Let’s get ready!


Do you remember the plans God has for you? Are you ready? Do you remember how they are for good and not for evil? Do you remember how they are to give you a hope and a future? Do you remember how it will be more than we could ask or imagine? Are you digging in? Are you stepping in? Are you getting ready? Are you doing your part so that you will be prepared in and out of season to give a reason for the hope that is within you? How are you starting your day? How are you prioritizing the requests and pulls on your life? How are you deciding when to say yes and when to say no? Today is the first day of your future. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is unknown. Today is all we have so let’s receive it as the present that it is and live it to the full. Let’s get ready!


Use Me
Are you ready?

Today’s reading from God’s Word as we get started and prepared for today comes from 1 Kings 5:

‘King Hiram of Tyre had always been a loyal friend of David. When Hiram learned that David’s son Solomon was the new king of Israel, he sent ambassadors to congratulate him. Then Solomon sent this message back to Hiram: “You know that my father, David, was not able to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord his God because of the many wars waged against him by surrounding nations. He could not build until the Lord gave him victory over all his enemies. But now the Lord my God has given me peace on every side; I have no enemies, and all is well. So I am planning to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord my God, just as he had instructed my father, David. For the Lord told him, ‘Your son, whom I will place on your throne, will build the Temple to honor my name.’ “Therefore, please command that cedars from Lebanon be cut for me. Let my men work alongside yours, and I will pay your men whatever wages you ask. As you know, there is no one among us who can cut timber like you Sidonians!” When Hiram received Solomon’s message, he was very pleased and said, “Praise the Lord today for giving David a wise son to be king of the great nation of Israel.” Then he sent this reply to Solomon: “I have received your message, and I will supply all the cedar and cypress timber you need. My servants will bring the logs from the Lebanon mountains to the Mediterranean Sea and make them into rafts and float them along the coast to whatever place you choose. Then we will break the rafts apart so you can carry the logs away. You can pay me by supplying me with food for my household.” So Hiram supplied as much cedar and cypress timber as Solomon desired. In return, Solomon sent him an annual payment of 100,000 bushels of wheat for his household and 110,000 gallons of pure olive oil. So the Lord gave wisdom to Solomon, just as he had promised. And Hiram and Solomon made a formal alliance of peace. Then King Solomon conscripted a labor force of 30,000 men from all Israel. He sent them to Lebanon in shifts, 10,000 every month, so that each man would be one month in Lebanon and two months at home. Adoniram was in charge of this labor force. Solomon also had 70,000 common laborers, 80,000 quarry workers in the hill country, and 3,600 foremen to supervise the work. At the king’s command, they quarried large blocks of high-quality stone and shaped them to make the foundation of the Temple. Men from the city of Gebal helped Solomon’s and Hiram’s builders prepare the timber and stone for the Temple.’

1 Kings 5

‘This is the vision that the Sovereign Lord revealed to Obadiah concerning the land of Edom. We have heard a message from the Lord that an ambassador was sent to the nations to say, “Get ready, everyone! Let’s assemble our armies and attack Edom!” The Lord says to Edom, “I will cut you down to size among the nations; you will be greatly despised. You have been deceived by your own pride because you live in a rock fortress and make your home high in the mountains. ‘Who can ever reach us way up here?’ you ask boastfully. But even if you soar as high as eagles and build your nest among the stars, I will bring you crashing down,” says the Lord . “If thieves came at night and robbed you (what a disaster awaits you!), they would not take everything. Those who harvest grapes always leave a few for the poor. But your enemies will wipe you out completely! Every nook and cranny of Edom will be searched and looted. Every treasure will be found and taken. “All your allies will turn against you. They will help to chase you from your land. They will promise you peace while plotting to deceive and destroy you. Your trusted friends will set traps for you, and you won’t even know about it. At that time not a single wise person will be left in the whole land of Edom,” says the Lord . “For on the mountains of Edom I will destroy everyone who has understanding. The mightiest warriors of Teman will be terrified, and everyone on the mountains of Edom will be cut down in the slaughter. “Because of the violence you did to your close relatives in Israel, you will be filled with shame and destroyed forever. When they were invaded, you stood aloof, refusing to help them. Foreign invaders carried off their wealth and cast lots to divide up Jerusalem, but you acted like one of Israel’s enemies. “You should not have gloated when they exiled your relatives to distant lands. You should not have rejoiced when the people of Judah suffered such misfortune. You should not have spoken arrogantly in that terrible time of trouble. You should not have plundered the land of Israel when they were suffering such calamity. You should not have gloated over their destruction when they were suffering such calamity. You should not have seized their wealth when they were suffering such calamity. You should not have stood at the crossroads, killing those who tried to escape. You should not have captured the survivors and handed them over in their terrible time of trouble. “The day is near when I, the Lord , will judge all godless nations! As you have done to Israel, so it will be done to you. All your evil deeds will fall back on your own heads. Just as you swallowed up my people on my holy mountain, so you and the surrounding nations will swallow the punishment I pour out on you. Yes, all you nations will drink and stagger and disappear from history. “But Jerusalem will become a refuge for those who escape; it will be a holy place. And the people of Israel will come back to reclaim their inheritance. The people of Israel will be a raging fire, and Edom a field of dry stubble. The descendants of Joseph will be a flame roaring across the field, devouring everything. There will be no survivors in Edom. I, the Lord , have spoken! “Then my people living in the Negev will occupy the mountains of Edom. Those living in the foothills of Judah will possess the Philistine plains and take over the fields of Ephraim and Samaria. And the people of Benjamin will occupy the land of Gilead. The exiles of Israel will return to their land and occupy the Phoenician coast as far north as Zarephath. The captives from Jerusalem exiled in the north will return home and resettle the towns of the Negev. Those who have been rescued will go up to Mount Zion in Jerusalem to rule over the mountains of Edom. And the Lord himself will be king!”’

Obadiah 1

‘Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! ‘

Acts 3:1-10

‘These false teachers are like unthinking animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed. They scoff at things they do not understand, and like animals, they will be destroyed. Their destruction is their reward for the harm they have done. They love to indulge in evil pleasures in broad daylight. They are a disgrace and a stain among you. They delight in deception even as they eat with you in your fellowship meals. They commit adultery with their eyes, and their desire for sin is never satisfied. They lure unstable people into sin, and they are well trained in greed. They live under God’s curse. They have wandered off the right road and followed the footsteps of Balaam son of Beor, who loved to earn money by doing wrong. But Balaam was stopped from his mad course when his donkey rebuked him with a human voice. These people are as useless as dried-up springs or as mist blown away by the wind. They are doomed to blackest darkness. They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting. With an appeal to twisted sexual desires, they lure back into sin those who have barely escaped from a lifestyle of deception. They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you. And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.”’

2 Peter 2:12-22

‘Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God. You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals!” For you, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours. You sweep people away like dreams that disappear. They are like grass that springs up in the morning. In the morning it blooms and flourishes, but by evening it is dry and withered. We wither beneath your anger; we are overwhelmed by your fury. You spread out our sins before you— our secret sins—and you see them all. We live our lives beneath your wrath, ending our years with a groan. Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away. Who can comprehend the power of your anger? Your wrath is as awesome as the fear you deserve. Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. O Lord , come back to us! How long will you delay? Take pity on your servants! Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory. And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!’

Psalms 90

Ever been offered the opportunity to make a request?


If someone gave you the offer “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”, how would you respond? Would you be brave enough to ask for an understanding heart? Would you be brave enough to ask for the ability to know the difference between right and wrong? Would you ask for stuff like when a genie gives you three wishes? Would you ask for health? Would you ask for wealth? Would you ask for a long life? Would you ask for revenge? What would you ask for? What would the motivation of your heart and mind be for such a request? Would it be to make you look and sound better? Would it be to let God shine in and through you? Would it be so that you can serve others better? Would it be selfish or selfless? Why would you want that? Are your intentions pure? Have you ever been offered the opportunity make a request?


Today’s reading from God’s Word gets us started in 1 Kings 3 where we see how Solomon is given the opportunity to ask for anything with the fact that he will get it…

‘Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and married one of his daughters. He brought her to live in the City of David until he could finish building his palace and the Temple of the Lord and the wall around the city. At that time the people of Israel sacrificed their offerings at local places of worship, for a temple honoring the name of the Lord had not yet been built. Solomon loved the Lord and followed all the decrees of his father, David, except that Solomon, too, offered sacrifices and burned incense at the local places of worship. The most important of these places of worship was at Gibeon, so the king went there and sacrificed 1,000 burnt offerings. That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” Solomon replied, “You showed great and faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued to show this great and faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne. “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.” Then Solomon woke up and realized it had been a dream. He returned to Jerusalem and stood before the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, where he sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. Then he invited all his officials to a great banquet. Some time later two prostitutes came to the king to have an argument settled. “Please, my lord,” one of them began, “this woman and I live in the same house. I gave birth to a baby while she was with me in the house. Three days later this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there were only two of us in the house. “But her baby died during the night when she rolled over on it. Then she got up in the night and took my son from beside me while I was asleep. She laid her dead child in my arms and took mine to sleep beside her. And in the morning when I tried to nurse my son, he was dead! But when I looked more closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t my son at all.” Then the other woman interrupted, “It certainly was your son, and the living child is mine.” “No,” the first woman said, “the living child is mine, and the dead one is yours.” And so they argued back and forth before the king. Then the king said, “Let’s get the facts straight. Both of you claim the living child is yours, and each says that the dead one belongs to the other. All right, bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought to the king. Then he said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other!” Then the woman who was the real mother of the living child, and who loved him very much, cried out, “Oh no, my lord! Give her the child—please do not kill him!” But the other woman said, “All right, he will be neither yours nor mine; divide him between us!” Then the king said, “Do not kill the child, but give him to the woman who wants him to live, for she is his mother!” When all Israel heard the king’s decision, the people were in awe of the king, for they saw the wisdom God had given him for rendering justice.’

1 Kings 3

‘How the gold has lost its luster! Even the finest gold has become dull. The sacred gemstones lie scattered in the streets! See how the precious children of Jerusalem, worth their weight in fine gold, are now treated like pots of clay made by a common potter. Even the jackals feed their young, but not my people Israel. They ignore their children’s cries, like ostriches in the desert. The parched tongues of their little ones stick to the roofs of their mouths in thirst. The children cry for bread, but no one has any to give them. The people who once ate the richest foods now beg in the streets for anything they can get. Those who once wore the finest clothes now search the garbage dumps for food. The guilt of my people is greater than that of Sodom, where utter disaster struck in a moment and no hand offered help. Our princes once glowed with health— brighter than snow, whiter than milk. Their faces were as ruddy as rubies, their appearance like fine jewels. But now their faces are blacker than soot. No one recognizes them in the streets. Their skin sticks to their bones; it is as dry and hard as wood. Those killed by the sword are better off than those who die of hunger. Starving, they waste away for lack of food from the fields. Tenderhearted women have cooked their own children. They have eaten them to survive the siege. But now the anger of the Lord is satisfied. His fierce anger has been poured out. He started a fire in Jerusalem that burned the city to its foundations. Not a king in all the earth— no one in all the world— would have believed that an enemy could march through the gates of Jerusalem. Yet it happened because of the sins of her prophets and the sins of her priests, who defiled the city by shedding innocent blood. They wandered blindly through the streets, so defiled by blood that no one dared touch them. “Get away!” the people shouted at them. “You’re defiled! Don’t touch us!” So they fled to distant lands and wandered among foreign nations, but none would let them stay. The Lord himself has scattered them, and he no longer helps them. People show no respect for the priests and no longer honor the leaders. We looked in vain for our allies to come and save us, but we were looking to nations that could not help us. We couldn’t go into the streets without danger to our lives. Our end was near; our days were numbered. We were doomed! Our enemies were swifter than eagles in flight. If we fled to the mountains, they found us. If we hid in the wilderness, they were waiting for us there. Our king—the Lord ’s anointed, the very life of our nation— was caught in their snares. We had thought that his shadow would protect us against any nation on earth! Are you rejoicing in the land of Uz, O people of Edom? But you, too, must drink from the cup of the Lord ’s anger. You, too, will be stripped naked in your drunkenness. O beautiful Jerusalem, your punishment will end; you will soon return from exile. But Edom, your punishment is just beginning; soon your many sins will be exposed.’

