The pendulum…

In your life have you ever experienced the pendulum decisions? Where it goes from one extreme to the other? Some examples I have lived through include centralize vs decentralize, work together vs focus on your own area, and through it all, I always had an opinion and tried to keep my view alive as the pendulum swung away. I found that the leadership changes seemed to influence the swing. If they felt the company should work together towards a goal and be doing things in a similar way it would go one way. If they felt their organization was needing to do something “special” then it would swing the other way. I remember one time when everyone was going against what I felt was the right way because I still was connected and knew of plans taking place around the company but they weren’t interested and were more focused on we need to get our stuff done instead and so the swing away went. I seem to see similar things taking place in my readings from the Old Testament too, so it’s not something new, but it appears human nature that we either forget, don’t know the past, and then go it our own way instead. As I do each Sunday since this year’s readings don’t have anything on Sundays, I leave a few of the Old Testament readings to go through today. Today we will continue to look in the book of Judges.

Today’s readings come from Judges 10-15…

  • People in trouble need a savior
  • People get comfortable and forget that God sent the savior and walk away
  • There are many things of the world and in the world that try to distract us from God and if we don’t remember or have never been taught about the truth, people walk away and get into trouble.
  • We need to remember and we need to create a legacy by teaching our children to follow after God and to worship Him.
  • When they don’t they are off in the weeds and in their own ways as the pendulum swings and they find themselves far from God and getting into trouble being out from His covering (Judges 10:6-9)
  • God is gracious for He said that if we humble ourselves and pray, He will hear our prayers and He will heal our land. Will you get rid of the junk that has clouded your mind/decisions and your actions? Will you submit yourself back to God and put your lives in His merciful hands? (Judges 10:10-16
  • Know the past so that you won’t be doomed to repeat it and so that you can testify to it if and when someone challenges you about it (Judges 11:12-27)
  • Be careful what you say, words have power and words have consequences (Judges 11:30, 11:34)
  • The battle belongs to the Lord and when we align with Him, His victory is our victory
  • Being obedient to God, making that sacrifice, lift it up to God so that He can decide how it will finish (Judges 11:34-40)
  • Do you know the difference? Can you distinguish between the two? Will you speak the truth and die or lie and die? (Judges 12:5-7)
  • Just because things are going smooth, never forget or get too comfortable that you stop depending on and following after God. It will create a legacy where people forget or where people don’t know and go astray!
  • And the pendulum swings again and people step out of the covering of the Lord. Then they are oppressed until the point they can’t take it any more and call out, cry out to God for help, for another savior.
  • God’s plans are bigger and better than our plans (Judges 13:2-16)
  • Don’t look for someone to worship or praise above the Lord! (Judges 13:17-23)
  • God’s Word is truth and trustworthy! If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it! (Judges 13:24-27)
  • Don’t allow lust to keep you from becoming everything that God desires for you to be!
  • God’s plans are perfect and there is a reason for everything He does. His plans for us are good! (Judges 14:4)
  • Walk in the power of God! (Judges 14:5-6)
  • Keep your eyes on the path God sets before you and leave the honey alone! (Judges 14:8-9)
  • What tests will you try to trick your enemies? (Judges 14:12-20)
  • What happens when you play with the emotions of a Samson? Do you really want to get Samson angry? (Judges 15:1-8)
  • What the enemy plans for evil, God can use to turn around and produce good! (Judges 15:9-17)
  • There are benefits for walking under the anointing and power of God! Allow His anointing to drive His purpose for your life! (Judges 15:14)
  • God will provide for your every need! (Judges 15:18-20)

It’s a matter of the heart!

Are you doing it out of routine and habit rather than out of love and desire? Are you doing it because it is what you were taught or out of a heart to serve? Are you doing it to look good rather than because your heart is in proper alignment? Are your living by human standards or God’s standards? Are you following rules or standards? Compare what you are following against the true ruler of truth! Compare how you are acting with the standards of life! Are you nullifying standards for your own purposes? What is coming out of your heart is what makes or breaks you! So what is in your heart? Will you allow Jesus to help clean it up?

