1 John 5:6-12

July 31, 2019

God’s Great Rescue Plan was inconceivable. Only He knew what He was up to! Now, after the fact, His testimony stands firm. Let’s start with that testimony:

11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

The strength of this testimony can be seen in the next verse:

12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

On what is it based? THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST. Let’s look:

This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify:the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 

There are three elements to this testimony:

  1. The water- This reference is to His physical body being born. The amniotic fluid that surrounds the embryo is mostly water. There is also a reference to water when Jesus was pierced by the spear in His side. The sac surrounding the heart is also filled with water and was punctured along with his heart–a sure sign of His death.
  2. The blood- This reference is to His purpose, which was to be the sin sacrifice for us (2 Cor. 5:21). The entire sacrificial system was designed as a picture of what Christ would do for us–had already done for us. One of the mind-blowing verses in the Bible is Revelation 13:8, which says, “…the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” How God did it, I don’t know, but we were redeemed before the world ever began and the Fall ever happened! EVERYONE is judged according to the CROSS: Those who looked forward to it and we who look back on it.
  3. The Spirit- The third Person of the Trinity. He came down in ceremonial form on Jesus in the form of a dove when He was baptized (Matt. 3:16), thus officially beginning His ministry. His Father was very pleased with Him, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” One might go so far as to say that Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Old Covenant by living 30 years righteously, something that no one up to that point had done. Upon His baptism and the receiving of the Holy Spirit (ceremonially)*, He ushered in the New Covenant. From that point on, everything pointed to the Cross and salvation through Him.

Again and again, Jesus told them that if they didn’t believe His message, to at least believe the miracles that testified about Him (John 10:25, 32, 37, 38, 14:11). Those who refuse to believe make Jesus out to be a liar, which makes God a liar, as well. NOT A GOOD THING! They have moved from standing in front of the Judge’s bench to the Judge’s seat–which is reserved for God alone! Mankind can be so arrogant.

John ends this discussion by summarizing Christ’s life:

11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Salvation is simple–not easy, but simple. We believe Jesus. We prove we believe Him by walking with Him continuously and obeying Him. We have the Spirit, who is Jesus, who is God, living in us and communing with us. What more could we ask?!

*Who can explain Jesus? He was God, yet human. He was sinless, which made Him eligible to be the Passover Lamb; He was human, which made Him eligible to be our sin sacrifice; He was one with God through the Spirit. I see the Spirit coming down on Jesus at His baptism as a ceremonial filling, an outward sign of an inward reality, identically to our baptism: An outward sign of an inward reality, which is “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:27. When we graduated from high school, we received a diploma in a ceremony that testified that we had met the requirements set before us. It was the same when I received my black belt in Karate. The belt verified that I knew what it took to be a black belt and had demonstrated my knowledge and skill. Baptism is our testimony of the transformation and indwelling inside us. It doesn’t DO anything to us; it shows WHAT HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE!

Proverbs 30 7-30-19

July 30, 2019

Thoughts and actions, words and deeds–one follows the other. How we live comes from what we believe about Jesus.

4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down? 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!

Day 12 of 21 Days of Deep

Yes, we DO KNOW! He is the LORD God and His Son is Jesus Christ! It is VITAL that we keep this confession in the forefront of our minds, for it establishes and maintains our priorities. First thing in the morning, our flesh, our “old man,” tries to re-establish himself as first in our lives. We must “force him back in the grave” by reinforcing in our hearts our reverence for Christ, acknowledging Him as the Lord of our lives. In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 1 Peter 3:15a. Studying passages like 1 John 5 will help us to do exactly that!

As always, read it first in your physical Bible; then, read it here and/or on your electronic device.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

SOAP

Scripture-Read it. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe– Did you notice anything particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply– How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray– Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ in you. Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

For an in-depth look at this passage, see the following lesson below.

1 John 5:1-5

July 30, 2019

Love is an action verb. It shows up huge in this passage. Let’s take a look.

As always, read it first in your physical Bible; then, read it here and/or on your electronic device.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 

What does he mean by, “the Christ?” The Christ is the Savior, the Anointed One of Israel, their King, the Messiah. Martha spoke well for us: “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11:27. Our trust is in His Person and in His Plan. We have put all our eggs into His basket, so to speak. We have no “plan B.” It’s all or nothing, and we have chosen to place ALL of our faith and trust in Him. Whatever He says, goes. Period. And what does He say we will do? Love His other children.

This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 

If you want God to know you love Him, then do what He has commanded. What has He commanded?

  • We could start with the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7;
    • We find His command to be salt and light;
    • Jesus gives more in-depth instructions concerning the 10 Commandments, particularly murder, adultery;
    • He deals with love for our enemies and what to do when we are mistreated;
    • He deals with prayer, the poor, fasting and worry;
    • He instructs us to lay up treasures in heaven instead of in this life;
    • He warns us against judging others and teaches us to ask, seek, and knock;
    • He exhorts us to enter the narrow gate and stay on the narrow road;
    • He warns us that we will be known by our fruit rather than by what we say;
    • And to be sure to build our house on the rock of His foundation.
  • Skipping to John 6:29 coupled with 14:15, He tells us that our main job is to Believe Him and do what He says. In fact, we prove we believe Him by doing what He says.
  • He gives us a new command (different in emphasis from the old Sinai Covenant, which was based on personal obedience in order to be righteous; we are righteous, therefore we obey!), and that command is to love one another (John 13:34).
  • For more of His commands, read the Gospels and get charged up!

In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 

Our biggest Weapon, our greatest Source, our Advocate, Helper, Counselor, Trail Guide, Friend and Associate is the Holy Spirit. He makes following God’s commands a pleasure–not easy, sometimes, but lightening. We find release from tension with Him when we are obedient. Pay attention to the tension. In this way, we overcome the world with its temptations, lures, traps and hidden snares.

Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Do we believe that Jesus is who He said He is and that He did what He said He did? YES! Then, let’s believe that His Spirit lives in us and will help us and encourage us to follow Him. As we already know, He’s worth every step and every breath!

 

Proverbs 29 7-29-19

July 29, 2019

Moving what we know to what we do, allowing it to change our actions, is key to Christianity. It is why we study the Bible and trust the Spirit.

7 The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

Day 11 of 21 Days of Deep

Head knowledge is of no use unless we act on it; then, it becomes heart knowledge. That’s what the love of God is all about. We know we truly love God when we begin to love as He loves. What does that love look like? Let’s see:

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

SOAP

Scripture-Read it. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe– Did you notice anything particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply– How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray– Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ in you. Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

For an in-depth look at this passage, see the following lesson below.

1 John 4:13-21

July 29, 2019

John wants us to know without a shadow of a doubt that we are in Christ, that we are saved, sealed, and will be delivered safely over to the other side. But, we must be willing to change. If not, then the love of God isn’t really in us; love of self rules supreme in our hearts.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 

Elijah heard the Voice: After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper…“What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:12-13 God has us question our motives. We are to use our minds to determine what it is that would please God the most and bring Him glory as the Spirit reveals it to us. Therefore, the more we know of His Word and His Will, the more closely we listen to His voice, the more we converse with Him throughout the day, and the more heavily we lean on Him for strength and support, knowledge and wisdom, comfort and peace, joy and love, the easier and more plain it is what would please Him. Actually, the activities described above bring Him more joy than anything we could DO FOR Him.

14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 

This is John’s testimony. He was an eyewitness to the LORD and His ministry. He walked and talked with Him after His resurrection, and was a recipient of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. At this time in his life, he has walked in step with the Spirit for several decades. He KNOWS what he is talking about!!!

15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

The best test of Christianity is whether or not a person acknowledges Jesus as his LORD in his daily life. Where’s the proof? If we say we love the LORD, but do not keep his commands nor live according to His will, then, say what we want, we do NOT actually love the LORD, for He is NOT LORD of our lives. Consequently neither is He in us. Sorry. We can’t have it both ways. We must learn to RELY on His love.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 

Want to be like Jesus? Then love as He loved: With complete abandon, with no thought to Himself, with our best interest in mind, in complete unity with the Spirit and His Father. WE CAN DO IT WITH HIS SPIRIT IN US! But, we must train, and we must work. Repetition is our greatest teacher. Practice makes progress (not necessarily perfection).

