Proverbs 16 10-16-21

In case you ever questioned whether Jesus is God, here’s what the first-century Christians thought:

20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.

As I was reading in 1 Corinthians 8, Paul began to talk about food sacrificed to idols. Let’s look at 4-6,

Therefore, concerning the eating of food sacrificed to idols, we know that an idol is nothing at all in the world, and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods [idols] and many lords, yet for us there is only one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

Paul was dipping back into Jewish Scripture with his two statements:

  1. “an idol is nothing at all in the world” comes from Psalm 135:15-18, 15 The idols of the nations are nothing but silver and gold, The work of human hands. 16 They have mouths, but they do not speak; They have eyes, but they do not see; 17 They have ears, but they do not hear, Nor is there any breath at all in their mouths. 18 Those who make them will become like them, Yes, everyone who trusts in them.
  2. “There is not God but one” comes from Isaiah 44:6, “This is what the Lord says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.

He then follows a logical thought process concerning what he knew about Jesus Christ. As he does so, he gives us a foundational precept on the Person of Jesus Christ in verse 6. There are other passages, so I will list them here together (you might like to highlight and string them together in your Bible–it’s called, “stringing pearls”):

yet for us there is only one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. 1 Corinthians 8:6

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation: 16 for by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or rulers, or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17

2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, to the extent that He has inherited a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:2-4

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:1-3

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through Him, and yet the world did not know Him. John 1:10

13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Revelation 22:13 (see Revelation 1:8 for the tie-in concerning Jesus’ deity)

Want to know who you are serving? He’s the King of the Universe! He is Lord, our Lord. We serve Him. Why? Because He loves us, He’s forgiven us, and He wants to spend time with us–in fact, He wants to spend eternity with us!!! WOW! What a mighty God we serve!

Abba, I praise You and exalt Your name! You Are GOD! Thank You for being my Savior and my Lord. It boggles my mind to think that You would want to be with me. May I bask in Your Presence even as You participate in my life. “I worship You, Almighty God! There is none like You!!!” Amen.

Proverbs 16 9-16-21

“What is it that prevents this intimacy [with God]? What is this most difficult sacrifice I speak of?” The sermon continues…

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans [according to His will as we align our wills with His].

As we conclude the sermon preached in, Heathersleigh Homecoming, by Michael Phillips, I will now tell you about Charles, the author of the sermon. He was a Liberal and on his way (in the 1890’s) to becoming Prime Minister when the Lord got a hold of him through the pastor who is reading the sermon. Charles became a Christian and over a period of time decided to drop out of politics. He devoted himself to helping those in his little home town near the south shore of England and was loved by all–except his eldest daughter who held it against him that he withdrew from society, for which she clamored. At 17, she left home to join the Suffragettes (pushing for women’s voting rights). When the war broke out, he was called back into the navy and was on the same ship as his son. When the ship was torpedoed and sunk, they were last seen directing men to lifeboats and going back in to rescue others. The funeral was for Charles and his son, and this sermon was written by Charles several years before as he struggled to learn all he could about God and how to know Him. Here is what he concluded:

“It is not primarily sin in the world, nor the wickedness of the ungodly. It is not poverty nor cruelty, not injustice nor inequality, not war nor killing nor greed. I speak rather of the sin which prevented me for most of my own life from entering into intimate relationship with my heavenly Father. I speak of the great invisible enemy of God’s highest purposes—nothing more nor less than prideful independence of heart, that determination which says—I am my own. None other shall control me, none other shall dictate to me, none shall be over me… I shall bow my knee to no one.

This is the spirit that rules in the far country to which we modern respectable prodigals have given our citizenship.

Do you hear me, men and women—simple independence…that quality so admired by modern culture is in fact a mountain ten miles high and impossible to cross between that land where we have built our impoverished dwellings and the home of our Father.

Independence is the great silent evil, not because its sin is so perfidious but because it keeps otherwise good and moral people ruled by their Selves. It keeps them eating spiritual swine husks rather than the meat of fellowship with Jesus and His Father. People like you, good listener…and me.

The Self—that region of thought and deed, of motive and attitude—keeps me on the throne of my life, and God off it. It keeps you on your own throne too, my friend. As long as you are on the throne where your own will rules supreme, God cannot exercise His true Fatherhood in your life because there can be only one Father and one child. Self-rule says—I need no Father over me. Self-rule is the god of the far country.

We are all prodigals together, my friends. We have made self-rule our god. As a result we have become a prodigal humanity. Thus we do not know intimacy with our Creator and our Father. But we can know it. Jesus came to show us how. But we must return. We must leave the land where pride and self-rule reign as gods. We must be reconciled with our Father.

“How?” you ask.

God will show you. But first we must say, as Jesus taught, ‘I will leave this country. I will return to my Father’s house.’

That is something we can do in our own hearts. Now…today. We can say to Him, ‘I am sorry for being a respectable worshiper of Self. I am sorry for thinking myself capable of living my life with no Father over me. No more do I want to rule my own life. I want a Father. I am ready to be a child. I am eager to become a true son, a true daughter. I ask You to be my Father.

He is fashioning of us people of character and virtue. He is building the fiber of mature spirituality within us. He desires to make us into men and women capable of carrying out His commands and walking in this world as individuals recognized as our self-reliant, self-motivated wills, if only we will turn those wills over to Him, lay them down on the altar of chosen self-denial…and become children.

This process of humble growth into sons and daughters begins by turning around and setting one’s face toward home, toward the Father’s house, where He rules. We must return to Him and say, ‘I choose for You to rule now, not me.‘ It is a journey to be made in the heart. He is waiting along the roadside to welcome us…but we must go to Him, we must return to our Father’s house and say, ‘I will be Your child.’”

Charles’ daughter, Amanda, as she listened on the steps of the church, heard God speaking to her. She went home. It was too late for her to run to her father, but it was not too late for him to reach her through his sermon. It’s not too late for us, either. Today, let’s tell the heavenly Father what Charles did, “Abba, rule my life. I am Your child.” It’s what He’s been waiting for.

Abba, I certainly do ask You to rule my life. Again. Today. Tomorrow, too, although, I will ask You again tomorrow. Your presence and the peace that comes with You are worth more than all the gold in the world. I rest in You even as I labor for You in Your power and with Your direction. Holy Spirit, let’s go! Amen.

Proverbs 16 8-16-21

Sometimes we have to let things (and people) go until they stop on their own before we can get them to change directions.

1 To mankind belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue [the best plan for our lives].

In the case of sin, God gave the law so that mankind could know what “missing the mark” looked like. Before the law, we didn’t even know there was a target to hit! With the law, we learned that there is a right way and many wrong ways to do things. Twelve o’clock is only twelve o’clock when both hands are pointing straight up. If they are pointing any other direction, then it’s not twelve o’clock. It’s the same with righteousness. If it’s not absolute righteousness, then it’s not righteousness at all. I believe that this concept is what Paul was getting at in Romans 7:7-13,

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet [as a point of illustration; he could have used any of the ten commandments].” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting [this is what our sin nature does]. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good [it did not kill me; sin did].
13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

When we are born, each of us has a seed, the potential to sin. Because we have no Spirit, our spirit is a vacuum, much like the number zero; it holds a place, but has no value of its own. When we become conscious of the law–right and wrong–we are presented with a choice to accept the law and do what is right, or to reject the law and do what is wrong. The problem is that we have no Holy Spirit to lead us and empower us, so we turn to another power: Satan. Our sinful nature (having no Holy Spirit and having Adam’s propensity to rebel) points us in his direction and we run to sin. In our rebellion, we die.

But, because we are now dead, Christ can raise us up again! Thus, because we have died, when we are brought back, we can now marry another, who is Jesus Christ. We become His bride, or rather, part of His Bride, which is the Church. Sin became utterly sinful in us so that we could recognize our lostness and our need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. Are we done with sin? Not yet, but we will be soon! In the meantime, Romans 8:1-2 says,

Therefore, there is now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Our position in Christ is sealed and can never be broken. What we work on is our relationship with Christ. Let’s spend some time getting to know Him in the Scriptures. It’s important.

Trust Jesus
Read the Bible

Abba, as we begin the new work week, it is now the middle of the month and beginning its downhill slope to the next month. May we use this date to remind us that time is short. Teach us to number our days, Abba, and make every one count for You. Use us up, Lord. I am happiest when I am in the middle of Your will. Amen.

Proverbs 16 7-16-21

The desire to change is what marks a person as a true Christian. A person who does not want to change has no vision of Christ.

9 In a person’s heart he plans his course, but the LORD establishes their steps [but, to where?].

15:24 The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep them from going down to the grave [either up or down].

