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.