Proverbs 26 9-26-21

We are new creations in Christ. So, what were we and what are we now?

12 Do you see a person wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool [one who knows what is wrong, but does it anyway] than for him [he can’t see his folly].

So, what were we like? We were egocentric, self-absorbed, and wise in our own eyes. We were entitled, proud, vain, impatient, selfish, angry, arrogant, spiteful, full of rage, gluttonous (these were pulled from Romans 13:13, Galatians 5:19-21, Titus 3:3]. We lived to serve ourselves or we focused on someone who we thought could give us what we needed. Either way, it was about us.

What happens when we receive the Spirit of Christ? He begins to transform us into selfless, abandoned, humble, kind, self-denying, compassionate, diligent, pure-thinking, forgiving, gentle, loving, and even-tempered Christ followers (see Ephesians 4-5 and Galatians 5:22-23).

Which list do we find ourselves seeking to be and do? It lets us know where we need work. In fact, right now you are thinking, “I really want to be the second list, but it looks impossible.” True, but the fact that you want that list shows that you have the Spirit of Christ in you! Also, we were never meant to do the list by ourselves. HE gives us first the desire and then the power to do it–He wants to do it with us. We are partners with Christ (He’s the senior partner).

If, by chance, you don’t have the pull to be the second list and some of the first list hits you between the eyes, let’s go over the basics:

  1. Has there ever come a time in your life that the Spirit revealed to you that you were dead in your sins, that there was nothing good in you, and that you needed Him? If we were to go to the morgue and pull out one of the drawers, we would find a dead body. There is not a cell left in that body with any life in it, and therefore, there is no way it can help itself come back to life. That body needs the spark of life put back into it. Spiritually, we all start the same way, dead. Jesus wants to put the spark of eternal life into us.
  2. Have you asked God to give you new life with Jesus at the controls? He wants to be “senior partner” in a partnership with you.
  3. Has the Holy Spirit come into your life and made His home in your heart? This is how we are made into new creations where the old life with its sinful habits passes away and the new life in Christ comes! The change that has begun in us may be slow in revealing itself, but it’s sure.

The nice thing about following Christ is that He really just expects us to do the next right thing. That’s all. He will direct us in that right thing. All we have to do is obey Him. He will even empower us to do it as He does it with us. All of the changes in that second list come by walking in step with the Savior (Galatians 5:25). He rubs off on us! By focusing on Jesus and His character, we begin to emulate Him in character. Pleasing Him pleases us. He is always pleased with us, but we find peace and joy when we are obedient to Him. The camaraderie we share with Him is out of this world!

As we worship in our respective houses of worship, may we align ourselves with Him. May we praise Him and worship Him and pledge our lives to Him. May we do the next right thing according to His direction and His participation in our lives. THAT’S how new creations live!

Abba, thank You for making me a new creation. Having You in my life is worth everything to me. And Your promises–WOW! You will never leave me nor forsake me, and You will be coming back for me real soon to take me to where You are. It doesn’t get any better than that! Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 26 8-26-21

God is love, but He is also just. The law of love begins and ends with Him. Anything outside of it comes under judgement.

27 Whoever digs a pit [intending malice] will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone [intending harm], it will roll back on him [boomerang justice].

Our salvation is like two sides of a coin:

  1. We get to have a relationship with the God of the universe!
  2. We need a Savior because of our sin; we need Jesus!

God imparts to us His righteousness because of our reconciliation to Him through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18, 21). From that point on, He sees us as righteous. Our sin and its debt are blotted out–it’s not even legible anymore! A person may ask, “Does God choose who comes to Him and who doesn’t?” The answer is YES–and NO.

It is YES in that Jesus makes known the Father to whom He chooses,

27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Matthew 11:27

It is NO in that Jesus beckons all to come to Him,

28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

What does it take for a person to become one of God’s elect? All we have to do is ask!

Jesus made a very apt point in a comparison story:

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11

Even as far back as Isaiah, we have this promise:

18 Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

Isaiah 1:18

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

Isaiah 55:1

And, just as it is God who saves us, He also keeps us. Wendel Estep once said, “Our fellowship with God is very fragile because it depends on us. Our relationship with God is very secure because it depends on Him.” In the same way that we chose to follow Christ and receive the new life and are adopted by God the Father, we choose to follow Him every day. In following Him, we train in holiness. Sure, it’s dirty work (whoever said that God can’t look upon sin…!), but the Holy Spirit is purifying us (Titus 2:14) to be a spotless bride for the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27).

So, when we present Christ, be sure to present both sides of the coin. Be aware of which side to emphasize according to your audience, but make sure that both sides are presented. It’s important.

Abba, thank You that You chose me. Thank You for all Jesus did to give me the opportunity to respond to His call. Knowing You personally is beyond words! May I share with anyone who will listen. Lead me to them, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 26 7-26-21

Call out to the Holy Spirit. Is He speaking to you now? Answer Him with a resounding yes!

12 Do you see a person wise in his own eyes? there is more hope for a fool than for him.

Living for Christ or living for ourselves answers the question about whom we serve. Is Christ really in you? When I first trusted in Christ, I knew a few Bible stories including Jesus’ death and resurrection. I didn’t put my trust in the stories, but in the Savior as His Spirit drew me. Since then, I have studied His life, as well as the background information given in the Old Testament, and have found Him to be TRUE to His Word…

  1. Concerning His ORIGIN: Jesus said that He came from God (John 7:16-17). In fact, He said that Abraham saw His day and was glad (John 8:56). He even called Himself by God’s name, I AM (John 8:58).
  2. Concerning His MISSION: Jesus said that He only did what He saw His Father doing (I assume that He could see the Holy Spirit working in those around Him; John 5:19-20). He said that He came to be lifted up and that He would draw all people to Himself (John 12:32).
  3. Concerning His PROMISE: He promised that He will come back for us (John 14:3). At the renewal of all things (Matthew 19:28), Jesus will sit on His glorious throne and judge everyone, for good or for bad (John 5:25-27, Matthew 25:31-32). Of the place of His throne and the time of His Coming, He said, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority.” We would do well to keep our eschatology vague. He said that He was coming again, and that’s enough for me.

Want to be mature in Christ? Then develop a love for His Word, both Old and New Testaments. The Old is the foundation of the New, and the New is the fulfillment of the Old. We don’t follow the Old Covenant, but we do learn from the history and prophecies. They are what provide the background and setting for the New Covenant. For instance, Jesus’ prophecy about the separating of the sheep and the goats is grounded in Isaiah 58:6-7,

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Jesus wants your life. Give it to Him daily by reading and studying His Word; then apply what you read through obedience. It’s the only way to grow spiritually. It is also how He spends time with us. The more we spend being obedient to His Word, the more He shares with us insights into spiritual things. It is how we become wise:

13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 1 Corinthians 2:13

Are you ready? Let’s go! For starters, study the book of John. You may have noticed that I quoted from it extensively today. John wants us to know that Jesus is God. His book is a great place to start.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would develop a hunger and a thirst for Your Word and for righteousness (Matthew 5:6), for You promise that You will fill us with good things of the Spirit. I’m ready, Lord. Fill me that I may know Your thoughts and see people as You see them. I want to be just like You, Jesus. Please make it so. Amen.

Proverbs 26 6-26-21

Why would a person want to become a Christ-follower? We need to be ready to answer this question.

Answer [and correct the erroneous concepts of] a fool according to his folly [when he asks],
Otherwise he will be wise in his own eyes [if he thinks you agree with him].
AMP

My pastor and I were brainstorming the other day and he wrote down these five things that are easily shared with someone who asks why a person would want to become a Christ-follower.

Life Without God means:

  1. No wisdom
  2. Bondage
  3. No real peace
  4. No power
  5. No true satisfaction.
  1. No wisdom- Being able to determine when someone is lying to you is a big deal. Satan has most people fooled, so they spout off his lies as if they are truth: Darwinism (Darwin), psychoanalysis (Freud), and Communism (Marx) are three that took the world by storm at the turn of the 19th Century. Knowing what truth really is comes from the Truth-Giver, Jesus.
  2. Bondage- Whether we recognize it or not, we are slaves to that which controls us. Our sin controls us, therefore, we are slaves to sin. We need a Savior.
  3. No real peace- When we control our circumstances, we have a sense of peace. The problem is that we rarely control our circumstances, therefore, we rarely have this sense of peace, much less, maintain it.
  4. No power- We cannot control our circumstances, nor can we control other people (for long). We cannot change them; we cannot even change ourselves very much or for very long. We don’t usually have the desire to change; it’s easier to just rock along…
  5. No true satisfaction- Because we are just rocking along, there’s really no point to life. We accept circumstances as they come–or we rail against them–because we have no power to control what happens in our lives. There is some satisfaction to getting our way, and there is a fleeting satisfaction to sin, but both are temporary and illusive.

