Proverbs 15 10-15-21

We must choose our words wisely because life is a journey along which we learn new things. Our views change as we go.

5 A fool spurns a parent’s [teacher’s, mentor’s] discipline [wisdom, guidance, knowledge], but whoever heeds correction [new truth, expanded wisdom] shows prudence.

I am currently reading through 1 Corinthians (you’ve probably noticed). Yesterday, I read 8:2-3, which says,

Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.

Verse 2 reminds me that I don’t know everything, and I won’t know everything in this lifetime (probably not in heaven, either). The all-knowing God that lives in our hearts wants to guide us into all truth (John 16:13), so as we walk with Him, we must remember that others are on a journey with Him, too, and that we all are in different places in that walk. Some of what we have been taught must be passed down to the next generation; some of what we have been taught needs to be discarded and replaced with new truth that the Spirit gives. How do we know the difference?

  1. We study the words of Christ and those whom He chose to lead the movement. These people would be, according to 1 Corinthians 15:5-7, Peter, John, James, and Paul. We also trust Jude’s letter (he was Jesus’ half brother and James’ full brother), and Luke’s Gospel because it is based upon the disciples’ (many) testimonies. If you’re wondering about Mark, he was dictating Peter’s memoirs.
  2. We get confirmation from the Spirit in our hearts. We are at peace and we are in a state of humility. Any time we get arrogant about what we know, we are in the flesh. Trust me–it’s easy to do!
  3. We get confirmation from other Christians; many times it is outside of our regular sources.
  4. Time. If what we have learned is true, then it will stand the test of time.
  5. We’ll never know everything. Get used to it.

Verse 3 is a great verse to grasp onto and hold on! It’s the key to our lives in Christ. Isn’t it wonderful?!

There is another translation of these verses (a case in point that we are in process):

Those that think they have knowledge do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves truly knows.

What can we draw from this other translation?

  1. We have incomplete knowledge. We each hold one piece of a BIG puzzle. It fits in with others. It takes all of us.
  2. The key to knowledge is LOVE. To really learn what Christ intended on any given point is to view it from the viewpoint of LOVE.

At this point, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 comes into play,

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

So, as we all process new information from the Spirit, let’s show grace to to each other. It’s important. There are only two points that are fellowship-breakers:

  1. Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 9:20).
  2. Jesus is the Messiah (Acts 9:22). Of course, this one includes His life, death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Our best attitude is that of Paul’s as he finishes his discourse on knowing Jesus, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, and pressing on for the prize awaiting us,

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Philippians 3:15-16

Peace…Peace…Peace…

Abba, You are our Head and we are Your Body. May we always remember that You are the brains and we are Your muscle. May we always take our directions from You, and remain teachable and loveable. Amen.

Proverbs 15 9-15-21

The speaker continues, “And, you may rightfully ask, what about me?” The aristocrat continues…

3 The eyes of the LORD are everywhere… 8…the prayer of the upright pleases Him. 9…He loves those who pursue righteousness. 26…gracious words are pure in His sight. 29…He hears the prayer of the righteous.

As we continue with the sermon preached in, Heathersleigh Homecoming, by Michael Phillips, let me tell you more about the pastor who is reading the sermon. It is the funeral for the writer of that sermon who died at sea during WWI. The deceased writer’s estranged daughter was sitting on the steps outside the church listening to the sermon, not knowing that it was her late father’s words! Let’s read some more:

“What about one who has given his professional life to combating the evils of our society through government? That is why, as I said, there was a time when I had to ask these questions first and foremost to myself. And as I asked them, I had to face at length the primary question: What is the calling to which we should aspire if it is not to rid the world of evil? Many would consider this the highest calling of man—especially politicians—to rid the world of wrong. But I say no. I say it is elsewhere we must look for the summum bonum, the highest thing of life.

Where then? What is the highest of life’s ambitions, that worthiest goal to which the human creature may strive? Intimacy, my friends, a personal and daily walk of trust and reliance upon God our Father, and with His Son Jesus, our Savior. That is the highest thing.

I speak not only to the so-called sinners among you, but to you, Christian man, to you, good believing woman, to you, young person raised and trained in a gospel-believing church, to you, good citizen who have dedicated your life to worthy causes and to the elimination of inequality and injustice and evil in our society. I speak to you as well as to the thief and adulterer and murderer—and I say to you, Your Father desires to live with you in intimacy. And because for years I did not know this intimacy either, I speak to myself.

Salvation may be all that is required for entrance into the heavenly kingdom, but alone it will not produce the abundant, fruitful life Jesus came to reveal to His brothers and sisters. The Son of God came that we might walk in close fellowship with His Father. Such He became a man for. Such He died for.

He did not die on the cross only to save us from our sins, though of course He did do that. He died on the cross also that we might be drawn into and thus share in the relationship He had with His Father—that we might too become fully sons and daughters of God.

Yet that intimacy between God and His sons and daughters, is not easy to come by. Indeed, it is far easier to fall on one’s knees in remorse for a life of evil, and pray a prayer of salvation for one’s sins—this is far easier, I say, than to lay down what must be sacrificed in order to enter into intimacy with the Father.

What is it that prevents this intimacy? What is this most difficult sacrifice I speak of?”

Oswald Chambers said, “Never allow anything to divert you from your insight into Jesus Christ. It is the true test of whether you are spiritual or not. To be unspiritual means that other things have a growing fascination for you. ‘Since mine eyes have looked on Jesus, I’ve lost sight of all beside, So enchained my spirit’s vision, Gazing on the Crucified.’”

Another aspect is to never substitute knowledge of facts for first-hand knowledge of the person. Knowing Jesus personally is far greater than what we know about Jesus or what we do for Jesus. Spend time with Him right now. He is waiting.

Abba, even though You walk with us and never leave us, there are times that You want us to stop and have a private conversation with You, a time when all of our focus is on You. I have come to crave these moments with You in solitude. I pray; I read Your Word; I listen, and I study. You are constantly leading me into truth. Sometimes, I can’t write fast enough! Other times, I simply sit and enjoy Your presence and Your peace. May I always protect this time with You, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 15 8-15-21

“See if there is any offensive way in me” may be the best way for us to begin our day with the Lord. Try it!

5 A fool spurns a parent’s [the heavenly Father’s] discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.

The beginning phrase was written by King David at a time when he was close to God, reading and following the law (it was a king’s duty to read the law every day; he even had his own copy of it. See Deuteronomy 17:18*), and worshiping daily (actually, twice daily: the morning and evening sacrifices. See Exodus 29:38-39 and Numbers 28:3-4). The word, “offensive,” is not about wickedness (having no regard for God); it’s about what is left in our hearts once we have cleaned it out of everything we think ought to go. His love and presence, His mercy and grace, and His righteousness have filled us, covered us, and cleansed us. Yet, our natural tendencies are still there. Jesus wants everything–even what we consider the little things and the sentimental things.

So, every morning, we trade our lives for His life. We can do this trade very specifically:

  • My will for Your will;
  • My ways for Your ways;
  • My thoughts for Your thoughts;
  • My speech for Your speech;
  • My anger for Your grace and gentleness and mercy;
  • My self-righteousness for Your righteousness and holiness;
  • My controlling spirit for Your guiding Spirit;
  • My lustful thoughts for Your gracious thoughts;
  • My _____________________ for Your ________________________ (you can fill in the blanks).

These are the “offensive ways” that we need to give to God. He needs to become our sole sufficiency. We need to be clothed with Him and filled with Him. His Spirit is asking to lead the way in our lives. It is this devotion that attracts the people around us to the Christ in us: our spouse, our family, friends, coworkers, and more.

Let’s look at the entire passage from Psalm 139:

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

I have a note on one of my notecards that says something like, “and once You have helped me identify an offensive way, help me eliminate it by leading me in the way everlasting.” The promise is found in Matthew 11:28-30,

28 Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens.” Living Bible

Why? Because He loves us so very much. My mom had a little crocheted picture of Jesus looking down His arm at me as He hung on the cross. The message under it read, “I asked Jesus how much He loved me. He said, ‘I love you this much…’ and he stretched out His arms–and died.” He died for us; can’t we live for Him? (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

Abba, thank You for loving me. Thank You for being so patient with me. Thank You for helping me with the offensive ways in my life. I want to be just like You, Jesus. I know I will be when I get to Glory; in the meantime, give me patience with myself as I strive to live righteously. Today, I worship with my brothers and sisters. Inhabit the praises of Your people, O Lord. Amen.

