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]

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.

Proverbs 20 4-20-20

We found out with COVID 19 that “forewarned is forearmed.” How much more so in our Christian walk!

4 Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.

Waiting until your house is on fire is NOT the best time to decide what you’ll grab on your way out the door–or window. Those decisions need to be made beforehand and with thoughtful planning.

  • Is your phone handy? Computer?
  • Do you have clothes and shoes readily available?
  • Important papers need to be in a firebox that is easily accessible.
  • Picture albums (or the negatives) need to be in a place where they can be quickly grabbed.
  • Does everyone have a quick way out of their bedrooms?
  • Is there a designated place for all to meet once outside?

A few precautions go a long way in an emergency. COVID 19 had the reverse affect on us! Instead of getting out of the house, we were forced to stay in our houses, which needed an entirely different set of necessities.

  • TP! (top of the list, evidently)
  • Food (although grocery stores were open, not all items were available)
  • Medications!
  • Cleaning/disinfecting supplies (difficult to find)
  • Internet!!!
  • Ability to work from home
  • Ability to have school
  • Phone service
  • TV, games, books, puzzles, etc.

Our walk with God works the same way. He prepares us for what is coming by teaching us what we need to know and exercising the “muscles” we will need. The problem with most of us is that without either the tyranny of the urgent or an emergency, we slide… We cease being diligent about the basics.

What ARE the BASICS of Christianity?

  1. First is having Jesus in our hearts. It’s not enough to have an intellectual knowledge of His Lordship. We need Him in us! If we intellectually acknowledge Him as King of the Universe, then it should be a short step–but necessary step–to invite Him to come into our lives and be our Lord and Savior.
  2. Once we have Him in our hearts, we are to be baptized. Why? Because He said so! It’s how we announce to the world that we are now followers of Christ. If we are unwilling to be obedient in this first command, we need to check to make sure that we gave Him our whole hearts when we asked Him in. He WON’T come in until we are willing to give Him “the deed to our house” and “the Master key to every lock.” Obedience is assumed.
  3. Daily Bible study is next. Reading the Bible is conversing with God. It’s His primary way of communicating with us. When we read His words, His Spirit actually speaks them into our hearts and minds. We respond to Him in prayer. THAT’S CONVERSATION. It’s our classroom work.
  4. Application is how we live our lives. We live and breathe our prayers as we go through our day sensing His nudges and warnings. We practice our Christian walk in everything we think, say and do. Doing big things for God is up to Him, not us. It will usually just “happen” according to His leading. I doubt if Stephen knew that he was about to give his life for the Lord and wind up in the pages of Scripture the day he was confronted by the leaders of the law. Acts 6:8-7

Let’s not be sluggish in our walk with Christ. No one likes to drag or cajole someone into obedience. Let’s be followers that are a delight to our Lord. Imagine all the neat things that He has to show us if we follow Him closely and with happy hearts.

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. Proverbs 12:22

We said we would follow Him and obey Him, so let’s be about the Father’s business. In doing so, we will be a delight to Him.

Abba, I want to be a delight to You. I perceive that You take a personal interest in those who take a personal interest in You. Reveal to me all that my little mind can hold and understand, O Lord. Hone me into the most useful tool for You that I can be. Beat on me like metal on an anvil; chisel me like granite before the artist. Shape me into the image of Christ, Father! To me, Your altar becomes Your worktable, Your canvas, Your workstation where You mold me like clay. Have Your will and way in my life today, my Lord and my God. Amen.

Proverbs 20 3-20-20

We all follow someone. Who are you following? Don’t know? Then you’d better find out! It makes a difference in where you end up…

The 23rd Psalm begins, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.” What can we learn from this verse?

  1. The LORD is a shepherd. Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd in John 10:11 and 14. The writer of Hebrews called Jesus, “that Great Shepherd of the sheep,” in 13:20.
  2. The LORD is MY shepherd. We must acknowledge Him as our Shepherd, which requires commitment, dependence, and a forsaking of all other “shepherds.”
  3. We will not want. This phrase carries two meanings:
    1. Our needs will be met.
    2. We will be satisfied with what we have.

