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.

Proverbs 13 2-13-20

Being satisfied with Jesus and in Jesus is what makes Christianity so great. Have you found sustainable satisfaction in Him?

4 A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

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

If you are wondering how these two verses go together, let me explain. We become righteous through the shed blood of Jesus Christ as our “replacement sacrifice.” Our lives are changed from being a stench to God to being a fragrant aroma to Him. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:2, “and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Let’s go Leviticus and look at what these phrases mean.

Sacrifice (heb. korban)- an object that helps the worshipper draw closer to God. Obedience is key.

Atonement (heb. kaphar, kippur)- to ransom by means of a substitute. Jesus is our substitute!

“Aroma” represented clean souls that are drawing near to God through repentance through atonement by means of a sacrifice. Let’s look at Ephesians 5:2 again:

and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

  1. Christ loved us and gave His life for us. Walking in His way is the least we can do!
  2. How much did Christ love us? John 3:16. He gave His life.
  3. Christ is our atonement, our substitute, and is the FINAL ATONEMENT for all mankind. 23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:23-25
  4. Because Jesus is a fragrant offering to God, we are, too! 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 everywhere. 15 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

The heights of His love and the depths of His grace cause us to stand amazed in His presence! The longer I live and the more I study, the more amazed I am at the extent God has gone to get us back. I am with Paul when he exclaims,

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

All we can say is, “Thank You, Jesus!” Now that we have His Spirit in us to guide us and to give us victory over our sinful nature, we can focus and concentrate on living righteous lives for Him, fully satisfied in Him and knowing that we are a sweet fragrance to Him and the aroma of salvation to those around us. WE HAVE SUSTAINABLE SATISFACTION IN CHRIST.

Abba, thank You for coming to earth in the form of Yeshua our Messiah and becoming the atonement/replacement sacrifice for us so that we did not have to die for our sins. Because of what You did for me, I, through Your power and presence and participation in my life, will live for you. Amen.

Proverbs 13 1-13-20

Unconfessed sin hurts us. Our refusal to acknowledge our feelings and acts of rebellion keeps us from God.

1 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.

13 Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded.

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

Unconfessed sin shows a rebellious heart. Proverbs deals with three levels of attitude concerning sin and our relationship with the Father:

  1. The simple-one who doesn’t know better, yet has a tendency toward sinful actions. He is drawn to them easily. We must show him the way of righteousness.
  2. The fool-one who knows better, but can’t resist sin, nor is he interested in learning how to break the pattern. We must rebuke him and put him on probation until he has repented and learned new ways of thinking and doing.
  3. The mocker-one who enjoys sin and gets mad if a person has a different opinion; in fact, the mocker intimidates and ridicules a person for having a different opinion or for pointing the error of his ways. Stay away from him! Until he has a change of heart, he is like poison. If you feel led to rebuke him, understand that YOU will become the problem.

We all have been each of these at one time or another. Our goal is to be the wise child who heeds our Father’s instruction. Here is what He says:

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

Are we really interested in knowing God? in being like Him? in walking with Him and learning to be just like Jesus? We must ask ourselves these questions each time that we are tempted to look away, to stray, or to return to old ways. The great part about being a Christ-Follower is that we get to enjoy His presence and participation in our lives. We get to enjoy His love, joy and peace. We have hope and receive grace–but only if we are willing to confess our sinfulness (agree with God that we love wrong) and give ourselves over to Him to transform our lives into godly ones. It’s a process–a daily process. We have this promise:

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen [that in which we hope], since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

King David knew how to repent. In Psalm 51, he came right out with it:

Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

David prayed for a willing spirit. We should, too. We need the want-to to want to, and He gives it freely (Phil. 2:13). Understanding that until we are free of these old bodies, we will never be free from the temptations of the flesh. We stay in a constant tension between our will and God’s will. We die to self so that we can live for Him. His Spirit is in the driver’s seat from now on! Let’s give ourselves over quickly to Him through repentance and washing with the water of the Word (Eph. 5:26). Let us “set our face like flint” (Isaiah 50:7) to follow the LORD today.

Abba, how important it is for us to realize the seriousness of how we live our lives. It’s not so much that we fail You as it is that we miss out on the fellowship and teaching that walking with You offers. You have SO MUCH to show us and do with us! I can hardly wait to get to Your side and eventually experience Eden with You. Even so, come, LORD Jesus.

 

Proverbs 13 12-13-19

If Christ is in us, then we want what He wants. We might also want what we want, but having a fight inside ensures us that we ARE His.

