Archive for the ‘Proverbs’ Category

Proverbs 28 1-28-20

January 28, 2020

I have come to believe that without prayer, Christianity is powerless and useless. It’s all about the relationship!

The Bible was written so that God can easily communicate with His people. It’s one of the ways He talks to us. It teaches us to pray. Even as far back as Solomon, we learn how to pray:

5 Evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully

13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

14 Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.

Both Matthew and Luke included Jesus’ model prayer for us. We will use Matthew’s:

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’”

  • We recognize Him as our Father, we acknowledge Him in heaven, and we proclaim His holy name.
  • We pray for His kingdom to come to earth and that His will may be done here as it is in heaven–even in our own lives.
  • We ask Him to meet our needs today even as He met the Israelites’ needs in the desert (Deut. 8:3-5).
  • We ask for a cleansed and right heart AFTER we have forgiven those who have offended us, who owe us, and who hurt us.
  • We KNOW He will not lead us into temptation (we state the obvious for emphasis), and then ask Him for deliverance and protection from the evil one, who leads us into temptation. May we not follow the evil one BECAUSE the Father leads us in another direction.

Jesus also emphasized the privacy of prayer, the personal level of prayer, and the assurance of prayer.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Our connection and camaraderie with the Father are tied together in prayer. Our access to Father-God and His throne of grace has been opened to us through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). Jesus Himself has come to live in our hearts via the Holy Spirit. Why would we WANT to live this life apart from them?!!!

Let’s set aside any and all things that hinder us from seeking Him. In my life, I must control what I put into my body so that I feel well and will have a clear mind with which to hear Him; I must limit what I watch electronically because it tends to distract me, lead my mind down paths that I should not go, and wastes my time so that I must shorten–and even abandon–my prayer and reading time with the LORD. We must consciously and deliberately make Him a priority in our lives. We can even start our prayers with, “Lord, You know I don’t feel like doing this, so please renew my heart, my mind, and my will in You…” Now, THAT’S a prayer that He will answer right away!

Abba, even though I know that You are a thought away, I still find myself living life without consulting You or even acknowledging You. Please call me into prayer with You so that I can establish a habit of turning to You for answers to all things. I know that if I spend time with You, I become more and more like You, thus making me holy, righteous, without fault (Jesus finds no fault in me) and blameless (if I am under His command, then I am blameless). I know that You will soon present me to the Father with great joy (Jude 24); I am sure looking forward to that day! Amen.

Proverbs 27 1-27-20

January 27, 2020

It’s a new work week. Have we armored up? Prayed up? Read up? Have we asked Him for counsel? Let’s do it!

24 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; 24 for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.

Assessing our current situation with an objective mind sometimes requires an objective opinion from an outside source. Having a Christian brother or sister ask us questions like these is a good idea:

  1. Is how we are living God-honoring?
  2. Is what we are doing helping us reach our goals?
  3. Are our goals based upon the Holy Spirit’s leadership or on our own desires?

Bucket lists are great, but not at the expense of what God is wanting you to do for His kingdom. Routine is good, but only if it meets the current needs of the situation. Unnecessary change is NOT good; keep what is working and adjust what is not.

12 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

As we look into the future, we must remember what James said:

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

The implication is for us to check with the LORD everyday and follow His lead. It is according to His will that we do anything of Kingdom value. THAT IS the point, isn’t it? Kingdom value? Doing things a certain way because we like them a certain way is self-serving and there is NO Kingdom value to it. It’s the difference between gold, silver and precious gems vs. wood, hay and stubble (1 Cor. 3:12).

If we truly want revival for ourselves, for our church, for our city, state, and country, even the entire world, we MUST take stock on a personal level and allow the Holy Spirit to deal with us first. The old revival hymn goes like this,

Lord, send a revival,

Lord, send a revival,

Lord, send a revival,

and let it begin in me.

Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to begin revival in our hearts as we take stock of our present situation and then our future. May it all be to His glory.

Abba, I recognize that I need You to search my heart and know my thoughts. I need You to see if there is any wicked way in me and root it out as you lead me in Your way everlasting (Psalm 139:24). May revival come to my heart today. Amen.

Proverbs 26 1-26-20

January 26, 2020

READ EARLY: Jesus asks, “What is in your heart? I know, but do you?” Times of worship reveal to us our own hearts.

26 Their malice may be concealed by deception,
    but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.

This verse is part of several (24-26) and usually has to do with wolves in sheep’s clothing. Today, we are using it to describe what happens in worship when the child of God gets into the presence of God.

Malice- “desire to inflict injury, harm, or suffering on another, either because of a hostile impulse or out of deep-seated meanness.” We’ve all been here, whether we wanted to inflict actual physical pain upon someone or verbal pain. We have hoped for and taken pleasure in someone else’s misfortune (however small)–and we’ve done it at church! Our natures don’t change just because we entered a building.

Deception- “to mislead by a false appearance or statement.” We’ve all put on the “spiritual front” when going to church, acting as if all is well at home, at work, in our marriage, families, finances, school, the ball team, health, etc. when it really isn’t. We all have sung the songs and prayed the prayers appearing to mean every word when, in fact, we haven’t cracked a bible in weeks, nor have we spent any time with the LORD preparing our hearts.

As we go to church today and the Bible is read from the pulpit, the quarterly, or even displayed on a wall, may the Holy Spirit come upon us with power and conviction. May these words become real to us:

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13

Lest we get the idea that God means us harm or is looking for a reason to punish us, I make sure that the next verses are presented with the first two:

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

The kicker is that we ALWAYS are in “our time of need.” We sing, “Lord, I need You.” and, “I need Thee every hour,” and it’s true. Once we get it into our heads and our hearts that we are COMPLETELY dependent upon Him for EVERYTHING, we will worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

Let’s start early today by ‘fessing up to God BEFORE we go to church. Let’s align ourselves with Him through His Word and through prayer. Begin with the above verses if you don’t have a special place to read. Allow Him to reveal your heart to you. Ask for His mercy and His grace. Allow Him to pour His love and compassion on you and receive His forgiveness. It’s all waiting for you at the throne.

Abba, I fall into this category many times when I get caught up in details rather than focusing on You and Your love, Your mercy and grace. I forget that You are waiting for me so that You can reveal Yourself to me. May I take the time today even as the youth lead the music to worship You in Spirit and in truth. Amen.

 

Proverbs 25 1-25-20

January 25, 2020

Our call to be godly is immediate, irresistible, and irrevocable. His Spirit calls us to action today.

Immediate- Our position in Christ, our direction in life, even our hopes and dreams are transformed upon salvation to reflect Jesus Christ.

Irresistible- The Spirit within us will not allow us to stay as we are, but will continuously spur us on to move higher up and further into Christ and His Call.

Irrevocable- Once we commit to Christ, we are His forever! His Spirit has taken up residence in our hearts and there’s no going back. Nor can we lose it through inaction or poor choices. He just begins again at wherever we are. Now THAT’S grace!

14 Like clouds and wind without rain
    is one who boasts of gifts never given.

When we were saved, we promised the LORD that we would turn from sin and self and follow Him the rest of our lives. How are you doing? If you’re like me, you run warm and cool in your walk with Him, with occasional flares of hot, but also a few dips of cold. We must remember that this race we are in is a marathon, not a sprint. We all stumble, sometimes we fall, but as our pastor says, “we never fall off the ship.” Jesus keeps us by His grace. Not only that, He helps us up, doctors us, and encourages us to try again.

As I was reading chapter 25, I noticed that many of the verses are on how to treat each other in certain circumstances; I realized that I read a similar list in the NT. The difference is that in the OT, the list has to do with specific circumstances where in the NT, we are given general instructions that the Holy Spirit will apply as needed:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone [be above reproach]. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:9-21

What conclusions can we draw from this passage?

  1. Be sincere with yourself and with others. Be authentic. If you’re gonna be like Christ, then hate ALL evil and love ALL good. Let’s not be selective.
  2. Devoted means “zealous or ardent in attachment, loyalty, or affection.” Is this how we are supposed to feel about all our brothers and sisters in Christ? How? Through the power of the Holy Spirit as each circumstance comes along. HE will help us to “honor each other above ourselves.” We certainly cannot in our own power (we don’t even WANT to!).
  3. We are to treat non-Christians as potential brothers and sisters in Christ by being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Never are we to retaliate. In this we are most like Christ.

All the other commands expound on these verses. Notice that Paul even quoted out of chapter 25! That’s cool.

Jesus boiled our behavior down to this command: 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.”

Let’s be about the Father’s business today by modeling Christ to this world. Either they will be drawn to Christ and be saved, or they will refuse Him and be judged. That is not our call. We are to be His messengers. Let’s be faithful to the Call.

