Proverbs 3-16-23

To build or not to build, how to build, and in what order? These are questions that our church is having to answer.

Building projects are exciting times. There’s an air of anticipation and expectation of newness in all areas, not just in the physical building. Much of this newness comes in the body itself, but not like they might expect. Building projects call for us to practice loving each other in ways and to extremes that are way out of our comfort zones. We’re not often called upon in such a manner, so here we go!

As we do, I would like to establish some biblical ground rules for how we talk to each other, the manner in which we refer to each other, and even when it is appropriate to talk about certain aspects of the building project with each other.

  1. Our priority as the body of Christ is to exhibit His love to our community, to our families, and to each other. If we do not demonstrate this love and aren’t careful to build each other up, then we have failed before we even begin work on a physical building.
  2. Our church has a structure that we follow, much like our government, but also like a family. We must work within that structure if we are to honor the Lord by honoring each other.
  3. Christ has given us specific protocols to follow when we discuss matters. These protocols are non-negotiables toward implementing our church’s motto: “Loving God, Loving Each Other.”

What are these protocols, you may ask. Let’s look at one of them today:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 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. Philippians 2:1-5a

  • We need to be encouraged and encouragers; that encouragement comes from the Spirit of Christ in unity, which is oneness of spirit.
  • We need the comfort of His love and to be comforters, which happens when we are one in the Spirit.
  • Our common sharing in the Spirit comes when we realize that nothing is actually ours individually, but part of a whole that is Christ’s.
  • Our joy is made complete when we prioritize being like-minded, having the same love, and are one in spirit and mind (even when we might not agree on some details).
  • How do we attain such joy? By doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. We cannot hold ourselves higher than our brothers and sisters. In fact, we must do the opposite by humbly valuing others above ourselves. We cannot look to our own interests and look to other’s interests at the same time.
  • Christ’s mindset was humility; ours must be the same.

I heard an interesting perspective today. A fellow was talking about the metaphor of the church being a hospital. He said that this analogy tends to lead people to believe that the pastor is the doctor. Not so. Jesus is the Great Physician; if anything, the pastor is the chief nurse, and we his staff. When it comes to making plans for building, we must all seek the guidance of the Chief Architect and Builder, Jesus Christ. He framed the universe and hung the stars; He holds every molecule together by His power. Surely, He knows what we need and how to achieve it. So, we begin in prayer asking for His leadership.

Abba, we come to You in humility. We acknowledge that we do not know everything, and we admit our tendency to insist on our way. Even when we think our plan is altruistic and is for the benefit of everyone, we still need to step back and allow You to work Your plan in everyone. The building project is important, but even more important are the lessons in humility and self-sacrificial love that we are about to learn. May we excel in them! In and with Your Spirit, I know we will. Thank You in advance. Amen.

Proverbs 2-16-23

To know more about God, we study His handiwork. The heavens and the earth ARE His handiwork.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

We continue our study of “Person of Interest” by J. Warner Wallace.

Igniter #1: Christ Followers Believed Matter Was Good and Worthy of Study.

Igniter #2: Christ Followers Believed Their World Was the Product of a Singular, Orderly, Rational God.

Igniter #3: Christ Followers Believed God Was Distinct From His Creation.

Igniter #4: Christ Followers Were Motivated by Their Desire to Worship the God of the Universe.

These igniters continue on page 188 through 190,

Igniter #5: Christ Followers Believed They Could Better Understand God by Observing His Activity in the “Book of Nature.” Christian scientists held both books in high regard (the book of Scripture and the book of natural revelation). They wanted to read these books correctly, understand them clearly, and share them precisely. They considered their scientific findings to be revelations about the nature and activity of God in the natural world.

Igniter #6: Christ Followers Pursued Physical and Intellectual Investigations of Their Environment. Most Greeks and Romans considered manual labor fit only for slaves. If ancient scientific theories were to be tested, empirical research (involving manual activity) would be required. This kind of empirical research (involving physical experiments) emerged quickly, however, in the earliest Christian educational facilities. The University of Bologna, for example, began dissecting human cadavers regularly in the Middle Ages. This shift from purely intellectual reasoning toward physical experimentation is unsurprising given that many of the earliest university professors and lecturers were Christian monks who had been steeped in a tradition of physical labor and didn’t view matter as inherently evil. These monks weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, and they saw empirical research as an extension of their physical work and divine duty.

