Sunday, October 30, 2011

Eyes of the heart……..

“As water reflects the face,
so the heart reflects
one person to another.
 The grave and the underworld are never satisfied;
and people’s eyes are never satisfied”.   Prov. 27:19-20  CEB

Eyes and sight are frequently used in figures of speech throughout the Bible and in our everyday lives, indicating how we perceive God.   When our attention is attracted to something remarkable, we call it an “eye-opener”.   We are said to “keep our eyes peeled” for the object we are seeking.    When a person is skilled at a task, he is said to “have an eye for it”.  

In the Bible the eye is the organ of perception, and perception involves more than physical sight.

Eyes are often used figuratively to indicate understanding or ignorance.   When we understand a point that a teacher makes, we say, “Oh, I see now…”.  When we do not plan ahead, we are said to be “short-sighted”.   When we ignore an action, we “turn a blind eye” toward it and when we disapprove of an action, we “take a dim view of it”.  

Eyes and mental understanding are also frequently associated in the Bible and in secular literatures----along with light as “knowledge” and darkness as “ignorance”.

The prophet Isaiah speaks of the time when the Lord will reveal the Messiah to them, he writes, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light” (Isa. 9:2).   In most instances in the Bible, knowledge and wisdom are associated with sight, ignorance and sin with darkness.

Eyes find their way into our descriptions as objects and natural phenomena as well.   When we track a hurricane, it is talked about the “eye of the storm”, the calm center around which the winds swirl.

When we thread a needle to sew, we thread it through the “eye of the needle”.   Potatoes have “eyes” which can be planted.

We “see” eyes everywhere, as it were, and that is not surprising, for the physical eye is arguably one of the two most important sense organs, along with the ears, we possess.  

In the Scriptures it is often in the eyes that the character is expressed.  Included in these uses are personality traits, as well as, their moral condition.  As we might expect, the book of Proverbs comments frequently on the character of godly and ungodly people alike.

“Follow my advice, my son;
always treasure my commands.
 Obey my commands and live!
Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes.
 Tie them on your fingers as a reminder.
Write them deep within your heart”.  Prov. 7:1-3 NLT

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The eyes of our heart

“Just as water mirrors your face,
so your face mirrors your heart.

 Hell has a voracious appetite,
and lust just never quits”.    Prov. 27:19-20  MSG Bible    

We show the full range of our emotions and intentions with our eyes.  Anger, love, sensitivity, deception, hate, envy and jealousy can all be discerned by looking into the eyes of an individual.

There’s a saying, “The eyes are the windows to the soul”.   There is basis for such a statement in God’s Word.   Scripture is full of references on how the eyes relate to our spiritual condition.   God knows that our eyes can reflect the condition of our heart, mind and soul.   He also knows they direct our actions which are motivated by our desires.

In the single book of Proverbs alone there are numerous verses indicating how our eyes seek what is in our heart and communicate with others what lives within our soul.

Proverbs 6:17 and 30:13 tell us that there are seven things the Lord hates and one of them is haughty or arrogant eyes.

Proverbs 26:5, 12,16, 28:11 and 30:12 speak of how we can be deceived by what we see with our eyes and when we lean upon our own limited sight.

Proverbs 6:25 reveals to us how the eyes of others can lead us astray as they communicated desires that should not be pursued.

Proverbs 3:7, 4:25, 23:6 instructs us how important it is to keep our eyes focused on the scriptures for proper spiritual living as God’s children.

The eyes truly are, “The windows to the soul”.  

What do you see when you look in the mirror each morning?

Do you see someone whose eyes are thirsty for the presence of God?

Or do you see someone who is avoiding God?

What do your eyes reveal of your soul?

“…….people who are unspiritual don’t accept the things from God’s Spirit.  They are foolishness to them and can’t be understood, because they can only be comprehended in a spiritual way”.    I Cor. 2:14  CEB


Encourage one another……………

“An open rebuke
is better than hidden love!

Wounds from a sincere friend
are better than many kisses from an enemy”.   Prov. 27:5-6  NLT

The Bible tells us that we are to watch out for each other.   A friend does not let those he/she knows wander off into sin.   There are going to be times when true friends disagree, but that is because they care about each other. 

There will be times when we must confront a friend because they have made wrong choices but it does not mean they are answerable to us for the choices they make—for those decisions are answerable to God.

Friends challenge you to reach further than you thought you could go.  Of course, you need to be careful who you claim as friends.   You do not want to be around those who are a bad influence.

