Proverbs 13 10-13-22

Some people don’t believe that the Bible is God’s revealed word to mankind. I know by experience that it is!

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

When Paul was writing the letter to the Colossians (sometime between AD 61-63), the Gospel of Mark was probably the only Gospel written. When Paul talked about receiving Christ, being rooted and built up in Him, he was talking about the Person of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures validate and confirm what we know to be true in our hearts. Paul states in Colossians 2:6-7,

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Another point of interest is that Paul didn’t tell them to live FOR Christ, but to live IN Christ. Yet, Christ is in us, so which is it? Well, it’s both. The partnership we began with the Father through the Son by way of the Holy Spirit is just that, a partnership. We do things WITH Christ as He guides us, counsels us, and encourages us to keep walking in step with Him, and to keep fighting the good fight of faith. How do we fight? By taking every thought captive to Christ,

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 10:5

That verse comes from yet another one of Paul’s letters, as does walking in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).

I read the Bible to learn, but I also read it to hear. I trust the Bible because I trust its writers. They knew Jesus Christ personally. I also trust the Holy Spirit who speaks to me through the Scriptures. That in itself is enough to convince me. The rest of my faith comes through experience. The truths that Paul taught in his letters bear fruit in my life. I am more like Jesus because I practice Paul’s truths, as well as Matthew’s, Mark’s, Luke’s, John’s, Peter’s, and the writer of Hebrews’ truths.

I trust the Old Testament because I have no reason to doubt it. Jesus trusted it as well as Paul, and they knew it inside and out. If it’s good enough for them, then it’s good enough for me.

I trust the leaders of the church in AD 325 at the Counsel of Nicaea who canonized the Scriptures. Although the Orthodox and Catholic churches have a few other books that they consider to be canon-worthy, we all at least have the same 66 books in our Bibles. It’s not that the counsel decided which books to put in the Bible; they took the ones that Christians had been reading for years and were universally accepted as Scripture. We’ve had no real reason to doubt their decision. We may not understand all that is in the Bible, but that’s to be expected with our limited point of view:

  • Our lives are less than 100 years long, so we didn’t live back when they were written;
  • We live in a different culture,
  • speak a different language,
  • and live in a different country.

As Colossians 2:6-7 says, the key to following Jesus is living a life of thankfulness. Our relationship with Him is worth anything and everything. Let us strive to learn more, grow more, and converse more with Jesus.

Abba, I am thankful. The more I know of You, Your plan, and how much You love me, my thankfulness overflows. Please ground me in the truth of Your Word. I know that I will be strengthened in the faith. Teach me, O Lord, I pray. Amen.

Proverbs 13 9-13-22

Ever wondered why you were created? The answer is simple: “To glorify (love) God and enjoy Him forever.”

Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

We continue our look at the Baptist Faith & Message today with:

V. God’s Purpose of Grace

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.
All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-8; 1 Samuel 8:4-7,19-22; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 31:31ff.; Matthew 16:18-19; 21:28-45; 24:22,31; 25:34; Luke 1:68-79; 2:29-32; 19:41-44; 24:44-48; John 1:12-14; 3:16; 5:24; 6:44-45,65; 10:27-29; 15:16; 17:6,12,17-18; Acts 20:32; Romans 5:9-10; 8:28-39; 10:12-15; 11:5-7,26-36; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 15:24-28; Ephesians 1:4-23; 2:1-10; 3:1-11; Colossians 1:12-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2:10,19; Hebrews 11:39–12:2; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:2-5,13; 2:4-10; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:19; 3:2.

Talk about a lot in one paragraph! God created us to love Him, but of our own accord. Once we turn to Him in love by responding to His love, we enter a new dimension of being: We are invited to join the Trinity at the table of Communion. Right now, it’s by faith, but one day, “we shall see face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Abba, I long for the day when I sit at Your table and enjoy the presence of the Trinity along with all my brothers and sisters in Christ. It will be a glorious day, the Wedding Feast of the Lamb! I can hardly wait. Amen.

Proverbs 13 8-13-22

More than just a frame for our bodies, our bones give us life. “Life is in the blood.” Lev. 17:11

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

Yesterday, we looked at the two types of bones we have in our bodies, compact bone (compact for hardness and strength) and spongy bone; it’s called “spongy” because of the way it looks. The spongy bone is still hard, but it provides loads of surface area for the storage of nutrients and minerals. Let’s look at the three functions of our bones. From, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body, page 51-52

First, bones have several mechanical functions. For example, they protect the body’s vital organs; they serve as a framework to which the muscles and organs are attached; and they allow the body to move by means of muscles contracting across joints.

A second important function for bone is to help maintain precise levels of calcium and phosphorus in our blood and tissue fluids (a process called mineral homeostasis). Bone serves as a depot for storing and removing these minerals as needed. Among other things, calcium is vital for cells to stick together and for muscles to contract, while phosphorus is an essential ingredient in many complex chemicals, such as DNA and RNA.

Finally, an exceedingly important function of bone is to produce blood in bone marrow. The marrow produces both red and white blood cells. Red blood cells are essential for carrying oxygen to all the cells in our body, while white blood cells fight disease and infections.
Special cells in the marrow, called megakaryocytes, produce something else for blood, called platelets. These cells fragments circulate in the blood and are important for blood clotting that patches holes in blood vessels.

Our bones get their strength from their design as tubes. Solid rods actually bend easily; tubes don’t. “Bone itself is a remarkably strong material. It is as strong as cast iron and resists bending as well as steel, though bone is only one-third of steel’s weight.
Bone has the right mix of two very different components: a very hard inorganic material called hydroxyapatite and a tough, fibrous organic material called collagen (the protein of leather). The crystal material makes up about 70% of the dry weight of bone, while collagen makes up most of the remaining 30%.”

Bones seemed so simple before studying up on them! It still amazes me that people cannot see a Master Designer. There’s not a wasted bone in our bodies. We would do well to check our lives for anything that is wasting our energy or drawing us off-point. Hebrews 12:1-2 says,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Abba, our bodies are a work of genius, Your Genius. I feel like David when he looked up at the stars and proclaimed, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” I consider the human body, the work of Your fingers, and I am humbled that You care so much for us that You would rather die–on a cross–than see us destroy ourselves. Even so, these bodies return to dust eventually, but You have new, glorified bodies waiting for us. If these bodies reflect Your glory, how much more glorious will our heavenly bodies be (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). I can hardly wait, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 13 7-13-22

Prophecy doesn’t make things come true; they look ahead and tell us what will happen naturally.

14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.

Yesterday, we were reading in Daniel 9. Let’s review:

24 “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city [Jerusalem] to finish sin, to set an end to sin, to wipe out lawlessness, to atone for wrongdoings, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Holy of Holies.” LXX

Much of this verse seems like code; if it is, then the answer to the code is in the next two verses,

25 “You shall know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the word to be answered and to build Jerusalem, until Christ the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. Then the time shall return, and the streets and the wall shall be built; the times shall be left desolate.
26 “After the sixty-two weeks, the Anointed One shall be put to death, yet there shall be no upright judgment for Him; and he shall destroy the city and the sanctuary with the prince who is coming, and they shall be cut off with a flood, and to the end of the war, which will be cut short, he shall appoint the city to desolations.

Hindsight is 20/20, so we get to apply history to these verses.

  1. The decree by Artaxerxes to allow the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem and their temple was given in 444 B.C.
  2. All the weeks are actually years and add up to 490 years.
  3. There were seven weeks (49 years) to build Jerusalem and the temple, and then sixty-two weeks (441 years) until Christ entered Jerusalem on…a donkey’s colt! After which He was put to death–only to rise again!

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem fulfilled several prophecies to the day and began a week on which all history pivots. On the cross, Jesus reached back with one hand to include all who had already died, and He reached ahead with His other hand to include everyone from that point on. There are three passages that explain this point:

25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he passed over the sins previously committed, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. Romans 3:25-26

32 For God has bound everyone [those before and those after] over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all [at one time]. Roman 11:32

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. Ephesians 2:14-16

Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem that day was, indeed, momentous. What would have happened if He had ridden in on a white stallion? Let’s talk about that tomorrow.

Abba, thank You for telling us ahead of time what was going to happen. It didn’t make sense to the apostles as it happened, but it sure did after You rose from the dead! Thank You for opening their minds to the Scriptures. Please open our minds, too, so that we can appreciate all that You have done for us. Amen.

Proverbs 13 6-13-22

Our image of Jesus is usually taught to us. When we meet Him personally, our image of Him begins to sharpen.

4:18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
    shining ever brighter till the full light of day.

When we start out on our journey with Jesus, we usually have just a vague idea of who He is. As we walk with Him, study our Bibles, and trust Him in life’s journey, we learn much about His character, His humor, and His holiness. We learn that He wants us to be just like Him, so we can consider ourselves in training.

