Proverbs 18 9-18-19

September 18, 2019

Where do you get your joy? Your foundation for strength? Your impetus? I get mine from knowing that Jesus is coming soon!

(10) The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

We trust in the name of Jesus for salvation. We trust in His promise that He is coming back. In fact, all of history gives us perspective on God and His plan for His children. The strong tower in which we trust is based upon what He has done and what He has told us will happen soon. Let’s take a look at the covenants that God has made with certain people throughout history:

God’s covenant with Noah-

“I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

Let’s look closely at this covenant:

  • It’s with all mankind and all living creatures. Not really understanding from where the waters came caused fear that it may happen again. God promised that it wouldn’t. Knowing what we know now, we understand why God would make such a promise. There was a hydroplate below the landmass of what is called Pangea. God pierced the hydroplate with His “finger” causing air to hit superheated water. The ensuing expansion of the superheated water split the earth beginning somewhere around Caesarea Philippi, heading down into the Indian Ocean and then splitting to go east, turning up the coast of the Americas, coming around Alaska, and heading back down the Asian coast to meet itself near New Zealand, and west, turning up the Atlantic and going all the way to near the north pole. Once this water quit expanding and everything cooled off, the broken land masses settled down into their current positions. This spectacular occurrence CANNOT happen again geologically.
  • The rainbow, which is an article from God’s very throne (see Rev. 4:3), was placed in the sky when storm clouds gather. This phenomenon happened with the clouds, which showed up because of the flood, as light was refracted through them. There were no rainbows before the Flood because there were no storms.
  • God’s sign is unalterable until He brings forth the New Jerusalem and the new heavens and new earth (Rev. 21-22). How that Day comes about is still a mystery, but we do have some clues given in 2 Peter: 10-13,

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

Whether it is a complete meltdown, which would usher in the new heavens and the new earth, or a restoring of earth to its former glory, which would usher in the Millennium and Christ’s physical reign in Jerusalem, we don’t know. All we know is that God has a plan and we can run to the stronghold of this Plan and be safe. “Don’t worry; be happy (in Jesus).”

Tomorrow, we will look at God’s covenant with Abraham and how it is still in effect today.  In the meantime, let’s take great comfort in God’s providence concerning our world and our future.

Abba, I love reading about Your interaction with people. I love the way You interact with me. Thank You for providing a way for us to be close. My heart goes out to those of the OT who couldn’t know You like I know You. I envy those of the NT who got to walk with You when You were on earth. I hurt for those who don’t know you now, especially those who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge You. Speak to their hearts, O God. They are deceived. Reveal TRUTH to them in dreams and visions. May they give their hearts and lives to You even as I have done. May it be soon because You are coming soon. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Amen.

 

Proverbs 17 9-17-19

September 17, 2019

Ready for God to use you? Isn’t that for what you signed up? He uses willing vessels, not necessarily filled vessels.

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

To be filled with knowledge is good, but to be filled with His Spirit is much better! There is a paradox at work in our lives, which is that the more we know, the less we depend upon Him to work through us. What’s funny is that the thing we need to learn the most is to be completely dependent upon Him!

I’ve heard it said that God equips the called rather than calling the equipped. If we want true equipping, we can talk to a doctor who has been through what he treats, like juvenile leukemia. Was that NOT the kind of knowledge we meant? Would anyone voluntarily go through something like that in order to sympathize with his patients and to be able to treat them more accurately*? None of whom I am aware. We could easily use breast cancer or diabetes for examples. Those we know who are going through times of “testing” with these examples are learning to walk with Jesus VERY closely.

Beth Moore gives three Scenarios in her study on Daniel concerning fiery trials in our lives. It is based upon the account of the three Hebrew men and the fiery furnace:

Scenario A: We can be delivered from the fire.

Dividend: Our faith is built.

Scenario B: We can be delivered through the fire.

Dividend: Our faith is refined.

Scenario C: We can be delivered by the fire straight into the arms of Jesus!

Dividend: Our faith is perfected.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7

The word, “proven,” is showing on the outside what is already on the inside. If our intention is to bring praise, glory and honor to Jesus Christ, then we are ready for whatever comes our way and however He wants to use us.

Looking beyond this world to His world is something with which each of us must come to terms. He wants us with Him (John 17:24), and we know that eventually we all go to be with Him. When and how are up to His plan and how we choose to fit into it.

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Are we ready and willing to be put in harm’s way, to go through the crucible, for the Lord’s glory? to win someone to Christ? to show people that our faith is real and that Jesus is real? Let’s renew our commitment to Him this morning!

Dear Lord Jesus, I commit myself once again to Your will and Your way. May You use me in whatever capacity You decide. I just want to be available to You. My life is Yours. Amen.

* Jesus did. 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

Proverbs 16 9-16-19

September 16, 2019

Who runs your life? If you are not checking with the Spirit every so often each day, then I would say YOU are.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. NLT

There are two sides to this statement. One is the side of making our plans. Are we including the Lord in these decisions? Are we asking Him for guidance and seeking precedent in His Word? Are we seeking wisdom and experience from godly people? Are we staying pliable as we work toward a goal? All of these questions have to do with the second side of the statement. God will either be a happy participant in our decision-making process, or He will be the judge of our arrogant ways.

We are reminded in this chapter that “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall (18).” Even our viewpoint needs to be different than the world, “(19) Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” Our job as Christians is to be Christ to those around us. Some of it has to do with our response to people’s actions, but most of it has to do with our response to people’s words. Are we responding or reacting?

Reaction- “a reverse movement or tendency; an action in a reverse direction or manner.” Dictionary.com The idea is to fight kind with kind, such as fire with fire. The world teaches to meet the force with equal or more force, i.e. with “extreme prejudice.” This is NOT the way of Christ.

Response- “an answer or reply, as in words or in some action.” Dictionary.com To do it Christ’s way means that we must think about what He wants us to say, and to do it in a tone that conveys what He wants us to convey.

Displaying Christ to the world is begging for trouble. Yet, it is EXACTLY what He asks us to do. We must depend upon the Holy Spirit to be involved in people’s lives as He uses us to convict their hearts. Will they acknowledge and receive His Spirit? We don’t know. We are simply part of the process for which we signed up–you did, didn’t you?! Salvation is about forgiveness of sins and a home in heaven, but it’s MUCH MORE than than. It’s a mission to become little Christs here on earth. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the world is through us, the Church. We are extensions of Christ, ambassadors for Him to the world.

Here are some key verses pertaining to this calling:

20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20

18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.” John 15:18-21

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you [put you into action], as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good [as the Spirit directs]. 1 Peter 4: 12-16, 19

If we walk closely with Christ for very long, we will meet people who are opposed to Christ and even hostile to Christ. Let’s be Christ to them. We will also meet people who profess Christ, but do not know Him personally; they have not made Him their Lord. Let’s be Christ to them. We will also meet people who know Him and serve Him and we have sweet fellowship with them. Let’s be Christ to them, as well.

Lord Jesus, as we walk through this day, how may I serve You best? Put me in positions to encourage, inspire, and instruct. May I be You to those around me. Use me as You see fit, O Lord. You are my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.

 

Proverbs 15 9-15-19

September 15, 2019

Our attitude toward church tells us a lot about our spiritual condition. Church is not about us; it’s for us.

This morning, we are going to look at a set of verses in this chapter.

The house of the righteous contains great treasure,
    but the income of the wicked brings ruin.

Having the Lord as the Ruler of our house and the Leader of our home brings us great treasure on a spiritual basis, relational basis, and even monetary basis (more in savings rather than earnings).

The lips of the wise spread knowledge,
    but the hearts of fools are not upright.

We must get our hearts right before we can spread knowledge. This verse is BIG for teachers, especially Bible teachers.

The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
    but the prayer of the upright pleases him.

“Relationship above ritual.” God is interested in US, not what we can give Him or do for Him.

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

If we love the Lord, we will pursue His ways; we will want to be like Him; we will stay close to Him; we will desire His presence and participation over all else.

10 Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path;
    the one who hates correction will die.

It’s not that God is waiting to hit us with a big mallet–but life is! Satan uses every opportunity to make us doubt, suffer, and quit serving the Lord. Discipline and correction are the way to life if we will just receive it.

11 Death and Destruction lie open before the Lord
    how much more do human hearts!

We can’t keep anything secret from the Lord. Why do we even try? He knows us and loves us anyway! In fact, the very fight that we have with ourselves concerning right and wrong is what makes us most like Him. Jesus chose right every time. Let’s strive to be like Him. He’s rooting for us!

12 Mockers resent correction,
    so they avoid the wise.

It all comes down to attitude. A mocker is not interested in God’s opinion or ways. The child of God must kill this part of himself in order to seek God’s face and opinion.

What happens if we begin to kill the mocker in us and seek God’s face and opinion?

  • We begin to understand the we are always before the Lord. We merely have to turn to Him and there He is!
  • We begin to see His loving discipline and correction are for our good. He is a Loving Father.
  • As we pursue righteousness, we feel His love pouring over us. Proverbs 1:23 comes true: “If you repent at my rebuke, I will pour out my heart to you and make my thoughts known to you.”
  • As we focus on our relationship with Him in Bible study and prayer, we lose our fear of punishment–not that we think He won’t, but that we live in the safety of His presence as we walk with Him. His teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training are reserved for His children: Us! It’s part and parcel with our relationship with Him.
  • When our hearts are right with Him, then our lips will speak knowledge and in a loving way.
  • Our spiritual houses will contain great treasure as He pours into us His wisdom, understanding, and knowledge (see Proverbs 24:3-4).

