Proverbs 19 7-19-21

Does God send people to hell? Or, do they simply not prepare for heaven? There is a difference.

3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.

It never ceases to amaze me that people accuse God of being brutal and unfair because He “sends people to hell” when they are not interested in doing anything God’s way or even having anything to do with Him. Could it be that God simply allows them to “have it their way?” There are two scripture passages that I would like to string together:

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

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God John 1:12

I did a little research on the word, “right.” It is a feminine noun, which means that it is passive (it needs outside power). The Greek word is eksousia and means “privilege, granted authority, conferred power; delegated empowerment, authorization.” Notice that each of these terms receives power from outside itself. Jesus gives us the privilege to become children of God. When we are born again, we are born with this inalienable “right.” It is the Holy Spirit who makes it happen. This right includes all the power and authority, protection and provision afforded by our heavenly Father.

It is never God’s intention to lose anyone to hell, but He does offer free will, and that free will requires complete free will. The choice to have nothing to do with God must be one of the choices. The righteous anger of Jesus Christ with the religious leaders had much to do with God’s love for them. The hinge verse for me is Matthew 23:13, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” In the midst of their arguing with Him, He offers them the opportunity to believe, “Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father” John 10:37-38. If the kingdom of heaven (of God) is in our midst, or within us (Luke 17:21), then it follows that we receive entry into the kingdom while here on this earth. To leave this earth without the kingdom of heaven within us leaves us nowhere to go but to a place that was originally created for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41). It doesn’t sound like God created hell for people at all!

Yes, there is a time of sentencing, so to speak (Matthew 22:11-13 and 25:41, 46), but it is really just the honoring of the choice made in life, the choice to have nothing to do with God. I include three quotes from C.S. Lewis,

“A man can’t be taken to hell, or sent to hell: you can only get there on your own steam.”
The Quotable Lewis, page 292

“I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside.
The Quotable Lewis, page 292

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.”
The Quotable Lewis, page 293

We must never forget that “God so loved that world that He gave His one and only Son.” Those who treat that great sacrifice with contempt will not want to stand in His glorious presence in heaven. They will look for any place else to be. Mercifully, God grants them their request: Hell. Does God send people to hell? Yes, at their insistence.

Abba, I know Your heart, that You desire no one to go to hell. I also know that you created us to choose. I choose You. Please work through me to “rescue those being led away to death” (Proverbs 24:11) by “snatching them from the fire” (Jude 23). You are the LORD Most High. All creatures will bow before You and confess “Jesus is LORD” (Isaiah 45:23 and Philippians 2:10-11). I pray that many will choose to bow BEFORE they see You face to face. Amen.

Proverbs 19 6-19-21

Our inner motivation drives our outward feelings. It’s why we get up every morning. What or Who is your inner motivation?

16 Whoever keeps commandments will live, but whoever shows contempt for their ways will die [spiritually and physically].

If we know the Lord Jesus, then we have His Spirit in us. 1 John 5:12 tells us, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” Our new life in Christ comes when the Spirit of God comes to live in our hearts. It is this transaction that saves a person. When does He come in? When a person is willing to give Him control of his life. This kind of trust only comes when we realize that what God has said in His Word is true and that we need Him. We hear His voice and answer His call to follow Him. It is at that time that the Spirit takes up residence in our hearts and lives.

He is our motivation to obey God. He is our desire to please Jesus. He gives us the “want-to to want to.” He is now the driving force in our lives–not us. When we came to Jesus, our lives began to change; parts of our lives changed quickly and easily whereas other parts have been slow and difficult. There are probably a few areas that He hasn’t touched, yet! That’s okay. Our relationship with sin has changed; it no longer condemns us, but now it just makes us more determined to get things right the next time. God uses what used to defeat us to strengthen us for our growth and His glory. How do we get there? Through consistent prayer and Bible study. Here’s my daily process:

I commit to mastering my flesh:

27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:27

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:20-21 Note: I like verse 21 because it reminds me that I live by grace and not by good works. My good works are BECAUSE of grace.

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power [the strategies of this world and my own designs], but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6

do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:4

Of course, we cannot master the flesh without mastering our minds:

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

26 to make her [the bride–us!] holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word [of God, the Bible],

My goal is to hear the voice of Christ. With these verses, I fine tune my ears to hear Him. I train my eyes to look for signs of the Spirit’s moving. I condition my mind to run to Him every time it strays to old paths. By doing so, I take what was once a stronghold and make it the very thing that ushers me into sweet fellowship with my Savior!

I challenge you to read these verses every morning for a week and see if your spiritual walk with Christ strengthens.

Abba, You know what I need. You have made it plain that I need to train my mind and my body to be obedient to You. I desire to please You, Lord. My whole motivation is to be like You. Keep chiseling; keep molding and shaping me into Your image. I want to be conformed into Your image (Romans 8:29) and transformed in Your likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18). Make it so, Abba, in Your time and according to Your plan. Meanwhile, use me for Your glory. Amen.

Proverbs 19 5-19-21

The greatest need for Christians today is connection. We are the BODY of Christ, not stand-alone Christians.

27 Stop listening to instruction, my child, and you will stray from the words of knowledge [spoken by other members of the body of Christ].

We need each other. I think each of us knows that we do; the problem is that we don’t realize how much. Christians didn’t think up corporate worship. God did. Ever since He called the Hebrew children to Himself (Leviticus 8:1-4), He has been calling His children to gather in His name. In fact, God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). Jesus Himself promised, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20.

What is so important about meeting together? Paul broke it down for us in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; we will look at specific verses.

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 

Paul states in Ephesians 1:22-23 that Christ is the head over everything for the church, which is His body. It is how He fills everything in every way in this world. Christ is reaching the world through His church, His body–us!

14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Each of us is unique, just like pieces in a puzzle. We each fit in a certain place in that puzzle. Without each one of us, the puzzle picture is not complete. I know that the entire picture will not be complete until we are all with Jesus in heaven, but until then, He is working on certain portions of the puzzle, the part where we fit in.

18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 

The Lord has taken great care to place each of us where we are: A particular family in a particular time and place in a particular church with the people in that church. He has us there for a reason, both for ourselves and for others, just as He wants us to be.

25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

It is for this reason that we congregate each week: If one part is suffering, the entire body suffers. The same goes for rejoicing. We cannot live as islands; we are CONNECTED by the Holy Spirit. It is He who forms us into one body for Christ and with Christ.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it

We each have our roles to play. We don’t even have to know how; our presence can be enough for Christ to use us in building up His church. The key is our presence, our being there physically. The church really does suffer when we as individuals are not there. I can’t explain it; it’s just a phenomenon of being part of the body of Christ. Don’t believe your presence is important? Consider this:

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

We need each other because we spur each other on toward love and good deeds. It’s that simple. We each have a task: Assemble. Most of us assemble one-two times a week, maybe three. But, what about prayer times with other Christians? What about Bible studies with other followers? Have you considered getting involved in one of these? Assembling is what God calls us to do. If we are faithful followers, then we will do as He commands. He calls us to Himself. He will meet with us in a unique way every time we gather in His name.

