Are you filled with the Spirit?


Have you invited Jesus into your heart? Have you received the Holy Spirit? Do you make time to be filled up daily so that others may receive the overflow? Do you make time to meditate on God’s Word in order to receive wisdom through the Bible for what is about to happen today? The Holy Spirit isn’t a thing but a person in the trinity. The Holy Spirit isn’t an it but a He. He will be your comforter and your guide! He is your counselor and your advocate! He will bring conviction and revelation of truth! He will intercede and teach! He is a witness to everything, verifying and testifying to the facts. Why not invite God into your day right now even before you start today’s reading. Why not ask the Holy Spirit to fill you up to overflow so that not only you will receive what God has but you will also be able to overflow into all the lives of all the people God is preparing to bring into your life or across your path today? Let’s get filled up as we prepare to start today so that we won’t run out of gas part way through the day!

Today’s reading beings in Exodus 28.

‘“Call for your brother, Aaron, and his sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Set them apart from the rest of the people of Israel so they may minister to me and be my priests. Make sacred garments for Aaron that are glorious and beautiful. Instruct all the skilled craftsmen whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom. Have them make garments for Aaron that will distinguish him as a priest set apart for my service. These are the garments they are to make: a chestpiece, an ephod, a robe, a patterned tunic, a turban, and a sash. They are to make these sacred garments for your brother, Aaron, and his sons to wear when they serve me as priests. So give them fine linen cloth, gold thread, and blue, purple, and scarlet thread.

“The craftsmen must make the ephod of finely woven linen and skillfully embroider it with gold and with blue, purple, and scarlet thread. It will consist of two pieces, front and back, joined at the shoulders with two shoulder-pieces. The decorative sash will be made of the same materials: finely woven linen embroidered with gold and with blue, purple, and scarlet thread. “Take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the tribes of Israel. Six names will be on each stone, arranged in the order of the births of the original sons of Israel. Engrave these names on the two stones in the same way a jeweler engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in settings of gold filigree. Fasten the two stones on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod as a reminder that Aaron represents the people of Israel. Aaron will carry these names on his shoulders as a constant reminder whenever he goes before the Lord . Make the settings of gold filigree, then braid two cords of pure gold and attach them to the filigree settings on the shoulders of the ephod.

“Then, with great skill and care, make a chestpiece to be worn for seeking a decision from God. Make it to match the ephod, using finely woven linen embroidered with gold and with blue, purple, and scarlet thread. Make the chestpiece of a single piece of cloth folded to form a pouch nine inches square. Mount four rows of gemstones on it. The first row will contain a red carnelian, a pale-green peridot, and an emerald. The second row will contain a turquoise, a blue lapis lazuli, and a white moonstone. The third row will contain an orange jacinth, an agate, and a purple amethyst. The fourth row will contain a blue-green beryl, an onyx, and a green jasper. All these stones will be set in gold filigree. Each stone will represent one of the twelve sons of Israel, and the name of that tribe will be engraved on it like a seal. “To attach the chestpiece to the ephod, make braided cords of pure gold thread. Then make two gold rings and attach them to the top corners of the chestpiece. Tie the two gold cords to the two rings on the chestpiece. Tie the other ends of the cords to the gold settings on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod. Then make two more gold rings and attach them to the inside edges of the chestpiece next to the ephod. And make two more gold rings and attach them to the front of the ephod, below the shoulder-pieces, just above the knot where the decorative sash is fastened to the ephod. Then attach the bottom rings of the chestpiece to the rings on the ephod with blue cords. This will hold the chestpiece securely to the ephod above the decorative sash. “In this way, Aaron will carry the names of the tribes of Israel on the sacred chestpiece over his heart when he goes into the Holy Place. This will be a continual reminder that he represents the people when he comes before the Lord . Insert the Urim and Thummim into the sacred chestpiece so they will be carried over Aaron’s heart when he goes into the Lord ’s presence. In this way, Aaron will always carry over his heart the objects used to determine the Lord ’s will for his people whenever he goes in before the Lord .

“Make the robe that is worn with the ephod from a single piece of blue cloth, with an opening for Aaron’s head in the middle of it. Reinforce the opening with a woven collar so it will not tear. Make pomegranates out of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, and attach them to the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. The gold bells and pomegranates are to alternate all around the hem. Aaron will wear this robe whenever he ministers before the Lord , and the bells will tinkle as he goes in and out of the Lord ’s presence in the Holy Place. If he wears it, he will not die. “Next make a medallion of pure gold, and engrave it like a seal with these words: Holy to the Lord . Attach the medallion with a blue cord to the front of Aaron’s turban, where it must remain. Aaron must wear it on his forehead so he may take on himself any guilt of the people of Israel when they consecrate their sacred offerings. He must always wear it on his forehead so the Lord will accept the people. “Weave Aaron’s patterned tunic from fine linen cloth. Fashion the turban from this linen as well. Also make a sash, and decorate it with colorful embroidery. “For Aaron’s sons, make tunics, sashes, and special head coverings that are glorious and beautiful. Clothe your brother, Aaron, and his sons with these garments, and then anoint and ordain them. Consecrate them so they can serve as my priests. Also make linen undergarments for them, to be worn next to their bodies, reaching from their hips to their thighs. These must be worn whenever Aaron and his sons enter the Tabernacle or approach the altar in the Holy Place to perform their priestly duties. Then they will not incur guilt and die. This is a permanent law for Aaron and all his descendants after him.’

Exodus 28

Today’s reading then takes us into Job 17.

‘“My spirit is crushed, and my life is nearly snuffed out. The grave is ready to receive me. I am surrounded by mockers. I watch how bitterly they taunt me. “You must defend my innocence, O God, since no one else will stand up for me. You have closed their minds to understanding, but do not let them triumph. They betray their friends for their own advantage, so let their children faint with hunger. “God has made a mockery of me among the people; they spit in my face. My eyes are swollen with weeping, and I am but a shadow of my former self. The virtuous are horrified when they see me. The innocent rise up against the ungodly. The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger. “As for all of you, come back with a better argument, though I still won’t find a wise man among you. My days are over. My hopes have disappeared. My heart’s desires are broken. These men say that night is day; they claim that the darkness is light. What if I go to the grave and make my bed in darkness? What if I call the grave my father, and the maggot my mother or my sister? Where then is my hope? Can anyone find it? No, my hope will go down with me to the grave. We will rest together in the dust!”’

Job 17

Today’s reading next takes us into the New Testament starting in Mark 3.

‘Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him. He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus.

Jesus went out to the lake with his disciples, and a large crowd followed him. They came from all over Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, from east of the Jordan River, and even from as far north as Tyre and Sidon. The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him. Jesus instructed his disciples to have a boat ready so the crowd would not crush him. He had healed many people that day, so all the sick people eagerly pushed forward to touch him. And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, the spirits would throw them to the ground in front of him shrieking, “You are the Son of God!” But Jesus sternly commanded the spirits not to reveal who he was.’

Mark 3:1-12

Today’s reading then continues into 1 Corinthians 9.

‘Am I not as free as anyone else? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord with my own eyes? Isn’t it because of my work that you belong to the Lord? Even if others think I am not an apostle, I certainly am to you. You yourselves are proof that I am the Lord’s apostle. This is my answer to those who question my authority. Don’t we have the right to live in your homes and share your meals? Don’t we have the right to bring a believing wife with us as the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers do, and as Peter does? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves? What soldier has to pay his own expenses? What farmer plants a vineyard and doesn’t have the right to eat some of its fruit? What shepherd cares for a flock of sheep and isn’t allowed to drink some of the milk? Am I expressing merely a human opinion, or does the law say the same thing? For the law of Moses says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” Was God thinking only about oxen when he said this? Wasn’t he actually speaking to us? Yes, it was written for us, so that the one who plows and the one who threshes the grain might both expect a share of the harvest. Since we have planted spiritual seed among you, aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink? If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported? But we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ. Don’t you realize that those who work in the temple get their meals from the offerings brought to the temple? And those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrificial offerings. In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it. ‘

1 Corinthians 9:1-14

As we prepare to close today’s reading, let us meditate on today’s psalm. Let’s read Psalms 59 together.

‘Rescue me from my enemies, O God. Protect me from those who have come to destroy me. Rescue me from these criminals; save me from these murderers. They have set an ambush for me. Fierce enemies are out there waiting, Lord , though I have not sinned or offended them. I have done nothing wrong, yet they prepare to attack me. Wake up! See what is happening and help me! O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, wake up and punish those hostile nations. Show no mercy to wicked traitors. Interlude They come out at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets. Listen to the filth that comes from their mouths; their words cut like swords. “After all, who can hear us?” they sneer. But Lord , you laugh at them. You scoff at all the hostile nations. You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my fortress. In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me. He will let me look down in triumph on all my enemies. Don’t kill them, for my people soon forget such lessons; stagger them with your power, and bring them to their knees, O Lord our shield. Because of the sinful things they say, because of the evil that is on their lips, let them be captured by their pride, their curses, and their lies. Destroy them in your anger! Wipe them out completely! Then the whole world will know that God reigns in Israel. Interlude My enemies come out at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets. They scavenge for food but go to sleep unsatisfied. But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.’

Psalms 59

There is hope even when a message of conviction is given!


Imagine making a deal with someone. Imagine making an oath in God’s name over it. What do you think would happen if you broke that oath? What do you think the other person will do? How do you think God will react? What impact do you think it will have on others that were depending on you and following after you? What if you happen to be one of the followers? What if you are watching what it taking place? What if you hear what the consequences are going to be? Will you lose hope? Where will you turn? What will you do?

With God, there is always hope! He has hope, mercy, grace, and love to the point He provides second chances and provides opportunities for people to turn back to Him. Even when we consider what it says in the book of Revelation, it speaks to how not everyone is impact when each of the curses comes on the earth, yet there are still people who don’t turn back, won’t turn back, and will continue to rebel against God!

In today’s reading, it starts with just such a situation where God sends Ezekiel to share a parable with the people so that they can hear the story as well as the interpretation and impact of the bad choices and then closes with a message of hope. Let’s get started and see how this final set of readings will close out this loop of getting through the Bible.


The Parable of the Eagles and the Vine

1The Lord spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “tell the Israelites a parable 3to let them know what I, the Sovereign Lord, am saying to them: There was a giant eagle with beautiful feathers and huge wings, spread wide. He flew to the Lebanon Mountains and broke off the top of a cedar tree, 4which he carried to a land of commerce and placed in a city of merchants. 5Then he took a young plant from the land of Israel and planted it in a fertile field, where there was always water to make it grow. 6The plant sprouted and became a low, wide-spreading grapevine. The branches grew upward toward the eagle, and the roots grew deep. The vine was covered with branches and leaves.
7“There was another giant eagle with huge wings and thick plumage. And now the vine sent its roots toward him and turned its leaves toward him, in the hope that he would give it more water than there was in the garden where it was growing. 8But the vine had already been planted in a fertile, well-watered field so that it could grow leaves and bear grapes and be a magnificent vine.
9“So I, the Sovereign Lord, ask: Will this vine live and grow? Won’t the first eagle pull it up by its roots, pull off the grapes, and break off the branches and let them wither? It will not take much strength or a mighty nation to pull it up. 10Yes, it is planted, but will it live and grow? Won’t it wither when the east wind strikes it? Won’t it wither there where it is growing?”

