Do you realize the similarity between the old and the new?


Today’s reading provides us with just such a comparison. The old foreshadows the new, what is yet to come. There are many stories shared through the Bible where looking back since we have the benefit of the New Testament and the Old Testament, we are able to see how the old was pointing to Jesus just like the new does. Today’s reading compares Jesus and Jonah.

Jonah’s story … in the belly of a whale was three days

Jesus’ story … was laid in a tomb for three days

Both came back to the world of the living, conquering death and being able to testify God’s message that they had to the people. The challenge is, will it be received? Will lives be transformed by the power and the truth of God that they will turn back to God and follow after His ways? Will people receive the wisdom that is presented to them and be transformed or will they ignore it and face the consequences?

It’s amazing how if we don’t learn from the past we are doomed to repeat it. I have stories of where it took me more than once to get it straight. The first time I got a nudge to start looking for a new job and didn’t because I was too comfortable and all seemed good compared to the next time when I received the get out of the boat message and immediately took action having learned through the pain of my mistakes the first time. Another time I was being given the message to forgive but I could always find an excuse to not forgive and to allow the bitterness to build up and become toxic in me compared to the next time when I was treated wrong, lied to and about, my first response was to forgive and what a difference that made to the process. It was definitely healthier to me. If we don’t learn from the past we are doomed to repeat it. We don’t have to learn through our own pain and suffering either, we can learn from the experiences of others so that we don’t have to go through it ourselves. But it is all a choice that we have to make. Learn or Repeat! Choose wisely, when you don’t you put yourself into the position where you will deal with the pain and the consequences of your decisions. Choose wisely, so you don’t have to go through the process more than twice showing you learned from the first time. God’s Word has wisdom for this life. We can choose to learn from it or to deal with the consequences of trying to do it our own way.

Jonah’s story…We see the people of Nineveh receive the message and turn from their wicked ways and back to God.

Jesus’ story…We see how pre-resurrection that Jesus warns them about not listening to Him. Post resurrection there are still people who won’t listen or hear, however, there are many lives that have been transformed by the resurrection power of Jesus all around the world.

We all face choices. We all have to decide. It’s one of the pros and one of the cons of getting a freewill.

We can choose to receive the message and then allow the light of Jesus to shine through us or not.

We can choose to receive the hope of Jesus and share it with those around us who need it or not.

We can choose to fill ourselves with the light and love of Jesus so that it overflows or not.

So will you choose to shine? Will you choose to let you light be seen by the world around you? Will you choose to share the Good News? Will you be someone who helps share the hope that is within you so that others don’t have to try and learn it through the pain? Will you be someone who shares their stories so that other can learn through you rather than on their own? Just like people get the choice of what they will receive or accept, we have the choice of whether we will share and care enough to give!

Because as today’s reading speaks, when Jesus comes back it will be judgment time. As we see in Luke, Jesus warns that the people of Nineveh will stand and accuse as well as the queen of Sheba who received the wisdom of Solomon will stand and accuse for not have received the wisdom of Jesus. We see in 2 Thessalonians 1

3Our friends, we must thank God at all times for you. It is right for us to do so, because your faith is growing so much and the love each of you has for the others is becoming greater. 4That is why we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God. We boast about the way you continue to endure and believe through all the persecutions and sufferings you are experiencing. 5All of this proves that God’s judgment is just and as a result you will become worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering. 6God will do what is right: he will bring suffering on those who make you suffer, 7and he will give relief to you who suffer and to us as well. He will do this when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven with his mighty angels, 8with a flaming fire, to punish those who reject God and who do not obey the Good News about our Lord Jesus. 9They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from his glorious might, 10when he comes on that Day to receive glory from all his people and honor from all who believe. You too will be among them, because you have believed the message that we told you. 11That is why we always pray for you. We ask our God to make you worthy of the life he has called you to live. May he fulfill by his power all your desire for goodness and complete your work of faith. 12In this way the name of our Lord Jesus will receive glory from you, and you from him, by the grace of our God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So how will you choose to live today? How will you choose to share and care? How will you choose to dare? This is the day that the Lord has made, let’s rejoice and be glad in it! Let’s live to our fullest potential. Let’s praise God for the victory that has already been won through the sacrifice of Jesus and the resurrection from the grave.