Life With God Means:

  1. Great Wisdom
  2. Freedom
  3. Real Peace
  4. His Power
  5. Real Satisfaction
  1. Great wisdom- With the Spirit comes the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). When we die to ourselves and focus on Him (Romans 6:11, 1 Peter 2:24), we ask Him what He thinks about any given circumstance, subject, or opportunity. He instructs us in the way we should go or not go, in what to say or not say, and in what to do or not do.
  2. Freedom- We are free from the chains of sin (Romans 8:1-2, Galatians 5:1)! We do only what we want to do, which is to serve our new Lord and Master, Jesus Christ! Our heavenly Father is pleased with us and we have His Spirit to lead us in righteous behavior and attitudes. In Christ, we are free indeed! We COULD live to serve ourselves, but why would we want to? Jesus is the One with the words of eternal life (John 6:68).
  3. Real peace- Jesus gives us His peace (John 14:27, 16:33). It goes way beyond circumstantial peace and even beyond happiness. It originates at the throne of God and flows through us to others, just like His love and joy do.
  4. Real power- We have resurrection power available to us to overcome sin (Ephesians 1:20, 1 John 5:4-5, 2 Timothy 1:7). We access that power when we yield to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. It is always available because He is always available in us.
  5. Real satisfaction- Satisfaction comes from knowing that we are safe and secure in Jesus’ arms. The love, joy and peace that we feel give us a feeling of satisfaction that cannot be duplicated by the world (that’s what drugs and sex are all about). We are content with our circumstances because we know that we have a sure inheritance awaiting us with Jesus (our persecuted brothers and sisters know this differentiation very well). We live in His promise that He will either come and get us to take us to be with Him or that He will come again when He combines heaven and earth (John 14:1-4, Matthew 19:28, Acts 3:21, Romans 8:19-21).

When we share the Gospel, our first job is to give our testimony. The power of Christ in our lives is what is so attractive to a person in whom the Holy Spirit is working. The information above answers the question of why a person would want to become a Christ-follower. I pray that it comes in handy the next time someone questions you.

Abba, I look forward to using this information in sharing You with others. I realize that there’s not anything in there about what is required to follow Jesus, like the forsaking of ourselves and our sin, receiving Your gift of eternal life, the entry of the Holy Spirit into our lives, and our pledge to follow His direction and counsel from now on. We can share that information at another time or as You lead. For right now, we want to be faithful witnesses to the Truth. In partnership with You, I know we will be. Amen.

Proverbs 26 5-26-21

Ever feel like your signal between you and the LORD is fuzzy? It’s because “life” gets in the way. Confess it to Him.

28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts,
    and a flattering mouth works ruin.

28:13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
    but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

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. We looked at Recognition of God’s Character (Adoration) yesterday. Today, we will look at Acknowledgement of Our Character (Confession).

Our sins have not been covered as they were under the Law, but they have been washed away by the blood of Jesus (Zechariah 3:9 and 1 Corinthians 6:11). We have been cleansed and are now blameless in God’s eyes (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Positionally, we have been made sons of God (women, too, have been raised to the position of sonship; see Romans 8:14-17 and the note at the end of this post*). Relationally, though, we can allow sin to come between us and our Lord. It won’t condemn us anymore, but it does cloud our vision of Him and plug up our ears so that we cannot hear His gentle voice. He knows it’s there; we are simply agreeing with Him that it IS there, which is called, “confession.”

The best illustration is in John 13 when Jesus and His disciples were celebrating the Last Supper together. Let’s read it:

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” John 13:2-1

In Christ, we are clean positionally. We simply need the dust washed off our feet. Confession is what allows the Holy Spirit to remove everything that stands between us and hearing Jesus’ voice and seeing Jesus’ face. It’s our recognition of who we are and who He is; it’s proclaiming what we need Him to do for us. We need Him!

I pray that you will practice confession today. It seems like there’s always something that is in the way of our communion with the Lord. Let’s keep the lines of communication as clean as possible.

Abba, it seems that I am constantly having to come to You to help me clear out stuff that gets in the way of hearing You, loving You, and serving You. King David said it best, “Search my heart, O God. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24. Lord, You know this is my prayer every morning. I confess my need of You. Amen.

For your continued reading pleasure:

*From Ray Stedman’s “The Sons of God Among Men”

For the first time in this letter Paul uses the phrase “the sons of God.” Now, I want to make something clear. This is a generic term that includes both sexes. There is no necessity now of referring to a female person as something different than the male. All believers in Christ who really trust him and have received the gift of righteousness by faith are sons of God — regardless of whether they are male or female. There is no need for any differentiation of the sexes here. That is why the Scriptures speak of us — all of us — freely as the “sons of the living God,” (Hos 1:10, Romans 9:26). You see, this speaks of something that is true of our spirit, and our spirit is sexless. Spirit is not identifiable by male or female, so what is true of the human spirit is quite apart from what is true of the body.

It is important in understanding this to recognize right off that not everybody is a son of God. According to Galatians 5, you are sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ. That is what makes you a son of God, nothing else. It is true that we are all creatures of God by natural birth. When Paul was preaching in Athens, that great intellectual center, he mentioned to the Athenians that even their own poets recognized that men came from God. We are the offspring of God, and in him “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), he said. That is true of all human beings everywhere in the world at all times. We are creatures of God. We are the offspring of God.

But Paul is careful to use quite a different word in Romans. Here the word is “sons of God.” We are in the family of God, and this is a very distinctive term. I want to underscore how important this is for us to understand, because it is something that God intends for us to return to when we are in trouble. If you are having difficulty handling your behavior — whether you are not doing what you want to do, or doing what you don’t want to do — the way to handle it is to remind yourself of what God has made you to be. This terminology is tremendously helpful.

In other words, in the struggle that you have with sin within you, you are not a slave, helplessly struggling against a cruel and powerful master; you are a son, a son of the living God, with power to overcome the evil — even though it is a struggle to do so. And though you may be temporarily overcome, you are never ultimately defeated. It cannot be, because you are already constituted children of God. That is why Paul could say in Romans 6, “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace,” (Romans 6:14 KJV). And in this gracious relationship, we are made and constituted sons of the living God. No matter what happens to us, that is what we are. Nothing can change that. That is the place from which we start.

It is important also for us to see how we become sons of God. Paul says, “You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear.” When the Spirit of God came into your heart, he did not make you a slave to fear. Remember how Paul puts that again in Second Timothy 1:7: “You have not received a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind,” (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV). That is the nature of the Holy Spirit. What did the Spirit do? Paul says, “You received the Spirit who makes you sons,” or, literally, “the Spirit of adoption, who adopted you as sons.” How did you become a son of God? Well, the Spirit of God found you, and found me, and he adopted us into God’s family.

I was with a family the other night where there were two adopted children and two natural-born children. I watched all evening long to see if I could tell which were the adopted ones and which were the natural ones. I finally had to ask the parents because I couldn’t tell any difference — even with their looks. Two were adopted into the family and two were natural-born children, but they were all treated so beautifully and so naturally that I couldn’t tell the difference.

Some of you may be saying at this point, “Look, you are confusing me. What do you mean when you say we are adopted into the family of God? I have been taught from the Scriptures that I was born into the family of God. I have been born again.” That is the term that is being bandied about these days. Even politicians are boasting, “I’ve been born again!” Thank God, some of them are. “But,” you say, “some passages talk about the new birth, about being born into the family of God. I thought we were born, not adopted. What do you mean by adopted?” I am glad you asked that question. You see, the truth is that both of these are true. You are both adopted and born into the family of God. As Jesus said on another occasion, “With man that is impossible, but with God, all things are possible,” (Matthew 19:26). You can’t be both adopted and born into a human family, but you can in God’s family. God uses both of these terms because he wants to highlight two different aspects of our belonging to the family of God. You are said to be adopted because God wants you to remember always that you are not naturally part of the family of God. We have been seeing all along in this letter that we are born into Adam’s family, and we are all children of Adam by natural birth. We belong to the human family, and we inherit Adam’s nature. All his defects, all his problems, all the evil that came into his life by his acts of disobedience — all these were passed along to us by natural birth. So by nature we are not part of God’s family. This is just like some of you, who were born into one family, and, then, by a legal process, were taken out of that family and were adopted into another family. From then on you became part of the family that adopted you.

This is what has happened to us. God has taken us out of our natural state in Adam, and, by the process of the Spirit, has made us legally sons of God, and we are part of his family. But he reminds us that we are in his family by adoption so that we might never take it for granted, or forget that if we were left in our natural state we would not have a part in the family of God. It is only by the grace of God that we come into his family. But it is also true that we are born into God’s family. Once we have been adopted, it is also true that, because God is God, he not only makes us legally his sons but he makes us actually partake of the divine nature and we are born into his family. We actually share the nature of God! It is an amazing statement! This tie with Jesus is so real that we are seen to be actually one with him, and we share the divine nature. Peter puts it this way: “We have been made partakers of the divine nature,” (2  Peter 1:4 KJV). So we are as much a part of God’s family as if we had originally been born into it, and we are born into it by the grace of God.

