Do you care?


I know I do. What will you do about it? What will you say about it? Will you think about it?

Do you care?

Do you realize what will happen if they don’t turn back? Do you realize what will happen if they keep going it their own way? Do you realize what will happen if they never hear the truth? Do you realize what will happen if they never see the truth? Do you realize what will happen if they never experience the truth?

Do you care?

Will you step up before it is too late? Will you step out before it is over? Will you do something to make a difference?

If not now then when? If you here then where? If not you then who?

Do you care?

What about your family? What about your neighbors? What about your country?

Do you care?

So how will you make a difference today that will let them know how much you care? How will you speak to them or demonstrate to them in a way that they can receive? Something that is worthwhile? Something that shows them they are worth it? Something that shows them that they are valuable? Something that shows them how much they mean to you? Something that goes beyond you! Something that points them to how much God loves them!

Do you care enough to tell the truth? Do you care enough to share love? Do you care enough to be inconvenienced? Do you care enough to persevere through the trials? Do you care enough to work through the troubles? Do you care enough to even provide for your enemy? Would you give them food if they were hungry? Would you give them water if they were thirsty? Do you care enough to not seek revenge? Do you care enough to overcome evil with good? Do you care enough to submit yourself to authority? Do you care enough to be a servant leader when put into a position of leadership? Do you care enough to seek God’s will? Do you care enough to point others in that direction? Do you care enough to forgive? Do you care enough to be forgiven? Do you care enough to lead with justice rather than anger? Do you care enough to walk out life with thanksgiving? Do you care enough to give God praise? Do you care enough to receive and to share God’s lovingkindness with the world around you? Do you care enough to provide a legacy? Do you care enough to put aside your title, your position, your heritage and just love others and share Jesus with them? Do you care enough to make sure others are treated fairly? Do you care enough to let others know so that they treat you and other fairly? Do you care enough to make sure others are delivered or freed? Do you care enough to work together? Do you care enough to entrust yourself …

in great endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in troubles, in sleeplessness, in hunger; in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Ruach ha-Kodesh, in genuine love, in truthful speech, in the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through honor and dishonor, through evil report and good report. We are regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown and yet well-known; as dying, yet behold, we live; as disciplined yet not put to death; as grieving yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing yet possessing everything.

–from 2 Corinthians 6:4-10

Do you care?


Today’s reading comes from Jeremiah 9, 10, Psalm 100, Acts 22, and 2 Corinthians 6.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Benefits of alignment with God…


Do you realize there is such thing as absolute truth? Do you realize there is such thing as right and wrong? Do you realize there is such thing as good and evil? Do you realize that we all get to choose? Do you realize that our choices have outcomes? Do you realize that our decisions and our actions have consequences? Do you realize that your thoughts do matter? Do you realize that your beliefs do matter? Do you realize that your actions are driven by them both?

So when you think about your life, how are you aligned? What is the impact of that alignment on yourself and on the world around you?

Are you being fair to one another? Are you taking advantage of others? Are you worshipping people or things that won’t help and are leading you down a trail to destruction? Are you putting your trust in things that will return void? will have no return? Are you living a life that being deceptive? stealing? killing? committing adultery? lying under oath? Do you see this being done by others? If you see something, do you say something?

Why not turn to God and align with Him by being obedient to His commands?

What will happen if you get what you want?

Will be the outcomes and consequences?


Let’s consider what Jeremiah has to share today as there are many parallels throughout time with what is taking place right now…

Jeremiah Speaks at the Temple

1The lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2“Go to the entrance of the lord’s Temple, and give this message to the people: ‘O Judah, listen to this message from the lord! Listen to it, all of you who worship here! 3This is what the lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:
“‘Even now, if you quit your evil ways, I will let you stay in your own land. 4But don’t be fooled by those who promise you safety simply because the lord’s Temple is here. They chant, “The lord’s Temple is here! The lord’s Temple is here!” 5But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; 6only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. 7Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever.
8“‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! 9Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, 10and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, “We are safe!”—only to go right back to all those evils again? 11Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the lord, have spoken!
12“‘Go now to the place at Shiloh where I once put the Tabernacle that bore my name. See what I did there because of all the wickedness of my people, the Israelites. 13While you were doing these wicked things, says the lord, I spoke to you about it repeatedly, but you would not listen. I called out to you, but you refused to answer. 14So just as I destroyed Shiloh, I will now destroy this Temple that bears my name, this Temple that you trust in for help, this place that I gave to you and your ancestors. 15And I will send you out of my sight into exile, just as I did your relatives, the people of Israel.’

Judah’s Persistent Idolatry

16“Pray no more for these people, Jeremiah. Do not weep or pray for them, and don’t beg me to help them, for I will not listen to you. 17Don’t you see what they are doing throughout the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18No wonder I am so angry! Watch how the children gather wood and the fathers build sacrificial fires. See how the women knead dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. And they pour out liquid offerings to their other idol gods! 19Am I the one they are hurting?” asks the lord. “Most of all, they hurt themselves, to their own shame.”
20So this is what the Sovereign lord says: “I will pour out my terrible fury on this place. Its people, animals, trees, and crops will be consumed by the unquenchable fire of my anger.”
21This is what the lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Take your burnt offerings and your other sacrifices and eat them yourselves! 22When I led your ancestors out of Egypt, it was not burnt offerings and sacrifices I wanted from them. 23This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’
24“But my people would not listen to me. They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward. 25From the day your ancestors left Egypt until now, I have continued to send my servants, the prophets—day in and day out. 26But my people have not listened to me or even tried to hear. They have been stubborn and sinful—even worse than their ancestors.
27“Tell them all this, but do not expect them to listen. Shout out your warnings, but do not expect them to respond. 28Say to them, ‘This is the nation whose people will not obey the lord their God and who refuse to be taught. Truth has vanished from among them; it is no longer heard on their lips. 29Shave your head in mourning, and weep alone on the mountains. For the lord has rejected and forsaken this generation that has provoked his fury.’

The Valley of Slaughter

30“The people of Judah have sinned before my very eyes,” says the lord. “They have set up their abominable idols right in the Temple that bears my name, defiling it. 31They have built pagan shrines at Topheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing! 32So beware, for the time is coming,” says the lord, “when that garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. They will bury the bodies in Topheth until there is no more room for them. 33The bodies of my people will be food for the vultures and wild animals, and no one will be left to scare them away. 34I will put an end to the happy singing and laughter in the streets of Jerusalem. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard in the towns of Judah. The land will lie in complete desolation.

–from Jeremiah 7

Do you hear what the news is telling you? Do you hear how it varies by source? Do you know what is truth? Do you realize which is truth and which is deception? Do you realize what is truth and what is false?

Do you see where you are at? Did you fall down? Will you get back up? Are you on the wrong road? Will you turn around in order to get back on track?

I really don’t want to see history repeat itself and watch people walk away from God and not turn back. I don’t want them to fall and not get back up. I don’t want them to be clueless of where they are at. The truth will set them free — if they are willing to hear it and receive it!

