Do you realize the power of forgiveness?


Do you realize the miracle of reconciliation? Do you realize the freedom that comes through forgiveness? Do you realize that you forgiving something has more to do with your health and well being? Do you realize the pain, the anxiety, the suffering that comes from not forgiving? I learned my lesson many years ago and so now I share my story so that others don’t have to spiral down to the bottom like I did. I even got to share my story with people at work when they had asked me to share a story as part of an effort to help people at work get to know others. I will add it hear in case you want to pause and check it out…


the power of forgiveness

So consider where you are right now. Consider if there is anyone you need to forgive? Consider if there is anyone you need to ask for forgiveness? Are you needing to do something to enable the reconciliation process? Will you do what is good, what is right, what is just in order to free yourself from bitterness, anger, frustration, pain, anxiety, depression? Forgiveness is the key! Don’t let that bitterness take root! Rip out the roots before it is too late! Forgiveness is the key! Not sure what to do or where to turn? Ask God! Hear God! Do what God tells you! Remember unforgiveness isn’t a word!

is not a word

Today’s reading from God’s Word starts with a story about David and his son Absalom in 2 Samuel 14…

‘Joab realized how much the king longed to see Absalom. So he sent for a woman from Tekoa who had a reputation for great wisdom. He said to her, “Pretend you are in mourning; wear mourning clothes and don’t put on lotions. Act like a woman who has been mourning for the dead for a long time. Then go to the king and tell him the story I am about to tell you.” Then Joab told her what to say. When the woman from Tekoa approached the king, she bowed with her face to the ground in deep respect and cried out, “O king! Help me!” “What’s the trouble?” the king asked. “Alas, I am a widow!” she replied. “My husband is dead. My two sons had a fight out in the field. And since no one was there to stop it, one of them was killed. Now the rest of the family is demanding, ‘Let us have your son. We will execute him for murdering his brother. He doesn’t deserve to inherit his family’s property.’ They want to extinguish the only coal I have left, and my husband’s name and family will disappear from the face of the earth.” “Leave it to me,” the king told her. “Go home, and I’ll see to it that no one touches him.” “Oh, thank you, my lord the king,” the woman from Tekoa replied. “If you are criticized for helping me, let the blame fall on me and on my father’s house, and let the king and his throne be innocent.” “If anyone objects,” the king said, “bring him to me. I can assure you he will never harm you again!” Then she said, “Please swear to me by the Lord your God that you won’t let anyone take vengeance against my son. I want no more bloodshed.” “As surely as the Lord lives,” he replied, “not a hair on your son’s head will be disturbed!” “Please allow me to ask one more thing of my lord the king,” she said. “Go ahead and speak,” he responded. She replied, “Why don’t you do as much for the people of God as you have promised to do for me? You have convicted yourself in making this decision, because you have refused to bring home your own banished son. All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him. “I have come to plead with my lord the king because people have threatened me. I said to myself, ‘Perhaps the king will listen to me and rescue us from those who would cut us off from the inheritance God has given us. Yes, my lord the king will give us peace of mind again.’ I know that you are like an angel of God in discerning good from evil. May the Lord your God be with you.” “I must know one thing,” the king replied, “and tell me the truth.” “Yes, my lord the king,” she responded. “Did Joab put you up to this?” And the woman replied, “My lord the king, how can I deny it? Nobody can hide anything from you. Yes, Joab sent me and told me what to say. He did it to place the matter before you in a different light. But you are as wise as an angel of God, and you understand everything that happens among us!” So the king sent for Joab and told him, “All right, go and bring back the young man Absalom.” Joab bowed with his face to the ground in deep respect and said, “At last I know that I have gained your approval, my lord the king, for you have granted me this request!” Then Joab went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. But the king gave this order: “Absalom may go to his own house, but he must never come into my presence.” So Absalom did not see the king.
Now Absalom was praised as the most handsome man in all Israel. He was flawless from head to foot. He cut his hair only once a year, and then only because it was so heavy. When he weighed it out, it came to five pounds! He had three sons and one daughter. His daughter’s name was Tamar, and she was very beautiful. Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years, but he never got to see the king. Then Absalom sent for Joab to ask him to intercede for him, but Joab refused to come. Absalom sent for him a second time, but again Joab refused to come. So Absalom said to his servants, “Go and set fire to Joab’s barley field, the field next to mine.” So they set his field on fire, as Absalom had commanded. Then Joab came to Absalom at his house and demanded, “Why did your servants set my field on fire?” And Absalom replied, “Because I wanted you to ask the king why he brought me back from Geshur if he didn’t intend to see me. I might as well have stayed there. Let me see the king; if he finds me guilty of anything, then let him kill me.” So Joab told the king what Absalom had said. Then at last David summoned Absalom, who came and bowed low before the king, and the king kissed him.’

2 Samuel 14

‘Then all the military leaders, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people, from the least to the greatest, approached Jeremiah the prophet. They said, “Please pray to the Lord your God for us. As you can see, we are only a tiny remnant compared to what we were before. Pray that the Lord your God will show us what to do and where to go.” “All right,” Jeremiah replied. “I will pray to the Lord your God, as you have asked, and I will tell you everything he says. I will hide nothing from you.” Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord your God be a faithful witness against us if we refuse to obey whatever he tells us to do! Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.” Ten days later the Lord gave his reply to Jeremiah. So he called for Johanan son of Kareah and the other military leaders, and for all the people, from the least to the greatest. He said to them, “You sent me to the Lord , the God of Israel, with your request, and this is his reply: ‘Stay here in this land. If you do, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you. For I am sorry about all the punishment I have had to bring upon you. Do not fear the king of Babylon anymore,’ says the Lord . ‘For I am with you and will save you and rescue you from his power. I will be merciful to you by making him kind, so he will let you stay here in your land.’ “But if you refuse to obey the Lord your God, and if you say, ‘We will not stay here; instead, we will go to Egypt where we will be free from war, the call to arms, and hunger,’ then hear the Lord ’s message to the remnant of Judah. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and live there, the very war and famine you fear will catch up to you, and you will die there. That is the fate awaiting every one of you who insists on going to live in Egypt. Yes, you will die from war, famine, and disease. None of you will escape the disaster I will bring upon you there.’ “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Just as my anger and fury have been poured out on the people of Jerusalem, so they will be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. You will be an object of damnation, horror, cursing, and mockery. And you will never see your homeland again.’ “Listen, you remnant of Judah. The Lord has told you: ‘Do not go to Egypt!’ Don’t forget this warning I have given you today. For you were not being honest when you sent me to pray to the Lord your God for you. You said, ‘Just tell us what the Lord our God says, and we will do it!’ And today I have told you exactly what he said, but you will not obey the Lord your God any better now than you have in the past. So you can be sure that you will die from war, famine, and disease in Egypt, where you insist on going.”’

Jeremiah 42

‘The Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is also called Passover, was approaching. The leading priests and teachers of religious law were plotting how to kill Jesus, but they were afraid of the people’s reaction. Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, and he went to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted, and they promised to give him money. So he agreed and began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus so they could arrest him when the crowds weren’t around.
Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread arrived, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John ahead and said, “Go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together.” “Where do you want us to prepare it?” they asked him. He replied, “As soon as you enter Jerusalem, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.’

Luke 22:1-13

‘Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery. Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence,’
“The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

Hebrews 13:1-6

‘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

Do you know where your help comes from?


When you face trials of many kinds, where do you turn for help? Do you know where your help comes from? When you face troubles of this world, where do you turn for help? Do you know where your help comes from? When you need to make a tough decision, where do you turn for help? Do you know where your help comes from? When you get to the end of your rope, where do you turn for help? Do you know where your help comes from? When you keep going down the downward spiral because of bitterness and anger, where do you turn for help? Do you know where your help comes from?

Are you willing and ready to ask for help or will you allow pride to keep you from asking? Are you humble enough to stop and ask for help rather than struggle and try to do it all on your own? Are you in the right place, surrounded by the right people to support and encourage you to do what is right? Do you know where your help comes from?



This morning’s reading from God’s Word starts with 2 Samuel 3…

‘That was the beginning of a long war between those who were loyal to Saul and those loyal to David. As time passed David became stronger and stronger, while Saul’s dynasty became weaker and weaker. These are the sons who were born to David in Hebron: The oldest was Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam from Jezreel. The second was Daniel, whose mother was Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel. The third was Absalom, whose mother was Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur. The fourth was Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith. The fifth was Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital. The sixth was Ithream, whose mother was Eglah, David’s wife. These sons were all born to David in Hebron. As the war between the house of Saul and the house of David went on, Abner became a powerful leader among those loyal to Saul. One day Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, accused Abner of sleeping with one of his father’s concubines, a woman named Rizpah, daughter of Aiah. Abner was furious. “Am I some Judean dog to be kicked around like this?” he shouted. “After all I have done for your father, Saul, and his family and friends by not handing you over to David, is this my reward—that you find fault with me about this woman? May God strike me and even kill me if I don’t do everything I can to help David get what the Lord has promised him! I’m going to take Saul’s kingdom and give it to David. I will establish the throne of David over Israel as well as Judah, all the way from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south.” Ishbosheth didn’t dare say another word because he was afraid of what Abner might do. Then Abner sent messengers to David, saying, “Doesn’t the entire land belong to you? Make a solemn pact with me, and I will help turn over all of Israel to you.” “All right,” David replied, “but I will not negotiate with you unless you bring back my wife Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come.” David then sent this message to Ishbosheth, Saul’s son: “Give me back my wife Michal, for I bought her with the lives of 100 Philistines.” So Ishbosheth took Michal away from her husband, Palti son of Laish. Palti followed along behind her as far as Bahurim, weeping as he went. Then Abner told him, “Go back home!” So Palti returned. Meanwhile, Abner had consulted with the elders of Israel. “For some time now,” he told them, “you have wanted to make David your king. Now is the time! For the Lord has said, ‘I have chosen David to save my people Israel from the hands of the Philistines and from all their other enemies.’” Abner also spoke with the men of Benjamin. Then he went to Hebron to tell David that all the people of Israel and Benjamin had agreed to support him. When Abner and twenty of his men came to Hebron, David entertained them with a great feast. Then Abner said to David, “Let me go and call an assembly of all Israel to support my lord the king. They will make a covenant with you to make you their king, and you will rule over everything your heart desires.” So David sent Abner safely on his way. But just after David had sent Abner away in safety, Joab and some of David’s troops returned from a raid, bringing much plunder with them. When Joab arrived, he was told that Abner had just been there visiting the king and had been sent away in safety. Joab rushed to the king and demanded, “What have you done? What do you mean by letting Abner get away? You know perfectly well that he came to spy on you and find out everything you’re doing!” Joab then left David and sent messengers to catch up with Abner, asking him to return. They found him at the well of Sirah and brought him back, though David knew nothing about it. When Abner arrived back at Hebron, Joab took him aside at the gateway as if to speak with him privately. But then he stabbed Abner in the stomach and killed him in revenge for killing his brother Asahel. When David heard about it, he declared, “I vow by the Lord that I and my kingdom are forever innocent of this crime against Abner son of Ner. Joab and his family are the guilty ones. May the family of Joab be cursed in every generation with a man who has open sores or leprosy or who walks on crutches or dies by the sword or begs for food!” So Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because Abner had killed their brother Asahel at the battle of Gibeon. Then David said to Joab and all those who were with him, “Tear your clothes and put on burlap. Mourn for Abner.” And King David himself walked behind the procession to the grave. They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king and all the people wept at his graveside. Then the king sang this funeral song for Abner: “Should Abner have died as fools die? Your hands were not bound; your feet were not chained. No, you were murdered— the victim of a wicked plot.” All the people wept again for Abner. David had refused to eat anything on the day of the funeral, and now everyone begged him to eat. But David had made a vow, saying, “May God strike me and even kill me if I eat anything before sundown.” This pleased the people very much. In fact, everything the king did pleased them! So everyone in Judah and all Israel understood that David was not responsible for Abner’s murder. Then King David said to his officials, “Don’t you realize that a great commander has fallen today in Israel? And even though I am the anointed king, these two sons of Zeruiah—Joab and Abishai—are too strong for me to control. So may the Lord repay these evil men for their evil deeds.”’

