Proverbs 3-22-23

Our children learn a lot from us by listening in on our conversations. May we be ever-vigilant in guarding what we say.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building [your kids] up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

When we rant about something at home or in the car with our children (and/or grandchildren) present, we teach them through our words, our tone, and energy. What do we teach them? If we are not careful, we can teach them to fear, to hate, to take up our offense, to see things and people from a negative perspective, and to not respect authority. This truth goes for talking about your boss, your co-workers, your friends, your church, (and if applicable a church building project). Is it our job to monitor what younger generations are hearing and learning from us? You bet it is!

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get upTie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheadsWrite them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9

God sets great store by obedience because He knows obedience is what will keep our relationship with Him and our relationships with each other healthy, full of peace and joy rather than full of the bondage that comes with disobedience. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commands” John 14:15. In fact, nearly all of His parables were about loving God through obedience; the parable of two sons (Matthew 21:28-32), and the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) are two examples. This passage from Deuteronomy is a classic example of how we are to teach our children. The symbols on their hands and the binding of them on their foreheads were real, physical reminders. For us today, we might put a scripture on the lock screen on our phones or computer screens to remind us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind* and strength. Where was the emphasis in the Deuteronomy passage? On the children. For the sake of the next generation. What we say matters. How we say it matters, too.

Let’s make sure that we are leaving a godly legacy for our children, our grandchildren, and the younger generations of our church family. What stories do we want them to tell about us when we are gone? What stories will they tell of how we handled conflict whether at home, work, or at church? I pray that it is one of kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and taking the lower seat at the banquet table. May we love each other as Christ loves us: with a cruciform, self-sacrificing love. By the way, “cruciform” means “shaped like a cross” (I looked it up). It’s what happens to us when we take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23); we take on a cross-shaped life.

Abba, may we all strive to live a cruciform life. Your way is the best way for everyone, especially our children, for the sake of the generations to come. May we impress on them their need to love You with all their heart, soul and strength. May we never cease to love you ourselves by being careful about what we say. Amen.

*Mark 12:30 includes “mind” in the list.

Proverbs 2-22-23

The love of God calls us to love others. In trusting Jesus, His love flows through us to others. It really is that simple.

“God is love.” “We love because He first loved us. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16, 19

One of my favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, which says,

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

Christ’s love is our motivation for living for Him. He died and rose again–is that not proof that He is who He says He is, which is the Son of God, the Messiah, Lord of heaven and earth? Yet, He doesn’t want us to be afraid of Him. He is meek and lowly, “a bruised reed He will not break” (Matthew 12:20). He is humble and gentle at heart, and He offers rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus loves us and the Father loves us,

26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” John 16:26-28

People who are afraid of Jesus don’t know Jesus. Let’s introduce them to Him, shall we? Let’s begin by treating each other (Christian brothers and sisters) like Jesus told us to,

34 “A new command I give you: Love one anotherAs I have loved you, so you must love one another35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Jesus showed us how, now let’s get busy doing it!

Abba, You told us to love like You. It’s difficult because we are afraid. Help us to remove our fear and to trust You in all things, for all things. Amen.

Proverbs 1-22-23

The New Testament is founded upon the Old Testament. One helps us to understand the other.

16 All Scripture [Old Testament-the new hadn’t been written yet] is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

When Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, he cited the Old Testament regularly (check the bottom of each page of his letter for an OT reference). There are several passages that have numerous OT verses quoted, such as:

Little did Paul know that he was in the process of writing more than half the New Testament! The mistake people make is receiving the righteousness of Christ, but then using the OT to “achieve” righteousness on our own. We are trying to obtain that which we have already been given! The Galatians had done exactly that, and Paul wrote in his letter to them,

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heardAre you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?

We know that Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets. We read about it in Matthew 5:17-18,

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

The phrase, “until everything is accomplished” leaves us with a progressive fulfillment. Jesus fulfilled much of the law and prophets, i.e. the sacrifices, the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah, the Passover Seder, but there are still prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled. These prophecies have to do with His return to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords,

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10-11

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Matthew 19:28

We have these prophecies to which to look forward,

The Lord says to my lord:
“Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.”
Psalm 110:1

The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name. Zechariah 14:9

23 By myself I have sworn,
    my mouth has uttered in all integrity
    a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
    by me every tongue will swear.
Isaiah 45:23

The Bible: 66 books, written over 1500 years by 35 authors from various walks of life, written in three languages with 1,817 prophecies, of which Jesus fulfilled over 300 during His earthly life, death and resurrection, with one clear message, “For God so loved the world…”

Abba, as we worship today, may we give thanks for the written testimony of Your love, mercy, and grace. Amen.

Proverbs 22 12-22-22

Living a godly life is God walking with us pointing the way, showing us how, and helping us do it. It’s a process!

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3

Let’s go through this verse and discover the truths hidden inside:

  1. Whose power? God’s divine power.
  2. Given us how much? Everything we need.
  3. A life like Whose? Like God, a god-like life.
  4. What do we know of Jesus? Who He is, what He has promised, what He has already told us in His Word, and what He says to us in our daily walk all add up to our knowledge of Him, which grows daily.
  5. How does He call us? By His own glory and goodness.
  6. What does it mean to be called by His own glory? His divine nature and power.
  7. What does it mean to be called by His own goodness? His divine character. It’s who He is.

Are we talking about God or Jesus? The answer to that question is in verses 1 and 2,

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Peter lists God and Jesus as One, and then as Separate, which we know as God the Father and God the Son. When we talk about one, we are talking about the other, as well. Jesus said that they are one (John 10:30). Add God the Holy Spirit, and we have the Holy Trinity. Having the Spirit in us gives us everything we need because He IS God!

Tomorrow, we will look at how God rescued us through Jesus Christ from sin and death.

Abba, I believe that the “all we need” part of today’s verse is about the Holy Spirit. Having the Spirit of Jesus in us is exactly what we need and all that we need in order to live the God-life. He gives us both the desire and the power to do it! Thank You, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 22 11-22-22

To parse means to analyze something to discover its implications or uncover a deeper meaning. It’s what we do to verses.

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

One of my favorite passages about love is Philippians 1:9-11,

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

I have heard grace imagined as a waterfall under which we step in order to receive all that we need from God. Let’s see what we can “parse” in this passage:

  • The more we know of God, the more of His love we know; the more of His love we know, the deeper our insight into God. The word, “abound,” draws the picture of abundance, as in a waterfall that nearly knocks us down. Now, THAT’S grace!
  • The ability to discern comes from our attenuation to the Spirit. We must be tuned in and listening in order to sense the nudges and warnings of the Spirit. In order to be tuned in, we must be pure and blameless–speaking of which…
  • Being pure and blameless has to do with being current with God in thought and attitude. Have we let something slide that is keeping us from seeking His face? Are we up-to-date in our prayer life concerning temptations, feelings, habits, relationships, and numerous other things that can spin out of control in a hurry? By the way, purity and blamelessness are awarded to us via grace as we stand under the waterfall and “put on the new self created in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).
  • The day of Christ can be many things. In this instance, the day of Christ is everyday. Christ is in us, so the conviction of the Spirit comes to us instantly. We either react in the flesh or respond according to the Spirit. Look at Romans 8:11-13,
    • 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
    • 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
    • 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
  • Filled with the fruit of righteousness is easy: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control come to mind (Galatians 5:22-23) as well as truth (Ephesians 5:9). They all come through our relationship with Christ. His Spirit grows them in us!
  • It is all to the glory and praise of God the Father.

Know that I pray Philippians 1:9-11 for you. I ask that you pray it for me.

Abba, once again I lift up this passage as a prayer for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. As we seek You daily, walk in step with you consistently, and obey you immediately, we trust that You are making us pure and blameless. May we serve You today, Abba, as we stand under Your waterfall of grace that comes from Your throne. Amen.

Proverbs 22 10-22-22

Faith, hope and love. Out of the three, which one do you think best reflects the culture of God?

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

As we have seen over the last few days, 1 Corinthians 13 has a lot to say about the culture of God. Today, we put the final icing on the cake by revealing the secret to knowing that culture.

