Ever been amazed? Ever been surprised?

Amazed - Surprised

Ever come back from something and been surprised at what you found? Ever had a conversation and been amazed at what was said? Ever been amazed to find out you can be a part? Ever been surprised to find out you were part of the plan from the beginning? Did you know that the ball is in your hands? Did you know that you are on the offense? Did you realize that with the victory that Jesus provided we can be on offense? Did you realize that you don’t have to worry or be afraid because Jesus has already won the victory and so we just need to do our part? Let’s share His grace with those who have been placed into our lives! Let’s share His love with those who He has placed in our lives! Let’s make a difference without a critical heart so that in and through us the glory of God can be shown to others that God brings into our lives!

Let’s consider what God’s Word starts with today…

27At that moment Jesus’ disciples returned, and they were greatly surprised to find him talking with a woman. But none of them said to her, “What do you want?” or asked him, “Why are you talking with her?” 28Then the woman left her water jar, went back to the town, and said to the people there, 29“Come and see the man who told me everything I have ever done. Could he be the Messiah?” 30So they left the town and went to Jesus.

31In the meantime the disciples were begging Jesus, “Teacher, have something to eat!” 32But he answered, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33So the disciples started asking among themselves, “Could somebody have brought him food?” 34“My food,” Jesus said to them, “is to obey the will of the one who sent me and to finish the work he gave me to do. 35You have a saying, ‘Four more months and then the harvest.’ But I tell you, take a good look at the fields; the crops are now ripe and ready to be harvested! 36The one who reaps the harvest is being paid and gathers the crops for eternal life; so the one who plants and the one who reaps will be glad together. 37For the saying is true, ‘Someone plants, someone else reaps.’ 38I have sent you to reap a harvest in a field where you did not work; others worked there, and you profit from their work.” 39Many of the Samaritans in that town believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I have ever done.”

40So when the Samaritans came to him, they begged him to stay with them, and Jesus stayed there two days. 41Many more believed because of his message, 42and they told the woman, “We believe now, not because of what you said, but because we ourselves have heard him, and we know that he really is the Savior of the world.”

–from John 4

Do you believe? What did it take for you to believe? What would it take for you to believe? Imagine the change, the transformation, the difference it would make in how you live and love and shine into this world you live in. We have been chosen according to God’s purpose! We have been set apart to be different by God’s Holy Spirit! So let’s live under the covering of the blood of Jesus in alignment and obedience to His plan and purpose for each of our lives! In this way we can be ambassadors of peace and grace to the world around us! Let’s shine for Him! Let’s make a difference for Him! Let’s allow our faith to be proven and shared so that others may be able to share in the promises of God!

1From Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ—To God’s chosen people who live as refugees scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. 2You were chosen according to the purpose of God the Father and were made a holy people by his Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be purified by his blood. May grace and peace be yours in full measure.

A Living Hope

3Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Because of his great mercy he gave us new life by raising Jesus Christ from death. This fills us with a living hope, 4and so we look forward to possessing the rich blessings that God keeps for his people. He keeps them for you in heaven, where they cannot decay or spoil or fade away. 5They are for you, who through faith are kept safe by God’s power for the salvation which is ready to be revealed at the end of time. 6Be glad about this, even though it may now be necessary for you to be sad for a while because of the many kinds of trials you suffer. 7Their purpose is to prove that your faith is genuine. Even gold, which can be destroyed, is tested by fire; and so your faith, which is much more precious than gold, must also be tested, so that it may endure. Then you will receive praise and glory and honor on the Day when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8You love him, although you have not seen him, and you believe in him, although you do not now see him. So you rejoice with a great and glorious joy which words cannot express, 9because you are receiving the salvation of your souls, which is the purpose of your faith in him.

–from 1 Peter 1

Let’s be wise in what we do. Let’s not cause our words, our actions, or our attitude keep people from the reality of God! Let’s live a life that is consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ! Life isn’t performance based, for we are saved by grace through faith so that nobody can boast! Life isn’t about what we can do, but about what Jesus has already done for us! It’s about a living relationship with Jesus! It’s about spending time with Jesus and allowing Him to speak the truth, the hope, the love, and the life He desires for us! It’s not Jesus+ it’s just Jesus. Consider what today’s reading from the old testament says…

