Proverbs 18 7-18-20

Living a Christian life is an uphill battle. Is it worth it? It depends upon how well you know the Savior!

3 When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes reproach.

Most of us don’t see what we do as wicked. We have categories of wickedness and we usually stay away from those particular categories. The problem is that wickedness is anything that is not God-led and God-empowered. Oops! That’s MOST of what we think, say and do! Yet, God loves us and has entered us to give us hope: We CAN become like Him more and more; we WILL be like Him in glory!

Continuing:
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 in which we humans are susceptible to sin: Entitlement, Lust, Pride, Vanity, Impatience, Selfishness, Sloth, Anger, Spite, Rage, Hate, Gluttony, Fear, to name a few. So far, we looked at Entitlement and Lust, Pride, Vanity and Impatience. Today, we cover Selfishness and Sloth.

Selfishness- This is where we live. All of our thoughts are self-centered. We are the center of our universe. The day we received the Holy Spirit into our lives is the day of The Great Invasion. God broke through our selfishness, brought our spirits back to life and filled us with Himself! Yet, our flesh (our sinful nature) still wants to rule our lives. It’s habit. It feels natural. But now, we have His Spirit within us and He has begun the process of transformation: He is shaping us, molding us, carving us, and chiseling us into the image of Christ. All we have to do is be willing–willing to do what?
1. Ask Him what He wants us to think.
2. Ask Him what He wants us to say.
3. Ask Him what He wants us to do.
4. Ask Him all the time, every time.
The biggest two verses in the Bible are Mark 12:30-31, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” In order to obey these commands, we must set aside our own wants and desires and focus on His wants and desires. When we follow Him in what we think, say, and do, we love Him with all our heart, soul and mind, and we do it with all our strength. We begin categorically and then move to the specific. We get up in the morning and give Him our heart, soul, and mind. Then we ask Him to guide us in all we think, say, and do. We remind ourselves of this pledge throughout the day and come back to it whenever we stray, all the while conversing with Jesus and enjoying His Presence, Pleasure, and Power as He enables us to be successful, even if our success is only in identifying selfish areas that need work. It’s a process. He knows it. We know it. Best verse: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20. Let’s live it!

Sloth- Sloth is laziness. It is rooted in selfishness. Shortcuts, unfinished projects, and clutter are all evidence of sloth. Anytime we are about to commit the sin of sloth, there is a split second where we realize what we are about to do. In that split second, two things are happening:
1. Jesus is calling to our attention that we are about to commit sin. He is showing us the better way and calling us to do it.
2. We must decide to heed His voice and do things right or to ignore what we know to be right and do things our way.
Taking the easy road means that we are coasting–when we coast, we are going downhill! “The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep them from going down to the grave.” Proverbs 15:24. Life is going either up or down. Jesus gives this word picture: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14. We have heard these verses before, but have we ever applied them to daily living? Let’s follow Jesus on the narrow road. Let’s stay close to His side and do what He says to do the way He says to do it in the time frame that He gives us. I know it’s hard, but it’s the best thing for us, the best way to do it, and the most pleasing to the Father, which is our highest goal, right?

Blessings on you today as you walk with Jesus learning how not to be lazy and selfish, but to become more like Christ, being pleasing to the Father.

Abba, thank You for working in our lives. We can’t be godly without You. I wish that You would instantly make us perfect, but I know that isn’t Your plan. For some reason, You find it enough to be in us and fellowship with us. Now that sin has been taken care of, it is no longer an issue except in the fellowship department. May we strive to keep our lines of communication with you clear as You continue with the process of sanctification–making us more like Jesus! Amen.

 

 

Proverbs 18 6-18-20

God the Father loves everyone and wants the best for everyone. The problem is that most people won’t give Him a chance.

