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

Are you checking status before running into something?


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


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

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

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

Joshua 7

Today’s reading then brings us into Isaiah:

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

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

Isaiah 42

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

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

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

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

Matthew 26:1-16

Today’s reading then brings us into Philippians:

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

Philippians 2:12-18

Today’s reading concludes with a Psalm:

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

Psalms 3

What kind of encouragement are you looking for?


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


Today’s reading gets us started in Joshua:

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

Joshua 2

Today’s reading then continues into Isaiah:

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

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

Isaiah 38

and

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

Isaiah 39

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

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

Matthew 25:1-13

Today’s reading then brings us into Philippians:

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

Philippians 1:1-11

Today’s reading concludes with the final Psalm:

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

Psalms 150

New beginnings. New challenges.


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

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


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

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

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

Joshua 1

Today’s reading then continues with Isaiah:

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

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

Isaiah 37

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

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

Matthew 24:32-51

Today’s reading continues into Ephesians:

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

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

Ephesians 6:10-24

Today’s reading comes to a conclusion with Psalms:

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

Psalms 149

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:

TribeLeaderNumber
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:

TribeLeaderNumber
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:

TribeLeaderNumber
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:

TribeLeaderNumber
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.

Footnotes:

  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

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


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


Today’s reading begins in Leviticus 1.

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

Leviticus 1

Today’s reading continues into Leviticus 2.

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

Leviticus 2

Today’s reading continues into Job 35.

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

Job 35

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

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

Mark 7:1-13

Today’s continues into 1 Corinthians 14.

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

1 Corinthians 14:1-12

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

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

Psalms 70

CROP ROTATION…(The Bible’s Impact on Scientific Discovery [July 6])


Do you realize how far back some of the ideas that are in play today go? Do you realize in business or in agriculture or in most areas of life there is an original source? Know that saying… how far back does it go? Does it have another saying it came from that goes even further back? We all have a choice! We can build up or tear down! We can receive or reject! We can help or hinder! We all have free will and depending on how we respond will impact not only our lives but the lives of the people around us. Are you being light? Are you being salt and spicing things up? Are you being love? To some you may be the only Bible they read. To others you may be the only church they will hear from. So will you allow God to work in and through you? Will you be a part of the process where we find it goes back to God’s instruction?

Today’s reading comes to us from Leviticus 25 where we learn about crops…

The Sabbath Year

1The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, 2″Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the Lord. 3For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, 4but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. 6The Sabbath of the land shall provide food for you, for yourself and for your male and female slaves and for your hired worker and the sojourner who lives with you, 7and for your cattle and for the wild animals that are in your land: all its yield shall be for food.

The Year of Jubilee

8″You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years. 9Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. 10And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. 11That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. 12For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you. You may eat the produce of the field.
13″In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property. 14And if you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not wrong one another. 15You shall pay your neighbor according to the number of years after the jubilee, and he shall sell to you according to the number of years for crops. 16If the years are many, you shall increase the price, and if the years are few, you shall reduce the price, for it is the number of the crops that he is selling to you. 17You shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God, for I am the Lord your God.
18″Therefore you shall do my statutes and keep my rules and perform them, and then you will dwell in the land securely. 19The land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and dwell in it securely. 20And if you say, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we may not sow or gather in our crop?’ 21I will command my blessing on you in the sixth year, so that it will produce a crop sufficient for three years. 22When you sow in the eighth year, you will be eating some of the old crop; you shall eat the old until the ninth year, when its crop arrives.

Redemption of Property

23″The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me. 24And in all the country you possess, you shall allow a redemption of the land.
25″If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest redeemer shall come and redeem what his brother has sold. 26If a man has no one to redeem it and then himself becomes prosperous and finds sufficient means to redeem it, 27let him calculate the years since he sold it and pay back the balance to the man to whom he sold it, and then return to his property. 28But if he does not have sufficient means to recover it, then what he sold shall remain in the hand of the buyer until the year of jubilee. In the jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his property.
29″If a man sells a dwelling house in a walled city, he may redeem it within a year of its sale. For a full year he shall have the right of redemption. 30If it is not redeemed within a full year, then the house in the walled city shall belong in perpetuity to the buyer, throughout his generations; it shall not be released in the jubilee. 31But the houses of the villages that have no wall around them shall be classified with the fields of the land. They may be redeemed, and they shall be released in the jubilee. 32As for the cities of the Levites, the Levites may redeem at any time the houses in the cities they possess. 33And if one of the Levites exercises his right of redemption, then the house that was sold in a city they possess shall be released in the jubilee. For the houses in the cities of the Levites are their possession among the people of Israel. 34But the fields of pastureland belonging to their cities may not be sold, for that is their possession forever.

Kindness for Poor Brothers

35″If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. 36Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. 37You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. 38I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.
39″If your brother becomes poor beside you and sells himself to you, you shall not make him serve as a slave: 40he shall be with you as a hired worker and as a sojourner. He shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee. 41Then he shall go out from you, he and his children with him, and go back to his own clan and return to the possession of his fathers. 42For they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves. 43You shall not rule over him ruthlessly but shall fear your God. 44As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. 45You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. 46You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.

