Proverbs 1-31-23

Jesus’ birth wasn’t supernatural; His conception was.

31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
Luke 1:31-35

Many people say that Jesus was just a myth, that his character and reputation are based upon the myths of old. As we continue our investigation of Jesus and His imprint on the world, J. Warner Wallace, in his book, “Person of Interest,” pages 26-39, performed an investigation of the 16 top mythological deities of history. They are:

  1. Osiris
  2. Tammuz
  3. Shangdi
  4. Marduk
  5. Ind Ra
  6. Attis
  7. Thakur Jiu
  8. Adonis
  9. Dionysus
  10. Zoroaster
  11. Heracles
  12. Krishna
  13. Zalmoxis
  14. Mythras
  15. Buddha
  16. Serapis

All of these gods shared certain characteristics. These characteristics are:

  1. Inevitable- prophesied
  2. Imperial- from a royal heritage
  3. Inexplicable- born of unnatural means
  4. Insulated- protected as a child
  5. Inveigled- tempted
  6. Identified- associated with shepherds
  7. Incredible- possessed supernatural power
  8. Interactor- engaged humans directly
  9. Instructive- taught human followers
  10. Indemnifier- recognized the need for sacrifice
  11. Indicted- faced a judicial trial of sorts
  12. Inviter- established a divine meal
  13. Immortal- had the power to defeat death
  14. Intercessor- offered eternal life
  15. Indicter- would judge the living and the dead

J. Warner Wallace concludes:

As I finished my investigation of the mythologies, I recognized that there were similarities between Jesus and the mythological deities. The list of the most common attributes of these ancient deities sounded a lot like the Christian description of Jesus…At first glance, these common descriptions seemed surprisingly similar to characteristics of Jesus. But a closer examination revealed something entirely different. None of the ancient mythologies possessed all the attributes described on the list. At best, a handful of deities displayed ten of the shared characteristics. Most had far fewer (from five to nine)…When you examine the details related to each similarity between Jesus and the ancient mythologies, the resemblances begin to vanish. Jesus isn’t much like the other gods after all.

Jesus fulfilled ALL FIFTEEN attributes–and then some! We can trust Jesus. There is an ancient poem (possibly a song) in Philippians 2:5-10 that describes Jesus,

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

The greatest difference between myth and truth is in the fact that the events of Jesus are verified–they really happened! History has proven over and over again that Jesus is a historical figure, that the events of His life were real, and that He was crucified, buried, and rose again (verified by over 500 witnesses).

May we confess Jesus Christ as our Lord today!

Abba, You are my Lord. Jesus lives in my heart and guides my life by the Person of the Holy Spirit. I have sweet communion with You each day. THAT is all the proof I need! Amen.

Proverbs 31 12-31-22

We live according to God’s standards out of gratitude for all that He has given us in Christ.

20 Now may the God of peace 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

As we continue to look at John 8 and what Jesus had to say about Himself, we look again at verses 15-16,

15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.

A better phrase for 16 might be, “But if I were to judge…” The concept of judgment can be determined by what Jesus has previously said about judgment,

27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

When we put these two passages together, we find that although Jesus has the authority of God, He chooses not to judge, but to render unto people that which they have chosen, “those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” His judgment is just because it is based upon the decisions of those being judged. If we want to know how Jesus feels about folks, let’s go to John 8:8-11,

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Sin causes us to self-destruct. Jesus was basically telling her to, “go and self-destruct no more.” He wants us to see that what we do only shows what we believe. If we turn to Him and believe what He says about us, then we will begin to act accordingly. Taken from, “The Freedom Fight” by Ted Shimer, page 224,

  • I am holy and blameless before God (Ephesians 1:4)
  • I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • I am a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)
  • I am beloved by God (Colossians 3:12)
  • I have obtained an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11)
  • I have bold access to God (Ephesians 3:12 and Hebrews 4:16)
  • I have everlasting life (John 5:24)
  • I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37)
  • I have no condemnation before God (Romans 8:1)
  • I have victory over sin (Romans 6:10-13)

In Christ, we have a new identity; we are the children of God!

If the religious leaders had just listened and believed, they, too, would have been saved from their destructive way of thinking. Alas, they did not, and less than 40 years later, their whole world came crashing down on them. In being smart, they were not wise, because smart people may learn from experience, but wise people learn from observation and knowledge. Jesus is sharing with us knowledge of Himself and what He thinks of us (He’s crazy about us!). Let’s believe it and, with grateful hearts, act accordingly.

Abba, if I could get my mind around the fact that You are much more concerned about what I think of myself in light of what I believe about You than about my living up to some standard, then I would be free to live according to Your guidance and leadership. I could learn to be just like You, Jesus! That is my goal. Amen.

Proverbs 31 10-31-22

Many people believe that the Old Testament is outdated and not needed. Nothing could be further from the truth!

All [Old Testament] Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Entire denominations are based upon the irrelevancy of the Old Testament. The problem is that Peter, Paul, James, Jude, and the writer of Hebrews didn’t have anything else BUT the Old Testament when they wrote. They referenced it 200+ times ( So, for the next three days, we will be looking at the relationship between the Old and New Covenants.

Old Covenant/New Covenant

  • A covenant is a binding contract between two parties, ratified by swearing an oath. 
  • The word “testament” and “covenant” are interchangeable.
  • The Old Testament (old covenant) was a foreshadowing of the New, a foundation for what was to come. 
  • From the book of Genesis on, the Old Testament pointed forward to a Messiah or Savior. 
  • The New Testament describes the fulfillment of God’s promise by Jesus Christ.

Old Covenant: Between God and Israel 

The Old Covenant was established between God and the people of Israel after God freed them from slavery in Egypt. Moses, who led the people out, served as the mediator of this contract, which was made at Mount Sinai:

Then Moses took the blood from the basins and splattered it over the people, declaring, “Look, this blood confirms the covenant the Lord has made with you in giving you these instructions.” (Exodus 24:8, NLT)

God issued the Ten Commandments and the laws in Leviticus to be obeyed by the Hebrews. If they complied, he pledged prosperity and protection in the Promised Land.

Altogether, there were 613 laws, covering every aspect of human behavior. Males had to be circumcised, sabbaths had to be observed, and people had to obey hundreds of dietary, social, and hygiene rules. All these regulations were intended to protect the Israelites from their neighbors’ pagan influences, but no one could keep so many laws. To address the people’s sins, God set up a system of animal sacrifices, in which the people provided cattle, sheep, and doves to be killed. Sin required a blood sacrifice.

Under the old covenant, those sacrifices were carried out at the desert tabernacle. God installed Moses’ brother Aaron and Aaron’s sons as priests, who slaughtered the animals. Only Aaron, the high priest, could enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement, to intercede for the people directly with God.

After the Israelites conquered Canaan, King Solomon built the first permanent temple in Jerusalem, where the animal sacrifices continued. Invaders eventually destroyed the temple, but when it was rebuilt, the sacrifices resumed. 

The old covenant was for a specific people in a specific place and time.
The new covenant extends to the entire world: 

By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete;
and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:13, NIV)

Abba, You have made all things new concerning our relationship with You (Revelation 21:5). We are Yours because You called us and we answered. One of these days, we each will be called to join You where You are where we await the time for us to go with You to Jerusalem for Your eternal reign on earth. Then, all things will be new in You and You will reconcile all things to Yourself (Colossians 1:20). You are awesome, Lord! I can hardly wait!!! Amen.

Proverbs 31 8-31-22

Here’s a paradox: We cannot serve Christ without Christ. Living for Jesus means living WITH Jesus.

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears [and serves] the LORD is to be praised.

