Proverbs 5 6-5-20

Isn’t it time we got serious about our relationship with Christ? “Semester tests” are coming and we haven’t studied…

NOTE: #10, “Heaven,” is coming. Patience, patience…

1 My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, 2 that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.

Why become a Christian if we are not going to follow Christ? Why marry Him if we don’t want to spend every waking moment with Him–at least, that’s how I feel about Robin. I have to admit that I am hooked on His love that is so deep that I’ll never find the edges, with His peace that passes all understanding, with His joy that radiates from His throne and fills my entire being, and His companionship that gives my daily life a weight and a depth that goes beyond the mundane.

Knowing that every activity I have and do with the Spirit is a NEW THING, that together we are creating an offering to the Father that would otherwise never exist, gives my life meaning. Even my prayers are unique! I pray–even when I don’t know what to say–and He takes my prayers and transforms them into special offerings to the Father and the Son. Don’t believe me? Read this next passage:

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but [even as we pray] the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.  Romans 8:26-27

I believe that history is heading to a climax. Satan pretty much has the world where he wants it. The only thing that can hold him back is another worldwide revival. I have read reports that India is the hottest place for salvations in the world with Iran being right behind them. That’s amazing! China has always been a place of a great moving of the Spirit even in the face of great persecution. Could it be that America might be called into revival if we were being persecuted, too? It almost seemed that we might get some with the pandemic. Looking back on it, I can sure see how quickly our society can turn on us!

Rather than say, “Surely not,” let’s get before the LORD and ask Him how He wants us to serve Him, worship Him, and be witnesses for Him in the coming days. The media keeps talking about a resurgence of COVID 19 this Fall; are we ready to find creative ways to meet for prayer–even at the risk of sickness, or will we meekly quit meeting altogether and depend on the internet? The problem with the internet is that it is controlled by companies that can be manipulated. What happens if churches get censured? We would have a LOT of people stranded spiritually. What about having a network of house bible studies with everyone assigned and ready to go if the time comes? The great revival of 1857 started in a noonday prayer meeting of a few businessmen.

I take comfort from passages like Psalm 110:1-3. It’s a Messianic psalm and it describes the power and authority of our LORD Jesus Christ:

The Lord said to my Lord,
    “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
until I humble your enemies,
    making them a footstool under your feet.”
The Lord will extend your powerful kingdom from Jerusalem;
    you will rule over [in the midst of] your enemies.
When you go to war,
    your people will serve you willingly.
You are arrayed in holy garments,
    and your strength will be renewed each day like the morning dew.

Jesus even quoted verse 1 in Matthew 22:44 in reference to Himself. I take four encouragements from it:

  1. Jesus has all authority. We know that because He said so in Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
  2. Even in the midst of my enemies, I can count on Him ruling over my situation. I will NOT fear death (enough to make me shrink from it) either by sickness or otherwise, nor imprisonment (there are lots of “captive” audiences there; ask Joseph). “They triumphed over him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” Revelation 12:11
  3. We have the promise that the people of God will rise up in the face of adversity and serve Him. Now THAT’S revival! We will be arrayed in the splendor of the glory of God. That in itself will draw many and make the servants of Satan flee.
  4. Our strength will be renewed as needed. We are Spirit-driven. We will “mount up on wings as eagles, we will run and not grow weary, we will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31.

Folks, let’s be about the Father’s business. Let’s get up earlier and spend time with Him in His Word. Let’s look for opportunities to share something spiritual with people around us. Let’s meet in prayer groups. Let’s be intentional about displaying Jesus in our lives–and I’m not talking a fish on our car! Let’s be ready for that BIG DAY when our faith is tested. I want to be; don’t you?

Abba, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ that they would be able to see the signs of the times and get ready. It’s TIME! May they stop waiting for more signs; may they take this message personally; may they answer the Spirit’s call to “war.” Give us just a little more time, LORD Jesus. Help us to prepare. Amen.

Proverbs 4 6-4-20

Here is the second half of #9 of the Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say

See Critique

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right. 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips. [Jesus is coming soon]
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you. [Jesus is coming soon]
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways. [Jesus is coming soon]
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil. [Jesus is coming soon]

#9 Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready? Part 2

Yesterday, I made the statement that mankind will not know the hour, day, or year when Jesus is coming back, but we can know the season. Today, we look at His actual coming.

The best verses are in Revelation 19 where John describes the Second Coming:

9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

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.”[a] 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.

19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

Let’s break it down:

  1. The doors to heaven were standing open.
  2. Jesus was on a white horse as opposed to the donkey He rode into Jerusalem.
  3. His names are Faithful and True, the Word of God, King of kings and Lord of lords, plus there is a name that only He knows!
  4. His robe is dipped in blood–whose blood, it doesn’t say. It could be His; it could be His enemies’.
  5. The many crowns represent His sovereignty over all kingdoms.
  6. We are with Him! We are dressed in white (the big tell), and we don’t have weapons–we don’t need them. Jesus strikes down His enemies with the sword of His mouth. How? The same way He created the universe with His words. He will pronounce words of judgement and voila! Done.
  7. The beast and the false prophet are cast into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 

If we were to keep reading, it just gets better and better!

There are other clues to the imminent return of Christ:

  1. One world currency
  2. The mark of the beast
  3. Worldwide communication
  4. Treaties and kingdom coalitions

These we all have now. What we DON’T have is a peace treaty between Israel and her surrounding countries. Clinton tried it in 2000, but failed. President Trump initiated a peace plan in 2017 that is still underway. PEACE. That peace plan may be the very thing that allows Israel to build her temple.

How shall we prepare? Peter tells us how:

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.

14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation… 2 Peter 3:11-12, 14-15

Solomon said it best, though, when it comes to evangelism:

10 If you falter in a time of trouble [don’t look back], how small is your strength [weak is your faith, double-minded is your heart]! 11 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37-38). Let’s BE THOSE HARVESTERS!

One more thing: Each year, I get really excited when Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) rolls around. Why? I’m glad you asked! Jesus fulfilled four of the seven Jewish festivals, which, by the way, were instituted by God, with His death (Passover and Unleavened Bread), resurrection (First Fruits), and the coming of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost). If He did it with the first four, I believe that He will fulfill the last three just as literally. The New Year is begun with the Feast of Trumpets, then 10 days later is the Day of Atonement, and then the Feast of Tabernacles/Ingathering. These easily translate into The Return, The Judgement, and Heaven. We may not know the day, hour, or year, but we CAN know the season! This year, Rosh Hashanah is Friday, September 18 through Sunday, September 20 (the trumpet can be blown anytime during these days). It seems a bit early according to other prophecies, but–who knows? Christ may surprise us all!

I believe that God is preparing His church for a final push; whether it’s global revival or gleanings, I don’t know. I believe that He is training me for something specific. He has not revealed it to me, and probably won’t until it’s time or close to time to do whatever it is for which He is training me. In the meantime, I am staying close to Him with my eyes fixed on Him; I am writing down everything He is saying to me, and trying to memorize as much Scripture as I can. I am trying to whittle down my testimony and the Gospel presentation to their essential points so that I can share them quickly and concisely. And, I am praying for God’s Spirit to move in your heart and all who read my posts along with those who meet with me for prayer each Wednesday morning.

What is God calling you to do to prepare for what is coming?

Abba, I pray that You will impress upon the hearts of Your children what it is that You want us to do, whether it’s to get up earlier and read more in Your Word, to make lists of people and pray for them, or to talk to our neighbors, coworkers, and even random people to find out what their spiritual needs are–and then to meet them. May we all make ourselves available to You for WHATEVER You have for us to do. We are Yours. Do with us as You will. Amen.

Proverbs 3 6-3-20

Here is #9 of the Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say:

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right. 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
    preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
    an ornament to grace your neck.

#9 Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready? Part 1

See: Critique of #9, Part 1, Jesus is Coming Soon, 6-3-20

Believing like I do that John had his vision of Jesus and heaven in 90+A.D, Christians have been looking for the Return of Christ for over 1900 years. He said, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done [on account of Me].” Revelation 22:12. From our perspective, it would seem that he is dragging His feet. But, Peter explained that, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to [at least, an understanding of] repentance [with an opportunity to respond].” 2 Peter 3:9.

At the same time, Daniel, Jesus, Paul and John gave us some really good clues to know the season of His Coming. It is into those that we will delve today. Just be aware that mankind is not to know the day or the hour or even the year–but, we can know the season!

25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. Daniel 9:25-26

This part is understandable as we look back on history. Jerusalem was rebuilt in 445 B.C. and Daniel’s seven “sevens” and sixty-two “sevens” equal 490 years, which just happens to be the year that Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He died that week. The next part, after the destruction of Jerusalem, becomes very vague:

 The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary [the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D.]. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” Daniel 9:25-27

Since the temple was destroyed and has not been rebuilt yet, we can assume that this ruler is yet to come. For insight as to who he is, we go to Matthew 24:15, “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—” and then to 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” 

Now we KNOW it hasn’t happened, yet. The interesting part is that since the miraculous revival of Israel in 1948 and her subsequent victories over her enemies, there has been a push to have everything ready for the temple when it is built for the fourth and last time–even down to the Red Heifer! Update on the Building of the Third Temple

Verses 6-8 describe how it will go down:

6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

There are many theories as to who the “One” is who now holds the antichrist back. I personally think that it is the Holy Spirit as He uses the Church to stand in the gap; this is where we stand today. Eventually, somehow, we get removed and the antichrist is finally free to do as he pleases.

Caveat: To know specifically how the antichrist will take over the world, read the following verses of 9-12. I think that you will see what I see: Control of the press, made-to-order miracles (like vaccines for viruses that were manufactured), manipulated video, and other such things. At the same time, I know that God doesn’t want anyone to perish, and if we fervently ask, He might grant another worldwide revival to thwart the evil one’s plans once again. People need Jesus more than ever before!

So far, we’ve just looked at what will happen to set up Christ’s Return. Tomorrow, we will look at His actual Return. Jesus said, “Watch out that no one deceives you…Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Matthew 24:4, 42. Let’s put our hope, our faith and our trust in Him. Let’s share our hope, faith and trust with those around us. LET’S SHARE JESUS!

Abba, I pray that this post will not scare anyone, but will motivate every Christian to be about the Father’s (Your) business. It’s time to scrap the “American Dream” and adopt a heavenly one. YOU ARE COMING SOON! We not only want to be ready, we want to be found as diligent, good and faith servants. Call us to the battle, LORD. Make us ready! Amen.

Proverbs 2 6-2-20

Adjustments were made to this post. Read them here: Critique

We are on #8 of the Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say:

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right. 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

“9 Then you will understand righteousness, justice,
fairness and every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
knowledge will be enjoyable for you,
11 discretion will watch over you,
and discernment will guard you.”
Solomon, King of Israel

#8
We owe quite a debt to Israel.

We dealt a little bit concerning this subject in yesterday’s post. “We owe a debt of gratitude to Israel and should help them every chance we get, ‘For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. Romans 15:27.’”

