Proverbs 1-29-23

An ancient Pony Express? Absolutely! 1,677 miles in nine days is quite a feat–on horseback.

‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.’ Exodus 19:4

We have been studying the “fuse” leading up to the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. On the world stage, God was working events to ready the world for His Coming. Even though most world leaders were not worshipers of YAHWEH, God still worked through world events to “prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God (Isaiah 40:3).

An interesting aspect to the spreading of the Gospel is the building of roads. There were three main roads across Europe and Asia: The Royal Road, the Appian Way, and the Silk Road. From “Person of Interest,” pages 17-19,

  • The Royal Road- The Persians were among the first to build significant roads. Darius the Great refurbished an existing roadway and created the “Royal Road” in 500 BC, connecting regions as far apart as Susa to Sardis (1,677 miles). This reduced travel from ninety days on foot to nine days on horseback.
  • Construction of probably the most famous of Roman roads, the Appian Way, was started in 312 BC. Called by Romans the “Queen of Roads,” it set the standard for the many famous roads Romans would build leading up to the lifetime of Jesus. From Wikipedia: The Appian Way (Latin and Italian: Via Appia) was one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of ancient Rome. It connected Rome to Brindisi in southeast Italy (400 miles).
  • By 130 BC, the Silk Road was formally opened for travel by the Han dynasty of China. This ancient network of connected trade routes would be used to facilitate trade between the East and the West for many centuries.

As the Romans built the infrastructure of secondary roads and perfected the engineering of bridges and tunnels by 100 BC, the stage was set for the peacetime expansion of the Roman highway system that occurred as Jesus’ followers began to share his message and ministry. As this point in history, early in the first century, the Roman Empire had unified and refurbished the road systems of conquered nations, connecting the various systems into a network of roads that spanned the empire from Britain to Syria. This network provided a new opportunity to trade and share ideas, even ideas about Jesus.

The Egyptians had a postal service (of sorts) as early as 2000 BC, but the Persians are typically credited with the first true mail carriers. China had a system for delivering mail as early as 1122 BC, and the Greeks had a system, although they relied heavily on private couriers. The Romans advanced the concept greatly. 47,000 miles of new roads were built by Augustus and his successors. “Using the Persian system of ‘relays,’ the Romans built forts and stations on their exceptional roads, each positioned about one day’s ride apart.” The Pony Express was built on this very model.

As we can see, the stage was being set for the spread of the Gospel. An integral part of its success was the toleration of the Romans and even encouragement concerning the religions of the nations. We will look at that aspect tomorrow.

Abba, the forethought and planning on Your part for the success of the Gospel is amazing. I marvel at the wonder of it all. As I look at all that transpired to make the world ready for Your coming, I see Your loving hand in everything. You truly do love the world–You love us! Thank You!!! Amen.

Proverbs 29 12-29-22

Ever wonder what Jesus had to say about Himself? John wrote down one of Jesus’ conversations with the religious leaders.

He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person. John 2:25

As we walk through John 8, there are several key statements that we will follow. The first one is His confession of being the Light of the world,

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John began his gospel with the analogy of Jesus being light, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind [notice the correlation to the end of verse 12]. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5), and in 9:5, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” He then gives this explanation of that Light in 3:19-21,

19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

We understand that Jesus is talking about truth, specifically the truth concerning His Coming. Turning to Jesus has to do with turning from doing evil to doing good. We don’t do it on our own; we don’t want to. But, when He calls us, the mere sound of His voice beckons us to turn away from our acts of evil and to gaze upon His face. We come into His light.

But wait, there’s more! In John 7:2, it states that it was time for the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles. From Illumination of the Temple Ceremony:

During the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) there was a great ceremony called the “Illumination of the Temple,” which involved the ritual lighting of four golden oil-fed lamps in the Court of Women. These lamps were huge menorahs/candelabras (seventy-five feet high) lighted in the Temple at night to remind the people of the pillar of fire that had guided Israel in their wilderness journey. All night long the light shone their brilliance, it is said, illuminating the entire city.
In celebration and anticipation, the holiest of Israel’s men danced and sang psalms of joy and praise, before the Lord. This festival was a reminder that God had promised to send a light, the Light, to a sin-darkened world. God promised to send the Messiah to renew Israel’s glory, release them from bondage, and restore their joy. Imagine that you are in ancient Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles. Visualize seeing these massive menorahs giving a tremendous amount of light. Now imagine the impact of the words said by Jesus in the Temple courtyard when he announced, “I am the Light of the world.”
Jesus is the Light, the source of illumination to bring the lost out of darkness. Jesus declared himself to be the Light of the world. It is not clear from the text when this incident happened, but it was some time between the Feast of Tabernacles and the Feast Of Dedication (Hanukkah); both of these celebrations focused on light.

Jesus’ announcement of Him being the Light of the world was a direct correlation to Isaiah 9:1-2,

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

Matthew corroborates John’s story in 4:12-16. Jesus was clearly identifying Himself as the long-awaited Messiah. I’m curious about what else He has to say about Himself. We will see tomorrow.

Abba, thank You for sending Jesus to be our Light. The truth about You, Your love, and Your plan are much clearer now that we have His Spirit illuminating us from within. Amen.

Proverbs 29 11-29-22

The Christian life is simple. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. All we have to do is be like Jesus. Right?

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2

The Gospel can be boiled down to three essential components. The Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). It could be said this way:

Jesus’ Way
Jesus’ Truth
Jesus’ Life

In the book, “A Grand Illusion,” by David Young, he said, “While the gospel absolutely includes social concerns such as justice and mercy in this life, at its heart the gospel is about Christ’s atoning sacrifice, His coronation as king, and His future return to establish a new heaven and earth.” We can easily say,

Christ’s atoning sacrifice is the Way; it is through Christ and Christ alone that we come to the Father.
Christ’s coronation as king is the Truth; He really is God the Son–always has been and always will be.
Christ’s future return is the Life; Christ’s life in us IS eternal life.

How do we get that life? By turning over control of our lives to Jesus Christ. The benefits of following Christ are daily and lifelong. As we grow in our knowledge of Him, we find that being like Him is the best thing for us–and everyone! Each day, let’s pray this prayer:

Jesus, today I give all I know of me to all I know of You. Amen.

Abba, that is certainly my prayer each morning. I ask that You search my heart and reveal anything that needs fixing today. I want Your life that is in me to shine on the outside, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 29 10-29-22

God’s salvation is simple. He has done everything for us; all we have to do is receive the gift of His sacrifice and His love.

30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They replied, “Believe in [trust in, rely on, receive His gift of grace] the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

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?

As we delve into what is required for salvation, many people lean toward a courtroom scene while others may lean toward a hospital emergency room; I lean toward a rescue operation. The interesting thing is that all three scenarios are correct from their perspectives:

  1. The courtroom scene- We each have sinned against a holy God and can not longer stand in His holy presence in our current condition. We need cleansing. Christ’s blood washes us clean and we are once again welcome at the throne of grace (2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 8:1-2, 1 John 1:8).
  2. The hospital emergency room- With sin came sickness to our eyes, our bodies, and our souls. Jesus demonstrated this fact throughout His ministry by healing the body and the soul. In Jesus, we are healed and whole (Mark 2:3-12, Mark 2:17, Luke 4:18).
  3. The rescue operation- Sin binds, it addicts, and it controls. Jesus came to break our bonds, pull us out of our addiction to sin, and to wrest control from the one who controls us (Satan). In Jesus, we find FREEDOM (Matthew 12:28-29, Romans 7:24-25, Hebrews 2:14-15)!

How do we come to Christ? We believe that He is who He said He is, did what He said He did, and will do what He said He would do. We trust Him with our lives beginning today and every day afterward. We receive His Holy Spirit into our lives and follow, listen, and obey Him in all instructions. Since the Spirit is Jesus, we walk with Him and talk with Him as our closest Friend–always remembering that He is King of the Universe and Lord of our lives.

Tomorrow, we wrap up this topic by looking at the ups and downs of our salvation in Christ.

Abba, You have made salvation simple by canceling our debt, healing our souls, snatching us from the fire, and releasing us from the grip of Satan and our own addiction to sin and desire. All we did was receive Your invitation. We owe You so much–we owe You our lives! I agree with Paul when he said, “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). That’s what I want to do, Abba: Testify to the good news of Your grace in my life. I will be looking for opportunities to do just that! Amen.

Proverbs 29 9-29-22

Is the path you are on leading you toward Jesus or away from Jesus? Turn to the Shepherd. He’s calling your name!

