Sword Fighting Class – Tangled Webs

What an awesome thing God is doing!  We are reviewing our scriptures every day, several times a day…..and God is etching it on our minds so we can remember it.  So we can live it!Proverbs 2 1st page

My child, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and you will find the knowledge of God. 

For the Lord gives wisdom, from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.  He guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.  

Then you will understand what is right and just and fair- every good path.  For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.  Discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you.  Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perseverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways. Proverbs 2 -13-3-11

It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive ways who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God.  For her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead.

Thank you, God for helping us memorize your words!  Here is the next verse:

None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we go down the path of sin.  We get confused.  We lose sight of what is most important.  We get lost……

The joy we’re looking for will not be found on the path of sin.

The peace we’re looking for will not be experienced on the path of sin.

The purpose and fulfillment we desire will not happen on the path of sin.

The love and forgiveness and wholeness that only comes from God will not be a part of our lives when turn away from him and we choose to go down the paths of sin.

Thank you, Abba Father, for lighting our paths with your word of truth so we don’t have to wander.

Audio file of me saying Proverbs 2 from memory:

We Make A Mess

We can do what makes us happy.

We can focus on what we want.

We can fill up our calendars with commitments we have made and things that are important to us – maybe squeezing in a visit to church once in a while.

But when something bad happens to us, who do we turn to?August 22 2015 we make a mess

Who are we suddenly calling on to help us?

Now that this terrible thing has landed on our doorstep, we want God to get involved.  We want him to listen.

And he is.

Unfortunately, sometimes it can be too late like it was for King Zedekiah in Jeremiah 21.  The king had rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar which was not very smart.  Zedekiah’s army was like an ant facing the giant, fierce lion of Nebuchadnezzar’s army.

When this roaring lion of an army showed up outside of Jerusalem’s city walls, Zedekiah finally decided it was time to consult with God through Jeremiah.

God said it was too late.  God had set his plans of punishment for the people’s years of sins in motion and everything was going to be destroyed.

It was too little, too late.

The good news is that God no longer punishes believer for their sins.  Jesus paid the price for all of our sins – past and future – on the cross.

When I read the Old Testament, I am reminded what an awesome gift that is.  The Holy Spirit now lives inside of us – leading us into truth and life.

If we take the time to listen.

If we decide to obey.

We are no longer punished for our sins but God does let us experience the consequences of our bad decisions.  He disciplines and teaches us as any good father would do for the children he loves.

We decide how many consequences we’re going to experience by how many decisions we make without consulting God.  We choose how many messes we will create when we choose to do things our way instead God’s way.

Of course, sometimes things happen to us just because we live in a sinful world.  They are not a consequence of our choices.  But God can still use these situations to grow us and mature us if we’re listening.  If we’re submitting to him and obeying.

God is telling us that, either way, its much better to be listening and obeying daily than to wait until we have a roaring lion of a mess in our lives.

Please help us listen and obey, Abba Father.  Thank you for the miracle of your grace in our lives.

 

Standing in the Gap

  • remaining faithful to God and his word through all of life’s ups and downs.
  • discipling and mentoring others as we walk this path of faith together.
  • praying and loving others, leaving the judging to God.
  • keeping our eyes on God instead of all the ‘attractions’ of this world.
  • sharing the Good News with others so they might believe.August 20 2015 standing in the gap

In Ezekiel, God told the people of Judah that he had looked for someone to stand before him in the gap on behalf of the people of the land but he found no one.

Not one.

Dear Father, you are a righteous and holy God.  Please help us walk in step with you, repentant and obedient.  When you look on us today, may you find us standing in the gap for others.  You have made that possible by your grace and the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us.  We love you!  In the redeeming name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Trying To Get Our Attention

Attempting to cut through the din of noise that surrounds us.

Trying to squeeze into a small slot of time in our packed schedules.

Waiting for even just a few brief moments when our attention isn’t totally focused on ourselves.august 19 2015 trying to get our attention

This is how I imagine God spends a lot of his time – just trying to get us to focus on him for more than a few fleeting thoughts during our day.

He wants to guide us.

He wants to give us wisdom.

He wants to heal our brokenness and bring us joy.

If we would just let him.

Give him some space in our lives.

Give him some time.

As we read Ezekiel, we see God using the image of a polished and sharpened sword as he tried to get the people’s attention.  He described the slaughter and slashing and striking that was coming if the people didn’t repent and turn back to him.

But none of these warnings had any affect on the people of Judah.  They continued to ignore Ezekiel.

They continued to ignore God.

Any of us reading this story today would say they should have listened.  We have the benefit of hindsight.  They should have repented and got their act together.  Really bad things were coming their way – couldn’t they see they needed to get close to God?  Couldn’t they understand that God was reaching out to them through Ezekiel – trying to get their attention?

Just like God is reaching out to us today through Ezekiel?

He is trying to get more of our attention.

We know what the people of Judah did – they ignored God.

The question is – what are we going to do?

Sword Fighting Class – Step Away From the Line

This is an amazing journey as God faithfully writes his words from Proverbs 2 on our hearts and minds.  You may have used the same excuse I used to use  about not memorizing scripture – that I have a bad memory.  We are discovering that our bad memories don’t matter.  Nothing is impossible with God – and he’s proving it!Proverbs 2 1st page - this one

“My child, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will know the fear of the Lord and you will find the knowledge of God. 

