Proverbs 3-15-23

“They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love” was copyrighted in 1966. It is as relevant today as when Jesus said it.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

After seeing the movie, “The Jesus Revolution,” we have been doing songs on Sunday evenings from the ’75 Baptist Hymnal that were from the Jesus movement. We have sung, “People to People,” “He’s Everything To Me,” “Pass It On,” and last Sunday, “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love.” The first line of the song is, “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord.” I found a verse the other day that says that very thing,

17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:17

The lyrics changed “spirit” to “the Spirit” indicating that we are joined by the indwelling Spirit of God. Here it is from the Living Bible (LB),

17 But if you give yourself to the Lord, you and Christ are joined together as one person.

To become one with the Lord is to think His thoughts, feel His emotions, and do His works. Philippians 2:13 tells us that He gives us both the desire and the power to do His will. What is His will? That we will be one in Him,

21 My prayer for all of them is that they will be of one heart and mind, just as you and I are, Father—that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me. John 17:21 LB

Jesus has said it twice, “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples,” and “the world will believe you sent me,” meaning that people will believe in Jesus because they see Jesus in us. When we love like Jesus loves, then we are most like Jesus. Look at this promise:

11 Dear friends, since God loved us as much as that, we surely ought to love each other too. 12 For though we have never yet seen God, when we love each other God lives in us, and his love within us grows ever stronger. 1 John 4:11-12 LB

We will be talking more about this oneness and showing His love one to another in later posts. For now, we will allow the song to speak for us,

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

Abba, there is no better or greater way to express who You are to the world than by Your children loving each other. We know that Your compassion spills out onto those around us who don’t know You when we love each other. You draw people to Yourself through the demonstrated love of Your children. May we always keep the main thing the main thing: Love one another. Amen.

Proverbs 2-15-23

Why do stars and planets hang suspended in space? Because the Lord holds them there!

 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:3

Jesus ignited a scientific uprising. How? From, “Person of Interest,” pages 185-188,

Igniter #1: Christ Followers Believed Matter Was Good and Worthy of Study. As simple as this truth may seem today, ancient thinkers didn’t always hold matter (or the material world) in high regard. Jesus expressed a worldview that held matter in high regard and invited the study of the material world, even as an approach to studying the nature of God:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. Psalm 19:1-2

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Paul, Romans 1:20

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. Hebrews 1:2

Igniter #2: Christ Followers Believed Their World Was the Product of a Singular, Orderly, Rational God. They believed one God ruled the universe in an orderly, rational manner and created us as rational beings in his image. This view led to the birth of science as Christians explored their world, identifying the orderly laws that governed the universe and employing the rationality they received from their Creator.

Igniter #3: Christ Followers Believed God Was Distinct From His Creation. Jesus taught that God transcended the material world, and endorsed a worldview that described God as greater than but distinct from his creation, working through predictable natural processes in such a way that humans could study these processes. This view of the world allowed Jesus followers to study and investigate their environment without simply attributing every phenomenon to an unpredictable deity, i.e. lightning–>Zeus, ocean storms–>Poseidon.

Igniter #4: Christ Followers Were Motivated by Their Desire to Worship the God of the Universe. Early Christian scientists saw their work as an act of divine devotion. Johannes Kepler (the German mathematician, astronomer, and theologian who was a key figure in the scientific revolution) described his work in the following manner, “I was merely thinking God’s thoughts after him. Since we astronomers are priests of the highest God in regard to the book of nature, it benefits us to be thoughtful, not of the glory of our minds, but rather, above all else, of the glory of God.” Jesus followers were driven by more than professional desire or personal interest. Their scientific enthusiasm was inspired by a holy devotion.

We will look at the last three igniters tomorrow. Suffice it to say that Christian scientists had no qualms about studying God’s natural world–ethically, of course.

