Proverbs 23 7-23-20

Many Egyptians believed in the God of Moses. But, they didn’t take any proactive steps toward aligning themselves with Him or serving Him. They could have had their families circumcised; they could have gotten rid of their household idols; they could have put blood on their doors, but they didn’t. Therefore, they suffered the same fate as Pharaoh and the unbelieving Egyptians–or did they? Evidently, there WERE Egyptians who “saw the light” and became proselytes of Yahweh–right along with most of the Israelites.

19 Listen, my son, and be wise,
    and set your heart on the right path:

37 And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds. Exodus 12:37-38

Do not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country.The third generation of children born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord. Deuteronomy 23:7-8

It has been postulated that most of the Israelites had been sucked into the Egyptian culture. Israel DID have a penchant for worshiping whatever gods were handy. The problem is that we have the same problem! Our gods are not so obvious, but they are there just the same: Fame, fortune, power, security, health, family name, honor, pride, pleasure, and a host of other ones. The Egyptians had gods that they served, and the gods “gave” the Egyptians license to do whatever they wanted in the name of religion (someone assigned the religious duties and mandates, and we know that “someone” to be Satan), just as the Assyrians did, and the Babylonians did, and the Medes and Persians did, and the Greeks did, and the Romans did, and right on up to today.

Yahweh (the LORD God) has standards that befit His character. He asks us to have that same character. In Old Testament times, the power had to come from the person; in New Testament times, the power comes from WITHIN the person. It’s why Jesus came! God sent His Son to accomplish His will: to pay the price for our sin so that He could have us back. He gives us His Spirit as a deposit, “When you believed, you were marked in him [Christ] with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13

Let’s live our lives according to God’s Word, Christ’s Redemption, and the Spirit’s Leadership. The best way to know God is to seek Him in the pages of His Word. He will reveal Himself to us as we read, ponder, and put into practice.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will “set their hearts on the right path” by learning who You are. May the Scriptures come alive to them as You reveal Yourself to them. “Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us.” Recreate Your character in us so that we will look Just Like Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 23 6-23-20

Have you been reading Proverbs each morning? Have you been reading ANYWHERE in His Word? There are no shortcuts to a close walk with Jesus.

12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to knowledge.
17…always be zealous for the LORD.
19 Listen, my child, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path…
23 Buy the truth and do not sell it–wisdom, instruction and insight, as well [they will always cost you something].

It has come to my attention through the Spirit that my daily posts may be being used as a substitute for a person’s daily time with the LORD in His Word. If anything, I am NOT doing my best to encourage folks to move beyond just a daily quiet time.

The LORD doesn’t just teach us for our own enjoyment. He has plans for us in His kingdom work. We must grow in this direction: Am I available and usable to God for His kingdom work? The emphasis is on our willingness to study His Word daily, to listen for His voice throughout the day, and to apply His truths to our lives. WE MUST BE ZEALOUS! “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

2 Peter 1:3a says it all: His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him.” The rest of that verse and the following five verses are an expansion of this truth.

<read them from your own Bible>

What is that truth? His power works through our knowledge of Him. The more we know of Him, the more power we have with which to work. Lest we think it’s up to us, let us remember Paul’s statement, “For this I toil/struggle/labor, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29).

What is it that Paul struggles so hard to do? 28 “We proclaim Him, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” 

  1. Proclaim- He used the “rhema,” the spoken word, to get the message out. We must, too.
  2. Teaching- We have Paul’s letters that explain the Gospel and how to live it. We also have the Gospels and the actual words of Christ to study.
  3. Present- This goal is for what I am aiming. I have used verses 28 and 29 as my life verses since the beginning of my ministry. Somehow, I drifted away from my goal.

Today, commit yourself to begin a new paradigm wherein you pledge to “study to show yourself approved, a workman who need not be ashamed, who correctly and aptly handles the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).” We need teachers and mentors for the harvest. LET’S GET READY!

