Proverbs 17 7-17-20

Watched “War Room” again, and I was again inspired to be either hot or cold, but not lukewarm. I choose hot! May I not be a stumbling block to others because of my spiritual condition (lukewarm is a big turn-off to lost people; it’s called hypocrisy).

3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.

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

There are quite a few areas that we humans are susceptible to sin: Entitlement, Lust, Pride, Vanity, Impatience, Selfishness, Sloth, Anger, Spite, Rage, Hate, Gluttony, Fear. We looked at Entitlement and Lust yesterday; today, we look at Pride, Vanity and Impatience.

Pride– There is good pride and bad pride. Good pride is rejoicing in another person’s victories, achievements, or place in life (like, a child or grandchild); it always has to do with love for that person and wanting the best for that person. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:10. Bad pride is at the expense of someone else. We measure our goodness or abilities by comparing ourselves to others and seeing ourselves as better. God loves all His children and prospective children, and He takes exception to those who look down on them. Both James (the younger half-brother of Jesus and pastor of First Church, Jerusalem) and Peter quoted this proverb: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5. The reference is to a boxer squaring off against an opponent. DON’T TRY TO GO A ROUND WITH THE LORD! We must remember, Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than [or before] yourselves.” Philippians 2:3.

Vanity“Vanity, vanity! All is vanity!” Ecclesiastes 1:2. When Solomon said it, he really meant “difficult to understand.” When we say vanity, we mean conceitedness. There is a good bit of pride mixed in with vanity. We must not think too highly of  ourselves. In fact, Paul warns the Corinthians, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” 1 Corinthians 10:12. We must measure ourselves by the grace given us by remembering that grace is given and needed because we don’t deserve it. We bring nothing to God’s table of grace except our humble hearts. Paul redirects our attention from our outward appearance to our hearts, Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds [of obedience], appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” 

Impatience– The lack of patience. When we become impatient, we lose God’s perspective on the matter: We get sharp with our words, we take matters into our own hands, and we force situations beyond the Spirit’s leadership. In other words, we SIN! Patience is a discipline, so impatience is a lack of discipline. What happens when we have no discipline? A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the Lord.” Proverbs 19:3. Learning that discipline is good and worth striving for is the first step in leading a disciplined life. Sounds kinda simple, but it’s true. We must decide that it’s worth having before we will work for it. Here is a banner verse for the impatient person, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2. Want to be like Christ? Be patient.

Let’s not be lukewarm about these human tendencies. Let’s be humble with each other, modest in our dress, talk, and actions, and live disciplined lives, not going off half-cocked, but waiting for the LORD’s instruction. Let’s stay close to our SOURCE: JESUS!

Abba, these tendencies are difficult to overcome. In fact, they are impossible without Your Spirit giving us first the desire to overcome them and then the power to do it. Make it so, LORD Jesus, make it so. Amen.

Proverbs 17 6-17-20

What is our greatest need? Purification for our sins. Without it, life is futile and death is worse!

1 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.

If this verse is taken as a metaphor for the soul, then to be at peace with ourselves and God is better than anything this world has to offer. Having our sins forgiven is a big deal to God because it allows Him to be with us. We have no spiritual idea what we looked like: Dead in our sins, willfully disobedient, rebellious in nature, brute beasts that didn’t even know right from wrong, marred, filthy…we get the picture. Yet, even in our pitiful condition, God gave His Son–and His Son gave His life–for us so that we could be reunited with the Father through the Son.

