Never Go Back!

John 6:66–69, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

John 6:66. It’s tragic but true…it happens. 
Over the years I’ve seen many of the “disciples” go back and walk with Christ no more, just as we read in this passage. One of the guys was a brother that used to teach our New Believer’s class at the church we attended. Shelly and I went through the entire course twice, we loved it, and we loved him. We even had him over our house, he taught a study in our home at one of our birthday parties.
But there came a day when he decided to walk with Christ no more. Was he ever really saved? Will he ever come back? Only the Lord knows. I do know he was a great guy and a great Bible teacher. But it’s interesting to read in our text for today how that after some of them left, Jesus questioned the 12, “Do you also want to go away?” Jesus seemed to be checking on them, their heart, their will…“is that something you want as well?”
Peter, who was usually the spokesman, spoke for the others, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Right on Peter! It’s 100% true, that even though there are those times in life we just don’t understand, we do understand this, that there is nowhere else to go. We believe in You Jesus, and we will walk with You for the rest of our lives.
Let’s do that! Love you guys!
Your brother in Christ,
– Manny

A Contemplation of Crowns

Revelation 19:16 (NKJV) “And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Some refer to them as England, others as Great Britain, but the name most appropriate for today is the United Kingdom – all the above referring to a single nation, who is mourning the passing away of their dearly beloved, Queen Elizabeth. She was queen regnant of 32 different sovereign states during her life, and served as monarch of 15 of them at the time of her death. Her reign of 70 years and 214 days is the longest of any British monarch and the longest recorded of any female head of state in history.
I haven’t done extensive research, but I’m hearing through the gracevine that she had faith in Christ. Queen Elizabeth is quoted as saying, “For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life.”
Franklin Graham posted the following on his IG account, “I’m especially grateful for the Queen’s friendship with my father Billy Graham. He cherished their friendship that was built on a shared love for Jesus Christ and belief in God’s Word. My father had the privilege of meeting with the Queen more than a dozen times, and she was a gracious host, inviting my parents to visit Buckingham Palace on several occasions. My father said he found Queen Elizabeth “to be a woman of rare modesty and character,” and made a pledge to pray for her and her family every day. He also appreciated how she often talked about Jesus Christ during her public addresses—there was never any question about where she placed her faith. Queen Elizabeth once said, “I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.”
We mourn the Queen’s passing, but find solace in the comforting truth that because of her faith in Jesus Christ, she is home in heaven forever.
All this leads to our passage for today.

Revelation 19:16 (NKJV) “And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

England, a.k.a Great Britain, a.k.a. the United Kingdom has a new monarch, King Charles III. When I heard about it, it seemed almost surreal to me. Wow! A new king! It made me think how one day, and it could be very, very soon, at the passing of this era, the world will crown a new King, the King of kings, Jesus Christ. This will be the true and final “United Kingdom.” Just as the transition of power was inevitable, it was expected (Queen Elizabeth was 96 years old when she passed), so too this is inevitable, and the expectation mounts each and every day.
Are you ready for the coming of Christ? You can only be ready if you’ve placed your faith in Him and are abiding in Him.
Maybe this is a sign for us to see, a not so subtle reminder…the King is coming.
Looking forward to His return, 
– Manny

Visiting Your Friends

Job 21:34 (NLT) “How can your empty clichés comfort me? All your explanations are lies.”

One of the most important ministries in the church is visitations. When we visit someone in the hospital or a friend who’s going through “hard times,” God wants to use us to bless and comfort His people. Tragically, Job’s friends fell miserably short. as a matter of fact he even calls them “miserable comforters,” (Job 16:2). They came with “empty words” (NKJV), “empty cliches” (NLT), “futile words” (NET), even “nonsense (NIV).

Why? How could his “friends” do this to him? 

Well, first of all their theology was wrong. They mistakenly believed in health, wealth, and prosperity, that all believers are owed that by God. Job, clearly teaches us the contrary, that the most wonderful people can and will suffer tragedy.

Secondly, Job’s friends were not sensitive to the Holy Spirit. When we visit people, we need to be Spirit led. We mustn’t approach people with casual clichés we’ve developed over the years. Yes, sometimes those “principles” rooted in Scripture are indeed appropriate for the situation, but not always. Pray and ask the Lord for insight into the situation at hand.
Another thing we need to guard ourselves against is explanations. None of us have all the answers, we don’t usually know “why.” I’m always reminded of the words of Warren Wiersbe, “We live on promises, not explanations.”
Be careful. Be slow to speak. Sometimes it’s just your presence, your hug, and your listening heart they need. 