2 Samuel 3

‘While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the Lord gave him this second message: “This is what the Lord says—the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord : Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come. For this is what the Lord , the God of Israel, says: You have torn down the houses of this city and even the king’s palace to get materials to strengthen the walls against the siege ramps and swords of the enemy. You expect to fight the Babylonians, but the men of this city are already as good as dead, for I have determined to destroy them in my terrible anger. I have abandoned them because of all their wickedness. “Nevertheless, the time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns. I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion. Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them. “This is what the Lord says: You have said, ‘This is a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’ Yet in the empty streets of Jerusalem and Judah’s other towns, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the Lord . They will sing, ‘Give thanks to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, for the Lord is good. His faithful love endures forever!’ For I will restore the prosperity of this land to what it was in the past, says the Lord . “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: This land—though it is now desolate and has no people and animals—will once more have pastures where shepherds can lead their flocks. Once again shepherds will count their flocks in the towns of the hill country, the foothills of Judah, the Negev, the land of Benjamin, the vicinity of Jerusalem, and all the towns of Judah. I, the Lord , have spoken! “The day will come, says the Lord , when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them. “In those days and at that time I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. In that day Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this will be its name: ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’ For this is what the Lord says: David will have a descendant sitting on the throne of Israel forever. And there will always be Levitical priests to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings and sacrifices to me.” Then this message came to Jeremiah from the Lord : “This is what the Lord says: If you can break my covenant with the day and the night so that one does not follow the other, only then will my covenant with my servant David be broken. Only then will he no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. The same is true for my covenant with the Levitical priests who minister before me. And as the stars of the sky cannot be counted and the sand on the seashore cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of my servant David and the Levites who minister before me.” The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Have you noticed what people are saying?—‘The Lord chose Judah and Israel and then abandoned them!’ They are sneering and saying that Israel is not worthy to be counted as a nation. But this is what the Lord says: I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws that govern night and day, earth and sky. I will never abandon the descendants of Jacob or David, my servant, or change the plan that David’s descendants will rule the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Instead, I will restore them to their land and have mercy on them.”’

Jeremiah 33

‘Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”’

Luke 19:1-10

‘That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer. You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God— as is written about me in the Scriptures.’” First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says, “This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord : I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.’

Hebrews 10:5-18

‘Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth! Sing about the glory of his name! Tell the world how glorious he is. Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! Your enemies cringe before your mighty power. Everything on earth will worship you; they will sing your praises, shouting your name in glorious songs.” Interlude Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles he performs for people! He made a dry path through the Red Sea, and his people went across on foot. There we rejoiced in him. For by his great power he rules forever. He watches every movement of the nations; let no rebel rise in defiance. Interlude Let the whole world bless our God and loudly sing his praises. Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling. You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver. You captured us in your net and laid the burden of slavery on our backs. Then you put a leader over us. We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance. Now I come to your Temple with burnt offerings to fulfill the vows I made to you— yes, the sacred vows that I made when I was in deep trouble. That is why I am sacrificing burnt offerings to you— the best of my rams as a pleasing aroma, and a sacrifice of bulls and male goats. Interlude Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.’

Psalms 66

What is the state of your heart?


What are you holding onto in your heart? Is it true or is it false? Is it love or is it bitterness? Is it hope or is it hopelessness? Is it fear or is it fearlessness? Is it pains or is it healing? Is it sorrow or is it joy? Have you ever invited Jesus into your heart and asked Him to help you clean it up? Have you ever gone through processes that can help remove the bad and replace it with good? Have you ever gone through processes that can help clean up the junk and leave room for God to replace and rebuilt it with things that are good, are joyful, are beneficial?

As I reflect on my life I have many situations where God has intervened since that day back in 2001 when I came to realize it wasn’t about going to church, it wasn’t about singing songs, it wasn’t about listening to the Word of God being preached, but that it was really about having a relationship with Jesus. It was transformative. I went through a program called Cleansing Stream and found freedom from some things that I wasn’t even aware were there – or at least the cause/effect – but through it the power of forgiveness freed me from fits of anger. I remember going through a really tough time of betrayal and deception and becoming bitter but then through the power of forgiveness I was freed from the downward spiral, uprooted the bitterness and anger, and turned my life around. God has plans so much bigger than we could ever ask or imagine. When we trust Him and follow after Him, preparing our hearts and purifying our lives, He can do incredible things, not giving up on us but continuing to press us to step up and do more. I remember resisting the call to become president of our HOA but then I had a divine encounter where God gave me the option that I could do what He asked and be president or I could be nothing, the choice was mine. When you put it that way, nothing sounds bad and so I told God, let’s do it His way. It was incredible all the things that happened when I was obedient and the things that happened in the office and the community because I gave in to God’s plans and direction. So we need to listen and obey His commands. We need to know His voice and trust Him. We need to be ambassadors of peace. We need to people who forgive and ask for forgiveness. Let’s purify our hearts so that God can come in and help us clean up our messes and help us to get rid of the junk we have allowed in over time. Let’s do it all so that in and through it all God will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’s name. Amen.


Today’s reading starts us out in Leviticus 12.

‘The Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. If a woman becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son, she will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her menstrual period. On the eighth day the boy’s foreskin must be circumcised. After waiting thirty-three days, she will be purified from the bleeding of childbirth. During this time of purification, she must not touch anything that is set apart as holy. And she must not enter the sanctuary until her time of purification is over. If a woman gives birth to a daughter, she will be ceremonially unclean for two weeks, just as she is unclean during her menstrual period. After waiting sixty-six days, she will be purified from the bleeding of childbirth. “When the time of purification is completed for either a son or a daughter, the woman must bring a one-year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or turtledove for a purification offering. She must bring her offerings to the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle. The priest will then present them to the Lord to purify her. Then she will be ceremonially clean again after her bleeding at childbirth. These are the instructions for a woman after the birth of a son or a daughter. “If a woman cannot afford to bring a lamb, she must bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons. One will be for the burnt offering and the other for the purification offering. The priest will sacrifice them to purify her, and she will be ceremonially clean.”’

Leviticus 12

Today’s reading continues into the book of Proverbs to provide us with wisdom for this day. We start with Proverbs 4.

‘My children, listen when your father corrects you. Pay attention and learn good judgment, for I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my instructions. For I, too, was once my father’s son, tenderly loved as my mother’s only child. My father taught me, “Take my words to heart. Follow my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them. Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you. Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment. If you prize wisdom, she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will honor you. She will place a lovely wreath on your head; she will present you with a beautiful crown.” My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble. Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life. Don’t do as the wicked do, and don’t follow the path of evildoers. Don’t even think about it; don’t go that way. Turn away and keep moving. For evil people can’t sleep until they’ve done their evil deed for the day. They can’t rest until they’ve caused someone to stumble. They eat the food of wickedness and drink the wine of violence! The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like total darkness. They have no idea what they are stumbling over. My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech. Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.’

Proverbs 4

Today’s reading then brings us into Proverbs 5.

‘My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise counsel. Then you will show discernment, and your lips will express what you’ve learned. For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. For she cares nothing about the path to life. She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it. So now, my sons, listen to me. Never stray from what I am about to say: Stay away from her! Don’t go near the door of her house! If you do, you will lose your honor and will lose to merciless people all you have achieved. Strangers will consume your wealth, and someone else will enjoy the fruit of your labor. In the end you will groan in anguish when disease consumes your body. You will say, “How I hated discipline! If only I had not ignored all the warnings! Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers? Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructors? I have come to the brink of utter ruin, and now I must face public disgrace.” Drink water from your own well— share your love only with your wife. Why spill the water of your springs in the streets, having sex with just anyone? You should reserve it for yourselves. Never share it with strangers. Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral woman, or fondle the breasts of a promiscuous woman? For the Lord sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes. An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness.’

Proverbs 5

Today’s reading then brings us into the New Testament starting with Mark 10.

‘Then Jesus left Capernaum and went down to the region of Judea and into the area east of the Jordan River. Once again crowds gathered around him, and as usual he was teaching them. Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?” Jesus answered them with a question: “What did Moses say in the law about divorce?” “Well, he permitted it,” they replied. “He said a man can give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away.” But Jesus responded, “He wrote this commandment only as a concession to your hard hearts. But ‘God made them male and female’ from the beginning of creation. ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” Later, when he was alone with his disciples in the house, they brought up the subject again. He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries someone else, she commits adultery.”

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.’

Mark 10:1-16

Today’s reading continues into 1 Corinthians 16.

‘Now regarding your question about the money being collected for God’s people in Jerusalem. You should follow the same procedure I gave to the churches in Galatia. On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once. When I come, I will write letters of recommendation for the messengers you choose to deliver your gift to Jerusalem. And if it seems appropriate for me to go along, they can travel with me.

I am coming to visit you after I have been to Macedonia, for I am planning to travel through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay awhile with you, possibly all winter, and then you can send me on my way to my next destination. This time I don’t want to make just a short visit and then go right on. I want to come and stay awhile, if the Lord will let me. In the meantime, I will be staying here at Ephesus until the Festival of Pentecost. There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me. When Timothy comes, don’t intimidate him. He is doing the Lord’s work, just as I am. Don’t let anyone treat him with contempt. Send him on his way with your blessing when he returns to me. I expect him to come with the other believers.’

1 Corinthians 16:1-11

As we meditate and consider all that God has poured into our lives through today’s Word, let’s stop before we conclude with today’s psalm.

Heavenly Father,
I thank You Lord for this new day and for everything that will be in it. Help me Lord to never forget all You have done and continue to do in my life. Help me Lord to pass along my testimonies as well as Your Word to my children and to all those who You bring into my life so that in and through it all You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory so that we will remember You and trust You all the days of our lives in Jesus’s name. Amen.


Today’s reading concludes with Psalms 78.

‘O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past— stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord , about his power and his mighty wonders. For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them— even the children not yet born— and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors— stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God. The warriors of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned their backs and fled on the day of battle. They did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by his instructions. They forgot what he had done— the great wonders he had shown them, the miracles he did for their ancestors on the plain of Zoan in the land of Egypt. For he divided the sea and led them through, making the water stand up like walls! In the daytime he led them by a cloud, and all night by a pillar of fire. He split open the rocks in the wilderness to give them water, as from a gushing spring. He made streams pour from the rock, making the waters flow down like a river! Yet they kept on sinning against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert. They stubbornly tested God in their hearts, demanding the foods they craved. They even spoke against God himself, saying, “God can’t give us food in the wilderness. Yes, he can strike a rock so water gushes out, but he can’t give his people bread and meat.” When the Lord heard them, he was furious. The fire of his wrath burned against Jacob. Yes, his anger rose against Israel, for they did not believe God or trust him to care for them. But he commanded the skies to open; he opened the doors of heaven. He rained down manna for them to eat; he gave them bread from heaven. They ate the food of angels! God gave them all they could hold. He released the east wind in the heavens and guided the south wind by his mighty power. He rained down meat as thick as dust— birds as plentiful as the sand on the seashore! He caused the birds to fall within their camp and all around their tents. The people ate their fill. He gave them what they craved. But before they satisfied their craving, while the meat was yet in their mouths, the anger of God rose against them, and he killed their strongest men. He struck down the finest of Israel’s young men. But in spite of this, the people kept sinning. Despite his wonders, they refused to trust him. So he ended their lives in failure, their years in terror. When God began killing them, they finally sought him. They repented and took God seriously. Then they remembered that God was their rock, that God Most High was their redeemer. But all they gave him was lip service; they lied to him with their tongues. Their hearts were not loyal to him. They did not keep his covenant. Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins and did not destroy them all. Many times he held back his anger and did not unleash his fury! For he remembered that they were merely mortal, gone like a breath of wind that never returns. Oh, how often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved his heart in that dry wasteland. Again and again they tested God’s patience and provoked the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember his power and how he rescued them from their enemies. They did not remember his miraculous signs in Egypt, his wonders on the plain of Zoan. For he turned their rivers into blood, so no one could drink from the streams. He sent vast swarms of flies to consume them and hordes of frogs to ruin them. He gave their crops to caterpillars; their harvest was consumed by locusts. He destroyed their grapevines with hail and shattered their sycamore-figs with sleet. He abandoned their cattle to the hail, their livestock to bolts of lightning. He loosed on them his fierce anger— all his fury, rage, and hostility. He dispatched against them a band of destroying angels. He turned his anger against them; he did not spare the Egyptians’ lives but ravaged them with the plague. He killed the oldest son in each Egyptian family, the flower of youth throughout the land of Egypt. But he led his own people like a flock of sheep, guiding them safely through the wilderness. He kept them safe so they were not afraid; but the sea covered their enemies. He brought them to the border of his holy land, to this land of hills he had won for them. He drove out the nations before them; he gave them their inheritance by lot. He settled the tribes of Israel into their homes. But they kept testing and rebelling against God Most High. They did not obey his laws. They turned back and were as faithless as their parents. They were as undependable as a crooked bow. They angered God by building shrines to other gods; they made him jealous with their idols. When God heard them, he was very angry, and he completely rejected Israel. Then he abandoned his dwelling at Shiloh, the Tabernacle where he had lived among the people. He allowed the Ark of his might to be captured; he surrendered his glory into enemy hands. He gave his people over to be butchered by the sword, because he was so angry with his own people—his special possession. Their young men were killed by fire; their young women died before singing their wedding songs. Their priests were slaughtered, and their widows could not mourn their deaths. Then the Lord rose up as though waking from sleep, like a warrior aroused from a drunken stupor. He routed his enemies and sent them to eternal shame. But he rejected Joseph’s descendants; he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim. He chose instead the tribe of Judah, and Mount Zion, which he loved. There he built his sanctuary as high as the heavens, as solid and enduring as the earth. He chose his servant David, calling him from the sheep pens. He took David from tending the ewes and lambs and made him the shepherd of Jacob’s descendants— God’s own people, Israel. He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.’

Psalms 78

Can you forgive them no matter what? What if they show that they have changed?