Don’t be deceived by greed! Don’t be deceived by frauds!

Do you know Jesus? Or do you have a peace which really isn’t peaceful.

Do you know Jesus and even in the midst of chaos or craziness you are able to find a peace that goes beyond all understanding?

Do you know Jesus? Or do you have a hope that is more like wishing?

Do you know Jesus and even in the midst of trials and troubles you have hope beyond your circumstances?

1“In that day,” says the lord, “the enemy will break open the graves of the kings and officials of Judah, and the graves of the priests, prophets, and common people of Jerusalem. 2They will spread out their bones on the ground before the sun, moon, and stars—the gods my people have loved, served, and worshiped. Their bones will not be gathered up again or buried but will be scattered on the ground like manure. 3And the people of this evil nation who survive will wish to die rather than live where I will send them. I, the lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!

Deception by False Prophets

4“Jeremiah, say to the people, ‘This is what the lord says:
“‘When people fall down, don’t they get up again?
When they discover they’re on the wrong road, don’t they turn back?
5Then why do these people stay on their self-destructive path?
Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back?
They cling tightly to their lies
and will not turn around.
6I listen to their conversations
and don’t hear a word of truth.
Is anyone sorry for doing wrong?
Does anyone say, “What a terrible thing I have done”?
No! All are running down the path of sin
as swiftly as a horse galloping into battle!
7Even the stork that flies across the sky
knows the time of her migration,
as do the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane.
They all return at the proper time each year.
But not my people!
They do not know the lord’s laws.
8“‘How can you say, “We are wise because we have the word of the lord,”
when your teachers have twisted it by writing lies?
9These wise teachers will fall
into the trap of their own foolishness,
for they have rejected the word of the lord.
Are they so wise after all?
10I will give their wives to others
and their farms to strangers.
From the least to the greatest,
their lives are ruled by greed.
Yes, even my prophets and priests are like that.
They are all frauds.
11They offer superficial treatments
for my people’s mortal wound.
They give assurances of peace
when there is no peace.
12Are they ashamed of these disgusting actions?
Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush!
Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered.
They will be brought down when I punish them,
says the lord.
13I will surely consume them.
There will be no more harvests of figs and grapes.
Their fruit trees will all die.
Whatever I gave them will soon be gone.
I, the lord, have spoken!’
14“Then the people will say,
‘Why should we wait here to die?
Come, let’s go to the fortified towns and die there.
For the lord our God has decreed our destruction
and has given us a cup of poison to drink
because we sinned against the lord.
15We hoped for peace, but no peace came.
We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.’
16“The snorting of the enemies’ warhorses can be heard
all the way from the land of Dan in the north!
The neighing of their stallions makes the whole land tremble.
They are coming to devour the land and everything in it—
cities and people alike.
17I will send these enemy troops among you
like poisonous snakes you cannot charm.
They will bite you, and you will die.
I, the lord, have spoken!”

Jeremiah Weeps for Sinful Judah

18My grief is beyond healing;
my heart is broken.
19Listen to the weeping of my people;
it can be heard all across the land.
“Has the lord abandoned Jerusalem?” the people ask.
“Is her King no longer there?”
“Oh, why have they provoked my anger with their carved idols
and their worthless foreign gods?” says the lord.
20“The harvest is finished,
and the summer is gone,” the people cry,
“yet we are not saved!”
21I hurt with the hurt of my people.
I mourn and am overcome with grief.
22Is there no medicine in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why is there no healing
for the wounds of my people?

–from Jeremiah 8

Would you rather make a course correction or get corrected? Are you willing to do what is right no matter the consequences? Are you willing to be obedient to God no matter the warnings? Are you more interested in your eternity than your present?

Paul’s Journey to Jerusalem

1After saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and then went to Patara. 2There we boarded a ship sailing for Phoenicia. 3We sighted the island of Cyprus, passed it on our left, and landed at the harbor of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship was to unload its cargo.
4We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week. These believers prophesied through the Holy Spirit that Paul should not go on to Jerusalem. 5When we returned to the ship at the end of the week, the entire congregation, including women and children, left the city and came down to the shore with us. There we knelt, prayed, 6and said our farewells. Then we went aboard, and they returned home.
7The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed for one day. 8The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food. 9He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy.
10Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. 11He came over, took Paul’s belt, and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit declares, ‘So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles.’” 12When we heard this, we and the local believers all begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.
13But he said, “Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.” 14When it was clear that we couldn’t persuade him, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

Paul Arrives at Jerusalem

15After this we packed our things and left for Jerusalem. 16Some believers from Caesarea accompanied us, and they took us to the home of Mnason, a man originally from Cyprus and one of the early believers. 17When we arrived, the brothers and sisters in Jerusalem welcomed us warmly.
18The next day Paul went with us to meet with James, and all the elders of the Jerusalem church were present. 19After greeting them, Paul gave a detailed account of the things God had accomplished among the Gentiles through his ministry.
20After hearing this, they praised God. And then they said, “You know, dear brother, how many thousands of Jews have also believed, and they all follow the law of Moses very seriously. 21But the Jewish believers here in Jerusalem have been told that you are teaching all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn their backs on the laws of Moses. They’ve heard that you teach them not to circumcise their children or follow other Jewish customs. 22What should we do? They will certainly hear that you have come.
23“Here’s what we want you to do. We have four men here who have completed their vow. 24Go with them to the Temple and join them in the purification ceremony, paying for them to have their heads ritually shaved. Then everyone will know that the rumors are all false and that you yourself observe the Jewish laws.
25“As for the Gentile believers, they should do what we already told them in a letter: They should abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality.”

Paul Is Arrested

26So Paul went to the Temple the next day with the other men. They had already started the purification ritual, so he publicly announced the date when their vows would end and sacrifices would be offered for each of them.
27The seven days were almost ended when some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the Temple and roused a mob against him. They grabbed him, 28yelling, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who preaches against our people everywhere and tells everybody to disobey the Jewish laws. He speaks against the Temple—and even defiles this holy place by bringing in Gentiles.” 29(For earlier that day they had seen him in the city with Trophimus, a Gentile from Ephesus, and they assumed Paul had taken him into the Temple.)
30The whole city was rocked by these accusations, and a great riot followed. Paul was grabbed and dragged out of the Temple, and immediately the gates were closed behind him. 31As they were trying to kill him, word reached the commander of the Roman regiment that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32He immediately called out his soldiers and officers and ran down among the crowd. When the mob saw the commander and the troops coming, they stopped beating Paul.
33Then the commander arrested him and ordered him bound with two chains. He asked the crowd who he was and what he had done. 34Some shouted one thing and some another. Since he couldn’t find out the truth in all the uproar and confusion, he ordered that Paul be taken to the fortress. 35As Paul reached the stairs, the mob grew so violent the soldiers had to lift him to their shoulders to protect him. 36And the crowd followed behind, shouting, “Kill him, kill him!”