Lamentations 4

‘Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike— and they will prophesy. And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below— blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. King David said this about him: ‘I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’’

Acts 2:14-28

‘For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.’

2 Peter 1:16-21

‘O Lord , God of my salvation, I cry out to you by day. I come to you at night. Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry. For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near. I am as good as dead, like a strong man with no strength left. They have left me among the dead, and I lie like a corpse in a grave. I am forgotten, cut off from your care. You have thrown me into the lowest pit, into the darkest depths. Your anger weighs me down; with wave after wave you have engulfed me. Interlude You have driven my friends away by making me repulsive to them. I am in a trap with no way of escape. My eyes are blinded by my tears. Each day I beg for your help, O Lord ; I lift my hands to you for mercy. Are your wonderful deeds of any use to the dead? Do the dead rise up and praise you? Interlude Can those in the grave declare your unfailing love? Can they proclaim your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Can the darkness speak of your wonderful deeds? Can anyone in the land of forgetfulness talk about your righteousness? O Lord , I cry out to you. I will keep on pleading day by day. O Lord , why do you reject me? Why do you turn your face from me? I have been sick and close to death since my youth. I stand helpless and desperate before your terrors. Your fierce anger has overwhelmed me. Your terrors have paralyzed me. They swirl around me like floodwaters all day long. They have engulfed me completely. You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend.’

Psalms 88

So has you thought about what you would ask change? Jesus is at the door of your heart knocking, not forcing Himself on you but available to you. Will you ask for Him to come into your life? Will you ask Him to become your Lord and Savior? Will you ask Him to transform you from the inside out, making you a new creation and giving you a new heart? Will you ask Him into your heart and to forgive you?

If yes, why not choose today to do it? Let’s pray this prayer together:

If you prayed this prayer and would like to connect, please don’t hesitate to either leave me a comment so we can connect or if you are seeing this through social media, feel free to send me a direct message.

Who is God to you?


Not asking who do you idolize. Not asking about who little g god is to you. Asking more when you think about or talk about God, who is He to you? what is He to you? How do you describe Him to others? How do you express who He is and what He has done in and through your life? What do you do to express your views and your thoughts and your feelings about God? Do you write? Do you sing? Do you pray? Do you praise? Can others tell? Do others know? Do you express it? Do you serve? Do you give? What do you do? How do you do it? Who is God to you?


This morning’s reading gets us started hearing who David says God is in 2 Samuel 22:

‘David sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. He sang: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence. I called on the Lord , who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies. “The waves of death overwhelmed me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. But in my distress I cried out to the Lord ; yes, I cried to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry reached his ears. “Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the heavens shook; they quaked because of his anger. Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him. He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet. Mounted on a mighty angelic being, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dense rain clouds. A great brightness shone around him, and burning coals blazed forth. The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot arrows and scattered his enemies; his lightning flashed, and they were confused. Then at the command of the Lord , at the blast of his breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare. “He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord supported me. He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me. The Lord rewarded me for doing right; he restored me because of my innocence. For I have kept the ways of the Lord ; I have not turned from my God to follow evil. I have followed all his regulations; I have never abandoned his decrees. I am blameless before God; I have kept myself from sin. The Lord rewarded me for doing right. He has seen my innocence. “To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. You rescue the humble, but your eyes watch the proud and humiliate them. O Lord , you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness. In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord ’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord ? Who but our God is a solid rock? God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping. “I chased my enemies and destroyed them; I did not stop until they were conquered. I consumed them; I struck them down so they did not get up; they fell beneath my feet. You have armed me with strength for the battle; you have subdued my enemies under my feet. You placed my foot on their necks. I have destroyed all who hated me. They looked for help, but no one came to their rescue. They even cried to the Lord , but he refused to answer. I ground them as fine as the dust of the earth; I trampled them in the gutter like dirt. “You gave me victory over my accusers. You preserved me as the ruler over nations; people I don’t even know now serve me. Foreign nations cringe before me; as soon as they hear of me, they submit. They all lose their courage and come trembling from their strongholds. “The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock! May God, the Rock of my salvation, be exalted! He is the God who pays back those who harm me; he brings down the nations under me and delivers me from my enemies. You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies; you save me from violent opponents. For this, O Lord , I will praise you among the nations; I will sing praises to your name. You give great victories to your king; you show unfailing love to your anointed, to David and all his descendants forever.”’

2 Samuel 22

‘This is what the Lord says: “I will stir up a destroyer against Babylon and the people of Babylonia. Foreigners will come and winnow her, blowing her away as chaff. They will come from every side to rise against her in her day of trouble. Don’t let the archers put on their armor or draw their bows. Don’t spare even her best soldiers! Let her army be completely destroyed. They will fall dead in the land of the Babylonians, slashed to death in her streets. For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has not abandoned Israel and Judah. He is still their God, even though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.” Flee from Babylon! Save yourselves! Don’t get trapped in her punishment! It is the Lord ’s time for vengeance; he will repay her in full. Babylon has been a gold cup in the Lord ’s hands, a cup that made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank Babylon’s wine, and it drove them all mad. But suddenly Babylon, too, has fallen. Weep for her. Give her medicine. Perhaps she can yet be healed. We would have helped her if we could, but nothing can save her now. Let her go; abandon her. Return now to your own land. For her punishment reaches to the heavens; it is so great it cannot be measured. The Lord has vindicated us. Come, let us announce in Jerusalem everything the Lord our God has done. Sharpen the arrows! Lift up the shields! For the Lord has inspired the kings of the Medes to march against Babylon and destroy her. This is his vengeance against those who desecrated his Temple. Raise the battle flag against Babylon! Reinforce the guard and station the watchmen. Prepare an ambush, for the Lord will fulfill all his plans against Babylon. You are a city by a great river, a great center of commerce, but your end has come. The thread of your life is cut. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has taken this vow and has sworn to it by his own name: “Your cities will be filled with enemies, like fields swarming with locusts, and they will shout in triumph over you.” The Lord made the earth by his power, and he preserves it by his wisdom. With his own understanding he stretched out the heavens. When he speaks in the thunder, the heavens roar with rain. He causes the clouds to rise over the earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses. The whole human race is foolish and has no knowledge! The craftsmen are disgraced by the idols they make, for their carefully shaped works are a fraud. These idols have no breath or power. Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies! On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed. But the God of Israel is no idol! He is the Creator of everything that exists, including his people, his own special possession. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name! “You are my battle-ax and sword,” says the Lord . “With you I will shatter nations and destroy many kingdoms. With you I will shatter armies— destroying the horse and rider, the chariot and charioteer. With you I will shatter men and women, old people and children, young men and young women. With you I will shatter shepherds and flocks, farmers and oxen, captains and officers. “I will repay Babylon and the people of Babylonia for all the wrong they have done to my people in Jerusalem,” says the Lord . “Look, O mighty mountain, destroyer of the earth! I am your enemy,” says the Lord . “I will raise my fist against you, to knock you down from the heights. When I am finished, you will be nothing but a heap of burnt rubble. You will be desolate forever. Even your stones will never again be used for building. You will be completely wiped out,” says the Lord . Raise a signal flag to the nations. Sound the battle cry! Mobilize them all against Babylon. Prepare them to fight against her! Bring out the armies of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz. Appoint a commander, and bring a multitude of horses like swarming locusts! Bring against her the armies of the nations— led by the kings of the Medes and all their captains and officers. The earth trembles and writhes in pain, for everything the Lord has planned against Babylon stands unchanged. Babylon will be left desolate without a single inhabitant. Her mightiest warriors no longer fight. They stay in their barracks, their courage gone. They have become like women. The invaders have burned the houses and broken down the city gates. The news is passed from one runner to the next as the messengers hurry to tell the king that his city has been captured. All the escape routes are blocked. The marshes have been set aflame, and the army is in a panic. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Babylon is like wheat on a threshing floor, about to be trampled. In just a little while her harvest will begin.” “King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has eaten and crushed us and drained us of strength. He has swallowed us like a great monster and filled his belly with our riches. He has thrown us out of our own country. Make Babylon suffer as she made us suffer,” say the people of Zion. “Make the people of Babylonia pay for spilling our blood,” says Jerusalem. This is what the Lord says to Jerusalem: “I will be your lawyer to plead your case, and I will avenge you. I will dry up her river, as well as her springs, and Babylon will become a heap of ruins, haunted by jackals. She will be an object of horror and contempt, a place where no one lives. Her people will roar together like strong lions. They will growl like lion cubs. And while they lie inflamed with all their wine, I will prepare a different kind of feast for them. I will make them drink until they fall asleep, and they will never wake up again,” says the Lord . “I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams and goats to be sacrificed. “How Babylon is fallen— great Babylon, praised throughout the earth! Now she has become an object of horror among the nations. The sea has risen over Babylon; she is covered by its crashing waves. Her cities now lie in ruins; she is a dry wasteland where no one lives or even passes by. And I will punish Bel, the god of Babylon, and make him vomit up all he has eaten. The nations will no longer come and worship him. The wall of Babylon has fallen! “Come out, my people, flee from Babylon. Save yourselves! Run from the Lord ’s fierce anger. But do not panic; don’t be afraid when you hear the first rumor of approaching forces. For rumors will keep coming year by year. Violence will erupt in the land as the leaders fight against each other. For the time is surely coming when I will punish this great city and all her idols. Her whole land will be disgraced, and her dead will lie in the streets. Then the heavens and earth will rejoice, for out of the north will come destroying armies against Babylon,” says the Lord . “Just as Babylon killed the people of Israel and others throughout the world, so must her people be killed. Get out, all you who have escaped the sword! Do not stand and watch—flee while you can! Remember the Lord , though you are in a far-off land, and think about your home in Jerusalem.” “We are ashamed,” the people say. “We are insulted and disgraced because the Lord ’s Temple has been defiled by foreigners.” “Yes,” says the Lord , “but the time is coming when I will destroy Babylon’s idols. The groans of her wounded people will be heard throughout the land. Though Babylon reaches as high as the heavens and makes her fortifications incredibly strong, I will still send enemies to plunder her. I, the Lord , have spoken! “Listen! Hear the cry of Babylon, the sound of great destruction from the land of the Babylonians. For the Lord is destroying Babylon. He will silence her loud voice. Waves of enemies pound against her; the noise of battle rings through the city. Destroying armies come against Babylon. Her mighty men are captured, and their weapons break in their hands. For the Lord is a God who gives just punishment; he always repays in full. I will make her officials and wise men drunk, along with her captains, officers, and warriors. They will fall asleep and never wake up again!” says the King, whose name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: “The thick walls of Babylon will be leveled to the ground, and her massive gates will be burned. The builders from many lands have worked in vain, for their work will be destroyed by fire!” The prophet Jeremiah gave this message to Seraiah son of Neriah and grandson of Mahseiah, a staff officer, when Seraiah went to Babylon with King Zedekiah of Judah. This was during the fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign. Jeremiah had recorded on a scroll all the terrible disasters that would soon come upon Babylon—all the words written here. He said to Seraiah, “When you get to Babylon, read aloud everything on this scroll. Then say, ‘ Lord , you have said that you will destroy Babylon so that neither people nor animals will remain here. She will lie empty and abandoned forever.’ When you have finished reading the scroll, tie it to a stone and throw it into the Euphrates River. Then say, ‘In this same way Babylon and her people will sink, never again to rise, because of the disasters I will bring upon her.’” This is the end of Jeremiah’s messages.’

