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 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 His empowering look like?

  1. He will always build us up; He will never tear us down;
  2. He is always specific and never vague;
  3. He convicts but never condemns or shames;
  4. His conviction always includes solutions and encouragement;
  5. He NEVER contradicts His Word (although people take it out of context in order to make it say what they want it to say).

Everything–all of our thoughts and 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 guarantees me eternal security. All I have is You–and You are all I need! 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!

Robin’s:

  • 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!

Kelly’s:

  • 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.

2Us4Us

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.

Dedicio

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.

Proverbs 22 10-22-20

Learn to discern. Acting on what we discern is called prudence. Listen to the Spirit!

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

As I said yesterday, this list of spiritual disciplines is not a comprehensive list, but it does comprise a majority of them. It is taken from the website, Twelve Spiritual Disciplines.

  1. Bible Study- 2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
  2. Prayer- Matthew 6:5-15
  3. Fasting- Matthew 6:16-18
  4. Confession- Proverbs 28:13, 1 John 1:9, James 5:16
  5. Worship- 1 Chronicles 16:29, Ephesians 5:18-20 and Matthew 4:10
  6. Fellowship- Acts 2:42, Hebrews 10:24-25
  7. Rest- Matthew 11:28, Mark 6:31
  8. Celebration- Philippians 4:4, Ecclesiastes 5:18-19, 1 Corinthians 10:31
  9. Service- Colossians 3:23-24, Matthew 23:11, Mark 10:45, John 13:15
  10. Generosity- Acts 20:35, 2 Corinthians 9:7, 1 Timothy 6:17-18
  11. Chastity- 1 Corinthians 7:1-5, Acts 15:20, Matthew 5:27-28
  12. Disciple making- Matthew 28:19, Matthew 4:19, Acts 5:42

Rest is something that our society takes to two extremes. Either we run ragged working and playing , or we don’t work at all. Even retirement can be like the second one. God never intended for us to be idle. He always has something for us to do for Him. In the meantime, we need rest at least one day a week. It’s a time of restoration, meditation, worship and family. Be intentional about all of these aspects.

Celebration is a necessity. We mark our lives by them. Birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, graduations, and even deaths are a big deal. God says to celebrate. He even says to rejoice always in our salvation in Him. Let’s have a party!

Generosity is something that is grown. It comes through little acts with occasions of big acts. In fact, the big acts come out of many little acts. It all starts with a generous heart. Are we willing to give of our time, talents, money and resources when God asks? We are supposed to be good stewards by being discerning in any situation, but we lean toward error and allow God to deal with the recipient trusting that He will replace what is given out of the riches of His glory and our inheritance.

Chastity- Society, of course, is going to lead us in the wrong direction about pretty much everything, but particularly in the department of sex. It’s the best place to derail people because it requires investment, and with investment comes misplaced loyalty. Let’s be loyal to our LORD by being chaste: no sex before marriage and then one man with one woman for life. It’s the best and safest way.

Disciple-making is what happens when we dive in daily with the LORD and then get excited about what He’s doing in our lives. Whether it’s sharing things that we learn, gently correcting and guiding through Scripture passages, or even doling out spiritual nuggets at the store, we all can be disciple makers. Whoever God gives us to disciple, let’s be intentional about it. Discipleship is a slow process. It’s more caught than taught. Let’s be good disciples so that we can make good disciples.

ABBA, each of these points are good for us. Help us to ponder them and allow You to lead us in them. DAILY. Forsaking all else, we trust You, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 22 9-22-20

Continuing in Matthew 12, was the account of Jonah real? Or was it just a story? Let’s look!

8 Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken [i.e. Nineveh–unless they repent!].

The first question we should ask is WHY is it important for Jonah’s account to be true? Let’s look at what the LORD Jesus said:

39 But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.

Although, it’s not technically necessary for Jonah’s account to be historical for Jesus’ prophecy to be accurate, the reality of the account of Jonah adds much more weight to it. Also, there are several reasons why I think it is a factual account:

  1. Jonah was a real person. We first learn about him in 2 Kings 14:25, and he was a real prophet during the 8th century BC.
  2. Historically speaking, the book of Jonah was probably written between 300-400 BC as a literary account of Jonah’s miraculous adventure, meaning that not all facts line up with the historical timeline. For instance, there may have been about 100+ years’ difference between Jonah and the time that Nineveh was as grandiose as stated (120,000 population), but archeologists are guessing according to what they have ascertained from digs and the VERY FEW documents from that time. It doesn’t affect the historical validity of the book of Jonah; it happens many times when oral history is written down. The fact that God included it in the canon of His Word should be enough evidence for us.
  3. Jesus gave Jonah’s account great weight in his next statement:

41 “The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent.

