Proverbs 2-26-23

The power of PRAISE. It’s in the music and the lyrics. It involves the whole person: Body, Soul and Spirit.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

The peace of Christ comes when we submit to His Lordship. We know that He knows what is best for us, and He knows what needs to be done for His kingdom. We simply need to trust Him.

I like Paul’s command, “and be thankful.” For what? For everything! For life, for breath, for family, for friends, for brothers and sisters in Christ, for His Word, for prayer, for forgiveness, for adoption, for His Presence and Participation in our lives, for His promise to return, and for the security of knowing that when we die, we get to go be with Him. The list could go on and on…

The message of Christ is wrapped up in our songs and hymns. Throughout history, most people either didn’t read or did not have availability to reading materials, so they learned their theology by singing it. Just this morning, I was trying to remember the second line to a refrain from a song that I sang consistently in concert for seven years when we traveled in college. Since I couldn’t remember, I “phoned a friend.” He bounced back pretty quickly with the words. How did we remember a song from nearly 40 years ago? Because music sinks deep into our long-term memory. The more parts a thought has, the more handles the mind has for remembering: The words, the notes, the rhythms, the harmonies, the memories, the feelings that are associated with the song…they all help us remember those songs.

Another thing that music does is trigger emotions. It’s a type of confession every time I sing “He is Lord.” When we turn it around and sing, “You are Lord,” the Spirit in me confirms my confession with, “That’s right!” Many songs move me when I open my mouth and sing the words. Other songs call me to praise Him. Again, the Spirit in me urges me to do just that, so I do!

I pray that you do, too, every time you get a chance. It’s why we sing in church. Today, SING!

Abba, thank You for the gift of music. May we use it to its fullest advantage today as we meet together for praise and worship, fellowship and learning. “Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace.” Amen.

Proverbs 1-26-23

Jesus proclaimed He was the divine Son of God. He was either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord of heaven and earth.

11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool.
18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary. Hebrews 10:11-13, 18

If Jesus was a liar or a lunatic, then “we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19b). But, if Jesus is Lord, then what we read above is true and we have a great high priest in the heavens, and His name is Jesus Christ!

From, “A Grand Illusion,” pages 90-91

John explains it to us: “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18). Jesus was not killed as a mere human martyr for social causes. He was killed as part of a divine plan: he came as God among us to take upon himself the price of our sins.
Thus, even though the Scriptures don’t work out all the implications for calling Jesus God, there are biblical texts that make it clear that both Jesus and the first Christians understood Jesus to be divine. Consider a few:

  • Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
  • John 8:58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
  • John 10:33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
  • John 1:1, 14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
  • Hebrews 1:3-10 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heavenSo he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire. But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. 10 He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands...”
  • Colossians 1:15-17 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
  • 2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
  • Titus 2:11-13 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
  • Romans 9:5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is non-negotiable for the Christian faith. To deny that Jesus is divine is to deny that he is the Son of God.

Some things we can leave open to interpretation; this is not one of them. The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is fact; it is reality. Jesus Himself said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). So, is He a liar? Everything He promised He would do He did: He healed the sick, raised the dead–and even rose from the dead Himself! Is He a lunatic? His speeches clearly indicate that He was in His right mind. Is He Lord? You bet He is! If someone is still doubting, consider what Jesus told the doubters in His day,

37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” John 10:37-38

Is that the talk of a crazy person? I think not!

Abba, it never ceases to amaze me that You would want to come down here to earth and be one of us in order to make us one of Yours. We have always been Your creations, but we wandered off, believed lies, deceived ourselves, and allowed the enemy to put chains on our hands and feet, blinders on our eyes, and mufflers on our ears. You came to strip us of our encumbrances so we can respond to You. May we trust You as our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 26 12-26-22

The same God who spoke the universe into being also has the power to raise the dead and give them life. it’s His promise to us.

17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He [Abraham] is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. Romans 4:17

Yesterday, we looked at the Incarnation. Today, we continue our look at “WHEN life beyond death begins for us.” There is a key passage in John 5. The first part sets up the second part, in which we find our key.

