Proverbs 25 11-25-22

When God spoke the universe into existence, some may forget that He created math, physics, calculus, natural laws, and basic science.

11 Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord;
    all the weights in the bag are of his making.
Proverbs 16:11

I was thumbing through my pictures on my phone the other day and ran across this one:

In case you’re wondering what it is, it’s a Mandelbrot Fractal: A fractal is a never-ending pattern integrating infinitely complex shapes that are self-similar across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process in an ongoing feedback loop. The Mandelbrot Set is one of the most well-known fractal sets derived from the works of Benoit Mandelbrot in the 20th century. Check out the fractal video at the bottom of this post.

The Mandelbrot Fractal is yet another nail in the coffin of random evolution. The mathematics behind this fractal are NOT something that can happen accidentally. It takes an intelligent design, a Designer: God.

What’s the point? WE are created by God. Every cell right down to the DNA in every cell was meticulously created with each of us in mind. We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God doesn’t make junk. Remember that today.

Along the same lines, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” Romans 8:16. May we act accordingly today.

Abba, I love Your reminders of who You are and who I am in You. I take great delight in knowing that You chose me to be Yours long before I came into being. May I live up to my “potential” as a child of the King. Thank You for Your Spirit who is transforming me into the image of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Rainbow Drop – Youtube

Proverbs 25 10-25-22

Everyone needs saving. Many just don’t know it.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

From the past two days:
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?

Today, we look at why mankind is not capable of saving himself. Remember that in order to be saved, the person needing saving must rely upon someone else to save him. In order for it to be true salvation, the person needing saving must not be able to save himself. He must need a savior. Let’s look at mankind according to what God’s Word says.

There are three metaphors that are used to describe mankind’s plight:

  1. We are dead.
  2. We are lost.
  3. We are sick.

We are dead-
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…” Ephesians 2:1 
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, Colossians 2:13

We are lost-
“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior” Colossians 1:21
“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? Luke 15:4
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? Luke 15:8
32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” Luke 15:32

We are sick-
31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Luke 5:31
“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

These metaphors are accurate, but Matthew tells us our true predicament in Matthew 4:16,

16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” [Isaiah 9:2]

We were living in spiritual darkness. We needed the light of Jesus. Remember the tongues of fire that settled on the believers in the upper room at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4)? The light of the fire is in each of us because of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. When we turn from our darkness and follow Jesus, we turn to His light. We are reborn; we are found; we are healed. Jesus said,

I AM the Way;
I AM the Truth;
I AM the Life;
No one comes to the Father except through Me.
John 14:6

Tomorrow: Why in Jesus’ name?

Abba, we were dead relationally, cut off from You and in the enemy’s camp. We were lost and couldn’t find our way home. We were sick and couldn’t see straight, nor think straight. We were deceived, misled, trapped, ensnared, and addicted. Thank You for rescuing us. You are our Savior! Amen.

Proverbs 25 9-25-22

We don’t need religious freedom in order to meet as a church and worship, but it certainly helps!

23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25

Today, in the Baptist Faith & Message, we look at:

XVII. Religious Liberty

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.

Genesis 1:272:7Matthew 6:6-7,2416:2622:21John 8:36Acts 4:19-20Romans 6:1-213:1-7Galatians 5:1,13Philippians 3:201 Timothy 2:1-2James 4:121 Peter 2:12-173:11-174:12-19.

“A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal” says it all. America has been a great place for Christians because our laws reflect the statutes in this Baptist article. In many countries, practicing a religion outside of the state religion is punishable by loss of job, loss of property, imprisonment, and even capital punishment. Religious liberty does not stop Christians from meeting and worshiping together; it just makes it easier.

If, at any time, it becomes inconvenient and/or unpopular to be a Christian in America, we can expect two boons:

  1. Our churches will become a lot leaner and, subsequently, healthier (only true Christians will attend),
  2. As Christians live different and sometimes dangerous lifestyles than the people around them, many will be drawn to Christ because of our personal relationship with Christ that goes beyond personal safety or creature comforts.

Paul said to pray for a peaceful atmosphere in order to live godly lives that draw others to Christ,

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holinessThis is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Abba, this is our prayer today. We pray for our president, his cabinet, congress, our judges, our state leadership and our city leadership that they would allow Christians to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. May we exemplify You in our lives and share with those who ask about our “strange” behavior. All glory goes to You, Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 25 8-25-22

If human fingers are simple, then why can’t scientists come up with even a two-dimensional version that works?

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings [humans].

As we continue our study on the index finger, this information is from, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body,” pages 84-85.

The finger’s tendons and ligaments have rightly been described as a complex, dynamic “net” that constantly shifts position in response to the multiple forces acting upon it. Shifting the index finger from one computer key to another requires little conscious effort, but such activity demands simultaneous processing of hundreds of thousands of electrical signals. Nerve cells within the spinal cord receive signals from sensors in the hand that detect motion, stretch, and position. This information, together with visual input from the eyes, enables the nervous system to make instant calculations about the finger’s current position in space and immediately send new commands to multiple muscles to alter the finger’s position.

Digital signal processing did not originate with computers. It has been a part of our makeup since God created the first man, Adam. The monitoring system in our spinal cord and brain stem far surpasses anything humans have yet devised. By elaborate biochemical processes, sensors in the hand fire volleys of on-off signals to update the central nervous system about the hand’s status. This control system, which rapidly assesses incoming data from thousands of sources and then directs selected motors to respond, is apparently encoded in our DNA before birth. This “software” enables us not only to process a continuous stream of data but also to write new software subroutines that help us remember new finger motions as we practice them, whether learning to type or to play a musical instrument.

Effective functioning of the index finger requires not only well-orchestrated muscles, tendons, and nerves but also efficient processes to regulate blood flow, temperature, wound repair, growth, and immunity to diseases. The list goes on and on.

Tomorrow, we look at an unsung hero. It will also be our last study of the human body. Sadness…

Abba, even as I type feverishly on my keyboard, I praise You for making me so fearfully and wonderfully, as well as every human ever born. Even though You have new bodies awaiting us in Your kingdom (heaven), these earth-suits are quite resilient. Thank You for this study. It has been quite educational as well as leading us to praise You and give You thanks. I am reminded to love my neighbor as I love myself. Knowing the way I am made helps me realize how much YOU love me; therefore, I am free and feel released–even empowered–to love others. May You receive all the glory, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 25 7-25-22

For what or whom are you living? I pray You find in Jesus the greatest Cause there is. I did. Still do.

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of [the King’s kids].

Yesterday, we looked at Colossians 1:27, which said,

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.

The habitation of God inside of us is, indeed, a mystery, yet it is true! Jesus is life, and He lives in us, therefore we have eternal life because we have Him inside us.

The next two verses are special to me. I read them as a college student and put them under my name anytime I signed an autograph–which may need some explaining. I was in a home-grown group called, Matthew, and we traveled around Oklahoma, Texas, and a few other states singing and playing original songs for churches. Our songs were decidedly Christian, but we got to play a beauty pageant once! As small-time as we were, people still wanted our autograph, so I would sign my name and then put “Colossians 1:28-29” under it,

28 We proclaim Him, teaching and admonishing everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously labor with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

I was and is my life verse for ministry. It speaks of my calling to proclaim Jesus, and it reminds me that it is not I, but Christ in me who gets all the credit. How can I take credit when He is the One who gives me first the desire and then the power to do His will (Philippians 2:13)? Not only that, I have been crucified with Christ and He now lives in and through me (Galatians 2:20). My life is now hidden in Christ until the Day He appears, and we appear with Him (Colossians 3:3-4).

All the glory belongs to Jesus
(it’s a little shmaltzy, but a great song)

Abba, You are my Beginning and my End. May I finish strong–not in my own strength, but in Yours, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 25 5-25-22

Jesus wants to include everyone in His kingdom. He died “once for all.” That’s pretty much everyone.

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.

My I-Phone has a Notes feature. I use it constantly. Whenever I have an idea or hear a good point, I write it in my notes. The other day, I sorted through about 100 of them (some of them are four years old) and either threw them away or put them into folders. One of them drew my eye, so here it is:

John 4:1-38 is about the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Galilee from Judea and went through Samaria instead of going around (an extra two-day journey) like any self-respecting Jew would. Jesus sent the disciples into town, but He stayed at the well outside of town. A woman approached in the heat of the day to draw water and Jesus had a conversation with her. As the story unfolds, I surmised these truths from the encounter:

  1. Jesus went into a dangerous place. Sometimes God leads us into dangerous places.
  2. Jesus broke social customs. Sometimes God asks us to break social customs.
  3. Jesus spoke to a “tainted” woman. Sometimes God asks us to speak to “messy” people.
  4. Jesus spoke the Gospel appropriate to the circumstances. God ALWAYS wants us to speak the Gospel appropriate to our circumstances.