Here are a few ways iron sharpens iron:

Showing love for one another.  John 13:34-35

Confession of sins and prayer for one another.   James 5:16

Worshipping and studying with one another.   Col. 3:16

Showing humility to one another.   Phil. 2:3-4

Simply spending quality time together.  Col. 3: 12-13

Let us therefore be encouraged to spend more time together, exhorting, encouraging, praying, admonishing, sharing God’s Word, praying over God’s Word that we become more sharper and more cutting in the ministry that the Lord has assigned to each one of us.

Finally, a knife that has been sharpened will also shine more because all the dullness has been rubbed off its surface.   Likewise, we will shine better for our Lord if we do the things mentioned above consistently. 

“We should keep on encouraging each other to be thoughtful and to do helpful things.   Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that.  We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord's coming is getting closer”.   Heb. 10:24-25 CEV

Thursday, October 27, 2011

His Glory will shine out…………

“Rise up and shine, for your light has come. The shining-greatness of the Lord has risen upon you”.    Isa. 60:1  NLV

We first walk in the light, in accountability with one another, to keep our hearts pure, so our relationship with God is in order and we can walk in intimacy with Him.

Jesus said the world would know us by our love and by our light.

Secondly, we walk in the light to be a light to the world, that those who do not know Him might see Him in us.   His glory will shine out of us and impact our world.

“Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we're not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times.  We refuse to wear masks and play games.  We don't maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes.  And we don't twist God's Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.

If our Message is obscure to anyone, it's not because we're holding back in any way.   No, it's because these other people are looking or going the wrong way and refuse to give it serious attention.   All they have eyes for is the fashionable god of darkness.  They think he can give them what they want, and that they won't have to bother believing a Truth they can't see.  They're stone-blind to the dayspring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we'll ever get.

Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we're proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master.   All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you.   It started when God said, "Light up the darkness!" and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful”.   II Cor. 4:1-6 MSG Bible

So let us walk in the light as He is in the light, let us have that degree of fellowship with one another that gets rid of hidden darkness and let us shine His glory out into the world.

Bearing one another’s burden……..

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.  It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.   God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work”.   II Tim. 3:16-17 NLT

We should have a teachable spirit if accountability is to be effective.   We can apply what Paul wrote to Timothy in II Tim. 3:16-17 regarding accountability relationships.  

Just as scripture is profitable for reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, so can be the words of those we trust speaking into our lives.   We need the critique of others for as Jeremiah said, the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jer. 17:9).   Others can often more clearly see what is in our hearts than we can.

Honesty is at the heart of all working accountability.   If we lie, we gain nothing from this relationship and lying is much more than simply telling a lie. Consider exaggeration, broken promises, flattery, charm, giving a misleading impression, stretching the truth, insincerity, hypocrisy, telling only part of the truth and half-truths.   The masks we wear, the importance of our outward appearance, these are untruths presented to the world.  What is inside needs to line up with what we seem to be on the outside.   God sees our hearts!   God desires truth in our inner most parts.  It is truth that holds together the armor of God.  Jesus is truth!

Are we prepared to walk in truth no matter what the cost?

We are to speak the truth in love. (Eph. 4:15)   If we are walking in love, we will be free to be honest, and able to share the depths of our hearts as well as to confront that which we see in each other that is not of God. We will speak the truth in love that will set them free and bring healing.

All relationships are built on trust and trust comes from walking in truth.  

Trust is precious and not to be betrayed!

We need to be good listeners---this is a key to bearing one another’s burdens.   Listening is often so much more helpful than speaking!

“Help carry one another's burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ”.  Gal. 6:2  GNT

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Three strand cord…….

“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
   If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
   Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
  Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”.  Ecc. 4:9-12 NIV

God’s purpose in a relationship is to help us grow, to purify us, to build us up, to make us strong, and to give us a unity that is unshakeable.   He wants us to be able to hold up each other’s hands.   He wants us to learn to rejoice when the other rejoices and to weep when the other weeps.   He longs for us to strip off the masks we wear and to let our imperfections be exposed for then He can deal with them and set us free.

We should ask the Holy Spirit to help us choose the right people in our lives, those He wants and those we can trust.  

Don’t pick people like the ones described in Prov. 6:16-19; “ the proud, a lair, hands that kill innocent people, a mind that thinks up wicked plans, the evil hearted, a witness who tells one lie after another, and someone who stirs up trouble among friends”.   Be very careful of those who manipulate with their charm and flattery, their motive is one of destruction.

