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.