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Working hand in hand with the Spirit solidifies our knowledge of His love. As we walk closely with Him, we lose our fear of the unknown, of possible pain and loss, and of death. It’s our goal, anyway.

19 We love because he first loved us. 

Jesus is the Initiator of love and our Example of love. He calls us to love as He loved. Let’s emulate Him!

20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

John steps out of the doctrinal and into the practical here. He moves from teaching to practice. The fundamental test of our love for Christ is our willingness to give up our hatred for others. Hatred shows up in many forms: Malice, arrogance, resentment, hostility, conceit, anger, hurtful words and actions, stinginess, jealousy and envy, etc. The Spirit immediately begins to help us remove these forms of hatred from our lives. Are we willing to work with Him? It’s a daily process.

Abba, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ that they would sense Your presence and participation as You transform them into Christ-likeness. May they give themselves completely over to You today. May they be categorically committed to You, devoted to Your Way, and fully persuaded that You are worth following. May their lives be simply a shifting and sorting of priorities, a trading of their life, will, agenda, schedule, hopes, dreams, wishes, aspirations, desires, goals, pleasures, mind, attitude, thoughts and personality for Yours. Me, too. Amen.

1 John 4:7-21

July 28, 2019

John has been moving us to this passage. Up until now, he has been describing what the new life is and what it is not. In this passage, he reveals what he learned while walking with Jesus for three years.

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

John is speaking of attitude. God’s attitude toward people, His creation, is love and compassion. HE MADE US! And God has compassion on us, His children. He loves us so much that He gave us the right to choose to love Him. THAT’S BIG, because it means that people have the right to choose NOT Him, which explains the mess our world is in.

8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

In case you missed it, John spells it out: God Is Love. He is the definition and the embodiment of love. God’s love is shown through compassion. Jesus had compassion for people. Matthew 9:36 says, When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew mentions compassion three more times concerning Jesus, 14:14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15:32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” 20:34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. In each case, Jesus had their best interest at heart and did something about it. We would do well to emulate Him.

9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

John would know. He was there.

10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

God initiates salvation. He comes to us and invites us to be a part of His kingdom, His family. We accept His invitation by welcoming Him into our hearts and lives. He has already done all the “heavy-lifting.”

11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

If we allow the love of God to flow through us, we become extensions of Him. People see God in us. His love flowing through us transforms us even as it flows to those around us. We complete the connection of God with His world. Through us, His current of love can flow. Are you ready?

John says that no one has ever seen God, but Jesus said that if they have seen Him, then they have seen the Father. Jesus is the exact representation of God. Let’s look at the verses:

John 14:9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

Hebrews 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

If people are to see God, they will have to see Him in and through us, just like Jesus. The best way I know is to show compassion on our enemies. I’m going to quote a passage that is used THREE TIMES in the Bible:

Proverbs 25:21-22 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. (22) In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.

Jesus used it in an expanded version and illustrated it for us: 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Paul used it as a quote from Proverbs: Romans 12:19-21 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” says the Lord. (20) On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (21) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The idea is to show the love of Christ through our actions as if we are God to them. We ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” Better yet, we say, “Jesus, what would You have me do?” The Spirit inside us tells us what to do. If we ask for it, He will download compassion to you right then. He has for me. I’ll never get over it.

Let’s be righteous ambassadors for Christ to a fallen world. Let’s allow God’s love to flow through us–especially to our enemies!

Proverbs 28 7-28-19

July 28, 2019

God’s love expresses itself in compassion. It’s wanting for others what we have in ourselves: God through Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

5 Evildoers [those who do according their own understanding] do not understand what is right [the ways and commands of God], but those who seek the LORD [search out His will and ways in His Word] understand it fully. (6) Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse [the goals of each is different].

Day 10 of 21 Days of Deep

To grasp what love is, we must first understand that God loves us. He has loved us from the beginning. His greatest proof of that love is Jesus Christ. One of my favorite verses is Matthew 9:36, When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew uses the word, “compassion,” three other times in his letter, all of which refer to Jesus and how He felt and acted toward others. Our desire for others to come to Christ should override all other emotions for or against them. It is our HIGHER DESIRE.

Pay special attention to the bolded verses. They are about Jesus. Remember that John walked and lived with Jesus for three years and knew Him personally.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

SOAP

Scripture-Read it. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe– Did you notice anything particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply– How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray– Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ in you. Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

An in-depth study follows this Proverbs.

Proverbs 27 7-27-19

July 27, 2019

Day 9 of 21 Days of Deep

9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice. 

The passage we are about to look at has so many good things in it that we are going to take several days walking through it. Today, let’s look at what John says about “God in us” and how He affects our daily lives. Pay special attention to the bolded portions.
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

SOAP

Scripture-Read it. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe- Did you notice anything particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply- How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray- Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ in you. Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

The in-depth study will arrive later. Headed to the in-laws…

Proverbs 26 7-26-19

July 26, 2019

Discerning the spirits–what’s it all about? We have His SPIRIT in us! THAT’S what it’s all about!

7 Like the useless legs of one who is lame is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

Day 8 of 21 Days of Deep

Our interpretation of Scripture comes from the Spirit of God. He talks to us even as we read His words. In fact, it can we said that He talks to us THROUGH His words that we read. I’ve heard it said that if we want to hear God verbally talk to us, then read His Word out loud!

But what about deceiving spirits? Let’s read about it in 1 John 4:

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

SOAP

Scripture-Read it. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe- Did you notice anything particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply- How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray- Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ in you. Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

An in-depth study follows this Proverbs.

1 John 4:1-6

July 26, 2019

Every person has a worldview. This worldview is either born of a truth or a lie. We all begin life believing the lie because it is natural. When the Spirit comes to us and reveals the truth, many believe Him, but many more do not. They prefer the lie.

4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that  acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

v1 There are deceiving spirits. How many? Good question! Evidently, there are quite a few–enough to go around! Let’s look at some supporting Scripture concerning fallen angels:

Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads [Satan. The name, Lucifer, is actually a Latin derivative and not his real name]. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth [these would be the angels with him]. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth [Mary], so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son [Jesus], a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.”[a] And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days [from this point, I would be speculating].

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him [a description of Satan’s fall along with the angels who sided with him].

Hebrews 12:22 uses the word “innumerable” for the number of angels in heaven. Obviously, there is a finite number; it is just too vast for our finite minds. The concept I want us to grasp this morning is that God’s spirit world is much larger and much more real than our world. It’s like our world is the yolk of an egg whose white portion is limitless.

I love the account of Elisha in 2 Kings 6:8-23 when the king of Aram sent forces against Israel where Elisha lived. Elisha’s servant cries out in fear, but Elisha says, “Do not fear, for more are with us than with them.” He opens his eyes to see angels in fiery chariots surrounding the army. Elisha prays, and the whole army is struck with a kind of blindness so that they don’t realize where they are. They are led to Samaria where they are fed and sent back home [grace]. Aram no longer raided Israel after that event.

One of the boundaries that Satan and his followers crossed is the one of speaking for God. Satan did it with Adam and Eve and with Jesus, and his followers do it continuously with those who do not have the Spirit of God in them. Thus, we test the spirits.

How do we test the spirits? It’s simple: The spirit (in the person) must acknowledge Jesus as God’s Son and that He came to earth in the flesh. Why so specific? Because Satan created a lie for each facet of the redemption story:

  • He didn’t really come from God; he was a man who became a god (Mormonism)
  • He wasn’t really God’s Son, but just a prophet who spoke for God (Islam)
  • He wasn’t really human, but just an incarnation who looked human (Gnosticism)

If there’s a way to twist the Truth, Satan has done it. Any variation of the Gospel as given in 1 Corinthians 15 is from the spirit of the antichrist and his way of thinking, which is, basically, Satan’s way of thinking. What IS the TRUE Gospel?

