December 11 / Proverbs 11 / John 4

Proverbs 11:6

Doing right brings freedom to honest people, but those who are not trustworthy will be caught by their own desires.

Doing right, following Jesus, brings freedom. This is one of the reason we pursue God, because of the great freedom it brings.

Freedom from what?

From ourselves, our own wrong desires. From the world and its stupid soul-sucking philosophies.

If you don’t program your mind, the world will gladly do it for you.

Christianity is not about keeping away from what you want to do because “you’re not suppose to do that.” It’s more about a regeneration of heart that changes your thinking, changes the way you see the world, reprograms you–metanoia.

To desire God above all else is to be the freest of all.

So sad that many have made it a list of rules or a mere moral code. Did Jesus really die for only that??? “Hey, I’m gonna go get tortured to death and conquer hell so that you can have a new list of moral codes. Let’s celebrate!”

What?

He went thru hell to bring us LIFE, LIFE ABUNDANT AND FREE. To bring us the Spirit to guide our lives, no longer law or code. His death and resurrection redeemed all people. It’s done. Not everyone is awake to their redemption or aware of the life of peace and freedom available to them. It is our job to work with God to awaken all the sleepwalkers. To assist others in removing all the false narratives that block their homing beacon to God by proclaiming His truth, which annihilates the lies keeping us captive.

John 4:23-24

Worship God in spirit and in truth.

So much of what Jesus said and did was to reveal what is real.

God is real.

The unseen spiritual world is more real than all the world we do see.

This is the new vision regeneration gives us. You start to see the world differently. You think differently. Your values shift to what is eternally real. Many people talking to Jesus were hanging around the surface. It’s like those company parties or family get-togethers where we sit around talking about meaningless monotony–weather, football, etc. Is that all there is to talk about? Really?

Jesus was always talking at a deeper level, gently leading others to the same. Let’s look below the surface. Let’s peel back a layer. He’s always at work. Try to look for what He is doing today. Listen for HIS voice in every situation you encounter today (it is always the voice of peace). It will change how you see and live.

December 10 / Proverbs 10 / John 3

nicodemus-and-jesus

Proverbs 10:14

Wise people don’t tell everything they know.

Don’t listen to people simply to tell them what you want to say. But listen to people in order to tell them what they need to hear. In order to tell them what they actually will hear.

This is what Jesus was such an expert at. He was the ultimate listener. His words were few and full of meaning, as ours should be.

Be quick to listen, slow to speak.

John 3:3

“Let me tell you the solemn truth,” said Jesus. “Unless someone has been born from above, they won’t be able to see God’s kingdom.”

Born “from above” is likely the better translation than “born again” here. Unless you experience a spiritual birthing from where Jesus came from, you can’t see God’s kingdom at work. For it is spiritual in nature, not physical.

Nicodemus was an expert in the Jewish law yet still had a tough time with the concepts Jesus was putting forth. It’s the same today. Studying with the mind only, without the heart, blinds us to the real truth of God. Any understanding of our incomprehensible God that is granted to us will come through our spirit via His Spirit.

And this comes when we allow it–reading Scripture with an unhurried, receptive openness of heart.

John 3:5

“I’m telling you the solemn truth,” replied Jesus. “Unless someone is born of water and spirit, they can’t enter God’s kingdom.”

Water and spirit here refer to cleansing and purification. Cleansing from sin. Spiritual renewal. The evidence of salvation is the Spirit within you. If you’ve truly been born from above, your desires will be for God and what He wants. The Spirit within you, over time, will overtake the desires of the flesh.

More and more you will desire for the other drivers on the road to be at peace with God than having a frustration for them being in your way. You will find yourself wanting the love of Christ for the beautiful woman at the gym more than merely to have your way with her.

This is because of the Spirit within you that you actually received and cultivate an affinity for. This does not come thru willpower or trying harder and harder to follow Jesus’ ways. That can only last for so long before you lose it. And this cheapens Calvary greatly!

This is the difference we preach from the world’s philosophies and other religions, tho there is much good in them. There of course are God’s universal truths running thru other religions and cultures, but to enter God’s kingdom, Jesus said you must experience the cleansing from sin and the spiritual renewal that He came to bring. He was glorified so that He could give us His Holy Spirit.