Redeeming a Poor Man

47″If a stranger or sojourner with you becomes rich, and your brother beside him becomes poor and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner with you or to a member of the stranger’s clan, 48then after he is sold he may be redeemed. One of his brothers may redeem him, 49or his uncle or his cousin may redeem him, or a close relative from his clan may redeem him. Or if he grows rich he may redeem himself. 50He shall calculate with his buyer from the year when he sold himself to him until the year of jubilee, and the price of his sale shall vary with the number of years. The time he was with his owner shall be rated as the time of a hired worker. 51If there are still many years left, he shall pay proportionately for his redemption some of his sale price. 52If there remain but a few years until the year of jubilee, he shall calculate and pay for his redemption in proportion to his years of service. 53He shall treat him as a worker hired year by year. He shall not rule ruthlessly over him in your sight. 54And if he is not redeemed by these means, then he and his children with him shall be released in the year of jubilee. 55For it is to me that the people of Israel are servants. They are my servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

–from Leviticus 25

Today’s devotional from The Global Impact Bible on the theme of the Bible’s impact on scientific discovery with the topic of Crop Rotation. We learn in today’s reading how the idea comes from Leviticus 25. The Bible has practical instructions for us to live life. It explains farming to us and how to follow the process of crop rotation. We also learn that the theory of crop rotation is a way of extending the Sabbath rest to the land giving it time to have nutrients and minerals restored. We learn also how this practice is in use today in both traditional and organic farming yielding increasing crops. God’s plan is good and to give us a hope and a future and as we read in today’s devotional and reading it also helps in the longevity of the fields through crop rotations.

So how is your life being impacted by the Word of God through the Bible? How are you passing along the Bible into the lives of the people around you? How are you practicing the practical lessons being provided through God and reinforced through the Holy Spirit? Let’s pray…

Prayer of Salvation Example

For those who prayed this for the first time or as a recommitment to God, I celebrate with the angels in heaven that you made the greatest decision of your life. Will you leave a comment so that I know and pray for you? Will you leave a comment or question so we can have a conversation? Look for a local church that is a Bible believing, Bible preaching church that will be able to come alongside you and help you in this journey called life.


Heavenly Father,
This has been an interesting week. Just when I got back it concludes. Help me Lord to make the most of today so that in and through it all You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory. Grant me wisdom and opportunity to shine Your light into the world around me. Help me Lord to have eyes to see so that You Lord can be lifted up and exalted. Help me Lord to see the things I need to take care of today and which I can leave for next week. Help me Lord to make Your priorities my priorities so that I can complete the work You have for me to do. Grant me wisdom and purpose today so that I can complete the work and be a good steward of all that You are giving me so that in and through it all You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

 

Rock of Ages…(The Bible’s Impact on Music [May 2])


What will it take for you to make the move? What will it take for you to step out? What will it take for you to start moving? What will it take for you to start the process? What are you needing? What are you waiting for?

Today’s reading comes from Exodus 33 and speaks of the command to leave and how Moses won’t leave unless God goes with Him. We need to lean on God! We need to trust in God! We need to grab hold of the truth of His Word that tells us that He will never leave us nor abandon us! We need to grab hold of the truth that He goes before us, preparing in advance the good works He has for us to accomplish! We need to walk in the confidence that not only is He leading us from in front but that He is also protecting us from behind! So will you Go when He says to go? Will you stay when He says to stay? Will you wait when He says to wait? Will you act when He says to act? Will you speak when He says to speak? Obedience is more valuable than sacrifice and offerings! Will you trust and obey God’s direction when prompted by the Holy Spirit? Lean not on your own understanding but instead put your trust in God!

The Command to Leave Sinai

1The Lord said to Moses, “Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it.’ 2I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 3Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”
4When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. 5For the Lord had said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.'” 6Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.

The Tent of Meeting

7Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. 8Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. 9When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. 10And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. 11Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.

Moses’ Intercession

12Moses said to the Lord, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ 13Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” 14And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
17And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”
–from Exodus 33
Today’s devotional from The Global Impact Bible on the subject of the impact of the Bible on music points us to the hymn “Rock of Ages“.

We see how this song comes from today’s reading Exodus 33:22. Based on the story of of Moses being shielded from the full force of God’s presence in the cleft of the rock. It’s a song that had influence on royalty to the point of being played for Prince Albert, husband to Queen Victoria while he was on his deathbed in 1861. This song was also played at the funeral for William Gladstone in 1898 the prime minister of Britain at the time.


 

 Heavenly Father,
I will not resist Your Word nor Your commands. I will lean on You with all my hope and trust. Help me today Lord to go beyond hoping and believing to acting and speaking of Your great love and power in and thru and over my life. Help me Lord with wisdom and discernment as to what to do. Lord as Moses said “if You don’t come with me I will not go“. Lord, where You go I will go! Lord, where You stay, I will stay! Give me eyes to see and ears to hear! Grant me a personal fire to lead me through the dark times. Grant me a personal cloud to follow during the day times. So that I won’t miss out on all the plans and purposes You have for me. Not my will but Your will. Not my ways but Your ways. For Your ways are higher than my ways and Your thoughts and plans are better than my thoughts and plans. So Lord, I lean into You and put all my trust in You. I will allow the door to be knocked on and will answer, but only will go out or invite them in based on Your wisdom through Your Holy Spirit. Help me Lord to live my life in a way that will bring You praise, honor, and glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

What are you investing in?


Are you investing in something that will last? Are you investing in something that is trustworthy? Are you investing in something that has a good return? Are your investments a sign of good stewardship? Are your investments into things that will last? Are you investments into the right areas?

