Proverbs 24 6-24-21

Let’s talk about the part of the Christian life that they may not have told you about at your conversion…

26 An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.

Full disclosure is needed before a person comes to Christ. Jesus never asks a person to receive part of Him, nor does He ask someone to follow Him part-time. We have these Scriptures to show this truth:

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:57-62

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Mark 10:21-22

In Baptist circles, most people use Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” But, did they disclose verse 11 from earlier in the chapter? It says, “In the same way [just as Christ died and now lives], count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

They may have used, Galatians 2:16, “A person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” But, did they reveal 5:16-17, which say, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Jesus doesn’t want us just to be with Him in heaven. He wants us NOW. So much so that He enters our hearts and lives with us NOW. He wants us to be like Him: holy, righteous, pure and blameless NOW. Are we ready for such news? Do we really want Him to be the actual Lord of our lives? We all still want to give in to our fleshly desires, but those who have the Spirit of God in them have a new desire that will not let us give in for long. He will teach us what it means to be crucified with Christ:

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. Galatians 2:20

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24

14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

Tomorrow, we will talk about our new person walking with the Spirit. In the meantime, let’s put our flesh on the cross; I promise you it fits!

Abba, I don’t like the pain of the cross, nor do I like dying to self, but I desire even more to be just like You. I want to act like You and think like You, and the only way to do that is to die to self and live for You, Jesus. Make Yourself known to me; teach me what You like and dislike; instruct me in how to overcome sinful habits. Sanctify me, Lord, and then glorify me so that You are glorified. I’m Yours. Amen.

Proverbs 24 5-24-21

Being teachable is important for Christians. Making ourselves available to Him is vital for growth and the avoidance of evil.

3 By wisdom a house [life] is built, and through understanding it is established; 4 through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.
5 A wise man has great power and a man of knowledge increases strength; 6 for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers.

For daily living, we need:

  1. The wisdom of God;
  2. The understanding of His will and His ways;
  3. The knowledge from Scripture and experience.

The experience I’m talking about is that which comes from walking in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). Our knowledge base increases as we go along (mostly good, sometimes bad; all experiences learning ones). The more we know, the better we understand of God’s will and what He is doing in and with the world. We begin to get a godly perspective, which is what wisdom is:

Wisdom is seeing things from God’s perspective.

The strength talked about in verse 5 is what we gain through wisdom. Our faith is based upon what Jesus reveals to us. He reveals Himself to us in His Word. The more we know, the better we can know Him. But, it’s more than just knowledge. We must ask Him what He means as we read. We must talk with other Christians about what He has revealed to them and what they have learned through the years (experience). We must strive to see from His perspective.

Much of our war is against our own flesh. Satan has influence (fiery darts), but he cannot touch us. The helmet of salvation is basically our knowledge of God’s Plan, His promises according to His Word, and our experience; the breastplate of righteousness is our understanding of what righteousness is and living by it; the other pieces of armor fall under these two categories see (Ephesians 6:10-18).

The wisdom of God is available to us on a personal basis. Consider Him your Personal Trainer in righteousness.

Abba, I need You to teach me righteousness. I want to be an empty vessel that You fill with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. May I stay teachable. Amen.

Proverbs 24 4-24-21

What we think determines our perception, which determines our feelings, which determines our actions. Think biblically.

27 Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.

Yesterday, we looked at verses that spoke to our mastery of our bodies. Today, we will look at Mastering Our Minds. As was stated in the opening sentence, what we think determines how we perceive what is going on around us. We either react, which allows our circumstances to drive our feelings, or we respond with predetermined thought processes that give us (limited) control over how we feel. We act out of our feelings, so we need to get our thought processes right!

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

The big question is, how do we renew the attitude of our minds? That answer lies in the following verse:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

So, according to this verse, we are to:

  1. Reject the status quo of this world.
  2. We transform our minds by renewing them.
  3. With transformed/renewed minds, we can determine what God’s will is.
  4. His will is good, pleasing to Him, and perfectly fitted to His overall Plan.

But, we still haven’t discovered how to do this renewal thing. Let’s keep digging:

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

Christ is our example:

  1. Christ gave His life for His bride, the church.
  2. His purpose was to make her holy even as God is holy. We are clothed in His righteousness.
  3. He cleanses her by washing her with the water through His Word, the Scriptures.
  4. By washing in the water of His Word, we become holy and presentable as His church, His radiant Bride.

The enemy would love nothing more than to keep you from being washed by Jesus in the water of the Word of God. When we read, though we often don’t fully understand it, His Spirit speaks to our spirits. We learn acceptance of His commands and obedience to His voice. The old song that says, “We will understand it by and by,” is exactly right. Whether this side of heaven or the other, we will eventually understand God’s instruction, His motive, His game plan, and His never-ending love for us.

How do I know what I have just told you? I have read His Word and studied what it means long enough to get a broader perspective of it. I have been washed by Jesus in the water of His Word. Also, I have discussed the Scriptures with people older and certainly wiser than I. I have experienced enough of life to get a hint of God’s driving factor: His everlasting love for humanity–actually, for all of His creation. Want to become wise? Read His Word and allow Him to whisper truth to you. Then, act upon what He has said to you. It really is that simple! You, too, will be washed by Jesus in the water of His Word.

Abba, thank You for speaking to me through Your Word. It really is alive with Your Spirit! Use it to cut through my feelings and get to my thoughts. Lay them bare before You and help me to align them with Your character (which means that I’ll be getting rid of a bunch, and tweaking a lot more). I answer to You and You alone, O LORD. Amen. (This prayer is based upon Hebrews 4:12-13, “The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword [scalpel], piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”)

Proverbs 24 3-24-21

Are we being honest with Jesus? with ourselves? He knows our hearts whether we mean what we say or not.

26 An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.

The next three parables were an indictment to the religious establishment. They show the thoughts and intents of the leaders’ hearts, which was not about serving the Lord, but about serving themselves at the people’s expense. Let’s study the first one.