Abba, thank You for our curiosity. Enjoying discovering how things work is inherent to humanity. We gain insight into why things–and people–work the way they do. Such knowledge helps us to encourage the best outcome according to Your leadership and instruction, and our capability to comprehend and willingness to obey. May we continually strive to learn, O God. Teach us through Your Word and through Your world. Amen.

Proverbs 15 1-15-23

Ever had a thought pop into your head out of nowhere? Be careful! What we do with that thought is very important.

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you entertain such evil thoughts in your hearts? Matthew 9:4
19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.” Matthew 15:19-20

Here’s a good topic to discuss: A bad thought is a sin.

Let’s begin with a question: When did Eve sin, when she saw that the fruit was good for eating or when she actually ate of it? How about adultery or murder: When did the look turn to lust or the hate turn into a hit? Could it be that the Spirit convicts us of righteousness before He convicts us of sin?

Take Cain, for example,

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.

The Lord convicted Cain of righteousness by reminding him of what the right thing to do was. After he killed Abel, the Lord convicted Cain of sin.

Another good question is, When does Satan lie to us? Is it not in our minds? Does he not try to deceive us and capture us mentally? He knows that our thoughts lead to actions (James 1:14-15). James says, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters” (James 1:16). Paul tells us what to do with these run-away thoughts,

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Our war is fought on the battlefield of our minds. We demolish arguments with truth and shine light on every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. Notice how much Scripture is used to debunk the lie that a bad thought is a sin. Instead, we recognize it for what it is, a temptation, and take it captive by being obedient to Christ. We can’t do it on our own. We need the guidance, training and encouragement of the Holy Spirit. We need to BRACE,

B-breathe: four counts inhale, four counts hold, eight counts controlled exhale. Repeat.
R-recall Scripture that helps to refocus our thoughts, like Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
A-ask the Lord for help. Talk to Him about what you’re thinking and how to beat the “feels.”
C-call or text someone for accountability. Just focusing on someone safe helps.
E-escape the situation. Remember this, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Is a bad thought a sin? No. We recognize it because the Spirit convicts us of righteousness (we know what is right). It becomes a sin when we allow it to take root in our hearts through deceitful desires (Eph. 4:22) and gives birth to sin (James 1:15). Jesus wants us to be “blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then we will shine among them like stars in the sky as we hold firmly to the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16).

Abba, You have called us to be like You. In order to be like You, we must think like You. Change the way we think by transforming our minds (Romans 12:2). It’s a good thing You’re helping us! Amen.

Proverbs 15 12-15-22

The prophecies about Jesus are many, old, strung together, and cohesive, but it’s the peripheral prophecies that are amazing!

13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. Luke 1:13

Yesterday, we looked at portions of the first chapter of John. In it was mentioned a man named John. We know him as John the Baptizer, or, John the Baptist. Here is that passage,

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

John’s birth was foretold by the angel, Gabriel, in Luke 1:5-25. His birth was itself a miracle sent from God, but not like the birth of Jesus. Zechariah was John’s dad. What made John so special, besides him being a Nazirite (Luke 1:15), is the prophecies that he would fulfill,

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 40:3-5

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. Malachi 3:1

5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful* day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” Malachi 4:5-6

Gabriel actually quotes verse 6 in his conversation with Zechariah (Luke 1:17).

Jesus had this to say about John,

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John (Malachi being the last). 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. Matthew 11:11-14

This same John was sent from God as a witness to testify concerning Jesus. What did John have to say about Jesus?

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:11-12

Don’t worry. His prophecy about unquenchable fire had to do with the leaders of his day. For those who accepted Jesus (even today), He baptized them with the Holy Spirit and fire. This fire had to do with the cleansing of His people by the blood of Jesus; see Isaiah 4:2-4. This passage mentions the Branch of the Lord. We will look at its meaning tomorrow. For today, let’s give thanks for John the Baptizer who prepared the way of the Lord, and for the cleansing fire of the Holy Spirit in whom we have been baptized.