This morning, as we go to church, let’s remember that it’s the place we go to corporately worship the Lord, practice our Christlikeness, and learn more about walking with God.

Abba, may You be honored, magnified, and glorified as we lift up the name of Jesus today. Be president in our lives and not just resident. May we love on each other, especially the EGR’s (extra grace required). Who knows? Someone may include ME in that group! May I feel Your pleasure as I spend time with our family in worship today. Amen.

 

Proverbs 14 9-14-19

September 14, 2019

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Our journey’s end is the throne of God. Remember that.

(18) The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

I wonder if life is not like driving a car. If we don’t keep our eyes on the road, we can end up in a ditch or take a wrong turn. Have you ever been adjusting the radio and found that you have drifted to the shoulder of the road? It’s even worse with cell phones!

In this verse, the simple got what was coming to them–and they didn’t have to do anything! They simply “lived.”

The prudent were intentional about what was going on around them. They read; they listened; they applied what they learned. They were crowned with knowledge. This knowledge is of God, about God and His plan for the human race, individually and collectively.

Individually- The Holy Spirit lives in each of God’s children and is raising us up to be like Christ and to eventually be WITH Christ.

Collectively- Jesus Christ will one day step out of heaven and come back to earth to rule. The events leading up to His Return are becoming more evident by the day!

In Matthew 11:12, we find a cryptic verse, “And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.” Prophesying was bad enough to get you killed, or at least, persecuted. Announcing the fulfillment of prophecy is what John the Baptist endured as well as Jesus.

If we look at the Christian news, we find that the Muslims are coming to Christ by the thousands as Christ is coming to them in dreams and visions. The world stage is being set for a one-world currency, a global market, and eventually, a global leader and religion. I believe that there are many in our nation’s leadership that would push us toward this eventuality. Only The Restrainer holds them back (2 Thess. 2:7). The Restrainer, who is the Holy Spirit, resides in each of us. If we are taken away, then so is the Spirit. Does this mean that people can’t be saved if the Rapture comes before Christ returns? No. It means that God will raise up an army of evangelists– 144,000 to be exact (Rev. 7:1-8, 9:4) to continue to build His church during the Very Last Days (Rev. 11:13, 12:11).

Let’s quit fiddling with the radio and focus on our driving. Let’s learn all we can according to the Word of God. Let’s do some research and see what God is doing in other countries, especially Israel. She is still God’s chosen people. The Sinai Covenant was fulfilled by Jesus, but the Covenant to Abraham will not be fulfilled until King David returns with Christ to sit on the throne of Israel. Ezekiel shared with us:

18 “When your people ask you, ‘Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ 19 say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’ 20 Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on 21 and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land [This pilgrimage has been going on since 1867 and climaxed in 1948 with the rebirth of the nation of Israel]. 22I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. [We are still looking for this prophecy to be fulfilled.]

24 “‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees.25 They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever.26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’” Revelation 21 and 22 describe the joining of Heaven and earth with God’s throne among the people. It will be amazing!!!

Abba, I can hardly wait to see how Your Plan will unfold. Will You come, Lord Jesus, during my lifetime? What an amazing realization that You may! If not, then I will get to watch from the other side and come back with You as You establish Your eternal reign on earth. Exciting times, Lord. May I keep the main thing–Your Plan– the main thing in my life. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 13 9-13-19

September 13, 2019

Doing what Jesus asks is what Christianity is all about. Are we listening? Are we even in the same room?!

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

Our terminology has changed since Solomon’s time. We tend to think of the Spirit’s instruction and commands as urgings and suggestions. I think it’s because we know the LORD on such an intimate level that we see His love and gentleness and patience first. What we must do is look beyond His compassion to His Lordship and leadership.

We are called…by Whom? to what?

(6) And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. Romans 1:6

(28) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

We belong to Jesus Christ. We have been bought by His blood on the cross. He paid a heavy price for us. We should be grateful.

We have been called according to His purpose, which is to be extensions of Him to this world. He came to show us the way and to pay the price. He then returned to His place by the Father’s side. Through His Spirit, we were recruited to be His ambassadors in this world.

The Great Commission, given in Matthew 28:19-20, is usually translated, “Go.” A better way to look at it is, “As you go.” The idea is to be intentional about making disciples as we live our daily lives. The method we use is determined by the person to whom we are talking. Some people come from a Christian background and will understand the lingo we use. Some will come from a religious background that actually gets in the way of understanding because of twisted theology. Some will have no basis at all for comprehending what we are telling them. We must give the Spirit time to cultivate a willing heart. In the meantime, we are to DEMONSTRATE Christ’s love just as He did for us. (8) But God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

“But what if it costs me something?”

“What if it hurts?”

“What if it means watching a loved one suffer?”

“What if I die, or my loved one dies?”

First, let’s remember that Christ showed us the way as a Suffering Servant. Second, don’t forget that He has a NEW WORLD awaiting us! With NEW BODIES! Third, let’s look at the example left by the disciples:

(41) The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Acts 5:41 They had been flogged because they wouldn’t quit preaching the Name of Christ (verse 40). So, what did they do? Go and hide and never speak Jesus’ name again? NO! (42) Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. 

What we must do as modern day Christians is to quit living like we belong to this world and start living like we belong to Christ and His world. We start by yielding our lives to Him each morning–even before coffee!

Are you worthy? Paul–from prison, no less– exhorts the Ephesian church to (4:1) “live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (2) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (3) Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Are we willing to do as Paul said?

Where do we start? In our homes. If we can do it at home, then we can do it anywhere.

At church. It’s the practice field for our faith. If we can do it there, then we can do it anywhere.

At work, the ballfield, the lake, the mall, while driving (for those inside our cars as well as outside), Walmart, etc. They are where the Gospel needs to be demonstrated.

Just so you know, I’m preaching to myself here. May we all heed His instruction and follow His commands.

Abba, I know what to do; now, give me the desire and the power to do it! In Your name and for Your name, Amen.

Proverbs 12 9-12-19

September 12, 2019

Everything we say and everything we do has a reward or a consequence. We don’t set the standard; God does.

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

We take our cue from Jesus, who  was powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.” Luke 24:19

We learn from the Apostle Paul that we are to value highly what we say and do:

(17) And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

What is interesting is that in order to have control over our words, we must have control over our minds and thoughts, which also gives us power over our actions.

Verses on taking control of our thoughts:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments [in our minds] and every pretension [lie and deception] that sets itself up against the knowledge of God [that which is counter to His holiness], and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5  We are in a battle everyday!

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy [His grace poured out on us], to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice [climb up on the altar], holy and pleasing to God [this is how we are in God’s sight because of the blood of Jesus]—this is your true and proper worship [we worship out of gratitude in our hearts!].Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind [through prayer and Bible study]. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will [for each word and deed]. Romans 12:1-2

How seriously we take these verses and the task of yielding our words and deeds to the LORD speaks loudly about where we think we stand in God’s eyes. Jesus said this to Simon the Pharisee:

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:41-47

How much do we think we have been forgiven? Let’s let this question determine how hard we try in the area of mastering our words and deeds. Just remember that our dependence upon the Holy Spirit is the sure way to victory. To do it in our own power is actually counter-productive for a Christian. It is trying to use pre-salvation methods to gain post-salvation fruit. Let’s call on Him who has given us love and grace, encouragement and hope, to strengthen us in every good deed and word.

16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Proverbs 11 9-11-19

September 11, 2019

Today is 9/11. We remember that tragic day when we saw the extent of evil in this world. Were it not for the Spirit, where would we be?

(18) A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.

We have a fight inside of us. Were the Holy Spirit not present in our lives, there would be no fight. We would be easily won over to a cause, to temptation, to seduction, and would be easy prey for the Enemy (Satan). Anything we could justify we would do with no guilt–on the contrary, we would feel satisfaction! Proverbs 15:21 tells us that “folly delights a person who has no sense [Holy Spirit].” 

But, we DO have the Holy Spirit, therefore we struggle each day to overcome our base desires and to do what pleases Him. Knowing that I am already pleasing to Him positionally helps, but it doesn’t erase the heaviness I feel when I have to fight so hard–and often lose–to submit my fleshly desires to the Spirit. I want what I want! But, more than I want what I want, I have a higher desire, which is to please the Lord Jesus. Therefore, I work really hard to “put to death” my natural desires and lean on Him. It’s one of the times that I feel closest to Him. He shares my struggle.

Verses that support this process:

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do [even while loving it].16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me [he is not saved at this point], that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing [even when he tries to do good, he can’t sustain it].20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it [we are all slaves to sin].

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me [his own base desires–his flesh], waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

To a certain extent, we still live here. As long as we are in these “old covenant” bodies, we will fight the natural desires of this flesh. But, look at what Jesus has done for us:

8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 7:14-8:2

In the Greek, this phrase reads, “Therefore, NO CONDEMNATION!!! for those who are in Christ Jesus!” This is the part we live by faith: to receive according to His word that we are pleasing to Him.

