Will you take care of it?

Will you step up to take care of it? Will you step up and help take care of it? Will you see the need and take care of it? Will you be aware of what is going on and take care of it? Are you taking care of it?

This morning shows how Joseph and Nicodemus were taking care of it…

The Burial of Jesus

(Matthew 27.57-61; Mark 15.42-47; Luke 23.50-56)

38After this, Joseph, who was from the town of Arimathea, asked Pilate if he could take Jesus’ body. (Joseph was a follower of Jesus, but in secret, because he was afraid of the Jewish authorities.) Pilate told him he could have the body, so Joseph went and took it away. 39Nicodemus, who at first had gone to see Jesus at night, went with Joseph, taking with him about one hundred pounds of spices, a mixture of myrrh and aloes. 40The two men took Jesus’ body and wrapped it in linen cloths with the spices according to the Jewish custom of preparing a body for burial. 41There was a garden in the place where Jesus had been put to death, and in it there was a new tomb where no one had ever been buried. 42Since it was the day before the Sabbath and because the tomb was close by, they placed Jesus’ body there.

–from John 19

Do you realize what is yet to come? Are you prepared? Are you helping others be prepared? Are you letting others hear or know about what you have learned? Are you sharing the wisdom you have heard so that they can decide? Consider if people knew what was coming and the impact it may have on their decisions. If they make the right choice they won’t have to go through or deal with the ultimate challenge, struggle, and pain.

The Bowls of God’s Anger

1Then I heard a loud voice speaking from the temple to the seven angels: “Go and pour out the seven bowls of God’s anger on the earth!” 2The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth. Terrible and painful sores appeared on those who had the mark of the beast and on those who had worshiped its image. 3Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea. The water became like the blood of a dead person, and every living creature in the sea died. 4Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and the springs of water, and they turned into blood. 5I heard the angel in charge of the waters say, “The judgments you have made are just, O Holy One, you who are and who were! 6They poured out the blood of God’s people and of the prophets, and so you have given them blood to drink. They are getting what they deserve!” 7Then I heard a voice from the altar saying, “Lord God Almighty! True and just indeed are your judgments!” 8Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to burn people with its fiery heat. 9They were burned by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God, who has authority over these plagues. But they would not turn from their sins and praise his greatness. 10Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast. Darkness fell over the beast’s kingdom, and people bit their tongues because of their pain, 11and they cursed the God of heaven for their pains and sores. But they did not turn from their evil ways. 12Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great Euphrates River. The river dried up, to provide a way for the kings who come from the east. 13Then I saw three unclean spirits that looked like frogs. They were coming out of the mouth of the dragon, the mouth of the beast, and the mouth of the false prophet. 14They are the spirits of demons that perform miracles. These three spirits go out to all the kings of the world, to bring them together for the battle on the great Day of Almighty God. 15“Listen! I am coming like a thief! Happy is he who stays awake and guards his clothes, so that he will not walk around naked and be ashamed in public!” 16Then the spirits brought the kings together in the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. 17Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl in the air. A loud voice came from the throne in the temple, saying, “It is done!” 18There were flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder, and a terrible earthquake. There has never been such an earthquake since the creation of human beings; this was the worst earthquake of all! 19The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of all countries were destroyed. God remembered great Babylon and made her drink the wine from his cup—the wine of his furious anger. 20All the islands disappeared, all the mountains vanished. 21Huge hailstones, each weighing as much as a hundred pounds, fell from the sky on people, who cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because it was such a terrible plague.

–from Revelation 16

Where are you headed? Where are you going? Where will you turn? Will you turn to God and be transformed? Or will you keep going the other way and deal with the consequences?

1Then out of the storm the Lord spoke to Job.

The Lord

2Who are you to question my wisdom with your ignorant, empty words? 3Now stand up straight and answer the questions I ask you. 4Were you there when I made the world? If you know so much, tell me about it. 5Who decided how large it would be? Who stretched the measuring line over it? Do you know all the answers? 6What holds up the pillars that support the earth? Who laid the cornerstone of the world? 7In the dawn of that day the stars sang together, and the heavenly beings shouted for joy. 8Who closed the gates to hold back the sea when it burst from the womb of the earth? 9It was I who covered the sea with clouds and wrapped it in darkness. 10I marked a boundary for the sea and kept it behind bolted gates. 11I told it, “So far and no farther! Here your powerful waves must stop.” 12Job, have you ever in all your life commanded a day to dawn? 13Have you ordered the dawn to seize the earth and shake the wicked from their hiding places? 14Daylight makes the hills and valleys stand out like the folds of a garment, clear as the imprint of a seal on clay. 15The light of day is too bright for the wicked and restrains them from doing violence. 16Have you been to the springs in the depths of the sea? Have you walked on the floor of the ocean? 17Has anyone ever shown you the gates that guard the dark world of the dead? 18Have you any idea how big the world is? Answer me if you know. 19Do you know where the light comes from or what the source of darkness is? 20Can you show them how far to go, or send them back again? 21I am sure you can, because you’re so old and were there when the world was made!

–from Job 38

Ever been prompted to do something by that still quiet voice? Ever battled against the wisdom and instruction? Ever had to get to the point where it needed to get louder? What will it take to get your attention and your obedience to what God is calling you to do? God doesn’t need you to be perfect. He doesn’t call the perfect or the equipped, He calls the obedient and equips them to complete the work He has for them to do! God wants a relationship with you, so have conversations with Him. Allow Him to lead you and guide you every step of the day. Will you go His way or do you really want to have to deal with the consequences of disobedience?

1This is the message that the Lord gave to Zephaniah during the time that Josiah son of Amon was king of Judah. (Zephaniah was descended from King Hezekiah through Amariah, Gedaliah, and Cushi.)