Igniter #7: Christ Followers Created a Place to Advance the Sciences. Scientific experimentation and discovery blossomed when like-minded scholars and students gathered in the context of modern universities. These institutions were the invention of Jesus followers (see Proverbs 2-12-23). Without this educational advancement, scientific discovery would not have flourished, nor would scientific information have been transmitted effectively from one generation to the next. When Christians established modern universities, they ignited the progress of science.

These seven attributes (see yesterday’s post for the first 4) of the worldview Jesus initiated account for an obvious truth: Jesus followers have had an oversized impact on the sciences.

Tomorrow, we will take a peak at scientific disciplines that were begun by Christians.

Abba, our Christian forefathers took Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” seriously concerning the study of Your natural world. What I find most interesting is the advancement of technology and its propensity to prove Your Word is true. From the Telescope to the electron microscope, You are GOD, King of the Universe. Jesus, we praise You even as You hold the universe together! Amen.

Proverbs 16 1-16-23

Are we righteous because of our righteous acts, or do we do righteous acts because we are righteous?

11 Since everything will be destroyed [torn down and remade] in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. 2 Peter 3:11-12

How righteous is Jesus Christ on a scale of one to a hundred? Wouldn’t we all agree that Jesus is 100% righteous? Jesus was tempted in every way, but was without sin (Hebrews 4:14-15). These verses also answer the question of whether or not temptation is sin. That answer would be no.

How righteous are you on a scale of one to a hundred? Before you answer, consider this passage:

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. Ephesians 5:26-27

  • Have you noticed that Christ loved the church even before Pentecost? That’s because the church is the ekklesia, the assembly of His people, which has always included His followers beginning with Adam and progressing through Abraham to Moses, to David, to Jesus, to Pentecost. The first “assembly” was at Mount Sinai by Moses when he went up to receive the commandments (Exodus 35:1). Jesus has always loved His people (even before the law was given to them).
  • The reason for Christ’s sacrifice was to make mankind holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word, who is Jesus (John 1:1-5). God has always been about redeeming His creation, His children.
  • We will be presented to Christ by Christ; we are His Bride and He is our Bridegroom. Don’t ask me how that works!
  • Look at the description of the Bride: glorious, without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish, holy and without fault. We find a similar description in Jude 24 (“great joy” is added to the list).

Add to the pot this verse:

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin [a sin offering] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

If Jesus was 100% righteous, and we have become His righteousness, then we have 100% of His righteousness. So, let me ask again, how righteous are we on a scale of one to a hundred? We are 100’s! Because of His indwelling Spirit of righteousness, we don’t have to sin (willingly rebel). We can live the victorious Christian life! All we have to do is listen to and obey His Spirit. We will spend our whole lives learning to do just that.

Abba, You are amazing. To become Your righteousness is inconceivable. I don’t feel righteous–but that doesn’t discount the fact that You say that I am. May we realize that we live in your righteousness every day, all the time. Amen.

Proverbs 16 12-16-22

“The Branch of the Lord” is our topic today. It’s too bad that we all don’t speak Hebrew. It would make things much clearer.

22 Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.” 23 They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter. Genesis 42:22-23

Yesterday, we left off at Isaiah 4:2-4 and the Branch. Let’s read it again,

In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire.

John the Baptizer made reference to this verse when describing Jesus in Matthew 3:11. In that passage, we find this reference to the Branch of the Lord. What does it mean? From,

…it may be that Matthew is associating the word Nazarene with the Hebrew word netser (“branch or sprout”). The “Branch” was a common term for the Messiah, such as in Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” Hebrew was written with only consonants, and netser would have appeared as NZR—the same main consonants as Nazareth. In fact, in Aramaic, the common language of Jesus’ day, the word for “Nazareth” and the Hebrew word for “branch” sounded very much alike. Matthew’s point could be that Jesus was “sprouting up” from an obscure village in Galilee; Jesus was the Branch predicted by the prophets, and the name of the town He grew up in happens to sound just like the prophets’ word for “branch.”

For a comprehensive study on this subject, go to Proverbs 10 12-10-21 and Proverbs 11 12-11-21.