*18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel. Deuteronomy 17:18

Proverbs 15 7-15-21

Most of us have been tested for Covid19 at some time. How have you done on the TRUE Covid19 test?

14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.

The TRUE Covid19 test has to do with what you did with your time during the quarantine. It is like the parable of the servants and their bags of gold to which they were entrusted. The first two invested theirs and doubled their money; good job! The third one buried his and gave it back as it was. The master was not pleased. Which one are you?

During Covid19, when everything was shut down and restricted, did you:

  1. …maintain your daily walk with the Lord?
  2. …increase your time daily with Him in prayer and study?
  3. …read books, articles, blogs and/or other materials to stretch and grow you spiritually?
  4. …listen/watch sermons and other videos or broadcasts to learn about the Bible and science, history, archeology, eschatology, etc?
  5. …reach out by phone, email, or text to other Christians? Unbelievers?
  6. …encourage and help those in your own household?
  7. …feel stronger in your walk because of the Covid19 experience?

We can’t get the time back, but we can still put these questions to work for us. It will just be a little harder since our lives have somewhat returned to normal. Who knows? We may get another chance this next cold season!

Abba, You use everything in our lives to point to You when we listen and perceive with spiritual eyes. May Your Spirit continue to open our minds and hearts to Your heart’s desire, which is to have sweet, intimate fellowship with us. It’s why You came to live in our hearts! We love You; help us to act in that love. Amen.

Proverbs 15 6-15-21

We are never stronger than when we can’t do anything about a situation. Not our will; His will. Not our strength; His strength.

3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9

God knows all that is going on and He makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). The problem is that He thinks in eternal terms and we don’t. We expect Him to work things out on this side of eternity–during our lifetime, even in the next 24 hours! What we fail to take into consideration is that God has much bigger and greater plans than the things that happen to us in this life. In fact, all the bad stuff that happens to us, He uses to increase our godly character. I don’t exactly know what the payoff is on the other side, but I figure that it’s pretty big. Learning through suffering is not for the faint of heart. Come to think of it, neither is growing old!

Paul had more than his fair share of suffering. Here’s a list:

23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? 2 Corinthians 11:23-29

Not only that, he had chronic eye problems. We know this because of his ailment at the church in Galatia and by his signature at the end of his letters.

13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, 14 and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15 Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to meGalatians 4:13-15

11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! Galatians 6:11

There is speculation that Paul had problems stemming from the scales that fell from his eyes when he was saved (Acts 9:18). It has also been speculated that Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was his poor eyesight and chronic eye problems (2 Corinthians 12:7). Whatever the case, Paul had problems. How did Paul deal with these problems? Let’s read the next verses:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Paul had learned from the Lord that as long as Paul stayed in the center of His will, he would receive everything he needed to accomplish that will. Eventually, Paul testified to Caesar (Nero) and was then beheaded by him. Paul was willing to do God’s will in testifying even at the cost of his own life. Read it for yourself:

2Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ Acts 27:23-24

We know from history that Nero had Paul beheaded. Paul understood that God’s Plan is much larger than just this life. He was confident that the Lord would provide everything he needed when he needed it. When we act out of our own strength, how is God glorified in that? It’s when we reach the end of our strength that God finally gets the glory. How about we go there first and not try to do things in our own strength and understanding? If we can learn to not act out of our own knowledge, then we will finally understand Paul’s position:

12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength [when I need it, to accomplish His will]. Philippians 4:12-13

Abba, May we all learn this valuable lesson. Rather than doing 90% and leaving You 10% for Your glory, I want to learn at 10% to let You have it so that You will receive the 90%. Not only will You receive much more glory, but You will do things in ways that I can’t even imagine! Keep teaching us, Lord. Keep giving us opportunities to practice and hone our faith. You have not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). May we learn to trust You in all things. Amen.

Proverbs 15 5-15-21

Spiritually dead people cannot live good lives. They need life. Jesus is life.

In my May 1 Proverbs, I made this statement, “Technically, we don’t have to ask Jesus to forgive our sin.” A friend of mine helped me see that it needs some explaining. Yes, Jesus died for our sin. Our sins are dismissed forever and we no longer need to make the payment for our sin personally, but there is still a transaction that needs to take place. Application must be made. We accept the sacrifice of Jesus and ask Him to apply His blood to our lives. Over these next two days, we will look at what Christ did for us and the process of salvation.

7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge [personal, intimate knowledge of Him]; not so the hearts of fools [we were once all fools]. 8 The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked [we cannot be right with God our way–“our way” is a form of rebellion], but the prayer of the upright is His delight [we need the right sacrifice: Jesus].

Enter Jesus. He is the atoning sacrifice for all sin.

12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. Hebrews 9:12

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 7:24-25

Sacrifices used to cover our sin; Jesus came to forgive our sin and to remove it. Originally, sin had a stinger, which is death (1 Corinthians 15:56). Jesus removed the stinger (Romans 4:15, 8:37, 1 Corinthians 15:57).

Salvation is surrendering our lives to Jesus when He gives us His life. He describes it as removing our hearts of stone (dead in our sins) and giving us hearts of flesh, living hearts–His heart (Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26-27)! When His Spirit takes up residence in our lives, HE IS our living heart. The blood of His sacrifice is applied to us and we receive His forgiveness, His pardon. The stain of sin is removed; the desire to sin is still there, but it is trumped by our new desire to please the Father (more on this tomorrow).

Our lives are now banners that give testimony to the wonderful salvation we have received in Christ. As we live our lives, the Lord will connect us with those in whom He is working. We look for conviction of sin and a contrite heart, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Psalm 51:17. We share the difference that Christ has made in our lives since we surrendered to Him in the hope that they will surrender their lives to Jesus, too.

Tomorrow, we look at Jesus being lifted up and why it is so important to look to Him.

Abba, I would love to present You to people as a new and improved version of life, but that’s not the truth. They have to come to terms with the fact that they are separated from You. They are cut off from the True Vine and are dead. They need life. You offer life through Your Son, Jesus. This new life comes only through Him, which is why I am constantly aware of my own need for Christ and to follow closely to Him. Jesus, You are my life; I feel most alive when I allow You to lead me, when I am obedient, when I am praising You, and when I turn to You from sinful thoughts and desires. It’s not all joy and peace, but it IS resolve: I feel You giving me what I need in each circumstance to be true to You and to be obedient. I rest in Your grace and in the fact that I am alive in You and no one can change my POSITION in You. Keep turning the diamond, Lord, so that I can see more and more facets of Your wonderful grace. Amen.

Proverbs 15 4-15-21

The LORD seeks our devotion. Let’s run a check on our lives; are we devoted to Him in every area? Let’s get that way!

“8 the LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases Him.

As far back as the Garden of Eden, God has wanted our devotion. What does being devoted to Him entail? Devotion- profound dedication, earnest attachment. Adam and Eve had that devotion, but it was untested. When it was tested, they failed. Let’s read the account:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
Genesis 3:6-10

Granted, Eve was deceived by Satan. What it boils down to, though, is that she doubted God’s instruction and promise (Genesis 2:16-17, 3:2-3). How about us? Do we ever doubt God’s instruction and promise?

The fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil had a lasting effect upon Adam and Eve. Whether it was because they had sinned and had lost the shekinah glory (covering) of God or because they were now aware of their bodies (sexually), they realized that they were naked. I tend to think of it like this: Because they were now aware of their bodies, they realized that they had lost their shekinah glory (covering). Because they were naked, they were afraid to stand in God’s presence. They knew He was going to come to walk with them, so they tried to cover themselves with fig leaves (3:7) and hid (3:8).

Notice that God came to them, anyway. He even called out looking for them. Did He really not know where they were or what they had done? He was prompting them to come before Him and confess to Him what He already knew. He looks for us when we hide from Him. It is always better to turn to Him quickly and confess so that He can give us everything we need to have victory and make reparations. We may think that God did not take care of Adam and Eve that way, but let’s look:

  1. Christ died before Adam and Eve were created (Genesis 3:15, Revelation 13:8).
  2. He provided clothing for them (Genesis 3:21).
  3. He banished them from the Garden, which was an eternal place, so that they would die–we all need to die in order to be free from these corruptible/perishable bodies (1 Corinthians 15:53-54).