The woman was Jesus’ chosen evangelist to the Samaritan people. History tells us that her name was Photine. She had two sons who were evangelists, as well. They were all martyred for the sake of the Gospel. Jesus saw people as God’s children in need of Him. We would do well to see people as God’s children in need of Him, too.

What is this Gospel that she spread to her fellow Samaritans? “Come see the Man who told me everything (bad) I ever did (and didn’t judge me)! Could He be the Messiah?” Let’s break it down:

  • Jesus wants people to turn to Him for life. He asked her to believe in Him.
  • We must give ourselves – and the things that are destroying us – to Him. He will tell us what to do next. Jesus didn’t condemn her, but simply revealed her deepest wound. Then He healed that wound.
  • Jesus is revealing Himself to everyone; sometimes He reveals Himself through us. He is quite capable to reach everyone Himself, but His chosen platform is the church–us. He wants to include us in His Plan to reach the world.
  • What is the result–and evidence–of the Gospel? Changed lives. When we realize it’s not about us, but about Him, then we are in a position to receive His “living water.” This Gospel is as pertinent today as it was that day in Samaria. Believe it; receive it; share it.

Abba, what a wonderful way to begin Your ministry–to the Samaritans, the outcasts! Already, You were including the excluded. Everyone is excluded from one group or another; thank You for seeing us as Your children and including everyone. May we live our lives in such a way that the Gospel is attractive to those around us. May we make it appropriate for our audience, and pertinent to our day. Amen.

Proverbs 25 4-25-22

Jesus was all about doing what His Father told Him. The two miraculous feedings were NOT coincidental.

25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings [the King’s kids].

Matthew was all about presenting Jesus as the Jewish Messiah to his fellow Jews. In chapters 14 and 15, he gives us two accounts of Jesus feeding the masses in miraculous ways. They are Matthew 14:13-21 and 15:29-38. Let’s compare the two accounts.

Feeding #1: We find in Luke 9:10-11 that Jesus and the disciples have retreated to Bethsaida, which is at the top of the Sea of Galilee, Northeast of Capernaum. The crowd consisted of about 5000 Jewish men, not including women and children. Jesus fed them with a boy’s lunch, and they gathered up 12 small baskets of leftovers.

Feeding #2: According to Mark 7:31, they traveled to the region of the Decapolis (10 cities), which is on the East side of the Sea of Galilee, a decidedly Gentile area consisting of the people from seven nations. Here, Jesus fed them with a few small fish and some bread. In about 4000 men, not including women and children, they had 7 large baskets of leftovers.

The two miracles are nearly identical, except for the number, which was close, and the number of baskets of leftovers. Could it be that Jesus intended for the 12 small baskets to represent the 12 tribes of Israel and the 7 large baskets to represent the 7 nations in the Decapolis area? Why would Jesus make such a grandiose illustration?

Jesus told us in John 5:16-17 that He and the Father are always at work. He was in the process of expanding His kingdom. Ephesians 2:14-18 explains that Jesus was in the process of creating in Himself one new humanity out of the two [Israeli and Gentile], thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross. These two events announce the process of fusion through expansion of the Assembly (we will cover “the Assembly” tomorrow).

Abba, thank You for making peace in Your body through the cross. We are forever grateful. Amen.

Proverbs 25 3-25-22

There are certain things God won’t say to us, but there are also certain things that He is constantly saying to us: “I love you!” is one of them.

11 A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

Yesterday, we began a conversation about hearing God and what He would say to us. Today, let’s continue using excerpts from the book, Hearing God, by Peter Lord.

“Some well-meaning Christians tell us that ‘many things are necessary’ to grow spiritually. But we must remember that it was the Lord Jesus Christ who said, ‘only one thing is necessary.’” (See Luke 10:41-42).

That “one thing” is to hear the Lord Jesus speak to us. If we hear Him, then He will lead us in the next thing to do or say, and it will always be right, even if things get messy or end badly. He is leading and we need to trust Him.

If we do the “one thing,” these are some of the things we can expect to hear God speak to us:

Many have perceived God in the past as:

  • Boss
  • Judge
  • Distant father
  • Critical parent

Jesus portrayed God as:

  • Loving Father
  • Caring Shepherd

Two of my favorite quotes from this book are:

“In my experience walking with God, He has done very little shouting and no threatening at all.
If you feel threatened or fearful, it’s safe to say that it is not God talking to you.”

“God is love and it seems that’s the only force He is going to use with us.”
*Excerpts from Hearing God (pp 14-79) by Peter Lord

There are lots of gold nuggets in here! Ask the Lord which one He wants you to take with you today. He will use it to settle your heart and mind with His peace. Enjoy His intimacy today!

Abba, just knowing that I can trust You makes the day easier. I don’t have to please You, but I want to. I don’t have to earn Your approval, but I want to live in a way that is approving. I don’t have to worry about offending You, yet I watch what I say and do so that I don’t offend others. Knowing You love me is all I need, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 25 2-25-22

Do we have Jesus living in our hearts (lives)? If so, how did He get there? Where was He before He entered?

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings [we are all royalty].

We know all the metaphors:

So, which is it? All of them. They all describe a spiritual state of being that is beyond human language to describe. God is right in front of us and all around us, but we cannot “see” Him because of the blinders that sin and Satan have put on us. Jesus came to break the power of Satan (Hebrews 2:14-15) and to take our blinders off (another metaphor). The closest verse/passage that I have been able to find that literally describes the two spiritual states of mankind is 1 John 5:10-12,

10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

  • What testimony do we have in ourselves? The Spirit, of course. Verses 7-8 tell us as much. We also have the fact that Jesus went away so that the Spirit could come to us (John 16:7).
  • The difference in being unborn and born, dead and alive, alienated and adopted, enemies and family, and having Christ on the inside supping with us is who we believe: Do we believe the witnesses, i.e. Christ’s divine nature, God’s miraculous works through Christ, and the word of the Spirit, or do we believe the lies and deception of Satan, our own logic, and our own feelings of pride and rebellion?
  • The eternal life that John talks about in verse 11 is not so much about heaven as it is life RIGHT NOW. Heaven begins the moment Christ enters our hearts and lives. The life we live in the Son is from that moment on, all day, every day. It’s called the Jesus Walk and it’s a way of life. If a person is not interested in following Jesus, then He is basically calling God a liar (He says our sin is destroying us and we need life) and the truth is not in him. Neither is the Spirit.
  • We could easily rephrase verse 12 to say, “He who has the Son has daily life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have daily life.”

Instead of saying, “believe in,” I like to say, “believe on.” The first implies a static, logical decision where the second expects action. We believe in a chair to hold us, but we sit (believe) on the chair to use it. Let’s trust in and rely on Jesus today, shall we? By doing so, we will live life abundantly (John 10:10).

Abba, life without You would be lonely, boring, and scary. I already get duped by Satan even though You are with me; I can’t imagine how duped I would be without Your Spirit guiding me–if only I would listen to You all the time! I’m 61 today, Abba; I’ve learned a lot over my lifetime, but I still have so far to go…I’m counting on You to see me through each day, each circumstance, even each moment! Amen.

Proverbs 25 1-25-22

Grace has abounded and now reigns through the gift of righteousness given to us by Jesus Christ. Now what?

4 Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel; (5) take away the wicked [wickedness] from the presence of the king [King’s kids], and his throne [heart] will be established in righteousness.

Paul has described how Jesus bound us all over to disobedience so that he could have mercy on us all (Romans 11:32). Jesus broke the curse of sin and death by fulfilling the law* and being obedient even unto death. Now, life is offered to all who believe in him. Paul continues,

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:1-4

Here, we have another word picture using death. The first one we have is from Jesus to Nicodemus about needing to be born again. In this second word picture, we are alive, but die to ourselves, are buried with Christ, and are then raised to walk in new life with him. Both word pictures are relational. It’s about walking with Jesus. He will never lead us into temptation or sin. We will still be tempted; we will still sin, but it is not what Jesus wants, and we now want what Jesus wants. So, we walk in grace even as we learn to walk in the freedom we have in Christ, the freedom that sets us free from destructive thoughts and behaviors. We don’t WANT to continue in sin! What we now have is NO CONDEMNATION!!! (Romans 8:1) for those who are in Christ Jesus. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life has set us free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Jesus said that “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). This is the type of eternal life I want: Life With Jesus!