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind [regretted-NASB, repented-KJV] and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. Matthew 21:28-32

  1. I like the way Jesus began by inviting His listeners to give their opinion. He was in classic Teacher mode.
  2. The first son said that he would not go, but then repented and went. Jesus’ first sermon was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” Matthew 4:17. This son did the will of the Father by repenting and trusting in the Son in order to gain the kingdom of heaven.
  3. The second son said he would go, but then didn’t. We can surmise that Jesus was referring to the religious leaders. The work was to prepare the people for the coming Messiah. Believing in Him was crucial to pleasing God. The religious leaders were all about pleasing God according to the Law–as long as it met their own agenda, which was control of the people and the treasury. In order to stay in control, they had to work with the Roman government. Being obedient to Roman law was one thing, but using their influence and connections to wield power–especially against Jesus–was quite another matter. They didn’t want a Messiah; they wanted to remain in their positions of leadership and power.
  4. In a sense, both sons said “no:” one with his words and the other with his deeds. Both needed to repent, which was Jesus’ point.
  5. “Ahead of you” – Jesus was still talking to the chief priests and the elders of the people from verse 23. He didn’t pull any punches, did He? They wouldn’t answer Him about John the Baptist, so He called them on it: “John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him” v.32. Wow! They would have done better to have answered Jesus and taken their lumps from the people. They were exposed either way!

I wonder what it was like to see the change in tax collectors and prostitutes after they were baptized by John the Baptist, and then to believe in Jesus as Messiah according to John the Baptist’s testimony in John 1:29. How about us? Are we different since we were baptized for believing in Jesus? In order to be like the first son, we must repent of anything that is not in keeping with the leadership of the Holy Spirit (Jesus) in our lives. How do we discern what these things are? By listening to His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:10-18, Isaiah 30:21), reading His Word (Psalm 19:7-11), and then listening again.

Let’s be about the Father’s business today.

Abba, since You called me, I have sought to do Your will–except for those two years in Junior High where I got off-course–and to learn all I can from Your Word. Having a repentant heart is good for me; help me to keep it. May I treasure Your Word as more precious than pure gold and honey from the honeycomb; “by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward,” (Psalm 19:7-11) which is knowing You and partnering with You. You lead; I’ll follow. Amen.

Proverbs 24 2-24-21

The only way for a church body to have unity is for all to have the mind of Christ. His Spirit links us together.

3 By[God’s] wisdom [His] house [Church] is built, and through [His] understanding it is established; through [His] knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

Unity does not mean uniformity. Oneness does not mean sameness. We collectively look beyond individual wants, needs, perspectives, knowledge and experiences to Christ’s will for His Church. Coming to that realization takes a lot of prayer and fasting–the kind of fasting where we fast from demanding our own way, from indulging ourselves in our own opinion, from seeking our will over the will of the group; that kind of fasting. Let’s look at some more from Robin’s and my Brainstorm pages:

Kelly– The purpose of prayer is unity of the mind.

  • We seek the same goal, which is Christ’s will in each matter.
  • We give preference to each other as we seek Christ’s will.
  • We lift each other up to the Lord for wisdom, discernment and understanding of His will.

Robin– Why do we pray? (continued from Monday)

  • To confess and repent of what is keeping us from being fully committed to Him (see yesterday’s post). If we don’t know what, or how, then pray, “reveal any offensive way in me and lead me in Your Way everlasting” (Psalm 139:24).
  • To express gratitude for the endless list of blessings He gives us daily! The most important ones are that we belong to Him and that He is with us 24/7!
  • To lift up others:
    • for a specific need;
    • to be used to bring glory to God;
    • that they be able to discern God’s hand;
    • to see evidences of His Spirit among them;
    • to be used to draw their loved ones and care givers into a (deeper) relationship with God;
    • to experience and tell others about God’s power, participation, provision, presence and peace in their lives;
    • for needs to be revealed so that the body of Christ can minister specifically;
    • for strongholds to be revealed, recognized and demolished;
    • for deceptions to be revealed and replaced with truth so people may be set free;
    • to pray all these things over “lost people” including the “do whatever it takes to draw them close to Your side” prayer.

What becomes obvious is that praying for health is okay, but it’s at the surface of a deep pool. There is SO MUCH MORE for which to pray than simple health. Consider this: If God chooses to use a person—with the person’s willingness—to be put in a specific place with specific resources and with a specific message for one specific person and/or event, then we can trust that He will keep the person in exactly the health he needs in order to be in that place and have those resources in order to deliver that message to that one person and/or event. This scenario includes mission fields, work places, and even hospitals–plus a whole lot more.

May we seek to be where He wants us, when He wants us there, and in the frame of mind to do His will while we are there.

Abba, we are Your extensions. May we be Your hands and feet, Your voice and Your ears to a lost and hurting world. We are Your ambassadors, so call the world to Yourself through us. We are Your humble servants. Amen.

Proverbs 24 1-24-21

God’s Word gives us many advisors, but the Author is the Holy Spirit. In fact, we can confidently say, “Word=Spirit.”

5 The wise prevail through great power, and those who have knowledge muster their strength. 6 Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.

It’s the old “if A=B and B=C, then A=C” formula.”

  • The Word of God is truth- “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:17
  • The Spirit is truth- “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever; 17 the Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17
  • The Word and the Spirit are one- “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take from Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; this is why I said that He takes from Mine and will disclose it to you.” John 16:13-15. The Greek word for “word” here is “logos,” the same one used in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God.”

When we read His Word, the Spirit speaks to us reminding us of everything the Lord has said; He moves in our hearts with the same power that spoke planets into being and stars into space. In fact, once we read His words, they are in our minds, so He speaks them to us and moves them to our hearts–if we let Him. Our hearts must be fertile soil.

This morning or sometime today, let’s spend time reading our Bibles and allowing the Spirit to speak to us. Let us be mindful of what He says and be intentional about committing to do all that He tells us. He delights to share His truth with us.

Abba, one of my favorite passages says that You enjoy hiding knowledge and then leading us to that knowledge (Proverbs 25:2). What I must remember is the passage in Isaiah 55:8-9 where it says that Your ways are higher than our ways and Your thoughts higher than our thoughts. I cannot begin to comprehend all there is in Your Word! And, why would I think that You would entrust me with such knowledge? At the same time, You encourage us to ask, seek, and knock. May we praise You today for Your greatness and vastness, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 24 12-24-20

What was it that was so important for Jesus to come to earth to tell us? He left GLORY for us! What was/is His message?