As for Him sharing my struggle,

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

Dear Lord Jesus, may I take advantage of Your grace and humbly submit myself to You today. My hope is that by staying in Your presence, I would have Your perspective of sin and temptation and be able to resist it. May I not turn my back on You in order to sin, O Lord! In so many ways, I am still like a 2-year-old spiritually. Grow me up, Lord. Give me wisdom so that I CAN see from Your perspective, but I will need Your strength and Your power in order to actually overcome sin and temptation in my life. I can NEVER do it on my own. Fill me up, Lord, with Your Presence. I will certainly need Your Participation. Amen.

Proverbs 10 9-10-19

September 10, 2019

Planes fly in holding patterns; humans do, too. Bitterness is one of those holding patterns. It’s time to land that plane!

(12) Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs.

Bitterness begins as righteous indignation. We have been offended! We either strike out at the person or we withdraw our fellowship from that person. A simple apology may not be enough; we want retribution! Bitterness, when fully formed, turns into hate, which leaves no room for the love of God in our hearts.

Jesus dealt with this attitude in the Sermon on the Mount. He said, (3) “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust [a person’s weakness] in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank [of self-righteousness and judgemental attitude] in your own eye? (4) How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? (5) You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5

A big problem with harboring bitterness in our hearts is that it affects those around us. We become cynical, rude, and hateful. We lose our joy and our hearts grow cold toward the Lord and others. Bitterness is also an attitude that can spread to our spouses and our children(17) Whoever heeds discipline [the Lord’s way] shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction [stubbornly refuses to let go of the root of bitterness] leads others astray. Proverbs 10:17

Children see through us because they live with us and know us–sometimes better than we know ourselves. They watch to see if our words match our actions, our faith matches our preaching, and if our walk matches our talk. They may even reject our faith because they do not see us living what we say we believe. They conclude that it must not be real. We MUST deal with our bitterness and hatefulness, people!

God is very clear about what to do with bitterness:

(30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (31) Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (32) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:30-32

It really comes down to trust: Do we trust the Lord enough to know that He will take care of the situation? Do we allow the situation to drive us to His throne for comfort and fellowship with Him? Instead of staring at a person’s wrong, do we lift our heads to gaze at His face? Only HE can give us the strength and courage–and even the desire–to forgive. Pray for compassion. We are most like Jesus when we are compassionate.

(36) When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd [and these were the people who would eventually kill Him]. Matthew 9:36

We don’t get a “by” on this one, but we do get a second chance. All we have to do is turn to the Father and say something like, “Lord, I give you this situation. It wasn’t fair, nor was it right, but I am letting go of it and handing it to You. Give me love and compassion in the place of bitterness and hurt. I know it may take a while for me to feel the change; it is enough to know that You are working in me to effect that change. Thank You for Your love for me and Your patience with me. Amen.” Just know that you may have to pray this prayer each day for a year!

If we allow our struggles to whisk us to the throne of Grace (Heb. 4:16), we have effectively transformed our potential fellowship-breakers into worship makers!

(16) Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Proverbs 9 9-9-19

September 9, 2019

I am reminded one more time that we are travelers in this world headed for a better one: God’s home!

(10) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

We are of two mindsets.

One is of this world in that we live here, we move and breathe here, we love here and experience all sorts of happiness and tragedy, along with a range of emotions.

The other is of heaven and all that is going on there. We join those already around the throne for worship and enjoy sweet fellowship with the Son at His throne; we walk with the Spirit 24/7; we have the aroma of Christ! (see 2 Cor. 2:15)

Christians view this world through the lens of heaven. Our biggest question is, “LORD, what will please You the most?” It’s based on one of my favorite verses:

(10) and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:10

Pretty simple, really. The best way is to ask Him. His Spirit will show you what will please Him the most. Know that you are already pleasing to Him as a person; we are talking about conduct. In our relationships here on this earth, we are to conduct ourselves like children of the King.

(12) Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young [or old, for that matter], but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Let’s set an example today of whose we are. Let’s begin by spending time with the LORD Jesus in prayer and Bible study so that we know our assignment. To be pure in thought is to be one-minded. Let’s focus on being heavenly minded today by constantly asking the Spirit, “What do You want me to do next?”

Lord Jesus, I have prayed and read Your Word. I have tuned in, so now I want to stay tuned in as we walk through this day. May I focus on Your voice as I go about my business, and may I enjoy Your Presence and Participation in my life today. May I be a model Christian so that others see Jesus in me. Help me when I stumble to learn from the experience even as You help me up. May I be stronger in my conviction to be like You with each failure and reset. Thank You, Lord, for wanting a relationship with me. You knew what You were getting! It’s all about YOU. Amen.

Proverbs 8 9-8-19

September 8, 2019

Science follows the evidence no matter where it leads, yet we tend to view it according to what we want it to say.

27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
    when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above
    and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary
    so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.

It doesn’t get much plainer than this concerning creation. Who is “He” mentioned in these verses?

30     Then I was constantly/the craftsman at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
    rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world
    and delighting in mankind.

This “He” is Jesus Christ!

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. Hebrews 1:2

If there is a question about the Bible, we must realize that our knowledge is incomplete. God waited until mankind invented the microscope to reveal His creation processes to us. One merely has to look at the human cell to find that there is NO WAY that it could have self-created! It is FAR too complex and each part depends upon the other.

It comes down to what we want to see. In Creation, I see the hand of a loving God, One who takes part in His creation and wants me to interact with Him. I am awed by all that He has made and I rejoice in it.

This morning, I invite you to join me, at your respective churches, to exalt the Lord God and to praise His name. He invites us to come to His throne together and eat with Him! WOW!

See you there!

Abba, thank You for the invitation. I will gladly take you up on it! Amen.

Proverbs 7 9-7-19

September 7, 2019

Every once in a while, we need a remembrance stone, a place or event that reminds us of whose we are and our calling.

(24) Now then, my sons [and daughters], listen to me; pay attention to what I say. (25) Do not let your heart turn to her [temptation] ways our stray into her paths.

Robin and I are at FALLS CREEK. We are here for a Singing Churchwomen retreat for which we play percussion during the year. This place holds a special place in my heart:

  1. In 1975, my friend, Howard Harper, and I re-committed our lives to Christ.
  2. In 1980, I responded to God’s call to serve Him in vocational ministry.
  3. I also met the love of my life here as we worked on staff together that summer and the next.
  4. We had numerous retreats here as I was growing up, and then for eight years I brought my own youth groups here.

Needless to say, Falls Creek is special to me. It’s like a remembrance stone:

1 When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, 2 “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
8 So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the LORD had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. 9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day. – Joshua 4:1-9

Where is your place of remembrance? Where is it that you can visit to “recapture the moment?” Maybe it’s time to visit there again and renew the covenant between you and God. I can assure you that it will be a time of refreshing.

Dear LORD Jesus, thank You for my place of remembrance, for Falls Creek. Renew my heart even as I renew my vow to You, my LORD and my God. Amen.

Proverbs 6 9-6-19

September 6, 2019

Our main goal is not to live a sinless life, but to have Christ formed in us. The other will come in time.

(21) bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck.

Where do we learn to be like Christ?

  1. From the Gospels- Christ’s own words, written down by inspiration of the Holy Spirit by godly men, compel us to imitate Him and to obey Him.
  2. From Paul’s letters- He was shown the Master Plan by the Master.
  3. From Peter’s and John’s letters- Both men walked with Christ. They were given the task of leading the Church after its creation–always by the leading of the Holy Spirit.
  4. The Old Testament- Knowing the overall plan and by reading about God’s interaction with our forefathers gives us depth and a foundation for our faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
  5. From other Christians- Their experience is important to our faith. We can avoid many pitfalls and traps through their wisdom and experience.

Paul wrote to the Galatians, who were having problems with false teachers trying to lead them back into Judaism, and said:

(19) My dear children, whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, Galatians 4:19

Let’s learn a lesson from the Jeremiah when he was at the potter’s house:

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to himThen the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.

Isaiah, too, knew the message of the potter:

Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

Today, may we determine in our hearts that we will be soft and malleable in the hands of our Lord and Savior. May we kill our pride and our flesh (sinful nature) and put on our new nature in the Spirit, the one created in true holiness and righteousness (Eph. 4:24). Let’s allow Christ to be formed in us TODAY!

Abba, this is my plea and goal today. May people see Jesus in me as You are formed in me. Amen.

Proverbs 5 9-5-19

September 5, 2019

Paying attention is vital. It’s easier to let someone else to lead or do the details, but it doesn’t excuse us when something goes wrong.

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

Each morning, the Holy Spirit whispers these words to us. We recognize them as, “I probably should get up and spend some time reading my Bible and praying.” We stand our best chance of having a successful day spiritually if we begin our day by aligning ourselves with Him.

Wandering aimlessly through our day ignoring the Spirit is the best way I know to find pitfalls and traps set by Satan. The adulteress mentioned in this chapter fell into one:

(5) Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. (6) She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it. (22) The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them [her]; the cords of their sins hold them [her] fast.

