Is what you are pursuing causing you to need more?

Are you trying to fill that hole but never having enough? Are you always feeling like you need more of everything you ever get? When will enough be enough? When will you be able to find contentment? What are you pursuing? Self-contentment? Self-pleasure? Self-worth? Are you facing the problem that you are looking the wrong way? What will it take to satisfy you? What will it take to get to the point of saying enough?

What if there were things that you would add or get more of that would satisfy you? What if there were things that you would add or get more of that would fill you? What if there were things that you would add or get more of that would complete you?

Would you be interested? Would you be willing to receive it?

What if it was less of a matter of getting more and became more of a posture change to receiving more? What if instead of grabbing to get more you were open handed in order to receive all that God has for you?

Will you invite Jesus into your heart? Will you allow Him to be both your savior and your Lord? Will you build a relationship with Him so that no matter what comes your way you know you can make it through? Will today be the day things are different and change?

Today’s devotional breaks it out into the following “more” things that can help you…


Day 284: Bible In One Year 2017

  1. More wisdom from God … Proverbs 24:23-34

    • Judge impartially
    • Speak honestly
    • Stay loyal
    • Show restraint
    • Work hard
  2. More pleasing to God … 1 Thessalonians 4:1-18

    • Give dignity to your body
    • Live a beautiful life
    • Love each other
    • Mind your own business
    • Get a job, if you can
    • Enjoy an endless hope
  3. More listening to God … Jeremiah 23:9-25:14

We need to be more focused on our relationship with God than comparing ourselves to others! We need to be more focused on God’s purpose in and through our lives than on selfish desires and ideas! We need to be focused on loving God and loving people so that how we live our lives and what we do and say glorify our Heavenly Father!

He pours into our in those cases to overflowing so that we can pour into the lives of the people He brings into our lives!

So let’s dig deeper into God’s Word and check out today’s reading for the day…

Let’s look to live selflessly!

It’s not Jesus +, Jesus is enough!

If it is just you and Jesus, then you have enough! It makes a difference! How far can you go on your own? How much can you do in your own strength? How much knowledge can one person have? But with Jesus, all things are possible!

Jesus is more than enough! No matter what we face, Jesus is enough! No matter what we need, Jesus is enough! No matter what it’s going to take, Jesus is enough!

Ever considered all the things that are impossible? Are they? What reality or facts make it impossible? What truths make it impossible? Consider the idea that it is easier for a rich person to walk through the eye of a needle than to get into heaven… impossible some may say. But with Jesus, all things are possible! God is able to work in and through rich people to serve the needy community and to have a transformed heart when they ask Jesus into it! Nothing is impossible with God! So we need to go beyond routines and rituals which is how I viewed God and church growing up and move into the reality of relationship and intimacy with God! It’s all about building a relationship with Jesus! It is so far beyond just doing the right things, saying the right things, thinking the right things, the order of things, it is all about relationship with Jesus! When that lightbulb went off, my life was transformed forever! It took me over 30 years before that happened. I felt God’s calling and did what I felt He was asking of me, but somehow thru the experiences, the rituals, the routines of the church, I never got the reality that it was about a relationship with Jesus! Until that day when God moved me out of my comfort zone, He brought me to a place with a different experience that felt like home, and then my wife and I both realized the reality of what it was supposed to be about! Our lives were transformed as God started a new life in us! He poured His Spirit into our lives and got us up and running fast – I tend to use the analogy of Him putting a jet pack on us to help us get caught up with where He desired for us to be! It put us in a better situation where our kids are getting to be a part of a family that serves the Lord and now I was as they grow up and step into leadership roles in order to serve God more, they go out and serve kids at camp, they go out and serve the community through food programs, they go out and serve the world through mission trips. And I know that none of this would of or could have happened without that divine encounter with Jesus when I realized and we realize (my wife and I) that it was so much more than just routine and rituals but it was about having a life long relationship with Jesus!

The way I look at people is different! My outlook on life is different! The joy of the Lord is my strength! I let that light and joy shine in and through me! In the midst of storm and stress, His peace that goes beyond all understanding is able to come in and calm the storm or calm the storm in me in order to help me lean on Him and accomplish His will and His purpose!

There were things that I was carrying without knowing it. There were responses that I had without knowing why I would respond in that way. I was freed from them by Jesus through Cleansing Stream retreat where the power and reality of forgiveness came lifting the weights and curing the responses from my life!

I learned the power of forgiveness! It’s not after they do … you will forgive them, it is about forgiving them first! When you don’t forgive, then you end up living through a time where it is like you are taking poison and expecting the other person to die, all the while you are being eaten from the inside out! I learned it the hard way and have had to continue to remind myself over and over again! Jesus paid it all for my mistakes, even before I turned to Him, so why should be any different in how we are supposed to live too!

I learn the importance of starting my day with God as it impacts the rest of my day! When I start my day off with God and in His Word, it kick-starts the day so that every day can be a “Happy” day! When I have had to miss it for some reason, I can tell because I have an edge that isn’t normally there, a block on my shoulder in how I respond, but when I invite Jesus in and we kick the day off right, things start out on a better foundation!

There had been a time where our excuses was that we were too busy for church and for God. Now we are too busy to not stay connected to God because without Him we couldn’t make it a reality!

Don’t be left behind! Don’t try to go it alone! Don’t believe the lies of the world!

Invite Jesus into your life and start a real living relationship with Him who is alive, not a god out there somewhere, but God right here with us! He is always there and so invite Him into every situation! Go beyond rituals and routines! Go beyond schedules and meetings! Walk through your day with Jesus, asking for wisdom about things, asking for discernment about decisions you are needing to make! It doesn’t take a long dissertation because He knows your thoughts and He knows your needs, so all that is needed is to ask! Like we read in Matthew 7:7… Ask, Seek, Knock

7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. –from Matthew 7:7

We need to make Him our top priority and seek His kingdom and His righteousness like we read in Matthew 6:33 …

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. –from Matthew 6:33

So invite Jesus in today! Make it more than just routine! Make it so much more than just rituals! Make it about a living relationship with Him! And realize that you have all you need! You + Jesus = more than enough!

And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity.

–from 2 Corinthians 9:8

What Difference Does Jesus Make?

Day 266: Bible In One Year 2017

  1. Permanent forgiveness … Psalm 110:1-7
  2. Peace and reconciliation … Ephesians 2:1-22
  3. Purpose and meaning … Isaiah 55:1-57:13


Today’s reading from God’ Word:


Bullet points from today’s devotional as it relates to Jesus …

  • King of kings (Psalm 110:5)
  • Great High Priest (Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 7:16–22)

Life without Jesus is described as:

  • ‘dead in your transgressions and sins’ (v.1)
  • following ‘the ways of the world’ (v.2)
  • ‘gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts’ (v.3a)
  • ‘objects of wrath’ (v.3b)
  • ‘separate from Christ’ (v.12a)
  • ‘outsiders to God’s ways’ (v.11, MSG)
  • ‘foreigners to the covenants of the promise’ (v.12b)
  • ‘without hope’ (v.12c)
  • ‘without God in the world’ (v.12c)
  • ‘far away’ (v.13)
  • separated by the ‘dividing wall of hostility’ (v.14b)
  • ‘strangers or outsiders’ (v.19, MSG).

Life with Jesus is described as:

  • ‘raised up with Christ’ (v.6)
  • ‘seated with him in the heavenly realms’ (v.6)
  • ‘God’s masterpiece’ (v.10, NLT)
  • ‘created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do’ (v.10)
  • ‘brought near through the blood of Christ’ (v.13)
  • ‘reconciled to God through the cross’ (v.16)
  • ‘access to the Father by one Spirit’ (v.18)
  • ‘fellow-citizens with God’s people’ (v.19)
  • ‘members of God’s household’ (v.19)
  • ‘a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit’ (v.22).


Four reasons to come to Jesus:

  1. Jesus alone can satisfy the hunger in your heart
  2. Jesus’ love and mercy is great
  3. Jesus is the life transformer
  4. Jesus has a purpose for your life


Jesus is more than enough! He can fill that void you feel in your heart!

Less is More. God is enough.

Today, in the idea of today’s topic, I am going to let God’s Word speak for itself …

1Do not be quick with your mouth nor hasty in your heart to utter a word in God’s presence. For God is in heaven, and you are on the earth— therefore, let your words be few. 2As a dream comes with excessive burdens so a fool’s voice with too many words. 3When you swear a vow to God, don’t delay in fulfilling it. For He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! 4It is better for you not to vow than to vow and not pay. 5Don’t let your mouth lead your flesh to sin, and don’t say before the messenger, “It was a mistake!” Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? 6Many dreams and many words are meaningless. Therefore, fear God!

Bureaucratic Oppression

7If you see the oppression of the poor or perversion of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the matter. For one authority watches over another authority, and higher ones are over them. 8Though the profit of the land is taken by all, a king is served by the fields.