Living for Jesus is not about following rules and staying within certain moral parameters. It’s about learning to walk with Christ in righteousness and godliness. Why would we do that?

14 For Christ’s love compels [constrains] us, because we are convinced that one [Christ] died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he [Christ] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him [Christ] who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

This verse enables us in several ways:

  • We love as He loves.
  • We live in the joy of His eternal presence (He was raised, therefore, we will be raised).
  • We trust Him and are at peace with ourselves, which allows us to be at peace with others.
  • We start using the tools He has given us, such as patience, kindness, goodness, graciousness, and perseverance. Notice that these tools have to do with interacting with other people, and can be applied to animals, too.
  • We set as goals faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
  • We trust God’s Word. His Word is truth (John 17:17). God is Jesus –>Jesus is the Word –>The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ –> What is He saying to you right now?

There is an old hymn written around the 19th Century that puts to music the theme of Living for Jesus. Here are three of the verses; we could easily insert “with” in place of every “for”:

1. Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.

O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me;
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne;
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

2. Living for Jesus Who died in my place,
Bearing on Calv’ry my sin and disgrace;
Such love constrains me to answer His call,
Follow His leading and give Him my all.

4. Living for Jesus through earth’s little while,
My dearest treasure, the light of His smile;
Seeking the lost ones He died to redeem,
Bringing the weary to find rest in Him.

(Good luck in finding a good rendition of this hymn on YouTube)

Abba, walking with You, loving You and serving You all seem to be wrapped up together. I know Christ said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). I know that with You, I can do all things (Philippians 4:13), and without You, I can do nothing (John 15:5). May Your Spirit continue to lead us into all truth; may He give us wisdom, knowledge, insight, understanding, discernment, discretion, and prudence as we serve You WITH You. Amen.

Proverbs 31 7-31-22

Memories from this day 40 years ago…

10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

Robin and I were married 40 years ago today. Thank you for taking the time to relive that day with me.

  • Robin and I were between our Sophomore and Junior years at OBU. We were penniless, but rich in love. We knew many of our school friends would come, so we had everything on one day.
  • We met at FBC, Ardmore, for our wedding rehearsal that morning rather than the night before. Most of us were from somewhere in Oklahoma, so it was convenient for all to drive there that morning.
  • After our rehearsal, we had our rehearsal dinner downstairs in the fellowship hall.
  • For the afternoon, we guys rented a hotel room and spent the day playing in the hotel pool and just hanging out. Robin and her girlfriends were (I think) at her parents’ house.
  • We met back at church; Dale Griffin, my Best Man, and I played impromptu piano duets in the choir room until time for us to take our place outside the entry to the auditorium. Fun times!
  • I watched from the door window until I saw Robin in the back ready to come down the aisle (we were about 15 minutes late because of the people who were waiting to sign the book; I think we had it downstairs at the reception for folks to have another opportunity to sign it).
  • When the music started, I shot out of that door with Dale on my heels! I met Herb and Robin at the front pew.
  • As we progressed through the ceremony, Robin and I had a kneeling bench. The guys had threatened to paint “Help Me” on the bottom of my shoes–and I had forgotten to check! I mentioned it to Robin and we had a good laugh together.
At the kneeling bench…
  • The next thing to happen was Dr. Hopper saying, “And now, Kelly and Janet…” I turned to Robin and said, “Janet?” Was I marrying her mother? We had a good laugh about that later.
  • Since we borrowed Mom’s car, the guys were tasteful in their decoration of it.
  • My Music/Youth Pastor, Norman Gooding, allowed us to use their lake house for our honeymoon. In the picture below, Norman was the one at which I was winking.
Norman was just out of the camera frame…

Two beautiful children, five churches, and four grandchildren later, Robin and I are more madly in love than ever.

Robin, I love you more than words can say. Happy 40th anniversary, Darling.

Abba, thank You for blessing me with such a wonderful, godly woman. I know that my life and my ministry were and are much more successful because of this wise and patient helpmate You placed in my life. May we continue to grow in You and in love with each other in these coming years. Amen.

Proverbs 31 5-31-22

What does it mean to be dead to the world, but alive to God in Christ? Dead how? Alive how?

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute. —
God speaks for us.
Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.
–We are poor and needy.

There are two truths that shed light on Romans 6:11, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” One is that we are made in God’s image. The other is that in Christ, we are counted as dead so that death no longer holds power over us. Let’s look at what Athanasius (296-373 A.D.) had to say about being made in God’s image:

5. Once again, a merely human king does not let
the lands he has colonized pass to others to serve them, nor
go over to other men; but he warns them by letters, and often
sends to them by friends, or, if need be, he comes in person,
to put them to rebuke in the last resort by his presence, only
that they may not serve others and his own work be spent for

Athanasius takes liberties with two parables in his illustration. One is the Parable of the Tenants (Matthew 21:33-41) and the other is The parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14). He takes the king from one and makes him the landowner. He then gives the reasoning for sending his son to correct the situation in the vineyard. Lest his work and his investment be for naught, he takes back control of the vineyard and places it in the hands of willing tenants. The difference in Athanasius’ illustration and Jesus’ parable of the Tenants is that Jesus was referring to the religious leaders whereas Athanasius was referring to mankind in general.

6. Shall not God much more spare His own
creatures, that they be not led astray from Him and serve
things of naught? Especially since such going astray proves
the cause of their ruin and undoing, and since it was
unfitting that they should perish which had once been
partakers of God’s image.

WE are the work and investment of God. It is we who He does not want to lose. We had once been partakers of God’s image, but chose to believe the devil, who told us that we are not worthy of His image. In Genesis 3:8-10, we read that Adam and Eve hid from God; they hid in the garden because they thought themselves unworthy to stand in His presence–this is the lie of the ages. I love God’s response: “Who told you…?” I can almost hear Satan say, “Mmm, mmm, mmm. You ate of the fruit against the command of God. Shame on you. Shame, shame, shame! You’ll never be good enough to be His children.” It’s still one of his best lines today.

7. What then was God to do?
Or what was to be done save the renewing of that which was in
God’s image, so that by it men might once more be able to
know Him? But how could this have come to pass save by
the presence of the very Image of God, our Lord Jesus
Christ? For by men’s means it was impossible, since they are
but made after an image; nor by angels either, for not even
they are (God’s) images. Whence the Word of God came in
His own person, that, as He was the Image of the Father, He
might be able to create afresh the man after the image.

Jesus is the Image of the Father. He came to create afresh the man after the image of God. WOW!

8. But, again, it could not else have taken place had not death
and corruption been done away.

Jesus entered Hades through death and wrested the keys of the power of death away from the devil, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

9. Whence He took, in natural fitness, a mortal body, that
while death might in it be once for all done away, men made
after His Image might once more be renewed. None other
then was sufficient for this need, save the Image of the Father.*

There it is: “men (mankind) made after His Image might once more be renewed.” Our rightful place as His children has been restored. Romans 8:15 says, “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, Father.”

Tomorrow, we will look at being counted as dead to this world.

Abba, thank You for such great wisdom from Athanasius. Knowing that we are Your children, and, as Your children, are deserving of Your name makes me appreciate all the more what You, through Christ, did for me. Jesus, thank You for restoring Your image in me. Amen.

*Athanasius, On the Incarnation, pg. 36

Proverbs 31 3-31-22

Our view of God matters more than we might think. If we fear Him, we will not draw close to Him. “God is love.”

26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Today, we begin with a description by John about God’s character:

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. God is light, therefore, there is nothing to fear.

In case that verse is not enough, John gives us another character trait of the Father in 1 John 4:8,

But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God doesn’t just love; He IS love.