Abba, I pledge myself anew to You and to being a light in a dark world. Please place me where my light can shine the brightest for You. I understand the seriousness of this pledge: it may require being in some dangerous situations. But I know where I am going when I die, and I know Who walks beside me all the way, so I’m not worried. “One more soul for You, Lord.” I love You and am devoted to You. Amen.

Proverbs 24 1-24-20

January 24, 2020

Living holy and godly lives is our goal. The Spirit inside us gives us both the desire and the power to do it!

1Do not envy the wicked,
    do not desire their company;
for their hearts plot violence,
    and their lips talk about making trouble.

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

 

Let’s rephrase these verses:

1 People whose hearts plot violence and their lips talk about making trouble are NOT trying to be like God (godly), 2 therefore, do not envy them or even hang around them, lest you become like them.

3 Our spiritual houses are built within us by having and using wisdom [seeing from God’s perspective as He makes it known to us]; we are established in righteousness through understanding God’s love, God’s plan, and God’s participation in our lives; the more we learn, the more He lavishes on us!

If our goal is, indeed, to be like Christ, knowing that the Spirit wants to recreate Christ in us, to mold us and shape us into His image, to transform us into His likeness, then we will be about the Father’s business.

What IS the Father’s business for us? TO KNOW CHRIST. Our Christianity is a Fellow-ship as well as a Follow-ship. Following Christ from a distance defeats the purpose of the relationship. He wants to walk so closely with us that we cannot tell the difference between us and Him: His words sound like our words in our minds and hearts; His desires are communicated as action points for us–but not to do in our own power, nor by ourselves, but with Him and in His power as He makes it available to us!

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:10-13

  1. No one knows when the LORD is coming.
  2. He will remake everything! All will be as it was in the beginning before the Fall–with a few exceptions: Christ’s throne will be in Jerusalem and we will be with Him.
  3. The makeover will be intense, but just that: a makeover!
  4. Righteousness will be the order of the day!

WOW! What promises! Let’s get excited about what Christ is going to do and get on board with Him! Let’s “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:12

Abba, may my focus be on You today as I go about my day. The mundane is never boring when I am fellowshipping with You. May my follow-ship be one that includes getting to know You better and better, deeper and deeper, richer and richer, O LORD. Amen.

 

 

 

Proverbs 23 1-23-20

January 23, 2020

Revival is coming; on what side of it will you be: conviction of the Spirit for repentance or praying for it to come?

4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust in your own cleverness.

The Spirit of God has begun to stir at Brookwood. Our pastor has been asked by the Spirit to call his staff to prayer on Monday nights. I am looking forward to these times of prayer and worship and the spirit of revival that will come of it.

What brings revival? What does the Holy Spirit ask of us in order to have revival? It’s simple, really. All we have to do is die to ourselves and live for Him. Paul said in Galatians 2:

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Revival is based upon the necessity of Christ being in us and living through us. It sounds like we have a passive role in this relationship, but it’s much more active than we might think. Dying to our old selves is a continuous exercise. We will not cease to strive with ourselves until we die and trade these bodies of sin for glorified bodies.

How hard are you striving? Have you fallen back into old habits? Have you gone stale in your walk with the LORD? Let’s look at a passage of Scripture that will help us identify where we are in our walk with Him:

“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” Mark 4:3-8

Jesus explains the parable to His disciples in verses 14-20. It looks like this:

  1. Seed on the path-They hear the message, but refuse to consider any other way than the one they believe. Evolutionists fall into this category as do people with addictions and sinful lifestyles that they are unwilling to give up.
  2. Seed on rocky soil-Many people receive the message of Christ and His salvation because it IS Good News. But, when it comes time to change their lives to become like Jesus, we find that they were really in love with the IDEA of being saved rather than actually coming to Christ and giving Him their lives. He needs the deed to our house/heart and the Master key to every door in our house. His message is not, “Come to Me and be saved from hell,” but, “Come to Me and FOLLOW Me.” Being saved from hell is a benefit of the other.
  3. Seed among thorns-Here’s where a lot of Christians spin their wheels. The “worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come and choke the word, making it unfruitful (v.19),” “and they do not mature (Luke 8:14c).” Christ asked us to give up our lives, to die to ourselves, and to take up our cross DAILY and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Are we doing this on a daily basis?
  4. Seed on good soil-Here is where we want to be. We want to known by the LORD as having a “noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering (Luke 8:15),” follow Him closely, walking in step with Him, and producing a harvest for the LORD. What kind of harvest? We begin with our own fruit of the Spirit that is grown in our lives by Him (see Galatians 5:22-23). We continue with souls that come to Christ through our influence, all according to our obedience to His direction and leadership in our daily lives.

Revival will require each of us to examine ourselves and see where we are in this lineup. I pray that we will all make the necessary adjustments to our lives to follow Christ with whole and undivided hearts.

Abba, may I be the first to make these adjustments. You have already called me to make dietary adjustments (doctor’s orders); now You’re working on my spiritual adjustments as we begin praying together as a staff. Please continue to make the necessary adjustments to all areas of my life so that I look as much like You as I can in this world. I look forward to Your refiner’s fire. Amen.

Proverbs 22 1-22-20

January 22, 2020

“God is just a breath away.” True statement! Conversational prayer is the best way to get to know the Father.

6 Start [spiritual] children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

When we look at Scripture and see where the LORD had an encounter with mankind, many might recall the Burning Bush experience by Moses, or Noah being told to build an ark. These are great examples of God taking part in mankind’s life. Christians, though, encounter God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah. As Christ-followers, we have the Spirit of Christ living in our hearts. We have His promise to love us and guide us. Let’s take Him up on it!

1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. Luke 21:15

I LOVE this verse! I think it’s my new favorite. I love the fact that He gives me words. I’m reminded of another favorite, Isaiah 30:21, “And you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” HE SPEAKS TO ME! AND YOU!!! The big question is, what does His voice sound like?

There are two Scriptures that come to mind when I try to describe the voice of God:

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a [that] voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

The LORD appeared to Elijah as He did to Abraham (verse 7, Gen. 18), but in this case, Elijah heard the voice of God as a whisper (KJV: “a still, small voice). This event is a precursor as to how we hear Him.

29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29

Jesus is gentle and humble in heart. He prefers to have a gentle and humble conversation with us. How successful He is depends upon how willing we are. Our stubbornness and selfishness tend to get in the way of a decent conversation with Him. Thank Him that He is long-suffering, as well! But, He knew that we are stubborn and selfish from the beginning–and loves us anyway! I think He finds great pleasure in our efforts to overcome these traits. Does that thought give you hope? It does me!

Talking with Jesus throughout the day in conversational prayer does a few things for us:

  1. It keeps us aware of His presence and participation in our lives all the time;
  2. It keeps us focused on where He is leading and what He is saying;
  3. The Bible comes alive to us as He calls things to mind that we have read;
  4. It grows our faith through experience: the very fact that we are experiencing Him, and through many encounters comes confidence as well as experience.

I still find it necessary to have a specific, set-aside, time of prayer with the LORD because I need structure in order to remember. I use prayer cards and a journal to help me remember and to focus my prayers. While reading His Word, I do it with an open mind to hear any comments He might make along the way. If I have another Scripture come to mind, I take it as His lead and look it up. He is the Master at stringing pearls!

May you find what works for You as you and He meet together and walk through the day. If we learn this process early in our walk with Christ, we will find that as we grow older, the song really is true: Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before! And, when we are old, we will not turn from it because it has become our lifeline to Him.

Abba, I love our times together. I have come to guard them jealously! I know You enjoy them, too, which gladdens my heart. May all who read this blog take to heart Your interest in their lives and, with Your guidance, create a time of fellowship and prayer with You. Give them a hunger for Your Word and a thirst to hear from You. Me, too! Amen.

Proverbs 21 1-21-20

January 21, 2020

The kingdom of God is all around us! We just can’t see it–but we can know it. His Spirit reveals it to us.

21 Whoever pursues righteousness and love find life, prosperity and honor.

Jesus told us, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand…is near you…is in your midst” (Matthew 3:2, Luke 9:10, Luke 17:21). There is an entire “world” happening around us all the time! Paul talks about it in Ephesians 6:

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

When God created the heavens, He established them in the form that we know them. The first heaven is the sky, the second heaven is outer space, and the third heaven is where He lives. It was on Day 2 that He separated the waters and the sky (Gen. 1:6-8), and it was on Day 4 that He separated outer space from the third heaven (Gen. 1:14-19). Heaven really is just a breath away. We don’t have to “go” anywhere! Upon death, our eyes are opened to a whole other realm, the realm of the spiritual. We are able to interact there just as we did on earth. It’s just a real as this earth and will one day be reconnected with this earth (2 Peter 3:13, Rev. 22:1).

