THRIVE by making a difference in the world around you!


What an incredible week. Today’s verse of the day along with the special guests that are speaking at church this weekend point to the importance of doing our part to serve those in need around us.

Today’s verse of the day comes to use from Luke:

‘Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. ‘

Luke 9:23-24

So are you ready to live a life of service? Are you ready to live a life of sacrifice? Are you ready to live a life of giving? The words found in Luke after today’s verse add to these questions when it says:

‘What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? ‘

Luke 9:25

Thriving isn’t about having lots of stuff but how you choose to live your life. God has provided, so what will you choose to do with that provision? Will you be a giver or a hoarder? Will you choose to reap something greater for the kingdom of God rather than keep the seeds He has given you in your pocket? Remember how God promised to give us seed to sow and bread to eat? Don’t eat the seed, let’s choose to sow so that we can reap greatly for the kingdom of God! Let’s pause a moment to capture what God’s Word says and helps us to understand:

  • Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
    Galatians 6:7-9
  • The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
    2 Corinthians 9:6
  • Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail.
    Proverbs 22:8
  • As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.
    Job 4:8
  • Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
    Luke 6:38
  • Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! – Psalm 126:5
  • Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. You have plowed iniquity; you have reaped injustice; you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your own way and in the multitude of your warriors,
    Hosea 10:12-13
  • “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
    Matthew 7:12
  • Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
    Philippians 2:3
  • And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.
    Mark 4:24
  • Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!
    Luke 12:24

So today to thrive, we know that we need to trust God rather than our own understanding. We need to take the gifts and talents, and the provision to glorify Him, sowing it to His purpose.

When we are in need we will turn to God because we know that God answers prayer. We need to live by faith and not by sight and to do that requires stepping out and taking risks. We need to make sure our vertical relationship with God is strong so that it will overflow and produce good horizontal relationships with people around us. We need to share what God is and has done in and through our lives, testifying of His goodness and faithfulness, through the highs and the lows. We need to remember and share that Jeremiah 29:11 is for everyone! We need to step into and live in the reality that nothing is impossible with God as it says in Matthew 19:26 and Luke 1:37. God knows your need and can provide just enough, not too much and not too little to meet your needs. So today lets decide to be Jesus’s hands and feet into the world around us! Let’s decide to be God’s ambassadors, God’s helpers, and God’s people!


Today’s post from Be The Dads is Day 4 – How has becoming a father changed your perspective on a Father’s love for his children?


So where are you at today? Are you ready to thrive? Are you ready to thrive for the glory of God? Are you ready to make a difference? Are you ready to be the difference? Are you ready to go beyond just making a scratch or a dent and making a real difference? Then let’s decide we will thrive by inviting Jesus into the situation and walking out our lives in a relationship with Him. Let’s pray:


Do you realize what you have to offer?


Scenario: You run into someone with a need.

You observe them physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. Do you realize what their biggest need is? Do you realize what you have to offer?

Will you look to take the easy route and just give them what they are asking for? Will you go above and beyond and give them what they really have need of?

I remember when I was looking to create Happy Today calendars and told people that I would rather give away a million Happy Today calendars for free than to sell a million calendars for a dollar each. They said I could take the million dollars and give it away (ex. $100 per person) and I responded with the $100 would get spent and the person’s happiness from the $100 would be gone whereas by giving them a calendar, it could last throughout the year(s).

Will you look for a quick fix in order to make them go away? Will you take hold of what you have to offer and give more, potentially something they may not realize they have need of? It requires that you realize what you have to offer!

Take a look around and consider the needs around you! Take a look around and consider the needs in this world!

Are there physiological needs? Are there safety needs? Are there needs of love and belonging? Are there needs to be esteemed? Are there needs for self-actualization?

Do you see which needs are met and which needs are yet to be met?

Do you realize what you have to offer? Where can you find out in the moment?

Remember yesterday the power that comes by receiving the Holy Spirit?

Are you walking in the Spirit and being sensitive to the still quiet voice in each situation? Are you willing to quiet yourself in order to hear what is required? Are you willing to quiet yourself in order to hear what you have to offer? Are willing to quiet yourself in order to hear what God is calling you to do in that very moment? Are you ready and willing to do what He asks, right here and right now?

As we go through today’s reading, as we go through today, let’s be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and wisdom and discernment and direction and peace so that we can use today to glorify God!

Let’s realize our potential and what we have to offer!


2020 Hindsight 
(clarity of vision)
The 49-Week Challenge 
(Day 123)

Want to join me in the challenge? Click Day 123 link to join me and sign up.

April is in the rearview mirror

With April in the rear view mirror, let’s share our takeaways from today’s reading! Did you catch and promises to trust? Did you catch any commands to obey? Did you catch any truths to embrace? Did you catch any warnings to heed? Did you catch any encouragement to rest in? What did you learn about God? What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about the world? What verse stood out most to you today?

If you are interested in getting together or sharing the information together, please let me know through the comment section below, through email, or even through text messages.

Today’s reading from God’s Word – the Bible comes to us from:


My Notes:

