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A Place For You.

Every one of us find ourselves going through times when it all comes down, when the roof caves in, when things fall apart.

The disciples were no exception.

In John 13, Jesus told them that one of them would betray Him (13:21), that Peter would deny Him (13:38), and that He would leave them (13:33).

Betrayal, Denial, and the Master leaving all in the same chapter.

We find ourselves in the midst of wars, rumors of wars, fires, nuclear threats, and hurricanes. We are having a little bit of John 13 just in a different way.

Many are asking the question of how can these things be going on.

I believe that is exactly what the disciples were asking after John 13.

“How can this be?”

They had left all to follow Jesus. Now it seemed as though it was all for nothing. We know the story. We know it has a glorious, happy ending. Put yourself in their sandals, you can see it must have been a moment of real intensity, their hearts were overwhelmed.

I love how Jesus ministers to His disciples. They are troubled and He gives them the answer to keeping your heart from being overwhelmed. The key to keeping your heart from being overwhelmed in sadness and depression is to remember that you have a home in heaven. Don’t get distracted by the trouble. The trouble won’t last always, but Heaven is the place where your Father dwells. So keep your heart stayed and your eyes lifted, there is a place for you. That is what Jesus tells them in John 14.

Don’t let your heart be troubled. I have prepared a place for you. It’s a personal statement to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, there is a place for you.

The place that He has prepared, isn’t in the middle of your trouble. It’s far above your trouble. Its quite the place. Just look around and see the creative genius of God. Everything that you can see here and now that is beautiful and majestic, He created all of that in six days. Can you imagine what He has created in the 2000 plus years He’s been working on the place for you.

If your heart is overwhelmed, start thinking about the one you have believed in and what He has prepared for you.

The Verbs #28 (Lend)

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“Be generous to the poor—you’ll never go hungry; shut your eyes to their needs, and run a gauntlet of curses.”
Proverbs 28:27 MSG

In June of 2010, this scripture became imprinted in my mind. The night it happened literally changed the entire trajectory of the Worship Center. Melissa and I were chaperoning the youth department to a conference. At one of the night services, a ministry was promoting their cause. I listened, even gave in the offering that was designated to support their cause. However, God had a much bigger idea in mind. I stepped out of my seat and headed to the main corridor of the building that we were in, and ran smack dab into one of the young ladies from that ministry who had just finished speaking. It was a surreal moment and to this day, is difficult to put into words. The ministry that night was shining a light on sex trafficking. I had not had much exposure to this horrifying issue until that night, and I certainly didn’t think that it was so close to home. I had a brief but enlightening conversation, and I headed back into the arena for the remainder of the service. God was working in me; I just didn’t know the extent.

We traveled back to the hotel that night, and I knelt to pray in our room. As I began to pray about the feelings I had, I felt the Lord ask me about this scripture. He asked me to quote it, so I stated the King James Version of it, “He that giveth to the poor shall not lack”. God said that’s not all, but that was all I knew from memory. So, I went to read this text, and as I read it, there was a simple, but profound explanation from God about how this applied to all that I had witnessed. The King James Version again stated that he that hides his eyes shall have many a curse.
“He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.”
Proverbs 28:27 KJV

That’s when God said to me, “I have showed you what is going on in this nation and around the world, now what will you do about it.”

Up until this point, I believed as a Christian, I was fulfilling my duty by simply just praying about the crises that are in this world. In June of 2010, I was made well aware that I am not only to pray but I am also to be involved. On our drive home from Atlanta, I wrote and then launched a ministry called Freedom Fighters. From that day until now, every Wednesday night offering at the Worship Center has been donated to various ministries that fight for those that are less fortunate. We began launching mission trips, building daycares, working under bridges and most recently we launched our Loves Goes campaign to the city of Cairo.
Freedom Fighters began because once you have seen the issues, you cannot hide your eyes. We cannot simply just ignore the issues of our day. We must lead the charge to make a change. We are not to be conformed to this world but transform it. There is so much that is wrong that we, the church, cannot sit idle! We must be on the move! Since time is short, we must move quickly, and as Ephesians states, redeem the time because the days are evil.

You can look at the progress, growth and all that pertains to the blessings of the Lord upon the Worship Center, and it began when we no longer hid our eyes, and we began to lend to the poor.

 

The Verbs #29 (undeserved)

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A few years ago, I was having the physical battle of my life! I had never dealt with physical ailments to this degree before, and I was so confused about what was going on in my body. I was scared, afraid and more worried than I ever let on. It came almost without warning. I was beginning to feel the tentacles of depression trying to take hold of me, so I immediately began praying for my mind. I also sought medical help because I had dealt with depression before. My doctor prescribed some medication and after assuring me I wouldn’t need this drug forever, I decided it was the best move for me.

Shortly after that, we went on our annual spring break trip, and the very next week, we headed out for our other annual trip, our honeymoon. We were going on a cruise for the first time in our lives, and we were so excited! It was an awesome time! No phones, no internet and really no issues.