How do we apply what we know about God to what we might have been taught about God?

Imagine a judge in a small town whose son commits a crime. When the son came before the judge, though he loves his son very much, the judge would have to pass sentence on him to pay for his crimes. This type of judgment is costly to both the father and the son, and does not express the love the father has for the son.

Imagine now a rich father whose son gets caught up in drugs. The son steals money from the safe along with several very valuable art pieces from his father’s collection. The police catch the son trying to sell the art pieces and contact the father, asking if he wants to press charges. The father, who loves his son very much, says, “No. Bring him home.” The father then gets the son the help he needs and pays for it out of his own pocket. This type of judgment is beneficial for both the father and the son, and expresses the deep, deep love the father has for the son.

This second illustration also reflects the parable of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:11-32.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

As we can see, the son’s former behavior was nothing to the father compared to him having his son back. And so it is with our heavenly Father. Our former behavior is nothing compared to Him having us back in relationship with Him. We are “safe and secure from all alarms” as we lean on Jesus.

Abba, if we could just get over feeling like we have to do something for You to like us, I think we would come to understand just how much You love us. Transform our minds, Lord, so that we can at least catch glimpses of what it means to rest in the security of Your loving arms. We really are safe! Thank You for being such a loving Father. Amen.

Proverbs 31 1-31-22

Part 3: Two ways of looking at things concerning death, the kingdom of God, and heaven.

9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

So far, we have discussed the interpretation of Jesus’ intent as being one of individual “rescue” where Jesus comes and takes us to be with Him as we die. We have also discussed the possibility that He was talking about the coming of the Holy Spirit so that the Spirit of Jesus could live in each of us. The third interpretation is that He was talking about His resurrection. Let’s look at the timing of His statement:

  1. It’s Jesus’ last night with His disciples. In fact, the day of His crucifixion had started at sundown, so it was actually all the same day to them.
  2. He had told them that where He was going they could not come (John 13:33). Is it possible that He was talking about going to Hades and they couldn’t come because they were not going to die with Him? All of a sudden, His statements about coming to back them take on a Resurrection feel. They were a promise and a prediction at the same time.
  3. The offering of Jesus’ life on the cross was the purpose of His coming (John 12:27). The upcoming events were first and foremost on Jesus’ mind. His instructions were for the immediate future, so the natural flow of the conversation intimates an immediate return. We have this clue in 16:20, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.” When we read in Luke 24:36-42 about Jesus’ appearance to the disciples after His resurrection, we get the distinct impression that they were weeping and lamenting. Jesus had to verify His own appearance by eating a piece of broiled fish. Then they rejoiced (John 20:20).
  4. Jesus had claimed that when the temple of His body was destroyed, that He would raise up a new temple in three days (John 2:19), which was a reference to His death, burial and resurrection. The temple had many rooms in it; the description sure sounds like what Jesus was talking about, “In my Father’s house are many rooms…”

Although I think that Jesus was specifically talking about His resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the individual “rescue” of each soul are still valid interpretations. Let us remember that we are trying to discern the thoughts of people 2,000+ years ago who lived in a different time and culture.

Keep reading and studying!

Abba, thank You for Your Spirit who guides us into all truth. May we always turn to You for discernment. Open our eyes that we may see wonderful truths in Your Word. “Your Word is truth.” Amen.

Proverbs 31 12-31-21

From kidnapping to burglary–Jesus used some extreme illustrations. They all form one great, big picture of salvation.

17 She dresses herself with strength [metaphor] and makes her arms strong.

Yesterday, we saw how we are to become slaves to each other and how Jesus set the bar high for us. He also used the word picture of a ransom, which was what they called the purchase of slaves. That picture was to teach us that Christ bought us out of slavery. This transaction is a good illustration, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Let’s read the next word picture of Christ’s work on the cross:

27 But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man, and then he will plunder his house. Mark 3:27

Here is another use of imagery describing what Jesus did on the cross. He bound Satan and then took us as plunder! Here it is again in Matthew 12:29,

28 But if I cast out the demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or, how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first ties up the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.

The book of Revelation gives us a good illustration of Christ’s work on the cross. We get a good idea of what really happened from Revelation 1:17-18,

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

Jesus now owns death and Hades. He has been given all authority (Matthew 28:18). He has bound the strong man, and He has purchased us from slavery to sin (Romans 6:6) and the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). We are now seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Each of these word pictures could be taken literally, but since some of them seem to oppose each other, we must step back and see them from a larger perspective. Taken as a whole, we begin to see salvation as a diamond with many facets, each facet showing us a part of salvation that makes up the whole. (Another word picture!)

What a wondrous thing the Father has done for us through His Son, Jesus!

Abba, may You continue to open our eyes that we may see wonderful things in Your Word. May we remember that Jesus is the Word incarnate and that we are to run everything through the viewpoint of Jesus. May we seek Your face even as we seek Your truth. Amen.

Proverbs 31 10-31-21

We each have our own perspective. Christ sees all and knows all. He shares His perspective with us via the Spirit.

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman [or man] who fears [Old Testament thinking–New Testament thinking is “loves”] the Lord is to be praised.

To give us an idea of what I mean by perspective, I want to share with you a view with which I was brought up–and then found out about another perspective–and then another! Here are three word pictures of DEATH.

  1. The first picture is our salvation death. We are buried with Christ through baptism into death and raised to walk with Him in new life (Romans 6:4). It is God who has raised us up with Christ (Colossians 2:12) and has seated us with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:5-6). This picture is our positional death.
  2. The second picture concerns our relationship with Christ. Each day, He calls us to die to ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (Luke 9:23). In fact, we have been crucified with Christ and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20). We are instructed to put off the old self and put on the new self, which is created in righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24). This picture is a relational or daily death.
  3. The last picture is actually the first, but it is the latest one I learned. It is our foundational death. When Christ died on the cross, He died for all mankind, and we all died with Him. He did this so that those who so choose will not live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). God justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5) so that they will trust in Him. When they (we) do, their (our) faith is credited to them (us) as righteousness.

See how a metaphor (word picture) can have several different meanings? It’s like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she stepped out of the house (black and white) and into Oz (color). Jesus Christ has so much to show us, but we must allow Him to interpret the Scriptures for us as we read and discuss. If we are in tune with Him, He will not let us get too far off-base.

Tomorrow, I will tell an allegory (a large metaphor) about salvation.

Abba, bless us as we meet to praise You, to talk about Your Word, and to care for each other. It’s important to You, so it is important to us. Amen.

Proverbs 31 8-31-21

Is there ever a reason to speak harshly to someone? Strongly, yes, but unkindly, no. I think Scripture backs me up.

5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights [we must always be in our right mind, accessing the mind of Christ].

One morning, as I was reading through my Scripture cards, I began to play the “What If” game. What if I were to assume the attitude given in the verses I was reading each time I entered into a conversation with someone? How would it change the way I talk and operate? The verses I was reading were:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 4:28-5:2

If I were to consciously quote these verses to myself each time I began a conversation with someone, I would be prepared to put them into practice in the conversation. I know this: My flesh rebelled flagrantly at the idea. “It’s too much work!” “They might not be nice back.” These were a couple of the arguments my flesh made. The Spirit made some good arguments, too, though. “You will be viewed as a godly individual.” “You will be spreading the fragrance of Christ.” “You will be like Me.” The first two were good, but the last one got me. It is my highest goal to be like my Savior, Jesus Christ.

As I was contemplating the idea, other verses began to come to me,

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:2-3

What might happen to all of us if we were to adopt this way of thinking? What would happen to others? Do you think that Christ might be honored and that people would want what we have–or, Who we have? I do, too! Let’s try it, shall we?