Jeremiah 51

‘That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” “What things?” Jesus asked. “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago. “Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.” Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter. ” Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. ‘

Luke 24:13-35

‘But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it. Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived. But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.’

2 Timothy 3:10-17

‘O God, do not be silent! Do not be deaf. Do not be quiet, O God. Don’t you hear the uproar of your enemies? Don’t you see that your arrogant enemies are rising up? They devise crafty schemes against your people; they conspire against your precious ones. “Come,” they say, “let us wipe out Israel as a nation. We will destroy the very memory of its existence.” Yes, this was their unanimous decision. They signed a treaty as allies against you— these Edomites and Ishmaelites; Moabites and Hagrites; Gebalites, Ammonites, and Amalekites; and people from Philistia and Tyre. Assyria has joined them, too, and is allied with the descendants of Lot. Interlude Do to them as you did to the Midianites and as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the Kishon River. They were destroyed at Endor, and their decaying corpses fertilized the soil. Let their mighty nobles die as Oreb and Zeeb did. Let all their princes die like Zebah and Zalmunna, for they said, “Let us seize for our own use these pasturelands of God!” O my God, scatter them like tumbleweed, like chaff before the wind! As a fire burns a forest and as a flame sets mountains ablaze, chase them with your fierce storm; terrify them with your tempest. Utterly disgrace them until they submit to your name, O Lord . Let them be ashamed and terrified forever. Let them die in disgrace. Then they will learn that you alone are called the Lord , that you alone are the Most High, supreme over all the earth.’

Psalms 83

Have you had an encounter with Jesus yet? Have you invited Him into your heart? Have you encountered the Holy Spirit? Have you received His wisdom, guidance, and comfort? Do you allow God to be with you everywhere you go? He is Emmanuel, God with us, but we need to invite Him in. We need to make the choice for ourselves. We aren’t robots and so we need to choose with our freewill if we will invite God in and pursue Him with all of our lives, living it as a living sacrifice up to God.

Who is God to you?

How will you choose to walk out your life?


Are you willing to choose to walk it out within the boundaries that can be blessed? Are you willing to choose to walk it out in order to stay within the presence of God? Are you willing to choose to go beyond knowing what is right and into doing what is right? Are you willing to choose to walk in alignment with God’s will and God’s plan? How will you choose to walk out your life?

Today’s reading begins in Exodus 23.

‘“See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion. But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you. For my angel will go before you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites, so you may live there. And I will destroy them completely. You must not worship the gods of these nations or serve them in any way or imitate their evil practices. Instead, you must utterly destroy them and smash their sacred pillars. “You must serve only the Lord your God. If you do, I will bless you with food and water, and I will protect you from illness. There will be no miscarriages or infertility in your land, and I will give you long, full lives. “I will send my terror ahead of you and create panic among all the people whose lands you invade. I will make all your enemies turn and run. I will send terror ahead of you to drive out the Hivites, Canaanites, and Hittites. But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply and threaten you. I will drive them out a little at a time until your population has increased enough to take possession of the land. And I will fix your boundaries from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the eastern wilderness to the Euphrates River. I will hand over to you the people now living in the land, and you will drive them out ahead of you. “Make no treaties with them or their gods. They must not live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me. If you serve their gods, you will be caught in the trap of idolatry.”’

Exodus 23:20-33

Today’s reading continues into Exodus 24.

‘Then the Lord instructed Moses: “Come up here to me, and bring along Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s elders. All of you must worship from a distance. Only Moses is allowed to come near to the Lord . The others must not come near, and none of the other people are allowed to climb up the mountain with him.” Then Moses went down to the people and repeated all the instructions and regulations the Lord had given him. All the people answered with one voice, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” Then Moses carefully wrote down all the Lord ’s instructions. Early the next morning Moses got up and built an altar at the foot of the mountain. He also set up twelve pillars, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent some of the young Israelite men to present burnt offerings and to sacrifice bulls as peace offerings to the Lord . Moses drained half the blood from these animals into basins. The other half he splattered against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people. Again they all responded, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded. We will obey.” Then Moses took the blood from the basins and splattered it over the people, declaring, “Look, this blood confirms the covenant the Lord has made with you in giving you these instructions.” Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel climbed up the mountain. There they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself. And though these nobles of Israel gazed upon God, he did not destroy them. In fact, they ate a covenant meal, eating and drinking in his presence! Then the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain. Stay there, and I will give you the tablets of stone on which I have inscribed the instructions and commands so you can teach the people.” So Moses and his assistant Joshua set out, and Moses climbed up the mountain of God. Moses told the elders, “Stay here and wait for us until we come back. Aaron and Hur are here with you. If anyone has a dispute while I am gone, consult with them.” Then Moses climbed up the mountain, and the cloud covered it. And the glory of the Lord settled down on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from inside the cloud. To the Israelites at the foot of the mountain, the glory of the Lord appeared at the summit like a consuming fire. Then Moses disappeared into the cloud as he climbed higher up the mountain. He remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights.’

Exodus 24

Today’s reading next takes us into the story of Job with Job 10.

‘“I am disgusted with my life. Let me complain freely. My bitter soul must complain. I will say to God, ‘Don’t simply condemn me— tell me the charge you are bringing against me. What do you gain by oppressing me? Why do you reject me, the work of your own hands, while smiling on the schemes of the wicked? Are your eyes like those of a human? Do you see things only as people see them? Is your lifetime only as long as ours? Is your life so short that you must quickly probe for my guilt and search for my sin? Although you know I am not guilty, no one can rescue me from your hands. “‘You formed me with your hands; you made me, yet now you completely destroy me. Remember that you made me from dust— will you turn me back to dust so soon? You guided my conception and formed me in the womb. You clothed me with skin and flesh, and you knit my bones and sinews together. You gave me life and showed me your unfailing love. My life was preserved by your care. “‘Yet your real motive— your true intent— was to watch me, and if I sinned, you would not forgive my guilt. If I am guilty, too bad for me; and even if I’m innocent, I can’t hold my head high, because I am filled with shame and misery. And if I hold my head high, you hunt me like a lion and display your awesome power against me. Again and again you witness against me. You pour out your growing anger on me and bring fresh armies against me. “‘Why, then, did you deliver me from my mother’s womb? Why didn’t you let me die at birth? It would be as though I had never existed, going directly from the womb to the grave. I have only a few days left, so leave me alone, that I may have a moment of comfort before I leave—never to return— for the land of darkness and utter gloom. It is a land as dark as midnight, a land of gloom and confusion, where even the light is dark as midnight.’”’

Job 10

Today’s reading brings us into the New Testament in Mark 1.

‘This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began just as the prophet Isaiah had written: “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way. He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord ’s coming! Clear the road for him!’ ” This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”

One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him. Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”

One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him. A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.’

Mark 1:1-20

We continue into 1 Corinthians 7.

‘Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches. For instance, a man who was circumcised before he became a believer should not try to reverse it. And the man who was uncircumcised when he became a believer should not be circumcised now. For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God’s commandments. Yes, each of you should remain as you were when God called you. Are you a slave? Don’t let that worry you—but if you get a chance to be free, take it. And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ. God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world. Each of you, dear brothers and sisters, should remain as you were when God first called you.’

1 Corinthians 7:17-24

As we conclude today’s reading, let us meditate on today’s psalm from Psalms 55.

‘Listen to my prayer, O God. Do not ignore my cry for help! Please listen and answer me, for I am overwhelmed by my troubles. My enemies shout at me, making loud and wicked threats. They bring trouble on me and angrily hunt me down. My heart pounds in my chest. The terror of death assaults me. Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking. Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness. Interlude How quickly I would escape— far from this wild storm of hatred. Confuse them, Lord, and frustrate their plans, for I see violence and conflict in the city. Its walls are patrolled day and night against invaders, but the real danger is wickedness within the city. Everything is falling apart; threats and cheating are rampant in the streets. It is not an enemy who taunts me— I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me— I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you—my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God. Let death stalk my enemies; let the grave swallow them alive, for evil makes its home within them. But I will call on God, and the Lord will rescue me. Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice. He ransoms me and keeps me safe from the battle waged against me, though many still oppose me. God, who has ruled forever, will hear me and humble them. Interlude For my enemies refuse to change their ways; they do not fear God. As for my companion, he betrayed his friends; he broke his promises. His words are as smooth as butter, but in his heart is war. His words are as soothing as lotion, but underneath are daggers! Give your burdens to the Lord , and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. But you, O God, will send the wicked down to the pit of destruction. Murderers and liars will die young, but I am trusting you to save me.’

Psalms 55

Know your audience!


Are you read up? Are you engaged? Are you involved? Are you connected? Are you reaching out? Are you making the effort? Are you seeking in order to find? Are you researching in order to learn? Are you listening in order to understand? Are you taking the time? Do you really know the people?

Feb 28 - Know your audience - How to know your audience - Titus 1

Do you believe in purity? Do you realize there pure and impure things? Do you take what you hear and measure it against God’s Word to discern the truth and validity of it? Do you stand for the truth and rebuke lies? Since your life is speaking the truth of who you are and what you believe, is it speaking to faith and truth and hope in Jesus? Or is it speaking something different? Are your words and your actions in conflict? Are you taking in God’s Word but not following through on the good works He has prepared in advance for you to accomplish and neglecting them?

Do you understand the people, the culture, the beliefs of the people around you? Are you willing to learn it so as to build relationships that God can use and help you to plant seeds and water them over time until the right time appears? Can you be patient and show true love to the world around you? Do you remember what love it? True love I mean? Let’s reflect on it for a moment.

Love is…

Remember that love never fails

Are you trying to live a life of true and unconditional love? The type of love God has for you and is pouring into you so that you can then pour it into the people he brings into your life?

Today’s reading comes from Titus 1…

Greeting

‘Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Qualifications for Elders

‘This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

— from Titus 1

From Titus 1, the Global Impact Bible for today’s devotional points towards Titus 1:12-15 which points to “Studying the culture”…

‘One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.

