Proverbs 3-23-23

What’s so different about Christians? It is the habitation of the Holy Spirit in our lives!

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” Galatians 4:6
27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

What we all need is a filling of the Spirit. I was reading through Ephesians lately and was hit once again by 5:18, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” There are other places in the NT where we are told to allow only the Spirit to guide our lives. Let’s look at some of those passages:

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:4

We know that their tongues were languages because of verse 8, “Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?” The point is that they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! Acts 4:8

Peter preached another great sermon as he was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to themActs 6:3

Oh, to be known to be “full of the Spirit and wisdom!” These were the first deacons.

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 9:17

Here, Ananias prayed over Saul (soon to be known as Paul) that he might see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

There are a lot of other passages, but let’s see what we can derive from these passages.

  1. The Holy Spirit fills both men and women because we know that women were in the upper room along with the men (see Acts 1:14).
  2. A prerequisite seems to be a holy (set apart) lifestyle; the disciples were in prayer for 10 days waiting on “power from on high” (Acts 1:8).
  3. Being filled with the Spirit has more to do with our consent rather than God’s insistence.
  4. To be filled with the Spirit is the goal of every believer; it is when our lives and His will line up. Again, we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth and to lead us on the way.

Being filled with the Spirit is something that we can pray for people. It begins when we ourselves ask to be filled. Are we willing to live our lives in a way that invites the Spirit to fill us? Are we willing to say and do whatever He says? I pray that you will be filled with the Spirit today, that you would experience Him on a whole new level, and that you will sense His presence, His participation, His power, and His peace as you go through today.

Abba, my heart’s desire is to be “full of the Spirit and wisdom.” I ask You to fill me. But first, I need You to “search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). I patiently wait, O Lord… Amen.

Proverbs 3-20-23

God doesn’t ask us to do anything that He didn’t model in Jesus. He also empowers us to do them.

Paul says in Philippians 2:13,

13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. NIV

The Amplified Classic Edition says it this way:

13 [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the desire and power], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

We were talking yesterday about how to speak to each other concerning the building program at church; what we discovered is how God would like for us to treat everyone we know! Let’s look at the passage again:

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

  1. Get rid of all- In order to get rid of anything, we must first identify the bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander in our lives. The key word is “all.” We can keep none of it back and succeed. In verse 30, Paul uses the word, “grieve,” regarding the Spirit. In 1 Thessalonians 5:19, he uses the word, “quench.” Hanging onto any of these will quench the Spirit’s work in our lives. It’s like turning the faucet nearly all the way off and trying to fill a bathtub.
  2. Be kind and compassionate to one another-
    • Kindness- the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
    • Compassion- pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
      These two leave no room for bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander. They are what we use to fill the empty spaces that the others leave. We cannot do these on our own. We must ask and then allow the Holy Spirit to work with us and through us. It’s a cooperative effort.
  3. Follow God’s example- The secret to this one is to study the life of Jesus. He is the exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). John describes God as love (1 John 4:8). We also have some lists that are given to us in Exodus 34:6-7 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. We ARE dearly loved children. John also says, “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).
  4. Walk in the way of love- Jesus showed us how: self-sacrificing, loving us even knowing that we may not return His love. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down your life for your friends” (John 15:13). The way of love is not easy, but it is very rewarding.

In order to do this right, we must practice these four commands routinely. Therefore, we would do well to use them on every person we know–especially family members. If we can do it with them, then we can do it with anyone!

Abba, help us to practice these commands on each other. May we be able to gently remind each other when we get aggressive or stubborn. May we praise each other when we are doing well. Show us how to love like You, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 2-23-23

A Christ-follower wants to be like his Master. Is your daily desire to be more like Christ?

17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 1 John 4:17

My pastor made a statement today that made perfect sense. He said, “A justified man always longs to be sanctified.” These terms come from 1 Corinthians 6:11,

11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

I underlined “washed” because it is the beginning of a process:

  1. We come to Jesus and He ceremonially washes us with His blood.
  2. We become justified, which means, “just as if I’d never sinned.”
  3. We are sanctified, which is the process of becoming like Jesus.

Sanctification is both a state of being and a progression. We ARE like Jesus in that we are now pure and blameless,

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holycleansing her by the washing with water through the word27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27

We have a similar description in Philippians 1:9-11,

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

This description includes the fruit of righteousness. The 1 Corinthians passage gives credit to the name of Jesus and to the Spirit. The fruit that the Spirit produces in us are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Ephesians 5:9 includes truth and righteousness in the list of fruit.

Let’s get back to my pastor’s statement. Why would a justified person long to be sanctified? Because his desires have changed. He now has the desires of Jesus in him. We long to be like Jesus, which is our sanctification, our goal.

The best illustration I can think of is “The Great American Hero.” It was a sitcom from the 80’s of a guy who was given superpowers, but no instruction on how to use them. He was constantly learning something new about his powers and how to control them. The illustration breaks down here because we have been given the Spirit as our Guide and the Bible as our instruction manual.

For us, we would do well to get up each morning, acknowledge the presence of the Lord in our lives, and set our hearts on sanctification for the day. Our desire to be like Jesus is our first step to becoming just like Him. The fun part is that even the desire comes from Him!

13 [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. Philippians 2:13 AMP

Abba, knowing that I am holy in Your eyes, blameless and pure, blows my mind! From my view, You’ve got it all wrong! But I trust You, and if You say I am, then I believe You. It makes me want to live up to what I’ve been given. May Your Spirit guide me daily to become just like You, Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 1-24-23

The apostle Paul had a unique relationship with Jesus Christ. We have our own unique relationship. Are we cultivating it?

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:3-5

Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19). From his testimony before the crowd in Jerusalem many years into his ministry, we learn that Jesus appeared to Paul in a trance telling him to leave Jerusalem (Acts 22:17-18, his first time back as a follower of Jesus). As Paul was taken into custody by the Romans, he had a visitation by the Lord who told him to “take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11). Paul understood that the Lord and the Spirit are synonymous. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit,” and in verse 18, “which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” Luke mentions the Holy Spirit’s leading Paul on several occasions: Acts 13:2, 16:6-7, 19:1-7, 20:22-23, 21:4, and 11.

Paul met with the Lord on several occasions. In fact, Jesus told him, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:16). We also know from Paul’s testimony in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 that he “was caught up into paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.”

What did Paul think about his interaction with Jesus? “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” (Philippians 3:7-8a).

How are we in this department? Do we crave knowing Christ? Are we interested enough in His opinion to make it our own? Paul continues,

I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

May we begin today to seek Christ, to know Him in His power, His suffering, in His death, and ultimately, in His resurrection.

Abba, knowing Jesus better is my goal in life. The only way I know to achieve this goal is to spend time with Him: reading Your Word, consulting Him on every decision, seeking direction, obeying instructions, receiving guidance, and basking in His presence and participation in my life. Thank You, Jesus, for wanting to live in and with me. Amen.

Proverbs 1-23-23

Jesus is coming back to earth. He kept His promise to rise from the dead, so we can trust Him on coming back, too.

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

This passage convinces me that Jesus is literally returning to earth. Zechariah (John the Baptist’s dad) doubted Gabriel’s words and wound up mute for the duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (Luke 1:18-20). I will not make the same mistake.

Concerning End Times, the Baptist Faith and Messages says this:

God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.

Its eschatology is pretty straightforward; it doesn’t include any details about when or how Jesus will return except that He will come personally and visibly. My eschatology is straightforward, too. I believe:

  • Jesus is coming back literally to earth.
  • He will pick us up along the way (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
  • God will judge everyone according to their relationship with His Son, Jesus (John 5:28-29).