1Dead flies can make a whole bottle of perfume stink, and a little stupidity can cancel out the greatest wisdom. 2It is natural for the wise to do the right thing and for fools to do the wrong thing. 3Their stupidity will be evident even to strangers they meet along the way; they let everyone know that they are fools. 4If your ruler becomes angry with you, do not hand in your resignation; serious wrongs may be pardoned if you keep calm. 5Here is an injustice I have seen in the world—an injustice caused by rulers. 6Stupid people are given positions of authority while the rich are ignored. 7I have seen slaves on horseback while noblemen go on foot like slaves. 8If you dig a pit, you fall in it; if you break through a wall, a snake bites you. 9If you work in a stone quarry, you get hurt by stones. If you split wood, you get hurt doing it. 10If your ax is dull and you don’t sharpen it, you have to work harder to use it. It is smarter to plan ahead. 11Knowing how to charm a snake is of no use if you let the snake bite first. 12What the wise say brings them honor, but fools are destroyed by their own words. 13They start out with silly talk and end up with pure madness. 14A fool talks on and on. No one knows what is going to happen next, and no one can tell us what will happen after we die. 15Only someone too stupid to find his way home would wear himself out with work. 16A country is in trouble when its king is a youth and its leaders feast all night long. 17But a country is fortunate to have a king who makes his own decisions and leaders who eat at the proper time, who control themselves and don’t get drunk. 18When you are too lazy to repair your roof, it will leak, and the house will fall in. 19Feasting makes you happy and wine cheers you up, but you can’t have either without money. 20Don’t criticize the king, even silently, and don’t criticize the rich, even in the privacy of your bedroom. A bird might carry the message and tell them what you said.

–from Ecclesiastes 10

Things looking bad? You trying to find a source of hope?

In the potter's hands

Today’s post starts with a scene of devastation, a scene of pain and suffering, a scene that needs a source of hope. Where are you at today? What are you in need of? Where does your help come from? Where does your hope come from? When will you get a break? Where can you find something to believe in? Jesus is where you need to turn! Jesus is in whom to put your trust! Put your trust in God! It’s through Jesus we are saved! It’s through Jesus we are redeemed! We are saved by grace through faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord! Where are you turning for truth? Turn to God’s Word! Find a place, a gathering of people who believe what God says and in His Word! We weren’t meant to do this thing alone! That’s why God mentions “one another” so many times! Turn to God! He is the source of LOVE and GRACE! He is the one who made a way when we couldn’t find a way! God is Love! It’s so important that when we realize that we did walk away that we turn back to God and ask Him for forgiveness! Forgiveness is the key to true freedom!

The Terrible Drought

1The Lord said to me concerning the drought, 2“Judah is in mourning; its cities are dying, its people lie on the ground in sorrow, and Jerusalem cries out for help. 3The rich people send their servants for water; they go to the cisterns, but find no water; they come back with their jars empty. Discouraged and confused, they hide their faces. 4Because there is no rain and the ground is dried up, the farmers are sick at heart; they hide their faces. 5In the field the mother deer abandons her newborn fawn because there is no grass. 6The wild donkeys stand on the hilltops and pant for breath like jackals; their eyesight fails them because they have no food.
7My people cry out to me, ‘Even though our sins accuse us, help us, Lord, as you have promised. We have turned away from you many times; we have sinned against you. 8You are Israel’s only hope; you are the one who saves us from disaster. Why are you like a stranger in our land, like a traveler who stays for only one night?
9Why are you like someone taken by surprise, like a soldier powerless to help? Surely, Lord, you are with us! We are your people; do not abandon us.’”
10The Lord says about these people, “They love to run away from me, and they will not control themselves. So I am not pleased with them. I will remember the wrongs they have done and punish them because of their sins.”
11The Lord said to me, “Do not ask me to help these people. 12Even if they fast, I will not listen to their cry for help; and even if they offer me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not be pleased with them. Instead, I will kill them in war and by starvation and disease.”
13Then I said, “Sovereign Lord, you know that the prophets are telling the people that there will be no war or starvation, because you have promised, they say, that there will be only peace in our land.”
14But the Lord replied, “The prophets are telling lies in my name; I did not send them, nor did I give them any orders or speak one word to them. The visions they talk about have not come from me; their predictions are worthless things that they have imagined. 15I, the Lord, tell you what I am going to do to those prophets whom I did not send but who speak in my name and say war and starvation will not strike this land—I will kill them in war and by starvation. 16The people to whom they have said these things will be killed in the same way. Their bodies will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, and there will be no one to bury them. This will happen to all of them—including their wives, their sons, and their daughters. I will make them pay for their wickedness.”
17The Lord commanded me to tell the people about my sorrow and to say: “May my eyes flow with tears day and night, may I never stop weeping, for my people are deeply wounded and are badly hurt. 18When I go out in the fields, I see the bodies of men killed in war; when I go into the towns, I see people starving to death. Prophets and priests carry on their work, but they don’t know what they are doing.”

The People Plead with the Lord

19Lord, have you completely rejected Judah? Do you hate the people of Zion? Why have you hurt us so badly that we cannot be healed? We looked for peace, but nothing good happened; we hoped for healing, but terror came instead. 20We have sinned against you, Lord; we confess our own sins and the sins of our ancestors. 21Remember your promises and do not despise us; do not bring disgrace on Jerusalem, the place of your glorious throne. Do not break the covenant you made with us. 22None of the idols of the nations can send rain; the sky by itself cannot make showers fall. We have put our hope in you, O Lord our God, because you are the one who does these things.