10 The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

Taking the Father up on His offer of salvation is the smartest thing we can do. Why? Because we get to trade all of our filthiness, selfishness, and spiritual deadness for His life, His love, His joy, His peace, His adoption, His heavenly clothing, His family, and His heavenly home. He comes to us in our “hopelessness” and plops Himself right in the middle of us (it’s what He did with the Israelites in the desert: He set His tabernacle smack dab in the middle and had the tribes encamp in a circle around it). Also, we become members of His physical family here on earth, Israel, but in a spiritual way: We are grafted in (Romans 11:17-24).

In Jewish terms, recognizing Yeshua as Israel’s Messiah is the most Jewish thing a Jew can do. Why? Because Jesus/Yeshua fulfilled the requirements of the law with His own blood. God’s blood. He now sits at the right hand of God; this fact is proven by His resurrection, interaction with over 500 people, and His ascension.

The writer of Hebrews gives us proof:

1:3 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.

7:27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.

8:1-2 Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.

9:27 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

10:14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those [we] who are being made holy.

We all know John 3:16, but what does that look like on a personal level? We get a good look in Ephesians 2:4-5:

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

We have so much for which to be thankful. Let’s get started! I’ll go first:

Abba, I’m thankful that You called this 6-year-old kid to be Yours. Thank You for a mom who knew what to do when I asked about salvation. Thank You for a dad who made sure we were in church each week by example. Thank You for the call on my life to serve You in vocational ministry. Thank You for a wonderful, godly wife and beautiful children who love You, too. Thank You for my grandchildren and their love for You, as well. I am illegally blessed–well, it should be illegal. I give You my life once again to do with as You wish. I just want to be helpful for the kingdom. Amen.

Proverbs 18 5-18-20

D.iscerning and O.bedient: These are what we D.O. for Christ today. It’s how He wants us to be. In order to be these, though, we must first be connected. What does that connection look like?

15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
    for the ears of the wise seek it out.

The first thing is to be willing to do a little foot work. We must seek out what has already been revealed. I know of two sources: The Word of God and God’s people. One of my favorite songs is Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Walk With the Wise.” Here are some of the lyrics:

I’ve learned to look for answers in those born before my time
As I listen to them tell me what they’ve learned in their lives
I talk to friends with understanding much deeper than my own
And gain wisdom beyond measure I could never find alone

The second thing is to ask Him for:

  1. His opinion- We find it in His Word.
  2. His meaning- He gives us revelation as we read, but we need to double check with Him to make sure we understood Him correctly.
  3. His direction- Many times, He will reveal something to us and then send us to someone for more clarity and filling out. It’s how the body of Christ works.

The third thing is to D.O. what it is He has revealed to us. Through discernment (the revelation of knowledge via the Spirit), we learn what it is that Christ wants us to do next. In our obedience, we lean on Him for courage, power, and even the skill to do whatever the task is. We do it WITH HIM. Doing things FOR Christ will get a person in trouble and sometimes reveals a dirty secret: He doesn’t really know Christ:

To know about Christ but to not actually know Him means that we make all of our decisions from our human perspective–NOT what God had in mind! He wants to be part of our daily experience, to walk with us and share our lives. It’s the POINT of the cross. If we miss the connection with the Spirit, we have missed the entire reason for His coming. If we persist in not making this connection, we will miss His Second Coming, as well! THAT’S how important knowing and walking with Christ is.

As we D.O. for Christ today, let’s make sure that we are discerning what the Spirit is saying to us and that we are being obedient to Him even as He directs our thoughts and actions. It’s like the Spirit is the hand and we are the glove. Even as He works through us, we get to experience being one with Christ: All the love, joy and peace, all the patience, kindness and goodness, all His faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; we get to know the TRUTH about all things; we get to see from His perspective (godly wisdom), and we grow in faith as we gain experience. It’s a walk, a journey, and an adventure!

Abba, may we make the effort to know You and to grow in our faith. May the desire of my heart be fulfilled in my life, which is to be completely absorbed in becoming like You, to walk with you so closely that I even smell like You, that I become so transparent that people see You in me, and that I shine as brightly as possible as a child of light (Ephesians 5:8). Make it so, LORD. Amen.