Did you know that “justice” and “righteousness” are the same word in Greek? It means that since Christ’s righteousness has been imputed (given, ascribed) to us (2 Corinthians 5:21), then His justice has been met. All a person need do is come to Christ for His righteousness. That righteousness is the basis for our relationship with the Father. That’s what I like so much about Proverbs 4:18; it describes our walk with (the Spirit of) Jesus to the Father. Will we ever see Him fully? Probably not on this earth, but we have this promise:

12 For now we see obscurely in a mirror, but then it will be face to face.
Now I know partly; then I will know fully, just as God has fully known me.
1 Corinthians 13:12

So, don’t fret if you’re not perfect. We are getting there one step at a time with Him.

Abba, thank You that You do not hold our sins against us, but instead impart Your mercy and grace to us (Hebrews 4:16). May we keep our eyes fixed securely on You and strive to walk in step with You each day. Pretty soon, we will find ourselves at Your throne! O, what a glorious day!!! Amen.

Proverbs 13 5-13-22

A slave who is set free, but comes back to serve his master is not a slave–especially when his master adopts him!

A prudent servant will rule over a disgraceful son
    and will share the inheritance as one of the family.

Knowing that we are to trust Jesus with our lives and to interact with Him on everything, we are now in the right frame of mind to consider portions of Galatians 5. The first passage concerns old religion and old habits,

The Messiah set us free so that we could enjoy freedom! So stand firm, and don’t get yourselves tied down by the chains of slavery.
Look here: I, Paul, am telling you that if you get circumcised, the Messiah will be of no use to you. I testify once more, against every person who gets circumcised, that he is thereby under obligation to perform the entire law. You are split off from the Messiah, you people who want to be justified by the law! You have dropped out of grace. For we are waiting eagerly, by the spirit and by faith, for the hope of righteousness. For in the Messiah, Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any power. What matters is faith, working through love.

It was never about what we do so much as it was why we do what we do. Our response/reaction to any given situation is based upon what we believe about God and about ourselves. For instance, I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said, “No Lives Matter.” Based upon this declaration, I cannot trust that person to come to my aid in case of an accident, to not rob me if given the chance, or to not harm me out of mutual human respect. People who believe that Jesus has set them free from having to do things in order to be right with God, but then try to stay “bless-able” by following a list of rules (usually set by others) have missed the point of freedom in Christ. Our old habits die hard; just ask the Israelites. They got away from the land of Egypt, but Egypt was in their hearts. Only Christ can set us free from that Egypt. Before resorting or reverting to following a set of rules, ask Jesus what He thinks. His opinion is the only one that matters.

Tomorrow, we will look at verses 11-18 and this fight that we have inside us.

Abba, You have set us free from having to do anything to earn Your love. You proved Your love to us by consenting to die at the hands of our religious leaders and then not demanding justice–in fact, You forgave them! Then, to look at Saul (who later was called Paul) and the way You called him without even mentioning his sin other than to ask him why he was fighting You so hard makes me rethink just how far Your forgiveness goes. When I read their testimonies, it gives me hope, “and hope does not disappoint, for You have poured out Your love into our hearts through Your Holy Spirit, whom You have given to us” (Romans 5:5). Thank You, Abba. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Holy Spirit. Amen.

Proverbs 13 4-13-22

We must beware of carrying the “behaving” part of the Old Covenant into the “transformed” part of the New Covenant.

5:1 My child, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, 2 that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.

I’m confused. I just read on GotQuestions.org that mankind has a sin nature and it’s pervasive, that we all are totally depraved. Here is a quote:

Proof of the sin nature abounds. No one has to teach a child to lie or be selfish; rather, we go to great lengths to teach children to tell the truth and put others first. Sinful behavior comes naturally. The news is filled with tragic examples of mankind acting badly. Wherever people are, there is trouble. 

I was inclined to agree until I thought through the matter. Yes, the news is filled with people acting badly; it makes attention-grabbing news. But, the news also carries stories of heroic acts, good deeds, and even penance by do-gooders who may or may not be Christians. So, to say that everyone is bad because we make bad choices ignores the opposite logic that we are good because we make good choices. I believe there are two basic truths that govern our actions:

  1. We are created with the ability to choose. In this ability is the choice to do right or wrong.
  2. We were never intended to make these choices on our own. God made us to be interactive with Him.

For instance, take Peter walking on the water,

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

When Jesus is with us, we need not be afraid of anything: wrong choices, other people’s wrong choices, death, etc. He exhorts us to take courage, for He is with us.

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

Peter wasn’t testing Jesus, he was trying to get to Jesus. Sometimes it seems like impossible circumstances. No Fear! Jesus is with us!

29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 

I believe that if every disciple had jumped out of the boat, they would have all walked to Jesus. He wants us with Him. No Fear.

30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Here is where we get our wires crossed. Peter sinned. Now, before we condemn Peter, let’s look at what it means to sin. Sin means “to miss the mark.” It’s an archery term. The case here is not that Peter did something bad, but that the waves made him fear, which made him take his eyes off Jesus, which made him doubt Jesus and his own ability to get to Jesus. When Peter feared, he “missed the mark” of the truth about Jesus, himself, and his circumstances.

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Evidently, Peter was close enough to Jesus that all He had to do was reach out His hand to catch him. The point is that Jesus did, indeed, catch him. The phrase, “you of little faith,” is literally, “you little faithless one,” which was a term of endearment that Jesus used with them several times. Maybe we should all consider ourselves small children in this department.

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

This is the best part of the story. Peter was with Jesus, in the boat, and on calm seas. One Gospel says that they were immediately on the other shore (John 6:21). They all had a big worship service professing that Jesus is really who He said He is: God.

In the quote from GotQuestions.org, children fight with their God-given right to choose, but over time as they grow, they learn to control those out-of-control thoughts and feelings. Christian or not, most people learn to master their ability to choose. Those who do not pay a very high cost in life. Jesus offers us the wonderful gift of Himself to guide us and to help us make right choices. Tomorrow, we will look at how He guides us and helps us to make right choices. (hint: it has to do with what we think of Him)

Abba, our ability to choose is how we partake in the divine; to choose on our own is what makes us human. Help us to interact with You concerning all decisions. You want to be involved with every area of our lives including our thought life, love life, free time life, opinion life, what we say life, and our belief life. May we turn to You at every opportunity, because I know that at every opportunity You are waiting to pour out Your love, joy and peace, hope and grace on us. You love us; we are Your little children! I love you, too, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 13 3-13-22

Why do bad things happen in this world? Because mankind continues to make bad choices.

25 The righteous eat [spiritual food] to their hearts’ content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.

There is a great paradox, which is:

God is Supreme Ruler of the Universe; everything happens according to His will.
God gave mankind complete free will and receives blessings or consequences according to his actions.

It is impossible to comprehend that these two opposing statements can be true at the same time, but they are. Somehow, God controls mankind’s destiny even as we make our own decisions. He is big enough to weave people’s bad choices into the fabric of the timeline, so Romans 8:28 is true,

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

What is needed in Christians today is a shift from blessings in this life to blessings in the afterlife. The encouragement in Revelation 2:10 is for all of us,

10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Rather than focusing on being blessed in this world, we are to concentrate on being obedient to the Spirit even as Jesus was while He was here on earth. Who knows what He will tell us to do–except Him? Yet, that’s what we signed up for, right? Paul said,

20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

We, too, have been hidden in Christ and have been called to do the works of the Father. We don’t do them for an earthly crown, but for a heavenly one, one that we can then cast at the feet of Jesus!

When bad things happen, let’s not blame God. He didn’t cause them. Our sin did. If we get mad at anyone, let’s get mad at Satan, his deception, our gullibility, and the bad choices of mankind. Let’s latch onto the crown of life that Jesus promises, shall we?

Abba, as we worship You today, may we be aware that this life is fleeting and Your kingdom awaits us. Help us to focus on the true reality of what awaits us when we are with You in that kingdom. Amen.

Proverbs 13 2-13-22

There’s a hidden indictment in this story. Let’s look…

5 The righteous person hates falsehood, but the wicked person brings shame and disgrace.

We have been looking at the passages in John where Jesus identified Himself as God’s Son and, indeed, God in the flesh. As we saw yesterday, chapter 10 is rich with revelation. In this passage, Jesus calls out the religious leadership and even gives them a chance to believe in Him,

27 ‘My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them the life of the coming age. They will never, ever perish, and nobody can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and nobody can snatch them out of my father’s hand. 30 I and the father are one.’
31 So the Judaeans once more picked up stones to stone him.
32 ‘I’ve shown you many fine deeds from the father,’ Jesus replied to them. ‘Which of these deeds [miracles/signs] are you stoning me for?’
33 ‘We’re not stoning you for good deeds,’ replied the Judaeans, ‘but because of blasphemy! Here you are, a mere man, and you’re making yourself into God!’
34 ‘It’s written in your law, isn’t it,’ replied Jesus to them, ‘ “I said, you are gods?” 35 Well, if the law calls people “gods”, people to whom God’s word came (and you can’t set Scripture aside), 36 how can you accuse someone of blasphemy when the father has placed him apart and sent him into the world, and he says, “I am the son of God”?
37 ‘If I’m not doing the works of my father, don’t believe me. 38 But if I am doing them, well – even if you don’t believe me, believe the works! That way you will know and grasp that the father is in me, and I am in the father.’