5 The wise prevail through [His] great power, and those who have knowledge [of Him] muster their strength [in Him]. 6 Surely you need guidance to wage war [against our flesh and Satan and his army], and victory is won through many advisors [or, the Great Advisor, the Holy Spirit; we also have many advisors in the Bible].

As soon as Jesus was baptized and had spent time in the desert, He began His ministry. His sermon was simple, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near [or, is at hand].” Matthew 4:17. I believe that Jesus was referring to Himself. He IS the kingdom of heaven! Wherever He is, there the kingdom is. I base this conclusion on Luke 17:20-22:

20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” 22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.

The Pharisees–and, therefore, the people–were looking for the Messiah to bring liberation to the nation of Israel, but in an outward form, much like Moses and Joshua did. In fact, “Jesus” is a form of the name, Joshua, which means, “Savior.” It is “Yeshua.” Jesus set them straight on the matter. He said that they would not be able to observe it physically; that being said, since Christ Himself is the kingdom of God, they WERE observing it physically, but they didn’t recognize it. John tells us in John 1:10-11 that “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. 11 He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.”

In verse 22, I believe that Jesus is making reference to His being with them. There must have been a sense of specialness around Jesus, an air of holiness. Indeed, once He was crucified, everything changed! Basically, Jesus made it possible for Him, via the Holy Spirit, to take up residence in our hearts and lives, thus bringing the kingdom of God with Him. Those who have Christ have the kingdom of God WITHIN them! But, since the Pharisees were looking for a different kind of Messiah, they missed Yeshua Ha-Mashiach (Jesus the Messiah). Would that they had repented and come to Jesus!

Tomorrow, we look at the first part of Jesus’ sermon: “Repent.” A strange topic for Christmas Day? I think not! The Shepherds came humbly, and so did the Magi. We do, too.

May we recognize and accept that the kingdom of God is within us. We look forward to the joining of the kingdom within us with the kingdom of Christ where He reigns (Revelation 11:15).

Abba, thank You for such a great plan to come and live in each of us. WOW! May we never get over the awesomeness and specialness of having You in us to walk with us and to counsel us as we navigate through the physical world. Keep us aware of Your presence; keep us aware that this world as we know it is NOT PERMANENT. You WILL come again and restore everything to its original state (Matthew 19:28). Until then, our hope is in You, Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 24 11-24-20

Again, if we trust the Word of God to be saved, why not trust it to tell us how to know Him and be like Him?

3 By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; 4 through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

We tend to think of the Bible as a book that was inspired by God and written by men. Technically, this view is true, but it’s much more than that. The inspiration is the very breath of God–the same breath that breathed life into man. This breath is transcendent of time and breathes on us as we read His words. God converses with us using the words that He inspired men to write!

As I read this chapter of Proverbs, I am taken by this passage:

13 Eat honey, my son [child], for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. 14 Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

Where did Solomon learn this kind of word picture? From his Dad!

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103

Yet, they were inspired by God Himself. HE is the Father speaking to His sons and daughters. Don’t you want your heavenly Father to speak these encouraging words to you? Then, learn His words, His commands, His precepts and decrees. We have this promise from Peter (who got it from Isaiah 40:6-8), “the grass withers and the flowers fall [fade], but the word of the Lord endures forever.” 1 Peter 1:24b-25

There is a warning at the end of today’s chapter. It is what happens to a person’s life if he neglects learning the commands of his LORD:

33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest–34 and [spiritual] poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity [the ability to know the right thing and power to do the right thing] like an armed man.

Jesus has much to teach us and show us if we are willing to take the time to listen, look, and turn our thoughts away from ourselves and pay attention. The same LORD who saved you calls you to walk with Him in obedience. His FIRST directive is to learn all you can about what He has already said. Let’s get to reading!

Abba, the more I learn from Your Word, the more I realize there is SO MUCH to learn! I really believe that we will be learning about You, Your grace, and Your universe for eternity. Starting now is the only smart thing to do. It’s the WISE thing to do! I want to taste and see that the LORD is good;” I want to take refuge in You and Your word. Amen.

Proverbs 24 10-24-20

Want your life to be beautiful to others? To God? To your LORD? Spend time with Him in His Word.

Proverbs 24:3-4 (NIV)

By wisdom a house is built,

and through understanding it is established;

through knowledge its rooms are filled

with rare and beautiful treasures.

We receive wisdom, understanding and knowledge from the Spirit, but unless we want a life-altering (and terrifying) experience like the prophets of old when they encountered the LORD in person, we can read His Word and “hear” His voice just fine. The key is to avail ourselves to Him through the Scriptures.

What we DON’T want is for verse seven to be said of us, “Wisdom is too high for fools; in the assembly at the gate they must not [had better not] open their mouths.” At which point, 17:28 becomes true for them, “Even fools are thought to be wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”

Let’s be wise in the LORD today, spending time with Him in His glorious Word. We will be wise, understanding, and knowledgeable today for it.

Abba, thank You for calling me this morning to get up and read Your Word. You always have an important and timely message for me, even if it’s just how much You love me. I receive that! I love You, too. Amen.

Proverbs 24 9-24-20

Do we really want to be transformed? Or, do we like ourselves just the way we are? The answer is critical to salvation.

13 Eat honey, my son, for it is good;
    honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.
14 Know also that wisdom is like honey for you:
    If you find it, there is a future hope for you,
    and your hope will not be cut off.

Honey has been used for millennia as a sweetener of foods. Likewise, salt has been used to flavor foods. Have you ever considered how salt is made? As a side note, the chemical reaction needed to create the vast salt lakes and veins was a result of the Great Flood. Here is a description of the process:

“Common table salt, also known as sodium chloride, is an interesting chemical compound because, while it is commonly consumed by humans, when you separate its elements—sodium and chlorine—you are left with something quite different from the edible seasoning known as salt.
The components of salt are sodium and chlorine, both of which are harmful for human consumption and even contact. Sodium requires great care when being handled. If it comes into contact with water, the reaction can be flammable, while powdered sodium has the potential to be combustible (explosive) in oxygen or air. Chlorine, meanwhile, is an extremely caustic and dangerous substance.” Everyday Compound or Poison?