May you see your salvation as more than just a ticket to heaven, but as Jesus offering to be our friend for life. He will lead us into all truth.

Abba, I love having you as my friend. Thank you for making it possible. As I walk with you, may you guide me into all truth, especially about destructive thoughts and behaviors. I ask this question, “Jesus what is standing in the way of us communicating more clearly? Please show me and then help me remove it.” Amen.

*Jesus fulfilled the law by living a sinless life according to the law of Moses. In his 33 years, he did what no other human could do, which was to live righteously in fellowship with the Father. It is interesting to note that he did not do things like the religious leaders of his day, especially when it came to the Sabbath. Jesus interpreted the law according to how it was truly meant rather than how it had been interpreted by men.

Proverbs 25 12-25-21

Merry Christmas! I can’t think of a better topic today than modeling Jesus. Christ came into our world–and our hearts.

27 It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.

We don’t have to try to look like Jesus.
When we spend time with Him, we become like Him.

Most people think that modeling Jesus is to follow all the commands in the New Testament given by Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude and the writer of Hebrews (Whew!). Actually, the reason they wrote what they wrote is because they spent time with Jesus. Spending time with Jesus changes a person. His values become our values; His love becomes our love. It shows up in the form of compassion. We cannot manufacture compassion; it comes from the heart, and that’s Jesus’ domain. When He rules our hearts, then we will see people as He sees them and we will have compassion on them.

To me, the Gospel is connecting people with Jesus. When we act like Christ to a person, a server at a restaurant for example, the Spirit uses our actions as an avenue to speak to that server. It may be that the person begins to warm to the urging of the Spirit. When enough Christians model Jesus to him/her, then the server will begin to seek people who know Jesus and begin asking questions. That’s the time when we share Christ with them. In this entire scenario, we must remember that the Spirit is the One working in us and through us, and thus, all glory goes to the Father. It is also the Spirit who is working in the server’s life drawing him to Christ. Jesus said,

32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32

Jesus came to initiate the plan to be with us and in us. We have been invited to join in the Fellowship of the Trinity. Trust me, when we actively spend time with the Father/Son/Spirit, we will be transformed into the likeness of Jesus! People are drawn to Jesus, so let’s model Him. Let’s be like Jesus with the people around Him,

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless [spiritually], like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36

We don’t have to share the Roman Road or go into a full-blown presentation of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. All we need to do is spend enough time with the Trinity to be Christ to those around us. He will draw them to Himself. We, indeed, must be ready to give an explanation about why we act and believe the way we do, but we don’t have to start with it. Building bridges (trust) and relationships is our first and foremost goal.

I pray you have a great Christmas today as we celebrate the Incarnation of the Son of God.

Abba, I lift up my readers that You would reveal Yourself to them as they seek Your face in prayer, Bible study, fellowship and discussion, and in whatever they do today. Just experiencing and enjoying Your presence is enough. Thank You for coming to save us, Lord Jesus. We are forever grateful. Amen.

Proverbs 25 11-25-21

On this Thanksgiving Day, let’s develop an attitude of gratitude.

12 Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover [with a discreet word of correction or warning] to a listening ear.

We have all heard of a sacrifice of praise before. It’s almost always linked with the Psalms or church music. And, yes, putting Scripture to music is a great way to learn the Scriptures, but let’s look at what the writer of Hebrews was saying in 13:15,

15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.

The word, “sacrifice,” means “to give up something in order to receive something else.” Dave Ramsey says, “It’s better to do what you don’t want to do now so that you can do what you want to do later.” He’s talking about sacrificing having the nicest and newest stuff until our income exceeds our outgoing money, which usually comes later in life. The same concept is here in Hebrews. Look at the previous verse,

14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

Our eyes are set on a future kingdom, the one that Jesus has established and has invited us to join Him there. Verses 7-13 talk about sacrifice with reproach (disgrace); we must stand with Jesus as He takes the good news of who He is and what He’s done to the world.

So, as we celebrate today (or this weekend), let us remember and give thanks for what God/Jesus/Spirit has done for us, what He/They is/are doing for us now, and what is in store for us in the future.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Abba, may You receive our praise and thanks as we reflect upon all You have done for us. We may not have a whole lot on this side of eternity, but You have SO MUCH planned for us on Your side! In the meantime, we thank You for Jesus and His Spirit who connect us to You. We thank You for Your lovingkindness to us in that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). Our hearts are, indeed, grateful. Amen.

Proverbs 25 9-25-21

Paul defines two ministries, The ministry of the Law and the ministry of the Spirit. Let’s look at the differences.

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out the matter is the glory of kings [in our case, the sons and daughters of the King].

2 Corinthians 3:7-18 gives us a side-by-side comparison of these ministries. We will look at verses 7-11:

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

The “ministry that brought death” is a reference to the Law. In verse 6, Paul says, “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” The description of being engraved in letters on stone confirms that he is referring to the Law (Exodus 31:18). What Paul is trying to get us to see is that the Ministry of the Spirit is beyond comprehension! He goes so far as to say, “’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—” (1 Corinthians 2:9). In verse 18 of our text, he says, “We…are being transformed into His [Jesus’] image with ever-increasing glory [from one glory to the next], which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” Those who follow Christ and walk in/with the Spirit are on an upward journey!

I want to insert right here in our discussion a teaching from Tom Eliff,

We have assurance of salvation by having:
1. An upward walk–becoming more like Jesus in character as the Spirit transforms us;
2. An outward appearance–we look more like Jesus in word and deed, countenance and character;
3. An inward peace–a continuous walking, talking relationship with Jesus through the Spirit.

Tomorrow, we will discuss the ramifications of not having to follow the Law-(Old Covenant)- anymore. Exciting, right? Today, give glory to God for such a great salvation and for the in-dwelling of His Spirit.

Abba, I give You glory for my salvation. The great lengths You went to in order to buy me back amazes me. To think that Your intended purpose was to fill me with Yourself* blows my mind! May I always remember that You began my salvation and You will carry it to completion (Philippians 1:6). I am forever grateful. Amen.

*Jesus is God in the flesh (John 1:14) ; the Lord Jesus is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18) = The Trinity.

Proverbs 25 8-25-21

The struggle for Christ to be formed in us answers the age-old question of free will; if the Christian life were easy, then it wouldn’t be a struggle!

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings [the glory in us is something that we must release by releasing everything that is concealing the glory of Christ].

That glory will look a little different in each of us because it is the Holy Spirit interacting with our spirit, thus creating something brand new, but the basic pattern of godliness is there. The principal verse for Christ being formed in us is Galatians 4:19,

19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,

The basic pattern of godliness can be found in many passages, several of which are:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 2 Peter 1:5-7

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9

As we can see, there is plenty on which to work in our lives. Each day, even each moment, we must decide to trust Jesus. By knowing these passages, we know what holiness and godliness look like. As the Holy Spirit teaches us in these matters, we enjoy sweet fellowship with the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit. We feel His love for us, we receive His peace, and His joy overflows in our lives. It’s what makes us irresistible to the world! We are the fragrance of Christ; what can get any better than that? By the way, His aroma rubs off on us; the closer we are to Him and the longer we stay in His presence, the more we smell like Him. That aroma is what seeking people crave. Let’s share it!

Abba, it is our desire that Christ be formed in us. Thank You that we have people in our lives like Paul who cry out to You to do just that: Be formed in us. May they speak truth to us when we need correction, and may we listen no matter how difficult it is to control our flesh. Humility is always the best route. Hammer away, Lord. We need chiseling. Amen.

Proverbs 25 7-25-21

Most Christians have never boiled their faith down to its essential ingredients. Let’s take a quick quiz…

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.

Knowing what is essential to our faith is important; so is being able to articulate it.

  1. What is the main purpose for the cross?
  2. What does the resurrection mean?
  3. What is the biggest promise of the Bible?

To be fair, I’ve had time to ponder these questions and teach the material. Here is what I’ve come up with:

  1. Restored fellowship. Most people answer that it’s to have our sins forgiven, but why did sin need to be forgiven? In order to remove that which kept us from having fellowship with the Father. It’s all about the relationship.
  2. He rose again, therefore we rise again. His resurrection means that we have a resurrection, in Him.
  3. “When things are ready, I will come back for you.” John 14:3. Whether it’s individual or collective, He is coming back for all of us.

