Proverbs 12 11-12-20

Becoming like Christ is our goal. His Spirit lives in us and leads us, but it’s still hard work. Our sin nature rebels.

1 Whoever loves [the LORD’s] discipline loves knowledge [from the Word of God], but whoever hates correction is stupid [spiritually ignorant and rebellious].

To keep from being stupid (spiritually ignorant and rebellious), let’s learn from the Word of God:

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James 1:19-21

  1. Brothers and sisters- we ALL are to take part in this exercise.
  2. Quick to listen, slow to speak- we have been given two ears and only one mouth; use them accordingly.
  3. Slow to become angry- James gives us the reason immediately after: “Because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
    1. It’s OUR anger and not God’s, so don’t claim a righteous anger;
    2. It produces, but not what God wants;
    3. God desires us to have His righteousness, the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  4. Moral filth- Thoughts and actions that are not Spirit-led.
  5. Prevalent evil- the enemy is always lurking, seeking those lambs who wander away from the Shepherd. STAY CLOSE TO THE SHEPHERD.
  6. Humbly accept the Word planted in you- The Spirit has planted His Word in our hearts and lives; cultivate it. Why?
  7. His Word- Because it can save you from all kinds of pitfalls, temptations, hidden snares, heartache and damage. “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I [Christ] have come to give life in abundance.” John 10:10

STEPPING BACK

In order to give ourselves time to respond rather than react, we must step back mentally so that we can get an objective perspective to the situation. Stepping back requires maturity and patience, so don’t think that it’s easy or that you will learn it quickly. At the same time, it will bring great rewards to those who choose to practice it. We need some tools, though. We will talk about those tools tomorrow.

For today, let’s ask the LORD to reveal to us evil and filth in our lives, whether it is on us or simply around us. Then, let’s read His Word and humbly accept His message for us today.

Abba, I humbly receive and accept Your message concerning anger. May I be quick to listen, slow to speak, and even slower to get angry. I will leave judgment to You, LORD, and I will focus on being kind and compassionate. May my words be full of grace, seasoned with the salt of Your teaching, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 12 10-12-20

How do we keep our love for God from growing cold? It’s hard to sustain a one-sided relationship…

15 The way of [arrogant] fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice [from the Holy Spirit].
24 Diligent hands will rule [our own hearts], but laziness ends in forced labor [in bondage to sin].

Jesus made a comment in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) that applies to today’s times,

12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:12-13

We tend to be influenced by our surroundings, be it work, TV, internet, books, those with whom we hang, media, etc. There are a thousand voices out there, but there is only ONE to which we are to listen, and that Voice is the Holy Spirit who is within us.

A one-sided relationship is one that only one person in the relationship is trying. One is a giver and the other is a taker. What makes a relationship work is when both parties are givers. In order for us to determine who is the giver and who is the taker in our relationship with the LORD, let’s read:

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:4-6

You will notice that we are BOTH givers and takers. We are in a partnership with the LORD. Our relationship is symbiotic. The problem comes when we don’t recognize when He’s giving to us. Let me set your mind at ease: We don’t have to work so hard at our relationship with the LORD; we just have to work diligently. In other words, let’s be steady in our walk with Him.

Most people think that praying to God, reading our Bibles, and going to church is the extent of our responsibilities as a good follower of Jesus Christ. Yes and no. HOW we do these things makes ALL the difference in the world. If you’ll notice, praying to God and reading our Bibles are seen as two different things. NOT SO! Reading our Bibles is God talking to us! When we open the Scriptures (the Bible is what we call the collection of God’s love letter to us), we open a line of communication between God and us. The Spirit speaks to us through God’s Word. For instance, when we read about King David, we “realize” (via the Holy Spirit talking to us) that we are capable of great love, but also great failure; when we read of King Solomon, we “realize” that the things of this world, in his case his many foreign wives, can lead us astray; when we read of Paul, we “realize” that a true encounter with the LORD Jesus will change our minds and hearts in an instant.

If you want to know what God thinks, ask Him and then read His Word. He wrote it down for us so that we wouldn’t miss it! He even instilled the Holy Spirit to interpret His Words. Do you really want to know? It’s a question of Lordship.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would choose You to be LORD of their lives today, and then tomorrow to make the same choice. I know that if I do it categorically, then I am much more likely to make every decision based upon that first decision. May they find this truth for themselves as You call us to our commitment. If we listen, You are calling us into a permanent, lasting, intimate conversation with You: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will show you great and wondrous things that you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 (God’s phone number). I’m calling, LORD. Let’s talk.

