Proverbs 14 7-14-21

What is the first lesson that a new Christian needs to learn? It’s about where his power to change comes from.

12 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death [destruction].

Lesson One

A Christian’s power comes from the person of Christ, His in-dwelling. The Holy Spirit is the one who lives in us and empowers us. Therefore, our greatest weapon is prayer: constant, intentional, conversational interaction with the King of the universe. We can’t surprise Him, nor can we disappoint Him since He knows all about us: past, present, and future.

This power is going to manifest itself in our ability to overcome sin in our lives. It first comes as desire; then we figure out how to beat sin. Don’t worry about failing; the Lord changed our relationship with sin so that now, instead of separating us from Him, He uses our failings as tools for our training in righteousness. Pretty cool, huh?

Here are some verses to chew on:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know…his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, Ephesians 1:18-20

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

I particularly like this last verse because it describes the perfection (completeness, wholeness) of Christ, yet He gives that perfection to us through His Spirit. “In this world we are like Jesus” (1 John 4:17). Through His power working in us, we can love like He did, and we can practice self-discipline just like He did, which was perfectly. The Great American Hero (an old tv series) was given the ability to fly, but he had to learn as he went; consequently, he wasn’t very good at it, but we must remember one thing: He Could Fly! We can, too, because we have His Spirit in us.

Let’s walk with the Spirit and keep in step with Him as He grows in us the fruit that perfects us: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Abba, may You grow all of these fruit in our lives. Help us to keep our eyes focused on You as we walk with you day by day. Keep transforming us into Your image, conforming us to the image of Your Son, Jesus. I’m lovin’ it! Amen.

Proverbs 14 6-14-21

Trusting the Lord with our lives happens when we believe His promises. But, we must first know His promises!

14 The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways [not believing in God’s one and only Son], and the good rewarded for theirs [believing in the promises of God].

Who we trust reveals in whom we believe. If we only trust our own decisions, then we don’t really believe in Jesus Christ. He either knows the best for us or He doesn’t. Trusting Him requires walking with Him and listening to what He tells us. It’s usually much more than just commands; He tells us He loves us and gives us hints of what He has in store for us.

Let’s look at some of the promises that He gives us:

16 For God so loved the world [us] that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes [and trusts] in him shall not perish [self-destruct] but have eternal life. John 3:16

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

27 Christ in us, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for youAnd if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:2-3

These are but a few of the many promises that Jesus gave us on which to build our lives. With His Spirit in us, we have the desire to please Him, to get to know Him, and to commune with Him continuously. It’s what God wanted all along! Along with that desire is the power to resist the urges and the draw of our old nature. Praise the Lord that we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)!

Today, let’s determine to trust the Lord like we never have before. Let’s take Him at His word that He knows what is best for us. He also wants to include us in His plan to reach the world–often, one person at a time. Let’s join Him in His work!

Abba, I want to join You in Your work. I want to feel Your Holy Spirit and know Your love, joy and peace that emanates from You. I want them to spill out onto others! Use me for Your glory, Lord Jesus. I am Yours. Amen.

Proverbs 14 5-14-21

Is your desire to grow in Christ? To be everything that He wants you to be? To be just like Him in character? I pray it is!

1 The wise woman [and man] builds her ]spiritual] house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
4 Where there are no oxen [no commitment], the manger [spiritual content] is empty, but from the strength of the ox [a strong connection with the Father] come abundant harvests [the building up of souls].

The final category in the stages of spiritual growth is Parent. The characteristics are:

  • Intentional
  • Strategic
  • Reproduction-minded
  • Self-feeding
  • Mission-minded
  • Team-minded (unity matters to them)
  • Dependable

These are the people we want as leaders of our church. They keep the main thing the main thing in their lives, which is the mission of Jesus. They know Christ personally and walk with Him daily. They lead by example and look for opportunities to share Christ in soundbites or in a full-fledged teaching or even an evangelistic appeal. Whatever opportunity is there, they’ll take it. They lead classes, Bible studies, and prayer groups; they mentor and disciple, along with other responsibilities. Sharing Christ is not a duty, but a passion for them.

How does a person get to this stage of his Christianity? I can offer some clues:

  1. Determine in your heart to know Christ. Without that inner fire, there’s no motivation. If you don’t have much, ask the Lord to give it to you. Pray for that higher desire; Robin calls it “the want-to to want to.”
  2. Realize that becoming a Spiritual Parent doesn’t happen quickly, but over time. Consistency is key.
  3. Although experience in trusting Christ through difficult times is a great teacher, walking through hard times doesn’t give us a sure spot on the team. HOW we walk through those times matters greatly. Our faith is based upon the promises of God through Jesus Christ. How we exercise that faith shows how much we believe what we know–and sometimes exposing what we don’t know. It’s also about trusting; our walk with God is put out there for the world to see when we go through those difficult times. Do we trust Him? It will show.
  4. Be ever-learning. We can never know it all this side of heaven (and not there, either!). Read, read, read your Bible. Finished? Start again, but from a different angle. Read it from cover to cover, then read it chronologically. Read it in its categories. Read it with a lexicon handy. Read it with a commentary in-hand. Look up the history of a book and author. The BEST way to learn a verse or truth is to TEACH it.
  5. Pray, pray, pray. Our connection with Jesus is what it’s all about. Praying connects us with others. Praying for people releases the Holy Spirit’s power and participation in that person’s life. Praying with a person who is in a battle encourages him and points him to the Father. Praying with a group unifies the group. If prayer is distasteful to you, I suggest you examine your commitment to the Lord. It may be based upon works rather than a relationship. If praying out loud makes you uncomfortable, get over it. Do it often enough that you don’t even think about it anymore. It’s important.

One thing I have noticed when praying in a group is that I pay attention much better when I vocally take part in another person’s prayer. I try not to get in his way as he prays, but I echo what he says, agree with him, confirm him, and join him in his travail. It energizes me when others do it while I am praying. Let me go ahead and say that prayer can be interrupted to ask the name of a person that was mentioned for prayer, or for any reasonable reason. Prayer is sacred, but it’s also conversational. Let’s keep it real.

My prayer for you is that you will want to grow up in Christ and become a Spiritual Parent. Passing our faith on to others, especially training them to pass their faith on to others, is paramount. It’s one of the things they live for. It’s what puts the “parent” in Spiritual Parent.

Abba, may You place in each of my readers the desire to become a Spiritual Parent. It’s a long, tough road–You said it would be when You said that the gate is small and the road is narrow and only few continue on it (Matthew 7:13-14). May we put in the time and effort. May we allow You to work Your way into every area of our lives like leaven in a loaf (Matthew 13:33). May we read, memorize, and teach Your Word; it’s the only way to really know You and what You desire. Do whatever it takes, O Lord. We are Yours. Amen.