–from Jeremiah 14

Do you have an intercessor who will plead your case to God? Do you have someone who will get in the middle, stand in the gap, and argue your case? Do you have a way to make things right? If not on your own, you will need an intercessor! Do you realize that there is a cost for what we have done wrong? Do you realize the cost is high? Jesus made a way when there didn’t seem to be a way! He came and gave His life so that you and me could be reconciled back to God! He didn’t go about it causally, but very painfully so that it would be once for all! He gave His life on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice, making a way to reconcile us back to God the Father! Would you rather have to deal with a just punishment for what you have done? What if there is a way for another alternative? Jesus is the key! Jesus is the answer, once and for all!

Doom for the People of Judah

1Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel were standing here pleading with me, I would not show these people any mercy. Make them go away; make them get out of my sight. 2When they ask you where they should go, tell them that I have said: Some are doomed to die by disease—that’s where they will go! Others are doomed to die in war—that’s where they will go! Some are doomed to die of starvation—that’s where they will go! Others are doomed to be taken away as prisoners—that’s where they will go!
3I, the Lord, have decided that four terrible things will happen to them: they will be killed in war; their bodies will be dragged off by dogs; birds will eat them, and wild animals will devour what is left over. 4I will make all the people of the world horrified at them because of what Hezekiah’s son Manasseh did in Jerusalem when he was king of Judah.”
5The Lord says, “Who will pity you, people of Jerusalem, and who will grieve over you? Who will stop long enough to ask how you are? 6You people have rejected me; you have turned your backs on me. So I reached out and crushed you because I was tired of controlling my anger. 7In every town in the land I threw you to the wind like straw. I destroyed you, my people, I killed your children because you did not stop your evil ways. 8There are more widows in your land than grains of sand by the sea. I killed your young men in their prime and made their mothers suffer. I suddenly struck them with anguish and terror. 9The mother who lost her seven children has fainted, gasping for breath. Her daylight has turned to darkness; she is disgraced and sick at heart. I will let your enemies kill those of you who are still alive. I, the Lord, have spoken.”

Jeremiah Complains to the Lord

10What an unhappy man I am! Why did my mother bring me into the world? I have to quarrel and argue with everyone in the land. I have not lent any money or borrowed any; yet everyone curses me. 11Lord, may all their curses come true if I have not served you well, if I have not pleaded with you on behalf of my enemies when they were in trouble and distress. ( 12No one can break iron, especially the iron from the north that is mixed with bronze.)
13The Lord said to me, “I will send enemies to carry away the wealth and treasures of my people, in order to punish them for the sins they have committed throughout the land. 14I will make them serve their enemies in a land they know nothing about, because my anger is like fire, and it will burn forever.”
15Then I said, “Lord, you understand. Remember me and help me. Let me have revenge on those who persecute me. Do not be so patient with them that they succeed in killing me. Remember that it is for your sake that I am insulted. 16You spoke to me, and I listened to every word. I belong to you, Lord God Almighty, and so your words filled my heart with joy and happiness. 17I did not spend my time with other people, laughing and having a good time. In obedience to your orders I stayed by myself and was filled with anger. 18Why do I keep on suffering? Why are my wounds incurable? Why won’t they heal? Do you intend to disappoint me like a stream that goes dry in the summer?”
19To this the Lord replied, “If you return, I will take you back, and you will be my servant again. If instead of talking nonsense you proclaim a worthwhile message, you will be my prophet again. The people will come back to you, and you will not need to go to them. 20I will make you like a solid bronze wall as far as they are concerned. They will fight against you, but they will not defeat you. I will be with you to protect you and keep you safe. 21I will rescue you from the power of wicked and violent people. I, the Lord, have spoken.”

–from Jeremiah 15

God’s plan is for redemption! It’s to give us a hope and future! Will we allow it or will we cause the journey to be more difficult than it has to be? Let’s check out what happened in the past and see if we can try to learn from it and move forward into the future!

The Lord’s Will for Jeremiah’s Life

1Again the Lord spoke to me and said, 2“Do not marry or have children in a place like this. 3I will tell you what is going to happen to the children who are born here and to their parents. 4They will die of terrible diseases, and no one will mourn for them or bury them. Their bodies will lie like piles of manure on the ground. They will be killed in war or die of starvation, and their bodies will be food for the birds and the wild animals.

5“You must not enter a house where there is mourning. Do not grieve for anyone. I will no longer bless my people with peace or show them love and mercy. 6The rich and the poor will die in this land, but no one will bury them or mourn for them. Not one of you will gash yourself or shave your head to show your grief. 7No one will eat or drink with anyone to offer comfort when a loved one dies. No one will show sympathy, not even for someone who has lost a father or mother.