Proverbs 12 9-12-20

We are comprised of our thoughts. They reveal who we are.

8 A person is praised according to their prudence, and one with a warped mind is despised.

The ability to think is our greatest evidence of the existence of God. “I think, therefore I am.“ Christ calls us to take every thought captive to Him and for Him.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV)

[3] For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. [4] The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. [5] We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Is this task even possible? Not without the Holy Spirit! What we must learn to do is to take every thought and run it through these filters:

1. Is it true? According to the facts, is what I am going to say or what I am thinking lining up with what I know to be true?

2. Is it verifiable? Is there proof either in scripture, in evidence, or by testimony for what I am thinking?

3. Is it prudent? Does it need to be said? Will it help or hurt the person or situation?

4. Is it the right time? Timing is everything. It needs to be the right place, right time, right people, and the right moment.

There is a hack for this exercise. It is in knowing the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit will call to our minds verses that give us God’s opinion on every matter. Right now you are either thinking, “that’s a great idea,“ or,“ that’s impossible,“ or, “that’s too much work.” Each of these thought responses tells us something about ourselves. They even reveal our temperaments. Knowing our tendencies will help us to work through our initial reaction and enable us to respond in a godly fashion. Each godly thought builds our character and makes us more like Jesus.

Let’s use these filters today in our conversation with people, as we are driving, as we watch TV or surf the Internet, and even as we read God’s Word (why this one? Because we may have been taught something that the Holy Spirit may question).

Abba, help us to stop and consider a godly response rather than reacting with a natural (fleshly) response. Our desire is to be like You (which comes from the Holy Spirit). Make it so, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 12 8-12-20

Yesterday, I called us to get serious about our relationship with Jesus. Today, we look at HOW to do it.

11 Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies [mirages, smoke and mirrors] have no sense.

The blessings of Christ may be different than you were led to believe. Jesus said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world,” (John 18:36), and neither are most of His blessings. He DOES take care of our earthly needs, such as food, drink, and clothing (Matthew 6:25-32). What He asks of us is to seek His spiritual kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Chasing after the things of this world only leads to slavery of the soul (John 8:34).

12 The wicked desire the plunder of evildoers, but the root of the righteous endures.
23:17-18 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

I’m going to go a step further. Anything we think, say, or do that is NOT HOLY SPIRIT-GUIDED leads to sin–in fact, it is sin already because it is done in OUR power and by OUR will, not His. If we understand this statement, then we are ready for the HARD passage:

If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. Matthew 18:8-9

A rather gruesome illustration, isn’t it? Jesus got graphic because the topic is REALLY IMPORTANT. Things in our lives that cause us to look away from Him lead us back into sin and slavery. SIN DESTROYS US. Salvation is NOT just a one-time event, but rather the beginning of our relationship with Christ that leads us out of a life of sin and into His glorious light. Jesus gives three examples:

  1. Our hand- It is representative of what we do. All we do must be Spirit-led or it is of the flesh (our sinful nature). We are either gathering with Jesus or scattering against Him (Matthew 12:30).
  2. Our foot- It is representative of where we go. Jesus said, “Follow Me.”  It wasn’t a suggestion; it’s a way of life, THE WAY of life. Jesus is the Way, He is our Truth, and He is our life. HE is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). When we seek the Father daily, we seek Him THROUGH Jesus.
  3. Our eye- It is representative of what we see. Peter had his eyes on Jesus and he was walking on water! (See Matthew 14:22-33). But then, he looked at the wind and waves and began to sink. He cried out to Jesus, who reached out and lifted him up. They walked on water together back to the boat. The writer of Hebrews tells us that when we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can endure anything (Hebrews 12:1-3).

We must be willing to give up anything and everything that hinders us from setting our eyes on Jesus and keeping them there. The ONE thing that I don’t want to happen is for Mark 4:19 to come true in my life: “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word [the things Jesus told me], making it [me] unfruitful.”

How about you? Are your ready and willing to lay everything on the altar–even yourself? It’s what it takes to follow Christ. “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies [lives] to God because of all he has done for you. Let them [our lives] be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” Romans 12:1.