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ [the Messiah had to be human and God together, tried but sinless; otherwise, He could not have been our sin sacrifice] died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

v4 We have overcome this spirit of deception through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!

v5 This verse is key to understanding our daily news: Satan controls the airwaves. Paul refers to him as the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). The world listens to Satan and his cohorts and is deceived. Paul talks about strongholds and arguments in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, and rulers and authorities in Ephesians 6:12. BIG verses!

v6 The Spirit bears witness with our hearts when truth is spoken (Romans 8:16). Whether a person believes the truth or rejects it tells the tale of which spirit to which they are listening. “This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”

We know that if 12:00 is the correct time, then anything else, no matter how close, is the wrong time. That’s the way it is with truth. It’s narrow, just like the gate, and the road that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14).

Let’s get on the right road each morning and walk with Jesus on that road all day!

Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to earth, living a sinless life, and dying for us–and then rising from the dead! Thank You for including us in so great a salvation. You love us so; may we love You with all our heart, soul, mind, and with all our strength. Lead us on this narrow road of Truth. Amen

Proverbs 25 7-25-19

July 25, 2019

Why have self-control? Because without it, we wreak havoc in our lives and the lives of others. We are dangerous to everyone–even ourselves!

(28) Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.

We are on day 7 of 21 Days of Deep. Who gives us self-control? The Spirit Does! It’s one of the fruit of the Spirit given in Galatians 5:22-23. It’s listed last and I think I know why: It’s the hardest to attain and the hardest to keep. Yet, without a measure of it, we can’t have any of the other fruit, either. So, maybe it should be listed first AND last!

Today, in 1 John 3:11-24, John gives us a picture of how to know we belong to Christ. Let’s look at the passage:

11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[a] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him,and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

SOAP

Scripture-Read it. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe- Did you notice anything particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply- How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray- Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ in you. Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

For an in-depth look at this passage, see the following lesson below.

1 John 3:11-24

July 25, 2019

As we begin this morning, ask the Father to open your mind and heart to His message to you. Ask Him to speak as you read His word. Let’s tune in:

11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[a] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him,and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

From the beginning of Jesus’ Gospel, He preached love. The sermon on the mount is an excellent example:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:43-45

Let’s look closely at the passage in 1 John:

  • v11 His message was always the same: LOVE.
  • v12 Cain acted out of anger, jealousy, envy, and hatred. We combat these feelings by the Spirit within us (verse 24). The fight inside is a sure sign of our salvation.
  • v13 Jesus told His disciples the same thing: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”John 16:1 To be like Jesus means that people will treat us just as the world treated Jesus. Sinners act like sinners. Get used to it.
  • v14 The love we have for our brothers and sisters in Christ and the compassion we have for lost souls is confirmation of Christ’s love in our hearts. We have passed from death to life (John 5:24). How should His love affect us daily? Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. Romans 6:13
  • v15 A reiteration of verse 12 and Matthew 5:21-22. Murder is part of the list of unrighteous living in Romans 1:29-31.
  • v16-18 This is a good example of how to love our brothers and sisters. Our society is well-off enough that this problem doesn’t present itself very often. But, when it does, we should be the first ones to their door. Notice that it does NOT include everyone, but just the family of God. Should we be stingy concerning the rest of mankind? Certainly not. But our main concern is loving the brethren. We give to those outside the Body of Christ as the Spirit leads us, and always with the hope of reaching them for Christ, with Christ, by Christ.
  • MEMORY VERSE: Dear children, let us not love with [just] words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18
  • v19-22 Inner peace comes by walking long enough with and close enough to Jesus to know the difference between what our hearts tell us and what He tells us. Our hearts are fickle and full of wickedness; they amplify what is in our minds and give feeling to our thoughts. Now we see why we must renew our minds constantly with the word of God. We must be in constant contact and continuous conversation with Jesus. Otherwise, we will believe our hearts and act out of passion. THAT’S DANGEROUS! See Galatians 5:19-21 for a list of out-of-control passions.
  • v23 The Gospel in a nutshell. We believe that Jesus is who He said He is, that He did what He said He did, and that He will do for us what He said He would do: Save us! Then, we love as He loved. He told the Jews that followed Him across the lake to Capernaum, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29. Then He told the disciples (in the upper room just before His crucifixion), “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34 Both of these verses are combined in verse 23. Notice that its address is 3:23, just like Romans 3:23 is the beginning of the Roman Road to Salvation.
  • v24 It takes the Spirit to love as He loved, so being able to do so is our verification that we are saved. His Spirit within us is our seal of salvation. It’s Jesus in us! When we have Him, we have already moved from death unto eternal life (see verse 14).

John wanted us to know with certainty that we are saved. He gave us the signs of salvation: Love in our hearts, His Spirit in us guiding us, and the world hating us. Let’s take comfort in that fact that as it was for the first Christians, it is for us today. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

Proverbs 24 7-24-19

July 24, 2019

Today is day 6 of “21 Days of Deep,” in which we are going deep into God’s Word. Today, we look at the difference between sin and habitual sin.

Speaking of which, have you gotten into the habit of reading the passage from a real bible before reading it electronically?

(7) Wisdom is too high for a fool [one who trusts only in himself]; in the assembly at the gate he has nothing to say.

And now, 1 John 28-3:10

28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

The general rule is this: Is Jesus in you? Then, you will aspire to walk, talk, and act like Jesus. If not, then the Spirit is probably not in you. Each person must decide Who is in charge of his life.

SOAP

Scripture-Read it. Ask the Spirit to speak to you as you read.

Observe- Did you notice anything particular? Did the Spirit highlight anything?

Apply- How does this passage apply to you? Is your overall desire to please Jesus and to look like Him?

Pray- Ask the Lord to help you understand-even deeper-what it means to have Christ formed in you. Read Romans 8:29 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 as if the Lord is talking straight to you. He IS! Ask Him the what, where, when, why and how concerning this passage.

For an in-depth look at this passage, see the following lesson below.

1 John 2:28-3:10

July 24, 2019

The first time I read this passage, I was pretty bummed. I was saved when I was 6, which means that most of my sinful habits developed WHILE I was a Christian. I still fight with some of them to this day: Quick temper, harsh words, judgmental attitude for starters.

Upon other readings of this passage, I began to realize that it’s talking about our walk with Him and not just our deeds. Let’s look:

28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

  • v28- Our walk with Him makes us confident and unashamed at His coming. If we go to meet Him first, we are STILL confident and unashamed because walking with Him is what He asks us to do.
  • v29- Jesus may know our hearts, but we don’t know other people’s hearts. The only way we can tell is by their habitual tendencies, in this case, their righteous acts. Are they living according to the Spirit? Is there any conscience? Are they striving to become more like Christ? Are WE striving to become more like Him?!
  • v3:1- I LOVE THIS VERSE! He has adopted us! WOW! If you’ll remember, Roman adoption was forever; it couldn’t be undone. Paul had this in mind when he wrote: (4) For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love (5) he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– Ephesians 1:4-6. In these verses, Paul uses these words: chose, holy, blameless, love, adopted, pleasure, and will. If we were to read through verse 10, we would hear these words: praise, grace, freely, loves, redemption, forgiveness, riches, more grace, lavished, all wisdom, understanding, mystery, his good pleasure, purpose. I highlighted a couple of the words that tell me that God does not do these things reticently, but gladly. He waited a long time (by our standards) to put into effect the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherein He reached out to all mankind in order to FREELY POUR OUT LAVISHLY His love and grace and forgiveness and riches and wisdom…etc. If the world would stop long enough to investigate what God has done for them through Jesus, many of them would run to Him as we did. Sadly, many wouldn’t. They don’t want to give up doing things their way. They don’t want to know Jesus.
  • v2- Glorification is what happens when we see Jesus. He is making us like Himself: loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and having self-control (all taken from Galatians 5:22-23). We could go to 1 Corinthians 13 and apply that list, as well: We do not envy, we do not boast, we are not proud. We do not dishonor others; we are not self-seeking. We are not easily angered, we keep no record of wrongs. We do not delight in evil but rejoice with the truth. We always protect, always trust, always hope, and always persevere. We never fail in these things (verses 4-8). Wherever we are in the process, we fast forward to the end to be like Him. That’s encouraging!
  • v3- For this reason, we continue to “purify ourselves,” which means to continue to “put off” the old person and “put on” the new person, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:24.
  • v4,5,6- Jesus took away our sins. From now on, we live for Him WITH Him inside us guiding us, speaking to us, and through His Word, “teaching us, rebuking us, correcting us, and training us in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16. If He is in us, we cannot sin without conscience or consequences (for more on the discipline of God with His children [us], read Hebrews 12:4-12). These sins don’t break our relationship with Him, but they do affect our fellowship with Him.
  • v7,8,9,10- It boils down to having the Spirit in us. If Jesus is our Lord and He lives in our hearts and controls our lives, then we strive to please Him. We take each thought captive to Him; we put off our old habits and create new ones in His likeness. We actively love through our actions and our words. If someone is not interested in following Christ in this fashion, then Jesus is not in that person. Otherwise, he would feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit and respond accordingly. The test is to see what a person does habitually. What is the overall action? Who does the person follow on a daily basis?