There are a great many Christian brothers and sisters who read many Scripture passages as historical while many other Christian brothers and sisters interpret these same passages as future events. While it may seem that one must choose between the two, that is not the case. In 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Paul calls Christ’s Coming a mystery. As I said in Proverbs 1-19-23, we need to be like the flat nails about core beliefs that cannot bend and are the driving force of the Gospel, but also like steel nails, which bend when needed, concerning beliefs and interpretations that go beyond the basic tenets of the truths stated in the Bible. We need to respect each other’s opinion over End Times and not present our opinions in a way that becomes divisive. This discussion has been going on for nearly two millennia, so there’s no reason to think that anyone has the corner on the market. In the words of my pastor, “It’s not a fellowship-breaker.”

Let us pray that as the time for Jesus’ Return draws ever closer, more and more people will turn to Him for salvation, healing, and freedom.

Abba, as I get older, the more I realize that I know far less than I thought I did. The more I study Your Word, the deeper are its depths. Take me deeper, Lord, until the Day that You take me home. Amen.

Proverbs 23 12-23-22

Jesus walks with us through the struggles of life. It won’t always be like this. He is our HOPE for a wonderful future.

And hope does not disappoint or put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5

The coming of the Holy Spirit was God’s plan all along. Let’s look at more of Romans 5:

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

The gift is the Holy Spirit. It is through the Spirit that grace overflows to all people.

17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

Jesus is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). We can say, “The Spirit of Jesus lives in our hearts (Philippians 1:19).” The Spirit gives life (John 6:63).

His gift does not come automatically, but not for the reason you might think. God does not enforce freedom, but offers it. To rescue someone who does not want to be rescued is to put him in a different kind of bondage. When someone turns to Christ for freedom, then comes the truth: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). He comes looking for us (Luke 15:4-6); He knocks on our heart’s door (Revelation 3:20); He calls for us to come to Him (Matthew 11:28-30). Here’s what Jesus promises:

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Hope for what? A bright and wonderful future with Him. Folks, who could ask for anything more?

Abba, Your very great and precious promises are wonderful. The promise of all joy and peace in our lives is enough, but to give us the hope of spending eternity with You is amazing. And to think that eternal life is going on in us right now! May we overflow with Your hope, O God. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for all You do for us, with us, and in us. Amen.

Proverbs 23 11-23-22

Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Why? Because they were dirty from walking on the road. He wants to wash our feet, too, for walking in this world.

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, John 13:10

Life is messy. Relationships are messy. Jesus never asked us to keep ourselves clean, but to keep ourselves holy. But, even if we fail to keep ourselves holy, He promises to help us get that way again. Rather than being afraid of becoming unholy, we need to focus on what He has asked us to do. So what if we mess up? We mess up all the time already. We might as well mess up trying to do the right thing. And, boy, have I done some lulu’s! Yet, here I am still serving the Lord.

Let’s look at a teaching of Jesus when He was instructing His disciples. He and three of His disciples had just come down from the Mount of Transfiguration and found the other disciples arguing with a man. They couldn’t drive out the evil spirit in his son. Jesus did. Then,

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:19-20
29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer. Mark 9:29

There are a couple of things to derive from this passage:

  1. Faith as small as a mustard seed means that we will try. All Jesus asks is that we try. He will then empower us (with His holy Spirit), teach us (how to be like Him), rebuke us (when we go too far), correct us (when we have it wrong), train us (for the next time), refine us (getting rid of any foreign material), sharpen us (to hone us), and encourage us as we work toward holiness, purity and righteousness (all godly traits).
  2. Prayer entails interaction with the Father through the Son by way of the Holy Spirit. It’s a relationship built on communication. We were never meant to move mountains or cast out demons by ourselves; neither were the disciples. It’s always been a dual effort. Jesus’ yoke (Matthew 11:28-30) is made for two people, you and Him.

Let’s quit worrying about our holiness and be about the Father’s business. Rather than segregate, let’s unify over Christ and His message for the world.

Abba, when will we learn that drawing unhealthy boundaries instills fear in folks, both those on the inside as well as those on the outside? I like Your message so much better: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Help me make every effort, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 23 10-23-22

Ever wondered why evangelists say that people must be saved? Why? From what? Good questions! Let’s look at them.

11 I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior [salvation]. Isaiah 43:11

Salvation is an interesting concept. It involves more than one person because, by definition, a person cannot save himself (it’s not called salvation at that point). Another person is required to intervene for the sake of someone else.

When Peter made his great statement in Acts 4:12, he gave us a unique definition of salvation from God’s perspective,

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

There are several questions that arise from this verse.

  1. Must a person be saved?
  2. From what is he lost?
  3. Is he not capable of saving himself?
  4. Why Jesus’ name?
  5. What makes His name special?
  6. Everyone?
  7. What is required?
  8. What shall we gain/avoid?

Let’s look at the first one. The verse states that all men (a figure of speech for all mankind) must be saved. Why? For the answer to this question, we go to Genesis 3 and Romans 5,

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate itThen the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.

Many people consider this passage as a literary story and not historical. I do not, because:

  • The style of writing is narrative, not poetic,
  • Jesus refers to Adam and Eve as real people (Mark 10:6),
  • and Paul refers to Adam in a very specific way in Romans 5,

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people

Adam was mankind’s representative. His action affected every person on the planet. Why would God set things up like that? Because He KNEW that we would fail, so He designed it so that Jesus could be our Second Representative. 1 Corinthians 15:21 says,

21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.

Aslan referred to this representation as “the deeper magic from before the dawn of time”*. So, the answer to the question, “Must a person be saved?” is yes. By someone else: Jesus Christ.

Tomorrow, we will look at the next question, “From what is he lost?”

Abba, thank You for setting things up so that You could save us from our sin, from ourselves, from the enemy, especially death. There has never been a “Plan B;” it’s always been “Plan A.” We are forever grateful! Amen.

*”The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” from The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis

Proverbs 23 9-23-22

Christianity only grows one way, and that is one transformed life at a time.

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

This next one’s tricky. I’ll tell you why after we read from the Baptist Faith & Message:

XV. The Christian and the Social Order

All Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society. Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ. In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography. We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love. In order to promote these ends Christians should be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth.

Exodus 20:3-17Leviticus 6:2-5Deuteronomy 10:1227:17Psalm 101:5Micah 6:8Zechariah 8:16Matthew 5:13-16,43-4822:36-4025:35Mark 1:29-342:3ff.; 10:21Luke 4:18-2110:27-3720:25John 15:1217:15Romans 12–141Corinthians 5:9-106:1-77:20-2410:23-11:1Galatians 3:26-28Ephesians 6:5-9Colossians 3:12-171 Thessalonians 3:12; Philemon; James 1:272:8.

Influence. It’s the big stick of Christianity. We can use our influence in a Christlike manner or we can be impatient and use it in a manipulative manner. In history, we have classic examples of both:

From the stoning of Stephen (c. 35 A.D.) until 313 A.D (the end of Diocletian’s Roman rule), Christianity grew at a radical rate until it is estimated that more than half of the Roman Empire was Christian–and I mean Christ followers who were willing to die for following Him. The influence of Christians during this time is a great example of the Christlike manner about which we are talking. It’s been called the patient ferment of the early church. Christians lived differently than those around them, which peeked the interest (Holy Spirit-driven) of many. The ensuing conversations created converts to Christianity. But then…

Constantine the Great had a dream of a cross with the words inscribed on it, “With this sign, conquer.” He had the cross painted on all his soldiers’ shields. They won the battle and he became emperor and converted to Christianity. The Edict of Milan, signed in 313 A.D, was an agreement to treat Christians benevolently within the Roman Empire.* Later, Christianity became a legal religion in Rome,** and in 380 A.D. became the official religion of Rome.***

It sounds wonderful, but when we take Christianity and make it a state religion, we take all the power of conviction of the Holy Spirit out of it. We reduce Christianity to a bunch of rules–wait a minute; that sounds like Old Testament! Satan used his best ploy: If you can’t beat’em, join’em–then water’em down and steal their real power: the influence of transformed lives.