So both of these statements are true. There is nothing more wonderful to remind yourself of, morning by morning, and day by day, than this great fact: If you are a Christian, you are a son of the living God, adopted and born into his family. Because you are his son, God loves you, God protects you, God provides for you, God plans for you, God hears you, God claims you and openly acknowledges you, God chastens and corrects you, and God honors you. All of that is true because you are his son.

We know how we treat our natural children. There is a difference between them and the neighbors’ children. Our children are considerably superior, of course. We may love the neighbors’ children, they may be delightful children. We have some wonderful children in our neighborhood whom we love and admire, but they are not our children. We have a special relationship with our children. We care for them, we hurt for them, we love and protect them, we plan for them, we watch out for them. We are specially tied with them. That is what this is saying to us. God has a special relationship to us. We are the sons of God turned loose among the sons of men.

It would be helpful, I know, if God would put a little mark on us that would indicate that we are his sons. If we had a little red star on our foreheads, then we could tell all the other sons of God. Or perhaps if we had a special glow. (Sometimes that does show, anyway.) But there is no special mark. Outwardly, there is no distinction; but inwardly, there is a tremendous distinction, and that is what we need to understand. We can’t tell by looking at anyone whether he is a son of God or not, though often there is an underlying sense that reveals itself and identifies brothers and sisters in Christ. But there is a vast difference within, and because of that difference, there is a special relationship that God has with us.

Proverbs 26 4-26-21

Foundation and framework are important in building a house and in building a life. Where do you find yours?

9 Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools [those who do not intend to put them to use in their lives].

Last week, we looked at passages of Scripture that I read every morning to help me gain victory my Mastering my Mind and Mastering my Body (days 23 and 24). I have a few more passages that I read every morning. One is Psalm 73:23-26. It also happens to be the foundation and framework of my life.

23 Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

There are several things to note in this passage:

  1. He is not with me; I am with Him. The difference is huge. His presence is my foundation.
  2. He holds me by my “dominant” hand. Since I’m left-handed, He holds that one and thus curtails many temptations for me to try to do things myself.
  3. He guides me with His counsel. His Spirit speaks to me when I read, when I pause, and when I focus. His counsel is my framework. He directs my day.
  4. I have His promise that this world for me will end and that He has a place prepared for me with Him. The kingdom of God (heaven) is my focus.
  5. In fact, even though I have relatives already with Him, HE is the One that matters to me. He is the One I want to see when I get there. You will notice that it is a prayer and not a teaching. So, I use them to bless my Lord and commit myself to Him by letting Him know that I love Him and that He is my everything.
  6. Because I have His promise (see John 14:1-3), I make sure that there is nothing that this earth has to offer that draws my attention away from Him.
  7. Knowing that my heart is deceptive beyond cure (Jeremiah 17:9) and my flesh will fail (1 Corinthians 15:50-53), I place my trust in His strength and choose His eternal portion for me.

With a foundation like this one, there’s no way the enemy can cause me to stumble (doubt my salvation and my future). All I have to do is read this passage every morning and live it all day. Since Christ is the One leading, I don’t even have the stress of having to choose my way. My job is to be an obedient sheep; how about you?

Do you trust Christ to let Him lead in your life? Are you familiar enough with the Bible to know His promises and His intentions? Are you interested in learning them? He can do anything with a willing heart. Make yours available to Him.

Abba, I pray for my readers to come across the passage that becomes their foundation and framework. With You leading them, I know that it will be soon if they are diligent in reading Your Word. “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Your servant is warned by them and receives great reward [his foundation and framework passage].” Psalm 119:105 paired with 19:11). Please, make it so, Lord Jesus. We will give You all the glory. Amen.

Proverbs 26 3-26-21

Do we have the right “robe” of salvation? Are we clothed in the righteousness of Christ? Is He our “Invitation?”

9 Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand [truth] is a proverb [Christ’s invitation] in the mouth of a fool [who refuses to accept it].

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet in Matthew 22:1-14 is a strong indictment against the leaders of Israel. There are also several truths–from my perspective–concerning salvation that we can draw from it. Let’s look at it in sections:

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the stre
et corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

Here is the framework:

  1. Jesus is describing the kingdom of heaven (kingdom of God in Luke 14:15-24).
  2. The King is God and Jesus is the Son. The banquet is found in Revelation 19:7-8 (there was always a banquet with a wedding-see John 2:1-10 for an example).
  3. People gave excuses for not accepting the invitation. Who are these people? The Jews, including the leaders of Israel. It’s everyone who rejects Jesus as Messiah.
  4. The others who are then invited are the Gentile nations. Even Paul said, “Your blood be on your own heads. I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles” Acts 18:6.

Jesus was spelling out the conditions of salvation and the consequences of rejection. He was also prophesying the Gospel being shared with the Gentiles beginning with Cornelius in Acts 10.

But wait–there’s more!

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.
13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Wedding guests were given an outer robe to wear that identified them with the wedding party. This man did not have a wedding robe. What does this mean?!

  1. The King is the one who noticed.
  2. The King called the man, “friend.” It is possible that the King was giving him an opportunity to repent. Jesus used the same reference in His parables; He also called, Judas “friend” at His betrayal (Matthew 26:50), thus (possibly) giving one last chance to repent.
  3. The man was speechless because he thought that his own clothes were good enough. Are our “works” good enough? Can we be righteous enough to stand in the King’s presence? Not without the robe of righteousness given to us by Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21 and Revelation 3:5).
  4. The consequences of the man’s poor choice was to be cast out. Only those with the right robe are allowed to be part of the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb.

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Jesus made it plain in John 12:32 that He calls all people to Himself by His finished work on the cross. The term, “once for all,” is used in Romans 6:10, Hebrews 5:9, 7:27, 9:12, 10:1-2, 10:10, and Jude 1:3. It’s pretty clear that Jesus died Once or All. The condition of salvation is the acceptance of Jesus as Messiah, which means that we pledge our faith and obedience, our lives and even our deaths to Him. The neat part is that we get to do it IN PERSON. Our introduction to Jesus is personal and He is ever-present in us from that point on. Cool, huh?

Let’s renew that vow to Him today by acknowledging His Presence, Participation, Provision, Protection, and Pilotry (the One who pilots our ship) in our lives.

Abba, you are my Pilot, my Messiah. May I subject myself to You in every way today. Amen.

Proverbs 26 2-26-21

Just know the truth doesn’t help unless we act on the truth. Our deeds must match our beliefs. Is Christ your Lord? Do what He says!

8 Like the useless legs of one who is lame is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

Knowing that we are saved, washed in the blood of Jesus, and have been made members of the family of God, we are free to be good without having to worry about getting it wrong and losing our position in Christ. That position is permanent! We are free to set some things aside that we know are hurting us so that we can focus on the areas that He has highlighted. Here’s how it works:

Do not merely listen to [and read] the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:22-25

We listen to and read the word of God with the intent of doing what it says. To listen with no intention of doing what it says is to deceive ourselves into believing that we have truly given our whole lives to Christ. The word of God is a mirror that God holds up to us and points His holy light on a particular area. We notice the area and see what needs to be done. To not do what we see is sin. James says in 4:17, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” Whether it’s to do for someone else or for ourselves, we know by the Spirit what we ought to do. So then, let’s do it!

Now, as we read His Word, whether it’s what Jesus said and did and taught or whether it’s from one of the letters, or whether it’s from the Old Testament on morals, we have an obligation to our Savior to be obedient to what we read. This obedience is based upon our intimate and ongoing relationship and fellowship with the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit. Without this connection, we cannot bring glory to the Father. Without doing what He says, we cannot bring glory to the Son. Without obedience, we quench the Spirit. Ephesians 4:30 tells us not to do that, “And do not quench the Holy Spirit of God, through whom you are sealed for the day of redemption.”

From this point forward, let’s read in order to know so that the Spirit can instruct us in holy living. He knows what we need to do and change first, second, third, and so on. He wants to do it with us, creating a new person that is a masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10 NLV). For instance:

When praying for someone’s health,

  • Seek immediate, supernatural healing.
  • Seek natural healing with full recovery.
  • Seek ultimate healing in heaven.
  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to have free reign in this person’s life.
  • Seek spiritual growth during their illness and/or convalescence.
  • Seek God’s glory to be displayed in any and all scenarios.
  • Accept God’s decision in the matter.

The neat thing is that we have full confidence in this person’s healing–we just don’t know which type of healing God will choose. He knows what is best for that person in body, soul and spirit. We must trust Him. It’s part of our growth in our Christlikeness.

We will continue delving into the method of prayer tomorrow.

Abba, there’s a lot of material here. I pray for my readers that they will seek Your face even as they read this post. May they hear and heed even as I have learned to do. Let’s create something new together, Lord. You lead. Amen.

Proverbs 26 1-26-21

Our work is to believe–not just for salvation, but for every breath, every thought, and every deed. Complete dependence!

12 Do you see a person wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

This verse is what happened to Adam and Eve. The devil deceived them into believing that they knew better than God. Satan talked Eve into not trusting God. She either didn’t trust Him out of arrogance or out of fear. Either way, she didn’t trust Him enough to believe that He had her best interests at heart (see Genesis 3:1-6). Adam’s sin was that he watched the whole exchange and did nothing. His responsibility as the head of his wife was to protect her from Satan–and from herself. Instead, he participated in her arrogance/fear.