Matthew was doing what every good Jewish boy did. John, too. Jesus, too. They used references from the Old Testament Scriptures to represent larger portions. When John mentioned the Holy Spirit and fire, he was calling attention to the Messianic passage from Isaiah. Winnowing was the process of separating wheat from chaff. We see it in Judges with Gideon winnowing in a wine press. The idea of Jesus winnowing was that He would call into judgment the children of Israel, those who would believe in Him (wheat) and those who wouldn’t (chaff) . As Jesus began His ministry, He called the people of Israel to repent (stop and change how you think), to believe in Him as Messiah, and to follow Him, taking up His ways.

Let’s do that, shall we?

Abba, call me to repentance as I study Your Word, as I learn to put what You have said into practice, as I listen and receive from the Holy Spirit insight, discernment, understanding, and wisdom, and as I strive to obey His nudges, restraint, and correction. We are all in training, Abba. Train us up in the way we should go. Amen.

Proverbs 16 11-16-22

What does a person have to do for you to trust him? Time + believable behavior? God has put in the time and the believable behavior!

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

“For God so loved the world…(John 3:16). Have you ever wondered how much He loved? First of all, although it’s written in past tense, it is present tense, as well. God is Omnipresent, which means that He is everywhere at the same time–speaking of time, it’s included. God is ever-present in history. He sees everyone who ever lived or will live at the same “time.” Mind-blowing, right?! As I see it, John put the verse in past tense because Jesus’ coming was past tense. But, God’s love for us is as strong as ever.

By the way, Him being able to “know the end from the beginning” allows Him to know when we will finally quit that bad habit, or finally forgive someone (or ourselves). He rejoices in our final victory. It’s why God cannot be disappointed in us. He calls us His little children for a reason: We are all growing (Ephesians 4:16).

The verse gives the impression that God and Jesus are separate entities. Not So! They are God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit, Three-in-one. Don’t believe me? Philip didn’t. He asked Jesus to show them the Father. Here is Jesus’ response,

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
John 14:8-10

God loved us enough to come after us–as Jesus. Now, the parable of the lost sheep makes sense,

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:3-7

The next time that someone–a “friend,” an adversary, the devil, your past, your sin nature–tells you that you are not worth saving, check out John 3:16,

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, 
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Do you believe in Him? He believes in you. Do you trust Him? He trusts you. When we trust Christ, He gives us His life, which is Himself in the form of the Spirit. We receive eternal life the moment we trust Jesus. There’s no way to lose! Let’s trust Jesus from now on, shall we?

Abba, I trust You. The more I trust You, the more trustworthy You are, which makes me want to trust You even more! It’s a wondrous cycle, one in which I want to be “stuck” forever. Oh, I can? Thank You! Amen.

Tomorrow: Trusting requires “No Fear.”

Proverbs 16 10-16-22

Like a good breakfast, starting the day off right spiritually requires some time spent in His Word.

103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalm 119:103

The mastering of my mind and body is a daily struggle. I know I need help, so I begin with verses that tell me from Whom my help comes and how I am to master them.

Here is part of my daily prayers:

O Lord, I pray that Christ be formed in me (Galatians 4:19), that I be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), transformed into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18), and that I be made new in the attitude of my mind (Ephesians 4:22-24).

I want to be made holy, cleansed by the washing of the water of the Word (Ephesians 5:26) and saved by the washing of rebirth and the renewal of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5-6) as I wait for the blessed hope, being purified into one of Your very own, eager to do what is good (Titus 2:13-14).

I know that outwardly, I am wasting away, but inwardly, I am being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16), transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2).

I groan to be clothed in my heavenly dwelling where death is swallowed up by life; I was fashioned for this reason and given the Holy Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. While I am away from the You, Lord, and present in this body, I live by faith and not by sight; I long to be away from this body and present with You, Abba, but either way, I live to please You (2 Corinthians 5:4-7).

In the meantime, I discipline my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (1 Corinthians 9:27). I know that it is “not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6).” I live according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh (Romans 8:4) because I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. This life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loves me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

It’s a good start each day. It reminds me of the prayer by the elderly saint who prayed, “Lord, so far today I haven’t lied, stolen, cheated, cussed, or done anything to dishonor Your name…but I’m about to get out of bed now, and I’m gonna need Your help! Amen.”

We would do well to do the same.

Abba, You know my heart–which isn’t pretty, but my desire is to be like You. Please give me the desires of my heart as I delight myself in You each day (Psalm 37:4). Amen.

