Proverbs 20 12-20-19

December 20, 2019

It all comes down to the walk: Are we walking with Jesus? Is He guiding us and teaching us every step of the way?

24a A person’s steps are directed by the LORD;

9a Who can say, ” I have kept my [own] heart pure?”

7a The righteous lead blameless lives;

27a The human spirit is where the LORD shines His light;

Why do we do the things we do? Most of what we do is out of routine. Maybe we need to scrutinize our routine to make sure it’s bringing God glory. Is He directing our path or are we just acting out of habit?

A lot of what we do is taught to us by our family and heritage. A good deal is taught by our culture/society. All of it hinges on how we interpret things according to our temperaments. As we can see, there’s a lot of margin for error in our system of learning. Where does God start?! He starts with the heart.

Let’s look at a passage of Scripture that explains what God does for us upon salvation. It is taken from a passage concerning the return of Israel that is still in process. God has chosen to save Israel one soul at a time rather than as a nation. Pray for them that they may hear His voice and respond to the Gospel just as we did!

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit inside you; I will take the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh [that responds to Me].
27 I will put my Spirit inside you and cause you to live by my laws, respect my rulings and obey them. Ezekiel 36:26-27

Our desire as Christians is to respond to His voice, live by His laws, respect His commands and obey Him at every turn. If that desire is not in us, then we had better look at our salvation again and make sure that we have the Holy Spirit inside of us! Are we:

  • getting up in the morning hearing His call to sit down with Him and discuss His Word?
  • looking at our daily lives and working on getting rid of the things that we have learned from our family and culture that are contrary to what God desires?
  • listening closely to the Spirit as He directs our steps?
  • trying to die to self and live for Him?
  • rejoicing in the daily process, understanding that we are INTERACTING WITH GOD ALMIGHTY?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The book of Romans is a great letter to people who were not raised Jewish (that’s most of us). It explains what salvation is and what godliness is. In chapter 13, he tells us:

11 Besides all this [learning to love our neighbor as we love ourselves], you know at what point of history we stand [the times of the Gentiles may be nearing its end]; so it is high time for you to rouse yourselves from sleep; for the final deliverance is nearer than when we first came to trust. 12 The night is almost over, the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and arm ourselves with the weapons of light13 Let us live properly, as people do in the daytime — not partying and getting drunk, not engaging in sexual immorality and other excesses, not quarrelling and being jealous. 14 Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Yeshua [Jesus] the Messiah; and don’t waste your time thinking about how to provide for the sinful desires of your old nature.

Today, let us focus on Jesus and let everything else go. He will let us know what is worth keeping. He lives for interaction with us; let’s learn to live for interaction with Him.

Abba, I pledge myself today to You and Your will for my life. Even as I go about my daily routine, may You speak to me about what’s important and what is frivolous, what is helpful and what is harmful. May I always be ready to adjust my schedule and my agenda to match Yours. Interrupt me anytime, LORD. I am Your servant. Amen.

Proverbs 19 12-19-19

December 19, 2019

Do we desire godliness more than anything and anyone? Being like God means letting God live through us.

3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.

If we do something a certain way, we are going to get a certain outcome. If we live according to the world, we will get a worldly outcome. If we live according to our own likes and dislikes, we will get what we want–for a season. Then, when things start breaking down, we have a choice: To blame God or to take full responsibility for our predicament. If we belong to God, then He will teach us, rebuke us, correct us and train us in righteousness according to His Word. If we do not belong to God, then we will go right on believing that we are in control of our lives and our destiny.

25 Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence;
    rebuke the discerning, and they will gain knowledge.

There are three types of people here:

  1. The mocker, who not only demands his way, but either makes fun of everyone who disagrees with him or takes their disagreement personally and gets mad at them.
  2. The simple, who are watching. They learn–hopefully–by watching what happens to the mocker. Their tendency, though, is to need flogging to learn.
  3. The discerning, who perceives things from God’s perspective, which is the very definition of godly wisdom. They receive a rebuke from God’s hand of correction and gain knowledge on how to be wise and godly.

There are several key verses that give us a great foundation for godly living:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another [and with Him], and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us [teaches us to stay away] from all[b] sin. 1 John 1:7

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 [this is a daily invitation]. Revelation 3:20

12 For the word of God is alive and active [in our lives]. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges [perceives] the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts. Hebrews 4:12

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17. What is interesting is that there are only two things on which God breathed: Man and Scripture; both came to life! That breath is the Holy Spirit. Want Him to breathe on you? Get into His Word. What does His breath feel like when He breathes on us through His Word? It feels like peace, love, joy, knowledge, discernment, hope, grace, wisdom, prudence, and much more according to our situation and what we need.

If we choose to NOT take the time to read His Word, it means that we consider it either unworthy of our consideration, unnecessary for the day, or contrary to what we want to do today, all of which speaks of either a breach of fellowship or a lack of relationship. I refer once again to our Proverbs verse for today:

3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.

Let’s not go there, shall we?

Abba, may I take to heart my own words and spend time with You in prayer and in Your Word. The instruction I receive from You is like honey, O Lord; it is sweet to my mouth and mind, and it gives me strength for the tasks ahead. May I not get so uptight about following Your will. If I will spend time with You each day and then listen for Your voice as I walk through the day, I WILL BE in the center of Your will. It’s all about the relationship, isn’t it, Abba? Thank You for wanting to spend time with me. Amen.

Proverbs 18 12-18-19

December 18, 2019

Christmas is NOT just a story. It’s an event, one with life-changing potential. Jesus in the manger = Christ in our hearts.

16 A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.

God gave us the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. His love for us showed itself in compassion, which displayed itself in Love in a Body: Jesus. His birth was the beginning of the salvation process that would culminate in a crucifixion and a resurrection.

We see the Giver being ushered into the presence of the great, which is God, in this passage:

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

We see ourselves being ushered into the presence of God, because of Jesus in this passage:

24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

I am enjoying the little book by O. S. Hawkins called “The Christmas Code” that Bryan handed out at the first of the month. It is has some really thought-provoking concepts in it. One in particular is December 8 where it talks about if you could transport back to the birth of Jesus, would you be standing off to the side watching or would you be down on your knees worshiping with the shepherds? He then goes on to say that we are a type of Bethlehem. We are where Christ resides.

Christ is also wherever His Church/Bride meets. When we come to worship on Sundays, is Christ here? Are we on our knees before him worshiping him or His feet praising him? It really is that important. It really is that real.

If Christ doesn’t feel real to you, then I recommend you:

  1. Get alone and read Romans 10:9-13.
  2. Ask the Lord to reveal to you:
    1. If you believe that Jesus is who He says He is: the Messiah;
    2. If you believe that He will do what He said He would do, which is save you;
    3. If you have trusted Him with your life and received Him into your heart;
    4. If you know that you know that you know you are His.
  3. Ask the Lord to reveal to you any sin that is keeping you from experiencing the love, hope, joy and peace of His salvation.

23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
[fortunately, we don’t have to worry about this verse once Christ is in our hearts]
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

This Christmas promises to be the best Christmas ever if we get our relationship with Christ straightened out! Allowing Him to be Lord is not just a one-time event, but a daily process. That manger eventually transforms into a cross! When we kneel at one, we are kneeling at the other, as well. Let’s worship Him today as our Savior and our Lord.

Abba, thank You for coming in the form of Jesus. Thank You for offering Yourself for me on the cross. Thank You for rising from the dead and offering me NEW LIFE in You. Thank You for coming into my heart and life and cleansing me, and then beginning the process of transforming me into Your image. I know I am still myself, but now I am beginning to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and getting better at controlling myself and allowing You to live through me. I see myself as crucified with Christ; now, come and live through me, O LORD! I know that when You do, I experience Your overflowing love, joy, peace, hope, and grace that emanate from You. Today is gonna be awesome! Amen.

 

Addendum to 12-17-19

December 17, 2019

In the story earlier, there is some controversy over its ability to be verified. Here are some notes from some bloggers who are sticklers for detail:

  1. From Nick Jones at Christian-Intellect.blogspot.com: Most material from the story was taken from the writings of the 19th century scholar, Alfred Edersheim. Where there is evidence for a Tower of the Flock, there is NO written evidence for the swaddling clothes of the priests nor them laying the lambs in a manger for safe-keeping.
  2. From Shawn Beaty in response to Nick’s blog: “Thank you for this article as well. Like you, I could not find any scholarly evidence to support the practice of the passover lamb being wrapped in swaddling. I have been to the tower of the flock and there is no way Christ was born in the tower like DeYoung alleges [NOT part of the story I quoted is a postulation that Christ was actually BORN in the tower of the flock]. Consequently [Alternatively] there is a threshing floor and a cave very close to there (within 100 yards). The cave has the Davidic symbol over the entrance. Above it there is the ruin of a late first-2nd century church building. It is also right next to the Roman Road that would have passed through the area. It can not be proved but it shows that there is a lot of circumstantial evidence to prove that Constantine’s mother was looking for a great place to build the church of the Nativity [a few miles away] and [was not actually looking for] the actual birth place of Christ. But I remind us all, no site is Holy! God is!”
  3. A shepherd/goatherd gave testimony that sheep don’t need swaddling. In fact, they stand up pretty quickly and take care of themselves. Humans are swaddled; sheep are not.

As we can see, we must be careful about what we count as fact. Just because it’s in a book doesn’t make it Gospel. My thanks to Robin for looking it up. My reckoning is that if God wants us to know such details, then He will reveal them as He has so many important facts, i.e. the Dead Sea Scrolls, the excavation of the underground Jerusalem that is going on even today!

What we CAN count on is the biblical account of Christ’s birth. It’s miraculous all by itself!

Proverbs 17 12-17-19

December 17, 2019

Today I’m going to meddle: What do you do with your spare time? Are you redeeming it? Learning more for His kingdom?

24 A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

The word, “keeps,” is important in that it reminds us that we need to continue at the process. Once we read Proverbs in the morning, that isn’t the end of His lesson for us. He wants to teach us all day. He will, too, if we stay sensitive to His presence and participation in our lives. We all know it to be true, but do we do it?

