At work? At school? On the field? On the road? I remember how my mom used to say “the bigger they are the harder they fall”. Don’t be afraid of giants!
It’s kind of like being in the midst of a storm, where does your focus go? Where should it go?
Last night before rehearsal the topic of Peter getting out of the boat and walking on water and the importance of keeping our eyes on Jesus. We can’t focus on the waves. Wave can’t focus on the storm. We can’t focus on the giants. We need to keep our focus on Jesus and what He calls us to be and to do. We need to remember all He has done and then move forward in all that He is doing and is about to do as He goes before us to prepare the good work He has for us to do!
Today’s reading kicks off on the topic of giants…
Who Brings Down Giants?
1“Hear, O Israel! You are about to cross over the Jordan today, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourself—cities great and fortified up to the heavens. 2The people are great and tall, sons of the Anakim. You know them, and you yourselves have heard, “Who can stand before the sons of Anak?” 3But you will know today that Adonai your God is the One who is crossing over before you as a devouring fire. He will destroy them, and He will bring them down before you, so that you may drive them out and make them perish quickly, as Adonai has promised you. 4“After Adonai your God has driven them out from before you, do not say in your heart, ‘It is because of my righteousness that Adonai has brought me in to possess this land.’ It is because of the wickedness of these nations that Adonai is driving them out from before you. 5It is not by your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you are going in to possess their land. Rather, because of the wickedness of these nations, Adonai your God is driving them out from before you, and in order to keep the word Adonai swore to your fathers—to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 6So you should understand that it is not because of your righteousness that Adonai your God is giving you this good land to possess—for you are a stiff-necked people.
What Happened to the Tablets?
7“Remember, never forget, how you provoked Adonai your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you left the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against Adonai. 8At Horeb you provoked Adonai to wrath, and Adonai was angry with you—enough to destroy you. 9When I went up the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that Adonai cut with you, I stayed on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights; I did not eat bread or drink water. 10Adonai gave me the two tablets of stone written by the finger of God. Moreover, on them were all the words that Adonai had spoken with you on the mountain from the midst of the fire, on the day of the assembly. 11“Now at the end of 40 days and 40 nights, Adonai gave me the two tablets of stone—the tablets of the covenant. 12Adonai said to me, ‘Get up! Go quickly down from here, for your people whom you brought out from Egypt have acted corruptly. They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them; they have made a molten image for themselves.’ 13Furthermore Adonai spoke to me saying, ‘I have seen this people, and it is indeed a stiff-necked people. 14Leave Me alone, so that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under the heavens. Then I will make you into a nation mightier and greater than they.’ 15“So I turned and came down from the mountain while the mountain was burning with fire. Now the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands. 16When I looked, you had indeed sinned against Adonai your God—you had made yourselves a metal calf. So quickly you had turned aside from the way Adonai had commanded you! 17So I took hold of the two tablets, threw them out of my two hands, and smashed them before your eyes. 18“Then I fell down before Adonai like the first time, for 40 days and 40 nights. I did not eat bread or drink water—because of all your sin that you committed, doing evil in Adonai’s sight, provoking Him to anger. 19For I was afraid of the fierce wrath and fury which Adonai bore toward you—to destroy you. But Adonai listened to me that time also. 20Adonai was angry enough with Aaron to destroy him, so I prayed for Aaron also at the same time. 21I took your sin—the calf you had made—and burned it in the fire. I crushed it, grinding it up so well that it was as fine as dust, and I threw its dust into the wadi flowing down from the mountain. 22“Again at Taberah and Massah and Kibroth-hattaavah, you provoked Adonai to wrath. 23When Adonai sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, ‘Go up and possess the land I have given you,’ then you rebelled against the commandment of Adonai your God and didn’t believe Him or listen to His voice. 24You have been rebellious against Adonai from the day that I knew you. 25“So I threw myself down before Adonai those 40 days and 40 nights, because Adonai had said He would destroy you. 26I prayed to Adonai and said, ‘O Lord, Adonai, do not destroy Your people—Your inheritance that You have redeemed through Your greatness and brought out from Egypt with a mighty hand. 27Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Pay no attention to the stubbornness of this people or to their wickedness or their sin. 28Otherwise the land from which You brought us out may say, “Because Adonai was not able to bring them into the land that He spoke of to them, and because He hated them, He has brought them out to kill them in the wilderness.” 29Yet they are Your people—Your inheritance that You brought out by Your great power and Your outstretched arm.’
–from Deuteronomy 9
Don’t turn away from God! Don’t walk away! Don’t complain or grumble! Build up your relationship with Him! Build up your hope and trust in Him! Be willing to wait on Him! Be willing to listen to what He says to you! Be willing to be obedient to His instruction and directions!
Just because you mess up, don’t lose hope! Turn back to Him! He is the God of the second chances, third chances, fourth changes…. So don’t beat yourself up too much but rather turn back to God and ask Him for forgiveness and wisdom into how to proceed! He doesn’t setup boundaries to keep you from having fun, but rather to protect you. His plans for you are good! He is LOVE! So let’s give Him our hearts so that He can move in and work in and through us!