Abba, I pray that my readers will consider very seriously their commitment to gathering with You at church, whether it’s in the main service or in a smaller group. This topic is not one on which we can skimp. Our attendance is required. Help us to realize the importance of it and then recognize Your hand when You are moving in our midst. Do something special, Abba; do something amazing in our congregations! Amen.

Proverbs 19 4-19-21

Let’s be practical: What are some of the benefits of following Jesus? Love! Joy!” Peace! Hope! Grace! Let’s look at joy.

8 The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.

Jesus is joy. Joy is an expression of God. It’s part of His character, just like love and goodness. In fact, Jesus is the exact representation of the Father, “The Son [Jesus] is the radiance of God’s Shekinah glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Hebrews 1:3.

Not only that, Jesus is the Word of God, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1, 14.

Godliness means, “being like God.” We get to do that through Jesus. Likewise, being like Jesus is being like God. It’s nice to have an example, isn’t it?

Here’s the biggest statement in the Bible (to me): “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30. It’s big because I know that pleasing Jesus IS pleasing God. I don’t have to worry that I’m going to get reprimanded later because I misinterpreted what Jesus said and then get scolded by the Father. They are One. To know Jesus is to know God. If I please one, I am pleasing the other.

Jesus died to give us this opportunity. When Christ called us to follow Him we pledged to do so. We even got baptized signifying to the world that we are now followers of Christ. He came to live in us through His Spirit, through which He empowers us to try, encourages us to try again, and blesses us whether we succeed or fail (as long as we are trying).

Here is a noteworthy verse/passage:

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

As we live for Him rather than for ourselves, we know that “the joy of the LORD is our strength.” Nehemiah 8:10. The strength to do what? To live for Christ. Want to know the power of God? Then clothe yourselves with the joy of the LORD,

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:14

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

Enjoy the LORD today.

Abba, You are awesome! You have created a way for me to know You on a personal level. When I am enjoying Your Presence and participation in my life, I am filled with joy. I know Your love and sense Your peace. My hope is in You, O LORD. Thank You for Your daily grace. Fill me up, Abba, with YOU. Amen.

Proverbs 19 3-19-21

Why take things as face value? “Study to show yourself approved…” You may have learned false information.

2 Desire without knowledge is not good–how much more will hasty feet miss the way!

Our love for the Lord must be more than a feeling; it must grow legs and walk! At the same time, many people run ahead of the Lord because they think that they can guess what He’s up to. WRONG! We are not designed to do anything FOR God, but WITH God. He made us interactive on purpose, and that purpose is to be interactive with Him.

Today, we look at two passages that have been misused for centuries. One is clear if we do the math and the other is clear if we dig a little deeper than the English language. Here’s the first one:

38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”
39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.
Matthew 12:38-42

The Pharisees were asking for the sign of Moses, which was manna from heaven. We learn this bit of information from John 6:30-31. Jesus told them the only sign they were going to get from Him aside from His healings: He would spend three days and three nights in the belly of the earth just as Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the fish. There are two things that are taken for granted; One is that we can get three days and three nights from Friday to Sunday. The other is that Jesus died in 33 A.D. According to the astronomical charts, both are wrong.

  1. The Jewish day began at dusk. Counting backward from Sunday, we get Saturday night–which was really Sunday morning, Saturday, Friday night–which was really Saturday morning, Friday, Thursday night–which was really Friday morning, Wednesday night–which was really Thursday morning, and then Wednesday. Since Wednesday actually began on Tuesday at dusk, the Passover meal was Tuesday evening; Jesus was arrested that night, crucified at 9am, died at 3pm, and buried in Joseph’s tomb before dusk of Preparation day (Wednesday) to get ready for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a High Sabbath that began on Thursday that year–which was really Wednesday night. Confusing, right?
  2. Astronomical computer programs can tell us the year that the Feast of Unleavened Bread began on Thursday (Wednesday night). It was 30 A.D. This date correlates with other astronomical data (including rulers and moons) placing Christ’s birth at 3 B.C.
  3. The Feast of First Fruits is always on the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus arose sometime after dusk on Saturday as the First fruits of the resurrected. He, indeed, was in the grave three days and three nights.

One more thing about this passage is Jesus’ reprimand of the Pharisees. Nineveh praised Jonah, and the Queen of the South (Ethiopia- see 1 Kings 10:1-13) praised Solomon, but Jesus told them that He was greater than Jonah and Solomon. He was setting them up, but they didn’t realize it.

The second misinterpretation happens in Matthew 16:13-20. We will wait until tomorrow to discuss that one. Today, let us focus on the fact that regardless of bad translations, misguided theologians (from as far back as the 6th century), and well-meaning but proof-texting pastors, the Word of God stands pure, holy, and true. Sometimes, we just have to dig for that truth.

Abba, thank You for all the wonderful tools we have at our disposal today. What theologians throughout the centuries wouldn’t give for that astronomical computer program or the internet! My Bible program that gives me access to many translations and Hebrew/Greek dictionaries is amazing. I even have it on my phone at my convenience all the time! May I not take for granted Your Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth. Reading Your Word is the most important thing we do besides carrying on a conversation with You all the time. Help us to hunger and thirst after righteousness, Lord. Amen.

For more information about “Easter” and its origin, see “Why Easter? Why NOT Passover?”

Proverbs 19 2-19-21

Our relationship with Christ means nothing if He is not in charge. Is He not just resident, but President in your life?

20 Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

Listen! Do you hear His voice? What is He saying to you? Are you searching the Scriptures to find out? We find in His Word that He has demonstrated in other people’s lives what He will say, how He will respond, and what He desires. Do you care enough to seek out the answers? We bear out this question every day as He comes to us for fellowship. But, we must be willing to do as He directs; otherwise, we will not hear. We will have turned our attention to the chatter of a multitude of voices around us.

Our decision to seek out the Savior, listening and heeding what He tells us through His Spirit, is like entering the small gate that leads to life. Let’s read it:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

Luke says something similar, but goes further with the teaching:

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter [their way] and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” Luke 13:24-30

As we can see, knowing Christ on a personal and ongoing basis is essential for eternal life, which, by the way, begins the moment we receive Him into our hearts and lives. We don’t wait until we die to begin living eternally, for wherever Christ is, there is heaven! If He is in our hearts, then the kingdom of God is within us (Luke 17:21).

Again, I exhort you: LISTEN! Make time and determine in your hearts to pray to the Father, read His Word, seek His will, listen for the Spirit’s voice, and obey Your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You might begin with 2 Peter. Verses 3-11 of chapter one are whoppers! You might continue with Romans 12:9-21, which tell us how to live with our brothers and sisters. Ephesians 4:1-3, 29-32 teach us how to be like Christ in personal holiness. If not with these, start somewhere!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would catch a vision of what it looks like and feels like to be in communion with You. Allowing You to guide our thoughts and actions is what Christianity is all about. Our relationship with You means nothing if You are not in charge. Be in charge of me, Lord Jesus. I am Your humble servant. Amen.

Proverbs 19 1-19-21

We were never meant to do anything FOR God, but with Him. It’s the whole point of the cross, resurrection, and Pentecost.