  • Do you realize that even when you are going thru your normal routine, you have something to offer? So be ready!
  • Imagine being the beggar that Peter and John met and the offer Peter gave him in comparison to what he had asked for.
  • Do you realize that when the power of Jesus is working in and through you miracles can happen?
  • Do you realize that by faith in Jesus miracles can happen?
  • Do you realize that what you have to offer is your faith in Jesus?
  • Can you see beyond the surface level needs and allow God’s power to transform the lives of others?
  • Are you spending time in God’s Word in order to be filled and sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit?
  • Are you going to be a blessing that will turn people from their wickedness and back towards God?
  • Will you be sensitive to God’s direction and do what He calls you to do?
  • Will you be like Isaac and obey what God says?
  • Will you live in faith or in fear?
  • Will you walk in God’s blessing?
  • Will you lean in and trust in God more than anything else?
  • Will you stand firm in the trust of God?
  • Will you flourish because you are under the hand of God?
  • Will you walk and live in faith trusting in God?
  • What do you have to give up to God?
  • What do you have to offer to God?
  • Will you trust God enough to give Him your tithe?
  • Will you trust God enough to give offerings above your tithe?
  • How much are you willing to do in order to bless and glorify God?
  • Will you trust God enough to walk out your life in His ways?
  • Will you receive Jesus in order to find everlasting peace?
  • Will you receive Jesus in order to find forgiveness?
  • Will you receive Jesus in order to find eternal life with God?
  • Will you call on Jesus and be saved?
  • Will you choose to do what is good or what is evil in the eyes of the Lord?
  • Will you choose to receive God’s favor or will you choose to be condemned by God?
  • How bad do things need to get for you to turn back to God?
  • What would it take for you to humble yourself, turn back to God, and pray, turning from your sins?
  • How far down the downward spiral would you have to go before you stopped, turned back, looked up to God and asked for forgiveness and to be saved?
  • Will you do what God asks of you? Will you trust Him enough that you find success?
  • How great is your faith? Is it big enough that as the widow and her son who filled the many jugs with oil, you will be filled with the Holy Spirit and be able to walk out the rest of your life in the trust, the hope, the love, the joy, and the power of God?

As day 123 of 2020 begins, I would hate to miss giving the opportunity to anyone who hasn’t received Jesus into their lives as their Lord and Savior an opportunity to make the decision this early into 2020 and the blessing to get to live out the rest of 2020 in that power and that truth and that hope.

If you would like to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, why not join me in this prayer?

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and there is nothing that I can do to save myself. I confess my complete helplessness to forgive my own sin or to work my way to heaven. At this moment I trust Christ alone as the One who bore my sin when He died on the cross. I believe that He did all that will ever be necessary for me to stand in your holy presence. I thank you that Christ was raised from the dead as a guarantee of my own resurrection. As best as I can, I now transfer my trust to Him. I am grateful that He has promised to receive me despite my many sins and failures. Father, I take you at your word. I thank you that I can face death now that you are my Savior. Thank you for the assurance that you will walk with me through the deep valley. Thank you for hearing this prayer. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The Sinner’s Prayer

Did you pray with me? Would you be willing to leave me a comment so that I can pray with and for you about such an incredible decision? Or if you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment on my blog, why not email or text me instead?

Today’s devotional The 49-Week Challenge comes from Life.Church. For more information, please visit www.life.church — Thank you Life.Church for sharing this reading plan through Bible.com

Who is the right choice?


Is it the strongest? Is it the smartest? Is it the one with the most faith? Is it the weakest? Is it the least smart? Is it the one who lacks faith? Who is the right choice to get it done? Is it someone who thinks they can do it all on their own? Is it someone who thinks they can’t do it all on their own? Is it someone proud? Is it someone humble? Is it someone who is a good leader? Is it someone who is a good follower? What if the choice is you?

Will you accept the offer? Will you test the offer to make sure it is real? Will you doubly test the offer? Will you question the offer? Will you receive the offer? Will you answer the call?

Would it matter what it was for? Would it matter how big or small it is? Would it matter the responsibility that comes with it? Would it matter the pressure that comes with it?

Who is the right choice? Is it you?


Today’s reading gets started with the story of Gideon in Judges 6:

‘The Israelites did evil in the Lord ’s sight. So the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. The Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, marauders from Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east would attack Israel, camping in the land and destroying crops as far away as Gaza. They left the Israelites with nothing to eat, taking all the sheep, goats, cattle, and donkeys. These enemy hordes, coming with their livestock and tents, were as thick as locusts; they arrived on droves of camels too numerous to count. And they stayed until the land was stripped bare. So Israel was reduced to starvation by the Midianites. Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help. When they cried out to the Lord because of Midian, the Lord sent a prophet to the Israelites. He said, “This is what the Lord , the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of slavery in Egypt. I rescued you from the Egyptians and from all who oppressed you. I drove out your enemies and gave you their land. I told you, ‘I am the Lord your God. You must not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you now live.’ But you have not listened to me.” Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.” Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” The Lord said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.” Gideon replied, “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me. Don’t go away until I come back and bring my offering to you.” He answered, “I will stay here until you return.” Gideon hurried home. He cooked a young goat, and with a basket of flour he baked some bread without yeast. Then, carrying the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, he brought them out and presented them to the angel, who was under the great tree. The angel of God said to him, “Place the meat and the unleavened bread on this rock, and pour the broth over it.” And Gideon did as he was told. Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and bread with the tip of the staff in his hand, and fire flamed up from the rock and consumed all he had brought. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord , he cried out, “Oh, Sovereign Lord , I’m doomed! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!” “It is all right,” the Lord replied. “Do not be afraid. You will not die.” And Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and named it Yahweh-Shalom (which means “the Lord is peace”). The altar remains in Ophrah in the land of the clan of Abiezer to this day. That night the Lord said to Gideon, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one that is seven years old. Pull down your father’s altar to Baal, and cut down the Asherah pole standing beside it. Then build an altar to the Lord your God here on this hilltop sanctuary, laying the stones carefully. Sacrifice the bull as a burnt offering on the altar, using as fuel the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down.” So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord had commanded. But he did it at night because he was afraid of the other members of his father’s household and the people of the town. Early the next morning, as the people of the town began to stir, someone discovered that the altar of Baal had been broken down and that the Asherah pole beside it had been cut down. In their place a new altar had been built, and on it were the remains of the bull that had been sacrificed. The people said to each other, “Who did this?” And after asking around and making a careful search, they learned that it was Gideon, the son of Joash. “Bring out your son,” the men of the town demanded of Joash. “He must die for destroying the altar of Baal and for cutting down the Asherah pole.” But Joash shouted to the mob that confronted him, “Why are you defending Baal? Will you argue his case? Whoever pleads his case will be put to death by morning! If Baal truly is a god, let him defend himself and destroy the one who broke down his altar!” From then on Gideon was called Jerub-baal, which means “Let Baal defend himself,” because he broke down Baal’s altar.

