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.

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.