Do you realize the responsibility that comes with leadership?


Consider the impact of leading people to the top and the responsibility you have and had to get them there, the skills, the trials, the perseverance to get there. Consider the impact of leading people off track and leading to their demise and the responsibility you have and had in getting them there, the lies, the guilt, the threats, the deception to get them there. Consider the consequences of such a leadership decision for you and for them. Are you leading by good example? Are you being a servant leader? Are you pointing people in the right direction? Are you being salt and light as a leader? Are you leading people closer and closer to God? Are you leading people away from behaviors and attitudes that are detrimental to their health? physically and spiritually? Are you providing them with opportunities and avenues to grow and develop into more blessed and accomplished people? Are you listening in order to understand and know what they want or need from you? Are you taking time to discuss where they are at and where they want to go? Will you let your light shine and point them towards God in order that they may see the truth and reject the lies?

Imagine being a leader who leads people into a bottomless pit. Imagine being a leader who leads people to a destination they can never return from with weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Imagine being a leader responsible for leading people to the pinnacle of success. Imagine being a leader responsible for leading people through the gates of heaven into the presence of God to spend eternity. Imagine what it will mean and it will take for you to be the type of leader who will make a positive impact on those around you. Are you willing and ready to do it?

Do you realize the responsibility you have as the one who lead them? Do you realize the consequences you have as the one who lead them? So choose wisely the type of leader you will be and the direction you will give people.


Today’s reading gets us started with leaders who led people away from God in 2 Kings 16:

‘Ahaz son of Jotham began to rule over Judah in the seventeenth year of King Pekah’s reign in Israel. Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. He did not do what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord his God, as his ancestor David had done. Instead, he followed the example of the kings of Israel, even sacrificing his own son in the fire. In this way, he followed the detestable practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the pagan shrines and on the hills and under every green tree. Then King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel came up to attack Jerusalem. They besieged Ahaz but could not conquer him. At that time the king of Edom recovered the town of Elath for Edom. He drove out the people of Judah and sent Edomites to live there, as they do to this day. King Ahaz sent messengers to King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria with this message: “I am your servant and your vassal. Come up and rescue me from the attacking armies of Aram and Israel.” Then Ahaz took the silver and gold from the Temple of the Lord and the palace treasury and sent it as a payment to the Assyrian king. So the king of Assyria attacked the Aramean capital of Damascus and led its population away as captives, resettling them in Kir. He also killed King Rezin. King Ahaz then went to Damascus to meet with King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria. While he was there, he took special note of the altar. Then he sent a model of the altar to Uriah the priest, along with its design in full detail. Uriah followed the king’s instructions and built an altar just like it, and it was ready before the king returned from Damascus. When the king returned, he inspected the altar and made offerings on it. He presented a burnt offering and a grain offering, he poured out a liquid offering, and he sprinkled the blood of peace offerings on the altar. Then King Ahaz removed the old bronze altar from its place in front of the Lord ’s Temple, between the entrance and the new altar, and placed it on the north side of the new altar. He told Uriah the priest, “Use the new altar for the morning sacrifices of burnt offering, the evening grain offering, the king’s burnt offering and grain offering, and the burnt offerings of all the people, as well as their grain offerings and liquid offerings. Sprinkle the blood from all the burnt offerings and sacrifices on the new altar. The bronze altar will be for my personal use only.” Uriah the priest did just as King Ahaz commanded him. Then the king removed the side panels and basins from the portable water carts. He also removed the great bronze basin called the Sea from the backs of the bronze oxen and placed it on the stone pavement. In deference to the king of Assyria, he also removed the canopy that had been constructed inside the palace for use on the Sabbath day, as well as the king’s outer entrance to the Temple of the Lord . The rest of the events in Ahaz’s reign and everything he did are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah. When Ahaz died, he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. Then his son Hezekiah became the next king.’

2 Kings 16:1-20

Today’s reading then continues into Ezekiel 22:

‘Now this message came to me from the Lord : “Son of man, are you ready to judge Jerusalem? Are you ready to judge this city of murderers? Publicly denounce her detestable sins, and give her this message from the Sovereign Lord : O city of murderers, doomed and damned—city of idols, filthy and foul— you are guilty because of the blood you have shed. You are defiled because of the idols you have made. Your day of destruction has come! You have reached the end of your years. I will make you an object of mockery throughout the world. O infamous city, filled with confusion, you will be mocked by people far and near. “Every leader in Israel who lives within your walls is bent on murder. Fathers and mothers are treated with contempt. Foreigners are forced to pay for protection. Orphans and widows are wronged and oppressed among you. You despise my holy things and violate my Sabbath days of rest. People accuse others falsely and send them to their death. You are filled with idol worshipers and people who do obscene things. Men sleep with their fathers’ wives and force themselves on women who are menstruating. Within your walls live men who commit adultery with their neighbors’ wives, who defile their daughters-in-law, or who rape their own sisters. There are hired murderers, loan racketeers, and extortioners everywhere. They never even think of me and my commands, says the Sovereign Lord . “But now I clap my hands in indignation over your dishonest gain and bloodshed. How strong and courageous will you be in my day of reckoning? I, the Lord , have spoken, and I will do what I said. I will scatter you among the nations and purge you of your wickedness. And when I have been dishonored among the nations because of you, you will know that I am the Lord .” Then this message came to me from the Lord : “Son of man, the people of Israel are the worthless slag that remains after silver is smelted. They are the dross that is left over—a useless mixture of copper, tin, iron, and lead. So tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you are all worthless slag, I will bring you to my crucible in Jerusalem. Just as silver, copper, iron, lead, and tin are melted down in a furnace, I will melt you down in the heat of my fury. I will gather you together and blow the fire of my anger upon you, and you will melt like silver in fierce heat. Then you will know that I, the Lord , have poured out my fury on you.’” Again a message came to me from the Lord : “Son of man, give the people of Israel this message: In the day of my indignation, you will be like a polluted land, a land without rain. Your princes plot conspiracies just as lions stalk their prey. They devour innocent people, seizing treasures and extorting wealth. They make many widows in the land. Your priests have violated my instructions and defiled my holy things. They make no distinction between what is holy and what is not. And they do not teach my people the difference between what is ceremonially clean and unclean. They disregard my Sabbath days so that I am dishonored among them. Your leaders are like wolves who tear apart their victims. They actually destroy people’s lives for money! And your prophets cover up for them by announcing false visions and making lying predictions. They say, ‘My message is from the Sovereign Lord ,’ when the Lord hasn’t spoken a single word to them. Even common people oppress the poor, rob the needy, and deprive foreigners of justice. “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one. So now I will pour out my fury on them, consuming them with the fire of my anger. I will heap on their heads the full penalty for all their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord , have spoken!”’

Ezekiel 22:1-31

Today’s reading then brings us into the New Testament starting with Acts 16:

‘Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas. That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there. We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neapolis. From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days. On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed. One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future. She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.” This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her. Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.” A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.’

Acts of the Apostles 16:6-24

Today’s reading continues into Revelation 6:

‘When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony. They shouted to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?” Then a white robe was given to each of them. And they were told to rest a little longer until the full number of their brothers and sisters —their fellow servants of Jesus who were to be martyred—had joined them. I watched as the Lamb broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became as dark as black cloth, and the moon became as red as blood. Then the stars of the sky fell to the earth like green figs falling from a tree shaken by a strong wind. The sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all of the mountains and islands were moved from their places. Then everyone—the kings of the earth, the rulers, the generals, the wealthy, the powerful, and every slave and free person—all hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they cried to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive?”’

Revelation 6:9-17

Today’s reading then closes with Psalms 119:

‘Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are my constant guide. Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your laws. I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments. I have refused to walk on any evil path, so that I may remain obedient to your word. I haven’t turned away from your regulations, for you have taught me well. How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey. Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life. Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. I’ve promised it once, and I’ll promise it again: I will obey your righteous regulations. I have suffered much, O Lord ; restore my life again as you promised. Lord , accept my offering of praise, and teach me your regulations. My life constantly hangs in the balance, but I will not stop obeying your instructions. The wicked have set their traps for me, but I will not turn from your commandments. Your laws are my treasure; they are my heart’s delight. I am determined to keep your decrees to the very end. I hate those with divided loyalties, but I love your instructions. You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope. Get out of my life, you evil-minded people, for I intend to obey the commands of my God. Lord , sustain me as you promised, that I may live! Do not let my hope be crushed. Sustain me, and I will be rescued; then I will meditate continually on your decrees. But you have rejected all who stray from your decrees. They are only fooling themselves. You skim off the wicked of the earth like scum; no wonder I love to obey your laws! I tremble in fear of you; I stand in awe of your regulations.’

Psalms 119:97-120

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

Let’s pray:

No matter what battle you are facing, remember that the battle belongs to the Lord!


Are you facing a challenge at home? Are you facing a challenge in your community? Are you facing a challenge in your workplace? (at work? at school?) How will you face it? How will you handle it? Will you turn to God for wisdom and insight? Will you ask your trusted friends and advisors? Will you do what God asks in order to accomplish His purpose and His plan? Will you take hold of God’s promises and that the battle belongs to the Lord? Will you trust God’s wisdom and direction? Will you obey him or face the consequences of disobedience?