Soon afterward the armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east formed an alliance against Israel and crossed the Jordan, camping in the valley of Jezreel. Then the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with power. He blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, and the men of the clan of Abiezer came to him. He also sent messengers throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, summoning their warriors, and all of them responded. Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.” So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew.’

Judges 6

We continue in our reading with Isaiah 64:

‘Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down! How the mountains would quake in your presence! As fire causes wood to burn and water to boil, your coming would make the nations tremble. Then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame! When you came down long ago, you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations. And oh, how the mountains quaked! For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him! You welcome those who gladly do good, who follow godly ways. But you have been very angry with us, for we are not godly. We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved? We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. Yet no one calls on your name or pleads with you for mercy. Therefore, you have turned away from us and turned us over to our sins. And yet, O Lord , you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand. Don’t be so angry with us, Lord . Please don’t remember our sins forever. Look at us, we pray, and see that we are all your people. Your holy cities are destroyed. Zion is a wilderness; yes, Jerusalem is a desolate ruin. The holy and beautiful Temple where our ancestors praised you has been burned down, and all the things of beauty are destroyed. After all this, Lord , must you still refuse to help us? Will you continue to be silent and punish us?’

Isaiah 64

Today’s reading from God’s Word continues into the New Testament starting with Luke 4:

‘Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord ’s favor has come” He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’—meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’ But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown. “Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. And many in Israel had leprosy in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.” When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.’

Luke 4:14-30

Today’s reading next brings us into 1 Timothy 3:

‘This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be a church leader, he desires an honorable position.” So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? A church leader must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall. Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap.’

1 Timothy 3:1-7

Today’s reading from God’s Word concludes in Psalms 23:

‘The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.’

Psalms 23

Do you always bring your best?


As you living your life as a living sacrifice to God? Are you working as unto the Lord? Are you bringing your best you when you go? Are you bringing your best you when you serve? Are you bring your best offering when you give? Are you bringing your best gift when you give? If not, what is holding you back?


Today’s reading gets us started in Deuteronomy:

‘“You must never set up a wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build for the Lord your God. And never set up sacred pillars for worship, for the Lord your God hates them.’

Deuteronomy 16:21-22

and then

‘“Never sacrifice sick or defective cattle, sheep, or goats to the Lord your God, for he detests such gifts. “When you begin living in the towns the Lord your God is giving you, a man or woman among you might do evil in the sight of the Lord your God and violate the covenant. For instance, they might serve other gods or worship the sun, the moon, or any of the stars—the forces of heaven—which I have strictly forbidden. When you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, then the man or woman who has committed such an evil act must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death. But never put a person to death on the testimony of only one witness. There must always be two or three witnesses. The witnesses must throw the first stones, and then all the people may join in. In this way, you will purge the evil from among you. “Suppose a case arises in a local court that is too hard for you to decide—for instance, whether someone is guilty of murder or only of manslaughter, or a difficult lawsuit, or a case involving different kinds of assault. Take such legal cases to the place the Lord your God will choose, and present them to the Levitical priests or the judge on duty at that time. They will hear the case and declare the verdict. You must carry out the verdict they announce and the sentence they prescribe at the place the Lord chooses. You must do exactly what they say. After they have interpreted the law and declared their verdict, the sentence they impose must be fully executed; do not modify it in any way. Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the Lord your God must die. In this way you will purge the evil from Israel. Then everyone else will hear about it and be afraid to act so arrogantly.

“You are about to enter the land the Lord your God is giving you. When you take it over and settle there, you may think, ‘We should select a king to rule over us like the other nations around us.’ If this happens, be sure to select as king the man the Lord your God chooses. You must appoint a fellow Israelite; he may not be a foreigner. “The king must not build up a large stable of horses for himself or send his people to Egypt to buy horses, for the Lord has told you, ‘You must never return to Egypt.’ The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the Lord . And he must not accumulate large amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself. “When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the Lord his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. And it will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel.’

Deuteronomy 17

and then

‘“Remember that the Levitical priests—that is, the whole of the tribe of Levi—will receive no allotment of land among the other tribes in Israel. Instead, the priests and Levites will eat from the special gifts given to the Lord , for that is their share. They will have no land of their own among the Israelites. The Lord himself is their special possession, just as he promised them. “These are the parts the priests may claim as their share from the cattle, sheep, and goats that the people bring as offerings: the shoulder, the cheeks, and the stomach. You must also give to the priests the first share of the grain, the new wine, the olive oil, and the wool at shearing time. For the Lord your God chose the tribe of Levi out of all your tribes to minister in the Lord ’s name forever. “Suppose a Levite chooses to move from his town in Israel, wherever he is living, to the place the Lord chooses for worship. He may minister there in the name of the Lord his God, just like all his fellow Levites who are serving the Lord there. He may eat his share of the sacrifices and offerings, even if he also receives support from his family.

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there. For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord . It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the Lord your God will drive them out ahead of you. But you must be blameless before the Lord your God. The nations you are about to displace consult sorcerers and fortune-tellers, but the Lord your God forbids you to do such things.”

Moses continued, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you yourselves requested of the Lord your God when you were assembled at Mount Sinai. You said, ‘Don’t let us hear the voice of the Lord our God anymore or see this blazing fire, for we will die.’ “Then the Lord said to me, ‘What they have said is right. I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him. I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf. But any prophet who falsely claims to speak in my name or who speaks in the name of another god must die.’ “But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the Lord ?’ If the prophet speaks in the Lord ’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the Lord did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared.’