20 “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” –Jesus

I used to say that not all roads lead to God, but to Jesus, who is the door/gate (John 10:7-11). I have since come to the conclusion that most roads on this earth are dead ends or lead to destruction (Proverbs 13:15, Matthew 7:13). The great news is that Jesus will travel any road to reach us, and when He does, He picks us up and carries us home. How do I know? Let’s read it:

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:3-7

I’m thinking that the sheep was glad to see the Shepherd, aren’t you? It was far away from the flock and safety, probably lost, maybe even caught in a thicket. The Shepherd was counting the sheep as they went into the pen for the night, so we know that it was late in the day. If it was twilight or even dark, that sheep was most likely terrified. You see, sheep have no natural defenses: no claws, no shell, no scent glands, only the Shepherd.

We are that way in this life. Contrary to popular opinion, we cannot take care of ourselves, especially spiritually. We need the Shepherd just like that lost sheep, and just like the 99 sheep in the pen. Our relationship with the Shepherd (Jesus) determines the kind of life we will have in the next five minutes, days, years, and eventually, in eternity. Let’s quit wandering off (doing things our way) and stay close to the Shepherd, shall we?

Abba, may I stay close to Your side. I do not want to wander off–I don’t even want to stray a little bit! The consequences of my sin (wandering) are too great (they affect others as well as myself), and the breach of fellowship with You is too costly. I don’t want to have to keep learning the same lessons. I not only want to stay close to You, I want to keep in step with You, as well (Galatians 5:25). May it be so, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 29 8-29-22

Immediately after giving birth, the mother’s body does something miraculous. Read on!

30:18 “There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand:” One is how a woman’s body knows how to do what it does.

This post is the last installment from,  “A Pocket Guide to the Human Body” (that’s not to say that we won’t look at other parts at another time). Today, we talk about a true miracle that has no explanation on how the body learned to do such a thing.

During the baby’s development, the placenta is securely attached to the endometrium of the uterus by some of the larger branches of each cotyledon (tree-like structures). When the uterus contracts to expel the placenta after the birth of the baby, some of the endometrial surface is torn off with it. This results in severing about 20 large uterine arteries which, if unchecked, would involve the loss of blood at a rate of about one pint per minute. Since fewer than five quarts of blood are in the adult female body, all the blood would be lost in less than 10 minutes. It is also important to note that the blood-clotting mechanism is suppressed in the placenta and uterine blood vessels during pregnancy, creating a situation comparable to a hemophiliac with 20 severed arteries. These factors result in a wound that no one would expect to survive!

How does a woman survive childbirth with such a wound? Here is another example of the awe-inspiring work of God, the Creator and Sustainer of life. You see, each of the severed uterine arteries has a precisely placed muscular sphincter that acts like a purse string, or a surgeon’s hemostat, to immediately close off the loss of blood. As a result, a normal birth involves the loss of only about a pint of blood. Simply amazing!

The next time you experience the joy of a baby’s birth, thank the Lord for providing this selfless placenta. And above all, reflect on the fact that our Creator, who at the time of childbirth so mercifully spares the mother from a fatal loss of blood, did not hesitate to shed His own blood in death to save us from sin, death, and the power of the devil [Hebrews 2:14-15].

Abba, it boggles my mind to think that every time a baby is born that You perform this miracle. You did it twice for my family–You did it for me! You are in the business of giving life. Thank You for Your abundant life in Christ that You have made available to anyone and everyone. Amen.

Proverbs 29 7-29-22

We talk about the kingdom of God as if it were heaven–but, is it?

7 The righteous care about justice [righteousness and mercy] for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

If the kingdom of God is heaven, then Jesus would not have referred to it as “here and now.” Matthew refers to the Kingdom of God as the kingdom of heaven. Most scholars believe that it is because the Jews revered the name, “God,” or “Yahweh,” and would not speak it. In order to reach his audience (fellow Jews), he modified the term to make it palatable. Mark and Luke quoted Jesus in the same passages saying the kingdom of God, such as this one,

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 3:1-2 as opposed to,

15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15

Matthew also uses the term, kingdom of God, interchangeably in his Gospel, poignant passages such as,

28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Matthew 12:28

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24

43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Matthew 21:43

How shall we define the kingdom of heaven/God? As the place where God dwells. Jesus is Emmanuel, which means, “God with us.” Wherever Jesus stepped, that was heaven, the kingdom of God. Jesus lives in our hearts, therefore, the kingdom of God is within us.

Here’s the point: Instead of telling someone to accept Christ and asking Him to come into their heart and life so that they can go to heaven when they die, let’s put the emphasis on heaven coming to them! Why? So that He can fellowship with them even as He leads us through this world to His world. We can’t make it without Him–that’s the point! Having them focus on a future heaven puts the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-A-ble.

Tomorrow, we will look at what happens when a person “accepts Christ,” but never follows Him.

Abba, thank You for not making me wait for heaven. I have You in my heart and life, and Your love, joy and peace are available to me all the time. I’ve heard it described as a waterfall from Your throne in which I can walk every time I turn to You. Teach me to turn to You more and more each day. Amen.

Proverbs 29 6-29-22

“Lord, I need patience, and I need it right now!” Be careful what you ask for; patience comes through practice…

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

There are several ways to describe patience. Let’s begin with the dictionary,

-the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
-an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner.
-quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience.

One kind of patience is with a child or person that pushes boundaries of prudence, safety, rules, or obedience. It’s a type of bearing with, or striving with the person until a breakthrough is achieved.

Another kind of patience is when a farmer waits for his crops to grow. It’s a slow, but measured patience as is found in Mark 4:26-29.

Yet another kind of patience is found in Ephesians 6:11-13,

11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

This type of standing is the military version, which means, “last man standing.” A soldier takes all his enemy has to offer and continues to stand.

Combine all of these definitions of “patience” and we get a composite that describes the patient ferment of the early church. They strove with their opponents and persecutors–and sometimes, executors–showing them a better way, the Jesus Way. Their firm belief in the Savior Jesus Christ never wavered, and they stood the test. Their way was slow, but sure. By the fourth century, a good half of the Roman Empire had chosen to follow Christ. Tomorrow, we will read one of the accounts of a patient Christian.

Abba, patience is part of the fruit that You are growing in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23). May we not get ahead of You (as did Abraham with Hagar, Moses with the Egyptian whom he killed, and David with Bathsheba) and learn patience, the kind that our early Christian brothers and sisters had. They are rooting us on; may we give them reason to rejoice in You, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 29 5-29-22

Today, as we remember those who have gone on before us, let us pay homage to our Christian fathers of old.

23:22 Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.

In today’s culture, we tend to think that technology makes us smarter. Actually, it just makes knowledge more available. The problem is not with the knowledge, but the wisdom that drives that knowledge. Without wise predecessors, we must “reinvent the wheel” each time we read the Scriptures. The solution is that they have already given us sound doctrine in their writings and, in some cases, in their liturgy, i.e. the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. Before we think too highly of ourselves, consider this point of view:

Is our theological understanding always increasing? If theology isn’t just an abstract discussion, but is literally the knowledge of God, is there any evidence that we today know God better than any previous generation? This would mean the earliest Christians had the least accurate understanding of their faith. Compared to us, they must have had a mere sliver of the knowledge of God that we have. Even though we trust them to have written the New Testament and to have chosen what books to include in it. Even though they died for their faith with a courage we would find hard to match.*

We would do well to consider the teachings of our forefathers–the ones who walked with the apostles and learned from them, passing down their faith from generation to generation. People like Origen, Tertullian, Clement, Ignatius, Justin, Polycarp, Irenaeus, and many more have much to teach us about the Christian walk and life.

At the Council of Nicaea, Athanasius fought hard to compile the canon of our Bibles today. It was completed at the council of Carthage in 397 A.D. with the addition of Revelation. Over the centuries, doctrines have changed according to the leaders and the times. We would do well to learn the faith of our fathers–our original fathers of the faith.

Abba, may we take seriously the faith of those who took their faith seriously. Many of the ones mentioned above gave their lives for Your sake. May I be as brave if called upon to do the same. May my faith be that real to me–may YOU be that real to me! Amen.

*Frederica Matthewes-Green, “Mary As the Early Christians Knew Her: The Mother of Jesus in Three Ancient Texts”

Proverbs 29 4-29-22

Paul asked the Corinthians to remember five things. Why? What was so special about those five things?

30:18 There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand…[in this case, five].

At the end of the first Corinthian letter, Paul gives a short, precise charge to the readers/listeners:

13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.

It sounds simple, but it’s actually a summary of the entire letter. Let’s look at each one and see where he has previously exhorted them in each area.