Investments…what does that mean to you? Time? Money? Effort? People? Property? Stocks? Stuff?

where-will-you-invest-and-spend-effort-time-money

Are you investing in things that will last forever? An example of such an investment is to invest in people – eternal souls. Are you investing in things that will glorify God? An example of such an investment is to be salt and light to the world around you. Another example is to walk in love. Another example is to be sharing the fruits of the spirit. Are you investing in things that will make a difference? Are you building a legacy?

How are you investing your time, energy, and money? 


Today’s reading brings us into Isaiah again which triggered the above questions…ponder them as you read through today’s reading and see what God has to say to you…

No Profit in Casting Idols

1“But now listen, Jacob My servant, Israel, whom I have chosen.” 2Thus says Adonai who made you, and formed you from the womb, who will help you: “Do not fear, Jacob My servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. 3For I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground. I will pour My Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants. 4They will spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams. 5This one will say, ‘I am Adonai’s.’ That one will be called by the name Jacob. Another will write on his hand, ‘Adonai’s’ and will take the name Israel.”

First and Last

6Thus says Adonai, Israel’s King and his Redeemer, Adonai-Tzva’ot: “I am the first, and the last, and there is no God beside Me. 7Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and announce it! Let him arrange it in order for Me— as I established the ancient nation. Let them declare to them what is coming and future events. 8Do not dread or be afraid. Have I not told you and declared it long ago? So you are My witnesses! Is there any God beside Me? Is there any other Rock? I know of none.

Folly of Idols

9Those who fashion idols are empty. Their precious things do not profit. Their witnesses do not see or know, so they will be put to shame. 10Who fashions a god or casts an idol for no profit? 11Behold, all his friends will be ashamed, for the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble. Let them stand up. Let them dread. Let them be put to shame together. 12The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it over the coals, fashioning it with hammers and working it with his strong arm. Yet when he is hungry, his strength fails. When he drinks no water, he gets tired. 13A carpenter stretches out a line; he marks it with a pencil; he shapes it with planes; he marks it with a compass; he shapes it like the figure of a man —like the beauty of a man— so that it may sit in a shrine. 14He chops down cedars for himself, or he takes a cypress or an oak. He lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a pine and rain nourishes it. 15Then it is something for a man to burn. so he takes one of them and warms himself. He also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a god and worships it. He makes an idol and bows before it. 16He burns half of it in the fire. With this half, he eats meat. He roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” 17Yet with the rest he makes a god, his carved image. He falls down before it and worships. He even prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” 18They do not know or understand! For He smeared over their eyes, so they cannot see, and their hearts, so they cannot understand. 19No one reflects in his heart, with no knowledge or discernment to say, “I burned half of it in the fire and I also baked bread on its coals. I roasted meat and ate—and then I make the rest of it an abomination? Should I bow before a block of wood?” 20He is feeding on ashes. A deceived heart has led him astray, so he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, “Isn’t what is in my right hand a fraud?” 21Remember these things, Jacob, and Israel, for you are My servant. I formed you, you are My servant. Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me! 22I have blotted out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” 23Sing, O heavens, for Adonai has done it! Shout, depths of the earth! Break forth into singing, mountains, forest, and every tree in it! For Adonai has redeemed Jacob and will be glorified through Israel. 24Thus says Adonai, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am Adonai, Maker of all things, stretching out the heavens alone, spreading the earth abroad by Myself, 25causing the omens of boasters to fail, making fools of diviners, turning wise men backward and making their knowledge foolish, 26while confirming the word of His servant, fulfilling the counsel of His messengers, saying of Jerusalem, “She will be lived in” and of the cities of Judah, “They will be built, and I will raise up their ruins,” 27while saying to the deep, “Be dry, I will dry up your rivers,” 28while saying of Cyrus, “He is My shepherd, and he shall fulfill all My purpose” while saying to Jerusalem, “You will be built” and to the Temple, “Your foundation will be laid.”

–from Isaiah 44

God knows your name! God knows your every thought! God sees each tear that falls! God hears you when you call! God created you on purpose with purpose for a purpose! So let’s be good stewards of all we have – time, money, effort. Let’s use it to glorify God and point others to Him! Let’s be Jesus with skin on to those who have yet to meet Jesus! Let’s allow the Spirit to work in and thru us for to glory of God! Let’s be strengthen by the Lord to do the work He has prepared in advance for us to do! Let’s keep our eyes on God and the work He has for us to do today! How will we invest our time? Will it make a difference to the people around us? Will their lives be impacted because we are there?

Cyrus the Anointed

1Thus says Adonai to His anointed, Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him, to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him so that gates may not be shut. 2I will go before you and make crooked places straight. I will shatter bronze doors and cut through iron bars. 3I will give you treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, so you may know that I am Adonai, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name. 4For the sake of Jacob My servant, and Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by name, I have given you a title of honor, though you have not known Me. 5I am Adonai—there is no other. Besides Me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not known Me, 6so they may know, from the rising to the setting of the sun, that there is no one besides Me. I am Adonai—there is no other. 7I form light and create darkness. I make shalom and create calamity. I, Adonai, do all these things. 8“Rain down, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds pour down justice. Let the earth open up, let salvation sprout, and righteousness spring up with it. I, Adonai, have created it.” 9Oy , to one who quarrels with his Maker, like a pot among the pots of the earth! Shall the clay say to the potter, “What have you made?” Or does your work say, “It has no handles”? 10Oy , to him who says to his father, “What have you begotten?” Or to a woman, “What have you born?” 11Thus says Adonai, the Holy One of Israel and its Maker, “Ask Me about the things to come upon My children. Then you will commit to Me the work of My hands. 12I made the earth and created man on it. My hands stretched out the heavens and I commanded all their host. 13“I stirred Cyrus up in righteousness and I will level all his roads. He will build My city and set My exiles free, with no price or bribe,” says Adonai-Tzva’ot. 14Thus says Adonai: “Egypt’s toil, Ethiopia’s merchandise, and the tall Sabeans will come over to you and be yours. They will walk behind you in chains. They will bow down to you, and pray, saying, ‘Surely God is with you!’ There is none else— no other God!”