Deuteronomy 18

Today’s reading then continues into Isaiah

‘Listen, Ethiopia —land of fluttering sails that lies at the headwaters of the Nile, that sends ambassadors in swift boats down the river. Go, swift messengers! Take a message to a tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction, and whose land is divided by rivers. All you people of the world, everyone who lives on the earth— when I raise my battle flag on the mountain, look! When I blow the ram’s horn, listen! For the Lord has told me this: “I will watch quietly from my dwelling place— as quietly as the heat rises on a summer day, or as the morning dew forms during the harvest.” Even before you begin your attack, while your plans are ripening like grapes, the Lord will cut off your new growth with pruning shears. He will snip off and discard your spreading branches. Your mighty army will be left dead in the fields for the mountain vultures and wild animals. The vultures will tear at the corpses all summer. The wild animals will gnaw at the bones all winter. At that time the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will receive gifts from this land divided by rivers, from this tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction. They will bring the gifts to Jerusalem, where the Lord of Heaven’s Armies dwells.’

Isaiah 18

Today’s reading then brings us into the New Testament where we start in Matthew

‘Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. A denarius was equivalent to a laborer’s full day’s wage. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”’

Matthew 18:21-35

and continues into Romans

‘I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. Welcome her in the Lord as one who is worthy of honor among God’s people. Help her in whatever she needs, for she has been helpful to many, and especially to me. Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus. In fact, they once risked their lives for me. I am thankful to them, and so are all the Gentile churches. Also give my greetings to the church that meets in their home. Greet my dear friend Epenetus. He was the first person from the province of Asia to become a follower of Christ. Give my greetings to Mary, who has worked so hard for your benefit. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews, who were in prison with me. They are highly respected among the apostles and became followers of Christ before I did. Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys. Greet Apelles, a good man whom Christ approves. And give my greetings to the believers from the household of Aristobulus. Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. Greet the Lord’s people from the household of Narcissus. Give my greetings to Tryphena and Tryphosa, the Lord’s workers, and to dear Persis, who has worked so hard for the Lord. Greet Rufus, whom the Lord picked out to be his very own; and also his dear mother, who has been a mother to me. Give my greetings to Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters who meet with them. Give my greetings to Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and to Olympas and all the believers who meet with them. Greet each other with a sacred kiss. All the churches of Christ send you their greetings.’

Romans 16:1-16

As we read and meditate on God’s Word as we prepare for today, let’s take hold of all that He has done and His love for us. Let’s take hold and receive that love so that we can walk in the power of the promise. Let’s receive the gift of love from God so that our lives can be touched in such a way that we are healed and transformed. Let’s receive the gift of love from God so that we can live out our lives with freedom and confidence.


Today’s reading concludes with a psalm

‘Oh, praise the Lord , all you servants of the Lord , you who serve at night in the house of the Lord . Lift your hands toward the sanctuary, and praise the Lord . May the Lord , who made heaven and earth, bless you from Jerusalem.’

Psalms 134

Lost and Found vs Given and Received…


Was it lost or given? Was it found or received? Was it offered or taken? Was it accepted or forced?

How are you living your life? Do you realize the gift that was offered and given? How will you respond? We can’t control what happens to us but we can control how we respond!

Jesus sacrificed! Jesus gave! Jesus submitted! Jesus offered! Jesus is still offering!

What will you do about this incredible gift from God? How will you respond?

Do you realize how much God loves you?

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

–from John 3:16

Do you realize that Jesus wasn’t forced to be beaten and crucified but that He gave His life so that we could be saved? He showed this at the last supper when speaking to the disciples…

The Last Supper

17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”

23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”

Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[b] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

–from Matthew 26

and also told here …

The Last Supper

12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”

19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”

20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

24 “This is my blood of the[c] covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

–from Mark 14

Jesus didn’t lose His life or lose His blood, He gave it! He gave it as a ransom for you and me so that we could have the opportunity to choose and decide to receive the gift of Jesus and salvation in our lives! His blood is worth so much – it’s precious!

Will you receive the gift and be a friend of God?

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

–from John 15:13

Today’s devotional speaks to this in the following ways:

Meet Your Blood Donor

  • It makes forgiveness of sins possible (Colossians 1:14)
  • It purifies us from every sin (1 John 1:7)
  • Through it, we draw near to God (Ephesians 2:13)
  • It brings peace and reconciliation to God (Colossians 1:20)
  • It gives life to those who consume it (John 6:53)
  • It is the means by which you overcome Satan (Revelation 12:11).

–from Day 312: Bible In One Year 2017

Today’s reading from God’s Word speaks to it through these ways…

Day 312: Bible In One Year 2017

  1. The ultimate act of friendship … Proverbs 27:5-14
  2. A clear conscience … Hebrews 9:1-15
    • When Jesus came, he ‘bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all’ (vv.11–12, MSG). By doing this ‘he brought together God and his people in this new way’ (v.17, MSG).

      What does this mean?

      You are clean inside and out

      Jesus makes it possible for your conscience to be cleansed: ‘The blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out… through the Spirit’ (v.14, MSG).

      You have been set free

      ‘Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God’ (v.15, MSG).

      The Holy Spirit and the blood of Christ go together. Joyce Meyer writes, ‘The Spirit could not be poured out on the Day of Pentecost until the blood was poured out on the cross of Calvary.’

      –from Day 312: Bible In One Year 2017

  3. Restored fortunes … Ezekiel 16:1-63

 


Don’t wander lost in the wilderness of life! Don’t meander through the desert place! Make a choice today to invite Jesus into your life and to be your Lord and Savior!

We have all be lost at one point or another and God loves us so much that He sent Jesus that we could be found! Turn back to God! Return home to Him today! Receive His grace, His mercy, and His love! He is waiting with arms open wide for you turn back to Him! Will today be your day?

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

–from Luke 15

Who is ready for change?