The song, “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love,” pretty much says it all.

Verse 1:

We are one in the Spirit
We are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit
We are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity
May one day be restored

Refrain:

And they’ll know we are Christians
By our love, By our love
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians
By our love

Verse 2:

We will walk with each other
We will walk hand in hand
We will walk with each other
We will walk hand in hand
And together we’ll spread the news
That God is in our land

Verse 3:

We will work with each other
We will work side by side
We will work with each other
We will work side by side
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity
And save each man’s pride

Verse 4:

All praise to the Father
From whom all things come
And all praise to Christ Jesus His only son
And all praise to the Spirit
Who makes us one

By Our Love-King and Country (a pretty good version)

Proverbs 23 7-23-19

July 23, 2019

Where we get our “truth” is important. The local news is NOT the best source. The Word of God IS.

(12) Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.

As we look at 1 John 2:18-27, let us take to heart John’s teaching about the ANOINTING. We believe John’s words because he lived with Jesus and was His disciple, which means that John’s goal was to learn EVERYTHING about his Master. Jesus taught HIs disciples truths about heaven, mankind, history, coming events, attitude, interpretation, how to listen to the Spirit, how NOT to listen to man’s philosophies–everything. We, too, are His disciples. John tells us how to walk with Jesus even as HE walked with and learned from Jesus: Through the Spirit. 

As always, read it in your physical Bible as well as here or on your electronic device.

18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.[a] 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.

26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

Let’s SOAP up:

You’ve read the Scripture.

Now, Observe anything that the Spirit highlights for you.

Consider how you might Apply this truth(s) to your life.

Ask the Father (Pray) to help you to recognize opportunities when they arrive and to make application. For instance, someone on TV is “waxing eloquently” when all of a sudden it becomes clear that he/she doesn’t believe that Jesus is God, or does not believe in the Resurrection (this person is an antichrist). What do we do? We acknowledge the “red flags and flashing lights” of the Spirit’s warning and turn to something else. We discard his/her message and replace it with what we KNOW to be TRUE according to God’s word. Responding to the Spirit is what righteous living is all about!

Abba, may every person SOAPing receive a special blessing today as we all listen for Your voice. May we recognize when You are teaching us, rebuking us, correcting us, and training us in Your righteousness*. May we learn Your word, O Lord!

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

NOTE: My personal commentary is directly below this lesson on the website.

1 John 2:18-27

July 23, 2019

18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.[a] 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.

26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

There are three things that are important in this passage:

  1. Antichrist
  2. The anointing
  3. Acknowledgement of Jesus

Let’s take them in reverse order. Acknowledging Jesus as God is paramount to salvation because to receive one is to receive the other. Jesus was Immanuel, God with us. He was not just a man who became God through his sacrifice, but God who came to earth to sacrifice Himself for us. The sacrifice had to be perfect whereas no human has ever been perfect after Adam and Eve’s fall. This truth is borne out in the sacrificial system that was used for 1500 years: a perfect lamb was chosen to bear the sins of the people. Yet, because the lamb was not human, it could only cover man’s sin. Only the blood of a human-a perfect human-could pay the price ONCE FOR ALL.

Exodus 12:5 The lamb must be without blemish or defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.

Leviticus 16:34 And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.

Hebrews 10:4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Hebrews 10:8 First he [Christ] said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them (Psalm 40:6-8)”–though they were offered in accordance with the law. (9) Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first [covenant] to establish the second [covenant]. (10) And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Hebrews 9:26 But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 

Hebrews 7:24 Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. (25) Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Secondly, the Anointing is His Spirit. Jesus told His disciples that He would send the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth to them (John 14:16-17, 15:26, 16:7, 13). He will guide us into all truth; we do not even need to be  taught by others! His Spirit teaches us. This teaching and our learning is called sanctification. Jesus told us how it works:

John 17:17 [Father,] sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

The Spirit teaches us when we read His word. Learning the words of God and the words of Christ gives the Spirit the base we need for Him to teach us. Read, Read, READ!

Third are the antichrists. We are conditioned to think of THE ANTICHRIST, the one who will come and be led by Satan to take over the world, but he is really one of a long line of antichrists. The definition of an antichrist is in verse 22, whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ, God in the flesh. If that’s the case, then there are entire religions made up of antichrists!

The sequence is this: We accept the truth about Jesus Christ: That He is God come down in human form to be our substitutionary sacrifice. We, then, receive the Holy Spirit, Who begins to teach us and guide us into all truth about what we have done, Who Jesus is, what is real and what is counterfeit, and what is coming. The main thing is to stay connected to the Vine. We are to abide.

John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me [abide, allow me to lead] and I in you [allowing Him to have full access to our lives], you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing [of spiritual or eternal value or effect].”

Let us not be led astray by our own logic, the devil’s lies, or by “shiny objects.” Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus and listen to His voice as He leads us. As we read His words, He speaks to us, so READ HIS WORD!

Proverbs 22 7-22-19

July 22, 2019

Knowing where we struggle is half the battle. Setting guard rails in place and honoring them is the other half. Both are revealed and managed by the Spirit.

5 In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls, but those who would preserve their life stay far from them.

The question is, “Why would we deliberately go to a place where we KNOW are temptations and snares?” The answer is, “Because we want to!” What dangers we walk into with our eyes wide open!

We need reminders. We need a way to set our minds on life-giving truths. John gives us these mindsets in chapter 2:

12 I am writing to you, dear children,
    because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers [and mothers],
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men [and women],
    because you have overcome the evil one.

14 I write to you, dear children,
    because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers [and mothers],
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men [and women],
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God lives in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one.

These verses provide the mindset we need for righteous living. They are the positive side of the coin. Let’s look at the negative side, the side of which we are to stay away.

 

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

SOAP

S- Read the Scripture with the intent of hearing God as you read.

O-Observe what stands out to you. Is the Lord highlighting that part for you today?

A-Apply it to your life; does it fit? Will you have to make adjustments for it to fit?

P-Pray; ask the Lord to teach you how to set guard rails in your life. Ask Him what, when, where, why and how.

Abba, may You open our minds and hearts to the truth about Your Word, this world, and all that is going on around us. May we see with spiritual eyes and strive to live righteously. May we emulate You, Lord Jesus, in all we say and do. May we take every thought captive to YOU, O Lord! Amen.

NOTE: Immediately following this Proverbs is my commentary on this passage.

1 John 2:12-17

July 22, 2019

Today’s reading deals with mind-set. We are to keep these things in mind as we go about our day. We are to review them daily to keep them fresh and fixed in our minds.

Reasons for Writing

12 I am writing to you, dear children,
    because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
    because you have overcome the evil one.

14 I write to you, dear children,
    because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God lives in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one.

 

This portion of the letter is written in poem form, even a song, with verses! Let’s group the verses together:

I am writing to you, dear children,
    because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.

I write to you, dear children,
    because you know the Father.

I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning. (twice)

I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God lives in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one. (this line twice)

Women are not addressed, but such was the culture of the day. What goes for one, goes for the other.

The children are reminded that their sins are forgiven and that they know the Father personally.

The fathers are reminded–twice–that they know the One who is from the beginning, which could refer to the Father, but since the children have been reminded of Him specifically, I think that John is referring to Jesus. We find similar wording in 1:1 concerning the Word of life, which is Jesus.

The young men are reminded that they are strong in the Lord because the word of God lives in them, enough so that they have overcome the evil one. Paul said to “let the word [message] of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16). We would do well to “hide his word in our hearts” (Psalm 119:11).

Speaking of the evil one, we find his tools in the next two verses.

