Proverbs 28 11-28-20

If you think COVID is a free pass to do what you want, think again. God knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts.

If we feel free from going to church, having a quiet time, and fellowshipping with other believers, then there is something wrong with our relationship with the Father. These are things the Spirit desires and should be creating in us these same desires. We are either rebuffing His attempts or we do not have Him in us. So, which is it? Let’s assume that we all have Him in us, in which case, consider Jesus’ words from Luke 12:

 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

Lest you get the idea that God wants to do us ill-will, we must remember that Christ’s work on the cross had not been completed at the time of this conversation. At the same time, we must consider all of Christ’s words as eternal. So, what can we glean from this passage?

  1. The first thing we can do is look at the previous verse, which speaks of hypocrisy. Jesus wants us to live on the outside what is on the inside. Our heavenly Father knows the difference, so HE is the One we should “fear,” or, be about pleasing. To disregard His desires and design is to NOT fear Him.
  2. Secondly, we must consider what our heavenly Father really thinks of us. Jesus told us in verses 6-7 and 24: We are worth more than many sparrows. In fact, He considers us priceless. How do I know? Because our worth is based upon what He was willing to pay for us, which was His Son’s life–His own life. THAT’S how much He loves us, so THAT’S how much we are worth!
  3. Third, Jesus tells us in verses 4, 7, and 32 to not be afraid. Wait a minute! Didn’t He just tell us to fear Him who can kill the body and put the soul in hell? Where is the logic in that?! Well, it’s at the end of verse 32, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” What kingdom? His kingdom! It was coming! Bringing the kingdom was the PURPOSE of the CROSS. Through Jesus Christ, we have His kingdom IN us. What is His kingdom? HEAVEN IN US! Jesus came to earth to wrest control away from Satan and to enable us to join Him in His kingdom. One of these days, He will return to bring all things under the unity of Himself (Ephesians 1:9-10).

So, instead of fearing God’s wrath, let’s fear getting outside of the influence and guidance of the Spirit. We need not fear His anger (it is being stored up for those who are unrepentant); we need not fear someone else’s opinion because we base our worth and our faith on the Word of God, and we know that the Word of the Lord stands forever (1 Peter 1:24-25). In fact, let’s not fear at all. Believing the words of Christ drives out all fear (1 John 4:18).

Abba, I believe You. I believe You for salvation, I believe You for eternal life, and I believe that You are in my heart and life transforming me into Your image, which is holy, blameless, spotless, and pure. I believe that You are opening my mind to Your truth; please do so all the more, LORD Jesus! Amen.

Proverbs 28 10-28-20

Our politics should be based upon what we know concerning God, His Will, and His Word.

4 Those who forsake instruction [from God through His Word] praise the wicked, but those who heed it resist them.

The moral compass for our nation is up to us Christians. Those who do not know Christ have no reason (they think) to follow His commands. Actually, the directive of marriage, which is one man with one woman for life, is the safest place for women and for children. It’s also the greatest place for all to enjoy family and fellowship. Any aberration of this directive brings destruction. Why? Because sin destroys us.

Another directive is about life. We are not to take another human’s life without cause (to save another human). The greatest choice a man and woman make is to create another human being. Biologists believe that there are two criteria for a human life: Is it human (23 pairs of chromosomes)? Is it alive (does it ingest food and excrete waste)? If it does both of these, then it’s a human life. From the moment of conception, a fetus has 23 pairs of chromosomes, ingests food and excretes waste. Therefore, life begins at the moment of conception and is protected under Christ’s commands and under our constitution as an inalienable right.

There are moral absolutes that come before all other concerns. I believe that our nation is teetering on the brink of judgment because of our history concerning our moral–or immoral–decisions. Let’s not allow the first part of today’s verse to become true for us. Instead, let those who heed the Word of the LORD resist the wicked (those who disregard Christ’s commands and go their own way, those who call “good” evil and “right” wrong). It’s important for our future and for the future of our children as well as our nation.

Abba, may You guide the hearts of Your children to vote according to Your will and Your way. May we set aside our preferences and even our beliefs concerning certain people and parties and vote according to the directives of Your will and Word. Speak to our hearts, LORD Jesus, speak that our souls may hear. Amen.

Proverbs 28 9-28-20

Knowing God’s plan of salvation helps us know what He’s done for us and helps us share it. It’s more than just forgiveness.

13b The one who confesses and renounces their sins finds mercy.