Change seems to be the only constant in life. Sometimes people get comfortable which gives them a false sense of security. Are you looking for change or more of the same? Will you keep doing the same thing and hope that the outcome changes? Will you decide it’s time for a change and go and do something different?

what-is-insanity-by-albert-einstein

Take a look around and see what is taking place that needs change. Consider what things are working and also what things are not. What do you want to do about it? Will you step up and step out and do something about it? Will we come together as people and turn away from the evil and negative things that have been taking place? Will we put aside our differences in order to unify in alignment with God? and God’s will? Will we do it for God and with God before things get so out of hand that something more drastic needs to happen?

We’ve been given a way! Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life – nobody gets to the Father except through Him!

We’ve been offered a gift! Jesus gave His life on the cross so that we can be reconciled to God! He conquered the grave so that we could have hope!

Will you choose to receive it? Will you choose to follow after Him?


Today’s reading from 2 Kings 23 continues from yesterday where we see how after Josiah’s enlightenment starts looking at ways to implement change…

Josiah’s Religious Reforms

1Then the king summoned all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2And the king went up to the Temple of the lord with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, along with the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. There the king read to them the entire Book of the Covenant that had been found in the lord’s Temple. 3The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul. In this way, he confirmed all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll, and all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.
4Then the king instructed Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second rank and the Temple gatekeepers to remove from the lord’s Temple all the articles that were used to worship Baal, Asherah, and all the powers of the heavens. The king had all these things burned outside Jerusalem on the terraces of the Kidron Valley, and he carried the ashes away to Bethel. 5He did away with the idolatrous priests, who had been appointed by the previous kings of Judah, for they had offered sacrifices at the pagan shrines throughout Judah and even in the vicinity of Jerusalem. They had also offered sacrifices to Baal, and to the sun, the moon, the constellations, and to all the powers of the heavens. 6The king removed the Asherah pole from the lord’s Temple and took it outside Jerusalem to the Kidron Valley, where he burned it. Then he ground the ashes of the pole to dust and threw the dust over the graves of the people. 7He also tore down the living quarters of the male and female shrine prostitutes that were inside the Temple of the lord, where the women wove coverings for the Asherah pole.
8Josiah brought to Jerusalem all the priests who were living in other towns of Judah. He also defiled the pagan shrines, where they had offered sacrifices—all the way from Geba to Beersheba. He destroyed the shrines at the entrance to the gate of Joshua, the governor of Jerusalem. This gate was located to the left of the city gate as one enters the city. 9The priests who had served at the pagan shrines were not allowed to serve at the lord’s altar in Jerusalem, but they were allowed to eat unleavened bread with the other priests.
10Then the king defiled the altar of Topheth in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, so no one could ever again use it to sacrifice a son or daughter in the fire as an offering to Molech. 11He removed from the entrance of the lord’s Temple the horse statues that the former kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were near the quarters of Nathan-melech the eunuch, an officer of the court. The king also burned the chariots dedicated to the sun.
12Josiah tore down the altars that the kings of Judah had built on the palace roof above the upper room of Ahaz. The king destroyed the altars that Manasseh had built in the two courtyards of the lord’s Temple. He smashed them to bits and scattered the pieces in the Kidron Valley. 13The king also desecrated the pagan shrines east of Jerusalem, to the south of the Mount of Corruption, where King Solomon of Israel had built shrines for Ashtoreth, the detestable goddess of the Sidonians; and for Chemosh, the detestable god of the Moabites; and for Molech,the vile god of the Ammonites. 14He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. Then he desecrated these places by scattering human bones over them.
15The king also tore down the altar at Bethel—the pagan shrine that Jeroboam son of Nebat had made when he caused Israel to sin. He burned down the shrine and ground it to dust, and he burned the Asherah pole. 16Then Josiah turned around and noticed several tombs in the side of the hill. He ordered that the bones be brought out, and he burned them on the altar at Bethel to desecrate it. (This happened just as the lord had promised through the man of God when Jeroboam stood beside the altar at the festival.)
Then Josiah turned and looked up at the tomb of the man of God who had predicted these things. 17“What is that monument over there?” Josiah asked.
And the people of the town told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted the very things that you have just done to the altar at Bethel!”
18Josiah replied, “Leave it alone. Don’t disturb his bones.” So they did not burn his bones or those of the old prophet from Samaria.
19Then Josiah demolished all the buildings at the pagan shrines in the towns of Samaria, just as he had done at Bethel. They had been built by the various kings of Israel and had made the lordvery angry. 20He executed the priests of the pagan shrines on their own altars, and he burned human bones on the altars to desecrate them. Finally, he returned to Jerusalem.

Josiah Celebrates Passover

21King Josiah then issued this order to all the people: “You must celebrate the Passover to the lord your God, as required in this Book of the Covenant.” 22There had not been a Passover celebration like that since the time when the judges ruled in Israel, nor throughout all the years of the kings of Israel and Judah. 23But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign, this Passover was celebrated to the lord in Jerusalem.
24Josiah also got rid of the mediums and psychics, the household gods, the idols, and every other kind of detestable practice, both in Jerusalem and throughout the land of Judah. He did this in obedience to the laws written in the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had found in the lord’s Temple. 25Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since.
26Even so, the lord was very angry with Judah because of all the wicked things Manasseh had done to provoke him. 27For the lord said, “I will also banish Judah from my presence just as I have banished Israel. And I will reject my chosen city of Jerusalem and the Temple where my name was to be honored.”
28The rest of the events in Josiah’s reign and all his deeds are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah.
29While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt, went to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah and his army marched out to fight him, but King Neco killed him when they met at Megiddo. 30Josiah’s officers took his body back in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. Then the people of the land anointed Josiah’s son Jehoahaz and made him the next king.

