THRIVE: The middle, the beginning, press towards the finish.

Well, it’s time again to decide how you will handle your midweek situation. Will it be a speed bump? Will it be a ramp to get you ahead? Will it be a blocker holding you back? The decision is up to you. Today is the beginning of ECNL Girls National Championship play with the opportunity for the local girls to win in their own state. So today be it at work, at home, in the office, or on the field, let’s choose to ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us! Let’s choose to ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen us and encourage us! Let’s choose to ask the Holy Spirit to be our advocate, our counselor, and our guide to help us live our lives to the full in order that we may thrive, living for the glory of God!


Today’s Verse of the Day:

‘ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. ‘

Proverbs 9:10

Today’s post from Be The Dads is Just For Dads: Be A Positive Christian Role Model – Day 21

Where are you at today? What is your perspective? How will you choose to see things? How will you adjust your perspective? Invite Jesus into your heart! Invite Jesus into your life! Allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you!

If you pray today’s prayer with me feel free to let me know so I can pray with you and for you too. (If you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment then you can always try email.

Let’s Pray!

Prayer Of Salvation
"Oh Father God, I believe with all of my heart that Jesus died on the cross for my sake and has risen from the dead. Lord, I receive Your Word and I repent of my sins. I renounce the past. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. I receive my forgiveness. I receive the new birth, cleansed and washed in the Word and in the precious blood of Jesus. Fill me with Your Spirit, in Jesus' name. Amen."

THRIVE: Another great week begins…

It’s Monday already, where has the time gone. After a weekend of excitement and travel, it’s time to prepare for a new work week. An exciting new week is kicking off with some great opportunities to collaborate with partner teams, onboard a college intern, and continue to work on helping move the product development, features, and requirements forward. Every week there is something exciting to make each week a great week with great managers, peers, and partners. Oh, what a week we will have!


‘Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. ‘

James 4:7

Today’s post from Be The Dads is
Popular – Day 6

Are you ready for today? Are you ready to spur others on today? Are you ready to encourage others today? Are you ready to invite Jesus into your heart? Are you ready to invite Jesus into your situation? Are you ready to ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment to help you? Are you ready to make today great?

If you pray today’s prayer with me feel free to let me know so I can pray with you and for you too. (If you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment then you can always try email.

Let’s Pray!

Prayer Of Salvation
"Oh Father God, I believe with all of my heart that Jesus died on the cross for my sake and has risen from the dead. Lord, I receive Your Word and I repent of my sins. I renounce the past. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. I receive my forgiveness. I receive the new birth, cleansed and washed in the Word and in the precious blood of Jesus. Fill me with Your Spirit, in Jesus' name. Amen."

THRIVE: A New Chapter Begins…

As I prepare for this day and think of the week that is about to begin I am excited by the opportunity to join a new team of people and work on some exciting new tech. The part of the team I met before accepting to join was incredible and I look forward to working closely with all of them and getting to meet many others I haven’t met yet. God opened a door to a new opportunity as a sign for a time to change. God provided affirmation of the decision and as I start my first day I look forward to getting to see what God is going to do in and through my time here.

As the previous chapter is behind me and I am thankful for the time, the opportunities, and most of all the people. I had the honor and pleasure of receiving the most incredible welcome when I joined and continued my part in making sure as many people as I could get welcomed into the company while I was there, showing up at the reception desk to try and catch and welcome the new people on Mondays and helping them feel like they were already a part of the team. I got to meet people at all levels of the company and from all areas who were going to get to work from the office. As I closed out the chapter, the last day wasn’t what I had hoped as thanks to COVID and so many people working from home there were very few people around and so many of the interactions had to be done virtually either through Slack or Zoom. Wishing them all the best into the future and that God’s light that was shining there will continue even with me having left. Praying that the Happy Today’s will help them to smile, spread the joy and be a team that encourages one another and works towards providing the customers the best experience possible.

As we get started today we need to grab onto the reality of what is taking place. Like the writers of the gospels, we need to slow down and capture the details of what this week is about. The fact that one-third of the gospels is about the last week of Jesus’s life means we need to take time to absorb it, understand it, and celebrate what it means for us today. Let’s consider making time to read the passion week story from each of the four gospels so that we are ready for Good Friday and to step into Easter aka Resurrection weekend. This is the day that the Lord has made, so let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Verse of the Day:

‘Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! ‘

Philippians 2:6-8

Today’s post from Be The Dads is The Heart Of The Father – Day 3

So where are you today? Are you in a place where you need restoration? Are you in a place where you need a reconciliation? Are you in a place where you need healing? Are you in a place where you need compassion? Are you in a place where you need love? Are you in a place where you need hope? Then today is the day you need to invite Jesus into your heart and your life!

If you pray today’s prayer with me feel free to let me know so I can pray with you and for you too. (If you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment then you can always try email or text.

Let’s Pray!

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and there is nothing that I can do to save myself. I confess my complete helplessness to forgive my own sin or to work my way to heaven. At this moment I trust Christ alone as the One who bore my sin when He died on the cross. I believe that He did all that will ever be necessary for me to stand in your holy presence. I thank you that Christ was raised from the dead as a guarantee of my own resurrection. As best as I can, I now transfer my trust to Him. I am grateful that He has promised to receive me despite my many sins and failures. Father, I take you at your word. I thank you that I can face death now that you are my Savior. Thank you for the assurance that you will walk with me through the deep valley. Thank you for hearing this prayer. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

How does the way you start your day set the tone for how you will live it out? Ready to get your day launched right?

Do you have a wake up routine? Do you have a flow or process you go through? Does it vary? Does any variation in the flow or process impact the way you live out that day? Are there parts of your start that are non-negotiable? Are there parts of your beginning that if missed or changed will impact your state of mind or behavior during the rest of your day?

For me, I know I pray for my family and for my day before I get out of my bed. I thank God for this new day and for everything that will be in it. I thank God and pray for my wife and her day and everything that will be in it. I thank God for each of my kids and pray for each of them and their day and everything that will be in it. I thank God for my parents and my sister and pray for each of them and their day and everything that will be in it. I thank God for my mother-in-law and brother-in-law and pray for each of them and their day and everything that will be in it. Then I lift up my day to God and ask that He grant me wisdom and discernment to make it through well as well as for Him to take my schedule and adjust it as He sees fit to help me get His plans and purposes done in and through my life on this day. This is a key and important part of my day getting started.

Another part of the key element of my day is turning to God’s Word. Be it through a reading plan, a devotional, or something else that God has put on my heart, I turn to that to help get filled up for the day in order to be able to overflow God’s love, mercy, and grace into all the people He will bring into my life on that day. Once I complete my reading and post to my blog, share the post on social media in order to speak life and hope to all those God has put into my life and connected me to over social media platforms. I tend to take a few moments to wish people happy birthday, happy anniversary, or pray over prayer requests before getting up and getting for the my day. Prayed up! Read up! Filled up! And now this new day, my TODAY, the day that the Lord has made, is ready to start filled with joy for the joy of the Lord is my strength and so I can live out my TODAY as a Happy Today!

How about you? How does the way you start your day set the tone for how you will live it out?

The One Year Daily Insights with Zig Ziglar and Dr. Ike Reighard
for September 26th

Start Each Day Right


‘This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.’

Psalms 118:24

  • Is there anything that is holding you back?
  • Is there anything that is causing you to hesitate as you start your today?
  • Is there something that is a barrier or blocker to getting off the starting block this morning?
  • Is there something that is keeping you from being able to launch into your today?
  • Dead-end job? Strained relationship? Empty feeling?
  • Is there anything keeping you from leaping out of bed and into your today?
  • Is there something you are dreading about your today?
  • Ready for a change of perspective?
  • Ready to change those barriers or blockers?
  • Let’s stop focusing on how big the issue, the barrier, the blocker, or something else and instead let’s start to focus on how big our God is!
  • Let’s start to focus on how with God all things are possible!
  • Let’s start to focus on how nothing is impossible with God!
  • Let’s start to focus on how the day belongs to God and start rejoicing in it!
  • Let’s start out our day without barriers or blockers but with the infinite possibilities comes from a relationship with Jesus!
  • Can you imagine being one of Jesus’s disciples and how they must have felt waking up with Jesus there with them and the wonder and excitement of what that day was going to be?
  • Jesus is with us today! So we don’t need to dread our today!
  • Let’s start our day with the same awe and wonder they would have had having breakfast with Jesus wondering what amazing thing they would see and so what amazing thing we will see in our today!
  • Are you ready for the fantastic day God has prepared for you to live out today?
  • Can you feel the excitement building and the energy filling you up as you consider what miracles Jesus will be doing in, through, and with you today?
  • He made today! So let’s make it count!
  • He made today! So let’s rejoice in it!
  • He made today! So let’s be prepared to accomplish the good works He has prepared in advance for us to accomplish!
  • Are you ready to experience His presence today?
  • Are you ready to experience His plans today?
  • Let’s receive and accept this gift from God called today!
  • Let’s rejoice and be glad in it!
  • Let’s be ready and aware sot hat we won’t miss the work He will do in us, through us, and around us!
  • Let’s rejoice and be glad in it!

  • What would it have been like to be one of the disciples and watch Jesus every day?
  • How does it affect your attitude about today to realize that you walk with the risen Christ and that today is His gift to you?


“I’m convinced that millions of people today don’t know the Lord because of the long-faced, poor, suffering-little-me, self-sacrificing, tell-everybody-all-their-troubles Christians who act like their second birth was just as painful to them as their first one was to their mothers.”