We must be careful to use our influence in a Christlike manner. It’s not about politics; it’s about the influence of our transformed lives that will bring curiosity and conviction to those with whom we have contact.

Abba, please help us to see that it’s about You in our lives that makes us different. The transformation of us into the image of Christ is what will draw all people to You. Our influence is wrapped up in our testimony. May we look to You to help us build and maintain our influence for You. Amen.

*Edict of Milan

**The Strange Dream of Emperor Constantine

***Christianity as the Official State Religion of Rome

Proverbs 23 8-23-22

We might think that hair would be simple, but it’s not. Anything living and growing has to be regulated–by design!

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

For our last installment on hair, we go to WebMD. Here, we find a description of how hair follicles grow hair. Included is the sebaceous gland, which is very important to hair health.

Hair has two distinct structures – first, the follicle itself, which resides in the skin, and second, the shaft, which is what is visible above the scalp.
The hair follicle is a tunnel-like segment of the epidermis that extends down into the dermis. The structure contains several layers that all have separate functions. At the base of the follicle is the papilla, which contains capillaries, or tiny vessels that nourish the cells. The living part of the hair is the very bottom part surrounding the papilla, called the bulb. The cells of the bulb divide every 23 to 72 hours, remarkably faster than any other cell in the body.

Two sheaths, an inner and outer sheath, surround the follicle. These structures protect and form the growing hair shaft. The inner sheath follows the hair shaft and ends below the opening of a sebaceous (oil) gland, and sometimes an apocrine (scent) gland. The outer sheath continues all the way up to the gland. A muscle attaches below the gland to a fibrous layer around the outer sheath. When this muscle contracts, it causes the hair to stand up which also causes the sebaceous gland to secrete oil. The sebaceous gland is vital because it produces sebum, which conditions the hair and skin.

Hair has real significance in the Bible. Samson’s strength was in his hair (Judges 16:17-19); Absalom’s hair led to his demise (2 Samuel 18:9-15). Jesus’ beard was pulled out (Isaiah 50:6, 52:14); Paul had his hair cut to fulfill a vow (Acts 18:18). How is it significant to us? It’s one of the ways that God reminds us everyday that He designed us as His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). Every time you notice the hair on your head or face or arms, let it remind you of how much God loves you!

Abba, I thank You that at 61 I still have a (relatively) full head of hair. Even so, I know that “man looks on the outward appearance, but You look at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Regardless of my outward appearance, I want to look like You, Jesus, in character. I know that You are shaping me into Your image (Romans 8:29). May I be a willing vessel on the Potter’s wheel (Jeremiah 18:1-4). Amen.

Proverbs 23 7-23-22

This world is full of quicksand, tar pits and landmines. Only Jesus can see us through to the other side!

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

Quicksand: Ground that looks solid, but is not. We are not able to discern spiritual things without the aid of the Holy Spirit.

Tar pits: Sin is like a tar pit that looks appealing. In this world, tar is made to look attractive. The problem with tar is that it doesn’t come off without a powerful detergent. Aren’t we glad that Jesus washes us of all “tar” that we get into?

Landmines: These are set by the enemy and then left for us to trigger. For a great story and a graphic mental picture of minefields and God’s wondrous grace, watch Miracle at Golan Heights.

Many people today think that evil, Satan, and demons, i.e. the enemy, are a state of mind, as in the dark side of humanity. I don’t think so. Jesus had a lot to say about Satan, demons and evil spirits. C.S. Lewis, in his book, “The Screwtape Letters,” said that convincing humans that they (demonic forces) don’t exist is a primary tool in their toolbox. This website lists all the verses concerning demons in the Gospels, Did Jesus Believe in Demons. But, why dwell on the subject?

I look at it like this: I once was susceptible to their influence. But, Jesus opened my eyes. He came to live in me. Now, the only susceptibility I have to their influence is what I give them. My determined purpose is to NOT give these influences ANYTHING to work with. I study the Scriptures daily to fortify myself against their influence and to be able to spot the quicksand, tar pits and landmines when I come to them. In fact, I find that the more I spend in prayer with the Lord and pondering His Word, the less I think (or worry) about them at all! I am so caught up in what the Savior has to say and what He has me doing that I do not fear them or their ploys. Spiritually, I am protected; Jesus is in charge of keeping me safe. But, “it’s the little foxes that destroy the vine” that I am concerned with. My aim each day is to stay immersed in His Presence as I walk through the day.

1 Peter 5 speaks of this subject,

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devourResist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Being aware of an enemy is half the battle. The other half is simply a matter of turning away from him and his temptations to the Father, through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we do, we receive His love, joy and peace that flow from Him to us. It’s like standing under a waterfall!

Today, rather than focusing on the enemy, let’s focus on Christ as we enjoy the satisfying fellowship of the Spirit.

Abba, walking with You is like the day becoming ever brighter as noon approaches. The more I learn, the more I adore You. “These light and momentary troubles” do not keep me from coming to You; rather, they propel me toward You! Your presence is all I seek. Keep me on-task, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 23 6-23-22

How can we fear love? God is love. To be afraid of God is to believe a lie. Should we respect Him? yes. But, be afraid of Him? No.

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

In yesterday’s post, we saw that fear was one of the obstacles to sensing the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit in a worship service. Knowing that fear is not apprehension of God, but awe and respect for Him helps us approach the subject with an open mind. Let’s dig deeper.

A big cause of fear of God is a misunderstanding of who Jesus is. Jesus did not come to stand in the gap between us and the Father–He IS the Father! John 10:30 says, “I and the Father are one.” Jesus is the exact representation of God, therefore, He represents how much God the Father loves us. Look at Hebrews 1:3,

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he [Jesus] had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

When we read John 3:16, we could read it as, “For God the Father loved the world so much that He came as the one and only Son... We cannot trust what we fear; Jesus came to demonstrate the Father’s love for us:

“Do your worst to Me; I will still love you–
in fact, I will go through death for you and
come out the other side so that you can, too!”

When we hold the Father/Jesus at arm’s length, we grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30). Jesus cleared the way for us to have a full and complete relationship with the Father. Everything is now about training, transforming, conforming and becoming:

  • Training- Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:25
  • Transforming- And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18
  • Conforming- For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:29
  • Becoming- And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:22

If God partners with us and invest in us so much time and effort, does that not prove His intentions? He loves us and wants the best for us! All doubts and fears can be set aside in light of this great revelation. All He wants is for us to love Him back.

Abba, I wish that everyone in the whole world understood the truth about You. You are not Someone to fear (as in, terror); You love us with an everlasting love! Continue to reveal Your love to everyone, Abba. May I be Your ambassador. Amen.

Proverbs 23 5-23-22

The fruit of the Spirit is all things needed in a godly life, which is the Christ-like life in us.

30 I went past the field of a sluggard,
    past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
31 thorns had come up everywhere,
    the ground was covered with weeds,
    and the stone wall was in ruins.
32 I applied my heart to what I observed
    and learned a lesson from what I saw:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest—
34 and poverty will come on you like a thief
    and scarcity like an armed man.

Paul talks about one person planting, one growing, but it is God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-8). These words are especially true concerning the fruit that the Spirit grows in our lives. In Galatians 5:22-23, we find nine types of fruit:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The first three, love, joy and peace, have to do with our Countenance. They are unmistakable for those who walk closely with Jesus.

The second three, patience, kindness and goodness, have to do with our Conduct. They are undeniable in mature Christians.

