Proverbs 24 11-24-22

No one can run so far that God will not come looking for us, finding us, freeing us, healing us, and then carrying us home with Him.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.” Luke 15:4-6

As we continue our study of love, today we look at the steadfast love of the Lord,

Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
    test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
    and I walk in your faithfulness.
Psalm 26:2-3

“Steadfast,” “faithful” and “unfailing” are all synonyms. In fact, let’s read this passage from the NIV,

Test me, Lord, and try me,
    examine my heart and my mind;
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
    and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

David wasn’t afraid to have God examine his heart. Why not? I believe it is because he knew that God already knew what was in his heart–and loved him anyway! It’s a great truth for us to know. David was determined to do things God’s way, all the while trusting in the Lord to give him the desire and the power to see it through no matter how many times it took. Here is what James had to say on the matter of steadfastness,

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Paul said something similar,

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

And Peter did, too,

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness [perseverance], and steadfastness [perseverance] with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8

Peter would not have asked us to do something that was impossible. Granted, it is impossible to do it on our own and in our own power. We were never designed like that; we were designed to partner with the Holy Spirit in everything. It is in His strength and by His guidance that we “increase in these qualities.”

We can walk steadfastly because God walks with us steadfastly. He knows our hearts and guides us accordingly. We can trust Him. Let’s ask Him everything; there’s nothing too small or insignificant. If we get into the habit of checking with the Lord for small things, we will automatically check with Him for big things. And, we have this promise, ““One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much (Luke 16:10). One more verse:

13 if we are faithless,
    he remains faithful,
    for he cannot disown himself [deny His own nature].

2 Timothy 2:13

Abba, we love You all the more because of Your faithfulness to us. Even when we don’t earn it or deserve it, “Faithful” is who You are. In fact, Your name is “Faithful and True” (Revelation 19:11). In our quest to be like You, may we be more determined than ever to be faithful to Your call on our lives. Amen.

Proverbs 24 10-24-22

Salvation; who needs it. Come to find out, we ALL do!

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Hebrews 4:7

From yesterday:

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

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

There are several questions that arise from this verse.

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

We found that the answer to question #1 is, Yes, we all need to be saved–but, from what or whom? That is the question we will answer today.

The “what” is pretty simple. The answer is “sin.” What is sin? It is disobedience. Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden by disobeying God’s command to not eat of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Have you ever wondered why God would make such a command? To test them? I don’t think so. I believe that the tree was meant for later. They were still very young spiritually when they sinned, and then sin became a drug, which led to addiction for us all. Let’s read about it:

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved [addicted] by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. Titus 3:3

We must admit that we are ruled by our passions. How we feel dictates what we say and do, and even think! Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Jesus picks up where we got off-track in the Garden. He gives us the desire and the power to do His will, which is to allow the Spirit to guide us rather than being guided by how we feel. I call it “the higher desire.” Robin calls it, “the want-to to want to.”

There is also someone to whom we are enslaved. That would be Satan,

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedientAll of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh [feelings] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. Ephesians 2:1-3

Jesus came to break the hold that Satan had on us, which is death and the fear of it,

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery [addiction] by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15

One of my favorite passages is 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. It motivates me to live for Christ,

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

Jesus conquered death for us and freed us from the fear of it. He comes to live in us and gives us the desire and the power to follow Him and His leadership in our lives. Why wouldn’t we “no longer live for ourselves” and live for Him?

Abba, I am SOOOOOO grateful You rescued me! Thank You for dying for me and then rising from the dead so that I do not have to fear death anymore. You are AWESOME. Amen.

Proverbs 24 9-24-22

Christians don’t have to be pacifists. But, our war is more on the spiritual side than the physical side.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

We are nearing the end of our study of the Baptist Faith & Message. Today, we look at:

XVI. Peace and War

It is the duty of Christians to seek peace with all men on principles of righteousness. In accordance with the spirit and teachings of Christ they should do all in their power to put an end to war.
The true remedy for the war spirit is the gospel of our Lord. The supreme need of the world is the acceptance of His teachings in all the affairs of men and nations, and the practical application of His law of love. Christian people throughout the world should pray for the reign of the Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 2:4Matthew 5:9,38-486:3326:52Luke 22:36,38Romans 12:18-1913:1-714:19Hebrews 12:14James 4:1-2.

The key to this article is the phrase, “The true remedy for the war spirit is the gospel of our Lord.” Nothing was mentioned about Christians being soldiers, nor was anything mentioned about self-defense or physical protection of families. This article was purposely written with a broad brush so that each person can work out the specifics between him and the Lord. We must not judge another’s servant based upon our own conscience and conviction (1 Corinthians 10:29, Romans 14:4).