Proverbs 14 4-14-21

Heaven is real. Heaven is concurrent. Earth is what we see in the viewscreen; heaven is everything else!*

11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish.

We will follow two themes today. One deals with verse 11, and the other concludes our study on the New Covenant and its ramifications (not that we have dealt with all of them).

First, a wicked person is one who is self-made. In other words, he has no room for God’s opinion. Even the good things he does have a wicked core, which is his own opinion of himself and what he considers good. Anything done outside of the direction and participation of the Holy Spirit is evil and will not carry into eternity. We are to store up for yourselves treasures in heaven;” the wicked person does not do that; instead, he stores up treasures on earth.

The second thing is the reference to a house. A house is a symbol of permanence. By building a house, a person is saying, “I’m staying right here. I am investing in my life in this house.” Notice that the upright uses a tent. Why? Because he can then use what he saved by not investing a house for heavenly investments. Also, he is making the statement, “I am not investing in this world because even though I am in this world, I am not of it (John 17:14-16). I have my sights set on the place my Father has in store for me in the kingdom of heaven.” Why do the upright flourish? Because they are spending their lives, their time and their resources wisely according to God.

Which brings us to the conclusion of the New Covenant ramifications. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36. So, where is His kingdom? Let’s look:

It’s not with the religious rulers of the temple, “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” Matthew 21:43

Many of Jesus’ disciples got to see Jesus come in His kingdom, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Matthew 16:28

Jesus brought His kingdom to each believer at Pentecost, “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:3-4

Why do I think such a thing? Because Jesus said, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst [within you].” Matthew 17:20-21. “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,” Colossians 1:13.

The kingdom of heaven is wherever Jesus is, so if Jesus is in our hearts, then the kingdom of heaven is within us! In view of this revelation, what does it mean concerning the coming of the kingdom? It means that the kingdom of heaven comes to earth as the people of earth receive Jesus into their lives. Want His kingdom to come, His will be done? Then pray that people will receive Jesus Christ, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach!

* The beginning statement needs explanation. When COVID 19 hit, we went to an online service. That Easter, we had one scene for the music and then a living room scene for the sermon. People saw the scenes as the cameras focused on them. I was standing just off-camera as Bryan and Luann finished up the sermon when I realized that Bryan and Luann were “standing on earth” while I was “standing in heaven.” What we perceive on this earth is only what we can see through the lens of the camera. Heaven is everything else: the scene where Robin and I sang, the rest of the stage, the empty seating, the tech area, etc. We should think of heaven as something just outside of our perception. Think about it: All Jesus did to show up in the upper room with His disciples was to step into the scene. He stepped out of the scene when He was with the two disciples at Emmaus. Where is heaven? It’s right beside you–just off-camera. The threshold of death is just that, a threshold, a doorway into the spirit world.

We finish with one more kingdom of heaven verse, “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven [Jesus] has come near.’” Matthew 10:7.

Abba, I know these are difficult concepts, but it’s time for us to put away childish things and become spiritual adults–or, at least, leave the nursery. We want spiritual meat so we can share weighty stuff with those in need of real answers to life–not to impress them, but to offer them something other than “junk food and pat answers.” You live in our hearts. You reign in our lives. You give real peace and real joy and real purpose, and You love with an everlasting love. These are the truths we need to be sharing as well as experiencing them in our own lives. We can’t share what we do not have. So, move in us, O Lord. Shake us until there is nothing left but that which is eternal. If we’re not ready, then get us ready. Move across our land with renewal for Your people and then revival for our potential brothers and sisters in Christ. May it be time, Abba. Amen. So be it.

Proverbs 14 3-14-21

Believing Jesus is important. If we believe what He says, then we will do what He says.

6 The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning [those who are looking].
35 A king delights in a wise servant, but a shameful [disobedient] servant arouses his fury.

As we continue viewing Matthew’s account of Christ’s ministry, we read in chapter 9 about two events which include the teachers of the law being both mockers and shameful servants.

And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it [but not the leaders], they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. Matthew 9:1-8

There are several things to note concerning this passage:

  1. Jesus was in His home town of Nazareth. He more than likely knew all the players.
  2. We know from Mark 2:4 that they cut a hole in the roof and let the man down in front of Jesus.
  3. Jesus knew the thoughts of the teachers of the law. He knows all our thoughts!
  4. Which IS easier? Are they not both impossible for man? “But with God, all things are possible” Matthew 19:26.
  5. The man was obedient. Wouldn’t you be?
  6. All the glory went to God (v. 8).

I’m sure that it would seem that Jesus was blaspheming, but the proof that He is Messiah was proven by His healing the man. Only God can do such things. How did they respond? Eventually, they would conspire to kill Him.

Jesus went on to Capernaum and called Matthew to follow Him.

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice [Hosea 6:6].’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

  1. Jesus was comfortable with those whom the religious leaders considered “sinners.”
  2. Jesus broke a lot of the pharisaical rules, not to mention the societal ones.
  3. The religious leaders did not consider themselves sinners, nor sick and in need of spiritual health.
  4. Hosea 6 is an indictment of the religious leaders and their poor leadership. Surely they picked up on it.
  5. Jesus was not there to call mockers, but those who realize they need a Savior–THE Savior.

As we go to church this morning either in person or online, let us consider: Do we need a Savior? Were we sinful enough for Christ to have to die for us? If we believe we do and that we are, then we will get much out of church today. We will go with grateful hearts and dry sponges ready to slurp up spiritual truths. We will sing praises to our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, and we will give our lives–once again– to Him with humble hearts.

Abba, I surely do! I praise You for loving me and doing what it took to reinstate me as Your child. Thank You for wanting me; Your presence in my life and your interaction with me makes life worth living. The fellowship we share means more than I can express. I bless You and praise You today, Lord Jesus. May my life honor You. Amen.

Proverbs 14 2-14-21

Want a love story? How’s this: “‘How much do I love you? This much…’ And He stretched out His hands and died…”

8 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is [self] deception. Also v.15, 18, 24 and 27

Things go wrong. They have ever since the Fall in the Garden of Eden. We need to be prepared for when they go wrong for us. God works within the framework of our own making: a sin-riddled world. He may not protect us from injury, disease, and attack; instead, He asks us to trust Him with what is beyond this life. Do we?