Choose to walk with those who are wise so the result is growth in righteousness.  The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and hypocrisy. (Js. 3:17-18)

Transparency makes us vulnerable----we can hide nothing.   We need to be sensitive, to have hearts that are soft and open that can be wounded by personal sin.   We have to be willing to be shown that we are wrong.  There is a risk to being transparent and vulnerable—we can get badly hurt if this relationship is abused by those we walk with.   But if we really desire to walk in the light with one another, we will work through these things and come to a place of healing and trust. 
God can use those we are in accountability with as peacemakers in our lives as they discern the things we are struggling with and speak truth which brings peace.

Walking in the Light………

“If we live in the light as He is in the light, we share what we have in God with each other.   And the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, makes our lives clean from all sin”.  I John 1:7 NLV

It is awesome to be able to walk in the light, to walk in transparency, to walk in vulnerability with one another. 

But what does it mean to walk in the light with one another?

It is the opportunity to be real with one another without fear of being rejected or wounded.  To be able to be totally honest with each other and to share the things you are struggling with as well as the joys of your life.

It means to be able to confess your sins to one another and to be held up and ministered to by prayer.   To be able to speak truth into one another’s lives, knowing it will be heard and heeded without offence being taken.  Not only to speak encouragement but to be able to correct when necessary, to allow the sword of the Spirit to pierce our hearts through one another without it spoiling the unity of the relationship. 

It means to be able to weep together in brokenness as Jesus does His work of purifying our lives and to be able to love unconditionally because we walk in His love in relationship with others.

To walk like this puts us in a place of invulnerability to the enemy’s accusations because we walk in freedom from hidden sin, freedom from condemnation, and freedom from shame.  When we walk in the light, Satan no longer has any power over us.

Do we desire to be sharpened?

Are we willing to heed rebuke?   Or do we allow pride to get in the way?

If we are willing for these things to be used by God to refine us it will produce strength in our walk with Him.

“Wounds from a sincere friend
are better than many kisses from an enemy”.   Prov. 27:6 NLT

“Poverty and shame come to those who don’t care about instruction; honor belongs to those who heed correction”.   Prov. 13:18 CEB

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What is real love?

“Iron is sharpened by iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend”.    Prov. 27:17  Darby

The Bible teaches that love----real love----is iron sharpening iron.   It is a narrow, rough and uncomfortable journey.

Have you ever seen iron sharpened?    Sparks fly…..rough edges are broken away.  There are harsh noises as the iron hits iron.   It takes strength and accuracy to sharpen the tool.

But all of this is imperative…….isn’t it?

Christians like to say phrases like “Use me, Lord” or “Mold me, shape me, make me more like You”……but the honest ------Gospel truth is-----they do not want the “sparks to fly”.   They do not want anything broken away.  They do not like confrontation or noises of any kind.   They will even sacrifice accuracy and strength to spare themselves the pain.

Conflict is inevitable whenever a person goes beyond the “niceness” stage of hiding conflicting opinions and preferences.   As this happens, they will become a tool that sharpens the other without harming them.

The moment you have conflict, someone is going to get hurt.   There is no such thing as painless conflict.   When you go beyond “niceness”, you are going to hurt someone.   You cannot sharpen iron without striking it, making sparks fly, taking off shards, or making noise.

I believe in sharpening.   Conflict is a necessity and is important.   But the basic underlying mentality of some Christians is “love is warm fuzzy feelings”.  The act of sharpening iron and what is beyond “niceness” is NOT love.

Real love is iron sharpening iron!

We typically take on the actions and language of our environment.

“Anyone who walks with wise people grows wise.
But a companion of foolish people suffers harm”.  Prov. 13:20 NIRV

“Do not be so deceived and misled!  Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character”.  I Cor. 15:33 AMP

When we surround ourselves with other people who love Christ, there is the likelihood that you will become a better and stronger Christian!

If that environment is not good, let’s say “Iron and Paper”, the sharpening process cannot take place and we lose our passion for Jesus.

If we want to be sharp for Jesus and His Kingdom, then we must put ourselves in the position of being sharpened by Jesus and those HE puts in our lives.

When Christians are spending time with each other, there is an incredible sharpening that occurs.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

…..iron sharpens iron………

As a tribute to my best friend and prayer partner’s birthday this week, I am going to write about how we can sharpen each other.

