February 18 / Proverbs 18 / Luke 5

Jesus-prays-wilderness

Luke 5:15-16

Many crowds would gather around Jesus, but He would withdraw to deserted places to pray.

We need time alone with God so that we can actually hear Him and renew our energy.

Everyone needs a rhythmic form of daily renewal, and for most of us, it’s that “witching hour” sometime between 2 and 5 in the afternoon. This is when we need to call a spiritual partner, meditate, read a verse or passage that reminds us of the truth we need to hear at that time to stay the course… Just take 10 minutes to STOP. It’s awesomeness the good effect this short time of slowing down can have on our psyche.

Luke 5:36-39

Jesus brought in the New Covenant, which fulfilled and actually replaced the Old Covenant as this passage seems to indicate.

He wasn’t just tacking some more stuff on to the Old Testament. The old traditional ways of the Law are being replaced by the new way of the Spirit, which fulfills the entire OT.

People get use to tradition, and it is difficult to adapt to new ways, even when they are truth given by God Himself.

When you take note, back of all the Laws given by God is love of God, self, and others. In the New Covenant days since Jesus, we live by the power of the Spirit who enables us to love God with all our heart, love ourselves well [because He does], and love all people this same way. And when you live in this love, you have no need of the Laws for you are already fulfilling them without even looking at them.

It’s kind of like if you drive south to Marengo Cave in southern Indiana every couple weeks or so. After a while you no longer need a map or to even look at the signs along the road. You just drive to Marengo. It does not render the road signs invalid. They are still correct. You just don’t need to use them anymore.

May we only work toward truly loving God, ourselves, and others from the sincerity of our inner self, our heart, and cease striving toward the right behavior, doing the right thing. Oh the freedom this brings!

Proverbs 18:1

No one does life well alone. We are designed to live in a spiritual family and flourish within it.

The aim of God in history is the creation of an all-inclusive community of loving persons with God Himself at the very center of this community as its prime Sustainer and most glorious Inhabitant.

-Dallas Willard

February 17 / Proverbs 17 / Luke 4

Devil armwrestling Jesus

Proverbs 17:5

Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who are glad at calamity will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 17:9

Unforgiveness harbored in your heart will hold you back more than just about anything else in this life. It is the evil one who wants you to dwell on disagreements, and not on God.

Proverbs 17:22

One of the basic human needs is encouragement. We can all do our part to encourage someone everyday. The blessing that a few minutes of your day can bring to someone is immeasurable!

Proverbs 17:24

The discerning person looks to true wisdom, God’s ways, on how to live life and make decisions. Unwise people look to everything else but God for the answer.

Luke 4:14

“Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit…”

Overcoming temptation makes you stronger, just like working out does. Sometimes I feel the energy I spend fighting temptation is wasted energy, but it is actually strengthening me in the Spirit. So battling is a good thing. Giving in weakens you because you are in the flesh, which is much weaker than the Holy Spirit.

February 16 / Proverbs 16 / Luke 3

root

Luke 3:9

Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees, so every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire!

Here, John is explaining that repentance is deeper than a mere change in behavior or even a change of mind, tho it definitely includes these two. The type of repentance leading to Kingdom of God Life is a transformation of the whole person. It is a change of being. It is a change of what and who you live for. Your motivation is now love of God and love of others in every nuance of your life. This springs up from our deep core, our “roots.”

This morning I was given a different view on this verse than I’ve had before. To cut down the tree and throw it in the fire may not necessarily mean that the person is wiped out. But I wonder if it could be referring to the cutting away of all that is of self, that is godless fruit in one’s life. The person remains, but all the bad and toxic growth must be cut away to give a chance for new life to spring forth.  I don’t want to ignore the eschatological element in this passage and reference to judgment, but could there be more? Something else?

The people John was talking to here were not all wiped out as far as I know. They were given this chance at a new root system from which to operate their lives. For those awakened by Christ, there is a restart, a rebirthing. And even for Christians, there are times of “pruning” to cut back the harmful growth that has come as a result of self-seeking.

In the context of this passage, the toxic growth was religiosity and corruption. The call was to be rooted in God and now thru the Christ. Everything in your life that has grown as a result of self-seeking and self-protection must be cut away. Yes, this is painful, but very worth it. We don’t focus on the cutting, but rather the beautiful result of the axe work.

Freedom.

Good fruit.

Proverbs 16:6

By the fear of God one departs from evil.