The book of Job primarily deals with a righteous man who suffers beyond measure, he questions, complains, and even accuses God, but he does not lose heart, he never abandons his faith. But – the book of Job also teaches us what NOT to do when we visit people. Little did Job’s friends know that they had entered into the very pages of the Bible, right smack dab in the middle of a battleground between God and the devil…all centering on this man named Job whom God esteemed, and they despised.

May we all always be Spirit led.
Your brother in Christ,
– Manny

Tragedy or Triumph?

Philippians 1:21–23 (NKJV)
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”

You may have heard the news:

The close-knit Colorado family of Calvary Chapel fellowships is mourning the deaths of Scott Cox and his wife Nancy. Scott served as Senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Windsor, Colorado. The couple died following a tragic auto accident on Monday, July 4, 2022. Scott and his wife Nancy started the church back in 2006. They are survived by their children Alex and Charlie. Please pray for their sons, their extended family, and the church, as they mourn this tragic loss.

Our hearts our broken, shattered…and yet I wonder, can we accurately refer to this as a tragedy?

In our passage for today, Paul informs us of that fact for the Christian – to die is “gain.” He even said he had that deep desire to depart and be with Christ, which is FAR BETTER. Death for us is a departure to glory, to heaven, where we as believers will live forever and ever in the very presence of God (John 14:1-3; Revelation 21:1-7).

But…if you’re like me, or even Paul the Apostle, we’re torn between the two, aren’t we? We long to live long lives on earth, to love our family, to serve the people. If you’re faithful, like Paul the Apostle, or Scott and Nancy Cox it would mean fruit from your labor. It’s a tough choice Paul said.

Thank God the choice is not ours, it’s His…and the truth is, Father knows best. God knows what’s best for everyone involved. May that comfort our hearts.

As I ponder the passing of Scott and Nancy, I’m also reminded of the fact that any of us can die suddenly. We all have an appointment with death (Hebrews 9:27), a race to run and finish one day (2 Timothy 4:7). Are we ready? As Christians we are, and we should not be afraid. Christians live in the invincible principal meaning we can’t die unless God allows it, and when He does, we’re home in heaven.

The challenge is for those we leave behind. Please pray for the family and the church.

It’s good to weep…and it’s good to worship. Praise God for the saved lives of two people who understood what Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21a, “For to me, to live is Christ.”

May we all have that simple, saving summary of life.

Your brother in Christ,

  • Manny

Learning from an Ant

Proverbs 6:6–8 (NKJV) “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, 7 Which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, 8 Provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.”

What a shame that we have been degraded to the point of having to be taught Bible truths by bugs! Imagine that…instructed by insects – but it is helpful – and I think at times, necessary for some.

1. Notice the ant’s inner Motivation (v. 7)
Having no captain, overseer, or ruler, meaning there’s no one pushing them, no one watching them, and yet they continue to work productively. No one has to tell them, “Ok, chop, chop, break’s over, get back to work.” No, the ant has a heart to work, honestly, and productively, they need no external motivation.

Christians should be the hardest and most faithful workers of all because we’re aware of the fact that ultimately, we work for Jesus. 

Ephesians 6:5–6 (NLT) “Workers, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart.”

2. Notice the ant’s thoughtful Preparation (v. 8) 
They’re “go-getters,” and they’re “gatherers” As go-getters they don’t sit back with a sense of entitlement saying mom, dad, family, friends, society, and government owes it to me. No, they go out and get it, they labor…they work for it.

We’re to do the same – and on the flip side, we should not support the lazy. Don’t misunderstand me, I know the Bible encourages that we give generously to the poor, but not to freeloaders interested only in handouts. We read in:

2 Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”


Warren Wiersbe said, “The biggest thieves of all are the lazy people who could work but won’t, the people who consume what others produce but produce nothing for others to use. The “sluggard” and the “slothful man” are mentioned at least seventeen times in Proverbs, and nothing good is said about them. We need to recognize the fact that work is not a curse. God gave Adam work to do in the Garden, even before sin entered the scene.”

I like what one person said, “Work is the meat of life, and pleasure is the desert.”

Another said, “It’s better to wear out than rust out, so beware of handouts.”

When there’s a genuine need – praise God that so many are sensitive to the Spirit and they give to the helpless, but if a man needs to learn to walk and work, we musn’t get in the way…we might cripple him for life.

Ants are “go-getters” and they’re “gatherers” (savers). Notice again what we read in:

Proverbs 6:8, “Provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.”