Abba, I am willing. I’ve been willing through the years, but I must keep on being willing. I want to finish well. My goal is to hear You say to me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come and share your Master’s happiness (Matthew 25:21).” May I die to myself daily, take up my cross and follow You wherever You lead (Luke 9:23). I know You’ll equip me, energize me, uphold me, and eventually deliver me right into my Father’s arms! I can hardly wait, LORD. Until then, I remain Your humble servant.

Proverbs 12 7-12-20

What will it take for you to be desperate for Jesus? How bad do things have to get before you’ll come to Him?

9 Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food.

Let’s be honest: We aren’t honest by nature. Our flesh wants to boast, so we pretend, we lie, and we create bubbles of illusion in order for people to think more highly of us. I’ve done it before–and how humiliating it is to have to ‘fess up to the truth. At the same time, isn’t it liberating once the truth is out there? All of a sudden, we are free of the tangled webs of deceit and we can now worship the LORD in righteousness and truth.

King David is a prime example of the freeing nature of truth. When David is confronted by the prophet Nathan for his sin of adultery with Bathsheba, pregnancy, and subsequent “murder” of her husband, David repented publicly. Even so, the consequences of his sin extended to his family beginning with the child dying and culminating in the rape of his daughter by another son, the murder of that son by Absalom, and then the rebellion of Absalom (2 Samuel 12:1-18:17). Yet, David knew to come clean with God, and God forgave him. Their relationship was restored.

David wrote psalm 51 out of meekness of heart and true repentance. His honesty brought him close to God once again. Here are some key verses from that psalm:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast [right] spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me [we have His promise on this one].
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

As we can see, honesty is truly the best policy with the LORD. Let’s be honest with Him this morning as we head into worship. He KNOWS our hearts, so there’s no need to hide anything or to pretend. He wants to help us, to heal us, to guide us, and to be with us. It’s our pride and our strong wills that keep us from being set free to fellowship with Him. TODAY’S THE DAY. LET’S GET RIGHT WITH GOD.

“Give it up; Let it go; Throw it down.”

Abba, even as You asked for Moses’ rod, You ask for my life and for the rights to my life. I willingly give them to You. All I do is make a mess of things. Not only that, I’m never happy when I’m in charge: Things go differently than I want them to and I get mad; then I start lashing out at people. It’s ugly–I’m ugly. I need You. “Take my life and form it; take my mind, transform it; take my will, conform it to Yours, to Yours, O LORD.” Have Your way in me today. Amen.

 

Proverbs 12 6-12-20

Bad News/Good News. We are all born on the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak.

No one can be established through wickedness [doing things our way, even if it seems right], but the righteous [those who know and listen to God] cannot be uprooted.

We are naturally followers of Satan because we do not know God. In fact, the Law doesn’t make us sinners; it proves to us that we ARE sinners! Here’s how it works:

Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power.At one time I lived without understanding the law. But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life,10 and I died. Romans 7:7-10a NLV

Without the Law, I would never have known that I was a sinner. It put a name to my desires and actions. I did not know that I was coveting until the Law told me what coveting was. If not coveting, then we could insert lust, hate, greed, idolatry, and arrogance, for all of these are components of the 10 Commandments; coveting was simply the one that Paul chose to use.

Sometimes, it helps to read it from another translation. Here’s the Amplified Version:

What then do we conclude? Is the Law identical with sin? Certainly not! Nevertheless, if it had not been for the Law, I should not have recognized sin or have known its meaning. [For instance] I would not have known about covetousness [would have had no consciousness of sin or sense of guilt] if the Law had not [repeatedly] said, You shall not covet and have an evil desire [for one thing and another].
But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment [to express itself], got a hold on me and aroused and stimulated all kinds of forbidden desires (lust, covetousness, etc). For without the Law sin is dead [the sense of it is inactive and a lifeless thing].
Once I was alive [through Adam], but quite apart from and unconscious of the Law. But when the commandment came, sin lived again and I died (was sentenced by the Law to death) [through Adam-based upon Romans 5:12].