Well, except save for one.

My lymph nodes began swelling all over my body while we were on the ship. I was starting to feel dizzy, fatigued and the sharp pains on the left side of my head would not let up! I disembarked from the ship, went straight to the airport and boarded the plane for home. I thought I was experiencing “sea legs” and motion sickness. The emergency doctor who sat beside me on the plane ride home (we flew Southwest so this was unplanned ~ I am positive he couldn’t wait for the flight to end because I was asking a hundred questions for real) reassured me that the cotton mouth, the dizziness, the fatigue and the swelling of my lymph nodes would disappear quickly now that I was back on land.

They didn’t.

I became extremely worried and five days after arriving home, I found myself at the doctor. So many questions, blood draws, tests and more questions. More doctor’s appointments, more meds and more tests awaited me after this initial appointment. I learned so much during this time and yet nothing they were prescribing or telling me to try, was touching my symptoms. This went on for about three months and finally I decided to seek another opinion. I liked him a lot. He was a Christian and he promised me that with God’s help, we would have a resolution to this soon! It seemed like I had new symptoms popping up each week including headaches, severe shooting pain in my head, hands cramping up and eye twitches to name a few. So many of my symptoms pointed to three major diagnosis’s. I refused to accept any of them, but I was so desperate for answers. I finally had an MRI and I am pretty sure I left every bit of blood I had in my right arm in those vials that day. The call came on Saturday morning from the doctor. My MRI was completely clear! No tumors, or any other signs of any major diagnosis’s! My blood work was “A+” per my doctor. Thankful does not even begin to describe it. But I still had no answers!

Fast forward six months, and I was sitting across from a Neurologist at Washington University in St. Louis, going through more testing, answering more questions, etc. After a few minutes passed, with confidence the doctor declared she had the answer; migraines. Mine had lasted about six months. To my surprise, she prescribed no medication and gave me some vitamin and herb remedies and told me what to avoid when it came to foods and drink. I went straight to Whole Foods, picked up everything she told me about and praised God all the way home that we now had answers!

Move ahead another four months and this is when this scripture came into play. My symptoms were not going away. I prayed, I fasted and I trusted God! I was having a morning where my head was full of pain, my hands were cramping so bad that my fingers were curling inward on their own and my lymph nodes were swelling again. I was scheduled to sing that day and I found myself in my husband’s office, on the floor, in complete agony. I was surrounded by praying people and one gentleman began to quote this scripture:

“Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
an undeserved curse will not land on its intended victim.

Proverbs 26:2

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

The devil does not want anyone walking around healed, healthy and whole! He will do whatever he wants to, to see that you are never walking around victorious! The last part of this verse really stuck out to me because I felt like I had this really big target on my back, and the enemy was doing everything he could to make sure something “landed” on me! My husband had had a dream about me about one week earlier. In this dream, there were people praying against me, not for me! He wasn’t sure what they were praying exactly, but he knew it wasn’t for my good! So, we began to declare this scripture over our lives, and especially over my health!

 

A year later I was symptom free and going along on my merry way, when bam, out of nowhere, a strong migraine knocked me flat on my back! I was devastated! We started praying this scripture with earnest and God revealed a lot to us both during this time! We trusted Him and He came through! We began to earnestly pray circles over my health, our marriage, our church, our children and our finances! If you haven’t read Mark Batterson’s book on praying circles around your life, you should go get it right now. Well, not right now, because I need to finish this story, but right after I’m done! Go get it! It will change your life! I digress. After we began praying these circles over us, things began to change. God began speaking to us about so many things and one day when I woke up, I realized I hadn’t had a migraine in almost a year! I was thrilled!

 

You see, when you decide that an undeserved curse dispatched by the enemy will not land on you, the atmosphere changes in your life! When you tell the devil, “no way, it ain’t happening”, it’s amazing what happens! Sometimes these curses are generational and sometimes these curses are put on us by those who wish us harm! Generational curses have no place in the life of the believer! Christ came to break every chain on our life and that is a chain that CAN be broken in your life! It doesn’t have to happen to you!  That is an undeserved curse! It doesn’t have to be that way for you!

 

Sometimes people wish us harm. I don’t like it and I don’t understand it and yet, I can’t say there haven’t been times I’ve silently wished this on others. It’s wrong. We are to forgive and move on, even if they’re in the wrong and you are in the right! That is another undeserved curse. Even if we do “deserve” a curse, Jesus came to bring us life and life more abundantly and to break every chain in our life! That is the power of the blood of Jesus!

 

If you are facing something in your life, trust that God is with you, He is for you and an undeserved curse cannot land on you! You are protected by the blood of Jesus! He has you covered! The devil won’t be able to see the landing pad! Rejoice in that today!

Written By: Melissa McKinnies

http://melissamckinnies.com/blog/

 

The Verbs #12 (Don’t Be an Eddie)

“Don’t Be an Eddie”            

One of my favorite movies, especially at Christmas time, is “Christmas Vacation”. We laugh about that movie, but there are some really serious points in the movie. Maybe you remember this scene, and even if you don’t, I think you’ll identify with it. It goes like this:

Clark: “How can they have nothing for their children?” 