Mystery of Creation

15Truly You are a God who hides Himself, O God of Israel, Savior! 16All of them will be ashamed, disgraced— idol-makers go in dishonor together. 17Israel has been saved by Adonai with an everlasting salvation. You will not be put to shame or disgraced, for ever and ever. 18For thus says Adonai— He is God who fashioned the heavens, who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it desolate but formed it to be inhabited— “I am Adonai—there is no other!” 19“I have not spoken in secret, in a place of a land of darkness. I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in desolation.’ I, Adonai, speak righteousness, declaring uprightly.”

No Other God and Savior

20“Assemble yourselves and come, draw near together, fugitives of the nations! Those who carry their wooden idols have no knowledge, praying to a god who cannot save. 21Declare and present your case, Indeed, let them consult together. Who foretold this from ancient time? Who has declared it of old? Is it not I, Adonai? There is no other God beside Me —a righteous God and a Savior— there is none besides Me! 22Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God—there is no other. 23By Myself I have sworn— the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness, and is irrevocable: that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear. 24They will say of Me, ‘Only in Adonai is righteousness and strength.’ All who have raged against Him will come to Him and be put to shame. 25In Adonai all the seed of Israel will be justified and give praise.”

–from Isaiah 45

Ask the Spirit to fill you up. Ask the Spirit to give you divine appointments today. Ask the Spirit to give you words of encouragement, words of instruction, words of direction so that you can invest into everyone God brings across your path today. Ask the Spirit to give you eyes to see beyond the surface. Ask the Spirit to give you ears to be sensitive to what is really going on so that you can hear it. Ask the Spirit to help you be bold and courageous to not only hear what is being said, but to be able to speak the words He gives you to speak as He did with Peter.

The Ruach Fills the Disciples

1When the day of Shavuot had come, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3And tongues like fire spreading out appeared to them and settled on each one of them. 4They were all filled with the Ruach ha-Kodesh and began to speak in other tongues as the Ruach enabled them to speak out. 5Now Jewish people were staying in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And when this sound came, the crowd gathered. They were bewildered, because each was hearing them speaking in his own language. 7And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “All these who are speaking—aren’t they Galileans? 8How is it that we each hear our own birth language? 9Parthians and Medes and Elamites and those living in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and parts of Libya toward Cyrene, and visitors from Rome 11(both Jewish people and proselytes), Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring in our own tongues the mighty deeds of God!” 12And they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to each other, “What does this mean?” 13Others, poking fun, were saying, “They are full of sweet new wine!”

Peter Speaks to the Shavuot Crowd

14But Peter, standing with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: “Fellow Judeans and all who are staying in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and pay attention to my words. 15These men are not drunk, as you suppose—for it’s only the third hour of the day! 16But this is what was spoken about through the prophet Joel: 17‘And it shall be in the last days,’ says God, ‘that I will pour out My Ruach on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18Even on My slaves, male and female, I will pour out My Ruach in those days, and they shall prophesy. 19And I will give wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth beneath— blood, and fire, and smoky vapor. 20The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and glorious Day of Adonai comes. 21And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of Adonai shall be saved.’ 22“Men of Israel, hear these words! Yeshua ha-Natzrati—a Man authenticated to you by God with mighty deeds and wonders and signs God performed through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23this Yeshua, given over by God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge, nailed to the cross by the hand of lawless men, you killed. 24But God raised Him up, releasing Him from the pains of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held by it. 25For David says about Him, ‘I saw Adonai always before me, for He is at my right hand so that I might not be shaken. 26Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced; moreover, my body also will live in hope, 27because You will not abandon my soul to Sheol or let Your Holy One see decay. 28You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence.’ 29“Brothers, I can confidently tell you that the patriarch David died and was buried—his tomb is with us to this day. 30So because he was a prophet and knew God had sworn with an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne, 31David saw beforehand and spoke of Messiah’s resurrection—that He was not abandoned to Sheol, and His body did not see decay. 32“This Yeshua God raised up—we all are witnesses! 33Therefore, being exalted to the right hand of God and receiving from the Father the promise of the Ruach ha-Kodesh, He poured out this—what you now see and hear. 34For David did not ascend into the heavens; yet he himself says, ‘Adonai said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”’ 36“Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him—this Yeshua whom you had crucified—both Lord and Messiah!”

Teshuvah—Thousands Immersed

37Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the emissaries, “Fellow brethren, what shall we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be immersed in the name of Messiah Yeshua for the removal of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach ha-Kodesh. 39For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far away—as many as Adonai our God calls to Himself.” 40With many other words he warned them and kept urging them, saying, “Save yourselves from this twisted generation!” 41So those who received his message were immersed, and that day about three thousand souls were added.