 

Proverbs 18 4-18-20

True worshipers of Jesus live in a constant state of submission to His will and way. The Spirit leads us.  There is NO OTHER WAY to get Jesus in us except to simply invite Him in. Revelation 3:20. I describe His invitation like this: Jesus knocks; we open the door; He stands at the threshold and holds out His hand. Why? Before He will come in, He wants the deed to our “house” and the Master key to every door. Once we give Him these things, He comes in and LIVES! He NEVER leaves! He begins to transform the place into His House. Out with the old and in with the new.

Why are we talking about this? Because people throughout history have changed the requirements for salvation and sanctification (becoming like Christ) to be something they were never intended to be.

4 The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.

In other words, people use persuasive speech to sway others to their way of thinking. Some err in this way with sincere hearts, while others do it for power, pleasure, malice, and pay-off. Either way, their way is wrong according to Scripture. The fountain of wisdom is the Spirit of God who comes rushing from within us as living waters of eternal life. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14. Since we are now talking about Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well of Sychar, let’s see what else He told her.

23 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. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24

Where I see a great contradiction is in THE SACRAMENTS, particularly the LORD’S SUPPER.

Sacrament- religious sign or symbol, especially associated with Christian churches, in which a sacred or spiritual power is believed to be transmitted through material elements viewed as channels of divine grace.

Here’s a little history behind the sacraments:

At the Council of Trent(1545–63), the Roman Catholic Church formally fixed the number of sacraments at seven: baptismconfirmation, the Eucharist, penance, holy ordersmatrimony, and anointing of the sick. The theology of the Eastern Orthodox churches also fixed the number of sacraments at seven. The classical Protestant churches (i.e., LutheranAnglican, and Reformed) have accepted only two sacraments, baptism and the Eucharist [the Lord’s Supper], though Luther allowed that penance was a valid part of sacramental theology. Britannica.com

The sacraments may or may not be true (I personally don’t believe they are because they lean toward idolatry; consider the bronze snake that Moses made Numbers 21:8-9 and Gideon’s ephod Judges 8:27), but either way, they are not what saves us. God desires for us to worship Him. In the Old Covenant, a worshiper would place his hands upon a lamb and symbolically place his sins, his heart, even his very life upon that lamb. That lamb became his substitutionary sacrifice and he would be covered. He would perform this ritual every year for his sins.

Jesus is our Substitutionary Sacrifice.

We are to place our sins, our heart, even our very lives on Him. Once that is done, there is no more need for sacrifice. Let’s look at Hebrews:

12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves;but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Once sacrifice for all time. There is no need for Him to become flesh and blood to cleanse us more than the first and ONLY time (that time was on the cross). Let’s continue:

24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared ONCE FOR ALL at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

The blood on the altar stays on the altar. We eat the Bread of heaven every time we come to Him for fellowship, for guidance, for strength, and for encouragement when we fail. Jesus Himself said, The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” John 6:63. Our repentance (after our initial salvation) may not be considered as much for the forgiveness of sin (see Psalm 103:12 and John 13:10) as for redirection on the path of life with him. We repent (change direction, set our hearts and minds to change) and look at and to Jesus.

There is one more item of distinction I would like for us to see:

The New Testament mentions a series of “holy acts” that are not, strictly speaking, sacraments. Though the Roman Catholic Church recognizes a difference between such “holy acts,” which are called sacramentals, and sacraments, Britannica.com

We partake in SACRAMENTALS, not sacraments. They are NOT magical. We depend upon the Spirit within us to save us and make us whole and to renew us daily. 2 Corinthians 4:16 Baptism works the same way. You will notice that the woman’s baptism was never mentioned, but her belief and trust in Jesus was! John 4:28-29, and 39-42.

Let’s be true worshipers today. Let’s thank Him for His substitutionary sacrifice, His daily provision of grace, and the continuous fellowship of His Spirit.

Thank You, LORD, that if I went into a coma today that I would not ever have to worry about my sins being forgiven or my having You inside me. Your Presence is made known to me through Your Spirit as He bears witness with my spirit that I am Your child (Romans 8:16). May Your truth become evident to all as we hold to the word of life (Philippians 2:16a). Amen.