Here is our text verse:

Hebrews 1:3 (NIV)
[3] The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification* for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
The phrase “once for all” is used in Romans 6:10, which says, “The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. It is also used 5 times in Hebrews (same context), and 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. I love these last words, “to bring you to God.” Wow! That says it all.
But wait! There’s more:
Hebrews 2:14-15 (NIV)
[14] Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— [15] and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
We have so much for which to be thankful. Let’s not take for granted our relationship with God and the fellowship we share with the Spirit. Indeed, if we treat it with contempt or apathy, we must consider carefully these words:
1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. Hebrews 2:1-3
Abba, I pray for my readers that they would regain the joy of their salvation, that excitement and gratitude that flowed from their hearts when they first received the Good News and invited You via Your Spirit to live in them. May it be a daily experience, Lord. In fact, may it grow and grow each day! Thank You for living in me and proving over and over how much You love me. I love You, too. Amen.
*From the Strong’s Concordance-

Purification/Purge: 4160 with 2512 (katharismos, from which we get the word, catharsis, to complete with absolution)–bear, + bewray [to reveal or expose], cast out, execute, have purged, Compare 4238.
4238: A primary verb; to “practise”, that is, perform repeatedly or habitually (thus differing from 4160, which properly refers to a single act).

Proverbs 17 5-17-20

Why are you going to church today? For whom have you lived all week? Are you seeking Him through repentance?

10 A rebuke impresses a discerning person more than a hundred lashes a fool.

The tendency is to go to church–whether in person or online–out of habit. What we need is a refresher course on WHY CHURCH? We go to church to meet with other Christians. We fellowship, worship together, praise the name of Jesus, and then listen to our pastor who has a message from the LORD for us. We then respond to this message by aligning ourselves to the commands of the Word of God and the message from His servant, our shepherd, and pledge ourselves to Jesus. We should be rejuvenated and recharged in our spirits as we head into another week.

If we consider church like an urgent care center, we find in the waiting room sick people and hurt people who are waiting to “see the doctor.” The pastor is the one who takes us back to the examination room where the Great Physician sees us. Sometimes, in order to get better, the doctor has to hurt us, for instance, a broken arm needs setting, or a splinter needs to be removed. If they have any of that bright orange stuff my mom used to put on our injuries, THAT HURTS! But, it disinfects and protects until the body heals.

Concerning our verse, we go to church to hear from the Holy Spirit. We pray that He will speak to us through the singing, the reading of the Word, and/or through the message. WE NEED A FRESH WORD FROM THE LORD. Even if it is a rebuke, we relish it because it is from Him.

King David felt the same way:

Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness;
    let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it,
    for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers [even myself].

How would you prefer to be corrected, through a rebuke or through consequences? At least, through a rebuke you recognize that the LORD is trying to correct you. Through consequences, many people miss the fact that they are even being reprimanded. They think it’s just bad luck.

Let’s go to church (even virtual church) with the idea of hearing from God today. Let’s praise Him along with the singers and then listen to the sermon with the idea of God speaking to us. Then let’s respond to His Spirit. Let’s determine in our hearts to be and do according to what He has revealed to us about ourselves and what He has told us to do. Even His rebuke is encouraging “because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son [child].” Hebrews 12:6.

Abba, I pray that as I lead music today that I would be the lead worshiper. May my life be in alignment with You so that I may be a clean conduit of Your love and grace. May joy be my garment today as I praise You. May You speak to Your children as we meet together. I know You will be present. May Your Spirit link us with those who are still at home. May they sense Your love and concern, O LORD. Bless us as Your people. Call us to Your work. Amen.

Proverbs 17 4-17-20

Thoughts spoken are public knowledge. Let’s make sure what we say honors the LORD and won’t come back to bite us.

14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;
    so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

Many of the things we think simply don’t need to be said. If we don’t say it, we cannot be held accountable for it. Proverbs 10:19 says, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” Not that not saying ANYTHING is best. “The cruelest lies are often told in silence.” – Robert Louis Stevenson. Timing is important, too. “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11.

The chapter ends with some very sage advice:

27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
    and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.

28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
    and discerning if they hold their tongues.

So, how do we master our speech? James says that we NEVER will, that it will ALWAYS be a source of evil and trouble:

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:6-8

Why? Because our thoughts naturally tend toward selfish, uncontrolled, rebellious, deceitful, inappropriate, addictive–sinful thoughts. Christ deals with us in our hearts concerning these things, but when we speak them, we cause all kinds of problems! Our words become concrete to us and poisoned arrows to others.

