Proverbs 18 8-18-21

The in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions. Our God lives inside us!

16 A gift [the gift of our lives to the Lord] opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great [God of heaven and earth, our heavenly Father].

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. They are one in the same.

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19

  1. He strengthens us out of the glorious riches of His power, which is the Spirit who lives in us (our inner being).
  2. Christ dwells in our hearts through faith; what is faith? It is believing Jesus enough to act on what He said.
  3. How much does God love the world? “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” John 3:16. It is in this love that we have our roots and our foundation.
  4. That foundation of love is also where we get our power to overcome our sinful nature. But, we were never intended to do it alone; we are created as part of a whole, the body of Christ, which is made up of other believers.
  5. Delving the depths of Christ’s love for us is an eternal endeavor. It’s even 4-dimensional! In fact, it surpasses human knowledge.
  6. God wants us to be filled to overflowing with the fullness of His love!

What is the product of having so much love in us? We produce fruit, fruit that will last. Here’s the problem: When we don’t endeavor to know Him and His love, we quit producing fruit for the kingdom. Lip service will not cut it; real fruit is displaying the characteristics of God (godly characteristics).

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind [repented] and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.
Matthew 21:28-31

Why were sinners ahead of the religious leaders? Because they depended upon Christ for their salvation and to lead them every day in every way. Religious people don’t really need Jesus; they can be righteous on their own–NOT! Jesus is looking for followers who will follow, who will search for Him in the Scriptures and in other Christians, who will meet with other followers for fellowship and worship, who will depend upon Him for every decision (not just the “big” ones; by that time, it’s too late), and to fear nothing but losing sight of their Savior. Jesus never gets mad at us, He is never disappointed in us, nor does He hold our past over our heads. He loves us just as we are, but too much to leave us as we are. He is the epidemy of patience and gentleness, of kindness and goodness. The biggest verse in the Bible, to me, is Romans 8:1. Here’s what it says,

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

It actually reads,

Therefore, NO CONDEMNATION!!! for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Face it, folks. Our sins are gone. They have been washed away in the blood of Jesus, never to be seen or heard from again. NOW, when we read the Bible, we read for relationship and not just for knowledge. We strive to know Him, not know about Him. Has this type of reading been your experience? Try asking God to reveal Himself to you as you read His Word. Then, read a little, ponder, read a little more, ponder, etc. You will be amazed at what the Spirit will teach you!

Abba, thank You for teaching me this lesson so long ago. It has been my mainstay all these years. I’m just glad You want to know us personally–even intimately! Psalm 139:4 says it all, “Before a word is on my tongue, You know it completely, O Lord.” May I never lose my zeal for Your Word. It is honey to my lips and balm to my soul. Amen.

Proverbs 17 8-17-21

The cleaning agent for our smoked glass is our obedience, and is what aligns us with the Father. We feel His pleasure.

10 A rebuke impresses a discerning person more than a hundred lashes a fool [we want to learn; we want to please].

Most Americans cannot conceive being a slave with no rights whatsoever. Even those whose ancestors were slaves have likely never been a slave or the son of a slave. Yet, we are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. Jesus said,

“Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” John 8:34

We have it on good authority (the Word of God) that every person who ever lived has sinned, which means that all mankind is a slave to sin,

What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin10 As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11     there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless [gone astray];
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.” [Psalms 14:1-3, Isaiah 53:3]

But, those who are in Christ have been set free from the yoke of slavery through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We have been given His righteousness! We have been given a new nature! We have been given His Spirit! Our fellowship with Him should be enough for us to realize that we are free to serve our Lord even as we converse with Him. On top of that, He teaches us how to be righteous and holy. What master does that?! God does!!! Paul exhorts us:

Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. Romans 6:19b

In the vernacular, “Just as you threw yourselves into wickedness and revelry, use that same energy toward righteousness. You will become holy in the process.”

How do we “produce” this energy and zeal? We don’t; the Spirit does.

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

We must connect with Him daily through His Word and constantly throughout the day. Thank You, Jesus for Your Spirit!

When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death. But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit. Romans 7:5-6 NLT

Walk with Him today. Hear what He says. Do what He says and go where He directs. I promise you that the reward of His presence and participation in your life is worth far more than anything else you’re doing today! In fact, here are three analogies for trying to explain this process:

  1. An air duct: When our vent is open, He fills our rooms with the fragrance and aroma of Christ;
  2. A conduit: When our valve is turned wide open, He floods us with living water;
  3. A smoked glass: As we obey the Spirit, our glass becomes a little clearer. We see Christ a little better, and recognize what righteousness is, along with holiness. In the process, we realize the amenities of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc.) far outweigh anything in this world.

Let’s be happy slaves to Jesus!*

Abba, may we open our lives to You in all ways so that Your Spirit can flow through us in the form of love, joy and peace. As we revel in these feelings, may we be obedient as You teach us to be patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and to always use self-control. May Your righteousness and truth be our foundation. Teach us and grow us, Abba. Amen.

*Exodus 21:5-6 Pierce My Ear

Proverbs 16 8-16-21

Sometimes we have to let things (and people) go until they stop on their own before we can get them to change directions.

1 To mankind belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue [the best plan for our lives].

In the case of sin, God gave the law so that mankind could know what “missing the mark” looked like. Before the law, we didn’t even know there was a target to hit! With the law, we learned that there is a right way and many wrong ways to do things. Twelve o’clock is only twelve o’clock when both hands are pointing straight up. If they are pointing any other direction, then it’s not twelve o’clock. It’s the same with righteousness. If it’s not absolute righteousness, then it’s not righteousness at all. I believe that this concept is what Paul was getting at in Romans 7:7-13,

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet [as a point of illustration; he could have used any of the ten commandments].” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting [this is what our sin nature does]. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good [it did not kill me; sin did].
13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

When we are born, each of us has a seed, the potential to sin. Because we have no Spirit, our spirit is a vacuum, much like the number zero; it holds a place, but has no value of its own. When we become conscious of the law–right and wrong–we are presented with a choice to accept the law and do what is right, or to reject the law and do what is wrong. The problem is that we have no Holy Spirit to lead us and empower us, so we turn to another power: Satan. Our sinful nature (having no Holy Spirit and having Adam’s propensity to rebel) points us in his direction and we run to sin. In our rebellion, we die.

But, because we are now dead, Christ can raise us up again! Thus, because we have died, when we are brought back, we can now marry another, who is Jesus Christ. We become His bride, or rather, part of His Bride, which is the Church. Sin became utterly sinful in us so that we could recognize our lostness and our need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. Are we done with sin? Not yet, but we will be soon! In the meantime, Romans 8:1-2 says,

Therefore, there is now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Our position in Christ is sealed and can never be broken. What we work on is our relationship with Christ. Let’s spend some time getting to know Him in the Scriptures. It’s important.

Trust Jesus
Read the Bible

Abba, as we begin the new work week, it is now the middle of the month and beginning its downhill slope to the next month. May we use this date to remind us that time is short. Teach us to number our days, Abba, and make every one count for You. Use us up, Lord. I am happiest when I am in the middle of Your will. Amen.

Proverbs 15 8-15-21

“See if there is any offensive way in me” may be the best way for us to begin our day with the Lord. Try it!

5 A fool spurns a parent’s [the heavenly Father’s] discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.

The beginning phrase was written by King David at a time when he was close to God, reading and following the law (it was a king’s duty to read the law every day; he even had his own copy of it. See Deuteronomy 17:18*), and worshiping daily (actually, twice daily: the morning and evening sacrifices. See Exodus 29:38-39 and Numbers 28:3-4). The word, “offensive,” is not about wickedness (having no regard for God); it’s about what is left in our hearts once we have cleaned it out of everything we think ought to go. His love and presence, His mercy and grace, and His righteousness have filled us, covered us, and cleansed us. Yet, our natural tendencies are still there. Jesus wants everything–even what we consider the little things and the sentimental things.