2 Desire without knowledge [of what God really wants] is not good–how much more will hasty feet miss the way.

One of my favorite verses is a short one. It is Ephesians 5:10, “and find out what pleases the Lord.” Sounds simple enough, right? Then why do we fight Him so much when it comes to what HE wants? What DOES He want? Jesus told us in His priestly prayer,

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:24-26

This is not my first time to write about this subject. the problem comes when people ignore the purpose of salvation for the preference of something else–anything else! The purpose of salvation is for God to take up residence in us so that He can be with us forever. Consider this verse, “Anyone who loves Me will obey My teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23).

  1. To love Jesus is to obey Him. Why? Because anything else leads to destruction, and He loves us too much to leave us to our own devices. He came to show us the way, and that way is found in OBEDIENCE.
  2. “My Father will love them.” Who is His Father? The heavenly Father. GOD! “the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world” (John 16:27-28).
  3. They BOTH will come and make their home in us!

My mother and father came to live with Robin and me back in 2011. About two years in, my dad and I were working in the garage and I asked him why they left their home in Durant (they grew up around there), their friends, and their church to come up to OKC. My dad looked at me and said, “I got tired of not seeing you.” I have the feeling that God feels the same way about us.

If we don’t want an ongoing, personal relationship with the Father through the Son by way of the Holy Spirit, then we shouldn’t have taken Jesus up on His offer of salvation. In fact, if it was never our intent to live our lives with Him, then chances are you never really received salvation. Jesus said that salvation comes through Him–knowing Him, following Him, and loving Him.

For the rest of us, we need to get back to the basics of life, life with Christ. Do we love Him? Then let’s work on our sanctification WITH Him. That sanctification (becoming like Jesus) is achieved through the Word of God. “Sanctify them by way of the truth; Your Word is truth” (John 17:17).

The secret to the Word of God is prayer, which we will discuss tomorrow.

Father, thank You for coming and taking up residence in my heart. The fact that You, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are in me is amazing! Who could ask for anything more? In fact, knowing You are in me gives me confidence; I’m not afraid anymore. I know You love me and love being with me. It really is the point of the cross. May I never lose sight of the mystery of the ages, “which is Christ in me, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Amen.

The Basics of Life by 4Him

Proverbs 19 12-19-20

We revert so easily! One day without reading His Word: we notice. 2 days: our family notices. 3 days: the world notices! In fact, we begin to act just like the world again.

27 Stop listening to instruction, my child, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

As we continue in Colossians 3, we come to the part where we must engage with the LORD. Interaction with the Spirit is how we navigate this next passage.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 

The first thing we must notice here is that we are considered holy by God. Already! Our position in Him makes us thus. Also, there is a practical holiness, an interactive conversation that takes place every day that works our holiness from the inside out so that others can see it. “So then, my dear ones…continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] [from the inside out] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might discredit the name of Christ]. 13 For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing (desire) and the ability (power) to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasurePhilippians 2:12 AMP. You will notice that four of the five attributes are fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). We can easily add “compassion” to that list.

13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 

The next thing that we learn is that not everyone has a handle on these attributes–including ourselves! So, we must bear with patience, showering compassion on them while being kind and tenderhearted toward them in all humility and gentleness. We must remember that we have been forgiven much, so we CAN forgive the little that others do to us (in comparison to Christ’s forgiveness). We must remember Jesus’ parable of the Unmerciful (Unforgiving) Servant who was forgiven a great debt, but would not forgive his fellow servant a small debt. The Master was NOT happy with him (Matthew 18:21-35).

14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

His love is what saved us; it drives us, and it sustains us. It binds us together with other Christians in a way that we cannot understand, but we CAN enjoy. It is the reason that we get together. He promises that He will be with us in a unique and special way when we do, “For where two or three [or more] gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20. There is a special relationship and fellowship that goes on between two or three…but we will save that conversation for another time. Suffice it to know that His love binds all of the attributes (the fruit of the Spirit) together in perfect unity, which takes us a LONG way toward practical godliness (remember that we are already godly in our position in Christ).

Conclusion: To clothe ourselves with the fruit of the Spirit means that we have a connection to the Spirit and a fellowship with the Spirit that calls us into fellowship with other Christians. This fellowship is guided by Him in a unique way that showcases the love of God to the world. “They will know we are Christians by our love.” Jesus said, “In this way the world will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35. Our job is to be intentional about putting on those attributes and to be like Christ even as we fellowship with Him.

Tomorrow, we will discuss verses 15-17, which deal with peace, thankfulness, and worship.

Abba, I willingly and intentionally put on Your attributes of godliness: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, compassion, righteousness and truth (Ephesians 5:9). May I study Your word all the more diligently to learn how to apply these attributes and to become more and more like You (practically speaking). Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus, speak that my soul may hear. I look forward to our running conversation today. Amen.

Proverbs 19 11-19-20

What gives you your greatest satisfaction? Your wealth? A job well done? Relationships? What’s important to the Lord?

1 Better the poor whose walk is blameless than a [rich] fool whose lips [ways] are perverse.

As Christians, our greatest satisfaction should come in two ways. One is in our fellowship with the Father through the Spirit, and the other is in becoming like Jesus. The nice part is that we get one with the other. Jesus doesn’t want us to try to become like Him without His guidance, direction, and assistance. Consider these natural traits and then their spiritual opposites:

Entitlement——————————–Selflessness
Pride——————————————Abandon (of self-consideration)
Vanity—————————————-Humility
Impatience———————————Kindness
Selfishness———————————Self-denial
Anger—————————————-Compassion
Sloth (laziness)—————————Diligence
Lust——————————————-Pure thoughts
Spite——————————————Forgiveness
Rage——————————————Gentleness
Hate——————————————Love
Gluttony————————————Temperance

Our problem is not IF we have trouble in any of these areas, but HOW they express themselves in our daily life. Jesus wants to help us with transforming these liabilities into virtues. Each of the natural traits is a raw, unrefined, unfocused, and even perverted form of the corresponding spiritual trait. It requires spiritual energy to put off the natural and put on the spiritual. Yet, that spiritual energy is exactly what Jesus wants to give us through His Spirit/Presence!

Consider this analogy: My father could give me a hammer and tell me to build a dog house. At 35, it would be easy, but at 4, it would be unreasonable. Given the fact that Jesus calls us little children, I am betting that we are more like 3 or 4 spiritually. So, instead of my father giving me a hammer and then expecting me to use it correctly, he puts the hammer in my hand and then places his hand over mine. When I swing at a nail, it’s really HIS aim and HIS power that does all the work–yet, I get the credit!

The same goes for each of these natural traits. Let’s look at some verses that help us understand this concept:

21 If you really listened to him [Yeshua] and were instructed about him, then you learned that since what is in Yeshua is truth, 22 then, so far as your former way of life is concerned, you must strip off your old nature, because your old nature is thoroughly rotted by its deceptive desires; 23 and you must let your spirits and minds keep being renewed, 24 and clothe yourselves with the new nature created to be godly, which expresses itself in the righteousness and holiness that flow from the truth. Ephesians 4:21-24 Complete Jewish Bible

Therefore, put to death the earthly parts of your nature — sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed (which is a form of idolatry);
Never lie to one another; because you have stripped away the old self, with its ways, 10 and have put on the new self, which is continually being renewed in fuller and fuller knowledge, closer and closer to the image of its Creator. 
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with feelings of compassion and with kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with one another; if anyone has a complaint against someone else, forgive him. Indeed, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive.