For the Lord gives wisdom, from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.  He guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.  Then you will understand what is right and just and fair – every good path.  For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.  Discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you.  Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse.  Who leave straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and who rejoice in the perverseness of evil.  Whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.Proverbs 2 -13-3-11

It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God.”

Thank you, God, for helping us memorize these verses!  Now we add another verse of warning this week:

“For her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead.”

Wise people will avoid getting close to ‘sin’, having conversations with ‘sin’, and they will avoid stepping onto the path to ‘sin’s’ house.  A sure way not to give into temptation is to not go near it.  It is not possible to step over the line unless we are close to it.

Dear Father, please help us step very far AWAY from the line.

Audio file of Proverbs 2:

False Words

Wrong interpretations.

Using scripture out of context.August 17 2015 false words

Changing one word in the verse which changes the whole meaning.

Using an interpretation of a Hebrew or ‘original word’ which is not accurate.

We’ve all heard or read these words that are false.  They are not true.

But do we know scripture well enough to know they are false when we hear them?

Or do we believe everything we hear from pastors, prophets and teachers?

Ezekiel had a hard time getting people to listen to him because there were so many false teachers at that time who were sharing messages they said came from God.

God told Ezekiel that these people were prophesying out of their own imaginations.

Their own imaginations.

Scary.

The reality is that people are still prophesying and teaching out of their own imaginations today.  If we don’t personally know God’s truth, we are open to believing these phonies.  We could believe their lies.  Their false words.

Please give us wisdom and discernment, Abba Father.

They Were Free…

Free from the protection God gives to those who are faithful to him.

Free from the shield God places over those who are walking closely with him.

Free from the hand of God which guards the path of those who listen to him and obey.August 15 2015 we are free

The Hebrews had made a promise to God to let go of their fellow Hebrews who had become slaves.

But then they changed their minds and took their slaves back.  They probably realized when they started to do all of the work themselves that this deal wasn’t going to be as easy as it sounded.  When it became inconvenient, they decided it was too much, too hard, not something they wanted to do.

So they ignored the promise they made to God.

Do we ever make a promise to God….and then change our minds?

When the going gets tough, we decide we really aren’t going to do what we told God we would do?

It’s too hard.

Now that the crisis is over, it just doesn’t seem important.

Or any number of other excuses we give ourselves for backing out of our committment to God.

We change our minds.

Break our promise.

And we step out from under the umbrella of God’s protection and blessings when we do this.

Then we experience the pain of the consequences of these decisions.

God has given us freedom of choice.  As a result, we are ‘free’ to make some very bad decisions.

Unless we’re reading God’s word,

and listening,

and obeying.

We know the way, we just have to use our freedom of choice to choose it.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Sword Fighting Class – Stay in the Light

We are memorizing Proverbs 2 together and we are watching in amazement as God blesses our faithfulness and write all of these words on our minds:

My child, if you accept my words and store up commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and you will find the knowledge of God.Proverbs 2 1st page - this one

For the Lord gives wisdom, from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.  He guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.  Then you will understand what is right and just and fair – every good path.  For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.  Discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you.  Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse.  Who leave straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil.  Whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.

Great job!  We are through the wicked men section and now we’re going to start memorizing about wayward women.  I put the next 2 verses together because it made more sense as I was memorizing it:Proverbs 2 -13-3-11

It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words who has left partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God.

As we read this, the obvious message is that wisdom will save us from partnering up with someone who is going to be unfaithful to us.

God is also talking with us about being wise in avoiding sexual sins and the things that will draw us away from his light.  Our world is full of sexual messages and its hard to avoid all of the invitations to go down this dark, slippery path.   As Christians, God’s Spirit lives in us – our bodies are his temple – and he wants us to take that responsibility seriously.

We will be memorizing a couple of more verses warning us to avoid the wayward woman who represents sin.

Please give us wisdom, Abba Father.

Audio file of Proverbs 2:

A Hope and a Future

We love this famous passage in Jeremiah 29 where God tells us he has a plan to prosper us – to give us a hope and a future.  We often stop quoting this section of scripture right there and we miss it!August 11 2015 a hope and a future

We miss the ‘how’ God is going to do this.

Because God goes on to say that, when we call on him and come to him and pray to him, he will listen.

When we seek him with all of our hearts, we will find him.

THIS is how he plans to give us a hope and a future.

Our part of this equation is to call on God, to pray to him and seek him with all of our hearts.

He asks us to do this because this will bring all of the success and joy and purpose we are looking for.

Today and on into eternity.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Maybe We Will Understand

Maybe we will turn away from our bad choices.

This is what God wants for us. August 7 2015 maybe we will get it.

He wants to forgive us.

He wants us to know him

– to feel his love.

– experience his peace.

– live in his joy.

– rely on his strength for each day.

– and anticipate all of the good things that are coming to us tomorrow because he is already there.

God wants all of this to happen in our lives.  That’s why he had his wisdom and guidance for us written down in the Bible.

As our Bibles lie open on our laps with our minds actively seeking God, his truth is soaking into our souls, changing us, renewing us.  Helping us make better choices.  Enabling us to build better lives.

This is what God wanted for the people of Judah in Jeremiah 36 when he had Baruch write down all of the words he had given to Jeremiah.  Maybe when the people heard all of these directions and predictions together, they would actually get it.

Maybe they would understand it.

Maybe this would help them decide to turn away from their sin and turn toward God.

God wanted this to happen for the people of Judah and he wants this same thing to happen today.

Right now.

For us.

As we read his word.

Please open our eyes, Abba Father, so we can turn away from our sins and turn to you.