— from Titus 1:12-15 

It speaks to the importance of studying the culture. You can’t walk into a new place and be able to speak life into it if you aren’t prepared and don’t understand the culture. Interestingly enough in the history of the world, we find that there are some leaders who discourage people from reading anything except the Bible and sacred books. Through Paul speaking to Titus, we see that they had extensive knowledge of the secular text. We see that with that knowledge they could walk into a situation and be able to speak the truth as it related to the people and share the hope of Jesus Christ through it. A good example where this gets called out is through Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz who was a Mexican poet who used this fact in defence of her literary works. She even references Titus 1:12 as part of it. So we need to be educated. We need to be read up. We need to be ready for what is yet to come. So let’s be prepared! Let’s be ready for the good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do! Let’s not grow weary in doing good works! Let’s let our lives shine the reality of Jesus by the good works we do to His praise, honor, and glory!


Heavenly Father,
I thank You for this new day and for all that is within it. I praise You Lord for the reality that the Earth and everything in it are yours. I take hold of the truth which comes from Your Word and know that it is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Help me Lord to have eyes to see and ears to hear and a mind to learn so that I can be prepared to speak truth and life in love to the world around me. Help me Lord to not be blinded by the lies of the devil or the world but that through this life which is an education I am able to accomplish the good works You have prepared in advance for me to accomplish. Help me to be a good steward of every good and precious gift from You so that in the end, I may come before Your throne and hear well done my good and faithful servant. Help me Lord to shine for You! Help me Lord to pour into the lives of the people around me in order that You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

Knowledge and Wisdom are as sweet as honey!


How hungry are you for knowledge? How hungry are you for wisdom? How hard are you willing to work at it? How hard are you willing to wait for it? How hare are you willing to seek for it?

Today’s reading from Ezekiel 3 speaks to the fact that wisdom and knowledge are as sweet as honey!

‘And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. ‘

— from Ezekiel 3:1-3 

Ever noticed where honey is used as a metaphor in God’s Word?

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. –from Proverbs 16:24

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! –from Psalm 119:103

Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. See now, how my eyes have brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. –from 1 Samuel 14:29

Additional honey references can be found here.

 

Ever heard about the impact of today’s reading on the world of history and philosophy? Ever heard about the connection between honey and education? Today’s devotional based on Ezekiel 3:1-3 points to “Honey on the first day of school”. It points to the importance of teaching students the importance of leaning the biblical text and Jewish rabbis during the medieval era started a tradition with their youngest students on their first day of school, by putting honey on the letters of the Hebrew alphabet written on slates and having them lick the honey off the slates to remind them that the Bible’s words are “sweat as honey.” Today’s devotional also speaks of two other honey eating activities – a honey cake inscribed with the words of Isaiah 50:4 and a peeled hard-boiled egg inscribed with the words of Ezekiel 3:3. [Global Impact Bible page 1095 – in Ezekiel 3]

 

The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. –from Isaiah 50:4

 

‘And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. ‘ –from Ezekiel 3:3 


Heavenly Father,
I thank You for this new day and for everything that will be in it. I thank You Lord that Your Word is available to me and speaks to me daily. I thank You Lord that Your Word never returns void but speaks sweet wisdom and knowledge to me for this day. Help me Lord to grab hold of it and to move forward in it today so that I may glorify You in all that I think, say, and do. This is the day that You have made so help me to live it to the full, to rejoice and be glad in it, so that in and through it all, You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

How do you measure or judge success?


Is it based on wealth? Is it based on happiness? Is it based on brains? Is it based on beauty? Is it knowledge? Is it popularity? Is it networking?

How about knowing God and God knowing you? Not just knowledge about God, but a relationship with Him.

How about a relationship with Jesus and receiving the gift of salvation? The gift of eternity spent with God?

How about love? Unconditional love of God? Love that transforms and transcends? Love that sees beyond the surface? Love that changes the heart and the mind?

What does success look like to you? What does it take to have it? Do you have to achieve it or just receive it?

Have you discovered what success really means and looks like?


What You Need to Know

Day 225: Bible in One Year

https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/3420-bible-in-one-year-2017/day/225

  1. The most important knowledge is knowledge of God … Psalm 95:1-11

  1. What matters most is not knowledge but love … 1 Corinthians 7:36-8:13
  2. Seek knowledge but know its limitations … Ecclesiastes 7:1-9:12


Today’s devotional speaks into this, you can follow the links above but here is some points from topic 3 today…

Wisdom and knowledge go hand in hand in the book of Ecclesiastes. Wisdom and knowledge are basically good things:

‘Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun’ (7:11).

‘Wisdom puts more strength in one wise person than ten strong men give to a city’ (v.19, MSG).

‘There’s nothing better than being wise,

   Knowing how to interpret the meaning of life.

Wisdom puts light in the eyes,

   And gives gentleness to words and manners’ (8:1, MSG).

An example of wisdom is that wise people keep their temper under control: ‘Don’t be quick to fly off the handle. Anger boomerangs’ (7:9, MSG).

But, the writer of Ecclesiastes recognises the limits of wisdom and knowledge. First, however much wisdom and knowledge we have, we cannot really discover anything about the future (v.14). Second, there is a danger in being ‘over-wise’. It is possible to have an unhealthy appetite for knowledge that is divorced from God, and so becomes a form of pride:

‘When I determined to load up on wisdom and examine everything taking place on earth, I realised that if you keep your eyes open day and night without even blinking, you’ll still never figure out the meaning of what God is doing on this earth. Search as hard as you like, you’re not going to make sense of it. No matter how smart you are, you won’t get to the bottom of it’ (vv.16–17, MSG).

However wise, rich and powerful a person may be, ‘no one has power over when death comes’ (v.8). ‘Life leads to death. That’s it’ (9:3, MSG). We never know when our lives will end. ‘People do not know when their hour will come’ (v.12).

God alone knows everything. In comparison to him our wisdom and knowledge is very limited. Ultimately we are ‘in God’s hands’ (9:1). We should enjoy life and make the most of our time here. Seize life!… God takes pleasure in your pleasure!… Relish life with the spouse you love each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God’s gift… Make the most of each one!’ (vv.7,9, MSG).

‘Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might’ (v.10a). We need to make the most of every moment and opportunity.

Jesus said, ‘This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent’ (John 17:3). This is the most important knowledge you can ever have. It starts now and goes on into eternity. This knowledge puts every other kind of knowledge in the right perspective.

Lord, thank you that knowing you is the beginning of wisdom. Help me to make the most of every opportunity in life – to do whatever I do with all my might. And help me to do it all in love.

— from Day 225: Bible in One Year


Day 225 of 365 • This day’s reading

Do you realize the impact of you not doing what is right on others?


You realize that when you aren’t doing what is right it has an impact right? You realize the impact isn’t only on you right? You realize it will impact others around you? You realize based on your position or role it could impact a lot of people.

So knowing this, let’s set the bar higher like we are supposed to! Remember how Jesus in Matthew 5 was calling us to a higher standard than the law, the 10 commandments?

27You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  –Matthew 5

What we say makes a difference! What we do makes a difference! What we allow into our minds makes a difference! It’s more than garbage in, garbage out! It’s garbage in, garbage stay! And you don’t want that garbage to stay in your mind!

It doesn’t matter if you try to keep it a secret either! The truth is like a beach ball, it may be fun when it is out in the open, but it’s buoyant and so if you try to hide it under the water, it will eventually surface for everyone to see. So we need to do what is right even when nobody is watching! This is the definition of integrity!

Who has God come to speak into your life? Who has He sent to let you know what is right? The prophets in the Bible came to tell people when they weren’t loving God and when they weren’t loving people! These two things can be used to summary all of the Laws! Put another way love the Lord with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength and secondly, love your neighbor as yourself!


Today’s reading begins in 2 Kings…

The Israelites are Deported to Assyria

1In the twelfth year of King Ahaz of Judah, Hoshea son of Elah became king in Samaria over Israel, and he reigned nine years. 2He did what was evil in Adonai’s eyes, yet not as the kings of Israel who were before him. 3King Shalmaneser of Assyria marched against him, so Hoshea became his vassal and paid him tribute. 4But the king of Assyria caught Hoshea conspiring—he had sent messengers to King So of Egypt, and had not paid the tribute to the king of Assyria as he had done every year. Therefore the king of Assyria seized him and put him in prison. 5Then the king of Assyria invaded the entire country, marched up to Samaria, and besieged it for three years. 6In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He placed them in Halah and Habor, on the Gozan River, and in the towns of the Medes. 7Now it was so because the men of Israel had sinned against Adonai their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods. 8Instead they followed the customs of the nations, whom Adonai had dispossessed before Bnei-Yisrael, yet which the kings of Israel practiced. 9Bnei-Yisrael secretly did things against Adonai their God that were not right. They built shrines for themselves in all their settlements—from watchtowers to fortified cities, 10and they set up pillars and Asherah poles for themselves on every high hill and under every leafy tree. 11There they burned incense on all the high places, like the nations whom Adonai had driven out before them. So they did wicked things to provoke Adonai. 12They worshipped idols, about which Adonai had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.” 13Yet Adonai had forewarned Israel and Judah by the hand of every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the Torah which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by the hand of My servants the prophets.” 14Yet they would not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not trust in Adonai their God. 15So they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies that He testified against them. Instead they went after futile things and became futile, following the nations that surrounded them, about whom Adonai had charged them not to emulate. 16So they abandoned all the mitzvot of Adonai their God. So they made for themselves molten images, two calves, and made an Asherah pole, and bowed down to all the host of heavens, and worshipped Baal, 17and they made their sons and daughters pass through the fire, practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in Adonai’s eyes, to provoke Him. 18So Adonai became very angry with Israel, and banished them from His presence. There was none left but the tribe of Judah alone. 19Even Judah did not keep the mitzvot of Adonai their God, but followed the customs which Israel had practiced. 20So Adonai spurned all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them out of His sight. 21When He had torn Israel from the house of David, they made Jeroboam son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drew Israel away from following Adonai and made them commit a great sin. 22The men of Israel kept walking in all the sins that Jeroboam committed. They did not turn away from them, 23until Adonai banished Israel from His presence, as He spoke by the hand of all His servants the prophets. So Israel has been exiled from their own land to Assyria to this day.

Origin of the Samaritans

24Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria, instead of the men of Israel. So they possessed Samaria and settled in its cities. 25When they first began dwelling there, they did not fear Adonai—so Adonai sent lions among them, which killed some of them. 26Then they spoke to the king of Assyria saying, “The nations that you deported and resettled in the towns of Samaria do not know the requirement of the God of the land. Therefore He has sent lions among them, and behold, they are killing them because they don’t know the requirement of the God of the land.” 27Then the king of Assyria commanded saying, “Send there one of the kohanim whom you have exiled from there. Let them go and live there and teach them the requirement of the God of the land.” 28So one of the kohanim that had been deported from Samaria came and lived in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear Adonai. 29However, every nation kept making its own gods, and put them in the shrines of the high places that the Samaritans had made—every nation in their cities where they settled. 30So the people of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the people of Cuth made Nergal, the people of Hamath made Ashima, 31the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32So they feared Adonai, while they also appointed for themselves from among themselves priests of the shrines, who officiated for them in the shrines of the high places. 33They continued to fear Adonai, but worshipped their own gods, after the custom of the nations from which they had been deported. 34Up to this day, they follow their former customs. Nor do they fear Adonai, or follow the statutes, the ordinances, the Torah or the mitzvot that Adonai commanded the children of Jacob—whom He had renamed Israel. 35With them Adonai had made a covenant, and charged them saying, “You will not fear other gods, or bow down to them, or serve them, or sacrifice to them, 36but only Adonai, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm—Him will you fear, and to Him will you bow down and to Him will you sacrifice. 37The statutes and the ordinances, and the Torah and the mitzvah, which He wrote for you, you will take care to do all the time. You are not to fear other gods. 38The covenant that I have made with you, you will not forget. Nor will you fear other gods, 39but Adonai your God will you fear. Then He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.” 40Yet they did not listen, but they continued their former practices. 41So while these nations feared Adonai, they also worshipped their idols. Their children and grandchildren do as their fathers did to this day.