Let’s review from Proverbs 14:

Lesson 1- A Christian’s power comes from the person of Christ, His in-dwelling. The Holy Spirit is the one who lives in us and empowers us. Therefore, our greatest weapon is prayer: constant, intentional, conversational interaction with the King of the universe. We can’t surprise Him, nor can we disappoint Him since He knows all about us: past, present, and future.

Lesson 2

The resurrection power in us is what gives us the desire to change, to be transformed into the image of Christ, and to have His character. A person who encounters Christ and truly sees Him for who He is will desire to be just like Him. Jesus is completely loving, joyful, and peaceful, and these characteristics flow from Him to us. He is also perfectly patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and has complete self-control. This fruit He gives to us when we walk with Him. We have the resurrection power of Christ.

19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, Ephesians 1:19-20

We can study the Bible; we can go to church; we can even say prayers, but if we don’t walk with Jesus in a continuous encounter, then we are missing out on the main reason for being saved. Walking with Him is what continues to create the desire to be just like Him. It makes me ask:

  • Would Jesus want to watch that movie? I really need to ask Him and pay attention to the tension that may be happening in my spirit.
  • Would Jesus play that game? If it’s for money, then probably not, because someone loses materially. If it involves sex in any way, certainly not, because lust comes too easily to people, and improper attention is destructive attention.
  • Would Jesus have that attitude? Feelings can’t be trusted. In fact, we look for a feeling of satisfaction from making godly choices rather than what makes us feel good.

We need to be asking ourselves these types of questions about everything and then listening for the Holy Spirit as He guides us into all truth. Yeah, it will feel awkward and embarrassing, but those feelings will pass as we become more like Jesus and we get comfortable with the Holy Spirit’s voice and leadership. Those who are also spiritual will be drawn to us; those who are not spiritual will be offended. It’s okay. In fact, these reactions are exactly the result for which we are hoping. Let’s look:

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

Let’s be the aroma of Christ to all those around us today.

Abba, one of the things You taught us on the cross was to forgive those who may never actually give an apology. In the words of a friend, “I learned to accept the apology that I will never get.” Teach us to release those who owe us the debt of apology. We don’t have to forget, but neither do we have to allow it to influence us anymore. If You can do it, then we can do it, because we have You and Your resurrection power in us. To that, we say, “Amen!”

Proverbs 16 6-16-21

God is never disappointed with us. How can He? He knows everything! He paid for every rebellion, mistake, and failure.

2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD [God knows everything].

15:11 Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD–how much more do human hearts.

24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24-25a

Therefore, (there is) now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

As we can see, God knows everything about us: our past, our present, and our future. Instead of seeing our sin, though, He sees us through the filter of the blood of Christ. We have been declared BLAMELESS. Not only that, we have been adopted into God’s family! Our sins are forgiven, past, present and future. So, what happens when we sin now that we are His? Our sin carries a different consequence. It still destroys, but now God uses it to “teach, rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness.”

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and [when applied to our lives] is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

There’s a reason He calls us “little children.” Spiritually, we are! It takes “teaching moments” and lots of them before we catch on. God is the Source of all patience; He doesn’t lose His temper, He doesn’t have unrealistic expectations or even unspoken expectations. Granted, many of His promises and warnings are stated in His Word and He urges us to learn them; when we don’t, then there are consequences–brought on not by God, but by our willful disobedience. And, just so you know,

“Delayed obedience is disobedience.”

But, He gently brings us back to the right path; He doesn’t yell at us, nor does He accuse us. Instead, He offers instant fellowship and reinstatement. He is the essence of gentleness, kindness and goodness. His love makes us want to please Him.

Want to know what God wants? What He likes? “And find out what pleases the LORD” Ephesians 5:10. Ask Him and He will show you personally in His Word, in a sermon, in a song, in the conversation with a friend–in any number of ways as you and He walk together.

Abba, may my readers walk with You today. I know that You will show them what is pleasing to You. I also know that You are pleased with them because they have believed (and trusted in) Your Son, Jesus. Now, with Your Spirit in us, we WANT to please You! It’s our new nature. Grow us, O Lord, until we are just like Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 16 5-16-21

Looking to Jesus is a daily thing, even a moment-by-moment thing. Let’s get used to being in His presence.

20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in [relies on, walks with] the LORD.

Yesterday, we talked about the true sacrifice being a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). Today, we look at what God does with sin.

By believing Jesus, that He did what He said He did and that He will do what He said He would do, we appropriate the righteousness of Christ when we pledge our heart and life to Him. We trust Him. The saving power of His blood transforms us into children of God! The transaction is made when the blood is applied.

There is a great example in Numbers 21:4-9,

The Bronze Snake

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

Snakes were killing the Israelites because of their impatience and grumbling against Moses, God’s chosen servant. They repented and asked Moses to pray to the LORD to take away the snakes. Moses prayed for the people, but the LORD didn’t answer the way they asked Him to answer. Instead, He had Moses make a bronze snake and put it on a pole. Anyone who was bitten need only look to the bronze snake to be healed. It sounds like pagan worship, but God was making an illustration.

The story is a perfect setup for the Gospel! In John 3:14, Jesus likened His sacrifice to that of the bronze snake, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” Again, in John 12:32, Jesus makes a reference to being lifted up, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” The term, “lifted up,” means, “exalted,” so it carries a double meaning. Jesus was lifted up just like the bronze snake and He was exalted by the Father for His obedience (Philippians 2:8-11).

What does this example mean for us? The penalty for sins has been paid; we need only to look to the Son for the poison of sin to be neutralized. The blood of Jesus washes us and removes the guilt and stain of sin from our lives. When does Jesus cleanse us? When we believe Him and confess Him as LORD, surrendering to Him and pledging our lives to Him.

One more thing: The Lordship of Christ is not stagnant. The first thing He does as Lord is enter our hearts to live with us! He desires sweet and intimate fellowship with each of us. How can we miss this important part of salvation?! Yet, many do. Renew your relationship and devotion to Christ right now and enter into the peace and joy that He offers when we walk close to Him. He loves us!!! Pray the prayer of King David,

“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation 
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
(Psalm 51:10, 12)

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will take this opportunity to be made right with You. I pray this prayer myself knowing that there are things in my life and in my mind that are still unregenerated and need to be sanctified and made holy. May we all surrender our lives to You and then walk with You in close fellowship. It’s the whole point of salvation! May we worship You in Spirit and in truth today, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 16 4-16-21

I had a dream last night. In that dream, I experienced the Holy Spirit like never before. Let me tell you my dream.

16 How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!

I was at a conference at a big non-Baptist church (how I knew that, I don’t know). During the music portion of the service, the Holy Spirit swept through the auditorium with the sound of a freight train. It filled everything and everyone including me! I was lying down (remember that it was a dream) when I was filled by His presence and it was amazing! It must have been a waking dream because my entire body was filled with His Presence and the feeling didn’t abate for quite a while as I lay there in bed.

Back to the dream: I left the auditorium and came back; as I entered, I was remembering what had happened, and I was filled again! In fact, as I remember His flowing and filling–His Coming–I am washed over with that same feeling right now! It’s different from the dream because it abates rather quickly where in the dream, it didn’t.

In the dream, it was time for another session, but first, I stopped by a family style restroom; while I was in there, a young couple came in (odd, right?). They were talking about creation vs. evolution and he wasn’t making the biblical connection. As I was leaving, I made mention to him that I would love to have a conversation with him about the topic and gave him my business card. I mentioned a “for instance” concerning clues that God gave us in His Word that substantiate a literal six-day creation, which was the separating of the heavens on day four and their rejoining at the Coming of the Lord. Then, I awoke.

I realized at this point that I wanted/needed to get up and write down what I saw and felt. I am still glowing from it! Here is what I “downloaded” from what I was thinking when I talked to the young man:

  1. The heavens separated- Genesis 1:14-19; rejoined- Revelation 22:1-5. The light in Genesis 1:3 is the same light that is in Revelation 22:5.
  2. The Sabbath- Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 20:8-11, 31:13-17; Jesus claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath. Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5, John 5:18
  3. Jesus believed in a six-day creation- In Mark 10:6, Jesus states the creation and in the reality of Adam and Eve. He even quotes Genesis 2:24. In Mark 13:19, Jesus states that God created the world. In John 17:24, in Jesus’ prayer, He mentions that God loved Him before the creation of the world. Jesus also believed in Noah! See Matthew 24:37-39 and Luke 17:26-27.
  4. Death entered through sin- Genesis 2:16-17, 3:19, Romans 5:12; there was no death before Adam and Eve sinned.
  5. The Plan of Salvation- the “old Adam” and the “new Adam” 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45, Romans 5:12-21

Our faith is based upon the promises of God and particularly those of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:3-4). His great promise to us is that His Word is truth (John 17:17), both its history and its prophecy. The BIGGEST promise Jesus gave was that He would send the Holy Spirit (John 14:26 and Acts 1:4-5), which He did at Pentecost (Acts 2)! It is His Spirit with which I was filled in my dream. That same Spirit wants to fill us, and He will if we believe His promises and entrust ourselves to His will. The question is, do we believe enough to take action? Do we trust Jesus enough to give Him everything? He wants to fill us; let’s make room for Him by emptying ourselves of all doubt, worldly wisdom (an oxymoron), and any belief that is not based upon the truth of God in His Word.

