God can use all things for good!

God can use all things for His purposes! Ever been in a situation where you didn’t really plan or expect to be there? Ever been in a situation where because of doing things your way, you ended up in a situation you would never have asked to be in? Ever been in a situation where it got tough and unfair and even in the midst of that God showed up and provided? I remember a time clearly. Looking back even though it was a time I would never have asked for, having come out the other side, I would never want to give it up! In that time of pain and trial, being mistreated and lied to, what I learned was the power of forgiveness. It taught me something I have been able to share with others. It taught me something that others who have been betrayed, lied to, or who are going through depression and anxiety can hear about and turn their lives around.

Today’s reading continues with Jacob who tricked his dad and ran away out of fear of his brother’s wrath. Let’s see how he is doing…

Jacob Loves Rachel

1Then Jacob lifted up his feet and went to the land of the peoples of the east.
2When he looked, suddenly, there was a well in the field, and there were three herds of sheep resting by it. (For from that well they would water the flocks. The stone on the mouth of the well was large.
3When all the herds gathered there, they would roll away the stone from the mouth of the well and water the flocks, and put the stone back to its place over the mouth of the well.)
4Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where are you from?” “We’re from Haran,” they said.
5So he said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s son?” They said, “We know.”
6He said to them, “Is he well?” “Well,” they said. “Look, here comes his daughter Rachel with the flock.”
7He said, “Since it’s still the middle of the day, it’s not time for the livestock to be gathered. Water the flock and let them go and graze.”
8But they said, “We can’t, not until all the flocks are gathered and the stone is rolled away from the mouth of the well—then we water the flock.”
9While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with the flock that belonged to her father (for she was a shepherdess).
10Now when Jacob saw Rachel (the daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother), Jacob stepped forward and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered the flock of Laban, his mother’s brother.
11Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept.
12Then Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s relative and that he was Rebekah’s son. So she ran and told her father.
13Now when Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him, hugged and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Then he told Laban all these things.
14Laban said to him, “Surely you are my own bone and flesh.” And he stayed with him for a month.
15Then Laban said to Jacob, “Should you, my relative, serve me for nothing? Tell me, what should your wages be?”
16Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
17Leah’s eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance.
18Jacob was in love with Rachel, so he said, “Let me serve you for seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.”
19Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than I give her to another man! Stay with me.”
20So Jacob worked for Rachel seven years, yet in his eyes it was like a few days, because of his love for her.
21Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my days are completed, so I may go to her.”
22So Laban gathered all the men of the place and he prepared a feast.
23When it was evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to him, and he went to her.
24Laban also gave her Zilpah his female servant to his daughter Leah as a female servant.
25So when it was morning, behold there she was, Leah! So he said to Laban, “What is this you’ve done to me? Wasn’t it for Rachel that I worked with you? So why have you deceived me?”
26But Laban said, “It’s not done so in our place—to give the younger before the first-born.
27Complete the bridal week for this one. Then we’ll also give you this other—for work that you’ll do with me—another seven years more.”
28So Jacob did; he also completed this one’s bridal week. Then he gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife.
29Laban also gave his daughter Rachel his female servant Bilhah, to be a servant for her.
30Jacob also went to Rachel and indeed loved Rachel more than Leah. So he served with him for yet another seven years.

Rivalry Continues With Wives

31Now Adonai saw that Leah was unloved, so he opened her womb; but Rachel was unable to conceive.
32Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son and named him Reuben because she said, “For Adonai has seen my affliction. Surely now my husband will love me.”
33Then she became pregnant again and gave birth to a son, and said, “For Adonai heard that I am hated, so He’s given me this one also,” and she named him Simeon.
34Then she became pregnant again and gave birth to a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will join himself to me because I’ve given birth to three sons for him.” For this reason he was named Levi.
35Then she became pregnant again and gave birth to a son and said, “This time I praise Adonai.” For this reason she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.
–from Genesis 29

There will be trials. There will be trouble. But don’t lose hope and don’t give up! Today’s reading continues…

1When Rachel saw that she bore no children for Jacob, Rachel was jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me sons—if there are none, I’ll die!”
2But Jacob became furious with Rachel and said, “Am I, instead of God, the one who withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”
3So she said, “Here’s my maid-servant Bilhah. Go to her and let her give birth on my knees, so that from her I may also build a family.”
4Then she gave her maid-servant Bilhah to him for a wife, and Jacob went to her.
5Bilhah became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Jacob.
6So Rachel said, “God has judged my cause and also heard my voice—and given me a son.” Therefore she named him Dan.
7Then Rachel’s female servant became pregnant again and gave birth to a second son for Jacob.
8So Rachel said, “I’ve surely wrestled greatly with my sister — also I’ve won.” So she named him Naphtali.
9Now Leah saw that she stopped having children, so she took Zilpah her female servant and gave her to Jacob as a wife.
10Then Zilpah, Leah’s female servant, gave birth to a son for Jacob.
11Leah said, “How fortunate!” So she named him Gad.
12Then Zilpah, Leah’s female servant, gave birth to a second son for Jacob.
13Leah said, “How happy am I, for daughters have called me happy.” So she named him Asher.
14Now during the days of the wheat harvest, Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field and he brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
15But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took my husband away? You’d also take away my son’s mandrakes?” So Rachel said, “That being so, let him lie with you tonight, in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.”
16So when Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him, and she said, “You must come to me. For I’ve actually hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that very night.
17Moreover, God heard Leah, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a fifth son for Jacob.
18Leah said, “God gave me my reward because I gave my female servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.
19Then Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to a sixth son for Jacob.
20Leah said, “God has presented me a good gift. This time my husband will honor me for I’ve borne six sons for him.” So she named him Zebulun.
21Afterwards she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
22Then God remembered Rachel and God listened to her and opened her womb.
23Then she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. So she said, “God has taken away my disgrace.”
24She named him Joseph saying, “May Adonai add another son for me.”

Jacob Outwits Laban

25Now it was after Rachel gave birth to Joseph that Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away so that I can go to my place and to my land.
26Give me my wives and my children for whom I’ve served you, and let me go. For you yourself know my labor—that I’ve served you.”
27But Laban said to him, “If I’ve found favor in your eyes—I’ve looked for good omens, and Adonai has blessed me because of you.”
28Moreover he said, “Name your own price and I’ll pay it.”
29Then he said to him, “You yourself know how I’ve served you and how your livestock fared with me.
30For you had very little before I came, and it has been busting at the seams in abundance. So Adonai blessed you with my every step. So now, when am I myself going to make something for my household also?”
31Then he said, “What can I pay you?” Jacob said, “You don’t need to pay me anything. If you will do this one thing for me, I will shepherd your flock again and watch it:
32let me pass through your flock today, removing every colorfully spotted lamb from there and every dark-colored lamb among the sheep as well as the colorfully spotted among the goats—and that will be my salary.
33So tomorrow my honesty will testify on my behalf when you come to check on my salary you agreed to. Every one that isn’t colorfully spotted among the goats or dark-colored among the sheep with me, it is stolen.”
34So Laban said, “All right! May it be according to your word.”
35On that day he removed the colorfully striped and colorful billy goats as well as all the colorfully spotted goats—everyone with white on it—and every dark-colored one among the lambs, and he put them in the hand of his sons.
36Then he put a three-day’s journey between them and Jacob, while Jacob was shepherding Laban’s remaining flocks.
37But Jacob took fresh white poplar, almond, and plane tree branches, peeled away white stripped sections on them, exposing the white of the branches.
38Then he set the branches he had peeled in front of the flocks in the drinking troughs and watering channels where the flocks come to drink. Since they were in heat when they came to drink,
39the flocks mated near the branches, and the flocks gave birth to striped, spotted and colorful ones.
40Now Jacob separated the lambs and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped ones as well as all the dark-colored ones among Laban’s flocks. Then he set aside the herds for himself and did not put them with Laban’s flocks.
41Whenever the strong flocks mated, Jacob put the branches in the watering troughs before the eyes of the flocks, to have them mate near the branches.
42But when the flocks were sickly, he did not put the branches down—so the sickly ones became Laban’s and the stronger ones became Jacob’s.
43And the man grew exceedingly prosperous and had numerous flocks, along with female and male servants, camels and donkeys.
–from Genesis 30

Will you get wisdom from God? When things seem so bad, will you turn to Him? How far down will you spiral down before you turn back to God and do it His ways?