Abba, I must make sure that I am following my own advice, “lest after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Keep me diligent; keep me desperate for Your Spirit, Your power, and Your participation in my life. I love You, LORD, and I desperately want You in my life. Amen.

 

Proverbs 23 5-23-20

“Hypocrite” literally means, “two faces.” In church, it’s when we have our “worship face” and then our “daily face.” Are they different? If they are, then we are hypocrites.

10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong; he will take up their case against you.

The ninth commandment is that we shall not give false testimony against our neighbor (Exodus 20:16). In other words, don’t lie. From this verse, we can extrapolate various kinds of falsehood: Dishonest weights and measurements, price gouging at the temple for acceptable sacrifices, and moving ancient boundary stones.

To say we love God and then treat people with disrespect
is being hypocritical.

Solomon warned people to not take advantage of the widow, the fatherless and the foreigner (Proverbs 22:22-23. In fact, God Himself warned the people not to do it Exodus 22:22, Isaiah 56:3-7). It has to do with bearing the name of God. We are to be like Him. He is kind and compassionate, and commands His  “bearers” to be kind and compassionate, too. When people cheat the needy and helpless in any way, God takes it personally.

Want to see a good example? Let’s go to Matthew 15:1-10, 17-20.

1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’[a] and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[b] But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’[c]

Jesus sounds pretty harsh, doesn’t He? All they did was ask a simple question. Ah, but it wasn’t so simple! Jeremiah spells it out in 17:26-27 concerning making sacrifices and then not keeping the Sabbath (doing business as usual), and 33:20 concerning making sacrifices to the LORD and then turning around and offering sacrifices to Baal (19:4-5). They were hypocrites. Jesus was dealing with an age-old problem, one that their ancestors did and now they were doing.

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

Jesus was defining God’s character to them by using contrast. He was sharing what is naturally in a person’s heart. Jesus is not interested so much in ceremonial homage, but in heart worship through obedience. In fact, He wants relationship. It’s why Jesus came! Look at it like this:

God created first the tabernacle (mobile)
and then the temple (stationary)
for people to come to God.

At just the right time in history
(truly a miracle in itself),
Jesus came so that God could come to us.

The Pharisees needed to get beyond their own self-righteousness through ceremony and obedience to the law and get to trusting Jesus for forgiveness of sin and for grace. Some did, too! There is Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimethea, and many others in the priesthood (Acts 6:7).

Let’s be about learning our heavenly Father’s character and adopting it as our own. The Holy Spirit is all over a decision like this! We begin by reading His Word. I heard a testimony on “I Met Messiah.com” that said something to this effect, “I don’t hear God so much when I am reading as I do between my readings. I ask Him a question, then I read. After I’ve read and I go about my day, He calls to mind what I’ve read at just the right time for me to apply it, or I realize what a passage means as I think about it over time. It’s amazing!” Try it; you’ll like it.

Abba, getting those “aha!” moments where I understand what I’ve been reading, or You pop into my head wisdom and discernment makes my day–my life! I live for those moments because I sense they are from You. May I be open to Your speaking to me and place myself in the best position I can to hear you, which is being discerning and obedient. I want to learn all I can of You, LORD. Teach me. Amen.

Proverbs 23 4-23-20

Living for the moment vs. living for Jesus IN the moment. Which one describes you?

12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.

19 Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path:

26 My son [child], give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways,

These exhortations call us to look to Jesus for instruction and knowledge, for the right path, and to give Him our hearts and eyes. Why our eyes? The eyes are the window to our souls. It’s through what we see that pride, greed, avarice, lust, jealousy, envy, and many times fear enter our hearts and fill our vision so that they are all we can see. When we are looking at those, we cannot see the face of Christ.

My grandson, Jake, who is just like me, can get pretty focused/fixated on a subject. In order to get his attention, I must get him to look me in the eye–even then, it’s a 50/50 chance I have his full attention! The tv is the worst offender, but anything he is really into (he loves to build stuff with legos, blocks, electronics, etc.) can keep him from comprehending anything I say to him. I probably sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher: “Wah, wah, wah.”

Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6:22-23. This passage is followed by a descriptor that helps us put it into perspective:

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 

In other words, we tend to love what we look at. Ever taken a small child to the store? They want EVERYTHING! They think they will surely die if they don’t get whatever it is they saw at that moment. Folks, we never grow out of this stage! We will fight it our whole lives. Solomon gives several scenarios in today’s chapter. Let’s look at them and see how to live for Jesus in the moment rather than just living for the moment.

Verses 1-3: The ruler has us there for his own purposes. If we don’t keep our eyes on Jesus, we will be caught up in the ruler’s web.

Verses 4-5: Riches truly are a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Robin and I chased a rainbow in Santa Fe, NM, one time. it was traveling at 65 mph along the highway. No, we didn’t catch it; it never stood still. Neither do riches. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and He will make sure we have everything we need.

Verses 6-8: Most people have ulterior motives. Jesus KNOWS those motives. If we listen to Him, we will avoid much strife, error, and seduction.

Verses 10-11: If we look away from Jesus long enough, we can forget that He is aware of everything we do. The person who takes advantage of the helpless will find himself on the wrong side of the Judge’s bench!

Verses 13-14: With children, we must always consider the end result. What will help the child the most? Giving in to their desires? Letting them do what they want? Or, teaching them restraint? Ask the LORD. He will give you perfect instruction.

Verses 20-21: They are living for the moment. The result of their lack of control will be their downfall: Obesity, poor health, and poverty, both physical and spiritual.

Verses 27-28: For guys, sexual temptation is tied to our eyes. It’s why pornography is so alluring–and destructive! Ladies, help us out by wearing modest clothing, not watching provocative movies with us, and requiring us to keep our conversation pure and holy. Thank you!

Verses 29-35: Alcohol is a viper. It is poisonous (literally) and dangerous (spiritually). Anything (marijuana, pills, etc.) that makes us lose control of our thoughts and actions opens a door to abuse, danger, and even demonic oppression. The revealing verse is 33, “Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind will imagine confusing things.” We will do well to stay away from them altogether. How much is too much? One never knows until it is too late!

Let’s “set our heart on the right path” (v.19) and be wise. Let’s live for Jesus in the moment by keeping in contact with His Spirit moment by moment. It’s a great way to live!

Abba, I love Your company. May I keep You first and foremost in my mind all the time. When I fail to do so, please gently nudge me. Hold my face and make me look You in the eyes (like I do Jake) and repeat after You, “I desire to do Your will, O Lord; Your law is within my heart (Psalm 40:8).” I will focus on You TODAY. I’ll not worry about tomorrow. I will seek first Your kingdom and let You handle the details. Thank You! Amen.

 

Proverbs 23 3-23-20

Standards have their roots in God. Any standards that we have are based upon a value system. It’s a God thing. As Christians, our standard was spoken by John the Baptist in John 3:30, “He must increase; I must decrease.” Let’s break it down:

  1. “He must increase”– John was speaking specifically about Jesus and His ministry of the reconciliation of mankind to God. So, if Jesus increases in our lives, then our relationship with God will grow closer and stronger, clearer and more natural.
  2. “I must decrease”– John’s ministry was over; his task was finished, which was to introduce the Messiah to Israel. From that point on, John intentionally faded into the background of history. He did not get to follow Jesus as a disciple, which I think that he would have–had he not been arrested by Herod. The spotlight had moved from John to Jesus.