I realize this isn’t always possible for all of us, but I know of one young man who prior to the pandemic had close to 6 months of wages in his savings account. When the virus hit, and his industry was hit, he was furloughed and lost his income, but he was okay financially until he found another job, because he was a go-getter and a gatherer, a saver…like the ant.

God help us to be hard workers, go-getters, and do all that we can to save up for a rainy day. May we learn from the revelation of creation…even an ant.

Love you! Your brother in Christ, 
– Manny

The Prideful Truth

Proverbs 29:23 (NKJV) “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.”

You’ve may have heard that story about a minister, a Boy Scout, and a computer expert who were the only passengers on a small plane. The pilot came back to the cabin and said that the plane was going down but there were only three parachutes and four people. The pilot then said, “I should have one of the parachutes because I have a wife and three small children.” So, he took one and jumped.

The computer whiz said, “I should have one of the parachutes because I am the smartest man in the world and everyone needs me.” So, he took one and jumped.

The minister turned to the Boy Scout and with a sad but sure smile said, “You’re young and I’ve had a blessed life, by God’s grace I know I’m saved, so you take the remaining parachute, and I’ll go down with the plane.”
The Boy Scout said, “That won’t be necessary, sir, the smartest man in the world just picked up my backpack and jumped out!”

A satirical story to illustrate the truth of today’s Proverb, “A man’s pride will bring him low (very low), but the humble in spirit will retain honor.”

We all have it, and it challenges us every day…pride resides within us and fights to take over. The dictionary defines it as, “A high view of oneself; a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.”

The world is proud of their pride, but Christians shouldn’t be. Pride is the root of all sin.

When I think of humility I think of honesty. I know who I am apart from Christ, a weak, wretched, wicked man. I don’t deserve anything good, and I’m not entitled. The truth is, I am NOTHING and can do NOTHING without HIM (John 15:5), but God has been gracious to me.

May we swallow the pride and walk in humility. We’ll be blessed by the results.

Your brother in Christ,

  • Manny

Family & Friends

Just thought I’d write a quick word of appreciation for my best friend and wife, Shelly, and for our good friends Anthony and Monique Ramos.

Thank You Lord for the one You gave me as a life-long companion. Your word says that there came a time when it was NOT GOOD for man to be alone, so you made Him a wife, the one person to help him in life. Thank You Lord for my beautiful friend and perfect companion. (check out Genesis 2:18, 21-25; Malachi 2:14).

And then there’s Anthony & Monique. We love this family (and what a family it is – 8 children!). They were saved by Christ from a very destructive lifestyle (that’s the case for everyone who gets saved), and we witnessed their hunger for God and growth as Christians in such a beautiful way. They attended Calvary Chapel El Monte for almost 2 decades, and even though they’ve moved far away, certain things never move; every time we see them, there’s a rediscovery of a bond beyond friendship, there’s no doubt…they’ve become family.

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

p.s. – Click HERE to check out the Ramos’ Family YouTube channel.

December 31

Malachi 3:1–4:6

Malachi begins chapter 3 with a prophecy regarding John the Baptist who would come in the spirit and power of Elijah (Matthew 11:10; 17:12-13; Luke 1:17; Isaiah 40:3). He would be the forerunner to the main Messenger of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ 

Malachi then fast-forwards thousands of years to the Second Coming of Christ. He asks the question, “Who can endure the day of His coming?” (Malachi 3:2). God will judge the world and deal with Israel. The Levitical priests will finally be right in His sight and offer up pleasant sacrifices to God during the Millennial Kingdom.

Malachi then returns to the people of his day and shares with them God’s invitation:

Malachi 3:7 (NKJV) “…’return to Me, and I will return to you,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’” 

In tithes and offerings. It was here, they needed to return.

They were not giving to God what belonged to God and in that sin they had robbed Him and even brought a curse upon themselves.

I’m of the personal conviction that tithes are still expected of us today (as a minimum, a good place to start in our giving). Regarding tithing Jesus said in Luke 11:42, “…these you ought to have done.” If 10% was the expectation of the Old Testament, under a covenant of the blood of animals, how can it be any less under the covenant of the blood of Jesus?  Granted, there are some widows and others who have no luxuries whatsoever, living on a fixed income who cannot tithe. God knows, and this is why He doesn’t mandate it under the New Covenant, but for the rest of us with the latest phones, cars, clothes, fast food, fine dining, cable TV and all the other wants our hearts desire – to say that we can’t give God tithes and offerings – is closely related to robbing God. 

Now, some may say that I’m only of this conviction because I’m a pastor who depends on the giving of the church, but that’s not the case. I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is my provider and the sustainer of the church.