God takes care of us that way, too. Even in our sin, He plops Himself down right in the middle of us! He did it when the Israelites left Egypt (He had them construct a tent and He dwelt in it–kind of), He did it when He went to Matthew’s house and Zacchaeus’ house, and He did it with us in our lives. The entire Bible is God’s love letter to us telling us of His faithfulness and lovingkindness. Let’s wrap His words around us today.

From Psalm 119:97-104,

97 Oh, how I love your law [that which keeps us safe]! I meditate on it all day long. 98 Your commands are always with me and make me wise than my enemies. 102 I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are your words to my taste [soul], sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Abba, may we take great courage and comfort today in Your commands and promises. May we take the time to read them and learn them, for they are our strength, our mighty fortress into which we run. Amen.

Proverbs 15 3-15-21

Learning how to listen is imperative to hearing correctly. Studying our bibles is how we learn to listen.

14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.

Folly is continuing to eat “junk food” instead of that which is good for you–even worse, eating poison! The teachers of the law taught each other and therefore fed each other lies. Jesus came to bring true knowledge; they missed Him, but the disciples of John the Baptist did not, who came seeking answers. Jesus spoke plainly and clearly to them.

14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”

15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:14-17

In order to understand what Jesus meant by Bridegroom, we must first understand the Jewish perspective of God’s relationship with His people.For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is His name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth” Isaiah 54:5. They saw God as their Husband and themselves as His bride. When Jesus said that He was the bridegroom, He was representing God. Every Jew would know this phraseology. He answered them with logic from their own lives: Fasting doesn’t happen at a wedding feast. Once the bridegroom and bride leave, then people can fast, which was part of their weekly worship regime.

Jesus then gives another illustration about patches. This one is pretty straightforward. A patch of unshrunk cloth will tear the old garment the first time the garment is washed with the new patch on it. To do so would make the tear or hole worse than before it was patched. Along with this illustration are the wineskins. To put new wine in an old (unstretchable) wineskin would burst the skin and waste the wine. The inference here is that the old wineskin (the covenant of Moses) was not flexible enough nor big enough to hold the new wine (the kingdom of heaven that Jesus was bringing). Jesus was creating a new wineskin (fertile hearts) for the new wine (the Holy Spirit). The old sacrificial system would be obsolete when Jesus died on the cross.

At one point, when John was in prison (his ministry being complete), Jesus once again addressed his disciples:

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Matthew 11:2-6

Jesus knew that passages from Isaiah were the best answers to give John:

say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come,
    he will come with vengeance;

with divine retribution he will come to save you.”
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
    and the mute tongue shout for joy.

Water will gush forth in the wilderness
    and streams in the desert.

Isaiah 35:4-6

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:1-3

John evidently believed Jesus because when he was beheaded, “John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus” Matthew 14:12. I am presuming that they stayed with Him from then on. Let’s not forget that Andrew and John were both disciples of John the Baptist (John 1:35-42) and probably knew most of them. Also, they would take John’s word about the testimony of Jesus.

In order to think Jewishly, we need to know the Old Testament Scriptures. We also need to learn about Jewish customs, rituals, and feasts. Our pastor has a Jewish friend who is a follower of Jesus. They will be talking about Passover and other feasts these next two Wednesdays at 10:30 at Wednesday Morning Blessings. Look for Brookwood, OKC on YouTube (best) or for Brookwood Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, on Facebook.

Abba, what a grand time to learn about Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread as they come up in a couple of weeks. May You open our minds to the meanings behind the events, especially concerning Your fulfillment of them. May we have spiritual eyes and ears, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 15 2-15-21

Allow the Spirit to change the way you think by reading His Word and asking for comprehension and discernment. He will give it!

9 …[the LORD] loves those who pursue righteousness.
14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge…

Changing the way we think will change the way we feel. Getting ahead of our feelings is important to overcoming sin in our lives. It’s part of the guardrails mentality. When the Lord commands the way we feel through how we think, we will be done with sin.

The tension comes from 1 Peter 4:1-2,

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sinAs a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

Let’s look at the passage:

  1. Christ suffered in his body- We find in John 17:19 that Jesus intentionally sanctified Himself, meaning that He set aside the cravings of the flesh in order to achieve the Plan. He then prayed that we would do the same.
  2. Arm yourselves also with the same attitude- Through the law we understood what we needed to do, but we had no power to do it. Through the Spirit, we have been given everything we need to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3).
  3. Whoever suffers in the body is done with sin- The word, “suffers,” refers not only to pain and loss, but to struggle. We are to struggle with the cravings of the flesh to the point of pain and loss in order to overcome, which we have been promised that we would do.
  4. We live for the will of God- We see sin for what it is, a fleeting pleasure AND extremely destructive, and instead, crave the companionship of God. His love, joy, peace, hope and grace are always available.

So, where’s the tension? It’s in the verses that promise us that we will overcome.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37. This verse is in the midst of a passage about great trial and suffering even unto death.

They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Revelation 12:11. This verse is self-explanatory.

We grow best when we are in trial and tribulation. In fact, the Church grows best in struggle and tension. Just ask the Christians in China. They asked that we would not pray for persecution to cease, but that they would be strong. Why? Because they are experiencing a great awakening over there! They have seen what happens to the Church when we experience generations of relative ease concerning the Gospel (for an example of what generally happens, read Judges).

Instead of calling our times “the last days,” I prefer to view them as a continuation of what happens in societies over a period of time, and as the Lord calling us to take up our cross and follow Him. Christians throughout the ages have experienced the same circumstances and have been called to the same renewal. Let’s be THAT generation!

Abba, I know that You are calling me to step away from politics and to focus my attention and energies on evangelship (a meshing of evangelism and discipleship). May I use Your Word guided by Your Spirit to set my guardrails in place so that I am not caught up in feelings. Anything that makes me angry or afraid needs to be run through the filters of Scripture. Help me to step back and see it coming. I know it takes failure and practice, so keep encouraging me, Holy Spirit! The best is yet to come. Amen.

Proverbs 15 1-15-21

Have you ever wondered WHY things happen the way they do? Miracles, premature death, “coincidence,” suffering: His GLORY!

11 Death and Destruction [Abaddon, hell] lie open before the LORD–how much more do human hearts!

God sees things from an eternal perspective, even all of eternity (get your arms around that thought!). He uses our time on earth to “prove” us.

Prove- to subject to a test [in order to show], experiment, comparison, analysis, or the like, to determine [in order to reveal] quality, amount, acceptability, characteristics, etc.–things God already knows, but wants to REVEAL FOR OUR GOOD. Lest you think that God is all about judgment, His judgment is reserved for those who refuse His kind offer of salvation. It is His desire that ALL come to Him for cleansing and healing and a relationship with Him (2 Peter 3:9).

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open” Luke 8:17. God wants everyone to know what He knows is inside of each of us, and He knows just what to use to expose what is there. Some people He proves with power, many more with oppression; some He proves with riches, many more with poverty; some He proves with health, many more with myriad ailments; some He gives long life, many more He calls (what we would consider) prematurely. How does He decide? For that answer, we go to Proverbs 20:27,

27 The spirit [breath] of man is the lamp of the Lord,
    searching all his innermost parts.
ESV

27 The Lord looks deep inside people
    and searches through their thoughts.
NCV

God is looking for those who are faithful to Him in heart–even in our failures and sinful thoughts and actions, those who are faithful turn to Him for help, for solace, for strength, and for sustenance. They find in the midst of their struggle that they are not strong enough, not good enough, not brave enough on their own; they need a Savior, so they turn to Him. How can God receive such vile creatures who even kill Christians while they think that they are doing God a favor? Yet, He does! Don’t believe me? Let me show you some passages that will change your mind:

20 “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” John 15:20
2 “They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.” John 16:2

“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.” Acts 22:3-5

Of course, we are talking about Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus. It was on his way to Damascus that the Lord Jesus appeared to him and called him into His service (Acts 22:6-16).

As I said, God looks on the heart. We know this truth from the Lord Himself when Samuel was trying to identify the new king of Israel, which was David, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his [Eliab’s] appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” 1 Samuel 16:7.