I think one of the reasons people can ask Christ for salvation and then deny Him access to their daily lives is because we do not teach them to fear the LORD. Before salvation, that fear is actual dread; after salvation, it should be a reverential fear, one of awe and respect. We should never forget that He disciplines those He loves (Heb. 12:7-8).

Let’s take three examples from the Bible: Moses, Isaiah, and Paul.

Moses- According to Numbers 12:3, “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” How did he get that way? By spending time with the LORD. He learned that he had no power within himself (Ex. 4:10). He relied upon the LORD telling him what to do and where to lead the Israelites. Being in the presence of God reminds us that HE is God and we are NOT!

Isaiah- He was shone the throne of God! He experienced the splendor of His majesty and the glory of the LORD which filled the entire temple. His response? (5) “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Isaiah 6:5. THIS response is the response of every human who stands before the LORD. Isaiah was cleansed by a coal from the altar; we are cleansed by the same blood from that altar, the blood of Jesus!

Paul- On the road to Damascus, Paul immediately recognized that he was in the presence of Jesus. (5) “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. Acts 9:5. What was Paul’s response to learning that it was Jesus? (9) For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. He was humbled. Throughout Paul’s ministry, his assessment of God became greater even while his assessment of himself lowered and lowered. Early in his ministry, he considered himself the least of the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:9). In the middle of his ministry, he considered himself the least of the brethren (Ephesians 3:8). At the end of his ministry, his opinion of himself had fallen to being the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:16). For Paul’s analytical breakdown of himself–and us, read Romans 7:7-25, but be sure to read 8:1-4, too (it’s the best part).

As we spend time with God today, let’s be in reverential awe of Him that He would deign to live in our hearts and fellowship with us! That in itself is reason enough to spend time in prayer and Bible study!

Dear LORD, may I never lose the awe of Your presence in my life. When I come to You, I recognize my own unworthiness, yet I am encouraged by Your Spirit because in You I am worthy. Help me to “put on Christ” as I go through my day. Teach me to put off everything in my life that hurts me and/or others, and what keeps me from You. I love King David’s words and adopt them for myself: (4) One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of he LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4. Your temple is in me, now. May I never forget that! Let’s walk. Amen.

Proverbs 4 9-4-19

September 4, 2019

Who is at work in us? Jesus is at work in us! He loves renovation jobs! He enjoys the work and our fellowship.

(6) Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.

King Solomon did not know God as we know God. He knew Him from a dream in which God asked him what he desired God to do for him (2 Chronicles 1:7-12). We do not know if God contacted Solomon again his entire life.

We, on the other hand, have Christ living in our hearts! We get to talk to Him ALL THE TIME! Oh, what wondrous love that He would desire a steady relationship with me, and all His adopted brothers and sisters. More than that, God Himself fellowships with us through the Spirit of Christ Who lives in us. I pray that this revelation never gets old to us!

I was reading this morning and a phrase stuck out at me. Most of the time when that happens, it’s the Holy Spirit emphasizing that part of Scripture. Here ’tis:

(20) Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, (21) equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

We know that Christ lives in our hearts (Eph. 3:17); we know that His Spirit is our seal of salvation (2 Cor. 1:22); we know that His Spirit gives us the desire and the power to do His will (Phil. 2:13); we know that He is pleased to do this for us (Eph. 1:9).

God is building His house and using us to do it (Eph. 2:19-22). Why? I believe that He loves the interaction. He loves us and wants to spend time with us, so by using us to reach others and help others gives Him the opportunity to teach us, rebuke us (when we don’t listen), correct us (like a father would his son when he is learning to sand a board), and train us through exercises and obstacle courses–although our courses are real!

The problem is that when we spend time with the Father, we are both satisfied and dissatisfied at the same time. By experiencing the majesty and glory of the Father–even a little bit–and the love, joy and peace that exude from Him, we become dissatisfied with the things of this world. They no longer hold their appeal. It is enough to know that God is working in me what is pleasing to Him.

Paul had the same struggle:

20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

Peter knew this joy of which we are speaking:

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

If we feel this inexpressible and glorious joy now, imagine what it will be like to stand in His presence new and complete in our glorious bodies, with no sin nature, forever! Folks, THAT’S something worth looking forward to and working toward!

Lord Jesus, may You complete the work You have started in my heart and life (Phil. 1:6). I am looking forward to spending eternity with You and my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. In the meantime, may I focus on You, turning to you often during the day, and enjoy this limited version of life until You call me home. Use me any way you like; I am Yours. Then, Abba, bring me home to You! I am counting the days…Amen.

Proverbs 3 9-3-19

September 3, 2019

Only those who have been adopted know the significance of what God did for us. The rest of us simply marvel!

(11) My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, (12) because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

When we accepted the invitation by God to allow Him to save us, He picked us up, cleaned us up, placed His Spirit within us, dressed us up, signed adoption papers and sealed them up, and then sat us next to Him in the heavenly realms.

Best verse I’ve read lately:

(6) Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” Galatians 4:6 [\[“Abba” means “Daddy”]

It is the Spirit who lives in us that helps us cry out to our heavenly Father. The following verse goes even further:

(7) So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Why would God do such a thing? Because He loves us! God is GOOD. Everything He thinks, plans and does flows out of His goodness. People ask why God would allow such evil in the world. IT’S NOT BECAUSE HE LIKES IT. He loves mankind so much and wants us to have the choice to follow Him. With that choice come blessings and consequences. Our choices are what cause evil in this world. We all live with the consequences of other people’s bad choices, just as the next generation will live with ours.

God’s goodness and love are expressed in Jesus Christ. Consider these verses:

(3) At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. (4) But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, (5) he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, (6) whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, (7) so that having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:3-7

Folks, it doesn’t get any better than that! He doesn’t see us as sinners in need of punishment; He sees us as lost sheep in need of a Shepherd, as lost children in need of a Father, as sinners in need of a Savior!

The next time you are asked, “Why does God allow evil in this world?” be sure to tell them about CHOICE and GOD’S INVITATION. Their question is the perfect segue into the Gospel.

Abba, I pray that we all would grasp the significance of what You have done for us. I am Yours, LORD, lock, stock, and barrel. To know that I am adopted into Your family frees me to love You with all my heart and with abandon. I no longer have to worry about not pleasing You–I am already pleasing to You, and Your Spirit keeps me that way. May I listen closely to You today as we walk together in sweet fellowship. Amen.

Proverbs 2 9-2-19

September 2, 2019

Christ promises us His protection–but from what? Should our lives be a bed of roses? What about the thorns?

(6) for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

To believe that Christ as promised to protect us from bad things happening is not only wrong doctrine, but downright dangerous to our faith. In fact, it’s faith in the wrong god! Satan would have us think that God is like a candy machine: we put “money” in and out come blessings. This “god” doesn’t exist. “Name it and claim it” only works concerning God’s will and His characteristics, such as His love, His grace, and His desire to see all people come to Christ. God arranges for us to be put into dark places so that our lights can shine for Him.

There is a passage in Philippians that deals with our lights, but it is usually used for just the first part of the passage:

(14) Do everything without grumbling or arguing,

The rest of the passage is the “why:”

(15) so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky (16) as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16a.

From this passage, we learn:

  1. Our actions either point people to Christ or turn them away from Christ. Let’s work to draw all people to Christ through how we treat each other. “And they’ll know we are Christians By Our Love.”
  2. We want people to “see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16.” Our good deeds of being the hands and feet of Christ, of being Christ to a lost world, draw attention to the Father and give the Spirit opportunity to speak to their hearts.
  3. We live in a warped and crooked generation. What is interesting is that Paul was quoting Deuteronomy 32:5, which tells us that Moses, too, lived in a warped and crooked generation. Things haven’t gotten any better! How do we live in it without being sucked into it? By staying close to the Source of our flame!
  4. Just like the stars, we display God’s invisible qualities–His eternal power and His divine nature [of goodness and and faithfulness] (Romans 1:20).
  5. Holding firmly to the word of life is KEY.

Yesterday in Sunday’s Cool (Sunday School), we were discussing the question of the difference of studying the Bible personally and discussing the Bible in a group setting. When we are in a group setting, our attention is on whoever is speaking; we learn truth from each other. When we study the Bible alone, our attention is on Him who is speaking to us through the Scriptures; we learn truth straight from the Source. Both are good and necessary to be well-rounded and complete in our faith, but one has priority: Reading the Word of God for ourselves to hear Him speak to us personally.

Life is a rollercoaster ride–sometimes in the dark! It has ups and downs, corkscrews and loops. Never fear! There IS a destination: Heaven. In the meantime, let’s let our lights shine for Christ in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. May we say as Paul said:

(12) I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (13) I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

Abba, as I walk through this life, I realize what You mean by having to “hate” this life and even my loved ones for You. If I am going to be available for You to use in ANY situation, then I must be willing to lay down my life at any time–even to watch my loved ones lay down their lives for You. May I not “shrink from death (Rev. 12:11)” when my time comes. I ask only this: That someone would be brought to saving faith in Jesus Christ through my sacrifice. May Your will, and Your will ALONE, be done. Amen.

Proverbs 1 9-1-19

September 1, 2019

Many Christians forget that they have Christ in them. They receive Christ–and then forget that they received Christ!