5 The righteous [innately] hate what is false, but the wicked [those who give in to ungodly feelings] make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.

It’s the fight inside that proves we are His. If the Holy Spirit were not inside of us, then we would not be bothered by choosing wickedness. Instead, every decision we make is being run by Him and He is giving us His opinion. He is training us to be righteous. Our “want-to to want to” is proof that He is living and active in our lives.

So, that’s the first step in righteousness. The second step is to learn as much as we can intellectually so that we know righteousness from unrighteousness. “Find out what pleases the Lord.” Ephesians 5:10. We do that through prayer and Bible study. When the Bible says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32, then we must learn to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another. We tend to do it in a general sense first, categorically. But, then, we start running into it all over the place. We find that even small expectations bring out judgement in us. We must learn that even in the small decisions–especially in the small decisions–we must think like Christ.

The third step is to train ourselves to be godly. “Have nothing to do with godless myths [don’t entertain them in your minds] and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.” 1 Timothy 4:7. How? By practicing the presence of Christ. We are NOT meant to be godly in our own power; we ARE meant to act by the power of the Spirit of God in us. Jesus Himself empowers us when we get out of the way and allow Him to lead.

So, the next time someone disappoints us or is rude to us, instead of thinking ungodly thoughts, judging his comment or decision, or speaking derogatorily to someone else about that person, let’s allow the Spirit to guide our thoughts: Pray for the person; make allowance for the person’s freedom to choose; give the person a way to save face. “We will guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” I’m not talking about just what we say; we are certainly to put a muzzle on our mouths. I’m talking about what is going on in our minds and hearts. Argue with yourself, fight with yourself, and take every thought captive for Christ and to Christ. It’s important.

Paul knew this fight. Here’s what he had to say about it:

26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27

He also tells us:

We demolish arguments [with ourselves] and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God [our own justifications], and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

People will notice this change in us far more quickly than they will believe what we say. Our actions DO speak louder than our words. Let’s show Christ in the small things so that when the bigger things come, we will be prepared.

Abba, You know how I hate being unprepared for something. May I apply my own preference to my daily living. Help me to prepare each morning for the day by spending time with You in prayer and in Your Word. Help me to train vigorously in righteousness so that my FIRST inclination displays Your character and Your moral fiber, which is goodness. Make me good at being good. Thank You for answering this prayer, for it is certainly according to Your will. I will be ready for the training; give me lots of opportunities–did I really just pray that?! Indeed, I did! Amen (so be it).

Proverbs 13 11-13-19

Little steps before big steps. Little responsibilities before big responsibilities. Training before implementation.

13 Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded [expected]; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked [for their return].” Luke 12:48

I went to a commissioning/sending service for missionaries last night. It was quite a service! Great music, great testimonies, great message, and great prayer time around the missionaries. By the time they get to this point, they have done the groundwork for their ministry. They have gone to school, studied the language and culture, and they are ready. Some have even been before!

But, there’s more to their lives than that. Several missionaries mentioned that God put an interest in their hearts for a certain people group early in their lives. They allowed God to groom them for what they are going to do. Some of them married with the same vision and passion, and now they go together to the mission field. What I hear between their words is lives lived with an awareness of the Holy Spirit in their lives, a daily discipline of Bible study and prayer (a concerted and protected time of conversation with Jesus), and a walk that reflects their love for Jesus and all that they believe. They are experts in the Christian faith.

Yet, if you were to ask them, I’m sure that they will tell you the same thing I would tell you, which is that no matter how “good” we get at following Christ, it’s not because of us or anything we do; it’s all Him, about Him, by Him, and through Him (Romans 11:36). We each are just one step away from falling, so we stay riveted to His side. We can hear the voice of Jesus no more clearly than anyone else who will take the time and put in the work to clear out all the clutter and filter out all the interference in our lives that mutes, distorts, and drowns out His still, small voice (Robin calls that my amplified version).

A great verse for fellowship with the LORD is Revelation 3:18.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat/commune/fellowship with him and he with me.”

It is often used as a salvation verse, which is correct, but it goes much deeper than simply salvation. Jesus was talking to Christians and was asking them to let Him into their lives so that He could fellowship with them–a deep and intimate fellowship, a permanent fellowship, one that would go on constantly and would last for a lifetime. It is this level of communion (from which we get the word, “community”) that Jesus calls us, both with Himself and with His Church, His Bride, His Body, God’s other children.

Let’s invite Jesus in today for that deep, intimate level of companionship and fellowship. You’ll never regret it! Who knows? He may call YOU to be a missionary for Him.

