Proverbs 20 11-20-22

Jesus gave His disciples a new command to “love one another.” What does that look like in our lives?

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

If you ever wonder if this command is important and if it was taken seriously by Jesus’ disciples, consider these verses:

Paul to the Romans- Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

Peter to his flock- 22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1:22

John to his flock- 11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 1 John 3:11
23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7
11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. 2 John 5

The answer? Yes, they took it very seriously. Notice how many times John uses the phrase in his letters. So, how do we love? We looked at “Love is patient, love is kind” yesterday. Let’s look at the next three:

Love is not envious- Envy begins with looking around us at where others are and what they have and wanting more. Where covetousness is wanting what someone has and them not having it, envy comes very close to it. It creates discontent with what we have or don’t have. Instead, we are to give glory to God for where we are and what we have or have not, trusting Him for what we need in order to bring Him glory. Note: See Season 3, Episode 2 of The Chosen for a great teaching on this subject.

Love does not boast, it is not proud- We will take both of these together. To hate someone, as in Matthew 5:43, means, “to detest, persecute, love (esteem) less.” We understand “detest” and “persecute,” but to “esteem less” doesn’t really compute to us in America. Let me explain: To “esteem less” is to hold someone in contempt, or to deem not worthy of our love and care, patience and kindness. Anytime we dismiss someone as undeserving or unworthy, we “esteem less.” Boasting requires us to “esteem less” in order to hold our position higher than someone else, and it takes pride to do it. If we truly want to be like Jesus and love like Him, we need to rid ourselves of boasting and pride. OUCH!

As we worship today in our respective churches, ask the Lord to reveal any areas of pride, envy, or “esteeming less.” Repent–turn around and think differently–and make amends even before you offer your gift of praise on the altar (Matthew 5:23-24). You’ll be glad you did.

Abba, may we all be aware of our pride and boasting. To think that I know more than my brother is a type of condescension, in which I hold them in contempt and “esteem them less.” May I be all about “the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” that Paul talks about in Ephesians 4:3. I want to worship You in Spirit and in truth today with clean hands and a pure heart. Amen.

Proverbs 20 10-20-22

The ironic thing about AGAPE love is that the more you love yourself, the greater your capacity to love others greatly.

12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 [known as the Golden Rule]

The culture of God is explained in 1 Corinthians 13, but not like we think. It is presented in how we love. Why? Because God is love (1 John 4:8). Let’s continue with verse 7-10,

It [AGAPE love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 

AGAPE love: Selfless, sacrificial, unearned, and gracious godly love.

  • Selfless love always protects. A person who protects, cares; likewise, a person who cares, protects. Placing the other person first is natural for a person who cares. It’s the God-thing to do.
  • Sacrificial love always trusts. We take people at their word and trust them to keep their word. In doing so, we encourage them to do the right thing. When they don’t, we may suffer, but we trust in the Lord to take care of us and to give them another chance.
  • Unearned love always hopes. As in trusting, we hope that others will heed the Spirit’s voice and obey His commands. We know that eventually, love wins (in our lives and hopefully in theirs), so we just keep loving. Our hope is in Him.
  • Gracious love always perseveres. We know people will fail because we are one of those people and we fail. So, we persevere when they do, pray for them, and help them to see the error of their ways. We point them to Christ; He takes it from there.
  • God’s love never fails. When we love His way, we never fail to be like Him; He never fails to reveal Himself through us; they never fail to see Him for who He is: Love.
  • Prophecies will ultimately be fulfilled. Tongues (languages) will ultimately disappear as we learn to hear with spiritual ears. (Partial) knowledge will ultimately disappear as we see Jesus face to face and know Him fully. We will be complete in Christ.

The culture of God is treating others as we ourselves want to be treated (Matthew 7:12), it means to “love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:39). Both verses end with them fulfilling the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 22:40 says, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commands” (the first one was to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength”). If we love as God loves, we would never–I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s tomorrow’s lesson.

Abba, help us to see with spiritual eyes and hear with spiritual ears. May we eat the bread of service and drink the wine of sacrifice. In doing so, we give up our lives to You in order to receive life from Your Son. Teach us to love as You do, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 20 9-20-22

Education isn’t everything–but, it’s a lot! The more we know of something, the better decisions we make.

15 Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 AMP

We continue in the Baptist Faith & Message with:

XII. Education

Christianity is the faith of enlightenment and intelligence. In Jesus Christ abide all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. All sound learning is, therefore, a part of our Christian heritage. The new birth opens all human faculties and creates a thirst for knowledge. Moreover, the cause of education in the Kingdom of Christ is co-ordinate with the causes of missions and general benevolence, and should receive along with these the liberal support of the churches. An adequate system of Christian education is necessary to a complete spiritual program for Christ’s people.

In Christian education there should be a proper balance between academic freedom and academic responsibility. Freedom in any orderly relationship of human life is always limited and never absolute. The freedom of a teacher in a Christian school, college, or seminary is limited by the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ, by the authoritative nature of the Scriptures, and by the distinct purpose for which the school exists.

Deuteronomy 4:1,5,9,146:1-1031:12-13Nehemiah 8:1-8Job 28:28Psalms 19:7ff.; 119:11Proverbs 3:13ff.; 4:1-108:1-7,1115:14Ecclesiastes 7:19Matthew 5:27:24ff.; 28:19-20Luke 2:401 Corinthians 1:18-31Ephesians 4:11-16Philippians 4:8Colossians 2:3,8-91 Timothy 1:3-72 Timothy 2:153:14-17Hebrews 5:12-6:3James 1:53:17.

Education is important, but it does not save. Here’s why:

  1. Salvation comes through a personal relationship with Jesus; He becomes Lord of our lives.
  2. His Spirit fills us and begins to transform us into the spiritual image of Christ.
  3. The first thing the Spirit does is to give us a hunger and thirst to know Christ. We want it any way we can get it, such as prayer, Bible study, conversations with older Followers, classes, sermons, and experience. Paul said that he wanted to know Christ more deeply and intimately through His resurrection, but also through fellowshipping with Him in His sufferings (Philippians 3:10).

Without the Spirit, we have neither the desire nor the power to comprehend God, His will, or His ways. It’s not a blind faith in that we just take someone’s word for the truth. We base everything upon the revealed Word of God, the Bible. His Word says that we can know Him and that He wants to walk with us and lead us to Himself.

And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:6-7

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 1 John 2:3

It is these commands that we read in His Word. Jesus has two basic commands,

Love God (Matthew 22:37)
Love your neighbor (Matthew 22:39
)

Since Jesus is God in the flesh, we do what Jesus says. His Spirit guides us and reveals truth to us as we go. Although our salvation is not based upon education, our lives as followers of Christ are one big educational process.

18 And we all, who with unveiled faces [we are turned toward Christ] contemplate the Lord’s glory [we are learning as we go], are being transformed into his image [we become more and more like Jesus] with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

There is SO MUCH to learn–WE have SO MUCH to learn!

Abba, please teach us. May we be open to Your teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training as You make us righteous in our thoughts and ways (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We are trusting You for the process of sanctification, and, eventually, glorification, when “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). Amen.

Proverbs 20 8-20-22

Why don’t animals need a barber? Because God designed them to shed in a specific manner.

7 The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.

From, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body,” page 69-70.

While many of us make periodic trips to the barber, most nonhuman mammals always appear in perfect trim without a barber. The reason for this is that hair grows in a cyclic manner. A relatively long period of growth (that varies with the type and location of the hair) is followed by a short period of rest after which the hair is released from the follicle, and a new growth cycle begins forming a new hair. Thus the length of the growth cycle determines the length of the hair.

If hair grew longer and longer without being released from the follicle, it would be disastrous for the mammals that don’t visit a barber. Can you imagine, for example, a squirrel dashing through the branches, dragging a couple feet of hair? [it would wind up like Absalom] The Lord thinks of everything!

Hair grows about .3mm per day (about three tenths the thickness of a dime). Within a year, our scalp and beard can produce nearly five inches. By comparison, the longest hairs on our arm have a growth cycle of less than two months. The growth cycle of scalp and beard hairs varies from individual to individual but can be several years. A Vietnamese man was reported to have the longest scalp hair, which measured over 20 ft. long. According to a BBC News report in June 2004, he claimed not to have cut his hair in more than 30 years.

The question is how the hair follicles know what the length of growth is for that part of the body. The answer is simple: God designed our DNA in such a manner that best suits each species. To say that God’s design is the work of evolution is to be ungrateful and unappreciative of His handiwork. Indeed, “We are God’s handiwork (His masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared [in our DNA] in advance for us to do” Ephesians 2:10.

Abba, You have designed us to praise You with our mouths, listen to You with our ears, and serve You with our hands. May we be diligent in fulfilling our life’s purpose. Amen.

PS. The first hair follicles begin to form by the third month in the womb. The follicles produce lanugo hair. These rather long, silky hairs are usually shed in the womb a few weeks prior to birth and are replaced with vellus hairs, which grow out of the same hair follicles. A premature baby may appear surprisingly hairy because of unshed lanugo hair.