 

Proverbs 18 3-18-20

Today, we discuss the MYSTICAL part of Christianity: Sensing the Spirit of God. How do we know it’s Him?

24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes into ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

The whole point of the cross was for us to become mobile temples of the living God! God wanted to be IN us and not just with us. Really, it’s an even better deal than Adam and Eve had. Think of it: “Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27b).” By the way, the first part of this verse tells us about the MYSTICAL part: “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The mystery of the presence of Christ in us is no secret. God had it in mind all along; it was implemented through Jesus Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. Let’s look at the process.

In the Old Testament, the Spirit came upon a person (Samson, David, Elijah, etc) like a cloak. He could leave a person in the same way (Samson, Saul). Isaiah heard God’s voice as if it were over his shoulder, “and you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21. We hear His voice much the same way (as if over the shoulder), but NOW His voice comes from inside us. In the words of Jimmy Cox, “I hear His voice as if He is talking over my shoulder, but it’s louder than that.” Why? Because His voice is coming from INSIDE him! and US!!!

Why the Holy Spirit? He is the third part of the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Here is what Jesus said about Him, “Therefore, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men [that’s BIG!], but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” Matthew 12:31-32 Why not? Because the Holy Spirit is our seal of salvation (Ephesians 1:13). In fact, His presence in our lives IS OUR SALVATION! If we refuse His offer to come in and live in our hearts, then we can have no salvation.

Another aspect of the Spirit and how He talks to us is the Bible. 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 heart.” Hebrews 4:12. If we want God to work in our lives and be real to us, then we will read and implement His Word in our lives. When? Everyday! We would do well to do it several times a day through note cards, texts, memorization, speaking it to each other, etc.

One of the things that King David learned was to wait on the LORD. We often get in a hurry; the Holy Spirit waits for us to calm down before speaking to us. It’s a way for us to remember WHO is in charge of our lives!

14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

What are we waiting for? Let’s look back into the psalm and see:

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart [His Spirit] says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.

David knew the secret to accessing the Spirit: He was still and quiet. He calmed His Spirit, which could be quite exuberant or anxious, and allowed the Holy Spirit to come upon him like an ointment (see psalm 133). It is when we are quiet and calm that we receive His guidance. We draw near to Him in mind and attitude; He draws us to Himself and moves us along in the way we should go. It’s a beautiful thing.

Here are some of my favorite verses that show how the Holy Spirit works in our lives:

23 Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory [to be with You]. Psalm 139:23-24

21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit [may we all be carried along by the Spirit!]. 2 Peter 1:21

These promises of Jesus cinch it for us:

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

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13

THESE ARE THE VERY WORDS OF CHRIST! We can trust Him to walk with us and speak to us even as we have trusted Him for salvation.

Let’s finish with one more promise:

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power [through His Spirit] that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

Abba, thank You that You counsel me from within. Your Presence makes life worth living! To hear Your voice within me, to receive Your “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16) is exciting to me. It makes me ALIVE! May I always approach You with fear and trembling, but also with confidence and excitement (see Hebrews 4:14-16). I look forward to walking through this day with You. Amen.

Proverbs 18 2-18-20

For revival to come, we must know what is in our hearts–and confess it and get our hearts right with God!

15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
    for the ears of the wise seek it out.

What is your heart’s desire? Is it to know Christ? Consider this: To seek to know Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (Phil. 3:10), we must transcend the distractions of this world and focus on His world. What IS His world?  It is not only the third heaven, but also the first and second heavens, in context with the third heaven. We tend to see this world as the ONLY reality when it is really only PART of a bigger REALITY. God works in all three heavens plus our world. He has never been locked out of any part of it. The separation was for our own good while mankind is still in sin. Soon, He will COME and correct the matter of sin and separation.

Before sin and subsequent death came into this world, all three heavens were joined in Eden. God walked with Adam and Eve. Upon sin and then death, God put a partition between the third heaven and the first two heavens (our atmosphere and then outer space). When we die, we simply cease to be in the first two heavens and move to the third heaven. It is every bit as real as the first two–in fact, more so–and must have some physical properties to it, again, even more so.

