THRIVE: Allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your day!

Busy calendar? Is it because you have to be or because you let it be? Is it with the right people at the right time on the right topics? Invite God into your scheduling and allow Him to add/remove things from it based on His plans and purpose for your day! Invite the Holy Spirit to grant you wisdom and discernment about what meetings need to happen and which don’t. Invite the Holy Spirit into each meeting to give you the thoughts, the words, and the actions necessary to accomplish God’s will and for Him to receive the glory! Allow new things to be added when the Holy Spirit prompts. Allow existing things to be moved around when the Holy Spirit prompts. Focus on the good works God has prepared in advance for you to accomplish today!

Will you allow the Holy Spirit to clean up your heart, knowing that from the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks? Will you allow the Holy Spirit to fill up your heart with love, knowing that from the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks? Will you allow the Holy Spirit to heal and restore your heart, knowing that from the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks? Will you guard your heart knowing that everything you do flows from it?

From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks

So who is in control of your day? Are you rejecting God’s wisdom and discernment or accepting it? Are you rejecting God’s purposes and plans for your day or accepting them? Are you rejecting God’s prompting or accepting it? Are you trying to go it alone or are you willing to go it with God and with others? Let’s choose to go through today with God and allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us through it so that we can accomplish God’s will for His glory!


Today’s Verse of the Day:

‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. ‘

Proverbs 4:23

Today’s post from Be The Dads is Just For Dads: Be A Positive Christian Role Model – Day 20

Are you ready to talk with God in a direct way? Are you ready to avoid the fluffy stuff and start with straight-talking? Are you ready to speak with and listen to the Holy Spirit to help you get through today? Invite Jesus into your heart! Invite Jesus into your life! Allow Him to create a new heart in you and for you to be born again, becoming a new creation where the old stuff that was holding you back is gone and the new stuff that will help you finish the race called life strong!

If you pray today’s prayer with me feel free to let me know so I can pray with you and for you too. (If you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment then you can always try email.

Let’s Pray!

Prayer Of Salvation
"Oh Father God, I believe with all of my heart that Jesus died on the cross for my sake and has risen from the dead. Lord, I receive Your Word and I repent of my sins. I renounce the past. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. I receive my forgiveness. I receive the new birth, cleansed and washed in the Word and in the precious blood of Jesus. Fill me with Your Spirit, in Jesus' name. Amen."

Ever gotten a message from someone checking in because you came to mind?

It is interesting to me the things that have happed and the lives that have been touched or changed when the Spirit prompts me to check in on people. Some people may get a message on SLACK. Some people may get a message on LinkedIn. Some people may get a text message. Not matter the tool used, something happened to cause me to feel prompted to reach out and check in. It’s interesting how even the words that get used make a difference and sometimes have foreshadowed what the situation going on is. Be it family struggles. Be it health struggles. Be it work struggles. Be it that everything is going great. Be it that they are moving on from the company. Be it that they are conflicted in what they should do. Be it that they were having a rough day and this was a message of hope that turned their day around. Be it that they receive it as a way of knowing someone cares. Be it they questioned what have I heard. God has had a plan in each case. God has needed those people to know they aren’t alone and that someone cares. God has needed those people to know they haven’t been forgotten.

So when God prompts you to check in on someone do you do it? When God puts a name in your mind or on your heart do you reach out and check-in? Why? or Why not? Are you thinking life is too busy? Are you thinking they are fine, I don’t need to bother them? Are you thinking they are too busy? Do you realize that God has put them in your mind or on your heart for a reason? We may never know because they may say everything is fine even if it isn’t. We may never know there was something going on but they will because you might have been the sign they were praying for to show they weren’t alone and that someone actually cares.

So today if someone comes to mind, how will you respond? So if God puts someone on your heart, how will you respond? Will you choose to be the hands reaching out? Will choose to be the arms embracing? Will you choose to be the feet going? Could today be a day that changes things for you and for them? Why not try to make today a Happy Today for both of you?


Moved By The Spirit


‘knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.’

II Peter 1:20-21

Let’s look for extra context for this as well as more detail by using the Amplified version .

‘For we did not follow cleverly devised stories or myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty [His grandeur, His authority, His sovereignty]. For when He was invested with honor and [the radiance of the Shekinah] glory from God the Father, such a voice as this came to Him from the [splendid] Majestic Glory [in the bright cloud that overshadowed Him, saying], “This is My Son, My Beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased and delighted”— and we [actually] heard this voice made from heaven when we were together with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more certain. You do well to pay [close] attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and light breaks through the gloom and the morning star arises in your hearts. But understand this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of or comes from one’s own [personal or special] interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.’

2 Peter 1:16-21

  • Do you read God’s Word?
  • Why do you ready God’s Word?
  • What expectations do you have in reading God’s Word?
  • When you read God’s Word are you doing it like it is an old book, old news, and not interesting?
  • When you read God’s Word are you doing it with excitement because you believe it is alive and speaks into your today? I do.
  • Are you reading a translation that is too hard to understand and so you feel like it is old and outdated?
  • Are you reading a translation that allows you to be in that moment and see how it applies today?
  • Are you reading it and finding how it isn’t some old dusty book but is a book that is important and relevant today?
  • Do you realize that the Bible, although written long ago in a farming society, is a book for all cultures at all times?
  • Do you realize that the Bible applies even in the digital era?
  • Do you realize that the Bible is a love letter from our Heavenly Father?
  • Do you realize that the truths found in the Bible are the most challenging, the most dramatic, the most comforting the world has ever seen or known?
  • Are you paying enough attention to find your mind being blown or your socks being blown off by its power when you read the Bible?
  • We need to grasp that all the words in the Bible were God inspired.
  • We need to take hold of the reality that across all of the people who wrote the words that make up the Bible, all were lead and directed by God’s Spirit.
  • Every writer of the Bible was prompted, guided, and inspired to write God’s message!
  • Every writer wrote for people of all time!
  • Have you gone through all the promises captured in the Bible from God?
  • Have you gone through all the Bible and captured the truth of God’s grace and forgiveness?
  • Have you gone through all the Bible and captured the truth of God’s cleansing power that can touch even the worst sinners?
  • Have you gone through all the truth of the Bible and grabbed hold of how God will give you the Holy Spirit to be with you always and provide the power we need through His comforting, directing, and teaching?
  • Have you captured the words of hope and encouragement in your times of doubt?
  • Have you captured the words of forgiveness to help get you out from under the pressures and weight of guilt?
  • Have you found guidance and gone with it because of God’s Word in those moments when you don’t know where to go?
  • Are you ready on that day when you close your eyes here on earth for the last time to find yourself in Heaven with God, seeing for the first time the place He has prepared in advance for you as He has described in His Word?
  • So are you ready for God to speak to the heart of the matter?
  • Are you ready for God to speak to your heart?
  • Are you ready for God to work in and through your heart into this hurting world?
  • Are you ready to be God’s hands extended to build and create relationships?
  • Are you ready for hope through God and His Word?
  • Are you ready for hope through following God and His Word and His Spirit?
  • Do all of these things get you interested in going and jumping into God’s Word found in the Bible?

  • When you read the Bible, what are your expectations? Explain your answer.
  • Since every word was written under the leadership of the Spirit, what would (or should) your expectations be?


“Nobody ever outgrows the Scriptures; the Book widens and deepens with our yearts.”

— Charles Haddon Spurgeon

As we continue through December we have finished the readings of the Tanakh and I thank Sefaria for their resources in helping me to see the Old Testament in a new way and my friend Lionel for having shared this tool with me. As we kicked off December the idea my wife brought up came to mind about going through the book of Luke (who was a doctor) which happens to have 24 chapters so that we can read one a day and complete it in time for Christmas. To get as many details from this I am going to use the Amplified version to try and grasp all the details Luke gives us to consider and learn.

So today we will read Luke 16:

‘Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’ “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ “ ‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’ “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’ “ ‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.

“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ “ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”’

Luke 16:1-31

So where are you at today? Are you being prompted by the Spirit? Are you being called by the Spirit? Are you feeling the tug on your heart from God? Are you are you feeling the leading or directing of your words, thoughts, or actions by the Holy Spirit? Are you ready to step up, step out, or even step into someone else’s life because God wants or needs you to? Are you ready to receive someone God sent to speak to you and into your life today? Are you ready to receive God into your heart and live a transformed life from this moment forward? Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father 
I come to you in prayer asking for the 
forgiveness of my Sins. I confess with my 
mouth and believe with my heart that 
Jesus is your Son, And that he died on the 
Cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven. 
and have Eternal Life in the Kingdom of 
Heaven. Father, I believe that Jesus rose 
from the dead and I ask you right now to 
come in to my life and be my personal 
Lord and Savior. I repent of my Sins and 
will Worship you all the day's of my Life!
Because your word is truth, I confess with 
my mouth that I am Born Again and 
Cleansed by the Blood of Jesus! In Jesus 
Name, Amen
Heavenly Father
I come to you in prayer asking for the
forgiveness of my Sins. I confess with my
mouth and believe with my heart that
Jesus is your Son, And that he died on the
Cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven.
and have Eternal Life in the Kingdom of
Heaven. Father, I believe that Jesus rose
from the dead and I ask you right now to
come in to my life and be my personal
Lord and Savior. I repent of my Sins and
will Worship you all the day’s of my Life!
Because your word is truth, I confess with
my mouth that I am Born Again and
Cleansed by the Blood of Jesus! In Jesus
Name, Amen

Did you pray with me?
Would you be willing to leave me a comment so that I can pray with and for you about such an incredible decision?

Or if you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment on my blog, why not email or text me instead?

How clear of a message do you need to move forward?

When you receive a call, how clear does it need to be? When you receive a call, how direct does it have to be? When you receive a call, how forceful does it need to be? I remember the call to step into leadership in my community and that still quiet voice was enough for me to obey. I remember the call to step up into the top position and resisting and pushing back out of doubt, fear, feeling unqualified and requiring a forceful ultimatum for me to accept it and obey. I remember the call to step out and start looking for a new role as 19 years in the same company approached and how that night when I got home I obeyed, updating my resume and LinkedIn profile and applying for jobs. I remember the year when the 3Ds happened and how the confirmation of the Holy Spirit was enough for me to accept those roles at work, at camp, and at church. God has always been in control and the experiences He has given me to show His faithfulness through His callings in my life. As His Word shows and tells us, be it with Esther who was called to step up and step out, Mordecai tells her that if she wouldn’t do it that God would have accomplished His plans and purpose through someone else. As His Word shows and tells us, be it when the Pharisees were telling Jesus to stop the people from calling out and Jesus’ response was to tell them that if they stopped the rocks would cry out.

Even as I reflect on all of these things and even selected which links to use for the stories above, the quote that comes to mind as I reflect and consider how incredible and how faithful God is the reality of God without man is still God but man without God is nothing sticks with me.

What will it take for you to hear from God and respond? What type of a call does it need to be for you to respond out of obedience? Will your response be out of faith in God or fear of man? Will your response be out of trust in God or worry of your own abilities? Nothing is too big for God! Nothing is impossible with God! What may seem impossible to man is possible with God!

So when the call comes, will you answer it and accomplish all God has in planned and purposed for your life?

God's calling... Will you answer?
Ring…Ring… will you pick up? Answer the call!

The One Year Daily Insights with Zig Ziglar and Dr. Ike Reighard 
for March 25th

Guidance from above


‘Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, And govern the nations on earth. Selah’

The AMPC translation says it like this:

‘ O let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for You will judge the peoples fairly and guide, lead, or drive the nations upon earth. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!’

Psalm 67:4

  • Have you seen God’s hand moving clearly and powerfully in your life?
  • Have you seen God’s hand moving clearly and powerfully in history?
  • Have you seen God’s hand moving clearly and powerfully to inspire people?
  • Have you seen God’s hand moving clearly and powerfully to inspire people to pursue freedom?
  • Have you seen God’s hand moving clearly and powerfully to direct and create structure and hierarchy to build a great nation with the necessary checks and balances?
  • Have you seen God’s hand moving clearly and powerfully in days of deliberation?
  • Have you wondered where God is when you reflect on some times in history when things seem so dark and so hard?
  • Have you wondered where God is when you reflect on some times in history when scandals or actions start to chip away at values?
  • Have you wondered where God is when you reflect on some times in history when things seem to be out of control?
  • Consider God’s purposes and plans and how He can take what the enemy meant for evil and turn it around and use it for good and for His purposes!
  • Consider both in the Bible stories of the past how God was able to use the bad times and the good times for His purposes and remember that when you consider the times post the timeline in the Bible and how God is still able to use it for good and to accomplish His purposes.
  • Remember that in the end times those who fought against Him, turned away from Him, or never accepted Him will be judged by God.
  • Let’s take hold of the reality that God is in control!
  • Let’s take hold of the reality that God reigns supreme!
  • Let’s take hold of the reality that God is guiding us!
  • Let’s take hold of the reality that God is directing us!
  • Let’s take hold of the reality that God is shaping events to accomplish good things!
  • So we get to do our part too and decide if and how we will respond to Him.
  • God is with us! God is active!
  • We can count on God!

What are some ways you’ve seen God direct our nation and your life?
  • Looking for the promised land
  • Finding my wife
  • Providing us a place to live
  • Giving us children and a great family
Take a few minutes to praise Him for His leading.
  • Thank You Lord for helping me navigate 2020 and not give up in the midst of the trials and troubles
  • Thank You Lord for helping me to draw closer to my family in the midst of everything that was 2020
  • Thank You Lord for leading and directing us today and always
  • Thank You Lord for leading my children – be it into ministry, be it ministering on the sports field, be it ministering through gaming


“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

John Quincy Adams

Today’s reading from Tanakh:

Where does your guidance come from? Are you aware of and looking for heavenly guidance from God? Are you noticing His hand at work in and through your life and the lives of others?

Where are you at today? Are you looking for guidance? Are you wondering where to turn? Are you at the end of your rope and needing help? Are you ready for some help? Are you ready to turn to God and ask? seek? knock? Let’s pray together.

Heavenly Father 
I come to you in prayer asking for the 
forgiveness of my Sins. I confess with my 
mouth and believe with my heart that 
Jesus is your Son, And that he died on the 
Cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven. 
and have Eternal Life in the Kingdom of 
Heaven. Father, I believe that Jesus rose 
from the dead and I ask you right now to 
come in to my life and be my personal 
Lord and Savior. I repent of my Sins and 
will Worship you all the day's of my Life!
Because your word is truth, I confess with 
my mouth that I am Born Again and 
Cleansed by the Blood of Jesus! In Jesus 
Name, Amen
Heavenly Father
I come to you in prayer asking for the
forgiveness of my Sins. I confess with my
mouth and believe with my heart that
Jesus is your Son, And that he died on the
Cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven.
and have Eternal Life in the Kingdom of
Heaven. Father, I believe that Jesus rose
from the dead and I ask you right now to
come in to my life and be my personal
Lord and Savior. I repent of my Sins and
will Worship you all the day’s of my Life!
Because your word is truth, I confess with
my mouth that I am Born Again and
Cleansed by the Blood of Jesus! In Jesus
Name, Amen

Did you pray with me?
Would you be willing to leave me a comment so that I can pray with and for you about such an incredible decision?

Or if you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment on my blog, why not email or text me instead?

Did you pray with me?
Would you be willing to leave me a comment so that I can pray with and for you about such an incredible decision?

Or if you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment on my blog, why not email or text me instead?

Beware of wolf in sheep’s clothing.

So you are walking out God’s purpose and plan for you life. Now you get faced with a new situation. How do you respond? If it sounds like an offer that is too good to be true, will you turn to God for wisdom? If it sounds like it could be a setup, will you turn to God for wisdom? If it sounds normal or expected, will you turn to God for wisdom? Can you tell which one it is? It may be harder than you think. What if they are lying or misleading you? Without asking God and following the prompting and direction of the Holy Spirit, you can be mislead and tricked into a deal that could haunt you for the rest of your life. So don’t assume, turn to God instead. Don’t accept, turn to God instead. Ask, Seek, Knock! Then do what God prompts and instructs you to do instead.