(20) Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; (21) on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech:

God speaks to all people through the wonderful complexity and beauty of our world. With each new invention, we find ways to discover the marvelous works of our Creator.

The heaven declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (2) Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. Psalm 19:1-2

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20

Today in Sunday’s Cool (Sunday School), we are looking at the Monarch butterfly. It comes up from its home in Mexico and migrates north into America for four generations, each butterfly living 2-4 weeks. In the fifth generation, its life is extended to nine months and it flies back to its home in Mexico. Why? Because God programmed it that way! There is no explanation by (D)Evolution for this behavior.

The Fool- a person who knows what is right, but chooses wrong instead.

Right now, I’ll bet you’re thinking that I’m talking about evolutionists–and you’re right, to a certain extent. But, I am also talking about Christians who ignore the Holy Spirit inside of them.

Answer this question: Do you try to please God by what you do?

Paul asked the question in this way: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Galatians 3:2

We are ALREADY pleasing to God through Jesus Christ. Our faith in Him put us in right standing with the Father (John 14:21, 23). What we do each day we do according to what we believe about that relationship.

  1. Is it just unto salvation? Are we on our own after we are saved?
  2. Is it up to us to generate the power to overcome sin?
  3. What happens when we fail?

Salvation means “Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).” He lives in our hearts and lives through the Holy Spirit. We are permanently linked to Him. We just need to believe that He cares for us and wants to help us through this life. Let’s answer those questions:

  1. Our salvation is pervasive. It spans our entire being. He wants ALL of us–all the time! He wants constant communication with us. He wants to fellowship with us all the time!
  2. Our spiritual power comes from our relationship with Christ and our knowledge and understanding of what sin does to us: It destroys us. That in itself circumvents a lot of sin. Those sins that continue to plague us are the ones that drive us to the cross. His forgiveness is complete and ongoing. The very struggle is evidence of our new nature in Christ. WE WILL HAVE VICTORY EVENTUALLY. We must believe this.
  3. 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. (2) He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2. He who knows the past, present and future has already dealt with our sin. Regardless of what we do, we are positionally right with God. Now, relationally, we can turn away from Him in unbelief (believing that something else is more important than Christ, more fun than being with Christ, or more powerful than Christ), in which case, we lose all the benefits of being with Christ: His love, joy, peace, and the other fruit of the Spirit, as well as our influence and testimony. Yet, throughout our rebellion, Jesus is still pleased to call us His own, because He knows that eventually we will get it.

Abba, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ that they will become aware of Your presence in their lives, that they would believe that You have their best interests at heart, and that their best choice is to trust You with their lives. May they learn to turn to You for Your opinion on everything, believing that You really do have all the answers. May today be a starting point for them as they follow You. Me, too, Lord! Amen.

Proverbs 31 8-31-19

August 31, 2019

The Christian life is simple: If you want to be like Jesus, then seek His face. If not, then don’t.

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

Robin and I went and saw OVERCOMER yesterday at the theatre. WOW! What a great story and message! When “Hannah” came to know the Lord, she was directed to read the first two chapters of Ephesians and to write down any description of who she is now in Christ. Let’s look at verses 3-14 and try it:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

1. We are blessed with every spiritual blessing, therefore we are desired.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

2. We are chosen in Him before time, therefore we are valued.

3. We are holy in Him, therefore we can approach Him.

4. We are blameless in Him, therefore we are forgiven.

In love he predestined [planned] us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 

5. We are planned, therefore we have worth.

6. We are adopted, therefore we are wanted.

to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 

We have been given grace, therefore we are FREE!

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.

7. We are redeemed, therefore we are twice His.

8. We are forgiven, therefore we are restored.

9. We are rich in grace, therefore we can afford to give it away the same way we got it–by lavishing it on others.

With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 

10. We are His children, therefore He has made known to us what He is about: the salvation of all who will come to Him.

10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 

11. We are chosen, therefore we have worth.

12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. 

12. We are included, therefore we are part of His Story.

When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 

13. We are marked, therefore we belong to God.

14. We are sealed, therefore we are secure.

14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

We would do well to read these verses every day just to remind ourselves of who we are in Christ and whose we are. It would change the way we think, and therefore, change the way we feel. For instance:

  • To know that I am chosen, adopted, holy and blameless shelters me from the lies of the devil when he tells me I am worthless.
  • To know that I am forgiven and have had His riches of His grace lavished on me allows me to forgive others and lavish His grace on them.
  • To know that I am marked and sealed allows me to be courageous.

See what I mean? Let’s work really hard to internalize these wonderful characteristics that we have as new creations in Christ. THESE TRUTHS are what it means to have Christ living in us.

Abba, thank You for such a wonderful plan for the world and for me. I pray that You will use me as an extension of Yourself to reach the world. May I exude Your love, joy, peace, hope and grace to everyone around me as I declare Your truth and live righteously according to Your Spirit. I declare this prayer to be my manifesto. May it be so, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 30 8-30-19

August 30, 2019

Let’s not let our mouths set our hearts, but revere in our hearts Christ as Lord. Then, let our hearts filter what we say.

(10) Do not slander a servant to their master…(14) those whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives…(32) clap a hand over your mouth!

The apostle Paul is very forthcoming in telling us how we should view/talk to each other. I put “view” and “talk” together because once we say something unkind (truthful or not!) out loud about someone, we form an attitude and it becomes concrete in our minds–unless the Holy Spirit convicts us and we repent. It is DANGEROUS to speak maliciously about anyone!

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Ephesians 4:25.

Sounds easy enough: Just don’t lie to each other, right? But, that’s just the beginning. Look at what else he says:

(29) “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” 

I think that sometimes we would do well to not speak at all! On the other hand, with a little spiritual help (prayer), we can take what we were going to say and turn it into something that gives insight and lifts up. Our conversations work three ways:

  1. Ourselves- When we voice a thought, we take responsibility for that thought. We give it weight whether it is true or not. If it is untrue or unkind, then we have to deal with it as sin.
  2. The person to whom we are talking- We don’t want to mislead him or make him think poorly about whom we are talking, nor do we want him to think poorly of us, which he will if we speak unkindly or maliciously.
  3. The person about which we are talking- He is not there to defend himself against any accusations we might bring. In fact, as fellow Christians, he probably trusts that we will have his back in any conversation.

By the way, “malicious talk” includes humorous sarcasm. Just because it’s funny doesn’t make it okay to make fun of someone. Revealing embarrassing facts is cruel, too.

The following verse is our motivation for keeping verse 29:

(30) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Instead, let’s give Him cause to rejoice! Let’s set up some filters:

  1. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths”- No unwholesome talk. No crude language or coarse joking (5:4). No inflammatory remarks.
  2. “but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs”- Is it helpful? Will it make the other person look good in the eyes of the one to whom you are talking? Make it so. “And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride.” Let’s let each other save face and give each other an “out.”
  3. “That it may benefit those who listen”– If a concern is shared, be sure to pray with the person right then about the one whom you shared the concern. That way, there is NO MISUNDERSTANDING about what you meant when you shared what you shared. All three of you will benefit from prayer!

Let’s remember that the Church, the Family of God, is where we practice our Christianity. I quoted a verse from a song earlier. Here’s the rest of that line, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

Abba, I not only want to lose the habit of talking about someone without that person present, I want to somehow get others to quit when I’m around. Hopefully, they will quit doing it altogether! Help me, O Lord, to speak to others in love when they are not speaking of others in love. Show me how to be respectful and kind, but firm and unyielding in this matter. Above all, I want to love as You love. Teach me, Lord. I am Yours. Amen.

Proverbs 29 8-29-19

August 29, 2019

How do we use the Word of God in conversational form? Let’s try it!

It has been my experience that (11) Fools give full vent to their anger, but the wise bring calm in the end. (23) Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor, and I do want to gain honor for Christ.

Humility is the attitude of Christ. “he made himself nothing, by taking the very nature of a servant…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:7-8. We should, too. Therefore, “in your relationships with one another, have the same mindset [attitude] as Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5.

In fact, we should “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, (4) not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4. Only in this way can we ever be “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and one of mind.” Philippians 2:2. 

We should work on being united in Christ through the sharing of the Spirit “in tenderness and compassion.” By doing so, we will make our joy complete in Him (taken from Philippians 2:1-2a).

We get so caught up in our own lives that we neglect to “be devoted to one another in love.” How can we “honor one another above ourselves” (Romans 12:10) if we don’t get together, and if we aren’t “kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave us?” (Ephesians 4:32). 

May we “never be lacking in zeal” in our process of becoming like Christ. Church is designed for Christ to teach us how to love one another. BUT, IT’S WORK. We have to work at it. We have to BE TOGETHER in order to work on being together. Let’s “keep our spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11).

Abba, I pray for my Sunday School Class, my Choir, my musicians, my church, and my extended Christian family that they would humble themselves and submit to each other in love. May pride take a backseat–no, take a hike!–and humility be the order of the day for all of us. I want to be like You, LORD. May I humble myself in Your sight so that You may lift me up to serve others. Amen.

Proverbs 28 8-28-19

August 28, 2019

Going through hard times? Be encouraged! They are conforming you into Christ’s image. He even uses our weaknesses to do it!
The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe,
but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into the pit.