This morning’s reading speaks to this point from Mark 7 (GNT)

The Teaching of the Ancestors

(Matthew 15.1-9)
1Some Pharisees and teachers of the Law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus. 2They noticed that some of his disciples were eating their food with hands that were ritually unclean—that is, they had not washed them in the way the Pharisees said people should.
( 3For the Pharisees, as well as the rest of the Jews, follow the teaching they received from their ancestors: they do not eat unless they wash their hands in the proper way; 4nor do they eat anything that comes from the market unless they wash it first. And they follow many other rules which they have received, such as the proper way to wash cups, pots, copper bowls, and beds.)
5So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked Jesus, “Why is it that your disciples do not follow the teaching handed down by our ancestors, but instead eat with ritually unclean hands?”
6 Jesus answered them, “How right Isaiah was when he prophesied about you! You are hypocrites, just as he wrote:
‘These people, says God, honor me with their words,
but their heart is really far away from me.
7It is no use for them to worship me,
because they teach human rules
as though they were my laws!’
8“You put aside God’s command and obey human teachings.”
9And Jesus continued, “You have a clever way of rejecting God’s law in order to uphold your own teaching. 10For Moses commanded, ‘Respect your father and your mother,’ and, ‘If you curse your father or your mother, you are to be put to death.’ 11But you teach that if people have something they could use to help their father or mother, but say, ‘This is Corban’ (which means, it belongs to God), 12they are excused from helping their father or mother. 13In this way the teaching you pass on to others cancels out the word of God. And there are many other things like this that you do.”

The Things That Make a Person Unclean

(Matthew 15.10-20)
14Then Jesus called the crowd to him once more and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand. 15There is nothing that goes into you from the outside which can make you ritually unclean. Rather, it is what comes out of you that makes you unclean.”
17When he left the crowd and went into the house, his disciples asked him to explain this saying. 18“You are no more intelligent than the others,” Jesus said to them. “Don’t you understand? Nothing that goes into you from the outside can really make you unclean, 19because it does not go into your heart but into your stomach and then goes on out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared that all foods are fit to be eaten.)
20And he went on to say, “It is what comes out of you that makes you unclean. 21For from the inside, from your heart, come the evil ideas which lead you to do immoral things, to rob, kill, 22commit adultery, be greedy, and do all sorts of evil things; deceit, indecency, jealousy, slander, pride, and folly— 23all these evil things come from inside you and make you unclean.”
~from Mark 7 (GNT)

So receive the gifts of God and use them for His purposes!

Gifts from the Holy Spirit

1Now, concerning what you wrote about the gifts from the Holy Spirit.
I want you to know the truth about them, my friends. 2You know that while you were still heathen, you were led astray in many ways to the worship of lifeless idols. 3I want you to know that no one who is led by God’s Spirit can say “A curse on Jesus!” and no one can confess “Jesus is Lord,” without being guided by the Holy Spirit.
4There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. 5There are different ways of serving, but the same Lord is served. 6There are different abilities to perform service, but the same God gives ability to all for their particular service. 7The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all. 8The Spirit gives one person a message full of wisdom, while to another person the same Spirit gives a message full of knowledge. 9One and the same Spirit gives faith to one person, while to another person he gives the power to heal. 10The Spirit gives one person the power to work miracles; to another, the gift of speaking God’s message; and to yet another, the ability to tell the difference between gifts that come from the Spirit and those that do not. To one person he gives the ability to speak in strange tongues, and to another he gives the ability to explain what is said. 11But it is one and the same Spirit who does all this; as he wishes, he gives a different gift to each person.
~from 1 Corinthians 12 (GNT)

Imagine the problems with no standard!