So, every morning, we trade our lives for His life. We can do this trade very specifically:

  • My will for Your will;
  • My ways for Your ways;
  • My thoughts for Your thoughts;
  • My speech for Your speech;
  • My anger for Your grace and gentleness and mercy;
  • My self-righteousness for Your righteousness and holiness;
  • My controlling spirit for Your guiding Spirit;
  • My lustful thoughts for Your gracious thoughts;
  • My _____________________ for Your ________________________ (you can fill in the blanks).

These are the “offensive ways” that we need to give to God. He needs to become our sole sufficiency. We need to be clothed with Him and filled with Him. His Spirit is asking to lead the way in our lives. It is this devotion that attracts the people around us to the Christ in us: our spouse, our family, friends, coworkers, and more.

Let’s look at the entire passage from Psalm 139:

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.

I have a note on one of my notecards that says something like, “and once You have helped me identify an offensive way, help me eliminate it by leading me in the way everlasting.” The promise is found in Matthew 11:28-30,

28 Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens.” Living Bible

Why? Because He loves us so very much. My mom had a little crocheted picture of Jesus looking down His arm at me as He hung on the cross. The message under it read, “I asked Jesus how much He loved me. He said, ‘I love you this much…’ and he stretched out His arms–and died.” He died for us; can’t we live for Him? (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

Abba, thank You for loving me. Thank You for being so patient with me. Thank You for helping me with the offensive ways in my life. I want to be just like You, Jesus. I know I will be when I get to Glory; in the meantime, give me patience with myself as I strive to live righteously. Today, I worship with my brothers and sisters. Inhabit the praises of Your people, O Lord. Amen.

*18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel. Deuteronomy 17:18

Proverbs 14 8-14-21

Where is your righteousness? Is it evident? Is it hidden? Is it there at all? It is a gift from God that comes through grace.

4 Where there are no oxen [in this case, the Spirit], the manger [our heart] is empty, but from the strength of an ox [the Spirit] come abundant harvests.

Righteousness is the gift of God that comes through His grace. In other words, there’s no way to earn righteousness; it must be given.

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Romans 5:17

So, who gives it? God gives it in the Person of Jesus Christ, “God made him who had no sin to be the sin sacrifice for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. In order to have righteousness, we must have Christ. Again, in order to receive righteousness, we must receive Christ into our hearts and lives.

Tell me, when someone comes to stay at your house–at your invitation–do you just ignore him, never talk to him, and pretend he’s not there? Of course not! In the same way, if Christ is in your heart and life, you will know it because He talks to you and you talk to Him. His way of talking is a little different, so we must learn to discern what He is saying. Still, He gets His point across to us.

This righteousness is something we work on a little at a time. We have it, but we don’t really know how to handle it. Jesus breaks us in quickly in our relationship with Him, but slowly when it comes to transforming our lives. There may be some things that change immediately while others take the rest of our lives to change. Jesus may start with an attitude or small routine, and then move up to ways of thinking and our way of talking (usually, the language, but also critical speech, gossip, slander, giving our opinions, etc.). He may then jump to our habits and idiosyncrasies, all the while teaching about who we are as children of God.

Here’s a great verse by which to live everyday:

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

What does righteousness look like on a daily basis? LOVE! His love, “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:5, 8

What is our responsibility?

So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. 12 Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. 13 Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Romans 6:11-14

Key phrases:

  1. Dead to the power of sin and alive to God;
  2. Do not let sin control the way you live;
  3. Give yourselves completely to God;
  4. You have New Life;
  5. Do what is right for the glory of God;
  6. You live under the freedom of God’s grace.

Let’s let our righteousness shine as we figure out-with the Holy Spirit’s guidance-how to use this righteousness that we have been given.

Abba, thank You for the gift of righteousness in which I am clothed (Isaiah 61:10). May I learn how to display Your righteousness to all around so that they may give You glory, just like a city on a hill. To You be the glory, O Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 13 8-13-21

You got saved; now what? To trust in Christ is to be born again, but what does life in Christ mean? Let’s look.

14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.

Being saved is all about saving us from an eternity separated from God in hell, and from the pitfalls and hidden snares of this world. The wise will read what God has told the apostle Paul to write and take it to heart. We begin in Romans 6:1-4 with what happens to us spiritually when we are born again (see John 3:3).

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism [a symbolic act representing what happened to us spiritually]. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives [because of His Spirit now living inside us].

Jesus gives us His Spirit so that we can communicate with Him continuously. He lets us know what is good for us, what is bad for us, what to do to help others, and what to leave to other followers. He literally directs our lives! His desires become our desires as we “delight ourselves in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4). We have His promise that He will give us the desires of our hearts. We want what He wants, which is:

  1. The best for us, which may or may not be in this world. We must get used to the idea of thinking eternally rather than just temporally (in this life).
  2. Our obedience- It’s how He keeps us “safe” in this world. There’s no safer place to be than in the center of God’s will.
  3. Our holiness- God will be changing us from sinful critters to holy children of God. He wants to transform us (2 Corinthians 3:18) and conform us (Romans 8:29) into the image of His Son, which is the exact human representation of Himself (Hebrews 1:3). We are commanded to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16); we do that through obedience to His Spirit.
  4. For all to be saved, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.

If you’re having trouble generating the motivation to work at being like Christ, then spend more time with Him in prayer and Bible study. Pray that “the eyes of your heart would be enlightened in order that you may:

  1. Know the hope to which he has called you,
  2. The riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people,
  3. and His incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18-19).

The question is, “If a person is not interested in spending time with Jesus, then why did he get saved?” It’s all we will do in heaven–of course, it’s also far, far greater than we could ever think or imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9). And, because we have His Spirit in us, that eternity is going on right now! He has already begun lavishing us with His love (1 John 3:1). Also, we know that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:39). I’m grateful! How about you?

Abba, I truly am grateful that You live in my heart and have promised that I will never be separated from You. Thank You for not waiting until I die to begin lavishing me with all You have for me, beginning with Your love. Thank You for such a great hope that we have in You: the riches of Your glorious inheritance! I have come to understand that the inheritance is the people of God, my new family. I am also very thankful that the same power You used to raise Christ from the dead has been used on me to give me life in You. I know that I will never truly die, but I will exchange this mortal body for an immortal body, one You have waiting for me. I look forward to it. Amen.

Proverbs 12 8-12-21

When turning a conversation to the Gospel, we may do well to begin, “When I met Jesus, I was…” and identify with the sinner.

3 No one can be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted [we don’t have to worry about our reputation; we belong to the Lord].

It is scandalous what people are doing out there. It’s downright sinful. One would think that the world is made up of sinners…! As you read these verses, notice that Paul is talking to church members:

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

  1. What does it mean to inherit the kingdom of God? It is the Holy Spirit who makes us heirs of God and co-heirs with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17). Those with the Spirit (see verse 15) will inherit the kingdom of God; those who do not have the Spirit will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 John 5:12).
  2. Is this a complete list of sins? Of course not. Not even close. But, it hit four of the 10 Commandments: #7 Thou shalt not commit adultery (adulterers), #2 Thou shalt not worship hand-made images (idolaters), #8 Thou shalt not steal (thieves), #9 Thou shalt not bear false witness (slanderers and swindlers). The key is in the next line:
  3. And that is what some of you were. Paul pulled the punch a little here. In Romans 2:1, he let them have it, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” In Titus 3:3, Paul even includes himself, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
  4. He goes on to say, “he [God] saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,” which goes along very well with verse 11 of 1 Corinthians 6.

If we could get our minds around the fact that our sins are separated from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), we would be desperate to tell others how to have their sins dealt with like ours! So, when we come across a subject which we know too much about, we might try using it as the springboard into a Gospel conversation. It takes being a bit transparent and even vulnerable, but like I said, we’re desperate. People need to know that we were sinners, too (still are). Anything else is either pride or fear–or a little of both!

Abba, give us the courage to be transparent and vulnerable when it comes to sharing the Gospel. I know we don’t have to share every detail, but just letting someone know that we are human (sinners) puts us all on the same playing field. All of a sudden, the Gospel is accessible and Jesus is reachable. Move mightily in us and then move mightily in them, Lord. Amen.

Proverbs 11

Being reconciled to God is not our doing, but His doing. Still, He awaits our reply. Such is a God of love.

4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but [Christ’s] righteousness delivers from death.