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

All of us are spiritual children to God (I like to say that we never get out of the nursery). The entire process of sanctification (growing to be like Christ) is one of maturing spiritually. Spiritual maturity will pervade every area of our lives, so if we get that right, our entire lives look like Jesus. The secret in the sauce is in putting the ways of childhood behind us. We have identified many of these childish ways, which boil down to self-centeredness. If we can ever get our heads up, we will be able to see as God sees. We will see ourselves as the crowning achievement to His creation; we will see our neighbors as we see ourselves–as the crowning achievements to His creation! If we can see each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, then we may begin to treat each other as fellow siblings in Christ. Likewise, if we view all people as prospective brothers and sisters in Christ, then we may begin to treat them in such a way as to win them over.

Let’s finish the chapter:

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

  • Faith is believing everything Jesus has told us and trusting Him in all things.
  • Hope is believing and trusting in the promise that He has given us for meeting our needs right now and for the future (beyond death).
  • Love is seeing people as Jesus sees them and acting like Jesus toward them.

Why is love greater than the other two? Because it represents the very character of God.

God Is Love.
1 John 4:16

Abba, the culture You desire of us is very simple. All we have to do is be just like Jesus in how we interact with You and with each other. Please mature us to the point that we can actually see people as You see them. May we see ourselves as You see us: Loved and worth fighting for! Thank You, Jesus, for fighting for us. We love You. Amen.

Proverbs 22 9-22-22

Imagine what would happen if we all came together in unity under the banner of Christ. Pentecost all over again!

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mindDo nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:1-4

Cooperation among our churches is what makes us Southern Baptists. From the Baptist Faith & Message:

XIV. Cooperation

Christ’s people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.

Exodus 17:1218:17ff.; Judges 7:21Ezra 1:3-42:68-695:14-15Nehemiah 48:1-5Matthew 10:5-1520:1-1622:1-1028:19-20Mark 2:3Luke 10:1ff.; Acts 1:13-142:1ff.; 4:31-3713:2-315:1-351 Corinthians 1:10-173:5-15122 Corinthians 8-9Galatians 1:6-10Ephesians 4:1-16Philippians 1:15-18.

We are basically talking about getting along. One of the things that has hurt us the most is our propensity to segregate rather than look for ways to unite. I’ve talked about the target before, but it’s still the best analogy I know for cooperation among churches both in and out of the Southern Baptist Convention.

  • The target, of course, is Jesus Himself.
  • The first ring is our dogma: The truth of Jesus’ incarnation, immaculate birth, sinless life, sacrificial death, subsequent resurrection, and His ascension to the throne at the right hand of God.
  • The second ring is doctrine, which is interpretation of Scripture. Views depend upon culture, geography, timeline, experience, and teaching.
  • The third ring is anything that is not clearly spelled out in Scripture. It is at this ring that we can come together with people of other churches and other denominations to work toward a common goal.

Jesus told us plainly, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this will the world know that you are My disciples if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Finding ways to segregate is not loving each other. Let’s love like Jesus told us to love, shall we?

Abba, You are the great Uniter. Your Spirit lives in us and binds our hearts together. May we look for Your Spirit in each person who claims to be Your disciple. Through loving each other as You have loved us and through cooperating together toward a unified goal, we can reach the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ, Your Son! Direct our hearts, O God. Amen.

Proverbs 22 8-22-22

As we look at the construction of the human body, we realize how complex it is.

2 Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all.

As we continue our study of hair, let’s review:

  • The human head has an estimated 100,000 hairs;
  • We have hair everywhere except our palms and soles;
  • On the entire surface of our bodies, there are about 5 million hairs;
  • Vellus hairs are colorless and nearly invisible;
  • Terminal hairs have color and grow longer;
  • Certain hairs grow over years while others grow for less than two months;
  • Hair outside the follicle is dead, but is locked together tightly;
  • The outside of the hair (the cuticle) looks like the bark on a palm tree.

Today, we look at how our hair stays in the follicles, but then grows out of the follicles. It’s quite a miracle! From, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body,” pages 73-78.

The hair needs to be locked inside the hair follicle to prevent it from being easily pulled out. Without a “hair lock,” hair loss would likely prove fatal for most mammals.
The hair follicle is lined with a cuticle whose overlapping cells face the opposite direction of the cuticle on the hair shaft. The precise interlock of the two cuticles makes it impossible to pull out a hair without tearing out a large part of the follicle with it. But don’t worry; this event immediately triggers the rebuilding of the damaged follicle and a new hair growth cycle.

The question arises, if the hair is locked in place, how does it slide out as it grows? Amazingly, tens of thousands of little “buttons,” called desmosomes, line the hair follicle. These buttons are quickly buttoned and unbuttoned in a precise sequence to allow the hair to slide out in a controlled fashion. Before the hair emerges from the surface of the skin, the lock (the cuticle lining the hair follicle) is digested with special enzymes.

I appreciate the miracle of the hair lock, but I still have questions about hair, so I went to WebMD and found some answers. We will look at those questions and answers tomorrow.

Abba, I figure we could study human anatomy all our lives and never learn all there is to know about us. Yet, there are things about our new bodies that will be fun investigating, too. But, we will have to save that for another post. Suffice it to say that we stand amazed at Your genius, Abba. You alone deserve all praise. Amen.

Proverbs 22 7-22-22

Coming to know Jesus personally is the entire point to the Gospel. He’s forgiven us, but there’s more to it than that.

3 The prudent see danger and take refuge [in Jesus], but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

We left off yesterday with the question of what is the entire point to knowing Jesus. The answer is quite simple if we stop and think about it:

  • What kind of world do we live in?
  • What condition were we in when we came to Christ?
  • What has changed about our relationship with Him?
  • What has changed about our circumstances?

Although we have been forgiven, we still live in a sin-sick world. Our circumstances didn’t change by coming to Christ. So, is the promise of heaven all we really have to fall back on spiritually? Enter the Holy Spirit–literally. The Spirit of Christ has come to live in us. He is our Guarantor, our Comforter, our Advocate, and our Guide. He IS Jesus! Jesus came to clear the way for Him to live in each of us. If life is a minefield, He knows where all the mines are and can help us through the minefield of life. We can be sure that we will incur serious damage without Him as our Guide.

Asaph wrote about this relationship in Psalm 73. Let’s look:

23 Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

Although Asaph (one of King David’s lead musicians) lived around a thousand years before Christ, he had a pretty good handle on the relationship that we currently have with the Lord:

  • He is always with us;
  • He holds us by our right (dominant) hand;
  • He guides us with the counsel of His Spirit;
  • We have His promise of eternity with Him in His kingdom;
  • Our desires have changed to the point that nothing comes between us and Jesus;
  • Our flesh fails, and so does our heart;
  • God is the strength of our heart–but our flesh doesn’t have that same guarantee. In fact, we are warned several times in Scripture that we will suffer physically for Christ (2 Corinthians 1:4-5, Philippians 1:29, 2 Timothy 2:3, 1 Peter 2:21, 1 Peter 4:13, 1 Peter 5:10).

The one thing that we are sure of is that unless the Lord comes back, we all will die physically. Until God places all of Christ’s enemies under His feet (Psalm 110:1, Romans 16:20) and Jesus brings everything into unity under Him (Ephesians 1:10), we are destined to leave this world and go to His. In the meantime, He promises to walk with us the entire way, and when we get to the end of this life, He will walk with us into His eternal life. He is with us all the way!

It is this good news that we need to be sharing with those around us:

  1. God loves them very much.
  2. Jesus is God in the flesh and loves them very much.
  3. Jesus came to erase our sin and guilt and to walk with us through this life.
  4. He will walk us right into His world when this life is done.
  5. In the meantime, He gives us His love, joy and peace as signs of His Presence in our lives. We have His invitation to come to Him anytime and all the time for mercy and grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
  6. Through Christ, with Christ (His Spirit in us), we have victory over this world, its demons, its temptations, and its way of thinking. From now on, we have the mind of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:16).