Proverbs 20 7-20-22

Jesus came to reveal God to us. When we see Jesus, we see God. Where do we see Jesus? In the Gospels.

24 A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way? It’s a matter of choice. When we need to understand in order to make a choice, then we act on our own understanding, but when we trust the LORD and His wisdom, then we gain understanding as we go.

On the 18th, we finished up a study of Romans 12:9-21 in which we saw the heart of God displayed in practical form. We learned:

  • Our love must be sincere;
  • Hate evil and cling to what is good;
  • Love others above ourselves;
  • “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”;
  • Practice hospitality and share with our fellow brothers and sisters in need;
  • Bless those persecute us;
  • “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn”;
  • Live in harmony with others and associate with all positions;
  • Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but do what is right;
  • Do not take revenge–on the contrary, feed our enemy and give him drink;
  • “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Each of these commands indicates a loving God who is more concerned with saving lost and wayward children than with doling out punishment. In the NIV, verse 19 says, “leave room for God’s wrath.” I looked up the word, “wrath,” and it had this meaning: “‘orge’ – Indignation, a swelling of settled indignation, passionate feelings against something or someone.” After reviewing the heart of God, I believe that this “wrath” is against sin and against Satan. Jesus said,

31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:33-34m

Here is the REAL enemy to mankind: Sin and Satan. Jesus did, indeed, die for our sins in order to have us back. He did not treat us as our sins deserved, but gave us mercy, instead. Jesus forgave us!

If we want to know the heart of our good God, we will feed and give drink to whoever we consider to be our enemy. We will forget about fairness and justice, and leave them in God’s hands. When we do what He prompts us to do, we will overcome evil with good. He is all about restoration, both ours and the world’s.

Abba, thank You for restoring me to a place of sonship in Your family, along with all Your children. I know that You want everyone to receive Your gift of adoption; may we help people to realize such a great gift! Amen.

Proverbs 20 6-20-22

Jesus gave us one command. It is to be the guide to everything we say and do: Love one another as I have loved you.

3:3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
    bind them around your neck,
    write them on the tablet of your heart.

The night that Jesus initiated the New Covenant, He gave His disciples a new command,

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

The key to the verse is, “as I have loved you.” If WE get to choose how we love, then we can justify pretty much anything. But, if we truly love as Jesus loved, we will always do what is best according to His Spirit. We were talking in SS yesterday and the word, “repent,” came up. “Repent” means “to change the way you are thinking and go a different direction.” Jesus told us to repent in Matthew 4:17. Here, too, if we choose the direction we are to go, we will wind up lost again. Instead, we are to start thinking as Jesus thinks, which requires Him in our heads. Enter the Holy Spirit. Back to John,

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

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. John 15:26

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

Jesus basically retired the Old Covenant and replaced it with a New Covenant, one of love. From then on, we go to Jesus for instructions on how to deal with people in His love–no matter the topic. Do we excuse sin? No, but Jesus redefined our response to sin. From then on, we are to respond as He did:

  • without condemnation;
  • with compassion;
  • in mercy;
  • showing grace;
  • with much forgiveness–70×7 daily! (another way of saying, “every time”)

He doesn’t need us to be His police and especially the Holy Spirit. We are simply to be His ambassadors of His love. Easy to say, hard to do. Still, it’s imperative to the success of the Gospel that we do.

Abba, If I truly want to be just like You, I need to be just like Jesus who is “the exact representation of Your being” (Hebrews 1:3). To be like Jesus, I must do as He has commanded me, which is to love as He loved. In order to do that, I need Your help! You say that You have given me the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16); please help me to access it. Amen.

Proverbs 20 5-20-22

The opposite of forgiveness is unforgiveness, which is like Kryptonite to Superman. We must release it before it harms us.

4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

The word, “forgive,” has taken on a meaning for which it was never intended. Most of us think of forgiveness as something we bestow upon someone or withhold from someone. Peter approached Jesus about forgiveness:

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Matthew 18:21-22

Peter wasn’t thinking about whether or not to bestow forgiveness upon his brothers and sisters. When he asked about forgiving, here is what he had in mind:

aphiémi: to send away, leave alone, permit
Original Word: ἀφίημι
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: aphiémi
Phonetic Spelling: (af-ee’-ay-mee)
Definition: to send away, leave alone, permit
Usage: (a) I send away, (b) I let go, release, permit to depart, (c) I remit, forgive, (d) I permit, suffer.

The definition is “to send away.” Send what away? The first question we must ask is, “Is it the person or the sin (offense, done wrong) that is sent away?” Since the passage is about restoration, peace and harmony among the family, we must assume that it is the offense that is sent away. How does one “send away” an offense? Let’s look at (b) in the usages.

(b) “I let go, release, permit to depart”– Here is where unforgiveness is like Kryptonite to Superman: The offense is a piece of Kryptonite that a person shoves into Superman’s hands. Superman now has a choice to dropkick it into space (like the football) or to clench it tightly to his chest. One rids the world of that piece of Kryptonite altogether; the other one makes Superman weak and sick.

It is the same for us. When we release a wrong, we save ourselves from becoming weak and sick. It is why Jesus said, “seventy-seven times (some interpretations read, “seventy-times-seven”). We must do it every time for our own sakes. It’s not so much about the other person as it is about our own mental and spiritual health. We will suffer each time we think of it unless we release it.

To whom do we release it? For this answer, let’s turn to Jesus:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

This passage includes the offenses that we carry. We are burdened, and weary from carrying them. Jesus wants us to release anything and everything that is weighing us down and making us sick, which includes unforgiveness. The weight of our burdens is transferred through His yoke onto Jesus’ shoulders (a double yoke). He carries our burden for us and has, indeed, already taken them to the grave!

So, for today, let’s try an experiment. When the word, “forgive,” pops into your head, replace it with “release,” and see how it makes you feel. I have a sneaking suspicion that we will feel our burdens lift right off our shoulders and onto His.

Abba, thank You for such provision! Knowing that You want all my burdens so that my yoke is easy and light, thanks to You, makes me want to follow You all the more. Such happy news! You are wonderful! Amen.

Proverbs 20 4-20-22

Inheriting God’s kingdom…what does that mean? Let’s walk it through.

21 An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end.

This verse is true for Adam and Eve. They doubted God and His love for them, and took matters into their own hands. Alas, just like Adam and Eve, we get in a hurry and doubt God’s love, His concern for us, and His plan, and take matters into our own hands.

Nevertheless, Christ offers us God’s kingdom! Our sin debt has been canceled and we are invited to join Christ in the development of His kingdom. We are ambassadors to the world inviting all people to join us in this kingdom. What are the prerequisites? Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11,

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Why will wrongdoers not inherit the kingdom of God? Because they have made the same mistake as Adam and Eve, which was to not trust God, His love and His plan. Out of this mistrust come all the actions mentioned in the passage. I also believe that Paul was just being nice when he said, “And that is what some of you were.” It’s actually all of us who fall into one or more of the categories that Paul mentions. The deception is strong–but the presence and message of Christ are stronger!

Verse 11 is where we live. We were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have His Spirit in our lives connecting us to God the Father. We are one with the Trinity! If we keep the message of this verse ever-before us, we will inherit all of the Spirit’s traits, we will grow in righteousness and godliness, and we will lead a procession into the kingdom of God. Why? Because our lives will be so attractive to people that they will want to join us!

Abba, thank You for such a great salvation and for restoring us to the place of sonship (see Luke 15:22-24). May we grow in You as we seek to become just like You. May others see the joy and peace in our lives and join us in our march to Zion. Amen.

Proverbs 20 3-20-22

I Met Messiah is a part of One For Israel Ministries. Talk about exciting testimonies! Click it and see…

7 The righteous man [Jesus] leads a blameless life; blessed are his children [His kids] after him.

I am a firm believer in the redemption of Israel. I believe that they will soon come to acknowledge Jesus Christ, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, as Messiah. One For Israel (oneforisrael.org) is a Messianic organization dedicated to pointing fellow Israelis and Arabs to Jesus through videos, meeting needs, and through making materials available.

Did you know?
From 2013 to 2021, One For Israel’s evangelistic videos in Hebrew were watched over 40 million times in Israel alone! In a country of just under seven million Jews, that’s five views per person. God is stirring up spiritual hunger in Israel in our day!

Their online outreach has 500,000 views per month on average in Israel alone!

To give a perspective on the growth of Christianity (belief in Jesus as Messiah), here is a neat statistic:

There were less than 30 Messianic Jewish believers when Israel was declared a state in 1948,
but the number of believers has roughly tripled each decade since then.
There are 30,000+ known Messianic believers in Israel as of 2021!

The Lord doesn’t have to come back to reach Israel. He’s doing it TODAY!!! Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and Israel as the Prince of Peace makes Himself known to them–and to the Arabs who live in that country!

