Proverbs 30 6-30-21

The separation of church and state is bigger and more catastrophic than we realize! It’s the parting of the ways.

20 This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I’ve done nothing wrong.” This attitude is what is wrong with America today. The majority of Americans have left the Judeo-Christian values on which this nation was built.

There is a passage in the Bible that deals with the relationship between church and state, or the Bride and America. I understand that the analogy is not perfect; Christ is our Bridegroom, not America, but the principle is still the same.

12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.
1 Corinthians 7:12-15

The Puritans and others moved to America to get away from the Church of England so that they could worship the Lord as they saw fit, which was in many ways contrary to what they were forced to do in England. They were Bible-believing, Jesus-worshipping rebels who left the established church to start one of their own in a new land.

When the United States was established, many of the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were Christians, while some were Unitarians, who followed the Judeo-Christian values of the Bible. The Bride of Christ needs no established government in order to survive and even thrive, but the nation needs the Bride of Christ to help it keep its values. The Church sanctifies our nation through these values. God’s laws carry natural consequences and blessings. By abiding by those laws, blessings come, of which our nation has experienced many over the past 200+ years.

The divergence of our nation from these values carries those consequences. One need only to look at Israel to know what happens to a nation who separates itself from God’s laws (Jeremiah 7:17-19, 11:7-8, 19:3-5). By the way, God’s laws are simply the stating of what righteous people do and what unrighteous people do and the subsequent blessings or discipline. People with the Spirit of God have His laws written on our hearts and need no form of government in order to live together. The laws of our land were written for those who are unrighteous and need some kind of outward control. There is no Spirit in them.

As the “husband” rebels against his “believing wife,” he leaves the safety and sanctification that the believing wife provides. It is this rebellion that America is having against the Church, the Bride of Christ. How does this “parting of the ways” affect the Church? Foundationally, not at all. Culturally, it will become more difficult to live in the culture of the world. The Church will have to pull out and become a culture unto itself. Ironically, this counter-culture is exactly how the Christians lived in the first, second and third centuries! Even more ironic is the fact that the Church exploded during those centuries. Why? Because their Christianity was authentic; there was no advantage to be gained by pretending to be a Christian.

I pray that our churches would be filled with authentic Christians. How that may be achieved is up to the Lord. Will you begin the process of removing the world’s culture from your Christianity?

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would begin to remove the world’s culture from their lives. It begins with a simple question, “Lord, what would You have me do first?” From there, I know that You will guide them. I pray that You would continue to do the same in my life. May I replace time-wasters with reading Your Word, Christian books and studies, and time with other Christians. May we do everything we know to do to ignite the flame of revival in our own hearts so that it may spread to others. Purify Your Church, O Lord. Amen.

13 while we wait for the blessed hope—
the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 
14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness 

and to purify for himself a people
that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Titus 2:13-14

Proverbs 30 5-30-21

Get up! We get to go to church! The people of God love to get together and praise our heavenly Father and His Son.

5 “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him [and His word].” from Psalm 12:6, And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times.

Today is about the sermon: Acquiring Knowledge [for Praising God (Instruction from God’s Word). We have discussed Recognition of God’s Character (Adoration), Acknowledgement of Our Character (Confession), and Affirmation of Grace in Christ (Assurance), Expression of Devotion (Thanksgiving), and Desire for Aid in Living for God (Petition and Intercession).

If someone asks you why you believe the Bible, here’s a good answer:

The Bible is God’s revealed word to mankind [truth].
God speaks His word to me in my heart [personal experience].
I have experienced Him through the Bible because I have taken Him at His word,

tested His promises,
and found Him to be Faithful and True [Jesus’ title from Revelation 19:11).

When the pastor speaks to us, we assume that he has spent time in prayer and then in the Bible and has heard from the Spirit a message for us. Concerning my pastor, I can speak of first-hand experience that he does, indeed, spend time in prayer and then in the Bible. He works long and hard on his messages. Sometimes, I even get a preview! I trust him to give us the message that the Spirit has given him.

When we listen, let’s make the most of our opportunity to learn:

  1. Pray for your pastor before he gets up to preach that he would be bold and filled with the Holy Spirit.
  2. Know beforehand what the topic is. Our church has notes; read through them early and know what’s coming.
  3. Listen with an open mind. Allow the Spirit to interpret what you hear.
  4. Have something on which to take notes. Don’t let those nuggets of wisdom and revelation get away from you. Many people have a problem with having phones in church; I don’t. I use mine for my on-the-go Bible and for note-taking. I just have to be careful to keep myself “in the moment” and not let other things on my phone distract me from the sermon.
  5. Write down any questions and look them up later. Ask someone for clarification if necessary.
  6. Talk about the sermon with others at dinner–just be careful not to have “roast pastor” for the main course! We are to “let our conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6); also, we are charged with this command, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29.
  7. Apply what you have heard as the Spirit confirms the message in your heart. If we don’t apply the lesson, then we will have wasted the opportunity to learn and to grow.

The last element is Living unto God with His Blessing (Charge and Benediction). It is best summed up in 2 Corinthians 13:14, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” The charge is the benediction of the service. A good slogan is, “As you go out those doors, you are entering the mission field.” Both of these charges point our minds and hearts to live with God and for others.

As we go to church this morning, let’s get the most out of our worship today by remembering that God is calling us to assemble, we acknowledge Him as God, we confess that we need Him, we tell Him how much we love Him, we listen to the word of God, we pray to the Father, we sing with glad hearts, we listen to the message that God has for us through our pastor, and then we go out in Jesus’ name and power.

Abba, may You be lifted up and magnified today. Enlarge our knowledge base so that we can grow in wisdom. May we experience You in a whole new way. We love You. Amen.

Proverbs 30 4-30-21

When we signed up to follow Jesus, did He really ask us to give up everything for Him? Do anything for Him?Be His for life?

4 Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!

In, The Chosen, Season 1, Episode 2, Mary Magdalene tells Nicodemus, “Of this one thing I am sure. Before, I was one way; afterward, I was another, and the only thing in between was Him [Jesus].”

Mary was giving her testimony. She was telling what Jesus did for her. Without any other training, she gave the best proof for the reality of Jesus. Nicodemus could have argued with her about the law, but he couldn’t ignore her experience.