Zig Ziglar

Today’s reading from Tanakh:

So where are you at today? How did you start your day? Are you ready to restart, get refueled, get refilled, and start overflowing love to the world around you? Are you ready to start being filled up by the source? Why not get it started today! Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father 
I come to you in prayer asking for the 
forgiveness of my Sins. I confess with my 
mouth and believe with my heart that 
Jesus is your Son, And that he died on the 
Cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven. 
and have Eternal Life in the Kingdom of 
Heaven. Father, I believe that Jesus rose 
from the dead and I ask you right now to 
come in to my life and be my personal 
Lord and Savior. I repent of my Sins and 
will Worship you all the day's of my Life!
Because your word is truth, I confess with 
my mouth that I am Born Again and 
Cleansed by the Blood of Jesus! In Jesus 
Name, Amen
Heavenly Father
I come to you in prayer asking for the
forgiveness of my Sins. I confess with my
mouth and believe with my heart that
Jesus is your Son, And that he died on the
Cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven.
and have Eternal Life in the Kingdom of
Heaven. Father, I believe that Jesus rose
from the dead and I ask you right now to
come in to my life and be my personal
Lord and Savior. I repent of my Sins and
will Worship you all the day’s of my Life!
Because your word is truth, I confess with
my mouth that I am Born Again and
Cleansed by the Blood of Jesus! In Jesus
Name, Amen

Did you pray with me?
Would you be willing to leave me a comment so that I can pray with and for you about such an incredible decision?

Or if you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment on my blog, why not email or text me instead?

New Beginnings…Decisions that will impact the rest of your life…

After Easter there are many who have a new beginning. After Easter there are many that have made a decision that will transform the rest of their lives. After Easter many have had an encounter with the power of the resurrection and what that means and says about Jesus and about themselves. After Easter many have decided to believe rather than live in disbelief. After Easter many hearts have been opened and the purification process is beginning. After Easter and the realization of Jesus’s sacrifice for all of humanity to pay the ultimate price because that is the only thing that would be able to satisfy God’s character and make a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled to God. After Easter and the realize that Jesus isn’t in the tomb but He was resurrected, conquered the power of sin and death, and has opened the door into eternity with God for those who will choose to believe.

It’s Monday, the start of the work week. Consider the decisions that you will make and their impact on the rest of your life. It’s not too late! Our words, our actions, and our responses make a difference and so today let’s choose wisely in order to have a Happy Monday!

The One Year Daily Insights with Zig Ziglar and Dr. Ike Reighard 
for April 5th

“Why have you forsaken me”


‘And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”’

  • The story of the cross
  • Jesus was more than just a good man who died for his beliefs
  • Jesus was more than just a soldier who died for the people around him
  • Jesus was more than a martyr
  • Jesus was more than a teacher
  • Jesus was Almighty God!
  • Jesus is Almighty God who stepped out of heaven and came humbly to the earth for a specific purpose that only He could achieve
  • Jesus came that we could be saved! redeemed! transformed!
  • Jesus took our place for our sins on the cross
  • For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • The weight of the world was on His shoulders, the weight of every sin, yours, mine, and everyone else’s
  • He took on the penalty in order to make a way for us to be reconciled to God
  • He took on the penalty so that we could have the choice and the opportunity to accept Him and receive God’s grace
  • When He gave up His life (that’s right gave up, nobody took it from Him) He finished the work He had come to do
  • God stepped away as Jesus took on all the sins of the world and receive the punishment that we deserved, poured out on Jesus
  • Jesus took on all the wrath, the judgment, and the penalty for every sin that was nailed to the cross with Jesus
  • The only way it could happen was for God to step away and allow it
  • It was finished though when Jesus gave up his last breath and sealed the victory by paying the price
  • Three days later Jesus rose again, defeating sin and death, with the resurrection power
  • Jesus gave His life for us on the cross to make a way when there didn’t seem to be a way
  • Jesus took it on all alone, abandoned and condemned for you and me.

What do you think that moment was like for Jesus?
  • Painful
  • Sad
  • Lonely
What does it tell you about His grace and His love for you?
  • God’s grace is enough!
  • God’s love is so great that He gave Jesus that we could be saved.
  • Jesus didn’t come so that we would be condemned but rather that though Him the world could be saved!


The only question Jesus ever asked God is `Why have you forsaken me?’ This is the same question most every believer asks at some point in their spiritual journey.”

Ike Reighard

Today’s reading from Tanakh:

Where are you at today? Are you looking for guidance? Are you wondering where to turn? Are you at the end of your rope and needing help? Are you ready for some help? Are you ready to turn to God and ask? seek? knock? Let’s pray together.

Heavenly Father 
I come to you in prayer asking for the 
forgiveness of my Sins. I confess with my 
mouth and believe with my heart that 
Jesus is your Son, And that he died on the 
Cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven. 
and have Eternal Life in the Kingdom of 
Heaven. Father, I believe that Jesus rose 
from the dead and I ask you right now to 
come in to my life and be my personal 
Lord and Savior. I repent of my Sins and 
will Worship you all the day's of my Life!
Because your word is truth, I confess with 
my mouth that I am Born Again and 
Cleansed by the Blood of Jesus! In Jesus 
Name, Amen
Heavenly Father
I come to you in prayer asking for the
forgiveness of my Sins. I confess with my
mouth and believe with my heart that
Jesus is your Son, And that he died on the
Cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven.
and have Eternal Life in the Kingdom of
Heaven. Father, I believe that Jesus rose
from the dead and I ask you right now to
come in to my life and be my personal
Lord and Savior. I repent of my Sins and
will Worship you all the day’s of my Life!
Because your word is truth, I confess with
my mouth that I am Born Again and
Cleansed by the Blood of Jesus! In Jesus
Name, Amen

Did you pray with me?
Would you be willing to leave me a comment so that I can pray with and for you about such an incredible decision?

Or if you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment on my blog, why not email or text me instead?

Did you pray with me?
Would you be willing to leave me a comment so that I can pray with and for you about such an incredible decision?

Or if you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment on my blog, why not email or text me instead?

Back to the beginning…

Ever gone back somewhere after having been gone for a long time? Ever wondered what will it be like? Ever considered what might have changed? Is it the same setup? Is it the same people? Are they as welcoming? Are they as approachable? Will it be worth it? Will it change anything? Does it feel new? Does it feel different? Are you ready to walk in to something new? Well today let’s find out after sleeping most of the flight, getting a ride to the place, getting a good night sleep so be it abbreviated, showered and dressed, finishing my morning reading, and then will for a ride and get back to the beginning…

Day 34: 2020 Hindsight
— The 49-Week Challenge – Day 34 —

Want to join me in the challenge? Click Day 34 link to join link here to join me and sign up.

Let’s share our takeaways from today’s reading! Did you catch and promises to trust? Did you catch any commands to obey? Did you catch any truths to embrace? Did you catch any warnings to heed? Did you catch any encouragement to rest in? What did you learn about God? What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about the world? What verse stood out most to you today?

If you are interested in getting together or sharing the information together, please let me know through the comment section below, through email, or even through text messages.

Today’s reading from God’s Word – the Bible comes to us from: (I have chosen to use NIV translation, but feel free to choose whichever version you feel more comfortable with)

My Notes:

  • Are you willing?
  • Are you able?
  • Do you understand authority?
  • Do you believe enough to just obey?
  • Do you believe enough that if Jesus says it you will do it?
  • Do you believe enough that whatever Jesus says will be?
  • Do you have faith to believe even before you see it?
  • Don’t lose hope but turn back to God for his love endures forever!
  • Will you share your story(ies) of what God has done for you as one of His redeemed?
  • How far will you wander lost before you will stop and turn back to God and cry out to Him?
  • How bad does it have to get before you will stop and turn to God and cry out to Him and be saved from your distress?
  • Will you live humbly?
  • Will you seek wisdom and become wise and ponder the loving kindness of God?
  • Are you ready for renewal?
  • Are you ready for revival?
  • Are you ready to go back to what God has given you?
  • Will you receive God’s discipline?
  • What from the past is missing from what you will experience today?
  • What has gotten better?
  • Do you realize that God is love?
  • Do you realize how much God loves you?
  • God so loved you that He sent Jesus who gave His life in order that you can be saved from eternal judgment.
  • Are you giving your best to God?
  • Will your life today be a good and pleasing sacrifice to God?
  • Have you been transformed? Have you been covered by the blood of Jesus in order to make you clean, white as snow?

As day 34 of 2020 begins, I would hate to miss giving the opportunity to anyone who hasn’t received Jesus into their lives as their Lord and Savior an opportunity to make the decision this early into 2020 and the blessing to get to live out the rest of 2020 in that power and that truth and that hope.

If you would like to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, why not join me in this prayer?

Did you pray with me? Would you be willing to leave me a comment so that I can pray with and for you about such an incredible decision? Or if you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment on my blog, why not email or text me instead?

Today’s devotional comes from Life.Church. For more information, please visit — Thank you Life.Church for sharing this reading plan through

What do you do with new beginnings?

How do you handle the change? How do you prepare to start over? How do you close out the finish of the previous in order to move forward with the new?

As I ask all these questions, I think of the verse from 2 Corinthians 5:17 which says:

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17

Be it a change in your physical, emotional, or spiritual life, how will you get started? Will you turn to the manual for life? Will you turn to God? Will you ask Jesus? Will you ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and direction? Will you ask the Holy Spirit for peace and comfort through the transition? Will you be rejuvenated and excited as you step up and step into this new season?

Today’s reading from God’s Word comes to use from:

  • Nehemiah 7:5-73
  • Ezekiel 47:13-23
  • Ezekiel 48
  • Acts 24:10-27
  • Revelation 18:1-10
  • Psalms 139

Will you answer the call God puts on your life? Will you pursue the idea He gives you?

Consider the instructions He gives you to accomplish this task. Even if it seems larger than you are able, trust Him. Learn from experiences like the moments when I was given the options of doing what God said or be nothing and receive the call.

Receive what God has for you and what He has prepared in advance for you.

He has gone before us preparing in advance the good works He has for us to do.

He goes before us preparing a room in heaven for all of us who choose to receive the gift of grace through Jesus Christ.

Be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within you.