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

  • The Son (Jesus) mirrored the Father (God), which is another indication of Jesus’ divinity. In fact, the nature of the Trinity is described in verse 20, “The Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.” They share everything in an atmosphere of love.
  • In the Philippians 2 passage we studied yesterday, we learned that Jesus humbled Himself and emptied Himself of His glory in order to become human. He and His Father’s relationship was dynamic. And, everyone was amazed at what Jesus did as He saw His Father working.
  • Death is not a barrier for God; He raises whom He desires. This ability is innately Jesus’; He gives life to whom He is pleased to give it. To whom does He please to give it? To whoever believes in Him (John 3:16).
  • The Father has left all judgment to the Son–but Jesus chose NOT to judge, but to forgive and to have mercy on everyone. Now, the only way people are judged is by not choosing Christ (John 3:17-18), exchanging the truth about God for a lie (Romans 1:25).
  • The goal is for all to honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Those who do not honor the Son do not honor the Father, who sent Him. They cast themselves out of the Father and the Son’s manifest presence.

The second part of this passage is the subject of tomorrow’s Proverbs. In it lies the key to knowing when life for us truly begins.

Abba, I receive by faith what You have said through John to us in this passage. I believe You are telling the truth because of the works of miracles that You performed as evidence of that truth. I did not see or experience those miracles, but I believe through the testimony of those who wrote about them, those who passed those documents on to other believers, and those who translated them so that I would believe, too. Thank You. Amen.

Proverbs 26 11-26-22

The sure sign of salvation is the presence of the Holy Spirit. Everything else is secondary.

12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:12

You may be saying to yourself, “But that’s Jesus. Where does the Spirit fit into this picture?” To answer that question, we go to 2 Corinthians 3:17, which says,

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Freedom from what? From bondage, from sin, from deception, from self, from death, to name a few. Jesus made a bold claim in John 5:24,

24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

  1. Jesus’ words hold life.
  2. Believing that God sent Jesus to us is necessary in believing Jesus’ words.
  3. The person who believes (trusts in, relies on) Jesus bypasses judgment.
  4. Passing from death to life is the ultimate “fix.” It includes setting the bound free, cutting the sin-entangled loose, clearing the mind of the deceived, turning the selfish outward, and of course, giving life to the dead.

The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Gospel. His truth sets us free (John 8:32, 36). If we could live right here in this truth, we would do great, but that’s not the way of humanity. People add all kinds of things to the truth and weigh it down. They conjure up all kinds of beliefs and pass them off as absolute truth. Even sincere people interpret Scripture differently, differently enough to cause a breach in fellowship.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Instead, let’s do as Paul commanded in Ephesians 4:2-3,

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

We all have the Holy Spirit, so we can trust Him to patiently, gently, slowly, and eventually make all things clear to us (Philippians 3:15-16). If we make it all about Jesus, we don’t have to worry about someone’s salvation when they believe differently about peripherals. Jesus will help us “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and help us to run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

We can do this. Are you ready?

Abba, You have called us to love one another as You have loved us. Help us to see each other as Your beloved children and as fellow siblings. May we stop looking for the things that separate us and start looking for the things that unite us, namely Christ. What a different world it would be if we started loving each other as You love us. Count me in, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 26 10-26-22

Speaking the name of Jesus takes us straight to the throne. May we be careful how we use it!

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christthrough whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

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

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

There are several questions that arise from this verse.

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

Jesus is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew name, “Yeshua,” which is also known as, “Joshua,” which means “the LORD saves,” or “Savior.” And you wondered why the angel told Joseph to name Him that! “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

We also know that because of Jesus’ obedience, “God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

The Bible has descriptive names for Jesus–135 to be exact! You can read them at onfireforgod with their references. The song, “Isn’t the Name,” has as its refrain these words,

There is Freedom in the Name
Healing in the Name
There is Power in the Name
Salvation in the Name
There is Life in the Name
There is no other Name
Like Jesus, Jesus

We also like to sing, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there’s just something about that name.” Speaking the name of Jesus takes us straight to the throne:

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. Hebrews 4:16

Let’s speak the name of Jesus often during our day and fellowship with the Father through Him.