Abba, thank You for such an excellent dream! I pray that everyone may experience Your Holy Spirit in such a dramatic way. It is, indeed, a foretaste of glory divine. Give us faith, O Lord, to believe Your promises. We will prove our faith by being obedient to You. Amen.

Proverbs 16 3-16-21

Understanding the God-hood of Jesus is vital. Otherwise, we can take or leave His direction according to our own desires.

1 To man belong the plans of the [untrustworthy] heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.

Jesus is more than just a “big brother.” He is God in the flesh; it’s what the word, “Immanuel,” means (Isaiah 7:14). Jesus could change the rules because they were His rules, but He didn’t. Jesus kept the Law of Moses very strictly. There were times that He ignored the rules of the Pharisees because the Pharisees had either misinterpreted or over-interpreted the original law. Here is a for-instance:

At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:1-8

You may be saying, “I have heard Jesus quote that verse recently.” You would be correct! It was when we were studying Matthew 9:9-13 at the calling of Matthew that Jesus first quoted that verse to the religious leaders. The law to which they were referring was their own set of laws that were established by them to “help the people keep from sinning.” Actually, it was more about control than anything. Jesus stripped away their interpretation back to its original intent, which was the benefit of man and the worship of the Father.

Jesus gave two examples out of the Scriptures. One is 1 Samuel 21:1-6 when David ate the consecrated bread. This passage wasn’t about the Sabbath, but about how everything that was sacred was for the benefit of mankind rather than the other way around. The pagans kept their “gods” happy with offerings of all kinds. God has everything work for the benefit of mankind because we are His creation, and in Christ, we are His children. The second example was directly related to the temple priests who worked on the Sabbath by offering sacrifices to God. In their work–according to the Pharisees–they desecrated the Sabbath. Their jobs were ordained by God Himself and therefore did NOT desecrate the Sabbath.

Jesus then referred them to Hosea 6:6 and actually chastised them for not knowing its intent. They condemned the innocent disciples for picking heads of grain on the Sabbath by placing their law ahead of the obedient lifestyle of the disciples. Jesus was basically saying, “Do as they (the disciples) do and not as you (Pharisees) say.” Then, He dropped a bombshell on their parade: “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Son of Man– A reference to Daniel 7:13-14, which was a Messianic passage, thus identifying Jesus as Messiah.

Lord– Kurios, Supreme Master, God.

Sabbath– Jesus was creator of the Sabbath (see Genesis 2:2-3 , Exodus 20:8-11, and Proverbs 8:30-31).

All in all, Jesus rocked their world by claiming to be the Creator of the Sabbath. He pretty much identified Himself as Messiah. They certainly would have taken it that way. It’s the main reason they wanted to kill Him:

16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. John 5:16-18

Lest we start making excuses for the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, Jesus gave them the same opportunity to believe in Him as He did everyone else:

37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” John 10:37-38

Alas, instead, they tried once again to seize Him (fail). Let’s not miss the opportunity to believe Jesus. Look what He has done for us on the cross! Let’s place our faith and trust in Him and call on Him to guide us every day, in every way.

Abba, understanding who Jesus is frees us from having to defend Him to others and from having to justify every single thing He tells us to do. Jesus, Your direction in our lives is vital for us to have and for us to obey. May we settle once and for all in our hearts that You are King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen.

Proverbs 16 2-16-21

We must decide about whom our lives are going to be lived–and then live our lives accordingly. Will it be Christ? Or, will it be us?

2 All a person’s ways seem pure to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.
9 In his heart a person plans his course, but the LORD establishes his steps.

Are We Willing?

Are we willing to let God use our lives as a catalyst for conviction in a person’s life? Are we willing to give our lives at the Spirit’s request? Is it really about Him? Or, is it really about us and our lives–and deaths–counting for Him the way we think they ought? Is there ever a wasted death? Does the Father, who knows when every sparrow falls (Matthew 10:29), not know when a saint dies–and how and why, and are under His care? Is not the death of His saints precious in His sight (Psalm 116:15)? Our obedience is based on our faith. So, where is our faith? Do we really believe that God can use our deaths for His glory regardless of how it happens? If we do, then 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 takes on a whole new meaning:

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.

In order to understand these weapons, we have to couple this passage with one in Ephesians:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:10-13

We fight against rulers and authorities and principalities and powers of darkness; we need spiritual weapons! These weapons are truth, righteousness, readiness, faith, knowledge (both the intellectual and experiential kind), and the Word of God. We also need a constant and consistent line of communication between us and the Father (prayer). With these weapons, we can pull down every stronghold and take every thought captive. It may not save our lives, but God can use our deaths for His glory even as He uses our lives–sometimes, better!

I am reminded of what the apostles did when they came back from being flogged:

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Acts 5:41

Abba, would that I be counted worthy one of these days. Whether it is highly publicized or in secret, glorious or ignoble, You know and the person(s) know; make my faith like the Rock on which I stand. Make me strong in You, and may You use my death to pull down every stronghold in that person’s life and set Him free, just as You did me, Abba. Lord Jesus, may my life count for You in life and in death. I have an inkling of what is awaiting me on the other side, and I’m ready! Amen.

Proverbs 16 1-16-21

Does the Spirit of God live in you? Does the Spirit of Christ speak to you all the time in your mind and conscience?

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do [all that you do], and He will establish your plans [according to His].

Jesus was very specific about sending the Holy Spirit to us. Here is what He said:

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
“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
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. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 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

These words were Jesus’ parting instructions to His disciples. It was important information! We benefit from Jesus’ promise to send the Helper. We read about it in Acts 2,

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now, let me ask again, does the Spirit of God live in you? Does the Spirit of Christ speak to you all the time in your mind and conscience? If we belong to Him and He lives in our hearts (by way of the Spirit), then He is speaking to us ALL THE TIME. If we are not hearing Him, there’s a problem on our end, not His.

Problem #1: We aren’t listening. We haven’t taken the time to learn how to hear His voice. If we want to know what God thinks about us, His world, about anything, we simply pick up His Word and read it. Yet, many Christians won’t take the time, nor will they put out the effort. They either like they way they are living, being in charge, or don’t think that they were all that bad and that they really don’t owe Jesus their lives, all of which speak of a defective relationship. I sure hope they really have a relationship with Him!

Problem #2: We have wandered so far off the path that we have begun to think like lost people again. If we are truly saved, eventually, we will come back from the far country (the Prodigal), but think of all we miss out on in the meantime. We don’t want to be this way!

Luke 5:31-32 is an invitation to be changed from the inside, to think differently. Here’s what it says in an amplified version:

31 Jesus answered them, “It is not [those who think they are spiritually] healthy who need a doctor, but [those who realize that they are] sick. 32 I have not come to call [invite] the righteous, but sinners to repentance [change their inner person by changing their allegiance from self and Satan to Jesus Christ].”

We who have trusted in Christ as our Savior have changed our allegiance; but, our decision to follow Him daily is every bit ours to make just as our decision was to be saved. Is He LORD? Then serve Him. Do we owe Him our eternal lives? Then serve Him. Are we grateful? Then serve Him. Do we love Him? THEN SERVE HIM!

Each day, we are building our world, our kingdom.
Are we building it with Christ as the center or with ourselves as the center?

Abba, I chose YOU! You are my LORD. I owe You everything. I am grateful for all You have done and for all You have promised to Your faithful ones. I want to be in that group! I love You. How may I serve You more? Better? More effectively? I fix my eyes on You, hear You, and promise to obey You. “Open my eyes that I may see beautiful truths in Your Word” (Psalm 119:18). You are my King. I will follow You. Amen.

Proverbs 16 12-16-20

Being aware of the presence of God can be wonderful–if we are aware of His love for us at the same time.

24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

These are the words that the LORD wants to speak to us. His eyes range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9). Whose hearts are fully committed to Him? Those who are contrite (recognizing our need spiritually, filled with a sense of guilt and the desire for atonement and right standing with God; penitent) and lowly in spirit. Here is what the LORD says in Isaiah 57:15 about these people:

15 For this is what the high and exalted One says—
    he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
    but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.