Be prepared to give an answer for the hope you have.

Be prepared to give an answer for the joy that is in you.

Submit to the authority put over you.

Serve others with the authority you have been given so as to be a servant leader following Jesus’s example.

Don’t be tempted into committing sin, resist the devil and He will flee.

God knows, so you can find rest in Him. Pursue Him and His will for you.

So where are you at today? My hope and prayer is that You will ask Jesus into your heart so that I will get to spend eternity in God’s presence with you. Are you ready for forgiveness and peace? Are you ready for a hope and a future? Are you ready for a transformation where the old is gone and the new has come? Are you ready to being the journey of knowing right from wrong? Then let’s pray together to invite Jesus into your heart and your life so that His peace which surpasses all understanding can guide you and comfort you, protect your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. If this is the first time you have prayed to invite Jesus into your heart, leave me a comment so that I can rejoice with the angels in Heaven. If this is a re commitment to Jesus, leave me a comment so that I can rejoice with the angels in Heaven. If you are still questioning or seeking, don’t go it alone, feel free to leave me a comment so we can discuss it.

Let’s pray:

Are you ready?

You’ve been through so much. You have pressed in and pressed on. You have persevered and been shaped and transformed. You have been able to consider it pure joy. You have been able to take heart. You have been able let go of the pain. You have been able to forgive. You have been able to let go of the persecution. You have made it to the new starting line. Are you ready for all you have been called to? Are you ready to step into what God has prepared and positioned and called you to? Are you prepared to lead? Are you prepared to be restored? Are you prepared for God’s provision? Are you prepared for prosperity? Are you ready to be …?

Today’s reading from God’s Word gets us started with David after all the service, the running, the hiding, the battles, the pressure, the joys, the sorrows, no being anointed king in 2 Samuel 2…

‘After this, David asked the Lord , “Should I move back to one of the towns of Judah?” “Yes,” the Lord replied. Then David asked, “Which town should I go to?” “To Hebron,” the Lord answered. David’s two wives were Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel. So David and his wives and his men and their families all moved to Judah, and they settled in the villages near Hebron. Then the men of Judah came to David and anointed him king over the people of Judah. When David heard that the men of Jabesh-gilead had buried Saul, he sent them this message: “May the Lord bless you for being so loyal to your master Saul and giving him a decent burial. May the Lord be loyal to you in return and reward you with his unfailing love! And I, too, will reward you for what you have done. Now that Saul is dead, I ask you to be my strong and loyal subjects like the people of Judah, who have anointed me as their new king.” But Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had already gone to Mahanaim with Saul’s son Ishbosheth. There he proclaimed Ishbosheth king over Gilead, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, the land of the Ashurites, and all the rest of Israel. Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he became king, and he ruled from Mahanaim for two years. Meanwhile, the people of Judah remained loyal to David. David made Hebron his capital, and he ruled as king of Judah for seven and a half years. One day Abner led Ishbosheth’s troops from Mahanaim to Gibeon. About the same time, Joab son of Zeruiah led David’s troops out and met them at the pool of Gibeon. The two groups sat down there, facing each other from opposite sides of the pool. Then Abner suggested to Joab, “Let’s have a few of our warriors fight hand to hand here in front of us.” “All right,” Joab agreed. So twelve men were chosen to fight from each side—twelve men of Benjamin representing Ishbosheth son of Saul, and twelve representing David. Each one grabbed his opponent by the hair and thrust his sword into the other’s side so that all of them died. So this place at Gibeon has been known ever since as the Field of Swords. A fierce battle followed that day, and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by the forces of David. Joab, Abishai, and Asahel—the three sons of Zeruiah—were among David’s forces that day. Asahel could run like a gazelle, and he began chasing Abner. He pursued him relentlessly, not stopping for anything. When Abner looked back and saw him coming, he called out, “Is that you, Asahel?” “Yes, it is,” he replied. “Go fight someone else!” Abner warned. “Take on one of the younger men, and strip him of his weapons.” But Asahel kept right on chasing Abner. Again Abner shouted to him, “Get away from here! I don’t want to kill you. How could I ever face your brother Joab again?” But Asahel refused to turn back, so Abner thrust the butt end of his spear through Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He stumbled to the ground and died there. And everyone who came by that spot stopped and stood still when they saw Asahel lying there. When Joab and Abishai found out what had happened, they set out after Abner. The sun was just going down as they arrived at the hill of Ammah near Giah, along the road to the wilderness of Gibeon. Abner’s troops from the tribe of Benjamin regrouped there at the top of the hill to take a stand. Abner shouted down to Joab, “Must we always be killing each other? Don’t you realize that bitterness is the only result? When will you call off your men from chasing their Israelite brothers?” Then Joab said, “God only knows what would have happened if you hadn’t spoken, for we would have chased you all night if necessary.” So Joab blew the ram’s horn, and his men stopped chasing the troops of Israel. All that night Abner and his men retreated through the Jordan Valley. They crossed the Jordan River, traveling all through the morning, and didn’t stop until they arrived at Mahanaim. Meanwhile, Joab and his men also returned home. When Joab counted his casualties, he discovered that only 19 men were missing in addition to Asahel. But 360 of Abner’s men had been killed, all from the tribe of Benjamin. Joab and his men took Asahel’s body to Bethlehem and buried him there in his father’s tomb. Then they traveled all night and reached Hebron at daybreak.’

2 Samuel 2

‘The following message came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah. This was also the eighteenth year of the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar. Jerusalem was then under siege from the Babylonian army, and Jeremiah was imprisoned in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace. King Zedekiah had put him there, asking why he kept giving this prophecy: “This is what the Lord says: ‘I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will take it. King Zedekiah will be captured by the Babylonians and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face. He will take Zedekiah to Babylon, and I will deal with him there,’ says the Lord . ‘If you fight against the Babylonians, you will never succeed.’” At that time the Lord sent me a message. He said, “Your cousin Hanamel son of Shallum will come and say to you, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth. By law you have the right to buy it before it is offered to anyone else.’” Then, just as the Lord had said he would, my cousin Hanamel came and visited me in the prison. He said, “Please buy my field at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. By law you have the right to buy it before it is offered to anyone else, so buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that the message I had heard was from the Lord . So I bought the field at Anathoth, paying Hanamel seventeen pieces of silver for it. I signed and sealed the deed of purchase before witnesses, weighed out the silver, and paid him. Then I took the sealed deed and an unsealed copy of the deed, which contained the terms and conditions of the purchase, and I handed them to Baruch son of Neriah and grandson of Mahseiah. I did all this in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, the witnesses who had signed the deed, and all the men of Judah who were there in the courtyard of the guardhouse. Then I said to Baruch as they all listened, “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Take both this sealed deed and the unsealed copy, and put them into a pottery jar to preserve them for a long time.’ For this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Someday people will again own property here in this land and will buy and sell houses and vineyards and fields.’” Then after I had given the papers to Baruch, I prayed to the Lord : “O Sovereign Lord ! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you! You show unfailing love to thousands, but you also bring the consequences of one generation’s sin upon the next. You are the great and powerful God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. You have all wisdom and do great and mighty miracles. You see the conduct of all people, and you give them what they deserve. You performed miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt—things still remembered to this day! And you have continued to do great miracles in Israel and all around the world. You have made your name famous to this day. “You brought Israel out of Egypt with mighty signs and wonders, with a strong hand and powerful arm, and with overwhelming terror. You gave the people of Israel this land that you had promised their ancestors long before—a land flowing with milk and honey. Our ancestors came and conquered it and lived in it, but they refused to obey you or follow your word. They have not done anything you commanded. That is why you have sent this terrible disaster upon them. “See how the siege ramps have been built against the city walls! Through war, famine, and disease, the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, who will conquer it. Everything has happened just as you said. And yet, O Sovereign Lord , you have told me to buy the field—paying good money for it before these witnesses—even though the city will soon be handed over to the Babylonians.” Then this message came to Jeremiah from the Lord : “I am the Lord , the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me? Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I will hand this city over to the Babylonians and to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and he will capture it. The Babylonians outside the walls will come in and set fire to the city. They will burn down all these houses where the people provoked my anger by burning incense to Baal on the rooftops and by pouring out liquid offerings to other gods. Israel and Judah have done nothing but wrong since their earliest days. They have infuriated me with all their evil deeds,” says the Lord . “From the time this city was built until now, it has done nothing but anger me, so I am determined to get rid of it. “The sins of Israel and Judah—the sins of the people of Jerusalem, the kings, the officials, the priests, and the prophets—have stirred up my anger. My people have turned their backs on me and have refused to return. Even though I diligently taught them, they would not receive instruction or obey. They have set up their abominable idols right in my own Temple, defiling it. They have built pagan shrines to Baal in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing. What an incredible evil, causing Judah to sin so greatly! “Now I want to say something more about this city. You have been saying, ‘It will fall to the king of Babylon through war, famine, and disease.’ But this is what the Lord , the God of Israel, says: I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury. I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land. “This is what the Lord says: Just as I have brought all these calamities on them, so I will do all the good I have promised them. Fields will again be bought and sold in this land about which you now say, ‘It has been ravaged by the Babylonians, a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’ Yes, fields will once again be bought and sold—deeds signed and sealed and witnessed—in the land of Benjamin and here in Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the hill country, in the foothills of Judah and in the Negev, too. For someday I will restore prosperity to them. I, the Lord , have spoken!”’

Jeremiah 32

‘Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus said, “Listen, we’re going up to Jerusalem, where all the predictions of the prophets concerning the Son of Man will come true. He will be handed over to the Romans, and he will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit upon. They will flog him with a whip and kill him, but on the third day he will rise again.” But they didn’t understand any of this. The significance of his words was hidden from them, and they failed to grasp what he was talking about. As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road. When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening. They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” “Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord,” he said, “I want to see!” And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.’