On Not Loving the World

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

The tools of Satan: There are only three listed, but, oh, how effective they are! From GotQuestions.Org:

  1. The lust of the flesh- The uncontrolled desire for what makes us feel good. “Pastor Mark Bubek defines the flesh this way: ‘The flesh is a built-in law of failure, making it impossible for natural man to please or serve God. It is a compulsive inner force inherited from man’s fall, which expresses itself in general and specific rebellion against God and His righteousness. The flesh can never be reformed or improved. The only hope for escape from the law of the flesh is its total execution and replacement by a new life in the Lord Jesus Christ.’” Lust of the Flesh
  2. The lust of the eyes- “Simply put, the lust of the eyes is the desire to possess what we see or to have those things which have visual appeal. This coveting of money, possessions, or other physical things is not from God, but from the world around us. John emphasizes that these physical things do not last; they will pass away. In contrast, the child of God is guaranteed eternity.” Lust of the eyes
  3. The pride of life-  The attitude that we do not need God. “The pride of life can be defined as anything that is ‘of the world,’ meaning anything that leads to arrogance, ostentation, pride in self, presumption, and boasting.” The Pride of Life

We are warned by John that if we love any of these and chase after them, we ignore the love of God in our lives. If we do it without conscience, then we probably do not have the Holy Spirit in us. If we do not have the Spirit, then we are not saved. He is our SEAL unto salvation (2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5).

Verse 17 tells us to “keep our eyes on the prize.” What is forever is what is important. Let’s keep the main thing the main thing!

Abba, I want to keep my eyes focused on You, so open my eyes to spiritual things. Help me focus on what is eternal and not what is temporal. May I make relationships my main concern, especially those that lead to the salvation of souls. How do I do that? By focusing on You and following You throughout my day. Lead me into all truth, into witnessing situations, and according to Your will for my life. Amen.

 

Proverbs 21 7-21-19

July 21, 2019

We are on day three of 21 Days of Deep.” We are learning to dive into God’s Word for more than just crumbs. Come with us!

2 A person may think their own ways are right [justified], but the LORD weighs the heart.

As we pick up the narrative in 1 John, we learn the key to knowing we are God’s children. If we love as He loves, then we are His. If we reserve the right to judge for ourselves, then we haven’t given Him all of who we are. Judgement comes from that part of us that is like God–we are made in His image–but is the very thing that keeps us from coming to Him. We must learn to give up our “right” to judge others and allow Him to be in control.

As always, read it here, but also read it in your own “real” Bible.

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God[a] is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister[b] is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister[c] lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

SOAP

We’ve read the SCRIPTURE. Now OBSERVE it. What about it stands out to you?

Now APPLY it. How does it pertain to you?

PRAY. Ask the Lord to show you where you stand with Him and how to love as He loves. Be specific if specific people come to mind. Talk to Him and work it out. Repent (which means to make a course adjustment). Ask Him what to do next and then DO IT according to His timing and instructions.

Let’s enjoy His presence and participation in our lives today. We are His. REJOICE!

NOTE: I posted my commentary prior to this post. After you have prayed, I welcome you to read it.

1 John 2:3-11

July 21, 2019

There are eleven tests of salvation that I have counted in this letter. They are: 1:7, 2:4-6, 2:9-11, 2:15-17, 2:19, 2:23, 3:6, 3:10, 3:24, 5:11-12, and 5:18. Others may count more, but those are the ones I consider to be tests of salvation.

There are two verses pertaining to the anointing of the Holy Spirit. They are: 2:20 and 2:27. We will look at them later.

(3) We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. In John’s Gospel, he relates to us two commands of Jesus that he considers to be the highest commands. The first is John 6:29, where Jesus says, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” We must do exactly that: Take every word of Christ as the Gospel truth.

The other command is found in 13:34 where Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love [agapao] one another. As I have loved [agapao] you, so you must love [agapao] one another.” This word, agapao, means “godly love,” or “to love in a moral sense.” It is referred to as Agape Love, the love of God. The idea is to set aside our own feelings of love or hate and relate to people how God feels about them. How DOES God feel about them? John 3:16 tells us that He loves them so much that He gave His Son. Romans 5:8 tells us that even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Why? Because God loves us so much!

(4) Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. A person who is not interested in doing what Jesus has commanded is not really interested in Jesus being his Lord. He has not given his life over to Jesus, yet. It’s positional; that person is outside of Christ.

(5) But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: (6) Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. The key word here is “must.” If the Spirit lives inside of us, then we feel His desires as our own. He desires to obey through us, therefore we feel the compulsion to obey. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “For Christ’s love compels us…” We feel that we MUST live according to the Spirit, which is to live as Jesus lived. It’s relational; we fight our desire to do His higher desire.

(7) Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. From the first time his audience heard the Gospel, which could be those who heard for themselves Jesus’ message or it could be those in Ephesus where John preached for many years, the message of the Gospel is the same: God loved us through Christ; we love Christ, therefore we obey Him by loving others as He loves them through us.

((8) Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. John is referring to the illustration of light being God and darkness being evil. He began his Gospel with it (John 1:1-4, 14) and expounded on it in 3:19-21. We are most like Christ when we turn away from darkness (sin and self) and turn to Him, our Light, anytime, everytime.

(9) Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Our litmus test is how we feel about others and how we treat them.

(10) Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. There is a difference between “love” and “like.” We can love a person without liking him/her. We always have that person’s best interests in mind concerning his/her spiritual state. We MUST depend upon the Holy Spirit to guide us in this matter because we don’t have the knowledge to know what to do, nor the desire or the power to do it.

(11) But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. When we decide for ourselves that a person is not worth loving, then we have usurped God’s throne and His judgement. We walk NOT according to the Spirit, and therefore are walking in darkness. We stumble around spiritually thinking that we are fine when in actuality we have succumbed to the ways of the evil one. We are “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” spiritually (Rev. 3:17). Jesus says, (18) “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire [of truth and trials], so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear [of righteousness  and living according to the Spirit], so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes [the Word of God, Jesus’ words], so you can see. (19) Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.”

Dear Lord Jesus, I ask that you would teach me to love as You love, to see each person as a soul in need of You. May I listen to Your Spirit as He compels me to be Your hands and feet, Your ambassador, to those around me. May I be Christ to Your children and to those who don’t know You so that they may see You clearly in me. Amen.

1 John 1:5-2:2

July 20, 2019

John established His letter with a proclamation that Jesus is the Word of life. He then explains how we come to Him and how we are sustained by Him.

What is our TRUTH? (5) This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is not darkness at all. Light and darkness describe the difference between God (not just good) and evil. We walk in darkness until He shines His light on us and we receive it.

What is our REALITY? (6) If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. This pertains to salvation.  John 3:19-21 tells us that we must choose to walk in His light.

What is our SALVATION? (7) But if we walk in the light has he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. We trust His light one time (the first time) for all time (from that point on).

What is our DECEPTION? (8) If we claim to be without sin [without the need of coming to Christ], we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. This verse is particularly pertinent to those who claim to be “good enough” on their own.

What is our DELIVERANCE? (9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. This is a salvation verse. Christians use it in conjunction with James 5:16, but we must realize that our sins have been removed from us; we are washed clean by the blood of Jesus! Our sin can hinder our fellowship with the Father, but it cannot “kill” us anymore.

What is our JUDGEMENT? (10) If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. WE NEED JESUS. If we do not believe that He is the ONLY WAY, the ONLY TRUTH, and the ONLY LIFE, then His word is not in us and we are not saved.

What is our GOAL? (2:1) My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. Jesus does not need to plead our case to the Father every time we sin; His blood on the altar does that for us. It means that all our sins–our very lives–are covered in the blood. God now uses our weaknesses and our susceptibility toward sin to make us godly (like God). How? In the same way that a muscle needs resistance in order to become strong. We need to learn to resist temptation to sin, not so that we can live independently for God, but to learn to rely solely on the Spirit. The eighth chapter of Romans explains this process.

What is our MESSAGE? (2) He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. As churchy as it sounds, this is the message of salvation that the world needs to hear. HOW we say it is not as important as THAT we say it. The Spirit will take it from there.