Is there a reason for not having standards? Is there a reason to not call out the right way to do something? Is there anything in life that shouldn’t have standards defined? Imagine the world and the never ending problems because of the lack of standards or the lack of following standards. Why does ISO (International Organization for Standardization) exist? If standards aren’t important than why have they come up with so many (ISO has published more than 19 500 International Standards covering almost every industry, from technology, to food safety, to agriculture and healthcare. ISO International Standards impact everyone, everywhere.)? If standards aren’t important than why do so many places want them, need them, and follow them (164 out of 206 countries in the world, 250 technical committees)? If standards aren’t important that why are there certifications that so many people and companies want to get in order to be able to better business? Did you know that iso comes from the Greek word that means equal?

So what is a standard based on ISO’s definition?

“A standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.” — from ISO Standards page

How about in life? How about in our daily living? Shouldn’t there be standards of living that will help us live in the right way? Shouldn’t there be standards that keep us from doing things that will cause us, our communities, or our world issues? Shouldn’t there be standards that keep the world’s population from deteriorating? Shouldn’t we be lifting it up? Shouldn’t we be trying to improve the average rather than working towards the lowest common denominator? Shouldn’t we be providing hand ups rather than hand outs? Shouldn’t we be leaving this place better than how we found it? Do you know where to go and find a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines, and characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that we are fit for our purpose?


Did you know the Bible provides many requirements? many specifications? many guidelines? many characteristics? for our own good? To help us meet our purpose? To keep us from harm? God’s plans if for good!

Consider the 10 commandments!

1And God spoke all these words:

2“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3“You shall have no other gods before me.
4“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13“You shall not murder.
14“You shall not commit adultery.
15“You shall not steal.
16“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
~from Exodus 20 (NIV)

Consider the sending of Jesus!

16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

~from John 3 (NIV)

Consider the process of learning! (Ask, Seek, Knock)

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
~from Matthew 7 (NIV)

Consider why you are asking and how you are asking and who you are asking!

1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

4You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
11Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
~from James 4 (NIV)

Consider the process of facing challenges! (results no lack)

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

5If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

And there are so many more…

God wants us to be living lives that will raise the average!

So consider what is taking place around the world! Consider the laws that are being made up or broken that go against the standards! Consider the source and how it is being changed! What would happen if the standards around engineering a bridge were broken? What would happen if the standards around building a building were broken? What would happen if the standards of building a dam or power plant were broken?  Would things get better or worse? Would there be pain and suffering unnecessarily because of this disregard for the standards? Would the average go up? Would people’s lives get better? What would the characteristics of such a society be or become?

Consider what is taking place all around you today? It would appear that the higher standards aren’t being considered nor followed and people are starting to feel the consequences of that! Do you see any examples? Do you see any situations? Do you see it in the people? Do you see it in the leaders? Do you think the average is going up or coming down?

Don’t be afraid! Keep your eyes on target!

There are so many reasons that I like the reading today and so many messages that are attached to it. First is that almost two years ago, on a day when I was contemplating a career shift as I was praying, that morning’s reading was about Peter stepping out of the boat and walking on water and as I drove to work I asked God if my first employer out of university was the boat and I was supposed to get out if He could tell me which side. Within seconds my phone made a noise and at the stop sign I read “get out of the boat“. Had I not added the criteria of what side, I would have been driving to work to quit and drive home. Instead that night I went home and updated my resume and LinkedIn profile and started searching for what was to be next. Almost two years later, God has continue to help me and show me to keep my eyes on Him. He showed me what side and after 19yrs and 1 day at my first part of my career, God has started my second half with Job 42:12 telling me how the second half will be twice as good as the first half.

The other thing that the story speaks to me is the fact that the circumstances may not have changed around you when He calls you out of the boat to start walking on water, but keeping our eyes on Him and believing in Him will extend the walk, no matter how big the storm is, no matter how big the waves get, keep your focus and keep walking in faith believing that the one who called you will be faithful to complete the work He has started in you!