Futility of Wealth

9A lover of money never has enough money, and a lover of wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is futile. 10When goods increase, so do those who consume them. So what advantage are they to the owner except he sees it with his eyes? 11The sleep of the laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much— but the excess of the rich permits him no sleep. 12There is a grievous wrong that I have seen under the sun: wealth hoarded by its owner to his own hurt, 13or wealth lost in a bad investment, and when he fathers a son, there is nothing in his hand. 14As he came from his mother’s womb, naked he will return as he came. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. 15This too is a grievous wrong. Just as he came, so will he go, so what does he gain, from his toiling for the wind? 16So, all his days he eats in darkness, and he has much grief, sickness, and humiliation. 17Behold, this is what I myself have seen. It is beneficial and good for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy all of his toil that he labors under the sun during the few days of his life that God has given him—for this is his reward. 18Additionally, everyone to whom God has given riches and wealth, and empowers him to eat from it, to receive his share, and to rejoice in his labor—this is a gift of God. 19For he will not often consider the days of his life, since God keeps him occupied with the joy of his heart.7

–from Ecclesiastes 5


Futility of Living Without God

1There is a misery that I have seen under the sun, and it is heavy upon humanity. 2God gives a man riches, wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing that his heart desires, yet God does not enable him to eat from it—instead a foreigner will eat it. This is fruitless—an agonizing illness. 3Even if a man should father a hundred children and live many years, however many the days of his years may be, yet his soul is never satisfied with his prosperity and he does not have a proper burial, then I say that it is better for the stillborn than him. 4Even though it comes in futility and departs into darkness, though its name is shrouded in darkness, 5though it has never seen or experienced the sun, it has more rest than the other. 6Even if the other man were to live a thousand years twice and never enjoy good things—do not all go to the same place? 7All a man’s labor is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied. 8So what advantage has the wise over the fool? What does the pauper gain by knowing how to walk before the living? 9Better is what the eyes see than the pursuit of the soul’s desires. This too is fleeting and striving after wind. 10Whatever exists has already been named, and it has been made known what humanity is. But man cannot contend with the One who is mightier than he. 11When there are many words, futility increases! How does that benefit anyone? 12For who knows what is good for one during his life—during the few days of his fleeting life—that pass like a shadow? For who can tell a person what happens after him under the sun?

–from Ecclesiastes 6


Lessons from Mourning

1Better is a good reputation than precious oil and the day of death than the day of birth. 2Better to go to a house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, since that is the end of all mankind —and the living should take it to heart. 3Grief is better than laughter, for though the face is sad, the heart may be glad. 4The heart of the wise is in a house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in a house of pleasure.

Wisdom Better Than Folly

5Better to hear a rebuke from the wise than to listen to the song of fools. 6For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool. This too is vapor. 7For extortion drives a wise man crazy, and a bribe corrupts the heart. 8Better the end of a matter than its beginning. Better a patient spirit than a proud one. 9Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger settles in the bosom of fools. 10Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. 11Wisdom is as good as an inheritance, and even better for those who see the sun. 12For wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: wisdom preserves the life of the one who possesses it. 13Consider the work of God, for who can straighten what He has bent? 14In a time of prosperity, prosper! But in a time of adversity, consider: God has made one as well as the other. Therefore man cannot discover anything about his future.

Avoid Extremes

15During my fleeting days I have seen both of these things: sometimes a righteous one perishes in his righteousness and sometimes a wicked one lives long in his wickedness. 16Do not be overly righteous nor overly wise— why confound yourself? 17Do not be overly wicked and do not be a fool— why die before your time? 18It is good to grasp the one and not withdraw your hand from the other. For the one who fears God will escape both extremes. 19Wisdom makes a wise man stronger than ten rulers in a city. 20Surely there is not a righteous person on earth who does what is good and doesn’t sin. 21Also, do not pay attention to every word people say, otherwise you might hear your servant mocking you— 22for your heart knows that many times you too have mocked others. 23All this I have tested with wisdom and I said, “I determined to be wise”—but it was far from me. 24Whatever it may be, it is far off and very profound—who can fathom it? 25So I turned my heart to understand, to search and seek out wisdom and an explanation of things and to know the stupidity of wickedness and madness of folly. 26I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap, and whose hands are chains. He who pleases God will escape her, but a sinner will be captured by her. 27“Look,” said Kohelet, “I have discovered this while adding one thing to another to find the scheme of things— 28which my soul is still seeking, but not finding—I found one upright man among a thousand, but one upright woman among them all I have not found. 29Only this have I discovered: God made mankind upright, but they went seeking after many schemes.”

–from Ecclesiastes 7


God’s Truth and Blessings Abide Forever

1The elder. To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth—and not I alone, but also all who have come to know the truth— 2because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever: 3Grace, mercy, and shalom be with us, from God the Father and from Messiah Yeshua, the Father’s Son, in truth and love!

Lovingly Walk in God’s Truth

4I was overjoyed to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we received as a commandment from the Father. 5Now I ask you, dear lady, that we love one another. It is not as though I am writing you a new command, but the one we have had from the beginning. 6Now this is love: that we walk according to His commands. This is the commandment—just as you heard from the beginning—that you walk in love.

Protect Against Messianic Pretenders

7For many deceivers have gone out into the world—those who do not acknowledge Yeshua as Messiah coming in human flesh. This one is a deceiver and the anti-messiah. 8Watch yourselves, so you do not lose what we have worked for but receive a full reward. 9Anyone who goes too far and does not remain in Messiah’s teaching does not have God. Anyone who remains in this teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not welcome him into your home or even give him a greeting. 11For the one greeting him shares in his evil deeds.

Brotherly Fellowship Is Joyful

12Although I have much to write to you, I don’t want to do it with paper and ink. But I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that our joy may be full. 13The children of your chosen sister send you greetings.

–from 2 John 1


The Joys of Walking Out the Truth

1The elder. To Gaius the loved one, whom I love in truth: 2Loved ones, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. 3For I was overjoyed when some brethren came and testified of the truth in you—how you are walking in truth. 4I have no greater joy than this—to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Support Faithful Kingdom Truth Tellers

5Loved ones, you are acting faithfully in whatever you do for the brethren and especially for strangers. 6They have testified to your love before Messiah’s community. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. 7For on behalf of the Name they went out, accepting nothing from the pagans. 8Therefore we ought to support such people, so we might become co-workers in the truth.

The Lust for Power Condemned

9I wrote something to Messiah’s community, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, doesn’t welcome us. 10So if I do come, I will call attention to what he is doing—slandering us with wicked words. Not even content with that, he refuses to welcome the brethren, and even forbids those who want to do so— throwing them out of the community!

Do Good Like God Does

11Loved ones, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.

Virtue Is Honorable

12Demetrius has a good testimony from everyone, even from the truth itself. We also vouch for him—and you know that our testimony is true.

Fellowship Is Desirable

13I have much to write you, but I don’t want to write to you with ink and pen. 14But I hope to see you soon, and we will speak face to face. 15Shalom aleichem. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.

–from 3 John 1


What are you asking for? Do you realize what will happen if you get what you want?

Consider closely what you are asking for. Consider the consequences and the reason for the ask. Consider the benefits and the drawbacks. Consider how your priorities should be. Consider your needs vs your wants. What are you asking for? Do you realize what will happen if you get what you want? What is your heart in that area? What is your intent? What is your reason? What is your purpose?

Is God enough? Is there any reason you might try to do God plus? Is there any reason why you might try inserting someone else into part of the areas that God takes care of? Are you rejecting him?

Today’s reading start in 1 Samuel when the people of Israel are asking for a king…

Israel Demands a King

1Now when Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges over Israel. 2The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second Abijah—they were judges in Beersheba. 3His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain—they took bribes and perverted justice. 4Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5and said to him, “Behold, you have grown old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us—like all the nations.” 6But the matter was displeasing in Samuel’s eyes when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to Adonai. 7Then Adonai said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you. For they have not rejected you, rather they have rejected Me from being king over them. 8Like all the deeds that they have done since the day I brought them out of Egypt to this day—forsaking Me and worshiping other gods—so they are doing to you also. 9So now, listen to their voice. However, you must earnestly forewarn them, and declare to them the rulings of the king who will reign over them.” 10Now Samuel reported all the words of Adonai to the people who were asking him for a king. 11“This will be the practice of the king that will reign over you,” he said. “He will draft your sons and assign them as his charioteers and horsemen, and they will run before his chariots. 12He will appoint them as commanders of thousands and captains of fifties, also some to plow his fields, reap his harvest, make his weapons of war and the equipment for his chariots. 13Also he will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks and bakers. 14He will seize the best of your fields, vineyards and olive groves, and give them to his courtiers. 15He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage and give it to his officials and slaves. 16He will also take your male and female servants, your best young men and your donkeys and make them do his work. 17He will also take the tenth of your flocks. Then you yourselves will become his slaves. 18When the day comes and you cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, Adonai will not answer you on that day.” 19But the people refused to listen to Samuel, and they said, “No! But a king should be over us! 20So we may become like all the nations—having our king who will judge us, go out before us and fight our battles.” 21After Samuel heard all the words of the people, he reported them back in the hearing of Adonai. 22Adonai said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice and appoint a king to reign for them.” So Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Go, each one to his town.”