We live in the age of information. We have SO MUCH INFORMATION at our fingertips on our phones, our computers, and TV’s that it’s hard to comprehend. I want to encourage you to dig deeper into a subject that will give you insight into:

  • how to counsel people;
  • things that are proving the Bible true in archeology, biology, astronomy, chemistry, etc. and sharing them with folks;
  • what’s going on in the world concerning Christians, evangelism and persecution;
  • how God is moving among the Jews and Muslims!
  • creation and a young-earth biblical concept;
  • an aspect of the Bible that interests you like “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn, “Unlocking the Secrets of the Feasts” by Michael Norten, anything by C.S. Lewis, etc.

Speaking of which, here is an excerpt from, “Unlocking the Secrets of the Feasts”, concerning Christmas that I found very interesting:

The Lamb

Let’s take a closer look at the lamb. A number of years ago I heard Jimmy DeYoung, an outstanding news commentator and Bible teacher, make a presentation at a Bible prophecy conference. Since it was during the Christmas season he was teaching about the birth of Jesus in the first chapter of Luke. He read to us Luke 2:8-12:

“In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the Lord said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.’”

Dr. DeYoung then asked the audience a surprising question: “Did you ever wonder why this was a sign?” This left us all speechless. I had to admit to myself that I had never even questioned it. Why was it a sign? Dr. DeYoung had us turn to the book of Micah. We were all familiar with Micah 5:2, which prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, but many of us were not familiar with Micah 4:8, which prophesied that he would be announced at the tower of the flock (Migdal Eder). Dr. DeYoung, who had lived in Jerusalem for a number of years, told us that Migdal Eder there was a two-story tower that had been built in a pasture outside Bethlehem. The remains of the tower had recently been discovered.

Dr. DeYoung explained that the shepherds in the field had not all been the lowly shepherds that we had always assumed. They were actually priests from the temple who were doing shepherding work to assist in the birthing of the sacrificial lambs so that they would be unblemished for sacrifice. While the shepherds were keeping watch over the flock from the top floor of the tower, the shepherd-priests would bring the pregnant sheep in from the field to the tower’s bottom floor, where the sheep would give birth. As soon as the lamb was born, the priests would wrap it with strips of cloth made from old priestly undergarments. This was done to keep the lamp from getting blemished. The priests would then place the lamb onto a manger to make sure it would not get trampled. Wow! So, when these shepherd-priests went into Bethlehem and saw the baby Jesus wrapped in cloths, lying in a manger, they must have exclaimed, “There is the Lamb of God, prepared for sacrifice, unblemished!” They had to be excited beyond description, because they were the only ones who could have understood the sign. It was just for them from God. It was personal!

NOTE: Doing some research to verify this story. Always check our facts!

I challenge you to go outside your normal routine and find something to read or watch on YouTube, something that grows your faith. Ask the LORD to lead you to something that will infuse you with excitement concerning His Word, our current times, and even His future Return!

Abba, there is SO MUCH out there that proves You are God and that Your Word is TRUE. May we care enough and make the time to search for these hidden treasures. It’s so cool when we open them and feel the excitement of learning something new, as well as feeling Your pleasure. It’s just like Christmas! Continue to reveal Yourself to us, O LORD. Getting to know You is what a relationship with You is all about. Amen.

Proverbs 16 12-16-19

December 16, 2019

Do you have the right kind of salvation? Didn’t know there were different brands? Actually, there’s only one RIGHT way.

1 To man belongs the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.

What we think constitutes salvation, our version of what it takes to be saved, is our opinion. The problem is that it doesn’t matter; what matters is what is actually true. The story of salvation is much bigger than anything we can conceive.

God had salvation set up from before time began. The Lamb of God was slain before the foundations of the world were ever laid! Jumping from the end of the story to the beginning of the story: “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” Revelation 13:8. Other corroborating verses are 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 4:3c, and 1 Peter 1:20.

God was working His plan all through early history. We can follow the scarlet thread (His bloodline) in Matthew 1:17 and Luke 3:23-37, Joseph’s lineage and Mary’s lineage respectively. From Adam to Abraham, from Jacob to David and from there it splits: Joseph comes from Solomon and Mary comes from Nathan.

The prophecy of salvation came through Moses, as well. Let’s look at a passage from Deuteronomy:

29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

Yes, there are things that only God knows; that should be obvious. But, there are many things He has revealed to us, especially concerning salvation.

30:1 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, 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, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes[a] and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. 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. 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 passage has been taken to mean the time that the LORD brought the children of Israel out of Babylon, and it certainly does carry that tone. But, there is a major discrepancy between that Return and the Return that we have seen in recent days: This dispersion was more than just in Babylon; it was to the far ends of the earth.

 The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendantsso that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you. You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, 10 if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

In this passage, we see a partial fulfillment today: God has called His children home to Israel, but many–most– are secular in belief. Also, there is no way for them to practice sacrifices, so God must have something else in mind: He has made it personal. It is now a personal decision to follow the LORD.

11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

For the best interpretation of verses 11-14, let’s go to Romans 10:5-13.

Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.”[a] But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”[b] (that is, to bring Christ down)

No one can ascend into heaven except Christ who has already come down and had gone back up to heaven and sits at God’s right hand.

 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’”[c] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

No one can be released from Hades except Christ who has already risen from the dead!

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[d] that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim:If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,”

This declaration means much more than just an intellectual assent or acknowledgement. It is a verbal contract between you and the Savior for eternity declaring your allegiance to Him from this day forward. You are swearing fealty to Him as your LORD.*

 and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 

Believing that Jesus rose from the dead is foundational for Christianity. If we don’t believe in a literal resurrection, then we are not really Christians.

10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of alland richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[f]

So, salvation for both Jew and Gentile pivots on these action points:

  1. We believe in our hearts and with our minds that Jesus is who He says He is, which is God in the flesh and God’s son through Mary, that He did what He said He would do, which is die for us on a cross and then rise again three days later.
  2. We place our faith and trust in Him to save us by verbally pledging our lives to Him, believing that He will live through us via the Holy Spirit who comes to take up residence in our hearts.

We go through this process once for salvation. We go through it daily for sanctification, which is the process of becoming like Christ by allowing Him to live through us.

What I find so interesting is that the Jews were promised the SAME METHOD of SALVATION through Christ that we were given–1450 years before the first Christmas! NOW, Paul’s teaching in Galatians and Ephesians about Christ making the two ONE makes sense! Let’s praise the LORD today for so great a salvation!

Abba, please keep opening our minds and hearts to the truths in Your Word. Keep giving us new revelations both collectively and personally. Your Word is so exciting when You explain it! Love You. Amen.

*Fealty-Stemming from the Latin word “fidelitas,” the noun fealty is related to “fidelity,” and is another way of saying “loyalty” or “faithfulness.” Feudal lords used to require it of their vassals.

Proverbs 15 12-15-19

December 15, 2019

Doing for God is not enough. It’s never been enough. We are to walk with God in the Spirit.

Adonai detests the sacrifices of the wicked but delights in the prayers of the upright.

We can be zealous for God and yet miss God. We can even have great knowledge and still not know God. We can serve God and still not please Him. How? By doing things our way, by making all the decisions in our lives on our own and by our own intellect. Consider:

1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s deepest desire and my prayer to God for Isra’el is for their salvation; for I can testify to their zeal for God. But it is not based on correct understandingfor, since they are unaware of God’s way of making people righteous and instead seek to set up their own, they have not submitted themselves to God’s way of making people righteousFor the goal at which the Torah [the Law] aims is [to know personally] the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts.

My question is this: Why would we want to be introduced to Jesus, receive forgiveness and His Spirit into our hearts, and then ignore Him, going about our business as if He WASN’T in our hearts? Living by faith means that we don’t trust our own opinion, but seek His opinion; we don’t trust our own feelings, but lean on Him to lead us. Our own hearts are wicked and capricious; the only thing we CAN trust about them is that they will lead us astray. Our hearts amplify how we feel, which is controlled by how we think. Satan is the master controller of manipulating how we think. He has culture turned against Christ, so we cannot trust what is considered “right” in our world. We must re-train our minds according to the Word of God. It is from His Word that we read:

What, then, does it say?

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.”[Deuteronomy 30:11-14]

that is, the word about trust which we proclaim, namely, that if you acknowledge publicly with your mouth that Yeshua [Jesus-the Greek translation of Yeshua] is Lord and trust in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be delivered [saved]. 10 For with the heart one goes on trusting and thus continues toward righteousness, while with the mouth one keeps on making public acknowledgement and thus continues toward deliverance11 For the passage quoted says that everyone who rests his trust on him will not be humiliated.[c] 12 That means that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — Adonai [the LORD] is the same for everyone, rich toward everyone who calls on him, 13 since everyone who calls on the name of Adonai will be delivered.[d]

As we can see, salvation is not only a one-time event, but also a process of becoming righteous. God sees us as having the righteousness of Christ; now, we are to walk in that righteousness, which can only happen by walking in step with the Spirit each day. Our banner verse should be:

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

Here it is in the Complete Jewish Bible:

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living; 17 thus anyone who belongs to God may be fully equipped for every good work. CJB

Want to feel the breath of God? Read His Word. He will whisper to You His truths and His instructions for you today.

Abba, I want to feel Your breath upon my face as I walk closely to You. As I read Your Word, may You instruct me, correct me, train me and even rebuke me. I count it as a kindness! May I be rewarded with a true sense of Your presence and the love, joy and peace that flow from Your throne onto -and into- all who stand in Your presence.

Bless us as we meet today, Abba. May we enjoy each other’s company as we worship You in Spirit and in Truth. Amen.

Proverbs 14 12-14-19

December 14, 2019

Have you been reading Proverbs? any of God’s Word? No Christian should be THAT busy! It is better for you to reorder your priorities with His guidance than to wait for Him to do it for you…!

The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.

Today we study why we don’t get saved by works. The reason we don’t get saved by works is the same reason that the Israelites didn’t get saved by following the Law. If we could do it ourselves, then Christ did not need to come.