The Day of the Lord’s Judgment

2The Lord said, “I am going to destroy everything on earth, 3all human beings and animals, birds and fish. I will bring about the downfall of the wicked. I will destroy everyone, and no survivors will be left. I, the Lord, have spoken. 4“I will punish the people of Jerusalem and of all Judah. I will destroy the last trace of the worship of Baal there, and no one will even remember the pagan priests who serve him. 5I will destroy anyone who goes up on the roof and worships the sun, the moon, and the stars. I will also destroy those who worship me and swear loyalty to me, but then take oaths in the name of the god Molech. 6I will destroy those who have turned back and no longer follow me, those who do not come to me or ask me to guide them.” 7The day is near when the Lord will sit in judgment; so be silent in his presence. The Lord is preparing to sacrifice his people and has invited enemies to plunder Judah. 8“On that day of slaughter,” says the Lord, “I will punish the officials, the king’s sons, and all who practice foreign customs. 9I will punish all who worship like pagans and who steal and kill in order to fill their master’s house with loot. 10“On that day,” says the Lord, “you will hear the sound of crying at the Fish Gate in Jerusalem. You will hear wailing in the newer part of the city and a great crashing sound in the hills. 11Wail and cry when you hear this, you that live in the lower part of the city, because all the merchants will be dead! 12“At that time I will take a lamp and search Jerusalem. I will punish the people who are self-satisfied and confident, who say to themselves, ‘The Lord never does anything, one way or the other.’ 13Their wealth will be looted and their houses destroyed. They will never live in the houses they are building or drink wine from the vineyards they are planting.” 14The great day of the Lord is near—very near and coming fast! That day will be bitter, for even the bravest soldiers will cry out in despair! 15It will be a day of fury, a day of trouble and distress, a day of ruin and destruction, a day of darkness and gloom, a black and cloudy day, 16a day filled with the sound of war trumpets and the battle cry of soldiers attacking fortified cities and high towers. 17The Lord says, “I will bring such disasters on the human race that everyone will grope about like someone blind. They have sinned against me, and now their blood will be poured out like water, and their dead bodies will lie rotting on the ground.” 18On the day when the Lord shows his fury, not even all their silver and gold will save them. The whole earth will be destroyed by the fire of his anger. He will put an end—a sudden end—to everyone who lives on earth.

–from Zephaniah 1

Have you read the end of the book? There are two sides? There is a way out! There is a winning side and a losing side! How long will you choose to wait before joining up with Jesus? How much do you want to have to go through and deal with on your own? In this world we will all have challenges and trials, however, when we have Jesus have hope because we know that He has already overcome the world and that He is coming back fro us! It’s not too late, so will you turnaround and turn back to God? Before it is too late…

A Plea for Repentance

1Shameless nation, come to your senses 2before you are driven away like chaff blown by the wind, before the burning anger of the Lord comes upon you, before the day when he shows his fury. 3Turn to the Lord, all you humble people of the land, who obey his commands. Do what is right, and humble yourselves before the Lord. Perhaps you will escape punishment on the day when the Lord shows his anger.

The Doom of the Nations around Judah

4No one will be left in the city of Gaza. Ashkelon will be deserted. The people of Ashdod will be driven out in half a day, and the people of Ekron will be driven from their city. 5You Philistines are doomed, you people who live along the coast. The Lord has passed sentence on you. He will destroy you, and not one of you will be left. 6Your land by the sea will become open fields with shepherd’s huts and sheep pens. 7The people of Judah who survive will occupy your land. They will pasture their flocks there and sleep in the houses of Ashkelon. The Lord their God will be with them and make them prosper again. 8The Lord Almighty says, “I have heard the people of Moab and Ammon insulting and taunting my people, and boasting that they would seize their land. 9As surely as I am the living Lord, the God of Israel, I swear that Moab and Ammon are going to be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah. They will become a place of salt pits and everlasting ruin, overgrown with weeds. Those of my people who survive will plunder them and take their land.” 10That is how the people of Moab and Ammon will be punished for their pride and arrogance and for insulting the people of the Lord Almighty. 11The Lord will terrify them. He will reduce the gods of the earth to nothing, and then every nation will worship him, each in its own land. 12The Lord will also put the people of Ethiopia to death. 13The Lord will use his power to destroy Assyria. He will make the city of Nineveh a deserted ruin, a waterless desert. 14It will be a place where flocks, herds, and animals of every kind will lie down. Owls will live among its ruins and hoot from the windows. Crows will caw on the doorsteps. The cedar wood of her buildings will be stripped away. 15That is what will happen to the city that is so proud of its own power and thinks it is safe. Its people think that their city is the greatest in the world. What a desolate place it will become, a place where wild animals will rest! Everyone who passes by will shrink back in horror.

–from Zephaniah 2


Are you a finisher?

Do you get it done? Do you keep going till it is finished? Do you make sure it is complete? Do you only go part way? Do you leave things partially done? Do you reflect on where you are to consider what is left to do? Is there anything getting in the way of completing the work you have to do? No excuses! No avoidance! Let’s finish strong! Let’s finish the race! Let’s get it done!

Today’s reading speaks to finishing…

The Death of Jesus

(Matthew 27.45-56; Mark 15.33-41; Luke 23.44-49)

28Jesus knew that by now everything had been completed; and in order to make the scripture come true, he said, “I am thirsty.”
29A bowl was there, full of cheap wine; so a sponge was soaked in the wine, put on a stalk of hyssop, and lifted up to his lips. 30Jesus drank the wine and said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus’ Side Is Pierced

31Then the Jewish authorities asked Pilate to allow them to break the legs of the men who had been crucified, and to take the bodies down from the crosses. They requested this because it was Friday, and they did not want the bodies to stay on the crosses on the Sabbath, since the coming Sabbath was especially holy. 32So the soldiers went and broke the legs of the first man and then of the other man who had been crucified with Jesus. 33But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they did not break his legs. 34One of the soldiers, however, plunged his spear into Jesus’ side, and at once blood and water poured out. ( 35The one who saw this happen has spoken of it, so that you also may believe. What he said is true, and he knows that he speaks the truth.) 36This was done to make the scripture come true: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37And there is another scripture that says, “People will look at him whom they pierced.”

–from John 19

He did it the way it was supposed to be! He did it in His own timing! He did it for God’s glory!

Today’s reading speaks to how nobody could enter till the angels were finished…

The Angels with the Last Plagues

1Then I saw in the sky another mysterious sight, great and amazing. There were seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last ones, because they are the final expression of God’s anger. 2Then I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire. I also saw those who had won the victory over the beast and its image and over the one whose name is represented by a number. They were standing by the sea of glass, holding harps that God had given them 3and singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Lord God Almighty, how great and wonderful are your deeds! King of the nations, how right and true are your ways! 4Who will not stand in awe of you, Lord? Who will refuse to declare your greatness? You alone are holy. All the nations will come and worship you, because your just actions are seen by all.” 5After this I saw the temple in heaven open, with the Sacred Tent in it. 6The seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple, dressed in clean shining linen and with gold bands tied around their chests. 7Then one of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven gold bowls full of the anger of God, who lives forever and ever. 8The temple was filled with smoke from the glory and power of God, and no one could go into the temple until the seven plagues brought by the seven angels had come to an end.

–from Revelation 15

God is in control! Nothing surprises Him! What will we choose to do? How will we choose to live? How will we choose to respond? What will it take for us to turn back to Him? What will it take for us to learn through our experiences? When will we listen to Him?