No, I take Malachi’s warning to heart. I do believe that some will suffer allowing the devourer to devour due to their disobedience in this area.

I believe we should give to God tithes and offerings. If we’re not financially there at this point, we should work our way towards this goal passionately. We should budget our finances in such a way that the first 10% goes to the church we attend (our home church where we’re fed) and the extras (offerings) go to other ministries and needs that God will show you.

Whatever you do, don’t worry. God will provide my friends, and He challenges us to test Him in this area (Malachi 3:10). Try it and watch how He opens the windows of heaven and blesses you in such a way that your cups overflow. That doesn’t mean we will be rich financially, but we will be rich spiritually…and God will meet our every need (Philippians 4:19).

One of my all-time favorite books that covers this topic is “The Treasure Principle,” by Randy Alcorn. You can check it out on Amazon by clicking HERE.

Let’s do all that we can to return to God.

May we never say it’s useless to serve God and to walk in His ways (Malachi 3:14). Tragically that’s what some were saying in Malachi’s day. I’m reminded of that passage in:

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Malachi not only warns the people NOT to complain, he encourages them to speak words of praise, and fellowship…words that reverence God. Malachi reveals something found only here, that God has a “Book of Remembrance,” He listens to our conversations and records them in His book. I’m assuming that one day this book will come into play for future rewards.

And then in chapter 4 Malachi closes the book (and the Old Testament) with warning and wooing. For the wicked, the day of the LORD is a fiery furnace. For the righteous His Second Coming brings healing forever. Are we ready? Are we righteous? If not, may Malachi’s words penetrate our hearts to be always be ready, through faith in Christ.

He closes the book with a prophecy of Elijah as one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11, during the Tribulation Period. He will come before that dreadful day of the LORD.

It’s fascinating to me that the Old Testament closes with a curse, while the New Testament closes with grace. 

It’s pretty clear that the difference between the two (blessing or cursing) is dependent upon whether or not we will take God’s Word to heart as spoken through His messengers – messengers like Malachi…and ultimately Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-2).

God helps us to take His Word to heart!

Love you guys! What an incredible journey it’s been going through the Old Testament like this! Thanks for joining me.

Revelation 22:1-21

More visuals of heaven. We once again see the throne of God (which includes the Lamb). From that throne proceeds a pure river, this water of life. I do believe we’ll drink from it, I also believe it symbolizes the wonderful life God grants us in His sovereign grace.

Then there’s the Tree of Life (something we saw back in Genesis 2:9; 3:22, 24) that’s rooted and rises in the middle of the street, and on both sides…yielding different fruits each month (does that mean there’s still this yearly type of calendar we have, with orbits of the earth and moon?). Somehow the consumption of the water, fruit, and leaves contribute to the preparation of our bodies to inhabit eternity. It’s for that reason God did not allow Adam and Eve to partake of the Tree of Life while in a fallen state.

How beautiful are those words, “no more curse.” The immediate contrast to the curse is the crown, God’s crown. His righteous rule over all. There we will see the Lord, we will serve the Lord, and reign with Him forever and ever. There there will be no need for artificial lights, the darkness will flee forever from the presence and glory of God, His Light illuminates every nook and cranny of heaven.

1 John 1:5 (NKJV) “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”

Again, John is instructed to write all this down, for the words are faithful and true – and blessed are those who read and heed this book of Revelation, who preserve its pages and share it with others, “…who keep the words of the prophecy of this book.”  (see also Revelation 3:10; 12:17; 14:12). Some people steer clear of the book of Revelation, they avoid it thinking it’s too tough to interpret, but the angel commands John NOT to seal the words of this prophecy, for the time is at hand.

Revelation 21:11 is not a passage teaching us that God doesn’t want people to repent, it’s simply a literary tool urging us to act NOW – don’t wait ‘till later or tomorrow – it may be too late. And if you’re one of those who love the Lord and are set apart to Him – stay there…may you never be moved.

I believe Jesus mentions His reward to motivate us, so let’s do what John tells us in:

2 John 1:8 (NKJV) “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.”

The revelation continues with the wooing and warning. If we do His commandments it shows we know God and love God (John 14:21, 23) – we will be blessed to partake of that Tree of Life – God is wooing us. But God also warns, that outside are dogs (metaphorically speaking of a man with an impure and impudent mind), sorcerers (drug addicts), sexually immoral, murderers, and idolaters. You don’t want to end up “outside,” my friend.