Jehoahaz Rules in Judah

31Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah from Libnah. 32He did what was evil in the lord’s sight, just as his ancestors had done.
33Pharaoh Neco put Jehoahaz in prison at Riblah in the land of Hamath to prevent him from ruling in Jerusalem. He also demanded that Judah pay 7,500 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold as tribute.

Jehoiakim Rules in Judah

34Pharaoh Neco then installed Eliakim, another of Josiah’s sons, to reign in place of his father, and he changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. Jehoahaz was taken to Egypt as a prisoner, where he died.
35In order to get the silver and gold demanded as tribute by Pharaoh Neco, Jehoiakim collected a tax from the people of Judah, requiring them to pay in proportion to their wealth.
36Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother was Zebidah, the daughter of Pedaiah from Rumah. 37He did what was evil in the lord’s sight, just as his ancestors had done.

–from 2 Kings 23

What needs to be changed? What needs to be updated? What needs to stay the same?

What do we need to start doing? What do we need to stop doing? What do we need to keep doing?

Where are you at today? Will you be part of the spark? Will you be part of the start? Will you be part of the light? Will you be part of the salt? What will be your part?

Don’t assume that you know, but rather turn to God and ask Him for wisdom in the situation so that you don’t go out to fight a battle that was never yours to begin with.

Josiah Celebrates Passover

1Then Josiah announced that the Passover of the lord would be celebrated in Jerusalem, and so the Passover lamb was slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the first month. 2Josiah also assigned the priests to their duties and encouraged them in their work at the Temple of the lord. 3He issued this order to the Levites, who were to teach all Israel and who had been set apart to serve the lord: “Put the holy Ark in the Temple that was built by Solomon son of David, the king of Israel. You no longer need to carry it back and forth on your shoulders. Now spend your time serving the lord your God and his people Israel. 4Report for duty according to the family divisions of your ancestors, following the directions of King David of Israel and the directions of his son Solomon.
5“Then stand in the sanctuary at the place appointed for your family division and help the families assigned to you as they bring their offerings to the Temple. 6Slaughter the Passover lambs, purify yourselves, and prepare to help those who come. Follow all the directions that the lord gave through Moses.”
7Then Josiah provided 30,000 lambs and young goats for the people’s Passover offerings, along with 3,000 cattle, all from the king’s own flocks and herds. 8The king’s officials also made willing contributions to the people, priests, and Levites. Hilkiah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, the administrators of God’s Temple, gave the priests 2,600 lambs and young goats and 300 cattle as Passover offerings. 9The Levite leaders—Conaniah and his brothers Shemaiah and Nethanel, as well as Hashabiah, Jeiel, and Jozabad—gave 5,000 lambs and young goats and 500 cattle to the Levites for their Passover offerings.
10When everything was ready for the Passover celebration, the priests and the Levites took their places, organized by their divisions, as the king had commanded. 11The Levites then slaughtered the Passover lambs and presented the blood to the priests, who sprinkled the blood on the altar while the Levites prepared the animals. 12They divided the burnt offerings among the people by their family groups, so they could offer them to the lord as prescribed in the Book of Moses. They did the same with the cattle. 13Then they roasted the Passover lambs as prescribed; and they boiled the holy offerings in pots, kettles, and pans, and brought them out quickly so the people could eat them.
14Afterward the Levites prepared Passover offerings for themselves and for the priests—the descendants of Aaron—because the priests had been busy from morning till night offering the burnt offerings and the fat portions. The Levites took responsibility for all these preparations.
15The musicians, descendants of Asaph, were in their assigned places, following the commands that had been given by David, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, the king’s seer. The gatekeepers guarded the gates and did not need to leave their posts of duty, for their Passover offerings were prepared for them by their fellow Levites.
16The entire ceremony for the lord’s Passover was completed that day. All the burnt offerings were sacrificed on the altar of the lord, as King Josiah had commanded. 17All the Israelites present in Jerusalem celebrated Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. 18Never since the time of the prophet Samuel had there been such a Passover. None of the kings of Israel had ever kept a Passover as Josiah did, involving all the priests and Levites, all the people of Jerusalem, and people from all over Judah and Israel. 19This Passover was celebrated in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign.

Josiah Dies in Battle

20After Josiah had finished restoring the Temple, King Neco of Egypt led his army up from Egypt to do battle at Carchemish on the Euphrates River, and Josiah and his army marched out to fight him. 21But King Neco sent messengers to Josiah with this message:
“What do you want with me, king of Judah? I have no quarrel with you today! I am on my way to fight another nation, and God has told me to hurry! Do not interfere with God, who is with me, or he will destroy you.”
22But Josiah refused to listen to Neco, to whom God had indeed spoken, and he would not turn back. Instead, he disguised himself and led his army into battle on the plain of Megiddo. 23But the enemy archers hit King Josiah with their arrows and wounded him. He cried out to his men, “Take me from the battle, for I am badly wounded!”
24So they lifted Josiah out of his chariot and placed him in another chariot. Then they brought him back to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried there in the royal cemetery. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him. 25The prophet Jeremiah composed funeral songs for Josiah, and to this day choirs still sing these sad songs about his death. These songs of sorrow have become a tradition and are recorded in The Book of Laments.
26The rest of the events of Josiah’s reign and his acts of devotion (carried out according to what was written in the Law of the lord), 27from beginning to end—all are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.

–from 2 Chronicles 35

We need to realize it isn’t Jesus plus, it’s just Jesus that is the answer! Don’t allow others to add weights or burdens that were never yours to carry! Ask God what it is that He would have you do today! Ask God how He would like you to do it! And then allow Him to receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Consider what change may be required to help you get to the next level God desires for you? Could it be going a different way? Could it be a new partnership? I am sure whatever it is, the important part is to stay aligned with God’s will and walking in His way! I am sure whatever it is, the important part is to walk out God’s work for your life to bring truth, hope, and love to those in need. Could it be that what is best is to divide and conquer in order to reach more people and spread/share the good news?