21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! Galatians 2:21

Paul gives a great explanation in Romans 9. Let’s look:

30 So, what are we to say? This: that Gentiles, even though they were not striving for righteousness, have obtained righteousness; but it is a righteousness grounded in trusting! 31 However, Isra’el, even though they kept pursuing a Torah [the law] that offers righteousness, did not reach what the Torah [the law] offers. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue righteousness as being grounded in trusting but as if it were grounded in doing legalistic works [the scoffer-they could do it themselves]. They stumbled over the stone that makes people stumble.[Isaiah 8:14] 33 As the Tanakh puts it [as it is written],

“Look, I am laying in Tziyon [Zion/Jerusalem]
a stone that will make people stumble,
a rock that will trip them up.
But he who rests his trust on it
will not be humiliated.”[Isaiah 28:16]

 

Satan would have us believe that we can be like God[Genesis 3:3-4]–we only have to do certain things to satisfy Him. There are so many things wrong with this perception!

  1. We are already like God! We have been made in His image. The problem is that because of sin, our relationship with Him is broken. We are in the enemy’s camp!
  2. Doing certain things to “appease the gods” is the way of every religion in history. It sounds like the Sinai Covenant, but there is a difference: The Sinai Covenant was not designed to appease God, but to cover our sin until the Messiah came to take away our sin.
  3. There is nothing we can DO to please God on our own. It’s like trying to clean ourselves up while standing waist deep in a tar pit. “Doing it ourselves” is what got us in this mess in the first place! Had Eve trusted God instead of believing Satan, our history would be an entirely different story.

Proverbs 14 has another verse that is pertinent to our discussion:

27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.

This fear of Adonai [the LORD God] entails trust, just like a son with his father. The fear comes from knowing just who God is and what He’s about. It’s more an awe factor than a fear factor. We don’t fear what God will do to us as long as we trust in Him and follow Him. In fact, it’s not what God will do to us, but what happens to us when we wander away from His side! Sin destroys us. It’s why God hates it so. He wants to guide us around Satan’s snares that lead to destruction.

Today, let us trust Him by spending time with Him in His Word, giving our lives over to Him again today, and choosing this day to serve Him and no other. If we do trust Him consistently, our world will change: Our priorities, what we consider fun, our countenance, our knowledge base–everything!

Abba, I choose to trust you today. I trusted You yesterday and You were faithful beyond expectation! I trust You today because “You have the words of eternal life.” [John 6:68] Help me to stay focused on You as I go about my tasks. Guide me, O LORD, according to Your Spirit. Amen.

Proverbs 13 12-13-19

December 13, 2019

If Christ is in us, then we want what He wants. We might also want what we want, but having a fight inside ensures us that we ARE His.

5 The righteous [innately] hate what is false, but the wicked [those who give in to ungodly feelings] make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.

It’s the fight inside that proves we are His. If the Holy Spirit were not inside of us, then we would not be bothered by choosing wickedness. Instead, every decision we make is being run by Him and He is giving us His opinion. He is training us to be righteous. Our “want-to to want to” is proof that He is living and active in our lives.

So, that’s the first step in righteousness. The second step is to learn as much as we can intellectually so that we know righteousness from unrighteousness. “Find out what pleases the Lord.” Ephesians 5:10. We do that through prayer and Bible study. When the Bible says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32, then we must learn to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another. We tend to do it in a general sense first, categorically. But, then, we start running into it all over the place. We find that even small expectations bring out judgement in us. We must learn that even in the small decisions–especially in the small decisions–we must think like Christ.

The third step is to train ourselves to be godly. “Have nothing to do with godless myths [don’t entertain them in your minds] and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.” 1 Timothy 4:7. How? By practicing the presence of Christ. We are NOT meant to be godly in our own power; we ARE meant to act by the power of the Spirit of God in us. Jesus Himself empowers us when we get out of the way and allow Him to lead.

So, the next time someone disappoints us or is rude to us, instead of thinking ungodly thoughts, judging his comment or decision, or speaking derogatorily to someone else about that person, let’s allow the Spirit to guide our thoughts: Pray for the person; make allowance for the person’s freedom to choose; give the person a way to save face. “We will guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” I’m not talking about just what we say; we are certainly to put a muzzle on our mouths. I’m talking about what is going on in our minds and hearts. Argue with yourself, fight with yourself, and take every thought captive for Christ and to Christ. It’s important.

Paul knew this fight. Here’s what he had to say about it:

26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27

He also tells us:

We demolish arguments [with ourselves] and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God [our own justifications], and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

People will notice this change in us far more quickly than they will believe what we say. Our actions DO speak louder than our words. Let’s show Christ in the small things so that when the bigger things come, we will be prepared.

Abba, You know how I hate being unprepared for something. May I apply my own preference to my daily living. Help me to prepare each morning for the day by spending time with You in prayer and in Your Word. Help me to train vigorously in righteousness so that my FIRST inclination displays Your character and Your moral fiber, which is goodness. Make me good at being good. Thank You for answering this prayer, for it is certainly according to Your will. I will be ready for the training; give me lots of opportunities–did I really just pray that?! Indeed, I did! Amen (so be it).

Proverbs 12 12-12-19

December 12, 2019

Do you know what Christ is doing for you right now, this very moment? He is praying for you! The Spirit, too!

14 From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,
    and the work of their hands brings them reward.

There is something about a job well done that satisfies a person. It’s one of the built-in benefits of being human. God created us to enjoy our work. The body releases dopamine even when we think about things we have accomplished and we feel a lift to our spirits.

There is a spiritual correlation to this truth. When we turn our hearts to the LORD and regard Him in His Word, we feel the love and joy of the LORD as He speaks to our hearts. Not only does He address us when we acknowledge Him, the LORD Jesus, in light of His sacrifice, is our Intercession before the Father (Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross intercedes eternally for those who claim it). When we pray, the Holy Spirit takes our prayers and supercharges them! He interprets them and communicates them to the Father in ways we can never understand here on earth. Let’s read it:

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.

What can we glean from this passage?

  1. We are weak. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, our prayers are powerless. We must be in touch with Him in order to accomplish anything spiritually.
  2. There is One who searches our hearts and knows our deepest thoughts: The One who lives in our hearts! Jesus knows us inside and out. We should never try to hide anything from Him. Let’s acknowledge our sinful tendencies and ask for help.
  3. The Spirit always prays according to God’s will for us. In other words, it’s all about God’s Plan. We would do well to orient our lives according to His Plan. What IS His Plan? To bring all things under the authority of Christ.

7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become [revealed to the world that I am] your father. 8 Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. Psalm 2:7-8

That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:19b-23

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements [earth] will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 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. 2 Peter 3:11-14

If this is the case, then we should hold loosely to the things of this world and be ready to do His will at a moment’s notice. The only way to be ready is to be in constant contact with Him. It’s called conversational prayer. It’s like video-calling someone and putting him on speakerphone–and leaving the line open! THIS is how we should live our lives. It’s not so much Him checking up on us to see if we are living godly lives; it’s Him leading us around the landmines of sin in a sin-filled world.

Let’s be about the Father’s business today as we stay in touch with Him throughout the day.

Abba, I pray that You would reveal Yourself to us as we go through our day. May we sense Your presence and participation in our lives; may we recognize Your direction as You point out different things to us; may we receive Your revelation about a situation or a person and how to best minister in that situation or to that person; may we give You glory as we exult in our interaction with You! May You be honored, magnified and glorified. Amen.

Proverbs 11 12-11-

December 11, 2019

What legacy do we want to leave? Are we heroes of the faith? Let’s be remembered for our faith, courage, and love for Jesus.

24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
    another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

25 A generous person will prosper;
    whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

 

If we were to act on these verses, what would it look like? It would look like we were “testing God” to a certain extent. And, you know what: It would be true! Yet, here is what God says to us about our faith:

38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

How about this verse:

10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. Luke 16:10.

Ah, but there’s a catch:

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48b

We in America have been given great wealth. All we need to do is study history and we will see that our generation is the wealthiest in America’s history. If we look at the other countries of the world, we will see that we as a people are far wealthier than 90% of the population. Yet, the people around us are starving for spiritual food. They are being fed “food” that is NOT nutritious for their spirits:

  • Our phones in and of themselves are not bad, but the time we waste on them is;
  • We are, generally speaking, dependent upon expressing our opinion;
  • Likewise, we are hooked on TV in that we watch more television than we do reading;
  • Our food has been tainted by the food industry: we are hooked on flavor instead of nutrition, convenience rather than responsibly cooking it ourselves;
  • Even though we have more free time than any generation before us, we are overweight and use our time frivolously.

What does Jesus want from us as a generation? Let’s look at God’s Word and see:

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Luke 10:2

If we are to enter the harvest, what shall we face? What does that field look like?

  1. It’s a spiritual battle. Evil is invading every area of society.
  2. We will lose this world. It’s a given. Look at 2 Peter 3:10. Instead, “we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” v.13
  3. The battle will grow intense as the Day of Christ’s return draws near. To the seven churches in Revelation 2-3, Jesus said, “To the one who is victorious…” 2:7, 11,17, 26, 3:5, 12, 21. We must stand firm.

We have this promise:

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

What more could we ask? Let’s be about the Father’s business. There are people to reach for Christ, so let’s use every available asset to reach them!

Abba, I include myself in this exhortation. I want to “go out in a blaze of glory,” one that honors You and brings many to Christ–or, at least, witnesses to them. Their decision is their own. My responsibility, my desire, is to exalt You in all I do. Use me, LORD Jesus, to be a prayer warrior for the lost, including Israel and the Muslim countries, and to be an ambassador to all around me. Amen.

 

Proverbs 10 12-10-19

December 10, 2019

In order to SEE from God’s perspective (wisdom), we must LOOK for God’s perspective. Is that something you want?