Paul Speaks to the Crowd

37As Paul was about to be taken inside, he said to the commander, “May I have a word with you?”
“Do you know Greek?” the commander asked, surprised. 38“Aren’t you the Egyptian who led a rebellion some time ago and took 4,000 members of the Assassins out into the desert?”
39“No,” Paul replied, “I am a Jew and a citizen of Tarsus in Cilicia, which is an important city. Please, let me talk to these people.” 40The commander agreed, so Paul stood on the stairs and motioned to the people to be quiet. Soon a deep silence enveloped the crowd, and he addressed them in their own language, Aramaic.

–from Acts 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you see what is going on?


Take a look around and consider. Don’t just trust what you see on TV. Don’t just trust what you hear on the radio. Consider what information is available and surfacing.

Search the market place! Search the political space! Search the social place!

Can you find someone who is doing what is right? Can you find someone who is doing what is faithful to God? Can you find someone who really means what they say?

Will getting good things help you realize what is going on? Will getting corrected help you realize what is going on? Will getting instructed help you realize what is going on? How bad would things have to get to wake you up and get your attention? How sensitive are you to what is taking place around you?

Do you see the behavior? Do you know what God requires? Do you realize that God is in charge? Do you realize He has authority? Do you refuse to obey Him? Do you realize the pain and suffering that is taking place because of all of the disobedience? Do you realize the pain and suffering people are causing because of their bad behaviors? Hurting people hurt people!

Do you realize the power of forgiveness? The power of you forgiving others? The power of others forgiving you? The power of God’s forgiveness? Do you realize Jesus is the answer?

Will you turn back to God? Will you go back home to God? Will you ask Jesus into your heart? Will you stop rejecting God? Will you stop pushing Him away? Will you stop denying Him? Will you stop trying to be self sufficient? Will you stop trying to go it alone? Will you stop trying to do it all yourself?

Are you apart from God? Why did you leave God? Why haven’t you honored God? Why are you being stubborn? Why have you rebelled against God?

Do you realize there are good and bad people around you? The bad ones looking to trip you up? There is no limit or limits on what they are willing to do. Do you realize how they try to take away the rights of others? Do you realize they don’t provide justice or even equal justice to the oppressed? Do you hear lies from those you are supposed to trust? Do you hear lies from those who are supposed to be leading or in authority?

The battle belongs to the Lord! Vengeance is the Lord’s!

 


Today’s reading gets us started in Jeremiah…

The Sin of Jerusalem

1People of Jerusalem, run through your streets!
Look around! See for yourselves!
Search the marketplaces!
Can you find one person
who does what is right
and tries to be faithful to God?
If you can, the Lord will forgive Jerusalem.
2Even though you claim to worship the Lord,
you do not mean what you say.
3Surely the Lord looks for faithfulness.
He struck you, but you paid no attention;
he crushed you, but you refused to learn.
You were stubborn and would not turn from your sins.
4Then I thought, “These are only the poor and ignorant.
They behave foolishly;
they don’t know what their God requires,
what the Lord wants them to do.
5I will go to the people in power
and talk with them.
Surely they know what their God requires,
what the Lord wants them to do.”
But all of them have rejected the Lord’s authority
and refuse to obey him.
6That is why lions from the forest will kill them;
wolves from the desert will tear them to pieces,
and leopards will prowl through their towns.
If those people go out, they will be torn apart
because their sins are numerous
and time after time they have turned from God.
7The Lord asked, “Why should I forgive the sins of my people?
They have abandoned me
and have worshiped gods that are not real.
I fed my people until they were full,
but they committed adultery
and spent their time with prostitutes.
8They were like well-fed stallions wild with desire,
each lusting for his neighbor’s wife.
9Shouldn’t I punish them for these things
and take revenge on a nation such as this?
10I will send enemies to cut down my people’s vineyards,
but not to destroy them completely.
I will tell them to strip away the branches,
because those branches are not mine.
11The people of Israel and Judah
have betrayed me completely.
I, the Lord, have spoken.”

The Lord Rejects Israel

12The Lord’s people have denied him and have said, “He won’t really do anything. We won’t have hard times; we won’t have war or famine.” 13-14They have said that the prophets are nothing but windbags and that they have no message from the Lord. The Lord God Almighty said to me, “Jeremiah, because these people have said such things, I will make my words like a fire in your mouth. The people will be like wood, and the fire will burn them up.”
15People of Israel, the Lord is bringing a nation from far away to attack you. It is a strong and ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know. 16Their archers are mighty soldiers who kill without mercy. 17They will devour your crops and your food; they will kill your sons and your daughters. They will slaughter your flocks and your herds and destroy your vines and fig trees. The fortified cities in which you trust will be destroyed by their army.
18The Lord says, “Yet even in those days I will not completely destroy my people. 19When they ask why I did all these things, tell them, Jeremiah, that just as they turned away from me and served foreign gods in their own land, so they will serve strangers in a land that is not theirs.”

God Warns His People

20The Lord says, “Tell the descendants of Jacob, tell the people of Judah: 21 Pay attention, you foolish and stupid people, who have eyes, but cannot see, and have ears, but cannot hear. 22 I am the Lord; why don’t you fear me? Why don’t you tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary of the sea, a permanent boundary that it cannot cross. The sea may toss, but it cannot go beyond it; the waves may roar, but they cannot break through. 23But you people! You are stubborn and rebellious; you have turned aside and left me. 24You never thought to honor me, even though I send the autumn rains and the spring rains and give you the harvest season each year. 25Instead, your sins have kept these good things from you.
26“Evildoers live among my people; they lie in wait like those who lay nets to catch birds, but they have set their traps to catch people. 27Just as a hunter fills a cage with birds, they have filled their houses with loot. That is why they are powerful and rich, 28why they are fat and well fed. There is no limit to their evil deeds. They do not give orphans their rights or show justice to the oppressed.
29“But I, the Lord, will punish them for these things; I will take revenge on this nation. 30A terrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31prophets speak nothing but lies; priests rule as the prophets command, and my people offer no objections. But what will they do when it all comes to an end?”

–from Jeremiah 5

Do you see what is taking place? Do you see what is going on around you? Can you see beyond the physical realm into the real battle is is underway? Is there any message that would turn people and their hearts back to God? What do you think it would take nowadays?

Jerusalem Is Surrounded by Enemies

1People of Benjamin, run for safety! Escape from Jerusalem! Sound the trumpet in Tekoa and build a signal fire in Beth Haccherem. Disaster and destruction are about to come from the north. 2The city of Zion is beautiful, but it will be destroyed; 3kings will camp there with their armies. They will pitch their tents around the city, and each of them will camp wherever they want. 4They will say, “Prepare to attack Jerusalem! Get ready! We’ll attack at noon!” But then they will say, “It’s too late, the day is almost over, and the evening shadows are growing long. 5We’ll attack by night; we’ll destroy the city’s fortresses.”
6The Lord Almighty has ordered these kings to cut down trees and build mounds in order to besiege Jerusalem. He has said, “I will punish this city because it is full of oppression. 7As a well keeps its water fresh, so Jerusalem keeps its evil fresh. I hear violence and destruction in the city; sickness and wounds are all I see. 8People of Jerusalem, let these troubles be a warning to you, or else I will abandon you; I will turn your city into a desert, a place where no one lives.”