This morning, be sure to thank our heavenly Father and His Son and then praise them. Spend time rejoicing in the Spirit. It’s the whole point of being saved.

Abba, may I take my own advice. Thank You for so great a salvation so that we can be together. I can hardly wait to be with you completely! In the meantime, I relish the relationship I have with You in my heart and life. I look forward to tomorrow, singing praises to Your name, and worshiping with my fellow followers. Amen.

Proverbs 25 6-25-21

Regardless of where we are coming from, all roads lead to Jesus, and then Jesus leads us to God. Jesus is our Source for everything.

13 Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him; he refreshes the spirit of his master.

Church attendance is a good thing, but it isn’t what is meant by “walking with the Lord.” Our walk is person and ongoing. It is a daily, even continuous, giving-over of ourselves to Jesus. He is our Companion, Leader, and Guide. We constantly check with Him for direction, instruction, knowledge and understanding of what to do next, say next, and even what to think–about anything!

God doesn’t have rules; He doesn’t need them. Those who have His Spirit know the mind of God and Christ (1 Corinthians 2:12, 16). That’s why when Paul gives an example list of acts of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21, he ends the list with these words, “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Why? Because they don’t have the Spirit of God within them. He then gives an example list of the fruit that the Spirit grows in a Christian’s heart (Galatians 5:22-23), and ends this list with these words, “Against such things there is no law.”

When a person is living by the Spirit, he keeps in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). What does that look like?

People who are committed to walking with Jesus read their Bibles “religiously,” meaning that we read them to learn, to know, and to grow. It’s important to us because it’s how we know what God’s voice sounds like and what He will say.

People who are committed to walking with Jesus want to spend time together talking about what they have learned and listening to others about what they have learned. We don’t always agree, but that’s okay, too. We know that eventually, all will be revealed (Philippians 3:15-16). In the meantime, we rejoice together in sweet fellowship with the Spirit of God.

People who are committed to walking with Jesus look for ways to lead others to do the same. We help people along in their walk with Christ. If someone doesn’t know Him, then we introduce him to Jesus. Evangelism and discipleship really are this simple!

Dying to self and living for Christ by following His every footstep and command is the desire that the Spirit puts in our hearts–and we don’t mind. In fact, we like it!

5 And we will not be disappointed, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5

Today, let’s die to ourselves and live for Christ, with Christ. Let’s listen to the Holy Spirit and display our love for the Father. The world is dying for an unfailing love; we have it in Christ!

Abba, may You kindle the flame of Your love in my heart. I want it to burn brightly. I envision myself as the burning bush that burned, but didn’t burn up; that’s how I see myself in You. Light me up, Lord. I want so much of Your love that I overflow to others! Amen.

Proverbs 25 5-25-21

Corporate worship is designed for us to be refreshed by being with others who follow Christ.

4 Remove the dross from the silver [in this case, we are removing the silver from the dross by leaving the world behind and entering into worship with the body of Christ, the Church], and the silversmith [the LORD] can produce a [willing and useful] vessel [us];

In a book on corporate worship (our staff is going through it), there are seven essential elements that need to be present in a worship service:

  1. Recognition of God’s Character (Adoration)
  2. Acknowledgement of Our Character (Confession)
  3. Affirmation of Grace in Christ (Assurance)
  4. Expression of Devotion (Thanksgiving)
  5. Desire for Aid in Living for God (Petition and Intercession)
  6. Acquiring Knowledge for Phrasing God (Instruction from God’s Word)
  7. Living unto God with His Blessing (Charge and Benediction)

Sometimes they are combined and other times there is more than just one of the elements, but they are all there. In a worship service, these elements are covered in the music, in prayer, in the preaching of the Word, and in the invitation time. There is no set standard; they simply all need to be there. Also, there is no particular order (except for the benediction).They can be arranged as needed.

Let’s look at #1, Recognition of God’s Character (Adoration). Praising God for who He is and for What He has done exalts God. His name is the highest name (Luke 2:14). He has given His name to His Son, Jesus Christ, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach (Philippians 2:9-11). When we start our prayers with Father God, Heavenly Father, Abba, etc. we are exalting His Name and who He is to us. When we sing songs like, “Mighty is our God, mighty is our King, mighty is our Lord, Ruler of everything,” we exalt God the Father. When we read verses like, “and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6, we exalt God the Son, of Whom Isaiah is prophesying. When we acknowledge the Holy Spirit and ask Him to come and take control, to fill us and to teach us, we exalt God the Holy Spirit. We owe everything to God; why wouldn’t we exalt Him?

Tomorrow, we will look at the next element of corporate worship. Just remember that the best way to prepare for next Sunday is to read His Word today and to spend time with the Savior in conversation. Give Him your life for today, for this hour, for right now. You will find His fellowship sweet and His love, joy and peace washing over you.

Abba, You are wonderful. You are amazing. You are certainly beyond comprehending! Why You would want us as Your children, especially at such great cost, is beyond me–but I’m glad You do! Thank You for loving us and rescuing us. We love being Your children! “You are exalted, Lord, You are exalted on high, and I will praise You!” Amen.

Proverbs 25 4-25-21

Surrendering our lives to Jesus is the only wise thing to do. There are eternal ramifications for being in the Lord’s hands!

13 Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the soul of his masters.

A faithful messenger is one who is devoted to his master and to the delivery of the message. In our case, we are devoted to our Lord and to the delivery of the Gospel, in which we happen to believe wholeheartedly! What Jesus is looking for in His messengers is surrender.

Surrender– “to give oneself up, as into the power of another; submit or yield.” Surrender is what we do when we die to self and live for Christ. One of my recent favorite passages is 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, which says,

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

Surrender is to be our constant state of mind and being. Pride and a rebellious spirit get in the way of surrender. When we are surrendered to Him we are conduits of God’s love. His love and Spirit flow through us freely–unless we close the valve. When that happens, we congest the flow from other sources with sin that gums up our pipes; we don’t work so well, and we eventually become stopped up. Sin destroys. We stop fellowshipping with the Father and others. The only way to fix this problem is through repentance and surrender.

Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said [Isaiah 58:11], streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:38. So, our belief in Him will keep our pipes clean and pure. Believing in Christ is more than a mere intellectual exercise. The term, “belief,” actually infers trust; in other words, we believe enough to trust what He says. Trust implies action. Therefore, belief leads to trust, which leads to action.

Since we are conduits and not the Source, what flows through us? Paul said, “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also our comfort overflows through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:5. So, we have the sufferings of Christ that flow through us and the comfort of Christ that overflows through us. I’m seeing an increase in the ratio of comfort vs. sufferings: An overflowing of comfort for just a flow of sufferings. The best place to put this overflow into good use is told to us in verses 3 and 4,

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

When it comes to suffering, we must remember that Jesus told us that it would happen:

20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. John 15:20

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble [persecution]. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

When we talk about surrender, we are referring to giving our lives to Christ and even giving our lives up for Christ. We want to be like the Christians who knew Jesus here on earth:

11 They triumphed over him [Satan]
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.

Revelation 12:11

This morning as you worship, bless God by surrendering your life to Him afresh and anew. Believe what He says in His Word, trust His voice in your heart, and do what He tells you to do. Even if there is persecution and suffering, know that He will comfort us with a comfort that is eternal, and one that we can share with others for His glory.

Abba, may You be praised today. May You accept my surrender to Your will and Your way. You love me; I know that because You told me so, and I believe You. Because I know You have my best interests at heart in accordance with Your will, I trust You and obey You. No suffering compares to the intimate knowledge of Your Presence and Participation in my life! All for Your glory, Lord. “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name be glory.” Psalm 115:1. Amen.

Proverbs 25 3-25-21

Who Jesus is demands a decision. Either we believe Him and follow Him, or we choose to go our own way. The decision is ours, but it IS a decision.

4 Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel; remove wicked officials from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.

Jesus had some wicked officials working in the temple system. His procedure for “cleansing His house” was involved and personal. Let’s look:

The Parable of the Tenants

33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

Jesus isn’t telling a random story. It’s one that the people of Israel knew well. We can read the entire story in Isaiah 5:1-7, but here are some keys verses from that passage:

I will sing for the one I love
    a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard
    on a fertile hillside.
He dug it up and cleared it of stones
    and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it
    and cut out a winepress as well.

Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
    but it yielded only bad fruit.