Abba, I believe You have big plans in store for Israel concerning the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to their neighbors. I’m looking forward to a Great Awakening even as we have seen in America, England, Scotland and Ireland at the turn of the 1800th century–even bigger! I know You work without violating the will of anyone, but I also know You orchestrate circumstances, natural events, the moving of nations, and the hearts of people. May Israel come to know You as Messiah, and may they become great evangelists for You even as they were in the first, second and third centuries. Amen.

Proverbs 20 2-20-22

The Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, Three-In-One) is basic and central to our faith.

17 Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.

Bad theology has been around a long time. Besides the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6 and 15) in the first century, there was Arianism in the fourth century (and probably earlier). Arianism denied the Trinity and considered Jesus Christ a created being,

Arianism is often considered to be a form of Unitarian theology in that it stresses God’s unity at the expense of the notion of the Trinity, the doctrine that three distinct persons are united in one Godhead. Arius’s basic premise was the uniqueness of God, who is alone self-existent (not dependent for its existence on anything else) and immutable; the Son, who is not self-existent, cannot therefore be the self-existent and immutable God. Because the Godhead is unique, it cannot be shared or communicated. Because the Godhead is immutable, the Son, who is mutable, must, therefore, be deemed a creature who has been called into existence out of nothing and has had a beginning. Moreover, the Son can have no direct knowledge of the Father, since the Son is finite and of a different order of existence.
According to its opponents, especially the bishop St. Athanasius, Arius’s teaching reduced the Son to a demigod, reintroduced polytheism (since worship of the Son was not abandoned), and undermined the Christian concept of redemption, since only he who was truly God could be deemed to have reconciled humanity to the Godhead.

There are a few verses to consider as we look at the unity of the Trinity:

First is Genesis 1:1-3 (read the footnote 1b) where God the Father orchestrates the Creation, the Spirit being the Agent of preparation, and the Son being the creating Agent with His spoken Word.

Second is 2 Corinthians 13:14, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Third is Colossians 1:15-16 wherein Jesus is named as the Creator of everything, so He must have been there in Genesis 1:1-3.

Fourth is Revelation 22:13 where Jesus proclaims Himself as the Beginning and the End of everything.

The Trinity is essential to God’s overarching plan of creation and redemption of mankind. John writes,

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3

I think of it like this: In Old Testament times, the Spirit came upon people in a limited capacity. Jesus’ coming and sacrifice paved the way for the Spirit to permanently and completely inhabit us, thus transforming us on a continuous basis. The result is our invitation, acceptance and integration into the Fellowship of the Trinity as the Bride of Christ. It has always been the goal of the Father/Son/Spirit.

The Fellowship of the Trinity
The Father – The Plan
The Son – The Way
The Spirit- The Result
Mankind – The Bride

We reject any form of Arianism, ancient or modern, and completely entrust ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of heaven and earth, Defeater of death and Holder of the keys to Hades, and King of the Universe. He is our Savior and our God, being one with the Father and the Spirit.

Abba, I praise You for inviting us to be part of the Fellowship of the Trinity. The card table with the four chairs around it this morning was a beautiful picture of the Trinity with the fourth chair reserved for the Bride of Christ, Your Church–us! May we celebrate You and our future: Complete and perfect in Your kingdom at Your side, Jesus. WOW! Holy Spirit, thank You for Your connection. May we take full advantage today in worship. Amen.

Proverbs 20 1-20-22

John the Baptizer (Baptist) was the “one who came before.” Before whom? Before Christ! Let’s look at his credentials.

1 Wine is an intemperate thing, and strong drink is full of violence; and all who commingle with it will not be wise. LXX Version

Of all the things John the Baptizer that gave him the most credibility, it was him being in the right place at the right time in history. In other words, timing is his best credential. His ministry began just a few months before Jesus came to be baptized. It was enough time for John to establish his ministry so that when he identified Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” people would take him (and Jesus) seriously. The interesting thing is that his ministry only lasted a few months after Jesus began his own ministry. We are looking at probably less than a year of John the Baptizer being on the scene. Yet, Jesus called him the greatest of all who were born of women (Matthew 11:11).

You might be wondering why I chose that verse of today’s Proverbs chapter. It’s because John the Baptizer was a Nazarite (see Numbers 6:1-5). Nazarites didn’t touch anything that comes from the grapevine, nor did they put a razor to their heads. Samson was a Nazarite from birth, as well. Include his long hair and bushy beard with his prophet’s outfit of camel hair and leather belt (see 2 Kings 1:8 concerning Elijah) and his diet of locusts and wild honey and you have a very compelling figure!

John baptized in a communal mikveh (a ritual bath that was built into the bank of the Jordan River, east of Jerusalem, near Jericho). It was one of many that people used to make themselves ritually pure. There have been as many as 70 mikvehs identified around the temple area alone and more than 700 in all of Israel–so far! Baptizing was not a new thing; being baptized for repentance of sins was definitely new. People were supposed to go to the temple and offer sacrifices for their sins, not be baptized in the muddy Jordan River. What were people thinking?! No wonder the religious leaders came out to see what was going on.

They asked John the Baptizer if he was one of three people:

  1. The Christ (Anointed One, Messiah);
  2. Elijah (back from wherever it was that he went on the chariot of fire);
  3. The Prophet (spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15-19).

He was none of the above. Jesus, on the other hand, said that if people were willing to see with spiritual eyes, that John was, indeed, Elijah (in spirit; see Matthew 11:14 who fulfilled Malachi 4:5-6). He fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3-5, which said,

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain [for the coming of the King];
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Tomorrow, we will look at John’s message, and the message Jesus sent back to him for comfort.

Abba, John the Baptizer’s life and ministry were not long, but, oh, how important they were! Thank You for such a sign as the “One who Came Before.” I look forward to meeting him. Amen.

Proverbs 20 12-20-21

To fear or not to fear: That is the question. When it comes to fearing God, what kind of fear is it?

2 The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion; whoever provokes him to anger forfeits his life.

That’s a pretty dark verse, right? Yet, it was sage advice coming from King Solomon. But, in God’s case, He is all-patience (1 Cor. 13:4) and all-love (1 John 4:8). So, how are we to view God? I was reading in Matthew 10 about when Jesus sent out the 12 disciples ahead of Him to prepare the towns for His coming through. He instructed them in this way:

28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

In this passage, we have what looks like God as the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell, yet is not to be feared. What gives? It seems we have three choices for who the “one” is.

  1. Is it God the Father? I have always thought so–until I read verse 31, which tells us to not fear Him.
  2. Is it Satan? Possibly, but he does not have the power to destroy our soul. So, no.
  3. Is it ourselves? Definitely a possibility because of James 1:14-15, which says that we are our own worst enemy.

I looked up “fear” in the Strong’s Concordance, and it said, “to frighten, to be alarmed; by analogy to be in awe of, that is, revere.” “Reverence.” Taking this context into consideration, it looks like Jesus is telling them to awe and respect God as their God and King, but trust Him as their Heavenly Father. In order to win that trust, He stepped out of heaven and moved into the world as Jesus. We can trust our Heavenly Father even while having a reverential fear of Him. More on this tomorrow.

Abba, thank You for loving us. It’s apparent in how You allow us to choose to love You everyday. You trust us; may we learn to trust You more and more each day. Your perfect love drives out our fear of You, of death, and even of failing You in some way. Please continue to carry on to completion the process of making us just like Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 20 11-20-21

Three-in-one is a difficult concept, especially when talking about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

27 The spirit of mankind is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts [the Lord is familiar with every part of us–why wouldn’t He be? He created us!].

I learned the first five verses of the Gospel of John by listening to “Celebrate Life.” My church youth choir in Athens, Georgia, went to Daytona Beach, Florida, to join other youth choirs for a debut of the musical in an amphitheater in 1972 (I was 13). My mom and dad bought the double-LP album set, and I would set up our Panasonic quadraphonic speaker system around me on the floor and listen to the whole thing (I really don’t recall how many times I did it, but I can still sing most of the songs word-for-word, parts and all!). Here’s what the first five verses say,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

I learned recently that a literal reading of the first verse is, “From the beginning (implying before) was the Word [Logos, indicating the heart and expression of God], and the Word was face-to-face with God, and the Word was God Himself.” When reading Proverbs 8:23-31, I print here for your reading pleasure the footnotes in my Bible:

8:23 The Lord is the Father, and created in this statement means the Father established Wisdom over His works; for the Father made all things through Wisdom (AthanG). “Created” as used here does not mean the Father made Wisdom Himself, for the next clause shows the Father established Wisdom over His works in the beginning before time. Therefore, “created” is used in this verse as a synonym of established, for Wisdom, who is the Word and Son of the Father, is not a creature. He is “begotten from the Father before all time” (Creed; see also v. 25).

The beginning of His ways means two things. It means the Father made all things through Wisdom, and it also refers to the Incarnation, when the Wisdom and Word of the Father became flesh (see also John 1:14). The phrase for His works refers both to the works of creation and to those accomplished by Christ for our salvation, which are outlined in the Creed. “In the beginning before time” is the same as “In the beginning was the Word” in John 1:1. For the Father “established” Wisdom “before time.” Therefore Christ, the Wisdom and Power of God, is not a creature (1 Corinthians 1:24).

