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.

Proverbs 29 4-29-20

The good news is that Jesus is coming soon. The bad news is that things will get worse before they get better.

1 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed–without remedy.

Whether it’s resisting the Gospel or insisting that things must happen a certain way, it’s not my way or your way that matters, but HIS WAY. I’m a Pro-millennialist; whatever Jesus wants to do, I’m for it! I see validation for a pre-tribulation rapture, a mid-tribulation rapture, and a post-tribulation rapture. There simply isn’t enough concrete evidence in Scripture to give a definitive answer. I know which one I WANT to be true: The pre-tribulation rapture. I see it in the statement about the Restrainer being removed from the earth to give the antichrist the freedom to maneuver. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7

It is also true that the antichrist could function in an official capacity without revealing himself as the world leader until the temple in Jerusalem is built. We find in Daniel 9:27, which Jesus references in Matthew 24:15 and Paul explains in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, that the building of the temple will begin when a peace agreement is brokered by the antichrist between the Muslims and the Jews; it marks the seven years of tribulation and begins the countdown to Christ’s Return (see Daniel 9:27). The temple will take 3.5 years to build, at which time the antichrist will set up his throne in the temple and rule the world from there for 3.5 years. His “Coming Out” has been suggested to mean that the rapture will happen at this time and the Restrainer removed.

The only real evidence for a rapture of any kind is in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, at which time both the dead in Christ and those alive at Christ’s Return will join Him in the air as He goes to the Mount of Olives (see Acts 1:10-11 and Zechariah 14:4) for His Victory over His enemies (Revelation 19:19-21) and His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (see Zechariah 14:5b, 9, and 16-17).

As we can see, there are good arguments for each case. It doesn’t really matter. When our time comes to stand for Christ, WE WILL BE READY. Christ will have made us so. There is an assumption here: That we all are reading His Word and studying the Scriptures to learn all we can, that we are meeting together regularly–well, as regularly as we can at the present time–and discussing matters, filling out timelines and prophecies for each other, and holding each other accountable unto the Lord, learning all we can about our future home, and preparing to give the ultimate sacrifice if all upon to do so.

The best verse for us today is:

They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death. Revelation 12:11

In order for every person to have the choice to accept and receive Christ or to reject Him requires all of us being willing to take that choice to them. If one rejects the Gospel and kills us, we can pray for others who might be watching that the Spirit would convict their hearts because of our faith and they would repent and come to Christ–maybe even our executioners! The secret to not being afraid is to know what is in store for all of us. That subject is for a future post.

If you are scared of the future, of dying, of pain, or the possibility of watching family members being persecuted for their faith, then I urge you to cry out to God to show you the secrets of heaven and His Plan (they are hidden in His Word), and for Him to comfort you with His Presence, His Participation, His Protection, and His Power in your life. If we all seek Him in this manner, we all will experience REVIVAL in our lives!

Abba, the future is terrifying if we envision it without You in it. But, You are the KEY to our future! One way or the other, we will get to stand in Your presence and worship You forever–as well as serve You in Your temple, reign with You by managing Your estate (the new earth), and exploring Your new universe! Exciting times await us, Lord. May we find out all we can and be ready for the day of testing. I take great courage from Your promise to the church at Smyrna when You told them, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” Revelation 2:10 May I be as brave as Antipas, who gave his life for your name’s sake (Revelation 2:13). I love You, Lord, with my heart and with my life. Amen! Come, Lord Yeshua! (Revelation 22:20).

Proverbs 29 3-29-20

Want to hear from Jesus? It’s simple, really. Turn away from self and turn to Him. Be a son, not a servant.

19 Servants cannot be corrected by mere words; though they understand, they will not respond.

It’s all about attitude. What’s in your heart? Pride? Arrogance? Sloth (laziness)? Malice? Unforgiveness? Lust? Greed? Some measure of all of the above?! Me, too. Why? Because God made us with the capacity to love, give selflessly, and to depend upon His Spirit for power and control. These negative feelings are what happen in our hearts when we don’t have the Holy Spirit guiding us.