As I was reading Romans 5 yesterday morning, I ran across this verse,

11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have now received reconciliation.

I was curious to know the meaning of the word, “reconciliation,” which we have received, so I looked it up at Dictionary.com. What I found was a progression! It said, using the verb tense of “reconcile,”

  1. to cause (a person) to accept or be resigned to something not desired: He was reconciled to his fate.
    • We come to realize that there is nothing good in us; we are separated from God with no way to be reunited with Him through anything we can do. We need a Savior.
  2. to win over to friendliness; cause to become amicable: to reconcile hostile persons.
    • In and of ourselves, we do not want to be reconciled to God; we want our own way. Were it not for the wooing of the Spirit, we would never seek God. He reconciled us to Himself!
  3. to compose or settle (a quarrel, dispute, etc.).
    • Jesus settled the dispute of our sin on the cross. He paid our debt so that we could have access to God. Don’t forget that Jesus IS God!
  4. to bring into agreement or harmony; make compatible or consistent: to reconcile differing statements; to reconcile accounts.
    • God settled the books and reckons our debt as paid in full (Psalm 22:31).
  5. to reconsecrate (a desecrated church, cemetery, etc.).
    • We are reinstated as His children with full rights and privileges of children of the King.
  6. to restore (an excommunicate or penitent [person]) to communion in a church.
    • We now have full communion with God the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit.
  7. to become reconciled.
    • We are now in an eternal state of reconciliation; it can never be changed or revoked.

Reconciliation is our position in Christ. It is what Baptists call, “the security of the believer.” Calvinists call it, “the perseverance of the saints.” Whatever happens to our relationship with the Father while here on earth, nothing and no one can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39).

It’s amazing what a little research can find!

Abba, may we revel in our reconciliation to You. Thank You for going to all that trouble for us; may we appreciate all that You have done for us and live to serve You out of thankful, grateful hearts. Amen.

Proverbs 10 8-10-21

The certainty of our salvation is wrapped up in our daily walk with Jesus. Want to know you’re saved? Walk with Jesus.

17 Whoever heeds discipline [stays close to the Master] shows the way to life [to others], but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once said, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” The apostle Peter said it like this,

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8

Joy is one of the three fruits that is bestowed upon us by the presence of Jesus in our lives. The other two are love and peace. When we acknowledge Him as being in our lives and in control of our lives, His love, JOY and peace flow from Him to and through us. How do we acknowledge the Lord?

  1. Believing- the entrusting of our lives to Him; the only way to foster such belief and trust is to know Him. How do we know God? By reading the letter He sent us: The Bible! For the younger generation, consider it a long text message. The point is that He thought enough of us to write down everything (at least, some of everything) so that we wouldn’t have to guess or take another person’s word for what He said. The only Person we trust is Jesus because Jesus’ words were/are founded in the Scriptures (Old Testament). The first Covenant corroborates Jesus’ claim as the Son of God, the Messiah.
  2. Experiencing- when we are saved, we entrust our lives to Him; by doing so, we experience Him that first time as we feel His love, JOY, and peace flowing from Him to and through us. It’s amazing! It truly is inexpressible and glorious. What often happens is that a new Christian does not sustain His relationship with Christ through Scripture reading, prayer, and Christian fellowship, and loses the feeling. Then, in a moment of conviction, turns around and faces Christ again, and, entrusting his life once again to Christ, feels that he has been born again because it feels like that first time–sometimes even stronger. Only the person knows for sure if it was a true salvation experience or simply a returning to our first love (see Revelation 2:4-5). Sometimes, Christ calls us to a higher, closer walk with Him. That, too, can be mistaken as a salvation experience. How can we tell the difference? The presence of the Holy Spirit and a changed life. Again, only the person can answer that question.
  3. The end result- This salvation is the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He is the Spirit of Jesus Christ! Being with Him is being in heaven; the difference in how we perceive Him is the container in which we live. Now, we live in perishable, natural and weak bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-44), and we see only a reflection (dimly) as in a mirror (1 Corinthians 13:12a) and only in part. Upon death, we will put on the imperishable and the immortal (1 Corinthians 15:53-54), and we will see Him face to face. We will know Him fully, even as we are fully known by Him (1 Corinthians 13:12b).

How do we know that we are receiving the salvation of our souls? We feel His presence as love, JOY and peace that pervades our souls! And how do we make that happen?

By trusting Jesus and reading the Bible.

Bigger than our schedules, higher than our life goals, greater than our own plans, He is our One Desire. King David said,

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.

Psalm 27:4

Since we are His temple, all we have to do is access Him by turning around mentally and “facing” Him in our minds, by talking to Him and listening for His still, small voice, and by reading His Word and recognizing the impressions and urgings of the Holy Spirit as He helps us think like Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). If we take our Christianity and our decision to follow Christ seriously, we will follow this procedure every day until the day we die.

Abba, I reconfirm my commitment to follow You. Every morning, I trade my will for Your will, my thoughts for Your thoughts (as I read Your Word), my desires for Your desires, and my life for Your life. Use me as You see fit; I am hooked on Your JOY, Lord! Fill me up so that I overflow to others!!! Amen.

Proverbs 9 8-9-21

“Christians are deluded.” I’ve heard it before. In their eyes, we are just deceiving ourselves. In that case…

4 To those who have no sense she [wisdom] says, “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. 6 Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.”

8 Do not rebuke mockers [those who make fun or get angry at you because of what you believe] or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.

12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.

18 But little do they know that the dead are there [that death awaits], that her guests are [go] deep in the realm of the dead.

Someone who makes such a statement has not thought through his argument. These are the questions I would like to ask:

  • So, in my delusion, I strive to become like a dead man and live as He taught?
  • I get together with other deluded people for fellowship and to worship a dead man?
  • I would give my life in service for this dead man and His promises?
  • What about all the Olympic athletes who give glory to God: are they all part of a collective delusion? Let’s look at five.
  1. Allyson Felix
  2. Sydney McLaughlin
  3. Tamyra Mensah
  4. Keni Harrison
  5. Tatjana Schoenmaker

And these are just a sample of the testimonies!

  • Where are all the other symptoms of delusion, such as antisocial behavior, hallucinations, and persecutory paranoia?
  • And the best question: Why would I love you and want the best for your life?

When it all boils away, what we have left is a person who needs Jesus. We, as Christians, are to display Jesus. We don’t judge, condemn, point out sins and faults, shun, or hold contempt for people who don’t have Jesus. Instead, we are to be Christ to them even when they don’t want us to. So we get harassed; so we get beat up; so they kill us. Let’s not forget the apostle Paul’s words:

24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:20-21

May we all have that kind of faith.

Abba, being ridiculed hurts, but it’s even more frustrating that I can’t get through to them. I want them to experience You as I have and to feel the love, the joy, the peace; I want them to know You as I know You–even better! They are missing so much even as they turn away from so great a salvation. Move in their hearts, O God. Call them to Yourself, and may they answer, “Yes, Lord, Yes!” Amen.

Proverbs 8 8-8-21

Guidelines for reading Proverbs 8. Sometimes we need a little perspective.

9 To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge [of the holy One-9:10].

When I read chapter 8, there are two things I keep in mind:

  1. Jesus is “wisdom from God” – 1 Corinthians 1:30, “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
  2. Jesus is the Word – John 1:1, 14, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The conclusion I reach is that Jesus is the wisdom that is speaking in this chapter. As I read it, the meanings of the verses take on a whole new dimension and application when I consider that Christ is speaking to me through them. For instance:

  • v. 10 “Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold.” Christ’s instruction would be the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life. Knowledge of Him would be getting to know the Spirit within me. Both are better than anything this world can offer.
  • v. 17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” By loving Christ, I have the privilege of being loved by Him. In John, I find out that to be loved by the Son is to be loved by the Father (John 14:21). I also have the promise that if I seek Him, then I will find Him. “My heart [His Spirit] says to me, ‘Seek HIs face.’ Your face, O LORD, will I seek.” Psalm 27:8.
  • When we read verses 22-29, the meaning of the terms, “brought forth” and “given birth,” can be better translated as, “appointed” and “anointed” as in a ceremony. He was “established” and “poured out,” “chosen” and “presented.” Jesus was not created, but appointed to be God’s emissary to earth for our sakes.
  • v. 30 I love the phrase, “I was constantly at His side” as “I was the craftsman at His side.” We have confirmation of this interpretation in John 1:2-3, 1 Corinthians 8:6, Colossians 1:15-17, Hebrews 1:2-3, and Revelation 22:13.
  • v. 36 reminds me of John 3:18, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

The last thing I want to point out is that as we read this chapter, we need to have open hearts and open minds to Him. He wants to clarify that He really does run the universe and is qualified to run our lives. At the same time, He wants our cooperation–more than that, He wants our trust. Neither does He want to do it alone; He wants our companionship. Let’s give it to Him!