With this in mind, we should not live our lives as if this earth is the end-all for us. God made a way for us to leave these sin-ridden bodies and be with Him until He RETURNS to earth. We will come with Him and take up our old bodies, which will then be in a transformed and glorified state. It makes sense, then, that the best thing for us to do is to “seek first His kingdom, and all of the necessities of life will be added to you, as well.” Matthew 6:33 adapted.

Therefore, Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” 2 Corinthians 13:5. If Christ is in us, we must allow Him to lead us. He will not have it any other way. Sooner or later, He WILL take the lead in our lives. We have this promise:

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. Hebrews 12:4-7

As we move closer to Revival, let us recognize the discipline of God in our lives and thank Him for it. May we receive it and use it to repent and move closer to the side of our Savior. We must remember that “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11. Take great joy in the fact that God deals with us as His children! It is PROOF that we ARE His children!!!

Abba, thank You for the discipline that You have applied to my life through the years. I receive Your discipline and consider those times as precious to me. You are ALWAYS gentle and patient. At the same time, You do not hold back the consequences or the “sand paper” by which You shape me–sometimes, it’s a hammer and chisel! I want to look just like You, Jesus. Please make it so in my life. Amen.

Proverbs 18 1-18-20

Maybe we need to get over ourselves and get around to what Christ would have us do and be.

As I was praying this morning, I was pondering the generational differences in our church. It seems that each generation holds its former generation in contempt to some degree for not getting things right. So, I turned to Proverbs 18 and what did I read?

An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels. Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes reproach.

 

It was the very attitude of which I was thinking! How do we break this chain of generational contempt? We would do well to use a biblical approach to our lives; then we might be able to give the other generations true guidance. But, where does one start?

We must start with a biblical worldview. We must all be on the same page–or reading the same pages correctly–in order to interpret this world and world events from a true perspective. That worldview is a Young Earth and a Six-Day Creation by God, which, by the way, is being proved to be true by science every day. Science is finally catching up with Truth.

With a proper worldview comes the true Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. Without the Holy Spirit connecting us spiritually, there’s no way for us to truly come to a biblical viewpoint, let alone a consensus. The ANSWERS are HIS because HISTORY is HIS, both past and future.

Through the Gospel, we learn to have harmony in the family even as we are unified in following Christ. “Harmony” means “blend.” We are different on purpose. What we need to be unified in is keeping our eyes on Jesus, which means that WE ALL must walk in step with Christ. If someone isn’t, then we must encourage him to “begin again.” In a sense, we all start over each day. We see this lesson in Exodus as the Children of Israel were walking with God through the desert:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test [teach] them and see whether they will [learn to] follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days [for the Sabbath–a really good reason to believe in a literal six-day creation: God was establishing a precedent].” Exodus 16:4-5

Manna didn’t keep; it turned to maggots overnight (v.20). Yesterday’s grace works like that. We need NEW GRACE for a NEW DAY. Manna was also portioned out according to the needs of the family. Some gathered a little and some gathered a lot, yet, “when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.” (v18). We cannot judge each other according to how much we have; it’s all according to our need as the Spirit sees that need. Jesus said it this way, “Give us this day our daily bread…” (Matthew 6:11). 

Let’s all take a lesson from the Hebrews and walk united in following closely to Jesus Christ. Let’s allow our differences to harmonize together to create beautiful music for our LORD. We’ll leave whatever consequences we think might happen up to the LORD.

Abba, I realize it’s not my place to change someone’s mind, but to pray for that person to get close to You and for You to speak plainly and clearly to that person. When we are all aligned with You, THEN we will know true unity in the Spirit. In the meantime, help me to strive with my brothers and sisters and to be Jesus to them, pointing them to You. Amen.

 

Proverbs 18 12-18-19

Christmas is NOT just a story. It’s an event, one with life-changing potential. Jesus in the manger = Christ in our hearts.