Pray that the Spirit will empower us to resist temptation. Use temptation to catapult you into the presence of our Lord! Oftentimes, PRAISE is our best weapon against temptation.

Proverbs 20 7-20-19

July 20, 2019

Everyday we wage war against our old nature, our fleshly desires: What WE want to do. Seek guidance. Seek our Savior!

18 Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.

Christians, those who have the Spirit of the living God inside us, know that we are righteous because of the blood of Jesus, and want to live righteously. It’s pleasing to Him and good for us. The problem is that we still live in these old sin-ridden bodies and in a sin-ridden world. The vast majority of people are NOT interested in living righteously.

What we need is PERSPECTIVE AND FOCUS.

On our second day of “21 Days of Deep,” we continue to look at 1 John.

Our passage is 1 John 1:5-2:2. The gist of it is about salvation. As you read, consider if being like God is really something you desire. He is light; there is no darkness in Him. Is that how you want to be? If so, then these verses are past tense. Verses 1 and 2 of chapter 2 explain that Jesus’ blood on the altar keeps us clean. If not, then COME TO THE LIGHT! This passage explains how.

Again, read it here, but also read it out of your own Bible (a literal one, not an electronic one).

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[a] sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

I’ve included SOAP here for our convenience:

S. Scripture- Read the passage.

O. Observation- Observe at least one thing in the passage that you believe God has for you to learn from it.

A. Application- Consider how you may apply this new knowledge to your life today or sometime this week.

P. Prayer- Pray and ask God to give you the knowledge and the skill, the opportunity, and the courage to do it. Ask Him what (and then wait and ponder), ask Him when (wait and ponder), ask Him how (wait and ponder), and then ask Him why (wait and ponder). On this last one, you may not realize the answer until AFTER you are obedient.

My prayer for you: O Lord, may these verses soak deep in our souls as we walk with You today. May we revel in the fact that our sins are no longer held against us, that you actually use them to make us more like You! May we see each temptation as an opportunity for our spiritual growth, and use it to propel us into Your presence in praise and thanksgiving. Help us focus on You, O Lord, and to check with You constantly throughout our day. We love You. Help us to live in Your love. Amen

One last thing: I will publish my own commentary of our passage each day. Look for it on my website.

1 John 1:1-4

July 20, 2019

1 John 1:1-4

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched– [many people only trust what they can see and experience. John is giving account of just that!] this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. [for an expanded view of the “Word of life,” read the first 14 verses of John’s Gospel]

2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. [Remember: “If Someone prophesies his own death, burial, and resurrection, I’m going with whatever He says!”]

3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. [the two are One. Jesus said so in John 10:30]

4 We write this to make our joy complete [with you as part of our fellowship; John is including US].

Lord Jesus, as I ponder these verses, I am reminded that John walked with You for three years living with you, watching you, listening to you, and experiencing life with you. He was there when you were tried and sentenced; he was there at the crucifixion–close enough for You to address him personally about your mom; he was there at the tomb and saw that it was empty; he was there in the upper room–both times–when you “transported in;” he was on the boat when You were on the beach; he was there when You ascended back to the Father; he was even there in heaven to see You open the scrolls!

I know I can believe John. May I take his words seriously as I read them. Please help me to apply them to my life. Increase my faith, Lord, by increasing my knowledge, thus giving You more ways to communicate with me.

Amen

Proverbs 19 7-19-19

July 19, 2019

Today is our first day of 21 Days of Deep. I pray that you will dive in with me as we study God’s Word together.

1 Better the poor person whose walk [with the LORD] is blameless [with integrity, upright, purposeful] than a rich fool whose lips [and heart] are perverse.

3:13 Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, 14 for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. 15 She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.

8:12 “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence [good decision-making practices]; I possess knowledge and discretion.” 17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.”

We study with purpose, and that purpose is to know the Lord Jesus more closely and intimately each day. Knowing Him gives us life; He makes us lose our fear and even our temptation to sin; He gives us joy and peace, and a desire to bring others along. SOAPing up each day is good for us. It’s what is BEST for us.

Just a reminder of what SOAP is:

S. Scripture- Read the passage.

O. Observation- Observe at least one thing in the passage that you believe God has for you to learn from it.

A. Application- Consider how you may apply this new knowledge to your life today or sometime this week.

P. Prayer- Pray and ask God to give you the knowledge and the skill, the opportunity, and the courage to do it. Ask Him what (and then wait and ponder), ask Him when (wait and ponder), ask Him how (wait and ponder), and then ask Him why (wait and ponder). On this last one, you may not realize the answer until AFTER you are obedient.

So, let’s read the Scripture (you thought we had already started, didn’t you?). Might I make a suggestion? Read it here, but also read it in your Bible–the real one, not the electronic one. There’s something about the words having a physical location that helps our brains remember where it is and what it looks like.

1 John 1:1-4

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched– [many people only trust what they can see and experience. John is giving account of just that!] this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. [for an expanded view of the “Word of life,” read the first 14 verses of John’s Gospel]

2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. [Remember: “If Someone prophesies his own death, burial, and resurrection, I’m going with whatever He says!”]

3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. [the two are One. Jesus said so in John 10:30]

4 We write this to make our joy complete [with you as part of our fellowship; John is including US].

Let’s Observe: What in this passage was new to you? What did you know before that was reiterated?

Let’s Apply: What did the Holy Spirit bring to light for you? Was a need made known in your life? Was your faith deepened or increased by reading John’s testimony?

Let’s Pray: Ask the LORD what He wants you to “take away” from these verses. Now, ponder. Ask Him when, how and why these verses are important. Now, ponder. Allow Him to guide your thoughts. Make a note of anything concrete that He tells you.

Now, as you walk through today, be aware of His presence and His voice as He applies what you have learned. May your joy be complete as you fellowship with Him.

Proverbs 18 7-18-19

July 18, 2019

The lie that wealth is a firm foundation, an unscalable wall, is prevalent in our society. Remember that Rome fell from within.

11 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.

The problem with wealth is that it gives the illusion of personal success. People tend to equate integrity and wisdom with wealth (fame works the same way). Not only is it not necessarily the case, but usually the opposite! The quote, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” is true. The more power a person has, the greater his temptation to use his wealth for his own advancement, security, and pleasure, often to the detriment of others.

As Christians, we have Jesus inside us (John 17:26). We need to capitalize on His knowledge, strength, wisdom, leadership and His PLAN all the time every day!

15 The heart of the discerning acquires [first-hand] knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out [from the Spirit].

SOAP

I learned something the other day. I learned what SOAP is. Not the bath soap kind (although, it applies spiritually), but this kind:

S. Scripture- Read the passage.

O. Observation- Observe at least one thing in the passage that you believe God has for you to learn from it.

A. Application- Consider how you may apply this new knowledge to your life today or sometime this week.

P. Prayer- Pray and ask God to give you the knowledge and the skill, the opportunity, and the courage to do it. Ask Him what (and then wait and ponder), ask Him when (wait and ponder), ask Him how (wait and ponder), and then ask Him why (wait and ponder). On this last one, you may not realize the answer until AFTER you are obedient.

Statistically, if we do something the same way for 21 days, it establishes a habit in our lives. If we will “SOAP up” each morning, we will establish a GREAT spiritual habit with our Lord. We will find ourselves growing in our faith and knowledge (both factual and experiential). We may even move up to the next level of spiritual growth!

In the podcast, the speaker asked this question, “How long have you been at your current spiritual level?” If the answer is, “A while,” then he challenged us to get out of the shallows and take what he called, “21 DAYS OF DEEP.” That’s where we SOAP each day for 21 days with the intention of establishing the spiritual habit of SOAP. The goal is to move to the next level of spiritual development by sticking closer to Christ as we keep in step with Him.

NOTE: If you are interested in watching the podcast, text me and I will send you the link.

There are two passages of Scripture that apply. The one from the podcast is Hebrews 5:11-14, which says,

We have much to say about this [obedience through suffering and perfection (wholeness, completeness) through walking with, and becoming like, Christ], but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. (12) In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! (13) Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant [spiritually], is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. (14) But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves [by the Holy Spirit] to distinguish good from evil.

The key to this passage is time. The recipients of this letter had given up trying. The writer was urging them to restart the learning process. IT TAKES TIME.