1The storm makes my heart beat wildly. 2Listen, all of you, to the voice of God, to the thunder that comes from his mouth. 3He sends the lightning across the sky, from one end of the earth to the other. 4Then the roar of his voice is heard, the majestic sound of thunder, and all the while the lightning flashes. 5At God’s command amazing things happen, wonderful things that we can’t understand. 6He commands snow to fall on the earth, and sends torrents of drenching rain. 7He brings our work to a stop; he shows us what he can do. 8The wild animals go to their dens. 9The storm winds come from the south, and the biting cold from the north. 10The breath of God freezes the waters, and turns them to solid ice. 11Lightning flashes from the clouds, 12as they move at God’s will. They do all that God commands, everywhere throughout the world. 13God sends rain to water the earth; he may send it to punish us, or to show us his favor. 14Pause a moment, Job, and listen; consider the wonderful things God does. 15Do you know how God gives the command and makes lightning flash from the clouds? 16Do you know how clouds float in the sky, the work of God’s amazing skill? 17No, you can only suffer in the heat when the south wind oppresses the land. 18Can you help God stretch out the sky and make it as hard as polished metal? 19Teach us what to say to God; our minds are blank; we have nothing to say. 20I won’t ask to speak with God; why should I give him a chance to destroy me? 21And now the light in the sky is dazzling, too bright for us to look at it; and the sky has been swept clean by the wind. 22A golden glow is seen in the north, and the glory of God fills us with awe. 23God’s power is so great that we cannot come near him; he is righteous and just in his dealings with us. 24No wonder, then, that everyone is awed by him, and that he ignores those who claim to be wise.

–from Job 37

Will you keep speaking to God? Will you trusting in Him? Will allow Him to lead you and guide you? Will you allow Him to provide you wisdom and direction? Don’t give up! Don’t lose hope! Don’t lose faith! Trust in God!

1This is the message that the Lord revealed to the prophet Habakkuk.

Habakkuk Complains of Injustice

2O Lord, how long must I call for help before you listen, before you save us from violence? 3Why do you make me see such trouble? How can you stand to look on such wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are all around me, and there is fighting and quarreling everywhere. 4The law is weak and useless, and justice is never done. Evil people get the better of the righteous, and so justice is perverted.

The Lord’s Reply

5Then the Lord said to his people, “Keep watching the nations around you, and you will be astonished at what you see. I am going to do something that you will not believe when you hear about it. 6I am bringing the Babylonians to power, those fierce, restless people. They are marching out across the world to conquer other lands. 7They spread fear and terror, and in their pride they are a law to themselves.
8“Their horses are faster than leopards, fiercer than hungry wolves. Their cavalry troops come riding from distant lands; their horses paw the ground. They come swooping down like eagles attacking their prey. 9“Their armies advance in violent conquest, and everyone is terrified as they approach. Their captives are as numerous as grains of sand. 10They treat kings with contempt and laugh at high officials. No fortress can stop them—they pile up earth against it and capture it. 11Then they sweep on like the wind and are gone, these men whose power is their god.”

Habakkuk Complains to the Lord Again

12Lord, from the very beginning you are God. You are my God, holy and eternal. Lord, my God and protector, you have chosen the Babylonians and made them strong so that they can punish us. 13But how can you stand these treacherous, evil men? Your eyes are too holy to look at evil, and you cannot stand the sight of people doing wrong. So why are you silent while they destroy people who are more righteous than they are? 14How can you treat people like fish or like a swarm of insects that have no ruler to direct them? 15The Babylonians catch people with hooks, as though they were fish. They drag them off in nets and shout for joy over their catch! 16They even worship their nets and offer sacrifices to them, because their nets provide them with the best of everything. 17Are they going to use their swords forever and keep on destroying nations without mercy?

–from Habakkuk 1

God’s timing is perfect! So let’s be patient! Let’s not grow weary in doing what is good, for at the right time we will reap a harvest as long as we don’t give up!

The Lord’s Answer to Habakkuk

1I will climb my watchtower and wait to see what the Lord will tell me to say and what answer he will give to my complaint. 2The Lord gave me this answer: “Write down clearly on tablets what I reveal to you, so that it can be read at a glance. 3Put it in writing, because it is not yet time for it to come true. But the time is coming quickly, and what I show you will come true. It may seem slow in coming, but wait for it; it will certainly take place, and it will not be delayed. 4And this is the message: ‘Those who are evil will not survive, but those who are righteous will live because they are faithful to God.’”

Doom on the Unrighteous

5Wealth is deceitful. Greedy people are proud and restless—like death itself they are never satisfied. That is why they conquer nation after nation for themselves. 6The conquered people will taunt their conquerors and show their scorn for them. They will say, “You take what isn’t yours, but you are doomed! How long will you go on getting rich by forcing your debtors to pay up?” 7But before you know it, you that have conquered others will be in debt yourselves and be forced to pay interest. Enemies will come and make you tremble. They will plunder you! 8You have plundered the people of many nations, but now those who have survived will plunder you because of the murders you have committed and because of your violence against the people of the world and its cities. 9You are doomed! You have made your family rich with what you took by violence, and have tried to make your own home safe from harm and danger! 10But your schemes have brought shame on your family; by destroying many nations you have only brought ruin on yourself. 11Even the stones of the walls cry out against you, and the rafters echo the cry. 12You are doomed! You founded a city on crime and built it up by murder. 13The nations you conquered wore themselves out in useless labor, and all they have built goes up in flames. The Lord Almighty has done this. 14But the earth will be as full of the knowledge of the Lord’s glory as the seas are full of water. 15You are doomed! In your fury you humiliated and disgraced your neighbors; you made them stagger as though they were drunk. 16You in turn will be covered with shame instead of honor. You yourself will drink and stagger. The Lord will make you drink your own cup of punishment, and your honor will be turned to disgrace. 17You have cut down the forests of Lebanon; now you will be cut down. You killed its animals; now animals will terrify you. This will happen because of the murders you have committed and because of your violence against the people of the world and its cities. 18What’s the use of an idol? It is only something that a human being has made, and it tells you nothing but lies. What good does it do for its maker to trust it—a god that can’t even talk! 19You are doomed! You say to a piece of wood, “Wake up!” or to a block of stone, “Get up!” Can an idol reveal anything to you? It may be covered with silver and gold, but there is no life in it. 20The Lord is in his holy Temple; let everyone on earth be silent in his presence.

–from Habakkuk 2

Wait for it! God’s Word never returns void! Take time to hear from Him! Trust Him with all your heart, mind, and strength!  He is mighty to save! He is just! Put your trust in Him!