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

We tend to want God’s provision and protection but not His direction. We still want to live as we want to live. It used to be that life in America used to reflect Christian values; not so much anymore. The good side is that Christians are having to be more deliberate about their Christianity these days. As the days grow darker, we will need to be even more so. The winds of trial separate the chaff from the wheat. In other words, when Christianity no longer benefits many, they will abandon it for what does benefit them. They have missed the most important thing: Their relationship with the LORD Jesus Christ, which lets us know that there never really was one.

23 A fool finds pleasure in wicked [his own] schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.

Do we understand that our lives are not our own anymore? Do we comprehend that the Spirit of God lives in us and has, with our consent, commandeered us for His will and His glory? If so, then we will seek out God’s will, His heart, and His passion. We will work at hearing His voice and obeying His commands. We will look for His direction and then follow it.

24 What the wicked dread will overtake them; what the righteous desire will be granted [the answer in both cases is God!].

This verse is a promise for us Christians and the consequence for those who refuse to follow Christ. They will ultimately answer to God for their rebellion. We, on the other hand, will be rewarded by standing in His presence blameless, righteous, spotless and holy–made so by the blood of Jesus Christ and His indwelling presence in our lives.

It’s time to change the way we think about our lives. Paul had the right idea:

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies [when Christ returns and makes all things new]. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:18, 22-25

God has a wonderful future in store for us. We must set our hearts on what He has in the future rather than what we can get out of this world right now. Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Let’s give our mortal lives to our blessed Savior knowing that He has a much better life in store for us beyond this life. What does He want you to do? ASK HIM! He knows and has a wonderful plan.

Abba, I once again give You my life to do with as You will. I give You my health, my ministry, my marriage, my money, my material goods, my free time–everything for Your glory. May You use me to further Your kingdom in whatever manner You choose. I am Yours lock, stock and barrel. So, what shall we do today? TBC…

 

Proverbs 9 12-9-19

December 9, 2019

Looking ahead to what is coming in the next election year, it promises to be a wild ride–it’s a wild ride right now!

Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
    teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

 

Another verse we should consider is 22:3, The prudent see danger and take refuge,
but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”
 

What I consider to be vital areas are:

  1. The support of Israel. Either as a nation or as an individual, we have been warned by God to support Israel. We may not approve of their spiritual state at present, but we know that they are in a type of suspension until the “times of the Gentiles has been fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). But, we are seeing God begin to move in the hearts of individual Jews! They are coming to Christ and accepting Yeshua as Messiah in numbers never seen before. We must do everything we can toward the salvation of the Jews–at the expense of the Gentiles? Goodness, no! But, we have this promise: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;” Genesis 12:3. That statute is still valid.
  2. The rights of the unborn child. Abortion is the modern worship of the god Molech (see Leviticus 20:2-3, Jeremiah 7:31). We, as a nation, cannot ask for God’s blessing if we condone and protect by law this behavior. We must preach against it and teach that those little lives are sacred and must be protected.
  3. We must have a strong military. The show of might-and the willingness to use it- curbs evil. Nuff said.
  4. We need a good moral climate. Judeo-Christian values is on what our nation was based.
  5. We need a strong economy. Whatever decisions are made should be made with these things in mind:
    1. What promotes new business?
    2. What promotes people’s safety in spending? In other words, do people feel safe to spend?
    3. Is our country’s leaders being wise in how they spend our country’s money? This one is a can of worms–or snakes. I’m afraid that the leaders who try to open this one up will (and have) become the “problem.” We need to pray for courage and protection for those willing to take on “the beast.”

For these things we pray and vote. We must remember that as the time of Jesus’ Appearing draws near, this world will grow darker–which means that our lights should grow stronger and brighter! Let’s make sure that we are watching and discerning the times according to God’s Word and His Spirit.

34 “But keep watch on yourselves, or your hearts will become dulled by carousing, drunkenness and the worries of everyday living, and that Day will be sprung upon you suddenly like a trap! 35 For it will close in on everyone, no matter where they live, throughout the whole world. 36 Stay alert, always praying that you will have the strength to escape all the things that will happen and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man [as one approved].”

Abba, I am both excited and wary about the coming election. I know that You put kings and leaders in place and remove them, raise nations up and bring kingdoms down, and I am counting on You doing the same thing with America. May we Christians be faithful to honor You with our lives, vote according to Your leading, and to be witnesses wherever we go and in whatever circumstances we find ourselves knowing that You are in charge of our lives. Make us intentional followers of the Way, O LORD. I place my faith and trust in You again today. Amen.

Proverbs 8 12-8-19

December 8, 2019

It’s easy to tell if we are one of God’s children: He tells us so. His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are His children.

14 Good advice is mine, and common sense; I am insight, power is mine.
15 By me kings reign, and princes make just laws. 16 By me princes govern,
nobles too, and all the earth’s rulers. 17 I love those who love me;
and those who seek me will find me.

Paul shares some amazing things in Romans 8 about our relationship with God through Christ. The Spirit of Christ comes to live in our hearts (see v.9) when we believe that Jesus says who He says He is and did what He said He’d do, and when we trust in Him by placing our faith in Him as our Savior and as our LORD. This process is covered in 10:9-10,

If you declare [publicly] with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe [trust] in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved [delivered]. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe [trust] and are justified [continue toward righteousness], and it is with your mouth that you [publicly] profess your faith and are saved [delivered].

It’s all about the relationship. The problem we have is getting beyond our own self-centeredness. If we can grasp what Paul is saying, we will be able to let go of the things we like and think we need in this world in exchange for what Christ has for us both in this world and in the next. WE HAVE THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST LIVING IN US! Here’s what He has done for us:

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

God didn’t promise an easy life on this earth, but He did promise an extraordinary one by living for Him rather than for ourselves. As children of God, let us long for His country and His Presence. In the meantime, let us enjoy Him as we meet together and praise His name, study His Word, and fellowship in the Spirit. Let’s have CHURCH!

Abba, as we meet today in our respective churches, may we grasp the fact that we are all joined together in You through Your Spirit. May we join those who are already around the throne worshiping You. We are ALL ONE FAMILY! Wow!!! Thank You for including me in Your family, LORD. May I honor You with my life today–and forever. Amen.

Proverbs 7 12-7-19

December 7, 2019

Our way of thinking has gotten us into more trouble than we know! It’s time to let Him guide our thoughts and ways.

25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. 26 Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng.

All sin comes from faulty thinking. Check out Eve’s story in Genesis 3 or Cain’s story in Genesis 4. We need to make sure that we are thinking correctly about God and about righteous living, which means that we need to think correctly about sin. There’s only one Source from which we can get an absolutely right perspective, and that is from God. It’s not hard; it just depends on how much it means to you to get it, because once we get it, we are obligated to live by it!

Paul makes it plenty plain in Romans 8:

But you, you do not identify with your old nature but with the Spirit — provided the Spirit of God is living inside you, for anyone who doesn’t have the Spirit of the Messiah doesn’t belong to him [BEST Trinity verse]. 10 However, if the Messiah is in you, then, on the one hand, the body is dead because of sin [our status]; but, on the other hand, the Spirit is giving life because God considers you righteous [our status]. 11 And if the Spirit of the One who raised Yeshua [Jesus] from the dead is living in you, then the One who raised the Messiah Yeshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you. 12 So then, brothers, we don’t owe a thing to our old nature that would require us to live according to our old nature13 For if you live according to your old nature, you will certainly die; but if, by the Spirit, you keep putting to death the practices of the body, you will live

It makes sense, then, to find out as much as we can about the Spirit-life. Spiritual matters should interest us more and more as worldly matters should fade into the background. What matters are we talking about? That’s for you and the Holy Spirit to determine. It’s one of the things that we get to do with Him. It’s during times like those that His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are His children (that’s from Romans 8:16).

Try reading or listening to people’s testimonies about how they came to Christ. It’s very uplifting. One of the things I like to do is go to IMETMESSIAH.COM on YouTube. It’s about Jews who have come to believe in Yeshua Messiah (Jesus). Truly inspiring. Another good book is Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Andrew, a 16th Century monk. Ask the LORD and He will lead you to just the right resource at just the right time in your life. He’s good at that.

Let us not grow weary of doing good. Galatians 6:9. Instead, let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23.

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

Abba, I pray that my brothers and sisters in Christ would “catch the bug” of learning about other people’s conversions and what You have taught them. May they gain all kinds of insights and tips for righteous living. May we identify with them in their sufferings and learn to love You with all our hearts. Lead us, LORD, in our daily walk. We are following and listening and obeying. Amen.

Proverbs 6 12-6-19

December 6, 2019

Why do we do the things we do? It’s important for us to understand our motivation. Who are we trying to please: Ourselves or Christ?

3 So do this, my son [child], to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:

9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard?

12 A trouble maker and a villain, who goes about…

16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to Him:

25 Do not lust in your heart after her beauty…

32 But a man [or woman] who commits adultery has no sense…

If we are motivated by our natural desires, desires of the flesh, then we act according to the natural man [person]. It is what it is: Only Natural. But, those of us who have the Spirit of God living in us can move beyond the natural to the supernatural, i.e. the spiritual. We answer to a higher calling and have power available to us through Him to overcome our natural tendencies, and thus to behave like Christ and to become in thought and motivation just like Christ.

Jesus brings out in us all the good things in our personality. Imagine if everyone was kind and compassionate, slow to anger and considerate. What if everyone was quick to forgive and not remember the wrong? Would everyone be the same? Would we all be robots? Hardly! Instead, we would all be at ease with each other and would be free to be ourselves without having to worry about condemnation and ridicule. We wouldn’t have to worry about “landmine” topics, nor about there being sharks in the water (figuratively speaking).