I have learned through a few experiences that forgiveness is more about my own well being than about the person being forgiven. I have learned that forgiveness is an opportunity to take back control and receive healing from some act that happened. I have learned the importance of forgiving them no matter what. It doesn’t mean they are right. It doesn’t mean you can trust them. It doesn’t mean you let them do it again. But it does mean you give it over to God to take care of. It does mean that you can let go of the bitterness and anger. It does mean you can receive the love, the grace, the mercy, and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. God’s Word tells us that we need to continue to forgive 7×70 times. I remember my first time when I really needed to learn this lesson and how it was the song 7×70 that came on the radio and was the trigger to bring healing back into my life breaking down and removing the bitterness and anger. It was such an incredible story that I have even taken the opportunity to share it with others at work when asked to give a testimony and then shared the video that was produced to be able to help others learn about one another as the company was continuing to grow.

Today’s reading about Joseph and his brother’s second return to Egypt made the power of forgiveness and using what others planned for evil and allowing God to turn it around and use it for good came to mind. We will get to watch this play out over a few more days until the reconciliation is complete. Today’s reading starts in Genesis 43.

‘But the famine continued to ravage the land of Canaan. When the grain they had brought from Egypt was almost gone, Jacob said to his sons, “Go back and buy us a little more food.” But Judah said, “The man was serious when he warned us, ‘You won’t see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ If you send Benjamin with us, we will go down and buy more food. But if you don’t let Benjamin go, we won’t go either. Remember, the man said, ‘You won’t see my face again unless your brother is with you.’” “Why were you so cruel to me?” Jacob moaned. “Why did you tell him you had another brother?” “The man kept asking us questions about our family,” they replied. “He asked, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ So we answered his questions. How could we know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?” Judah said to his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will be on our way. Otherwise we will all die of starvation—and not only we, but you and our little ones. I personally guarantee his safety. You may hold me responsible if I don’t bring him back to you. Then let me bear the blame forever. If we hadn’t wasted all this time, we could have gone and returned twice by now.” So their father, Jacob, finally said to them, “If it can’t be avoided, then at least do this. Pack your bags with the best products of this land. Take them down to the man as gifts—balm, honey, gum, aromatic resin, pistachio nuts, and almonds. Also take double the money that was put back in your sacks, as it was probably someone’s mistake. Then take your brother, and go back to the man. May God Almighty give you mercy as you go before the man, so that he will release Simeon and let Benjamin return. But if I must lose my children, so be it.” So the men packed Jacob’s gifts and double the money and headed off with Benjamin. They finally arrived in Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph. When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the manager of his household, “These men will eat with me this noon. Take them inside the palace. Then go slaughter an animal, and prepare a big feast.” So the man did as Joseph told him and took them into Joseph’s palace. The brothers were terrified when they saw that they were being taken into Joseph’s house. “It’s because of the money someone put in our sacks last time we were here,” they said. “He plans to pretend that we stole it. Then he will seize us, make us slaves, and take our donkeys.”

The brothers approached the manager of Joseph’s household and spoke to him at the entrance to the palace. “Sir,” they said, “we came to Egypt once before to buy food. But as we were returning home, we stopped for the night and opened our sacks. Then we discovered that each man’s money—the exact amount paid—was in the top of his sack! Here it is; we have brought it back with us. We also have additional money to buy more food. We have no idea who put our money in our sacks.” “Relax. Don’t be afraid,” the household manager told them. “Your God, the God of your father, must have put this treasure into your sacks. I know I received your payment.” Then he released Simeon and brought him out to them. The manager then led the men into Joseph’s palace. He gave them water to wash their feet and provided food for their donkeys. They were told they would be eating there, so they prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon. When Joseph came home, they gave him the gifts they had brought him, then bowed low to the ground before him. After greeting them, he asked, “How is your father, the old man you spoke about? Is he still alive?” “Yes,” they replied. “Our father, your servant, is alive and well.” And they bowed low again. Then Joseph looked at his brother Benjamin, the son of his own mother. “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?” Joseph asked. “May God be gracious to you, my son.” Then Joseph hurried from the room because he was overcome with emotion for his brother. He went into his private room, where he broke down and wept. After washing his face, he came back out, keeping himself under control. Then he ordered, “Bring out the food!” The waiters served Joseph at his own table, and his brothers were served at a separate table. The Egyptians who ate with Joseph sat at their own table, because Egyptians despise Hebrews and refuse to eat with them. Joseph told each of his brothers where to sit, and to their amazement, he seated them according to age, from oldest to youngest. And Joseph filled their plates with food from his own table, giving Benjamin five times as much as he gave the others. So they feasted and drank freely with him.’

Genesis 43

Our reading brings us into 2 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 14

‘When Abijah died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Asa became the next king. There was peace in the land for ten years. Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God. He removed the foreign altars and the pagan shrines. He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded the people of Judah to seek the Lord , the God of their ancestors, and to obey his law and his commands. Asa also removed the pagan shrines, as well as the incense altars from every one of Judah’s towns. So Asa’s kingdom enjoyed a period of peace. During those peaceful years, he was able to build up the fortified towns throughout Judah. No one tried to make war against him at this time, for the Lord was giving him rest from his enemies. Asa told the people of Judah, “Let us build towns and fortify them with walls, towers, gates, and bars. The land is still ours because we sought the Lord our God, and he has given us peace on every side.” So they went ahead with these projects and brought them to completion. King Asa had an army of 300,000 warriors from the tribe of Judah, armed with large shields and spears. He also had an army of 280,000 warriors from the tribe of Benjamin, armed with small shields and bows. Both armies were composed of well-trained fighting men. Once an Ethiopian named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots. They advanced to the town of Mareshah, so Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah. Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God, “O Lord , no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O Lord , you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!” So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled. Asa and his army pursued them as far as Gerar, and so many Ethiopians fell that they were unable to rally. They were destroyed by the Lord and his army, and the army of Judah carried off a vast amount of plunder. While they were at Gerar, they attacked all the towns in that area, and terror from the Lord came upon the people there. As a result, a vast amount of plunder was taken from these towns, too. They also attacked the camps of herdsmen and captured many sheep, goats, and camels before finally returning to Jerusalem.’

2 Chronicles 14

and 2 Chronicles 15.

‘Then the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, and he went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. “Listen to me, Asa!” he shouted. “Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the Law to instruct them. But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the Lord , the God of Israel, and sought him out, they found him. “During those dark times, it was not safe to travel. Problems troubled the people of every land. Nation fought against nation, and city against city, for God was troubling them with every kind of problem. But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.” When Asa heard this message from Azariah the prophet, he took courage and removed all the detestable idols from the land of Judah and Benjamin and in the towns he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. And he repaired the altar of the Lord , which stood in front of the entry room of the Lord ’s Temple. Then Asa called together all the people of Judah and Benjamin, along with the people of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who had settled among them. For many from Israel had moved to Judah during Asa’s reign when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. The people gathered at Jerusalem in late spring, during the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign. On that day they sacrificed to the Lord 700 cattle and 7,000 sheep and goats from the plunder they had taken in the battle. Then they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord , the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. They agreed that anyone who refused to seek the Lord , the God of Israel, would be put to death—whether young or old, man or woman. They shouted out their oath of loyalty to the Lord with trumpets blaring and rams’ horns sounding. All in Judah were happy about this covenant, for they had entered into it with all their heart. They earnestly sought after God, and they found him. And the Lord gave them rest from their enemies on every side. King Asa even deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother because she had made an obscene Asherah pole. He cut down her obscene pole, broke it up, and burned it in the Kidron Valley. Although the pagan shrines were not removed from Israel, Asa’s heart remained completely faithful throughout his life. He brought into the Temple of God the silver and gold and the various items that he and his father had dedicated. So there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.’

2 Chronicles 15

We need to draw closer to God. We need to walk in His ways. We need to turn back to Him if/when we get lost and ask Him for forgiveness. Jesus gave His life as the ultimate sacrifice in order that we can be reconciled back to God. Let’s live our lives faithfully to God for He is faithful to us.

Our reading continues into the New Testament starting in John 10.

‘Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council together. “What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.” Caiaphas, who was high priest at that time, said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about! You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.” He did not say this on his own; as high priest at that time he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation. And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world. So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death. As a result, Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples. It was now almost time for the Jewish Passover celebration, and many people from all over the country arrived in Jerusalem several days early so they could go through the purification ceremony before Passover began. They kept looking for Jesus, but as they stood around in the Temple, they said to each other, “What do you think? He won’t come for Passover, will he?” Meanwhile, the leading priests and Pharisees had publicly ordered that anyone seeing Jesus must report it immediately so they could arrest him.’

John 10:38-57

We learn how Jesus died once for all. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the only way to be reconciled back to God. Will you receive the gift of Jesus into your life? Have you received God’s forgiveness through Jesus? This reminds of how as I was driving after having forgiven others the words that came to my mind “as you forgive others, so I will forgive you”. I realized that He had prompted me for months to forgive and I rejected it with so many excuses and reasons and justifications why I shouldn’t and couldn’t and so started to ask Jesus to forgive me for my disobedience and my resistance to the truth. I remember the weight being lifted off my shoulders as I finished praying and talking to God. It was all gone. It was a miracle. It was amazing. No bitterness. No anger. Just peace!

Today’s reading continues into 1 Thessalonians 4.

‘Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more. For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor— not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. Never harm or cheat a fellow believer in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another. Indeed, you already show your love for all the believers throughout Macedonia. Even so, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more. Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.’

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

As we close today’s reading, let’s meditate on today’s psalm – Psalms 31.

‘O Lord , I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. Save me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me; rescue me quickly. Be my rock of protection, a fortress where I will be safe. You are my rock and my fortress. For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger. Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me, for I find protection in you alone. I entrust my spirit into your hand. Rescue me, Lord , for you are a faithful God. I hate those who worship worthless idols. I trust in the Lord . I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to my enemies but have set me in a safe place. Have mercy on me, Lord , for I am in distress. Tears blur my eyes. My body and soul are withering away. I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness. Sin has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within. I am scorned by all my enemies and despised by my neighbors— even my friends are afraid to come near me. When they see me on the street, they run the other way. I am ignored as if I were dead, as if I were a broken pot. I have heard the many rumors about me, and I am surrounded by terror. My enemies conspire against me, plotting to take my life. But I am trusting you, O Lord , saying, “You are my God!” My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly. Let your favor shine on your servant. In your unfailing love, rescue me. Don’t let me be disgraced, O Lord , for I call out to you for help. Let the wicked be disgraced; let them lie silent in the grave. Silence their lying lips— those proud and arrogant lips that accuse the godly. How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world. You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues. Praise the Lord , for he has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love. He kept me safe when my city was under attack. In panic I cried out, “I am cut off from the Lord !” But you heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help. Love the Lord , all you godly ones! For the Lord protects those who are loyal to him, but he harshly punishes the arrogant. So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord !’

Psalms 31

Ever realize the answer is at hand?


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

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

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


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

Trees of the Field will Clap Their Hands

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

–from Isaiah 55

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

Foreigners Keeping Shabbat

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

–from Isaiah 56

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

Remove Every Stumbling Block

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

–from Isaiah 57

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

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

–from Acts 7

 

Will you invest in the future?


Will you plant seeds that you won’t see grow? Will you water even though you won’t see the fruit? Will you prepare the resources for the generation to come? Will you provide the wisdom of what needs to happen so they know what to do? Will you give it up to God so that He will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory? Will you invest in the future? Are you ready to leave a legacy? Are you willing to set up the legacy for the generation to come? Will you store up your treasures in heaven where rust can’t destroy? where thieves can steal? where moths can’t eat them? Will you be sensitive to the prompting of the Spirit? Will you be willing to let it go and give it up to Him? Will you be willing to make it more about God and less about yourself? How will you choose to invest in the future? Even doing nothing is a choice, but is it the choice you would like to have as your final one? So…will you invest in the future?

So let’s set our hearts and soul to God’s plan and God’s purpose! Let’s bring light and hope and love into this world around us! Let’s allow Him to work in and through us in a way that will transform the world around us! Let’s get back to basics! Let’s get back to the truth! Let’s get back to absolutes! Let’s stop the wavering that is allowing bad things and wrong things to be done because of relativism! Let’s come together loving God and loving people! Let’s come together unified as a people, for divided we’ll fall! We need to get back to basics! We need to get back to the beginning! Let’s build on a strong foundation! Let’s build with Jesus as our cornerstone! We need it now more than ever! We need to unite for the common good with Jesus as the center for a cord of three strands is not easily broken and with Jesus in the middle and with all of us going to Him, we will find peace that goes beyond understanding, we will find strength to move forward, we will find grace to forgive, we will find hope for tomorrow! Do you want to leave this world a better place for the next generation than what it was when we got it? So, how will you invest in the future?

1Then David said, “This is the place where the House of Adonai Elohim will be, along with the altar for burnt sacrifices for Israel.”