Jesus was trying to open their eyes to the fact that God can do whatever He likes. If He chose to inhabit a human body–more than that, become a human body–He could, and did! Their own term, “Elohim,” should have given them a big clue (see Proverbs 1-19). But there is more to the verse that Jesus quoted than is given. Let’s look at verse 6 and the verse following it,

I said, “You are gods,
And all of you are sons of the Most High.
Nevertheless you will die like men,
And fall like one of the princes.”

Jesus’ quote does, indeed, call all people His children, but verse 7 opens the door to a whole new level of meaning. Being the Scripture scholars that they were, many of them memorizing the entire Torah, they would have identified the Psalm in their minds and then ran through the entire Psalm (it’s only eight verses). They very well could have concluded that Jesus intended for them to see themselves in verse 7. It was at this point in the conversation that Jesus offered a proverbial olive branch, “If I’m not doing the works of my father, don’t believe me. But if I am doing them, well – even if you don’t believe me, believe the works! That way you will know and grasp that the father is in me, and I am in the father.” Instead, they tried once again to arrest Him, but to no avail (verse 39).

If we look at Psalm 82:8, we get an even greater indictment, “Arise, God, judge the earth! For You possess all the nations.” A case could be made that God was about to render judgment upon the human race. If we look back at the Messianic passage in Isaiah 35:4, we see God coming in judgment upon, in this case, those who do harm to His Son,

Say to those with anxious heart,
“Take courage, fear not.
Behold, your God will come with vengeance [LXX-judgment];
The retribution of God [LXX-rendering of judgment] will come,
But He will save you.”

Jesus was relentless in coming after them. In a culture of Honor/Shame, it’s no wonder they wanted to kill Him (more on that tomorrow). Would that they swallowed their pride and believed Him.

Abba, the more I look into Your life and plan, the more I see. Thank You for great teachers of the past and for the Great Teacher, O Holy Spirit. It’s all very exciting! I can hardly wait to see what revelations You will unveil tomorrow. Amen.

Proverbs 13 12-13-21

Satan had deceived mankind; then he thought he could sever the relationship between them forever…

2 From the fruit of his mouth a person eats what is good, but the desire of the treacherous is for violence.

Satan’s first deception in Genesis 3 was that God was hiding something,

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

What Satan said was true, but Adam and Eve weren’t old enough and mature enough to handle the temptations that come with that knowledge. We still aren’t mature enough.

Satan’s second deception was that desire trumps God,

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye [desire], and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

The desire became everything. It doesn’t matter what it is: sugar, caffeine, cocaine, sex, power, being right, etc. They become everything on which we focus; they fill our vision until they are all that we see.

The third deception was the most insidious, and it is that now God couldn’t love them anymore.

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

There was, indeed, a consequence for their sin, but it wasn’t what they thought. They thought that they were not worthy to be in God’s presence anymore, that they were dirty, stained, and broken. Indeed, something was broken that day, but it was the world, nature, and our bodies, not the relationship. If we read carefully, God came looking for them, cared for them, and saved them from an eternal state of broken physical bodies (nature and the world followed suit). God never left them, never stopped caring for them, and never quit pursuing a relationship with them.

When Jesus came, He showed us the Father as we had never seen Him before. Jesus said that He is just like Him because God and He were (are) one (John 10:30). Satan believed that if he could get people to kill Jesus, then the relationship between mankind and God would be irreparably broken. Not So! In fact, mankind gave Jesus their best shot by nailing Him to a cross, but all it did was prove that God’s love could NEVER be broken. Also, Jesus’ death and resurrection showed that nothing was beyond Him. Neither are we. His sacrifice of love ripped off the deception of Satan that was over our eyes so that now we can see that He has loved us all along and invites us to join Him in the Fellowship of the Trinity.

Satan’s deception has now been revealed. The Father loves us and holds nothing against us–never has, never will. Satan is losing the war as this Good News goes forth into the world. Like I said, “None of the rulers of this age [Satan included] understood this [God’s plan to blow Satan’s cover], for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” 1 Corinthians 2:8.

Here is the Gospel in Jesus’ words, “Now is the judgment of this world [the whole world hangs in the balance]; now will the ruler of this world be cast out [and his deception exposed]. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:31-32

When Jesus entered into this world as a baby, it was to grow up and give His life to show that God’s love is extreme. In fact, His mercy is everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 103:17), we are forever in His embrace (Psalm 112:6), He is our everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6), and fountains of living water spring from us to eternal life (John 4:14). THIS is what Jesus came to show us. THIS is what Christmas is all about!

Abba, I praise You for Your wondrous love and mercy! Thank You for showing us through Jesus. May we never doubt Your love and grace that You pour out on Your children. Amen.

Proverbs 13 11-13-21

3-D reading is done with a broad brush. We look for a general view of Jesus and His message in all we read in the Scriptures.

4 A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. Are we seeking more of Christ in the Scriptures than just what’s on the surface? He promises to reveal Himself to us.

Today, we look at the Gospel of John, specifically, 20:30-31 concerning signs*. These signs are linked to miracles, but go beyond the physical deeds to a greater message.

30 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

Let’s review what 3-D reading is:

  1. Literal- Who? What? Where? When? How? Why? What is the C.I.T.? (Central Idea of the Text)
  2. Moral- What can I learn from the text?
  3. Spiritual- Where is Jesus in the passage?

The first sign that Jesus gives us is in 2:1-11. Let’s read it:

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to himWhen the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, 10 and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

Literal– Jesus is at a wedding in a nearby town of Nazareth in Galilee. It is probably a relative, so He had a vested interest in having it go well. Mary was an integral part of the ceremony, which gives weight to it being a close relative. It is the third day since Jesus called Nathanael to follow Him. He had told Nathanael that he would see “heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” This reference is from Genesis 28:12 when Jacob had his dream about the heavenly ladder. The fact that it was three days later is an inference to the resurrection and the cleansing of all sin for all time.

Spiritual– The sign is Jesus’ signature as God the Son. It’s like a signature. Who else could do such a miracle than God? And, being born on earth, He is the Son of God. There are several specific things to note. This miracle that Jesus’ mother, Mary, asks Him to do links Jesus to several events in history:

  1. Ceremonial washing (Exodus 30:17-21) had been performed for 1500+ years at this point. Jesus used those particular pots to change the water into wine. The water cleansed the outside of the hands. The wine represents a New Covenant. Speaking of which,
  2. Later on, Jesus uses the fourth cup at the Lord’s Supper to announce His New Covenant and to ask the disciples to “marry Him.” That particular cup is never drunk in the ceremony; it stands for the coming of Messiah and in particular His marriage to Israel. It is interesting that Jesus is at a wedding when He performs this miracle!
  3. Jesus’ statement that His hour had not yet come was in reference to the announcement of that New Covenant. I think Mary was rushing things a bit, but Jesus acquiesced to her and to the wedding couple. Who knows? It may have been something that He planned to do closer to the Cross.
  4. The wine is the best of the event and was provided in abundance, and it represents the better and greater wedding feast of the ages when Jesus comes for His Bride, the Church.
  5. God’s glory is revealed in Jesus through this miraculous event. The revelation of Jesus being God is a very important theme to John. Look for it throughout his Gospel.

Moral– Jesus is either a Liar, a Lunatic, or He is Lord. The fact that Jesus had a plan from the beginning of His ministry to reveal the glory of the Father through signs of the coming New Covenant through miracles is huge in proving that He is Lord. This sign reminds me of the shepherds in the field when Jesus was born. Look at what the angel–as if that in itself weren’t enough!–said, “for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior [Messiah], who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). Yet, the angel told them to go find their Messiah in a manger. WOW! Jesus was always revealing Himself to the regular folks, like at a wedding. I can trust Christ because He cares for me, a regular guy.

It’s all there, folks. All we have to do is apply a little intellectual elbow grease and the Holy Spirit will do the rest. Sometimes, He begins the process and we run to catch up! Either way, it’s a whole lot of fun to discover Jesus in the Scriptures. He delights in us getting to know Him better.

Abba, thank You for revealing Yourself in the Scriptures. Thank You for the tools that are available for the first time in history: The internet, computers and phones, software programs, so many translations and commentaries at our fingertips, blogs and studies, an incredible amounts of information about the church throughout the age–may we take advantage of everything to learn as much as we can of You, Your Mission, and Your Plans. Amen.