8“Do not enter a house where people are feasting. Do not sit down with them to eat and drink. 9Listen to what I, the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, have to say. I will silence the sounds of joy and gladness and the happy sounds of wedding feasts. The people here will live to see this happen.
10“When you tell them all this, they will ask you why I have decided to punish them so harshly. They will ask what crime they are guilty of and what sin they have committed against the Lord their God. 11Then tell them that the Lord has said, ‘Your ancestors turned away from me and worshiped and served other gods. They abandoned me and did not obey my teachings. 12But you have done even worse than your ancestors. All of you are stubborn and evil, and you do not obey me. 13So then, I will throw you out of this land into a land that neither you nor your ancestors have ever known. And there you will serve other gods day and night, and I will show you no mercy.’”

The Return from Exile

14The Lord says, “The time is coming when people will no longer swear by me as the living God who brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt. 15Instead, they will swear by me as the living God who brought the people of Israel out of a northern land and out of all the other countries where I had scattered them. I will bring them back to their own country, to the land that I gave their ancestors. I, the Lord, have spoken.”

The Coming Punishment

16The Lord says, “I am sending for many fishermen to come and catch these people. Then I will send for many hunters to hunt them down on every mountain and hill and in the caves among the rocks. 17I see everything they do. Nothing is hidden from me; their sins do not escape my sight. 18I will make them pay double for their sin and wickedness, because they have defiled my land with idols that are as lifeless as corpses, and have filled it with their false gods.”

Jeremiah’s Prayer of Confidence in the Lord

19Lord, you are the one who protects me and gives me strength; you help me in times of trouble. Nations will come to you from the ends of the earth and say, “Our ancestors had nothing but false gods, nothing but useless idols. 20Can people make their own gods? No, if they did, those would not really be gods.”
21“So then,” says the Lord, “once and for all I will make the nations know my power and my might; they will know that I am the Lord.”

–from Jeremiah 16

The Sin and Punishment of Judah

1The Lord says, “People of Judah, your sin is written with an iron pen; it is engraved on your hearts with a diamond point and carved on the corners of your altars. 2Your people worship at the altars and the symbols that have been set up for the goddess Asherah by every green tree and on the hilltops 3and on the mountains in the open country. I will have your enemies take away your wealth and your treasures because of all the sins you have committed throughout your land. 4You will have to give up the land I gave you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land you know nothing about, because my anger is like a fire, and it will burn forever.”

Various Sayings

5The Lord says, “I will condemn those who turn away from me and put their trust in human beings, in the strength of mortals. 6He is like a bush in the desert, which grows in the dry wasteland, on salty ground where nothing else grows. Nothing good ever happens to him. 7“But I will bless the person who puts his trust in me. 8He is like a tree growing near a stream and sending out roots to the water. It is not afraid when hot weather comes, because its leaves stay green; it has no worries when there is no rain; it keeps on bearing fruit. 9“Who can understand the human heart? There is nothing else so deceitful; it is too sick to be healed. 10I, the Lord, search the minds and test the hearts of people. I treat each of them according to the way they live, according to what they do.” 11The person who gets money dishonestly is like a bird that hatches eggs it didn’t lay. In the prime of life he will lose his riches, and in the end he is nothing but a fool. 12Our Temple is like a glorious throne, standing on a high mountain from the beginning. 13Lord, you are Israel’s hope; all who abandon you will be put to shame. They will disappear like names written in the dust, because they have abandoned you, the Lord, the spring of fresh water.

Jeremiah Asks the Lord for Help

14Lord, heal me and I will be completely well; rescue me and I will be perfectly safe. You are the one I praise! 15The people say to me, “Where are those threats the Lord made against us? Let him carry them out now!” 16But, Lord, I never urged you to bring disaster on them; I did not wish a time of trouble for them. Lord, you know this; you know what I have said. 17Do not be a terror to me; you are my place of safety when trouble comes. 18Bring disgrace on those who persecute me, but spare me, Lord. Fill them with terror, but do not terrify me. Bring disaster on them and break them to pieces.