In case you were wondering, many soldiers in the Roman army were Christians, and they used their influence to bring many other soldiers to Christ. For interesting reading, go to earlychurchhistory.org.

I look forward to the day when every soldier beats his sword into a plowshare and his spear into a pruning hook (Isaiah 2:4).

Abba, may that Day come in Your time. I know You are filling the earth with Your Church. One day, she will be complete and You will come back to establish Your kingdom fully here on earth. I look forward to that Day. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Proverbs 24 8-24-22

The human body and a rocket that takes astronauts to the space station have something in common: Master Design.

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

Both the human body and the rocket are incredibly designed and built. How weird would it be for the astronaut to say, ” This rocket built itself,” and then ride it to the space station? Case in point is the index finger. The other day, I had you hold out your pointer finger and move it left and right. Let’s do it again, only this time fold it up close to your hand; now, stretch it out and make it go up and down. These motions involve muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood flow, skin, and lots of nerves. From, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body,” pages 81-84.

Seven muscles are required to control the index finger. The lumbrical muscle, unlike most muscles that attach to bone, connects a tendon near the front of the index finger to a phenomenally complex shroud of delicate tendons and related tissues. This muscle serves two main functions: extending and retracting the finger in coordination with the other muscles.

As the lumbrical muscle contracts, it reduces the tension on the long flexor tendon, while the lumbrical muscle simultaneously pulls on a ligament at the side of the finger, extending the finger (figure 2). Several other muscles and tendons help control the positions of the finger bones. Consider the two long extensor muscle-tendon units. They split into three separate tendons over the first bone of the finger (Figure 3). The side tendons then shift above or below the second joint of the finger, depending on the degree to which the finger must be curled (or “flexed”).

Yet these tendons cannot straighten the finger by themselves. They need the simultaneous action of four other muscles, two in the palm of your hand, and two located in the forearm. Without all these muscles working together, the finger bones would quickly become malpositioned and nonfunctional. A wonderfully integrated relationship between muscles is required to bring about this desired motion.

Other finger motions require a different symphony of muscle movements. For instance, try shifting your finger sideways and forward, as though you are typing the letter y. The muscles interact in very different ways than when you type u, but the motion can be just as smooth. The number of potential finger positions is virtually unlimited. If each of the seven muscles is capable of assuming one hundred different positions (and this is a conservative estimate), then the possible combinations would be about 100 trillion. Yet our index finger can attain all of these positions with ease [probably while I was typing this post!].

I think I am making a very “pointed” case for Irreducible Complexity. I have a new respect for surgeons who can reconnect severed fingers and make them work again. From now on, I will not take for granted the ability to play the guitar, saxophone, or piano. Our bodies praise the Creator even if we do not. Let’s make sure that we give credit where credit is due: To our heavenly Father!

Abba, the stars are majestic, but pointing to the stars brings that majesty down to earth, right where we live! May we see You in every part of our body, in the structures around us, in our world, and in our universe. Jesus, all things were created in You and through You, both in heaven and on earth, and in You all things hold together (Colossians 1:16-17). We praise You, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Amen.

Proverbs 24 7-24-22

The concept of God living in us is mind-blowing. How could He do such a thing? WHY would He do such a thing?

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

God loves His children. He created us to love Him. But, in order for us to freely love Him, He gave us free will. Mankind was led astray, but God pursued us. He even came to earth as a human in order to win us back. More than that, He has made a way for Him to fellowship with us permanently!

One of my favorite verses is Colossians 1:27, which says,

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.

There are four parts to this verse. Let’s look at them.

  1. The Gentiles were now included in the family of God. This was big news–a joy to the Gentiles, but a bitter pill for many Israelis. The leadership had spent centuries keeping themselves apart from the Gentile nations even though their original mission was to proselytize them (Deuteronomy 4:5-8). God was getting back to His original plan.
  2. This mystery was hidden from everyone except a few (the prophets). Why? For the same reason that Jesus kept it from His disciples and the rest of Israel. He had a mission to complete and He couldn’t do it if they knew His motive. Jesus demonstrated God’s (His) love for us by dying on the cross–and then rising again. It is through His resurrection that we have new life!
  3. Christ in us–this is the clincher. The concept of God living in us, forgiving us, guiding us, and equipping us is mind-blowing!
  4. The hope of glory–We walk with Jesus until the day we die. On that day, our hope of eternal life with Him is realized. Hear it from Jesus, “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 17:24). This promise is ours, and to all who trust Jesus with their lives.