Ellen: “Well, he’s been out of work for close to seven years.” 

Clark: “In seven years, he couldn’t find a job?” 

Ellen: “Catherine says he’s been holding out for a management position.”

You probably know someone that you can insert into that story line. The idea of trying to get ahead without ever starting, isn’t a new one. Proverbs 12:9 is pretty clear this isn’t a new concept.

Ann Landers stated that, “Opportunities are often disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.”

Solomon wrote, “it is better to be ordinary and work for a living than to act important and starve in the process.” Another translation of that verse reads, “He that is despised and is a servant.” There is nothing wrong with giving an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. No matter where you find yourself in this life, if you are working, laboring and carving out a living, then you are truly following the word of God. Wherever you find yourself working, give it your best. Look at what Colossians 3:22-25 states.

“Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.”

Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Col 3:22–25). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

I can tell you that God uses the person that knows how to work. So often, I hear “I want to work in full-time ministry or I want to get into ministry”. I am quick to say “ministry is hard work, look at the Cross.” The calling of a pastor is to equip the people for the WORK of the ministry. God uses people that know how to work.

It was when Moses was tending his father-in-law’s sheep that God appeared to Him in the burning bush (Exodus 3).

It was when Elisha was plowing that Elijah cast the mantle of ministry upon him (1 Kings 19:19).

It was when Peter and Andrew were casting their nets that Jesus called them to be fishers of men (Matthew 4:19).

It was when Saul was working for the high priest on his way to Damascus that Jesus appeared to him and turned his life around (Acts 9).

If you want to be used by God, or if you desire to move up in this life, it will happen while you are working. You have to work at everything. Someone once told me that Jesus delivered them from all that works stuff. They took it both spiritually and literally, meaning they didn’t have to work for anything. However, on that day, the purpose of the conversation was because they needed assistance and they were asking for my help. They were willing to live off everyone else’s hard work. That is the epitome of this verse in Proverbs 12:9. They believed that God’s grace exempted them from ever having to put forth any effort in this life. They didn’t realize it, but their belief of “grace delivering them from working”, placed them in the role of a beggar. The Bible reminds us that “I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor His seed begging for bread”.I do not work for righteousness, nor do I work for grace. I work because of love!

So, don’t be an Eddie! Walk through the doors that are open to you, and then God can open more doors for you. Once you start, remind yourself of these words in Ecclesiastes…

Endings are better than beginnings.

Sticking to it is better than standing out.

Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Ec 7:7–8). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

The Verbs #11 (Build Up Your City)

10 When it goes well for good people, the whole town cheers;

when it goes badly for bad people, the town celebrates.

11 When right-living people bless the city, it flourishes;

evil talk turns it into a ghost town in no time.

Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Pr 11:10–11). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

Years ago, a man told me, “as the church goes, so goes the city”.  I have taken that to heart in my life and more importantly, in my pastor ship. I want to be a church that is impacting the city. My dream is to be a church that is so impactful, that we cannot be ignored by the city. The Worship Center is made up of people that come from many cities. I have determined that I may not be able to reach every city in the same way, but I would make it an important part of my life and our church’s life to lift up our cities.

Upon arriving in Southern Illinois as Pastor of the Worship Center, I began a series of sermons. I called them “A Church on Purpose.” It has become a mantra of our church.  There were three sermons specifically in that series that have stuck with us. Today, you see them on sweatshirts, t-shirts and across our social media platforms. We are a Church on Purpose; across the aisle, across the street and around the world. It has become so engrained into our fiber as a church, that there have been campaigns to change the church’s name to Purpose Church, Church on Purpose, along with some other not so catchy names. I have stepped back in awe as I watch people live out that sermon, vision and purpose, and yet close to ninety-five percent of our church has never heard that sermon. The people who did hear it, practiced it, and preached it through their daily lives. It has become a sermon, a vision that isn’t taught; it’s caught.

Starting out, we didn’t have the resources to impact the cities like we do now. We began by doing small things. One of the most powerful things we did, was to pray for our cities. We took that responsibility seriously. I chose to build up, talk up, and pray up my city. I chose to lift my city up versus tearing it down. Words are so powerful that if you keep saying something often enough, people will begin to believe you, good or bad. For example, if you continue to talk down about where you live or talk down about the people that live around you, people will start to believe you. However, if you start talking up, lifting up and building up your city and the people around you, they’ll start believing you as well. I want to make my city the best that it can be. Remember these words, “speak to those things that are not, as though they already are”. It doesn’t do a whole lot of good to sit around and criticize and point out the negatives. The person at the table who can point out all the problems and issues, isn’t the person who holds the power. The person who holds the power is the one who can come to the table with a solution to the problem. Our cities know they have issues, and they have enough people telling them about them. What our cities need is people to become a part of the solution.

