Proverbs 22 5-22-20

Generally speaking, do you WANT to please the Lord? Are you eager to do what is good? The Spirit within us does!

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

Generous- liberal in giving or sharing; unselfish: free from meanness or smallness of mind or character; magnanimous.

In the Greek- pleasant, agreeable, good.

What we are talking about here is character. Some people are naturally  generous, where others must work at it to become generous. Here’s the catch:

Are we being generous under the leadership of the Holy Spirit?

Bill Gates is generous, but is he being led by the Spirit? If not, then anything he does is wicked because it is done for his glory and not God’s. The same is true in our lives. ANYTHING we do that is not Spirit-led is for our glory. It’s because WE want to. Do you hear it? That self-centered heart? THAT’S the very thing that needs to be replaced–daily–with obedience to Him.

The best way to hear His voice is to practice hearing Him through reading His Word. The Bible is God’s revealed message to us. He thought it important enough to write it down and preserve it for over 3500 years! I reckon that’s pretty important, don’t you? As we read, we get nudges and whispers from the Spirit. Follow them. Write them down and verify them. Scripture validates Scripture. It’s how we keep from “proof-texting,” which means to draw a verse out of context in order to make it mean something it doesn’t for our benefit. There’s that self-centered heart again! We must access our new hearts given to us by God (see Ezekiel 36:26-27), which came with a new Covenant (see Jeremiah 31:31-33). We received it through the grace of God. Paul’s letter to Titus explains:

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14

  1. God’s grace IS the Holy Spirit. Think about it: GOD comes to live in our hearts! WOW!
  2. He teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. How do we know what they are? We read His Word and find out; we ask Him anytime we have a question or doubt about what is being said or is going on; we take our lead from others who are wise and godly–even then, always checking with the Spirit for confirmation and guidance (wise men have been wrong before, and God may have something different in mind for us).
  3. The Spirit teaches us to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives. We are on display before the entire world (or our part of it). We are either beacons that call the lost to the Lord, “the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved,” or we are witnesses whose testimony is used against those who have heard the Gospel and seen it lived out, but rejected it and Him:To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to another, an aroma that brings life (2 Corinthians 2:16).”
  4. Our hope is in His imminent return!
  5. Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us and to purify us. He has entered our hearts and we enjoy sweet fellowship with Him. Out of sheer gratitude, we are eager to do what is good according to the Spirit, right?

Let’s quit messing around, folks. Let’s get serious about living life for Him and with Him. Let’s do the hard thing and “study to show ourselves approved, rightly handling the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).” Let’s seek His counsel at every turn for every decision. Let’s check with Him BEFORE we give an answer. Let’s live by the Spirit and keep in step with Him (Galatians 5:25). Let’s be GENEROUS today!

Abba, keeping You in the forefront of my mind means actively praising You all day long. Anytime I turn my thoughts to You, I immediately begin to thank You for who You are and what You’ve done for me. My feelings automatically change into gratitude; I sense Your love, Your joy and peace, and ofttimes I receive understanding of whatever situation I’m in. Learning to discern Your guidance is what sanctification (becoming like You) is all about. May I “study to show myself approved” by You, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 22 4-22-20

Signs of the times are all around us. What do they mean? Who can we trust? What should we do?

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

If only people would apply this verse to Walmart! But, seriously, folks, we are not out of the woods, yet. Caution is still the word of the day. If anyone is in the high-risk bracket, I would definitely recommend staying in for a few more weeks. The rest of us can begin to mingle some–with some common sense! Wash hands well and often, avoid shaking hands, quit greeting each other with holy kisses, cover sneezes with the crook of our arms, etc.

This verse also tends to apply well to spiritual situations. Avoiding contentious people is a great place to start! In fact, verse 10 tells us what to do, “Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.” Let’s make sure we are not the mockers!

Until Jesus calls us home or comes and gets us, there are some ways to live that would benefit us:

  1. Stay right-side-up in our debt. The best gauge is to be able to live without income for at least three months. As we have seen, we could be called to stay home indefinitely at a moment’s notice.
  2. Stay prayed-up. We were never designed to do things on our own. God created us for fellowship with Him: CONSTANT AND CONTINUOUS fellowship with Him. Jesus provided the way for us! Let’s take advantage of it.
  3. Stay read-up. The Bible is actually a prayer book. Prayer is a two-way conversation. When we read, it’s God talking to us. We respond by talking to God. THAT’S a conversation and good communication.
  4. Stay “fed-up.” A daily dose of the news will do that to a person. Even so, we need to be aware of current events both at home and abroad.
  5. Stay tied-up. Our relational ties are important, especially when it comes to family. Keep those lines of communication open and flowing.

