Monthly Archives: November 2015

It is harder than we think!

Meditation Journey Day 14

Hi Friend,

I trust you have noticed each of the verbs of Proverbs 2:1-5 intensify as we move through the passage. “Receive store/hide incline/turn… apply … call out cry aloud seek/look for search” are all verbs that build a tribute to wisdom and understanding’s importance. Remember “Wisdom is the insight and knowledge of the true nature of life and things. It is the theory and ability to view life from God’s perspective. Understanding is the doing of that wisdom.”

Do you wonder why God instructs us so intensely to seek Wisdom and Understanding? The answer is important for us to press on, but first please read the passage.

My son, if you receive my words and store up my commands within you, inclining your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for wisdom (insight) and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then (and only then) you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

My Child, if you will receive store/hide incline/turn… apply … call out cry aloud seek/look for search for wisdom and understanding,

The short answer for the intense verbs is: It is harder than we think to gain wisdom and understanding.

In Isaiah 55 God tells us something about ourselves that we must daily embrace to walk in continual humility, “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” This is important information because it reminds us we cannot live the Christian life without Him. (John 15:5) We cannot not be fruitful and glorify our Father without His Spirit freely flowing through us. Our hearts are naturally hard toward God and more obtuse to Him than we canBreaking up soil imagine. The Holy Spirit uses these verb “tools” to soften our hearts and break up the hard soil so His Word can grow fruit in us. This empowers us to walk in the Spirit and follow Jesus.

Many Christians begin following Christ by the Holy Spirit’s power, but they stop focusing on Jesus through His word. (Galatians 3:3) They stop gaining wisdom and understanding from the Spirit and the Word and begin to follow the religious rules of the people or organization around them.

These verbs: receive store/hide incline/turn… apply … call out cry aloud seek/look for search for are tools that the Spirit with the Word uses to open our hearts to fellowship in the Presence of God. Remember the goal and purpose of our journey is not just to gain spiritual knowledge or principles or even have an experience with God. The goal of following Jesus is to be with Him, to know Him, to become like Him and share the communion of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Apostle John captures this sweetly in the opening to his first letter: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life– the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us– that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.  And we are writing these things so that your joy may be complete.”

Friend, I am writing this to you because I so desire you to share the joy of The Lord. My joy in Jesus grows daily as I walk His ways and think His thoughts meditating on the beauty of the Lord. His Presence is too sweet to hoard!

Observation: We will gain Wisdom and Understanding by using the verbs tools: receive store/hide incline/turn… apply … call out cry aloud seek/look for search to open our earthly hearts to His Spirit and Word. (Please note there are many other verb “tools” that the Spirit will also use! These are just the ones in Proverbs 2:1-5)

Interpretation: The goal of this process and using these tools is to share the Eternal Life of God; to grow in our likeness to The Son and to glorify the Father. The joy that results from this fellowship with God will empower us to impact others with the love of Jesus too!

Application Prayer: Father, thank you for Your Word and the verb “tools” the Holy Spirit uses in our hearts to open the Word to us. Help us, Lord God, to diligently walk in Your ways, to receive Your thoughts and enter more fully into Your fellowship. In Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

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Thanks for listening. I trust you remember that our daily meditative journey is a process of how to grow deeper in Christ. Later on you will be meditating on passages chosen by God and using these principles to allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart.

I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.

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Seeds of Wisdom

Meditation Journey Day 11

Hi Friend,

SeedlingToday’s meditation has been challenging to communicate. I pray that we all have ears to hear what God is asking of us. If we are to incline our ears (minds, hearts and souls) to wisdom and apply our hearts to understanding, then we need to know what wisdom and understanding is from God’s perspective. Here is my conclusion:

Wisdom is the insight and knowledge of the true nature of life and things. It is the theory and ability to view life from God’s perspective. Understanding is the doing of that wisdom. Living out wisdom reveals true understanding or the skill of godly living. Understanding is the practical application of the wisdom or insight of God. Wisdom and understanding are organically connected. Wisdom grows into understanding, and the fruit of understanding gains us wisdom.  We can believe or think we have godly wisdom, but if we do not live godly lives, we are deceived.