A Prayer of Habakkuk

1This is a prayer of the prophet Habakkuk: 2O Lord, I have heard of what you have done, and I am filled with awe. Now do again in our times the great deeds you used to do. Be merciful, even when you are angry. 3God is coming again from Edom; the holy God is coming from the hills of Paran. His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of his praise. 4He comes with the brightness of lightning; light flashes from his hand, there where his power is hidden. 5He sends disease before him and commands death to follow him. 6When he stops, the earth shakes; at his glance the nations tremble. The eternal mountains are shattered; the everlasting hills sink down, the hills where he walked in ancient times. 7I saw the people of Cushan afraid and the people of Midian tremble. 8Was it the rivers that made you angry, Lord? Was it the sea that made you furious? You rode upon the clouds; the storm cloud was your chariot, as you brought victory to your people. 9You got ready to use your bow, ready to shoot your arrows. Your lightning split open the earth. 10When the mountains saw you, they trembled; water poured down from the skies. The waters under the earth roared, and their waves rose high. 11At the flash of your speeding arrows and the gleam of your shining spear, the sun and the moon stood still. 12You marched across the earth in anger; in fury you trampled the nations. 13You went out to save your people, to save your chosen king. You struck down the leader of the wicked and completely destroyed his followers. 14Your arrows pierced the commander of his army when it came like a storm to scatter us, gloating like those who secretly oppress the poor. 15You trampled the sea with your horses, and the mighty waters foamed. 16I hear all this, and I tremble; my lips quiver with fear. My body goes limp, and my feet stumble beneath me. I will quietly wait for the time to come when God will punish those who attack us. 17Even though the fig trees have no fruit and no grapes grow on the vines, even though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no grain, even though the sheep all die and the cattle stalls are empty, 18I will still be joyful and glad, because the Lord God is my savior. 19The Sovereign Lord gives me strength. He makes me sure-footed as a deer and keeps me safe on the mountains.

–from Habakkuk 3

How much would you give to someone who was trying to get you?

How much would you give if they were against you? How far would you go if they wanted to kill you? Would you be willing to go through the pain if you knew the incredible gain that would come from it? Would you be willing to deal with the pain and suffering if you knew it meant the lives of so many others? Would you be willing to give it all to provide a way for people to be reconciled? Would you be willing to give your all so that there would be a chance and an opportunity for people to become free, to have a future, and to have a hope?

Jesus was and Jesus did! He gave it all so that we could be reconciled to God! He gave it all so that we could have the opportunity to turn back to God and be received! He gave it all even though we didn’t deserve it! He showed true love and grace by giving it all while we were yet sinners so that we could have a hope and a future! Have you received this gift yet?

Jesus Is Crucified

(Matthew 27.32-44; Mark 15.21-32; Luke 23.26-43)

So they took charge of Jesus. 17He went out, carrying his cross, and came to “The Place of the Skull,” as it is called. (In Hebrew it is called “Golgotha.”) 18There they crucified him; and they also crucified two other men, one on each side, with Jesus between them. 19Pilate wrote a notice and had it put on the cross. “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,” is what he wrote. 20Many people read it, because the place where Jesus was crucified was not far from the city. The notice was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. 21The chief priests said to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am the King of the Jews.’” 22Pilate answered, “What I have written stays written.” 23After the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier. They also took the robe, which was made of one piece of woven cloth without any seams in it. 24The soldiers said to one another, “Let’s not tear it; let’s throw dice to see who will get it.” This happened in order to make the scripture come true: “They divided my clothes among themselves and gambled for my robe.” And this is what the soldiers did. 25Standing close to Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing there; so he said to his mother, “He is your son.” 27Then he said to the disciple, “She is your mother.” From that time the disciple took her to live in his home.

–from John 19

He opened the door to make a way for us to get to heaven! And one day He will come back to call those who have turned their lives back to God through Him. We don’t know the exact day or the exact time, but we do know that we are to be prepared! We are to be ready for His return! We are to be living like today matters!

The Lamb and His People

1Then I looked, and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion; with him were 144,000 people who have his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2And I heard a voice from heaven that sounded like a roaring waterfall, like a loud peal of thunder. It sounded like the music made by musicians playing their harps. 3The 144,000 people stood before the throne, the four living creatures, and the elders; they were singing a new song, which only they could learn. Of the whole human race they are the only ones who have been redeemed. 4They are the men who have kept themselves pure by not having sexual relations with women; they are virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been redeemed from the rest of the human race and are the first ones to be offered to God and to the Lamb. 5They have never been known to tell lies; they are faultless.

The Three Angels

6Then I saw another angel flying high in the air, with an eternal message of Good News to announce to the peoples of the earth, to every race, tribe, language, and nation. 7He said in a loud voice, “Honor God and praise his greatness! For the time has come for him to judge all people. Worship him who made heaven, earth, sea, and the springs of water!” 8A second angel followed the first one, saying, “She has fallen! Great Babylon has fallen! She made all peoples drink her wine—the strong wine of her immoral lust!” 9A third angel followed the first two, saying in a loud voice, “Those who worship the beast and its image and receive the mark on their forehead or on their hand 10will themselves drink God’s wine, the wine of his fury, which he has poured at full strength into the cup of his anger! All who do this will be tormented in fire and sulfur before the holy angels and the Lamb. 11The smoke of the fire that torments them goes up forever and ever. There is no relief day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, for anyone who has the mark of its name.” 12This calls for endurance on the part of God’s people, those who obey God’s commandments and are faithful to Jesus. 13Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Happy are those who from now on die in the service of the Lord!” “Yes indeed!” answers the Spirit. “They will enjoy rest from their hard work, because the results of their service go with them.”

The Harvest of the Earth

14Then I looked, and there was a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was what looked like a human being, with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15Then another angel came out from the temple and cried out in a loud voice to the one who was sitting on the cloud, “Use your sickle and reap the harvest, because the time has come; the earth is ripe for the harvest!” 16Then the one who sat on the cloud swung his sickle on the earth, and the earth’s harvest was reaped. 17Then I saw another angel come out of the temple in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. 18Then another angel, who is in charge of the fire, came from the altar. He shouted in a loud voice to the angel who had the sharp sickle, “Use your sickle, and cut the grapes from the vineyard of the earth, because the grapes are ripe!” 19So the angel swung his sickle on the earth, cut the grapes from the vine, and threw them into the wine press of God’s furious anger. 20The grapes were squeezed out in the wine press outside the city, and blood came out of the wine press in a flood two hundred miles long and about five feet deep.

–from Revelation 14

How close will you stick to God? How much do you depend on Him! It’s all about having a relationship with Him! It’s not about rituals and religion, it’s all about having a relationship with God that was opened and provided through the love, the grace, the mercy of God when He sent Jesus to this world!