Abba, may I make it a habit to mentally run through these verses as I enter into conversations with others. Please remind me, Lord. I need Your power and Your participation to do it! May You be honored. Amen.

Proverbs 31 7-31-21

Today is Robin’s and my 39th anniversary. I love her more every day. She keeps me singing…and laughing!

10 A wife of noble character [Robin] who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband [I] have full confidence in her and lack(s) nothing of [spiritual and relational] value.

As I read through the noble wife’s list of features and accomplishments, I perceive that she is the one in charge of the household.

  • She works from home working with wool and flax making linen garments and sashes;
  • She invests her earnings and turns a profit;
  • She runs the finances and makes allowances for the needy;
  • She takes care of the family, clothing them in scarlet (a sign of spiritual salvation);
  • She is the one who keeps herself in physique and modesty;
  • She is the one who teaches the younger women how to have noble character;
  • 27 “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”

Where is the husband during all of this activity? He’s at the city gate! 23 “Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” It’s like the city hall of today.

Let’s follow this arrangement to its logical conclusion. I have heard it said that “the man is head of his castle.” That may be true in Scotland, but biblically, the man is head of his wife (Ephesians 5:23); SHE is head of the house. Therefore, when I come home each evening, rather than saying, “Woman, where are my slippers?” I come in saying, “Honey, what can I do for you?” Chances are, her day was every bit as rough as mine and probably a whole lot rougher, especially if there are children involved.

Two more things:

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

I happen to have one who is all of these.

31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

I honor Robin for her godly life. May the labors of her life bring her praise “at the city gate!”
Happy anniversary, Darling.

Abba, I praise You for such a wonderful, godly wife. Robin has challenged me daily to be a man of God. She assumes that I will listen and follow Your Spirit. Her faith in me has inspired me and “spurred me on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).” I want to finish well, Lord. She surely is! Thank You for Robin. I love her dearly. Amen.

Proverbs 30 7-30-31

Salvation isn’t about Jesus. Salvation IS Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus comes to us as the Holy Spirit. He IS our salvation, our seal.

4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down [Actually, Jesus answered these question in John 3:13]? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is the name of His Son? Surely you know! His name is JESUS!

This week, we had WACK (Worship Arts Camp for Kids). We presented, “Hans Bronson and His Gold Medal Mission,” which came out in 1996. In the musical, the Gospel was presented using the colors of the Olympic flags:

Black– the color of our sin,
Red– the color of His blood,
White– the color of our cleansing,
Blue– the color of our baptism,
Gold– the color of heaven.

In the musical, Hans was encouraged to make a decision to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior, receive salvation through His blood, and then follow the LORD in baptism. The security of going to heaven was the final payoff. In and of itself, it’s a solid Gospel presentation.

If I would add one thing, it would be the participation of the Holy Spirit. What would that look like? I’m not sure. I know that before Christ, we are dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1-3). How can dead people even desire to know Christ? I also know that unless the Father draws a person, he cannot come to Jesus for salvation (John 6:44). So, how can a person have free will if he has to wait for the Spirit to “quicken” him so that he can desire to know Christ? For that answer, we go to Romans 10:13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The next verse begins to explain the process:

1How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” [It’s still a choice] 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

I am a firm believer that spiritual events take place here on earth through physical means. For instance, Jesus “came” in judgement upon Babylon in “the day of the LORD” (Isaiah 13) through the Medes and Persians. When the word about Christ is shared, I believe that the Father is working through physical means (people, the Bible, trax, people’s lives, etc) to “quicken” a dead soul. It is that soul’s response to this invitation that determines the eternal fate of that soul. To accept Jesus is to accept His Spirit into our lives, where He takes full command. To reject Jesus is to reject His Spirit, thus rendering that soul unprepared for heaven and the Father’s house. Consider these verses:

31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. Matthew 12:31-32

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. 13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 22:11-13

Consider this narrative: “Hans, if you desire to know Jesus, then realize that it is He who has made Himself known to you today. He invites you to become His. If you give all you know of yourself to all you know of Him, the Spirit of Jesus will come into your life as Lord. Are you willing to accept His invitation?”

  1. Hans now knows that Jesus is doing the revealing and the inviting;
  2. Hans now knows that he doesn’t have to be perfect to come to Christ;
  3. Hans now knows that he doesn’t have to know everything about Christ;
  4. Hans now knows that he must give Jesus his life;
  5. Hans now knows that the Spirit of Jesus will come into his life;
  6. Hans now knows that He WILL be Lord;
  7. Hans now knows that He is waiting for Han’s acceptance of His invitation.

I know for a fact that the musical planted the seed of the Gospel into the heart of one young girl. I will be praying that the Lord will reveal Himself to her soon and invite her to be His, and that she will happily accept Him into her heart and life as Lord. Please join me in this prayer.

Abba, I pray for my new friend that You will call her to be Yours soon. Move in her heart so that she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that You are calling her. I am hoping that she will give her life to You even as I did so many years ago. Bind the enemy, Lord. Keep him away from her as she contemplates what she has heard and sung. May another soul be snatched from the flame, O Lord! Amen.

Proverbs 31 5-31-21

Jesus died on the cross because He wanted to. It was the only way to save us and win us back!

8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…speak up and judge fairly…

Why did Jesus have to die? Why wasn’t there some other way to save mankind?

There are two things that we need to keep in mind as we ponder these questions. One is that God is holy by nature. He just is. Everything about Him is holy. In fact, we could easily say that He is the definition of holiness. The other thing is that He has given mankind free will, which is a game-changer.

When put together, these two give us the nature of how things work between God and man. God interacts with us, but He doesn’t interfere, which means that He guides our steps, but He doesn’t make us take them. We either enjoy the benefits of our good choices or we experience the consequences of our bad choices.

Lest we think that our salvation is up to us, we must consider things from God’s perspective: He is holy and Adam and Eve chose to disobey. Their rebellion and subsequent blame-game was unholy. In His omniscience, God knew that we would rebel and make the same poor choice, so in His omnipotence, God built in a fail-safe so that when Adam fell, he became mankind’s representative and all mankind would fall with him. In this way, God knew that another Representative could then pay the price for Adam’s sin and therefore all of mankind. Let’s look at the Scriptures:

17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Romans 5:17 Even in the NIV, it’s a little difficult to understand. Let’s try the NLT:

17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.

This grace that God provided for us is His undeserved favor. He chose us to be His (Ephesians 1:4). He has poured over us His blessings rather than His wrath (John 3:18 and 1 John 3:1).

The gift of righteousness is Jesus Himself. Jesus paid the price for us and bought us back! Since Jesus is God in the flesh, we can say that God became flesh and paid for us Himself (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23, John 1:14). Jesus now lives in us and gives us all we need for righteous living (2 Peter 1:3). We are clothed in His righteousness (Romans 13:14).

So, why did Jesus have to die? So that God, in His great love, could remain holy and just by making it so that we could be redeemed by One Representative, Jesus. Simple, right? Hardly! We will be pondering the depths of this question and God’s amazing love throughout eternity. In the meantime, let’s praise Him and thank Him for His amazing grace, His tender mercies, and His love that He lavishes on us each day.

Abba, You are wonderful! To think that You love us so much to send Your Son to die for us so that we could be reunited with You is too much to grasp. May You continue to open up our minds to all that You have done for us and all that You are going to do for us when You return or we go to You. I can hardly wait! Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 31 3-31-21

Jesus came to set things right between us and the Father. Those who did not accept Him paid a heavy price. Still do.

