A Friend Closer than a Brother

Proverbs 18:24, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

God made man to spend it with other people.  People tend to be happier when they are with other people.  One person that no one wants to hand around is someone who is grumpy all the time.  Someone who is always angry, upset, or sad.  This is not a fun person to be around.  Better than any man is the One who is a friend closer than a Brother.

A man who has friends.  Unless someone is totally closed off from the world, they have at least one friend.  Someone who can be counted on.  Someone to talk to.  To have more than one friend is so important and can be rare.  Friends are there to help through the bad times and rejoice when there are good times.  Friends, who are true friends, will pick up a phone call late at night.  Be there to listen, even when they have other things to do.  Drop everything to come over and help out.  That is a friend.  Devotion to helping out a fellow-man.  That is friendship.

Must himself be friendly.  In order to have a friend, you need to be a friend.  You need to be willing to do anything for someone as a sign of good faith.  This will encourage others to do this for you.  This ties into the “love your neighbor” frame of mind.  Love finds a way of coming back around.  When we love others, we show the love of God.  We should want the love of God to be seen at all times.  We need to be friendly, even when it is difficult to do.

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  We have a friend who is perfect.  He was all man and is all God.  His name is Jesus.  He came to Earth.  He lived.  He died.  He rose again.  He ascended to Heaven.  He is with God the Father again.  While on Earth, He befriended many people.  In the Holy Spirit (which is one part of God), we have a friend as well.  When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, we are said to have been purified by the blood of Jesus.  Jesus shed His blood for our sins and He never did sin.  He was the perfect sacrifice.  If we ever need someone to talk to and all our friends let us down, He is there for us.  He is always there.  He is closer than a brother.  He is right there with us at all times.  Never asleep.  Never distant.  Never unaware.  Turn to Jesus today.  He is waiting for you.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You that You sent Your Son to be our best friend.  You care about us more than we can ever know.  You love us more than we can ever measure.  Help us to love You even a small amount of how You love us.  You deserve al the praise and honor and glory for being the God that You are.  We need You.  We ask You to be with us in our times of need and our times of rejoicing.

In Your name we pray,

Amen

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Words like a Honeycomb

Proverbs 16:24, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

Our words have meaning.  What we say makes a difference.  It can build someone up or tear someone down.  They also last a lifetime, not being able to be taken back.  Let us have words like a honeycomb.

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb.  If you have ever had honey, you know that it is sweet.  It is that natural type of sweetness that goes good on toast or a sandwich or even biscuits.  Honey tastes delicious.  So, our words need to be delicious like the honeycomb.  Pleasant words are words that build up others.  God wants us to use these words.  God wants us to be sweet.  If we are sweet to others, they will more than likely be sweet to us.  More importantly, if we are sweet to others, we make God happy.  God loves when His creation acts in a loving manner.

Sweetness to the soul.  Words sink into the soul.  The soul is the spiritual part of the body that all humans possess.  Pleasant words are a sweetness that penetrates the soul and harsh words can destroy the soul.  Sweetness is desirable.  Sweetness is what we should crave.

Health to our bones.  Our bones, in the physical sense, need calcium.  That is why milk, cheese and other dairy products are important.  Pleasant words are like dairy products for our bodies.  They bring good health.  How many people do you know that have a bad attitude all the time and seem to always be sick?  Our words and attitudes make a difference.  If we want to be healthy, we need to have pleasant words and thoughts.

Pleasantness is sweetness and sweetness leads to health.  We need to be pleasant and we are promised good health.  Not always in this world, but perfect health in Heaven if we believe that Jesus is the Lord and Savior.  He died to save us from our sin that make us “sick.”  He heals us and makes us healthy.  He makes us sweet like a honeycomb.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your wise words that You give us.  You are pleasant with us so that we have an example to be pleasant with other.  Help us to treat others of your creation with love.  You love us and sent Your Son to die for us.  Help us to love with that kind of love.