Today’s reading starts with the book of Joshua:

‘Now all the kings west of the Jordan River heard about what had happened. These were the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, who lived in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea as far north as the Lebanon mountains. These kings combined their armies to fight as one against Joshua and the Israelites. But when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to deception to save themselves. They sent ambassadors to Joshua, loading their donkeys with weathered saddlebags and old, patched wineskins. They put on worn-out, patched sandals and ragged clothes. And the bread they took with them was dry and moldy. When they arrived at the camp of Israel at Gilgal, they told Joshua and the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant land to ask you to make a peace treaty with us.” The Israelites replied to these Hivites, “How do we know you don’t live nearby? For if you do, we cannot make a treaty with you.” They replied, “We are your servants.” “But who are you?” Joshua demanded. “Where do you come from?” They answered, “Your servants have come from a very distant country. We have heard of the might of the Lord your God and of all he did in Egypt. We have also heard what he did to the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River—King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan (who lived in Ashtaroth). So our elders and all our people instructed us, ‘Take supplies for a long journey. Go meet with the people of Israel and tell them, “We are your servants; please make a treaty with us.”’ “This bread was hot from the ovens when we left our homes. But now, as you can see, it is dry and moldy. These wineskins were new when we filled them, but now they are old and split open. And our clothing and sandals are worn out from our very long journey.” So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord . Then Joshua made a peace treaty with them and guaranteed their safety, and the leaders of the community ratified their agreement with a binding oath. Three days after making the treaty, they learned that these people actually lived nearby! The Israelites set out at once to investigate and reached their towns in three days. The names of these towns were Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. But the Israelites did not attack the towns, for the Israelite leaders had made a vow to them in the name of the Lord , the God of Israel. The people of Israel grumbled against their leaders because of the treaty. But the leaders replied, “Since we have sworn an oath in the presence of the Lord , the God of Israel, we cannot touch them. This is what we must do. We must let them live, for divine anger would come upon us if we broke our oath. Let them live.” So they made them woodcutters and water carriers for the entire community, as the Israelite leaders directed. Joshua called together the Gibeonites and said, “Why did you lie to us? Why did you say that you live in a distant land when you live right here among us? May you be cursed! From now on you will always be servants who cut wood and carry water for the house of my God.” They replied, “We did it because we—your servants—were clearly told that the Lord your God commanded his servant Moses to give you this entire land and to destroy all the people living in it. So we feared greatly for our lives because of you. That is why we have done this. Now we are at your mercy—do to us whatever you think is right.” So Joshua did not allow the people of Israel to kill them. But that day he made the Gibeonites the woodcutters and water carriers for the community of Israel and for the altar of the Lord —wherever the Lord would choose to build it. And that is what they do to this day.’

Joshua 9

Today’s reading then continues into the book of Isaiah:

‘“But now, listen to me, Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one. The Lord who made you and helps you says: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, O dear Israel, my chosen one. For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children. They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank. Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the Lord .’ Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’ Some will write the Lord ’s name on their hands and will take the name of Israel as their own.” This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: “I am the First and the Last; there is no other God. Who is like me? Let him step forward and prove to you his power. Let him do as I have done since ancient times when I established a people and explained its future. Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses—is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock—not one!” How foolish are those who manufacture idols. These prized objects are really worthless. The people who worship idols don’t know this, so they are all put to shame. Who but a fool would make his own god— an idol that cannot help him one bit? All who worship idols will be disgraced along with all these craftsmen—mere humans— who claim they can make a god. They may all stand together, but they will stand in terror and shame. The blacksmith stands at his forge to make a sharp tool, pounding and shaping it with all his might. His work makes him hungry and weak. It makes him thirsty and faint. Then the wood-carver measures a block of wood and draws a pattern on it. He works with chisel and plane and carves it into a human figure. He gives it human beauty and puts it in a little shrine. He cuts down cedars; he selects the cypress and the oak; he plants the pine in the forest to be nourished by the rain. Then he uses part of the wood to make a fire. With it he warms himself and bakes his bread. Then—yes, it’s true—he takes the rest of it and makes himself a god to worship! He makes an idol and bows down in front of it! He burns part of the tree to roast his meat and to keep himself warm. He says, “Ah, that fire feels good.” Then he takes what’s left and makes his god: a carved idol! He falls down in front of it, worshiping and praying to it. “Rescue me!” he says. “You are my god!” Such stupidity and ignorance! Their eyes are closed, and they cannot see. Their minds are shut, and they cannot think. The person who made the idol never stops to reflect, “Why, it’s just a block of wood! I burned half of it for heat and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat. How can the rest of it be a god? Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?” The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes. He trusts something that can’t help him at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, “Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie?”

“Pay attention, O Jacob, for you are my servant, O Israel. I, the Lord , made you, and I will not forget you. I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.” Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth! Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob and is glorified in Israel. This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer and Creator: “I am the Lord , who made all things. I alone stretched out the heavens. Who was with me when I made the earth? I expose the false prophets as liars and make fools of fortune-tellers. I cause the wise to give bad advice, thus proving them to be fools. But I carry out the predictions of my prophets! By them I say to Jerusalem, ‘People will live here again,’ and to the towns of Judah, ‘You will be rebuilt; I will restore all your ruins!’ When I speak to the rivers and say, ‘Dry up!’ they will be dry. When I say of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,’ he will certainly do as I say. He will command, ‘Rebuild Jerusalem’; he will say, ‘Restore the Temple.’”’

Isaiah 44

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

‘Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away” When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

And even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss. Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.” Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear. “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?” Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.” At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.’

Matthew 26:36-56

Today’s reading continues into the book of Philippians:

‘Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith. Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!’

Philippians 3:1-11

Today’s reading then closes in the book of Psalms:

‘O Lord , hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord . Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness; you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked. Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence, for you hate all who do evil. You will destroy those who tell lies. The Lord detests murderers and deceivers. Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe. Lead me in the right path, O Lord , or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow. My enemies cannot speak a truthful word. Their deepest desire is to destroy others. Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with flattery. O God, declare them guilty. Let them be caught in their own traps. Drive them away because of their many sins, for they have rebelled against you. But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. For you bless the godly, O Lord ; you surround them with your shield of love.’

Psalms 5

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

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?

How is it working? How is it going to work?

When people hear the word organization many think of a company or charity or large group of people working together towards a single purpose. When people hear the work organization others think about structure or planning or arranging or administering or driving efficiency or a method of putting things together. Whatever way you think of organization, how is it working for you? If this is something new, how is it going to work? What role will you play in it? What things do you need to do or consider? Will you accept input? Will you dictate how it is going to work?

Today’s reading gets us started with Numbers 2.

Numbers 2 New Living Translation (NLT)

Organization for Israel’s Camp

Then the Lord gave these instructions to Moses and Aaron: “When the Israelites set up camp, each tribe will be assigned its own area. The tribal divisions will camp beneath their family banners on all four sides of the Tabernacle,<sup class="footnote" data-link='[a]’ data-fn=”#fen-NLT-3649a”>[a] but at some distance from it.

3-4 “The divisions of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun are to camp toward the sunrise on the east side of the Tabernacle, beneath their family banners. These are the names of the tribes, their leaders, and the numbers of their registered troops:

JudahNahshon son of Amminadab74,600
5-6 IssacharNethanel son of Zuar54,400
7-8 ZebulunEliab son of Helon57,400

So the total of all the troops on Judah’s side of the camp is 186,400. These three tribes are to lead the way whenever the Israelites travel to a new campsite.

10-11 “The divisions of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad are to camp on the south side of the Tabernacle, beneath their family banners. These are the names of the tribes, their leaders, and the numbers of their registered troops:

ReubenElizur son of Shedeur46,500
12-13 SimeonShelumiel son of Zurishaddai59,300
14-15 GadEliasaph son of Deuel<sup class="footnote" data-link='[b]’ data-fn=”#fen-NLT-3656b”>[b]45,650

16 So the total of all the troops on Reuben’s side of the camp is 151,450. These three tribes will be second in line whenever the Israelites travel.

17 “Then the Tabernacle, carried by the Levites, will set out from the middle of the camp. All the tribes are to travel in the same order that they camp, each in position under the appropriate family banner.

18-19 “The divisions of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin are to camp on the west side of the Tabernacle, beneath their family banners. These are the names of the tribes, their leaders, and the numbers of their registered troops:

EphraimElishama son of Ammihud40,500
20-21 ManassehGamaliel son of Pedahzur32,200
22-23 BenjaminAbidan son of Gideoni35,400

24 So the total of all the troops on Ephraim’s side of the camp is 108,100. These three tribes will be third in line whenever the Israelites travel.

25-26 “The divisions of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali are to camp on the north side of the Tabernacle, beneath their family banners. These are the names of the tribes, their leaders, and the numbers of their registered troops:

DanAhiezer son of Ammishaddai62,700
27-28 AsherPagiel son of Ocran41,500
29-30 NaphtaliAhira son of Enan53,400

31 So the total of all the troops on Dan’s side of the camp is 157,600. These three tribes will be last, marching under their banners whenever the Israelites travel.”

32 In summary, the troops of Israel listed by their families totaled 603,550. 33 But as the Lord had commanded, the Levites were not included in this registration. 34 So the people of Israel did everything as the Lord had commanded Moses. Each clan and family set up camp and marched under their banners exactly as the Lord had instructed them.


  1. 2:2 Hebrew the Tent of Meeting; also in 2:17.
  2. 2:14-15 As in many Hebrew manuscripts, Samaritan Pentateuch, and Latin Vulgate (see also 1:14); most Hebrew manuscripts read son of Reuel.

Today’s reading then brings us into the book of wisdom with Proverbs 29.

‘Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery. When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan. The man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but if he hangs around with prostitutes, his wealth is wasted. A just king gives stability to his nation, but one who demands bribes destroys it. To flatter friends is to lay a trap for their feet. Evil people are trapped by sin, but the righteous escape, shouting for joy. The godly care about the rights of the poor; the wicked don’t care at all. Mockers can get a whole town agitated, but the wise will calm anger. If a wise person takes a fool to court, there will be ranting and ridicule but no satisfaction. The bloodthirsty hate blameless people, but the upright seek to help them. Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back. If a ruler pays attention to liars, all his advisers will be wicked. The poor and the oppressor have this in common— the Lord gives sight to the eyes of both. If a king judges the poor fairly, his throne will last forever. To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child. When the wicked are in authority, sin flourishes, but the godly will live to see their downfall. Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad. When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful. Words alone will not discipline a servant; the words may be understood, but they are not heeded. There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking. A servant pampered from childhood will become a rebel. An angry person starts fights; a hot-tempered person commits all kinds of sin. Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor. If you assist a thief, you only hurt yourself. You are sworn to tell the truth, but you dare not testify. Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety. Many seek the ruler’s favor, but justice comes from the Lord . The righteous despise the unjust; the wicked despise the godly.’

Proverbs 29

Today’s reading then brings us into the New Testament starting in Mark 15

‘Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law—the entire high council —met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.” Then the leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise. Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner—anyone the people requested. One of the prisoners at that time was Barabbas, a revolutionary who had committed murder in an uprising. The crowd went to Pilate and asked him to release a prisoner as usual. “Would you like me to release to you this ‘King of the Jews’?” Pilate asked. (For he realized by now that the leading priests had arrested Jesus out of envy.) But at this point the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus. Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?” But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!” So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.’

Mark 15:1-15

and continuing into 2 Corinthians 9.

‘I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem. For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving. But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you. We would be embarrassed—not to mention your own embarrassment—if some Macedonian believers came with me and found that you weren’t ready after all I had told them! So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly.’

2 Corinthians 9:1-5

As we consider today’s topic and the words from God’s Word, lets take a moment to consider how God would want us to organize. What will our role be in this new organization? How can we achieve God’s purpose and plan in and through it?

Today’s reading concludes in Psalms 95.

‘Come, let us sing to the Lord ! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too. Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today! The Lord says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness. For there your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw everything I did. For forty years I was angry with them, and I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ So in my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’”’

Psalms 95

It’s what is on the inside that matters most.

What’s on the inside? What’s in your heart? From the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks! It’s not about the outside! It’s not about what you put inside! It’s what is on the inside that makes the difference!

When others see you is it the overflow of your heart that they get to experience?

Are you taking what is on the inside and sharing it with the people around you?

Are you making a difference in the lives of the people that are brought into your life everyday?

Are you allowing Jesus’ holiness to transform you from the inside out? Are you allowing Jesus’ holiness to make you holy? Are you allowing Jesus’ holiness to pour out of your heart into the lives of the people around you?

Are people learning how it isn’t dull or boring? Are people learning how it is irresistible and unstoppable?

Are you a living sacrifice that is being lived out and on display that others may see you and praise Your Father in heaven? Are you living a life as a servant leader who is more interested in serving others than having others serve you? Are you living a life that is a blessing to others? Are you living as the temple for the Holy Spirit?

Have you invited Jesus into your heart yet? Asking Him to move in and start working in you? Have you started a lifelong relationship with Him that will change your destination for ever? If yes, then you are forgiven and you need to forgive both others and yourself over the past because Jesus already made it so that you are already forgiven after you received the gift through His ultimate sacrifice and receiving Him into your life!

So now will you walk out this life with God’s Spirit in you and being transformed! We are new creations! The world will continue to try and tempt us and trouble us but we get to continue growing in the truth and the hope and the grace and the love of Jesus! We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit so that when the devil tries to tempt us or trouble us with his lies that we can stand firm on the truth of Jesus Christ and resist him so that he will flee! We need to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds because we know that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. We don’t have to worry about anything because we can pray about everything! We don’t have worry about the troubles of this world because Jesus has overcome the world!

And one day when we are reunited with Jesus, we will be removed from this world that has sin and into His perfect peace and presence where there is no more sin. Jesus is coming back and He will be victorious! The devil will be gone with his angels and demons thrown into the pit of fire! And we will live with Jesus for the rest of time!

We need to take hold of the relationship with Jesus that has been made available to us! My life was changed when I realized it wasn’t about a church or a service or a ritual or a religion or a routine but that it was about a relationship with Jesus! When I invited Him into my life and my heart and started spending time with Him and talking with Him through prayer, He brought me through a journey that changed my life and the life of my family forever!

Why not start your journey and relationship with Jesus and watch how things will be so amazing and allow you to leave the past where it belongs behind you and not worry about the future which isn’t guaranteed so that you can enjoy today to the full!


Your Serene Beauty

Day 314: Bible In One Year 2017

  1. Where do you find holiness? … Psalm 122:1-9
  2. When do you become holy? … Hebrews 10:1-18
  3. How do you become holy? … Ezekiel 19, Ezekiel 20

You do realize that some of the predictions people make were written a long time ago right?

There are people who are trying to use scare tactics to gain control. There are people who are using scare tactics to gain access. There are people who are using prophecy to prove their version of reality and cause for the final outcome. There are people who make claims of doom and gloom which when I hear them, I think to myself, “well, that is what the book of revelation says will happen” but the cause or the trigger or the threats don’t seem to align with the outcome they are proclaiming.

Ever seen the number of prophecies that came true through Jesus’ life and death and resurrection? Ever considered the prophecies that are yet to come?

Before taking what the politicians and scientist and other non-scientist are saying as fact rather than just their stories, put it up against the standard that is solid and reliable! The Bible!

Do you see how people try to deny the truth of the Bible when it doesn’t help their cause but when it does they bring it in without actually referencing it as their source?

Do you realize the hope and the truth that can be found in the Bible? Like…

“Leviticus 16 is about the Day of Atonement, an annual ceremony designed to cleanse the sins of the people of ancient Israel (vv.29-30). It was a day when goats were killed so that God’s people could know life (vv.15-17, 20-22). These animals died because sin, the people’s offenses against God, required the payment of death (10:1-3; Romans 6:23).

The same is true today. Sin still causes death, but Scripture reveals that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” and that Jesus’ blood is the “perfect sacrifice” for our sins (10:13; Hebrews 9:12-14). He’s paid the price for what we’ve broken (2 Corinthians 5:21).”

— from Day 3 of the devotional Our Daily Journey: A 30-Day Walk With Jesus

So let’s make sure that when we are considering what is being said that we consider the facts vs the stories that are being told rather than assuming the sources of the stories is really looking out for our best interest compared to their own agenda.


Now in day to day conversation with friends, family, and coworkers, it is best to not have that initial perspective as it will cause your to miss out on real conversation – we need to initially come at it with the perspective that we are in the conversation with good intentions. Yes we may discover through the process that it’s not the case, but that isn’t a good way to start the conversation since it is based on the fact that there is a relationship or a developing relationship.

So let’s jump into today’s reading and see if we can find more examples of things said in the past that have come true or are yet to come in the future even though they were prophesied or spoken of hundreds if not thousands of years ago.

Do you realize that you were created on purpose and for a purpose by the hands of God?

Do you realize that your calling or purpose may seem overwhelming at the moment, but that when God calls you to it, He will get you through it? Do you realize that He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called? We don’t have to be perfect to come to God! Once we start the relationship with Him, then He starts the work in our heart and the renewing of our mind. He will give us the words to speak! He will give us wisdom to make decisions! He give us words of wisdom to speak into situations! He will give us undeserved favor to be able to be in a specific situation at a specific time in order to be used for His purposes!

1These are the words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests from the town of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. 2The Lord first gave messages to Jeremiah during the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah. 3The Lord’s messages continued throughout the reign of King Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son, until the eleventh year of the reign of King Zedekiah, another of Josiah’s sons. In August of that eleventh year the people of Jerusalem were taken away as captives.