Abba, May You continue to speak to us through Your Word. Thank You for making it available to us for over 3,000 years! That, in itself, is a miracle that cannot be explained!!! May we never take it for granted, but read it faithfully, listening for Your voice in the words, and hearing that whisper of Your love as we turn the pages. Amen.

Proverbs 7 8-7-21

If you could boil down your Christian beliefs to its base components, what would they be? Mine are below.

4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and to insight, “You are my relative.”

Today, I have the honor and privilege to give a small, inspiring speech to a beautiful graduate. She has been home-schooled and didn’t get a graduation ceremony, so her mom and dad are having one for her. As I consider what to say, I think I’ll start at my beginning:

When I trusted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I believed what He told me about His Word, “Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth.” John 17:17. I believed that His Word is the truth, therefore I could read it and know that through it I was being sanctified. I didn’t know what “sanctified” meant at the time, but I do now. The dictionary definition is, “To be made holy.” My own definition is, “To be like Jesus, which is holy.” So, if I read my Bible regularly and do what it says, then I will become like Jesus.

So, Elyanne, I want to inspire you to do what I did. I boiled my Christian beliefs down to these two components:

  1. Trust Jesus.
  2. Read the Bible.

If you will do these two things over and over again each day, then you will become just like Jesus. From here, I would like to inspire you to something else: Take it to a higher level and become a Bible scholar. Robin is in the middle of a study on Galatians written by Beth Moore and her daughter, Melissa. Beth is a Bible scholar in her own right, but Melissa takes it to another level. Melissa:

  • holds an M.A. in Biblical Exegesis (Wheaton Collage Graduate School, 2007),
  • a Th.M. (Theology Masters) in Biblical Studies (Columbia Theological Seminary, 2010)
  • and an M.A. in Biblical Languages (Houston Baptist University, 2016).
  • See “Now That Faith Has Come,” A Study of Galatians.

She has such a passion for God’s Word that she has learned to read it in Hebrew and Greek. She may even be able to read it in Aramaic and Latin!

You don’t have to be just like Melissa, but I want you to realize that you can be whatever God puts in your heart. Don’t limit yourself; stay open to what the Lord is telling you and where the Spirit is leading you. One more thing, many times, we must follow Him over the hill to find the road that He is really leading us to take. Don’t be afraid to change and adjust. Rarely does He take us straight to the goal; there are people to meet, folks to which to minister, and all kinds of things to learn along the way.

That’s good advice for all of us, don’t you think?

Abba, bless Elyanne today as we celebrate this benchmark in her life. May she trust You and read her Bible faithfully, even as she has since she was saved. May we all turn up the heat on both in our lives, as well. Thank You, Abba, for Elyanne. Amen.

Proverbs 6 8-6-21

“Why do I need Jesus?” There is grave danger for those who do not consider this question sometime in their lives.

10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest–11 and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man [spiritual poverty and eternal separation await those who put off making Jesus Lord].

I stumped myself the other day. I wrote down, “Why do I need Jesus?” and I didn’t know where to begin. What would I say to someone who asked me that question?

I could tell him about the wonderful relationship that he can have with the God of the universe who wants to have a personal relationship with him! I could explain that God loves us so much that He came as Jesus to die in our place, but then I would need to explain sin, propitiation, and surrender:

  1. Sin-that which separates us from having a relationship with the Father. It is our rebellion, but it’s more than that. It’s what we become when we don’t have the Holy Spirit in us. It’s evil, aberrant behavior, selfishness, rage, hatred, malice, and so much more. We are addicted to it and cannot be free of it even if we wanted to, which we don’t (without His help).
  2. Propitiation-the substitution of one thing for another; in this case, Jesus’ death for our death. He took the weight and penalty of our sin upon Himself and then died, thus taking that sin to the grave. We no longer can be held accountable for our sin–unless we refuse to receive that pardon from Jesus. He bought our life and He asks us for our life. If we give it to Him, then He gives us His Spirit, which is actually Jesus in Spirit form. If we refuse, then we do NOT receive the Spirit and we will go into eternity unprepared. It will be like leaving the space station without wearing a space suit.
  3. Surrender– the giving of our lives to him in total and complete submission. We count ourselves dead to sin and our selfishness and alive to His Spirit. We respond to His moving in our minds and hearts so that we no longer follow our feelings, our heart (so to speak), our habits, or any person other than Christ.

I think what I would start with is this: We all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts that only God can fill. It’s not an original concept; in fact, it’s centuries old,

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
– Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII(425) 1670 AD

Until he comes to terms with the fact that he has this God-shaped hole, there is no reason to press the matter. I will answer any questions he has about faith, my testimony, and the Bible concerning salvation (I won’t argue Creation vs. Evolution, Eschatology, or anything else that does not lead directly to the Gospel), but I am waiting on him to confess his need for God to fill that void. Conviction comes through a person hearing the Gospel and the Holy Spirit calling to his attention his need for God. It’s up to him to decide; God will not force him. At the same time, I perceive that the Lord is working in his life, therefore I pray and strive until that decision is made.

All I said up front is true, and I hope to be able to share my own story with him about Jesus rescuing me and coming to live in my life, about how my life is full and complete because of Christ in me, and how I sense His love and His genuine enjoyment of my presence and my company. I want him to know Christ as I know Christ. This is why I am constantly ready to give an account for the hope I have in Christ, and doing it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15), out of true love for people as potential brothers and sisters in Christ.

Have you worked out what you would say? Maybe it’s time to write some things down and have them handy.

Abba, may You urge us to do just that and to be ready at a moment’s notice to explain what Christianity is and what it’s about, and to testify about what it means to us. Sharing our story of what Jesus did for us and means to us should be one of the most thrilling moments of our lives! Give us power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). We are Your servants. Amen.

Proverbs 5 8-5-21

Choosing Christ over everything in this world takes faith. We must learn to trust Jesus. How? By studying His Word and His ways.

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

If the entire point of our salvation was for us to be able to enjoy a wonderful, personal relationship with our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection and the consequent infilling of the Holy Spirit, then our acknowledgement of Him in our lives must be our first priority. Most people do not associate reading God’s Word with spending time with Him, but it is. He lives in the words; they are living and active (Hebrews 4:12). Just as “the prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21), He speaks to us through the writers of His Word.

Spending time with Jesus is how we are changed, transformed, remade, fixed, tweaked and tuned to be godly. We are being made into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). We had been living as slaves until the day Christ saved us. From that point on, He has been working on us and in us to get us through enemy territory to His kingdom even as He grows His kingdom in us. He has been preparing us for it by teaching us who we are and what to expect. His Spirit within us gives us the desire to overcome our own selfish desires and the power to overcome temptation. We are being made into the image of God as we were intended to be from the beginning.

It’s our choice. It’s always been our choice, but once we make the choice, we move our wills out of the way and allow Him to work in and through us. It’s quite a privilege! What we forget is that just being with Him changes us. Although programs and studies are good, we need time with the Father in order to absorb His goodness and His love. In order to radiate, we must saturate. Engaging the Father in conversation and submitting ourselves to Him faces us toward Him and makes us ready to receive all of His goodness, love, joy, peace, mercy, and grace.