Preparing for the Temple

2David gave orders to assemble the foreigners in the land of Israel, and assigned them to be masons to quarry stones to build the House of God. 3David supplied an abundance of iron for nails for the doors of the gates and for the joints, so much bronze that it could not be weighed, 4and cedar logs without number, for the Zidonians and the Tyrians brought an abundance of cedar logs to David. 5David said, “Solomon my son is young and inexperienced and the House that is to be built for Adonai must be exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorious throughout all the nations. Therefore I will make preparation for it.” So David made extensive preparations before his death. 6Then He called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build a House for Adonai, the God of Israel. 7David said to Solomon, “My son, I had it in my heart to build a House for the name of Adonai my God. 8But the word of Adonai came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and fought many battles. You will not build a House for My Name because you have shed much blood before Me on the earth. 9Behold, a son will be born to you who will be a man at rest. I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon and I will confer shalom and quietness on Israel in his days. 10He will build a House for My name; he will be My son and I will be His Father. I will establish his royal throne over Israel forever.’ 11“Now, my son, may Adonai be with you, and may you succeed in building the House of Adonai your God as He spoke concerning you. 12Only may Adonai give you insight and understanding when He gives you charge over Israel so that you may observe the Torah of Adonai your God. 13Then you will prosper, if you carefully observe the statutes and the ordinances that Adonai commanded Moses concerning Israel. Chazak! And be courageous! Do not be afraid or dismayed. 14“Now behold, with great pain I have provided for the House of Adonai 100,000 talents of gold, a million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond weighing for there is so much of it. I have also prepared wood and stone, and you must add to them. 15 Moreover, you have an abundance of workmen: stonecutters, masons, carpenters and every kind of craftsmen skilled in every kind of material— 16in gold, silver, bronze and iron—beyond number. Arise and work! May Adonai be with you.” 17David also commanded all the leaders of Israel to help Solomon his son, 18“Is not Adonai your God with you? Has He not given you rest on every side? For He has delivered the inhabitants of the land into my hand and the land is subdued before Adonai and before His people. 19Now set your hearts and souls to seek after Adonai your God. Rise up and build the Sanctuary of Adonai Elohim so that you can bring the Ark of the Covenant of Adonai and the holy vessels of God into the House built for the Name of Adonai.”

–from 1 Chronicles 22

How will you help? What will be your part? What do you have to bring? What do you have to offer? What skills and talents will help you to prepare and pass it along?

Census of Levites

1When David was old and full of days, he made his son Solomon king over Israel. 2He also gathered together all the leaders of Israel along with the kohanim and the Levites. 3The Levites 30 years old or more were counted; their head count was 38,000 men. 4Of these, there were 24,000 to oversee the work of the House of Adonai, 6,000 officers and judges, 5 4,000 gatekeepers, and 4,000 for praising Adonai “with the instruments which I made for giving praise.” 6David organized them into divisions: The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. 7Of the Gershonites: Ladan and Shimei. 8The sons of Ladan: Jehiel the leader, Zetham and Joel—three. 9The sons of Shimei: Shelomith, Haziel and Haran—three. These were the heads of the clans of Ladan. 10The sons of Shimei: Jahath, Zina, Jeush and Beriah. These were the sons of Shimei—four. 11Jahath was the first and Zizah the second, but Jeush and Beriah did not have many sons, so they were enrolled together as a single clan. 12The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel—four. 13The sons of Amram: Aaron and Moses. Aaron, along with his descendants, was set apart to be consecrated as most holy forever, to burn incense before Adonai, to minister to Him, and to bless in His name forever. 14But as for Moses the man of God, his sons are named among the tribe of Levi. 15The sons of Moses: Gershom and Eliezer. 16The sons of Gershom: Shebuel, the leader. 17The sons of Eliezer: Rehabiah the chief. Eliezer had no other sons, but the sons of Rehabiah were very numerous. 18The sons of Izhar: Shelomith the leader. 19The sons of Hebron: Jeriah the first, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third and Jekameam the fourth. 20The sons of Uzziel: Micah the first and Isshiah the second. 21The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. The sons of Mahli: Eleazar and Kish. 22Eleazar died having no sons but only daughters; the sons of Kish, their kinsmen, took them as wives. 23The sons of Mushi: Mahli, Eder, and Yeremot—three. 24These were the sons of Levi by clans, with the heads of clans as they were enrolled and with a list of their names by heads who carried out the task of avodah in the House of Adonai from 20 years old and upward. 25For David said: “Adonai, the God of Israel, has given His people rest and He dwells in Jerusalem forever. 26Therefore, the Levites need not carry the Tabernacle and all the vessels for avodah.” 27For according to David’s final instructions, the Levites 20 years old and upward were counted. 28For their duty was to help the descendants of Aaron in the avodah of Adonai’s House concerning the courtyards and rooms, the purification of all holy things and the performance of the avodah of God’s House, 29the rows of bread, the fine flour for the grain offering, the matzot , the cake baked on the griddle or mixed and every measure of capacity and length, 30and to stand every morning to thank and praise Adonai. They also did this in the evening 31and whenever burnt offerings were offered to Adonai on Shabbatot, New Moons and the moadim. They were to serve regularly before Adonai, according to the proper number in the manner prescribed for them. 32They were to keep watch over the Tent of Meeting, the Holy Place and the sons of Aaron their kinsmen for avodah in the House of Adonai.

–from 1 Chronicles 23

 

1Now these were the divisions of the sons of Aaron. The sons of Aaron were Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 2But Nadab and Abihu died before their father and had no children, so Eleazar and Ithamar served as kohanim. 3David, with Zadok of the sons of Eleazar and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, divided them into their offices according to their avodah. 4More leading men were found among the sons of Eleazar than among the sons of Ithamar, so they divided them: the sons of Eleazar had 16 leaders of clans and the sons of Ithamar had eight leaders of clans. 5Thus, they were impartially divided by lot for there were officials of the Holy Place and officials of God, both from the sons of Eleazar and from the sons of Ithamar. 6The scribe Shemaiah, son of Nethanel from the Levites, recorded them in the presence of the king, the princes, Zadok the priest, Ahimelech son of Abiathar, and the leaders of the clans of the kohanim and of the Levites: one clan taken for Eleazar and one for Ithamar. 7Now the first lot came for Jehoiarib, the second for Jedaiah, 8the third for Harim, the fourth for Seorim, 9the fifth for Malchijah, the sixth for Mijamin, 10the seventh for Hakkoz, the eighth for Abijah, 11the ninth for Jeshua, the tenth for Shecaniah, 12the eleventh for Eliashib, the twelfth for Jakim, 13the thirteenth for Huppah, the fourteenth for Heshebeab, 14the fifteenth for Bilgah, the sixteenth for Immer, 15the seventeenth for Hezir, the eighteenth for Hapizzez, 16the nineteenth for Petahiah the twentieth for Jehezkel, 17the twentyfirst for Jachin, the twentysecond for Gamul, 18the twentythird for Delaiah, the twentyfourth for Maaziah. 19These were their duties for their avodah upon entering into the House of Adonai according to the ordinance given to them by the hand of Aaron their father, just as Adonai the God of Israel had commanded him. 20As for the rest of the sons of Levi: from the sons of Amram: Shubael; from the sons of Shubael: Jehdeiah. 21As for Rehabiah, from the sons of Rehabiah Isshiah was the first. 22From the Izharites: Shelomoth; from the sons of Shelomoth: Jahath. 23The sons of Hebron: Jeriah, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third, Jekameam the fourth. 24The sons of Uzziel: Micah; from the sons of Micah: Shamir. 25The brother of Micah, Ishiah; from the sons of Ishiah: Zechariah. 26The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi; the sons of Jaaziah: Beno. 27The sons of Merari: from Jaaziah: Beno, Shoham, Zaccur and Ibri. 28From Mahli: Eleazar, who had no sons. 29From Kish, the sons of Kish: Jerahmeel. 30The sons of Mushi: Mahli, Eder and Jerimoth. These were the sons of the Levites by their clans. 31These also cast lots even as their kinsmen the sons of Aaron did in the presence of King David, Zadok, Ahimelech and the heads of the clans of the kohanim and the Levites—the families of the oldest just like those of his youngest brother.

–from 1 Chronicles 24

Jesus will be coming back – the book of Revelation tells us of that. Jesus came to be our savior so that we could have life to the full! What are we doing together today to help the future be ready? What we we doing together today to help the next generation to be ready and prepared what is yet to come? Are we you making sure we have a solid foundation of faith for them to stand upon? Are we making sure that we have a cornerstone that is Jesus so that we have a situation that is lined up in truth? Will we plant and demonstrate righteousness and hate lawlessness? Will we help people know the difference between right and wrong? Will we pour our grace and forgiveness as Jesus did for us?

Let’s humble ourselves and pray! Let’s ask Jesus to intervene in what is taking place! Let’s ask God to help us to bring reconciliation and peace and hope and joy and love to this country! Let’s stand up! Let’s stand in the gap! Let’s bridge the gap and help start the reconciliation! Let’s not allow lawlessness to have a root! Let’s not allow bitterness and anger to eat and tear us up from the inside out! Let’s move towards forgiveness in order to have life, truth, justice and liberty for all!

Superiority of the Son

1At many times and in many ways, God spoke long ago to the fathers through the prophets. 2In these last days He has spoken to us through a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things and through whom He created the universe. 3This Son is the radiance of His glory and the imprint of His being, upholding all things by His powerful word. When He had made purification for our sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. 4Thus He became as far above the angels as the name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs. 5For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are My Son. Today I have become Your Father”? And again, “I will be to Him a Father, and He will be to Me a Son”? 6And again, when He brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” 7And regarding the angels He says, “He makes His angels winds, and His servants a flame of fire.” 8But regarding the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and a scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your Kingdom. 9You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your companions.” 10And, “In the beginning, Adonai, You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands. 11They shall pass away, but You remain. And they will all wear out like clothing. 12And like a robe You will roll them up, and like clothing they will be changed; but You are the same, and Your years shall never end.” 13But to which of the angels has He ever said, “Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet”? 14Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out for service to those about to inherit salvation?

–from Hebrews 1

 

Do you know what is good for you?


Do you know what food is good for the body? Do you know things are good for the mind? Do you know what things are good for the soul? Do you realize that it is what comes out of you that makes you unclean? What are you putting into your heart? From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks! So don’t allow bitterness to stick in your heart! Allow forgiveness to have its way so that both you and others will be in a healthy state. Don’t wait and allow bitterness to drag you down into the pit, but rather forgive and allow your heart to be free from the sadness, the pain, the sorrow, the anger, and worse. Let’s ask God to soften our hearts! Let’s ask God to clean out our hearts! Let’s invite Jesus into our hearts to create a new pure heart in us! That we may be generous! That we may be ambassadors for God that others may come to know Him and hear Him and start a relationship with Him! Let’s be givers! Let’s be ambassadors of peace! Let’s share the love of God with others! And when you aren’t sure what to do, cry out to God! Ask Jesus for help! Allow the Holy Spirit to speak into your life the wisdom, the direction, the correction, the instruction you need! Stop and cry out to Him! Ask Him! Seek Him! Knock that He may open! Don’t lose hope but rather cry out to God and chase after Him! Don’t allow the enemy of your soul to create fear and and doubt but rather put your hope and trust in God! Let’s build others up! Let’s tear down strongholds that are holding us and them down or back! Let’s come humbly! Let’s come confidently! Let’s come lovingly! Our battle isn’t against flesh and blood but rather against dark powers and principalities of this world! Let’s be spreading the knowledge of God rather than allow those who would try to block it or come against it to be victorious. Let’s be confident of what Jesus has done! Let’s be confident of what Jesus is doing in and through us! Let’s share the good news! Everyone is looking to get some good news, there is so much bad news everywhere you turn. Don’t hoard the good news, but share it with those God brings into your life! Speak a word of encouragement for you may be that breath of wind into someone else’s sail to allow them to keep going! Let’s live lives that will bless and honor God that in the end we will get to hear those precious words – “well done my good and faithful servant”.


Today’s reading speaks into this topics through the following scripture…

Clean Foods for a Holy People

1“You are the children of Adonai your God. You are not to cut yourselves or shave your forehead for the dead. 2For you are a holy people to Adonai your God—from all the peoples on the face of the earth, Adonai has chosen you to be His treasured people. 3You are not to eat any detestable thing. 4These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, 5the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope, and the mountain sheep. 6Among the animals, you may eat any animal that splits the hoof—the hoof completely split in two—and chews the cud. 7Yet of those that chew the cud or have a split hoof, you are not to eat the camel, the hare, and the rabbit—because they chew the cud but do not split the hoof, they are unclean to you. 8The pig, because it splits the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you—you are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses. 9Of all that are in the waters, these you may eat: whatever has fins and scales you may eat, 10but whatever does not have fins and scales you are not to eat—it is unclean to you. 11You may eat all clean birds, 12but these are the ones you are not to eat: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, 13the red kite, the black kite, and any bird of prey of that kind, 14every raven of any kind, 15the ostrich, the owl, the seagull, a hawk of any kind, 16the little owl, the great owl, the white owl, 17the pelican, the Egyptian vulture, the cormorant, 18the stork, a heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat. 19All winged insects are unclean to you—they are not to be eaten. 20You may eat any clean bird. 21You are not to eat anything that dies of itself. You may give it to the outsider within your gates so that he may eat it or you may sell it to a foreigner. For you are a holy people to Adonai your God. You are not to boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

Tithe and Remember the Levite

22“You will surely set aside a tenth of all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. 23You are to eat the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, before Adonai your God in the place He chooses to make His Name dwell, so that you may learn to fear Adonai your God always. 24Now suppose the way is too long for you, for you cannot carry the tithe because the place Adonai your God chooses to set His Name is too far from you. When Adonai your God blesses you, 25then you are to exchange the tithe for silver, bind up the silver in your hand, and go to the place that Adonai your God chooses. 26You may spend the money for whatever your soul desires—cattle, sheep, wine, strong drink, or whatever your soul asks of you. Then you will eat there before Adonai your God and rejoice—you and your household. 27But you are not to neglect the Levite within your gates, for he has no portion or inheritance with you. 28At the end of every three years, you are to bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year and store it within your gates. 29Then the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, along with the outsider, the orphan and the widow within your gates, will come and eat and be satisfied, so that Adonai your God may bless you in all the work of your hand that you do.