Abba, what wonderful good news! As You reveal this good news in us, may we share it with those around us. Yes, we get to go to heaven when we die, but it’s more than that; it’s better than that. You want a personal and ongoing relationship with us RIGHT NOW! May we take advantage of such a great salvation. Amen.

Proverbs 24 6-24-22

People ask, “Why is there so much suffering in the world?” Big question. Here is Part One…

7 Wisdom is too high for fools [those who refuse to accept truth]; in the assembly at the gate they must not open their mouths.

Who causes natural disasters? On November 1, 1755, an earthquake hit the town of Lisbon, Portugal. It was All Saints Day and many people were in church. All the churches in the city were destroyed as well as much of the city. 10% of the population lost their lives. God was blamed; the sin of the city (slave trade) was blamed; fatalism (what will be, will be) was blamed. So, which one was it? Kirsten Sanders did a pretty good job of answering that question in her article,

Disasters Are Not God’s Punishments.
But They Can Judge Us.

Both 18th-century earthquakes and 21st-century pandemics upend optimism and fatalism.

Her answer? The judgment was not God’s punishment, but the opportunity for evaluation of our present circumstances. “In this second sense of judgment-for-revelation, natural disasters can reveal things as they really are. Real lives are lost. Survivors experience real suffering. These aren’t drills. But they also don’t prove God’s weakness, absence, or callousness. Instead, they prove the quality—or lack thereof—of people’s stewardship.” Poor building structure, lack of emergency planning, and other failures were revealed.

The biggest revelation was the folly of the Enlightenment, which was that nature and the world would only get better in light of human reason. “A tidy, positive view of the world prevailed during the Enlightenment. Philosophers in the 18th century argued that the universe was ordered according to a consistent set of rules. By observing nature and using one’s reason, they said, God’s ways could be deduced. God could thus be known through the orderly world.”

In his 1710 book Theodicy, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz argued that the world that
God created was good enough to excuse the occurrence of occasional evils;
indeed, this world we have is the “best of all possible worlds.”

This disaster blew that argument out of the water. Moreover, the preachers of the day blamed the sins of the city, comparing the disaster to Sodom and Gomorrah. The problem with this line of thinking is that unbelievers then blamed God for the disaster. They might believe that God is great, but they would never believe that God is good. Voltaire, a French historian and philosopher, rejected the optimism of the day,

As with optimism, fatalism can’t satisfy the outrage and grief we feel
when we see calamity strike the obviously innocent. Would pessimism suffice?
Such an approach to the Lisbon earthquake is where Voltaire landed. He wrote his famous
“Poem on the Lisbon Disaster” and articulated the famous three-pronged dilemma that has occupied theologians ever since: If God is good, and God is powerful, then how did this hellish thing happen?

What we forget is that we are created in God’s image with the ability to choose to follow and fellowship with Him or to walk away into darkness. When mankind sinned and death entered the world, death entered nature, too, the Great Flood being a classic example. Natural disasters occur, not because of God’s judgment, but because of the consequence of death in our world. God does not promise to save us from disaster and death, but to walk with us through them to His home. We must remember that He is all about a relationship with us. It’s what the cross was all about.

Let’s be careful to not blame God for that for which He is not responsible.

Abba, I know it grieves Your heart when Your children hurt. It grieves You even more when they blame You. May we all learn that we live with the consequences of sin. One day soon, we will be beyond pain and suffering and in the light of Your Presence. In the meantime, may we enjoy and depend upon our fellowship with You. Amen.

Proverbs 22 6-22-22

Sensing the Holy Spirit’s presence in a worship service is not self-generated. We must align ourselves and empty ourselves.

2 Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is Maker of them all.

From yesterday: “Those who use their voices to praise the Lord place themselves in the center of His love and grace. We call those gatherings, ‘worship services.’” In them, we can sometimes sense the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit. So, why don’t we feel His presence more often in our services? The answers below are not a complete list, but they are the ones of which I, a Worship Pastor for 37 years, am the most acquainted.

  1. Complacency-There is no real immediate perceived need. When life is good, we tend to minimize our need for God. Realizing how much we need Him for daily living is a necessity for true worship.
  2. Culture-The need to be different is something that calls to every generation. Each generation’s cultural needs are different than the past ones, but “different” is not necessarily better, just different. Blending the old with the new requires effort from all generations involved.
  3. Reliance on works-We forget that grace is given by trusting in Jesus. Good works do not impress God; contrite hearts do (Psalm 51:17). Are good works important? They sure are! We have been created for carrying out God’s work on this earth (Ephesians 2:10). Let’s look at it this way, “We should so work as if we were to be saved by our works; and so rely on Jesus Christ, as if we did no works*.”
  4. Need for Realignment-In our daily lives, we can get out of sync with the Lord. Praise reminds us of what is important and what we need. The old-fashioned word is, “repentance.”
  5. Fear-People fear God (usually because they don’t understand how much He loves them). Although the Bible says to fear God, the fear it’s talking about is about awe and respect. Today’s definition of fear has more to do with distrust, and even horror. Jesus said in Matthew 10:31, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” We are to respect Him and be in awe of Him, but not fear Him as we think of fear today.

Being real before God is the only way to move from praise to worship; it’s the only way to sense the Spirit’s manifest presence, and to hear a word from the Lord. Jesus told us that “true worshipers worship in the Spirit and in truth, for these are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (John 4:23). The next time you gather with other believers to praise the Lord, be sure to realize your need for Him, consider the other generations around you, set works aside, ask the Lord to realign you with Him, and trust Him to do exactly that. Hearing Him on this point alone is worth going, don’t you think?

Abba, as people enter into a worship service, I pray that You will impress upon them whatever is standing in the way of You and them connecting relationally. May they allow You to remove that barrier so that Your love can flow on and through them along with Your mercy and Your grace. May we learn to truly worship You in the Spirit and in truth. Amen.

*Francis Asbury (1745 – 1816) was one of the first two bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States.

Proverbs 22 5-22-22

Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. In fact, we are all part of God’s family (Hebrews 2:11).

8:20 I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice [a synonym of righteousness], 21 bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me and making their treasuries full.

Americans tend to think individually rather than as a family, which is largely due to our heritage as Americans. Many of our forefathers and their families came to America for a new start away from their extended families and heritage. Hence, individual choice is paramount to us. In “Misreading Scripture Through Western Eyes,” the authors hold up a mirror to us,

“The highest goal and virtue in this sort of culture [Western societies] is being true to oneself. The supreme value is the sovereignty of the individual.” (page 96).
“The non-Western concept of family is broader than the Western. But Jesus expanded it even more. For Jesus, family not only designated one’s immediate, biological relatives but included all who are knit together in faith. (page 105)

Jesus continues to expand His family through the church. We are His church, His bride. We are His body through which He fills everything in every way,

22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:22-23

We are the aroma of Christ everywhere we go. This aroma sets the stage for ministry, witness, and evangelism. Christ is still leading a growing procession as the church continues to spread and grow, just like the rock in Daniel’s interpretation of Neb’s dream in Daniel 2:34-35 that grew and “became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.” Paul said that to some we are the smell of death; I interpret this smell to be conviction of the Spirit to a lost person. He then said we are the fragrance of life to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s read this passage:

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

Today as we go to church, may we consider those around us. They are more than friends; they are brothers and sisters in God’s family. We will be spending eternity together; maybe we ought to start thinking more long-term in our relationships with them.

Abba, You have included us in Your family. It’s One Big Family! You are our heavenly Father and Jesus is our Big Brother. May we cultivate a kingdom attitude toward our fellow brothers and sisters. Amen.

Proverbs 22 4-22-22

Our physical growth and our spiritual growth are amazingly similar. Let’s look at how:

3 The prudent see danger and take refuge [they are able to look ahead], but the simple keep going and pay the penalty [they are not able to see beyond what they are doing].