Be on your guard- Against divisions (1:10). We are to “be fully equipped with the same mind and the same opinion” when we meet together in the Lord. Unity is what Christ asked His heavenly Father for us to have (John 17:22-23).

Stand firm in the faith- On the foundation of Jesus the Messiah (3:11). We are to make sure that we are building with gold, silver and precious stones (our obedience and steadfastness) rather than with wood, grass or straw (our disobedience and waywardness) (3:12-13).

Be courageous- in living the sacrificial life. “Why not rather let yourselves be wronged? Why not rather put up with loss” (6:7)? To live a sacrificial life takes courage because our first inclination is to retaliate, to grab for security, and for vindication. Paul said, “When we are insulted, we give back blessings. When we are persecuted, we put up with it. When we are slandered, we speak gently in return” (4:12-13). In this way, we show the overcoming love of Christ rather than the overcoming force of the world.

Be strong- in our beliefs, but meek (controlled strength) in attitude (8:7-9). Conviction over preference; prayer over opinion. We must protect each other. As the song says, “We will guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride.”*

Do everything in love- It is the motivation behind the Advent, His life, the cross, and the resurrection. It can be summed up in 13:8, “Love never fails.” Fails to what? Put others first. The compassionate love of God is what has been imparted to us and is what we are to share by demonstration with others.

So, maybe Paul was giving them something to memorize in order to remember what he was teaching them. Maybe we could learn them, too…

Abba, I want to be like You, so help me to be on my guard, to stand firm in the faith, to be courageous, to be strong, and to do everything in love. May I memorize these five commands and what they mean; then, help me to implement them in my life according to Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

*They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love

Proverbs 29 3-29-22

Knowing God is a never-ending quest, a continuous feast, and an ever-unfolding revelation. Keep seeking Him!

3 A person who loves wisdom brings joy to his/her father…

I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of church history lately. It’s something that I was never taught, so I am learning it now. The more I learn about His-story, the more I realize that I tend to interpret things through the lenses of my own bias. Also, I have found that I am not alone in this tendency,

“The stubborn fact is that whatever we say about God or for God with great certitude is sifted through
the thick veils of our religious traditions, cultural assumptions and personal interpretations.”*

In the words of Yoda (applied to myself), “You must unlearn what you have learned.” The idea is to take a step back from how I look at Scripture and history to take in a new perspective. Notice that I didn’t say that I step back from what I know; I know a lot of Scriptures, but when it comes to interpreting them, there’s a lot about the culture in which they were written of which I am unaware (ignorant may be a better term). The one thing I do not want to do is create an image of God that is untrue, but we all do it because we all have a partial image of God and project that image as all He is. Christ’s intention is to get us all together so that we can have a full and complete image of Him in each other: “as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Christ, which are in heaven and on earth” (Ephesians 1:10 MEV).

“My point here is that those of us who claim to believe in ‘the God of the Bible’
must become more aware of how we read the text through thick lenses of our
own unconscious biases. From these distorting filters we are prone to construct
idols of God in our own image.”*

But, reading Scripture was never meant to be done alone. The Holy Spirit is present every time we read; are we listening? We “need Him to reveal Himself in a way that can be known.”* The further we step back, the more of the entire picture we can see. In fact, one day we will step back into eternity and we will see the WHOLE picture!

So, now when I read my Bible, I read it holding what I think I know loosely and allowing the Spirit to guide my thoughts. Another thing I do is listen to different Bible scholars, especially those with differing views than mine (within Christianity). Then, I weigh what they say against what I know and what the Scriptures say even as I pray for wisdom and insight, understanding and discernment. It’s funny how the verse that comes to mind is, “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). My goal is to become more like Christ, more like my heavenly Father. The way to do that is to find out as much as I can about Him even as I walk with Him daily.

Let’s determine “to know Christ in the power of His resurrection, share with Him in His sufferings, and then somehow attain to the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:10).

Abba, I have walked with You for 55 years and I just now feel like I’m learning who You are. Is it like that for everyone? If so, then older truly is wiser. Keep revealing Yourself to me as we walk together. Amen.

*A More Christlike God, pg. 4-5

Proverbs 29 1-29-22

Part 1: Two ways of looking at things concerning death, the kingdom of God, and heaven.

2 When the righteous increase, the people rejoice…(3) he who loves wisdom makes his father glad…(6)…a righteous person sings and rejoices.

John 14:1-4 has been a go-to for pastors when it came time to prepare a sermon for a funeral. I have used it myself. As I read it yesterday, I saw something that I had not seen before. Let’s look:

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”

So, Jesus is leaving to prepare a place for the apostles (i.e. sent ones). He promised that He would come back for them when it was ready. Let’s analyze this passage using the H.E.A.R. method from my church’s new discipleship book, “Growing Up,” by Robby Gallaty.

H. – Highlight: This passage was borne witness by John as others wrote it down (see John 21:24). It was to the 11 apostles in the upper room on the day of Christ’s crucifixion (for us, it would have been the night before; their day began at sundown).

E. – Explain: Jesus was preparing His disciples for the upcoming events of crucifixion, death, and resurrection. Jesus had washed their feet, gone through the meal and His unveiling of the New Covenant, and had given them the new command of loving each other as He had loved them. Jesus was about to establish His kingdom and He wants His disciples with Him. Because of our inclusion in His priestly prayer, specifically 17:20, we can confidently say that Jesus is coming back for us, too, to take us to where He is.

A. – Apply: This passage gives me great peace in the death of loved ones and in my own eventual demise.

R. – Respond: Jesus, I live my life knowing that the hope of spending eternity with You is real and imminent.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the chapter. In 14:18, Jesus said that He would not leave them as orphans, but would come to them. Also, in 14:28, He said again that He was going away, but would come back to them. What does this mean? Jesus may have been referring to the coming of the Holy Spirit–OR… Tune in tomorrow as we look at the rest of Jesus’ discourse.

Abba, Your Word is like Aslan’s country: Over every hill is a new and larger vista. Jesus, You are like a huge, multi-faceted diamond, and every time I look at You, I see a new facet. Keep opening our eyes, Lord. We want to see You and know You ever more clearly. Amen.

Proverbs 29 12-29-21

One of my favorite verses is, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13. We get to see that in action today!

[25] The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.

Yesterday, we talked about being ready when Jesus changes our direction. Today, we will look at Romans 1:18 in light of Romans 11:32.

32 For God has shut up all in disobedience, so that He may show mercy to all.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

We all have sinned. How much we sin and in what areas matters not. The question is not how much or what kind, but if we have turned to Jesus and received His mercy. What happens is that, somehow, our turning to Him opens a door to our inner selves and the Spirit of Jesus comes to live in us. Our relationship with Jesus becomes the most important thing in our lives. The love and peace we experience as well as the joy that is in our hearts are quite enough motivation to turn our lives over to Him. This kind of certitude (freedom from doubt) is exactly what makes us trust Him. We know that we are right with God and we enjoy the Fellowship of the Trinity. This fellowship is eternal, so we don’t have to worry about dying. Removing the fear of death is what Jesus did on the cross,

14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, so that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, Hebrews 2:14

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:56-57

The mercy and forgiveness of Christ on the cross are for everyone. Let’s spread the Good Great News!

Abba, thank You for caring so much for Your creation. I trust You to take care of every part of Your creation, from grass to sparrows to humans. Your love for us goes beyond even our imagination. May Your mercy grow to fill the whole earth, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 29 11-29-21

The English language is not adequate for the task of interpreting the Bible (continued). Here’s another example.

20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Words matter. In this case, names matter. I read that the first few words of the Bible contain the Trinity: God the Father
God the Son
God the Holy Spirit

So, I looked it up and here’s what I found,

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was a formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

The first thing we find is that the word, “God,” is “Elohim” in Hebrew (H430). “Eloah” is singular; “Elohim” is plural, so we begin the entire Bible with a plural God–not three gods, but one God in three Persons. “Elohim” is used each time the word, “God,” is used (31 times in just the first chapter). It is used four times in chapter 2 and then “Lord (Yehovah)” is added to “Elohim.” It is used that way 10 times in chapter 2 and 7 times in chapter 3. From then on, Lord (Yehovah) is used routinely. The closest word we have in English is “Trinity,” but it is used to describe God rather than being used as a name.

The second thing we notice is that the Trinity is at work in creation. God (Elohim) created; how? The Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters when God spoke. The One speaking was Jesus Christ. How do I know? Consider these verses:

in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the world. Hebrews 1:2

16 for by Him [Christ] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or rulers, or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold togetherColossians 1:16-17

When He marked out the foundations of the earth;
30 Then I was beside Him, as a master workman [craftsman] at His [Yehovah’s] side, rejoicing day after day;
Proverbs 8:29-30

The third thing we see is the fellowship between the three as they created. Consider it like this:

God the Father implemented creation;
God the Son spoke it into being;
the Spirit did the actual labor.