–from 2 Kings 17

So let’s align with God’s will! Let’s align with God’s way! Let’s allow LOVE to be the focus! Let’s love God! Let’s love one another! Let’s allow vengeance to be God’s rather than something we seek! Let’s allow God to take care of things and work them out for His glory! Let’s be ambassadors for God! Let’s point people to the one and only true God! Let’s help others to see Jesus in and through us! Let’s be used by God so that other can see the fact that God’s Not Dead and is still working on earth today!

Highway in the Wilderness

1The wilderness and dry land will be glad. The desert will rejoice and blossom like a lily. 2It will blossom profusely, will rejoice with joy and singing, will be given the glory of Lebanon, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of Adonai, the splendor of our God. 3Strengthen the limp hands, make firm the wobbly knees. 4Say to those with anxious heart, “Be strong, have no fear!” Behold, your God! Vengeance is coming! God’s recompense—it is coming! Then He will save you. 5Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing. For water will burst forth in the desert and streams in the wilderness. 7The parched land will become a pool, the thirsty ground springs of water. In the haunt of jackals, where they rest, grass will become reeds and rushes. 8A highway will be there—a roadway. It will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it. It is for the one who walks the way. Fools will not go astray. 9No lion will be there. No ravenous beast will go up on it. They will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk there. 10The ransomed of Adonai will return and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

–from Isaiah 35

God created each of us on purpose! God created each of us for a purpose! We aren’t accidents! We are to live in relationship with God so that we can grab hold of His plan and His purpose! His desire is to give us a hope and a future! He didn’t send Jesus to condemn the world, but to save it! So let’s point people to Jesus in the way we live! Let’s point people to Jesus by doing what is right according to His Word! Let’s plant the seeds of the Bible into our hearts and minds so that we can remember them when we are faced with a decision and needing to know what to do! Let’s plant the seeds of the Bible so that we can turn to them and reap a harvest at the right time!

Humanity is God’s Splendor

1For the music director, upon the Gittite lyre: a psalm of David. 2Adonai our Lord, how excellent is Your Name over all the earth! You set Your splendor above the heavens. 3Out of the mouths of babies and toddlers You established power, because of Your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. 4When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You established— 5what is man, that You are mindful of him? And the son of man, that You care for him? 6Yet You made him a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and majesty! 7You gave him dominion over the works of Your hands. You put all things under their feet: 8all sheep and oxen, and also beasts of the field, 9birds in the air, and fish in the ocean— all passing through the paths of the seas. 10Adonai our Lord, how excellent is Your Name over all the earth!

–from Psalms 8

Let’s abide in Jesus! Let’s walk in alignment to Jesus! Let’s walk in obedience to His Word! Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to live in us and to lead us and guide us, teach us and correct us in Jesus’ name. Let’s not wander away but rather let’s stay connected to Jesus! Let’s allow our lives to be pruned of the things that need to go! Let’s allow our lives to be flourish by staying connected to Jesus who is the vine! Let’s produce much fruit for the glory of God’s kingdom! Let’s allow God’s love to flow in and thru us to the world around us!

Abiding in the Vine

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

The World Hates God’s Own

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

–from John 15

Knowing that it really doesn’t hurt you is one thing, but if someone else seeing you do it will mess things up for then, then we shouldn’t do it! It’s more about building others up rather than just puffing ourselves up. Sure we know it and that could puff us up, like the rooster who struts his stuff around the chicken run. But out of love we can build up others by not doing stuff that we know is ok but could send them astray. We don’t know what they have been thru or their vices and so we need to live our lives out of love first because of our knowledge. We don’t want to be become a stumbling block because of it.

Concerning Idol Sacrifices

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

–from 1 Corinthians 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing what is right!


Do you know the difference between right and wrong? Do you know what is hard than knowing what is right? Doing what is right!

What is your source of truth? Is your source of truth dependable? Does it change or fluctuate? If it fluctuates, how can you be sure if it is right, right now? Don’t you need something that doesn’t change in order to know if something is right? Don’t you need a source that doesn’t ebb and flow, but rather is solid and steady? How can things be relative and still be able to help you know if things are right or wrong?

With the fact that the truth will set you free, it points to the fact that to be set free, we need to know what is right! What is just! What is dependable!

Where do you get a set of standards to be able to measure against? Are standards in place to help make things better or worse? If better then why would anyone try to lower standards rather than trying to raise them?

What about average? Is the goal to raise the average or lower it? I would hope to raise it which helps everyone get better! The average shows that everyone or at least the majority of the group is getting better. When you consider it as a grade, like in school, you can only get 100% as a max right and so with 30 kids, if the average is 70% what does that mean for the rest of the class. Even if we consider the largest extremes where the upper part of the class gets 100% each that would mean 21 out of 30 get 100% and 9 out of 30 get 0%. Now if we set priorities so that we raise to the average just 1% what would that mean? At least 1 would have to go from being a 0% to something higher right? Mathematically we would need to add 30 points to the class … either 1 student goes from 0% to 30% or even better those 9 students split the 30% between them, raising the average. Now imagine if we only wanted to raise the average 5%, then we would find worst case scenario 5 of the students get 30% and the other 4 stay at 0%. Now that would be under the assumption that those 21 students kept doing their best and didn’t feel the need to stop trying and not caring about the mood or attitude in the class. It would mean the class as a whole was improving and this is based on using an extreme example. We know that that in a class of 30 it would be rare that 21 of them would get 100% and 9 would get 0% from our first example. So if we reduce the upper end down to 90% in these two scenarios let’s see what the numbers show. Well with the 90% vs 0% it would mean that 24 out of 30 get 90% (which actually adds up to 72% since we can’t have a half a studen. 23 out of 30 gets us close to 70% with a 69% but with the goal of 70% we need 24 students). So to get to 75% with those existing 24 students unchanged, it would mean to get that extra 3% we need to get a lift of 90 points across the remaining 6 students.

So how will we choose to live? Will we choose to live a life that raises the average? Will we choose to raise the bar in hopes that more people will step up and stand for what is right? Will we use a standard that is unchanging? Will we use a standard that is just? Knowing what is right, will that help set the tone and the temperature for society so that the average keeps going up?

Do you realize there is a standard? Do you realize it hasn’t changed in centuries? If we consider the first book ever printed using a printing press in the 1450’s happened to be the standard, it means it’s been around for quite a while.

When was the first Bible printed?

Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1450’s, and the first book to ever be printed was a Latin language Bible, printed in Mainz, Germany. Gutenberg’s Bibles were surprisingly beautiful, as each leaf Gutenberg printed was later colorfully hand-illuminated.

If we consider the best selling book of all time, it points to this same standard. Guinness put the Bible as the #1 non-fiction book.

So what your thoughts around raising the bar? What is your thought on raising the average? What is your thoughts on having standards to make things better? What do you think it is going to take for things to get better? Can’t we start living in a way to make good better and better best? What is your thought on having a reliable source of truth? What is your thought on knowing what is right? What is your thought on doing what is right?

Let’s turn back to God! Let’s point people back to God! Let’s help the world know what is right! Let’s help the world to do what is right!


Today’s reading begins in 2 Kings…

1In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of King Jotham of Judah, began to reign. 2Ahaz was 20 years old when he began to reign, and he reigned 16 years in Jerusalem. But he did not do what was right in the eyes of Adonai his God, as his father David had done. 3Instead he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and even made his son pass through the fire, like the abominations of the nations whom Adonai had dispossessed before Bnei-Yisrael. 4He offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every leafy tree. 5Then King Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of King Remaliah of Israel marched against Jerusalem to wage war. They besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. 6At that time King Rezin of Aram recovered Elath for Aram, and drove the Jews out of Elath. Then the Edomites came to Elath and settled there to this day. 7So Ahaz sent messengers to King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up and deliver me from the hand of the king of Aram and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are rising up against me.” 8Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the House of Adonai and in the treasuries of the royal palace, and sent them as a present to the king of Assyria. 9So the king of Assyria responded to him. The king of Assyria marched up against Damascus and captured it, and deported its inhabitants as captives to Kir and put Rezin to death.

Ahaz Remodels the Temple

10Then King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria and saw the altar that was at Damascus. So King Ahaz sent to Urijah the kohen the pattern of the altar and its model needed for its construction. 11Then Urijah the kohen built an altar according to all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus, and Urijah the kohen finished it by the time King Ahaz returned from Damascus. 12When the king came back from Damascus and saw the altar, the king approached the altar and went up to it. 13Then he burned his burnt offering and his grain offering, poured his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his fellowship offerings on the altar. 14As for the bronze altar that was before Adonai, he moved it from the forefront of the House, from between his altar and the House of Adonai, and put it on the north side of his own altar. 15Then King Ahaz commanded Urijah the kohen saying, “Upon the great altar you will burn the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering, the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land and their grain offering and their drink offering. Also sprinkle on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifices. But the bronze altar will be for me to inquire by.” 16Thus Urijah the kohen did everything just as King Ahaz commanded. 17Then King Ahaz cut off the borders of the stands and removed the laver from them. He also took down the sea from the bronze oxen that were under it and put it on a stone pavement. 18The covered passageway for Shabbat that they had built in the House as well as the outer entry for the king, he removed from the House of Adonai, because of the king of Assyria. 19Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 20Then Ahaz slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. Then his son Hezekiah became king in his place.

–from 2 Kings 16

 Ever heard people use the word sin? Do you know where that comes from? Do you realize it is an old English archery term that means to miss the mark? If you don’t hit the bullseye then you missed the mark. So when people use it to talk about ways people have missed the mark, we need to realize that we have all sinned! We have all missed the mark! It’s not about how much, it’s not about in what way, it’s about the fact that we have! So let’s be encouraging to others! Let’s be peacemakers!

Ahaz’s Sin in the Valley of Ben-hinnom

1Ahaz was 20 years old when he became king, and he reigned 16 years in Jerusalem. But he did not do what was right in the eyes of Adonai as his father David had done, 2but followed the ways of the kings of Israel, and even made molten images for the Baalim. 3Moreover, he burned incense in the valley of Ben-hinnom and burned his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom Adonai had driven out before Bnei-Yisrael. 4He offered sacrifices and burned incense in the high places, on the hills and under every leafy tree. 5Therefore Adonai his God gave him into the hand of the king of Aram who defeated him and took away from him many prisoners and brought them to Damascus. He was also given into the hand of the king of Israel, who inflicted many casualties on him. 6In one day, Pekah the son of Remaliah killed 120,000 valiant soldiers of Judah—because they had forsaken Adonai, the God of their fathers.