If we were real sheep, we would do well to keep the Good Shepherd in sight. Sheep have a tendency to wander off: this bunch of grass looks good; that branch of berries is tasty; that brook looks satisfying, etc. We must learn to keep Jesus “in sight” at all times.

Since we are not real sheep, we cannot literally see Jesus and where He is going, so we must rely on the Spirit within to guide us. “And you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21. Here is a verse from today’s chapter that tells us of what will hinder our ability to hear, perceive, and obey His voice:

1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

Did you notice the phrase “whoever is led astray”? Here again, who is your shepherd? What is enticing you to wander off? Better yet, WHO is enticing you? We know that our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. His roaring is designed to make us run away from where the Shepherd is, thus making ourselves vulnerable to his fellow hunters’ attack. This technique is used by lions to scare prey into the jaws of the female lions who creep around to the other side of the herd and wait for them to run away from the males’ roars. Peter says in verse 9, “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

There is another benefit in staying close to the Shepherd, obeying His commands, following His leadership, and enjoying His presence. We are considered BLAMELESS. Jesus’ brother, Jude, said this :

24 Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]—AMP

I LOVE this version! The reason we are blameless is because we are under the umbrella of our Shepherd’s protection and authority. He takes full responsibility for our actions. If someone were to accuse us (like the accuser, Satan), then Jesus would take responsibility for us so that we cannot be blamed for anything. This reason alone is worth following Him!

Here is one more reason from today’s chapter to follow the Good Shepherd:

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

We bless others when we are righteous and blameless. Want to be a blessing to your family? to those around you? Then be a faithful follower of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

NOTE: How did I find all of these verses I used today? I remembered them, but I didn’t know the exact location, so I used GOOGLE. Bible Gateway is another good website. But, how did I remember them?

  1. First of all, I read them in the Bible! READ, READ, READ, people!
  2. The Holy Spirit reminded me of them. Jesus said He would (John 14:26).
  3. I took the time to look them up.
  4. The more I use them (in quotes, in speech, in memorization) the better I remember them. I urge you to do the same.

Abba, I pray for all who read my blog today. May they decide today to follow You, listen to Your voice, and be obedient to Your commands. Me, too! You are my Good Shepherd and I am Your sheep. In You, I am righteous, blameless, and holy. Thank You! May I enjoy Your presence today as I keep my eyes on You. Amen.

Proverbs 20 2-20-20

“Helping God out” is usually not a good idea. Let’s wait for Him to tell us what, how, and when. Timing is everything.

3 It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Quarrel- “an angry dispute or altercation; a disagreement marked by a temporary or permanent break in friendly relations; a cause of dispute, complaint, or hostile feeling.”

The difference between bickering and quarrelling, to me, is in the break in relations.  We can bicker and still come to an agreement. Not so with quarreling. The hostile feelings don’t go away so fast. In fact, one party must repent and apologize before reconciliation can be made. We, as little Christs, must listen to the Spirit and be willing to BE THAT PERSON who repents and apologizes. The fact that there was a quarrel means that both parties said things in a way that shouldn’t have been said. Let’s look at some guidelines:

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you [from all kinds of pitfalls, temptations, hidden snares and heartaches.]. James 1:19-21

Vanity and arrogance charge the battery of quarreling, and we know that arrogance leads to rebellion (ignoring the Spirit), then to sin, and then to destruction, in this case, of a relationship. It can also be the catalyst for losing privileges and even placement in whatever we are in, such as a job, a position at church, a place on a team, etc. So, how should we view our circumstances and behave?

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God [be holy and pleasing]—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

If you have not committed these verses to memory yet, do it today. We live and die (or is it die and live?) according to these two verses.