So, our perspective is this: Because we have such a great place awaiting us, we need not fear death. In fact, we wait patiently for it BECAUSE we know what is in store for us. I don’t know exactly how, but our righteousness, our godly thoughts and actions, motives and intentions, are formed into a crown (1 Cor. 3:12-15, 2 Timothy 4:8) which we will gladly and voluntarily cast down in worship and gratitude at the feet of Jesus (Rev. 4:10 implied). Death is merely the passageway to heaven for Christians. For unbelievers, it’s quite something else. They step into Hades, the waiting place for all who are destined for hell.

Let us not be afraid of dying, nor of letting go of those who go before us. Instead, let us allow it to motivate us to keep our eyes on the prize, which is to be JUST LIKE JESUS. We know that we will be completed in Him when we get there (1 John 3:2). May we spur each other on to good works (Hebrews 10:24) so that our offering to the LORD, our crown, will be a sweet sacrifice to our KING.

Abba, I look forward to the day when the veil between heaven and earth comes down. I can hardly wait to step over into Your side of things–even though I know You are with me and all around me right now. I want to worship You and experience You face to face! In the meantime, I will continue to work on hearing Your voice as You walk with me in this world. Tune me spiritually to be cognizant of You and where You are working, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 20 1-20-20

January 20, 2020

The Spirit’s interaction with people is much greater than we might think. The secret is to join Him where He is working!

24 A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way?

There is SO MUCH about life that seems random–but is not! God is working His-Story by guiding circumstances and prompting people in certain directions. All the while, He is giving them chance after chance to choose Him–but most don’t. Even Christians have a hard time doing what is obviously right. Most Christians don’t read their Bibles daily, pray continuously (conversational prayer), meet regularly for focused prayer, worship and haverim (the interaction of the Spirit during discussion); we don’t regularly eat right, sleep right, work right (tyranny of the urgent) or play right. Why? Because we live in a world that is overrun by sin: Up is down and in is out; black is white and light is dark.

Jesus told us plainly that without His Spirit, we cannot comprehend the ways of God without His Spirit. For instance,

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit [He moves within us].”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 

12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?”

Proverbs 20:27 tells us that “the human spirit [which is His Spirit] is the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being.” The sooner we recognize this truth, the sooner we will acknowledge His presence and participation in our lives. We MUST start trying to see through His eyes, but before that happens, we MUST be willing to change whatever we see that does not align with Him and His will, whether in our lives or in the world. Even as we see it, we must ask the Spirit when and how to change things. Let’s not wait for Him to use physical consequences of our own actions to motivate us to change. Let’s not let this verse be our motto:

30 Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being. OUCH!

Let’s be about the Father’s business today. Let’s communicate with Him on as many levels as we can so that we miss as little as possible that He is wanting to show us.

Abba, I pray for all who read my blog today that they will take to heart the seriousness of this message. I am trying, too. You have given me an urgency about these times to get the message out as quickly as possible. “Godly lives attract godless people to God.” With godliness comes the moral authority to share with them the Way. May we all make godliness our goal even as we make You our focus. Amen.

Proverbs 19 1-19-20

January 19, 2020

What we believe determines how we interpret events in our lives. Is God interactive in our day-to-day lives?

27 Stop listening to instruction, my child, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

The Spirit is constantly teaching us. He shows us great and mighty things in His Word; He reveals truth to us as we listen to people and observe events; He speaks to us through others as they share what He has revealed to them. The determining factor is how we are interpreting His teaching. As I see it, we have two filters:

Filter #1: Our own filter. WE are on the throne of our lives and WE make the final decision of what we believe to be true; WE decide what we want and what’s good for us. The problem with this filter is that we simply don’t know enough to make a logical, rational decision about anything. We don’t know the detailed and current (like, that day) history behind events or people; we don’t know what people are thinking; we certainly don’t know the future. How can we make an intelligent decision about anything? There are  two verses earlier in the chapter that apply:

2 Desire without knowledge is not good–how much more will hasty feet miss the way! I get a mental image of a young dog on a long leash…

3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD. Somehow, it always winds up being God’s fault–or someone else’s fault, but never the person’s fault…

Filter #2: We allow God to be God in the world and in our lives. We trust that no matter what happens, HE is in control and will guide us through it, using us as He sees fit as witnesses for Him and testaments to His grace and glory. Even our deaths can bring Him glory! Jesus is using us to reach others, and that involves risk. He said that He would never leave us or forsake us and would carry us to His side. Let’s let that be our goal. There are two verses in today’s chapter that apply:

21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Let’s make His plans our plans.

23 The fear of the LORD leads to [true and everlasting] life; then one rests content [in the outcome], untouched [not bothered by] by trouble. Even death doesn’t scare us because we have a wonderful future in store for us on the other side!

Let’s “study to show ourselves approved, workmen who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing and correctly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15. We will find that our faith grows much faster if we apply ourselves to learning His Word even as He reveals His will to us through His Word.

Abba, as we worship in our respective houses of worship today with our friends and family, may we focus on You and Your love for us, and Your plans for us. May today be all about YOU. Help us to use the correct filter as we study Your Word and hear from You through our pastors. “Speak to our hearts, Lord Jesus, speak that our souls may hear.” I am listening. Amen.

Proverbs 18 1-18-20

January 18, 2020

Maybe we need to get over ourselves and get around to what Christ would have us do and be.

As I was praying this morning, I was pondering the generational differences in our church. It seems that each generation holds its former generation in contempt to some degree for not getting things right. So, I turned to Proverbs 18 and what did I read?

An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels. Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes reproach.

 

It was the very attitude of which I was thinking! How do we break this chain of generational contempt? We would do well to use a biblical approach to our lives; then we might be able to give the other generations true guidance. But, where does one start?

We must start with a biblical worldview. We must all be on the same page–or reading the same pages correctly–in order to interpret this world and world events from a true perspective. That worldview is a Young Earth and a Six-Day Creation by God, which, by the way, is being proved to be true by science every day. Science is finally catching up with Truth.

With a proper worldview comes the true Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. Without the Holy Spirit connecting us spiritually, there’s no way for us to truly come to a biblical viewpoint, let alone a consensus. The ANSWERS are HIS because HISTORY is HIS, both past and future.

Through the Gospel, we learn to have harmony in the family even as we are unified in following Christ. “Harmony” means “blend.” We are different on purpose. What we need to be unified in is keeping our eyes on Jesus, which means that WE ALL must walk in step with Christ. If someone isn’t, then we must encourage him to “begin again.” In a sense, we all start over each day. We see this lesson in Exodus as the Children of Israel were walking with God through the desert:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test [teach] them and see whether they will [learn to] follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days [for the Sabbath–a really good reason to believe in a literal six-day creation: God was establishing a precedent].” Exodus 16:4-5

Manna didn’t keep; it turned to maggots overnight (v.20). Yesterday’s grace works like that. We need NEW GRACE for a NEW DAY. Manna was also portioned out according to the needs of the family. Some gathered a little and some gathered a lot, yet, “when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.” (v18). We cannot judge each other according to how much we have; it’s all according to our need as the Spirit sees that need. Jesus said it this way, “Give us this day our daily bread…” (Matthew 6:11). 

Let’s all take a lesson from the Hebrews and walk united in following closely to Jesus Christ. Let’s allow our differences to harmonize together to create beautiful music for our LORD. We’ll leave whatever consequences we think might happen up to the LORD.

Abba, I realize it’s not my place to change someone’s mind, but to pray for that person to get close to You and for You to speak plainly and clearly to that person. When we are all aligned with You, THEN we will know true unity in the Spirit. In the meantime, help me to strive with my brothers and sisters and to be Jesus to them, pointing them to You. Amen.

 

Proverbs 17 1-17-20

January 17, 2020

Portraying Christ in how we treat each other is how we shine our light. They’ll know we are Christians by our love for each other.

1 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.

Shining our light begins at home. We betray ourselves when we get angry at our spouse, the kids, the dog or cat, the TV and other inanimate objects. It reveals an impatient spirit with erroneous expectations. Those expectations are:

  1. Unspoken– People cannot meet an unspoken expectation because they do not know there is one. Having this expectation reveals an arrogant spirit.
  2. Unrealistic– Sometimes, we have expectations that simply cannot be reached. We need to place them in the hands of Jesus and ask for wisdom and discernment. This expectation reveals a desire to be God in our own lives.
  3. Unmet– This expectation happens when the other two are in play. How we respond reveals our heart. Remember that the heart merely amplifies our inner selves; what comes out? Cutting or curse words? Anger? Explosive temper? A desire to lash out? to punish (either by striking or by withdrawing our approval and/or friendship)? This expectation reveals a lack of maturity.

