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.