James, Jesus’ brother, said, “God opposes [takes a fighting stance against] the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6 Peter quoted it, as well, in 1 Peter 5:5, and it is based upon Proverbs 3:34. Jesus even used a version of it in Matthew 23:12. When we recognize our need for Him in our lives, we find that He draws near to us. What kind of encouragement did He offer to those who were humbled before Him?

  • “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Matthew 9:2, 6
  • “Your sins are forgiven.” “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:48, 50
  • “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” “I, the one speaking to you–I am He.” John 4:23, 26
  • “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “Then neither do I condemn you…go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:10-11

When we allow Him to lead our lives, we gain much more than a pat on the head for our obedience–we gain the pleasure of His company! When we are in His presence, His love, joy, peace, hope and grace pour out of Him and into us. How do I know this? Because I experience it–when I am contrite and humble in heart! I also have it on His authority. In Luke 4:18-21, Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1-3, which was His Messiah-Mission:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

…”Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus’ mission was “to bestow on us 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 (Isaiah 61:3).” All He has ever wanted to do is pour His love on us! A favorite verse of mine is 1 John 3:1, which says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” Isn’t that incredible? Amazing? More than wonderful? Let’s get in on this good stuff by letting go of our pride and our intellect, and abandon ourselves to Him. Why? Because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

Tomorrow, we will discuss why we can sense His presence and yet still act like fools!

Abba, I need You more than ever! I need to feel Your presence with me and Your love upon me. When I am not feeling well, it is so nice to be able to rest in Your unfailing love; when I am in anguish or stress, I hide myself in Your peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). When I get cocky or indignant, I run to You and place myself under Your authority. Then, and only then, am I able to release my feelings of self-importance and to enjoy Your grace and joy. Continue to teach me, LORD, through experience. I love You. Amen.

Proverbs 16 11-16-20

We cannot be ruled by our hearts. We MUST go to, trust in, and rely on the LORD Jesus for the appropriate answer.

1 To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue.

I was reading in Jeremiah 17 this morning and came across these verses:

7 But blessed is the person who trust in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him.

9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can know it?

10 “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind…”

Based upon these verses, we cannot trust our heart because it will deceive and ultimately destroy us; we CAN trust the LORD because He knows the heart and mind of both ourselves and the person to whom we are talking.

I have included this morning a prescription for relationships, particularly marriage (and from the guy’s perspective). I pray that it will help you to “trust the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Rx for Marriage

  1. Never a cross word (short, unkind, impatient, etc.)
  2. Speak loving words (conversation, encouragement, building up, protection, compliments, even wooing)
  3. Arrange for times to be together to talk (letting her guide the conversation as you keep turning it back to her by asking her the questions she asks you)
  4. Stay away from dangerous topics (previous relationships)Love her in all the love languages:
    1. Giver her your TIME
    2. Speak WORDS of AFFIRMATION to her
    3. SERVE her
    4. TOUCH her both romantically and non-romantically (hold her hand, rub her back)
    5. Give her GIFTS (the amount/cost of the gift carries less weight than the thought, so keep most of them small, but give often)
  5. Apologize–often.  Guys often don’t realize when we are hurting those around us. She will explain it to you…
  6. If in conflict, NO alcohol. Just holding it in your hand can change you in someone you don’t want to be. Find some other way to unwind. If she has any uncertainties or doubts about you or the relationship, your drinking will make her fearful. She needs you to be constant, like an anchor. The alcohol undermines the good and highlights the bad. 
  7. Pray separately and together. It doesn’t have to be long, and having a topic for the prayer helps. Let her know that your relationship together with the LORD is important.
  8. Have your quiet time with the LORD where she and your children can see you. It’s not about a show, but it is about demonstrating what is important to you.
  9. Keep yourself accountable to God every day and also to someone every week. It needs to be a person of the same gender—this is important! Also, it helps if the person is a life-long friend and lives in another town, or at least is not someone you work with or go to church with. It’s when you have the same friends that things tend to slip out.
  10. Make this pledge every day, “I am committed to the LORD and to you, to our marriage and to finishing well.” Now, take every precaution to stay that way!

Abba, I pray that each person who reads this post will take these prescriptions to heart and apply them with his/her mind. May we come to You in prayer ALL THE TIME in EVERY conversation (praying continually) and trust You and Your still, small voice, the one just behind us, as You say, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21). Amen.

Proverbs 16 10-16-20

“Do as I say, not as I do,” is not good modeling. Why do we expect others, esp. our kids, to do what we don’t?

2 All a person’s ways seem pure to him, but his motives are weighed by the LORD.

Here are a few verses to let us know that God knows what’s really going on in our hearts and heads:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his 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

11 Death and Destruction [hell] lie open before the Lord—
    how much more do human hearts!
Proverbs 15:11

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 (verses 14-16 give us perspective of verses 12-13: Firm faith, an empathetic high priest, an approachable throne and God, and grace and mercy available to us anytime we need it).

NOTE: If you have any doubts about whether you are a Christian, or if you have never given your heart and life to Jesus Christ, click here: I’m Not So Bad…Am I?

What we need to decide is who we want to please: Do we want to please the LORD who gave His life on the cross in our place so that He could have a personal, intimate relationship with us, or do we want to please ourselves regardless of the cost to ourselves and to those around us?

1 Peter 5:3 talks about us being examples to the flock, “Shepherd and guide  and protect the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not [motivated] for shameful gain, but with wholehearted enthusiasm; not lording it over those assigned to your care [do not be arrogant or overbearing], but be examples [of Christian living] to the flock [set a pattern of integrity for your congregation]. AMPLIFIED Version

Whether your “congregation” is family, friends, workmates, or a group of people, we are to model Christ to them. And, the only way to know how to do such a thing is to ask Him to show us. We model Christ as we are obedient to Him and act just like He tells us in the Scriptures and in our hearts. For instance, how does Jesus respond to children? He blesses them (Matthew 19:13-14). Another question would be, how does Jesus respond to compromising situations? He redirects and does not condemn, but rather deals in grace and exhorts us to go and live righteously (John 8:1-11). One more: Jesus said for anyone who would come after Him to take up his cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Did Jesus model taking up His cross for us? Absolutely!

Our lives as Christians cannot be about us and what we want to do. We must decide daily–even minutely–to set ourselves aside and be Christ to those around us, especially to lost people (they are potential brothers and sisters in Christ; don’t forget that). Paul’s answer to Jesus’ call to take up our cross and follow Him is found in 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 [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, 
who loved me and gave himself for me.

I’ll give you a hint: If you initially don’t like doing right, then you’re on the right track. Our flesh hates doing anything that isn’t self-satisfying. Later on, however, the Spirit gives us peace and joy and “a certain satisfaction” that comes from being pleasing to Him (and obedient).

Let’s trust our Good Shepherd and be obedient sheep. He has green pastures in store for us.

Abba, may I heed my own words. Patience is NOT in my human nature. Neither is kindness. May I exude both to those around me, especially to my family. I know that if I can demonstrate these qualities to my family, then I can demonstrate them to anyone anywhere! I know Christianity is a practice; may You help me “develop my swing.” Amen.

Proverbs 16 9-16-20

We all have plans. Jesus calls us to give up those plans and assume His plans. It’s what Lordship is all about.

1 To mankind belongs the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue. The right answer is, “Yes, LORD!”

2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD. We can justify anything, but the LORD knows our deepest desires.

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans. By committing to the LORD what we do, we are allowing Him to control our hands and feet, our thoughts and our deeds. He establishes us in righteousness.

4 The LORD works out everything to its proper end–even the wicked for a day of disaster. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7 Self-explanatory.

5 The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. We are proud of heart when we tell God, “No.” God doesn’t tell us what to do just for the fun of it. It’s a dangerous world out there and Satan waits to trap us at every turn! God wants to protect us. Let’s trust Him!

For a good picture of human nature, look at Jonah. He had signed up for what I call, “selective service,” meaning that he wanted to select about what he would prophesy. Sounds pretty cocky, doesn’t it? But, isn’t that exactly what we do when we tell God, “No?” That we don’t want to do what He wants us to do–or do it His way? Or in His time? We usurp the role of God. NOT GOOD! It’s rebellion at its finest.

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:23. He also quoted Moses, Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Mark 12:30-31. And, “A new command I give you: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must love one another. This is how the world will know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another.” John 13:34-35

Do you get the picture? If we really love Jesus, we won’t put any demands on Him, nor will we insist on our own way. We will die to ourselves and allow Him to live through us as we obey Him. We haven’t talked much about the rewards of obedience. There’s a certain satisfaction that He gives us when we are obedient. We can take pride in being His obedient children–not that we compare ourselves to others, but rather to what we were without Christ. Actually, “relief” may be a better term! Then, there’s the love, joy and peace that flow from Him and His throne. When we “stand” near Him, these traits flow off of Him and onto us! Even His fragrance embraces us. We are the aroma of Christ to the world (2 Corinthians 2:15). And, it comes from being close to Him.