Today’s reading starts with the following…

Jesus Walks on the Water

(Matthew 14.22-33; John 6.15-21)
45At once Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to Bethsaida, on the other side of the lake, while he sent the crowd away. 46After saying good-bye to the people, he went away to a hill to pray. 47When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, while Jesus was alone on land. 48He saw that his disciples were straining at the oars, because they were rowing against the wind; so sometime between three and six o’clock in the morning, he came to them, walking on the water. He was going to pass them by, 49but they saw him walking on the water. “It’s a ghost!” they thought, and screamed. 50They were all terrified when they saw him.
Jesus spoke to them at once, “Courage!” he said. “It is I. Don’t be afraid!” 51Then he got into the boat with them, and the wind died down. The disciples were completely amazed, 52because they had not understood the real meaning of the feeding of the five thousand; their minds could not grasp it.
~from Mark 6 (GNT)

The various ways of the story being told are interesting too as you get different perspectives. In Matthew’s version we get the extra details about Peter stepping out. Some times he will calm the storm and other times He will calm the storm in us! Either way we can trust in Him!

As we walk, let’s consider the purpose for which we have been called. Let’s make sure we are prepared. And then we can enjoy the moment we are stepping into to the fullest!

The Lord’s Supper

(Matthew 26.26-29; Mark 14.22-25; Luke 22.14-20)
17In the following instructions, however, I do not praise you, because your meetings for worship actually do more harm than good. 18In the first place, I have been told that there are opposing groups in your meetings; and this I believe is partly true. ( 19No doubt there must be divisions among you so that the ones who are in the right may be clearly seen.) 20When you meet together as a group, it is not the Lord’s Supper that you eat. 21For as you eat, you each go ahead with your own meal, so that some are hungry while others get drunk. 22Don’t you have your own homes in which to eat and drink? Or would you rather despise the church of God and put to shame the people who are in need? What do you expect me to say to you about this? Shall I praise you? Of course I don’t!
23For I received from the Lord the teaching that I passed on to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took a piece of bread, 24gave thanks to God, broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in memory of me.” 25In the same way, after the supper he took the cup and said, “This cup is God’s new covenant, sealed with my blood. Whenever you drink it, do so in memory of me.”
26This means that every time you eat this bread and drink from this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27It follows that if one of you eats the Lord’s bread or drinks from his cup in a way that dishonors him, you are guilty of sin against the Lord’s body and blood. 28So then, you should each examine yourself first, and then eat the bread and drink from the cup. 29For if you do not recognize the meaning of the Lord’s body when you eat the bread and drink from the cup, you bring judgment on yourself as you eat and drink. 30That is why many of you are sick and weak, and several have died. 31If we would examine ourselves first, we would not come under God’s judgment. 32But we are judged and punished by the Lord, so that we shall not be condemned together with the world.
33So then, my friends, when you gather together to eat the Lord’s Supper, wait for one another. 34And if any of you are hungry, you should eat at home, so that you will not come under God’s judgment as you meet together. As for the other matters, I will settle them when I come.
~from 1 Corinthians 11 (GNT)

How can you help with the little that you have?

Ever been in a position where you are hearing people asking for help, but you think to yourself, how can I help? I don’t have much? I only have a little, how could I help such a big cause? Do you realize a little can go a long way when you happen to mix it with faith? Do you realize a little can make the difference between nothing and a miracle? Do you realize that it’s not a matter of how much, but it’s a matter of the heart? Do you realize that we are all put in situations where we can help? Do you notice the impact you can have and make with the little you have available?

Consider the widows mite and Jesus’ response…

The Widow’s Offering

(Luke 21.1-4)
41As Jesus sat near the Temple treasury, he watched the people as they dropped in their money. Many rich men dropped in a lot of money; 42then a poor widow came along and dropped in two little copper coins, worth about a penny. 43He called his disciples together and said to them, “I tell you that this poor widow put more in the offering box than all the others. 44For the others put in what they had to spare of their riches; but she, poor as she is, put in all she had—she gave all she had to live on.”
~from Mark 12 (GNT)

Jesus could see beyond the little she gave to the huge heart to give that she had. Are you willing to express your attitude of gratitude today? Are you willing to do your part? You may not think you can make a difference, but the truth is…you can!