We hear about the second chances when God produced the second set of tablets…
Two New Tablets
1“At that time Adonai said to me, ‘Carve for yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones and come up to Me on the mountain. Make yourself an ark of wood. 2I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets that you smashed, and you are to put them in the ark.’ 3“So I made an ark of acacia wood, cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and went up the mountain with the two tablets in my hand. 4Like the first inscription, Adonai wrote on the tablets the Ten Words He had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly, then gave them to me. 5Then I turned and came down from the mountain and put the tablets in the ark I had made—and there they are, just as Adonai commanded me. 6“(Bnei-Yisrael traveled from the wells of the sons of Jaakan to Moserah—there Aaron died and was buried, and his son Eleazar served as kohen in his place. 7From there they journeyed to Gudgod, and from Gudgod to Jotbah—a land of wadis flowing with water. 8At that time Adonai set the tribe of Levi apart to carry the Ark of the Covenant of Adonai, to stand before Adonai to serve Him and to pronounce blessings in His Name—as is the case to this day. 9Therefore Levi has no portion or inheritance with his brothers—Adonai is his inheritance, just as Adonai your God had promised about him.) 10“I stayed on the mountain like the first time—40 days and 40 nights. Adonai listened to me that time also and was not willing to destroy you. 11Adonai said to me, ‘Rise up, go, journey ahead of the people so that they may go in and possess the land that I swore to their fathers to give to them.’ 12“So now, O Israel, what does Adonai your God require of you, but to fear Adonai your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13to keep the mitzvot of Adonai and His statutes that I am commanding you today, for your own good? 14Behold, to Adonai your God belong the heavens and the highest of heavens, the earth and all that is in it. 15Only on your fathers did Adonai set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them—you—from all the peoples, as is the case this day.
Circumcise Your Hearts
16“Circumcise the foreskin of your heart therefore, and do not be stiff-necked anymore. 17For Adonai your God is God of gods and Lord of lords —the great, mighty and awesome God, who does not show partiality or take a bribe. 18He enacts justice for the orphan and widow, and loves the outsider, giving him food and clothing. 19Therefore love the outsider, for you were outsiders in the land of Egypt. 20Adonai your God you will fear—Him will you serve. To Him will you cling, and by His Name will you swear. 21He is your praise and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your eyes have seen. 22Your fathers went down to Egypt with 70 persons, and now Adonai your God has made you like the stars of the heavens in number.
–from Deuteronomy 10
We shouldn’t hide from God! In reality we can’t anyways! And when and while we build up our relationship with Him, He will walk with us and talk with us and lead us on our way! Let’s not grow weary in doing good works! Let’s turn to God when we are being attacked! Let’s turn to God when we don’t know what to do! Let’s walk with Him through the mountain top highs as well as the low times in the valleys of life!
Hide Not Your Face from Me
1A psalm of David. Hear my prayer, Adonai, give ear to my petitions. In Your faithfulness and Your righteousness, answer me! 2Do not bring Your servant into judgment, for in Your eyes no one living is righteous. 3For an enemy pursues my soul. He crushes my life down to the ground. He makes me dwell in darkness, like those long dead. 4So my spirit grows faint within me. My heart is shocked within me. 5I remember the days of old. I meditate on all You have done. I ponder the work of Your hands. 6I spread forth my hands to You. My soul longs for You as a parched land. Selah 7Answer me speedily, Adonai— my spirit fails. Hide not Your face from me, lest I become like those who go down into the Pit. 8Make me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You I trust. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. 9Deliver me from my enemies, Adonai. I hide myself in You. 10Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God. Let Your good Ruach lead me on level ground. 11For Your Name’s sake, Adonai, revive me. In Your justice bring my soul out of trouble. 12In Your mercy cut off my enemies and destroy all who harass my soul, for I am Your servant.
–from Psalms 143
Let’s not be self-centered! Let’s not be selfish! Let’s be generous! Let’s be givers! Let’s share what God has given us! I remember a story from camp growing up where there were warm fuzzies and cold prickelies. And someone had told one of the people who had been giving out of warm fuzzies that if they kept doing that they could run out. Out of fear when others would give them warm fuzzies, they started to give them cold prickelies back. Eventually things got really bad but the truth set everyone free. As long as we are giving love, we will never run out! So we need to be living in love and generously sharing love with those God has brought into your life! Be willing to give grace to others as God provides and has exemplified grace to you! There is a cost, but it is totally worth it.