Finding our peace in the LORD Jesus is important; it’s the only way to allow the little things to pass by without getting under our skin, so to speak. Let’s look at some verses:

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

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

Get rid all of bitterness, rage and anger, brawling [fist-fighting] and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate toward one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

How do we go about making these verses come true in our lives? By daily reading them and asking the Spirit to apply them. Ask Him to call your attention to every time you start to go down the road of one of those expectations. Stop and restart. For instance,

“Why did you do it that–wait. I’m sorry. Let me start over. I see that you did that a certain way. I was curious as to your motive; did you have something specific in mind?”

This example shows how the Spirit makes us aware of what we are doing even as we do it. He actually shows us BEFORE we do it when we get better at catching ourselves before we start. The trick is to pause before responding/reacting and give Him time to warn us.

We CAN do this, folks. We have all our lives to get it right. But, let’s not take ALL OUR LIVES to start working on it. Let’s start today by diving into His Word.

Abba, You know how I have worked on this and still get it wrong. Even so, I have enjoyed the interaction with Your Spirit. I have also made great strides, so I’m encouraged. I know You are pleased with me because I can feel Your pleasure and Your peace. I want to be better at it, so please take me higher up and further into Your ways and Your desires. I want to be just like You, Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 16 1-16-20

January 16, 2020

Blessing the LORD makes our relationship with Him come alive. Sensing His Spirit in us is what knowing Him is all about!

6 Through [our] love [actions] and [His daily] faithfulness sin is atoned for [eliminated from our lives]; through the fear of the LORD evil is avoided.

Our sin was dealt with on the cross. It was not merely covered over as it was in pre-cross days; it has been washed away! Cancelled! Not held against us anymore! We are as if we had never sinned. We have been justified: Just-as-if-I’d never sinned. GRACE ABOUNDS!

But, what about my daily living that has plenty of sin in it? Selfishness, greed, giving in to temptation, obsession, hatred, conniving, and any other sin we can think of is still pretty evident in our lives. Just because it is not held against us anymore doesn’t mean that we can go on sinning. The apostle Paul said in Romans 6,

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

With the Holy Spirit in us,

we have the desire and the power

to overcome sin in our lives.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Each morning, and throughout the day, we should remind ourselves that we have been crucified with Christ. Our lives are not our own. Instead, we ask Him to lead us into righteousness.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

We do not have to worry about losing our salvation. The thing that should worry us the most is losing our desire to please Him. How do we get motivated to please Him?

  1. Consider what Christ has done for you in order to make you His.
  2. Remember that He lives inside of us! He is with us every step of every day–and in every decision we make and carry out.
  3. Read His Word for a fresh perspective each day. He speaks to us through His Word; He washes us with the water of the Word; He fills us with love, joy, peace and hope through the grace imparted to us as we read His Word.
  4. Sing praises to the LORD. Engage your soul in worship. If you play an instrument, play Him a praise song. If you sing, sing Him a love song. If you have availability to Christian music, listen and worship Him. The more we fill our lives with encouraging and uplifting music and messages, the easier it is to remain focused on Him throughout the day (and night).

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

In order for sin to no longer be our master, we must learn to overcome sin. How?

  1. Admit to God it’s a problem. Know that He doesn’t shame you nor is He disappointed in you every time you fail. He KNOWS it’s a problem and He wants to help us learn to overcome it.
  2. Read every verse you can find about the sin in the Bible.
  3. Find out how others who struggled with it overcame it. Be discreet…
  4. Set up guard rails to help keep you from getting too close to the edge. If a certain place tempts you, then find a different route to take. Don’t drive by that donut shop! I, personally, have to stay away from the one at 104th and Santa Fe.
  5. Talk conversationally to Him about it. He longs for the interaction with you. It’s WHY He saved you!

With Christ, it’s about doing it together. If we try to do it FOR Him, then we miss the point of the exercise. He wants to help us be overcomers by infusing us with His Power even as we enjoy His Presence and Participation in our lives. We ARE becoming more like Christ. We have His promise:

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen [what Christ is doing in us], since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Abba, I speak from experience about this topic. I am not immune to temptations. In fact, I struggle with them everyday, as You well know. I have learned to walk with You and listen to Your voice, which has helped a lot! It’s still hard, LORD, but I have Your promise that someday I will be just like You in righteousness and holiness. May I be You to others. Amen.

 

Proverbs 15 1-15-20

January 15, 2020

Are you looking forward to heaven? Do you know anything about it? What does life after death entail? Let’s look!

19 The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.

Our journey on this earth leads us to the throne of God. The last verse of the hymn, Footsteps of Jesus, says, “Then at last when on high He sees us, our journey done; we will rest where the steps of Jesus end at His throne.” According to the apostle Paul, to be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD. 2 Cor. 5:8

There is another hymn that speaks of heaven, but it leads us to a wrong conclusion. It is, “This World is Not My Home.” The verse goes,

This world is not my home, I’m just a’passing through.

My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.

The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,

and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

The song is true in this sense: We all die and proceed to the throne of Jesus. It is what He wants. In His prayer in John 17:24, He tells us, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” But, that’s not all there is to heaven. Revelation 19 tells us that we will all return with Jesus to earth to establish heaven on earth!

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

You will notice that “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” This phrase refers to Psalm 2:9 and ushers in the Millennial Kingdom when Christ establishes His rule on this physical earth from the temple in Jerusalem. It will be the “Restoration of All Things” as is spoken of in Matthew 19:28,

28 Jesus said to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, in the renewal [that is, the Messianic restoration and regeneration of all things] when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you [who have followed Me, becoming My disciples] will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

This is not in heaven, my friends; this is in Jerusalem! Jeremiah 3:17 tells us, At “that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.” Won’t THAT be a sight to behold! We actually WILL!!! Here is the LORD’s promise to us:

16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

So, dear friends, let’s not get caught up in living only for this world, or let the trials of this life get us down. We have a great and glorious future ahead of us with Christ Jesus and all His saints! Let’s set our eyes on the prize that is to come. The apostle Paul said it best:

10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection [His Spirit in our lives] and participation in his sufferings*, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead [the process: We suffer, we die, we are resurrected!]12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 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 ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:10-14

*We bear His name and thus open ourselves to ridicule and persecution. We also live in these frail, mortal bodies as He did while He was here on earth, until the time we get to be with Him in heaven. On the Day of His Second Coming, we will receive our new and glorious bodies and be reunited with our flesh when we come back to earth to reign with Him. See 1 Corinthians 15,  1 Thessalonians 4, and Revelation 19.

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the 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 4:6-8

So, “encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thess. 4:18

Abba, how exciting it is to study how things will be when we shed these mortal bodies and step into our new and glorious bodies and into Your presence! At the same time, we long for Your appearing, at which time, we won’t have to die, but will be transformed on the spot!!! While we wait, I lift up all who are going through persecution for Your name’s sake, and for all who are enduring pain and suffering in these frail bodies. It’s not what You had in mind, nor is it what You have in store. We DO take comfort and encouragement with these promises that we have from Your Word. Just a little longer, LORD, until “the times of the Gentiles is completed.” Amen.

 

Proverbs 14 1-14-20

January 14, 2020

Watch your language! It reveals what you are thinking. It exposes attitudes that may not be godly. Is godliness your goal? If not, why not?

3 A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them.

7 Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips.

Have you ever noticed that slang language refers to body parts and functions, many of them sexual in nature? We draw mental pictures with the words we use. The Hebrew language, the Chinese language, and other early civilizations use pictographs as letters. The pictographs are 3D in nature. The Hebrew language has a picture and a number associated with each letter of each word. In the Chinese language, each pictograph tells a story even as they spell a word. In the same way, when we use a specific word that refers to a body part or function, we call up a mental picture in the minds of our listeners.

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion. Prov. 11:22

What is referred to as “potty mouth” is language that speaks of body functions concerning excrement and other functions that go in a potty. Is that the image you want to call up in the minds of those who are listening? Your spouse? Your children? Your boss? Your LORD?

The apostle Paul gives a pretty strong charge for us to watch our language:

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [by what you say], with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:29-30

4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:4

The greatest offense is using words that have a sexual connotation or draw attention to sexual body parts. It’s just not a godly thing to do. As a biblical reference, let’s look at John 8 where the religious leaders dragged before Jesus a woman who was caught in adultery. What did Jesus do? He bent down and wrote in the sand.  He didn’t look at her or address her until her accusers had left. Was He ignoring her? Not at all. He was honoring her by not looking upon her while the topic was being discussed. He avoided even the possibility of Him being accused of anything inappropriate. But, it wasn’t about Him; it was about her. She was His creation, His child, and He cared for her. She was valuable to Him, and He treated her so.