My friend has encouraged, challenged and incited me to become all Christ has called me to be.   She has truly been “iron sharpening iron”.    For that I am grateful beyond words! 

I pray that God will bless you a thousand fold!

Happy Birthday, Suzanne!   

 “As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend”.    Prov. 27:17 NLT

Have you ever tried to use a pair of scissors or a knife only to find that they are dull?    It was probably frustrating!

Just as a knife that is not sharp is not productive, useful, helpful, or ready-------so to be sharpened as a person is to be ready for life, useful, helpful and productive.

 It reflects the fullness of life: physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually.

The principle is clear; just as iron sharpens iron----so we sharpen someone to prepare, make glad, useful and productive for growing in every area of life.

The Word of God calls each of us to teach, encourage, set an example, explain, exhort, and to prompt each other on towards love and good deeds.

The Bible also teaches us to be careful in the words we use, the example we set and how we treat others.

One thing is for certain we cannot sharpen one another by being indifferent, independent, and fake.

I think Paul summed it all up when he said; “We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too”  (I Thess. 2:8 NLT).

That is how it is when we experience sharpening by those who invest themselves in our lives.  It is the joy we experience when we invest our lives to sharpen each other to grow, to become more useful, capable and ready for life: mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually!

As we consider this truth---the principle of true relationships----we should ask ourselves a couple of questions:

Who sharpens you?

How are you sharpening others to be ready for Jesus’ return?

“Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing”.     I Thess. 5:11 Amp.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nail prints in the heart……

“In all their distress he too was distressed,
and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them
all the days of old”.  Isa. 63:9  NIV

The truth of our devotion to Jesus is not measured by our words, but by our sufferings.

When Paul urged the Colossians on to greater zeal for God, he did not argue; he was direct; “With my own hand I write this: Greetings from Paul, Do not forget my chains!......” (Col. 4:18 GNT).   If his sufferings for Christ could not convince them nothing could.

What started Paul thinking about Jesus----Stephen’s speech or his death?          (Acts 7:60-8:1)

Paul has left us many memorials of his devotion to Jesus Christ, (letters, sermons, miracles, etc) but he left nothing greater than his chains, the symbol of his sufferings for Christ’s sake.

The measure of a person’s devotion to any cause, right or wrong, is the depth of the suffering he is willing to undergo for it.   That is why Paul could say, “I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6:17).

What scars do I bear for Jesus?

Scars are not an end in themselves, but signs of an inward commitment.  I must not seek scars of the body, but rather scars of the Spirit.   The scars of the Spirit are the sacrifices of my will, self-dependency and self-centeredness for Christ’s sake.

Whether or not I ever wear physical scars for Christ is not essential; it is absolutely essential that I wear spiritual scars for Him.

How else can I be a witness….a living epistle for His Glory? 

Spiritual scars speak the truth of God’s Word… may go through the wilderness, test and trials, or the fiery furnace……..He will NEVER abandon you.

Are there nail prints in your heart?

Only then can you help someone else.

Paul rejoiced in his scars, because then, he said, “the power of Christ may rest upon me” (II Cor. 12:9-10); he was willing to trade scars for the privilege of bearing fruit.

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more”. John 15:1-2 NLT

God’s Word Is a Fire and Hammer……

“My words are a powerful fire; they are a hammer that shatters rocks”.                 Jer. 23:29 CEV

I must realize that the Bible is not only my source of comfort, but also my source of bruising.

If I have never felt the scorching heat of God’s Word or the shattering of the Bible’s blow, I am not making much progress as a disciple.

The Bible is a sharp sword; it pierces, divides, discerns, and teaches the depths of my personality, down to the thoughts and motives of my heart. (Heb. 4:12)

We must be aware of the person who preaches a sugar-coated faith.   Faith in God is not an Aladdin’s lamp that grants our every wish.

The false teacher is the person who offers nothing but peace, honey, joy, security and prosperity.   They do that, of course, because it is what man craves, they are people-pleasers; it provides a ready- made audience and a “guarantee” of success.

There are times when God’s Word will not give us peace.

Jesus is our true Friend.  He offers us a rewarding future, but not without “persecution” (Mk 10:29-30).   He wants to deliver us safe and holy.   That is why His Word must sometimes make us ache with soreness and weep with bitterness.

We should respond with Mary’s sincere humility, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May everything you have said about me come true…….Oh, how my soul praises the Lord”.  Luke 1:38,46 NLT

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”.  Heb. 4:12 NKJV

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How do we hurt the heart of God?