Proverbs 16 9-16-22

The Lord’s Day is not the Sabbath, but can be like the Sabbath in rest and celebration of Christ’s resurrection.

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people…Acts 20:7

God established our week to be seven days long with one day of rest. Jews have celebrated Sabbath on the last day of the week (Saturday) for over 3500 years, but the concept of six days of toil and one day of rest goes all the way back to God’s creation of the heavens and the earth,

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2:2

Paul and the early Christians celebrated on the first day of the week because Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1-10). Because of all three of these traditions, we have this statute in the Baptist Faith & Message:

VIII. The Lord’s Day

The first day of the week is the Lord’s Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord’s Day should be commensurate with the Christian’s conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Exodus 20:8-11Matthew 12:1-1228:1ff.; Mark 2:27-2816:1-7Luke 24:1-3,33-36John 4:21-2420:1,19-28Acts 20:7Romans 14:5-10I Corinthians 16:1-2Colossians 2:163:16Revelation 1:10.

We don’t have any rules, per se, about how to celebrate the Lord’s Day, but we do have customs, such as congregating for fellowship, worship, teaching, ministry and evangelism–and eating. We do a lot of eating. Whether we meet on Sunday or another day, for one service or for two, early or late, dressed up or casual, traditional or contemporary music, we meet to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection, to pledge ourselves anew to Him, and to affirm to the world our faith in Christ’s imminent return (since I lead the music at my church, I’m particularly fond of the worship time).

I pray you look forward to a weekly get-together with other Christians to celebrate our Lord Jesus Christ. One thing that helps is to spend time daily reading His Word and fellowshipping with Him on a personal and private level. By the time Sunday rolls around, you’re raring to go!

Abba, meeting together in Your name is one of the highlights of my week. The other highlights are my personal time with You, the time I get to spend with Robin talking about spiritual matters, and my time with others discussing Your Word and in prayer. May You continue to show us “great and unsearchable things we do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). Amen.

Proverbs 16 8-16-22

Did you know that your skin weighs about ten pounds? That it’s the largest organ our body has? Read on!

24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones [a nod to yesterday’s topic].

As we continue our look at the beauty and design of our human bodies, we look at our skin.
From, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body,” pages 59-64.

You have perhaps heard that “beauty is more than skin deep.” While that is certainly true, the skin itself is beautiful and tells us a lot about people. For example, we recognize one another mostly by the skin on our face…and [our skin] covers the entire surface of our body, including our eyes, where the skin covering is conveniently transparent.

Skin is generally classified as thick skin (on the palms and soles) and thin skin (on the rest of our body). With callouses, thick skin can reach thicknesses of nearly half an inch. Thin skin varies in thickness from about 0.5 mm on the eyelid to about 2mm on the back (1 mm is about the thickness of a dime). Skin is made up of three major layers called the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. Each of these layers serves its own vitally important functions.

Epidermis–The body’s “miracle wrap”
On the surface of our bodies is a thin layer of dead cells less than the thickness of shrink wrap. These tightly welded cells serve as an extremely effective first line of defense against the outside world. Each cell is tightly attached to its neighbors on top and bottom by over a hundred little “spot welds” called desmosomes. This tight bond is necessary for the dead layer to resist wear and tear.
Below this layer are specialized cells that continually replenish the lining of dead cells.

Dermis–The body’s leather
The second layer of our body armor is the dermis, made of tough collagen fibers. These fibers are woven together like fabric to keep our skin strong and flexible (much like a double-knit fabric). This layer also houses a network of small blood vessels and sweat glands that keep our body temperature constant despite the changing extremes of the outside world. Under control of the brain, blood is diverted to fill these capillaries and dissipate heat. The regulation of heat is further aided by sweat glands that pass through both the dermis and epidermis. We have about three million sweat glands in our skin that can secrete up to about three quarts of sweat per hour. Sweat, which is largely water, evaporates off the surface of our skin, giving a cooling effect.

Hypodermis–backup and support
The third layer of our body armor provides backup and support. Here body fat is stored (at immense variances of thickness) for energy, sweat glands produce sweat, and hair grows. Strands of collagen pass through the fat of the hypodermis, anchoring the skin to underlying muscle and bone, limiting the mobility of our skin.

As we grow old, our skin loses its collagen, thus losing its stretchiness. We also tend to lose fat in our hypodermis layers, thus revealing bone structure. Don’t worry; God has new bodies awaiting us in His kingdom.