Mercy Shown to Judah’s Captives

7Also Zichri, a warrior from Ephraim, killed Maaseiah the king’s son, Azrikam the official in charge of the palace and Elkanah the second to the king. 8Men of Israel carried away captive 200,000 of their kinsmen, women, sons and daughters. They also took away a great deal of plunder from them that they brought to Samaria. 9But a prophet of Adonai named Oded was there and he went out to meet the army on its return to Samaria. He said to them, “Behold, because Adonai, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, He has given them into your hand and you have slaughtered them in a rage that reaches to heaven. 10So now you intend to bring into bondage the children of Judah and Jerusalem as your male and female slaves? Are you not also guilty of transgressions against Adonai your God? 11So now, listen to me. Send back the prisoners you have captured from your kinsmen—for the fierce wrath of Adonai is upon you!” 12Then some of the leaders of the sons of Ephraim—Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berechiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai—confronted those coming from the campaign, 13and said to them, “Do not bring the captives in here, for that would cause us to trespass against Adonai. Do you intend to add to our sins and our guilt? For our guilt is already great, and his fierce anger is already against Israel.” 14So the soldiers released the captives and the plunder in the presence of the chieftains and the entire congregation. 15Then the men designated by name stood up and took the captives, and they clothed all who were naked from the plunder. They gave them clothes and sandals, food and drink, anointed them, led all the feeble ones on donkeys, and brought them back to their kinsmen at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.

Ahaz Leads Judah Into Idolatry

16About that time King Ahaz sent to the kings of Assyria for help. 17Once again the Edomites had come and invaded Judah and taken captives, 18while the Philistines had raided the towns in the foothills and in the South of Judah. They captured and occupied Beth-shemesh, Aijalon and Gederot, as well as Soho, Timnah and Gimzo with their villages. 19For Adonai humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he threw off restraint in Judah and trespassed against Adonai. 20Tilgat-pilneser king of Assyria came against him and afflicted him instead of strengthening him— 21even though Ahaz plundered the House of Adonai, the house of the king and the princes, and gave it to the king of Assyria—it did not help him. 22In his time of distress, this same King Ahaz acted even more unfaithfully to Adonai. 23He even sacrificed to the gods of Damascus after he had been defeated, for he said, “Because the gods of the kings of Aram helped them, I will sacrifice to them and they will help me.” But they caused the downfall of him and all Israel. 24Ahaz even collected the utensils of the House of God and cut the utensils of the House of God into pieces. He shut the doors of the House of Adonai and made himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. 25In every town of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods—provoking Adonai, the God of his fathers. 26Now the rest of his acts and all his ways, the first and the last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 27Then Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of Jerusalem, but he was not brought into the tombs of the kings of Israel. Hezekiah his son became king in his place.

–from 2 Chronicles 28

So will you praise God? Will you praise His Word? Will you praise His grace? Will you praise Him all the time?

From the Rising of the Sun

1Halleluyah! Praise, O servants of Adonai, praise the Name of Adonai. 2Blessed be the Name of Adonai from now and forever. 3From the rising of the sun to its going down the Name of Adonai is to be praised. 4Adonai is high above all nations, His glory is above the heavens. 5Who is like Adonai our God, enthroned on high, 6who brings Himself down to look upon heaven and upon earth? 7He raises the poor from the dust, lifts up the needy out of the dunghill, 8to seat him with princes, with the princes of His people. 9He settles the barren woman in her home as a joyful mother of children. Halleluyah!

.–from Psalms 113

Let’s turn to Jesus! Let’s allow Him to be our leader! Let’s follow after Him and His example so that we can help raise the bar as He has called us to do! He took the law and raised the bar on expectations! Let’s live out the life God created us to live! Let’s go beyond knowing what is right and start living and doing what is right! When you aren’t sure, call out to Jesus! Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment! Read God’s Word!

The Way to the Father’s House

1“Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. 2In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you may also be. 4And you know the way to where I am going.” 5Thomas said to Him, “Master, we don’t know where You are going. How can we know the way?” 6Yeshua said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life! No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7If you have come to know Me, you will know My Father also. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.” 8Philip said to Him, “Master, show us the Father, and it is enough for us. 9Yeshua said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time, and you haven’t come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I say to you, I do not speak on My own; but the Father dwelling in Me does His works. 11Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me—or at least believe because of the works themselves. 12“Amen, amen I tell you, he who puts his trust in Me, the works that I do he will do; and greater than these he will do, because I am going to the Father. 13And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

The Believer’s Helper

15“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 16I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper so He may be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him. You know Him, because He abides with you and will be in you. 18I will not abandon you as orphans; I will come to you. 19In a little while, the world will no longer behold Me, but you will behold Me. Because I live, you also will live! 20“In that day, you will know that I am in My Father, you are in Me, and I am in you. 21He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.” 22Judah (not the one from Kriot) said to Him, “Master, what has happened, that You are about to reveal Yourself to us and not the world?” 23Yeshua answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling with him. 24He who does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. 25These things I have spoken to you while dwelling with you. 26But the Helper, the Ruach ha-Kodesh whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything and remind you of everything that I said to you. 27“Shalom I leave you, My shalom I give to you; but not as the world gives! Do not let your heart be troubled or afraid. 28You’ve heard Me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29I have told you now before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe! 30“I will not talk with you much longer, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has nothing on Me. 31But in order that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. “Get up, let’s go from here!”

–from John 14

So are there ways to help us to do what is right? Do you realize we can turn to God’s love letter to us for help? Do you realize that God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths?

Counsel About Marriage

1Now concerning the things about which you wrote to me, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2But because of much immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3Let the husband fulfill his obligation to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4The wife does not have the rights to her own body, but the husband. Likewise also the husband does not have the rights to his own body, but the wife. 5Do not deprive one another—except by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again, so that satan doesn’t tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6But this I say as a concession, not as a command. 7Yet I wish that all men were like me. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this way and another that. 8But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them to remain as I am. 9But if they do not have self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with desire. 10But to the married I command—not I, but the Lord—a wife is not to be separated from her husband 11(but if she gets separated, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband is not to divorce his wife. 12But to the rest I say—I, not the Lord—if any brother has a wife who is not a believer, and she agrees to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if any woman has a husband who is not a believer, and he agrees to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband is made holy through the wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15But if the unbeliever separates, let him be separated. The brother or the sister is not bound in such cases, but God has called you to shalom. 16For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

Remain As You Were Called

17Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, let him walk in this way. I give this rule in all of Messiah’s communities. 18Was anyone called when he already had been circumcised? Let him not make himself uncircumcised. Has anyone been called while uncircumcised? Let him not allow himself to be circumcised. 19Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing—but keeping God’s commandments matters. 20Let each one remain in the calling in which he was called. 21Were you called as a slave? Don’t let that bother you—but if indeed you can become free, make the most of the opportunity. 22For the one who was called in the Lord as a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise the one who was called while free is Messiah’s slave. 23You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24Brothers and sisters, let each one—in whatever way he was called—remain that way with God. 25Now concerning virgins I have no command from the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26I think then, because of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27Are you bound to a wife? Don’t seek a divorce. Are you free from a wife? Don’t seek a wife. 28But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such people will have trouble in this fleshly life, and I am trying to spare you. 29But this I say, brothers and sisters—the time is short. From now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; 30and those who weep, as though not weeping; and those who rejoice, as though not rejoicing; and those who buy, as though not possessing; 31and those who use the world, as though not using it to the fullest. For the present form of this world is passing away. 32But I want you to be free from cares. An unmarried man cares about the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord; 33but the married man cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife— 34and he is divided. The unmarried woman, as well as the virgin, cares about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But the married woman cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. 35Now I say this for your own benefit—not to put a restraint on you, but to promote proper and constant service to the Lord without distraction. 36But if any man thinks that he is behaving inappropriately toward his virgin, if the time is ripe and it is meant to be, let him do what he decides. He does not sin. Let them marry. 37But he who stands firm in his heart—who has no pressure, but has power over his own will and has so determined in his own heart to keep her a virgin—he will do well. 38So then both he who marries the virgin does well, and he who doesn’t marry her does better. 39A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is free to be married to anyone she wishes—only in the Lord. 40But in my judgment she is happier if she stays as she is—and I also think that I have the Ruach Elohim.

–from 1 Corinthians 7

What’s present? What’s missing?


What’s going on in government? What’s going on at the top? What’s going on in the courts? What’s going on in the corporations? What’s working? What’s not?

What’s present?

What’s missing?


Is there an ethic? Is there a standard? Is there truth? Is there loyalty? Is there integrity? Is there hope? Is there love? Is there knowledge? Is there wisdom? Is there violence? Is there crime? Is there focus? Is there discernment?

Destroyed For Lack of Knowledge

1Hear the word of Adonai, Bnei-Yisrael! For Adonai has a dispute with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, no covenant loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land. 2Curse, deceive, murder, steal, commit adultery! They practice violence, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. 3Therefore the land will mourn, and everyone dwelling in it will languish along with the beasts of the field and the flying creatures of the sky— even the fish of the sea will be removed. 4Yet let no one dispute and let no one argue. Your people are like a kohen who makes quarrels. 5So you will stumble by day. Also a prophet will stumble with you by night, when I destroy your mother. 6My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Since you rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being My kohen. Since you forgot the Torah of your God, just so I will forget your children. 7The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Me. I will change their glory into disgrace. 8They feed on the sin of My people and relish their iniquity. 9But it will be like people, like kohen. So I will punish them for their ways, and repay them for their deeds. 10They have eaten but will not be satisfied. They have fornicated but will not increase. For they stopped giving heed to Adonai. 11Prostitution and wine—even new wine— it takes away understanding. 12My people consult their wooden idol and their divining rod informs them. For a spirit of prostitution leads them astray and they have been a prostitute— out from under their God. 13They sacrifice on the mountaintops and on the high places they burn incense under oak poplar, and terebinth— for its shade is good. Therefore your daughters are prostitutes and your daughters-in-law commit adultery. 14Will I not punish your daughters for prostitution or your daughters-in-law for adultery? For they consort with prostitutes, and they sacrifice with cult prostitutes. A people without understanding will be thrust down. 15Though you, Israel, are a prostitute, let Judah not become guilty. But do not come to Gilgal or go up to Beth-aven, and do not swear: ‘As Adonai lives!’ 16For Israel is stubborn like a stubborn cow. Now Adonai will pasture them like a lamb in the open field. 17Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone! 18Their liquor has come to an end. They surely have practiced prostitution. Her rulers have deeply loved disgrace. 19A wind will wrap her up in its wings. They will be ashamed of their sacrifices.

–from Hosea 4

Are people accountable? Are people just? Are people truthful? Are people upright? Are people honest? Are people acting with integrity? Are people building up standards? Are people tearing them down? Are people trying to keep high standards or move to the lowest common denominator?

Judgment for Betrayal

1Hear this, O priests! Pay attention, O house of Israel! Give ear, O house of the king! For the judgment applies to you: For you were a snare at Mizpah and a net spread on Tabor. 2Rebels were deep in slaughter, so I am a chastisement for them all. 3I myself have known Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me. For now, Ephraim, you are a prostitute— Israel is defiled! 4They will not give up their evil deeds to return to their God. For a spirit of prostitution is in them, and Adonai they have not known. 5The Pride of Israel will answer to his face: Israel and Ephraim will stagger in their iniquity, Judah also will stumble with them. 6With their flocks and with their herds they will go to seek Adonai, but they will not find Him— He has withdrawn from them. 7They have betrayed Adonai, for they have begotten foreign children. Now the New Moon will devour them, with their portions. 8Blow a shofar in Gibeah, a trumpet in Ramah! Sound an alarm at Beth-aven: “Behind you, Benjamin!” 9Ephraim will become desolate in the day of rebuke. Among the tribes of Israel I made known what is certain. 10The princes of Judah were like those who move a boundary mark. I pour out My fury on them like water. 11Oppressed is Ephraim, crushed by judgment, for he willingly followed a worthless thing. 12So, I will be like a moth to Ephraim and like decay to the house of Judah. 13When Ephraim saw his sickness and Judah his wound, Ephraim went to Assyria and sent envoys to a warring king. But he cannot heal you nor will he cure your wound. 14For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear and go away. I will carry off, and nobody will rescue. 15I will go and return to My place until they admit their guilt. Then they will seek My face. In their distress they will seek Me earnestly:

–from Hosea 5

Do people live in humility? Do people treat others right? Do people love? Will they love God and love people? Will they treat people wirh respect? Will they be servant leaders?