Today’s reading picks up from yesterday in Acts 12…Worry changes nothing! Prayer changes everything! So bring your request before God!

Persecution and Deliverance

1Now at that time Herod the king seized some from Messiah’s community to do them harm.
2He had Jacob, John’s brother, put to death with the sword.
3Seeing it pleased the Judean leaders, he proceeded to capture Peter as well. This was during the Days of Matzah.
4After seizing him, he put him in prison, handing him over to four squads with four soldiers each to guard him. He was intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
5So Peter was kept in prison, but prayer for him was being offered fervently to God by Messiah’s community.
6Now that very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping—bound with two chains between two soldiers, while guards before the gate were keeping watch over the prison.
7Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell. He poked Peter on the side and woke him up, saying, “Get up! Quick!” And the chains fell off his hands.
8Then the angel said to him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals,” and he did so. Then he tells him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”
9Peter went out and kept following him—he didn’t know that what was happening with the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.
10After they passed a first guard and a second, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them by itself. They went out and walked along a narrow street. Suddenly the angel left him.
11When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for real that the Lord has sent His angel and delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Judean people were expecting.”
12When he realized this, he went to the house of Miriam, the mother of John (also called Mark), where many were assembled together and praying.
13When he knocked on the door of the entrance gate, a maid named Rhoda came to answer.
14Although she recognized Peter’s voice, out of joy she did not open the gate but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate.
15They said to her, “You’re crazy!” But she kept insisting it was so. But they were saying, “It is his angel.”
16But Peter kept on knocking. When they opened the gate, they saw him and were amazed!
17But he motioned with his hand for them to be silent, and he explained to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. He said, “Go tell these things to Jacob and the brothers.” Then he left and went to another place.
18When day came, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter.
19After Herod made a search for him and did not find him, he interrogated the guards and commanded that they be led away to execution. Then he went down from Judea and stayed in Caesarea.
–from Acts 12

God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine. Put your hope and your trust in Him!

Don’t allow pride to grab a hold of you! Don’t be so arrogant! Be a humble servant of God! Go it His way! Do it His way! Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight!

Take a look at what happened to Herod…

Herod Gets His Due

20Now it happened that Herod was furious with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they came to him, united. Having won over Blastus, the king’s personal aide, they began asking for peace—because their country was supplied with food from the king’s country.
21On an appointed day, Herod donned his royal robes and, taking his seat upon the throne, began to make a speech to them.
22The people were shouting, “The voice of a god and not a human!”
23Immediately, an angel of the Lord struck him down—because he did not give God the glory. And he was eaten by worms and died.
24But the word of God kept on growing and multiplying.
25And Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their service, taking along John (who was also called Mark).
–from Acts 12

Let’s give God the glory! Let’s give God the praise! For it is He working in us that makes all things possible! It’s about revealing more of Him and less of ourselves! It’s more about shining the love and hope of Jesus to this world around us! Help us Lord today and always to keep you as our focus, to keep you as the center so that we can live lives that will be glorifying to You!

So as today begins, take time away from everyone and spend it with God! Do what you do in a way that it’s to honk your own horn, but is to glorify God! Let’s put first things first and allow God to be the focus! Today’s reading concludes in Matthew speaking truth and wisdom for us to pick up today and follow after God…

Righteous Living

1“Beware of practicing your righteousness before others to be seen by them; otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2So whenever you do tzadakah, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, so that they may be glorified by men. Amen, I tell you, they have their reward in full!
3But when you do tzadakah, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4so that your tzadakah may be in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, shall reward you.
5“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Amen, I tell you, they have their reward in full!
6But you, when you pray, go into your inner room; and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, shall reward you.
7And when you are praying, do not babble on and on like the pagans; for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
9“Therefore, pray in this way: ‘Our Father in heaven, sanctified be Your name.
10Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us this day our daily bread.
12And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
14“For if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.
16“And whenever you fast, do not become sad-faced like the hypocrites, for they neglect their faces to make their fasting evident to men. Amen, I tell you, they have their reward in full!
17But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
18so that your fasting won’t be evident to men, but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.
19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.
20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in or steal.
21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
22“The eye is the lamp of the body. Therefore if your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.
23But if your eye is bad, your body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick by one and look down on the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
–from Matthew 6

So don’t worry! Faith is the antidote of fear! So put your hope and trust in God, no matter what comes your way! Allow your trust in God to overcome the fear of the world!

Overcoming Worry with Trust

25“So I say to you, do not worry about your life—what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?
26“Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your Father in heaven feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
27And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin.
29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
30Now if in this way God clothes the grass—which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow—will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’
32For the pagans eagerly pursue all these things; yet your Father in heaven knows that you need all these.
33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
–from Matthew 6





Ever been tricked? Ever been fooled?

Ever been in a conversation and the other person wasn’t being honest with you? Ever been in a situation where everyone body wasn’t playing by the same rules and ethics? Ever been in a situation where people aren’t telling you the truth in order to get their way? Ever been tricked? Ever been fooled? Ever been that person? Was it worth the gain? If you could do it all over again, would you reconsider how you went about it? How did it play out for the other people? Do you realize God can use any situation, even if it was purposed for bad and turn it around and use it for good in His perfect plan and timing?

Today’s reading begins on such a topic when Jacob pretends to be Esau to his dad.