For instance, in 1973, war was–yet again–declared on Israel. Prime Minister Golda Meir called President Richard Nixon and asked for help. According to reports, Nixon’s mother had raised him on Bible stories and had instructed him that if he ever had an opportunity to assist Israel, do it. Nixon told PM Golda Meir, “What do you need?” Here’s the scoop:

Nixon Administration initiated Operation Nickel Grass, an American airlift to replace all of Israel’s lost munitions. This was huge – planeload after planeload of supplies literally allowed munitions and materiel to seemingly re-spawn for the Israeli counter effort. 567 missions were flown throughout the airlift, dropping over 22,000 tons of supplies. An additional 90,000 tons of materiel were delivered by sea. How Richard Nixon Saved Israel

For a nation that is mostly agnostic or atheist, it doesn’t seem to deserve or even want our gratitude. Some denominations teach that Jews are Christ-killers. Technically, it was the Romans who crucified Christ, and the mob was more than likely seeded with rabble-rousers, much like the protests going on downtown. Not only that, it was for OUR sins that He hung on the cross. No one took His life; He laid it down. Here are Jesus’ own words:

No one takes it away from me; on the contrary, I lay it down of my own free will. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. This is what my Father commanded me to do.” John 10:18

So, no one killed Christ, yet we all killed Christ. To call a Jew a Christ-killer is the pot calling the kettle black. 

The history of Israel is about the Coming of the Messiah. He was foretold in Genesis 12:3 in the prophecy of God to Abraham and explained by Peter in Acts 3:21-26:

19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’ 24 “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’

God is blessing all the nations through Abraham. How can He cut off His own people? To say that the LORD has disregarded His people is to call Him a liar. The New Covenant that is spoken of in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and is reiterated in Hebrews 8:8-12 is the very covenant that He has made with us!

So, when we think of Israel, we must always think of her as the root of the tree of salvation. An olive tree may die above ground, but its root system lives for thousands of years. In fact, the trees in the Garden of Gethsemane are claimed to be 1500 years old, but the roots may go back before Christ! If Israel is our root, then Paul’s statement in Romans 11:17-18 is quite appropriate:

17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.
NOTE: I have a shirt from Israel with verse 18 on it. It has a Star of David on it encircled by a fish. LOGO

One day, we ALL will live in Israel (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 with Acts 1:10-11), and eventually, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-4). Let us pray that Israel will awaken to their Messiah! The sooner they do (Isaiah 45:17; actually, the entire chapter is Messianic in nature), the sooner we get to go be with Jesus.

Abba, I believe Your Word and trust it with my life–and for life! I feel a connection with the people of Israel and I ask for Your peace to come to them through a knowledge and acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as their Messiah. You are coming soon; even so, come, LORD Jesus, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach (Revelation 22:20).

 

Proverbs 1 6-1-20

We continue with #7 of the Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say:

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right. 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They are a garland to grace your head
    and a chain to adorn your neck.
Lineage

#7
Jesus was Jewish.

Most Jews don’t know that. They have been led to believe He’s Catholic (Italian). We know He’s Jewish because of His heritage as listed in the first verse of the New Testament:

1 This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham: Matthew 1:1

In John, we find that Jesus came unto His own–the Jews, but His own did not receive Him (John 1:11). We know from the LORD’s covenant with Abraham that Jesus always intended to include the Gentiles (all peoples/families) in His Plan of Redemption.

3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:3

The next thing we need to know is what the LORD is going to do with Israel now and in the future. He has already fulfilled a portion of the prophecy of Moses in Deuteronomy 30, which says,

1 When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, 2 and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today [this part He’s still working on], 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you [He is doing this today!]. 4 Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back [Immigrants from Russia are pouring in]. 5 He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors [this, too, He is working on]. 

It’s the next verse that God has not brought to pass. It is the one on which I am waiting, and is why Robin and I can’t stop watching the “I Met Messiah” videos on Youtube!

6 The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

The writer of Hebrews quotes from Isaiah when he spells out the job of the Holy Spirit,

15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: 16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds (a quote from Jeremiah 31:33).” Hebrews 10:16

We know that Jesus began His church with the Jews (Acts 2:1-11 Pentecost; it was even a Jewish holiday) and then included the Gentiles when Peter went to Cornelius’ house (Acts 10:25-48). We also know that even though the Jews have been sidelined “until the full number of the Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25),” there is always a remnant (Romans 11:5) that is being saved in each generation. Lately, that number has increased radically! We may be seeing the beginning of the salvation of Israel!!!

The Gospel for both Gentiles and Jews can be summed up in Romans 11:32,

32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

In Ephesians 2:14-18, Paul states that Jesus took the Jews and the Gentiles and made a new group in Himself through the cross. Now, we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” And in 3:6, Paul states that “this mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” Paul tells the church in Galatia this in Galatians 3:26-29,

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Genesis 12:3).

The Jews have never been excluded or replaced by Christians. They are saved the same way we are. In fact, the apostles were intended for the Jews (Galatians 2:8) while Paul was set apart to go to the Gentiles (Romans 15:16). We have already established that Peter (the lead apostle) was instrumental in the Holy Spirit falling upon the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house. We owe a debt of gratitude to Israel and should help them every chance we get,

For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. Romans 15:27

We share in the worship of a Jewish Messiah who will one day set foot on the Mount of Olives once again (Acts 1:10-11). I can hardly wait!

Today, let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).

Abba, I lift up the Jewish people to You asking for an outpouring of Your Spirit upon them. May REVIVAL come to Israel and to Jews everywhere even as You call them home. May I witness the greatest revival in history as You accomplish the re-establishment of Your people, and may I be a part of that revival. You have grafted us Gentiles in, LORD; we are Yours and are one with completed Jews everywhere in You, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach (Jesus the Anointed one, the Messiah). Make that oneness a reality as we pray for Your peace to fall on Jerusalem and all Israel. Amen.

Proverbs 31 5-31-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 30 5-30-20

Today, we are on #6 of the Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right. 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

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

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

#6
Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course.
How much depends
upon the decision, and how long depends
upon our own stubbornness.

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

Here’s how it works:

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

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

Here are two examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the best part:

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 29 5-29-20

We are on #5 of the Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right. 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

We are designed to create, but not by ourselves.
The Spirit wants to create with us!

18 Where there is no revelation [communication with the LORD], people cast off restraint [ go their own way; any way but God’s way is evil]; but blessed is the one who heeds [discerns and obeys] wisdom’s [the Spirit’s] instruction.

Based upon Acts 27:1-28:10.

Paul was headed to Rome. The ship that he, Luke, Aristarchus, and a few others, were on tried to make it to a safe port for winter. A Northeaster blew them west all the way to Malta, where they all made it to land safely, as was prophesied by Paul: Paul, Luke, Aristarchus, the centurion and soldiers, and the crew–276 in all. The interesting part is the interaction of the Spirit through this entire episode:

  1. Paul had a word from the Spirit that a trip beyond where they were would end in disaster (v.9-10). Paul was used to getting nudges and insights like this one. In fact, Jesus Himself unveiled His Plan to reach the Gentiles and the consummation of the ages to him (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). The Spirit also prevented him from going into Asia and Bithynia, and spoke to him in a dream about going over to Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10).
  2. Even the angels wanted to get in on what was going on (v. 23-24). When Jesus said, “I am making all things new (Revelation 21:5),” He was talking about WITH US. It’s a partnership where everything we do with the Spirit is NEW. The Spirit could have done all the things that Paul did, but it wouldn’t be new. It had to be with Paul. The interaction is primary. They were a team.
  3. Paul heard again from the Spirit in verse 31 about how to have the best outcome during the storm. There was a lot of obedience going on. We have to assume that the word, “unless,” infers there are multiple outcomes, all depending upon obedience or disobedience. The centurion chose well.
  4. Paul’s faith was in the promise from the Spirit that he would testify in Rome (v. 24). So, what did he do? He broke bread and gave thanks, and encouraged all of them to eat (v. 34-36).
  5. Paul didn’t even care when he got bitten by the snake (28:3). The end result of that episode was all the sick on the island came to him and were cured (v. 8-9). Probably lots of salvations, too. The natives honored them and sent them off with everything they needed (v. 10).

In our lives, the Spirit wants to interact with us in the same way. Everything we do in obedience and in partnership with the Spirit is first of all eternal (it carries into eternity as a good work and could quite possibly be involved in someone’s salvation), and is secondly the synthesis of something new. Right now, I am writing this lesson. The Spirit could dictate to me what to write, but then it would be His and not ours. I could write it FOR Him, but then it would be mine and not ours. If I write it under His influence and prompting, it still comes from my mind and hand (personality) while I am being directed by Him to include certain things, turn certain phrases, and be doctrinally correct. NOW it is OURS.

When it comes to writing songs, we write them together. Most are just for the LORD and are one-timers. Some I keep for personal pleasure and praise. A few I have shared publicly. It just depends upon the application for each song. It is something we do together.

Conversations with friends, work that we do around the house or at work, and even our play time is designed to be done with Him as a partnership. He is with us 24/7 ON PURPOSE! We are always creating something new with Him–provided we include Him in what we are doing. Remember the word, “Unless…” There are multiple outcomes to every opportunity. If we choose Him, we may witness the calming of a sea, the feeding of 5,000+ people, the healing of a blind man, or even survive a shipwreck!

Instead of worrying about whether He is pleased with us (or disappointed with us–which He’s not), let’s start including Him in what we are doing. I promise you will find life and following the LORD much more interesting.

Abba, I praise You for Your all-encompassing plan! You didn’t just save us for our own sake, but for fellowship, partnership, and communion. Being with us and in us is what You had in mind all along! May I capitalize on Your “residency” and enjoy You today. Thank You for getting me up so early. I have enjoyed the extra time with You. Send a fresh wind and a fresh fire upon Your people, O LORD. Amen.

Proverbs 28 5-28-20

We’re on #4 of the:

Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right. 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

Why I Believe in Jesus

It’s interesting that today’s topic should fall on a day when I don’t feel all that good. It reminds me once again that my faith in Jesus is not based on feelings, but on fact and experience. Let’s explore the facts:

  1. Jesus was a historical figure. He was a real person who lived in the first century. In fact, our calendar is set according to His birth!
  2. His fulfillment of so many of the Messianic prophecies is enough, from a logical standpoint, to accept His claim as Messiah. Statically, He is a miracle. He fulfilled 30+ prophecies in 24 hours the night before His death and subsequent crucifixion–to say nothing of the ones foretelling His birth, birthplace, timing, His escape to Egypt, His growing up in Nazareth, and many more.
  3. His substitutionary sacrifice was something I learned after I had come to faith in Him. I am supremely grateful that He died in my place and took my sins to the grave. I am also grateful that He rose from the dead and offered me new life through Him.

What drew me to Christ, though, was not logic or history. It was the prospect of having a one-on-one, personal relationship with Him. My temperament is Sanguine (yellow); I am a very social person. Connection is ultra-important to me, and when I learned that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, wanted to be my Friend, I wanted it–greatly!

At six years old, I didn’t do a lot of logical analysis; I just followed what I thought I should do next. I know now that I was following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Even to be saved, He led me in what to do, who to ask (my mom), and how to do it. In effect, my obedience to Him began BEFORE I got saved in order for Him to lead me in how to BE saved.

From that point on, I have felt His presence with me. What does His presence feel like? To me, He feels like the third dimension of my being. He has permanently affixed Himself to me. I never fear Him leaving me; that notion seems impossible. Our minds are joined, as well. I hear/feel His thoughts about me: His love, His encouragement, His joy, His peace, His radiance of the Father, His purity, His strength, His confidence, His zeal, His compassion, and even His patience as He puts up with evil until all of His children are gathered in. These are intuitive feelings and impressions that I get when I turn my awareness toward Him.