16God brought you out of trouble, and let you enjoy security; your table was piled high with food. 17But now you are being punished as you deserve. 18Be careful not to let bribes deceive you, or riches lead you astray. 19It will do you no good to cry out for help; all your strength can’t help you now. 20Don’t wish for night to come, the time when nations will perish. 21Be careful not to turn to evil; your suffering was sent to keep you from it. 22Remember how great is God’s power; he is the greatest teacher of all. 23No one can tell God what to do or accuse him of doing evil. 24He has always been praised for what he does; you also must praise him. 25Everyone has seen what he has done; but we can only watch from a distance. 26We cannot fully know his greatness or count the number of his years. 27It is God who takes water from the earth and turns it into drops of rain. 28He lets the rain pour from the clouds in showers for all human beings. 29No one knows how the clouds move or how the thunder roars through the sky, where God dwells. 30He sends lightning through all the sky, but the depths of the sea remain dark. 31This is how he feeds the people and provides an abundance of food. 32He seizes the lightning with his hands and commands it to hit the mark. 33Thunder announces the approaching storm, and the cattle know it is coming.

–from Job 36

We can’t assume and can’t judge that because of troubles going on in someone’s life that they have done something wrong. We see that with the blind man when the disciples ask who sinned, his parents or himself. But we read:

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.

–from John 9:3

So rather than judge someone else when they are struggling, why don’t you come alongside them, pray for them, believe with them that something greater is yet to come! Build up their faith! Put your trust in God! Seek wisdom for the answers and the purpose for what is going on! We need to stay connected to God and remember that He is

a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

–from Psalm 86:15

1This is a message about Nineveh, the account of a vision seen by Nahum, who was from Elkosh.

The Lord’s Anger against Nineveh

2The Lord God tolerates no rivals; he punishes those who oppose him. In his anger he pays them back. 3The Lord does not easily become angry, but he is powerful and never lets the guilty go unpunished. Where the Lord walks, storms arise; the clouds are the dust raised by his feet! 4He commands the sea, and it dries up! He makes the rivers go dry. The fields of Bashan wither, Mount Carmel turns brown, and the flowers of Lebanon fade. 5Mountains quake in the presence of the Lord; hills melt before him. The earth shakes when the Lord appears; the world and all its people tremble. 6When he is angry, who can survive? Who can survive his terrible fury? He pours out his flaming anger; rocks crumble to dust before him. 7The Lord is good; he protects his people in times of trouble; he takes care of those who turn to him. 8Like a great rushing flood he completely destroys his enemies; he sends to their death those who oppose him. 9What are you plotting against the Lord? He will destroy you. No one opposes him more than once. 10Like tangled thorns and dry straw you drunkards will be burned up! 11From you, Nineveh, there came someone full of wicked schemes, who plotted against the Lord. 12This is what the Lord says to his people Israel: “Even though the Assyrians are strong and numerous, they will be destroyed and disappear. My people, I made you suffer, but I will not do it again. 13I will now end Assyria’s power over you and break the chains that bind you.” 14This is what the Lord has decreed about the Assyrians: “They will have no descendants to carry on their name. I will destroy the idols that are in the temples of their gods. I am preparing a grave for the Assyrians—they don’t deserve to live!” 15Look, a messenger is coming over the mountains with good news! He is on his way to announce the victory! People of Judah, celebrate your festivals and give God what you solemnly promised him. The wicked will never invade your land again. They have been totally destroyed!

–from Nahum 1

Are you going to pick sides? Which side will you take? Will you choose to be on the winning side? Have you read the end of the book?

The Fall of Nineveh

1Nineveh, you are under attack! The power that will shatter you has come. Prepare the defenses! Guard the road! Prepare for battle! ( 2The Lord is about to restore the glory of Israel, as it was before her enemies plundered her.) 3The enemy soldiers carry red shields and wear uniforms of red. They are preparing to attack! Their chariots flash like fire! Their horses prance! 4Chariots dash wildly through the streets, rushing back and forth in the city squares. They flash like torches and dart about like lightning. 5The officers are summoned; they stumble as they press forward. The attackers rush to the wall and set up the shield for the battering ram. 6The gates by the river burst open; the palace is filled with terror. 7The queen is taken captive; her servants moan like doves and beat their breasts in sorrow. 8Like water from a broken dam the people rush from Nineveh! “Stop! Stop!” the cry rings out—but no one turns back. 9Plunder the silver! Plunder the gold! The city is full of treasure! 10Nineveh is destroyed, deserted, desolate! Hearts melt with fear; knees tremble, strength is gone; faces grow pale. 11Where now is the city that was like a den of lions, the place where young lions were fed, where the lion and the lioness would go and their cubs would be safe? 12The lion killed his prey and tore it to pieces for his mate and her cubs; he filled his den with torn flesh. 13“I am your enemy!” says the Lord Almighty. “I will burn up your chariots. Your soldiers will be killed in war, and I will take away everything that you took from others. The demands of your envoys will no longer be heard.”

–from Nahum 2

What do you want to be known for? How are you living your life? What is your legacy?

1Doomed is the lying, murderous city, full of wealth to be looted and plundered! 2Listen! The crack of the whip, the rattle of wheels, the gallop of horses, the jolting of chariots! 3Cavalry troops charge, swords flash, spears gleam! Corpses are piled high, dead bodies without number—men stumble over them! 4Nineveh the whore is being punished. Attractive and full of deadly charms, she enchanted nations and enslaved them. 5The Lord Almighty says, “I will punish you, Nineveh! I will strip you naked and let the nations see you, see you in all your shame. 6I will treat you with contempt and cover you with filth. People will stare at you in horror. 7All who see you will shrink back. They will say, ‘Nineveh lies in ruins! Who has any sympathy for her? Who will want to comfort her?’” 8Nineveh, are you any better than Thebes, the capital of Egypt? She too had a river to protect her like a wall—the Nile was her defense. 9She ruled Ethiopia and Egypt, there was no limit to her power; Libya was her ally. 10Yet the people of Thebes were carried off into exile. At every street corner their children were beaten to death. Their leading men were carried off in chains and divided among their captors. 11Nineveh, you too will fall into a drunken stupor! You too will try to escape from your enemies. 12All your fortresses will be like fig trees with ripe figs: shake the trees, and the fruit falls right into your mouth! 13Your soldiers are helpless, and your country stands defenseless before your enemies. Fire will destroy the bars across your gates. 14Draw water to prepare for a siege, and strengthen your fortresses! Trample the clay to make bricks, and get the brick molds ready! 15No matter what you do, you will still be burned to death or killed in battle. You will be wiped out like crops eaten up by locusts. You multiplied like locusts! 16You produced more merchants than there are stars in the sky! But now they are gone, like locusts that spread their wings and fly away. 17Your officials are like a swarm of locusts that stay in the walls on a cold day. But when the sun comes out, they fly away, and no one knows where they have gone! 18Emperor of Assyria, your governors are dead, and your noblemen are asleep forever! Your people are scattered on the mountains, and there is no one to bring them home again. 19There is no remedy for your injuries, and your wounds cannot be healed. All those who hear the news of your destruction clap their hands for joy. Did anyone escape your endless cruelty?