* The Seven Signs of John’s Gospel

Proverbs 13 10-13-21

Abiding in Christ may not be as difficult as it may seem…

1 A wise child heeds his father’s instruction…19 a longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul…25 the righteous eat to their heart’s content…

What we read in the Bible is designed to make us pray–to go to God for clarity. Mere words cannot convey the truths that God wants us to learn and know. His Spirit wants to use what we have read to start a dialogue with us. He will guide us into all truth:

  1. He is our guide, Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel,  and afterward you will take me into glory. Psalm 73:23-24
  2. He will guide us, But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13
  3. Jesus is the Truth, Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

Otherwise, we become entrenched in our own interpretations, which, if not Spirit-led, leads to pride, arrogance, intolerance, and spiritual abuse.

1 Corinthians 8:1 gives us some clarity into what happens when we read without the Spirit’s guidance:

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

  1. The Example– Eating food sacrificed to idols; Paul understood that this food was fine, considering that the gods don’t really exist, but many were afraid because of their upbringing, and some used it as a manipulation tool.
  2. The Assertion– “We all possess knowledge.” This saying was what some were claiming; they either got their knowledge from their own minds (pride and delusion) or from a spirit (demon worship). Some even claimed to have secret knowledge from God–as if Paul wouldn’t know.
  3. The Truth– Knowledge puffs up while love builds up. This lesson teaches that knowledge without the guidance of the Holy Spirit brings a puffed-up attitude, which is pride. Pride leads to all the things mentioned earlier, including consequences on down the road.

As an example, let’s take John 15:9-12:

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

There are two commands:

  1. Remain in My love;
  2. Love each other as I love you.

There are two results:

  1. Closeness with Christ;
  2. Complete joy!

Folks, I can’t think of anything better, can you?

Abba, as I think about Your love, I relax. You have no expectations of me. You simply enjoy our togetherness. Where we move from here will be the outcome of our being together. Thank You for that. So THIS is what it means to abide in Your love… Amen.

Proverbs 13 9-13-21

What is the world looking for in Christians? What they need to see is the love of Jesus shining through us!

7 One person pretends to be rich, but has nothing [ those whose treasure is here on this earth]; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth [those whose treasure is in heaven].

To answer the question, the world is not looking for anything in Christians; they are either afraid they might find truth or they simply aren’t interested in what we have to offer. There ARE those in the world who are looking for truth. They will find it in Christians who are genuine in their faith. Who are those who are genuine in their faith? Those who are seeking and sensing:

We seek the face of the Father
We enjoy fellowship with the Son
We sense the presence of the Holy Spirit

When we spend time with the Father, we reflect the Lord’s glory. This glory is what people see and smell of Christ.

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

We have an excellent example of the reflection of the Lord’s glory in Moses. Let’s read it:

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face34 But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.

Paul interprets this account in 2 Corinthians 3:7-13.

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it waswill not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! 12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 2 Corinthians 3:7-13

Paul goes on to say that when a person receives Christ, the veil over our hearts is taken away (v.14). So, we Christians have no veil over our hearts. Instead, “we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (v.18).” Our radiance is continuous because of His love in our hearts (Romans 5:5). What shall we do with this love? We find the answer in 1 Thessalonians 3:12,

12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Christ comes into our lives and takes up residence.
  2. He removes the veil so that others can see Him in us.
  3. As we become more like Him, we radiate and then overflow to others. They see our love, joy and peace through our patience, kindness and goodness, and want our faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in their lives.
  4. They receive Christ and have their veils removed.
  5. They, then, reflect the Lord’s glory, and the process continues.

This process is what Christianity is all about. Let’s do it!

Abba, I pray that You will fill my heart with Your love so that it overflows to others, to both Christian brothers and sisters and to lost folks who need Jesus, particularly to those who are searching for His love. I really do want my life to be all about You, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 13 8-13-21

You got saved; now what? To trust in Christ is to be born again, but what does life in Christ mean? Let’s look.

14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.

Being saved is all about saving us from an eternity separated from God in hell, and from the pitfalls and hidden snares of this world. The wise will read what God has told the apostle Paul to write and take it to heart. We begin in Romans 6:1-4 with what happens to us spiritually when we are born again (see John 3:3).

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism [a symbolic act representing what happened to us spiritually]. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives [because of His Spirit now living inside us].

Jesus gives us His Spirit so that we can communicate with Him continuously. He lets us know what is good for us, what is bad for us, what to do to help others, and what to leave to other followers. He literally directs our lives! His desires become our desires as we “delight ourselves in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4). We have His promise that He will give us the desires of our hearts. We want what He wants, which is:

  1. The best for us, which may or may not be in this world. We must get used to the idea of thinking eternally rather than just temporally (in this life).
  2. Our obedience- It’s how He keeps us “safe” in this world. There’s no safer place to be than in the center of God’s will.
  3. Our holiness- God will be changing us from sinful critters to holy children of God. He wants to transform us (2 Corinthians 3:18) and conform us (Romans 8:29) into the image of His Son, which is the exact human representation of Himself (Hebrews 1:3). We are commanded to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16); we do that through obedience to His Spirit.
  4. For all to be saved, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.

If you’re having trouble generating the motivation to work at being like Christ, then spend more time with Him in prayer and Bible study. Pray that “the eyes of your heart would be enlightened in order that you may:

  1. Know the hope to which he has called you,
  2. The riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people,
  3. and His incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18-19).

The question is, “If a person is not interested in spending time with Jesus, then why did he get saved?” It’s all we will do in heaven–of course, it’s also far, far greater than we could ever think or imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9). And, because we have His Spirit in us, that eternity is going on right now! He has already begun lavishing us with His love (1 John 3:1). Also, we know that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:39). I’m grateful! How about you?

Abba, I truly am grateful that You live in my heart and have promised that I will never be separated from You. Thank You for not waiting until I die to begin lavishing me with all You have for me, beginning with Your love. Thank You for such a great hope that we have in You: the riches of Your glorious inheritance! I have come to understand that the inheritance is the people of God, my new family. I am also very thankful that the same power You used to raise Christ from the dead has been used on me to give me life in You. I know that I will never truly die, but I will exchange this mortal body for an immortal body, one You have waiting for me. I look forward to it. Amen.

Proverbs 13 7-13-21

There’s a reason that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is called a social gospel. It’s all about the relationships.

20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm [we begin with Christ].

The first relationship is with God Himself. He calls us into fellowship with Him through the precious blood of Jesus and by the giving of the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at some Scriptures:

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

We are God’s special possession and He calls us into His wonderful light. Why? For fellowship.

1 John 1:3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

In believing the message proclaimed by John (and the others with him), we can join in the fellowship of God and with Jesus.

Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

The recipe for a victorious Christian life: The apostles’ teaching, fellowship with other believers, worship with other believers and to prayer, both private and corporate.

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

We have been called into fellowship with the Son of God!

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

We have been given fellowship with the Holy Spirit. We have now included all three: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 2:1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

Being in fellowship with the Trinity and with each other means that we are like-minded (in spiritual aspirations), we have the same AGAPE (godly) love, and are one in spirit and mind (we have the same goals). These goals are:

  1. To bring glory and honor to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
  2. To bring others into fellowship with God, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit.

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

Getting to know Christ intimately is the goal of every Spirit-filled believer. It’s our quest.

1 John 1:6-7 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Walking in the light of Christ means that we have taken His yoke upon us and become a disciple of Christ. We enter the fellowship of believers, and Jesus’ blood purifies us from all sin. In fact, all evidence of sin is removed from our lives.*

We are THE FELLOWSHIP.

Abba, You have called us together to walk together, to work together, to live together, and to love together. May we take Your call seriously. Amen.

Experiencing God’s Healing Hand Focus On the Family Broadcast (be sure to watch all the way to the end!)

Proverbs 13 6-13-21

Our temper, which includes explosive anger and simmering malice, is the dark side of our flesh. The Spirit wants to help us with it.

3 Those who guard their lips [filter what they say] preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly [out of anger] will come to ruin.

10 Where there is strife, there is pride [our pride causes us to cause strife], but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

18 Whoever disregards discipline [refuses to listen to the Spirit and put into practice what they know] comes to [relational] poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored [over time].

The key for me was the eighth fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness. The fruit are: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. God brought my daughter to me from a local VBS one summer day; she had memorized Philippians 4:4-5 as a project. It says,

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

The Lord stabbed me through the heart with that verse! He showed me in a flash that I was not gentle relationally with my girls and He wanted me to change that. I began to search for Scriptures that have to do with gentleness, patience, kindness, forbearance–anything that would help me focus on what I need rather than just my problem. I asked the Spirit to begin teaching me how to be gentle. It was a long process…!