‘About that time King Ben-hadad of Aram mobilized his army, supported by the chariots and horses of thirty-two allied kings. They went to besiege Samaria, the capital of Israel, and launched attacks against it. Ben-hadad sent messengers into the city to relay this message to King Ahab of Israel: “This is what Ben-hadad says: ‘Your silver and gold are mine, and so are your wives and the best of your children!’” “All right, my lord the king,” Israel’s king replied. “All that I have is yours!” Soon Ben-hadad’s messengers returned again and said, “This is what Ben-hadad says: ‘I have already demanded that you give me your silver, gold, wives, and children. But about this time tomorrow I will send my officials to search your palace and the homes of your officials. They will take away everything you consider valuable!’” Then Ahab summoned all the elders of the land and said to them, “Look how this man is stirring up trouble! I already agreed with his demand that I give him my wives and children and silver and gold.” “Don’t give in to any more demands,” all the elders and the people advised. So Ahab told the messengers from Ben-hadad, “Say this to my lord the king: ‘I will give you everything you asked for the first time, but I cannot accept this last demand of yours.’” So the messengers returned to Ben-hadad with that response. Then Ben-hadad sent this message to Ahab: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if there remains enough dust from Samaria to provide even a handful for each of my soldiers.” The king of Israel sent back this answer: “A warrior putting on his sword for battle should not boast like a warrior who has already won.” Ahab’s reply reached Ben-hadad and the other kings as they were drinking in their tents. “Prepare to attack!” Ben-hadad commanded his officers. So they prepared to attack the city. Then a certain prophet came to see King Ahab of Israel and told him, “This is what the Lord says: Do you see all these enemy forces? Today I will hand them all over to you. Then you will know that I am the Lord .” Ahab asked, “How will he do it?” And the prophet replied, “This is what the Lord says: The troops of the provincial commanders will do it.” “Should we attack first?” Ahab asked. “Yes,” the prophet answered. So Ahab mustered the troops of the 232 provincial commanders. Then he called out the rest of the army of Israel, some 7,000 men. About noontime, as Ben-hadad and the thirty-two allied kings were still in their tents drinking themselves into a stupor, the troops of the provincial commanders marched out of the city as the first contingent. As they approached, Ben-hadad’s scouts reported to him, “Some troops are coming from Samaria.” “Take them alive,” Ben-hadad commanded, “whether they have come for peace or for war.” But Ahab’s provincial commanders and the entire army had now come out to fight. Each Israelite soldier killed his Aramean opponent, and suddenly the entire Aramean army panicked and fled. The Israelites chased them, but King Ben-hadad and a few of his charioteers escaped on horses. However, the king of Israel destroyed the other horses and chariots and slaughtered the Arameans. Afterward the prophet said to King Ahab, “Get ready for another attack. Begin making plans now, for the king of Aram will come back next spring. ” After their defeat, Ben-hadad’s officers said to him, “The Israelite gods are gods of the hills; that is why they won. But we can beat them easily on the plains. Only this time replace the kings with field commanders! Recruit another army like the one you lost. Give us the same number of horses, chariots, and men, and we will fight against them on the plains. There’s no doubt that we will beat them.” So King Ben-hadad did as they suggested. The following spring he called up the Aramean army and marched out against Israel, this time at Aphek. Israel then mustered its army, set up supply lines, and marched out for battle. But the Israelite army looked like two little flocks of goats in comparison to the vast Aramean forces that filled the countryside! Then the man of God went to the king of Israel and said, “This is what the Lord says: The Arameans have said, ‘The Lord is a god of the hills and not of the plains.’ So I will defeat this vast army for you. Then you will know that I am the Lord .” The two armies camped opposite each other for seven days, and on the seventh day the battle began. The Israelites killed 100,000 Aramean foot soldiers in one day. The rest fled into the town of Aphek, but the wall fell on them and killed another 27,000. Ben-hadad fled into the town and hid in a secret room. Ben-hadad’s officers said to him, “Sir, we have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful. So let’s humble ourselves by wearing burlap around our waists and putting ropes on our heads, and surrender to the king of Israel. Then perhaps he will let you live.” So they put on burlap and ropes, and they went to the king of Israel and begged, “Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘Please let me live!’” The king of Israel responded, “Is he still alive? He is my brother!” The men took this as a good sign and quickly picked up on his words. “Yes,” they said, “your brother Ben-hadad!” “Go and get him,” the king of Israel told them. And when Ben-hadad arrived, Ahab invited him up into his chariot. Ben-hadad told him, “I will give back the towns my father took from your father, and you may establish places of trade in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” Then Ahab said, “I will release you under these conditions.” So they made a new treaty, and Ben-hadad was set free. Meanwhile, the Lord instructed one of the group of prophets to say to another man, “Hit me!” But the man refused to hit the prophet. Then the prophet told him, “Because you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord , a lion will kill you as soon as you leave me.” And when he had gone, a lion did attack and kill him. Then the prophet turned to another man and said, “Hit me!” So he struck the prophet and wounded him. The prophet placed a bandage over his eyes to disguise himself and then waited beside the road for the king. As the king passed by, the prophet called out to him, “Sir, I was in the thick of battle, and suddenly a man brought me a prisoner. He said, ‘Guard this man; if for any reason he gets away, you will either die or pay a fine of seventy-five pounds of silver!’ But while I was busy doing something else, the prisoner disappeared!” “Well, it’s your own fault,” the king replied. “You have brought the judgment on yourself.” Then the prophet quickly pulled the bandage from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. The prophet said to him, “This is what the Lord says: Because you have spared the man I said must be destroyed, now you must die in his place, and your people will die instead of his people.” So the king of Israel went home to Samaria angry and sullen.’

— 1 Kings 20

‘“At that time Michael, the archangel who stands guard over your nation, will arise. Then there will be a time of anguish greater than any since nations first came into existence. But at that time every one of your people whose name is written in the book will be rescued. Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever. But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase.” Then I, Daniel, looked and saw two others standing on opposite banks of the river. One of them asked the man dressed in linen, who was now standing above the river, “How long will it be until these shocking events are over?” The man dressed in linen, who was standing above the river, raised both his hands toward heaven and took a solemn oath by the One who lives forever, saying, “It will go on for a time, times, and half a time. When the shattering of the holy people has finally come to an end, all these things will have happened.” I heard what he said, but I did not understand what he meant. So I asked, “How will all this finally end, my lord?” But he said, “Go now, Daniel, for what I have said is kept secret and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these trials. But the wicked will continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand. Only those who are wise will know what it means. “From the time the daily sacrifice is stopped and the sacrilegious object that causes desecration is set up to be worshiped, there will be 1,290 days. And blessed are those who wait and remain until the end of the 1,335 days! “As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you.”’

— Daniel 12

‘Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains. As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink. Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord!” he replied. The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.” “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.” But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.’

– Acts 9:1-19

‘Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.’

– 1 John 5:1-5

‘Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds. Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord . Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him. Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the rulings he has given, you children of his servant Abraham, you descendants of Jacob, his chosen ones. He is the Lord our God. His justice is seen throughout the land. He always stands by his covenant— the commitment he made to a thousand generations. This is the covenant he made with Abraham and the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, and to the people of Israel as a never-ending covenant: “I will give you the land of Canaan as your special possession.” He said this when they were few in number, a tiny group of strangers in Canaan. They wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. Yet he did not let anyone oppress them. He warned kings on their behalf: “Do not touch my chosen people, and do not hurt my prophets.” He called for a famine on the land of Canaan, cutting off its food supply. Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them— Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character. Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free; the ruler of the nation opened his prison door. Joseph was put in charge of all the king’s household; he became ruler over all the king’s possessions. He could instruct the king’s aides as he pleased and teach the king’s advisers. Then Israel arrived in Egypt; Jacob lived as a foreigner in the land of Ham. And the Lord multiplied the people of Israel until they became too mighty for their enemies. Then he turned the Egyptians against the Israelites, and they plotted against the Lord ’s servants. But the Lord sent his servant Moses, along with Aaron, whom he had chosen. They performed miraculous signs among the Egyptians, and wonders in the land of Ham. The Lord blanketed Egypt in darkness, for they had defied his commands to let his people go. He turned their water into blood, poisoning all the fish. Then frogs overran the land and even invaded the king’s bedrooms. When the Lord spoke, flies descended on the Egyptians, and gnats swarmed across Egypt. He sent them hail instead of rain, and lightning flashed over the land. He ruined their grapevines and fig trees and shattered all the trees. He spoke, and hordes of locusts came— young locusts beyond number. They ate up everything green in the land, destroying all the crops in their fields. Then he killed the oldest son in each Egyptian home, the pride and joy of each family. The Lord brought his people out of Egypt, loaded with silver and gold; and not one among the tribes of Israel even stumbled. Egypt was glad when they were gone, for they feared them greatly. The Lord spread a cloud above them as a covering and gave them a great fire to light the darkness. They asked for meat, and he sent them quail; he satisfied their hunger with manna—bread from heaven. He split open a rock, and water gushed out to form a river through the dry wasteland. For he remembered his sacred promise to his servant Abraham. So he brought his people out of Egypt with joy, his chosen ones with rejoicing. He gave his people the lands of pagan nations, and they harvested crops that others had planted. All this happened so they would follow his decrees and obey his instructions. Praise the Lord !’

— Psalms 105

Do you believe? Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Have you invited Him into your heart? Will you believe? Will you trust/ Will you obey? Will you love?

If not, why not invite Him into your heart today?

Leave me a comment so I can pray for you. Leave me a comment so we can discuss your decision. Leave me a comment so I can celebrate with the angels about your decision.

Will you allow God’s good plan to direct you?


God’s got a plan. He has a plan for you. Are you willing to receive it? Are you willing to hear it and follow it? Are you willing to hear it and walk it out? Are you willing to wait upon God in order to get the details you need for today’s part of the plan? Are you willing to start even if you don’t have the full plan?

I remember a time when at a men’s retreat God called me to join the board of the homeowners association. I knew he wanted me involved in the community but didn’t know what that would look like but out of obedience I stepped into it. I can only imagine the fear or doubt that could have or would have been there had I know what the next three years was going to look like. God gave me enough information to step up, step out, and start going in the direction He had planned. To think how over those years as secretary, vice-president, and then eventually president of a homeowners association for over ten thousand people, needing to change what roofing material would be allowed, what colors of pain would be allowed, how to handle the insurance prices, how to handle the security/safety concerns, how to handle to billing how to work thru staffing and management, how to handle to pools, how to handle the internal board conflicts, and so much more that may have or could have swayed me from stepping up or stepping in to such a large thing at that point in my life.

I learned that God gives us enough detail to start going and helps us to walk through it, teaching and training, leading and guiding, preparing and encouraging us through it all. He has been able to do this even more times since and right now is a time I need wisdom in regards to planning as my roles and responsibilities have grown and changed. Going from an individual contributor who had to support the full team to now being a manager of incredible staff and the work and requests that are coming in growing even faster, the need to for a vision, a mission, and a plan becomes even more important. As I turn to God’s Word this morning and pray, I await the instruction and direction to be able to take that step up and step out so that we can step into God’s plan and His flow for what is yet to come.


Today’s reading from God’s Word gets us started with 1 Kings 7 today.