–from Deuteronomy 14

 

Shmittah: Cancellation of Debts

1“At the end of every seven years you are to cancel debts. 2This is how you are to cancel debts: every creditor is to release what he has loaned to his neighbor. He must not force his neighbor or his brother to repay, for Adonai’s debt cancellation has been proclaimed. 3A foreigner you may force, but your hand is to release whatever your brother owes you. 4“However, there should be no poor among you, for Adonai will surely bless you in the land Adonai your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess. 5If only you would carefully listen to the voice of Adonai your God, being careful to do all these mitzvah that I am commanding you today! 6For Adonai your God will bless you as He promised you. So you will lend to many nations, but not borrow; you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you. 7“If there is a poor man among you—any of your brothers within any of your gates in your land that Adonai your God is giving you—you are not to harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother. 8Rather, you must surely open your hand to him and you must surely lend him enough for his need—whatever he is lacking. 9Watch yourself, so there is no unworthy thing in your heart saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of cancelling debts, is near,’ and your eye is evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing. Then he may call out to Adonai against you, and it will be a sin upon you. 10You must surely give to him, and your heart is not to be grieved when you give to him—for because of this thing Adonai your God will bless you in all your work and in every undertaking of your hand. 11“For there will never cease to be poor people in the land. Therefore I am commanding you, saying, ‘You must surely open your hand to your brother—to your needy and poor in your land.’ 12“If your fellow Hebrew—a man or woman—is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you are to set him free. 13When you set him free, you are not to send him away empty-handed. 14You are to surely provide for him from your flock and threshing floor and winepress. As Adonai your God has blessed you, you are to give to him. 15You will remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Adonai your God redeemed you; therefore I am commanding you this thing today. 16“Now if he tells you, ‘I will not go away from you’—because he loves you and your household since he is well off with you— 17then you are to take an awl and put it through his ear to the door, and he will be your servant forever. And to your female slave you are to do the same. 18It should not seem hard to you when you set him free from you, for he has served you six years—double the value of a hired worker. So Adonai your God will bless you in all that you do. 19“All the firstborn males that are born in your herd and your flock you are to consecrate to Adonai your God. You are to do no work with the firstborn of your herd or shear the firstborn of your flock. 20You are to eat it before Adonai your God year after year in the place Adonai chooses—you and your household. 21But if it has any blemish—if it is lame or blind or has any serious blemish—you are not to sacrifice it to Adonai your God. 22You are to eat it within your gates, the unclean and the clean together, just as they eat the gazelle or deer. 23Only its blood you are not to eat—you must pour it out on the ground like water.

–from Deuternomy 15

 

Cry of Desperation

1A song, a psalm of the sons of Korah, for the music director, for singing Mahalath, a contemplative song of Heman the Ezrahite. 2Adonai, God of my salvation, day and night I cried out before You. 3Let my prayer come before You. Turn Your ear to my cry. 4For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. 5I am counted with those who go down into the Pit. I have become as one with no strength— 6abandoned among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom You remember no more— cut off from Your hand. 7You have laid me in the lowest places, in dark places, in the depths. 8Your wrath lies heavily on me. You afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah
9You have put my companions far from me. You have made me repulsive to them. I am shut in and I cannot go out. 10My eye fails from affliction. I call upon You every day, Adonai. I spread out my hands to You. 11Will You work wonders for the dead? Or will the departed spirits rise up praising You? Selah
12Will Your love be declared in the grave? Or Your faithfulness in the place of ruin? 13Will Your wonders be known in the darkness? Your righteousness in the land of oblivion? 14But I—I cried out to You, Adonai, and in the morning my prayer meets You. 15Adonai, why do You spurn me? Why do You hide Your face from me? 16From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death. I suffer Your terrors—I am desperate! 17Your fury has swept over me. Your terrors have cut me off. 18Like water they surge around me all day. They close in on me together. 19Friend and loved one You took far from me. Darkness has become my companion.

–from Psalms 88

 

Tearing Down Strongholds

1Now I, Paul, appeal myself to you by the meekness and gentleness of Messiah—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when far away. 2I beg of you that when I am present I won’t need to be bold with the courage I consider showing against some who judge us as walking in the flesh. 3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but powerful through God for the tearing down of strongholds. We are tearing down false arguments 5and every high-minded thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah— 6ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. 7Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident in himself that he belongs to Messiah, let him reconsider that just as he belongs to Messiah, so also do we. 8For even if I boast a little more about our authority—which the Lord gave for building you up and not for tearing you down—I will not be put to shame. 9Not that I would try to terrify you by my letters— 10for they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his presence in person is weak and his speech of no account.” 11Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word through letters when we are absent, we also are in action when we are present. 12For we do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they have no understanding. 13But we will not boast beyond limits, but within the limits of the area that God has assigned to us—to reach even as far as you. 14We are not extending ourselves too far, as if we did not reach you—for we did come even as far as to you with the Good News of Messiah. 15Neither are we boasting beyond limits based on the labors of others, but we have hope while your faith is growing for our area among you to be greatly enlarged— 16so that we may proclaim the Good News even to regions beyond you, not boasting about what has been accomplished in another’s area. 17But “let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 18For it Is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

–from 2 Corinthians 10

What the enemy planned for evil, God can turn around and use it for good.


Ever been in a situation where you have watched someone try to something bad to you? Ever been in a situation where people are scheming against you for their benefit? Ever been in a situation where people were trying to get others to do something to you in order that they would benefit?

Is there anything you can do about it? In some cases we are totally unaware of what is going on! We may realize after the fact that the situation was happening, but during the time we were probably totally unaware.

God’s Word speaks to such plans in the case of Joseph and his brothers. God’s Word in today’s reading show another such case where an attempt at a cursing is turned around into a blessing…

A Curse Turns to Blessings

1Then Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” 2So Balak did just as Balaam had said. Balak and Balaam offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 3Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering. I will go and perhaps Adonai will meet me. Whatever message He shows me, I will tell you. Then he went to a barren height. 4God met with Balaam and he said to Him, “I have prepared seven altars, and on each altar I offered a bull and a ram.” 5Adonai put a message into Balaam’s mouth and said, “Return to Balak and speak this.” 6Balaam went back to him. Behold, he was standing beside his offering with all the princes of Moab. 7Then he uttered his oracle and said, “From Aram, Balak brought me, Moab’s king from the mountains of the east: ‘Come! Curse Jacob for me! ‘Come! Denounce Israel!’ 8How can I curse one whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce one whom Adonai has not denounced? 9From the rocky peaks I see him. From the heights I behold him. Look, he lives as a nation apart, and does not consider himself as being like the other nations. 10Who can count Jacob’s dust? Who can number a fourth of Israel? Let my soul die the death of the upright, and let my end be like his!” 11Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but look, you’ve actually blessed them!” 12But in response he said, “Mustn’t I speak whatever Adonai puts into my mouth?”

13Then Balak said to him, “Come now with me to another place where you can see a part of them only, not all of them. Curse them for me from there.” 14He took him to Lookout Field on top of Pisgah. He built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 15“Stay here beside your offering,” he said to Balak, “while I am meeting over there.” 16Adonai met Balaam there and put a message into his mouth, and said, “Return to Balak and speak thus.” 17So he went to him, and behold, he and the princes of Moab were standing beside his offering. Balak asked him, “What did Adonai say?” 18So he uttered his oracle and said: “Rise, Balak! Hear me, son of Zippor! 19God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes his mind! Does He speak and then not do it, or promise and not fulfill it? 20Look, I received a command to bless. He has blessed—I cannot change it! 21No misfortune is to be seen in Jacob, and no misery in Israel! Adonai their God is with them —the King’s shout is among them! 22God is bringing them from Egypt with the strong horns of the wild ox! 23There is no sorcery effective against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel! Now it will be said of Jacob and Israel, ‘See what God has done!’ 24The people rise like a lioness, like a lion who does not rest until he eats his prey and drinks his victim’s blood!” 25Then Balak said to Balaam, “Do not curse them or bless them at all!” 26Balaam answered and said to Balak, “Haven’t I told you, ‘All that Adonai says, I must do?’

27Balak said to Balaam, “Come with me to another place. Perhaps it will be pleasing to God and you may curse them for me from there.” 28So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, overlooking the wasteland. 29Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” 30Balak did just as Balaam said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

–from Numbers 23

God is in control – is for your benefit! Only what He allows can happen which means that there is more to the story! When it happened to me the first time, I wasn’t prepared and so I allowed bitterness and unforgiveness to win for a very long time and it caused a downward spiral to happen to the point where God was able to get my attention and speak truth and life into me through the song 7×70 which broke through and I started to forgive and the weight was lifted and I was walking in the freedom of God again. The next time, I forgave them immediately and started to plan for how to make things better! God had another plan and blessed me greatly! We all get to choose! We may not get to choose what happens to us but we do get to choose how we will respond! So choose wisely as it can impact your life more than you can imagine!

How Lovely the Tents of Jacob

1When Balaam realized that it was pleasing in the eyes of Adonai to bless Israel, he did not resort to sorceries as at the other times, but turned his face toward the wilderness. 2Lifting up his eyes, Balaam saw Israel dwelling by tribes. The Ruach Elohim came over him. 3He uttered his oracle and said: “This is the oracle of Balaam son of Beor, and the oracle of a strong man whose eye has been opened, 4the oracle of one hearing God’s speech, one seeing Shaddai’s vision, one fallen down, yet with open eyes: 5How lovely are your tents, O Jacob, and your dwellings, O Israel! 6Like valleys they are spread out, like gardens beside a river, like aloes planted by Adonai, like cedars beside the waters. 7Water will flow from his buckets, his seed by abundant water. His king will be greater than Agag , his kingdom will be exalted. 8God is bringing him out of Egypt. like the strong horns of a wild ox. He devours nations hostile to him. He will crush their bones. His arrows will pierce them. 9He crouches like a lion or a lioness— who would rouse him? He who blesses you will be blessed, and he who curses you will be cursed.” 10Then Balak became furious at Balaam, and struck his hands together. Balak said to Balaam, “I summoned you to curse my enemies, but look, you have blessed them these three times! 11Now, go home! I said I would reward you, but see, Adonai has kept you from reward!” 12Balaam answered Balak, “Didn’t I indeed tell your messengers whom you sent to me saying: 13‘If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the mouth of Adonai, to do good or bad from my own heart? Whatever Adonai may speak, I will speak!’ 14Now, behold, I am going back to my people. Come, let me counsel you what these people will do to your people in the latter days. 15Then he uttered his oracle: The oracle of Balaam son of Beor, the strong man whose eye is opened, 16the oracle of one hearing God’s speech, one experiencing Elyon’s knowledge, one seeing Shaddai’s vision, one fallen down, yet with open eyes: 17‘I see him, yet not at this moment. I behold him, yet not in this location. For a star will come from Jacob, a scepter will arise from Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab and the skulls of all the sons of Seth. 18Edom will be conquered— his enemies will conquer Seir, but Israel will triumph. 19One from Jacob will rule and destroy the city’s survivors.” 20Then he saw Amalek, so he uttered his oracle and said: “Amalek was the first of nations, but will come to ruin at last.” 21Then he saw the Kenite, so he uttered his oracle and said, “Your dwelling is secure. Your nest is set in the rock. 22Yet Kain will be destroyed, when Asshur captures you.” 23Again he uttered his oracle and said, “O, who can live when God does this? 24Ships will come from Kittim’s shore. They will afflict Asshur and Eber, but they too will come to destruction.” 25Then Balaam got up and went and returned to his own place, and Balak went on his way.

–from Numbers 24

God’s got gifts for you! He’s got a plan and a purpose for you! So get prepared and be prepared to receive and respond to all He has for you! And use the gifts and talents He has given you for something even greater!