Jeremiah’s Call and First Visions

4The Lord gave me this message: 5“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” 6“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” 7The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 8And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” 9Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! 10Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.” 11Then the Lord said to me, “Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?” And I replied, “I see a branch from an almond tree.” 12And the Lord said, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching, and I will certainly carry out all my plans.” 13Then the Lord spoke to me again and asked, “What do you see now?” And I replied, “I see a pot of boiling water, spilling from the north.” 14“Yes,” the Lord said, “for terror from the north will boil out on the people of this land. 15Listen! I am calling the armies of the kingdoms of the north to come to Jerusalem. I, the Lord, have spoken! “They will set their thrones at the gates of the city. They will attack its walls and all the other towns of Judah. 16I will pronounce judgment on my people for all their evil—for deserting me and burning incense to other gods. Yes, they worship idols made with their own hands! 17“Get up and prepare for action. Go out and tell them everything I tell you to say. Do not be afraid of them, or I will make you look foolish in front of them. 18For see, today I have made you strong like a fortified city that cannot be captured, like an iron pillar or a bronze wall. You will stand against the whole land— the kings, officials, priests, and people of Judah. 19They will fight you, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

–from Jeremiah 1

What do you see going on around this country? What do you hear is going on around this company? What sources are being held up and which seem to be getting covered up? What is the truth? What is the truth from the past saying about this situation? What are the plans for the future being presented saying about this situation? Do you realize the impact? Do you realize the results? Do you consider the possibilities? Consider the character! Consider the platform! Consider the impact! Consider the benefits! Consider the truth! Consider the reality! When your options look bad from one angle, are you willing to look at it from other perspectives too to make sure you can see it from all sides? We need to get beyond the emotions in order to be able to get to logic! When we’ve faced trauma, there will be triggers that get us to a state where we need to find a way to diffuse it so that we can move from emotions to logic! Be it with the support person on the phone! Be it with the coworker who you are facing off with! Be it with the political atmosphere taking place around us. If we can get to the data, the facts, the truth and get beyond the stories and the feelings (as hard as that is), then we can ask God to speak into that situation and give us wisdom to make the right decision for the future!  So will you be willing to hear God’s plan? Will you be willing to pursue God’s purpose? Or will we go our own way and even it pushes us further away from God and raises the risks and concerns about the future for us and the generations to come? It’s an important time and an important season! We have all been given free will and so we all get to decide for ourselves what we will think, say, and do! We will all create our own stories! We will all get to see the outcomes too!

The Lord’s Case against His People

1The Lord gave me another message. He said, 2“Go and shout this message to Jerusalem. This is what the Lord says: “I remember how eager you were to please me as a young bride long ago, how you loved me and followed me even through the barren wilderness. 3In those days Israel was holy to the Lord, the first of his children. All who harmed his people were declared guilty, and disaster fell on them. I, the Lord, have spoken!” 4Listen to the word of the Lord, people of Jacob—all you families of Israel! 5This is what the Lord says: “What did your ancestors find wrong with me that led them to stray so far from me? They worshiped worthless idols, only to become worthless themselves. 6They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us safely out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness— a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought and death, where no one lives or even travels?’ 7“And when I brought you into a fruitful land to enjoy its bounty and goodness, you defiled my land and corrupted the possession I had promised you. 8The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who taught my word ignored me, the rulers turned against me, and the prophets spoke in the name of Baal, wasting their time on worthless idols. 9Therefore, I will bring my case against you,” says the Lord. “I will even bring charges against your children’s children in the years to come. 10“Go west and look in the land of Cyprus; go east and search through the land of Kedar. Has anyone ever heard of anything as strange as this? 11Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones, even though they are not gods at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols! 12The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay,” says the Lord. 13“For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me— the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!

The Results of Israel’s Sin

14“Why has Israel become a slave? Why has he been carried away as plunder? 15Strong lions have roared against him, and the land has been destroyed. The towns are now in ruins, and no one lives in them anymore. 16Egyptians, marching from their cities of Memphis and Tahpanhes, have destroyed Israel’s glory and power. 17And you have brought this upon yourselves by rebelling against the Lord your God, even though he was leading you on the way! 18“What have you gained by your alliances with Egypt and your covenants with Assyria? What good to you are the streams of the Nile or the waters of the Euphrates River? 19Your wickedness will bring its own punishment. Your turning from me will shame you. You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon the Lord your God and not to fear him. I, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken! 20“Long ago I broke the yoke that oppressed you and tore away the chains of your slavery, but still you said, ‘I will not serve you.’ On every hill and under every green tree, you have prostituted yourselves by bowing down to idols. 21But I was the one who planted you, choosing a vine of the purest stock—the very best. How did you grow into this corrupt wild vine? 22No amount of soap or lye can make you clean. I still see the stain of your guilt. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!

Israel, an Unfaithful Wife

23“You say, ‘That’s not true! I haven’t worshiped the images of Baal!’ But how can you say that? Go and look in any valley in the land! Face the awful sins you have done. You are like a restless female camel desperately searching for a mate. 24You are like a wild donkey, sniffing the wind at mating time. Who can restrain her lust? Those who desire her don’t need to search, for she goes running to them! 25When will you stop running? When will you stop panting after other gods? But you say, ‘Save your breath. I’m in love with these foreign gods, and I can’t stop loving them now!’ 26“Israel is like a thief who feels shame only when he gets caught. They, their kings, officials, priests, and prophets— all are alike in this. 27To an image carved from a piece of wood they say, ‘You are my father.’ To an idol chiseled from a block of stone they say, ‘You are my mother.’ They turn their backs on me, but in times of trouble they cry out to me, ‘Come and save us!’ 28But why not call on these gods you have made? When trouble comes, let them save you if they can! For you have as many gods as there are towns in Judah. 29Why do you accuse me of doing wrong? You are the ones who have rebelled,” says the Lord. 30“I have punished your children, but they did not respond to my discipline. You yourselves have killed your prophets as a lion kills its prey. 31“O my people, listen to the words of the Lord! Have I been like a desert to Israel? Have I been to them a land of darkness? Why then do my people say, ‘At last we are free from God! We don’t need him anymore!’ 32Does a young woman forget her jewelry, or a bride her wedding dress? Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me. 33“How you plot and scheme to win your lovers. Even an experienced prostitute could learn from you! 34Your clothing is stained with the blood of the innocent and the poor, though you didn’t catch them breaking into your houses! 35And yet you say, ‘I have done nothing wrong. Surely God isn’t angry with me!’ But now I will punish you severely because you claim you have not sinned. 36First here, then there— you flit from one ally to another asking for help. But your new friends in Egypt will let you down, just as Assyria did before. 37In despair, you will be led into exile with your hands on your heads, for the Lord has rejected the nations you trust. They will not help you at all.

–from Jeremiah 2

Are we being unfaithful today? Are we being disobedient? Are we missing the mark? Are we rejecting God as a nation? Are you part of the remnant? What will you do? How will you respond? Don’t give up! Keep your hope and trust in God! Yes in this world we will have troubles, but we can have faith and take heart because Jesus has overcome the world! Yes in this world we will face trials of many kinds! As Jesus told us, consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds – seems counter intuitive but that’s not where the statement or story ends – for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Let’s do our part! Let’s use the skills we have to provide for ourselves! We see how Paul answered the call! We see how Paul’s life was transformed by an encounter with Jesus! We see how the world was transformed by his passion and obedience to go and do and say what God gave him to say! We see how he knew the Jewish history and was able to take those facts in order to speak to the truth of who Jesus is! So let’s live out our lives with passion to complete the work God has for us to do! Let’s invite Jesus into our hearts to create a new heart in us! Let’s invite Jesus into our lives so that we can have a renewing of our minds! And let’s be the people God created and purposed for us to be!

Paul Meets Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth

1Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome. 3Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was.
4Each Sabbath found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike. 5And after Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul spent all his time preaching the word. He testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6But when they opposed and insulted him, Paul shook the dust from his clothes and said, “Your blood is upon your own heads—I am innocent. From now on I will go preach to the Gentiles.”
7Then he left and went to the home of Titius Justus, a Gentile who worshiped God and lived next door to the synagogue.8Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, and everyone in his household believed in the Lord. Many others in Corinth also heard Paul, became believers, and were baptized.
9One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him,Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! 10For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me. 11So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God.
12But when Gallio became governor of Achaia, some Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him before the governor for judgment. 13They accused Paul of “persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to our law.”
14But just as Paul started to make his defense, Gallio turned to Paul’s accusers and said, “Listen, you Jews, if this were a case involving some wrongdoing or a serious crime, I would have a reason to accept your case. 15But since it is merely a question of words and names and your Jewish law, take care of it yourselves. I refuse to judge such matters.” 16And he threw them out of the courtroom.
17The crowd then grabbed Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him right there in the courtroom. But Gallio paid no attention.

Paul Returns to Antioch of Syria

18Paul stayed in Corinth for some time after that, then said good-bye to the brothers and sisters and went to nearby Cenchrea. There he shaved his head according to Jewish custom, marking the end of a vow. Then he set sail for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him.
19They stopped first at the port of Ephesus, where Paul left the others behind. While he was there, he went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews. 20They asked him to stay longer, but he declined. 21As he left, however, he said, “I will come back later,God willing.” Then he set sail from Ephesus. 22The next stop was at the port of Caesarea. From there he went up and visited the church at Jerusalem and then went back to Antioch.
23After spending some time in Antioch, Paul went back through Galatia and Phrygia, visiting and strengthening all the believers.

Apollos Instructed at Ephesus

24Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. 25He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism. 26When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately.
27Apollos had been thinking about going to Achaia, and the brothers and sisters in Ephesus encouraged him to go. They wrote to the believers in Achaia, asking them to welcome him. When he arrived there, he proved to be of great benefit to those who, by God’s grace, had believed. 28He refuted the Jews with powerful arguments in public debate. Using the Scriptures, he explained to them that Jesus was the Messiah.
–from Acts 18


Where does your confidence come from?

On what are you basing this confidence of yours? What are you trusting in that makes you so confident? On what do you rest this trust of yours? What is this confidence that you have? What are you relying on? What is this “guarantee” that makes you yourself rely on it? What is your source of confidence? What makes you so confident?

During the good times? During the trials? During the troubles?

On whom are you depending? Who are you counting on? In whom do you now trust? Now on whom do you rely? What are you now relying on? In whom are you trusting?

Will you trust in God no matter what? Will you trust in Him like Daniel and his friends did when they wouldn’t bow down and then got thrown into the fiery furnace? Will you trust in Him like Daniel did when he kept praying and seeking God and then got thrown into the lions’ den? Will you trust in Him like David when he stood up to Goliath with just his slingshot and some stones? Will you trust Him in the midst of the storm? Will you trust Him when you are coming under attack like Hezekiah did when confronted by Sennacherib came to attack him?

Trust in God who is trustworthy! Trust in God who is faithful! Trust in God who is Love! Trust in God who will never leave you nor forsake you! Trust in God and turn back to Him!

Today’s reading begins with Isaiah 36…

Sennacherib Dares Jerusalem

1Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah that King Sennacherib of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 2The king of Assyria sent the Rab-shakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem to King Hezekiah with a massive army. The Rab-shakeh stood by the aqueduct of the upper pool in the highway of the washer’s field. 3Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the scribe, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder came out to him. 4So the Rab-shakeh said to them, “Say now to Hezekiah, thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: ‘What is this confidence you’ve relied on? 5I say your strategy and strength for war are only words of a lip. Who do you rely on now, so that you have rebelled against me? 6Behold, you rely on this splintered reed as a staff—Egypt! If a man leans on it, it will go into the palm of his hand and pierce it—thus Pharaoh king of Egypt is to all who trust in him. 7“‘But if you say to me: ‘We trust in Adonai our God’—is it not He whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, and then said to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You must worship before this altar’? 8“So now, make a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria. I’ll give you 2,ooo horses—if you could put riders of your own on them. 9So, how can you repulse a single lieutenant—the least of my master’s servants? Yes, you’re relying on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen. 10“Moreover, have I now come up against this land to destroy it without Adonai’s approval? Adonai said to me: ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it.’” 11Then Eliakim and Shebna and Joah said to the Rab-shakeh: “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it. Don’t speak to us in the language of the Jews when the people on the wall are listening.” 12But the Rab-shakeh said: “Has my master sent me only to your master and to you to speak these words? Hasn’t he sent me to the men who sit on the wall—who will eat their own waste and drink their own urine with you?” 13Then the Rab-shakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the language of the Jews and said: “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria. 14Thus says the king: ‘Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you! 15Nor let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in Adonai by saying, “Adonai will surely deliver us—this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.”’ 16“Don’t listen to Hezekiah! For thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make peace with me and come out to me. Then everyone will eat from his own vine and fig tree, and everyone will drink water from his own cistern, 17until I come and take you away to a land like your own land—a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards.’ 18“Beware that Hezekiah does not mislead you by saying, ‘Adonai will deliver us.’ Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 19Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Indeed, when did they deliver Samaria from my hand? 20Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their country out of my hand? So will Adonai deliver Jerusalem from my hand?” 21But they were silent, and did not answer him a word, for the king’s commandment was, “Do not answer him.” 22Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the palace, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rab-shakeh.

–from Isaiah 36

God knows what He is doing! God knows the heart and minds of every person! God’s sees beyond the surface right to the intention! God is trustworthy! We don’t need to fear others, we need to trust in God! The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it! Many create fake gods but put your hope and your trust in the one and only God! The God who is a saving God! The God who is not only Lord but also Savior! Realize whose fight it is! Realize the battle belongs to the Lord! Remember we already know who wins (feel free to read the end of the book if you haven’t already read that God wins)!

Hezekiah Tears His Clothes

1When King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the House of Adonai. 2Then he sent Eliakim, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the scribe and the senior kohanim, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet, son of Amoz. 3Then they said to him: “Thus says Hezekiah: This day is a day of distress, rebuke and contempt. For children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength for giving birth. 4Perhaps Adonai your God, will hear the words of the Rab-shakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words which Adonai your God has heard. So offer prayer for the remnant that is left.” 5When the officials of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, 6Isaiah said to them: “Thus you will say to your master, ‘Thus says Adonai: Do not be afraid of the words you have heard, with which the boys of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. 7Behold, I am putting a spirit in him so that he will hear a rumor, and will return to his own country; then I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.’” 8Then the Rab-shakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he had heard he had withdrawn from Lachish. 9Now he had heard them say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, saying: “He has come out to fight against you.” When he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah saying: 10“Thus you will say to King Hezekiah of Judah, saying, do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you, saying: ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ 11Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands—utterly destroying them—so will you be delivered? 12Have the gods of the nations delivered those my fathers destroyed—Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, or the children of Eden who were in Telassar? 13Where is the king of Hamath, or the king of Arpad, or the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, or Ivvah?’” 14Then Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it. Then Hezekiah went up to the House of Adonai and spread it before Adonai. 15Hezekiah prayed to Adonai saying: 16“Adonai-Tzva’ot, God of Israel, who is enthroned upon the cheruvim, You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 17Incline Your ear, Adonai, and hear! Open Your eyes, Adonai, and see! Listen to all the words of Sennacherib, who was sent to mock the living God. 18It is true, Adonai, the kings of Assyria have devastated all the countries and their lands, 19and have cast their gods into the fire—for they were not gods, but the work of human hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. 20Now, Adonai our God, save us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone are Adonai!” Answered Prayer and Sennacherib’s Demise 21Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent word to Hezekiah saying, “Thus says Adonai, the God of Israel: ‘Because you prayed to Me about King Sennacherib of Assyria, 22this is the word that Adonai has spoken about him: “The virgin Daughter of Zion will despise you and mock you. The daughter of Jerusalem will shake her head at you. 23Whom did you taunt and blaspheme? Against whom did you raise your voice and haughtily lift up your eyes? Against the Holy One of Israel! 24Through your servants, you have blasphemed my Lord and said: ‘With my many chariots I have climbed to the heights of the mountains, to the remotest parts of Lebanon! I cut down its tall cedars and choice cypress trees. I have gone to its farthest peak, its thickest forest. 25I dug and drank water, and with the sole of my feet, I dried up all the streams of Egypt.’ 26Have you not heard? I did it long ago! From ancient times I planned it. Now I have brought it to pass— that you should turn fortified cities into heaps of rubble. 27Their inhabitants are weak handed, shattered and ashamed. They are like the grass of the field and green herb, like grass on roofs, scorched before it is grown up. 28But I know your sitting down, your going out and your coming in, and your raging against Me. 29Because your raging against Me and your arrogance reached My ears, I will put My hook in your nose, and My bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way that you came.” 30So this shall be the sign to you: This year you will eat what grows by itself, in the second year what springs from that. But in the third year, you will sow, reap, plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. 31The surviving remnant of the house of Judah will take root downward and bear fruit upward. 32For from Jerusalem a remnant will go out, and survivors from Mount Zion. The zeal of Adonai-Tzva’ot shall perform this.” 33Therefore thus says Adonai concerning the king of Assyria: “He will not come to the city, or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield, or throw up a siege-ramp against it. 34By the way that he came, by the same he will return, and he will not come into this city” —it is a declaration of Adonai. 35“For I will defend this city to save it, for My own sake, and for My servant David’s sake.” 36Then the angel of Adonai went out and struck down 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp. When the men arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. 37So King Sennacherib of Assyria withdrew, and returned home, and stayed in Nineveh. 38It also came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of his god Nisroch, that his sons Adrammelech and Sarezer struck him down with the sword, and escaped into the land of Ararat. Then his son Esarhaddon became king in his place.

–from Isaiah 37

Jesus came the first time to save the world, not to condemn it! Jesus will return for the final battle! Jesus already conquered the grave! Jesus already completed the payment! We know this because on the cross He cried out “It is finished!” So don’t worry and don’t fear! Put your trust in God! Ask Jesus into your heart! Daily walk with Him and talk with Him! Allow Him to lead you and guide you! Allow Him to comfort you and encourage you! Why not step out today being bold and courageous because you know in whom you trust! Why not step out today being bold and courageous because you know where your confidence comes from!