New Covenant Community Begins

42They were devoting themselves to the teaching of the emissaries and to fellowship, to breaking bread and to prayers. 43Fear lay upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were happening through the emissaries. 44And all who believed were together, having everything in common. 45They began selling their property and possessions and sharing them with all, as any had need. 46Day by day they continued with one mind, spending time at the Temple and breaking bread from house to house. They were sharing meals with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord was adding to their number those being saved.

–from Acts 2

Have you already received Jesus? Have you already asked Jesus for forgiveness and turned back to God? Have you already been baptized in the name of Jesus?

What’s holding you back? It’s worth the investment!

Let’s be looking for the opportunity because God’s Word doesn’t return void and to this very day there are people being saved! How will you be investing into the lives who have received Him? How will you be investing into the lives who are yet to receive Him?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you know what it will take to get it done?


Do you have enough? Do you have too much? Do you know how? Do you know who? Do you have a criteria? Do you have a model? Do you have instructions? Do you have a plan?

Consider what it will take to get it done God’s way. Consider the faith it will take to let it go and do it God’s way. Consider the fact that it’s not all about you and what you can do, but rather it’s all about God and how He wants to do it and how it will glorify Him. It’s not all about pumping you us, it’s about showing people God’s power and love and faithfulness! Listen to God’s direction so that you will be encouraged to do what He is calling you to do!

Let’s first start by taking a look into today’s reading and how God works in and through Gideon…

1Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him, rose up early and camped beside En-harod, while the camp of Midian was north of them, by Gibeath-moreh, in the valley. 2But Adonai said to Gideon, “Too many are the people who are with you, for Me to give the Midianites into their hand. Otherwise Israel would glorify itself against Me saying, ‘My own hand has delivered me.’ 3So now, make proclamation in the ears of the people saying, ‘Whoever is afraid or anxious may turn back and leave from Mount Gilead.’” So 22,000 people turned back, while ten thousand remained. 4But Adonai said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Bring them down to the water and I will test them for you there. Now it will be that he of whom I say to you, ‘This will go with you,’ he will go with you, but anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one will not go with you,’ he will not go.” 5So he brought the troops down to the water, and Adonai said to Gideon, “You are to set apart everyone who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, and everyone who bows down on his knees to drink.” 6Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people bowed down on their knees to drink water. 7Then Adonai said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will deliver you and give the Midianites into your hand. So let all the other people go, every man to his place.” 8So the 300 took provisions and their shofarot in their hands. He sent all the other men of Israel each to his tent, but he kept the 300 men. Now the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. 9It came to pass the same night that Adonai said to him, “Arise, get down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. 10But if you are afraid to go down, first go down to the camp with your attendant Purah. 11Then you will hear what they are saying, and after that your hands will be strengthened to attack the camp.” So he went down with his attendant Purah to an outpost of the army that was in camp. 12Now the Midianites, the Amalekites and all the people of the east were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were countless, as numerous as the sand on the seashore. 13Yet when Gideon came, behold, there was a man relating a dream to his fellow, saying, “Listen, I just now had a dream: there was a loaf of barley bread that came tumbling into the camp of Midian, came up to a tent and struck it so it fell, and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.” 14His companion answered and said, “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, a man of Israel—God has delivered Midian and all the camp into his hand!” 15Now when Gideon heard the account of the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship. Then he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise! For Adonai has given into your hand the camp of Midian.” 16Then he divided the 300 men into three columns, and he put into the hands of all of them shofarot and empty pitchers, with torches inside the pitchers. 17Then he said to them, “Watch me and do likewise. So behold, when I come to the outskirts of the camp, do just as I do. 18When I and all that are with me blow the shofar, then you also blow the shofarot all around the camp, and say, ‘For Adonai and for Gideon!’” 19So Gideon and the 300 men who were with him came up to the outermost part of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just posted the watch. Then they blew the shofarot and smashed the pitchers that were in their hands. 20When the three columns blew the shofarot and broke the pitchers, they held the torches in their left hands and the shofarot in their right hands to blow, and they shouted, “A sword for Adonai and for Gideon!” 21Each one stood in his place around the camp, and then the entire army ran, shouting as they fled. 22Now when they blew the 300 shofarot, Adonai set every man’s sword against his fellow throughout the entire army. So the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath. 23Then men of Israel were summoned from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh, and they pursued Midian. 24Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim saying, “Come down against Midian and seize the waters down to Beth-barah, all along the Jordan.” So all the men of Ephraim were summoned and took control of the waterside as far as Beth-barah by the Jordan. 25Then they captured the two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb; they slew Oreb at the Rock of Oreb and they slew Zeeb at the Winepress of Zeeb. They kept pursuing Midian, and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon from across the Jordan.

–from Judges 7

It’s not by might! It’s not by strength! It’s not by numbers! It’s by faith! It’s by obedience! Then we will see the glory of God and how He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine! The battle belongs to the Lord! Victory is the Lord’s!

Ever been criticized for not doing it the way others expected? Ever been criticized because you didn’t do it someone else’s way? Ever been criticized because the way you approached something? Ever been criticized even though you won?