Yesterday morning in the service, I mentioned the fact that God created the framework of salvation before He created anything pertaining to this world. There were two verses on which I based my statement. They were:

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Ephesians 1:4

All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. Revelation 13:8

I would like to add another, but I want to use the New Living Translation because it comes the closest to the Greek:

16 For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

The difference is in emphasis. “For God so loved the world” places the emphasis on God’s immense love for us, which He has! But, that is not the main emphasis of the verse. The emphasis is on HOW He loved us, which is through Christ and His substitutionary death on the cross for us. As was pointed out to me this morning in Romans 8:29, “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.” Notice the bolded parts. They all are in past tense. Why? Because the deed has already been done! So, when Isaiah had his sins forgiven (Isaiah 6:6-7), it was with the already-shed blood of Jesus Christ.

What does this knowledge do for us? Well, IT MAKES ME GRATEFUL! It also means that the framework for salvation is there for anyone who believes, who places their faith and trust in Christ and His atoning work on the cross. We Westerners tend to stop right there, but Easterners know better. They know that faith and trust are a “buying in” to the Plan, which requires an adoption on our part of Christ’s life, ways, and commands even as He signs our adoption papers.

If a person is not willing to serve Christ,
then He doesn’t really believe Christ.

His plan has always been PLAN A. There’s never been a PLAN B. That’s the kind of love God has for us in Jesus Christ! He Has loved us from the Beginning. As Beth Moore said, “She didn’t need to make promises to God in order to be free. She needed to believe the promises God had made to her.” Chasing Vines pg. 171. True freedom comes when we believe that God has already paid the price for our sin and is waiting on us to come to Him. What are we waiting for?! Let’s run to His arms! As we sang yesterday morning,

Oh, I’m running to Your arms, I’m running to Your arms!
The riches of Your love will always be enough.
Nothing compares to Your embrace;
Light of the world, FOREVER REIGN!

Abba, may we run to Your arms every morning. You offer love and joy and peace; You give us Your security and Your presence. You speak to us in the quiet times and through Your Word. You prepare us for the day, and give us rest at night. You relieve the weight of today’s burdens and remove the worry about the future. I don’t need to know what You are going to do; I just know that You’re in control. I TRUST YOU. Have Your way in me today, LORD. Amen.

 

 

Proverbs 28 8-28-20

Sometimes, we just need a little reminder to get us thinking straight. These articles were poignant for the times.

23 Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue.

We want the truth, don’t we? Then, it’s up to our leaders to share that truth with us, regardless if it hurts our feelings or goes against how we feel. Hance Dilbeck, our Oklahoma Baptist Executive Director–and good friend of our beloved pastor, Bryan Gilbert– and Brian Hobbs, Editor of the Baptist Messenger, had great articles in the Baptist Messenger. Here are synopses of their articles:

Hance Dilbeck
Encourage: Focus on Fundamentals
After giving an anecdote about being unsure about where we are going as church leaders but moving very fast, Hance encourages us from the letters Paul wrote to Timothy. He calls us to slow down and give focus to some fundamentals.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers [lead them on the straight and narrow road].

  1. Set a good example for your people.
  2. Read, teach and preach the Word of God.
  3. Do the work of personal evangelism.

These were good things to hear during this season of social distancing. There is still work to be done, it’s just different work than the ordinary. Maybe it’s one of the ways that God is using Covid 19; we get shaken out of our routines and He points us in new directions for the kingdom’s sake and His glory!

Brian Hobbs
Sword & Trowel: Apocalypse now?
Brian starts out describing an “end times” scenario. The catch is that it was from 1000 A.D. rather than today. He says that a new Lifeway Research poll showed “almost 9 in 10 pastors see at least some current events matching those Jesus said would occur shortly before He returns to earth…” We are, indeed, “closer to the end,” but we must realize that events can be misinterpreted.
Brian states that for some people, “an apocalyptic sense of urgency becomes, not a call to prayer and evangelism; it instead devolves into an excuse for either extreme actions or extreme inaction.”
On extreme action, he calls it “short-term survival mode” where people do things and say things that they would not ordinarily do or say based upon Jesus’ impending return. Regardless if He is coming tomorrow, we NEVER have an excuse to be rude or selfish in our behavior and words. Let’s let Him find us being faithful in word and deed.
On extreme inaction, people use it as an “excuse to avoid the long work of obedience.” We hope for Christ’s imminent return, but plan–and work–like it will be in a thousand years (it was for the first millennials).
He finishes his article with this charge: “Brothers and sisters, whether we are living in the last days or not, we cannot be lulled into inaction or extreme action in a sinful manner. Instead, Christians ought to do what we know to do. Live out the Great Commission and the Great Commandment with love and humility, as we advance the Gospel together. These are the great tasks given to us from Jesus.”

This Sunday, Bryan Gilbert will be giving a synopsis of several views on the Return of Christ. What we need to keep in mind is that they all have one major theme: Christ IS Returning. This theme is our rallying point. Our differences of beliefs concerning interpretations of particular passages CANNOT BE BREACHES OF FELLOWSHIP. Christ will return in His time and in His way regardless of how we believe it will happen. Therefore, it CANNOT be a point of contention among the brethren. We must remember that God hates “a man who stirs up dissension among brothers (Proverbs 6:19).”