In the hands of our loving heavenly Father, every event becomes an opportunity for us to learn trust and discipline, and to turn our eyes to the eternal. Every day, we are faced with our own mortality. The problem is that the enemy gets us to focus on our health, our security, and the longevity of our lives. Think about it: Why would we strive so hard to live in this world of pain, loss and heartache when we can go to be with our heavenly Father, our loved ones who have already gone on, and receive our glorified bodies that will last forever–without the sin nature!?

Our lives exist to bring glory to the Father and to Christ Jesus. Everything that happens to us can be a glory-giver. Are we willing to allow Him to use the failures, the accidents, and the unfortunate circumstances–as well as the good times–in our lives for His glory? No matter how we live or how we die, our success is in our faithfulness. If we really believe that He goes to prepare a place for us and that, when it is ready, He will come back for us, then we can focus on Him and on His plan for us today and not worry about tomorrow. We know that it’s not about heaven; it’s about Him–His will, His glory.

Would you give your life to testify to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? The only way we’ll answer yes to this question is if we are in a continuous and intimate relationship with Him. I pray that you are.

Abba, dying to myself is the hardest thing I do, yet you call me to do it daily–even moment by moment. I want to act like You, Jesus, therefore I want to think like You. Please transform my mind and my thoughts. Help me to overcome my will and my “wants.” I can be pretty selfish…okay, a lot selfish! Keep renewing me, Abba. I need it badly. I need You! Amen.

Proverbs 14 1-14-21

Does the world hate you? Have you been mistreated because of what you believe? No? Then maybe we don’t look enough like Christ…

Whoever fears the LORD walks uprightly [despite what it costs them], but those who despise Him [the LORD] are devious in their ways [against His followers].

Listen to the words of Christ:

18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as it loves its own. But I have chosen you out of the world, so you don’t belong to it. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: A servant is not greater than his master. If people did wrong to me, they will do wrong to you, too. And if they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours, too21 They will do all this to you on account of me, because they do not know the One who sent me.

There are three things we need to take away from this passage:

  1. We belong to Christ!
  2. People are not our enemy; Satan and his horde are our enemy. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 6:12. Are they deceived? Yes. Willfully rebellious? Yes. Beyond redemption? Not until death. It is our job to pray for them.
  3. We will be treated like the world treated Christ. It is an honor. “They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” Acts 5:40-41.

How can we expect to be treated better than our Master? than God Himself? Jesus continued,

23 Whoever hates me also hates my Father. 24 I did works among them that no one else has ever done. If I had not done these works, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen what I have done, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. John 15:23-24

I am immediately reminded of John’s passage about people loving darkness rather than light,

19 They are judged by this fact: The Light has come into the world, but they did not want light. They wanted darkness, because they were doing evil things. 20 All who do evil hate the light and will not come to the light, because it will show all the evil things they do.  John 3:19-20

Our callings are individual. We each take a stand for Jesus’ sake. It doesn’t matter if no one listens (like Jeremiah and Ezekiel); it doesn’t matter if we see no effect at all on those we are trying to influence. There is an accumulative effect that happens beyond our ability to perceive. We must trust the LORD in each matter. Take courage in doing what He has asked you to do, wherein there is certain satisfaction in our obedience. Let’s just make sure that what we do is Scripturally based and according to what He is leading us to do.

Abba, keep us on task as we follow You. Since we are “in the game,” we know that we cannot see what is happening on other parts of the field. We will trust You to know what’s going on and even what will happen in the future. Ours is to do as You say, when You say, and how You say. Make us good soldiers for You, Lord Jesus. Amen.

We are Servants of Our Savior
Let’s be faithful ones

Proverbs 14 12-14-20

Do you believe in angels? That they stand in the presence of God? That they deliver His message to people? Then, you can believe the entire Bible!

35 A king delights in a wise servant [one who believes what His Master has told him], but a shameful servant [one who acts on his own knowledge] arouses his fury .

The best illustration for this verse is Jesus’ parable of the three servants who were given a certain amount of money to invest (Matthew 25:14-30). Two servants took Him at His word and did what He told them to do. The third servant did according to what he thought was best, “‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’” Jesus called him a wicked servant (“wicked” means that we act on our own rather than with the Spirit).

Now, let’s look at the Christmas narrative and see two different faiths:

  1. The angel, Gabriel, appeared to Zechariah and proclaimed God’s message to him (Luke 1:11-17). Zechariah didn’t believe him based upon what he thinks according to his experience. Gabriel’s reproof was strong, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.” Gabriel’s prediction certainly came true and ended just as he said it would (Luke 1:63-64).
  2. Gabriel also appeared to Mary, who questioned the “how,” but not the power behind the “how” (Luke 1:34). Gabriel explained the “how” and then said, For nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).

Here’s where it gets interesting (as if it already wasn’t!). My version of the NIV and my computer version of the NLV both say, For no word from God will ever fail.The Amplified Version says, For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment. So, not only is nothing impossible with God, whatever He says is going to happen WILL HAPPEN! The same goes for the entire Bible. “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21.

Therefore, beginning in Genesis 1:1, we can believe and trust in God’s Word to be true and accurate. In fact, I have collected some 58 verses/passages throughout the Bible that reveal God’s creative power and refer to His creation of all things. If we don’t believe how God said He did it, then we can’t trust any of the other passages, either.

Which faith will you have? The faith of Zechariah, who believed only what his experiences in life taught him? Or the faith of Mary, who took God at His word? The fun part of Mary’s faith is that she walked with the Spirit and watched God’s plan unfold. We can do the same if we believe first and then ask God to reveal truth to us. It is happening all the time in the medical field, in archeology, in astronomy, in biology–in every area of science! It is even happening in today’s current events. Let’s believe God and allow Him to reveal to us how He is working in our world!

Abba, I pray that You will increase our faith, that You will enlighten the eyes of our hearts, and give us spiritual wisdom and constant revelation. May You do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to Your power that is at work within us. May You receive all glory in Your church and in Christ Jesus through this generation and the next, and forever and ever! Amen. (based upon Ephesians 1:18, 3:16-21).

Proverbs 14 11-14-20

If the kingdom of God is within us, we can never get away from it or Him. Might knowing this truth change our activities?

14 The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, but the good rewarded for theirs.

Believing that Christ is within us is the basis for Christianity. It’s not about going to heaven—it’s about heaven coming to us! “…the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21. We no longer need to worry about going to heaven because we are already with Jesus. One of my favorite verses is Colossians 1:27, “…Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The question then becomes, “How will we live our lives?” Will we live them in sweet fellowship with our Savior or will we ignore so great a gift and live for ourselves? The “good” and the “faithless” fall along these lines. We become that which we follow.

1. If we follow ourselves and disregard the Spirit within us, then we reveal that we don’t truly believe that Christ is in us. In fact, we show that we are not interested in being Christ’s or in following Him. We are faithless.