“Many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14

“Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate [turn away from] father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” Luke 14:33

Abba, I pray for those who read my blog that they would give themselves to You today. I give myself to You and ask that you be my Guide today. So, where are we going? I can hardly wait! Amen.

 

Proverbs 13 10-13-19

Is there such thing as mutually opposing truths? No. One is right and the other is wrong. But how can one tell the difference?

16 All who are prudent act with knowledge,
    but fools expose their folly.

Truth- objectively; universally, what is true in any matter under consideration Lexicon

Concerning truth, we have two choices:

  1. God’s Word, which is based upon historical fact, eye-witness accounts, archeological facts, and personal experience by believers throughout time;
  2. Man’s word, which is based upon feelings and desires, fed by the lies of Satan and his horde–unless, of course, one doesn’t believe in the spirit world. One might notice that I didn’t list archeological fact. The fact of the matter is that there is no evidence for an old earth nor an old universe. No one was there to testify to it; no testing can be done to verify it; all of the data can also be interpreted from a new-earth perspective; there is much data to prove the Great Flood really happened, which pretty much “washes out” the old-earth theory.

Why does it make a difference? It goes like this:

IF the world was not created by God in a literal six days and dinosaurs lived millions of years ago with man evolving over millions of years from an amoeba to human, then life is built on death; death did NOT enter through the “sin” of Adam, and Jesus’ premise for His saving act on the cross was built on a mistaken notion–if not a lie and deception.

IF Christ did NOT die in our place on the cross and rise again to give us new life, then we have nothing awaiting us beyond the grave.

IF we are not created by God, but by random chance, then we are mindless and cannot rationalize at all. The thoughts I am writing right now are random impulses running through my brain and just happen to be coming out my fingers on this keyboard.

IF we are from amoebas, then there is no morality, but survival of the fittest. Anything goes. It’s the golden rule: He who owns the gold makes the rules. Another motto is: Might Makes Right.

But, IF the universe was created by God,

IF God made the world and everything in it in six literal days,

IF He made mankind in His image and gave him free will,

IF Adam sinned and we with (in) him, thus requiring a Savior,

IF Jesus Christ is the last Adam, the One who gave Himself for us and died in our place,

IF He rose again on the third day thus proving that He is God and that there IS life after death,

IF He offers us eternal life in exchange for the lies, the deceptions, the rags, and the filth of our sin,

IF we receive His gift of salvation by giving Him our lives and trusting in Him from now on,

THEN what Jesus said is true: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

There are two kinds of knowledge:

  1. Tangible, testable knowledge, which can be tested and proven;
  2. Experiential knowledge, which is experienced by individuals and moves beyond the tangible to the known. One cannot argue against experience, unless, of course, he can prove that the experience was a deception. But, that knife cuts both ways. If one tries to prove that Christians made up their salvation experience and our daily walk with God, he opens himself up to be shown that Satan has deceived him into believing the lie about Evolution.

If a person looks at the facts from a purely scientific perspective, one of investigative neutrality, he will find much more evidence FOR the Bible than against it. The problem lies in the fact that people who don’t WANT to believe in God cannot afford to look at the question neutrally, because once they do, then they must admit there is God, and once they do that, then they must answer to Him as their Creator, which they don’t want to do (the true reason for their resistance).

I believe that the Bible is literally true for two reasons. The first is that I follow archeological, biological, historical, and other scientific finds and they ALL prove the Bible’s claims. The second is that I have personally MET the Savior; He now lives in me and we converse constantly.* He is my BEST FRIEND even while being my God.

Oh, Abba, if people could just let go of their fear, their arrogance, and their sin for just a moment and experience what it’s like to know You personally, they would NEVER go back! I know I didn’t. May You move mightily in our families, our churches, and in our world to call those who will listen. I know that You are patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but for everyone to come to repentance.** May Your will be done, my LORD. Amen.

*Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

**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.

Proverbs 12 10-13-19

There is a “secret” that is so obvious people miss it all the time! It has to do with intention rather than productivity.

No one can be established through wickedness,
    but the righteous cannot be uprooted.

We tend to brand certain things as “wicked,” others as “godly,” and the rest as “neutral.” Actually, everything that is not godly is wicked. God created us for fellowship, which means that everything we do with Him is godly. Antithetically, everything done without regard for Him or His opinion is wicked. NOW the verse begins to make a bit more sense. If we are walking in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:25), then we cannot be uprooted, whereas a person who walks either without the Spirit or out of step with the Spirit cannot be established.