Southern Illinois is a great place to live. I have come from the outside, and I was told you’ll never fit in. You’re right, I haven’t, but the people have accepted me anyway. My children moved in from a different school district, we haven’t had any issues. The teachers here were so accommodating. We feel like we’ve been here forever.  The beautiful scenes of southern Illinois are too many to list. We just need to keep lifting up the city, building it up, and praying it up.

For too long the church has sat on the sidelines and allowed our communities to drift! I have witnessed in my time here, that as the church has shown interest in the community and uplifted the community, the church has grown and been strengthened. I am now witnessing the turnaround in many of our communities, including my own. As the church goes, so goes the city. I continue to believe that our best days are ahead of us. If we the church, begin to lift our cities, our leaders and our nation up in prayer, then the city flourishes.

I challenge you to get involved in your community. Here at the Worship Center we put sweat equity into our cities by participating in community clean up days and the rebuilding of parks, just to name a few. We will continue to do those initiatives here, but we must also ensure that we are praying for our cities. Rebuilding a community to greatness isn’t an easy task, but we are well on our way to rebuilding, reclaiming and putting Southern Illinois on the map.

Melissa and I take Jeep drives through the various communities that make up Southern Illinois. We take note of the many businesses, restaurants and stores that weren’t here when we first moved here eight years ago. As a city boy, I am thrilled for the many “new” establishments that have invested into our communities. As a Pastor, I am seeing the results of God honoring His word. Now on our Jeep drives, we try to stop at the unique places of Southern Illinois, including a lot of the Mom and Pop restaurants and stores. I make it a point to invest back into the businesses that invest in their local community.

So, let’s do our part to bless our city, bless our community and if we do those things, ultimately we bless Southern Illinois!

 

The Verbs #10 (Affirmation)

The number 10 represents law, government and restoration. Solomon has spent nine chapters trying to convince us to go after wisdom and run from, or shun, the other woman. Now here in Chapter 10, Solomon begins his series of proverbs, with each one being powerful and practical. If we go after wisdom, it will bring proper order into our lives.

Solomon opens this chapter by talking about the affect a son has on his parents. A wise son makes a father glad. Look at the times when our heavenly Father gives His Son praise or affirmation. When Jesus was baptized, the heavens opened and a voice was heard saying, “this is my son in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Then when Jesus was on the mountain speaking to Elijah and Moses, God said, “this is My Son hear Him.” (Luke 9:35).

Looking at these two moments, one cannot help but see that submitting to God through baptism, is a wise choice that brings gladness to the heart of our Heavenly Father. We can also clearly see that it is pleasing to God when we lay our own agendas down, and follow the will of God for our lives instead.

As much as a child can influence a parent, the parent has greater influence upon the child. The words that we use are so powerful. We are given a great example to follow. Jesus was a child who knew who He was. At a young age, He told His parents I must be about My Father’s business (Luke 2:49). He was upset that they had even been looking for Him. No doubt, some would look at that and ask why, or even if, Jesus needed affirmation, love or support. Clearly His mission and His destiny, what He was born to do, was an incredible task.

Jesus received affirmation and confirmation. How much more important is it, that we give our children affirmation and confirmation when they are doing well or doing the right thing? So often, I can look to the things that are not up to my standard as a parent, and begin to dwell on the negative so much, that my child never hears the good things  I say about them and what they do. If our children make us happy, we should tell them so. I know the scripture states that if we spare the rod we will spoil the child; however, if it is all rod and never a nod of approval, I believe we are robbing a child of one their greatest blessings, and that is the approval of their parents. Trust me, the approval of the Heavenly Father didn’t go to Jesus’ head, because immediately after that statement of approval from a pleased Father, Jesus went through one of the greatest trials of His life. I know in my life, the words my parents have spoken to me and poured into my life, are what has helped me through the greatest trials in my personal life. Could it be the same in your child’s life? That when everyone is bullying, tormenting and/or causing trouble for them, that playing out in their minds are not the words of those people, but instead it is your words of encouragement, affirmation and confirmation. Your words may just be the words that carry them through their darkest trial.

Let me ask you a question. Jesus said I only do what I saw my Father do and I only say what I have heard My Father say (John 5:19). What would your child be saying and doing, if they did the same with you?

As you read this Proverb, you will find so many applicable statements. If you act on them, they will improve your life. They will set you on a course that will give you a life full of freedom, a life that is enriched and a life that is expanded.

Before you read all of Proverbs 10, I want to call your attention to one more verse in this chapter, verse 22. The New King James Version renders the verse like this, “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.”

When God is the one that is in charge and He’s the one opening the doors, there is no sorrow at the end of it. Often, when we try to open doors and manipulate our way in, there is a sorrow at the end of the journey.

Verse 22 in The Message Bible reads like this, “God’s blessing makes life rich; nothing we do can improve on God.” There is absolutely nothing we can do to improve on God! Seek after Him so that His blessings can make your life rich!