2. If we acknowledge His presence in us and turn to Him for fellowship, leadership and direction, then we produce good fruit for Him and His kingdom. We are good.

May we begin afresh and anew today with Him, acknowledge His presence in our lives, read His Word, and listen for/to His voice. Let’s do whatever He says and enjoy His friendship.

Abba, thank You for coming to live in my heart and life. Knowing You is worth more than life itself. May I be Your willing and obedient servant today, all the while enjoying Your friendship and becoming like You. Amen.

Proverbs 14 10-14-20

Many have forgotten the depths from which we were saved. Christ gave His life; what are we giving for Him? It would seem as little time and energy as possible…

2 Whoever fears the LORD walks uprightly, but those who despise Him are devious in their ways.
4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.

I like verse four. It basically tells me that God is willing to put up with a “dirty stall” to have “oxen” for the harvest. The key word to this verse is “commitment.” God wants commitment from us, and He’s willing to put up with the “stuff” in our lives to have a relationship with us. He saved us through Jesus Christ from the depths of our sinfulness. We couldn’t save ourselves; we needed Him! We owe Him everything.

Yet, we seem to have forgotten that if left to ourselves, we will revert back to our old ways; we forget that most people in this world are NOT believers and they don’t love the LORD Jesus–in fact, many are hostile to Him, and therefore, us. WE ARE SWIMMING UPSTREAM! The sooner we realize that, the better off we will be. We must work hard for Christ, WITH Christ and with each other in order to overcome, to have victory, and to avoid the traps that Satan sets for us. Actually, they are built into this world; it’s why we must be careful about how involved we get with it. Paul had something to say on the subject:

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officerSimilarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 2 Timothy 2:3-6

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

If the question is whether you do it your way or His way, didn’t you settle that question upon salvation? If you are still struggling with it, you may still be struggling with salvation rather than lordship. Consider this: Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 2 Corinthians 13:5.

If your desire is to please Him, but you are still at war with yourself, then get alone with the LORD for a couple of hours; read His Word (preferably 1 John, Romans, and Ephesians); seek Him in prayer as you repent and reflect upon Him and what He might be asking you to do that has you so scared. Our fear comes from envisioning the future WITHOUT Christ; envision it WITH Him and you will find an excitement about it! Try it–DO IT!

Abba, I struggle with sin in my life, but I know that You are the One who is keeping me clean on the inside even as I strive to stay clean on the outside. I pray for my readers that they would rediscover their gratefulness for all You have done for them. May they be willing to pick up a Bible and find out who You are. It’s important–especially as the election draws near. Help us, O God, to seek You with all our hearts. Amen.

2020 Election Guide from Franklin Graham

Proverbs 14 9-14-20

WHAT IF…God put you in your present situation in order to give you opportunity to know Him better?

1 The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Ladies, are you taking time to know God? Are you being a godly example in your home? Are you reading? Praying? Meeting with other Christian ladies and learning?

2 Whoever fears the LORD walks uprightly, but those who despise Him are devious in their ways. Guys, are you walking in the fear of the LORD? Are you careful to be obedient to Him and to defer to Him? Are you Reading? Praying? Meeting with other Christian men and learning?

I’ve been reading Amos. He prophesied against both Israel and Judah. Against Israel, he called them in their wealth and arrogance to humble themselves and to consider their wealth as traps rather than “the blessing of God.” Against Judah, he warned them that God was not pleased with their sacrifices and worship because their motives were all wrong. They lived sinful lives ignoring His laws about daily living and only made sure that their offerings and prayers were done in the proper fashion. The prophet Samuel had warned them long ago that “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like (as bad as) the sin of witchcraft, and arrogance like the evil off idolatry [it’s the worship of self]. 1 Samuel 15:22-23. 

How about us? Is God calling us out of our wealth to scorn our toys and our busy schedules, such as–dare I say it?–

  1. Going to the lake every weekend?
  2. Playing tournaments on Sunday?
  3. Using our toys (game devices, golf clubs, four-wheelers, etc.) to keep us from fellowshipping with other Christians and with the LORD?
  4. Being selective about with whom we associate because of social standing, income (or the lack of), whether or not they drink socially, or for any other reason?

Have I meddled enough? Sometimes we have to ask the hard questions. I’m not trying to do the Holy Spirit’s job here, but I DO want to call into question what just a few years ago would have been considered sinful. Let’s take the hard look.

IF you are in a challenging position right now, could it be that God has made it so you can spend more time with Him in Bible study and prayer? Do you have someone with whom you can discuss biblical topics? Are you taking advantage of the “free time” to do so? Again, I’m not trying to be the Holy Spirit; it’s just that I want you to not waste the time, but to redeem the time!

Sometimes we all need a kick in the pants. Consider this post one. Don’t wait for God to have to do it. But, even if He does, consider it a blessing to have such a loving God and Father. “Let a righteous man strike me–that is a kindness; let him rebuke me–that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers [even myself!].” Psalm 141:5.

Start this morning by acknowledging the LORD in your life. Block out everything else for a few minutes and open yourself up to His Spirit. Ask Him to “search my heart, O God, test me and know my anxious [fearful, misdirected, selfish, etc.] thoughts. See if there is any offensive [misguided] way in me [I will repent] and lead me in the way everlasting [Your way].” Psalm 139:23-24. Now, tune into His voice and listen as you read His Word. You’re gonna have a GREAT time with Him!

Abba, You know I do not say these words lightly. I do not hold others in contempt; but I do question their motives. Only YOU know if they are spending time with You and growing in You. Our society does everything it can to draw us away from You. May we NOT give in! Call us out; sanctify us; make us holy unto Yourself. Give us the spiritual backbone to make the hard choices even if it causes others to get mad (it’s usually because it calls THEIR motives into question). LORD, we have wandered away. Come and get us. We need You. Amen.

Proverbs 14 8-14-20

“Every trial that comes will strengthen or weaken our faith. It reveals the source of our faith [it’s foundation].” -Francine Rivers

8 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways [in light of their circumstances], but the folly of fools is [their self-] deception [unwillingness to bend in it].

Whether God caused our circumstances or not doesn’t matter. Instead of asking, “Why?” we should be asking, “What now, LORD?” To assume that God owes us an explanation or that He is “punishing us” is a sure sign of EGO. Our ego is at the heart of our sin nature. It’s the very thing that needs to be uncovered and laid bare so that we can give it to Jesus and be rid of it!