Jacob Tricks Isaac

1Now it was when Isaac grew old and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called Esau his elder son, and said to him, “My son.” “Here I am,” he said to him.
2“Look, I’m old,” he said. “I don’t know the day of my death.
3So now, please take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt me some game.
4Then prepare me a delicious meal that I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die.”
5Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac was speaking to Esau his son. So while Esau went to the field to hunt game to bring in,
6Rebekah said to Jacob her son, “Look, I heard your father speaking to your brother Esau saying,
7‘Bring me some game and prepare me a delicious meal that I may eat and bless you in Adonai’s presence before my death.’
8So now, my son, listen to my voice, to what I am commanding you.
9Go now to the flock and bring me two good young goats from there, so that I may prepare them as a delicious meal for your father—that he’ll love.
10Then you’ll bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before his death.”
11But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Look, my brother Esau is a hairy man, but I’m a smooth man.
12Perhaps my father will touch me, and he’ll take me for a mocker, and I’ll bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing.”
13Then his mother said to him, “Let your curse fall on me, my son. Just listen to me, and go, get them for me.”
14So he went and got them, and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared a delicious meal that his father would love.
15Rebekah also took her elder son Esau’s favorite clothes that were with her in the house, and she put them on her younger son Jacob,
16along with the skins of the young goats on his hands and on the hairless part of his neck.
17She put the delicious meal and the bread that she had prepared in the hand of Jacob her son.
18Then he came to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “I’m here. Who are you, my son?”
19Then Jacob said to his father, “I’m your firstborn, Esau. I’ve done just what you said to me. Sit up, please, and eat some of my wild game so that your soul may bless me.”
20Then Isaac said to his son, “How in the world were you able to find it so quickly, my son?” He said, “Because Adonai your God made it happen for me.”
21Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come closer so I can feel you my son—whether or not you really are my son Esau.”
22So Jacob came closer to his father Isaac, and he felt him. Then he said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice but the hands are Esau’s hands.”
23He did not recognize him because his hands were like the hairy hands of his brother Esau. So he blessed him.
24But he said, “Are you really my son Esau?” So he said, “I am.”
25Then he said, “Bring it to me and I’ll eat some of my son’s wild game, so that my soul may bless you.” So he brought it to him and he ate, and he brought him wine and he drank.
26Then his father Isaac said to him, “Please come closer and kiss me my son.”
27So he came closer and kissed him. When he smelled the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said, “Behold, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that Adonai has blessed.
28May God give you— from the dew of the sky and from the fatness of the land— an abundance of grain and new wine.
29May peoples serve you and may nations bow down to you. Be master over your brothers. May your mother’s sons bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and may those who bless you be blessed.”
30No sooner had Isaac finished blessing Jacob and Jacob had just gone out from his father Isaac’s presence, than Esau his brother came in from his hunting.
31Then he also prepared a delicious meal and brought it to his father, and he said to his father, “Let my father get up and eat of his son’s wild game that your soul may bless me.”
32His father Isaac said, “Who are you?” And he said, “I am your son, your first-born, Esau.”
33Then Isaac trembled with intense trembling and said, “Who was it then that hunted wild game and brought it to me? I ate it all just before you came and I blessed him—and yes, he will be blessed.”
34When Esau heard his father’s words, he shouted with an intensely bitter groan. Then he said to his father, “Bless me, me too, my father!”
35Then he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”
36He said, “Is this why he was named Jacob—since he’s tricked me twice already? My birthright he’s taken. Look! Now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he said, “Haven’t you saved a blessing for me?”
37Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I’ve made him master over you, and all your brothers I’ve given to him as servants. I’ve provided him with grain and new wine. What then can I do for you, my son?”
38Esau said to his father, “Do you just have one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.
39Then Isaac his father said to him, “Behold, away from the land’s fatness shall your dwelling be, away from the dew of the sky above.
40By your sword shall you live, and your brother shall you serve. But when you tear yourself loose, you will tear his yoke off your neck.”
41So Esau bore a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, “Let the time for mourning my father draw near, so that I can kill my brother Jacob!”
42Now to Rebekah was reported the words of Esau her elder son. So she sent and called for Jacob her younger son, and said to him, “Look, your brother Esau is consoling himself about you with the thought of killing you.
43So now my son, listen to my voice. Get up—flee to Laban my brother in Haran!
44Then stay with him a few days, until your brother’s rage subsides,
45until your brother’s rage turns away from you and he forgets what you’ve done to him. Then I’ll send for you and get you back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”
46Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with my life because of the daughters of Heth. If Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth like these women, from the daughters of the land what is life to me?”
–from Genesis 27

Have you ever heard was goes around comes around? Ever noticed that what you give tends to be what you get? Ever considered that if you are manipulative that you will get manipulated too? It does matter how you live your life! Live it in alignment to God’s will and God’s way! God can intersect your journey and speak hope and life and truth in the midst of your trials, troubles, and fear.

Jacob Sent to Laban

1So Isaac called for Jacob, blessed him, commanded him and said to him, “Don’t take a wife from the daughters of Canaan.
2Get up, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father, and take for yourself a wife from there, from the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.
3Now may El Shaddai bless you, and make you fruitful and multiply you so that you will become an assembly of peoples.
4And may he give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your seed with you that you may take possession of the land of your sojourn, which God gave to Abraham.”
5Then Isaac sent Jacob away and he went toward Paddan-aram, to Laban the son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.
6Now Esau saw that Isaac blessed Jacob when he sent him to Paddan-aram to take for himself a wife from there, when he blessed him and commanded him saying, “Don’t take a wife from the daughters of Canaan.”
7Jacob listened to his father Isaac and to his mother and went toward Paddan-aram.
8Then Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan were contemptible in his father Isaac’s eyes.
9So Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, Nebaioth’s sister for his wife, besides his other wives.
Jacob’s Ladder From Heaven
10Then Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran.
11He happened upon a certain place and spent the night there, for the sun had set. So he took one of the stones from the place and put it by his head and lay down in that place.
12He dreamed: All of a sudden, there was a stairway set up on the earth and its top reaching to the heavens—and behold, angels of God going up and down on it!
13Surprisingly, Adonai was standing on top of it and He said, “I am Adonai, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your seed.
14Your seed will be as the dust of the land, and you will burst forth to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed—and in your seed.
15Behold, I am with you, and I will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land, for I will not forsake you until I have done what I promised you.”
16Jacob woke up from his sleep and said, “Undoubtedly, Adonai is in this place—and I was unaware.”
17So he was afraid and said, “How fearsome this place is! This is none other than the House of God—this must be the gate of heaven!”
18Early in the morning Jacob got up and took the stone, which he had placed by his head, and set it up as a memorial stone and poured oil on top of it.
19He called the name of that place Beth-El (though originally the city’s name was Luz).
20Then Jacob made a vow saying, “If God will be with me and watch over me on this way that I am going, and provide me food to eat and clothes to wear,
21and I return in shalom to my father’s house, then Adonai will be my God.
22So this stone which I set up as a memorial stone will become God’s House, and of everything You provide me I will definitely give a tenth of it to You.”
–from Genesis 28

Are you needing a divine encounter to turn your life around? Are you in need of a wakeup call to help you get back on track? Are you aware of where to turn in order to get back on track and turn your life around? It’s to God! Ask Jesus into your heart! Ask Him for wisdom and direction! Respond in obedience to His voice and His Word! And allow Him to work in and through your life that you will be new and transformed going forward!

When God does the supernatural in your life, will you share it with others? Will you testify of His great love and His great power and the truth that He has revealed in and through your life? Today’s reading continues down this avenue as Peter comes to tell the others back in Jerusalem what God has done in the life of Cornelius and his household, a family of non-Jews! God’s plan has always been for all of us! It’s just a matter if all of us will turn to Him! Let’s checkout how Peter explains to the others what God was able to do in and through him and what God taught Peter through the vision, dreams, and experience.

Peter’s Report to Jerusalem

1Now the emissaries and brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.
2But when Peter went up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision took issue with him,
3saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”
4So Peter began explaining to them point by point, saying,
5“I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision—something like a great sheet coming down, being lowered from heaven by its four corners, and it came right to me.
6I looked inside, considering it carefully, and saw four-footed creatures of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and birds of the air.
7I also heard a voice saying, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’
8“But I said, ‘Certainly not, Lord! For never has anything unholy or unclean entered my mouth.’
9But a voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘What God has made clean, you must not consider unholy.’
10This happened three times, and then everything was pulled up to heaven.
11“At that very moment, three men arrived at the house where we were, sent to me from Caesarea.
12The Ruach told me to go with them without hesitating. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house.
13He reported to us how he had seen an angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon called Peter.
14He will speak words to you by which you will be saved—you and all your household.’
15“As I began to speak, the Ruach ha-Kodesh fell on them, just as on us at the beginning.
16And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John immersed with water, but you will be immersed in the Ruach ha-Kodesh.’
17Therefore if God gave them the same gift as also to us after we put our trust in the Lord Messiah Yeshua, who was I to stand in God’s way?”
18When they heard this they became quiet, and they glorified God, saying, “Then even to the Gentiles God has granted repentance leading to life!”

Discipling in Diaspora

19Now those scattered because of the persecution that happened in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Judeans.
20However, there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Yeshua.
21The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
22News about these things reached the ears of the community in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.
23When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he was thrilled. He encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with heartfelt devotion.
24For Barnabas was a good man, full of the Ruach ha-Kodesh and faith. And a large number was added to the Lord.
25Then Barnabas left for Tarsus to look for Saul,
26and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met together with Messiah’s community and taught a large number. Now it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christianoi.”
27Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.
28One of them, named Agabus, stood up and predicted through the Ruachthat there was going to be a great famine over all the world. (This took place during the reign of Claudius.)
29So the disciples decided to send relief to those brothers and sisters living in Judea, each according to his ability.
30This they did, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.
–from Acts 11

So have you heard the good news of Jesus? Has anyone spoken of all He has done and continues to do today? Has the news spread to your part of the world? Have you received it? What will it take for you to receive it? Is there anything keeping you receiving the greatest gift ever? The gift of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior!