‘Solomon also built a palace for himself, and it took him thirteen years to complete the construction. One of Solomon’s buildings was called the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. It was 150 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. There were four rows of cedar pillars, and great cedar beams rested on the pillars. The hall had a cedar roof. Above the beams on the pillars were forty-five side rooms, arranged in three tiers of fifteen each. On each end of the long hall were three rows of windows facing each other. All the doorways and doorposts had rectangular frames and were arranged in sets of three, facing each other. Solomon also built the Hall of Pillars, which was 75 feet long and 45 feet wide. There was a porch in front, along with a canopy supported by pillars. Solomon also built the throne room, known as the Hall of Justice, where he sat to hear legal matters. It was paneled with cedar from floor to ceiling. Solomon’s living quarters surrounded a courtyard behind this hall, and they were constructed the same way. He also built similar living quarters for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had married. From foundation to eaves, all these buildings were built from huge blocks of high-quality stone, cut with saws and trimmed to exact measure on all sides. Some of the huge foundation stones were 15 feet long, and some were 12 feet long. The blocks of high-quality stone used in the walls were also cut to measure, and cedar beams were also used. The walls of the great courtyard were built so that there was one layer of cedar beams between every three layers of finished stone, just like the walls of the inner courtyard of the Lord ’s Temple with its entry room. King Solomon then asked for a man named Huram to come from Tyre. He was half Israelite, since his mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father had been a craftsman in bronze from Tyre. Huram was extremely skillful and talented in any work in bronze, and he came to do all the metal work for King Solomon. Huram cast two bronze pillars, each 27 feet tall and 18 feet in circumference. For the tops of the pillars he cast bronze capitals, each 7 1 / 2 feet tall. Each capital was decorated with seven sets of latticework and interwoven chains. He also encircled the latticework with two rows of pomegranates to decorate the capitals over the pillars. The capitals on the columns inside the entry room were shaped like water lilies, and they were six feet tall. The capitals on the two pillars had 200 pomegranates in two rows around them, beside the rounded surface next to the latticework. Huram set the pillars at the entrance of the Temple, one toward the south and one toward the north. He named the one on the south Jakin, and the one on the north Boaz. The capitals on the pillars were shaped like water lilies. And so the work on the pillars was finished. Then Huram cast a great round basin, 15 feet across from rim to rim, called the Sea. It was 7 1 / 2 feet deep and about 45 feet in circumference. It was encircled just below its rim by two rows of decorative gourds. There were about six gourds per foot all the way around, and they were cast as part of the basin. The Sea was placed on a base of twelve bronze oxen, all facing outward. Three faced north, three faced west, three faced south, and three faced east, and the Sea rested on them. The walls of the Sea were about three inches thick, and its rim flared out like a cup and resembled a water lily blossom. It could hold about 11,000 gallons of water. Huram also made ten bronze water carts, each 6 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 4 1 / 2 feet tall. They were constructed with side panels braced with crossbars. Both the panels and the crossbars were decorated with carved lions, oxen, and cherubim. Above and below the lions and oxen were wreath decorations. Each of these carts had four bronze wheels and bronze axles. There were supporting posts for the bronze basins at the corners of the carts; these supports were decorated on each side with carvings of wreaths. The top of each cart had a rounded frame for the basin. It projected 1 1 / 2 feet above the cart’s top like a round pedestal, and its opening was 2 1 / 4 feet across; it was decorated on the outside with carvings of wreaths. The panels of the carts were square, not round. Under the panels were four wheels that were connected to axles that had been cast as one unit with the cart. The wheels were 2 1 / 4 feet in diameter and were similar to chariot wheels. The axles, spokes, rims, and hubs were all cast from molten bronze. There were handles at each of the four corners of the carts, and these, too, were cast as one unit with the cart. Around the top of each cart was a rim nine inches wide. The corner supports and side panels were cast as one unit with the cart. Carvings of cherubim, lions, and palm trees decorated the panels and corner supports wherever there was room, and there were wreaths all around. All ten water carts were the same size and were made alike, for each was cast from the same mold. Huram also made ten smaller bronze basins, one for each cart. Each basin was six feet across and could hold 220 gallons of water. He set five water carts on the south side of the Temple and five on the north side. The great bronze basin called the Sea was placed near the southeast corner of the Temple. He also made the necessary washbasins, shovels, and bowls. So at last Huram completed everything King Solomon had assigned him to make for the Temple of the Lord : the two pillars; the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars; the two networks of interwoven chains that decorated the capitals; the 400 pomegranates that hung from the chains on the capitals (two rows of pomegranates for each of the chain networks that decorated the capitals on top of the pillars); the ten water carts holding the ten basins; the Sea and the twelve oxen under it; the ash buckets, the shovels, and the bowls. Huram made all these things of burnished bronze for the Temple of the Lord , just as King Solomon had directed. The king had them cast in clay molds in the Jordan Valley between Succoth and Zarethan. Solomon did not weigh all these things because there were so many; the weight of the bronze could not be measured. Solomon also made all the furnishings of the Temple of the Lord : the gold altar; the gold table for the Bread of the Presence; the lampstands of solid gold, five on the south and five on the north, in front of the Most Holy Place; the flower decorations, lamps, and tongs—all of gold; the small bowls, lamp snuffers, bowls, ladles, and incense burners—all of solid gold; the doors for the entrances to the Most Holy Place and the main room of the Temple, with their fronts overlaid with gold. So King Solomon finished all his work on the Temple of the Lord . Then he brought all the gifts his father, David, had dedicated—the silver, the gold, and the various articles—and he stored them in the treasuries of the Lord ’s Temple.’

1 Kings 7

‘Sound the trumpet in Jerusalem ! Raise the alarm on my holy mountain! Let everyone tremble in fear because the day of the Lord is upon us. It is a day of darkness and gloom, a day of thick clouds and deep blackness. Suddenly, like dawn spreading across the mountains, a great and mighty army appears. Nothing like it has been seen before or will ever be seen again. Fire burns in front of them, and flames follow after them. Ahead of them the land lies as beautiful as the Garden of Eden. Behind them is nothing but desolation; not one thing escapes. They look like horses; they charge forward like warhorses. Look at them as they leap along the mountaintops. Listen to the noise they make—like the rumbling of chariots, like the roar of fire sweeping across a field of stubble, or like a mighty army moving into battle. Fear grips all the people; every face grows pale with terror. The attackers march like warriors and scale city walls like soldiers. Straight forward they march, never breaking rank. They never jostle each other; each moves in exactly the right position. They break through defenses without missing a step. They swarm over the city and run along its walls. They enter all the houses, climbing like thieves through the windows. The earth quakes as they advance, and the heavens tremble. The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars no longer shine. The Lord is at the head of the column. He leads them with a shout. This is his mighty army, and they follow his orders. The day of the Lord is an awesome, terrible thing. Who can possibly survive? That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse. Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine to the Lord your God as before. Blow the ram’s horn in Jerusalem! Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting. Gather all the people— the elders, the children, and even the babies. Call the bridegroom from his quarters and the bride from her private room. Let the priests, who minister in the Lord ’s presence, stand and weep between the entry room to the Temple and the altar. Let them pray, “Spare your people, Lord ! Don’t let your special possession become an object of mockery. Don’t let them become a joke for unbelieving foreigners who say, ‘Has the God of Israel left them?’” Then the Lord will pity his people and jealously guard the honor of his land. The Lord will reply, “Look! I am sending you grain and new wine and olive oil, enough to satisfy your needs. You will no longer be an object of mockery among the surrounding nations. I will drive away these armies from the north. I will send them into the parched wastelands. Those in the front will be driven into the Dead Sea, and those at the rear into the Mediterranean. The stench of their rotting bodies will rise over the land.” Surely the Lord has done great things! Don’t be afraid, O land. Be glad now and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things. Don’t be afraid, you animals of the field, for the wilderness pastures will soon be green. The trees will again be filled with fruit; fig trees and grapevines will be loaded down once more. Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring. The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil. The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you. Once again you will have all the food you want, and you will praise the Lord your God, who does these miracles for you. Never again will my people be disgraced. Then you will know that I am among my people Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and there is no other. Never again will my people be disgraced. “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike. And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth— blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, for some on Mount Zion in Jerusalem will escape, just as the Lord has said. These will be among the survivors whom the Lord has called.’

Joel 2

‘While Peter and John were speaking to the people, they were confronted by the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some of the Sadducees. These leaders were very disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead. They arrested them and, since it was already evening, put them in jail until morning. But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so the number of men who believed now totaled about 5,000. The next day the council of all the rulers and elders and teachers of religious law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, along with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other relatives of the high priest. They brought in the two disciples and demanded, “By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people, are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed? Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”’

Acts 4:1-12

‘But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.’

2 Peter 3:8-13

‘It is good to give thanks to the Lord , to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening, accompanied by a ten-stringed instrument, a harp, and the melody of a lyre. You thrill me, Lord , with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done. O Lord , what great works you do! And how deep are your thoughts. Only a simpleton would not know, and only a fool would not understand this: Though the wicked sprout like weeds and evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever. But you, O Lord , will be exalted forever. Your enemies, Lord , will surely perish; all evildoers will be scattered. But you have made me as strong as a wild ox. You have anointed me with the finest oil. My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies; my ears have heard the defeat of my wicked opponents. But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord ’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!”’

Psalms 92

How to right size something?


You want to be a good steward, right? You want to do what is right, right? You want to be prepared, right? So how do you make sure you have enough? How do you make sure you don’t have too much? How can you be confident that you are setup for success? What are you depending on? What is the foundation for your decision? What is the reason for the confidence you have going in?

Judges 7:1-8

‘So Jerub-baal (that is, Gideon) and his army got up early and went as far as the spring of Harod. The armies of Midian were camped north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength. Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.’” So 22,000 of them went home, leaving only 10,000 who were willing to fight. But the Lord told Gideon, “There are still too many! Bring them down to the spring, and I will test them to determine who will go with you and who will not.” When Gideon took his warriors down to the water, the Lord told him, “Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream.” Only 300 of the men drank from their hands. All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream. The Lord told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.” So Gideon collected the provisions and rams’ horns of the other warriors and sent them home. But he kept the 300 men with him. The Midianite camp was in the valley just below Gideon. ‘

So did it go like you hoped? Was your trust in God? What Jesus your foundation? Did you turn to God’s Word for wisdom? Will you now give Him all the praise, the honor, and the glory since You know that it was His perfect plans and His perfect will that allow for that incredible result? Did you sow everything you had to sow? Did you water everything that needed water? Did you harvest everything that was ready for harvest?

