What did it take for you to take a hold of what God’s plans are? What did it take for you to take hold of what God’s purposes are? Did you hear someone speak it or did you read it?
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Was it when you heard or read about the definition of love and that God is love?
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.—1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Are you still searching? Are you still seeking? Are you still asking? Are you still knocking? Don’t give up and keep pressing in for God’s Word tells us:
7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
Today’s reading gets us started in Numbers 24 continuing the story of Balaam and king Balak
‘By now Balaam realized that the Lord was determined to bless Israel, so he did not resort to divination as before. Instead, he turned and looked out toward the wilderness, where he saw the people of Israel camped, tribe by tribe. Then the Spirit of God came upon him, and this is the message he delivered: “This is the message of Balaam son of Beor, the message of the man whose eyes see clearly, the message of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who bows down with eyes wide open: How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob; how lovely are your homes, O Israel! They spread before me like palm groves, like gardens by the riverside. They are like tall trees planted by the Lord , like cedars beside the waters. Water will flow from their buckets; their offspring have all they need. Their king will be greater than Agag; their kingdom will be exalted. God brought them out of Egypt; for them he is as strong as a wild ox. He devours all the nations that oppose him, breaking their bones in pieces, shooting them with arrows. Like a lion, Israel crouches and lies down; like a lioness, who dares to arouse her? Blessed is everyone who blesses you, O Israel, and cursed is everyone who curses you.” King Balak flew into a rage against Balaam. He angrily clapped his hands and shouted, “I called you to curse my enemies! Instead, you have blessed them three times. Now get out of here! Go back home! I promised to reward you richly, but the Lord has kept you from your reward.” Balaam told Balak, “Don’t you remember what I told your messengers? I said, ‘Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord .’ I told you that I could say only what the Lord says! Now I am returning to my own people. But first let me tell you what the Israelites will do to your people in the future.”
This is the message Balaam delivered: “This is the message of Balaam son of Beor, the message of the man whose eyes see clearly, the message of one who hears the words of God, who has knowledge from the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who bows down with eyes wide open: I see him, but not here and now. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel. It will crush the heads of Moab’s people, cracking the skulls of the people of Sheth. Edom will be taken over, and Seir, its enemy, will be conquered, while Israel marches on in triumph. A ruler will rise in Jacob who will destroy the survivors of Ir.” Then Balaam looked over toward the people of Amalek and delivered this message: “Amalek was the greatest of nations, but its destiny is destruction!” Then he looked over toward the Kenites and delivered this message: “Your home is secure; your nest is set in the rocks. But the Kenites will be destroyed when Assyria takes you captive.” Balaam concluded his messages by saying: “Alas, who can survive unless God has willed it? Ships will come from the coasts of Cyprus ; they will oppress Assyria and afflict Eber, but they, too, will be utterly destroyed.” Then Balaam left and returned home, and Balak also went on his way.’—Numbers 24
and continues into Numbers 25.
‘While the Israelites were camped at Acacia Grove, some of the men defiled themselves by having sexual relations with local Moabite women. These women invited them to attend sacrifices to their gods, so the Israelites feasted with them and worshiped the gods of Moab. In this way, Israel joined in the worship of Baal of Peor, causing the Lord ’s anger to blaze against his people. The Lord issued the following command to Moses: “Seize all the ringleaders and execute them before the Lord in broad daylight, so his fierce anger will turn away from the people of Israel.” So Moses ordered Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death the men under your authority who have joined in worshiping Baal of Peor.” Just then one of the Israelite men brought a Midianite woman into his tent, right before the eyes of Moses and all the people, as everyone was weeping at the entrance of the Tabernacle. When Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest saw this, he jumped up and left the assembly. He took a spear and rushed after the man into his tent. Phinehas thrust the spear all the way through the man’s body and into the woman’s stomach. So the plague against the Israelites was stopped, but not before 24,000 people had died. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest has turned my anger away from the Israelites by being as zealous among them as I was. So I stopped destroying all Israel as I had intended to do in my zealous anger. Now tell him that I am making my special covenant of peace with him. In this covenant, I give him and his descendants a permanent right to the priesthood, for in his zeal for me, his God, he purified the people of Israel, making them right with me. ” The Israelite man killed with the Midianite woman was named Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a family from the tribe of Simeon. The woman’s name was Cozbi; she was the daughter of Zur, the leader of a Midianite clan. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Attack the Midianites and destroy them, because they assaulted you with deceit and tricked you into worshiping Baal of Peor, and because of Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, who was killed at the time of the plague because of what happened at Peor.”’—Numbers 25
Today’s reading then brings us back into Amos 7
‘The Sovereign Lord showed me a vision. I saw him preparing to send a vast swarm of locusts over the land. This was after the king’s share had been harvested from the fields and as the main crop was coming up. In my vision the locusts ate every green plant in sight. Then I said, “O Sovereign Lord , please forgive us or we will not survive, for Israel is so small.” So the Lord relented from this plan. “I will not do it,” he said.