There’s more, but it pretty much states that Jesus is with God the Father at the time of creation and is the Agent of creation. We know this to be true because of Paul’s testimony in Colossians 1:16 and the testimony of the writer of Hebrews in 1:2. Hebrews 1:3 says that “He is the radiance of the glory of God [the exact representation],” and “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).

There’s more, but we will have to wait until tomorrow to cover those verses. Suffice it to say that when we talk to one, we are talking to the others.

Abba, as we engage You in conversation, I thank You that You want to have conversation with me! I know that You are not hungry for fellowship because You have perfect fellowship within the Trinity, but You invite me in to Your inner fellowship. May I never take the Holy Trinity for granted. Amen.

Proverbs 20 10-20-21

What is the Lord’s Modus Operandi? It’s not difficult; He tells us plainly. Keep reading…

22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you.

Did you know that Paul quoted this very verse in Romans 12:19? Yet, he then turns around and has us do the very thing that Jesus said to do in His Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:44-45. Here are the two passages :

19 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

44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:44-45

What was Paul doing? He was invoking the Lord’s M.O., His “modus operandi,” which is His mode of operation. He quotes the Lord, who gave it to him in 2 Corinthians 12:9, but here’s the surrounding passage:

…because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Let’s unpack these verses.

  1. Paul walked with Jesus in heaven (the third heaven, where Jesus lives; the first heaven is the sky and the second heaven is space).
  2. To keep him humble, the Lord did not remove a problem Paul was having. What that problem was, no one knows.
  3. Jesus gave us His M.O. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
    1. The Lord’s grace is whatever Paul needed at any given time: strength, courage, patience, endurance, and most of all, compassion.
    2. Christ’s power was and is designed to save His lost children, and power is made perfect (mature, whole, complete) in Paul’s weakness.
    3. Paul’s weakness was his inability to control his surroundings. By trusting Christ in all circumstances and just doing what He felt led to do by the Holy Spirit, Paul was given His grace and power. In those two things, Christ accomplished much for the kingdom of God through Paul.
    4. Paul goes on to say that he would gladly be weak so that Christ would be strong in and through him.
    5. It’s a ratio thing: the weaker he was, the stronger Christ was in him.

Jesus’ M.O. is the same for us today. We must learn to trust Him in all circumstances to give us wisdom and discernment, because most times, things are not what they seem. They are usually much more complicated than they look on the surface. By realizing and admitting our inability to know the whole truth, we look to Christ for wisdom, guidance, and whatever else is needed for that circumstance.

Returning to Romans 12:19, Paul goes on to say,

20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals [of conviction] on his head.”
(Proverbs 25:21-22)

And the clincher:

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Living for Jesus is certainly not easy; aren’t you glad we don’t have to do it without Him? He is with us all the way.

Abba, I don’t need to know Paul’s “thorn in his flesh” to be able to identify with him in this matter. May I learn to trust you faster and more completely as time–and opportunity–goes by. We are most like Jesus when we love; may LOVE be our theme each day. Thank You for loving me! Amen.

Proverbs 20 9-20-21

A daily advantage of being a Christian is the hope we have in Jesus.

27 The lamp of the LORD searches the Spirit of a person; it searches out his inmost being [He knows what we need and amply supplies it].

Our hope is what we have been promised that we have yet to receive. We KNOW we will have it; it’s either not time or it is not available yet. We are all in a process of transformation. Let the process continue at His rate.

A good example of hope is when the tire store called me and told me that my car was ready. Robin took me down there to get it in the hope that it truly was. Indeed, it was! How did I know? Because they called and told me it was ready. During my trip to the store, I was living in the hope that it was ready. My hope was fulfilled when I got there and my car was ready.

The same goes for us. We are promised eternal life with God. We have hope that it will be so. God even gave us a guarantee, which is the Spirit of God, as proof and assurance that it is so [Romans 5:5, Titus 3:5-6]. In fact, because we have the Spirit, we have already begun our eternity with God!

As we go through this day, I pray this for you:

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

What is so special about this prayer? Let’s look at it:

  1. We are overflowing with hope for the future. See Proverbs 4:18.
  2. That hope fills us with joy as we look forward to being in the kingdom of heaven!
  3. That hope also gives us peace as we wait for our Savior to either take us or come and get us. See John 14:3 and Philippians 3:20-21.
  4. The power of the Holy Spirit is what drives us.

Let’s plug into His power and be about the Father’s business as we “await a Savior from there!”

Abba, I pray for my readers today that they would know the hope they have in You, that You will fill them with joy and peace as they trust in You, and that they will follow the leading of Your Spirit as they overflow onto the people around them. May our lights shine ever brighter as we move toward You and our heavenly home. Amen.

Proverbs 20 8-20-21

Rather than base what we do on how we feel, let’s base how we feel on what we know: We Are REDEEMED!

8 When a king [God] sits on His throne to judge, He winnows out all evil with His eyes.
9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?

Jesus did more than just pay the price we owed because of our sin; He bought us back! We have been redeemed.

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. Titus 2:14

There’s a new song out whose lyrics I love. It’s called, “Redeemed By the Blood of the Lamb.”

I went down to the crimson river
Left my burdens on the shore
I went down a sinner, came up a saint
Died with Christ, now I’m reborn

Yes, He washed me in His mercy
And He cleansed me with His blood
Now I stand complete, I have been set free
I found life there in the flood

Not the same, I am saved
I’m His child, forever, I am
Hallelujah! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb

Now I have the living water
From the well that won’t run dry
All the pangs of life have been satisfied
By the precious blood of Christ

When it’s time to cross that river
I will shine in glorious light
When He calls me home, I’ll fall at His throne
and forever worship Christ

But, it’s more than that. We have so much more!

  • We have a new citizenship in heaven (Philippians 3:20-21)
  • We have an inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8)
  • We can approach His throne–Him–for mercy and grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16)
  • We are completely and lavishly loved as His dear children (1 John 3:1)

The old hymn, Redeemed By the Blood of the Lamb, has great lyrics, too:

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed through His infinite mercy
His child, and forever, I am

Redeemed, redeemed
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed, redeemed
His child, and forever, I am

Redeemed and so happy in Jesus
No language my rapture can tell
I know that the light of His presence
with me doth continually dwell

I think of my blessed Redeemer
I think of Him all the day long
I sing, for I cannot be silent
His love is the theme of my song

I know I shall see in His beauty
The King in whose law I delight
Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps
and giveth me songs in the night

The one thing we can count on is that Jesus will work in us what is pleasing to Him (Hebrews 13:20-21) and bring it to completion in our lives (Philippians 1:6). That’s worth singing about!

Abba, thank You for the song in my heart about Your redemption. Thank You that younger generations are writing new songs about it. Thank You for teaching me a new song! Keep it up, Lord; I have lots more to learn. Amen.

Proverbs 20 7-20-21

Judging another of the Master’s servants will get us in trouble. We are all individually responsible to our Master, the Lord Jesus.

6 Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find [who doesn’t criticize his fellow servant]?

We all have our own opinion, and according to our temperaments, we:

  1. Expect others to share our own (Red/Choleric),
  2. We want to share our opinion with everyone (Yellow/Sanguine),
  3. We keep our opinion to ourselves and tell no one (Green/Phlegmatic),
  4. or we try to persuade others to see things our way (Blue/Melancholy).

What we need is to be White/Godly, which is all the colors, but above any particular color. We can only be White by the assistance and partnership of the Holy Spirit.

I have been studying Romans, and lately chapter 14. I invite you to join me. It would be good for you read through Romans and then come back to 14 with me, but it’s not necessary.

I believe that this chapter can be applied to the COVID shot and masks.

We begin with verse 1.

14 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.

Weak faith refers to those whose concept of service has to do with keeping the law (doing stuff to be pleasing to God). What is pleasing to God becomes a point of contention. These “disputable matters” are anything that is not specifically spelled out by the Lord. Most of them are according to where a person is in his walk with Christ. Our past experiences also play a part.

For instance, I know a person who pays his bills manually every month because he got himself into debt with credit cards, and by paying them manually, he holds himself accountable. I, on the other hand, have no problem with credit card debt and have everything either on credit card or drafted. My problem was debit cards and ATM’s! When they first came out,* I thought, “Wow! Free Money!” It took about three months to cure me (thanks, Robin). Most people have a debit card; we don’t.

Where are we weak in the faith? We should help each other rather than judge each other. Jesus put it like this,

7 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Matthew 7:1-5

Concerning the law, we are to help people shift their thinking from pleasing God to being pleasing to God (we already are). Doing so requires encouragement, not criticism. May we be encouraging to everyone around us today.

Abba, as we study Your Word in depth, I first thank You for giving the apostle Paul such great insight. I also thank You for having it written down, preserved, and translated for us so that we can study it today. May we never take it for granted. Open our minds and hearts to Your Mind and Heart. Use Your scalpel on us today (Hebrews 4:12). Amen.

*The year was 1984, and Robin and I were fresh out of college.