Abba, You are great. Your Son is great. We speak the name of Jesus–not as an incantation, but as a confession: You are God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit, three-in-one. May You be praised! Amen.

Proverbs 26 9-26-22

When it comes to family, a decision must be made to love and honor others above ourselves. It is the high road.

10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

Our last installment in the Baptist Faith & Message is about:

XVIII. The Family

God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.

Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God’s pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents.

Genesis 1:26-282:15-253:1-20Exodus 20:12Deuteronomy 6:4-9Joshua 24:151 Samuel 1:26-28Psalms 51:578:1-8127128139:13-16Proverbs 1:85:15-206:20-2212:413:2414:117:618:2222:6,1523:13-1424:329:15,1731:10-31Ecclesiastes 4:9-129:9Malachi 2:14-16Matthew 5:31-3218:2-519:3-9Mark 10:6-12Romans 1:18-321 Corinthians 7:1-16Ephesians 5:21-336:1-4Colossians 3:18-211 Timothy 5:8,142 Timothy 1:3-5Titus 2:3-5Hebrews 13:41 Peter 3:1-7.

In any society, the individual must give up certain individual rights in order to be compatible with the collective. The family is a mini-society, a picture and example of how a society should work. Being God-designed, families work when each member submits to the whole, but excels in his own forte or strength. The real trial comes in reminding each other of our responsibilities without using force, harsh words, or manipulation. We are to encourage and exhort each other in the love of Christ.

Allowing God to establish the rules for relationships (boundaries) is where most people get hung up. They just can’t see the whole picture and they don’t trust God to tell them the truth. Eve bought the lie of the Enemy to doubt God, Adam followed suit, and we have, too, in every subsequent generation. Only a relationship with Jesus Christ (God in the flesh and His Spirit in us) can help us to see that not only does God know what He is talking about, but He is trustworthy to tell us the truth.

When it comes to other people, we are not their Holy Spirit, so we set an example by the way we live and only answer their questions when we sense (via the Spirit) that they are ready to listen.

Abba, there’s a lot packed into today’s article that goes against the tide of popular opinion. May we stick to the truth of Your Word in these matters. We don’t have to accuse anyone of wrong thinking or wrong doing, but we know that we will be accused of being accusatory–just by the way we live. May our acts of faith honor You, O Lord. We trust You. We know that we will eventually wind up on Your side of life, and we know that you are walking with us all the way, so we will not fear. Your rod and Your staff comfort us. Amen.

Proverbs 26

What is the greatest miracle of the human body? BIRTH! From a logic standpoint, NO ONE should ever make it!

4 Do not answer a fool [a mocker] according to his folly, or you will be just like him.
5 Answer a fool [simpleton] according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

The last chapter in, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body,” (pages 89-90), is about a self-less servant, the PLACENTA.

Of all the body’s organs, perhaps the one that best exemplifies selfless service is the placenta. Most people give little thought to the placenta, and few appreciate the marvelous complexity and profound importance of this organ that is discarded and forgotten after birth. While parents and loved ones lift joyful prayers of thanks for the safe arrival of their newborn, few think of thanking God for the essential services rendered by His marvelously designed creation–the placenta.

Here comes the bombshell:

After the egg is fertilized, the placenta is the very first organ to develop. Recent studies show that when the fertilized egg [the zygote] divides to form the first two cells, one is already destined to form the placenta, while the other becomes the baby.

Now, folks, I don’t know about you, but that’s amazing! Read on…

As soon as three days after fertilization–weeks before the mother normally suspects she is pregnant–cells of the developing placenta, called trophoblasts, begin to produce hormones. These hormones ensure that the lining of the uterus–the endometrium–will be ready to receive the embryo’s implantation. Over the next few weeks, the developing placenta begins to make hormones that control the mother’s physiology in a way that ensures the proper supply of nutrients and oxygen, which are essential to the baby’s growth [and will make the mother nauseous].