14 Above all these, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together perfectly; 15 and let the shalom which comes from the Messiah be your heart’s decision-maker, for this is why you were called to be part of a single Body. And be thankful — Colossians 3:5, 9-10, 12-15

Colossians 3:16 tells us the secret ingredient to a Christ-like life, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” The CJB says, “let the Word of the Messiah, in all its richness, live in you That’s not asking too much, is it? If Christ asked us to meet with other believers for fellowship each week, we wouldn’t think that was too much would we? Or, to give 10% of our check? or, give to missions or a friend in need? So, why is it so hard for us to read His Word daily and diligently? Because Satan knows that if he can keep us from reading, then he can keep us from having spiritual victory in our lives!

Brothers and sisters, let’s ingest the Living Bread by reading His Word daily. Let’s “crave the pure milk of the Word” and delight in its richness.

Abba, I pray that You will generate within us a hunger and a thirst for Your Word. May the Scriptures come alive to us! Speak to our hearts as we read and help us apply Your truths to our lives. Thank you for the wonderful gift of Your words, O LORD, that we may KNOW exactly what You mean, what You desire, and what You have in store for us. Amen.

Proverbs 19 10-19-20

Seasons of refreshing come from meeting with Jesus. It’s important to meet with Him; it’s how we get to know Him.

2 Desire [to know Christ] without knowledge [taking time to get to know Him] is not good–how much more will hasty feet [too busy to stop and spend quality time with Him in prayer, Bible study, and fellowship/worship] miss the way.
3 A person’s own folly [thinking that he knows best] leads to their ruin [the missing of the blessing of a close relationship with the LORD], yet their heart rages against the LORD [as if it’s His fault that they wouldn’t take time to meet with Him!].

In Mark 5, we read the account of Jairus the synagogue ruler and the healing of his daughter. We also find the account of the woman who had been ill for 12 years. Each of these people had an encounter with Jesus. Do you think they were grateful? I sure do! I wonder if they desired more time with Jesus? Did they follow Him from then on?

How about you? From what did Jesus set you free when you encountered Jesus? Were you grateful? Are you still grateful? Do you desire more time with Him? The good news is that WE CAN HAVE MORE TIME WITH HIM. He calls us every day to set aside some time for just you and Him. Don’t be in such a hurry (and full of yourself) that you miss out on the TRUE BLESSING of your salvation.

Take a look at the disciples in verse 40, “After He put them all out [of the house], He took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with Him [Peter, John and James (Luke 8:51)], and went in where the child was.” What was the purpose of these three getting to witness this miracle? These three also got to experience the Mount of Transfiguration (see Mark 9:2-8). When we look at history, God used these three in extraordinary ways in building His Church. We get to hear from them each time we read their letters in our Bibles. In fact, we get to experience their experiences as we read about them because Jesus affirms in our hearts the truth of these experiences. He opens our minds to what He was showing them: His divinity. Our faith (our hope and trust, our reliance) is increased when we read these encounters in His Word.

In many ways, we are still in school. We are learning to be godly even as we learn what godliness is. One of my favorite verses is Titus 2:12, “It [the grace of God] teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” God’s grace, which is the active ingredient in our salvation, a.k.a. the Holy Spirit, teaches us. There are times for instruction and then times of practice; there are times of demonstration and then times of experimentation where we try out what we have learned. If we keep this concept in mind, it will help us to discipline ourselves and spend the time and effort with the LORD we need to learn how to be like Him.

Are you truly grateful? Then apply yourself to the spiritual disciplines of prayer, the study of Scriptures, and talking about the LORD with those around you–family, friends, strangers at Wal-mart, etc.

Abba, I pray that You will become bigger and bigger in our lives so that being with You and being like You becomes our biggest desire. May we see You in action around us and join You in Your work. Open our eyes, LORD, to You and what You are doing in the lives of those around us even as we spend intimate time with You. Amen.

Proverbs 19 9-19-20

“Don’t confuse me with facts; my mind is already made up.” This is the case of most people when presented with the Gospel.

3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD. They have plans and don’t want them interrupted–even by the LORD!

21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. They can’t have their way and salvation, too. We come when He calls; otherwise, we can’t come.
29
Penalties are prepared for mockers, and beatings for the backs of fools. They were never intended, but how else can God get their attention? If you want a prime example of the human heart, read the account of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt in Exodus and Numbers (you can skip the lists). It just proves that even though they were taken out of Egypt, Egypt was still in their hearts. We know that only Jesus can remove Egypt from our hearts and replace it with His Holy Spirit.

Matthew 12:1-14 provides us with an account of Jesus that should have brought all of the rulers of Israel to faith. In it, we find:

  1. The disciples picking grain and eating it on the Sabbath. When questioned, Jesus said that He was greater than the temple and Lord of the Sabbath (v.6-7).
  2. Jesus entered the synagogue (church) and healed a man with a shriveled hand. He gave good reasoning for it, too (v.9-13). In this act, He proved that He was Lord of the Sabbath and greater than the temple.
  3. Did the Pharisees believe and follow Jesus? NO! They “went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.” Matthew 12:14.

In Proverbs, we find these types of people:

  1. The wise–those who strive to see from God’s perspective and practice obedience.
  2. The simple–“a person who is gullible, without moral direction and inclined to evil” (my note at the bottom of the page).
  3. The fool–a person who knows the good that he should do, but doesn’t care and goes about his own way.
  4. The mocker–a fool who gets angry or haughty with a righteous person. Proverbs teaches that a person who is in this frame of mind is not able to perceive truth and should be left alone–even avoided.

Which one describes the Pharisees’ attitude at this point in the account? They were mockers. Jesus called them blind guides and hypocrites, white-washed tombs, snakes and vipers, and murderers (Matthew 23:13-36). Was Jesus condemning them? NO! He was trying to get them to repent. How do I know? It tells us in the last verses of the chapter:

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Matthew 23:37-39

Jesus was willing, but they weren’t. What does this passage say to us? It means that we are to be discerning when talking to people about Christ. Pay attention to the Spirit and to the attitude of the person. It also teaches us that as long as a person has breath, he can repent, so we continue to pray, calling on Jesus to do whatever it takes to open their eyes to the truth about their sin and Jesus’ willingness to forgive them and embrace them. It’s the heart of the Gospel.

Abba, please, please, please keep us from falling into the old traps of sin and selfishness. Renew us daily in Your Word and with Your Spirit. Make us wise, O LORD, that we may see from Your perspective. Give us discerning hearts so that we can tell what kind of person to which we are talking. It’s a daily thing, isn’t it? Then let us do it daily! Amen.

 

Proverbs 19 8-19-20

So, you’ve decided to follow Christ. Now what? The first step is taken; what’s the next step? and the next?