Later on in the passage, Paul tells us how to relate to each other in a godly fashion:

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

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone [pertaining to God’s Word] . 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:9-18

What it boils down to is this: We are to recognize our place in the body of Christ. We are responsible for ourselves and the ones over which God has put us in charge.  Period. Let’s not be taking more responsibility than God has allotted us. We are to make sure that we are doing the best we can and being the best we can be at what God has given us. The Shepherd will take care of the rest of the sheep.

I have been stung many times by offering help where help was not wanted. Would what I offered have helped? Absolutely, but since I wasn’t in charge, I could not force the issue. In fact, I am to have no feelings at all about it (dead people don’t have feelings; we must remember that we are living sacrifices that have been crucified with Christ and we no longer live, but Christ lives through us). I just focused on my part and made sure that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing to the best of my ability.

Today, let’s take the lower seat at the banquet table (Luke 14:8-11). Let’s wait to be asked for our assistance or opinion. Let’s let whoever is in charge be in charge. Tough? Absolutely for certain kinds of temperaments! But, it is the godly way of doing things.

Abba, as I go to play percussion for the Singing Churchwomen East, may I remember what I preached today and allow Randy Lind and others be in charge. I will make my services available to them for whatever they need and then step back and do what I am supposed to be doing to the best of my ability. If they ask me to do something, then grant me the wisdom and right heart attitude to jump up and do it immediately and fully THEIR WAY. May I be a humble and willing SERVANT for You today, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 21 1-21-20

The kingdom of God is all around us! We just can’t see it–but we can know it. His Spirit reveals it to us.

21 Whoever pursues righteousness and love find life, prosperity and honor.

Jesus told us, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand…is near you…is in your midst” (Matthew 3:2, Luke 9:10, Luke 17:21). There is an entire “world” happening around us all the time! Paul talks about it in Ephesians 6:

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

When God created the heavens, He established them in the form that we know them. The first heaven is the sky, the second heaven is outer space, and the third heaven is where He lives. It was on Day 2 that He separated the waters and the sky (Gen. 1:6-8), and it was on Day 4 that He separated outer space from the third heaven (Gen. 1:14-19). Heaven really is just a breath away. We don’t have to “go” anywhere! Upon death, our eyes are opened to a whole other realm, the realm of the spiritual. We are able to interact there just as we did on earth. It’s just a real as this earth and will one day be reconnected with this earth (2 Peter 3:13, Rev. 22:1).

So, our perspective is this: Because we have such a great place awaiting us, we need not fear death. In fact, we wait patiently for it BECAUSE we know what is in store for us. I don’t know exactly how, but our righteousness, our godly thoughts and actions, motives and intentions, are formed into a crown (1 Cor. 3:12-15, 2 Timothy 4:8) which we will gladly and voluntarily cast down in worship and gratitude at the feet of Jesus (Rev. 4:10 implied). Death is merely the passageway to heaven for Christians. For unbelievers, it’s quite something else. They step into Hades, the waiting place for all who are destined for hell.

Let us not be afraid of dying, nor of letting go of those who go before us. Instead, let us allow it to motivate us to keep our eyes on the prize, which is to be JUST LIKE JESUS. We know that we will be completed in Him when we get there (1 John 3:2). May we spur each other on to good works (Hebrews 10:24) so that our offering to the LORD, our crown, will be a sweet sacrifice to our KING.

Abba, I look forward to the day when the veil between heaven and earth comes down. I can hardly wait to step over into Your side of things–even though I know You are with me and all around me right now. I want to worship You and experience You face to face! In the meantime, I will continue to work on hearing Your voice as You walk with me in this world. Tune me spiritually to be cognizant of You and where You are working, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 20 1-20-20

The Spirit’s interaction with people is much greater than we might think. The secret is to join Him where He is working!

