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.

Proverbs 11 3-11-20

There’s more to obedience than just obedience. What we don’t realize is that God wants us to succeed. LISTEN TO HIM!

20 The LORD detests those whose hearts are perverse, but He delights in those whose ways are blameless.

In the Army, when a soldier is told to do something, who takes responsibility for the soldier’s actions? His commanding officer. In the LORD’s army, it works the same way. When we are obedient, we fall under His responsibility and His command. We are BLAMELESS. In other words, no blame can be attached to us because we were simply obeying orders.

Let me “introduce” you to one of my favorite Scriptures:

24 To him who is able to keep you from [falling and] stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence blameless and with great joy— 

  1. JESUS is able to keep us from falling–and even from stumbling–when we obey Him.
  2. Regardless, He will present us before His Father’s glorious presence as perfect in Him. Hebrews 10:14 tells us, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”
  3. With great joy…WOW! How great? Triumphant joy, exultant joy, unspeakable, ecstatic delight (from the Amplified Version)!

12:00 is when the big hand and the little hand are on the 12. Anything else is NOT 12:00. It is a perversion of 12:00. When it comes to our holiness, we are perfect in Christ, therefore we are 12:00. THIS IS OUR POSITION IN CHRIST and will be how we are presented to the Father.

Our relationship with the Son through the Spirit is basically about learning to be perfect [hitting the mark] by being blameless (obedient). MAJOR emphasis on “learning.” It’s a process–even though we are guaranteed to be presented to the Father as perfect in Christ. His blood “speaks” for us:

24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede [speak] for them [through His sacrifice on the cross]. Hebrews 10:24-25

Let’s quit allowing our lives to be run by our emotions and what we WANT to do (emotions again). Let’s die to ourselves and allow Christ to live through us. In other words, let’s listen to Him and do exactly what He tells us to do–or not do. He has our BEST interests at heart; He loves us! Let’s start by reading His Word and listening for His voice in the words. We won’t be disappointed!

Abba, I am learning so much as I read through the Bible chronologically. It seems to come alive as I read about David and his life on the run from Saul. I can hardly wait to hear David himself tell it! It will also be gratifying to hear Saul say that he learned to not fear the future. There will be SO MUCH to do and SO MANY people to talk to in heaven, and if not in heaven, then in Jerusalem when Christ returns. Will it be soon, Jesus? Even so, come, LORD Jesus! Amen.

Proverbs 11 2-11-20

Why would we pledge our heart and life to the LORD and then live for ourselves? That’s the worst kind of double standard.

We find that Solomon knew about double standards. He wound up reaping what he sowed by the kingdom being divided because of his waywardness, which was passed down to his son, and seemed to hit every other generation for centuries. Solomon preached against double standards; I just wish that he had practiced what he preached.

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

The integrity of the upright guides them,
    but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Many times, God doesn’t have to lift a finger for a duplicitous person to destroy himself; evil people are destroyed by evil. It’s what sin does to us. Jesus said, “The thief [sin] comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10. The destructiveness of sin is why God hates it so much.

What IS sin? It is arrogance that reveals itself in rebellion that displays itself in disobedience that reaps destruction.

ARROGANCE –> REBELLION –> DISOBEDIENCE–> DESTRUCTION

Here are some more verses that pertain to the fate of those who deal in double standards:

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

From today’s chapter:

The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight,
    but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness [the fruit of their own schemes].

The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
    but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires [we can’t seem to get away from them].

20 The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse [strong word of warning],
    but he delights in those whose ways are blameless [strong word of blessing].

By the way, “blameless” is how we are when we are subject to the LORD’s commands and leadership. When He tells us to do something, we stand blameless for the results; HE takes all responsibility and credit for our actions. It’s how things are supposed to work.

Today, may we listen, “bow our heart’s knee”, and obey the LORD’s commands. May we love as He loves, care as He cares, and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to all who will listen–as He leads. Let’s be looking for opportunities so that He doesn’t have to use something major to get our attention…!

