Are you willing to sacrifice? Are you willing to go the extra mile?


Take a look around and see what is taking place. Are you willing to take a stand for what you believe in? Are you willing to stand up against evil? Are you willing to step out and do something that brings people together in unity through love rather than try to divide them with hate? Will you stand up against what is wrong? Will you stand up for what is right? Will you speak out against racism?

I remember back in middle school when we did an exchange trip where we went to a city for a week and then later in the year they came to ours. I got the opportunity to be with a family who had moved from South Africa and learned a lot about apartheid and it made me so angry. I was ready to go out and protest what was going on and the racism that was taking place. I learned how they escaped. I learned about Nelson Mandela and how he was imprisoned. I have always felt we should be one people and it frustrated me when I saw people from different cultures would be treated differently in such a bitter and hateful manner. We are all created by God! We are all His children! So we need to come together in unity against the lies of the devil who is trying to divide us and break us apart! We need to stand up against any such attack against our brothers and sisters so that it can’t and won’t run lose. Over history there have been so many battles and wars that have taken place and unless we learn from the past, we are going to be doomed to repeat it! So let’s come together and fight off the hateful and embrace one another in love! Let’s be willing to step up and step out for what is right! Let’s pray that God will help bring unity! That the light of our love will shine so bright that the darkness of their hate will have to flee!

Racism is not ok!

Today’s devotional comes to us on the topic of sacrifices that please God, so are you ready?


Consider the sacrifices that have taken place to get you where you are today.

What are you willing to sacrifice to make the world around you a better place?

  • What is coming out of your mouth?
  • How are you living your life?
  • Are you being generous?
  • Are you loving?

Let’s sacrifice by speaking up and speaking out in sacrifice for those who are not able to speak for themselves! Let’s sacrifice by living lives sacrificially – giving every part of it daily up to God for His plans and His purposes so that His love will be made known in the world around you! Let’s sacrifice by being generous! The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it! He has been generous in giving us the air we breath, the relationships we have, the resources we need, so let’s be generous and share His love with the world around us that they too may come to realize the blessings of God and start a relationship with Him! Let’s sacrifice by loving everyone God brings into our lives! Let’s show them the unconditional love God is pouring out on us so that they will feel the love of God and realize there is hope and there is a way even when there doesn’t seem to be a way!

Let’s take hold of what Romans 12 has for us to grasp and turn what the devil planned for evil around and use it to the glory of God!

A Living Sacrifice to God

12 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,

“I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,”
says the Lord.

20 Instead,

“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
burning coals of shame on their heads.”

21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

–from Romans 12 (NLT)

Did you catch the conclusion of Romans 12? Did you see what we are supposed to do? Let’s take a hold of that today and allow Jesus to work in and through us into the world around us that Jesus will be made known and God will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in His name!

First let’s start with:

  • Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)
  • Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. (Romans 12:9)
  • When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
  • Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. (Romans 12:21)

Four Sacrifices That Please God

Day 210: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalms 89:30-37, Romans 11:33-36, Romans 12, 1 Chronicles 6

https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/3420-bible-in-one-year-2017/day/210

  • Thank God for the sacrifice of Jesus … Psalm 89:30-37
  • Make sacrifices that please God … Romans 11:33-12:21
    • In this passage, we see four sacrifices that you can make in response to Jesus’ sacrifice for you:

      1. Sacrifice of your lips

      The writer of Hebrews says, ‘Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name… for with such sacrifices God is pleased’ (Hebrews 13:15–16).
      Much of the first eleven chapters of Romans are about the sacrifice of Jesus for us. Paul, having set out all that God has done for us, responds with a sacrifice of praise (Romans 11:33–36).

      2. Sacrifice of your life

      Paul writes, ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy [because of all that Jesus has done for us through the sacrifice of himself on the cross], to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship’ (12:1, AMP).
      God wants you to offer all of yourself and all of your lives – your time, ambitions, possessions, ears, mouths and sexuality – as well as your mind, emotions and attitudes. Paul’s description of a living sacrifice also reminds us that you have to go on offering your life as a sacrifice to God, offering the whole of your life for the whole of your life.
      As Eugene Peterson translates it in The Message, ‘Take your every day, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering’ (v.1, MSG).
      In Old Testament times, ‘living sacrifice’ would be a contradiction in terms. The whole point of the sacrifice was that it was killed. Jago Wynne writes, ‘Our act of worship is no longer to bring a sacrifice, but to be one ourselves. We remain living. It is all of us that is being offered. Worship is about what I say with my tongue. It’s about what I watch… what I think… where I go with my feet.’

      3. The sacrifice of your ‘loot’

      Generous giving is another New Testament sacrifice. Paul encourages the sacrifice of generosity in contributing to the needs of others (v.8). We are to ‘share with God’s people who are in need’ (v.13). This is another sacrifice the writer of Hebrews says pleases God: ‘to share with others’ (Hebrews 13:16).
      We are even to give generously to our enemies: ‘Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness’ (Romans 12:20, MSG).

      4. Sacrifice of your love

      In this passage Paul gives many examples of the sacrifice of loving service (vv.9–21).

      The writer of Hebrews says, ‘do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased’ (Hebrews 13:16).

      ‘Doing good’ means giving up things that are not good. ‘Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould’ (Romans 12:2, J.B. Phillips). Although God only asks us to give up the bad stuff in our lives, it can feel costly to do so because that stuff is superficially attractive. Repentance is a very positive word, but at the time it may seem sacrificial.

      Sacrificial love involves allowing God to transform us by a complete change. Our love must be sincere (v.9). The Greek word for ‘sincere’ means ‘without hypocrisy’ or literally ‘without play acting’ or ‘without a mask’.