Proverbs 20 6-20-21

Today is worship day. We worship every day, but my church sets aside Sunday to get together as a family to worship the Lord.

4 Sluggards do not plow in season [there’s a right time for everything]; so at harvest time they look but find nothing [if they’re not connected to the Father beforehand, there’s no connection when it’s needed].

One of the things that I have enjoyed doing lately in our services is making a call to worship. Sometimes, it’s a song; sometimes, it’s a corporate reading of a Scripture; sometimes, it’s my reading of a passage that calls the people to focus on the Lord. Here is one that I will be using in the near future:

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 16:5-6

  1. God gives us endurance for everything that is going on in our lives when we trust Him to lead us.
  2. God gives us encouragement through His Spirit, His Word, and His people.
  3. God gives us the same attitude of mind of Jesus concerning each other. What was that attitude? “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” John 13:35.
  4. God gives us one mind in that we are focused on Him and Him alone.
  5. God gives us one voice as we lift up praises to our heavenly Father.
  6. God receives glory from our praises, our unity, and our love for one another.
  7. Jesus is lifted up.

There is one more verse in today’s Proverbs that I want us to consider:

6 Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?

Let’s be that faithful person today. Let’s meet with our brothers and sisters in Christ and praise our Father in heaven together. It will be fun; it will be worth it!

Abba, Happy Father’s Day. You are the perfect Father. Thank You for adopting me back into Your family. Thank You for all the brothers and sisters I have who are adopted, as well. May we praise Your name and lift up Jesus today. It’s a family thing, the family of God. Amen.

Proverbs 20 5-20-21

Worship is intentional. We need to be intentional about how and when we come together as the body of Christ.

18 Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance. If we want to experience the Lord on an ever-higher level, we seek advice. When we come to worship, we “wage war” on our flesh and the spirits of this world; we need guidance from the Holy Spirit and from our leaders.

Yesterday, we talked about God calling us together as His Body, the Church, and about why we need each other. Today, we are going to talk about our personal and corporate responsibility.

26 …Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 1 Corinthians 14:26b
33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

A worship service is designed for just that: Worship. It’s the time when the body of Christ comes together to exalt the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to edify each other through psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, through prayer, through the reading of the Scriptures, and through exhortation; we examine ourselves even as we agree upon all that the Lord has done and has promised us in His Word; we minister to each other as the Lord ministers to us; we minister to Him as He binds our hearts together in unity. It’s reciprocal.

We have for so long had the mistaken idea that the music is the worship part of a service. WRONG. Worship begins when God beckons us to come and we come. So, as soon as we make the decision to attend church that morning, afternoon, or evening, we begin to worship Him through obedience and dedication. We continue that worship as we travel to the place of worship; we worship as we go in and greet people and get ready for the service to begin. Our worship continues throughout the entire service. When we leave, we should be able to affirmatively answer this question:

Was God exalted in my life and by my efforts today?

There is one more thing. In high school band, we had a rule that if a person was on time, then he was late. The same should go for worship services. As a worship leader, I need you there a few minutes early to greet the people around you and to mentally prepare for the service. I need you there early in order for you to be available for any last-minute needs that arise. I need you there early to pray for me, for my pastor, for the service, for those around you, and for those who will be attending who don’t know Jesus. I will be asking the Holy Spirit to “inspire” you to be early from now on.

Let’s be intentional about our worship of our Creator, Redeemer, Lord and King. “Blessed are You, El Shaddai, King of the Universe; You bless us with the opportunity to meet together as Your family.”

Abba, I thank You for the distinct honor and privilege it is to lead in worship and praise each week. May You expand our minds as You expand our definition of worship. May we learn new ways to honor You, to exalt You, to lift You up, and to make Your name great. We love You; may we worship You in Spirit and in truth, Your truth. Amen.

Proverbs 20 4-20-21

Discipleship is a tricky thing. In order to lead someone else, we must first be led. Jesus calls us to follow Him. Are you ready?

24 A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?

Understanding comes through trust; trust comes by faith; faith comes from believing Jesus. If we truly believe what Jesus says, then we will have faith in Him, which enables us to trust Him, which then leads to understanding. Much of our understanding can be learned through His Word, but what we read must be explained by His Spirit, and many times, we simply don’t have enough parts to make sense of what we know.

For instance, a windshield is made up of a multitude of cut glass three-dimensional orthotopes, also called right rectangular prisms. Even though we might be able to locate all the individual pieces (knowledge) and even glue them back together, we still need a way to bind the pieces together in order to have a clear screen. In our case, even though we might appropriate all the individual pieces to a problem or subject, we still need a Binder in order to understand what we have. We need the Holy Spirit.

12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 1Corinthians 2:12-13

The question is, are we willing to be taught by the Spirit of God? Are we placing ourselves in a position to learn? Do we read His Word? Do we consult with other Christians, ones who are more mature and wiser than ourselves? Do we listen to sermons and teachings about the Word of God? Do we search the Scriptures for truth? The Berean Jews did. Look:

10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. Acts 17:10-12

Lest we think that Luke was maligning the character of the Jews of Thessalonica, read the next verse:

13 But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 

Folks, it’s important for us to search the Scriptures every day to see what God wants to teach us. What we learn may not be needed today, but I promise you that it will be soon. There are many things we need to learn and know first so that when specific circumstances arise, we can interpret them according to what we have learned and know. THEN we understand!

So, what kinds of things do we need to know? That’s what I invite you to learn. At Brookwood, we will be beginning a study called, “Real-Life Discipleship Training Manual” by Putman, Willis, Guindon and Krouse, from Navpress. Order a book and join us in person or online each Sunday evening at 5:00. This Sunday, we will be praying for our first week, which we begin on Monday, the 26th. Plenty of time to order a book. If you’re in the area, come by the office and pick one up for $10. I will be available to answer questions, discuss topics, and ask questions of you; just email or text me and/or we’ll set up a time to get together. My email is revkellyanderson@yahoo.com.

Abba, I pray that You will call all my readers to join us in this venture to learn and grow in You. May You call us, urge us, and motivate us to grab a book and learn from each other and from You. Lord Jesus, You are worth following, so I want to know all there is to know about follow-ship. Teach me so that I can teach others. Amen.

Proverbs 20 3-20-21

Caesarea Philippi was considered the birthplace of the world and the entrance to hell. Jesus took His disciples there!

12 Ears that hear and eyes that see–the LORD has made them both.

For Jesus to go to Caesarea Philippi was no big deal because He is Creator of everything (Hebrews 1:2). He knew the legends and He knew the Truth. He wanted to make a point to His disciples: By taking them there, He was saying that He was beginning something new.

So far, Jesus had only eluded to being the Messiah. Today, we read His declaration.

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will [already] be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will [already] be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. Mathew 16:13-20

There are several things to point out about this passage.

  1. In Mark 8:27 and Luke 9:18, Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do people say I am?” Matthew used the term, “Son of Man.” Why? Because of his Jewish audience. They would have immediately picked up on the Daniel 7:13-14 Messianic reference.
  2. Jesus makes a declaration that Simon is a “rock” and on that rock He will build His church, against which the gates of Hell cannot overcome it.
    1. Simon Peter was to be the lead Apostle once Jesus left. It was a passing of the baton, the mantle.
    2. The “rock” was the confession of Peter, not Peter himself. The confession was that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Jesus Himself is that Rock. He was in Exodus 17:1-7 and Numbers 20:1-13, and He is today.
    3. The word for “church” is “ekklesia,” which means “gathering” or “assembly.” This word is used for the sons of Jacob in Genesis 49:2, for the leaders of Israel in Exodus 3:16, and for the congregation of Israel in Numbers 8:9, 10:3, Deuteronomy 4:10, 31:12, and other places. The day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit entered the disciples and 3000 people got saved is what we call the birth of the church when in reality it is the expansion of the church. Those 3000 people were Jewish–100% of them! Not all Jews in the Old Testament times were true Jews in that they kept the Law with all their hearts, souls, minds and with all their strength, and neither are all Jews since Christ true Jews in that they believe that Jesus is the Messiah and have been circumcised of heart. In fact, in both groups, true Jews are the exception and not the rule. The apostle Paul states in Romans 2:29 that “a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.”

Jesus was making it very clear that the Old Covenant Law was done and that He was establishing a New Covenant. Later on, He based His New Covenant on love, His love for us and our love for each other, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” John 13:34-35.

Let’s ask Christ to teach us to love one another so that this world can see Jesus in us. They need hope; they need peace; they need His love reaching out through us. We can “loose” the kingdom of heaven on those around us if we learn it well enough on the inside to show it on the outside. It’s already been loosed in heaven, so what are we waiting for?!

Abba, may You teach us Your love so that we can love those around us. Help us to realize that those who don’t know You–and don’t know you very well–are going to think differently than us. They are controlled by fear and worldly desires. But, when we are obedient and show Your love to them, Your Holy Spirit convicts them and gloriously saves those who will come to You in repentance and obedience, pledging their heart and life to You, dear Jesus, just as we did. We look for those to whom You are speaking and working in their lives. Help us to see with Your eyes, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 20 2-20-21

Is being a Christian all about the rules to you? If so, then you have missed the whole point of Jesus’ sacrifice.