So, whatever we go through, whatever we endure, it is God showing us what is in our hearts; it is Him revealing to us what we set in our lives as idols, but also our dire need of Him and His Spirit. This life is an obstacle course–who wants to remain on an obstacle course?! Let’s trust Him to get us through it and onto the rest of eternity, shall we?

Tomorrow: How the LORD helps us on this obstacle course.

Abba, thank You that because of the blood of Jesus You do not see my shortcomings and failures; instead, you see that which drives me to You. May I come to You and receive all the mercy and grace that is needed in my time of need (Hebrews 4:16), which happens to be ALL THE TIME. Through Jesus, You have shown Yourself to be kind and compassionate, long-suffering and gentle with all who come to You in faith. Thank You for proving my faith; when all the dross is gone, I will shine brilliantly for You, Abba! Amen.

Proverbs 15 12-15-20

Our wills tend to lean in a selfish and sinful direction. His Spirit desires to teach us His way. Separating our minds from our tongues is a great place to start.

3 “The [gentle] soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse [spiteful, flippant, arrogant, sarcastic, harsh, cruel, unloving, disrespectful, etc] tongue crushes the spirit.

I once thought that “the offensive way” in me was against Christ and what He would find in my heart. Then, it dawned on me that “the offensive way” may very well be toward others. This verse comes to mind:

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for [to] one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for [to] me.’ Matthew 25:40.

What was Jesus talking about? He said, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” These are actions taken for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and, might I add, for our POTENTIAL brothers and sisters in Christ, which covers just about everybody. How we treat others shows how much like Christ we are–or are not.

There is another aspect to “the offensive way” that we need to consider, and it is what we say. Consider what Jesus had to say about what we say,

“I tell you that men will have to answer at the day of judgment* for every careless word they utter—for it is your words that will acquit you, and your words that will condemn you.” J.B. Phillips

We know from Proverbs 12:18 that “The words of the reckless pierce [reckless words] like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Have we considered that when we pierce another’s soul, we pierce our own, as well? Jesus went on to say in Mark 7:20-23 that our mouths reveal what is in our hearts:

“Whatever comes out of a man, that is what makes a man ‘common’ or unclean. For it is from inside, from men’s hearts and minds, that evil thoughts arise—lust, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, arrogance and folly! All these evil things come from inside a man and make him unclean!”

James said, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” James 3:6

In order to control our mouths, we must first allow Christ to transform our minds. It begins with a desire to be like Christ and continues by learning how to hear and respond to the Spirit’s promptings. Where do we learn this kind of information? FROM GOD’S WORD. What kinds of things do we learn in His Word?

  1. God is love. 1 John 4:8 and 16
  2. God loved everyone in the world so much that He gave us His life for us through Jesus Christ. John 3:16
  3. It is NOT God’s desire that any should perish, but that they would come to Him to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
  4. God has wonderful, even incomprehensible things in store for us! 1 Corinthians 2:9
  5. We are overcomers because we are (re)born of God. 1 John 5:4-5

We could go on and on. Are these verses marked in your Bible? DO IT! Highlight them; underline them; write notes about them; string them together with other Scriptures; journal about them; pray them to God in thanksgiving and praise; share them with others. The more we know, the more creative we can become in sharing the Good News about Christ.

Abba, I thank You and praise You for loving me and for calling me to be one of Your children. Your Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am Your child (Romans 8:16). O, to be an overcomer of sin in my life! Thank You that in You and through You I already have the victory (1 Corinthians 15:57)! Move us and teach us, LORD, and fill us with Your power, Your love, Your joy, Your peace, and Your energy even as You direct our lives. Amen.

*Day of Judgment– We are creating the gift that we will lay at Jesus’ feet on the Day of Judgment. That gift will be the gold, silver, and precious gems of our obedience while in this life (see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). I believe that the Great Day of Judgment will be a day of sentencing for the lost and a day of ceremony for the saved. Let’s make sure that we have the best gift we can offer to our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 15 11-15-20

My prayer for you today is that you will meet with Christ in a personal way even as we meet as His church.

12 Mockers resent correction, so they avoid the wise [go to church].

11 Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD—how much more do human hearts [you might as well go to church].

Here is my prayer for you:

My dear children, I strive as in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you. (Galatians 4:19). Remember that when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are [all] sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:4-6).

With this in mind, I ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way:

1. bearing fruit in every good work,

2. growing in the knowledge of God,

3. being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,

4. and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.

We are in the kingdom of light! Let’s live a children of light (Ephesians 5:8).

Abba, May we live in the awareness of You today and every day as children of light. May Your Spirit rejoice in us and may we join Him in the everlasting praise that is going on around Your throne. Make us aware of Your kingdom, LORD, so that we become less attached to this one. Amen.

Proverbs 15 10-15-20

Just how godly do you want to be? How much like God interests you? Your answer will determine how you read this chapter.

1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Are you interested in being gentle? Jesus is gentle, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.

2 The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

Are you interested in being wise? If so, then you will learn discernment of the Spirit. Allow Him to okay what you want to say; if you feel a “check” in your spirit, then don’t say anything. In the words of my good friend, Ricky Griffin, “Think about what you’re going to say, and then don’t say it.”

4 The gentle, soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

What is your intention? Are you interested in being a peacemaker (see Matthew 5:9)? If so, then you will guard your tongue. I substitute for the word, “perverse” (which means twisted toward evil), these words: willful, contrary, unloving, disrespectful, spiteful, angry, cruel, harsh, and ungodly. I’m sure that we can add more. In fact, send me some. I’ll add them to my list.

8 The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases Him.

We could write a book expounding on this verse! Much of the Old Testament is wrapped around the Israelites’ unwillingness to give up their wicked ways, but then they would come to the temple and “worship God.” Their actions spoke much louder than their words. Ours do, too. The verse says that God detests–abhors, shuns, considers highly offensive--that kind of behavior. God is interested in a relationship with us. Our prayers and our willingness to strive to be like Him are what please Him. Are you interested in being like Him?

Let’s do one more:

26 The LORD detests (there’s that word again) the thoughts of the wicked, but gracious words are pure in His sight.

Is God gracious? Has He been gracious to you? The CROSS is the answer to that question; His love and mercy and grace are, too. The in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit is God’s most gracious act toward us. He lives inside of us, walking with us wherever we go! Let’s capitalize on His graciousness and get to know the God of the universe–and of us. We can start by allowing Him to renew our minds (Romans 12:2). He will take it from there. We need to learn to allow Him to be first in our lives. He is our LORD. Allow Him to be so. Consider these phrases:

More of Him; less of me
(John 3:30)

He is First; I am Second
(Iamsecond.com)

May we die to self and live for Christ
(Galatians 2:20)

Abba, may we all set aside our agendas and our personal desires and take up Your agenda and Your desires. We don’t even know what they are, but we trust that You will let us know as we go along. I know that reading Your Word gives me great clues and insights. Give us the desire to know You more deeply and intimately, LORD. May we choose to be just like You–as You give us the desire and the power to do so. Today, I choose to walk in step with You, LORD Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 15 9-15-20

The motto of a Christian should be, “Die to self; live for Christ.” It’s an everyday thing. Are you a disciple?

9 The LORD detests the way of the wicked, but He loves those who pursue righteousness.

Pursuing righteous means seeking the LORD in the pages of Scripture. It’s the one tangible thing that He has given us; in other words, we can hold it in our hands. We’re talking a book of books that covers 1500+ years, 40 authors, three languages, and a multitude of walks of life, yet one story from beginning to end! It’s the story of God interacting with His creation: Us. And, it’s ALIVE! (Hebrews 4:12-16– I always include 14-16 with 12-13 for the whole perspective).

The motto comes from verses in all four Gospels:

  • Matthew 10:38-39 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.* 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
  • Mark 10:29-31 and 42-45 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
  • Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate [if one must choose between Jesus and] father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own lifesuch a person cannot be my disciple.”
  • John 12:25  Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

From one moment to the next, we must learn to die to self and live for Christ. In fact, a powerful prayer is, “Father, I give all I know of myself to all I know of You today. Reveal more of myself to me even as You reveal more of Yourself to me. Tomorrow, I will pray the same.”

The Mark 10:29-30 passage, “a hundred times as much,” has always had me puzzled until recently. Then, it dawned on me (in other words, the Spirit revealed it to me) that what we give up as individuals we get 100 times back in collective family. When we give up our individual rights, possessions, and family, we become part of Christ’s family and possessions. We never get our rights back (dead people don’t have rights), but we gain heaven’s treasures (Philippians 4:19).