      Often relationships in the world are quite superficial. We all put up fronts or masks to protect ourselves. When we see governments doing this, we call it ‘spin’. When we do it ourselves, we call it ‘image’; we are projecting something. In effect we’re saying, ‘I don’t really like what I am inside, so I will pretend I am somebody different.’ I certainly did this in a major way before I was a Christian (and it carries on to some extent afterwards – though it shouldn’t).

      If other people are doing the same then there are two ‘fronts’ or ‘masks’ meeting. The sad result is that the two real people never meet. This is the opposite of ‘sincere love’. Sincere love means taking off your mask and daring to reveal who you are. When you know that God loves you as you are, you are set free to take off your mask. This means that there is a completely new depth and authenticity in your relationships.

      Paul urges Christians to live in harmony with one another and to be generous (v.13), hospitable (v.13), forgiving (v.14), empathetic (v.15) and to live at peace with everyone (v.18). It is a glorious picture of the Christian family into which God calls us, beckoning us into an atmosphere of love, joy, patience, faithfulness, generosity, hospitality, blessing, rejoicing, harmony, humility and peace; where good is not overcome by evil, but evil is overcome by good (vv.9–21).

      –from Day 210: Bible In One Year 2017

  • Understand the sacrifices in the Old Testament … 1 Chronicles 6:1-81

Do not be overcomed by evil but overcome evil with good

Ever realize the answer is at hand?


Ever read something and wondered? Ever looked for answers? Ever started looking for answers? Ever started searching for the trigger? Ever began to seeking the person? Ever wondered how could that be? Ever considered what it would take? In the midst of it all did you ever consider that you need to be a part of it? In the contemplation, have you thought of how you are supposed to respond? There is an answer! From the beginning till the end, there is a way! From the highs and thru the lows, there is hope! The answer is right in front of you! The answer is right besides you! The answer is all around you! We all received the gift of freewill! So we all get to decide for ourselves if we will to or resist it!

So where are you at? Have you decided? Have you chosen? Are you living it out now?

The choice is yours…so what are you going to do with this power?


Today’s reading continues in Isaiah and speaks to the hope for Israel that was yet to come thru who we know today as Jesus! Today we have the benefit of the old and the new testament and so we get to hear the truth before Jesus and after Jesus and how God was in it all! We are faced with decisions and choices that we have made or will have to to make…God has a plan and a purpose for you and your life! God’s plan is better than yours! God’s plan is higher than yours! He sent Jesus so that we could have a hope and a future!

Trees of the Field will Clap Their Hands

1“Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the water, and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost! 2Why do you spend money for what is not bread? Your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. 3Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, so that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the trustworthy loyalty to David. 4Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. 5Behold, you will summon a nation you do not know, and a nation that did not know you will run to you, because of Adonai your God and the Holy One of Israel, for He has glorified you.” 6Seek Adonai while He may be found, call on Him while He is near. 7Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous one his thoughts, let him return to Adonai, so He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. 8“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” It is a declaration of Adonai. 9“For as the heavens are higher than earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. 10For as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without having watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to sow and bread to eat, 11so My word will be that goes out from My mouth. It will not return to Me in vain, but will accomplish what I intend, and will succeed in what I sent it for. 12“Yes, you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace. The mountains and the hills will break forth before you singing, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands! 13Instead of the thorn bush, a cypress will come up, and instead of the brier, a myrtle will come up, and it will be a memorial to Adonai, as an everlasting sign that will never be cut off.”

–from Isaiah 55

Israel was and is God’s people. God’s plan was to expand and share the truth with all of the world! He started with Abram who became Abraham. God’s plan was around us need to love Him and love people! Jesus came because there was no other way for justice to be fulfilled! God had to take things into His own hands to be able to make a way for us to be reconciled back into His life! Reconciled in a way that would end it, not something that had to be repeated, but once and for all! Now that He did His part, our part is to receive it! Will you receive the gift of salvation? Will you ask Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior? Will you make the choice that each one had to make so that you can be saved? Are you pondering it? Are you rejecting it? Are you fighting against it? Have you received it? God loves you so much that He is calling you into a relationship with Him! Will you answer the call?

Foreigners Keeping Shabbat

1Thus says Adonai: “Preserve justice, do righteousness. For My salvation is about to come, and My righteousness to be revealed. 2Blessed is the one who does this, the son of man who takes hold of it, who keeps from profaning Shabbat, and keeps his hand from doing any evil. 3Do not let a son of a foreigner who has joined himself to Adonai say, ‘Adonai will surely exclude me from His people.” Nor let the eunuch say, ‘Behold, I am a dry tree.’” 4For thus says Adonai, “To the eunuchs who keep My Shabbatot, who choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant: 5I will give to them in My House and within My walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off. 6Also the foreigners who join themselves to Adonai, to minister to Him, and to love the Name of Adonai, and to be His servants— all who keep from profaning Shabbat, and hold fast to My covenant— 7these I will bring to My holy mountain, and let them rejoice in My House of Prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar. For My House will be called a House of Prayer for all nations.” 8Adonai Elohim, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, “I will gather still others to him, to those already gathered.” 9All you beasts of the field, come to eat, all you beasts in the forest. 10His watchmen are all blind. All of them know nothing. All of them are mute dogs unable to bark, dreamers lying down, lovers of slumber, 11and the dogs are greedy— they never have enough. They are shepherds with no discernment. They have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all. 12“Come, let’s get wine, let’s guzzle strong drink. Tomorrow will be like today, only even better!”