We all can rejoice in the hope of His impending Return. In the meantime, let’s do the work He has called us to do so that He finds us faithful when He comes for us individually (in death) or collectively (His Return).

Abba, I look forward to seeing how you do it! I suspect that NONE of us has it exactly right–in fact, I’m counting on it. I KNOW that it will be beyond comprehension!!! In the meantime, LORD, direct me to souls that need encouragement (music), souls that need direction (teaching), and souls that need saving (witnessing). I am Your humble servant. Do with me as You will. Amen.

 

Proverbs 28 7-28-20

Who is it that you seek to please? Yourself or God? Everything we think, say, and do emanates from our answer.

5 Evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully.
14 Blessed is the one who always trembles [lives in a state of awe] before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.
26 Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom [seeing from God’s perspective; it comes from hanging with God] are kept safe.

During the main portion of King David’s life, he lived a life devoted to the LORD. Let’s look at portions of his masterpiece, Psalm 119:

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
    who walk according to the law of the Lord.

It would seem that we are judged by what we do. There is an equation at work here: If our thoughts are pure and holy, then as they pass through our heart, our passion and zeal are amplified, thus culminating in works that bring praise and honor to our LORD. We have pure and holy thoughts when we wash our minds with the water of the Word, when we transform our thinking according to His commands, and when we turn to the Savior for His words to guide us. His Spirit leads us into good works, which are works of obedience. We were never meant to make decisions on our own; the Spirit wants to make those decisions with us. It is His guidance and direction that will make us pure and holy.

Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—
they do no wrong
but follow his ways.

Nothing else can get in the way of our seeking Him. No one else’s opinion matters. Only His. We consider others’ opinions, but we always weigh them against what He is saying to us.

4 You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.

These verses have to do with character. God has listed them, explained them, and illustrated them in the law. David was trying his best to learn them, but his heart kept leading Him astray. Today, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit–and we STILL have trouble steadfastly obeying Jesus!

I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.

Praise the LORD that we don’t have to learn about God through the Old Testament law! We can study it to see where God was going with it all, which was Jesus Christ and His completion of the law by fulfilling in His body the sacrificial system. Now, all of us who have Christ in our hearts as LORD can praise God with an upright heart even as we learn daily more and more about His righteousness and holiness.

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, [which has been] created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would revel in Your grace today, that they would learn to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to say “Yes” to self-controlled (actually, Spirit-controlled), upright and godly lives. May we please You with our submission to Your will and Spirit even as we praise You and bless You with our lives, our mouths, and even our thoughts. Keep us focused on You, LORD. Amen.

proverbs 28 6-28-20

Today’s is different. It’s personal. There is ONE command to keep: Believe Jesus. That’s it. There is nothing else.

1 The wicked flee though no one pursues,
    but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

What we believe makes all the difference in what we fear. When we believe Jesus, we have nothing to fear. In the next chapter, we are going to read, “God is love. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.”  How does that work?

We need to look at what Jesus said, what He did, and what He promised. He said to believe Him (John 10:37-38), and to believe IN Him (John 11:25 is one example).

  1. Jesus is life- Our job is to believe in the one God sent (John 6:29).
  2. Jesus gives life:
    1. To Jairus’ daughter Mark 5:35-37.
    2. To the woman at the well John 4:13-14.
    3. Living water to all who believe in Him John 7:37-38.
  3. He has power over life and death- That He would be killed, but would rise on the third day Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:22-23, Matthew 20:17-19.
  4. His life for our life- Our sins are forgiven because of His sacrifice Luke 24:26-27 (we’ll come back to this one), Acts 2:38, Romans 8:1-2, Hebrews 7:24-25.
  5. In Him we have eternal Life- He is coming back to get us! John 14:1-3, Revelation 22:7, 12.
  6. He commands us to follow Him. Doing whatever. Wherever. Whenever. John 21:22b.

If we believe Jesus, we know that we have passed from death to life 1 John 3:14a. Let’s believe Him when:

  1. We don’t like each other very much.
  2. Our hearts condemn us. (we can’t believe our hearts–it lies to us Jeremiah 17:9).
  3. We get confused on what is important: There is nothing we can do to make Jesus love us more than He does; there is nothing we can do to make Him love us any less than He loves us right now. Do we believe this?

Let’s paraphrase verses 23-24 together:

23 And this is his command: to believe in the name and person of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He loves us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands by continuing to believe what Jesus said and acts on His promises lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us who confirms what Jesus said in our hearts and minds, especially using Scripture.