If there’s something in your life you want to rid yourself of, you will not do so by trying. By focusing on the ridding. What will work, is getting closer to God. The pursuing of God is  the slaying of idols.

A proper reverential awe for God, as His essence commands, will beautifully scare the hell out of you.

All those times my heart was broken by a girl, the only thing that soothed my broken little heart was finding someone new, not sitting alone focusing on trying to get over my broken heart. But what really  healed me was when that “someone new” was God Himself. That was the only lasting and total healing.

February 15 / Proverbs 15 / Luke 2

Anna

Proverbs 15:5,10,31-32

When you’re pursuing God, you take criticism, correction, and admonishment well because all you desire is to be conformed to the image of Christ. You welcome this somewhat painful sharpening as an effective means of growth into Christ likeness.

The closer you get to the Father, the more “unoffendable” you become.

Luke 2:19, 51

But Mary treasured all these things and mused over them in her heart. 

I like her.

This is profound basic foundational living. Keep Jesus close at heart and think about Him all the time.

Luke 2:36-40

How about this Anna? Just when I start to think I’m really dedicated to the Lord I read, “She never left the Temple but stayed there day and nite, worshipping God with fasting and prayer.”

Overachiever…shees.

Luke 2:41-52

Pretty sharp little 12 year old that Yeshua.

Verse 46 is one we meditate upon in the school of spiritual direction:

And so it happened that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions.

In this school, we are trained to listen well and ask good questions. Jesus was doing this at twelve years old.

February 14 / Proverbs 14 / Luke 1

oxen

Proverbs 14:4

Where there are no oxen, there is no grain; abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.

Where the Holy Spirit is not allowed to work, there is no true fruit. Real abundance comes from the strength of YHWH, not our own.

Proverbs 14:23

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

Profit and reward come from action. Just talking about what you’re going to do is worthless. Shut up and act. Really. Shut your big yapper and DO SOMETHING. My ears get sick to their little stomachs from the torment of hearing what you’re GONNA do.

Proverbs 14:29-30

Dealing with your anger and being patient with people brings great peace, clarity, and ability to think correctly thru situations. Getting angry quickly just reveals your pride and entitlement because you think you should have everything your way all the time.

Luke 1:37

For nothing will be impossible with God.

So without God, there is a lot that is impossible.

You can do a lot thru discipline alone. A lot of good. But it will only take you so far. If you want to do more than is even possible, you will need to use a source of power that is beyond your own capacity and limitations. Depending, really depending, on the Holy Spirit is awesome indeed. It also relieves much pressure.

If you are feeling frustration in any area, especially in ministry, you are most likely depending on self to get done what only God can and would like to accomplish. Yet we do not forget that He accomplishes His will via humans. But the difference is that it’s in His power. It is absolutely jugular that we are listening to Him, and not all the competing voices, so that we just do what He tells us to do.

Then rest in it, and watch Him work.

We work only so He can work thru us.

February 13 / Proverbs 13 / Mark 16

empty tomb

Proverbs 13:13-14, 18

Make it your own personal rule to embrace all criticism without defending yourself. Take whatever of it is true and use it to make the changes to become a better person. There is immense power in this humility.

Which is more important to you? To be better? Or to be right?

To become more effective? Or to remain unchallenged?

Here is a section from Greg McKeown’s most helpful book, Essentialism:

INSTEAD, ADMIT FAILURE TO BEGIN SUCCESS

I remember a friend who would never stop to ask for directions because he could never admit he was lost. So we would waste time and energy driving around in circles, getting nowhere–the epitome of a nonessential activity.

Only when we admit we have made a mistake in committing to something can we make a mistake a part of our past. When we remain in denial, on the other hand, we continue to circle pointlessly. There should be no shame in admitting a mistake; after all, we are really only admitting that we are now wiser than we once were.

Mark 16:8

And going outside, they fled from the tomb, gripped by trembling and amazement. They didn’t say anything to anybody, for they were afraid.

Sometimes when God actually does something tangible within the context of our real life now, we freak out a little bit. Or we experience a “too-good-to-be-true”  feeling or reaction. When God does just what He promises, it is still a little weird and difficult to process at first. Jesus said He would rise from the dead. Then He did. Then people freaked out.

He says He will comfort us. He says He will do more than we can even dream up of asking for. And many times when He follows thru, we are stunned and say nothing about it to anyone. Yet it is so encouraging to those around us when we share our stories of God’s caring hand in our lives. This builds joy. We must share.