16 A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.

God gave us the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. His love for us showed itself in compassion, which displayed itself in Love in a Body: Jesus. His birth was the beginning of the salvation process that would culminate in a crucifixion and a resurrection.

We see the Giver being ushered into the presence of the great, which is God, in this passage:

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

We see ourselves being ushered into the presence of God, because of Jesus in this passage:

24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

I am enjoying the little book by O. S. Hawkins called “The Christmas Code” that Bryan handed out at the first of the month. It is has some really thought-provoking concepts in it. One in particular is December 8 where it talks about if you could transport back to the birth of Jesus, would you be standing off to the side watching or would you be down on your knees worshiping with the shepherds? He then goes on to say that we are a type of Bethlehem. We are where Christ resides.

Christ is also wherever His Church/Bride meets. When we come to worship on Sundays, is Christ here? Are we on our knees before him worshiping him or His feet praising him? It really is that important. It really is that real.

If Christ doesn’t feel real to you, then I recommend you:

  1. Get alone and read Romans 10:9-13.
  2. Ask the Lord to reveal to you:
    1. If you believe that Jesus is who He says He is: the Messiah;
    2. If you believe that He will do what He said He would do, which is save you;
    3. If you have trusted Him with your life and received Him into your heart;
    4. If you know that you know that you know you are His.
  3. Ask the Lord to reveal to you any sin that is keeping you from experiencing the love, hope, joy and peace of His salvation.

23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
[fortunately, we don’t have to worry about this verse once Christ is in our hearts]
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

This Christmas promises to be the best Christmas ever if we get our relationship with Christ straightened out! Allowing Him to be Lord is not just a one-time event, but a daily process. That manger eventually transforms into a cross! When we kneel at one, we are kneeling at the other, as well. Let’s worship Him today as our Savior and our Lord.

Abba, thank You for coming in the form of Jesus. Thank You for offering Yourself for me on the cross. Thank You for rising from the dead and offering me NEW LIFE in You. Thank You for coming into my heart and life and cleansing me, and then beginning the process of transforming me into Your image. I know I am still myself, but now I am beginning to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and getting better at controlling myself and allowing You to live through me. I see myself as crucified with Christ; now, come and live through me, O LORD! I know that when You do, I experience Your overflowing love, joy, peace, hope, and grace that emanate from You. Today is gonna be awesome! Amen.

 

Proverbs 18 11-18-19

Might the Holy Spirit do a mighty work among us today? Are we prepared? Are we looking for Him to move?

16 A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.

We offer the gift of salvation to the people around us when we allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives. We become light-bearers for Him as He shines His light into their darkness.

In Acts 3, Peter and John healed a beggar at the temple gate and were given a great opportunity to proclaim the Gospel, which got them hauled before the Sanhedrin (chapter 4), the religious ruling body. They got to proclaim the Gospel to them–although, it was not well received. As a whole, that group never accepted Jesus Christ as Messiah. There were individuals, though, that did. Nicodemus was one of them. God works on individual hearts and not always on the group. It’s the same in America. We may never bring the country back to godly values, but we can bring individuals to Christ.

Paul was given the opportunity to speak before the high priest, Governor Felix, his successor, Governor Festus, King Agrippa (ruler of the entire area), and finally to Emperor Nero. The presentation of the Gospel was all-important to Paul. It was His calling, his life. His own words: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace [the Gospel].” Acts 20:24

If we take seriously Ephesians 3:21, which says, “Now to him [Jesus] who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power [His Spirit] that is at work within us,” let’s ask and imagine “the moon!” Let’s ask the Lord Jesus to raise up prophets in our day and age; let’s ask Him to place us in circumstances to be witnesses for Him. Let’s pray for revival in our families, our church, our city, state, and nation!

Imagine the most “lost” person that you know becoming a proclaimer of the Gospel. Now, ask God to make it so! Begin praying for that person-whether male or female-  consistently for God to move in his heart and to call him. Pray that he will listen and respond to His call. Pray that God would then move in the hearts of those around him and that he would be given great opportunities to proclaim the Gospel. Pray BIG!!!

