Proverbs 27 11-27-22

Our Christianity is wrapped up in a relationship with Jesus, who lives in/with us through His Spirit. We have this truth on good authority: The Bible.

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

I just finished reading a book called, “A Grand Illusion,” by Pastor David Young. It’s about “How progressive Christianity undermines biblical faith.” The first question to answer is, “What is progressive Christianity?”

On page 19 of his introduction, David lists four ways of progressivism:

  1. A rewrite of historic Christianity to accommodate those who want some version of religion and ethics in their lives but who prefer American sensibilities to historic Christianity;
  2. An unnatural way of reading Scripture to make it fit into the prevailing values of the Anglo West;
  3. A less-than-forthright use of the great Christian creeds, where the same words might be said but new North American meanings are applied;
  4. A rereading of Christian history that often understates the great stream of orthodoxy and focuses, instead, on minor Christians streams in support of American progressive particularities.

I’m not as much concerned with people’s bad teaching (intentional or unintentional). What I am concerned with is learning what true teaching is according to the Bible and our Christian heritage. David Young has done a great job of teaching those truths, and I would like to share some of them with you over the next several days.

There are a few things to keep in mind:

  • We are focusing on the truth rather than the counterfeit. People who look for counterfeit money never study counterfeits, but the real deal so that they know a fake when they see one. That’s our goal, too.
  • We never speak of anyone in a derogatory fashion, nor do we defame or dishonor them. Our goal is ALWAYS to show love. If we can’t say something in a loving manner, then we’d better not say it.
  • If you choose to purchase this book and read it, you will come across some quotes by fellow Christians. We must remember that none of us has a monopoly on the truth. They may be considered wrong in their teaching, but they may not fit the above list of what a progressive is. Go and read/listen to where the quote came from, “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). Let’s not take someone else’s word for what someone said; find out for yourself and compare it to Scripture.

Tomorrow, we will look at what makes Christianity so unique. Hint: It’s about a Person…

Abba, as we enter into this topic of truth vs. heresy, may we enter with a sense of gravity. I have great faith in two things: One is that You pursue everyone to trust in You; two is that, among Christian brothers and sisters, You will make all things clear eventually (Philippians 3:15). May we live up to what we have already attained, and be humble enough to change what we “attained” wrongly.

Proverbs 27 10-27-22

People who speak the name of Jesus with no reference to the Person simply don’t know Who they are talking about!

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
–Jesus, Revelation 1:8

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

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

There are several questions that arise from this verse.

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

Today, we look at question #5, “What makes His (Jesus’) name special. Let’s look at the name, Jesus:

From ONE FOR ISRAEL,

The name “Jesus” comes from the Greek way of expressing his name: Ἰησοῦς, which is pronounced “Yay-soos”. While we have an English version of the Hebrew name for Gabriel, we seem to have ended up with an English version of the Greek version of the Hebrew name for our Messiah, that doesn’t even sound close anymore. It makes him all the less recognizable to his Jewish brethren. Jesus just sounds so… gentile! But when Jewish people hear his name in Hebrew, quite often the lights go on. Ah! Yeshua! The name Yeshua was known and used in Jewish history – you can find men called Yeshua in the roll calls of teams serving in the temple (1 Chronicles 24:11, 2 Chronicles 31:15, Ezra 2:2,6,36). It’s a version of Joshua, and it means “salvation”. This makes much more sense to Jewish ears.

Yeshua means, “Anointed One.” The Anointed One is the Messiah of Israel and Savior of the whole world. Here’s what Daniel wrote about the Anointed One,

25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. Daniel 9:25-26

To explain a little bit, the “sevens” are prophet-speak for years. 69 “weeks,” or, “sevens,” is basically 483 years from the beginning of the rebuilding of the second temple in 457 B.C. to 27 A.D. when Jesus was baptized and anointed by the Holy Spirit, which came down in the form of a dove. Let’s read that passage:

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

When we say the name, “Jesus,” we are calling on God’s Anointed One, the Messiah. Our Jewish brethren call Him, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach (Jesus the Christ, the Anointed One). What was Jesus anointed to do? Let’s look:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Luke 4:18

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour28 Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
 John 12:27

31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:31-32

When we call on the name of Jesus, all of this rich history and the enormity of His sacrifice come with it. We remember that He is seated at the right hand of God (Ephesians 1:19-21), yet He bids us to come to Him for mercy and grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Let us praise Him for who He is!

Abba, may we stand in awe of You, and Your Son, Jesus Christ, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, our Lord and Savior. Please continue to transform us into the image of Your Son. We would be honored. Amen.

Proverbs 27 9-27-22

About questions: When is it okay to ask them? When is it SAFE to ask them?

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

The disciples asked Jesus a question and got an answer similar to the statement above,

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. Acts 1:6-7

After reading the Baptist Faith & Message, I have come to the conclusion that in our Baptist denomination, we all believe the basic tenets of the faith, but there is still room for some difference in opinion. Where those differences occur, Christ would have us strive for unity in the midst of diversity.

Paul said, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). He even told us how, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). We each answer to the Holy Spirit. If we are each reading our Bibles and searching the Scriptures daily to learn while trusting the Spirit to lead us as we study, then we can trust that the Spirit is in control of everyone’s information. If what someone else thinks — within the BF&M– doesn’t line up with what we think, we are to humbly seek to see the person’s point of view. If that view can be scripturally validated–even if we disagree–we bear with one another in love. If that view can’t be scripturally validated, then according to the Spirit’s leading, we gently and patiently discuss the matter until a consensus is reached (which can take a while–years, even).

In all things, we seek unity in the body for worship and communion even if we disagree on selected points of Scripture. Paul said, “All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained” (Philippians 3:15-16). What is it that Paul asked them to do?

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-mindedhaving the same love, being one in spirit and of one mindDo nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus

In a word,
UNITY.

Abba, we are family, Your family. We are siblings of Christ and You are our Father. I know that you want unity among Your children. May we take seriously Your prayer in John 17:20-21, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Segregating only makes us look like the world. I pledge to You, Abba, to work toward unity in all groups of which I am a part. Hold me to it! Amen.

Proverbs 27 8-27-22

How does a completely separate person live inside another person? That’s the job of the Placenta!

18 The one who guards [tends] a fig tree will eat its fruit, and whoever protects their master will be honored.

Yesterday, we discovered that when a fertilized egg (a zygote) divides, one half becomes the placenta and the other half becomes the baby. The placenta cell begins to make more cells that surround the baby cells and basically form a cocoon, which sticks to the uterine wall to receive nourishment. All this happened by “accident,” right? This next part is doubly amazing! From, “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body,” (pages 90-94).

Although the developing placenta and baby implant within the thick nutrient-filled wall of the mother’s uterus, they are not actually part of the mother’s body. One of the placenta’s important roles is to protect the developing baby from an attack by the mother’s immune system, since the baby and the placenta are genetically unique and distinctly different from the mother. It is still a mystery how the placenta prevents the mother from rejecting it and the baby as a foreign graft without shutting down her immune system.

After implantation, the placental giant cell “invades” the walls of several uterine arteries and veins, causing the mother’s blood to flow through channels within the cell (see figure 3).

When the baby develops its own blood and blood vessels, the mother’s blood and the blood of the developing baby come into close association, but they never mix or come into direct contact [AMAZING!]. The syncytial trophoblast forms a thin, seamless, and selective barrier between maternal blood and fetal blood. All the critically important nutrients, gasses, hormones, electrolytes, and antibodies that pass from mother’s blood to the baby’s blood must travel across this seamless and selective filter. Waste products in the baby’s blood must, in turn, pass across this filter to the mother’s blood.

From this point on, Mom is hostess to her baby. Provided with opportunity, this little mass of cells that is inside the placenta ball will grow into a full-sized adult one day. From the moment the sperm fertilized the egg, God designed that zygote to be a human being! God is the Creator of all nature and He acts naturally: When we fertilize an egg, we get a human being. With all of our science, why is this “concept” so difficult to acknowledge and accept?

Abba, thank You that all things are from You and through You and to You (Romans 11:36). All humans belong to You, whether zygotes or senior adults. You have saved us through Your amazing power, the power You exerted when You raised Christ Jesus from the dead and seated Him next to You (Ephesians 1:19-20). To You be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:21).

Proverbs 27 7-27-22

The Bible is not just a static book. It holds the truth of the Gospel in it. Life is wrapped up in its very words.

