You realize that when you aren’t doing what is right it has an impact right? You realize the impact isn’t only on you right? You realize it will impact others around you? You realize based on your position or role it could impact a lot of people.
So knowing this, let’s set the bar higher like we are supposed to! Remember how Jesus in Matthew 5 was calling us to a higher standard than the law, the 10 commandments?
27You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. –Matthew 5
What we say makes a difference! What we do makes a difference! What we allow into our minds makes a difference! It’s more than garbage in, garbage out! It’s garbage in, garbage stay! And you don’t want that garbage to stay in your mind!
It doesn’t matter if you try to keep it a secret either! The truth is like a beach ball, it may be fun when it is out in the open, but it’s buoyant and so if you try to hide it under the water, it will eventually surface for everyone to see. So we need to do what is right even when nobody is watching! This is the definition of integrity!
Who has God come to speak into your life? Who has He sent to let you know what is right? The prophets in the Bible came to tell people when they weren’t loving God and when they weren’t loving people! These two things can be used to summary all of the Laws! Put another way love the Lord with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength and secondly, love your neighbor as yourself!
Today’s reading begins in 2 Kings…
The Israelites are Deported to Assyria
1In the twelfth year of King Ahaz of Judah, Hoshea son of Elah became king in Samaria over Israel, and he reigned nine years. 2He did what was evil in Adonai’s eyes, yet not as the kings of Israel who were before him. 3King Shalmaneser of Assyria marched against him, so Hoshea became his vassal and paid him tribute. 4But the king of Assyria caught Hoshea conspiring—he had sent messengers to King So of Egypt, and had not paid the tribute to the king of Assyria as he had done every year. Therefore the king of Assyria seized him and put him in prison. 5Then the king of Assyria invaded the entire country, marched up to Samaria, and besieged it for three years. 6In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He placed them in Halah and Habor, on the Gozan River, and in the towns of the Medes. 7Now it was so because the men of Israel had sinned against Adonai their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods. 8Instead they followed the customs of the nations, whom Adonai had dispossessed before Bnei-Yisrael, yet which the kings of Israel practiced. 9Bnei-Yisrael secretly did things against Adonai their God that were not right. They built shrines for themselves in all their settlements—from watchtowers to fortified cities, 10and they set up pillars and Asherah poles for themselves on every high hill and under every leafy tree. 11There they burned incense on all the high places, like the nations whom Adonai had driven out before them. So they did wicked things to provoke Adonai. 12They worshipped idols, about which Adonai had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.” 13Yet Adonai had forewarned Israel and Judah by the hand of every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the Torah which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by the hand of My servants the prophets.” 14Yet they would not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not trust in Adonai their God. 15So they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies that He testified against them. Instead they went after futile things and became futile, following the nations that surrounded them, about whom Adonai had charged them not to emulate. 16So they abandoned all the mitzvot of Adonai their God. So they made for themselves molten images, two calves, and made an Asherah pole, and bowed down to all the host of heavens, and worshipped Baal, 17and they made their sons and daughters pass through the fire, practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in Adonai’s eyes, to provoke Him. 18So Adonai became very angry with Israel, and banished them from His presence. There was none left but the tribe of Judah alone. 19Even Judah did not keep the mitzvot of Adonai their God, but followed the customs which Israel had practiced. 20So Adonai spurned all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them out of His sight. 21When He had torn Israel from the house of David, they made Jeroboam son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drew Israel away from following Adonai and made them commit a great sin. 22The men of Israel kept walking in all the sins that Jeroboam committed. They did not turn away from them, 23until Adonai banished Israel from His presence, as He spoke by the hand of all His servants the prophets. So Israel has been exiled from their own land to Assyria to this day.
Origin of the Samaritans
24Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria, instead of the men of Israel. So they possessed Samaria and settled in its cities. 25When they first began dwelling there, they did not fear Adonai—so Adonai sent lions among them, which killed some of them. 26Then they spoke to the king of Assyria saying, “The nations that you deported and resettled in the towns of Samaria do not know the requirement of the God of the land. Therefore He has sent lions among them, and behold, they are killing them because they don’t know the requirement of the God of the land.” 27Then the king of Assyria commanded saying, “Send there one of the kohanim whom you have exiled from there. Let them go and live there and teach them the requirement of the God of the land.” 28So one of the kohanim that had been deported from Samaria came and lived in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear Adonai. 29However, every nation kept making its own gods, and put them in the shrines of the high places that the Samaritans had made—every nation in their cities where they settled. 30So the people of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the people of Cuth made Nergal, the people of Hamath made Ashima, 31the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32So they feared Adonai, while they also appointed for themselves from among themselves priests of the shrines, who officiated for them in the shrines of the high places. 33They continued to fear Adonai, but worshipped their own gods, after the custom of the nations from which they had been deported. 34Up to this day, they follow their former customs. Nor do they fear Adonai, or follow the statutes, the ordinances, the Torah or the mitzvot that Adonai commanded the children of Jacob—whom He had renamed Israel. 35With them Adonai had made a covenant, and charged them saying, “You will not fear other gods, or bow down to them, or serve them, or sacrifice to them, 36but only Adonai, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm—Him will you fear, and to Him will you bow down and to Him will you sacrifice. 37The statutes and the ordinances, and the Torah and the mitzvah, which He wrote for you, you will take care to do all the time. You are not to fear other gods. 38The covenant that I have made with you, you will not forget. Nor will you fear other gods, 39but Adonai your God will you fear. Then He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.” 40Yet they did not listen, but they continued their former practices. 41So while these nations feared Adonai, they also worshipped their idols. Their children and grandchildren do as their fathers did to this day.