Let’s treat our loved ones the same way by watching what we say and how we say it. Let’s find different ways to express ourselves that don’t call attention to body parts or anything with a sexual connotation. Is our language a point of salvation? No, but it does have quite a lot to do with our sanctification (becoming like Jesus).

Abba, You have dealt with me on this subject several times as You called me from one level to another in my walk with You. Right now, You are working on my “response” to people when under pressure. Help me to respond as You would, O LORD. May I always convey my love and Your love with my words and facial expressions. I feel like I’m asking the impossible, but I’m counting on You to do the impossible for me. I thank You in advance. Amen.

 

Proverbs 13 1-13-20

January 13, 2020

Unconfessed sin hurts us. Our refusal to acknowledge our feelings and acts of rebellion keeps us from God.

1 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.

13 Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded.

18 Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.

Unconfessed sin shows a rebellious heart. Proverbs deals with three levels of attitude concerning sin and our relationship with the Father:

  1. The simple-one who doesn’t know better, yet has a tendency toward sinful actions. He is drawn to them easily. We must show him the way of righteousness.
  2. The fool-one who knows better, but can’t resist sin, nor is he interested in learning how to break the pattern. We must rebuke him and put him on probation until he has repented and learned new ways of thinking and doing.
  3. The mocker-one who enjoys sin and gets mad if a person has a different opinion; in fact, the mocker intimidates and ridicules a person for having a different opinion or for pointing the error of his ways. Stay away from him! Until he has a change of heart, he is like poison. If you feel led to rebuke him, understand that YOU will become the problem.

We all have been each of these at one time or another. Our goal is to be the wise child who heeds our Father’s instruction. Here is what He says:

23 Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my heart to you and make my thoughts known to you. Proverbs 1:23

Are we really interested in knowing God? in being like Him? in walking with Him and learning to be just like Jesus? We must ask ourselves these questions each time that we are tempted to look away, to stray, or to return to old ways. The great part about being a Christ-Follower is that we get to enjoy His presence and participation in our lives. We get to enjoy His love, joy and peace. We have hope and receive grace–but only if we are willing to confess our sinfulness (agree with God that we love wrong) and give ourselves over to Him to transform our lives into godly ones. It’s a process–a daily process. We have this promise:

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen [that in which we hope], since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

King David knew how to repent. In Psalm 51, he came right out with it:

Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

David prayed for a willing spirit. We should, too. We need the want-to to want to, and He gives it freely (Phil. 2:13). Understanding that until we are free of these old bodies, we will never be free from the temptations of the flesh. We stay in a constant tension between our will and God’s will. We die to self so that we can live for Him. His Spirit is in the driver’s seat from now on! Let’s give ourselves over quickly to Him through repentance and washing with the water of the Word (Eph. 5:26). Let us “set our face like flint” (Isaiah 50:7) to follow the LORD today.

Abba, how important it is for us to realize the seriousness of how we live our lives. It’s not so much that we fail You as it is that we miss out on the fellowship and teaching that walking with You offers. You have SO MUCH to show us and do with us! I can hardly wait to get to Your side and eventually experience Eden with You. Even so, come, LORD Jesus.

 

Proverbs 12 1-12-20

January 12, 2020

Putting ourselves in a place to hear truth is what church is all about! The question is: Do we really want TRUTH?

20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace [and truth] have joy.

The first part of this verse can be taken two ways:

  1. Those who plot evil intentionally deceive;
  2. Those who plot evil are deceived into doing so.

The second are people who unwittingly do the will of the first. We cannot ever forget that we have an enemy, the devil, whose primary language is lying. Here’s how Jesus describes him:

44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

Jesus also said in that same chapter, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32 What truth? The truth about the Gospel, which is the Good News of Jesus Christ. What IS the Gospel?

  1. God created mankind to love Him.
  2. Mankind sinned.
  3. Jesus came to pay for our sin by dying in our place and then rising again.
  4. He offers new life to all who will die through Him and allow Him to rise in their hearts.
  5. In His time, He will right this world and we will live with Him forever as it was originally intended.

The first two chapters of Genesis and the last two chapters of Revelation are bookends of the Christian story. Either both are literally true or neither are literally true because Christ is the Hero of both the beginning and the end. In fact, He calls Himself the Beginning and the End:

13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Revelation 22:13

Satan has deceived the world through Evolution and thus undermined the Gospel.

Today at our church, Creation Truth Ministries will be presenting truth about the literal account of the first 11 chapters of Genesis using archeology and other sciences. If you are in the area, that presentation is tonight at 5:00. I would LOVE to have you come. If you are not in the area, please pray that truth would prevail over the deception that Satan has placed in the minds of many through Evolution teaching. May people turn to Christ and His Word through this presentation.

Jesus believed in a real Adam and Eve, the Great Flood, and Jonah’s account. We should, too. I am reminded of what Jesus said at the end of the Sermon on the Mount:

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

CREATION IS THE FOUNDATION OF THE GOSPEL

Abba, may You pique people’s interest as they see the dinosaur bones onstage today. May they come tonight with open minds and ready to hear truth. May they listen to Your Spirit as You confirm truth to them. May they adjust their thinking from what they have known or been taught that is wrong to that which is right. Increase our faith, O LORD, through the knowledge of the truth, and as You do, increase our joy and peace, as well. Looking forward to great things today. Amen.

Proverbs 11 1-11-20

January 11, 2020

Is what God says in His Word important to you? Is He your chief source, or do you have others that weigh in as heavily?

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

As you read Proverbs 11 this morning, consider the word “righteousness” to stand for truth according to God’s Word concerning Creation. Conversely, think of the word “wickedness” and its corresponding descriptors to stand for those who believe in Evolution.

Let’s define “evolution.” Evolution can stand for Darwinian Evolution or Neo-Darwinian Evolution. Both tout macro-evolution (complex life from simple life) as the origin of life and leaves no room for any kind of intelligent design. Life happened and continues by chance.

There is such a thing as micro-evolution, which is usually referred to as adaptation within a species. In other words, everything that “evolves” was already latent in the genes of the species. God made them adaptable.

There are two verses that particularly stand out to me:

19 Truly the righteous [those who strive to for righteousness] attain life, but whoever pursues evil finds death.

27 Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to one who searches for it.

Here is what I see: It’s not enough to just avoid evil. We must seek righteousness, searching for it as we would mining for gold. We must dig for it, haul it out of the mine of our minds and process it. With gold, it would be cleaned up, melted down and purified, and then shaped into whatever form the Maker has in mind. With righteousness, it would be dug out of Scripture, pondered, and laid at the feet of Jesus; He would then help us apply it to our lives.

If I were asked why I believe that Evolution is a deception of Satan and why I believe in Creation, I would answer (in order of least to greatest):

  1. The odds of life coming from nothing are too great for it to be true. It would take more faith to believe in life from non-life than to believe in Creation.
  2. Intelligent Design leads to a Designer: God. More specifically, Jesus, through Whom all things were made and are held together (Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:2-3). Irreducible complexity is one of the ways we see the I.D. of God.
  3. The Spirit of God came to me and opened my mind to His world, confirming His creation of it. He and I have an ongoing relationship in which He reveals new truths about this world, Himself, Heaven and eternity.

If you are wondering, “What’s the big deal? Can’t a person believe whatever he wants to believe?” You would be right. The problem is that Evolution is not just being believed. It is being taught–more than that, it is being forced upon many unsuspecting souls. We might as well call it the Gospel of Evolution. We must know what we believe and WHY so that when the opportunity arises, we can intelligently give an answer for the hope we have in Christ. Consider these two verses:

24 The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep them from going down to the grave. Proverbs 15:24 We are moving either up or down. Let’s keep moving UP!

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16

Let’s prepare ourselves both in knowledge and in response concerning this matter. IT’S IMPORTANT for the sake of our generation, the next generation, and future generations.

Abba, Your Word is truth. I learned that straight from Jesus (John 17:17). You said You created everything and I believe it. It is settled in my mind. From this point on, I am simply discovering how You did it. It is for Your glory to reveal concealed knowledge (Prov. 25:2). As I learn new facts and discover new truths, may I glorify You and praise Your name; may I teach others these new facts and truths so that they may praise Your name and glorify You, as well. The saga continues–for a while. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Amen.

 

Proverbs 10 1-10-20

January 10, 2020

We fight clean, but we Christians DO fight. Our weapons are not of this world and they can destroy the enemy’s devises and schemes.