Our walk is with Jesus Christ. He guides us on our journey to His throne. The Holy Spirit within us speaks to us and tells us the way we are to go.

This safety is not necessarily physical safety. It IS relational safety, though. It guards and protects our souls from sin; it keeps us pure and holy, and in direct and full connection with Jesus/Holy Spirit.

Let’s take a lesson from Peter and Paul. Peter writes, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.” 1 Peter 4:1 Suffering clears the air of non-essentials. Peter’s suffering–and OUR suffering–helped him to see what was truly important and eternal. This attitude of which Peter speaks was brought about by Christ’s death and resurrection: We now have a clear conscience toward God (v. 21). Because of this clear conscience, we declare war on sin in our lives.

Paul explains how suffering in the body helps us to “be done with” sin.

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? (4) We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:3-4

Christ suffered for us so that we would not have to suffer spiritual death. The suffering we do now simply helps us to “be done with” sin. It helps us to focus on what we have (Jesus in us) and what is to come (heaven: Forever in His presence). We no longer fear death, or even separation from God because of sin. I am speaking of positional separation. We are His. There is NO CHANGING THAT. God transformed the very sin that was killing us spiritually to become that which trains us to be more holy. WHAT?! Paul explains:

Romans 6:5-14

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his [our future hope]. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

The spiritual chains have been broken. The grave clothes are shredded, but still clinging to us, just like Lazarus when he came out of the grave. Let’s remove them and clothe ourselves with Christ and His righteousness and holiness (Romans 13:14, Eph. 4:24).
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Habitual sin is hard to break. It sneaks up on us and overwhelms us. It brings shame and self-loathing with it. DON’T LET IT! Christ knows our struggles and loves us through them. He wants us to turn to Him for comfort and strength, for renewal and joy. Satan would have us turn away from Christ in self-punishment even while Christ calls for us to turn to Him for restoration!
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

We ARE under grace. From now on, let us ask the LORD to help us set boundaries concerning where we go, with whom we spend our time, and how we fill our days. Let us work with Him to set up guardrails to keep us away from the precipice of sin. We understand that there are always consequences for sin, but they do not keep us from the Father. He even uses our consequences to draw us even closer to Him.

My favorite verse is 2 Corinthians 3:18 because it speaks of a progression. we LIVE in that progression:

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate/reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

  1. Unveiled faces- We see and know the LORD and His truth;
  2. Contemplate/reflect- It’s what we think about all the time: Bringing Him glory and reflecting that glory to others;
  3. Transformed- Made into His likeness (see Romans 8:29);
  4. Ever-increasing glory- moving from glory to glory, “Higher up and further in;”
  5. From the Lord- He does this wonderful thing in us;
  6. Who is the Spirit- His Spirit lives in us and is our connection, our power, our comfort, our guide–our everything!

Be encouraged. He IS working in us, and He WILL complete what He started (Phil. 1:6).

Abba, I am SO glad that it is NOT up to me, but up to YOU for me to be holy and righteous. All I have to do is submit to Your guidance even while enjoying Your love, joy and peace that radiate from You as we walk together. I have hope because of You and Your grace that saved me and continues to abound in my life. Fill me up, Lord, and I will overflow to those around me. Amen.

It’s your life. No one can do this for you. And, truly, you don’t want anyone else to do it for you because, through this process, you come to know Jesus in a way you didn’t even know He existed. You see, you can’t get freed up in Christ without Christ. This is about the two of you. — Beth Moore

Proverbs 27 8-27-19

August 27, 2019

Has God stirred your heart lately? Has He moved you in some way to love Him? To love others? Pray that He does!

(22) Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.

If our sinful nature were something that was attached to us, then it could be removed by careful sifting and sorting, much like removing different colored marbles from a jar. But, our sin nature is NOT attached to us, but is synthesized to us, becoming one with us. It requires the Holy Spirit coming to us and interacting with us like a catalyst does in chemistry to bring about a change of molecular structure. We are remade into new creations! The Spirit gives us life and we are reborn as children of God!

Until the Spirit moves in a person’s heart, he doesn’t want to be remade or reborn. All of his thinking is dark and self-centered. He will never see the benefit of the Gospel or the logic behind the Plan of God. Indeed, he cannot, nor does he want to. There is a veil over his heart that keeps him from coming to a spiritual conclusion.

But their minds are dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 2 Corinthians 3:14

The Old Sinai Covenant (the Law) was given so that people would come to understand that righteousness could not be obtained by anything we could do. It was a system that pointed to the One Ultimate Sacrifice, Jesus Christ. But, instead of causing the people to look to God in faith that the Messiah would come and free them, instead they used the law to assuage their consciences and to live as they wanted. Then, they would come and make sacrifices thinking that they were forgiven. They were NOT forgiven, but covered. That covering was to last until the Messiah came as their Ultimate Sacrifice. So, instead of the Law bringing about righteous living and life, it brought excused living and death. 2 Corinthians 3:6 tells us that “the letter [law] kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 

This way of thinking is bound up in our flesh; we cannot be separated from it except by the Power of the Holy Spirit. HE must come and transform us. HE must come and give us new birth. Our changed lives “show that you are a letter from Christ…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:3.

My fellow Christians, we must pray that the Spirit of God would come upon our lost friends and family. Pray that they dream dreams and see visions from God–even prophesy [Joel 2:28]! Pray that the conviction of the Spirit would fall upon them. Release heaven upon them! “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19 Bind Satan and his horde from your loved ones; loose the Holy Spirit of God upon them!

Of course, we realize that in order to pray in such a way, we must submit ourselves to that same Spirit. We must offer ourselves as instruments of righteousness and make ourselves available to Him in any way, at any time. We must ask ourselves this question: Just how badly do I want to see my loved ones saved?

Therefore let us keep the Festival [Passover, living according to His sacrifice], not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness [our sin nature], but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth [our new nature, basing all decisions on truth, and then dealing in grace]. 1 Corinthians 5:8

Abba, I pray that even as You move in my heart to align me with Your Person and Your Will, that You would move in the hearts of my lost friends and family. I bind Satan and his horde in the name of Jesus; may they have no more power over them until their decision is made. Move in those who have grown cold and wandered from the faith–draw them back! Speak to them in dreams and call to them in visions. Give them such a feeling of conviction that they seek out those who know you and beg them to tell them how to come to Christ! LORD, You are already moving in this way all over the world. Please, do it in America, too. Do it in Oklahoma–do it in our church family! I pledge myself to You to be ready when they call. Amen.

 

Proverbs 26 8-26-19

August 26, 2019

I pray this post is not about you. Have you built your life around your own pleasures and schedule? Now I’m meddling!

(16) A sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven people who answer discreetly.

We can be busy people and still be sluggards concerning our spiritual life. If we spend all our time and energy pleasing ourselves, working toward building up our wealth, and spending major amounts of time and money on leisure and “stuff,” then we will be found wanting in our spiritual life. Our relationship with the LORD must be first if we are to follow Christ, which means that Bible study, prayer, and church must move up the ladder in importance. Folks, it’s getting darker and darker out there. WE NEED EACH OTHER!

Bryan used a verse in his sermon yesterday that had somehow escaped my attention. It is:

(9) So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 2 Corinthians 5:9

The passage is about living and dying, being in the body or out of the body, and being with Christ either way. I had always focused on the main idea and missed this little message. The word, “goal,” can be interpreted as, “aim,” and, “focus.” It is at what our attention is directed.

Let’s take the first part of this verse and expand it. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:10 to “find out what pleases the LORD.” There is active participation here. We don’t just automatically know; we must search and discover. Granted, He guides us as we go. He reveals to us what He likes and dislikes, the things that draw us close to Him and those things that drag us away. God hates sin because it destroys His people and keeps them from fellowshipping with Him.

Let’s try an experiment: If the stock market were to crash as it did in 1929, what could you live without? Could you live a year on what you have saved and is accessible? A month? A week? Would you be able to share with others or would you need help yourself?

Let’s try another experiment: If our country were to become insolvent and we were taken over by another country financially and that country raised our taxes 25%, what would go first at your house? Could it be that we have filled our lives with the things of this world? Are we using the Pie Illustration instead of the Target Illustration in our lives?

Pie Illustration– Our lives are slices of pie and our spiritual life is just one slice. Everything else has equal value or more.

Target Illustration– Our spiritual life (our relationship with Jesus) is the target. Everything else in our lives moves out in concentric circles in importance.

Let’s not wait to get to know God and to serve Him. Let’s begin NOW making Him the first priority in our life. Daily Bible study and prayer are essential to a growing, flourishing faith. Church is where we meet to discuss our faith, to worship corporately, and to hold each other accountable as well as build each other up and support each other.

(24) 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 approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

Abba, You know I don’t have a daily time with You BECAUSE I am a minister; my ministry came out of my daily time with YOU. I know that I can be disqualified from ministry if I ever quit seeking You first everyday. I am not afraid; I just don’t want to lose my bond with You or Your wisdom and insight that You share with me through Your Word. I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ that they would have this bond, too. The only way I know to get it is through Bible study and prayer. May they put You first in their lives. Oh, what wonders You could do if Your people were to take You seriously! May I always take You seriously, LORD. I love You. Amen.