Abba, may You reveal in my life any double standards I have. I want to be righteous and holy, so please turn up the heat on my kettle so that I may shine as silver purified seven times, as gold refined in the fire. I know that revival starts in MY heart, so, “Lord, send a revival and let it begin in me.” Amen.

Proverbs 11 1-11-20

Is what God says in His Word important to you? Is He your chief source, or do you have others that weigh in as heavily?

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

As you read Proverbs 11 this morning, consider the word “righteousness” to stand for truth according to God’s Word concerning Creation. Conversely, think of the word “wickedness” and its corresponding descriptors to stand for those who believe in Evolution.

Let’s define “evolution.” Evolution can stand for Darwinian Evolution or Neo-Darwinian Evolution. Both tout macro-evolution (complex life from simple life) as the origin of life and leaves no room for any kind of intelligent design. Life happened and continues by chance.

There is such a thing as micro-evolution, which is usually referred to as adaptation within a species. In other words, everything that “evolves” was already latent in the genes of the species. God made them adaptable.

There are two verses that particularly stand out to me:

19 Truly the righteous [those who strive to for righteousness] attain life, but whoever pursues evil finds death.

27 Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to one who searches for it.

Here is what I see: It’s not enough to just avoid evil. We must seek righteousness, searching for it as we would mining for gold. We must dig for it, haul it out of the mine of our minds and process it. With gold, it would be cleaned up, melted down and purified, and then shaped into whatever form the Maker has in mind. With righteousness, it would be dug out of Scripture, pondered, and laid at the feet of Jesus; He would then help us apply it to our lives.

If I were asked why I believe that Evolution is a deception of Satan and why I believe in Creation, I would answer (in order of least to greatest):

  1. The odds of life coming from nothing are too great for it to be true. It would take more faith to believe in life from non-life than to believe in Creation.
  2. Intelligent Design leads to a Designer: God. More specifically, Jesus, through Whom all things were made and are held together (Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:2-3). Irreducible complexity is one of the ways we see the I.D. of God.
  3. The Spirit of God came to me and opened my mind to His world, confirming His creation of it. He and I have an ongoing relationship in which He reveals new truths about this world, Himself, Heaven and eternity.

If you are wondering, “What’s the big deal? Can’t a person believe whatever he wants to believe?” You would be right. The problem is that Evolution is not just being believed. It is being taught–more than that, it is being forced upon many unsuspecting souls. We might as well call it the Gospel of Evolution. We must know what we believe and WHY so that when the opportunity arises, we can intelligently give an answer for the hope we have in Christ. Consider these two verses:

24 The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep them from going down to the grave. Proverbs 15:24 We are moving either up or down. Let’s keep moving UP!

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16

Let’s prepare ourselves both in knowledge and in response concerning this matter. IT’S IMPORTANT for the sake of our generation, the next generation, and future generations.

Abba, Your Word is truth. I learned that straight from Jesus (John 17:17). You said You created everything and I believe it. It is settled in my mind. From this point on, I am simply discovering how You did it. It is for Your glory to reveal concealed knowledge (Prov. 25:2). As I learn new facts and discover new truths, may I glorify You and praise Your name; may I teach others these new facts and truths so that they may praise Your name and glorify You, as well. The saga continues–for a while. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Amen.

 

Proverbs 11 12-11-

What legacy do we want to leave? Are we heroes of the faith? Let’s be remembered for our faith, courage, and love for Jesus.

24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
    another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

25 A generous person will prosper;
    whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

 

If we were to act on these verses, what would it look like? It would look like we were “testing God” to a certain extent. And, you know what: It would be true! Yet, here is what God says to us about our faith:

38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

How about this verse:

10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. Luke 16:10.

Ah, but there’s a catch:

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48b

We in America have been given great wealth. All we need to do is study history and we will see that our generation is the wealthiest in America’s history. If we look at the other countries of the world, we will see that we as a people are far wealthier than 90% of the population. Yet, the people around us are starving for spiritual food. They are being fed “food” that is NOT nutritious for their spirits:

  • Our phones in and of themselves are not bad, but the time we waste on them is;
  • We are, generally speaking, dependent upon expressing our opinion;
  • Likewise, we are hooked on TV in that we watch more television than we do reading;
  • Our food has been tainted by the food industry: we are hooked on flavor instead of nutrition, convenience rather than responsibly cooking it ourselves;
  • Even though we have more free time than any generation before us, we are overweight and use our time frivolously.

