Proverbs 22 7-22-20

Fear is a great motivator–if used correctly. It’s why we fear the LORD above anything else.

Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.
“Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear. Luke 12:4

Continuing:
Chaste- Virtuous, undefiled, stainless, kept.
Thoughts lead to actions. God says for us to guard our hearts.
Thoughts, hearts/feelings, actions–they’re all connected!

There are quite a few areas in which we humans are susceptible to sin: Entitlement, Lust, Pride, Vanity, Impatience, Selfishness, Sloth, Anger, Spite, Rage, Hate, Gluttony, and Fear, to name a few. Yesterday, we looked at Gluttony. The last one we will cover is Fear.

Fear- We serve Who or what we fear the most. If forced to make a decision, we will choose that which we fear every time. In the case of heroes, they fear someone else getting hurt over the fear for their own lives. It’s why firemen rush into burning buildings, policemen stand in the way of evil, and soldiers fight for liberty and justice for all.

In  the case of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ, His followers fear the price for our sin being paid for nothing, the cross of Christ borne in vain. In our lives, we fear not the LORD’s wrath, for we have been saved from it. What we learn to fear is this: Not living up to the name we have been given, the family name of God Himself. More than money, more than security, more than success or power or health or long life, we want to live for Him, stand for Him, and, if He asks us, die for Him. KNOW THIS: If it ever comes to that, He walks the veil with us. Beth Moore puts it like this: “Sometimes He delivers us by the fire straight into the arms of Jesus! Our faith is finished (perfected).” With this knowledge, we no longer fear what can happen to these bodies of ours, to our loved ones, even to our nation–or the entire world! We know that God’s got this and us, and we literally have nothing to truly fear. We will always have feelings, but we know better than to trust our feelings. We trust our faith, which is believing what Jesus has told us about Himself, His Plan, and what He has in store for us.

We could spend all day talking about His Plan and what he has in store for us, so suffice it to say that He will in our daily Bible readings reveal His plan to us and confirm it by His Spirit within us. Really, we only need to know one verse about fear, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7.

  1. God gave us His Spirit.
  2. His Spirit brings peace, not fear.
  3. His Spirit gives us both the desire and the power to do what God asks us to do. We love God, therefore, we obey Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Our self-control is really His control in and over us. We willingly submit to His Spirit; it’s the only way to be truly free and to truly know our Savior.

Today, let’s put all our eggs in His basket. Let’s place all our money–our very lives on Him. Our goal must not be to live long and happy lives–that’s the world’s goal. Our goal is to be pleasing to the Father regardless of any hardships, any conflicts, and any suffering we do on this earth. IT’S NOT OUR HOME! Let’s act like it’s not, okay?

Abba, may we take very seriously the commitment we have made to You to love You, to serve You, and to follow You wherever You lead. In the words of Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68). Lead us today, LORD Jesus, and we will follow. Amen.

Proverbs 22 6-22-20

Everything we think, say, and do must be scrutinized to bring everything into alignment with His will.

11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.

Do we desire to have a pure heart? Do we use our words to bless others? If we do, then we are pleasing to King Jesus. In a sense, we are always pleasing to Him, but our lives should be reflecting our relationship with Him. King David was a man after God’s own heart and here is what he said,

Teach me your way, Lord, that I may walk in your truth and rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. Psalm 86:11

David had the same problem we have in that he had the desire to follow the Lord and to be righteous and holy, but couldn’t maintain it. We have the Holy Spirit within us and we STILL can’t maintain it! Here is his prayer after his debacle with Bathsheba:

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

Let’s break it down:

  1. Only God can create a pure and clean heart within us. What we need is a steadfast spirit, one that is determined to be righteous and holy and live for Him. He will empower us if we ask Him and demonstrate a steadfast spirit.
  2. We have His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We don’t have to worry about our relationship with Him. We DO need to be concerned with our fellowship with Him. Let’s not ignore Him and pretend He doesn’t hear or see–or isn’t there! That’s childish.
  3. We need for Him to restore our joy and to grant us a willing spirit. We cannot generate these attributes on our own. Many times, it’s a moment-by-moment situation. KEEP ASKING!
  4. The goal for each of us should be to pass along what we know and have learned to others. Let’s be looking for opportunities to share what God has taught us. He will bring people into our lives and across our paths and prompt us to give a word of exhortation, a nugget of knowledge, a bit of wisdom, or an illustration of something we have learned as we walk with Christ daily. Be on the look-out!

Let’s let Jesus into every part of our lives. There is so much that we consider just normal life that has its roots in the world. We MUST get better at discerning what is holy and what is unholy. Jesus can help us with that. In fact, He’s the ONLY ONE who can!

Abba, I start afresh and anew in You today. You renew me daily–and I am so glad! I ask for an undivided heart, O LORD. May I walk in Your truth as we walk together. Amen.

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.

Proverbs 22 10-22-19

What is the foundation on which we build our lives? Is it rock or sand?

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

In 2005, a poll was conducted by Barna, a reputable and thorough Christian polling company, of the number of children who were raised in Christian homes who quit following the Lord after one year at college. The number was an alarming 80%. It’s even worse now!