Proverbs 25 8-25-19

August 25, 2019

The world is moving to a place where we must decide who we serve, either God or the god of this world. No more fence-riding.

(26) Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked.

This verse is my stance on all things political when it comes to moral hot-buttons: Abortion, LBGT…xyz, Euthanasia, marijuana, the lottery and gambling in general, etc. There is a deciding factor in all our decisions which is, “What will bring the most glory to the Father?” Whether or not “we win” in whatever election is going on, I must do what brings Him the most glory.

Yesterday, we read these verses: (11) Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. (12) If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay everyone according to what they have done? Proverbs 24:11-12

I realize that this passage is Old Covenant and our relationship with God is NOT based on what we do. At the same time, He has given us the assignment to be His ambassadors in this world. We MUST take our job seriously!

(18) All this [us being new creations] is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (19) that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (20) We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

What I find most difficult is having the righteous anger of God concerning how sin is destroying the people I love, but using that anger righteously. How do I be loving, peaceful, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and use self-control when I am angry? I must turn quickly to the Father. He will validate my anger, but give me wisdom and discernment along with direction according to what He wants me to do about it. I must remember that God is MIGHTY, but He is also GOOD. I must be good, too.

This morning’s choir special is, “Is He Worthy,” and asks if God is worth following. Is He TRUSTWORTHY?

“Do you feel the world is broken? Do you feel the shadows deepen? But, do you know that all the dark won’t stop the light from getting through? Do you wish that you could see it all made new? WE DO.”

“Is anyone worthy? Is anyone whole? Is anyone able to break the seals and open the scroll? The Lion of Judah, who opened the grave! He is David’s Root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave! Is He worthy? Is He worthy of all blessing and honor and glory? Is He worthy of this? HE IS.”

Dear LORD Jesus, I come to You this morning once again pledging my life to You for You to use however You please. You have done so much for me; may I be part of Your plan for reaching the world–even at the cost of my own life. What is there to lose? I have SO MUCH waiting for me on the other side!!! Just the prospect of standing in Your presence is enough! As I sing today, may I worship You and lift You up. Draw all people to Yourself, O LORD. Amen.

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot

Proverbs 24 8-24-19

August 24, 2019

What charges us in the morning? Most would say COFFEE! But, what gives us hope to live another day? And for what? or, Whom?

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

Wisdom from God is being able to see from His perspective. In order to do this, we must have the right foundation. Spiritual sight comes from being alive spiritually. The Holy Spirit’s presence makes us alive in Christ (Eph. 2:4-5, Romans 8:16). Through Him, we now have His perspective ready and available to us whenever we turn to Him.

Understanding comes through study and experience. We may have learned through a textbook that to touch the black and white wires on an electrical plug will shock us. If we never get shocked, we are blessed. Unfortunately, that’s not how sin operates. We have “open wires” sticking up all over our lives and we get shocked quite often. Understanding comes when we perceive what is shocking us and either capping it or avoiding it. Our head knowledge has moved to heart knowledge.

Knowledge is where we live. It’s what we consciously know and live by. It would seem that knowledge would have been listed first: What we learn, we understand, which gives us wisdom. In a sense, this is true. The problem is that IT’S DANGEROUS, EVEN DEADLY. We learn through nature that natural selection rules out bad decisions. Without God’s design and subsequent guidance, nothing in nature would survive, including us. Were it not for God’s constant protection and guidance, mankind would die off very quickly (probably by our own hand). WE NEED HIM!

So, let’s look at these verses as our pattern for godly living.

  1. We come to Christ for our daily bread, which consists of His grace: giving us what we need rather than what we deserve. What do we need? His love, joy, and peace. We get these every time we acknowledge His presence in our lives. When we turn (in our minds) to Him, His attributes wash over us like sunlight on a new day! WISDOM is that with which we start and is given by the Holy Spirit to us each day.
  2. Staying in the process is tough, but through UNDERSTANDING we learn that to do it ourselves–or any other way–leads to death. It’s what keeps us before Him. Life was meant to be lived with Him. Let’s DO IT!
  3. While we walk with God, He reveals truth to us through nature, through relationships, through circumstances, and through His Word. The more KNOWLEDGE we obtain, the more we can recognize His “voice” as He speaks to us.

You have started the process by studying this passage with me. Now, ask the LORD to reveal truth to you as you go about your day. Enjoy His love, joy and peace that emanate from Him. Be filled with hope as you trust in Him.

Abba, I pray for my readers that they would experience You today. The joy I feel in Your presence is in direct correlation with Your amazing, stedfast and overwhelming love. Through these, I am at peace. Regardless of my circumstances (which, by the way, are good right now), regardless of my struggles (which are continuous while in this body), and regardless of how I feel, I KNOW (through what You have told me in Your Word and through experience) that You are with me and will see me through to Your side eventually. May I continue in FAITH today: “Forsaking All, I Trust Him.” I love You. Amen.

Proverbs 23 8-23-19

August 23, 2019

What dominates our thoughts usually indicates what is important to us. Take time to analyze.

When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, (2) and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. (3) Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive. Proverbs 23:1-3

The object of this verse is to make us think, to analyze:

  1. Why am I there?
  2. What do we hope to gain?
  3. What do I stand to lose?

It’s a great time for you and the LORD to walk through the situation together. Let’s go over some goals:

  1. Don’t put too much weight on pleasing them. Our overarching goal is to please our LORD through our conversation with Him and our obedience to Him.
  2. Don’t be judgemental toward them. Unless asked, their relationship with the LORD is between them and the LORD. Don’t meddle- even mentally.
  3. Look for opportunities to drop spiritual nuggets- not only to the host, but to the wait-staff, as well.

Our goal is to “be kind and compassionate, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” Eph. 4:32.

Abba, give us grace and discernment for today. Amen.

Proverbs 22 8-22-19

August 22, 2019

Another word for faithfulness is dependability. How dependable are you in your relationship with the LORD?

(12) They eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

In most of our lives, the biggest fight is in our mind. We are not, for the most part–and it might change in the near future–ridiculed or persecuted for our faith. Yet, most of us still struggle in some area of our lives. We fight to keep from getting sucked back into old habits and routines, old friendships and patterns–and often losing. What is it that would help us the most in our Christian faith?

KNOWLEDGE

There are two kinds of knowledge: Head knowledge and heart knowledge. Head knowledge is what we learn and lock into our brains. Heart knowledge is what we experience and lock into our hearts. Both are advantageous and necessary, and one needs the other.

What we need to know:

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Our knowledge of God must increase daily in two ways:

  1. We must find out all we can about Him and His Plan for us as individuals and for the world in general. This knowledge is our head knowledge. What we believe, based upon the truths that we learn, is the foundation of our faith. We act on what we know to be true.
  2. We must interact with God constantly. We talk about “a daily walk” when we actually mean “a constant walk.” Our relationship is continuous. God designed it to be literal when He said that He would never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Our experiential knowledge of Him confirms in our hearts what we know in our heads.

Let’s look at another passage of Scripture which has to do with war from the perspective of knowledge:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day [time] of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:10-18

  1. We are strong in His power and not our own.
  2. We need spiritual protection from Satan.
  3. The devil’s schemes are to trick us into following him. Remember your allegiance is to Christ!
  4. There may not be a demon behind every bush, but the IS one behind every thought that perverts, distorts, undermines, obstructs, and downright opposes godliness (thinking and acting like God). Now that you know this in your head, will you move it to your heart by acting on it?
  5. As Christians, we are headed the wrong way according to the world, which includes the majority of people in America–and where you live! Not only that, but people who either don’t know the LORD or are against Him do not fight fairly; they have no conscience to battle. We must train ourselves to fight as the LORD would have us fight rather than revert or resort to fighting like the world does.
  6. Patience means, “last man standing.” We simply outlast our opponent. How? By the power of the Holy Spirit based upon our knowledge of His Word and what we have put into practice.
  7. Truth holds our pants up and our weapons on. The truth of God’s Word is vital.
  8. God’s righteousness protects our heart. We ARE righteous in His sight. Never forget that. Satan would have you doubt it constantly. Determine NOW that you are God’s child and are made righteous through the shed blood of Jesus Christ!
  9. We must know the Gospel backwards and forwards. What I mean is that we need to know HOW a person is saved and WHY a person needs to be saved according to ALL of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. We need to know the WHOLE story, which is why we study the Bible everyday. It’s too big to grasp in one setting or in snatches. We must be diligent and organized in our approach to His Word. It’s that important.
  10. Do you believe what you read? Satan would have you doubt everything. Our faith is based upon our walk, our experience, our interaction with Christ through His Spirit. Do you know that you know that you know? How? Through your walk with Christ daily/constantly, experiencing Him and putting into practice all we know.
  11. The helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit are connected by the Word of God. We commit to memory the Word which we use as our offensive weapon against Satan and the powers of this dark world. What we know in our heads concerning the Word and our relationship with God determines how sharp our blade is and if we actually draw it out and use it.
  12. Prayer is the key. It’s our connection to God, because of Jesus, through His Spirit within us. If we read His Word and submit to what it says, He will explain it to us. Sometimes, He speaks straight to our hearts; other times, He reveals truths to us through circumstances; many times, it’s through others that He makes His truths known to us. All the time, though, we stay connected to the VINE, His Spirit.