The Parable Is Explained

11The Lord said to me, 12 “Ask these rebels if they know what the parable means. Tell them that the king of Babylonia came to Jerusalem and took the king and his officials back with him to Babylonia. 13He took one of the king’s family, made a treaty with him, and made him swear to be loyal. He took important men as hostages 14to keep the nation from rising again and to make sure that the treaty would be kept. 15But the king of Judah rebelled and sent agents to Egypt to get horses and a large army. Will he succeed? Can he get away with that? He cannot break the treaty and go unpunished!
16“As surely as I am the living God,” says the Sovereign Lord, “this king will die in Babylonia because he broke his oath and the treaty he had made with the king of Babylonia, who put him on the throne. 17Even the powerful army of the king of Egypt will not be able to help him fight when the Babylonians build earthworks and dig trenches in order to kill many people. 18He broke his oath and the treaty he had made. He did all these things, and now he will not escape.”
19The Sovereign Lord says, “As surely as I am the living God, I will punish him for breaking the treaty which he swore in my name to keep. 20I will spread out a hunter’s net and catch him in it. I will take him to Babylonia and punish him there, because he was unfaithful to me. 21His best soldiers will be killed in battle, and the survivors will be scattered in every direction. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken.”

God’s Promise of Hope

22This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “I will take the top of a tall cedar and break off a tender sprout; I will plant it on a high mountain, 23on Israel’s highest mountain. It will grow branches and bear seed and become a magnificent cedar. Birds of every kind will live there and find shelter in its shade. 24All the trees in the land will know that I am the Lord. I cut down the tall trees and make small trees grow tall. I wither up the green trees and make the dry trees become green. I, the Lord, have spoken. I will do what I have said I would do.”
–from Ezekiel 17
We are all facing decisions and choices that we have to make individually! Nobody except ourselves can choose who we will follow. It is only us who can decide how we will live our lives. It’s personal! It’s important! And you are the only one who can decide where you will end up! It’s only you who can choose life and life to the full! It’s only you who can chose where you will spend eternity! Once you decide, it makes the rest easier! Keeping first things first! Knowing what your desired end goal is! You can then run the race! Run it to win it! And know and trust that you will finish strong!

Individual Responsibility

1The Lord spoke to me 2 and said, “What is this proverb people keep repeating in the land of Israel? ‘The parents ate the sour grapes, But the children got the sour taste.’
3“As surely as I am the living God,” says the Sovereign Lord, “you will not repeat this proverb in Israel any more. 4The life of every person belongs to me, the life of the parent as well as that of the child. The person who sins is the one who will die.
5“Suppose there is a truly good man, righteous and honest. 6He doesn’t worship the idols of the Israelites or eat the sacrifices offered at forbidden shrines. He doesn’t seduce another man’s wife or have intercourse with a woman during her period. 7He doesn’t cheat or rob anyone. He returns what a borrower gives him as security; he feeds the hungry and gives clothing to the naked. 8He doesn’t lend money for profit. He refuses to do evil and gives an honest decision in any dispute. 9 Such a man obeys my commands and carefully keeps my laws. He is righteous, and he will live,” says the Sovereign Lord.
10“Then suppose this man has a son who robs and kills, who does any of these things 11that the father never did. He eats sacrifices offered at forbidden shrines and seduces other men’s wives. 12He cheats the poor, he robs, he keeps what a borrower gives him as security. He goes to pagan shrines, worships disgusting idols, 13and lends money for profit. Will he live? No, he will not. He has done all these disgusting things, and so he will die. He will be to blame for his own death.
14“Now suppose this second man has a son. He sees all the sins his father practiced, but does not follow his example. 15He doesn’t worship the idols of the Israelites or eat the sacrifices offered at forbidden shrines. He doesn’t seduce another man’s wife 16or oppress anyone or rob anyone. He returns what a borrower gives him as security. He feeds the hungry and gives clothing to the naked. 17He refuses to do evil and doesn’t lend money for profit. He keeps my laws and obeys my commands. He will not die because of his father’s sins, but he will certainly live. 18His father, on the other hand, cheated and robbed and always did evil to everyone. And so he died because of the sins he himself had committed.
19“But you ask, ‘Why shouldn’t the son suffer because of his father’s sins?’ The answer is that the son did what was right and good. He kept my laws and followed them carefully, and so he will certainly live. 20 It is the one who sins who will die. A son is not to suffer because of his father’s sins, nor a father because of the sins of his son. Good people will be rewarded for doing good, and evil people will suffer for the evil they do.
21“If someone evil stops sinning and keeps my laws, if he does what is right and good, he will not die; he will certainly live. 22All his sins will be forgiven, and he will live, because he did what is right. 23Do you think I enjoy seeing evil people die?” asks the Sovereign Lord. “No, I would rather see them repent and live.
24“But if a righteous person stops doing good and starts doing all the evil, disgusting things that evil people do, will he go on living? No! None of the good he did will be remembered. He will die because of his unfaithfulness and his sins.
25“But you say, ‘What the Lord does isn’t right.’ Listen to me, you Israelites. Do you think my way of doing things isn’t right? It is your way that isn’t right. 26When a righteous person stops doing good and starts doing evil and then dies, he dies because of the evil he has done. 27When someone evil stops sinning and does what is right and good, he saves his life. 28He realizes what he is doing and stops sinning, so he will certainly not die, but go on living. 29And you Israelites say, ‘What the Lord does isn’t right.’ You think my way isn’t right, do you? It is your way that isn’t right.
30“Now I, the Sovereign Lord, am telling you Israelites that I will judge each of you by what you have done. Turn away from all the evil you are doing, and don’t let your sin destroy you. 31Give up all the evil you have been doing, and get yourselves new minds and hearts. Why do you Israelites want to die? 32 I do not want anyone to die,” says the Sovereign Lord. “Turn away from your sins and live.”
–from Ezekiel 18
Realize by making that choice and having your life filled with the joy of the Lord as your strength in the good times and the tough times, others will be looking to understand the hope that is within you! There will be troubles, but take heart because Jesus has already overcome them! Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds because they will help develop and grow you so that you will be complete and lacking nothing in the end. Share that hope that is within you! Share that there is hope even in the deepest and darkest pit! Point people to God!

A Song of Sorrow

1The Lord told me to sing this song of sorrow for two princes of Israel: 2What a lioness your mother was! She raised her cubs among the fierce male lions. 3She raised a cub and taught him to hunt; he learned to eat people. 4The nations heard about him and trapped him in a pit. With hooks they dragged him off to Egypt. 5She waited until she saw all hope was gone. Then she raised another of her cubs, and he grew into a fierce lion. 6When he was full-grown, he prowled with the other lions. He too learned to hunt and eat people. 7He wrecked forts, he ruined towns. The people of the land were terrified every time he roared. 8The nations gathered to fight him; people came from everywhere. They spread their hunting nets and caught him in their trap. 9They put him in a cage and took him to the king of Babylonia. They kept him under guard, so that his roar would never be heard again on the hills of Israel. 10Your mother was like a grapevine planted near a stream. Because there was plenty of water, the vine was covered with leaves and fruit. 11Its branches were strong and grew to be royal scepters. The vine grew tall enough to reach the clouds; everyone saw how leafy and tall it was. 12But angry hands pulled it up by the roots and threw it to the ground. The east wind dried up its fruit. Its branches were broken off; they dried up and were burned. 13Now it is planted in the desert, in a dry and waterless land. 14The stem of the vine caught fire; fire burned up its branches and fruit. The branches will never again be strong, will never be royal scepters. This is a song of sorrow; it has been sung again and again.
–from Ezekiel 19
There will always be those who fight against God’s will! There will always be those who want the opposite of what God’s plan is and desire is! There will always be those who try to distort the truth! There will always be those who try to change the definitions God has provided! At least in this time and until the final judgment when it will get dealt with forever! Jesus came to make a way for us to be reconciled back to God, but each of us has to make an individual decision as to whether or nor we will choose to follow God’s will and way for our lives! Will we fight against God’s will? Will we receive the grace and the mercy provided by the ultimate sacrifice and receive forgiveness? Up to you! Choose wisely!

The Lord’s Will and Human Defiance

1It was the tenth day of the fifth month of the seventh year of our exile. Some of the leaders of the Israelite community came to consult me about the Lord’s will, and they sat down in front of me. 2Then the Lord spoke to me. 3“Mortal man,” he said, “speak to these leaders and tell them that the Sovereign Lord is saying: You have come to ask my will, have you? As surely as I am the living God, I will not let you ask me anything. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken.
4“Are you ready to pass sentence on them, mortal man? Then do so. Remind them of the disgusting things their ancestors did. 5 Tell them what I am saying. When I chose Israel, I made them a promise. I revealed myself to them in Egypt and told them: I am the Lord your God. 6It was then that I promised to take them out of Egypt and lead them to a land I had chosen for them, a rich and fertile land, the finest land of all. 7I told them to throw away the disgusting idols they loved and not to make themselves unclean with the false gods of Egypt, because I am the Lord their God. 8But they defied me and refused to listen. They did not throw away their disgusting idols or give up the Egyptian gods. I was ready to let them feel the full force of my anger there in Egypt. 9But I did not, since that would have brought dishonor to my name, for in the presence of the people among whom they were living I had announced to Israel that I was going to lead them out of Egypt.
10“And so I led them out of Egypt into the desert. 11 I gave them my commands and taught them my laws, which bring life to anyone who obeys them. 12 I made the keeping of the Sabbath a sign of the agreement between us, to remind them that I, the Lord, make them holy. 13But even in the desert they defied me. They broke my laws and rejected my commands, which bring life to anyone who obeys them. They completely profaned the Sabbath. I was ready to let them feel the force of my anger there in the desert and to destroy them. 14But I did not, since that would have brought dishonor to my name among the nations which had seen me lead Israel out of Egypt. 15 So I made a vow in the desert that I would not take them to the land I had given them, a rich and fertile land, the finest land of all. 16I made the vow because they had rejected my commands, broken my laws, and profaned the Sabbath—they preferred to worship their idols.
17“But then I took pity on them. I decided not to kill them there in the desert. 18Instead, I warned the young people among them: Do not keep the laws your ancestors made; do not follow their customs or defile yourselves with their idols. 19I am the Lord your God. Obey my laws and my commands. 20Make the Sabbath a holy day, so that it will be a sign of the covenant we made, and will remind you that I am the Lord your God.
21“But that generation also defied me. They broke my laws and did not keep my commands, which bring life to anyone who obeys them. They profaned the Sabbath. I was ready to let them feel the force of my anger there in the desert and to kill them all. 22But I did not, since that would have brought dishonor to my name among the nations which had seen me bring Israel out of Egypt. 23 So I made another vow in the desert. I vowed that I would scatter them all over the world. 24I did this because they had rejected my commands, broken my laws, profaned the Sabbath, and worshiped the same idols their ancestors had served.
25“Then I gave them laws that are not good and commands that do not bring life. 26I let them defile themselves with their own offerings, and I let them sacrifice their first-born sons. This was to punish them and show them that I am the Lord.
27“Now then, mortal man, tell the Israelites what I, the Sovereign Lord, am saying to them. This is another way their ancestors insulted me by their unfaithfulness. 28I brought them to the land I had promised to give them. When they saw the high hills and green trees, they offered sacrifices at all of them. They made me angry by the sacrifices they burned and by the wine they brought as offerings. 29I asked them: What are these high places where you go? So they have been called ‘High Places’ ever since. 30Now tell the Israelites what I am saying: Why must you commit the same sins your ancestors did and go running after their idols? 31Even today you offer the same gifts and defile yourselves with the same idols by sacrificing your children to them in the fire. And then you Israelites still come to ask what my will is! As surely as I, the Sovereign Lord, am the living God, I will not let you ask me anything. 32You have made up your minds that you want to be like the other nations, like the people who live in other countries and worship trees and rocks. But that will never be.