Then the Sovereign Lord showed me another vision. I saw him preparing to punish his people with a great fire. The fire had burned up the depths of the sea and was devouring the entire land. Then I said, “O Sovereign Lord , please stop or we will not survive, for Israel is so small.” Then the Lord relented from this plan, too. “I will not do that either,” said the Sovereign Lord .
Then he showed me another vision. I saw the Lord standing beside a wall that had been built using a plumb line. He was using a plumb line to see if it was still straight. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” I answered, “A plumb line.” And the Lord replied, “I will test my people with this plumb line. I will no longer ignore all their sins. The pagan shrines of your ancestors will be ruined, and the temples of Israel will be destroyed; I will bring the dynasty of King Jeroboam to a sudden end.”
Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent a message to Jeroboam, king of Israel: “Amos is hatching a plot against you right here on your very doorstep! What he is saying is intolerable. He is saying, ‘Jeroboam will soon be killed, and the people of Israel will be sent away into exile.’” Then Amaziah sent orders to Amos: “Get out of here, you prophet! Go on back to the land of Judah, and earn your living by prophesying there! Don’t bother us with your prophecies here in Bethel. This is the king’s sanctuary and the national place of worship!” But Amos replied, “I’m not a professional prophet, and I was never trained to be one. I’m just a shepherd, and I take care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord called me away from my flock and told me, ‘Go and prophesy to my people in Israel.’ Now then, listen to this message from the Lord : “You say, ‘Don’t prophesy against Israel. Stop preaching against my people. ’ But this is what the Lord says: ‘Your wife will become a prostitute in this city, and your sons and daughters will be killed. Your land will be divided up, and you yourself will die in a foreign land. And the people of Israel will certainly become captives in exile, far from their homeland.’”’—Amos 7
and continuing into Amos 8.
‘Then the Sovereign Lord showed me another vision. In it I saw a basket filled with ripe fruit. “What do you see, Amos?” he asked. I replied, “A basket full of ripe fruit.” Then the Lord said, “Like this fruit, Israel is ripe for punishment! I will not delay their punishment again. In that day the singing in the temple will turn to wailing. Dead bodies will be scattered everywhere. They will be carried out of the city in silence. I, the Sovereign Lord , have spoken!” Listen to this, you who rob the poor and trample down the needy! You can’t wait for the Sabbath day to be over and the religious festivals to end so you can get back to cheating the helpless. You measure out grain with dishonest measures and cheat the buyer with dishonest scales. And you mix the grain you sell with chaff swept from the floor. Then you enslave poor people for one piece of silver or a pair of sandals. Now the Lord has sworn this oath by his own name, the Pride of Israel : “I will never forget the wicked things you have done! The earth will tremble for your deeds, and everyone will mourn. The ground will rise like the Nile River at flood time; it will heave up, then sink again. “In that day,” says the Sovereign Lord , “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth while it is still day. I will turn your celebrations into times of mourning and your singing into weeping. You will wear funeral clothes and shave your heads to show your sorrow— as if your only son had died. How very bitter that day will be! “The time is surely coming,” says the Sovereign Lord , “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread or water but of hearing the words of the Lord . People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from border to border searching for the word of the Lord , but they will not find it. Beautiful girls and strong young men will grow faint in that day, thirsting for the Lord ’s word. And those who swear by the shameful idols of Samaria— who take oaths in the name of the god of Dan and make vows in the name of the god of Beersheba — they will all fall down, never to rise again.”’—Amos 8
Today’s reading next brings us into the New Testament starting with Matthew 8
‘Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”
When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And the young servant was healed that same hour.
When Jesus arrived at Peter’s house, Peter’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. But when Jesus touched her hand, the fever left her. Then she got up and prepared a meal for him. That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick. This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said, “He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases.”’—Matthew 8:1-17
and continuing into Romans 5
‘When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come. But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous. God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’—Romans 5:12-21
Today’s reading concludes with Psalms 114.
‘When the Israelites escaped from Egypt— when the family of Jacob left that foreign land— the land of Judah became God’s sanctuary, and Israel became his kingdom. The Red Sea saw them coming and hurried out of their way! The water of the Jordan River turned away. The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs! What’s wrong, Red Sea, that made you hurry out of their way? What happened, Jordan River, that you turned away? Why, mountains, did you skip like rams? Why, hills, like lambs? Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob. He turned the rock into a pool of water; yes, a spring of water flowed from solid rock.’—Psalms 114
So don’t lose hope. If you have received Jesus into your heart and received the love and grace and salvation of God then why not leave a comment to praise Him? If you are still seeking and have questions about Jesus and asking Him into your heart then why not leave a comment to get support and encouragement?