As we go to church today, let us remember that all we have to do is believe in Jesus enough to act upon what the Spirit is telling us to do, and to believe what He is whispering to us all the time: “I love you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3), “I rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17), “I will keep you from falling–even stumbling–and will present you before My Father’s glorious presence blameless, without fault, and with great joy” (Jude 24). Let’s worship Him with grateful hearts!

Abba, I appreciate Your words of tenderness. I draw encouragement from them. Knowing that You love me and want the best for me makes me love You even more! Even when I fail, You encourage me to get up and try again. You give me RESOLVE, Lord, to try again in Your strength and with Your assistance. May I learn complete dependence on You, O Holy Spirit. Amen.

Proverbs 28 5-28-20

We’re on #4 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?

Why I Believe in Jesus

It’s interesting that today’s topic should fall on a day when I don’t feel all that good. It reminds me once again that my faith in Jesus is not based on feelings, but on fact and experience. Let’s explore the facts:

  1. Jesus was a historical figure. He was a real person who lived in the first century. In fact, our calendar is set according to His birth!
  2. His fulfillment of so many of the Messianic prophecies is enough, from a logical standpoint, to accept His claim as Messiah. Statically, He is a miracle. He fulfilled 30+ prophecies in 24 hours the night before His death and subsequent crucifixion–to say nothing of the ones foretelling His birth, birthplace, timing, His escape to Egypt, His growing up in Nazareth, and many more.
  3. His substitutionary sacrifice was something I learned after I had come to faith in Him. I am supremely grateful that He died in my place and took my sins to the grave. I am also grateful that He rose from the dead and offered me new life through Him.

What drew me to Christ, though, was not logic or history. It was the prospect of having a one-on-one, personal relationship with Him. My temperament is Sanguine (yellow); I am a very social person. Connection is ultra-important to me, and when I learned that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, wanted to be my Friend, I wanted it–greatly!

At six years old, I didn’t do a lot of logical analysis; I just followed what I thought I should do next. I know now that I was following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Even to be saved, He led me in what to do, who to ask (my mom), and how to do it. In effect, my obedience to Him began BEFORE I got saved in order for Him to lead me in how to BE saved.

From that point on, I have felt His presence with me. What does His presence feel like? To me, He feels like the third dimension of my being. He has permanently affixed Himself to me. I never fear Him leaving me; that notion seems impossible. Our minds are joined, as well. I hear/feel His thoughts about me: His love, His encouragement, His joy, His peace, His radiance of the Father, His purity, His strength, His confidence, His zeal, His compassion, and even His patience as He puts up with evil until all of His children are gathered in. These are intuitive feelings and impressions that I get when I turn my awareness toward Him.

Why do I believe in Jesus? Because He’s a major part of me. I can’t imagine life without Him. He has definitely made Himself known to me!  When I read His Word, He points out things, confirms things, and teaches me about Him, His will and plan, and what is coming. He then instructs me on how to live according to what He has revealed. It’s always WITH Him, though. I am never to do anything without Him. He leads me in conversations, in kind acts, in my routine at work, in what we watch on tv, and interacts with me as I write (like right now!).

Why do I believe in Jesus? Because He is who He says He is and is doing what He said He would do. He said that He is God’s Son (God in the flesh, actually), and I believe Him. He said that He would come into my heart, forgive me of all wrongdoing and cleanse me of all unrighteousness, and I believe Him. He said that He would never leave me–more than that, He would lead me with His counsel, teach me, rebuke me, correct me, and train me in His righteousness, and I believe Him. In fact, I just summed up my entire 53 years of walking with Him!

Do you believe in Jesus? If no, then I pray that you will soon. If yes, then I pray that you will come to know Him as I do–even better!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would be encouraged to cling to You as if our lives depended on it, which they do. You are our Rock, our Fortress, our Deliverer; You are in Whom we trust. Increase our faith even as we come to know You and follow You and obey You, LORD. Be real in our lives! Amen.

Proverbs 28 4-28-20

Unless the Spirit of the LORD Jesus lives in our hearts, there is no reason to talk about our desires and actions. They are ALL ungodly. And, if we think that riches are an indication of godliness:

6 Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse.

8 Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.

Wash and make yourselves clan. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. 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

Ephraim [Israel] boasts, “I am very rich; I have become wealthy. With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin.” Hosea 12:8

So righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed [fallow, wild] ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12

So, if wealth and power are not the key to godliness, then what is?

LOVE. GOD’S LOVE.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God lives in them. 1 John 4:16b

In this world we are like Jesus…We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:17b, 19

I see love expressing itself in two ways, affection and compassion. God has both for us. We are to learn to have both, as well.

Affection– fond attachment, devotion, or love: emotion, feeling, sentiment.