–from 2 Kings 17
So let’s align with God’s will! Let’s align with God’s way! Let’s allow LOVE to be the focus! Let’s love God! Let’s love one another! Let’s allow vengeance to be God’s rather than something we seek! Let’s allow God to take care of things and work them out for His glory! Let’s be ambassadors for God! Let’s point people to the one and only true God! Let’s help others to see Jesus in and through us! Let’s be used by God so that other can see the fact that God’s Not Dead and is still working on earth today!
Highway in the Wilderness
1The wilderness and dry land will be glad. The desert will rejoice and blossom like a lily. 2It will blossom profusely, will rejoice with joy and singing, will be given the glory of Lebanon, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of Adonai, the splendor of our God. 3Strengthen the limp hands, make firm the wobbly knees. 4Say to those with anxious heart, “Be strong, have no fear!” Behold, your God! Vengeance is coming! God’s recompense—it is coming! Then He will save you. 5Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing. For water will burst forth in the desert and streams in the wilderness. 7The parched land will become a pool, the thirsty ground springs of water. In the haunt of jackals, where they rest, grass will become reeds and rushes. 8A highway will be there—a roadway. It will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it. It is for the one who walks the way. Fools will not go astray. 9No lion will be there. No ravenous beast will go up on it. They will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk there. 10The ransomed of Adonai will return and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
–from Isaiah 35
God created each of us on purpose! God created each of us for a purpose! We aren’t accidents! We are to live in relationship with God so that we can grab hold of His plan and His purpose! His desire is to give us a hope and a future! He didn’t send Jesus to condemn the world, but to save it! So let’s point people to Jesus in the way we live! Let’s point people to Jesus by doing what is right according to His Word! Let’s plant the seeds of the Bible into our hearts and minds so that we can remember them when we are faced with a decision and needing to know what to do! Let’s plant the seeds of the Bible so that we can turn to them and reap a harvest at the right time!
Humanity is God’s Splendor
1For the music director, upon the Gittite lyre: a psalm of David. 2Adonai our Lord, how excellent is Your Name over all the earth! You set Your splendor above the heavens. 3Out of the mouths of babies and toddlers You established power, because of Your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. 4When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You established— 5what is man, that You are mindful of him? And the son of man, that You care for him? 6Yet You made him a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and majesty! 7You gave him dominion over the works of Your hands. You put all things under their feet: 8all sheep and oxen, and also beasts of the field, 9birds in the air, and fish in the ocean— all passing through the paths of the seas. 10Adonai our Lord, how excellent is Your Name over all the earth!
–from Psalms 8
Let’s abide in Jesus! Let’s walk in alignment to Jesus! Let’s walk in obedience to His Word! Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to live in us and to lead us and guide us, teach us and correct us in Jesus’ name. Let’s not wander away but rather let’s stay connected to Jesus! Let’s allow our lives to be pruned of the things that need to go! Let’s allow our lives to be flourish by staying connected to Jesus who is the vine! Let’s produce much fruit for the glory of God’s kingdom! Let’s allow God’s love to flow in and thru us to the world around us!
Abiding in the Vine
1“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. 2Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He trims so that it may bear more fruit. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. The branch cannot itself produce fruit, unless it abides on the vine. Likewise, you cannot produce fruit unless you abide in Me. 5“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for apart from Me, you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away like a branch and is dried up. Such branches are picked up and thrown into the fire and burned. 7“If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. 8In this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.” 9“Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you. Abide in My love! 10If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and your joy may be full. 12“This is My commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15“I am no longer calling you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing. Now I have called you friends, because everything I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16“You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I selected you so that you would go and produce fruit, and your fruit would remain. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name. 17“These things I command you, so that you may love one another.”
The World Hates God’s Own
18“If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. But you are not of the world, since I have chosen you out of the world; therefore the world hates you. 20“Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21“But all these things they will do to you for the sake of My name, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23“He who hates Me also hates My Father. 24If I had not done works among them that no one else did, they would have no sin. But now they have seen and have hated both Me and My Father. 25So is fulfilled the word written in their Scripture, ‘They hated Me for no reason.’ 26“When the Helper comes—whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—He will testify about Me. 27And you also testify, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”
–from John 15
Knowing that it really doesn’t hurt you is one thing, but if someone else seeing you do it will mess things up for then, then we shouldn’t do it! It’s more about building others up rather than just puffing ourselves up. Sure we know it and that could puff us up, like the rooster who struts his stuff around the chicken run. But out of love we can build up others by not doing stuff that we know is ok but could send them astray. We don’t know what they have been thru or their vices and so we need to live our lives out of love first because of our knowledge. We don’t want to be become a stumbling block because of it.
Concerning Idol Sacrifices
1Now concerning idol sacrifices, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2If anyone thinks he knows anything, he doesn’t yet know as he ought to know. 3But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. 4Therefore concerning the eating of idol sacrifices, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no God but one. 5For even if there are so-called “gods,” whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Yeshua the Messiah, through whom are all things, and we exist through Him. 7But that knowledge is not in everyone—some, so accustomed to idols up until now, eat food as an idol sacrifice; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8But food will not bring us before God. We are no worse off if we do not eat and no better off if we do eat. 9But watch out that this freedom of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For suppose someone sees you—who have this knowledge—dining in an idol’s temple. If his conscience is weak, won’t he be emboldened to eat idol sacrifices? 11For the one who is weak is destroyed by your knowledge—the brother for whom Messiah died. 12In this way, when you sin against the brothers and sisters and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Messiah. 13For this reason, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I do not cause my brother to stumble.
–from 1 Corinthians 8