How about you? Where are you at? Will you lead by example? Will you lead with a servant’s heart? Will you humble yourself for yourself and the sake of others? Will you reach out to make a difference? Will you be Jesus with skin on to the world around you?

We need to be loyal to God! Loyalty is more important than sacrifice? Put another way, obedience to God is more important than sacrifice! Will we align to God and go it His ways rather than going through the motions of being holier than thou but missing the big picture? Follow the rules to a t but then miss out on the compassion and service God also wants from us? We need to do both! We need to do more than just going through the motions so that people around us think it’s all taken care of.

Prayer of Teshuvah

1Come, let us return to Adonai. For He has torn, but He will heal us. He has smitten, but He will bind us up. 2After two days He will revive us. On the third day He will raise us up, and we will live in His presence. 3So let us know, let us strive to know Adonai. Like dawn His going forth is certain. He will come to us like the rain, like the latter rain watering the earth.

Covenant Loyalty More Than Sacrifice

4“O Ephraim, what shall I do for you? O Judah, what will I do for you? For your loyalty is like a morning cloud or like dew rising early, vanishing. 5Therefore I cut them down by the prophets. I slew them by the words of My mouth. Now the judgments pronounced against you: light will go forth. 6For I delight in loyalty and not sacrifice, knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. 7But like Adam, they transgressed a covenant. There they dealt treacherously with Me. 8Gilead is a city of evildoers, tracked with bloody footprints. 9Like marauding bands waiting for a man, so a company of priests murders on the way toward Shechem. For they have committed crime. 10In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing: Ephraim’s prostitution is there, Israel has become unclean. 11Also, Judah, there is a harvest for you, when I return My people from captivity.”

–from Hosea 6

Do you realize what is going on? What’s going on in your heart? What are you hiding in your mind? There is nothing hidden from God! He knows it all! So will you humble yourself and pray? Will you humble yourself and turn from your wicked or evil ways and turn back to God? Will you turn back to God and ask Him for forgiveness? If you will then He will forgive your sin and heal your land!

Don’t be so proud that you keep walking away from God! Don’t be so proud that you think you can keep living outside of His protection and covering! If you don’t turn back before it is too late, you run the risk of being cut off and left apart forever! That’s not what God wants! His plan was that everyone would turnback  and be saved! God so loves the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever would believe on Him would not perish but have everlasting life! Don’t believe me? Check out His own Word in the Bible!

Not everyone will, but what would it take for you to?

Iniquity of Senseless Ephraim

1“When I would have healed Israel, the iniquity of Ephraim was uncovered, even the wickedness of Samaria, for they practice fraud. So a thief breaks in; a marauding band will raid outside. 2But they never admit in their heart that I remember all their evil. Now their deeds are all around them. They are right before My face. 3They gladden the king with their evil and the princes with their lies. 4All of them are practicing adultery, as an oven heated by a baker who stops stirring or kneading dough when it is leavened. 5On the day of our king, princes become sick from wine. His hand drags scorners along. 6For their hearts are like an oven, as they wait in ambush. All night their anger smolders. In the morning it burns like a blazing fire. 7All of them are hot like an oven, and they devour their rulers. All of their kings have fallen. None among them calls on Me. 8Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples. Ephraim has become a pancake that never gets turned over. 9Strangers devoured his strength— yet he does not know it. Gray hairs have spread on him— and he does not know it. 10Though the Pride of Israel has answered him to his face, yet they did not return to Adonai their God, nor seek Him about all this. 11Ephraim is like a senseless silly dove, they call to Egypt; they go to Assyria. 12As they are going, I will spread out My net over them, I will bring them down like a bird from the sky. I will chasten them as in the report that comes to their assembly. 13Oy to them! For they strayed from Me. Devastation to them! For they rebelled against Me. Should I redeem them after they spoke lies about Me? 14Nor did they not cry to Me in their heart when they were wailing on their beds. For the sake of grain and new wine they slash themselves— they keep turning away from Me. 15I trained and strengthened their arms, yet they kept planning evil against Me. 16They will turn back—only not upwards. They are like a treacherous bow. Their princes will fall by the sword because of the insolence with their tongues. This will be for their ridicule in the land of Egypt.

–from Hosea 7

So…how will it go in your life? What role will you play? How will you choose to go? How will you choose to live? What character will you play in this thing called life? Do you realize that Jesus has already paid it all? He paid the fine for your behavior! Will you choose to accept it? Will you choose to receive it? Or will you be too proud and so proud that you will try to get through life on your on, on your own terms, in your own way?

Will you live with integrity? Will you live with loyalty? Will you live with truth? Will you live with love? Will you live with hope? Will you share the Good News that you received?

Know how to win? LOVE! Know how to succeed? LOVE! Know how to be victorious? LOVE!

LOVE ends the argument!

Taking the Kingdom by Force

1Yeshua began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a hedge around it, dug a pit for the winepress, and built a tower. He leased it to some tenant farmers and went on a journey. 2And at the season, he sent a servant to collect from the tenants part of the vineyard’s fruit. 3But grabbing him, they beat him up and sent him away empty-handed. 4And again the man sent another servant to them, and they wounded his head and treated him shamefully. 5He sent another, and that one they killed; and so on with many others, beating some and killing some. 6He had yet one, a well-loved son. He sent him to them last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son. 7“But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir! Come on, let’s kill him and the inheritance will be ours!’ 8So grabbing the son, they killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. 9“What then will the master of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10Haven’t you read this Scripture? ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this has become the chief cornerstone. 11This came from Adonai, and it is marvelous in our eyes.’” 12They were trying to seize Yeshua, because they realized that He spoke the parable against them. But they feared the crowd, so they left Him and went away.

A Test of Loyalty

13Then they send some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Yeshua in order to trap Him with a word. 14They come and say to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are honest, and what others think doesn’t concern You. You don’t look at men’s appearance, but teach the way of God according to the truth. Is it permitted to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? 15Should we pay, or shouldn’t we?” But Yeshua saw through their hypocrisy and said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius so I may see it.” 16They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they said to Him. 17Then Yeshua said to them, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were completely amazed at Him.

The Challenge of the Sadducees

18Then Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came and began questioning Yeshua, saying, 19“Teacher, Moses wrote for us that ‘if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, then his brother should take the widow and father children for his brother.’ 20There were seven brothers; and the first took a wife and, when he died, left no offspring. 21And the second took her and died, leaving no offspring, and the third likewise. 22Now the seven left no offspring. Last of all, the woman died, too. 23In the resurrection, when they rise up, whose wife will she be? For all seven had married her.” 24Yeshua said to them, “Isn’t this the reason you’ve gone astray, because you don’t understand the Scriptures or the power of God? 25For when they rise up from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26But concerning the dead being raised, haven’t you read in the book of Moses about the burning bush? How God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27He’s not the God of the dead, but of the living. You have gone far astray!”

Love Ends the Argument

28One of the Torah scholars came and heard them debating. Seeing that Yeshua had answered them well, he asked Him, “Which commandment is first of all?” 29Yeshua answered, “The first is, ‘Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. 30And you shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32“Well said, Teacher,” the Torah scholar said to Him. “You have spoken the truth, that He is echad, and besides Him there is no other! 33And ‘to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love the neighbor as oneself,’ is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34When Yeshua saw that he had answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared any longer to question Him.

Who Is King David’s Lord?

35While Yeshua was teaching in the Temple, He said, “How is it that the Torah scholars say that the Messiah is Ben-David? 36David himself, through the Ruach ha-Kodesh, said, ‘Adonai said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, until I put Your enemies under Your feet.”’ 37If David himself calls Him ‘Lord,’ in what way is He his son?” And the large crowd was listening to Him with delight. 38In His teaching He said, “Watch out for the Torah scholars, who like to walk around in long robes. They like greetings in the marketplaces, 39the best seats in the synagogues, and places of honor at feasts. 40They devour widows’ houses and make long prayers as a show. These men will receive greater condemnation!” 41He sat down opposite the treasury and began watching how the people were putting money into the offering box. Many rich people were putting in a lot. 42Then a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, worth less than a penny. 43Calling His disciples over, He said to them, “Amen, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those contributing to the box! 44For they all put in from their surplus; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had, her whole living.”

–from Mark 12

 

You can have anything. What would you ask for?


How would you answer? What would you say? Are you ready?

Would you ask for material things? House? Car? Clothe?

Would you ask for wealth? Money? Stocks? Gold and precious metals?

Would you ask for favor? Lots of friends? Lots of people you know?

Would you ask for power? Control?

Would you ask for peace? No more violence? No more war? No more death?

Would you ask for things for yourself? for others?

Would you ask for something that only benefits you? would benefit a multitude of people?

Would you ask for revenge? Would you ask for justice? Would you ask for mercy? Would you ask for grace? Would you ask for love?

Would you ask for wisdom? Understanding? Insight? Direction?

Where is your heart at today? Are you in a good state of mind to be able to answer such a question? Today’s reading starts on just this subject when God asks Solomon what he wants…

Solomon Asks for Wisdom

1Then Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt by marriage, taking Pharaoh’s daughter, and bringing her to the city of David, until he finished building his own house, the House of Adonai, and the wall around Jerusalem. 2The people, however, were still sacrificing on the high places, because there was no House built for the Name of Adonai until those days. 3Now Solomon loved Adonai, walking in the statutes of his father David, except he kept sacrificing and burning incense on the high places. 4So the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place. Upon this very altar Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings. 5At Gibeon Adonai appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said: “Ask for what should I give you?” 6Solomon said: “You have shown my father Your servant David great lovingkindness, as he walked before You in truth, righteousness and uprightness of heart toward You. Indeed, You have kept this great lovingkindness for him by giving him a son to sit on his throne, as it is today. 7So now, Adonai my God, You have made Your servant king in my father David’s place. I am but a youth. I don’t know how to go out or come in. 8Your servant is amid Your people, whom You have chosen—a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. 9So give Your servant a mind of understanding to judge Your people, to discern between good and evil—for who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” 10Now it was pleasing in the eyes of Adonai that Solomon requested this thing. 11So God said to him: “Because you asked for this thing—and have not asked for yourself long life, nor asked for yourself riches, nor asked for the life of your enemies, but asked for yourself understanding to discern justice— 12behold, I have done according to your words. I have given you a wise and discerning mind, so that there has been none like you before you, nor shall anyone like you arise after you. 13Moreover I have also given you what you did not request—both riches and honor—so that no one among the kings will be like you all your days. 14Furthermore, if you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” 15Then Solomon awoke and took note of the dream. So he went to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered up burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then he made a feast for all his courtiers.