God Punishes and Forgives

33“As surely as I, the Sovereign Lord, am the living God, I warn you that in my anger I will rule over you with a strong hand, with all my power. 34I will show you my power and my anger when I gather you together and bring you back from all the countries where you have been scattered. 35I will bring you into the ‘Desert of the Nations,’ and there I will condemn you to your face. 36I will now condemn you just as I condemned your ancestors in the Sinai Desert,” says the Sovereign Lord.
37“I will take firm control of you and make you obey my covenant. 38I will take away from among you those who are rebellious and sinful. I will take them out of the lands where they are living now, but I will not let them return to the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”
39The Sovereign Lord says, “And now, all you Israelites, suit yourselves! Go on and serve your idols! But I warn you that after this you will have to obey me and stop dishonoring my holy name by offering gifts to your idols. 40There in the land, on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, all you people of Israel will worship me. I will be pleased with you and will expect you to bring me your sacrifices, your best offerings, and your holy gifts. 41After I bring you out of the countries where you have been scattered and gather you together, I will accept the sacrifices that you burn, and the nations will see that I am holy. 42When I bring you back to Israel, the land that I promised I would give to your ancestors, then you will know that I am the Lord. 43Then you will remember all the disgraceful things you did and how you defiled yourselves. You will be disgusted with yourselves because of all the evil things you did. 44When I act to protect my honor, you Israelites will know that I am the Lord, because I do not deal with you as your wicked, evil actions deserve.” The Sovereign Lord has spoken.

Fire in the South

45The Lord spoke to me. 46“Mortal man,” he said, “look toward the south. Speak against the south and prophesy against the forest of the south. 47Tell the southern forest to hear what the Sovereign Lord is saying: Look! I am starting a fire, and it will burn up every tree in you, whether green or dry. Nothing will be able to put it out. It will spread from south to north, and everyone will feel the heat of the flames. 48They will all see that I, the Lord, set it on fire and that no one can put it out.”
49But I protested, “Sovereign Lord, don’t make me do it! Everyone is already complaining that I always speak in riddles.”
–from Ezekiel 20
Choose wisely! Choose how you want this to end for you! Share the knowledge so that others around you will receive the wisdom of God and choose wisely too!

The Lord’s Sword

1The Lord spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “denounce Jerusalem. Denounce the places where people worship. Warn the land of Israel 3that I, the Lord, am saying: I am your enemy. I will draw my sword and kill all of you, good and evil alike. 4I will use my sword against everyone from south to north. 5Everyone will know that I, the Lord, have drawn my sword and that I will not put it away.
6“Mortal man, groan as if your heart is breaking with despair. Groan in sorrow where everyone can watch you. 7When they ask you why you are groaning, tell them it is because of the news that is coming. When it comes, their hearts will be filled with fear, their hands will hang limp, their courage will fail, and their knees will tremble. The time has come; it is here.” The Sovereign Lord has spoken.
8The Lord said to me, 9“Mortal man, prophesy. Tell the people what I, the Lord, am saying: A sword, a sword is sharpened and polished. 10It is sharpened to kill, polished to flash like lightning. There can be no rejoicing, for my people have disregarded every warning and unishment. 11The sword is being polished, to make it ready for use. It is sharpened and polished, to be put in the hands of a killer. 12Howl in grief, mortal man; this sword is meant for my people and for all the leaders of Israel. They are going to be killed with all the rest of my people. Beat your breast in despair! 13I am testing my people, and if they refuse to repent, all these things will happen to them.
14“Now, mortal man, prophesy. Clap your hands, and the sword will strike again and again. It is a sword that kills, a sword that terrifies and slaughters. 15It makes my people lose courage and stumble. I am threatening their city with a sword that flashes like lightning and is ready to kill. 16Cut to the right and the left, you sharp sword! Cut wherever you turn. 17I also will clap my hands, and my anger will be over. I, the Lord, have spoken.”

The Sword of the King of Babylonia

18The Lord spoke to me. 19“Mortal man,” he said, “mark out two roads by which the king of Babylonia can come with his sword. Both of them are to start in the same country. Put up a signpost where the roads fork. 20One will show the king the way to the Ammonite city of Rabbah, and the other the way to Judah, to the fortified city, Jerusalem. 21The king of Babylonia stands by the signpost at the fork of the road. To discover which way to go, he shakes the arrows; he consults his idols; he examines the liver of a sacrificed animal. 22Now! His right hand holds the arrow marked ‘Jerusalem’! It tells him to go and set up battering rams, to shout the battle cry, to place battering rams against the gates, to throw up earthworks, and to dig trenches. 23The people of Jerusalem won’t believe this because of the treaties they have made. But this prediction is to remind them of their sins and to warn them that they will be captured. 24This then is what I, the Sovereign Lord, am saying: Your sins are exposed. Everyone knows how guilty you are. You show your sins in your every action. You stand condemned, and I will hand you over to your enemies.
25“You wicked, unholy ruler of Israel, your day, the day of your final punishment, is coming. 26I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken. Take off your crown and your turban. Nothing will be the same again. Raise the poor to power! Bring down those who are ruling! 27Ruin, ruin! Yes, I will make the city a ruin. But this will not happen until the one comes whom I have chosen to punish the city. To him I will give it.

A Sword and the Ammonites

28  “Mortal man, prophesy. Announce what I, the Sovereign Lord, am saying to the Ammonites, who are insulting Israel. Say to them: ‘A sword is ready to destroy; It is polished to kill, to flash like lightning. 29The visions that you see are false, and the predictions you make are lies. You are wicked and evil, and your day is coming, the day of your final punishment. The sword is going to fall on your necks.
30“‘Put up the sword! I will judge you in the place where you were created, in the land where you were born. 31You will feel my anger when I turn it loose on you like a blazing fire. And I will hand you over to brutal men, experts at destruction. 32You will be destroyed by fire. Your blood will be shed in your own country, and no one will remember you any more.’” The Lord has spoken.
–from Ezekiel 21

Watch out, and don’t let anyone fool you!


There will be many pretenders. There will be many imitators. There will be many posers. Don’t be lured into believing what isn’t true. Know what you are looking for. Know what you are expecting. Remember how He is to come. Don’t be troubled or concerned when you hear of wars and battles near or far. It’s got to happen. Remember that the battles, the wars, the earthquakes, the famines are like birthing pains. So watch out! Because of your faith you will be challenged and questioned and tried. Because of your faith you will be brought before rulers and kings to give an answer for the hope that is within you. So share the Good News! Do not be afraid to share the reason for the hope that is within you. Before the end comes the world needs to get to hear about this Good News, the gospel must be preached so that everyone gets to hear it. Don’t worry about what to say, for God will give you the words, the testimony, the details of what to say. They won’t be your words, but they will be God speaking through you, the Holy Spirit will speak God’s Word through you. Take a look around as what is taking place and the faith of the children who won’t give up their faith in Jesus, even unto death. Don’t give it up! Don’t turn your back on God! Stand strong no matter what comes your way trusting and believing in Him. We will be saved if we don’t give up! Those children who gave their all are now celebrating and living with Jesus in Heaven forever, all of eternity they will be with Him. Watch out and don’t let anyone fool you!

You are hear for such a day and such a time as this! I remember times when God has allowed or positioned me before leaders and I remember words coming out of my mouth speaking a story and wondering where it was going. And realized it wasn’t just telling them something, but also teaching me what I was supposed to do! So don’t be fooled! Don’t be lead astray! Don’t be lured away from what is truth! And remember that Jesus is coming back the same way He left! If someone says they are Him, but they didn’t come back that way, it’s not Him! Review the book of Revelation for it speaks to it!

We see how in today’s reading we are warned to not be deceived!

Paul and the False Apostles

1I wish you would tolerate me, even when I am a bit foolish. Please do! 2I am jealous for you, just as God is; you are like a pure virgin whom I have promised in marriage to one man only, Christ himself. 3I am afraid that your minds will be corrupted and that you will abandon your full and pure devotion to Christ—in the same way that Eve was deceived by the snake’s clever lies. 4For you gladly tolerate anyone who comes to you and preaches a different Jesus, not the one we preached; and you accept a spirit and a gospel completely different from the Spirit and the gospel you received from us! 5I do not think that I am the least bit inferior to those very special so-called “apostles” of yours! 6Perhaps I am an amateur in speaking, but certainly not in knowledge; we have made this clear to you at all times and in all conditions. 7I did not charge you a thing when I preached the Good News of God to you; I humbled myself in order to make you important. Was that wrong of me? 8While I was working among you, I was paid by other churches. I was robbing them, so to speak, in order to help you. 9And during the time I was with you I did not bother you for help when I needed money; the believers who came from Macedonia brought me everything I needed. As in the past, so in the future: I will never be a burden to you!
10By Christ’s truth in me, I promise that this boast of mine will not be silenced anywhere in all of Achaia. 11Do I say this because I don’t love you? God knows I love you! 12I will go on doing what I am doing now, in order to keep those other “apostles” from having any reason for boasting and saying that they work in the same way that we do. 13Those men are not true apostles—they are false apostles, who lie about their work and disguise themselves to look like real apostles of Christ. 14Well, no wonder! Even Satan can disguise himself to look like an angel of light! 15So it is no great thing if his servants disguise themselves to look like servants of righteousness. In the end they will get exactly what their actions deserve. — 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

God is good, all the time! All the time, God is good! His love endures forever! In Psalms today we read how much…

1Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good; his love is eternal.
2Who can tell all the great things he has done? Who can praise him enough?
3Happy are those who obey his commands, who always do what is right.
4Remember me, Lord, when you help your people; include me when you save them.
5Let me see the prosperity of your people and share in the happiness of your nation, in the glad pride of those who belong to you.
6We have sinned as our ancestors did; we have been wicked and evil.
7Our ancestors in Egypt did not understand God’s wonderful acts; they forgot the many times he showed them his love, and they rebelled against the Almighty at the Red Sea.
8But he saved them, as he had promised,in order to show his great power.
9He gave a command to the Red Sea, and it dried up; he led his people across on dry land.
10He saved them from those who hated them; he rescued them from their enemies.
11But the water drowned their enemies; not one of them was left.
12Then his people believed his promises and sang praises to him.
13But they quickly forgot what he had done and acted without waiting for his advice.
14They were filled with craving in the desert and put God to the test;
15so he gave them what they asked for, but also sent a terrible disease among them.
16There in the desert they were jealous of Moses and of Aaron, the Lord’s holy servant.
17Then the earth opened up and swallowed Dathan and buried Abiram and his family;
18fire came down on their followers and burned up those wicked people.
19They made a gold bull-calf at Sinai and worshiped that idol;
20they exchanged the glory of God for the image of an animal that eats grass.
21They forgot the God who had saved them by his mighty acts in Egypt.
22What wonderful things he did there! What amazing things at the Red Sea!
23When God said that he would destroy his people, his chosen servant, Moses, stood up against God and kept his anger from destroying them.