Betrayed and Arrested

1When Yeshua had said these things, He went out with His disciples across the Kidron Valley, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. 2Now Judah, who was betraying Him, also knew the place, because Yeshua had often met there with His disciples. 3So Judah, having taken a band of soldiers and some officers from the ruling kohanim and Pharisees, comes there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. 4Then Yeshua, knowing all the things coming upon Him, went forward. He said to them, “Who are you looking for?” 5“Yeshua ha-Natzrati,” they answered Him. Yeshua tells them, “I am.” Now Judah, the one betraying Him, was also standing with them. 6So when Yeshua said to them, “I am,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7So again He asked them, “Who are you looking for?” And they said, “Yeshua ha-Natzrati.” 8Yeshua answered, “I told you, I am! If you’re looking for Me, let these men go their way.” 9This was so the word would be fulfilled that He spoke: “I did not lose one of those You have given Me.” 10Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the servant of the kohen gadol , and cut off his right ear. Now the servant’s name was Malchus. 11So Yeshua said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath! The cup the Father has given Me—shall I never drink it?”

Interrogated and Tried

12Then the band of soldiers, with the captain and the officers of the Judeans, seized Yeshua and tied Him up. 13They led Him first to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the kohen gadol that year. 14Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Judean leaders that it was better for one man to die on behalf of the people. 15Simon Peter was following Yeshua with another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the kohen gadol , so he went with Yeshua into the court of the kohen gadol . 16But Peter was left standing outside by the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the kohen gadol , went out and spoke to the doorkeeper and brought Peter in. 17The maidservant at the door says to Peter, “Aren’t you one of this Man’s disciples too?” He says, “No, I’m not.” 18The servants and officers were standing around a fire they had made, because it was cold and they were warming themselves. And Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself. 19The kohen gadol then questioned Yeshua about His disciples and His teaching. 20“I have spoken openly to the world,” Yeshua answered him. “I always taught in the synagogues and the Temple, where all the Jewish people come together. I spoke nothing in secret. 21Why question Me? Ask those who have heard what I spoke to them. Look, they know what I said.” 22When He had said this, one of the officers standing nearby gave Yeshua a slap, saying, “Is that the way you answer the kohen gadol ?” 23Yeshua answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, give evidence of the wrong; but if rightly, why hit Me?” 24Then Annas sent Him, still tied up, to Caiaphas, the kohen gadol . 25Now Simon Peter was standing outside and warming himself. So they said to him, “Aren’t you one of His disciples too?” He denied it and said, “No, I’m not!” 26One of the servants of the kohen gadol , a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with Him?” 27Again Peter denied it, and immediately a rooster crowed. 28Then they led Yeshua from Caiaphas to the Praetorium. It was early. They themselves did not enter the Praetorium, so they would not become unclean but might eat the Passover. 29Therefore Pilate came out to them and said, “What charge do you bring against this man?” 30They answered, “If He weren’t an evildoer, we wouldn’t have handed Him over to you.” 31Then Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him by your Torah!” The Judean leaders responded, “We are not authorized to put anyone to death.” 32This happened so that the word Yeshua spoke would be fulfilled, signifying what kind of death He was about to die. 33So Pilate went back into the Praetorium, called for Yeshua, and asked Him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34“Are you saying this on your own,” Yeshua answered, “or did others tell you about Me?” 35Pilate answered, “I’m not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and ruling kohanim handed You over to me! What have You done?” 36Yeshua answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Judean leaders. But as it is, My kingdom is not from here.” 37So Pilate said to Him, “Are you a king, then?” Yeshua answered, “You say that I am a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, so that I might testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” After he said this, he went out again to the Judean leaders. He said to them, “I find no case against Him. 39But it’s your custom that I release someone for you at Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40They shouted back, “Not this One, but Bar-Abba!” Now Bar-Abba was a revolutionary.

–from John 18

There is a way!

Don’t give up! Don’t lose hope! Don’t be afraid! Don’t worry! There is a way!

We are all facing choices! Everyday we need to make a choice! Choose wisely! Seek wisdom! There is a way!

Need answers? Need wisdom? Need direction? Need instruction? Need correction? There is a way!

Turn back to God! Ask God for help! Hear and obey His instruction! There is a way!

Today’s reading begins with Hosea…

Salvation Like Dew for Israel

1Samaria will bear her guilt, for she has rebelled against her God. They will fall by the sword, their infants dashed to pieces, their pregnant women ripped open. 2Return O Israel, to Adonai your God, for you have stumbled in your iniquity. 3Take words with you and return to Adonai. Say to Him: “Take away all iniquity, and accept what is good, so we may repay with offerings of our lips: 4‘Assyria will not save us. We will not ride on horses, and we will never again say, “Our god,” to the work of our hands, for with You, orphans find mercy.’” 5“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger will turn away from him. 6I will be like dew for Israel. He will blossom like a lily, and thrust out his roots like Lebanon. 7His tender shoots will spread out. His beauty will be like an olive tree and his fragrance will be like Lebanon. 8Those dwelling in his shadow will return. They will grow grain and bud like a vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon. 9Ephraim: “What more are idols to me? I have responded and observed Him. I will be like a luxuriant cypress tree. From me will be found Your fruit.” 10Who is wise? Let him discern these things. Who is intelligent? Let him know them. For the ways of Adonai are straight, and the just walk in them, but the wicked stumble in them.

–from Hosea 14

Will you help clean up the situation? Will you help make sure that we are going the right way? Will you help point people in the right direction? There is a way!

1The word of Adonai that came to Micah the Morashtite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah—visions he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.

Smashing Idols in the High Places

2Hear, O peoples—all of you! Attention, O land and everything in it! Adonai Elohim will be witness against you— The Lord from His holy Temple. 3For behold, Adonai is coming forth out of His place. He will come down and trample on the high places of the land. 4The mountains will melt away under Him and the valleys will split apart like wax before the fire, like water being poured down a slope. 5All this is because of Jacob’s transgression and the sins of the house of Israel. Who is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? Who are the high places of Judah? Are they not Jerusalem? 6So I will make Samaria into a ruin in the countryside, planting places for a vineyard. I will hurl her stones into the valley and will lay bare her foundations. 7All her images will be smashed, all her prostitute’s pay burned with fire, and all her idols I will make desolate. For from prostitute’s pay she collected them and to prostitute’s pay they will return. 8Concerning this let me lament and howl. Let me walk barefoot and naked. I will make a howl like jackals and a mourning like ostriches. 9For her wounds are incurable. For it has come up to Judah. It has reached the gate of my people— even up to Jerusalem! 10Tell it not in Gath—weep not at all. At Beth-le-aphrah roll in the dust. 11Pass on, you who dwell in Saphir— nakedness and shame— she who dwells in Zaanan will not come out. Wailing of Beth-ezel: He will take from you its standing-place. 12For she who dwells in Maroth has languished for something good. For calamity has come down from Adonai to Jerusalem’s gate. 13Harness the chariot to the steed, O inhabitant of Lachish! It was the beginning of sin for the Daughter of Zion— because in you were found the rebellions of Israel. 14Therefore you will give parting gifts to Moresheth-gath—houses of Achzib as a deception to the kings of Israel. 15Yet I will bring the possessor to you, inhabitant of Mareshah. The glory of Israel will come as far as Adullam. 16Shave yourself bald, yes shear your hair for the children of your delight. Enlarge your bald spot like a vulture, for they went from you into exile.

–from Micah 1

Let’s get our hearts aligned to God! Let’s get our hearts opened up to God’s ways! Let’s choose to take care of the things God has given us to do! Let’s hear His Word and do what He asks! Let’s allow the still quiet voice to lead us and direct us! Let’s turn back to God! Let’s point people back to God! There is a way!

Covetous Schemers

1Oy to them who scheme wickedness, who work out evil upon their beds! In the light of the morning, they do it, for the power is in their hands. 2They covet fields, so they seize them, or houses, and take them away. So they oppress a man and his house— a man and his inheritance. 3Therefore, thus said Adonai: “Behold, I am scheming a calamity against this family from which you cannot remove your necks. Then you will not walk haughtily, for it will be a time of distress.” 4In that day He will lift up a parable for you, and there will be wailing lamentation, saying: “We have been utterly ruined! He changes the portion of my people. How He removes it from me! To the faithless He apportions our fields!” 5Therefore you will have no one casting for territory by lot in the congregation of Adonai. 6“Do not prophesy,” they prophesy. Unless they prophesy about such things, He will not turn back reproaches.” 7Is it said, “O house of Jacob, is the Ruach Adonai short of patience? Are these His deeds?” “Do not My words deal well with one who walks uprightly?” 8But recently My people arose as an enemy. You strip off the outer robe of a garment from those passing through confidently— those returning from war. 9The wives of My people you cast out from their exquisite houses. From her young children you take away My splendor, forever. 10Arise and go! For this is not the resting place, because of uncleanness that destroys— a grievous destruction. 11If a man walking in a spirit of falsehood speaks lies—“I will prophesy for you of wine and strong drink”—then he would be a spokesman of this people. 12“I will surely gather Jacob—all of you! I will surely gather the remnant of Israel. I will put them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock within its pasture. They will be noisy with people. 13One breaking through will go up before them. They will break through, pass through the gate and go out by it. Their King will pass through before them —Adonai at their head!”

–from Micah 2

Let’s give our lives over to God! Let’s align our steps to His path, His plan, and His purpose! Let’s bring Him praise, honor, and glory in Jesus’ name! Let’s make a difference! Let’s walk in His strength! There is a way!

God Thunders Throughout Creation

1A psalm of David. Ascribe to Adonai, O sons of God, ascribe to Adonai glory and strength. 2Ascribe to Adonai the glory of His Name. Bow down to Adonai in the beauty of holiness. 3The voice of Adonai is over the waters. The God of glory thunders— Adonai is over mighty waters. 4The voice of Adonai is powerful. The voice of Adonai is full of majesty. 5The voice of Adonai breaks the cedars. Yes, Adonai shatters cedars of Lebanon. 6He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. 7The voice of Adonai hews out flames of fire. 8The voice of Adonai shakes the desert. Adonai shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. 9The voice of Adonai makes the deer writhe in birth and strips forests bare, and in His Temple all are saying, “Glory!” 10Adonai sits enthroned over the flood. Yes, Adonai sits as King forever. 11Adonai gives strength to His people. Adonai blesses His people with shalom.

–from Psalms 29

Follow after Jesus! He is the way, the truth, and the light! He will bring us to the Father! There is a way!

Jesus knew His purpose and nothing was going to get in His way! Jesus knew that in His sacrifice there would be victory for all! Jesus knew the beginning and the end! He conquered the grave! He defeated the cross! He made a way when there didn’t seem to be a way! He opened a door that nobody can close! He closed a door that nobody can open! Death was defeated and couldn’t hold Him down! So don’t lose hope! Don’t give up! There is a way!

Handed Over to the Romans

1Right at daybreak, the ruling kohanim held a meeting to consult with the elders and Torah scholars and the whole Sanhedrin. They tied up Yeshua, led Him away, and handed Him over to Pilate. 2Pilate interrogated Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Yeshua answers him, “As you say.” 3The ruling kohanim began to accuse Him of many things. 4Again, Pilate asked Him, “Aren’t you going to answer? Look how many charges they’re bringing against You!” 5But Yeshua did not answer, so Pilate was amazed. 6Now during the feast, he used to release to them one prisoner, anyone they were asking for. 7Now a man named Bar-Abba had been in jail with the rebels who had committed murder during the rebellion. 8The crowd came up and began to request what he was accustomed to do for them. 9But Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10For he knew that out of envy the ruling kohanim had handed Him over. 11But the ruling kohanim stirred up the crowd, so he would release Bar-Abba to them instead. 12Then answering again, Pilate said to them, “So what do you want me to do with the One you call the King of the Jews?” 13They shouted back, “Execute Him!” 14Pilate responded, “Why? What evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Execute Him!” 15Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Bar-Abba for them. And after he had Yeshua scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified. 16The soldiers took Him away, into the palace, the governor’s mansion called the Praetorium. And they call together the cohort of soldiers. 17They dress Him up in purple. After braiding a crown of thorns, they put it on Him. 18And they began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19Over and over, they kept hitting Him on the head with a staff and spitting on Him; and kneeling down, they worshiped Him. 20When they finished mocking Him, they stripped the purple off Him and put His own clothes back on Him. And they led Him out to crucify Him.

Crucified as King of the Jews

21Now Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was coming in from the countryside. The soldiers force this passerby to carry Yeshua’s cross-beam. 22They bring Yeshua to the place called Golgotha (which is translated, Place of a Skull). 23They were offering Him wine mixed with myrrh, but He didn’t take it. 24Then they crucify Him and divide up His clothing among themselves, casting lots for them to see who should take what. 25Now it was the third hour when they nailed Him on the stake. 26And the inscription of the charge against Him was written above: “THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 27And with Him they execute two outlaws, one on His right and one on His left. 28[footnote: Later mss. add: So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘He was counted with the sinners.’ See Isa. 53:12.] 29Those passing by were jeering at Him, shaking their heads and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days, 30save Yourself by coming down from the stake!” 31Likewise the ruling kohanim, along with the Torah scholars, were also mocking Him among themselves. “He saved others,” they were saying, “but He can’t save Himself? 32Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the stake, so we may see and believe!” Even those executed with Him were ridiculing Him.

Death and Burial

33When the sixth hour had come, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34At the ninth hour Yeshua cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” 35When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Look, He’s calling for Elijah.” 36Then someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine. He put it on a stick and was offering it to Yeshua to drink, saying, “Wait, let’s see if Elijah comes to take Him down.” 37But letting out a loud cry, Yeshua breathed His last. 38Then the curtain of the Temple was split in two, from top to bottom. 39When the centurion, who was standing in front of Him, saw the way Yeshua breathed His last, he said, “This Man really was the Son of God!” 40There were also women watching from a distance. Among them were Miriam from Magdala, Miriam the mother of Jacob the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41They would follow Him and serve Him when He was in the Galilee. Many other women who had gone up together with Him to Jerusalem were there also. 42Now evening had already come. Since it was the Day of Preparation, that is, the day before Shabbat, 43Joseph of Arimathea, a respected council member who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Yeshua’s body. 44Pilate was surprised that He was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him whether Yeshua had been dead for long. 45When Pilate learned this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen, and laid Him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47Miriam from Magdala and Miriam the mother of Joses were watching where Yeshua’s body was placed.

–from Mark 15


You are being called to do something…

You are being called to go! You are being called to show! You are being called to speak!

Will you obey the calling? Will you go where you are supposed to go? Will you show them what you are supposed to show them? Will you tell them what you are supposed to speak to them?

What will it take for you to do what you are supposed to do? Will you try to run away? Will you try to hide? Will you put others at risk because of your stubbornness? Will you put yourself ahead of others rather than being obedient and doing what you are supposed to do?

Will you provide the news of hope? Will you provide the news of love? Will you provide the news of correction? Will you provide the news of direction? What will you do?

Let’s look at an example of being called… Let’s look at an example of wanting to resist the call…Let’s look and see how that plays out…

Jonah Runs From His Mission

1Now the word of Adonai came to Jonah, son of Amittai, saying: 2“Rise, go to the great city Nineveh and call out to her, for their evil has risen before me.” 3But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish, from the presence of Adonai. He went down to Jaffa and found a ship going to Tarshish, paid the fee and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish—away from the presence of Adonai. 4Then Adonai hurled a forceful wind into the sea and there was such a mighty storm on the sea that the ship was about to shatter. 5So the sailors were afraid and cried out, each man to his own god. Then they cast the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest part of the ship, to lay down and fell fast asleep. 6So the chief sailor came near to him and said to him, “What, are you sleeping? Get up! Call out to your god. Perhaps the gods will consider us, so we will not perish!” 7Then each man said to his companion, “Come, let’s cast lots—so we may know because of whom this evil is happening to us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. 8Then they said to him, “Tell us, now! On whose account is this evil happening to us? What is your profession and where did you come from? What is your land and from what nation are you?” 9He said to them, “I am a Hebrew and I fear Adonai God of the heavens, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10Then the men became afraid with an overwhelming fear and they said to him, “What have you done?” For the men knew that he had fled from the presence of Adonai, because he had told them. 11So they said to him, “What should we do to you so the sea will become calm for us?”—for the storm was raging on. 12“Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he said to them, “then the sea will become calm for you. For I know it is because of me that this great storm is upon you.” 13Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to the land, but they could not, because the sea kept raging against them. 14So they cried to Adonai and said, “Please, Adonai, don’t let us perish on account of the soul of this man and don’t put innocent blood on us. For you, Adonai, have done as you pleased.” 15So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea—and the sea stilled from its raging. 16Then the men became afraid with an overwhelming fear of Adonai, and they offered a sacrifice to Adonai and made vows.

–from Jonah 1

Do you believe? If you believe then why would you go away from where you have been called? If you believe then why would you turn away from what you are supposed to do? Do you really want to put others at risk? What would it take for you to reconsider your ways? What would it take for you to turn back to do what God has called you to do? How big would it need to be? How long before you will agree to do what you have been called to do?