–from 1 Samuel 8

Consider the warning signs. Consider the consequences. Realize you will need to live with your decision. We all have free wills and as such we get to choose, so choose wisely!

Do you realize that in the midst of the daily things, God can raise you up? Do you realize within the mundane or boring tasks of a day, God can open up a door you didn’t even realize was available? God has a plan! God has a purpose! How will you respond? How will you act? How will you be? When you are wondering or having questions where do you turn? Will you turn and ask God? Will you ask a friend who has godly wisdom? Will you ask someone who has faith and will pray and give you an answer?

Saul Meets Samuel

1Now there was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish son of Abiel son of Zeror son of Becorath son of Aphiah son of a Benjamite. He was a mighty man of valor 2and he had a son whose name was Saul—young and handsome—there was no one among Bnei-Yisrael better than him. From his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people. 3Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. So Kish said to his son Saul, “Take now one of the servants with you, get up and look for the donkeys.” 4So he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them. Then they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then he passed through the land of Benjamin, but still did not find them. 5When they arrived in the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant with him, “Come, let’s go back—otherwise my father will stop worrying about the donkeys and start worrying about us.” 6Then his servant said to him, “Behold now, there is a man of God in this town, and he is a man held in honor—everything he says is sure to come true. Now, let’s go there. Perhaps he’ll tell us the way we should go.” 7Then said Saul to his servant, “But look, if we go, what would we bring the man? For the bread is gone from our sacks, and there is nothing to bring to the man of God as a present. What do we have?” 8The servant answered Saul again and said, “Behold, I have in my hand a quarter of a shekel of silver. I will give it to the man of God and he will tell us our way.” 9(Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he said, “Come, let’s go to the seer”—for today’s prophet was formerly called a seer.) 10Then Saul said to his servant, “Well said. Come, let’s go!” So they went to the town where the man of God was. 11As they went up the hill to the town, they found some girls going out to draw water, and they asked them, “Is the seer here?” 12They answered them and said, “He is there, ahead of you. Hurry now, for he has come today to the town because people have a sacrifice at the high place today. 13As soon as you enter the town, you’ll find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat until he comes, because he must first bless the sacrifice—afterward the guests can eat. So now, get up, for you will find him at once.” 14So they went up to the town. As they were entering the town, behold, Samuel was coming out toward them to go up to the high place. 15One day before Saul came, Adonai had revealed to Samuel saying: 16“Tomorrow about this time, I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you will anoint him ruler over My people Israel. He will deliver My people from the hand of the Philistines. I have observed My people, because their cry has come to Me.” 17When Samuel saw Saul, Adonai spoke to him, “Behold, this is the man I told you about. This one will govern My people.” 18Then Saul approached Samuel inside the gate and asked, “Tell me, please, where the seer’s house is?” 19Samuel answered Saul by saying, “I am the seer. Go up ahead of me to the high place. For today you will eat with me. In the morning when I send you off, I will tell you everything that is in your heart. 20As for the donkeys that you lost three days ago, don’t set your heart on them, for they have been found. Now, for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s household?” 21Saul answered by saying, “Am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my clan is the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? So why do you say such things to me?” 22Then Samuel took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall, and gave them a place at the head of the guests, who numbered about 30 people. 23Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion that I gave you and told you to set aside.” 24So the cook took up the thigh, raised it, and set it before Saul. Then he said, “Here is what has been reserved! Set it before you and eat, because it has been kept until this appointed time for you, since I said, ‘I have invited the people.’” So Saul ate with Samuel that day. 25When they came down from the high place to the town, he spoke with Saul on the roof. 26They rose early, and at daybreak Samuel called to Saul on the roof saying, “Get up, so I may send you off.” So Saul got up, and both of them, he and Samuel, went outside. 27As they were going down toward the edge of town, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell your servant to go ahead of us and pass on, but as for you, stand still awhile, so that I may proclaim to you the word of God.”

–from 1 Samuel 9

Don’t let success or position or power go to your head! Stay humble! Stay with a servant’s heart! Don’t try to go it alone, put your trust in God! Success can be one of the biggest challenges and struggles in life! So realize it, prepare for it, and press through it with God and in God’s way!

Do you realize how God’s views are different from those of the world! Do you realize the importance of attitude? Do you realize it is possible to be content in every situation? Do you realize that you have a purpose? Do you realize that you are to make a difference? Do you realize that you are supposed to be different? Do you realize that you are being called to a higher standard? Do you realize your response is supposed to be different? Do you realize you are to respond with love? Do you realize that means even if someone is attacking or hating you? So what will you do now that you do know?

Drash on the Mountain

1Now when Yeshua saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain. And after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.
2And He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.
12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great! For in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Called to Be Salt and Light

13“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt should lose its flavor, how shall it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on a lampstand so it gives light to all in the house.
16In the same way, let your light shine before men so they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Filling the Law to the Fullest

17“Do not think that I came to abolish the Torah or the Prophets! I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.
18Amen, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or serif shall ever pass away from the Torah until all things come to pass.
19Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever keeps and teaches them, this one shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees and Torah scholars, you shall never enter the kingdom of heaven!
21“You have heard it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever commits murder shall be subject to judgment.’
22But I tell you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca’ shall be subject to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be subject to fiery Gehenna.
23“Therefore if you are presenting your offering upon the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
24leave your offering there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
25“Make friends quickly with your opponent while you are with him on the way. Otherwise, your opponent may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the assistant, and you will be thrown into prison.
26Amen, I tell you, you will never get out of there until you have paid back the last penny!
27“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’
28But I tell you that everyone who looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29And if your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away! It is better for you that one part of your body should be destroyed, than that your whole body be thrown into Gehenna.
30And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away! It is better for you that one part of your body should be destroyed, than that your whole body go into Gehenna.
31“It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’
32But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall carry out your oaths to Adonai.’
34But I tell you, do not swear at all—not by heaven, for it is the throne of God;
35or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.
36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
37But let your word ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’—anything more than this is from the evil one.”

Overcoming Evil with Good

38“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’
39But I tell you, do not resist an evildoer. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him also the other.
40And the one wanting to sue you and to take your shirt, let him also have your coat.
41Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.
42Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
43“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they?
47And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than anyone else? Even the pagans do that, don’t they?
48Therefore be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

–from Matthew 5




Have a need? Know anyone who can meet them all?

Where are you at today? What are you going through? Where are you headed? What are you going to need to make it through? Do you remember trials of the past? Do you remember what needs were met? Do you remember needs of the past? Do you remember how they were met? Do you have a need today? Where will you turn for help? Who can you trust? Who will you trust? Will you lift up to anyone? Will you give it to someone?

Today’s reading starts on a similar subject…

1Moses called to all Israel and said to them, “You have seen all that Adonai did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land— 2the great trials that your eyes saw, those great signs and wonders. 3But to this day Adonai has not given you a heart to know, or eyes to see, or ears to hear. 4I led you 40 years in the wilderness—your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet. 5Bread you have not eaten and wine and strong drink you have not drunk—in order that you may know that I am Adonai your God. 6“When you came to this place, King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of the Bashan came out against us to battle, but we struck them down. 7We took their land and gave it as an inheritance to Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh. 8So keep the words of this covenant and do them, so that you may prosper in all that you do.

You Are Standing Before the Lord

9“You are standing today, all of you, before Adonai your God—the heads of your tribes, your elders, your officials, all the men of Israel, 10your children, your wives, and the outsider within your camp (from your woodchopper to your water carrier). 11Each of you is to cross over into the covenant of Adonai your God that He is cutting with you today, and into His oath. 12“This is in order to confirm you today as His people. So He will be your God, just as He promised you and just as He swore to your fathers—to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. 13Not with you alone am I cutting this covenant and this oath, 14but with whomever is standing here with us today before Adonai our God and with whomever is not here with us today. 15“Indeed you know how we dwelt in the land of Egypt and how we crossed through the nations that we passed through. 16You saw their detestable things and their idols —wood and stone, silver and gold—that were with them. 17Beware in case there is among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from Adonai our God to go serve the gods of those nations. Beware in case there is among you a root producing poison and bitter fruit. 18“Now when someone hears the words of this oath and in his heart considers himself blessed, thinking, ‘Shalom will be mine, even though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart’—thus sweeping away the moist with the dry— 19Adonai will be unwilling to forgive him. For then the anger of Adonai and His jealousy will smoke against that person. So all the oath that is written in this scroll will settle on him, and Adonai will blot out his name from under the heavens. 20Adonai will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for ­calamity, according to all the oaths of the covenant written in this scroll of the Torah. 21“The following generation, your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a distant land will say, when they see the plagues of that land and the sicknesses Adonai afflicted on it: 22‘Sulfur and salt, the whole land burnt! It cannot be planted, it cannot sprout, no grass can grow up on it—like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which Adonai overturned in His anger and in His wrath!’ 23“All the nations will say, ‘Why has Adonai done this to this land? Why this great burning anger?’ 24“Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the covenant of Adonai, the God of their fathers, which He cut with them when He brought them out from the land of Egypt. 25They went and served other gods and bowed down to them—gods they never knew, that He had not allotted to them. 26So Adonai’s anger burned against that land, bringing on it every curse written in this scroll. 27Adonai has uprooted them from their soil, in anger and wrath and great fury, and hurled them into another land, as is the case this day.’ 28“The secret things belong to Adonai our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever—in order to do all the words of this Torah.