Imagine being surrounded by a huge problem. Imagine being a kid and the adults are all thinking the issue is too big for them. Imagine that food is scarce and a call is put out to look for food and you happen to have your lunch bag with you. Would you give it up for the greater good? Would you keep it so that you can keep yourself going longer? The problem might be bigger than you, but we need to keep our focus on the right thing, because God is bigger than our problem. Let’s see how the story plays out and how doing it God’s way can produce abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine!

Jesus Feeds Five Thousand

(Matthew 14.13-21; Luke 9.10-17; John 6.1-14)
30The apostles returned and met with Jesus, and told him all they had done and taught. 31There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his disciples didn’t even have time to eat. So he said to them, “Let us go off by ourselves to some place where we will be alone and you can rest a while.” 32So they started out in a boat by themselves to a lonely place.
33Many people, however, saw them leave and knew at once who they were; so they went from all the towns and ran ahead by land and arrived at the place ahead of Jesus and his disciples. 34When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw this large crowd, and his heart was filled with pity for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began to teach them many things. 35When it was getting late, his disciples came to him and said, “It is already very late, and this is a lonely place. 36Send the people away, and let them go to the nearby farms and villages in order to buy themselves something to eat.”
37“You yourselves give them something to eat,” Jesus answered.
They asked, “Do you want us to go and spend two hundred silver coins on bread in order to feed them?”
38So Jesus asked them, “How much bread do you have? Go and see.”
When they found out, they told him, “Five loaves and also two fish.”
39Jesus then told his disciples to make all the people divide into groups and sit down on the green grass. 40So the people sat down in rows, in groups of a hundred and groups of fifty. 41Then Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, and gave thanks to God. He broke the loaves and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42Everyone ate and had enough. 43Then the disciples took up twelve baskets full of what was left of the bread and the fish. 44The number of men who were fed was five thousand.
~from Mark 6 (GNT)

That little boy was willing to give up his lunch into the hands of Jesus. He had faith to trust in Him and give up the little food he had. And Jesus took it, blessed it, gave thanks to God and then started to divide it out. It was multiplied to the point where everyone had enough to eat. It multiplied enough that there were leftovers. God is able to take the little you have and use it in ways that are exceedingly abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine. He goes beyond beyond!

So are you grateful for what you have? Are you expressing that attitude to those around you? Gratitude needs to be expressed, so how are you choosing to do it?

Not sure what to do? Not sure where to turn? Go to God! Talk with Him! Ask Him for help!

A Prayer for Help

1Listen to me, Lord, and answer me,
for I am helpless and weak.
2Save me from death, because I am loyal to you;
save me, for I am your servant and I trust in you.
3You are my God, so be merciful to me;
I pray to you all day long.
4Make your servant glad, O Lord,
because my prayers go up to you.
5You are good to us and forgiving,
full of constant love for all who pray to you.
6Listen, Lord, to my prayer;
hear my cries for help.
7I call to you in times of trouble,
because you answer my prayers.
8There is no god like you, O Lord,
not one has done what you have done.
9All the nations that you have created
will come and bow down to you;
they will praise your greatness.
10You are mighty and do wonderful things;
you alone are God.
11Teach me, Lord, what you want me to do,
and I will obey you faithfully;
teach me to serve you with complete devotion.
12I will praise you with all my heart, O Lord my God;
I will proclaim your greatness forever.
13How great is your constant love for me!
You have saved me from the grave itself.
14Proud people are coming against me, O God;
a cruel gang is trying to kill me—
people who pay no attention to you.
15But you, O Lord, are a merciful and loving God,
always patient, always kind and faithful.
16Turn to me and have mercy on me;
strengthen me and save me,
because I serve you just as my mother did.
17Show me proof of your goodness, Lord;
those who hate me will be ashamed
when they see that you have given me comfort and help.
~from Psalm 86 (GNT)

Each of us has a purpose and a role to play! Each of us has to remember the calling and not allow pride to get in the way of accomplishing God’s Word in and through us!