Is this the kind of life for which you signed up? If not, then the person who witnessed to you didn’t do his job very well. People must know what they are getting into when it comes to salvation. We give up EVERYTHING as individuals in order to gain EVERYTHING collectively as part of the Body of Christ, of which Christ is the head (Ephesians 4:15).

If it IS the life for which you signed up, or you have just decided that He is worth living for–or dying daily for, depending on how you look at it–then “Die to self; live for Christ” is the motto for us. We give all we know of ourselves to all we know of Him today. Moment by moment. “The main thing’s to keep the main thing the main thing,” which is following Jesus Christ, staying in constant contact with Him, and obeying His every command.

One more passage:

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:23-24

Easy, right? It is when we are walking in step with the Spirit.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will grab onto this motto and make it theirs everyday. Dying to self is nothing more than seeking Jesus’ will over our own. The desire You give me is the first step; the second step is my actually doing it. Both steps together create my walk with You. You keep giving me the desire, and, using Your power (Philippians 2:13), I will strive to place Your will over mine. And, thank You for Your pleasure I feel when I am right with You. I would happily die for that feeling! Yet, You give it generously!!! Thank You, Father, for adopting us. You are a good, good Father. We are Yours. Amen.

*Do you ever wonder why Jesus put these statements in the negative? I do! Maybe it was to make the statement stand out, especially if the tendency is in the other direction. He implies that to follow Him is the exception and not the rule. Let’s be “Exceptionists!”

Proverbs 15 8-15-20

Of all the things we do today, getting in touch with the LORD is paramount. It may–and should–set the tone for our entire day!

The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.

Calling on God should become second nature to His children. We pray to God in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. Not only does He hear us, we have the Holy Spirit praying for us, as well (Romans 8:26)! Let’s look at some verses that help us understand the process:

Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

This verse is known as “God’s Telephone Number.” The triple 3’s can be associated to the Trinity. It’s God’s invitation for any and all of us to join Him in a conversation. This conversation doesn’t need to end, either. It’s an open line to Him. All we have to do is access it.

John 16:23 “In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”

Jesus was directing their attention to the Father. Why would He do that?

John 16:26-27 “In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” 

The Father loves them because they believe in His Son. But, wait, there’s more:

John 16:25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.”

How does Jesus tell us plainly about the Father? THROUGH HIS SPIRIT!

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” John 15:26

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” John 16:13, 15

How is it that the Spirit knows so much about God?

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  1 Corinthians 2:10:11

It gets better:

16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16

I am not saying that there is a formula for how to pray, or a hierarchy to Whom we pray. In fact, the Trinity is so completely unified that we can pray to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit with equal confidence that our prayer will be heard and answered! His answer may be just His presence and participation in our lives, or it may include a miraculous answer. We don’t know and it’s “above our paygrade,” so we simply trust Him.

Our assignment is to link up with Jesus and spend the day with Him. You will notice that much of this post is Scripture. There’s a reason for that: IT’S HOW WE COMMUNICATE WITH HIM AND HE WITH US. Informed prayers come from informed Christians. READ HIS WORD!

Abba Father, I pray for my readers that they would make time for You today reading Your Word and addressing You with their adoration, their needs, their concerns about lost people in their lives, and enjoying Your love, joy, and peace that You are waiting to give us–in fact, they emanate from Your sheer presence! I know that when I sense Your love, feel Your joy, and rest in Your peace that I have a sense of calm and direction, and Holy Spirit, I sense Your presence; I KNOW that You are with me! There is no safer place to be nor a more substantial feeling. I look forward to it all day and again tomorrow, LORD Jesus. Thank You for living in my heart. Amen.

Proverbs 15 7-15-20

I asked the Lord for a download to quick-start eager Christians; He told me to use the one I am currently using…

14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but (the mouth of) a fool feeds on folly (his own intellect).
33 Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD [and spend time with Him], and humility comes before honor.

I am just one beggar telling another beggar where to find the Living Bread.

  1. I use 3×5 index cards; I have a set that I go through everyday and a set that I go through every week.
  2. Begin with this prayer (written on a card): “Lord, I give all I know of myself to all I know of You. I trade my ________ for Your _________ today.” Examples would be thoughts, plans, time, schedule, will, life, etc.
  3. Quote (read) Psalm 139:23-24 to God as a prayer (also on a card), Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
  4. Write these Scripture verses down on cards (verses can vary according to the Spirit); read them each day; meditate on them, pray them, and memorize them.
    1. 2 Timothy 1:7, For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” No fear; His power; His love; a calm, disciplined, and well-balanced mind that is self-controlled/Spirit-led.
    2.  Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” This is DEFINITELY a daily verse!
    3. Romans 12:1-2, And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 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.
  5. Work through Romans 12:10-21 in either the NIV or the NLV (or both, plus any other translations you want to use). This passage gives details about how we can expect to act when led by the Spirit. It’s not about following rules, but following the Spirit and living crucified lives.
  6.  Make some prayer cards with people’s names for whom you feel led to pray: family, friends, workmates, neighbors, etc. especially if they are lost.
  7. Read Proverbs (the day’s chapter) and somewhere in the New Testament, particularly 1 John, John, and Ephesians.

Sure, it’s going to take some time to develop your card system, and it’s going to take some time to get through all the material. Just remember that Jesus saved you to have a relationship with you. It is during your prayer time and Bible study that you become cognizant of His presence and character as well as His likes and dislikes. Are you really eager to do what is good? to do His will? THEN LET’S GET STARTED!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will welcome the unction of the Holy Spirit to get started. May they be eager to spend time with You because we know that spending time with You will make us more like You. Thank You for the brothers and sisters in my life that hold me accountable, that pray for me, and for the fellowship we share that can only come from Your Spirit. Bless my readers, O LORD. Speak to their hearts. Lead them along the way. Amen.

Proverbs 15 6-15-20

Some things are provided for us: Truth, Righteousness, and the Gospel. Others we must do ourselves–with His help: Faith, [knowledge of] Salvation, and the Word. The oil/lubrication that makes all these work is Prayer.

The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
    but the prayer of the upright pleases him.

God is much more interested in us having a relationship with Him than what we can do for Him. Does He really need us to do anything? It’s all designed for interaction. He invites us to join Him in what He is doing; we interact with Him during the project. We grow to be like Him and He receives glory!

The idea is to wed the two: Prayer plus Sacrifice. We interact with Him while serving Him. So, what does that look like? Let’s look at the opening statement. What is provided?

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:14-15

  1. The Belt of Truth is what we know to be true. The Spirit has revealed to us His Plan, His Redemption, and His Interaction. What we get is synergythe interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc.; synergism. This synergism is what is created when we interact with the LORD. It’s a NEW THING!
  2. The Breastplate of Righteousness is what He gave to us upon salvation. It’s the character of Christ and plays out in our lives as a desire to be like God, which is godliness. What is God like?
    1. He’s holy (He is set apart and special): we should see ourselves as holy, too.
    2. He’s fruit-bearing: This is my way of including all of the fruit of the Spirit; we aspire to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and exercise self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
    3. The best attribute of God is that He is loving. In fact, the Bible says that HE IS LOVE (1 John 4:16) and that He loves us. His love and righteousness cover our hearts and protect us from the enemy’s lies.
  3. The Gospel of Peace is the Plan of God for salvation, transformation, and eventually glorification. We keep this plan before us all the time. It’s important. Anytime that we begin to doubt or to look around at what the world is doing, we need to go back to the Plan. It’s how we interpret all that is going on around us. We have several illustrations that give us hope concerning the Gospel:
    1. Daniel’s vision of the Rock that smashed the statue and then became a huge mountain that filled the whole earth (Daniel 2:31-35).
    2. The mustard seed (Mark 4:30-32).
    3. The river from under the throne of God that grows until all nations are blessed  by it (Ezekiel 47:1-12).
    4. The yeast in the dough (Matthew 13:33).

Whether in good times or bad, we can count on the Gospel ever-increasing until it fills the entire earth! And we are a part of that Gospel!!!

So, be encouraged today. Join Him in Bible study and learn at His feet. Feel His love, joy and peace wash over you. Be energized by the promise of the Gospel. Now, go walk with Jesus!