1Now Adonai prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah’s Prayer of Distress

2Then Jonah prayed to Adonai his God from the belly of the fish, 3saying: “From my distress I cried to Adonai and He answered me. From the belly of Sheol I cried for help and you heard my voice. 4For you hurled me from the deep into the heart of the seas, and currents swirled around me. All your waves and your breakers swept over me.” 5And I said, “I have been banished from before your eyes. Yet I will continue to look toward your holy Temple.” 6Waters surrounded me up to my soul. The deep sea engulfed me— reeds clung to my head. 7To the bottoms of the mountains I went down. The earth with her bars was around me, forever! Yet You brought my life up from the Pit, Adonai my God. 8As my soul was fading from me, I remembered Adonai and my prayer came to You, toward Your holy Temple. 9Those who watch worthless empty things forsake their mercy. 10But I, with a voice of thanks will sacrifice to you. What I vowed, I will pay. Salvation is from Adonai.” 11Then Adonai spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah onto the dry land.

–from Jonah 2

God is the god of second chances. This is true for you and for those God wants you to speak truth, hope, live to in and through love! So will you share that with others? Will you give that gift to others? Will you be a catalyst for forgiveness? Will you be a catalyst for salvation? Will you help others to realize where they are at and help them to come to the reality of the love of God? The Love of Jesus? Jesus was in the grave for 3 days before He rose … paralleling what happened to Jonah. Jesus came to speak the message of hope and truth to the world … paralleling the message Jonah has to share with the people of Nineveh. There are many things from the old testament that foreshadows what was to happen in the new testament. So don’t be an impediment to what God wants to do in and through you and your life! Here the call and be the catalyst He wants you to be to help the lives of others.

Nineveh Repents

1Now the word of Adonai came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2“Rise and go to Nineveh, the great city, and cry out to it the proclamation that I am telling you.” 3So Jonah rose and went to Nineveh according to the word of Adonai. Now Nineveh was a great city to God—the length of a three day journey. 4So Jonah began to come into the city for one day’s journey, and he cried out saying: “Another forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown!” 5Then the people of Nineveh believed God and called for a fast and wore sackcloth—from the greatest of them to the least of them. 6When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his robe, covered himself in sackcloth, and sat in the ashes. 7He made a proclamation saying: “In Nineveh, by the decree of the king and his nobles, no man or beast, herd or flock, may taste anything. They must not graze nor drink water. 8But cover man and beast with sackcloth. Let them cry out to God with urgency. Let each one turn from his evil way and from the violence in his hands. 9Who knows? God may turn and relent, and turn back from his burning anger, so that we may not perish.” 10When God saw their deeds—that they turned from their wicked ways—God relented from the calamity that He said He would do to them, and did not do it.

–from Jonah 3

Don’t be sad when you are successful! Success can be one of the biggest challenges you will or could ever face. God’s plan in the story of Jonah isn’t any different from what we read in the new testament. God’s plan is one of salvation. In 2 Peter, we read…

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. –from 2 Peter 3:9

That is because…

16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. –from John 3

God sent Jonah to Nineveh with the same hope that they would turn from their evil ways and turn back to Him and be saved! So if you are successful in sharing the good news and people’s lives are turned around, how will you respond? Don’t try to be the judge…leave that in God’s hands. You know God’s heart so don’t be surprised when He is as great as you believe! We all need God’s grace! We all need God’s love! We all need God’s salvation!

Jonah’s Displeasure at God’s Mercy

1But it greatly displeased Jonah and he resented it. 2So he prayed to Adonai and said, “Please, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my own country? That’s what I anticipated, fleeing to Tarshish—for I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and full of kindness, and relenting over calamity. 3So please, Adonai, take my soul from me—because better is my death than my life.” 4Yet Adonai said, “Is it good for you to be so angry?” 5So Jonah went out from the city and sat east of the city. There He made a sukkah and he sat under it, in the shade, until he saw what would happen in the city. 6Then Adonai God prepared a plant and it grew up over Jonah, to give shade over his head to spare him from his discomfort. So Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7But God at dawn the next day prepared a worm that crippled the plant and it withered away. 8When the sun rose, God prepared a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint. So he implored that his soul would die, saying, “My death would be better than my life!” 9Then God said to Jonah, “Is it good for you to be so angry about the plant?” “It is,” he said, “I am angry enough to die!” 10But Adonai said, “You have pity on the plant for which you did no labor or make it grow, that appeared overnight and perished overnight. So shouldn’t I have pity on Nineveh— the great city that has in it more than 120,000 people who don’t know their right hand from their left—as well as many animals?”

–from Jonah 4

So where will you stand today? So what will you do today? Will you make a difference? Will you be the difference? How will you choose to live?

We need to let them know before it is too late! We need to share God’s good news before it’s too late! We need to speak to them before the day of judgment! Let’s be as Jonah who did what God called him to do (hopefully without needing to be swallowed by a giant fish) so that everyone gets to hear the good news and can turn back to God before it is too late! Let’s speak the good news to both those we consider friends and those who tend to be against us most of the time (or you may even call your enemies) for Jesus tells us that we are to love our enemies! Time is coming! Jesus is coming back! So let’s share His love with the world around us that they may turn to God as the people of Nineveh did and be saved!

Let’s speak life over them! Let’s speak power of them! Let’s speak truth over them! Let’s do it all in LOVE!

The Kingdom Is Coming Now

1The beginning of the Good News of Yeshua ha-Mashiach, Ben-Elohim. 2As Isaiah the prophet has written, “Behold, I send My messenger before You, who will prepare Your way. 3The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of Adonai, and make His paths straight.’” 4John appeared, immersing in the wilderness, proclaiming an immersion involving repentance for the removal of sins. 5All the Judean countryside was going out to him, and all the Jerusalemites. As they confessed their sins, they were being immersed by him in the Jordan River. 6John wore clothes made from camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7“After me comes One who is mightier than I am,” he proclaimed. “I’m not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of His sandals! 8I immersed you with water, but He will immerse you in the Ruach ha-Kodesh.”

The Spirit Rests on Yeshua

9In those days, Yeshua came from Natzeret in the Galilee and was immersed by John in the Jordan. 10Just as He was coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens ripping open and the Ruach as a dove coming down upon Him. 11And there came a voice from the heavens: “You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased!” 12That instant, the Ruach drives Him into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by satan. And He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were taking care of Him.

Fishermen Follow Him

14Now after John was put in jail, Yeshua came into the Galilee, proclaiming the Good News of God. 15“Now is the fullness of time,” He said, “and the kingdom of God is near! Turn away from your sins, and believe in the Good News!” 16Passing along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Simon’s brother Andrew casting a net in the sea, for they were fishermen. 17And Yeshua said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 19Going a little farther, He saw Jacob the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20Immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired hands and followed Him.

Demons Flee at His Command

21And they went into Capernaum. Right away, on Shabbat, He entered the synagogue and began to teach. 22And they were astounded at His teaching, for He was teaching them as one having authority and not as the Torah scholars. 23Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24“What have we to do with You, Yeshua of Natzeret? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are! You’re the Holy One of God!” 25Yeshua rebuked him, saying, “Quiet! Come out of him!” 26And the unclean spirit, after throwing the man into convulsions and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27They were all so amazed that they asked among themselves, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him!” 28And immediately news about Him spread throughout the region surrounding Galilee.

The Hurting Become Whole

29As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with Jacob and John to the house of Simon and Andrew. 30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever. Right away, they told Yeshua about her. 31He came and raised her up by taking her hand. The fever left her, and she began to take care of them. 32When evening came, at sunset, the people brought to Him all the sick and those who were afflicted by demons. 33The whole town gathered together at the door. 34He healed many who were sick with various diseases and drove out many demons. And He would not allow the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. 35Very early, while it was still night, Yeshua got up, left, and went away to a place in the wilderness; and there He was praying. 36Then Simon and those with him hunted for Yeshua. 37And when they found Him, they said to Him, “Everybody’s looking for You.” 38He said to them, “Let’s go somewhere else, to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also—this is what I came for.” 39And He went throughout all the Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and driving out demons. 40A man with tza’arat comes to Him, begging Him and falling on his knees, saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” 41Moved with compassion, Yeshua stretched out His hand and touched him. He said, “I am willing. Be cleansed.” 42Immediately, the tza’arat left him, and he was cleansed. 43Yeshua sent him away at once, sternly warning him. 44He said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go show yourself to the kohen. Then, for your cleansing, offer what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” 45But he went out and began to proclaim and spread the word, so much that Yeshua could no longer enter a town openly but had to stay out in wilderness areas. Still, they kept on coming to Him from everywhere.

–from Mark 1





It’s time…what will you do?

Are you in the right state of mind? Are you focused on the right things? Are you doing the right things? Are you focused? Are you serving? Are you leading? Are you following? Do you know what time it is? Do you know what is coming? Do you know what is required? Where will you go? Where will you turn? What will you do?

Nothing is hidden from God! You can’t trick Him! You can’t fool Him! Nothing is unknown to Him! So what does He see? How have you been living? What is it saying about you? What is your life song singing about you? What will God say to you? Do you need to change? Do you know what you need to change? What will it take for you to align with God’s will? What will it take for you to walk in obedience to Him and His Word and His will? Will you do something about it? Do you just want to deal with the consequences?

Curse on House of Jeroboam

1At that time, Abijah, Jeroboam’s son fell sick. 2Jeroboam said to his wife, “Please go disguise yourself, so they won’t recognize you as Jeroboam’s wife, and go to Shiloh. Look, the prophet Ahijah who told me that I would be king over these people is there. 3Take with you ten loaves, biscuits and a jar of honey, and go to him. He will tell you what will happen to the boy.” 4Jeroboam’s wife did so. She got up and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see for his eyes were dim because of his age. 5Adonai had said to Ahijah, “Look! Jeroboam’s wife is coming to ask you about her son, for he is sick. You are to say such and such to her, for she will be in disguise.” 6As soon as Ahijah heard the sound of her feet as she came through the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why this disguise? But I have been sent to you with a difficult message. 7Go tell Jeroboam, thus says Adonai, God of Israel: ‘I raised you up from among the people and made you leader over My people Israel. 8I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it you. Yet you have not been like My servant David who kept My commandments and followed Me with all his heart, doing only what was right in My eyes. 9Instead you have done more evil than all who were before you, and have gone and made yourself other gods—molten images to vex Me—and have cast Me behind your back. 10Therefore, I am about to bring evil on the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off to Jeroboam even one man, bond and free, in Israel. I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns the dung until it is all gone. 11Anyone who belongs to Jeroboam and dies in the city, the dogs will eat, and anyone who dies in the field, the birds of the sky will eat. For Adonai has spoken it. 12“As for you, arise and go to your house. As soon as you set foot in the town, the boy will die. 13All Israel will lament over him and bury him, for it is only him of Jeroboam’s house who will be buried, because in him alone, of all Jeroboam’s house, something good was found toward Adonai, the God of Israel. 14“Moreover Adonai will raise up for Himself a king over Israel who will cut off the house of Jeroboam that day. So now, what else? 15Adonai will strike Israel until it sways like a reed in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land that He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the River, because they have made their Asherah poles, provoking Adonai. 16So He will give up Israel because of the sins of Jeroboam which he committed, and caused Israel to commit.” 17Then Jeroboam’s wife got up, left and went to Tirzah. As soon as she stepped over the threshold of the house, the child died. 18They buried him and all Israel lamented over him, just as was the word of Adonai that He spoke through His servant Ahijah the prophet. 19As for the rest of the deeds of Jeroboam, how he made war and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. 20The days that Jeroboam reigned were 22 years and then he slept with his fathers. His son Nadab reigned in his place.

Idolatry and Consequences

21Meanwhile Rehoboam son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was 41 years old when he became king, and he reigned 17 years in Jerusalem—the city where Adonai had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel to put His Name. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess. 22Judah did what was evil in Adonai’s eyes. They provoked Him to jealousy with more than all that their forefathers had done with the sins that they committed. 23They also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every leafy tree; 24and there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did the same abominations as those of the nations that Adonai had driven out before the children of Israel. 25Now it came to pass in the fifth year of King Rehoboam, King Shishak of Egypt marched against Jerusalem. 26He took away the treasures of the House of Adonai and the treasures of the royal palace. He took away everything—even taking all the golden shields that Solomon had made. 27So King Rehoboam made in their place bronze shields and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, watching over the doorway of the royal palace. 28Whenever the king went to the House of Adonai, the guard would carry them and bring them back into the guardroom. 29Now the rest of the deeds of Rehoboam and all that he did—are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 30There was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually. 31Then Rehoboam slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite. Then his son Abijam became king in his place.

–from 1 Kings 14

Have you walked away from God? Have you turned your back on Him? What do you think will happen? What did you expect to happen? What will it take for you to turn back? What will it take for you to return to God? How bad does it have to get? How low do you have to sync? We all have to make the choice for ourselves! Take a look around, it’s a hurting world and it needs to the reality, the truth, and the hope of God! Take a look around, it’s hurting people who are hurting people! We need to turn back, we need to fill up, we need to step up, we need to share and care, we need to help others see the truth and reality of who God is in and through us! We need to speak life and hope and truth! We need to help them realize they get to choose whom they will serve and whom they are serving and how God is worth serving so much more!

Shishak Attacks Jerusalem

1Now it came to pass, when the kingdom of Rehoboam was established and he had become strong, that he and all Israel with him forsook the Torah of Adonai. 2It so happened that in the fifth year of King Rehoboam, King Shishak of Egypt marched against Jerusalem—because they had been unfaithful to Adonai— 3with 1,200 chariots, 60,000 horsemen and innumerable troops that came with him from Egypt: Lybians, Sukkites and Cushites. 4He captured the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem. 5Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and the officers of Judah who had gathered in Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, “Thus says Adonai: ‘You have abandoned Me— so I also have abandoned you into the hand of Shishak.’” 6Then the officers of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “Adonai is just.” 7But when Adonai saw that they humbled themselves, the word of Adonai came to Shemaiah saying: “Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but grant them some measure of deliverance, and My wrath will not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. 8However, they will become subjects to him so that they may learn the difference between serving Me and serving the kings of the earth.” 9So Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem and took away the treasures of the House of Adonai and the treasures of the king’s palace. He took away everything; he even took away the golden shields that Solomon had made. 10So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and entrusted them to the hands of the captains of the royal guard that guarded the entrance to the royal palace. 11Whenever the king entered into the House of Adonai, the guards would carry them and then bring them back into the guard chamber. 12Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the anger of Adonai turned from him and He did not destroy him completely. Indeed there were good things in Judah. 13So King Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem and reigned as king. Rehoboam was 41 years old when he began to reign and he reigned 17 years in Jerusalem—the city that Adonai had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel to put His Name there. His mother’s name was Naamah, the Ammonite. 14But he did evil because he had not set his heart to seek Adonai. 15Now the acts of Rehoboam, from beginning to end, are they not written in the chronicles of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer for genealogies? There were continuous wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. 16Then Rehoboam slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David. Then his son Abijah became king in his plac

–from 2 Chronicles 12

So who are you following? Who is leading you? Who is guiding you? Who is instructing you? Who is correcting you? Who is your source of hope?

Abijah’s Bold Speech

1In the 18th year of King Jeroboam, Abijah began to reign over Judah. 2He reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Micaiah, the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3Abijah went into battle with an army of valiant warriors, 400,000 chosen men, while Jeroboam arranged for battle against him 800,000 chosen men, mighty warriors. 4Abijah stood on top of Mount Zemaraim, which is a hill of Ephraim, and said, “Listen to me Jeroboam and all Israel! 5Don’t you know that Adonai, God of Israel, has given kingship over Israel to David forever—to him and his sons by a covenant of salt? 6Yet Jeroboam son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon son of David, rose up and rebelled against his master. 7Riffraff and scoundrels gathered around him and pressed hard on Rehoboam son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted and could not stand up to them. 8“So now, do you intend to oppose the kingdom of Adonai, which is in the hand of David’s descendants? Are you indeed a great multitude—and with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made for you as gods? 9Have you not banished the kohanim of Adonai, the sons of Aaron, as well as the Levites, and then appointed your own priests—just as the peoples of the lands do? Can whoever comes to consecrate himself with a bull from a young cow and seven rams become a priest—for gods of nothing? 10“But as for us, Adonai is our God! And we have not forsaken Him. We have the sons of Aaron ministering as kohanim to Adonai and the Levites in their work. 11Every morning and evening they burn to Adonai burnt offerings and sweet incense. They set the rows of bread on the pure table and they light the golden menorah with its lamps burning every evening—for we keep the service of Adonai Eloheinu—but you have forsaken Him. 12So look, God is with us at our head, and His kohanim with the signal trumpets to sound an alarm against you. O men of Israel, do not fight against Adonai, the God of your fathers—for you will not succeed!” 13But Jeroboam had commanded the ambush to go around and come from the rear. So while they were in front of Judah, the ambush was behind them. 14When Judah turned around, behold, the battle was before and behind them. They cried out to Adonai and the kohanim blew the trumpets. 15Then the men of Judah raised a battle cry, and as the men of Judah shouted, God struck down Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. 16Then men of Israel fled before Judah and God delivered them into their hand. 17So Abijah and his people defeated them with a great slaughter, and 500,000 chosen men of Israel fell slain. 18Thus men of Israel were subdued at that time, while the children of Judah prevailed—because they relied upon Adonai, the God of their fathers. 19Abijah pursued Jeroboam and captured towns from him: Bethel with its villages, Jeshanah with its villages, and Ephron with its villages. 20Jeroboam could not muster strength again in the days of Abijah. Finally Adonai struck him and he died. 21But Abijah grew powerful and took to himself 14 wives and fathered 22 sons and 16 daughters. 22Now the rest of the acts of Abijah, his ways and his sayings, are written in the chronicles of the prophet Iddo. 23Then Abijah slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David. His son Asa became king in his place. During his days the land was untroubled for ten years.