How? How do we keep from sinning with our mouths? How do we become godly talkers?

  1. Use words with restraint. Don’t rush into a conversation with others. Stop and evaluate EVERY WORD that comes to mind.
  2. Be having a conversation with the Spirit at the same time that you are having a conversation with someone else. If you are in contact with Him, then you stand a good chance of catching errant words BEFORE they leave your lips.
  3. If it’s a serious conversation, bathe it in prayer before having it. Think about what needs to be said and craft a rough draft either in your mind or on paper. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide the conversation.
  4. If you’re conversing with a friend (or friends), just remember to:
    1. Keep it friendly; no confrontational statements (don’t pick a fight).
    2. Stay away from derogatory comments even in jest. They always have a barb on the end.
    3. Stay FAR away from sexual comments of any kind. Even stay away from body parts. Our minds just don’t need to go there.
    4. A great verse to use as a guide is Ephesians 5:4, “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. Let’s lift each other up with encouraging words!

There is one more warning I want to give: IF IT IS IN PRINT, BEWARE!!! In fact, try not to say private things in a text or email. They have a tendency to not stay private. If we live with the attitude that they WON’T, then we will always be SAFE.

Are you scared, yet? We ought to be!!! But, be encouraged: One of these days, we won’t have to worry about what will come out of our mouths because we will be glorified and will not have to fight sinful thoughts anymore. Won’t that be GRAND?! Until then, we had better implement these verses:

I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked [anybody].” Psalm 39:1

Set a guard over my mouthLord; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds [conversations] along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies. Psalm 141:3-4

Abba, I know that controlling my tongue begins with controlling my thoughts. The ONLY way I know to do that is to replace them with Your thoughts. I find those in the Bible and in prayer. May I linger long in Your Word and may I have a running conversation with You all day today. Please don’t let me “set anything on fire” today! Counting on You, amen.

Addendum: I do the most damage when my blood sugar is low. If I feel that I am in such a state, I quickly eat something and give it a minute to take effect. Robin usually pops something in my mouth the moment I come through the door on Sunday mornings after church because I’m drained and famished. She is a lifesaver! My children and grandchildren rise up and call her blessed. 🙂

Proverbs 17 3-17-20

Who would have thought that this St. Patrick’s Day would bring such panic and chaos? God is still on His throne!

3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.

History: St. Patrick lived during the fifth century. When he was 16, he was captured and enslaved by Irish pirates. After six years, he escaped and returned to his family. After studying for the ministry, HE RETURNED TO IRELAND! He is given credit for evangelizing Ireland and “converting a society practising a form of Celtic polytheism (Wikipedia),” one which ruled the people through fear of the gods. God used the circumstances of young Patrick’s life to give him exposure to those who needed the Gospel. Wow!

What is interesting to me is that it sounds like America today! Our nation, and indeed, the world, is being ruled by fear right now. How should we, as Christians, view this present crisis? God uses EVERY circumstance for our good.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

This verse is a good one to memorize. Just note that God works for our good; He doesn’t necessarily CAUSE bad things to happen in order to work them for our good. We can simply rest in the knowledge that God has our lives in His capable hands. It’s the next verse that gives me great comfort:

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined [worked out ahead of time] to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

THIS is the goal of God for our lives. Therefore, we can rest assured that in EVERYTHING that happens to us, God is using it to make us more like Christ. How smooth that transition is depends upon our willingness to relinquish control. Speaking of which, I was led to look up the definition of the word, “subdue.”

Subdue-

  1. To conquer and bring into subjection;
  2. to overpower by superior force, overcome;
  3. to bring under control;
  4. to bring under cultivation;
  5. to reduce intensity, force, or vividness = to soften.