Abba, I pray for my brothers and sisters that they would be Your willing ambassadors today. May they see You working and join You in Your work in people’s lives. May You equip us and whip us into shape for Your use and enjoyment. I want to be spiritually productive with You today, LORD. May I cooperate with Your Spirit! Amen.

Proverbs 15 5-15-20

Do we really want to become like Christ? Or, are we in love with the idea of being like Christ? They are different.

32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.

We are going to “adjust” this verse just a little bit to read, “Those who disregard THE DISCIPLINES…” In other words, there’s work to be done here.

There are three layers to our psyche:

  1. Our temperament-Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic and/or Melancholy
  2. The Five Love Languages-Time, Touch, Words of Affirmation, Service and Gifts
  3. Our Birth Order-First Born Male, First Born Female, Second Born, Middle Born, Last Born (the baby)

Complicate these layers with our sin nature, and we get a mess! What is our sin nature?

  1. The lust of our eyes-What we see, we want! The passion that is generated by our hearts overwhelms us. Don’t believe me? Take a five-year-old to the candy or toy isle at Walmart and you’ll see it in action!
  2. The lust of our flesh-We can’t resist that donut or extra cup of joe, the seconds on what tastes good or that apple pie (a la mode). And let’s not talk about our sexual desires…
  3. Our pride of life-We are the most important person in our lives. We want wealth, security, power, control, to be important, to be admired, and to be loved. We will steal, kill, and destroy to get them. Sound familiar? “The thief [Satan] comes to steal, kill and destroy…” John 10:10a. We were just like our daddy, the devil. “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is not truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44.

Praise God for the Holy Spirit! Through Christ, we died to our sinful nature and are raised to walk in newness of life in Christ! We are new creations!!! We are crucified with Christ and we no longer live, but Christ lives in and through us. From now on, if we humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, He will help us overcome our sinful nature, reorganize our temperaments, understand our love languages, and accommodate our birth order.

Here’s the biggie: WE NEED TO TUNE IN FIRST THING IN THE MORNING. The longer we wait, the more set in our ways we become and the more damage we might do. Reading the Bible first thing in the morning opens our hearts and minds to His leadership and guidance. It’s how we breathe spiritually: Breathe in His words and his life; exhale our sin and self. REPEAT. His Spirit displaces our bad side and pushes it right out! WE ARE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT!

There is an added benefit to having your quiet time with the Lord first thing in the morning. If you’ll do it so that your family can see you interacting with the Father, it will be a source of comfort to them knowing that you are striving to be like Christ and a subtle encouragement for them to do the same. There is a warning: If they interrupt us while we are reading/praying, we must practice patience and gentleness even as we instruct them that it needs to be really important. Waiting is a virtue; teach them how (it usually requires long-suffering…).

Being so complicated gives us insight to the true nature of God. He is much bigger than we are, so we will spend the rest of eternity plumbing the depths of the richness of His attributes. Amen and amen!

Abba, You are amazing. You are wonderful. You are glorious. I marvel at Your goodness, Your patience and long-suffering; I wonder at your Plan, which you have been working since the beginning. I glory in the promise that you will bring all things to unity in Christ sometime soon. I can hardly wait! Until then, I am Your humble servant. Use me as You see fit, O LORD. Amen.

 

Proverbs 15

Do we love darkness more than light? There’s a lot about what we do that belies what we say…

32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.

The Surgeon – An Allegory 

The surgeon looked at the screen as he guided the scope through the healthy tissue. The further in it went, the less healthy the tissue became. Finally–there it was: The culprit. A secret habit. The lazer light shone exactly where the scalpel needed to go. It was painful, but removing this habit would clear up a lot of unhealthiness in the patient’s life. The “trick” was to keep it from growing back…

Our natural desires tend to rear their ugly heads routinely. Had God not imparted the righteousness of Christ to us 2 Corinthians 5:21 , we might think that we had fallen from grace and were no longer saved! But, thanks be to God, there is now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus Romans 8:1-2! What we fight is our natural tendency to love darkness.

19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:19-21

We know that sin destroys us and keeps us from hearing God and from seeing Him working in our world and in our lives. Why, then, do we continue to go back to it? As we read today’s chapter, let us keep in mind the allegory of the Surgeon. Let’s look at some verses:

1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Easy to say, hard to do. We tend to meet fire with fire. Instead, we must run our response/reaction through our spiritual filters and answer according to how the Spirit would have us answer.

8 The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him. If we are not willing to lay everything on the altar, then our sacrifice becomes smelly rather than aromatic (the difference between burning incense and dung). Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) paid a high price because of their unwillingness; how we can think that we can deceive the Holy Spirit is beyond me!

10 Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path; the one who hates correction will die. Aren’t we glad that He disciplines us? It’s a sure sign that we are His children Hebrews 12:5-8. The reason we will die is because SIN DESTROYS US. The saving grace is the fact that dying physically is not “the end of the world” for Christians. In fact, it’s a step up! No more sin nature to fight! Still, He wants us to be like Him in this life, so we stay and strive until He calls us home.

Each verse has a dark side and a light side. Let’s take note of the dark side and apply the light side to our lives. Paul told the Thessalonians, “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep [dead in their sins], but let us be awake and sober [minded].” 1 Thessalonias 5:5-6. If there is something that we are hiding, guarding, or hoarding that we know is hurting us and of which Jesus is asking for us to let go, let’s allow Him to “do surgery” on us and get rid of it. We may have to give it to Him everyday for a while, but then it will become every other day, and then once a week, until we no longer allow it to creep into our lives. Sweet victory!

This process is how we become like Jesus.

Let’s acknowledge His Lordship in our lives, lay ourselves on His altar, pick up our cross and follow Him today and every day.

Abba, this process would get old were it not for the fellowship of Your Spirit. The joy and peace that come from being with You makes everything new and the struggle worthwhile. Thank You for loving me and wanting to spend time with me. Help me stay away from the dark and walk in the light of Your will and way, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 15 3-15-20

Concerning the Coronavirus: A result of the Curse and sin in our world. Where is your trust? Is it in the LORD?

11 [Even] Death and Destruction (hell) lie open before the LORD–how much more do human hearts!

Nothing gets by God. This virus didn’t take God by surprise. Nor, do I think that it is the judgement of God–except in a general fashion. Sin carries its own judgement through its consequences. We must remember that we all have sinful tendencies:

ARROGANCE–> REBELLION–> SIN–> DESTRUCTION

When David was being pursued by Saul and evil men were keeping Saul updated of David’s whereabouts, he prayed/sang this prayer, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise; in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4. In other words, what can happen in this life that God doesn’t know about or can’t control the outcome? If even hell lies open before the LORD, how much more do our lives!

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced the trial of the fiery furnace. Their response to the threat was this:

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

The lesson of the Furnace is:

  1. Many times we are delivered from the fire = Our faith is built.
  2. Many times we are delivered through the fire = Our faith is refined.
  3. One time, we will be delivered by the fire (straight into the arms of Jesus)= Our faith will be perfected. [from Beth Moore-DANIEL]

In any of these circumstances, we can be assured that we are His and He takes care of His own. Consider this:

  1. If we avoid getting the virus, we praise God for His grace. We minister to those who do get it and encourage the fearful.
  2. If we get the virus, we praise God for the opportunity to spend some serious time with Him in our down time. We read His Word, pray, watch inspiring shows on tv, read inspiring books and magazines, stay in contact with people via internet as we encourage the fearful, etc. We enjoy His company! Also, don’t forget to be thankful and gracious to those who serve you while you are sick.
  3. If we die from the virus, what better fate awaits us than heaven and the presence of our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ?!!!

As we can see, this virus is a win/win/win situation for Christians! Let’s use these circumstances to show the world what it is like to walk with Christ in confidence. May people ask us why we are not afraid, and may we tell them the three reasons listed above for our confidence. We have FAITH in God; we TRUST Him with our lives. It’s that simple.

That being said, let’s consider prudence: Many people have extenuating circumstances that need to take extra precautions. They are not necessarily acting out of fear, but out of wisdom. Here again, it comes down to the leading of the Spirit: What is HE telling us/them to do?

I pray that we all have a great day of fellowship with the LORD. I hope to see you at church. If not, we stream our service on Facebook and YouTube. Either way, have CHURCH wherever you are!