8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. 9 Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

We will never know what Jesus would have done for Jerusalem and the people of Israel if they had believed in Him as their Messiah. Instead, they followed their own wicked hearts and it led them to destruction, as it does for all of us. Just know that judgement was not God’s desire. We find His desire in 2 Peter 3:9, “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Jesus Laments over Jerusalem

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”

Scene: Jesus was leaving the temple area. His parting words were not just to the religious leaders, but also to the city itself and its history. His heart breaks as He mourns over her. When, at last, her Messiah came, she refused Him. Now, she will be desolate.

There are two schools of thought concerning verse 39. One is that He was referring to Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit came. Since He and the Spirit are One, then Jesus did, indeed, come at Pentecost. The other school of thought is that Jesus was referring to His REAL triumphal entry described in Revelation 19:11-16 and Zechariah 14:3-9. The interesting part is that BOTH can be correct.

Chapter 24 begins with Jesus walking away. Someone called His attention to the beautiful buildings. Jesus’ response was cryptic: And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” He was referring to the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D, which brought to a close the temple sacrifices. I will not print the entire passage here, but I will make some comments:

  1. The tearing of the veil upon Jesus’ death and the Coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost heralded in the New Covenant of love and grace where Jesus lives in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. The sacrificial system ended there, but was not brought to a close until 70 A.D. because the religious leaders refused to believe that Jesus was Messiah. Jesus had to do it for them (from an earthly perspective, they brought it upon themselves with their rebellion from Rome).
  2. The Olivette (on the Mount of Olives; see v3) Discourse is widely disputed. There are some key verses that bear scrutiny.
    1. Verses 4-14: Many of the verses were fulfilled in the 40 years between Jesus’ resurrection and the Fall of Jerusalem. The Greek word for “whole world” is the same one that Luke used in Luke 2:1, which is translated as “Roman Empire.” It specifically means, “known world.” If so, then it refers to the Destruction of Jerusalem. If it refers to the entire world, then it is ongoing, as is Acts 1:8.
    2. Verses 15-26: Using Scripture to interpret Scripture, there are two ways to view these verses:
      1. Luke 21:20-27 helps give a point of reference. History states that Vespasian marched on Israel from the North taking Galilee, Central Israel, and then circled around Jerusalem taking Judea, and then started to tighten the noose on Jerusalem when he got word that Nero had committed suicide and was being called back to Rome, so he withdrew. It was some time before his son, Titus, was appointed to deal with Jerusalem. Luke’s passage now makes sense. The desolation talked about is the destruction of the temple and the erecting of a pagan altar in its place by Titus. It was Rome’s way of finalizing their victory over Israel.
      2. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 is another passage that is used to interpret “the abomination that causes desolation.” Many see this passage as a future event along with Matthew 24:15-31.
    3. Verses 28-30: Some see the destruction of Jerusalem as history that has been fulfilled from a heavenly perspective, much like Jesus coming against Israel through Assyria and Babylon (see Micah 1:3-7, Isaiah 13:9-11 and Zephaniah 1:14-16 for examples).
    4. Verses 30-31: Many see these verses as a future event. It can certainly be read that way, and I am sure that Jesus will come again with power and great glory. It can also be interpreted as a fulfillment of the judgement passed on Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Even the part where Jesus gathers His elect can be seen as the gathering of all Christians who fled Jerusalem, or an ongoing event rather than a future one. The language used is what is called prophet-speak, and can be read all over the Old Testament (a good example is Daniel 7:13-14 where the term, “coming in the clouds,” stands for His power and great glory).
    5. Verse 34: The term, “generation,” has been interpreted in many ways. Jesus used it often (six times in Matthew, three times in Mark, 10 times in Luke, and in Acts 2:40) and meant the people to whom He was talking. It may have a more general use concerning a future date.
  3. Regardless of our eschatological view, we come away from this passage with some basic truths:
    1. Jesus will return.
    2. No one knows when.
    3. Exact interpretation of this passage is not paramount.
    4. We are to learn the lesson of obedience to Christ from it.

In Jerusalem, on Wednesday, day 14 of the month of Nisan in 30 A.D, Jesus died on a cross. We, as does most of the world, do not go by a lunar calendar as Israel does, but by the Roman solar calendar, so our “Easter” sometimes does not coincide with the true week of Passover. This year, it’s off by four days. Even so, let us give solemn consideration to today as we remember our Lord’s death in our place.

Abba, I love You. Thank You for Jesus and His substitute sacrifice (propitiation) for me on that cross. Because of Him, I am now Your beloved and adopted son, brother to Jesus, and co-heir with Him! May all of my brothers and sisters in Christ give You praise today. WE ARE GRATEFUL! Amen.

Proverbs 31 1-31-21

We know when the Spirit of God speaks to our hearts because we feel the conviction of the Spirit in us. It’s tangible.

2 Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb! Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!

King Lemuel’s mother prayed for her son that he would listen to her advice, and it was sound advice (verses 3-9). In the same way, our heavenly Father wants us to listen to Him. He now lives inside His followers through the Spirit. We can talk to Him anytime and He talks to us all the time! What does He say? Pick any verse or passage in the Bible that is pertinent to our circumstance and that is what He is saying. Many times, it’s in what I call, “picture form;” another way of putting it is a zip file. We get an idea of what is the right thing to think or do, then we fill it out with Scripture, many times after the fact. Our obedience is key to understanding.

Do we recognize when we are being prompted by our own spirits? How can we tell the difference? There are some clues to knowing which one is speaking. It’s effectively the put off/put on list found in Colossians 1:1-17, and looks something like this:

  1. Entitled–Selfless
  2. Proud–Abandoned
  3. Vain–Humble
  4. Impatient–Kind
  5. Selfish–Self-denying
  6. Angry–Compassionate
  7. Slothful (lazy)–Diligent
  8. Lustful–Pure thoughts
  9. Spiteful–Forgiving
  10. Full of rage–Gentle
  11. Hateful–Loving
  12. Gluttonous–Moderate

Some of these characteristics overlap and some are the extreme of others. Some are descriptive of a lifestyle while some burn brightly for only a moment. All of them are driven by emotion and desire. We need His higher desire in order to overcome our own selfish desires, that want-to to want to. In order to become mature spiritually, we must be willing to die to self and allow Him to guard and guide our thoughts.

“Change the way you think and you’ll change the way you feel.” Beth Moore

Dave Ramsey has a motto that says, “Do what you don’t want to now (save, get/stay out of debt) so that you can do what you want to later (with the money you have saved).” I believe that his motto goes well with today’s lesson, “Feel what you don’t want to now (choosing the right thing rarely feels good at the moment) so that you can feel what you want to later (His peace and His joy in our choosing His will over our own, along with all the fruit of the Spirit). The best way I know is to quit asking ourselves what we want to do and start asking the Spirit what He wants us to do. Then, we go dig in the Scriptures to find His answer to our situation. Asking for advice is generally a good idea, but only after we have made the effort to find the answer ourselves. Confirmation goes a long way.

Abba, finding answers to my questions in Your Word is exciting and encouraging because I can trust You as my Source for Truth. May my readers find seeking Your will in Scripture as exciting as I do. May You reveal Yourself to us as we read, study, and discuss Your Word. Amen.

Proverbs 31 12-31-20

We could consider 2020 a bust, but God uses everything in our lives to teach us and to grow us. Recognizing His hand is key.

11 Her [The Wife of Noble Character] husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value [not only material goods, but integrity and stature, as well].