One interesting thing is that when the two elements are introduced to each other, the sodium ignites and transforms into salt. The other interesting thing is that chlorine is used as a cleanser, particularly in pools. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that we are the sodium and the Holy Spirit is the chlorine. We are a dangerous substance on our own, but when combined with the Spirit of God, we become a useful, safe, and beneficial–and much preferred–product.

Which leads to our next point: The “pleroma,” which is Greek for “the Filling.” We find it in Ephesians 1:22-23,

22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness [pleroma] of him who fills everything in every way.

We have the pleroma of Christ when we allow Christ to come into our lives, cleanse us of our sin, and remake us into new creations. The implication is that we are prepared to be “done away with” as we are. Many people are not. They want forgiveness of sins, but they do NOT want to be transformed. If one would watch the demonstration in Making Table Salt, he would find that one does not come without the other.

In a sense, the fire that results from the mixing of the two elements is the continuing transformation of us into the image of Christ. It is this daily transformation that either repulses the lost or attracts the lost, and sometimes both. Either way, our transformation is what the Spirit uses to initiate conviction in a lost person’s life.

May we be willing parties to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit as God shapes us into the image of His Son, Yeshua Ha’ Mashiach (Jesus the Messiah). Let’s be salt today (Matthew 5:13).

Abba, I want to be just like Jesus. I know that You are making me to be like Him. May I allow Your Spirit to transform me daily–even the tough parts of my life of which I don’t want to let  go. Help me work through the daily struggle of my feelings. My higher desire is to be obedient and godly; help me attain that goal in spite of myself. May I “put off the old self, which is being corrupted by evil desires,” and “put on the new self, created to be like God in righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22, 24). I can–with Your MAJOR help. Let’s do it. Amen.

Take My Life (Passion ’93)

Purify My Heart (Touch Me With Your Cleansing Fire)

Proverbs 24 8-24-20

Why would God save us and make us His, but not remove our sin nature? Why make us work for godliness?

1 Don’t envy evil people or desire their company. 2 For their hearts plot violence, and their words always stir up trouble.
19 Don’t fret because of evildoers; don’t envy the wicked. 20 For evil people have no future; the light of the wicked will be snuffed out.

God wants people who want Him. Jesus “gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:14. In order for us to have free will to choose Him when He came to us extending salvation to us, He had to allow us to continue to choose Him as long as we are on this earth. Our saving grace is the Holy Spirit who lives in us giving us both the desire and the power to do His will (Philippians 2:13). Robin calls it the “want-to to want to.” I call it “our higher desire.”

Today, we will put off the low desires of our sinful nature and put on the higher desires of our spiritual nature:

  1. Entitlement –> Selflessness
  2. Pride –> Abandonment
  3. Pride –> Humility
  4. Impatience –> Kindness
  5. Selfishness –> Self-denial
  6. Sloth (laziness) –> Diligence
  7. Anger –> Compassion
  8. Lust –> Pure thoughts
  9. Spite –> Forgiveness
  10. Rage –> Gentleness
  11. Hate –> Love
  12. Gluttony –> Temperance (moderation)

Daunting, isn’t it? Only the Spirit can give us what we need to accomplish this task. His grace is available for the asking! The benefits of working with Jesus on these areas of our lives are:

  1. A certain satisfaction; it’s the right kind of gratification. We can “hear” the Spirit say, “Well done!”
  2. Fellowship with God–it’s the very reason for our salvation! In His presence we receive His love, His joy, His peace, and His hope for what is to come.
  3. Fellowship with others enhanced
  4. Influence increased –> Aroma (people can smell Christ on us–interesting concept, right?)
  5. Ability to hear the Holy Spirit more clearly
  6. Knowledge and experience (experiential knowledge) increased
  7. Moral authority: Believability; our stance brings conviction to wrong-doers
  8. More opportunities to be witnesses for Him

It doesn’t matter to us anymore that people think we are “Jesus Freaks” (to use a phrase from the Jesus movement in the 70’s). We hope to change their minds as Jesus changes their hearts!

Let’s be about the Father’s business today, which is aligning ourselves with Him and His Plan, making ourselves available for His use. WOW! What a calling!

Abba, You are the BEST BOSS! I love working for You. Your benefit plan is out of this world! Not only that, I get to experience You here on this earth, too. May I allow Your Spirit to have His way in my life. May I heed the direction of Jesus as He leads me along the straight and narrow path. May I allow Your Spirit to empower me to be righteous, holy, blameless, and zealous for You. Lead on, my King! Amen.

Proverbs 24 7-24-20

Christ says, “Want to be like Me? Then…” As His disciples, we walk with Him and learn to be just like Him.

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

Paul gives the Romans a pretty specific picture in Romans 12 of how to be like Christ in culture. He begins with our goal:

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

He then moves to stating how to show Christ and be Christ to others in their culture. It’s interesting that his strategy works well in our culture, too! Here’s how we can let the light of Christ shine through us:

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Compassion might be a better term for us. It’s seeing people through God’s eyes: Deceived, dying/dead, and in need of the Savior.

10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. The NIV says, “Honor one another above yourselves.” Easy to say, hard to do. It takes dying to ourselves each day–sometimes many times a day–to achieve this goal. We must allow Christ to love through us. Those around us are blessed and we get the benefit of having and feeling His love flow through us!

11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Laziness is selfishness. See Proverbs 18 7-18-20 

12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. These commands are imperative action verbs. We are to do them continuously.

13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Let’s look for opportunities to help with our hands, with resources, with a listening ear; let’s be available with our time, our talents, our finances, and our hearts.

14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Here’s where compassion comes in. See them through God’s eyes. We knew persecution was coming when we signed up-if not, then someone didn’t share with you the whole truth!

15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Let’s be sensitive to others. Why are they happy? Rejoice with them. Why do they weep? Feel their pain; encourage them; instruct and correct if necessary, but in time. Grief is a process. Don’t rush it.

16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Wow! I think the LORD knows us all too well! Humility is taking the lower seat at the banquet table. See Luke 14:8-11.