Folks, if we really want to be His disciples, it takes what we’ve talked about here. Let’s put our hand to the plow and not look back (Luke 9:62). He’s worth it!

Abba, I’m speaking to myself here. When You called me, You didn’t give me any pat answer to what I was going to be doing for You. I was to be available. I still am! I figure that You will equip me for whatever You have for me to do–and You have! It’s been an adventure working for You and walking with You. I’m ready to do some more! Lead on, my King. Amen.

Proverbs 16 8-16-20

Much thought has been given concerning Christ’s Return. We know this: HE WILL RETURN SOON! He said so.

1 To mankind belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.

We must be careful to state ONLY what Scripture shows. Jesus told us in Revelation 22:7, “Look, I am coming soon!” and again in verse 12, “Look, I am coming soon!” This promise we can count on. WHEN He is returning is entirely up to Him. We have hints and some vague signs, but nothing that we can nail down as definitive. Because of the mystery behind His coming, we must make sure that our motives are correct when discussing this topic.

2 All a person’s way seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD. 

We can get in the flesh really quick when someone disagrees with us, especially if he does it in a disrespectful or aggressive manner. We must guard against rash actions that might pop into our heads. Usually, it’s not a physical fight we desire, but one of words. Verbal sparring can be fun, but can easily slide into warring words. Ephesians 4 tells us to guard against such behavior:

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another,forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.

When discussing end times, let’s make sure that our goal is to broaden people’s perspective and to help them grow their faith by believing in Christ’s imminent return. Assurance in salvation is one of the first orders of business. Staying connected daily and continuously to the Spirit is next. Being open with our faith follows after that. We plant, water and weed, and trust in God to give the harvest (1 Corinthians 3:6-8).

4 The LORD works out everything to its proper end–even the wicked for a day of disaster.

God has a plan and He is working that plan. How much choice we have in it depends upon our view of Scripture. I happen to think that because I have choice at all means that there is maneuverability within His plan. Knowing that He is omni-present (everywhere at once), I believe that God is everywhere in TIME, also, which means that all of our decision are dynamic to Him: It is always NOW to God. He can know the beginning and the end at the same “time” because it’s all the same “time” to Him. I believe that we have limited choice for all decisions, which is limited to obedience and disobedience according to His Spirit. Believing the way I do is why I teach total dependence and complete trust in the Holy Spirit for EVERY decision.

There is one more verse from today’s chapter that I would like to discuss:

5 The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

Our attitude toward others, especially concerning discussions about end times, must be done in love and in humility. We DO NOT want to be disciplined by the LORD. Instead, let us see each other as puzzle pieces: each of us has partial knowledge; it’s only when we get together in love and harmony that we begin to see the bigger picture. That picture grows as more and more of His children get together. One day, we will ALL get together and we will have the whole picture–in His Presence! Of that day we are assured. Jesus is, indeed, coming soon!

Today, let us draw close to Jesus in worship and fellowship, in Bible study and prayer. It’s important to Him and it’s important for us.

Abba, You keep showing me pieces of the puzzle of what is to come. I know that I will not fully understand until I see You face to face. I’m okay with that. I trust Your judgement and Your timing. Today, may I worship You in spirit and in truth; may I sing Your praises and lift Your name high both in song and in my daily life. Blessed be Your name, LORD Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 16 7-16-20

Chaste- Virtuous, undefiled, stainless, kept. Thoughts lead to actions. God says for us to guard our hearts. Thoughts, hearts/feelings, actions–they’re all connected!

2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.
3 Commit to the LORD whatever [all] you do, and He will establish your plans [according to His will].
32 Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.

We have a progression in these verses:

  1. Verse 2- motives = thoughts. They are our rationale for what we do.
  2. Verse 3- We must use our will to tame our feelings; our hearts will amplify whatever is going on in our minds. If we establish protocols, guard rails, and accountability, we are committing to the LORD’s will for our lives.
  3. Verse 32- When we align our thoughts with God’s Word and tame our feelings according to the parameters set by Scripture, we will find that we have self-control. Patience is outlasting the feeling when we are tempted.

There are quite a few areas that we humans are susceptible to sin. Let’s look at a few–don’t worry; we won’t look at ALL of them today: Entitlement, Lust, Pride, Vanity, Impatience, Selfishness, Sloth, Anger, Spite, Rage, Hate, Gluttony, Fear.

  1. Entitlement- “God owes me.” “I can act with impunity.” The problem here is who is at the center of attention. If we will turn our attention outward, we will find that God loves us all equally, that justice is based upon His standards and not ours. We fight entitlement with selflessness. Philippians 2:3-5, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus [humility]…”
  2. Lust- Out-of-control passion for blood, for sex, for vengeance, for anything that dominates our hearts and actions. In being chaste, we must keep our thoughts pure. When Jesus spoke about adultery, it also applies to the other passions, You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Matthew 5:27-30. In other words, it would be better to do without whatever is ruling over us than to fight the temptation to go too far and sin. Whether it is video games that give a rush of adrenaline, pornography and all it leads to, vengeance and the certain satisfaction of getting even (or ahead), they all are works of wickedness and the Christian should fight them tooth and nail. We should do whatever it takes to remove them from our lives. We need to keep removing temptations until they no longer have a hold on us. We fight lust with pure thoughts, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8.

There is one more verse that we would do well to memorize:

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It [He] teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, Titus 2:11-12

The only way I know about the Grace of God is because God had Paul write about it; then, He kept it safe by having people copy Paul’s letter to Titus and distribute it to other Christians who kept it safe through these many years. God wants us to live chaste lives before Him and with Him.

Do you want to please God? Is obeying the Savior your heart’s desire? Then, live chastely before Him today. He will show you how, empower you to do it, and bless you with the knowledge that He is pleased. We’ll give Him all the glory!

Abba, I pledge to live chastely before You today. May I turn to You for every decision and follow Your lead in every thought, word and deed. I am Yours, LORD; I am bought and paid for by Your precious blood! May I live up to Your name as You live in, with, and through me. Amen.

 

Proverbs 16 6-16-20

Faith shows itself when we don’t feel like trusting the Lord; it’s when things look and/or feel wrong that we prove ourselves faithful.

2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.
32 Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.

Our feelings can really get in the way of our obedience. It’s not so much a matter of not caring; the Spirit inside us gives us the desire to do His will. It’s the heart that causes so much turmoil. It magnifies the desires of our minds, amps them up, and then our brains dump chemicals into our bodies that are nearly insurmountable. What do we do when we are confronted with the temptation to sin, or to circumvent God and “help Him out?”

  1. Step back. We are too close to the edge. If our feelings are going crazy, then we are beyond the guard rail! We need to get back on the other side. That may mean leaving the situation and/or friends. Taking a walk usually helps. Praying while we’re walking ALWAYS helps.
  2. Ask God what He has in mind. He may or may not answer right away, but we know that He has our best interests in mind ACCORDING TO HIS WILL FOR OUR LIVES. More than likely, what we are wanting is not the best thing for us right now. Give Him time to answer, or to change the circumstances.
  3. Continue in the direction we were headed before we got sidetracked. More than likely, Jesus is still on the path and He is waiting for us to rejoin Him, in a manner of speaking.

There are two other verses in this chapter that we need to remember:

18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.

Whatever we think we want here on this earth is NOT worth giving up the fellowship we have with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. In fact, the stronger the resistance by the Spirit, the more dangerous the outcome if we fail to heed His warning.

In Bruce Wilkinson’s book, The Secrets of the Vine, he says that every person–especially leaders–will periodically come to a ledge in their walk with Jesus where the precipice is sheer and the drop is deep, but the place we are heading is worth the risk. It’s where Jesus is leading. The problem is that the trail is narrow at that point and to wander away from His side means to fall bigtime. Most of the time, our wandering is caused by little habits of rebellion or laziness or both. Our habits tend to show up at the most inopportune times. We spend our spiritual lives shedding these sinful habits. Bruce says this:

“Can I look back over my walk with God and see very clearly that a sinful behavior I used to be caught up in is no longer an issue? Are there thoughts, attitudes, or habits that used to dominate my life but don’t anymore? If you can answer yes, you’re moving forward and upward with God.”
― Bruce H. Wilkinson, Secrets of the Vine: Breaking Through to Abundance

The reverse, of course, is what we get when we are NOT working on looking like Jesus. The Word of God is our textbook for God-likeness (godliness). When we are ready to learn, to follow in obedience, to be discerning in our own lives concerning sin of any kind, then we will read it, study it, memorize it, fall in love with it, and find ourselves desperate without it. Are you there? You can be today. All you have to do is open it up and allow Him to speak to you. Start with Romans 12, then go to 1 john. Read John 10 to hear Jesus’ own words.