What does Jesus want from us as a generation? Let’s look at God’s Word and see:

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Luke 10:2

If we are to enter the harvest, what shall we face? What does that field look like?

  1. It’s a spiritual battle. Evil is invading every area of society.
  2. We will lose this world. It’s a given. Look at 2 Peter 3:10. Instead, “we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” v.13
  3. The battle will grow intense as the Day of Christ’s return draws near. To the seven churches in Revelation 2-3, Jesus said, “To the one who is victorious…” 2:7, 11,17, 26, 3:5, 12, 21. We must stand firm.

We have this promise:

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

What more could we ask? Let’s be about the Father’s business. There are people to reach for Christ, so let’s use every available asset to reach them!

Abba, I include myself in this exhortation. I want to “go out in a blaze of glory,” one that honors You and brings many to Christ–or, at least, witnesses to them. Their decision is their own. My responsibility, my desire, is to exalt You in all I do. Use me, LORD Jesus, to be a prayer warrior for the lost, including Israel and the Muslim countries, and to be an ambassador to all around me. Amen.

 

Proverbs 11 11-11-19

What is your perspective? Are you looking forward to spending the day with the Father?He is with you.

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

Our righteousness is in Christ. He gives us His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). His Spirit in us makes us blameless; all our sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus. Because of the atoning action of His blood, we are constantly cleansed until the day when we step out of these bodies into new and glorious ones that no longer have the sin nature in them! This next verse tells us to what we have to look forward:

To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling [and falling] and to present you before His glorious presence without fault [blameless] and with great joy— Jude 24

Not only are we kept from falling, we have been given any and every spiritual gift (as we need them):

Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:7-9

“Fellowship with His Son” is key. It is the entire point of salvation–it IS salvation! If we are not interested in fellowshipping with the Son, Jesus Christ, who lives in us by the Person of “Mr.” Holy Spirit, then we have missed the whole point of salvation. Heaven is all about Him! If we don’t want any part of Him now, what makes us think that we will be happy in heaven when EVERYTHING there is about HIM?

What we are talking about here is abiding. We are to abide in Christ. Abiding is all about making our relationship with Christ permanent. It means “to remain, to live.” Our lives are to be all about Christ. His Spirit even gives us the want-to to want to! Let’s not let how we feel today give the devil a foothold; let’s not give him an inch of ground by committing ourselves to Christ today, studying His Word, and “setting our face like flint” to converse with Him all day, doing as He says and following where He leads (Isaiah 50:7).

26 I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. 27 But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. 1 John 2:26-27

Let’s remain in fellowship with Christ today. He will teach us everything we need to know and will equip us with everything we need. Is it a battle? Yes. Will it be easy? No. But, it will certainly be worth it!

Abba, You have promised us so much: Your presence, Your participation, Your protection, Your provision, and so much more! Help me to stay connected to the Vine, which is you, O Lord. May I fellowship with You all day today as we walk through life together–to the real life You have waiting for me by Your side in Heaven. Thank You for Robin, in whom I see much of You. Help us to finish well. We love You, Lord. Amen.

 

Proverbs 11 10-11-19

Making our lives all about Christ–is that your goal? The Spirit within us urges us to make life all about Him.

The righteousness of the upright will direct his way, but the wicked will fall by his own wickedness. The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but transgressors will be taken by their schemes.

What we chronically forget is that we don’t live in a vacuum. Our position is not clinical. We have the Lord drawing us on one side and the devil pulling us on the other. Our own sin nature tends to lean toward the devil’s side while our new nature, Christ in us, counsels us to imitate Jesus.