They were in perfect unity and harmony.

The fourth and last thing to point out is that we were invited to their party! “Then God (Elohim) said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness [notice the plural forms].” “And God saw everything that “he had” or “was” made, and behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31. “He had” was added for our English benefit, but it implies a singular God when “God” at the beginning of the verse was Elohim. At the same time, because the Trinity is actually one God, then “He” works. Like I said, English does not a good interpretive language make (best Yoda voice).

Want to really know who God is and what He’s like? Look deeper. There’s always more.

Why does the Trinity interest me so? Because I do not think that God the Father turned away from God the Son on the cross even while God the Spirit was at work expunging sin. More on that tomorrow.

Abba/Jesus/Spirit, bless You (plural). Thank You for inviting us into Your fellowship. The sad thing is how long it took for me to comprehend what You wanted! Now that I know, I’m all about our relationship. Keep drawing me in; I want to know more and more! Amen.

Proverbs 29 10-29-21

Opening the Bible and poring over its meanings is great fun–when the Holy Spirit is doing the leading. Jesus is our Interpreter.

18 Where there is no revelation [discipline of study and enlightenment by the Spirit], people cast off restraint [quit holding to the godly wisdom they have]; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.

The kingdom of God is available to us because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. The question is, what did He do? Here are some options:

  1. A debt cancelled, as in forgiven (Colossians 1:13)
  2. Consequences erased (done away with) 1 Corinthians 15:56-57
  3. A wound or cancer healed –
    1. physically, by promising us another body, an exchange of a corrupt body for an incorruptible one (1 Corinthians 15:53-54)
    2. emotionally, set free from the law of sin and the fear of death (Romans 8:1-2)
    3. spiritually, we were dead, as in having no life of the Spirit in us (Ephesians 2:4-5)
  4. Redeemed (more on this in the next #4)

All of them are correct, but incomplete. We need all of these illustrations to even begin to understand what Christ did on the cross in order for us to be restored concerning our relationship with the Father and to be partakers in His kingdom.

My favorite passage (today) is Colossians 1:13-14,

13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son [the Son He loves]14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

  1. He has rescued us- it sounds like a stronger man (Christ) entered the strong man’s (Satan’s) house, bound him, and took his plunder (us). Behold!* Matthew 12:29 says just that, “how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house. Hebrews 2:14-15 says something very similar.
  2. The dominion of darkness- We are talking spiritual darkness. It is because we have no light inside us (Matthew 6:22-23). Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12). We need Him (His Spirit) to enlighten us.
  3. Transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Jesus)– He takes us home!
  4. In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins- Redemption can mean to buy back, but its original meaning was, “to recover.” If you go to the link, note that the idea of buying back is a relatively new one (14th century). Going back further reveals that it expresses the idea of starting over, as from an illness or injury. I like that!

We owe Jesus our lives, both physically and spiritually! Sin was destroying us and we couldn’t escape it. Jesus came to rescue us and to heal us. It was a RESCUE OPERATION!!! We are, indeed, forever grateful.

Abba, thank You for rescuing us and taking us home to be with You. I know that our glorification has not been fully realized, but we live by faith that when we die, we go to be with You (2 Corinthians 5:6-9). Being a subject of Your kingdom–a prince in Your royal house–is beyond imagining! I look forward to the Day that I step into eternity and into Your presence. Amen.

*Behold- “Look! Open your spiritual eyes and heart to what I am showing you.” Angels say it a lot.

Proverbs 29 9-29-21

What is prayer? How does it work? Why are we required to do it? How does it benefit us?

25 The fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trust in the LORD is kept safe.

We can trust God. He is good. He always does the right thing. The problem is that we cannot see things from His perspective. We tend to judge according to what we know and expect. He sees things in light of eternity. We must remember that Jesus’ ultimate goal for us is to be with Him beyond this world (John 17:24). We must also remember that He is the God of creation, and His natural laws are the foundation of that creation. Most (if not all) of our present circumstances; the quality of our soil, the type of food we eat, the condition of our DNA, the state of the world, our weather, and our general health are due to millennia of choices and the consequences of sin (the Flood is a prime example of living with consequences, as is cancer and COVID).

What does prayer have to do with all this? We tend to pray for things to turn out according to our expectations and our own benefit. We need to learn to pray according to God’s way of doing things. So, let’s take the questions one-by-one:

  1. What is prayer? Prayer is our connection to the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit. It is the conversation we have with Him. If we are aware of His Presence in our lives on a daily basis, then we usually have a running conversation with Him. Occasionally, we get together with others to pray. It, too, is connection. We hear each other’s prayers and join them in their requests, praises, heartaches, and petitions. We intercede for each other, which means that we pray for the Lord to work in each other’s lives. Prayer is the POINT of salvation. Jesus wants a relationship with us.
  2. How does prayer work? The best answer is to look at Jesus’ model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13,

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.

for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

  • Notice that Jesus taught them to pray to the Father, recognizing where He is and who He is.
  • To pray for His kingdom to come is to pray for the church to grow and for Jesus to come back. Both invoke His will to be done on this earth even as it is in heaven.
  • Our daily bread is everything that we will need today. It’s a reference to manna in the wilderness and to Jesus as the Bread of Life (See John 5-6).
  • Unity is the key. We have been forgiven, therefore, we forgive. We are most like God when we forgive.
  • We know that God does not tempt, nor is He tempted (James 1:13), so I take this verse to be a cry for His presence and participation in my life everyday–all the time! When I am aware of Him in my life, I don’t worry about what Satan might try to do to me.
  • It’s His kingdom, it’s His power by which He rules, and it’s for His glory always.

I have heard it said that we don’t pray to change God’s mind, but to align ours with His. Trust is the key to prayer. If we trust Him, we are good with whatever happens, knowing that He will bring ultimate good out of every circumstance.

The other two questions we will discuss tomorrow.

Abba, You are my heavenly Father. Your name is holy and sacred to me. May I live my life with You at the foremost of my mind. I want to be like You, Lord, so help me to forgive quickly and completely whether I get an apology or not. As for temptations, help me to honor my own guard rails that You have helped me to set up. Even when I fail, I know You will deliver me if I turn to You quickly. May Your kingdom come, O Lord; may everything be to Your glory. Amen.

Proverbs 29 8-29-21

When will we realize that we cannot trust anything this world teaches? It’s all smoke and mirrors. We trust only the Lord.

16 When the wicked thrive, so does sin, but the righteous will see their downfall [both on a personal and global scale].

In this world, power and wealth prevail, influence and manipulation are the name of the game, and the fulfillment of dreams (no matter how evil) is the goal. As bad as these can be, the worst thing is that humans are not the ones pulling the strings; Satan and his horde are! All it takes is a suggestion from them and we are off under our own power running to sin. Because we begin this life with no Holy Spirit in us, we are bent toward evil. We desire it and approve it. We were enemies of God (Colossians 1:21, Romans 5:10, Romans 1:32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Ephesians 2:1-3, and Titus 3:3).

So, what happened? We trusted God and called upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to save us. What did He do? He placed His Holy Spirit in us as a seal, a guarantee, and a foretaste of what is to come in the kingdom of heaven. Let’s look at Titus 3:4-8,

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 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. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

  1. It is the kindness and love of God that we even have the opportunity of salvation.
  2. This kindness and love appeared as Jesus Christ. He is our Savior!
  3. It’s not because of us, but in spite of us; He saved us because of His mercy. When we are merciful, we are most like Him.
  4. We have been justified (just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned) by His grace. He even erases the evidence! We are made new.
  5. We have been made heirs, co-heirs with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17).
  6. We are to be careful to devote ourselves to doing what is good (according to God).
  7. Trusting God and obeying Him is excellent and profitable for everyone.

My own paraphrase of Proverbs 3:5-6 is,

Trust the Lord with all you are and have;
Lean not on your own knowledge and abilities;
In all your ways acknowledge and acquiesce to Him,
and He will guide you with His counsel and direct your paths

As we worship together today, let’s pledge ourselves anew to His love and grace, His mercy and His kindness. Let’s set our hearts on devoting ourselves to doing what is good according the the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives.

Abba, thank You for loving me and for pouring our Your kindness, mercy and grace on me. I was Your enemy, but You called me and I answered. I am Your humble servant; use me as You see fit, O Lord. As we go, I will enjoy Your presence, and participation in my life, Your protection, power, and Your promise of even better things to come. I trust You, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 29 7-29-21

Loving our enemy is more difficult than it seems. Our sense of justice gets in the way. Jesus says to leave justice to Him.