On Observing the Sabbath

19The Lord said to me, “Jeremiah, go and announce my message at the People’s Gate, through which the kings of Judah enter and leave the city; then go to all the other gates of Jerusalem. 20Tell the kings and all the people of Judah and everyone who lives in Jerusalem and enters these gates, to listen to what I say. 21Tell them that if they love their lives, they must not carry any load on the Sabbath; they must not carry anything in through the gates of Jerusalem 22or carry anything out of their houses on the Sabbath. They must not work on the Sabbath; they must observe it as a sacred day, as I commanded their ancestors. 23Their ancestors did not listen to me or pay any attention. Instead, they became stubborn; they would not obey me or learn from me.
24“Tell these people that they must obey all my commands. They must not carry any load in through the gates of this city on the Sabbath. They must observe the Sabbath as a sacred day and must not do any work at all. 25Then their kings and princes will enter the gates of Jerusalem and have the same royal power that David had. Together with the people of Judah and of Jerusalem, they will ride in chariots and on horses, and the city of Jerusalem will always be filled with people. 26People will come from the towns of Judah and from the villages around Jerusalem; they will come from the territory of Benjamin, from the foothills, from the mountains, and from southern Judah. They will bring to my Temple burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, as well as thank offerings. 27But they must obey me and observe the Sabbath as a sacred day. They must not carry any load through the gates of Jerusalem on that day, for if they do, I will set the gates of Jerusalem on fire. Fire will burn down the palaces of Jerusalem, and no one will be able to put it out.”

–from Jeremiah 17

We are but clay in the potter’s hands. Let’s become vessels He can use to carry His message! Let’s become vessels that are clean on the inside because of the grace and love of God and through the incredible sacrifice of Jesus! Don’t reject God! Receive His grace and mercy and love! And be transformed through an incredible relationship with Jesus!

Jeremiah at the Potter’s House

1The Lord said to me, 2“Go down to the potter’s house, where I will give you my message.” 3So I went there and saw the potter working at his wheel. 4Whenever a piece of pottery turned out imperfect, he would take the clay and make it into something else. 5Then the Lord said to me, 6“Don’t I have the right to do with you people of Israel what the potter did with the clay? You are in my hands just like clay in the potter’s hands. 7If at any time I say that I am going to uproot, break down, or destroy any nation or kingdom, 8but then that nation turns from its evil, I will not do what I said I would. 9On the other hand, if I say that I am going to plant or build up any nation or kingdom, 10but then that nation disobeys me and does evil, I will not do what I said I would. 11Now then, tell the people of Judah and of Jerusalem that I am making plans against them and getting ready to punish them. Tell them to stop living sinful lives—to change their ways and the things they are doing. 12They will answer, ‘No, why should we? We will all be just as stubborn and evil as we want to be.’”

The People Reject the Lord

13The Lord says, “Ask every nation if such a thing has ever happened before. The people of Israel have done a terrible thing! 14Are Lebanon’s rocky heights ever without snow? Do its cool mountain streams ever run dry? 15Yet my people have forgotten me; they burn incense to idols. They have stumbled in the way they should go; they no longer follow the old ways; they walk on unmarked paths. 16They have made this land a thing of horror, to be despised forever. All who pass by will be shocked at what they see; they will shake their heads in amazement. 17I will scatter my people before their enemies, like dust blown by the east wind. I will turn my back on them; I will not help them when the disaster comes.”

A Plot against Jeremiah

18Then the people said, “Let’s do something about Jeremiah! There will always be priests to instruct us, the wise to give us counsel, and prophets to proclaim God’s message. Let’s bring charges against him and stop listening to what he says.” 19So I prayed, “Lord, hear what I am saying and listen to what my enemies are saying about me. 20Is evil the payment for good? Yet they have dug a pit for me to fall in. Remember how I came to you and spoke on their behalf, so that you would not deal with them in anger. 21But now, Lord, let their children starve to death; let them be killed in war. Let the women lose their husbands and children; let the men die of disease and the young men be killed in battle. 22Send a mob to plunder their homes without warning; make them cry out in terror. They have dug a pit for me to fall in and have set traps to catch me. 23But, Lord, you know all their plots to kill me. Do not forgive their evil or pardon their sin. Throw them down in defeat and deal with them while you are angry.”

–from Jeremiah 18

Feeling like you are missing something and need to fill that emptiness? Missing that one piece?

Hole in heart that only Jesus can fill.jpg

Ever been in a situation where you feel there is an emptiness? Ever tried to fill it with stuff? go on a buying spree to see if stuff will fill that hole? Ever tried to fill it with love? trying to get relationships with others to fill that hole? Ever tried to fill it with other stuff? some try alcohol or drugs or other things that self inflict injuries or pain on yourself? Do you know that there is something that can fill that hole? Do you know that it’s a relationship with God?