In our Christian lives, we are to conquer our sinful nature and bring it into subjection; we are to overpower by superior force the “old man” within us and overcome the tendencies of our deceitful hearts; we are to bring under control our thoughts, and to cultivate His thoughts; we are to reduce the intensity, force, and vividness of sin in our lives by softening our natures to be like Christ, who is humble, gentle, and long suffering, WITHOUT muting our zeal for the LORD (Romans 12:11).

Concerning our present circumstances, let us allow the Spirit to allay our fears, which means to calm and quieten our spirits. Let us redeem the time by using it to increase our family time, our devotion time, and our worship. We might have to get creative, but all the better as the Spirit leads us!

LORD, You know I can’t subdue my heart on my own. In fact, I must be in complete obedience to You (Your Spirit), otherwise, I will miss the whole point of the exercise, which is learning to reign like You WITH You (2 Tim. 2:12a). If I am seated with You in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6), then You are teaching me to reign. May I pay close attention so that, when we come back to earth with You, I will be able to competently reign with grace in humility, gentleness and love. May I start NOW, Abba, by practicing humility, grace and love to those around me, particularly during this time of crisis. Amen.

 

Proverbs 17 2-17-20

Why do we hang so tightly to that which destroys us and keeps us from God?

16 Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom,
    when they are not able to understand it [unwilling to give up their sin]?

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
    but the Lord tests the heart.

I’ve mentioned before that I like to watch Imetmessiah.com, a youtube site that shows testimonies of Jews who have come to Jesus. I am struck by the number of them who, upon salvation, have a voracious appetite for the Word of God and to learn all they can about Yeshua (Jesus). It would seem that salvation brings this desire to know our Savior.

Where are you concerning your desire to know Your LORD? Regardless of your answer, I offer two exhortations:

  1. Pray for a higher desire. Robin calls it “the want-to to want to.” It is a plea for God to override our natural desires and give us His desires. He wants to pour out His Spirit upon His people–but we are not ready!  What stands in our way?
  2. We must acknowledge our sin and confess it. Sin keeps us at arm’s length from Him. People, people, if we are to have revival, then we must give up our sins. I have given to Him all I know–but I know there is still much darkness within me. I fight arrogance, vanity, pride, covetousness, and other dark thoughts. The fight itself is not sin, but it shows me that I am one step away from spiritual calamity. I NEED HIM!!!

The story of the silversmith has always be a favorite of mine because it demonstrates the process of sanctification (being made into His likeness) in our lives. As the silversmith heats the silver to a certain temperature, dross rises to the top, which he scoops off. He then turns the heat up another notch, at which dross rises to the top and he scoops it off. He does this process seven times, and maybe more. He knows the silver is ready when he can see his reflection clearly in the silver.

As we give revealed sin over to Him, He turns the heat up in our lives. Each person’s “heat” is different, so I won’t even try to give examples. Suffice it to say that we each feel the heat of His gaze. It may seem like we give something to God only to take it back again, but not so. He separates us from our sin as far as the east is from the west. What we are experiencing is a deeper heating upon which more dross–a deeper dross–rises to the top. He repeats this process until we become clear enough for Him to see His reflection in us.

Corresponding Scripture references are:

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Psalm 12:6

18 And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory [the process], which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12

We will know we are ready for revival when we are willing to set aside our schedules, our daily activities, and our regular diversions to seek God in His Word and in prayer. We might even seek out prayer meetings! I have a prayer time from 6 to 7 at Brookwood BC on Wednesday mornings. I invite you to join me.

Also, my pastor, Bryan, has asked his flock–and I am asking you– to join him in reading Psalm 51 and praying this verse every day this week. Here are some things for which to pray:

New International Version
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

New Living Translation
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.

English Standard Version
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Contemporary English Version
Create pure thoughts in me and make me faithful again

Good News Translation
Create a pure heart in me, O God, and put a new and loyal spirit in me. 