Yesterday, we looked at the four stages of Jean Piaget’s cognitive development. They are:

  • Sensorimotor stage: birth to 2 years
  • Preoperational stage: ages 2 to 7
  • Concrete operational stage: ages 7 to 11
  • Formal operational stage: ages 12 and up

In the Preoperational stage, there are some parallels between our physical stages of growth and our spiritual stages of growth. Let’s consider some of them:

Major Characteristics and Developmental Changes:

  1. Children begin to think symbolically and learn to use words and pictures to represent objects.
  2. Children at this stage tend to be egocentric and struggle to see things from the perspective of others.
  3. While they are getting better with language and thinking, they still tend to think about things in very concrete terms.
  1. Jesus definitely related to us symbolically. For instance, He called Himself “the bread of life (John 6:35),” “the light of the world (John 8:12),” and “the good Shepherd (John 10:11).” He used word pictures, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…(John 6:54),” and bread and wine representing His body and blood (Luke 22:19-20).
  2. Egocentric means that we see predominantly from our own perspective. Christians who are loyal to either the person/denomination who brought them to Jesus or to the specific belief system that introduced them to Jesus can struggle with this stage. Learning to learn from other believers who believe differently than them can come slowly and over time.
  3. The cross and its intent is a prime example of concrete thinking:
    1. For a thousand years, the general belief was that Christ rescued us from sin, death, and the clutches of the enemy.
    2. In Medieval times, the general thought was of honor and satisfaction, which was a big deal to the serfs, lords and knights in their day.
    3. In the Renaissance, John Calvin introduced the courtroom metaphor that is still loosely held to this day in Western churches.

As we can see, our spiritual growth mirrors our physical growth. Sometimes we “grow up” very quickly spiritually while at other times we can linger in a stage. What it all boils down to is our interaction with the heavenly Father. He is the one who helps us work through each stage. The amount of time it takes doesn’t matter as much as getting through them.

Tomorrow, we will look at the Concrete Operational Stage (ages 7-11 years) and see if we find any parallels.

Abba, as Your children, I know that You are in the process of growing us up in Christ. May we get really good at listening for and then to Your Spirit as You lead us in our daily lives. Amen.

Proverbs 21 4-21-22

To be told we are acting like a child is offensive even if it’s true. Being reminded of where we are spiritually can be, too.

21:2 A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.

Matthew made a point to talk about God as our heavenly Father four times in Matthew (5:48, 6:14, 6:26, 6:32). He also refers to God as His heavenly Father twice (15:13, 18:35). He also refers to us and His disciples as little children (His little faithless ones-6:30, 8:26, 14:31, 16:8, 17:20). I’m seeing a theme here, aren’t you?

According to Jean Piaget*, there are four stages of cognitive development. They are:

  • Sensorimotor stage: birth to 2 years
  • Preoperational stage: ages 2 to 7
  • Concrete operational stage: ages 7 to 11
  • Formal operational stage: ages 12 and up

Could it be that we all live in the first years of the Preoperational stage spiritually? Let’s look at VeryWellMind and see what characteristics define this stage.

Piaget noted that children in this stage do not yet understand concrete logic, cannot mentally manipulate information, and are unable to take the point of view of other people, which he termed egocentrism.

During the preoperational stage, children also become increasingly adept at using symbols, as evidenced by the increase in playing and pretending.1 For example, a child is able to use an object to represent something else, such as pretending a broom is a horse.

Role-playing also becomes important—children often play the roles of “mommy,” “daddy,” “doctor,” and many other characters.

All of a sudden, the Bible’s metaphors and stories come into focus as to why they are used so much. It’s how God relates to us on our level! We’ll talk more on this subject tomorrow, but for today, let’s take a step back from what we “know” and realize that we are small children to God, that we are metaphorically in a nursery, and that our fellow humans are in there with us. It kinda changes how we view each other, doesn’t it?

Abba, (I love calling You that) You are my heavenly Father and I am Your little child. I relish the fact that You are particularly fond of me, as You are each of Your children. May we all recognize that we are young in our knowledge of You and Your world. Grow us up, Lord. We want to be like You. Amen.

*Jean Piaget-Swiss psychologist known for his work on child development (1896-1980)

Proverbs 22 3-22-22

World events are crazy right now. Even as war breaks out, the Gospel is reaching people all over the world!

12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge, but He frustrates the words of the unfaithful [with truth].

On Sunday, I mentioned that Israel has 30,000+ professing Christians, but according to One For Israel, the responses and testimonies they receive daily from new seekers tell a different story. They believe that number “is just the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands more underground seekers and new believers still afraid to come forward with their faith.”

“In the most closed countries, from the Islamist Gaza Strip to the fields of Afghanistan,
social media reaches places no minister could ever preach.
This is where we make our stand, in the online streets of the Middle East.”

You might be wondering why One For Israel’s online footprint is so big. Israelis lead the world in social media usage. The average Israeli spends 11+ hours a day on social platforms, almost double the global average! Subsequently, their “market” is virtually everyone, including Bedouin Israelis. “In the last 50 years, illiteracy was reduced in the Bedouin community from 95% to 10%. Many are online today and can hear the Gospel from our online outreach.”

It’s amazing the avenues God uses to reach us. Who ever thought that the Pandemic would be so fruitful for the souls of mankind? May we pray for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, to spread like wildfire in the Middle East, and may He use One For Israel as one of His vessels.

Abba, even before I visited Israel, I loved her. The rich history and the tangible historical sites are like a cord that ties my heart to her. Draw the people of Israel and her surrounding neighbors to Yourself, Lord Jesus. I look forward to the day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that You are Lord. May it be soon. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Amen.

Proverbs 22 2-22-22

Getting “me” out of the picture is hard to do, yet that is exactly what “dying to self” is all about.

1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.

I’m not talking about belittling ourselves; that is self-deprecation. I’m talking about not thinking about ourselves at all concerning the Lord’s will. His will for us is the next right thing done with Him and not just for him. When people do things for Christ rather than with Him, they miss the point of the exercise.

In reverse order, these verses from Philippians 2 will help us understand:

You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had,
Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.
Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.

Christ’s interest was to carry out the will of His Father, which was to save us from our sin. He came to destroy the work of the devil and to “kill” death so that we would no longer have to fear it. Our interest should be to carry out the will of our Savior, which is to demonstrate His love to others, which will lead them to Him. Here is a good saying,

“Preach me a good sermon and I will listen;
Show me a good sermon and I will learn.”

Our peculiar ways will pique the interest of those who are being nudged by the Spirit, which will cause them to seek the Savior. It may be by them asking us questions, or it may be that it reactivates their childhood raising. In any case, Christ is working through us to reach them.

If you tire of trying, or of doing good, rest assured that you are in a good place–the end of your abilities. It is time to trust the Lord for His strength and His patience. You are now running on inspiration; it will never seem like enough, yet it is always just as much as you need. It is the mercy and grace that He gives when we need it,

16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Want to know how Christians stay humble? Being beyond our own ability to cope with a situation or person and yet doing it on Holy Spirit-power keeps us humble. Amen?

Abba, I pray that You will give us many opportunities to grow in the area of humility and service. Teach us to set ourselves aside and focus on You and Your work. It’s important both for Your work and for us. Amen.

Proverbs 22 1-22-22

The main point is that our sins are dealt with. The choice to receive that truth is ours.

17 Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, (18) for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips.

John the Baptizer said, “Behold [take notice and see], the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus made several references to his mission. In 3:14-15, he said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness [see Numbers 21:4-9], so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” In 12:27, he said, “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” What, exactly, is it that Jesus did?

Sin has been described as a cancer, venom (from the serpent), heart disease, and other metaphors. The consensus is that we cannot help ourselves. We need the Healer. But, the death that sin causes has been dealt with. Now, Jesus’ paradigm statement, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth [about sin and how I am going to deal with it], and the truth will set you free,” makes perfect sense because Jesus has led us into the light of grace and truth (John 1:17). We were healed and are being healed as we walk with Jesus!

Tomorrow, we will look into Jesus as our Representative. For today, it is enough to revel in our freedom–and healing–in Christ!

Abba, thank You for the freedom we have in You. You have removed every hindrance of us coming to you. All we have to do now is turn from the darkness that is all around us to the light of your face. I am reminded of the hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus [you], look full in His [your] wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his [your] glory and grace.” That is exactly how I want to live today, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 22 12-22-21

In this world, we hear many voices telling us “truth.” Who are we to trust? Whose voice is right? Jesus!