Luke 18:31-43

‘The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. ‘

Hebrews 10:1-4

‘What mighty praise, O God, belongs to you in Zion. We will fulfill our vows to you, for you answer our prayers. All of us must come to you. Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all. What joy for those you choose to bring near, those who live in your holy courts. What festivities await us inside your holy Temple. You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. You formed the mountains by your power and armed yourself with mighty strength. You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations. Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy. You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture, and the hillsides blossom with joy. The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. They all shout and sing for joy!’

Psalms 65

Is it the end or just a new beginning…

Is it the end of the race or just the start of the next lap?

Consider what you have learned in this chapter of your life. Consider the life lessons that have shaped you and changed you. Consider the life lessons that you will take with you and be able to share with others. Consider the people who poured into your life. Consider the people whose lives you got to pour into. This isn’t the end, it is just the beginning of the next chapter of your life.

Remember graduating from kindergarten? Remember graduating from primary school? Remember graduating from middle school? Remember graduating from High School? Remember graduating from College or University? Remember getting married? Remember that first date? Remember that first special someone you dated? Each was a chapter with a beginning and a new beginning. Ever heard the saying “It’s not over till it is over”? And realistically the short period of time we get to spend on earth won’t be the end either but rather the beginning of eternity. We each get to choose where we will spend eternity – with God or apart from God. It will be eternity and that chapter won’t end. So we need to choose wisely and decide before we get there how we want to spend the rest of eternity. It will be the final chapter. I look forward to getting to see Jesus face to face. I look forward to getting to heaven and seeing what it entails. I remember that night crying as I read the book Heaven is For Real when the little boy asks his mom about his sister that he met in heaven while he was temporarily there. It made me consider the 2 children I will get to meet. It made me reflect on the thoughts of my younger days relating to Philip the evangelist who had 4 daughters and when I asked God if I was going to have 4 daughters or if I would have a son. I remember the morning reading that spoke to me about Abraham and the promise of Isaac. So I knew I would have a son but it wasn’t till that night reading Heaven is for Real that I realized I also may have 4 daughters as I have 2 on earth and the two children in heaven may be my other 2. God is so good. God’s plans are good. God is love. And so we get to choose who we will serve, who we will follow, and where we will spend eternity. So choose wisely!

Don’t give up! Pray without ceasing! Don’t lose hope! Don’t lose faith! Don’t give up! Fear Not, Just Believe in God! Ask Jesus into your heart and be transformed and ready for a new beginning and eternity with God! Persevere even in the midst of trials. Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds! Take hope even in the midst of troubles. In this world we will have troubles but take hope!

Today’s morning reading from God’s Word starts with the end of 1 Samuel in chapter 31…

‘Now the Philistines attacked Israel, and the men of Israel fled before them. Many were slaughtered on the slopes of Mount Gilboa. The Philistines closed in on Saul and his sons, and they killed three of his sons—Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malkishua. The fighting grew very fierce around Saul, and the Philistine archers caught up with him and wounded him severely. Saul groaned to his armor bearer, “Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines come to run me through and taunt and torture me.” But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When his armor bearer realized that Saul was dead, he fell on his own sword and died beside the king. So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and his troops all died together that same day. When the Israelites on the other side of the Jezreel Valley and beyond the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their towns and fled. So the Philistines moved in and occupied their towns. The next day, when the Philistines went out to strip the dead, they found the bodies of Saul and his three sons on Mount Gilboa. So they cut off Saul’s head and stripped off his armor. Then they proclaimed the good news of Saul’s death in their pagan temple and to the people throughout the land of Philistia. They placed his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths, and they fastened his body to the wall of the city of Beth-shan. But when the people of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all their mighty warriors traveled through the night to Beth-shan and took the bodies of Saul and his sons down from the wall. They brought them to Jabesh, where they burned the bodies. Then they took their bones and buried them beneath the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted for seven days.’

1 Samuel 31

‘“In that day,” says the Lord , “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people. This is what the Lord says: “Those who survive the coming destruction will find blessings even in the barren land, for I will give rest to the people of Israel.” Long ago the Lord said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel. You will again be happy and dance merrily with your tambourines. Again you will plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria and eat from your own gardens there. The day will come when watchmen will shout from the hill country of Ephraim, ‘Come, let us go up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord our God.’” Now this is what the Lord says: “Sing with joy for Israel. Shout for the greatest of nations! Shout out with praise and joy: ‘Save your people, O Lord , the remnant of Israel!’ For I will bring them from the north and from the distant corners of the earth. I will not forget the blind and lame, the expectant mothers and women in labor. A great company will return! Tears of joy will stream down their faces, and I will lead them home with great care. They will walk beside quiet streams and on smooth paths where they will not stumble. For I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my oldest child. “Listen to this message from the Lord , you nations of the world; proclaim it in distant coastlands: The Lord , who scattered his people, will gather them and watch over them as a shepherd does his flock. For the Lord has redeemed Israel from those too strong for them. They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem. They will be radiant because of the Lord ’s good gifts— the abundant crops of grain, new wine, and olive oil, and the healthy flocks and herds. Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone. The young women will dance for joy, and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing. The priests will enjoy abundance, and my people will feast on my good gifts. I, the Lord , have spoken!” This is what the Lord says: “A cry is heard in Ramah— deep anguish and bitter weeping. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted— for her children are gone.” But now this is what the Lord says: “Do not weep any longer, for I will reward you,” says the Lord . “Your children will come back to you from the distant land of the enemy. There is hope for your future,” says the Lord . “Your children will come again to their own land. I have heard Israel saying, ‘You disciplined me severely, like a calf that needs training for the yoke. Turn me again to you and restore me, for you alone are the Lord my God. I turned away from God, but then I was sorry. I kicked myself for my stupidity! I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days.’ “Is not Israel still my son, my darling child?” says the Lord . “I often have to punish him, but I still love him. That’s why I long for him and surely will have mercy on him. Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Mark well the path by which you came. Come back again, my virgin Israel; return to your towns here. How long will you wander, my wayward daughter? For the Lord will cause something new to happen— Israel will embrace her God. ” This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people of Judah and its towns will again say, ‘The Lord bless you, O righteous home, O holy mountain!’ Townspeople and farmers and shepherds alike will live together in peace and happiness. For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.” At this, I woke up and looked around. My sleep had been very sweet. “The day is coming,” says the Lord , “when I will greatly increase the human population and the number of animals here in Israel and Judah. In the past I deliberately uprooted and tore down this nation. I overthrew it, destroyed it, and brought disaster upon it. But in the future I will just as deliberately plant it and build it up. I, the Lord , have spoken! “The people will no longer quote this proverb: ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, but their children’s mouths pucker at the taste.’ All people will die for their own sins—those who eat the sour grapes will be the ones whose mouths will pucker.’

Jeremiah 31:1-30

‘One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’” Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man#18:8 “Son of Man” is a title Jesus used for himself. returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer#18:11 Some manuscripts read stood and prayed this prayer to himself.: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”’

Luke 18:1-14

‘So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant. Now when someone leaves a will, it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead. The will goes into effect only after the person’s death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect. That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal. For after Moses had read each of God’s commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool. Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.” And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.’

Hebrews 9:11-22

‘O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely. But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin. They will go down into the depths of the earth. They will die by the sword and become the food of jackals. But the king will rejoice in God. All who swear to tell the truth will praise him, while liars will be silenced.’

Psalms 63

New beginnings. New challenges.

So what do you do when change is at hand? What do you do when a new beginning is here? What do you do when a new challenge comes your way? Are you a glass half full or half empty type of person? Do you consider it a new opportunity to learn and grow? Do you turn to God for wisdom and direction? Do you turn to God for strength and courage? Are you able to stand up and move forward boldly? Do you wait upon the Lord rather than trying to rush it on your own? Do you wait upon the Lord rather than running ahead without a clue how He wants you to handle this?

Here we go… New beginnings! New challenges! Make sure to go with God’s blessings and direction! Obey His command “be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged.“! So let’s take hold of God’s Word that will last. Let’s take hold of God who is love for love is the greatest of faith, hope, and love. Let’s not do it in our own strength but instead let’s put on the full armor of God so we can stand firm!

Today’s reading brings us into a new book starting with Joshua:

‘After the death of Moses the Lord ’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua then commanded the officers of Israel, “Go through the camp and tell the people to get their provisions ready. In three days you will cross the Jordan River and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Then Joshua called together the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. He told them, “Remember what Moses, the servant of the Lord , commanded you: ‘The Lord your God is giving you a place of rest. He has given you this land.’ Your wives, children, and livestock may remain here in the land Moses assigned to you on the east side of the Jordan River. But your strong warriors, fully armed, must lead the other tribes across the Jordan to help them conquer their territory. Stay with them until the Lord gives them rest, as he has given you rest, and until they, too, possess the land the Lord your God is giving them. Only then may you return and settle here on the east side of the Jordan River in the land that Moses, the servant of the Lord , assigned to you.” They answered Joshua, “We will do whatever you command us, and we will go wherever you send us. We will obey you just as we obeyed Moses. And may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. Anyone who rebels against your orders and does not obey your words and everything you command will be put to death. So be strong and courageous!”’