Then you transform from believing to knowing. You don’t just believe in God. You know who it is who is in you, and follow His leading because of your knowing.

December 9 / Proverbs 9 / John 2

temple

Proverbs 9:4-6

Jesus came for and calls out to the uneducated, the naive, the immature, the simple-minded.

This is who He invites to His banquet table.

These are who we often ignore.

John 2:19-21

Jesus replaced the Temple.

Since about A.D. 30, the place to meet God, worship Him, learn about Him, has been Jesus of Nazareth. With Him living in us, we are what Richard Foster calls “Portable Sanctuaries.”

One of the things Jesus accomplished thru His death and resurrection was the release of the Holy Spirit to empower and indwell each one of us. This is a mysterious work that could only be brought to fruition by Perfection–the Son of God.

The more we die to ourselves, to our human desires, and self-centered “needs”, the more the Holy Spirit shines thru us and we become more like Jesus Himself–out prototype for a new kind of humanity. Being made in the image of God, our primary purpose is to become Jesus, who was the perfect image of God, for in Him nothing was in the way for the Holy Spirit to fully animate Him.

Even with this supernatural work done for us, waiting for our acceptance and embrace (placing ourselves in the way of grace), we still try to reach God by our own human power. And as a Pittsburgh police officer once told me, “NOT GONNA HAPPEN!”

December 8 / Proverbs 8 / John 1

wanderer_by_rachopin

Proverbs 8:17

I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

On the road to Emmaus, Jesus told those disciples that the whole Old Testament spoke of Him. Here we see one of the more obvious OT passages telling of Jesus. It is a good practice to read all of the OT looking for and listening to Christ.

Jesus (Wisdom in this verse) is not hard to find, but one must pursue Him.

Lady Wisdom loves those who love her, and allows those who search for her to find her. We do not get the idea that she keeps moving around so as to evade her searcher. It’s more that she stays where she is and delights in being sought after and found.

Jesus is not hard to find.

As Jesus told His followers, “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks the door will be opened!”

We don’t believe Jesus to be hiding from us as much as He resides in the deeper places.

Your lost car keys aren’t teleporting to another secret location as soon as you get close to them. They are simply waiting to be discovered (dis-covered). But if there is no search, they shall never be obtained.

John 1:4,9,18

Jesus was the light of the human race.

He showed us the way to live as we were designed to live–in union with the Father, every moment seeking Him, and pleasing Him instead of ourselves. This is the only and guaranteed way to live a fully satisfying life. To experience real life, you must lose your own life so that all is out of the way for God to live thru you.

Self-transcendence.

You no longer live to simply please yourself, for you have discovered and experienced that living for Another is way beyond pleasing. Comfort, approval, convenience, ease are not required for your happiness, tho everything residing in the shallow places screams differently. They are mere bonuses to an already joyful life in Christ. You already have the ultimate approval.

This is the path to joy, even tho it sounds ridiculous in worldly terms.

December 7 / Proverbs 7 / Luke 24

lectio

Proverbs 7:4

Make understanding your best friend.

Luke 24:25-27,44-45

“You are so senseless!” He said to them. “So slow in your hearts to believe all the things the prophets said to you! Don’t you see? This is what HAD to happen: the Messiah had to suffer and then come into His glory!” So He began with Moses, and with all the prophets, and began to explain to them the things about Himself throughout the whole Bible. then He said to them, “This is what I was talking about when I was still with you. Everything written about me in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, had to be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Bible.

How we read the Bible is so very important. It is sacred text, inspired by the Holy Spirit, therefore meant to be read on the level of the spirit. All of it speaks of God the father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

This we must keep in mind as we read, to be open to what God is telling us thru it. It was not meant merely to be a history book, and definitely not a science book. These miss the point. It can and should be studied, yet this also is missing the heart of it.

Sacred text is to be read with the heart, open and willing to hear what it is ready to penetrate us with. Even reading it to merely live life better is missing a much deeper meaning available to us. If we read it with our heart open to it, we will hear the Lord and then must respond in obedience to it. The Bible is best read unhurried, receptive, and open to whatever God may want to say to us and ask of us…reading it to seek after God, ready with a holy expectancy for His presence to be made manifest to us in the midst of our reading.