Since I am not a Jew, this verse is very good news for me. Tomorrow, we will look at the next two verses. They, too, are very special to me.

Abba, thank You for such a wonderful verse that reveals our part in Your glorious mystery, the mystery of salvation for everyone. May we share it gladly every chance we get. Amen.

Proverbs 25 6-25-22

The biggest hurdle for many in believing in God is the problem of human suffering–at the hands of other humans.

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. 22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals [of conviction] on his head, and the LORD will reward you.

Yesterday, we had confirmed that God is not One of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), but is the God of peace, and thus does not bring punishment upon mankind through natural disasters. Today in part two, we delve into the question of why He allows human suffering at the hands of other humans. But, before we do, let’s establish some parameters for our discussion:

  1. We will not sit in the Judge’s seat. It is not our place to “judge the Judge.” He is not on trial. He is God and we are not; let’s remember our place.
  2. We see from a very limited perspective, so we must be open to other perspectives, provided they line up with Jesus.
  3. Jesus saves us sometimes from the fire, sometimes in the fire, and always through the fire. (See Proverbs 18 6-18-21).
  4. With God, it’s always about relationship, not deeds, not long life, not accomplishments, not wealth, etc. It’s all about connecting with us.

With these things in mind, here we go.

26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image and likeness. Genesis 1:26a

We are made in God’s image. This includes the ability to choose. With great privilege comes great responsibility. Mankind chose poorly, but God was prepared. He knew we would and does not hold our poor choices against us (see Romans 3:25, 11:32, Hebrews 2:14-15, 4:14-16). Even so, our poor decisions affect others; they have to deal with the consequences of other people’s bad choices. We do, too. It’s been going on like this since Adam and Eve. In order for mankind to have Choice, God gave us complete Choice. Therefore, when people make poor decisions concerning the enslavement of other people, the hurting or taking advantage of other people, those people must deal with the consequences of those poor choices.

It is at this point that we remember that it’s all about relationship, so God comes alongside those sufferers and asks them to trust Him. He also comes alongside those who have made the poor choices and asks them the same thing. Jesus will walk both groups out of their consequences and into His kingdom of light IF they will listen to Him. Is it fair? What’s “fair?” Would you be willing to go through what you’ve been through to know Jesus on an intimate level? Paul said it this way,

10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! Philippians 3:10-11

The resurrection from the dead is what we will talk about tomorrow. For today, here are some questions to answer:

  1. Do you love Jesus?
  2. What was the main reason you “got saved?” To gain heaven? To miss hell? or to know Christ?
  3. Are you allowing Jesus to walk with you through your current circumstances?

Abba, when it comes down to it, we must choose You because You are You. Just the privilege to know You personally is enough! But, to be exalted to sonship–that’s incomprehensible! Keep opening our minds, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 24

We think of “ransom” as being money given in exchange for someone who has been kidnapped. Not so in Jesus’ time.

18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous,
    and the unfaithful for the upright (OT thinking).

or,
The wicked are ransomed and become the righteous,
and the unfaithful become the upright (NT thinking).

I learned something yesterday. I learned that to ransom something in biblical days meant that a person assumed the debt of another person. In Jesus’ case, He then forgave it. Let’s read Matthew 20:25-28,

25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The forgiveness part comes in Matthew 26:28,

28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus ransomed us and then forgave us. It sounds like He did it only for specific people, but Paul clarified who was ransomed in 1 Timothy 2:5-6,

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.

He also used the term, “redemption,” which has a similar meaning. It means, “to buy back.” Paul says in Titus 2:14,

Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

In a sense, we were “recalled” from wickedness. Now, we are being purified as Jesus’ people. Pretty cool, huh?

Jubilee was a happy time for Israel. It happened every 50 years. During this time, all lands went back to the original families. It was like everyone returning to “GO” in monopoly and turning in all your houses and hotels. When Jesus declared that Jubilee had come (He did this when He read Isaiah 61:1-3a and then applied it to Himself in Luke 4:18-21), He was declaring that He was about to redeem mankind from wickedness. He would pay the ransom and assume our debt–and then forgive it. WOW! Consider this:

Christ ‘gave his life as a ransom.’ But to whom?
Not to God, for God is not the slave-holder.
Not to Satan, for God owes Satan nothing.
Not to the Law, for mercy trumps Law (James 2:13).
Jesus ransoms us from death, paying with his life.
But Christ owed death nothing either, and so conquers it.*

Abba, the more I read about what You have done for us, the more I fall in love with You. You wanted us back! Not only that, You pursue those who are Yours (which is everyone) with an everlasting love and a never-ending mercy. Truly, Your Church will fill the whole earth eventually. This is, indeed, good news! Amen.

*Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike God, page 245

Proverbs 24 4-24-22

Having to be right all the time is a sign of immaturity. Respecting someone else’s opinion is a sign of maturity.

18:17 In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines.

As we look at the Concrete Operational Stage of Development (ages 7-11), we find that Jean Piaget was pretty accurate in his conclusions.

While children are still very concrete and literal in their thinking at this point in development, they become much more adept at using logic. The egocentrism of the previous stage begins to disappear as kids become better at thinking about how other people might view a situation.
While thinking becomes much more logical during the concrete operational state, it can also be very rigid. Kids at this point in development tend to struggle with abstract and hypothetical concepts.
During this stage, children also become less egocentric and begin to think about how other people might think and feel. Kids in the concrete operational stage also begin to understand that their thoughts are unique to them and that not everyone else necessarily shares their thoughts, feelings, and opinions.

This maturity is also seen on a spiritual level. Respecting someone else’s opinion, even when we don’t agree, is something that takes maturity. Sometimes, we color our lines a little too darkly on matters that are not as clear as we would like for them to be. Maturity says, “Let’s hold loosely to anything other than what we know beyond a shadow of a doubt.” What do we know beyond a shadow of a doubt?

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scripturesand that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15

Everything else is subject to perspective. I love what the apostle Paul wrote concerning God’s wondrous plan:

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!

34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Abba, I praise You for so great a salvation, one that is far above my understanding. At the same time, it’s so simple: You love me, You rescued me, and now You live in me. May I have plenty of opportunities to share my story. Amen.

Proverbs 24 3-24-22

Knowing God is not as difficult as it may seem. He is God and He wants to know us. Doesn’t that make it easier?

3 By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures [God provides all three for us!].

in 1 Corinthians 2:9-13:

However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

This quote is from Isaiah, who lived 700 years before Christ. He got a glimpse of the coming Christ, but we get to experience Him first-hand because of the Spirit of God who lives within us. The Spirit provides the wisdom, understanding and knowledge it takes for us to build godly temples for the Lord.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 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.

How can we discern the Spirit’s voice? Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;” we discern when the Spirit is speaking to us versus our own thoughts or when the evil one is whispering to us. It is critical that we know the types of things the Spirit will say to us and what the Spirit won’t say because the devil “is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

There are two things that are very clear:

  1. God will never speak to you in negative generalities, such as, “You are a loser.” “You’ll never be good enough.” “Oh, you messed up! Shame on you!” These are lies from the evil one.
  2. God speaks to us in specifics and encouragement, such as, “Let me help you in this area.” “You are mine and I love you.” “This is what I want you to join Me in doing next…”

We will look more closely at hearing His voice tomorrow. For today, focus on what our heavenly Father WILL say to us.

Abba, thank You for being such a loving Father. Many people do not have a good role model of what a loving father is, but I do. Thank You for my dad and his shining example of a loving father. May You reveal to everyone how much You love them and desire a personal, ongoing relationship with them. Help us to hear You clearly, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 24 2-24-22

Perversion- Aberration, corruption, twisted from its original purpose. Satan does this all the time–and we believe him!

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

In order to give us free will, God gave us complete free will. We make all our own decisions–not to say that God is not in overall control of our lives and therefore the universe. He is the One who choses to whom we belong, where we are born and in what time period. Still, throughout the day and every day of our lives, we make decisions. Although we were never intended to make these decisions on our own, but rather with God, Satan deceived Eve and successfully tempted Adam to believe him and rebel against the Father. In doing so, sin darkened our eyes and we could no longer see the Father clearly, if at all. We were enslaved by our own desires and learned to pervert everything, especially our emotions. Let’s look at some of this perversion:

Humility and goodness—>Entitlement, pride, vanity
Kindness—>Impatience
Compassion and gentleness—>Anger, rage
Self-control, love and pure thoughts—>Lust
Faithfulness and forgiveness—>Hate, spite
Temperance—>Gluttony
Submission—>Rebellion

The good news is that the Father loves us and had “bound us all over to disobedience so that He could have mercy on us all” (Romans 11:32). His Spirit is now permanently embedded in us so that we never walk alone again! Having seen His light and responding to it, we now peer intently into the face of Christ and are renewed, transformed, and conformed into His image in ever-increasing glory.

The only hiccup in the process is our free will; we still must choose godliness and righteousness over what we have all known, perversion. Any one of these perversions mentioned above tempts us to turn away from the face of Christ and back to darkness, but we were designed to be like Him, so we choose to ignore any different voice that temps us to not trust God. Besides, we’ve been to the dark side and we don’t want to go back!