17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. This command is Christianity 401. It’s the most difficult one and also the most public one. We can die fulfilling this command! It is the most graphic way to show Christ to an unbelieving world.

18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. We are to ingratiate ourselves with everyone we meet, especially those who live around us, but always in a truthful and Christ-honoring way. “Peace at all costs” is NOT biblical. HIS peace at HIS cost is.

19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Deuteronomy 32:35  Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Proverbs 25:21-22  Reiterated and amplified from verse 14.

21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. We could easily have begun with this verse. It sums up the entire passage and our entire daily life. We conquer evil in this world by being obedient to the Holy Spirit and responding in love. We may lose possessions, money, jobs, and even our lives, but God uses our testimony to reach the hearts of unbelievers. Do you REALLY want to be like Christ? He gave His life so that we could be united with the Father. We must be willing to do the same.

Our Motto:
FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST

Abba, I take my own words and apply them to my life. May I be willing to live each moment crucified to myself and living for You. May I always be on the lookout for ways to promote You to the world around me. Give me opportunities to be You to others, both in Your family and in the world. Whatever it takes, LORD. For Your sake. Amen.

 

Proverbs 24 6-24-20

Before reading this post, read 1 John 1:1-2:2 out of your real Bible. Then, ask this question: Am I hiding any sin?

A wise man is full of strength,
    and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
    and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

We have an abundance of counselors right in our hands! All the writers of the books of the Bible have collaborated by the guidance and instruction of the Holy Spirit to bring us wisdom, understanding and knowledge (verses 3-4). Let’s look at what John said in his letter to Christians of his day while he was incarcerated.

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life 

For a description of the “word of life,” we go to John 1 and read verses 1-18.

  1. The Word was God
  2. In Him was life and light
  3. He came into the world, but the world did not recognize Him
  4. Those who did He gave the right to become children of God
  5. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us
  6. Full of grace and truth
  7. He has seen the Father because HE IS GOD

the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 

Jesus made the Gospel plain to John, who has made it plain to us. There are at least 11 “tests” in this letter concerning our faith.

that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

We are the church, the Bride, the brotherhood shared in Christ.

And we are writing these things so that (y)our joy may be complete.

To know Jesus is to know JOY.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 

In the words of the writer of Hebrews, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:3). Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, says, The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17). If we know the Son, then we know the Father (John 14:9).

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 

Doing what Jesus said is how we show our love for Him and that we walk in His light (John 14:23).

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 

It is an eternal cleansing. His blood was on the altar before the creation of the world (Revelation 13:8) and cleansed Isaiah’s mouth (Isaiah 6:7) 700 years before His death!

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 

Jesus came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Otherwise, He died for nothing (Galatians 2:21). Our relationship with the Father is safe, but the fellowship is broken. The next verse applies to both cases, but in different ways: One unto salvation; the other unto restored fellowship.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Paul quoted Deuteronomy 30:14 when giving his instructions in Romans 10 on how to be saved,But what does it say? ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’  that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Romans 10:8-10).

2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Jesus is our ADVOCATE! We need no other person, set of rules or anything. We are in Christ!

May the LORD impress upon you the importance of hiding His Word in your heart instead of sin. Sin destroys us! The “sword of the Spirit which is the word of God” is our main weapon against the enemy and his evil schemes, traps, and hidden snares.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would not hide sin in their heart, but confess it to You and then enjoy sweet fellowship with You. May they become hungry for Your Word. Make it like honey in their mouths and sweetness to their souls. May they learn in order to teach, O God. Make us harvesters for You. Amen.

Don’t forget to read Proverbs 24 today!

Proverbs 24 5-24-20

Synthesis is the combining of two elements to make a whole new creation. When Christ combines with us, we are new creations!

3 By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; 4 through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

I think that we Christians get the “new creation” thing. We are not as we once were: Dead in our sins and in the Enemy’s camp. But now, we are alive in Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:1-5). What I DON’T think we get is WHY. What is God up to with saving us?

I propose that the Holy Spirit and I make up a new spiritual being. There is a synthesis that happens when we join up. More than that, the person I am becoming is a new creation fashioned not by just the Spirit, but by Him and me working together. He and I synthesize to make a new being with new thoughts, new good deeds, new songs, new inventions, new relationships, new creations, etc.

Consider our passage:

  1. We are building a new house. Is it finished, yet? NO! He and I are still working on it.
  2. Is He making me aware of what we are doing? YES! I am finally understanding what He is up to in me.
  3. It is this knowledge that allows me to see the rooms in my life that are filled with rare and beautiful treasures and to perceive them for what they really are: Our creations.

God loves us as individuals. He wants to join with us individually as we live our lives to cooperate together with Him in the making of something new, which is us. Now, I see everything I read and study in the light of His Word (including fiction, articles, and anything else I read), every thought and every word that is tempered by the awareness of His presence, every song I write, every prayer I pray, every note I sing or play with Him in mind, every lesson I post or teach, and even my interaction with other people–again, in the awareness of His presence–as acts of creation that are important parts of the process of me becoming this new creation. It is the development of what we do together with Him that makes the Christian life so exciting! And, this creating process will go on forever in greater and greater glory to God! (see 2 Corinthians 3:18 “ever-increasing glory”)

Want to know why you’re special to God? Because you are unique, and your uniqueness combined with His God-hood sends sparks shooting through the heavens. You and He are creating a NEW YOU, and it is marvelous in His eyes. He delights in our uniqueness.

14 I thank you because I am awesomely made,
wonderfully; your works are wonders —
I know this very well. Psalm 139:14

We have discussed the fact that we are now alive in Christ Jesus and seated with Him in the heavenly realms, but for what purpose? What are we to do? Here’s the rest of the story as told by the Complete Jewish Bible:

10 For we are of God’s making, created in union with the Messiah Yeshua for a life of good actions already prepared by God for us to do.

These “good actions” that He has prepared for us are the recipe for a new creation, which is us. It’s the only thing that God cannot do Himself (as soon as He does, we have lost our “synthesis;” we must work together or it can’t be done). It is why God gave us free will so that we can choose to work with Him. He is the GOD OF CREATION. He loves to create, and that is exactly what He wants to do with us.