That’s the bad news. Here’s the GOOD NEWS: Jesus not only paid our death penalty, He arranged for us to be adopted into His family as His brothers and sisters! Here is our SALVATION:

18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Jesus Christ] the many [we] will be made righteous. Romans 5:18-19 NIV

So, through Jesus we are declared righteous in God’s sight. We’ve been washed in the blood of Jesus and made clean! The Law pointed out to us what we deserved; Grace gave us what we needed. Watch:

20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20-21 NIV

Now, a lost person doesn’t need to know all of this doctrine in order to be saved. In fact, it would probably hinder more than it would help. What they need to know is:

  1. They are deceived, living without God in their lives, following the deceptive paths of the devil, and slaves to our own passions and lusts–our sin natures.
  2. Jesus wants to save them from their lives of destruction. He will come into their lives, cleanse them of their sin, free them from the bondage of the devil, and lead them into truth and godliness (God-like-ness).
  3. All that is required is that they give their lives to Him, lock, stock and barrel, from this point on, and walk with Him routinely.

The question is, are they willing to do that? Hey, are WE willing to do that?!

Abba, I pray that we would learn so much about what You did for us in salvation that we can share it with others, answering their questions, handling GENTLY their objections, and guiding them to a point of decision. I know that the ultimate decision is between You and them; I just want to make sure that they get the chance to trust You. I know You do, too. Amen.

Proverbs 12 5-12-20

Today, I will share things I learned from the COVID19 Quarantine. I begin with this verse:

20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.

I temper this verse with the next one:

21 No harm overtakes the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble. Rephrased: The righteous do not worry about the harmful effects of COVID19 because God is in charge of our lives, but the wicked have no such security and see danger everywhere.

I am not saying that we are to be cavalier about the illness. It’s the difference between a healthy fear and an irrational one.

This next verse makes me tremble:

23 The prudent keep their knowledge [opinion] to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.

I have great suspicion concerning the origination of COVID19; I also question the direction taken for curbing it. Those I will keep to myself (prudence). What I will say is what God has revealed to me about me and about the church.

  • I have a rebel’s heart. I hate being told what I can do and what I can’t do, like have physical contact. I resist being told what to do, like wear a mask. I chafe at restrictions.
  • I am not afraid for my own life as much as I am at being a carrier and infecting someone else.
  • My life didn’t slow down; it just got rearranged–especially at work!
  • Regardless of its origin, this pandemic showed me how quickly we can be shut down as a nation and as a church.
  • I believe that Satan will use this tool again. Those in power got a good taste of what they can do. We will be ready for the next one.
  • I have come to see “the assembling of ourselves together” as a privilege rather than a duty. I have also come to see it as vital. We need each other. Physically.
  • It has revealed those who hunger and thirst after righteousness and those who merely attend church as just another part of their lives. It will be interesting–and sad– to see who comes back and who simply drifts away.

As we get back together over these next few weeks, may we seek the Lord’s timing for each of us and not hold each other in contempt for either coming back so quickly or for sequestering longer than most. God is happy with you even when it’s just Him and you. He knows, though, that we need encouragement and interaction in order for us to be emotionally happy and healthy. He created us social creatures.

Some of you introverts are questioning that statement right now, aren’t you? Consider what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that each of us is the temple of the Holy Spirit. But he had also said in 3:16 that we as a group “are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in our midst.” We are made to be together. Let’s pray for each other that our joy may be complete as we worship together again.

Abba, help me to learn as much as I can during this trying time. May it make me a better minister. Give me compassion, focus, and vision as we move into a post-Covid19 world. I know I need to be more intentional about my flock, LORD. Give me new strategies for keeping up with them and encouraging my readers to seek You daily. Amen.

Proverbs 12 4-12-20

IT’S RESURRECTION SUNDAY!

What does the resurrection mean for humanity? For us? What happened spiritually?

28 In the way of righteousness there is life;
    along that path is immortality.

Jesus took our sin and its punishment to the grave with Him. His body died just like the rest of humanity. The difference is that He had drunk the cup of God’s wrath and it all went with Him to the grave. Don’t you know Satan was shocked and appalled when Christ walked into his domain and demanded the keys to death and hell! John gives this account of his encounter with the risen LORD:

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades [hell]. Revelation 1:17-18

Jesus had kept this part of the Plan a secret until He had accomplished it. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians:

No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Now comes the inconceivable part: “before time began.” Why would God go to so much trouble if He knew how much trouble we would be? It was all part of the “made in His image” where we are given the opportunity and privilege to chose to love Him and serve Him–and reign with Him. God is Omnipresent, which means that He is everywhere at once. He fills the universe both in space and in time. He is in all times, which means that He knows the “beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13), yet chooses to live in the present with us. He is ever-present. Choosing to acknowledge Him pleases Him immensely!