Baptists are leery of “experiences”–and with good reason. When it comes to spiritual experiences, they had better be grounded in Scripture. Otherwise, they may need to be considered simply an emotional experience, or quite possibly, heresy. At the same time, our salvation is based upon an experience. It just happens to be Scripturally grounded:

  1. The Spirit opens our eyes to the fact that we are missing something, which is a relationship with God the Father.
  2. Our awareness of our sinful state is not as important as wanting Jesus in our lives. Many people respond to conviction of sin and our need for a Savior, but there are many people who are desperate to know Jesus and are willing to give up anything to know Him. Which is right? They BOTH are!
  3. Technically, we don’t have to ask Jesus to forgive our sin; it was paid for on the cross. What He really asks of us is for us to trust Him and follow Him. Our response to the Spirit’s request/invitation is the experience of salvation. It is when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and regenerates us, quickens us, and breathes new life into us. We are born again!

Following Jesus means being with Him, learning what He teaches, and doing what He commands. As we consider following Jesus each morning when we get up (not for salvation, but for relationship), may we remember Paul’s testimony:

22 “And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, 23 except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. 24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. Acts 2:22-24

What lies ahead for us? We don’t know. What we DO know is that wherever we are and whatever happens to us, He is with us and is leading us. More than likely, our circumstances are designed for us to be in a certain place to meet a certain person. We must be ready to live as He tells us to live and speak what He tells us to say. Here again, it probably has something to do with our testimony, our experience with Christ, that they need to hear.

Are you prepared to share your story? The power is not in the presentation; it’s in the story itself. Make it about Christ and He will use it for His glory. You will shine like stars in the universe (Philippians 2:15).

20 “Go, stand in the temple courts…
and tell the people all about this new life.”
Acts 5:20

Abba, I thank You for the day You came into my life and made me Your child. I promised then to follow You always, and–except for a few months of confusion in my youth–I have done so, not because of my goodness, but because of Your faithfulness! May I be willing to share my story with people with whom I come in contact, especially those with whom You have connected me. Use me, Lord; I am Your willing servant. Amen.

Proverbs 30 3-30-21

What would Jesus say about our lives? Do we routinely give Him control and lean on Him for direction? Is He truly our Lord?

11 There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers [see Mark 7:6-13], 12 those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth; 13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty, whose glances are so disdainful; 14 those whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives to devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among mankind [contempt].

It was time for Jesus to stir the religious leaders into action. They either needed to repent and receive His words or kill Him. Most of them chose to kill Him. Read now Jesus’ final condemnation:

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 

The scribes and Pharisees didn’t want the system to change, which is exactly what a Messiah would do. In other words, they really didn’t want Messiah to come. Therefore, they rejected Jesus even with all of the evidence of healings right in front of them.

14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.

This woe is another example of what the leaders did: They would make a law that gave them what they wanted, and then make another law excusing them for their misdeed. But, the Lord knows and has said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay” Deuteronomy 32:35.

15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

Lest we get the idea that they took in foreigners, they were looking for Jews to become their disciples. Then, they would teach them to be “good” Pharisees–whose practices Jesus detested.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ 17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ 19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.

These woes show the inner drive of the religious leaders: Gold and gifts. They were all about the things of this world. Jesus was NOT. In fact, He said, “My kingdom is not of this world” John 18:36.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

The leaders were all about their rules, even tithing on their spices, but they neglected the more important matters of the law, which were justice and mercy and faith. A gnat was an unclean animal, but very small. The camel also was an unclean animal, but very large. It’s a great analogy that is lost on most Gentiles.

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

Jesus wanted repentance of the heart. All their deeds meant nothing if their hearts were not right with God.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

The religious leaders were all about how they looked and appeared to the public and to each other. Since they set the standard on what was considered holy and righteous, they knew how to look very holy and righteous. Jesus condemned their actions concerning giving to the needy in Matthew 6:1-4, prayer in 5-15, fasting in 16-18, and treasures in 19-21. They were dead inside; they needed His life, His Spirit; Him!

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ 31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

History proved that the religious leaders did the same thing that their forefathers did, which was to kill the Messiah, the Prophet spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:14-19. Jesus would hold them all responsible for all the prophets’ deaths. When? At the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

How about us? Are we continuing on the same path as our forefathers? If they were godly, then let us continue upward. If they were not, then let us forge a new path as we partner with the Spirit, leaning on Him and trusting Him to direct our paths.

Abba, I pray that I would be a devoted follower of You. May I use my fear of what You Could do to motivate me to depend upon Your grace, trusting in what You Won’t do because of Your great love and my devotion to You. Bless me even as I bless You, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 30 1-30-21

God’s desire is for our fellowship. Everything else: our forgiveness of sin, our sanctification, and our glorification is due to Him fulfilling this desire.

3 I have not learned wisdom, nor have I attained to all the knowledge of the Holy One [thankfully, we don’t have to in order to enjoy His company].

It is not for us to clean ourselves up, but to allow Him to give us life, His life–Himself! Once we have Him in us, He gives us His righteousness, so we are instantly clean. From then on, we learn how to walk in that righteousness as He teaches us in perfect patience, gentleness and love. It’s all about the relationship. Jesus said,

“Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean…” John 13:10

This washing is mentioned in Ephesians 5:26, which is a major stone in our foundation:

26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,”

We are sanctified (made righteous) by God’s truth.
Jesus said that God’s Word is truth (John 17:17).
Therefore, we are washed every time we read and heed God’s Word.

Could it be that when we read and pray that Christ comes and washes our feet, thus making us holy? The precedent is there in Scripture (John 13:5-11). Whether it is metaphoric or spiritual, we can bank on the truth that we are made new every “morning” (it’s a continuous process), as are His mercies (Lamentations 3:22-23, 2 Corinthians 4:16). That process is accelerated when we read and pray.

Today, let’s allow Jesus to come and wash our feet and fellowship with us as we read His Word. There is much we don’t understand about what we read, but it doesn’t matter. It’s more about the relationship than the knowledge (although, that, too, comes with time, regular reading, and experience).

Lord Jesus, I want You in my life leading me, talking to me, directing me and counseling me. My determined desire is to know You more, better, and more intimately. If that means more victories, then great, but if it means sacrifice and suffering, then I am for that, too; whatever is going to allow me to know You the most. Right now, it’s all about Bible study and prayer. As I do these two things, You are directing my path in leading others and reaching others. Thank You! Amen.

