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.

Proverbs 23 10-23-20

The Father is concerned with what is in our hearts. Are we as concerned as He is?

Proverbs 23:15-16 (NIV)

My son, if your heart is wise,

then my heart will be glad;

my inmost being will rejoice

when your lips speak what is right.

To know on what our LORD placed a high value, let’s look at Matthew 15:17-20,

“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’”

Jesus is much more concerned with what comes out of our mouths than we realize. Our words reveal our hearts. Let’s take time today—many times today—to have Him cleanse us of unclean thoughts. Let’s take time this morning to wash our minds with the water of the Word. Let’s allow Him to transform our minds and to give us righteous thoughts. HE WILL!

Abba, May we take as seriously as You our thoughts and words. I know that our deeds will follow. Amen.

Proverbs 23 9-23-20

Great peace comes from having nothing to hide. Do you have anything you are hiding from others? from the LORD?

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners [or sinful ways], but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD [holding Him in high esteem]. 18 There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off [ because of sinful ways].

“You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” – Abraham Lincoln.

Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! Luke 12:3

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:7-9

Great peace also comes to those who do not lie because he doesn’t have to remember what he said, but relies on the truth, which does not change.

Great peace comes, as well, to those who complete their duties. Waking up in a panic over something left undone is a poor way to live.

What is your motivation for doing good? Is it to please the Father? Then, what is your motivation for pleasing Him? Salvation? Gratitude? Piety (see how good I am)? I pray that it’s gratitude for all Christ has done for us! We have about as much to do with our salvation as a person does in having his appendix out. The patient signs a consent form and then wakes up after the surgery is done. It’s the same with salvation! We give God the go-ahead and then Christ enters our lives and takes up residence; the Holy Spirit replaces our cold, stony hearts with a brand new, living heart; we are born again! He gives us a new love. He does it all for us!

With the Spirit comes new desires. One of these desires is to please the Father. Our “fear of the LORD” is in knowing that He can send us to hell–but He won’t because of the blood of Christ. God loves us because we love His Son, His One and only Son.

Today, as often as you think about it, tell God the Father, “Thank You for my LORD Jesus.” You will feel His love, peace and joy wash down over you. It’s a great feeling not having to worry about what God thinks of us!

Abba, thank You for my LORD Jesus. I am grateful for the salvation I have in Him. Thank You for the presence of Your Holy Spirit in my life. May I become increasingly aware of Him. May He coach me in godliness and righteousness. Make me to be JUST LIKE JESUS. Amen.

Proverbs 23 8-23-20

Can we succinctly state what we believe? If someone asked you, could you tell him why you are a Christian?

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.

A few weeks ago, I wrote in my post what I believed concerning my faith in Jesus Christ and what it means to me to be a Christian (Proverbs 7-29-20). I would like for each of us to do the same so that when the time comes that someone asks us, we will be able to state our beliefs succinctly and plainly without any “churchy terminology.” Here is the outline of what I did:

  1. Begin with “I Am a Christian.”
    1. A categoric phrase about who you are in Christ
    2. What you believe about Jesus Christ and His mission
    3. Restate “I Am a Christian.”
  2. The Holy Spirit
    1. A statement about the Holy Spirit’s role in your life
    2. Something you believe that the Holy Spirit does/is doing in you
    3. Restate “I Am a Christian.”
  3. The Transformation
    1. A statement that God is making you to be like Him
    2. Something you believe about God and His goodness and/or being like God or Jesus
    3. Restate “I Am a Christian.”
  4. Daily Living
    1. A statement about what and who guides your life
    2. Something you believe about His divine power in us
    3. Restate “I Am a Christian.”
  5. The Importance of the Gospel
    1. A statement that sums up what you are willing to do or give up for God, Jesus, and/or the Gospel
    2. Something you believe about living and dying for Jesus
    3. End with “I Am a Christian.”

As I worked on the memorization of my personal manifesto, I found out that because it was in my own words, it was much easier to recall. Also, I have found myself “fleshing them out” a bit each time I go over them. In your written copy, include as many verses as you can to support your statements, but don’t try to memorize those with your manifesto–that’s not the point. Whoever you are telling will probably not care what the verses are, and if they do, then you can call up your original (take a picture of it so you will have it on your phone) and show him.

How important is this project? That depends upon what you think the future holds. Do you think that you will ever be asked what you believe? Or be offered something that is immoral or unethical and you are asked to explain why you refuse it? Do you ever need reminding of what you believe? It sure helps me to restate it out loud or in my mind!

All I ask is that you start. Open the NOTE feature on your phone and start jotting down ideas. Once you have several, then you can start grouping them and rephrasing them to fit the outline. Your personal manifesto is yours, but you might have someone check it for biblical accuracy. It’s important to get it right if we are going to share it with others. Another thing that might help is to copy the outline and create another “note” for easier reference.

May God’s grace be upon you as you undertake this endeavor.

Abba, I pray for all who accept this challenge. May You give them clarity of mind, plenty of information, and a desire to let You lead them in this endeavor. I also ask that You give them plenty of opportunities to share it. May it become part of us, LORD, and how we share our faith.

Looking forward to worshiping You with my brothers and sisters. May You inhabit the praises of Your people today. Amen.

P.S. I sure would like a copy of your manifesto…
P.P.S. Don’t be shy. It’s not bragging.
P.P.P.S. I would love to help you with the project if you so desire. You may even use mine as a pattern. Go to Proverbs 7-29-20. It’s in the middle of the post.

Proverbs 23 7-23-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 23 6-23-20

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

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

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

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

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

<read them from your own Bible>

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

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

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

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

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

 

Proverbs 23 5-23-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 23 4-23-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Proverbs 23 3-23-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 Do not speak wisdom to fools…

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

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

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

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

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

27 Stay away from a (morally) loose woman.

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

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

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

Proverbs 23 2-23-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 23 1-23-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 23 12-23-19

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

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

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

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

What happened next? Timeline of Israel

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

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

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

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