Now the question is to gain more wisdom?

First the passage…

My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words and store up (hide) my commands within you, turning (inclining) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for wisdom (insight) and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then (and only then) you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

My Child, if you …turn (incline) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,

Yesterday we pondered the call to turn or incline the inner ears of our hearts to God by drawing close to Him. He wants us so close that we can feel His breath on our cheeks. Foundational to this metaphor is the humble little word of “humility”. God looks for that sweet attitude in our hearts so that He can give us wisdom and understanding. Verse six of Proverbs 2 reminds us “the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;” James writes in his letter, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.When we ask in humility for wisdom, God’s attitude toward us is always without criticism or blaming. He is never angry with us for having acted stupid or sinful. He will always give wisdom to us if we ask in faith by receiving His Word.

Now while the receiving of wisdom may be a word or message of pure truth which simply comes by God speaking to us; walking in understanding is intentional and much more difficult. His purpose in giving us wisdom, insight and knowledge of true reality is so that we will apply our hearts to understanding. Meaning we will do it. We will live out the truth so that we will know the truth. We will live out the word of wisdom so we can understand it, and we reveal our understanding by living it. Jesus appealed to this process when He instructed them, “If you continue to obey my teaching, you are truly my followers. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8

The seeds of Wisdom are carried to us by His word, which is why receiving His Word well is critical. Living WordThe memorizing or hiding it in our hearts allows the wisdom to grow to the point of action that bears the fruit of transformation. It is through our transformed behavior that others will see the reality of The Living God in us.

The Holy Spirit is calling us to lean into Jesus Christ through His Word so we can become like Him and reveal the beauty of God. I pray that you will continue walking with me on this journey as the elevation gets higher and the terrain becomes more difficult.

Observation: In each verse of this passage God is asking more of us. Action is required for us to move closer to God by inclining our hearts to wisdom and applying them to understanding.

Interpretation: This passage calls us to a deeper connection with God and His Word. Wisdom and understanding are two sides of the same coin. One impacts the other and both increase as we humble ourselves to God to do His will.

Application Prayer: Lord, help us to allow the Word to work in us so we move closer to You in obedience to Your word. May our hearts joyfully sense Your Presence as we journey closer, higher, and deeper into Your love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

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Thanks for listening. I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.

Applying the Heart

Hi Friend,

How do we apply our heart to understanding? Remember we are call to “…apply your heart to understanding.” Knowing what “understanding” means helps us gain a handle on this process. In yesterday’s devotion we learned that “Understanding is the practical application of the wisdom or insight of God.” Now we need to define “heart”. In the Bible the word “heart” is the core of our being. It includes our mind, emotions, feelings, and will. It envelops our soul and spirit. It is the central command center through which the issues of life flow. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23

Heart 1What our heart focuses on determines our direction and destiny! The passage tells us we need to take that focus/core of our lives and apply it to understanding. Ok, so how do we do that?

First the passage…

My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words and store up (hide) my commands within you, turning (inclining) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for wisdom (insight) and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then (and only then) you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

My Child, if you …turn (incline) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,

The key to applying our hearts to understanding is the word “applying”. spreadThe word “applying” means to spread or stretch out something over a surface. Now reflect on the word order of the verse: “applying your heart to understanding” not applying understanding to your heart!

That means we are called to stretch out our hearts (our thinking, feelings, and choices) to embrace and live out God’s wisdom.  We are the one to be changed, not God’s word or wisdom. As we walk in God’s word and wisdom we begin to gain understanding. To live and do God’s word will stretch us. Stretching or being spread out can be painful. Following Christ is often resisted because it requires us to alter our thinking. Repentance (the changing of our minds to God’s direction) is a common experience for someone who is applying their heart to understanding.

So how is your direction today? Are stretching out your heart to embrace and live out God’s wisdom.  Are you applying your heart to understanding?