— from Psalm 106:1-23

IF … THEN … ELSE … There are consequences to our decisions, our thoughts, our actions! Choose wisely!


Do you know what the condition is?

Do you know what the result will be?

Do you know what the alternative is?


IF

you listen obediently to the Voice of God, your God, and heartily obey all his commandments that I command you today

THEN

your God, will place you on high, high above all the nations of the world. All these blessings will come down on you and spread out beyond you because you have responded to the Voice of God, your God:

— from Deuteronomy 28

ELSE

— from Deuteronomy 28

There are consequences to our decisions, our thoughts, our actions! Choose wisely!


Will you love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your strength? Will you love your neighbor as yourself?

1These are the terms of the Covenant that God commanded Moses to make with the People of Israel in the land of Moab, renewing the Covenant he made with them at Horeb.
Moses Blesses Israel on the Plains of Moab
2-4Moses called all Israel together and said, You’ve seen with your own eyes everything that God did in Egypt to Pharaoh and his servants, and to the land itself—the massive trials to which you were eyewitnesses, the great signs and miracle-wonders. But God didn’t give you an understanding heart or perceptive eyes or attentive ears until right now, this very day.
5-6I took you through the wilderness for forty years and through all that time the clothes on your backs didn’t wear out, the sandals on your feet didn’t wear out, and you lived well without bread and wine and beer, proving to you that I am in fact God, your God.
7-8When you arrived here in this place, Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan met us primed for war but we beat them. We took their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
9Diligently keep the words of this Covenant. Do what they say so that you will live well and wisely in every detail.
10-13You are all standing here today in the Presence of God, your God—the heads of your tribes, your leaders, your officials, all Israel: your babies, your wives, the resident foreigners in your camps who fetch your firewood and water—ready to cross over into the solemnly sworn Covenant that God, your God, is making with you today, the Covenant that this day confirms that you are his people and he is God, your God, just as he promised you and your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
14-21I’m not making this Covenant and its oath with you alone. I am making it with you who are standing here today in the Presence of God, our God, yes, but also with those who are not here today. You know the conditions in which we lived in Egypt and how we crisscrossed through nations in our travels. You got an eyeful of their obscenities, their wood and stone, silver and gold junk-gods. Don’t let down your guard lest even now, today, someone—man or woman, clan or tribe—gets sidetracked from God, our God, and gets involved with the no-gods of the nations; lest some poisonous weed sprout and spread among you, a person who hears the words of the Covenant-oath but exempts himself, thinking, “I’ll live just the way I please, thank you,” and ends up ruining life for everybody. God won’t let him off the hook. God’s anger and jealousy will erupt like a volcano against that person. The curses written in this book will bury him. God will delete his name from the records. God will separate him out from all the tribes of Israel for special punishment, according to all the curses of the Covenant written in this Book of Revelation.
22-23The next generation, your children who come after you and the foreigner who comes from a far country, will be appalled when they see the widespread devastation, how God made the whole land sick. They’ll see a fire-blackened wasteland of brimstone and salt flats, nothing planted, nothing growing, not so much as a blade of grass anywhere—like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which God overthrew in fiery rage.
24All the nations will ask, “Why did God do this to this country? What on earth could have made him this angry?”
25-28Your children will answer, “Because they abandoned the Covenant of the God of their ancestors that he made with them after he got them out of Egypt; they went off and worshiped other gods, submitted to gods they’d never heard of before, gods they had no business dealing with. So God’s anger erupted against that land and all the curses written in this book came down on it. God, furiously angry, pulled them, roots and all, out of their land and dumped them in another country, as you can see.”
29God, our God, will take care of the hidden things but the revealed things are our business. It’s up to us and our children to attend to all the terms in this Revelation.
— from Deuteronomy 29

Don’t get sidetracked! Keep the main thing the main thing! Put first things first!

see…

image above from:

Distractions from the race

 

 

 

How strong is your conviction?


How strong are your beliefs? Can anyone persuade you with clever arguments, facts, or theories from your convictions? What has taken place in your life to solidify your conviction? What continues to happen that allows you to stay convicted?

I have so many encounters and stories of how God has intersected and transformed my life that I know He is real and I know that He is my rock and my fortress, my ever present help in time of need. Be it while I was in university and he called me to draw closer and get confirmed. Be it in 2000 when He drew me to a Christmas production and our new church home. Be it in 2001 when I realized it wasn’t about religion or rituals, but about relationship with Him. Be it in 2001 when I was saved! Be it in 2001 when He lead me to get involved in my community! Be it in 2002 when He prompted me to step up to be president. Be it in 2003 when I became president. Be it in 2004 when I was blessed with many changes including my 2nd daughter, my dream from when I was 8 years old, a new job. Be it in 2005, when I considered starting a blog but in my prayer time He told me it was supposed to be public and not just a private place for me to share pictures of my family with family and friends (which is now from2005toeternity.com). Be it 2007 when the fulfillment of a promise when I asked God if I would have 4 daughters or if I would have a son and in that day’s reading it spoke about Abraham and the promised son Isaac and that year I received His promised son and I named him Isaac. There are so many more instances, some at high peaks and others in valley lows , but in and through them all He is real and He is present. Even now a  year after He promised me when I made the change after 19yrs and 1day to a new company that the 2nd half of my life would be 2x as good as the first. I remember my last day on my old job reading Job 42:12 and thinking “Wow, how incredible God is and what an incredible message to receive stepping out in faith into this new role, new company in alignment with His will”. There are many more things thanks to God. But because it is a relationship thing, not a routine, not a ritual, not just going through the motions, it has put my feet on solid ground and built a strong conviction in God within me.


 

This morning’s reading comes from 1 Thessalonians 1-2, and Psalm 24. I don’t just read God’s Word so I can blog, or out of routine, but because it is His living Word that speaks to me daily. I don’t pick what to read, but at the beginning of  the year I pick a devotional (now I pick one every time the previous devotional ends – on day 324 today) and this has allowed God to put whatever reading He wants for me. It always speaks into my very situation and speaks encouragement, hope, truth. I know use http://bible.com as my source of the Word, but I have many versions of printed versions as over the years it hasn’t always been possible to do it online. It has a mobile app too for phones and tablets which helps be have it and read it, even on days when I am not able to blog so that I can fill up my tank with God’s Word before I start my day.

1I, Paul, together here with Silas and Timothy, send greetings to the church at Thessalonica, Christians assembled by God the Father and by the Master, Jesus Christ. God’s amazing grace be with you! God’s robust peace!

Convictions of Steel

2-5Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.
5-6You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great joy from the Holy Spirit!—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble.
7-10Do you know that all over the provinces of both Macedonia and Achaia believers look up to you? The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore—you’re the message! People come up and tell us how you received us with open arms, how you deserted the dead idols of your old life so you could embrace and serve God, the true God. They marvel at how expectantly you await the arrival of his Son, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom.
— 1 Thessalonian 1
1-2So, friends, it’s obvious that our visit to you was no waste of time. We had just been given rough treatment in Philippi, as you know, but that didn’t slow us down. We were sure of ourselves in God, and went right ahead and said our piece, presenting God’s Message to you, defiant of the opposition.

No Hidden Agendas

3-5God tested us thoroughly to make sure we were qualified to be trusted with this Message. Be assured that when we speak to you we’re not after crowd approval—only God approval. Since we’ve been put through that battery of tests, you’re guaranteed that both we and the Message are free of error, mixed motives, or hidden agendas. We never used words to butter you up. No one knows that better than you. And God knows we never used words as a smoke screen to take advantage of you.
6-8Even though we had some standing as Christ’s apostles, we never threw our weight around or tried to come across as important, with you or anyone else. We weren’t aloof with you. We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did.
9-12You remember us in those days, friends, working our fingers to the bone, up half the night, moonlighting so you wouldn’t have the burden of supporting us while we proclaimed God’s Message to you. You saw with your own eyes how discreet and courteous we were among you, with keen sensitivity to you as fellow believers. And God knows we weren’t freeloaders! You experienced it all firsthand. With each of you we were like a father with his child, holding your hand, whispering encouragement, showing you step-by-step how to live well before God, who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life.
13And now we look back on all this and thank God, an artesian well of thanks! When you got the Message of God we preached, you didn’t pass it off as just one more human opinion, but you took it to heart as God’s true word to you, which it is, God himself at work in you believers!
14-16Friends, do you realize that you followed in the exact footsteps of the churches of God in Judea, those who were the first to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ? You got the same bad treatment from your countrymen as they did from theirs, the Jews who killed the Master Jesus (to say nothing of the prophets) and followed it up by running us out of town. They make themselves offensive to God and everyone else by trying to keep us from telling people who’ve never heard of our God how to be saved. They’ve made a career of opposing God, and have gotten mighty good at it. But God is fed up, ready to put an end to it.
17-20Do you have any idea how very homesick we became for you, dear friends? Even though it hadn’t been that long and it was only our bodies that were separated from you, not our hearts, we tried our very best to get back to see you. You can’t imagine how much we missed you! I, Paul, tried over and over to get back, but Satan stymied us each time. Who do you think we’re going to be proud of when our Master Jesus appears if it’s not you? You’re our pride and joy!
— 1 Thessalonian 2

 

A David Psalm

1-2God claims Earth and everything in it,
God claims World and all who live on it.
He built it on Ocean foundations,
laid it out on River girders.
3-4Who can climb Mount God?
Who can scale the holy north-face?
Only the clean-handed,
only the pure-hearted;
Men who won’t cheat,
women who won’t seduce.
5-6God is at their side;
with God’s help they make it.
This, Jacob, is what happens
to God-seekers, God-questers.
7Wake up, you sleepyhead city!
Wake up, you sleepyhead people!
King-Glory is ready to enter.
8Who is this King-Glory?
God, armed
and battle-ready.
9Wake up, you sleepyhead city!
Wake up, you sleepyhead people!
King-Glory is ready to enter.
10Who is this King-Glory?
God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
he is King-Glory.
— Psalm 24

Do you need help with directions?


Wondering where your next step should be? Wondering which direction to head? Wondering which way to turn? Wondering what way to go? Need help? What’s the plan? What’s the message? What’s the purpose? Turn to God and ask Him for wisdom, help, direction, discernment, a plan. We may come up with a plan but God will direct our path! God’s ways may not be our ways, however, His ways are better than our ways! Listen attentively to His direction! Be obedient to His calling on your life! See His hand do incredible things in and through your life!