Abba, Your fire rests in my soul. Just like the disciples in the upper room at Pentecost, Your flame burns in my heart. Thank You for cleansing me with the blood of Jesus. I stand amazed in Your presence! Amen.

*Peter quoted Joel 2:31 from the Septuagint in Acts 2:20 which uses the word, “glorious” rather than “dreadful.”

Proverbs 15 11-15-22

Love really is the key to everything. If we could just learn how to love like Jesus did, we would be just like God.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

If you are wondering about my statement that we would be just like God, it’s a simple matter of 2+2=4. John told what God is like in 1 John 4,

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

If God is love, and Jesus is God, then to love like Jesus is to love like God. And, it’s the very thing that Jesus told us to do. Love is what is attractive about the Gospel.

Even God’s justice is based on love. He loves us so much that He is willing to allow us to go our own way rather than force us to love Him (it’s called free will). If someone chooses to have nothing to do with Him, God will honor his decision–never mind that the person is breathing God’s air, walking on His ground, and living in a body He created! And, God will allow him to walk into eternity and continue to have nothing to do with Him–although, the consequences of that choice will be far worse than we can imagine.

We are going to camp on this concept of godly love for a while. For today, let’s ask God to show us His love. It may come from His Word, from Him in prayer, through a friend, and even through an adversary. Let’s look for Him to reveal His love to us. In the meantime, let’s show love to others in every way we can think of.

Abba, showing Your love often means that I have to disregard how I feel about someone or a situation. So be it. You never said that love is a feeling, but an action, which You proved every day Jesus walked this earth–and beyond! If I am really interested in being Your ambassador on this earth, I need to learn how to love. Teach me, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 15 10-15-22

Getting outside of our routine requires intention. Let’s be intentional about being light to the world around each of us.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

A high school friend posted this picture on Facebook the other day,

COVID did a number on us inviting people over. Most folks are still not over their hesitation of meeting for close fellowship. It’s definitely something over which to pray. The idea is to be proactive in looking for opportunities, asking the Lord, and then stepping out on faith.

One of the things that I have learned is that God doesn’t need me to say the right thing. All I need to do is let my light shine. He’ll do the convicting and eye-opening. Sure, I try to say good things, but knowing that He is in charge relieves the pressure.

Here’s a good passage to remember:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

When working with people, this process may not happen the first time. So, when the door doesn’t open, ask, seek and knock again. Lots of times God doesn’t tell us where to go; He leads us as we go. In many cases, He wants us to let our light shine right where we are: at home, at work, at ball games, at church, at school events, the grocery store, wherever! Just remember: We don’t do things for Him, but with Him. We walk according to the Spirit, with the Spirit.

Abba, urge me to look more diligently as I go about my day. May I be brave in speaking out a kind word, doing a kind deed, and letting my light shine. I will look for opportunities to put in a good word, too, but I’m really counting on You to do the convicting and eye-opening. I want everyone to know You, Jesus. You’re the best! Amen.

Proverbs 15 9-15-22

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Why are they so important?

26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26

There are two traditions that Jesus practiced. One was baptism of which He participated and all His followers, as well. The other was the Lord’s Supper, which was a modification of the Seder, or Passover meal, which He asked us to continue until He returns. Let’s look at the Baptist Faith & Message and see what it says.

VII. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.

The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.

Matthew 3:13-1726:26-3028:19-20Mark 1:9-1114:22-26Luke 3:21-2222:19-20John 3:23Acts 2:41-428:35-3916:30-3320:7Romans 6:3-51 Corinthians 10:16,2111:23-29Colossians 2:12.

It’s interesting to note that although immersion (baptismo in Greek) is stated, the method of immersion is not. Each church can baptize in whatever fashion it wants. Concerning the Lord’s Supper (also known as the Eucharist), it is left up to each church to determine how often it will partake in this ordinance. Most Baptist churches of which I have been a part have taken the Lord’s Supper four times a year. Most use grape juice (unfermented wine) and wafers (unleavened bread), but here again, it’s up to the individual church.