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

There is SO MUCH about life that seems random–but is not! God is working His-Story by guiding circumstances and prompting people in certain directions. All the while, He is giving them chance after chance to choose Him–but most don’t. Even Christians have a hard time doing what is obviously right. Most Christians don’t read their Bibles daily, pray continuously (conversational prayer), meet regularly for focused prayer, worship and haverim (the interaction of the Spirit during discussion); we don’t regularly eat right, sleep right, work right (tyranny of the urgent) or play right. Why? Because we live in a world that is overrun by sin: Up is down and in is out; black is white and light is dark.

Jesus told us plainly that without His Spirit, we cannot comprehend the ways of God without His Spirit. For instance,

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit [He moves within us].”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 

12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?”

Proverbs 20:27 tells us that “the human spirit [which is His Spirit] is the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being.” The sooner we recognize this truth, the sooner we will acknowledge His presence and participation in our lives. We MUST start trying to see through His eyes, but before that happens, we MUST be willing to change whatever we see that does not align with Him and His will, whether in our lives or in the world. Even as we see it, we must ask the Spirit when and how to change things. Let’s not wait for Him to use physical consequences of our own actions to motivate us to change. Let’s not let this verse be our motto:

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

Let’s be about the Father’s business today. Let’s communicate with Him on as many levels as we can so that we miss as little as possible that He is wanting to show us.

Abba, I pray for all who read my blog today that they will take to heart the seriousness of this message. I am trying, too. You have given me an urgency about these times to get the message out as quickly as possible. “Godly lives attract godless people to God.” With godliness comes the moral authority to share with them the Way. May we all make godliness our goal even as we make You our focus. Amen.

Proverbs 20 12-20-19

It all comes down to the walk: Are we walking with Jesus? Is He guiding us and teaching us every step of the way?

24a A person’s steps are directed by the LORD;

9a Who can say, ” I have kept my [own] heart pure?”

7a The righteous lead blameless lives;

27a The human spirit is where the LORD shines His light;

Why do we do the things we do? Most of what we do is out of routine. Maybe we need to scrutinize our routine to make sure it’s bringing God glory. Is He directing our path or are we just acting out of habit?

A lot of what we do is taught to us by our family and heritage. A good deal is taught by our culture/society. All of it hinges on how we interpret things according to our temperaments. As we can see, there’s a lot of margin for error in our system of learning. Where does God start?! He starts with the heart.

Let’s look at a passage of Scripture that explains what God does for us upon salvation. It is taken from a passage concerning the return of Israel that is still in process. God has chosen to save Israel one soul at a time rather than as a nation. Pray for them that they may hear His voice and respond to the Gospel just as we did!

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit inside you; I will take the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh [that responds to Me].
27 I will put my Spirit inside you and cause you to live by my laws, respect my rulings and obey them. Ezekiel 36:26-27

Our desire as Christians is to respond to His voice, live by His laws, respect His commands and obey Him at every turn. If that desire is not in us, then we had better look at our salvation again and make sure that we have the Holy Spirit inside of us! Are we:

  • getting up in the morning hearing His call to sit down with Him and discuss His Word?
  • looking at our daily lives and working on getting rid of the things that we have learned from our family and culture that are contrary to what God desires?
  • listening closely to the Spirit as He directs our steps?
  • trying to die to self and live for Him?
  • rejoicing in the daily process, understanding that we are INTERACTING WITH GOD ALMIGHTY?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The book of Romans is a great letter to people who were not raised Jewish (that’s most of us). It explains what salvation is and what godliness is. In chapter 13, he tells us:

11 Besides all this [learning to love our neighbor as we love ourselves], you know at what point of history we stand [the times of the Gentiles may be nearing its end]; so it is high time for you to rouse yourselves from sleep; for the final deliverance is nearer than when we first came to trust. 12 The night is almost over, the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and arm ourselves with the weapons of light13 Let us live properly, as people do in the daytime — not partying and getting drunk, not engaging in sexual immorality and other excesses, not quarrelling and being jealous. 14 Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Yeshua [Jesus] the Messiah; and don’t waste your time thinking about how to provide for the sinful desires of your old nature.