Only the Holy Spirit can truly teach us the Scriptures. Some go so far as to say that reading the Bible without really knowing how to read the Bible is like giving your car keys to a child and letting them go for a spin. It’s that dangerous. Just look at what people have done with the Bible over the centuries. Misreading it, they have acted against what it purports, yet in the very name of it!

Judging, condemning, bombing, hating…..in the name of Jesus…!

December 6 / Proverbs 6 / Luke 23

crowd-crucify-him

Proverbs 6:19

The Lord hates when people start arguments and stir up conflict among families.

He hates that.

The verse actually says He hates people who do this. I don’t quite comprehend that, but it’s heavy as hell.

Luke 23:23

But they went on shouting at the tops of their voices, demanding that He be crucified; and eventually their shouts won the day.

Pilate was overwhelmed by the crowd.

This makes us think of the shouts of the world coming at us everyday. The lies. How vital it is to be filled with the Truth, with thoughts of God to combat the high volume attack the world tries to beat us down with.

The world is no match for He who made it tho. We must remember this, that we must be a branch connected to the true Vine or else we can do nothing.

We must counter every shouting attack with the word of God. The Holy Spirit. Talking to God during the times we are attacked, discouraged, and tired. This is key. He really will meet us there and lift us up. He wants to!

God

is

for

us.

December 5 / Proverbs 5 / Luke 22

judas-30-poeces-silver

Proverbs 5

No matter how good forbidden fruit looks, sounds, feel, or even tastes, the partaking of it, even to try it, will always and inevitably result in tremendous pain.  There is no way you can see, know, or comprehend the extent of the pain ahead of time or how many will be hurt in the thoughtless wake of your selfish seeking.

You cannot go against God’s design and win.  Maybe for a minute, but not forever.

The eyes of Yahweh are on the paths of humans, observing all their courses. (v.21)

You can be inebriated with the love of God and your spouse, or you can be inebriated with your own stupidity–and that results in death. (v.23)

Luke 22:22

For the Son of Man goes as it is determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed.

This is one of those paradoxical mysteries that reminds us that we are not God and cannot comprehend Him and His ways, which are so very far above our ways.  But we can trust Him, for He is infinitely good and He knows what He is doing. (And let’s face it, we are not infinitely good, and we don’t know what we are doing. So why not trust the One who is and knows)

It was determined that Jesus would be betrayed and suffer, yet Judas was still responsible for his own actions, making each decision freely, and therefore would be judged accordingly.  Yet he still fulfilled the decree of God.

What?

Jesus was given to you, and with the help of those who don’t know the law, you put Him to death by nailing Him to a cross.  But this was God’s plan which He had made long ago; He knew all this would happen. -Acts 2:23

What I take from this is that God’s gonna get done what God’s gonna get done.  And I have the God-given free will choice to be whatever contributing part of His will being done on earth I choose to be.

Or I can choose to go against it.

Which sounds incredibly stupid.

I’m not sure I even understand what I just wrote.

God is awesome.

December 4 / Proverbs 4 / Luke 21

widows-mite

Proverbs 4:24

Avoid all foolish talk, gossip, perverse speech, anything that does not edify, anything that gives appearance of evil.  Be above reproach with your speech so others may not use it against you, against the Kingdom.
I’ll be honest, this is a tough one for me many times. But it is good to often ask ourselves, “What do I really want?”  Or “What do I really not want?”  And what I do not want is to lead any astray with careless words that can be easily taken to fuel unbelief or cynicism. I do not want my words to bring any harm to others, but rather encouragement.

Luke 21:1-4

“I tell you the truth, this poor widow gave more than all those rich people. They gave only what they did not need. This woman is very poor, but she gave all she had to live on.”  [NCV]

Do you give a tiny portion out of your surplus?
Or do you give in a way that you actually can notice and feel the sacrifice?
Be it monetarily or with the precious commodity of your time? More specifically, do you give the gift of yourpresence with people? For presence is even more valuable than your time.

We believe this to be YHWH’s greatest gift and therefore the greatest we can give to others.Presence.

You sometimes hear of those very present people who make others feel as though they were the only other person in the room, no matter how many people are in it.There’s a love song with the line “In a crowded room, all I see is you.”

This is Presence.