The third three, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, have to do with our Character. They are under His control as we strive to release control to Him.

There are two more fruit listed in Ephesians 5:8-9; they are fruit of the light in the Lord. Those two fruit are righteousness and truth. It could be said that they shine light in our lives for us to see with spiritual eyes. Verse 11 states that darkness grows no fruit. With the light of righteousness and truth, we can expose fruitless places in our lives in order to prune them or even root them out. Also, it is in the light that we grow.

The task of living according to this fruit is only possible by the counsel of the Holy Spirit. When we stay synced up with Him, the fruit grows automatically–it doesn’t seem like it to us, but He is always working in us to be like Jesus (see Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18, and Philippians 1:6).

Jesus said, “By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:16 and 20). Want to be like Jesus? Allow Him to guide you as He grows spiritual fruit in your life. In the words of Adrian Rogers, we are to allow God to be not just resident in our lives, but President.

Abba, I want to be just like You. Grow Your fruit in me so that people recognize You in me. It’s a daily process and a dynamic relationship. Thank You for giving me both the desire and the power to do Your will. It’s interesting that You grow fruit in us even in our failures. You have deemed us completely redeemable! Thank You for that vote of confidence. I pledge this day to follow You–and the next day, and the day after that. etc. Amen.

Proverbs 23 4-23-22

Hiatus-a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc. Today, I am taking a hiatus…

24:33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest–

Actually, it’s the opposite. Spring is upon us and the outdoors calls…to weed, trim, plant, clean out, etc.

Abba, may I get done all that is on my list for today! Amen.

Proverbs 23 3-23-22

Mercy is the compassion of God. Want to experience His mercy? Just ask for it!

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.

There is a prayer in liturgical churches that echoes the prayer of the “sinner” in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:13), which says, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” The secret to the mercy of God is not our having to beg for it; it was given freely by Jesus Christ on the cross to everyone. Paul told us that it was God’s plan all along,

32 For God has shut up [sugkleio-enclose together] all in disobedience so that he may show mercy on them all. Romans 11:32

“‘Lord, have mercy’ doesn’t activate Abba’s mercy–
rather, it leads me beneath the ever-flowing spring
to receive mercy’s continuous downpour.”*

Once a person understands that all he needs to do is receive the mercy and grace that God is already pouring out on all mankind, our whole perspective on life begins to change. When we turn from the darkness of our own blindness to the light of His love, it’s like being born again, like being brought from death to life, or like moving from living in a black-and-white world to one of color (much like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz when she stepped out of the house into Oz).

The word, “sinner” does not identify us; it describes the human condition. It could be said that sin is not something we do as much as it is what we believe. If we “miss the mark” of understanding that we are made in God’s image and are His beloved children, then we will live as if He doesn’t exist, or that we are “pond scum” and undeserving of His love. I used to believe in “the total depravity of man,” but I have come to understand that way of thinking as a deception of the evil one. Jesus reveals our worth to Him. We are valuable to Him. He said,

How much more valuable is a person than a sheepMatthew 12:12

Paul explained it this way, “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, [who died to show us how much we mean to Him] overflow to the many!Romans 5:15

Christ did not die to make us valuable; He died BECAUSE we are valuable to Him. Now, if that doesn’t make us want to trust Him and follow Him, then I don’t know what will! To me, it’s like I woke up to something that I had always hoped, yet thought was impossible: I really am precious in His sight. Jesus really does love all the little children (that’s us, folks) of the world!

Abba, as I ask for Your mercy, lead me to that fountain that flows from Your throne, the one that pours down love, joy, peace, hope and grace–mercy! Please help me to get my head–and heart–around the truth that I am Your child and You love me. I always have been, and You always will. I love You, too! Amen.

*A More Christlike Way, pg. 206

Proverbs 23 2-23-22

Christianity is not a DIY project. Let’s quit trying to do it ourselves.

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

Yesterday, we talked about what it means to “die to self.” Today, we are tempering that exercise by making sure that we are not trying in our own power. We were never designed to generate our own righteousness. When Adam and Eve were created, they were given a natural righteousness. That righteousness was lost when Eve was deceived and Adam sinned. Jesus came to restore that righteousness, but it’s better than that. He came to instill His Spirit in us so that we never have to worry about losing that righteousness again!

  • In Colossians 1:27, we are told that the mystery of the ages is Christ in us, the hope of glory.”
  • In John 5:21, we are told that Jesus is pleased with whomever He gives life, which is us.
  • In Ephesians 1:5, we are told that it was/is the Father’s pleasure to adopt us as His children through Jesus Christ.
  • In Philippians 2:13, we are told that God works in us energizing and creating in us the power and even the desire “to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.”

The purpose of the cross was to reconnect us relationally and to energize us spiritually so that we could enjoy the Fellowship of the Trinity. God is interested in everything we do, even our words–even our thoughts! He wants us to involve Him in everything.

God has an opinion on everything, so let’s ask Him.

Look at this:

12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

God wants us to learn about Him, our salvation, His Plan for the world and for people. He wants to teach us by His Spirit. Let’s read a passage of Scripture and then ask the Lord about it. Then, we pause and ponder. I write down my thoughts at that point asking the Holy Spirit to help me tie loose ends together. Let’s not worry about doing God’s will. If we are walking in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25), then we will automatically do God’s will as we run across it. In fact, you ARE doing His will, which is to abide in Him. Walking with Christ is being in His will.

Abba, You are true to Your word. You said that You would never leave us nor forsake us, that You would guide us into all truth, and that You would fill us with Your Spirit until we are pressed down, shaken together, and running over with You, Your righteousness, and Your love for people. May we enjoy sweet fellowship with You even as we walk with You doing whatever You point out for us to do. Amen.

Proverbs 23 1-23-22

Jesus is our Representative. What he did for us went for all mankind.

24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.

Jesus has set mankind free from death and has healed our disease of sin. How did he do it? By being our representative, just like Adam was. God knew what He was doing by subjecting all things to sin so that He could save all things through Christ. Let’s read it,

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

Want to know how much God loves us? Just look at the cross. He died there for us as Jesus.

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 

This wrath is the judgment placed upon all mankind through Adam. It is death; it is disease; it is accidents; it is sin and rebellion; it is everything wrong with and in this world. But, we have been reconciled to God through Jesus, and all nature will be soon when God’s kingdom comes to earth!

11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

The key word here is, “rejoice.” We can now rejoice that all mankind has been freed from the power of sin and the fear of death, and those who entrust themselves to Jesus live in that freedom. As we walk with Him, He heals us. One of these days, we will walk right out of this world and into his kingdom. Won’t that be a great day?!

But wait. There’s more…tomorrow!

Abba, you are wonderful! Thank you for your awesome plan that gave us the option to rebel and then to win us back. Your love for us knows no bounds! May we continue to delve the depths of your love. Amen.

Proverbs 23 12-23-21

Words on a page give a static message, one that can be construed, even distorted, however a person desires.

23 When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.

I’m going to give you the punchline first: We have the living Word of God in us. Listen to Him.

Jesus was really hard on the scribes and Pharisees. Let’s take a look at why.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

Literal- Scribes were teachers of the law. They interpreted the Scriptures and taught them. The seat of Moses was a seat at the front of every synagogue and was from where the Scriptures were taught. In Luke 4, Jesus stood up to read Isaiah 61, read it, rolled up the scroll and then sat down to teach (Luke 4:16-21).

Moral- It was not the law and prophets with which Jesus had a problem; it was the teachers’ interpretation and application of the law that He denounced. To them, it was all for show. They were not interested in helping people, but in controlling them.