2 Desire without knowledge is not good–how much more will hasty feet miss the way!

NOTE: Scriptures in red have links.

We have been forgiven much, so much that we simply cannot fathom His grace. We will spend the rest of our lives–both here on earth and in eternity–delving the depths of His love for us. The best news is that He now lives in You. You are partners with Him from now on. Every thought you have is fused with His thoughts; every motivation you have is fused with His will; the voice you hear is fused with your voice. But, how do we distinguish His voice from our voice? His will from our will? His thought from our thoughts?

The best place to start is understanding where we were before coming to meet Christ.

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. Ephesians 2:1-3 NLV

  1. We were dead spiritually. Jesus told us that we needed to be born again (John 3:3).
  2. We were children of the devil, obeying him. Jesus told the Pharisees (the most religious people in Israel) that their father was the devil (John 8:44).
  3. We followed the passions of our hearts, which were amplified desires (Romans 1:24).
  4. We were children of God’s wrath and anger. God has revealed ours to us (Romans 1:18)  and we, therefore, turned from our sin and sought forgiveness!
  5. THEREFORE, any thought, motivation, or voice that runs along the vein of the old self is us and can be influenced by the Enemy.

The best place to go after such a pitiable start is:

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!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7 NLV

  1. God is rich in mercy, and He loves us so much! Here’s a quote I learned in high school, “I asked Jesus how much He loved me. He said, ‘This much,’ and He stretched out His arms and died.”
  2. He rose from the dead so that we could rise from the dead! He holds the keys to death and hell (Revelation 1:18) and He says that we need not fear death again (John 11:25-26).
  3. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places (don’t ask me to explain this one).
  4. We are examples of His grace and kindness that He shows the world. We attract people to Jesus (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).
  5. THEREFORE, we can count on Him reminding us who we are and what we are about. We are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), and righteous in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

May we never forget these words, And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. 1 john 5:11-12 NLV

It’s always good to remember that we have been saved from sin, forgiven and adopted into God’s family; we are being conformed to the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:29 NIV); one day, He will take us to be with Him (John 14:1-3, John 17:24). Folks, it just doesn’t get any better than that!

Abba (Daddy), You are wonderful! You are amazing! You are inspiring! May I follow closely on the heels of Jesus today. Jesus, guide me with Your counsel (Psalm 73:23-24). Holy Spirit, teach me, rebuke me–it is a kindness! (Psalm 141:5)–correct me and train me in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). My worst day in the woodshed with You, O LORD, is better by far than the best day here on earth with the rich and famous (it’s a lot like fishing and work, i.e. The worst day of fishing is better than the best day at work). Lead on; I will follow. Amen.

Proverbs 19 7-19-20

Get angry easily? Got a quick fuse? Have trouble controlling your physical reaction? Get in line!

19 A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty; rescue him, and you will have to do it again.

Many don’t realize that anger (wrath) is a godly emotion. The problem is that we humans cannot express it in a holy fashion.

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 Selfishness and Sloth. Today, we cover Anger, Spite, and Rage.

Anger- Anger, which is also known in the Bible as wrath, is what we feel when things don’t go the way we think they should. In many cases, they ought to go the way we think they should, but in a whole lot of other ones, we get angry because we don’t get our way, we are frustrated, caught off-guard, embarrassed, trapped, tired, impatient, or out of control. As we can see, there are many ungodly reasons for our anger. Getting angry is not a sin; allowing our anger to control us is. Anger moves us to action, but we must make sure that we are acting according to the LORD’s direction. Also, going to bed angry is harmful. In fact, Paul tells us, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27. God wants us to come to Him when we are angry. We should never try to get even or to seek revenge, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 and also Deuteronomy 32:35. In fact, Paul and James both tell us to be kind and tenderhearted to our enemies. I’m sure they learned it from Jesus, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:43-45. The best weapon we have against anger is prayer. The moment we feel angry, we need to run to the Father. Tell Him about it and ask what we are to do. In the physical, we may need to separate ourselves from the situation for a moment or two until we have done this. To keep our eyes from betraying us, we probably should bow our heads while we pray. Also, we should try to not express our anger by getting physical: hitting the wall or someone, kicking the trash can, etc. Going for a walk/run is acceptable, as long as we pray while we do it. 

Spite- A type of revenge.

Rage- Out of control anger.

Here’s the deal: We’re all good at justifying our anger, wrath, spite and rage. We might even justify our “flying off the handle” with someone, even hitting him/her. The problem is that this type of behavior is OC (Old Covenant). It’s what lost people do. Jesus has put us to death to this way of living. We are resurrected to walk a new way and a new path. His Spirit is in us so that we can learn to NOT act this way. If you’re wondering what God likes concerning how we interact with people, let’s look at Ephesians 4:29-32,

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

  1. No unwholesome talk…only what is helpful for building other up according to their needs. Wow! That’s a pretty tall order. WE NEED HELP! WE NEED THE HOLY SPIRIT! It’s a good thing we have Him!!!
  2. Grieve- choke, strangle, cause anguish, quench (1 Thess. 5:19). He is our salvation. Listen to Him.
  3. Get rid of- Leave at the throne. Receive His love, joy and peace; give forgiveness, kindness, and gentleness; serve your adversary instead of fighting him/her.
  4. Remember that Christ forgave us, therefore, we have what it takes to forgive them. In fact, we can go beyond just forgiving our adversaries to serving them. It gives the Spirit the opportunity to convict them of their sin.

Take it from someone who has an explosive anger–me! It CAN be done over time and with much agonizing. But, it’s worth it. Just to feel the Father’s pleasure makes it worth it! Other things we gain: Closer family and friends, respect, self-respect, and brothers instead of enemies.

Abba, I pray for all of us that we would see the dangers of anger and apply ourselves to ridding our lives of its toxic effects. May we run to You and depend on You every time we get angry. I know that You will guide us in what to do about the situation. May we be Christ to those around us especially during times of strife and discord. May You be praised and glorified in all we think, say and do. Amen.

Proverbs 19 6-19-20

The Lord’s voice is behind us, but where are His arms? Around us!

22 What a person desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar [one who says he loves God, but chases after money or power or influence or fame, etc].

One of my favorite verses in Isaiah is 30:21, which says, “And you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” THAT’S how I hear the Spirit’s voice. In the words of Jimmy Cox, “I don’t hear His voice audibly–it’s much louder than that.” Very true!

We have His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Our job is to keep our minds/posture/attention turned toward Him. “Breathe in the Spirit, breathe out the flesh…breathe in the Spirit, breathe out the flesh…” What our job is NOT is to do things FOR Him. He doesn’t need our “help.” Abraham and Sarah tried to “help” God and they wound up with Ishmael (look how that worked out!). God is reaching around us and working; He’ll let us know when and how we can join Him. We just need to stay connected to the Spirit. One of the BEST ways is through the Word of God. Here’s why:

27 Stop listening to instruction, my child, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

God has placed–literally–in our hands His revelation of His overarching plan, His character, His desires, and His warnings. Let’s learn what He has written down for us even as He teaches us while we read. Saying we don’t have time to read is really saying we don’t have time for God. If we want to love our Lord, we will spend time with Him in His Word. Let’s place ourselves in a position to hear His voice. We need to seek His face and humble ourselves in His presence. When we do, we will be awash with His Love, His Joy, and His Peace. Let’s enjoy the EMBRACE of God!