Jesus Himself sent His angel to communicate this message to all of us – if anyone thirsts, let that person come to Christ. This is an invitation from Jesus, the Spirit, and the Bride (the church) (see also Isaiah 55:1; John 7:37-38; Matthew 11:28-30) – come to the King of kings (the root and offspring of David), the bright and morning star (announcing the arrival of a new dawn, a new dynasty) come to Him all you who labor and are heavy laden.

How can we possibly be ready for His return? I’m forever grateful that the Bible ends with that word – GRACE!

Psalm 150:1-6

In this final Psalm in the Jewish hymnal we touch on some different facets of praise.


Of course we can praise God anywhere, but two wonderful places to praise God corporately are in His sanctuary on earth (where the congregation is gathered) and in His sanctuary in heaven (some translations say “Mighty heaven”). I love our times of worship in church, but I must admit, I do look forward to praising God in heaven.


We praise God for what He’s done and who He is. His mighty acts include creation, the new creation, and of course redemption (the cross and resurrection). His mighty acts are the wonderful things God has done for us all our lives, and the things He continues to do for us each and every day! How great Thou art!


We praise God with all the instruments God has given us. It’s wonderful to travel the world to see and hear the different forms of praise and worship. Drums and dance galore, percussion, piano, keyboards, saxophones, trumpets, orchestras, guitars (acoustic and electric) even the clashing of cymbals can be celebrations of praise. Although there are a plethora of instruments that vary in worship, the one instrument to be “played” and offered to God by all of us is that of the heart (Ephesians 5:19).

Who should praise God?

Everyone who has breath…let everything that has breath praise the LORD. With that breath we sing, we speak, and we live for God.

Proverbs 31:25-31

Proverbs 31:25–31 (NKJV) “Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.

This fashion of this virtuous woman is godly strength and honor, and she has much to look forward to.

Not only are her tasks amazing, but her tongue is as well.  This virtuous woman has a heart for good works as well as a heart of good words. She’s a woman of wisdom, she knows the Word…and she knows how to apply it.

This virtuous woman knows the Truth and speaks the Truth in love. Notice again the description there in v. 26b, “And on her tongue is the law of kindness.” She’s not a Bible thumper. The Hebrew word translated kindness speaks primarily of mercy.  She’s a merciful woman. Not lashing out with her lips, but she’s kind in conversation…she’s wise, knowing what to say, and when to say, and how to say (Proverbs 25:11). We read something similar in Ephesians 4:15 “…speaking the truth in love…”

Perhaps you’ve heard that maxim, something listed in the Dictionary of American Proverbs that, “Behind every great man, is a great woman.” And here we see, it has some Biblical merit. We would even say, not just behind, but “Beside every great man…”

The city gates back then, were similar to city hall nowadays. There the elders would meet, there the judgments would take place, there the wise men would gather, to be used by God for the good of His people. These guys were counselors, mentors, judges, and in that sense successful. Here we see it’s largely because of their amazing wives.

As a wife fulfills her role…her husband is then freed up to fulfill his – and I believe it works both ways.

We see this virtuous wife doing so much from a practical perspective…for her family and for her husband. The NLT says, “she carefully watches all that goes on in her household…” In other words…she knows what’s up.  She knows what’s going on with all of her children…even her teenagers. You can’t pull the wool over her eyes.

In the end, everyone is appreciative. Notice the children rise up and call her blessed…and that’s probably speaking of the fact that many children don’t realize what a blessing their mothers are, until they’re a little older. It’s okay moms…keep doing what’s right in God’s sight.  Don’t seek the approval ratings of immature children. Raise them up in the training and admonition of the Lord…one day they’ll stand up and publicly thank you.

The word charm in this context (Proverbs 31:30) might be described as elegance…the nice clothes, expensive jewelry, or even the correct mannerisms as a lady. Charm can be good, but ultimately that’s not what it’s about.

Neither is beauty all that big.

The Hebrew word translated “passing,” also means vain.  Don’t misunderstand what God is saying, it’s ok for a man or woman to do his or her best to make themselves presentable and even attractive to their husband or wife, but that is not anywhere nearly as important as the inner man – the inner woman.

You can see the beauty of a woman, and be passionately drawn to her, but it’s just eros, it’s erotic, it’s lust not love.  The good looks, the beautiful body, that won’t make a marriage, neither will it make a husband happy, or a man successful.

What is it that they really want?

The inner beauty; eyes might want the outer beauty, but the heart wants the inner beauty.

We read that clearly articulated in 1 Peter 3:1-4.

When God was looking for a man to bless His people, remember what He said to Samuel?

1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV) “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.””

…but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.  The fear of the LORD is a phrase we found 17 times in the Proverbs.