The capacity for great love comes with the risk of great transgression.

Jesus had high regard for His disciples. Listen to what He told them:

14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other. John 15:14-17

So, what it boils down to is how we want to be viewed by Jesus: as servants or sons. Ladies, you have been moved to “son-status” by Jesus. In Him, “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We have been called His friends–more than that, we have been made His brothers and sisters!

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba [Daddy], Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:14-17

Do we cry out, “Abba, Father?” Do we share in His sufferings? Do we do as Paul did, “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27?

Today, let us be intentional about our worship. Let us come before Him with purposeful praise and thanksgiving. Let us read His Word and bless Him for it. Let us take His words to heart and apply them to our lives. Let us love and give selflessly and allow the Holy Spirit to guard and guide our lives. LET’S HAVE CHURCH!

Abba, may Your Spirit have His way in our hearts and lives. I wish my life had a “backspace” button, but it doesn’t, so I reckon I’ll have to learn from my mistakes, deal with the fallout, and trust You to help me avoid making the same mistakes again. You call me, “friend,” so I KNOW You know my tendencies–yet, You love me anyway. In fact, the Bible says You’re crazy about me (I have loved you with an everlasting love-Jeremiah 31:3)! May I never take that love for granted. Calm my heart, LORD. Fill my spirit with Your love, joy, peace, hope and grace. May I feast on Your truth and may I receive Your abundant life as I walk in step with You today. Amen.

NOTE: Join me on YouTube at OKC Brookwood. Our service is at 9:30, but you may watch whenever you like.

NOTE 2: I am doing a “Sunday’s Cool” (Sunday School) lesson at 11 on Facebook live. Go to my Facebook page and join me!

Proverbs 29 2-29-20

Knowing that we will be blessed (or judged) according to decisions made on this earth, let’s be about the Father’s business!

18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
    but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s [God’s] instruction.

When we go about our lives with heaven in mind, it changes the way we operate. For instance, being the hands and feet of Christ in this world will have eternal blessings for us and the people we help. 7 “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” But, if we are not interested in doing God’s will and helping those in need, then we can expect to be “rewarded” in this world (keeping everything focused on us), but only in this world. There will be nothing to carry over into heaven.

Jesus put it like this:

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.” Matthew 6:2 (there is also the passage about the rich man and Lazarus: Luke 16:19-31)

So, what should we keep in mind when thinking about heaven? There are two things:

  1. Him! Our Heavenly Father! Jesus Himself! The Spirit Within! One of my favorite Psalms is 73, particularly these verses:

21 When my heart was grieved [He knows our trials and struggles]
    and my spirit embittered, [He understands our feelings]
22 I was senseless and ignorant; [when I did not know the way or the why’s]
    I was a brute beast before you. [or a three-year-old]

23 Yet I am always with you; [notice that WE are with HIM]
    you hold me by my right hand. [dominant hand; I am left-handed]
24 You guide me with your counsel, [the Holy Spirit]
    and afterward you will take me into glory[HERE IS OUR PROMISE!]
25 Whom have I in heaven but you[Pure praise!]
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you. [Oh, were this so in our hearts]
26 My flesh and my heart may fail, [both physically and emotionally]
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever[Asaph’s declaration of dependence upon the LORD]

 

The second thing is what life will be like during the Millenial Reign, which we will cover tomorrow (not enough time and space today).

For today, let us make the same Declaration of Dependence that Asaph did. Let’s make God the strength of our hearts and our portion forever. Let us serve Him knowing that what we do here on this earth makes a BIG difference over there.

Abba, You know I don’t work for rewards in heaven, except for Your words of affirmation. At the same time, You promise me the riches of heaven. Oh, to know You in Your fullness will be enough for me! Even so, “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into my heart all that You have prepared for me, because I love You.” (1 Corinthians 2:9). I can hardly wait, LORD! It makes me study even harder to get a glimpse of what it will be like. Open my mind to Your Plan, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 29 1-29-20

We are not Christians by default; if we don’t seek His face and read His Word routinely, we will eventually wander.