29 The righteous detest the dishonest; the wicked detest the upright.

A friend asked me what a favorite verse is out of chapter 29. This is it (along with verse 1…and several others). We understand why the wicked would detest the upright: Our righteousness is light, and those who work in darkness hate the light (John 3:19-21). But, is the righteous supposed to detest anyone? There are some qualifiers.

  1. Is the person intentional about the deceit? Did they truly mean to deceive?
  2. Was the person meaning to harm?

From an Old Testament perspective, King David hated those who hated God’s ways, “Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.” Psalm 139:21-22. But, Jesus said to treat them like a tax collector (Matthew 18:17). Let’s rephrase that: Treat them as He would a tax collector. What’s the difference? He made a tax collector one of His disciples: Matthew!

So, we have a dilemma. Shall we follow the OT (an eye for an eye) or shall we follow the NT (do unto others as you would have them do unto you)? It depends upon by which one we want to be judged. I, for one, do NOT want to be judged by the law; I want to be judged by Jesus. By the law, I am guilty of breaking ALL of the commandments (James 2:10). By the blood of Jesus, I am justified, “Just as if I’d never sinned.” (Romans 3:24, Romans 8:30). When we get to heaven, there will be no evidence of sin!

When we read this verse every month, it is a great reminder that we are under a new covenant with one command,

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 3:34-35

I like it this way, don’t you?

Abba, teach us to love one another and to love our enemies, even when they are being deliberately dishonest, dirty, rotten, mean and nasty. They were to You, yet You loved them dearly. May we be just like You, Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 29 6-29-21

In Christ, our relationship with sin has changed. It becomes a tool in the Master’s hand to teach us righteousness.

6 Evildoers are snared by their own sin, but the righteous sing and shout for joy and are glad.

Romans 5 puts it all together for us as to why Christ did things the way He did. The peace mentioned in verse 1 is far more than just a truce; it’s complete peace, meaning that there are now NO BOUNDARIES between us and the Father. And, nothing can come between us, not evil, not even our own choices (John 10:27-30, Romans 8:35-39).

Let’s look at verse 15, “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man [Adam], how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

What is the gift that came by the grace of Jesus? We find it in John 4 and 7:

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37-38
History: The festival is the Feast of Booths, which was to commemorate the Israelites living in tents in the wilderness. It was to remind them that there is coming when they would live in the land of plenty; it’s a picture of heaven! Also, there was a ceremony on the last day where water was drawn from the Pool of Siloam in lower Jerusalem and taken up to the temple and poured out as an offering. Jesus was saying that He was that drink offering. It was a big Messianic sign.

Let’s talk about the word, “overflow.” It’s connotation is that we are filled to overflowing. With what? God’s grace! Our sins are washed away and we are covered with a non-stick material–His blood–and nothing ever sticks again. We are now overflowing with grace! The best illustration I know is from John 13 when Jesus washed Peter’s feet:

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean,
John 13:6-10a

Those who are in Christ Jesus are being made pure and holy, clean and righteous, and have been made blameless and without fault in His glorious presence, which is in us (Romans 8:1-2, 1 Corinthians 1:8-9, Ephesians 1:4, 5:26, Jude 1:24). Our sins are forgiven; now, when we act in contradiction with the Spirit (by turning away), He calls us to repent (turn back around and face Him). This act of repentance happens when we make confession (agreeing with God that what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong). When we confess to each other the things that draw us away from looking into the face of Christ, it helps us in two ways:

  1. We verbalize our weaknesses and can deal with them in the light;
  2. Others now know how to pray for us and can hold us accountable by asking us about them.

Never again are we judged according to our sin; Christ dealt with sin on the cross. Now, all who follow Christ walk in righteousness. Those who don’t walk in righteousness don’t have the Spirit, which means that they do not belong to Christ. If sin does not bother a person, then there’s no conviction of the Spirit. In contrast, even besetting sin (deep-rooted habits of bondage) comes with conviction of the Spirit; it may take years to overcome these problems. That’s okay. We have our entire lives that flow into eternity to have complete victory!

Tomorrow, we will talk about that victory. Today, let’s live in thankfulness and gratefulness for Christ’s sacrifice that rescued us from the bondage of sin.

Abba, I am deeply grateful for all You have done for me. I am not perfect, but I am blameless. My desire (which comes from the Spirit) is to be more and more like You. I know that I get that way by walking with You, gazing into Your beautiful face, and by obeying all that You say as You walk with me and counsel me. O, the love, joy and peace that flow from You to me! I am, indeed, thankful! May they pour out through me to others. Amen.

Proverbs 29 5-29-21

Becoming like Jesus means that we begin to think like Jesus and to want what He wants. Is being like Jesus your goal?

26 Many seek an audience with a ruler [us with God the Father], but it from the LORD that one gets justice [Petition].
7 The righteous care about justice for the poor [Intercession], but the wicked have no such concern.

To date: Recognition of God’s Character (Adoration), Acknowledgement of Our Character (Confession), and Affirmation of Grace in Christ (Assurance), Expression of Devotion (Thanksgiving). Desire for Aid in Living for God (Petition and Intercession) is next.

Petition is asking God for what we think we want. The good thing is that He already knows what we need and will meet those needs according to His riches in glory. Two verses that confirm this truth are:

Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Matthew 6:8

19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

God is in the business of changing our desires to become like His desires, which is for all people to come to the knowledge of the truth about Him (1 Timothy 2:1-4). If we commit our way to Him and enjoy His company, we are promised that He will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). If our desires have become His desires, then we will want what He wants, which is for all to com to the knowledge of the truth about Him. We will become disciplers. In fact, nothing else in life will take precedence over this desire. Our prayers, our conversations, and our actions will all point to this truth.

Intersession, also known as supplication, is asking God to help someone else. This kind of compassion is exactly what Christ has and what He wants us to have. In our journey to be like Him, we learn to have compassion for others. One of the best ways to learn is to do. Asking God to bless others, even if we don’t think they deserve it, and especially if we don’t like them (even justifiably so). Anyone can be transformed, so we treat everyone as potential brothers and sisters in Christ.

Individual prayer is super; corporate prayer has the added factor of being multiplied by how many people are in the service (and participating). When someone is praying for someone else, let’s join in that prayer and add ours to it. It’s important to God and for us. Begin today getting ready for tomorrow and corporate worship.

Abba, I intercede for my readers right now that You would bless them today with a sense of Your presence, participation, power, and protection, and give them progress in their struggle to become just like Jesus. Me, too! Amen.

Proverbs 29 4-29-21

Living for Jesus and following Jesus should be the same thing. Both involve walking with Him, communing with His Spirit.

3 He who loves wisdom makes his Father glad,
6 …a righteous person sings and rejoices [when truth wins out].

Today, we marry two ideologies together: Being devoted to Christ and following Christ. You may ask, “What’s the difference?” In order to do one, we must be the other. The difference is that many people give their lives to Jesus, but then have trouble moving forward. The whole concept is to walk with Christ. What good is it to “give your life to Christ” but then not follow Him through everyday life?

Consider these verses:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1

What is that calling? “Follow Me.” We find this invitation of Jesus in Matthew 4:19, 8:22, 9:9, 10:38, 16:24, 19:21, Mark 1:17, 2:14, 8:34, 10:21, Luke 5:27, 9:23, 9:59, 14:27, 18:22, John 1:43, 10:27, 12:26, 21:19, 22. He calls us to follow Him.

and walk in the way of [live a life of] love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2

We have both in this passage, depending upon which translation we use. We “live a life” by “walking in the way.” What way? The way of love, Jesus’ love, the sacrificial kind, the compassionate kind.

10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: Colossians 1:10a

Do you know what pleases Jesus? We do! We are already pleasing to Him (Ephesians 1:4-5). Walking with Him is what we are called to do everyday. When we follow Jesus as His disciples, we walk with Him along life’s path. Here is what will happen (Colossians 1:10b-14):

  1. We will bear fruit in every good work (everything we do will be led by the Spirit to do),
  2. We will increase in the knowledge of God (by studying His Word every day and communing with Him in prayer, all the time personally and then often with other followers),
  3. We will be strengthened with all power according to His glorious might (that comes from the Spirit),
  4. We will have all endurance and patience accompanied by JOY,
  5. We will give thanks to the Father (continually),
  6. We are qualified to share in the inheritance in the kingdom of light (Jesus’ kingdom),
  7. We have been delivered by God the Father from the domain of darkness and have been transferred to the kingdom of the beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Today, let’s begin something new. It’s not a new idea, but one that needs to be borne out as new every day. Let’s live our lives differently than we did yesterday: Let’s follow Christ more closely, listen more intently, shine more brightly, urge more insistently, love more completely, and long for His Coming more fervently. It’s not something we can do by ourselves; we MUST connect with Jesus via His Spirit. Connect right now!