Bruce Wilkinson also says this:

“Do you want more abundance? More is always possible, but you’ll have to do something opposite of what you’re currently doing. You’ll have to cooperate with God’s ways and respond in obedience and trust.”
― Bruce H. Wilkinson, Secrets of the Vine: Breaking Through to Abundance

C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers through pleasure but shouts through pain. Sometimes our Father has to shout.” We would do well to begin NOW rather than make the Father shout for us to hear Him. One more quote:

“What percentage of Christians do you think have experienced scourging? It may shock you to read that God scourges “every son.”
― Bruce H. Wilkinson, Secrets of the Vine: Breaking Through to Abundance

Let’s learn those hard lessons BEFORE we take the fall. Solomon promises, “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trust in the LORD.” Proverbs 16:20

Abba, You KNOW I need this teaching to be manifest in my own life. May I heed Your voice and stay stuck to Your side, especially when the draw of temptation is at its strongest. Help me to step back, take a walk, pray, and allow You to guide me back to the path of righteousness. It’s where I want to be. Thank You for Your guidance and encouragement! Amen.

Proverbs 16 5-16-20

If you had known that Christ wanted your entire life, would you have given Him your heart? Will you today?

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.

We don’t give Him our ideas–we ask Him for HIS plan! We must back up enough in our minds to include Him in the forming of our ideas. The best way to do this is to read His Word, because it is there that we find God’s expressed will and desires. For instance,

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus wants us to come to Him with all we have and are. We can trust Him. He has our best interests at heart.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

It is God’s heart that every person on earth come to him in repentance (turning away from our sin and turning to Him, being contrite over the way we have lived and ready to do things His way). This “turning to Him” is how we should pray. We have this promise, “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” Isaiah 66:2. Also, we need to be ready to be part of the solution.

Let’s talk about being part of the solution. What does that look like?

  1. We must be in on the huddle. Ask God what He is up to in people’s lives: The president, the cabinet, Congress, our capitol, our city, our church, our family and friends. Allow Him to guide you to the person/people with which He wants to use you.
  2. We must be willing to be involved. “Selective Service” is what I call it when we pick and choose how God can use us. THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS. Dead people don’t have preferences. We have been crucified with Christ; we no longer live, but Christ lives through us (Galatians 2:20). Got it? Good.
  3. We must be ready to give all. Jesus has given us resources–but, for what? To make us comfortable? Maybe a little. He DOES love us and we are His children. But, we are to be willing to use EVERY resource we have been given if called on by Him. Everything we do is being watched by a lost world. We need to demonstrate Christ in everything we do, from what we give financially to His work (the church, missions, ministries, etc) to our time and even our lives. Are we ready to “take it on the chin” if society becomes anti-Christian?

I heard someone say the other day that First-Century Christians would have laughed at our restriction about not being able to meet as a church. True, that. It could be a LOT worse. Let’s be intentional about praising and serving our LORD whether sequestered or public. We begin by spending quality time with Him in private prayer and Bible study. Folks, we can’t get around it: We Need That Time With Him. Let’s make it happen.

The tyranny of the urgent will keep us from looking ahead and seeing with spiritual eyes. For instance, driving in from the Tri-City area on I-44, I can get to daydreaming–I know, you’re astonished. Anyway, when I see the sign for 74th Street exit, I will take it without thinking about the fact that I really want I-240. So, I have to go down to May, turn left, and then get on I-240. It doesn’t “hurt,” but I do lose about 3 minutes. Had I been focused on where I was going, I would have paid better attention. Consider this verse from today’s chapter:

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

Let’s not live our lives in a haphazard manner. If we do, then we will be conformed to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2a). Instead, let’s transform our minds (Romans 12:2b) by washing them in the water of the Word (Ephesians 5:26). Let’s focus (fix our eyes–Hebrews 12:1-2) on Jesus and make Him the Object of our attention and our faith. Let’s be intentional about our walk with Him. Committing everything we do to the LORD will make us successful in His eyes. Is there anything better?!

Abba, there is nothing more satisfying and gratifying than sensing Your presence and “hearing” Your voice. Stepping back from the world, quieting my soul, and turning my attention to You is a pattern and habit I want! Help me to cultivate it as I walk through today. And tomorrow. And the next day, etc. More of You, less of me.  Amen. “He must increase; I must decrease.” John 3:30. 

Proverbs 16 4-16-20

Let’s say it, “I desire to be like Christ today.” Now ask Him to show you how to be like Him. Let Him live through you. “LORD Jesus, I give all I know of myself to all I know of You. Reveal more of myself and more of You to me, and tomorrow, I will give You that, too.”

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

I like to link these two verses together: If I delight in the LORD and He gives me the desires of my heart, which is to be like Him and to do His will, then my plans will be His plans and whatever I do will be established by Him.

We are all probably familiar with James 1:19, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” I want to focus on the NEXT verse:

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James 1:20

  1. Get rid of all moral filth- We cannot have it both ways. We can either be like the world or be like God. HE sets the standard of morality. We must REJECT all immorality in whatever form it comes. For instance, provocative ads keep popping up on my Yahoo mail page. So, today I upgraded to Yahoo Pro ad-free email for $3.49 a month. Why? Because I am willing to do whatever it takes to rid my life of all moral filth. Robin and I do the same thing on TV. We have PureFlix (which has “The Chosen,” a MUST-SEE for all Christians) and Hallmark Now as our go-to’s for evening entertainment.*
  2. Humbly accept the Word planted in you- We MUST read His Word! If we don’t read His Word, then we severely restrict the Spirit’s access to our lives. When we read His Word, we “face the right direction” and open our eyes and ears to His Spirit. We engage the LORD face to face! READ, READ, READ, people! The key word here is “humbly.” Are you willing to humble yourself before the LORD? If so, then be ready for Him to lift you up! James 4:10. Let the Word grow like a mustard seed in your soul. Matthew 13:31-32
  3. Which can save you- Here’s the bottom line. Do you want to be saved from moral wreckage? Then be obedient to this verse! Accept the sweet fellowship of His Spirit and the satisfaction of doing the right thing. His smile is worth any discomfort or inconvenience!

Let’s give all we know of ourselves to all we know of Christ today. Let’s begin with making His plans our plans. Let’s delight ourselves in Him in His Word, and listen for His urging to rid our lives of any immoral tendencies and distractions–if not downright strongholds. Our journey continues today with a step. Let’s take it with the LORD and follow Him, staying close to His side.

Dear LORD, may I be the first to heed this advice and make Your plans my plans. May I delight myself in Your Word and in Your presence. May I continue to rid my life of any distractions that Satan puts out there. And may I stay close to Your side as we walk together on the Salvation Road, the true Highway to Heaven. Amen.

*I would be interested to know what else is out there as Christian alternatives.

Proverbs 16 3-16-20

Do you have an appetite for learning? God would have us always desiring to know Him more and better.

26 The appetite of laborers/learners/students works for them; their hunger drives them on.

Our desire to know The LORD comes from the Spirit within us. He gives us first the desire to know Him and then the power to do His will. “for it is God/Jesus/Spirit who works in you to will [desire] and [the power] to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians  2:13.

This desire is what drives us to seek Him, to follow Him, and to be like Him. The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” Proverbs 4:18. It also keeps us from slipping morally, ethically, and spiritually. What we don’t realize is that the tendency of this world is to degenerate–it’s dying. We must always be vigilant about our relationship/walk with the LORD. The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep them from going down to the grave.” Proverbs 15:24. The Christian life is much like paddling upstream. If we stop paddling, even for a moment, we lose momentum and then begin to drift backwards.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6. This promise is our starting point for every quiet time with the LORD. We must determine in our hearts that He is worth seeking. Once we do that, the Holy Spirit will lead us into prayer (conversation with God; intimate communication), Bible study, Christian fellowship, service, and worship; He will lead us out of sinful habits, away from the influence of sinful people, and into the light of His love.

How much does God love us? Consider this:

The End of Entropy

It is my belief that when sin entered the world, God enacted the second law of thermodynamics, which is for everything to degenerate (die). He did this not as a curse, but as a result of the removal of the Holy Spirit from the physical universe. I doubt if Satan knew about the law, and when he took over Eden, he found out too late that it would happen. It is God’s safeguard that Satan would not rule forever and that we would not be forever bound in a sinful state. Death is, indeed, our enemy, but it also gives us the opportunity to be free. Only GOD could work such an ingenious plan! It is what Aslan* refers to as “the deeper magic.”

Even deeper is the mystery of Salvation through the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is through His death that we can have new life! As we look into the life of our Savior, we gain knowledge of His love, His grace, and His Plan for us. At the same time, we gain wonder, amazement, awe, and gratefulness“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1a.