Here’s another reason that God doesn’t owe us an explanation: His thoughts and ways are beyond our understanding because they take into consideration EVERY person’s life, death, and interaction with family members, friends, and even enemies (Isaiah 55:8-9). Just because WE can’t see it [the reason things happen the way they do] doesn’t mean that He’s making it up. Neither is God capricious (given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior); it goes against His goodness, which is the very fibre of God’s character.

When my grandfather passed away, Robin and I went back to Shawnee to our apartment (we were at OBU). I cried out to God, “Why?!” He didn’t speak audibly to me–it was much louder than that (thanks, Jimmy Cox, for that description). He said, “It’s okay for you to ask, “why?” Just don’t expect an answer.” I replied, “Yes, sir.”

We must remember that it’s not about us, but about Him: “for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” 1 Corinthians 8:6. With this in mind, let’s draw as close to Him as we can during our times of inconvenience, frustration, discomfort, distress, and especially during our grief. For, “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. In fact, the next verse tells us that everything that happens to us He uses to make us more like Jesus (Romans 8:29).

Let’s not waste another trial!!!

Abba, I tend to learn the most during a crisis, so, if that’s what it takes for me to become the most like Jesus, then I am willing! Learning to depend on You in ALL circumstances is my highest priority. I have head-knowledge, LORD, but I need experience in order to drive what I know into my heart. May I be a quick learner! Amen.

Proverbs 14 7-14-20

Are you eager to do what Christ desires? Have you allowed His words to dwell in you richly? If not, then when? How can we expect to understand the goings-on in life if we don’t go to the Source of life?

The mocker [resistant person] seeks wisdom and finds none,
    but knowledge comes easily to the discerning [those who go to the Source].

This idea of being eager to please Jesus by allowing His words to dwell in us richly is actually three verses put together:

14 who [Jesus] gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

10 and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:10

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom…Colossians 3:16

By combining these three verses, we get this:

Those who are eager to do good
find out what pleases the Lord,
which is to let His words dwell in us richly.

Pretty simple, huh? All it takes is TIME. He has given us TIME; now we give TIME back to Him. TIME is one of the Five Love Languages* and it’s a big one for God. So is SERVICE, “Jesus replied, Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” John 14:23. We’ll cover the other love languages another time.

Let’s not let “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it [us] unfruitful.” Mark 4:19. Let’s find out what pleases Him, which we KNOW is to study His words so that He can make them come alive in our lives–just like this verse!

Abba, I pray that You will stir within my readers the desire to please You, to study Your Word, and to allow Your promises and commands to sink deep roots into them. Speak to us through what You have already said, LORD. Then, apply those words to our hearts and lives. Purify us to be Your people, eager to do Your will. Amen.

 

*The Five Love Languages:

  1. TIME
  2. TOUCH
  3. WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
  4. SERVICE
  5. GIFTS

 

Proverbs 14 6-14-20

The best defense is your own story. A person can refute facts, but your own personal story is unimpeachable.

5 An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies.

When we give our testimony of how we met the Lord, we are stating three Spirit-useable facts:

  1. How we were before we met Christ.
  2. How we met Christ.
  3. How we are now that we know Christ.

The Gospel is wrapped up in these facts. It’s our account of how the Gospel came to us. We needed the Good News; someone shared it with us; we came to Christ; He came into our hearts and lives; we walk with Him in His love, joy, peace, security, and grace. The Holy Spirit will use your testimony in that person’s life. We pray that it will be unto salvation in this life (if not, then it’s toward his conviction at judgement).

Be thinking about how you would share your testimony. If someone expresses fear, we can share about how walking with Jesus neutralizes our fear of death. If someone expresses disgust with politics, some of you who used to get upset can share about how God raises up kingdoms and brings down leaders according to His plan for history (His story), of which we are a part. You can even share that you are not rattled by all the discord because God is still on His throne, which includes the throne of your heart. There’s your lead-in…

It’s not as hard as one might think; it simply takes intentional forethought and deliberate “coincidences” that put you in places to be able to tell your story. I promise that the more we do it, the better at it we will get.

It goes without saying–but, I’ll say it anyway–that we must be prayed up and read up in order to have any power behind our stories. Lost people can spot weakness really quick. Whether it’s hypocrisy or spiritual weakness, we don’t want to go there. That’s why being at church this morning is really good for us. It gets our week off to a good start. “See” you there.

Abba, may You call us to hone our stories and then give us opportunities to share them. May You use our stories to call someone to Yourself. It’s this beggar showing another beggar where to find bread–the Bread of Heaven!
Looking forward to worshiping with my brothers and sisters today, LORD. Inhabit the praises of Your people. Amen.

Proverbs 14 5-14-20

We tend to focus on what we fear. We need to fear God more than anything–but a healthy fear!

2 Whoever fears the LORD walks uprightly, but those who despise him are devious in their ways.

The first thing we need to know is that fearing the LORD is NOT about heaven or hell. That matter was decided the day we received Christ into our lives as LORD and Savior. We have the Spirit as our deposit of salvation and all that goes with it:

13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14

The second thing we need to know is that we are NOT on the same level as God. We are made in His image, but He is still King of the universe and we are not. He is the creator and we are His creations. Paul reminds us in Romans 9:20 of this, “But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” which is actually a quote from Isaiah 45:9.

So, what IS a healthy fear of the LORD? It’s a BALANCE of remembering who He is and what He as done for us and promised us. NOTE: The more we find out about God, the greater we trust Him. This reason ALONE is motivation to read our Bibles!

The best passage to see this balance is Psalm 8, which says:

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?[c]

You have made them[d] a little lower than the angels[e]
    and crowned them[f] with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their[g] feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

  1. Notice that God is recognized as LORD, King of the universe.
  2. He is omnipotent (all-powerful) against His enemies using even infants and children!
  3. David is awed by the works of God’s hands as he considers creation.
  4. Yet, he knows that God has exalted man above creation and directly under Him.
  5. He finishes with the same thought: You are LORD!

David lived in the awareness of God’s majesty and glory, but also His desire to intimately know His children and interact with them. We are to have that same awareness. This awareness requires us to “check our vanity and arrogance at the door” and “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” We are to Worship the Lord with gladness, and come before him with joyful songs.” 

For His children, His awesomeness is tempered by His love for His children. John describes this mindset in his letter:

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1a

All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 1 John 4:15-16

There is no fear in this love, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment [of the old mindset], and this shows that we have not fully experienced [learned] his perfect love. 19 We love each other because he loved us first. 1 John 4:18-19

And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. 1 john 4:17

Want to know complete love and have confidence as we stand before the LORD? Then in this world live like Jesus. Impossible? Absolutely–NOT! Jesus was completely dependent upon the Spirit to reveal the Father’s will, for intimate fellowship, and for power to complete His mission both daily and ultimately. WE ARE, TOO! We live each day EXACTLY like Him:

  1. Completely dependent upon the Spirit to reveal the Father’s will,
  2. Completely dependent upon the Spirit for intimate fellowship,
  3. Completely dependent upon the Spirit for power to complete our mission.