Compassion– a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

Jesus had compassion on the people (Matthew 9:36, 15:32, 20:34, Mark 1:41, 6:34, 8:2, Luke 8:2). He had great affection for His disciples (John 13:34-35, 15:15, 17:6-19). We can learn to do the same by following the verses given us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

From HEARING GOD by Peter Lord:

“God is love and it seems that’s the only force He is going to use with us.” Satan wants us to think that God thinks like us. Let’s take a look at the difference:

What God thinks vs. How Satan wants us to believe

God is Patient vs. Impatient-“God is taking too long. You can’t trust His timing.”

God is Kind vs. Merciless-“They don’t deserve kindness. You don’t deserve kindness.”

God is not Envious vs. Envy- “He/she has more ___________ than you.”

God is not Boastful or Proud vs. Self-sufficient and Arrogant- “I don’t need anyone.” “Look at what I have done for myself.”

God is not Rude vs. Damaging Words- “They’re not worth His love.” “You’re not worth His love.”

God is not demanding of His own way vs. Self-centered, uncaring and apathetic attitude about the needs and opinions of others. “It’s my way or the highway.”

God is not Irritable vs. Easily irritated, short temper, having unrealistic expectations (or unspoken ones)

God Keeps No Record of Wrongs vs. Reminders of our failures- “You’ve failed too many times and hurt too many people. You’ll never be pleasing to God.”

God Rejoices in Truth vs. Lies and Deceptions- Satan is the father of lies. The world’s culture is built upon deception. “All this I will give you if you will bow down and worship me.”

God Never Gives Up vs. Despair- “You’ll never make it; you’ll never win.” “You’ll never be able to have victory over that sin.” “It will never work, so why try?”

God Never Loses Faith (trusts) vs. Doubt- “Did God really say…?”

God is Always Hopeful vs. Hopelessness- “things always turn out wrong.” “You’ll never get it right.” “You are hopeless; why does God put up with you?”

God Endures (perseveres) Through Every Circumstance vs. Giving up- “Why keep trying?” “This is too hard.” “If you complain, they’ll let you quit.”

Have you ever heard Satan’s lies before? We can only defend ourselves against them by using our shield of faith (believing what God has said is true) and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. We can believe what 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says about God. We can be like Him if we allow the Spirit to have control of our lives and we work hard to be just like Him.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Our sanctification is the process (practice) of us learning how to overcome our sin nature–not on our own, but by allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us, strengthen us, encourage us, and train us. Let’s allow Him to recreate Jesus in our character by practicing 1 Corinthians 13 today.

Abba, it’s hard–but SO rewarding! I love it when I relax in You and allow Your love, joy, and peace to wash over me. I am then ready to respond in love according to 1 Corinthians 13. May I become more and more proficient at it. Amen.

 

Proverbs 28 3-28-20

“Do not worry–” Why not? There are many valid reasons! Because Your Savior said there is no need. He’s got YOU!

1 The wicked [those who follow their own ways] flee though no one pursues, but the righteous [those who are in Christ Jesus] are as bold as a lion.

When we are saved, eternity with Christ begins right then. Nothing can touch us spiritually, and what happens physically is not up to us, either. If we are living obedient lives, then EVERYTHING that happens to us is the responsibility of the Father. We must assume that every detail of our lives has meaning and purpose, so we ask the Holy Spirit to make us aware of what He is up to in the world around us. We know that:

  1. Our salvation is secure. 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Who sanctifies and keeps us? God Himself! We have peace with God!!!
  2. Heaven is waiting. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Philippians 3:20-21 A new home and a new body–WOW!
  3. This life we live is about furthering the kingdom. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24 This verse states every Christian’s task: Testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
  4. Our God will supply all our needs19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 All of our circumstances are designed for us to be witnesses for Him. Let’s use them!
  5. We must be content. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13 Regardless of what happens concerning our health, the economy, etc. we are in His care.

So, how do we put this information into a usable format? Let’s take us where we are today and assume that we are here at the LORD’s direction. Let’s look for an avenue to express our faith to others, especially those with whom we come in contact each day. In what area has God given you to serve? Consider that area your mission field. He has us where we are as His Light, so let’s shine “like the stars in the universe” (Phil. 2:15).

Speaking of 2:15, let’s look at the whole passage:

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Paul understood that his life here on this earth was all about promoting and spreading the Gospel. His scope was bigger than ours, but our mission is the same: We are His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20). Even if it costs us our job, savings, house, health, and even our very lives, let us “be glad and rejoice” with each other. Remember that our eternity with Christ began the moment we received Him into our hearts. There is nothing we need to fear.

Abba, it’s scary to think about the future. Even the present is pretty scary right now. But I know that You hold my life in Your hands. In fact, I’ve read the end of Your Book and I know how the Story ends. I look forward to returning with You as You come back to earth and set up Your new Kingdom–who knows? I may even meet You in the air! In the meantime, LORD, may I hang onto these words, “They triumphed over him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” Rev. 12:11. When my time comes, I want it to count for You! Even so, come, LORD Jesus! Amen.