Tomorrow: Melanin–Umbrellas of Our Skin

Abba, I know that we set store by what we look like on the outside, but You set store by what’s on the inside of us, what is in our hearts and minds (1 Samuel 16:7). Right now, it’s very difficult to know people by looking at them. In heaven, could it be that we will wear who we are on the outside so that everyone will inherently know us when they meet us? There would be no strangers in heaven! I envision it that way, Lord. No more lying or deceiving–nor will we want to. It’s gonna be awesome! Amen.

Proverbs 16 7-16-22

Being like God sounds hard; in fact, it’s impossible–apart from Him. His Spirit is our Strengthener and Guide.

3 Commit your way to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans [show you what to do].

Romans 12:9-21 is a list of do’s and don’ts, but in a good way. They have to do with the character of God. In Matthew 5:48, we read,

48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

In context, Jesus was talking about loving our enemy. That “perfection” was about interacting with others. The Romans passage describes just how to do that. Today, we will deal with the first four verses,

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

How does this passage apply to our 21st century world?

  1. Be sincere. If you’re going to hate something, hate the evil that has caused the situation. Instead, cling to that good part of a person that Jesus is trying to reach.
  2. Devoted- zealous or ardent in attachment, loyalty, or affection; faithful, constant, loyal, devout. Our love must be such that we are these things to each other. The only way to do that is to “regard everybody else as your superior (NTE).” If THAT’S not counter-cultural, I don’t know what is!
  3. Want to be like Jesus? Keep your compassion and zeal to do God’s will on high all the time. “Fervor” means, great warmth and earnestness of feeling; passion. Only in the Spirit can we maintain such passion in our service to the Lord.
  4. Our hope is in the resurrection, first of Christ, and second of ourselves. In this hope, we can be joyful even in the face of death and all its subsets. Our joy helps us be patient in affliction, and it’s all wrapped up in our relationship with Jesus Christ. We call out to Him even as He reaches out to us.
  5. Because we are destined to go to His place, we have no need to accumulate and hoard earthly goods. To share hospitably means to share hilariously (with great cheerfulness; see 2 Corinthians 9:7).

Can you see Jesus in this passage? It describes Him at the well, on the road from Tyre, at Zacchaeus’ house, and in every town He came to. He wants us to be just like Him.

Tomorrow, we will look at a few more of the verses.

Abba, it’s hard to be like You when things are hard because I don’t feel like being like You at that time. Help me to look beyond my feelings to the inner power we have as Your children. As I grow and learn about You, I know that you strengthen me with all power according to Your glorious might so that I may have great endurance and patience, giving joyful thanks to You, my Father (taken from Colossians 1:9-13). Have Your way in me, I beg of You. Amen.

Proverbs 16 6-16-22

The filter of our feelings is the most difficult filter through which to see. We MUST learn to remove it in order to see clearly.

16:24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

However we are feeling shows up in our words and our actions. It can also show up in our expressions. In our words and actions, we aim to express Christ in every way. In our expressions, we aim to display Christ and His compassion for all. We might say, “But, Christ got angry.” Yes, He did. His anger was over the resistance of the religious leaders to love the Father and teach the people. What is our anger over? Not getting our way? Being offended? If we remember, Christ didn’t get His way–they killed Him! As for being offended,

20 A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice [righteousness] through to victory.

Part of the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness. I’ve worked, at the Lord’s insistence, long and hard on this one, and I still have a long way to go before it is my first response. Even so, I know I am pleasing to the Lord when I strive for it, and apologize when I am not. A lot of how we feel has to do with our expectations. Those we will deal with tomorrow. Today, let’s work really hard to show Christ on our faces, speak words of encouragement and grace, and act in a Christlike manner.

Abba, You know my goals for each day. Getting with You each morning before my day begins is how I prepare for all the opportunities I will be having to practice my goals. I want to be like You and express You in my face, my words and my actions. Transform me, Lord. PLEASE! Amen.

Proverbs 16 5-16-22

“He looked beyond my faults and saw my needs.” Great theology.

9:6 Leave your simple ways [follow Jesus] and you will live; walk in the way of [His] insight.