Today, let us focus on Jesus and let everything else go. He will let us know what is worth keeping. He lives for interaction with us; let’s learn to live for interaction with Him.

Abba, I pledge myself today to You and Your will for my life. Even as I go about my daily routine, may You speak to me about what’s important and what is frivolous, what is helpful and what is harmful. May I always be ready to adjust my schedule and my agenda to match Yours. Interrupt me anytime, LORD. I am Your servant. Amen.

Proverbs 20 11-20-19

We must raise the idea of there being another way (THE Way), but we must leave the convincing/convicting up to God.

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

If you haven’t noticed, creation truths, especially new discoveries, are a favorite topic of mine. I thrill to learn something new about God’s creation and our world’s history. Why? Because they give me insights into what God is doing now and what will happen in the future.

I’ve yet to get into a full-blown argument with an evolutionist. I was berated once, but I held to my testimony of knowing Christ personally (Paul warns us in Titus 3:9-11 not to get into arguments with people about such things; there is no convincing them of the truth unless the Spirit is working on them) and that seemed to take the wind out of his sails. We left the conversation on equitable terms. I still pray for John that the Spirit would water the seed planted in him and grow the Gospel in his soul.

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

Most people believe in evolution because that is what they have been taught. If they went to a public school, they have been brainwashed with it since kindergarten. They don’t really know how or why evolution works; it’s just all they know. We must keep in mind that we, too, were like them once:

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived [by lies] and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. Titus 3:3

Satan would have us believe the lie of evolution because it keeps us blind. We would like to believe evolution because it allows us to do as we please. We are both deceived and enslaved by it. How does a person become “undeceived” and then “unenslaved”? Only by the Spirit of God shining His light on that person’s soul.

The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being. Proverbs 20:27

There is a note at the bottom of my Bible that says, “or, A person’s words are…” So, if we were to read the verse using the alternate meaning, it would read like this:

A person’s words are the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being.

Building on this alternative translation, we can come to this conclusion: We have the opportunity through conversation (and sometimes confrontation) to shed light on a person’s soul. We plant a seed. That seed is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With this thought in mind, I have determined:

  1. To use creation vs. evolution as a springboard into a conversation with people.
  2. If I am confronted, then I will ask them if they are open to another way if the facts are there.
  3. If they are, then we can proceed. If they aren’t, then I will give my testimony (the quick version*) and close the conversation by changing the subject or leaving.

What we bank on is the next few verses in Titus 3 that God will do in them what He did in us:

4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 

Just as God saved US and called US out of the darkness, deception, and slavery, we pray for those with whom we come in contact to be convicted by the Holy Spirit. All it takes to get the ball rolling is for us to say something. We must assume that God brings people into our paths in order for us to share the Gospel through our testimony. Let’s learn how to get into conversations with folks!

Abba, it’s time. It’s time for Your church to get up and get going. We have the perfect opportunity with creation vs. evolution to begin conversations. May I practice what I preach as You lead me into conversations with people. I pray for John that You would work a mighty work in his life. May You grow the seed planted in his heart. May he open his mind to a new way of looking at things and then open his heart to Your kindness and love. Even if we make the devil and his followers mad, may we be strong and courageous! We are Your servants, O LORD. Use us for Your glory. Amen.

*I was once blind to the truth about God. I was deceived and enslaved by my own sin. But Jesus came into my heart, forgave me of all my wrongdoing, and made me right with God–and He’s still there! We walk through life together and He teaches me how to be like Him. I know He’s real because He lives in me.

Proverbs 20 10-20-19

We are all called to give an account for our lives. It would make things easier if we started now with someone.

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

I see this verse working two ways:

  1. A person can look inside himself and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, draw insight and understanding about himself.
  2. A person can avail himself to another person, one he can trust, who can help him determine what is in his heart and what to do about it–according to the Spirit.