Even though the theme was DREAM BIG and the story was Joseph’s story the camp for me was a Judges 6-7 camp — it was a Gideon type of moment where we had to right size things so that God would get all the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’s name. Amen.

Let’s do it! Not a better us but a Spirit filled Spirit empowered us!


So we took care of what was holding us back. So now let’s do it. Let’s not allow the lies or the fears of the world keep us from accomplishing what God has prepared in advance for us to do. Do not be afraid or discouraged! Walk it out trusting in what God has called for you to accomplish! If it is in the Bible we want it. If it isn’t then don’t waste your time or energy on it. Put your hope and trust in God and walk out what it is He is calling you to do. Is it to lead people? Then do it. Is it to serve people? Then do it. Is it to be generous? Then do it. Whatever it is that God has called you to go or to do, go or do it! Let’s do it! Not in our own strength but instead filled and empowered and inspired by the Holy Spirit!


Today’s reading gets us started in Joshua:

‘Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all your fighting men and attack Ai, for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his land. You will destroy them as you destroyed Jericho and its king. But this time you may keep the plunder and the livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the town.” So Joshua and all the fighting men set out to attack Ai. Joshua chose 30,000 of his best warriors and sent them out at night with these orders: “Hide in ambush close behind the town and be ready for action. When our main army attacks, the men of Ai will come out to fight as they did before, and we will run away from them. We will let them chase us until we have drawn them away from the town. For they will say, ‘The Israelites are running away from us as they did before.’ Then, while we are running from them, you will jump up from your ambush and take possession of the town, for the Lord your God will give it to you. Set the town on fire, as the Lord has commanded. You have your orders.” So they left and went to the place of ambush between Bethel and the west side of Ai. But Joshua remained among the people in the camp that night. Early the next morning Joshua roused his men and started toward Ai, accompanied by the elders of Israel. All the fighting men who were with Joshua marched in front of the town and camped on the north side of Ai, with a valley between them and the town. That night Joshua sent about 5,000 men to lie in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the town. So they stationed the main army north of the town and the ambush west of the town. Joshua himself spent that night in the valley. When the king of Ai saw the Israelites across the valley, he and all his army hurried out early in the morning and attacked the Israelites at a place overlooking the Jordan Valley. But he didn’t realize there was an ambush behind the town. Joshua and the Israelite army fled toward the wilderness as though they were badly beaten. Then all the men in the town were called out to chase after them. In this way, they were lured away from the town. There was not a man left in Ai or Bethel who did not chase after the Israelites, and the town was left wide open. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Point the spear in your hand toward Ai, for I will hand the town over to you.” Joshua did as he was commanded. As soon as Joshua gave this signal, all the men in ambush jumped up from their position and poured into the town. They quickly captured it and set it on fire. When the men of Ai looked behind them, smoke from the town was filling the sky, and they had nowhere to go. For the Israelites who had fled in the direction of the wilderness now turned on their pursuers. When Joshua and all the other Israelites saw that the ambush had succeeded and that smoke was rising from the town, they turned and attacked the men of Ai. Meanwhile, the Israelites who were inside the town came out and attacked the enemy from the rear. So the men of Ai were caught in the middle, with Israelite fighters on both sides. Israel attacked them, and not a single person survived or escaped. Only the king of Ai was taken alive and brought to Joshua. When the Israelite army finished chasing and killing all the men of Ai in the open fields, they went back and finished off everyone inside. So the entire population of Ai, including men and women, was wiped out that day—12,000 in all. For Joshua kept holding out his spear until everyone who had lived in Ai was completely destroyed. Only the livestock and the treasures of the town were not destroyed, for the Israelites kept these as plunder for themselves, as the Lord had commanded Joshua. So Joshua burned the town of Ai, and it became a permanent mound of ruins, desolate to this very day. Joshua impaled the king of Ai on a sharpened pole and left him there until evening. At sunset the Israelites took down the body, as Joshua commanded, and threw it in front of the town gate. They piled a great heap of stones over him that can still be seen today.

Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord , the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal. He followed the commands that Moses the Lord ’s servant had written in the Book of Instruction: “Make me an altar from stones that are uncut and have not been shaped with iron tools.” Then on the altar they presented burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord . And as the Israelites watched, Joshua copied onto the stones of the altar the instructions Moses had given them. Then all the Israelites—foreigners and native-born alike—along with the elders, officers, and judges, were divided into two groups. One group stood in front of Mount Gerizim, the other in front of Mount Ebal. Each group faced the other, and between them stood the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Lord ’s Covenant. This was all done according to the commands that Moses, the servant of the Lord , had previously given for blessing the people of Israel. Joshua then read to them all the blessings and curses Moses had written in the Book of Instruction. Every word of every command that Moses had ever given was read to the entire assembly of Israel, including the women and children and the foreigners who lived among them.’

Joshua 8

Today’s reading then brings us into Isaiah:

‘But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord , your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will gather you and your children from east and west. I will say to the north and south, ‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel from the distant corners of the earth. Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’” Bring out the people who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. Gather the nations together! Assemble the peoples of the world! Which of their idols has ever foretold such things? Which can predict what will happen tomorrow? Where are the witnesses of such predictions? Who can verify that they spoke the truth? “But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the Lord . “You are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God— there never has been, and there never will be. I, yes I, am the Lord , and there is no other Savior. First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,” says the Lord . “From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.”

This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “For your sakes I will send an army against Babylon, forcing the Babylonians to flee in those ships they are so proud of. I am the Lord , your Holy One, Israel’s Creator and King. I am the Lord , who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick. “But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world. “But, dear family of Jacob, you refuse to ask for my help. You have grown tired of me, O Israel! You have not brought me sheep or goats for burnt offerings. You have not honored me with sacrifices, though I have not burdened and wearied you with requests for grain offerings and frankincense. You have not brought me fragrant calamus or pleased me with the fat from sacrifices. Instead, you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your faults. “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again. Let us review the situation together, and you can present your case to prove your innocence. From the very beginning, your first ancestor sinned against me; all your leaders broke my laws. That is why I have disgraced your priests; I have decreed complete destruction for Jacob and shame for Israel.’

Isaiah 43

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

‘On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” “As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there. When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the Twelve. While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?” He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me. For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!” Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?” And Jesus told him, “You have said it.” As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.’

Matthew 26:17-35

and then into Philippians:

‘If the Lord Jesus is willing, I hope to send Timothy to you soon for a visit. Then he can cheer me up by telling me how you are getting along. I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News. I hope to send him to you just as soon as I find out what is going to happen to me here. And I have confidence from the Lord that I myself will come to see you soon. Meanwhile, I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier. And he was your messenger to help me in my need. I am sending him because he has been longing to see you, and he was very distressed that you heard he was ill. And he certainly was ill; in fact, he almost died. But God had mercy on him—and also on me, so that I would not have one sorrow after another. So I am all the more anxious to send him back to you, for I know you will be glad to see him, and then I will not be so worried about you. Welcome him in the Lord’s love and with great joy, and give him the honor that people like him deserve. For he risked his life for the work of Christ, and he was at the point of death while doing for me what you couldn’t do from far away.’

Philippians 2:19-30

Today’s reading closes with a Psalm:

‘Answer me when I call to you, O God who declares me innocent. Free me from my troubles. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer. How long will you people ruin my reputation? How long will you make groundless accusations? How long will you continue your lies? Interlude You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for himself. The Lord will answer when I call to him. Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Interlude Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the Lord . Many people say, “Who will show us better times?” Let your face smile on us, Lord . You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord , will keep me safe.’

Psalms 4

Are you checking status before running into something?


Do you remember what you were supposed to do? Do you remember how you were supposed to do it? Do you know how you did it? Do they align? Before stepping forward or assuming that what you are doing will work out right will you take a pause to double check? Will you assume or will you ask God how to handle the next step? Will you be like David who went in to battle and won after asking God and following His strategy and then when he went into battle the second time went back to God and asked and received a new and different strategy to follow and obeyed and found victory again? Or… will you assume from the previous great victory that you should just go charging in with your own strategy and see how it plays out? There might have been something that didn’t go according to plan. There might have been something that was against the original strategy. It is always better to ask Him first for wisdom rather than assuming and running in with your eyes closed and discover through defeat that your assumptions were wrong. Double check with God so that You walk with Him and in Him. Will you look and see? Will you hear and listen? Will you do what is required? Will you do it as it is directed?


Today’s reading speaks to such a time as we go to Joshua:

‘But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord . A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah. Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven. When they returned, they told Joshua, “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.” So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away. Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the Lord until evening. Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign Lord , why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side! Lord, what can I say now that Israel has fled from its enemies? For when the Canaanites and all the other people living in the land hear about it, they will surround us and wipe our name off the face of the earth. And then what will happen to the honor of your great name?” But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings. That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction. “Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord , the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord . You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you. “In the morning you must present yourselves by tribes, and the Lord will point out the tribe to which the guilty man belongs. That tribe must come forward with its clans, and the Lord will point out the guilty clan. That clan will then come forward, and the Lord will point out the guilty family. Finally, each member of the guilty family must come forward one by one. The one who has stolen what was set apart for destruction will himself be burned with fire, along with everything he has, for he has broken the covenant of the Lord and has done a horrible thing in Israel.”

Early the next morning Joshua brought the tribes of Israel before the Lord , and the tribe of Judah was singled out. Then the clans of Judah came forward, and the clan of Zerah was singled out. Then the families of Zerah came forward, and the family of Zimri was singled out. Every member of Zimri’s family was brought forward person by person, and Achan was singled out. Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord , the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me.” Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord , the God of Israel. Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them. They are hidden in the ground beneath my tent, with the silver buried deeper than the rest.” So Joshua sent some men to make a search. They ran to the tent and found the stolen goods hidden there, just as Achan had said, with the silver buried beneath the rest. They took the things from the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites. Then they laid them on the ground in the presence of the Lord . Then Joshua and all the Israelites took Achan, the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, tent, and everything he had, and they brought them to the valley of Achor. Then Joshua said to Achan, “Why have you brought trouble on us? The Lord will now bring trouble on you.” And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies. They piled a great heap of stones over Achan, which remains to this day. That is why the place has been called the Valley of Trouble ever since. So the Lord was no longer angry.’