1-3Paul came first to Derbe, then Lystra. He found a disciple there by the name of Timothy, son of a devout Jewish mother and Greek father. Friends in Lystra and Iconium all said what a fine young man he was. Paul wanted to recruit him for their mission, but first took him aside and circumcised him so he wouldn’t offend the Jews who lived in those parts. They all knew that his father was Greek.
4-5As they traveled from town to town, they presented the simple guidelines the Jerusalem apostles and leaders had come up with. That turned out to be most helpful. Day after day the congregations became stronger in faith and larger in size.
6-8They went to Phrygia, and then on through the region of Galatia. Their plan was to turn west into Asia province, but the Holy Spirit blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them go there either. Proceeding on through Mysia, they went down to the seaport Troas.
9-10That night Paul had a dream: A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” The dream gave Paul his map. We went to work at once getting things ready to cross over to Macedonia. All the pieces had come together. We knew now for sure that God had called us to preach the good news to the Europeans.
11-12Putting out from the harbor at Troas, we made a straight run for Samothrace. The next day we tied up at New City and walked from there to Philippi, the main city in that part of Macedonia and, even more importantly, a Roman colony. We lingered there several days.
13-14On the Sabbath, we left the city and went down along the river where we had heard there was to be a prayer meeting. We took our place with the women who had gathered there and talked with them. One woman, Lydia, was from Thyatira and a dealer in expensive textiles, known to be a God-fearing woman. As she listened with intensity to what was being said, the Master gave her a trusting heart—and she believed!
15After she was baptized, along with everyone in her household, she said in a surge of hospitality, “If you’re confident that I’m in this with you and believe in the Master truly, come home with me and be my guests.” We hesitated, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer.
— Acts 16

 

Just because you do something that takes a burden off someone’s shoulder doesn’t mean everyone will be happy about it! Know who you are! Remember who sent you! Worship God in the sun and in the storm! Let the joy of the Lord flow out of you that others may come to know the hope that is within you. Let the worship of the Lord open eyes and hearts to receive the message of Jesus Christ. Stay where God wants you to be, He will get you through it. Be the instrument God wants to use to forward His plan and purpose. Let your light shine! Like a city on a Hill! Like a lighthouse that warns about the traps that are around you. Focus on God’s will and plan for you! You may be the one that saves the life of one or the lives of many. Don’t allow the devil to rob you of your joy and hope that is inside of you. Make sure you know who you are dealing with before you get yourself into hot water!

16-18One day, on our way to the place of prayer, a slave girl ran into us. She was a psychic and, with her fortunetelling, made a lot of money for the people who owned her. She started following Paul around, calling everyone’s attention to us by yelling out, “These men are working for the Most High God. They’re laying out the road of salvation for you!” She did this for a number of days until Paul, finally fed up with her, turned and commanded the spirit that possessed her, “Out! In the name of Jesus Christ, get out of her!” And it was gone, just like that.
19-22When her owners saw that their lucrative little business was suddenly bankrupt, they went after Paul and Silas, roughed them up and dragged them into the market square. Then the police arrested them and pulled them into a court with the accusation, “These men are disturbing the peace—dangerous Jewish agitators subverting our Roman law and order.” By this time the crowd had turned into a restless mob out for blood.
22-24The judges went along with the mob, had Paul and Silas’s clothes ripped off and ordered a public beating. After beating them black-and-blue, they threw them into jail, telling the jailkeeper to put them under heavy guard so there would be no chance of escape. He did just that—threw them into the maximum security cell in the jail and clamped leg irons on them.
25-26Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God. The other prisoners couldn’t believe their ears. Then, without warning, a huge earthquake! The jailhouse tottered, every door flew open, all the prisoners were loose.
27-28Startled from sleep, the jailer saw all the doors swinging loose on their hinges. Assuming that all the prisoners had escaped, he pulled out his sword and was about to do himself in, figuring he was as good as dead anyway, when Paul stopped him: “Don’t do that! We’re all still here! Nobody’s run away!”
29-31The jailer got a torch and ran inside. Badly shaken, he collapsed in front of Paul and Silas. He led them out of the jail and asked, “Sirs, what do I have to do to be saved, to really live?” They said, “Put your entire trust in the Master Jesus. Then you’ll live as you were meant to live—and everyone in your house included!”
32-34They went on to spell out in detail the story of the Master—the entire family got in on this part. They never did get to bed that night. The jailer made them feel at home, dressed their wounds, and then—he couldn’t wait till morning!—was baptized, he and everyone in his family. There in his home, he had food set out for a festive meal. It was a night to remember: He and his entire family had put their trust in God; everyone in the house was in on the celebration.
35-36At daybreak, the court judges sent officers with the instructions, “Release these men.” The jailer gave Paul the message, “The judges sent word that you’re free to go on your way. Congratulations! Go in peace!”
37But Paul wouldn’t budge. He told the officers, “They beat us up in public and threw us in jail, Roman citizens in good standing! And now they want to get us out of the way on the sly without anyone knowing? Nothing doing! If they want us out of here, let them come themselves and lead us out in broad daylight.”
38-40When the officers reported this, the judges panicked. They had no idea that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. They hurried over and apologized, personally escorted them from the jail, and then asked them if they wouldn’t please leave the city. Walking out of the jail, Paul and Silas went straight to Lydia’s house, saw their friends again, encouraged them in the faith, and only then went on their way.
— Acts 16

 

God will give you a stage! God will give you a platform! Will you step up? Will you step in? Will you speak what He has for you to say? This is the day that the Lord has made, so let’s rejoice and be glad in it!

Thessalonica
1-3They took the road south through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica, where there was a community of Jews. Paul went to their meeting place, as he usually did when he came to a town, and for three Sabbaths running he preached to them from the Scriptures. He opened up the texts so they understood what they’d been reading all their lives: that the Messiah absolutely had to be put to death and raised from the dead—there were no other options—and that “this Jesus I’m introducing you to is that Messiah.”
4-5Some of them were won over and joined ranks with Paul and Silas, among them a great many God-fearing Greeks and a considerable number of women from the aristocracy. But the hard-line Jews became furious over the conversions. Mad with jealousy, they rounded up a bunch of brawlers off the streets and soon had an ugly mob terrorizing the city as they hunted down Paul and Silas.
5-7They broke into Jason’s house, thinking that Paul and Silas were there. When they couldn’t find them, they collared Jason and his friends instead and dragged them before the city fathers, yelling hysterically, “These people are out to destroy the world, and now they’ve shown up on our doorstep, attacking everything we hold dear! And Jason is hiding them, these traitors and turncoats who say Jesus is king and Caesar is nothing!”
8-9The city fathers and the crowd of people were totally alarmed by what they heard. They made Jason and his friends post heavy bail and let them go while they investigated the charges.
Berea
10-12That night, under cover of darkness, their friends got Paul and Silas out of town as fast as they could. They sent them to Berea, where they again met with the Jewish community. They were treated a lot better there than in Thessalonica. The Jews received Paul’s message with enthusiasm and met with him daily, examining the Scriptures to see if they supported what he said. A lot of them became believers, including many Greeks who were prominent in the community, women and men of influence.
13-15But it wasn’t long before reports got back to the Thessalonian hard-line Jews that Paul was at it again, preaching the Word of God, this time in Berea. They lost no time responding, and created a mob scene there, too. With the help of his friends, Paul gave them the slip—caught a boat and put out to sea. Silas and Timothy stayed behind. The men who helped Paul escape got him as far as Athens and left him there. Paul sent word back with them to Silas and Timothy: “Come as quickly as you can!”
Athens
16The longer Paul waited in Athens for Silas and Timothy, the angrier he got—all those idols! The city was a junkyard of idols.
17-18He discussed it with the Jews and other like-minded people at their meeting place. And every day he went out on the streets and talked with anyone who happened along. He got to know some of the Epicurean and Stoic intellectuals pretty well through these conversations. Some of them dismissed him with sarcasm: “What an airhead!” But others, listening to him go on about Jesus and the resurrection, were intrigued: “That’s a new slant on the gods. Tell us more.”
19-21These people got together and asked him to make a public presentation over at the Areopagus, where things were a little quieter. They said, “This is a new one on us. We’ve never heard anything quite like it. Where did you come up with this anyway? Explain it so we can understand.” Downtown Athens was a great place for gossip. There were always people hanging around, natives and tourists alike, waiting for the latest tidbit on most anything.
22-23So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them. “It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously. When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. And then I found one inscribed, to the god nobody knows. I’m here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you’re dealing with.
24-29“The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’ Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it?
30-31“God overlooks it as long as you don’t know any better—but that time is past. The unknown is now known, and he’s calling for a radical life-change. He has set a day when the entire human race will be judged and everything set right. And he has already appointed the judge, confirming him before everyone by raising him from the dead.”
32-34At the phrase “raising him from the dead,” the listeners split: Some laughed at him and walked off making jokes; others said, “Let’s do this again. We want to hear more.” But that was it for the day, and Paul left. There were still others, it turned out, who were convinced then and there, and stuck with Paul—among them Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris.
— Acts 17

GOD’S LOVE NEVER QUITS!!

1-3Thank God! He deserves your thanks.
His love never quits.
Thank the God of all gods,
His love never quits.
Thank the Lord of all lords.
His love never quits.
4-22Thank the miracle-working God,
His love never quits.
The God whose skill formed the cosmos,
His love never quits.
The God who laid out earth on ocean foundations,
His love never quits.
The God who filled the skies with light,
His love never quits.
The sun to watch over the day,
His love never quits.
Moon and stars as guardians of the night,
His love never quits.
The God who struck down the Egyptian firstborn,
His love never quits.
And rescued Israel from Egypt’s oppression,
His love never quits.
Took Israel in hand with his powerful hand,
His love never quits.
Split the Red Sea right in half,
His love never quits.
Led Israel right through the middle,
His love never quits.
Dumped Pharaoh and his army in the sea,
His love never quits.
The God who marched his people through the desert,
His love never quits.
Smashed huge kingdoms right and left,
His love never quits.
Struck down the famous kings,
His love never quits.
Struck Sihon the Amorite king,
His love never quits.
Struck Og the Bashanite king,
His love never quits.
Then distributed their land as booty,
His love never quits.
Handed the land over to Israel.
His love never quits.
23-26God remembered us when we were down,
His love never quits.
Rescued us from the trampling boot,
His love never quits.
Takes care of everyone in time of need.
His love never quits.
Thank God, who did it all!
His love never quits!
— Psalm 136

It doesn’t take a lot to make a big difference!


Do you have any? Even just a little bit? What are you going to do with it? What are you doing with it? Do you realize the potential is? Even if you only have a little bit? Don’t give up! Don’t quit! There is hope even when you only have a little! A little hope is huge! A little forgiveness is huge! A little faith is huge!


 

If we start with the story of a poppy seed or mustard seed – so small but a big example we read:

1-2He said to his disciples, “Hard trials and temptations are bound to come, but too bad for whoever brings them on! Better to wear a millstone necklace and take a swim in the deep blue sea than give even one of these dear little ones a hard time!
3-4“Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him. Even if it’s personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,’ forgive him.”
5The apostles came up and said to the Master, “Give us more faith.”
6But the Master said, “You don’t need more faith. There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it would do it.
7-10“Suppose one of you has a servant who comes in from plowing the field or tending the sheep. Would you take his coat, set the table, and say, ‘Sit down and eat’? Wouldn’t you be more likely to say, ‘Prepare dinner; change your clothes and wait table for me until I’ve finished my coffee; then go to the kitchen and have your supper’? Does the servant get special thanks for doing what’s expected of him? It’s the same with you. When you’ve done everything expected of you, be matter-of-fact and say, ‘The work is done. What we were told to do, we did.’”
11-13It happened that as he made his way toward Jerusalem, he crossed over the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten men, all lepers, met him. They kept their distance but raised their voices, calling out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
14-16Taking a good look at them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”
They went, and while still on their way, became clean. One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough—and he was a Samaritan.
17-19Jesus said, “Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?” Then he said to him, “Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you.”
— Luke 17

In other versions it speaks of a mustard seed instead:

5 The apostles said to the Lord, Increase our faith (that trust and confidence that spring from our belief in God). 6 And the Lord answered, If you had faith (trust and confidence in God) even [so small] like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, Be pulled up by the roots, and be planted in the sea, and it would obey you.
–Luke 17 (AMP)

So have faith, allow that little bit of hope and faith within you to kindle a new fire, a revival fire within you that will prepare you to help transform the world around you. Don’t give up! There is so much more to come.