 

Proverbs 28 2-28-20

We ask God to work according to what we see and know, but we trust Him to act according to what He sees and knows.

Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.

There is SO MUCH that we don’t know and don’t see. Yet, we still try to live our lives according to our own ideas and perceptions. As we live our lives, we cannot see what God has planned for us on the other side of death. But, He has given us His Word, and in it He gives us snippets of what is to come. Isaiah 65 is one of those snippets:

1 “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
    I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
    I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’”

This verse is for us Gentiles. WE are the nation that He has called unto Himself. Does this calling leave out the Jews? Absolutely not! Read on!

This is what the Lord says:

“As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes
    and people say, ‘Don’t destroy it,
    there is still a blessing in it,’
so will I do in behalf of my servants;
    I will not destroy them all.
I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,
    and from Judah those who will possess my mountains;
my chosen people will inherit them,
    and there will my servants live.
10 Sharon will become a pasture for flocks,
    and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds,
    for my people who seek me.

 

These verses speak of a new kind of servant, one who trusts in the One True God. We know Him as Jesus Christ, Yeshua haMachiach. Let’s read about what He has in store for His servants:

17 “See, I will create
    new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
    nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
    in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
    and its people a joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
    and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
    will be heard in it no more.

From this passage, we can conclude:

  1. God is going to remake the earth. It will be the same as what the Flood did to the earth. We read about it in 2 Peter 3, But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. Christ will not remove the earth from existence, but RENEW the earth for US!
  2. We will keep our identities, but our lives on earth will be overshadowed and engulfed with the Presence of Christ, the newness of the earth, and all that God has in store for us. I have read it put this way, “If I am in economy seating on a plane and am asked to move to first class, there will be nothing in economy seating that I will miss. Considering that our seating is more like in the baggage department, how much more!” (paraphrased from Randy Alcorn, “Heaven”).
  3. Jerusalem will become the hub of civilization, for Christ will rule from there! To learn about the Coming of Christ to Jerusalem, read Zechariah 14. What a POWERFUL chapter of our future! We will unpack that one another time.

Coming up in the rest of Chapter 65 is the Millennial Reign of Christ. I can hardly wait to talk about it!

Abba, You have SO MUCH in store for us–if we could only grasp the fact that this world as we know it, that this life as we know it, is such a small part of what is coming. At the same time, our lives are ultra-important because it is during this time that we decide where we will spend eternity and with whom. May we be about Your mission, O LORD, to call people to Yourself. May I be a light, an example, a witness, and a herald for You. I’m looking for divine appointments today, Abba. Amen.

 

Proverbs 28 1-28-20

I have come to believe that without prayer, Christianity is powerless and useless. It’s all about the relationship!

The Bible was written so that God can easily communicate with His people. It’s one of the ways He talks to us. It teaches us to pray. Even as far back as Solomon, we learn how to pray:

5 Evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully

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

14 Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.

Both Matthew and Luke included Jesus’ model prayer for us. We will use Matthew’s:

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’”

  • We recognize Him as our Father, we acknowledge Him in heaven, and we proclaim His holy name.
  • We pray for His kingdom to come to earth and that His will may be done here as it is in heaven–even in our own lives.
  • We ask Him to meet our needs today even as He met the Israelites’ needs in the desert (Deut. 8:3-5).
  • We ask for a cleansed and right heart AFTER we have forgiven those who have offended us, who owe us, and who hurt us.
  • We KNOW He will not lead us into temptation (we state the obvious for emphasis), and then ask Him for deliverance and protection from the evil one, who leads us into temptation. May we not follow the evil one BECAUSE the Father leads us in another direction.

Jesus also emphasized the privacy of prayer, the personal level of prayer, and the assurance of prayer.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Our connection and camaraderie with the Father are tied together in prayer. Our access to Father-God and His throne of grace has been opened to us through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). Jesus Himself has come to live in our hearts via the Holy Spirit. Why would we WANT to live this life apart from them?!!!

Let’s set aside any and all things that hinder us from seeking Him. In my life, I must control what I put into my body so that I feel well and will have a clear mind with which to hear Him; I must limit what I watch electronically because it tends to distract me, lead my mind down paths that I should not go, and wastes my time so that I must shorten–and even abandon–my prayer and reading time with the LORD. We must consciously and deliberately make Him a priority in our lives. We can even start our prayers with, “Lord, You know I don’t feel like doing this, so please renew my heart, my mind, and my will in You…” Now, THAT’S a prayer that He will answer right away!

Abba, even though I know that You are a thought away, I still find myself living life without consulting You or even acknowledging You. Please call me into prayer with You so that I can establish a habit of turning to You for answers to all things. I know that if I spend time with You, I become more and more like You, thus making me holy, righteous, without fault (Jesus finds no fault in me) and blameless (if I am under His command, then I am blameless). I know that You will soon present me to the Father with great joy (Jude 24); I am sure looking forward to that day! Amen.