Jesus wants to free us from the bonds of sin and our natural tendencies in order to become the persons we really are. Slavery is inhibiting, to say the least. Why would we want to stay bound to our old nature? Christ has SO MUCH MORE waiting for us! Here’s how it works:

8:1 Therefore, there is no longer any condemnation awaiting those who are in union with the Messiah Yeshua. Why? Because the Torah [Law] of the Spirit, which produces this life in union with Messiah Yeshua, has set me free from the Torah [Law] of sin and death. For what the Torah [Sinai Covenant] could not do by itself, because it lacked the power to make the old nature cooperate, God did by sending his own Son as a human being with a nature like our own sinful one [but without sin]. God did this in order to deal with sin, and in so doing he executed the punishment against sin in human nature, so that the just requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us who do not run our lives according to what our old nature wants but according to what the Spirit wants. Romans 8:1-4 CJB

Knowing that Christ has set us free from our old selves, these next verses take on a new focus:

30 Many people who heard him say these things trusted in him. 31 So Yeshua [Jesus] said to the Judeans who had trusted him, “If you obey what I say, then you are really my talmidim [disciples]32 you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:30-32 CJB

We now know the truth, and that truth is that in Christ we have been set free! Now, let us let that truth set us free from following our sinful natures, and instead, follow Christ.

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NIV

Here it is from the Complete Jewish Bible:

 20 When the Messiah was executed on the stake [cross] as a criminal, I was too; so that my proud ego no longer lives. But the Messiah lives in me, and the life I now live in my body I live by the same trusting faithfulness that the Son of God had, who loved me and gave himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 CJB

Today, may we make it a point to set aside our natural desires and way of thinking to consider His perspective [wisdom] and to do things that please Him, namely, our obedience. It’s all about the relationship, that interaction we have with the Spirit of God.

Abba, thank You for guiding me day by day, minute by minute. I live for our relationship. The stuff I do is a distant second compared with communing with you in sweet fellowship. May I learn what quenches the Spirit (restricts the connection) and avoid it, even overcome it, depending upon how entrenched it is. Keep sanctifying me, Lord. I want to be JUST LIKE YOU. Amen.

Old Man’s Rubble-Imperials 1977

Chorus: Are you living in an old man’s rubble? Are you listenin’ to the father of lies?

If you are then you’re headed for trouble. If you listen too long, you’ll eventually die.

Verse 1: Are you walking’ with unnecessary burdens? Are you trying to take them upon yourself?

If you are then you’re living in bondage, And you know that’s bad for your spiritual health.

Are you trying to live by your emotions? Are you puttin’ your faith in what you feel and see?

Then you’re living just to satisfy your passions And you better be careful, ‘cause you’re being deceived.

Chorus: Are you living in an old man’s rubble? Are you listenin’ to the father of lies?

If you are then you’re headed for trouble. If you listen too long, you’ll eventually die.

Verse 2: Are you puzzled by the way that you’re behavin’? Do you wonder why you do the things you do?

Are you troubled by your lack of resistance; Do you feel that something’s got a hold on you?

Well, deep within’ you there’s a spiritual battle. There’s a voice of the darkness and a voice of the light.

And just by listening you’ve made a decision, ‘Cause the voice you hear is gonna’ win the fight.

Chorus: Are you living in an old man’s rubble? Are you listenin’ to the father of lies?

If you are then you’re headed for trouble. If you listen too long, you’ll eventually die.

Chorus 2: If you’re living as a new creation If you’re listening to the Father of light

Then you’re living in a mighty fortress And you’re gonna’ be clothed in power and might. 

Proverbs 5 12-5-19

December 5, 2019

We have been given a new nature, one that wants to please the Lord. Let’s cultivate this new nature!

My son, pay attention to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding;
so that you will preserve discretion and your lips keep watch over knowledge.

For the lips of a woman who is a stranger [a loose woman–representative of enticement] drip honey, her mouth is smoother than oil;
but in the end she is as bitter as wormwood, sharp as a double-edged sword.

 

God’s words on the Mount Sinai were designed to show us that without Him, we cannot resist evil. Our emotions and our feelings are too strong for us to handle. They always have been. Look at Eve:

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it had a pleasing appearance and that the tree was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her; and he ate. Genesis 3:6

  1. She saw it in a new light, the light of deception. Satan tempted her.
  2. It was pleasing to her–it looked delicious. God designed it to be good, only not to be eaten at this time. The sin was not in the fruit, but in the act of rebellion.
  3. Desire took over. Lest anyone blame Eve, Adam was standing right there! We have to assume that by his inaction he condoned what Eve was doing. We are in this together!

Jesus came to fix us by forgiving our sin and coming to live inside of us, thus giving us His power and His mind so that we can resist sin and learn to be just like Him. Even though we will not be back to how things used to be in the Garden of Eden until Christ returns, we can have the mind of Christ, which is something that Adam and Eve didn’t have! In a way, we are closer to God than they were; they walked with God when He came to walk with them in the garden, but Christ, through the Holy Spirit, is in us 24/7. We are NEVER without Him!

At one time, the Sinai Code (the Torah) brought us death by setting the bar of holiness, one that we couldn’t reach. Actually, it was just a primer, which shows us just how sinful we really were! Paul describes what happened in Romans:

Therefore, what are we to say? That the Torah is sinful? Heaven forbid! Rather, the function of the Torah was that without it, I would not have known what sin is. Romans 7:7a

Have you ever seen a sign that said, “Do Not Touch,” and wanted to do just that? All because the sign told you not to? That is the sin nature at work within us. Paul continues:

13 Then did something good become for me the source of death? Heaven forbid! Rather, it was sin working death in me through something good, so that sin might be clearly exposed as sin, so that sin through the commandment might come to be experienced as sinful beyond measure [seen and known for how bad it really is]. 

Once we are saved and the Spirit of Christ comes to dwell in us, we learn to abide in Him, which means that we grow in knowledge and wisdom and learn to like what He likes and hate what He hates. We learn to trust Him and to lean on Him more and more each day. The love we share with Him and the fellowship we have with Him increase without limit! All we have to do is commit our way to Him each morning and walk with Him throughout the day, acknowledging His presence and authority in our lives and doing as He directs.

Simple? Yes. Easy? No. We still fight the sin nature, but fight it we must! We thank Him for His grace. Think about it: If we didn’t know how sinful were were, how would we appreciate Christ’s sacrifice on the cross? How would we know just how much God truly loves us?

Abba, thank you for showing me my sin so that I can hate it like You do. Why do You hate sin? Because it destroys me and it puts up a barrier between us. Please continue to teach me to turn away from sin, resisting its lure, overcoming desire, and finding peace and rest in Your presence, O Lord. Today is another day; let’s get started. Amen.

Proverbs 4 12-4-19

December 4, 2019

When you trusted Christ as Savior, did you present yourself to Him as an obedient slave? That’s what Lordship means.

11 I’m directing you on the way of wisdom, guiding you in paths of uprightness;
12 when you walk, your step won’t be hindered; and if you run, you won’t stumble.

God’s plans for us are for good things in our future and a hope for that future (Jeremiah 29:11). Our hope is in His Coming, either for us individually in death, at which time we go to be with Him in heaven (2 Cor. 5:8), or us as a group, the Catching Up of the Church, at which time we will go to be with Him in Jerusalem (1 Thes. 4:17, Zech. 14:4)! Is there a Rapture in there before Christ comes to earth? Possibly. We shall wait and see!

In the meantime, He walks with us as we go through this life and directs our steps in righteousness and holiness. The question is, how invested are we in the process?

15 Therefore, what conclusion should we reach? “Let’s go on sinning, because we’re not under legalism but under grace”? Heaven forbid! 16 Don’t you know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, then, of the one whom you are obeying, you are slaves — whether of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to being made righteous? 17 By God’s grace, you, who were once slaves to sin, obeyed from your heart the pattern of teaching to which you were exposed; 18 and after you had been set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.

This progression is universal for Christians and describes first our dilemma and then our solution:

  1. We are slaves to the one we serve.
  2. Our actions reveal who we follow, whether sin unto death (Satan) or obedience unto life (Christ).
  3. We learned the Way of Christ unto salvation and obeyed His command to receive His forgiveness of our sins and His Spirit into our hearts.
  4. After being set free from sin, we became slaves to Him. We WANT TO be righteous! It’s now our new nature.

In view of what has happened to us and Whose we are, 15 Therefore, what conclusion should we reach? “Let’s go on sinning, because we’re not under legalism but under grace”? Heaven forbid! Instead, let us learn to walk as “King’s Kids” in love, in righteousness and holiness, and with increasing glory. One day, we will inherit all of heaven and earth along with Christ (we are joint-heirs with Christ, Romans 8:17). We will once again manage the earth and even angels (1 Cor. 6:3–don’t ask me what that will look like).

Abba, I ask that You make Your will very plain to us today. Speak to us as we turn in our minds and hearts to You and to do Your will. It is our intent to learn of You and to lean on You as we walk through today. May You place us in circumstances that allow our lights to shine for You–regardless of how inconvenient, expensive, or even dangerous it may be. Our hope is in You and in heaven, not for anything down here on this earth. Even our family, whom we love so much, we entrust to You and in being with them in heaven forever rather than trying to hold onto them here on this earth. Keep us focused on You, Adonai. You are our all in all. Amen.

Proverbs 3 12-2-19

December 3, 2019

Choosing Righteousness seems unnatural, but once we do it enough times, we form a pattern of godliness in our lives.

[13] Happy the person who finds wisdom,
the person who acquires understanding;
[14] for her profit exceeds that of silver,
gaining her is better than gold,
[15] she is more precious than pearls—
nothing you want can compare with her. CJB

We have grown up in a world where so much is backwards: right is wrong and wrong is right. How can a person know the truth? Even the Word of God has been twisted to “say” what people want it to say rather than allowing it on its own. We cannot trust ANYTHING that we have learned in life except that which comes from the Spirit of God.

So, what do we do? We must learn to lean heavily upon the Spirit to show us His truth and to teach us His ways. Wisdom is seeing from God’s perspective. The only way to do that is to be subject to Him often enough to gain a larger perspective than just the here-and-now. We must quit thinking from moment to moment and start thinking on a larger scale.

Let’s start with a picture of who we were and who we are now in Christ:

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:15-18

From the moment we were saved, we were given a new nature, one that craves God and His righteousness. We WANT TO be righteous. It is THIS nature to which we should pay close attention because it is guided and controlled by the Holy Spirit who lives in you. Our allegiance is now to Christ!