Whatever happened to the soldiers that were guarding the tomb? The religious leaders protected them from the governor (Matthew 28:11-15), but what about divine justice? We have no record of them beyond that point–which is exactly my point. Did God zap them for their lies about Jesus? What about the soldiers that cast lots for His clothes? Did God pour out His wrath on them? We have stories about the centurion becoming a follower of Jesus; what we actually have in print is Jesus praying for their forgiveness,

34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Luke 23:34

What did the Father do? He said, “Done!” (Psalm 22:31 and John 19:30).

What about Peter? What did Jesus do to Peter for denying Him three times? Let’s see:

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. John 21:5-6

  • The first thing He did was call him “friend.”
  • The second thing was to repeat the miracle of when Jesus called Peter into His ministry (Luke 5:1-11).
  • The third thing was to cook him breakfast, “Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast'” (21:12).
  • The fourth thing was to reinstate Peter in His ministry. He asked him three times if he loved Him. Why three times? I think it was to counteract the three times Peter disowned Christ. Each time, Jesus commanded Peter to take care of His flock (John 21:15-17).

There was no retribution; there wasn’t even a scolding. Instead, Jesus called Peter to not only continue in His ministry, but to take over the lead role of shepherd in His ministry. Now, THAT’S grace!

Why do we not think that Jesus does the same with us? Precedent has been set; let’s believe that Jesus really is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Through His Spirit, Jesus wants to walk through life with us, failures and all. Evidently, He is able to look beyond our faults and help us with our needs. What is our biggest need? Him in our lives! Let’s trust Him for daily grace and for continuous guidance.

Abba, You are wonderful! You not only forgive us, You see us as we will one day be, which is like You. Your Spirit is our Guarantee, our Trainer, and our Guide. May we listen to Him/You all the time for everything. Amen.

Proverbs 16 4-16-22

Singing our faith locks the words in our hearts. It is why we sing.

Proverbs 29:6 Evildoers are snared by their own sin,
    but the righteous sing and are glad.

Ephesians 5:18-20 …be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is an old Gospel hymn called, “Are You Washed in the Blood,” that is graphic in language, but Scripturally correct. Here is a verse from it:

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Chorus: Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless?
Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

I have heard the phrase used, “I’m covered in the blood.” I get the sentiment, but it’s actually an Old Testament term. The concept of sacrificial offerings was to “cover” Israel’s sins. Each family made sacrifices and then the high priest would offer atonement for all of Israel once a year for the “temporary atonement” of their sins. Those sacrifices could not wash away sin; it was a way to remind them that a Redeemer was coming.

Jesus came to wash us all clean with His perfect atonement. The wrath of God’s judgment was death, but to God, death is not the end. GOD HIMSELF came to “reconcile the world to Himself” (Ephesians 1:9-10) by going through death and, through His mighty power–He IS God–rising again. I take great comfort in these words,

18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Revelation 1:18

From now on, this verse from our hymn is where we live:

Are you walking daily by the Savior’s side?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the Crucified?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Abba, I love the way You love me. You have shown me how much You love me by dying on the cross, breaking my curse, and giving me eternal life. I want to walk daily by Your side and rest each moment in the beauty of the crucifixion. I look forward to worshiping You tomorrow as we commemorate Your resurrection. Amen.

Proverbs 16 3-16-22

“This world is not my home, I’m just a’passin’ through…and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”

9 In their hearts people plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Yesterday was my mother’s birthday. She has been gone 5 years now to the new kingdom. Dad beat her there by two months. I wonder if he noticed any delay or if he just looked to his side and there she was! I wonder if it will happen that way with us, too: They will look to the side and there we’ll be!

There is so much that God has promised us about heaven, but there are a few really good things:

  1. Jesus is there! We get to be with Him!
  2. No more sin nature! We will not have to fight that battle any longer.
  3. Things will be as they were meant to be. All will be restored.

One of the best verses I know is Philippians 3:20-21,

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

I tell people that these bodies are really just patch jobs until we get our new ones. Won’t that be exciting? I know it was for Mother. She suffered with Chronic Hepatitis C for over 40 years (flu-like symptoms). Dad suffered for 10 days from a stroke. Both have their glorified bodies now. I can hardly wait to see them!

As for knowing people in heaven, I not only think that we will, I think that we will intuitively know who everyone is. We will be one big, happy family! Until then, let’s hold loosely to the things of this world and hold on to Jesus for life.

One more thing: Who will be in heaven? Whoever wants to be. All a person has to do is turn and trust Christ. It’s all about knowing Him and walking with Him.