Proverbs 30 12-30-20

Have you ever wondered why evil people live so long? Why doesn’t God kill them and save humanity from people like Hitler?

11 “There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers;
12 those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth;
13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty, whose glances are so disdainful;
14 those whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives
to devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among mankind.

I believe that the answer is in Ezekiel 18. The key verse is in the last verse:

32 For I take no pleasure in the [spiritual] death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

The whole chapter is about getting what you deserve. If you are evil, then when you die, you will be judged accordingly, and if you are righteous, then when you die, you will be judged accordingly. Sounds very Old-Testament, doesn’t it? But, then we come to verse 21 and that’s where we find the heart of God:

21 “But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live [be judged as righteous in heaven]; they will not die. 22 None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them [at death]. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live [spiritually]. 23 Do I take any pleasure in the [spiritual] death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

For the most part, mankind is given 70 years to turn from our wicked ways and turn to the LORD. In the U.S. 90% of men and 93% of women will live to be 70 years old. 62% and 71% live to be 80 (my parents were 82 and 83 when they died), and 22% and 34% live to be 90 (Robin’s parents are currently 90 and 87). We have it on record that God does take some people early because of their wickedness (Genesis 38:7), but for the most part, God allows humanity to live naturally for 70-80 years (Psalm 90:10). God gives them time to repent of their evil ways and turn to him. Peter restates this character trait of God in 2 Peter 3:9,

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

God has NEVER wanted His creation to perish. Even the Great Flood was a last resort, so to speak. God allowed humanity to come down to one man and his family–that in itself tells us just how wicked mankind had become! As long as there is breath in a person, he has the opportunity to repent and come to Christ.

One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” There is not a truer statement. Since Jesus and God are one along with the Spirit, we now know that God has always been GOOD even as He is GREAT. Let’s rejoice in having such a great God as our heavenly Father who invites us to be ONE with Him now and forever.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodnessThrough these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

Abba, I praise You for Your patience and Your long-suffering. Your goodness knows no bounds! Thank You for offering to me eternal life through Jesus Christ my Lord. I particularly love the fact that I don’t have to wait until I die to reap the benefits of such a great salvation. I enjoy Your presence and participation in my life RIGHT NOW! I invite You, once again, to be my Guide and Companion. You lead; I follow. Amen.

Proverbs 30 11-30-20

“The Word of God is living and active!” Here are some verses that have transformed my way of thinking:

6 “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

John 17:15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

Let’s take the second part first. Our sanctification (becoming like Jesus in true righteousness and holiness) comes through the truth, which is the Word of God. If we ever needed a verse upon which to base our lives, this one is it.

As for protection, Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane:

Luke 22:46 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

Mark 14:38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit [His Spirit and/or your soul] is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Jesus is not so much concerned about our physical predicaments; He can use us anywhere, anyhow. He never leaves us! He’s concerned about our susceptibility to the Enemy’s lies. He foreknew that the disciples would not be able to stay awake and would run away. It didn’t matter. He was the only One who could do what He was about to do. What was it He was about to do? He was about to join eternity with history at the cross. It is, indeed, the crossroads of history. His love and grace reach both backward in time to Adam and Eve and then forward to the last person who will receive Him as Lord.

Interesting note: When Jesus said, “Keep watch,” He was referring to the practice/command of Exodus 12:42,
42 Because the Lord kept vigil [watch] that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil [watch] to honor the Lord for the generations to come.
In other words, He wasn’t asking them to do anything out of the ordinary. In fact, they probably observed the practice most other times. So, what happened? They were unprepared for the Enemy’s attack! But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. Matthew 26:56, which was a reference to Zechariah 13:7. Matthew and Mark even quoted it in Matthew 26:31 and Mark 14:27. Why? Did Jesus choose for them to desert Him? NO. He just knew ahead of time, as did Zechariah–and Isaiah 59:15-21 (neat passage!). He had to save mankind on His own.

Tomorrow, we will look at Titus 2:11-14 and how it has transformed my life.

Abba, may You impress upon us the importance of making Your Truth first in our lives. May we discover Your Truth in Your Word. Make it vital to us, O LORD–hopefully, not by removing it from our accessibility! May Your words be precious in our sight even as it was to King David in Psalm 19. Speak to our hearts, LORD Jesus, speak that our souls may hear. Amen.

Proverbs 30 10-30-20

Is “dishonoring the name of the LORD” a big deal to you? Is representing Him to those around you your goal?

9 …Or I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God.

We are representatives of the LORD here on this earth. In fact, Christ makes His appeal for people to be reconciled to Him through us (2 Corinthians 5:20). EVERYTHING we say and do must be considered and run through a series of filters BEFORE we say/do them. Some of these filters are:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it appropriate?
  3. Is it uplifting?
  4. Have I asked the LORD if He wants me to say/do it?

One of my favorite passages for guiding my thoughts, words and actions is Philippians 4:8-9, “Finally, brothers and sisters [all of us], whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink on such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Notice the list: TNRPLAEP. Pronounced “tenorplape”. We THINK on these things before we act. The next thing that we do is LRH (I’ve no idea how to pronounce that), which is the action part and is learned through Paul’s letters, such as this one. The promise is that God’s peace will guide and guard our hearts. If we go back to verses 4-7, we get a great picture of this peace:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The progression goes like this: Rejoice and be gentle. Pray about everything while being thankful. The confidence we have that God has the situation well in hand gives us great peace. It’s a special peace that is wrapped up in His presence. Christ brings His peace with Him when He comes to us. We access that peace when we acknowledge Him in our hearts and lives. Daily. Continuously.

Let’s consider everything we think, say and do today as we represent Christ to those around us.

Abba, the best and greatest place to represent You is at home, especially during this week as we wait for electricity to be restored to my family. May You guide us GENTLY even as we learn and practice GENTLENESS to those around us. Empower us with Your mighty Spirit, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 30 9-30-20

The desire for godly wisdom is the first sign of Christian growth. A lack of desire reveals a conflict of interest.

“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
    do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God.