Consider what it will take for things to go well. Receiving Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Consider the things we need to avoid as we read from today’s reading…

The Council at Jerusalem

1While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question. 3The church sent the delegates to Jerusalem, and they stopped along the way in Phoenicia and Samaria to visit the believers. They told them—much to everyone’s joy—that the Gentiles, too, were being converted.
4When they arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the whole church, including the apostles and elders. They reported everything God had done through them. 5But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.”
6So the apostles and elders met together to resolve this issue. 7At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: “Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe. 8God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. 9He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. 10So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? 11We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”
12Everyone listened quietly as Barnabas and Paul told about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.
13When they had finished, James stood and said, “Brothers, listen to me. 14Peter has told you about the time God first visited the Gentiles to take from them a people for himself. 15And this conversion of Gentiles is exactly what the prophets predicted. As it is written:
16‘Afterward I will return
and restore the fallen house of David.
I will rebuild its ruins
and restore it,
17so that the rest of humanity might seek the lord,
including the Gentiles—
all those I have called to be mine.
The lord has spoken—
18he who made these things known so long ago.’
19“And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. 21For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.”

The Letter for Gentile Believers

22Then the apostles and elders together with the whole church in Jerusalem chose delegates, and they sent them to Antioch of Syria with Paul and Barnabas to report on this decision. The men chosen were two of the church leaders—Judas (also called Barsabbas) and Silas. 23This is the letter they took with them:
“This letter is from the apostles and elders, your brothers in Jerusalem. It is written to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. Greetings!
24“We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with their teaching, but we did not send them! 25So we decided, having come to complete agreement, to send you official representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27We are sending Judas and Silas to confirm what we have decided concerning your question.
28“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: 29You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.”
30The messengers went at once to Antioch, where they called a general meeting of the believers and delivered the letter. 31And there was great joy throughout the church that day as they read this encouraging message.
32Then Judas and Silas, both being prophets, spoke at length to the believers, encouraging and strengthening their faith. 33They stayed for a while, and then the believers sent them back to the church in Jerusalem with a blessing of peace. 35Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch. They and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord there.

Paul and Barnabas Separate

36After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.” 37Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. 38But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. 39Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. 40Paul chose Silas, and as he left, the believers entrusted him to the Lord’s gracious care. 41Then he traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches there.

–from Acts 15

 

How much? More than enough…


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

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

More Than Enough!

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

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

Ark, Table, Menorah, Incense Altar

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

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

Welcome the Apostolic Team

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

Closing Blessing

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

It’s never too late to make a change!


Some may think they have gone too far, they have fallen too far, they have walked to far away to be able to recover or rebound. The Bible says that He will never leave you nor forsake you. The story of the lost son speaks to how much the father is looking for the son to come to his senses and come back. God is Love! God is Good, not just some times, but all the time! Some people are looking for the opportunity to reconcile. Some people are living the “good life” until it runs out and then wonder what happened and what can they do now. The reality is that when we turn back and begin to follow after Jesus, that is the beginning of the good life, the real good life. Is it easy? No, for God’s Word tells us that in this world we will have trouble, however, there is now hope for God’s Word doesn’t end there but continues with take heart for I have overcome the world. Jesus will provide us with wisdom and direction. Jesus allows us to have hope and not grow discouraged. It may not be easy, but it will definitely be worth it because we know the destination. God’s Word tells us (when you read the end of the book, the book of Revelation) that Jesus wins! The devil is defeated and then everything is different! No more pain! No more suffering! No more sickness! And when we turn back and give our lives over to Jesus, there is a peace that goes beyond all understanding. Jesus helps us to carry that weight on our shoulders. Jesus provides a reason for the hope that is within us. God provides “one another” so that we can come together and help each other through the tough times and to celebrate together in the victories. So no matter how far you have gone, how far you have fallen, don’t wait till you hit rock bottom before you turn back to God and cry out to Him and ask Him for help, ask Him for forgiveness, ask Him back into your life so that you can start the journey to recovery, restoration, and renewal.

Today’s reading starts with a man named Levi who Jesus calls…

27After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting in his office. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” 28Levi got up, left everything, and followed him. 29Then Levi had a big feast in his house for Jesus, and among the guests was a large number of tax collectors and other people. 30Some Pharisees and some teachers of the Law who belonged to their group complained to Jesus’ disciples. “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and other outcasts?” they asked. 31Jesus answered them, “People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick. 32I have not come to call respectable people to repent, but outcasts.” –Luke 5:27-32

God is our healer! God is our savior! God is our everlasting hope in times of need! With Jesus, bodies can be healed, relationships can be healed, lives can be healed! There is hope! Don’t give up! Get up and turn back to God! Ask Jesus into your heart! He will forgive you if you will ask Him. He is the God of the 2nd chances. Know how many times we are supposed to forgive and it speaks to the number of times we can be forgiven? Not 7 times, but 7×70 times. So remember it’s not too late! Why not choose today?

For those who have turned back, shine your light! There is a dark world out there which doesn’t offer much hope to the world around it. But you can shine your light of hope and provide that glimmer of hope that others need. Wondering how to do that? Today’s reading speaks to this … stop complaining and arguing! offer a message of life and of hope! be glad and share your joy!

Shining as Lights in the World

12So then, dear friends, as you always obeyed me when I was with you, it is even more important that you obey me now while I am away from you. Keep on working with fear and trembling to complete your salvation, 13because God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey his own purpose. 14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may be innocent and pure as God’s perfect children, who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people. You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, 16as you offer them the message of life. If you do so, I shall have reason to be proud of you on the Day of Christ, because it will show that all my effort and work have not been wasted. 17Perhaps my life’s blood is to be poured out like an offering on the sacrifice that your faith offers to God. If that is so, I am glad and share my joy with you all. 18In the same way, you too must be glad and share your joy with me.
–Philippians 2:12-17

So whether you need hope or you have hope there is something that you can and should be doing. Stick with God! Turn back to God! There is hope! Share that hope! Receive that hope! Grab onto the truth and hold onto that hope!