Today’s reading speaks to this through a conversation with Jesus…

15“Sir,” the woman said, “give me that water! Then I will never be thirsty again, nor will I have to come here to draw water.”
16“Go and call your husband,” Jesus told her, “and come back.”
17“I don’t have a husband,” she answered. Jesus replied, “You are right when you say you don’t have a husband. 18You have been married to five men, and the man you live with now is not really your husband. You have told me the truth.”
19“I see you are a prophet, sir,” the woman said. 20“My Samaritan ancestors worshiped God on this mountain, but you Jews say that Jerusalem is the place where we should worship God.”
21Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the time will come when people will not worship the Father either on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22You Samaritans do not really know whom you worship; but we Jews know whom we worship, because it is from the Jews that salvation comes. 23But the time is coming and is already here, when by the power of God’s Spirit people will worship the Father as he really is, offering him the true worship that he wants. 24God is Spirit, and only by the power of his Spirit can people worship him as he really is.”
25The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah will come, and when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
26Jesus answered, “I am he, I who am talking with you.” –from John 4

If we try to fill it on our own, we will feel empty soon after. If we try to fill it with the wrong things, they won’t fill that hole in our hearts. It takes Jesus to fill that hole and start a new life in us. With Him all things are possible. You feeling like you are in trouble? That you are in need of something?

13Are any among you in trouble? They should pray. Are any among you happy? They should sing praises. 14Are any among you sick? They should send for the church elders, who will pray for them and rub olive oil on them in the name of the Lord. 15This prayer made in faith will heal the sick; the Lord will restore them to health, and the sins they have committed will be forgiven. 16So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect. 17Elijah was the same kind of person as we are. He prayed earnestly that there would be no rain, and no rain fell on the land for three and a half years. 18Once again he prayed, and the sky poured out its rain and the earth produced its crops. 19My friends, if any of you wander away from the truth and another one brings you back again, 20remember this: whoever turns a sinner back from the wrong way will save that sinner’s soul from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins. –from James 5

So we need to be concerned with more than just ourselves, but also with those around us that God has brought into our lives so that we can point them to Him! Let’s shine the light of Jesus into the world so that through love and grace others may come to know the saving grace of God in their lives! All of us have missed the mark! So all of us need Jesus! With Jesus all things are possible! Without Jesus, life can seem hopeless!

1I thought long and hard about all this and saw that God controls the actions of wise and righteous people, even their love and their hate. No one knows anything about what lies ahead. 2It makes no difference. The same fate comes to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the bad, to those who are religious and those who are not, to those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. A good person is no better off than a sinner; one who takes an oath is no better off than one who does not. 3One fate comes to all alike, and this is as wrong as anything that happens in this world. As long as people live, their minds are full of evil and madness, and suddenly they die. 4But anyone who is alive in the world of the living has some hope; a live dog is better off than a dead lion. 5Yes, the living know they are going to die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward; they are completely forgotten. 6Their loves, their hates, their passions, all died with them. They will never again take part in anything that happens in this world. 7Go ahead—eat your food and be happy; drink your wine and be cheerful. It’s all right with God. 8Always look happy and cheerful. 9Enjoy life with the one you love, as long as you live the useless life that God has given you in this world. Enjoy every useless day of it, because that is all you will get for all your trouble. 10Work hard at whatever you do, because there will be no action, no thought, no knowledge, no wisdom in the world of the dead—and that is where you are going. 11I realized another thing, that in this world fast runners do not always win the races, and the brave do not always win the battles. The wise do not always earn a living, intelligent people do not always get rich, and capable people do not always rise to high positions. Bad luck happens to everyone. 12You never know when your time is coming. Like birds suddenly caught in a trap, like fish caught in a net, we are trapped at some evil moment when we least expect it.

Thoughts on Wisdom and Foolishness

13There is something else I saw, a good example of how wisdom is regarded in this world. 14There was a little town without many people in it. A powerful king attacked it. He surrounded it and prepared to break through the walls. 15Someone lived there who was poor, but so clever that he could have saved the town. But no one thought about him. 16I have always said that wisdom is better than strength, but no one thinks of the poor as wise or pays any attention to what they say. 17It is better to listen to the quiet words of someone wise than to the shouts of a ruler at a council of fools. 18Wisdom does more good than weapons, but one sinner can undo a lot of good.

–from Ecclesiastes 9

Do you live with the love and grace to make a difference?

Love and Grace

What if society says you aren’t to talk to these kinds of people or those kinds of people? What if society says you aren’t supposed to be near or hangout with these kinds of people or those kinds of people? What if society says you shouldn’t be seen with them? What if God says you are supposed to? What if God says you are supposed to love everyone(John 13:34, 1 Peter 4:3, John 13:34)? What if God says you are to love sincerely(Romans 12:9)? What if everyone meant even those who hate you(Matthew 5:44)? What will you live? Is the peer pressure of the world enough to keep you from being what God wants you to be? Is the peer pressure of the world enough to make you live a life apart from what God desires for you to be and do? Or will you live a life that is in alignment with God’s purpose, God’s plan, God’s desire and God’s Word?