“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.”  Isa. 6:5 NIV

Sin is a “me-first” self-pleasing attitude of the heart which denies God’s authority to direct our lives and our world.

Sinful actions such as hatred, jealousy, adultery and blasphemy spring from a heart corrupted by the power of sin.   There are two root sins---one is pride and the other unbelief. 

Pride is evidenced by an attitude which is demanding and arrogant, denies its need for God, and is unteachable, impatient, overly critical of others and hard hearted. 

Unbelief also, is the root of much sin.   If we really believed in God’s goodness, wisdom and love, what motive would remain for not doing things God’s way?

These attitudes hurt the heart of God and often cause insensitivity to others as well; resulting in us saying and doing things that were better not said or done.

Sin always takes more than it gives!  Whatever you gain by compromise you will eventually lose.   Sin is the deadly human condition which opens the door to oppression and God’s displeasure and judgment.

Sin definitely creates a barrier to true communication with God.  He loves us and wants us to overcome sin.   He knows we are powerless to do it by ourselves, and for this reason He has given us the Holy Spirit and His Word as divine resources in our warfare against sin.

What does your mind dwell upon?

Romans 8:5 says, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires”. (NIV)  To overcome sin we must have a deliberate effort to set our mind on the “things of the Spirit”.  

The things of the Spirit include the presence of God, the love of God, the fruit of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, and the Word of God. 

The things of the flesh which we are not to set our mind on include any kind of lust, selfish ambition, greed, envy, jealousy, hatred, bitterness, lying, and/or pride.   We cannot avoid these thoughts on our own.  We must instead actively and diligently seek to set our minds on the things of the Spirit with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Our mind is influenced either by the spirit of the world or by the Spirit of God.  Paul tells us in Romans 8:6, “…..letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.  But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace”.    God wants us to renew our minds through meditating on His Word.

The peace and happiness we are wanting does not come through the satisfaction of the lusts Satan tempts us to go after.  Rather it comes by focusing our hearts and minds on Jesus and the things of the Spirit.

Why do you think the way we speak is so important?

Does God fulfill the longings of our heart?

On what does this depend?    Obedience!  Our actions have consequences……either good or bad.

“The Lord detests people with crooked hearts,
but he delights in those with integrity”.   Prov. 11:20 NLT

God knows what is in your heart.

As Christians we tend to stay clear from the more obvious sins and keep our bodies and minds under God’s rule, yet sometimes we do not practice that same diligence in bringing our tongue under the Lord’s subjection. 

In what ways do we sin with our lips?

Gossiping, lying, murmuring, complaining, backbiting, slandering, and cursing….etc.   All these are things that we, as followers of Christ, ought not to do!  And it is a BIG deal to the Lord how we use our lips as is evidence by the numerous verses that are found in the Bible concerning this subject.

I pray that as you read this your heart cried out like Isaiah’s did and like mine, “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips”.

Obedience leads to Righteousness…..

“The wise in heart will be called understanding.   And to speak in a pleasing way helps people know what you say is right.

Understanding is a well of life to him who has it, but to speak strong words to fools is of no use.

The heart of the wise has power over his mouth and adds learning to his lips”.  Prov. 16:21-23 NLV

Jesus tells us that it is for us to know the mystery of the Kingdom.  

As we read the parable of the sower, we see that Satan comes immediately to steal the word of God out of our hearts (MK 4:13-15), which says, “…the sower sows the word.  And these are by the way side, where the word is sown, but when they have heard, Satan comes immediately, and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts”.    Mark 13:19 explains that it is the word that they did not understand, that was taken away.

Satan comes to steal the Word of God out of our hearts then he can kill and destroy us.  Therefore, it is very important that we mediate on the Word of God until we have a clear understanding, then we can keep what we understand in our heart.

Things get into our heart through our eye gate.

What are you putting before your eyes?

Jesus says, “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body.  When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.  But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness.  And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”  (Matt. 6:22-23 NLT)

Many Christians are trying to live their life, doing the same thing that the world is doing, but Jesus said that we are in this world but NOT of this world.

We are told to be separated from wickedness. (I Cor. 15:33-34)

We are saved by grace, but if we continue to do the things as we did before, we are snared.  Romans 6:16 says, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (NIV)

The more time we spend in the Word of God, the more powerful our life will be, because we are filling ourselves on the Word of God. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

What is in your heart?