Here are some encouragements that we know the Father is saying to us:

  • “Choose to believe what I am saying in your heart is true.”
  • “Trust Me when I say that your sins are forgiven.”
  • “Turn to Me and I will receive you with much rejoicing and great pleasure!”
  • If you want to know my peace, turn everything over to Me: every decision, feeling, answer, perception, thought, word and deed, and allow me via my Spirit to lead you.”

It is this daily communion with us that our Father craves. Do we? The point of salvation is to be joined with the Fellowship of the Trinity:

“He who has the Father has the Son” (1 John 2:23 adapted).
“He who has the Son has life” (1 John 5:12).
“The Spirit gives life” (John 6:63).
“God has given us eternal life [in the new age], and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11).

Abba, writing the truths on this page was easy; living them is hard. If I could see You with my eyes and feel You with my hands–but I see You with my mind and feel You with my heart, which is actually better for me because my faith in You is tested every day. But I KNOW You called me to be Yours, and I rest in that knowledge. My foundation is on the Rock of Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! Amen.

Proverbs 24 1-24-22

The purpose of Jesus’ coming was so we could be close friends with God. Sounds crazy, huh?

13 My son, eat honey, for it is good,
    and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
    if you find it, there will be a future,
    and your hope will not be cut off.

In Romans 5:12-21, Paul takes the idea of Jesus as our Representative and fills it out,

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man [Adam], much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

We see how Paul connects Adam with Jesus, both as representatives of humankind. He goes on to explain,

18 Therefore, as one trespass [eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness [dying for us on the cross] leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass [make it obvious], but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might [now] reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

There is a key verse with which we will deal more significantly later, but I want to mention right now, because it sums up what God was doing with Adam and Jesus,

32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
Romans 11:32

The deed is done! As the psalmist said in Psalm 22:31, “He has done it.” Death has been defeated, sin has been taken away, and life is offered to all who will receive it. Salvation doesn’t get any plainer–and sweeter–than that!

One might think that because our sins are forgiven that we can continue in sin with impunity. Not So! Why would we want to? Sin destroys us! It’s the very thing that we realize when coming to Christ. We will deal with this subject tomorrow. Today, we rejoice in our plain and sweet salvation!

Abba, thank you for such a simple, but profound, salvation. You have done all the work! All we have to do is believe and entrust our lives to you. It floors me that you want a relationship with us; the God of the universe wants us as his friend! WOW!!! You are interested in being in our lives. May I run every decision by you, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 24 12-24-21

Jesus’ heart was never to condemn, but to show mercy. One of His favorite quotes was, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13, 12:7).

11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.

As we continue in Matthew 23, there are actually a couple of verses in 22 that need mentioning. they are Matthew 22:23 and 41,

23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him…

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together…

The Sadducees and Pharisees made up the ruling class of priests, of which were the scribes and teachers of the law. They were all there that day in the temple area (26:55) when Jesus gave His stern reprimand to them. Jesus gave this reason right up front,

13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

It’s one thing to personally choose not to trust Jesus, but it’s quite another to deliberately fight against other people coming to Him. It looks like Jesus was angry and was lashing out, but we cannot impose human character upon God,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts… Isaiah 55:8-9

For one thing, after this rebuke, we know that Jesus included them in His lament for Jerusalem and in His prayer of forgiveness on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:32). How do I know this to be true? It’s in verse 7 of Isaiah 55,

Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

Jesus lists many abuses and false teachings in verses 13-36, but He still seeks their repentance, and forgives their sin of killing Him even as He forgave our sin–two millennia before we were born! Jesus’ heart showed through that day as He lamented over Jerusalem in verses 37-39. We can hear the heartbreak in Jesus’ voice as He said, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing.” Jesus didn’t cause His own death, nor did He cause the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Yet, they both happened just like Scripture and Jesus said they would.

What is evident in this chapter is the heart of Jesus. He came to reveal the Father to us and to establish a new way of looking at things–more than that, He came to establish a kingdom and to fill it with followers! Our primary job is to follow Jesus and love the Father/Son/Spirit with all our heart, soul, mind, and with all our strength. Our secondary job is to love our neighbor by modeling Christ and introducing our neighbors to Jesus as they become interested in the fellowship we have with the Trinity.

Tomorrow, we will discuss what modeling Christ looks like.

Abba, thank You for Your forgiveness. Your mercy and grace are as high as the heavens above. You have separated me from my sin as far as the east is from the west. What You have done for me You have done for everyone. May I share this great news with those whom You point out to me. Amen.    

Proverbs 24 11-24-21

The English language is confusing. We have so many idioms (figures of speech). Our Bibles reflect this truth.