In our own lives, how does this verse apply? Let’s look at it in reverse order:

  1. “I must decrease”- Our lives need to move from being about us to being about Christ and His continuing mission for souls. It really is all about Him! There is a word that describes us: Entitlement– the fact of having a right to something. The belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatmentWe are deserving, alright, deserving of death! “For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23. Where is our gratefulness? Our thankfulness? Our love for our Savior who rescued us and gave us His Spirit? Who literally brought us out of the grave of sin and death? Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Gal. 2:20a. We will do well to adopt this same attitude.
  2. “He must increase”- As we decrease in our own minds, the Spirit has the opportunity–and room–to reveal Christ to us. He IS CHRIST in us! We begin to perceive things and learn things as we read His Word, do His will, and listen to Him throughout the day. He Is Teaching Us. What kinds of things? From today’s chapter:

1 …note well what is before you… 3 Do not crave his delicacies…

4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. 5 Cast but a glance at riches…

6 Do not eat the food of a begrudging [stingy, self-serving] host, do not crave his delicacies;

7 Do not speak wisdom to fools…

10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone [steal land from your neighbor]…

12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to knowledge.

15, 16, 17 Be wise; speak what is right; be zealous for the fear [reverence] of the LORD.

23 Buy the truth and do not sell it–wisdom, instruction and insight as well.

26 Give your heart to Jesus and let your eyes delight in His ways.

27 Stay away from a (morally) loose woman.

28 Stay away from alcohol and anything that would make “your eyes see strange sights, and your mind imagine confusing things.”

If we focus on Christ becoming our all in all, our number one priority, the LORD of our lives, we will turn our hearts and attention to Him. There’s nothing we can do FOR Him; we MUST do life WITH Him. Our connection to Him is the point of our salvation. Let’s walk with Jesus today. May He “hold us by our right hand and guide us with His counsel.” Psalm 73:21-22.

Abba, may I be the first to take my own advice. I acknowledge You as my Savior and LORD. Be first place in my life. I open myself up to Your leadership and guidance. Now, tune my heart to hear Your voice as I go through today. May I perceive, acknowledge, and obey. May You increase and may I decrease. Amen.

Proverbs 23 2-23-20

Today should be different. May we dedicate this day to the LORD for prayer, His Word, and Christian fellowship.

26 My son [child], give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways,

In this verse, God has the responsibility of taking care of our hearts while we have the responsibility of taking care of our eyes. What we see makes a world of difference in what we want–and visa versa: what we want makes a world of difference in what we see.

We ask for wisdom, which is seeing from God’s perspective. We are able to discern between good and bad and to choose the good. It doesn’t remove the bad from our minds–at least, not yet. That process happens when we step from this world to the next. The big question is: Do we really want godly wisdom?

The pull of idolatry on our souls is STRONG. We want what we want. Satan knows our weaknesses as humans and plays to these weaknesses, which are the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). The rest of the chapter in Proverbs bears this truth out:

27 for an adulterous woman is a deep pit,
    and a wayward wife is a narrow well.

30 Those who linger over wine,
    who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.

If we truly desire what God wants for our lives and are willing to place everything on the altar for Him to decide what He wants for us, then we must learn to replace our worldly desires with godly desires. We must be willing to do ANYTHING to break our bad and sinful habits and lusts. Is there really any measure that is too extreme to break a sinful habit? Jesus used a pretty strong illustration about this very topic:

29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:29-30

He was referencing adultery of the mind as well as the body, which we know is rampant among men today in the form of pornography. Am I advocating us maiming our bodies? No, but I am advocating that we go to dire measures to break bad and sinful habits. If it’s on our electronic devices, we may have to do without them for a while ( it takes 21 days to completely break a habit and create a new one). A person might have to have a good old-fashioned book burning, or in this case, magazine burning. Another wise choice is to stop going to places where women’s bodies are on display, like certain movies, swimming pools, strip joints, etc. And this is just one topic! There is SO MUCH about us that Jesus wants to fix!!!

BUT, He KNOWS the fight we have inside. It’s what He came to help us do. He has made us pleasing to God, so we don’t have to worry about our position with Him. The Father DOES want us to work hard at our sanctification, though, and become conformed to the image of His Son (see Romans 8:29).