Let’s try an experiment: When you think about God, give all you know of yourself to all you know of Him right then. Submit yourself to Him that very minute. Then, go on about your day. The next time you think about God, do it again right then. Then again. and again. I think what you will find is that it will become a habit, a routine, even second nature to live in His presence. His presence means His participation, as well. We need not worry about protection when we are walking with the Father. What’s the worst they can do, kill the body? Here’s what Jesus said about that:

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. Luke 12:4

He also says, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24

Dying to self and living for God through Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit is our new directive (Romans 6:11).

Abba, may You challenge us to seek Your face routinely, to get to know You, and to become like You. We can only do that when we strive to acknowledge You in our everyday lives. Make Yourself known to us even as You told us You would, “Turn to Me, and I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings and My thoughts” Proverbs 1:23. I can’t think of anything I want more than for You to do just that! Let’s start right now, shall we? Thank You, Abba! Amen.

Proverbs 4 8-4-21

At the end of the day, all we have is Jesus. Beyond everything in this world, we have Him and His kingdom. He is worth everything!

10 Listen, my child, accept what I say, and the [good] years of your life will be many. 11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. 12 When you walk [headed to His kingdom], your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble [see Isaiah 40:30-31].

Drug users know this secret: What we crave becomes our sole desire. A crack user (according to a regular crack user) experiences his biggest high the first time. From then on, he “chases the dragon” seeking a high like the first one. That craving consumes him even beyond his own personal health, to say nothing of family, friends, job, hygiene, etc.

The same is what happens when we experience Christ. The difference is that the more we experience Him, the greater the love, the joy, and the peace that He gives. It truly is never-ending! James, the half-brother of Jesus, eluded to this experience in his letter:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 NLT

As I read this passage, I see James enduring troubles (eventually, he was martyred). During these troubles, as his faith was tested, he leaned on Jesus for peace and joy. He was rewarded with exceeding love, joy and peace. Thus, his endurance grew as James leaned all the more on Jesus during troubles. It is this kind of training that makes us perfect and complete, needing nothing of this world.

When we face trials of many kinds,
we will know that we have “arrived”

when those trials make us want Jesus.

It’s not that we will go looking for trouble, but we certainly will not run from it, for we know that in our adversity, as we lean on Jesus for peace and joy, He will give it in abundance. In fact, Jesus promised that we would receive life in abundance even as our physical life is being taken from us, “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness” (LB). He told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die [spiritually]. Do you believe this?” Of course, Martha said, “Yes, Lord” (John 11:25-27).

EMT, firefighters, police, military, and other emergency personnel train for emergencies constantly so that when one comes, their training kicks in and they respond out of reflex instead of irrational reaction. We should view our Christianity the same way. We need to learn all we can about God, His Son, His Spirit, His mission, and what His “emergency protocols” are so that when one comes, we are not “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6). It’s called, WISDOM, folks (James 1:5). Let’s train like our (spiritual) lives depend on it–because they do!

Because, at the end of the day, all we have is Jesus.

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power [and presence] of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Abba, may I come to know You more and more so that when the day comes that I give testimony about You at the cost of my life, I will do it with confidence and even excitement as Your Spirit envelops me with Your peace and Your love and Your joy. I look forward to the day, Abba. Amen.

Proverbs 3 8-3-21

Walking with the Lord requires trust. We trusted Him for salvation; why wouldn’t we trust Him in our daily walk?

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
    preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
    an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
    and your foot will not stumble.

Galatians 5:25 makes an assumption and then gives a directive. The assumption is actually found in verse 24, so let’s read both together:

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

The assumption is that we belong to Christ Jesus and have crucified our flesh with its passions and desires. A comparative verse is Romans 13:14, which says, “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” If Jesus is Lord of our lives, this is exactly how we conduct our lives every day.

The directive is that since we live our lives according to the Spirit’s leading, we are to keep in step with Him. When running track, we would call keeping in step our pace; since I am a music guy, I call it tempo. If we match the TEMPO of our lives to Jesus, life will be so much more satisfying:

T- Time spent with Him in prayer and Bible study;

E- Energy spent seeking Him and serving Him;

M- Motivation fueled by the Holy Spirit;

P- Patient endurance, working to be like God every day (it makes us godly);

O- Objective overview; we step back and get God’s view on things (wisdom), then we keep His objectives first in our lives.

The next time you listen to a song, notice that you are keeping pace with the tempo of the song. Let it remind you that we are to keep in TEMPO with the Holy Spirit day by day, step by step.

Abba, I pray that You will help us establish a pace, one that is in step with You. May we be diligent in our TEMPO as we learn more about You in Your Word even as You teach us through what we are studying. You lead; we will follow. Amen.

Proverbs 2 8-2-21

Knowing what we believe is important. We must have a tangible guideline and goal in order to grow in the right direction.

10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

Bryan, my pastor, used a phrase yesterday in his sermon that caught my attention. He said that we are “blood-bought, Spirit-filled, with a God-initiated desire to please and serve the Lord.” Let’s look at each of these characteristics of a Christian.

1. Blood-bought: We are talking about those who have appropriated forgiveness through the blood of Christ. His sacrifice on the cross bought our freedom from sin. Now, we willingly give up that freedom to be bond-slaves to the heavenly Father. the apostle Paul said that he was a bond-slave to Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1). what is a bond-slave? Let’s look in Deuteronomy and see.

12 “If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. 16 But if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he is well-off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl, and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your [bond] slave forever. And to your female [bond] slave you shall do the sameDeuteronomy 15:12, 16-17

Being blood-bought means that we have been purchased, “You are not your own; you were bought with a price” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. We belong to Jesus by our own choice. Glad wrote a beautiful song called, “Pierce My Ear.”

2. Spirit-filled: Since the birth of the church, Christians have the distinctive trait of being filled with the Holy Spirit of Christ (Acts 2:4). The Holy Spirit lives in us (2 Timothy 1:14). Because we have the Spirit of Jesus Christ living in us, we have access to the throne of our heavenly Father all the time (Ephesians 3:11-12, Hebrews 4:16). We must remember that “whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17).

3. God-initiated: God initiates the desire to please Him. When we were dead in our sins, His Spirit spoke to us through the message of the Gospel and we awoke. Those who answered the call of the Spirit to receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ were given His Spirit. It is the Spirit of God who lives in us that gives us first the desire and then the power to do His will (Philippians 2:13). Those who are Christ’s desire to please Him. It’s really that simple.

Here is our mantra:

We are blood-bought, Spirit-filled,
with a God-initiated desire to please
our Lord Jesus Christ in all things.

Let’s live out our mantra today.

Abba, easy to say–hard to do, unless we are depending solely upon the Holy Spirit. Our own strength will fail every time, but the Spirit never fails. Jesus lived by the Spirit and He never failed in righteousness and holiness. I want to live by the Spirit, too. Help me, Father, to learn all I can about Your Spirit and His workings in my life so that I can trust Him completely all the time. Amen.

Proverbs 1 8-1-21

WARNING: Training has a built-in timer. The more delays there are in training, the longer it takes to absorb and learn the material.

5 Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance–

Sundays are designed to train and be trained. As a minister for the past 36 years, I can vouch for the system. Some strategies work better than others, but they all are designed to give us the opportunity to train disciples and for disciples to get training. The more sporadic we are in our attendance, the longer it takes to absorb and learn the material. It’s the same for any topic. Training requires redundancy in order to build in second-nature reactions. Whether it’s carpentry, Excel, Karate, or a musical instrument, the longer between “practice” sessions, the longer we extend the training–and perform poorly.

On a typical Sunday morning, a person can expect these things:

  1. Smiling faces to greet him at the door or in the classroom;
  2. Information from the Bible about God and His interaction with humankind;
  3. Corporate worship where we speak the Word, sing the Word, pray the Word, and hear the Word proclaimed;
  4. To be asked to commit his life this week to His will and His way;
  5. To encourage and be encouraged by fellow believers.

My question is, “Who wouldn’t want this on a weekly basis? Why would we let anything (except emergencies) get in the way?”

Sunday evenings are yet another opportunity for us to train and be trained. In fact, training IS the topic. In order to grow, we must be F.A.T.

F = Faithful; are we really interested in growing as Christians?

A = Available; if so, then we will be available at the times that are scheduled for us to attend and train.