King David saw in himself this same danger, which was to be arrogant and fearful. We see both in the account of him bringing the ark from Kiriath Jearim to Jerusalem. He used a new cart; when it stumbled, Uzzah reached out to steady it and was killed instantly. The next two verses tell the tale:

Then David was angry [his arrogance] because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah [“outbreak against Uzzah”]. David was afraid [his fear] of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” 2 Samuel 6:8-9

How did David counter this danger within himself? We read about it in Psalm 86:11, which says,

Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth [that I may rely on Your faithfulness],
give me an undivided heart [make me single-minded] that I may fear Your name [and nothing else].

God’s way is the way of faith. Jesus said, “The work of God is this: to believe in [trust] the one He has sent” John 6:29. We must ask for the want-to to want to and believe that He will be faithful to complete what He started in us upon salvation (Philippians 2:13 and 1:6). We act out of our level of faith (trust) in Him.

Acts of faith must be done in the truth of God’s Word and in the prompting of the Holy Spirit. In order to have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), we must know the words of Christ. Revelation is revealed through His Word. Example: Water purifiers filter water through several filters, each one removing certain pollutants. The Word of God works the same way,

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

Let’s bathe daily in God’s Word and allow the Spirit to wash us and run us through the filters of Scriptures. Until we take our Bible study seriously, we will not be able to grow as our heavenly Father desires us to grow.

Abba, may You give my readers and me a burning desire to know You more and better through Your Word. You thought enough of us to write down the things that are important–even vital–for us to know. May we take them very seriously as we go through today, then tomorrow, and then the day after that, etc. Amen.

Proverbs 26 12-26-20

It’s time to put away Christmas. It’s also time to quit thinking of Jesus as a baby and remember His Mission: Saving souls!

1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool. So is continuing to think of Jesus as a baby.

Many people pay homage to Jesus for coming to earth to save us, but they never stop to think about Him growing up and becoming an itinerant preacher, a Rabbi. What was His message? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17). There are three interpretations that have been used: “is at hand,” “is here,” and “has come near.” The basic meaning is that what was far away has arrived and is imminent. Have you ever thought of God as far away? Sometimes it feels like He is. But, that is exactly what Christ came to remedy! Paul tells us in Romans 10:8-9 what the New Covenant is all about:

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Paul is quoting verses from Deuteronomy 30, which is a prophetic chapter about God circumcising our hearts (a great chapter that he references many times in his letters). He is synthesizing the old with the new using a teaching that John gives us in His Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word.” “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:1, 14, 17. Jesus is the Word. Therefore, salvation comes through believing that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. In Christ, we have found favor in God’s sight. God left the sins of mankind unpunished until Christ died on the cross, on which He took ALL sin to the grave with Him. Jesus, who has risen from the dead and ascended back to His throne at the right hand of God, calls us to believe in His sacrifice and to give our lives to Him. It’s a one-time thing and a daily thing: once for justification (just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned) and then each day for sanctification (the daily sacrificing of ourselves and living for Him, thus becoming more and more like Christ), as we look forward to our future glorification (receiving our new, imperishable bodies that never tempt us to sin and never wear out).

If you have heard these truths before, but don’t know where to find them in your Bible, I challenge you to read Romans. As you do, look up each reference that is at the bottom of the page or at the end of each paragraph. Learning where Paul got his information helps us understand his teachings. NOTE: The glorification part is from 1 Corinthians 15–another good chapter to study!

Have fun with Him digging into His Word. He thought enough of us to write down what He wants us to know. The least we can do is learn it!

Abba, may this coming year be one of great learning for us. I know that at our church, we will be emphasizing prayer, which goes hand-in-hand with Your Word. On a general level, prayer is us talking to You, and reading Your Word is You talking to us. I know it’s much more than that, but it’s a simple way to look at the two. May we be diligent in both, “pressing on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us.” (Philippians 3:12). Have Your way in us, O LORD, and DON’T LET GO! Amen.

Proverbs 26 11-26-20

Happy Thanksgiving! We give thanks that our God wants us to know Him; He has provided the perfect means…His Spirit!

A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the backs of fools.

We have the perfect scenario: God’s Presence, Provision, Participation, Protection, and Promise. Can we not see the great blessing we have received through Christ and His finished work on the cross? Why, then, do we “kick so hard against the goads”? (Acts 26:14)? If Christ is, indeed, Lord of our lives, then we have trusted Him for salvation. Let’s go the rest of the way and trust Him with our every step, every decision, even every breath.

The phrase, “Seeing is believing,” is only partially true. It should read, “seeing correctly is believing.” Jesus said,

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.” Luke 11:34-36

What do we have in our eyes? I used to think that we had colored glasses on, but now I realize that we actually have a film, like a cataract, growing over our eyes. Only Jesus can heal us.

In many ways, we are still blind. Spiritually, we can only see what the LORD illuminates. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, Psalm 119:105, is a classic example of the fact that we cannot see beyond where His light shines. It all comes down to trust. Do we trust Him? I promise you, the more you know about Him, the more you will trust Him. He is faithful; He is love; He has our future in mind all the time.

Today, let’s give thanks for the wonderful gift of salvation and the marvelous gift of His Presence/Spirit.

Abba, heal our eyes so that we can see You clearly. I know that as we do, we will believe You, trust You, and obey You. Thank You for so great a salvation and for leading us all the way to Your throne. Amen.

Proverbs 26 10-26-20

Our sin nature has made us all myopic. We need “glasses” to see things clearly. THE SCRIPTURES ARE THOSE LENSES.

12 Do you see a person wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

The Scriptures were given to us to be able to study God’s commands. God thought enough about them and about us to write them down–literally! “When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.” Exodus 31:18. He also had it written down for us, “Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said.” Exodus 24:4.

We know that “All Scripture is God-breathed [remember that God created the heavens and the earth with His words and breathed life into Adam with His breath] and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Granted, at this point in history, Paul was referring to the Old Testament, but we also include the New Testament because these people walked with Jesus Christ and we believe that He guided them in what they wrote:

  • Paul met the LORD on the road to Damascus and had an out-of-body experience sometime during his ministry (Acts 9 and 2 Corinthians 12:1-10)
  • John met the LORD on the Isle of Patmos (Revelation)
  • Peter walked with Jesus before and after His resurrection
  • James and Jude grew up with Jesus and at least James met with Him after His resurrection.
  • We don’t know who wrote Hebrews, but he was at least from the same generation as those who walked with Jesus.

Let’s allow the LORD to give us insight and perspective as we read His Word today.

Abba, may You “show us great and mighty things that we do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3) as we delve the mysteries of Your Word. Teach us and equip us, O LORD. We can’t do anything spiritually lasting without You (John 15:5). Amen.

Proverbs 26 9-26-20

Two things that a person needs to be saved: Awareness and willingness. Christians need them every day!

12 Do you see a person wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

CBN (Christian Broadcast Network) aired last night the first part of The Return, a weekend of repentance and intercession for our nation. It resumes this morning at 8am Central time and will include the Prayer March with Franklin Graham at 11:00 our time. If you can’t get the app or tune in online, it’s also showing on YouTube.

I listened to Nikki Cruz, the gang leader in New York who was led to the LORD by Bruce Wilkerson in 1970 and became a world-renowned evangelist. He gave his testimony, and in it he used this phrase, “Ask Jesus to change your life!” It was one of the things that Bruce told him. I would like to expound on that statement.

There are two things that a person needs in order to be saved:

  1. An awareness of his personal sin against God and the consequences of that sin to his soul.
  2. A willingness to change his life, but realizing that he cannot; he must have Christ change him.

A person who realizes these two things WILL
cry out to the LORD Jesus to change his life!

It’s the conviction of the Holy Spirit that makes us aware and woos us to Himself. Jesus calls us and we answer.

There is a third thing I would like to say: Followers of Christ live in an awareness of sin (and our forgiveness) and want Christ to change their lives every day. We begin with a confession of our awareness and our willingness to Him and then look for Him in the Scriptures. We trust that He will reveal Himself to us in them–every time we read them.

Are you there, yet? Have you cried out to the LORD Jesus to change your life? Asking for forgiveness of sin is good and needed, but it only works if we are truly repentant, if we really want to give up our sin and live in His righteousness. It’s what a true follower of the LORD Jesus does every time he/she is tempted to sin.

The next time you are tempted, cry out to the LORD Jesus to change your life by rescuing you from your temptation. He will offer you a better option: His mercy and His grace–along with a way out:

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Let’s go for that other option: Holiness. Becoming like Jesus is what it’s all about!

Abba, I DO want to be like Jesus. May You change my life so that I am transformed, conformed and reformed in His image in personality, temperament, and in spirit. I’m not there yet, but I praise You that I am NOT what I used to be! Looking forward to a day of prayer for my nation and its leaders today; to be continued…

 

Proverbs 26 8-26-20

Did you know that God likes to hear from us as much as He does Franklin Graham? He looks for a willingness of heart.