1Praise the Lord, my protector! He trains me for battle and prepares me for war. 2He is my protector and defender, my shelter and savior, in whom I trust for safety. He subdues the nations under me. 3Lord, what are mortals, that you notice them; mere mortals, that you pay attention to us? 4We are like a puff of wind; our days are like a passing shadow. 5O Lord, tear the sky open and come down; touch the mountains, and they will pour out smoke. 6Send flashes of lightning and scatter your enemies; shoot your arrows and send them running. 7Reach down from above, pull me out of the deep water, and rescue me; save me from the power of foreigners, 8who never tell the truth and lie even under oath. 9I will sing you a new song, O God; I will play the harp and sing to you. 10You give victory to kings and rescue your servant David. 11Save me from my cruel enemies; rescue me from the power of foreigners, who never tell the truth and lie even under oath. 12May our sons in their youth be like plants that grow up strong. May our daughters be like stately columns which adorn the corners of a palace. 13May our barns be filled with crops of every kind. May the sheep in our fields bear young by the tens of thousands. 14May our cattle reproduce plentifully without miscarriage or loss. May there be no cries of distress in our streets. 15Happy is the nation of whom this is true; happy are the people whose God is the Lord! –from Psalm 144

The power of unity!


Unity2ChangeTheWorld

Ever heard the saying united we stand, divided we fall? Do you realize the difference between unity and uniformity? Do you realize that division breaks things apart compared to unity which holds things together? Looking into unity, I found this interesting article based on Psalm 133:1-3 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!…and the article says the following:

Let a difference be observed between “unity” and uniformity. The one is a Divine, the other a human thing. Acts of uniformity are the product of man. God only can make us the subjects of sacred “unity.” Uniformity we get in trees and hedges hacked, cut, and clipped, so as to reduce them to a common size and shape. “Unity” without uniformity we get in the trees of the forest, all growing according to the course of nature, of diverse shape, and size, and worth, but dependent for their wild strength and beauty on the same genial influences of nature, as they stretch out their thousand branches and myriad leaves to catch the light, and air, and dew, and showers of heaven. Uniformity we have in the classified assortment of flowers, arranged in pots or plots of ground according to their size and colour, no one sort allowed to mingle with another. “Unity” is the gathered bunch, worthy of the admiration of every beholder, whose difference of form, colour, and odour only adds to the loveliness of the flowers, which are all bound by one cord, enclosed in the one vessel, and made to drink of the same vital element, — the liquid stream of life. We are told that it is highly probable that in the wide domain of material nature there are to be found no two things alike, not even two drops of water, or two flakes of snow. Who ever knew two human faces alike? or two voices with precisely the same cadence? or two human forms identical in every particular? Is it, then, a thing of astonishment that in the mental and moral world there should be differences of thought, and judgment, and feelings? “One star differeth from another star in glory,” but amid all the varied glories of the “heavens” there is no want of “unity.”

(Anon.)

I makes some very interesting observations about how God’s impact on our lives is so different than if we let the ways of man control or manipulate our lives. Unity is what we should aim for, for there is power in unity! With God in the center, a rope of three strands isn’t easily broken. Throughout the Bible, God’s Word speaks to the importance of unity and specifically unity within the church

  • Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3
  • Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 1 Peter 3:8
  • A song of ascents. Of David. How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1
  • And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14
  • Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ Ephesians 4:13
  • I in them and you in me–so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. – John 17:23
  • Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, Romans 15:5
  • I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 1 Corinthians 1:10

Do you ever notice the combined power of unity and peace? In many cases with unity comes power and with unity there also comes peace because everyone is in one accord.

Today’s reading begins on this subject when people confront Jesus because of the miraculous deliverance He provided to a possessed man.