The fear of the LORD includes awe and reverence…but it’s more than that.  It’s a fear of discipline as well – that my disobedience will bring the chastening of God, into my life. It’s also a fear that I will disappoint my DADDY.

If God has blessed you with a virtuous wife and/or mom, be sure to “give” her the reward she has earned privately, and even publicly.

Share with others the things she has done, her works, there at the “gates.” May we be grateful and express our gratitude openly.

But ladies, if for some strange reason you are not rewarded on this side of time for your virtue and inner beauty, don’t worry…God will reward you one day. Remember Jesus’ words in:

Revelation 22:12 (NKJV) “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”

“Let everyone,” says Bishop Patrick, “extol her virtue. Let her not lack the just commendation of her labors. But while some are magnified for the nobleness of the stock from whence they sprung, others for their fortune, others for their beauty, others for other things, let the good deeds that she herself has done be publicly praised in the greatest assemblies, where, if all men should be silent, her own works will declare her excellent worth.”

Ruth 3:11 (NKJV) “And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.”

To the wise guys…and the wise gals. May this book, the Bible…and especially the Proverbs be at home in your heart, and lived out loud in your life. Remember, “Wisdom is to the soul, what health is to the body.”  God is willing and wanting to make us whole and healthy Christians.

May we even follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ…as He matured, we read in:

Luke 2:40 (NKJV) “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”

O Lord, I’m Your child too. Please help me to grow, help me to be strong by Your Spirit, filled with wisdom from above. And Lord, I’m so sorry…for me it’s different than Jesus, I know I will fail You. I’ll try not to, but I know in advance, I will miss the mark. I pray, I plead for Your grace to be upon my life…in Jesus’ name. Amen.

December 30

Malachi 1:1–2:17

Malachi’s name means “messenger,” and that he was! He wrote with courage and clarity in calling out the wicked complacency of the people during the years of Nehemiah’s absence.

Chuck Swindoll, “Malachi certainly wrote to the people of Judah (Malachi 1:1; 2:11), but the historical setting becomes clearer in Malachi 1:8. Here the prophet used the Persian word for governor, indicating a time period between 538–333 BC, when the Persian Empire ruled the Promised Land. Malachi also wrote about the corruption of the temple sacrifices, meaning that he likely delivered his message many years after the Israelites rebuilt the temple in 515 BC. The prophet’s concerns mirror those of Nehemiah’s, suggesting that Malachi prophesied to the people while Nehemiah left the city for several years, beginning in 432 BC (Nehemiah 13:6).”

The book begins with an expression of God’s love for Israel. It’s clearly a corrective writing and warning motivated by love. Have you learned that hard truth that the Lord will correct us…because He loves us?

Some people struggle with the concept of God loving Jacob and hating Esau (Malachi 1:2-3), but this “hate” was an idiom of the day pointing out the chasm of difference between believers and non-believers. Jesus used the same expression teaching us that we are to “hate” everyone, even those closest to us.

Luke 14:26 (NKJV) “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

Of course this doesn’t mean we are to literally hate people…as a matter of fact we are commanded to love everyone, and by this all will know we’re Jesus’ disciples and are saved (John 13:35; 1 John 4:7-8).  So what is Jesus saying? That there is to be no rival throne in our hearts, we are to love the Lord more than anyone else. Malachi’s statement means there is no comparison between the grace a believer has, and the judgment a non-believer will experience. This is the difference (generally speaking) between Israel and Edom.

Having established the fact that Israel is God’s covenant people, Malachi goes on to severely rebuke them, especially the priests. They were viewing ministry as a burden – in despising the offerings of the LORD, they were despising the LORD Himself. The sacrifices the people were giving were the leftovers. The lame, the blind, the sick, the stolen would not be accepted by the Governor, how could they have have the audacity to offer them to God?

The responsibility of the priests was to honor the LORD among all people, but they doing the exact opposite, they were profaning His name. Not only in their sacrifices but in their vows as well.

Malachi 1:14 (NKJV) “But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and takes a vow, but sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished— for I am a great King,” says the LORD of hosts, “And My name is to be feared among the nations.”

It makes me examine my life. Am I giving to God the best of the best? The tithe from the top? Or am I giving God the leftovers? Is ministry wearisome to me, am I tired of it, or am I still in awe that I have been given this gracious opportunity to serve the Lord and his people?

In Malachi 2 he continues his heavy rebuke of the priests for various reasons all rooted in the fact that their heart was not right. They were not open to correction and would therefore forfeit their blessings and curse themselves. Tragically this would affect their children as well – the whole household was falling apart.