Abba, I connect with You right now even as I type these words. May You cause me to bear fruit, increase in knowledge, strengthen me with Your power, and give me endurance and patience along with JOY. May I follow You, Jesus, more closely, listen more intently, shine more brightly, urge more insistently, love more completely, and long for Your Coming more fervently. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Until that day, may I be Your light wherever You lead me. Amen.

Proverbs 29 3-29-21

Our sin nature wants to fight Jesus for control of our lives. His Spirit will help us relinquish control to Him–if we are willing.

10 The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity and seek to kill the upright.
20b “If they persecuted me [Jesus], they will persecute you also.”

If we think that the fighting was dirty before, consider this verse from Matthew 26:3, “Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.” What had Jesus said or done that could be that bad? This week, we are going to look at the escalation of Jesus’ attacks on the Jewish leadership. The reason for these attacks was two-pronged. First, Jesus wanted the people to know that the leadership was NOT doing things the way God wanted them to, but were unwilling to change. Second, Jesus was prodding them into killing Him (even while holding out redemption to them; see John 10:38)–it was the Plan all along. Here is the first antagonizing teaching.

A Warning Against Hypocrisy

23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

On the surface, this statement seems innocuous enough, but what the teachers of the law were really doing was putting themselves on an equal plane with Moses. They were interpreting the Law according to their own designs. They had rules to control people while they answered to a different set of rules that they made up for themselves. Jesus called them on one of these rules in Mark 7:9-12, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” Jesus then turned the people’s attention to the motives of the teachers of the law:

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries [boxes containing Scripture verses, worn on forehead and arm] wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

To them, it was all a big ego trip. To Jesus, they were either hired hands who didn’t care for the sheep (John 10:12-13) or actual wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). Now, He gives the correct position to have:

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 

The terms, “Rabbi (Teacher),” “Father,” and “Instructor,” are all terms that the religious leaders adored. Lest we get the impression that we are not to use these terms at all, we must understand that a disciple of the Rabbis were to receive and accept whatever the Rabbi taught without question. The other terms carried the same weight. Jesus was saying that they all have one Teacher, Father, and Instructor–Him. Very soon, He would come to live in His believers so that He would abide in them and direct their every step. When? At Pentecost and the Coming of the Holy Spirit. We, too, have that same Spirit in us. Jesus teaches us, and His Father is our Father; the Spirit instructs us and leads each of us as our Partner, our Guide, as one who walks with us every step of the way. We are all His children and on equal footing with Him.

There is nothing too trivial about which He is concerned for us. Why do we fight Him so? The next two verses hold the key to our stubbornness and also the secret to success:

11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

In Jesus’ kingdom, humility trumps pride. In fact, pride undermines all of Christ’s attributes of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It’s not so much that the Father reprimands those who exalt themselves; He doesn’t have to. They will destroy themselves. Likewise, the “reward” for humility is to be loved and adored by those around them. It’s built in!

May we learn to “humble ourselves in the sight of the LORD, and He will lift us up (James 4:10).”

Abba, may this week be special to us as we read Your Word and articles, listen to teachings and sermons, and watch videos and shows to gain a greater perspective about this special week. If I were to choose something to allow to consume me, it would be learning about this holy week. It is the greatest week in history! Show me more, Lord Jesus. This inquiring mind wants to know. Amen.

Proverbs 29 1-29-21

Mary Magdalene was the poster child for humanity. We all need His healing.

6 Evildoers are snared by their own sin, but [those made] righteous sing for joy and are glad.

In the second episode of “The Chosen,” Mary Magdalene was talking to Nicodemus about her healing. Nic asked her how could this be; she replied, “I do not know, but this I do know: I was one way, but now I am completely different, and the only thing in between was Him [Jesus].”

How about us? Were we one way and now are we completely different? We may say, “but I didn’t have seven demons living in me.” Actually, we have something much worse: our flesh! Beth Moore says that her own flesh is twice the enemy Satan ever thought about being! Even the apostle Paul fought a losing battle with his sin nature,

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. Romans 7:15, 18-20.

Paul then gives us the answer to his—and our—plight:

24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

What came between how we were and how we are now? Jesus! I don’t see how anyone can meet Jesus, trusting Him for salvation, and walk away unchanged. Even today, as we spend time with Him in prayer and Bible study, as we walk along life’s road with Him, we are transformed. In fact, it is the very point of our salvation to become just like Jesus.

Let’s live the transformed life as we continually acknowledge and yield to the presence of Christ in our hearts and lives.

Abba, I was young when I met You, but I knew right away that I was different because You had come to live in me. Even today, I am changing, becoming more and more like You in true righteousness and holiness as I put off the old self and put on Your new self (Ephesians 4:22-24). May I never quit allowing You to transform me into Your image. Amen.

Proverbs 29 12-29-20

Jesus turned to me and said, “My Father loves you so much that He sent Me so that you could have eternal life with Me.”

18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. The revelation is the LORD speaking directly to us; the restraint is godliness and casting it off leads to destruction. Wisdom’s instruction is this: “to believe in the one He [God] has sent.” John 6:29.

People shouldn’t be surprised when I say that Jesus talks to me regularly, even constantly. EVERY CHRISTIAN has this opportunity. There IS a learning curve to understanding:

  1. We must learn to recognize that He is talking to us,
  2. We must understand the lingo–there is a vocabulary that we need to learn,
  3. We must know the things He is likely to say to us–and NOT say to us. For instance, God convicts, but never condemns with His words to us. Ex. God says, “You just lied. Repent now.” Satan says, “You just lied. You’re a bad person; you are dirty and will never be clean!”

The Word of God, a.k.a. the Bible, is our link to God, our guidebook, reference manual, and primer for knowing God. HE wrote it so that we can know Him better and so that we’re all on the same page, so to speak, concerning His character and His Plan. Problems arise when people make much of the words and forget to consult the Author. I would like to introduce a unique way of thinking about the Word of God. I read it in a book recently. It is from The 49th Mystic by Ted Dekker, page 208:

“I…I have the second riddle,” I said.
“Riddle? You mean the finger.”
“Finger? No, a riddle. A clue.”
“We call it a finger. It points the way, like a finger that points to the sun. It isn’t the sun, it only points to it. Like Scriptures. They aren’t the Word; the Word is Justin [Jesus]. The Scriptures only point to the Word. Remember, set your eyes on what is unseen, not on the finger itself. If you focus all of your attention on the finger, it will block your sight of that to which it points. In this way the letter–that is, Scripture–kills, but the Spirit gives life, as written.”

For instance, when I read John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that anyone who believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life,” I understand that Jesus came to pay the penalty for my sin. But, it’s not until I hear His voice say to me, “My Father loves you so much that He sent Me so that you could have eternal life with Me,” that I begin to comprehend the passion, the fervor, the LOVE that is behind those words. When He talks to me, I EXPERIENCE Scripture–I experience CHRIST! Now, you know why I have made it my life’s ambition to know the Bible. It’s Christ’s lingo; it’s His vocabulary. When I study the Jewish sacrificial system, I no longer see just dead animals and macabre sacrifices. I see a foretelling of the sacrifice that Christ would make on the cross for me. All of a sudden, it’s personal. I feel remorse for the necessity of Him having to leave heaven to do that for me, but I also feel overwhelming gratitude that He did!

John 3:16 is just one example. If we let Him, He will speak to us in EVERY verse–even the Old Testament. My personal life passage that I read EVERY morning is,

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

Psalm 73:23-26

Not, “He is always with me,” but I am always with HIM! He holds my hand! He guides me with His counsel–WOW! And He promises to take me to be with Him in glory. Does it get any better than that? What do I care about this world? What is there here that would keep me from Him? There are many loved ones in heaven, but He is the ONE that I desire to see, to kneel at His pierced feet, and say, “Thank You, Jesus.” My heart and my flesh (my sinful nature causes me to) fail, but God is the strength of my heart, and He will finish what He has begun in me. He is my portion, my stake, my allotment, my inheritance forever. When I read these words, I am speaking what He has revealed to my soul. It is truth on a level that goes WAY BEYOND intellect. It’s personal.