I see two outcomes:

  1. If we succumb to evil and our own nature, then we must live with the consequences either in this live or the next–or both.
  2. If we answer the call of the Spirit within us, then we reap the benefits and fruit of righteousness. We become a little bit more like Him. We experience His love, His joy, His peace; we gain patience, kindness, goodness, and we become faithful and gentle, even as we increase in self-control. We learn truth and practice righteousness.

Paul expressed this process in this way:

21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

Randy Lind, our state Music Director, shared the anecdote about texting the song, “I Love to Tell the Story,” and his predictive text changing it to “I Live to Tell the Story.” He looked down and realized that the predictive text version was more accurate than the real title!

We must ask ourselves this question, “Is my goal to please myself or to please my Lord?” This question plays a part in every decision we make. If we have truly given our heart and life to Jesus, then we want what He wants. If we are still resistant to the Spirit and what Jesus wants, we need to take the test in 2 Corinthians:

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 2 Corinthians 13:5

We who are in Christ:

  1. Are sanctified by Him. John 17:19
  2. Are being conformed into His image. Romans 8:29
  3. Are being transformed into His likeness. 2 Corinthians 3:18
  4. Are being renewed inwardly day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
  5. Are having Christ formed in us. Galatians 4:19
  6. Are being renewed in the image of our Creator. Colossians 3:10
  7. Are being strengthened by His power through His Spirit in our inner being. Ephesians 3:16
  8. Are having our needs met according to God’s glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
  9. Participate in the divine nature by living according to His very great and precious promises, thus escaping the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4
  10. Have the glorious riches of the mystery of Christ in us so that through us He might make this mystery known to the world. Colossians 1:27

NOTE: If you don’t have these verses highlighted and linked, it would be a good thing to do.

Abba, You have invested so much in me. I want to give back to You all I can. Even THAT takes You working in and through me! Have Your way in me, O Lord. I want all to know that Christ lives in me! Amen.

Proverbs 11 9-11-19

Today is 9/11. We remember that tragic day when we saw the extent of evil in this world. Were it not for the Spirit, where would we be?

(18) A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.

We have a fight inside of us. Were the Holy Spirit not present in our lives, there would be no fight. We would be easily won over to a cause, to temptation, to seduction, and would be easy prey for the Enemy (Satan). Anything we could justify we would do with no guilt–on the contrary, we would feel satisfaction! Proverbs 15:21 tells us that “folly delights a person who has no sense [Holy Spirit].” 

But, we DO have the Holy Spirit, therefore we struggle each day to overcome our base desires and to do what pleases Him. Knowing that I am already pleasing to Him positionally helps, but it doesn’t erase the heaviness I feel when I have to fight so hard–and often lose–to submit my fleshly desires to the Spirit. I want what I want! But, more than I want what I want, I have a higher desire, which is to please the Lord Jesus. Therefore, I work really hard to “put to death” my natural desires and lean on Him. It’s one of the times that I feel closest to Him. He shares my struggle.

Verses that support this process:

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do [even while loving it].16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me [he is not saved at this point], that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing [even when he tries to do good, he can’t sustain it].20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it [we are all slaves to sin].

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me [his own base desires–his flesh], waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

To a certain extent, we still live here. As long as we are in these “old covenant” bodies, we will fight the natural desires of this flesh. But, look at what Jesus has done for us:

8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 7:14-8:2

In the Greek, this phrase reads, “Therefore, NO CONDEMNATION!!! for those who are in Christ Jesus!” This is the part we live by faith: to receive according to His word that we are pleasing to Him.

As for Him sharing my struggle,

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Dear Lord Jesus, may I take advantage of Your grace and humbly submit myself to You today. My hope is that by staying in Your presence, I would have Your perspective of sin and temptation and be able to resist it. May I not turn my back on You in order to sin, O Lord! In so many ways, I am still like a 2-year-old spiritually. Grow me up, Lord. Give me wisdom so that I CAN see from Your perspective, but I will need Your strength and Your power in order to actually overcome sin and temptation in my life. I can NEVER do it on my own. Fill me up, Lord, with Your Presence. I will certainly need Your Participation. Amen.