Do you see the balance in these verses? There are those who would lie to us and tell us that riches will solve everything or that to not have anything means no responsibility. We may even be lying to ourselves! God knows how much of anything that we need, so we learn to trust Him.

Do we have a desire to know God? to obey the Spirit? to fellowship with the LORD Jesus?  You probably set an alarm to get up, made coffee, and may have even set down to breakfast. Then, you had the desire to read this post, which means that you have desire. This desire is from the Holy Spirit within you.

Which would you rather have:

  1. Someone telling you what you should be doing, or
  2. Someone who gives you the desire to do what God wants you to do for and with Him?

Notice that the first option is Old Testament and the second option is New Testament. The difference is in RELATIONSHIP. God wants to have an ongoing and intimate relationship with us through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Our struggle comes in recognizing that desire as Him in us. We must learn to discern His voice from our own voice. Proverbs 24:3-4 gives a beautiful description of how:

By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures.

Wisdom is how the house is built;
Understanding is how it is established (how it works);
Knowledge is how the rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

All of these traits can be found in the Word of God. We just have to dig for them.

Consider yourselves disciples of Christ. Study to show yourselves approved by Him. Learn to rightly divide/decipher/parse the word of truth. Be good workers who need not be ashamed (based on 2 Timothy 2:15). Is this desire in you? OBEY IT! OBEY HIM!!!

I mentioned a conflict of interest. If our interest is divided between what Christ wants for us and what we want to do, then we will always be at a standstill with Him. We can’t build our house; we can’t establish our walk with Him; we can’t fill our lives with the rare and beautiful treasures that He has for us. Let’s decide today to give our whole lives to the LORD Jesus. It will feel a whole lot like salvation, but know that it’s really just moving up to level 2 in our relationship with Him.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would take seriously this call to commit all to You. You have SO MUCH in store for us if we will only believe You. May we be like the man in Mark 9:24 when he says, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” May we place our lives in Your capable hands. Make us, melt us, mold us, and fill us, LORD. We are Yours. Amen.

Proverbs 30 8-30-20

Each of us has our own miracle story of how God pursued us and reached out to us. Here’s mine.

4 What is His name, and what is the name of His Son? Surely you know!

I do, indeed, know.

My story has three parts:

  1. Salvation
  2. Recommitment
  3. Full-time vocational service

Salvation: At the age of six, I was riding my bike at Mindy Means’ house in Denton, Texas. She mentioned that she was going to be baptized soon. I asked her why and she told me that she had invited Jesus into her life. My interest was piqued. I listened to the sermon that Sunday very closely. That week, I popped into the kitchen and asked my mother, “How do I get saved?” My mother told me to tell Jesus that I know I’m a sinner, but I want Him to forgive me and come into my life and be my Savior. I asked her to help me, but she told me to go into my bedroom, get down on my knees, and do it myself. She said that it was between God and me. So, I did. I remember sensing a man in the room with me, kind of behind me and to the right. He was smiling. When I turned to look at him, he was gone! But, I knew that Jesus had come into my life. I have doubted that day twice since then (as a child), but both times, God confirmed that He did, indeed, save me that day.

My recommitment came after a year of doing things that I ought not to have been doing. I was coming out of the eighth grade and going into high school and was hanging out with a friend, who was four years older than I. We were at Falls Creek; it was Tuesday at the noon service (11:15). Johnny Bisagno was depicting the crucifixion of Christ and what He went through physically. I was riveted. At the end of his sermon, he said, “If Jesus endured all that for you, can’t you live for Him?”

That afternoon, my friend and I went hiking. We found a quiet place and talked about the sermon. We decided that Jesus was worth following. That week marked the re-instatement my fellowship with God, which carried me through those hectic years of high school and even my first year of college.

My call to full-time vocational service also came at Falls Creek. I was working there as a lifeguard and volleyball referee my freshman year at college. At one of the evening services, I was near the back of the tabernacle (it was open-air then). The speaker was being very blunt about our commitment to Christ and how we are to take it seriously. The Holy Spirit directed me to go down front, so I did. In the counseling room, they gave me a card and had me fill it out. It asked me what decision I had made and gave me some choices. Since the Spirit hadn’t given me any specific direction for ministry, I checked, “other.” Boy, was that an accurate statement! In my ministry, I have been Youth Director (eight years), Music Director (all but six months), Associate Pastor, bus driver, Senior Adult Minister, Sunday School Director, Nursery Coordinator, Janitor, and numerous other jobs that don’t have titles.

In each decision, I felt a desire to follow Christ “higher up and farther in.” I still have that same desire that gets me up in the mornings (most times at 4:30) to spend time with Him. I never lose that desire to follow Him as I go throughout my day. I don’t get life right lots of times, but as long as I am repentant and determined to try again, my relationship with Jesus just keeps getting brighter and brighter.

The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. Proverbs 4:18

That pretty much sums up my relationship with the Father and fellowship with the Son. Do I know Him? YOU BET I DO!

Abba, it’s been 53 years now, and I still feel like a novice at Christianity. At the same time, we have walked together so long (from my perspective) that I cannot fathom ever considering forsaking You for any reason. I look forward to death because I want to see You face to face! At the same time, I think that You still have things for me to do here on this earth. I’m with Paul, who stated the same sentiment in Philippians 1:20-26.
I’m looking forward to church today when I get to lead Brookwood in praise and worship of You. Come and inhabit the praises of Your people, O LORD! Amen.

Proverbs 30 7-30-20

“If we change the way we think, we will change the way we feel.”* The more we think of God, the more we want His ways. Without the Holy Spirit, good things become twisted, perverted, and abused. But, WITH the Holy Spirit, our bad ways begin to transform into good, right and true thoughts and actions (Ephesians 5:9).

5 Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.

Psalm 119 was written by King David. He was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Here is what he wrote about keeping our ways pure:

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
    By living according to your word.

Is it possible for a person to stay on the path of purity? How can he/she maintain it for a lifetime? Yes! By living according to the word of the LORD daily.

10 I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.

How do we live according to His word?  By seeking Him with all our heart, soul, mind and with all our strength. The promise is that He will guide us and keep us on the right path. When we do wander off, He will bring us back to the straight and narrow road. Hopefully, it will require only a minor course correction. If not, then we may get caught in a loop of rebellion. This loop will continue until we are willing to look up and acknowledge His Lordship in our lives. King Nebuchadnezzar is a perfect example of this truth, Daniel 4:26-34.