Joshua 7

Today’s reading then brings us into Isaiah:

‘“Look at my servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen one, who pleases me. I have put my Spirit upon him. He will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged. He will not falter or lose heart until justice prevails throughout the earth. Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction. ” God, the Lord , created the heavens and stretched them out. He created the earth and everything in it. He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth. And it is he who says, “I, the Lord , have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be a light to guide the nations. You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons. “I am the Lord ; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols. Everything I prophesied has come true, and now I will prophesy again. I will tell you the future before it happens.” Sing a new song to the Lord ! Sing his praises from the ends of the earth! Sing, all you who sail the seas, all you who live in distant coastlands. Join in the chorus, you desert towns; let the villages of Kedar rejoice! Let the people of Sela sing for joy; shout praises from the mountaintops! Let the whole world glorify the Lord ; let it sing his praise. The Lord will march forth like a mighty hero; he will come out like a warrior, full of fury. He will shout his battle cry and crush all his enemies. He will say, “I have long been silent; yes, I have restrained myself. But now, like a woman in labor, I will cry and groan and pant. I will level the mountains and hills and blight all their greenery. I will turn the rivers into dry land and will dry up all the pools. I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them. But those who trust in idols, who say, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned away in shame.

“Listen, you who are deaf! Look and see, you blind! Who is as blind as my own people, my servant? Who is as deaf as my messenger? Who is as blind as my chosen people, the servant of the Lord ? You see and recognize what is right but refuse to act on it. You hear with your ears, but you don’t really listen.” Because he is righteous, the Lord has exalted his glorious law. But his own people have been robbed and plundered, enslaved, imprisoned, and trapped. They are fair game for anyone and have no one to protect them, no one to take them back home. Who will hear these lessons from the past and see the ruin that awaits you in the future? Who allowed Israel to be robbed and hurt? It was the Lord , against whom we sinned, for the people would not walk in his path, nor would they obey his law. Therefore, he poured out his fury on them and destroyed them in battle. They were enveloped in flames, but they still refused to understand. They were consumed by fire, but they did not learn their lesson.’

Isaiah 42

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

‘When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, Passover begins in two days, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” At that same time the leading priests and elders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest, plotting how to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.”

Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, replied, “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver. From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.’

Matthew 26:1-16

Today’s reading then brings us into Philippians:

‘Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.’

Philippians 2:12-18

Today’s reading concludes with a Psalm:

‘O Lord , I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying, “God will never rescue him!” Interlude But you, O Lord , are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the Lord , and he answered me from his holy mountain. Interlude I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me. I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side. Arise, O Lord ! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked! Victory comes from you, O Lord . May you bless your people. Interlude’

Psalms 3

What kind of encouragement are you looking for?


Ever been faced with a big challenge? Ever been sent out to get more details? Where did you turn first? What was your perspective on it? Who was your source for the plan? Did you trust it? Was there anything that could have persuaded you against it? If you had of been part of the original 12 who were sent into the promised land by Moses, would you have returned with the news of the 10 of dissention or the news of the 2 that with God we can do it? If you had been part of the people who Joshua sent would you have any preconceived thoughts? Would what you were hearing in Jericho have encouraged or discouraged you? What type of a report would you have returned with? Would it take hearing what people were saying to encourage you to go and do what God was calling you to do? What about in your life today? What are you facing? Who are you looking to for direction, wisdom, and instruction? Where is your hope and trust coming from? If God is willing, are you? Will you be wise and be prepared? Even if it may take a bit longer than expected?


Today’s reading gets us started in Joshua:

‘Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night. But someone told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: “Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.” Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, “Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.” (Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.) So the king’s men went looking for the spies along the road leading to the shallow crossings of the Jordan River. And as soon as the king’s men had left, the gate of Jericho was shut. Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them. “I know the Lord has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below. “Now swear to me by the Lord that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.” “We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety,” the men agreed. “If you don’t betray us, we will keep our promise and be kind to you when the Lord gives us the land.” Then, since Rahab’s house was built into the town wall, she let them down by a rope through the window. “Escape to the hill country,” she told them. “Hide there for three days from the men searching for you. Then, when they have returned, you can go on your way.” Before they left, the men told her, “We will be bound by the oath we have taken only if you follow these instructions. When we come into the land, you must leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window through which you let us down. And all your family members—your father, mother, brothers, and all your relatives—must be here inside the house. If they go out into the street and are killed, it will not be our fault. But if anyone lays a hand on people inside this house, we will accept the responsibility for their death. If you betray us, however, we are not bound by this oath in any way.” “I accept your terms,” she replied. And she sent them on their way, leaving the scarlet rope hanging from the window. The spies went up into the hill country and stayed there three days. The men who were chasing them searched everywhere along the road, but they finally returned without success. Then the two spies came down from the hill country, crossed the Jordan River, and reported to Joshua all that had happened to them. “The Lord has given us the whole land,” they said, “for all the people in the land are terrified of us.”’

Joshua 2

Today’s reading then continues into Isaiah:

‘About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.’” When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord , “Remember, O Lord , how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you.” Then he broke down and wept bitterly. Then this message came to Isaiah from the Lord : “Go back to Hezekiah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord , the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria. Yes, I will defend this city. “‘And this is the sign from the Lord to prove that he will do as he promised: I will cause the sun’s shadow to move ten steps backward on the sundial of Ahaz!’” So the shadow on the sundial moved backward ten steps.

When King Hezekiah was well again, he wrote this poem: I said, “In the prime of my life, must I now enter the place of the dead? Am I to be robbed of the rest of my years?” I said, “Never again will I see the Lord God while still in the land of the living. Never again will I see my friends or be with those who live in this world. My life has been blown away like a shepherd’s tent in a storm. It has been cut short, as when a weaver cuts cloth from a loom. Suddenly, my life was over. I waited patiently all night, but I was torn apart as though by lions. Suddenly, my life was over. Delirious, I chattered like a swallow or a crane, and then I moaned like a mourning dove. My eyes grew tired of looking to heaven for help. I am in trouble, Lord. Help me!” But what could I say? For he himself sent this sickness. Now I will walk humbly throughout my years because of this anguish I have felt. Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins. For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness. Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next. Think of it—the Lord is ready to heal me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the Lord . Isaiah had said to Hezekiah’s servants, “Make an ointment from figs and spread it over the boil, and Hezekiah will recover.” And Hezekiah had asked, “What sign will prove that I will go to the Temple of the Lord ?”’

Isaiah 38

and

‘Soon after this, Merodach-baladan son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent Hezekiah his best wishes and a gift. He had heard that Hezekiah had been very sick and that he had recovered. Hezekiah was delighted with the Babylonian envoys and showed them everything in his treasure-houses—the silver, the gold, the spices, and the aromatic oils. He also took them to see his armory and showed them everything in his royal treasuries! There was nothing in his palace or kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them. Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked him, “What did those men want? Where were they from?” Hezekiah replied, “They came from the distant land of Babylon.” “What did they see in your palace?” asked Isaiah. “They saw everything,” Hezekiah replied. “I showed them everything I own—all my royal treasuries.” Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Listen to this message from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: ‘The time is coming when everything in your palace—all the treasures stored up by your ancestors until now—will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left,’ says the Lord . ‘Some of your very own sons will be taken away into exile. They will become eunuchs who will serve in the palace of Babylon’s king.’” Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “This message you have given me from the Lord is good.” For the king was thinking, “At least there will be peace and security during my lifetime.”’

Isaiah 39

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

‘“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’ “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’ “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.’

Matthew 25:1-13

Today’s reading then brings us into Philippians:

‘This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the church leaders and deacons. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus. I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ —for this will bring much glory and praise to God.’

Philippians 1:1-11

Today’s reading concludes with the final Psalm:

‘Praise the Lord ! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals. Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord ! Praise the Lord !’

Psalms 150

New beginnings. New challenges.


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

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


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

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

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

Joshua 1

Today’s reading then continues with Isaiah:

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

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

Isaiah 37

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

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

Matthew 24:32-51

Today’s reading continues into Ephesians:

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

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

Ephesians 6:10-24

Today’s reading comes to a conclusion with Psalms:

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

Psalms 149

What would/will/did it take to get you to comply?


If there was something required of you then would you comply? What would it take to get you to comply? What will it take for you to comply? What did it take for you to comply? What was your inspiration? What was your motivation? What was your tipping point?


Today’s reading begins with Deuteronomy.

‘“And now, Israel, listen carefully to these decrees and regulations that I am about to teach you. Obey them so that you may live, so you may enter and occupy the land that the Lord , the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you. “You saw for yourself what the Lord did to you at Baal-peor. There the Lord your God destroyed everyone who had worshiped Baal, the god of Peor. But all of you who were faithful to the Lord your God are still alive today—every one of you. “Look, I now teach you these decrees and regulations just as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy. Obey them completely, and you will display your wisdom and intelligence among the surrounding nations. When they hear all these decrees, they will exclaim, ‘How wise and prudent are the people of this great nation!’ For what great nation has a god as near to them as the Lord our God is near to us whenever we call on him? And what great nation has decrees and regulations as righteous and fair as this body of instructions that I am giving you today? “But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren. Never forget the day when you stood before the Lord your God at Mount Sinai, where he told me, ‘Summon the people before me, and I will personally instruct them. Then they will learn to fear me as long as they live, and they will teach their children to fear me also.’ “You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while flames from the mountain shot into the sky. The mountain was shrouded in black clouds and deep darkness. And the Lord spoke to you from the heart of the fire. You heard the sound of his words but didn’t see his form; there was only a voice. He proclaimed his covenant—the Ten Commandments —which he commanded you to keep, and which he wrote on two stone tablets. It was at that time that the Lord commanded me to teach you his decrees and regulations so you would obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy.