Rebellious Israel

9The Lord Almighty said to me, “Israel will be stripped clean like a vineyard from which every grape has been picked. So you must rescue everyone you can while there is still time.”
10I answered, “Who would listen to me if I spoke to them and warned them? They are stubborn and refuse to listen to your message; they laugh at what you tell me to say. 11Your anger against them burns in me too, Lord, and I can’t hold it in any longer.”
Then the Lord said to me, “Pour out my anger on the children in the streets and on the gatherings of the young people. Husbands and wives will be taken away, and even the very old will not be spared. 12Their houses will be given to others, and so will their fields and their wives. I am going to punish the people of this land. 13Everyone, great and small, tries to make money dishonestly; even prophets and priests cheat the people. 14 They act as if my people’s wounds were only scratches. ‘All is well,’ they say, when all is not well. 15 Were they ashamed because they did these disgusting things? No, they were not at all ashamed; they don’t even know how to blush. And so they will fall as others have fallen; when I punish them, that will be the end of them. I, the Lord, have spoken.”

Israel Rejects God’s Way

16The Lord said to his people, “Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths and where the best road is. Walk in it, and you will live in peace.”
But they said, “No, we will not!” 17Then the Lord appointed sentries to listen for the trumpet’s warning. But they said, “We will not listen.”
18So the Lord said, “Listen, you nations, and learn what is going to happen to my people. 19Listen, earth! As punishment for all their schemes I am bringing ruin on these people, because they have rejected my teaching and have not obeyed my words. 20What do I care about the incense they bring me from Sheba, or the spices from a distant land? I will not accept their offerings or be pleased with their sacrifices. 21And so I will make these people stumble and fall. Parents and children will die, and so will friends and neighbors.”
Invasion from the North
22The Lord says, “People are coming from a country in the north; a mighty nation far away is preparing for war. 23They have taken up their bows and swords; they are cruel and merciless. They sound like the roaring sea, as they ride their horses. They are ready for battle against Jerusalem.”
24“We have heard the news,” say the people of Jerusalem, “and our hands hang limp; we are seized by anguish and pain like a woman in labor. 25We don’t dare go to the countryside or walk on the roads, because our enemies are armed and terror is all around us.”
26The Lord says to his people, “Put on sackcloth and roll in ashes. Mourn with bitter tears as you would for an only child, because the one who comes to destroy you will suddenly attack. 27Jeremiah, test my people, as you would test metal, and find out what they are like. 28They are all stubborn rebels, hard as bronze and iron. They are all corrupt, going around and spreading gossip. 29The furnace burns fiercely, but the waste metals do not melt and run off. It is useless to go on refining my people, because those who are evil are not taken away. 30They will be called worthless dross, because I, the Lord, have rejected them.”

–from Jeremiah 6

Oh Jesus, give us wisdom for today! Oh Jesus, help us to see beyond our circumstances! Oh Jesus, help to have hope for what is yet to come when we spend eternity with you! Oh Jesus, that you that we have hope beyond our circumstances! Oh Jesus, help us to know what we need to do here and now while we await your return so that in and through it we can give you the praise, the honor, and the glory in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!

We know it won’t be easy! We know that not everyone will be ready to hear it! We know that we will face trials! We know we will face troubles! But we have hope thanks to Jesus!

To Macedonia and Achaia

1After the uproar died down, Paul called together the believers and with words of encouragement said good-bye to them. Then he left and went on to Macedonia. 2He went through those regions and encouraged the people with many messages. Then he came to Achaia, 3where he stayed three months. He was getting ready to go to Syria when he discovered that there were Jews plotting against him; so he decided to go back through Macedonia. 4Sopater son of Pyrrhus, from Berea, went with him; so did Aristarchus and Secundus, from Thessalonica; Gaius, from Derbe; Tychicus and Trophimus, from the province of Asia; and Timothy. 5They went ahead and waited for us in Troas. 6We sailed from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and five days later we joined them in Troas, where we spent a week.

Paul’s Last Visit to Troas

7On Saturday evening we gathered together for the fellowship meal. Paul spoke to the people and kept on speaking until midnight, since he was going to leave the next day. 8Many lamps were burning in the upstairs room where we were meeting. 9A young man named Eutychus was sitting in the window, and as Paul kept on talking, Eutychus got sleepier and sleepier, until he finally went sound asleep and fell from the third story to the ground. When they picked him up, he was dead. 10But Paul went down and threw himself on him and hugged him. “Don’t worry,” he said, “he is still alive!” 11Then he went back upstairs, broke bread, and ate. After talking with them for a long time, even until sunrise, Paul left. 12They took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.

From Troas to Miletus

13We went on ahead to the ship and sailed off to Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had told us to do this, because he was going there by land. 14When he met us in Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene. 15We sailed from there and arrived off Chios the next day. A day later we came to Samos, and the following day we reached Miletus. 16Paul had decided to sail on by Ephesus, so as not to lose any time in the province of Asia. He was in a hurry to arrive in Jerusalem by the day of Pentecost, if at all possible.

Paul’s Farewell Speech to the Elders of Ephesus

17From Miletus Paul sent a message to Ephesus, asking the elders of the church to meet him. 18When they arrived, he said to them, “You know how I spent the whole time I was with you, from the first day I arrived in the province of Asia. 19With all humility and many tears I did my work as the Lord’s servant during the hard times that came to me because of the plots of some Jews. 20You know that I did not hold back anything that would be of help to you as I preached and taught in public and in your homes. 21To Jews and Gentiles alike I gave solemn warning that they should turn from their sins to God and believe in our Lord Jesus. 22And now, in obedience to the Holy Spirit I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit has warned me that prison and troubles wait for me. 24 But I reckon my own life to be worth nothing to me; I only want to complete my mission and finish the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do, which is to declare the Good News about the grace of God.
25“I have gone about among all of you, preaching the Kingdom of God. And now I know that none of you will ever see me again. 26So I solemnly declare to you this very day: if any of you should be lost, I am not responsible. 27For I have not held back from announcing to you the whole purpose of God. 28So keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock which the Holy Spirit has placed in your care. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he made his own through the blood of his Son. 29I know that after I leave, fierce wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. 30The time will come when some men from your own group will tell lies to lead the believers away after them. 31Watch, then, and remember that with many tears, day and night, I taught every one of you for three years.
32“And now I commend you to the care of God and to the message of his grace, which is able to build you up and give you the blessings God has for all his people. 33I have not wanted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34You yourselves know that I have worked with these hands of mine to provide everything that my companions and I have needed. 35I have shown you in all things that by working hard in this way we must help the weak, remembering the words that the Lord Jesus himself said, ‘There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.’”
36When Paul finished, he knelt down with them and prayed. 37They were all crying as they hugged him and kissed him good-bye. 38They were especially sad because he had said that they would never see him again. And so they went with him to the ship.