Abba, I pray for Your church today that we take courage in our confidence in You. You are Sovereign LORD. May we never forget that! I look forward to singing and praising You with my fellow Christians today; I look forward to praying with them and for them, studying Your Word together in haverim (the uniting of the Spirit in fellowship), carrying each other’s burdens, and ministering to each other in myriad ways. May it be a great day of lifting up the name of Jesus! Amen.

Proverbs 15 2-15-20

Do you talk like Jesus? Do gracious words come out of your mouth? How about the opposite? It matters!

The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
    but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

What does the Bible mean by “perverse?” According to the dictionary:

  • (of a person or their actions) showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences.
  • contrary to the accepted or expected standard or practice.
  • (of a verdict) against the weight of evidence or the direction of the judge on a point of law.

Examples of “perverse” are bitter (spiteful), raging, angry, fighting, slanderous, malicious, dispassionate, unforgiving (Eph. 4:31-32), immoral, impure, bawdy (obscene or inappropriate), fractious (divisive), jealous, envious (Gal. 5:19-20), selfish, vain, arrogant (Phil. 2:3), unloving and disrespectful (Eph. 5:33). I’m sure there are more. Any of these words can be substituted for the word, “perverse,” in verse four.

But, the LORD is not only interested in what comes out of our mouths, for He knows that our thoughts determine what we say. He wants to fix our hearts, which will in turn fix our mouths.

18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. Matthew 15:18

If we want to be more like Christ, then we need to start changing the way we think, which will change the way we feel, and will change the way we talk to others (thank you, Beth Moore).

26 The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked,
    but gracious words are pure in his sight.

In order to speak gracious words, we need to think gracious thoughts. BUT HOW? Well, it comes through daily washing our minds with the water of the Word.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

We’ve heard these verses over and over–so, why won’t they stick? Here is what I have concluded: Until we are ready to ask the LORD how we should think and what we should say ALL THE TIME, we are not really ready to change. HE HAS AN OPINION–AND IT’S THE RIGHT ONE. Most times, we don’t want to ask because we don’t want to know because once we know, then we are accountable to Him. What we don’t realize is that we are ALREADY accountable to Him for every thought and every word. He wants to help us learn to be like Him! He loves us and wants the best for us. Only HE knows what that BEST is. He gave us His Spirit so that we can communicate with Him 24/7. Let’s take advantage of our advantage.

Let’s trust Him today–just today. Let’s try Him and see if He will open the windows of heaven and pour out His blessings (His peace, presence and participation in our lives) on us (loosely based on Malachi 3:10).

Abba, I know that opening my mind to You can be scary. I don’t really want to acknowledge what goes on in there. But, I realize that You know EXACTLY what I am thinking, and even why: You know the history of my life and its influences; You know my tendencies and my struggles; You also know my heart, which so desperately wants to be like You. Please give me the desires of my heart, O LORD (Psalm 37:4) even as I take delight in You. May I listen, trust and obey Your Voice all day today–and then tomorrow, and the next day, etc. Amen.

 

Proverbs 15 1-15-20

Are you looking forward to heaven? Do you know anything about it? What does life after death entail? Let’s look!

19 The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.

Our journey on this earth leads us to the throne of God. The last verse of the hymn, Footsteps of Jesus, says, “Then at last when on high He sees us, our journey done; we will rest where the steps of Jesus end at His throne.” According to the apostle Paul, to be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD. 2 Cor. 5:8

There is another hymn that speaks of heaven, but it leads us to a wrong conclusion. It is, “This World is Not My Home.” The verse goes,

This world is not my home, I’m just a’passing through.

My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.

The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,

and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

The song is true in this sense: We all die and proceed to the throne of Jesus. It is what He wants. In His prayer in John 17:24, He tells us, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” But, that’s not all there is to heaven. Revelation 19 tells us that we will all return with Jesus to earth to establish heaven on earth!

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

You will notice that “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” This phrase refers to Psalm 2:9 and ushers in the Millennial Kingdom when Christ establishes His rule on this physical earth from the temple in Jerusalem. It will be the “Restoration of All Things” as is spoken of in Matthew 19:28,

28 Jesus said to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, in the renewal [that is, the Messianic restoration and regeneration of all things] when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you [who have followed Me, becoming My disciples] will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

This is not in heaven, my friends; this is in Jerusalem! Jeremiah 3:17 tells us, At “that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.” Won’t THAT be a sight to behold! We actually WILL!!! Here is the LORD’s promise to us:

16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

So, dear friends, let’s not get caught up in living only for this world, or let the trials of this life get us down. We have a great and glorious future ahead of us with Christ Jesus and all His saints! Let’s set our eyes on the prize that is to come. The apostle Paul said it best:

10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection [His Spirit in our lives] and participation in his sufferings*, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead [the process: We suffer, we die, we are resurrected!]12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:10-14

*We bear His name and thus open ourselves to ridicule and persecution. We also live in these frail, mortal bodies as He did while He was here on earth, until the time we get to be with Him in heaven. On the Day of His Second Coming, we will receive our new and glorious bodies and be reunited with our flesh when we come back to earth to reign with Him. See 1 Corinthians 15,  1 Thessalonians 4, and Revelation 19.

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8

So, “encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thess. 4:18

Abba, how exciting it is to study how things will be when we shed these mortal bodies and step into our new and glorious bodies and into Your presence! At the same time, we long for Your appearing, at which time, we won’t have to die, but will be transformed on the spot!!! While we wait, I lift up all who are going through persecution for Your name’s sake, and for all who are enduring pain and suffering in these frail bodies. It’s not what You had in mind, nor is it what You have in store. We DO take comfort and encouragement with these promises that we have from Your Word. Just a little longer, LORD, until “the times of the Gentiles is completed.” Amen.

 

Proverbs 15 12-15-19

Doing for God is not enough. It’s never been enough. We are to walk with God in the Spirit.

Adonai detests the sacrifices of the wicked but delights in the prayers of the upright.

We can be zealous for God and yet miss God. We can even have great knowledge and still not know God. We can serve God and still not please Him. How? By doing things our way, by making all the decisions in our lives on our own and by our own intellect. Consider:

1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s deepest desire and my prayer to God for Isra’el is for their salvation; for I can testify to their zeal for God. But it is not based on correct understandingfor, since they are unaware of God’s way of making people righteous and instead seek to set up their own, they have not submitted themselves to God’s way of making people righteousFor the goal at which the Torah [the Law] aims is [to know personally] the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts.

My question is this: Why would we want to be introduced to Jesus, receive forgiveness and His Spirit into our hearts, and then ignore Him, going about our business as if He WASN’T in our hearts? Living by faith means that we don’t trust our own opinion, but seek His opinion; we don’t trust our own feelings, but lean on Him to lead us. Our own hearts are wicked and capricious; the only thing we CAN trust about them is that they will lead us astray. Our hearts amplify how we feel, which is controlled by how we think. Satan is the master controller of manipulating how we think. He has culture turned against Christ, so we cannot trust what is considered “right” in our world. We must re-train our minds according to the Word of God. It is from His Word that we read:

What, then, does it say?

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.”[Deuteronomy 30:11-14]

that is, the word about trust which we proclaim, namely, that if you acknowledge publicly with your mouth that Yeshua [Jesus-the Greek translation of Yeshua] is Lord and trust in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be delivered [saved]. 10 For with the heart one goes on trusting and thus continues toward righteousness, while with the mouth one keeps on making public acknowledgement and thus continues toward deliverance11 For the passage quoted says that everyone who rests his trust on him will not be humiliated.[c] 12 That means that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — Adonai [the LORD] is the same for everyone, rich toward everyone who calls on him, 13 since everyone who calls on the name of Adonai will be delivered.[d]

As we can see, salvation is not only a one-time event, but also a process of becoming righteous. God sees us as having the righteousness of Christ; now, we are to walk in that righteousness, which can only happen by walking in step with the Spirit each day. Our banner verse should be:

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a]may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. NIV

Here it is in the Complete Jewish Bible:

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living; 17 thus anyone who belongs to God may be fully equipped for every good work. CJB

Want to feel the breath of God? Read His Word. He will whisper to You His truths and His instructions for you today.