Today, pick up your Bible and read; expect Him to speak to You through what you read. Ponder it; apply it; ask Him about it, and then wait for insight and understand to enter your heart. Don’t believe it can happen? Then, read Proverbs 2. Oh, and shoot me a text about what God says to you…!

Abba, I pray that You would open up the minds and hearts of Your children as they open up Your Scriptures. You thought enough of us to write down what You think of us–if we would only take the time and make the effort to read it for ourselves! I know You have loved me with an everlasting love,” just as You loved Israel. I glory in that love, O LORD. May we feel Your excitement when we read Your Scriptures; may we bask in Your presence and drink in Your wisdom and knowledge. Know our hearts, O God. We are Your children! Amen.

Proverbs 29 11-29-20

The onion was peeled back a little further for me. I stepped back another step. From my journal yesterday morning:

2 When the righteous thrive [righteousness thrives in us], the people [we] rejoice; when the wicked rule [wickedness rules over us], the people [we] groan.

“Abba, I praise You and thank You for the

Ever-Transforming Power of Your Love!

I realize that Your mercies are new each and every morning (Lamentations 3:19-24) because Your love is ever-transforming me. The old is wasting away, but inwardly I am being renewed day by day, moment by moment (2 Corinthians 4:16-18), ever-becoming transformed.

I am constantly, eternally, a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). You WILL be faithful to complete the process You began in me (Philippians 1:6) because it’s not as much WHAT YOU DO as it is WHO YOU ARE. Your presence in my life IS the transforming power of Your love. Even when I sin, You are with me, so I am still being renewed. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like to sin: It messes with my awareness of newness. I begin to believe the lies that maybe You don’t love me anymore because I can’t seem to not sin, that I’m not renewed: I’m dirty, filthy, unworthy, worthless, and unable–or unwilling–to be redeemed. With each accusation comes a chain with a clasp, and in my weakness and deception, I put them on (allow them to be put on)–but then, Christ reaches over and takes them off! I am free! Whole! Complete in Christ! I am NEW! Every time! ALL the time! And I REJOICE!!! Thank You, LORD Jesus. May You be forever praised! Amen.”

Learning to think this way is what the
victorious Christian life is all about.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul tells us about our upcoming bodies, bodies that have NO SIN NATURE! Until then, he tells us this:

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Paul began his letter to the Corinthians with this revelation:

He [Christ] will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ [which is a coming Day, but also every day in our hearts]God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

The MYSTERY of the GOSPEL of the KINGDOM of CHRIST is “Christ in us, the hope of glory (2 Corinthians 1:27),” but it’s more than that. It’s BETTER than that. It’s ALL that comes with His presence, which is godliness, or, GOD-IN-US. It starts NOW. Did you feel it? There. It happened again. Did you feel it that time? How about now? Are you excited, yet? Now? Keep working at recognizing it!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they will catch the same vision I did. It’s all there in Your Word. May You prompt them to read it for themselves and appropriate it in their own lives. Bless us as we meet in Your name, whether physically or virtually. Amen.

Proverbs 29 10-29-20

We need to get our heads on straight. We must seek righteousness if we would have any hope of God blessing us.

2 When the righteous [those seeking after God and His righteousness] thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked [those who seek to serve themselves] rule, the people groan.
16 When the wicked thrive, so does sin, but the righteous will see their downfall. God will ultimately have His way.
18 Where there is no revelation [discipline, correction from the LORD], people cast off restraint [of moral codes]; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.

To think that our vote is not a moral one is ludicrous. The party that wins the election will spend the next four years putting into place their own idea of morality. If the wicked take power, then God’s judgment will come upon us by Him stepping back and allowing the natural consequences of our sinful decisions to take effect. Thankfully, He uses even those consequences to call us back to Him. He even tells us ahead of time what will take place!

For instance, those who do not seek the LORD but follow the designs of their own hearts (cast off restraint), will garner everything they can to lead back to themselves. Whether it’s money, power, pleasure, or any other false god, they will point everything back to them. These actions will surely make the people groan!

Sheep are easily led. If a stubborn sheep gets up and walks away from the flock, other sheep will follow just because (they don’t need a reason). They are naturally inclined toward evil (to rebel and do their own thing).

We are sheep.

Unless we are under the Good Shepherd’s care, we are unprotected from wolves (and other stubborn sheep). Let us pray that God would give us the right leader(s) who will follow the conviction of the Spirit and lead us into righteousness.

From John 10:
14 “I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”
27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

Abba, spending time with You means acknowledging Your presence in our lives and focusing on You. Our best opportunity is when we read Your Word. May You move us beyond our “don’t-want-to” attitude (that we ALL have) and motivate us to read and listen. Speak to us, O LORD. We need to hear from You. Amen.

Proverbs 29 9-29-20

We are told to confess our sins to God and to one another. Why? What good does it do to admit wrongs? Plenty!

6 Evildoers are snared by their own sin, but the righteous sing/shout for joy and are glad.

16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

“Confession is good for the soul.” In what way? There’s something concrete about saying things out loud. In fact, it’s why we are not to just spout out whatever comes into our minds. We are to filter those thoughts, taking them captive to Christ Jesus. “Discretion is the better part of valor.” Also, knowing that we will have to give an account to someone is a pretty big deterrent. We COULD lie, but the Holy Spirit inside us turns on some pretty hot conviction if we do that; besides, then we would have to confess THAT sin, as well, plus live with whatever consequences it causes.

When confessing to God, understand that we’re not telling Him anything that He doesn’t already know. We are simply agreeing with Him that what we did was sin. We have missed the mark of righteousness, holiness, and perfection. Now, when you read “perfection,” did you snort? Think about it: If we truly lived by the Spirit, walking closely with the LORD, believing everything He told us, and doing exactly what He said how He said to do it exactly when He told us to do it, then we would be perfect (whole, well-rounded, complete, mature), too. Christ was. We, also, have that possibility. In fact, it’s what Christ is teaching us day by day. In the meantime, how does God see us?

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

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

24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling/falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault [blameless] and with great joy—Jude 1:24

10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:10-11

So, to sum up, God sees us as righteous, holy and faultless, upright (not stumbling), blameless and joyful, with no condemnation. I like that, NO CONDEMNATION! Want to read it? Here it is:

Therefore, NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

Wow! When we confess to God, it’s really for US to see where we went wrong and to allow Him to fix us. Remember that sin destroys us, but He wants to give us life, abundant life [John 10:10]. All we have to do is come to Him and He will give it–pressed down, shaken together, running over [Luke 6:38-the principle is actually in giving, but when we give Him our hearts and lives, He gives us His heart, and life more abundantly]! So, let’s start confessing and receive His heart and His life!!!

Abba, You’re the only Person I know that makes confessing “fun.” I give You the bad, ugly, distasteful things in my life and You give me love, joy, peace, and then bless me with all kinds of blessings. I know that as long as I am honest with You and work at being like You that I am “bless-able,” and I don’t have to dread Your discipline. But when You do have to discipline me, I thank You for disciplining me because it lets me know You love me (Hebrews 12:5-8). I love You. Amen.

Proverbs 29 8-29-20

The only way to know God is first-hand. Anything else is hearsay. But, it takes a humble heart to come to Him.

23 Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.

Aaron’s sons burned unauthorized fire to the LORD. We read about it in Numbers 3:4. What’s the deal?! Evidently, they offered an incense offering to the LORD in the same manner that they would offer incense to one of the gods of Egypt. God was very specific about how to approach Him because of His holiness and their sinfulness. They had not been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, yet; the judgement of their sin was postponed until Christ took it to the cross and then the grave! In the meantime, God provided a way for them to approach Him by covering their sin with the blood of animals. Notice that their sins were covered; ours, through Christ, are forgiven, our record expunged, and our sins carried away as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:11-12).  

With this background laid, let’s talk about us. We have power in prayer. Do we use it in an unauthorized fashion when we assume that our prayers change circumstances and affect outcomes?

How IS prayer effective? “The prayers of a righteous person avail much” James 5:16. Can we “tip the scales” of a situation? Is the enemy thwarted? Do we “change God’s mind?” Or, does God have plans according to our prayers? When we participate by praying, does God enact what is dormant? Inactive? Does prayer unlock what is locked up? Is the Spirit waiting on us to come along so that we can participate with Him? Occasionally, I will read where God says, “ There was no one to act, so I acted by my right hand” (Isaiah 63:5). Is it because He prefers to include us in His activities?