This new mind sets us free from sin in that we now have a choice. Before we trusted in Christ as LORD, we didn’t have a choice. Now, because of the Holy Spirit within us and our new nature, we DO have a choice. I will say this: while making the choice, our feelings are still worldly; but after we have chosen rightly, the peace and joy that emanate from the Father to us is WELL WORTH IT! Just the comparison between the pay-off for sin and the intimate fellowship with the Father is enough to make us want to be righteous ALL THE TIME. Our motivation has certainly changed!

20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:20-23

Verse 23 reads like this in the CJB, “For what one earns from sin is death; but eternal life is what one receives as a free gift from God, in union with the Messiah Yeshua, our Lord.

Let’s concentrate today on the righteousness that comes from God and enjoy the benefits of our union with Jesus!

Dear LORD, Thank You for freeing me from the chains of sin and yoking me to You. I would much rather walk with You in righteousness than walk alone in my sin. It’s still tough making righteous decisions because I am still tempted by my flesh and my worldly mindset. Help me, O LORD, to replace my worldly thinking with godly thinking through Your Word and through Your guidance. May I rethink EVERYTHING in my life and make it subject to You and Your righteousness. Let’s start right now! Amen.

 

Proverbs 2 12-2-19

December 2, 2019

Living a godly life isn’t all that hard; all we have to do is die to ourselves. In fact, we already have!

10 For wisdom will enter your heart, knowledge will be enjoyable for you,
11 discretion will watch over you, and discernment will guard you.

What we don’t realize most of the time is the active role that the Holy Spirit takes in our lives. If we were to tune in to all that He does for us, we would be awed and grateful! Just the fact that you are interested in spiritual things is courtesy of Your resident Holy Spirit. The entry of the Spirit of Christ into our lives happened the very moment that we gave our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ, Yeshua Messiah. He, through the Holy Spirit, came to live in us, to speak to us, to lead us, to grow us , and to develop us into fully equipped and devoted followers of Christ. One of my favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 4:16, which says, “Though outwardly we are wasting away [growing older], inwardly we are being renewed daily.” Add to that 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit, and we have a pretty solid description of the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives.

Why would God go to so much trouble for us? Because He loves us! It’s what the cross was all about. By dying to ourselves, we can live for Him. Paul explains the process:

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will also be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was put to death on the execution-stake [the cross and we were crucified] with him, so that the entire body of our sinful propensities [our leanings and tendencies] might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For someone who has died has been cleared from sin. Now since we died with the Messiah, we trust that we will also live with him. We know that the Messiah has been raised from the dead, never to die again; death has no authority over him. 10 For his death was a unique event that need not be repeated; but his life, he keeps on living for God. 11 In the same way, consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God, by your union with the Messiah Yeshua. Romans 6:5-11 CJB (Complete Jewish Bible)

As we  go through today, let’s remember that He is for us and with us. Let’s let Him guide us as we walk through this day. “What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms. What a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms.”

Abba, thank You for such a great salvation, one that keeps giving and giving; one that changes me into who I was created to be little by little, attitude by attitude. Sometimes, I don’t see it. In fact, I get frustrated with the slowness of the process, especially if I think I am going backwards! But, I know that You are the one who keeps me, and You are the one who is in charge of my transformation into Christlikeness, so I trust that You use EVERY moment and EVERY decision to make me more like Your Son, Jesus. You are the Potter, Abba, I am the clay. Mold me and fashion me according to Your Plan and Purpose. Let’s GO! Amen.

Proverbs 1 12-1-19

December 1, 2019

Salvation is having Christ inside us. He is now our Savior, our Boss, our Lord. He’s talking; are you listening?

32 “For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
    and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33 but whoever listens to me [wisdom] will live in safety
    and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

If we use our own reasoning, we will fail. We will be deceived by the enemy and succumb to be part of his plan. He’s too good at what he does! We must listen to the Holy Spirit all the time. The Spirit is inside us! He is constantly trying to communicate with us. He doesn’t grow tired and He never sleeps (Psalm 121:4). If we ignore Him, then we are deliberately rebelling against His wisdom and direction. Yes, it’s that serious. Once we rebel, we are open to the enemy’s charms–in fact, we join his camp!

Instead, let us fine tune our spiritual ears to hear His voice and determine in our hearts to obey His commands. If we are truly born again, then we WANT TO do His will–His way!

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

Our “want-to” has changed. We can no longer be satisfied with doing what we want. We want what He wants. By choosing Christ, we gave Him the right to make us holy. In fact, we promised to let Him. Why do we fight Him so?

Here is the promise of what God is doing in us:

But you, you do not identify with your old nature but with the Spirit — provided the Spirit of God is living inside you, for anyone who doesn’t have the Spirit of the Messiah doesn’t belong to him. 10 However, if the Messiah is in you, then, on the one hand, the body is dead because of sin; but, on the other hand, the Spirit is giving life because God considers you righteous11 And if the Spirit of the One who raised Yeshua from the dead is living in you, then the One who raised the Messiah Yeshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.

12 So then, brothers, we don’t owe a thing to our old nature that would require us to live according to our old nature. 13 For if you live according to your old nature, you will certainly die; but if, by the Spirit, you keep putting to death the practices of the body, you will live.

Where did I learn these principles? From reading the Word of God. Make SURE that you do it today. Don’t trust someone else to spoon-feed you; that’s for babies. Man up! Let’s do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. The Spirit calls us to His banquet table. Let’s go and feast! [Solomon 2:4]

Abba, it’s time for me to put away childish things and be adult about my spiritual health and growth. It’s all about listening to You, Lord. May I continue to fine-tune my spiritual ears to hear Your voice loud and clear. May I recognize the signs that my body is tiring and wearing down so that I can do something about it rather than fall into old habits. May I continue to fill my mind with good-for-me things rather than bad-for-me things, or even fluff. Help me to take seriously my calling to be Your ambassador to this world. Amen.

Proverbs 30 11-30-19

November 30, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

From the Complete Jewish Bible:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 29 11-29-19

November 29, 2019

We would do well to measure our spiritual wealth against our worldly wealth–not opposed, but different.

3 A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.

Or,

A person who wants to think like God and enjoy what He enjoys brings joy to the Spirit within, and therefore to the Father and the Son, but a person who spends everything–time, resources, brain cells–on pleasure has exchanged any spiritual value for the fleeting pleasures of this life.

Satan knows how to enslave us because we are easily led by our passions and our lusts, i.e. DESIRE. We can’t get past our momentary feelings. If we could just learn to step back for one minute–even 15 seconds–before reacting or deciding, we would allow the initial rush of adrenaline or dopamine to pass, thus enabling us to make a rational choice based upon God’s Word and His command to us.

During that minute (or, those 15 seconds), pray to the Lord that He would give you wisdom from above. Turn your thoughts and attention to Him by addressing Him in your mind. Remembering the consequences of potential actions is good, but we should really be about pleasing our Lord and becoming like Him.

If we can suffer through the temptation, we stand to learn and gain so many things:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 

  1. We have peace with God!
  2. We have access to Him by faith;
  3. We stand before Him in His grace;
  4. We boast in the hope of the glory of God (that which is to come);

But wait, there’s more:

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame [is true; we can bank on it], because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

  1. Suffering produces perseverance, which is the ability to withstand temptation. According to 2 Peter 1:6, we are to add perseverance to our self-control. One enables the other.
  2. Perseverance produces character, which is a godly life. God is creating the character of Christ Jesus in us! WOW!
  3. Our hope is in Christ Jesus and His imminent return. He WILL reward us for our faithfulness. Just to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” would be enough for me!
  4. It’s more than that: We have His Spirit in our hearts! God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through Him. HE is the reason that we even WANT TO be holy and righteous, to be like God (godliness). Even as His power works through us to give us what we need in times of suffering and temptation, Jesus is transforming us into His own image.

With all that God is doing in our lives, it almost makes us look for suffering–almost. Instead, we receive whatever comes from His hand according to His will for our lives, which brings about the most amazing thing: Intimate fellowship with Christ.

Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy. Proverbs 14:10. God reserves the deepest feelings for Himself.

10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation [and fellowship with Him] in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death [poured out; we are buried with Christ], 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead [we are raised to walk in newness of life because of Him]. Philippians 3:10-11

Let’s take advantage of every situation to become more like Jesus. It makes suffering worthwhile.

Abba, when I ask you to make me like You, I fully understand that suffering is involved. I also know that to reach people for You (according to Your leadership) will mean suffering at the hands of those who do not want to know You. So be it. My life is Yours, Lord. Live through me. Amen.

 

Proverbs 28 11-28-19

November 28, 2019

How can we take credit for the good things in our lives? Let us give thanks to the LORD for His mercy and His grace.

14 Blessed is the one who always trembles before God [not out of fear, but with anticipation and excitement], but whoever hardens their heart [and will not go into His presence] falls into trouble.

If we ever wonder how much the LORD loves us and does for us, all we have to do is look around at all the traps, hidden snares, pitfalls, and lures that Satan has placed in our paths. He knows our buttons:

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Only by answering His call to be His children and then keeping our eyes fixed and focused on Him can we live blamelessly in this world. We are constantly being renewed by the Spirit, but we must allow Him access to our lives. Otherwise, we become the victims:

18 The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into a pit. Proverbs 28:18

“Perverse” can mean as bad as we can imagine or it could mean something that has been twisted to our idea rather than God’s idea. For instance, in judging others we condemn ourselves by taking God’s place on the throne. We have perverted justice by passing judgement upon one for whom Christ died. Jesus tells us,

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

This measure that is given to us comes in the form of insight and knowledge. We learn the heart of God! We experience a kinship with Him that only comes from walking closely to Him and seeing things from His perspective as He explains them to us. Many things He says only become clear once we have experience. Want to know godly love that gives even when the person throws it back in your face? Ridicules you for it and persecutes you? It is when these things happen to us that we begin to understand God’s love for mankind–for us! When we lose family, possessions, health, dreams and all for which we have worked, then we are in a position to understand all that God has lost because of sin:

  1. His relationship with His children;
  2. His beautiful garden;
  3. His creation that suffers to this day because of sin;
  4. All the souls that choose not to love Him!