12 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

Scripture is inspired in that it is infused with the Person of the Holy Spirit. When we read Scripture, we encounter the Holy Spirit in a very personal way–if we are looking for Him. It’s not that He hides from us, but that we are initially spiritually blind, deaf and dumb,

17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Revelation 3:17

17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? Mark 8:17-18

13 This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
    though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’
Matthew 13:13-15

It’s verse 15 that gives us the reason for their blindness and deafness: Their hearts had become calloused to spiritual things. They couldn’t hear His voice because they didn’t want to hear Him. But, Jesus calls us to Him, and when we answer Him, He heals us! In this life, we may rarely hear His voice audibly, but when we acknowledge this fact and quit looking for it, we will begin to look for Him in the Scriptures. and guess what? There He is! We CAN see Him and hear Him and understand Him,

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. Matthew 13:16

13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:13-14

So, when we read in the Gospels, “I am…,” we know that He is speaking to us even as He was speaking to those in His audience that day. “I am the Bread of Life,” “I am the Good Shepherd,” “Before Abraham was born, I AM,” I am humble and gentle,” “I am willing,” “I am from above,” “I am not of this world,” “I am the Gate,” “I am the resurrection and the life,” “I am the true vine,” “I am He (Jesus of Nazareth),” “I am ascending to My Father,” “I am sending you.”

Abba, help us hear Your voice in Your Word. You had it recorded for us so that we would know the truth, and Your truth sets us free. May we take full advantage of this wonderful resource called the Bible. Amen.

Proverbs 27 6-27-22

Jesus said that His kingdom is within us. How does that happen? It defies the laws of this world–or, does it?

18 The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit,
    and whoever protects their master will be honored [mutual benefit].

We are studying Matthew in my SS class (Sunday School, or what I call “Sunday’s Cool). As we walk through the book, my view of the kingdom of heaven is changing. When Jesus talks about the kingdom of heaven, sometimes it is in present tense and sometimes it is coming in the immediate future. One of the references shows that the physical kingdom in which we live and the spiritual kingdom of Christ can coexist and mutually benefit each other.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given/added to you as well. Matthew 6:33

How do we seek God’s kingdom?

  • We are to recognize our spiritual poverty. We seek the Father and receive the kingdom. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3
  • We are to acknowledge that we will be persecuted for the kingdom. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10
  • Our righteousness (that we have in Christ) is to surpass the Pharisees, who depended upon their works for salvation. “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20
  • We must do the will of the Father (by listening, trusting, believing and obeying Him). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

The kingdom of heaven is wherever Jesus is.
When we seek His righteousness, we are seeking Him.

The verse says that “all these things” will be given/added to us. What are “all these things?” They are all that Jesus knows we need at any given time. All our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are met in Christ.

There is a caveat. We must seek Christ Jesus. He wants a one-on-one relationship with us. Any works done FOR Christ can be considered wood, hay and stubble rather than gold, silver or precious gems (1 Corinthians 3:12-13). He doesn’t need our works; He wants us! Unless we have heard from Him about church, quiet time, teaching, conversation, routine, ministry, and numerous other things, we are doing them in our own power and in our own way based upon our very limited perspective.

I no longer see the rewards of heaven as in the future. I see them right here, right now in the presence and participation of Christ.

Abba, thank You that Your kingdom is in me because You are in me. Likewise, You are the kingdom and I am in You. It’s confusing to me with my 3D, finite mind. Please help me understand more and more of Your kingdom as I grow in You. Amen.

Proverbs 27 5-27-22

If we want to be like Jesus, we must stop judging our neighbors and start demonstrating His love to them.

6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

If there is a verse that points to our free will and the degree to which God allows us to take part in our own spiritual growth, this is it:

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

God does not expect us to be perfect (whole, complete, mature) as He is perfect, but we are IN TRAINING to think and act like Him. Perfection will come when we are out of these bodies and in our glorified bodies. In the meantime, let’s not chastise ourselves or others for not “getting life right.” We are all works in progress and are on our own individual journeys with Him.

Jesus said,

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:1-5

Paul said,

Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. Romans 14:4

Let’s focus on finding ways to show love to our neighbor. In doing so, we will complete the Gospel:

10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:10
14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

Abba, You have made it so simple, yet we have made it so complicated. If we would love our neighbors “where they are at, not where we want them to be,” we would be so much like You that people would run to You, Jesus! May it be so. Amen.

Proverbs 27 4-27-22

Doubting Thomas was only Doubting Thomas before he met Christ in the upper room that night.

8:5 Are you immature? Learn to be mature [have prudence, show discretion].
    Are you foolish? Learn to have sense [be wise].

Good News Bible

Sunday night marked the anniversary of the end of Doubting Thomas. The account of the disciple, Thomas, could be every person’s story. How did he get his nickname? Let’s read it:

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus [twin]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

So, we see where he gets his moniker. I can see him in my mind stubbornly refusing to believe them.

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

It is that this point that we see the end of Doubting Thomas.

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

It is difficult to imagine anyone not responding to Jesus the same way Thomas did. To put one’s finger where the nails were and to feel where the spear pierced His side…to hear Him say, “Peace be with you,” and to see the love in His eyes…who could refuse such a loving Savior?!

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

This is where you and I fit into the story. We have not had the luxury of seeing Him physically, to touch Him and hear His voice aloud, and yet, we believe. Why? Because we HAVE met Him! He now resides within us, walks with us, and guides us through every day. We are most blessed!

To know Jesus is to want to be like Jesus. Let’s fix our eyes on Him and follow Him wherever He leads.

Abba, being with You transforms me. I find myself enjoying Your peace and joy; Your loves overwhelms me! I want everyone to experience You this way. May You lead me to folks who are waiting to hear Your good news. Amen.

Proverbs 27 3-27-22

In order to hear God correctly, we need to know who He is and what He thinks of us. The Bible has the message; the Spirit confirms it.

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

The last two days, we have been discussing Hearing God and what His voice sounds like. Yesterday, we looked at God’s approach to us vs. the enemy’s approach to us. Today, we will deal with the enemy’s greatest weapon: Our feelings.

If the enemy can get us to believe the lie about who God is and/or who we are, then he can manipulate our feelings. For instance:

  • If he can get us to doubt God’s motives (he did Eve), then we take matters into our own hands;
  • If he can get us to doubt God’s love for us, then we go searching for love in all the wrong places;
  • If he can get us to see God in any other way than a loving Father, then we fear Him and keep our distance;
  • If he can get us to think of God as the Great Manipulator of circumstances and events, then we resent Him for bad things that happen.

When the Trinity created us in Their image, They gave us free will (see Genesis 1:26-27, 2:16-17). Our ability to choose is what makes us most like the Trinity. When we buy the lie of the enemy, we see God differently than who He really is and ourselves as other than we really are. The list in yesterday’s Proverbs demonstrates how successful the enemy is! We can be manipulated into being impatient, merciless, envious, proud, rude, self-centered, irritable, resentful, deceiving, despairing, and complaining (see the post below this one).

If we ever wonder how God feels about us, all we have to do is remember these two verses:

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

16 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

If the heavenly Father thinks we’re worth being loved, and He respects us enough to allow us to make our own choices, let’s choose to love Him!

Abba, Thank You for loving me and for showing me how much You love me (and everyone) by dying on the cross. Thank You for rising from the dead and offering me a seat at Your table–even to sit with You on Your throne! You really DO love us, don’t You? “I worship You, Almighty God, there is none like You (sung by Charity Gayle).” Amen.

Proverbs 27 2-27-22

How far are we willing to back up on our doctrine in order to seek unity among Christ’s followers?

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

Before we get into answering our question, let’s read what Jesus said is the key to blasphemy:

31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. Matthew 12:31-32

Why would speaking against the Holy Spirit be an unforgivable sin? If there is an unpardonable sin, this one is it. Why? For that answer, we must go to 1 John 5:6,

It was he who came by means of water and blood, Jesus the Messiah, not by water only but by the water and the blood. The Spirit is the one who bears witness, because the Spirit is the truth.

It is the Spirit who bears witness that Jesus is the Messiah, that He is God in the flesh, and that He is Lord of all. To have the wrong idea about who Jesus is can certainly be forgiven. Saul/Paul was. But, when a person speaks out against Jesus, he is saying that the testimony of the Spirit is a lie. Therefore, the Spirit cannot have any kind of relationship with him as long as he does not believe what the Spirit says about Jesus. Since Jesus gives life and that life is through the Spirit, the rejection of Jesus is the rejection of life, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have life” (1 John 5:12).

Now that we have established what blasphemy is, we know that everyone who loves Jesus and lives for Him has life regardless of what else they believe. We can all come together in Jesus’ name and worship Jesus together in solidarity and unity regardless of what else we believe. When we get arrogant about what we call heresy, we are in danger of being at the wrong end of the Scripture, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 14:11) and “So the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16).

Tomorrow, we will look at what heresy is. In the meantime, enjoy the fellowship you have with your brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of what else they believe.

Abba, You hate dissension among Your children. Why, oh why do we demand our own way? Brother Paul said that love does not demand its own way, and aren’t You love? If You don’t, then we certainly shouldn’t! May I be the first to drop the stone in my hand, Abba. I love You and want to be like You. Help!!! Amen.