I think so. He is ALL ABOUT the relationship. But, thinking that I have power to effect change, i.e. healings, salvations, outcomes, etc. is unauthorized fire. I am to pray for God to do what is best. I am to pray that the Holy Spirit is released. I am to pray that the enemy would be bound. I am to pray for healing. I am to pray for salvation. I am to pray that we bask in His presence. THIS is authorized fire. God wants to work and WILL work, but He also wants to include us in what He is doing and for us to allow Him to “part the seas,” so to speak, something that we would have never thought of.

In Experiencing God page 11, Henry Blackaby starts the seven truths of his study with:

God is always at work around you.

The second one is very important for us to know:

God pursues a continuing love relationship with you
that is real and personal.

And the third one, which is the crux of the book, is:

God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.

Let’s join God in what He is doing, which means that we don’t dictate to God what He is to do. We can ask, but we always answer like Jesus, “According to Your will be done.” Then, we watch God work amazing things first in us, and then those around us.

Abba, may I take my own advice here. You KNOW the desires of my heart and the constant war that goes on between my desire for You to be exalted in my life and the things I want in this world. May I seek Your face and obey Your voice as I hear You in the Scriptures, in my heart/head, and in others. Just because I cannot see you doesn’t mean that You’re not there. In fact, hearing You the way You speak to me gives me more faith than if You were here face-to-face. May I offer You authorized fire today, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 29 7-29-20

Throughout Christianity, the pendulum has swung for and against us. What will you do if it swings against us again?

6 Evildoers are snared by their own sin, but the righteous sing/shout for joy and are glad.
10 The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity and seek to kill the upright.

I have been reading about the early Christians of the second and third centuries. They didn’t have Bibles at that time. They may have a copy of a letter or part of a Gospel. The Jews kept the Tanach (Old Testament) to themselves. So, the early Christians would put their doctrine (basic biblical beliefs) into poetic form, song, and creed.

In that day, when a person said that he or she was a Christian, the term carried a very specific connotation. One did not adopt the term lightly, for it spoke of a belief system, a lifestyle, and faith that were contradictory to everyone and everything else around them. It would get a person ostracised if not beaten or killed. I began to wonder what I would do if I were locked up in a cell for several days or weeks until my sentencing or release. So, I wrote down my beliefs based upon Scripture in creed form so I would have something to remember and to recite to myself and anyone who would listen.  I’ve been working on this a few days. Let’s see how it works:

I Am a Christian

  • I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Galatians 2:20
  • I believe in Jesus Christ, descended from David, cucified, buried, and risen! 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

I Am a Christian

I Am a Christian

I Am a Christian

I Am a Christian

I Am a Christian

Abba, I pray that I may live up to my own words! May YOUR Word become alive in us as we apply it to our lives. May we memorize it, speak it, and depend on it in good times and in bad. “For richer or poorer, for good times and bad, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others I cleave to You,” LORD. I am SO GLAD that those marriage vows differ at the next part, “til death do us part.” Instead, THAT’S when we get to GO BE WITH YOU! You are wonderful, Jesus. Thank You, Abba, for sending Your Son. And thank You for the blessed Holy Spirit through whom I pray right now. Amen.


Proverbs 29 6-29-20

We are our own worst enemy. All the devil has to do is mention something we like and we’re off!

6 Evildoers are snared by their own sin, but he righteous shout/sing for joy and are glad.

Satan doesn’t make us do anything. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit living in us. The only way he can influence us is if we give him permission. How do we do that? By believing him over Jesus. That’s effectively what we do when we choose his option of sin over the LORD’s option of righteousness. Hence, Salvation Test #9:

Test #9 Do we believe God enough to do what He says?

1 John 3:24 says, “The one who keeps God’s commands 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.”

Let’s review: God’s command to us is to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ (John 6:29), and to love one another as He commanded us (John 13:34-35). But, how do we tell who is whispering to us? By testing the spirits! Whether it’s a real person who is giving us bogus information or a devil whispering in our ears, they still have to pass this test:

Do they acknowledge that Jesus is who He says He is
and did what He said He would do?

Now, this is not one of the Salvation tests. It’s to be able to tell the voice of God from all the other voices that vie for our attention. 1 John 4:2 says, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus [for who He is and what He has done] is not from God.” Jesus came in the flesh to be the sin sacrifice for us on the cross; three days later, He rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of the Father (Acts 5:30-31).

Because of the Spirit of Jesus Christ Who lives in our hearts, we have overcome any spirit that would otherwise control us (1 John 4:4). All we have to do is believe that Jesus is the Answer for us today. Nothing else. Just Him. Let’s choose Him and His option for righteousness believing that He has something much better–NOW and in store for us–than this world has to offer. His PEACE and PRESENCE are worth more than all the possessions and thrills this world can afford!

Abba, I pray that You will drive the lesson of believing You deep in our hearts. Each time we sin, please hammer this lesson home again. Thank You that You do not hold our sin against us anymore, but You use it to teach us to trust You. Wow! That’s huge!!! Teach us to trust You WITHOUT sinning first. Then, we truly will be good, righteous and holy (Ephesians 5:9). More of You, less of us, LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 29 5-29-20

We are on #5 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?

We are designed to create, but not by ourselves.
The Spirit wants to create with us!

18 Where there is no revelation [communication with the LORD], people cast off restraint [ go their own way; any way but God’s way is evil]; but blessed is the one who heeds [discerns and obeys] wisdom’s [the Spirit’s] instruction.

Based upon Acts 27:1-28:10.

Paul was headed to Rome. The ship that he, Luke, Aristarchus, and a few others, were on tried to make it to a safe port for winter. A Northeaster blew them west all the way to Malta, where they all made it to land safely, as was prophesied by Paul: Paul, Luke, Aristarchus, the centurion and soldiers, and the crew–276 in all. The interesting part is the interaction of the Spirit through this entire episode:

  1. Paul had a word from the Spirit that a trip beyond where they were would end in disaster (v.9-10). Paul was used to getting nudges and insights like this one. In fact, Jesus Himself unveiled His Plan to reach the Gentiles and the consummation of the ages to him (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). The Spirit also prevented him from going into Asia and Bithynia, and spoke to him in a dream about going over to Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10).
  2. Even the angels wanted to get in on what was going on (v. 23-24). When Jesus said, “I am making all things new (Revelation 21:5),” He was talking about WITH US. It’s a partnership where everything we do with the Spirit is NEW. The Spirit could have done all the things that Paul did, but it wouldn’t be new. It had to be with Paul. The interaction is primary. They were a team.
  3. Paul heard again from the Spirit in verse 31 about how to have the best outcome during the storm. There was a lot of obedience going on. We have to assume that the word, “unless,” infers there are multiple outcomes, all depending upon obedience or disobedience. The centurion chose well.
  4. Paul’s faith was in the promise from the Spirit that he would testify in Rome (v. 24). So, what did he do? He broke bread and gave thanks, and encouraged all of them to eat (v. 34-36).
  5. Paul didn’t even care when he got bitten by the snake (28:3). The end result of that episode was all the sick on the island came to him and were cured (v. 8-9). Probably lots of salvations, too. The natives honored them and sent them off with everything they needed (v. 10).

In our lives, the Spirit wants to interact with us in the same way. Everything we do in obedience and in partnership with the Spirit is first of all eternal (it carries into eternity as a good work and could quite possibly be involved in someone’s salvation), and is secondly the synthesis of something new. Right now, I am writing this lesson. The Spirit could dictate to me what to write, but then it would be His and not ours. I could write it FOR Him, but then it would be mine and not ours. If I write it under His influence and prompting, it still comes from my mind and hand (personality) while I am being directed by Him to include certain things, turn certain phrases, and be doctrinally correct. NOW it is OURS.

When it comes to writing songs, we write them together. Most are just for the LORD and are one-timers. Some I keep for personal pleasure and praise. A few I have shared publicly. It just depends upon the application for each song. It is something we do together.

Conversations with friends, work that we do around the house or at work, and even our play time is designed to be done with Him as a partnership. He is with us 24/7 ON PURPOSE! We are always creating something new with Him–provided we include Him in what we are doing. Remember the word, “Unless…” There are multiple outcomes to every opportunity. If we choose Him, we may witness the calming of a sea, the feeding of 5,000+ people, the healing of a blind man, or even survive a shipwreck!

Instead of worrying about whether He is pleased with us (or disappointed with us–which He’s not), let’s start including Him in what we are doing. I promise you will find life and following the LORD much more interesting.

Abba, I praise You for Your all-encompassing plan! You didn’t just save us for our own sake, but for fellowship, partnership, and communion. Being with us and in us is what You had in mind all along! May I capitalize on Your “residency” and enjoy You today. Thank You for getting me up so early. I have enjoyed the extra time with You. Send a fresh wind and a fresh fire upon Your people, O LORD. Amen.