Each ordinance is designed to show our relationship with the Lord Jesus:

  1. Baptism symbolizes our participation in Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection. He did what we couldn’t by rising from the dead. It was His plan all along to break the curse of death and to rid us of the fear of death, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
  2. The Lord’s Supper symbolizes our commitment to our service to Christ (the bread) and the sacrifice of our lives to Him (the wine). We are to do it to remind ourselves of His promise to return. He said, “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:24). When Jesus’ kingdom is finished (the building of His Church), then He will return and join the heavenly kingdom to the earthly kingdom. What a day that will be!

Abba, I know that many Christians all over the world partake of the Lord’s Supper each Sunday as the climax of their service. I don’t see the need for the frequency, but I do see the importance of the reminder to myself and my profession of faith in Christ’s promise to return. May I never take it flippantly. As for my baptism, I remember it well–seeing that I had to wait three weeks because I had stitches from busting my head open on the playground! It is a milestone in my life signifying my decision to follow You. I’m still following You today, and am more sold on You than ever! Thank You for these traditions, these reminders, of the relationship we share in You. Amen.

Proverbs 15 8-15-22

Much of the human body doesn’t depend upon conscious thought; we are dependent upon our Master Designer.

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

We don’t know it, but even as we have this moment in time, our bodies are maintaining themselves without any conscious thought on our part. Take, for instance, our bones. What are they doing right now? From, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body, page 54-56

Bones stop growing in length when we reach adulthood. But for the rest of our lives bones must continue to be maintained and change shape, repairing damage and responding to changing demands, such as shifting weight during pregnancy. So God designed a mechanism that allows bone to be both formed and removed where necessary. The cells that make bone are called osteoblasts (which means “bone maker”), and those that remove bone are called osteoclasts (which means “bone breaker”).
Osteoblasts don’t make the crystal part of bone (hydroxylapatite) directly. They first secrete bone matrix, which initially consists entirely of organic material, including the fibrous protein collagen. Bone matrix attracts minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus, which are in our body fluids. Over time, the minerals accumulate to form the crystal hydroxylapatite [which turns to bone].

Osteoclasts are relatively large cells with many nuclei that remove both the mineral and organic components of bone. They secrete an acid that dissolves the mineral of bone, and enzymes that break down the organic components of bone, including collagen.
During the growth phase of our life, osteoblasts make bone faster than the osteoclasts remove it. When growth is completed, God designed the osteoblasts and osteoclasts to work in harmony, constantly replacing bone without growth.
As we get older, osteoclasts may remove bone faster than osteoblasts make it, resulting in a reduction of bone density known as osteoporosis…bone density increases in response to load from weight or exercise…so exercise makes good sense to potentially reduce the effects of osteoporosis…

As we come to the end of our study of bones, it’s pretty obvious that evolution didn’t construct our skeletal system. There is too much irreducible complexity going on. Speaking of which, we will discover the same “problem” as we look at our skin, beginning tomorrow.

Abba, our human bodies are amazing. To think that they were perfect at one time, compared to all of the disease and cancer in our world, makes me rethink the consequences of sin in and on my life. “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” is true for our bodies. When we sin to “live,” it actually harms us in some way, and ultimately, it destroys us. It’s not Your design, nor is it Your will (desire) for us to be destroyed by sin. You love us and want the best for us as long as we are here on this earth. But, You will provide us with new bodies in Your kingdom. They will be like Yours, Jesus. In the meantime, make us like You on the inside. May it be our highest priority. Amen.

Proverbs 15 7-15-22

The “magic” is in the relationship. When Jesus comes to live in us, we get His righteousness, His “cleanness.”

29 The LORD is far from the wicked [actually, they are turned away from Him and have blinders on], but He hears the prayer of the righteous [those who trust in the righteousness of Christ].

Never let sin keep you from coming to Jesus.
It never stopped Him from coming to us.