December 3 / Proverbs 3 / Luke 20

thankful-poor

Proverbs 3:7

Don’t depend on your own wisdom [be wise in your own eyes].  Respect [Fear;Hold in awe] the Lord and refuse to do wrong [turn away from evil]. EXB
Proverbs 3:18
As a tree produces fruit, wisdom gives life to those who use it, and everyone who uses it will be happy.
Those who USE it.
Wisdom is great but does nothing for you if you don’t actually use it.
God is there to be sought after and called upon.  This is tough in those difficult moments when our flesh kicks in and shuts down part of our brain used for rational thinking.  This is why we train ourselves to make going to God our default setting.  This requires “off the spot” training, so that when we’re on-the-spot, we can respond the right way.

Not like the bumper sticker I saw last week > “When all else fails, pray!”  As if we’re to try all the non-God options we can think of first.  How bout “Before doing anything, PRAY!” 

PRAY FIRST.

PRAY DURING.

PRAY ALWAYS.

Like when people say, “All we have left to do now is pray.”  Well why weren’t you doing that from the get go???  We’re not trying to be overly harsh, just encouraging us to stop and think about what we say and convey.

Luke 20:1-8
Jesus said to them in effect, “If you cannot recognize divine authority when you see it in action, no amount of argument will convince you of its presence. If you cannot tell me by what authority John baptized, I will not tell you by what authority I do these things.”       –from Hard Sayings of the Bible
What we learn from Jesus here, and elsewhere in His answering of questions, is to know your listeners. Seek to go deeper with them on the “why” of what they are asking. Don’t cheapen conversation with quick answers.
Just as the Bible is not necessarily a quick answer book on life.  It is deep treasure to be intentionally mined.  God wants to be close to us and spend time together.  As we’ve said before, doing the “One Minute With God” devotional only, will probably not result in a transformed, godly, powerful life, just saying’.That’d be kinda like doing two push-ups a day for a few months and wondering why you’re not a beast.  Gee, I wonder…
You reap what you sow.
Sow one minute with God, reap the life that that produces.
Sow a life devoted to Him, reap the life that that produces.

December 2 / Proverbs 2 / Luke 19

rhythms-seasons
Proverbs 2
“God’s created order is designed to crush you if you resist.” -Miguel Mesa
Utilizing the laws of the universe, as set by YHWH, means non-resistance and acceptance of what is. The sooner you go here, the sooner you will experience peace and wisdom.
Jesus was one with the Father and lived a life of non-resistance to Him and His order every moment.  He was what some would call a “Master” at a very young age.  You don’t have to be really old to be very wise, if you would but surrender to YHWH’s rule early on. As Indiana Jones said, “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.”

But many do not choose to surrender until much later in life and through much suffering, which is a major path to growth- if you accept it without resistance. Keep in mind the difference between acceptance and complacency.  Acceptance involves that which you cannot change–the great “unfixables” of life.  Wisdom is seeing these things, acknowledging them head-on and facing them (no matter how painful), and then moving on to proper and right action.  And it is only after this acknowledging and the facing of these unfixables (acceptance) that the proper action is even possible. Resistance, as well as denial, is futile.Complacency is related to that which you can change, that which you can do something about.  Until you have enough discontent with your situation, you will not move into action.  Not all discontent is bad.  There is a holy discontent out of which desire is born.  And it is this desire, this longing for more, that moves us into action. Only when you have reached a place of being wholly discontent with the physical shape you are in, will you move into action and start doing whatever it takes to eat healthily and exercise consistently.  Only when you are wholly discontent with what this world has to offer will you move into the action of seeking after God and what He has to offer from His kingdom, which is not of this world.

If you are not taking action in any given situation, then you must face the painful truth that you are content with where you are.

Whether it be the shape you are in or your contentment with the shiny things of this world, as long as you stay where you are, you are complacently content with the situation and will not move forward until desire is birthed.

Luke 19:8
But Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “I will give half of my possessions to the poor.  And if I have cheated anyone, I will pay back four times more.”
Zacchaeus’ giving is a response to grace from a heart transformed, rather than a prideful determination to earn grace through his good works. It was a response to meeting Jesus.

 

His faith is demonstrated in concrete expression and future resolve (not just present behavior change).  By assuming the responsibility that he does, Zacchaeus is showing a “thank offering expressive of a changed heart.”

Jesus affirms this.