Why do I believe in Jesus? Because He’s a major part of me. I can’t imagine life without Him. He has definitely made Himself known to me!  When I read His Word, He points out things, confirms things, and teaches me about Him, His will and plan, and what is coming. He then instructs me on how to live according to what He has revealed. It’s always WITH Him, though. I am never to do anything without Him. He leads me in conversations, in kind acts, in my routine at work, in what we watch on tv, and interacts with me as I write (like right now!).

Why do I believe in Jesus? Because He is who He says He is and is doing what He said He would do. He said that He is God’s Son (God in the flesh, actually), and I believe Him. He said that He would come into my heart, forgive me of all wrongdoing and cleanse me of all unrighteousness, and I believe Him. He said that He would never leave me–more than that, He would lead me with His counsel, teach me, rebuke me, correct me, and train me in His righteousness, and I believe Him. In fact, I just summed up my entire 53 years of walking with Him!

Do you believe in Jesus? If no, then I pray that you will soon. If yes, then I pray that you will come to know Him as I do–even better!

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would be encouraged to cling to You as if our lives depended on it, which they do. You are our Rock, our Fortress, our Deliverer; You are in Whom we trust. Increase our faith even as we come to know You and follow You and obey You, LORD. Be real in our lives! Amen.

Proverbs 27 5-27-20

We’re on #3 of the:

Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right. 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?

John 16:12-15 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

Jesus was about to rock the disciples’ world–as if He already hadn’t–which is what makes today’s Proverbs verse so poignant:

27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

The disciples were about to have a really bad night and even worse few days as Jesus would be arrested, tried, sentenced, and crucified. But, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit, which did come 50 days after His resurrection on Pentecost–which, by the way, is this Sunday. Be sure to thank the LORD for His indescribable gift! Let’s look at the passage from John:

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” Jesus knows how much we can absorb at one time. He would never overdose us on revelation. In fact, we should be more concerned about “under-dosing” on revelation. Most times, we are not interested in learning something new. Why? Because it requires getting out of our comfort zone. It may cause pain or at least discomfort. And effort. Yet, if we want to be like Jesus, the Holy Spirit has a whopping job ahead of Him. We should probably do whatever He wants to do.

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. Let’s take it apart:

  1. He is the Spirit of truth–straight from the Father. We can trust Him. He will never lead us wrong.
  2. He will guide us into all truth. There is nothing dressed up or spun to look better than it is. It is the unvarnished truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, which is the only way to be able to deal accurately and effectively with circumstances or situations.
  3. He speaks only what He hears…from whom? Jesus said it was from Him that the Spirit receives what to give to us. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. We can trust the Spirit to give us the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). Want to know what Christ thinks about any given subject? Ask the Spirit. He will tell you. But, be ready to act on whatever He tells you, because He never reveals something just for knowledge sake; it’s for awareness and action.
  4. The Spirit will prepare us for what is coming in our lives–if we will listen. We get so caught up in living for the moment that we forget that things NEVER stay the same for very long. Christ is always preparing us for the next step, the next season in our lives, and He speaks to us through His Spirit. Let’s be ready.

15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” Only the Son can claim His Father’s stuff. We can only imagine to what Jesus was referring. His power? His dominion? His omniscience? His glory? All of the above? Yet, in the next 24 hours of he passage, He would die on a cross for us. Now THAT’S love! This verse is the closest one to a Trinity verse that I know. Jesus = the Father = the Holy Spirit. They are three-in-one. Don’t ask me to explain it. We may understand when we get to heaven and see all three in person. Until then, we just take it on faith to be true.

Here’s the point: The Father wants us to learn from His Son, who wants to teach us through His Spirit, the One who lives inside us and with us. Since He never sleeps, He is constantly communicating with us His love, His peace, His joy, as well as hope, grace, revelations from His Word, snippets of the future, insights about people, events, and circumstances, and the approach of the enemy. He even sings over us in our sleep! See Job 35:10

Let’s do the prep work. Let’s read our Bibles with the intention of giving the Spirit as much to work with in our minds as we can. Let’s stay in constant contact with Him throughout the day as we listen for His instruction and direction. Each time we mess up, let’s back up and correct it as He directs. Start with, “I’m sorry. That didn’t come out right. Let me try again…” Each time we correct ourselves, the quicker we will be to catch ourselves the next time we begin to mess up. It doesn’t disappoint God; in fact, He is happy that we learned something! We have become more like Him!!! Everyone rejoices.

One more verse: Romans 10:17 “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” The verse is speaking specifically about salvation, but we can take it a step further in light of our John 16 text. The message we hear are the words of Christ that He has given the Spirit to say to us. These words have their origin in the Father. The more we listen to His voice, the more faith we will have as we discern and obey.

The Spirit has lots to say to His Church, His Bride–us! Are we ready to listen?

Abba, if there’s one thing You have taught me, it’s not to ask, “Why?” but to ask, “What?” “What is it You want me to see, know, and/or do next?” Walking with You is exercise, LORD. May I be up for the task and the challenge. My You give me the strength, stamina, and desire to do Your will today as opportunities come my way. I’m saddled up, LORD. Let’s ride! Amen.

The Great Adventure – Steven Curtis Chapman

Proverbs 26 5-26-20

Yesterday, we began the Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say.
Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right (see #1).
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us through the Indwelling and Filling!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

Today, we look at number two,

Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right.

 26:3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the backs of fools!
18:2 Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.
26:12 Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.

I have done extensive research into Evolution vs. Creation; I have 150+ slides with explanations of why Creation is true and Macro-Evolution is not. I have great reasons and explanations as to why I believe in a literal six-day creation. I have loads of data on the worldwide flood of Noah. So, I began to write out my beginning argument–and WHAM. God opened my eyes to this: If a person is not willing to consider that I may be right, then he will not “hear” a word I say. If he is not looking for truth, then no amount of truth will convince him. So, I shut it all down and put it away until the LORD calls me to get it out.

There’s only one way a person will even consider truth, and that is if the Holy Spirit calls him to it. I believe that every person has the opportunity to choose Christ at some point in his life. But, I also believe that many won’t–and God knows who they are. He doesn’t make them not choose Christ; He simply knows they won’t because He is omniscient. And, because He is omnipotent, He causes all things to work for the good of those who DO choose Him and according to His good purpose in spite of those who are enemies of the cross.

Since I am NOT omniscient nor omnipotent, I trust that God will use me as His instrument to bring a person to Christ, or to be a witness whose testimony will ultimately be used against that person at judgement when my testimony is played back and any excuse the person may have had evaporates. I view every person I talk to as a potential brother or sister in Christ. I try to follow the Spirit’s leadership when talking to someone. Sometimes, I drop a nugget of knowledge; other times, I get into a conversation about spiritual things. A lot of times, I am told to keep my mouth shut and keep moving. I can only trust that God is keeping me away from scoffers and mockers. I always pray for them. 

Heed the Father’s words:

23:9 Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.

9:7 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.

Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” – Jesus

If a person is willing to listen with an open mind, then I consider him under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. He may not realize it, yet, but God is working on his heart. Every word I share from that point on must be designed to show him God: His attributes, His love, and His Son. I can win the argument, but lose the war if I offend him or humiliate him. If he is truly interested in hearing the truth, then he may be interested in hearing about God’s plan for his life.

Also, regardless of how many facts I have, they don’t hold a candle to my own personal testimony about my relationship with the Father through the Son via the Holy Spirit. It’s the part of the story that moves from the intellect to the heart. If the LORD doesn’t confirm in his heart what I am saying, then the person has no conviction of his sin and separation. If there is no conviction, then there is no way for the person to come to Christ. Jesus must be knocking on his heart’s door. It may simply not be time, yet. The statistic is that a person will be exposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ seven times before making the decision to follow Him. I am usually number 2, 3, or 4. I see my job as opening a person’s mind to truth by revealing God to him in ways he may not have previously been presented–according to the Scriptures. Clarity is essential to understanding. The Holy Spirit makes things clear.

From my journal this morning:

If we never learn another thing about the history of the world and the universe, it would not affect the way we live our lives. What matters most is what we do with Jesus. He has the power to save us from our sins and to release us from our chains. Through Him we can have a relationship with God!

  • Believe that HE is the Son of God who came from heaven to die in our place.
  • Believe that He is the Lamb of God who is the perfect sacrifice that takes away our sin.
  • Believe that He is the Priest of God who lives forever, sits at the right hand of God, and intercedes for us to the Father.
  • Believe that He is the King of kings who is coming back to restore all things.
  • Believe that He is the LORD of lords and will rule all the earth.
  • Believe that He is the Judge of all mankind, the living and the dead, and will dispense justice.
  • Believe that He is the Messiah, Savior of Israel and all who believe on Him and in Him for salvation, life, and even our next breath.

As you are made aware of who Christ is and your sinful condition, do you regret your sins and your broken relationship with God? Will you turn from your sinful, self-centered ways and turn to Christ for forgiveness? He’s standing at the door of your heart. Will you let Him in? Are you willing to live for Christ from now on?

Abba, I pray for all who read this post that they would know You. Make Yourself known to them. Reveal Yourself, LORD! Call them to walk with You daily, continuously. May we move from glory to greater glory as we gain insight and understanding, wisdom and knowledge, discernment and prudence. May today be all about You, LORD Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 25 5-25-20

Sometimes a guy just needs a platform, a soapbox from which to speak. I give you:

Top 10 Things I Would Like to Say

Their importance is not necessarily rated, but their order has a flow to it. They move from initial contact to ultimate destiny.

  1. Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion, it must stand the closest scrutiny.
  2. Debating Evolution vs. Creation does no one any good unless a person is willing to consider that the other person may be right (see #1). 
  3. Faith comes by hearing; are you ready to listen?
  4. Why I believe in Jesus.
  5. We are designed to create, but not by ourselves. The Spirit wants to create with us through the Indwelling and Filling!
  6. Every decision we make shifts our direction, vision, and course. How much depends upon the decision, and how long depends upon our own stubbornness.
  7. Jesus is Jewish.
  8. We owe quite a debt to Israel.
  9. Jesus is coming soon! How do we get ready?
  10. What awaits us in heaven?

Today, we look at number one,

Absolute truth is based upon empirical, changeless evidence. When followed to its logical conclusion,      it must stand the closest scrutiny.

Proverbs 25:7b-8 What you have seen with your eyes do not bring hastily into court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?

Without evidence, all we have are opinions. The natural laws, of which Gravity, Electromagnetism, Physics, and Chemistry are examples, have empirical, changeless evidence, which gives us absolute truth. We cannot add “science” to the group because science is the study of the natural laws. Also, it is progressive in nature, meaning that it is always in flux based upon revelation. For example, blood-letting used to be good science; now we know it kills people. Likewise, chocolate and caffeine are good for you one year and then bad for you the next, and then back again.

Since mankind is physical and controlled (regulated) by natural laws, we should consider that our psyche has absolute truth, too. True, we are subject to our heredity, environment, and experiences, but it all comes down to CHOICE. What’s the choice? The choice is whether we will please ourselves or take into consideration the needs of others. All moral law is built upon this choice.