With the volatile market, oil prices in a hole, COVID-19 on the loose, and everyone (the media) talking gloom and doom, we need to make sure our trust is in the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, the King of the universe. We don’t need to be afraid when people cry, “There’s a lion outside! We’ll be killed in the public square!” verse 13. Instead, let’s do what verses 17-19 exhort us to do:

17 Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise;
    apply your heart to what I teach,
18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart
    and have all of them ready on your lips.
19 So that your trust may be in the Lord,
    I teach you today, even you.

Abba, our lives are Yours. Keep us safe when we need to be safe, but make us brave when Your way leads us in dangerous places. Give us faith to trust You in all times and in all situations, knowing that You are just itching to have us with You in heaven. May we all take the attitude of leaving this world in a blaze of glory rather than slipping out unnoticed. It’s all for Your glory, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 3-22-20

Intentional worship. It’s what today is about–it’s what every day is about! Will you intentionally worship the LORD today?

17 Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise;
    apply your heart to what I teach,
18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart
    and have all of them ready on your lips.

God is looking for hearts that are turned toward Him and are tuned to Him. “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9a. Our desire may be borne out of conviction of sin, which leads to salvation and/or repentance! It may be borne out of zeal, which comes from a full heart of gratitude and love. It may be borne out of fear, which is not a bad way to come if we remember to trust in Him and His Plan. It may be borne out of duty, which is obedience. Just remember that serving Him is about the relationship more than the project. He wants us to do it WITH Him, not FOR Him.

Regardless of where we are today: at home, church (for those who are providing online services today), or work, may you “worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness.” Psalm 29:2 and 96:9. Let us praise Him for “He [Jesus] comes to rule/judge all the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in faithfulness.” Psalm 96:13.

The most interesting part of that psalm is the fact that all of nature looks forward to His Coming so that all will be restored to the way things should be. May we get as excited about Jesus coming back as nature does! “Even so, come, LORD Jesus!” Revelation 22:20.

Abba, I praise You today for the way You are working in our world to draw all people back to You. May they respond in repentance; may You gloriously save them! May You draw all Your children to Yourself today as we take our eyes off this world and look to You for life and sustenance. I look forward to worshiping with all my brothers and sisters around Your throne whether it is in heaven where You are now seated or in Jerusalem upon Your Return. Exciting times, LORD! Amen.

Proverbs 22 2-22-20

To be known as a person who is led by the Spirit of God…that should be the quest of every Christian.

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

Consider Moses: Raised in the Egyptian palace, leader of the Israelites, a nation of two million strong. Did he have a right to be proud of his accomplishments? Not at all! In fact, if you were to ask him, he would be appalled for you even thinking such a thing! 40 years on the backside of the desert and then another 40 years leading a rebellious people around that same desert until they all died will humble a person.

(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.) Numbers 12:3

Consider King David: Anointed by God, killed a giant, a great warrior and leader, king of Israel. Cocky? At times. Humble before God? Always! Listen to his heart:

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a [Your] willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.

 

In the Old Testament (OT) days, the Spirit of the LORD came upon a person like a cloak rather than coming inside of each person as He does now (NT). We walk according to the Spirit who lives inside of us:

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. Romans 8:14

Humility comes from having something by which to compare ourselves. When walking with God, we are constantly aware of His Glory. That in itself is enough for us to see ourselves in a true light: we are His creation; we are to glorify Him. Without His Spirit to sustain us, we have neither life nor breath, sight nor hearing, understanding nor reason. HE IS OUR LIFE. 

Are we slaves? Certainly not, but sons! Ladies, YOU have been raised to the level of sonship and now have inheritance rights–Jesus is the Great Liberator! (see Galatians 3:28). We ALL are co-heirs with Christ, who will inherit the UNIVERSE!

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:15-17

36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:36

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea [tempestuous waters].I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. Revelation 21:1-7

Folks, it just doesn’t get any better than that! Let us rejoice in our inheritance even as we patiently endure whatever trials we face in this life.  We all face physical death (“No one gets out of this world alive”) unless the LORD returns, so let’s store up for ourselves treasures in heaven, ones that will endure the fire of His scrutiny (1 Cor. 3:11-15), rather than treasures here on earth, where nothing lasts (Matthew 6:19-21). The catch, the double blessing, is that in our poverty (our choosing life over there rather than life here) we discover true love, joy and peace, hope and grace. These are the true and enduring riches of this world, ones that can only be found in His eternal presence!