–from Nahum 3

Oh the pain…oh the suffering

Some say no pain, no gain! Is it true? Is it worth it? Is there a purpose? Is there a reason? Is there hope? We know that in this world we will face troubles, but that we can take heart because Jesus overcame it. We know that we are to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds because it develops stuff in us and will make us complete and lacking nothing. How about everything that Jesus went through? He took it all so that we could be redeemed! He took it all so that we could be reconciled! He took it all so that there would be a way! We can’t get there or do it on our own, so He made a way! We are saved by face through grace! Not because we are so good or we deserve it, but because of what Jesus was willing to do!

1Then Pilate took Jesus and had him whipped. 2The soldiers made a crown out of thorny branches and put it on his head; then they put a purple robe on him 3and came to him and said, “Long live the King of the Jews!” And they went up and slapped him. 4Pilate went back out once more and said to the crowd, “Look, I will bring him out here to you to let you see that I cannot find any reason to condemn him.” 5So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Look! Here is the man!” 6When the chief priests and the Temple guards saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “You take him, then, and crucify him. I find no reason to condemn him.” 7The crowd answered back, “We have a law that says he ought to die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” 8When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid. 9He went back into the palace and asked Jesus, “Where do you come from?” But Jesus did not answer. 10Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Remember, I have the authority to set you free and also to have you crucified.” 11Jesus answered, “You have authority over me only because it was given to you by God. So the man who handed me over to you is guilty of a worse sin.” 12When Pilate heard this, he tried to find a way to set Jesus free. But the crowd shouted back, “If you set him free, that means that you are not the Emperor’s friend! Anyone who claims to be a king is a rebel against the Emperor!” 13When Pilate heard these words, he took Jesus outside and sat down on the judge’s seat in the place called “The Stone Pavement.” (In Hebrew the name is “Gabbatha.”) 14It was then almost noon of the day before the Passover. Pilate said to the people, “Here is your king!” 15They shouted back, “Kill him! Kill him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Do you want me to crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “The only king we have is the Emperor!” 16Then Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be crucified.

–from John 19

Ever been through so much and wondered if it could get any worse? Ever been through so much and wondered is there a purpose in this? Ever wondered what the benefit and outcome will be? God is good and His plans for us are good! His plans are for us to be able to have a hope and a future! So don’t give up!

The Two Beasts

1Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads; on each of its horns there was a crown, and on each of its heads there was a name that was insulting to God. 2The beast looked like a leopard, with feet like a bear’s feet and a mouth like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave the beast his own power, his throne, and his vast authority. 3One of the heads of the beast seemed to have been fatally wounded, but the wound had healed. The whole earth was amazed and followed the beast. 4Everyone worshiped the dragon because he had given his authority to the beast. They worshiped the beast also, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who can fight against it?” 5The beast was allowed to make proud claims which were insulting to God, and it was permitted to have authority for forty-two months. 6It began to curse God, his name, the place where he lives, and all those who live in heaven. 7It was allowed to fight against God’s people and to defeat them, and it was given authority over every tribe, nation, language, and race. 8All people living on earth will worship it, except those whose names were written before the creation of the world in the book of the living which belongs to the Lamb that was killed. 9“Listen, then, if you have ears! 10Whoever is meant to be captured will surely be captured; whoever is meant to be killed by the sword will surely be killed by the sword. This calls for endurance and faith on the part of God’s people.” 11Then I saw another beast, which came up out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb’s horns, and it spoke like a dragon. 12It used the vast authority of the first beast in its presence. It forced the earth and all who live on it to worship the first beast, whose wound had healed. 13This second beast performed great miracles; it made fire come down out of heaven to earth in the sight of everyone. 14And it deceived all the people living on earth by means of the miracles which it was allowed to perform in the presence of the first beast. The beast told them to build an image in honor of the beast that had been wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15The second beast was allowed to breathe life into the image of the first beast, so that the image could talk and put to death all those who would not worship it. 16The beast forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, slave and free, to have a mark placed on their right hands or on their foreheads. 17No one could buy or sell without this mark, that is, the beast’s name or the number that stands for the name. 18This calls for wisdom. Whoever is intelligent can figure out the meaning of the number of the beast, because the number stands for the name of someone. Its number is 666.

–from Revelation 13

Don’t give up! Don’t grow weary in doing what is good! Develop your relationship with God! Invite Jesus into your heart! It may not be easy, but in the end, it will be worth it!

1-2Be patient and listen a little longer to what I am saying on God’s behalf. 3My knowledge is wide; I will use what I know to show that God, my Creator, is just. 4Nothing I say to you is false; you see before you a truly wise man. 5How strong God is! He despises no one; there is nothing he doesn’t understand. 6He does not let sinners live on, and he always treats the poor with justice. 7He protects those who are righteous; he allows them to rule like kings and lets them be honored forever. 8But if people are bound in chains, suffering for what they have done, 9God shows them their sins and their pride. 10He makes them listen to his warning to turn away from evil. 11If they obey God and serve him, they live out their lives in peace and prosperity. 12But if not, they will die in ignorance and cross the stream into the world of the dead. 13Those who are godless keep on being angry, and even when punished, they don’t pray for help. 14They die while they are still young, worn out by a life of disgrace. 15But God teaches people through suffering and uses distress to open their eyes.

–from Job 36

Let the joy of the Lord be your strength! Let it be about more than just emotions! Let God’s wisdom and discernment lead you and guide your every step!

The Lord’s Case against Israel

1Listen to the Lord’s case against Israel. Arise, O Lord, and present your case; let the mountains and the hills hear what you say. 2You mountains, you everlasting foundations of the earth, listen to the Lord’s case! The Lord has a case against his people. He is going to bring an accusation against Israel. 3The Lord says, “My people, what have I done to you? How have I been a burden to you? Answer me. 4I brought you out of Egypt; I rescued you from slavery; I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to lead you. 5My people, remember what King Balak of Moab planned to do to you and how Balaam son of Beor answered him. Remember the things that happened on the way from the camp at Acacia to Gilgal. Remember these things and you will realize what I did in order to save you.”