3 By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

The mind and the heart cannot be separated. In fact, the heart is the amplifier of the mind; it distills our thoughts and focuses our feelings; it gives flight to our intentions and reveals our greatest desires. It is because of this fusion between the heart and mind that 1 John 5:1 is true:

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.

Belief leads to faith which leads to trust. We choose to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, our Christ, and that He is God incarnate. Because we believe, we trust what He says and leads us to do. This process is called faith. By faith, we follow Christ. This faith was borne out of our believing Jesus and then trusting Jesus enough to obey Him. Let’s read verse 2:

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.

Since we are all in Christ (which means that we have been invited to share in the fellowship of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, we love those whom God loves. And, our obedience attests to that fact.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

How we show our love for God is by keeping His commandments. And John knows because He heard Jesus say, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.

Forget about sin; it’s been forgiven. Desist in trying to please Jesus; you are already pleasing to Him. His yoke is easy and His burden is light! He wants us to begin right now to believe He has taken care of everything and simply wants us to quit looking at darkness and look to His light. He wants us to join Him in the fellowship of the Trinity. Once we begin this journey, we will never go back! We may stumble along the way, but Jesus will help us back up–usually through the hands of His followers–and get us back on track again.

The Christian life truly is simple:
Believe, trust, obey. Repeat.
That’s it.

Abba, thank You for removing my sin and separating it from me as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12). Your sacrifice on the cross was sufficient to take my sin (and the consequences of that sin) to the grave. Thank You for taking great delight in Your son (me). You love me, care for me, and keep me in Your love. You include me in the fellowship of the Trinity; may You continue to open my mind to more wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Your grace is sufficient for everything! Amen.

Proverbs 24 10-24-21

To really know something, we need to study it. Plumbing the depths of our salvation blows my mind!

3 By wisdom a house is built [foundation], and through understanding it is established [framework], 4 through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures [study and experience].

I begin with Psalms 139:23-24 and 73:23-26, and then I move to verses on mastering the mind and the body. This next passage helps me to focus on the future; I hold loosely to the things of this world and tightly to the promises we have:

For we groan while we are in this tent, since we are weighed down, because we do not want to be unclothed, but clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment. Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord— for we live by faith, not by sight. Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:4-8

When studying a new passage, it is wise to look at any footnotes that appear in whatever version we are using. This particular version, the New English Translation, includes several Greek definitions for us:

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:4 sn See the note in 5:1 on the phrase the tent we live in: The expression the tent we live in refers to “our earthly house, our body.” Paul uses the metaphor of the physical body as a house or tent, the residence of the immaterial part of a person.
  2. 2 Corinthians 5:4 tn Or “we are burdened.”
  3. 2 Corinthians 5:5 tn Grk “for this very thing.”
  4. 2 Corinthians 5:5 tn Or “first installment,” “pledge,” “deposit” (see the note on the phrase “down payment” in 1:22).
  5. 2 Corinthians 5:6 tn Grk “we know that being at home in the body”; an idiom for being alive (L&N 23.91).
  6. 2 Corinthians 5:7 tn Grk “we walk.”
  7. 2 Corinthians 5:8 tn Or “be absent.”
  8. 2 Corinthians 5:9 tn Grk “whether we are at home” [in the body]; an idiom for being alive (L&N 23.91).
  9. 2 Corinthians 5:9 tn Grk “to be pleasing to him.”

So, to read it again with these definitions included would be:

For we groan while we are in this tent since we [our earthly house] are weighed down [burdened] because we do not want to be unclothed, but clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose [this very thing] is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment [pledge, deposit, down payment].Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth [at home in the body] we are absent from the Lord— for we live [walk] by faith, not by sight. Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away [absent] from the body and at home with the Lord. So then whether we are alive [at home] or away, we make it our ambition to please him [be pleasing to him; I read it as us knowing what right living is pleasing to him and living that way, for He is always pleased with us and rejoices over us with singing!].

It sounds like the Amplified Version. Well, that’s really what it is! I looked up the AMP and this is how it phrased it:

For while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened [often weighed down, oppressed], not that we want to be unclothed [separated by death from the body], but to be clothed, so that what is mortal [the body] will be swallowed up by life [after the resurrection]. Now He who has made us and prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the [Holy] Spirit as a pledge [a guarantee, a down payment on the fulfillment of His promise]. So then, being always filled with good courage and confident hope, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises]— we are [as I was saying] of good courage and confident hope, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore, whether we are at home [on earth] or away from home [and with Him], it is our [constant] ambition to be pleasing to Him. Anything in italics has been added so that the English language makes sense, but we must remember that they are not part of the original text and have been “tainted,” so to speak, by human interpretation. The previous sentence is a prime example of just such.