Here is the chapter in its entirety:

1  Wise son, glad father;
stupid son, sad mother.
2  Ill-gotten gain gets you nowhere;
an honest life is immortal.
3  God won’t starve an honest soul,
but he frustrates the appetites of the wicked.
4  Sloth makes you poor;
diligence brings wealth.
5  Make hay while the sun shines—that’s smart;
go fishing during harvest—that’s stupid.
6  Blessings accrue on a good and honest life,
but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.
7  A good and honest life is a blessed memorial;
a wicked life leaves a rotten stench.
8  A wise heart takes orders;
an empty head will come unglued.
9  Honesty lives confident and carefree,
but Shifty is sure to be exposed.
10  An evasive eye is a sign of trouble ahead,
but an open, face-to-face meeting results in peace.
11  The mouth of a good person is a deep, life-giving well,
but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.
12  Hatred starts fights,
but love pulls a quilt over the bickering.
13  You’ll find wisdom on the lips of a person of insight,
but the shortsighted needs a slap in the face.
14  The wise accumulate knowledge—a true treasure;
know-it-alls talk too much—a sheer waste.
The Road to Life Is a Disciplined Life
15  The wealth of the rich is their bastion;
the poverty of the indigent is their ruin.
16  The wage of a good person is exuberant life;
an evil person ends up with nothing but sin.
17  The road to life is a disciplined life;
ignore correction and you’re lost for good.
18  Liars secretly hoard hatred;
fools openly spread slander.
19  The more talk, the less truth;
the wise measure their words.
20  The speech of a good person is worth waiting for;
the blabber of the wicked is worthless.
21  The talk of a good person is rich fare for many,
but chatterboxes die of an empty heart.
Fear-of-God Expands Your Life
22  God’s blessing makes life rich;
nothing we do can improve on God.
23  An empty-head thinks mischief is fun,
but a mindful person relishes wisdom.
24  The nightmares of the wicked come true;
what the good people desire, they get.
25  When the storm is over, there’s nothing left of the wicked;
good people, firm on their rock foundation, aren’t even fazed.
26  A lazy employee will give you nothing but trouble;
it’s vinegar in the mouth, smoke in the eyes.
27  The Fear-of-God expands your life;
a wicked life is a puny life.
28  The aspirations of good people end in celebration;
the ambitions of bad people crash.
29  God is solid backing to a well-lived life,
but he calls into question a shabby performance.
30  Good people last—they can’t be moved;
the wicked are here today, gone tomorrow.
31  A good person’s mouth is a clear fountain of wisdom;
a foul mouth is a stagnant swamp.
32  The speech of a good person clears the air;
the words of the wicked pollute it.

Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: The Bible in contemporary language (Pr 10). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPres

The Verbs #9 (Feelings)

Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home;

it’s supported by seven hewn timbers.

The banquet meal is ready to be served: lamb roasted,

wine poured out, table set with silver and flowers.

Having dismissed her serving maids,

Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place,

and invites everyone within sound of her voice:

“Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on?

Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me!

I’ve prepared a wonderful spread—fresh-baked bread,

roast lamb, carefully selected wines.

Leave your impoverished confusion and live!

Walk up the street to a life with meaning.”

Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Pr 9). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

Here, wisdom built a university, furnished it, opened all the classrooms and then headed in to town to recruit. Wisdom is recruiting prospects into the classroom of wisdom. This is an invitation to every single person and it’s a beautiful thing. Money, education level, neighborhood, last name, color, creed, economic status or your political affiliation, is not a determining factor to receiving an invitation to this university. It is open to every single person. The only prerequisite needed is your desire to learn! There is no tuition, loans or room and board to pay. It’s a free university if you are willing to leave the impoverished, confused life, and just walk up the street to a life that has meaning.

That is a pretty incredible deal. It’s offered every day, every moment until Jesus comes. All you need to do is decide to leave the life that leads to nowhere and come to this life that is abundant life.

Now, just to give you a warning that you should understand clearly, this course that is taught in the university of wisdom, you may not be able to handle. You might even want to drop out of this class. The course is called conviction and constructive criticism. It’s the corrective measure of God. He places a feeling (we call it conviction) into us that gives us a pause, warning or command to either stop doing something or to start doing something. How you handle that course determines whether you stay in this university.

Solomon tells us the difference in people who take this class in verse Proverbs 9:7:

If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you’ll get slapped in the face;

confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins.

So don’t waste your time on a scoffer;

all you’ll get for your pains is abuse.

But if you correct those who care about life,

that’s different—they’ll love you for it!

Save your breath for the wise—they’ll be wiser for it;

tell good people what you know—they’ll profit from it.

Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Pr 9:7–9). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

I have heard that first line explained in so many different ways. “Never smack a man who chews tobacco” was the way that one preacher said it. In other words, you have to decide if the stain is worth the point you are trying to make.  Or it’s like the story of the bulldog and the skunk. The skunk kept coming into the bulldog’s yard. Everybody was waiting on the bulldog to go whip the skunk. He could do it, everyone knew that he could, but he never did make a move towards the skunk. Finally, someone asked the bulldog why he didn’t go run that skunk out of his yard? He said, “well I knew I could beat him, I just didn’t think it was worth the stink.” You have to decide if the fight is worth the stink, and most often it is not!