Joshua 1

Today’s reading then continues with Isaiah:

‘When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes and put on burlap and went into the Temple of the Lord . And he sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the court secretary, and the leading priests, all dressed in burlap, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. They told him, “This is what King Hezekiah says: Today is a day of trouble, insults, and disgrace. It is like when a child is ready to be born, but the mother has no strength to deliver the baby. But perhaps the Lord your God has heard the Assyrian chief of staff, sent by the king to defy the living God, and will punish him for his words. Oh, pray for those of us who are left!” After King Hezekiah’s officials delivered the king’s message to Isaiah, the prophet replied, “Say to your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be disturbed by this blasphemous speech against me from the Assyrian king’s messengers. Listen! I myself will move against him, and the king will receive a message that he is needed at home. So he will return to his land, where I will have him killed with a sword.’” Meanwhile, the Assyrian chief of staff left Jerusalem and went to consult the king of Assyria, who had left Lachish and was attacking Libnah. Soon afterward King Sennacherib received word that King Tirhakah of Ethiopia was leading an army to fight against him. Before leaving to meet the attack, he sent messengers back to Hezekiah in Jerusalem with this message: “This message is for King Hezekiah of Judah. Don’t let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria. You know perfectly well what the kings of Assyria have done wherever they have gone. They have completely destroyed everyone who stood in their way! Why should you be any different? Have the gods of other nations rescued them—such nations as Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Tel-assar? My predecessors destroyed them all! What happened to the king of Hamath and the king of Arpad? What happened to the kings of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?” After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the Lord ’s Temple and spread it out before the Lord . And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the Lord : “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Bend down, O Lord , and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord , and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God. “It is true, Lord , that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all—only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord , are God. ”

Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord , the God of Israel, says: Because you prayed about King Sennacherib of Assyria, the Lord has spoken this word against him: “The virgin daughter of Zion despises you and laughs at you. The daughter of Jerusalem shakes her head in derision as you flee. “Whom have you been defying and ridiculing? Against whom did you raise your voice? At whom did you look with such haughty eyes? It was the Holy One of Israel! By your messengers you have defied the Lord. You have said, ‘With my many chariots I have conquered the highest mountains— yes, the remotest peaks of Lebanon. I have cut down its tallest cedars and its finest cypress trees. I have reached its farthest heights and explored its deepest forests. I have dug wells in many foreign lands and refreshed myself with their water. With the sole of my foot, I stopped up all the rivers of Egypt!’ “But have you not heard? I decided this long ago. Long ago I planned it, and now I am making it happen. I planned for you to crush fortified cities into heaps of rubble. That is why their people have so little power and are so frightened and confused. They are as weak as grass, as easily trampled as tender green shoots. They are like grass sprouting on a housetop, scorched before it can grow lush and tall. “But I know you well— where you stay and when you come and go. I know the way you have raged against me. And because of your raging against me and your arrogance, which I have heard for myself, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth. I will make you return by the same road on which you came.” Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Here is the proof that what I say is true: “This year you will eat only what grows up by itself, and next year you will eat what springs up from that. But in the third year you will plant crops and harvest them; you will tend vineyards and eat their fruit. And you who are left in Judah, who have escaped the ravages of the siege, will put roots down in your own soil and grow up and flourish. For a remnant of my people will spread out from Jerusalem, a group of survivors from Mount Zion. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen! “And this is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria: “‘His armies will not enter Jerusalem. They will not even shoot an arrow at it. They will not march outside its gates with their shields nor build banks of earth against its walls. The king will return to his own country by the same road on which he came. He will not enter this city,’ says the Lord . ‘For my own honor and for the sake of my servant David, I will defend this city and protect it.’” That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there. One day while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with their swords. They then escaped to the land of Ararat, and another son, Esarhaddon, became the next king of Assyria.’

Isaiah 37

Today’s reading then brings us into the New Testament starting in Matthew:

‘“Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear. “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes. “Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left. “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected. “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. But what if the servant is evil and thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Matthew 24:32-51

Today’s reading continues into Ephesians:

‘A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.

To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work. I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.’

Ephesians 6:10-24

Today’s reading comes to a conclusion with Psalms:

‘Praise the Lord ! Sing to the Lord a new song. Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful. O Israel, rejoice in your Maker. O people of Jerusalem, exult in your King. Praise his name with dancing, accompanied by tambourine and harp. For the Lord delights in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let the faithful rejoice that he honors them. Let them sing for joy as they lie on their beds. Let the praises of God be in their mouths, and a sharp sword in their hands— to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with shackles and their leaders with iron chains, to execute the judgment written against them. This is the glorious privilege of his faithful ones. Praise the Lord !’

Psalms 149

Are you ready for a new beginning?

Are you ready to do what you were called to do? Are you ready to do what you have been created to do? Are you ready to be anointed for the role you have been positioned to do? Are you ready to do what is required of you in this new beginning? Are you ready to accomplish the plans and purposes associated with this new role? Are you ready for a new beginning?

Today’s reading begins in Leviticus 8.

‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Bring Aaron and his sons, along with their sacred garments, the anointing oil, the bull for the sin offering, the two rams, and the basket of bread made without yeast, and call the entire community of Israel together at the entrance of the Tabernacle. ” So Moses followed the Lord ’s instructions, and the whole community assembled at the Tabernacle entrance. Moses announced to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded us to do!” Then he presented Aaron and his sons and washed them with water. He put the official tunic on Aaron and tied the sash around his waist. He dressed him in the robe, placed the ephod on him, and attached the ephod securely with its decorative sash. Then Moses placed the chestpiece on Aaron and put the Urim and the Thummim inside it. He placed the turban on Aaron’s head and attached the gold medallion—the badge of holiness—to the front of the turban, just as the Lord had commanded him. Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the Tabernacle and everything in it, making them holy. He sprinkled the oil on the altar seven times, anointing it and all its utensils, as well as the washbasin and its stand, making them holy. Then he poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head, anointing him and making him holy for his work. Next Moses presented Aaron’s sons. He clothed them in their tunics, tied their sashes around them, and put their special head coverings on them, just as the Lord had commanded him. Then Moses presented the bull for the sin offering. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the bull’s head, and Moses slaughtered it. Moses took some of the blood, and with his finger he put it on the four horns of the altar to purify it. He poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. Through this process, he made the altar holy by purifying it. Then Moses took all the fat around the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys and the fat around them, and he burned it all on the altar. He took the rest of the bull, including its hide, meat, and dung, and burned it on a fire outside the camp, just as the Lord had commanded him. Then Moses presented the ram for the burnt offering. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the ram’s head, and Moses slaughtered it. Then Moses took the ram’s blood and splattered it against all sides of the altar. Then he cut the ram into pieces, and he burned the head, some of its pieces, and the fat on the altar. After washing the internal organs and the legs with water, Moses burned the entire ram on the altar as a burnt offering. It was a pleasing aroma, a special gift presented to the Lord , just as the Lord had commanded him. Then Moses presented the other ram, which was the ram of ordination. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the ram’s head, and Moses slaughtered it. Then Moses took some of its blood and applied it to the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, the thumb of his right hand, and the big toe of his right foot. Next Moses presented Aaron’s sons and applied some of the blood to the lobes of their right ears, the thumbs of their right hands, and the big toes of their right feet. He then splattered the rest of the blood against all sides of the altar. Next Moses took the fat, including the fat of the broad tail, the fat around the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys and the fat around them, along with the right thigh. On top of these he placed a thin cake of bread made without yeast, a cake of bread mixed with olive oil, and a wafer spread with olive oil. All these were taken from the basket of bread made without yeast that was placed in the Lord ’s presence. He put all these in the hands of Aaron and his sons, and he lifted these gifts as a special offering to the Lord . Moses then took all the offerings back from them and burned them on the altar on top of the burnt offering. This was the ordination offering. It was a pleasing aroma, a special gift presented to the Lord . Then Moses took the breast and lifted it up as a special offering to the Lord . This was Moses’ portion of the ram of ordination, just as the Lord had commanded him. Next Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood that was on the altar, and he sprinkled them on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. In this way, he made Aaron and his sons and their garments holy. Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons, “Boil the remaining meat of the offerings at the Tabernacle entrance, and eat it there, along with the bread that is in the basket of offerings for the ordination, just as I commanded when I said, ‘Aaron and his sons will eat it.’ Any meat or bread that is left over must then be burned up. You must not leave the Tabernacle entrance for seven days, for that is when the ordination ceremony will be completed. Everything we have done today was commanded by the Lord in order to purify you, making you right with him. Now stay at the entrance of the Tabernacle day and night for seven days, and do everything the Lord requires. If you fail to do this, you will die, for this is what the Lord has commanded.” So Aaron and his sons did everything the Lord had commanded through Moses.’

Leviticus 8

Today’s reading continues into the conclusion of the book of Job which happens to be the reading I received the day before I was about to start a new job back in 2013. It was the day that I realized there is purpose and a plan when we go through tough times. It was the day that I realized when I got to the book of Job there was something to look forward to. It was the day when I realized leaving the old behind and stepping out and stepping up and stepping forward into all that God has in store would be incredible, so let’s continue into today’s reading with Job 42.

‘Then Job replied to the Lord : “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

After the Lord had finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has. So take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. I will not treat you as you deserve, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite did as the Lord commanded them, and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer. When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the Lord had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of money and a gold ring. So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He also gave Job seven more sons and three more daughters. He named his first daughter Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. In all the land no women were as lovely as the daughters of Job. And their father put them into his will along with their brothers. Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, full life.’

Job 42

Today’s reading then brings us into the New Testament, the part of the Bible that points to a savior, a redeemer, a hope that goes beyond our situations, a hope like the hope I found when I got to Job 42 so many years ago. Today’s reading continues into Mark 9.

‘Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials —one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them. As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.” Then they asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes? ” Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt? But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.”’

Mark 9:2-13

Today’s reading then brings us into 1 Corinthians 15.

‘But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. For the Scriptures say, “God has put all things under his authority.” (Of course, when it says “all things are under his authority,” that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.) Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere. If the dead will not be raised, what point is there in people being baptized for those who are dead? Why do it unless the dead will someday rise again? And why should we ourselves risk our lives hour by hour? For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you. And what value was there in fighting wild beasts—those people of Ephesus —if there will be no resurrection from the dead? And if there is no resurrection, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!” Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all.’

1 Corinthians 15:20-34

As today’s reading brings us to a close, let’s meditate on all that we have read and receive the promises of God. As today’s reading comes to a close, let’s learn from our past and be ready for what is yet to come. As today’s reading comes to a close, let’s take hold of God’s Word and meditate on what we have heard and close together with today’s psalm, Psalms 75.