The priests had drifted from the law of the LORD and had no fear of God. They weren’t loving or living the truth so the people were not learning the truth from their lips.

Malachi 2:7–8 (NKJV) “For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8 But you have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the LORD of hosts.”

Rather than helping the people spiritually, these priests were hindering and harming them, even the ones we husbands are called to love the most – our wives. Malachi opens up this section with the fact that we are all made in the image of God and are therefore equal as men and women (Malachi 2:10), this includes husbands and wives – we should not deal treacherously with one another.

It’s heartbreaking to read the way the priests were either marrying non-believers or flippantly divorcing their wives. They were the epitome of hypocrisy weeping on the altar, asking God to receive their offerings and answer their prayers, when behind the scenes they were dealing treacherously with their wives. Make no mistake about it, God sees what’s going on behind the scenes and not just up there on the “stage.”

They had forgotten, or didn’t seem to care about the LORD’s holy institution of marriage (Malachi 2:11), how God loves marriage and hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). What damage it does to everyone involved – it’s spiritual violence!

May husbands and wives meditate on this section of Malachi. May we remember how it all started, how God saw it was not good to be alone so He gave us a companion for life; we entered into a covenant to love and to cherish one another and fulfill our roles and responsibilities of husband and wife. Yes, we know that marriage is hard, it’s a perpetual test of character, but we were made ONE…on that day. Jesus said;

Matthew 19:6 (NKJV) “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Our Father wants to bless families, He wants to bless husbands and wives, as well as their children. It’s a fundamental part of His plan to carry the gospel from generation to generation. We need to be warned and informed that our children may pay the ultimate price of eternity in hell, all because of a parent’s selfishness. Let’s heed the warning and work things out.

Malachi 2:15 (NLT) “Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.”

Revelation 21:1-27

God gives us a glimpse of the glory of heaven, which can ultimately be defined as the sphere of God’s unveiled existence. In “heaven” (which Paul refers to as the “third heaven” – 2 Corinthians 12:2) there will be a new first and second heaven and a new earth (the first and second heaven refer to this planet’s atmosphere and outer space). Some Christians believe that the current heaven and earth will be obliterated and replaced – but I tend to lean more towards God redeeming all creation as Paul wrote in Romans 8:20-22.

Just as our bodies will be resurrected so too will “heaven and earth.”

In Revelation 21:3 the voice is loud because God wants everyone to hear! 

In heaven, God will be with us, we will be with Him, we will see Him (Job 19:26; Matthew 5:8) and there will be no more painful tears, suffering or sorrow, no more death or decay, all that is sinful will pass away, God makes ALL things new. God Himself told John (and us) “Write for these words are true and faithful.” This is not just wishful thinking or a fleeting fantasy, this is reality, there is life after death.

All this is written not just as information, but as an invitation, Jesus Himself invites the weary worn out world, “If you’re thirsty, come to Me, I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to all who thirst.”

Have you responded to Jesus’ invitation?

It’s also clear that this book is written as a bold and blunt warning to those who resist God and insist on their sin, rooted in unbelief. All those who choose to refuse, “…shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

We then get this visual of the New Jerusalem. This is where God’s people live, in a space approximately 1,500 miles in length, in depth, and in height. If every level was a ½ a mile high, the total surface would be larger than the entire land mass of planet earth. We get a glimpse of some of the details, the jewels, the pearly gates, the names of the 12 tribes of Israel on each gate, the names of the 12 Apostles on the foundations of those gates, the walls of jasper, the city and streets are made of pure gold. There is no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. Imagine not needing the light of the sun or any other lamp because the glory of God illuminates everything, the Lamb is its light! As I read, I sense God’s full and unveiled presence everywhere in heaven.

We read that the nations of those who are saved shall walk in this light, they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it, which means that there is still this beautiful diversity in heaven. The different foods, cultural practices, skin colors and the like will be there in heaven. There are still many mysteries and things we don’t know or understand, there are many questions we have as Christians, but the most important part of it all is that we will be with God, and that’s the most important thing. Jesus said in: 

John 14:2-3 (NKJV) “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

“That’s all I want Lord, that where You are, there I may be also…and as we’re on our way, please Lord, help us to bring as many people with us as we can.”

Psalm 149:1-9

I wonder if we realize how powerful praise is? I wonder if we praise God the way we should?

We sing the oldies (they never get old) but we must always be looking for new songs as well, for God is always doing new things.

I love the enthusiasm of this Psalm. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker, the children of Zion (a picture of heaven) be joyful in their King. Dance, and sing praise with timbrel and harp, even the guitar!