–from Deuteronomy 29

Don’t be double-minded. Don’t walk in confusion. Don’t walk in rebellion. Don’t walk in stubbornness. Let’s walk with God each and every step, trusting fully in Him! God’s plan is for good and His desire is that we will complete the work He has for us to do.

Don’t lose hope because you got out of alignment, turn back to God! Give it all up to Him! Ask for forgiveness and give Him all your heart, mind, and soul!

1“Now when all these things come upon you—the blessing and the curse that I have set before you—and you take them to heart in all the nations where Adonai your God has banished you, 2and you return to Adonai your God and listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you today—you and your children—with all your heart and with all your soul, 3then Adonai your God will bring you back from captivity and have compassion on you, and He will return and gather you from all the peoples where Adonai your God has scattered you. 4Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the heavens, from there Adonai your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. 5Adonai your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, and you will possess it; and He will do you good and multiply you more than your fathers. 6Also Adonai your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants—to love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live. 7“Adonai your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. 8Then you—you will return and listen to the voice of Adonai and do all His mitzvot that I am commanding you today. 9Adonai your God will make you prosper in all the work of your hand—in the fruit of your womb, and the offspring of your livestock, and the produce of your soil—for good. For Adonai will again rejoice over you for good, as He rejoiced over your fathers— 10when you listen to the voice of Adonai your God, to keep His mitzvot and His statutes that are written in this scroll of the Torah, when you turn to Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 11“For this mitzvah that I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it far off. 12It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to the heavens and get it for us, and have us hear it so we may do it?’ 13Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross over for us to the other side of the sea and get it for us, and have us hear it so we may do it?’ 14No, the word is very near to you—in your mouth and in your heart, to do it. 15“See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil. 16What I am commanding you today is to love Adonai your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His mitzvot, statutes and ordinances. Then you will live and multiply, and Adonai your God will bless you in the land you are going in to possess. 17But if your heart turns away and you do not listen, but are drawn away and bow down to other gods and worship them, 18I tell you today that you will certainly perish! You will not prolong your days on the land, where you are about to cross over the Jordan to go in to possess. 19“I call the heavens and the earth to witness about you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20by loving Adonai your God, listening to His voice, and clinging to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell on the land that Adonai swore to your fathers—to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob—to give them.

–from Deuteronomy 30

God’s grace is enough! God’s love is enough! Receive your second chance and press on with God! Walk with integrity! Walk with boldness and courage! Walk with God!

Walking with Integrity

1A psalm of David. Adonai, who may dwell in Your tent? Who may live on Your holy mountain? 2The one who walks with integrity, who does what is right, and speaks truth in his heart, 3who does not slander with his tongue, does not wrong his neighbor, and does not disgrace his friend, 4who despises a vile person in his eyes, but honors those who fear Adonai, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, and does not change, 5who lends his money without usury, and takes no bribe against the innocent. One who does these things will never be shaken.

–from Psalms 15

Ask Jesus into your life! Walk every step of every day with Him! Grab hold of the legacy left for you! Grab hold of the truth of who you are through Jesus! Let’s live now as heirs! We don’t have to wait till we leave this earth and are in heaven to live all out with and for and through God! Why not you! Why not now! Let’s start today! Don’t get shutdown or shutout from being everything God desires you to be! Don’t allow fear or frustration, doubt or trials to keep you from becoming everything God has planed and desires for you to be! Don’t try to do it all in your own strength but rather allow the supernatural power of God to work His promises out in and through your life! Let’s live out our lives as the promises of God provide and direct us!

Living as Heirs

1Now I am saying, so long as the heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, even though he is the owner of everything. 2Instead, he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. 3So also, when we were underage, we were subservient to the basic principles of the world. 4But when the fullness of time came, God sent out His Son, born of a woman and born under law— 5to free those under law, so we might receive adoption as sons. 6Now because you are sons, God sent the Ruach of His Son into our hearts, who cries out, “Abba! Father!” 7So you are no longer a slave but a son—and if a son, also an heir through God. 8But at that time, when you did not know God, you served those who by nature are not gods at all. 9But now you have come to know God—or rather you have come to be known by God. So how can you turn back again to those weak and worthless principles? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again? 10You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain! 12I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong— 13you know it was because of a physical ailment that I proclaimed the Good News to you the first time; 14and though my physical condition was a trial to you, you did not hate or reject me. No, you welcomed me as a messenger of God—or even as Messiah Yeshua. 15So where is your sense of joy? For I testify that you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me, if possible. 16So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?! 17Others zealously court you—not in a good way, but they wish to shut you out so that you will court them. 18To be courted is good, but let it always be in a good way—and not just when I am there with you. 19My dear children! Again I suffer labor pains until Messiah is formed in you. 20I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, for I don’t know what to make of you.

Midrash on Abraham’s Two Sons

21Tell me, you who want to be under Torah, don’t you understand the Torah? 22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and one by the free woman. 23But one—the son by the slave woman—was born naturally; while the other—the son by the free woman—was through the promise. 24Now these things are being treated allegorically, for these are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, giving birth to slavery—this is Hagar. 25But this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery along with her children. 26But the Jerusalem above is free—she is our mother. 27For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren woman who bears no children. Break forth and shout, you who suffer no labor pains. For more are the children of the desolate than of the one who has a husband.” 28Now you, brothers and sisters—like Isaac, you are children of promise. 29But just as at that time the one born according to the flesh persecuted the one born according to the Ruach, so it is now. 30But what does the Scripture say? “Drive out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son” of the free woman. 31So then, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman.

–from Galatians 4

Do you realize what Jesus went through for us? So that we could be reconciled to God? He paid it all! He laid it all on the line so that we would have a way back and a way to God! So will you choose to receive the gift of eternal life? We all have freewill and we all need to make a choice! We are supposed to be robots but rather God wants relationships with us, so let’s choose today to start that relationship with Him! Let’s choose to continue and renew our relationships with Him! Let’s glorify Him in and through it all in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Handed Over to the Romans

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

Crucified as King of the Jews

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

Death and Burial

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

–from Mark 15






How much? More than enough…

Ever seen a need? Ever heard of a need? Ever given to a need? Ever received for a need? How much would you expect? How did you respond? Did you give your best? Did you provide what you should? What if there was a need and an offering was taken? Would you give your best? Would you expect everyone to do what they can? Would you think you don’t need to because everyone else will take care of it? Not everyone can give the same! Not everyone’s best is the same amount! But when given in faith believing, like the woman who gave two mites, can be used by God! When given in faith believing, like the boy who gave up his lunch of fish and loafs, can be used by God! When given in faith believing, like the widow who only had a little oil, can be used by God! So will you do your part? Will you give what is put onto your heart? Will you be part of the miracle of more than enough? Like at the feeding of the 5000 where there were leftovers? Will you give as you are led like at the giving prompted by Moses where there was more than enough and required Moses to tell everyone to stop?

Today’s reading gets us started on this very topic…

More Than Enough!