The idea of God not being able to look on sin is misleading. Was not Jesus God in the flesh? Did not God look on Adam and Eve–He even went looking for them! That concept is based upon the reading of the first half of a verse. It goes like this:

“Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. (first half)
So, why do You…?” (second half)
Habakkuk 1:13

We cannot take the first half of the verse without taking the second half with it. In fact, the second half defines the first half. “It is true that God cannot look upon sin with approval and without action. In the case of Habakkuk, it was the Chaldeans (Babylonians).”* Even then, it was not God who instigated the invasion, but the flirting of Judah with the Babylonians (see 2 Kings 20:12-17; the prophecy did not cause the invasion, but foresaw it).

Sin has no power over God. But, it does have power over His children, which is why He came to earth as Jesus to put an end to sin (Daniel 9:24). This quote explains it well:

“…sin cannot be in the presence of God because whenever God draws near to sin, the raging inferno of His love and holiness washes all sin away. God can no more be tainted by sin than the ocean could be dyed red with a single drop of food coloring.
This is why God takes all sin upon Himself in Jesus and in the Old Testament.
Sin crushes, enslaves, and destroys humanity, but it vanishes away into nothingness at the smallest touch of God’s blazing holiness.”

This is, indeed, GOOD NEWS! It is why when Jesus comes to abide in us, we get His righteousness, His “cleanness.” Sin literally melts away in His presence. You may ask, “Then, why do we still sin after Christ comes to dwell in us?” Because we do not believe that He really abides in us. We think that we can turn around in our minds and He won’t see us (little children do this all the time). We ARE little children to God! When we realize and acknowledge that Jesus is with us 24/7, encouraging us, admonishing us, and cheering us on, then we will be done with sin. Until then, He continues to guide us, train us, and bear with us even as He asks us to do with others.

Abba, thank You for not giving up on us. When the blinders are removed from our eyes and we see what we’ve done, but also what You did for us (showed us that even killing You would not end Your love for us), we praise You with our entire being. We shout and bow and weep and sing; we fellowship with You and with each other in You; we show/tell others about how great a God You are! Amen.

*Jeremy Myer – Redeeming God website

Proverbs 15 6-15-22

Our faith tends to be “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”* The question is, What does Jesus’ voice sound like to you?

Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

To use an old analogy, God the Father uses the cross of Jesus as an antenna to speak to us. We each have a “radio” to hear His voice, but we don’t have the frequency. The Holy Spirit helps us to “dial in” to God’s voice. In fact, He is our power source for running our radios!

Henry Blackaby listed four general ways how we hear God speak to us: The Scriptures, prayer, people, and circumstances. The idea is to focus on hearing His voice through all the “static” we get from this world and our own minds (a topic we will discuss tomorrow).

Abba, May we hear You more clearly every day as we “press on toward the goal” set before us. Help us to remove, or at least disregard, the obstacles that keep us from hearing You clearly. You are our Prize, Lord Jesus. Amen.

*Winston Churchill concerning Russia

Proverbs 15 5-15-22

The Spirit of Christ is helping us change the way we think. Are we cooperating?

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

Continuing with our look at Galatians 5, we find that our freedom to think correctly comes from Jesus. What we do next is our choice: Will we follow our Savior, trusting Him with our every decision, or will we make the same mistake Adam and Eve made in the Garden, which was to trust the word of the serpent rather than what God had told them? Let’s read the next passage in Ephesians 4,

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

As young children spiritually, we must learn to pay attention to some things and ignore others. The ones we pay attention to are the ones that the Spirit highlights in our lives through conversation with Him, reading His Word and other Christians’ experiences and insights, conversation with other people, and our own experiences and circumstances. The ones we ignore are the ones that don’t line up with Jesus. For instance, Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21). If we are paid for a day’s wage, then we are to give a day’s work. Likewise, if we are forgiven for our many trespasses, then we are to forgive others their trespasses, even–and maybe especially–when they are against us.