Judging Between Two Women

16Later two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17One woman said: “My lord, please! This woman and I live in the same house, and I delivered a child while she was in the house. 18On the third day after I gave birth, this woman also gave birth to a child. While we were together with no one else with us in the house, just the two of us in the house, 19this woman’s child died during the night, because she lay on top of him. 20Then she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while your handmaid was asleep. She laid him at her breast and laid her dead child at my breast. 21When I rose in the morning to nurse my child, he had just died! But when I looked at him closely in the morning, I realized that he was not the son I had borne!” 22But the other woman said, “No! For the living one is my son, and the dead one is your son!” But the first woman said, “No! The dead one is your son and the living one is my son!” Thus they spoke before the king. 23Then said the king: “The one says, ‘This is my son who is living, and your son is the dead,’ while the other says, ‘No, but your son is the dead one and my son is the living one.’” 24Then the king said: “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king. 25Then the king said: “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” 26Then the woman whose son was the living one spoke up to the king—for her heart grew tender for her son—and said, “My lord, please! Give her the living child! Only don’t kill him!” But the other said, “It will be neither mine nor yours! Cut it in two!” 27Then the king responded by saying, “Give her the living child and certainly don’t kill him. She is the mother.” 28When all Israel heard of the verdict that the king had given, they were in awe of the king. For they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.

–from 1 Kings 3

Will you be selfless or selfish? Will you be asking our of love and purpose? Will you be asking in humility and grace? Will you ask for the intangible thing of wisdom and knowledge in order to be able to better do what God is calling you to do?

Solomon Asks for Wisdom at Gibeon

1Now Solomon the son of David firmly established himself over his kingdom. For Adonai his God was with him and made him exceedingly great. 2Solomon spoke to all Israel—to the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, to the judges and to every leader in all Israel, the leading patriarchs— 3and Solomon and the whole assembly with him went to the high place that was at Gibeon, for the Tent of Meeting of God was there, which Moses the servant of Adonai had made in the wilderness. 4Now David had brought up the Ark of God from Kiriath-jearim to the place that David had prepared for it because he had pitched a tent for it in Jerusalem. 5But the bronze altar that Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur had made was there in front of the Tabernacle of Adonai, and Solomon and the assembly inquired of Him there. 6So Solomon went up before Adonai to the bronze altar that was at the Tent of Meeting and offered 1,000 burnt offerings on it. 7That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask! What should I give you?” 8Solomon answered God, “You have shown great lovingkindness to my father David and now You have made me king in his place. 9Now, Adonai Elohim, let Your word to my father David be fulfilled for You have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10Now give me wisdom and knowledge that I may go out and come in before this people. For who can govern this great people of Yours?” 11Then God said to Solomon, “Since this was in your heart and you have not asked for riches, possessions or honor, nor for the life of those who hate you and have not even asked for long life but have asked for wisdom and knowledge for yourself—so you can govern My people over whom I have made you king— 12wisdom and knowledge will be given to you. Moreover, I will give you riches, possessions and honor, such as none of the kings who were before you ever had and none after you will have.” 13Then Solomon went to Jerusalem from the high place that was at Gibeon, from in front of the Tent of Meeting. So he reigned over Israel.

Horses and Chariots from Egypt

14Solomon accumulated chariots and horsemen. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, which he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. 15The king made silver and gold as plentiful in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars as plentiful as sycamores in the foothills. 16Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Keve—the king’s merchants purchased them from Keve at a price. 17They imported a chariot from Egypt for 600 talents of silver and a horse for 150. So by the same means they were exported to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Aram.

Solomon Prepares to Build

18Then Solomon vowed to build a House for the Name of Adonai, as well as a royal palace for himself.

–from 2 Chronicles 1

Would you ask for wisdom and knowledge? Would you ask to be righteous and just? Would you ask to be able to be just to everyone – from the richest to the poorest so that they all receive justice? Would you ask to get to be a servant? a helper?

A Powerful King for the Poor

1Of Solomon. Give the king Your judgments, O God, and Your righteousness to the king’s son. 2May he judge Your people with righteousness, and Your poor ones with justice. 3Let the mountains bring shalom to the people, and the hills righteousness. 4May he vindicate the poor of the people, save the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor. 5Let them fear You while the sun endures, and while the moon lasts, throughout all generations. 6May he be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the ground. 7Let the righteous flourish in his days. Let shalom abound till the moon is no more. 8May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. 9Let desert dwellers bow before him, and his enemies lick the dust. 10May kings of Tarshish and the islands bring tribute, kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts. 11So let all kings bow down before him, and all nations serve him. 12For he rescues the needy crying for help, also the poor and the one with no helper. 13He will take pity on the poor and needy, and the souls of the needy he will save. 14From oppression and violence he redeems their soul, for precious is their blood in his sight. 15Long may he live! May gold from Sheba be given to him. May he pray for him continually, and bless him all day. 16Let there be abundance of grain in the land. Let it sway on the top of the hills, let its fruit be like Lebanon, and let people of the city flourish like grass of the field. 17May his name endure forever. May his name increase before the sun, and may all nations be blessed by him and call him blessed. 18Blessed be Adonai Elohim, God of Israel, who alone does wonders. 19Blessed be His glorious Name forever. May all the earth be filled with His glory! Amen and Amen! 20The prayers of David son of Jesse are complete.

–from Psalms 72

If Jesus was willing to humble himself, why shouldn’t we? If Jesus was willing to lower himself to our level, why should we think we should be raised up?

Let’s be humble! Let’s serve! Let’s allow Jesus to be seen in and through us to the world around us! Let’s just trust God and His plan and His purpose! We knows it’s good, so let’s trust Him!

Let’s mature and move forward! Let’s not get stuck and remain as children without wisdom! Let’s receive God’s Word and let’s move forward believing and trusting in it! Let’s be living to do good! Let’s be living to overcome and overwhelm evil!

1For every kohen gadol taken from among men is appointed to act on behalf of people in matters relating to God, so that he may offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2He is able to empathize with the ignorant and deluded, since he himself also is subject to weakness. 3For this reason he has to make offerings for sins—just as for the people, so also for himself. 4And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when he is called by God, as Aaron was. 5So also Messiah did not glorify Himself to be made Kohen Gadol; rather, it was God who said to Him, “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father.” 6And He says in a different passage, “You are a kohen forever, according to the order of Melechizedek .” 7In the days of His life on earth, Yeshua offered up both prayers and pleas, with loud crying and tears, to the One able to save Him from death; and He was heard because of His reverence. 8Though He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered. 9And once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him— 10called by God Kohen Gadol “according to the order of Melechizedek .”

Moving on to Maturity

11About this subject there is much for us to say, and it is hard to explain since you have become sluggish in hearing. 12For although you ought to be teachers by this time, again you need someone to teach you the basics of God’s sayings. You have come to need milk, not solid food. 13For anyone living on milk is inexperienced with the teaching about righteousness—he is an infant. 14But solid food is for the mature, who through practice have their senses trained to discern both good and evil.

–from Hebrews 5

In this world we will have challenges! we will have troubles! But don’t fear! don’t lose hope! for Jesus has overcome the world! Stick with Him and follow after Him and His ways!

Temptation in the Wilderness

1Yeshua, now filled with the Ruach ha-Kodesh, returned from the Jordan. He was led by the Ruach in the wilderness
2for forty days, being tested by the devil. Now He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He was hungry.
3The devil said to Him, “If You are Ben-Elohim, tell this stone to become bread.”
4Yeshua answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”
5And leading Him up, the devil showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in an instant.
6And the devil said to Him, “I’ll give to You all this authority along with its glory, because it has been handed over to me and I can give it to anyone I wish.
7Therefore, if you will worship before me, all this shall be Yours.”
8But answering, Yeshua told him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship Adonai your God, and Him only shall you serve.’”
9Then he brought Yeshua to Jerusalem and placed Him on the highest point of the Temple. He said to Him, “If You are Ben-Elohim, throw Yourself down from here.
10For it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you,’
11and ‘upon their hands they will lift you up, so that you may not strike your foot against a stone.’”
12But answering, Yeshua said to him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put Adonai your God to the test.’”
13And when the devil had completed every test, he departed from Him until another occasion.

Isaiah’s Prophecy Fulfilled in Natzeret

14Yeshua returned in the power of the Ruach to the Galilee, and news about Him went out through all the surrounding region.
15He taught in their synagogues, and everyone was praising Him.
16And He came to Natzeret, where He had been raised. As was His custom, He went into the synagogue on Shabbat, and He got up to read.
17When the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him, He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18“The Ruach Adonai is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed,
19and to proclaim the year of Adonai’s favor.”
20He closed the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue were focused on Him.
21Then He began to tell them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your ears.”
22All were speaking well of Him and marveling at the gracious words coming out of His mouth. And they were saying, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”
23But He said to them, “Doubtless you will say to Me this proverb, ‘Doctor, heal yourself!’ and ‘What we have heard was done at Capernaum, do as much here also in your hometown.’”
24But He said, “Truly, I tell you, ‘No prophet is accepted in his own hometown.’
25But with all truthfulness I say to you, that there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when heaven was closed for three and a half years and there came a great famine over all the land.
26Elijah was not sent to any of them, but only to Zarephath in the land of Sidon, to a widowed woman.
27There were many with tza’arat in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them were purified apart from Naaman the Syrian.”
28Now all in the synagogue were filled with rage upon hearing these things.
29Rising up, they drove Him out of the town and brought Him as far as the edge of the mountain on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him off the cliff.
30But passing through the middle of them, He went on His way.

Healing and Deliverance in Capernaum and Beyond

31Yeshua came down to Capernaum, a town in the Galilee. He was teaching them on Shabbat,
32and they were astounded at His teaching because His message had authority.
33In the synagogue was a man who had an unclean demonic spirit, and he cried out with a loud voice,
34“Ah! What have we to do with You, Yeshua of Natzeret? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are! You are the Holy One of God!”
35Yeshua rebuked him, saying, “Quiet! Come out of him!” And when the demon threw him down in their midst, it came out without hurting him.
36They were all amazed, and they spoke to one another, saying, “What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”
37So His reputation grew, spreading to every place in that region.
38After He left the synagogue, Yeshua entered Simon’s home. Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they petitioned Him concerning her.
39Then standing over her, He rebuked the fever and it left her. Immediately she arose to wait on them.
40When the sun was setting, they brought to Yeshua all who were sick with various diseases. And He was laying hands on each one and healing them.
41Even demons were coming out from many, shouting out and saying, “You are Ben-Elohim!” But He was rebuking them and not permitting them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Messiah.
42Now when it was day, He left and went to a desert place. The crowds were searching for Him, and they came to Him and were trying to keep Him from leaving them.
43But He said to them, “I must proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God to the other towns also. It was for this purpose I was sent.”
44So He kept preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

–from Luke 4

 

 

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


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

Today’s reading begins speaking to this area…

Sprouting of Aaron’s Rod

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

–from Numbers 17

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

Kohen Duties and Portions

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

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

–from Numbers 18

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

God Is the Strength of My Heart

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

–from Psalms 73

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

Concerning Idol Sacrifices

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

–from 1 Corinthians 8

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

 A Mitzvah on Shabbat

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

Crowds Clamor for Yeshua

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

Appointing the Twelve

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

Binding the Strong Man

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

A Spiritual Family Begins

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

–from Mark 3