So many people have a lot of knowledge. Knowledge is simply knowing the facts. We are in the school of wisdom, and wisdom is knowing how to apply those facts. Here we are told to save our breath. Why even bother dealing with some people? Instead, focus on the ones that want this kind of life, the life that Jesus has given to us.

Sadly, one area that many people get upset about is when their lifestyle is contrary to the word of God. The scripture says that when you do make that confrontation, it will cause you pain. Why? They have been fooled by another voice.

13–18  Then there’s this other woman, Madame Whore—

brazen, empty-headed, frivolous.

She sits on the front porch

of her house on Main Street,

And as people walk by minding

their own business, calls out,

“Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on?

Steal off with me, I’ll show you a good time!

No one will ever know—I’ll give you the time of your life.”

But they don’t know about all the skeletons in her closet,

that all her guests end up in hell.

People are fooled by the good time they are having; however, they don’t see that there is a sudden stop coming to that good time. One cannot deny that sin is pleasant for a season (Hebrews 11:25). However, there is also no denying that it always ends in destruction (Proverbs 14:12). Just because something feels good doesn’t indicate that it is right. Emotions, or shall I say feelings, often can lead us down a path that isn’t godly.

Feelings are the main way that the enemy fools people. May I remind you that the devil came at Eve, using one of God gifts to humankind: feelings.We need to understand some things about feelings, starting with the fact that God created them. He gave us the capacity to have them, just as He Himself has feelings. Look at the scriptures, and you’ll see how God feels. He expresses pleasure, joy, anger and sadness just to name a few. He gave us the ability to feel all those things. While feelings are gifts from God, they do have limitations. Operating on a feeling isn’t the same as operating with truth, or even rational thinking. Feelings can go up and down, but what we know as truth, always stays the same. Feelings tend to react, but thinking tends to keep itself grounded in what we know. Again, truth remains the same. The bottom line is that feelings can react to something we know not to be true.That’s why, when it comes to responding to what God tells us, we must put what we know ahead of what we feel. We must make our knowledge of His truth the engine, and our feelings the caboose.We need to make sure that our feelings are guided by what we know, not the other way around.Satan convinced Eve to turn that around and her feelings were driving instead of following. He wanted her to use the emotions that he stirred within her to be the choice maker on whether she ate the forbidden fruit or she obeyed God.

Thousands of years after this scene in the garden, the apostle John wrote this of the sinful pleasures this world has to offer:

“for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the father, but is from the world” 1 John 2:16 (NASB)

When you compare this verse with Genesis 3:6, you notice some striking parallels. John tells us that the world offers:

Lust of the flesh = The fruit looked so good to Eve, good enough to eat

Lust of the eye = The fruit was pleasing to Eve’s eyes

Boastful pride of life = The fruit was desirable to make Eve wise

Satan knew then, and knows now, that he can appeal to these kinds of feelings, which are in the heart of every human being. Each of us wants to satisfy the lust of our flesh and eyes, and each of us wants to think more highly of ourselves then God says we should. Sin feels good, but for a season. Many people enjoy the “feel good” part, but that part will come to an end.

Part of the devil’s strategy in getting us to sin is to give us the illusion that we can control it, and for a while, it even seems that way. We do what feels good thinking we are in control, but it’s only a matter of time before sin controls us. If you were to talk to anyone whose marriage, ministry or life has been ruined by the effects of drugs, alcohol or any other addiction, I think that that person would tell you, “I never thought it would come to this. I was just dabbling in it, and then I got sucked into it.”

What Satan didn’t want Eve to know and what he doesn’t want us to know today, is that when we decide to disobey God, when we remove ourselves from the protection of God, then the devil is running the show. When the devil is running the show, he’ll take you farther then you want to go and keep you longer than you ever planned to stay.

That’s why you need to stay in the Course at Wisdom University.

The Verbs #7 (Dressed for Success)

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Proverbs 7 is quite a chapter. Up to this point, most of the Proverbs have related to two main topics: wisdom and women. Solomon is speaking and giving instruction to run towards wisdom, but to flee from the evil woman. He is writing these proverbs to his son imploring him to flee from the woman who is out to destroy him; however, the point is applicable to us all.

Solomon is talking about running from temptation. Specifically, here in Chapter 7, he speaks about a woman who was dressed to seduce. She was dressed and properly positioned for success in capturing the young man in her snare.

Throughout this chapter, the woman appeals to the young man in seven different ways.

This woman was positioned on the corner. It wasn’t that her house was on the corner; that is where she positioned herself to seduce the man. Maybe you’ve heard the old saying, “trouble came looking for you”. That’s what we have in this Proverb. It is what happens to us if we are not vigilant in keeping ourselves pure before God, and staying in tune with what the enemy of our soul is attempting to do to us. We will succumb to this attack.