Gideon did too, let’s see how this took place as we continue into today’s reading…

Gideon’s Victories, Ephod and Death

1Now the men of Ephraim said to him, “What is this thing you have done to us, not calling us when you went to fight against Midian?” So they criticized him sharply. 2But he said to them, “What have I now done compared to you? Is not the gleaning of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? 3God has given into your hand the princes of Midian—Oreb and Zeeb—so what was I able to do compared to you?” Their anger with him subsided after he said this. 4Then Gideon reached the Jordan and crossed over. He and the 300 men with him were exhausted, yet still pursuing. 5He said to the men of Succoth, “Please, give loaves of bread to the people on foot with me, for they are exhausted, and I am chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.” 6But the officials of Succoth said, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand? So why we should give bread to your army?” 7Gideon replied, “Therefore when Adonai delivers Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will thresh your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and briers.” 8From there he went up to Penuel and spoke to them similarly, but the men of Penuel answered him just as the men of Succoth had answered. 9So he spoke also to the men of Penuel saying, “When I come back safely, I will tear down this tower.” 10Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and with them their armies of about 15,000 men, all who were left of all the army of the people of the east—the fallen were 120,000 swordsmen. 11Now Gideon went up by the road of the tent dwellers on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and ambushed the camp when it was off guard. 12When Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued them and captured the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and routed the whole army. 13Gideon son of Joash returned from the battle by the Ascent of Heres. 14He captured a boy from the people of Succoth and questioned him, so he wrote down for him the officials of Succoth and its elders—77 men. 15When he came to the men of Succoth, he said, “Behold Zebah and Zalmunna—about whom you mocked me saying, ‘Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hand? Why should we give bread to your exhausted men?’” 16Then he seized the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he punished the men of Succoth. 17He also tore down the tower of Penuel and slew the men of the city. 18Then he asked Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men did you kill at Tabor?” “As you are, so they were,” they answered. “Each one looked like the children of a king.” 19“They were my brothers, the sons of my mother,” he said. “As Adonai lives, if only you had let them live, I would not kill you.” 20Then he said to Jeter his first-born, “Arise, kill them!” But the boy could not draw his sword, for he was afraid, since he was still a youth. 21Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Rise up yourself and fall on us—for as the man is, so is his strength.” So Gideon arose and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the crescent ornaments that were on their camels’ necks. 22Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us—you, your son, and your grandson as well. For you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.” 23But Gideon replied to them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. Adonai alone will rule over you.” 24Yet Gideon said to them, “I would make a request of you, that you would give me every man an earring from his spoil.” (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) 25“We’ll certainly give them!” they replied. So they spread out a robe, and each one of them threw an earring from his spoil. 26So the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold—besides the crescent ornaments, the pendants and the purple robes that were on the kings of Midian, and besides the chains that were on their camels’ necks. 27Gideon made it into an ephod, and put it in his town Ophrah. But all Israel prostituted themselves after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his household. 28So Midian was subdued before Bnei-Yisrael, and they lifted up their heads no more. The land had tranquility for 40 years in the days of Gideon. 29Jerubbaal son of Joash went and lived in his own house. 30Now Gideon had 70 sons of his own issue, for he had many wives. 31Also his concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son—he called his name Abimelech. 32Then Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age, and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. 33But it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that Bnei-Yisrael again prostituted themselves after the Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god. 34So Bnei-Yisrael did not remember Adonai their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side. 35Nor did they show kindness to the household of Jerubbaal, namely Gideon, in accord with all the goodness which he had done for Israel.

–from Judges 8

So why do you do what you do? So what is your motivation? So where do you point people in your walk? Where do you point people when it comes to your victories? Do you take it or do you point people to God? God is so good! God is so faithful! Even when we are weak, we need convincing, we need hope, we need encouragement, we need strength, we need courage, we need… God is faithful! God made a promise to Abraham and has kept and is continuing to keep His word! So how will we take the promises He has given us? Will we walk with Him? Will we turn back to Him when we stumble? Let’s walk with God! Let’s receive His grace! Let’s do it His way!

Consider what would Jesus do! Let’s be imitators! Let’s be ambassadors! Let’s make a difference in this world around us!

Greetings

1Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the community of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Yeshua the Messiah: Grace to you and shalom.

Good News with Power

2We always give thanks to God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers—continually 3remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadiness of hope in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. 4We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that you are chosen, 5because our Good News did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Ruach ha-Kodesh and with complete certainty—just as you know what kind of men we proved to be while among you for your sake. 6You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having accepted the message in much tribulation, with the joy of the Ruach ha-Kodesh. 7So you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8For the word of the Lord rang out from you—not just in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faithfulness toward God has gone out, so that we have no need to say anything. 9For they themselves bring news about what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, 10and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead—Yeshua, the One delivering us from the coming wrath.

–from 1 Thessalonians 1

Let’s aim for the goal! Let’s finish the race strong! Let’s live to glorify God in all we think, say, and do!

Let’s purpose to please God over pleasing people! Let’s make sure our motives are pure! Let’s be humble! Let’s be servant leaders! Let’s not allow pride to trip us up!