I preach to myself today. I KNOW these truths in my head; I struggle to know them in my heart, so I read them, rehearse them, and put them to the test everyday. He is ALWAYS faithful and His words are TRUE. I’m depending on that. You should, too.

Abba, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen. (based upon Psalm 19:14)

Proverbs 21 8-21-19

August 21, 2019

The problem with prosperity is that we come to depend upon ourselves rather than the LORD. How quickly we forget!

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

One of the things that make life as a soldier easier these days is the drone. It flies above the soldiers in the field and gives the commander a bird’s-eye view of everything, thus making his commands much more accurate and successful. The Holy Spirit has a “bird’s-eye” view of our battleground and wants to guide us through it successfully. But, we have some things working against us:

  1. Our prosperity has made us arrogant. We think that our success is based upon OUR decisions. To some degree, it is true, but what we forget is that worldly success may not be for our best interest. We cannot foresee what any particular success will do to us down the road. What LOOKS good and right and successful at this moment may not take us to where the LORD wants for us down the road.
  2. The world itself is in the hands of the enemy. What is successful in the world is usually in direct opposition to what the LORD deems successful. For a good overview of this truth, read Psalm 73. Here are a few verses from it: (4) They [the arrogant and wicked] have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. (5) They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. (6) Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. (7) From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. (8) They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. (9) Their mouths lay claim to heaven and their tongues take possession of the earth. They are enemies of God–not of His doing, but of their own.
  3. Our own flesh is working against us. The apostle Paul talks about our struggle in Romans 7:7-25. Only God knows what is best for us. But, how do we discover His best and see from His perspective? For that, we return to Psalm 73: (16) When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply (17) till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. (18) Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. (19) How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! When impending doom was coming, they headed straight into it! What does God want for us? (23) Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into gloryFolks, it doesn’t get any better than that!

We talked yesterday about the war we are in and that Satan is the ruler of this world. Let’s look at that passage in Ephesians:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10

We were dead spiritually. We naturally followed the ruler of the kingdom of the air, which is the devil, i.e. Satan. We sinned and we enjoyed it because we had no Holy Spirit to bring conviction. We had no hope of having anything to do with God, nor did we even want it. What changed our minds?

When we heard of God’s great love for us through the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit brought conviction on our hearts. We responded through faith and received by grace His great gift of salvation. WE CHANGED ALLEGIANCE. We no longer follow Satan, nor continue down the road of destruction with the rest of humanity; we repented (turned around). The problem is that we are now heading against the flow. NOW we understand why the “Prosperity Gospel” that is preached a lot on TV doesn’t work. Let me hit you with a verse from Peter: Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you [bear out what is latent within you], as though something strange were happening to you. (13) But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (16) However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 1 Peter 4:12-13, 16 

How, then, shall we live?

  1. Keep our eyes on the Prize: Jesus and heaven. We should have already read this morning something in His Word to orient ourselves to His reality and His perspective.
  2. Be prepared to do whatever He asks even if it is in direct opposition to the logic and goals of this world, especially concerning money. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be, also.” – Jesus.
  3. Be ready to receive resistance, frustration, argument, rejection, ridicule and even persecution for your decisions. It’s natural and inevitable. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything [THIS is the definition of “perfect”]. James 1:2-4

Abba, as we go out in Your name, may we stay close to You and oriented to Your battle plan to snatch as many from the fire as will come. Help us to follow You and to be Your ambassadors in this fallen world. May our lives be living testaments to Your grace, Your love, and all the benefits that come from being Yours: abounding love, transcending peace, overflowing joy, steadfast hope, and grace upon grace. Lead us to SOMEONE with which to share Christ today. Amen.

Proverbs 20 8-20-19

August 20, 2019

How are you doing in the fight against evil? You realize you ARE in a war, don’t you?

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

When we accepted Jesus Christ as our LORD and Savior, we changed allegiance from Satan to Jesus. We now serve Jesus, which puts us at war with the devil and this world in general.

Let’s take the next couple of days to look at what it means to follow Christ, what it takes to follow Christ, and what we need to follow Christ. Let’s start with what we need:

  1. Assurance– We need assurance that we are His and that He is with us.
  2. Support– We need support from the Spirit and from other Christians.
  3. Strategy- We need a strategy, a game plan on how to fight the enemy on the inside and on the outside.

What it takes to follow Christ is:

  1. The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit– We get this/Him when we totally surrender our lives to the Lord Jesus. Categorically. There are always pockets of resistance within us, but we generally allow Him to have full reign in our hearts and lives. He will deal with the rest.
  2. Tenacity– holding fast, persistence. The quality or property of holding together firmly. We let go of the things of this world and hold onto Jesus for life.
  3. Reset– the ability to reset and begin again. When we sin, when we fail, when we stumble and fall, when we revert, when we give in, we must learn to reset: We go to Him who gives grace; we bow once again before Him acknowledging Him as our Lord and King; we receive His smile, His embrace, and His love and begin again. “God doesn’t count the number of times we fall, but the number of steps we take.”

Now, what does it mean to follow Christ? I’m afraid that some people have gotten mixed up with Christians and the church without realizing into what they have gotten themselves, or for what they have signed up.

  1. Following Christ means that we have turned from sin and self. We realize that we are not good people and we need a Savior. That’s Jesus!
  2. Following Christ means that we turn to Him. Just being sorry for our sins doesn’t save us; we must turn TO JESUS asking Him to come into us and give us life. We must move from death to life through rebirth. We are BORN AGAIN.
  3. Following Christ means that we seek His face, listen for His voice, and obey His commands–ALWAYS. It is the Way of Life for us. When we fail or fall, we allow Him to pick us up, comfort us, dust us off, dress our wounds, kiss us, and then we try again.

The last verse in Chapter 20 sounds horrible, but has great potential:

(30) Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.

If we are, indeed, at war with the devil, we need to understand that WE WILL receive blows and wounds and beatings. We WILL get knocked down, deserted and even wounded by our friends, both lost friends and fellow Christians. The enemy is too good at what he does, and we still live in these sin-ridden bodies with all their habits, tendencies, and lusts. We MUST be forgiving of each other, helping each other up and having each other’s backs. Let’s dress each other’s wounds rather than shoot our wounded. The best way to remove pollutants from water is to distill it (boil it and run the steam into a new flask). It’s the same with sterilizing instruments for surgery, and for refining silver. When making a sword, the metalworker heats the metal to red-hot and then hammers it into shape. Do you feel it? I sure do!

Tomorrow, we will look at Ephesians 2:1-10. You might want to read ahead.

Abba, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ that they would grasp who they are in You, and that we are in a war–and in the middle of occupied territory! Give us insight, strength, and endurance so that we can stand against the enemy, O LORD. May we stand so close to You that we fairly glow with the love, peace and joy that radiate from You. May You renew our hope with Your grace. I pledge allegiance once again to You, my LORD and KING. Amen.

Proverbs 19 8-19-19

August 19, 2019

Remembering who we are in Christ and what He has done-and is doing-in us is important. It keeps us fresh.

22 What a person desires is unfailing lovebetter to be poor than a liar. 23 The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble [the troubles of this life].

When we see the whole story of God’s unfailing love for us displayed through Jesus Christ, we learn to fear the LORD in the correct manner. I am reminded of one of the characters in The Chronicles of Narnia refer to Aslan (Jesus) in this manner, “He’s a good lion–not a tame one, but a good one.”

We’ve discussed before God’s greatness and His goodness. The fact that He is great allows Him to be good, and His goodness is what makes Him great to us! I start my week (after Sunday) reminding myself of His greatness and His goodness and praying them over my family.

Card #1: Ephesians 1:16-23

I have not stopped [do not stop] giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of [spiritual] wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better [more fully]. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people [our inheritance IS His people, His family], 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way [it is through His church–us!–that He fills everything in every way].

This passage describes His great power. THIS is the GOD we serve!

Card #2:

For this reason [the one mentioned above] I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every [His] family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell [abide, rule] in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in [His] love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know [through experience] this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God [His love, peace, joy, hope and grace!].

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

This passage describes His great love for us. THIS is WHY we serve Him!

Card #3:

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

This passage gives me my hope for today and the future. I don’t fear the Day of Judgement because of THIS VERSE knowing that I will be blameless and will be presented to the Father with great joy–both mine and Jesus’.

These passages are how I start my week. I pray them over my family. Today, I pray them over you.

Heavenly Father, I praise You today for Your greatness and Your goodness. Thank You for going to such great lengths to buy us back. You gave us the gift to be able to choose, and, regretfully, we chose sin. But, through Your great love, You have made a way back to You through the shed blood of Jesus! We are now a part of Your family and will enjoy all the benefits of Your inheritance soon! In the meantime, we are enjoying getting to know You in our inner being. Grow us in You, O LORD.

I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ, particularly those who are part of my Proverbs Club, that they would experience You on a great and intimate level today as they read Your Word and walk with You. May we all walk in step with Your Spirit today. I love You, LORD. My life is Yours. Amen.

NOTE: Bryan used the word, Propitiation, yesterday. One of its meanings is, “to make compatible.” I love this meaning! Through the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus, we have been made compatible with God–His Spirit comes and lives in us! WOW!