“O my son, give me your heart.
May your eyes take delight in following my ways”.    Prov. 23:26 NLT

The Bible gives us good advice in Proverbs 3:1-8;

“My son, don’t forget my instruction.
Let your heart guard my commands,
 because they will help you live a long time
and provide you with well-being.

 Don’t let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.
Bind them on your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
 Then you will find favor and approval
in the eyes of God and humanity.

 Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
don’t rely on your own intelligence.
 Know him in all your paths,
and he will keep your ways straight.
 Don’t consider yourself wise.

Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
 Then your body will be healthy
and your bones strengthened”.  (CEB)

There are many phrases in the book of Proverbs which teaches us the importance of filling our heart with good things (Prov. 12:13-14, 15:4, 16:21-24). 

“Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach;
good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest. 

 Words kill, words give life;
they're either poison or fruit—you choose”.   Prov. 18:20-21 MSG

We are creating things in our life by the words we speak, good or bad…..death and life are in the power of the tongue.

Over and over again, we see how important it is for believers to fill their heart with the Word of God.

Remember His Word says that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks and the Word of God is spirit and life.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Our words reveal our heart………

“Smooth words may hide a wicked heart,                                                             just as a pretty glaze covers a clay pot.

 People may cover their hatred with pleasant words,
but they’re deceiving you.
 They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them.
Their hearts are full of many evils.
 While their hatred may be concealed by trickery,
their wrongdoing will be exposed in public.

 If you set a trap for others,
you will get caught in it yourself.
If you roll a boulder down on others,
it will crush you instead.

 A lying tongue hates its victims,
and flattering words cause ruin”.    Prov. 26:23-28  NLT

In Hebrew, the word for “Heart” is lebab.   It “not only includes the motives, feelings, affections, and desires, but also the will, the aims, the principles, the thoughts, and the intellect.”

The Greek word for “Heart” is kardia, from which we get the word cardiology.   The heart is the center of the inner life of man and the source or seat of all the forces and functions of soul and spirit.

Thus kardia comes to stand for the whole of the inner being of man in contrast to his external side.   Therefore, the heart is supremely the one center in man to which God turns, in which the spiritual life is rooted, whereby determining moral conduct.

The Bible talks about a distracted heart in the last days:

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap”.          Lk 21:34 NIV

“Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life”.   Prov. 4:23 AMP

 “Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life”.   Prov. 4:23 NLT

The Bible also tells us that our actions precede out of the heart:

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart”.   Lk 6:45  NASB

Whatever you have in your heart in abundance will eventually come out of your mouth.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Obedience is faith in action!

“Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you.  And now that I am away, it is even more important.  Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.   For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him”.   Phil. 2:12-13 NLT

As a disciple of Christ we must use the right building blocks in their proper order to set our foundation and to grown in our relationship with Jesus.

The first, and most important, building block of all is obedience!  

We must discard the notion that faith, a very important building block, exist by itself.

“Faith, if it has no works, is dead”  (Js 2:17).

Obedience is faith in action.  It is the tangible evidence that genuine faith exist on the inside of us.

While it is difficult to say which comes first, faith or obedience, without obedience faith will never grow.

Obedience is also essential to knowledge.

My cry for understanding and enlightenment will rise no higher than my head until I put into practice what God has already taught me.   It is in the usage of my supplies that God multiplies my supplies.

If we do not obey in the basics, He will never lead us on.

Obedience is the necessary stepping stone to fruitfulness and power.

Often times, we complain about our lack of power and answers to prayer whereby we beg God to hear us and send a blessing.

He will not bless us until we obey the Word He has already given us.

God’s abundant power and favor immediately accompanies the one who obeys Him.

We must bring ourselves back to the basics of discipleship and see that the first building block is in place.

Once we begin to obey, God will begin to bless and He will lead us until His “grand design” is finished.

“Study this Book of Instruction continually.  Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do”.   Josh. 1:8 NLT

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Captivity did more than the prophets……

“Create a clean heart in me, O God,
and renew a faithful spirit within me.”   Psalm 51:10 GW

If we become stubborn about a weakness or sin, God may force us to take “the cure”.

The cure is described in Jer. 27:17, “Serve the king of Babylon and live!”  

A strange message from a true servant of God.   We would have expected to hear, “Serve the Lord and live!”

But no, the right thing was wrong and the wrong thing was right!

There are times when God allows, and even commands, us to do what He has expressly forbidden.   “He that is filthy, let him be filthy still” (Rev. 22:11).

It that because God is unholy?    NOT in the least!