Proverbs 27 1-27-22

Weather is regional; “dark days” are, too. Things may not be as dark as they seem.

3 A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool’s provocation [insistence that he is right when he is wrong] is heavier than both.

I found out an astonishing statistic the other day and I want to share it with you. Here it is: Over the last 100 years, Christianity in the world has quadrupled. Yes, quadrupled. The number of Christians went from 600 million in 1910 to 2.5 billion in 2019. These statistics include Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox as well as smaller faith groups. The breakdown of each, including geographical locations, is at

Essential Stats and Facts About Christianity Today

There is another statistic given in that report that is concerning, “Today in the United States, the number of adults who identify as Christians has dropped from 78% in 2010 to 65% at present (updated April 16, 2020). That’s 13% in 10 years! I hear talk that America is headed toward being a post-Christian nation.

There are two observations I see in these two statistics.

  1. The statistic concerning America is definitely a sign of the times, but those times may really be good for true Jesus followers. When Christianity is not culturally accepted anymore will be when true Christianity is revealed. If being a Christ-follower is unpopular or even illegal, then our churches (albeit smaller fellowships) will be filled with sold-out believers who love Jesus and are willing to follow Him no matter what.
  2. The statistic concerning the number of Christians in the world relieves my fears of these being “dark days.” It may be somewhat darker where we live than what it used to be, but overall the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being shared and people are coming to Christ all over the world!

So, I am encouraged by these statistics. I believe that our Great Commission to make disciples and to teach them all that Jesus commanded is still relevant and important. Let’s be about the Father’s business, shall we?

Abba, thank you that you are working in our world just like you said you would. I am encouraged by the numbers of people who are coming into your kingdom. I want to be a part of what you are doing. Please lead me to join you in your work. Let’s make more Christ-followers together. Amen.

Proverbs 27 12-27-21

“Perfect love casts out fear.” What does that even mean? Let’s look…

19 As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.

What is God’s heart? It is expressed in two verses,

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten [one and only] Son, that whoever believes [entrusts] in Him shall not perish [be lost, be destroyed, wander away to his detriment, be annihilated], but have eternal life [life with no end]. John 3:16

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect [mature, complete] love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

The type of relationship that Jesus wants with us is one that is complete and mature; it’s a perfect love the is tied up in unity and oneness. “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21). I know that there are verses that tell us to fear God. I can only say that my Western ideological mind cannot separate fear and God, but the verses I quoted previously demand that I do so. Fear causes us to keep our distance, and that is the LAST thing that Jesus wants.

So, based upon this “new” concept, I am going to “forget” going to heaven or going to hell and focus on my current relationship with Jesus. I feel that when I am concerned about the future, it creates a tension in me that leads to fear. When I think about all the people who might be dying and going to hell, I know it creates tension in me that leads to fear. So, I have decided that I don’t know enough about either one to make an educated decision. In fact, I don’t know anyone who does. It’s funny that Jesus invited people to be a part of His kingdom, and He promised them that “whoever hears His word and believes him [God] who sent Him has eternal life He does not come into judgment, but has [already] passed from death to life” (John 5:24), but when He talked about the afterlife, it was with the present life in mind (see Matthew 25:45-46). Jesus was much more interested in their state of mind and their actions in this life. I believe that we should be the same. It’s a matter of trust. If we trust Jesus, then we will not worry about our future. I also trust that Jesus will reveal Himself to everyone at one time or another so that they have a decision just like us, but that’s His business; we only get involved if He asks us to.

I’m not copping out on evangelism; I’m just leaving it up to Jesus. According to Experiencing God,

the-7-realities

We can trust the heavenly Father. In trusting Him, He casts fear out of us as if it were a demon so that we can know Him on a level of intimacy that goes beyond this world. We experience the Fellowship of the Trinity. I don’t understand it all, but I’m learning to trust Him. I pray you are, too.

Abba, I am learning to not fear You, but to trust You. It’s hard because I grew up fearing hell and an angry picture of You. But, Jesus shows me that You are a loving God, full of mercy and grace, and that You pour out both on everyone who trusts You. I am truly grateful! Teach me, O Lord, to “unlearn what I have learned,” and to trust in what the Spirit is saying to me through Jesus’ words. Amen.

Proverbs 27 11-27-21

Jesus said that His words will never pass away (Matthew 24:35). Sounds important. Maybe we ought to read them…

5 Better is open rebuke than hidden love. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Jesus is our Friend; He is Faithful.

In order to understand the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, we must begin at the end,

28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. Matthew 7:28-29

Of course, we know that Jesus was (and is) God in the flesh (Emmanuel), which is why He taught with authority. They didn’t, though, and were being introduced to this new way of looking at things. That new way is through the eyes of Jesus concerning the Father, His plan for Israel and the Gentiles, and for the course of humanity. Let’s look at how Jesus personalized, expanded, and refocused the Scriptures according to the New Covenant that He was about to introduce.

Now when Jesus saw the crowds [and had compassion on them (Matthew 9:36)], He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. And He [God in the flesh] opened His mouth [He created the universe with His words] and began to teach them, saying,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The kingdom of heaven belonged to the people of God, which was Israel, yet Jesus expanded that group to everyone who was poor (recognized they were bankrupt) in spirit. The religious leaders of the day thought that they were fine spiritually because they “kept” the law.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the gentle [meek], for they will inherit the earth.

How we treat our fellow humans is important to God. In fact, He promises the earth to all who treat them as He treats them.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Justice was the order of the day; mercy was for the weak. Jesus changed the tone of the law by stressing mercy and forgiveness rather than justice and vengeance. “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

The religious leaders were not interested in peacemaking, which is another term for uniting folks. They maintained power and control (and probably money) by keeping the Jews separate from the Gentiles and the religious leaders from the regular folk. Also, violence wasn’t beneath them…

10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus was changing the terms of righteousness (in their eyes). It was about to no longer be about sacrifice and ritual, but about allegiance and relationship with Him. What they didn’t realize was that they only had a shadow of true righteousness. They were looking at the righteousness of God in a Person–and many missed Him!

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Up until now, the Law was the all-important sword upon which to fall; Jesus was now saying that He was that sword. Jesus offered a great reward in heaven for His sake. Only God could guarantee that, which was the point.

As we can see, Jesus was changing the direction of everything that the Jewish people had believed for several centuries. He really was starting a revolution, a revolution of grace.

Abba, it blew my mind the day I was made aware that there are tiers to the many parts of the Bible, and Jesus made it clear that I am to place His words above all others. So, Lord Jesus, I pledge myself to You once again to read everything else, whether Scripture, devotional books, fiction books, etc. through Your eyes and Your discretion. May I be sensitive to Your Spirit on these matters. Amen.

Proverbs 27 10-27-21

Jesus is our Great Redeemer, our Representative, the Second Adam, and the bringer of the Great Reset.

20 Death and Destruction (Abaddon-hell) are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes [as long as the Old Covenant lasted; Christ made this verse obsolete by beating death, robbing hell, and redeeming mankind].

Putting the consequences of spiritual death off until it could be dealt with on the cross is what I call the Great Reset. Let’s look at some Scriptures that explain this event:

25 God showed that Christ is the throne of mercy where God’s approval is given through faith in Christ’s blood. In his patience God waited to deal with sins committed in the past. Romans 3:25

This verse shows us several things that were going on spiritually:

  1. “Atonement” is used in other versions for throne of mercy. The root word refers to the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. Atonement actually means “At-one-ment” or “reconciliation.”
  2. The only way for us to be reconciled to God was for Him to forgive us. There is no amount of punishment that we can endure to make up for the consequences of sin. So, in mercy, God wipes the debt clean with the blood of Jesus.
  3. Although physical consequences were in effect, the spiritual consequence of eternal separation was put off until Jesus reversed the effects of sin on the cross. As through Adam sin came into the world, sin was remediated through the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Both were representatives of mankind. “Had the spiritual and earthly powers of the day known this fact, they never would have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8).

38 Peter [said] to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

There is an interesting footnote concerning the term, “repent,” in the New American Bible,

Repent and be baptized: repentance is a positive concept, a change of mind and heart toward God reflected in the actual goodness of one’s life. It is in accord with the apostolic teaching derived from Jesus (Acts 2:42) and ultimately recorded in the four gospels. Luke presents baptism in Acts as the expected response to the apostolic preaching about Jesus and associates it with the conferring of the Spirit (Acts 1:510:44–4811:16).”

We tend to think of repentance as begging forgiveness when it really means, “All of you must turn to God and change the way you think and act” (from the Names of God Bible). Consider when Jesus met Peter on the shore; did He require Peter’s apology? No. Instead, He said, “Peter, do you love Me? Feed my lambs” (John 21:15-17). Peter showed his repentance (his change of mind and heart) through his obedience.