“But be very careful! You did not see the Lord ’s form on the day he spoke to you from the heart of the fire at Mount Sinai. So do not corrupt yourselves by making an idol in any form—whether of a man or a woman, an animal on the ground, a bird in the sky, a small animal that scurries along the ground, or a fish in the deepest sea. And when you look up into the sky and see the sun, moon, and stars—all the forces of heaven—don’t be seduced into worshiping them. The Lord your God gave them to all the peoples of the earth. Remember that the Lord rescued you from the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt in order to make you his very own people and his special possession, which is what you are today. “But the Lord was angry with me because of you. He vowed that I would not cross the Jordan River into the good land the Lord your God is giving you as your special possession. You will cross the Jordan to occupy the land, but I will not. Instead, I will die here on the east side of the river. So be careful not to break the covenant the Lord your God has made with you. Do not make idols of any shape or form, for the Lord your God has forbidden this. The Lord your God is a devouring fire; he is a jealous God. “In the future, when you have children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time, do not corrupt yourselves by making idols of any kind. This is evil in the sight of the Lord your God and will arouse his anger. “Today I call on heaven and earth as witnesses against you. If you break my covenant, you will quickly disappear from the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy. You will live there only a short time; then you will be utterly destroyed. For the Lord will scatter you among the nations, where only a few of you will survive. There, in a foreign land, you will worship idols made from wood and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him. “In the distant future, when you are suffering all these things, you will finally return to the Lord your God and listen to what he tells you. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors.

“Now search all of history, from the time God created people on the earth until now, and search from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything as great as this ever been seen or heard before? Has any nation ever heard the voice of God speaking from fire—as you did—and survived? Has any other god dared to take a nation for himself out of another nation by means of trials, miraculous signs, wonders, war, a strong hand, a powerful arm, and terrifying acts? Yet that is what the Lord your God did for you in Egypt, right before your eyes. “He showed you these things so you would know that the Lord is God and there is no other. He let you hear his voice from heaven so he could instruct you. He let you see his great fire here on earth so he could speak to you from it. Because he loved your ancestors, he chose to bless their descendants, and he personally brought you out of Egypt with a great display of power. He drove out nations far greater than you, so he could bring you in and give you their land as your special possession, as it is today. “So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The Lord is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other. If you obey all the decrees and commands I am giving you today, all will be well with you and your children. I am giving you these instructions so you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”

Then Moses set apart three cities of refuge east of the Jordan River. Anyone who killed another person unintentionally, without previous hostility, could flee there to live in safety. These were the cities: Bezer on the wilderness plateau for the tribe of Reuben; Ramoth in Gilead for the tribe of Gad; Golan in Bashan for the tribe of Manasseh.

This is the body of instruction that Moses presented to the Israelites. These are the laws, decrees, and regulations that Moses gave to the people of Israel when they left Egypt, and as they camped in the valley near Beth-peor east of the Jordan River. (This land was formerly occupied by the Amorites under King Sihon, who ruled from Heshbon. But Moses and the Israelites destroyed him and his people when they came up from Egypt. Israel took possession of his land and that of King Og of Bashan—the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan. So Israel conquered the entire area from Aroer at the edge of the Arnon Gorge all the way to Mount Sirion, also called Mount Hermon. And they conquered the eastern bank of the Jordan River as far south as the Dead Sea, below the slopes of Pisgah.)’

Deuteronomy 4

Today’s reading then brings us into Micah.

‘Mobilize! Marshal your troops! The enemy is laying siege to Jerusalem. They will strike Israel’s leader in the face with a rod. But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf. The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the woman in labor gives birth. Then at last his fellow countrymen will return from exile to their own land. And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord ’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world. And he will be the source of peace. When the Assyrians invade our land and break through our defenses, we will appoint seven rulers to watch over us, eight princes to lead us. They will rule Assyria with drawn swords and enter the gates of the land of Nimrod. He will rescue us from the Assyrians when they pour over the borders to invade our land.

Then the remnant left in Israel will take their place among the nations. They will be like dew sent by the Lord or like rain falling on the grass, which no one can hold back and no one can restrain. The remnant left in Israel will take their place among the nations. They will be like a lion among the animals of the forest, like a strong young lion among flocks of sheep and goats, pouncing and tearing as they go with no rescuer in sight. The people of Israel will stand up to their foes, and all their enemies will be wiped out. “In that day,” says the Lord , “I will slaughter your horses and destroy your chariots. I will tear down your walls and demolish your defenses. I will put an end to all witchcraft, and there will be no more fortune-tellers. I will destroy all your idols and sacred pillars, so you will never again worship the work of your own hands. I will abolish your idol shrines with their Asherah poles and destroy your pagan cities. I will pour out my vengeance on all the nations that refuse to obey me.”’

Micah 5

and

‘Listen to what the Lord is saying: “Stand up and state your case against me. Let the mountains and hills be called to witness your complaints. And now, O mountains, listen to the Lord ’s complaint! He has a case against his people. He will bring charges against Israel. “O my people, what have I done to you? What have I done to make you tired of me? Answer me! For I brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from slavery. I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to help you. Don’t you remember, my people, how King Balak of Moab tried to have you cursed and how Balaam son of Beor blessed you instead? And remember your journey from Acacia Grove to Gilgal, when I, the Lord , did everything I could to teach you about my faithfulness.” What can we bring to the Lord ? Should we bring him burnt offerings? Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Fear the Lord if you are wise! His voice calls to everyone in Jerusalem: “The armies of destruction are coming; the Lord is sending them. What shall I say about the homes of the wicked filled with treasures gained by cheating? What about the disgusting practice of measuring out grain with dishonest measures? How can I tolerate your merchants who use dishonest scales and weights? The rich among you have become wealthy through extortion and violence. Your citizens are so used to lying that their tongues can no longer tell the truth. “Therefore, I will wound you! I will bring you to ruin for all your sins. You will eat but never have enough. Your hunger pangs and emptiness will remain. And though you try to save your money, it will come to nothing in the end. You will save a little, but I will give it to those who conquer you. You will plant crops but not harvest them. You will press your olives but not get enough oil to anoint yourselves. You will trample the grapes but get no juice to make your wine. You keep only the laws of evil King Omri; you follow only the example of wicked King Ahab! Therefore, I will make an example of you, bringing you to complete ruin. You will be treated with contempt, mocked by all who see you.”’

Micah 6

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

‘“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Do you understand all these things?” “Yes,” they said, “we do.” Then he added, “Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.”

When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country. He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.’

Matthew 13:44-58

and then Romans.

‘I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, “The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness. And this is my covenant with them, that I will take away their sins.” Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. Once, you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the people of Israel rebelled against him, God was merciful to you instead. Now they are the rebels, and God’s mercy has come to you so that they, too, will share in God’s mercy. For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone. Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord ’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.’

Romans 11:25-36

As we consider the Word from today’s reading, we close in Psalms.

‘I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven. We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal. Have mercy on us, Lord , have mercy, for we have had our fill of contempt. We have had more than our fill of the scoffing of the proud and the contempt of the arrogant.’

Psalms 123

Will you do what God tells you rather than what men order you to do?


Will you be obedient to God’s Spirit and do what He tells you to do even at the risk of orders? Will you be obedient to God’s Spirit and do what He tells you to do even at the threats of punishment? Will you be obedient to God’s Spirit and do what He tells you to do even the authorities are telling you to do something else?


Today’s reading shows us in Numbers 23 how Balaam responds to having been called by King Balak.

‘Then Balaam said to King Balak, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven young bulls and seven rams for me to sacrifice.” Balak followed his instructions, and the two of them sacrificed a young bull and a ram on each altar. Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here by your burnt offerings, and I will go to see if the Lord will respond to me. Then I will tell you whatever he reveals to me.” So Balaam went alone to the top of a bare hill, and God met him there. Balaam said to him, “I have prepared seven altars and have sacrificed a young bull and a ram on each altar.” The Lord gave Balaam a message for King Balak. Then he said, “Go back to Balak and give him my message.” So Balaam returned and found the king standing beside his burnt offerings with all the officials of Moab. This was the message Balaam delivered: “Balak summoned me to come from Aram; the king of Moab brought me from the eastern hills. ‘Come,’ he said, ‘curse Jacob for me! Come and announce Israel’s doom.’ But how can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I condemn those whom the Lord has not condemned? I see them from the cliff tops; I watch them from the hills. I see a people who live by themselves, set apart from other nations. Who can count Jacob’s descendants, as numerous as dust? Who can count even a fourth of Israel’s people? Let me die like the righteous; let my life end like theirs.” Then King Balak demanded of Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies. Instead, you have blessed them!” But Balaam replied, “I will speak only the message that the Lord puts in my mouth.”

Then King Balak told him, “Come with me to another place. There you will see another part of the nation of Israel, but not all of them. Curse at least that many!” So Balak took Balaam to the plateau of Zophim on Pisgah Peak. He built seven altars there and offered a young bull and a ram on each altar. Then Balaam said to the king, “Stand here by your burnt offerings while I go over there to meet the Lord .” And the Lord met Balaam and gave him a message. Then he said, “Go back to Balak and give him my message.” So Balaam returned and found the king standing beside his burnt offerings with all the officials of Moab. “What did the Lord say?” Balak asked eagerly. This was the message Balaam delivered: “Rise up, Balak, and listen! Hear me, son of Zippor. God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? Listen, I received a command to bless; God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it! No misfortune is in his plan for Jacob; no trouble is in store for Israel. For the Lord their God is with them; he has been proclaimed their king. God brought them out of Egypt; for them he is as strong as a wild ox. No curse can touch Jacob; no magic has any power against Israel. For now it will be said of Jacob, ‘What wonders God has done for Israel!’ These people rise up like a lioness, like a majestic lion rousing itself. They refuse to rest until they have feasted on prey, drinking the blood of the slaughtered!”