When Jesus’ spirit entered His body and he awakened in that tomb, I wonder where He went. The angel rolled the stone away to show that He wasn’t in the tomb:

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:2-6

For your listening pleasure: Rise Again – Dallas Holm

My favorite passage is Philippians 2:5-11. It tells the entire story in song format. Many wonder if it was one of the first Christian hymns. It is essentially the song, “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High:

You came from heaven to earth to show the waybeing in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

From the earth to the cross my debt to pay – And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!

From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky – Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should [shall] bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge/confess that Jesus Christ is LORD,

Lord, I lift your name on high – to the glory of God the Father.

Because of the Resurrection, we can lift the name of Jesus on high. LET’S DO IT!

Dear LORD Jesus, thank You for having Your plan and working Your plan so that I could have eternal life with You. Thank You for entering my heart and life and giving me everlasting life immediately! From now on, it just gets better and better as I move through this life and eventually to a new and better life with You. May we remember those who have already gone ahead of us, and may we patiently await Your Return. Receive Your church’s praise today, O LORD, amen.

Proverbs 3-12-20

“Keep your eyes on the prize.” What is our prize? The things of this world? Relationships? Only Jesus!

28 In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.

33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness [HIM!], and all these things [the things we need] will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

In our Christian lives, we go through stages:

  1. Salvation- When we come to the LORD for new life and for washing in the blood of Christ, we feel jubilant, radiant, grateful, and exuberant. At the same time, we feel peaceful, content, relieved, and joyful. We are excited about following Christ and we promise all kinds of things.
  2. The Adjustment Period- As we walk with Him, we find that there are many things in our lives that aren’t righteous. Jesus begins to ask us to give them up. Also, He begins to add to our lives things that make us righteous. His goal is for us to be just like Him. A lot of stumbling goes on during this time. But, Jesus is patient and long-suffering. He KNOWS our struggles and helps us through them. His Spirit is quick to give encouragement and strength as needed, especially when we ask for it! Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” This is one of my life verses.
  3. Cruising Speed- There comes a point where we hit our stride spiritually. We are doing all the right things (mostly) and we are not doing what we used to do before coming to Christ. We are trying to put what we know into practice and are still learning to lean on Him for perspective, insight, and guidance. Things can rock along for years in this stage.
  4. Abandonment- This stage is a two-edged sword. Whether it’s the death of someone close, major medical issues, loss of employment, empty nest, or even retirement, there comes a time when we may feel abandoned by the LORD. Know this:
    1. Jesus said that He would never leave us or forsake us. Hebrews 13:5
    2. Between green pastures are valleys of “death.” We are walking from one pasture to the next. Psalm 23:4
    3. Jesus’ kingdom is not currently of this world and neither is ours. John 18:36, Philippians 3:20-21
    4. He will meet our every need according to His riches in glory. Philippians 4:19
    5. He wants us with Him. John 17:24
  5. Complete surrender- We abandon all for Christ. There comes a time when we finally understand that there is nothing in this world worth taking our eyes off of Christ. It is at this point that we realize that everything we have gone through is to get us to this point. Surrendering to Christ from this point on is easy. It’s the logical choice, the one that will bring us the most joy and peace. The radiance of His presence in our lives is worth all the heartaches, trials, and misfortunes we have endured–or are currently enduring.

Walking with Jesus is not for the faint of heart. When He calls us to follow Him, there is a cross at the end of the line. We have this promise:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

No matter what stage we are in, let us “fix our eyes on Jesus” and make Him our ultimate goal. Let’s be ready to give up everything and follow Him wherever He leads us. I pray that His next destination for us is REVIVAL!

Abba, walking with You has been an adventure! And, it’s not over!!! I am looking forward to all You have in store for me–even the heartaches and trials that are inevitable. I know that through them I will become stronger in my dependence on You, I will see You more clearly, and I will feel You more intensely as I lean in on You. Spending time in Your presence is becoming a preference over many things. May I not be so heavenly minded that I am of no earthly good, LORD! I want to be Your hands and feet today. May it be so. Amen.

 

Proverbs 12 2-12-20

The life we live is like building a house. Be careful of the materials you use.

24 Diligent hands will rule, but laziness and in forced labor.

This entire chapter is about the natural benefits and/or consequences of our actions. The wicked who deal in wickedness are effectively the selfish who deal and selfishness. They act according to how they feel rather than what they know to be right.