5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.

When I was growing up, there was the King James Version (KJV), the New King James Version (NKJV), and the New American Standard Version (NASV). Anything printed in our quarterlies and church materials was the KJV. So, I learned a lot of verses in Vacation Bible School (VBS) in the King James Version. One of those verses (passages) was a really weird one,

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Hebrews 1:1-2

I always wondered what they were diving for and what divers’ manners were. “Oh, no, you go first…” It wasn’t until I got my New International Version (NIV) that I understood what the passage was talking about,

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. Hebrews 1:1-2

It’s the “he has spoken to us by his Son” part on which I want us to focus today. If Jesus is God (He is) and Immanuel means, “God with us” (it does), then whatever Jesus said is God’s view on things. For instance, Jesus said twice, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (NIV-Matthew 9:13, 12:7). That statement was a pretty big change for that day. Another one concerned divorce when Jesus overrode Moses,

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19:7-9

Jesus also made what seemed like outrageous claims,

I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. Matthew 12:6

41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. Matthew 12:41

42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here. Matthew 12:42

30 I and the Father are one. John 10:30

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Matthew 5:17-18

If Jesus is the new way that God speaks to mankind, then we would do well to read our bibles, commentaries, textbooks, blogs, and all literature in light of Jesus’ teachings. I call it holding tightly to Jesus and loosely to anything else. Basically, what I do when I read is ask myself this question, “Did Jesus have anything to say about this subject?” Then, I go look and see. Another question is, “Does what I am reading fit what Jesus said about who God is?” Then, I go look and see. Jesus is our Final Authority. He is the Word of God (it’s one of His names; see Revelation 19:13 and John 1:14).

So, the next time something comes up that makes me question the integrity of God, I will go to Jesus for clarity, both in the Word and in prayer. I believe that Jesus speaks to us even as He did to the early disciples and gives wisdom, understanding and knowledge to those who seek Him. Let us seek Him today, all day, every day.

Abba, speak to our hearts and give us Your wisdom and understanding. Increase our knowledge of You and show us more of Your grace and truth. Life is all about You, Jesus. You are my life. Amen.

Proverbs 22 11-22-21

The interaction between the Father, the Son and the Spirit is perfect and complete. We are invited to share in that interaction.

1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.

We are about to read the passage 1 John 4:16 where, two different times, John proclaims that God is love. I asked myself this question,

“If God is love, but I act in hate, should I expect God to hate me?
The answer: No. Why? Because God is love.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is loveIn this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

Literal- John is likely on Patmos and is writing to his congregation in Ephesus. His phrase, “My little children” (2:1, 3:18) and “Beloved” (2:7, 4:1) indicate that he knew them very well and was responsible for them. The letter was designed to assuage their fears concerning his future and their own. He wanted them to know that God loved them deeply, and to know and trust that love would cast out their fear (4:18). He was encouraging them to keep their faith and trust in Jesus and that He is who He says He is (God in the flesh) and that He did what He said He would do, which was to save the world from their sins.

Moral- His theme in these verses is that we can know God personally and intimately, that we are in God and He in us, and that because God loves us, we should and must love one another. Being Christ to each other is huge in His eyes. The phrases, “born of God” “God abides in us” and “abides in God,” show the depth of the relationship the Father wants to have with them–and us. Jesus was God in the flesh and is now in the Spirit. It is by the Spirit that they, the Father/Son, come to “live in us (and we in them).” To have one is to have the others. If we have the Trinity “in us,” then we express that love to those around us. The phrasing in verse 20 seems to indicate that hating makes us lose our salvation or indicates that we never had it, which we know is not the case. What John wanted his followers to do, and us, also, is to allow Christ to love others through us. Even though is it we who are doing the loving, it is Christ who is giving us first the desire and then the power to love (Phil. 2:13).

Spiritual- Verse 19 says it all, “We love because He first loved us.” God went first. He proved His love for us on the cross. He took our sins to the grave and left them there. Now, having believed Him for this wonderful salvation, He asks us to do the same. Through Him and with Him, we are to be the agents of His love. As we share in the Trinity, for that is what it means to abide in Him and He in us, we experience His perfect love. That perfect and complete love casts out all doubt, all hate, and all fear. We’ll deal with the “fear has to do with punishment” another time. Suffice it to say that we have no reason to fear God or punishment.

I hope that these posts on the Trinity have given some insight into the relationship between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, Three-in-One. We are constantly in their presence; pretty neat, huh?

Abba, because You are in me (my heart and mind), I trust You. You say to love, therefore I make up my mind to love. As for feeling that love, I ask for Your compassion. When I see people through Your eyes, I feel the love You have for them, and that’s what I want. Help me to love, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 22 10-22-21

Sitting in with me sitting in with the Father…

9 The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.

I love the Word of God. I use the Bible as my means of “transport” (if you will) to His presence. I use this metaphoric phrase to convey the concept of turning my attention to the Father. I am really in His presence all the time, even at His throne in the kingdom of God, but I am also here on earth in a physical body. The kingdom is in my heart while also in another realm, one that is beyond this three-dimensional time and space. The Bible helps me understand this realm and gives me handles on how to access it.

The Holy Spirit is my Guide in this life who leads me as I walk in two realms. Each morning, I begin my day with prayer and study. I now invite you to come along with me on a typical morning.

I begin with Psalm 139:23-24,

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

In this passage, I turn to the Father in my mind and open myself up to Him. Jesus’ love pours over me and the Spirit makes His presence known to me.

I then move to Psalm 73:23-24,

23 Yet I am always with you; 
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel, 

and afterward you will take me into glory.

These four things set my frame of mind for the day. They give me my comfort, my encouragement, and my goal.

25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

These two verses are my praise! Once again, I am reminded of Who is with me and where we are going.

The next passage sets my attitude for the day,

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6

  1. “Outsiders” are those who do not know Christ personally and are not part of His Body, the Church.
  2. I am to look for ways to be kind and generous to them. I may even get to say an encouraging word. Who knows, I may even get to talk to them about the Lord!
  3. In any event, whether the lost or the saved, I am to treat everyone with the kindness and gentleness of Christ. The grace that has been extended to me is meant to share.
  4. I love the “seasoned with salt.” I take it two ways: one is to speak knowledge into peoples’ lives, and the other is using humor. It endears and it sticks. They’ll remember better, even if it’s just the general feeling of the conversation.

The next part of my regimen has to do with “keeping the main thing the main thing.” We’ll look at that tomorrow.

The purpose of this morning’s post is to give you ideas on how to begin your morning. You may use these Scriptures, or you may certainly use your own. These are just the ones that I am currently using (they change as I change). May we remember that the Bible is our tool for learning about and obeying the Word of God, Jesus Christ. Whatever version you have and whatever tools you use to know Him, He will use them in your life to reveal Himself to you. He is the Treasure in the field, the Pearl of great price (Matthew 13:44-46).

Abba, I pray for my readers today that they would sit down with You and get to know You. The Bible is the best place to start–may we remember that You are beyond words on a page; they can never articulate to us who You really are. We learn who You are by conversing with You. Our obedience flows from our trust in You, which is built on our relationship with You. Lord Jesus, may I follow You ever more closely every day. Mr. H (not to be irreverent, but that’s how I think of the Holy Spirit), lead the way. Amen.

Proverbs 22 9-22-21

If there’s a monster out there, it’s not God; it’s us!

10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended [we must kill the mocker in each of us].

Some people think that God is an angry God and that Jesus shields us from Him, that God required blood and violence to appease Him. Not So! The consequences of our sin are natural. In other words, we get what we deserve by creating the very situation that destroys us. God told Adam what would happen if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that he would surely die. Why? Because God was insulted that Adam didn’t believe Him? No. The reason Adam died is because he was not ready to handle temptation; he couldn’t even handle the temptation to eat the forbidden fruit. The result was that Adam–and all mankind–were drawn into the devil’s snare of temptation and became unholy. Look around us: Does anyone (generally speaking) resist temptation anymore? Have they ever in the history of mankind? The best we can do is create a culture that inhibits mankind’s more dastardly tendencies.