Spiritual- It seems that Jesus is at first condoning what the leaders were teaching, but looking closer, Jesus then denounced what the leaders were doing. I think that Jesus was telling them to hang tight; He would deal with them!

The next verses are where Jesus begins to teach,

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant.

Jesus put everyone on the same plane with the declaration that we are all brothers (and sisters–it’s implied). There is no hierarchy in Jesus’ family: He is the head and we are the body. Ephesians 1:22-23 says that we are the church, His body, and He is the head. 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 gives a great explanation of how the spiritual body works. Jesus also gave a similar teaching about the greatest being a servant to the rest in Luke 22:24-27.

Then, the hammer struck, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus tells us that we must act contrary to our human nature; our base desires of self-preservation and self-gratification must be mastered. There are a couple of things working against us. Because of the curse of sin, we live with the knowledge of good and evil, but we don’t have the wherewithal to control the desire that can come with that knowledge. This desire rises up and we are tempted. Therefore, we can fall to temptation because of the lack of power to resist. Jesus came to give us that power: HIMSELF!

We’ll pick it up at verse 13 tomorrow.

Abba, thank You for coming to bring us back on track spiritually. May we share this wonderful news with everyone. I will be looking for those in whom You are working and will join You in Your work. Increase Your kingdom, Lord! Amen.

Proverbs 23 11-23-21

An article was sent my way that shed some interesting light on the Trinity. Thought I’d share it with you.

23 Buy the truth and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

About the time I thought I was pretty well-versed on the Trinity, here comes a teaching that takes me to a whole other level. The Lord has me stepping further and further back to get a larger and larger view of Him, the Trinity, and His plan for mankind. Here again, just as the “experts” of this day consider modern man greatly superior in intellect to the “cavemen” of old (but, it’s not so; just look at the accomplishments of ancient man and we see very quickly that they were superior to us–and with fewer DNA errors), our modern-day biblical scholars hold themselves superior to the early church fathers (again, not so; they were closest to Christ, the apostles, and the pure truth as Jesus taught it). This article is from a person who is well-versed in the early church fathers and their teachings:

“As the early Church was forced, on the one hand, to wrestle with those who denied the deity of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, and on the other with those who said that God is alone and solitary and merely changes faces, the Church hammered out the Christian vision of God as Holy Trinity, and took its stand. The early Church came to know that the relationship between the Father, Son and Spirit we see lived out on the pages of the New Testament was not a mere form that God assumed for a moment in time, but the eternal truth about God. God is and always has been and always will be Father, Son and Spirit.

When we confess the Nicene Creed and affirm that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, we are saying with St. Athanasius and the whole Church that there was never a time when God was alone, when the Father was not Father, and the Son and the Spirit were not present. There was never a time when there was just God, so to speak, just some abstract omni-being, some great, nameless unmoved mover, some faceless force up there somewhere. From all eternity, God is Father, Son and Spirit, and this means that God is fundamentally a relational being. This means that fellowship and togetherness, camaraderie and communion have always been at the center of the being of God and always will be.

It is critical that you see this. And it is just as critical that you see that the shared life of the Father, Son and Spirit is not boring or sad or lonely. There is no emptiness in this circle, no depression or fear or anxiety. The Trinitarian life is a life of unchained fellowship and intimacy, fired by passionate, self-giving love and mutual delight. Such passionate love, giving rise to such free-flowing fellowship and togetherness, overflows in unbounded joy, in infinite creativity and in inconceivable goodness.”
From Baxter’s Ongoing Thoughts

It is to this “free-flowing fellowship and togetherness” that we are invited. “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13); this is the purpose and the goal of the love of God. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected (learned to trust) in love.” 1 John 4:18-19. Our invitation is to join Him in the “life of unchained fellowship and intimacy” of the Trinity!

On a practical level, let’s focus on getting to know the King of the universe by looking at life and the Scriptures through Jesus’ eyes. He had a way of interpreting the Old Testament Scriptures according to the love of God. May we do the same. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to interpret for us–but, be prepared to have your mind changed; His view is much greater and higher than ours.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:33, 36

Abba, to see You in Your eternity and realize that our finite world exists within You blows my mind! Nothing has caught You off-guard, nor has anything moved You from Your original position of love. May we see You as You really are: You are LOVE. Jesus is LOVE incarnate. The Spirit is LOVE in us. It really doesn’t get any better than that, Lord. Amen and amen.

Proverbs 23 10-23-21

In our devotions, we all find what works for us. We just need to make sure that it works for Him.

4 …do not trust your own cleverness. 12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.
15 My child, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad indeed;

Yesterday, we began with Psalm 139:23-24 and Psalm 73:23-26, which are long-time memory verses. I read them each morning to work through the process of getting my mind and heart ready to hear the Spirit. It’s time to move on to the meaty part:

Mastering the Mind

These verses help me focus on allowing my soul, my mind, and my desires to be molded and shaped by the Spirit. We want the same thing: For me to be like Jesus and fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).

Mastering the Body

  • I discipline my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to [taught] others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:27
  • Submit to the Lord and resist (James 4:7) the lust of the eyes (we want what we see), lust of the flesh (we want what we feel), and the pride of life (we deserve whatever we want) – (1 John 2:16)
  • “Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD.” Zechariah 4:6. He is our Cornerstone on which we build our foundation. This is bigger than we think. Anything man has touched is tainted. Without even realizing it, we infuse our culture, our upbringing, our opinions, and our desires into whatever we are handling. We must base our worldview, our view of today, and our view of ourselves on what the Spirit is saying to us today, right now. Regardless of what translation we are reading right now, the Spirit wants to shape our minds with truth. Trust Him.
  • I don’t live according to the flesh (my way), but by the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
  • I am crucified with Christ and Christ lives in me. (Galatians 2:20)

There is one more passage concerning mastering the mind, but I will deal with it tomorrow. It’s a passage that bears explaining. It’s new to me, too, and I am also in the process of memorizing it.

Finishing (life) well is a big deal to me. I pray it is a big deal to you, as well. May we work to survive, maintain, and grow in our times with the LORD.

Abba, I know it seems like a lot, but really it’s just allowing these verses to wash over me and work through me like yeast in dough. I don’t stop to ponder unless You highlight something along the way. May You increase my ability to focus and concentrate, to perceive and understand what You are saying to me, to my church, and to the Body at large. Amen.

Proverbs 23 9-23-21

Can God use us to transform others? Yes, if we realize that it’s not us, but Him working in and through us.

19 Listen, my child, and be wise, and set your foot on the right path…”

Here is a bold statement: We, collectively, murdered Immanuel.

Several years ago, I was part of the cast in “Heaven’s Gates/Hell’s Flames,” a production that acted out scenarios of death and the afterlife. Some of them were funny, but others were scary. Everyone approached the “pearly gates” and waited while St. Peter checked the book for his name. If he found it, the lights came up, the angels rejoiced, and Jesus came out and welcomed him into heaven. If St. Peter didn’t find it, then the lights went to red, the angels hid their faces, and I came out to get them–I played the role of Satan. Twice. The point of this story is actually at the beginning of the drama. The music to Via Dolorosa began to play as “Jesus” carried the cross down the isle toward the front. When he was about two thirds down, the music changed, the lights went crazy, and people (the cast) came out of the audience to drag “Jesus” up onstage and crucify him. The concept was that we all, audience included, crucified Christ. It wasn’t our sin, but us, that put Jesus on the cross.

