Proverbs 15 10-15-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s do one more:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 15 9-15-20

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

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

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

The motto comes from verses in all four Gospels:

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

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

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

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

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

One more passage:

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 15 8-15-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It gets better:

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 15 7-15-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 15 6-15-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 15 5-15-20

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

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

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

There are three layers to our psyche:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Proverbs 15

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

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

The Surgeon – An Allegory 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This process is how we become like Jesus.

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

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

Proverbs 15 3-15-20

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

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

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

ARROGANCE–> REBELLION–> SIN–> DESTRUCTION

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

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

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

The lesson of the Furnace is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 15 2-15-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Proverbs 15 1-15-20

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

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

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

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

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

My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.

The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Proverbs 15 12-15-19

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

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

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

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

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

What, then, does it say?

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

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

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

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

Here it is in the Complete Jewish Bible:

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 15 11-15-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 15 10-15-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

I DO know this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 15 9-15-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 Mockers resent correction,
    so they avoid the wise.

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

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

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

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

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