‘We thank you, O God! We give thanks because you are near. People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds. God says, “At the time I have planned, I will bring justice against the wicked. When the earth quakes and its people live in turmoil, I am the one who keeps its foundations firm. Interlude “I warned the proud, ‘Stop your boasting!’ I told the wicked, ‘Don’t raise your fists! Don’t raise your fists in defiance at the heavens or speak with such arrogance.’” For no one on earth—from east or west, or even from the wilderness— should raise a defiant fist. It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall. For the Lord holds a cup in his hand that is full of foaming wine mixed with spices. He pours out the wine in judgment, and all the wicked must drink it, draining it to the dregs. But as for me, I will always proclaim what God has done; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. For God says, “I will break the strength of the wicked, but I will increase the power of the godly.”’

Psalms 75

It was good! Can we live out the rest of our lives to keep it good?

Today is the beginning of the year. Today is the first day and so we can consider and contemplate how 2019 will be. As we awake it is good, nothing has happened to make it anything else. Today is the day that the Lord has made, so lets rejoice and be glad in it. Leave the past where it belongs, behind you – forgiving and moving forward into today which has another name – the present – so let’s take hold of the gift of today and live it out to the fullest in order that in and through it all God will receive all the praise, the honor, and the glory. When God started as we read in Genesis 1 each day was a progression from the previous and each one completed as good.

Will everyone take hold of this view or plan? Unfortunately no and we can’t control what happens or takes place when others do what they do. We can’t control what they do or what they say but we can handle how we will respond. God has called and purposed for us to live our lives in a way that will bring Him praise, honor, and glory. God’s plan has always been good and for our good. God’s plan is to give us a hope and a future no matter what others end up doing or saying that may try to get us off track. So choose to forgive. Choose to leave the past where it belongs, behind you. Take hold of what God has for you to do today so that in all things and at all times you live out your life in a way that will bring God all the glory. When God explains the genealogy in 1 Chronicles 1 we learn about the generations and we know that things didn’t always go smooth and people didn’t always live out their lives in alignment with God’s purposes and plans too. So let’s take hold of the promise we have in Jesus so that our lives that have been transformed by the sacrifice of Jesus and the receiving of the gift of grace from God we can live out our today as new creations where the new has come and the old is gone.

We learn about God’s love through Jesus and we read about the revelation from John 1:1-18

‘In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’” From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.’

John 1:1-18

Will it be easy? No. Will there be trials and challenges? Yes. As we read from James 1:1-11

‘This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings! Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.’

James 1:1-11

So just because trouble comes our way we don’t have to turn in despair but rather we can receive it with joy no matter what kind of trouble it is. Let’s allow it to test our faith so that it can grow. Let’s allow our faith to endure it and develop so that when we are finished, we will be perfect, complete, and lacking nothing. Don’t try to go it alone or do it in your own strength. Instead, ask God for wisdom believing that He will answer you, for if we ask for wisdom believing, He will provide wisdom generously and without finding fault. God’s Word never returns void and is alive speaking into your very situation. We have a limited time here on earth and so we need to make the most of it so that in the end it will be less about us and more about giving God the glory in what He has done in and through us. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. So every good and perfect gift comes from Him and so lets be good stewards of them to bring Him the praise, the honor, and the glory.

Let’s meditate on the Word of the Lord. Let’s live out our lives with the hope of Jesus that is within us so that each day we will remember the hope of everlasting life spent with God rather than going against God and having to spend eternity apart from God. Let’s take hold of all that Psalm 1 provides us so that in and through it all we will live out our today in a way that will glorify God yesterday, today, and forever.

Today’s reading came to us from:

God’s timing is perfect and after a yesterday that could have held me back or caused me to spin out of control, today I choose to make it about glorifying God and living out my today in a way that will allow Him to say that it is good and allowing Him to say well done my good and faithful servant. Today I choose to forgive yesterday and consider all that happened as joy. Today I choose to walk in that joy asking God for wisdom to help me with every thought, every word, and every action that I will need to take so that in and through it all He will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’s name. Amen.

DIES IRAE…(The Bible’s Impact on Music [May 18])

Have you made your choice? Have you chosen well? Have you decided to follow Jesus? Have you decided to make Him Lord and Savior? Will you decide before it is too late? Will you decided before time runs out? Do you know the options? Do you know the choices? Have you read His Word?

Today’s reading is powerful and has had impact on many movies’ music. Let’s jump into today’s reading and contemplate our standing and decision to follow God…

1The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.

The Coming Judgment on Judah

2 “I will utterly sweep away everything
from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord.
3 “I will sweep away man and beast;
I will sweep away the birds of the heavens
and the fish of the sea,
and the rubble with the wicked.
I will cut off mankind
from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord.
4 “I will stretch out my hand against Judah
and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
and I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal
and the name of the idolatrous priests along with the priests,
5 those who bow down on the roofs
to the host of the heavens,
those who bow down and swear to the Lord
and yet swear by Milcom,
6 those who have turned back from following the Lord,
who do not seek the Lord or inquire of him.”

The Day of the Lord Is Near

7 Be silent before the Lord God!
For the day of the Lord is near;
the Lord has prepared a sacrifice
and consecrated his guests.
8 And on the day of the Lord‘s sacrifice—
“I will punish the officials and the king’s sons
and all who array themselves in foreign attire.
9 On that day I will punish
everyone who leaps over the threshold,
and those who fill their master’s house
with violence and fraud.
10 “On that day,” declares the Lord,
“a cry will be heard from the Fish Gate,
a wail from the Second Quarter,
a loud crash from the hills.
11 Wail, O inhabitants of the Mortar!
For all the traders are no more;
all who weigh out silver are cut off.
12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
and I will punish the men
who are complacent,
those who say in their hearts,
‘The Lord will not do good,
nor will he do ill.’
13 Their goods shall be plundered,
and their houses laid waste.
Though they build houses,
they shall not inhabit them;
though they plant vineyards,
they shall not drink wine from them.”
14 The great day of the Lord is near,
near and hastening fast;
the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter;
the mighty man cries aloud there.
15 A day of wrath is that day,
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness,
16 a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
against the fortified cities
and against the lofty battlements.
17 I will bring distress on mankind,
so that they shall walk like the blind,
because they have sinned against the Lord;
their blood shall be poured out like dust,
and their flesh like dung.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold
shall be able to deliver them
on the day of the wrath of the Lord.
In the fire of his jealousy,
all the earth shall be consumed;
for a full and sudden end
he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.

Today’s devotional from The Global Impact Bible on the subject of the impact on music speaks of the impact of Zephaniah 1:15-16 which comes from the crisis and doom of God’s judgement for those idolaters and ends with a message of hope for the promise of restoration. We see how this speaks of a day of wrath. We see how today’s devotional shares Dies Irae – a thirteenth century him drawn from Zephaniah 1:15-16. Let’s compare the two…

Zephaniah 1:15-16

‘ A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements.’

–from Zephaniah 1:15-16

Dies Irae

Dies Irae/Day of Wrath

   DIES irae, dies illa,

   solvet saeculum in favilla,

   teste David cum Sibylla.

   Day of wrath and doom impending,

   David’s word with Sibyl’s blending,

   Heaven and earth in ashes ending.

   Quantus tremor est futurus,

   quando iudex est venturus,

   cuncta stricte discussurus!


   O what fear man’s bosom rendeth,

   When from heaven the Judge descendeth,

   On whose sentence all dependeth.

   Tuba mirum spargens sonum

   per sepulcra regionum,

   coget omnes ante thronum.


   Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth,

   Through earth’s sepulchers it ringeth,

   All before the throne it bringeth.

   Mors stupebit et natura,

   cum resurget creatura,

   iudicanti responsura.


   Death is struck, and nature quaking,

   All creation is awaking,

   To its Judge an answer making.

   Liber scriptus proferetur,

   in quo totum continetur,

   unde mundus iudicetur.

   Lo, the book exactly worded,

   Wherein all hath been recorded,

   Thence shall judgment be awarded.

   Iudex ergo cum sedebit,

   quidquid latet apparebit:

   nil inultum remanebit.


   When the Judge His seat attaineth,

   And each hidden deed arraigneth,

   Nothing unavenged remaineth.

   Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?

   quem patronum rogaturus?

   cum vix iustus sit securus.

   What shall I, frail man, be pleading?

   Who for me be interceding

   When the just are mercy needing?

   Rex tremendae maiestatis,

   qui salvandos salvas gratis,

   salva me, fons pietatis.


   King of majesty tremendous,

   Who dost free salvation send us,

   Fount of pity, then befriend us.

   Recordare Iesu pie,

   quod sum causa tuae viae:

   ne me perdas illa die.


   Think, kind Jesus, my salvation

   Caused Thy wondrous Incarnation,

   Leave me not to reprobation.

   Quarens me, sedisti lassus:

   redemisti crucem passus:

   tantus labor non sit cassus.

   Faint and weary Thou hast sought me,

   On the Cross of suffering bought me,

   Shall such grace be vainly brought me?

   Iuste iudex ultionis,

   donum fac remissionis,

   ante diem rationis.


   Righteous Judge, for sin’s pollution

   Grant Thy gift of absolution,

   Ere that day of retribution.

   Ingemisco, tamquam reus:

   culpa rubet vultus meus:

   supplicanti parce Deus.


   Guilty now I pour my moaning,

   All my shame with anguish owning,

   Spare, O God, Thy suppliant groaning.

   Qui Mariam absolvisti,

   et latronem exaudisti,

   mihi quoque spem dedisti.

   Through the sinful woman shriven,

   Through the dying thief forgiven,

   Thou to me a hope hast given.

   Preces meae non sunt dignae:

   sed tu bonus fac benigne,

   ne perenni cremer igne.

   Worthless are my prayers and sighing,

   Yet, good Lord, in grace complying,

   Rescue me from fires undying.