What happened next was true genius. Jesus took upon Himself all sin. When He had it all, He died, and sin died with Him. There are several verses that attest to this theological view:

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

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:56-57

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

The other part of my statement was the use of the term, “Immanuel,” which means, “God with us.” It comes from Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” The ramifications are huge. Jesus wasn’t LIKE God, He WAS/IS God. The best explanation can be found in Philippians 2:7-8,

rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature [form] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

He was human, born of Mary, He grew up like we all do, and He lived and died as humans do, but He was also God in the flesh. He experienced everything we humans do, even temptation (Hebrews 4:15) Three of the four Gospels mention it, two of them going into great detail. Yet, He was God. One of the most interesting verses in the Bible to me is John 3:34,

34 For the one whom God has sent [Jesus] speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.

As Christians, we believe that Jesus was sent by God to us. It is to Him that God gave the Spirit without limit. That same Spirit is available to us in the form of the Spirit of Christ. Another favorite verse of mine is Colossians 1:27,

27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

So, can Christ use us? Yes. In what way? We’ll find out that answer tomorrow!

Abba, may You drive the truth of Your Godhood/Manhood deep into our souls. I know I will never truly understand it until I reach heaven–and even into eternity–but I can begin to grasp it with the help of Your Spirit. I ask that You give me the faith to receive and access the Spirit without limit, just as Christ did. I’m open to extremes, Lord. Whatever it takes. Amen.

Proverbs 23 8-23-21

Most people are afraid to allow God to order their steps. He might ask them to do something they don’t want to do.

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

What they don’t realize is that by doing something that is not according to God’s commands, they are destroying themselves, especially their futures. God doesn’t ask us to do things just to have His way. His ways are always the best for us. When will we learn this simple truth? Even death will be the best thing for us eventually. In the meantime, He wants a special, intimate, loving relationship with each one of us and He will use whatever circumstances we are in to have one with us. I don’t believe that God makes us sick; I DO believe that He knows it’s coming and prepares us for it–if we let Him. He always supplies mercy and grace in our time of need if we will ask Him. So many times, we either don’t recognize His offer or we don’t receive it because of our own stubbornness or because we think we don’t deserve it. Wrong on both counts! If God offers it, take it!

So, how should we live our lives? King David lived his like this:

133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. Psalm 119:133

The NKJV says, “Direct my steps by Your Word.”
The NIV says, “Direct my steps according to Your Word.”
The NLV says, “Guide my steps by Your Word.”
The CJV says, “Guide my footsteps by Your Word.”
The AMP says, “Establish my steps and direct them by [means of] Your Word.”

They each had this plea: “Don’t let any sin rule over me.” Any misstep is a step off the path and into enemy territory. Being off the path is what leads to our destruction. God wants to walk with us on the path. He will even hold our hand! We also have a wonderful promise. Psalm 73:23-24 explains it:

23 Yet I am always with you; [we are walking with Him on the path]
    you hold me by my right hand. [He is holding our hand]
24 You guide me with your counsel, [He knows the way that is the best for us]
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
[our destination is to be with Him in glory]

Why do we struggle so with the simplest disciplines like regular prayer and Bible study? Why is it so easy to come up with a reason not to meet with our fellow believers? Why do we not get involved in other people’s lives for the sake of the Gospel? Do we not believe that He has our best interests at heart? That He knows the best route? That He wants to include us in His work? The sin of unbelief is based upon the rejection of–or ignorance of–what He has told us in His Word. I suggest we read it, study it, memorize it, ponder it, and DO it. Daily.

Paul said it best:

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 20:24

Paul knew. He’d been to the other side (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). He had met the Savior (Acts 9:1-6). He was convinced. If we have met the Savior, then we are convinced, too. Let’s show our faith by our deeds (James 2:18).

Abba, may our actions show that we really do know You, that we love You, and that we are interested in and even excited about You leading us home. Help us to shed anything in this world that slows us up, drags us down, or leads us astray. We are Your sheep, Good Shepherd. Lead us. Amen.

Proverbs 23 7-23-21

There will be no watching of a video of our lives in heaven, going over it with a fine-toothed comb. We are already pleasing to God!

12 Apply your heart to instruction [study, study, study the Bible] and your ears to words of knowledge [make application of the Bible using the Bible].

Romans 14:10 is usually paired with 2 Corinthians 5:10, which says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” It sounds an awful lot like we will watch a replay of our lives. Not so! The judgment here has to do with Lordship here in this life. Verse 11 of Romans 14 says, It is written, ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.'” (Isaiah 45:23). Paul uses this same verse in Philippians 2:9-11, but adds a couple of references to Jesus,

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Paul emphasizes that it is our allegiance to Jesus Christ about which this passage is referring. In fact, it is in Jesus that this verse is fulfilled, and it brings glory to the Father.

Verse 12 says, “So then, each of us will give an account of our selves to God” concerning Jesus’ Lordship in our lives while on earth. I believe that there will be a time when we all stand before the great throne, God the Father in the center and Jesus at His right hand, and each of our names will be called. When my name is called, I will step out and Jesus will receive me as His own while God gets all the glory (He’s smiling, too). I’ll get the team t-shirt (a white robe) and give high-five’s for an extended period as all the saints that have gone before me wait for me to slap their hands. Actually, I’m sure that the entire ceremony will be so glorious and awesome that I can’t even imagine! But, it is exactly that, a ceremony. We have already passed from death to life (John 5:24) and are clothed in the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21, Isaiah 61:10). We will have received our immortal bodies and will have passed from flesh to spirit–NO SIN NATURE! (1 Corinthians 15:42-49), “And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man [Adam], so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man [Jesus].”

Paul summed it up for us in the next few verses of 1 Corinthians 15,

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

To summarize, the verse is not talking about a detailed account of our lives that we review in heaven, but our daily decision to “bow the knee.” It’s our allegiance to Christ that makes us stand confidently before His throne not only in the future, but right now! Hebrews 4:16 and Ephesians 3:12 tell us so.

Abba, may we all bow our knees and our wills to You every day. “Not my will, but Thy will be done.” Those are Jesus’ words; may they be mine, as well. Amen.

Proverbs 23 6-23-21

What motivates a person is important. It shows where his heart really is.

6 Do not eat the bread of a selfish person;
Or desire his delicacies;
For as he thinks within himself [in his heart], so he is [revealed].
He says to you, “Eat and drink!”
But his heart is not with you.
You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten
And waste your compliments.

We all know what self-motivation is; it’s what drives us to do, to be, to aspire, and to succeed. Inner motivation is a desire that comes not from us, but from the Holy Spirit who is in us. The first has to do with our preference; the second with the Lord’s command. We can trust the Spirit of God to tell us to do things that are pleasing to God. We become godly by listening and heeding the Holy Spirit’s quiet whisper and His nudges.

How do we know what types of things the Spirit whispers? We look at what He has said and done in the past. Our reference book for such history is the Bible. The book of Acts is full of the Spirit’s leading of the apostles. He leads us the same way. Why read the Bible? In order to learn how to hear the Spirit’s voice when He speaks to us (which is all the time). What does He say? Things like,

17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will rejoice over you with joy,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy
Zephaniah 3:17

15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters by which we cry out, “Abba [Daddy]! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:15-16

Let’s not let the enemy talk us out of responding to the Spirit within us. Our inner motivation is what drives us to learn all we can about our Savior, the Spirit within us, the kingdom of God, and our future with Him.

One more thing: When you hear His voice and feel His gentle nudge, do what He says. He won’t ask you to do it unless it is important to Him. Let’s make it important to us!

Abba, I want to hear Your voice all the time! The only way I can do that is if I can get my own voice to quiet down. When I hear myself going off on a tangent in my mind, I am trying to learn to abruptly stop and change direction. I don’t try to finish the thought, but immediately enter into a conversation with You. Help me to do more and more of this kind of inner motivation as You coach me. I’m working on my want-to to want to. I want to delight in You, Lord; now, give me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4), which is to obey You in everything (Psalm 40:8). Awaiting Your word, amen.

The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom,
    so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
    and opens my understanding to his will.