1“So Bezalel and Oholiab are to work, along with every wise-hearted man in whom Adonai has placed insight and understanding to know how to perform all the labor for the service of the Sanctuary, according to everything Adonai has commanded.” 2Then Moses called Bezalel, Oholiab and all the wise-hearted men in whose minds Adonai had set wisdom, along with everyone whose heart stirred him up to come do the work. 3They received from Moses the entire offering that Bnei-Yisrael had brought for the work of the service of the Sanctuary, to build it. They brought freewill offerings to him morning after morning. 4Then all the skilled men who were doing all the work of the Sanctuary came, one by one from the work he was doing, 5and said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for the work of this construction that Adonai has commanded to be done.” 6So Moses gave an order, and they proclaimed it throughout the camp saying, “Let neither man nor woman make anything else as an offering for the Sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing more. 7For the work material they had was sufficient for all the work, with much left over. 8So all the wise-hearted men among them did the work. They made the Tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen, along with blue, purple and scarlet, with cheruvim—the work of a skillful craftsman. 9The length of each curtain was 28 cubits and the width of each curtain was four cubits. All the curtains had one measure. 10Then he coupled five curtains to one another, and the other five curtains he also coupled together. 11He made blue loops on the edge of the curtain that was outermost within the first set. He did the same along the edge of the curtain that was outermost in the second set. 12He made 50 loops in one curtain and 50 loops on the edge of the curtain that was in the second set, so that the loops were opposite to one another. 13Also he made 50 clasps of gold and coupled the curtains one to another with the clasps, so the Tabernacle was one. 14Then he made curtains from goat hair for a tent over the Tabernacle. He made 11 curtains. 15The length of each curtain was 30 cubits, and the width of each was four cubits. The 11 curtains had one measure. 16He coupled five curtains by themselves, and six other curtains by themselves. 17He made 50 loops on the edge of the curtain that was outermost in the first set and 50 loops on the edge of the curtain that was outermost in the second set. 18Also he made 50 bronze clasps to couple the tent together, so that it would be one. 19Then he made a covering for the tent of ram skins, dyed red, along with a covering of sealskins above. 20He also made the framework of boards for the Tabernacle from acacia wood, standing upright. 21The length of a board was ten cubits, the width was a cubit and a half. 22Each board had two supports, joined one to another. He did this for all the boards of the Tabernacle. 23So he built the boards for the Tabernacle, 20 boards from the south side southward. 24And he made 40 silver bases under the 20 boards, two bases under one board for its two supports, and two bases under another board for its two supports. 25Also for the second side of the Tabernacle, on the north side, he made 20 boards, 26along with their 40 silver bases, two under one board and two under the next. 27For the back part of the Tabernacle westward he made six boards. 28He also made two boards for the corners of the Tabernacle in the back, 29so that they could be doubled underneath, and in same way to be fixed to the top, at the first ring. He did this for both of them at the two corners. 30So there were eight boards, along with their silver bases, 16 in all, two under each board. 31Then he made crossbars from acacia wood, five for the boards on one side of the Tabernacle, 32five for the boards on the other side of the Tabernacle, and five crossbars for the boards of the Tabernacle for the back part, westward. 33He built the middle crossbar to pass through, in the center of the boards, from one end to the other. 34He overlaid the boards with gold and made golden rings for them, as holders for the crossbars, and overlaid the crossbars with gold. 35Then he made the curtain of blue, purple, scarlet and finely twisted linen, along with the cheruvim, the work of a skillful craftsman. 36He made four pillars of acacia, and overlaid them with gold, having golden hooks, and he cast four silver bases for them. 37Then he made a parokhet for the entrance of the tent, of blue, purple, scarlet and finely twisted linen, the work of a color weaver. 38Also he made the five pillars with their hooks, and overlaid their capitals and bands with gold, along with their five bronze bases.
–from Exodus 36

What a generous heart to give so much! What an incredible miracle to meet every need and more! Do you believe? Do you of a need? What are you doing about it? Do you know of an offering? Are you prepared in your heart to what it means? Do you realize the impact it will have on the world? Do you realize the impact it will have on the plans of God? Do you want to get to be a part? It’s not a matter of the size, it’s a matter of the heart!

Ark, Table, Menorah, Incense Altar

1Bezalel also made the Ark from acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. 2He overlaid it with pure gold inside and out, and made a crown of gold for it all around. 3He cast four golden rings for it, in the four feet, two rings on the one side, and two on the other. 4He also made poles of acacia wood, and overlaid them with gold. 5Then he put the poles into the rings on the sides of the Ark, to carry the Ark. 6He made an atonement cover of pure gold, two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide. 7Then he forged two cheruvim of gold, from hammered work, at the two ends of the atonement cover, 8one cheruv at one end, and one cheruv at the other. He made the atonement cover from a single piece with the cheruvim on the two ends. 9So the cheruvim spread out their wings on high, overshadowing the atonement cover with their wings, with their faces to one another, and the faces of the cheruvim toward the atonement cover. 10Then he made the table of acacia wood, two cubits long, a cubit wide, and a cubit and a half high. 11He overlaid it with pure gold and made a golden crown all around. 12Also he made a border for it, a hand-width around, and made a golden crown for the border all around. 13He cast four golden rings for it, and put the rings into the four corners that were on the four feet. 14The rings were close to the borders, as holders for the poles to carry the table. 15He also made the poles of acacia wood, and overlaid them with gold, to carry the table. 16He forged the articles that were on the table, the dishes, pans, bowls and jars, with which to pour, out of pure gold. 17Then he made the menorah of pure gold, of hammered work, even its base, its stem, its cups, its bulbs and its flowers, were one piece with it. 18There were six branches going out of the sides, three branches out of one side, and three branches out of the other. 19Three cups made like almond blossoms were in one branch, a bulb within a flower, and three cups made like almond blossoms in the next branch, another bulb within a flower. It was just so for the six branches going out of the menorah. 20Also within the menorah were four cups made like almond blossoms, bulbs and flowers, 21with a bulb under two branches of one piece, a second bulb under two branches of another piece, and a bulb under two branches of a third piece, for six branches extending out of it. 22Their bulbs and their branches were one piece with it, an entire hammered work of pure gold. 23He also made the seven lamps, along with tongs and censers of pure gold. 24He made them from a talent of pure gold, along with all the pieces. 25He made the altar of incense from acacia wood, a cubit long, a cubit wide, squared, and two cubits high. The horns were one piece with it. 26Then he overlaid it with pure gold on top, on the sides all around and over its horns. Also he made a crown of gold for it all around. 27He made two golden rings for it underneath the crown, on two sides as holders for poles in order to carry it. 28He made the poles of acacia wood, and overlaid them with gold. 29Then he made the holy anointing oil, and the pure incense of sweet spices, the blend of a perfumer.
–from Exodus 37

So let’s be people with open arms! Let’s greet people! Let’s be loving! Let’s be outreaching! Let’s be embracing! Let’s be discipling! Let’s be building unity! Let’s be keeping our eyes on those who try to bring up strife and division and turn away from them! Let’s shine our lights so that stumbling blocks and deception can’t hide and will be revealed and exposed! Let’s walk in such obedience to God that others will praise Him! Let’s live to exalt God in the name of Jesus that many lives can be saved and many lives can be transformed!

Welcome the Apostolic Team

1Now I recommend to you our sister Phoebe—who is a servant-leader of Messiah’s community at Cenchrea— 2so you may receive her in the Lord, in a way worthy of kedoshim, and help her in whatever matter she may need from you. For she herself has become a patroness of many, including me as well. 3Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Messiah Yeshua, 4who risked their own necks for my life. Not only I give them thanks, but also all of Messiah’s communities among the Gentiles. 5Greet also the community that meets in their house. Greet Epaenetus whom I dearly love, who is the first fruit in Asia for Messiah. 6Greet Miriam, who has worked hard for you. 7Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kin and fellow prisoners who are well known among the emissaries. They were in Messiah before me. 8Greet Ampliatus, whom I dearly love in the Lord. 9Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Messiah, and Stachys whom I dearly love. 10Greet Apelles, who is approved in Messiah. Greet those from the household of Aristobulus. 11Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet those from the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. 12Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis whom I dearly love, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother—who was also a mother to me. 14Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters with them. 15Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, also Olympas and all the kedoshim with them. 16Greet one another with a holy kiss. All of Messiah’s communities greet you. 17Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, to keep your eye on those who are causing divisions and stumbling blocks, contrary to the teaching that you learned. Turn away from them. 18For such people do not serve our Lord the Messiah, but only their own belly. By their smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. 19Your obedience has become known to all, so I rejoice over you—but I want you to be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil. 20Now the God of shalom will soon crush satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Yeshua be with you. 21Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kin. 22I, Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord. 23Gaius, host to me and the whole community, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, greets you, and so does brother Quartus. 24[footnote: Some mss. add: The grace of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah be with you all. Amen.]

Closing Blessing

25Now to the One who is able to strengthen you according to my Good News and the proclamation of Yeshua the Messiah, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages 26but now is revealed and through the Writings of the Prophets has been made known to all the nations, according to the commandment of the eternal God to bring about obedience of faith— 27to the only wise God, through Yeshua the Messiah, to Him be the glory forever. Amen.
–from Romans 16

More than conquerors…

We weren’t put here to coast. We weren’t put here to just make it. We were put here to be more than conquerors through him who loved us!

31-39So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. — from Romans 8 (MSG)

Romans 8:37 in another translation puts it this way:

37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. NIV

God loves us so much that Jesus came to the earth born of a virgin and then allowed Him to give His life on the cross that we could be reconciled once and for all back to Him through our belief and trust and following of Jesus. By receiving and following Jesus, we get eternal life with God! So let’s receive and walk with Jesus, for whom the Son set free is free indeed!