18 Where there is no revelation (from Him), people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction (from His Word).

Christianity is proactive. We must keep moving onward, keep advancing upward, and keep striving to know Him. Jesus gave three illustrations about our intentions in Matthew 6:

#1: 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 

Treasures do not come to us by their own volition. We must search them out. The man who found the treasure in the field went and sold all he had in order to obtain the field (Matthew 13:44). We must be intentional about storing up the right things in our hearts.

#2: 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 

What we see and watch makes all the difference in what we think about. If we fill it with darkness, such as TV shows full of violence, sex, and filthy language, then we can expect those things to be what we think about. If the music we listen to is about worldly romance and drinking and carousing, then we can expect to think the same way.

#3 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon [greedy pursuit of gain and wealth, or anything that one treasures more than God].

We must make up our minds–sometimes every morning, or even several times a day! We must ask ourselves each time we are confronted with a choice, “Who am I going to serve?” Hopefully, we choose to serve the LORD. But, this decision isn’t as easy as it sounds. Unless we have a solid base, a foundation built on a close relationship with Him and His teachings, we will be swayed by the devil’s deceitful lies. Adam and Eve were lead astray–and they were perfect and in perfect circumstances! What makes us think we stand a chance of not being led astray (besides our own arrogance)?

Jesus tells us how to choose wisely through this parable in Matthew 7:

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

We hear His words by reading them in His Book and by asking Him what it means and listening to what He says, and then applying it to our lives.

Let’s not allow Satan to steal our joy, our peace, and our testimony. Let’s be victorious today by turning to the Savior for strength and conviction, for advice and guidance; may He be our Source of joy, our Source of love, and our Source of peace. Where did I find all this great advice? IN THE WORD OF GOD!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would connect with You and stay connected with You throughout today. May they come to understand that we cannot float through life and expect to end up on heaven’s shores. We must be intentional about following You, keeping You in our sights and staying as close to You as we possibly can. You constantly tell us, “Come on! Keep trying! I’ve got you!” Thank You, LORD, for Your encouraging words and tender mercies. I crave them. Amen.

Proverbs 29 12-29-19

The Gospel remains constant, but our delivery must be tailored to our audience. What is their greatest need?

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

The one who brings it is doubly blessed.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7

And so, I try again to put together a salvation presentation. This time, I am emphasizing the attributes that only God can give, like love, joy, peace, hope and grace.

Where do you find love? How about peace and joy? Hope? At the end of the day, who loves you? God does. He’s crazy about you! He loves you so much that He came to earth in human form to win you back. From what? From the chains of sin and death, and from Satan.

Your rebellious nature, your independent spirit, has put you in the enemy’s camp. You are an enemy of God–yet, He died in your place on the cross. He took your sins, your shame, your punishment and your death upon Himself and took it to the grave.

But wait–there’s more. After the accepted time of death (3 days), He rose from the grave! He now sits back on His throne by God the Father and extends new life to you. He wants to rise in your heart just as He did from the grave!

Do you feel Him confirming what I have told you? Do you sense Him calling you to believe that He is who He said He is, which is the Son of God, that He did what He said He would do, which was to die in your place and then rise again, and that He will do what He says He will do: He will come into your heart and life and bring His love that overwhelms, His joy that overflows, His peace that passes all understanding, His hope in a new life and an even better life after this one, and His grace to pardon every sin–past, present and future!

He wants to be your constant companion and to teach you to be like Him. He wants to make you a part of His family with God as your Father and Himself as your brother. In fact, you will become part of His spiritual family, which includes all followers of Jesus Christ, like me!

Will you receive Him now:

    1. Address Him.
    2. Let go of the things of this world that are keeping you in bondage; give all you know of yourself to all you know of Him.
    3. Pledge your life to Him from this point forward to live with Him and for Him as lord of your life everyday.
    4. Thank Him for saving you and for coming to live in you.