Let’s not look at ourselves as “barely saved” and only tolerated by a holy God. Rather, let’s look at ourselves as gloriously saved, and rejoiced over by our heavenly Father. I love this next verse:

17 Adonai your God is right there with you,
as a Mighty Savior.
He will rejoice over you and be glad,
he will be silent in his love,
he will shout over you with joy.”

The NIV ends with, “He will rejoice over you with singing.” Either way we have these promises:

  1. He is with us,
  2. He is our Mighty Savior (NIV says “Mighty Warrior”),
  3. He rejoices over us and is glad–glad of what? that we are His!
  4. NO MORE CONDEMNATION!!! (see Romans 8:1-2)
  5. He will shout/sing over us with joy!

Abba, when I consider all that You have done for me and are doing to/for me, my soul breaks into thanksgiving and praise! It makes me want to do more together with You–RIGHT NOW!!! To think that this prayer is being converted by the Holy Spirit into a one-of-a-kind prayer that only He and I can make for You…WOW! May you make me aware of more and more of what You are creating in me, through me, and with me. “For from You and through You and for You are all things; to You be the glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:36 adapted).

Proverbs 24 4-24-20

Being vulnerable without being gullible is a mature Christian trait. It’s a difficult one to achieve and much greater to maintain.

10 If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!

Of course, the verse is talking about spiritual strength, even our faith. Our faith is built on our knowledge of the Lord: What do we know about Him? What is He up to? What have we walked through with Him before? Are we walking with Him now? These questions give us handles onto which to grab hold. Let’s look at them:

  1. What do we know about Christ? One great synopsis is given in Hebrews 1:1-3, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 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 had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” We know Him by His position as King of kings and Lord of lords (Philippians 2:11, Revelation 19:16). We have God’s promise that everything will be brought under His rule (Psalm 110:1, Hebrews 1:13). We can trust Jesus to have everything in hand. Nothing gets by Him.
  2. What is Jesus up to? Jesus is bringing all things together under His lordship. He is unifying all things and reconciling all things to Himself (Ephesians 1:9-10, Colossians 1:19-20). He is giving every person a chance to believe on Him and trust in Him (2 Peter 3:9). When that time is up, THEN He will come.
  3. What have we walked through with Him before? Our experiences with Christ throughout our lives build our faith. Even the times where we failed to trust Him can build our faith if we learn from the experiences. Remembering back to solid times, joyous times, helps us keep current rocky times in perspective. David used this technique: My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. 5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:3-5. 
  4. Are we walking with Him now? If a person is experiencing fear and anxiety about present circumstances, my first question is, “Are you spending time with God in His Word?” Only JESUS can give us a proper perspective of current events. Only JESUS can give us hope in times of crisis (Psalm 73:16-17). Is Satan winning? It may look like it, but we know the end of the story! Our Savior, our Messiah, is COMING SOON and His reward and judgement are with Him (Revelation 22:12).

Take courage, my brothers and sisters, for we are in good hands, His hands. How do I know? Because Jesus told me so:

27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand [a double-fisted grip!]. 30 I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30

Let’s dig deep into His Word and hide it in our hearts. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Him as we await His imminent Return. Let’s encourage our friends and raise our children and grandchildren to do the same. It won’t be long…

Lord Jesus, You are coming soon! Thank You for the signs that You give us, with Israel coming back as a nation being a big one! As time marches forward, may we be diligent in our disciplines (pray, study, share) and get more and more excited. “Aslan is on the move!” I’m loving it! Amen.

Proverbs 24 2-24-20

PC – Putting God’s Commands first in our lives. Are we willing to risk it?

24 Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,” will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations. 25 But it will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come on them.

Political correctness is simply another way of capitulating to the enemy. He would have us muzzle our mouths concerning sin. But, God calls us to:

10 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. 12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay everyone according to what they have done?

There are many gray areas in politics, but there are two areas that are black and white:

One is ABORTION. Abortion is likened to bowing down to the god of Molek:

“‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord. Leviticus 18:21

I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. Lev. 20:3

They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molek, though I never commanded—nor did it enter my mind—that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin. Jeremiah 32:35

As with any sin, God forgives, and we as His ambassadors are to lead the repentant ones into a new life with Christ, one of forgiveness, peace, and hope.

The other is ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLES. God is pretty clear:

Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. Leviticus 18:22

Lest we get the idea that Old Testament law doesn’t apply anymore since the New Testament was initiated, we need only look at Romans 1 where we find that:

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

We, on the other hand, are to call people back to the TRUTH about God, about Jesus and His forgiveness, and the hope of salvation through the cross of Christ. Here is where a confusing passage of Scripture comes into play:

Do not answer a fool [mocker- one who is wise in his own eyes] according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.
Answer a fool [either doesn’t know any better, or is acting on feelings] according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. Proverbs 26:4-5

Before talking to someone about these subjects, we must determine if that person is a mocker or simply a fool. The mocker we are to have nothing to do with, but there is hope for a fool. We must pray and ask God to reveal to us what to do and what to say–if anything.

To me, these two subjects are deal-breakers concerning candidates for office. If they are lenient on either of these subjects, I cannot support them. The words, “defiled,” “profaned,” “detestable,” “shameful,” unnatural,” and “fool,” are great indicators about what kind of leaders they will be. They are following the wrong god. So, I pray for them that God will reveal Himself to them and that they will turn from their sin–any sin, all sin–and turn to Him for forgiveness and life (just like we did). How should we pray for them?

  1. Pray first that their minds and hearts would be open to God’s plan. They must move from the “mocker” stage to the “fool” stage.
  2. Pray for conviction of sin: that they see the damage their sin is causing to them and to others; that they sense the Holy Spirit’s call on their life to give up and give in.
  3. Pray a hedge of protection around them so that outside influences will be hindered from swaying them away from God.

Are we going to make a difference in this world? The only way to make the RIGHT difference is through prayer and obedience to the Holy Spirit. Let’s pledge ourselves anew to the God of the Universe to follow Him and allow Him to love people through us.