7 The [already] righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.

Behavioral Christianity is not true Christianity. True Christianity begins and continues with a relationship with Jesus Christ. Take, for instance, these “myths:”

  • Running in church dishonors God because it’s God’s house.
  • Wearing a cap or hat in church is disrespectful to God.
  • We are to wear our “Sunday best” to church on Sundays because it honors God.
  • The church is “God’s house.”
  • Eating or drinking in the auditorium dishonors God.

These myths are based upon an Old Testament mindset in which God did actually inhabit the temple. Since Jesus split the veil and sent the Holy Spirit in tongues of fire at Pentecost, we are all now mobile thrones; therefore, wherever we meet is the house of God. Brick and mortar don’t matter anymore.

The same can be said for people. It used to be that a godly person was one who acted godly by following the Jewish law. Since Jesus came, the emphasis changed from outward behavior to inward relationship. Of course, a relationship with Jesus will show up in a person’s actions, but instead of making him a Christian, it proves that he really is one. Why? Because our behavior is due to obedience to the Person of the Holy Spirit who lives in us rather than to an outward person, set of beliefs, customs, or expectations.

As an argument, people have used Matthew 7:21 as proof that works matter concerning our salvation:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven [works].”

What we have to know is what God’s will is, and it is found in John 6:29, “Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent [relationship].” Now, look at Matthew 7:22-23:

“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles [works]?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you [relationship]. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Jesus Himself made it all about the relationship, “I never knew you.” What an indictment! They knew the rules, but never met the Savior, much less walked with Him in fellowship and communion. Yet, that’s what He calls for us to do, and that’s what we get to do every day–if we choose to take Him up on His offer of friendship and Lordship. He really knows the best way to live to avoid the traps of the devil and to live in glorious victory, enjoying His love, joy, peace, hope and grace on a daily basis.

Let’s finish the discourse:

“Therefore everyone who hears [reads] these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Let’s be wise.

Abba, thank You that You have opened my eyes to Your Word and what it means in my life. When I read, I hear Your voice, sense Your peace, and comprehend on some level of spiritual truth. I ask that I would keep going “higher up and further in” concerning Your truth, wisdom, discernment, prudence, knowledge, insight and understanding. Lead on, O King eternal. Amen.

Proverbs 20 1-20-21

Walking in fellowship with the Lord is at the heart of Christianity. If we are anything, we are a people of prayer.

12 Ears that hear and eyes that see–the LORD has made them both [to connect with us].

We are designed for fellowship with God. Sin has marred that connection, but the blood of Christ has repaired that connection and has gone way beyond what it once was. The God of the universe lives in us! That connection is constant and continuous now. We should never consider ourselves “not praying.” The Lord is a part of every conversation and even every thought–whether we recognize/acknowledge Him or not.

Those who don’t know Christ are at a distinct disadvantage. There is no connection, therefore, when they pray, their prayers go unanswered. I see two reasons:

  1. Even at their most compassionate and sincere, their prayers are still self-centered.
  2. God is waiting for that special prayer when they ask Him to be the Lord of their life. It’s not that He doesn’t hear their other prayers, it’s just that they are not Spirit-prompted and, therefore, ungodly (see #1).

Here’s what I mean.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:10-11

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26

It takes the mind of God to know what to pray. We must be able to hear the Holy Spirit and receive His instruction to even know HOW to pray. Keep reading.

13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit

What it boils down to is that we need to be taught how to pray, and that job belongs to the the Holy Spirit. He teaches us how to pray, and then prays for us even while we make our infantile attempts. We need not worry. God loves us as His dear children.

There is one more difference between the prayers of the saints and the prayers of sinners, and that is found in the last verse of 1 Corinthians 2.

16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Having the mind of Christ changes the way we consider sin. From the moment we received Christ, He has been with us through every temptation, both the failures and the victories. In order to sin, we must literally turn away from Him. If we would keep in mind that He doesn’t ever leave us and that our sin must be accomplished with Him right there with us–even in us–it would change our sin habits; they would go away! Now we know how to become godly: Discern and acknowledge Him with us all the time. Enjoy His presence and participation. Engage His power according to His will for our lives. Enlighten ourselves with the words that the Spirit speaks to us.

We are Christians:
We live daily according to God’s Word,
Christ’s direction, and the Spirit’s power.

Abba, You are my all in all. Because I recognize that I am nothing without You, I can let go of embarrassment, ego, and posturing. I can turn to You in the midst of bad thoughts, angry feelings, when I’m being tempted, and even after I’ve given in and sinned. You have promised to never leave me or forsake me; more than that, You pour out Your love and grace on me when I am at my worst because that’s when I need it the most! You are such a GOOD GOD. Thank You for saving me and coming to live in me. Let’s finish this race together. Amen.

NOTE: Be sure to pray for our leaders today as well as the people protecting them.

Proverbs 20 12-20-20

“Peace on earth” is part of Christmas. The peace Jesus brought was peace that is found in Him and in His family, the church. It’s an individual peace.

24 A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way [understand why God leads us as He does]?

Faith is believing enough in what God said to act on it. We don’t consider an alternate route or plan; we trust the LORD to be right and to be working His plan. It’s not blind faith, either. Blind faith is believing something just because we want it to be true even if the evidence points another direction (ex. evolution-Irreducible Complexity). Our faith is based upon the Word of God. We trusted it for salvation–why don’t we trust it for daily living? Paul taught us how in Colossians 3. We pick up at verse 15.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. 

Trusting in Christ is where we get our peace. Is He King of kings and Lord of lords? Is He King of the universe? Does He have our best interest at heart? Yes! He is both great and good. He gives us His peace (John 14:27). It’s a peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7). We are called to peace WITH HIM. We are members of His very own body (Ephesians 2:21)! We CAN experience His peace whenever we turn to Him.

And be thankful. 

Grateful should be the mantra of every Christian. Paul states why earlier in His letter to the Colossians, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (1:13-14). And, he’ll tell us in our next verse to sing with gratitude in our hearts.

16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit [spiritual songs], singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 

What we must remember is that the Scriptures were public. They were read publicly because there weren’t enough copies for everyone. In fact, no one had a complete set of books until at least 350 AD. Consequently, in order for the people of Colossae to “let the message of Christ dwell among them richly,” they had to meet together and read whatever portion of the Old Testament they had publicly. This letter was designed to be read publicly to the church body; it was probably intended to be passed along to another church, just like the letter to the Ephesians. They would memorize portions of it and teach each other as well as correct each other. The key is “with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,” which I take to mean that they put portions of Scripture to music and made creeds of Jesus’ teachings and events (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-8) in order to memorize truth. We do the same thing. And how are we to sing to God? With gratitude in our hearts. Now, THAT’S WORSHIP!

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

This verse gives us the attitude by which we live our daily lives:

  1. Whatever we do- Everything we do is important. There is nothing too small or too insignificant to fall under the radar of our Lord.
  2. Whether in word or deed- What we say and what we do, it’s all important to the Lord Jesus. He wants us to represent Him ALL the time.
  3. Do it in the name of the Lord Jesus- We are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). We could spend a lot of time talking about what it means, “in Jesus’ name.” Suffice it to say that it is in His name that we are protected from the evil one (see John 17:11 and 15) and spread the fragrance of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). We live and breathe and have our being in the power of His name.
  4. Giving thanks to God the Father through Him- Here we are back to gratitude. We owe Him SO MUCH! We bless the Father through the Son by way of the Spirit (Romans 8:26).

If we could read chapter 3 of Colossians every day and apply it to our lives, we would:

  • Set our hearts on things above,
  • Put to death our earthly nature,
  • Rid ourselves of sinful thoughts and speech,
  • Take off our old self with its practices,
  • Put on the new self, which is being renewed (renovated) in the continual knowledge of Him,
  • Understand that all of Christ’s children are equal in Him,
  • Clothe ourselves with the fruit of the Spirit,
  • Bear with each other and forgive each other,
  • Put on love as our overall virtue,
  • Let Christ’s peace rule in our hearts,
  • Be thankful and grateful,
  • Let the word of Christ dwell in us richly,
  • Teach and admonish each other in His Wisdom,
  • Sing the Scriptures together as we memorize passages and truths, with gratitude in our hearts,
  • And do everything, whether in word or deed, in the powerful name of the Lord Jesus,
  • All the while giving thanks to God through Jesus.

I think we’re gonna need a little help here. Holy Spirit, HELP! Thank God, He gives it!

Summary: We can do all things through Christ who gives us both the desire and the power to do His will through His Spirit within us. It’s a daily thing.

Let’s end with this benediction:

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58.