The validity is in the context of the next verse, which lists the Queen of Sheba (the South), who was a real person and will do the same thing as the people of Nineveh on the day of judgement (1 kings 10:1-13).

The interesting part of Jonah for me is the fact that he ran away. He headed to Tarshish, which was at the Rock of Gibraltar at the tip of Spain and was the last port before heading out into the Atlantic. He may have been intending to catch a ship from there to parts unknown! But, God had other plans–2500+ miles the other direction! Take a look at these maps for a graphic study of his travels.
Maps of Jonah’s travels

The sign of Jonah that the LORD Jesus gives is the only one He gave to the Israelites–yes, He did many miracles and gave seven signs listed in the book of John, but the ONE to which He was referring was His Resurrection. It’s the sign that changed history and can change the hearts of Israel. The literal “three days and three nights” is what has led me to believe the historical argument that Jesus died on Wednesday, which was Passover Day (and had begun the evening before), the day before Preparation Day, which led to the feast of Unleavened Bread (a high Sabbath day which happened on Friday in March of 30 AD–which leads to a whole other discussion about the actual birthdate of Christ). All of that to say that Christ fulfilled the festivals to the day, and the Passover sacrifice to the hour (3:00). I believe that He will fulfill the Feast of Trumpets the same way with His Second Coming. The feast ended Sunday evening, so I am resetting my sights on next year.

“Next year in Jerusalem!”

I hope you followed me all the way to here. I believe that God put the Bible together for us to know Him better. It’s why I read it, study it, research it, ponder it, memorize it, and pray it every day. Let’s do it together, shall we?

Abba, I want to know You more, better, and as completely as I can on this side of heaven. Then, when I reach that point, TAKE ME TO HEAVEN TO BE WITH YOU! I will spend eternity learning about Your love, Your plan, and Your universe. Amen and amen!

Proverbs 22 8-22-20

As children of the LORD, we must be taught what is good and what is evil. We need the Spirit to teach us.

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

The key to longevity in the Christian life is not just “being a good Christian,” but by deepening our relationship with the LORD. HE is our priority. The more we get to know Him, the more we figure out that we need Him daily–continuously. The fact that we receive His love, His joy, His peace, His direction, His insight and His strength as we walk with Him is what makes believers out of us!

Each Saturday, I pray for every member of my Proverbs Club, whether by text who’s name I know and pray for individually, by following on my website, or by Facebook.

NOTE: If you follow on my website or by Facebook
and would like for me to pray for you by name each Saturday, contact me and I will put your name on my list!

Here is what I pray:

“LORD, I pray for my brothers and sisters in You that they would be categorically committed to You, devoted to Your Way, and convinced (fully persuaded) that You are worth following. May their lives now be simply a shifting and sorting of priorities, a trading of theirs for Yours.”

It’s the “theirs” upon which I want to expound. What do I mean by “theirs”?

  • Life, will, agenda, schedule
  • Desires, goals, pleasures, knowledge
  • Mind, attitude, hopes, dreams, wishes and aspirations
  • Thoughts, truth, reality, worldview
  • Heart, passion, heroes, personality

Has it ever occurred to you that Jesus wants ALL of you? He wants you to turn over each of these and allow Him to recreate His temperament in you. EVERYTHING is based upon Scripture, which is why it is so important for us to read it everyday, study it, talk about it, and apply it to our lives as often as we think about it. He will remind us of what we have read, studied, pondered, and applied as the need arises. The prayer is based upon these verses:

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

20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. Romans 4:20-21

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. Romans 8:18

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies goldthough your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:7

24 “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” –Paul in Acts 20:24

Let’s see…we touched on being led by the Spirit, being fully convinced that Jesus is worth following, that He has amazing things awaiting us, that our faith, while tested, brings much praise and glory and honor to Him, and that our lives here on this earth are worth nothing in light of eternity unless we finish the work assigned to us: Being salt and light to those around us (see Matthew 5:13-16).

May you be encouraged to know that someone is praying for you. Paul urges us to pray for each other as well as “for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would take to heart today’s post. May they take seriously their commitment to You through Christ as He walks with us daily via His Spirit. May they pick up Your Word often and listen to Your voice as they read and as You apply Your message to their lives. Convict us, LORD; may we suffer for Your sake, because we know that “he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.” 1 Peter 4:1. I want to be done with sin; may my readers adopt this same attitude. Make it so, LORD Jesus. Amen.

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.