Today, if you are prompted, read Ephesians 1:1-10. You will find that we are:

  • Blessed
  • Chosen
  • Lavished with Grace
  • Redeemed and Forgiven
  • The recipients of His glorious plan “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” v.10

If you keep reading, you will find that we are marked in Him with the seal of the Holy Spirit, who is our deposit guaranteeing our inheritance with Christ (v. 13-14).

God has great plans for us. Let’s dig into His Word and find out what they are!

Abba, as I read Your Word, I hear Your voice as You call my attention to different aspects and nuances of meaning. You help me to piece together with other Scriptures Your wonderful truths. You haven’t hidden them from me; it’s just that I am only maturing at a certain rate which You know, and You only reveal that which I can grasp. Thank You that You are such a wonderful TEACHER! I have that in writing in John 14:26! Lead me, LORD, and I will follow. Amen.

*Aslan is the representative lion-figure of Jesus in, “The Chronicles of Narnia,” by C.S. Lewis.

Proverbs 16 2-16-20

What are we willing to give up for Christ’s plan to save sinners? Time? Money? Stuff? Schedules? Our very lives?

20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.

When we became Christians, we died and our lives became all about Him. If this was not explained to you before you chose Christ, I am sorry. I pray that you have grown enough in Christ to realize that He is WORTHY. To follow Christ, we must be willing to give up our homes and lives, our family, and to not look back.

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Homes and lives.

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Family

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62 Don’t look back.

Our memories tend to be selective when looking back. The children of Israel pined for Egypt in the desert; they “forgot” the slavery part of Egypt.

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” Numbers 11:4-6

They were being fed directly by God with manna and they complained about the food and the service! Be wary of those who would minimize God’s graciousness!

What we need to remember when we do ponder our past is this:

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. Titus 3:3

Instead, let us strive to be this way:

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. Titus 3:1-2

Why? Because of what Christ has done for us!

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7

Folks, that is reason enough to follow Him! But there’s an even bigger reason:

 

9 And they sang a new song [to Jesus], saying:

You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased for God
    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
    and they will reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
    and honor and glory and praise!”

 

We worship Jesus Christ, Yeshua Messiah, because HE IS WORTHY. We love Him because HE IS WORTHY. We serve Him because HE IS WORTHY. As we go to our respective churches today, may we praise the name of Jesus because HE IS WORTHY!

Dear LORD Jesus, Your Spirit bears witness to my spirit that YOU ARE WORTHY! May my entire life be wrapped around this truth. Direct me as You see fit, LORD. I give up everything and everyone for YOU. “I have set my face like flint” and will not look back upon anything in my life and wish to return. To YOU, O LORD, be all power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise in my life. Amen.

 

Proverbs 16 1-16-20

Blessing the LORD makes our relationship with Him come alive. Sensing His Spirit in us is what knowing Him is all about!

6 Through [our] love [actions] and [His daily] faithfulness sin is atoned for [eliminated from our lives]; through the fear of the LORD evil is avoided.

Our sin was dealt with on the cross. It was not merely covered over as it was in pre-cross days; it has been washed away! Cancelled! Not held against us anymore! We are as if we had never sinned. We have been justified: Just-as-if-I’d never sinned. GRACE ABOUNDS!

But, what about my daily living that has plenty of sin in it? Selfishness, greed, giving in to temptation, obsession, hatred, conniving, and any other sin we can think of is still pretty evident in our lives. Just because it is not held against us anymore doesn’t mean that we can go on sinning. The apostle Paul said in Romans 6,

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

With the Holy Spirit in us,

we have the desire and the power

to overcome sin in our lives.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Each morning, and throughout the day, we should remind ourselves that we have been crucified with Christ. Our lives are not our own. Instead, we ask Him to lead us into righteousness.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

We do not have to worry about losing our salvation. The thing that should worry us the most is losing our desire to please Him. How do we get motivated to please Him?

  1. Consider what Christ has done for you in order to make you His.
  2. Remember that He lives inside of us! He is with us every step of every day–and in every decision we make and carry out.
  3. Read His Word for a fresh perspective each day. He speaks to us through His Word; He washes us with the water of the Word; He fills us with love, joy, peace and hope through the grace imparted to us as we read His Word.
  4. Sing praises to the LORD. Engage your soul in worship. If you play an instrument, play Him a praise song. If you sing, sing Him a love song. If you have availability to Christian music, listen and worship Him. The more we fill our lives with encouraging and uplifting music and messages, the easier it is to remain focused on Him throughout the day (and night).

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

In order for sin to no longer be our master, we must learn to overcome sin. How?

  1. Admit to God it’s a problem. Know that He doesn’t shame you nor is He disappointed in you every time you fail. He KNOWS it’s a problem and He wants to help us learn to overcome it.
  2. Read every verse you can find about the sin in the Bible.
  3. Find out how others who struggled with it overcame it. Be discreet…
  4. Set up guard rails to help keep you from getting too close to the edge. If a certain place tempts you, then find a different route to take. Don’t drive by that donut shop! I, personally, have to stay away from the one at 104th and Santa Fe.
  5. Talk conversationally to Him about it. He longs for the interaction with you. It’s WHY He saved you!

With Christ, it’s about doing it together. If we try to do it FOR Him, then we miss the point of the exercise. He wants to help us be overcomers by infusing us with His Power even as we enjoy His Presence and Participation in our lives. We ARE becoming more like Christ. We have His promise:

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen [what Christ is doing in us], since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Abba, I speak from experience about this topic. I am not immune to temptations. In fact, I struggle with them everyday, as You well know. I have learned to walk with You and listen to Your voice, which has helped a lot! It’s still hard, LORD, but I have Your promise that someday I will be just like You in righteousness and holiness. May I be You to others. Amen.

 

Proverbs 16 12-16-19

Do you have the right kind of salvation? Didn’t know there were different brands? Actually, there’s only one RIGHT way.

1 To man belongs the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.

What we think constitutes salvation, our version of what it takes to be saved, is our opinion. The problem is that it doesn’t matter; what matters is what is actually true. The story of salvation is much bigger than anything we can conceive.

God had salvation set up from before time began. The Lamb of God was slain before the foundations of the world were ever laid! Jumping from the end of the story to the beginning of the story: “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” Revelation 13:8. Other corroborating verses are 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 4:3c, and 1 Peter 1:20.

God was working His plan all through early history. We can follow the scarlet thread (His bloodline) in Matthew 1:17 and Luke 3:23-37, Joseph’s lineage and Mary’s lineage respectively. From Adam to Abraham, from Jacob to David and from there it splits: Joseph comes from Solomon and Mary comes from Nathan.

The prophecy of salvation came through Moses, as well. Let’s look at a passage from Deuteronomy:

29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

Yes, there are things that only God knows; that should be obvious. But, there are many things He has revealed to us, especially concerning salvation.

30:1 When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes[a] and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors.

This passage has been taken to mean the time that the LORD brought the children of Israel out of Babylon, and it certainly does carry that tone. But, there is a major discrepancy between that Return and the Return that we have seen in recent days: This dispersion was more than just in Babylon; it was to the far ends of the earth.

 The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendantsso that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you. You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, 10 if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

In this passage, we see a partial fulfillment today: God has called His children home to Israel, but many–most– are secular in belief. Also, there is no way for them to practice sacrifices, so God must have something else in mind: He has made it personal. It is now a personal decision to follow the LORD.

11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

For the best interpretation of verses 11-14, let’s go to Romans 10:5-13.

Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.”[a] But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”[b] (that is, to bring Christ down)

No one can ascend into heaven except Christ who has already come down and had gone back up to heaven and sits at God’s right hand.

 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’”[c] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

No one can be released from Hades except Christ who has already risen from the dead!

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[d] that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim:If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,”

This declaration means much more than just an intellectual assent or acknowledgement. It is a verbal contract between you and the Savior for eternity declaring your allegiance to Him from this day forward. You are swearing fealty to Him as your LORD.*

 and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 

Believing that Jesus rose from the dead is foundational for Christianity. If we don’t believe in a literal resurrection, then we are not really Christians.

10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of alland richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[f]

So, salvation for both Jew and Gentile pivots on these action points:

  1. We believe in our hearts and with our minds that Jesus is who He says He is, which is God in the flesh and God’s son through Mary, that He did what He said He would do, which is die for us on a cross and then rise again three days later.
  2. We place our faith and trust in Him to save us by verbally pledging our lives to Him, believing that He will live through us via the Holy Spirit who comes to take up residence in our hearts.

We go through this process once for salvation. We go through it daily for sanctification, which is the process of becoming like Christ by allowing Him to live through us.