7 The name of the righteous is used in blessings, but the name of the wicked will rot.

Having a good name is important. We need to remember that we are ambassadors for Christ; we stand for Him. When people see us, they need to see Christ in and through us. How we fight is an important way to identify us from the world. There are a few lists that give us a good idea of how the world fights:

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Ephesians 4:31

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. Titus 3:3

29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Romans 1:29-31

20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions… Galatians 5:20

As ambassadors for Christ, how are we supposed to fight? Paul tells us:

 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

What weapons might they be? I will list them and then include the Scripture references below:

Love, grace, wisdom, prudence, insight, understanding, knowledge, discernment, faith, goodness, self-control, perseverance, godliness (moral authority), kindness, tenderness, compassion, and the two greatest of all: THE WORD OF GOD AND PRAYER!

Galatians 5:22-23 The fruit of the Spirit

Proverbs 1:1-6 The seven pillars of wisdom

2 Peter 1:5-7 Increasing measure

Ephesians 6:14-18 Armor of God

If I were to pick out a favorite passage for this morning, it would be Philippians 2:1-5. Let’s look at it:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 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. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus

  1. Be encouraged, be comforted, be one in the Spirit, be tender, be compassionate, be like-minded, have the same love in the Spirit, be humble.
  2. Christ considered us more valuable than His own life. We are have that same attitude and mindset toward others.

As we can see, our task is daunting WITHOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT’S HELP. Now, we see why it is important for us to get with Him early in the morning so that He can lead us and help us all through the day. Let’s be faithful to Him KNOWING that He will be faithful to us.

Abba, thank You for the promises in Your Word that You will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and that You will tell us what to do and say in our hour of need (Matthew 10:19). May You create in us all of the weapons necessary to combat the enemy. Make us to be JUST LIKE JESUS. Amen.

Proverbs 9 1-9-20

January 9, 2020

Do you enjoy having the Holy Spirit lead you? Yes? It’s a wonderful relationship. No? Still fighting for the lead. No Holy Spirit? No salvation!

She [wisdom] has sent out her servants, and she calls from the highest point of the city,
4 “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says,
5 “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.”

14 She [folly] sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city,
15 calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way,
16 “Let all who are simple come to my house!

Our lives are made up of choices. It’s like walking through a marketplace where vendors are calling out for us to sample and purchase their products. Everything looks wonderful and tasty. The real problem is that Satan is behind much of what is being advertised:  it’s addictive. His goal is to get us hooked so that we want more and more and more. Not only that, it’s extremely bad for us and will ultimately kill us. We need Someone who knows what is good and what is bad for us.

Enter the Holy Spirit. He knows what is good for us and what is designed to kill us. WE NEED HIM! He IS wisdom. HE is the One who is calling to us into a conversation with Him.

24 Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Cor. 1:24

We like shiny and sparkly things. We like foods that taste good. I love a good burger from Dan’s Diner. It comes with grilled onions and greasy french fries–a whole basketful of them! I don’t eat there often because I know that the fat and cholesterol levels are off the charts! I also love the smell of Wintergreen Skoal dipping tobacco, but I know that it’s addictive and bad for my health, plus I have this command from the Lord:

18 Do not get drunk on wine [don’t allow anything to take control of your body and mind], which leads to debauchery [uncontrolled and indecent behavior]. Instead, be filled with [and controlled by] the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18

I enjoy consulting Jesus on these matters. In fact, I try to do it for every decision I make. So far, He has been right about every single one (go figure!). There is a certain satisfaction that I feel when I have made the right choice. Also, I feel His pleasure when I choose wisely. I feel close to Him even if the results of my choices are not liked by others. I live for His love, joy and peace that emanate from Him.

There is another benefit to consulting Jesus about every decision and that is my worldview increases. I become aware of how God is working in world events; I understand Scripture better; I perceive relationships more clearly; I discern when people are being truthful to me (I’m still working on this one; I can be rather gullible). Reading the Bible becomes fun as I comprehend biblical concepts. He LOVES to reveal spiritual truths to us!

What are the consequences to NOT listening to the Spirit?

To those who have no sense she says, 17 “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” 18 But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.

Sin is fun for a season, but there’s always a catch, a payment, and a consequence. Is our sin really that much fun? Are we willing to sacrifice a close relationship with the Father through the Son by way of the Holy Spirit just for a season of desire? Let’s make our decision to follow Him today. Yesterday is past. We start fresh from here. Sure, there are consequences from sin with which we all are still dealing, but God gives grace. Paul knew all about looking ahead:

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me [a deep, rich, close relationship with Him]. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it [attained it]. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus [a new life with Him].

Let’s make right choices today by listening to the Spirit’s guidance, direction, warning, and instruction. Let’s enjoy His love, joy and peace as we go!

Abba, I sure do love spending time with You. You have so much that You want me to know. I’m learning as fast as I can! Please keep opening my mind to Your truths and Your worldview. Then lead me in teaching others what You have shown me. May I be an encouragement to them to follow You closely. Amen.

 

Proverbs 8 1-8-20

January 8, 2020

Concerning Creation, we take it on faith; concerning Evolution, they do, too, because it’s just as unverifiable. The difference is that we have the Holy Spirit confirming the truth in us. They don’t have anything–not even science!

My [Wisdom of God] mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness.
All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse.
To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge.

If we want to believe something, then we hope that it’s true and look for reasons to believe. If we don’t believe something, then we resist anything that may prove it’s true. The atheist/Evolutionist has this against him: He does not want to believe in God, nor will he consider any evidence of argument that might prove God’s existence.

20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. John 3:20

Why? Because “the Light has come into the world [Jesus], but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil (v.19). They follow the ways of this world and of the ruler of he kingdom of the air [Satan], the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Eph. 2:2). 

The true question is, “How does one move from the enemy’s camp to God’s camp?” Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them,” and “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” John 6:44, 65.

So, how does a person who has believed Satan’s lies and is in his camp come to his senses and come to Christ?

The first step is the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Enter the grace of God!

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’” Isaiah 65:1

Jesus calls all people to have a willingness to receive a different perspective concerning God, creation, and salvation, and He usually calls them through His ambassadors, His Church, but He also calls to people in dreams, visions, and even face to face as He did with Paul on the road to Damascus. However the Gospel is presented, it is God who initiates a relationship with people.

The next step is for a person to open his mind to the possibility that he is wrong and that there may be another way. There is a process given to us that reveals a battle that goes on in each person:

“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. James 4:6-7

  1. If a person maintains a proud heart, then God will NOT draw near to him.
  2. The devil tries to divert the conversation, distract the person, and distort the Spirit’s invitation. The person must resist the devil and he will flee. The way to resist is by submitting himself to God. He has this promise that with just a little inclination, God will draw Himself to that person!

As Christians, we must look for ways to introduce truth. Ask the Father to give you a springboard from which to spring into a conversation. The idea is not so much to present facts, but to get to the Gospel as quickly as we can. I have found that little comments about stuff I have learned that is shared at an appropriate moment can start a conversation about the Gospel, or at least, an aspect of it. Statistically, a person is exposed to aspects of the Gospel an average of seven times before he is ready to make a decision. We may be one of those times.

Today, let’s open our minds to the sharing of the Gospel through conversation with people everywhere: a checker at the store, a teller at the bank, a fellow line-stander, etc. In all cases, a word can be shared concerning truth about Jesus, Creation, proof of the validity of the Bible through archeology, biology, astronomy, etc. We could even share Jesus’ own words or a testimony of what God has done in our lives that is pertinent to the conversation. The Holy Spirit will connect us with the person; we just need to be looking for His guidance to that person and for the right analogy, story, fact, or whatever He leads us to share.

Abba, my greatest desire is to share You with someone. I KNOW who You are and what You have done for me and for the entire world, and it is this message that I want to share with others. I want them to know You as I know You–or even better! I want them to experience the love, joy, peace, hope and grace that I experience every waking minute. Knowing You is truly heaven on earth. I can hardly wait to get to Your place and experience it on a whole different level! In the meantime, lead me to others so that they can experience You, too. I’ll be looking for opportunities today, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 7 1-7-20

January 7, 2020

DESIRE is dangerous because it is so powerful–and volatile. We must train to overcome it through Jesus.

21 With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. 22 All at once he followed her…

All sin begins with DESIRE. In James’ letter, he tells us, “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. James 1:14. Where did this evil desire come from? Why do we even have it? Let’s go back to the beginning…

27 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…” Genesis 1:27 The ability to discern and to choose is part of being like God.

7 Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being [soul]. Genesis 2:7 We are different than all creation in that our bodies have a soul.

22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man… Woman, too, has a soul and is man’s counterpart.