Why does God hate sin so much? Because it destroys His children and leads them to destruction! We must learn to hate it, too. We must learn to love people and to show them the Better Way, the Spirit-led way.

As we give thanks for our blessings today, may we also ask Him for His heart, His eyes, and His compassion. Let’s be about our Father’s business, shall we?

Abba, keep molding me and making me into a useable vessel for You. I don’t want to coast for the rest of my life–I want to go out in a blaze of glory! May my life and even my death bring much glory to You, O LORD. I am thankful for the easy life You have given me; I lay it all at Your feet. May Your will be done in this world even as it is in heaven: Immediately and completely! I’m following You, LORD. Lead on. Amen.

Proverbs 27 11-27-19

November 27, 2019

How do we know the way to go? We must trust Him one step at a time. That means we must walk close to Him.

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

There is a catchphrase that I like: “I may not know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future.” First Call used it in a song a few years ago (okay, 34 years ago!). The Future We can trust the LORD to guide us through whatever is going on in our lives and in the world IF we are willing to walk with Him everyday. If we are not watching closely, He may suddenly take a path unseen by us and we miss the turn. Getting back to His side can often be painstaking in that we have to scramble. I hate that feeling! Even if the circumstances are not rough or painful, I DON’T LIKE being out of sync with Him.

Jesus warns us to stay close. Let’s look:

13 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 STAY CLOSE!

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10 STAY CLOSE!

Paul warns us to stay close, as well:

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

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2

One of my favorite passages is the Ask, Seek, and Knock passage from the Amplified Bible:

Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

Rather than seeing myself as a nuisance, I prefer to see myself as an understudy that is trying to learn everything he can from the Master and to do everything according to the Master’s instructions WITH THE MASTER. Example:

When I help Doc Lewis build a cabinet, I have a rough idea of what is involved (I have helped him before), so I try to anticipate his needs, such as getting the wood out of the pickup, having the nail gun ready to hand, handing him the glue container, etc. Many times, I wait for him to say, “Hold this board like this…” at which time I hold it exactly like he tells me. Over time, I can even anticipate having the next board ready to glue/nail. What I DON’T do is try to tell Randy how to do it according to how I think it needs to be done. Even if the cabinet is for me, HE is the craftsman and I the apprentice. As we work, we have a great camaraderie and I enjoy my time with him. We always turn out a great product!

This example is how I view my walk with Jesus. He is the Master Craftsman in life and I am the apprentice. In Jesus’ day, it was Rabbi and Disciple. In fact, that’s what Jesus calls us:

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.” Luke 9:23

Let’s be good disciples today and walk in step with Him. Spend time in His Word (He IS the Word); acquiesce to His voice and instructions: be diligent as faithful servants and disciples. At the end of the day, we will hear: Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:21

Abba, I long to hear those words! In fact, they are my main motivation for doing Your will today. I know that I have Your righteousness, but I still want to produce righteousness in my life (James 3:18). I can only do that by staying close to Your side, listening to Your instructions, and doing things exactly as You tell me. I will be listening closely, LORD. Give me something to do even as I enjoy my time with You. Amen.

Proverbs 26 11-26-19

November 26, 2019

People who believe that evolution is true call our salvation into question. They do not believe in the need for the Gospel.

5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

At the center of evolution is MAN. He is the pinnacle of the food chain. He is exalted above all other life forms and has no need for a god of any kind. The problem is that he is living in a fantasy land. GOD created the heavens and the earth. HE created mankind beginning with Adam. So, what should we tell them?

The first thing we need to remember is the previous verse: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.”

Oh oh. It seems we have a contradiction! How could these two verses be interpreted?

Verse 4: Evolutionists tend to come at Christians with an attitude of arrogance and contempt and many times aggression. We should NOT use these tactics in our approach.

Verse 5: We need to meet them on their own ground by taking that ground back through facts. There are plenty out there thanks to TRUE science and technology.

In all of our conversation, though, there is this truth: We KNOW Christ personally as our LORD and Savior. We KNOW that our faith is real and is based on real information and on truth. That’s why we should move quickly to the Gospel as soon as we see a “faltering” in their argument. If we can cause them to doubt evolution, then we have a chance to win them back to the Gospel. It’s the same tactic that Satan used in the garden. He got Eve to doubt God’s goodness and truthfulness. If we can get them to doubt the truthfulness of evolution, we may win them back by presenting the Gospel. The Holy Spirit will take it from there (as if He wasn’t involved in the first place!).

If a person doesn’t believe that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are real and literal, then there is no reason to believe in Abraham and the miracle of his Call and the miraculous birth of his son, Isaac. If we don’t believe in the Promise, then we have no basis for the salvation of the Gentiles–or anyone, for that matter.

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousnessfor us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:18-24

Asking someone if he believes in evolution is a great conversation-starter. He will almost always come back with, “Yes.” It’s not rude to ask him why he believes. Most people will answer, “Because it just is; everyone believes in evolution,” which is a great lead-in for us to say, “I don’t, and here’s why…”

  1. Life doesn’t come from non-life. Biology bears this out.
  2. New information doesn’t come from old information. Genetics bears this out.
  3. Irreducible complexity. Chemistry bears this out.
  4. A young earth. REAL science (that can be measured and tested) bears this out.

It would be wise on our part to know the science behind these reasons. There’s plenty out there! Just Google it.

We are in a war, people! Evolution is behind why our society is failing. It has taken away people’s reason to live, to strive, and to get along. It has taken away the moral authority of the church and our standing in the community. It has caused doubt and fear, disdain and hostility toward Christians and the Gospel. It is Satan’s BEST LIE: “You will be like God [or, you will be your own god]…” Genesis 3:5

Consider this:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” Psalm 14:1a

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1

To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 26 to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. Psalm 18:25-26

If we know the LORD and He shows Himself to be faithful, blameless and pure to us, then we can be shrewd in order to show Him to those who have been deceived. They will see our sincerity (which comes from a daily, close walk with him) and the Spirit may prompt them to want what we have. If we can get to the Gospel as quickly as we can, we may just win this war ONE SOUL AT A TIME.

Abba, I am feeling the urgency of the times and hopefully Your Spirit to speak out on this subject. May You give me opportunities to give testimony of your love and grace, Your glory and Your goodness. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for those opportunities. Amen.

 

 

Proverbs 25 11-25-19

November 25, 2019

What happens when we read God’s Word? He reveals glorious things to us!

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings [His children].

Something that the LORD revealed to me is that even though the Jews are the chosen people of God, they are held to the same standard we Gentiles are now that Christ has come. The neat thing is that He will call them to Himself–and is, indeed, calling–as part of His Church, His Bride, His now-extended family.

Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised [a Gentile]. Romans 2:25

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it [that’s all of us]. James 2:10

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. Galatians 6:15

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, and the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:14-16, 18

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

I have been watching a lot of videos from IMETMESSIAH.COM about Jews telling how they came to Jesus. ONEFORISRAEL.ORG is another website that shows videos of Jews giving their testimonies about how they came to Christ. I am amazed how many testimonies include Jesus revealing Himself to them in dreams and visions. It sounds a lot like Joel 2:28, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” Could it be that the END is nearing and this prophecy is coming true? Exciting times!

The point I want to make is that God has concealed many truths in His Word, many confirmations about archeology, biology, astronomy, history, and the future, and many facts about ourselves and all of humanity. HE WANTS TO REVEAL THESE TRUTHS, CONFIRMATIONS, AND FACTS TO US. He wants us to be prepared for the future by knowing today how to prepare. By linking ourselves to Jesus on a daily and continuous basis, we will be ready at a moment’s notice to discern the times and to do His will as He reveals it to us.

God has given us His written words so that we can study them. We have His promise that He will speak to us through them: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 1 Timothy 3:16-17. “By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” Psalm 19:11.

Let’s allow God the opportunity to teach us by reading His Word. It’s important to Him and it’s important for us.

Abba, please open my eyes that I may see wonderful and beautiful truths in Your Word (based upon Psalm 119:18). May I understand and obey, O LORD. Teach me today. I am Your disciple. Amen.

Proverbs 24 11-24-19

November 24, 2019

How is your vineyard today? Have you been taking care of it? Though we are saved by grace, there is work to do.

30 I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; 31 thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. 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 will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.

We are smart when we learn from experience; we are wise when we learn from other people’s experience. Let’s take a lesson from the sluggard in this story and consider our spiritual lives as the vineyard. What happened to this man’s spiritual life?

Answer: He didn’t take care of it.

How about us? How well do we maintain our “garden”? Is salvation the only thing there is until we go to heaven? Granted, we are saved by grace and not by works. I ran across this verse in my reading: “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” Romans 3:28. At the same time, we are told to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12b. How so? We work our salvation (that which is already done for us) from the inside out. The Spirit is inside us, so let’s learn to show Him on the outside by becoming transparent. The more we align ourselves with the LORD, the clearer people see Him through us.

What in your life is keeping you from being transparent? Give it to Jesus and allow Him to deal with it. He may take it away; He may shape it a bit differently; He may even transform it into a powerful spiritual tool. It’s all up to Him, but it’s up to you to give it to Him. It’s all part of our spiritual sanctification–our transformation into the image of Christ. It’s how we take care of our garden. In fact, giving Jesus our lives is a daily thing, not unto salvation, but unto transformation.

Want to get the most out of your salvation? Walk with him and talk with Him; learn from Him and worship Him. It’s all about the relationship.

Abba, a lot of times I don’t know what You’re saying to me, but I do know that just being with You is enough in those times. May I continue to sense Your presence as I walk through each day. I know that You speak to my heart and my heart can hear. I look forward to the day when I can hear You plainly. Until then, I will follow You as best I can, mistakes and all. Help me keep my vineyard shipshape, LORD. Amen.

I pray that you will have a grand worship experience in church today.