Who else can renew our minds other than the Spirit of Christ? We come to Him for renewal and He renews our minds. He helps us to put on (access, employ) the mind of Christ, which we have because of His Spirit within us. This new self thinks like God and thus acts like God. Let’s go further, though. We don’t think these thoughts on our own; we think them WITH the Spirit. It’s now a dual effort. When we think with Christ, we are accessing the mind of God! Want to know what God thinks? Ask Jesus, who is the Spirit within you.

I love this passage because it shows me that I am responsible for my actions through my thoughts, which can be tempered and conditioned to think like Christ–with Christ. Tomorrow, we will look at how Jesus dealt with failure in this area (I think you’ll like it).

Abba, being young in spirit, I still react according to my feelings. May I learn as I grow to set aside my feelings and to ask You how to respond in a given situation. Knee-jerk reactions are usually not godly. I want to be like You, Jesus. Lead me in Your way. Amen.

Proverbs 15 4-15-22

Good Friday – What does it mean to you?

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

Jesus’ time had come. He had fulfilled the work that the Father had for Him, which was to demonstrate that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him through the signs given (healings and miracles). It was now time for Him to do what no one else could do: Kill death. The power of death held those who die in bondage in Hades. I’m not sure what all that entailed, but that is the general idea of what happened to those who died. Many people called it, “the sleep of death,” meaning that a person was held in stasis until they were awakened on Judgment Day (John 11:24). The story of Lazarus and the rich man indicates that people are conscious in Hades, but already receive some form of blessings or consequences there (see Luke 16:19-31).

Whatever the case was, Jesus came to break the hold that Satan had on His children. Jesus declared His intentions in John 12:31-32,

31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

I love the phrase, “I will draw all people to myself.” How does Christ draw you? What does the cross mean in your life? Are you afraid of death? Many people work hard to feel secure and be healthy because they are afraid. Jesus wants us to look beyond this life to the one that He has in store for us. Can you trust Him for this new life? It starts the moment we let go of this world and grab hold of His nail-scarred hand. He is drawing everyone to Himself. How can we resist His awesome love?

Abba, as we remember Your sacrifice through the offering of Your life for ours, may we take Your hand as You extend it to us. In You is peace, Your peace, not as the world gives, but as You give. In Your peace is love, hope, security, fellowship, and complete JOY. You tell us to ask for it, so I’m asking (John 16:24). May we rejoice in Your victory over the grave this weekend, O Lord! Amen.

Tonight at Brookwood: Good Friday Service at 6:30

Proverbs 15 3-15-22

Christians must be about demonstrating the love of God that is in our hearts. God is love and He won’t stay inside!

30 Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.

Yesterday, we talked about the generation of Jesus missing Him as Messiah. Today, we will discuss the consequences of hanging onto the temple sacrificial system.

Up until the crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and Pentecost, the people of Israel made annual sacrifices to cover their sins. Jesus came to wash their sins away. He was the Final Sacrifice, but not in the same way that the people offered sacrifices to God. Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice'” (Matthew 9:13). They did it to appease God; Jesus offered Himself because of God’s love for us. The people were afraid of God; Jesus showed us the heavenly Father.

I have heard it said that God turned His back on Jesus that day when Jesus was on the cross. How can God turn His back on Himself? Jesus said in John 10:30 that “I and the Father are one.” The argument is that Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” But, many psalms were written in question/answer form, and this one is one of them. In verses 23-24, we find the answer,

23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
    Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

The psalmist is declaring that God was with Him all along!

Now, back to our “wicked generation”: They missed the significance of the torn veil in the Holy of Holies; they missed the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and they began to persecute the followers of Jesus beginning with the Disciples and Steven (see Acts 6:11 through chapter 7). They became worse than the Romans in how they treated their fellow countrymen! They missed the entire point of the cross, which is how much God loves us. Consequently, according to Matthew 13:12, those who had His love would be given more, but those who missed His love turned away from whatever love for God they may have had. They basically killed the love in their hearts, and it was displayed to the world over the next 40 years (see yesterday’s post).