Today’s reading concludes in Matthew where we learn from Jesus how and why people are blessed (Be attitudes is what it is sometimes called)…

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.”
–from Matthew 5

So let’s be salt and light to this world around us! There is so much darkness and sadness around the world and people are looking for a glimmer of hope! There is so much sorrow and pain that is looking for someone or something to spice things up! Let’s be it! Let’s share the joy of the Lord that is our strength that others may come to know the truth of God!

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.”
–from Matthew 5

Jesus didn’t come abolish the law but to fulfill it! Let’s grab a hold of this truth today!

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.”
–from Matthew 5

So how will you respond to someone who has treated your wrong? Do good! How will you respond to someone who tried to manipulate or trick you? Do good! Don’t respond in anger but instead respond in love! Why let their behavior downgrade your own? By being nice to them and doing good things, you take the high road and it will be harder on them than retaliate because that is what they would expect and may even desire to help get rid of the pain or regret going on inside of themselves.

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



How it should end: Old and Satisfied!

There is so much to our lives. There are so many things that could of, should of, would of. There are so many things we did. There are so many things we finished. There are so many things we accomplished. So take care of yourself so that in the end you will be like Abraham, old and satisfied.

That is where today’s reading starts in Genesis 25, with Abraham and his death at an old age and his descendants.

Abraham’s Old Age and Descendants

1Now Abraham took another wife—her name was Keturah.
2She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah.
3Jokshan fathered Sheba and Dedan. Dedan’s sons were Asshurim, Letushim and Leummim.
4Midian’s sons were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah. All of these were Keturah’s sons.
5Now Abraham gave everything that he had to Isaac,
6but to the sons of Abraham’s concubines, Abraham had given gifts and sent them away from his son Isaac while he was still living, eastward to the land of the east.
7Now these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life that he lived: 175 years.
8So Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, old and satisfied. Then he was gathered to his peoples.
9Then Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, next to Mamre,
10the field that Abraham bought from the sons of Heth. There Abraham is buried along with Sarah his wife.
11After Abraham’s death, God blessed Isaac his son, and Isaac lived near Beer-lahai-roi.
12Now these are the genealogies of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian slave-girl, bore to Abraham.
13These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names according to their descendants: Ishmael’s firstborn, Nebaioth, then Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam,
14Mishma, Dumah, Massa,
15Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedem.
16These are Ishmael’s sons and these are their names, by their unwalled and walled settlements, twelve princes according to their clans.
17These are the years of Ishmael’s life: 137 years. He breathed his last, died and was gathered to his peoples.
18Then they dwelled from Havilah to Shur, which is east of Egypt as you go toward Assyria. Over against all his brothers he fell.
–from Genesis 25

Today’s reading continues into the story of Isaac’s children. Ever noticed how similar and yet at the same time so different siblings can be? Ever watch how their interests are so different? Ever watch how their responses are so different? Ever watch and wonder how those differences will materialize? Genesis 25 continues speaking to Esau and Jacob…

Esau and Jacob

19Now these are the genealogies of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham fathered Isaac.
20Isaac was 40 years old when he took for himself Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife.
21Isaac prayed to Adonai on behalf of his wife because she was barren.Adonai answered his plea and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.
22But the children struggled with one another inside her, and she said, “If it’s like this, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of Adonai.
23Adonai said to her: “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from your body will be separated. One people will be stronger than the other people, but the older will serve the younger.”
24When her time came to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb.
25Now the first came out reddish, all of him was like a fur coat, and they named him Esau.
26Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding onto Esau’s heel—so he was named Jacob. Isaac was 60 years old when he fathered them.
27When the boys grew up, Esau became a man knowledgeable in hunting, an outdoorsman, while Jacob was a mild man, remaining in tents.
28Now Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for wild game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
29Now Jacob cooked a stew. When Esau came in from the field, he was exhausted,
30so Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me some of this really red stuff, because I’m exhausted”—that is why he is called Edom.
31So Jacob said, “Sell your birthright to me today.”
32Esau said, “Look, I’m about to die. Of whatever use is this to me—a birthright?”
33Jacob said, “Make a pledge to me now.” So he made a pledge to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.
34Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.
–from Genesis 25

Do you realize what you have? Do you realize the value? Would you ever give it up or give it away? You need to realize how important and how valuable you are!

Trust God and be obedient to Him! Things may get tough but don’t walk away from God! Things may get challenging but don’t walk away from God! Stick with Him! Ask Him for wisdom! Follow His instruction and His lead so that His perfect plan can be completed in and through your life! We need to walk in faith! God will protect us from our fears, but He tells us not to fear, just believe! As true as that is, have you ever felt fear? Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it is being able to do it in spite of your fear! Trust God! Live under His hand, His blessings, His love!

Today’s reading continues with a great challenge in Genesis 26…

Confirming the Covenant with Isaac

1Now there was a famine in the land—aside from the previous famine that happened in Abraham’s days. So Isaac went to King Abimelech of the Philistines, to Gerar.
2Then Adonai appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt. Dwell in the land about which I tell you.
3Live as an outsider in this land and I will be with you and bless you—for to you and to your seed I give all these lands—and I will confirm my pledge that I swore to Abraham your father.
4I will multiply your seed like the stars of the sky and I will give your seed all these lands. And in your seed all the nations of the earth will continually be blessed,
5because Abraham listened to My voice and kept My charge, My mitzvot, My decrees, and My instructions.”
6So Isaac stayed in Gerar.
7Now the men of the place asked about his wife. So he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “my wife”—“or else the men of the place would kill me on account of Rebekah, because she’s good looking.”
8Now after he had been there for a long time, King Abimelech of the Philistines peered down through the window and saw, behold, Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah.
9So Abimelech called Isaac and said, “So in fact she’s your wife! Now how could you say, ‘She’s my sister’?” Isaac said to him, “Because I said, ‘Or else I might die because of her.’”
10Then Abimelech said, “What is it that you’ve done to us? One of the people could have easily slept with your wife and you would’ve brought guilt on us.”
11So Abimelech commanded all the people saying, “Whoever touches this man or his wife will surely die!”

Adonai Blesses Isaac

12Then Isaac sowed in that land and in that year reaped a hundredfold.Adonai blessed him
13and the man became great and continued to become greater until he became very great.
14He acquired livestock of sheep and livestock of cattle, and numerous servants. Then the Philistines envied him.
15All the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of his father Abraham the Philistines stopped up and filled with dirt.
16So Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much more powerful than us.”
17So Isaac departed from there, camped in the Valley of Gerar and dwelled there.
18Then Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of his father Abraham—the Philistines had stopped them up after Abraham’s death. He gave them the same names that his father had given them.
19Then Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found a well of living water there.
20But the shepherds of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s shepherds saying, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Quarrel, because they quarreled with him.
21Then he dug another well and they quarreled over it too, so he named it Accusation.
22Then he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he named it Wide Spaces and said, “Because now Adonai has created wide spaces for us and we will be fruitful in the land.”
23He went up from there to Beer-sheba.
24Adonai appeared to him that night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you, and I will bless you and multiply your seed for the sake of Abraham my servant.”
25So he built an altar there and called on the Name of Adonai. He pitched his tent there and Isaac’s servants hollowed out a well there.