Proverbs 23 11-23-19

November 23, 2019

Why read His Word daily? To remember who we were before Christ and whose we are after meeting Christ.

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. 18 There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

Let’s look at our salvation experience: Our first indication that something is wrong and needs to be fixed is when we hear that Jesus died for our sins. Two things are created in our hearts. One is the fact that we do not meet God’s standard of holiness. The second is that Christ made a way for us to meet that standard. If we believe that these two things are true, then we are well on our way to being saved.

The next thing we find is that our salvation is much more than simply saying some words and getting fire insurance; it’s giving our entire lives over to God. What do we get out the deal?

  1. We get security. We KNOW that we have eternal life in Jesus Christ. It’s His promise to us.
  2. We get a relationship. For salvation to happen, the Holy Spirit must enter our hearts and do a mighty work. He fills us up, cleans us up, dresses us up with the robe of Christ’s righteousness, gives us the ring and sandals of sonship (girls, too!), and signs adoption papers that can NEVER be rescinded.
  3. We get leadership. The reason for salvation was to put us back into fellowship with the Father. He has plans for us and a job for us to do. He has an entire life of holiness to learn, and a habit of follow-ship to set.

Why are we going over “old ground” again? Because we forget why we were saved and begin to live our lives as if we are not saved, which defeats the purpose of being saved.

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. Romans 3:19-20

God created a perfect world. We had complete fellowship with the Father through Adam and Eve. When they rebelled, we rebelled through them. How do we know that we rebelled through them? It’s simple, really. Let’s look at God’s primer to righteousness and see how we do (Exodus 20: 3-17):

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me. Do we have other gods before God? All the time! Whether it’s pleasure, avarice or indulgence, pride or fear, we all serve at the feet of other gods.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth below or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them… We all have things in our lives that we serve. We were created to serve and we do it well–just to the wrong things!
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God… Again, we all are guilty of using the LORD’s name in ways that it was never intended, if not as a cuss word, then flippantly and without its special association. If we are not addressing Him, then it’s being misused.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. We Gentiles don’t have a clue as to how to keep this verse. We don’t have a reference point.
  5. Honor your father and your mother… Ever disobeyed your parents? Me, too.
  6. You shall not murder. Ever hated anyone and/or want him dead?
  7. You shall not commit adultery. Ever “done it” in your mind?
  8. You shall not steal. Ever taken something without permission?
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor [lie]. Ever lied?
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house…his wife…his stuff. Ever considered how to get something that was someone else’s?

What we have to realize is that sinning doesn’t actually make us sinners; we sin BECAUSE we are sinners. The Ten Commandments simply bear out this fact. “We become conscious of sin.” It’s the next part in the chapter that thrills our souls:

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify [we learn it in His Word]. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

It is through Jesus Christ that we received redemption from our sinful state. He has placed us in His family. He has made His home in us through the Holy Spirit. We are no longer who we were before we met Christ. May we “always be zealous” as we walk with the LORD daily.

Abba, thank You for rescuing me! Thank You for coming to me and inviting me to be Yours. You initiated and I responded. May I continue to trade my life for Your life, my will for Your will, my desires for Your desires, and my strength for Your strength. I look forward to all You have in store for me today. Let’s go! Amen.

Proverbs 22 11-22-19

November 22, 2019

As Christians, are we ready for “hard times”? Do we really lean on Him for life and strength? It’s important to know now.

4 Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.

In the Old Testament, it was all about obedience. Their relationship with the LORD was not nearly what God had in mind. People associated worldly blessings of health, riches and long life with God’s blessing. Little did they know that those things are always a means to an end and that each person’s health, riches and life span are determined by several factors, not the least being God’s plan for each person (also included are a person’s willingness and other people’s decisions).

The New Testament, though, is about God coming to live INSIDE each person. We become little mobile temples where God resides! On the day Jesus died–at the very moment He breathed his last– the veil in the temple was torn in two. From all I’ve read, this veil was 30 feet wide and 30 feet tall and about six inches thick. To tear this veil would have taken modern machinery (or a lot of animals yoked together), Yet it was torn from the top to the bottom. The significance of this event is displayed 52 days later at the Feast of Pentecost:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4

  1. This “place” was probably Solomon’s colonnade, which was an area of steps with columns; each place between the columns was called a “room.” This area was to the side of the court of the Gentiles and led to the marketplace. A strategic place for the Holy Spirit to come upon them, yes?
  2. Look at who all were there (1:13-14): The disciples and other men along with the women who went with Jesus and cared for the group’s needs (Mark 15:41). Mary, Jesus’ mother is mentioned as well as Jesus’ brothers (James and Jude and the others).
  3. They ALL were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in someone’s native language (v.6)–women included! The men went to the men’s court while the women went to the women’s court, both of which would be just past the Gentile court, which would have been filled, too. That is, if they even got out of the Gentile court…!
  4. The correlation has been drawn concerning the tongues of fire with the pillar of fire that was above the Israelites in the wilderness. That cloud by day and pillar of fire by night was the presence of God with the Israelites. ALL of them would have gotten the correlation, especially if it formed above them and then split into little flames that came to rest on each of them: 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

The point I would like to make from this event is THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD WAS IN EACH OF THEM. Salvation is NOT a decision we make with our heads; it’s a response to an invitation to come–or, rather, a request to enter. Without the Holy Spirit making Himself known through conviction, and many times a true presence, there is nothing we can do concerning salvation. With conviction comes our own conviction to give ALL to Christ. If left to our own decision, then we could be saved without giving up everything–and that’s what it takes to be saved.

What would happen if, instead of telling someone all the benefits of being saved, we told them how hard it was going to be, but that it is well worth it to have Jesus in them? Then, instead of asking them to pray a prayer, we instructed them to get alone, to fall on their knees and begin to give God everything as each idol, stronghold, and pet sin came to mind? What if we told them to cry out to God for His mercy until they felt Him come in and save them? Indeed, we would have fewer salvations, but the ones we got would be REAL!!! We would know it and they would know it!

I pray you have had an encounter with the LORD Jesus through His Spirit. I pray that You feel His presence in your life and that He talks to you through prayer, His Word, other Christians, and through circumstances. Our constant use and participation in these areas are true evidence of salvation.

Abba, may we take back the kingdom through bold witnessing and by turning up the fire, so to speak, on how a person gets saved. It has been watered down through the past century to the point that culture has crept into Your church. As our world becomes more and more polarized concerning Christianity, I pray that You will call us out as bold ambassadors for You. I look at what you have done in China and ask for that same boldness. I don’t ask for hard times, Abba, but I am ready for them thanks to You. May Your will be done. Amen.

Proverbs 21 11-21-19

November 21, 2019

Our lives are not our own. We have been bought with a price. He has plans for us! Let’s find out what they are.

31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.

We ready ourselves as best we can, but ultimately it all comes down to the LORD fighting our battles for us. What kind of battles, you might ask. There is the constant war against our own flesh, the war against evil in our world; there are battles at home, work, church, and everywhere we go. Most people don’t know the LORD and are acting according to their own intellect–and many of them are driven by how they feel! Even Christians have this problem.

So, how do we ready ourselves for these battles? We could turn to Ephesians 6 and read about putting on the armor of God, but instead we are going to look at Romans 12 where Paul tells us to consider. Consider what? Our grace gift and the opportunities of faith that God gives us. Let’s read:

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

It takes faith to be saved and it takes faith to follow Jesus. How do we get this faith? It isn’t something that we generate on our own; it is distributed to us by God. But one may say, “If God has to give me faith, then when I fail, it is because God has not given me enough faith.” NOT SO! The faith God gives us begins with a willingness on our part to receive the gift. If we are open to what God has for us, we know that He gives us the desire (above our own) and the power ( above our own) to do His will (Phil. 2:13).

Let’s add a phrase for the sake of clarity: …in accordance with the opportunities of faith God has distributed to each of you.” By adding this phrase, we define faith as the opportunities that God gives us to exercise our trust in Him. In doing so, we grow our faith just as an athlete grows his muscles and skills. Some people are given great opportunities to show great faith where most of us are given opportunities to show God’s love and grace in myriad small ways everyday. To what has God called us? We must be ready for anything.

Previously, Paul gave us the formula for recognizing these opportunities when they come around:

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

  1. The pattern of this world is difficult to determine in that we still must live in the world. But Jesus said, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” John 17:16. We must strike a balance in there somewhere. Each of us must ask the LORD where that balance is. What will show our allegiance to God the most? Go with that!
  2. The renewing of our minds happens when we read the words of God. His Spirit speaks to our spirit interpreting and applying those words. We are in the process of becoming more like Jesus; we MUST allow Him to transform us by READING His words!
  3. “Test and approve what God’s will is” is an interesting phrase. What we think God’s will is and what God’s will really is may be two different things. If we align ourselves with Him through His Spirit, then we will be able to discern His will. Likewise, if we are in alignment with Him, then we approve of His will. A similar way of saying it is, “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
  4. God’s will is always good. He knows His plans for us; they are for good and not for evil (Jer. 29:11). God’s will is always pleasing to Him and, therefore, to us. God’s will is always perfect. It always aligns with His overall plan for the world and eternity. We can trust His good, pleasing and perfect will.

It is only logical, then, based on verse one, to place ourselves into His capable hands. In view of God’s mercy to extend His grace and faith to us, we can in confidence offer ourselves to Him as living sacrifices. He has (and is continuing to make us even more so) holy; we are pleasing to Him because we have accepted His gifts of grace and faith. Through grace we have the desire to follow Him and do His will; through faith we have opportunities and the power to do as Jesus would do–through us! Our lives are our daily worship.

Let’s begin today by transforming our minds with the words of God, and then let’s commit ourselves to Him, following Him, listening to Him, going where He leads and doing what He says. It promises to be a most blessed day!

Abba, may we be transformed today into the image of Christ so that this world will see the difference. Give us opportunities to extend grace to others. Grow our faith through these opportunities. We are trusting You, LORD. Lead us and show us, then imbue us with Your knowledge and power. I’m looking forward to it, Abba! Amen.