–from 2 Chronicles 13

So does knowing help you choose? If you read the end of the book first will that help you to get through the rest of it? If you know how it ends will that help you in deciding how to live out your life?

The Heavenly Throne of Adonai

1After these things I looked, and behold, a door was standing open in heaven. And the first voice, which I had heard speaking with me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” 2Immediately I was in the Ruach; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One seated on the throne. 3And the One who was seated was like jasper and carnelian in appearance, and a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. 4Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders dressed in white clothes with golden crowns on their heads. 5And out from the throne come flashes of lightning and rumblings and clashes of thunder—and seven torches of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. 6And before the throne was something like a sea of glass, like crystal. In the middle of the throne and around it were four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind. 7The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature was like an ox, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes all around and within. They do not rest day or night, chanting, “Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh Adonai Elohei-Tzva’ot, asher haya v’hoveh v’yavo! Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts, who was and who is and who is to come!” 9And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the One seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10the twenty-four elders fall down before the One seated on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever. And they throw their crowns down before the throne, chanting, 11“Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, For You created all things, and because of Your will they existed and were created!”

–from The Revelation 4

Do you realize who is worthy? Do you realize who is on the throne? Will you choose before it is too late?

A Scroll with Seven Seals

1And I saw in the right hand of the One seated upon the throne a scroll, written on both the front and the back, sealed with seven seals. 2I also saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals?” 3No one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. 4I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5Then one of the elders tells me, “Stop weeping! Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed—He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Worshiping the Lamb

6And in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as having been slain—having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7He came and took the scroll from the right hand of the One seated on the throne. 8When He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense—which are the prayers of the kedoshim. 9And they are singing a new song, saying, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals. For You were slain, and by Your blood You redeemed for God those from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10You have made them for our God a kingdom and kohanim, and they shall reign upon the earth.” 11Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders—their number was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands. 12They were chanting with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13And I heard every creature in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea and everything in them, responding, “To the One seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and power forever and ever!” 14And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

–from The Revelation 5


Do you know where to turn when you realize you are lost?

Where will you turn for directions?  Where will you turn for hope? Where will you turn for instructions? Where will you go for help? How far off track do you have to go before you will stop? How long will it take you before you realize you have gotten out of alignment?

Today’s reading begins speaking to this area…

Sprouting of Aaron’s Rod

1Adonai spoke to Moses saying, 2“Speak to Bnei-Yisrael and get a rod from each ancestral house, twelve staffs in all, from each prince according to his ancestral household. Write each man’s name on his staff. 3Write Aaron’s name on Levi’s staff, for there is to be one staff for the prince of each tribe. 4Then you are to place them in the Tent of Meeting, before the Testimony, where I meet with you. 5It will come about that the staff of the man I choose will sprout. I will then rid Myself of the grumblings of Bnei-Yisrael, who are grumbling against you.” 6So Moses spoke to Bnei-Yisrael. Each of their princes gave him a staff, one staff for each prince according to their ancestral houses, twelve staffs in all, and Aaron’s staff was among them. 7Moses placed the staffs before Adonai in the Tent of Testimony. 8The next day, Moses entered the Tent of Testimony and behold, Aaron’s staff, from the house of Levi, had sprouted, blossomed, and produced almonds! 9Moses then brought all the staffs from Adonai’s Presence to all Bnei-Yisrael. They looked and each man took his staff. 10Adonai said to Moses, “Put Aaron’s staff back in front of the Testimony to keep as a sign to the sons of rebellion, so that it may put an end to their grumblings against Me, and so they will not die.” 11Moses did just as Adonai had commanded him. 12But Bnei-Yisrael said to Moses saying, “Look! We will die! We are all lost! We are lost! 13Anyone approaching the Tabernacle of Adonai will die! Must all of us die?”

–from Numbers 17

Will you be able to live selfless with each other? Will you be able to put others first? Will there be a mutual respect? Will there be a mutual agreement? Will you do unto others as you would want them to treat you? Do you have self-control? Will you be light to others? Will you live out a life that will transform others? Will you testify of God in how you live so that others may glorify God? Will you share the love of God with others by living a life that shows His hand working in and through you?

Kohen Duties and Portions

1Adonai said to Aaron, “You, your sons, and the house of your father with you will bear the guilt for the Sanctuary, and you and your sons will bear the guilt for your priesthood. 2Bring with you your brothers, the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, so that they may join you and assist you, both you and your sons with you, before the Tent of the Testimony. 3They are to perform their duties for you and for all matters related to the Tent. They must not approach the implements of the Sanctuary or the altar—otherwise, both you and they will die. 4They are to team with you and attend to the Tent of Meeting, for all the service of the Tent. But no unauthorized person may intrude upon you. 5So you are to attend to the Sanctuary and the care of the altar, so no further wrath will fall on Bnei-Yisrael. 6“See, I have personally taken your kinsmen, the Levites, from among Bnei-Yisrael as a gift for you and your sons with you, dedicated to Adonai to serve in the work of the Tent of Meeting. 7But you and your sons with you are to maintain your priesthood for everything pertaining to the altar and inside the parokhet . I am giving you the ministry of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone unauthorized who approaches will die.” 8Adonai then said to Aaron, “See, I have given you charge over all My offerings. All the sacred things from Bnei-Yisrael I have given to you as set aside for you and your sons as a permanent share. 9You are to have the part of the most holy things that is kept from the fire. Whether grain, sin or guilt offerings that they bring to Me as most holy—they are for you and your sons. 10You are to eat it as most holy. Every male may eat it— it is set apart for you. 11This also is yours: the gift of the wave offerings of Bnei-Yisrael. I have given all the wave offerings as a permanent share to you, your sons and your daughters. Everyone who is clean in your house may eat it. 12All the finest olive oil, the finest new wine and grain they give to Adonai from their firstfruits, I have given them to you. 13All the firstfruits of the land that they bring to Adonai will be for yours. Anyone who is clean in your house may eat it. 14Every devoted thing in Israel is yours. 15The first offspring of the womb from all flesh, whether human or animal, offered to Adonai, is yours. However, you are to redeem the firstborn of man and the firstborn of unclean animals. 16When they are a month old, you are to redeem them at the redemption price of five shekels of silver by the Sanctuary shekel, or 20 gerahs. 17But the firstborn of the ox, sheep or goat you are not to redeem. They are holy. You are to sprinkle their blood on the altar, and their fat you are to burn as a fire offering, a pleasing aroma to Adonai. 18Their meat—the breast of the wave offering and the right thigh—is yours. 19Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings which Bnei-Yisrael present to Adonai, I have given to you, your sons and your daughters with you as a permanent share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before Adonai for you and your offspring.” 20Adonai said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land nor share among them. I am your portion and your share among Bnei-Yisrael. 21See, I have given all the tithes in Israel to the sons of Levi as an inheritance in return for all the work of the service they are doing in the Tent of Meeting. 22From now on, Bnei-Yisrael must never trespass the Tent of Meeting, or they will bear the consequences of their sin and die. 23The Levites will perform the service of the Tent of Meeting. They will bear the responsibility for their iniquity. It is a permanent ordinance throughout your generations. So among Bnei-Yisrael they are to receive no inheritance. 24For I have given the tithes that Bnei-Yisrael present to Adonai as an offering to the Levites as an inheritance. That is why I said they would receive no inheritance among Bnei-Yisrael.”

25Adonai spoke to Moses saying, 26“Speak now to the Levites and say to them: When you receive from Bnei-Yisrael the tithe which I have given to you as your inheritance, you are then to offer to Adonai a tithe of that tithe. 27Your offering will be reckoned as grain from the threshing floor or the fullness of the winepress. 28Thus you will also present an offering to Adonai from all your tithes that you receive from Bnei-Yisrael, and from that you are to give Adonai’s portion to Aaron the kohen. 29From all your gifts that you receive, you are to present the best and holiest from them as Adonai’s portion. 30“Say to them: When you present the best part, it will be reckoned to the Levites as the produce of the threshing floor and of the winepress. 31You and your household may eat it in any place. It is your wage for your service in the Tent of Meeting. 32“In presenting the best part in this manner, you will bear no guilt in these matters. You will not defile the holy things of Bnei-Yisrael, so you will not die.”

–from Numbers 18

The answer is God! We need to turn to Jesus and ask Him for wisdom and direction! We need to give up what we have to God and allow Him to use it! God is able to take the little you have and multiply it for a greater good. Consider the lady with a handful of flour and a little bit of olive oil! Consider the lady with the little bit of oil! Consider the boy with the fish and loaves! Consider the impact it had when it was given over for the work of God! Feeling lost? Turn to God!

God Is the Strength of My Heart

1A psalm of Asaph. Surely God is good to Israel, to the pure in heart. 2But as for me, my feet almost slipped. My steps nearly slid out from under me. 3For I envied the arrogant, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4For there are no pains at their death, their body is healthy. 5They have none of humanity’s trouble, nor are they plagued like others. 6Therefore, they put on pride as a necklace, and violence wraps around them like a garment. 7Their eyes bulge out from fatness. The imaginations of their hearts run wild. 8They scoff and wickedly plan evil. From on high they threaten. 9They set their mouth against heaven. Their tongue struts through the earth. 10Therefore His people return here, while they drink their fill. 11So they say: “How does God know? And does Elyon have knowledge?” 12Behold, such are the wicked— always at ease and amassing wealth. 13Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure, and washed my hands in innocence. 14For all day I have been stricken, my chastisement comes every morning. 15If I had said: “I will speak thus,” surely I would have betrayed a generation of Your children. 16But when I tried to make sense of this, it was troubling in my eyes— 17until I entered the Sanctuary of God, and perceived their end. 18Surely You put them in slippery places. You hurled them down to destruction. 19How suddenly they became a ruin— terminated, consumed by terrors. 20Like a dream when one awakes, thus when You arise, my Lord, You will despise their form. 21When my heart was embittered and I was pierced in my heart, 22I was brutish and ignorant. I was like a beast before You. 23Yet I am continually with You. You hold my right hand. 24You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory. 25Whom have I in heaven but You? On earth there is none I desire besides You. 26My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27For behold, those far from You will perish. You put an end to all who like a harlot are unfaithful to You. 28But for me, it is good to be near God. I have made my Lord Adonai my refuge. So I will tell of all Your works.

–from Psalms 73

Let’s live more interested in building up than puffing up! Let’s live by love rather than knowledge!

Concerning Idol Sacrifices

1Now concerning idol sacrifices, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2If anyone thinks he knows anything, he doesn’t yet know as he ought to know. 3But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. 4Therefore concerning the eating of idol sacrifices, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no God but one. 5For even if there are so-called “gods,” whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Yeshua the Messiah, through whom are all things, and we exist through Him. 7But that knowledge is not in everyone—some, so accustomed to idols up until now, eat food as an idol sacrifice; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8But food will not bring us before God. We are no worse off if we do not eat and no better off if we do eat. 9But watch out that this freedom of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For suppose someone sees you—who have this knowledge—dining in an idol’s temple. If his conscience is weak, won’t he be emboldened to eat idol sacrifices? 11For the one who is weak is destroyed by your knowledge—the brother for whom Messiah died. 12In this way, when you sin against the brothers and sisters and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Messiah. 13For this reason, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I do not cause my brother to stumble.

–from 1 Corinthians 8

Will you step out of your comfort zone and reach out a hand to help others? Will you answer the prompting of the Spirit? Will you say what He asks you to say? Will you do what He asks you to do? Will you turn to Him when you are lost?

 A Mitzvah on Shabbat

1Yeshua entered the synagogue again, and a man with a withered hand was there. 2Now some were carefully watching Him, to see if He would heal him on Shabbat, so that they might accuse Him. 3He said to the man with the withered hand, “Stand up here in the center.” 4Then He said to them, “Is it permitted on Shabbat to do good or to do evil, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. 5After looking around at them with anger, grieved by their hardness of heart, He says to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6The Pharisees went out right away with the Herodians and began plotting against Him, how they might destroy Him.

Crowds Clamor for Yeshua

7Yeshua withdrew to the sea with His disciples, and a large crowd from the Galilee followed. From Judea, 8and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and around Tyre and Sidon, a great number, hearing all He was doing, came to Him. 9He told His disciples to have a small boat ready for Him because of the crowd, so that they wouldn’t mob Him. 10For He had healed many, so that all those afflicted fell down before Him in order to touch Him. 11And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, would fall down before Him and cry out, “You are Ben-Elohim!” 12But Yeshua strictly ordered them not to make Him known.

Appointing the Twelve

13Now He climbs up on the mountain and calls those He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. 14He appointed twelve (whom He also named emissaries), so that they might be with Him and He might send them to proclaim the Good News, 15and to have power to drive out demons. 16And He appointed the Twelve: to Simon He gave the name Peter; 17to Jacob and his brother John, the sons of Zebedee, He gave the name Boanerges, which is Sons of Thunder; 18and Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, Jacob the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot; 19and Judah from Kriot, who also betrayed Him.

Binding the Strong Man

20Then He comes into a house, and again a crowd gathers so they couldn’t even eat. 21When His family heard about this, they went out to take hold of Him; for they were saying, “He’s out of His mind!” 22The Torah scholars who came down from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by beelzebul,” and, “By the ruler of demons He drives out demons.” 23He called them and began speaking to them in parables: “How can satan drive out satan? 24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26And if satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand but his end has come. 27“But no one can enter a strong man’s house to ransack his property, unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he will thoroughly plunder his house. 28Amen, I tell you, all things will be forgiven the sons of men, the sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29but whoever slanders the Ruach ha-Kodesh never has release, but is guilty of an eternal sin!” 30For they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

A Spiritual Family Begins

31Then His mother and brothers come. Standing outside, they sent word to Him, summoning Him. 32A crowd was sitting around Him, and they tell Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.” 33Answering them, He said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” 34Looking at those sitting in a circle around Him, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 35For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

–from Mark 3





Sometimes you just need to carry the load

Ever found yourself in a situation where you wish there was another way? A way to automate or to find some other way to do other than manually? Sometimes we just have to carry the load. Not the weight of the world, but there may be a specific load you need to be carrying for the glory of God! If you are feeling like you are carrying the weight of the world, then you need to re-evaluate and seek wisdom and others who can help! The load isn’t just for you to carry – in some cases it is supposed to be a group of people! God won’t give us more than we can handle! So consider your role and your responsibility and how much of the load is yours to carry! Are you carrying your load or are you carrying someone else’s or someone else’s too?

Today’s reading speaks to this when it speaks to the offering of oxen and covered carts. Most were able to take advantage of such a great gift and put all the stuff they were responsible into them, however, others were not given and not allowed to use them. In their case, they were instructed to carry the holy things on their shoulders. There is a reason and a purpose for everything. We see how thanks to God’s generosity people’s hearts were opened and chose to give! He gave first! He gave more! Everything belongs to God! He allows us to be stewards of His gifts to us! He doesn’t need for us to give, it is just the response of our hearts to do so! Consider the story of the 3 servants who were given talents – if we will be good stewards, He will be able to trust us with more! If we aren’t He can take it all away and give it to someone who will!