T = Trainable; a person must be willing to put himself under the tutelage of a mentor. Attitudes must be checked at the door.

One more thing: In order to know God, we need to learn His Word. Read it; study it; memorize it; quote it; teach it; share it; KNOW it. How do I know this? Because the WORD tells me so:

12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

1All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

29 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces? Jeremiah 23:29

Let’s quit messing around and start acting like Jesus followers. Let’s train and be trained in order to disciple the world! Let’s start with the “world” around us.

Abba, it’s time for us to quit serving ourselves. We as Your people have indulged ourselves too much and too long in the culture. We need to cut out the fat and start being F.A.T. When I stand before You each evening, I don’t want to have to make excuses for my lack of training, especially when it comes to Sundays. They used to be special days that were set aside for training. May they be that way again by the true people of God. Make it so, Lord, please, make it so. Amen.

Proverbs 31 7-31-21

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two more things:

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

I happen to have one who is all of these.

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

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

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

Proverbs 30 7-30-31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 29 7-29-21

Loving our enemy is more difficult than it seems. Our sense of justice gets in the way. Jesus says to leave justice to Him.

29 The righteous detest the dishonest; the wicked detest the upright.

A friend asked me what a favorite verse is out of chapter 29. This is it (along with verse 1…and several others). We understand why the wicked would detest the upright: Our righteousness is light, and those who work in darkness hate the light (John 3:19-21). But, is the righteous supposed to detest anyone? There are some qualifiers.

  1. Is the person intentional about the deceit? Did they truly mean to deceive?
  2. Was the person meaning to harm?

From an Old Testament perspective, King David hated those who hated God’s ways, “Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.” Psalm 139:21-22. But, Jesus said to treat them like a tax collector (Matthew 18:17). Let’s rephrase that: Treat them as He would a tax collector. What’s the difference? He made a tax collector one of His disciples: Matthew!

So, we have a dilemma. Shall we follow the OT (an eye for an eye) or shall we follow the NT (do unto others as you would have them do unto you)? It depends upon by which one we want to be judged. I, for one, do NOT want to be judged by the law; I want to be judged by Jesus. By the law, I am guilty of breaking ALL of the commandments (James 2:10). By the blood of Jesus, I am justified, “Just as if I’d never sinned.” (Romans 3:24, Romans 8:30). When we get to heaven, there will be no evidence of sin!

When we read this verse every month, it is a great reminder that we are under a new covenant with one command,

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 3:34-35

I like it this way, don’t you?

Abba, teach us to love one another and to love our enemies, even when they are being deliberately dishonest, dirty, rotten, mean and nasty. They were to You, yet You loved them dearly. May we be just like You, Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 28 7-28-21

Living for Jesus means living with Jesus. Living with Jesus means that we have heaven as our goal. this earth is a means to an end.

1 The wicked flees though no one pursues [because they are afraid of losing their life’s work, and even their life], but the righteous are as bold as a lion [because we know that our treasures are laid up in heaven, not here on earth].

A song worm is a suggestion of a song that gets stuck in our brains and we can’t stop hearing it, humming it, or singing it. Many commercials are designed to be song worms, such as Kentucky Fried Chicken: We do chicken right, Burger King: Have it your way at Burger King. McDonald’s used a rhythm and rhyme technique: Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. I have remembered them from my childhood. Think advertising doesn’t work?! [let me know if you remember these jingles]

I believe Asaph used the song worm idea in psalm 73:25, which says,

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

In this psalm, he just got through singing to us that we are always with the LORD, He holds us by our dominant hand, He guides us with His counsel, and will one day take us into glory (Psalm 73:23-24). He then goes into praise that includes heaven and earth. In the one, he states that no one in heaven holds a candle to the LORD. I can’t help but think of “I Bowed on My Knees and Cried Holy,” when in the second verse, it says,

I said Timothy, I want to see Jesus,
For He’s the One who died for me!

When we get to “earth has nothing I desire besides you,” I am amazed at the insight of Asaph, who lives hundreds of years before Christ came, yet had a clarity of his relationship with the heavenly Father that rivals any of ours today. Would that we all had this attitude. What would happen if all Christians lived our lives with nothing on this earth being as desirous as our relationship with our heavenly Father?

  • Money wouldn’t matter.
  • Clothing wouldn’t matter.
  • Material goods wouldn’t matter.
  • Food wouldn’t matter.
  • Persecution wouldn’t matter.
  • Longevity of life wouldn’t matter.
  • We would consider death more than a mercy; it would be a victory!
  • Dying for Jesus would be the highest and greatest honor bestowed on us.

Wait! Jesus already addressed this question:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well [until it’s time to come home]Matthew 6:25-33

Let’s allow Asaph’s song worm to get into our minds today and tell the Lord, “This earth has nothing I desire besides You.” Our relationship with Him is All-Important. Work on it; develop it; strive for it. There’s no greater work we do this side of heaven.

Abba, I pray that I would work on my relationship with You every day, all day. I pledge to strive every minute to develop You in me. I want to be like You, and then, when it’s time, I want to go be with You. I trust You will take care of all the details between now and then. Amen.

Proverbs 27 7-27-21

In order to share the Gospel, we must understand the Gospel. Jesus doesn’t give us salvation; He IS salvation.

6 Wounds [hard truth given] from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses [tells us only what we want to hear rather than what we need to hear].

Salvation boils down to our life before Christ, Christ, and life with Christ. The character of Mary Magdalene on “The Chosen” said, “I was one way before; now I am completely different, and the only thing in between was Him.”

Here is a quick breakdown of what Christ accomplishes in our lives:

  1. Salvation– freedom from the prison of sin. Jesus kills us (we were under the law), buries us (those who are dead are freed from the law; see Romans 6:6), and then resurrects us to new life in Him, with Him.
  2. Sanctification– freedom from the power of sin. The desire to sin does not abate, but it is overcome by a greater desire to please our heavenly Father.
  3. Glorification– freedom from the purpose of sin, which is to kill us. When Jesus comes to live in our hearts and raises us up to new life, we begin our tour of eternity. We are born into the kingdom of heaven! When our time on earth is over, we simply step out of these bodies and into glorious new bodies, imperishable ones, immortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). Our salvation will be complete.

Living with Jesus is an adventure, especially when we allow Him to have the lead. Let’s just not forget our destination, which is to be at His throne forever. Chill, enjoy life, tell others about Jesus, and then go home to be with Him at His place. The Christian life really is that simple.

Abba, keeping things simple makes life simple. Help me to keep focused on You, listening to You, and obeying all that You say. I know that You have my best interest at heart, so I can trust You. Lead on, my King. Amen.

Proverbs 26 7-26-21

Call out to the Holy Spirit. Is He speaking to you now? Answer Him with a resounding yes!

12 Do you see a person wise in his own eyes? there is more hope for a fool than for him.

Living for Christ or living for ourselves answers the question about whom we serve. Is Christ really in you? When I first trusted in Christ, I knew a few Bible stories including Jesus’ death and resurrection. I didn’t put my trust in the stories, but in the Savior as His Spirit drew me. Since then, I have studied His life, as well as the background information given in the Old Testament, and have found Him to be TRUE to His Word…

  1. Concerning His ORIGIN: Jesus said that He came from God (John 7:16-17). In fact, He said that Abraham saw His day and was glad (John 8:56). He even called Himself by God’s name, I AM (John 8:58).
  2. Concerning His MISSION: Jesus said that He only did what He saw His Father doing (I assume that He could see the Holy Spirit working in those around Him; John 5:19-20). He said that He came to be lifted up and that He would draw all people to Himself (John 12:32).
  3. Concerning His PROMISE: He promised that He will come back for us (John 14:3). At the renewal of all things (Matthew 19:28), Jesus will sit on His glorious throne and judge everyone, for good or for bad (John 5:25-27, Matthew 25:31-32). Of the place of His throne and the time of His Coming, He said, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority.” We would do well to keep our eschatology vague. He said that He was coming again, and that’s enough for me.