Let’s be about the Father’s business, reveling in His love and yet showing our respect for Him as our LORD and God.

Abba, may we live in the light of Your glory and grace–what a matchup! You are King of the universe, yet You made yourself nothing, emptying Yourself and taking human form (Philippians 2:6-8) so that I could be set free and reunited with You through Your Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-2, 16). You empathize with our weakness, but give us power to overcome. You even invite us to join You at Your throne and enjoy Your presence. You give us mercy and grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). LORD, I no longer fear your punishment, but I DO have a healthy respect for who You are. Be Lord of my life today. Amen.

 

Proverbs 14 4-14-20

We are all connected. There’s no way to make a decision that affects only us, which is why we need accountability. Let’s look at three verses from today’s chapter:

6 The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.

When we look within ourselves for wisdom and understanding, we find that pleasing ourselves is meaningless once we get past the momentary; “to what end?” we ask (Solomon wrote a whole book on this subject: Ecclesiastes). Also, our vain attempts to understand the times get swept away by the next wave of new circumstances. It’s time to look up and ask our heavenly Father what is going on! Just know this: He is NOT accountable to us, but us to Him. He doesn’t have to explain Himself or His actions. In fact, He is looking for those whose hearts are set on trusting Him regardless of what happens. 2 Chronicles 16:9a

In 2 Chronicles 14, we learn that Asa king of Judah loved the LORD and served him all his life. He had grown up in a home that was very godless, yet somehow came out faithful. If we don’t think that our actions affect other people, watch this:

  • Solomon was the son of David and Bathsheba. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. They drew his heart away from the LORD.
  • His son, Rehoboam, was Solomon’s successor. His mother was Naamah, an Ammonite (1 Kings 14:33). She was an idol worshiper and raised her son to worship idols, as well.
  • His son, Abijah, was just like his dad and committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been.” (1 Kings 15:3) His mother was an idol worshiper and taught him to do the same.
  • Which brings us to his son, Asa, who somehow got good training and loved the LORD all his life (1 Kings 15:14). He even deposed his grandmother from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. (v13)
  • Asa raised a son to love the LORD. “The LORD was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the ways of his father [and his forefather] David before him.” (2 Chronicles 17:3). “His heart was devoted to the ways of the LORD; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah.” (v6). He even appointed priests to go through the towns of Judah and teach God’s Word: “They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the LORD; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people.” (v9).

That’s as far as I have gotten in my reading of the kings of Judah and Israel. We’ve heard the phrase, “No man is an island,” by Jon Donne, but did you know that Paul said something very similar? Romans 14:7. What we do and believe affects those around us, especially those in our care, like our family.

15 The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.

God designed us to think. We are made in His image. Our first thought must be to realize that we don’t know the answer because we don’t have all the information. We were ALWAYS meant to be connected to Him for background information, foresight, and guidance. SIN cut us off from the MAIN SERVER, so to speak. Our connection now is with the Holy Spirit. The more we lean on Him for advice, the better off we will be.

22 Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.

We reap what we sow Galatians 6:7-10 . I pray that you will intentionally plan to love the LORD and serve Him, and to encourage those around you to do the same. Revival is all about us being motivated by our love for God to quit doing wrong things and to start doing right things AS WE WALK IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT. Again, we were never intended to make decisions on our own, but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s seek Him today. Let’s talk with Him and ask His opinion on everything. You will find that His will is good, pleasing and perfect Romans 12:2

Abba, may I take my own advice and seek Your face today for all the answers to my questions, even if the answer is, “That’s not for you to know; just trust Me.” I AM trusting You, Father, and I am looking forward to seeing Your glory displayed through the circumstances of life, especially MY life. May I be discerning of Your voice so that knowledge comes easily to me, LORD. I’m listening and watching. Amen.

Proverbs 14 3-14-20

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.” Bryan Gilbert

14 The faithless [those who act in unbelief] will be fully repaid for their ways,
    and the good rewarded for theirs.

Even though they claim to have Christ in their hearts and the Holy Spirit in their lives, most Christians still live as though they don’t. Why is that? Mostly because they have not sought the LORD on a daily basis in His Word, enjoyed His company in prayer–except for a quick one along the way, or trusted Him during the day with their decisions (any of them).

The victorious Christian life is what Jesus wants for us. What most people settle for is wandering in the desert. God still provides for our basic needs (just as He did for the Israelites during the Exodus), but He wants SO MUCH MORE for us, including a special relationship with Him. The whole point of the cross was to make it so we could have Him in our hearts and lives! Why settle for a distant relationship?

Jesus wanted the same close relationship with His family and hometown friends. He even went to Nazareth to minister. Here’s what happened:

54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. 

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”

58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. Matthew 13:54-57

Do we “take offense” with Him when we refuse to allow Him to lead in our lives? When we refuse to consult Him on our decisions (both big and small), when we block Him from giving us useful information, preventing us from hurting ourselves, limiting us in receiving blessings, and allowing Him to lavish us with His love and spiritual gifts–gifts? What gifts?!

1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing [gift–see James 1:17] in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

These gifts are bestowed on us AS WE GO. The Christian life is a WALK WITH CHRIST. He said, “Follow Me;” that intimates a walk. We are told to keep in step with Him (Gal. 5:25). The ironic part of it all is that in order to walk closely to Him, we must sit at His feet regularly, like Mary in Luke 10:39, “She [Martha] had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.”

Let’s determine today that we will sit at Jesus’ feet so that we can follow Him closely as we go through our day and keep in step with Him.

Abba, You have SO MUCH to share with me. You even said as much in the upper room (implied in John 14:30). Now, with the Holy Spirit within me, You reveal as much as I will allow–or can take in! Keep it coming, LORD. I want to know all I can about You, Your Plan, and to be useful in Your kingdom both here on this earth now and when You come. Bring REVIVAL, LORD Jesus! Amen.

Proverbs 14 2-14-20

Jokes that mention the reproductive parts of the body are off-limits for Christians: They conjure up mental images.

This Valentines, we may be tempted to read and/or pass along jokes that get a little personal. As Christians who show Christ to the world, we must not take part in such activities. Here is why:

The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways,
    but the folly of fools is deception.