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, Genesis 3:6-7

There are some key points in this passage that apply to us today:

  1. When Eve “saw” that the fruit was good for food, it was a justification. Nowhere did God say that it was for consumption. In fact, He said not to eat it. Eve made an assumption that since it was a tree and was in the garden that it was like all the other trees from which she could eat. We make the same justification.
  2. The fruit appealed to her, which in itself is not a bad thing, but it became all she could focus on–she obsessed! Of all the trees in the garden from which to eat, she centered on the ONE that she could not have. Granted, it was pointed out to her by Satan, which he does to us, too.
  3. It was “desirable” in that she believed it would do something for her. The problem is that it was in direct violation of what God had told her. The truth was that it would give her knowledge, NOT wisdom. Satan twisted the truth. Being like God in power and position is not wise; seeing from God’s perspective under His authority and guidance is godly wisdom.
  4. Adam was with her, but did nothing. The phrase, “silence gives consent,” was certainly in play here. He then took the fruit she offered him and ate it. Their eyes were, indeed, opened–to their nakedness! And DESIRE was born.

The curses that were placed on them were natural consequences of not following God’s purpose and plan. Sex became a weapon that both man and woman use against each other. The garden itself, which they were to tend, was taken away. On the outside of the garden, the ground did not respond to Adam. Why? Because the deed had been passed to someone else:

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only [Deut. 6:13].’” Luke 4:5-8

Satan got his wish! Now we understand that the Gospel was MORE than just about mankind, but about all of nature, too. Jesus came to redeem mankind AND nature. It’s a progressive redemption:

  1. He saved our souls. Our bodies still die. Creation still waits.
  2. He will come again and when He does, we will either come with Him and be rejoined to our earthly bodies or we will meet Him in the air.
  3. When He comes, all creation will be saved: transformed and restored to its former glory.

Concerning DESIRE in our own lives, we fight desire with a higher desire. Jesus, through His Holy Spirit within us, gives us first the desire to do His will, then He gives us the power to do His will.

13 [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the desire and power], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. Philippians 2:13 AMP

We must recognize the devil’s lures, traps, hidden snares, and deceitful lies and turn from them to the One who loves us and desires us to live righteous and holy lives WITH HIM! Let’s not let desire get the best of us. Let’s use our desire to live for HIM. It all starts with us spending time with Him in prayer and Bible study. Let’s get to it!

Abba, may You reveal to us the devil’s schemes that he uses to push our DESIRE buttons. As we become aware of our weaknesses and tendencies, help us to put into place guardrails that keep us away from the edge. May we walk in the center of the road, O LORD. May we feel the tension when we start in a direction that is not from You, and may we feel Your good pleasure, satisfaction and delight when we “course correct.” Help us to overcome our desire with desire for You. I’m looking forward to walking with You today. Let’s get started! Amen.

 

Proverbs 6 1-6-20

January 6, 2020

We know that sometime today we will be tempted to act on our feelings. That we safeguard our hearts is important.

7 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no [visible] commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.

We don’t have a visible king, but we do have Jesus as LORD. He guides our hearts and thoughts–if we are listening! Why would we come to Christ for salvation and then go back to the things that were killing us in the first place? To what things am I referring?

  1. Our own selfish thoughts. The motivation of our hearts was to please ourselves even at the expense of others, including God. Titus 3:3 says that “at one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” Christ has saved us from ourselves and from Satan “through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.” We have been given new hearts; let’s use them to glorify our LORD.
  2. Our own selfish ways. Habits are hard to break. Our flesh becomes conditioned really quick to addictive behavior and chemicals. The release of endorphins in our blood system gives us the “high” we crave for so many things. The “high” we receive from sugar and especially caffeine and high fructose corn syrup can become addictive. A person told me recently that if “said person” ever became allergic to sugar, then “said person” would just learn to live sick. When we gave our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ, that includes our physical bodies. Let’s give them daily to Him to change as He sees fit. He doesn’t want us hooked on anything but Him [the essence of Ephesians 5:18]. What does He offer? Love, joy, and peace, hope and grace, purpose and life, His righteousness and His presence and participation in our lives!

Let’s “put in the time” to become successful at following Christ. Even as we read His Word, let’s plead with Him to make Himself known to us, to lead us, and to keep us on the straight and narrow path as He walks with us day by day. He will!

One more thing: What we read in His Word and learn today by listening to His Spirit becomes the arsenal from which we draw for tomorrow’s challenges–and sometimes today’s! If you are not going through anything particularly rough right now, rejoice and be glad! Make a point of thanking Him, and then study hard for the next bout of rough weather. If you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, fear no evil because He is with You every step of the way. He has His Shepherd’s Crook ready to keep you from falling into any traps and He will keep the evil one away. JUST STAY CLOSE TO HIM. Pray; worship; sing songs that lift you up and increase your faith; lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ; count it all joy as you face trial of many kinds (James 1:2)–unless you brought it upon yourself; then it’s time to repent and change your ways. He is waiting to fill you with His presence and all that comes with it (His love, joy and peace, etc.).

Abba, I know I stumble sometimes. Help me to learn to be quick about repentance. The quicker I can get turned back to You the quicker I can overcome my circumstances, learn to defeat those temptations, and enjoy Your presence and participation in my life. May I be wise and do the things that build a solid foundation so that when the storms of life come, I will not fall. I’m depending on You, LORD Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 5 1-5-20

January 5, 2020

Today–all day–is a day we Christians set aside for worship and fellowship with the LORD and with each other. Let’s honor it!

21 For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths.

The LORD knows something we don’t: He has placed eternity in our hearts and we have a seven-day clock. Every seven days (on the seventh day), we need to stop our work, break our schedule, and take time out to get together with other Christians for worship, fellowship, an encouraging word, haverim (the fellowship we share in and with the Spirit as we discuss His Word), and rest at home (or in homes) with the family. Check this out:

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

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

If we were Jewish, this day would be Saturday. Since we are grafted in by the Holy Spirit, we worship on the day that the LORD Jesus was raised from the grave, which was the first day of the week. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to partake on Sunday, other days are acceptable. The point is to:

  1. Take time out to DO IT;
  2. Find a group that meets at your time and be with them for praise and worship, fellowship and teaching.
  3. Try to take the entire day off from work. Play some. Entertain some. Spend it with family and friends.

The point is in the obedience. Is the LORD important enough to us to set our schedules by Him? Are we really interested in honoring Him in this way? Let’s look at some more Scriptures:

10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse [our time is included], that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. Malachi 3:10

and since we have a great priest [Jesus] over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess [by being faithful to Him], for he who promised is faithful [to us]. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds [haverim], 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Let’s be children of God who WANT to spend time with Him in prayer and Bible study, corporate (together with other Christians) worship, haverim, and fellowship. May ministry and evangelism flow from us during the week because of our time together today. We have this promise from Him:

20 For where [even] two or three gather in my name, there am I [Jesus] with them.” Matthew 18:20

LORD, may I be intentional about my worship today. I can get caught up in the details of making everything happen and forget to focus on You. Yes, I want everything to go right, but not at the expense of honoring You. It rather defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? May You be honored and lifted up, magnified and glorified in Your Church today, O LORD, all around our city, state, country, and the world. Amen.

Proverbs 4 1-4-20

January 4, 2020

IronMan and Wonder Women today. Two ways to learn to keep from stumbling in this world and to be encouraged.

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
    shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
    they do not know what makes them stumble.

Since we know Jesus and have His Spirit in us, when we stumble, we can see what made us stumble.  Caring enough to change whatever it is that causes us to stumble only comes by spending time in the LORD’s presence in worship. Did you know that when we read our Bibles that we are worshiping? We are responding to the Spirit’s call, which is the definition of worship! As we read, we become aware of several things: His love, our sin debt, His grace, our gratitude.

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
    Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

Though it cost us all we have, we can get understanding and learn from our mistakes and stumblings. Better to lose the world and gain our souls, right? Many people will not give their lives to Christ because they think they have too much invested in their sin. It would require a drastic change of lifestyle, possibly loss of income, power, or some addiction. They hold onto their rags when they could let go and receive Christ’s riches!

13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.

As the Holy Spirit instructs us, we need to hold onto His instruction and not let go. In fact, we need to guard it with our lives. The interesting thing is that the more time we spend with Him in prayer and Bible study, fellowship and worship, the more real He becomes to us; the more real He is to us, the easier it is to let go of the things of this world and to hold onto the things that really matter. We crave even more, which is why some people are drawn to church routinely; it’s where they can get all four at one time.

14 [Get off] the path of the wicked and quit walking in the way of evildoers.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it [anymore]; turn from it and go on your way.