Motivation is everything. Those who have the Holy Spirit are led and controlled by the Holy Spirit. Those who do not have His Spirit are controlled by their own selfish desires. We are naturally wayward people. We must learn to become a supernatural people by His power and His Spirit. In fact, we should not even try to be better versions of ourselves, but rather be reflectors of Christ. We can only be successful by His power, which is at work within us.

Colossians 1:29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

Zechariah 4:6 So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”

As we go through today, let us be aware of his presence, participate in his plan, and work according to his power.

ABBA, I know how hard it is because I struggle with it in my life. May I set myself aside and allow you to lead in my life. I don’t want to be a better version of me; I want to be a reflector of you! May it be so in my life today. Amen. 

Proverbs 12 1-12-20

Putting ourselves in a place to hear truth is what church is all about! The question is: Do we really want TRUTH?

20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace [and truth] have joy.

The first part of this verse can be taken two ways:

  1. Those who plot evil intentionally deceive;
  2. Those who plot evil are deceived into doing so.

The second are people who unwittingly do the will of the first. We cannot ever forget that we have an enemy, the devil, whose primary language is lying. Here’s how Jesus describes him:

44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

Jesus also said in that same chapter, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32 What truth? The truth about the Gospel, which is the Good News of Jesus Christ. What IS the Gospel?

  1. God created mankind to love Him.
  2. Mankind sinned.
  3. Jesus came to pay for our sin by dying in our place and then rising again.
  4. He offers new life to all who will die through Him and allow Him to rise in their hearts.
  5. In His time, He will right this world and we will live with Him forever as it was originally intended.

The first two chapters of Genesis and the last two chapters of Revelation are bookends of the Christian story. Either both are literally true or neither are literally true because Christ is the Hero of both the beginning and the end. In fact, He calls Himself the Beginning and the End:

13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Revelation 22:13

Satan has deceived the world through Evolution and thus undermined the Gospel.

Today at our church, Creation Truth Ministries will be presenting truth about the literal account of the first 11 chapters of Genesis using archeology and other sciences. If you are in the area, that presentation is tonight at 5:00. I would LOVE to have you come. If you are not in the area, please pray that truth would prevail over the deception that Satan has placed in the minds of many through Evolution teaching. May people turn to Christ and His Word through this presentation.

Jesus believed in a real Adam and Eve, the Great Flood, and Jonah’s account. We should, too. I am reminded of what Jesus said at the end of the Sermon on the Mount:

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

CREATION IS THE FOUNDATION OF THE GOSPEL

Abba, may You pique people’s interest as they see the dinosaur bones onstage today. May they come tonight with open minds and ready to hear truth. May they listen to Your Spirit as You confirm truth to them. May they adjust their thinking from what they have known or been taught that is wrong to that which is right. Increase our faith, O LORD, through the knowledge of the truth, and as You do, increase our joy and peace, as well. Looking forward to great things today. Amen.

Proverbs 12 12-12-19

Do you know what Christ is doing for you right now, this very moment? He is praying for you! The Spirit, too!

14 From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,
    and the work of their hands brings them reward.

There is something about a job well done that satisfies a person. It’s one of the built-in benefits of being human. God created us to enjoy our work. The body releases dopamine even when we think about things we have accomplished and we feel a lift to our spirits.

There is a spiritual correlation to this truth. When we turn our hearts to the LORD and regard Him in His Word, we feel the love and joy of the LORD as He speaks to our hearts. Not only does He address us when we acknowledge Him, the LORD Jesus, in light of His sacrifice, is our Intercession before the Father (Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross intercedes eternally for those who claim it). When we pray, the Holy Spirit takes our prayers and supercharges them! He interprets them and communicates them to the Father in ways we can never understand here on earth. Let’s read it:

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. 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.

What can we glean from this passage?

  1. We are weak. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, our prayers are powerless. We must be in touch with Him in order to accomplish anything spiritually.
  2. There is One who searches our hearts and knows our deepest thoughts: The One who lives in our hearts! Jesus knows us inside and out. We should never try to hide anything from Him. Let’s acknowledge our sinful tendencies and ask for help.
  3. The Spirit always prays according to God’s will for us. In other words, it’s all about God’s Plan. We would do well to orient our lives according to His Plan. What IS His Plan? To bring all things under the authority of Christ.