For us, the moment we turn our intentions to obedience, the Holy Spirit empowers us. We become filled with the Spirit for the first time. Is it a resurrection? You Bet! We are born again. We begin to follow Jesus, and things are never the same. WE are never the same. Jesus pressed the Grand Reset on our lives. NO MORE CONSEQUENCES (Romans 8:1-2 notice the italics)! Jesus bore them on the cross.

24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24

If sin is a disease, then Jesus is the Great Physician. He took our disease upon Himself, died, and took it to the grave so that mankind would no longer have to live with such a disease. It was… The Great Reset.

Abba, thank You for dying so that I would not have to spiritually. Being reunited with the Father through You is beyond words. Thank You for living in me via Your Spirit. May I show my undying gratitude through my obedience to You. Amen.

Proverbs 27 9-27-21

We read the Bible each morning to help us tune in to Jesus’ voice that is within us. It’s that still, small voice.

9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend [Jesus] springs from His heartfelt advice.

The Word of God is the Action of God. God spoke and our universe came into being (Genesis 1:1). The next big reveal was when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). How did that happen?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was GodHe was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-4

Jesus is the Action Person of the Trinity. Here are a few verses that bear that out:

27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
    when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above
    and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary
    so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
30     Then I was the craftsman at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
    rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world
    and delighting in mankind.
Proverbs 8:27-31

15 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. Colossians 1:15-17

When it was time for God to act on man’s behalf, Jesus came. He came with the express purpose of dying for us, “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” John 12:27. There are places where the Bible says that Jesus rose from the dead and that He was raised from the dead. It’s an academic matter. Since Jesus is God, then both are true. Jesus Himself said, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:17-18.

Let’s keep reading in John 1,

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:9-13

Only God can do that! So let’s review:

  1. Jesus is the Word of God.
  2. Jesus is with God.
  3. Jesus IS God (if this blows your brain, then you’re actually thinking straight!).

What can we deduce from these verses concerning the Word of God and the Bible?

  1. The Word of God is the action of God, and Jesus is that Word.
  2. The Bible is a collection of accounts that verify and confirm the life and ministry of Jesus. The Gospels and Acts give the accounts while the letters help us understand the mystery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Notice how everything about the Bible points to Jesus. That’s a good thing because it’s all about Him. We don’t worship the Bible; We worship the God of the Bible, Jesus Christ. The Bible is a tool in the hands of God–a very effective tool, one that reveals the Son to us. It’s words are inspired by the Holy Spirit who speaks to us every time we read it. The words recorded in the Bible give testimony to what the writers have seen and heard and experienced (1 John 1:1-3). We listen as we read for confirmation from the Spirit to what we read.

So, we’ve come full-circle: We read the Bible each morning to help us tune in to Jesus’ voice that is within us. It’s that still, small voice, the voice of the Spirit of Jesus saying, “Do you trust Me? Take my hand and let’s walk together today. Tomorrow, we’ll do the same.”

Abba, I trust You. I want to walk with You. Please walk slowly enough for me to stay in step with You. I, personally, don’t think that any of us ever get out of the nursery spiritually, so You’re liable to have to carry me sometimes–often! With the faith of a small child, I trust You implicitly. I love You, Abba. Thank You for loving me. Amen.

Proverbs 27 8-27-21

Our outlook concerning others determines how we treat them. Christ has a specific way He wants us to view each other.

3 Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but a fool’s provocation [when we let people anger or irritate us] is heavier than both.
5 Better is open rebuke [by a loved one] than hidden love [when loved ones shield us from the truth about ourselves].
6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses [tells us what we want to hear rather than what we need to hear].

How are we to regard each other? Are we brothers and sisters in Christ (Romans 8:29)? Are we to spur each other on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24)? Yes, but it’s more than that. Let’s read 2 Corinthians 5:17,

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

We are all new creations in Christ. We are not like we were. Each of us is now growing in godliness according to the amount of trust we have in the Holy Spirit as He works in our lives. We must not regard each other as we were before Christ. That person is dead. We are all now part of the Body of Christ, the Bride of the Bridegroom, the Building of God.

Let’s look at the three previous verse 16:

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.

Verse 16 tells us not to regard anyone from a worldly point of view, which means that even sinners hold eternal value. That value is the price Christ paid on the cross for each one of them. We need to begin looking at them as potential brothers and sisters in Christ rather than as heathens and “pieces of trash.” That attitude holds contempt for the ones for whom Christ died!

How should we live? For that answer, let’s go back two more verses:

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

If we live for Christ, then we live to win those who are lost in sin. We accomplish this feat by being obedient to the Holy Spirit as He leads us. HE will lead us where to go; HE will tell us what to do; HE will put the words in our mouths. If we are following Christ, then we don’t need people telling us what God’s will is (including people who tell us that we need to be telling people about Jesus and witnessing on street corners; that job is reserved for those He calls to do that specific task). We live our lives for Christ to reach the one that He has lined up for us. It may be our child, our sibling, our neighbor, our friend; it’s usually someone with whom we have a relationship. As we grow more mature in Christ, He leads us into new relationships for His sake and His glory. Did you catch Who does the leading? Christ does!

Let’s quit guilting each other into being something we are not. What we ARE is followers of Jesus Christ. HE will “work in us what is pleasing to Him” (Hebrews 13:21). Let’s see people as Christ sees people. WE ALL NEED JESUS!

Abba, I only want to go where You lead me, when You lead me, do what You want me to do, and say what You want me to say. I don’t need to do anything FOR You, just WITH You. It’s the whole point of our relationship. Keep me by Your side, Lord. It’s the highest and safest place I can be. Amen.

Proverbs 27 7-27-21

In order to share the Gospel, we must understand the Gospel. Jesus doesn’t give us salvation; He IS salvation.

6 Wounds [hard truth given] from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses [tells us only what we want to hear rather than what we need to hear].

Salvation boils down to our life before Christ, Christ, and life with Christ. The character of Mary Magdalene on “The Chosen” said, “I was one way before; now I am completely different, and the only thing in between was Him.”

Here is a quick breakdown of what Christ accomplishes in our lives:

  1. Salvation– freedom from the prison of sin. Jesus kills us (we were under the law), buries us (those who are dead are freed from the law; see Romans 6:6), and then resurrects us to new life in Him, with Him.
  2. Sanctification– freedom from the power of sin. The desire to sin does not abate, but it is overcome by a greater desire to please our heavenly Father.
  3. Glorification– freedom from the purpose of sin, which is to kill us. When Jesus comes to live in our hearts and raises us up to new life, we begin our tour of eternity. We are born into the kingdom of heaven! When our time on earth is over, we simply step out of these bodies and into glorious new bodies, imperishable ones, immortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). Our salvation will be complete.

Living with Jesus is an adventure, especially when we allow Him to have the lead. Let’s just not forget our destination, which is to be at His throne forever. Chill, enjoy life, tell others about Jesus, and then go home to be with Him at His place. The Christian life really is that simple.

Abba, keeping things simple makes life simple. Help me to keep focused on You, listening to You, and obeying all that You say. I know that You have my best interest at heart, so I can trust You. Lead on, my King. Amen.

Proverbs 27 6-27-21

The rich young ruler went away sad because he was very rich. How would answer Jesus if He asked you to give everything away? (Mark 10:17-22)

1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. NIV

21 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold [to separate the impurities of the metal],
And each is tested by the praise [life] given to him [and his response to it, whether humble or proud].
AMP

Dying to self and living for Christ (with Christ) means that whatever I enjoy, whatever I like, even what I value is secondary to what Christ asks of me. In other words, if Christ asks me to not watch a particular tv show again, I won’t; if Christ asks me to give up certain foods or drink, I will; if Christ asks me to give away anything I own, I will. He sets my values, changes my preferences, and transforms that which gives me joy. It’s what being conformed to the image of Christ is all about.

I have several favorite verses that remind me of my priority. Here they are:

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:29

18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18

19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, Galatians 4:19

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:9-10

17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because in this world we are like Jesus. 1 John 4:17

If these verses are true, then every moment I live is subject to the Master’s hand. Am I really willing to give up my life as I know it if He asks me to? Can I give up Sci-Fy and video games, ice cream and cokes? Can I really give my stuff away to people who could use it more than I? Do I really need a whole bunch of money saved up in order to feel secure? So far, the Lord has only asked me to consider letting go of a few things, but if I’m really wanting to see revival in our church and our land, I need to up my game on getting serious about following Him.

As we worship this morning, remembering that we are responding to His call to meet with the family of God, may we consider the question, “What am I willing to give up for Christ?” If revival could start if we got serious about following Him, what might it cost? Would we be willing to pay it? Good questions for a Sunday morning, right?