Let’s take a look at Jesus who based on the times should have stayed away from people who were “unclean” but what did He do? He reached out and touched the lepers and rather than the uncleanness entering it, He allow his “cleanness” to transform them and heal them. He reached out to a dead body and rather than the uncleanness entering it, He allow his “cleanness” to transform them and resurrect them. He even hung out with and talked to people like tax collector and sinners because He was sent to find the lost and heal the sick. His purpose was God’s purpose! We even see in Acts 10-11 where Peter gets the memo that allowed the Christians to preach the good news to non-Jews.

Today’s reading starts with just such a story, so let’s take a read…

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman

1The Pharisees heard that Jesus was winning and baptizing more disciples than John. ( 2Actually, Jesus himself did not baptize anyone; only his disciples did.) 3So when Jesus heard what was being said, he left Judea and went back to Galilee; 4on his way there he had to go through Samaria.
5In Samaria he came to a town named Sychar, which was not far from the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by the trip, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7A Samaritan woman came to draw some water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink of water.” ( 8His disciples had gone into town to buy food.)
9The woman answered, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan—so how can you ask me for a drink?” (Jews will not use the same cups and bowls that Samaritans use.)
10Jesus answered, “If you only knew what God gives and who it is that is asking you for a drink, you would ask him, and he would give you life-giving water.”
11“Sir,” the woman said, “you don’t have a bucket, and the well is deep. Where would you get that life-giving water? 12It was our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well; he and his children and his flocks all drank from it. You don’t claim to be greater than Jacob, do you?”
13Jesus answered, “Those who drink this water will get thirsty again, 14but those who drink the water that I will give them will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give them will become in them a spring which will provide them with life-giving water and give them eternal life.”

–from John 4

John 4 continues the conversation, but that is another day. Jesus is already speaking of the truth of God to her. He is sharing the truth of the gospel to eternal life. Just because society says you shouldn’t, if God tells you that you should, you should. It is the grace and the love of God that changes hearts. It is the grace and the love of God that meets people right where they are at and helps them heart God’s love and word be spoken over them and into their lives! People will put up walls and barriers (check out verse 9 above) even though the purpose is to share the hope and love of God with them. But we aren’t supposed to lose hope or lose faith, but we are supposed to trust God and allow His love and power to flow into and through us into the world around us.

God’s plans and purpose for our lives is good.. Today’s reading speaks to the fact that we need to be patient. To be in communication with God (aka prayer). Let’s not be complainers nor whiners! Let’s be people filled with the Holy Spirit who are sharing the love, the joy, and the grace of God with all those He brings into our lives!

Patience and Prayer

7Be patient, then, my friends, until the Lord comes. See how patient farmers are as they wait for their land to produce precious crops. They wait patiently for the autumn and spring rains. 8You also must be patient. Keep your hopes high, for the day of the Lord’s coming is near.
9Do not complain against one another, my friends, so that God will not judge you. The Judge is near, ready to appear. 10My friends, remember the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Take them as examples of patient endurance under suffering. 11We call them happy because they endured. You have heard of Job’s patience, and you know how the Lord provided for him in the end. For the Lord is full of mercy and compassion.
12Above all, my friends, do not use an oath when you make a promise. Do not swear by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Say only “Yes” when you mean yes, and “No” when you mean no, and then you will not come under God’s judgment. –from James 5

Don’t lose hope, but rather keep your hopes high! Be patient with one another too so as not to complain. As Jesus spoke that in this world we will have troubles, but take hope for He has overcome the world. And we also read how we should consider it pure joy when we face troubles because it works in us and through us so that in the end we will be complete and lacking nothing! God’s plan and purpose is for our good. His desire is to give us a hope and a future! He is able to take what the devil planned for evil and turn it around and use it for good.

God will give you the wisdom and the discernment you need. Will you humble yourself and pray and ask Him for them?  Will you be willing to seek it with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength? If we ask, He will answer. If we seek, we will find. If we knock, it will be opened to us!

1Only the wise know what things really mean. Wisdom makes them smile and makes their frowns disappear.

Obey the King

2Do what the king says, and don’t make any rash promises to God. 3The king can do anything he likes, so depart from his presence; don’t stay in such a dangerous place. 4The king acts with authority, and no one can challenge what he does. 5As long as you obey his commands, you are safe, and a wise person knows how and when to do it. 6There is a right time and a right way to do everything, but we know so little! 7None of us knows what is going to happen, and there is no one to tell us. 8No one can keep from dying or put off the day of death. That is a battle we cannot escape; we cannot cheat our way out.