By about five days after fertilization the trophoblast cells, surrounding the developing embryo, begin to fuse together to form one giant cell with many nuclei [be sure to read the caption with the pictures].

This cell is called the syncytial trophoblast. One of the first functions of this placental giant cell is to invade the uterine wall of the mother in an amazing process called implantation.

THE BABY IS INSIDE THE BIG CELL! Only God could think this one up. If you think that’s cool, wait until tomorrow when we talk about–ah ha. You almost had me there; you’ll have to wait. In the meantime, let’s give God glory for His imagination and cleverness. You know, He is where we got ours.

Abba, You are amazing. The whole process from fertilization to birth is fascinating. Thank You for this booklet and for opening our eyes to the wonder of our human bodies. One of my favorite verses is Philippians 3:20-21, which talks about our “new kingdom” bodies,

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

We’ve been born into Your kingdom spiritually, Lord; we are simply waiting to catch up with our spirits. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 26 7-26-22

Does this world have you down? Do you need a higher perspective? Keep reading!

27:9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.

Colossians 1:27 teaches us that Christ is in us and speaks of the mystery of this truth. Verses 28-29 speak of His power at work within us as we serve our Lord . Another favorite passage of mine in Colossians is 3:1-4,

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Our goal on this earth is to give up this earth, its pleasantries, and its seeming permanence for what Christ holds in store for us. Another correlating passage is 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” By focusing on what is to come, we can keep ourselves–or better, Christ keeps us–from buying the lies that this world offers concerning health, wealth, and the pursuit of happiness.

The phrasing of “dead in our sins” and “made alive in Christ” (2:13) has always intrigued me, especially now that we have “died, and our life is now hidden with Christ in God (v.4).” We can only assume that these phrases are metaphorical in nature and are being used for us to be able to grasp on a human level the intensity and grand scope of what Christ has done for us. I have no problem with this sort of thinking because I am fully aware that what Christ did for us on a spiritual level is far above anything that I can get my mind around this side of heaven. Even there, I suspect that we will delve the depths of His love for us for eternity.

The passage ends with a promise: We will appear with Him in glory. This promise goes back to Jesus’ desire expressed in His priestly prayer in John 17:24,

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

My highest goal is to be with Him in His glory. Until then, He walks with us daily, but the Spirit inside us is merely our deposit, our guarantee of a new and better future,

21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Cor. 1:21

Let us give thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for so great a salvation and future!

Abba, I thank You for such specific plans You have laid out for us–without explaining in detail. I trust Your Word on the matter, that my eyes have not seen nor my ear heard, nor has it entered into my heart what You have prepared for me because I love You (1 Corinthians 2:9). I love You, Lord. I’m ready when You are. Amen.

Proverbs 26 6-26-22

“How can a good God allow suffering?” Part 3: He has better things in store for us.

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

Jesus came to earth and healed everyone who came to Him. So, now that He is back on His throne in heaven, why doesn’t He just heal everyone now? Why does He allow war and famine and disease? We discussed the fact that sin adversely affected this world, and the things that happen in it, such as natural disasters, are not God’s punishment for sin, but the natural consequences of a fallen world. We also discussed that mankind has the privilege of being able to make choices, and those choices carry either blessings or consequences both for the one making the decision and those who are affected by that decision. Today, let’s talk about those who die at the hands of evil men–or, men making poor choices.

From the beginning, God ordained the birth of human souls by the coming together of the male sperm and the female egg. As soon as they form a zygote, a human soul is born. This soul is eternal. God’s plan for humanity took a detour when sin and death entered the world. Now, all things die in this natural universe. So, what happens when they die? We are not entirely sure, but we know this: Jesus brought His kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, with Him when He came to earth, and it is still progressing today. We are now living in two kingdoms at the same time! Let’s look at some verses:

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17

18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-19

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Matthew 19:28

From these Scriptures, we can derive that:

  1. Jesus brought the kingdom with Him.
  2. The kingdom was active in the disciples’ lives.
  3. There will be a coming renewal–unless this verse is progressive in nature and has to do with Jesus’ resurrection and ascension where He took His place at the Father’s right hand, and then continues by adding people to the kingdom as they die on this earth, first the disciples, and then everyone else up to this very moment. Either way, we are included, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life in the coming age” (Matthew 19:29).