Abba, it is encouraging to think about heaven because I am sure of its reality. Your presence in my life makes me sure. Knowing You more and more fully is my goal for life in this world. I take great comfort in 1 John 3:2, which tells me that when I see You, I will be like You, for I shall see you as You are. Does everyone get the chance to see You as You are? I’ll be waiting to hear back from You on that question. Amen.

Proverbs 16 2-16-22

Why would Jesus tell them to take up their cross and follow Him? He hadn’t died on one yet!

8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.

23 Then he said to them all: 
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

Jesus made this announcement after telling the disciples what was going to happen in Jerusalem, i.e. the crucifixion. He didn’t tell them how He would die, but He did allude to the method of death with His statement.

A form of crucifixion was first used in the 6th century B.C. by the Persians, was passed on to Alexander the Great, then to the Phoenicians, who passed it onto the Romans who perfected it and used it for 500 years until Emperor Constantine put an end to it in the 4th Century A.D. About a hundred years before Jesus made His pronouncement, crucified slaves lined the Appian Way (about 350 miles) when a revolt led by Spartacus failed. Crucifixion was deemed the most cruel and demeaning way to die. Christ, indeed, took on the worst of mankind.

For Christ’s disciples to take up a cross and follow Him means that they start doing what might ultimately get them crucified–just like it did Jesus. Rarely have I heard this condition in a Gospel presentation. The problem is that to tell a person about heaven but not tell them about the cruciform way (living a crucified life) is a type of bait-and-switch, which is a sales technique that doesn’t care about the purchaser, but only about making the sale. Let’s look at the next two verses,

24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?

What does Jesus want from us? Control of our lives. Why? So that He can give us His life. It’s eternal, it’s personal, it’s joyful, it’s peaceful, and it’s fruitful. Satan makes this world look really, really, good, but there’s no substance to it. In the words of Valerie Bertinelli,

“What good is the decoration if the cake doesn’t taste good?”
(Taken from Kids’ Baking Championship)

Jesus says, “Follow Me and I will give you true life, life to it fullest” (John 10:10b). Another great quote is from Jim Elliot,

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Let’s trust Jesus and tell people the entire Gospel. They deserve to know the whole truth. Will our churches be emptier? Maybe–and maybe not!

Abba, I’m excited about losing cultural Christianity here in America. We may slim up in our churches, but I think we will be healthier in the long run. Am I happy about the changes? No, but I know that historically, Christianity grows from the blood of the martyrs. So, I choose to see a bright future for Your Church, Jesus. May many come to You because of who You are regardless of whatever persecution might come. May we ALL have this same disposition! Amen.

Proverbs 16 1-16-22

Out with the old and in with the new–Covenant, that is!

6 By [Jesus’] steadfast love and faithfulness sin is atoned for…

After saying above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have not desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will” (Psalm 40:6-8). He takes away the first in order [Covenant] to establish the second [Covenant]10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The Old Covenant pointed to Jesus. He is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant (Matthew 5:17). The writer of Hebrews gives a great explanation in 7:23-25,

23 The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

What a beautiful description of salvation: Those who draw near to God through Jesus. It’s all about the relationship. Salvation is not designed to just save a person from hell, but to re-establish the wounded relationship between God and man. Jesus came to restore the fellowship–and even took it up a level: We now have been invited to enjoy the Fellowship of the Trinity!

The writer of Hebrews goes on to say,

26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect [the oath completed] forever.

Tomorrow, we’ll begin looking at the type of offering Jesus gave for us.

Abba, thank You for making the way back to the Father. Being in the Fellowship of the Trinity is, indeed, heaven! Regardless of how I feel physically or what’s going on circumstantially, I can always enjoy that sweet fellowship. Wow! Amen.

Proverbs 16 12-16-21

Young Earth #2: Knowing why something turned out the way it did helps us establish what happened and how.