–from Isaiah 56

Some think that every way will lead to heaven, but that’s not true. Some think that it doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do, but that’s not true. Some think that it doesn’t matter what you believe or don’t believe, but that’s not true. Some think that it ends when we die because we are buried or cremated, but there is more that this. There is something beyond this life but our choices decide how that will be. There is something beyond this life and our decisions will direct how that will be. We are eternal and so our choices will determine if we will live out eternity with God or apart from God! So we need to decide if Jesus will be our way or if it will be the stumbling block that keeps you away. He is the way, the truth, and the life and through Him we will be able to enter into eternity with God! No matter where you are and what you are going through, there is hope! And His name is Jesus!

Remove Every Stumbling Block

1The righteous one perishes, but no one takes it to heart. Godly men are taken away, but no one discerns that the righteous man is taken from evil. 2He enters into shalom. They rest on their beds, each who walked in his integrity. 3But as for you, come here, you children of a sorceress, offspring of an adulterer and prostitute. 4Whom are you mocking? At whom do you open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue? Are you not children of transgression, offspring of deceit? 5You who burn with lust among the oaks and under every green tree, who sacrifice your children in the wadis and under the clefts of the rocks? 6Among the smooth stones of the wadi is your portion—they are your lot. To them you have even poured out a drink offering, made a grain offering. Shall I relent concerning these things?7Upon a high and lofty mountain you made your bed. You also went up there to offer sacrifice. 8Behind the door and the doorpost you have set up your memorial sign. For away from Me, you uncovered, went up and made your bed wide, and cut covenant with them. You loved their bed— you looked on their nakedness. 9You journeyed to the king with oil and multiplied your perfumes. You sent your ambassadors far away, and made them go down to Sheol. 10You wearied of the length of your way, yet you did not say, “It is hopeless!” You found renewed strength, so you did not weaken. 11“Whom was it you dreaded and feared, so that you lied. But you did not remember Me or take it to heart? Have I not kept silent a long time— yet you do not fear Me? 12I will expose your ‘righteousness’, and your deeds—they will not profit you. 13When you cry out, will your collection of idols save you? The wind will carry them off, a breath will take them away. But he who takes refuge in Me will possess the land, and will inherit My holy mountain.” 14Then it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every stumbling block out of the way of My people.” 15For thus says the High and Exalted One who inhabits eternity, whose Name is Holy: “I dwell in a high and holy place, yet also with a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and revive the heart of the contrite. 16For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry, for the spirit would grow weak before Me, the breath of those whom I made. 17Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry; I struck him; I hid My face; I was angry—but he went on backsliding in the way of his heart. 18I have seen his ways, but I will heal him. I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners. 19Creating the praise of lips: ‘Shalom, shalom to him who is far and to him who is near,’ says Adonai, ‘and I will heal him.’” 20But the wicked are like a troubled sea, for it cannot rest, and its waters toss up mire and dirt. 21 “There is no shalom,” says my God “for the wicked.”

–from Isaiah 57

So will you join in covenant with God? Will you ask Jesus into your life today? Will you walk out the rest of your life on earth with God aligned with Jesus so that when you leave and move on that you will get to spend eternity with God too? Do you remember what happened? Have you gone back to review what has taken place so that you can appreciate even more where you are at today? So let’s keep our eyes on God! Let’s keep our eyes on God’s calling and purpose for our lives! Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus who will help us get through each day! He is the way, the truth, and the life and our one way trip to God the Father! Don’t allow bitterness and frustration to get the best of you! Forgive! They don’t realize what they are doing! They may think they do, but in the greater scheme of things they don’t. Jesus as He was being crucified ask God to forgive them for they know not what they do. Stephen in today’s reading similarly ask God to not hold it against them! Is there anything that we need to let go of today? Is there anything we need to forgive today? Forgiveness is the key to freedom! Don’t allow bitterness and anger drag you down the downward spiral till you hit rock bottom! Look up to God just as Stephen did and forgive them!