Today is a special day. We can start TODAY to become like Christ. Let us repent and choose His way. We begin with worship and praise and by placing ourselves under godly teaching. Let’s go to church! Let’s use that altar to build an Ebenezer, a remembrance stone to mark the day we gained victory over a particular area in our lives (see Joshua 5:1-3, 19-24).

Abba, may we use church today for that which it was created: a place to meet with You collectively and to help each other grow in grace and knowledge of You–with You. May we not take it for granted. Do a mighty work in Your church today, LORD, as You probe our hearts and call us to repentance.

I open myself to You for scrutiny, O LORD. May the fire of Your gaze and the intensity of Your presence burn away all the dross in my life. I want nothing left but godliness, O God. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew Your steadfast spirit within me.” Amen.

Proverbs 23 1-23-20

Revival is coming; on what side of it will you be: conviction of the Spirit for repentance or praying for it to come?

4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust in your own cleverness.

The Spirit of God has begun to stir at Brookwood. Our pastor has been asked by the Spirit to call his staff to prayer on Monday nights. I am looking forward to these times of prayer and worship and the spirit of revival that will come of it.

What brings revival? What does the Holy Spirit ask of us in order to have revival? It’s simple, really. All we have to do is die to ourselves and live for Him. Paul said in Galatians 2:

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Revival is based upon the necessity of Christ being in us and living through us. It sounds like we have a passive role in this relationship, but it’s much more active than we might think. Dying to our old selves is a continuous exercise. We will not cease to strive with ourselves until we die and trade these bodies of sin for glorified bodies.

How hard are you striving? Have you fallen back into old habits? Have you gone stale in your walk with the LORD? Let’s look at a passage of Scripture that will help us identify where we are in our walk with Him:

“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” Mark 4:3-8

Jesus explains the parable to His disciples in verses 14-20. It looks like this:

  1. Seed on the path-They hear the message, but refuse to consider any other way than the one they believe. Evolutionists fall into this category as do people with addictions and sinful lifestyles that they are unwilling to give up.
  2. Seed on rocky soil-Many people receive the message of Christ and His salvation because it IS Good News. But, when it comes time to change their lives to become like Jesus, we find that they were really in love with the IDEA of being saved rather than actually coming to Christ and giving Him their lives. He needs the deed to our house/heart and the Master key to every door in our house. His message is not, “Come to Me and be saved from hell,” but, “Come to Me and FOLLOW Me.” Being saved from hell is a benefit of the other.
  3. Seed among thorns-Here’s where a lot of Christians spin their wheels. The “worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come and choke the word, making it unfruitful (v.19),” “and they do not mature (Luke 8:14c).” Christ asked us to give up our lives, to die to ourselves, and to take up our cross DAILY and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Are we doing this on a daily basis?
  4. Seed on good soil-Here is where we want to be. We want to known by the LORD as having a “noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering (Luke 8:15),” follow Him closely, walking in step with Him, and producing a harvest for the LORD. What kind of harvest? We begin with our own fruit of the Spirit that is grown in our lives by Him (see Galatians 5:22-23). We continue with souls that come to Christ through our influence, all according to our obedience to His direction and leadership in our daily lives.

Revival will require each of us to examine ourselves and see where we are in this lineup. I pray that we will all make the necessary adjustments to our lives to follow Christ with whole and undivided hearts.

Abba, may I be the first to make these adjustments. You have already called me to make dietary adjustments (doctor’s orders); now You’re working on my spiritual adjustments as we begin praying together as a staff. Please continue to make the necessary adjustments to all areas of my life so that I look as much like You as I can in this world. I look forward to Your refiner’s fire. Amen.

Proverbs 23 12-23-19

The backstory of Christmas is fascinating. God really did move heaven and earth to come and save us!

12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.

The Israelites were in the land of Egypt 430 years according to Exodus 12:40. With 430 years between Abraham’s 75th year and the Exodus (1446 BC), he would have arrived in Canaan in the year 1876. God made a promise to Abraham that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you [him].” Genesis 12:3. After the Exodus, Israel lived in Canaan until the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom in 722 BC. Babylon conquered the southern kingdom of Judah in 597 BC.

