church and sitting/standing back and being passive, then you are missing out on why we have church. God ordained this! Do we really think we know better than God? or, that there are better places to be right then? If we want to hear from God (individually and collectively), then we must give Him plenty of opportunities, and we must seek Him where He calls us to be.

There are some who CANNOT go to church right now. I’ll bet that they WANT TO go! We look forward to the day that they get to come back. The rest of us ought to take advantage of getting together–who knows what the future holds?

“Lord, send a revival, and let it begin in me.”

Abba, You know I haven’t always wanted to go to church. But, I have learned through the years that if I want to be regularly obedient to You, then I will go. Thank You for all the times You have spoken to me in services at Falls Creek, my home church at Calvary in Durant, at FBC, Shawnee, while in school, and then at all the churches in which I have served. Now, O LORD, speak to me once again here at Brookwood. Move mightily among our folks. Bring revival to Your church! And let it begin in me. Amen.

Proverbs 11 5-11-20

We were created for something new. God doesn’t want clones; He wants new creations! But He wants us willing.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
    but with humility comes wisdom.

Clay in the hands of the Potter is a beautiful illustration of us in the hands of God Jeremiah 18:1-6. If the clay is stiff or has lumps, it has to be reworked, adding and removing whatever is needed. The goal is to create something new, something useful, something beautiful. Our lives are like that, too.

We are designed to be molded and shaped, but not by ourselves. Clay that refuses to be shaped remains a clump of clay. It misses out on its destiny, of what it could become. When we acknowledge our spiritual state (empty without the filling of the Spirit) and our complete dependence on Him, God begins to work with us to be conformed to the image of His Son, which is the “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being (Hebrews 1:3).” But, it’s more than being made to look like Jesus. It’s the synthesis of the two, the fusion of God and each of us that is unique. It’s the making of new creations!

Musicians are my best example of what I’m talking about. When they sit down for a jam session (a time when they either play through known music together or make it up as they go), they add their offerings to the pot and let it simmer. The fellowship shared and the music that is made is unique and satisfying in a way that is addictive.

Likewise, when a songwriter writes a Christian song, he collaborates with the Spirit to create something that honors God. It may be written to share with no one but God and him (or her), a certain person for whom the song is written, or for public use. It may be a one-time song or one that spans the ages, like Great Is Thy Faithfulness or Amazing Grace. I have lots of songs that no one will ever hear. They were written as one-time expressions of my love for God. I have several that I use in my personal worship time. Will I ever use them publicly? Maybe. It depends upon the Lord’s leadership. Whatever He says, goes.

The point is that the synthesis of our collaboration creates something that is special between Him and me, and works on all levels of my life. When I turn my attention to Him and praise Him, His Spirit interacts with mine to pray prayers that I could never pray on my own, yet they are special because He is working with my prayers. We read about it in Romans 8:26-27,

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness [our inability to please God on our own and in our own effort]. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

He and I are creating something new, a gift of praise for my God and King. Your prayers work like that, too. And, when we get together and pray, the gift intensifies and multiplies on an exponential level! THIS is the reason for us to meet and pray!!!

Your efforts to honor Him with your life in work, in relationships, and in your time with the Lord are unique and special. They bless God in a way that no other person on earth can do! YOU are that special to him!!! We partner with God to create new “persons,” ones that are made in the image of God, but new and unique–like child are of their parents! It is also why every life is sacred. Even life in a nursing home can be part of the process. God isn’t done with us until He calls us home.

The key to this kind of fellowship and interaction with God is humility. We must give up trying to do things by ourselves. We are made to interact with God in everything. The strength of our connection with Him is determined by our humility, much like an internet connection. We need the Spirit of Jesus in us because we need His cooperation to do anything that pleases Him, and He needs our cooperation for Him to make something beautiful out of our lives.

My favorite daily passage is Psalm 73:21-26. Why?

  • Because it tells me who I am without Him.
  • His presence in my life is profound and appreciated.
  • His personal touch blesses me.
  • His counsel is my daily bread,
  • And His promise to take me to be with Him is the source of my joy and strength to face today and tomorrow.

Oh, Abba, whom have I in heaven besides You? And this earthly life has nothing I desire besides You. My heart and my flesh fail on my own, but You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever. You give me what I need to carry on, all the while being transformed into Your likeness. You are working with me to create something new and beautiful! Right now, I feel like a caterpillar; I can hardly wait to become a butterfly!!! Unique, but alike. That is how we are, isn’t it, LORD? “Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way; You are the Potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me after Thy will while I am waiting, yielded and still.” Amen.

Proverbs 11 4-11-20

God wants our hearts, our minds, our attention and focus. Are you giving Him yours daily? Continuously? or “religiously?”

20 The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse,
    but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.

He continues with an explanation:

21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,
    but those who are righteous will go free.

He explains with an example:

22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
    is [even] a beautiful woman who shows no discretion [God’s view of someone who disregards godliness].

He shows the intent of the heart:

23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
    but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

NOTE: The key to today’s lesson is in clicking on the corresponding links to the Scriptures.

Concerning Easter, we are on the second day of Jesus’ death. It is a regular Sabbath whereas yesterday was the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was a High Sabbath. That feast will continue for seven days, with the Feast of First Fruits happening on the first day of the week after the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Tomorrow is Sunday, the first day of the week, and is the day that Jesus rose from the dead becoming the First-fruits of all who rise from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23

Jesus is all about hope and desire. He wants us to have our hope in Him as our Savior and LORD and desire Him as our Friend and Confidante. Is that for what you signed up? Or did you only want the first half: Salvation and the remission of sins, but not the Lordship part? Today is the day to mull that question over and come back to God with an answer because tomorrow we celebrate our Risen Lord and I wouldn’t want you offering the wrong sacrifice, one of a perverse heart rather than a blameless one.

“Christ is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.”

– Hudson Taylor

Have you ever wondered what the disciples were thinking all throughout this day? Or, were they just hurting? I’m guessing that they were fearful, despondent, and maybe even angry. I wonder when they began to remember all that Jesus had told them. The women remembered when the angel told them that Jesus had risen Luke 24:6-8 ; the two disciples on the road to Emmaus didn’t remember until their eyes were opened to Jesus  Luke 24:31-32 ; it is likely that the rest of the disciples didn’t remember until Jesus opened their minds, as well  Luke 24:44-46 .

We can have our minds opened, too, if we read His Word and allow Him to wash our minds  Ephesians 5:26 , transform our minds Romans 12:2 and renew our minds Ephesians 4:23. Are you ready? Me, too!

Abba, may You renew my mind even as I read Your Word and write about it. May You open our minds and hearts to Your words, Your will, and Your plans. You went to a LOT of trouble just to be in us, to be with us. May we never take it for granted! I love You; make Yourself known to me today as I ponder Your sacrifice Ephesians 5:2 . Amen.