Don’t be fooled! In God’s Word, we know how Jesus is going to come back, so don’t allow frauds or fakes to trick you into thinking otherwise. Many will try to trick you, but stick with a good crew who are teaching God’s Word from God’s Word and not their own ideas! When the time comes, don’t turn back! As I say sometimes in my own house, no going back, only going forward! 🙂

20-21Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.”
22-24He went on to say to his disciples, “The days are coming when you are going to be desperately homesick for just a glimpse of one of the days of the Son of Man, and you won’t see a thing. And they’ll say to you, ‘Look over there!’ or, ‘Look here!’ Don’t fall for any of that nonsense. The arrival of the Son of Man is not something you go out to see. He simply comes.
24-25You know how the whole sky lights up from a single flash of lightning? That’s how it will be on the Day of the Son of Man. But first it’s necessary that he suffer many things and be turned down by the people of today.
26-27The time of the Son of Man will be just like the time of Noah—everyone carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ship. They suspected nothing until the flood hit and swept everything away.
28-30It was the same in the time of Lot—the people carrying on, having a good time, business as usual right up to the day Lot walked out of Sodom and a firestorm swept down and burned everything to a crisp. That’s how it will be—sudden, total—when the Son of Man is revealed.
31-33“When the Day arrives and you’re out working in the yard, don’t run into the house to get anything. And if you’re out in the field, don’t go back and get your coat. Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you’ll lose it, but if you let that life go, you’ll get life on God’s terms.
34-35“On that Day, two men will be in the same boat fishing—one taken, the other left. Two women will be working in the same kitchen—one taken, the other left.”
37Trying to take all this in, the disciples said, “Master, where?”
He told them, “Watch for the circling of the vultures. They’ll spot the corpse first. The action will begin around my dead body.”
— Luke 17

Pray without ceasing! Don’t give up! Keep asking! Keep seeking! Keep knocking! Don’t give up!

1-3Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, “There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’
4-5“He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’”
6-8Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”
— Luke 18

Do you want to be right with God? Do you want to look all that or really be ok?

9-12He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’
13“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”
14Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.
15-17People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.”
— Luke 18

Do you really want to have eternal life? Do you really want to live with God forever?

Where your treasure is so will your heart be. What’s impossible for man is possible with God! Don’t give up! There is still hope! Have faith even if it is small! Trust in Him!

18One day one of the local officials asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to deserve eternal life?”
19-20Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good—only God. You know the commandments, don’t you? No illicit sex, no killing, no stealing, no lying, honor your father and mother.”
21He said, “I’ve kept them all for as long as I can remember.”
22When Jesus heard that, he said, “Then there’s only one thing left to do: Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23This was the last thing the official expected to hear. He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go.
24-25Seeing his reaction, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who have it all to enter God’s kingdom? I’d say it’s easier to thread a camel through a needle’s eye than get a rich person into God’s kingdom.”
26“Then who has any chance at all?” the others asked.
27“No chance at all,” Jesus said, “if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”
28Peter tried to regain some initiative: “We left everything we owned and followed you, didn’t we?”
29-30“Yes,” said Jesus, “and you won’t regret it. No one who has sacrificed home, spouse, brothers and sisters, parents, children—whatever—will lose out. It will all come back multiplied many times over in your lifetime. And then the bonus of eternal life!”
— Luke 18

God wants us to get it! God wants us to understand! God wants to take that little seed of faith and help it grow! That’s why He gave us His Word!

31-34Then Jesus took the Twelve off to the side and said, “Listen carefully. We’re on our way up to Jerusalem. Everything written in the Prophets about the Son of Man will take place. He will be handed over to the Romans, jeered at, made sport of, and spit on. Then, after giving him the third degree, they will kill him. In three days he will rise, alive.” But they didn’t get it, could make neither heads nor tails of what he was talking about.
— Luke 18

Don’t just be quiet! Go after it like you can’t live without it! Allow that little seed of faith to prompt you and lead you and guide you! Allow your life to be transformed because you go after it like it matters!

35-37He came to the outskirts of Jericho. A blind man was sitting beside the road asking for handouts. When he heard the rustle of the crowd, he asked what was going on. They told him, “Jesus the Nazarene is going by.”
38He yelled, “Jesus! Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!”
39Those ahead of Jesus told the man to shut up, but he only yelled all the louder, “Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!”
40Jesus stopped and ordered him to be brought over. When he had come near, Jesus asked, “What do you want from me?”
41He said, “Master, I want to see again.”
42-43Jesus said, “Go ahead—see again! Your faith has saved and healed you!” The healing was instant: He looked up, seeing—and then followed Jesus, glorifying God. Everyone in the street joined in, shouting praise to God.
— Luke 18

So today is the day that the Lord has made, let’s rejoice and be glad in it! Let’s meditate on His Word daily! His Word will speak to us right where we are at! Don’t just sit on the side of the road, but let’s pursue after Him so that we can be touched and transformed so that we can live the life that He so planned and desired for us to live! It doesn’t take a lot, and we have to step out with what we have to allow His miraculous touch to transform our life and the lives of those around us. Don’t be held back by fear, rather step out in faith and see God’s hand work in and through your life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing is too big for God!


Ever been in a situation where what was in front of you seemed so big that you weren’t sure how you were going to make it? Ever been in a situation where what was in front of you was so big that you knew the only way you could make it was if God showed up? Notice the difference in perspective? Notice the difference in focus? Where are you looking? What are you focusing on? Where are you putting your hope and trust? Do you need help? Do you want to believe? Nothing is impossible for God!

Have you ever heard about the mustard seed?

31Another parable He put forth to them, saying:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field,32which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
— Matthew 13
20So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.21However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
— Matthew 17

It doesn’t take a lot and if you are struggling, turn to God and ask for help! Consider what happened when a man was asked if He believed:

17Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. 18And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.” 19He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.”20Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. 21So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
23Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
24Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
25When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!”26Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” 27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.
28And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”
29So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
— Mark 9

Have you ever heard about the odds of a wealthy person getting into heaven? Nothing is impossible with God!

23Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.24And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
— Matthew 19

God is never late! God’s timing is perfect! His glory and is power are reveal in His timing! People may start to lose hope or faith because they think God is late. People may say things or act out because they think that God didn’t show up! Don’t give up! Don’t give in! Don’t lost hope! Don’t lose faith! Put your trust in God! In today’s reading (John 11-12, Psalm 112), we see such a situation when Jesus didn’t make it back in time while Lazarus was only sick. But God had other plans, He wasn’t late, He was right on time for all He wanted to accomplish in and through this event.

1-3A man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. This was the same Mary who massaged the Lord’s feet with aromatic oils and then wiped them with her hair. It was her brother Lazarus who was sick. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Master, the one you love so very much is sick.”
4When Jesus got the message, he said, “This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son.”
5-7Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, but oddly, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed on where he was for two more days. After the two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”
8They said, “Rabbi, you can’t do that. The Jews are out to kill you, and you’re going back?”
9-10Jesus replied, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in daylight doesn’t stumble because there’s plenty of light from the sun. Walking at night, he might very well stumble because he can’t see where he’s going.”
11He said these things, and then announced, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I’m going to wake him up.”
12-13The disciples said, “Master, if he’s gone to sleep, he’ll get a good rest and wake up feeling fine.” Jesus was talking about death, while his disciples thought he was talking about taking a nap.
14-15Then Jesus became explicit: “Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.”
16That’s when Thomas, the one called the Twin, said to his companions, “Come along. We might as well die with him.”
17-20When Jesus finally got there, he found Lazarus already four days dead. Bethany was near Jerusalem, only a couple of miles away, and many of the Jews were visiting Martha and Mary, sympathizing with them over their brother. Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house.
21-22Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.”
23Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.”
24Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”
25-26“You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”
27“Yes, Master. All along I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God who comes into the world.”
28After saying this, she went to her sister Mary and whispered in her ear, “The Teacher is here and is asking for you.”
29-32The moment she heard that, she jumped up and ran out to him. Jesus had not yet entered the town but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When her sympathizing Jewish friends saw Mary run off, they followed her, thinking she was on her way to the tomb to weep there. Mary came to where Jesus was waiting and fell at his feet, saying, “Master, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33-34When Jesus saw her sobbing and the Jews with her sobbing, a deep anger welled up within him. He said, “Where did you put him?”
34-35“Master, come and see,” they said. Now Jesus wept.
36The Jews said, “Look how deeply he loved him.”
37Others among them said, “Well, if he loved him so much, why didn’t he do something to keep him from dying? After all, he opened the eyes of a blind man.”
38-39Then Jesus, the anger again welling up within him, arrived at the tomb. It was a simple cave in the hillside with a slab of stone laid against it. Jesus said, “Remove the stone.”
The sister of the dead man, Martha, said, “Master, by this time there’s a stench. He’s been dead four days!”
40Jesus looked her in the eye. “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
41-42Then, to the others, “Go ahead, take away the stone.”
They removed the stone. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, “Father, I’m grateful that you have listened to me. I know you always do listen, but on account of this crowd standing here I’ve spoken so that they might believe that you sent me.”
43-44Then he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And he came out, a cadaver, wrapped from head to toe, and with a kerchief over his face.
Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him loose.”

Have you blocked the opening where you thought it was good as gone or dead? Would you ask God if he were to resurrect it? Would you remove the blockage and open up that door again? Do you realize that nothing is impossible with God and for God? Don’t lose hope, put your trust in God! Do you need Jesus to do something big in your life? Do you believe He can? Ask Him to help your unbelief if you are struggling and allow Him to do the miraculous in and through your life! Luck won’t help, but miracles is where the power is found!