Welcome to the family!

It is good for us to review the plan of salvation from time to time. It keeps us fresh concerning our own decision to follow Him and it keeps us honed for when we are called upon by the Spirit to present it.

Abba, I pray that we all will have opportunities to share the Good News. May You give those opportunities. I know that You will be confirming in their hearts the message You want them to hear. May we be bold; may we be desperate to snatch souls back from the fire! I am reminded of this passage from Proverbs 24:

10 If you falter in a time of trouble [which is usually an opportunity to share the Gospel],
    how small is your strength!
11 Rescue those being led away to death;
    hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
    Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

May I not be timid concerning sharing the Gospel, O Lord. I want to do Your will. Give me opportunities! I will be looking for them. Amen.

 

Proverbs 29 11-29-19

We would do well to measure our spiritual wealth against our worldly wealth–not opposed, but different.

3 A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.

Or,

A person who wants to think like God and enjoy what He enjoys brings joy to the Spirit within, and therefore to the Father and the Son, but a person who spends everything–time, resources, brain cells–on pleasure has exchanged any spiritual value for the fleeting pleasures of this life.

Satan knows how to enslave us because we are easily led by our passions and our lusts, i.e. DESIRE. We can’t get past our momentary feelings. If we could just learn to step back for one minute–even 15 seconds–before reacting or deciding, we would allow the initial rush of adrenaline or dopamine to pass, thus enabling us to make a rational choice based upon God’s Word and His command to us.

During that minute (or, those 15 seconds), pray to the Lord that He would give you wisdom from above. Turn your thoughts and attention to Him by addressing Him in your mind. Remembering the consequences of potential actions is good, but we should really be about pleasing our Lord and becoming like Him.

If we can suffer through the temptation, we stand to learn and gain so many things:

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

  1. We have peace with God!
  2. We have access to Him by faith;
  3. We stand before Him in His grace;
  4. We boast in the hope of the glory of God (that which is to come);

But wait, there’s more:

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame [is true; we can bank on it], because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

  1. Suffering produces perseverance, which is the ability to withstand temptation. According to 2 Peter 1:6, we are to add perseverance to our self-control. One enables the other.
  2. Perseverance produces character, which is a godly life. God is creating the character of Christ Jesus in us! WOW!
  3. Our hope is in Christ Jesus and His imminent return. He WILL reward us for our faithfulness. Just to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” would be enough for me!
  4. It’s more than that: We have His Spirit in our hearts! God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through Him. HE is the reason that we even WANT TO be holy and righteous, to be like God (godliness). Even as His power works through us to give us what we need in times of suffering and temptation, Jesus is transforming us into His own image.

With all that God is doing in our lives, it almost makes us look for suffering–almost. Instead, we receive whatever comes from His hand according to His will for our lives, which brings about the most amazing thing: Intimate fellowship with Christ.

Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy. Proverbs 14:10. God reserves the deepest feelings for Himself.

10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation [and fellowship with Him] in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death [poured out; we are buried with Christ], 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead [we are raised to walk in newness of life because of Him]. Philippians 3:10-11

Let’s take advantage of every situation to become more like Jesus. It makes suffering worthwhile.

Abba, when I ask you to make me like You, I fully understand that suffering is involved. I also know that to reach people for You (according to Your leadership) will mean suffering at the hands of those who do not want to know You. So be it. My life is Yours, Lord. Live through me. Amen.

 

Proverbs 29 10-29-19

The beauty of a daily walk with the Lord is that we have only today about which to be concerned.

17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.

Daily discipline brings about godliness in our lives. The process is called SANCTIFICATION, which means, “set apart.” God sets apart TODAY in which to interact with us, to refine us, to mold us and make us and shape us into the image of Christ. TODAY is when He is hands-on with us.