In Babylon, Daniel prophesied what would happen over the next 500+ years (see Daniel 2). It began with the golden kingdom of Babylon, who was then conquered by the Medo/Persian Empire in October of 539 BC. Cyrus allowed the Israelites to go back to Israel and even helped them build the temple! Malachi was written around the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, which was 445 BC.

What happened next? Timeline of Israel

  • Fall of Persian empire to Alexander the Great in 334 BC.
  • Death of Alex and subsequent parceling of his kingdom between his four generals in June of 323 BC. Ptolemy ruled Jerusalem, and Syria for a while.
  • The area of Syria and Israel changed hands several times over the next 100+ years.
  • In 200 BC, the Syrian general, Antiochus III the Great, defeated the Ptolemies. In 173 BC, Antiochus IV Epiphanes conquered Israel and desecrated the altar by offering a pig to Zeus.
  • In 167 BC the Maccabean Revolt ensued when the priest Mattathias was asked to make an offering to the gods. Mattathias and his five sons, one of which was Judas Maccabeus, led the revolt. The Israelites won their independence. Hanukkah happened.
  • Israel changed hands several times again in the next 100 years.
  • Enter Rome in 63 BC. They built roads and unified the entire area under one leader, one common language, and one common coin.
  • Syria and Israel were under Roman rule. A census was called for that region by Quirinius, who was ruler of Syria (and Israel) for his first seat as governor. His second was in 6 AD and is mentioned in Acts 5:37.
  • Herod died in 1 BC contrary to most documents of Josephus dated after 1544 that say he died in 4 BC. The older manuscripts say Herod’s death in 1 BC. Is it a copying error? Probably.
  • According to the star charts shown in The Star of Bethlehem, Jesus was conceived in September, 3 BC. and born in June, 2 BC. The Magi came on December 25th, 2 BC. These events are demonstrated on the video, The Star of Bethlehem, using a program that shows the constellations in that day. The Star of Bethlehem beginning at 39:30

Conclusion: God waited 430ish years to speak again to Israel. Why? Could it be to heighten the miracle of prophecy coming true in order to keep man from gaining glory? Could it be that God was relating the gap between the two Testaments to the tenure of Israel in Egypt? If so, then even as Moses was the savior of the children of Israel, Jesus is the Savior of the world!

“In the fullness of time, Jesus came…” Galatians 4:4

Abba, WOW! You sure set the stage for Your Coming. Thank You, Jesus, for leaving Your throne and setting aside Your glory, Your magnificence, Your splendor, and Your vastness to live in a human body for my sake! May I NEVER take for granted the miracle of Christmas. Amen.

Proverbs 23 11-23-19

Why read His Word daily? To remember who we were before Christ and whose we are after meeting Christ.

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. 18 There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

Let’s look at our salvation experience: Our first indication that something is wrong and needs to be fixed is when we hear that Jesus died for our sins. Two things are created in our hearts. One is the fact that we do not meet God’s standard of holiness. The second is that Christ made a way for us to meet that standard. If we believe that these two things are true, then we are well on our way to being saved.

The next thing we find is that our salvation is much more than simply saying some words and getting fire insurance; it’s giving our entire lives over to God. What do we get out the deal?

  1. We get security. We KNOW that we have eternal life in Jesus Christ. It’s His promise to us.
  2. We get a relationship. For salvation to happen, the Holy Spirit must enter our hearts and do a mighty work. He fills us up, cleans us up, dresses us up with the robe of Christ’s righteousness, gives us the ring and sandals of sonship (girls, too!), and signs adoption papers that can NEVER be rescinded.
  3. We get leadership. The reason for salvation was to put us back into fellowship with the Father. He has plans for us and a job for us to do. He has an entire life of holiness to learn, and a habit of follow-ship to set.