Cherishing Spiritual Children

1For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not in vain. 2On the contrary, after we had first suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to tell you the Good News of God—even in the midst of much opposition. 3For our urging is not out of deceit or impure motives or trickery. 4But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News, so we declare it—not pleasing men but rather God, who examines our hearts. 5For as you know and God is witness, we never came with a word of flattery or a motive of greed— 6or seeking glory from people, whether from you or from others, 7even though we could have thrown our weight around as emissaries of Messiah. Rather, we proved to be infants among you. Like a nursing mother cherishes her children, 8in this way we were yearning for you. We were delighted to share with you not only the Good News of God but also our very souls, because you had become dear to us. 9For you recall, brothers and sisters, our labor and hardship—working night and day, so as not to burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the Good News of God. 10You are witnesses, along with God, of how devoutly and righteously and blamelessly we behaved toward you who believe. 11For you know how, as a father with his own children, 12we exhorted and encouraged and urged each one of you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. 13For this reason, we also thank God constantly that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it truly is—the word of God, which does its work in you who believe. 14For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s communities in Messiah Yeshua that are in Judea—for you suffered the same things at the hands of your own countrymen as they did from the Judean leaders, 15who killed both the Lord Yeshua and the prophets and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God and hostile to all people, 16hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they might be saved. As a result, they constantly fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last.

Longing to Visit and Reassure

17But brothers and sisters, after we were orphaned by separation from you for a short time (in person, not in heart), we were all the more eager in our great longing to see you face to face. 18For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—but satan thwarted us. 19For who is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Yeshua at His coming? Is it not you? 20For you are our glory and joy!

–from 1 Thessalonians 2

 

Would you do it, even if it doesn’t make sense to you?


What if the way to win came in a way you didn’t understand? Would you still do it?

What if the instructions or directions on how to achieve victory seemed strange or different? Would you still try it?

What if the tools and the method were so far from how you would normally attempt such a feat? Would you believe enough to give it a try?

Today’s reading jumps right into just such an event. So God gives instructions on what to do, how to do it His way, very different than any other battle I am sure any of them had done. How would you respond? Let’s check out how it plays out for them…

1Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of Bnei-Yisrael—no one going out and no one coming in. 2Then Adonai said to Joshua, “Look, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty warriors. 3Now you are to march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. So you are to do for six days. 4Seven kohanim will carry seven shofarot of rams’ horns before the ark. Then on the seventh day you are to circle the city seven times while the kohanim blow the shofarot. 5It will be when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the shofar, have all the people shout a loud shout—then the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up, everyone straight ahead.” 6So Joshua son of Nun summoned the kohanim and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant. Let seven kohanim carry seven shofarot of rams’ horns before the ark of Adonai.” 7Then he said to the people, “Move forward, march around the city, and let the armed force march ahead of the ark of Adonai.” 8And it was so. After Joshua had spoken to the people, seven kohanim carrying the seven shofarot of rams’ horns before Adonai went forward and blew the shofarot, and the ark of the covenant of Adonai followed them. 9Also the armed force went before the kohanim who blew the shofarot, and the rear guard came behind the ark, while the shofarot continued to blow. 10But Joshua ordered the people saying: “You must not shout nor let your voice be heard nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you ‘shout!’ Then you will shout.” 11So he had the ark of Adonai go around the city, circling it once. Then they came into the camp and spent the night there. 12The next day Joshua rose early in the morning. The kohanim took up the ark of Adonai, 13and the seven kohanim carrying the seven shofarot of rams’ horns marched in front of the ark of Adonai and blew the shofarot, with the armed force marching before them and the rear guard marching behind the ark of Adonai, while the shofarot continued to blow. 14So the second day they circled the city once and returned to the camp. So they did for six days.

–from Joshua 6

What are you thinking? What would you be thinking in the midst of it all? What about the other people who are watching you? Will you stick with it? Will you do it God’s way? Let’s watch what happens…

Jericho’s Walls Come Down

15Now on the seventh day they rose early, at dawn, and marched around the city in the same way seven times. Only on that day did they march around the city seven times. 16Then on the seventh time, when the kohanim blew the shofarot, Joshua ordered the people, “Shout! For Adonai has given you the city! 17But the city will be under the ban of destruction—it and all that is in it belong to Adonai. Only Rahab the harlot will live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the scouts that we sent. 18But you, just keep yourselves from the things under the ban. Otherwise you would make yourselves accursed by taking of the things under the ban, and so you would make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it. 19All the silver and gold and vessels of bronze and iron are holy to Adonai, and must go into the treasury of Adonai.” 20So when the shofarot blew, the people shouted. When the people heard the sound of the shofar, the people shouted a loud shout—and the wall fell down flat! So the people went up into the city, everyone straight ahead, and they captured the city. 21They utterly destroyed everything in the city—man and woman, young and old, ox, sheep and donkey—with the edge of the sword. 22Then Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land: “Go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” 23So the young spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her relatives and all who belonged to her. All her relatives they brought out and put them outside the camp of Israel. 24Then they burned the city with fire and all that was in it. Only the silver, the gold and the vessels of bronze and iron did they put into the treasury of the House of Adonai. 25But Rahab the harlot, her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua spared. She has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, because she hid the scouts whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. 26At that time Joshua made an oath saying: “Cursed before Adonai is the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho! On his firstborn he will lay its foundation, and on his youngest son he will set up its gates.” 27So Adonai was with Joshua, and his fame was throughout the region.

–from Joshua 6

Wow! Imagine the reality of what just happened! Would you consider tweaking any of the instructions? How you were to proceed or complete the plan? Would you say “He got us this far, let’s finish it His way?” Would you risk making a change or adjustment to the plan? Would you really want to be that guy who wanted to go his way rather than God’s way? Will you trust God? Will you trust Him completely?