11 I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.

Our souls train our hearts by filling our minds with the word of God. Hiding God’s word in our hearts is vital to all believers. If a believer wants to move up to being a follower (living a victorious Christian life), then he/she will memorize Scripture. It’s not necessary to memorize it verbatim or even its address, but that we know the gist of it (a paraphrase) and at least the book in which it is found. Context helps.

12 Praise be to you, Lord;
    teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
    all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
    as one rejoices in great riches.

Praise to the LORD engenders a submissive spirit and a willing heart. We are eager to do what is good, which is whatever He says. What does He say? “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” Colossians 3:16. We implore God to teach us His decrees and statutes of righteous living. Otherwise, there is NO WAY to really learn them.

15 I meditate on your precepts
    and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees

We “set our face like flint” (Isaiah 50:7) to keep His commands first and foremost in our minds and hearts. We meditate on them; we delight in them–can you feel the enthusiasm and joy that Jesus feels when His children walk in truth (3 John 1:4)?

 I will not neglect your word.

“I WILL NOT NEGLECT YOUR WORD.” Really? Will you vow to keep this promise? The Holy Spirit will assist you in keeping your vow by reminding you, prompting you and convicting you about it constantly. Sound annoying? IT’S NOT! WE are interacting with the God of the universe!

Computers typically don’t erase old data; they just overwrite it. This process is EXACTLY what we need to do with our minds: Overwrite old ways of thinking with God’s words. Not only will they give us a new way of thinking, they are ALIVE with the Spirit of God! He talks to us even as we read His words. Hebrews 4:12-13.

It boils down to this question: Are you really interested in being like your LORD Jesus Christ? Then you will do anything and everything necessary to learn His ways, His likes and dislikes, His character traits, His convictions and what He considers important. Let’s see, what’s important to Jesus? “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:17. Folks, it doesn’t get any plainer than that!

LORD, I pray that You will sanctify us according to our reading and study of Your word. I pray that we all will be on fire when we get through with our Bibles! I know that there will come a day when I will wish I read more, studied more, and memorized more of Your words. May I begin NOW changing that outcome. May my readers join me in this endeavor. Bless them, LORD, with Your presence and sense of pleasure as they read Your word. Amen.

*Beth Moore

Proverbs 30 6-30-20

If we could let go of our own feelings long enough to feel the love God has for others, it would transform us!

5 Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.

IF every word of God is flawless;
IF He shields those who take refuge in Him;
IF His word says, “God is love” (1 John 4:8 and 16b), THEN we can trust that God loves us.

IF He has asked us to believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, THEN we must take Him at His word that Jesus IS God’s Son.

IF Jesus came to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10), THEN we must accept that all of humanity has value: HIS value, the value He placed on us by dying for us.

IF Jesus died for all people, THEN we must love them as He loves them.

There are several truths in our passage for today of 1 John 4:7-21.

  1. God is love (v.8).
  2. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins (v.10).
  3. God lives in us (v.12).
  4. He has given us of His Spirit (v.13).
  5. In this world we are like Jesus (v.17) because we have compassion on the lost (Matthew 9:36).
  6. We love because He first loved us (v.19); remember that we are like Jesus.
  7. Anyone who loves God loves their brother and sister (v.21) not just in words or speech, but with actions and in truth (3:18).

We have the promise in 4:13 that He will give us of His Spirit so that we can rely on His love for us (verse 16a) to receive all that we need in order to accomplish His will, which is for us to love one another:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

We know that we are God’s children because we love like Him. It is this love and compassion that verifies that we belong to Him. John makes this very point:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you  may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13

If we link 4:9 and 5:14 together, we get:

This is how God showed His love to us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Jesus as we approach God in confidence, knowing that God hears us when we pray according to His will, which is for us to believe that He is God, that God is love, and that He wants the best for all mankind, but loves us enough to give us the choice of believing Him enough to trust Him and obey Him or not.

It’s a one-time choice of trust unto salvation, and a daily choice of obedience unto fellowship with Him.

John knew what he was talking about because he walked with Jesus three years in the flesh and then for many years with Him in his heart. If we want God and His love to consume us, then we can’t hold anything back that would keep Him from filling every nook and cranny of our hearts. Let’s give our all to God through Jesus with the help of the Spirit everyday!

Abba, I struggle with areas of my life, but my heart I give to You each day–sometimes several times a day. I keep fixing my eyes on You, only to tear them away to look at things in this world. May I learn to see this world through my peripheral vision and to keep You as the center of my attention. May I see people through Your eyes with the compassion You feel toward them. Make me like You, LORD. That’s my prayer today (and everyday). Amen.

Proverbs 30 5-30-20

Today, we are on #6 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?

32 If you have been a fool by being proud or plotting evil,
    cover your mouth in shame.

33 As the beating of cream yields butter
    and striking the nose causes bleeding,
    so stirring up anger causes quarrels.

#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.

“The devil is in the details” may be a phrase for visionaries (they hate details), but we are made up of a lot of little decisions, i.e. details. The “little decision” by the five foolish bridesmaids to not have extra oil cost them the banquet (Matthew 25:1-13). The “little decision” by the foolish servant in not investing his master’s money cost him his position (Matthew 25:14-30). Our “little decisions” cost us in ways that we cannot see from where we are.

Here’s how it works:

The fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

  1. The first three (1-syllable words) are given us by Jesus: Love, Joy and Peace. By the way, these are how we sense God’s Presence; they radiate from Him. They form the fragrance of Christ and are His “aroma.” See 2 Corinthians 2:15.
  2. The second three (2-syllable words) are work: Patience, Kindness, Goodness
  3. The third three (3-syllable words) are character: Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control
    We share the first three through the second three; they create in us the third three. If we don’t share the first three through the second three, then we miss the character-building activities of the Spirit in us to get the third three.

Here are two examples:

  1. A ship’s captain in the old days would go up on deck at night and check his position using the stars. If he didn’t do it every night, but, say, only once a week, he could miss his destination by quite a bit.
  2. When the weatherman shows a tornado on his “board,” he uses an expanding cone to show the path the tornado may take. As the tornado moves, the cone adjusts to keep the most likely path in the center of the cone.