Isaiah 50:4

Proverbs 23 5-23-21

Worship is a big deal. It’s a big deal to God and it should be a big deal to us.

35 “…When will wake up so I can find another drink?” Whatever a person enjoys the most and pursues it “religiously” is what a person worships.

The first time of worship mentioned in the Bible is Genesis 3:8 when the Lord God came to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden. The second time is Abel’s sacrifice in Genesis 4:4. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob worshipped the Lord with their families, as did Joseph, his brothers, and their offspring.

The next time God gathers His children together is in Exodus 25:8 when the Lord plops Himself down right in the middle of the Israelites. God has always been about being with His children. In fact, the second greatest worship event happened in Luke 2:7 when Mary gave birth to the Savior, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, because God once again plopped Himself down in the middle of humanity. The greatest worship event to date is the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4. In fact, TODAY is Pentecost! We have one more worship event, the greatest there ever will be, when we all stand before the Father in the presence of the Son and worship them forever. We will have other things to do, but being in His presence is the main attraction for me.

Today, I pray that you will be attracted to Him by attending church somewhere. Being with the body of Christ is the closest thing to heaven this side of heaven. Your church experiences may not have been the best, but God calls you to come and try again. When we come for Him and make Him our main focus, we learn a beautiful truth:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will seek you even as you call them. You are seeking them right now and readying their hearts for an encounter with You! Speak to our hearts, Lord Jesus. We want to hear You, to see You, and to feel Your presence. We worship You Almighty God; there is none like You.

Reiteration from the other day: As a worship leader, I need you there a few minutes early to greet the people around you and to mentally prepare for the service. I need you there early in order for you to be available for any last-minute needs that arise. I need you there early to pray for me, for my pastor, for the service, for those around you, and for those who will be attending who don’t know Jesus. I will be asking the Holy Spirit to “inspire” you to be early from now on.

Proverbs 23 4-23-21

Taking Jesus at His word isn’t so hard when we come to understand that He wants the best for us.

13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. 14 Punish them with the rod and save them from death.

John 17 records Jesus’ prayer the night He was betrayed. In it, He prays for His disciples (and for us) that rather than God taking us out of the world, that He would protect us from the evil one (Satan). So, what about all the times that Christians get persecuted, maligned, and shunned? If God is protecting us from the evil one, then we must conclude that either Jesus was referring to our souls or that our circumstances are in some way being productive to us and to the glory of God. I reckon it’s both.

When Jesus came back to His three disciples while praying in Gethsemane, He found them sleeping. Here is His reaction:

46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Luke 22:46 “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38

I read these verses every morning to remind myself that it is the Lord who prompts me to get up and pray. I prepare my heart for the day so that I will not fall into temptation. I KNOW that my flesh is weak, but I also know that His Spirit in me is willing to help me overcome my weakness. On the backside of the card (on which these Scriptures are written) are verses pertaining to Mastering My Flesh and Mastering My Mind. Here are the verses pertaining to Mastering My Flesh:

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 [trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by [your own] might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6

Do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:4, 13

27 No, I beat [discipline] my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:27

Why do I read these verses every day? Because I fight my flesh all day, every day. I NEED them. I hear the voice of Jesus in me saying, “Come on, Kelly. You can do it because I am with you; I am IN you. Let’s do it together!”

Tomorrow, we will look at verses pertaining to Mastering My Mind. Knowing these verses helps us to stick to the plan when dealing with our feelings. “Change the way you think and you’ll change the way you feel” (a well-known female author said this). For today, let’s discipline our bodies and not give in to our flesh. Let’s listen to the Spirit within us and be “more than conquerors through Him who loves us” (Romans 8:37).

Abba, may we separate our thoughts from our feelings and act according to Your Word. Help us to die to self and live for You and not let sin reign in our mortal bodies so that we obey its evil desires. We want to give ourselves to You as instruments of righteousness. Jesus, thank You SO MUCH that we are not under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:11-14). Help us to live like it. Amen.

Proverbs 23 3-21-21

We are designed for interaction with the Father, through the Son, in conjunction with the Holy Spirit. Let’s connect with Him.

1 When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what/who is before you, 2 and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. 3 Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.

Yesterday, we read about Jesus going to Bethany when He got into Jerusalem. On His way, He passed a fig tree that was in full leaf. The next morning, Jesus stopped by it to pick some fruit, but it didn’t have any. It deceived Him. Here’s what happened:

18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. Matthew 21:18-19

The fig tree was a symbol for Israel (Hosea 9:10). Jesus used the fruitless fig tree to teach the disciples what was going to happen to the Israeli leadership for not believing in Him.

20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.
21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

We know that 40 years later, Israel was subdued and Jerusalem destroyed. Jesus prophesied this destruction with the cursing of the fig tree. The mountain to which Jesus was referring was Mount Zion, the one on which Jerusalem was built. The sea is representative in prophet-speak of a Gentile presence (Rev. 17:15), in this case, Rome. Jesus was saying, “If you believe what the Father tells you, then you will be able to do whatever He tells you to do.” Never are we left to choose on our own. Remember that we were designed for interaction with Him. Jesus Himself said, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” The same goes for us.

When the chief priests and elders of the people questioned Jesus, asking, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?” (Matthew 21:23), Jesus stumped them with their own judgement concerning John the Baptist.

24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

They couldn’t answer because either way, they would have condemned themselves.

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Jesus was not ready for them to arrest Him for blasphemy by claiming outright to be the Messiah. Every human was playing the political game trying to match wits and manipulate circumstances. Jesus had a specific timeline that led to the cross. It wasn’t quite time, so…

Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

Jesus finally did confess that He is the King of the Jews (the Messiah) in Mark 14:62, and, sure enough, they crucified Him for that confession. Jesus quoted straight from Daniel 7:13-14, which identified the Messiah:

13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of mancoming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence [seated with Him]14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped himHis dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

HERE is where Jesus told them from where He got His authority. It Was Time.

Lest we get ahead of ourselves, we still have a few days–and quite a few parables–before Jesus is arrested. Tomorrow, we will look at how Jesus condemned the religious leaders for their selfish actions, their lust for power and prestige, for usurping the praise of men, and for killing the prophets who came to warn them.

Abba, Your Story is, indeed, the greatest story ever told. It’s more than a story; it’s a true account-it’s History! It is His Story, the story of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Oh Jesus, You are marvelous; You are wonderful; You are my Savior and my Lord. You are my All In All. Be Lord of my life today. Reveal Your will, Your way, and Your treasures to me as I study Your Word. Amen.

Proverbs 23 2-23-21

It’s more than a frame of mind; it’s a framework of the heart. Our hearts must be right with Him for prayer to “work.”

9 Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn the wisdom of your words. If the Lord were to take His own advice, then He would not talk to us when we are being foolish. Give thanks that He does!

The problem is in listening. In order for us to hear Him correctly, we must be listening on the right frequency, so to speak. Our hearts must be tuned in. For that to happen, we must be ready to obey whatever He commands–immediately. My girls learned early that “delayed obedience is disobedience.”

In the book, “How to Pray,” by Ronnie Floyd, he talks about the unrepentant heart:

  1. It keeps on sinning. An unrepentant person won’t do what it takes to change. He denies his sinful behavior, even justifying it.
  2. It ignores God’s convicting Spirit pertaining to sin. The unrepentant person takes his life into his own hands. He won’t wait for God to direct him.
  3. It hardens over time. An unrepentant person’s personality, countenance, behavior–everything about him changes, and I don’t mean for the better! Each time he says “no” to the Spirit makes it easier to say “no” the next time.
  4. It manages sin rather than overcoming sin. The unrepentant person is not interested in giving up his sin. The problem is, “everything in moderation” doesn’t work here. Sin destroys us. God loves us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us the way we are. If we are truly His, then He will discipline us in due time.