Abba, as we meet together, may we see each other with new eyes. May we see in each person the potential of being the catalyst for revival. Also, may we see in ourselves Your potential to begin moving in people’s hearts. Our willingness to change may be the spark that You use to start the fire of revival in our land. May it be so, Lord Jesus! Amen.

Proverbs 27 5-27-21

“Grace so amazing is with us each day; for this great love I could never repay…” We are free to love God because of His grace.

19 As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart [Jesus’ life reflects God’s love for us].

Continuing our journey into worship, we have looked at Recognition of God’s Character (Adoration), Acknowledgement of Our Character (Confession) and today we delve into Affirmation of Grace in Christ (Assurance).

Lee Strobel wrote, “Justice is getting what you deserve (punishment). Mercy is not getting what you deserve (no punishment). Grace is getting what you don’t deserve (salvation).” It may not be original with him, but he pegged it with the added definitions. The grace of God is giving us Jesus Christ as the propitiation (substitute) for our sin debt. There’s a song that was popular in the 80’s that goes,

He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay,
I needed someone to wash my sins away;
And now I sing a brand new song, “Amazing Grace,” all day long,
Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.

When we sing Christmas carols about His birth, we celebrate His sacrifice of the glory of heaven for us. When we sing about the blood of Jesus, we celebrate the sacrifice of His life for us. When we sing about His resurrection, we celebrate the new life we have in Christ. When we sing of heaven, we celebrate our future with Him in glory. When we read any of these passages in Scripture, call them in prayer, and allow them to be the foundation of our lives, we celebrate Christ in us. When we do it together, we call it “church.”

The message of grace is summed up very succinctly in the song, “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High,”

You came from heaven to earth to show the way,
From the earth to the cross my debt to pay,
From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky,
Lord, I lift Your name on high.

May we never forget His great sacrifice so that we could be born again AND adopted in the family of God. Bill and Gloria (Gaither) got it right:

I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God,
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood;
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I’m part of the family, the family of God.

I pray that one of these songs will come to mind today as we ponder and meditate on the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Abba, thank You that people take scriptural truths and put them to music. They become ingrained in our minds and hearts, which is a good thing. Drive deep within us Your message of grace, O Lord. You don’t need us, but You want us. Why? Because You love us. May we love You with all our hearts, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 27 4-27-21

Who we are on the inside shows up on the outside. People know when we are faking it. Let’s be genuine Christians.

19 As in water, face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.

Perception can be a powerful ally or adversary. Christians don’t want to be fake, but want to allow Christ to shine through us. We must leave others’ perception of us to Him. One of the greatest characteristics of a child of God is graciousness, or, grace. When we show grace to people, we allow that grace to run through our minds and then out of our mouths. Grace must come from the Holy Spirit within us; we say that it must come from our hearts. If Christ is in control of our hearts, then we will be gracious. Thus, if our hearts are full of grace, then people see that we are genuine Christians. Consider these two verses.

22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. Luke 4:22

Let your conversation be always full of grace [be gracious], seasoned with salt [biblical truth and wisdom], so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

I read these two verses every morning to remind myself that Jesus was gracious in His speech, therefore, I am to be gracious in my speech, which means that caustic remarks, cutting comments, and derogatory speech are not allowed. I am to take those thoughts captive to Christ. In fact, with the power of the Spirit, I can take strongholds of hateful speech and demolish them:

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

Habits feel real, but they are really just what we are used to. A habit takes about three weeks to establish. If we are serious about letting our lights shine for Christ in the world around us, then we must demolish the stronghold of a hateful tongue and allow the Spirit to give us gracious speech, which starts with our thoughts. When a hateful thought comes to mind, run it up to the throne of Jesus and say, “Here, Lord, please take this thought and get rid of it for me. Now, give me one that You want me to have. I praise You and thank You, Lord.” This process will feel awkward at first, then hopeless, but if we stay with it, we will overcome our habit and create a new one, one that brings joy and gladness to us, and glory and honor to our Lord.

I pray that you will read these verses every morning, too, and allow the Spirit to change your speech to His speech.

Abba, I know that a gentle and gracious tongue is a tree of life to those around me. I also know that a cruel, vicious, sarcastic, biting, acid, and bitter tongue crushes the spirit of its victims (Proverbs 15:4). Please train me to think like You because I know if I can think like You, then I will be able to control my tongue. Only with the partnership of Your Spirit do I stand any chance of success. Continue to conform me to the image of Your Son, Abba. I want to be just like Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 27 3-27-21

Serving Jesus is wrapped up in one word, “Whatever.” Why would we be selective in serving?

3 Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but provocation by a fool [he who refuses to submit to authority] is heavier than both.

The religious rulers wanted to serve God their way. When Jesus tried to correct them, they resisted—big time! Twice the powers that be tried to trick Jesus. Twice He turned the tables on them. Jesus was all about changing the way people were thinking about the law, God, and heaven. Let’s look at the Pharisees’ trap first:

Paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar

1Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

  1. The intent was obvious to everyone: The Pharisees and the Herodians wanted Jesus out of the way.
  2. They first appealed to His integrity. They assumed that Jesus would tell the truth. They thought they had Him–little did they know…
  3. The imperial tax was “A special tax levied on subject peoples, not on Roman citizens.” The Jews hated having to pay this tax on top of the regular Roman tax, the temple tax, and their own national tax as well as special taxes imposed by Rome.
  4. They asked for a judgement call from Jesus on this tax. To say, “No, it is wrong,” would have put Him in hot water with the Roman government; to say, “Yes, we need to pay it,” would have put Him at odds with the people.
  5. Jesus knew their minds and the intent of their hearts. He called for a denarius to be brought to Him. We have to assume that one of the Pharisees brought Him the coin. The problem is that it had a picture of Caesar on it as well as the inscription “The Divine Caesar.” It was an idol–and they had brought it into the temple area (see 21:23). Busted!!!
  6. Jesus didn’t call them on the coin. Instead, He specified that we are to give to Caesar what He asks for as leader of Rome and to give to God what God asks of us as Lord of our lives. It’s a valid word for today.
  7. Exit—embarrassed—stage right…

Then, the Sadducees came to trick Jesus with this story:

Marriage at the Resurrection

23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.

  1. The story they told Jesus was based upon Deuteronomy 25:5-6 and was a valid point that was taken to the extreme.
  2. Jesus made a public statement concerning their knowledge of Scripture–or the lack thereof–and the power of God. He schooled them!
  3. Our glorified bodies will be beyond just physical bodies. Our physique and the way it works will not be what we know. Marriage will not be needed. Our intimate knowledge of everyone far outshines the intimacy involved in marriage. Neither will there be any need to procreate. I wish I knew what He meant by “they will be like the angels in heaven.” I can assume that our physical needs and desires will give way to heavenly ones.
  4. Jesus then brought it all home to a correct interpretation of Scripture. He quoted Exodus 3:6 to them. Then He interpreted it for them, “He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” Boom. Mic drop.
  5. The crowds were astonished. The Sadducees were surely embarrassed if not downright ashamed. The gauntlet had been thrown down.

They tried again one more time, but we will have to wait until tomorrow. For today, let’s allow God to interpret Scripture for us. When we read a verse or passage, let’s ask Him to tell us what it means and how to apply it. He may not answer right away, but soon that answer will dawn on us as He shows us. He’s like that.

Abba, may You be my light, my knowledge, my wisdom, my discernment, my understanding, my discretion, and my prudence concerning Your Word. May I heed every instruction that comes from Your lips to my ears. Amen.

Proverbs 27 2-27-21

Whether in blood or in Christ, family is important. Our greatest joys come from our closest relationships.

11 Be wise, my child, and bring joy to my heart; then [you and] I can answer anyone who treats [you or] me with contempt.

The method of prayer we use is not nearly as important as the connection we make with the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit. In fact, it is through Christ that we connect with Christians all over the world beginning with those whom we know personally. From Robin’s brainstorm page:

Why do we pray? (continued)

  • To connect with others in the body of Christ (all over the world) through the Spirit as we seek to align with and reveal God’s authority, power, and His perfect will.
  • To receive assurance of God’s unfailing love and mercy and His faithfulness to “complete the good work He began in you” (Philippians 1:6).
  • For us to understand and proclaim that God is good no matter His answer (Yes, No, Wait).

God does not play favorites with His children, but has a special and perfect plan for us in His will. It may not be as specific as we might think. If His will is to create new thoughts, new glory, new acts of praise, and a new person, then there are variables involved in His will. Does He know how everything will turn out? Sure. He’s Omniscient. But, He’s also Omni-present, which means that He is always NOW. His name is I Am. He lives in this moment with us! His question to us is, “Will you trust Me?”