In Your name we pray,

Amen

 

Avoid Drunkenness

Ephesians 5:18, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit”

Alcohol can cause many problems in life.  It can make the mind fuzzy.  It can make people act in ways that they would not normally act.  It can change people.  This is why we are instructed to avoid drunkenness.

Do not be drunk.  According to Merriam-Webster, one definition of drunk is “dominated by an intense feeling.”  Since we are children of God, the only thing that should dominate our life is God.  We are to be so overwhelmed by God that everything else fades away.  For example, when are singing praise and worship songs, we should shut out everything else going on around us.  The person next to you does not matter.  The person in the back row does not matter.  All that matters is the connection between you and God.  It is as if God is right next to you, talking to you and hearing you talk in song.  This is honoring and pleasing to God.  If we are drunk, our mind is altered and we are not able to give ourselves fully to God.

Wine.  The text says wine because it was popular in the time, but I now I feel that this can expand to beer, hard liquor or other beverages that provide a drunken effect.  Drinks that impair our judgment should be avoided.  Now am I saying that no one should drink?  No.  It is a judgment call for each individual.  Just be aware that what you put in your body can hinder your relationship with God.  If something cannot be done within reason, it should be avoided, despite how good it is.

Dissipation.  There are some similes for this word: debauchery, decadence, dissoluteness, dissolution, intemperance, excessoverconsumption, profligacy, self-indulgence, and wildness.  These are to say that this is bad.  We are not to have excess in anything.  If we drink too much of anything, we can begin to be sick.  If we eat too much, we can feel bloated.  If we are too wild, we can scare of people from being with us.  We need to stay level-headed and clear.

So if we should not overdo on things, what should we do?  We should be filled with the Spirit.  We should let the Holy Spirit flow into every part of our being.  It brings a tingling sensation over (at least for me).  I love the feeling that I get when I am fully connecting with God.  We need to find any way that we can to silence the noise of the world.  We need to shut out the world for a moment and simply “be.”  We can simply bask in the glory that is God.  We do not have to be in church to feel this.  We can feel this in our home, school, or vehicle.  We can feel this anywhere.  Let us avoid things that hinder our time with God.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You that You fill us with the Spirit.  Help us to never feel like we have to replace You.  Help us to never put anything in our body that will harm us.  We need You and need a relationship with You.  You are our God.  We are Yours.  Save us and keep us always,

In Your name we pray,

Amen

The Will of the Lord

Ephesians 5:17, “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Today, I had a sobering experience that I am ashamed to tell about but will tell about anyways.  I was hearing from God through my wife and instead of believing God, I chose to doubt.  I chose question my God and my wife.  I felt so horrible after it happened.  It felt like a huge weight fell upon me.  I asked God to forgive me and I asked my wife to forgive.  I have been forgiven but there is still that part of my that is thinking about why I did what I did.  I did not think about the will of the Lord.

Do not be unwise.  In that moment, I was unwise.  I was limiting what God could do.  As Christians, we need to stop telling God what He can or cannot do.  We need to stop thinking that we know better than God.  We need to trust God fully.  He reveals Himself to us through the Holy Spirit.  We need to be quiet and listen for those moments.  We need to be ready and prepared to do what God wants us to do.

Understand what the will of the Lord is.  Will we always understand the will of God?  No.  It will not always make sense.  It can be confusing.  It can be disorienting.  We cannot let that discourage us to follow Him.  In my case, I let my human knowledge trump God’s knowledge.  This led to a disastrous outcome.  This led to my faith and my wife’s faith shaken.  I created a problem that only God could solve.  He has a plan for us and we can’t always see it because God sees the big picture.

Suffering from shortsightedness is so dangerous.  When it comes to God, He has a plan that goes far beyond us.  We are simply to honor God with our words and actions.  We are not to doubt.  We are not to question.  We need to move.  This is a lesson that I have learned and I pray that You learn this lesson from me and from this verse in the Bible.

Heavenly Father,

We should never doubt You.  You alone know the future and what is in store for us.  Forgive us when we question You.  Forgive us when we think that we know more than You.  We need to trust You.  We ask that You remove all doubt that we have.  We invite You in and push those wrong thoughts out.  We may not always understand You, but You love us and care for us.  You have us in mind at all times.