Abba, I want to feel Your breath upon my face as I walk closely to You. As I read Your Word, may You instruct me, correct me, train me and even rebuke me. I count it as a kindness! May I be rewarded with a true sense of Your presence and the love, joy and peace that flow from Your throne onto -and into- all who stand in Your presence.

Bless us as we meet today, Abba. May we enjoy each other’s company as we worship You in Spirit and in Truth. Amen.

Proverbs 15 11-15-19

“Be careful what you ask for; magic comes with a price.” Righteousness is what we seek. HE is who we seek.

6 The house of the righteous contains great treasure, but the income of the wicked brings ruin.

Simply put, the great treasure is the blessing of God–His forgiveness through His Son’s sacrifice, His presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit, the connection we have with Him through the family of God, and the blessed hope we have in what He has in store for us. His righteousness is what we are to seek.

The ruin of the wicked is their income–it blinds them to the fact that they need a Savior; it fulfills just enough desire to keep them from looking for true Desire and fulfillment in Christ. The things to which they hold will spoil and rot, which includes their souls.

How do we get this great treasure for our lives? It starts with a willing heart. Then we ask for the want-to to want to, a higher desire, one that comes from His Spirit. Then we begin to read His Word. When we get to a verse that stands out to us, we stop and meditate on it beginning with thanking Him for speaking to us. We ask these questions:

  1. Why would the Holy Spirit shine a spotlight on this verse?
  2. Is it personal, in that is it revealing a weak area in my life?
  3. Does it have to do with another verse or passage (write the reference in)?
  4. What is there about the passage that stands out to me?
  5. Is the Lord wanting me to “take a note” about an idea?

We need to write down whatever comes to mind. Once all is written down, we can go about our day or night–just as soon as we thank Him for conversing with us and giving us wisdom. At a later date, we can re-read what is written and make sure it makes sense. We can make any adjustments that need to be made in grammar, connectivity, and references (other verses that help explain what we wrote).

Now we need to thank the Holy Spirit for entrusting us with this information. We ask Him to guide us in how to use it in the coming days and weeks. We need to read it often to remember and to further ingest the lesson and expound on it if necessary.

The last thing is to run it by someone we know who will give us an honest and godly opinion about what we have written. It’s not that we need a second opinion, but that the Spirit speaks to us through our brothers and sisters in Christ. They may have another point to add or they may help us shape how to say it. We all need objective help seeing truth.

The question is, are we really interested in learning from the Holy Spirit? Consider these verses:

2:1 My child, if you accept my words [from my word] and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding–3 indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD [what it means to stand in His presence] and find the knowledge of God [see from His perspective].

Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.

18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

27 Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.

32 I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.

Abba, there is so much more to Your Word than what I know! I want to know as much as my brain can absorb! May I read Your Word in different ways so that I may grasp new meaning in every passage. Then, LORD, give me a place to proclaim what You have shown me, whether it is evangelistic or in a teaching format. Whatever You have planned is what I want. Thank You for having a relationship with me. It means everything to me. Amen.

Proverbs 15 10-15-19

What does it take to have a discerning heart? It takes awareness, which can only be given by the Holy Spirit.

14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge,
    but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.

The Holy Spirit comes to us and invites us to become God’s children and to join His family. By accepting Him, we place ourselves under His protection and His leadership. This connection is what Christianity is all about!

Jesus asked for my heart one day. I was six years old. My best friend, Mindy, had recently trusted Him. Her decision prompted me to start paying attention. I know now that His Spirit was using Mindy to get my attention.

I have walked with Him for 52 years now. I don’t really remember the part of my life when I didn’t know Him. Even then, I was learning about Him thanks to my Mom and Dad. For someone to say that He isn’t real is ludicrous to me.

At the same time, how can I relate to someone who doesn’t know the Lord personally how it feels to have Him in my life? I can’t, really. Jesus has to make Himself known. Just like He did to me. God used Wendy’s testimony to get my attention. He will use our testimonies to reach out to others, too. It’s all part of His plan.

I DO know this:

BECAUSE Jesus lives in my heart and converses with me constantly, I trust the verses in the Bible that talk about His resurrection. His Spirit bears witness with my spirit.

BECAUSE I believe in His resurrection, I understand His mission on the cross. He not only reopened the door to heaven, He blew it off its hinges!

BECAUSE I believe His mission, I read the New Testament to study His life to learn how God really feels about us, about sin, and about how we treat each other while learning how we are to treat each other.

BECAUSE I learn about Jesus’ life by reading the accounts of the men (and possibly women who helped with the narratives of Luke and John) who walked with Him, I want to know all that led up to His Coming, which is what the Old Testament is all about!

BECAUSE I have read in the OT of the interaction of God with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Josiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Mary, and many others, it verifies in my soul my belief in Him and God’s interaction with me. Since Eden, it has been His goal to live in us!

BECAUSE I believe in Him and His goal, having experienced it for 52 years now, I believe in a literal Genesis 1-11. There is NO OTHER WAY for things to happen and come out with the same result: Christ in me, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).

The fun part is that everyday (it seems) I learn something new of how science confirms the Bible. It’s like God saved all these great discoveries for our generation. I guess He knew we would need them, huh?

Abba, thank You for Mindy’s willingness to share her testimony with me. Thank You for speaking to me through her. Thank You for making Your presence so real in my life. Thank You showed me early in my life that a consistent and daily time with You is essential to my walk with You. Thank You for being my Guide. I look forward to being with You face to face someday. Amen.

Proverbs 15 9-15-19

Our attitude toward church tells us a lot about our spiritual condition. Church is not about us; it’s for us.

This morning, we are going to look at a set of verses in this chapter.

The house of the righteous contains great treasure,
    but the income of the wicked brings ruin.

Having the Lord as the Ruler of our house and the Leader of our home brings us great treasure on a spiritual basis, relational basis, and even monetary basis (more in savings rather than earnings).

The lips of the wise spread knowledge,
    but the hearts of fools are not upright.

We must get our hearts right before we can spread knowledge. This verse is BIG for teachers, especially Bible teachers.

The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
    but the prayer of the upright pleases him.

“Relationship above ritual.” God is interested in US, not what we can give Him or do for Him.

The Lord detests the way of the wicked,
    but he loves those who pursue righteousness.

If we love the Lord, we will pursue His ways; we will want to be like Him; we will stay close to Him; we will desire His presence and participation over all else.

10 Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path;
    the one who hates correction will die.

It’s not that God is waiting to hit us with a big mallet–but life is! Satan uses every opportunity to make us doubt, suffer, and quit serving the Lord. Discipline and correction are the way to life if we will just receive it.

11 Death and Destruction lie open before the Lord
    how much more do human hearts!

We can’t keep anything secret from the Lord. Why do we even try? He knows us and loves us anyway! In fact, the very fight that we have with ourselves concerning right and wrong is what makes us most like Him. Jesus chose right every time. Let’s strive to be like Him. He’s rooting for us!

12 Mockers resent correction,
    so they avoid the wise.

It all comes down to attitude. A mocker is not interested in God’s opinion or ways. The child of God must kill this part of himself in order to seek God’s face and opinion.

What happens if we begin to kill the mocker in us and seek God’s face and opinion?

  • We begin to understand the we are always before the Lord. We merely have to turn to Him and there He is!
  • We begin to see His loving discipline and correction are for our good. He is a Loving Father.
  • As we pursue righteousness, we feel His love pouring over us. Proverbs 1:23 comes true: “If you repent at my rebuke, I will pour out my heart to you and make my thoughts known to you.”
  • As we focus on our relationship with Him in Bible study and prayer, we lose our fear of punishment–not that we think He won’t, but that we live in the safety of His presence as we walk with Him. His teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training are reserved for His children: Us! It’s part and parcel with our relationship with Him.
  • When our hearts are right with Him, then our lips will speak knowledge and in a loving way.
  • Our spiritual houses will contain great treasure as He pours into us His wisdom, understanding, and knowledge (see Proverbs 24:3-4).

This morning, as we go to church, let’s remember that it’s the place we go to corporately worship the Lord, practice our Christlikeness, and learn more about walking with God.

Abba, may You be honored, magnified, and glorified as we lift up the name of Jesus today. Be president in our lives and not just resident. May we love on each other, especially the EGR’s (extra grace required). Who knows? Someone may include ME in that group! May I feel Your pleasure as I spend time with our family in worship today. Amen.