International Standard Version
God, create a pure heart in me, and renew a right attitude within me.

NET Bible
Create for me a pure heart, O God! Renew a resolute spirit within me! 

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Create in me a pure heart, oh, God, and renew your right Spirit within me.

GOD’S WORD® Translation
Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a faithful spirit within me.

Revival won’t come on its own. The people of God must prepare for it. Groundwork must be laid. We MUST plead with the LORD to “restore to us the joy of His salvation and grant us a willing spirit to sustain us” (Psalm 51:12). May we be ready and willing to give up anything and everything to get it.

Abba, I once again present myself to You. Make me clean inside and out so that people can see Jesus in me. May I be Christ to others in such a way that they want You, too. Give me opportunities to witness for You regardless of the cost. I am Yours. Amen.

 

Proverbs 17 1-17-20

Portraying Christ in how we treat each other is how we shine our light. They’ll know we are Christians by our love for each other.

1 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.

Shining our light begins at home. We betray ourselves when we get angry at our spouse, the kids, the dog or cat, the TV and other inanimate objects. It reveals an impatient spirit with erroneous expectations. Those expectations are:

  1. Unspoken– People cannot meet an unspoken expectation because they do not know there is one. Having this expectation reveals an arrogant spirit.
  2. Unrealistic– Sometimes, we have expectations that simply cannot be reached. We need to place them in the hands of Jesus and ask for wisdom and discernment. This expectation reveals a desire to be God in our own lives.
  3. Unmet– This expectation happens when the other two are in play. How we respond reveals our heart. Remember that the heart merely amplifies our inner selves; what comes out? Cutting or curse words? Anger? Explosive temper? A desire to lash out? to punish (either by striking or by withdrawing our approval and/or friendship)? This expectation reveals a lack of maturity.

Finding our peace in the LORD Jesus is important; it’s the only way to allow the little things to pass by without getting under our skin, so to speak. Let’s look at some verses:

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3

Get rid all of bitterness, rage and anger, brawling [fist-fighting] and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate toward one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

How do we go about making these verses come true in our lives? By daily reading them and asking the Spirit to apply them. Ask Him to call your attention to every time you start to go down the road of one of those expectations. Stop and restart. For instance,

“Why did you do it that–wait. I’m sorry. Let me start over. I see that you did that a certain way. I was curious as to your motive; did you have something specific in mind?”

This example shows how the Spirit makes us aware of what we are doing even as we do it. He actually shows us BEFORE we do it when we get better at catching ourselves before we start. The trick is to pause before responding/reacting and give Him time to warn us.

We CAN do this, folks. We have all our lives to get it right. But, let’s not take ALL OUR LIVES to start working on it. Let’s start today by diving into His Word.

Abba, You know how I have worked on this and still get it wrong. Even so, I have enjoyed the interaction with Your Spirit. I have also made great strides, so I’m encouraged. I know You are pleased with me because I can feel Your pleasure and Your peace. I want to be better at it, so please take me higher up and further into Your ways and Your desires. I want to be just like You, Jesus. Amen.

Addendum to 12-17-19

In the story earlier, there is some controversy over its ability to be verified. Here are some notes from some bloggers who are sticklers for detail:

  1. From Nick Jones at Christian-Intellect.blogspot.com: Most material from the story was taken from the writings of the 19th century scholar, Alfred Edersheim. Where there is evidence for a Tower of the Flock, there is NO written evidence for the swaddling clothes of the priests nor them laying the lambs in a manger for safe-keeping.
  2. From Shawn Beaty in response to Nick’s blog: “Thank you for this article as well. Like you, I could not find any scholarly evidence to support the practice of the passover lamb being wrapped in swaddling. I have been to the tower of the flock and there is no way Christ was born in the tower like DeYoung alleges [NOT part of the story I quoted is a postulation that Christ was actually BORN in the tower of the flock]. Consequently [Alternatively] there is a threshing floor and a cave very close to there (within 100 yards). The cave has the Davidic symbol over the entrance. Above it there is the ruin of a late first-2nd century church building. It is also right next to the Roman Road that would have passed through the area. It can not be proved but it shows that there is a lot of circumstantial evidence to prove that Constantine’s mother was looking for a great place to build the church of the Nativity [a few miles away] and [was not actually looking for] the actual birth place of Christ. But I remind us all, no site is Holy! God is!”
  3. A shepherd/goatherd gave testimony that sheep don’t need swaddling. In fact, they stand up pretty quickly and take care of themselves. Humans are swaddled; sheep are not.