Why are we going over “old ground” again? Because we forget why we were saved and begin to live our lives as if we are not saved, which defeats the purpose of being saved.

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. Romans 3:19-20

God created a perfect world. We had complete fellowship with the Father through Adam and Eve. When they rebelled, we rebelled through them. How do we know that we rebelled through them? It’s simple, really. Let’s look at God’s primer to righteousness and see how we do (Exodus 20: 3-17):

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me. Do we have other gods before God? All the time! Whether it’s pleasure, avarice or indulgence, pride or fear, we all serve at the feet of other gods.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth below or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them… We all have things in our lives that we serve. We were created to serve and we do it well–just to the wrong things!
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God… Again, we all are guilty of using the LORD’s name in ways that it was never intended, if not as a cuss word, then flippantly and without its special association. If we are not addressing Him, then it’s being misused.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. We Gentiles don’t have a clue as to how to keep this verse. We don’t have a reference point.
  5. Honor your father and your mother… Ever disobeyed your parents? Me, too.
  6. You shall not murder. Ever hated anyone and/or want him dead?
  7. You shall not commit adultery. Ever “done it” in your mind?
  8. You shall not steal. Ever taken something without permission?
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor [lie]. Ever lied?
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house…his wife…his stuff. Ever considered how to get something that was someone else’s?

What we have to realize is that sinning doesn’t actually make us sinners; we sin BECAUSE we are sinners. The Ten Commandments simply bear out this fact. “We become conscious of sin.” It’s the next part in the chapter that thrills our souls:

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify [we learn it in His Word]. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

It is through Jesus Christ that we received redemption from our sinful state. He has placed us in His family. He has made His home in us through the Holy Spirit. We are no longer who we were before we met Christ. May we “always be zealous” as we walk with the LORD daily.

Abba, thank You for rescuing me! Thank You for coming to me and inviting me to be Yours. You initiated and I responded. May I continue to trade my life for Your life, my will for Your will, my desires for Your desires, and my strength for Your strength. I look forward to all You have in store for me today. Let’s go! Amen.

Proverbs 23 10-23-19

What would you trade for a close relationship with the LORD? Anything? Everything?

12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.

15 My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad indeed;
16 my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.

19 Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path:

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.
18 There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

As I read about dining with a ruler (1-3), trying to get rich (4-5), eating with a stingy host (6-8), envying sinners (17-18), joining drunkards and gluttons (20-21), adulteresses (26-28), and party-ers (29-35), I am reminded once again that this world is NOT our home, so don’t get comfortable. I am also reminded that our actions here on this earth have major blessings or consequences in heaven.

You may ask, “Why? I thought it was about our relationship with Jesus.”

And it is. Our actions show just where our heart is. We spend our time, our money, our effort, and our attention on that which is most important to us. Everything listed in the verses above is all for worldly pleasure and comfort. Where is the devotion to Christ? Granted, He doesn’t call us to give everything away and live in destitution, but He DOES call us to be willing if He asks. Instead of trying to gain, maybe we ought to try to give.

Asaph* struggled with the age-old question of worldly blessings vs. spiritual blessings. We find his struggle in Psalm 73. We don’t know with what he struggled (v. 14), and as a Levite, we don’t know if he was paid for his work or if it was voluntary. In any case, his struggle is our struggle: Why do sinners prosper while saints suffer?

I think Satan has a lot to do with the answer to this question. He is the prince of this world (John 14:30, Luke 4:6, 1 John 5:19). He gives power to whomever he likes. By making people succeed in their sin, he keeps them from seeking something–or Someone– else. Jesus, on the other hand, calls us out of this world and worldly mindset and tells us to seek first His kingdom (Matt. 6:33). His objective is for us to be made into His likeness (Romans 8:29), not for us to have every desire met (that’s what got Eve in trouble).