Achan’s Trouble

1But Bnei-Yisrael unfaithfully violated the ban. Achan son of Carmi son of Zabdi son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the banned things. So Adonai’s anger burned against Bnei-Yisrael.2Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and spoke to them saying: “Go up and spy out the land.” So the men went up and spied out Ai. 3When they returned to Joshua, they reported to him: “Let not all the people go up—only about two or three thousand men need go up and strike Ai, so don’t wear out all the people there, for they are just a few.” 4So about 3,000 men from the people went up there, but they fled before the men of Ai. 5The men of Ai struck down about 36 of their men, and they chased them from outside the gate as far as Shebarim, striking them down on the slope. So the hearts of the people melted and became like water. 6Joshua then tore his clothes and fell to the ground on his face before the ark of Adonai until evening, both he and the elders of Israel, and they put dust on their heads. 7“Alas, Adonai Elohim!” Joshua said. “Why did You ever bring this people across the Jordan? Is it to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites—to destroy us? If only we had been content and dwelled beyond the Jordan! 8Oh my Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has turned its back before its enemies? 9For when the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land hear of it, they will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great Name?” 10Then Adonai said to Joshua, “Arise! Why are you fallen on your face? 11Israel has sinned. Yes, they have also transgressed My covenant, which I commanded them. Now they have even taken of the things under the ban of destruction. So they have also stolen and even deceived, and even put them among their own possessions. 12So Bnei-Yisrael cannot stand before their enemies. So they turn their necks before their enemies, because they have come under the ban. I will not be with you any more unless you destroy whatever is under the ban from among you. 13Arise! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, for thus says Adonai, the God of Israel: Something under the ban is in the midst of you, Israel. You will not be able to stand up before your enemies until you remove whatever is under the ban from among you. 14In the morning you will approach by your tribes. It will be that the tribe that Adonai takes will come forward by families, and the family that Adonai takes will come forward by households, and the household that Adonai takes will come forward man by man. 15Then whoever is taken with whatever is under the ban must be burned with fire, he and all belonging to him, because he has transgressed the covenant of Adonai, and because he has committed a disgrace in Israel.’” 16So Joshua rose up early in the morning and brought Israel forward by their tribes, and the tribe of Judah was taken. 17Then he brought forward the clans of Judah, and He took the family of the Zerahites. Then he brought forward the family of the Zerahites man by man, and Zabdi was taken. 18Then he brought forward his household man by man, and Achan son of Carmi son of Zabdi son of Zerah of the tribe of Judah was taken. 19So Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory now to Adonai, God of Israel, and give praise to Him, and confess to me now what you have done—hide nothing from me.” 20Achan responded to Joshua and said: “It’s true! I have sinned against Adonai, God of Israel! This is what I have done: 21When I saw among the spoil a beautiful Shinar mantle and 200 shekels of silver and a wedge of gold 50 shekels in weight, I coveted them and took them. Look, they are buried in the ground in the middle of my tent, with the silver under it.” 22So Joshua sent messengers who ran to the tent, and behold, it was buried in his tent with the silver underneath it. 23Then they took them from the middle of the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all Bnei-Yisrael, and they laid them down before Adonai. 24Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the mantle, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep and his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. 25Then Joshua said, “Why have you brought trouble on us? Adonai will trouble you this day.” Then all Israel stoned him with stones, burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. 26They raised over him a great heap of stones that stands to this day. Then Adonai turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Achor to this day.

–from Joshua 7

Will you be willing to go it God’s way? Will you be willing to be co-heirs? Will you be willing to be a part of the body of Christ and His promises? Will you choose to build up your relationship with God daily? Will you ask for wisdom and discernment and then be obedient to walk out His instructions? When Jesus left to sit at the right hand of the Father, He promised and has sent the Holy Spirit to be our comforter and our guide! He will be that still quiet voice to prompt us and guide us and instruct us! Will you be willing to hear it and listen to it and obey it? Or would you risk the consequences?

The Mystery of the Gentiles Revealed

1For this reason I, Paul, am a prisoner of Messiah Yeshua for the sake of you Gentiles. 2Surely you have heard about the plan of God’s grace given to me for you— 3that the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote before briefly. 4When you read this, you can understand my insight into the mystery of Messiah— 5which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations, as it has now been revealed by the Ruach to His holy emissaries and prophets. 6This mystery is that the Gentiles are joint heirs and fellow members of the same body and co-sharers of the promise in Messiah Yeshua through the Good News. 7I became a servant of this Good News by the gift of God’s favor given to me through the exercise of His power. 8This favor was given to me, the very least of His kedoshim, to proclaim to the Gentiles the endless riches of the Messiah 9and to bring to light the plan of the mystery—which for ages was hidden in God, who created all things. 10The purpose is that through Messiah’s community the multi-faceted wisdom of God might be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places, 11which is in keeping with the eternal purpose that He carried out in Messiah Yeshua our Lord. 12In Him we have boldness and access with confidence through trusting in Him. 13So I ask you not to be discouraged by my troubles on your behalf—they are your glory.

Prayer for Power and Understanding

14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father— 15from Him every family in heaven and on earth receives its name. 16I pray that from His glorious riches He would grant you to be strengthened in your inner being with power through His Ruach, 17so that Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to grasp with all the kedoshim what is the width and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Messiah which surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled up with all the fullness of God. 20Now to Him who is able to do far beyond all that we ask or imagine, by means of His power that works in us, 21to Him be the glory in the community of believers and in Messiah Yeshua throughout all generations forever and ever! Amen.

–from Ephesians 3