1Then the kohen gadol said, “Are these things so?” 2Stephen declared, “Brothers and fathers, listen. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. 3He said to him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives, and come here to the land that I will show you.’ 4Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. From there, after his father died, God moved him to this land where you now live. 5He gave him no inheritance in it—not even a foothold—yet He promised ‘to give it to him as a possession to him and to his descendants after him,’ even though he had no child. 6“But God spoke in this way, that his ‘descendants would be foreigners in a land belonging to others, and they would enslave and mistreat them for four hundred years. 7But I will judge the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, ‘and afterward they shall come out and serve Me in this place.’ 8“Then God gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. So he became the father of Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day, and so Isaac with Jacob, and Jacob with the twelve patriarchs. 9The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. Yet God was with him. 10He rescued him out of all his troubles and granted him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him governor over Egypt and all his household. 11“Famine and great suffering came over all Egypt and Canaan, and our fathers could find no food. 12But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers there the first time. 13On the second visit, Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and his family became known to Pharaoh. 14So Joseph sent and called for Jacob and all his relatives—seventy-five persons. 15Jacob went down to Egypt and died, he and our fathers. 16They were carried to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem. 17“But as the time drew near for the promise God had sworn to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt— 18until ‘there arose another king over Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph.’ 19Dealing with our people with cruel cunning, this king mistreated our fathers and forced them to abandon their infants so they would not survive. 20“At this time Moses was born—extraordinary before God. For three months he was nurtured in his father’s house. 21And when he was set outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and raised him as her own son. 22Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was powerful in his words and deeds. 23“When he was approaching forty years of age, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, Bnei-Yisrael. 24When he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he went to the defense of the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. 25He was assuming that his brothers understood that by his hand God was delivering them, but they did not understand. 26So on the next day he appeared to them as they were fighting. He tried to reconcile them in shalom, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong one another?’ 27“But the one doing wrong to his neighbor pushed him away, saying, ‘Who appointed you ruler and judge over us? 28You don’t want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday, do you?’ 29At this remark, Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. 30“When forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai in the flame of a burning bush. 31When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight. But when he came up to look, there came the voice of Adonai: 32‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.’ “Moses trembled in fear and did not dare to look. 33But Adonai said to him, ‘Take the sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34I have surely seen the oppression of my people in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. Now come—let Me send you to Egypt.’ 35“This Moses—whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who appointed you as ruler and judge?’—is the one whom God sent as both ruler and redeemer, by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. 37This is the Moses who said to Bnei-Yisrael, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers.’ 38“This is the one who was in the community in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living words to pass on to us. 39Our fathers did not want to be obedient to him, but shoved him aside. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, 40saying to Aaron, ‘Make gods for us who will go before us. For this Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt—we have no idea what has happened to him.’ 41“And they made a calf in those days, offered a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. 42But God turned and gave them over to serve the host of heaven, just as it is written in the book of the Prophets: ‘It was not to Me that you brought sacrifices and offerings for forty years in the wilderness, was it, O House of Israel? 43You also took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images you made to worship. And I will deport you beyond Babylon.’ 44“Our fathers had the Tent of Witness in the wilderness—just as the One speaking to Moses had directed him to make it according to the design he had seen. 45Our fathers received it in turn and brought it in with Joshua when they took possession of the land of the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it remained until the days of David, 46who found favor in God’s sight. He asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47But Solomon built a house for Him. 48However, Elyon does not dwell in man-made houses. As the prophet says, 49‘Heaven is My throne, and the earth is the footstool of My feet. What kind of house will you build for Me, says Adonai, or what is the place of My rest? 50Did not My Hand make all these things?’ 51“O you stiff-necked people! You uncircumcised of heart and ears! You always resist the Ruach ha-Kodesh; just as your fathers did, you do as well. 52Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed the ones who foretold the coming of the Righteous One. Now you have become His betrayers and murderers— 53you who received the Torah by direction of angels and did not keep it!” 54When they heard these things, they became enraged and began gnashing their teeth at him. 55But Stephen, full of the Ruach ha-Kodesh, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God—and Yeshua standing at the right hand of God. 56And he said, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57But they covered their ears; and crying out with a loud voice, they rushed at him with one impulse. 58Driving him out of the city, they began stoning him, and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59They went on stoning Stephen as he was calling out, “Lord Yeshua, receive my spirit!” 60Then he fell on his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” After he said this, he died.

–from Acts 7

 

It’s sad when we lose people…


Have you lost anyone? Do you remember the pain? Do you remember the sadness? Do you remember the emotional rollercoaster? Do you remember the anger? Do you remember the joy? Do you remember the love? Do you remember someone who wasn’t treating you well who passed? Do you remember someone who was like a brother or sister who passed? How did you respond? How did you manage to be able to let them go?

Today’s reading opens up with David facing the news of the death of Saul and Jonathan…

David Mourns Saul and Jonathan

1Now it came to pass after the death of Saul—when David had returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites—that David stayed two days in Ziklag. 2On the third day, behold, a man came from Saul’s camp, with his clothes torn and dust on his head. Now when he approached David, he fell to the ground and prostrated himself. 3Then David asked him, “Where are you coming from?” “I’ve escaped from the camp of Israel,” he answered. 4“How did things go?” David asked him. “Please, tell me.” He answered, “The troops fled the battlefield—also many of the troops fell and died. And even Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.” 5David asked the young man informing him, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” 6The young man informing him answered, “I happened by chance to be on Mount Gilboa, and look, Saul was leaning on his spear, while the chariots and the horsemen were closing in on him. 7When he turned around and saw me, he called me. So I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 8Then he asked me, ‘Who are you?’ “So I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ 9So he said to me, ‘Stand now over me and kill me! For I’m in agony, yet I’m still alive.’ 10So I stood over him and killed him, because I knew he couldn’t survive after he had fallen. Then I took the crown that was on his head and the bracelet that was on his arm, and brought them here—to my lord.” 11Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men that were with him, 12and they mourned, wept and fasted until evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, for the troops of Adonai and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. 13Then David said to the young man who informed him, “Where are you from?” “I am a son of an Amalekite outsider,” he replied. 14Then David said to him, “How is it that you were not afraid to stretch out your hand to destroy Adonai’s anointed one?” 15Then David called one of the young men and said, “Come and strike him down.” And he struck him down and he died. 16David said to him, “Your blood is on your own head, for your mouth testified against you saying, ‘I killed Adonai’s anointed.’” 17Then David chanted this lament over Saul and his son Jonathan, 18and ordered that the sons of Judah be taught the “Song of the Bow.” (Behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar): 19“Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen! 20Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in Ashkelon’s streets, lest Philistine daughters rejoice, lest daughters of the uncircumcised gloat! 21Hills of Gilboa, let no dew or rain be on you, nor on bountiful fields, for there the shield of the mighty ones lay defiled—Saul’s shield will no longer be anointed with oil. 22From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, Jonathan’s bow never turned back, Saul’s sword never returned empty. 23Saul and Jonathan, loved and delightful, parted neither in life nor death. They were swifter than eagles, stronger than lions. 24Daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and finery, who put ornaments of gold on your clothes. 25How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan on your heights is slain! 26I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan! Very pleasing were you to me. Wonderful was your love to me more than the love of women. 27How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war destroyed!