1-3Every person who believes that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah, is God-begotten. If we love the One who conceives the child, we’ll surely love the child who was conceived. The reality test on whether or not we love God’s children is this: Do we love God? Do we keep his commands? The proof that we love God comes when we keep his commandments and they are not at all troublesome.

The Power That Brings the World to Its Knees

4-5Every God-begotten person conquers the world’s ways. The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith. The person who wins out over the world’s ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God.
6-8Jesus—the Divine Christ! He experienced a life-giving birth and a death-killing death. Not only birth from the womb, but baptismal birth of his ministry and sacrificial death. And all the while the Spirit is confirming the truth, the reality of God’s presence at Jesus’ baptism and crucifixion, bringing those occasions alive for us. A triple testimony: the Spirit, the Baptism, the Crucifixion. And the three in perfect agreement.
9-10If we take human testimony at face value, how much more should we be reassured when God gives testimony as he does here, testifying concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God inwardly confirms God’s testimony. Whoever refuses to believe in effect calls God a liar, refusing to believe God’s own testimony regarding his Son.
11-12This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in his Son. So, whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life. — From 1 John 5

Don’t be fooled! Don’t be tricked! Guard your heart!

The Reality, Not the Illusion

13-15My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening. And if we’re confident that he’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours.
16-17For instance, if we see a Christian believer sinning (clearly I’m not talking about those who make a practice of sin in a way that is “fatal,” leading to eternal death), we ask for God’s help and he gladly gives it, gives life to the sinner whose sin is not fatal. There is such a thing as a fatal sin, and I’m not urging you to pray about that. Everything we do wrong is sin, but not all sin is fatal.
18-21We know that none of the God-begotten makes a practice of sin—fatal sin. The God-begotten are also the God-protected. The Evil One can’t lay a hand on them. We know that we are held firm by God; it’s only the people of the world who continue in the grip of the Evil One. And we know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God—what a gift!—and we are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. This Jesus is both True God and Real Life. Dear children, be on guard against all clever facsimiles. — From 1 John 5

LOVE! Allow it to permeate and flow into and through your life! Don’t walk out on God!

1-2My dear congregation, I, your pastor, love you in very truth. And I’m not alone—everyone who knows the Truth that has taken up permanent residence in us loves you.
3Let grace, mercy, and peace be with us in truth and love from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, Son of the Father!
4-6I can’t tell you how happy I am to learn that many members of your congregation are diligent in living out the Truth, exactly as commanded by the Father. But permit me a reminder, friends, and this is not a new commandment but simply a repetition of our original and basic charter: that we love each other. Love means following his commandments, and his unifying commandment is that you conduct your lives in love. This is the first thing you heard, and nothing has changed.

Don’t Walk Out on God

7There are a lot of smooth-talking charlatans loose in the world who refuse to believe that Jesus Christ was truly human, a flesh-and-blood human being. Give them their true title: Deceiver! Antichrist!
8-9And be very careful around them so you don’t lose out on what we’ve worked so diligently in together; I want you to get every reward you have coming to you. Anyone who gets so progressive in his thinking that he walks out on the teaching of Christ, walks out on God. But whoever stays with the teaching, stays faithful to both the Father and the Son.
10-11If anyone shows up who doesn’t hold to this teaching, don’t invite him in and give him the run of the place. That would just give him a platform to perpetuate his evil ways, making you his partner.
12-13I have a lot more things to tell you, but I’d rather not use paper and ink. I hope to be there soon in person and have a heart-to-heart talk. That will be far more satisfying to both you and me. Everyone here in your sister congregation sends greetings.
— 2 John 1

Are you being a good role model? What are you modeling to others just by living your life? Model the good!

1-4The Pastor, to my good friend Gaius: How truly I love you! We’re the best of friends, and I pray for good fortune in everything you do, and for your good health—that your everyday affairs prosper, as well as your soul! I was most happy when some friends arrived and brought the news that you persist in following the way of Truth. Nothing could make me happier than getting reports that my children continue diligently in the way of Truth!

Model the Good

5-8Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible. They’ve made a full report back to the church here, a message about your love. It’s good work you’re doing, helping these travelers on their way, hospitality worthy of God himself! They set out under the banner of the Name, and get no help from unbelievers. So they deserve any support we can give them. In providing meals and a bed, we become their companions in spreading the Truth.
9-10Earlier I wrote something along this line to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves being in charge, denigrates my counsel. If I come, you can be sure I’ll hold him to account for spreading vicious rumors about us.
As if that weren’t bad enough, he not only refuses hospitality to traveling Christians but tries to stop others from welcoming them. Worse yet, instead of inviting them in he throws them out.
11Friend, don’t go along with evil. Model the good. The person who does good does God’s work. The person who does evil falsifies God, doesn’t know the first thing about God.
12Everyone has a good word for Demetrius—the Truth itself stands up for Demetrius! We concur, and you know we don’t hand out endorsements lightly.
13-14I have a lot more things to tell you, but I’d rather not use pen and ink. I hope to be there soon in person and have a heart-to-heart talk.
Peace to you. The friends here say hello. Greet our friends there by name.
— 3 John 1


Born Again?

We have all be born into life. We have all had the opportunity to grow up. But not everyone has taken the opportunity to be born again. That’s right born again…this may sound confusing to some as they may ask how can you be born again? In this morning’s reading we see such an occurrence when a religious leader is confronted with this exact question.

4“How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?” — John 3

Sometimes the real problem isn’t what is said, but how it is said. Sometimes when people talk they speak in religious code or Christianese. We need to be relating to people and speaking in words that people can understand. If we don’t speak in love and in a language people can understand, we might as well be a loud gong or Charlie Brown’s teacher (waa waa waa waa waa…). They reality is that whatever we want to say and wherever we want to say it, if we don’t consider our audience and adjust how we say it, our message will be lost. We see in this case Jesus tries to clarify His point for Nicodemus this way:

5-6Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.
7-8“So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”
9Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”
10-12Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?
13-15“No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.
16-18“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
19-21“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”John 3

If someone were to ask me what being born again meant, the answer I would have to give is when I asked Jesus into my heart to be my Lord and Savior. God’s Word tells me that when I did this, I am a new creation aka I have been born again. By getting to the point of receiving Jesus into my heart, I have accepted the message that was given to me about who Jesus is and the change He is able to make in and through me.

To ask you the question in a different way, have you started your relationship with Jesus yet? Have you invited Him into your life? It’s transformational. He will never leave you nor abandon you. He will stick closer than a brother.

Will you make today more about Jesus and less about yourself? Will you live today so more of Jesus is revealed through your life than of yourself? Will you live today in an effort for there to be eternal success, success that will last forever, success that will make a real difference? Will you allow Jesus to become the focus rather than trying to keep the spotlight on yourself? How you live needs to be more about pointing people to Jesus than for being pumped up by others. It’s along the lines of why when people say good luck to me, I respond, luck, I don’t need luck, I need miracles. Everyday I face things that are bigger than me. Everyday I know that without God’s intervention I won’t be able to make it. I can try to do it in my own strength, but then what? How long can I do that before I wear out? God’s Word tells us:

28-30“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”Matthew 11
That’s right we can get to live freely and lightly! In other translations I have heard it said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. When we connect ourselves with Jesus (yoke) the work we need to do (burden) is light. He knows what we can handle and won’t give us more than that.
13No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.
Others have faced similar tests and temptations. We need to remember that God will show us a way out. We need to remember to look for the way out when we are being tested and tempted and then we need to choose to take it! Life is filled with choices. We can choose to try and do everything on our own or we can choose to ask God to grant us wisdom and help. We can choose to walk away or we can choose to walk with God all the way. We can choose words that build up or we can choose words that will tear down. We can choose life or we can choose death.
So many choices that we are faced with each day. The most important is if we will choose to be born again! It is the beginning of something so much be and greater than we could ever do on our own. Without God we will be facing huge uphill battles on our own. With God on our side, all things are possible!
God isn’t wanting to hold back, He is wanting to open up opportunities and experiences that you would never have gotten because you turned to Him.
29-30“That’s why my cup is running over. This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.
31-33“The One who comes from above is head and shoulders over other messengers from God. The earthborn is earthbound and speaks earth language; the heavenborn is in a league of his own. He sets out the evidence of what he saw and heard in heaven. No one wants to deal with these facts. But anyone who examines this evidence will come to stake his life on this: that God himself is the truth.
34-36“The One that God sent speaks God’s words. And don’t think he rations out the Spirit in bits and pieces. The Father loves the Son extravagantly. He turned everything over to him so he could give it away—a lavish distribution of gifts. That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever! And that is also why the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn’t see life. All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that.”John 3


God knows you better than you know yourself. That is why Jesus creates divine appointments and intersection points in your life. That’s why He speaks to you and brings people and situations into your life so that you can bond with Him and realize how much He loves you. God loves you so much that He sent Jesus to go through all that He did to teach us and then to give His life for us so that we can be reconciled back to God the Father. He conquered death and resurrection was confirmed and revealed by Him. So take time today and throughout the day to be in relationship with Jesus. Talk to Him, ask Him for wisdom for every situation you will be in. Ask Him before you start that meeting to help you through it. Ask Him in the meeting for wisdom on what to do and what to say so that it is communicated properly. God’s Word says to pray without ceasing – so talk with Him everywhere you go today!