What happened? There was/is something wrong with their foundation. At first glance, one might say that their knowledge base was wrong, and to an extent, this is true. Unless a young person is grounded in the SCIENCE of a young earth and the Great Flood, he will have a difficult time enduring and succeeding in keeping his faith in today’s VERY secular college world. Many professors will blatantly tell the students that their goal is to make them into evolutionists by destroying the platform of their faith, and these professors are very good at it. We MUST do a better job of equipping our students with information that will give them the foundation to stand firm against such onslaughts. But, this topic is for another time.

The bedrock foundation for every Christian is the love of God. HE loves us, and HE desires a relationship with us. HE takes up residence in our hearts and lives, and HE speaks to us constantly. It is HIS voice that wakes us up each day, HIS voice that guides us during the day, and HIS voice that quiets our souls to go to sleep at night.

My son [child], do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son [child] he delights in. Proverbs 3:11-12.

Just before Moses died, he gave a great sermon. It is the book of Deuteronomy. In it, we find some real gems:

However, the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loves you. Deut. 23:5

Surely it is you [LORD] who love the people; all the holy ones are in your hand. At your feet they all bow down, and from you receive instruction,” Deut. 33:3

[Moses gave a blessing to each of the tribes] About Benjamin he said: “Let the [My] beloved of the LORD [an intimate term of endearment] rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders [as a lamb rests on the shoulders of his shepherd].” Deut. 33:12

These were the children of the arrogant, ignorant, stiff-necked people that God led out of Egypt and called them His own children. This generation’s foundation was built on the Word of God given to them by God Himself, led by God Himself in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, who fed them Himself with manna from heaven, and spoke to them through Moses in the tent of meeting. They walked with God. They had experience on their side.

The question is, have we taught our children to walk with God? It’s not about the rules; it’s about the relationship. It’s not about what other people think about us, i.e. our reputation, nor is it about what embarrasses us (again, our reputation). Do we encourage them to ask God what to do? How to respond? In what to invest their time, money, talents, and relationships? I’m not talking about independence. I’m talking about interdependence, where we teach them to transfer their dependence from us to Him. We, as Christians, are never to be independent.

Because God loves us and desires an intimate relationship with us, He made it happen through Jesus so that His Spirit can now live in our hearts. Once we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, He takes up residence within us and begins a life-long process of sanctification: Becoming like Jesus. We feel His love all the time: Happy love, sad love, joyful love, warning love, quieting love, encouraging love, etc. We learn the language of His love through His Word, the Bible. It is His love letter to us.

Let’s make it a point today to read His love letters and look for the ways He expresses His love to us. Let’s listen for His voice as we go through our day, and obey Him in everything. It’s all about the relationship. As we demonstrate to our children and the people around us what an authentic relationship with Jesus is all about, we can teach them to have one, too. Then, when our children go to college, they have Him with them to help them overcome the lies and deceptions and traps that have been set for them by the enemy.

Abba, I love to hear Your voice speaking to me. It is what I live for. I can endure all things because I KNOW that You have my life in Your hands. I want to be a useful vessel for You. You are the Potter, and I am the clay. Mold me and make me into Your image, O Blessed Father. Thank You, Jesus, for making it happen. Thank You, Spirit, for living in me. Let’s GO! Amen.

 

 

Proverbs 22 9-22-19

With great power comes great responsibility. Why? Because we answer to God for how we treat each other.

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

In Ezekiel 34, The LORD is chastising the leadership of Israel for taking advantage of the people. They were using their power for themselves rather than for the people. The LORD said,

“I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.” Ezekiel 34:16

This verse is much like a passage in Isaiah 61, one that Jesus quotes as He began His ministry:

14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. 16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to [bind up the brokenhearted], to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

If it is Jesus who does the gathering, then this passage does NOT pertain to the Dispersion when the Jews came back to Jerusalem after being in captivity, but to the lost sheep of the world–Jews and Gentiles alike. The Lord continues: in Ezekiel 34:

23 I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. 24 I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.

In chapter 37, the Lord uses sticks to represent the uniting of Judah and the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel (which hasn’t happened, yet). He says,

24 “‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees.'”

Whether king or prince (the terms are interchangeable), it is clear that David himself will rule with Christ in the Millennial kingdom. Jeremiah 30 confirms this fact:

Instead, they will serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. Jeremiah 30:9

The most interesting thing to me is the word play that Jesus used concerning the passage in Psalm 110,

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
    under your feet.”’

45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

We know that Jesus is a descendant of David both on Mary’s side and Joseph’s side. Jesus was claiming to be above David. If He had wanted, He could have quoted the Scriptures in Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel about David ruling with Him in Jerusalem in the Millennium! Upon His Second Coming, all things will change. What a future He has prepared for us!

With this future in mind, we prepare for the future, but we don’t hold onto the things of this world very tightly. Let’s be about the Father’s business today, shall we?

Lord Jesus, I worship You today for who You are and for the plans You have for this world and all mankind. May I keep my eyes focused upon You as I go about my daily tasks knowing that You could return any minute and usher in the Millennial kingdom. I look forward to singing with David at Your throne! In the meantime, may I lead the people in Your praise today. Amen.