24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbor deceit.

I’ve been reading a good book called, “Sons of Encouragement,” by F. Rivers about five supporting characters in the Bible: Aaron, Caleb, Jonathan, Amos, and Silas. The neat part of their stories was their willingness to be a supporting role in the lives of their leaders. While reading Jonathan’s story, I was following along in 1 Samuel 17 about Goliath. Here’s what I read:

Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

As I was reading, I was remembering how in Sunday’s Cool (Sunday School) we discussed the fact that Goliath was changing the rules about warfare and steering them to his advantage. Armies go out and fight together, never one-on-one (unless you’re watching a Jackie Chan movie). We should never allow people to “change the rules” on us. We go by the Word of God and not man’s intellect or logic. People’s sense of loyalty and fairness can be manipulated by the enemy; we must know how God thinks in order to know what is right. How DOES God think? Let’s read it:

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9a
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. Philippians 4:8
24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. John 2:24
16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16

As we can see, we are to think as God thinks, but be wary of mankind’s ways of thinking. The Israelites needed this advice! What they did was allow Goliath to define who they were–or, better, Whose they were. Read it again: Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul?” It is true that he was a Philistine, but it was NOT true that they were servants of Saul. Rather, they were servants of the Most High God! David recognized it right away,

26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

Look at who David said they were: The armies of the living God. The Israelites had allowed Goliath to define who they were:. He successfully challenged them to fight on a plane that played to his advantage. Had they remembered Whose they were, they would have sought God’s plan for overcoming the Philistines as a whole rather than succumbing to their deceit and schemes.

We would do well to keep this story in mind when we are challenged concerning our sense of fairness, loyalty, manhood, pride, and even for the sake of others. We MUST remain true to our God and let Him sort out the fall-out. When it comes down to brass tacks, we must obey our LORD individually. Jesus was very clear:

21 When Peter saw him [John], he asked, “Lord, what about him?” 22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”  John 21:21-22

Let’s have willing hearts before the LORD; let’s be wise as serpents and innocent as doves; let’s think about true, noble, right,  pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy things; let’s be fully committed to our LORD and follow Him. It’s the RIGHT thing to do.

Abba, may we always stop and pray so that we do not fall into temptation (Luke 22:46). It is important to ask You Your opinion and plan. What You say is not optional; it’s exactly what we need to do–exactly like You say to do it. Keep drumming this truth into my head! YOU define us, LORD: We are your people, and the sheep of Your pasture. Guide us, Good Shepherd. Amen.

 

Proverbs 26 7-26-20

King David was a man after God’s own heart. We show we are after God’s heart through obedience to His Word.

28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

In this case, a lying tongue belongs to the person who says he or she loves God, but doesn’t do as He commands. Jesus said,  “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46. God interprets our love by our actions. Why, you might ask? Consider:

  1. Had God not loved us enough to send His Son, His one and only Son, to rescue us, we would die in our sins, separated forever from Him.
  2. Without Jesus dying for our sins, we would have no Holy Spirit in us.
  3. Without the Holy Spirit in our lives, we would not know God.
  4. The Spirit’s job is to ready us as a bride is prepared for her groom. The Spirit is transforming us making us holy, righteous, blameless and spotless, and is preparing us for our Savior as His Bride. To NOT do what He says implies that we really do not want to be married to the Son.

If a person lived by only the words of Jesus in the Gospels, then he would still live a life worthy of the LORD. But, He has given us the Tanach (the Old Testament), the writings of Luke telling the story of the spread of the Gospel in Acts, and the letters of Paul, Peter, James (Jesus’ half brother), John, and the writer of Hebrews, as well. We have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom at our fingertips–and that’s without our phones and computers!

Today as we worship, may we consider this verse:

7 I will praise You with an upright heart as I learn Your righteous laws. Psalm 119:7

  1. Let us praise Him!
  2. Our upright heart comes from the Spirit working in us: It [the grace of God, which is His Spirit in us] teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,”
  3. Learning His laws, statutes, ways, precepts, decrees, commands, and word will teach us God’s character. What is God’s character?
    1. He is righteous; we have been given the righteousness of God Himself (2 Corinthians 5:21).
    2. He is holy, and has called us to be like Him: Holy. “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16

I want to be just like Him. How about you? We become like Him when we read His words and put them into practice. Earlier, I quoted Luke 6:46. Let’s look at the rest of the passage:

47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Let’s come to Him today. Let’s “hear” His words as we read them, as we hear them read from the pulpit, as we speak them to each other in Bible study, and then put them into practice. We will be filling God’s “love tank,” and we will be avoiding a whole lot of heartache, detours, and pitfalls.

Abba, bless us as we read Your Word. Make it come alive to us and in us today, O LORD. May we hear Your commands and then set about doing them. Call many to Yourself through us as we show the world that You are worth serving. We love You; may we SHOW You by our obedience. Amen.

Proverbs 26 6-26-20

Listening to the right people makes all the difference in what we believe. Listening to the Spirit is what 1 John 2:18-27 is about!

23 Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware
    are fervent lips with an evil heart.
24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips,
    but in their hearts they harbor deceit.
25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them,
    for seven abominations fill their hearts.
26 Their malice may be concealed by deception,
    but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.

These verses are scary. They reveal to us that people deliberately try to deceive us and trick us and lead us astray. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). There were people like that in the churches of John’s day, and there are people like that in our churches, too! We recognize them by this statement, “I don’t see why…” Many a deception is both exposed and given beginning with those words. They don’t see because they have no spiritual discernment.

Tests #5 and #6 are in our text for today. #5 is found in 1 John 2:19, They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”

#5 Is the Gospel (following Jesus) permanent in your life?

In the parable of the Sower and the Seed, the second seed heard the Gospel and responded to it with great joy, but when they were faced with either persecution or “change” in general, they forsook the Gospel and went back to their old life (Mark 4:17). Did they ever know the LORD? Were they ever filled with His Spirit? According to John, they didn’t and weren’t. The way I see it, when a person throws open the door of his heart and invites Jesus inside, He stands at the threshold with His hand out waiting for two things: the deed to his house and the master key to every room. Until Jesus  receives those two things, He is at the door, but not in the heart. True salvation comes ONLY when the person is willing to give Jesus those two things. It’s positional. Once we have done that, Christ comes in and our salvation becomes relational. We daily renew our commitment to Him and He daily fills us with His Spirit.

Test #6 has to do with those who would mislead the brethren, I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

#6 Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ?

All Jews knew what “Christ” meant. The Gentiles may or may not have. It means, “Anointed One.” It refers to the Messiah of the Jews. We know that God always intended to extend His salvation to all people through the Messiah (Genesis 12:3). Salvation comes through no other name than Jesus (Acts 4:12).

How do we know that we are saved? The Holy Spirit confirms it in our hearts (Romans 8:16). In fact, you don’t need me to teach you anything, for the Spirit will lead you into all truth and remind you of everything that Jesus has said (John 14:26). His anointing talked about in verses 26 and 27 IS THE HOLY SPIRIT. Let us “remain in Him.”

NOTE: For a full exposition on the word, “remain/abide,” go to The Spirit Within, chapter 7.

Abba, I ask that You fill my readers with Your presence, thus confirming their salvation. I ask that You call them to participate in what You are doing in the world around them. May they “see” you at work and join You in it. Bless them greatly, O LORD, as they walk with You and commune with You. I will do the same. Amen.

Proverbs 26 5-26-20

Yesterday, we began the 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 two,

Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right.

 26:3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the backs of fools!
18:2 Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.
26:12 Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.

I have done extensive research into Evolution vs. Creation; I have 150+ slides with explanations of why Creation is true and Macro-Evolution is not. I have great reasons and explanations as to why I believe in a literal six-day creation. I have loads of data on the worldwide flood of Noah. So, I began to write out my beginning argument–and WHAM. God opened my eyes to this: If a person is not willing to consider that I may be right, then he will not “hear” a word I say. If he is not looking for truth, then no amount of truth will convince him. So, I shut it all down and put it away until the LORD calls me to get it out.

There’s only one way a person will even consider truth, and that is if the Holy Spirit calls him to it. I believe that every person has the opportunity to choose Christ at some point in his life. But, I also believe that many won’t–and God knows who they are. He doesn’t make them not choose Christ; He simply knows they won’t because He is omniscient. And, because He is omnipotent, He causes all things to work for the good of those who DO choose Him and according to His good purpose in spite of those who are enemies of the cross.

Since I am NOT omniscient nor omnipotent, I trust that God will use me as His instrument to bring a person to Christ, or to be a witness whose testimony will ultimately be used against that person at judgement when my testimony is played back and any excuse the person may have had evaporates. I view every person I talk to as a potential brother or sister in Christ. I try to follow the Spirit’s leadership when talking to someone. Sometimes, I drop a nugget of knowledge; other times, I get into a conversation about spiritual things. A lot of times, I am told to keep my mouth shut and keep moving. I can only trust that God is keeping me away from scoffers and mockers. I always pray for them. 

