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.