   Inter oves locum praesta,

   et ab haedis me sequestra,

   statuens in parte dextera.

   With Thy sheep a place provide me,

   From the goats afar divide me,

   To Thy right hand do Thou guide me.

   Confutatis maledictis,

   flammis acribus addictis.

   voca me cum benedictis.

   When the wicked are confounded,

   Doomed to flames of woe unbounded,

   Call me with Thy Saints surrounded.


   Oro supplex et acclinis,

   cor contritum quasi cinis:

   gere curam mei finis.

   Low I kneel with heart’s submission,

   See, like ashes, my contrition,

   Help me in my last condition.

   Lacrimosa dies illa,

   qua resurget ex favilla.

   iudicandus homo reus:

   huic ergo parce Deus.

   Ah! That day of tears and mourning,

   From the dust of earth returning,

   Man for judgment must prepare him,

   Spare, O God, in mercy spare him.

   Pie Iesu Domine,

   dona eis requiem. Amen.

   Lord, all-pitying, Jesus blest,

   Grant them Thine eternal rest.  Amen.

Latin and Translation from the 1958 Marian Missal for daily Mass by Sylvester P. Juergens, S.M. Doctor of Sacred Theology

Today’s devotional points to how this is a part of the standard Catholic requiem. It also shares how it has been adapted by many classical composers like Mozart and Verdi. We also see how composer John Williams included the music of Dies Irae in the soundtrack of The Empire strikes back. When I did a search to find it, I also learned that it has gotten used in other movies too. Here is a link / preview of what I found on YouTube…

God’s Word has great impact on the world of music. God’s Word has impact on all aspects of life. So how will you receive the gift of God through His Word? Will you make and take time to read His Word and get wisdom and discernment from not only His Love Letter to you but also His owner’s manual for life?

Before we close let’s pray together…

Sample Sinners Prayer

Was this the first time or a recommitment of your life to Jesus? Are you still seeking and searching? Leave me a comment or a question and we can celebrate or talk about it. God’s amazing and His Word reinforces it with power and impact throughout the generations and will continue to until His return.

Heavenly Father,
I thank You Lord for this new day and for everything in it. I thank You Lord that You have a plan and a purpose for me and my life. I give this day into Your hands for Your purpose and Your plans. Help me Lord to live out today in a way that I will get to hear the words “well done my good and faithful servant”. Help me with wisdom and discernment, direction and instruction, correction and redirection so that all that I think, all that I say, and all that I do will point people to You and will bring You all the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Know it all…

He was there in the beginning! He will be there in the in end! He knows everything about us and loves us! His love is so great that knowing the end He intervened by sending Jesus to be the one to help reconcile us back to Him! He knows the beginning and the end! He is the alpha(Alpha) and the omega(Image result for upper case omega symbol)!

God know the beginning and the end! God shares with us through His Word the how and the who! It gives us insight into Jesus’ return! It is not for us to know the time but it is for us to be prepared! We don’t want to be like the 10 bridesmaids or virgins as they are referenced in Matthew 25 in different translations, we want to be prepared…

Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids

25 “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’

“All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’

“But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’

12 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’

13 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.

–from Matthew 25

We don’t want to be like the person who were given responsibility and wasn’t a good steward…

Parable of the Three Servants

14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.

16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.

19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’

21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’

23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’

26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate,27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’

28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

–from Matthew 25

Let’s be prepared! Let’s be good stewards of the gifts God has given us! He is coming back! We need to be prepared and we need to be investing and pouring out our lives into the world around us as we overflow from all that God pours into us!

The Final Judgment

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nationswill be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

–from Matthew 25

To be considered righteous we need to receive Jesus! We are told in the Bible that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and that no one comes to the Father except thru Him! So we need to turn back to God and receive the give of Jesus Christ into our lives and then to prepare and pursue Him being a good steward of every good and perfect gift that comes from God so that on that day when He does return that we will be prepared and finish the race of our life strong hearing, well done my good and faithful servant! So accept Jesus today into your heart as your Lord and Savior! Start the transformation of being born again! And pursue after Him each day for the rest of your life!

The Beginning and the End — Day 365: Bible In One Year 2018

  1. Begin and end with worship … Psalm 150
    • Today’s reading shows us this pattern. Did you realize that the Lord’s prayer does too? We start by praising God and lifting Him up! We close lifting up Him and His power and His kingdom while giving Him the glory!
    • The Lord's Prayer

    • So let’s worship God – living out our lives as living sacrifices …
      • The book of Psalms ends with ‘Hallelujah’, translated here ‘Praise the Lord’ (Psalm 150:6b). Psalm 150 itself begins and ends with ‘Hallelujah’ (‘Praise the Lord’, vv.1,6). All of us are called to worship: ‘Let every living, breathing creature praise God!’ (v.6, MSG).

        Worship everywhere

        The worship of God should fill the universe: ‘Praise God in his holy house of worship, praise him under the open skies’ (v.1b, MSG).

        Worship him for everything

        Praise God for who he is (‘his surpassing greatness’) and what he has done (‘his acts of power’, v.2).

        Worship in every way

        Praise God with everything you have, including every type of music and dancing (vv.3–5).

        –from Day 365: Bible In One Year 2018

  2. Begin and end with Jesus … Revelation 22
    • Jesus will be there in the end and He was there in the beginning!
    • It will be all about Jesus in the end!
    • The Bible is a love letter from God! It’s an invitation to Jesus! Will you receive it? Will you accept it? Will you participate in it? The choice is yours!
  3. Begin and end with love … Nehemiah 13
    • The Bible being a love letter from God begins and ends with love! As does today’s reading from Nehemiah.
    • So let’s receive it! Let’s overflow with it! Let’s share it with the world around us!

Revelation 22: Take hold of the closing from God’s Word…

1Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.
3No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. 4And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. 5And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.
6Then the angel said to me, “Everything you have heard and seen is trustworthy and true. The Lord God, who inspires his prophets, has sent his angel to tell his servants what will happen soon.”

Jesus Is Coming

7“Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.”

8I, John, am the one who heard and saw all these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. 9But he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!”
10Then he instructed me, “Do not seal up the prophetic words in this book, for the time is near. 11Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.”

12“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. 13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

14Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. 15Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.

16“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne.”

17The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. 18And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. 19And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.
20He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!”
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
21May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.

–Revelation 22

When it started…

God’s Word and Commandment…

1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

–from Ephesians 6

12“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

–from Exodus 20

Back in 2000, I was at a crossroads in my career where I was needing to make a change and it was far reaching. At that point in my life my wife and I had just had our first child, who was the only grandchild on both sides of the family. I felt the need to put the outcome into the hands of our parents and gave them options to them:

  1. Leave the company I had been working at for almost 6 years
  2. Leave the country and move to the other edge of that country putting us about 5 hour flight and 3 hour time zone difference apart

The answer was unanimous. There was such unity in direction, even though neither set of parents knew the other parents answer. They were identical and the journey to a new land began. It wasn’t till many years later that it clicked to me that part of the reason for the blessings in this new land were because I had acted in alignment to God’s commandment so many years earlier.

We had researched and planned what we were going to do, but God had a plan to get us connected to Him in a way that was so much greater and more incredible than we could have asked or imagined.

The Job:

As I pursued new opportunities, I ended up applying for 3 new jobs and was flown out for interviews with those 3 teams. While in the process of interviewing for the 3 job, I ended up getting lost in the hallways and ran into someone I had worked with in the past and they asked why I was in town. I told him, I was in town interviewing and he said I should go talk to his boss who was also hiring and so before the end of the day, I did and ended up making one more trip out for interviews on that team. Interestingly enough during the interview process, I had applied for 1 developer (dev) job, 1 program manager (PM) job, and one job that was a combination of both roles. During the visit for the developer role, I had asked a friend who happened to be a test lead on that team if I wanted to ensure work-life balance would they recommend a dev or a pm job and they said pm. The pm in the room said to not say that as I had applied for a dev job on their team. The job I flew back down to interview happened to also be a pm role and by the end of that day I had let them know I had 2 offers already and so I would need to know by the next Wednesday since I had committed to the other teams that I would provide them my answer by the end of the week. I had the offer by the next Monday and accepted that roll, and having to let the other 2 teams know that I was going to have to pass on their offers.

I had a plan, but God had other ideas…

The home:

My wife and I did a lot of research because we wanted to make sure that we would be able to afford a place where its schools, safety, and commute would be ok. We had it all figured out and flew out for our house hunting trip. The company had assigned us a real estate agent and the connection was crazy. On a personal level, her parents lived 15 minutes away from where we were living, but we didn’t know them. She wanted to show us one other area first and showed us a house that was older than we wanted, but had been updated and was in an incredible neighborhood that ended up being so much better than anything we could find in the neighborhood/city we had planned to move to. We put in an offer and within a small amount of money we negotiated and got that house.

We had a plan, but God had other ideas…

The first connection and how it started:

We moved in at the end of Nov/beginning of Dec. Every day we ended up driving by a church on our way to and fro. As Christmas got closer, we received in the mail an invitation to come to the church for their church production. So we went to check it out. We loved the worship time. We loved the people. We felt right at home and from that day on, we attended the church…but that is just when it started

Ever been through a rename or a rebrand?

Ever been in the process of a rebrand? Ever been in the process of a rename? It takes a process. It takes effort. It takes time. What if the rebrand wasn’t for a website or a magazine or a company, but it was rebrand of yourself? What if you received the memo that your new name meant so much more than your current one? How would you respond? How would you react? How would your life change? How long would it take to be transformed? What life experience would be the right trigger for it to come true?