Keep this word picture in mind: The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field [the Gospel planted in a life]. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches [it ministers to those around it].” Matthew 13:31-32 Jesus is growing the Kingdom of Heaven in you!

Abba, please show us snippets of the fact that You are growing the Kingdom of Heaven in us. May we get little revelations all day as You make us aware of how You are growing us into trees that minister to those around us. Help us to stay focused on You, but to keep our hands at our sides until You tell us what to do with them–our mouths, too. Thank You for loving us and for wanting to interact with us! WOW! The King of the universe wants to walk with me! Now that’s a thought that will keep me going all day. Love you. Amen.

Proverbs 19 5-19-20

“Find out what pleases the Lord.” Do you have the desire? Do you care what He likes? His followers do!

2 Desire without knowledge is not good–how much more will hasty feet miss the way!

God wants to show us what pleases Him. It’s all wrapped up in our relationship with Him. He doesn’t want us to do stuff FOR Him, but WITH Him. He will reveal what pleases Him as we get to it in our walk with Him. A lot of what He likes is already printed in His Word, but even that needs clarity and definition by the Spirit.

Yesterday, we looked at D.O.ing the will of God through D.iscernment and O.bedience. We discern what the Spirit is saying to us and then we obey using His power and His direction. The quote at the beginning is actually Ephesians 5:10. Let’s look at the previous verses:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light [our behavior should show it] (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth [His light within us produces all that is good, right and true]) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord.

  1. Asking Him pleases Him.
  2. Searching for it as for hidden treasure (Proverbs 2:4) pleases Him.
  3. Enjoying His company, growing in grace and bearing the fruit of the light pleases Him.
  4. Realizing that we are loved, worthy and already pleasing to Him pleases Him!

We are most like Christ when we are completely dependent upon the Holy Spirit and are striving to show God to others as we enjoy His fellowship and participation in our lives. That’s a description of Jesus’ relationship with the Father while He was on earth. Easy to say, hard to do. It takes trust through repetition, then trust through repetition, then trust through repetition. etc.

Take Abraham for example.

  • He was promised by God to become the father of many nations; he allowed Pharoah to take Sarai into his harem. God rescued her.
  • God made a covenant with Abraham (and changed his name), and promised once again to make him into a nation that would outnumber the stars and the sands of the sea; he took Sarai’s slave and had a child with her.
  • God made yet another covenant with Abraham (circumcision); Abraham allowed King Abimelek to have intentions with Sarah (name change). God rescued her again!
  • Finally, Isaac is born! Was God ever mad at Abraham? It’s not indicated anywhere that He was–although, He did say that Ishmael would be a problem from then on. Boy, was He right about that!

Neither is He mad at us when we mess up. He simply rescues us and calls us to walk with Him. Again. and again. Until we are finally perfected in His actual presence in heaven. Let’s not buy the lie of Satan that we can disappoint God. It’s impossible to disappoint the One who knows us inside and out–yet, loves us anyway! He knew what He was getting Himself into. We are His and that’s all that matters to Him. Let’s revel in that revelation! In fact, knowing this little fact about God just makes us love Him more and want to serve Him more.

Abba, it thrills my soul to know that You are crazy in love with me. It makes me wanta SHOUT! I want to please You even as I am pleasing to You. Direct me each day; give me discernment and revelation concerning Your will and I will enthusiastically obey Your command–with Your presence, power, and participation. Let’s get to it! Amen.

Proverbs 19 4-19-20

Don’t be deceived! Continue to gaze into the law of God’s love, which is the Bible. It’s the only standard we need.

2 Desire without knowledge is not good–how much more will hasty feet miss the way!

We tend to get ahead of the Lord in our haste to do all we need to do in a day. It’s called “the tyranny of the urgent.” It’s a self-made world, sometimes by default and sometimes by design. Carving out time to spend in God’s Word is essential. In fact, I believe I can sum up the Bible and its relevance to our lives in one word:

CONVERSATION

The Bible is God’s tangible resource to speak to us. As we read his words, He prompts us in our thoughts. We think about what He means and find ourselves in a conversation with Him! If we want to see Jesus clearly, we must view Him through the lens of Scripture. Jesus Himself said, If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. John 15:7. We must abide (live, dwell, linger) in His Word and allow His words to abide (rule, transform, align) us. Only then will we be able to discern between truth and lies.

Lies? What lies? Let’s see:

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie,10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12

Notice WHEN God sends the delusion. It’s AFTER they have not believed the truth and have delighted in wickedness. This timing goes along with Romans 1 where Paul describes wicked and godless people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. In other words, they work really hard to muddle, explain away, ignore, and downright refute the truth in God’s Word. It comes from their futile thinking and their darkened, foolish hearts (Romans 1:18-21).

How will the lawless one deceive the nations? It’s becoming more obvious every day: THE MEDIA. Consider these verses from Ephesians 2:1-2,

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

Our society is becoming more and more dependent upon our phones, tv’s, and other electronic devices. God uses these devices to His own glory, but the airwaves currently belong to Satan. He is the current ruler of the kingdom of the (physical) heavens John 14:30. We also have this promise in 2 Thessalonians 2:8,

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth* and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 

We take comfort in these words, but we also ought to receive a warning from them. We cannot trust the world system. We cannot even trust our own denomination! We must trust in His Spirit revealing truth to us daily through His Word. Let’s make a pact that we will “do our best to present ourselves to God as ones approved,  workers who do not need to be ashamed and who correctly handle the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (stylized).

15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 2 Thessalonians 2:15

Abba, it’s pretty scary out there, but I know that You have this. You have me. You have us! I know that according to Your Word that all those who follow the prince of this world will be judged. “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus…they will be shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to marveled at among all those who have believed.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10. Thank You for leading me to these verses today! I take refuge and courage from them. Sing and teach through me today, O Lord. Amen.

*The breath of the Lord’s mouth is the double-edged sword of His tongue. “Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.” Revelation 19:15. “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.” Revelation 2:12. “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword [a scalpel], it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12.

Proverbs 19 3-19-20

Relationships are a big deal where heaven is concerned: Christ, our family, friends, even enemies. It’s all about CONNECTION.

The poor [in relationships] are shunned by all their relatives—
    how much more do their friends avoid them [in times of trouble]!
Though the poor [in relationships] pursue them with pleading,
    they are nowhere to be found [when they are needed most].