Heed the Father’s words:

23:9 Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.

9:7 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.

Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” – Jesus

If a person is willing to listen with an open mind, then I consider him under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. He may not realize it, yet, but God is working on his heart. Every word I share from that point on must be designed to show him God: His attributes, His love, and His Son. I can win the argument, but lose the war if I offend him or humiliate him. If he is truly interested in hearing the truth, then he may be interested in hearing about God’s plan for his life.

Also, regardless of how many facts I have, they don’t hold a candle to my own personal testimony about my relationship with the Father through the Son via the Holy Spirit. It’s the part of the story that moves from the intellect to the heart. If the LORD doesn’t confirm in his heart what I am saying, then the person has no conviction of his sin and separation. If there is no conviction, then there is no way for the person to come to Christ. Jesus must be knocking on his heart’s door. It may simply not be time, yet. The statistic is that a person will be exposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ seven times before making the decision to follow Him. I am usually number 2, 3, or 4. I see my job as opening a person’s mind to truth by revealing God to him in ways he may not have previously been presented–according to the Scriptures. Clarity is essential to understanding. The Holy Spirit makes things clear.

From my journal this morning:

If we never learn another thing about the history of the world and the universe, it would not affect the way we live our lives. What matters most is what we do with Jesus. He has the power to save us from our sins and to release us from our chains. Through Him we can have a relationship with God!

  • Believe that HE is the Son of God who came from heaven to die in our place.
  • Believe that He is the Lamb of God who is the perfect sacrifice that takes away our sin.
  • Believe that He is the Priest of God who lives forever, sits at the right hand of God, and intercedes for us to the Father.
  • Believe that He is the King of kings who is coming back to restore all things.
  • Believe that He is the LORD of lords and will rule all the earth.
  • Believe that He is the Judge of all mankind, the living and the dead, and will dispense justice.
  • Believe that He is the Messiah, Savior of Israel and all who believe on Him and in Him for salvation, life, and even our next breath.

As you are made aware of who Christ is and your sinful condition, do you regret your sins and your broken relationship with God? Will you turn from your sinful, self-centered ways and turn to Christ for forgiveness? He’s standing at the door of your heart. Will you let Him in? Are you willing to live for Christ from now on?

Abba, I pray for all who read this post that they would know You. Make Yourself known to them. Reveal Yourself, LORD! Call them to walk with You daily, continuously. May we move from glory to greater glory as we gain insight and understanding, wisdom and knowledge, discernment and prudence. May today be all about You, LORD Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 26 4-26-20

When discerning God’s voice, we need to know what it DOESN’T sound like. The enemy is the Deceiver, right?

12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Thinking we can do life on our own is what got mankind into this mess in the first place! We never learn to be independent from God. In fact, it’s just the opposite! We are to become COMPLETELY dependent upon the Spirit. It’s the interaction between our spirits and His that makes Christianity useful, vital, and exactly what Jesus intended it to be.

The book, HEARING GOD, by Peter Lord, is a wonderful book and gives great instruction using Scripture as its base. Here is an excerpt from a worksheet Robin made for her Bible Study class:

“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.'”

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 said.40 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

Mary was seated at the Lord’s feet listening to His words. What does that look like today?

Here are some verses that validate the reading of Scripture as our way of hearing from God today:

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24

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. 25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:23-26

So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 2 Thessalonians 2:15

All Scripture is God-breathed [from the mouth of God] and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

From Scripture and from God’s voice within us, we can expect to hear words of encouragement and conviction.

We will NOT hear words of discouragement and condemnation. These words are from the devil, the Deceiver.

Tomorrow, we will look at specific verses from Scripture that tell us exactly what the voice of God is saying to His Church, His Bride. Trust me, you will want to know these! Today, let us focus on spending time with Him in worship. Sing praises, tell Him you love Him, and devote yourself to Him. Come to “church” with us at Brookwood today at 9:30 on Youtube. The other thing you might do is join me for Sunday’s Cool (online Sunday School) at 11:00 on Facebook. Of course, both of these can be viewed at your convenience.

Abba, as we find ways to worship You today, may we long for the day when we will be able to meet together and praise you as Your church and as Your family. The fellowship we share in person is what church is all about! You have told us that where two or more are gathered in Your name, You are there! Your glorious presence is manifested in a supernatural way. I long for that taste of what heaven will be like when we stand together in Your presence, O LORD. It’s gonna be AWESOME! In the meantime, bless us today with the intimate fellowship of Your Spirit. Amen.

Proverbs 26 3-26-20

Having trouble reading your Bible everyday? We have an enemy who wants to keep us far away from it! Don’t let him win.

13 A sluggard says, “There’s a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets.”

We may not consider ourselves sluggards, i.e. lazy persons, but when it comes to reading God’s Word, more Christians don’t than do. The sluggard in this verse is “forecasting.” Forecasting is when we think of something that MAY happen and act as if it is already true. In this case, he used his own fear as an excuse not to get out of the house.

The irony is that we are being ENCOURAGED to stay inside during the current “crisis.” God’s Word tells us to be obedient to our local authorities, but it doesn’t mean that we cannot continue to encourage each other in the LORD. We have a grand opportunity with all this extra time at home to spend some quality time with the LORD reading our Bibles.

A great place to start is Psalm 119:18, which says, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” There are several things I would like for you to do:

  1. Open your own Bible and read it for yourself. Hint: It’s nearly in the middle of your Bible.
  2. Mark it with a pen or highlighter.
  3. Interchange the word “law” with other words: commands, statutes, decrees, ways, precepts, word, promise, counsel, truths. David does throughout this psalm.
  4. Jump down to verse 24 and add, “through the Holy Spirit.”

If your interest is piqued, then go back to verses 9-16. You will find:

  1. How to stay pure in God’s eyes (9).
  2. The best way to find God (10).
  3. A great verse to memorize (11).
  4. Praise (12)!
  5. A verse about memorization (13).
  6. Joy in living the Christian life (14).
  7. The best way to live our Christian life (15).
  8. What God does for us when we read His Word (16).

If God thought enough about it (the Bible) and us to write down how to get to know Him and then protect it for 3500 years, then I think that we should make it our highest priority to read it, learn it, and obey it. As long as we are in connection with Him, we can’t go wrong!

Let’s redeem the time at home and spend time reading His Word, meditating on it, and putting it into action. Things like, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16a

Abba, I want to be blameless and pure, without fault, and shine like stars in the sky. I know the only way to get there is to hold firmly to Your Word. Thank You that You speak to me through Your Word. I can almost hear Your voice as I read! Speak to my heart, LORD Jesus, speak that my soul may hear. I will obey you–it’s how I become blameless! Lead on, O King! This servant follows. Amen.

Proverbs 26 2-26-20

What we know or don’t know about heaven shapes how we live our lives. Our VISION determines our hope.

Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool.

Without a clear view of heaven, God’s reality and ours, we tend to lower our sights and work to make this world work for us. There is so much more than just what we see! The kingdom of heaven, which is this earth, the first heaven (the sky), and the second heaven (the sun, moon and stars–space), are separated from the kingdom of God, which is where God lives and saints from this world reside–for a while! Soon, Jesus will come and establish His kingdom here on earth and we will be with Him:

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

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. Revelation 12:10

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. Revelation 21:2

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

God’s overall plan is to live together with us forever. Most people know this part. What they miss are the particulars, such as:

  • Where will we live?
  • Will we have real bodies?
  • Will we keep our identity?
  • Will we know each other?
  • Will we work?
  • Will we do anything besides be part of a huge worship service?
  • Will there be animals?

The answer to all these questions is YES! Tomorrow, we will look at some Scriptures that give us the answers to these questions. For today, let us focus on this verse:

Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
    but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. Proverbs 29:18

The King James Version reads,

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

From these two versions, we can deduce:

  1. If we don’t have a firm concept of where we are going and what God intends for us, then we will wander from God’s path to His glorious future.
  2. We are blessed and happy when we keep His goals and His Plan in mind. Why? Because we can interpret our circumstances and our beliefs according to what He has promised rather than what we see and what we are told (lies and deception by Satan).
  3. We gain hope through our understanding of how God works in this world and what He has planned for His Church, His Bride. Consider this passage:

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

Let us pray for the Spirit to reveal to us more of His Plan. There is MUCH about it in the Word of God, so tomorrow we will look at some of those passages.

Abba, please reveal to us aspects of Your Plan that will inspire us to live for You. We pray for revival, which is basically Your bride resetting our sights on You and what You are doing in this world. May we join You in what You are doing, Lord Jesus. Help us to “fix our eyes on You, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” Amen.

 

 

Proverbs 26 1-26-20

READ EARLY: Jesus asks, “What is in your heart? I know, but do you?” Times of worship reveal to us our own hearts.

26 Their malice may be concealed by deception,
    but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.

This verse is part of several (24-26) and usually has to do with wolves in sheep’s clothing. Today, we are using it to describe what happens in worship when the child of God gets into the presence of God.