Author and pastor Brian Zahnd makes this statement in his book, “At the cross we violently sinned our sins into Jesus, and Jesus absorbed them, died because of them, carried them into death, and rose on the third day to speak the first word of the new world: ‘Peace be with you.’
When I say ‘we’ violently sinned our sins into Jesus, I mean that all of us are more or less implicated by our explicit or tacit support of the systems of violent power that frame our world. These are the very political and religious systems that executed Jesus. At the cross we see where Adam and Eve’s penchant for blame and Cain’s capacity for killing led us–to the murder of God! At Golgotha human sin is seen as utterly sinful. God did not require the death of Jesus–but we did!
So let’s be clear, the cross is not about the appeasement of a monster god. The cross is about the revelation of a merciful God. At the cross we discover a God who would rather die than kill his enemies. The cross is where God in Christ absorbs sin and recycles it into forgiveness. The cross is not what God inflicts upon Christ in order to forgive. The cross is what God endures in Christ as he forgives. Once we understand this, we know what we are seeing when we look at the cross: We are seeing the lengths to which a God of love will go in forgiving sin.”

Jesus is the sin-transmuter, changing the form and nature of sin into that which God uses to make us righteous. Sin no longer destroys us; instead, God uses it to shape us into the image of Christ. Are there consequences, yes, but God even uses the consequences to transform us. Paul says as much in Romans 8:28,

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

So, when someone has trouble comprehending that God is not angry and in need of appeasement, gently explain to them that if anyone’s a monster, it is us. We required the death of God; He willingly laid down His life for us so that we could then be made alive in Him. Here’s how it works:

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

We died in Christ so that those who believe that He is God can be born again, not living for themselves, but for Jesus because of what He has done for us. Simple, right?

Abba, may You reveal to us Your love, the love You were willing to share with us by coming to earth in human form–Jesus–and laying down Your life so that we could have eternal life. Wow! That’s some crazy love, Lord! Teach me how to love like that. I’ll bet it requires letting go of everything in this world. I pray I’m not too stuck in my ways to learn. Amen.

Proverbs 22 8-22-21

“Everyone who calls on [the name of] the Lord will be saved.” The question is, How does one call on the Lord? Let’s look.

12 The eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful. What knowledge?
9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Conclusion: Those who know the LORD are watched over by Him.

The beginning verse is Romans 10:13, which is a quote from Joel 2:32. It is part of the passage the Peter quotes in Acts 2:17-21. To find out what calling on the name of the Lord meant, we have to go back to Genesis 4:26,

26 To Seth also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then people began to call upon the name of the Lord.

There is a footnote to this verse that says that the word for “call” can also be translated as “proclaim.” I looked it up in the lexicon and guess what? It is! What’s the difference? One gives a framework for the other. The best way to describe it is Hebrews 8:11, which quotes Jeremiah 31:34,

34 They will not teach again, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their wrongdoing, and their sin I will no longer remember.”

What was happening was a type of evangelism. Brothers were admonishing and encouraging their brothers to acknowledge Adonai as the LORD of hosts, King of the universe, and to bow down to Him only. Sound familiar? We see the same language used in Exodus 20:3-6, Joshua 23:16, and 2 Kings 17:35. When it comes to Jesus, I believe Thomas had the right idea when Jesus told him to put his finger in his hands and side, “Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:27-28.

Romans 10:4, 8, 9 and 10 spell it out for us:

For Christ is the culmination of the Law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
But what does it [the word of God] say? “The word[s of the Lord are] near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preachingthat if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

What we profess with our mouths must be what is in our hearts. Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 30:14, and the following verses exhort us to “bow the knee,”

14 On the contrary, the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may follow [obey] it. 15 “See, I have placed before you today life and happiness [good], and death and adversity [evil], 16 in that I am commanding [preaching to] you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, so that you may live and become numerous, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to take possession of it.

What is this land that we are entering to take possession of it? None other than the kingdom of heaven! When we call on the name of the Lord for salvation, He enters us and brings His kingdom with Him. Not only that, we are adopted by the Heavenly Father and become co-heirs with Jesus Christ of this very kingdom! See Romans 8:16.-17.

Who WOULDN’T want to be a part of that?! Well, evidently, there are a lot of people who simply will not bow the knee–right now. We have it on good authority that “at the name of Jesus EVERY knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11.

Abba, thank You that You have saved me by the confession of my mouth concerning what is in my heart. I bow my knee to You, my Lord and my God, my King and my Messiah. Thank You that today I get to worship You in Spirit and in truth with my fellow believers. May we all bow our hearts even as we bow our heads in prayer to You today. Amen.

Proverbs 22 7-22-21

If we obey Christ to get rewarded in this life, then we have missed the point of the Kingdom of heaven. It’s not of this world, remember?

9 The generous will themselves be blessed [with all spiritual blessings], for they share their food [and anything else] with the poor [those in need].

As we continue our journey through chapter 14 of Romans, Paul explains that our entire lives are to be spent in service to the Lord. HE determines when our time here on this earth is done–as well as all the in-betweens.

For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

We answer to Christ for our decisions. Whether we live or die, we belong to Christ. Everyone dies eventually, so it all comes down to obedience; let’s not worry about what kills us, rather that we are doing the Lord’s work when our time comes. If you are counting on “The Rapture,” you might take a look at the past several generations. What you will find is that many thought that their generation was going to be the ONE, even back to the 1840’s. When I was young, Henry Kissinger was supposed to be the antichrist! A quick look at history going all the way back to Pentecost will show you that it has been a LOT worse than it is now. We are to interpret Scripture with Scripture, not a newspaper. Are there markers that Jesus may return soon? Absolutely. But, rather than taking all the Christians out, He may be gearing up for a world-wide revival! We simply don’t know, so let’s hope for His Return, but prepare for the fact that it may not be in our generation. In other words, let’s get busy doing the Lord’s work, shall we?

Paul writes in Colossians 3:23-24,

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

In Ephesians 6:7-8, he said,

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

And, in all things, do it with the Spirit, in the Spirit. He wants our fellowship; it’s not as if He needs us to do anything or Him.

Abba, we know You are returning someday. I pray it will be soon. In the meantime, I want to be working, doing Your will. In fact, I want to be “caught in the act” by Your return. May it be a surprise and an interruption to ministry–or, a completion of it. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 22 6-22-21

Why do we need Jesus? It’s the question of the ages. Here’s the scoop.

3 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

I can think of three reasons why we need Jesus. They are:

  1. God is our Creator and He desires a personal relationship with us.
  2. Satan wants to kill us and has blinded us to the truth about God.
  3. We are in rebellion against God, and to continue to live in our rebellion will eventually destroy us–both on this earth and in eternity.

Picture yourself as a soldier in the army. One day, a civilian comes up to you and begins to tell you about the “enemy,” that He’s not really our enemy and that His side is the right side. It sounds like treason, but something inside you urges you to believe this civilian. In your bed that night, you realize that what he told you is true–you are on the wrong side of the war! The next day, you seek out the civilian and ask what to do. He has you wait right there while he goes and gets Someone. When he comes back, he introduces you to your Guide (the Holy Spirit). He will be the One to lead you out of enemy territory and to safety.

Along the way, the Guide prepares you for your new home. He asks you to do certain things. Would you:

  1. Change out of your old uniform into the clothes He has for you (Romans 13:14, Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10, Revelation 21:2)?
  2. Change your old soldier’s vocabulary for a new way of talking (Ephesians 4:29, 5:4)?
  3. Stay away from places that pull you back toward the other side (Proverbs 22:5)?
  4. Read any material about your new home and family (Colossians 3:16)?
  5. Trust whoever He tells you to trust (Ephesians 4:11-12)?
  6. Practice whatever He teaches you (Philippians 4:8-9)?
  7. Share with others about this new home of yours Matthew 10:8, 28:19-20*?

This story pretty much describes us. Now, the question is, will you trust Him to guide you home to the Father in heaven? Do you really believe that this story is ours? that He will ask us to do “certain things?” I hope so.