Of course, our relationship with Christ is first and foremost. We connect with Him in prayer everyday so that when the day of TRIAL comes, we are not having to learn how to listen and follow closely during difficult times. I’m not saying that staying close to Jesus insulates us from hard times or the feelings that come with them–we all deal with those feelings! I’ve been having to deal with the extra work that our current crisis has caused. Other people are having to deal with financial stress; others with what to do with children who are not in school. Still others who have pre-existing conditions are concerned about their health. If you have been lackadaisical in your time with the LORD, NOW is the time to turn to Him. The tendency is to continue on the path we have been traveling, which means that if a person has NOT established a solid relationship with the LORD, then during crisis, he will continue in his own strength and intellect. What we must remember is that we are SHEEP. We are also confined to three dimensions. Satan is not. He sets traps for us left and right. If we are not following closely to Christ and staying on the straight and narrow way, then we will fall into his traps.

20 Listen to advice and accept discipline,
    and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

Let’s be counted among the wise by placing ourselves at His feet each day, walking with Him throughout the day, and following His directions constantly. Let’s listen to His advice and accept His discipline (correction and training). In doing so, we will be counted among the wise when crisis comes and our anchor holds.

23 The fear of the Lord leads to life;
    then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

When we regard the LORD Jesus as our King, we are safe under His umbrella of responsibility. We can rest in the knowledge that in our obedience, we are blameless. Trouble may come, but it can never sever our relationship with Christ, nor can it bring condemnation upon us because we are safe under His protection and love. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (see Romans 8:31-39).

May we take to heart what Jesus said to Peter, James and John on the night of His arrest:

37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,”he said to Peter, are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:37-38

I like to add, “WAKE UP!” to the sentence. Let’s WAKE UP and watch and pray so that we will not fall into temptation. Part of us (the part influenced by the Holy Spirit) wants to be holy, faithful, and consistent, while the other part of us (the part influenced by our flesh, our natural person) makes us wait, drag our feet, or find something else to do. Peter learned a hard lesson that night. Let’s not have to learn the same lesson!

Abba, I know I’m preaching to myself here. Even as I type these words, I hear Your Spirit saying, “That’s right; stay the course!” I repent of my selfish attitude about having more work to do. I want to respond to the needs of the day with righteous enthusiasm, for I know that You will be using our present circumstances to bring Yourself glory, and I want to be part of that process. Give me a willing heart, O God. I also ask for patient endurance–I know I need it! Leaning on You, Amen.

Proverbs 19 2-19-20

Need a boost spiritually this morning? Read Psalm 51 and you will find yourself at His throne of grace.

16  Whoever keeps commandments keeps their life, but whoever shows contempt for their [the commandments’] ways will die.

We tend to forget that obedience is what pleases the LORD. Now, on one hand, we are always pleasing to the LORD because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. But, on the other hand, He delights in those who listen to His voice (His leadership) and obey.

The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse, but he delights in those whose ways are blameless. Proverbs 11:20

“Blameless” means that we are under His rule and therefore under His protection. When we are obedient, then He takes any fall-out from our obedience upon Himself. Jesus Himself will present us blameless (without fault) and with great joy to the Father in His glorious presence (Jude 24)!

20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to himthrough Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

There’s no way around it: If God is going to work in us what is pleasing to Him, then it will be through Jesus Christ in us. We have been equipped with the Holy Spirit so that we will know WHAT He wants us to do, WHEN He wants us to do it, HOW to do it, and will give us the POWER to do it. King David prayed for a willing spirit, one that WANTS to do the LORD’s will. Do you have such a spirit?

If yes, then read Psalm 51 and identify with so many of the phrases David uses:

  • Unfailing love
  • Whiter than snow
  • a pure heart
  • Renewal of a steadfast, transformed heart
  • the joy of His salvation
  • Declared praise
  • a broken spirit and contrite heart
  • God’s delight in the sacrifice of the righteous

If not, then read Psalm 51 and identify with the theme of the psalm and with several of the phrases David used:

  • Have mercy on me, O God
  • According to Your great compassion
  • blot out my transgressions
  • Wash away my iniquity
  • Cleanse me from my sin
  • Cleanse me, wash me
  • Create in me a pure heart, O God
  • My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. 2 Thessalonians 6:2b

“Now is the day to capitalize on your day of salvation.” Have you emptied yourself before Him and asked Him to come in and fill you with His Spirit? NOW is the appointed time; the Holy Spirit is pleading with you RIGHT NOW to do it! This process is one that we are to do often: Anytime we feel that our spirits are being led astray, when we want to feel His Presence and Participation in our lives, before praying for others…anytime!

May “that great Shepherd of the sheep” shepherd us today!

Abba, I pray for those reading this lesson that they would take to heart this prayer/process and do it, live by it, and watch You work in their lives. Of course, I include myself in this prayer. May David’s psalm be the very prayer that ushers revival into our hearts and lives. So be it!

 

Proverbs 19 1-19-20

What we believe determines how we interpret events in our lives. Is God interactive in our day-to-day lives?

27 Stop listening to instruction, my child, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

The Spirit is constantly teaching us. He shows us great and mighty things in His Word; He reveals truth to us as we listen to people and observe events; He speaks to us through others as they share what He has revealed to them. The determining factor is how we are interpreting His teaching. As I see it, we have two filters:

Filter #1: Our own filter. WE are on the throne of our lives and WE make the final decision of what we believe to be true; WE decide what we want and what’s good for us. The problem with this filter is that we simply don’t know enough to make a logical, rational decision about anything. We don’t know the detailed and current (like, that day) history behind events or people; we don’t know what people are thinking; we certainly don’t know the future. How can we make an intelligent decision about anything? There are  two verses earlier in the chapter that apply:

2 Desire without knowledge is not good–how much more will hasty feet miss the way! I get a mental image of a young dog on a long leash…

3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD. Somehow, it always winds up being God’s fault–or someone else’s fault, but never the person’s fault…

Filter #2: We allow God to be God in the world and in our lives. We trust that no matter what happens, HE is in control and will guide us through it, using us as He sees fit as witnesses for Him and testaments to His grace and glory. Even our deaths can bring Him glory! Jesus is using us to reach others, and that involves risk. He said that He would never leave us or forsake us and would carry us to His side. Let’s let that be our goal. There are two verses in today’s chapter that apply:

21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Let’s make His plans our plans.

23 The fear of the LORD leads to [true and everlasting] life; then one rests content [in the outcome], untouched [not bothered by] by trouble. Even death doesn’t scare us because we have a wonderful future in store for us on the other side!

Let’s “study to show ourselves approved, workmen who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing and correctly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15. We will find that our faith grows much faster if we apply ourselves to learning His Word even as He reveals His will to us through His Word.

Abba, as we worship in our respective houses of worship today with our friends and family, may we focus on You and Your love for us, and Your plans for us. May today be all about YOU. Help us to use the correct filter as we study Your Word and hear from You through our pastors. “Speak to our hearts, Lord Jesus, speak that our souls may hear.” I am listening. Amen.

Proverbs 19 12-19-19

Do we desire godliness more than anything and anyone? Being like God means letting God live through us.

3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.

If we do something a certain way, we are going to get a certain outcome. If we live according to the world, we will get a worldly outcome. If we live according to our own likes and dislikes, we will get what we want–for a season. Then, when things start breaking down, we have a choice: To blame God or to take full responsibility for our predicament. If we belong to God, then He will teach us, rebuke us, correct us and train us in righteousness according to His Word. If we do not belong to God, then we will go right on believing that we are in control of our lives and our destiny.