It really is that simple. This admonition is for us each morning. If we look at our lives, the Spirit reveals areas that need His attention. What we are doing or how we are thinking may not be particularly bad, just out of focus. We must remember that our flesh is intrinsically evil and our hearts are amplifiers of our feelings. We TEND toward evil naturally. EVERYTHING in our lives must be laid on the altar and scrutinized by the Spirit. The question is, are we really ready to do it? It’s a daily thing.

Let’s be Christ followers–up close and personal!

Abba, I give all I know of me to all I know of You today. As I learn more about Your love and grace and more about myself and my selfish attitude {and all that goes with it), may I give You that portion tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. May You increase and I decrease (John 3:30). Help me to live for You today. Reveal to me Yourself and myself. Amen. 

Hayley posted this yesterday on Facebook. It fits perfectly with this morning’s devotional:

Everyone is doing their one word for the year thing, and I had two phrases that I’m working on that I was just gonna count for it, which are:
Patience isn’t personal
And
Consistent and courteous
But one word did come to me during my quiet time this morning!

If I had to choose one word for this year It would be WARRIOR. The struggle is real between the corruptive nature of this world inside of me and God‘s nature He has gifted me through the Holy Spirit living inside of me. (Thank you Jesus!) The battle is whether I will claim the victory that is already there or turn to Myself and rely on what I want, how I feel, and how I think – Speaking to myself or others in my head instead of to God. There’s a reason we call those who pray, prayer WARRIORS. This is not just for super spiritual people, this title is for anyone who chooses to turn from self and talk to God instead. I need Him. God, help me to be a WARRIOR

“By these he has given us valuable and superlatively (extreme; supreme) great promises, so that through them you might come to share in God’s nature and escape the corruption which evil desires have brought into the world.”
‭‭2 Peter 1:4‬ ‭CJB‬‬

Proverbs 3 1-3-20

January 3, 2020

The Christian life can be summed up as: J.O.Y. – Serving Jesus first, others second, and you last-or not at all.

The task: 1 Do not forget His [the LORD’s] teaching, keep His commands in your heart;

The reward: 2 They will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity [the LORD’s blessing, not necessarily money].

The task: 3 Let love and faithfulness [to the Lord] never leave you; bind them around your neck [like a necklace], write them on the tablet of your heart [memorize and internalize them].

The reward: 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man [you will be a worthy ambassador for Christ].

The task: 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit [acknowledge, make first place] Him,

The reward: and He will make your paths straight [direct your paths; show you the way to go].

Verses 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-18, and 21-26 can be done the same way. Each of them gives us an aspect of how to put Jesus FIRST in our lives. Jesus is all about helping others. With His Spirit directing us, there is no way to miss helping others in their time of need. There are two things to remember:

  1. Just because we see a need doesn’t mean that it is our duty to meet it.
  2. We must wait on the LORD to prompt us to do it IN THE PROPER TIME AND WAY.

Usually, when we see a need, it’s because the Spirit has shone a light on it for us and called our attention to it so that we can help–but not necessarily. If it’s not for us, then we should be feeling a tension about helping. PAY ATTENTION TO THE TENSION. When we help is important (timing) ; how we help is important, as well (procedure). He will guide us if we are listening, if we are paying attention and not acting on our feelings, which can be misleading.

The best way to get “in the zone” spiritually is to:

  1. Give ourselves to Jesus categorically every morning–first thing, even before coffee!
  2. Saturate ourselves with the words of God–Jesus via the Word. We must remember that Jesus IS the Word (John 1:1–4).
  3. Practice the Presence of God by keeping an open dialogue going. He really is with us and communicating with us.

One of my favorite passages is Isaiah 30:20-21, which says,

20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them [they will be revealed to you by the Spirit how He has taught you through adversity and affliction]. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way;walk in it.”

Jimmy Cox once said, “I don’t hear His voice audibly–it’s louder than that.” He is So right! Christ’s voice is unmistakable when we are in the habit of listening. Let’s get ourselves into the habit of listening for His voice everyday, all the time.

Abba, I present myself to You as Your apprentice, even Your slave; do with me as You will. Of course, I’m counting on Your own words that You are humble and gentle, and that Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light (Matt. 11:28-30). But, I also remember what you said to Paul as he was beginning to walk with you, “I will show him how much he must suffer for My name.” Acts 9:16. I receive that verse, too. I’m for whatever is going to bring You the most glory, LORD. I am Yours to do with as You please. Amen.

Proverbs 2 1-2-20

January 2, 2020

Has God given you a spiritual goal for this year? Have you asked Him for one? Do you WANT to be more like Jesus?

2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding– 

Setting goals helps us to stay on track without allowing the “tyranny of the urgent” to draw us away. Our physical health has something to do with what we accomplish, as well. In order to achieve our goals, especially our spiritual ones, we need to be as healthy as we can be and in our right minds (which rules out alcohol and marijuana along with harder drugs).

Here are some examples to consider:

  • Get up 30 minutes early in the morning to read God’s Word and pray. Ask the Spirit to guide your reading time. Make lists of the people in your life and pray for them on a specific day. Of course, going to bed at a decent hour will help a lot!
  • Eating right always makes a difference. Choose foods that give you mental acuity, i.e. protein, low sugar, and NO high fructose corn syrup. The fewer ingredients (and ones you can pronounce) the better. Check out the ingredient list for Lays potato chips, Fritos, and Cheetos. The difference will surprise you.
  • Along with a fit mind goes a fit body. Figure out when you feel the best during the day and work in some work-out time. Walk, walk, walk! Walking can be done anywhere, in any clothes (except shoes), and in any weather (especially indoors).
  • Have a project:
    • Listen to or watch a series on Creation or other Bible topics on YouTube;
    • Listen to or watch a series by a well-known preacher/teacher;
    • Listen to Christian music instead of secular music;
    • Learn to read music (it’s a language, and one that’s not that hard to speak);
    • Get involved in a ministry, whether in-church or out-of-church, one from which you receive no benefit other than serving;
    • Pick a book of the Bible and learn all you can about it; practically memorize it!

These are just suggestions. Ask the LORD what HE would have you do. Let’s not be content with where we are; He has a wonderful adventure ahead of us! Even storms take on a new feel when we are walking with Jesus. Who knows? We may even get to walk on water with Him!

In all things, “Preach [teach, share] the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” We are His ambassadors. Let’s go be salt and light in our corner of the world.

Abba, I certainly don’t exempt myself from setting goals. Please help me to pick the ones You want me to do and then empower me to do them. Hold me accountable to You, O Lord. Grow me. Fill me. Get me ready for whatever is coming next in my life and in this world. Counting on You, amen.

Proverbs 1 1-1-20

January 1, 2020

In order to understand a subject, we first learn as much as we can about it. But, there’s something before knowledge…

7 The fear [love and respect] of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but [self-important] fools despise wisdom [God’s perspective] and instruction [God’s directives].

The Holy Spirit gives us a hunger and desire for God’s Word. He wants us to find out all we can about Him, His ways, and His Plan. Jesus said it like this:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

The Spirit of the LORD was upon David (you may read about his anointing in 1 Samuel 16:13). Here is what it looks like when we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our minds and hearts concerning His Word:

 

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.

 

In Psalm 119, which is a literary work of art considering that David used each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, wrote eight verses per letter, and used seven words interchangeably: law, word, statutes, ways, precepts, decrees, and commands. In this psalm we find verses like:

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
    By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.

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

103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 I gain understanding from your precepts;
    therefore I hate every wrong path.

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.

There are many more, so I encourage you to read the psalm looking for themes, the interchanging of words, and the heart of David as he was led by the Spirit.

For me, this year will be the Year of the Word. I am beginning today with a chronological reading of the Bible. I have done it before and gained great insight about how the different books, letters, and prophets fit into the timeline. I greatly encourage doing it. There are internet sites with reading plans, books with reading plans, and even chronological bibles that are lined out in that format. GO FOR IT!

Abba, as I study Your Word, may You open my eyes that I may see those beautiful truths about which David was talking–and all he had was the Old Testament! I have Your revealed truth in the New Testament that contains Your life, testimony, and Your words to us, along with instructions for daily living from Paul, Peter, James, John, and the writer of Hebrews. May I immerse myself in Your Word; may You baptize me with Your Holy Spirit. Looking forward to the year, Abba. Amen.

 

 

 

Proverbs 31 12-31-19

December 31, 2019

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 30 12-30-19

December 30, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

IF we believe that:

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

He will bring:

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

Here’s how:

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 29 12-29-19

December 29, 2019

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

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

The one who brings it is doubly blessed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will you receive Him now:

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

Welcome to the family!

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

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

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

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