7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become [revealed to the world that I am] your father. 8 Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. Psalm 2:7-8

That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:19b-23

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements [earth] will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 2 Peter 3:11-14

If this is the case, then we should hold loosely to the things of this world and be ready to do His will at a moment’s notice. The only way to be ready is to be in constant contact with Him. It’s called conversational prayer. It’s like video-calling someone and putting him on speakerphone–and leaving the line open! THIS is how we should live our lives. It’s not so much Him checking up on us to see if we are living godly lives; it’s Him leading us around the landmines of sin in a sin-filled world.

Let’s be about the Father’s business today as we stay in touch with Him throughout the day.

Abba, I pray that You would reveal Yourself to us as we go through our day. May we sense Your presence and participation in our lives; may we recognize Your direction as You point out different things to us; may we receive Your revelation about a situation or a person and how to best minister in that situation or to that person; may we give You glory as we exult in our interaction with You! May You be honored, magnified and glorified. Amen.

Proverbs 12 11-12-19

What we do in an emergency has already been established by the routine of our lives. It’s what training is all about.

To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.

Wickedness never brings stability, but the godly have deep roots.

Bringing DESIRE under control is what Christ wants to do in our hearts. His Spirit works with us daily, even constantly, to master our desires. Actually, we don’t really ever master them; we learn to take them to the altar and leave them there, replacing them with the nature and character of Christ.

We get a good snapshot of Christ’s character in 1 Corinthians 13. Just remember that God is love (1 John 4:16) and that Christ the Son is God (John 1:18, 10:30, 14:9), therefore Jesus is love.

Love [Jesus] is patient and kind. Love [Jesus] is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It [He] does not demand its [His] own way. It [He] is not irritable, and it [He] keeps no record of being wronged [–ever, now or in eternity, so lose the idea of us having to give an account for our lives in heaven]. It [He] does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love [Jesus] never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Jesus wants us to become JUST LIKE HIM. In fact, His Spirit is at work right now creating in us the character of Christ–if we let Him. He wants us to be patient and kind (numbers four and five in the list of the fruit of the Spirit), He does not want us to be jealous of what we have, but to share generously with others–within the scope of goodness. He does not want us to be proud and rude, but gentle and meek (controlled strength). He is not irritable, therefore we should strive to not be irritable (that’s a hard one!). Jesus does not keep a record of wrongs, therefore, we should learn to forgive and forget (render the memory powerless). He rejoices when truth is discovered and honored. He never gives up on us, never loses faith in us, is always hopeful for us, and endures through every circumstance with us. He LOVES us!

Let’s ask the LORD to make us more like Him today. Of course, we will need opportunities to exercise this righteousness He gives us, so look for ways to show that Christ is in you today. In fact, ask Him to live through you and with you all day today. You and He will have a great time together!

Abba, I know the process of becoming like You (sanctification) is long and slow, and I can hardly tell that You’ve done anything because I still fight the same old temptations, but I am encouraged when others tell me that they can see how You’ve changed me through the years–and tears. May I never quit–or even relax–striving to be like You, LORD. May You have Your way with me everyday, TODAY. Amen.

Proverbs 12 9-12-19

Everything we say and everything we do has a reward or a consequence. We don’t set the standard; God does.

(14) From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward.

We take our cue from Jesus, who  was powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.” Luke 24:19

We learn from the Apostle Paul that we are to value highly what we say and do:

(17) And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

What is interesting is that in order to have control over our words, we must have control over our minds and thoughts, which also gives us power over our actions.

Verses on taking control of our thoughts:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments [in our minds] and every pretension [lie and deception] that sets itself up against the knowledge of God [that which is counter to His holiness], and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5  We are in a battle everyday!

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy [His grace poured out on us], to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice [climb up on the altar], holy and pleasing to God [this is how we are in God’s sight because of the blood of Jesus]—this is your true and proper worship [we worship out of gratitude in our hearts!].Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind [through prayer and Bible study]. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will [for each word and deed]. Romans 12:1-2

How seriously we take these verses and the task of yielding our words and deeds to the LORD speaks loudly about where we think we stand in God’s eyes. Jesus said this to Simon the Pharisee:

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:41-47

How much do we think we have been forgiven? Let’s let this question determine how hard we try in the area of mastering our words and deeds. Just remember that our dependence upon the Holy Spirit is the sure way to victory. To do it in our own power is actually counter-productive for a Christian. It is trying to use pre-salvation methods to gain post-salvation fruit. Let’s call on Him who has given us love and grace, encouragement and hope, to strengthen us in every good deed and word.

16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17