There are other examples in the Bible of people with noble character:

  • Joseph was a person of integrity. He was loyal to whatever master he served, first Potiphar (Genesis 39:2-6)–twice, actually, if we count his refusal of Potiphar’s wife’s advances (Genesis 39:11-12), then the prison warden (Genesis 39:21-23), then Pharaoh himself (Genesis 41:41-44), then to his wife, Asenath (Genesis 41:45, 50), and then to his family (the rest of Genesis).
  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were men of integrity. They were loyal to the LORD in defiance of King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3).
  • Daniel was a person of integrity. He, too, was loyal to the LORD in defiance of King Neb’s decree, but loyal to King Neb at the same time (Daniel 6).

God is the same way. Philippians 1:6 tell us that “we have confidence in this, that He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus [either He returns, or we go to be with Him individually].”

Concerning this past year, how are we to view it? For the right viewpoint, let’s turn to Philippians 3:13-14.

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

  1. We’re not there, yet, so don’t get impatient (my problem!). Sanctification (becoming like Jesus) is a process that will take every day on this earth, and then some! Enjoy the process with Him.
  2. Forgetting means “to set aside.” We don’t allow memories (especially of past offenses) to color our decisions today. God “remembers our sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12), so we should do the same–even our own!
  3. Instead, let’s strain toward what is ahead, which is Christ-likeness. And, the best way to become like Him is to know Him intimately (we’ll get to that in a minute).
  4. The goal to which we press is this: “…a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” 2 Timothy 4:8.

How do we know Christ intimately? First, we consider loss the “gains” of this world (Philippians 3:7). Second, we make knowing Christ Jesus our Lord the ultimate–and ONLY–goal of this life (Philippians 3:8). Third, we recognize that our righteousness comes only through our faith in Christ (Philippians 3:9). And fourth, we desire to know Him in His resurrection, which are the powerful and glorious times, and His sufferings, which are the difficult and painful times (Philippians 3:10).

Christ lives in us.
We live in Christ.
Knowing Christ is all.

We have our marching orders. Let’s count on the Spirit to give us first the desire and then the power to do it!

Abba, as I look back on this year, I see in myself victories and defeats. But, I also see You walking alongside me giving me encouragement, instruction, and Your wise counsel. Thank You for Your faithfulness! I look forward to this next year being more of the same, but hopefully in bigger strides. Amen.

Proverbs 31 10-31-20

Today: A look at a woman of noble character, and All Hallows Eve (Halloween).

10 A wife [woman] of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

When addressing this passage, we must remember that in Solomon’s and King Lemuel’s society, the chief purpose of women was to marry, bear children, and take care of the household. While these tasks are still true today, our society is more open to single women who contribute in other ways. So, we will address the woman of noble character.

What attributes are listed?
v.12 She works to add to her home and to society.
v.13-14 She is enterprising.
v.15 She provides for her household (probably a good cook!). NOTE: Robin likes this particular verse; she says that a person who has servants can actually DO ALL that is listed in this chapter! I think she does.
v.16-19 More enterprise.
v.20 She is generous.
v.21 She prepares for the future, especially for difficult days.
v.22 She keeps herself only for her husband or husband-to-be (it is Christ who is her Bridegroom).
v.22b She keeps herself looking nice.
v.23 She gives good advice to her husband, boss, co-worker, etc.
v.24 More enterprise.
v.25 She has godly character and confidence.
v.26 She teaches younger women how to be godly.
v.27 She is vigilant concerning her household.

Actually, we men would do well to be just like her!

All Hallows Eve

Otherwise known as Halloween, this day is the eve of All Saints Day, which began as a type of Memorial Day for saints who have gone on to heaven. Though there are many saints who are well-known for their faith and sacrifice to the Gospel of Christ, the day serves to remember all Christians who have gone on to glory.

Through time and the mixing of Celtic mythology, the eve of All Saints Day took on a dark side as it morphed into these myths:

  1. The souls of the departed wander the earth that night.
  2. Demons had free reign for a limited time.
  3. Jack-o-lanterns were carved to ward off evil spirits.
  4. Dressing up in disguises kept dead souls from recognizing a person.
  5. Trick-or-treating is really a type of extortion: “If you don’t give me candy, I will deface your property.” Interesting, no? The giving of treats was originally about celebrating All Saints Day. Talk about a departure…

I’m not necessarily discouraging Trick-or-treating; I am just encouraging Christians to know what they are celebrating and why. Tomorrow, we will look at some saints worth remembering. For today, let’s pray for His Kingdom to come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Abba, may You make us wise as serpents, but as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). Give us discernment concerning tonight and tomorrow. May You be honored and magnified in all things, especially in my life. Amen.

Proverbs 31 8-31-20

Who we are determines what we do. Our character is much more important to the LORD than our acts of service.

10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

King Lemuel’s mother was a woman of great character. We find what she considers important in the first nine verses of this chapter.

Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
    Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!

We find in this verse that she is a woman of faith. Because of her values, we can determine that it is the LORD to whom she prays.

Do not spend your strength on women,
    your vigor on those who ruin kings.

This verse deals with the temptation of kings to “overdo it” in the sexual department (is that a polite way of saying it?). God designed us to be one man for one woman for life. We are to keep it simple (the simpler things are, the easier they are to maintain). As wise as Solomon was, he failed in this area. His 700 wives and 300 concubines pulled him away from the LORD in his later years (1 kings 11:4).

It is not for kings, Lemuel—
    it is not for kings to drink wine,
    not for rulers to crave beer,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
    and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.

The king (remember that we are the King’s children) must never allow himself to be without his wits. The only person/thing that is to control us is the Holy Spirit. Paul said it this way, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit…” Ephesians 5:18.

Let beer be for those who are perishing,
    wine for those who are in anguish!
Let them drink and forget their poverty
    and remember their misery no more.

We don’t know to what she is referring in these verses. Was it true poverty? Was it sickness? We don’t know what she meant by anguish. In our culture, we have medicines that bring health, so drinking to forget our woes is not necessary–and a bad idea! Talk about complicating matters…!

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.

These two verses give us our strongest clues to her character. She was concerned for the poor, for those who are at the mercy of the rich and powerful. She taught her son to rule with mercy and with equity. In these ways, he would be pleasing to the LORD.

We have an edge on King Lemuel’s mother: We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us! He gives us the desire and the power to do His will. We get to interact with Jesus all the time. In fact, this interaction was the point of the cross! The question is: Are we taking full advantage of our salvation? Are we interacting with our LORD all the time?

Whenever we are prompted to read our Bibles, pray, be merciful, take care of the needy, meet another person’s needs, etc. it is the Holy Spirit who is bringing it to our attention. If we see another person in need, but feel a tension/restriction that keeps us from helping, that, too, is the Holy Spirit. We must learn to discern. This ability comes through practice and dependence upon Him.

Let’s be people of character today, His character, as we interact with the Holy Spirit.

Abba, may You continue the process of transforming us by conforming us into the image of Your Son, Jesus. Chisel away, Father! Amen.

Proverbs 31 7-31-20

Today I honor the most noble woman I know: Robin. She has been my wife and friend for 38 years today.

10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Every morning we get up and spend the first few hours of the day reading and praying separately, yet together. We study in the same room, so if we want to discuss something, we can. Otherwise, we get absorbed in what we are doing and allow each other to converse with the LORD uninterrupted. Many times, we open our prayer time with this verse:

18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.

And He does! Each morning, He shows us new things, things we didn’t know. It’s amazing that there is always something new to learn about God’s word. In fact, He promises to share new insights with us, “This is what the LORD says, He who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it– the LORD is His name: ‘Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'” It’s like opening a treasure chest each morning. The ironic thing is that I am memorizing specific passages out of Ephesians, so I read them every morning, and the LORD speaks new things to me about the SAME PASSAGES each morning!