Tomorrow, we will look at the perils of believing in the Temple Sacrificial System of today.

Abba, may Your love reign in our hearts. More than anything–even being right–we want You to love through us. We must begin with our own brothers and sisters in Christ before this world will ever believe us, though. Help us to look past our differences of opinion, beliefs, and arrogance to love as You loved: Unconditionally, fully, and completely. Amen.

Proverbs 15 2-15-22

Jesus didn’t beat around the bush. He cut to the chase many times. Here’s one of them:

7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.

When Jesus cleared the temple (the first time; it’s possible that He did it twice), the religious leaders demanded He tell them upon whose authority He had acted (John 2:13-22). Jesus made a remarkable statement,

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

John explained that Jesus was talking about His body (v.21), but it was more than that. Jesus was talking about the temple becoming mobile and coming to live in each believer. He was declaring the sacrificial system’s pending termination (pun intended) and a New Covenant inaugurated. We live in that New Covenant where Jesus is our High Priest,

17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people [using the Old Sacrificial terminology]. Hebrews 2:17

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. Hebrews 4:14

Jesus made it possible for every person to approach God. We find mercy and grace at His throne (Hebrews 4:16). But it’s better than that: We get to have a personal, one-on-One relationship with the Father! Jesus packed a whole lot of meaning into His statement about raising up the temple in three days. Let’s review the events:

  1. Jesus Died on the cross.
  2. The veil that separates the holy place from the holy of holies in the temple was split from top to bottom.
  3. Jesus arose three days later.
  4. Jesus ascended back to His throne in heaven.
  5. The Holy Spirit came and in-dwelled each believer.

What did Jesus do during those three days? We know He was fulfilling prophecy (Hosea 6:2), and that He entered Hades and took the keys to death and Hades away from Satan (Hebrews 2:14-15, Revelation 1:17-18). He took all that man could do to Him (they crucified Him) and then rose again, whereupon He inaugurated the New Covenant, this one based upon His sacrifice of love.

And all of this wrapped up in one statement!

Abba, thank You for coming to us when we needed You most! You’re still doing it!!! Amen.

Proverbs 15 1-15-22

Your birth certificate does not have an expiration date. God sees and knows, but does not cause, our deaths.

3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.

We tend to put on God’s shoulders something that is not really His doing. That “something” is the hour of our death. Growing up Southern Baptist, I heard often that God has an appointed hour for me to die, based upon Hebrews 9:27, which says, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement,” but a specific hour is not what the text is really addressing. Let’s look at a bit closer,

24 For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

Let’s look at the text literally (who’s talking, background, plot, audience), morally (the point), and spiritually (application).

Literal- The writer is addressing Jews, hence the deep sacrificial descriptions. The time of the writing is around 50 A.D. The point is to build a case for Jesus being the Last Sacrifice.

Moral- The Old Covenant was built upon a sacrifice that covered sin, but did not take away sin. It was designed to point to a coming Ultimate Sacrifice, who is Jesus Christ. Just as the priests entered the holy place to offer sacrifices, Christ entered the heavenly holy place to offer Himself. But, the priests had to repeat this process year after year where Jesus did it only once for all. The comparison/contrast continues in verse 27: Just as we die once, so Christ died once. It’s not a matter of a certain time, but that it happens once. So, what kills us? Basically, it’s the overall consequences of sin in our world and in us through disease, nature, personal choice, other people’s choices, etc. The text simply tells us that WE WILL DIE–but that’s a good thing, because who wants to live forever in these decaying earth-suits?!

Spiritual- Whereas all previous sacrifices could not take away sins, Jesus’ perfect sacrifice could and did! Let’s look a little further in the book, 10:3But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Tomorrow, we will look at 8-10 and how Jesus establishes the New Covenant with us.