Malice- “desire to inflict injury, harm, or suffering on another, either because of a hostile impulse or out of deep-seated meanness.” We’ve all been here, whether we wanted to inflict actual physical pain upon someone or verbal pain. We have hoped for and taken pleasure in someone else’s misfortune (however small)–and we’ve done it at church! Our natures don’t change just because we entered a building.

Deception- “to mislead by a false appearance or statement.” We’ve all put on the “spiritual front” when going to church, acting as if all is well at home, at work, in our marriage, families, finances, school, the ball team, health, etc. when it really isn’t. We all have sung the songs and prayed the prayers appearing to mean every word when, in fact, we haven’t cracked a bible in weeks, nor have we spent any time with the LORD preparing our hearts.

As we go to church today and the Bible is read from the pulpit, the quarterly, or even displayed on a wall, may the Holy Spirit come upon us with power and conviction. May these words become real to us:

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13

Lest we get the idea that God means us harm or is looking for a reason to punish us, I make sure that the next verses are presented with the first two:

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

The kicker is that we ALWAYS are in “our time of need.” We sing, “Lord, I need You.” and, “I need Thee every hour,” and it’s true. Once we get it into our heads and our hearts that we are COMPLETELY dependent upon Him for EVERYTHING, we will worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

Let’s start early today by ‘fessing up to God BEFORE we go to church. Let’s align ourselves with Him through His Word and through prayer. Begin with the above verses if you don’t have a special place to read. Allow Him to reveal your heart to you. Ask for His mercy and His grace. Allow Him to pour His love and compassion on you and receive His forgiveness. It’s all waiting for you at the throne.

Abba, I fall into this category many times when I get caught up in details rather than focusing on You and Your love, Your mercy and grace. I forget that You are waiting for me so that You can reveal Yourself to me. May I take the time today even as the youth lead the music to worship You in Spirit and in truth. Amen.

 

Proverbs 26 12-26-19

What’s the difference between a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ? One believes in Christ; the other HAS Christ.

7 Like the useless legs of one who is lame is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

Let’s rephrase this verse: Like the useless legs of one who is lame is the Gospel in the head but not the heart.

I am always amazed when a Christian gets “saved again.” What actually happens is a person makes an intellectual decision to follow Christ without actually forsaking his sin and self and trusting Christ to save him. There was no calling by the Spirit, thus there was no transaction of forgiveness and filling. The person was not saved to begin with.

12 Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.

I have a friend whose testimony is that he had everyone fooled; he could play the game of having everyone think that he was a Christian, but he was still in control of his own life. He enjoyed it! Then, one day, the Holy Spirit came to him and convicted him of his sin of pride and arrogance; he repented and received the Holy Spirit into his life and was, indeed, gloriously saved! We must remember Jesus’s own words, No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them,” John 6:44, and “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” John 6:65.

He knows our hearts and He knows when we are ready to do business. It’s not just about being forgiven of our sins, or about going to heaven when we die; it’s about having Jesus in our hearts as LORD!

Every once in a while, I try my hand at writing out a scenario of what I would say to a lost person or group. Here’s my latest attempt:

In a moment, I will ask you if you want to entrust yourself to Jesus as Lord of your life, but first, let me tell you what He’s done for you. You are made in the image of God and are designed to love Him and be loved by Him in an eternal relationship.

Enter sin. Our rebellious nature causes us to reject God and His authority in our lives. Because of our sin, we are enemies of God and we have to die–unless someone will die in our place as a substitute for us.

Enter Jesus. God came to earth as Jesus to die in our place. That’s how much God loves us! Because Jesus was human, He died, but because He was also God, He rose from the dead after three days! He has broken the power of sin and death for all who will trust in Him and ask Him to be their Savior and Lord.

You have just heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. Is the Spirit of Jesus prompting you to trust Him to be your Savior and Lord? Is He urging you to receive His forgiveness and His grace right now? If yes, then do it! If He is not, then PLEASE don’t make an intellectual decision to follow Him. It would be the worst thing you can do. Unless you sense Him calling you, it would all be in vain. You would be making the decision in your own power and of your own volition and it doesn’t work that way. We cannot save ourselves; otherwise, Christ died for nothing.

Seek Him; ask Him; beg Him to call you to be saved. Ask Him to come into your heart and life and cleanse you and save you. Empty your heart to Him of everything that is contrary to Him until you feel Him come rushing in and filling your heart with His love and His Spirit. Then you will know that you know that you KNOW you are saved! What joy He brings with His presence, along with hope and love and PEACE!

Abba, I pray for those I know who don’t know You. May Your Spirit work in their lives to move them to a position of hearing the Gospel and responding to Your call. I know You already are; I’m just agreeing with You in the matter and aligning myself with Your will. May You use me to reach someone with whom You are dealing. May I continuously empty my heart of everything that is contrary to You so that I will be a worthy vessel for Your use, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 26 11-26-19

People who believe that evolution is true call our salvation into question. They do not believe in the need for the Gospel.

5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

At the center of evolution is MAN. He is the pinnacle of the food chain. He is exalted above all other life forms and has no need for a god of any kind. The problem is that he is living in a fantasy land. GOD created the heavens and the earth. HE created mankind beginning with Adam. So, what should we tell them?

The first thing we need to remember is the previous verse: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.”

Oh oh. It seems we have a contradiction! How could these two verses be interpreted?

Verse 4: Evolutionists tend to come at Christians with an attitude of arrogance and contempt and many times aggression. We should NOT use these tactics in our approach.

Verse 5: We need to meet them on their own ground by taking that ground back through facts. There are plenty out there thanks to TRUE science and technology.

In all of our conversation, though, there is this truth: We KNOW Christ personally as our LORD and Savior. We KNOW that our faith is real and is based on real information and on truth. That’s why we should move quickly to the Gospel as soon as we see a “faltering” in their argument. If we can cause them to doubt evolution, then we have a chance to win them back to the Gospel. It’s the same tactic that Satan used in the garden. He got Eve to doubt God’s goodness and truthfulness. If we can get them to doubt the truthfulness of evolution, we may win them back by presenting the Gospel. The Holy Spirit will take it from there (as if He wasn’t involved in the first place!).

If a person doesn’t believe that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are real and literal, then there is no reason to believe in Abraham and the miracle of his Call and the miraculous birth of his son, Isaac. If we don’t believe in the Promise, then we have no basis for the salvation of the Gentiles–or anyone, for that matter.

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousnessfor us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:18-24

Asking someone if he believes in evolution is a great conversation-starter. He will almost always come back with, “Yes.” It’s not rude to ask him why he believes. Most people will answer, “Because it just is; everyone believes in evolution,” which is a great lead-in for us to say, “I don’t, and here’s why…”

  1. Life doesn’t come from non-life. Biology bears this out.
  2. New information doesn’t come from old information. Genetics bears this out.
  3. Irreducible complexity. Chemistry bears this out.
  4. A young earth. REAL science (that can be measured and tested) bears this out.

It would be wise on our part to know the science behind these reasons. There’s plenty out there! Just Google it.

We are in a war, people! Evolution is behind why our society is failing. It has taken away people’s reason to live, to strive, and to get along. It has taken away the moral authority of the church and our standing in the community. It has caused doubt and fear, disdain and hostility toward Christians and the Gospel. It is Satan’s BEST LIE: “You will be like God [or, you will be your own god]…” Genesis 3:5

Consider this:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” Psalm 14:1a

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1

To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 26 to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. Psalm 18:25-26

If we know the LORD and He shows Himself to be faithful, blameless and pure to us, then we can be shrewd in order to show Him to those who have been deceived. They will see our sincerity (which comes from a daily, close walk with him) and the Spirit may prompt them to want what we have. If we can get to the Gospel as quickly as we can, we may just win this war ONE SOUL AT A TIME.

Abba, I am feeling the urgency of the times and hopefully Your Spirit to speak out on this subject. May You give me opportunities to give testimony of your love and grace, Your glory and Your goodness. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for those opportunities. Amen.

 

 

Proverbs 27 10-27-19

We are in a war. The battle has been raging for some time. Will you fight or will you cry “peace at all cost?”

2 Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.

This war is for the souls of men, of women, and of our children. It’s been going on for quite a while, now, and we are seeing the results of our pacifism. What am I talking about? The Bible vs. Darwinian Evolution.

This quote is from “Gospel Reset” by Ken Ham:

Let me put it this way. It’s as if the devil has said, “You Christians can go on teaching kids about the miracles Jesus did in the New Testament. You can teach them about the babe in a manger, and the Resurrection. You can teach them about Jesus healing blind people and raising the dead. Teach them about the feeding of the 5,000, about the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, about Jonah being in the great fish for three days. Go ahead. Teach them these stories. And while you are doing that, I’m going to be indoctrinating those same kids not to believe the Book. I’m going to use the fake news of evolution and millions of years to brainwash them into believing science has effectively disproved the Bible, making it nothing more than an outdated, obsolete book of ‘stories.’ And since you won’t be teaching apologetics, I will teach my own apologetics through the education systems, media, and the Internet to make sure they doubt God’s Word. The more this happens, most won’t even listen to your message of the gospel.” Page 107

What we don’t realize is the importance of the first 11 books of Genesis. Our entire Gospel is based upon God creating the heavens and the earth, in a real-live Adam and Eve, sin, the Curse, the Great Flood, the tower of Babel–even the account of Jonah. If these events were not real events, then Jesus “hung his hat on the wrong hook.”