16 How much getter to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.

Yesterday, we learned that dinosaurs have been found with collagen, red blood cells, blood vessels, connective tissue, and other biodegradable parts that may last thousands of years, but not a million years, to say nothing of 10’s of millions of years. Today, we look at where they were found. The chart below is the evolutionary diagram of layers and corresponding ages on the right. On the left, we see examples of what has been found in each layer. The lowest is the single-cell animals and then progressing upward through the layers with a progression of biologically complex animals. It makes sense to look at–unless you know a few things:

  • Below the Cambrian layer there has been no life found, but in the Cambrian layer, life came bursting forth with multi-celled animals along with diverse plants, fish and crustaceans (all deposited by the Great Flood).
  • All the other layers have contained dinosaurs from different ages and sizes (again, all laid down by the Great Flood).
  • The Great Flood is not taken into account at all.
  • According to evolutionary theory, some animals evolved to help certain plants survive, like hummingbirds for certain flowers. There are two things askew with this claim:
    • In the millions of years it took to evolve the hummingbirds, those particular flowers would have never survived.
    • Evolution doesn’t work like that; a Designer does, though. Evolution takes things back to its original disassembled state. It works more like de-evolution. A Designer/Creator, on the other hand, builds things and sustains them (Colossians 1:16-17).
evolution and geologic time Diagram | Quizlet

During the Great Flood (see Genesis 6-9), the entire earth was covered with water. As the water ebbed and flowed, sand flows created layers upon layers beginning with the heaviest elements and progressing to the lightest elements. The diagram below shows the layers in the Grand Canyon–and canyons all over the planet–and how they were laid down by water. There are four things that indicate a quick layering:

  1. There is no erosion between layers.
  2. The layers are often bent, some to the point of folding.
  3. There are no burrowing-animal trails that indicate the passage of time.
  4. There is no foliage or even grass between the layers.

Also, layers such as these have been observed being made at Mount St. Helens and other places around the globe. And, when studying the different layers of the Grand Canyon, note that there are elements of layers of the same composition at the top AND the bottom of the canyon!

Startling evidence for Noahs Flood -

There is ONE big difference between the first diagram and the second diagram: The first one comes from the imagination of an evolutionist. The second one comes from a study of the Grand Canyon!

I choose to believe in a Designer whose name is Jesus Christ. Here are a couple of verses that say it all:

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
    by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
    and the clouds let drop the dew.
Proverbs 3:19-20

Through him [Jesus] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:3

Abba, thank You for creating the world. I know we ruined it with sin, but I also know that You are the Great Redeemer, and that You will one day renew all things, including this earth. You don’t let one single atom go to waste, O Lord! I look forward to that Great Day. Amen.

Proverbs 16 11-16-21

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

10 The lips of a king speak as an oracle, and his mouth does not betray justice [Jesus is our King].

The famous Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, is more than likely a compilation of a series of sermons that Jesus taught during His ministry throughout Israel. He ends this sermon with a charge,

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

I believe that Jesus was speaking to us, as well. He wants us to obey Him rather than all we have learned and know. But, wait! What if I know a lot about Jesus and His ways? Yes, even rather than all those things. We all have our own capacity for hearing and perceiving, just like we have our own way of interpreting what we hear and perceive. For instance, a friend (the grandmother) was talking to her daughter whose daughter had said that the grandmother (my friend) had said that when it thunders, it’s God raining tater tots. The grandmother immediately denied saying such a thing (I’m inclined to believe her) and couldn’t recall anything that even came close to what the granddaughter heard her say. The granddaughter had interpreted in her young mind what she had heard, and it made perfect sense to her. She had heard it according to her world: her experiences, her knowledge, and her own intellect. We all do the same thing!

Jesus wants us to quit relying on what we know (or think we know) and listen to Him. Daily. Hourly. Continuously. He then wants us to do what He says. We can trust Him to lead us in the right way. If we will quit trusting ourselves and start trusting Him, I promise that we would be a whole lot better off! The bonus is that we would experience Him in a whole new way! Jesus emanates love, joy and peace. Walking in fellowship with Him is a great way to feel great.

There’s an old hymn that says,

“Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms [of Jesus].”

So, let’s give up everything, even what we “know,” and trust in what Jesus is saying to us right now. He’s talking. Are you listening?

Abba, I hereby shuck all I think I know to hear Your voice and to experience You first-hand. I know that You will not contradict Yourself, so I have Your words to guide me. I want to use everything at my disposal: The Old Testament, the New Testament, the internet, books, translations, and Your children to get to know You and to learn about Your kingdom. May I get to know Your voice (when You speak to me) and Your words (when I read the Scriptures) so well that I can interpret clearly what You are saying to me. “Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus, speak that my soul may hear.” Amen.

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.

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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.