25 Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence;
    rebuke the discerning, and they will gain knowledge.

There are three types of people here:

  1. The mocker, who not only demands his way, but either makes fun of everyone who disagrees with him or takes their disagreement personally and gets mad at them.
  2. The simple, who are watching. They learn–hopefully–by watching what happens to the mocker. Their tendency, though, is to need flogging to learn.
  3. The discerning, who perceives things from God’s perspective, which is the very definition of godly wisdom. They receive a rebuke from God’s hand of correction and gain knowledge on how to be wise and godly.

There are several key verses that give us a great foundation for godly living:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another [and with Him], and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us [teaches us to stay away] from all[b] sin. 1 John 1:7

20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me [this is a daily invitation]. Revelation 3:20

12 For the word of God is alive and active [in our lives]. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges [perceives] the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts. Hebrews 4:12

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17. What is interesting is that there are only two things on which God breathed: Man and Scripture; both came to life! That breath is the Holy Spirit. Want Him to breathe on you? Get into His Word. What does His breath feel like when He breathes on us through His Word? It feels like peace, love, joy, knowledge, discernment, hope, grace, wisdom, prudence, and much more according to our situation and what we need.

If we choose to NOT take the time to read His Word, it means that we consider it either unworthy of our consideration, unnecessary for the day, or contrary to what we want to do today, all of which speaks of either a breach of fellowship or a lack of relationship. I refer once again to our Proverbs verse for today:

3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.

Let’s not go there, shall we?

Abba, may I take to heart my own words and spend time with You in prayer and in Your Word. The instruction I receive from You is like honey, O Lord; it is sweet to my mouth and mind, and it gives me strength for the tasks ahead. May I not get so uptight about following Your will. If I will spend time with You each day and then listen for Your voice as I walk through the day, I WILL BE in the center of Your will. It’s all about the relationship, isn’t it, Abba? Thank You for wanting to spend time with me. Amen.

Proverbs 19 11-19-19

We are all students, ever growing in our faith. In what is your faith? Is it in Christ Jesus? Then continue to learn!

2 Desire without knowledge is not good–how much more will hasty feet miss the way!

8 The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.

27 Stop listening to instruction, my son [child], and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

The Spirit of God lives in our hearts. By the grace of God we live in Him. Jesus is the grace of God and He lives in our hearts. Therefore, this verse refers to the process of transformation that He is doing in our hearts:

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

We can learn all the verses in the Bible, but without the Spirit to interpret them for us, to tell us what they mean and how to apply them to our lives, to give us the desire to do them and the power to carry them out, we are back where we started. SALVATION is a one-time event, but it is also a process, SANCTIFICATION, which is Christ making us holy, setting us apart for Himself, making us to look like Him in character.

We will also be saved in the future, GLORIFICATION, where we receive our new bodies that do not have the sin nature in them anymore! Hallelujah!!!

13 while we wait for the blessed hope–the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Those who belong to Christ are eager to do good. Our first act of righteousness each morning is to acknowledge Christ’s presence and sovereignty in our lives for the day. Our next act of righteousness should be to immerse ourselves in His Word as we continue to fellowship with Him in prayer. In this way, we learn to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives–no matter how bad it gets out there!

Abba, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ that they will have that “higher desire” to rise above their own feelings and desires to make Your desires their priority. I know that when we do, Your love, joy and peace flow freely from Your throne as we enjoy Your presence! There is no higher honor and no greater blessing than communing with You even as we go about our day. Stretch us and grow us, O Lord. Give us that higher desire! Amen.

 

Proverbs 19 10-19-19

The problem with sin is that it takes over and becomes all we want, but it doesn’t ever deliver. It just demands more.

A person’s own folly leads to their ruin,
    yet their heart rages against the Lord.

The risk God took in making us in His image is that we get to choose our own way. The problem is that without the Holy Spirit to show us the RIGHT way, the way of life, we automatically choose the wrong way, the sinful way, the way of death. Out of many choices of roads, only one is correct. Likewise, if the hands on a clock are not straight up, then it is any time but 12:00. The ONLY way to know the right way is to have the Spirit of God in us and for us to listen to Him and follow His leadership.

Our faith is built upon the fact that we believe that Jesus is who He said He is.

 “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” John 8:23

31 To [we who believe him], Jesus said, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

34 “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 

Positionally, once we trust Jesus for salvation, we can never be moved. We are His forever! Relationally, we must follow Him all the time. Because of sin, our “wheels” are out of alignment, which causes our lives to pull to the right or left rather than maintaining a straight course. We must constantly resist the pull of the wheels and course-correct continuously. Is it hard? You bet it is! Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY! I live to hear Him say, “You’re doing great; keep going.” “I love you and you can do this with My help.” “Just a little further and a little longer and you’ll be there!”

Just imagine what it will be like to have that constant resistance removed from us…that would be heaven–literally! That feeling is what we have waiting for us!!! In the meantime, we struggle to live according to His Spirit. Our life-verse (or one of them) must be Galatians 2:20,

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,who loved me and gave himself for me.

Let’s live life His way today. We will never be more content, more satisfied, and more righteous! He will set us FREE!

Abba, I know that when I get resistant and do what I want to do in spite of how You are leading me, I always regret it. Help me to quit giving in to sin and to go for what I TRULY want, which is You, Your company, Your blessings, and Your confidence. Lead me, O LORD, and I will follow. Closely. Amen.

 

Proverbs 19 9-19-19

Do your plans line up with God’s plans? Have you even considered it? He sees and knows SO MUCH MORE than us. Trust Him.

(21) Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

Yesterday, we looked at Noah and his covenant with God–or rather, God’s covenant with him and with us, too, if we carry it to its conclusion (we still see rainbows, don’t we?). Let’s look at God’s plan for Abraham.

God’s covenant with Abraham- I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” Genesis 17:7-8

God also made these promises to Abraham:

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:2-3

He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:5

This covenant is continuing to this day! God is still calling people to become His children, and thus to become children of the promise that He made to Abraham, “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Even non-Jews? Absolutely! Let’s look at what Paul told the Galatians:

3:7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.

3:14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

3:26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

4:6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

How long will this process continue? Jesus gave us that answer:

24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Luke 21:24

Paul expounds on that answer by explaining the strategy of the Gospel:

25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a partial hardening until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written:

“The deliverer will come from Zion;
    he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
27 And this is my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.”

28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Romans 11:29

God plans to turn His love and attention back to the Jews just as soon as the time of the Gentiles has been fulfilled. When is that? Possibly, the Rapture. In any case, God loves Israel! We should, too. King David tells us to:

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    “May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
    and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
    I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your prosperity. Psalm 122:6-9

Lest we become conceited and judge the current Israel, we must remember this fact, “You do not support the root, but the root supports you.” Romans 11:18

Abba, I pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May You show Yourself mighty in their defence and on their behalf. Save them, Abba. I know that the Spirit is moving in a great way among the Jews. May it continue until Your Return, O Lord. I hope that I get to see it from this side of heaven, but I will be more than happy to watch it from Your side! Amen.