Abba, I know that these topics are touchy. But, sin is sin. It is all detestable to you. Yet, rather than destroying us–or allowing sin to destroy us–You came and paid the penalty for our sin. WOW! Thank You, Jesus! I owe You my life. Use me in any way, shape or form You choose to reach others for You, teach others Your way, and show Your love to a hurting world. Amen.

 

Proverbs 24 1-24-20

Living holy and godly lives is our goal. The Spirit inside us gives us both the desire and the power to do it!

1Do not envy the wicked,
    do not desire their company;
for their hearts plot violence,
    and their lips talk about making trouble.

By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures.

 

Let’s rephrase these verses:

1 People whose hearts plot violence and their lips talk about making trouble are NOT trying to be like God (godly), 2 therefore, do not envy them or even hang around them, lest you become like them.

3 Our spiritual houses are built within us by having and using wisdom [seeing from God’s perspective as He makes it known to us]; we are established in righteousness through understanding God’s love, God’s plan, and God’s participation in our lives; the more we learn, the more He lavishes on us!

If our goal is, indeed, to be like Christ, knowing that the Spirit wants to recreate Christ in us, to mold us and shape us into His image, to transform us into His likeness, then we will be about the Father’s business.

What IS the Father’s business for us? TO KNOW CHRIST. Our Christianity is a Fellow-ship as well as a Follow-ship. Following Christ from a distance defeats the purpose of the relationship. He wants to walk so closely with us that we cannot tell the difference between us and Him: His words sound like our words in our minds and hearts; His desires are communicated as action points for us–but not to do in our own power, nor by ourselves, but with Him and in His power as He makes it available to us!

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:10-13

  1. No one knows when the LORD is coming.
  2. He will remake everything! All will be as it was in the beginning before the Fall–with a few exceptions: Christ’s throne will be in Jerusalem and we will be with Him.
  3. The makeover will be intense, but just that: a makeover!
  4. Righteousness will be the order of the day!

WOW! What promises! Let’s get excited about what Christ is going to do and get on board with Him! Let’s “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:12

Abba, may my focus be on You today as I go about my day. The mundane is never boring when I am fellowshipping with You. May my follow-ship be one that includes getting to know You better and better, deeper and deeper, richer and richer, O LORD. Amen.

 

 

 

Proverbs 24 12-24-19

In preparing for the future, are we preparing for the right thing? How do we even know what that right thing is?

27 Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.

God set a great example for us as we studied yesterday in that He prepared the world for the Coming of the Messiah. “When everything was ready, Jesus came…” Gal. 4:4. Let’s continue looking at His Coming today as we prepare for tomorrow, which is the celebration of the INCARNATION: When God came to earth in the form of a man. 

Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Jesus gave up His position as Co-Ruler of the Universe with all its glory and majesty. He emptied Himself of heaven and began human life as a baby, completely dependent upon the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength–just like us.

One of my favorite verses is John 17:24, which says, “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.” THIS is what Jesus left to come to us. He wants US to experience it with Him!

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Jesus’ sole purpose of coming to earth in the manner He did was to redeem mankind. How did He know? Let’s follow the logic:

  1. Jesus is the Word-John 1:1
  2. Jesus is the power behind the creation of the heavens and the earth-Genesis 1:3, Hebrews 1:2-3
  3. Jesus is the Author of the Word of God-Psalm 33:6-9, Revelation 19:13
  4. His Word prophesies about His own Coming:
    1. Genesis 3:15–Gal. 4:4“Seed of a Woman”
    2. Genesis 18:18–Acts 3:25“Promised seed of Abraham”
    3. Genesis 49:10–Luke 3:33“Promised seed of Jacob”
    4. Isaiah 9:7–Mt. 1:1“Heir to the throne of David”
    5. Micah 5:2–Mt. 2:1 “Place of birth”
    6. Daniel 9:25–Lu. 2:1-2 “Time of birth”
    7. Isaiah 7:14–Mt. 1:18 “Born of a virgin”
    8. Jeremiah 31:15–Mt. 2:16 “Massacre of infants”

As a side note, the statistical probability of these prophecies happening by chance are 10 to the 21st power, or 1 with 22 zeroes! Add to that 33 prophecies He fulfilled in 24 hours from the time He was in the Garden of Gethsemane to His death on the cross, and we have a statistical impossibility. Plus, there are many more prophecies that He fulfilled in His lifetime along with His resurrection! The Bible truly is a miracle book!

All that to say that Jesus knew why He was coming and what was in His future. Back to Philippians 2:

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.

Jesus is back on His throne!

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. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:19b-23

Why do we celebrate Christmas? Because Jesus came to rescue us by paying the penalty for our sin. We worship Him because He is on His throne, both in heaven and in our hearts.

Abba, I worship You today and look forward to seeing You in your glory. May I never lose the wonder and awe of the Advent even as I look forward to Easter. Bless my readers, Lord, with that same wonder and awe. Amen.

Lord, I lift Your name on high; Lord, I love to sing Your praises;

I’m so glad You’re in my life; I’m so glad You came to save us.

You came from heaven to earth to show the way,

From the earth to the cross my debt to pay,

From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky,

Lord, I lift Your name on high!

Proverbs 24 11-24-19

How is your vineyard today? Have you been taking care of it? Though we are saved by grace, there is work to do.

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.

We are smart when we learn from experience; we are wise when we learn from other people’s experience. Let’s take a lesson from the sluggard in this story and consider our spiritual lives as the vineyard. What happened to this man’s spiritual life?

Answer: He didn’t take care of it.

How about us? How well do we maintain our “garden”? Is salvation the only thing there is until we go to heaven? Granted, we are saved by grace and not by works. I ran across this verse in my reading: “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” Romans 3:28. At the same time, we are told to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12b. How so? We work our salvation (that which is already done for us) from the inside out. The Spirit is inside us, so let’s learn to show Him on the outside by becoming transparent. The more we align ourselves with the LORD, the clearer people see Him through us.

What in your life is keeping you from being transparent? Give it to Jesus and allow Him to deal with it. He may take it away; He may shape it a bit differently; He may even transform it into a powerful spiritual tool. It’s all up to Him, but it’s up to you to give it to Him. It’s all part of our spiritual sanctification–our transformation into the image of Christ. It’s how we take care of our garden. In fact, giving Jesus our lives is a daily thing, not unto salvation, but unto transformation.