Uprooted from what? Established in what? Here is what Paul prayed for the Ephesians:

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Here is what he told the Colossians:

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.

The early Christians didn’t have Bibles that they could carry around, so we can surmise that it’s not necessarily the reading of Scripture that is this secret. We must look at the intent of their lives. Looking at the above verses, let’s ask ourselves some questions:

  1. How does the Spirit strengthen us with power?
  2. How are we rooted and established in love?
  3. How can we grasp the entirety of the love of Christ?
  4. How can we know this love?
  5. How can we be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God?
  6. How do we continue to live our lives in Him?
  7. How are we rooted and built up in Him?
  8. How are we strengthened in the faith?
  9. How do we overflow with thankfulness?

The answers lie in this secret: Fellowship with Him. We must intentionally focus on BEING WITH HIM. His ways are more caught than taught. His disciples didn’t attend a school once a day where Jesus was the teacher and then go home. NO! They walked with Him and lived with Him. He taught them as they went along. They CAUGHT His love and mercy, His tender compassion, and His mission as He taught the people, fed them and healed them. He even died for them.

After He had risen, He did something extraordinary: He came to live in each disciple! He lives in us, too!!! Rather than being all caught up in living a certain way, let’s focus on walking with Him through today. Let’s read His Word to hear His voice. Let’s attune our ears to His frequency by filtering out as many worldly voices as we can. When we talk to Him, let’s expect to hear from Him. It probably won’t be audible, but we KNOW it when we “hear” it.

Granted, the more we read His words, the more clearly we hear His voice. The more we obey His commands, the better we understand His plan and intentions. We “get it.” Holiness is Christ With Us. Let’s be holy today.

Abba, may each of us come to know You better as we read the Scriptures. May we focus on You instead of being obedient, which will come by being with You and listening to You. “You are our rock, our shield, our fortress, our salvation and our strength.” May we lean on You even as we walk with You today. Amen.

Proverbs 13 9-13-19

Doing what Jesus asks is what Christianity is all about. Are we listening? Are we even in the same room?!

(13) Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded.

Our terminology has changed since Solomon’s time. We tend to think of the Spirit’s instruction and commands as urgings and suggestions. I think it’s because we know the LORD on such an intimate level that we see His love and gentleness and patience first. What we must do is look beyond His compassion to His Lordship and leadership.

We are called…by Whom? to what?

(6) And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. Romans 1:6

(28) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

We belong to Jesus Christ. We have been bought by His blood on the cross. He paid a heavy price for us. We should be grateful.

We have been called according to His purpose, which is to be extensions of Him to this world. He came to show us the way and to pay the price. He then returned to His place by the Father’s side. Through His Spirit, we were recruited to be His ambassadors in this world.

The Great Commission, given in Matthew 28:19-20, is usually translated, “Go.” A better way to look at it is, “As you go.” The idea is to be intentional about making disciples as we live our daily lives. The method we use is determined by the person to whom we are talking. Some people come from a Christian background and will understand the lingo we use. Some will come from a religious background that actually gets in the way of understanding because of twisted theology. Some will have no basis at all for comprehending what we are telling them. We must give the Spirit time to cultivate a willing heart. In the meantime, we are to DEMONSTRATE Christ’s love just as He did for us. (8) But God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

“But what if it costs me something?”

“What if it hurts?”

“What if it means watching a loved one suffer?”

“What if I die, or my loved one dies?”

First, let’s remember that Christ showed us the way as a Suffering Servant. Second, don’t forget that He has a NEW WORLD awaiting us! With NEW BODIES! Third, let’s look at the example left by the disciples:

(41) The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Acts 5:41 They had been flogged because they wouldn’t quit preaching the Name of Christ (verse 40). So, what did they do? Go and hide and never speak Jesus’ name again? NO! (42) Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. 

What we must do as modern day Christians is to quit living like we belong to this world and start living like we belong to Christ and His world. We start by yielding our lives to Him each morning–even before coffee!

Are you worthy? Paul–from prison, no less– exhorts the Ephesian church to (4:1) “live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (2) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (3) Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Are we willing to do as Paul said?

Where do we start? In our homes. If we can do it at home, then we can do it anywhere.

At church. It’s the practice field for our faith. If we can do it there, then we can do it anywhere.

At work, the ballfield, the lake, the mall, while driving (for those inside our cars as well as outside), Walmart, etc. They are where the Gospel needs to be demonstrated.

Just so you know, I’m preaching to myself here. May we all heed His instruction and follow His commands.

Abba, I know what to do; now, give me the desire and the power to do it! In Your name and for Your name, Amen.