Spiritual Gifts for the Body

1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be ignorant. 2You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed by idols that cannot speak, and you got led astray. 3Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Ruach Elohim says, “Yeshua be cursed,” and no one can say, “Yeshua is Lord,” except by the Ruach ha-Kodesh. 4Now there are various kinds of gifts, but the same Ruach. 5There are various kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are various kinds of working, but the same God who works all things in all people. 7But to each person is given the manifestation of the Ruach for the benefit of all. 8For to one is given through the Ruach a word of wisdom, to another a word of knowledge according to the same Ruach, 9to another faith by the same Ruach, to another gifts of healings by the one Ruach, 10to another workings of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11But one and the same Ruach activates all these things, distributing to each person individually as He wills. 12For just as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of the body—though many—are one body, so also is Messiah. 13For in one Ruach we were all immersed into one body—whether Jewish or Greek, slave or free—and all were made to drink of one Ruach. 14For the body is not one part, but many. 15If the foot says, “Since I’m not a hand, I’m not part of the body,” is it therefore not part of the body? 16And if the ear says, “Since I’m not an eye, I’m not part of the body,” is it for this reason any less part of the body? 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18But now God has placed the parts—each one of them—in the body just as He desired. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20But now there are many parts, yet one body. 21The eye cannot tell the hand, “I don’t need you!” or in turn the head to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be less important are indispensable. 23Those parts of the body that we think to be less honorable, we clothe with greater honor; and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty; 24but our presentable parts have no such need. Rather God assembled the body, giving more honor to those who are lacking, 25so that there may be no division in the body, but so that the parts may have the same care for one another. 26If one part suffers, all the parts suffer together. If one part is honored, all the parts rejoice together. 27Now you are the body of Messiah, and members individually. 28God has put into His community first emissaries, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then healings, helps, leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29All are not emissaries, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All do not work miracles, do they? 30All do not have gifts of healing, do they? All do not speak in tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? 31But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And still I show you a far better way:

–from 1 Corinthians 12

We all have a part! We all need to do our part! We need one another! So don’t opt out of being everything God has created you to be! Not everyone will received us, but not everyone received Jesus too! So let’s just do what God puts in our hands to do in order to bring  Him the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name!

Responding to Rejection

1Now Yeshua went out from there, and He comes to His hometown, and His disciples follow Him. 2When Shabbat came, He began to teach in the synagogue. Many listeners were amazed, saying, “Where did this fellow get these things? What’s this wisdom given to Him? Such miracles are done by His hands! 3Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Miriam, and the brother of Jacob and Joseph and Judah and Simon? Aren’t His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. 4Then Yeshua began saying to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own house.” 5He was not able to do any miracle, except that He laid hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6And He was astonished because of their unbelief. And He was going around among the villages teaching. 7Yeshua summoned the Twelve, and He began to send them out two by two. And He gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8He directed them to take nothing for the journey except a walking stick—no bread, no bag, no copper coin in their belt— 9but to wear sandals and not to put on two shirts. 10He was also telling them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that place. 11And whatever place will not receive you or listen to you, as you leave from there, shake the dust off the bottom of your feet as a witness against them.” 12So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent, 13and they were driving out many demons and anointing with oil many who were sick and healing them. 14King Herod heard, for Yeshua’s name had become known. Some were saying, “John the Immerser has risen from the dead! Because of this, these powers are at work in Him!” 15But others were saying, “It’s Elijah!” Still others were saying, “It’s a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16But when Herod heard, he said, “John, the one I beheaded, has been raised!” 17For Herod himself sent and arrested John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because Herod had married her. 18For John had been telling Herod, “It is not permitted for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19Now Herodias had a grudge against John and wanted to kill him, but she wasn’t able. 20For Herod was in awe of John and kept him safe, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When he listened to John he was confused, but he still listened gladly. 21An opportunity came—when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his high officials, military brass, and the leaders of the Galilee. 22When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and those reclining with him. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you!” 23He vowed to her, “Whatever you ask of me I’ll give you, up to half of my kingdom!” 24She left the room and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” Her mother said, “The head of John the Immerser!” 25Immediately she rushed to the king and requested, “I want you to give me, right now, the head of John the Immerser on a platter!” 26The king became very sorrowful; but because of his oaths and those reclining with him, he didn’t want to refuse her. 27Immediately the king sent an executioner and gave orders to bring John’s head. And the executioner went out and beheaded John in the prison, 28brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29When John’s disciples heard, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Feeding 5000 Families

30The twelve emissaries gathered together with Yeshua, and they reported to Him all they had done and taught. 31There were many coming and going, and they had no time even to eat. So He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to an isolated place and rest awhile.” 32So they left privately by boat to an isolated place. 33However, the people saw them leaving, and many recognized them. They ran on foot from all the towns to get there ahead of them. 34As Yeshua came ashore, He saw a large crowd and felt compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He taught them many things. 35When it was already late, His disciples came to Him and said, “This place is isolated, and the hour is already late. 36Send these people away so they can go into the nearby countryside and the villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said to Him, “Should we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread to give them something to eat?” 38Then He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39Then Yeshua made them all sit down in groups on the green grass. 40So they reclined in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41And He took the five loaves and the two fish; and looking up to heaven, He offered the bracha. He broke the loaves and kept giving them to the disciples to serve to the people; and He divided the two fish among them all. 42They all ate and were satisfied, 43and the disciples picked up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and fish. 44Now there were five thousand men who ate the loaves.

Walking on Water

45Right away, Yeshua made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away. 46After leaving them, He went up on the hillside to pray. 47And when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea and He was alone on the land. 48He saw the disciples struggling to row, for the wind was against them. Around the fourth watch in the night, Yeshua comes to them, walking on the sea; and He wanted to pass by them. 49But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they thought He was a ghost and cried out— 50for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately, He spoke to them. He said, “Take courage! I am. Do not be afraid.” 51Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped. They were utterly dumbfounded, 52for they still hadn’t understood about the loaves. Instead, their hearts were hardened.

Miracles Multiply

53After they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and set anchor there. 54As they got out of the boat, immediately people recognized Yeshua. 55They ran about the region and began to carry around on their mats all those who were in bad shape, to wherever they heard He was. 56And wherever He entered villages, towns, or countryside, people were placing the sick in the marketplaces and begging Him to let them touch even the tzitzit of His garment—and all who touched it were being healed.

–from Mark 6

Passion (Day #7)


Ever done something you regretted? Ever done something bigger than you? Ever done something so selfless for the benefit of others? Ever been misjudged? Ever been condemned or convicted or judged inappropriately? Ever mocked someone? Ever been mocked? Ever put the needs of others above your own?

In today’s reading we see many of these questions played out. The one thing that we need to make sure to remember is that forgiveness is the key! We need to be able to give it all over to Jesus to take care of! Be it something we did wrong – we need to ask for forgiveness (our part) and then give it up to Jesus to work out the rest of the story! Be it something someone else did to us – we need to forgive them (our part) and then give it up to Jesus to work it out the rest of the story! If we don’t we can become bitter or depressed or worse! We need to remember and do our part in alignment to God’s plans and purposes! Forgiveness is the key! I have gone it both ways – delaying the forgiveness and forgiving immediately and going the immediate route was so much better for me and all those around me. There is a purpose to the adversity! There was purpose in Jesus going to the cross! There was purpose in what you were going through and what you are still going through! So sync up with God and complete the work that you have been given and called to. Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, Jesus too the crimson stain and washed it white as snow! We don’t have to allow life to get us down! We don’t have to allow life to tear us apart! Life isn’t falling apart…it’s falling into place when we walk through it with God! It isn’t always easy which is why Jesus had told us that in this life we will have troubles, not might, but “will” but He also tells us to have hope because He has overcome the world! So let’s be overcomers! Let’s consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds!

So let’s go about it God’s Way!

Today is Easter and so I will be including Matthew 27 and 28 in today’s reading…

Judah’s Remorse

1When daybreak came, the ruling kohanim and elders of the people conspired against Yeshua to put Him to death. 2And they tied Him up, led Him away, and handed Him over to Pilate, the governor. 3Then Judah, His betrayer, saw that Yeshua had been condemned. Feeling remorse, he brought the thirty silver pieces back to the ruling kohanim and elders, 4saying, “I’ve sinned, betraying innocent blood!” But they said, “What’s that to us? You see to it yourself!” 5After tossing the silver into the Temple sanctuary, he left. Then he went off and hanged himself. 6But the ruling kohanim took the silver pieces and said, “It is not permitted to put these in the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7So after they conferred, they bought with them the potter’s field, as a cemetery for strangers. 8For this reason that field has been called the “Field of Blood” to this day. 9Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty silver pieces, the price of Him on whom a price had been set by Bnei-Yisrael; 10and they gave them for the potter’s field, just as Adonai arranged for me.”

“Kill the King!”

11Now Yeshua stood before the governor. The governor questioned Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” “You say so,” Yeshua said. 12And while He was accused by the ruling kohanim and elders, He did not answer. 13Then Pilate said to Him, “Don’t You hear how many things they testify against you?” 14Yeshua did not answer, not even one word, so the governor was greatly amazed. 15Now during the feast, the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd one prisoner, anyone they wanted. 16At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Yeshua Bar-Abba. 17So when they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Which one do you want me to release for you? Yeshua who is Bar-Abba, or Yeshua who is called Messiah?” 18For he knew that they had handed Him over out of envy. 19While Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Don’t have anything to do with that righteous Man, for today I’ve suffered many things in a dream because of Him.” 20Now the ruling kohanim and elders persuaded the crowds that they should ask for Bar-Abba and destroy Yeshua. 21But the governor responded, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Bar-Abba!” 22Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Yeshua, who is called Messiah?” “Execute Him!” all of them say. 23But Pilate said, “Why? What evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Let Him be executed!” 24When Pilate saw he was accomplishing nothing, but instead a riot was starting, he took some water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this blood,” he said. “You see to it yourselves!” 25All the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26Then he released to them Bar-Abba. And after he had Yeshua scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

Nailed to a Stake

27Then the governor’s soldiers took Yeshua into the Praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around Him. 28They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe around Him. 29And after braiding a crown of thorns, they placed it on His head and put a staff in His right hand. And falling on their knees before Him, they mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30They spat on Him, and they took the staff and beat Him over and over on the head. 31When they finished mocking Him, they stripped the robe off Him and put His own clothes back on Him. And they led Him away to crucify Him. 32As they came out, they found a man from Cyrene, Simon by name. They forced him into service, to carry Yeshua’s cross-beam. 33And when they came to a place called Golgotha (that is to say, Place of a Skull), 34they offered Him wine mixed with gall to drink; but after tasting, He was unwilling to drink it. 35And when they had crucified Him, they divided His clothing among themselves by casting lots. 36And they sat down and kept guard over Him there. 37Over His head they put the charge against Him, which read: “THIS IS YESHUA, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 38Then two outlaws were executed with Him, one on the right and one on the left. 39Those passing by were jeering at Him, shaking their heads 40and saying, “You who are going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If you are Ben-Elohim, come down from the stake!” 41Likewise the ruling kohanim, along with the Torah scholars and elders, were also mocking Him. 42“He saved others,” they were saying, “but He can’t save Himself? He’s the King of Israel! Let Him come down now from the stake, and we’ll believe in Him! 43He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He wants Him. For He said, ‘I am Ben-Elohim.’” 44Even the outlaws who were executed with Him were ridiculing Him in the same way.

Yeshua Lays Down His Life

45Now from the sixth hour, darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 46About the ninth hour Yeshua cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” 47When some of those standing there heard it, they began saying, “This Man is calling for Elijah.” 48Right away one of them ran and took a sponge. He filled it with sour wine and put it on a stick, and was offering it to Yeshua to drink. 49But the rest were saying, “Leave Him alone! Let’s see if Elijah comes to save Him.” 50And Yeshua cried out again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. 51And behold, the curtain of the Temple was split in two, from top to bottom. And the earth quaked and rocks were split apart. 52And the tombs were opened, and many bodies of the kedoshim who were sleeping were raised to life. 53And coming forth out of the tombs after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54Now the centurion, and those with him keeping guard over Yeshua, when they saw the earthquake and what was happening, they became terribly frightened and said, “This really was the Son of God!”

The Tomb Is Sealed

55Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Yeshua from the Galilee, serving Him. 56Among them were Miriam from Magdala, Miriam the mother of Jacob and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. 57Now when it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had also become a disciple of Yeshua. 58This man went to Pilate and asked for Yeshua’s body. Then Pilate ordered it to be given up. 59And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. 60And he laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. Then he rolled a large stone up to the door of the tomb and went away. 61Now Miriam from Magdala was there, and the other Miriam, sitting opposite the tomb.

Guarding the Tomb

62Now on the next day, which is after the preparation, the ruling kohanim and Pharisees were gathered before Pilate. 63“Sir,” they said, “we remember how that deceiver said while He was still alive, ‘After three days I’m to be raised.’ 64Therefore, order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, so His disciples do not come and steal Him away. They will tell the people, ‘He is risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first!” 65“You have a guard,” Pilate said to them. “Go, make it as secure as you know how.” 66So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone along with the soldiers of the guard.
–from Matthew 27
So let’s celebrate today and continue in our reading into Matthew 28
Happy Easter - The Tomb is Empty

The Son Is Risen!

1Now after Shabbat, as it began to dawn on the first day of the week, Miriam of Magdala and the other Miriam came to look at the tomb. 2And suddenly there was a great earthquake, for an angel of Adonai descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4And those keeping watch were shaken for fear of him and became like dead men. 5But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know you are looking for Yeshua who was crucified. 6He is not here; for He is risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7Go quickly now and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead. And behold, He’s going before you to the Galilee. There you will see Him. See, I have told you!” 8They quickly left the tomb, with fear yet with great joy, and ran to bring news to His disciples.