We are giving thought to our ways. Those who say, “I don’t see anything wrong with it,” are not seeing it from God’s perspective and will be deceived. What IS God’s perspective on such matters? Let’s take a look:

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

There are several great lessons to learn from this passage, but we will focus on one, and that is what Christ did when presented with a woman who was likely in a compromised position and, possibly, attire. He redirected His focus by writing in the dirt! He didn’t address the woman again until they were “alone” (His disciples were with Him). Even then, His attention was on her spiritual condition.

We, too, must learn to redirect our attention when confronted with jokes, stories, movies, etc. that call unseemly attention to sexual anatomy and functions. Let us be prudent and “give thought to our ways.” Today is a great day to begin–again! We are never too old to learn new spiritual habits.

Abba, thank You for teaching me this lesson when I was younger (34ish) albeit in a rather rude awakening. I wish I had learned it through teaching rather than through an awkward experience. Oh well; the point is that I learned it! Help me keep my mind where it should be, which is on whatever You are doing, LORD. Happy Valentine’s Day to YOU, Abba. Thank You for loving me. Amen.

Proverbs 14 1-14-20

Watch your language! It reveals what you are thinking. It exposes attitudes that may not be godly. Is godliness your goal? If not, why not?

3 A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them.

7 Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips.

Have you ever noticed that slang language refers to body parts and functions, many of them sexual in nature? We draw mental pictures with the words we use. The Hebrew language, the Chinese language, and other early civilizations use pictographs as letters. The pictographs are 3D in nature. The Hebrew language has a picture and a number associated with each letter of each word. In the Chinese language, each pictograph tells a story even as they spell a word. In the same way, when we use a specific word that refers to a body part or function, we call up a mental picture in the minds of our listeners.

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion. Prov. 11:22

What is referred to as “potty mouth” is language that speaks of body functions concerning excrement and other functions that go in a potty. Is that the image you want to call up in the minds of those who are listening? Your spouse? Your children? Your boss? Your LORD?

The apostle Paul gives a pretty strong charge for us to watch our language:

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [by what you say], with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:29-30

4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:4

The greatest offense is using words that have a sexual connotation or draw attention to sexual body parts. It’s just not a godly thing to do. As a biblical reference, let’s look at John 8 where the religious leaders dragged before Jesus a woman who was caught in adultery. What did Jesus do? He bent down and wrote in the sand.  He didn’t look at her or address her until her accusers had left. Was He ignoring her? Not at all. He was honoring her by not looking upon her while the topic was being discussed. He avoided even the possibility of Him being accused of anything inappropriate. But, it wasn’t about Him; it was about her. She was His creation, His child, and He cared for her. She was valuable to Him, and He treated her so.

Let’s treat our loved ones the same way by watching what we say and how we say it. Let’s find different ways to express ourselves that don’t call attention to body parts or anything with a sexual connotation. Is our language a point of salvation? No, but it does have quite a lot to do with our sanctification (becoming like Jesus).

Abba, You have dealt with me on this subject several times as You called me from one level to another in my walk with You. Right now, You are working on my “response” to people when under pressure. Help me to respond as You would, O LORD. May I always convey my love and Your love with my words and facial expressions. I feel like I’m asking the impossible, but I’m counting on You to do the impossible for me. I thank You in advance. Amen.

 

Proverbs 14 12-14-19

Have you been reading Proverbs? any of God’s Word? No Christian should be THAT busy! It is better for you to reorder your priorities with His guidance than to wait for Him to do it for you…!

The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.

Today we study why we don’t get saved by works. The reason we don’t get saved by works is the same reason that the Israelites didn’t get saved by following the Law. If we could do it ourselves, then Christ did not need to come.

21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! Galatians 2:21

Paul gives a great explanation in Romans 9. Let’s look:

30 So, what are we to say? This: that Gentiles, even though they were not striving for righteousness, have obtained righteousness; but it is a righteousness grounded in trusting! 31 However, Isra’el, even though they kept pursuing a Torah [the law] that offers righteousness, did not reach what the Torah [the law] offers. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue righteousness as being grounded in trusting but as if it were grounded in doing legalistic works [the scoffer-they could do it themselves]. They stumbled over the stone that makes people stumble.[Isaiah 8:14] 33 As the Tanakh puts it [as it is written],

“Look, I am laying in Tziyon [Zion/Jerusalem]
a stone that will make people stumble,
a rock that will trip them up.
But he who rests his trust on it
will not be humiliated.”[Isaiah 28:16]

 

Satan would have us believe that we can be like God[Genesis 3:3-4]–we only have to do certain things to satisfy Him. There are so many things wrong with this perception!

  1. We are already like God! We have been made in His image. The problem is that because of sin, our relationship with Him is broken. We are in the enemy’s camp!
  2. Doing certain things to “appease the gods” is the way of every religion in history. It sounds like the Sinai Covenant, but there is a difference: The Sinai Covenant was not designed to appease God, but to cover our sin until the Messiah came to take away our sin.
  3. There is nothing we can DO to please God on our own. It’s like trying to clean ourselves up while standing waist deep in a tar pit. “Doing it ourselves” is what got us in this mess in the first place! Had Eve trusted God instead of believing Satan, our history would be an entirely different story.

Proverbs 14 has another verse that is pertinent to our discussion:

27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.

This fear of Adonai [the LORD God] entails trust, just like a son with his father. The fear comes from knowing just who God is and what He’s about. It’s more an awe factor than a fear factor. We don’t fear what God will do to us as long as we trust in Him and follow Him. In fact, it’s not what God will do to us, but what happens to us when we wander away from His side! Sin destroys us. It’s why God hates it so. He wants to guide us around Satan’s snares that lead to destruction.

Today, let us trust Him by spending time with Him in His Word, giving our lives over to Him again today, and choosing this day to serve Him and no other. If we do trust Him consistently, our world will change: Our priorities, what we consider fun, our countenance, our knowledge base–everything!

Abba, I choose to trust you today. I trusted You yesterday and You were faithful beyond expectation! I trust You today because “You have the words of eternal life.” [John 6:68] Help me to stay focused on You as I go about my tasks. Guide me, O LORD, according to Your Spirit. Amen.

Proverbs 14 11-14-19

Our own attitude gets in the way of us hearing God. We must create the right frame of mind in order to hear Him.

6 The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge come easily to the discerning.

Think about it: Why would we not hear from God?

  1. We don’t want to. If we hear from God, He will expect something from us.
  2. We can’t. We don’t know what His voice sounds like and we cannot discern it.
  3. We hear it, but ignore it because He isn’t telling us what we want to hear.
  4. We have never taken the time to learn His language.

If knowledge comes easily to the discerning, then how do we become discerning?