–from 2 Samuel 1

Do you remember celebrating their lives? Do you remember mourning their loss?

Let’s be reminders to the world around us the importance of turning back to God! Let’s be testimonies of God’s great love and how His ask is that we love Him and love one another! Be it in the old testament where the prophets were speaking out to people on behalf of God to tell them to turn back to God and love Him and obey Him or be it that they were treating one another bad and needed to be treating one another with love, dignity, and respect. Be it in the new testament where Jesus summarized the 10 commandments into 2 – Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and strength and second to love your neighbor as you love yourself. It goes beyond ourselves! It goes beyond trying to make us the center! So let’s live out today so that we make a difference and glorify God!

Restore Your People from Captivity

1For the music director, a psalm of the sons of Korah. 2Adonai, will you favor Your land? Will You restore Jacob from captivity? 3Will You bear away Your people’s iniquity, Will You pardon all their sin? Selah 4Will You withdraw all Your wrath? Will You turn from Your burning anger? 5Restore us, O God of our salvation, and renounce Your indignation with us. 6Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger from generation to generation? 7Will You not revive us again, so Your people may rejoice in You? 8Show us Your mercy, Adonai, and grant us Your salvation. 9Let me hear what God Adonai will say. For He will speak shalom to His people, and to His kedoshim— but let them not turn back to folly. 10Surely His salvation is near those who fear Him, so that glory may dwell in our land. 11Lovingkindness and truth meet together. Righteousness and shalom kiss each other. 12Truth will spring up from the earth, and justice will look down from heaven. 13Yes, Adonai will give what is good, and our land will yield its produce. 14Righteousness is going before Him and prepares a way for His feet.

–from Psalms 85

And let’s do it before it is too late! Let’s make a difference  today! Let’s be light! Let’s be salt! Let’s be love! Don’t be lead astray! Don’t be deceived! Put your hope and trust in God! Allow Jesus to be the center of your life! Follow after Him! Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you all the days of your life! Be prepared! Notice the signs of the times! Don’t lose hope! Don’t give up! Your time to make a difference is now! Don’t miss out! Don’t be left out! Let’s be bold and courageous! Let’s be living the right way and be prepared for the trumpet sound and to be restored and lifted up to meet with and be with Jesus! Let’s be aware of the times we are living in today! God’s Word will last forever! Love the greatest thing will last forever! So grab a hold of the truth and stand firm! Put on the full armor of God and be prepared to make and take a stand today! Let’s live that we may hear “well done my good and faithful servant” from Jesus!

1Now when Yeshua went out and was going away from the Temple, His disciples came up to point out to Him the Temple buildings. 2“Don’t you see all these?” He responded to them. “Amen, I tell you, not one stone will be left here on top of another—every one will be torn down!”

Signs of the End of Time

3As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen? What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” 4Yeshua answered them, “Be careful that no one leads you astray! 5For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will lead many astray. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must happen but it is not yet the end. 7For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8But all these things are only the beginning of birth pains. 9“Then they will hand you over to persecution and will kill you. You will be hated by all the nations because of My name. 10And then many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one other. 11Many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. 13But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14This Good News of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. 15“So when you see ‘the abomination of desolation,’ which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the Holy Place (let the reader understand), 16then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. 17The one on the roof must not go down to take what is in his house, 18and the one in the field must not turn back to get his coat. 19Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20Pray that your escape will not happen in winter, or on Shabbat. 21For then there will be great trouble, such as has not happened since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22And unless those days were cut short, no one would be delivered. But for the sake of the chosen, those days will be cut short. 23“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here’s the Messiah,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe it. 24For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and show great signs and wonders so as to lead astray, if possible, even the chosen. 25See, I have told you beforehand. 26“So if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. Or, ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27For just as lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28For wherever the carcass is, there the vultures will gather. 29“But immediately after the trouble of those days, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light and the stars will fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.’ 30Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the land will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. 31He will send out His angels with a great shofar, and they will gather together His chosen from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Watching for Messiah’s Return

32“Now learn the parable from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33So also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, at the door. 34Amen, I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things happen. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. 36But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven nor the Son, except the Father alone. 37“For just as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. 39And they did not understand until the flood came and swept them all away. So shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two men will be in the field, one taken and one left. 41Two women will be grinding at the mill, one taken and one left. 42Therefore stay alert; for you do not know what day your Lord is coming. 43But know this, that if the master of the house had known what time the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and not let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

The Faithful Servant

45“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master put in charge of his household to give them food at the proper time? 46Blessed is that servant whose master finds him so doing when he comes. 47Amen, I tell you, his master will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48But if that wicked servant says in his heart, ‘My master is taking a long time,’ 49and he begins to beat his fellow servants, and he eats and drinks with drunkards, 50the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know. 51And he will cut him in two and assign his place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

–from Matthew 24

 

 

 

Facing another tough time? Facing another challenge?


How will you respond?

Will you start to wine and complain? Will you grumble and look for someone to blame? Will you start to find reasons to do bad things? Will you riot? Will you become violent?

OR

Will you turn to God? Will you plead your case with Him? Will you ask Him for wisdom? Will you wait upon Him? Will you grab hold of His Word that says “In this world you will have troubles, but take heart because I have overcome the world“? Will you grab hold of His Truth that says “Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, allow your faith to be strengthened building up your ability to endure, and allow your endurance to build up so that you will finish strong being complete, perfect, and lacking nothing“?