As we can see, we must be careful about what we count as fact. Just because it’s in a book doesn’t make it Gospel. My thanks to Robin for looking it up. My reckoning is that if God wants us to know such details, then He will reveal them as He has so many important facts, i.e. the Dead Sea Scrolls, the excavation of the underground Jerusalem that is going on even today!

What we CAN count on is the biblical account of Christ’s birth. It’s miraculous all by itself!

Proverbs 17 12-17-19

Today I’m going to meddle: What do you do with your spare time? Are you redeeming it? Learning more for His kingdom?

24 A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

The word, “keeps,” is important in that it reminds us that we need to continue at the process. Once we read Proverbs in the morning, that isn’t the end of His lesson for us. He wants to teach us all day. He will, too, if we stay sensitive to His presence and participation in our lives. We all know it to be true, but do we do it?

We live in the age of information. We have SO MUCH INFORMATION at our fingertips on our phones, our computers, and TV’s that it’s hard to comprehend. I want to encourage you to dig deeper into a subject that will give you insight into:

  • how to counsel people;
  • things that are proving the Bible true in archeology, biology, astronomy, chemistry, etc. and sharing them with folks;
  • what’s going on in the world concerning Christians, evangelism and persecution;
  • how God is moving among the Jews and Muslims!
  • creation and a young-earth biblical concept;
  • an aspect of the Bible that interests you like “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn, “Unlocking the Secrets of the Feasts” by Michael Norten, anything by C.S. Lewis, etc.

Speaking of which, here is an excerpt from, “Unlocking the Secrets of the Feasts”, concerning Christmas that I found very interesting:

The Lamb

Let’s take a closer look at the lamb. A number of years ago I heard Jimmy DeYoung, an outstanding news commentator and Bible teacher, make a presentation at a Bible prophecy conference. Since it was during the Christmas season he was teaching about the birth of Jesus in the first chapter of Luke. He read to us Luke 2:8-12:

“In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the Lord said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.’”

Dr. DeYoung then asked the audience a surprising question: “Did you ever wonder why this was a sign?” This left us all speechless. I had to admit to myself that I had never even questioned it. Why was it a sign? Dr. DeYoung had us turn to the book of Micah. We were all familiar with Micah 5:2, which prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, but many of us were not familiar with Micah 4:8, which prophesied that he would be announced at the tower of the flock (Migdal Eder). Dr. DeYoung, who had lived in Jerusalem for a number of years, told us that Migdal Eder there was a two-story tower that had been built in a pasture outside Bethlehem. The remains of the tower had recently been discovered.

Dr. DeYoung explained that the shepherds in the field had not all been the lowly shepherds that we had always assumed. They were actually priests from the temple who were doing shepherding work to assist in the birthing of the sacrificial lambs so that they would be unblemished for sacrifice. While the shepherds were keeping watch over the flock from the top floor of the tower, the shepherd-priests would bring the pregnant sheep in from the field to the tower’s bottom floor, where the sheep would give birth. As soon as the lamb was born, the priests would wrap it with strips of cloth made from old priestly undergarments. This was done to keep the lamp from getting blemished. The priests would then place the lamb onto a manger to make sure it would not get trampled. Wow! So, when these shepherd-priests went into Bethlehem and saw the baby Jesus wrapped in cloths, lying in a manger, they must have exclaimed, “There is the Lamb of God, prepared for sacrifice, unblemished!” They had to be excited beyond description, because they were the only ones who could have understood the sign. It was just for them from God. It was personal!