Since chaos cannot produce order, but rather more chaos, we must acknowledge that God created the universe and, thus, the natural laws. We must also conclude that He built within us His moral law and the ability to CHOOSE. It is called Free Will. There are three choices to Free Will:

  1. We choose to please ourselves. We take what we want and do not consider the health, safety or needs of anyone else. Followed to its logical conclusion, we will either rule the world or die/be killed in the process. Even ruling the world would be only for a short time on the scale of eternity–or even human history–with no consideration of God.
  2. We choose to consider others’ needs. From a philanthropic standpoint, we can do this without God. Bill Gates has a philanthropic organization out of which he spends millions of dollars in aide, but he does not believe or follow God. Followed to its logical conclusion, why? The only reason is that meeting the needs of others pleases us, which takes us back to #1.
  3. We choose to obey Jesus Christ. We believe that Christ created everything and everyone and is actively working in this world in events, circumstances, and in people’s lives. To obey Christ is to deny ourselves and consider the needs of others. Consider these verses:

Luke 14:11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

James 1:27 The religious observance that God the Father considers pure and faultless is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being contaminated by the world. CJB

Philippians 2:3-5 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…

Followed to its logical conclusion, we receive the Father’s love and grace, forgiveness and acceptance along with His love, joy, peace, His constant companionship, and a hope for an eternal home with Him with all the privileges of sonship.

From a logical standpoint, it makes sense to follow Christ. But, it’s not as simple as deciding with our intellect that Christ is the better deal. HE must call us. He IS God, you know. We don’t just waltz into the throne room and demand our way. That way of thinking/acting would put us right back into numbers 1 and 2. Fortunately, Jesus may even now be knocking on your heart’s door. Will you let Him in?

Tomorrow, we will look at what it means to consider another option. A better one.

Abba, thank You for calling me to be Your son. I choose Jesus as my Savior and Lord, my Companion and Friend. Answering the door of my heart when You knocked on it was the smartest and wisest thing I have ever done! We have been walking together for 53 years, LORD. “Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My heart and my flesh fail, but YOU are the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:25-26. The words of this hymn speak my heart to You, O LORD, and is my benediction:

v.1 Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light
v.2 Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one
v.3 Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art
v.4 High King of Heaven, my victory won
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

Be Thou My Vision – Glad

Proverbs 24 5-24-20

Synthesis is the combining of two elements to make a whole new creation. When Christ combines with us, we are new creations!

3 By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; 4 through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

I think that we Christians get the “new creation” thing. We are not as we once were: Dead in our sins and in the Enemy’s camp. But now, we are alive in Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:1-5). What I DON’T think we get is WHY. What is God up to with saving us?

I propose that the Holy Spirit and I make up a new spiritual being. There is a synthesis that happens when we join up. More than that, the person I am becoming is a new creation fashioned not by just the Spirit, but by Him and me working together. He and I synthesize to make a new being with new thoughts, new good deeds, new songs, new inventions, new relationships, new creations, etc.

Consider our passage:

  1. We are building a new house. Is it finished, yet? NO! He and I are still working on it.
  2. Is He making me aware of what we are doing? YES! I am finally understanding what He is up to in me.
  3. It is this knowledge that allows me to see the rooms in my life that are filled with rare and beautiful treasures and to perceive them for what they really are: Our creations.

God loves us as individuals. He wants to join with us individually as we live our lives to cooperate together with Him in the making of something new, which is us. Now, I see everything I read and study in the light of His Word (including fiction, articles, and anything else I read), every thought and every word that is tempered by the awareness of His presence, every song I write, every prayer I pray, every note I sing or play with Him in mind, every lesson I post or teach, and even my interaction with other people–again, in the awareness of His presence–as acts of creation that are important parts of the process of me becoming this new creation. It is the development of what we do together with Him that makes the Christian life so exciting! And, this creating process will go on forever in greater and greater glory to God! (see 2 Corinthians 3:18 “ever-increasing glory”)

Want to know why you’re special to God? Because you are unique, and your uniqueness combined with His God-hood sends sparks shooting through the heavens. You and He are creating a NEW YOU, and it is marvelous in His eyes. He delights in our uniqueness.

14 I thank you because I am awesomely made,
wonderfully; your works are wonders —
I know this very well. Psalm 139:14

We have discussed the fact that we are now alive in Christ Jesus and seated with Him in the heavenly realms, but for what purpose? What are we to do? Here’s the rest of the story as told by the Complete Jewish Bible:

10 For we are of God’s making, created in union with the Messiah Yeshua for a life of good actions already prepared by God for us to do.

These “good actions” that He has prepared for us are the recipe for a new creation, which is us. It’s the only thing that God cannot do Himself (as soon as He does, we have lost our “synthesis;” we must work together or it can’t be done). It is why God gave us free will so that we can choose to work with Him. He is the GOD OF CREATION. He loves to create, and that is exactly what He wants to do with us.

Let’s not look at ourselves as “barely saved” and only tolerated by a holy God. Rather, let’s look at ourselves as gloriously saved, and rejoiced over by our heavenly Father. I love this next verse:

17 Adonai your God is right there with you,
as a Mighty Savior.
He will rejoice over you and be glad,
he will be silent in his love,
he will shout over you with joy.”

The NIV ends with, “He will rejoice over you with singing.” Either way we have these promises:

  1. He is with us,
  2. He is our Mighty Savior (NIV says “Mighty Warrior”),
  3. He rejoices over us and is glad–glad of what? that we are His!
  4. NO MORE CONDEMNATION!!! (see Romans 8:1-2)
  5. He will shout/sing over us with joy!

Abba, when I consider all that You have done for me and are doing to/for me, my soul breaks into thanksgiving and praise! It makes me want to do more together with You–RIGHT NOW!!! To think that this prayer is being converted by the Holy Spirit into a one-of-a-kind prayer that only He and I can make for You…WOW! May you make me aware of more and more of what You are creating in me, through me, and with me. “For from You and through You and for You are all things; to You be the glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:36 adapted).

Proverbs 23 5-23-20

“Hypocrite” literally means, “two faces.” In church, it’s when we have our “worship face” and then our “daily face.” Are they different? If they are, then we are hypocrites.

10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong; he will take up their case against you.

The ninth commandment is that we shall not give false testimony against our neighbor (Exodus 20:16). In other words, don’t lie. From this verse, we can extrapolate various kinds of falsehood: Dishonest weights and measurements, price gouging at the temple for acceptable sacrifices, and moving ancient boundary stones.

To say we love God and then treat people with disrespect
is being hypocritical.

Solomon warned people to not take advantage of the widow, the fatherless and the foreigner (Proverbs 22:22-23. In fact, God Himself warned the people not to do it Exodus 22:22, Isaiah 56:3-7). It has to do with bearing the name of God. We are to be like Him. He is kind and compassionate, and commands His  “bearers” to be kind and compassionate, too. When people cheat the needy and helpless in any way, God takes it personally.

Want to see a good example? Let’s go to Matthew 15:1-10, 17-20.

1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’[a] and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[b] But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’[c]

Jesus sounds pretty harsh, doesn’t He? All they did was ask a simple question. Ah, but it wasn’t so simple! Jeremiah spells it out in 17:26-27 concerning making sacrifices and then not keeping the Sabbath (doing business as usual), and 33:20 concerning making sacrifices to the LORD and then turning around and offering sacrifices to Baal (19:4-5). They were hypocrites. Jesus was dealing with an age-old problem, one that their ancestors did and now they were doing.

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

Jesus was defining God’s character to them by using contrast. He was sharing what is naturally in a person’s heart. Jesus is not interested so much in ceremonial homage, but in heart worship through obedience. In fact, He wants relationship. It’s why Jesus came! Look at it like this:

God created first the tabernacle (mobile)
and then the temple (stationary)
for people to come to God.

At just the right time in history
(truly a miracle in itself),
Jesus came so that God could come to us.

The Pharisees needed to get beyond their own self-righteousness through ceremony and obedience to the law and get to trusting Jesus for forgiveness of sin and for grace. Some did, too! There is Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimethea, and many others in the priesthood (Acts 6:7).

Let’s be about learning our heavenly Father’s character and adopting it as our own. The Holy Spirit is all over a decision like this! We begin by reading His Word. I heard a testimony on “I Met Messiah.com” that said something to this effect, “I don’t hear God so much when I am reading as I do between my readings. I ask Him a question, then I read. After I’ve read and I go about my day, He calls to mind what I’ve read at just the right time for me to apply it, or I realize what a passage means as I think about it over time. It’s amazing!” Try it; you’ll like it.

Abba, getting those “aha!” moments where I understand what I’ve been reading, or You pop into my head wisdom and discernment makes my day–my life! I live for those moments because I sense they are from You. May I be open to Your speaking to me and place myself in the best position I can to hear you, which is being discerning and obedient. I want to learn all I can of You, LORD. Teach me. Amen.

Proverbs 22 5-22-20

Generally speaking, do you WANT to please the Lord? Are you eager to do what is good? The Spirit within us does!

9 The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.

Generous- liberal in giving or sharing; unselfish: free from meanness or smallness of mind or character; magnanimous.

In the Greek- pleasant, agreeable, good.

What we are talking about here is character. Some people are naturally  generous, where others must work at it to become generous. Here’s the catch:

Are we being generous under the leadership of the Holy Spirit?

Bill Gates is generous, but is he being led by the Spirit? If not, then anything he does is wicked because it is done for his glory and not God’s. The same is true in our lives. ANYTHING we do that is not Spirit-led is for our glory. It’s because WE want to. Do you hear it? That self-centered heart? THAT’S the very thing that needs to be replaced–daily–with obedience to Him.

The best way to hear His voice is to practice hearing Him through reading His Word. The Bible is God’s revealed message to us. He thought it important enough to write it down and preserve it for over 3500 years! I reckon that’s pretty important, don’t you? As we read, we get nudges and whispers from the Spirit. Follow them. Write them down and verify them. Scripture validates Scripture. It’s how we keep from “proof-texting,” which means to draw a verse out of context in order to make it mean something it doesn’t for our benefit. There’s that self-centered heart again! We must access our new hearts given to us by God (see Ezekiel 36:26-27), which came with a new Covenant (see Jeremiah 31:31-33). We received it through the grace of God. Paul’s letter to Titus explains:

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14

  1. God’s grace IS the Holy Spirit. Think about it: GOD comes to live in our hearts! WOW!
  2. He teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. How do we know what they are? We read His Word and find out; we ask Him anytime we have a question or doubt about what is being said or is going on; we take our lead from others who are wise and godly–even then, always checking with the Spirit for confirmation and guidance (wise men have been wrong before, and God may have something different in mind for us).
  3. The Spirit teaches us to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives. We are on display before the entire world (or our part of it). We are either beacons that call the lost to the Lord, “the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved,” or we are witnesses whose testimony is used against those who have heard the Gospel and seen it lived out, but rejected it and Him:To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to another, an aroma that brings life (2 Corinthians 2:16).”
  4. Our hope is in His imminent return!
  5. Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us and to purify us. He has entered our hearts and we enjoy sweet fellowship with Him. Out of sheer gratitude, we are eager to do what is good according to the Spirit, right?

Let’s quit messing around, folks. Let’s get serious about living life for Him and with Him. Let’s do the hard thing and “study to show ourselves approved, rightly handling the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).” Let’s seek His counsel at every turn for every decision. Let’s check with Him BEFORE we give an answer. Let’s live by the Spirit and keep in step with Him (Galatians 5:25). Let’s be GENEROUS today!