Are you encouraging and pressing God’s plans forward? Are you trying to stop or get in the way so that people won’t believe? Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light! Share what He is doing and has done in your life with those around you so that you can build up their faith! Victory is won by the blood of the lamb of God, Jesus the Christ, and by the words of our testimonies. So let’s work together with Jesus to help save lives from the pit of hell, from the grip of the deceiver, from the lies of the devil and bring them into the light of life where they can spend eternity with God rather than separated from Him for all of eternity. Even when others are plotting, God’s hand is at work. He can get people to say things that later will prove the point. Jesus came as the lamb of God, the final offering to reconcile man to God if man would only believe.  We can see this all materialize as we continue into God’s Word for today’s reading:

45-48That was a turnaround for many of the Jews who were with Mary. They saw what Jesus did, and believed in him. But some went back to the Pharisees and told on Jesus. The high priests and Pharisees called a meeting of the Jewish ruling body. “What do we do now?” they asked. “This man keeps on doing things, creating God-signs. If we let him go on, pretty soon everyone will be believing in him and the Romans will come and remove what little power and privilege we still have.”
49-52Then one of them—it was Caiaphas, the designated Chief Priest that year—spoke up, “Don’t you know anything? Can’t you see that it’s to our advantage that one man dies for the people rather than the whole nation be destroyed?” He didn’t say this of his own accord, but as Chief Priest that year he unwittingly prophesied that Jesus was about to die sacrificially for the nation, and not only for the nation but so that all God’s exile-scattered children might be gathered together into one people.
53-54From that day on, they plotted to kill him. So Jesus no longer went out in public among the Jews. He withdrew into the country bordering the desert to a town called Ephraim and secluded himself there with his disciples.
55-56The Jewish Passover was coming up. Crowds of people were making their way from the country up to Jerusalem to get themselves ready for the Feast. They were curious about Jesus. There was a lot of talk of him among those standing around in the Temple: “What do you think? Do you think he’ll show up at the Feast or not?”
57Meanwhile, the high priests and Pharisees gave out the word that anyone getting wind of him should inform them. They were all set to arrest him.
— John 11

We all have a part. We all have a purpose. We all have a calling on our lives. Ring…Ring…Ring… Will you pick it up? It’s for you. Nobody else, just for you. If you have been walking with Jesus for years, months, days, hours, or you haven’t started yet. Will you pick up the receiver and receive what God has in store for you? Will you hear the message and receive it and take action? Will you pick it up and run with it, walking with Jesus in an intimate relationship so that you don’t have to go it alone? We all have a part. God’s plan is that nobody would miss out. Maybe there are people in your part of the world, the country, the state/province, the county/region that you could be speaking hope and life to. Maybe there are people who need a little bit of light in their lives and you have been put there for such a day and such a time as this!

He came the first time in peace – riding on a donkey. He will be coming back on a white horse for the final battle. He came as the ultimate sacrifice to make a way when there didn’t seem to be a way. He is coming back to shut down the devil’s plots and setup His kingdom through a new heaven and a new earth. We don’t have to wait for His second coming, but can rather receive Him now so that we can live a good life now rather than waiting till we get to Heaven. On this earth we will have troubles, but we don’t have to walk in fear, because Jesus has already overcome the world. Don’t try to wait for the last second, but start your relationship with Jesus today. It’s more than a religion, it’s a relationship! It’s getting to walk and talk with God with every step and every breath of every day! Jesus fulfilled the prophesies! Jesus completed the task He needed to do since none of us can or could do it on our or in our own power. God’s plans are better than our plans, God’s ways are greater than ways.

Life is to be so much more than just a routine. Life is to be so much more than just a busy schedule. Life is to be so much more than just carrying the weight of it all. We read in today’s reading how Jesus explains:

 “Time’s up. The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

24-25“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.
26“If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.
27-28“Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.’”
A voice came out of the sky: “I have glorified it, and I’ll glorify it again.”
29The listening crowd said, “Thunder!”
Others said, “An angel spoke to him!”
30-33Jesus said, “The voice didn’t come for me but for you. At this moment the world is in crisis. Now Satan, the ruler of this world, will be thrown out. And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me.” He put it this way to show how he was going to be put to death.
34Voices from the crowd answered, “We heard from God’s Law that the Messiah lasts forever. How can it be necessary, as you put it, that the Son of Man ‘be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
35-36Jesus said, “For a brief time still, the light is among you. Walk by the light you have so darkness doesn’t destroy you. If you walk in darkness, you don’t know where you’re going. As you have the light, believe in the light. Then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives. You’ll be children of light.”
— John 12

If God brings you to it, He will get you through it! Don’t give up! Don’t give in! Put your trust in God! Allow Him to work in and through your life! Glorify Him in how you live and what you say! Let’s live lives that give Him all the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Are you more interested in the approval of God or the approval of men? What is going to manage/control the things you do and say? What is going to be your motivation for moving forward? Do you believe enough to live it?

41Isaiah said these things after he got a glimpse of God’s cascading brightness that would pour through the Messiah.
42-43On the other hand, a considerable number from the ranks of the leaders did believe. But because of the Pharisees, they didn’t come out in the open with it. They were afraid of getting kicked out of the meeting place. When push came to shove they cared more for human approval than for God’s glory.
44-46Jesus summed it all up when he cried out, “Whoever believes in me, believes not just in me but in the One who sent me. Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark.
47-50“If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him. I didn’t come to reject the world; I came to save the world. But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I’m saying, is willfully choosing rejection. The Word, the Word-made-flesh that I have spoken and that I am, that Word and no other is the last word. I’m not making any of this up on my own. The Father who sent me gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it. And I know exactly what his command produces: real and eternal life. That’s all I have to say. What the Father told me, I tell you.”
— John 12

So today is the day that the Lord has made, let’s rejoice and be glad in it! Let’s hold onto Jesus and step out in faith trusting and obeying what He speaks to us! Let’s pick up that phone that is a calling for each of us. We each have something specific God has planned for us to be a part of that is s much greater than anything we could have done on our own.

God won’t give you more than you can handle…are you adding more?


At lunch with a friend yesterday this very topic came up. He was sharing how God had spoken to him about not everything we get is from Him, but that we add to it ourselves. He mentioned about how insurance policies speak about “acts of God” and that how about 98% of the events can be traced back to somebody, leaving 2%. The example of New Orleans also came up in that the waves and the storms will come, but God never told anybody to build a city below sea level. In this morning’s reading from Matthew 19-20, Psalm 94, this topic was revealed to me as well when the Pharisee’s were questioning Jesus and His response to them was:

…a concession to your hard heartedness, but it is not part of God’s original plan. — Matthew 19

Everything we are facing isn’t always because it was God’s will or part of God’s original plan. So we need to seek wisdom first rather than trying to figure it out on own later. If we had of asked for wisdom first, it may not have been easy, but it would have been in alignment with God’s perfect plan and purpose. If He brings you to it then He will bring you through it.

God’s Word bring up the gateway to Heaven. We should be helping people get into His presence and not trying to prevent them or getting in the way.

13-15One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left.
16Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.”
18-19The man asked, “What in particular?”
Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.”
20The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?”
21“If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”
22That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.
23-24As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom? Let me tell you, it’s easier to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom.”
25The disciples were staggered. “Then who has any chance at all?”
26Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”
27Then Peter chimed in, “We left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?”
28-30Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”Matthew 19

Nothing is too difficult for God! Things that seem impossible to us – are in our own power – but with God nothing is impossible! It’s not God+, it’s just God that we need to have in our lives. The question, do you want to be first or last? Will you push to the front of the line and then realize they switch the direction and now you are at the end? Will you be willing to allow others ahead of yourself? Will you think of others before yourself? Selfless rather than selfish?

Are you going to be stingy or generous? Are people good to their word or will they try to get more?

1-2“God’s kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work.
3-5“Later, about nine o’clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage. They went.
5-6“He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o’clock. At five o’clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, ‘Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?’
7“They said, ‘Because no one hired us.’
“He told them to go to work in his vineyard.
8“When the day’s work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, ‘Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.’
9-12“Those hired at five o’clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, ‘These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.’
13-15“He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’
16“Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”Matthew 20

Don’t let power and influence go to your heads! Whatever influence you have received, use it to serve others! Be A Servant Leader!

20It was about that time that the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request.
21“What do you want?” Jesus asked.
She said, “Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand.”
22Jesus responded, “You have no idea what you’re asking.” And he said to James and John, “Are you capable of drinking the cup that I’m about to drink?”
They said, “Sure, why not?”
23Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you are going to drink my cup. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. My Father is taking care of that.”
24-28When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers. So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”Matthew 20

Jesus is the ultimate servant leader. He gave everything for the opportunity for us to be saved from the fiery pits of hell as our final destination. What type of leader do you want to be? What type of leader are you being? How does that align with the ultimate leader?

Do you want it? Do you really, really want it? What if there were resistance how would you respond? What if they were shushing you?

29-31As they were leaving Jericho, a huge crowd followed. Suddenly they came upon two blind men sitting alongside the road. When they heard it was Jesus passing, they cried out, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!” The crowd tried to hush them up, but they got all the louder, crying, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!”
32Jesus stopped and called over, “What do you want from me?”
33They said, “Master, we want our eyes opened. We want to see!”
34Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back that very instant, and joined the procession. — Matthew 20

Will you go after it with faith, trusting and believing in God no matter what the naysayers have to say? Will you put all your hope and trust in Jesus because you know that He is the way, the truth, and the life, the only way to the Father? Will you get louder? Will you get more passionate? Will you care enough for others to help them get there too? Will be more interested in sharing the good news with others than with puffing yourself up? Will you be more interested in sharing the hope with the hopeless than keeping it to yourself? Every day we are faced with choices. Every day we have to make decisions. Make sure you have your bearings straight and your heart in the right place because others are watching you and needing you. Help reflect the love of Jesus into the lives of those around you so that in and through it all He will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name.

Where are you focused?


There is so much going on. There are so many things that could be getting your attention. There are so many things competing for your attention and your time. Are you on the look out? Are you following something or someone? What do you have your eye on?


This morning’s reading starts with the title “The Whole World Has Its Eyes on God“.

Do you have something that you are keeping your eyes on so that you know where you are going? Do you have a destination you are wanting to get to and have a north star or something that you are using to get there? Are you keeping your eye on God so that you can follow after Him? What are you expecting? What are you anticipating? What are you hoping?

The next title speaks to Jesus riding in on a donkey. Kings tend to come on donkeys in peace and horse for battle. Jesus’ first visit had Him on a donkey that Palm Sunday with people shouting and speaking prophesy. Today’s reading speaks to it this way:

9-10“Shout and cheer, Daughter Zion! Raise the roof, Daughter Jerusalem! Your king is coming!
a good king who makes all things right, a humble king riding a donkey, a mere colt of a donkey.
I’ve had it with war—no more chariots in Ephraim, no more war horses in Jerusalem, no more swords and spears, bows and arrows. He will offer peace to the nations, a peaceful rule worldwide, from the four winds to the seven seas. — Zechariah 9:9-10

When I think of the colt of a donkey on Palm Sunday, I also reflect on His second coming when He will be coming back to claim what is His, what is already His and finish the battle with Satan. He will be on a horse that time and ready for battle. The first time He came to fulfill the law and to open the doorway to reconciliation with God for the sins of the world. So that everyone who will receive Him, who will accept Him as their Lord and Savior, who will follow after Him. As we read in John 3:16, God loves us, He sent Jesus to save us not to condemn us. So now we need to keep our eyes on Him. God’s Word also speaks to us being prepared:

  • I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple. — 2 Timothy 4:1-2
  • Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. — Ephesians 6:13-18
  • With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort. — 1 Corinthians 15:58
  • You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected. — Mathew 24:44
  • 13Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 16But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong! — 1 Peter 3:13-17

There are many more. Trying to find a list, I found this link that you can check out.

The chapter finishes with the Jesus on a horse, the one who will fight and win the war of all wars. The war for the souls.