Abba, You are my Guide as I sojourn through this foreign land. I no longer belong to the enemy, but to You. I am Your child. Thank You for the Holy Spirit of Jesus in me to lead me home. I trust You in all of these “certain things.” Amen.

Then, at last, when on high He sees us, our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus end at His throne.
Footsteps of Jesus that make the pathway glow,
We will follow the steps of Jesus where’er they go.

*“Therefore, GO.” The word simply means, “to go.” The implication is that as we go, we go with the intention of making disciples. The “of all nations” is both a call to go to all nations as God leads each individual and to not neglect anyone regardless of what nation he is from. We must remember that many people were in Jerusalem for the coming Pentecost celebration. In fact, there is a list in Acts 2:9-11. Jesus was including all nations in His commission. Where did the disciples go after hearing this commission? Back to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4). After that, it was for every person to return to his homeland taking the Gospel with them (Acts 8:1). Eventually, all Christians left Jerusalem and took the Gospel with them. In fact, we are Christians today because others were faithful to make disciples “as they went.”

Proverbs 22 5-22-21

To not walk with Jesus everyday through everything is to miss the best part of our salvation. He wants us to trust Him for more than heaven; He wants us to trust Him with our lives.

3 The prudent see danger [in taking control and doing things our way] and take refuge [in the LORD by calling on Him to protect us and lead us], but the simple [those who don’t know any better] keep going and pay the penalty.

Zechariah 4:6 tells us, “‘Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD.” Let’s rephrase it for clarity, “Not by our might or power, but quite the opposite; it’s either by His Spirit or it’s of our flesh–or worse, the evil one! We respond to the prompting and empowering of the Holy Spirit. Period.

What does that look like?

1. He will always build us up; He will never tear us down;

1. He is always specific and never vague;

3. He convicts but never condemns or shames;

4. His conviction always includes solutions and encouragement;

Everything–all of our thoughts, every action we are about to take–must be run through the filter of the Holy Spirit. Before we do anything, even while we are considering something, we must be asking the Holy Spirit (Jesus) about it. He will guide us through EVERY decision, every thought process, and every action if we will only allow Him to guide us. It’s not that Jesus is a control freak; it’s because He loves us. WE are the simple ones in verse 3! He is the wise One who knows the best route through the mine field of life. We must learn to trust Him. The good thing is that the more we do, the more trustworthy He is.

We owe Him everything. Without Him, we would still be dead in our sins, lost and going to hell. Now, we have a personal relationship with our heavenly Father, and a continuing relationship with the Son who has taken up residence in our hearts–can you believe it?! He is worthy. He is trustworthy. He is deserving of our worship, our very lives. Let’s give them to Him!

Abba, I give You my life today. You are my All in All. I cannot trust anything in this world to make me happy, keep me safe, give me health, or that offers me eternal security. All I have is You–and that’s plenty! Much more than I deserve. Thank You for loving me and for going to such extremes for me to be Yours. I love You. Let’s do life together. Amen.

P.S. I am looking forward to the day when You turn to me as You did Enoch and say, “Hey, it’s closer to My house than yours; let’s go to Mine.”

Proverbs 22 4-22-21

We need daily and weekly reminders in order to keep the main thing the main thing. Becoming like Christ is a process.

1 A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Our good name is based upon our daily walk with Jesus. In order to walk close to Him, we need to constantly be reading and re-reading our “manual,” the Bible. For instance, each morning, I begin my prayer time with Psalm 139:23-24,

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

It reminds me that I need Him. He is my reason for even having a quiet time in the first place.

Another passage I read every day is Psalm 73:23-26,

23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

This passage reminds me for my whole reason for living. It takes me from NOW to eternity. My perspective is refreshed; it’s just like hitting the “refresh” button on my computer.

This next passage is one I read weekly, and this morning I read it. It’s an important one,

James 1:19-21 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life 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.

Here’s what we are reminded to do:

1. We have two ears but only one mouth; use them accordingly.

2. Our human anger gets in the way; try to eliminate it.

3. We have moral filth and evil all around us and even inside of us; get rid of it and avoid it as much as possible.

4. God’s Word is planted in our hearts. Water it and allow it to grow like a mustard seed in the garden of your life.

5. His Word will protect us from evil and moral filth, keep us from allowing our anger to get in the way, and teach/train us to listen much more than we speak, especially concerning airing our own opinions.

“May the word of Christ dwell in you richly” today as we meditate and implement those words.

Abba, I love Your Word. It’s more than just ink on a page; it’s Your love letter to us! May I love it all the more and allow You to work in my life as I hide it in my heart. Amen.

Proverbs 22 3-22-21

We must drive out the mocker from within ourselves; if not, then we will be driven out (removed from the situation).

22 Drive out the mocker [one who gets angry, caustic, or contemptuous], and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.

Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem on a young donkey and then drove the moneychangers and sellers out of the temple. Why the big deal? Let’s find out!

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” [Zechariah 9:9]
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!” [“save us”
Psalm 118:25]
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” [Psalm 118:26]
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Jesus was announcing His kingship by riding into Jerusalem on a young donkey thus fulfilling the prophecy. The crowds and children were quoting from the Messianic Psalm 118. Everyone knew that Jesus was proclaiming to be the Messiah.

If we read all four Gospels, we find that Jesus went to the temple area and saw what was going on. He then went to Bethany for the night (Mark 11:11), and then came back the next day and cleared the temple of moneychangers and animal vendors. This was not the first time that Jesus cleared the temple; the first time, He made a whip of cords and drove them out (John 2:13-17). Why was it so important for the temple area to be cleared? The answer is in Jesus’ quote, but let’s include the rest of the verse:

“these I will bring to my holy mountain
    and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
    a house of prayer for all nations
.” Isaiah 56:7

The religious leaders had set up a marketplace in the court of the Gentiles, which is the outer area, and were requiring the people to purchase their lambs instead of the ones they brought, and were exchanging their money for temple money at an inflated price. They not only had effectively crowded out the Gentile worshipers, they were cheating everyone who had come to worship! Jesus was restoring everyone’s right to worship, and restoring to the Gentiles their rightful place at God’s banquet table. He did this through His death, burial and resurrection, and the invitation to Cornelius and then the Roman World through Paul and others. In doing so, He fulfilled the Abrahamic Covenant established in Genesis 12:3. It was a BIG DEAL!

If Jesus hadn’t given the religious leaders enough reason to kill Him, they surely had it now! Jesus was confronting their greed and lust for power. The HAD to kill Him if they were going to keep things they way they liked them,

47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our [position in the] temple and our nation.”
John 11:47-48

Jesus was all about restoring God’s people to Himself, which includes Jews and Gentiles. He said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth [crucified], will draw all people to Myself” John 12:32.

Let’s praise the LORD for His marvelous salvation! Let’s worship our Great God and Savior for His wondrous love! Let’s be thankful and bless His name! Let’s give Him our lives as our offering to His greatness.

Abba, blessed be Your name! Thank You for Your wondrous plan to bring to Yourself all who will come. Thank You for giving us the privilege of being a part of Your family. We owe You everything. May we serve You with everything we have and everything we are. Amen.

Proverbs 22 2-22-21

If prayer is our connection to God, then we should place great emphasis on it. We learn His will for our lives by asking.

11 One who loves [has]a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king [the Heavenly Father] for a friend.

This week, we will be looking at prayer, what it means, and how to use it. Robin and I made brainstorm pages concerning prayer and what we have learned through our years of study and experience. Let’s begin with a few encouraging Scriptures:

I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. 1 Timothy 2:8

They (the fellowship of believers) devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42

When they heard this [Peter and John’s report], they [the other apostles and disciples] raised their voices together in prayer to God…31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. Acts 4:24, 31

The Purpose of Prayer

Kelly: There is a unity of spirit when we come together in Jesus’ name.

  • We seek His face;
  • We conform to His ideal (commands);
  • We reconcile (peace between brothers and sisters);
  • We sense a oneness in Christ that can only be experienced by Christians who are unified in spirit and praying in the Spirit.

Robin: Why do we pray?