He urges that direction because He is holy; He simply wants us to get our fill of sin so completely that the very thought of it nauseates us.

None of the prophets was able to convince Israel to leave their sins; yet seventy years in Babylon did what no prophet could do.

He sent them captive into the very fountain head of idolatry and they came out a cleansed and purified nation after seven decades.

Must God go to such extremes with me?

Must I be submerged in sin in order to see its odiousness?

The distinguishing character of any true disciple is a “paper-thin” sensitivity to sin.

I have noticed seasoned----true saints are so sensitive to the slightest sins that they mourn, weep and agonize.

“Lord, my prayer is, make me so sensitive to sin that its slightest presence will send me to Calvary for protection!    Make me averse to sin like that, for when I am averse to sin it means the Holy Spirit is deliberately refining me in the divine image; the new heart and right spirit are displacing the old and the wrong”.

“As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses around us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us”.            Heb. 12:1 GNT

Is it possible for a Christian to play a fool????

“Come and eat my food, and drink the wine I have mixed.  Turn from your foolish way, and live.  Walk in the way of understanding.”  Prov. 9:5-6  NLV

While we would admit that foolishness (folly) is sin, let us also be aware of the fact that sin is foolishness.   Whenever we choose to sin, we are choosing to play the part of the fool.

When we sin, we conclude that we are wiser then God and that we are better able to judge matters than He.   Sin is the decision to reject the wisdom of God and venture out on our own.  

In the Garden of Eden, Satan deceived Eve into believing that God’s prohibition was unwise and unkind, and that disobedience would make her wise, even God-like (Gen. 3:5-6).   Such is always the case with sin---we cannot choose to sin without rejecting the wisdom of God.    Sin is folly!

Let no one deceive himself.   If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become foolish that he may become wise.   For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.

For it is written, “Stop deceiving yourselves.  If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise
in the snare of their own cleverness.”  And again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise; he knows they are worthless.”  I Cor. 3:18-20  NLT

 It is possible for a Christian to play the fool.   Unfortunately, we may stray from the path of wisdom into the path of folly and sin.   David did when he took another man’s life, and his wife (II Sam. 11).   Solomon did when he married foreign wives (I Kings 11:1-4).

The passages of the NT which speaks of putting off our old man (Eph. 4:22-32, Col. 3:9-17) are the very things which we are told to put off that are the characteristics and actions of the fool.   Our old nature is predisposed toward practicing folly.

Those of us who are Christians need to look for the fool in us, not just in others.   The foolishness of our old nature must be diligently disciplined.   We must not pamper the flesh, but crucify it.   Ultimately the only solution for foolishness is the cross.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up, his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24).

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there”.   Gal. 5:24  NLT

“My old self has been crucified with Christ.   It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”.   Gal. 2:20 NLT

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How do we reach one who is lost in foolishness?

“Fools are undone by their big mouths;
their souls are crushed by their words”.    Prov.  18:7  MSG Bible

The prodigal son did not come to his senses until he was allowed to suffer the consequences of his sins (Lk 15:11-14).    We must not hinder fools from entering the pig pen for it is there that they may come to recognize their folly.

Are fools utterly hopeless?

Should we not make any effort to turn them from their folly?

In one sense, all unbelievers are fools because they have rejected the fear of the Lord, should we do nothing to win them to Christ?

The point which Proverbs is stressing is that the fool cannot be reasoned from his folly, cannot be shamed from it, and likely cannot even be beaten from it (Prov. 27:22).  

This should not, however, lead us to the conclusion that the fool is utterly hopeless and helpless.   Everyone who does not know Christ is hopelessly lost apart from divine intervention.  The reason why Proverbs teaches us not to try to reform a fool is that he must be TRANSFORMED!

The fool’s problem is a heart issue! 

“Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life”.   Prov. 4:23 NLT

Proverbs reminds us that if we would help deliver a fool from his folly he must be saved from his sins.   Rather than working on the symptoms of his folly, we must deal with the heart of the matter.   Notice that Proverbs wisdom offers herself to all men; and specifically the fool is urged to turn from his folly.

“O foolish ones, how long will you love being foolish?   How long will those who laugh at others be happy in their laughing?   How long will fools hate much learning?    Listen to my strong words! See, I will pour out my spirit on you.   I will make my words known to you.    I called but you would not listen. I put out my hand and no one gave it a thought”.   Prov. 1:22-24 NLV

The solution for the fool is to turn from his folly, from trusting in himself, to fearing God.   If we would help the fool it is by proclaiming to him the way of salvation, not trying to inform him or reform him.  