The need for someone to whom we are accountable is based upon verse 9:

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

We can justify anything. When we can’t justify what we want, we blatantly do what we want, anyway. DESIRE is just too strong an opponent. Eve had the same problem:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food [it looked delicious] and pleasing to the eye [sparkly and shiny], and also desirable for gaining wisdom [would make her like God-see verse 5], she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

What should have happened is that Adam should have reached over and knocked it from her hand. If she ate it before he could do that, then he should have counseled her to go before the LORD and confess what she had done. Instead, he allowed her to drag him down with her. Evidently the DESIRE was too great to overcome for him, too.

ON our own, we cannot overcome DESIRE. We need HELP. That help comes from the Holy Spirit. His Spirit in us gives us everything we need for godly living (see Heb. 13:20-21 and 2 Peter 1:3). At the same time, we sometimes need “God with skin on.” We need someone in whom we can trust and with whom we can share our weaknesses and burdens. Then, going to the Word of God, we approach the throne of grace and receive mercy and grace in our time of need (Heb. 4:16).



Back in the 90’s, Promise Keepers was a great vehicle for accountability among men. They set up groups of four to six that met weekly for accountability and Bible study. Many good things came out of those groups.

Whether it’s one-on-one or in a group of 4-6, you might consider either forming or joining an accountability group. Solomon, the wisest man on earth, said,

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

I know this: It’s impossible to get a sound check by yourself. I also know that it’s impossible to live a perfectly righteous life without an objective opinion. I need accountability. So do you. Ask the LORD who He has in mind for you.

Abba, I thank You that Robin is my accountability partner. She holds my spiritual feet to Your fire. I also thank You for the men in my life who love me and ask me the hard questions. May I be that person for other men. Help me to pay it forward, Lord. Amen.


Proverbs 20 9-20-19

Double standards are tough! We have them and don’t even realize it. Let’s make sure our lives line up with His Word.

10 Differing weights and differing measures—the Lord detests them both.

Moses brought us the Sinai Covenant. It was forged by God’s hand on the tablets (Exodus 31:18) and written out in Hebrew. According to archeological and linguistic studies, the Hebrew language is the oldest language known besides hieroglyphics (which was really a picture language). Each Hebrew letter has a picture and a number attached to it, thus making it rich in meaning. The original version was more than likely developed by Joseph in the 1800’s B.C. and expanded by the LORD with the 10 Commandments in 1550 B.C. and, subsequently, by Moses as he dictated what God had him write down during his lifetime.

This covenant was all about having one standard: God’s standard of holiness.

Leviticus 19:1 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.'”

Leviticus 20:7 “‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God.Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.'”

The 10 Commandments are Exodus 20:1-17. The commands are a primer for holiness. In holiness, we find unity and oneness.  God commanded the Israelites to treat each other with respect:

Leviticus 19:18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

We have heard this verse before! Jesus quoted it in Matthew 22:39. God even commands for them to treat foreigners as fellow Israelites:

Leviticus 19:34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-bornLove them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

It’s interesting to note that God was interested in equality among the Israelites and even the foreigners (mostly Egyptians) that were among them. Remember our verse on double standards?

The point of the Law was to show us that we are a sinful people in need of a Savior. It was never designed to take away sin, but to cover sin. “Atonement” means, “to cover.” Jesus’ blood on the heavenly altar does more than just cover us: IT CLEANSES US! Let’s take a look at Hebrews (the book):

9:22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood,and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

10:4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

9:12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

7:24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

The best verse for equality is Galatians 3:28,

28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

In Christ, we are all on the same playing field. We are heirs of God, co-heirs with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17) and we will spend eternity together worshiping the LORD (Revelation 7:9-10). Let’s imitate Jesus, who loved everyone as His own, and make Him our Standard.

Dear Lord Jesus, may I weigh every opinion, every judgement, today by asking the Holy Spirit His opinion. May You speak to my heart so that I will be able to test and approve what Your will is–Your good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2). Whether it’s eating habits, what I watch on TV, what I say about others,  help me to have ONE STANDARD: YOURS, O Lord. Following You, Amen.