Proverbs 28 12-28-19

Trust Christ and quit trying to live life on your own. What’s the point in being a Follower if you’re not following?

18 The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe,
    but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into the pit.

Let’s rephrase this verse: The one who walks with the Master is kept safe at Jesus’ side, but the one whose ways are all about themselves, doing things their way, have already fallen into a trap.

What kind of trap? The trap of self-dependence. We were never designed to act independently of the Spirit. Sin did that to us. Now, it is our job to quit doing things on our own and start allowing the Spirit to show us how to do things, to live life according to the Spirit.

26 Those who trust in themselves are fools,
    but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe and will prosper.

If we say, “I’m saved and that’s enough,” then we are missing out on the whole reason for salvation, which is to fellowship with the LORD, through which we learn holiness. There is a lot to be learned in this world that will apply to the next world. What and how, I’m not sure, yet, but I’m studying hard to find out! How about you?

Let’s suppose that you are on a long flight and the pilot says to you, “Come up here to the cockpit and I’ll show you how to fly a 747.” You agree and you both head up to the cockpit. You strap in and he begins to tell you what to do. As he does so, he explains what each button, lever and switch does. He explains the screens and what you’re seeing. You feel the monster of a plane reacting to your commands; you feel the mighty power at your fingertips and you’re hooked! The pilot turns to you and asks, “Would you like to fly with me and become my co-pilot?” How would you answer?

  1. “Sure! What do I do next?” He hands you a manual and says, “Let’s start by reading chapter one: ‘What Makes a Good Pilot.'”
  2. “No thanks. I’m content to ride in the back.”

Many Christians are content to “ride in the back” through life. They miss out on the relationship, the interaction, the connection with the Pilot of life, Jesus Christ. Let’s not be this kind of Christian. Instead, let’s pick up that manual–the BIBLE–and head to the cockpit with the Lord Jesus and learn to fly!

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good [His words], and you will delight in the richest of fare. Isaiah 55:2

103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103

Abba, sitting down with You each day and reading Your Word is the highlight of my day. Unlocking the secrets stored up in each book, each chapter, even each verse is exciting! I love to read with the understanding that You give, which has come over time, time spent in Your Word when understanding didn’t come easily. But, as I experienced life and You called verses to mind, I began to apply Your lessons to my life. THEN I understood why it is important to “study to show myself approved (2 Tim. 2:15).” I must know the material before I can work on applying it with Your guidance. Keep teaching me, LORD. I have SO MUCH to learn! Amen.

Proverbs 28 11-28-19

How can we take credit for the good things in our lives? Let us give thanks to the LORD for His mercy and His grace.

14 Blessed is the one who always trembles before God [not out of fear, but with anticipation and excitement], but whoever hardens their heart [and will not go into His presence] falls into trouble.

If we ever wonder how much the LORD loves us and does for us, all we have to do is look around at all the traps, hidden snares, pitfalls, and lures that Satan has placed in our paths. He knows our buttons:

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Only by answering His call to be His children and then keeping our eyes fixed and focused on Him can we live blamelessly in this world. We are constantly being renewed by the Spirit, but we must allow Him access to our lives. Otherwise, we become the victims:

18 The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into a pit. Proverbs 28:18

“Perverse” can mean as bad as we can imagine or it could mean something that has been twisted to our idea rather than God’s idea. For instance, in judging others we condemn ourselves by taking God’s place on the throne. We have perverted justice by passing judgement upon one for whom Christ died. Jesus tells us,

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

This measure that is given to us comes in the form of insight and knowledge. We learn the heart of God! We experience a kinship with Him that only comes from walking closely to Him and seeing things from His perspective as He explains them to us. Many things He says only become clear once we have experience. Want to know godly love that gives even when the person throws it back in your face? Ridicules you for it and persecutes you? It is when these things happen to us that we begin to understand God’s love for mankind–for us! When we lose family, possessions, health, dreams and all for which we have worked, then we are in a position to understand all that God has lost because of sin:

  1. His relationship with His children;
  2. His beautiful garden;
  3. His creation that suffers to this day because of sin;
  4. All the souls that choose not to love Him!

Why does God hate sin so much? Because it destroys His children and leads them to destruction! We must learn to hate it, too. We must learn to love people and to show them the Better Way, the Spirit-led way.

As we give thanks for our blessings today, may we also ask Him for His heart, His eyes, and His compassion. Let’s be about our Father’s business, shall we?

Abba, keep molding me and making me into a useable vessel for You. I don’t want to coast for the rest of my life–I want to go out in a blaze of glory! May my life and even my death bring much glory to You, O LORD. I am thankful for the easy life You have given me; I lay it all at Your feet. May Your will be done in this world even as it is in heaven: Immediately and completely! I’m following You, LORD. Lead on. Amen.