Isaiah knew what it meant to have a personal, ongoing relationship with the LORD. In His book, we find this exhortation,

Come now, let us reason together,” 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. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 1:18-19

With God, it’s all about the relationship. This letter was written down 600+ years before Christ came. It’s always been about the relationship. What did it take to be in a relationship with God?

Wash and make yourselves clean [in the blood of Christ]. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. 17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:16-17

As we can see, to be in right relationship with Christ was the same for them as it is for us. We wash in the blood of Jesus; we stop doing evil (selfish, self-centered) deeds and learn to do righteous acts (according to the Spirit’s leading). The LORD even gave some examples. Notice that all three examples have to do with protection. The responsibility we have for God’s children is much greater than our own lives. Again, it’s all about relationship with the Lord and with our fellow brothers and sisters AND potential brothers and sisters.

As we pray today, let’s lift up those around us to the Father and seek ways to minister to them. It’s important to Him, therefore, it needs to be important to us.

Abba, I pray for the Peppers and thank You for their hospitality these past two days. May You bless them in their walk with You. Bless them in their relationships with their family and with whom they come in contact. May You spread the aroma of Christ through them. May Your protection be on Cody as he serves You in Washington, and on Erin and Joe, Rylee and Kinlee as they grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Thank You, Lord, for extended family. Amen.

Proverbs 27 1-27-21

The old hymn says, “Moment by moment I’m kept in His love.” We are! Do you see yourself as kept in His love?

1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

Time is an interesting thing. To live in either the past or the future robs a person of living in the moment. It’s not that we cannot enjoy the past as we look back on it (or rue it, depending upon our prior choices), nor is it that we should not plan for the future. It’s just that we live each moment as it comes, therefore this moment is where our attention needs to be.

How does staying focused on the moment help us spiritually? First we must consider that Jesus lives in the moment with us. Note His use of God’s name from Exodus 3:14 in John 8:58 and 18:5,

58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”

They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He *said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. Now then, when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

Three characteristics of God are His omnipotence (all-power), His omniscience (all-knowing), and His omnipresence (He is everywhere at all times). God is always ever-present, which is right where we live. So, if God comes to live in us, and He is ever-present, then He interacts with us in this moment. I cannot stress the import of this statement.

  1. God does not look at our past and judge us by it. He judges us on what we decide right now.
  2. God does not look at our future and condemn us for it. He judges us on what we do right now (which may change the outcome).
  3. His Spirit is constantly asking us to choose His way. He does not grow weary of asking; the here-and-now is where He lives, never tiring of being with us because He loves us!

I have been asked if God is ever disappointed with us. The answer is decidedly no. He knows our every failure and tendency; He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. Now, He lives in us urging us to be like Him. He knows that every struggle squeezes the coal and moves it to become a diamond. That is what we are: Diamonds in the rough. What we learn as we walk in step with the Spirit is to yield, submit, and die to our own desires and self-centered way of thinking. We cannot be 100% committed all the time, but we can be 100% committed at the moment. Put enough moments together, and voila’: the victorious Christian life.

In the letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus tells them their past, where they are in relation to Him in the present, and then their future based upon their choices. He then tells them what they can expect if they are successful in following His commands.

  • If the church in Ephesus would repent and return to their first Love (Christ), then they would be given the right to eat from the tree of life (Revelation 2:1-7).
  • If the church in Smyrna would be faithful during persecution, then they would receive the victor’s crown and not be hurt at all by the second death (Revelation 2:8-11).
  • If the church in Pergamum would repent from the teaching of Balaam and of the Nicolaitans, they would be given some of the hidden manna and a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it (Revelation 2:12-17).
  • If the church in Thyatira would repent of the teaching of Jezebel and hold onto what they have until He comes, they would be given authority over the nations and receive the morning star (Revelation 2:18-29).
  • If the church in Sardis would wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die, they will walk with the Lord, dressed in white, for they would be worthy. They will never have their name blotted out of the book of life, and He will acknowledge their name before His Father and His angels (Revelation 3:1-6).
  • If the church in Philadelphia would continue to keep His command and endure patiently, they would be kept from the hour of trial and be made a pillar in the new temple of His God in the new Jerusalem. He would write on them His new name (Revelation 3:7-13).
  • If the church in Laodicea would realize how wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked they were and repent, then they would have sweet fellowship with Jesus Christ and would sit next to Him on His throne [don’t ask me how we all could sit with Him–it’s a BIG throne!] (Revelation 3:14-22).

Jesus gives us the same offer. He tells us of our past–not in a condemning way, but simply speaking the truth–and then tells us what to do to change the future that is ahead of us if we continue on the present path. Then He tells us the good things that He has planned for us if we are faithful, trusting Him enough to obey Him. We can trust Him, and in that trust we learn to love Him as He loves us. In that love there is no fear (1 John 4:18). We have moved from judgment to celebration!

Abba, may You continue to chisel away at our unwillingness to believe You when You say that You love us. I know that there is no standing before You and giving an account of every deed–that’s already been paid for and done away with for Your children! What we have to look forward to when we stand before You is the right to eat from the tree of life, a victor’s crown, manna and a new name, authority to rule with Him, a robe of white, to be a pillar in the house of God and fellowship with Him forever. Now THAT’S a future I can get excited about! May our lives and even our deaths bring glory and honor to You, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 27 12-27-20

Christianity is not so much about being LIKE Jesus as it is being WITH Jesus. We allow Jesus to live in and through us!

19 As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the [His] heart.

We are PRISMS. Prisms don’t generate any light of their own; they take light that is being shone into them and make it beautiful. Jesus is the LIGHT. In allowing His light to shine in and through us, we become His light to the world. We hide that light when we quit believing that He loves us and wants to work with us as PARTNERS. Yes, He is the Lead Partner, but we are partners with Him, nonetheless. We’re family!

For instance, if we quit believing that He loves us as we are, then we begin to fear His retribution for our failures to “measure up.” We read His Word for rules to follow and for a certain way to be that will be pleasing to Him. We don’t want to “disappoint Him.” The problem is that He ALREADY loves us and is pleased with us. He is ENJOYING living life with and through us. We do not need to fear His retribution; Jesus took it to the cross for us. To think that He will punish us is to deny Christ’s finished work on the cross! I am not saying that there are not consequences to our ungodly actions, but I AM saying that we no longer need to fear God’s wrath. Neither do we need to fear disappointing Him. He knows our weaknesses–He knows our FUTURE! He even knows how many times we will get things wrong before getting them right. Guess what: He rejoices in the time we WILL get them right! Until then, we are under His tutelage by way of the Holy Spirit, who is the epitome of love, joy and peace, patience, kindness, and goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness, and He has COMPLETE self-control (He is GOD, you know).

John said it like this:

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:13-19

Let’s see,

  1. We know we live in Him and He in us by knowing His Spirit who is in us.
  2. John testifies to the fact that Jesus is who He says He is and did what He said He would do.
  3. Want God to live in you and you in God? Then acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God; bank on it, depend upon it as if your life depended on it, because it does! Now, ACT on that knowledge.
  4. We are like Jesus because His light shines through us (Ephesians 5:8), therefore, we do not fear judgment.
  5. His love drives out our fear, because fear has to do with punishment. Remember, Jesus took our punishment to the cross!
  6. We spend our lives learning how to acknowledge and accept His perfect love. Our fears are world-generated; His love, joy and peace are heaven-generated. Let’s focus on the heaven-generated ones!
  7. We can love (not fear) because He loved us first. He started it; He will finish it (Philippians 1:6).

If you having trouble believing me or even following me, consider the verses in Colossians that we studied several days ago:

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 GodWhen Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4

We are dead to this world, therefore, we cannot fear death. Trust Christ in how we leave our earthly bodies. He has SO MUCH MORE waiting for us! But, let’s not wait until we get THERE to begin experiencing heaven. HEAVEN LIVES IN US NOW! Jesus brings the kingdom of heaven to us when He enters us. So, let’s get started!

Abba, thank You for loving me so much that You came and took my place on the cross. Thank You for putting me to death and raising me to walk in newness of life with You. I look forward to each day learning to love instead of fear, and to “set my mind” on the things of heaven. You get such a kick out of teaching me, and I am glad! Open my mind to heaven; open my heart to You, LORD. I want to know You deeply and intimately. TBC

Proverbs 27 11-27-20

COVID 19 is real! At the same time, we need not fear it. Why? Because our hope and trust are in the LORD!

22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding him like grain with a pestle [mortar and pestle is used grind up pills into powder], you will not remove their folly [fear, knee-jerk reactions] from him.

We can thank COVID 19 for showing us what is in our hearts. All of a sudden, going to church became a liability; singing together became a big deal, and even meeting with family is dangerous! What happens when we must weigh the cost–or potential cost–of what we have done perfunctorily for so long? We find out what is truly important to us.