7 The vineyard of the Lord Almighty
    is the nation of Israel,
and the people of Judah
    are the vines he delighted in.
And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
    for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

As we can see, Jesus is calling them into judgement simply by choosing that story from Isaiah. His version of the story includes the sending of the son, which represents Himself. Notice, also, the conclusion that the listeners come to when He asks them what the owner will do:

40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

Then, Jesus lowers the boom:

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’ [Psalm 118:22-24 a Messianic psalm]?

43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

Jesus was declaring that He is the Cornerstone. We know that the taking away of the kingdom is Him inviting the Gentile nations to become “true Israelites” (Romans 2:28-29), which He implemented at Pentecost (Acts 2). Then He tells them, in true Messiah form, that anyone who falls on Him will be broken to pieces, but anyone on whom He falls will be crushed. I would rather be broken than crushed, how about you?

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet. Matthew 21:33-4

Again, the leaders wanted to arrest Him, but it wasn’t time, yet. That time would come. For us, we will observe the Holy Week beginning this Sunday with Palm Sunday. We will “watch” it all happen through the lens of Scripture and get a sense of the purpose of God. Tomorrow, we look at the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. It’s quite revealing!

Abba, thank You for calling me to fall on You. Break me and then put me back together with Your Holy Spirit so that I look just like Jesus. May I think like Jesus, feel like Jesus, and respond to You just like Jesus. That is my goal for today, Lord. Tomorrow, too. Amen.

Proverbs 25 2-25-21

Jesus taught us how to pray. Why? Because without His help, we don’t know how. In fact, without His Spirit, we can’t!

19 Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble.

Jesus called His disciples to follow Him and learn His ways. He was all about imparting to them His mission. He wants to impart that mission to us, too. He had it recorded in the Gospels and expounded upon by Luke, Paul, Peter and John. When Jesus said, “Go and make disciples,” He was talking about making disciples like He made disciples. He called them to accept His teaching, His way of living, His way of loving, and His way of dying. Are we ready?
Jesus had a method to His praying. Let’s look at it:
[5] “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. [6] But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. [7] And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. [8] Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
[9] “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
[10] your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
[11] Give us today our daily bread.
[12] Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
[13] And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
[14] For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. [15] But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

  1. Prayers for prayer’s sake is not really prayer if we define prayer as a conversation and not just “talking to God.” If God is not part of that conversation, then it’s not prayer by this definition. Hence, those praying for the accolades received all the reward they were going to get.
  2. When we consider the fact that God knows everything about us, we may ask, “Why ask at all?” God’s M.O. is to reveal a need to His children and invite them to join Him in meeting those needs. A good example is Adam in Genesis 2:18-22.
  3. His instruction:
    1. Whether in private or in a group, we address God as our Father.
    2. Jesus specified that God the Father was in heaven. Why? Because God the Son was standing in front of them!
    3. Hallowed = Holy. He is high and lifted up!
    4. Jesus has us pray for God’s kingdom to come to this earth–which it had in Jesus. We who have Jesus have the kingdom of heaven in us.
    5. In heaven, God’s will is done immediately and fully. We pray that His children here on earth would do the same.
    6. “Daily bread” is a reference to manna in the wilderness. It met all of their dietary needs. It’s a picture of the promise that God will meet all our needs of food, clothing, and shelter. It may not be what we consider adequate, but we will survive. Note that only our needs are promised to be met. Our comforts are like batteries in many toys: They’re not included.
    7. Jesus explains forgiving people in verses 14-15. Our forgiveness is contingent upon accepting Jesus’ way of forgiving us. If we don’t forgive others, then we are forfeiting His forgiveness for ourselves. It all goes back to His mission of reaching people for the kingdom.
    8. We don’t have to worry about Him leading us into temptation; I believe this statement was there for contrast. His entire mission was to deliver us from the evil one! Not only that, He prayed that we would not be taken from this world, but that the Father would protect us from the evil one (see John 17:15).

To summarize the prayer, we are to pray in this manner:

  1. Acknowledge God and His majesty, His place, and His position;
  2. Pray for people everywhere to accept His will for their lives;
  3. Ask Him to meet our daily needs;
  4. Don’t let unforgiveness take root in our lives; instead, forgive and be forgiven;
  5. Pray against the things that tempt us and pray for deliverance from them.
  6. Finish with praise and thanksgiving.

As we pray for ourselves, we also pray these things for others. We will be looking further into our method of praying soon. Stay tuned.

Abba, You are wonderful. You meet all our needs and protect us from the evil one. We ask that Your kingdom would come so that Your will would be done by everyone on earth just as it is in heaven. May we adopt Your mission and start by forgiving others. We release them from any debt that we perceive they owe us. Thank You for releasing me from my debt of sin. Yours in the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 25 1-25-21

Lasting fulfillment only comes through a personal, ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ. And it’s eternal!

12 Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear [it’s what His voice sounds like when He speaks to our spirits].

Many people who follow Christ do so at a distance; they follow a set of rules. The problem is that they don’t really know the Maker of those rules, and therefore tend to see how closely they can get to the line without going over, or going over just a little bit to see if they will actually be punished for it. What they don’t know is that God doesn’t have to punish them; the natural consequences of our actions will do that. Somehow, they have missed the most important part of Christianity, which is the relationship with Him.

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons and daughters. Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba [Daddy]! Father!” Galatians 4:4-6 [note: the passage at Biblegateway has reference notes as links]

This passage is what Christmas is all about! Jesus came so that through His atonement for our sin, He might send the Holy Spirit back into believers in order to restore the fellowship that used to be. Adam and Eve had it good, but I think our present situation is better: We get the Spirit of God and Christ in us 24/7! What we need to do is turn away from the things of this world that distract us from what is going on inside of us. What is going on inside us? How can we turn away from our distractions? By getting in a quiet place and reading our Bibles. The words of God and the words of Christ will become living bread that satisfies our souls. For instance, this next passage is a favorite of mine (it’s a good one to memorize):

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14

And, what do we get through this symbiotic relationship with Christ?

  1. We become filled with wisdom and understanding,
  2. we live a worthy life,
  3. we bear fruit;
  4. we grow in our personal and active knowledge of God,
  5. we become strong in the power of the Holy Spirit,
  6. we have great endurance and patience,
  7. and we give joyful thanks to the Father!

We are no long trapped in the dominion of darkness, but He has brought us into the kingdom of Christ. How? Through the forgiveness of sins–our redemption by way of the cross. It is at this point that we should exclaim as Paul did in Romans 11,

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.

Romans 11:33-36

Abba, You have done so much for us at great expense to Yourself. May we take our salvation very seriously and “study to show ourselves approved by You, workmen who need not be ashamed, right handling the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Your Word is truth; Lord Jesus, You are truth, and Your Spirit, who is truth, as well, reveals truth to us. Because of Your great love for us, You have chosen to give us the mind of Christ! Overwhelm us, O Lord. Wash over us like the waves of the sea! May we get lost in Your love. Amen.

Proverbs 25 12-25-20

Today, we celebrate Christ coming in the flesh so that He could come into our hearts in the Spirit. Is the soil of our hearts ready?

4 Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel; 5 remove wicked officials [anything that is tainted] from the king’s [our] presence, and his throne [our lives] will be established through righteousness.

As we discussed yesterday, Jesus’s first sermon and main theme was Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). “Repentance” means “to turn around and go a different direction.” I like to call it “a course correction.” Ship’s captains used to do it every night when they would look at the stars and check their course. They would make small course corrections. When the weather was bad and days would pass without a clear night, ships might get hundreds of miles off-course, or even shipwreck on islands.

Our lives work the same way. Jesus has always been aware that being in us is far better than us going to Jerusalem three times a year for a course correction. Yet, His Plan included reaching all of humanity and not just one group, so He arranged history–using the actions of sinful men, which is quite a feat–to be such that when the Good News of Jesus Christ came, it could go out to all the civilized world, first to Jerusalem, then to Judea, then Samaria, and then to the entire world. In fact, it’s still going out! According to the International Mission Board of the SBC, only 75% of languages have the Scriptures translated. There’s still work to do!

Can Christ come at any time? Absolutely! He is not bound to humans sharing the Gospel orally or in written form. Throughout the centuries, He has appeared to many through dreams and visions. IMetMessiah.com has many stories where Christ appeared to these Jews in dreams and visions! There are other websites that have testimonies of Muslims who have had Christ appear to them in dreams and visions. The Gospel is moving fast across our world!