Jesus and Beelzebul

(Matthew 12.22-30; Mark 3.20-27)
14Jesus was driving out a demon that could not talk; and when the demon went out, the man began to talk. The crowds were amazed, 15but some of the people said, “It is Beelzebul, the chief of the demons, who gives him the power to drive them out.” 16Others wanted to trap Jesus, so they asked him to perform a miracle to show that God approved of him. 17But Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he said to them, “Any country that divides itself into groups which fight each other will not last very long; a family divided against itself falls apart. 18So if Satan’s kingdom has groups fighting each other, how can it last? You say that I drive out demons because Beelzebul gives me the power to do so. 19If this is how I drive them out, how do your followers drive them out? Your own followers prove that you are wrong! 20No, it is rather by means of God’s power that I drive out demons, and this proves that the Kingdom of God has already come to you. 21“When a strong man, with all his weapons ready, guards his own house, all his belongings are safe. 22But when a stronger man attacks him and defeats him, he carries away all the weapons the owner was depending on and divides up what he stole. 23“Anyone who is not for me is really against me; anyone who does not help me gather is really scattering.

The Return of the Evil Spirit

(Matthew 12.43-45)
24“When an evil spirit goes out of a person, it travels over dry country looking for a place to rest. If it can’t find one, it says to itself, ‘I will go back to my house.’ 25So it goes back and finds the house clean and all fixed up. 26Then it goes out and brings seven other spirits even worse than itself, and they come and live there. So when it is all over, that person is in worse shape than at the beginning.”

True Happiness

27When Jesus had said this, a woman spoke up from the crowd and said to him, “How happy is the woman who bore you and nursed you!” 28But Jesus answered, “Rather, how happy are those who hear the word of God and obey it!”

– from Luke 11

UnityInTheHolySpiritIt important to have unity. It is important to not try and go it alone. It’s important to Jesus in the center and as the authority of your heart house so that His Spirit can lead you and guide you as to what we should allow in. When we invite Jesus in, He helps to clean in up and clean I tout. When we live with Him, we prevent stuff that shouldn’t be in there from getting back in. We need to stand our guard because the devil is going to try to trick us and deceive us so that he can find a crack to get his fingers into our lives and try to rip us apart.

Today’s reading continues in the theme of unity. The importance of that unity to direct and instruct, to protect and encourage. This unity will produce and provide a peace within the group.

12We beg you, our friends, to pay proper respect to those who work among you, who guide and instruct you in the Christian life. 13Treat them with the greatest respect and love because of the work they do. Be at peace among yourselves. 14We urge you, our friends, to warn the idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15See that no one pays back wrong for wrong, but at all times make it your aim to do good to one another and to all people. 16Be joyful always, 17pray at all times, 18be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus. 19Do not restrain the Holy Spirit; 20do not despise inspired messages. 21Put all things to the test: keep what is good 22and avoid every kind of evil. 23May the God who gives us peace make you holy in every way and keep your whole being—spirit, soul, and body—free from every fault at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24He who calls you will do it, because he is faithful. 25Pray also for us, friends. 26Greet all the believers with the kiss of peace. 27I urge you by the authority of the Lord to read this letter to all the believers. 28The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  –from 1 Thessalonians 5

Need help? Don’t be afraid to ask God for help! Consider a prayer like…

1Lord, hear my prayer! In your righteousness listen to my plea; answer me in your faithfulness! 2Don’t put me, your servant, on trial; no one is innocent in your sight. 3My enemies have hunted me down and completely defeated me. They have put me in a dark prison, and I am like those who died long ago. 4So I am ready to give up; I am in deep despair. 5I remember the days gone by; I think about all that you have done, I bring to mind all your deeds. 6I lift up my hands to you in prayer; like dry ground my soul is thirsty for you. 7Answer me now, Lord! I have lost all hope. Don’t hide yourself from me, or I will be among those who go down to the world of the dead. 8Remind me each morning of your constant love, for I put my trust in you. My prayers go up to you; show me the way I should go. 9I go to you for protection, Lord; rescue me from my enemies. 10You are my God; teach me to do your will. Be good to me, and guide me on a safe path. 11Rescue me, Lord, as you have promised; in your goodness save me from my troubles! 12Because of your love for me, kill my enemies and destroy all my oppressors, for I am your servant.