Will you remember what He has already done and look forward in anticipation of what He will do next? He produced miracles! He brought freedom! He provided food! How will you respond the next big thing shows up? Will you forget about the past or will grab hold of it and praise God for what He is about to do? Will you forget about the past and start to grumble again? How are you keeping track of and remembering what God has already done for you, in you, and through you?

How will respond?

Will you respond in love? Will you respond with frustration? Will you respond in anger? Will you respond with a gentle hand? Will you respond with a clenched fist? What will your reaction say? What will your body language say? What will your voice say? What will be see in your eyes? What will be the overflow of your heart?

So where are you at today? Are you being faced with another challenge? Are you facing some tough times? How will you respond? Are you ready for the consequences of your response? Choose wisely! Choose the right way! Don’t get tripped up because of you see or what others are saying! Go it God’s way!


Today’s reading starts with preparation and then into responses, let’s take a look…

Red Heifer and Cleansing Water

1Adonai spoke to Moses and Aaron saying, 2“This is the statute of the Torah which Adonai commanded saying: Speak to Bnei-Yisrael that they bring to you a flawless red heifer on which there is no blemish and on which has never been a yoke. 3Give her to Eleazar the kohen. He will take her outside the camp and slaughter her in his presence. 4Then Eleazar the kohen is to take some of the blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the Tent of Meeting. 5“While watching, he is to burn the heifer, her hide, flesh, blood and refuse. 6The kohen is to take some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool, and cast them into the midst of the burning heifer. 7“Afterward, the kohen is to wash his clothes and bathe his flesh with the water, and afterward he may come back into the camp. Still the kohen will be unclean until evening. 8Also the one burning it is to wash his clothes and bathe his flesh with the water, and he will be unclean until evening. 9“A clean man is to gather up the ashes of the heifer and put them in a clean place outside the camp. They are to be for the community of Bnei-Yisrael to use as water of purification from sin. 10“The one who gathers the heifer’s ashes is also to wash his clothes as well as be unclean until evening. It will be a permanent statute for Bnei-Yisrael and for the outsider living among them. 11“Whoever touches any dead body will be unclean for seven days. 12He is to purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day. Then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third and seventh days, he will not be clean. 13Anyone touching the dead body of any man, who does not purify himself, defiles Adonai’s Tabernacle, and that person will be cut off from Israel. Because the cleansing water was not sprinkled on him, he is unclean and his uncleanness will remain on him. 14“This is the Torah for whenever a person dies in a tent. Anyone entering the tent or anyone inside the tent will be unclean seven days. 15Any open container not having a lid fastened on it will also be unclean. 16Anyone out in the open field who touches a dead body, whether killed by a sword or was killed by a natural cause, or touches a human bone or a grave, shall be unclean seven days. 17“For the unclean one, they are to take some of the ash of the burnt purification offering, and pour some fresh water into a jar. 18Then a clean person will take some hyssop, dip it into the water, and, sprinkle it on the tent, all of the furnishings, and the people who were there, as well as the one touching the bone, the one killed, the corpse or the grave. 19The clean person will sprinkle the unclean one on the third and seventh days. He is to purify himself on the seventh day, and on the seventh day he is to wash his clothes and bathe himself in water, and at evening he will be clean. 20However, that man who is unclean but does not purify himself will be cut off from the community. He has defiled the Sanctuary of Adonai, since the cleansing water was not sprinkled on him. He is unclean. 21This will be a permanent ordinance for them. The one sprinkling the cleansing water is also to wash his clothes, and anyone touching the cleansing water will be unclean until evening. 22Anything touched by an unclean person becomes unclean, and anyone touching it will be unclean until evening.”

–from Numbers 19

Now when the challenge shows up how will the response look?

Water from the Rock

1In the first month, the entire community of Bnei-Yisrael arrived at the wilderness of Zin. The people stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried. 2Now there was no water for the community, so they assembled against Moses and Aaron. 3The people quarreled with Moses saying, “If only we had died when our brothers died before Adonai! 4Now why have you brought the community of Adonai into this wilderness, for us and our livestock to die here? 5Why have you brought us from Egypt to bring us to this evil place—a place without grain, fig, grapevine or pomegranate—and there’s no water to drink!” 6So Moses and Aaron went from before the assembly to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and fell on their faces. Then the glory of Adonai appeared to them. 7Adonai spoke to Moses saying, 8“Take the staff and gather the assembly, you and your brother Aaron. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will give out its water. You will bring out water from the rock, and you will give the community something to drink, along with their livestock.” 9So Moses took the staff from before the presence of Adonai, just as He had commanded him. 10Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly in front of the rock. He said, “Listen now, you rebels! Must we bring you water from this rock?” 11Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with the staff. Water gushed out and the community and its livestock drank. 12But Adonai said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in Me so as to esteem Me as holy in the eyes of Bnei-Yisrael, therefore you will not bring this assembly into the land that I have given to them.” 13These are the waters of Meribah where Bnei-Yisrael contended with Moses, and where Adonai showed Himself holy among them.

Edom Denies Passage

14Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom. “Thus says your brother, Israel: ‘You know all the hardship that came on us. 15Our forefathers went down to Egypt, so we lived there for a very long time. The Egyptians mistreated us, and our fathers. 16But we cried out to Adonai, He heard our cry, sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt. See now, we are at Kadesh, a town on the frontier of your territory. 17Permit us to pass through your territory. We will not cross through any field or vineyard or drink water of any well. But we will travel on the king’s highway. We will not deviate to the right or left until we will have passed through your territory.’” 18But Edom said to him, “You may not pass through me—or I will march out against you with the sword.” 19Bnei-Yisrael then said to him, “We will travel on the main road, and if we or our livestock even drink any of your water, we will pay its price. It’s nothing, just to pass through on foot!” 20He answered, “You may not pass through!” Yet Edom came out to oppose them with a large and well-armed people. 21Since Edom refused to permit Israel to cross through her territory, Israel turned away from them.