These bodies belong to an old covenant, one that is perishing. Jesus has glorious, new, heavenly bodies awaiting us upon death,

We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8

42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

The last point to make is that in Jesus, we have already moved from death to life, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24). Death has lost its grip on us! We now look forward to all that Christ has in store for us beyond life in these bodies.

Sound crazy? It sure does–unless you’ve met the Savior. Then, it all makes sense!

Let’s conclude today with a wonderful passage, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18,

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Abba, You have given us a hope that goes beyond this life. You said that we would be with You, and wherever You are is where we want to be. Open our eyes to these spiritual truths, Lord. It’s important that we know Your truths and that we share with others that they do not need to be afraid of death anymore, for You have conquered the grave! Amen.

Proverbs 26 5-26-22

Jesus is the most well-known Person on earth, yet everyone does not know His name or who He is. Don’t worry; they will.

15:16 Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.

Darius III claimed to be king of the world. He carried the titles of Darius the Great, King of kings, King of Persia, Pharaoh of Egypt, and King of Countries. Even with all his titles, though, he ran from Alexander the Great and died at his hand. Alex, in turn, died of a mysterious death, at age 32, and his kingdom was divided among his generals.

Before Darius III was Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, but only Bible scholars know his name and who he was. Also, the Caesars of Rome were builders of one of the strongest empires the world has ever known (the largest was the English empire followed by the Mongol empire). Most people might know Julius Caesar because of Shakespeare’s famous play; they might know the infamous Nero because of the caricature of him playing the violin while Rome burned; Caesar Augustus, the greatest of the Caesars, was only a footnote in Luke’s Gospel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We all come to the same question that Jesus asked His disciples at Caesarea Philippi in Matthew 16,

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

May we all answer as Peter answered.

Jesus, I profess You as Messiah, the Son of the living God. You are who You claim You are. You are Lord God, King of the universe, yet here You are in my heart and life communing with me! May I never take our relationship for granted, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 26 4-26-22

Jesus took Jews and Gentiles and fused them into one Body–His–thus forming a new assembly, the Church.

8:1 Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?
Isaiah 43:19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

Yesterday, we discussed the two miraculous feedings in Matthew 14 and 15; these two events announced the process of fusion through expansion of the Assembly, better known as the Church. It all began around 3500 years ago. the LORD was about to deliver the Israelites out of bondage to Egypt. He said,

16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.
17 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. Exodus 12:16-17

From that point on, the assembly referred to the gathering of Israel for worship of the LORD God. This assembly was built upon the Passover Lamb representing what Jesus Christ would do for them–and us–1500 years later.

Fast-forward to Jesus when He had led His disciples to Caesarea Philippi and asked them who they say He was:

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church*/gathering/assembly, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:16-18

Jesus was expanding the assembly; this time, it is on the declaration of Simon Peter. Jesus is the foundation, and all who declare Jesus as Messiah, the Son of the living God, are members of the assembly. Stephen even spoke of the assembly in his famous sermon for which he was stoned (Acts 7:38).

Fast-forward again to Pentecost. In Peter’s famous sermon at which 3000 Jewish men believed, he made this statement,

36 “Therefore let all Israel [the assembly] be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” Acts 2:36

This assembly, the Church, is still growing this very day. Daniel said that through the Church, Jesus would fill the entire earth (Daniel 2:34-35). We are members of this assembly and every time we gather in Jesus’ name, we join Christians all around the earth, even those who stand before the throne, in worship of our great and loving Savior and our heavenly Father. May we praise His name together in gratefulness for including us in His Assembly, the Church.

Abba, You are great and You are loving. You love us, Your Church, Your Bride. May we join our brothers and sisters around the globe and around the throne in worship of Your greatness. Amen.

*Church=Assembly. Greek, “Ekklesia,” is translated, “Gathering,” but was interpreted from, “kirche,” which is German for, “congregation,” by Tyndale.