If we decide for a day to ignore the Holy Spirit within us and go our own way (actually, it’s every decision), we will drift off-course just like the ship. As we move away from God’s intended path to build our character (to look like Jesus), the expanding cone that indicates our likely path shifts. Now, instead of God’s best in the center of the cone, it moves to the outside and whatever it is that we think we want is now in the center. Do that a few more times and God’s best is no longer in the cone at all! We will surely miss our destination, which is to be transformed into the image of Christ.

The Church at Laodicea in Revelation 3 had wandered off-course. The problem was that they didn’t know it. Jesus explained it to them:

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

For a city known for its banking ventures, thriving textile (clothing) business, eye salve industry, and piped-in water, that’s a pretty harsh assessment! Jesus was more concerned with their character than their bank account. How did Jesus view them?

15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

The water piped in from Heliopolis was hot; the water piped in from Colossae was cold. By the time the water reached Laodicea, it was tepid (lukewarm). They knew exactly what Jesus meant by His terminology. Even His exhortation was pointed:

18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Their banking industry wouldn’t save them; their textile business wouldn’t save them; their eye salve business wouldn’t save them. Only what Jesus had to offer would save them. What is it that Jesus offered them?

9 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 

His personal attention! If we sincerely repent and put Him back in the center of our path, we get back on course. His rebuke shows that He loves us and refuses to allow us to continue in our destructive behavior. His discipline teaches us and builds character–His character–in us. We look more like Jesus!

Here’s the best part:

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

Jesus wants to be with us and have sweet fellowship with us! All we have to do is open the door and invite Him in. This fellowship is ongoing if we will keep Him in the center of our path. He is our North Star for every decision. How long will it take you to admit it and come to your senses? The Prodigal Son did (Luke 15:11-32). He went home and his Dad ran to meet him (unheard of back then), hugged him (even though he smelled like pigs), reinstated him (even though he had all but said that his dad was dead to him), and threw a big party (much to the chagrin of the older brother). Until you do, I reckon you’ll smell like a pig and long to eat pig slop. Lift up your eyes! Change your course! Turn your eyes upon Jesus! He’s waiting for you–even as He is rejoicing over you. You have everything you need in Him:

7 Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 9 God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into fellowship and partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Abba, I pray that Y0u will lock into each of us the passion to follow You diligently, daily, and with great fervor. Yet, in our zeal, keep us close to You so that we will not run ahead of You or lag behind You or wander off to the left or to the right. Help us through Your Word to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, our Beginner and our End. To this End I commit myself today. Amen.

Proverbs 30 4-30-20

This pandemic has been quite revealing concerning our tendencies. Have you grown closer to the Lord? Or, have you found that you can do without church and be just fine?

8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.

Let’s not lie to ourselves. Because we haven’t been able to go to church, some of us have not spent much (if any) time with Jesus during this whole quarantine. It has been quite revealing as to how dependent we were/are on church attendance for our daily bread.

Our DAILY BREAD is the Lord Jesus. He took the imagery of manna, the bread from heaven, and applied it to Himself. Let’s read it:

48 I am the bread which is life. 49 Your fathers ate manna in the desert; they died. 50 But the bread that comes down from heaven is such that a person may eat it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that has come down from heaven; if anyone eats this bread, he will live forever. John 6:48-51a

We must partake of Him daily. We must feast on His words and turn to Him constantly for direction, assurance, love, joy, peace, hope, and grace. We are dependent upon Him for wisdom, discernment, discretion, and prudence. Do we WANT to be like Jesus? Then we must spend TIME with Jesus!

Proverbs 24 ends with a poignant story of the vineyard of the lazy man:

30 I passed by the field of the lazy man
    and the vineyard of the man lacking sense.
31 There it was, overgrown with thistles;
    the ground was covered with nettles,
    and its stone wall was broken down.
32 I looked, and I thought about it;
    I saw, and I learned this lesson:
33 “I’ll just lie here a bit, rest a little longer,
    just fold my hands for a little more sleep” —
34 and poverty comes marching in on you,
    scarcity hits you like an invading soldier.

Does not your heart burn within you to know Him more? He saved you; He brought you life, joy and peace when He called you to receive Him as your Lord. Are you now reneging on your commitment? “Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.” 1 Corinthians 15:34. It’s as if some people get a light case of salvation–sounds like the measles! The problem with a light case is that it acts more like a vaccine than a full dose. Just so we’re clear: There is no such thing as a light case of salvation!!! We are either completely in or completely out.

IF the Holy Spirit dwells in us, THEN we will desire to please Him. What pleases Him most is when we spend time with Him in the Word of God, for it is from there that He directs us, teaches us, enlightens us, coaches us, admonishes us, and trains us. Let’s show Him our mettle (courage and fortitude, disposition or temperament). Let’s “set our face like flint” and choose to serve the Lord, to become like Him, and to get to know Him. HE wants it; do YOU?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David. Isaiah 55:1-5

Folks, it doesn’t get any plainer than that! Let’s eat at His table today, breaking bread with Him, and we will feel our hearts burn within us (Luke 24:30-32).

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would take the time and spend the energy to read Your Word, learn it, memorize it, internalize it, apply it, and teach it (there’s no better way to learn than to teach). I burn to learn more; I burn to be more like You; I burn to be WITH You. May I pass on this fire to others, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 30 3-30-20

On what should we rely during this outbreak of COVID-19? Can we truly protect ourselves? Should we look elsewhere?

5 Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.

If I were to make a pamphlet to pass out at Wal-Mart, I think it would say this:

What Does God Have to Do with COVID-19?

These are scary times in which we live. Did COVID-19 catch God by surprise? IS there a God to take by surprise?! Consider this:

  1. The order of the universe, particularly human life along with plants and animals, all speak of a divine order and Creator. Otherwise, the second law of thermal dynamics would have reduced everything to its lowest level long ago (entropy).
  2. The mutation of COVID-19 is still within its kind (Micro-Evolution); it will NOT mutate into a different species! There is NO evidence for Macro-Evolution, which is someone’s idea of what he thinks might have happened.
  3. COVID-19 is no worse than some strains of flu that go around every year. The problem is that since it is new, everyone is susceptible. We SHOULD take precautions: Wash hands routinely, maintain space, refrain from touching, avoid large groups, etc.