Proverbs 28 10-28-19

Being known for integrity is not nearly as popular as being known for actions and deeds, but it IS what counts.

4 Those who forsake instruction [God’s Word and His instructions to us] praise the wicked, but those who heed it resist them.

5 Evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully.

Our Hero needs to be Jesus Christ. All others, whether sports players, actors, race car drivers, political figures, etc. all need to take a back seat to the One around whom all creation is centered.

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

36 from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Romans 11:36

When we get away from reading and obeying God’s Word, we take our eyes off of the Lord Jesus Christ and place them on what is around us. Without His perspective, the things of this world sparkle and shine and look enticing. If we are not careful to get back to His Word and His way, we will find ourselves praising the wicked.

When we seek the Lord, we gain His perspective of how this world works, and what is the end awaiting those who follow the prince of this world–whether they realize that is what they are doing or not! We know what is right and we do it in His name and with His power, His presence, and His participation. It’s HOW we walk with God, through the Spirit, because of the Son. Because they are ONE, we are actually walking with Jesus!

Let’s make SURE that our feet are on the Rock (of Jesus) and our names are on the roll (of the saved through the blood of Jesus). Now, THAT’S the right kind of rock and roll!

Lord Jesus, May YOU be the center of all I think and do today. I not only want to do it for You, I want to do it WITH You. I remember Dad’s words when I asked him why he and Mom moved up here with me. He said, “I was tired of not seeing you.” I don’t want to grow tired of not seeing You! Neither do I want You to grow tired of not having my full attention. May I walk closely by Your side today as You draw me into Your embrace. Let’s go, Lord. Amen.

 

Proverbs 28 9-28-19

Trying to do things on our own is how we got into our sinful condition in the first place. Quit trying. Start depending.

(14) Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.

(26) Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.

We were NEVER meant to do this life on our own. Now, with sin rampant, our bodies tainted with the sin nature, and with demons residing and presiding on this planet, we CANNOT do this life on our own! WE NEED HIS SPIRIT! We need Him with us, in us, going ahead of us, coming behind us, walking beside us, and planning for us, talking to us, instructing us, chiding us, encouraging us, and giving us hope.

The Spirit-filled life is spelled out for us in Romans 8:1-17. Let’s look at the New Living Translation:

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

We no longer fear condemnation. When we hear in our heads/hearts condemning phrases like, “You’ll never measure up,” “You’re a failure,” or, “You’ll always be a disappointment to God,” know that they are from the enemy. God doesn’t condemn; He convicts with words like, “You chose poorly this time; I love you and want the best for you, so listen to me next time and make the better choice. Let’s do this together!”

 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

People who don’t know Christ do not realize their condition: At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. Titus 3:3 Were it not for the Spirit of Christ coming into our hearts and making us alive spiritually (Eph. 2:5), we would still be dead in our sins and headed to hell even while living hell on earth because of our sinful nature. But when the kindness and love of God [Jesus Christ] appeared [to us in human form-Phil. 2:6-10], he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. We will read something similar to this in a minute.

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

We cannot think like God on our own. We need Him to enlighten us by His Spirit. Likewise, we cannot please God on our own. We need Him to empower us by His Spirit.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

Relinquishing control to the Spirit is something we must consciously do daily–hourly, even constantly. We rest in the knowledge that He will keep us in this life and beyond death–we will live with Christ in heaven!

12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

The fight inside is our confirmation of our salvation, for the Holy Spirit guides us even as our flesh pulls us in another direction. As children of God, we MUST allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit of God.

15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

The good news: We have been adopted into God’s family and are co-heirs with Jesus Christ (I’m not at all sure what we are inheriting, but I know it’s gonna be good!).

The bad news: We must suffer in this world because of our sinful nature. We struggle each day between doing what the Spirit is leading us to do and what we want to do in the flesh. We suffer the consequences of other people’s bad choices because they either don’t have the Spirit, or because they are not listening to Him. We must weather these bodies as they grow old and die. Growing old is not for the faint of heart!

Paul, who spent time in heaven with Jesus and had the entire Plan laid out before him (see 2 Corinthians 12:1-10), tells us in the next verse:

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

This verse is my banner verse. It proclaims that nothing on this earth compares to what is ahead in glory. Let’s keep our “prize” in mind as we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

Lord, You have so much in store for us. There is so much You want for us now, too. It’s all wrapped up in our relationship with You. Knowledge, insight, and understanding are key to knowing You, knowing what to do next, and knowing what is to come. Help me to lean more and more on Your Spirit for these things. May I revel in our connection, O Lord. “Speak, Lord, Your servant listens (1 Sam.  3:10).” Amen.