Proverbs 26 3-26-22

Having trouble trusting God? How we see Him determines whether or not we trust Him.

28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin [Satan comes to kill our relationship with God, steal our joy, and destroy our trust in God; don’t believe him, especially what he says about God!].

We’ve been discussing hearing God these past two days. Today, we will use 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as a guide to God’s characteristics. Let’s look at the text,

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

The reason we can attribute these characteristics to God is because John does in 1 John 4:8 and 16,

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love
16 God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 

If God is love and love is patient and kind, then God is patient and kind, and so on. God will always speak to you out of these characteristics. It is when we have a wrong perception of God and a wrong perception of who we are in Him that we “buy the lie” that the enemy whispers in our ear.

Let’s look at the contrast between the approaches: God vs. the enemy.

  • Patient vs. Impatient- “God is taking too long. You can’t trust His timing.”
  • Kind vs. Merciless- “They don’t deserve kindness.” “You don’t deserve kindness.”
  • Not envious vs. Creates envy- Focuses thoughts on comparisons with others.
  • Not boastful or proud vs. Self-importance- Arrogant, thoughts that belittle others.
  • Not rude vs. Rude- Uses damaging words/thoughts towards others and/or towards ourselves.
  • Not demanding of his own way vs. Self-centered- uncaring and apathetic to the needs of others.
  • Not irritable vs. Easily irritated- Short-tempered, having unrealistic expectations.
  • Keeps no record of wrongs vs. Rehearses wrongs – of past hurts and mistakes (our own and others).
  • Rejoices in truth vs. Distorts truth- “You can’t believe ___________ because of_________.”
  • Never gives up vs. Easily gives up- rationalizes why things will never work. “What’s the use?”
  • Never loses faith vs. Doubts- “Did God really say…?”
  • Always hopeful vs. Hopeless- “Things always turn out wrong.” “You’ll never get it right.” “You are hopeless, why do I put up with you?”
  • Endures through every circumstance vs. Complains and looks for an easy escape- “Why keep trying?” “This is too hard.”

The enemy speaks in general terms and in lies: “You’re no good.” “God doesn’t love you.”
The Spirit speaks the truth specifically and lovingly.

Is the Holy Spirit creating a desire in you to change how you think about Him and spend time with Him? Remember, He won’t just tell you to “do better.” He will be drawing you and encouraging you with specific instructions that He will then equip you to do!

Abba, I love the way You love me. To think of You as loving and kind, and of keeping no record of wrongs changes the way I feel about You. I can trust You! Knowing that you are always faithful, hopeful, and that You never give up on me makes me want to follow You. Together, I know we can endure every circumstance, and that we will never fail because, “love never fails!” Amen.

Proverbs 26 2-26-22

“Too big for our own britches” is a phrase that is used to describe an arrogant attitude. Does it describe us?

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

Anytime we think we have the market cornered on knowledge, we’d better use that way of thinking as a warning to take a step back mentally–and maybe literally–and look around. It could be that the point of God’s exercise in holiness may not be understanding the passage or concept, but in accepting those who don’t think like us. Jesus’ prayer for us was that we would be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:20-23).

Take, for instance, trans-substantiation of the Eucharist. Many Christians believe that the bread and wine when they take the Lord’s Supper become the literal body and blood of Christ. Many others believe that they are both literal and figurative (con-substantiation), and then many believe that it is only figurative (impanation), which is that Christ’s presence is in the bread and wine, but they are still bread and wine. Many of us take the bread and (new) wine as a commemoration of His life and sacrifice, and pledge anew our devotion to Him. Actual, figurative or symbolic–who is right?

Another example of an exercise in unity is baptism, which we won’t get into today. Really, any point of controversy is an opportunity to take a step back and unify in Christ. If Christ is leading them as He leads us, but does not give enlightenment in these areas, then the point must be our unity in Christ rather than in being right.

The real question is, do we all love Jesus? Are we committed to following Him wherever He goes? Are we following Jesus’ command to love each other as He has loved us? Then we all should be able to come together in unity and bless the Lord. Let’s try it, shall we?