Observation: Key words: “Understanding is the practical application of the wisdom or insight of God.” “Heart” is the core of our being. “Applying” means to spread or stretch out something over a surface. “Repentance” is the changing of our minds to follow God’s direction.

Interpretation: Repentance will be a continual component of following on this Journey into the Word. Our ways are not His ways. Remember we are being made into the Image of His Dear Son (Romans 8:29). That will require the enlarging and stretching of our hearts to become more like Jesus.

Application Prayer: Lord, help us to allow the Spirit and Word to work in us so we will have grace to be stretched and molded to become more Christ-like. Thank you for choosing us and taking time with us to be fit for heaven.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thanks for listening. I trust you remember that our daily meditative journey is a process of how to grow deeper in Christ. Later on you will be meditating on passages chosen by God and using these principles to allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart.

I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.

Got Faith?

Got Faith?

FaithFaith is an elusive attribute in our lives. We wish we had more faith, yet it seems obscure as to how we receive and increase our faith. Jesus said if you have faith the size of a small seed you can move mountains!  Therefore, understanding how to grow our faith becomes a very worthy task.

First, we must distinguish between natural faith and spiritual faith. Natural faith is the confidence we have when we sit down in a chair. We expect and know the chair will hold us because we have sat down many times before or watched others sit and believe that a chair will hold our weight. Natural faith is a learned trust that comes from believing others or experiencing a consistent behavior of a circumstance (like the sun rising each day). I trust all of us have “faith” to believe the sun will rise in the eastern sky every morning!

Spiritual faith is different. It is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes this very clear.  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

As opposed to natural faith, spiritual faith is a gift from God. You cannot give it to someone, nor can you muster it up in your own heart. You can, like the father whose son was dying, look into the face of Jesus and cry “Lord, please help my unbelief!”Sun rise

If we have unbelief towards God and His promises, then we need to appeal to Him for direct spiritual intervention. We need to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

After we appeal to God, then we must trust His promises. The Bible says that “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) Faith comes as we receive, accept and apply the word or message of Christ. It also says in 2 Corinthians 2 that, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”  “Amen,” or agreeing it is true, is the first step in receiving, accepting and applying God’s word to our lives.

Spiritual faith is a force of good in our lives. It is the bridge through which God’s Spirit is released into and through our lives. Therefore it always produces something! First it releases grace for us to believe the Gospel and to enter into eternal life, but it also stimulates us to do good works. James says, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” This means, if we are not producing acts of grace toward others, then our faith is without the life giving power of God.

So here is the bottom-line on our faith issues. If we want supernatural faith to believe the unseen, then we go directly to God in humble trust and ask for help. After asking, with indifference to your feelings, act on your faith by reading God’s word, and seek His face to allow the Holy Spirit to grow faith in your heart toward His promises. Then as we obey the truth revealed to us, faith will increase. As you continue to say “Amen” to God and His word, you will be amazed by God’s wondrous grace given to you through Jesus Christ!

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Meditation Journey Day 10

Ears to hear 1As I promised, today we will begin to unpack verse 2 ‘… turning (inclining) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,…” Our focus will be on our ears. The ear as referred to in this verse is not just the outer extension of flesh that sits on both sides of our heads. Our ears, designed and created by God, have the physical and mental capacity to received sounds and process information carried by the words we receive. Jesus often told His listeners, In Proverbs 2 God is telling us we need hearing ears to get the message from Him. His word is transforming but only as we receive it, store it and do it.

I love what Gods says about His word. It is God’s word from His mouth that makes the difference in our lives.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11”

To hear His word, we have to be intentional listeners that want to be close to Him. Are you ready to reflect on turning/inclining your ears to Him?

First the passage… (I hope you read this!)