–from Psalm 143

Do you know how to pray?


Have you ever been taught? Do you know the pattern? Do you understand the pattern? I remember listening to a sermon by Pastor Jenkins where he breaks it down.

Today’s reading starts on this topic…

1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 2Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say this:
‘Father: May your holy name be honored; may your Kingdom come.
3Give us day by day the food we need.
4Forgive us our sins, for we forgive everyone who does us wrong.
And do not bring us to hard testing.’”

5And Jesus said to his disciples, “Suppose one of you should go to a friend’s house at midnight and say, ‘Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. 6A friend of mine who is on a trip has just come to my house, and I don’t have any food for him!’ 7And suppose your friend should answer from inside, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8Well, what then? I tell you that even if he will not get up and give you the bread because you are his friend, yet he will get up and give you everything you need because you are not ashamed to keep on asking. 9And so I say to you: Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. 10For those who ask will receive, and those who seek will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks. 11Would any of you who are fathers give your son a snake when he asks for fish? 12Or would you give him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? 13As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
–from Luke 11

This version/translation is a bit different from what I am used to, so I will use another translation to help breakdown the pattern for prayer…

  • Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name
    • First we need to lift God up and praise Him! Glorify Him! Exalt Him! Thank Him for what He has done!
  • Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
    • Next, ask for His will in your life. Ask Him for His presence to cover your life. Ask Him to guide your every step so that His will can be done in and through your life.
  • Give us day by day our daily bread.
  • And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.
  • And now we need to praise God and thank Him for what He has done and is about to do in and through this day! Another version closes with:
    • For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen

It’s really interesting to break it up this way. It’s great to take time with each piece so that we get it, and don’t miss out. We don’t need to be repeating things over and over, you don’t need to be out there making a show, Jesus says: “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites! They love to stand up and pray in the houses of worship and on the street corners, so that everyone will see them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full.” We don’t need to be babbling on and one for Jesus says: “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” Praying is an intimate conversation between you and God. Jesus gives this advice: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

So let’s be prepared! Let’s be ready! Let’s make sure our hearts are right with God! Jesus is coming back, so let’s be ready!

Be Ready for the Lord’s Coming

1There is no need to write you, friends, about the times and occasions when these things will happen. 2For you yourselves know very well that the Day of the Lord will come as a thief comes at night. 3When people say, “Everything is quiet and safe,” then suddenly destruction will hit them! It will come as suddenly as the pains that come upon a woman in labor, and people will not escape. 4But you, friends, are not in the darkness, and the Day should not take you by surprise like a thief. 5All of you are people who belong to the light, who belong to the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6So then, we should not be sleeping like the others; we should be awake and sober. 7It is at night when people sleep; it is at night when they get drunk. 8But we belong to the day, and we should be sober. We must wear faith and love as a breastplate, and our hope of salvation as a helmet. 9God did not choose us to suffer his anger, but to possess salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us in order that we might live together with him, whether we are alive or dead when he comes. 11And so encourage one another and help one another, just as you are now doing. –from 1 Thessalonians 5

Let’s be more hearers of the Word, but let’s be doers of the Word! Let’s be encouraging one another t o do the right thing. Let’s be helping one another so that nobody has to go it alone!

Not sure what to do? Not sure where to turn? Turn to God and ask for help!

1I call to the Lord for help; I plead with him. 2I bring him all my complaints; I tell him all my troubles. 3When I am ready to give up, he knows what I should do. In the path where I walk, my enemies have hidden a trap for me. 4When I look beside me, I see that there is no one to help me, no one to protect me. No one cares for me. 5Lord, I cry to you for help; you, Lord, are my protector; you are all I want in this life. 6Listen to my cry for help, for I am sunk in despair. Save me from my enemies; they are too strong for me. 7Set me free from my distress; then in the assembly of your people I will praise you because of your goodness to me. –from Psalm 142