Abba, keeping You in the forefront of my mind means actively praising You all day long. Anytime I turn my thoughts to You, I immediately begin to thank You for who You are and what You’ve done for me. My feelings automatically change into gratitude; I sense Your love, Your joy and peace, and ofttimes I receive understanding of whatever situation I’m in. Learning to discern Your guidance is what sanctification (becoming like You) is all about. May I “study to show myself approved” by You, O LORD. Amen.

5-21-20

Freedom in Christ makes no sense to a non-Christian. He thinks, “freedom from religion.” Christianity is not just a religion. It’s a relationship with Jesus. It’s coming to Him for forgiveness and life. It’s allowing His Spirit to come into our lives and make us right with God and then make us LIKE God. It’s an interaction between God and us that is familial now. We are His children!

When a lost person thinks about Christianity, what is shown to him by the Enemy?

  1. Rules
  2. Chains
  3. Hypocrisy

We Christians sometimes reinforce this way of thinking in our efforts to be more Christlike by expecting non-Christians to want to please Christ as we do. We tend to think that they think like we do about Christ. But, their hearts are dead, unregenerated, and self-centered. Their thoughts are darkened and without light. They are in the Enemy’s camp and are enemies of the cross of Christ (see Ephesians 2:1-3). Hence, Freedom in Christ becomes a secret that we inadvertently keep from lost people.

What should we do?

  1. Pray. In our conversation with God, as we practice our freedom in Christ to come boldly to the throne of the Father, we lift up the unaware, the struggling, and the resistant, to God and stand in the gap for them. We intercede for them with the Father for His Spirit to convict them of their sin, to make them aware of His righteousness and their need for it, and to understand the coming judgement of the Enemy and all who follow him. Here is a suggested format:
    1. Pray for a famine in their lives, one that is literal or simply relational; may they sense a hole in themselves spiritually.
    2. Pray for conviction over sin, that they see it as sin and wrongdoing. May they see the damage it’s doing/has done.
    3. Pray for a hedge of protection between them and those who are aiding them, supplying them and holding them in their sinful condition.
    4. Pray for a crisis of belief where they question how they are living and the possibility of God.
    5. Pray for godly people to cross their paths. They need examples and people to share the truth about Christ with them.
    6. Pray that they would make a decision to give their lives to Christ and to follow Him from now on.
    7. Here’s the hard one: Pray for God to do whatever it takes to get their attention.
  2. Go–when led to do so.
    1. Always intercede: Go to the throne of grace on their behalf.
    2. Through cards an texts.
    3. Invite them to various venues that share the Gospel.
    4. In crisis. Be available to talk, bring food, give money, mow their lawn, fix a sink, etc.
    5. Tell them about Jesus through stories in your own life. Share snippets and nuggets. Whet their appetite.
    6. Present the Gospel ONLY when appropriate. When is that? When they ask for it.
    7. Pray for others to influence them. We are a team.
  3. Be ready to encourage them and to be their cheerleader. We are come-alongsiders. At the same time, we must not fudge on our convictions (the leading of the Spirit) nor take part in their sin “in order to reach them for Christ.” It doesn’t work like that. In fact, our refusal to join them usually becomes the very thing that the Spirit uses to convict them of sin. We are to exemplify a joyful, compassionate, and non-judging Jesus, the same One who saved us.

We must remember that salvation is up to God. There is no magic formula, nor can we approach it like a sale: We don’t present our case and then the person buy it. Without the conviction of the Holy Spirit, His wooing and calling, His urging and prompting, there can be no salvation. A person isn’t even interested without it. In fact, he cannot perceive the truth about Jesus and salvation without it. Jesus must make Himself known to them. HE must call them, and they must respond. We pray for both: For Jesus to call them and for them to hear and respond. It’s what we are called to do. The rest is between Jesus and them.

Let’s be ambassadors for Christ today. Let us live as children of light and as followers of The Way. Let’s follow Jesus wherever He leads.

Abba, as I read through the words of, “Wherever He Leads I’ll Go,” for this Sunday’s Time of Introspection, I felt You confirming in me once again my own decision to follow You wherever You lead. I have taken up my cross and I am following You. “My heart, my life, my all I bring to Christ who loves me so. He is my Master, Lord, and King, wherever He leads I’ll go.” What a great verse, Lord. I consider it my own. Lead on, my King. Amen.

Proverbs 20 5-20-20

Sin seems like a pretty good option–until we have a better one: Jesus Christ! He is our BETTER OPTION.

9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?

The problem with sin is that it is spiritually discerned. We must have the Holy Spirit informing us of what is sin. Without the Spirit, anything and any way can look good. Proverbs 16:25 says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”  Actually there are many ways that appear to be right, but there is only one right one, and it is spiritually discerned.

Spiritual discernment means that we set aside all we know, all we feel, and how things look, and go with what the Spirit is telling us.

Right and wrong are revealed to us by the Spirit, and He uses His revealed Word to do it. It doesn’t matter what we might hear or perceive; if it doesn’t match up with what God has already revealed to us in His Word, then we are not to believe it.

The Word trumps intellect, feeling, and experience.

The reason the Word of God is so important is that we need something tangible on which to base our knowledge and to interpret our experiences. We need an anchor for our feelings. Consider this verse:

For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

Being grounded in the Bible makes us grounded in our faith. Why?

  1. God talks to us through the Scriptures.
  2. The Spirit confirms in our hearts the message of love we find in it.
  3. We need concrete evidence of what truth is.
  4. It is our vital connection to Him; it is instant access, our sweet fellowship with the Spirit as He opens our minds to His Words and reminds us of everything Christ has said.

From my journal:

Abba, if I don’t have You as my better option, then sin seems like a pretty good choice. If we could view sin from an analytical view, we would probably do a whole lot better in our choices. If sin was exactly that, a wrong choice, then we might choose right over wrong.

But, sin is much more than a wrong choice–it’s a trap! And we cannot view sin analytically because our heart takes our feelings, our desires, and amplifies them to the point where we can think of nothing else. Then, once we have sinned, we realize that we are now enslaved to that sin. WE NEED A SAVIOR!

Our better option for any temptation is Jesus. He’s our 12 o’clock. He’s our Savior. If we run to Him, He gives us the oil of gladness and a garment of praise; He will crown us with beauty. We will be set free and our broken hearts will be mended (all from Isaiah 61:1-3).

With His presence, His favor, and His  companionship as my better option, sin does not hold the lustre it used to. I find that I can resist the overwhelming feelings and they ebb much more quickly. I feel His pleasure at my victory and it is worth much more than anything sin offers!

He Is My Better Option.

YOU Are My Great Option, Jesus!

Our weapons are praise and thanksgiving, remembrance and the Word of God (His promises)

If we are willing to put in the time and effort, He is willing to pour into us all the richness of His grace. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9a. “And my God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory.” Philippians 4:19

Abba, I pray that we all would make You and Your Word top priority in our lives. Make it so in mine, O Lord. I want to know as much as I can about You even as I get to know You personally. One of these days, I’ll stand before You in person. I want to hear the words, “Well done, My good and faithful servant. You have done well. Enter now into My rest.” Until then, I am humbly Yours. Amen.

Proverbs 19 5-19-20

“Find out what pleases the Lord.” Do you have the desire? Do you care what He likes? His followers do!

2 Desire without knowledge is not good–how much more will hasty feet miss the way!

God wants to show us what pleases Him. It’s all wrapped up in our relationship with Him. He doesn’t want us to do stuff FOR Him, but WITH Him. He will reveal what pleases Him as we get to it in our walk with Him. A lot of what He likes is already printed in His Word, but even that needs clarity and definition by the Spirit.

Yesterday, we looked at D.O.ing the will of God through D.iscernment and O.bedience. We discern what the Spirit is saying to us and then we obey using His power and His direction. The quote at the beginning is actually Ephesians 5:10. Let’s look at the previous verses:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light [our behavior should show it] (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth [His light within us produces all that is good, right and true]) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord.

  1. Asking Him pleases Him.
  2. Searching for it as for hidden treasure (Proverbs 2:4) pleases Him.
  3. Enjoying His company, growing in grace and bearing the fruit of the light pleases Him.
  4. Realizing that we are loved, worthy and already pleasing to Him pleases Him!

We are most like Christ when we are completely dependent upon the Holy Spirit and are striving to show God to others as we enjoy His fellowship and participation in our lives. That’s a description of Jesus’ relationship with the Father while He was on earth. Easy to say, hard to do. It takes trust through repetition, then trust through repetition, then trust through repetition. etc.

Take Abraham for example.

  • He was promised by God to become the father of many nations; he allowed Pharoah to take Sarai into his harem. God rescued her.
  • God made a covenant with Abraham (and changed his name), and promised once again to make him into a nation that would outnumber the stars and the sands of the sea; he took Sarai’s slave and had a child with her.
  • God made yet another covenant with Abraham (circumcision); Abraham allowed King Abimelek to have intentions with Sarah (name change). God rescued her again!
  • Finally, Isaac is born! Was God ever mad at Abraham? It’s not indicated anywhere that He was–although, He did say that Ishmael would be a problem from then on. Boy, was He right about that!

Neither is He mad at us when we mess up. He simply rescues us and calls us to walk with Him. Again. and again. Until we are finally perfected in His actual presence in heaven. Let’s not buy the lie of Satan that we can disappoint God. It’s impossible to disappoint the One who knows us inside and out–yet, loves us anyway! He knew what He was getting Himself into. We are His and that’s all that matters to Him. Let’s revel in that revelation! In fact, knowing this little fact about God just makes us love Him more and want to serve Him more.

Abba, it thrills my soul to know that You are crazy in love with me. It makes me wanta SHOUT! I want to please You even as I am pleasing to You. Direct me each day; give me discernment and revelation concerning Your will and I will enthusiastically obey Your command–with Your presence, power, and participation. Let’s get to it! Amen.

Proverbs 18 5-18-20

D.iscerning and O.bedient: These are what we D.O. for Christ today. It’s how He wants us to be. In order to be these, though, we must first be connected. What does that connection look like?

15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
    for the ears of the wise seek it out.

The first thing is to be willing to do a little foot work. We must seek out what has already been revealed. I know of two sources: The Word of God and God’s people. One of my favorite songs is Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Walk With the Wise.” Here are some of the lyrics:

I’ve learned to look for answers in those born before my time
As I listen to them tell me what they’ve learned in their lives
I talk to friends with understanding much deeper than my own
And gain wisdom beyond measure I could never find alone

The second thing is to ask Him for:

  1. His opinion- We find it in His Word.
  2. His meaning- He gives us revelation as we read, but we need to double check with Him to make sure we understood Him correctly.
  3. His direction- Many times, He will reveal something to us and then send us to someone for more clarity and filling out. It’s how the body of Christ works.

The third thing is to D.O. what it is He has revealed to us. Through discernment (the revelation of knowledge via the Spirit), we learn what it is that Christ wants us to do next. In our obedience, we lean on Him for courage, power, and even the skill to do whatever the task is. We do it WITH HIM. Doing things FOR Christ will get a person in trouble and sometimes reveals a dirty secret: He doesn’t really know Christ:

To know about Christ but to not actually know Him means that we make all of our decisions from our human perspective–NOT what God had in mind! He wants to be part of our daily experience, to walk with us and share our lives. It’s the POINT of the cross. If we miss the connection with the Spirit, we have missed the entire reason for His coming. If we persist in not making this connection, we will miss His Second Coming, as well! THAT’S how important knowing and walking with Christ is.