What we must realize is that even though God did NOT cause COVID-19, He IS using it to get our attention. Here are some things He would like for you to know:

  1. God loves you and wants you to know him personally through His Son, Jesus Christ.
  2. A good life is more than just the number of years lived. God has a plan for you!
  3. Living life without God is a wasted life with no eternal value or reward.
  4. Treat COVID-19 with a healthy respect, but do not fear it. Instead, “fear Him who can throw both body and soul into hell.”  –  Jesus
  5. Living without God is living as an enemy of God. Turn to him and trust Him. Leave the idea of doing things your way and follow Jesus. He will enter your heart, save your soul, and lead you with His Spirit.

COVID-19 IS A BIG DEAL. GOD IS BIGGER THAN COVID-19

Trust Him for LIFE!

‘Nuff said.

Abba, I have no idea what-or even, if- You want to do something with what I said this morning. Maybe someone will copy it out and circulate it. Maybe You will prompt me to make a pamphlet and hand it out. I am open to that. In the meantime, May You comfort and encourage the hearts of all who read this blog with Your truth. May we all take refuge in Your Word. You have this; I know it. I love You and trust You. Amen.

Proverbs 30 2-30-20

Are you lacking in zeal? Have you lost your spiritual fervor? Plug into the SOURCE: Jesus and His Word!

5 Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.

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

How do I know that Jesus is the Word of God? A little later in that chapter, John tells us that, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (v14).” 

Let’s combine these verses with Proverbs 1:23,

Repent at my rebuke!
    Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
    I will make known to you my teachings and pour out my heart to you.

So, it makes sense that if we read His Word, then we are conversing with God through Jesus Christ as His Spirit makes known to us His thoughts and His heart.

As we read, we receive handles of truth that the Holy Spirit uses to teach us and guide us. For instance, I read this morning Romans 12:9-21, in which are these verses:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

  1. In order to love, I must be sincere in my love. No flattery or talking about that person behind his/her back. I must truly love that person as a brother or sister in Christ, or a prospective one.
  2. As I learn what God hates and what He loves, I cling to the good and get rid of the bad. I even learn to hate evil because it destroys people, relationships, and everything good.
  3. I learn to devote myself to Christ who calls me to be devoted to others. I must be concerned with meeting their needs as they arise–according to His guidance. Many times, coordinating to meet that need is better than meeting it myself.
  4. Putting others’ needs before my own is what honoring each other is all about.
  5. In these things, we are to be zealous. We keep our spiritual fervor by diving into His Word for refreshment of spirit and time with Him. We bask in His love and the joy, peace, hope and grace that emanate from Him. Serving the LORD is a PLEASURE!

May these truths come alive in our lives today as we make time in our schedules to read His Word and entrust ourselves to His guidance. It’s all about the relationship.

Abba, may You become alive to us as we read Your Word. May You speak to us through it even as we read it. May You call to mind truths that You want us to apply and when You want them applied. As we obey, may we feel Your love, joy, peace, hope and grace, O LORD. Give us a sense of YOU. Amen.

Proverbs 30 12-30-19

Repetition is the key to memory. We lock God’s Word in our hearts by reading and re-reading passages and lessons.

1 The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh—an inspired utterance.

The sayings of chapter 30 are grouped into passages that are easy to memorize. They, in themselves, are not particularly insightful, but the overall link in each passage is a life lesson. For instance,

15 “There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’:

16 the grave, the barren womb,
    land, which is never satisfied with water,
    and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’

 

Each of these examples by themselves is not memorable, but taken together, they form a picture that teaches a great truth: This world is not what it was meant to be, but God will restore it one of these days. In the meantime, we are to accept that which we cannot change, understanding that the LORD knows our plight and has great things in store for us in the future when He restores all things.

The same goes for the plan of salvation as we discussed yesterday. If we break it down into memorizable chunks, it might look like this:

There are three things in life for which people look, four things that they desire, and they are unalterable love, solid hope, pure joy, and unshakeable peace.

The thing that every human needs but does not deserve is grace, which is offered freely through Jesus Christ. Grace IS getting what we need instead of what we deserve!

Faith is believing AND ACTING UPON what we have been shown by the Spirit. If HE does not show us, then we can have no faith. But, once He shows us, we have an obligation to act upon what we now know.

IF we believe that:

  1. He is who He said He is, which is the Son of God,
  2. He did what He said He would do, which was to die in our place and then rise again,
  3. He will do what He says He will do, which is to come into our hearts and lives,

He will bring:

  1. His love that overwhelms,
  2. His joy that overflows,
  3. His peace that passes all understanding,
  4. His hope in a new life and an even better life after this one,
  5. and His grace to pardon every sin–past, present and future!

Here’s how:

  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.

Reviewing these aspects of salvation and even rewording them for easy delivery will give the Spirit plenty of ammunition when He calls upon us to speak to someone about salvation. We don’t have to worry about what to say, for the Spirit will give us the words to say at the appointed time (Matthew 10:19). It just helps to have them already in our heads!

Let’s make ourselves as available as we can to the Spirit today.

Abba, I want to be available to You today. Help me to orient my thoughts according to Your Word. It’s important. Give me discernment as needed today. Amen.

Proverbs 30 11-30-19

I love thinking about my salvation and all it entails. It makes me very grateful and appreciative of what Christ did.

12 those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth;

Salvation is a spiritual matter. If we could think our way into heaven, then there was really no need for Christ to come.

Salvation is a legal matter. If we could work our way into heaven, then there was really no need for Christ to take the blame for our sin.

Salvation is an allegiance matter. If we could talk (words without action) our way into heaven, then there is really no need for Christ to be Lord of our lives.

From the Complete Jewish Bible:

12 This is how it works: it was through one individual that sin entered the world, and through sin, death; and in this way death passed through to the whole human race, inasmuch as everyone sinned.

17 For if, because of the offense of one man, death ruled through that one man; how much more will those receiving the overflowing grace, that is, the gift of being considered righteous, rule in life through the one man Yeshua the Messiah!