So, how has your relationship with the LORD fared during the pandemic?

The exiles from Israel to Babylon found themselves in a similar predicament. Everything they had known had been uprooted–including them! Jeremiah sent them a letter giving them instructions on how to not only survive, but to thrive during their exile, which we can liken to our pandemic, especially if we have had to quarantine:

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:4-7

For us, it might be like Jeremiah saying, “Settle down and enjoy the solitude. Submit to your leaders’ admonitions. Don’t worry about getting sick; if you do, I will take care of you. Just don’t be the reason others get sick because of your stubbornness. Seek the peace and prosperity of your city, state, and country. Pray to the Lord for it, because if they prosper, you too will prosper.”

Verses 10-14 include a promise, a plan, a purpose, a provision, and a protection that I think we need to hear:

The Promise: 10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this placeIn God’s time, He WILL RESTORE us as a church and as a family.

The Plan: 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a futureWe can take great comfort in His plans. Just remember that His plans include taking us to be with Him someday.

The Purpose: 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Fellowship, companionship, worship. These are what our God desires! We don’t have to wait to give Him these. All we have to do is turn away from our willfulness and embrace the circumstances. Look for ways to fulfill His purpose. Virtual church, house church, private worship time, etc.

The Provision: 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heartThis verse is the “how to” of the passage. Are we seeking His face with all our hearts? Are we dying to the flesh (our own wills) and deliberately seeking His will alone? Are we choosing to praise Him regardless of our circumstances? We WILL find Him when we seek Him with all our hearts.

The Protection: 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivityI will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” God has this. We don’t have to worry. Even if we are never the same: Social distancing may become a permanent part of our society; masks may be a permanent requirement in certain places; testing may become an in-home regular thing. So what? How does that change His Promise? His Plan? His Purpose? His Provision or His Protection? It Doesn’t!

Let’s keep the main thing the main thing. Exalting our Savior, whether in life or in death, is what attracts those who are interested to Him. They are looking for something beyond COVID. Let’s give “it” to them. Let’s show them Jesus!

Abba, may You be exalted during this time of stress and uncertainty. May we rest in Your Promise, Your Plan, Your Purpose, Your Provision and Your Protection–not from the virus, but from the fear that comes with the virus. Three times in Luke 12 I read today, “Do not be afraid.” I take great comfort in those words! May my confidence be in You and You alone, O LORD. Amen.

‘Tis the season: We Three Kings-COVID version

Proverbs 27 10-27-20

Want to know God’s will for your life today? Open His Word and spend time with Him. That IS His will!

5 Better is open rebuke than hidden love. God’s love is hidden in His Word. Let’s find it!

6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. We can trust the Spirit to “wound us” to make us better. “The word of God is a scalpel…” (Hebrews 4:12), and He uses it to remove sin and grossness from our lives.

7 One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet. Even God’s reprimand tastes sweet when we are hungry for His presence and company in our lives. We KNOW it’s for our own good.

9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from His heartfelt advice and counsel. This verse particularly applies to our LORD. He brings joy to our hearts, and His counsel is pleasant to our souls.

If God does not cause our circumstances, He at least allows them. His intention is to draw us to Himself. He knows what kinds of things are needed in our lives to get us to look to Him, to come to Him and allow Him to care for us and fellowship with us. We must remember that as His sheep, His first responsibility is not our happiness, but our safety. In His presence is the safest place I know!

Let’s spend time with Him this morning–especially if you are home due to weather–in His Word. If you have internet, use a lexicon to look up meanings of words. Tie verses together (string pearls). I tied two verses together this morning: Matthew 3:10 and Mark 11:20. Look them up and give me your assessment.

Abba, as always, You call us to Your throne where we receive mercy and grace for this hour. May we acknowledge Your continuing presence in our minds and hearts today. Thank You for being our Good Shepherd. Amen.

Proverbs 27 9-27-20

I am convinced that the going and making disciples is about involving ourselves with people in their lives. We earn the right to speak to them about Christ by the lives we live.

2 Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; another, and not your own lips. In other words, we cannot speak our own moral authority; it must be granted by the people around us.

6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. A person has to know he can trust you before he will trust your message.

Our commission is found in Matthew 28:18-20. Here it is in the Amplified Version for clarity:

18 Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Go therefore [as you go,] and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words]baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.”

I recommend the following:

  1. Learn the names of your neighbors and their families. Call them by name as you see them.
  2. When you talk to them, ask questions and listen to their stories. Usually, they will ask questions of you, but not always. Some people learn by watching our facial expressions and body responses to what they are saying or while they are talking. For instance, they are watching to see if we are just listening until we get a chance to talk or if we’re really interested. They can tell by our fidgeting when we are ready to go.
  3. Try not to listen to any gossip (conversation that is none of our business); if you do, try to turn it with a reasonable excuse. At the least, mention that you will pray for that person that things will turn around for the subject of the gossip.
  4. Don’t let too long go between visits (my dilemma). People enter and exit seasons of their lives; they associate us with those seasons. If they associate us with a past season, then we must begin again building trust.
  5. Share the Gospel in chunks. Pick a relevant topic and share what Jesus has done for you in that area. Leave the whole package for a Divine Appointment: When they come asking.

Jesus did this again and again in people’s lives: Nicodemus, Nathaniel, Bartimaeus, to name a few. Let’s be diligent to pray for our neighbors and look for opportunities to share what Christ is doing in our lives. The Holy Spirit will move when the time is right. Trust Him even as you are earning the trust of your neighbors.

Abba, You have called us to be salt and light in this world. We are Your ambassadors. Are we doing a good job? Do we even care? What about calling us to places where people need the Gospel–wait, that would mean that we are missionaries…we ARE! We’ve even been commissioned! LORD, call us out of our comfort and into Your ministry. I will look for You to do it in my life this week. Amen.

 

Proverbs 27 8-27-20

God desires a personal, ongoing relationship with us. Do we really think that He would let us go? He loves us too much!

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

This pleasantness is what Jesus brings to the relationship. His “heartfelt advice” is spot-on every time. He brings JOY to our hearts! We are His and He is ours. God gave us to Him. How can God give us to Jesus? As we come to God through Jesus, we place ourselves in His hands. We are, then, His to do with as He pleases. It just so happens that He pleases to give us to Jesus.

If anyone knew what Jesus meant by His words, “Those My Father has given me,” it was John. He walked with Jesus for 3 1/2 years and was part of Jesus’s inner circle. He met with Jesus after His resurrection and even got to see Jesus ascend into heaven! He was part of the birth of the Church when the Holy Spirit came and indwelt the disciples. He was friends with Steven, the first martyr, Barnabas, and Paul later on. He pastored the church at Ephesians up until he was banished to Patmos.

Let’s look at what John had to say about this phrase:

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

Jesus was talking about those who believed in Him, which many Jews didn’t (see verses 23-25). If Jesus holds us and the Father holds us, then that’s a divine double-fisted grip! Ain’t nobody gonna break that grip! This is not the only place that Jesus refers to His disciples as the ones the Father gave Him,

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. John 17:6

The idea of “once saved, always saved” didn’t originate with Baptists. The idea was stated by Jesus Himself. Once we belong to Jesus, there is no getting out of His grip. If a person were to want to, it really proves that he never really belonged to Jesus. Again, it is John who explains why:

19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. 1 John 2:19

Those who come to Jesus are GRATEFUL. They have passed from death to life (John 5:24). They have experienced the joy and peace and love of the Father. They are reborn and made new! There is NO WAY that a person would turn from all he receives from the Father UNLESS there is secret sin tucked away in his heart that he is unwilling to give up. Most likely, it’s the simple fact that he wants to be the ruler of his own life, the captain of his own ship, and the caller of his own shots. In other words, he never really repented.

As for God predetermining who gets saved, John says this:

11 He came to that which was his own [the Jews], but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:11-12

Did you catch the word, “all?” It’s kinda important. It refers to every person who believes and receives. The fact that the phrase, “Jesus died once for all,” is used 6 times in some form in Romans and Hebrews should be enough for us to believe that even though God foreknows everything, He does not choose for us. It is this ability to choose that He gave mankind when He created us (Genesis 1:27).

If we are not experiencing the love, joy, and peace of God, then something’s wrong. These fruit of the Spirit are given to us by God and we enjoy them regardless of our circumstances. How? By spending time with Him, by acknowledging His presence in our lives as well as His Lordship. By calling out to Him and seeking Him in His Word, we avail ourselves to Him for fellowship and we accept His leadership in our lives. Have we done this? Are we doing this?

Let’s carve out time in our schedules for God, to read His Word, and to enjoy sweet fellowship with Him in prayer. Our spiritual lives depend on it!