As we D.O. for Christ today, let’s make sure that we are discerning what the Spirit is saying to us and that we are being obedient to Him even as He directs our thoughts and actions. It’s like the Spirit is the hand and we are the glove. Even as He works through us, we get to experience being one with Christ: All the love, joy and peace, all the patience, kindness and goodness, all His faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; we get to know the TRUTH about all things; we get to see from His perspective (godly wisdom), and we grow in faith as we gain experience. It’s a walk, a journey, and an adventure!

Abba, may we make the effort to know You and to grow in our faith. May the desire of my heart be fulfilled in my life, which is to be completely absorbed in becoming like You, to walk with you so closely that I even smell like You, that I become so transparent that people see You in me, and that I shine as brightly as possible as a child of light (Ephesians 5:8). Make it so, LORD. Amen.

 

Proverbs 17 5-17-20

Why are you going to church today? For whom have you lived all week? Are you seeking Him through repentance?

10 A rebuke impresses a discerning person more than a hundred lashes a fool.

The tendency is to go to church–whether in person or online–out of habit. What we need is a refresher course on WHY CHURCH? We go to church to meet with other Christians. We fellowship, worship together, praise the name of Jesus, and then listen to our pastor who has a message from the LORD for us. We then respond to this message by aligning ourselves to the commands of the Word of God and the message from His servant, our shepherd, and pledge ourselves to Jesus. We should be rejuvenated and recharged in our spirits as we head into another week.

If we consider church like an urgent care center, we find in the waiting room sick people and hurt people who are waiting to “see the doctor.” The pastor is the one who takes us back to the examination room where the Great Physician sees us. Sometimes, in order to get better, the doctor has to hurt us, for instance, a broken arm needs setting, or a splinter needs to be removed. If they have any of that bright orange stuff my mom used to put on our injuries, THAT HURTS! But, it disinfects and protects until the body heals.

Concerning our verse, we go to church to hear from the Holy Spirit. We pray that He will speak to us through the singing, the reading of the Word, and/or through the message. WE NEED A FRESH WORD FROM THE LORD. Even if it is a rebuke, we relish it because it is from Him.

King David felt the same way:

Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness;
    let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it,
    for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers [even myself].

How would you prefer to be corrected, through a rebuke or through consequences? At least, through a rebuke you recognize that the LORD is trying to correct you. Through consequences, many people miss the fact that they are even being reprimanded. They think it’s just bad luck.

Let’s go to church (even virtual church) with the idea of hearing from God today. Let’s praise Him along with the singers and then listen to the sermon with the idea of God speaking to us. Then let’s respond to His Spirit. Let’s determine in our hearts to be and do according to what He has revealed to us about ourselves and what He has told us to do. Even His rebuke is encouraging “because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son [child].” Hebrews 12:6.

Abba, I pray that as I lead music today that I would be the lead worshiper. May my life be in alignment with You so that I may be a clean conduit of Your love and grace. May joy be my garment today as I praise You. May You speak to Your children as we meet together. I know You will be present. May Your Spirit link us with those who are still at home. May they sense Your love and concern, O LORD. Bless us as Your people. Call us to Your work. Amen.

Proverbs 16 5-16-20

If you had known that Christ wanted your entire life, would you have given Him your heart? Will you today?

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.

We don’t give Him our ideas–we ask Him for HIS plan! We must back up enough in our minds to include Him in the forming of our ideas. The best way to do this is to read His Word, because it is there that we find God’s expressed will and desires. For instance,

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

Jesus wants us to come to Him with all we have and are. We can trust Him. He has our best interests at heart.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

It is God’s heart that every person on earth come to him in repentance (turning away from our sin and turning to Him, being contrite over the way we have lived and ready to do things His way). This “turning to Him” is how we should pray. We have this promise, “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” Isaiah 66:2. Also, we need to be ready to be part of the solution.

Let’s talk about being part of the solution. What does that look like?

  1. We must be in on the huddle. Ask God what He is up to in people’s lives: The president, the cabinet, Congress, our capitol, our city, our church, our family and friends. Allow Him to guide you to the person/people with which He wants to use you.
  2. We must be willing to be involved. “Selective Service” is what I call it when we pick and choose how God can use us. THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS. Dead people don’t have preferences. We have been crucified with Christ; we no longer live, but Christ lives through us (Galatians 2:20). Got it? Good.
  3. We must be ready to give all. Jesus has given us resources–but, for what? To make us comfortable? Maybe a little. He DOES love us and we are His children. But, we are to be willing to use EVERY resource we have been given if called on by Him. Everything we do is being watched by a lost world. We need to demonstrate Christ in everything we do, from what we give financially to His work (the church, missions, ministries, etc) to our time and even our lives. Are we ready to “take it on the chin” if society becomes anti-Christian?

I heard someone say the other day that First-Century Christians would have laughed at our restriction about not being able to meet as a church. True, that. It could be a LOT worse. Let’s be intentional about praising and serving our LORD whether sequestered or public. We begin by spending quality time with Him in private prayer and Bible study. Folks, we can’t get around it: We Need That Time With Him. Let’s make it happen.

The tyranny of the urgent will keep us from looking ahead and seeing with spiritual eyes. For instance, driving in from the Tri-City area on I-44, I can get to daydreaming–I know, you’re astonished. Anyway, when I see the sign for 74th Street exit, I will take it without thinking about the fact that I really want I-240. So, I have to go down to May, turn left, and then get on I-240. It doesn’t “hurt,” but I do lose about 3 minutes. Had I been focused on where I was going, I would have paid better attention. Consider this verse from today’s chapter:

25 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

Let’s not live our lives in a haphazard manner. If we do, then we will be conformed to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2a). Instead, let’s transform our minds (Romans 12:2b) by washing them in the water of the Word (Ephesians 5:26). Let’s focus (fix our eyes–Hebrews 12:1-2) on Jesus and make Him the Object of our attention and our faith. Let’s be intentional about our walk with Him. Committing everything we do to the LORD will make us successful in His eyes. Is there anything better?!

Abba, there is nothing more satisfying and gratifying than sensing Your presence and “hearing” Your voice. Stepping back from the world, quieting my soul, and turning my attention to You is a pattern and habit I want! Help me to cultivate it as I walk through today. And tomorrow. And the next day, etc. More of You, less of me.  Amen. “He must increase; I must decrease.” John 3:30. 

Proverbs 15 5-15-20

Do we really want to become like Christ? Or, are we in love with the idea of being like Christ? They are different.

32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.

We are going to “adjust” this verse just a little bit to read, “Those who disregard THE DISCIPLINES…” In other words, there’s work to be done here.

There are three layers to our psyche:

  1. Our temperament-Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic and/or Melancholy
  2. The Five Love Languages-Time, Touch, Words of Affirmation, Service and Gifts
  3. Our Birth Order-First Born Male, First Born Female, Second Born, Middle Born, Last Born (the baby)

Complicate these layers with our sin nature, and we get a mess! What is our sin nature?

  1. The lust of our eyes-What we see, we want! The passion that is generated by our hearts overwhelms us. Don’t believe me? Take a five-year-old to the candy or toy isle at Walmart and you’ll see it in action!
  2. The lust of our flesh-We can’t resist that donut or extra cup of joe, the seconds on what tastes good or that apple pie (a la mode). And let’s not talk about our sexual desires…
  3. Our pride of life-We are the most important person in our lives. We want wealth, security, power, control, to be important, to be admired, and to be loved. We will steal, kill, and destroy to get them. Sound familiar? “The thief [Satan] comes to steal, kill and destroy…” John 10:10a. We were just like our daddy, the devil. “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 not truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44.

Praise God for the Holy Spirit! Through Christ, we died to our sinful nature and are raised to walk in newness of life in Christ! We are new creations!!! We are crucified with Christ and we no longer live, but Christ lives in and through us. From now on, if we humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, He will help us overcome our sinful nature, reorganize our temperaments, understand our love languages, and accommodate our birth order.

Here’s the biggie: WE NEED TO TUNE IN FIRST THING IN THE MORNING. The longer we wait, the more set in our ways we become and the more damage we might do. Reading the Bible first thing in the morning opens our hearts and minds to His leadership and guidance. It’s how we breathe spiritually: Breathe in His words and his life; exhale our sin and self. REPEAT. His Spirit displaces our bad side and pushes it right out! WE ARE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT!

There is an added benefit to having your quiet time with the Lord first thing in the morning. If you’ll do it so that your family can see you interacting with the Father, it will be a source of comfort to them knowing that you are striving to be like Christ and a subtle encouragement for them to do the same. There is a warning: If they interrupt us while we are reading/praying, we must practice patience and gentleness even as we instruct them that it needs to be really important. Waiting is a virtue; teach them how (it usually requires long-suffering…).

Being so complicated gives us insight to the true nature of God. He is much bigger than we are, so we will spend the rest of eternity plumbing the depths of the richness of His attributes. Amen and amen!

Abba, You are amazing. You are wonderful. You are glorious. I marvel at Your goodness, Your patience and long-suffering; I wonder at your Plan, which you have been working since the beginning. I glory in the promise that you will bring all things to unity in Christ sometime soon. I can hardly wait! Until then, I am Your humble servant. Use me as You see fit, O LORD. Amen.

 

SS 5-17-20 The Spirit Within Chapter 2.5

Last week, we learned that Salvation is all about relationship: our relationship with Jesus Christ, who is God, through the Holy Spirit, who is God, also.

As a quick refresher, let’s read Ephesians 1:13-14 from the NLT.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.

We also learned that we are mobile temples who house God.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.                  

Today, we learn about sin, righteousness, and judgement. John 16:8-11

When he [the Advocate] comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

These verses give us a picture of all that Jesus did on the cross.

  1. He will now convict all people personally of their sin through His Spirit. Romans 1:18-19 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 
  2. He, through His sacrifice, makes eternal intercession for us to the Father. Romans 8:26-27 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 
  3. He sealed Satan’s fate. Revelation 20:10 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. 

The next thing we need to know is found in 1 Corinthians 2:10-15.

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.[c] 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments,

Let’s break it down:

  1. The Spirit shares God’s heart and mind with us. The Spirit is God, therefore, God shares His heart and mind with us. Proverbs 1:23 says, 23 Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make my heart known to you.
  2. The Spirit helps us to understand what God has freely given us. He speaks to us by way of our spirits, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
  3. Without the Spirit, there is NO WAY to understand spiritual ANYTHING. In fact, spiritual stuff is just downright foolish to the worldly person. Indeed, he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned and he is dead in his trespasses and sins. We were, too, at one time.
  4. What we learn from the Spirit cannot be judged by man, nor can we be held accountable (judged) by what the Spirit says to each of us. I know this idea sounds crazy dangerous, but it is known as the priesthood of the believer. We all get to hear directly from God! We are accountable to Him. Just bear in mind that if what we say or think the Holy Spirit says to us conflicts with the Word of God, then we must go with the Word of God. It is the revealed will of God to mankind. It trumps experience and revelation.

The last verse of the chapter gives us a revelation that we need to unpack. “We have the mind of Christ.” What does that even mean?