In the meantime, what shall we do concerning ourselves? Let’s ask that WE be called by the Holy Spirit and given great opportunities to share the Gospel. Let’s ask that we be instruments in His hands to call others to Himself. Let’s live our lives “so that in every way [we] will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” Titus 2:10b How?

  1. Through sound doctrine. What we teach makes a difference.
    1. Be temperate (control our temper) v.2
    2. Worthy of respect
    3. Self-controlled
    4. Sound in faith, love and in endurance
  2. Through reverent lives v.3
    1. Not be slanderers (no gossip or sharing of information that is none of our business, especially our own opinions)
    2. No addictions (let nothing control us except the Spirit of God)
    3. Teach what is good (both in word and deed) v.4
    4. Be loving, pure, kind, submissive to one another
    5. Set a good example v.5
    6. Live with integrity (who we are and what we do when only God can see us)
    7. Have soundness of speech v.8
    8. Demonstrate trustworthiness v.9-10

By living this way, we make the Gospel attractive. Now, whether people listen to the Spirit’s call is not up to us. We are only the messengers. We are Ambassadors for Christ!

Abba, I pray for those reading this blog that You would get a hold of their hearts and work a mighty work within them. Call them to great and mighty things. As our world turns darker and darker, may our lights shine brighter and brighter. May the decisions we make concerning how we live reflect our “followship” of You, O Lord. I also pray for the “lost ones” who seem to be the furthest away from You. May they be the very ones whom You call to proclaim the Gospel in our day! Surprise us all, Abba!!! Amen.

Proverbs 18 10-18-19

If we are not careful, we can go through a day without consulting the Holy Spirit on any decision. NOT GOOD!

It’s more than that, though. Why would we want to go all day without talking to Him? He is the Source of our joy, our peace, our love, our comfort, and our hope! He has the words of life for us each day along with strength for the journey, grace for when we fail, and a strong right hand to help us up when we fall.

Unless, of course, the only reason you wanted Jesus was for fire insurance (not going to hell). In which case, I urge you to give Him your heart–your whole heart, your life–and commit each day to Him. Your “salvation” is not doing you any good if you don’t commune with Him every day about everything. It’s all about the relationship.

Fools find no pleasure in understanding
    but delight in airing their own opinions.

13 To answer before listening—
    that is folly and shame.

If the Holy Spirit is not calling a person, or the person is in rebellion, this foolish attitude rears its ugly head. We don’t “decide” to become a Christian. We answer the call of the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin and prompts us to receive Him into our hearts and lives. Nor do we go through each day deciding on our own what to do and what to say. God is not intolerant of your opinion, but we MUST take a backseat to His will.

Has it occurred to you, yet, that we cannot live our lives as we want to? When we became Christians, we gave our lives to Him. In fact, in order to BECOME Christians, we had to turn away from our sin and self–we had to die figuratively–and turn to Him. God made sure we understood what we are doing by giving us a picture of what happened to us: BAPTISM. It represents us dying, being buried, and being raised:

  1. We die to ourselves and give full control over to Christ;
  2. We are buried with Christ as He takes our sins to the grave;
  3. We are raised to walk in newness of Christ as the Holy Spirit begins the process of sanctification (becoming like Christ) .

Paul explains it so well in Romans 6:

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

We have died to sin. If this is NOT the case for you, then salvation has not happened to you, yet. If it has, then we begin EACH DAY with the conscious thought that we are now dead to sin and alive to Christ. MORE than that, “we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16).” We don’t make ourselves godly nearly as much as He makes us godly by transforming us on the inside. Our daily, hourly, continuously giving ourselves over to Him causes us to become more and more like Christ.

Here are some crucial daily instructions:

1. Fall in love with His Word. We do that by falling in love with Jesus. In doing so, we love His Word, which makes us fall even more in love with Jesus, and so on.

2. Place others’ needs before your own. Consider them before you consider yourself–especially in what we say. Their feelings before ours (there’s always a better way to say something). The Holy Spirit will work things out. In other words, the world will not fall apart if things aren’t done according to how you see them!