24 Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.

The more we read, the more we delight in His word, His presence, and His participation in our lives. We come to rely on Him and His word for guidance about everything–or, at least, we are trying.

27 Cause me to understand the way of Your precepts, that I may meditate on Your wonderful deeds.

This verse is the prayer of our heart. Without His Spirit opening our minds and the eyes of our heart, there is NO WAY for us to even begin to understand what He is saying. He is our Point of Reference (I accidentally typed, “Reverence” which would have worked!).

32 I run in the path of Your  commands, for You have broadened my understanding.

As we get older, we run less, but our spirits are being renewed daily (2 Corinthians 4:16). As He broadens our minds, we learn to maneuver quickly between passages and teachings. Old lessons are lessons learned well. New lessons keep us “young” in our minds. And He is always teaching us!

Robin, I love you and thank you for staying close to Jesus. I can’t wait to stand in His presence, can you?! Happy Anniversary.

Abba, it is the desire of our hearts to be with You and see You in Your glory, the glory You have had since before the creation of the world (John 17:24). Until then, may You continue to make Your presence known in our lives in each other, to each other. In Your name I pray, amen.

Proverbs 31 5-31-20

Civil unrest is alway unsettling. It is nearly always taken advantage of by those who would wreak havoc. PRAY!

9 Speak up judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Justice is being performed, the perpetrators charged. Our sympathy goes out to the family. How are demonstrations going to help? They usually bring senseless violence and are an excuse for some to spread fear and chaos. There are those who are “obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.” Ephesians 2:2What we need to remember is that people act out of their sinful nature and are being led.

We also need to remember that “all of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.” Ephesians 2:3. They need the LORD. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to fall on our nation beginning right here in OKC.

Heavenly Father, first of all, I want to thank You for the next verses in Ephesians 2, which tell us that because of Your great love and mercy, you have made us alive in Christ Jesus and have seated us in the heavenly realms with You! So, I turn to You, Abba, and ask for Your Holy Spirit to fall like fire upon our city, upon our state, and upon our country. May REVIVAL begin at Brookwood or one of our sister churches. May we see an outpouring of Your love and mercy and grace upon us. Call us to prayer, LORD, then empower us and embolden us to speak Your salvation and Your truth to everyone to whom You direct us, whether neighbors or congressmen.

Abba, we can’t have business as usual this morning. We are in a battle! Call us into service, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 31 3-31-20

Need something to do? God has provided us with the perfect opportunity to get to know Him better!

26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

How do we get wisdom? What is faithful instruction? If wisdom is seeing from God’s perspective, then it follows that we get wisdom from God. How so? By spending time with Him so He can impart knowledge to us. His faithful instruction to us allows us to give faithful instruction to others.

A whole lot of the process of His Word and praying is our EXPOSURE TO HIM. His sheer presence washes over us and we absorb His attributes of love, joy, peace, hope, grace, excellence, truth, nobility, purity, long-suffering, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and even self-control–especially self-control! Also, the more we know of His Word, the more He has with which to work when it comes to reminding us of everything He has said (see John 14:26).

Let me ask some pertinent questions:

  1. If spending time with the LORD each day is not important to you, then why did you get saved? The purpose of salvation is to CONNECT us with the Father through Jesus Christ by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
  2. Could God have immobilized our country in order to cause people to slow down and focus on Him? If so, then let’s not waste this opportunity!
  3. Is the Word of God not pleasant to you or understandable to you? There may be a problem:
    1. Make sure that there is no sinfulness looming in your closet. Sin keeps us turned away from Him and acts as a barrier between Him and us.
    2. Is your version of the Bible the best one for you? There are many out there that are good translations. I heard from a friend, “Which translation is right for you? The one you’ll pick up and read.” That said, I would be happy to recommend one. Let’s talk.
    3. Are you reading in the right place in the Bible? Even though the Bible begins at the Beginning, it is not in chronological order. Nor is it necessarily meant to be read as a novel. Even though there is a story-line, the Bible is more a resource book where we go to specific books and chapters and even particular verses pertaining to specific things, ideas, events, etc. It is a reference book for godly living and the story of God reaching out to mankind.

When it comes to starting to read God’s Word, I would recommend the following:

  1. Begin with 1 John. There are 11 verses concerning how to tell if one is saved. It talks of the essence of salvation (4:10), the anointing of the Holy Spirit (2:20), how loved by the Father we are (3:1), and the assurance we have in approaching God (5:13-14).
  2. Read the Gospels next in this order: Mark, Matthew, Luke and then John.
    1. Mark is Peter’s memoirs that were written down by John Mark near the end of Peter’s life (around 62 AD).
    2. Matthew was a disciple of Jesus. He wrote specifically to his fellow Jews.
    3. Luke was a Greek follower who traveled with Paul on many of his adventures. His viewpoint was specifically to a Greek friend named Theophilus (1:3), and covered in detail Jesus’ birth and death/resurrection. He also loved the teachings of Jesus.
    4. John is the last Gospel written. John was the youngest disciple and was “the one Jesus loved” (John 13:23). Evidently, John was like a young brother to Jesus. His Gospel is written to show that Jesus was God in the flesh (1:14). Want to know Jesus personally? Read this book!
  3. From there, I would recommend Romans because of its doctrine of Grace, and Ephesians after that because of its how-to approach. Remember this about Ephesians: The first three chapters are doctrine; the last three chapters are application.
  4. From this point, it’s according to where the Spirit leads you. If you feel led to read Hebrews, please have your computer handy to search verses. Be ready to look back into the Old Testament to learn about the sacrificial system. ALL OF IT points to Jesus and his mission!
  5. Two more things:
    1. For Revelation, have a commentary on hand. You’ll need it!
    2. If you haven’t read the Bible in chronological order yet, it’s a great way to get a timeline of Scripture. Your eyes will be opened to who was alive with whom. It helps to have some kind of historical overview that keeps up with extra-historical happenings, i.e. Egypt, Canaan, Babylon, Persia, etc. and how they all came together in Scripture.

As we read, let’s remember that the Bible is God talking to us. We must be sure to keep our minds open to His voice while we read. Stop and write down anything that you hear from Him. Chase every rabbit! It’s usually Him pointing out some cool fact. 🙂 Linking verses is what we call “stringing pearls.”

May we redeem our time at home by spending time with the LORD. We certainly don’t want to miss this golden opportunity!

Abba, I have really enjoyed the extra time to read, study, write, and pray. May I get into the habit and keep it when things finally get back to normal. May we all gain from this hiatus in our schedules. Bless us, O LORD, with a sense of Your presence and delight in us as we spend time with You. Amen.

Proverbs 31 1-31-20

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit is what makes us children of God. He is our “proof” of salvation. Listen to Him.

1 A Wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

How did she get that way?  From where did her noble character come? It came from the Spirit of God! Part of her “getting up early (v.15)” is about having her time with the LORD, orienting herself to His will and His purposes. We would do well to do the same! Paul tells us how in Ephesians 4:

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 

Grieve- to distress mentally; cause to feel grief or sorrow; to quench or restrict. To ignore. Humanly, it causes consternation and frustration and even disappointment, but those are human traits. God, in His Omniscience, KNOWS our weaknesses and has made provision for them through His GREAT love and grace through the cross.