Abba, I pray that I would seek you and Your kingdom, because I know that You have the words of eternal life. In a sense, I don’t want to be just like You–I want You to live through me. Even though You are training me as Your son to be just like You, I know that anything good in me is from Your Spirit. I want people to see YOU in me. Come and reign in my heart, O LORD, and shine through me to everyone around. I am Yours. Amen.

 

Proverbs 22 1-22-20

“God is just a breath away.” True statement! Conversational prayer is the best way to get to know the Father.

6 Start [spiritual] children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

When we look at Scripture and see where the LORD had an encounter with mankind, many might recall the Burning Bush experience by Moses, or Noah being told to build an ark. These are great examples of God taking part in mankind’s life. Christians, though, encounter God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah. As Christ-followers, we have the Spirit of Christ living in our hearts. We have His promise to love us and guide us. Let’s take Him up on it!

1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. Luke 21:15

I LOVE this verse! I think it’s my new favorite. I love the fact that He gives me words. I’m reminded of another favorite, Isaiah 30:21, “And you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” HE SPEAKS TO ME! AND YOU!!! The big question is, what does His voice sound like?

There are two Scriptures that come to mind when I try to describe the voice of God:

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a [that] voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

The LORD appeared to Elijah as He did to Abraham (verse 7, Gen. 18), but in this case, Elijah heard the voice of God as a whisper (KJV: “a still, small voice). This event is a precursor as to how we hear Him.

29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29

Jesus is gentle and humble in heart. He prefers to have a gentle and humble conversation with us. How successful He is depends upon how willing we are. Our stubbornness and selfishness tend to get in the way of a decent conversation with Him. Thank Him that He is long-suffering, as well! But, He knew that we are stubborn and selfish from the beginning–and loves us anyway! I think He finds great pleasure in our efforts to overcome these traits. Does that thought give you hope? It does me!

Talking with Jesus throughout the day in conversational prayer does a few things for us:

  1. It keeps us aware of His presence and participation in our lives all the time;
  2. It keeps us focused on where He is leading and what He is saying;
  3. The Bible comes alive to us as He calls things to mind that we have read;
  4. It grows our faith through experience: the very fact that we are experiencing Him, and through many encounters comes confidence as well as experience.

I still find it necessary to have a specific, set-aside, time of prayer with the LORD because I need structure in order to remember. I use prayer cards and a journal to help me remember and to focus my prayers. While reading His Word, I do it with an open mind to hear any comments He might make along the way. If I have another Scripture come to mind, I take it as His lead and look it up. He is the Master at stringing pearls!

May you find what works for You as you and He meet together and walk through the day. If we learn this process early in our walk with Christ, we will find that as we grow older, the song really is true: Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before! And, when we are old, we will not turn from it because it has become our lifeline to Him.

Abba, I love our times together. I have come to guard them jealously! I know You enjoy them, too, which gladdens my heart. May all who read this blog take to heart Your interest in their lives and, with Your guidance, create a time of fellowship and prayer with You. Give them a hunger for Your Word and a thirst to hear from You. Me, too! Amen.

Proverbs 22 12-22-19

Living or dying, we answer to our Lord. Let’s make sure that Lord is Jesus Christ and His Spirit within us!

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

Today is the equinox, the shortest day of the year. It is also the beginning of Hanukkah for the Jews, when God kept the lamps burning in the temple for 8 days until the holy oil could be made (a consecration of the priests, a ritual that took 7 days).

“One Rabbinic tradition says that the Hasmoneans (Maccabees) may have needed eight days to become purified, after being in contact with the dead on the battlefield. Purification consisted of being sprinkled with clean water that had been mixed with the ashes of an unblemished, sacrificial red heifer. The sprinkling would have occurred on days number three and seven, and only the next day could the Hasmoneans, now ritually cleansed, produce a new batch of purified oil. Another explanation, the one heard more often claims simply that it took eight days to obtain olives and crush them into oil.” Why Seven Days?