In Your name we pray,

Amen

 

Do Not Lose Heart

Ephesians 3:13, “Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.”

When preparing for marathon, there are steps that need to take place.  It involves training by running greater and greater distances over time.  It requires eating a proper diet.  Drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration.  Most of all, it takes a heart check.  When all the training is done, food is eaten and water is drank, there still needs to be a heart check to push through the race.  In life, it is important that we do not lose heart.

Paul, when speaking to the Ephesian Christians, was trying to explain a mystery known as the grace of God.  It is hard to explain because God is complex.  What needs to be known is that grace is real and it is a gift.  It is given even though we do not deserve it.  We are loved even though we are sometimes unlovable.  The fact is, we need grace.

We are to not lose heart in tribulations.  Easier said than done, right?  When we get knocked down, the temptation is to stay down.  To stop fighting.  To give up.  We are not to give up.  Jesus did not give up when the Pharisees attacked Him.  Jesus did not give up when Satan tried to tempt Him.  Jesus did not give up even as He was heading to where He knew He would die.  Even in death, He kept fighting.  Why?  Because He knew that His purpose was to keep going.  God’s purpose is for us to keep going from this life into the next one.  This life is but a mere drop in the bucket compared to what is in store for us.  Those who fight for God here will be with Him there (in Heaven).

It is our glory.  Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we can partake in that glory.  Not because we had anything to do with saving ourselves.  In fact, we are the ones that put Him there in the first place.  Our sins are what made Jesus need to die for us.  Our sins are what Jesus came down to Earth to save us from.  We need Jesus.  We can glory because through Him, the power of sin is dead.  It is nothing.  This is not a free pass to sin as much as we want, but freedom from our sins and a command to sin no more.

We have a choice because of God.  To go through this life the easy way: no cares in the world, no responsibilities.  Or we can go through the hard way: following God, going to church, reading the Bible, praying, and witnessing to others.  One will reward you right away and the other will reward later.  The key is heart.  If you have heart, you will choose the hard way.  You will fight for the right thing.  You will fight for God.  You will fight for your life and the one to come.  This is our purpose.  Let us live our purpose given to us by God.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for the heart that You give us.  You give us all that we need.  We can live because You sent Your Son to die.  With this in mind, help us to fight for You.  Help us to fight for others.  We know that we cannot save others, just like we couldn’t save ourselves.  We need to bring them to You and You can do the saving.

In Your name we pray,

Amen

Boast Not in Yourself

Galatians 6:14, “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

When people compete in athletic events, they tend to celebrate a lot when they succeed.  They rave about how good they are.  They dance.  They talk.  A lot.  In business, when people are successful, they end up on lists for the world to see about how rich they are.  When it comes to the spiritual realm, however, you can boast not in yourself.

God forbid.  This is the equivalent of a “double no.”  It is an absolute no.  When this expression is used, it means that there is no way that this could possibly be true or is right.  For what God forbids, we should forbid because we are called to be like God.

I (we) should boast.  Tied into the previous two words, we should not boast because God forbids it.  Though we accomplish so much in our day-to-day lives, it is small compared to God.  All our efforts are minuscule compared to the Creator of the universe.  We have no reason to talk big about our accomplishments because in the scope of the universe, they are nothing.

Except in the cross of our Lord Jesus.  Our accomplishments, successes, and victories are nothing unless God is in them.  God can turn nothing into everything.  He did this when He created the universe.  He is the only on record to do this.  No one else can make something out of nothing.  Everything that is made is made from something else.  So when we take credit for what God does, we diminish God.  It is not that God gets smaller, but our view of Him does.  God deserves all the praise for what He does.  He sent His Son to the cross when He didn’t have to.  He had His Son die so that we can live.  All that we accomplish in this world is nothing without Jesus, who is the key to the next life.