But why are we so surprised by His care if He is who He says He is? If He is omnipotent, perfect LOVE.

This past year or so, whenever I have asked Him for encouragement, He sends it in some unforeseen manner by way of an unpredictable person, some friends, some strangers, some book. Every time, I am amazed. But no longer shocked. That’s just what He does, how He rolls. The game-changer for me was truly believing it. Choosing to trust He is true to His word. I now ask Him for encouragement, knowing He will send it at the right moment, trusting Him. And He sends it, every time. Just the practice of believing when I ask is usually enough to make me smile.

God loves it when we trust Him and depend on Him. That’s His desire which is flowing out of His abundant goodness. I want Gabriela and Zayra to trust me and be able to depend on me. It would stab me to find out that they don’t fully trust in me as their father. Even when I am inconsistent in my finitude in bringing their after-school snack for the ride home, the droopy look on their little faces pierces my heart.

But our heavenly Father is perfect. He never forgets our after-school snack, yet we live and act as tho He forgets it all the time. “He may or may not bring it today, I don’t know…” This is simple unbelief on our part–in His goodness, in His omnipotence, in His care for us. I mean, He cares for the little birdies out there.

If you do not have peace, remember, it is not any failure on God’s end. He is. He always IS. It is a dysfunction on our end. We don’t beat ourselves up over it, we just find the dysfunction and reverse the lie, trusting in His care.

He is the God of all comfort. That is a promise, and I for one , have experienced it.

Amen.

February 12 / Proverbs 12 / Mark 15

veil torn

Proverbs 12:1

To learn, you must love discipline. To hate correction is stupid.

Proverbs 12:3

There’s no stability in the world’s way. No matter how much you have, you’re always looking over your shoulder it seems. You’re never just at rest and content. There’s always more to attain, more to prove. But with God as your root system, you are firmly planted no matter what your circumstances may be. He’s easily and simply impressed–faith and trust. That’s it. Who else do we need to please but Him?

Mark 15:38

Then the parokhet* of the Temple was split in two, from top to bottom. [Tree of Life Bible]

*The curtain that divided the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place in the Tabernacle and the Temple. The Holy of Holies was where the presence of God dwelt, and only the high priest could enter this are, and only once a year–on the Day of Atonement.

The only way we are able to have a relationship with the one true God, YWHW, is thru the sacrificial death of Jesus of Nazareth. Whether people know it or not, that is what opened the door to heaven. May we never permit this to stray from our minds.

The highest form of living, the most fulfilling, the most successful, is possible only because of that death on that day at that time. It is all we can claim to get thru to God.

Resilience

Resilience is a mindset. Resilient people see challenges as opportunities. They do not seek problems, but they understand that they will ultimately be strengthened by them. Rather than engaging in self-doubt, catastrophic thinking, or a mindset of victimization (why me?), they seek solutions.

-Kenneth Ginsburg

February 11 / Proverbs 11 / Mark 14

signpost

Proverbs 11:5

The godly are directed by honesty; the wicked fall beneath their load of sin.

When we seek God first in all things and live the way that He tells us is best, we receive direction. You reveal to me the path of life [Psalm 16:11].

There are not as many sign posts, nor as much clarity, when living life in sin, for self. You miss much of the beauty of God’s direction when going against Him. That is a hard life.

Mark 14:36

“Abba, Father,” He said, “all things are possible for you! Take this cup away from me! But-not what I want, but what You want.”

gethsemane

Since God can do anything, it is safe to say that when we experience any affliction or suffering (especially one which is not a direct consequence of our own sin), that it must be within His purview and ability to accomplish His perfect, beyond-our-comprehension will. If we endure, the reward is insanely great. Jesus went thru the greatest possible suffering and was rewarded accordingly, seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, the Creator of all we know, and no doubt beyond what we know.

What if we viewed every single nuance of our life as given or allowed by our loving Father in order to train us to become what He would have us to be? How would our attitude change if we saw everything as for our perfecting? And what if we chose to trust that the more difficult the training, the greater the role He must be preparing us for?

Will you tap out and remain where you are?

Or will you persevere and become an elite warrior of YHWH? A warrior whose skill is not any form of attack, but rather loving people the way God loves people–the most powerful weapon in the universe. For what other weapon changes the hearts of people?

Total trust and surrender is what He asks of us. Complete care and protection of our souls is what He promises.

We have nothing to fear.

jesus-in-heaven