Abba, I grow weary sometimes, but I realize that it’s my flesh talking. Of course I grow weary! I live in an old-covenant body that is destined to die. Thank You that You renew me on the inside daily, even constantly. I want to be transformed by the renewing of my mind and attitude. I realize that the best way to do this is to pray and then read Your Word. You speak to my heart even as I read! Thank You for the way You open up our minds as we read and meditate on what You considered so important to write down and preserve for us. May we never take Your Scriptures for granted. We worship You today in Spirit and in Your truth. Amen.

Proverbs 20 11-20-20

Crucified with Christ…crucified with Christ…crucified with Christ…have it memorized, yet? It’s how we are to live.

Many claim to have unfailing love,
    but a faithful person who can find?

Once we put our faith and trust completely in Christ for salvation, we might think that we would trust Him for everything. Actually, we spend the rest of our lives unlearning what we’ve learned in this world and learning how to depend upon Him. Here are three examples of people who wanted to follow Christ, but had a hard time launching (Luke 9:57-62):

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Matthew 8:19 reveals that this person was a teacher of the law. Jesus, knowing His heart, saw straight through to his greatest concern, which was his trappings. He either drew security from his home, his family, his goods, and his position, or he liked his creature comforts. Jesus was letting him know that if he followed Him, he would have to give up all of those things.

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Lest we think that Jesus was being insensitive, we must understand the phrase, “bury my father.” The man was saying that he wanted to stay with his father until he died. In other words, he would follow Jesus once he had gotten married, raised a family, and taken care of his parents until they died and he received his inheritance. Jesus was saying to come NOW and follow Him.

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Evidently, there was some insecurity in this person. It seems that Jesus knew that if he went back to say goodbye to his family that he would be dissuaded in following Jesus. Family’s like that. They act out of feelings and, usually, what’s best for them. They may have had very good reasons for him not to follow Jesus–it doesn’t matter. If we trust Jesus with our lives, then we can trust Him to take care of whatever we leave.

“Crucified with Christ” is my mantra. It is part of Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live. This life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave Himself for me.” If He loves me enough to give Himself for me, then I gladly die to myself and live for Him. Him living through me is that for which I live! What sweet fellowship with Him! Eternity has truly begun for those who discover this truth.

This morning, read these passages in your own physical Bible (you’re more apt to remember them) and then give yourself to Him. Commit your life to Him for today and then allow Him to guide your every thought and action. Then, do it again tomorrow. Be His disciple!

Abba, I crucify myself; I take up my cross and follow You today (Luke 9:23). I deny what I want and what I think and commit to follow Your lead on everything. Make me sensitive to Your Spirit’s leading. May Your hand be upon mine in everything that I do; may You guard and guide every word that comes from my mouth–harness my thoughts! Being with You is what it’s all about. Amen.

Proverbs 20 10-20-20

Nobody likes to be disciplined. It chafes our self-image. But, if we want to be like Christ, get ready for it!

30 Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.

Most of us tend to have a double standard when it comes to how we judge other people and then ourselves (we’re a lot easier on ourselves!). The problem is that God knows our hearts! There are ELEVEN different references in this single chapter concerning God knowing our intentions and disciplining us. They are:

A king’s [our King’s] wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion;
    those who anger him forfeit their lives [God takes over our lives].

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters [it’s complicated], but one who has insight [God] draws them out [helps us to sort out our feelings].

When a king [our King] sits on his throne to judge,
    he winnows out all evil with his eyes [helps us to discern].

10 Differing weights and differing measures [our double standards]—
    the Lord detests them both.

12 Ears that hear and eyes that see [how we interpret what we hear and see]—the Lord has made them both [and knows what we hear and see].

22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!”
    Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you [leave the disciplining to God].

23 The Lord detests differing weights [again, our double standards],
    and dishonest scales do not please him.

24 A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way [God knows the intent of our hearts]?

26 A wise king [our King] winnows out the wicked; he drives the threshing wheel over them [separating the bad from the good in our lives–painfully!].

27 The human spirit is [scrutinized by] the lamp of the Lord
    that sheds light on one’s inmost being.

30 Blows and wounds scrub away evil [from our souls], and beatings purge the inmost being [discipline hurts; we can be slow learners].
“Strike me; it is a kindness…” Psalm 141:5

If you’re like me, you probably read over these pretty quickly. I hope you noticed the notes in brackets. They help us place the verses in context to our lives today. There is one more verse that I want us to read today:

11 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

  1. Discipline/painful- it’s never pleasant, so if you are not enjoying where God has you right now, just know that you are in the right place–as long as we work to learn the lesson in the discipline. Otherwise, we are bound to repeat it, but with higher stakes and greater consequences!
  2. Later on…- In this phrase lies our hope. We can trust our LORD to bring about His righteousness in us. He wants us to be holy. Like Him. In fact, He is making us to be holy, just like Him! (See the Song of Zechariah)
  3. Produces- This word indicates that there is a product that the LORD wants to see as a result of our discipline. What is that product?
  4. A harvest- Jesus refers to a harvest in the Sower and the Soils (Mark 4:3-8). He is letting us know that it’s not a 1:1 ratio, but a 1:30, 1:60, 1:100 ratio! This is GOOD news. We will bear much fruit.
  5. Righteousness and peace- These are the harvest that Jesus wants to produce in our lives. He gives us righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) and peace (John 14:27)!
  6. Trained by it- “it” being discipline.

What ARE some of the disciplines of the LORD? We will deal with THAT question tomorrow!

Abba, I pray for my readers that today they will perceive and understand that whatever discipline You are using in their lives is for their good and Your glory. As we become more like Jesus, we bring You glory! I love the verse 2 Corinthians 3:18, which says, “And we…are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory [for You], which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” It’s all for You, heavenly Father. YOU are the One we praise. Amen.

Proverbs 20 9-20-20

We choose to believe or not believe God based not on facts, but on what we want to happen. *

27 The Lord’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.

Yesterday, we looked at the Pharisees and their deliberate choice to not believe in Jesus. He gave them plenty of direct evidence. Today, we look at their attempt to discredit Him, which backfires on them pretty badly.

In Matthew 12:22-36, Jesus heals a demon-possessed man. People are asking the question, “Could this be the Son of David [i.e. Messiah]?” The Pharisees popped off, “It is only by Beelzebul [Satan], the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” Rather than blast them, Jesus answers them very patiently. Let’s read it:

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul [to use their term], by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.” 

Pretty good logic, right? But then, Jesus throws the knock-out punch:

28 “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

WOW! Jesus just performed a miracle by the Spirit of God. According to Jesus, the kingdom of God had come upon them!

We know that most of them did not believe. Why? Because they didn’t want to. They had too much to lose: reputation, lucrative income, accolades, followers, power, and their own beliefs. If they acceded to Jesus, then they must admit that their way of doing things was–if not downright wrong, then fulfilled, complete, and done. They couldn’t afford to give up all of their “fulfillments” in order to be fulfilled in Christ.

How about us? Are there things in our lives that He’s asking us to give up so that He can fill us with Himself? Maybe it’s time to take inventory of our lives and ask Him. If we are not willing to ask Him, then I’ll bet it’s something you are afraid to give up. Just be aware that runners in a race who hold onto things do not run very well. Instead, runners “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” They “run with perseverance the race marked out for them, fixing their eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Let’s finish the race well. There is a crown of righteousness waiting for us…

Abba, may we lay all on the altar so that You can have first place in our lives. We are all in, LORD. Amen.

*Andy Stanley, “Who Needs God,” Part 6, “I Do.”

Proverbs 20 8-20-20

Why do we do the things we do? We need to look inside ourselves using the lens of Scripture and the Spirit.

5 The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.

A few days ago, I wrote out what I call a Rite of Passage for myself. Because of my role as husband, father, and minister, I tailored it for leadership, but it can easily be tweaked for whatever role in which a person finds himself/herself. Alright, guys, here goes:

Rite of Passage For All Men
Who Follow Jesus

  1. I must recognize and acknowledge that I am not the center of the universe. God is. In fact, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. This life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loves me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
  2. I have responsibilities beyond myself. Everything I do affects someone, therefore I have a responsibility to lead. “Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” Proverbs 10:17
  3. Putting my faith in Jesus Christ and walking with Him daily enhances my ability to lead in the best way. In walking with Christ I become more like Him, which makes me godly, which in turn makes me a better leader. “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, equip you with everything good for [leading and] doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
  4. In order to follow Christ, I must always be in control of my mind and body. I must always have my mind sharp and my body conditioned so that I am ready and able to serve in any capacity I am asked. “Don’t be drunk with wine, which leads to [an ungodly life and destruction]. Instead, be [continuously] filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18
  5. Building others up in love is essential, so I will choose only kind words and phrases that build security and confidence in them. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29, 32
  6. I choose to see even my adversaries as potential brothers and sisters in Christ and will do whatever it takes (as led by the Spirit) to win them to Christ. “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 5:43-45a
  7. I take my relationship with Jesus as seriously as He does with me. I will do whatever it takes to have a personal time with the LORD everyday. I will read His Word, Talk to Him, listen to Him, and then obey Him. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”Mark 1:35              Jesus’ Prayer Life
  8. I will treat every woman as I would my sister in Christ with respect for her body, her mind, and her soul. “Likewise, husbands [men], live with your wives [all women] in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel [like fine china or a delicate instrument that is finely tuned], since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7
  9. I will treat older men (10+ years) with respect and deferment, younger men (10+ years) as sons in Christ, and my friends as those for which I would die. “Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.” “Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.” “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned,” Titus 2:2, 6-8
  10. I must forgive even as Christ has forgiven me: My father or mother, my sister or brother, a relative, a former boss or partner, classmate, teammate, anyone who has hurt me or betrayed me, I will forgive and bless—daily, if need be—until I mean it! Then, and only then, will I have victory over the hurt, and I will experience God’s love and peace and favor. I will also be a lot like Jesus! Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

This covenant I have made for myself is one that I intend to live out everyday. I pray that you will adopt it (or one like it) and strive to live it out everyday in your life.