The world has been crucified to me and I to the world.  The world and all in it is eternally dead.  Everything that lives, dies.  Once dead, that is all.  Except for those are grounded in Jesus.  Those in God will live on.  They will live on in Heaven.  When we accept Jesus, our old selves are already dead and removed and in its place is given a new self.  A spiritual self.  One that is God-centered and removed of sin’s power.  When we accept Jesus, we must crucify our old selves and embrace our new self.  Our new self cannot boast or be prideful; it is all about God.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You our new life in You.  We cast out our boasting and pride and give them to You.  We want to invite You in and fill that hole.  With You, we have everything.  With You, we are complete.  We should never try to do anything on our own.  Help us to squash that thought out of our mind.  Help us to rely solely on You.

In Your name we pray,

Amen

The Law in One Word

Galatians 5:14, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

There does not appear to be much power in one word.  After all, how much can really be said in one word?  This world seems to be about many words.  We have people who love to talk and talk and talk.  They love to hear their own voices.  They love to revel in much speaking.  Yet, only one word is the answer.  Love is the law in one word.

All of the law.  If we look in the Old Testament, there are 613 laws that were given to Moses.  That is a lot of rules to follow.  There are rules that govern how to act, what to wear, and how to honor God.  All of the laws that are laid out were to be followed by the Jewish people.  Obviously, no one can follow all 613 of these commandments that were given to Moses no matter how hard they try.  The Pharisees and Sadducees tried to follow each and every law and force others to do this as well.  This became a burden to many people, sometimes too much to bear.

Fulfillment in one word.  The law is able to be fulfilled in one word and by one person.  The word and name is Jesus.  Jesus, who came to Earth in the form of man, came so that we may live.  He also came to lighten our load.  You see, Jesus fulfilled the law and the law was then summed up in one word.  What is that word you say?  Love.

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  If you love yourself, you are capable of love.  If you love your neighbor, you are capable of loving God who has done more than anyone ever.  If you can love God, you are capable of all things through God.  All law has its roots in love.  Look at the 10 Commandments given to Moses:

#1: “You shall have no other gods before Me.

#2: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth”

#3: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

#4: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

#5: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

#6: “You shall not murder.

#7: “You shall not commit adultery.

#8: “You shall not steal.

#9: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

#10: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

See the pattern?  If you love God, there would be no need to have other gods, make another god, or take God’s name in vain.  You would also not violate the Sabbath that is set apart for God.  If you love your neighbor, you will honor your father and mother.  You would not murder anyone.  You would not get involved with another person when you are married.  You would not steal.  You would not lie or deceive. You would also not want anything that is your neighbor’s.  Love means that all of this would be honored and kept.  Love is the answer to it all.

The problem is the version of love that we have.  See, our love is not perfect.  It is sinful.  Only God possesses perfect love.  If we are to love as God loves, we need to invite in Jesus and let the Holy Spirit take over for us.  Jesus did not eliminate the law, but He is pure love.  If we follow Jesus, we follow the law as it was intended.  Jesus is perfect so all laws are followed by Him.  God gives us grace for our sinful states.  Through God, we are saved.  God is love and through this love, we may live forever with Him.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You that You are a God who loves.  You love us even though we are at times unlovable.  You give us grace even though we do not deserve it.  Thank You for sending Your Son to die for us and our sins.  Thank You that He is the perfect sacrifice and fulfiller of the law.  We ask that the Holy Spirit become central to our being.  We humbly lay down all of us and rise as a warrior of Yours.  You are our God and we will serve You.

In Your name we pray,

Amen

Stop Building What Should Be Destroyed

Galatians 2:18, “For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.”

When someone builds a house, there is a right way to do it and a wrong way.  There is the cheap way to do it and then there is a more expensive.  More quality or less quality.  If someone decides to go cheap, less expensive, or just a wrong way, the house will likely fall apart.  It will not be able to weather a storm.  It will not hold up.  However, if higher quality products are used, the house will last longer.  If you plan on building with weaker materials, you need to stop building what should be destroyed.