You can describe the devil as cunning, shrewd and even brilliant in his attacks on you. He properly positions himself to lay a trap for you. The Bible tells us that he is extremely crafty. The Bible also uses a snake as an imagery of Satan. Snakes do not blink because they do not have eyelids. Their eyes are always open, so they are always watching, on the prowl and ready for the attack! Your enemy is on the lookout, or shall I say he’s standing on the corner, looking out for you.  He never stops, he never rests and he’s extremely patient. Peter warned us about Satan’s prowling ways that we are to be sober-minded, watchful because our adversary prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

We all have this mental picture of the enemy of our soul. We have the comic book or the Hollywood version played out in our minds time and time again. He is this ghoulish looking enemy, but he was the shining light. II Corinthians 11:14 tells us that he “disguises himself as an angel of light”. He appears as something that can look good and trustworthy.  The story we find in Genesis 3 tells us that the devil understands how to dress for success. He disguised himself in a manner that Eve would not question or have any reason to mistrust. At this point in history, there was no fear of animals or nature, so for her to approach a snake wasn’t out of the ordinary. The devil used something, that at first glance, wouldn’t cause alarm.

In sports, teams use their practice time studying and preparing how to attack the weaknesses of their opponent. The enemy of your soul does the exact same thing. He studies, he listens and prepares an attack that can exploit you and that catches you off guard! He’s just waiting on you to walk by the corner where he has laid his trap.

So many will say, “I am strong enough to ward off the attacks of the enemy.” Let me shed some light on that argument. The Bible describes four men who were extremely powerful and gifted leaders, some had great anointing on their lives. One, from his mother’s womb was to be a Nazarite. These great and powerful men fell by way of the woman. Samson, David, Solomon and Herod all fell through the snare of a woman. Samson was one of the strongest men who ever lived, yet succumbed to the temptation of a woman. David was one of the greatest songwriters and kings who ever lived, but was tripped up by noticing Bathsheba. Solomon, the wisest of all until Jesus, couldn’t pass the test. Herod, doing all that he could to stay in power, let a dance of a little girl and the request of her mother, bring him to a decision to kill John the Baptist. Still think you are strong enough to continually pass by the corner and remain unmoved? Only by the help of the Holy Spirit can you withstand the attacks of the enemy upon your life.

The Holy Spirit is the mechanism by which we can know where, how and when the attack will come. Paul stated to the church at Corinth that we are not to be ignorant of his devices. Meaning we are to be aware of how the devil works so that we can always have the advantage on him.

A few years ago, I preached a message about the times in which the enemy would launch an attack or lay a trap for you. He rarely will come at you with a full-frontal assault. It is usually a glancing blow that gets you out of balance, and then he goes for the haymaker. Here are five opportune times the enemy will launch an attack: (You can request the notes from the full sermon.)

1. Right after a spiritual victory (Victories often lead to defeat!)
2. When you’re alone (There is a big difference in being lonely and isolated, versus solitude!)
3. When you are physically drained (I could add when you are emotionally and spiritually drained!)
4. When you’re at church (C’mon, you’ve been there and done this one too!)
5. When you begin something new for God (Like a fast!)

Look at the wording here of this scripture:

13 Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.
The New King James Version. (1982). (Lk 4:13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

He tempted but didn’t fulfill his desire of making Jesus fail, so he departed until a more opportune time. Jesus wasn’t fooled by the disguises or temptations, nor was He ignorant of the basis of the attack. Why? He knew the Word! Just as the devil can dress for success, so can you, by putting on the whole armor of God.

Further study:

Ephesians 6Matthew 4Luke 3
Judges 16:4-21Luke 4:1Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
II Samuel 11 and 12Genesis 2:18Mark 14:38
I Kings 11 Luke 4:14-15Nehemiah 13:26

The Verbs #5 (Mark Well)

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The Verbs #5 – Mark Well
“Mark well that GOD doesn’t miss a move you make; he’s aware of every step you take. The shadow of your sin will overtake you; you’ll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark. Death is the reward of an undisciplined life; your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭5:21-23‬ ‭MSG‬‬
 
When I was a kid, my grandmother had a favorite line she would quote to us when she knew that we weren’t telling the truth or that we were trying to hide something from her. She’d say, “be sure your sins will find you out”. Ultimately we’d wind up telling the true story to her. I had no idea when I was five or six years old that she was quoting the Bible (Numbers 32:23), and really relaying a common theme throughout the Bible, that God is really watching everything that we do. 
 
Over and over again biblical stories prove that God is watching what is happening. King David and Nathan the prophet were speaking one day on the front porch of King David’s house, God was listening…
 
“Before long, the king made himself at home and GOD gave him peace from all his enemies. Then one day King David said to Nathan the prophet, “Look at this: Here I am, comfortable in a luxurious house of cedar, and the Chest of God sits in a plain tent.”
 