Abba, I pray for my readers that You will instill in them the desire and determination to live righteously according to Your Spirit within them. May they prosper even as their souls prosper; may their health be according to Your will for their lives–use even bad health to place them in situations to further the Gospel! LORD, we place ourselves in Your capable hands. Use us as You will. Amen.

Proverbs 20 7-20-20

Hate is at the core of our human nature and is the basis for how we treat people–and God! We need the Spirit!!!

9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin?”
8 When a king [the LORD] sits on his throne to judge, he winnows out all evil with his eyes. [Proverbs 15:11]

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, and Fear, to name a few. So far, we looked at Anger, Spite, and Rage. Today we cover Hate.

Hate- Hate (hatred) is a strong emotion. It is the expression of what is at the core of our hearts. People think that the opposite of hate is love when in actuality apathy is. Hate and love are really very close together on the emotional scale. They both are expressions of passion, which is what we feel the most strongly. Love turns to hate when a person is wronged; hate turns to love when a person is loved. One we feel strongly for; the other we feel strongly against.

Jesus changed the Pharisees’ editorial of the Law in His Sermon On the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Here’s what He said,

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect [mature, whole, complete, adult], therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect [just like God].

What can we glean from Jesus’ command to love?

  1. To love is a decision of the will. Hate is our beginning emotion. We hate because someone hurt us, because they are different, because we didn’t get our way or someone is keeping us from getting our way. We need to learn to hate hate!
  2. Actions not only speak louder than words, they have the power to change our minds. God asks us to act out of His character rather than our own. He gives us both the desire and the power to do it [Philippians 2:13]. If we can change the way we act, it will change the way we think, which will change the way we feel. Here’s the promise, “Don’t copy [actions] 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 [feelings] and perfect.
  3. We become like God, who always acts out of His wholeness and goodness. We become mature, complete, whole, and adult when we act on God’s command to love. We are most pleasing to the Father when we love.

Did you know that hating can actually be a good thing? “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26. In our relationship with Jesus, everything else, everyONE else must take not only a backseat to Him in our lives, but we must die to them. We must love Jesus SO MUCH that how we feel about anything and anyone else seems like hate. Can we do this? Not without MAJOR HELP! The Holy Spirit of God is the Answer to our dilemma. Here’s what it looks like to have to choose between our friends and God, “Jesus turned to Peter and said, ‘Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.’” Matthew 16:23. We must ask for this same passion to do God’s will in our lives.

There’s one more thing about hate that we should know: Hate leads to malice, which leads to bitterness, which leads to death–of a relationship and of our health. Sin destroys us. Give it up. Let it go. Throw it down. As I said before, we must learn to hate hate. Turn to Jesus and ask for His love and compassion to flow through you. Die to self and how you feel [Galatians 2:20]; dead men don’t have feelings. Instead, seek first His kingdom [Matthew 6:33] and love will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together and running over [Luke 6:38–a great verse!].

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will learn to recognize hate in their hearts and use it as a catapult to take them straight to Your throne. May they give it to You as quickly as they can, and may You replace their hate with compassion. May they act out of love for the person they are feeling so strongly against and may You turn their hate into love for that person. LOVE THROUGH THEM, JESUS! In this way, the world will know that we are Your disciples, as You told us in John 13:35. Love through us today, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 20 6-20-20

What pleases the LORD? How can we please Him? Do we even want to? It’s our higher calling if we are His. There are three verses in today’s chapter that lend themselves to this truth.

Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest.

What is our motivation? If we have Christ in our hearts, HE is our motivation. His Spirit lives in us, works in us, and calls us to move. Titus 2:14 bears out this point:

14 who [He] 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.

No Spirit? No motivation. Know the Spirit? Know His motivation.

5 The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.

What is our INTENTION? Our sin nature is more than just skin deep. We call it, “the flesh,” but it is a core problem. As long as we are in these physical bodies, we will fight it. That’s why Jesus’ finished work on the cross was so important. We only have victory through death–the death of these bodies. We–our hearts, minds, souls, and spirits–have already been made righteous in God’s eyes. We are ALREADY BLAMELESS through Jesus! Knowing this, we acknowledge our fight, we move through our temptations and get on with what Christ is encouraging us and calling us to do. We FOLLOW THROUGH.

Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?

We are called to be faithful. He gives us both the desire and the power to do His will (Phil. 2:13). We must give Him complete control, especially if we are in a bad place. Jesus can and will help us to get back to the “path of life” where He is and He wants us.

Here is how:

For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. 10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10

To find out what pleases the Lord, we must ask each time we make a decision, “Is it good, right and true?”

  1. Is it good? For this, we need the Word of God. It defines what God considers good and bad for us. It is our standard for living.
  2. Is it right? “Many things are beneficial, but not all things are profitable” 1 Corinthians 6:12. It may be good, but it’s not right for us. Only the Spirit can lead us in this decision.
  3. Is it true? Does it fit the general direction we and God are going? With this question, there may not be a logical answer. It comes from our walk with Him and the calling He has given us.

If we ask ourselves these three questions each time we make a decision, we will have a GReaT life in Him and for Him (Good, Right, True). Start TODAY!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will set aside their own personal wants and perceived needs and turn to You for strength and direction. May they die to themselves and allow You to live through them. Make them “tough for Jesus,” LORD. Help us to “set our face like flint” toward righteousness and to reject all ungodliness. Make us shine like stars in Your universe, O God! Amen.

Proverbs 20 5-20-20

Sin seems like a pretty good option–until we have a better one: Jesus Christ! He is our BETTER OPTION.

9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?

The problem with sin is that it is spiritually discerned. We must have the Holy Spirit informing us of what is sin. Without the Spirit, anything and any way can look good. Proverbs 16:25 says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”  Actually there are many ways that appear to be right, but there is only one right one, and it is spiritually discerned.

Spiritual discernment means that we set aside all we know, all we feel, and how things look, and go with what the Spirit is telling us.

Right and wrong are revealed to us by the Spirit, and He uses His revealed Word to do it. It doesn’t matter what we might hear or perceive; if it doesn’t match up with what God has already revealed to us in His Word, then we are not to believe it.

The Word trumps intellect, feeling, and experience.

The reason the Word of God is so important is that we need something tangible on which to base our knowledge and to interpret our experiences. We need an anchor for our feelings. Consider this verse:

For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

Being grounded in the Bible makes us grounded in our faith. Why?

  1. God talks to us through the Scriptures.
  2. The Spirit confirms in our hearts the message of love we find in it.
  3. We need concrete evidence of what truth is.
  4. It is our vital connection to Him; it is instant access, our sweet fellowship with the Spirit as He opens our minds to His Words and reminds us of everything Christ has said.

From my journal:

Abba, if I don’t have You as my better option, then sin seems like a pretty good choice. If we could view sin from an analytical view, we would probably do a whole lot better in our choices. If sin was exactly that, a wrong choice, then we might choose right over wrong.

But, sin is much more than a wrong choice–it’s a trap! And we cannot view sin analytically because our heart takes our feelings, our desires, and amplifies them to the point where we can think of nothing else. Then, once we have sinned, we realize that we are now enslaved to that sin. WE NEED A SAVIOR!

Our better option for any temptation is Jesus. He’s our 12 o’clock. He’s our Savior. If we run to Him, He gives us the oil of gladness and a garment of praise; He will crown us with beauty. We will be set free and our broken hearts will be mended (all from Isaiah 61:1-3).

With His presence, His favor, and His  companionship as my better option, sin does not hold the lustre it used to. I find that I can resist the overwhelming feelings and they ebb much more quickly. I feel His pleasure at my victory and it is worth much more than anything sin offers!

He Is My Better Option.

YOU Are My Great Option, Jesus!

Our weapons are praise and thanksgiving, remembrance and the Word of God (His promises)

If we are willing to put in the time and effort, He is willing to pour into us all the richness of His grace. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9a. “And my God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory.” Philippians 4:19

Abba, I pray that we all would make You and Your Word top priority in our lives. Make it so in mine, O Lord. I want to know as much as I can about You even as I get to know You personally. One of these days, I’ll stand before You in person. I want to hear the words, “Well done, My good and faithful servant. You have done well. Enter now into My rest.” Until then, I am humbly Yours. Amen.