How about in our lives? What is keeping us from enjoying the presence of Jesus? Have we filled our time with activities? Are our schedules so tight that we do not have time to sit at His feet? When reading about Mary and Martha, Martha’s activities were legitimate, but Christ transcended this world’s concept of necessity:

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

More than food, which is our greatest necessity on this earth, Jesus made sitting at His feet the greatest priority. May we do the same. He tells us in Matthew 6:25-34 to not worry about our lives, what we will eat or drink or wear (which includes where we live and our station in life). The world runs after more stuff, better stuff, social status, health, and better security. Jesus said that all of these are like the grass of the field, “which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire.” Instead, He makes our relationship with Him our highest priority, our greatest concern, and the way to complete fulfillment.

We are approaching 2021. Let’s use this week to prepare our hearts and lives for Jesus to do something radical to us, for us, AND WITH US. Satan will whisper to us, “Surely not.” When you hear these words, REBUKE THEM! DO NOT RECEIVE THEM! Take that thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Let’s finish this year well.

Abba, may I take into consideration my own teaching here. I want to finish this year well, so I pause and reflect on my communion with You this past year. It has been good–mainly because of COVID in that I have had extra time at home. Thank You for having me begin my day with You. It helps so much to be in tune with Your Spirit as I begin and walk through my day. I want to finish well in my life, LORD, serving You and making everything I am and have available to You to further Your kingdom. Use me; I am Yours. Amen.

Proverbs 25 11-25-20

If there is no desire to learn about God in His Word, then there may be a deeper problem than simple rebellion…

28 Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control [the Spirit].

Our desire to please God comes from the Lord inside us. His Spirit testifies with Him (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). If a person does not recognize this connection and learn to respond to it, then there may be NO SPIRIT present in his life. In other words, he may have “fire insurance,” but no true salvation!

Jesus painted a very sobering picture with a story:

24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” Luke 11:24-26

A person who accepts Jesus as Lord but does not surrender his life to Him may get a perception of salvation (fire insurance), but he didn’t get Jesus! In fact, he is actually worse off than if he had never responded to the Good News about Jesus: Like with a vaccine, he is now inoculated with the Gospel–he has a dead strain that keeps him for getting the real thing. Hear the words of Jesus Himself:

28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God [we read, He speaks] and obey it.” Luke 11:28

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.  24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. John 14:23-24

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23

To know Jesus means that we have Him as Lord of our lives. He lives in us; HE gives the orders and we obey. It really is that simple.

If you have any doubts about your salvation, just know that Satan will never make you doubt if you are lost. He wants you thinking you are saved when you’re not. But, if you are feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit, then do what you did at first: Make Him your first love. Give all you know of you to all you know of Him. And then find out all you can about Him IN HIS WORD.

Abba, I pray that every reader would feel some conviction about spending time in Your Word. May they receive a hunger and a thirst for Your righteousness, which is found in the pages of Scripture–both Old and New! Thank You for leading me to Jeremiah; WOW, what a book! I hear from every page, “WAKE UP!” May You wake me up, O Lord, and praise Your holy name, study Your holy word, and live a holy life. Amen.

Proverbs 25 10-25-20

We either walk in the flesh or we walk in the Spirit. There’s not an in between. Let’s choose to walk in the Spirit.

Proverbs 25:18-20 (NIV)

Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is the man who gives false testimony against his neighbor.

Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble.

Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.

These verses show us that a person walking in the flesh (our own strength, knowledge and wisdom) can be very insensitive, unreliable, and in error about many things. In fact, without the Holy Spirit’s guidance and discernment, we will be wrong MOST of the time.

Let’s use an illustration from today’s technological world: We are designed to be incorporated into a network via the Holy Spirit. HE is our CPU. If we never access the Mainframe, then our files become corrupted. Actually, they began with a virus, which is our sin nature, so we were corrupted from the beginning. Only Jesus can wipe our hard drive clean, restore our original programming, and reconnect us to the mainframe.

Let’s stay connected to Him through His Word, prayer, worship, fellowship and teaching. We MUST have a steady diet of each of these in order to be healthy spiritually. Just sayin. Have a great day in church.

Abba, May Your Spirit move mightily among Your people today. May we connect with You and with each other through You. Bind our hearts together with cords that cannot be broken, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 25 9-25-20

We don’t just “read the Bible.” We search the Scriptures to find the LORD Jesus in them. His Spirit lights our way.

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.

The Bible itself–the pages upon which the words are written–is not holy in and of itself. In other words, the book we hold is not a sacred item. We treat it with the respect we show all books, but it is not holy unto itself. It is the message within the pages that is sacred. God breathed those words, the Scriptures; whether they are passed along on pages or upon the breath of other humans (orally) doesn’t matter; whether they are in a beautifully bound leather book with gold-leaf pages or on worn note cards or even sticky notes, it is the message that is important.

The Jews of Thessalonica did not, as a whole, accept Paul’s testimony of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach (Jesus the Messiah). They refused to see the LORD Jesus in the Scriptures. In fact, it is inferred that they didn’t even look! Just down the road, the Berean Jews “were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number or prominent Greek women and many Greek men.” Acts 17:11-12.

For us, who have the collection of the Torah (first five books), the Israeli history, the poetry, and the prophecies, then the Gospels, the history (Acts), the letters, and the final prophecy (Revelation), we have a great resource in our hands. We have it in many translations and paraphrases, as well as electronically. The problem we have is availing ourselves to it and then making application. So, let’s take a passage and use it as an example. This Sunday, we will be doing this same exercise:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
    the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:1-8

“The LORD” referred to in this passage is Adonai, the LORD our LORD, or God. The angel is more specific as well as Isaiah in referring to Him as “the LORD of Hosts.” We have heard that name before in the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” in the phrase, “LORD Sabaoth His name,” and again in the song, “Whom Shall I Fear,” in the phrase, “God of angel armies.” But, where is the LORD Jesus in the Scriptures?

Although He is seated next to His Father (see John 17:24), the LORD Jesus is not mentioned directly. But, we have only to look to the altar to find Him. Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” The blood of Jesus in on the altar! This cleansing, transforming blood is what cleansed and transformed Isaiah. It is the SAME BLOOD that cleanses and transforms us! How do I know this–and how did the blood of Christ get on the altar 700+ years before Christ died on the cross? I read it in another Scripture passage, “…the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” Revelation 13:8. The framework of salvation was already in place before God created a single item on this earth. WOW! 

This process of looking for the LORD Jesus in the Scriptures is something that we have the great privilege to do every day. The question is: Are we doing it? Let this lesson be a prompt for you to “search the Scriptures daily.” Let’s look for our LORD in His Scriptures and find Him on every page!

Abba, You ARE on every page. Your Spirit speaks the words of life to me as I read them and especially when I read them out loud. May I take them seriously, LORD, as seriously as they were given. They are “words of eternal life” as Peter put it John 6:68. In fact, You ARE the Word (John 1:1). May I never forget that! Bless me as I read Your Scriptures, LORD, and then bless me as I teach. Amen.

Proverbs 25 8-25-20

As we read the NT, we come to a deeper understanding and ever clearer picture of sin and our role in it. We see why Christ died for us.

4 Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel; 5 remove wicked officials [or the wickedness from the officials] from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.

Even though we have been forgiven of all sin–past, present, and future–and have the Holy Spirit–Jesus Christ Himself–in residence in us, we still have a lot to learn about godliness–becoming like God. We need the wickedness removed from our hearts and from our flesh. Knowing that this process is a lifelong one and that it will not be fully completed this side of heaven, it is a daunting task. Aren’t we GLAD that it’s not about the process, but about our walking with Him through the process? We must constantly keep in mind that IT’S ALL ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP. This fact is why we can sin and not break our relationship with Him. It DOES interfere with our fellowship, but that is easily restored when we turn around (repent) and fix our eyes, focus, and will back on Jesus.

Let’s take a look at sin and its effects on the human soul.

The first thing we need to do is to define sin. It is rebellion- “resistance to or defiance of any authority, control, or tradition.” We all need the term, “rebellious,” added to the term, “sinner,” so that it reads “rebellious sinner” each time we refer to the human heart before coming to Christ. We are dead in our sins, which means that we have no spiritual life in us, we are in the enemy’s camp, and we follow OUR desires, which are manipulated by Satan (Ephesians 2:1-3).

As grand as our lives may be, there’s something wrong. Our connection to God has been lost and our souls know it. We have a God-sized hole in our hearts; we may try to fill it with pleasure, stuff, power, and self-fulfillment, but our hearts know what is needed. How do we get that connection back? Do we WANT it back? Some people are content to buy Satan’s line that we can do it our way and either there is nothing after death or that God will let us into heaven anyway. We might even believe that we come back to earth as something or someone else (reincarnation). According to God’s own testimony, THAT AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN.