What the Lord Requires

6What shall I bring to the Lord, the God of heaven, when I come to worship him? Shall I bring the best calves to burn as offerings to him? 7Will the Lord be pleased if I bring him thousands of sheep or endless streams of olive oil? Shall I offer him my first-born child to pay for my sins? 8No, the Lord has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God. 9It is wise to fear the Lord. He calls to the city, “Listen, you people who assemble in the city! 10In the houses of evil people are treasures which they got dishonestly. They use false measures, a thing that I hate. 11How can I forgive those who use false scales and weights? 12Your rich people exploit the poor, and all of you are liars. 13So I have already begun your ruin and destruction because of your sins. 14You will eat, but not be satisfied—in fact you will still be hungry. You will carry things off, but you will not be able to save them; anything you do save I will destroy in war. 15You will sow grain, but not harvest the crop. You will press oil from olives, but never get to use it. You will make wine, but never drink it. 16This will happen because you have followed the evil practices of King Omri and of his son, King Ahab. You have continued their policies, and so I will bring you to ruin, and everyone will despise you. People everywhere will treat you with contempt.”

–from Micah 6

What way will you go? What plan will you follow? Do you have a north star, a compass for your life? How do you know what to do and where to go? How do you know if you are going the right way?

Israel’s Moral Corruption

1It’s hopeless! I am like a hungry person who finds no fruit left on the trees and no grapes on the vines. All the grapes and all the tasty figs have been picked. 2There is not an honest person left in the land, no one loyal to God. Everyone is waiting for a chance to commit murder. Everyone hunts down their own people. 3They are all experts at doing evil. Officials and judges ask for bribes. The influential people tell them what they want, and so they scheme together. 4Even the best and most honest of them are as worthless as weeds.
The day has come when God will punish the people, as he warned them through their watchmen, the prophets. Now they are in confusion. 5Don’t believe your neighbor or trust your friend. Be careful what you say even to your husband or wife. 6In these times sons treat their fathers like fools, daughters oppose their mothers, and young women quarrel with their mothers-in-law; your enemies are the members of your own family. 7But I will watch for the Lord; I will wait confidently for God, who will save me. My God will hear me.

The Lord Brings Salvation

8Our enemies have no reason to gloat over us. We have fallen, but we will rise again. We are in darkness now, but the Lord will give us light. 9We have sinned against the Lord, so now we must endure his anger for a while. But in the end he will defend us and right the wrongs that have been done to us. He will bring us out to the light; we will live to see him save us. 10Then our enemies will see this and be disgraced—the same enemies who taunted us by asking, “Where is the Lord your God?” We will see them defeated, trampled down like mud in the streets. 11People of Jerusalem, the time to rebuild the city walls is coming. At that time your territory will be enlarged. 12Your people will return to you from everywhere—from Assyria in the east, from Egypt in the south, from the region of the Euphrates River, from distant seas and far-off mountains. 13But the earth will become a desert because of the wickedness of those who live on it.

The Lord’s Compassion on Israel

14Be a shepherd to your people, Lord, the people you have chosen. Although they live apart in the wilderness, there is fertile land around them. Let them go and feed in the rich pastures of Bashan and Gilead, as they did long ago. 15Work miracles for us, Lord, as you did in the days when you brought us out of Egypt. 16The nations will see this and be frustrated in spite of all their strength. In dismay they will close their mouths and cover their ears. 17They will crawl in the dust like snakes; they will come from their fortresses, trembling and afraid. They will turn in fear to the Lord our God. 18There is no other god like you, O Lord; you forgive the sins of your people who have survived. You do not stay angry forever, but you take pleasure in showing us your constant love. 19You will be merciful to us once again. You will trample our sins underfoot and send them to the bottom of the sea! 20You will show your faithfulness and constant love to your people, the descendants of Abraham and of Jacob, as you promised our ancestors long ago.

–from Micah 7

You’ve been given the authority to decide…What are you going to do about it?

Ever been in a situation where you are put in the position to make the tough decision? Ever been in a situation where you need to decide the outcome? Did you look for a way out? Did you look for wisdom? Where did you turn? Who did you talk to about it? How do you know what is right or wrong? How do you know what the penalty should be? Is it just? Is it too severe? Do you care? Do you give people choices? Do you manage what options are available? How do you control the situation?

This morning’s reading starts with just such a situation…

Jesus before Pilate

(Matthew 27.1, 2, 11-14; Mark 15.1-5; Luke 23.1-5)

28Early in the morning Jesus was taken from Caiaphas’ house to the governor’s palace. The Jewish authorities did not go inside the palace, for they wanted to keep themselves ritually clean, in order to be able to eat the Passover meal. 29So Pilate went outside to them and asked, “What do you accuse this man of?”
30Their answer was, “We would not have brought him to you if he had not committed a crime.”
31Pilate said to them, “Then you yourselves take him and try him according to your own law.” They replied, “We are not allowed to put anyone to death.” ( 32This happened in order to make come true what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he would die.)
33Pilate went back into the palace and called Jesus. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him.
34Jesus answered, “Does this question come from you or have others told you about me?”
35Pilate replied, “Do you think I am a Jew? It was your own people and the chief priests who handed you over to me. What have you done?”
36Jesus said, “My kingdom does not belong to this world; if my kingdom belonged to this world, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. No, my kingdom does not belong here!”
37So Pilate asked him, “Are you a king, then?”
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. I was born and came into the world for this one purpose, to speak about the truth. Whoever belongs to the truth listens to me.”
38“And what is truth?” Pilate asked.

Jesus Is Sentenced to Death

(Matthew 27.15-31; Mark 15.6-20; Luke 23.13-25)

Then Pilate went back outside to the people and said to them, “I cannot find any reason to condemn him. 39But according to the custom you have, I always set free a prisoner for you during the Passover. Do you want me to set free for you the king of the Jews?”
40They answered him with a shout, “No, not him! We want Barabbas!” (Barabbas was a bandit.)

–from John 18

What if you were on the other side? What if you were innocent and they were ready to condemn you? What if pride was driving the decision? How would you feel? How would you respond? Will you break the chains by the blood Jesus shed on the cross and the truth of your testimonies about how God has transformed your lives? Will you stand on the truth?