My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words and store up (hide) my commands within you, turning (inclining) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for wisdom (insight) and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then (and only then) you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

My Child, if you …turn (incline) your ear to wisdom…

On first look this appears to be just an exercise of tilting the head towards the scripture. But God wants way more than a head nod from us. A deeper observation tells us there is much more being said. God is asking us to lean into Him and listen with our minds and hearts in order to hear His words, His tone and Wisdom. He is calling us closer to Him. Remember all scripture is God-breathe. God breathing into Adam the breath of lifeTo receive what He wants to give us requires us to be so close we can feel His breath. A beautiful picture is the image of God breathing into Adam the breath of life. (Genesis 2)  Another is the image of a Mother so close to her baby that the child’s cheek is warmed by her breath. When God says incline your ear unto My Wisdom He is calling you close to Him. Give me all your attention. Love me with all your heart, mind, soul and body.

Obviously the command to turn/incline our ear to wisdom means that our hearts are not fully bowed to Him. It reveals our need to continually recognize His absolute complete sovereignty and wisdom. We always have a choice to follow Jesus or not, but do not think following is a casual activity. It is an intentional hearing, listening and doing of God’s will.

Observation: Inclining our ears to wisdom and apply our hearts to understanding is a continuation of receiving and storing His Word within us.

Interpretation: The Father is now expanding on what receiving and hiding His word will look like in our lives. If we want the fullness of His Spirit and the grace for transformation we will turn our full attention to His Voice and His Word.

Application Prayer: Father God, give us ears to hear. Forgive us for our lack of attentiveness to your Word and Spirit. Help us to enter the Joy of Your Presence as we yield to your Sovereign Wisdom. Thank you for calling us closer to You through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Teach us what it means to listen to Your Word and to hear Your Voice.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

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Thanks for listening. I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.

The Engrafted Word

Meditation Journey Day 9

Hi Friend,

Tree Grafting 3Today we will begin to unpack verse two of Proverbs 2:1-5, but before we do I want to share with you some things I do to “hide” the Word in my heart.

My perspective towards the process is this: I know that it is the seed of God, and it has a life of its own. I trust the seed to do what God sent it to do (Isaiah 55:11), which is create in me the character of Christ (Romans 8:29). This is no small thought. One of the major changes in my life came as I realized I cannot do anything without Him unless I abide in the vine (John 15:5). It is His life; His power and His Spirit that I want to have its way in my life. I sincerely trust Him to grow His life in me just as I trust the seed I plant to grow and produce fruit in my garden. My focus is on Him (Hebrews 12:1-2) and His word not my mistakes, failings and sinfulness. I am not giving you religious speak or clichés. My life has changed and is changing as I abide in Him and His Word. That is why I am so convinced this process is the critical focus every disciple must embrace to be led daily by the Spirit and follow Christ.

First let’s read again the passage…………..

My son, if you receive (accept/take) my words and store up (hide) my commands within you, turning (inclining) your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for wisdom (insight) and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then (and only then) you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

“My son, if you receive my words and store up (hide – memorize) my commands within you…”

When I choose to meditate on any passage, not just read or study it, I first need to store it in my mind. As I have learned, this is the first step to engraft/implant it into my soul (James 1:19-27). I Tree Grafting 1consider it “medicine” for my soul; therefore I take it regularly through the day just like I would a pill that a doctor prescribed. After all it is the GosPILL! (OK bad joke).

Here’s what I do: I type it out, I write it out, and I say it at least five times a day. I place it on
my mirror or refrigerator, and I listen to it on CD or iPod when I drive. I try to sing it, because every verse has a tone and rhythm. I copy the passage on half a page of paper, and on the other half of the paper, I make blank lines where I try to write it word for word or write a paraphrase of each verse. I read about the passage in commentaries or other online resources. My goal is to learn it and understand what it says. In the process I begin to memorize the passage.

Observation: Since God commands us to store/hide the Word in our hearts we need to ask Him to show us how to do it!

Interpretation: How we look at the Word will determine how earnest we will be at getting it into our minds and hearts. I know it is the way I get God’s life in me to release the Holy Spirit to transform my mind (Romans 12:1-2)

Application Prayer: Father God, give us insight into how we can store Your word in our minds/hearts. Give us grace to do it so that we can bear much fruit and glorify You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thanks for listening. I hope you will pray for me and all the others that are on this journey. You may also want to send me comments, suggestions or questions. I promise I will respond to each inquiry.