We humble ourselves in acknowledging our constant need for God. What a “beautiful” passage:

Psalm 149:4 (NKJV) “For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.”

I thought it was interesting to read how the Psalmist even encourages Israel to sing aloud on their beds! Some say it points to praising God even when it’s “nighttime” (Job 35:10; Psalm 42:8). NET Notes said this, “Perhaps the point is that they should rejoice at all times, even when falling asleep or awaking.”

The Psalm closes with sounding victory over Israel’s enemies. For us, it’s not necessarily victory over nations, but it is victory over the fallen flesh, over the world system under Satan’s sway, and victory over the devil and his demons. Let’s be sure to swing our two-edged sword, the Word of God (Psalm 149:6; Hebrews 4:12).

Proverbs 31:10-24

Proverbs 31:10–24 (NKJV) “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands. 14 She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar. 15 She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants. 16 She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is good, And her lamp does not go out by night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hand holds the spindle. 20 She extends her hand to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, For all her household is clothed with scarlet. 22 She makes tapestry for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies sashes for the merchants.”

It’s fascinating how this final section of Proverbs is an acrostic poem portraying a virtuous wife. 

Each of the 22 verses begins with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

The Hebrew word translated “virtuous,” speaks of strength, might, and efficiency.  I found it fascinating that the word is most often translated “army” in the Bible.  When you find a woman like this, it’s as if you have an army on your side!

The same Hebrew word is translated “excellent” in Proverbs 12:4, where we read that, “an excellent wife is the crown of her husband.”

But…such women are very, very rare.  Hence the question, “who can find a virtuous wife?” If you do find such a wife, you will find that her worth is far above rubies.

V. 11-12

A virtuous wife is trustworthy, committed to her husband, he knows, he can count on her; he has confidence in her; not just that she won’t go out on him, but that she will fulfill her role as wife and mom, helper and homemaker (she builds her house) (I Timothy 5:14; Titus 2:5).

So, he will have no lack of gain…(she will greatly enrich his life – NLT). She does him good…all the days of her life. Keep in mind that “all the days of her life” is not just to the last day…but every day.

Here are some specifics/practical things about her (13-22, 24)

Key Words:

Clothing (13, 17, 19, 21-22)
For her family – she goes out looking for, gathering the material she needs, like wool and flax; she brings it home and makes clothes for her family.  Not just to cover them, but to keep them warm (blankets). Nowadays, it may not be making clothes (for some it’s that way) but it might be more along the lines of shopping, buying, washing, ironing, etc.

Clothing for others

Proverbs 31:19–20 (NLT) “Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. 20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.”

When I read of this heart she has, as well as the skill she’s cultivated, it brings to mind a woman in the NT by the name of Dorcas.  

Acts 9:36-39 (NKJV) “At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.”

Clothing for herself (17, 25a, 22)

She has strength and style, and that’s okay.

She’s definitely not wimpy: “She girds herself with strength.”  No doubt she strengthens herself in the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:6)

All women, wives and moms definitely need that strength.  Having to take care of us husbands in so many ways can be a full-time job in and of itself…but then when you add the kids in, from carrying the baby in your womb, to giving birth, the nursing, the nurturing, the lack of sleep at night, the lack of rest by the day, it just never ends.  Some of you moms who’ve raised, or are raising multiple children…our hats off to you, we’re so grateful to you!

Consumer (14)

Cook (14, 15)
(A great love language)

Capitalist (16, 18, 24)
She makes some money through her line of clothing, or on a property deal…which then is used to plant a vineyard…an awesome blessing for every family in those days.
This woman is able to contribute financially. She makes good material, and does so working late into the evening. She even sells to sellers!

Caring (15b, 20)
…there she is willingly working with her hands, stretching out her hands…even beyond her family…considerate of the needy and the poor.

The Bible dictionary defines wisdom as the “ability to discern and make right choices.” It’s more than knowledge…it includes knowledge, but it’s really the ability to take the knowledge of God, and His Word – and in this world, apply that knowledge…on the decisions we make, the words we speak, the thoughts we think, the passions we pursue.

It’s interesting…over the process of time within the dental world, they began to call those third molars that make their way into our mouths…wisdom teeth.  Their reasoning was the teeth begin to grow in the latter part of the teenage years…and the assumption of the day was…that’s when you become an adult, and with age comes wisdom.

But that’s not always the case. huh? Wisdom doesn’t come from within, or without…wisdom actually comes from above (James 3:17).  We can pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and more often than not, God will give us trials along with teachings, to make us wise guys and gals.

Praise God for this Virtuous Wife!

I want to know Christ more, and make Him known…