Covenant of Isaac and Abimelech

26Now Abimelech went to him from Gerar along with Achuzzat his friend and Phicol the commander of his army.
27Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, since you hate me and sent me away from you?”
28They said, “We’ve clearly seen that Adonai has been with you. So we said, ‘Let there now be an agreement between us—between us and you—and let us make a covenant with you:
29that you will do us no harm, just as we haven’t touched you and just as we did nothing to you but good, and sent you away in shalom. You are now blessed by Adonai.”
30Then he made a feast for them and they ate and drank.
31Then they got up early in the morning and made a pledge, each to his brother. Then Isaac sent them away and they departed from him in shalom.
32Now it happened that on that day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well that they dug, and said to him, “We’ve found water.”
33So he called it Pledge. That is why the city’s name is Beer-sheba to this day.
34When Esau was 40 years old, he took as wife Judith the daughter of Be-eri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite.
35But they caused a bitterness of spirit for Isaac and Rebekah.
–from Genesis 26

Are you ready for a divine encounter? Are you living a life seeking and asking and desiring God’s will? Have you received the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Consider this next story and consider how you might be able to receive this message and be transformed for the rest of your life…

The Centurion’s Vision

1Now in Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Cohort.
2He was a devout man, revering God with all his household. He gavetzadakah generously to the people and prayed to God continually.
3About the ninth hour of the day, he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming and saying to him, “Cornelius!”
4He stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” The angel said to him, “Your prayers and tzadakah have gone up as a memorial offering before God.
5Now send men to Joppa and call for Simon, also named Peter.
6He is being entertained as a guest by Simon the tanner, whose house is beside the sea.”
7When the angel speaking to him had left, he called two of his servants and a soldier from among those attached to his command.
8After he explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

Peter’s Vision

9The next day, as the soldiers were traveling and approaching the city, Peter went up to the rooftop to pray, at about the sixth hour.
10Now he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they were preparing something, he fell into a trance.
11He saw the heavens opened, and something like a great sheet coming down, lowered by its four corners to the earth.
12In it were all sorts of four-footed animals and reptiles and birds of the air.
13A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14But Peter said, “Certainly not, Lord! For never have I eaten anything unholy or unclean.”
15Again a voice came to him, a second time: “What God has made clean, you must not consider unholy.”
16This happened three times, and the sheet was immediately taken up to heaven.
17Now while Peter was puzzling about what the vision he had seen might mean, behold, the men sent by Cornelius found Simon’s house and appeared before the gate.
18They called out and began to ask whether Simon, also called Peter, was staying in this place as a guest.
19Now while Peter was mulling over the vision, the Ruach said to him, “Look here, three men are looking for you.
20But get up, go downstairs, and go with them without hesitating, because I Myself have sent them.”
21Going down to the men, Peter said, “Here, I’m the one you’re looking for. What is the reason for your coming?”
22And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well-spoken of by all the Jewish people, was directed by a holy angel to summon you to his house and to hear a message from you.”
23So Peter invited them in to be his guests. The next day he got up and went with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him.

Peter Goes to Cornelius

24The following day he entered Caesarea. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.
25As Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.
26But Peter pulled him up, saying, “Stand up! I too am just a man.”
27Talking with him, Peter went inside and found many people gathered.
28He said to them, “You yourselves know that it is not permitted for a Jewish man to associate with a non-Jew or to visit him. Yet God has shown me that I should call no one unholy or unclean.
29So I came without objection when I was sent for. I ask, then, what is the reason why you sent for me?”
30Cornelius declared, “Four days ago at this hour, I was praying minchah in my house. Suddenly, a man stood in front of me in shining clothes.
31He says, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your tzadakahremembered before God.
32Therefore send to Joppa and ask for Simon, who is also called Peter. He is staying in the house of Simon the tanner, by the sea.’
33So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”
34Then Peter opened his mouth and said, “I truly understand that God is not one to show favoritism,
35but in every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him.
36You know the message He sent to Bnei-Yisrael, proclaiming shalomthrough Messiah Yeshua—He is Lord of all.
37You know the message that has spread throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the immersion that John proclaimed.
38You know how God anointed Yeshua of Natzeret with the Ruach ha-Kodesh and power—how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with Him.
39We are witnesses to all He did, both in the Judean countryside and in Jerusalem. They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree,
40but God raised Him up on the third day and caused Him to be visible—
41not to all the people, but to us, witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God. We ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.
42And He commanded us to proclaim to the people and to testify that He is the One ordained by God as Judge of the living and the dead.
43All the prophets testify about Him—that everyone who puts his trust in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”

The Ruach Falls on the Gentiles

44While Peter was still speaking these words, the Ruach ha-Kodesh fell on all those hearing the message.
45All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were astonished, because the gift of the Ruach ha-Kodesh had been poured out even on the Gentiles.
46For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and magnifying God. Then Peter answered,
47“Can anyone refuse water for these to be immersed, who have received the Ruach ha-Kodesh just as we did?”
48So he commanded them to be immersed in the name of Messiah Yeshua. Then they asked him to stay for a few days.
–from Acts 10

Cornelius was obedient and sent for Paul. Paul was obedient and went with the men. Lives were transformed by the message of Jesus Christ to the point of the baptism of the Holy Spirit over the people that received the message of Jesus. They were also then baptized in water too.

When will it be your day? Could it be this week? Could it be that you would show up at church on Super Bowl Saturday or Sunday and spontaneously decide to get baptized? (Eastridge is doing that this coming weekend — some have gone through classes and are already signed up, but others will come out of their seats to celebrate Super Bowl through baptism.) Could it be that this coming weekend would have a lot more meaning to you than just football? If not now, then when? If not you, then who? If not here, then where? The choice is in your hands! A Bible believing and Bible preaching church is a great place to get rooted and to learn and grow in the things of God!





Do you trust Him? Will you honor Him?

What if someone called on you to do something for them. What if it was a “special mission”? What if it was so important they wanted you to take an oath that you would go and get it done? How would you respond? Would you trust him? Would you honor your word to him?

Today’s reading we see Abraham who doesn’t want his son Isaac to marry a local girl, but one from his own kind. Abraham calls his oldest servant and asks him to go and find such a girl for Isaac. The servant realizes that God blesses his master. The servant also realizes that the person may not want to come back leaving their family behind. Let’s watch this play out and see how the servant honors Abraham and how God honors the servant for his obedience and trust.