If we cherish sin, we cannot pray effectively. In fact, we inhibit God’s transformation of our lives into Christ’s image. Consider these verses and how they may reveal sin in our lives:

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 1 Peter 2:11 Do we see how the world indulges and retract ourselves from such behavior or do we take part in them?

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. Romans 12:3 Do we consider others ahead of ourselves or do we think down on others, even judging them and their actions?

In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, Ephesians 4:26 Do we dismiss a brother’s offense or do we hold a grudge?

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29 Do we keep a close guard on our tongues and attitudes or do we “let loose the dogs of war?”

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things. Philippians 4:8 Do we intentionally fill our minds with things that are God-honoring or do we allow the world to fill us with trash?

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Do we honor the Lord with our bodies and keep our minds clean from dishonoring other people’s bodies or do we indulge in overt and secret sexual sin?

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, Ephesians 3:20 Do we allow the Lord to work in our lives or do we shut Him out with unrepentant hearts?

Obviously, we didn’t get to Robin’s and my Brainstorm pages. I thought it prudent for us to discuss that which hinders our prayers first. I pray that you will take inventory With Him and allow Him to clear out anything that gets in the way of your prayers.

Abba, I pray that in my life You will reveal any sinful areas. Deal with them, Lord. I want to be a clean vessel for You. I want my life to bring You glory and honor. May I always stay ‘fessed up and prayed up concerning sin. Amen.

Proverbs 23 1-23-21

“End days” or not, we must plan on living a long and full life, but live like Jesus will come tomorrow–which He just might!

31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly. 32 In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.

Ordinarily, I would be talking about the unwise dangers of the excessive use of alcohol and its negative effect on nearly every area of a person’s life, but today we will use this verse to talk about “drinking the Kool-Aid.” Sinners look like they are winning in this world, but that’s the catch; this world is not permanent. There is a much bigger and longer-lasting world to which we go. It is the kingdom of God and His Son, the Messiah. One day, the two shall become one where the kingdom of this world is swallowed up by God’s kingdom.

15 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 11:15

54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:54

We are encouraged by Solomon to not envy sinners whose way is coming to an end (don’t drink the Kool-Aid), and to be zealous for the fear of the LORD. In other words, make serving the Lord Jesus our main goal. There are a few ways to become zealous:

  1. Remember– Remember back to what you were and how you were before Christ came into your life. When King David was depressed, he would think back to good days when he would go into the house of the LORD with others and worship. Psalm 42 is a great example.
  2. Focus– Focus on the things that help rather than things that are wrong or tempt us. The apostle Paul gives us a starter list in Philippians 4:8-9, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such thingsWhatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
  3. Read and meditate– Reading God’s Word helps us to know the future (God wins); it lets us know what happens to us when we die; it reveals God to us and tells us how to know Him; and it tells us how to be like Christ even while living life with Christ inside us.
  4. Pray– Talk to God as if He is always with you, which He is. The Spirit knows all about you–and loves you all the more for coming to Him for life, wisdom, joy, strength, comfort, and companionship. Jesus wants your company! Give it to Him. A good passage to read often is John 15:9-17 because it speaks of the love of the Father and of Jesus Christ for us, the fact that we are His friends, and tells us what pleases Him the most (trusting Him enough to obey Him).

If a person reads the mentioned passages (Psalm 42, Philippians 4:8-9, and John 15:9-17) each day for a week, I am confident that he would realize that zeal is a fervent desire to know and please our Lord Jesus even as it wells up inside him. Try it; I know you’ll like it.

Abba, thank You for turning my mind to these passages this morning. May I dwell on them rather than on the temporary circumstances, “the light and momentary troubles of this world.” As I remember all the blessings of being Yours, i want to stay focused on the prize, which is heaven with You, read and meditate on Your Word, and stay in conversation with You all day long. I know that I will remain zealous for the fear (the exhilaration I feel when I realize that I am with You all the time and that You are in me all the time!) of You. Keep it coming, Lord Jesus! I’m lovin’ it. Amen.

Proverbs 23 12-23-20

Give Up/Take Up. This is what Jesus did for us at Christmas and beyond. We must do the same for Him.

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

When Jesus left glory, He gave up His position beside the Father–temporarily, of course–and came and took up OUR cross so that we could have eternal life with Him. The apostle Paul stated this truth like this:

That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:19b-21

The writer of Hebrews stated this same truth:

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Lest we think that Jesus earned this position rather than returned to it, here are His words on the matter:

5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. John 17:5 and 24

When we think of “baby Jesus,” let’s remember
who He is and from where He came!

Because Jesus sits at the right hand of God and has been given all authority (Matthew 28:18), He equips us with everything we need (Hebrews 13:20-21), but not to act independently of Him (Romans 8:12-14). In fact, we have His “very great and precious promises so that through them we may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:4.

Here’s the process:

  1. We give up corruption and take up His divine nature.
  2. We give up doing things our way and take up doing things WITH HIM His way.
  3. We give up gain in this world to take up gain in His world (heaven).
  4. We give up serving Satan in this kingdom to take up serving Christ in His kingdom: Christ’s kingdom exists beyond this world, yet includes this world. Christ’s kingdom is somewhere to which we will go when we die, but at the same time is within us. Christ’s kingdom is growing in us like a mustard seed and yeast (Matthew 13:31-33); eventually, it will take over our lives as we leave this world to walk in His. His goal for us is that we give up the things of this world and take up anything and everything that grows His kingdom in us. Our perceptions change as we get glimpses of His kingdom. His truths become our truths; His ways become our ways, and we begin to look like Him. Two of my favorite verses are:

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:29

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

May we take this Christmas time to reflect on all that He has done for us and renew our pledge of fealty to Him afresh and anew.

Abba, I like those words: Conformed and Transformed. I want to be conformed and transformed with ever-increasing glory into the image of Your Son, Jesus. May we all do everything we know to make Your plan for us to become a reality sooner rather than later. Thank You for the promise that the good work that you began in us You will carry on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6) when He brings unity to all things in heaven and on earth under His reign (Ephesians 1:10). Until then, I am Your humble servant. Amen.

Proverbs 23 11-23-20

Every Word of God is applicable to our lives, either directly or indirectly. Loving it is a sign of spiritual maturity.

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

The prudent [spiritually mature] see danger and take refuge, but the simple [minded, closed to the voice of God in His Word] keep going and pay the penalty. Proverbs 22:3

The question for the day is:

How much do you know about the Kingdom of God?

Here are some verses where Jesus introduces the kingdom to us:

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come.” Matthew 4:17

But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Luke 11:20

nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” John 18:36

Why would we believe what we have learned about God, Jesus, and salvation in the Word of God and then ignore the Word of God in our daily lives? It makes much better sense to study it like crazy to know how to live this life for God’s glory! Where is your appetite? Has it been dulled by “too many sweets?” High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener used in cokes, candy, and lots of processed foods and drinks. It triggers the same brain parts as heroin and creates appetite rather than slaking it. The more we eat/drink, the more we want. It’s much like Turkish Delight (for all you Chronicles of Narnia lovers out there).

Let’s get back to the Word of God. His kingdom is within you; how much do you know about it? His kingdom is also coming with Him when He comes. How much do you know about that kingdom? Again, where is your appetite?

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

May this verse be our mantra for the day.

Abba, may You increase my desire for Your Word even as I read it. Please continue to show me insights and increase my knowledge. Knowing You and about You is my whole desire (that I know of myself today). I am confident that tomorrow, I will desire You that much more!
Bring revival to our hearts and Your church, O LORD. We’re hungry for it! Amen.