Then Balak said to Balaam, “Fine, but if you won’t curse them, at least don’t bless them!” But Balaam replied to Balak, “Didn’t I tell you that I can do only what the Lord tells me?” Then King Balak said to Balaam, “Come, I will take you to one more place. Perhaps it will please God to let you curse them from there.” So Balak took Balaam to the top of Mount Peor, overlooking the wasteland. Balaam again told Balak, “Build me seven altars, and prepare seven young bulls and seven rams for me to sacrifice.” ‘

Numbers 23

Today’s reading then brings us into Amos 5

‘What sorrow awaits you who say, “If only the day of the Lord were here!” You have no idea what you are wishing for. That day will bring darkness, not light. In that day you will be like a man who runs from a lion— only to meet a bear. Escaping from the bear, he leans his hand against a wall in his house— and he’s bitten by a snake. Yes, the day of the Lord will be dark and hopeless, without a ray of joy or hope. “I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living. “Was it to me you were bringing sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, Israel? No, you served your pagan gods—Sakkuth your king god and Kaiwan your star god—the images you made for yourselves. So I will send you into exile, to a land east of Damascus, ” says the Lord , whose name is the God of Heaven’s Armies.’

Amos 5:18-27

and continues into Amos 6.

‘What sorrow awaits you who lounge in luxury in Jerusalem, and you who feel secure in Samaria! You are famous and popular in Israel, and people go to you for help. But go over to Calneh and see what happened there. Then go to the great city of Hamath and down to the Philistine city of Gath. You are no better than they were, and look at how they were destroyed. You push away every thought of coming disaster, but your actions only bring the day of judgment closer. How terrible for you who sprawl on ivory beds and lounge on your couches, eating the meat of tender lambs from the flock and of choice calves fattened in the stall. You sing trivial songs to the sound of the harp and fancy yourselves to be great musicians like David. You drink wine by the bowlful and perfume yourselves with fragrant lotions. You care nothing about the ruin of your nation. Therefore, you will be the first to be led away as captives. Suddenly, all your parties will end. The Sovereign Lord has sworn by his own name, and this is what he, the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, says: “I despise the arrogance of Israel, and I hate their fortresses. I will give this city and everything in it to their enemies.” (If there are ten men left in one house, they will all die. And when a relative who is responsible to dispose of the dead goes into the house to carry out the bodies, he will ask the last survivor, “Is anyone else with you?” When the person begins to swear, “No, by . . . ,” he will interrupt and say, “Stop! Don’t even mention the name of the Lord .”) When the Lord gives the command, homes both great and small will be smashed to pieces. Can horses gallop over boulders? Can oxen be used to plow them? But that’s how foolish you are when you turn justice into poison and the sweet fruit of righteousness into bitterness. And you brag about your conquest of Lo-debar. You boast, “Didn’t we take Karnaim by our own strength?” “O people of Israel, I am about to bring an enemy nation against you,” says the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies. “They will oppress you throughout your land— from Lebo-hamath in the north to the Arabah Valley in the south.”’

Amos 6

Today’s reading then takes us into the New Testament and starts us with Matthew 7

‘“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.’

Matthew 7:15-29

and continues into Romans 5.

‘Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.’

Romans 5:1-11

Today’s reading concludes with Psalms 113.

‘Praise the Lord ! Yes, give praise, O servants of the Lord . Praise the name of the Lord ! Blessed be the name of the Lord now and forever. Everywhere—from east to west— praise the name of the Lord . For the Lord is high above the nations; his glory is higher than the heavens. Who can be compared with the Lord our God, who is enthroned on high? He stoops to look down on heaven and on earth. He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, even the princes of his own people! He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother. Praise the Lord !’

Psalms 113

So how will you respond when you are being called to go against the commandments of God? So how will you respond when you are being called to go against the Holy Spirit’s instruction? So how will you respond when you are being told to do something contrary to God’s direction? What is most important to you? What will direct your steps and actions and words? Who will you obey?

Does everything have a place? Do you have a place for everything?


Do you see what is coming? Are you getting ready? Are you preparing so that you will have a place? Are you preparing so you know where everything goes? Do you have an inventory? Do you have an inventory of the things you have? Do you have an inventory of the things being done? Do you have an inventory of things that are being ignored, deprioritized, avoided, need to get done? How are you keeping track? How are you getting prepared? How will you receive the change? How will you make sure that everything gets done in a way that will glorify God? Do you know how to distinguish between the yes, the no, and the delegate-able?

How will you make sure that everything has a place? How will you make sure that you have a place for everything? How will you make sure that as you do everything as unto the Lord that He receives the praise, the honor, and the glory?


Today’s reading gets us started in Numbers 8.

‘The Lord said to Moses, “Give Aaron the following instructions: When you set up the seven lamps in the lampstand, place them so their light shines forward in front of the lampstand.” So Aaron did this. He set up the seven lamps so they reflected their light forward, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. The entire lampstand, from its base to its decorative blossoms, was made of beaten gold. It was built according to the exact design the Lord had shown Moses.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now set the Levites apart from the rest of the people of Israel and make them ceremonially clean. Do this by sprinkling them with the water of purification, and have them shave their entire body and wash their clothing. Then they will be ceremonially clean. Have them bring a young bull and a grain offering of choice flour moistened with olive oil, along with a second young bull for a sin offering. Then assemble the whole community of Israel, and present the Levites at the entrance of the Tabernacle. When you present the Levites before the Lord , the people of Israel must lay their hands on them. Raising his hands, Aaron must then present the Levites to the Lord as a special offering from the people of Israel, thus dedicating them to the Lord ’s service. “Next the Levites will lay their hands on the heads of the young bulls. Present one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering to the Lord , to purify the Levites and make them right with the Lord . Then have the Levites stand in front of Aaron and his sons, and raise your hands and present them as a special offering to the Lord . In this way, you will set the Levites apart from the rest of the people of Israel, and the Levites will belong to me. After this, they may go into the Tabernacle to do their work, because you have purified them and presented them as a special offering. “Of all the people of Israel, the Levites are reserved for me. I have claimed them for myself in place of all the firstborn sons of the Israelites; I have taken the Levites as their substitutes. For all the firstborn males among the people of Israel are mine, both of people and of animals. I set them apart for myself on the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians. Yes, I have claimed the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons of Israel. And of all the Israelites, I have assigned the Levites to Aaron and his sons. They will serve in the Tabernacle on behalf of the Israelites and make sacrifices to purify the people so no plague will strike them when they approach the sanctuary.” So Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel dedicated the Levites, carefully following all the Lord ’s instructions to Moses. The Levites purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes, and Aaron lifted them up and presented them to the Lord as a special offering. He then offered a sacrifice to purify them and make them right with the Lord . After that the Levites went into the Tabernacle to perform their duties, assisting Aaron and his sons. So they carried out all the commands that the Lord gave Moses concerning the Levites. The Lord also instructed Moses, “This is the rule the Levites must follow: They must begin serving in the Tabernacle at the age of twenty-five, and they must retire at the age of fifty. After retirement they may assist their fellow Levites by serving as guards at the Tabernacle, but they may not officiate in the service. This is how you must assign duties to the Levites.”’

Numbers 8

Today’s reading continues into Numbers 9.

‘A year after Israel’s departure from Egypt, the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai. In the first month of that year he said, “Tell the Israelites to celebrate the Passover at the prescribed time, at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. Be sure to follow all my decrees and regulations concerning this celebration.” So Moses told the people to celebrate the Passover in the wilderness of Sinai as twilight fell on the fourteenth day of the month. And they celebrated the festival there, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. But some of the men had been ceremonially defiled by touching a dead body, so they could not celebrate the Passover that day. They came to Moses and Aaron that day and said, “We have become ceremonially unclean by touching a dead body. But why should we be prevented from presenting the Lord ’s offering at the proper time with the rest of the Israelites?” Moses answered, “Wait here until I have received instructions for you from the Lord .” This was the Lord ’s reply to Moses. “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: If any of the people now or in future generations are ceremonially unclean at Passover time because of touching a dead body, or if they are on a journey and cannot be present at the ceremony, they may still celebrate the Lord ’s Passover. They must offer the Passover sacrifice one month later, at twilight on the fourteenth day of the second month. They must eat the Passover lamb at that time with bitter salad greens and bread made without yeast. They must not leave any of the lamb until the next morning, and they must not break any of its bones. They must follow all the normal regulations concerning the Passover. “But those who neglect to celebrate the Passover at the regular time, even though they are ceremonially clean and not away on a trip, will be cut off from the community of Israel. If they fail to present the Lord ’s offering at the proper time, they will suffer the consequences of their guilt. And if foreigners living among you want to celebrate the Passover to the Lord , they must follow these same decrees and regulations. The same laws apply both to native-born Israelites and to the foreigners living among you.” On the day the Tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it. But from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire. This was the regular pattern—at night the cloud that covered the Tabernacle had the appearance of fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp. In this way, they traveled and camped at the Lord ’s command wherever he told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle. If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed and performed their duty to the Lord . Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days, as the Lord commanded. Then at the Lord ’s command they would break camp and move on. Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on. Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. So they camped or traveled at the Lord ’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses.’

Numbers 9

Today’s reading takes us into the wisdom from Solomon with Ecclesiastes 7

‘A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume. And the day you die is better than the day you are born. Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies— so the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time. Better to be criticized by a wise person than to be praised by a fool. A fool’s laughter is quickly gone, like thorns crackling in a fire. This also is meaningless. Extortion turns wise people into fools, and bribes corrupt the heart. Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride. Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool. Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise. Wisdom is even better when you have money. Both are a benefit as you go through life. Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life. Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked? Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life.

I have seen everything in this meaningless life, including the death of good young people and the long life of wicked people. So don’t be too good or too wise! Why destroy yourself? On the other hand, don’t be too wicked either. Don’t be a fool! Why die before your time? Pay attention to these instructions, for anyone who fears God will avoid both extremes. One wise person is stronger than ten leading citizens of a town! Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins. Don’t eavesdrop on others—you may hear your servant curse you. For you know how often you yourself have cursed others. I have always tried my best to let wisdom guide my thoughts and actions. I said to myself, “I am determined to be wise.” But it didn’t work. Wisdom is always distant and difficult to find. I searched everywhere, determined to find wisdom and to understand the reason for things. I was determined to prove to myself that wickedness is stupid and that foolishness is madness. I discovered that a seductive woman is a trap more bitter than death. Her passion is a snare, and her soft hands are chains. Those who are pleasing to God will escape her, but sinners will be caught in her snare. “This is my conclusion,” says the Teacher. “I discovered this after looking at the matter from every possible angle. Though I have searched repeatedly, I have not found what I was looking for. Only one out of a thousand men is virtuous, but not one woman! But I did find this: God created people to be virtuous, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path.”’