[3] Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” [4] “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female, [5] and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? [6] So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19:3-6

Jesus’ teaching on marriage is based upon the Genesis account.

[38] Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.” [39] He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. [40] For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earthMatthew 12:38-40

Jesus based His resurrection on the fact that Jonah was a real person and his story was a real event.

[36] “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. [37] As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. [38] For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; [39] and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:36-39

Jesus based His Second Coming on the account of Noah and the Great Flood.

More than 75% of youth who grow up in church leave the faith after high school. The percentage is higher for those who attend a secular college. Why? Mainly because of the teaching of Evolution. WE MUST DO SOMETHING!

What can we do? Let’s begin by believing that:

  1. The Genesis account is TRUE. It happened in a literal six days. Adam and Eve were real. So was the Flood. And Jonah.
  2. Realize that Satan is the mastermind behind this war. He wants our children and grandchildren. Jesus spoke of this day, [9] “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. [10] At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, [11] and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. [12] Because of the increase of wickedness, the love [and faith] of most will grow cold, [13] but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:9
  3. Be proactive. Learn. There is SO MUCH archeological, biological, astronomical, and other information out there today that refutes Evolution that it’s ludicrous for us to NOT be sharing this information.

Verse 14 of Matthew 24 is where we should live, [14] And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Because of these verses, I believe that the Return of Jesus is very near. Let’s join the battle!

Abba, I pray that all who read this blog will take it to heart and see the need to be proactive in what we believe and what we share with our family, friends, and all who are willing to listen with an open mind. Give us faith; open our eyes. Give us courage, knowledge, and wisdom to know what and when to share. Amen.

 

 

 

Proverbs 26 10-26-19

We are creatures of habit. In most ways, that’s good. In some ways, though, it can keep us in a loop. Break Out!

11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.

I reckon dogs have always been dogs. ‘Nuff said about that.

The big question is why do we continue to repeat bad choices? It’s like a moth to a flame: we can’t help ourselves. Whether it’s habitual sin, bad relationships, or damaging habits, we seem to have difficulties breaking out of our ruts. I heard one time that a rut is really a grave with both ends kicked out. If we are to follow Jesus daily, then we need to get out of our ruts and be prepared to take a new course.

Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23. Do we WANT to be His disciples? Will we DENY ourselves of our “creature comforts?” Are we willing to take up our cross, which means, to me, to turn my back on what I know and be ready to try whatever He has for me? Are we willing to make NEW HABITS by following Him DAILY?

One of the best–and saddest–examples of what Jesus is asking of us is found in Mark 10:17-22,

17As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. No one is good—except God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

20“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21Jesus looked at him and loved him. One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

The man’s question was a good one and one that is asked by a good many people. Jesus confronted him with a question, “Why do you call me good?” Then, He spoke truth to him: “No one is good–except God.” The implication is that if Jesus is good, then He is God. The true question was, “Do you believe that I am God?” If yes, then He is worth following; if no, then…

Being God, Jesus knew his heart and what meant the most to him. His wealth was weighing him down. There are many movies about wealth bringing about the demise of many who tried to hold onto their riches but then couldn’t escape. In “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” Indiana wanted to go back for the cup when the building was falling down. Elsa had already lost her life trying to get it. His dad told him, “Let it go.” Indy did and they all got out safely. The lesson is that they tried to hold onto something that was actually holding them back from life. One let go; one didn’t.

Matthew and Luke also have this account in their Gospels, but Mark added a little note that the other ones didn’t: “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” He loves us the very same way. He looks at us–I mean, REALLY looks at us all the way down to the depths of our souls–and loves us wholly, completely, and with abandon. He calls us to give up that which is holding us back from loving Him, from following Him, and from the life that He has for us. Many prefer to stay in that open grave (the rut). LET’S GET OUT OF THE RUT!!!

Here’s how (according to my own experience):

  1. Categorically turn whatever it is over to Jesus. Release it into His hands.
  2. Praise Him for taking it and for how He is going to use it to make us more like Him.
  3. The next time we are tempted, we praise Him for the opportunity to win. In other words, we use praise to remind us of our decision, the feelings we had when we let Him have it, and our pledge to fight.
  4. Ask Him for strength and for a way out. We have this promise: No temptation has seized you but which is common to everyone. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13. I memorized this verse LONG AGO!
  5. If we succeed, rejoice! If we fail, we repent (acknowledge our failure) and receive His love, mercy and grace, encouragement, and instruction on how to beat it next time. We use the event to have a great time with the LORD. We come away looking a little bit more like Jesus.
  6. After a while, either Satan realizes that the particular vice we have is causing him more harm than good because it drives us to the Father, so he backs off, or, (and this is what I really think) we come to see the besetting sin as God does–as that which hurts His children–and it loses its power over us.
  7. When we want to sin, we run to Him. It’s what He wants. He said as much: “Come to Me, all who are weary [of fighting against your sinful nature] and heavy laden [with the burden of carrying the weight of our sin] and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you [it’s a double yoke, and He will pull the Lion’s share of the load] and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest [and peace] for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden [for you] is light. Matthew 11:28-30.

Let’s use today as a spiritual exercise by putting this method into practice. I think that you will find Him to be a GREAT companion, one full of understanding, sympathy, and encouragement.

Dear Lord, I praise You for leading me into this lesson early in life. I still follow it today–I still NEED it today. Help us all to learn to trust You as we walk with You. You are our Rock, our Shield, our Fortress, our Sustainer and our Strength…I think I’ll break out in song! In You, I will not be shaken. Bless You, LORD! Amen.

Proverbs 26 9-26-19

Were it not for the Holy Spirit, we would all be fools, sluggards, wise guys, meddlers, gossips, and liars!

(12) Do you see a person wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

(16) A sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven people who answer discreetly.

Want to know what we are like without the Holy Spirit? Just read this chapter. It shows the natural side of our human nature. What the Holy Spirit does is He takes the unrestrained drive to control, manipulate, and conquer and makes us like Christ. He channels and focuses that energy into godly activities and godly characteristics:

  • Loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and having self-control;
  • we always want the best for people, and rejoice in their success;
  • we are sad when they are sad and when bad things happen to them (whether self-inflicted or not);
  • We do not repay evil for evil, but overcome evil with good.

A fool who realizes that he is a fool and gives his life to Jesus Christ then uses the drive that once made him a fool to please Christ (with the help of the Spirit).

The sluggard who once did only what he felt like doing (which was as little as possible) gives his life to Christ then takes that desire to please himself and places it upon Christ (with the help of the Spirit).

The meddler who once put his nose in everyone else’s business gives his life to Christ and then begins to look for ways to be Christ to others (with the help of the Spirit).

The gossip who once took great pleasure in sharing privileged information gives his life to Christ and begins to pray for those people, talking to God about them instead of others (with the help of the Spirit).

The liar who once manipulated through untrue speech gives his life to Christ and begins to take life as it comes, being truthful in every situation (with the help of the Spirit), thus gaining the trust and respect of his family and peers.

We were never intended to be unbridled, unrestrained, and unfocused. Sin has stripped mankind of its ability to be godly. The problem is that instead of recognizing what has happened, mankind has reveled in its “freedom of captivity.” They prefer the chains of sin to the yoke of Christ.

For those who have received Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are exhorted, with the major assistance of the Holy Spirit, to:

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness,righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And people wonder why we go to church–WE NEED EACH OTHER!!! We need encouragement, corporate worship, teaching, direction, example, inspiration, and sometimes rebuke, correction, and training (see 2 Tim. 3:16). Church is where we go to practice loving each other. Sometimes, it’s hard to love family. It’s still what we do, though. When it gets untenable, we pray and ask the Lord if we are free to go or if we need to stay and strive. HE directs our path.

Just remember one thing about church: It’s all about attendance. If we don’t go, we cannot participate in what God is doing through the body of Christ. “Isolated embers soon grow cold.” Or, “Isolated members soon grow mold.” Whichever. I’m not saying that we need to be there every time the doors are open. It’s just that in our hyper-mobile society, we tend to treat church as a convenience. Vacations, sleep-time, company, events, and a plethora of other things are given higher priority. Just remember that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be, also.” Matthew 6:21.

So, the question is: Where is your heart? At the ballfield? The bed? Work? Or, is it in God’s hands? If so, then we will place a high priority on being with the family of God.

Abba, I pray that all Christians will see the benefits of being part of a church, the body of believers that honors You and, therefore, each other. It’s tough, sometimes, but I learn so much about myself and about how You are working in other people’s lives when I go and participate, and I am encouraged. May we be Your hands and feet, Lord, to those around us. Give us discernment and discretion; give us wisdom and understanding; give us knowledge and prudence; give us insight into what You are achieving through Your Body, of which I am a part. Amen.