The Wicked and the Righteous

9I saw all this when I thought about the things that are done in this world, a world where some people have power and others have to suffer under them. 10Yes, I have seen the wicked buried and in their graves, but on the way back from the cemetery people praise them in the very city where they did their evil. It is useless. 11Why do people commit crimes so readily? Because crime is not punished quickly enough. 12A sinner may commit a hundred crimes and still live. Oh yes, I know what they say: “If you obey God, everything will be all right, 13but it will not go well for the wicked. Their life is like a shadow and they will die young, because they do not obey God.” 14But this is nonsense. Look at what happens in the world: sometimes the righteous get the punishment of the wicked, and the wicked get the reward of the righteous. I say it is useless. 15So I am convinced that we should enjoy ourselves, because the only pleasure we have in this life is eating and drinking and enjoying ourselves. We can at least do this as we labor during the life that God has given us in this world. 16Whenever I tried to become wise and learn what goes on in the world, I realized that you could stay awake night and day 17and never be able to understand what God is doing. However hard you try, you will never find out. The wise may claim to know, but they don’t.

–from Ecclesiastes 8

Don’t allow pride to get in the way of the purpose and plan!

Pride comes before the fall

Someone else is doing it? Does it help the cause? If it doesn’t don’t worry about it! Are you supposed to become less and allow them to become more? Do you understand your roles and responsibilities around this? Don’t be boastful! Don’t be prideful! Be a humble servant and allow God’s purpose and God’s plan to be worked in and through your life!

Today’s reading continues in John 3…

Jesus and John

22After this, Jesus and his disciples went to the province of Judea, where he spent some time with them and baptized. 23John also was baptizing in Aenon, not far from Salim, because there was plenty of water in that place. People were going to him, and he was baptizing them. (24This was before John had been put in prison.) 25Some of John’s disciples began arguing with a Jew about the matter of ritual washing. 26So they went to John and told him, “Teacher, you remember the man who was with you on the east side of the Jordan, the one you spoke about? Well, he is baptizing now, and everyone is going to him!” 27John answered, “No one can have anything unless God gives it. 28You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ 29The bridegroom is the one to whom the bride belongs; but the bridegroom’s friend, who stands by and listens, is glad when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. This is how my own happiness is made complete. 30He must become more important while I become less important.” –from John 3

God has a plan and purpose for each of us. God’s plan is good so we can have and live a life that gives us a hope and a future! Let’s live life so that we are complete, lacking nothing. Yes we will face challenges, but it’s a process that will allow us to become complete lacking nothing!

What is it that you are chasing after? What is it that you worship? Is it money? Money isn’t evil, but the love of money is the root of all evil! Consider the desires of your heart for that is where the overflow comes from and will be spoken and acted out. It’s important to get your priorities set straight! Put first things first! We read in Matthew how we are to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything else will be taken care of!

Today’s reading continues into James with a message to the rich…

Warning to the Rich

1And now, you rich people, listen to me! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming upon you! 2Your riches have rotted away, and your clothes have been eaten by moths. 3Your gold and silver are covered with rust, and this rust will be a witness against you and will eat up your flesh like fire. You have piled up riches in these last days. 4You have not paid any wages to those who work in your fields. Listen to their complaints! The cries of those who gather in your crops have reached the ears of God, the Lord Almighty. 5Your life here on earth has been full of luxury and pleasure. You have made yourselves fat for the day of slaughter. 6You have condemned and murdered innocent people, and they do not resist you. –from James 5

So where are you at today? What are you chasing after? What is it going TO TAKE BEFORE YOU MAKE A CHANGE? Have you started the pursuit and the transformation? Will you look to God and allow Him to help lead and guide you before it is too late? What may seem impossible to men is possible with God! There is a scripture that speaks to how hard it is for a rich man to get through the eye of a needle, but Jesus is clear, nothing is impossible for God!

Impossible is just an excuse not to try!

All of us have made mistakes! That is why we al need Jesus! He is the only way for us to be made right with God! We see as we continue today’s reading the wisdom spoken and the importance of godly wisdom for our lives…

15My life has been useless, but in it I have seen everything. Some good people may die while others live on, even though they are evil. 16So don’t be too good or too wise—why kill yourself 17But don’t be too wicked or too foolish, either—why die before you have to? 18Avoid both extremes. If you have reverence for God, you will be successful anyway.
19Wisdom does more for a person than ten rulers can do for a city.
20There is no one on earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake.
21Don’t pay attention to everything people say—you may hear your servant insulting you, 22and you know yourself that you have insulted other people many times.
23I used my wisdom to test all of this. I was determined to be wise, but it was beyond me. 24How can anyone discover what life means? It is too deep for us, too hard to understand. 25But I devoted myself to knowledge and study; I was determined to find wisdom and the answers to my questions, and to learn how wicked and foolish stupidity is.
26I found something more bitter than death—the woman who is like a trap. The love she offers you will catch you like a net, and her arms around you will hold you like a chain. A man who pleases God can get away, but she will catch the sinner. 27Yes, said the Philosopher, I found this out little by little while I was looking for answers. 28I have looked for other answers but have found none. I found one man in a thousand that I could respect, but not one woman. 29This is all that I have learned: God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated.

–from Ecclesiastes 7