Satan talked Adam and Eve into rebelling against God. Through his lies he sparked DESIRE in Eve’s heart (and Adam’s, evidently) with which they were unprepared to deal. I believe that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was for LATER when they had grown in the LORD and walked with him a few thousand years (a while). Who knows? If they had passed this first test, God may have allowed them to eat it right then! We don’t know and we won’t care once we get to heaven…

We all have DESIRE within us. It was awakened that first day in Adam and Eve and we all are cursed because of it. That’s the bad news. The GOOD news is that because Adam was the representative for all mankind, Jesus could be the representative for all mankind, as well! I’m pretty sure that Satan didn’t know this spiritual truth.  1 Corinthians 2:8 says, “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” Neither did he understand that Jesus intended to be the perfect sacrifice, giving His life in place of our own:

  1. It took a human to be our substitute; sheep and cattle wouldn’t do (they had never sinned).
  2. It took God to be perfect; humans couldn’t be–that’s the whole reason He came!

Verse 17 uses the phrase, overflowing grace, and defines it as “the gift of being considered righteous.” This gift is in one way being offered to everyone, but in another way only offered to a few.

  1. It is offered to everyone in that Christ died for all. Anyone who will trust in His sacrifice and make Him Lord of his life WILL BE SAVED.
  2. It is offered to a few in that only those who have the DESIRE FOR HIM awakened in them will actually turn from their sin and turn to the LORD for salvation.

What criteria does God use to determine in whom He will awaken this desire and thus extend the invitation to be saved? I don’t know. What I DO know is, “The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; He searches out his inmost being.” Proverbs 20:27. God knows who has the DESIRE within that can be fanned into flame. For that matter, He MAY work at fanning EVERY PERSON’S desire, but many snuff it right back out.

To be clear, Genesis 6:3, which says, “My Spirit will not strive with mankind forever;” is referring to death being the end of any chance of salvation. The idea of us rejecting the Holy Spirit’s call and it being the last one is false–although, if we reject Him too often, we grow callous and set in our ways, thus making it more and more difficult to hear His voice and sense His call. Even so, He does not give up until death. Here’s the rest of the verse: “for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” Then the Great Flood came and they all perished.

As we can see, we have A LOT for which to be thankful. May we express our gratitude to Him today and follow Him closely.

Abba, thank You for so great a salvation! I study it often and ALWAYS find something new, some new nugget of truth that thrills my soul. May I never treat my salvation with contempt or take it for granted. Your blood and sacrifice are too valuable for that. Praise be to You, LORD Jesus, Yeshua Messiah! Amen.

Proverbs 30 10-30-19

The world will not always be the way it is. Our lives will not always be the way they are.

21 “Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up: 22 a servant who becomes king, a godless fool who gets plenty to eat, 23 a contemptible woman who gets married, and a servant who displaces her mistress.

“Why do bad things happen to good people?” This question has plagued mankind for millenia. People use it to blame God for all the bad things that happen in life. They presume to sit in judgement of God! Let’s look at the answer according to His Word:

  1. God created mankind in His image, which means that we have reason and choice.
  2. Adam and Eve chose poorly and, consequently, we all do–all mankind does. Why? So that, through one man sin entered, so through one Man the debt of sin could be paid. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all [who trust in Him] will be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22
  3. Mankind has the choice to do good or to do evil. When evil choices are made, then people suffer the consequences. Why is that God’s fault? THE GREAT RISK that God took by giving mankind the ability to choose was necessary for us to have the ability to choose Him willingly.
  4. God loves us SO MUCH that He came to die on the cross FOR US. He rose again to prove that He IS GOD. Our belief and subsequent faith in this event is what gives us the right to become children of God. “Yet to all who did receive him [and what He did for us], to those who believe in his name, he gives the right to become children of God—John 1:12
  5. This world is dying. WE are dying. Until Jesus comes back and makes things right, we must suffer through. Why does Jesus tarry? “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

So, don’t give up; don’t give in. Our condition is like the two frogs that fell into a container of milk. They paddled and paddled until one frog gave up and “croaked.” The other just kept paddling until he made butter and was able to jump out. Let’s keep on paddling, folks! We just have to keep on walking with Jesus and trusting in His Plan.

Mark Lowry does a spiel on Luke 2:1, which begins, And It Came to Pass . He says that’s how we are to live our lives: With the idea that we shall pass from this life, and therefore should look at everything as transient. We are sojourners on our way to a new country! Aren’t you glad!!!? The Imperials “Keep On Walking”

Dear Jesus, I pray You would come today! At the same time, I see how You are working Your plan to continue to save the Gentiles (more and more Muslims are coming to Christ) and how You are beginning to call the Jews back to Yourself. It’s almost time for Your Return, but not quite. Keep using me in Your Plan, O LORD.  How may I be of service to You today? Let me know, amen.

 

Proverbs 30 9-30-19

Honoring the Sabbath has a different meaning for Gentiles, but it doesn’t mean we get to skip taking one.

(1b) “I am weary, God, but I can prevail.”

Agur called out to God in his weariness. We are to do the same. In fact, God designed us to need a day of rest each week. The question is, are we taking it?

God created the heavens and the earth in a literal six days. He then rested on the seventh and proclaimed it as a sabbath, holy unto the Lord (Gen. 2:3). In the Sinai Covenant, He commanded the Israelites to keep the sabbath each week.

‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11

Gentiles have been released from keeping sabbaths (Romans 14:5-6), but it doesn’t change the fact that we humans are wired to need rest every so often. Just as we need sleep everyday, our bodies need a chance to recharge weekly. Most Christians set aside Sunday to rest from work. Well, that doesn’t work for me. I must find time during the week, usually on Friday or Saturday, to rest.

How about you? Do you have a set (more or less) time to rest from work each week? It’s important.

Another point is play. We need to play. Whether it’s a physical game, an activity, or a sport, we need physical activity that is fun. As in all things, we can go overboard with this one. Moderation is the key (see 1 Cor. 6:12).

There is one thing that we need EVERY DAY and that is spiritual nourishment from the Word of God. Taking a “break” from reading our Bibles is like negative fasting. Fasting is designed to do without real food so that we can concentrate on spiritual food. Negative fasting would be the opposite and have the opposite effect. BAD MOVE. Let’s make sure that we are partaking of spiritual food from the table of Christ everyday. It’s why we read Proverbs daily!

Abba, I didn’t get a chance to rest this past weekend. I ask that You give me opportunities to catch up sometime during the next couple of days. Restore my soul, O LORD. Amen.