What are we willing to do and how far are we willing to go to be right with God? To answer this question, we look at Jesus Himself. He left heaven and all His glory to come to earth, live a humble life, be rejected by His own people, suffer, die on a cross, and be buried in a borrowed tomb. By the way, the reason it was borrowed is because He knew He wasn’t staying long. Kind of like an air BnB.

While we’re on the subject, what broke our relationship with God? SIN. Sin is our rebellion against God. We want our way instead of His way. We are rebellious sinners. The problem with sin is it destroys us, which is why God hates sin. Sin also separates us from God. We walk away from Him and straight into a tar pit, one that makes us filthy and sucks us down. We are stuck! We can’t clean ourselves off, nor can we clean others. No amount of good works or penance can do it. WE NEED JESUS. His blood is the ONLY thing that can cleanse us of our sin of rebellion. Once we are cleansed, then and only then can our relationship with God be restored. He even comes to live in our hearts and guides our lives! We have sweet fellowship with Him–just like it was always meant to be.

Knowing this “dirty little secret” about ourselves, we have a real appreciation and gratitude for all that Christ went through to get us back. The more we understand and comprehend our rebellious sinfulness and His great love and mercy, the more we want to put off our old nature and put on His new nature, the one that is “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:24.

A very good description of us is found in Titus 3:3-7,

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.

  1. We were slaves. It’s that simple. Satan ruled us. See John 8:42-44 for a further description.
  2. God saved us, washed away our sins, gave us new birth and new life through His Holy Spirit who now lives in us!
  3. We are right in His sight!!!
  4. We have confidence/faith that we will inherit eternal life.

Knowing these things makes us want to break out in praise like Paul in Romans 11:33-36,

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 join Paul in Your praise. You alone are worthy. May You become greater in my life as I become less. John the Baptist, indeed, had it right (John 3:30). Amen.

Proverbs 25 7-25-20

Let’s make sure that any civil disobedience on our part is for the sake of Christ and not our rights.

26 Like a muddied spring or a polluted well
are the righteous who give way to the wicked.

We have one goal as Christians: Obedience to our LORD.

He tells us to obey the law of the land–but only to a point. We are called to never renounce our faith even in the face of ridicule, loss of property, violence, prison, and even death. Let’s consider Paul:

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. 2 Timothy 2:8-10

What can we learn from Paul?

  1. Paul preached Jesus is Messiah, crucified and resurrected; this was his gospel. The Jewish leaders hated him because of his message, and the Romans hated him because he preached only one God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
  2. Paul suffered at great personal expense for sharing his gospel. He was beaten, whipped, stoned, and imprisoned.
  3. “But God’s word is not chained.” “Historians have come to a similar judgment: ‘Every public execution was a great and often successful advocating opportunity for the church.’ It was not primarily what the Christians said that carried weight with outsiders; it was what they did and embodied that was both disconcerting and converting.” The Patient Ferment of the Early Church by Alan Kreider, page 51.
  4. Paul endured everything for the sake of those who would entrust their lives to Jesus Christ even if it called for his death.

Here is the Promise upon which Paul based his faith:

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. 2 Timothy 2:11-13

  1. Jesus said that He is the Resurrection and the Life and that those who believe in Him will live, even though they die (John 11:25-26).
  2. If we endure-We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. Hebrews 6:11
  3. If we disown Him-“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33
  4. If we are faithless-this phrase is different than disowning Him. It happens when we are afraid and we act out of our fear. The LORD understands. He comes to us and comforts us and helps us overcome our fear. He is our Continuing Savior (not just once, but until we get to Him).

This is my own editorial: If I am commanded to wear a mask, then I will wear a mask. If I am commanded to limit the number of people I am around, then I will limit the number of people I am around. But, if I am commanded to quit meeting altogether, then I will respectfully (if clandestinely) commit civil disobedience, for Jesus Christ requires His Church to meet together for worship, discipleship, encouragement, exhortation, comfort, and to show solidarity. Come sickness or fines or even arrest, I WILL be faithful to my LORD. The meeting doesn’t have to be big, it just has to meet. Just sayin.

May we have confidence in our LORD that whatever happens, He will bring glory to His name and people to His side. All we have to do is look back throughout history to find many stories of great heroes of faith–and I’m not even talking about Hebrews 11. We serve a mighty God, so let’s let Him be mighty in our lives.

Abba, I first pray that You would protect us from rulings that would keep us from meeting as Your church. Then, I pray that if those rulings come, that they are for the express purpose of letting our lights shine so that people You have chosen to speak to through our circumstances will come to You. Last, I pray that we will be faithful to You and NEVER renounce our faith in You or disown You. Give us strength; give us courage; May Your Spirit rise within us and may we be champions of the faith! You gave all for us; I pledge my all to You. Amen.

Proverbs 25 6-25-20

Today, we read 1 John 2:3-18 and ask ourselves this question, “If I claim to know God, do I obey Him?”

19 Like a broken tooth or a lame foot
    is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.

Test #1 Do you walk in His light?

1 John is full of Salvation Tests. The first one is 1:7, “If we walk in His light, as He is in the light [all things visible], we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Test #2 Do you know God and obey Him?

The second test is 2:4, “Whoever says, ‘I know him [God],’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” John goes on to say that a person who obeys His word is made complete in God’s love. “Complete” means to fulfill, to accomplish, and to consummate (in character). We become like Jesus. 1 John 4:17b says, “In this world we are like Jesus.”

Test #3 Do you live as Jesus lived?

Test #3 is verse 6, “Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus lived.” A pastor had a 16 year old son who had long hair. His dad asked him to get it cut. The son replied, “Jesus had long hair.” The pastor shot back, “Yeah, and he walked everywhere He went, too.” I’m thinking John was referring to character traits, don’t you? Jesus lived full of grace and truth. These are our goals, as well.

One example given is hating a brother or sister in Christ. Hating involves judgement, of which Jesus said not to do (Matthew 5:43-45, 7:1-5). Jesus also said that in forgiving our brother, we are made perfect (Matthew 5:48). Now, where have we seen that word before…!

Verses 12-14 resemble a song to me. It’s a way of memorizing doctrine.

  1. Children (verse 1)- Their sins have been forgiven on account of His name.
  2. Fathers (refrain)- They know Him who is from the beginning (a teaching on the transcendence and immanence of God through Christ).
  3. Young Men (verse 2)- They have overcome the evil one (in Jesus’ name).
  4. Children (verse 3)- They know the Father.
  5. Fathers (refrain)- Repeat.
  6. Young Men (verse 2b)- The word of God lives in them plus previous verse.

Verses 15 and 16 are test #4.

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

Test #4  Do you love the world?

  1. Do you feed the lust of your flesh–that which makes you feel good regardless of its morality or the lack thereof?
  2. Do you feed the lust of your eyes–looking with avarice in your heart, or lust, or hate, and coax it to grow within you?
  3. Do you feed your pride–that which makes you feel above others, satisfied with life, and having no need for God?

It is at this point that we must ask ourselves who we want to please: God or ourselves? If we want to please God, then we must obey Him concerning these three vices. If we want to please ourselves, then we cannot, should not, and must not claim to know God as our Father.

We choose sin because it seems to be the better option for us than what God is offering. BEWARE! There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death/destruction” Proverbs 16:25. John gives us this promise in verse 17, “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” Now, THAT’S A PROMISE!

The three lures, lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, are three of Satan’s biggest tricks in his bag–and, oh, what tricks! Virtually all sins fall under these three headings. Satan even used them on Jesus–but, to no avail. See Luke 4:1-13. Why? Because His “better option” was far above what Satan had to offer. Ours is, too, if we study and believe what God has said in His Word.

Today, look at every temptation you run across through the lens of verses 15-16 and identify those temptations according to the BIG THREE. It’s an interesting exercise! Let me know how it goes.

Abba, I pray for my readers today that they would enjoy looking at the world through Your eyes as they identify the traps of Satan and their own tendencies toward sinful behavior. May You fill them with Your joy and peace; may they revel in the knowledge and security of their salvation; may Your presence and participation in their lives eliminate their desire to seek after other things. Me, too, LORD. Amen.

 

Proverbs 25 5-25-20

Sometimes a guy just needs a platform, a soapbox from which to speak. I give you:

Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right (see #1). 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us through the Indwelling and Filling!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

Today, we look at number one,

Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion,      it must stand the closest scrutiny.