Abba, we commit ourselves once again to Your sovereignty and omniscience. You alone know absolute truth; we are subject to what the Spirit shows us. May we be about unity rather than rightness. May we focus on what we have in common, which is You, and rejoice together in You, Jesus. As in the parable of the wheat and the tares, You will sort out the truth for us in the new age. Unify us, O Lord. We need it! Amen.

Proverbs 26 1-26-22

Jesus asked us to be him to others. That’s all. He will do the rest.

17 Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears [keep the main thing the main thing].

What was it that Jesus wants us to do for Him?

  • Keep his commandments. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15
  • Love one another as He has loved us. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:11

We don’t really have to completely understand creation, salvation, justification, sanctification, and especially glorification. Instead, all we have to do is be obedient. So, how do we go about doing that?

It’s actually pretty simple. We look at the people around us and see where they need help and then go help them. See a yard to be mowed or raked? Get after it. Someone needs a ride somewhere? Inconvenience yourself and do it (I’m preaching to myself here). How about blessing a server at a restaurant with an extra big tip whether he/she deserves it or not–especially if he/she doesn’t?

Family is really the hardest to serve. We have leftovers from our childhood days: Keeping things even, saving face, competition about everything, getting historical and hysterical, entitlement, etc. Let’s set Christ’s command above our petty feelings and differences and love one another. Call it carrying your cross, or the Christ-like way, or dying to self; whatever word pictures we like, let’s just do it!

Abba, I’m the first one on this bandwagon. I’m as guilty as the next person (maybe more). Help me to stop being childish and start being childlike in my faith. Show me the Jesus Way; I want to run on it! “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32. Amen.

Proverbs 26 12-26-21

Being a disciple is being a follower, a close follower. Jesus asks us to follow Him–closely!

14 As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed. The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer discreetly.

Jesus had more than 12 disciples. Luke 10:1 tells us that He sent out 70+ ahead of Him; in Matthew 8:22, He called a would-be disciple to follow Him; In Matthew 19:21, Jesus asked a young ruler to follow him. There is evidence that many women were disciples, too. Mark 15:41 speaks of them. In John 6:66, many would-be disciples turned away from Him because of His “extreme” requirements. In the end, Judas betrayed Him, and the other 11 ran away.

Jesus loved them all. Even when they didn’t follow, He loved them. He knew something that they didn’t, which was that He was going to die for their sin so that they would become holy vessels prepared and ready to receive the Holy Spirit of Christ! Then, at Pentecost, He filled them up. The best part is that as soon as we believe Him, He fills us up, too! The cross was our purification; it’s one of the things His sacrifice did. One of my favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 5:18,

18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,

We have much for which to be grateful today. May we bless His name and enjoy sweet fellowship with the Father/Son/Spirit.

Abba, thank You for making me a clean vessel to hold Your Spirit. Having You in my life has given me new life, real life, eternal life! May I experience the Fellowship of the Trinity with every breath I take. Today, I sing Your praises and worship You, Almighty God; there is none like You. Amen.

Proverbs 26 11-26-21

Having trouble seeing Jesus? That’s okay. We all do. The Spirit wants to reveal Him to us. Listen closely!

7 Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless, is a proverb in the mouth of fools [who do not ask the Lord for wisdom].

We all begin spiritually blind. In fact, we all have scales like Paul that keep us from seeing Jesus as He really is. The illness of wrong-thinking that leads to wrong-doing has blinded us to the truth. The salve of Jesus (Revelation 3:18) cleanses our eyes and we see light. That light is Him, and He reveals the truth about Himself to us. Let’s read Paul’s account in Acts 9,

Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.

As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”

“Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.

And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink.