It is only the gospel which transforms men through the power of the shed blood of Jesus Christ!

Glory be unto God!

“I’m not ashamed of the gospel: it is God’s own power for salvation to all who have faith in God, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.   God’s righteousness is being revealed in the gospel, from faithfulness for faith, as it is written, The righteous person will live by faith”.    Romans 1:16-17 CEB

A Self-Governing Spirit…..

“It's a mark of good character to avert quarrels,
but fools love to pick fights”.   Prov. 20:3  MSG Bible

The fool is one who has willfully determined not to follow the way of wisdom.   Although wisdom has sought him out, he has refused and rejected her.

One becomes a fool by trusting in himself.   If he will not trust in God he must trust in himself. (Prov. 1:7, 29).   Proverbs tells us that the fool is self-confident, trusting in his own wisdom, rather than in God and the counsel of those who are wise (Prov. 12:15).

“Those who trust in their own reasoning are fools,
but those who walk in wisdom
will be kept safe”.  Prov. 28:26 CEB

Realizing the tendency of the fool to trust in himself enriches our understanding of one of the most familiar passages in the Book of Proverbs:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not trust in your own understanding. Agree with Him in all your ways, and He will make your paths straight.   Do not be wise in your own eyes.  Fear the Lord and turn away from what is sinful”.          Prov. 3:5-7 NLV

The decision to trust in self and not God results in arrogance and in a rejection of all authority including that of one’s parents.   The fool is characterized by complacency. 

After all, who needs instruction, if he knows it all?

Who needs correction, who is never wrong?

Who needs improvement, who has already arrived at wisdom and maturity?

As a result, the fool has a self-governing spirit and is reckless in his living.        (Prov. 21:24, 15:5, 10:8, 1:32, 14:16)

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Fool Lacks Discipline

“Show me a conceited person and I will show you someone who is arrogant, proud, and inconsiderate”.    Prov. 21:24  GNT

The Book of Proverbs gives us insight as to the character traits of a fool.

I hope to set a foundation to stand upon that will give enlightenment to encourage us all to examine our hearts and seek the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to rid us of any fleshly fool within.

Hopefully, we can get a realization of how easy it is to allow our emotions and flesh to bring this folly upon us. 

We all slip by acting or saying something we usually regret later. 

With the empowerment of the Holy Spirit through conviction we can guard our thoughts, emotions and our mouth.  We can overcome our foolishness by simply asking Him for help.   With repentance and forgiveness we can move from folly to wisdom.

The fool is unrealistic about himself in that he overestimates his knowledge and abilities.  He fails to see things as they are.   Reality is distorted by his distorted outlook on life.   He lives in deception and denial!

He lacks discipline!   The fool looks upon self-control as a needless and useless denial of present pleasure.   Because of this, every area of his life lacks discipline. 

His is undisciplined with his temper and mouth! 

“A fool expresses all his emotions, but a wise person controls them”. Prov. 29:11 GW

“Prudent people don't flaunt their knowledge;
talkative fools broadcast their silliness”.   Prov. 12:23  MSG Bible

“Wise men store up learning, but the foolish will be destroyed with their mouths”.  Prov. 10:14  NLV

A fool is unreliable in His words.  They are always to be questioned.  They are usually a liar, a deceiver and a slander.

“Liars secretly hoard hatred;
fools openly spread slander”.   Prov. 10:18 MSG Bible

Even what the fool believes to be true may be only his worthless opinion.

Try as you like, attempting to teach a fool is frustrating at best, and often painful.  Whenever a fool is faced with wisdom and instruction, he will reject it.

“Because they hated much learning, and did not choose the fear of the Lord.  They would not listen when I told them what they should do.  They laughed at all my strong words.  So they will eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own plans.  For the foolish will be killed by their turning away.  The trust that fools put in themselves will destroy them”.   Prov. 1:29-32  NLV

The folly of a fool is deep-seated.  No matter how hard one strives to rid the fool of his folly, such efforts end in failure.    A fool and his folly are seemingly inseparable.

He cannot even learn from his own mistakes.  Given the opportunity, he will repeat his folly:

“As a dog returns to its vomit,
so a fool repeats his foolishness”.  Prov. 26:11 NLT

It is ironic, but true, that while the fool refuses to be taught, he is eager to teach others from his abundance of “wisdom”!