Abba, You know I want more of You. I would love to spend more time with You in prayer and Bible study, but the cares and worries of this world–my job, my family, my house/yard, my cars/bikes, etc.–tend to take precedence. I hate the tyranny of the urgent! Help me to do “the balancing act” of keeping all the plates in my life spinning without neglecting You. Thank You for walking with me through the day. Our conversation as we go helps tremendously in how I respond to others, see needs, and do my job well. May I depend upon You more and more, Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Proverbs 27 7-27-20

The child of God wants to read the Word of God. It’s our love letter from Daddy (Abba).

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

Jesus is our Friend (John 15:14-15). In our lives, we might run into this problem: Jesus is trying to speak to you, but you’re not hearing Him. Why not? Probably because you and He aren’t connected. Let’s consider the Bible our “telephone” to God, and even though His Spirit is within us, God is still on His throne. Our connection with God is His Word and it is translated by the Holy Spirit. It’s why a non-Christian cannot read the Bible and understand it. He has no Spirit to interpret.

14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14

Our Daily Process

16″But we have the mind of Christ.” The Spirit of Christ who lives inside us tells us what God says, interprets for us, and gives us understanding. He then gives us the desire and the power to be obedient. In the process, we are molded into the image of Christ. We take on His character.

The first thing the Spirit does is show us the enormity of what Christ did for us when He forgave us of our sins and washed them away. We become grateful.

Then He shows us what He is doing for us now even as we routinely experience His love, joy and peace. We become thankful.

After that, He begins the slow and thorough work of drawing out our deepest darkness by shining His light where we don’t necessarily want Him to shine it. We become thoughtful, compliant, and compassionate as we realize the debt we owe Him and that He wants to save others, as well. We WANT to be involved in the saving of others. It’s important to Him, so it becomes important to us.

Today, if you don’t have a regular reading schedule or plan, read any or all of these passages:  John 3:16-21, Titus 2:11-14, Ephesians 2:1-10. They will confirm, illustrate, and explain His plan for you.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will want to step into Your light and allow You to cleanse them and purify them. I pray that they will be eager to do what is right according to Your leadership in their lives. I ask that they grasp the depths of their sin, the glorious salvation in You, and their position in Christ. We, as new creations, are Your masterpiece, O LORD! WOW! May we spend today and the rest of eternity pondering this truth. Amen.

 

 

Proverbs 27 6-27-20

What great love the Father has for us! We can’t help but obey Him. His Spirit within us compels us to follow Him!

One who is full loathes honey from the comb,
    but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.

When we are full of ourselves, we don’t crave the things of God. When we are empty of ourselves, then even His discipline seems sweet to us! Why? Because the very interaction of His Spirit with us is worth more than anything this world has to offer!!!

One of the telltale signs that a person is a follower of Jesus Christ is that they do what Jesus says. They have an ongoing and personal relationship with Him and are interested in doing things His way, in His time, and WITH Him. Their enthusiasm to be obedient and their joy that comes from being in His presence is obvious. Does this person describe you? It can! All we have to do is believe and act on these verses:

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

What can we learn from these verses?

  1. God loves us lavishly. Even as we are! We have worth because He deems us worthy.
  2. We are His children! We have been bought back, adopted, never to be lost again.
  3. Those in the world don’t know Him. Let’s introduce them to Him!
  4. WE WILL BE LIKE CHRIST! What a promise!
  5. Let’s keep ourselves pure just as He is pure. He’ll help us!

Salvation Test #7 is found in 3:6, “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to [in] sin has either seen him or known him.”

Test #7 Does sinning bother you,
knowing it hurts your fellowship with the Father?

The key is if there is conviction of sin. If there is no conviction, then the Holy Spirit is not present. If He is not present, then there is no salvation. One of my favorite life verses is Hebrews 12:11, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” “Even what is bitter tastes sweet” falls right into this verse!

Verse nine sets us up for Salvation Test #8No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed [Spirit] remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right [habitually and without conviction] is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

Test #8 Do you have conviction of the Spirit when you sin, particularly when it comes to your relationship with your brothers and sisters in Christ?

The blessing of God is NOT material blessings, although He makes sure we have what we need to do His will.
The BLESSING of God is His Presence with us.
                                               Immanuel: God With Us
The HOPE of God is what He has in store for us.

Let’s not forget verse two where John reminds us that Christ is coming back. This promise is our hope. What happens if we die before He comes back? Paul teaches that we go to be with Him where He is: Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:8). In fact, part of us is already seated with Him in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6).

I want us to end today with an explanation of our relationship with Jesus as given by Peter, the leader of the disciples who walked with Jesus:

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Keep reading His Word. It’s where I found all of these gold nuggets! His Spirit confirms each one of them in my heart. How about you?

Abba, I pray that my readers will read these verses for themselves and allow You to speak to them, confirming the truths of Your Word in their hearts. Fill them with that inexpressible and glorious joy of which Peter speaks. Your love compels me to honor You with obedience. Getting more of You makes me want more of You! It’s a delicious cycle. Fill me, LORD, to the top. Amen.

Proverbs 27 5-27-20

We’re on #3 of the:

Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say

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

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

Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?

John 16:12-15 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

Jesus was about to rock the disciples’ world–as if He already hadn’t–which is what makes today’s Proverbs verse so poignant:

27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

The disciples were about to have a really bad night and even worse few days as Jesus would be arrested, tried, sentenced, and crucified. But, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit, which did come 50 days after His resurrection on Pentecost–which, by the way, is this Sunday. Be sure to thank the LORD for His indescribable gift! Let’s look at the passage from John:

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” Jesus knows how much we can absorb at one time. He would never overdose us on revelation. In fact, we should be more concerned about “under-dosing” on revelation. Most times, we are not interested in learning something new. Why? Because it requires getting out of our comfort zone. It may cause pain or at least discomfort. And effort. Yet, if we want to be like Jesus, the Holy Spirit has a whopping job ahead of Him. We should probably do whatever He wants to do.

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. Let’s take it apart:

  1. He is the Spirit of truth–straight from the Father. We can trust Him. He will never lead us wrong.
  2. He will guide us into all truth. There is nothing dressed up or spun to look better than it is. It is the unvarnished truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, which is the only way to be able to deal accurately and effectively with circumstances or situations.
  3. He speaks only what He hears…from whom? Jesus said it was from Him that the Spirit receives what to give to us. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. We can trust the Spirit to give us the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). Want to know what Christ thinks about any given subject? Ask the Spirit. He will tell you. But, be ready to act on whatever He tells you, because He never reveals something just for knowledge sake; it’s for awareness and action.
  4. The Spirit will prepare us for what is coming in our lives–if we will listen. We get so caught up in living for the moment that we forget that things NEVER stay the same for very long. Christ is always preparing us for the next step, the next season in our lives, and He speaks to us through His Spirit. Let’s be ready.

15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” Only the Son can claim His Father’s stuff. We can only imagine to what Jesus was referring. His power? His dominion? His omniscience? His glory? All of the above? Yet, in the next 24 hours of he passage, He would die on a cross for us. Now THAT’S love! This verse is the closest one to a Trinity verse that I know. Jesus = the Father = the Holy Spirit. They are three-in-one. Don’t ask me to explain it. We may understand when we get to heaven and see all three in person. Until then, we just take it on faith to be true.

Here’s the point: The Father wants us to learn from His Son, who wants to teach us through His Spirit, the One who lives inside us and with us. Since He never sleeps, He is constantly communicating with us His love, His peace, His joy, as well as hope, grace, revelations from His Word, snippets of the future, insights about people, events, and circumstances, and the approach of the enemy. He even sings over us in our sleep! See Job 35:10

Let’s do the prep work. Let’s read our Bibles with the intention of giving the Spirit as much to work with in our minds as we can. Let’s stay in constant contact with Him throughout the day as we listen for His instruction and direction. Each time we mess up, let’s back up and correct it as He directs. Start with, “I’m sorry. That didn’t come out right. Let me try again…” Each time we correct ourselves, the quicker we will be to catch ourselves the next time we begin to mess up. It doesn’t disappoint God; in fact, He is happy that we learned something! We have become more like Him!!! Everyone rejoices.

One more verse: Romans 10:17 “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” The verse is speaking specifically about salvation, but we can take it a step further in light of our John 16 text. The message we hear are the words of Christ that He has given the Spirit to say to us. These words have their origin in the Father. The more we listen to His voice, the more faith we will have as we discern and obey.

The Spirit has lots to say to His Church, His Bride–us! Are we ready to listen?

Abba, if there’s one thing You have taught me, it’s not to ask, “Why?” but to ask, “What?” “What is it You want me to see, know, and/or do next?” Walking with You is exercise, LORD. May I be up for the task and the challenge. My You give me the strength, stamina, and desire to do Your will today as opportunities come my way. I’m saddled up, LORD. Let’s ride! Amen.

The Great Adventure – Steven Curtis Chapman