Rather than living in a constant state of fear that we might grieve the Holy Spirit, He wants us to live in confident fellowship with Him so that by being with Him we (super) naturally do what He desires and is leading us to do. Consider these verses:

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

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 [in intimate fellowship], and they with me. Revelation 3:20

But if we walk in the light [walking with the Spirit], as he is in the light [as Jesus did], we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

24 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. 1 John 3:24

25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25

Jesus never asks us to do something that He is not ready to empower us to do. Granted, He may not empower us until we begin to try, so don’t wait on a feeling to get started. Let’s follow a thread concerning this concept:

If Philippians 2:13 is true and He gives me first the desire and then the power to do His will, then as I begin to put off my old self, “which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires” (Eph. 4:22), I will feel His participation and His presence, and ultimately, His power as He works in and through me. As I sense Him, I can now focus on putting on the new self, “created in righteousness and holiness” (v.24). I have an active role in my “being made new in the attitude of my mind” (v.23). All the details fall under this procedure.

May we strive to put this procedure into action today–all day, many times today.

Abba, even as I point others to this truth, I realize that I have three fingers pointing back at me! May I live what I “preach” as I go through today, and tomorrow, and the rest of my life. I understand that Your blessing and Your pleasure are waiting for me through my interactive obedience. I know that when I walk in step with You that I feel the love, joy, peace, hope and grace emanating from Your Presence. You DESIRE me to experience these attributes! May I take advantage of all of the benefits of being Your child, O God. Amen.


Proverbs 31 12-31-19

The Secret to Happiness: What makes the LORD happy makes US happy. We feel His pleasure, and it’s worth anything.

30 …a woman who fears [honors] the LORD is to be praised. 28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her…

Today is the last day of the year. As we look back, for whom have you lived your life? Each day, as you got up, was your first question, “What am I going to do today?” I suggest this question for the new year, “Lord, what are we going to do today?” Here’s the thought process:

  1. IF we are forgiven of our sins forever, THEN we are eternally grateful to Him.
  2. IF we have the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives 24/7, THEN we are always with Him and He is always with us.
  3. IF we acknowledge His constant presence in our lives, THEN we will experience His Power, His Participation, our Position in Him, His Purity (which becomes our purity), and His Passion, which is His Bride, the Church.

The daily benefits we receive from walking in the Spirit are feeling and receiving His love, joy, peace, hope and grace that emanate from Him. Pleasing Him pleases us.

There are other things that we receive from Him by walking with Him, and they are patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22-23), truth, righteousness (Eph. 5:9), faith, knowledge, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love (2 Peter 1:5-7).

The best way to begin our walk with Him is by reading His Word, our Bibles. Why?

  1. It’s ALIVE! His Spirit speaks to us as we read it as though He is writing it just for us. In a sense, He is, because the same Spirit that speaks to the writer (Moses, Isaiah, etc.) and tells him what to write also lives in us, who speaks to us the same words and instills within us the same message and intent.
  2. It transforms us. If we want to be more like Christ, then we MUST read His Word (see above explanation).
  3. We are to hide its words in our hearts (Psalm 119:11), because it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (119:105).

Statistically, people who read the Bible four or more days a week live different lives than those who read 3 days a week or less. Why is that? Because the Spirit of God begins to mold us and shape us into His image; we begin to catch His vision and embrace it; we start to feel Him and sense His presence; we experience all the blessings that flow from Him to us. Here’s an excerpt from “The Power of 4”:

The Power of 4 Effect

 The Power of 4

A key discovery from the CBE research is that the life of someone who engages scripture 4 or more times a week looks radically different from the life of someone who does not. In fact, the lives of Christians who do not engage the Bible most days of the week are statistically the same as the lives of non-believers.

Someone who engages the Bible 4 or more times a week is:

228% more likely to share faith with others [Why? Because their faith means something to them. They have a walking, working relationship with Jesus]
407% more likely to memorize scripture [Why? Because they find it helpful, even vital, in their daily lives]
59% less likely to view pornography [Why? Because Jesus gives them a higher purpose than self-gratification, which is being like Him in godliness and holiness]

30% less likely to struggle with loneliness [Why? Because Jesus lives IN THEM and is WITH THEM 24/7]


As we begin this next year, let’s make it all about Jesus, shall we? We will find ourselves happier than we have ever been regardless of the circumstances that will come this year. Pleasing Him pleases us.

Abba, it’s all about You and Your Plan. May I not only submit to it, may I embrace it and work willingly and enthusiastically to further it along. Please keep opening my mind to Your truth, O Lord. May I stay vigilant in keeping my eyes on You. Guard my heart; renew my mind; transform me into Your image, Jesus. I want to be just like You. Amen.

Proverbs 31 10-31-19

Arguing to win is actually losing. We must win with a goal. That goal must be connection. Otherwise, we are doing more harm than good.

26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

When we say something and how we say it are every bit as important as what we say. If a person is angry, it’s not a good time to try to reason with him/her. If a person is belligerent, then reason is not something to which he/she will listen. Also, beware of being lured into an argument on someone else’s terms. IT’S A TRAP!”

What do we look for when we need to tell someone the truth? Considering that this chapter is about the virtuous woman, I have asked my virtuous wife to help me with the following list:

  1. We must be able to do it in love.
  2. It must be for their benefit.
  3. Do I have the right to talk to him/her about the subject?
  4. Am I the right person for this task?
  5. Am I right scripturally?
  6. Is the Holy Spirit prompting me?
  7. We must not condemn, but aim for repentance and reconciliation.

This list is based upon Matthew 7:5, 18:15-17, 1 Cor. 5:12-13, John 7:24, Eph. 4:15, 32, Gal. 6:1. I’m sure there are other scriptures we could add. If you run across one, please send it to me!

When it comes to evolution, we must be looking for an opportunity to give the Holy Spirit inroads into the lives of the proponents. Obviously, they have bought the lie and are being fueled by the feeling that they are in control of their own destinies. It’s a powerful feeling. In my own experience, this is what I do:

  1. After a quick prayer, I ask the person if he is really interested in my opinion.
  2. If no, then I get out of the conversation as quickly as possible, skipping to #6 if I can.
  3. If yes, then I ask him to figuratively remove himself from the Judge’s seat and allow God to be on His throne. In other words, don’t accuse God and demand Him to explain Himself–even through me. It gives the person the right heart attitude.
  4. I must word the argument in a way that gives the person an out. It’s called “saving face.” It’s important for their dignity.
  5. The problems I have with evolution are:
    1. We cannot get life from non-life. Chemical reactions cannot produce life under the natural physical laws.
    2. Higher information from low information on a cellular level cannot happen. The information must be latent from the beginning.
    3. There is no way around irreducible complexity. Everything in life has a complexity about it that cannot be reduced past a certain point.
    4. There is no room for God in evolution. Reason itself comes from Him. To argue the point of evolution is self-defeating.
    5. This conversation today has the potential of the person being introduced to the Creator of the universe. Ask him if he is willing to ask God to reveal Himself to him.
  6. Personal testimony is important. Tell him about the time you met Christ.
  7. Be willing to wait for an answer. Also, try to end the conversation on an amicable note.

It’s all about connection. We have no idea when or how the Holy Spirit will use the information. We just know that He will and we pray that he listen to Him.

This subject will be coming up more and more often at work and church as secular humanism continues to take over our public schools. We must “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you [us] to give the reason for the hope that you [we] have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” 1 Peter 3:15.

Abba, I can only think that You are preparing me for many of these kinds of conversations. May they be spiritual ones and not just academic ones. I want them to matter in people’s lives concerning their relationship with You. I realize that ultimately the decision comes down to them; my job is to be a witness and the messenger. YOU do the convicting and YOU do the saving–if they receive the Truth and are willing to receive You. Use me, Abba, as You see fit. I am Yours. Amen.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 (NIV)

24 And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.