The Good News Cannot Be Hidden

9And behold, Yeshua met them. “Shalom!” He said. They drew near, grasped his feet, and worshiped Him. 10“Don’t be afraid,” Yeshua said to them. “Go tell My brothers to head for the Galilee, and there they will see Me.” 11Now while they were going, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the ruling kohanim all that had happened. 12And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of silver to the soldiers, 13saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we were sleeping.’ 14And if this is heard by the governor, we’ll appease him and keep you out of trouble.” 15So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story was spread among the Judeans to this day.

Authority to Make Disciples Everywhere

16Now the eleven disciples went to the Galilee, to the mountain Yeshua had designated. 17When they saw Him, they worshiped; but some wavered. 18And Yeshua came up to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Ruach ha-Kodesh, 20teaching them to observe all I have commanded you. And remember! I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
–from Matthew 28

What will you do? What did you do?


Do you know where to turn? Do you know where to go? Do you have questions? Are you looking for answers? Are you asking? Are you seeking? Are you knocking?

Today’s reading brings me back to a time where I faced challenges.  The first time I had to learn the power of forgiveness, the second time I applied it. Both times required me knowing where to turn! I raised questions like “How is your work going?” and “Ever heard birds of a feather flock together? Be careful who you are hanging out with because you may become like them–so choose the circle of influence around you wisely.

It was a hard time – a time of anger and frustration, a time of bitterness and pain, a time of trying to deal with lies, theft, cheated, broken promises, being setup, and misdirection. Unfortunately it took a lot of time spiraling down before the aha moment. Unfortunately it built up a lot of bitterness and resentment. Unfortunately it impacted not just me, but those I love too who were there to help try to encourage and support me.

The second time even though it was or could of been considered worse, I was prepared, I had learned the lesson, and I knew what to do. Turn to God! FORGIVE!

Today’s reading gives this wisdom:

6 In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

–from Psalm 18

So where will you turn? Through my trials I called to God, and my challenge the first time was that I wasn’t listening and wasn’t forgiving and was just letting the bitter root get a stronger hold! It took hitting rock bottom for me to start looking up and taking it seriously! Even in the second occurrence where I remembered the forgiveness that was required in the moment, I still turned to God because I knew I needed more than just what I could do to get through the process and to shine His light into the world around me. Will you be an ambassador of forgiveness? Will you be an ambassador of reconciliation?

Today is day 1 of a new devotional as I continue to work through devotionals about work. It’s called Why Did I Lose My Job If God Loves Me?

Today’s message from the devotional goes like this…

This is for my good?

“It just can’t get any worse.”

How many times have you caught yourself saying this during your career transition? For me, it has been more times than I care to admit. And if I’m completely candid, my very next line is usually, “How much more, Lord? How much longer must I wait for a breakthrough?”

I often wonder why the Lord doesn’t just reveal to me exactly where he wants me to be. He has the power to do anything and everything, right? So why can’t he just show me? Maybe the reason for this mystery is so that we will turn to him. After all, what do we need the Lord for if we already know what will happen?

I, for one, find myself neglecting my Bible reading and prayer time when my career journey is humming along on all cylinders. I simply don’t spend time with the Lord every day as I should. When things are hitting bottom, however, I guarantee that I will seek the Lord’s presence. Now the reason I seek God might be to blame him for my circumstances. I might cry out, “If you love me, why did I lose my job?” or “How much longer must I wait until I can provide for my family again?”

To be honest, my comments often are not civil in tone. But guess what? God is not fragile. God will not run from the room with his hands covering his ears so that he doesn’t have to listen to me as I vent my frustrations and disappointments.

Do you know what’s great about all of this?

God already knows what you and I are feeling! The Lord knows me better than I know myself. He knew, before I was even conceived, that this painful season of my life was going to take place; he knew exactly what was going to happen to me and exactly how I was going to react. He also knew that unless I fell upon the worst of circumstances I would not grow closer to him.

Let me put it to you this way. Have you noticed the times when you are closest to the Lord? Isn’t it when all else has failed and you are driven to cry out to your loving heavenly Father? Now imagine if those tough times had not occurred.

–from Why Did I Lose My Job If God Loves Me?

 

 

 

 

 


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Consider what you are going through…Are you feeling peace?


Are you feeling peace or are you stressed? Are you feeling peace or are you anxious? Are you feeling peace or are you afraid? Are you feeling peace or are you tired? Are you feeling peace or are you confused? Are you feeling peace or …

There is hope! There is an opportunity and an option! His name is Jesus!

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

(Matthew 28.16-20; Mark 16.14-18; Luke 24.36-49)

19It was late that Sunday evening, and the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors, because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities. Then Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 20After saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you.” 22Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.

–from John 20

Forgiveness is the key! Without forgiveness, bitterness and anger build up! Without forgiveness, you start feeling the acids eating away at your stomach from the inside out! Without forgiveness, you are acting like someone who is taking poison and expecting the other person to die! Forgiveness is the key to real freedom! We need to forgive others! We need to also turn back to God and ask Jesus into our hearts and ask for Him to forgive us! Do you realize that Unforgiveness isn’t a word? Forgiveness is the key to eternity! Forgiveness is what opens the door to spending eternity with God! Where do you want to spend your life after this one? Jesus is the one who can help make sure you are reconciled and forgiven! Not because we are good enough, but because He gave it all! Peace is what God provides you in and through the storms of life! We don’t have to be removed from them, He can grant us peace within the challenges and struggles of life! There is hope! And God waits for you to turn back to Him and receive Jesus into your heart so that you can be reconciled and reunited! Even in the book of Revelation – which reveals Jesus – there is chance after chance after chance for people to turn back. Unfortunately, with every progressive even from the Seals to the Trumpets to the Bowls, the pain and suffering just like in child birth pains they get more intense and more frequent. Take time to make your decision now before it is too late! If you haven’t made a decision and you are still alive, today could be your day! We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, so why not today?

1After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a large crowd of people in heaven, saying, “Praise God! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God! 2True and just are his judgments! He has condemned the prostitute who was corrupting the earth with her immorality. God has punished her because she killed his servants.” 3Again they shouted, “Praise God! The smoke from the flames that consume the great city goes up forever and ever!” 4The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. They said, “Amen! Praise God!”

The Wedding Feast of the Lamb

5Then there came from the throne the sound of a voice, saying, “Praise our God, all his servants and all people, both great and small, who have reverence for him!” 6Then I heard what sounded like a crowd, like the sound of a roaring waterfall, like loud peals of thunder. I heard them say, “Praise God! For the Lord, our Almighty God, is King! 7Let us rejoice and be glad; let us praise his greatness! For the time has come for the wedding of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself for it. 8She has been given clean shining linen to wear.” (The linen is the good deeds of God’s people.) 9Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Happy are those who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And the angel added, “These are the true words of God.” 10I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “Don’t do it! I am a servant together with you and with other believers, all those who hold to the truth that Jesus revealed. Worship God!” For the truth that Jesus revealed is what inspires the prophets.

The Rider on the White Horse

11Then I saw heaven open, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True; it is with justice that he judges and fights his battles. 12His eyes were like a flame of fire, and he wore many crowns on his head. He had a name written on him, but no one except himself knows what it is. 13The robe he wore was covered with blood. His name is “The Word of God.” 14The armies of heaven followed him, riding on white horses and dressed in clean white linen. 15Out of his mouth came a sharp sword, with which he will defeat the nations. He will rule over them with a rod of iron, and he will trample out the wine in the wine press of the furious anger of the Almighty God. 16On his robe and on his thigh was written the name: “King of kings and Lord of lords.” 17Then I saw an angel standing on the sun. He shouted in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair: “Come and gather together for God’s great feast! 18Come and eat the flesh of kings, generals, and soldiers, the flesh of horses and their riders, the flesh of all people, slave and free, great and small!”
19Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered to fight against the one who was riding the horse and against his army. 20The beast was taken prisoner, together with the false prophet who had performed miracles in his presence. (It was by those miracles that he had deceived those who had the mark of the beast and those who had worshiped the image of the beast.) The beast and the false prophet were both thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21Their armies were killed by the sword that comes out of the mouth of the one who was riding the horse; and all the birds ate all they could of their flesh.

–from Revelation 19

Will you receive God at His Word? Will you receive the love and hope that comes through a relationship with Jesus? Will you trust in God knowing that in this life we will face struggles and challenges of many kinds, but that we can have hope because Jesus has already overcome the world? Will you consider it pure joy when you face challenges and struggles of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance? Will you consider it pure joy because you know that this endurance that you build up will make it so that you will end in a spot where you are mature, complete, and lacking nothing? This is the day that the Lord has made, let’s rejoice and be glad in it!

God’s plan is for good!

1-2Job, you challenged Almighty God; will you give up now, or will you answer?

Job

3-4I spoke foolishly, Lord. What can I answer? I will not try to say anything else. 5I have already said more than I should. 6Then out of the storm the Lord spoke to Job once again.

The Lord

7Now stand up straight and answer my questions. 8Are you trying to prove that I am unjust—to put me in the wrong and yourself in the right? 9Are you as strong as I am? Can your voice thunder as loud as mine? 10If so, stand up in your honor and pride; clothe yourself with majesty and glory. 11Look at those who are proud; pour out your anger and humble them. 12Yes, look at them and bring them down; crush the wicked where they stand. 13Bury them all in the ground; bind them in the world of the dead. 14Then I will be the first to praise you and admit that you won the victory yourself. 15Look at the monster Behemoth; I created him and I created you. He eats grass like a cow, 16but what strength there is in his body, and what power there is in his muscles! 17His tail stands up like a cedar, and the muscles in his legs are strong. 18His bones are as strong as bronze, and his legs are like iron bars. 19The most amazing of all my creatures! Only his Creator can defeat him. 20Grass to feed him grows on the hills where wild beasts play. 21He lies down under the thorn bushes, and hides among the reeds in the swamp. 22The thorn bushes and the willows by the stream give him shelter in their shade. 23He is not afraid of a rushing river; he is calm when the Jordan dashes in his face. 24Who can blind his eyes and capture him? Or who can catch his snout in a trap?

–from Job 40

So will you turn back to God? Will today be your day? Will you choose to follow Him before it is too late?

The Lord Calls His People to Return to Him

1In the eighth month of the second year that Darius was emperor of Persia, the Lord gave this message to the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah and grandson of Iddo. 2The Lord Almighty told Zechariah to say to the people, “I, the Lord, was very angry with your ancestors, 3but now I say to you, ‘Return to me, and I will return to you. 4Do not be like your ancestors. Long ago the prophets gave them my message, telling them not to live evil, sinful lives any longer. But they would not listen to me or obey me. 5Your ancestors and those prophets are no longer alive. 6Through my servants the prophets I gave your ancestors commands and warnings, but they disregarded them and suffered the consequences. Then they repented and acknowledged that I, the Lord Almighty, had punished them as they deserved and as I had determined to do.’”

The Prophet’s Vision of the Horses

7In the second year that Darius was emperor, on the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month (the month of Shebat), the Lord gave me a message in a vision at night. 8I saw someone riding a red horse. He had stopped among some myrtle trees in a valley, and behind him were other horses—red, dappled, and white. 9I asked him, “Sir, what do these horses mean?” He answered, “I will show you what they mean. 10The Lord sent them to go and inspect the earth.” 11They reported to the angel: “We have been all over the world and have found that the whole world lies helpless and subdued.” 12Then the angel said, “Almighty Lord, you have been angry with Jerusalem and the cities of Judah for seventy years now. How much longer will it be before you show them mercy?” 13The Lord answered the angel with comforting words, 14and the angel told me to proclaim what the Lord Almighty had said: “I have a deep love and concern for Jerusalem, my holy city, 15and I am very angry with the nations that enjoy quiet and peace. For while I was holding back my anger against my people, those nations made the sufferings of my people worse. 16So I have come back to Jerusalem to show mercy to the city. My Temple will be restored, and the city will be rebuilt.” 17The angel also told me to proclaim: “The Lord Almighty says that his cities will be prosperous again and that he will once again help Jerusalem and claim the city as his own.”

The Vision of the Horns

18In another vision I saw four ox horns. 19I asked the angel that had been speaking to me, “What do these horns mean?” He answered, “They stand for the world powers that have scattered the people of Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” 20Then the Lord showed me four workers with hammers. 21I asked, “What have they come to do?” He answered, “They have come to terrify and overthrow the nations that completely crushed the land of Judah and scattered its people.”

–from Zechariah 1

The Vision of the Measuring Line

1In another vision I saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2“Where are you going?” I asked. “To measure Jerusalem,” he answered, “to see how long and how wide it is.” 3Then I saw the angel who had been speaking to me step forward, and another angel came to meet him. 4The first one said to the other, “Run and tell that young man with the measuring line that there are going to be so many people and so much livestock in Jerusalem that it will be too big to have walls. 5The Lord has promised that he himself will be a wall of fire around the city to protect it and that he will live there in all his glory.”