Want to be mature in Christ? Then develop a love for His Word, both Old and New Testaments. The Old is the foundation of the New, and the New is the fulfillment of the Old. We don’t follow the Old Covenant, but we do learn from the history and prophecies. They are what provide the background and setting for the New Covenant. For instance, Jesus’ prophecy about the separating of the sheep and the goats is grounded in Isaiah 58:6-7,

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Jesus wants your life. Give it to Him daily by reading and studying His Word; then apply what you read through obedience. It’s the only way to grow spiritually. It is also how He spends time with us. The more we spend being obedient to His Word, the more He shares with us insights into spiritual things. It is how we become wise:

13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 1 Corinthians 2:13

Are you ready? Let’s go! For starters, study the book of John. You may have noticed that I quoted from it extensively today. John wants us to know that Jesus is God. His book is a great place to start.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would develop a hunger and a thirst for Your Word and for righteousness (Matthew 5:6), for You promise that You will fill us with good things of the Spirit. I’m ready, Lord. Fill me that I may know Your thoughts and see people as You see them. I want to be just like You, Jesus. Please make it so. Amen.

Proverbs 25 7-25-21

Most Christians have never boiled their faith down to its essential ingredients. Let’s take a quick quiz…

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

Knowing what is essential to our faith is important; so is being able to articulate it.

  1. What is the main purpose for the cross?
  2. What does the resurrection mean?
  3. What is the biggest promise of the Bible?

To be fair, I’ve had time to ponder these questions and teach the material. Here is what I’ve come up with:

  1. Restored fellowship. Most people answer that it’s to have our sins forgiven, but why did sin need to be forgiven? In order to remove that which kept us from having fellowship with the Father. It’s all about the relationship.
  2. He rose again, therefore we rise again. His resurrection means that we have a resurrection, in Him.
  3. “When things are ready, I will come back for you.” John 14:3. Whether it’s individual or collective, He is coming back for all of us.

This morning, be sure to thank our heavenly Father and His Son and then praise them. Spend time rejoicing in the Spirit. It’s the whole point of being saved.

Abba, may I take my own advice. Thank You for so great a salvation so that we can be together. I can hardly wait to be with you completely! In the meantime, I relish the relationship I have with You in my heart and life. I look forward to tomorrow, singing praises to Your name, and worshiping with my fellow followers. Amen.

Proverbs 24 7-24-21

The world would have us fear death, but for Christians, it is the final victory! “Death, where is thy victory? Death, where is thy sting?”

1 Do not envy the wicked [those who disregard God and His future for those who love Him], do not desire their company [or anything they have], 2 for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble [their morals are twisted, along with their desires].

Romans 14:13 is where we need to stop and camp a while. Let’s read it:

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

Let’s use some logic:

  • According to the pundits in the media, if people have had the COVID shot, then they are “safe.”
  • According to many doctors, if people have had COVID, then they are “safe.”
  • Logically, if people have had neither, they may get COVID, but everyone else is “safe.”

We each answer to God–right now– for our decisions. God leads, but He also allows. It’s one of the things I admire a lot about God: How does He allow choice and still work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)? It very well may be that Paul is referring not to this world, but to the kingdom of heaven, which is in us and to which we are going. On Resurrection Day (John 5:25 and 11:24), when all rise to be rewarded/judged (see Matthew 25:31-46), the Lord Jesus will remove the curtain between the heavens (see Day 4 of creation, Genesis 1:14-19) and “Christ’s great kingdom will come on earth, the kingdom of love and light” (from “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations” Traditional Version, Modern Version). Until then, we simply make do with what we are given where we are in the timeline. Paul says to set our hearts and minds on things above (Colossians 3:1-2), where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, as God makes all of Christ’s enemies His footstool (Psalm 110:1). We have these promises (Colossians 3:3-4):

  1. We died to this world and our true life is hidden in Christ,
  2. When He appears, then we will also appear with Him in glory.

Jesus put it this way, “Do not worry about your life…but seek first His [the Father’s] kingdom and His righteousness, and all will be taken care of” Matthew 6:25, 33-34 (my own paraphrase). “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Indeed!

How do we seek the kingdom of God when the kingdom is within us? We seek His face, as King David did (Psalm 27:8), which is really pretty easy since He is inside of us. What He really wants is our company, along with our obedience. He is trying to get us home!

To summarize,

  • We live in a fallen world.
  • Jesus brought His kingdom to us.
  • He is in us until we go to be with Him.
  • This world will never be perfect until He comes.
  • We aren’t perfect, either, and won’t be until we die and go to be with Him in His kingdom.
  • We should quit insisting that people believe our way.
  • Instead, we should just point them to Jesus. He’ll do the rest.

Let’s live our lives using Psalm 27:1 as our banner verse:

The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

And remember that “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21.

Abba, help me to remember that I am a stranger to this world now that I have been born again and have You inside me. I will hold onto the things of this world with a loose grip and hold on to You, Jesus, for life, eternal life. Thank You for holding me (John 10:27-30). Amen.

Proverbs 23 7-23-21

There will be no watching of a video of our lives in heaven, going over it with a fine-toothed comb. We are already pleasing to God!

12 Apply your heart to instruction [study, study, study the Bible] and your ears to words of knowledge [make application of the Bible using the Bible].

Romans 14:10 is usually paired with 2 Corinthians 5:10, which says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” It sounds an awful lot like we will watch a replay of our lives. Not so! The judgment here has to do with Lordship here in this life. Verse 11 of Romans 14 says, It is written, ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.'” (Isaiah 45:23). Paul uses this same verse in Philippians 2:9-11, but adds a couple of references to Jesus,

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.

Paul emphasizes that it is our allegiance to Jesus Christ about which this passage is referring. In fact, it is in Jesus that this verse is fulfilled, and it brings glory to the Father.

Verse 12 says, “So then, each of us will give an account of our selves to God” concerning Jesus’ Lordship in our lives while on earth. I believe that there will be a time when we all stand before the great throne, God the Father in the center and Jesus at His right hand, and each of our names will be called. When my name is called, I will step out and Jesus will receive me as His own while God gets all the glory (He’s smiling, too). I’ll get the team t-shirt (a white robe) and give high-five’s for an extended period as all the saints that have gone before me wait for me to slap their hands. Actually, I’m sure that the entire ceremony will be so glorious and awesome that I can’t even imagine! But, it is exactly that, a ceremony. We have already passed from death to life (John 5:24) and are clothed in the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21, Isaiah 61:10). We will have received our immortal bodies and will have passed from flesh to spirit–NO SIN NATURE! (1 Corinthians 15:42-49), “And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man [Adam], so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man [Jesus].”

Paul summed it up for us in the next few verses of 1 Corinthians 15,

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

To summarize, the verse is not talking about a detailed account of our lives that we review in heaven, but our daily decision to “bow the knee.” It’s our allegiance to Christ that makes us stand confidently before His throne not only in the future, but right now! Hebrews 4:16 and Ephesians 3:12 tell us so.

Abba, may we all bow our knees and our wills to You every day. “Not my will, but Thy will be done.” Those are Jesus’ words; may they be mine, as well. Amen.

Proverbs 22 7-22-21

If we obey Christ to get rewarded in this life, then we have missed the point of the Kingdom of heaven. It’s not of this world, remember?

9 The generous will themselves be blessed [with all spiritual blessings], for they share their food [and anything else] with the poor [those in need].

As we continue our journey through chapter 14 of Romans, Paul explains that our entire lives are to be spent in service to the Lord. HE determines when our time here on this earth is done–as well as all the in-betweens.

For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

We answer to Christ for our decisions. Whether we live or die, we belong to Christ. Everyone dies eventually, so it all comes down to obedience; let’s not worry about what kills us, rather that we are doing the Lord’s work when our time comes. If you are counting on “The Rapture,” you might take a look at the past several generations. What you will find is that many thought that their generation was going to be the ONE, even back to the 1840’s. When I was young, Henry Kissinger was supposed to be the antichrist! A quick look at history going all the way back to Pentecost will show you that it has been a LOT worse than it is now. We are to interpret Scripture with Scripture, not a newspaper. Are there markers that Jesus may return soon? Absolutely. But, rather than taking all the Christians out, He may be gearing up for a world-wide revival! We simply don’t know, so let’s hope for His Return, but prepare for the fact that it may not be in our generation. In other words, let’s get busy doing the Lord’s work, shall we?