Courting of Rebekah

1Now Abraham was old, advanced in years, and Adonai blessed Abraham in everything.
2Then Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household who managed everything that belonged to him, “Now put your hand under my thigh,
3so that I may make you take an oath by Adonai, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from among the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I am dwelling.
4On the contrary, to my land and to my relatives you must go and get a wife for my son Isaac.
5But the servant said to him, “Suppose the woman were unwilling to follow after me to this land? Should I then have your son go back to the land you came from?
6Abraham said to him, “See to it that you don’t return my son there.
7Adonai, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from my native land and who spoke to me and made a pledge to me saying, ‘To your seed I will give this land’—He will send His angel before you and you will take a wife for my son from there.
8If the woman is not willing to follow after you, then you will be free from this oath of mine. Nevertheless, you must not return my son there.”
9So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and he made a pledge to him concerning this matter.
10Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and left with all the best of his master’s things in his hand. Then he arose and went to Aram-Naharaim, to Nahor’s city.
11Then he made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at evening time, the time for the going out to draw water.
12Adonai, the God of Abraham my master,” he said, “please make something happen before me today, and show loyalty to Abraham my master.
13Look, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are going out to draw water.
14Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please tip your jar so that I may drink,’ and she will say, ‘Drink—and I’ll also water your camels’—let her be the one You have appointed for your servant Isaac. So by this I’ll know that You have shown graciousness to my master.”
15Now before he had finished speaking, behold there was Rebekah (who was born to Bethuel son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother) going out with her jar on her shoulder.
16Now the young woman was very good looking, a girl of marriageable age, and she was a virgin. She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up.
17Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me sip a little water from your jar.”
18So she said, “Drink, my lord,” and she quickly lowered her jar onto her hand and gave him a drink.
19Now when she finished giving him a drink, she said, “I’ll also draw water for your camels until they’ve finished drinking.”
20So she quickly poured out her jug into the trough, ran back to the well to draw water, and drew water for all his camels,
21while the man continued to pay close attention to her, keeping silent in order to know whether or not Adonai had made his way successful.
22Now after the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a nose ring of gold weighing a half-shekel and two bracelets on her hands weighing ten shekels of gold.
23“Whose daughter are you?” he said. “Please tell me. Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”
24She said to him, “I’m the daughter of Bethuel, son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.”
25She also said to him, “There’s both straw and plenty of feed with us, as well as room to spend the night.”
26Then the man bowed down and worshipped Adonai,
27and he said, “Blessed be Adonai, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His loyalty and His truth toward my master. As for me, Adonai has guided me in the way to the house of my master’s brothers.”
28Then the young woman ran and told her mother’s house these things.
29Now Rebekah had a brother and his name was Laban, and Laban ran outside to the man at the spring.
30As soon as he saw the nose ring and the bracelets on his sister’s hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister saying, “Thus the man said to me,” he went to the man. There he was, standing by the camels at the spring.
31So he said, “Come in, blessed of Adonai. Why are you standing outside when I’ve tidied up the house and there is room for the camels?”
32So the man came to the house and he unloaded the camels. Straw and feed were given to the camels and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him.
33Food was placed before him to eat, but he said, “I won’t eat until I’ve stated my business.” So he said, “Speak.”
34“I am Abraham’s servant,” he said.
35Adonai has blessed my master very much so that he has become great, and He has given to him flocks of sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male slaves and female slaves, camels and donkeys.
36Now Sarah, my master’s wife, gave birth to a son for my master after she was old, and He gave him everything he owns.
37Then my master made me take an oath, saying, ‘You must not take a wife for my son from among the daughters of the Canaanites in whose land I’m dwelling.’
38Instead you must go to my father’s house and to my family, and take a wife for my son.’
39But I said to my master, ‘Suppose the woman won’t come back with me?’
40So he said to me, ‘Adonai, before whom I’ve walked continually, will send His angel with you, and He will make your way successful, and you will take a wife for my son from my family and from my father’s household.
41Then you’ll be free from my oath—if you come to my family and if they don’t give her to you—then you’ll be free from my oath.’
42So I came today to the spring and I said, ‘Adonai, the God of Abraham my master, if You are really going to make my way upon which I am walking successful,
43look, I’m standing by the spring of water. So let it be that the unmarried girl who is going out to draw water, to whom I’ll say, “Please give me a little water to drink from your jug,”
44and she’ll say to me, “You drink, and I’ll also draw water for your camels”—let her be the woman whom Adonai appoints for my master’s son!’
45I had not yet finished speaking to my heart, and behold there was Rebekah going out—her jug was on her shoulder and she went down to the spring and drew water. So I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’
46And she quickly lowered her jug off of her and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll also water your camels.’ So I drank, and she also watered the camels.
47Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ And she said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ Then I placed the ring on her nose and the bracelets on her hands.
48I bowed down and worshipped Adonai and blessed Adonai, the God of my master Abraham, who guided me on the true way to take the daughter of my master’s brother for his son.
49So now, if you’re really going to show loyalty and truth to my master, tell me. But if not, tell me and I’ll turn to the right or to the left.”
50Then Laban and Bethuel answered, and they said, “The matter proceeds from Adonai. We cannot speak to you bad or good.
51Rebekah is before you. Take her and go, and let her become a wife for our master’s son, just as Adonai has spoken.”
52Now when Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed down to the ground to Adonai.
53Then the servant brought out articles of silver and gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave precious gifts to her brothers and to her mother.
54Then they ate and drank, he and the men who were with him, and spent the night. When they arose in the morning, he said, “Send me off to my master.”
55But her brother with her mother said, “Let the young woman stay with us a few days—or ten. Afterwards she may go.”
56But he said to them, “Don’t delay me, since Adonai has made my way successful. Send me off so that I can go to my master.”
57So they said, “We’ll call the young woman and let’s ask her opinion.”
58Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will go.”
59So they sent Rebekah their sister off with her nanny, and Abraham’s servant and his men,
60and they blessed Rebekah and said to her: “Our sister, may you become thousands of ten thousands, and may your seed possess the gate of those who hate him.”
61Then Rebekah got up, with her maids, and they mounted the camels and followed after the man. So the servant took Rebekah and departed.
62Now Isaac had come from visiting Beer-lahai-roi and was living in the land of the Negev.
63Isaac went out to meditate strolling in the field at dusk. Then he lifted up his eyes and saw, behold, camels were coming.
64Rebekah also lifted up her eyes and saw Isaac. Then she fell off her camel.
65Then she said to the servant, “Who is that man there who is walking in the field—to meet us?” The servant said, “He is my master.” So she took the veil and covered herself.
66Then the servant recounted to Isaac all the things he had done.
67Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother, took Rebekah and she became his wife—and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after the loss of his mother.
–from Genesis 24

God can and will help you if you are willing to invite Him into the situation. He will give you signs to show you the right way, the right path, the right decision, and complete the good work He has planned in advance for you to do. God’s plan is good!

What will it take for you to turn from your old ways? What will it take for you to turn back to Jesus? What will it take to transform you life and become a new creation? Let’s check out Saul and how Jesus got a hold of his heart and transformed the rest of his life… Imagine going from number one enemy to the biggest champion of the cause. Imagine taking all the knowledge you had and being able to turn it from trying to tear something down to building something up! Imagine such a world! Words have power so choose to build up!

Saul Turns from Murder to Messiah

1Now Saul, still breathing out threats and murder against the Lord’s disciples, went to the kohen gadol .
2He requested letters of introduction from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any men or women belonging to the Way, he might bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
3As he was traveling, approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.
4Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
5“Who are You, Lord?” Saul said. “I am Yeshua—whom you are persecuting.
6But get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7The men travelling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.
8Saul got up from the ground—but opening his eyes, he could see nothing. They led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.
9For three days he could not see, and he did not eat or drink.
10Now there was a disciple named Ananias in Damascus. The Lord said to him, “Ananias.” He said, “Here I am, Lord.”
11The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street named Straight, and ask in the house of Judah for someone from Tarsus named Saul. For look, he is praying;
12and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and laying his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.”
13But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man—how much harm he has done to your kedoshim in Jerusalem.
14And here he has authority from the ruling kohanim to tie up all who call on Your name.”
15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a choice instrument to carry My name before nations and kings and Bnei-Yisrael.
16For I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
17So Ananias left and entered into the house. Laying hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Yeshua, the One who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming—has sent me, so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Ruach ha-Kodesh.”
18Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was immersed;
19and when he had taken food, he was strengthened. Now for several days, he was with the disciples in Damascus.
20Immediately he began proclaiming Yeshua in the synagogues, saying, “He is Ben-Elohim.”
21All those hearing him were amazed. They were saying, “Isn’t this the one who made havoc in Jerusalem for all those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to bring them as prisoners before the ruling kohanim?”
22But Saul kept growing stronger, and he was confounding the Jewish people living in Damascus by proving that Yeshua is the Messiah.
23When many days had passed, these Jewish people plotted to kill him—
24but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night, to kill him.
25But the disciples took Saul by night and let him down over the wall, lowering him in a basket.
26When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he made attempts to join up with the disciples—but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.
27But Barnabas took him in and brought him to the emissaries. He described to them how Saul had seen the Lord on the road and the Lord had spoken to him, and how he had spoken boldly in the name of Yeshua.
28So Saul was with them, going in and out in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
29He was speaking and arguing with the Hellenists, but they were trying to kill him.
30When the brothers found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
31So Messiah’s community throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had shalom and was built up. Walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Ruach ha-Kodesh, it kept multiplying.
Signs and Wonders Follow Peter
32Peter went here and there among them all. He came down as well to thekedoshim living in Lydda.
33There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years—he was paralyzed.
34Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Messiah Yeshua heals you. Get up and pack up your bed.” Immediately, he got up!
35All who lived in Lydda and the Plain of Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.
36In Joppa, there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translates as Dorcas). She was full of mitzvot and tzadakah, which she continually did.
37In those days, she became ill and died. When they had washed her for burial, they placed her in an upstairs room.
38Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples—hearing that Peter was there—sent two men to him, begging him, “Please come to us without delay!”
39So Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they took him to the upstairs room. All the widows were crying, showing all the tunics and other clothing Dorcas had made while she was with them.
40But Peter sent them all outside, and he got down on his knees and prayed. Then, turning to the body, he said “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
41He gave her his hand and raised her up. Then he called the kedoshim and widows and presented her alive.
42It became known throughout Joppa, and many came to believe in the Lord.
43So it happened that Peter stayed on in Joppa for several days with Simon, a tanner.
–from Acts 9

Imagine running for you life and then God tells you to go and find the guy who has been hunting you down. Imagine how much you would have to allow your faith in God to overrule your fear. Imagine how much you would have to trust God in order to step out and meet the person who has been going all over the place trying to kill you. Imagine the stories if you were the person God used to change their lives and the history of the world!