We Americans celebrate Christmas. Christians celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25; non-Christians celebrate for other reasons. Jews celebrate Hanukkah. What we should keep in mind is what Paul wrote to the Romans:

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.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. Romans 14:5-9

Our lives and even our deaths are to be lived for the Lord. The Spirit works within each of us according to the lives we live. Our culture, our upbringing, and our experiences all play into our faith. God knows all through which we have walked and uses these experiences and our background to BUILD our faith in Him. Verses 10-13 put it all into perspective:

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
    every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b]

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put [or be] any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

Do we have different opinions about Christmas? Sure! Which one is right? If the Bible addresses the issue, then we go with the Bible. If it’s a matter of opinion and custom, then we leave it to each person’s conscience. Paul said,

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

As we worship our LORD today, let us worship with our whole hearts. Let’s not allow anyone to interfere with our focus and our intent to honor Him with our lives–and even our deaths. “Come and magnify the LORD with me; let us magnify His name together, for He is high and lifted up and worthy to be praised! Let us magnify His name together; come and magnify the LORD with me.”

Abba, I love reading about how You worked in the lives of the people of Israel. It gives me hope that You will work–and, indeed, are working–in my life, as well. May You continue to shape my thinking to become Your way of thinking about Christmas and the reason for Your Coming. Praise Your name, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Yeshua Messiah! Amen.

Proverbs 22 11-22-19

As Christians, are we ready for “hard times”? Do we really lean on Him for life and strength? It’s important to know now.

4 Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.

In the Old Testament, it was all about obedience. Their relationship with the LORD was not nearly what God had in mind. People associated worldly blessings of health, riches and long life with God’s blessing. Little did they know that those things are always a means to an end and that each person’s health, riches and life span are determined by several factors, not the least being God’s plan for each person (also included are a person’s willingness and other people’s decisions).

The New Testament, though, is about God coming to live INSIDE each person. We become little mobile temples where God resides! On the day Jesus died–at the very moment He breathed his last– the veil in the temple was torn in two. From all I’ve read, this veil was 30 feet wide and 30 feet tall and about six inches thick. To tear this veil would have taken modern machinery (or a lot of animals yoked together), Yet it was torn from the top to the bottom. The significance of this event is displayed 52 days later at the Feast of Pentecost:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4

  1. This “place” was probably Solomon’s colonnade, which was an area of steps with columns; each place between the columns was called a “room.” This area was to the side of the court of the Gentiles and led to the marketplace. A strategic place for the Holy Spirit to come upon them, yes?
  2. Look at who all were there (1:13-14): The disciples and other men along with the women who went with Jesus and cared for the group’s needs (Mark 15:41). Mary, Jesus’ mother is mentioned as well as Jesus’ brothers (James and Jude and the others).
  3. They ALL were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in someone’s native language (v.6)–women included! The men went to the men’s court while the women went to the women’s court, both of which would be just past the Gentile court, which would have been filled, too. That is, if they even got out of the Gentile court…!
  4. The correlation has been drawn concerning the tongues of fire with the pillar of fire that was above the Israelites in the wilderness. That cloud by day and pillar of fire by night was the presence of God with the Israelites. ALL of them would have gotten the correlation, especially if it formed above them and then split into little flames that came to rest on each of them: 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

The point I would like to make from this event is THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD WAS IN EACH OF THEM. Salvation is NOT a decision we make with our heads; it’s a response to an invitation to come–or, rather, a request to enter. Without the Holy Spirit making Himself known through conviction, and many times a true presence, there is nothing we can do concerning salvation. With conviction comes our own conviction to give ALL to Christ. If left to our own decision, then we could be saved without giving up everything–and that’s what it takes to be saved.

What would happen if, instead of telling someone all the benefits of being saved, we told them how hard it was going to be, but that it is well worth it to have Jesus in them? Then, instead of asking them to pray a prayer, we instructed them to get alone, to fall on their knees and begin to give God everything as each idol, stronghold, and pet sin came to mind? What if we told them to cry out to God for His mercy until they felt Him come in and save them? Indeed, we would have fewer salvations, but the ones we got would be REAL!!! We would know it and they would know it!

I pray you have had an encounter with the LORD Jesus through His Spirit. I pray that You feel His presence in your life and that He talks to you through prayer, His Word, other Christians, and through circumstances. Our constant use and participation in these areas are true evidence of salvation.

Abba, may we take back the kingdom through bold witnessing and by turning up the fire, so to speak, on how a person gets saved. It has been watered down through the past century to the point that culture has crept into Your church. As our world becomes more and more polarized concerning Christianity, I pray that You will call us out as bold ambassadors for You. I look at what you have done in China and ask for that same boldness. I don’t ask for hard times, Abba, but I am ready for them thanks to You. May Your will be done. Amen.