So today, in all you do and in all you say, live a life that will lift up God in worship!

23-24“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” — John 4







God won’t give you more than you can handle…are you adding more?

At lunch with a friend yesterday this very topic came up. He was sharing how God had spoken to him about not everything we get is from Him, but that we add to it ourselves. He mentioned about how insurance policies speak about “acts of God” and that how about 98% of the events can be traced back to somebody, leaving 2%. The example of New Orleans also came up in that the waves and the storms will come, but God never told anybody to build a city below sea level. In this morning’s reading from Matthew 19-20, Psalm 94, this topic was revealed to me as well when the Pharisee’s were questioning Jesus and His response to them was:

…a concession to your hard heartedness, but it is not part of God’s original plan. — Matthew 19

Everything we are facing isn’t always because it was God’s will or part of God’s original plan. So we need to seek wisdom first rather than trying to figure it out on own later. If we had of asked for wisdom first, it may not have been easy, but it would have been in alignment with God’s perfect plan and purpose. If He brings you to it then He will bring you through it.

God’s Word bring up the gateway to Heaven. We should be helping people get into His presence and not trying to prevent them or getting in the way.

13-15One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left.
16Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.”
18-19The man asked, “What in particular?”
Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.”
20The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?”
21“If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”
22That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.
23-24As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom? Let me tell you, it’s easier to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom.”
25The disciples were staggered. “Then who has any chance at all?”
26Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”
27Then Peter chimed in, “We left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?”
28-30Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”Matthew 19

Nothing is too difficult for God! Things that seem impossible to us – are in our own power – but with God nothing is impossible! It’s not God+, it’s just God that we need to have in our lives. The question, do you want to be first or last? Will you push to the front of the line and then realize they switch the direction and now you are at the end? Will you be willing to allow others ahead of yourself? Will you think of others before yourself? Selfless rather than selfish?

Are you going to be stingy or generous? Are people good to their word or will they try to get more?

1-2“God’s kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work.
3-5“Later, about nine o’clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage. They went.
5-6“He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o’clock. At five o’clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, ‘Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?’
7“They said, ‘Because no one hired us.’
“He told them to go to work in his vineyard.
8“When the day’s work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, ‘Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.’
9-12“Those hired at five o’clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, ‘These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.’
13-15“He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’
16“Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”Matthew 20

Don’t let power and influence go to your heads! Whatever influence you have received, use it to serve others! Be A Servant Leader!

20It was about that time that the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request.
21“What do you want?” Jesus asked.
She said, “Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand.”
22Jesus responded, “You have no idea what you’re asking.” And he said to James and John, “Are you capable of drinking the cup that I’m about to drink?”
They said, “Sure, why not?”
23Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you are going to drink my cup. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. My Father is taking care of that.”
24-28When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers. So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”Matthew 20

Jesus is the ultimate servant leader. He gave everything for the opportunity for us to be saved from the fiery pits of hell as our final destination. What type of leader do you want to be? What type of leader are you being? How does that align with the ultimate leader?

Do you want it? Do you really, really want it? What if there were resistance how would you respond? What if they were shushing you?

29-31As they were leaving Jericho, a huge crowd followed. Suddenly they came upon two blind men sitting alongside the road. When they heard it was Jesus passing, they cried out, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!” The crowd tried to hush them up, but they got all the louder, crying, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!”
32Jesus stopped and called over, “What do you want from me?”
33They said, “Master, we want our eyes opened. We want to see!”
34Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back that very instant, and joined the procession. — Matthew 20

Will you go after it with faith, trusting and believing in God no matter what the naysayers have to say? Will you put all your hope and trust in Jesus because you know that He is the way, the truth, and the life, the only way to the Father? Will you get louder? Will you get more passionate? Will you care enough for others to help them get there too? Will be more interested in sharing the good news with others than with puffing yourself up? Will you be more interested in sharing the hope with the hopeless than keeping it to yourself? Every day we are faced with choices. Every day we have to make decisions. Make sure you have your bearings straight and your heart in the right place because others are watching you and needing you. Help reflect the love of Jesus into the lives of those around you so that in and through it all He will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name.

Is there hope for those who have lied or stolen?

This morning’s reading starts with a very interesting vision. It caused me to wonder how to start the title of today’s blog. I also remembered a video I once read that was asking the question of people if they were liars and thieves. With these combined, the part of this message that I will want to ensure to include is that there is hope and there is an answer.

Are you a good person? Have you kept the 10 commandments?

What is a liar? People who tell lies. What are other words for a lie: untruth · falsehood · fib · story · tall tale · white lie · invention. Have you ever told a lie? Do you know that God’s Word puts it at the same level as the rest of the 10 commandments?

What is a thief? People who steal or rob. What are other words for rob: steal from · take from · hold up · stick up · raid · pickpocket · mug. Have you ever stolen something? Do you know that God’s Word puts it at the same level as the rest of the 10 commandments?

There is hope, but it requires a turning, it requires a choosing, it requires an action to be taken. I have heard it called Hell’s best kept secret.

Here is a quick video (just over 5 minutes – you can watch if you would like) before I get into today’s reading and what it speaks to:

Today’s reading starts with a vision of 1 flying book. The purpose of the flying book is to go out and destroy all the liars and thieves. The next vision in today’s reading from Zechariah 5 was about a basket that contains all the sins of the world. Everything that everyone has done everywhere on earth. It was being taken away to be stored. The next vision comes from Zechariah 6, it speaks of 4 chariots that are going out to survey the earth. They were divided up 2 heading north and 2 heading south. 2 were sharing the sense of the Spirit, serene and secure. In the next vision the first thought that came to mind was Jesus, it was saying that the man would be called Branch. As I read on it spoke to this person being both King and Priest. The vision finished with a message, an important message that we need to put our minds to a life of responsive obedience to the voice of God.

The next chapter brings up a good perspective. What is our focus? God’s focus is beyond religion, He is interested in the people. He wants a relationship with each of us. Zechariah 7 starts with the title “You’re Interested in Religion, I’m Interested in People”. The statement is based on the people’s desire to do the right thing as they were approaching the 70th year. The question raised what why did you do what you were doing? Was it really for God? Or were you doing it as a religious thing. God’s interested in the people. He looks beyond the ceremonies and into the hearts and lives of the people. God wants us to follow His plan. It’s put this way in today’s reading:

“‘Treat one another justly. Love your neighbors. Be compassionate with each other. Don’t take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor. Don’t plot and scheme against one another—that’s evil.’ — Zechariah 7:7-10

Will we listen to such simple instruction? Will we live in this way? Will we do what we are called to do? Will we keep away from evil plots and schemes?

God cares! God is involved! Jerusalem’s new name will be Truth City, God’s Mountain, Mount Holiness.

Nothing is too much for God!

God’s plan is one of salvation.

Don’t be afraid. Keep a grip on what God is doing.

Keep it simple. Keep it honest.

God’s desire is that we speak the truth, the whole truth when we speak.

He wants us to do the right thing by one another, personally and in the courts.

Be fair, Be honest.

Keep it simple and honest.

He will turn the days of mourning into days of feasting, celebration, and holidays.

Embrace Truth! Love Peace!

Let’s be a part of the blessings of God’s people.

What have you built your life on? Is it sturdy, reliable, durable, solid?

Today’s question comes the title of this morning’s reading from Obadiah titled “Your World Will Collapse“. If you don’t have a firm foundation, Jesus warns us:

24“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.27When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” – Matthew 7:24-27

If you don’t build your life based on truth, hope, and love, we read in God’s Word:

12Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. 13But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 14If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. 15But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames. – 1 Corinthians 3:12-15

So what have you built your life upon? What are you building it with? This morning warning leads me to ask and reflect on these questions.