NOTE: Doing some research to verify this story. Always check our facts!

I challenge you to go outside your normal routine and find something to read or watch on YouTube, something that grows your faith. Ask the LORD to lead you to something that will infuse you with excitement concerning His Word, our current times, and even His future Return!

Abba, there is SO MUCH out there that proves You are God and that Your Word is TRUE. May we care enough and make the time to search for these hidden treasures. It’s so cool when we open them and feel the excitement of learning something new, as well as feeling Your pleasure. It’s just like Christmas! Continue to reveal Yourself to us, O LORD. Getting to know You is what a relationship with You is all about. Amen.

Proverbs 17 11-17-19

Come, take a journey with me to the island of Crete. Let’s study Titus and the letter Paul wrote him as he ministered there.

16 Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it?

The currency here is not actual money, but ability. What good is wisdom to a person who doesn’t intend to use it? These are the people with which Titus had to deal.

10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.

Invariably, there are some folks who cannot give their whole lives to Jesus. The harder they hold onto some part of their lives, the more adamant they become about keeping it. That part becomes their focus and ruins their relationship with the Father.

Then, there are those who are “sent” by Satan to infiltrate and sow seeds of discord and spread lies. These people may think that they are “free,” but they are really bound to Satan with long chains.

12 One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” 13 This saying is true.

Before we go judging Paul too harshly for “buying into” such a statement, we must realize that the saying describes us, too! We all lie; we all are evil in our flesh; we all are lazy and look for the easy way out, putting off what we know is right; we all are gluttons who take a good thing to extremes and use it in ways that are not godly.

Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 

I looked up the word, “sharply,” in the Greek and guess what it means: “Sharply, curtly, severely.” Notice the word, “harshly,” is not used. We must always speak with love and grace, but we must speak the truth.

15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

In those young and fledgling house churches, there were many who were caught up in the initial wave of the Spirit of God moving on Crete who did not actually believe. They were still living according to the flesh and they had not given themselves wholly to Jesus. This description is still accurate today. We have many in our churches who pay lip service, but don’t really believe. There are several other reasons to come to church:

  1. Habit and tradition. It’s how they were raised.
  2. To keep peace and harmony at home (the spouse wants him/her to go).
  3. Fellowship. They have friends there.
  4. Business: Connections and relationships.
  5. Agenda. Some people come to cause problems, sway people to their way of thinking, and some even to seduce!

Paul encouraged Titus, as his true son in their common faith (verse 4) to appoint faithful men to be in charge and to guard the fellowship. The role of pastor carries quite a burden. Let’s pray for our pastors as they guard the sheep from the wolves.

As we go to church today, may we go with minds open to the people around us. Pray for them that they may meet with God and give themselves wholly to Him. May we do the same!

Abba, I give myself wholly to You today. Only You have the words of life. Only You have the Plan for mankind. I just want to be a part of what You are doing. Make me like You, Jesus, make me like You. Amen.

Proverbs 17 10-17-19

Want to know what is in your heart? Give God time; He’ll show you.

3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.

We have a society that loves to commit to teams, groups, activities, studies, etc. and then grows weary, becomes bored, figures out it takes too much time and effort, or is offered a more interesting team, group, activity, study, etc. and quits the first for the second.

We have churches with people who love Jesus, but don’t know Him well enough to commit to Him. They are part of the church and will come occasionally, but family, vacations, work, games, etc. keep them out more than they are in.

We have Christians who claim to know Christ, but are not interested in taking the time each day to read His Word, to apply it to their lives, and to learn to hear His voice. Instead, they trust their own logic, their own fears, and their own–well, to put it bluntly, arrogance.