Most of the time, He uses circumstances as object lessons in which He calls certain things to our attention. As we walk with Him, we hear His voice just over our shoulder as He makes a point about something or someone. What does He say? It is always true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). It is always patient and kind, it is never rude or dishonoring, but is always protective and trusting (1 Cor. 13:4-6).

Jesus said in Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In the same chapter, He told us to “(33) seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (34) Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble [anxiety, strife, problems, tasks] of its own.”

The LORD is Omnipresent, which means that He is always in the present. He wants us to live that way, too. For instance, when we forecast the future, “I’ll tell him, but he won’t believe it,” we speak out of turn for someone. We really have no idea what that person will say. It’s according to how the LORD leads that person at that moment. The person may not even know that he is being directed by the Spirit! We must be concerned with what the Spirit is telling us to do RIGHT NOW, today.

Often, I find that what He tells me to do has to do with the future. He directs me to make plans while following His lead.

For instance, I was reminded by the Spirit and urged to make a call yesterday to a person about a possible date for a presentation. Come to find out, the time I want them to come is a slow time for them and they would be happy to come–and accommodate us in any way we like! To me, the most interesting part of this story is that everytime I thought about making the call last week, I felt a tension (“pay attention to the tension”), so I put it off. Then yesterday morning, I felt the “go ahead” to make the call. He works like that in our lives all the time. His timing is perfect.

As God sets us apart today and gives us today’s bread, let’s focus on becoming like Jesus: Obedient to the Spirit, loving God’s family, and ready to sacrifice our lives for others.

Dear Lord Jesus, I want to be like You. May I be obedient to Your Spirit in all things today; may I love the Body/Bride today in words and deeds; may I be ready and willing to sacrifice my life for the sake of others–in many small ways and even in the BIG ONE. I know that if I am these things today, I will be just like YOU. Sanctify me today, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 29 9-29-19

We’re going to church today. Let’s make sure our lives match up to our words of praise. We wouldn’t want to be hypocritical, would we?

(5) Those who flatter their neighbors are spreading nets for their feet.

This verse deals with ulterior motives. What is it we truly want? What are we really wanting to accomplish? If we direct this verse toward God, do we go to church for the right reasons? What ARE some of those reasons?

  1. To worship corporately, bringing Him praise and adoration while lifting up the name of our God and His Son, Jesus Christ, through the uniting power of the Holy Spirit;
  2. To sit under sound teaching, being encouraged in our daily walk;
  3. To fellowship with other believers and to bear each other up in prayer and in life;
  4. To unite with other Christians around the world in solidarity for the name of Christ;
  5. To be empowered to be evangelical in our walk with Christ, displaying Christ in our lives and taking opportunities as they come to be witnesses for Him.

I’m sure there are others, but these are the ones that came to my mind. The question is, are we going to church for the right reasons? Let’s look at some of the wrong reasons that some people go to church:

  1. To see and be seen. It’s a good business move;
  2. Guilt. We were raised to go and we feel guilty if we don’t;
  3. Status. We want to be considered pillars of the community.
  4. Power and influence. We can wield power over others through manipulation and control using the Word of God and personality.
  5. To obtain God’s favor–little knowing that in Christ they already have it!

Here again, the list can be longer, but these are the obvious ones. We don’t realize that by not examining ourselves, we could be flattering the LORD without realizing it. Flattery means, “insincere praise.” Is THAT why we go to church? Certainly not–I hope!

We would do well to let this verse be our “Sunday Mandate:”

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test? 2 Corinthians 13:5

We can use the above lists to make sure that we are going to church for the right reasons. We need attitudes of thanksgiving and gratitude. Even in sorrow, we gain solace in knowing that He is in control and that He gives mercy and grace in our time of need.

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

Abba, as we meet in Your name today, may we keep in mind that we are there to give You glory, to learn, to lift each other up, and to fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. May we set aside anything that would bring disunity to the body, whether it be attitudes or expectations, history or its lack (not knowing someone). May we be Christ to each other; in this way, we learn to be Christ to others outside of our church family. Bless us today, O LORD, as we meet together and join those already around Your throne. Amen.