Every person’s life is like the building of a house.  There is a foundation, rooms, and a roof.  We need to take the correct steps to make the house properly or it will fall down.  We need to use the right stuff or it will not last.  That means eating properly, exercising properly, and living properly.  Because of our sinful nature, we do not always live properly.  We need Jesus to remove the sin in our lives so that we are cleaned up.  After this clean up, we need to avoid sinning again.  Easier said than done, right?

If we sin (or more like when we sin) after Jesus comes into our life, we are building with inferior materials again.  Jesus died to destroy sin so why would we want to let it enter again?  We don’t.  This is why we need to constantly do some house cleaning and making sure that we use the proper materials.  We need to have the Holy Spirit convict us of the bad and we need to invite in the good.  It is a constant struggle to push out the bad and bring in the good.  We need to keep working all the time.

We are the transgressors.  We cannot blame anyone else.  Jesus did not make us sin because He cannot sin or make anyone else sin.  Satan does not make us sin, though he tries to push us in that direction.  We are the ones that must be accountable to our own life.  We choose right or wrong or vice versa.  Stop the blame game.  We need to own the wrong.  Stop lying to yourself and then building on that lie over and over.  We try to fool ourselves but we cannot fool God.  God knows us.  He knows our ways.  We need to come clean so we can be clean.  We sin and need a Savior.  Jesus is that Savior.  We need to let Him destroy what is bad, push in what is good, and shut the door on all that is inferior.  We need to start living like Jesus today.

Heavenly Father,

We are sinners.  We openly admit this, even though You already know this.  We ask for a renewal of the Holy Spirit in us to help us determine good from bad.  Take away the bad and give us the good.  We know that You want to bless us.  Let us trust You more and have faith in You more.  We love You and know that You love us, too.

In Your name we pray,

Amen

Steal, Kill, and Destroy

John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

When someone gets it in their head to take something, they will more than likely do it.  They will plan it.  They will fantasize about it.  They will look for ways that it will go wrong.  They will spend a lot of time doing something that they should not be doing.  This is our enemy.  He truly plans and he comes to steal, kill and destroy.

The thief comes only to steal.  As real as God is, Satan is real too.  Just as God has angels, Satan has his demons.  For all that is good, there is evil.  Satan is a thief.  He is always looking to steal our happiness.  He is looking to steal our relationship with God.  He is looking to steal our chance to have eternal life.  He wants nothing more than to take our soul.  Make us renounce God.  Make us turn away from our Creator.  We cannot give Him that foothold.  If we have Jesus, we are possessed by God.  We need to make sure that we are not dividing our possession, though, by giving Satan part of you.

Satan will attempt to kill.  Satan would like nothing more than to have us die apart from God.  He has to live in Hell so he wants many other people to suffer with him.  He is also a killer of dreams, stopping people with fear and worry.  He is a killer of friendships, making us question other people.  He is a killer of trust, making us think about who we interact with.

Satan will try to destroy.  He will try to destroy marriages by putting people in between joined together souls.  He tries to destroy God’s plan, getting us off-track from what God wants us to do.  He tries to destroy everything in his path. leaving a wake from where he was.  He is a destroyer to those that allow he to be.  He can be largely successful, depending on the person.

Jesus came to give life abundantly.  The opposite of the destroyer is Jesus, who came to give life.  Eternal life.  Jesus only want to steal our soul for Himself so that we may have eternal life.  Jesus only wants to kill any notion that we cannot have grace from the Father.  He only wants to destroy our enemy, which He did on the cross.  Jesus is our best friend, stronger than Satan and His army.  There will come a time when Satan will be cast into Hell forever and will not be able to bother us anymore.  Until that time, we need to trust in Jesus more.  We are not to give in to the devil an his ways.  God is victorious.  We need to pick a side.  Let’s pick the winning side, shall we?

Heavenly Father,

Thank You that You have already defeated our enemy.  You have conquered him so we don’t have to.  You alone are gracious and loving.  You mean us no harm.  We are safe in Your arms if we only declare that Your Son is our Lord and Savior.  Please forgive us of our sins that we commit against You.  Help us to fend off the attacks of the devil.  We declare Your name so that He has to run and hide.  You are the keeper of our souls today.

In Your name we pray,

Amen