10 Now there was a believer/disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord!” he replied.

11 The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. 12 I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”

13 “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers/disciples in Jerusalem! 14 And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”

15 But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

17 So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. 19 Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.

Literal- Saul later becomes known as Paul (His Greek name). He who was a great persecutor of the church became the greatest evangelist known in Christianity. What changed? His perspective! We know that Paul had trouble with his eyes (Galatians 4:13-15, 6:11). He learned to live with his infirmity. It is ventured that he was referencing his eye problems in 2 Corinthians 12:7-8; his conclusion certainly applies,

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Moral- Saul couldn’t see clearly even though he had studied the Scriptures (all OT at the time). Why? Because he needed the Father’s perspective. Once he met Jesus, Saul, who became Paul, immediately understood the truth. The filling of the Holy Spirit gave him the understanding to interpret the Scriptures correctly concerning Jesus Christ and His vision of the Father. The Spirit will do the same for us.

Spiritual- Only those who have seen Jesus Christ in His resurrected form see Him clearly (Paul and John, whose accounts we have); even then, they know only what He has revealed to them. Paul says,

12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

And John says,

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is1 John 3:2

We spend our whole lives struggling to see Christ clearly. We have the Scriptures, but we need the Spirit to help us interpret. Let’s keep everything on the table and allow the Spirit of Christ to guide us into all truth.

Abba, once we were blinded by the evil one, the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), but now we are children of light (1 Thessalonians 5:5). May we see You with new eyes of the Spirit, O Lord. Our heart’s desire is to seek Your face (Psalm 27:8). Amen.

Proverbs 26 10-26-21

Submit, Resist, Draw Near, Wash, Purify, Grieve, Mourn and Wail, Change, Humble Yourselves. That’s a TALL order…

28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin. We must be honest with ourselves.

We have discussed before James 4:7, which says,

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

What we haven’t discussed are the next three verses,

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James invites us to encounter God as we may never have before: Seeing ourselves in truth. Notice that I didn’t say, “As God sees us.” Yes, He sees us in truth, but He chooses to see us as His little children (Matthew 18:12-14; “little ones” is a term of endearment, as in “you of little faith”, which actually means, “my little faithless ones”; the same goes for Mark 9:42). We tend to be strong-willed, independent, entitled, and proud. James says, “Look in the mirror! Compare yourselves to Christ and change” (James 1:23-25). Let’s break down the passage:

  1. Come or draw near- the word picture suggests that we have wandered away from His side. It’s bigger than that; He is facing us, but we won’t respond to His love. As with salvation, we must relent to His love and respond by submitting to that love. All of this action happens in our minds.
  2. Wash your hands- let go of what we are doing that keeps us from turning and drawing near to God.
  3. Purify your hearts- quit entertaining other gods in our hearts. We are to be one-God people. To think that we can love and serve God adequately while also serving ourselves is double-minded. We’ve seen that word before in 1:8, where James tells us that we must ask with the intention of using the wisdom given us; to ask with no intention of using that wisdom, or waiting to hear it before making our decision (playing god), is being double-minded.
  4. Grieve, mourn and wail- this is what little children do when they are separated from their parents. It is what we should do when we realize that we are separated–not by His choice–from the Father in fellowship.
  5. Laughter to mourning, joy to gloom- When we realize that we are out of fellowship with the Father, we lose our joy, which causes us to lose our laughter, which causes us to mourn.
  6. Humble yourselves- realize that we are little children spiritually (we never get out of the nursery). By remembering who is God and who is not (us), we are finally in a position to move to the Father’s side again.
  7. He will lift you up- our PROMISE! Abba will pick us up and hold us close. Fellowship is restored! Everything reverses: gloom is gone and joy is back; we get our laughter back! I think we laugh with the Father as He rejoices over us (Zephaniah 3:17).

A friend of mine told me that when walking in the dark, stay close to the person carrying the lantern. Jesus is our Light. Let’s draw near and stay close to Him.

Abba, I am not offended by the term, “dear little children.” In fact, I take great solace in it! The fact that I am Your child is enough to send me into orbit. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You for redeeming me. You ransomed* me from the pit and brought me into a wide, stable place: by Your side. May I stay there–and with Your assistance, I will. Amen.

*Old French/English-it does mean to buy back, but it also means “to take back.” Its origins are “to undo, to redeem, to restore.” We find this picture in the Scriptures when God took back the people of Israel from Pharaoh, the strong man binding the owner of the house in Matthew 12:29, and Jesus on the cross.

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].

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 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.