Here’s the point of the passage concerning my Time with the Lord. I hold lightly to the things of his world and tightly to His promises. I gain strength and courage (it was mentioned twice) from passages like this one for times of trial and testing (in circumstances, not from the Lord). I use them when practicing patient endurance by focusing on what is to come. I remember that I am part of a great cloud of witnesses that have already gone on before me. In these things I have hope. The better I know these passages, the greater (clearer, stronger) my hope is.

This morning, as you prepare for church, may you focus on the Lord and what He has for us today (mercy and grace) and on what He has for us in the future (being with Him in glory).

Abba, thank You for all You have provided for us in written form. But, I don’t want to just know about You; I want to know YOU. Please reveal Yourself to me in whatever fashion You choose, whether it’s the Bible, music, Bryan my pastor, a friend–even an enemy! I know when I hear Your voice, so I will be listening for You. “Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus, speak that my soul may hear.” Amen.

Proverbs 24 9-24-21

Can Christ use us? Absolutely, but we must realize that it is Him working in us from the inside out.

1 Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company; 2 for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble. Instead, 3 Allow wisdom to build her house in you, establishing its foundations through understanding, and filling its rooms with rare and beautiful treasures of the intimate and first-hand knowledge of God, His Love and His Plan. (paraphrased)

In the same way that Christ took people’s sin and transformed it into godly compassion for them, we can do the same if we are “hooked up” to the Spirit. When we are walking with Him and centered on Him, even the most heinous of crimes can be converted into compassion toward our aggressor. Thus, “Hit me again and my prayers for you will become even more fervent.”

So, again I ask, if we are like Christ, and He works in us and through us, can we be agents of change for sinners? Consider this: If someone attacks me and I am led by the Spirit to respond rather than react, then I take their sin and give it back as compassion. I am more like my heavenly Father right then than ever before. I become a sin-transmuter: I take their sin against me and transform it into compassion and give it back. My definition of “agape’ love,” God-love, is compassion. It’s what Jesus had on the masses (Matthew 9:36, 14:14, 20:34). Because I am being obedient to the Spirit, I don’t have to worry about retribution on my enemy. In fact, my hope is that my faith would lead him to faith in Christ. Neither do I have to worry about my family. The God who takes care of me is taking care of my family.

I realize that in America, we don’t get much of a chance to die for the sake of Jesus, but we ARE called to die daily to ourselves. It is in that daily death that we reach the capacity to give our lives when called upon (Luke 16:10). This way of daily living keeps us from experiencing Proverbs 24:10, “If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength [faith].” In fact, if we die daily to ourselves, we will have the mind of Christ, who was all about “rescuing those being led away to death, holding back those staggering toward slaughter” (Proverbs 24:11-adapted).

Here are two verses I am committing to memory:

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:11

2“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

Jesus put it this way, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Let’s die to ourselves and live for Christ today, right now. It’s important–no, it’s VITAL!

Abba, I give You my life today. I count myself dead to sin and its influence on me. Help me to see things through Your eyes and from Your perspective. Give me everything I need to do Your will as You direct my path. I am Yours. Amen.

Proverbs 24 8-24-21

Satan is the father of lies. He is the master liar. What makes us think we can outsmart him? He’s fooled everyone but Jesus!

5 The wise prevail through great [Holy Spirit] power, and those who have knowledge [of the Holy One] muster their strength [from Him]. 6 Surely you need guidance [from Mr. Holy Spirit*] to wage war [against the forces of evil, and against our own evil desires], and victory is won through many advisers [both human and biblical].

This morning, I am giving the message at TNT Chapel. It’s a Homeschool Co-op that meets at our church on Tuesdays. We have a chapel service for them–we even have a worship band made up of the students! I will be teaching about TRUST, particularly what NOT to trust.

Don’t Trust Your Feelings, Your Knowledge, or Your Perceptions.

Each of these categories can be tricked or fooled by nature and by Satan. I will give three examples:

  1. An airplane can be guided in fog by the instruments even though the pilot may be fooled into thinking that the gauges are off.
  2. When traversing through a house of mirrors, don’t bump your nose (like I did!).
  3. There is an exercise for balance where a person stands on one foot and, while looking straight ahead, moves his eyes slowly down, then front, then up, then front, then to the right, then front, then to the left, then front. If he can do it without falling over, he is a very “balanced” individual! Try it with the other foot…

There is a passage, 2 Timothy 2:11-13, that teaches us who we can trust:

11 Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him,
    we will also live with him;
12 if we endure,
    we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
    he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless,
    he remains faithful,
    for he cannot disown himself.