Aaron Gathered To His People

22The entirety of the community of Bnei-Yisrael set out from Kadesh and came to Mount Hor. 23Now at Mount Hor, near the Edomite border, Adonai said to Moses and Aaron, 24“Aaron will be gathered to his people. He will not enter the land, which I have given to Bnei-Yisrael, because you rebelled against My command at the waters of Meribah. 25Take Aaron and his son Eleazar, and take them up Mount Hor. 26Remove Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar, and Aaron will be gathered up and will die there.” 27Moses did as Adonai commanded. They ascended Mount Hor before the eyes of the whole community. 28Moses removed Aaron’s garments and placed them on Eleazar his son. Aaron died there at the top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar descended the mountain. 29When they saw that Aaron had died, the entire community mourned Aaron 30 days.

–from Numbers 20

Let’s remember what God has done! Let’s celebrate what God has done! Let us not forget how GREAT His LOVE is for us!

In Celebration of God’s Reign

1For the music director, a psalm for the sons of Korah. 2Clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of joy! 3For Adonai Elyon is awesome, a great King over all the earth. 4He subdues peoples under us, and nations under our feet. 5He chooses our inheritance for us, the glory of Jacob whom He loved. Selah 6God is gone up amidst shouting, Adonai amidst the sound of the shofar. 7Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! 8For God is the King of all the earth. Sing praises with a skillful song. 9God reigns over the nations. God sits upon His holy throne. 10The princes of the peoples are gathered as a people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of earth belong to God— He is greatly exalted!

–from Psalms 47

So let’s serve others! Let’s not lead by creating fear, but by serving others! Let’s show them God by the way we serve them! Let’s allow our lives to be a testimony of how great our God is! Let’s allow our lives to be witnessing to everything God is doing in and through our lives! Let’s be servant leaders by following in Jesus’ footsteps! Let’s live in love! Let’s be an example to all those God brings into our path.

Servant Leadership Wins Over All

1Am I not free? Am I not an emissary? Have I not seen Yeshua our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2If to others I am not an emissary, at least I am to you—for you are the seal of my office of emissary in the Lord. 3My defense to those who examine me is this. 4Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5Don’t we have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other emissaries and the Lord’s brothers and Kefa? 6Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to not work? 7What soldier ever serves at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink its milk? 8I don’t say these things merely as a man, do I? Doesn’t Torah also say these things? 9For it is written in the Torah of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is threshing.” Is it the oxen that concern God, 10or is He speaking entirely for our sake? Yes, it was written for our sake, because the one plowing ought to plow in hope and the one threshing in hope of a share in the crop. 11If we sowed spiritual things into you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12If others have a share in this claim over you, shouldn’t we even more? Nevertheless we did not use this right, but we put up with all things so that we cause no hindrance to the Good News of Messiah. 13Don’t you know that those who perform the holy services eat from the Temple, and those who wait on the altar receive a share at the altar? 14So also the Lord ordered those who proclaim the Good News to get their living from the Good News. 15But I have used none of these things, and I am not writing these things so it will happen this way in my case—for I would rather die than let anyone deprive me of my reason to boast. 16For if I proclaim the Good News, I have no reason to boast—for pressure is put on me and woe to me if I don’t proclaim the Good News!17For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward. But if not of my own will, I have been entrusted with a commission. 18What then is my reward? That when I preach, I may present the Good News free of charge, not making use of my right in the Good News. 19For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win over more of them. 20To the Jewish people I identified as a Jew, so that I might win over the Jewish people. To those under Torah I became like one under Torah (though not myself being under Torah), so that I might win over those under Torah; 21to those outside Torah, like one outside Torah (though not being outside God’s Torah but in Messiah’s Torah), so that I might win over those outside Torah. 22To the weak I became weak, so that I might win over the weak. I have become all things to all men, so that by all means possible I might save some. 23I do it all for the sake of the Good News, so that I might be a fellow partaker of it. 24Don’t you know that in a stadium the runners all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win! 25Every competitor exercises self-control in all respects. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we do it to receive an imperishable one. 26So I run in this way—not aimlessly. So I box in this way—not beating the air. 27Rather, I punish my body and bring it into submission, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

–from 1 Corinthians 9

So let’s till the soil to soften hearts! So let’s plan seeds to bring encouragement! So let’s water that they are filled! Then let’s give it up to God who will make it grow! Let’s be helping create and find good soil! Let’s help pull up the weeds! Let’s help protect the seeds from the lies and attacks like a spiritual scarecrow!

Storytelling Opens Hearts

1Again Yeshua began to teach by the sea. A large crowd gathered around Him, so He got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the crowd was by the sea on the land. 2He began teaching them many things by parables, and in His teaching, He said to them: 3“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to spread some seed. 4It happened that as he sowed, some fell beside the road; and the birds came and ate it up. 5“Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it didn’t have much soil. It sprang up immediately, because the soil wasn’t deep. 6But when the sun came up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7“Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8“And others fell into the good soil and were producing fruit, springing up and increasing. They yielded a crop, producing thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” 9And He said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 10When Yeshua was alone, those around Him with the Twelve started asking Him about the parables. 11And He told them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God. But for those who are outside, everything is in parables, so that 12‘Seeing, they may see and not perceive, and hearing, they may hear and not understand, so they may not turn back and be forgiven.’” 13He said to them, “Don’t you grasp this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? 14The sower sows the word. 15These are the ones beside the road where the word is sown. Whenever they hear, satan comes quickly and takes away the word that has been sown in them. 16“These are the ones sown on rocky ground. When they hear the word, immediately they receive it with joy. 17And they have no root in themselves but last only a short while. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately they fall away. 18“And others are the ones sown among the thorns. They have heard the word; 19but the worries of the world, the seduction of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20“And those are the ones sown on the good soil. They hear the word and accept it and produce fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”

Reaping What You Sow

21He also was saying to them, “Is a lamp put under a basket or a bed? No, shouldn’t it be placed on a lampstand? 22For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, nor anything kept secret except that it would come to light. 23If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24Then He continued, “Pay attention to what you hear. With the measure you use, it will be measured to you; and more will be added to you. 25For whoever has, to him more will be given. And whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

What Is the Kingdom of God Like?