  1. He speaks directly to us. “It’s not that I literally hear His voice–it’s much more than that.” – Jimmy Cox. We sense the rightness of it, sometimes the urging to do His will; sometimes the comfort of His love and His joy in our conversation. Sometimes it’s His peace that flows through us as we settle on the proper meaning of the text or circumstance. We KNOW when we are on track with Him.
  2. We see the world as He does. Once a beautiful world, now a fallen one. But, one day, Jesus will restore it to its former glory.
  3. We see people as He does. He sees people who are like sheep without a shepherd, who are being ravaged by wolves, lions, and bears (oh my). He sees us who are His brothers and sisters, co-heirs to the riches of heaven. He sees those who won’t ever come to Him, but also those who will! He uses us, mostly, to reach them.

How do we access the mind of Christ?

  1. Acknowledge Him as King of the universe and as your LORD.
  2. Open up your mind and will to Him (climbing up on the altar).
  3. Open up His Word and digging in.

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

God is looking for people who will fellowship with Him. Will you?

 

Proverbs 14 5-14-20

We tend to focus on what we fear. We need to fear God more than anything–but a healthy fear!

2 Whoever fears the LORD walks uprightly, but those who despise him are devious in their ways.

The first thing we need to know is that fearing the LORD is NOT about heaven or hell. That matter was decided the day we received Christ into our lives as LORD and Savior. We have the Spirit as our deposit of salvation and all that goes with it:

13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14

The second thing we need to know is that we are NOT on the same level as God. We are made in His image, but He is still King of the universe and we are not. He is the creator and we are His creations. Paul reminds us in Romans 9:20 of this, “But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” which is actually a quote from Isaiah 45:9.

So, what IS a healthy fear of the LORD? It’s a BALANCE of remembering who He is and what He as done for us and promised us. NOTE: The more we find out about God, the greater we trust Him. This reason ALONE is motivation to read our Bibles!

The best passage to see this balance is Psalm 8, which says:

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?[c]

You have made them[d] a little lower than the angels[e]
    and crowned them[f] with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their[g] feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

  1. Notice that God is recognized as LORD, King of the universe.
  2. He is omnipotent (all-powerful) against His enemies using even infants and children!
  3. David is awed by the works of God’s hands as he considers creation.
  4. Yet, he knows that God has exalted man above creation and directly under Him.
  5. He finishes with the same thought: You are LORD!

David lived in the awareness of God’s majesty and glory, but also His desire to intimately know His children and interact with them. We are to have that same awareness. This awareness requires us to “check our vanity and arrogance at the door” and “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” We are to Worship the Lord with gladness, and come before him with joyful songs.” 

For His children, His awesomeness is tempered by His love for His children. John describes this mindset in his letter:

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 3:1a

All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 1 John 4:15-16

There is no fear in this love, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment [of the old mindset], and this shows that we have not fully experienced [learned] his perfect love. 19 We love each other because he loved us first. 1 John 4:18-19

And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. 1 john 4:17

Want to know complete love and have confidence as we stand before the LORD? Then in this world live like Jesus. Impossible? Absolutely–NOT! Jesus was completely dependent upon the Spirit to reveal the Father’s will, for intimate fellowship, and for power to complete His mission both daily and ultimately. WE ARE, TOO! We live each day EXACTLY like Him:

  1. Completely dependent upon the Spirit to reveal the Father’s will,
  2. Completely dependent upon the Spirit for intimate fellowship,
  3. Completely dependent upon the Spirit for power to complete our mission.

Let’s be about the Father’s business, reveling in His love and yet showing our respect for Him as our LORD and God.

Abba, may we live in the light of Your glory and grace–what a matchup! You are King of the universe, yet You made yourself nothing, emptying Yourself and taking human form (Philippians 2:6-8) so that I could be set free and reunited with You through Your Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-2, 16). You empathize with our weakness, but give us power to overcome. You even invite us to join You at Your throne and enjoy Your presence. You give us mercy and grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). LORD, I no longer fear your punishment, but I DO have a healthy respect for who You are. Be Lord of my life today. Amen.

 

Proverbs 13 5-13-20

Jesus wants a dynamic relationship with you! He saved you for this very purpose. Are you seeking Him like He seeks you?

4 A sluggard’s [lazy person’s] appetite [craving] is never filled, but the desires of the diligent [in their relationship with Christ] are fully satisfied.

If I said that those who avoid having a dynamic relationship with the Lord are lazy, would you agree? It takes a certain amount of arrogance to simply decide NOT to do something that we know is right and that we know we should do. In this case, it makes me wonder if the Spirit is actually present in that person’s life at all! Listen to Psalm 16:11 and what God has in mind for us:

11 You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand. 

When we plant the garden of fellowship with the Spirit, the first fruit grown are love, joy, and peace. These three well up inside us like water in a fountain and spread to all around us. They make up the sweet fragrance of Christ (see 2 Cor. 2:15). Don’t you want to know His love? Don’t you want to feel His joy? Don’t you want to experience His peace? I know I do!

Look at what happens to a person who ignores the Lord’s pleas to get together with Him:

30 I went past the field of a sluggard [one who ignores the LORD],
    past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
31 thorns had come up everywhere [instead of fruit, there are thorns],
    the ground was covered with weeds [his life is a shambles],
    and the stone wall was in ruins [he is unprotected from the evil one].
32 I applied my heart to what I observed
    and learned a lesson from what I saw:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest—
34 and poverty [spiritual emptiness] will come on you like a thief
    and scarcity like an armed man [even what he has will be taken away-see Matthew 25:29].

Being filled with His Spirit is simple. All we have to do is intentionally stay in His presence, by His side and in His arms. Think of yourself as a little lamb and He is the Good Shepherd. When we get rambunctious or afraid, He picks us up and loves on us. He doesn’t even scold us. Instead, He speaks softly to us kind words and gentle words.

If you don’t know where to start, then start with Psalm 16. You will read phrases like, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing,” and, “LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot [life] secure,” and, “I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” And then, the best verse: 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. 

We have to like our sin pretty much to disregard such an invitation. I pray you will turn away from sin and turn to a better option: The option of receiving and enjoying the benefits of eternal life RIGHT NOW in a dynamic relationship with Jesus.

Abba, I pray that those who know You as Savior will come to know You as the Good Shepherd, for that is what You are! Thank You that You do not hold my sin against me–in fact, You don’t even see me as a sinner anymore. You see me as Your little brother, whom You love very much. As I draw close to You, draw me even closer! Amen. [see James 4:8a]

Proverbs 12 5-12-20

Today, I will share things I learned from the COVID19 Quarantine. I begin with this verse:

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

I temper this verse with the next one:

21 No harm overtakes the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble. Rephrased: The righteous do not worry about the harmful effects of COVID19 because God is in charge of our lives, but the wicked have no such security and see danger everywhere.

I am not saying that we are to be cavalier about the illness. It’s the difference between a healthy fear and an irrational one.

This next verse makes me tremble:

23 The prudent keep their knowledge [opinion] to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.

I have great suspicion concerning the origination of COVID19; I also question the direction taken for curbing it. Those I will keep to myself (prudence). What I will say is what God has revealed to me about me and about the church.

  • I have a rebel’s heart. I hate being told what I can do and what I can’t do, like have physical contact. I resist being told what to do, like wear a mask. I chafe at restrictions.
  • I am not afraid for my own life as much as I am at being a carrier and infecting someone else.
  • My life didn’t slow down; it just got rearranged–especially at work!
  • Regardless of its origin, this pandemic showed me how quickly we can be shut down as a nation and as a church.
  • I believe that Satan will use this tool again. Those in power got a good taste of what they can do. We will be ready for the next one.
  • I have come to see “the assembling of ourselves together” as a privilege rather than a duty. I have also come to see it as vital. We need each other. Physically.
  • It has revealed those who hunger and thirst after righteousness and those who merely attend church as just another part of their lives. It will be interesting–and sad– to see who comes back and who simply drifts away.

As we get back together over these next few weeks, may we seek the Lord’s timing for each of us and not hold each other in contempt for either coming back so quickly or for sequestering longer than most. God is happy with you even when it’s just Him and you. He knows, though, that we need encouragement and interaction in order for us to be emotionally happy and healthy. He created us social creatures.

Some of you introverts are questioning that statement right now, aren’t you? Consider what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that each of us is the temple of the Holy Spirit. But he had also said in 3:16 that we as a group “are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in our midst.” We are made to be together. Let’s pray for each other that our joy may be complete as we worship together again.

Abba, help me to learn as much as I can during this trying time. May it make me a better minister. Give me compassion, focus, and vision as we move into a post-Covid19 world. I know I need to be more intentional about my flock, LORD. Give me new strategies for keeping up with them and encouraging my readers to seek You daily. Amen.

SS 5-10-20 The Spirit Within Chapter 2

Last week, we covered what it takes to be reunited with God through Jesus Christ:

  1. HE makes us aware of our sin and our separation from Him.
  2. HE Comes to us and asks us to give Him our sin and our lives.
  3. HE makes us realize that we cannot clean ourselves up. WE NEED HIM.
  4. WE repent by turning to Him and asking Him to make us His.
  5. HE DOES! We experience a oneness with Him, a closeness that includes love, joy, peace, hope and grace. It’s Amazing! We are truly “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy!” 1 Peter 1:8-9.

We have begun a relationship with the God of the Universe! We now have His Son living in our hearts–HOW? That’s the big question that we are going to answer today.

Read Ephesians 1:13-14. 

  1. What happened when we believed? We were given the Holy Spirit. Just to clarify, the Holy Spirit is not an “it,” but a Person. He is the essence of Jesus. Hear Jesus’ own words in John 16:13-14. HE will guide us into all truth; HE will not speak on His own, but only what HE hears from the Father; HE will tell us what is yet to come; He will glorify Jesus because it is from Jesus that HE will receive what HE will make known to you. 
  2. The Holy Spirit was promised long ago: Read Isaiah 34:16, Ezekiel 36:26-27, Joel 2:28, and Zechariah 12:10. This is NOT a make-it-up-as-you-go plan. It’s always been Plan A; there’s NEVER been a Plan B.
  3. What is a guarantee? It’s assurance of something better coming. Want to know what’s coming? Read Ephesians 3:20-21. Now you know as much as I do!
  4. We are God’s possession. We now belong to Him. We are not our own anymore. Let’s read it: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

If we were to stop right there, we would have plenty to make us want salvation. Knowing and housing God–WOW! But wait, there’s more! We are clean inside, we are assured of missing hell, and we are promised heaven and all that goes with it! Have you ever thought that if heaven is where God is, and God is in our hearts, then heaven is in our hearts–we’ve already begun our eternity with Him! We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are His for eternity. Let’s just stop and praise Him now… “God is so good, God is so good…”

Three things we need to know:

  1. Searching the Scriptures daily is vital to a follower of Christ. The Thessalonicans received Paul’s teaching and preaching, but it was the Bereans who were considered more noble. Why? Acts 17:11.
  2. The Trinity lives inside of you–What?! God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have taken up residence in us. Read John 14:23, 15:26, and 16:15. Don’t ask me how He can run the universe from our hearts, but He does! I reckon it’s because of His Omnipresence and Omnipotence.
  3. We are mobile temples. Wherever God lives is His temple; He lives in us, so we are living, mobile temples. Consider this: When Jesus died, the temple veil was torn in two from top to bottom (Luke 23:44-46). Why? To let us in? Yes, but more than that: To let Him out! 50 days later, on Pentecost, tongues of fire came and… well, let’s read it for ourselves: Acts 2:1-4. We’ve already read that we are temples of the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit is God, then He resides and rules in our hearts.