Eagerness to Give
1Now we make known to you, brothers and sisters, the grace God has given to Messiah’s communities in Macedonia— 2that in much testing by affliction, the abundance of their joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3For I testify that according to their ability, and even beyond their ability, they gave of their own free will— 4begging us with much urging for the favor of sharing in the relief of the kedoshim. 5Moreover, it was not just as we had hoped, but they gave of themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. 6So we urged Titus that, just as he had made a start before, so he should also complete this gracious service for you. 7But as you excel in everything—in faith and speech and knowledge and all diligence, and in your love for us—also excel in this grace. 8I am saying this not as a command, but I am trying to prove by the diligence of others the genuineness of your love as well. 9For you know the grace of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah—that even though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that through His poverty you might become rich. 10Now I give my opinion in this matter, that it is a credit to you that a year ago you were the first to start—not only to do but even to be willing. 11But now finish doing it, so that just as there was eagerness to be willing, so also to finish it, out of what you have. 12For if the eagerness is present, the gift is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he doesn’t have. 13For it is not relief for others and hardship for you, but as a matter of equality. 14Your abundance at this present time meets their need, so that their abundance may also meet your need—so that there may be equality. 15As it is written, “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”
An Offering by Special Delivery
16But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same devotion for you. 17For indeed he not only accepted our appeal, but went to you with eagerness and on his own initiative. 18We are sending along with him the brother whose fame in connection with the Good News has spread throughout all of Messiah’s communities. 19Not only that, but he has also been appointed by the communities as our travel companion with this gracious gift, which is administered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself and to show our eagerness to help. 20We are taking this precaution, so that no one will blame us in regard to the way we administer this generous gift. 21We have regard for what is honorable—not only before the Lord, but also before people. 22Also with them we are sending our brother whom we have tested many times and found to be diligent in many things, but now even more diligent because of his great confidence in you. 23As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brothers, they are the emissaries of the communities, a glory to Messiah. 24Therefore, before Messiah’s communities show them the proof of your love and of our boasting about you.
–from 2 Corinthians 8
We are to live in love! God’s plan is perfect! Are you willing to do it His way rather than trying to mess with it? Are you willing to go His way rather than try to switch it up? Are you about the truth or trickery? Are you about love? Are you about hope? Are you about forgiveness? There is a cost but in the end your return on investment is totally worth it.
Abide in Marriage
1Then getting up from there, Yeshua goes to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. Again crowds gather around Him, and, as was His custom, He began to teach them once more. 2Pharisees came up, and to test Him they began asking, “Is it permitted for a man to divorce his wife?” 3And He replied to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4The Pharisees said, “Moses permitted a man to write a bill of divorce and to put her away.” 5But Yeshua said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment! 6But from the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female. 7For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate!” 10In the house, the disciples began questioning Him about this again. 11And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12And if she divorces her husband and marries another, she is committing adultery.”
Let the Little Ones Come!
13Now people were bringing little children to Yeshua so He might touch them, but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14But when Yeshua saw this, He got angry. He told them, “Let the little children come to Me! Do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15Amen, I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it!” 16And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.
The Cost of Discipleship
17As Yeshua was setting out on His way, a man ran up to Him, fell on his knees before Him, and asked, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18“Why do you call Me good?” Yeshua said to him. “No one is good except One—that is God. 19You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony,’ do not cheat, ‘honor your father and mother.’” 20The man responded, “Teacher, all these I have kept since my youth!” 21Looking at him, Yeshua loved him and said, “One thing you lack. Go, sell as much as you have, and give to the poor; and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” 22But at this statement, the man became sad and went away grieving, for he had much property. 23Then looking around, Yeshua says to His disciples, “How hard it will be for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 24The disciples were amazed at His words. But Yeshua answers again and says to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26The disciples were even more astonished, saying among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” 27Looking at them, Yeshua said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God!” 28Peter began to say to Him, “Look, we’ve left everything to follow You!” 29“Amen, I tell you,” Yeshua replied, “there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for My sake and for the sake of the Good News, 30who will not receive a hundred times as much now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and property, along with persecutions; and in the olam ha-ba , eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Death and Resurrection Revealed
32They were on the way going up to Jerusalem, and Yeshua was going ahead of them. And they were amazed, while those who followed were fearful. Again Yeshua took the Twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him. 33He said, “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the ruling kohanim and the Torah scholars. They will condemn Him to death and hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34They will mock Him and spit on Him, scourge Him and kill Him. Yet after three days, He will rise again!” 35Then Jacob and John, the sons of Zebedee, come up to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37They said to Him, “Let us sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” 38But Yeshua answered them, “You don’t know what you’re asking! Are you able to drink the cup I drink, or endure the immersion I must endure?” 39They said to Him, “We are able.” And Yeshua said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink, and you will endure the immersion I must endure. 40But to sit on My right or left is not Mine to grant—it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41Now when the ten heard, they started to get angry with Jacob and John. 42And calling them over, Yeshua said to them, “You know those recognized as rulers of the nations lord it over them, and their great ones play the tyrant over them. 43Yet it is not this way among you. But whoever wants to be great among you shall be your servant, 44and whoever wants to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Ben-David Heals the Blind
46Then they came to Jericho. Now as Yeshua was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47When he heard that it was Yeshua of Natzeret, he began to cry out, “Ben-David, Yeshua! Have mercy on me!” 48Many were warning him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Ben-David, have mercy on me!” 49Yeshua stopped and said, “Call him over.” So they call the blind man, saying, “Take heart! Get up, He’s calling you!” 50Throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and came to Yeshua. 51And answering him, Yeshua said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Rabboni, I want to see again!” 52Yeshua said to him, “Go! Your faith has made you well.” Instantly he regained his sight and began following Yeshua down the road.
–from Mark 10