I will ask the youth to give me the end of each phrase, “If we died with Jesus, then we will also ____________” and so on. The trick comes in the last verse where God cannot disown Himself and must remain faithful. In the verse, “deny” means “to refuse, contradict, refuse to affirm or to confess (identify with), to disown.” Using Matthew 10:32-33, we discover that to deny means to deny Jesus as Lord and Savior, to refuse the His invitation for salvation, to contradict His statement of our sinfulness, to refuse to confess Him as Lord and to identify with Him, and to disown Him by refusing the entry of the Holy Spirit. It’s a salvation issue.

Being faithless is what Jesus called the disciples out in the boat in Matthew 14:31, “You of little faith [My little faithless ones], why did you doubt?” It’s not a salvation issue, but a trust issue. Once we trust Jesus for salvation and the Holy Spirit enters our lives, quickening our spirits, and giving us new life (we are born again), there is no denying (disowning) us by Jesus before the Father (as in Matthew 10:33). It’s now a family matter.

Don’t believe me? How about John 14:16,

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor [Mr. Holy Spirit] to help you and be with you forever—

So, we are not to trust our senses (they are easily fooled), our knowledge (it’s always partial), our perspective (it’s always limited), or our opinion, or even someone else’s opinion. We must Trust Jesus and what He has told us in His Word.

Trust Jesus; read your Bible.

Abba, I pray that this lesson will sink into their brains and trigger a hunger and thirst for Your Word and for righteousness. I caught the “bug” so many years ago; may they catch it, too. Amen.

*I use the moniker, “Mr. Holy Spirit,” because the Holy Spirit is a Person and not a Thing. He is just as much God as the Son is, and just as much the Son as God the Father is. They are equals and one with each other. The are ONE. They are the TRINITY.

Proverbs 24 7-24-21

The world would have us fear death, but for Christians, it is the final victory! “Death, where is thy victory? Death, where is thy sting?”

1 Do not envy the wicked [those who disregard God and His future for those who love Him], do not desire their company [or anything they have], 2 for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble [their morals are twisted, along with their desires].

Romans 14:13 is where we need to stop and camp a while. Let’s read it:

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

Let’s use some logic:

  • According to the pundits in the media, if people have had the COVID shot, then they are “safe.”
  • According to many doctors, if people have had COVID, then they are “safe.”
  • Logically, if people have had neither, they may get COVID, but everyone else is “safe.”

We each answer to God–right now– for our decisions. God leads, but He also allows. It’s one of the things I admire a lot about God: How does He allow choice and still work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)? It very well may be that Paul is referring not to this world, but to the kingdom of heaven, which is in us and to which we are going. On Resurrection Day (John 5:25 and 11:24), when all rise to be rewarded/judged (see Matthew 25:31-46), the Lord Jesus will remove the curtain between the heavens (see Day 4 of creation, Genesis 1:14-19) and “Christ’s great kingdom will come on earth, the kingdom of love and light” (from “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations” Traditional Version, Modern Version). Until then, we simply make do with what we are given where we are in the timeline. Paul says to set our hearts and minds on things above (Colossians 3:1-2), where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, as God makes all of Christ’s enemies His footstool (Psalm 110:1). We have these promises (Colossians 3:3-4):

  1. We died to this world and our true life is hidden in Christ,
  2. When He appears, then we will also appear with Him in glory.

Jesus put it this way, “Do not worry about your life…but seek first His [the Father’s] kingdom and His righteousness, and all will be taken care of” Matthew 6:25, 33-34 (my own paraphrase). “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Indeed!

How do we seek the kingdom of God when the kingdom is within us? We seek His face, as King David did (Psalm 27:8), which is really pretty easy since He is inside of us. What He really wants is our company, along with our obedience. He is trying to get us home!

To summarize,

  • We live in a fallen world.
  • Jesus brought His kingdom to us.
  • He is in us until we go to be with Him.
  • This world will never be perfect until He comes.
  • We aren’t perfect, either, and won’t be until we die and go to be with Him in His kingdom.
  • We should quit insisting that people believe our way.
  • Instead, we should just point them to Jesus. He’ll do the rest.

Let’s live our lives using Psalm 27:1 as our banner verse:

The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

And remember that “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21.

Abba, help me to remember that I am a stranger to this world now that I have been born again and have You inside me. I will hold onto the things of this world with a loose grip and hold on to You, Jesus, for life, eternal life. Thank You for holding me (John 10:27-30). Amen.

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).