The Woman and the Dragon

1Then a great and mysterious sight appeared in the sky. There was a woman, whose dress was the sun and who had the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2She was soon to give birth, and the pains and suffering of childbirth made her cry out.
3Another mysterious sight appeared in the sky. There was a huge red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and a crown on each of his heads. 4With his tail he dragged a third of the stars out of the sky and threw them down to the earth. He stood in front of the woman, in order to eat her child as soon as it was born. 5Then she gave birth to a son, who will rule over all nations with an iron rod. But the child was snatched away and taken to God and his throne. 6The woman fled to the desert, to a place God had prepared for her, where she will be taken care of for 1,260 days.
7Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, who fought back with his angels; 8but the dragon was defeated, and he and his angels were not allowed to stay in heaven any longer. 9The huge dragon was thrown out—that ancient serpent, named the Devil, or Satan, that deceived the whole world. He was thrown down to earth, and all his angels with him.
10Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, “Now God’s salvation has come! Now God has shown his power as King! Now his Messiah has shown his authority! For the one who stood before our God and accused believers day and night has been thrown out of heaven. 11They won the victory over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the truth which they proclaimed; and they were willing to give up their lives and die. 12And so be glad, you heavens, and all you that live there! But how terrible for the earth and the sea! For the Devil has come down to you, and he is filled with rage, because he knows that he has only a little time left.”
13When the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he began to pursue the woman who had given birth to the boy. 14She was given the two wings of a large eagle in order to fly to her place in the desert, where she will be taken care of for three and a half years, safe from the dragon’s attack. 15And then from his mouth the dragon poured out a flood of water after the woman, so that it would carry her away. 16But the earth helped the woman; it opened its mouth and swallowed the water that had come from the dragon’s mouth. 17The dragon was furious with the woman and went off to fight against the rest of her descendants, all those who obey God’s commandments and are faithful to the truth revealed by Jesus. 18And the dragon stood on the seashore.

–from Revelation 12

It’s not about what we do and don’t do, it’s about walking in relationship with God! With Jesus at our side, He gives us wisdom and discernment through the Holy Spirit! Living in relationship with Him, we are able to find peace and courage to do more than we could have ever asked or imagined through Christ who strengthens us! It is so much bigger than our abilities! God has gifted us with talents for a purpose! So let’s live a purpose filled life! Let’s worship the creator rather than the created!

1-2It is not right, Job, for you to say that you are innocent in God’s sight, 3or to ask God, “How does my sin affect you? What have I gained by not sinning?” 4I am going to answer you and your friends too. 5Look at the sky! See how high the clouds are! 6If you sin, that does no harm to God. If you do wrong many times, does that affect him? 7Do you help God by being so righteous? There is nothing God needs from you. 8Others suffer from your sins, and the good you do helps them. 9When people are oppressed, they groan; they cry for someone to save them. 10But they don’t turn to God, their Creator, who gives them hope in their darkest hours. 11They don’t turn to God, who makes us wise, wiser than any animal or bird. 12They cry for help, but God doesn’t answer, for they are proud and evil. 13It is useless for them to cry out; Almighty God does not see or hear them. 14Job, you say you can’t see God; but wait patiently—your case is before him. 15You think that God does not punish, that he pays little attention to sin. 16It is useless for you to go on talking; it is clear you don’t know what you are saying.

–from Job 35

Do you want peace? True peace? A peace that goes beyond all understanding?

The Lord’s Universal Reign of Peace

(Isaiah 2.2-4)

1In days to come the mountain where the Temple stands will be the highest one of all, towering above all the hills. Many nations will come streaming to it, 2and their people will say, “Let us go up the hill of the Lord, to the Temple of Israel’s God. He will teach us what he wants us to do; we will walk in the paths he has chosen. For the Lord’s teaching comes from Jerusalem; from Zion he speaks to his people.” 3He will settle disputes among the nations, among the great powers near and far. They will hammer their swords into plows and their spears into pruning knives. Nations will never again go to war, never prepare for battle again. 4Everyone will live in peace among their own vineyards and fig trees, and no one will make them afraid. The Lord Almighty has promised this. 5Each nation worships and obeys its own god, but we will worship and obey the Lord our God forever and ever.

Israel Will Return from Exile

6“The time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will gather together the people I punished, those who have suffered in exile. 7They are crippled and far from home, but I will make a new beginning with those who are left, and they will become a great nation. I will rule over them on Mount Zion from that time on and forever.”
8And you, Jerusalem, where God, like a shepherd from his lookout tower, watches over his people, will once again be the capital of the kingdom that was yours. 9Why do you cry out so loudly? Why are you suffering like a woman in labor? Is it because you have no king, and your counselors are dead? 10Twist and groan, people of Jerusalem, like a woman giving birth, for now you will have to leave the city and live in the open country. You will have to go to Babylon, but there the Lord will save you from your enemies. 11Many nations have gathered to attack you. They say, “Jerusalem must be destroyed! We will see this city in ruins!” 12But these nations do not know what is in the Lord’s mind. They do not realize that they have been gathered together to be punished in the same way that grain is brought in to be threshed.
13The Lord says, “People of Jerusalem, go and punish your enemies! I will make you as strong as a bull with iron horns and bronze hoofs. You will crush many nations, and the wealth they got by violence you will present to me, the Lord of the whole world.”

–from Micah 4

Jesus is the answer to your prayers, your hopes, and your dreams! By receiving him into your heart, your life will be transformed! When will you receive Him? When will you choose life? Is today your day?

1People of Jerusalem, gather your forces! We are besieged! They are attacking the leader of Israel!

God Promises a Ruler from Bethlehem

2The Lord says, “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are one of the smallest towns in Judah, but out of you I will bring a ruler for Israel, whose family line goes back to ancient times.”
3So the Lord will abandon his people to their enemies until the woman who is to give birth has her son. Then those Israelites who are in exile will be reunited with their own people. 4When he comes, he will rule his people with the strength that comes from the Lord and with the majesty of the Lord God himself. His people will live in safety because people all over the earth will acknowledge his greatness, 5and he will bring peace.

Deliverance and Punishment

When the Assyrians invade our country and break through our defenses, we will send our strongest leaders to fight them. 6By force of arms they will conquer Assyria, the land of Nimrod, and they will save us from the Assyrians when they invade our territory. 7The people of Israel who survive will be like refreshing dew sent by the Lord for many nations, like showers on growing plants. They will depend on God, not people. 8Those who are left among the nations will be like a lion hunting for food in a forest or a pasture: it gets in among the sheep, pounces on them, and tears them to pieces—and there is no hope of rescue. 9Israel will conquer her enemies and destroy them all. 10The Lord says, “At that time I will take away your horses and destroy your chariots. 11I will destroy the cities in your land and tear down all your defenses. 12I will destroy the magic charms you use and leave you without any fortunetellers. 13I will destroy your idols and sacred stone pillars; no longer will you worship the things that you yourselves have made. 14I will pull down the images of the goddess Asherah in your land and destroy your cities. 15And in my great anger I will take revenge on all nations that have not obeyed me.”

–from Micah 5