The first thing I noticed as I watched to see what triggered my anger was that I had expectations. There are three types of bad expectations: Unspoken, Unmet, and Unrealistic. I had all three. The first thing I did was apologize to my kids for not being gentle with them; my wife, too. I began to watch my tone, the look in my eyes, and to allow for error, interpretation, personality, and circumstances. My goal was to be the gentlest person I could be. It took two years! Do I still fail? Sure, but God understands. Why? Because He is the Essence of Gentleness. He’s the One who taught me!

It is interesting that as I worked on gentleness, I also learned patience, kindness and goodness. I was faithful in my efforts and learned self-control. When I was successful, the love of the Father, the peace of the Son, and the joy of the Spirit washed over me. I became a more joyful, peaceful, and loving person! It’s certainly worth the effort.

Today, try stepping back from a frustrating situation with your family and allowing the Spirit to control your mouth and your eyes, and even your body language. Try to infuse a loving and peaceful flavor to the conversation (humor helps, but nothing with a barb). Being late to church because your daughter had to change her outfit three times is NOT the end of the world. Figure out for next week what will circumvent the situation (have her pick out her outfit the night before; get dressed BEFORE your kids get up; ask the Lord and He will help). Knowing that worship begins before we leave the house should help us to explain to our children the goal of keeping a Christ-honoring attitude as we prepare for church.

Abba, I hope my readers get an opportunity this morning to put some of these spiritual techniques into practice. If not this week, then next week for sure! Remind them of the importance of working on growing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Help them hear Your voice and feel Your nudges as You work with us. Your voice is so subtle–it sounds like mine. The only way I can tell the difference is that I know that what You are saying is right; it’s what is needed at that moment for the moment. You reveal the right thing to do, and when we submit to Your voice, You empower us to do it–or not do it (like thinking about what I’m going to say and then not saying it). Make us a gentle people, O Lord. Make us like You. Amen.

Proverbs 13 5-13-21

Spiritual Children need outside influence in their Christian walk. Spiritual Young Adults have an inner desire to grow. Do you?

18 Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame [still Spiritual Children], but whoever heeds correction is honored [Young Adults want to learn].

As we continue our study of the stages of spiritual growth, we come to the one where many regular church attenders are, which is the Young Adult. What are the characteristics?

Young Adult

  • Action/service-oriented
  • zealous
  • God-centered
  • others-centered
  • mission-minded but incomplete in his or her understanding
  • independent.

The Young Adult sounds great, but there is one dangerous weakness: zeal without knowledge, “Enthusiasm [zeal] without knowledge is not good. If you act too quickly, you might make a mistake.” Proverbs 19:2 NCV. I am reminded of a young dog on a long leash. He sees something and runs full out toward it only to be abruptly stopped short by his collar. What does he do? He sees something else the other way and runs full out toward it until he suddenly reaches the end of his leash.

Through the years, I trained my dogs to walk with me on a leash. Here’s how: I got a 10′ leash and a choker chain. We went to the school ground where I could take ten steps in a large square. I would stand still with my hands up against my chest and wait for my dog to look away. Then, I would walk a quick ten steps. It usually caught the dog by surprise, but the choker chain telegraphed the movement, so it didn’t actually hurt her. She would catch up and then stop with me. I turned upon stopping and then waited for her to get distracted. As soon as she began to wander away, I would take off. With one dog, Ginger, it took two turns and then she was right by my side with her eyes on me waiting for me to move. She was a great dog! Very smart. I had another dog, Cassie, who hated the collar and despised the leash. It took two weeks to train her–I practically dragged her around the square! And, she would punish me when we got back to the house. She finally learned enough to walk with me.

Young Adults tend to grab an idea and go. Most of the time, adjustments can be made–along with apologies–and everything is fine. In spiritual matters, judgements can be made that take years to get over. The best advice is good advice. They must find people who have wisdom and experience in important matters. I recommend more than just one person. Consider Proverbs 24:6, “Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.” For finances, find someone who has been financially successful and is godly; for accountability, choose someone who does NOT go to your church, knows you inside and out and for a long time, and is godly. For Bible knowledge, look for someone who loves to teach, has plenty of experience teaching the Bible, and is godly. There are also the advisers of the Bible: Moses, David, Job, Paul, John, Peter, etc. And always run everything through the filter of the Holy Spirit. He is our best Adviser.

Being open is the best policy for Young Adults. Having an attitude of learning is one that will take them into the next level, Spiritual Parent, which we will discuss tomorrow. If you are a spiritual young adult, I congratulate you on your spiritual pilgrimage. Let’s keep moving higher up and further in!

Abba, I lift up the Spiritual Adults in Your church. I know that they are usually the leaders of tomorrow. May they stay open to new concepts and ideas, but may they also be like the Bereans, who searched the Scriptures daily to see if what is said is true to You, Your Plan, and Your Word (Acts 17:11). Open their eyes that they may see wonderful things in Your law (word, commands, statutes and decrees; Psalm 119:18). I pray that You would keep me young, as well, Abba. I, too, want to learn from You! Amen.

Proverbs 13 3-13-21

Are our lives sending the right message? Do our lives lift high the name of Jesus? Know Him; serve Him; show Him.

5 The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.
17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.

As we continue on our study on the Jewishness of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus warns His listeners to be careful to whom they listen. The religious leaders would have them follow the Law of Moses, particularly the way that they spin it. Jesus came to fulfill the Law and to usher in a New Covenant.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Matthew 7:15-20

The real question is, “Is a person’s life growing in godliness and righteousness?” Another way to say it is, “Am I becoming more like Jesus and expressing His values, His love, and His grace?” It’s a good question to ask ourselves every morning!

Jesus then hit the teachers of the Law between the eyes:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23

Jesus linked the Law back to a relationship with the Father through Him. See it? “I never knew you.” At another time, Jesus tells them what the Father’s will is for mankind, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent” John 6:29. If the religious leaders didn’t follow Jesus, then they were wolves in sheep’s clothing, bad fruit, and a bad tree (we’ll discuss the bad tree later this month). Jesus Himself linked loving Him with obedience, “If you love Me, keep my commands” John 14:15. He was about to give them explicit commands to follow that changed them and changed the world:

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides [lives, camps out] in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:9-11

I included verse 11 because I want us to be reminded of the telltale sign of a growing Christian: Joy. When we abide in Christ daily, His joy washes over us. Even in difficult circumstances, we can rest in His love and feel His joy. His peace reigns in our hearts because of the promise of eternal connection with Him and eternal life in Him.

Let’s not be like the religious leaders who decided for themselves how they would serve, but ask Christ how we may best serve Him.

Christianity is interactive;
we were never designed to do things FOR Him, but WITH Him.

Abba, may we “get it” today. Serving You is not doing things for you, but with You. It’s always been about the relationship. May we not grieve You today by ignoring Your Spirit within us. Teach us to listen closely; You are forever speaking to us. Unplug our ears, LORD. We want to hear Your sweet voice! Amen.

Proverbs 13 2-13-21

People who claim to be Christians but act like lost people give true followers a bad name. Maybe our standards are too low…

5 The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.

The problem is that we have a lot of people who have been inoculated against the Gospel. An inoculation is a dose of a dead strain of a virus that keeps us from getting the real thing, as in the flu. The same thing can happen with the Gospel. A prayer for salvation without a pledge to live for Christ is an empty prayer. Jesus doesn’t call us to be sinless, but to follow Him. He promises that our sins will be taken care of, but it’s not the main reason for His sacrifice on the cross. He died and rose again so that we could have Him come and live in our hearts! Once He is there, He is LORD. If a person had no intention of ever letting Jesus be Lord, then “Houston, we have a problem.” Consider this event:

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” Mark 10:17-23

This would-be disciple had a problem: he loved the good life too much. He loved his stuff. Jesus knew his heart and called him on the one thing that was an idol to him. Jesus does the same thing with us. The cost of discipleship is whatever we treasure most. Are we willing to give it? If you are reading this post, then you probably already have. What we need to know is that Jesus comes to us every day and asks the same question, “Will you give Me all?” Every day, we must answer, “Yes, Lord!”

If all professing Christians would answer, “yes,” to Jesus every day, then we would have no problem winning the world to Christ. A relationship with the God of the universe is that attractive! All we have to do now is, through the way we live our lives, hold up a mirror to all of those who profess Christ, but don’t really have Christ living in their hearts. The Holy Spirit will have to show them the truth; we are to live the genuine life regardless of those around us.

The best example of our plight is the Parable of the Weeds:

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” Matthew 13:24-30

We will always have impostors; the Lord will sort them out at the Harvest. In the meantime, let’s make sure that we are committed to Him, that our children are committed to Him, and those we disciple are committed to Him. We ALL need a personal, intimate, and ongoing relationship with Jesus!