Offerings of Tribal Princes

1When Moses finished setting up the Tabernacle, he anointed and consecrated it and all its implements, the altar and all its utensils, and he anointed and consecrated them. 2Then the princes of Israel, heads of their ancestral houses—they were tribal princes in charge over those who were numbered—gave offerings. 3They brought as their gift before Adonai six covered carts and twelve oxen. A cart came from every two princes and an ox from each one of them. They presented them before the Tabernacle.
4Adonai spoke to Moses saying, 5“Accept these from them to use in the service of the Tent of Meeting. Give them to the Levites to use as each man’s work requires.” 6So Moses took the carts and the oxen and he gave them to the Levites. 7He gave two carts and four oxen to the sons of Gershon, as their work required, 8and four carts and eight oxen to the sons of Merari, as their work required, under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron the kohen. 9But to the sons of Kohath he did not give any because their responsibility was carrying the holy items on their shoulders.
10When the altar was anointed, the princes brought their dedication offerings and presented them before the altar. 11For Adonai had said to Moses, “Each day one of the princes is to bring his offering for the altar’s dedication.”
12Bringing his offering on the first day was Nahshon son of Amminadab, from the tribe of Judah.
13His offering was one silver plate weighing 130 shekels, one silver basin weighing 70 shekels by the shekel of the Sanctuary, both of them filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering, 14one ladle of 10 shekels of gold filled with incense, 15one young bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old as a burnt offering, 16one male goat as a sin offering, 17and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs one year old to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Nahshon son of Amminadab.
18On the second day, Nethanel son of Zuar, prince of Issachar, brought his offering.
19The offering he brought was one silver plate weighing 130 shekels, one silver basin weighing 70 shekels according to the shekel of the Sanctuary, both filled with fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, 20one gold ladle of 10 shekels filled with incense, 21one young bull, one ram and one male lamb one year old for a burnt offering, 22one male goat for a sin offering, 23and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs one year old to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Nethanel son of Zuar.
24On the third day was the prince of the sons of Zebulun, Eliab son of Helon.
25His offering was one silver plate weighing 130 shekels, one silver basin weighing 70 shekels, both according to the shekel of the Sanctuary, both filled with fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, 26one ladle of 10 shekels of gold filled with incense, 27one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old for a burnt offering, 28one male goat for a sin offering, 29two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Eliab son of Helon.
30On the fourth day was the prince of the sons of Reuben, Elizur son of Shedeur.
31His offering was one silver plate weighing 130 shekels, one silver basin weighing 70 shekels according to the shekel of the Sanctuary, both filled with fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, 32one ladle of 10 shekels of gold filled with incense, 33one young bull, one ram, one male lamb a year old for a burnt offering, 34one male goat for a sin offering, 35and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old to be sacrificed as a fellowship ­offering. This was the offering of Elizur son of Shedeur.
36On the fifth day was the prince of the sons of Simeon, Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai.
37His offering was one silver plate weighing 130 shekels, one silver basin weighing 70 shekels according to the shekel of the Sanctuary, both filled with fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, 38one ladle of 10 shekels of gold filled with incense, 39one young bull, one ram, one male lamb a year old for a burnt offering, 40one male goat for a sin offering, 41and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai.
42On the sixth day was the prince of the sons of Gad, Eliasaph son of Deuel.
43His offering was one silver plate weighing 130 shekels, one silver basin weighing 70 shekels according to the shekel of the Sanctuary, both filled with fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, 44one ladle of 10 shekels of gold filled with incense, 45one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old for a burnt offering, 46one male goat for a sin offering, 47and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old to be sacrificed as a fellowship ­offering. This was the offering of Eliasaph son of Deuel.
48On the seventh day was the prince of the sons of Ephraim, Elishama son of Ammihud.
49His offering was one silver plate weighing 130 shekels, one silver basin weighing 70 shekels according to the shekel of the Sanctuary, both filled with fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, 50one ladle of 10 shekels of gold filled with incense, 51one young bull, one ram, one male lamb a year old for a burnt offering, 52one male goat for a sin offering, 53and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Elishama son of Ammihud.
54On the eighth day was the prince of the sons of Manasseh, Gamaliel son of Pedahzur.
55His offering was one silver plate weighing 130 shekels, one silver basin weighing 70 shekels according to the shekel of the Sanctuary, both filled with fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, 56one ladle of 10 shekels of gold filled with incense, 57one young bull, one ram, one male lamb a year old for a burnt offering, 58one male goat for a sin offering, 59and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Gamaliel son of Pedahzur.
60On the ninth day was the prince of the sons of Benjamin, Abidan son of Gideoni.
61His offering was one silver plate weighing 130 shekels, one silver basin weighing 70 shekels according to the shekel of the Sanctuary, both filled with fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, 62one ladle of 10 shekels of gold filled with incense, 63one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old for a burnt offering, 64one male goat for a sin offering, 65and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Abidan son of Gideoni.
66On the tenth day came the prince of the sons of Dan, Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai.
67His offering was one silver plate weighing 130 shekels, one silver basin weighing 70 shekels according to the shekel of the Sanctuary, both filled with fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, 68one ladle of 10 shekels of gold filled with incense, 69one young bull, one ram, one male lamb a year old as a burnt offering, 70one male goat for a sin offering, 71and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai.
72On the eleventh day came the prince of the sons of Asher, Pagiel son of Ochran.
73His offering was one silver plate weighing 130 shekels, one silver basin weighing 70 shekels according to the shekel of the Sanctuary, both filled with fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, 74one ladle of 10 shekels of gold filled with incense, 75one young bull, one ram, one male lamb a year old as a burnt offering, 76one male goat for a sin offering, 77and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Pagiel son of Ochran.
78On the twelfth day came the prince of the sons of Naphtali, Ahira son of Enan.
79His offering was one silver plate weighing 130 shekels, one silver basin weighing 70 shekels, according to the shekel of the Sanctuary, both filled with fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, 80one ladle of 10 shekels of gold, filled with incense, 81one young bull, one ram, one male lamb a year old for a burnt offering, 82one male goat for a sin offering, 83and two young bulls, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Ahira son of Enan.
84This was the dedication offering from the princes of Israel for the day when the altar was to be anointed: twelve silver plates, twelve silver basins, twelve gold ladles. 85Each silver plate was of 130 shekels, and each silver basin was of 70 shekels. Altogether, the silver utensils weighed 2,400 shekels according to the shekel of the Sanctuary. 86The twelve gold ladles filled with incense each weighed 10 shekels, by the shekel of the Sanctuary. Altogether, the gold ladles totaled 120 shekels. 87The total of the livestock for the burnt offering was twelve young bulls, twelve rams, and twelve male lambs a year old, along with their grain offering. Twelve male goats were sin offerings.
88The total number of livestock used for sacrifice of fellowship offerings was 24 oxen, 60 rams, 60 male goats and 60 male lambs a year old. These were the dedicatory offerings for the altar after it was anointed.
89When Moses entered the Tent of Meeting to speak with Adonai, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the atonement cover atop the Ark of Testimony between the cheruvim. So he spoke with Him.
–from Numbers 7

So you might find yourself having to shoulder the load, but don’t lose hope and don’t be bitter. Pick it up and press on for the glory of God! And don’t forget either! Later on in the Bible (when David was trying to return the Ark back to Israel), people forgot and tried to put them into a cart and when it almost fell out, someone (Uzzah) reached out to try and save it from falling but since nobody was to touch it, they died. Their is a right way to do things! Their is such thing as right and wrong! So turn to God for wisdom! Turn to God’s Word for direction! And walk it out for the glory of His kingdom!

Need wisdom? Have you asked? We know that God’s Word is true and He tells us “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Today’s reading also speaks to us about wisdom…not manly wisdom, but Godly wisdom…

Wisdom that Rests on God’s Power

1When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with excellence of speech or wisdom, proclaiming to you the mystery of God. 2For I decided not to know about anything among you except Yeshua the Messiah—and Him crucified. 3I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power— 5so that your faith would not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 6We do speak wisdom, however, among those who are mature—but not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7Rather, we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery—a wisdom that has been hidden, which God destined for our glory before the ages. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it—for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9But as it is written, “Things no eye has seen and no ear has heard, that have not entered the heart of mankind— these things God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10But God revealed these things to us through the Ruach. For the Ruach searches all things—even the depths of God. 11For who among men knows the things of a man, except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the things of God except the Ruach Elohim. 12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God—so we might come to know the things freely given to us by God. 13These things we also speak—not in words taught by human wisdom but in words taught by the Ruach, explaining the spiritual to the spiritual. 14Now a natural man does not accept the things of the Ruach Elohim, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15But the one who is spiritual discerns all things, and he himself is discerned by no one. For 16“who has known the mind of Adonai, that he will instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Messiah.
–from 1 Corinthians 2


Will you abide?

Will you stay connected? Will you stay linked? Will you put your trust in Him? Will you depend on Him completely? Will you take hold of and walk in alignment to His Word? Will you be obedient to His commands?

Will you be a light to the world of God’s great love? Will you show of His great love? Will you show of His provision? Will you be an instrument of God into the lives of others? Will your life be evidence of all that God has been up to? Will your life be lived in a way that other will glorify and praise God?

Will you be living connected Will you be living so that God is able to flow through you? Will you bear much fruit so that there is evidence that God is in you and working through you? Will you love? Will you show love? Will you give love? Will you receive love?

It may not be easy, but it will be worth it! Remember Jesus’ Words…Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds…it will work in and through you so that you are complete and lacking nothing. In this world you will have troubles, but take hope for Jesus has already overcome the world! And today’s reading speaks of how the world hated him so it would only make sense that we won’t be easily accepted by them. Allow the Holy Spirit to be your comforter and your guide, your counselor and your wisdom.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. But you are not of the world, since I have chosen you out of the world; therefore the world hates you.
–from John 15:18-19
So stick with it! Don’t lose hope! Don’t give up! And see what God can and will do in and through you!
Don’t be cut off, but rather be ok with the pruning so that you will be able to produce even more fruit!

Today’s reading comes from Leviticus 24, Leviticus 25, and John 15.

Abiding in the Vine

1“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. 2Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He trims so that it may bear more fruit. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. The branch cannot itself produce fruit, unless it abides on the vine. Likewise, you cannot produce fruit unless you abide in Me. 5“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for apart from Me, you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away like a branch and is dried up. Such branches are picked up and thrown into the fire and burned. 7“If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. 8In this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.” 9“Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you. Abide in My love! 10If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and your joy may be full. 12“This is My commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15“I am no longer calling you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing. Now I have called you friends, because everything I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16“You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I selected you so that you would go and produce fruit, and your fruit would remain. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name. 17“These things I command you, so that you may love one another.”

The World Hates God’s Own

18“If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. But you are not of the world, since I have chosen you out of the world; therefore the world hates you. 20“Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21“But all these things they will do to you for the sake of My name, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23“He who hates Me also hates My Father. 24If I had not done works among them that no one else did, they would have no sin. But now they have seen and have hated both Me and My Father. 25So is fulfilled the word written in their Scripture, ‘They hated Me for no reason.’ 26“When the Helper comes—whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—He will testify about Me. 27And you also testify, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”
–from John 15

Do you want to leave a legacy?

What are you teaching them? What are they learning from watching you? Are your words aligning to your actions? Where are you pointing them? Where are you leading them? How are you encouraging them? How are you empowering them? What will they remember? What will they take with them? Be it your kids? Be it your employees? Be it your neighbors? Be it your friends? Be it … how will you pass on to them what you have received?

The love of God! The truth of God! The hope of God! The Word of God! The promises of God! The wisdom of God! The direction of God! The fact that God is with them! The fact that God is for them! The fact that He wants to have and build a relationship with them!

Today’s reading starts with the offspring of Esau who are the Edomites, as they left Canaan in Genesis 36. We see this topic continue as we move into Acts and watch Paul chose to mentor – to speak into and to train up in the ways he should go. Let’s jump into Acts 16 and see where it takes us today…

1Now Paul came to Derbe and Lystra. There was a disciple there named Timothy, son of a woman who was a Jewish believer and a Greek father,
2who was well-spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium.
3Paul wanted this man to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him for the sake of the Jewish people in those places—for they all knew that his father was Greek.
4As they were traveling through the cities, they were handing down the rulings that had been decided upon by the emissaries and elders in Jerusalem, for them to keep.
5So Messiah’s communities were strengthened in the faith and kept increasing daily in number.

Going West to Macedonia

6They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Ruach ha-Kodesh to speak the word in Asia.
7When they came to Mysia, they were trying to proceed into Bithynia, but the Ruach of Yeshua would not allow them.
8So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.
9Now a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man from Macedonia was standing and pleading with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!”
10As soon as he had seen the vision, immediately we tried to go to Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the Good News to them.
11So we put out to sea from Troas and made a straight course for Samothrace, the next day on to Neapolis,
12and from there to Philippi—which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia as well as a Roman colony. We stayed in this city for several days.
13On Yom Shabbat, we went outside the gate to the river, where we expected a place of prayer to be. We sat down and began speaking with the women who had gathered.
14A woman named Lydia—a seller of purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, a God-fearer—was listening. The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying.
15When she was immersed, along with her household, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she insisted.
16It so happened that as we were going to prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit of divination, who was bringing her masters much profit from her fortune-telling.
17Following after Paul and us, she kept shouting, saying, “These men are servants of El Elyon, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.”
18She kept doing this for many days. But Paul was irritated and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Messiah Yeshua to come out of her!” And it came out of her that very moment.
19But when her masters saw that the hope of profit was gone, they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities.
20And when they brought them to the chief authorities, they said, “These men are throwing our city into an uproar! Being Jewish,
21they advocate customs which are not permitted for us to accept or practice, being Romans.”
22Then the crowd joined in the attack on them. So the chief authorities ripped their clothes off them and commanded them to be beaten with rods.
23After inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to guard them securely.
24Having received this charge, he threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Salvation for a Jailer’s Household
25But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
26Suddenly there was such a great earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. Immediately all the doors were unlocked, and everyone’s chains came loose.
27When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing the prisoners had escaped.
28But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Don’t harm yourself! We’re all here!”
29The jailer called for lights and rushed in; and trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas.
30After he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31They said, “Put your trust in the Lord Yeshua and you will be saved—you and your household!”
32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him, along with everyone in his household.
33He took them that very hour and washed their wounds, and at once he was immersed—he and all his household.
34The jailer brought them to his house and set food before them, and he was overjoyed that he with his entire household had put their trust in God.
35When day came, the chief authorities sent their police officers, saying, “Release those men.”
36But the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The chief authorities have sent orders to release you. So come out now, and go in shalom.”
37But Paul said to the officers, “They have beaten us publicly without a trial—men who are Roman citizens—and have thrown us into prison. And now they are sending us away secretly? No! Let them come themselves and lead us out!”
38The police officers reported these words to the chief authorities. They became afraid when they heard they were Romans,
39so they came and apologized to them. After they escorted them out, they kept begging them to leave the city.
40When Paul and Silas went out of the prison, they visited Lydia’s house. And when they saw the brothers, they encouraged them and then departed.
–from Acts 16

How many lives will you touch? How many lives will be transformed? How many lives will God allow you to enter into? What will you do with the favor and the position you have been given? Will you give them the key? That Jesus is the way to be saved? Will you stand up for your rights? When improperly charged, will you ask for or wait for an apology?

What will you share? How will you shine? How will be salt and light into the world in which you live? How will you instruct them?

Today’s reading concludes in Matthew where Jesus instructs the 12…

Instructions to the Twelve

1Yeshua summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, so they could drive them out and heal every kind of disease and sickness.
2Now these are the names of the twelve emissaries: first, Simon, called Peter, and his brother Andrew; Jacob the son of Zebedee and John his brother;
3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; Jacob, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;
4Simon the Zealot, and Judah the man from Kriot, the one who also betrayed Him.
5Yeshua sent out these twelve and ordered them, “Do not go to the Gentiles, and do not enter into any Samaritan town.
6But go instead to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7As you go, proclaim, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near!’
8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with tza’arat, drive out demons. Freely you received, freely give.
9Do not get gold or silver or copper for your money belts,
10or a bag for the journey, or two shirts, or sandals, or a walking stick; for the worker is entitled to his food.
11“Whatever town or village you shall enter, find out who in it is worthy and stay there until you leave.
12As you come into the house, greet it.
13If the household is worthy, let your shalom come upon it. But if it’s not worthy, let your shalom return to you.
14And whoever will not receive you or listen to your words, as you leave that house or that town, shake the dust off your feet.
15Amen, I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town.
16“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
17But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and flog you in their synagogues.
18You will be brought before governors and kings because of Me, as a witness to them and to the Gentiles.
19But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you should say, for it shall be given to you in that hour what you should say.
20For it is not you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
21“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against their parents and have them put to death.
22And you will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end shall be saved.
23Whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next. Amen, I tell you, you will never finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.
25It is enough for the disciple to become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
26“So do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed and nothing hidden that will not be made known.
27What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear in your ear, proclaim from the housetops!
28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the One who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.
29“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them shall fall to the ground apart from your Father’s consent.
30But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
31So do not fear; you are worth more than many sparrows.
32“Therefore whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father who is in heaven.
33But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
34“Do not think that I came to bring shalom on the earth; I did not come to bring shalom, but a sword.
35For I have come to set ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.’
37“He who loves father or mother more than Me isn’t worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me isn’t worthy of Me.
38And whoever does not take up his cross and follow after Me isn’t worthy of Me.
39He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
40“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives the One who sent Me.
41He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a tzaddik in the name of a tzaddik shall receive a tzaddik’s reward.
42And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, amen I tell you, he shall never lose his reward.”
–from Matthew 10

Live to leave a legacy

Who has got your back?

Ever been in a situation where it got tough? Ever been in a situation where it got ugly? Ever been in a situation where you were the victim? Ever been in a situation where you were part of the group who learned about it?

What happened? What was the response? Did anyone do anything? Where did you turn? What did you do?

Would you be willing to turn to God for wisdom? Would you allow Him to direct your steps? Not every situation deserves the same response or reaction!

So who has got your back? Will you let God have your back? Will you be obedient to what He prompts you to do? To respond? To react? To say? Don’t try to do it your own way! Do it God’s way! Some may respond in ways outside of God’s will! Some may go beyond what is reasonable! Some may make things worst.

The power of forgiveness will be the key to getting out the other side. Without forgiveness, you end up in a place where you are taking the poison and expecting it to impact the other person. So consider the response! Consider what needs to be done! But so that you don’t drive yourself crazy, make sure that forgiveness comes into the picture. (Remember: Forgiving others takes away their power over you and that as you forgive others, God will forgive you!)