Fear Not, Just Believe!

We will all be tempted! We will all face trials of many kinds! We will all have troubles! BUT don’t be dismayed! Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds! Be an overcomer when you face troubles!

Today’s reading concludes with Jesus being tempted by the devil, using God’s Word and trying to see if he could trip up Jesus…

Overcoming Temptation with God’s Word

1Then Yeshua was led by the Ruach into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
2After He had fasted for forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.
3And when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are Ben-Elohim, tell these stones to become bread.”
4But He replied, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5Then the devil took Him into the holy city and placed Him on the highest point of the Temple.
6“If You are Ben-Elohim,” he said, “throw Yourself down. For it is written, ‘He shall command His angels concerning you,’ and ‘upon their hands they shall lift you up, so that you may not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7Yeshua said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put Adonai your God to the test.’”
8Again, the devil takes Him to a very high mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
9And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”
10Then Yeshua says to him, “Go away, satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship Adonai your God, and Him only shall you serve.’”
11Then the devil leaves Him. And behold, angels came and began to take care of Him.
–from Matthew 4

Left to our own ways, we would just get ourselves into more trouble. But if we will turn back to God and follow after Him, we will find joy unspeakable that won’t go away, peace that goes beyond all understanding. Not that we won’t have problems, but God will be with us! Not that we won’t face trials of many kind, but God will be with us! Not that we won’t have troubles, but God will be with us! So ask Jesus into your life! Allow Him to heal your heart and protect your mind! Put on the full armor of God!

Yeshua Withdraws to Seek God

12Now when Yeshua heard that John had been handed over, He withdrew to the Galilee.
13Leaving Natzeret, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali.
14This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying,
15“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations—
16the people sitting in darkness have seen a great light, and those sitting in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
17From then on, Yeshua began to proclaim, “Turn away from your sins, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
–from Matthew 4

So will you raise up others? Will you be a leader who raises others up? Will you call them to their full potential? Will you see them where they are at and call them to what you see they could be? Will you be someone who gives them a hand up instead of a hand out? Will you help them to step out and become the person they were created on purpose, with purpose and for a purpose to be?

Jesus did…

Raising Up Fishers of Men

18Now as Yeshua was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter and Andrew his brother. They were casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.
19And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
20Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
21Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, Jacob the son of Zebedee and John his brother. They were in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them.
22Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.
23Yeshua was going throughout all the Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and sickness among the people.
24News about Him spread throughout all Syria. And they brought to Him all the sick—those tormented by various diseases and afflictions, those plagued by demons, the epileptics, the paralyzed—and He healed them.
25And large crowds followed Him from the Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.
–from Matthew 4


How much do you trust God?

How far would you go? How strong is your faith? Do you believe Him at His Word?

What if you were given the promise of a legacy and then asked to sacrifice the one thing that would make it happen? To be walking it out or go through with it, you would really need to have some interesting trust and belief in God! Would you obey and trust that He would do whatever is necessary to accomplish it? Would you obey and trust that He would stop you once He knew your heart? Would you obey and trust that He would find another way? Would you say no way and try to go it your own way? Would you say no way and walk away? What if that mean you would be sacrificing both?

Today’s reading starts with Abraham facing just such a predicament. He is asked to sacrifice his son who is supposed to be the one to carry on his legacy. Let’s see how it plays out…

The Binding of Isaac

1Now it was after these things that God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham.” “Hineni,” he said.
2Then He said, “Take your son, your only son whom you love —Isaac—and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains about which I will tell you.”
3So Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son. He split wood for the burnt offering, and got up and went to the place about which God had told him.
4On the third day, Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from a distance.
5Abraham said to his young men, “Sit yourselves down here with the donkey. As for me and the young man, we’ll go over there, worship and return to you.”
6Then Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on Isaac his son. In his hand he took the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together.
7Then Isaac said to Abraham his father, “My father?” Then he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Look. Here’s the fire and the wood. But where’s the lamb for a burnt offering?”
8Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself a lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” The two of them walked on together.
9Then they came to the place about which God had told him, and Abraham built the altar there, laid out the wood, bound up Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
10Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son.
11But the angel of Adonai called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” He said, “Hineni!”
12Then He said, “Do not reach out your hand against the young man—do nothing to him at all. For now I know that you are one who fears God—you did not withhold your son, your only son, from Me.”
13Then Abraham lifted up his eyes and behold, there was a ram, just caught in the thick bushes by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
14Abraham named that place, Adonai Yireh,—as it is said today, “On the mountain, Adonai will provide.”
15The angel of Adonai called to Abraham a second time from heaven
16and said, “By myself I swear—it is a declaration of Adonai—because you have done this thing, and you did not withhold your son, your only son,
17I will richly bless you and bountifully multiply your seed like the stars of heaven, and like the sand that is on the seashore, and your seed will possess the gate of his enemies.
18In your seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed—because you obeyed My voice.”
19Then Abraham returned to his young men and they got up and went together to Beer-sheba. Then Abraham dwelled in Beer- sheba.
20Now it was after these things that it was told to Abraham, “Look, Milcah has also borne sons to Nahor your brother:
21Uz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram,
22Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Yidlaph and Bethuel.”
23Then Bethuel fathered Rebekah. These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother.
24His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also bore Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maacah.
–from Genesis 22

Do you believe that God will provide? What is it that you have need of?

Do you believe that God is good to His Word? Will you live taking hold of His promises?

Will you trust God with everything? Is there anything you will not give up to God?

Do you realize if it is worth something it should cost something? Be it as in today’s reading Sarah dies and Abraham desires to pay for the place where he will bury her or be it as with David when he wanted to buy land to be able to sacrifice to God! As David said, we need to remember as we live out our lives: (Be it in the reading from 2 Samuel 24:24 or 1 Chronicles 21:24)

But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.