Paul writes in Colossians 3:23-24,

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

In Ephesians 6:7-8, he said,

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

And, in all things, do it with the Spirit, in the Spirit. He wants our fellowship; it’s not as if He needs us to do anything or Him.

Abba, we know You are returning someday. I pray it will be soon. In the meantime, I want to be working, doing Your will. In fact, I want to be “caught in the act” by Your return. May it be a surprise and an interruption to ministry–or, a completion of it. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 21 7-21-21

Do we really believe that the Lord leads us one step at a time? Do we check with Him often to make sure we are following?

2 A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart [looks at our motives].

Accepting the one whose faith is weak is being just like Jesus. What did He say to Peter as Peter cried out to the Lord to save him? “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:22-32. What exactly did Paul consider weak of faith? Let’s look:

For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Romans 14:2

The weakness of faith, to me, is about having trouble letting go of what we know for what Jesus tells us in His Word. Jesus has fulfilled the law (Matthew 5:17-18) so that we no longer have a contractual side to uphold (they were expected to obey certain laws, rituals, and ceremonies). In this case, it was diet wrapped up in conviction. Instead, He has come to live in us, thus rendering all outer duty irrelevant. From now on, we worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24) We need to learn to recognize His voice and promptings. The more we try, the better we get at it. It’s a daily thing. Really, it’s an all-day thing.

Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them

The key to this verse is, “for God has accepted them.” If God accepts them and is working in their lives, who are we to pass judgement on them? We are not their masters, nor they ours. We each are on a path with Him, and at different points on that path. Still, we are all headed to the same place (His throne), so we need to work together.

Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

“The Lord is able to make them stand.” He has moved beyond the Old Covenant contract idea to a new covenant, one of complete love and acceptance. If only we could get our minds around the truth that now that Christ is in us, “we are more than conquerors!” (Romans 8:37). Verse 8 says, “We belong to the Lord.” Therefore, if some of us believe that taking the COVID shot is a good idea, then take the shot, but, if some of us do not want to take the shot for whatever reason, then they had better not take the shot because they would be acting not out of faith, but out of pressure and doubt. Verse 23 tells us, “But whoever has doubts [not confirmed by Christ on the matter] is condemned [it weakens them spiritually] if they eat, because their eating [taking the shot] is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin [destructive to us and faces us away from Him]. We MUST allow each person to determine the best course for himself. You say, “But what if he infects everyone and some die because of his ‘neglect?'” Then, the Lord will give grace to those who get sick; as for those who die in the Lord, “whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (v.8).” We all die anyway, so we should go out with a good and clean conscience. Nothing in this world will be “right” until Jesus returns, so let’s encourage one another to act according to the Spirit within us until He comes, or until we go to be with Him, which is far better than staying here!

We must allow people to be led personally by the Lord. We can exhort scripturally, but when it all boils down, we must hear from Him and do what He says. Otherwise, there’s no faith (actually, our faith would be in other people and things rather than in Christ).

Abba, may Your voice be clear and strong as we navigate our way through this world. I know things won’t be completely right until we get to Your kingdom, so any path is a good one as long as I am with You. I love, love, love Asaph’s prayer in Psalm 73:23-24, “I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand, you guide me with Your sweet counsel, and at the end of my life, You will take me into glory.” Lord, it doesn’t get any better or plainer than that! Amen.

Proverbs 20 7-20-21

Judging another of the Master’s servants will get us in trouble. We are all individually responsible to our Master, the Lord Jesus.

6 Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find [who doesn’t criticize his fellow servant]?

We all have our own opinion, and according to our temperaments, we:

  1. Expect others to share our own (Red/Choleric),
  2. We want to share our opinion with everyone (Yellow/Sanguine),
  3. We keep our opinion to ourselves and tell no one (Green/Phlegmatic),
  4. or we try to persuade others to see things our way (Blue/Melancholy).

What we need is to be White/Godly, which is all the colors, but above any particular color. We can only be White by the assistance and partnership of the Holy Spirit.

I have been studying Romans, and lately chapter 14. I invite you to join me. It would be good for you read through Romans and then come back to 14 with me, but it’s not necessary.

I believe that this chapter can be applied to the COVID shot and masks.

We begin with verse 1.

14 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.

Weak faith refers to those whose concept of service has to do with keeping the law (doing stuff to be pleasing to God). What is pleasing to God becomes a point of contention. These “disputable matters” are anything that is not specifically spelled out by the Lord. Most of them are according to where a person is in his walk with Christ. Our past experiences also play a part.

For instance, I know a person who pays his bills manually every month because he got himself into debt with credit cards, and by paying them manually, he holds himself accountable. I, on the other hand, have no problem with credit card debt and have everything either on credit card or drafted. My problem was debit cards and ATM’s! When they first came out,* I thought, “Wow! Free Money!” It took about three months to cure me (thanks, Robin). Most people have a debit card; we don’t.

Where are we weak in the faith? We should help each other rather than judge each other. Jesus put it like this,

7 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Matthew 7:1-5

Concerning the law, we are to help people shift their thinking from pleasing God to being pleasing to God (we already are). Doing so requires encouragement, not criticism. May we be encouraging to everyone around us today.

Abba, as we study Your Word in depth, I first thank You for giving the apostle Paul such great insight. I also thank You for having it written down, preserved, and translated for us so that we can study it today. May we never take it for granted. Open our minds and hearts to Your Mind and Heart. Use Your scalpel on us today (Hebrews 4:12). Amen.

*The year was 1984, and Robin and I were fresh out of college.

Proverbs 19 7-19-21

Does God send people to hell? Or, do they simply not prepare for heaven? There is a difference.

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

It never ceases to amaze me that people accuse God of being brutal and unfair because He “sends people to hell” when they are not interested in doing anything God’s way or even having anything to do with Him. Could it be that God simply allows them to “have it their way?” There are two scripture passages that I would like to string together:

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

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God John 1:12

I did a little research on the word, “right.” It is a feminine noun, which means that it is passive (it needs outside power). The Greek word is eksousia and means “privilege, granted authority, conferred power; delegated empowerment, authorization.” Notice that each of these terms receives power from outside itself. Jesus gives us the privilege to become children of God. When we are born again, we are born with this inalienable “right.” It is the Holy Spirit who makes it happen. This right includes all the power and authority, protection and provision afforded by our heavenly Father.

It is never God’s intention to lose anyone to hell, but He does offer free will, and that free will requires complete free will. The choice to have nothing to do with God must be one of the choices. The righteous anger of Jesus Christ with the religious leaders had much to do with God’s love for them. The hinge verse for me is Matthew 23:13, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” In the midst of their arguing with Him, He offers them the opportunity to believe, “Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father” John 10:37-38. If the kingdom of heaven (of God) is in our midst, or within us (Luke 17:21), then it follows that we receive entry into the kingdom while here on this earth. To leave this earth without the kingdom of heaven within us leaves us nowhere to go but to a place that was originally created for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41). It doesn’t sound like God created hell for people at all!

Yes, there is a time of sentencing, so to speak (Matthew 22:11-13 and 25:41, 46), but it is really just the honoring of the choice made in life, the choice to have nothing to do with God. I include three quotes from C.S. Lewis,

“A man can’t be taken to hell, or sent to hell: you can only get there on your own steam.”
The Quotable Lewis, page 292

“I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside.
The Quotable Lewis, page 292

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.”
The Quotable Lewis, page 293

We must never forget that “God so loved that world that He gave His one and only Son.” Those who treat that great sacrifice with contempt will not want to stand in His glorious presence in heaven. They will look for any place else to be. Mercifully, God grants them their request: Hell. Does God send people to hell? Yes, at their insistence.

Abba, I know Your heart, that You desire no one to go to hell. I also know that you created us to choose. I choose You. Please work through me to “rescue those being led away to death” (Proverbs 24:11) by “snatching them from the fire” (Jude 23). You are the LORD Most High. All creatures will bow before You and confess “Jesus is LORD” (Isaiah 45:23 and Philippians 2:10-11). I pray that many will choose to bow BEFORE they see You face to face. Amen.