14-17Then God will come into view, his arrows flashing like lightning! Master God will blast his trumpet and set out in a whirlwind. God-of-the-Angel-Armies will protect them—all-out war, The war to end all wars, no holds barred. Their God will save the day. He’ll rescue them. They’ll become like sheep, gentle and soft, Or like gemstones in a crown, catching all the colors of the sun. Then how they’ll shine! shimmer! glow! the young men robust, the young women lovely! — Zechariah 9:14-17

Let’s pray for those who are lost, sheep without a shepherd. Let’s pray that the truth and hope that comes from a living relationship with Jesus can be brought into their hearts. Let’s pray that lives will be reset and returned under the hand and covering of God. Let’s pray that our light, our words, our actions will point people to the one true God in a transformational way that will and does save. Jesus came to be the shepherd. He came to show us the way. He is the truth, the way, and the life, nobody gets to the Father except through Him. There aren’t many ways. There is but one way.

As I get into chapter 11, an interesting question comes to mind. Do they really care about you? Who is over you? Do they care? Or are they just wanting to get what they can and move on? It’s interesting to see what the difference looks like. It’s interesting to experience what the difference feels like.

Take a look around, are people trying to get rid of something? Something important and real? Something that should be the highest priority? Is there an attack going on against the way? Are they preparing the world for a time of battle? Are they preparing the world for a time of reset? Do you see that there is a battle underway? Do you see there is a battle going on right now for your soul? Who is going to stand up and be counted? Who is going to stand in the gap? Or are we headed towards the end? Is the momentum that strong that there is no turning back? Is there still time for a people to come together and try to restore truth, hope, love, justice? What is the purpose? What is the intention? What is the reason for such actions and decisions? Are things being improved or is the average being lowered? Are we headed back up? Are we heading back down? What’s really at the heart of the matter? What is driving people’s actions and decisions? Really… What’s really motivating them? It’s a matter of the heart so let’s inspect what the motive is.

How close are we to the Big Day?

There is only one thing that can wash away the filth, the grime, the sickness, the chains, and it the love of Jesus. It is only by His blood that we can be reconciled back to God, become new and clean in the eyes of God. He is the fountain that will wash away the sin of the world. When the Big Day comes will you be on the right side? Is God your god? Are you part of His people?

Chapter 14, starts with the title “The Day Is Coming”.  What day you may ask? The chapter is clear and starts with:

“God’s Judgment Day is on the way”

It will be an incredible day – Jesus in the lead and an army of angels with Him.

6-7What a Day that will be! No more cold nights—in fact, no more nights! The Day is coming—the timing is God’s—when it will be continuous day. Every evening will be a fresh morning.
8What a Day that will be! Fresh flowing rivers out of Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea, half to the western sea, flowing year-round, summer and winter!
9God will be king over all the earth, one God and only one. What a Day that will be!
10-11The land will stretch out spaciously around Jerusalem—to Geba in the north and Rimmon in the south, with Jerusalem towering at the center, and the commanding city gates—Gate of Benjamin to First Gate to Corner Gate to Hananel Tower to the Royal Winery—ringing the city full of people. Never again will Jerusalem be totally destroyed. From now on it will be a safe city. — Zechariah 14:6-11

Which side will you be on? Are you for Him or against Him?

12-14But this is what will happen to all who fought against Jerusalem: God will visit them with a terrible plague. People’s flesh will rot off their bones while they are walking around; their eyes will rot in their sockets and their tongues in their mouths; people will be dying on their feet! Mass hysteria when that happens—total panic! Fellow soldiers fighting and killing each other—holy terror! And then Judah will jump into the fray! — Zechariah 14:12-14

Today, I lift this day up to God and I ask how I can help and what I can do to point others towards Him. I ask Lord for Your wisdom and favor in what I say and do so that in and through it all, You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory. Help me Lord to be a good ambassador for You. Help me Lord to shine so that others will see that I am just like the moon in the dark sky, reflecting the light of Your Son Jesus my Lord and Savior. Lord, help me today so that in and through it all You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

You are where you are for such a day and such a time as this…


So what are you going to do
with this responsibility
that has been given to you?

 

You have been brought to this place for a reason and purpose.

You have been raised and trained through your life in preparation for this time.

You are faced with something that is transformational and now it’s choice time, or as I have seen and heard a lot lately, It’s Go Time!

 

So what are you going to do
with this responsibility
that has been given to you?

To people come to mind with such a topic Daniel and Esther. Esther is where my morning reading started today. Daniel came to mind because we was taken from the comforts of home and because he and his friends followed God’s rules, great and mighty things took place. From the fiery furnace to the lion’s den. Even when threatened with death because of some sneaky people who tricked the king into making a law that would have Daniel killed if he prayed to God, what did he do? He went up to his room, opened the window and started to pray to God! He was taken, thrown into the lion’s den (to the heart break of the king) and survived. God has a plan and a purpose. God’s plans are not our plans, but His plans are higher than our plans. His ways are better than our ways. In Daniel, we read it play out as follows:

13Then they told the king, “That man Daniel, one of the captives from Judah, is ignoring you and your law. He still prays to his God three times a day.” 14Hearing this, the king was deeply troubled, and he tried to think of a way to save Daniel. He spent the rest of the day looking for a way to get Daniel out of this predicament.

15In the evening the men went together to the king and said, “Your Majesty, you know that according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, no law that the king signs can be changed.”

16So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.” 17A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel. 18Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn’t sleep at all that night. 19Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. 20When he got there, he called out in anguish, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?” 21Daniel answered, “Long live the king! 22My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.”

23The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God. 24Then the king gave orders to arrest the men who had maliciously accused Daniel. He had them thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. The lions leaped on them and tore them apart before they even hit the floor of the den. 25Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you! 26“I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel.

For he is the living God, and he will endure forever.

His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end. 27He rescues and saves his people; he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” 28So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.Daniel 6

 

My morning reading today comes from Esther. A beautiful girl who is taken from a simple life, raised by her cousin and is taken to become the queen. There are times when we will face situations that are bigger than ourselves. It’s not just us that are at risk or in danger, but that we need to step up or step out to help others. It becomes a matter of will we trust God more than we fear man? We need to keep our focus on doing what is right rather than what think is safe. It takes faith to take risks. It takes faith to stand up for what you believe in. It takes faith to do when others won’t. It takes faith to be everything that God desires for you to become.

Through the book of Esther, we learn how Mordecai saves the king’s life. We also learn that because he wouldn’t bow to Haman because God’s Word tells us that he wasn’t supposed to, Haman got upset to the point of getting / tricking the king into passing a law that would kill all the Jewish people. Mordecai let’s Esther know and encourages and speaks to her in love and conviction about what she has to do. She knows about the previous queen who went outside the rules. She knows appearing before the king could mean her life. So, what is she going to do? What would you do? Mordecai remind her the following:

“Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.”

 

So what is she going to do? What would you do? She responds as follows:

“Go and get all the Jews living in Susa together. Fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, either day or night. I and my maids will fast with you. If you will do this, I’ll go to the king, even though it’s forbidden. If I die, I die.”

 

We may not be in a life or death situation. We may not be in a situation where there is such risk necessary. But maybe we are! You have been put here for such a day and such a time as this! Do you know what happened with Esther? Do you want to know the rest of the story?

 

Check out Esther 5 thru 10.

 

She stepped up to be who God was calling her to be. She stepped out of her comfort zone so that God’s will for her life could be accomplished through obedience. She found favor with the king. She saved her people. And God was glorified in and through it all.

 

So what is your story? Where are you at in your life? Are you in such a place and such a time for something bigger than you realize? Will you do what God is calling you to do? Will you allow your trust and hope and faith in God to have you step up and step in to your calling? Is it to start something? Is it to stop something? Is it to say something? Is it …

 

You have been put here for such a day and such a time as this, so what will you choose to do with it?

As a new year dawns…


As I start this new day and consider the last year, all I can say is “Wow!”. There were so many different experiences and feelings. There were so many different responses and changes. There were big changes, happy changes, experiences to share and be open rather than to fear and clam up. There were times to learn and times to prepare. There were times to listen and times to take action. So many changes and God was in them all. He calmed any doubts or fears. He spoke into every question or doubt. He answered when I had questions. He encouraged as I waited.

It started with bad news, but God told me He had my back. He rewarded my behavior and actions better than the company that seemed to turn its back on me. From a previous experience, I knew I had to start it with forgiveness. He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.

Because of God’s love and provision, I was openly sharing how I knew that God was working on something and either things would be fixed and improved or He had something else planned for me. I used it as a testimony of how we don’t have to worry or fear what man can do to us, but rather that we can trust in God and allow the joy that surpasses all understanding to help us get through it all.

I had times of doubt, not in God, but if there was really anyone who cared  or could be trusted. God made it clear that there was by setting divine appointments where people would come in and speak truth, speak care, speak love into the situations.

Then the message about Peter shows up in one of my morning devotionals when get walks on water. As I drive to work I ask God if the company I was working for was the boat and if it was and if I was to get out, that He would grant me wisdom to know which side. I was just about to turn onto the highway after driving over the hill and my phone made it’s texting message that ended up being “get out of the boat“. I knew what that meant. I knew that no matter how things changed at work, my time there was limited and that God was preparing me for the next phase of my career. Since I included the clarity of “which side”, I knew that wasn’t the day, but that night I had to start to prepare. I updated my resume, I updated my LinkedIn profile, and I started to reach out to people who worked at companies where I found jobs of interest and the process began. I went to work each day with the joy of knowing God was with me and that He would never leave me nor forsake me. I knew He was working out a plan for my future and so I did my job the best I could for His Word tells me “work as unto the Lord“, He is the real boss of it all.

Interviews were happening. Preparation was taking place. And then right when I thought I knew which side of the boat, God opened the door with the clear message that He had a different idea. He provided me with every sign, every notice, every encouragement I needed so that I knew which side to get out on. Be it rainbows. Be it songs on the radio. Be it my morning Bible reading. Be it the offer. He knew what He has planned and started so many months earlier and this has been an incredible year and one I wouldn’t want to give up. The valley may be deep and it may not be easy, but when you come out the other side and look back, the things you learn are things you wouldn’t want to give up or give back. What an incredible time it has been in my new role. What an incredible group of people I have been blessed to meet. What an incredible opportunity and challenge faces us. And with God directing my path, I know that even greater things are yet to come.

So today as a new year begins, what do I think? what do I want? what do I think? what do I need? what do I plan? Theses are incredible and powerful questions.

What do I think?

I am blessed by God!

What do I want?

To help share the love of God with my family and friends and those who God will bring across my path.

What do I think?

God, what is it you have for me to do today. No need to worry about tomorrow, today has enough things to keep me busy.

What do I need?

God’s wisdom for every action, every activity, every decision, every moment of every day.

What do I plan?

To have another great year spent with my wife, my kids, and my friends and family trying to love them better and share God’s love with them to a new level. To help those I work with to accomplish even greater things that we could have ever asked for or imagined by the grace of God!

This is the day that the Lord has made, let’s rejoice and be glad in it!

Thank You Jesus!

Love,

Phil


365 Fear Nots: Verse of the Day

Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

1 Peter 2:17 (KJV)

Be of good character and live your life with integrity, treating everyone the same, with dignity. Love your brothers and sisters in Christ and be respectful of authority. Honor and revere the Lord God!

Spurgeon’s Morning Devotional – Day 59 – My Expectation is from God!

5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

Psalm 62:5