I can’t judge people’s salvation, but I often wonder if these people really have a working, walking relationship with the Savior. There’s one way to find out, and that is to be tested. We live in a fallen world and we all will face sickness, accidents, physical failure, and death. We live with fallen people and will face strife, adversity, relational failure, desertion, and even hatred–and that’s just from our families! WE WILL BE TESTED. Does God bring them on? He certainly has that right as Omnipotent God, but I think in His Omniscience, He sees our future and what is coming; He tries to prepare us for it, even avoid it if we will listen; still, He promises to walk with us through whatever it is.

What we must remember is that this life is all about our relationship with Him. He uses whatever comes our way to get us to interact with Him. As long as we live life on our terms, avoid consulting Him, ignore Him and His direction, and relegate Him to times of desperation, we miss the point of salvation. In fact, salvation may not have happened, yet.

Jesus was quite clear that to become His disciple, we must give up everything. NOW. When He asks.

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross [die to self] daily and follow me. 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? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

When He says, “follow me,” He means like His disciples did: they left their families, their work, and their homes and went with Jesus. How many Christians have actually done that? Have you? Until that happens, we are untested. Until we are tested, we don’t truly know. Faith is a gift; it is based upon belief + action. The “gift” part is that God comes to us and says, “Do you trust me? Take My hand and come with me.” Our part is to take His hand and go with Him. It may be getting out of the boat on choppy waters; it may be into a fiery furnace; it may even be into a kangaroo court. Wherever it is, interacting with Him is worth more than ANYTHING in this world.

Forsaking All, I Trust Him.” This is the acronym of FAITH. Are you there, yet?

Abba, I know I’m preaching to the choir, but we all need to be reminded that it’s all about You and knowing You. Please continue to make Yourself known to me. If adversity, trial, and calamity are in my future, I KNOW You will carry me through them; please redeem them through Your grace by using them to refine me like silver, like fine gold. Purify my heart, O Lord. I want to be like YOU. Amen.

Proverbs 17 9-17-19

Ready for God to use you? Isn’t that for what you signed up? He uses willing vessels, not necessarily filled vessels.

(3) The crucible or silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.

To be filled with knowledge is good, but to be filled with His Spirit is much better! There is a paradox at work in our lives, which is that the more we know, the less we depend upon Him to work through us. What’s funny is that the thing we need to learn the most is to be completely dependent upon Him!

I’ve heard it said that God equips the called rather than calling the equipped. If we want true equipping, we can talk to a doctor who has been through what he treats, like juvenile leukemia. Was that NOT the kind of knowledge we meant? Would anyone voluntarily go through something like that in order to sympathize with his patients and to be able to treat them more accurately*? None of whom I am aware. We could easily use breast cancer or diabetes for examples. Those we know who are going through times of “testing” with these examples are learning to walk with Jesus VERY closely.

Beth Moore gives three Scenarios in her study on Daniel concerning fiery trials in our lives. It is based upon the account of the three Hebrew men and the fiery furnace:

Scenario A: We can be delivered from the fire.

Dividend: Our faith is built.

Scenario B: We can be delivered through the fire.

Dividend: Our faith is refined.

Scenario C: We can be delivered by the fire straight into the arms of Jesus!

Dividend: Our faith is perfected.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7

The word, “proven,” is showing on the outside what is already on the inside. If our intention is to bring praise, glory and honor to Jesus Christ, then we are ready for whatever comes our way and however He wants to use us.

Looking beyond this world to His world is something with which each of us must come to terms. He wants us with Him (John 17:24), and we know that eventually we all go to be with Him. When and how are up to His plan and how we choose to fit into it.

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Are we ready and willing to be put in harm’s way, to go through the crucible, for the Lord’s glory? to win someone to Christ? to show people that our faith is real and that Jesus is real? Let’s renew our commitment to Him this morning!

Dear Lord Jesus, I commit myself once again to Your will and Your way. May You use me in whatever capacity You decide. I just want to be available to You. My life is Yours. Amen.

* Jesus did. 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16