Proverbs 25:7b-8 What you have seen with your eyes do not bring hastily into court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?

Without evidence, all we have are opinions. The natural laws, of which Gravity, Electromagnetism, Physics, and Chemistry are examples, have empirical, changeless evidence, which gives us absolute truth. We cannot add “science” to the group because science is the study of the natural laws. Also, it is progressive in nature, meaning that it is always in flux based upon revelation. For example, blood-letting used to be good science; now we know it kills people. Likewise, chocolate and caffeine are good for you one year and then bad for you the next, and then back again.

Since mankind is physical and controlled (regulated) by natural laws, we should consider that our psyche has absolute truth, too. True, we are subject to our heredity, environment, and experiences, but it all comes down to CHOICE. What’s the choice? The choice is whether we will please ourselves or take into consideration the needs of others. All moral law is built upon this choice.

Since chaos cannot produce order, but rather more chaos, we must acknowledge that God created the universe and, thus, the natural laws. We must also conclude that He built within us His moral law and the ability to CHOOSE. It is called Free Will. There are three choices to Free Will:

  1. We choose to please ourselves. We take what we want and do not consider the health, safety or needs of anyone else. Followed to its logical conclusion, we will either rule the world or die/be killed in the process. Even ruling the world would be only for a short time on the scale of eternity–or even human history–with no consideration of God.
  2. We choose to consider others’ needs. From a philanthropic standpoint, we can do this without God. Bill Gates has a philanthropic organization out of which he spends millions of dollars in aide, but he does not believe or follow God. Followed to its logical conclusion, why? The only reason is that meeting the needs of others pleases us, which takes us back to #1.
  3. We choose to obey Jesus Christ. We believe that Christ created everything and everyone and is actively working in this world in events, circumstances, and in people’s lives. To obey Christ is to deny ourselves and consider the needs of others. Consider these verses:

Luke 14:11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

James 1:27 The religious observance that God the Father considers pure and faultless is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being contaminated by the world. CJB

Philippians 2:3-5 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…

Followed to its logical conclusion, we receive the Father’s love and grace, forgiveness and acceptance along with His love, joy, peace, His constant companionship, and a hope for an eternal home with Him with all the privileges of sonship.

From a logical standpoint, it makes sense to follow Christ. But, it’s not as simple as deciding with our intellect that Christ is the better deal. HE must call us. He IS God, you know. We don’t just waltz into the throne room and demand our way. That way of thinking/acting would put us right back into numbers 1 and 2. Fortunately, Jesus may even now be knocking on your heart’s door. Will you let Him in?

Tomorrow, we will look at what it means to consider another option. A better one.

Abba, thank You for calling me to be Your son. I choose Jesus as my Savior and Lord, my Companion and Friend. Answering the door of my heart when You knocked on it was the smartest and wisest thing I have ever done! We have been walking together for 53 years, LORD. “Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My heart and my flesh fail, but YOU are the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:25-26. The words of this hymn speak my heart to You, O LORD, and is my benediction:

v.1 Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light
v.2 Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one
v.3 Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art
v.4 High King of Heaven, my victory won
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

Be Thou My Vision – Glad

Proverbs 25 4-25-20

For Christians, hearing the voice of God is easier than we think. In fact, it sounds like our own voice!

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings [the King’s children].

Seeking the voice and will of God is the desire of every Christian’s heart. It is the basis for our relationship established upon salvation. If we have the Holy Spirit within us, then we will want interaction with Him. It’s hard to get away from Someone living inside of you!

There are three reasons why we cannot discern His voice and feel His presence.

  1. Sin. In order to sin, we must deliberately turn away (in our minds and hearts) from facing Christ. Spiritually, we “close our ears” to His voice. We use the sin and its effects on us to numb us to the feeling of conviction that the Spirit uses to call us back. The Remedy: REPENT! In our minds, all we have to do is turn around and face the Father. We confess our sin, our willingness to sin, and our unfaithfulness (remember that confession is simply agreeing with God that what we are doing is not right–He already knows what we are doing!). I promise that we will find love and forgiveness immediately! The tension between us and the Spirit evaporates. We are made new again! Great is His faithfulness!!!
  2. We aren’t listening. Believe it or not, most professing Christians don’t read their Bibles on a daily basis. The problem is that it is our best and most tangible way to hear God’s voice speaking to us! Jesus wrote down His plan for mankind and for the world. He wrote down His plan for salvation and how He wants to interact with us. He wrote down how much He loves us! ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS READ IT. 
  3. We don’t recognize His voice. His voice sounds like our voice in our heads. Jesus’ intention was to be one with us, so much so that His thoughts become our thoughts. When we “see” something and recognize its spiritual significance, that is the Holy Spirit calling our attention to it. We think in our minds, “Hey, looky there. I wonder if that’s important.” What is happening is the Holy Spirit is saying, “Look over there. See that? That’s important.” Our tendency is to say to ourselves, “Nah. That couldn’t be God talking to me. I’m not that important.” Oh, how we grieve the Spirit when we dismiss His voice and instruction! God is interested in the minutiae of our lives. Every detail, every thought, every conversation matters to our growth in becoming like Him.

Let’s focus today on recognizing His voice in us. Let’s try stepping back from situations and analyzing them from His perspective. Let’s try praying before any word comes out of our mouths in conversation with someone. Let’s look for spiritual situations and needs in the lives of those around us. Most people need prayer: Some need encouragement, some need protection, and some need conviction. All of us need all three at some point in our lives!

Are you interested in hearing from God? It will require you to do what He says. One time, my mother, who suffered 41 years with Chronic Hepatitis C (it’s like having a mild case of the flu all the time), got off the couch and came into the kitchen. “Want some help?” she asked Robin. Robin replied, “Do you mean it?” Mom said, “No,” and went back into the living room and laid down on the couch. She had good reason–but WE DON’T! Let’s not have that attitude with the Lord. He has so many blessings waiting for us if we will only follow His guidance.

Abba, I pray that everyone reading this post will feel Your Spirit right now calling them to walk with You. May they feel the burning in their hearts as they read Your Word and hear Your voice just like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:32). Doing Your will, Lord, is the most satisfying thing we can do today! Your will is good, pleasing [to Him; notice it doesn’t say “pleasant”], and perfect (Romans 12:2). Let’s get going, Abba! Amen.

Proverbs 25 3-25-20

Christians should handle stress differently than the world. Our God is on His throne!!! What does humanity tell us compared to what His Word tells us?

From: eDocAmerica.com Concerning Stress Management
Be Mindful –
When you have a lot going on, and your mind is thinking of all of the worst case scenarios, racing thoughts can take control and get away from you.  Make yourself stop and focus on being exactly where you are for just one or two minutes.  Do this by taking the time to notice:
    • 5 things that you can see
    • 4 things that you can feel
    • 3 things that you can hear
    • 2 things that you can smell
    • 1 thing that you can taste
You may not be able to notice all of these things, but the idea is to reach out with your senses and notice the things around you.  Maybe you will notice how intense the lights are in the room, or the pressure of your body in the chair, or maybe the sound of a bird outside your window.  Be right here, right now.  Avoid going backward or forward in your mind.  Just be in the moment, in the exact place that you are.

As Christians, we have an advantage over the world in handling stress. God tells us to “cast your cares/burdens/stress/anxiety upon Him [the LORD] because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7. We are to instructed to:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

Let’s take that list and “Christianize” it:

  • 5 things we can see:
    1. God working
    2. People in need
    3. Our world barreling toward destruction
    4. Revival on the verge of breaking out
    5. Our LORD Jesus preparing to return!
  • 4 things we can feel:
    1. His peace in our hearts
    2. Our connection with other Christians
    3. The fear of those around us who don’t know Christ
    4. His urging to share His good news when given the opportunity
  • 3 things we can hear:
    1. His voice over our shoulder
    2. His voice through His Word
    3. His voice in what we run across on the web and what we read/watch/listen to
  • 2 things we can smell:
    1. The aroma of Christ in others
    2. The aroma of Christ in us
  • 1 thing we can taste:
    1. “Taste and see that the LORD is good;” “His Word is sweeter than honey to my lips.”

As we can see, we have a lot for which to be thankful. Let’s be a GRATEFUL people today; let’s be a JOYFUL people and a HOPE-FILLED people. Let’s be the LIGHT OF CHRIST to all around us.

Abba, You are amazing. May I redeem this “down” time by upping my game in the spirituality department. My time with You has been sweeter lately; may I capitalize on our connection and allow You to grow it stronger. With whom may I share Christ today? #showme. Amen.