— from Acts 20

 


 

 

 

How has the country been living?


Has it been living to higher standards or lowering them to the lowest common denominator? Has it been helping people up or holding them down? Has it been walking with integrity or has it turned its back and being corrupt? Has it been calling people to better ways or has it been trying to suppress them? Have words said one things and actions shown another? Are there people who seem to be thinking they are above the law? Are there people who seem to be thinking the law doesn’t apply to them? Is it a top down issue? Is it a systemic issue? Is it a legislative, judicial, and/or executive level issue?

Has it been walking away from it’s roots? Has it been trying to shake up a solid foundation? Has it been trying to pull its roots out from God? Has it been trying to do the opposite to His ways?

Have you noticed the impact? Have you noticed the implications? Have you noticed the pivot point we are at? There is a choice at hand and it will impact the country for generations to come! It goes beyond what will happen this year to decades and generations to come. What kind of country do you want to leave to the next generation? What kind of country do you want to grow old in? What kind of country do you want to experience? Consider the choices! Consider the implications! Consider the direction!

Consider God’s Word! Do you want this country to be aligned with God’s Word? Do you want this country to have to deal with the problems that come from being out from the cover and protection of the Lord? Consider the decisions that need to be made and which direction they will take us as a country!

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light! Jesus tells we will have troubles, but do we need to make decisions to expand or increase them? Jesus tells us we will have trials, but do we need to self-inflict them?

We all have a decision to make! Choose wisely! For the near term! For the longer term! For eternity! Choose Jesus and His way! We need to turn back to God! We need to humble ourselves! We need to ask for forgiveness! We need to forgive others! We need to turn from our wicked ways!


Today’s reading continues with the message from Jeremiah…

Unfaithful Israel

1The Lord says, “If a man divorces his wife, and she leaves him and becomes another man’s wife, he cannot take her back again. This would completely defile the land. But, Israel, you have had many lovers, and now you want to return to me! 2Look up at the hilltops. Is there any place where you have not acted like a prostitute? You waited for lovers along the roadside, as an Arab waits for victims in the desert. You have defiled the land with your prostitution. 3That is why the rains were held back, and the spring showers did not come. You even look like a prostitute; you have no shame.
4“And now you say to me, ‘You are my father, and you have loved me ever since I was a child. 5You won’t always be angry; you won’t be mad at me forever.’ Israel, that is what you said, but you did all the evil you could.”

Israel and Judah Must Repent

6 When Josiah was king, the Lord said to me, “Have you seen what Israel, that unfaithful woman, has done? She has turned away from me, and on every high hill and under every green tree she has acted like a prostitute. 7I thought that after she had done all this, she would surely return to me. But she did not return, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it all. 8Judah also saw that I divorced Israel and sent her away because she had turned from me and had become a prostitute. But Judah, Israel’s unfaithful sister, was not afraid. She too became a prostitute 9and was not at all ashamed. She defiled the land, and she committed adultery by worshiping stones and trees. 10And after all this, Judah, Israel’s unfaithful sister, only pretended to return to me; she was not sincere. I, the Lord, have spoken.”
11Then the Lord told me that, even though Israel had turned away from him, she had proved to be better than unfaithful Judah. 12He told me to go and say to Israel, “Unfaithful Israel, come back to me. I am merciful and will not be angry; I will not be angry with you forever. 13Only admit that you are guilty and that you have rebelled against the Lord, your God. Confess that under every green tree you have given your love to foreign gods and that you have not obeyed my commands. I, the Lord, have spoken.
14“Unfaithful people, come back; you belong to me. I will take one of you from each town and two from each clan, and I will bring you back to Mount Zion. 15I will give you rulers who obey me, and they will rule you with wisdom and understanding. 16Then when you have become numerous in that land, people will no longer talk about my Covenant Box. They will no longer think about it or remember it; they will not even need it, nor will they make another one. 17When that time comes, Jerusalem will be called ‘The Throne of the Lord,’ and all nations will gather there to worship me. They will no longer do what their stubborn and evil hearts tell them. 18Israel will join with Judah, and together they will come from exile in the country in the north and will return to the land that I gave your ancestors as a permanent possession.”

The Idolatry of God’s People

19The Lord says,
“Israel, I wanted to accept you as my child
and give you a delightful land,
the most beautiful land in all the world.
I wanted you to call me father
and never again turn away from me.
20But like an unfaithful wife,
you have not been faithful to me.
I, the Lord, have spoken.”
21A noise is heard on the hilltops:
it is the people of Israel crying and pleading
because they have lived sinful lives
and have forgotten the Lord their God.
22Return, all of you who have turned away from the Lord;
he will heal you and make you faithful.
You say, “Yes, we are coming to the Lord because he is our God. 23We were not helped at all by our pagan worship on the hilltops. Help for Israel comes only from the Lord our God. 24But the worship of Baal, the god of shame, has made us lose flocks and herds, sons and daughters—everything that our ancestors have worked for since ancient times. 25We should lie down in shame and let our disgrace cover us. We and our ancestors have always sinned against the Lord our God; we have never obeyed his commands.”

–from Jeremiah 3

Do you want the land to be healed? We need to change as a nation! We need to turn from our wicked ways! We need to humble ourselves and pray! Then God will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land!

So we need to turn back to God! We need to stop doing the things that go against God’s will! And we need to move back under the covering of God!

Do we want to rush to the end? For those who know and follow Jesus, we know where that will take us, but God’s will is that nobody would perish — that is why He sent Jesus! God’s will is that His Word would be known everywhere so that everyone gets the chance to make a choice! Are you helping or hindering that plan? that desire? that will?

Do you hear the hopelessness being spoken around you? Do you hear the joy being snuffed out? Do you hear the desires of people’s heart for hope? Do you hear the pain being felt?

A Call to Repentance

1The Lord says, “People of Israel, if you want to turn, then turn back to me. If you are faithful to me and remove the idols I hate, 2it will be right for you to swear by my name. Then all the nations will ask me to bless them, and they will praise me.”
3 The Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem, “Plow up your unplowed fields; do not plant your seeds among thorns. 4Keep your covenant with me, your Lord, and dedicate yourselves to me, you people of Judah and Jerusalem. If you don’t, my anger will burn like fire because of the evil things you have done. It will burn, and there will be no one to put it out.”