Ecclesiastes 7

and continues into Ecclesiastes 8

‘How wonderful to be wise, to analyze and interpret things. Wisdom lights up a person’s face, softening its harshness.

Obey the king since you vowed to God that you would. Don’t try to avoid doing your duty, and don’t stand with those who plot evil, for the king can do whatever he wants. His command is backed by great power. No one can resist or question it. Those who obey him will not be punished. Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right, for there is a time and a way for everything, even when a person is in trouble. Indeed, how can people avoid what they don’t know is going to happen? None of us can hold back our spirit from departing. None of us has the power to prevent the day of our death. There is no escaping that obligation, that dark battle. And in the face of death, wickedness will certainly not rescue the wicked.

I have thought deeply about all that goes on here under the sun, where people have the power to hurt each other. I have seen wicked people buried with honor. Yet they were the very ones who frequented the Temple and are now praised in the same city where they committed their crimes! This, too, is meaningless. When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong. But even though a person sins a hundred times and still lives a long time, I know that those who fear God will be better off. The wicked will not prosper, for they do not fear God. Their days will never grow long like the evening shadows. And this is not all that is meaningless in our world. In this life, good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good. This is so meaningless! So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun. In my search for wisdom and in my observation of people’s burdens here on earth, I discovered that there is ceaseless activity, day and night. I realized that no one can discover everything God is doing under the sun. Not even the wisest people discover everything, no matter what they claim.’

Ecclesiastes 8

Today’s reading then brings us into the New Testament starting in Matthew 2

‘Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’ ” Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”’

Matthew 2:1-15

and then continues into 2 Corinthians 12

‘You have made me act like a fool. You ought to be writing commendations for me, for I am not at all inferior to these “super apostles,” even though I am nothing at all. When I was with you, I certainly gave you proof that I am an apostle. For I patiently did many signs and wonders and miracles among you. The only thing I failed to do, which I do in the other churches, was to become a financial burden to you. Please forgive me for this wrong! Now I am coming to you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you. I don’t want what you have—I want you. After all, children don’t provide for their parents. Rather, parents provide for their children. I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me. Some of you admit I was not a burden to you. But others still think I was sneaky and took advantage of you by trickery. But how? Did any of the men I sent to you take advantage of you? When I urged Titus to visit you and sent our other brother with him, did Titus take advantage of you? No! For we have the same spirit and walk in each other’s steps, doing things the same way. Perhaps you think we’re saying these things just to defend ourselves. No, we tell you this as Christ’s servants, and with God as our witness. Everything we do, dear friends, is to strengthen you. For I am afraid that when I come I won’t like what I find, and you won’t like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior. Yes, I am afraid that when I come again, God will humble me in your presence. And I will be grieved because many of you have not given up your old sins. You have not repented of your impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure.’

2 Corinthians 12:11-21

As we consider today’s reading from God’s Word. As we consider this day we are entering into. As we consider where everything goes. As we consider what places are available or potential options. Let’s us stop and seek God’s wisdom and will so that we won’t be doing it willy-nilly but instead with a plan and a purpose, just like God created us with a plan and a purpose. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to bring a peace that surpasses all understanding. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us while comforting and strengthening us through the process.

Today’s reading concludes with a psalm from Psalms 101.

‘I will sing of your love and justice, Lord . I will praise you with songs. I will be careful to live a blameless life— when will you come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them. I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil. I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride. I will search for faithful people to be my companions. Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve me. I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house, and liars will not stay in my presence. My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked and free the city of the Lord from their grip.’

Psalms 101

We understand the what now let’s check out the how.


Ever gotten unclear requirements or specification? Ever had problems try to get clear and specific requirements? Ever noticed how once you have the what understood it makes trying to determine how to solve it easier? Many people feel the how is the hard work. Defining the what in a clear and succinct way can take a lot more time and energy. So once you understand the what you will be ready to start on the how necessary to make it happen. Do you understand the what or will you push it back to the requester to make the what clearer? Are the acceptance criteria clear? Now that you have the what defined are you ready to get into the exciting part and get working on the how that will bring it to life? Are you ready for how the work you do will make what you deliver alive and available to the people?


Today’s reading begins in Leviticus 1.

‘The Lord called to Moses from the Tabernacle and said to him, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. When you present an animal as an offering to the Lord , you may take it from your herd of cattle or your flock of sheep and goats. “If the animal you present as a burnt offering is from the herd, it must be a male with no defects. Bring it to the entrance of the Tabernacle so you may be accepted by the Lord . Lay your hand on the animal’s head, and the Lord will accept its death in your place to purify you, making you right with him. Then slaughter the young bull in the Lord ’s presence, and Aaron’s sons, the priests, will present the animal’s blood by splattering it against all sides of the altar that stands at the entrance to the Tabernacle. Then skin the animal and cut it into pieces. The sons of Aaron the priest will build a wood fire on the altar. They will arrange the pieces of the offering, including the head and fat, on the wood burning on the altar. But the internal organs and the legs must first be washed with water. Then the priest will burn the entire sacrifice on the altar as a burnt offering. It is a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the Lord . “If the animal you present as a burnt offering is from the flock, it may be either a sheep or a goat, but it must be a male with no defects. Slaughter the animal on the north side of the altar in the Lord ’s presence, and Aaron’s sons, the priests, will splatter its blood against all sides of the altar. Then cut the animal in pieces, and the priests will arrange the pieces of the offering, including the head and fat, on the wood burning on the altar. But the internal organs and the legs must first be washed with water. Then the priest will burn the entire sacrifice on the altar as a burnt offering. It is a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the Lord . “If you present a bird as a burnt offering to the Lord , choose either a turtledove or a young pigeon. The priest will take the bird to the altar, wring off its head, and burn it on the altar. But first he must drain its blood against the side of the altar. The priest must also remove the crop and the feathers and throw them in the ashes on the east side of the altar. Then, grasping the bird by its wings, the priest will tear the bird open, but without tearing it apart. Then he will burn it as a burnt offering on the wood burning on the altar. It is a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the Lord .’

Leviticus 1

Today’s reading continues into Leviticus 2.

‘“When you present grain as an offering to the Lord , the offering must consist of choice flour. You are to pour olive oil on it, sprinkle it with frankincense, and bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests. The priest will scoop out a handful of the flour moistened with oil, together with all the frankincense, and burn this representative portion on the altar. It is a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the Lord . The rest of the grain offering will then be given to Aaron and his sons. This offering will be considered a most holy part of the special gifts presented to the Lord . “If your offering is a grain offering baked in an oven, it must be made of choice flour, but without any yeast. It may be presented in the form of thin cakes mixed with olive oil or wafers spread with olive oil. If your grain offering is cooked on a griddle, it must be made of choice flour mixed with olive oil but without any yeast. Break it in pieces and pour olive oil on it; it is a grain offering. If your grain offering is prepared in a pan, it must be made of choice flour and olive oil. “No matter how a grain offering for the Lord has been prepared, bring it to the priest, who will present it at the altar. The priest will take a representative portion of the grain offering and burn it on the altar. It is a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the Lord . The rest of the grain offering will then be given to Aaron and his sons as their food. This offering will be considered a most holy part of the special gifts presented to the Lord . “Do not use yeast in preparing any of the grain offerings you present to the Lord , because no yeast or honey may be burned as a special gift presented to the Lord . You may add yeast and honey to an offering of the first crops of your harvest, but these must never be offered on the altar as a pleasing aroma to the Lord . Season all your grain offerings with salt to remind you of God’s eternal covenant. Never forget to add salt to your grain offerings. “If you present a grain offering to the Lord from the first portion of your harvest, bring fresh grain that is coarsely ground and roasted on a fire. Put olive oil on this grain offering, and sprinkle it with frankincense. The priest will take a representative portion of the grain moistened with oil, together with all the frankincense, and burn it as a special gift presented to the Lord .’

Leviticus 2

Today’s reading continues into Job 35.

‘Then Elihu said: “Do you think it is right for you to claim, ‘I am righteous before God’? For you also ask, ‘What’s in it for me? What’s the use of living a righteous life?’ “I will answer you and all your friends, too. Look up into the sky, and see the clouds high above you. If you sin, how does that affect God? Even if you sin again and again, what effect will it have on him? If you are good, is this some great gift to him? What could you possibly give him? No, your sins affect only people like yourself, and your good deeds also affect only humans. “People cry out when they are oppressed. They groan beneath the power of the mighty. Yet they don’t ask, ‘Where is God my Creator, the one who gives songs in the night? Where is the one who makes us smarter than the animals and wiser than the birds of the sky?’ And when they cry out, God does not answer because of their pride. But it is wrong to say God doesn’t listen, to say the Almighty isn’t concerned. You say you can’t see him, but he will bring justice if you will only wait. You say he does not respond to sinners with anger and is not greatly concerned about wickedness. But you are talking nonsense, Job. You have spoken like a fool.”’

Job 35

Today’s reading next brings us into the New Testament in Mark 7.

‘One day some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating. (The Jews, especially the Pharisees, do not eat until they have poured water over their cupped hands, as required by their ancient traditions. Similarly, they don’t eat anything from the market until they immerse their hands in water. This is but one of many traditions they have clung to—such as their ceremonial washing of cups, pitchers, and kettles. ) So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.” Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.” Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition. For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you let them disregard their needy parents. And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others.”’

Mark 7:1-13

Today’s continues into 1 Corinthians 14.

‘Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious. But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church. I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened. Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you speaking in an unknown language, how would that help you? But if I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching, that will be helpful. Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle? It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space. There are many different languages in the world, and every language has meaning. But if I don’t understand a language, I will be a foreigner to someone who speaks it, and the one who speaks it will be a foreigner to me. And the same is true for you. Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.’

1 Corinthians 14:1-12

As we conclude in today’s reading from God’s Word let’s take a moment to meditate on God’s Word and to take in what our final part of today’s reading from the Psalms has to tell us as we read Psalms 70.

‘Please, God, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord , and help me. May those who try to kill me be humiliated and put to shame. May those who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace. Let them be horrified by their shame, for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!” But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “God is great!” But as for me, I am poor and needy; please hurry to my aid, O God. You are my helper and my savior; O Lord , do not delay.’

Psalms 70