Want to get the most out of your salvation? Walk with him and talk with Him; learn from Him and worship Him. It’s all about the relationship.

Abba, a lot of times I don’t know what You’re saying to me, but I do know that just being with You is enough in those times. May I continue to sense Your presence as I walk through each day. I know that You speak to my heart and my heart can hear. I look forward to the day when I can hear You plainly. Until then, I will follow You as best I can, mistakes and all. Help me keep my vineyard shipshape, LORD. Amen.

I pray that you will have a grand worship experience in church today.

Proverbs 24 10-24-19

Relationships require maintenance. A quick checkup of yourself goes a long way.

27 Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.

I have always taken this verse to heart concerning priorities. It makes sense to make sure that we have a steady income before we go spending it. I am thinking that we may be able to apply this verse to our daily walk, as well. Here are some questions we can ask ourselves:

  1. Who do I want to please today? If it’s the LORD, then good. If I am feeling selfish and self-centered, I need to rebuke those feelings and ask the Spirit to fill me with His Presence and His desires.
  2. Have I taken time to read God’s Word? What we don’t understand is just how important His words are to our lives. They impart life; it’s like eating, only spiritually. We are wired to receive nourishment several times a day. We are wired to feed on His words in the same way. Note cards, phone reminders, sticky notes, etc. go a long way in giving us “snacks” during the day.
  3. Am I okay with those who are close to me? If we went to bed last night with hard feelings or unresolved issues between someone we love, then we need to pray hard about fixing those problems before a root of bitterness sets in, either in us or in them.

The danger of NOT asking ourselves questions like these everyday is given to us in the last verses of this chapter:

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.

One day skipped leads to two occasionally, which leads to three, which leads to more days skipped than applied. Before we realize it, our “vineyard” is in a shambles. We “forget” that we have an enemy. That wall of protection is to keep the “varmints” out. The pruning God does in our lives is to make us more productive. Weeding is just part of the daily process while in this world.

Today, let’s spend time with the Father enjoying His presence, participation, and sweet fellowship. Let’s ask ourselves these questions and be in the best shape spiritually we can possibly be today.

Abba, I ask these questions of myself today. May I take my own medicine and apply them to my daily life–today! I once again give my life to You for You “to have and to hold,” to do with as You will. I am Yours. I love You and I KNOW You love me! Amen.

“…and find out what pleases the Lord.” Ephesians 5:10

Proverbs 24 9-24-19

Being made in God’s image has its advantages and its disadvantages. Judging others is definitely a downside.

Whoever plots evil will be known as a schemer. The schemes of folly are sin, and people detest a mocker.

Most of us don’t consider ourselves as plotters of evil. While we don’t sit around devising schemes to steal money or kill someone, there is another form of evil that tends to infiltrate our thoughts. When we do ANYTHING that is NOT SPIRIT-DRIVEN, we are acting in our own power and our own will. We deny the Spirit’s authority in our lives and we miss His way. We may have cleaned up our actions, but our thoughts betray how far we have to go in being like Jesus.

Jesus spelled it out to us in Matthew 7,

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Here’s the thing: What is God working on in a person’s life? His past? His upbringing? His habits? His attitude? His thoughts? His words? His deeds? In other words, we don’t know. Sometimes, they don’t even know. Add to this predicament difficult circumstances and we wonder what God is doing!

We must remember that:

  1. God is sovereign, which means that He is always in control. We will NEVER fall through the cracks concerning Him and His concern for us.
  2. God created the natural laws and we live according to them. He works within those natural laws (in other words, we all die) and rarely circumvents them. He WILL work everything according to His will concerning people’s salvation, but not necessarily for our physical benefit. It usually has to do with influence and witness. In fact, He may even use our deaths to reach others for Christ. Are we willing to go there with Him?
  3. He is much more concerned with our walk with Him than us living a perfect life. We must remember that it’s all about the relationship!

When we get impatient with other brothers and sisters in Christ, we are imposing expectations* on God and them. We expect God to work on the same things in their lives that He is working on in ours. WE CANNOT DO THAT. He may be doing a much deeper work in them, in which case our expectation is unwarranted. If we persist in our judgement of them, we are into sin. In fact, we border on becoming a mocker, which has all kinds of consequences,

God opposes [takes up a boxer’s stance against] the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Proverbs 3:34 and James 4:6

The LORD detests the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. Proverbs 16:5

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

Penalties are prepared for mockers, and beatings for the backs of fools. Proverbs 19:29

One of the main reasons for learning to not be judgemental is the fall-out. When our expectations are not met, then we become angry, disappointed, callous, spiteful, and eventually bitter. We shut out those people who “don’t measure up.” We hold them in contempt and speak unkindly about them and even to them. We become the very thing for which we hold them in judgement, which is unChristlikeness.

Here’s what Paul instructs us to do when we find ourselves standing in judgement of others:

(30) Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (31) [How?] Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling [fighting, both physical and verbal] and slander, along with every form of malice. Ephesians 4:30-31

That’s the removal; here’s the replacement:

(29) 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. (32) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:29, 32

How do we go about actually doing these things? We allow the Spirit to do it FOR us. We ask Him to flush out all ungodly thoughts and feelings. We ask Him to replace them with the joy of our salvation, the peace that He bestows upon His children, and to teach us to love as He loves, which means seeing others as He sees us: His precious children who are being groomed to reign with Him. Let’s get started today, shall we?

Abba, I pray that TODAY we might have victory in our lives concerning judgemental attitudes and having expectations of others. I’ll be first, LORD. I confess to being impatient and a bit harsh (unfiltered words) with someone(s) in my flock. I will apologize. Help me to be patient and long-suffering with them as they work through a life’s worth of history as You call them forward and upward. I pray that my brothers and sisters in Christ will have your own attitude with each other. May we be Christ to each other, LORD. Amen.

*There are three kinds of negative expectations:

  1. Unspoken-We expect the other person to intuitively know what we want.
  2. Unrealistic-What we are expecting is not logical or attainable.
  3. Unmet-We don’t get what we want–or expect–so we get angry, impatient, etc.