Judah Is Threatened with Invasion

5Blow the trumpet throughout the land!
Shout loud and clear!
Tell the people of Judah and Jerusalem
to run to the fortified cities.
6Point the way to Zion!
Run for safety! Don’t delay!
The Lord is bringing disaster
and great destruction from the north.
7Like a lion coming from its hiding place,
a destroyer of nations has set out.
He is coming to destroy Judah.
The cities of Judah will be left in ruins,
and no one will live in them.
8So put on sackcloth, and weep and wail
because the fierce anger of the Lord
has not turned away from Judah.
9The Lord said, “On that day kings and officials will lose their courage; priests will be shocked and prophets will be astonished.”
10Then I said, “Sovereign Lord, you have completely deceived the people of Jerusalem! You have said there would be peace, but a sword is at their throats.”
11The time is coming when the people of Jerusalem will be told that a scorching wind is blowing in from the desert toward them. It will not be a gentle wind that only blows away the chaff— 12the wind that comes at the Lord’s command will be much stronger than that! It is the Lord himself who is pronouncing judgment on his people.

Judah Is Surrounded by Enemies

13Look, the enemy is coming like clouds. Their war chariots are like a whirlwind, and their horses are faster than eagles. We are lost! We are doomed!
14Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart, so that you may be saved. How long will you go on thinking sinful thoughts?
15Messengers from the city of Dan and from the hills of Ephraim announce the bad news. 16They have come to warn the nations and to tell Jerusalem that enemies are coming from a country far away. These enemies will shout against the cities of Judah 17and will surround Jerusalem like men guarding a field, because her people have rebelled against the Lord. The Lord has spoken.
18Judah, you have brought this on yourself by the way you have lived and by the things you have done. Your sin has caused this suffering; it has stabbed you through the heart.

Jeremiah’s Sorrow for His People

19The pain! I can’t bear the pain!
My heart! My heart is beating wildly!
I can’t keep quiet;
I hear the trumpets
and the shouts of battle.
20One disaster follows another;
the whole country is left in ruins.
Suddenly our tents are destroyed;
their curtains are torn to pieces.
21How long must I see the battle raging
and hear the blasts of trumpets?
22The Lord says, “My people are stupid;
they don’t know me.
They are like foolish children;
they have no understanding.
They are experts at doing what is evil,
but failures at doing what is good.”
Jeremiah’s Vision of the Coming Destruction
23I looked at the earth—it was a barren waste;
at the sky—there was no light.
24I looked at the mountains—they were shaking,
and the hills were rocking back and forth.
25I saw that there were no people;
even the birds had flown away.
26The fertile land had become a desert;
its cities were in ruins
because of the Lord’s fierce anger.
( 27The Lord has said that the whole earth will become a wasteland, but that he will not completely destroy it.)
28The earth will mourn;
the sky will grow dark.
The Lord has spoken
and will not change his mind.
He has made his decision
and will not turn back.
29At the noise of the cavalry and archers
everyone will run away.
Some will run to the forest;
others will climb up among the rocks.
Every town will be left empty,
and no one will live in them again.
30Jerusalem, you are doomed!
Why do you dress in scarlet?
Why do you put on jewelry and paint your eyes?
You are making yourself beautiful for nothing!
Your lovers have rejected you
and want to kill you.
31I heard a cry, like a woman in labor,
a scream like a woman bearing her first child.
It was the cry of Jerusalem gasping for breath,
stretching out her hand and saying,
“I am doomed!
They are coming to kill me!”

–from Jeremiah 4

Are you living to the highest calling? Are you living with everything available to you? Are you living with the power promised? Are you ready for what is yet to come? Will you be obedient to the prompting of the Spirit? Will you allow Him to guide your steps and your words and your direction and your decisions?

Paul in Ephesus

1While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior of the province and arrived in Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?”
“We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit,” they answered.
3“Well, then, what kind of baptism did you receive?” Paul asked.
“The baptism of John,” they answered.
4 Paul said, “The baptism of John was for those who turned from their sins; and he told the people of Israel to believe in the one who was coming after him—that is, in Jesus.”
5When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6Paul placed his hands on them, and the Holy Spirit came upon them; they spoke in strange tongues and also proclaimed God’s message. 7They were about twelve men in all.
8Paul went into the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly with the people, holding discussions with them and trying to convince them about the Kingdom of God. 9But some of them were stubborn and would not believe, and before the whole group they said evil things about the Way of the Lord. So Paul left them and took the believers with him, and every day he held discussions in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10This went on for two years, so that all the people who lived in the province of Asia, both Jews and Gentiles, heard the word of the Lord.

The Sons of Sceva

11God was performing unusual miracles through Paul. 12Even handkerchiefs and aprons he had used were taken to the sick, and their diseases were driven away, and the evil spirits would go out of them. 13Some Jews who traveled around and drove out evil spirits also tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus to do this. They said to the evil spirits, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches.” 14Seven brothers, who were the sons of a Jewish High Priest named Sceva, were doing this.
15But the evil spirit said to them, “I know Jesus, and I know about Paul; but you—who are you?”
16The man who had the evil spirit in him attacked them with such violence that he overpowered them all. They ran away from his house, wounded and with their clothes torn off. 17All the Jews and Gentiles who lived in Ephesus heard about this; they were all filled with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was given greater honor. 18Many of the believers came, publicly admitting and revealing what they had done. 19Many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in public. They added up the price of the books, and the total came to fifty thousand silver coins. 20In this powerful way the word of the Lord kept spreading and growing stronger.

The Riot in Ephesus

21After these things had happened, Paul made up his mind to travel through Macedonia and Achaia and go on to Jerusalem. “After I go there,” he said, “I must also see Rome.” 22So he sent Timothy and Erastus, two of his helpers, to Macedonia, while he spent more time in the province of Asia.
23It was at this time that there was serious trouble in Ephesus because of the Way of the Lord. 24A certain silversmith named Demetrius made silver models of the temple of the goddess Artemis, and his business brought a great deal of profit to the workers. 25So he called them all together with others whose work was like theirs and said to them, “Men, you know that our prosperity comes from this work. 26Now, you can see and hear for yourselves what this fellow Paul is doing. He says that hand-made gods are not gods at all, and he has succeeded in convincing many people, both here in Ephesus and in nearly the whole province of Asia. 27There is the danger, then, that this business of ours will get a bad name. Not only that, but there is also the danger that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will come to mean nothing and that her greatness will be destroyed—the goddess worshiped by everyone in Asia and in all the world!”
28As the crowd heard these words, they became furious and started shouting, “Great is Artemis of Ephesus!” 29The uproar spread throughout the whole city. The mob grabbed Gaius and Aristarchus, two Macedonians who were traveling with Paul, and rushed with them to the theater. 30Paul himself wanted to go before the crowd, but the believers would not let him. 31Some of the provincial authorities, who were his friends, also sent him a message begging him not to show himself in the theater. 32Meanwhile the whole meeting was in an uproar: some people were shouting one thing, others were shouting something else, because most of them did not even know why they had come together. 33Some of the people concluded that Alexander was responsible, since the Jews made him go up to the front. Then Alexander motioned with his hand for the people to be silent, and he tried to make a speech of defense. 34But when they recognized that he was a Jew, they all shouted together the same thing for two hours: “Great is Artemis of Ephesus!”
35At last the city clerk was able to calm the crowd. “Fellow Ephesians!” he said. “Everyone knows that the city of Ephesus is the keeper of the temple of the great Artemis and of the sacred stone that fell down from heaven. 36Nobody can deny these things. So then, you must calm down and not do anything reckless. 37You have brought these men here even though they have not robbed temples or said evil things about our goddess. 38If Demetrius and his workers have an accusation against anyone, we have the authorities and the regular days for court; charges can be made there. 39But if there is something more that you want, it will have to be settled in a legal meeting of citizens. 40For after what has happened today, there is the danger that we will be accused of a riot. There is no excuse for all this uproar, and we would not be able to give a good reason for it.” 41After saying this, he dismissed the meeting.