Abba, may You protect us from wolves in sheep’s clothing. There are those who are deliberately so, but there are also those who truly think that they are saved, but are still part of the dark side. Help Your children to discern the truth about those who follow You and those who don’t. Help us to raise the bar of discipleship so high that only those who depend upon You can reach it, which is the whole point (us depending on You). Guard Your Church, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 13 1-13-21

Our walk with Christ comes before all else; everything else–missions, evangelism, worship–comes out of that relationship.

6 Righteousness guards the person of integrity, but wickedness [doing things our way with no regard for God*] overthrows the sinner [it always backfires eventually].

Our integrity (who we are when no one is looking–except God) is dependent upon how closely we are walking with the Lord. We have no goodness of our own, therefore, when we step away from the Master, we go back to our own way of doing things, which is wickedness*. Lest we deceive ourselves, any time we deviate from the Lord’s will, we are serving ourselves, which serves Satan. Jesus said to remain in His love (John 15:4, 5, 6, 7, 9). Verse 10 tells us how:

10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

We have His word on the matter plus His example. Verse 11 tells us why:

11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Jesus is in us, therefore, we feel His joy. When do we feel that joy? When we remain in His love by keeping His commands. His first command is to believe in/on Him (John 6:29), first for salvation and then for daily transformation. Do we really believe what Jesus said about living waters springing out of us (John 4:14, 7:38)? How about the part where He calls us the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)? Do you believe that we are his spiritual siblings (Matthew 12:50)?

Now, how about those other commands:

  1. Missions– How can we go if we are not listening to the One who sends us?
  2. Evangelism– How will we know what to say if we are not paying attention to Him who is drawing them?
  3. Worship– Why do we think that we are worshiping Him when we are not obeying Him? Obedience sets the stage for worship because worship is our response to our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ in the Spirit. True worship is honoring Him by staying right by His side. The old hymn was right, “What He says we will do, where He sends we will go; never fear, only trust and obey.” He will never tell us to do something that He is not right there doing it with us. He will never tell us to go anywhere that He is not right there beside us. Remember that HE IS INSIDE OF US.

Now that we are committed to believe and obey Him, we are ready to love each other. In fact, it’s His first command: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). He emphasized it three times in this passage, so I think it’s important! But, we can only do it when our personal relationship with Him is right. Our purity of mind, heart, and body, as well as our righteousness that is seen by the world hinges on our staying close to Jesus. Our position in Christ is sealed; our fellowship is not.

Read His Word. Talk to Him in Prayer. Be a Do-er and not just a Hear-er.

The interesting thing is when we are close to Him, our righteousness shines “like stars in the universe”(Philippians 2:15), and people are attracted to Him through us. Let’s not worry so much about going FOR Him until we have learned to stay WITH Him.

Abba, thank You for Skip Robinson, who taught me–and the others at my church–to trust in and walk with Jesus. My steady walk with You began then and has continued to today. May I walk ever closer to You so that You can do mighty things with me, all for Your glory, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 13 12-13-20

“Lead me in Your way everlasting” is an invitation to God to direct our paths. If He is LORD of our lives, then we invite Him every day.

4 A sluggard’s appetite [for things either not needed or for things he is unwilling to work for] is never filled, but the desires of he diligent [in relation to our LORD] are fully satisfied.

The LORD is not pushy. He will not come into a life where He is not wanted. The whole reason for giving us CHOICE is for us to choose Him. Let’s look at Psalm 139:23-24 again,

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
try me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there be any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

As His children, we have placed ourselves entirely in His command. We come to Him daily, even continuously, seeking direction and correction. We realize that we are made to work WITH Him. Jesus is our Source of life, energy, connection, and all that goes with being connected to God via the Spirit. Without Him, we are spiritually dead, but with Him, we are completely alive! We sense His Presence and Participation, we enjoy the love, joy and peace that flow from His throne into our lives. “His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:16. There is much reason to celebrate!

One of the things that we automatically do in His presence is we abandon who we were and are without Him for who He wants us to become with Him. Hence, the phrase, “lead me in the way everlasting.” Solomon said it like this in Proverbs 3:5-6,

Trust the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding,
in all your ways acknowledge Him
and He will direct your paths.

What better way to start our day than getting with the LORD Jesus, enjoying His company, and making Him Lord of our lives? It’s amazing what we can put up with, do without, and even endure when we are living life with Jesus!

LORD, as we worship You today, may we celebrate You reigning in our hearts. When we do, the offensive things in our lives are covered with grace and they begin to dissolve and reform into tools for Your kingdom work. Arrogance is transformed into concern for others; lying is transformed into sharing the Good News of Jesus; dark thoughts are transformed into prayers of adoration and praise. May You transform our lives today as we worship You–all day! Amen.

Proverbs 13 11-13-20

Appetite and desire: What appeals to us? Things according to the flesh or things according to the Spirit?

4 The sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.
25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.

As Christians, our souls crave spiritual sustenance. We long for what the Lord Jesus called, “daily bread.” Let’s look at some passages:

11 Give us today our daily bread. Matthew 6:11

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (Deut. 8:3)

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:31-33

Our focus is to be on our relationship with the Father. Jesus has made that relationship possible by sending His Spirit into our hearts. We are no longer residents of this kingdom, but residents of His Kingdom. We are to be retraining our minds to think His way about things instead of how a natural person thinks of things. We are called to a higher purpose!

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. Romans 7:4

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:4

Because of what Christ has done for us and because of our faith in Him (trusting Him for everything), we are called to a new mission in life rather than running after this life’s “worries, riches and pleasures.”

28 We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom [supplied by Him], so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ [even as He does us; see Jude 24]. 29 To this end I [we] strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me [us]. Colossians 1:28-29

Let’s be about the Father’s business today. Rather than build up our earthly lives, let’s pour our energy into building up His kingdom. This is the “bread” of which the Lord Jesus spoke in John 4:32-34.

Abba, we ask for our daily bread, that You will supply in abundance. May we seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness; may we hunger and thirst after You, learning all we can about You in Your revealed Word. Speak to our hearts, Lord Jesus, making us aware of Your kingdom all around us. We are Yours. Help us to focus on You and Your work. Amen.



Proverbs 13 10-13-20

How do we keep our love for Christ from growing cold (part 2)? Isn’t it His responsibility to keep us on fire?

10 Where there is strife [pride], there is pride [strife], but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.

God is always talking to us. His Spirit teaches us, “explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” 1 Corinthians 2:13. In fact, “the Spirit Himself [continuously] testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:16. With the Spirit speaking to us continuously, how is it that we get so estranged from Him?

  1. Pride. It’s in verse 10. Our pride keeps us from accepting what the Spirit has to say, thus creating strife in our relationship. The willingness to take advice speaks of humility. Remembering that He is God and we are not is essential to a good and healthy relationship with the Father.
  2. Snares. We get caught in snares. These snares lead us to death–literally, if allowed to be carried to their full extent. Thankfully, when we repent, God leads us out of the valley of death and into pleasant pastures (sometimes it takes a while). Learning the teaching of the wise leads us to the fountain of life, which is Christ, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37-38.

From where do we learn this “teaching of the wise?” From the written Word of God!

  1. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8
  2. Read the word of the LORD. It was written down for YOU. “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm and all of them are righteous.” Psalm 19:7-9
  3. Memorize and apply daily–continuously. Consider it therapy or medicine (salve). “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103
  4. Meet together with other Christians. “Do not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25
  5. God’s word to us: Talk about it, live it, breathe it. “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deut. 6:7-9

Hear God’s heart: “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” Deut. 5:29

God wants to bless us. All we have to do is stay close to Him. Proverbs 8 ends with this blessing: “Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For those who find me find life and receive favor from the LORD.” Proverbs 8:34-35. Let’s be diligent about drawing near to God each day by talking to Him through His Word. As we read His words, the Spirit explains to us spiritual things. We respond in adoration and praise to Him. We are blessed and He is blessed! It’s a win/win moment for everyone!

Abba, as You remind us to come to You in prayer and by reading the Scriptures, I hear Your voice and respond by getting out my Bible and reading. You speak to me from the pages to my heart–“from Your mouth to my ears.” If you carried the Israelites on eagles’ wings (Exodus 19:4), how much more will You interact with us through the in-dwelling of Your Holy Spirit! May I “kill” my pride and come to You with a humble heart. Teach me, O God, for I crave Your Presence, in which I receive Your love, joy, peace, hope, and “mercy and grace for the day” (Hebrews 4:16). Amen.

Proverbs 13 9-13-20

Rosh Hashanah begins at dusk on September 16 and ends at dusk on the 18th. Will Jesus fulfill this festival like He did three others?

12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Jesus fulfilled three festivals at His death, resurrection, and the sending of the Holy Spirit.