  • To connect with and align our “will” with God’s perfect will;
  • To ask for wisdom, discernment, knowledge, guidance, motivation, strength…to be equipped for whatever God has for us;
  • To ask on behalf of others for them to connect with and align their “wills” with God’s perfect will;
  • To recognize and submit to God’s sovereign authority and confess our trust in Him with words of praise and thanksgiving!

We read God’s Word to hear Him speak; we pray to God in response to His initiation of a relationship with us. Many times while we are praying, we get a nudge or an urge to do something. Rather than dismiss it or be afraid of it, step out in faith and see if the “door” remains open as you labor to be obedient. If the door closes, simply consider it a closed door and thank God for speaking to you. If the door remains open and you step through it, be ready for an adventure with the Spirit! Small acts of obedience will lead to great acts of faith and kingdom work. Are you wondering where I got such a crazy idea? Here it is:

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:2-3 Thus began the first Missionary Journey of Paul.

Tomorrow, we will look at “believing,” and more from Robin’s and my Brainstorm Pages.

Abba, each time I pray, I must remember that You initiated this conversation. Your Spirit urges me to pray, to open up a dialogue with You. You really are right there in my mind! All I have to do is turn around mentally and there you are! One of my favorite verses is Isaiah, 30:21, “and I will hear a voice behind me [right over my shoulder] saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.'” Lord, may I always hear Your voice and heed Your voice. Amen.

Proverbs 22 1-22-21

Is your light shining for Christ? It’s not about our words; it’s about our lives. Is He your Lord? Your King? Your Master?

1 A good name [to bear His name] is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed [by Christ and by others as a follower of Christ] is better than silver or gold.

Yesterday, we discovered that Jesus moved the temple (His earthly dwelling place) from Jerusalem to the hearts of His disciples. Then, He made a whole bunch of disciples–an estimated 3,000. Over the next few days, several more thousand came to be “mobile temples” (see Acts 2:41, 47 and 4:4). The Spirit of God expanded His temple again with the salvation of Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:44-46), thus signifying that the Gentiles were now included in God’s salvation and family. The LIGHT of Christ was going out unto all the world–Finally! You may ask, “What do you mean, finally?” The job of sharing the light of God to the world was first given to the Jews, but they ignored their assignment. When Jesus came, the leaders of that day didn’t recognize Him because their culture had taught them that they were special to God, and they had become exclusive. Let’s look at some passages:

See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” Deuteronomy 4:5-6

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. Isaiah 42:6-7

[The LORD] says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6

Jesus came to fulfill these verses. Simeon prophesied about it when Jesus was presented at the temple:

28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:28-32

Jesus was both a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of God’s people Israel. He was the fulfillment of all the prophecies concerning the Messiah. Jesus has given us the same assignment:

14 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl [as the Jews did]. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore [as you] go [being a light to the Gentiles] and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

Israel began in one man, Abraham, and became a nation under one man, Moses; it became great under David, and was the vehicle for the Savior of the world, Jesus. The congregation begun under Moses continues to this day and will continue until He returns. We have this promise:

18 For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. Ephesians 2:18-22

The continuity of God’s plan is wondrous! We can now use this foundational teaching to help us interpret many difficult passages of Scripture, many of which we may tackle in the future.

Abba, thank You for the truth of Your Plan. Thank You for including me in Your plan! I have been grafted in to the Vine of Christ; may I stay “hooked up,” feeding on the truth of Your Word. Draw us to Yourself even as You build us up into Your glorious temple. Amen.

Proverbs 22 12-22-20

Today’s Proverbs is a mash-up of Robin’s post to her Bible Study group and my own Christmas trivia. Hope you enjoy!

9 The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor [Robin shared her “food” with me; I, in turn, am sharing it with you; we’re all beggars sharing His bread with each other].

NOTE: I included the links for convenience. I hope you will click on them and read them–or, better yet, read them from your own Bible!


  • If you haven’t read “The Christmas Story” in chronological order, I highly recommend it.
  • Here’s how: Luke 1:5-80Matt 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-39Matt 2:1-23.   
  • Fun notes: Zachariah’s name means “God has remembered” and Elizabeth means “His oath”.
  • Elizabeth confirms to Mary she is indeed pregnant when not enough time has passed for Mary to have evidence of this.
  • Gabriel tells Mary what is about to happen. Joseph is told why.
  • The Greek word for host really means “armies”.  The shepherds saw a literal army of angels wielding their mighty weapons of praise on this most important of nights! 
  • Remember praise is our mighty weapon too as we fight the war over our thoughts during these unprecedented times. Replace anxiety, despair, worry and fear with praise and and thanksgiving. Spend time WITH the One who loves you more than you can comprehend and receive that “peace that passes understanding” (Phil 4:4-8). He came as Emmanuel meaning “God with us” so remain in Him that your joy may be complete (John 15:5-11). Choose to rejoice WITH Him in this day He has made (Ps 118:24)! Merry Christmas y’all!


  • Luke’s account of the Christmas story began with the last verses of the Old Testament (Malachi 4:5-6 and Luke 1:17).
  • Luke had access to Mary, which is why his account is so detailed.
  • There are six accounts of barrenness to whom important children are born to that couple. Can you guess who they are? Genesis 15:2-5, 25:21, 29:31, Judges 13:2, 1 Samuel 1:5, Luke 1:7.
  • An angel of the Lord appeared a total of five times in the Christmas Event (through the flight to Egypt): once by name (Gabriel) to Zechariah, once by name (Gabriel) to Mary, and four times to Joseph (in dreams).

Of course, nothing in God’s Word is trivial. Jesus said, “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” Matthew 5:18. The more we know of the Word of God, the more we become excited about His promises, the more easily we can discern His voice, and the more handles we have for living this life for Him. Let’s get into His Word this week and let it continue into next year.

Abba, thank You for such a godly wife who KNOWS HER BIBLE! We bounce stuff off each other all the time. In fact, You know that many aspects of my Proverbs have been “Robin approved” before they go out. She just has a knack for knowing just how to say things–or how NOT to say things. May we all read again the account of Your Advent with excitement and anticipation; may You give us fresh excitement about sharing the wonderful news of Your Coming and why You came. Thank You for coming to us for us. I am eternally grateful. Amen.


Proverbs 22 11-22-20

Everything we hold dear to us acts as a filter between us and the LORD. He is the GIVER of all things. We must trust Him.

2 Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all.

The apostle Paul understood what it meant to have nothing between him and Christ. Once he met the Savior on the road to Damascus, he was all about Jesus and His mission. His relationship with our LORD is no different than ours–if we are willing to give up everything for Him and to Him. Daily. Hourly. Continuously. Even life itself. Here are Paul’s own words:

22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:22-24

Walking with Christ gave Paul a new perspective on life. He realized that Christ is LORD and King, that there is life beyond death, in fact, that it’s more real than this world! Ted Dekker, in his book, “Hacker,” page 268 says,

“…death isn’t death. It’s not the end because we aren’t just our minds or our bodies. We’re far more than just physical beings having a spiritual experience. We’re spiritual beings having a temporary physical experience.”

Paul understood that the kingdom of heaven began within him and joined him to a much larger kingdom that is far grander than we can conceive or experience while here on this earth in these physical bodies. It is what gave him courage in the face of such great trials and tribulations. Hear him again:

12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” Acts 21:12-14

We know that Paul did not die in Jerusalem; he went on to Rome and was beheaded by Nero, but not until he had several years to witness and to write. We are beneficiaries of these years and his writings.

What is so important in your life that keeps you from focusing on Christ? Security? Health? Wealth? Family? These are all gifts from God to us. So many in the world do not have these. Allowing God to have control of our security, health, wealth, and even our family is a great step toward spiritual maturity. Understanding that there is much more to us than what we know in this life allows us to let go.


Letting go; Surrender

Abba, this morning I am letting go of everything and everyone in my life so that You can be my One and Only focus. I trust You with everything, even my very life. May the words to this song be my motto:

I’m Yours, Lord, everything I’ve Got,
Everything I am; everything I’m not.
I’m Yours, Lord, try me now and see,
See if I can be completely Yours.