  1. We need to figure out what we want. Do we want to hear from God? If so, are we willing to receive what He tells us and to do whatever He says?
  2. We need to find out what His voice sounds like, and we need to figure out why we can’t hear it. Is there something or someone in our lives that is blocking the signal? Lifestyle will do that; so will hidden sin. Wrong relationships will mute His voice, too. What’s funny is we KNOW what is blocking His voice, but we are unwilling to do anything about it.
  3. If we hear His voice, will we obey it? The works of God display–and fairly shout–His existence, which, in turn, requires our attention. The Spirit of God comes to us and invites us to join Him. Jesus is building His kingdom, which is the Church, and He wants us to not only be a part, but to help Him build it. Are we willing?
  4. It’s difficult to understand what the Spirit wants if we haven’t taken the time to learn His vocabulary, what He likes and dislikes, and what He is likely to say and what He will never say. All of these traits come from reading His Word.

Let’s pull some verses out of Ephesians 4 and 5.

5:18 Do not get drunk on wine [or anything that fogs your brain], which leads to debauchery [making ungodly decisions concerning pleasure]. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

How do we get filled with the Spirit? We sing to God His own words and our own prayers.

5:19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We sing to remember; we sing to instill His truths in our hearts; we sing to re-align ourselves with Him; we sing to ward off the enemy, the devil.

10 Find out what pleases the Lord.

What DOES please the Lord? When His children live in unity of the Spirit and harmony.

Psalm 133

How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity!

It is like precious oil poured on the head,
    running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
    down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
    were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
    even life forevermore. 

 

King David knew how unity makes every get-together, every family, and every kingdom run more smoothly. Unity requires everyone to practice Jesus’ Platinum Rule: “Love one another just as I have loved you.” John 13:34. We must “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in all things consider others better than [before] ourselves. Phil. 2:3. We must also “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” We are to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Eph. 4:2-3. In everything, we are to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love [which means sacrifice], just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Eph. 4:32-5:2

Want to know what God is saying? Read these verses every morning and implement them. You will hear His voice soon enough–and feel His good pleasure!

Abba, may I take my own advice and commit these verses to memory so that I can implement them everyday. Hearing Your voice, O Lord, is what makes each day bearable and worth living. Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus, speak that my soul may hear. I’m listening. Amen.

Proverbs 14 10-14-19

“Live once, die twice. Live twice, die once.” – Ken Ham

12 There is a way that appears to be right,
    but in the end it leads to death.

The way that leads to death is our own way. It’s the way of our own choosing with no regard for God, His sacrifice for us, or His way of salvation. To live only once is to live without ever being born again. When a person dies in this condition, he is condemned–by his own inaction or defiance–to the second death, the lake of fire, which wasn’t even created for humans (see Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 20:14)!

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. John 3:3, 5-6

15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15

The decision is not up to the Father, but up to each individual. Jesus said that there is only one unforgivable sin, and that is the denial of the Holy Spirit unto salvation.

31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Since it is the Spirit who is Jesus in us, by Whom we are sealed unto the day of salvation, our Deposit, our Guide, and our Taste of what is to come, it makes sense that a person who denies the Spirit entry into their lives cannot be born again and therefore cannot be saved. It is the entry of the Holy Spirit that gives us salvation. Jesus said, “Spirit gives birth to spirit.” A person lives twice through rebirth by the Spirit.

Jesus tells us in His letter to the church in Smyrna that a person who is born again cannot be hurt by the second death:

11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.

Ken was correct: Those who are born once die twice, but those who are born again in Christ Jesus through His Spirit die only once. The question is, where are YOU in the process?

Abba, I pray for all who read this blog that they would examine their hearts and give their lives to You, O Lord. May they be born again in Your Spirit as You come and reign in their hearts. I know that walking with You wipes away the fear of dying because I do not have to fear the second death. When I die, I get to be with You forever! Thank You for calling me to walk with You early in my life. It has been grand!!! I pray I will be faithful to You until the day You call me home. Amen.

Proverbs 14 9-14-19

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Our journey’s end is the throne of God. Remember that.

(18) The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

I wonder if life is not like driving a car. If we don’t keep our eyes on the road, we can end up in a ditch or take a wrong turn. Have you ever been adjusting the radio and found that you have drifted to the shoulder of the road? It’s even worse with cell phones!

In this verse, the simple got what was coming to them–and they didn’t have to do anything! They simply “lived.”

The prudent were intentional about what was going on around them. They read; they listened; they applied what they learned. They were crowned with knowledge. This knowledge is of God, about God and His plan for the human race, individually and collectively.

Individually- The Holy Spirit lives in each of God’s children and is raising us up to be like Christ and to eventually be WITH Christ.

Collectively- Jesus Christ will one day step out of heaven and come back to earth to rule. The events leading up to His Return are becoming more evident by the day!

In Matthew 11:12, we find a cryptic verse, “And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.” Prophesying was bad enough to get you killed, or at least, persecuted. Announcing the fulfillment of prophecy is what John the Baptist endured as well as Jesus.

If we look at the Christian news, we find that the Muslims are coming to Christ by the thousands as Christ is coming to them in dreams and visions. The world stage is being set for a one-world currency, a global market, and eventually, a global leader and religion. I believe that there are many in our nation’s leadership that would push us toward this eventuality. Only The Restrainer holds them back (2 Thess. 2:7). The Restrainer, who is the Holy Spirit, resides in each of us. If we are taken away, then so is the Spirit. Does this mean that people can’t be saved if the Rapture comes before Christ returns? No. It means that God will raise up an army of evangelists– 144,000 to be exact (Rev. 7:1-8, 9:4) to continue to build His church during the Very Last Days (Rev. 11:13, 12:11).

Let’s quit fiddling with the radio and focus on our driving. Let’s learn all we can according to the Word of God. Let’s do some research and see what God is doing in other countries, especially Israel. She is still God’s chosen people. The Sinai Covenant was fulfilled by Jesus, but the Covenant to Abraham will not be fulfilled until King David returns with Christ to sit on the throne of Israel. Ezekiel shared with us:

18 “When your people ask you, ‘Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ 19 say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’ 20 Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on 21 and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land [This pilgrimage has been going on since 1867 and climaxed in 1948 with the rebirth of the nation of Israel]. 22I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. [We are still looking for this prophecy to be fulfilled.]

24 “‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees.25 They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever.26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’” Revelation 21 and 22 describe the joining of Heaven and earth with God’s throne among the people. It will be amazing!!!

Abba, I can hardly wait to see how Your Plan will unfold. Will You come, Lord Jesus, during my lifetime? What an amazing realization that You may! If not, then I will get to watch from the other side and come back with You as You establish Your eternal reign on earth. Exciting times, Lord. May I keep the main thing–Your Plan– the main thing in my life. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.