26And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like when a man spreads seed on the soil 27and falls asleep at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows. He himself doesn’t know how. 28Automatically, the earth brings forth a crop—first the blade, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29But when the grain is ready, at once he sends in the sickle, for the harvest has come.” 30Yeshua also said, “How should we picture the kingdom of God? Or by what story shall we present it? 31It is like a mustard seed when it’s planted in the ground. Though the smallest of all seeds in the earth, yet when planted it grows up and becomes the largest of all the herbs. 32It puts forth big branches, so the birds of the air can nest in its shade.” 33With many such parables He used to tell them the word, as much as they were able to hear. 34But apart from a parable, He wasn’t speaking to them. Yet when they were alone, to His own disciples He would explain everything.

Power Over Nature

35Now on that same day in the evening, He says to them, “Let’s cross over to the other side.” 36After leaving the crowd, they take Him along in the boat, just as He was. And other boats were with Him. 37A great windstorm arises, and the waves were rushing into the boat. The boat was beginning to fill up. 38But Yeshua was in the back of the boat, sleeping on a pillow. They wake Him up and say to Him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are perishing?” 39So He woke up and rebuked the wind. And He said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind stopped, and it became totally calm. 40And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Even now you have no faith?” 41They were struck with awe and said to one another, “Who is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

–from Mark 4

When you are having a discussion…


Are you listening to the other person or thinking about what you will say next? Are you actively listening to what the person is saying so that you are sure you are getting it? Are you more interested in what you have to say than what they are telling you? This is a problem! Especially if there is a conflict since you won’t really get their side of the story!

If we start with the advice we first get from today’s reading, we hear:

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

–from James 1

If we consider the priority order of this instruction we see that first we need to hear what the person is saying — active listening — I remember when I took calls in tech support this was a very important skill. You are acknowledging what they are saying and if you don’t understand something you get clarification. You aren’t challenging or arguing, you are just working to make sure they know you are hearing them and making sure you know what the actual problem or reason for their being upset, frustrated, or angry. It’s not always easy, but it is the right thing to do when in the middle of a situation! Rather than fighting each other, put the target on the actual problem! We have two ears and 1 mouth so let’s try to listen twice as much as we speak! Our reading tells us to be slow to speak, let’s make sure we don’t overreact or blow things out of proportions but rather gather the information necessary to move forward! Getting angry won’t reduce the conflict, it will in most cases cause it to escalate! And that doesn’t do either of you any good. Our reading not only tells us priority of actions, it also gives us instructions on how to get there by getting rid of the junk that gets in the way! We need to get rid of the intention or desire to do evil! We need to get rid of immoral behavior! We need to be humble! We need to humbly receive the Word of God! We need to humbly accept the Word of God placed in us! It can be the thing that saves our soul. It will help us walk in alignment with God! It can direct us into a relationship with Jesus! And Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light — Romans puts it this way “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” and Acts puts it this way “believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved“. We need to be able to listen to what God is saying in and through the situation! We need to be able to hear what the heart of the other person is also saying!


So today,
let’s be quick to listen,
slow to speak,
and
even slower to get angry!


 

Today’s devotional (Conflict At Work day 3) also speaks about this verse. This is what they have to say on the subject…

Be Quick to Listen

Christians need to listen well, both to people and to God. “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). You listen, not as a technique to influence others, but as a way to let God’s word “rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness” (James 1:21). Listening well to others removes our anger and arrogance. When others speak words that we do not welcome—words of disagreement, criticism or dismissal—it is easy to respond in anger, especially in high-pressure situations. But doing so usually makes our position worse and discredits our witness as Christ’s servants.

When approaching a co-worker about conflict, you must set aside your self-justification long enough to listen to what the other person has to say. This is very difficult! But it works. Your goal at first is not to come to agreement, but just to understand the other person’s point of view. Say something like, “I realize that this is coming between us, so I want to start by listening to how you see things.” Then listen without interrupting. Repeat back what the other person said without modifications or corrections. “I think you said…. Is that right?” You may have to try several times until you get it so the other person can respond, “Yes that is what I said.” Success!

Now ask the other person to listen to your perspective and repeat it back to you, just as you did for him or her. Repeat until the other person actually repeats what you said, without asking the person to agree with it.

Now you both understand the other person’s point of view. You may still disagree. Yet most of the time, the feeling of being heard and respected is so wonderful that both of you have a new energy and sense of working together. Now you can begin to find a solution to the conflict that you can both live with.

Video

Watch this short video about being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.

Prayer

Dear God, It is difficult to listen and not defend my own position. Help me approach conflict with meekness, humility and a heart that is willing to truly understand another’s perspective. Amen.

Further Exploration

Click to read more from the Theology of Work Project about listening in James 1.

–from Conflict At Work (day 3)