Abba, thank You for Jesus coming and taking away my sin. I couldn’t do it myself; I needed You. And, now that I have met You and You have invited me to be a part of the Fellowship of the Trinity, I never want to be without You! Give me spiritual eyes, Lord, to see what You see in people, circumstances, and life. Amen.

Proverbs 15 12-15-21

Good reasons I believe in a Young Earth: #1 The recent demise of dinosaurs.

2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

Occasionally, I find an article that helps me explain in plain terms the disparity between hopeful science and hope-filled science. Hopeful science interprets all evidence from the perspective that hopes in evolution: The random ability of nature to go against its own laws (the laws of thermodynamics*) to create order. Hope-filled science looks at the evidence from a Creator/Designer perspective and finds the wonder in all creation large and small, from DNA in cells to spiral galaxies. The following article is yet another example of a Young Earth:

A new review paper published in the journal Expert Review of Proteomics summarizes 85 reports of organic remains in fossils. Some of the reports describe whole tissues like blood vessels, dried but intact skin, and connective tissues on or inside fossils like dinosaur bones. Other reports describe whole cells like red blood cells and bone cells. Other reports in the review paper describe biochemicals specific to animals (not microbes), including proteins, collagen, elastin, ovalbumin, and keratin…1) a diversity of organic material among different types of fossils…2) The study authors noted the extent of biomaterials in fossils covers most of Earth…3) hundreds of fossil experts have found specimens that apparently contain original biomaterials from most of the ten iconic geological systems.

The review paper noted that biomaterials like proteins always decay over time, and that experiments show that although some might last thousands of years, none should last millions [or, a million years]. The study authors therefore had to admit to the ridiculously huge difference between experimental expectations and the actual fossil finds and the dates traditionally ascribed to them.  85 Reports

Descriptions and drawings of dinosaurs have been reported within the last 200 years in South America. Maybe they are not as extinct as we think they are…

If dinosaurs (dragons, in history) were created by God along with all land animals, then they were created on the sixth day, and we can also surmise that many of those created on that day died in the Great Flood some 1500 years later, which explains their incredible size. See? Science doesn’t have to be that hard to swallow. We just need to know which science to eat.

Tomorrow, we will take a look at the geological diagram of the layers of the earth. Don’t miss it!

Abba, You are the Great Designer. Everything in Your universe works perfectly according to Your natural laws. May we seek You in Your nature, O Lord. May we see Your handiwork in everything. Amen.

*The Laws of Thermodynamics:

“The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy can be converted from one form to another with the interaction of heat, work and internal energy, but it cannot be created nor destroyed, under any circumstances.” We can’t get something from nothing.

“The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the state of entropy [randomization, lowest state of being] of the entire universe, as an isolated system, will always increase over time.” Things naturally break down, not the other way around.

Proverbs 15 11-15-21

The assumption is that when we see Christ and experience Him in the flesh, we will become just like Him in character.

24 The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead. [We are always in motion; we never remain idle. As a canoe rowing upstream must keep paddling, so we must “keep paddling” upstream.]

When a person turns to Christ and experiences rebirth (that connection that is made when we turn to Him and seek Him), the transformation begins. We begin moving from being dominated by our base desires and living for ourselves according to how we were raised to becoming Christ-like: Holy, godly, joyful, peaceful and loving. Living with Jesus will do that to a person.

The assumption is that we are moving toward the goal of being just like Christ–but unique according to our own personalities and gifts. We are a synthesis of Christ and us. We are new creations and are, indeed, creating with Him. It’s a partnership. When do we achieve this goal? When we are with Christ.

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 1 John 3:2

19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19

Life in Christ is designed to be different. “Get used to different.”

Abba, thank You that You take a personal interest in each of us. Thank You for making us each unique and that You celebrate that uniqueness. May we look for the uniqueness in each other and celebrate it with You. I look forward to the Day when You are revealed to us and we are revealed to each other. Amen.

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


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.

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

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

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!”