Don’t be walking around so proud that you think you are above everything. Don’t be walking around so proud that you miss the reality and the truth of the very situation you are going through. Pride comes before the fall. You aren’t above it all. You won’t get away with it for ever. If you keep walking away, eventually you will have to deal with the consequences of your decisions and actions. Is what you are building real? Real relationships? Real friends? Real buddies? Where are you putting your hope and trust? Is it dependable? Is it reliable? Is it real? As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. He is the one we can trust. He is the one who is good to His Word. If He said it, He’ll do it. If He promised it, He’ll accomplish it. He will closer than a brother. He will never leave me nor abandon me. Even when I mess up, He shows up. Jesus loves me just the way I am, and loves me too much to leave me stuck there. I thank God for His Word that builds me up every morning. I thank God for His Word that grants me wisdom and hope to start each day. He loves us so much that He sent His one and only son Jesus to come and do more than we could ever ask or imagine so that we can be reconciled back to God! It is through Jesus’ righteousness that we can be reconciled to God. It’s through Jesus’ sacrifice that we can be seen right by God. We have favor not because we are good enough, because even those who think they had a perfect day have missed the mark as we can’t do enough in our own power to make ourselves right with God. It is only by receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior and following after Him. Last night when I got home from work, my son kept quoting this verse to me and was so proud that He had it memorized.

Jesus said, “I am the truth, the way, and the life. No one can come to the Father, except through me.” – John 14:6

It was so cute to watch him repeat it over and over again. I am so grateful for a God who is tilling the soil, planting the seed of His Word, and watering it so that I can see it grow in my children. It brings me great joy to know that when that day comes I will get to see my family with me in Heaven. To know my children believe, trust, and are pursuing Jesus is an incredible blessing to me and reveals God’s favor over my life more than anything else.

So where are you at today? Are you letting life pass you by? Are you a bystander who sees what is taking place around them but not stepping up nor stepping in? Are you walking passed other or are you trying to give others a helping hand up? What are you focused on? Are you so focused on you that you are missing the opportunities and the favor that readily available for you to take in? Are you stuck gloating, laughing, and joking at the expense of others? Are you too big for that? Are you too important to bend over and give someone a hand? Are you to high and mighty to stop and help? Are you willing to let God work in you and through you to be an instrument of God in the lives of those around you? We all have a choice and then will have to deal with the consequences of our decisions.

God’s Word today warns us:

“God’s Judgment Day is near for all the godless nations. As you have done, it will be done to you. What you did will boomerang back and hit your own head. Just as you partied on my holy mountain, all the godless nations will drink God’s wrath. They’ll drink and drink and drink—they’ll drink themselves to death. – Obadiah 1:15-18

So how are your rules? Do they honor God?

What will it take for you to come into alignment with God’s purpose and plan for your life? Today’s reading continues into Jonah. Jonah called by God to go and speak God’s truth into the lives of others. To warn and to encourage others. But it isn’t always easy, especially if we let ourselves get in the way and try to do the opposite of God’s command/instruction. Jonah starts with a title of “Running Away from God“. What direction are you headed today? Are running to God or away from God? Are you like the lost son who decided to come home? Are you like Jonah or the lost son when they were at the point of trying to get away? You can’t outrun God! You can’t hide from God! He knows what you are doing and what you are thinking. But as always, we choose and then come to our own conclusions and depending on where that leads us have to deal with the consequences of those decisions. The problem is that your decision can actually hurt or threaten those around you. Consider your choices. Consider your path. Consider the implications of what you say and do on those around you. It’s not all about you. Don’t be self-centered. Don’t be selfish. Check your heart before you go to do things and align it with God. You can’t hide, the truth will be revealed. Will you admit to it? Will you confess? Will you do what it takes to save the others? Will you allow your actions to glorify God and allow others to be in awe because of Him? Put another way:

14-16“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16

How long will you just sit there and contemplate doing what God has called you to do and God has called you to be? What would it take for you do it? Would you have to be swallowed up and spend 3 days at the bottom of the sea? What’s it going to take to get your attention and get it put back on God where it belongs? What’s it going to take for you to turn back to God and pursue after Him and His will and purpose for your life? How far down will you have to spiral before you look up and call out to Him for help? Do you need to hit rock bottom? Do you need to get to the bottom of the barrel? Do you need to get to the end of your rope? How far?

What if you were the instrument God wanted to use to save lives? What if you were the person who would be able to speak directly into the lives of others in a way that they could receive God as their Lord and Savior? What if you were their last hope? What would you do? What if they weren’t very nice to you in the past? What if they had been mean to you? What if they had mistreated you? Would any of that change your mind? Jonah delivered the message God had given him. The people of Nineveh received it and took immediate action:

6-9When the message reached the king of Nineveh, he got up off his throne, threw down his royal robes, dressed in burlap, and sat down in the dirt. Then he issued a public proclamation throughout Nineveh, authorized by him and his leaders: “Not one drop of water, not one bite of food for man, woman, or animal, including your herds and flocks! Dress them all, both people and animals, in burlap, and send up a cry for help to God. Everyone must turn around, turn back from an evil life and the violent ways that stain their hands. Who knows? Maybe God will turn around and change his mind about us, quit being angry with us and let us live!”

10God saw what they had done, that they had turned away from their evil lives. He did change his mind about them. What he said he would do to them he didn’t do. – Jonah 3:6-10

So what would you do if your message was well received? How would you celebrate? Or would you? Would you celebrate with them because they received what you said and were saved? Would you be upset and say “I Knew This Was Going to Happen!” God’s plans are good, not for evil, He doesn’t desire that anyone would perish but that everyone would turn back and find eternal life. But that isn’t always what we are thinking, and that is because our ways aren’t God’s ways, His ways are higher than our ways.

We see Jonah lose it because He knew God’s intention and God’s heart…

1-2Jonah was furious. He lost his temper. He yelled at God, “God! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That’s why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness! – Jonah 4:1-2

Don’t sulk. Rejoice in the Lord! Don’t get upset about what God’s given or taken away! Sometimes we have to realize how our hearts work and how we respond to be able truly get a grip on how great God’s love is for us. Let’s share God’s love. Let’s help others realize there is a difference between right and wrong. Let’s live lives to glorify God in Jesus’ name.

Don’t be afraid!

Fear Not, Just Believe!

Don’t be afraid of people. Don’t be afraid of what they say. Don’t be afraid of your surroundings. Don’t be afraid of your situation. Don’t be afraid of the hard looks.

Has God given you something to say? Has He put you in such a position for such a day as this? Don’t rebel against what He speaks or directs you to do. Trust in Him and His Word! He is your guarantee! No matter what it is He has for you to say, say it for it has a purpose and God’s purpose is for good. Be it that He has a warning for others. Be it that He has a promise for others. Be it that He has a direction for others. Be bold and courageous and do what He is calling you to do!

When He sends you go. Be aware of the people who He has sent you to and how they are. He may send you to people you don’t know and who have never heard about His great love where they will receive the message and turn to God and praise Him. He may send you to people who are a bit more hard hearted and are resistant to receiving the message of God. Don’t give up, but be persistent in your goal to share the Good News of God and the love and salvation of God. Keep up the good fight. Keep up the good work. Keep on keeping on. Don’t be intimidated, keep your trust in God and continue to be the light and the messenger God has created you to be. Don’t lose hope, but put on the full armor of God as you stand firm on the rock that is firm and immovable. Take the words God has given you and make them your own. Share the truth and the hope and the love of God that not only have you received and learned about, but that you have truly experienced and can testify about. How God was able to come into your life and transform you from the inside out.

Your goal is to speak the good news. It is not for you to make them receive it, just to deliver the message God has given you to speak. Some plant. Some water. Some till. But God makes it grow!

Consider your role! Consider your responsibility! Are you a watchman in the tower? When you get a message from God about what is going on, warn the people. Keep sharing the message and the updates that come to you. Allow God’s love, wisdom, direction, correction to be shared with those around you. Don’t hold it in for it won’t help you or anyone else to do that. By being a watchman, you are being called to another level. If you don’t warn the others, then when something happens, not only will you be in trouble or guilty of that judgement, you will also be guilty for what has happened to the other person for not having spoken up. However, if you warn them and they don’t respond, they will still receive the judgment, but you won’t be guilty or responsible for you had warned them. By speaking the warning, you give them the chance to be saved. By keeping it to yourself, you are condemning both them and yourself.

Keep on the good path and doing good things. If you turn from those ways and stray. If you start to miss the mark and walk away from God and then when you are warned about it and still don’t turn back, you will have to deal with the consequences. If you turn back to God when you are warned, then you will be saved.

You have a responsibility to share the message and the warning. They have the responsibility to determine how they will respond.

An example was when I was given the message to go and ask for forgiveness. That was my choice and it didn’t matter how they responded, it was my responsibility to ask to be forgiven. Another is when I had to forgive others, unless I did it (which thank God I did) I wouldn’t have come to the realization that because I forgave them, God would be able to forgive me.

Where are you at today? What state are you in? What will you do about it? Which way are you going to turn? Today’s message from God’s Word from Ezekiel 1-4 and Psalm 33 speaks of an incredible time that required incredible measures. It speaks of the miraculous and the need for obedience and wisdom. Consider where you are at and what you need to do. Consider where you are at and how you need to respond.

Need to talk? Want to talk? Have questions? Leave me a comment or a question as I would be happy to talk with you.