The one I want to use is Ephesians 5:25-26,

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (26) to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word [our Bibles, God’s words],

When we put these two passages together, we get SOAP! The question we must ask ourselves, and I believe the Holy Spirit asks us each morning, is, “How much do you value the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross?” When we begin to understand just what Christ went through for us, when we consider His leaving heaven for our sake and live 33 years on planet earth to die on a cross and then rise again so that He could live in us and us in him, WE WILL TAKE OUR WALK WITH HIM SERIOUSLY.

Let’s go deep. Are you ready? Dive in!

DIVE by Steven Curtis Chapman

 

 

SOAP

July 18, 2019

I learned something the other day. I learned what SOAP is. Not the bath soap kind (although, it applies spiritually), but this kind:

S. Scripture- Read the passage.

O. Observation- Observe at least one thing in the passage that you believe God has for you to learn from it.

A. Application- Consider how you may apply this new knowledge to your life today or sometime this week.

P. Prayer- Pray and ask God to give you the knowledge and the skill, the opportunity, and the courage to do it. Ask Him what (and then wait and ponder), ask Him when (wait and ponder), ask Him how (wait and ponder), and then ask Him why (wait and ponder). On this last one, you may not realize the answer until AFTER you are obedient.

Statistically, if we do something the same way for 21 days, it establishes a habit in our lives. If we will “SOAP up” each morning, we will establish a GREAT spiritual habit with our Lord. We will find ourselves growing in our faith and knowledge (both factual and experiential). We may even move up to the next level of spiritual growth!

In the podcast, the speaker asked this question, “How long have you been at your current spiritual level?” If the answer is, “A while,” then he challenged us to get out of the shallows and take what he called, “21 DAYS OF DEEP.” That’s where we SOAP each day for 21 days with the intention of establishing the spiritual habit of SOAP. The goal is to move to the next level of spiritual development by sticking closer to Christ as we keep in step with Him.

NOTE: If you are interested in watching the podcast, text me and I will send you the link.

There are two passages of Scripture that apply. The one from the podcast is Hebrews 5:11-14, which says,

We have much to say about this [obedience through suffering and perfection (wholeness, completeness) through walking with, and becoming like, Christ], but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. (12) In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! (13) Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant [spiritually], is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. (14) But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves [by the Holy Spirit] to distinguish good from evil.

The key to this passage is time. The recipients of this letter had given up trying. The writer was urging them to restart the learning process. IT TAKES TIME.

The one I want to use is Ephesians 5:25-26,

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (26) to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word [our Bibles, God’s words],

When we put these two passages together, we get SOAP! The question we must ask ourselves, and I believe the Holy Spirit asks us each morning, is, “How much do you value the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross?” When we begin to understand just what Christ went through for us, when we consider His leaving heaven for our sake and live 33 years on planet earth to die on a cross and then rise again so that He could live in us and us in him, WE WILL TAKE OUR WALK WITH HIM SERIOUSLY.

Let’s go deep. Are you ready? Dive in!

DIVE by Steven Curtis Chapman

Proverbs 17 7-17-19

July 17, 2019

3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.

There is a question that I hear and read a lot. It is, “If God is a loving God, why does He allow ___________ to happen?” It is a worthy question and deserves a worthy answer.

There are, however, a couple of things we should know about this question:

  1. If we are not careful, we place God on the witness stand and demand that He answer our question to our satisfaction. This is definitely the WRONG APPROACH! Instead, let us come humbly to HIS THRONE and ask our question.
  2. It is a foundational question and if we get it wrong, our whole theology is thrown off.

It is a question of FREE WILL. Why would God allow such evil in the world? Because He allows us to make our own decisions. We are free to choose right or wrong, selflessness or selfishness, virtue or vise. When we take each person’s decision and multiply it by all the people who have lived on the earth, add to that the sin nature, and we have the current state of our world.

God wants us to love Him freely and of our own accord, so He created us in His own image. There is a bit of God in us, and that bit is our free will. The danger is that in order for us to CHOOSE to love God, He runs the risk of us NOT choosing God. It’s an “all or none” situation.

I like to read historical Christian fiction. In my latest book, the hero got his leg caught in a bear trap and was healing from it. Being a career soldier, he was having to learn humility:

He had a feeling God was reminding him he had a long way to go, and a desperate need to get there, when it came to being humble. The children liked him better when he behaved with some humility. Which meant he needed to get better at it. That might also be why his leg was throbbing like a sore tooth. It wasn’t bad enough to make him go back, but it made the going hard, uphill on a slippery slope [they were walking].

It kept him humble. But God wouldn’t use a bear trap on a man, would He?

Probably not, but once the bear trap snapped, God was there in many ways. Cam was healing, which honestly was a miracle. But it had laid him low for a long time. That gave him a chance to get to know his daughter and nephew.

Nope, Cam did not believe God snapped that bear trap on his leg. God had an overriding interest in souls, not legs. If God did such a thing as set a trap, He was going to try and trap a soul. And that was a gift from heaven.

I love the phrase, “God had an overriding interest in souls.” God can heal anyone. He proved it through Jesus. God can make the elements do anything. He proved it through Moses. God can save anyone from death. He proved it through Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace (see Daniel 3), but His overriding interest is in souls. He created the world to work a certain way and He works within that order the vast majority of the time.

He will eventually return to set things right. But, that’s His business.

Just for the sake of discussion, let’s consider the name God chose for Moses to identify Him: I AM. It’s in Exodus 3:14. This term describes God as Omnipresent, or everywhere at all times. We tend to think of His presence everywhere, but it also includes time. Hence, God is in the past as well as the future–it’s all one time for Him. HE LIVES IN THE EVER-PRESENT. All of our decisions are NOW for Him. He interacts with us NOW.

The problem is that we are time-oriented. We cannot grasp eternity without trying to put it in the perspective of time. This is the part that requires faith. If God is Omnipresent, is He also Omniscient (all-knowing)? Obviously. To know everything from beginning to end would include everything (by the way, Jesus identifies Himself as the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, in Revelation 22:13). If He is Omniscient, is He Omnipotent (all-powerful)? If we believe that God created the heavens and the earth, and TIME, then, yes, He is.

IN Beth Moore’s DANIEL study, she made these observations from the account of the fiery furnace:

  1. God can save us from the fire. It grows our faith.
  2. God can save us in the fire. It grows our testimony.
  3. God can save us through the fire–straight into the arms of Jesus. It’s our glorification.

It depends on which option we will glorify Him the most. Remember, He’s all about souls and having a personal, ever-present, relationship with them. That includes us!

Let’s allow God to be God and focus on walking with Him, listening to Him, and being obedient to Him. In this way, we glorify Him.

Proverbs 16 7-16-19

July 16, 2019

God loves us despite our sin. He sees us as we are spiritually, looking beyond the sin nature to our new nature in Christ.

2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.

It’s always been this way. God put His PLAN in motion before the foundations of the world were ever laid. His plan to redeem us, to make us His own–again, to make us like Himself with Himself inside us, has always been PLAN A. There has never been a plan B.

All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.”Revelation 13:8

People have the idea that the New Covenant of Jesus was a new idea. 500+ years earlier, Jeremiah the prophet gave us the structure of the New Covenant. Let’s look:

First, we find confirmation of what Solomon said:

“I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve [Old Covenant].” Jeremiah 17:10

Second, we see God restating PLAN A:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. (4) I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt.” Jeremiah 31:3

There are several key elements to this pronouncement:

  1. God’s love is everlasting and irrevocable (Romans 11:29);
  2. God’s kindness is unfailing;
  3. God initiates a relationship with us by drawing us (Revelation 22:17);
  4. God promises to rebuild Jerusalem, which He did–only to tear it down again in 70 A.D., and then rebuild it once again in 1948-49, destroy a third of it again in the future, and then personally rebuild it when Christ comes to reign there;
  5. After describing Israel to be “unfaithful,” He then declares her as, “Virgin Israel,” thus establishing the fact the He is going to transform her–a portend of what is to come.

Later in the chapter, God gives us the details of His PLAN:

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a NEW COVENANT with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. (32) It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and lead them out of Egypt [the Sinai Covenant of Moses], because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them [hence, the term, unfaithful],” declares the LORD.