3. Acknowledge His presence in your mind–He’s right there over your shoulder, out of sight, but not out of earshot. In fact, He’s right by your ear! He doesn’t talk loudly, but in a gentle whisper. LISTEN FOR IT!

4. Find someone with which to fellowship and to share God-stories. It will inspire and encourage both of you, and cause you to pray (sometimes together) for each other. Connections are important!

This passage from Romans 8 tells us how we are to live:

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of [His] righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

Peter also encourages us to live for Him:

1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life [The Holy Spirit] through our [experiential] knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises [in His Word], so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by [our own] evil desires.

I know: Life’s a struggle, then we die. But, think about it: We cast off this old cloak of sinfulness and put on the immortal, glorified bodies that Jesus has waiting for us, and we get to stand in His presence whole and complete for as long as we like (I’m thinking eternity)! What hope! What a promise! In the words of Johnny Bisagno on a hot and miserable Falls Creek noon service, “He went through all that (the cross and its suffering) for you; can’t you live for Him?” I have vowed ever since to do just that!

Abba, keep me true to my promise to You even as I depend on You to keep Your promise to me. Become more and more real to me as we walk together. Thank You! Amen.

Proverbs 18 9-18-19

Where do you get your joy? Your foundation for strength? Your impetus? I get mine from knowing that Jesus is coming soon!

(10) The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

We trust in the name of Jesus for salvation. We trust in His promise that He is coming back. In fact, all of history gives us perspective on God and His plan for His children. The strong tower in which we trust is based upon what He has done and what He has told us will happen soon. Let’s take a look at the covenants that God has made with certain people throughout history:

God’s covenant with Noah-

“I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

Let’s look closely at this covenant:

  • It’s with all mankind and all living creatures. Not really understanding from where the waters came caused fear that it may happen again. God promised that it wouldn’t. Knowing what we know now, we understand why God would make such a promise. There was a hydroplate below the landmass of what is called Pangea. God pierced the hydroplate with His “finger” causing air to hit superheated water. The ensuing expansion of the superheated water split the earth beginning somewhere around Caesarea Philippi, heading down into the Indian Ocean and then splitting to go east, turning up the coast of the Americas, coming around Alaska, and heading back down the Asian coast to meet itself near New Zealand, and west, turning up the Atlantic and going all the way to near the north pole. Once this water quit expanding and everything cooled off, the broken land masses settled down into their current positions. This spectacular occurrence CANNOT happen again geologically.
  • The rainbow, which is an article from God’s very throne (see Rev. 4:3), was placed in the sky when storm clouds gather. This phenomenon happened with the clouds, which showed up because of the flood, as light was refracted through them. There were no rainbows before the Flood because there were no storms.
  • God’s sign is unalterable until He brings forth the New Jerusalem and the new heavens and new earth (Rev. 21-22). How that Day comes about is still a mystery, but we do have some clues given in 2 Peter: 10-13,

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed 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. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat [possibly from the heat of His gaze]. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

Whether it is a complete meltdown, which would usher in the new heavens and the new earth, or a restoring of earth to its former glory, which would usher in the Millennium and Christ’s physical reign in Jerusalem, we don’t know. All we know is that God has a plan and we can run to the stronghold of this Plan and be safe. “Don’t worry; be happy (in Jesus).”

Tomorrow, we will look at God’s covenant with Abraham and how it is still in effect today.  In the meantime, let’s take great comfort in God’s providence concerning our world and our future.

Abba, I love reading about Your interaction with people. I love the way You interact with me. Thank You for providing a way for us to be close. My heart goes out to those of the OT who couldn’t know You like I know You. I envy those of the NT who got to walk with You when You were on earth. I hurt for those who don’t know you now, especially those who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge You. Speak to their hearts, O God. They are deceived. Reveal TRUTH to them in dreams and visions. May they give their hearts and lives to You even as I have done. May it be soon because You are coming soon. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Amen.