Let’s take a look at the beginning of such a story from today’s reading…

The First Disciples of Jesus

35The next day John was standing there again with two of his disciples, 36when he saw Jesus walking by. “There is the Lamb of God!” he said. 37The two disciples heard him say this and went with Jesus. 38Jesus turned, saw them following him, and asked, “What are you looking for?” They answered, “Where do you live, Rabbi?” (This word means “Teacher.”) 39“Come and see,” he answered. (It was then about four o’clock in the afternoon.) So they went with him and saw where he lived, and spent the rest of that day with him. 40One of them was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41At once he found his brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah.” (This word means “Christ.”) 42Then he took Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “Your name is Simon son of John, but you will be called Cephas.” (This is the same as Peter and means “a rock.”) –from John 1

In this case we see that his original name meant reed but Jesus gave him a new name that He would be called that means rock. The change and transformation it would take to go from being a reed (pliable, sways in the wind) to being a rock (solid, unmovable). What type of life event would it take for that transformation to complete? We see in Acts that transformation take place as the boldness takes root and he speaks by the Holy Spirit.

We need to live our lives pure and true, loving others just as Jesus loves us! We need to live without prejudice! We shouldn’t be walking around as judge and jury, for that’s God’s job. He gets the final say. So as we are being transformed and renewed, let’s live lives that will glorify God. Let’s consider how to live without prejudice…

Warning against Prejudice

1My friends, as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, you must never treat people in different ways according to their outward appearance. 2Suppose a rich man wearing a gold ring and fine clothes comes to your meeting, and a poor man in ragged clothes also comes. 3If you show more respect to the well-dressed man and say to him, “Have this best seat here,” but say to the poor man, “Stand over there, or sit here on the floor by my feet,” 4then you are guilty of creating distinctions among yourselves and of making judgments based on evil motives.

5Listen, my dear friends! God chose the poor people of this world to be rich in faith and to possess the kingdom which he promised to those who love him. 6But you dishonor the poor! Who are the ones who oppress you and drag you before the judges? The rich! 7They are the ones who speak evil of that good name which has been given to you.

8You will be doing the right thing if you obey the law of the Kingdom, which is found in the scripture, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” 9But if you treat people according to their outward appearance, you are guilty of sin, and the Law condemns you as a lawbreaker. 10Whoever breaks one commandment is guilty of breaking them all. 11For the same one who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Even if you do not commit adultery, you have become a lawbreaker if you commit murder. 12Speak and act as people who will be judged by the law that sets us free. 13For God will not show mercy when he judges the person who has not been merciful; but mercy triumphs over judgment. –from James 2

Let’s live our lives with LOVE! Let’s make sure our behavior is shining love to those around us. Otherwise, what’s the purpose of this life? Otherwise, what is the reason for living? If we don’t put first things first, then we lose focus and miss out on the real things God desires in and through our lives! Consider the season you are living in and make sure that you are focusing on the right things at the right times!

A Time for Everything

1Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses. 2He sets the time for birth and the time for death, the time for planting and the time for pulling up, 3the time for killing and the time for healing, the time for tearing down and the time for building. 4He sets the time for sorrow and the time for joy, the time for mourning and the time for dancing, 5the time for making love and the time for not making love, the time for kissing and the time for not kissing. 6He sets the time for finding and the time for losing, the time for saving and the time for throwing away, 7the time for tearing and the time for mending, the time for silence and the time for talk. 8He sets the time for love and the time for hate, the time for war and the time for peace. 9What do we gain from all our work? 10I know the heavy burdens that God has laid on us. 11He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what he does. 12So I realized that all we can do is be happy and do the best we can while we are still alive. 13All of us should eat and drink and enjoy what we have worked for. It is God’s gift. 14I know that everything God does will last forever. You can’t add anything to it or take anything away from it. And one thing God does is to make us stand in awe of him. 15Whatever happens or can happen has already happened before. God makes the same thing happen again and again.

–from Ecclesiastes 2 

So let’s live lives filled with the joy of the Lord! Let’s be happy with what we have and where we are at!

Is it the end or just the beginning?

Today is the 31st of December of 2014. Today is New Year’s Eve of 2015. Is today the end or just the beginning?

Did you finish 2014 strong? Do you know what you want to change or improve upon? Do you know where you missed the mark? Do you realize the impact you have made on the world around you? Do you know what things you should keep doing? Do you achieve your goals for the year?

Are you preparing? Are you getting prepared for a new beginning with 2015 just around the corner? Do you have a list of things to consider? Do you have a list of things you want to accomplish? Are you setting new goals for the coming year? Are they realistic? What will 2015 have in store for you?

So what is today for you? Is it the end? Is it a new beginning?

This morning’s reading starts at an interesting crossroads too. Is it the end of Jesus’ ministry or is it just the beginning of what is yet to come? We see people trying to make things happen but unable to do so. We see Jesus make a statement which opens the door for them to move forward in their plans to find Him guilty and put to death. We know the rest of the story, but today’s reading from Mark finishes here…

Jesus before the Council

(Matthew 26.57-68; Luke 22.54, 55, 63-71; John 18.13, 14, 19-24)

53Then Jesus was taken to the High Priest’s house, where all the chief priests, the elders, and the teachers of the Law were gathering. 54Peter followed from a distance and went into the courtyard of the High Priest’s house. There he sat down with the guards, keeping himself warm by the fire. 55The chief priests and the whole Council tried to find some evidence against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they could not find any. 56Many witnesses told lies against Jesus, but their stories did not agree. 57Then some men stood up and told this lie against Jesus: 58“We heard him say, ‘I will tear down this Temple which men have made, and after three days I will build one that is not made by men.’”
59Not even they, however, could make their stories agree. 60The High Priest stood up in front of them all and questioned Jesus, “Have you no answer to the accusation they bring against you?” 61But Jesus kept quiet and would not say a word. Again the High Priest questioned him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed God?” 62“I am,” answered Jesus, “and you will all see the Son of Man seated at the right side of the Almighty and coming with the clouds of heaven!” 63The High Priest tore his robes and said, “We don’t need any more witnesses! 64You heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?”
They all voted against him: he was guilty and should be put to death. 65Some of them began to spit on Jesus, and they blindfolded him and hit him. “Guess who hit you!” they said. And the guards took him and slapped him. — from Mark 14

Perspective is what let’s us know if it is the end or just a new beginning. Perspective is a point of view, so where are you seeing this from? They thought it was His end. He knew it was a new beginning! As we look at today, what is today for you? Are you wrapping things up? Are you getting ready for what is yet to come?

This past year was incredible for  me. It’s been a year of change, not only with it being my first full year at the new company, but also in the things that my children have chosen to do. It’s also a year of preparation as God has positioned me for 2015 to step in and step up not only at work, but also with church and with Hope Alliance for Kids. God’s plans are better than my plans! God’s plans are bigger than my plans! His plans are for good! His plans are to give me a hope and a future! So as 2014 comes to an end, I am preparing for what God has for me in 2015! Greater things are yet to come here! Let’s not try to do it all in our own power, but let’s do it with the power of the Spirit that is within us! The Spirit given to us by God! Let’s walk in faith believing and trusting God at His word!

Today’s reading continues into Galatians…

Law or Faith

1You foolish Galatians! Who put a spell on you? Before your very eyes you had a clear description of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross! 2Tell me this one thing: did you receive God’s Spirit by doing what the Law requires or by hearing the gospel and believing it? 3How can you be so foolish! You began by God’s Spirit; do you now want to finish by your own power? 4Did all your experience mean nothing at all? Surely it meant something! 5Does God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you because you do what the Law requires or because you hear the gospel and believe it? 6Consider the experience of Abraham; as the scripture says, “He believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous.”
7You should realize, then, that the real descendants of Abraham are the people who have faith. 8The scripture predicted that God would put the Gentiles right with himself through faith. And so the scripture announced the Good News to Abraham: “Through you God will bless all people.” 9Abraham believed and was blessed; so all who believe are blessed as he was. 10Those who depend on obeying the Law live under a curse. For the scripture says, “Whoever does not always obey everything that is written in the book of the Law is under God’s curse!” 11Now, it is clear that no one is put right with God by means of the Law, because the scripture says, “Only the person who is put right with God through faith shall live.” 12But the Law has nothing to do with faith. Instead, as the scripture says, “Whoever does everything the Law requires will live.” 13But by becoming a curse for us Christ has redeemed us from the curse that the Law brings; for the scripture says, “Anyone who is hanged on a tree is under God’s curse.”
14Christ did this in order that the blessing which God promised to Abraham might be given to the Gentiles by means of Christ Jesus, so that through faith we might receive the Spirit promised by God. — from Galatians 3

So let’s build our faith this coming year! Let’s become righteous oaks that will stand the tests of time! Let’s become pillars of righteousness for God! Let’s allow our faith to grow and the Spirit received from God to shine in and through us! Are you still breathing? Then He’s not done with you yet either! So let’s learn from the past and prepare for what is yet to come! Lean not on your own understanding, but put your trust in God! Don’t try to go it alone, God’s plan is that we will depend on one another! Lean on Him if you aren’t sure what to do! Ask Him for wisdom and He will give it to you without finding fault.

If today is an ending or today is a beginning, let’s allow the joy of the Lord be our strength! Let’s finish strong! Let’s prepare for a new beginning! And let’s trust and see all that God will do in and through us!

The Happiness of a Good Person

1Praise the Lord! Happy is the person who honors the Lord, who takes pleasure in obeying his commands. 2The good man’s children will be powerful in the land; is descendants will be blessed. 3His family will be wealthy and rich, and he will be prosperous forever. 4Light shines in the darkness for good people, for those who are merciful, kind, and just. 5Happy is the person who is generous with his loans, who runs his business honestly. 6A good person will never fail; he will always be remembered. 7He is not afraid of receiving bad news; his faith is strong, and he trusts in the Lord. 8He is not worried or afraid; he is certain to see his enemies defeated. 9He gives generously to the needy, and his kindness never fails; he will be powerful and respected. 10The wicked see this and are angry; they glare in hate and disappear; their hopes are gone forever.

— from Psalm 112