When is the last time you have thanked Him for saving you? Have you thanked Him for coming to live in you? Do you acknowledge Him everyday? Listen to His direction? Consult His wisdom? If we only became Christians to miss hell, then we missed the point of Christ’s redeeming work on the cross! If Christ is important to you, then YOU WILL make spending time with Him a priority. I write out cards. The first one I read every morning as I begin my time with Him goes like this:

  1. Acknowledge the Lord as my Lord.
  2. Open myself up to His Spirit.
  3. Tune in to His voice.
  4. Have Him search my heart.
  5. I read, “Search me, O God, and know my [ugly] heart; test me and know my [every] anxious [and fearful] thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me [so that I can repent], and lead me in [Your] way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24.

I start off EVERY morning like this. If I need reminding, I have written in the corner: put off/put on entitlement-selflessness; pride-abandonment of self; vanity-humility; impatience-kindness; selfishness-self denial; sloth-diligence; anger-compassion; lust-captive thoughts; spite-forgiveness; rage-gentleness. I’m sure I will come up with more.

We can do it, but we must give up our arrogance and pride and come humbly to Christ everyday. We need His daily bread; we need HIM.

 

Proverbs 11 5-11-20

We were created for something new. God doesn’t want clones; He wants new creations! But He wants us willing.

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

Clay in the hands of the Potter is a beautiful illustration of us in the hands of God Jeremiah 18:1-6. If the clay is stiff or has lumps, it has to be reworked, adding and removing whatever is needed. The goal is to create something new, something useful, something beautiful. Our lives are like that, too.

We are designed to be molded and shaped, but not by ourselves. Clay that refuses to be shaped remains a clump of clay. It misses out on its destiny, of what it could become. When we acknowledge our spiritual state (empty without the filling of the Spirit) and our complete dependence on Him, God begins to work with us to be conformed to the image of His Son, which is the “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being (Hebrews 1:3).” But, it’s more than being made to look like Jesus. It’s the synthesis of the two, the fusion of God and each of us that is unique. It’s the making of new creations!

Musicians are my best example of what I’m talking about. When they sit down for a jam session (a time when they either play through known music together or make it up as they go), they add their offerings to the pot and let it simmer. The fellowship shared and the music that is made is unique and satisfying in a way that is addictive.

Likewise, when a songwriter writes a Christian song, he collaborates with the Spirit to create something that honors God. It may be written to share with no one but God and him (or her), a certain person for whom the song is written, or for public use. It may be a one-time song or one that spans the ages, like Great Is Thy Faithfulness or Amazing Grace. I have lots of songs that no one will ever hear. They were written as one-time expressions of my love for God. I have several that I use in my personal worship time. Will I ever use them publicly? Maybe. It depends upon the Lord’s leadership. Whatever He says, goes.

The point is that the synthesis of our collaboration creates something that is special between Him and me, and works on all levels of my life. When I turn my attention to Him and praise Him, His Spirit interacts with mine to pray prayers that I could never pray on my own, yet they are special because He is working with my prayers. We read about it in Romans 8:26-27,

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness [our inability to please God on our own and in our own effort]. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

He and I are creating something new, a gift of praise for my God and King. Your prayers work like that, too. And, when we get together and pray, the gift intensifies and multiplies on an exponential level! THIS is the reason for us to meet and pray!!!

Your efforts to honor Him with your life in work, in relationships, and in your time with the Lord are unique and special. They bless God in a way that no other person on earth can do! YOU are that special to him!!! We partner with God to create new “persons,” ones that are made in the image of God, but new and unique–like child are of their parents! It is also why every life is sacred. Even life in a nursing home can be part of the process. God isn’t done with us until He calls us home.

The key to this kind of fellowship and interaction with God is humility. We must give up trying to do things by ourselves. We are made to interact with God in everything. The strength of our connection with Him is determined by our humility, much like an internet connection. We need the Spirit of Jesus in us because we need His cooperation to do anything that pleases Him, and He needs our cooperation for Him to make something beautiful out of our lives.

My favorite daily passage is Psalm 73:21-26. Why?

  • Because it tells me who I am without Him.
  • His presence in my life is profound and appreciated.
  • His personal touch blesses me.
  • His counsel is my daily bread,
  • And His promise to take me to be with Him is the source of my joy and strength to face today and tomorrow.

Oh, Abba, whom have I in heaven besides You? And this earthly life has nothing I desire besides You. My heart and my flesh fail on my own, but You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever. You give me what I need to carry on, all the while being transformed into Your likeness. You are working with me to create something new and beautiful! Right now, I feel like a caterpillar; I can hardly wait to become a butterfly!!! Unique, but alike. That is how we are, isn’t it, LORD? “Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way; You are the Potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me after Thy will while I am waiting, yielded and still.” Amen.

Proverbs 10 5-10-20

Being in a constant state of prayer is important for Christians. Having open communication with Jesus is the key… to hearing Jesus, obeying Jesus, and honoring Jesus.

8 The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

If our prayers only go in one direction, it’s not really prayer. Prayer is:

  • A two-way conversation
  • Intimate communication
  • Close communion
  • We have instant access and constant contact
  • We have sweet fellowship
  • There is dialogue

Prayer is how we relate to the Father through the Son by way of the Holy Spirit:

  • We receive power-little prayer, little power; much prayer, much power
  • We receive solace-comfort, safety, peace, a lifeline
  • We have a foundation; He is our Rock for everything we think, say, and do
  • We have a secure source for life, truth, vision, and the future

Prayer gets us in touch with God and in sync with His Spirit. It also gives us focus and puts everything in focus. We hear words of encouragement and feel His conviction. What we DON’T hear are words of discouragement and condemnation. Those are from the devil.

As we practice putting off our old person and putting on Christ, we are as successful as our prayer life. There is no way I can be patient if I try to do it in my own power. I need His power and His counsel on how to be patient if I am to be successful. The same goes for using kind words–which kind words? When? to whom? I need His direction. Oh, would you look at that! H.I.S. It’s the Holy Spirit with me inbetween!

H(OLY)  “I”  S(PIRIT)

This is how we are to live: With us in the middle of the Holy Spirit every second of every day! Our conversation with Jesus will be continuous as we lean on Him more and more and as we read and read His Word. Meeting with our brothers and sisters in Christ and worshiping together helps, too, even if it’s virtual.

As we honor/remember our mothers today, may we honor Christ as our Savior.

Abba, I look forward to sitting down with Mom one of these days and hearing all about her adventures in heaven. Then I want to go on some with her! I’m sure looking forward to it. As Robin and I go to see her mom today, may You bless our fellowship with family. Guide us with Your counsel throughout this day, O Lord. I’m counting on You–for everything! Amen.

Proverbs 9 5-9-20

Sometimes, I get in a philosophical mood. Today, I have shared my outlook on my life and what/who governs my life.

10 The fear [awe, respect, adoration] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding [the more we know, the more        we fear–and love Him].

I don’t fear God for my life; I THANK Him for my life in Jesus. My confidence is in His love for me, but that doesn’t make me not fear Him. Instead, as I gain a better and better perspective of Him, I find Him to be bigger, more majestic, and more awesome than I can imagine! Yet, He desires a personal and ongoing relationship with ME! WOW! He does with you, too!

Consider these three statements:

  1. What I believe about God determines what I do today.
  2. What I have done with Jesus determines how I live today.
  3. My obedience to the Holy Spirit determines my tomorrow.

Concerning #1, I believe God is sovereign; He is both great and good. He loves me and wants to include me in His work, fellowship with me, and take me to be with Him one day soon. He is my Father.

Concerning #2, I believe Jesus is crazy about me and has proved it through the cross. I owe Him everything and I willingly give everything to Him: my life, my plans, my family, my ALL. He is my LORD.

Concerning #3, my obedience to Mr. Holy Spirit is how I show my love to God and my gratitude to Jesus. I have become completely dependent on Him for living life. As I trust Him today, I know He is preparing me for tomorrow. He is my Counselor.

I live for His smile:

  • It reveals His love and approval of me;
  • His love, joy and peace radiate from Him and washes over me;
  • To feel His pleasure and presence is worth it all!
  • Oh, to grasp the height, depth, width and breadth of His love!
  • His smile is my “better option.”

If you’re wondering what this “better option” is, it is the other choice when faced with temptation. When we are tempted, there is always a better option. Usually, there are real and physical options that are tangible, but there are some internal struggles that can only be won by desiring His pleasure and approval more than giving in to the cravings of our sinful nature. We have this promise:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

His way out is through our personal and intimate walk with Him. If we let Him, He will always keep us with Him, He will hold our hand, He will guide us with His counsel, and ultimately He will take us to be with Him in glory. Folks, it just doesn’t get any better than that here on this earth.

May we all take very seriously our relationship with our LORD. It has everything to do with today, tomorrow, and eternity!

Abba, You know my heart. You know I desire You more than life itself. You ARE life. May I live every moment with this thought in mind. May it wash over the errant thoughts that pass through my mind. May You help me to “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” Have Your way in me, O LORD. PLEASE!!! Amen.

Proverbs 8 5-8-20

Do you consider your heart being changed daily? Can you perceive Christ transforming your life?

If we are being transformed in the image of Jesus Christ, then I want to be like this Person:

30 I was with him as someone he could trust.
For me, every day was pure delight,
as I played in his presence all the time,
31 playing everywhere on his earth,
and delighting to be with humankind.

This is how Jesus was at the beginning of time; it is how He wants us to be at the end of time. The best verse in the Bible to me is Matthew 19:28, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Granted, we won’t be judging the twelve tribes of Israel like the disciples will, but all the other things are true for us:

  1. EVERYTHING will be renewed! It will be like it was in the beginning. According to today’s Proverbs chapter, it’s amazing!!!
  2. Jesus will sit on His glorious throne–again. This time, in Jerusalem as heaven moves to earth, or more accurately, earth is annexed by heaven.
  3. We will rule, but not on that level. Paul tells us that we will judge the nations of the world (Revelation 2:27 and meaning) and even angels (1 Corinthians 6:3). It’s this type of work to which we get to look forward.

If Jesus is restoring all of nature back to its original design and we get to enjoy it as He did, I am SO looking forward to His Return! All we have to do is this:

To him who wins the victory and does what I want until the goal is reached… Revelation 2:26

What victory? The victory over sin and sinful people. How? By following Jesus closely and doing everything He leads us to do. Daily. Every minute. The benefit is that sweet fellowship to which He refers in 3:20, “I will eat with him and he with me.” The key to successful Christian living is found in verse 19: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” 

  1. Jesus loves us!
  2. Jesus won’t let us wander too far off the path.
  3. Being earnest means being sincere.
  4. Repent means to realign ourselves with Him. Anytime we realize that we are out of sync or off the path, we re-fix our eyes on Him and move back to His side.

May we set our sights on what is to come when He returns and not get bogged down with trying to make this world work for us. He has SO MUCH MORE in store for us. Let’s just get though this life and take as many souls with us as we go to be with Him.

Abba, I don’t want to sound fatalistic, but I really am counting on Your world being a MUCH BETTER place than this one. There is much joy and love here with family and my Christian family, but I also have an inkling of an idea of what it is GOING to be like in heaven and then back on this earth for the Millennium–and beyond! Patient endurance, LORD. Give me patient endurance. Amen.