–from Acts 19

You do realize that some of the predictions people make were written a long time ago right?


There are people who are trying to use scare tactics to gain control. There are people who are using scare tactics to gain access. There are people who are using prophecy to prove their version of reality and cause for the final outcome. There are people who make claims of doom and gloom which when I hear them, I think to myself, “well, that is what the book of revelation says will happen” but the cause or the trigger or the threats don’t seem to align with the outcome they are proclaiming.

Ever seen the number of prophecies that came true through Jesus’ life and death and resurrection? Ever considered the prophecies that are yet to come?

Before taking what the politicians and scientist and other non-scientist are saying as fact rather than just their stories, put it up against the standard that is solid and reliable! The Bible!

Do you see how people try to deny the truth of the Bible when it doesn’t help their cause but when it does they bring it in without actually referencing it as their source?

Do you realize the hope and the truth that can be found in the Bible? Like…

“Leviticus 16 is about the Day of Atonement, an annual ceremony designed to cleanse the sins of the people of ancient Israel (vv.29-30). It was a day when goats were killed so that God’s people could know life (vv.15-17, 20-22). These animals died because sin, the people’s offenses against God, required the payment of death (10:1-3; Romans 6:23).

The same is true today. Sin still causes death, but Scripture reveals that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” and that Jesus’ blood is the “perfect sacrifice” for our sins (10:13; Hebrews 9:12-14). He’s paid the price for what we’ve broken (2 Corinthians 5:21).”

— from Day 3 of the devotional Our Daily Journey: A 30-Day Walk With Jesus

So let’s make sure that when we are considering what is being said that we consider the facts vs the stories that are being told rather than assuming the sources of the stories is really looking out for our best interest compared to their own agenda.

what-do-the-facts-tell-us

Now in day to day conversation with friends, family, and coworkers, it is best to not have that initial perspective as it will cause your to miss out on real conversation – we need to initially come at it with the perspective that we are in the conversation with good intentions. Yes we may discover through the process that it’s not the case, but that isn’t a good way to start the conversation since it is based on the fact that there is a relationship or a developing relationship.


So let’s jump into today’s reading and see if we can find more examples of things said in the past that have come true or are yet to come in the future even though they were prophesied or spoken of hundreds if not thousands of years ago.


Do you realize that you were created on purpose and for a purpose by the hands of God?

Do you realize that your calling or purpose may seem overwhelming at the moment, but that when God calls you to it, He will get you through it? Do you realize that He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called? We don’t have to be perfect to come to God! Once we start the relationship with Him, then He starts the work in our heart and the renewing of our mind. He will give us the words to speak! He will give us wisdom to make decisions! He give us words of wisdom to speak into situations! He will give us undeserved favor to be able to be in a specific situation at a specific time in order to be used for His purposes!

1These are the words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests from the town of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. 2The Lord first gave messages to Jeremiah during the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah. 3The Lord’s messages continued throughout the reign of King Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son, until the eleventh year of the reign of King Zedekiah, another of Josiah’s sons. In August of that eleventh year the people of Jerusalem were taken away as captives.

Jeremiah’s Call and First Visions

4The Lord gave me this message: 5“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” 6“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” 7The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 8And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” 9Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! 10Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.” 11Then the Lord said to me, “Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?” And I replied, “I see a branch from an almond tree.” 12And the Lord said, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching, and I will certainly carry out all my plans.” 13Then the Lord spoke to me again and asked, “What do you see now?” And I replied, “I see a pot of boiling water, spilling from the north.” 14“Yes,” the Lord said, “for terror from the north will boil out on the people of this land. 15Listen! I am calling the armies of the kingdoms of the north to come to Jerusalem. I, the Lord, have spoken! “They will set their thrones at the gates of the city. They will attack its walls and all the other towns of Judah. 16I will pronounce judgment on my people for all their evil—for deserting me and burning incense to other gods. Yes, they worship idols made with their own hands! 17“Get up and prepare for action. Go out and tell them everything I tell you to say. Do not be afraid of them, or I will make you look foolish in front of them. 18For see, today I have made you strong like a fortified city that cannot be captured, like an iron pillar or a bronze wall. You will stand against the whole land— the kings, officials, priests, and people of Judah. 19They will fight you, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

–from Jeremiah 1

What do you see going on around this country? What do you hear is going on around this company? What sources are being held up and which seem to be getting covered up? What is the truth? What is the truth from the past saying about this situation? What are the plans for the future being presented saying about this situation? Do you realize the impact? Do you realize the results? Do you consider the possibilities? Consider the character! Consider the platform! Consider the impact! Consider the benefits! Consider the truth! Consider the reality! When your options look bad from one angle, are you willing to look at it from other perspectives too to make sure you can see it from all sides? We need to get beyond the emotions in order to be able to get to logic! When we’ve faced trauma, there will be triggers that get us to a state where we need to find a way to diffuse it so that we can move from emotions to logic! Be it with the support person on the phone! Be it with the coworker who you are facing off with! Be it with the political atmosphere taking place around us. If we can get to the data, the facts, the truth and get beyond the stories and the feelings (as hard as that is), then we can ask God to speak into that situation and give us wisdom to make the right decision for the future!  So will you be willing to hear God’s plan? Will you be willing to pursue God’s purpose? Or will we go our own way and even it pushes us further away from God and raises the risks and concerns about the future for us and the generations to come? It’s an important time and an important season! We have all been given free will and so we all get to decide for ourselves what we will think, say, and do! We will all create our own stories! We will all get to see the outcomes too!

The Lord’s Case against His People

1The Lord gave me another message. He said, 2“Go and shout this message to Jerusalem. This is what the Lord says: “I remember how eager you were to please me as a young bride long ago, how you loved me and followed me even through the barren wilderness. 3In those days Israel was holy to the Lord, the first of his children. All who harmed his people were declared guilty, and disaster fell on them. I, the Lord, have spoken!” 4Listen to the word of the Lord, people of Jacob—all you families of Israel! 5This is what the Lord says: “What did your ancestors find wrong with me that led them to stray so far from me? They worshiped worthless idols, only to become worthless themselves. 6They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us safely out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness— a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought and death, where no one lives or even travels?’ 7“And when I brought you into a fruitful land to enjoy its bounty and goodness, you defiled my land and corrupted the possession I had promised you. 8The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who taught my word ignored me, the rulers turned against me, and the prophets spoke in the name of Baal, wasting their time on worthless idols. 9Therefore, I will bring my case against you,” says the Lord. “I will even bring charges against your children’s children in the years to come. 10“Go west and look in the land of Cyprus; go east and search through the land of Kedar. Has anyone ever heard of anything as strange as this? 11Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones, even though they are not gods at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols! 12The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay,” says the Lord. 13“For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me— the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!