Today’s reading raised all these questions to mind. Today’s reading is more severe than what I would hope most people would ever have to be exposed to. Let’s check it out…

Dinah Defiled by Shechem

1Now Dinah, Leah’s daughter whom she bore for Jacob, went out to look at the daughters of the land.
2When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her and raped her.
3But his soul clung to Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, and he loved the young woman and spoke reassuringly to the young woman.
4So Shechem said to his father Hamor saying, “Get me this girl for a wife.”
5Now Jacob had heard that he had defiled his daughter Dinah while his sons were with his livestock in the field, so Jacob kept quiet until they came in.
6Meanwhile Shechem’s father Hamor went out to Jacob in order to speak with him.
7Jacob’s sons had already come in from the field when they heard, and the men were deeply grieved and furious, because he had committed a vile deed in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, which ought never to be done.
8But Hamor spoke with them saying, “My son Shechem—he’s very attached to your daughter. Please give her to him for a wife.
9Intermarry with us. You can give your daughters to us, and you can take our daughters for yourselves.
10You can live with us, and the land will be open to you: live in it, move about freely in it, and settle down in it.”
11Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “Would that I find favor in your eyes! Whatever you say to me I’ll give.
12Set the dowry and the presents as high as you like and I’ll give whatever you say to me. But give me the young woman as a wife.”
13But Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully as they spoke, because he had defiled their sister Dinah.
14They said to them, “We can’t do this thing—give our sister to a man who is uncircumcised—for this is a disgrace to us.
15Only by this will we consent to you: if you will become like us, by circumcising every male.
16Then we’ll give you our daughters and take your daughters for ourselves, and live with you, and become one people.
17But if you don’t listen to us and be circumcised, we’ll take our daughter and leave.”
18Now their words seemed good to Hamor as well as Hamor’s son Shechem.
19So the young man did not hesitate to do it, since he delighted in Jacob’s daughter. Now he was honored above everyone else in his father’s house.
20So Hamor and his son Shechem came into the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying:
21“These men are enjoying a peaceful relationship with us and they are living in the land and moving about freely in it. As for the land, look, it’s spread out on both sides before us. We can take their daughters to be our wives, and we can give our daughters to them.
22But by this did these men consent to us, to live with us and to become one people—when all our males are circumcised as they are circumcised.
23Their livestock and their possessions: won’t they be ours? Only let us consent to them so that they’ll live with us.”
24Now everyone who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and to his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, every one who went out the gate of his city.
25Then on the third day while they were in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came against the city undisturbed and killed every male.
26Hamor and his son Shechem they killed with the sword, then took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left.
27Jacob’s sons came upon the slain and plundered the city because they defiled their sister.
28They took their flocks, their cattle and their donkeys, those that were in the city as well as those that were in the field.
29All their wealth, their little children, and their wives they captured and plundered, as well as everything that was in the houses.
30But Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You’ve brought trouble on me, making me a stench among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites. I am but a few men—they’ll gather against me and strike me—then I’ll be destroyed, my household and I.”
31But they said, “Should he treat our sister like a prostitute?”
–from Genesis 34

Jacob learns about it and is concerned. The brothers wanted to stand up for their sister and protect her.

If and when we respond, will it be out of obedience to God? will it be out of fear of others? or will it be out of an emotional reaction or response?

Remember whose got your back! Why not make sure you are all on the same page? Why not get the group, the friends, the family, the team together and make sure you are all on the same page.

Consider how God called Jacob to that and how they all came together…

Rededication at Beth-El

1Then God said to Jacob, “Get up! Go up to Beth-El and stay there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”
2So Jacob said to his household and to everyone who was with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods that are among you. Cleanse yourselves and change your clothes.
3Now let’s get up and go up to Beth-El so that I can make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and has been with me in the way that I have gone.”
4So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods in their hand and the rings in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the oak tree near Shechem.
5Then they journeyed, and the terror of God was on the cities that were around them, so they did not pursue Jacob’s sons.
6Then Jacob arrived at Luz in the land of Canaan (that is Beth-El), he and all the people who were with him.
7He built an altar there and called the place El-Beth-El because God had revealed Himself to him there when he fled from the presence of his brother.
8Then Rebekah’s nurse Deborah died, and was buried below Beth-El, under the oak—so it was named Oak of Weeping.
9God appeared to Jacob again, after he returned from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him.
10God said to him: “Your name was Jacob. No longer will your name be Jacob, for your name will be Israel.” So He named him Israel.
11God also said to him: “I am El Shaddai. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation and an assembly of nations will come from you. From your loins will come forth kings.
12The land that I gave to Abraham and to Isaac— I give it to you, and to your seed after you I will give the land.”
13Then God went up from him at the place where He had spoken with him.
14Jacob set up a memorial stone in the place where He had spoken with him—a stone pillar—and he poured a drink offering on it and poured oil on it.
15Jacob named the place where God spoke with him Beth-El.

Rachel’s Death in Childbirth

16Then they traveled from Beth-El, and while they were still a distance from entering Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth, but her labor was difficult.
17While she was struggling to give birth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for this is also a son for you.”
18Now as her soul was departing (for she died), she named him Ben-Oni, but his father named him Benjamin.
19Then Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).
20Jacob set up a memorial stone over her grave. (It is the memorial stone over Rachel’s grave to this day.)

Israel Returns to Isaac

21Then Israel journeyed on and set up his tent beyond the tower of Eder.
22While Israel was living in that land, Reuben went and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard about it. Now Jacob had twelve sons.
23Leah’s sons were Jacob’s firstborn Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.
24Rachel’s sons were Joseph and Benjamin.
25The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s female servant, were Dan and Naphtali,
26and the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s female servant, were Gad and Asher. These are Jacob’s sons, who were born to him in Paddan-aram.
27Then Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre of Kiriat-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed.
28Now Isaac’s days were 180 years.
29Then Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his peoples, old and full of days. So his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
–from Genesis 35

You are better than that. You can’t live in the past with what others have said, but rather you need to live in the present as God is calling you! When you come to Him and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you become a new creation, the old is gone and the new is come. When you are transformed from who you were to who God is calling you to be.

The old way had a reason. The old way had a purpose. The old way had a season. The new way is better. Jesus’ way is better! It moves from a physical thing to a matter of the heart!

Consider what we read in today’s reading from Acts…

Jerusalem Council Rules on Circumcision

1Now some men coming down from Judea were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
2When Paul and Barnabas had a big argument and debate with them, the brothers appointed Paul and Barnabas with some others from among them to go up to Jerusalem to the emissaries and elders about this issue.
3So they were sent on their way by the Antioch community. They were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and they were bringing great joy to all the brothers and sisters.
4When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the community and the emissaries and the elders. They reported all that God had done in helping them.
5But some belonging to the party of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the Torah of Moses.”
6The emissaries and elders were gathered together to examine this issue.
7After much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God chose from among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the message of the Good News and believe.
8And God, who knows the heart, testified to them by giving them the Ruach ha-Kodesh—just as He also did for us.
9He made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts through faith.
10Why then do you put God to the test by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples—which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?
11But instead, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the LordYeshua, in the same way as they are.”
12Then the whole group became silent and were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were describing in detail all the signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.
13After they finished speaking, Jacob answered, “Brothers, listen to me.
14Simon has described how God first showed His concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for His Name.
15The words of the Prophets agree, as it is written:
16‘After this I will return and rebuild the fallen tabernacle of David. I will rebuild its ruins and I will restore it,
17so that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord— namely all the Gentiles who are called by My name— says Adonai, who makes these things
18known from of old.’
19Therefore, I judge not to trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God—
20but to write to them to abstain from the contamination of idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what is strangled, and from blood.
21For Moses from ancient generations has had in every city those who proclaim him, since he is read in all the synagogues every Shabbat.”

Letter to Diaspora Communities

22Then it seemed good to the emissaries and elders, with the whole community, to choose men from among themselves to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judah (also called Barsabbas) and Silas, leading men among the brethren,
23and this letter along with them: “The emissaries and the elders, your brothers, To the Gentile brothers of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings!
24Since we have heard that some from among us have troubled you with words disturbing to your souls, although we gave them no such authorization,
25it seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul—
26men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
27We therefore have sent to you Judah and Silas, who themselves will report to you the same things by word of mouth.
28It seemed good to the Ruach ha-Kodesh and to us not to place on you any greater burden than these essentials:
29that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. By keeping away from these things, you will do well. Shalom!”
30So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch; and when they had gathered the whole group together, they delivered the letter.
31The people read it and rejoiced over its encouragement.
32Judah and Silas, prophets themselves, encouraged the brothers and sisters with a long message and strengthened them.
33After spending some time there, they were sent off with shalom by the brothers and sisters to those who had sent them.
35But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and proclaiming the word of the Lord with many others.

New Teams Strengthen Communities

36After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s return and visit the brothers and sisters in every city where we have proclaimed the word of the Lord, to see how they are.”
37Barnabas was planning to take along John, called Mark.
38But Paul was insisting that they shouldn’t take him along—the one who had deserted them in Pamphylia, not accompanying them in the work.
39A sharp disagreement took place, so that they split off from one another. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.
40But Paul selected Silas and went out, being entrusted by the brothers and sisters to the gracious care of the Lord.
41He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the communities.
–from Acts 15

Do you realize the power of forgiveness? Do you realize similarity between the words pardon and forgive? As a noun “the action of forgiving or being forgiven for an error or offense”. As a verb “forgive or excuse (a person, error, or offense)”. Do you realize the power Jesus was given when he was a mad and had as the son of God and has today? Do realize the power that was provided when He gave Himself as the ultimate sacrifice on the cross for eternity? Nothing was held back from Jesus! He wasn’t just able to heal the physical, but He was able to break chains in the supernatural as well. He heals more than just the physical, He heals the spiritual side of us too. He is the ultimate physician so that we are able to bring to Him all of our needs! Let’s see what we learn as today’s reading closes in Matthew…

Authority to Pardon Sins

1After getting into a boat, Yeshua crossed over and came to His own town.
2Just then, some people brought to Him a paralyzed man lying on a cot. And seeing their faith, Yeshua said to the paralyzed man, “Take courage, son! Your sins are forgiven.”
3Then some of the Torah scholars said among themselves, “This fellow blasphemes!”
4And knowing their thoughts, Yeshua said, “Why are you entertaining evil in your hearts?
5For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?
6But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to pardon sins…” Then He tells the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your cot and go home.”
7And he got up and went home.
8When the crowd saw it, they were afraid and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

A Physician for Sinners

9As Yeshua was passing by from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he got up and followed Him.
10Now it happened that when Yeshua was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Yeshuaand His disciples.
11When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why does this Teacher of yours eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12But when He heard this, Yeshua said, “Those who are healthy have no need for a doctor, but those who are sick do.
13Now go and learn what this means: ‘Mercy I desire, and not sacrifice.’ For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but the sinful.”

Teaching New Ways

14Then John’s disciples came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”
15And Yeshua said to them, “The guests of the bridegroom cannot mourn while the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
16“And no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch pulls away from the garment and a worse tear happens.
17Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, and the wine spills out and the skins are ruined. But they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Compassion in the Shepherd’s Touch

18Just as He was saying these things to them, a synagogue leader came and began to bow before Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come lay Your hand on her and she will live.”
19And Yeshua got up and began to follow him, with His disciples.
20Just then a woman, losing blood for twelve years, came from behind and touched the tzitzit of His garment.
21For she kept saying to herself, “If only I touch His garment, I will be healed.”
22But then Yeshua turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” He said, “your faith has made you well.” That very hour the woman was healed.
23When Yeshua came into the synagogue leader’s house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing,
24He said, “Go away, for the girl isn’t dead, but sleeping.” And they began jeering at Him.
25But when the crowd had been cleared out, He went in and took her hand, and the girl got up.
26And news of this spread all around that region.
27As Yeshua went on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out, “Ben-David, have mercy on us!”
28When He went into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Yeshuasaid to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Master,” they said to Him.
29Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith, let it be done for you.”
30And their eyes were opened. And Yeshua warned them sternly, “See that no one knows.”
31But they went out and spread the news about Him all around that region.
32As they were going out, a mute man plagued by a demon was brought to Him.
33After the demon was driven out, the mute man started speaking. The crowds were astounded, saying, “Never has anything like this been seen in Israel!”
34But the Pharisees were saying, “By the prince of demons He drives out demons.”
35Now Yeshua was going around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and sickness.
36When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
37Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
38Therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest that He may send out workers into His harvest field.”

So, let’s join forces with Jesus! Let’s let Him have our back! Let’s live life a different way!

Let’s do it His Way!








Ever had words come out of your mouth and wonder where did that come from or what did that mean?

Someone ask you a question and the answer coming out of your mouth feel like it is on autopilot? Ever tried to figure out what it means or where it is going? I know it happened to me when I was given two opportunities and then asked the question, “what do you think?” All of a sudden I started telling the story of my time on the board of a home owners association where I had the opportunity to be secretary and then vice president and then president. The entire time I am thinking to myself, why am I telling this story and where is it going? Towards the end I realize God was tell me to go with one of the options as it was important to know and understand the two areas (as I had spent nearly 10 years in one of them) before considering stepping up into the role over both areas. God can use our own words to speak to us and to those around as they help direct our path. It’s amazing what He is able to do in and through us if we choose to be willing vessels of God.

We see something similar take place as today’s reading begins…

The Plot against Jesus

(Matthew 26.1-5; Mark 14.1, 2; Luke 22.1, 2)

45Many of the people who had come to visit Mary saw what Jesus did, and they believed in him. 46But some of them returned to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47So the Pharisees and the chief priests met with the Council and said, “What shall we do? Look at all the miracles this man is performing! 48If we let him go on in this way, everyone will believe in him, and the Roman authorities will take action and destroy our Temple and our nation!” 49One of them, named Caiaphas, who was High Priest that year, said, “What fools you are! 50Don’t you realize that it is better for you to have one man die for the people, instead of having the whole nation destroyed?” 51Actually, he did not say this of his own accord; rather, as he was High Priest that year, he was prophesying that Jesus was going to die for the Jewish people, 52and not only for them, but also to bring together into one body all the scattered people of God. 53From that day on the Jewish authorities made plans to kill Jesus. 54So Jesus did not travel openly in Judea, but left and went to a place near the desert, to a town named Ephraim, where he stayed with the disciples. 55The time for the Passover Festival was near, and many people went up from the country to Jerusalem to perform the ritual of purification before the festival. 56They were looking for Jesus, and as they gathered in the Temple, they asked one another, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?” 57The chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where Jesus was, he must report it, so that they could arrest him.

–from John 11

So what do you believe? What will you believe? There is so much noise out there! There is so much that people put out there as truth! But what can you depend on? What can you really believe in? What can you stand firmly on without it just crumbling under your feet?

The True Spirit and the False Spirit

1My dear friends, do not believe all who claim to have the Spirit, but test them to find out if the spirit they have comes from God. For many false prophets have gone out everywhere. 2This is how you will be able to know whether it is God’s Spirit: anyone who acknowledges that Jesus Christ came as a human being has the Spirit who comes from God. 3But anyone who denies this about Jesus does not have the Spirit from God. The spirit that he has is from the Enemy of Christ; you heard that it would come, and now it is here in the world already. 4But you belong to God, my children, and have defeated the false prophets, because the Spirit who is in you is more powerful than the spirit in those who belong to the world. 5Those false prophets speak about matters of the world, and the world listens to them because they belong to the world. 6But we belong to God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever does not belong to God does not listen to us. This, then, is how we can tell the difference between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

–from 1 John 4

There is such thing as truth! Everything isn’t just shades of grey! So will you get to see the world as it is supposed to be? Will you live life as you are supposed to do? Will you live a live that raises the average rather than just living average lives and allow the average to drop? We each have choices in deciding how we will live and what we will do!

17Now listen, Job, to what I know. 18Those who are wise have taught me truths which they learned from their ancestors, and they kept no secrets hidden. 19Their land was free from foreigners; there was no one to lead them away from God. 20The wicked who oppress others will be in torment as long as they live. 21Voices of terror will scream in their ears, and robbers attack when they think they are safe. 22They have no hope of escaping from darkness, for somewhere a sword is waiting to kill them, 23and vultures are waiting to eat their corpses. They know their future is dark; 24disaster, like a powerful king, is waiting to attack them. 25That is the fate of those who shake their fists at God and defy the Almighty. 26-27They are proud and rebellious; they stubbornly hold up their shields and rush to fight against God. 28They are the ones who captured cities and seized houses whose owners had fled, but war will destroy those cities and houses. 29They will not remain rich for long; nothing they own will last. Even their shadows will vanish, 30and they will not escape from darkness. They will be like trees whose branches are burned by fire, whose blossoms are blown away by the wind. 31If they are foolish enough to trust in evil, then evil will be their reward. 32Before their time is up they will wither, wither like a branch and never be green again. 33They will be like vines that lose their unripe grapes; like olive trees that drop their blossoms. 34There will be no descendants for godless people, and fire will destroy the homes built by bribery. 35These are the ones who plan trouble and do evil; their hearts are always full of deceit.

–from Job 15