The Exiles Are Called to Come Home

6-7The Lord said to his people, “I scattered you in all directions. But now, you exiles, escape from Babylonia and return to Jerusalem. 8Anyone who strikes you strikes what is most precious to me.” So the Lord Almighty sent me with this message for the nations that had plundered his people: 9“The Lord himself will fight against you, and you will be plundered by the people who were once your servants.” When this happens, everyone will know that the Lord Almighty sent me. 10The Lord said, “Sing for joy, people of Jerusalem! I am coming to live among you!” 11At that time many nations will come to the Lord and become his people. He will live among you, and you will know that he has sent me to you. 12Once again Judah will be the special possession of the Lord in his sacred land, and Jerusalem will be the city he loves most of all. 13Be silent, everyone, in the presence of the Lord, for he is coming from his holy dwelling place.

–from Zechariah 2

The Prophet’s Vision of the High Priest

1In another vision the Lord showed me the High Priest Joshua standing before the angel of the Lord. And there beside Joshua stood Satan, ready to bring an accusation against him. 2The angel of the Lord said to Satan, “May the Lord condemn you, Satan! May the Lord, who loves Jerusalem, condemn you. This man is like a stick snatched from the fire.” 3Joshua was standing there, wearing filthy clothes. 4The angel said to his heavenly attendants, “Take away the filthy clothes this man is wearing.” Then he said to Joshua, “I have taken away your sin and will give you new clothes to wear.” 5He commanded the attendants to put a clean turban on Joshua’s head. They did so, and then they put the new clothes on him while the angel of the Lord stood there. 6Then the angel told Joshua that 7the Lord Almighty had said: “If you obey my laws and perform the duties I have assigned you, then you will continue to be in charge of my Temple and its courts, and I will hear your prayers, just as I hear the prayers of the angels who are in my presence. 8Listen then, Joshua, you who are the High Priest; and listen, you fellow priests of his, you that are the sign of a good future: I will reveal my servant, who is called The Branch! 9I am placing in front of Joshua a single stone with seven facets. I will engrave an inscription on it, and in a single day I will take away the sin of this land. 10When that day comes, each of you will invite your neighbor to come and enjoy peace and security, surrounded by your vineyards and fig trees.”

–from Zechariah 3

The Vision of the Lampstand

1 AND THE angel who talked with me came again and awakened me, like a man who is wakened out of his sleep. 2 And said to me, What do you see? I said, I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with its bowl [for oil] on the top of it and its seven lamps on it, and [there are] seven pipes to each of the seven lamps which are upon the top of it. [Matt. 5:14, 16; Luke 12:35; Phil. 2:15; Rev. 1:20.] 3 And there are two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl and the other upon the left side of it [feeding it continuously with oil]. [Rev. 11:4-13.] 4 So I asked the angel who talked with me, What are these, my lord? 5 Then the angel who talked with me answered me, Do you not know what these are? And I said, No, my lord. 6 Then he said to me, This [addition of the bowl to the candlestick, causing it to yield a ceaseless supply of oil from the olive trees] is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit [of Whom the oil is a symbol], says the Lord of hosts. 7 For who are you, O great mountain [of human obstacles]? Before Zerubbabel [who with Joshua had led the return of the exiles from Babylon and was undertaking the rebuilding of the temple, before him] you shall become a plain [a mere molehill]! And he shall bring forth the finishing gable stone [of the new temple] with loud shoutings of the people, crying, Grace, grace to it! [Ezra 4:1-5, 24; Isa. 40:4.] 8 Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundations of this house; his hands shall also finish it. Then you shall know (recognize and understand) that the Lord of hosts has sent me [His messenger] to you. 10 Who [with reason] despises the day of small things? For these seven shall rejoice when they see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel. [These seven] are the eyes of the Lord which run to and fro throughout the whole earth. [Rev. 5:6.] 11 Then I said to him [the angel who talked with me], What are these two olive trees on the right side of the lampstand and on the left side of it? 12 And a second time I said to him, What are these two olive branches which are beside the two golden tubes or  spouts by which the golden oil is emptied out? 13 And he answered me, Do you not know what these are? And I said, No, my lord. 14 Then said he, These are the two sons of oil [Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the prince of Judah, the two anointed ones] who stand before the Lord of the whole earth [as His anointed instruments]. [Rev. 11:4.]

–from Zechariah 4 (AMP – Amplified Bible)

The Vision of the Flying Scroll

1I looked again, and this time I saw a scroll flying through the air. 2The angel asked me what I saw. I answered, “A scroll flying through the air; it is thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide.” 3Then he said to me, “On it is written the curse that is to go out over the whole land. On one side of the scroll it says that every thief will be removed from the land; and on the other side it says that everyone who tells lies under oath will also be taken away. 4The Lord Almighty says that he will send this curse out, and it will enter the house of every thief and the house of everyone who tells lies under oath. It will remain in their houses and leave them in ruins.”

The Vision of the Woman in the Basket

5The angel appeared again and said, “Look! Something else is coming!” 6“What is it?” I asked. He replied, “It is a basket, and it stands for the sin of the whole land.” 7The basket had a lid made of lead. As I watched, the lid was raised, and there in the basket sat a woman! 8The angel said, “This represents wickedness.” Then he pushed her down into the basket and put the lid back down. 9I looked up and saw two women flying toward me with powerful wings like those of a stork. They picked up the basket and flew off with it. 10I asked the angel, “Where are they taking it?” 11He answered, “To Babylonia, where they will build a temple for it. When the temple is finished, the basket will be placed there to be worshiped.”

–from Zechariah 5

Do you really want to be free?


Feeling tied down? Feeling chained up? Feeling held back? Looking for real freedom?

Are you holding onto anger? Are you holding onto bitterness? Are you holding onto resentment? Forgiveness is the key to freedom!

There is only one source of freedom and it is Jesus! Jesus is the answer for what people are looking for and asking about! Today’s reading brings us back to “who the son sets free is free indeed“, without truth (yes there is right and wrong, there is true and false, there is a line) you won’t know what’s real and how to live. Let’s check it out…

The Truth Will Set You Free

31So Jesus said to those who believed in him, “If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples; 32you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33“We are the descendants of Abraham,” they answered, “and we have never been anybody’s slaves. What do you mean, then, by saying, ‘You will be free’?” 34Jesus said to them, “I am telling you the truth: everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35A slave does not belong to a family permanently, but a son belongs there forever. 36If the Son sets you free, then you will be really free. 37I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are trying to kill me, because you will not accept my teaching. 38I talk about what my Father has shown me, but you do what your father has told you.” 39They answered him, “Our father is Abraham.” “If you really were Abraham’s children,” Jesus replied, “you would do the same things that he did. 40All I have ever done is to tell you the truth I heard from God, yet you are trying to kill me. Abraham did nothing like this! 41You are doing what your father did.” “God himself is the only Father we have,” they answered, “and we are his true children.” 42Jesus said to them, “If God really were your Father, you would love me, because I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own authority, but he sent me. 43Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to listen to my message. 44You are the children of your father, the Devil, and you want to follow your father’s desires. From the very beginning he was a murderer and has never been on the side of truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he is only doing what is natural to him, because he is a liar and the father of all lies. 45But I tell the truth, and that is why you do not believe me. 46Which one of you can prove that I am guilty of sin? If I tell the truth, then why do you not believe me? 47He who comes from God listens to God’s words. You, however, are not from God, and that is why you will not listen.”

–from John 8

Do you realize the forgiveness provided to us through Jesus? Do you realize the opportunity He provides us? Do you realize that the truth will set you free? We don’t have be tormented or held back from stepping into the light because of the lies of the devil but because of the truth and the hope of Jesus that is revealed to us. What is in the dark will one day be brought out into the light. You can either confess and give it up to God and turn from it, or deal with it when it gets brought out into the light! Dealing with it with God is the better option, sure it may be painful, but it will get rid of that root or foothold the devil is trying to use to manipulate and torment you.

Jesus came and gave His all so that we can be reconciled back to God! He took things into His own hands so that once and for all the power of sin and death would no longer have power. So grab a hold of that truth! Ask Him into your heart! Allow Him to lead you and guide you daily! It’s not about rituals and routines, its about building up a real relationship with Him! He loves you and cares about you! Talk to Him throughout the day! Talk to Him with your mind when you are facing tough decisions! Talk to Him when you are facing a need … BIG or small. If it is important to you then it is important to Him! Don’t worry about it, talk to Him! Worry changes nothing! Prayer changes everything! Prayer = talking with God! And take hope, not only did He provide the door so we can live in freedom, He is coming back…

The Promise of the Lord’s Coming

1My dear friends, this is now the second letter I have written you. In both letters I have tried to arouse pure thoughts in your minds by reminding you of these things. 2I want you to remember the words that were spoken long ago by the holy prophets, and the command from the Lord and Savior which was given you by your apostles. 3First of all, you must understand that in the last days some people will appear whose lives are controlled by their own lusts. They will make fun of you 4and will ask, “He promised to come, didn’t he? Where is he? Our ancestors have already died, but everything is still the same as it was since the creation of the world!” 5They purposely ignore the fact that long ago God gave a command, and the heavens and earth were created. The earth was formed out of water and by water, 6and it was also by water, the water of the flood, that the old world was destroyed. 7But the heavens and the earth that now exist are being preserved by the same command of God, in order to be destroyed by fire. They are being kept for the day when godless people will be judged and destroyed. 8But do not forget one thing, my dear friends! There is no difference in the Lord’s sight between one day and a thousand years; to him the two are the same. 9The Lord is not slow to do what he has promised, as some think. Instead, he is patient with you, because he does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants all to turn away from their sins.

–from 2 Peter 3

Ever heard or seen people mock Christians? Ever heard or seen people make fun of the hope that is within us? Hurting people hurt people! It’s not a surprise! God is patient for His desire is that nobody should perish! We even see how His plan is that everyone would turn back to Him and not be destroyed, but rather spend eternity with Him not apart from Him.

Another translation of 2 Peter 3:9 says it this way:

9The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

We also see from the Bible, God’s Word why Jesus came in John 3:

16For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its savior. 18Those who believe in the Son are not judged; but those who do not believe have already been judged, because they have not believed in God’s only Son. 19This is how the judgment works: the light has come into the world, but people love the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds are evil. 20Those who do evil things hate the light and will not come to the light, because they do not want their evil deeds to be shown up. 21But those who do what is true come to the light in order that the light may show that what they did was in obedience to God.

So rather than spending eternity condemned. So rather than spending our lives in fear and doubt and worry. Let’s receive Jesus for as we read in Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Let’s receive the gift! Everyone likes presents right? It’s a gift for now! It’s a gift forever!

You don’t get it? Why is … happening to you? Take to God! Ask Him for wisdom! Ask Him for vision! Ask Him to help you! We read how we are to consider it pure joy when we face trials of any kind because of the work it does in us to help us become complete and lacking nothing! Look at Job, it is ok to ask … God’s Word is God’s Word and He is good for it. Whenever I get to the book of Job I get this “oh oh” feeling, but then I reflect on the time when I learned forgiveness and how it allowed me to not take a hold of bitter roots or anger or frustration and could just forgive. I reflect on how on my last day working for the first company I ever worked for coming out of school that God timed it to align with the end of Job and so I hold onto Job 42:12. God’s timing is perfect! I was able to leave that job in peace! I was able to take hold of the Word of God for I know it is trustworthy and can be depended on. And so I am excited and pressing on into the 2nd half knowing God has even greater things yet to come!

Job

1-2If my troubles and griefs were weighed on scales, 3they would weigh more than the sands of the sea, so my wild words should not surprise you. 4Almighty God has shot me with arrows, and their poison spreads through my body. God has lined up his terrors against me. 5A donkey is content when eating grass, and a cow is quiet when eating hay. 6But who can eat flat, unsalted food? What taste is there in the white of an egg? 7I have no appetite for food like that, and everything I eat makes me sick. 8Why won’t God give me what I ask? Why won’t he answer my prayer? 9If only he would go ahead and kill me! 10If I knew he would, I would leap for joy, no matter how great my pain. I know that God is holy; I have never opposed what he commands. 11What strength do I have to keep on living? Why go on living when I have no hope? 12Am I made of stone? Is my body bronze? 13I have no strength left to save myself; there is nowhere I can turn for help. 14In trouble like this I need loyal friends—whether I’ve forsaken God or not. 15But you, my friends, you deceive me like streams that go dry when no rain comes. 16The streams are choked with snow and ice, 17but in the heat they disappear, and the stream beds lie bare and dry. 18Caravans get lost looking for water; they wander and die in the desert. 19Caravans from Sheba and Tema search, 20but their hope dies beside dry streams. 21You are like those streams to me, you see my fate and draw back in fear. 22Have I asked you to give me a gift or to bribe someone on my behalf 23or to save me from some enemy or tyrant? 24All right, teach me; tell me my faults. I will be quiet and listen to you. 25Honest words are convincing, but you are talking nonsense. 26You think I am talking nothing but wind; then why do you answer my words of despair? 27You would even roll dice for orphan slaves and make yourselves rich off your closest friends! 28Look me in the face. I won’t lie. 29You have gone far enough. Stop being unjust. Don’t condemn me. I’m in the right. 30But you think I am lying—you think I can’t tell right from wrong.

–from Job 6

So don’t grow weary in doing good works! Don’t get held down or held back by the lies of the devil, but rather find freedom through God! For whom the Son sets free is free indeed!