(33) This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Sound familiar? Let me help: “Here I am [behold]! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.” Revelation 3:18 The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the central point of John 14-16 and Romans 8.

The NEW COVENANT is based upon Jesus living in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. He sees us as He declared Israel as “Virgin Israel.” We are NEW CREATIONS in Christ!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come! (21) God made Jesus who had no sin to be the sin sacrifice for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21

Let’s stop viewing ourselves according to our old nature, which has passed away, and start looking at ourselves through the eyes of Christ: Pure, holy, perfect (mature, complete, whole). He sees us as we will be, so let’s live by faith in His faith in us. We don’t have to understand it, but we do need to believe it.

What is our response to so great a PLAN?

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! (34) “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” (35) Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” (36) For from him and through him and for [to] him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:33-36

 

Proverbs 15 7-15-19

July 15, 2019

Letting Christ’s love flow through us to others: That’s what it’s all about.

9 The LORD detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.

What is the way of the wicked? It is our own way, when we do not seek the way of God, nor do we consider what He wants or what is best for the person or persons with whom we are dealing.

What is righteousness? It is the love of Christ. Christ imparts to us the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21), which is Christ Himself (1 Cor. 1:30). God is love (1 John 4:16) = Christ is love (John 10:30). To live righteously is to let the love of Christ flow through us.

From Crosswalk.com:

Imagine that your life is a fountain. If you focus mostly on yourself, you’ll be too dry or clogged up to flow properly. But if you shift your focus to other people, the living water of God’s love will flow through you to your family, friends, and others throughout your community and the world.

How can we get beyond our feelings to the part where we allow Christ to love through us? Let’s look at what Paul said to the church at Colosse:

(1) Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (3) For you dies, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

I see three things that are important for us to remember:

  1. We have died to sin and self and have been raised to walk in newness of life with Christ (also in Romans 6:4).
  2. We are to set our hearts and minds on the things of Christ. A good list can be found in Philippians 4:8-9, “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy, and whatever we learn from the life of Paul.”
  3. We are to hide our life and allow His life to shine through us. We are to “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge [we are learning it as we go] in the image of its Creator (Col. 3:10).”

Further in the chapter, Paul gives us explicit instructions on how to let the love of Christ flow through us:

(12) Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (13) Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (14) And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (15) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (16) Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly…with gratitude in your hearts.

Let’s start from the top down.

  • Jesus Christ is God. God so loved the world that He came as Jesus to die for us. Having risen again, He is now seated at the right hand of God and rules until God puts all of His enemies under ow His feet (various Scriptures).
  • Jesus gives us peace with God and continuous peace (John 16:33). This peace is designed to rule our hearts. We access His peace when we “pay attention to the tension” and set aside how we feel and do what we “know” the Spirit is telling us to do, which is to love our adversary (we know the word as “enemy,” but the word actually means hostile person, which may not necessarily be an enemy).
  • If we will work on allowing the things mentioned in this passage be our guide to life and relationships, we will have turned from darkness to light thus allowing Christ’s light to shine through us to a dark world (based on John 3:19-21).
  • Starting from the bottom up: If we are grateful for what Christ has done for us, then we are thankful. With thankfulness comes the peace of Christ. This peace gives us the ability to forgive. With forgiveness comes the power of Christ to be kind and compassionate (Eph. 4:32) with all humility, gentleness and patience (Eph. 4:2). As we bear with one another in Christ’s love, we discover an amazing truth: His love, joy and peace gush through us! We FEEL Christ and His pleasure in an amazing way.

Let’s work on allowing the love, peace and joy of Christ to flow through us today. The world–and those around us–are dying to “get a drink.”

Proverbs 14 7-14-19

July 14, 2019

A round TUIT. My dad gave me one. It’s time to get up and get moving. We need to get around to IT!

8 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways.

We read God’s Word and ask ourselves, “How does this apply to my life?”

4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of the ox come abundant harvests.

We read God’s Word to give us tools to do His will, oxen, to apply the verse directly. His strength comes through the oxen, or, His Spirit who interprets and empowers what we read.

1 The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

This weekend has been interesting. My daughter, Hayley, decided to add shelves in much of her closets and cabinets. She has plenty of storage space, but it had a lot of wasted space. We have been busy! “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

It occurred to me that Scripture is like shelves. It gives us structure and order. His Word helps us to organize our lives and prioritize our values, our hopes and dreams, our friendships, our finances, and especially our time. What we must do is READ AND APPLY. Comprehension comes through application.

There is a danger to not filling our lives with the Word. Jesus spoke of it:

“When an impure spirit come out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ (25) When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order [but empty]. (26) Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. Luke 11:24-26

Satan would have us fill our lives with his stuff so that we have no room for the LORD. His Spirit works in us to fill us with Himself. We decide each day–many times a day–with what we will fill our lives.

Today is Sunday. It is a time set aside for God’s people to meet together for encouragement. It’s a time we bless the Lord with our voices and then hear a word from the Lord through the pastor, the Sunday School teacher, and our fellow worshipers. Let’s choose to worship Him together today. It’s one of the ways we show Him we love Him.

“If you love me, keep my commands.” John 14:15

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, (25) not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day [of His Return] approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

Proverbs 13 7-13-19

July 13, 2019

We will spend a lifetime aligning what we know with what we do. The more we know, the more motivation we have to do; the more we do, the better we get at it.

4 A sluggard’s [ungodly person’s] appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent [disciple of Christ] are fully satisfied. 

God has placed His Spirit within us and has given us a hunger for the Bread of Life (His Word) and a thirst for His living Water (His company). Our lives are filled with His love, joy, and peace, His hope and His grace. Even as we are filled, we desire to know Him more. But, a person who does not know Christ, who is not filled with His Spirit, tries to fill that “God-shaped hole” in his heart with all manner of stuff, none of which is capable of filling it. Proverbs says it this way:

25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content, but the stomach of the wicked [those who go their own way] goes hungry.

As the Spirit reveals Jesus to us, we tap into the connection between the Holy Spirit and Jesus. That connection is full and complete; our availability to it has more to do with our download speed. As we grow in Him, our bandwidth increases and our ability to comprehend increases correspondingly. Daily Bible study WILL enhance our connection.

Peter described 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, 1 Peter 1:8

Want to experience this “inexpressible and glorious joy” daily? Talk to God as you read His Word. I heard recently that if you want to hear God speak out loud, simply read His Word out loud. It’s the same thing!

Paul spoke of his desire to enhance his connection with Jesus. NOTICE that I didn’t say, “increase;” that would imply that our connection is not already full and complete, which it is. The word, “enhance,” means, “to raise to a higher degree; to magnify, intensify.” Sounds like praise, doesn’t it? It explains why Paul breaks out into praise in the middle of Romans! Read it in 11:33-36.

As stated in the opening statement, we will spend a lifetime aligning what we know with what we do. The more we know Christ, which comes from spending time with Him–yes, He’s with us always, but we tend to ignore His presence and voice in our lives. We are so used to doing things ourselves our own way that we neglect to check with Him–the more motivation we have to do; the more we do, the better we get at it.

7 But whatever were gains to me [in this life] I now consider loss [hindrances and entanglements-see Heb. 12:1] for the sake of [knowing] Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things [position, status, income, health, material goods, etc]. Philippians 3:7-8

Another definition of, “enhance,” is “to raise in value or price.” Paul considered his relationship with Christ to be invaluable (beyond calculable or appraisable value; of estimable worth; priceless), but he also found his worth, his self-esteem in Christ. He continues:

I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law [the old way of trying to be right with God], but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

Not only is the value of knowing Christ raised as we walk with Him, our view of our value is raised, as well. We see ourselves as He sees us: Treasured, loved, highly esteemed. Even as we feast on these heart-fillers, we desire to know Him more. Paul continues:

10 I want to know [more of] Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection, but also to share in the fellowship of his sufferings [ALL of Christ], becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead [buried with Him in his death, raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4)].

Let’s get good at following Jesus by getting to know Him better. Let’s “keep in step” with the Spirit by reading the Word and allowing Him to apply it to our lives. It’s an “as you go” thing.

“Where He sends we will go, what He says we will do; never fear, only trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy [growing, delighting] in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”