The Results of Israel’s Sin

14“Why has Israel become a slave? Why has he been carried away as plunder? 15Strong lions have roared against him, and the land has been destroyed. The towns are now in ruins, and no one lives in them anymore. 16Egyptians, marching from their cities of Memphis and Tahpanhes, have destroyed Israel’s glory and power. 17And you have brought this upon yourselves by rebelling against the Lord your God, even though he was leading you on the way! 18“What have you gained by your alliances with Egypt and your covenants with Assyria? What good to you are the streams of the Nile or the waters of the Euphrates River? 19Your wickedness will bring its own punishment. Your turning from me will shame you. You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon the Lord your God and not to fear him. I, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken! 20“Long ago I broke the yoke that oppressed you and tore away the chains of your slavery, but still you said, ‘I will not serve you.’ On every hill and under every green tree, you have prostituted yourselves by bowing down to idols. 21But I was the one who planted you, choosing a vine of the purest stock—the very best. How did you grow into this corrupt wild vine? 22No amount of soap or lye can make you clean. I still see the stain of your guilt. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!

Israel, an Unfaithful Wife

23“You say, ‘That’s not true! I haven’t worshiped the images of Baal!’ But how can you say that? Go and look in any valley in the land! Face the awful sins you have done. You are like a restless female camel desperately searching for a mate. 24You are like a wild donkey, sniffing the wind at mating time. Who can restrain her lust? Those who desire her don’t need to search, for she goes running to them! 25When will you stop running? When will you stop panting after other gods? But you say, ‘Save your breath. I’m in love with these foreign gods, and I can’t stop loving them now!’ 26“Israel is like a thief who feels shame only when he gets caught. They, their kings, officials, priests, and prophets— all are alike in this. 27To an image carved from a piece of wood they say, ‘You are my father.’ To an idol chiseled from a block of stone they say, ‘You are my mother.’ They turn their backs on me, but in times of trouble they cry out to me, ‘Come and save us!’ 28But why not call on these gods you have made? When trouble comes, let them save you if they can! For you have as many gods as there are towns in Judah. 29Why do you accuse me of doing wrong? You are the ones who have rebelled,” says the Lord. 30“I have punished your children, but they did not respond to my discipline. You yourselves have killed your prophets as a lion kills its prey. 31“O my people, listen to the words of the Lord! Have I been like a desert to Israel? Have I been to them a land of darkness? Why then do my people say, ‘At last we are free from God! We don’t need him anymore!’ 32Does a young woman forget her jewelry, or a bride her wedding dress? Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me. 33“How you plot and scheme to win your lovers. Even an experienced prostitute could learn from you! 34Your clothing is stained with the blood of the innocent and the poor, though you didn’t catch them breaking into your houses! 35And yet you say, ‘I have done nothing wrong. Surely God isn’t angry with me!’ But now I will punish you severely because you claim you have not sinned. 36First here, then there— you flit from one ally to another asking for help. But your new friends in Egypt will let you down, just as Assyria did before. 37In despair, you will be led into exile with your hands on your heads, for the Lord has rejected the nations you trust. They will not help you at all.

–from Jeremiah 2

Are we being unfaithful today? Are we being disobedient? Are we missing the mark? Are we rejecting God as a nation? Are you part of the remnant? What will you do? How will you respond? Don’t give up! Keep your hope and trust in God! Yes in this world we will have troubles, but we can have faith and take heart because Jesus has overcome the world! Yes in this world we will face trials of many kinds! As Jesus told us, consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds – seems counter intuitive but that’s not where the statement or story ends – for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Let’s do our part! Let’s use the skills we have to provide for ourselves! We see how Paul answered the call! We see how Paul’s life was transformed by an encounter with Jesus! We see how the world was transformed by his passion and obedience to go and do and say what God gave him to say! We see how he knew the Jewish history and was able to take those facts in order to speak to the truth of who Jesus is! So let’s live out our lives with passion to complete the work God has for us to do! Let’s invite Jesus into our hearts to create a new heart in us! Let’s invite Jesus into our lives so that we can have a renewing of our minds! And let’s be the people God created and purposed for us to be!

Paul Meets Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth

1Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome. 3Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was.
4Each Sabbath found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike. 5And after Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul spent all his time preaching the word. He testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6But when they opposed and insulted him, Paul shook the dust from his clothes and said, “Your blood is upon your own heads—I am innocent. From now on I will go preach to the Gentiles.”
7Then he left and went to the home of Titius Justus, a Gentile who worshiped God and lived next door to the synagogue.8Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, and everyone in his household believed in the Lord. Many others in Corinth also heard Paul, became believers, and were baptized.
9One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him,Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! 10For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me. 11So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God.
12But when Gallio became governor of Achaia, some Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him before the governor for judgment. 13They accused Paul of “persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to our law.”
14But just as Paul started to make his defense, Gallio turned to Paul’s accusers and said, “Listen, you Jews, if this were a case involving some wrongdoing or a serious crime, I would have a reason to accept your case. 15But since it is merely a question of words and names and your Jewish law, take care of it yourselves. I refuse to judge such matters.” 16And he threw them out of the courtroom.
17The crowd then grabbed Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him right there in the courtroom. But Gallio paid no attention.

Paul Returns to Antioch of Syria

18Paul stayed in Corinth for some time after that, then said good-bye to the brothers and sisters and went to nearby Cenchrea. There he shaved his head according to Jewish custom, marking the end of a vow. Then he set sail for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him.
19They stopped first at the port of Ephesus, where Paul left the others behind. While he was there, he went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews. 20They asked him to stay longer, but he declined. 21As he left, however, he said, “I will come back later,God willing.” Then he set sail from Ephesus. 22The next stop was at the port of Caesarea. From there he went up and visited the church at Jerusalem and then went back to Antioch.
23After spending some time in Antioch, Paul went back through Galatia and Phrygia, visiting and strengthening all the believers.

Apollos Instructed at Ephesus

24Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. 25He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism. 26When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately.
27Apollos had been thinking about going to Achaia, and the brothers and sisters in Ephesus encouraged him to go. They wrote to the believers in Achaia, asking them to welcome him. When he arrived there, he proved to be of great benefit to those who, by God’s grace, had believed. 28He refuted the Jews with powerful arguments in public debate. Using the Scriptures, he explained to them that Jesus was the Messiah.
–from Acts 18