  1. Feast of Unleavened Bread, which began with the Passover meal. From my research, I believe that this meal may have happened on what we call Tuesday evening at sundown, which is when the Jewish new day begins. That Wednesday (which began the night before) was the first day of a week-long observance called Feast of Unleavened Bread, which commemorated the Exodus from Egypt by the Israelites some 1500 years before. On Wednesday afternoon at 3:00, Jesus died on the cross for us as our Passover Lamb (Matthew 27:45). 3:00 was the very time that the lamb was sacrificed in the temple (Mark 15:42-43 and The Passover Lamb). To me, it is important that Jesus be in the tomb three days and three nights because of His own prophecy in Matthew 12:40, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Kinda hard to get around it, huh?
  2. The Feast of Firstfruits, which is actually a floating festival because it is a regular Sabbath and falls right after the Passover and during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus rose from the dead and appeared on that Sabbath! He is the Firstfruits of all who will rise from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). From this Sabbath, we count seven full weeks (49 days) to the 50th day, which is Pentecost, or, the Feast of Weeks.
  3. The Feast of Pentecost (Weeks)- As mentioned, it happens 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits when the Barley harvest begins. When the barley is taken in and stored, the men are required to appear in Jerusalem for the festival, which is why there were so many people there in Acts 2–and from so many places (Acts 2:9-11). Jesus even had the disciples wait 10 days until the festival before He sent power from on high: the promised Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:3). Jesus fulfilled the festival to the day!

Now, do you see why I get excited each Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year)? It’s the Feast of Trumpets and is the next Festival in the Jewish calendar! In fact, 1 Corinthians 15:52 gives us this next description, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” This last trumpet speaks of the several trumpet (ram’s horn, or shofar) blasts that are blown at the festival to announce it’s beginning. I am looking forward to hearing that trumpet sound!

“If not this year, then the next IN JERUSALEM.”

Abba, I am looking forward to Your Coming. May we worship You as our Risen and Returning LORD today. Even so, come, LORD Jesus. Amen. (Rev. 22:20)

Proverbs 13 8-13-20

There’s a reason we meet to hear God’s Word read and expounded upon. There is POWER in the spoken Word of God. Our speech is the same way in that when we speak, meanings become more clear and our convictions become more solidified.

2 From the fruit of their lips people enjoy good things [when they speak uprightly], but the unfaithful have an appetite for violence [both vocally and physically; in other words, they like to fight].

To emphasize the importance of speaking our faith, consider how we got saved. Let’s read it in Romans 10:8-10,

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. NIV

In the spoken word:

There is power-God created the heavens and the earth with His spoken word.

There is concrete– Speaking something out loud solidifies it in our minds. Many people process out loud because it helps them get it out where they can “see” it.

There is connection– speaking how we feel is like pressing the “enable” button; we say, “I love you,” and–POW! We feel love for that person. Compassion works the same way.

The spoken word enables us to believe in our hearts. When we say, “I trust You, LORD,” we click the enable button in our hearts.

Jesus said, “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:37. Yes, God looks at our hearts, but our mouths reveal what is in our hearts, so be careful! The next verse in today’s chapter says, 3 “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”

Sometimes it helps us to read passages in other translations. Here is Romans 10:8-10 in the Nee Living Translation and the New Life Version:

In fact, it says,

“The message is very close at hand;
    it is on your lips and in your heart.”

And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. NLT

This is what it says, “The Good News is near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart.” This Good News tells about putting your trust in Christ. This is what we preach to you. If you say with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved from the punishment of sin. 10 When we believe in our hearts, we are made right with God. We tell with our mouth how we were saved from the punishment of sin. NLV

Let’s practice speaking God’s Word today along with professing our love for each other, having compassion on those who are our potential brothers and sisters in Christ by praying out loud for them. In doing so, we will experience God in a whole new and powerful way!

Abba, You speak to is in our spirits; it’s how we know You are real in our lives. May we pay close attention to You and what the Spirit is saying so that we can be obedient children and followers of the Way. “Speak to our hearts, LORD Jesus, speak that our souls may hear.” Amen.

Proverbs 13 7-13-20

“No one gets out of this world alive” refers only to the body. Our souls are eternal. Are you preparing? Our happiness and our future depend upon our current outlook.

12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

In what is your hope? For what do you long? Christians hope for Christ’s kingdom and the life He has for us with Him. If we expect perfection in this world, whether it be in health, wealth, security, relationships, or anything else, we will be sorely disappointed. We will only see perfection in Christ’s kingdom, But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control [see Ephesians 1:9-10 NLV], will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” The Holy Spirit-empowered life is the ONLY way we experience even a little bit of heaven on earth.

In the meantime, we live in these decaying bodies, in a decaying society and a decaying world. In this world, we will suffer. But, suffering doesn’t have to be the villain that the world makes it out to be. In fact, suffering can be our friend–if we look at it as the means that makes us more like Christ.

We boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not 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 5:2b-5

Suffering brings us to a point of decision:

A. Will we accuse God of wrongdoing and blame God for our suffering?

B. Will we turn to God and ask him to take control of our lives?

The first choice rings of anger, resentment, bitterness, and despair in the situation. The second choice brings hope, light, comfort and peace to it.

Although God never intended for us to suffer, we do live in a fallen world and live in sin ridden bodies. He has a new country and a new body in store for each of us. In the meantime, we suffer: because of dying bodies and free radicals, bad habits and bad decisions (either ours or someone else’s), or because this world is overrun with evil. To a certain degree, this world is the devil’s playground. Paul called him the mighty prince of this world:

You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. Ephesians 2:2

The apostle Peter had this to say about suffering, “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased to (is done with) sin” 1 Peter 4:1. When we see sin’s effects and feel it’s consequences, it loses its appeal. When we turn to God through Jesus, the Spirit imbues us with his love, joy, peace, hope and grace. When compared to the lists of what it’s like for those who do NOT have the Spirit,

NO CONTEST!*

Here is our motto:

“Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good. “Romans 12:21

Let’s not let our present circumstances detract us from the real goal, which is to be Christ’s ambassadors here on this earth for a little while. We are to let our lights shine for Him in this dark world, but always keeping in mind that “soon, and very soon, we are going to see the King!” We have this promise, “This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” 1 John 4:1.

Abba, I pray that You will become so real to us that the things of this world lose their lustre. The old hymn is true, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” May we take these words to heart today, all day. Amen.

*Here are some of the lists: Romans 1:26-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:3-6, Revelation 22:15

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus by Shane and Shane

Proverbs 13 6-13-20

Sorry. Yard work came first. What do we say to a lost person about Christ?

14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.

Robin and I have been watching a lot of “I Met Messiah” videos about Jews coming to faith in Jesus Christ, whom they call Yeshua (the Hebrew name of Jesus). In many of their testimonies, a person walked up to them–out of the blue–and said, “Do you know Jesus?” They were usually highly offended, but the seed was there and the Spirit watered it and it took root.

In many other cases, a friend would ask them if they knew Jesus. Again, they were offended, even aggressive, but the patient sharing of Christ by mouth and by life won their hearts.

In our world where most people don’t know what a Messiah is, nor their need for one, we must begin a bit earlier in the story or in another place in the story. We must present the GOOD NEWS of Jesus and then the BAD NEWS of their plight. Sometimes it will be in one fell swoop, and other times it will be in stages, even statements. For instance,

  1. I have some good news for you; maybe you’ve heard it: God loves you and wants a personal relationship with you.
  2. Did you know that Jesus Christ died for your sins and offers you eternal life in Him?
  3. Since we aren’t born knowing God, we have chosen our own way in this world. The problem is that it’s controlled by the devil, so by default you have been following him.
  4. This separation between you and God is caused by sin, which means “to miss the mark.” This sin separates us from God and, if left untended, will end in eternal separation from Him. He doesn’t want that!  Would you like to hear how to be reunited with God?
  5. God sent His Son, Jesus, to live among us and to show us what righteousness looks like, to demonstrate what holiness is, and to teach us what true love means.
  6. Jesus fulfilled His plan of dealing with our sin by dying on the cross, thus paying for our sins. He then rose again, and now offers us eternal life through Him–on two conditions:
    1. We must give Him our lives, the very deed to our “house.”
    2. We must release everything in our lives to Him, the “keys” to every room in our house.
  7. The best news is that His salvation is not static, but contributes to our everyday life. Jesus comes to live in us to show us His Way and to empower us to break the holds that sin may still have in our lives. We have continuous fellowship with God through Jesus!
  8. He may be calling you right now. Is He?

These statements, or statements like them, present the Gospel in a non-threatening way. The main goal is to say the name Jesus and include some portion of the Gospel. We are seed-planters,

“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.”
14 “The farmer sows the word.” Mark 4:3, 14

We plant the seed of the Gospel and then God makes it grow. Usually, it takes time and other people watering and weeding (but not always). Paul gave this illustration:

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose [spreading the Gospel], and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.

Let’s pray for opportunities to plant seeds of the Gospel. Start looking!