What I find so interesting is that the Jews were promised the SAME METHOD of SALVATION through Christ that we were given–1450 years before the first Christmas! NOW, Paul’s teaching in Galatians and Ephesians about Christ making the two ONE makes sense! Let’s praise the LORD today for so great a salvation!

Abba, please keep opening our minds and hearts to the truths in Your Word. Keep giving us new revelations both collectively and personally. Your Word is so exciting when You explain it! Love You. Amen.

*Fealty-Stemming from the Latin word “fidelitas,” the noun fealty is related to “fidelity,” and is another way of saying “loyalty” or “faithfulness.” Feudal lords used to require it of their vassals.

Proverbs 16 11-16-19

To further our knowledge, we read books or “google it;” we may even look on YouTube. What about our faith?

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

Where do we look to further our faith? Is there a book in the Bible that declares itself as a faith-furtherer? Look no further than Titus! Paul states at the very beginning of his letter: Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— What knowledge can we expect to find in the letter to Titus?

  •  Many claim to know God, but their deeds will bear out the truth (1:15-16)
  • The Gospel put forth in a very straightforward way (2:11-14)
  • A reminder to be subject to rulers and authorities (3:1)
  • To slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone (3:2)
  • We get a very honest description of who we were without Christ (3:3)
  • We also get a great description of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives (3:4-7)
  • He warns us not to argue about foolish controversies and arguments (3:9)

A person may wonder how Paul got to be so smart concerning God’s ways. Let’s see:

  1. He was of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews
  2. Trained by Gamaliel, a noted teacher of the day
  3. In regard to the law, a Pharisee, which carries a great deal of import and insight into the life of Paul. Pharisees devoted themselves to the study of the Scriptures and the added laws, both the written and the oral law plus the laws that they wrote to keep people away from breaking the other laws. All that to say, Paul knew the Scriptures.

Once Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was given a call to go to the Gentiles with the Gospel. He was also shown much of the story of the ages by Christ Himself. “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Acts 9:16 He was also taken into heaven and shown much that he related to us in his letters and much more that he was not allowed to share! 2 Cor. 12:1-4

Paul knew the Scriptures and quoted them often. He used them to qualify Jesus as the Messiah and to quantify the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike. We would do well to learn the Scriptures as he knew them. Here’s a “starter kit” from King David’s 119th Psalm:

Psalm 119:33 Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. May we finish well by following closely all the way to the end of our lives.

34 Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. This was Jesus’ own heart. It’s what He asked us to do in John 14:15, 23, and 15:10.

35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. The more I get of God, the more I want. The more I want, the more He gives. It’s a never-ending cycle!

36 Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Keep my eyes focused on You, O Lord. There are lots of sparkly things around me–they are lures with hooks.

37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your wordSave me from myself, O LORD. I cannot discern nor abstain from sinful desires on my own. I need YOU!

38 Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared. I know You will, Abba. You have promised to never leave me or forsake me, and that You make me more like Jesus everyday. May I fear You and may those around me learn to fear You because I fear You.

39 Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good. By keeping me righteous, You remove the dread I have in not finishing well. Help me stay strong, O LORD.

40 How I long for your precepts! In your righteousness preserve my life. I long to hear from You concerning Your word, laws, precepts, statutes, ways, decrees and commands. Speak plainly to me, Abba. Your servant is listening.

Proverbs 16 10-16-19

Relationships are dynamic. Parts of them change while other parts remain the same. How is your relationship with Jesus?

33 The lot is cast into the lap,
    but its every decision is from the Lord.

Casting lots was a practice in ancient times to determine God’s will in a matter. We first read about it in Exodus 28:30,

30 Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord.

Nowadays, we depend upon prayer to make decisions. In our prayers, we look for confirmation through the Bible, people, circumstances, and His Spirit speaking to our spirit. We trust in the Overall Plan of God:

  1. God’s goal for us is NOT to make us happy, but to make us holy like Him. He knows that our holiness will ultimately make us the happiest.
  2. He wants us with Him. Our deaths are a blessing in that we shed these Old-Testament bodies and receive our New, glorified bodies, ones in which we can stand before His presence whole and complete–finally!
  3. His plans for us here on this earth are the vehicle He uses to interact with us. THIS IS KEY. It’s not so much about our success in doing what He asks as it is interacting with Him.

For instance: You wake up on any given morning not feeling spiritual. You want all the things you can’t have; you are self-centered and grouchy; you seem to shun anything that will help; you are NOT interested in a quiet time with the LORD. Been there? Me, too!

What do we do? We relax. We try not to act out of this mindset. Instead, we turn to our LORD and say, “Lord, I don’t feel spiritual today. I know You love me anyway. Please change my attitude.” In praying this prayer, we:

  1. Confess to Him the truth, which He already knows.
  2. We acknowledge His undying, unwavering love for us.
  3. We ask for help.

Now, we wait upon Him. He will guide our next steps. Whether it’s going back to bed, drinking another cup of coffee, turning on some uplifting music, watching a favorite preacher on YouTube, reading a favorite psalm, or even setting our minds on what is needed and pressing through our funk, we trust that His Spirit is leading us and healing us.

Another thing we must remember is that our knowledge is limited and its direction will change with what we are learning at any given time. For instance, many times, my emphasis waffles between God’s sovereignty and election of the saints and His desire for us to choose Him. I find a verse that leads me down a path only to find another verse that leads me in a different direction. Am I sinning to think wrongly for so long and then find a deeper truth? I don’t think so. As long as I love God and trust that He loves me, that I converse with Him constantly and listen for His voice in others, in His Word, in my spirit, and in circumstances, I KNOW that we are good. I know that I have a lot to learn and that much of it will be learned on the other side of life.

Let’s keep the main thing the main thing: Our interaction with the Spirit is Paramount. Stay in contact with Him ALL THE TIME. The writer of Hebrews said it this way:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Paul said, Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory [our promise that everything will turn out fine]. Col. 3:-4

Abba, I know I’ll never be on this earth what You have in store for me in heaven. That’s the point of heaven. May I make our relationship, our interaction, my highest priority. I know that even if I don’t do things perfectly, I will be obedient to Your Spirit, and that’s enough for me. My goal is not to be perfect, but to be filled with You: Your love, joy and peace, Your patience, kindness and goodness, Your faithfulness, gentleness and Your self-control, Your righteousness and Your truth. Fill me with thankfulness, Lord. May I bask in Your mercy and grace. Amen.

Proverbs 16 9-16-19

Who runs your life? If you are not checking with the Spirit every so often each day, then I would say YOU are.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. NLT

There are two sides to this statement. One is the side of making our plans. Are we including the Lord in these decisions? Are we asking Him for guidance and seeking precedent in His Word? Are we seeking wisdom and experience from godly people? Are we staying pliable as we work toward a goal? All of these questions have to do with the second side of the statement. God will either be a happy participant in our decision-making process, or He will be the judge of our arrogant ways.

We are reminded in this chapter that “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall (18).” Even our viewpoint needs to be different than the world, “(19) Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” Our job as Christians is to be Christ to those around us. Some of it has to do with our response to people’s actions, but most of it has to do with our response to people’s words. Are we responding or reacting?

Reaction- “a reverse movement or tendency; an action in a reverse direction or manner.” Dictionary.com The idea is to fight kind with kind, such as fire with fire. The world teaches to meet the force with equal or more force, i.e. with “extreme prejudice.” This is NOT the way of Christ.

Response- “an answer or reply, as in words or in some action.” Dictionary.com To do it Christ’s way means that we must think about what He wants us to say, and to do it in a tone that conveys what He wants us to convey.

Displaying Christ to the world is begging for trouble. Yet, it is EXACTLY what He asks us to do. We must depend upon the Holy Spirit to be involved in people’s lives as He uses us to convict their hearts. Will they acknowledge and receive His Spirit? We don’t know. We are simply part of the process for which we signed up–you did, didn’t you?! Salvation is about forgiveness of sins and a home in heaven, but it’s MUCH MORE than than. It’s a mission to become little Christs here on earth. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the world is through us, the Church. We are extensions of Christ, ambassadors for Him to the world.

Here are some key verses pertaining to this calling:

20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20

18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.” John 15:18-21

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you [put you into action], as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good [as the Spirit directs]. 1 Peter 4: 12-16, 19

If we walk closely with Christ for very long, we will meet people who are opposed to Christ and even hostile to Christ. Let’s be Christ to them. We will also meet people who profess Christ, but do not know Him personally; they have not made Him their Lord. Let’s be Christ to them. We will also meet people who know Him and serve Him and we have sweet fellowship with them. Let’s be Christ to them, as well.

Lord Jesus, as we walk through this day, how may I serve You best? Put me in positions to encourage, inspire, and instruct. May I be You to those around me. Use me as You see fit, O Lord. You are my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.