–from 2 Samuel 24:24

But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

–from 1 Chronicles 21:24

Today’s reading we see how even before David, Abraham knew there was value in paying for something and it goes like this…

Abraham Purchases Machpelah

1Now Sarah’s life was 127 years—the years of Sarah’s life.
2Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), in the land of Canaan. Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.
3Then Abraham rose from before his dead one and spoke to the sons of Heth saying,
4“I am an outsider and a sojourner among you. Give me a gravesite among you so that I may bury my dead from before my presence.”
5The sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him,
6“Listen to us, my lord. You are a prince of God among us. Bury your dead in the best of our graves. None among us will withhold his grave from you, to bury your dead one.”
7Then Abraham got up and bowed down to the people of the land, to the sons of Heth,
8and spoke with them saying, “If you are of a mind to let me bury my dead from before my presence, listen to me. Plead with Ephron son of Zophar on my behalf,
9that he may give me the cave of Machpelah that belongs to him, that is at the end of his field. At the full price let him give it to me in your midst for a gravesite.”
10Now Ephron was sitting in the midst of the sons of Heth. And Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the ears of the sons of Heth, all those who enter the gate of his city, saying,
11“No, my lord, listen to me. The field—I hereby give it to you. Also the cave that is in it—I hereby give it to you. In the eyes of the sons of my people, I hereby give it to you. Bury your dead one.”
12Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land,
13and spoke to Ephron in the ears of the people of the land saying, “But if only you would please listen to me. I hereby give the price of the field. Accept it from me that I may bury my dead one there.”
14So Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him,
15“My lord, listen to me. A land worth 400 shekels of silver—what is that between me and you? Bury your dead one.”
16Abraham heard Ephron. So Abraham weighed out to Ephron the silver that he had spoken of in the ears of the sons of Heth—400 shekels of silver at the merchant’s rate.
17Now Ephron’s field that is in Machpelah next to Mamre—the field and the cave that is in it, and all the trees that are in the field in all its surrounding territory—was handed over
18to Abraham as a purchased possession in the eyes of the sons of Heth, before all those who enter the gate of his city.
19Afterward, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah next to Mamre (that is, Hebron), in the land of Canaan.
20So the field and the cave that was in it were handed over to Abraham as a gravesite from the sons of Heth.
–from Genesis 23

Today’s reading continues into Acts 8. So let’s go! Let’s go out into our community and share the good new of God! Our mission field is where we are at right here, right now, today! God’s plan was to spread God’s Good News as was spoke back in Acts 1 where we read:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

–from Acts 1:8

Sometimes we get so comfortable right where we are at, we don’t want to go. Sometimes it takes a pretty big action to cause us to move, to change, to reconsider. Sometimes that will ensure the next time we are called to go, we just go as was the case me with me when I first was told to leave the company I worked at but I thought things were so good and why would I leave. And then the VP left the company and the group got dismantled. I ended up in a group that didn’t treat me the same, I ended up in a group where I was shaken up, but God was able to even use that time to teach me an important lesson about the power of forgiveness! It set me up to be able to speak into the lives of others who were troubled, who were depressed, who were being cheated, lied to, and more. Even in that time God was able to use it to get me to go and share the good news. The next time He told me to go, it was a morning when I was reading about Peter getting out of the boat and as I drove to work as I asked God if the company I had been working for was the boat and if it was which side should I get out? I receive a Tweet that paraphrased to “get out of the boat”. Wow! And unlike that first time when I didn’t obey because I was too comfortable, this time I responded by updating my LinkedIn and my resume that night and started looking for my next job.

I had to step out of what I knew, the only job since I graduated. God used Saul to help spread the good news. The threat and the fear caused people to move and for the good news to spread. God can take what the enemy had planned for evil and turn it around and use it for good! Let’s check it out…will allow yourself to be used to transform others by pointing them to Jesus? Let’s see how it used Philip…

Saul Persecutes Messiah’s Community

1Now Saul was in agreement with Stephen’s execution. On that day a great persecution arose against Messiah’s community in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria, except the emissaries.
2Some devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.
3But Saul was destroying Messiah’s community, entering house after house; and dragging off men and women, he was throwing them into prison.

The Good News Spreads to Samaria

4Now those who had been scattered went around proclaiming the Word.
5Philip went down to the main city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them.
6The crowds were paying close attention to what Philip was saying—as they both heard and saw the signs that he was doing.
7For unclean spirits were coming out of many who were plagued, shrieking with a loud voice. Many paralyzed and crippled were healed also.
8So there was great joy in that city.
9Now a man named Simon had been practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, saying he was someone great.
10They all were paying special attention to him, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called ‘Great.’”
11And they kept paying attention to him, because for a long time he had astonished them with his magical arts.
12But when they believed Philip proclaiming the Good News about the kingdom of God and the name of Messiah Yeshua, both men and women were immersed.
13Even Simon himself believed; and after being immersed, he continued with Philip. And when he saw signs and great miracles happening, he was continually amazed.
14Now when the emissaries in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the message of God, they sent Peter and John to them.
15They came down and prayed for them to receive the Ruach ha-Kodesh.
16For He had not yet come upon them; they had only been immersed in the name of the Lord Yeshua.
17Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving theRuach ha-Kodesh.
18Now when Simon saw that the Ruach ha-Kodesh was given through the laying on of hands by the emissaries, he offered them money,
19saying, “Give this power to me, too—so that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Ruach ha-Kodesh.”
20Peter said to him, “May your silver go to ruin, and you with it—because you thought you could buy God’s gift with money!
21You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart is not right before God.
22Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be pardoned.
23For I see in you the poison of bitterness and the bondage of unrighteousness!”
24Simon replied, “Pray for me, so that none of what you have said may come upon me.”
25So when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, proclaiming the Good News to many Samaritan villages.

An Ethiopian Asks about Isaiah 53

26Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Get up, and go south on the road going down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.)
27So he got up and went. And behold, an Ethiopian eunuch—an official who was responsible for all the treasure of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians—had traveled to Jerusalem to worship
28and was now returning. Sitting in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.
29The Ruach said to Philip, “Go, catch up with this chariot.”
30Philip ran up and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31“How can I,” he said, “unless someone guides me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
32Now the passage of Scripture that he was reading was this: “He was led as a sheep to slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opens not His Mouth.
33In His humiliation justice was denied Him. Who shall recount His generation? For His life is taken away from the earth.”
34The eunuch replied to Philip, “Please tell me, who is the prophet talking about—himself or someone else?”
35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he proclaimed the Good News about Yeshua.
36Now as they were going down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, “Look, water! What’s to prevent me from being immersed?”
37,38He ordered the chariot to stop. They both got down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and Philip immersed him.
39When they came up out of the water, the Ruach Adonai snatched Philip away. The eunuch saw no more of him, for he went on his way, rejoicing.
40But Philip found himself at Azotus. And as he passed through, he kept proclaiming the Good News to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
–from Acts 8

So if you are called, will you go? What if you are called to the place you are right now? Will you share the good news so that your Father in heaven will be glorified? Will you allow your good works to speak into the lives of others so that they may praise your Father in heaven?

Some till the ground. Some plant the seeds. Some water. It’s God that makes it grow!

Today’s reading concludes in Matthew where we have been reading about the starting point of Jesus. Today’s reading we get to hear about the one who was preparing the way for the Messiah, John the Baptist. Do you know why it is important to be baptized? Because God said so, because Jesus did it, because it is a public demonstration of our faith in Jesus! Let’s check it out now…

John’s Witness to Israel’s Leaders

1In those days, John the Immerser came proclaiming in the wilderness of Judea,
2“Turn away from your sins, for the kingdom of heaven is near!”
3For he is the one Isaiah the prophet spoke about, saying, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of Adonai, and make His paths straight.’”
4Now John wore clothing from camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.
5Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the region around the Jordan.
6Confessing their sins, they were being immersed by him in the Jordan River.
7But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his immersion, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
8Therefore produce fruit worthy of repentance;
9and do not think that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’! For I tell you that from these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.
10Already the axe is laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire!
11“As for me, I immerse you in water for repentance. But the One coming after me is mightier than I am; I am not worthy to carry His sandals. He will immerse you in the Ruach ha-Kodesh and fire.
12His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He shall clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn; but the chaff He shall burn up with inextinguishable fire.”

The Heavens Open at Yeshua’s Mikveh

13Then Yeshua came from the Galilee to John, to be immersed by him in the Jordan.
14But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be immersed by You, and You are coming to me?”
15But Yeshua responded, “Let it happen now, for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” So John yielded to Him.
16After being immersed, Yeshua rose up out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Ruach Elohim descending like a dove and coming upon Him.
17And behold, a voice from the heavens said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased!”
–from Matthew 3

So how will you live out what you believe today?