Abba, please bring a great harvest as we invest in Your kingdom. Give us plenty of opportunities no matter the circumstances or even the consequences. The only thing that matters is getting the name of Jesus out there for people to hear and to respond to You. May we be Your ambassadors, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 13 5-13-20

Jesus wants a dynamic relationship with you! He saved you for this very purpose. Are you seeking Him like He seeks you?

4 A sluggard’s [lazy person’s] appetite [craving] is never filled, but the desires of the diligent [in their relationship with Christ] are fully satisfied.

If I said that those who avoid having a dynamic relationship with the Lord are lazy, would you agree? It takes a certain amount of arrogance to simply decide NOT to do something that we know is right and that we know we should do. In this case, it makes me wonder if the Spirit is actually present in that person’s life at all! Listen to Psalm 16:11 and what God has in mind for us:

11 You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand. 

When we plant the garden of fellowship with the Spirit, the first fruit grown are love, joy, and peace. These three well up inside us like water in a fountain and spread to all around us. They make up the sweet fragrance of Christ (see 2 Cor. 2:15). Don’t you want to know His love? Don’t you want to feel His joy? Don’t you want to experience His peace? I know I do!

Look at what happens to a person who ignores the Lord’s pleas to get together with Him:

30 I went past the field of a sluggard [one who ignores the LORD],
    past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
31 thorns had come up everywhere [instead of fruit, there are thorns],
    the ground was covered with weeds [his life is a shambles],
    and the stone wall was in ruins [he is unprotected from the evil one].
32 I applied my heart to what I observed
    and learned a lesson from what I saw:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest—
34 and poverty [spiritual emptiness] will come on you like a thief
    and scarcity like an armed man [even what he has will be taken away-see Matthew 25:29].

Being filled with His Spirit is simple. All we have to do is intentionally stay in His presence, by His side and in His arms. Think of yourself as a little lamb and He is the Good Shepherd. When we get rambunctious or afraid, He picks us up and loves on us. He doesn’t even scold us. Instead, He speaks softly to us kind words and gentle words.

If you don’t know where to start, then start with Psalm 16. You will read phrases like, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing,” and, “LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot [life] secure,” and, “I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” And then, the best verse: 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. 

We have to like our sin pretty much to disregard such an invitation. I pray you will turn away from sin and turn to a better option: The option of receiving and enjoying the benefits of eternal life RIGHT NOW in a dynamic relationship with Jesus.

Abba, I pray that those who know You as Savior will come to know You as the Good Shepherd, for that is what You are! Thank You that You do not hold my sin against me–in fact, You don’t even see me as a sinner anymore. You see me as Your little brother, whom You love very much. As I draw close to You, draw me even closer! Amen. [see James 4:8a]

Proverbs 13 4-13-20

As children of God, we are learners. Learners need discipline and correction. Are we responding to His training?

18 Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame,
    but whoever heeds correction is honored.

1 John 3:1 calls us children of God. Romans 8:16 does, too. We pick up where Adam and Eve left off, but with one difference: We have the Spirit of God inside us! I wish we felt more of His Spirit in us, but our walk is by faith and not by feeling. Occasionally, we get to enjoy sensing His “nearness” in the form of peace, joy, exuberance, love and compassion, and even pain for others. At these times, we break out into shouts of praise and songs of gladness, and sometimes into times of intimate prayer and fellowship with Him. It is these times for which I live and base my reality (along with the Word of God). My desire is to know Him and to be like Him.

19 A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul,
but fools detest turning from evil.

In order to enjoy the world to come, we need to see this world as Jesus does. It is broken, but not beyond repair. Rather than a “lifeboat theology,” it’s an “ark theology.”* God doesn’t wipe everything out and start over; instead, He makes everything like new again. Jesus said, “Truly, I tell you, at the RENEWAL of all things…” (Matthew 19:28). “Renewal” means “to make like new,” and it will happen when Jesus returns to earth–with all of His brothers and sisters with Him! Those very, very, very few (compared to all who have gone on before) will meet Him in the air as we all go to Jerusalem with Him to set up His throne and kingdom (see 1 Thessalonians 4).

What is your longing? Is it to sense His Presence? Is it to feel His love, joy, peace, hope, compassion, mercy and grace? The best way to experience these attributes is to start implementing them in our lives in regard to others. We must extend love, joy, peace, hope, compassion, mercy and grace to those around us, even to those who don’t deserve it–ESPECIALLY to those who don’t deserve it!  If salvation is like a slingshot, the further a person walks into the band, the greater the effect when he repents and turns around! The “worst” people may be the very ones that will have the greatest viewable transformation in their lives. I say, “viewable,” because we all have a complete heart transplant and are transformed:

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful [diligent] to keep my laws.  Ezekiel 36:26-27

It’s the previous verse that describes the process of sanctification (becoming like Christ):

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you [ceremonial cleansing], and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.

Getting rid of our idols and that which makes us impure is where we live. It’s the “becoming like Christ” part of our walk. Why didn’t He just make us like Himself when we were saved? Good question! I wish I had a good answer for you. Maybe He had to have it this way in order for grace to work throughout generations. Maybe He likes the interaction of us growing in Him. Whatever the case, we can be grateful that “He walks with us and talks with us and tells us we are His own” (In the Garden hymn).

Let’s be grateful that we are part of His Process! May we LONG FOR Him and regard His DISCIPLINE and CORRECTION as His sweet interaction in our lives.

Abba, thank You that You want to be interactive with me! May I never take it for granted or relegate you to the sidelines. Such arrogance–yet, I have done it before. Even when I get impatient with myself, may Your lovingkindness wash over me and encourage me to simply continue in striving to be just like You. Thank You for the promise that one day I will succeed! May I memorize and internalize 1 Corinthians 13:9-10, 12, For I know in part and prophesy (teach) in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 12 For now I see only a reflection as in a mirror; then I shall see [You] face to face. Now I know [You] in part; then I shall know [You] fully, even as I am fully known. Make it so, LORD Jesus, make it so. Amen.

*Heaven by Randy Alcorn, page 415

Proverbs 13 3-13-20

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Interesting question–until we look at the Word of God, and then we realize it’s a DUMB question! The angels described in 1 Kings 6:23-27 are 15 feet tall with wingspans of 15 feet. THAT’S BIG! The world depicts cherubim (cherubs) as pudgy baby angels with tiny wings–the Bible describes them as MIGHTY and FEARFUL. For this reason, angels always say, “Be not afraid…” anytime they appear to humans.

14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
    turning a person from the snares of death.

What does this topic tell us about the musings of man? Our thoughts tend to be futile and will lead us to death. Satan will have us thinking all kinds of things rather than going to the Source of Truth, the Word of God. He started in the garden of Eden when he proposed to Eve that what God had said might not be true (see Genesis 3:1-5) and he continues today. People will even believe that aliens seeded the human race rather than acknowledge that God created man from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7)! Richard Dawkins is one of them. Richard Dawkins Interview

The light of the righteous [God’s truth in His Word] shines brightly,
    but the lamp of the wicked [our own imaginings] is snuffed out.

The fun part about reading the Bible is that it is ALIVE (Hebrews 4:12). The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the words as we read them. We fellowship with the Creator even as we read about Him creating the heavens and the earth! Our friendship with God becomes more and more solid the more we learn from Him BY READING HIS WORD. I love this next verse:

25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content,
    but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.

If we want answers, we must go the correct SOURCE. The Bible is God’s revealed truth to us. He thought it was important enough to write it down for us so that we wouldn’t get it wrong and could refer to it often (through the centuries, folks have even messed that up!). But, for our interpretations to be accurate, we need to be in touch with the Author. We don’t read primarily for knowledge, but for wisdom, which is seeing from God’s perspective, and we can’t get that from anywhere else except spending time with God.

When we play the “what if” game, we must play it by God’s rules. In other words, we do it according to His Word. To play it any other way gives opportunity to the devil. For this reason, we “study the Bible diligently to show ourselves approved, workmen who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing and correctly handling the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).” We must remember that we don’t fight the same way the world does:

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 “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 and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

A prime example is the GREAT FLOOD, where we find that the Word of God is confirmed by the evidence left in our world. The secret to unlocking that evidence is to look at the world through the lens of Scripture. Let’s look at “All the springs of the great deep burst forth” (Gen. 7:11). When we look at the world on Google Maps with the oceans removed, we can clearly the Mid-Atlantic Trench, which is part of a trench that runs all over the earth. It is where the “great deep burst forth” and nearly destroyed the planet! Earth globe-no water

Let’s be wise today and spend time with the LORD in His Word. I promise that your spiritual hunger will be satisfied and your spiritual thirst quenched.

Abba, I praise You for the way You speak to me during my “quiet time.” Reading Your word comes alive when I open myself up to You and Your instruction. I pray for all who read this devotional that they would find the “secret to spiritual success” by doing the same. You are AWESOME! Thank You for creating such a neat way to spend time with You. May our friendship deepen as we do this daily. Amen.