Lest we despair as Asaph almost did (v. 13), let us read on:

13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
    and have washed my hands in innocence. (his near-despair)
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
    and every morning brings new punishments. (his daily struggle)

15 If I had spoken out like that,
    I would have betrayed your children. (his near-catastrophe of dis-heartening his fellow worshipers)
16 When I tried to understand all this,
    it troubled me deeply 
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
    then I understood their final destiny. (his reference point: God)

18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
    you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
    when you arise, Lord,
    you will despise them as fantasies. (They chose poorly)

21 When my heart was grieved
    and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
    I was a brute beast before you. (been there, done that)

23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand. (YOU take care of ME, my Shepherd!)
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory. (the daily walk)
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you. (compared to knowing Him)
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. (our comfort, our solace)

Let’s orient our thinking so that Jesus is our focus, our Center. When we do this, we know that we are in the center of His will because we are in the center of His attention.

Abba, thank You for loving us beyond this life. Help us to keep our eyes focused on You. Amen.

Asaph- a prominent Levite singer and seer in David’s court and was the son of Berachiah of the tribe of Levi. (1Chr 6:391Chr 15:171Chr 15:191Chr 16:4-72Chr 29:30). He is the ancestor of the Sons of Asaph, one of the great family guilds of temple musicians.

*Asaph is featured prominently in Chronicles. He is described as the chief of the Levites appointed to minister before the ark of the Lord, and he and his brothers are appointed to sing the songs of thanksgiving to the Lord (1Chr 16:4-7). His description as a seer (2Chr 29:30) also suggests a connection with cultic prophecy. Asaph’s descendants formed an important guild of temple singers in the reconstruction following the exile. In Ezra 2:41 and Neh 7:44, the temple singers are simply referred to as the “sons of Asaph.” It is also an Asaphite, Uzzi, who is established as the overseer of the Levites in Jerusalem during the temple’s reconstruction (Neh 11:22-24). Asaph and the Psalms

Proverbs 23 9-23-19

So, you’ve given your life to Christ. Are you now trying to walk in your own cleverness? You have received the Spirit! Listen to Him.

(4) …do not trust your own cleverness.

We need to learn to walk according to the Spirit and His leading rather than according to our own concepts and ideas, opinions and feelings. We have ZERO spiritual discernment, therefore it would be foolish for us to continue in life expecting to live a godly life without consulting God.

(9) Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn the wisdom of your words.

Our arrogant attitude is what got us into a sinful mess in the first place. It is the very thing that needs to change in our lives as followers of Jesus. Humility is the foundation of salvation. When we realize that we cannot please God on our own, that we cannot outwit Satan, and that we cannot even please ourselves, then we will be in a position to accept what the Spirit has to offer.

(12) Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.

The more instruction and learning we can get, the more handles the Holy Spirit has for our lives. When we study the Bible, when we read books and watch videos or listen to sermons and interviews, our minds tend to stay on the path of learning. We ponder what we have seen, read and heard, thus allowing the Spirit to interpret for us. When we put our knowledge into a godly perspective, we begin to think like God. We see from His perspective, which is what wisdom is.

Here is what God thinks of us when we are wise:

(15) My child, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad indeed; (16) my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.

Satan would have us put off any reading of the Bible or taking the time to watch a video. He will try to convince us to play secular music instead of Christian music, or music in general instead of listening to a sermon or interview. He would rather we read the newspaper or play a game than read God’s Word.

So, the question is: Who are we trying to please? Is our happiness first on our list? Or, have we crucified ourselves with Christ on the cross and now live for Him and Him alone? We must ask ourselves this question everyday–sometimes several times a day.

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

The problem with living sacrifices is that we can crawl off the altar. Let’s stay on the altar today, shall we?

Abba, I place myself squarely on the altar right now. When I feel the urge to slide off, please rebuke me, teach me, correct me, and train me in righteousness. I will enjoy our interaction along with the peace, love and joy that come from simply basking in Your presence. I am Yours, Lord. I am following You. Amen.