But that night, the word of GOD came to Nathan saying, “Go and tell my servant David: This is GOD ’s word on the matter: You’re going to build a ‘house’ for me to live in? Why, I haven’t lived in a ‘house’ from the time I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt till now. All that time I’ve moved about with nothing but a tent. And in all my travels with Israel, did I ever say to any of the leaders I commanded to shepherd Israel, ‘Why haven’t you built me a house of cedar?’”
‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭7:1-2, 4-7‬ ‭MSG‬‬
 
It was a simple conversation about the Ark of the Covenant, God was listening. You would think that would have been enough for David to know that God was in tune with everything that he did.Yet, it didn’t keep David from the event of Bathsheba. He assumed that everyone was off to battle, no one is looking, it’ll be our little secret. That little secret led to more secrets, and all of them God knew. Guess who was sent to remind David of that point? That’s right! Nathan was sent to remind him God was watching the whole thing unfold. 
 
I have to believe that is why Solomon could write this Proverb. He’d heard the story, after all He was the son of David and Bathsheba. Here he’s giving a warning to all who’ll listen. Mark well God doesn’t miss a move you make, He’s aware of every step you take. 
 
We jokingly state a times, that we should live so that the preacher doesn’t have to lie at your funeral. In fact, it really doesn’t matter what is said at your funeral, the way that a tree falls, is how it lays. No changing it after it has fallen. You must take care of those things with God, He already knows, so go ahead and ask Him to forget those things. We call that repentance, it is us owning up to the moves we’ve made, and God doing what only God can do, forgiving us of our sins. 
 
God is watching and will always be watching the moves we make, both good and bad. 
 
He watched Cain, don’t think because God asked the question about where is your brother that He didnt already know. Matter of fact,He told Cain, your brothers blood is speaking to me from the ground in Genesis 4.
 
God watched the builder’s of Babel. He came down to see the city and tower that they had built, He knew the motives for which they were building it. Genesis 11
 
God knew what was happening in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. God said that He’d heard the outcry about what was happening and He would see for Himself, if the cry of the victims was true. Genesis 18
 
God watched as Uzzah, placed his hand upon His ark. 2 Samuel 6:6-7 & 1 Chronicles 13:10
 
Come to the New Testament and read Revelation chapters 2 and 3 and you’ll see that He knew all that was happening in the seven churches. 
 
 
Jesus stated in Matthew 12:37 that even our words are watched…
 
““You have minds like a snake pit! How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭12:34-37‬ ‭MSG‬‬
 
In Matthew 10:42 Jesus said…
 
“He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:41-42‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
 
The littlest things are watched, the moves you make are watched, every move you make.
 
So when you are tempted to make a move, remember Jesus is with you. Remember, He said He’d never leave you, nor forsake you, but He’d be with you, until the ends of the world. So when that temptation comes, remember you’re not alone!
You are anything but alone, God is with you, Angels are observing you, and there is a great cloud of witnesses, cheering you on, to make move towards the way of escape from the temptation. There is way of escape from every temptation: turn to God, and you’ll be making a move that you can be proud of. That’s a move that God will remember. It likewise will be marked well!

The Verbs #3

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The string to a kite isn’t restrictive as some would think. In fact, it is the string which keeps the kite in flight. If the string is lost the kite crashes!

That is exactly what Solomon was telling us about instruction and correction. He states to take the commands to heart (3:1). In so doing, they’ll help you live a long time and they will allow you to have a life that is full and well.

Many people see correction and instruction as restrictive. In reality they are what keep us flying and ultimately flying high.

Solomon even goes so far as to state, make sure you live in such a way that you earn a reputation for living well in God’s eyes and in the eyes of people.

Over the years, I have learned the only way to fly high in any arena of influence, you must have deep roots. The higher your kite flies, the more people notice!

Yesterday we talked about digging deep. You need to dig deep so that when you are flying high, you do not lose your character. When your roots are not deep, you can and often will go off course, especially when it comes to influence, money or a position of leadership.

The string on the kite not only keeps the kite in flight, it also keeps it tied to the owner. As long as the owner holds the string the kite operates the way it was designed to. The kite flies and is directed by the string holder. The string is simply the connection between the two. That connection is how the kite is directed.  In the moments of trouble, that direction can either accelerate, lower or maneuver the kite so that despite the turbulence, the kite will stay in flight.

That is why God gave us His word. It isn’t restrictive. In fact, it is the connection between us and Him. It is what maneuvers us around and or through the trouble. It is what keeps us during the shifts in our life and it is what stabilizes us despite the currents we may be going through. In other words, it keeps us in flight.

This is why when you start living that life you’ve always wanted, or you get the answered prayer you’ve been praying for for years, you must remember Who let you fly, Who answered that prayer, remember Who blessed you! The Who is God! Remember God.

Proverbs tells us to listen for God’s voice in everything, and everywhere. He is the one that will keep you on track. He is the one that will keep you moving towards your destiny!

So don’t resent the string! It isn’t a restriction, it’s actually a blessing because it’s your connection!