137You are righteous, Lord, and your laws are just.
138The rules that you have given are completely fair and right.
139My anger burns in me like a fire, because my enemies disregard your commands.
140How certain your promise is! How I love it!
141I am unimportant and despised, but I do not neglect your teachings.
142Your righteousness will last forever, and your law is always true.
143I am filled with trouble and anxiety, but your commandments bring me joy.
144Your instructions are always just; give me understanding, and I shall live.

–Psalm 119:137-144

If it’s worth something to you should you give something to get it?


What does it mean to you? What is it worth? How important is it to you to know that it is yours? So put a price on it so that you can get it. Be it an offering to God! Be it a place to build something! If it’s worth something do something to about it!

We see examples of this type of a situation with Abraham when he is looking for a place to bury Sarah:

3He left the place where his wife’s body was lying, went to the Hittites, and said, 4“I am a foreigner living here among you; sell me some land, so that I can bury my wife.” 5They answered, 6“Listen to us, sir. We look upon you as a mighty leader; bury your wife in the best grave that we have. Any of us would be glad to give you a grave, so that you can bury her.” 7Then Abraham bowed before them 8and said, “If you are willing to let me bury my wife here, please ask Ephron son of Zohar 9to sell me Machpelah Cave, which is near the edge of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for its full price, here in your presence, so that I can own it as a burial ground.” 10Ephron himself was sitting with the other Hittites at the meeting place at the city gate; he answered in the hearing of everyone there, 11“Listen, sir; I will give you the whole field and the cave that is in it. Here in the presence of my own people, I will give it to you, so that you can bury your wife.” 12But Abraham bowed before the Hittites 13and said to Ephron, so that everyone could hear, “May I ask you, please, to listen. I will buy the whole field. Accept my payment, and I will bury my wife there.” 14Ephron answered, 15“Sir, land worth only four hundred pieces of silver—what is that between us? Bury your wife in it.” 16Abraham agreed and weighed out the amount that Ephron had mentioned in the hearing of the people—four hundred pieces of silver, according to the standard weights used by the merchants. 17That is how the property which had belonged to Ephron at Machpelah east of Mamre, became Abraham’s. It included the field, the cave which was in it, and all the trees in the field up to the edge of the property. 18It was recognized as Abraham’s property by all the Hittites who were there at the meeting. 19Then Abraham buried his wife Sarah in that cave in the land of Canaan. 20So the field which had belonged to the Hittites, and the cave in it, became the property of Abraham for a burial ground.

— from Genesis 23 —

We see it with David…

17David saw the angel who was killing the people, and said to the Lord, “I am the guilty one. I am the one who did wrong. What have these poor people done? You should punish me and my family.” 18That same day Gad went to David and said to him, “Go up to Araunah’s threshing place and build an altar to the Lord.” 19David obeyed the Lord’s command and went as Gad had told him to. 20Araunah looked down and saw the king and his officials coming up to him. He threw himself on the ground in front of David 21and asked, “Your Majesty, why are you here?”David answered, “To buy your threshing place and build an altar for the Lord, in order to stop the epidemic.” 22“Take it, Your Majesty,” Araunah said, “and offer to the Lord whatever you wish. Here are these oxen to burn as an offering on the altar; here are their yokes and the threshing boards to use as fuel.” 23Araunah gave it all to the king and said to him, “May the Lord your God accept your offering.” 24But the king answered, “No, I will pay you for it. I will not offer to the Lord my God sacrifices that have cost me nothing.” And he bought the threshing place and the oxen for fifty pieces of silver. 25Then he built an altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. The Lord answered his prayer, and the epidemic in Israel was stopped.

— from 2 Samuel 24 —

So what are you wanting today? Is it something to glorify God? Are you willing to pay for it? Are you wanting to do it the right way? What’s keeping you from getting it done? What’s holding you back from completing what you need and want to do? Make sure that it is worth it though! Don’t be just throwing your money around frivolously! Don’t waste it! Consider what Isaiah prophesied…

1 “Hey, all who are thirsty, come to the water!You who have no money, come! Buy and eat!Come! Buy wine and milkwithout money and without cost! 2 Why pay money for something that will not nourish you? Why spend your hard-earned money on something that will not satisfy?Listen carefully to me and eat what is nourishing! Enjoy fine food! 3 Pay attention and come to me!Listen, so you can live! Then I will make an unconditional covenantal promise to you,just like the reliable covenantal promises I made to David.
 — from Isaiah 55 —

We will be put into situations every day where things are wanting from us. What we do about it is important. Remember how we started this? If its worth something to you then pay for it! And as we end, we have one more piece of information to hold onto: Don’t waste your money if it’s not worth it! Check your heart and make sure that it is really worth it! How much do you want to be a part of it! What will the impact be not only on you, but those that this may help? Are you giving to get? Are you giving to honor? Are you giving because it matters? Are you giving because you want to sacrifice? Check your heart!

Have you been touched? Have you been able to keep quiet? Have you been able to keep it to yourself?


Has your life had a divine encounter? Has your life been transformed? Have you had your eyes opened to the truth? Are you able to see things more clearly because of the transformation? Are you keeping it all to yourself? Are you not sharing the good news with others? How have you been able to keep it to yourself? What is keeping you from sharing?

God had a plan for me and when I moved thousands of miles away from my comfort zone, He provided a divine encounter. He provided a special invitation to a Christmas pageant/production at a near by church. He provided a powerful encounter of worship and preaching that drew us even closer. He provided incredible teaching from God’s Word that opened my eyes to the truth. He provided divine appointments where not only was I able to learn about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but also to experience it. He provided divine appointments where I didn’t only learn about freedom through Cleansing Stream, but also had been freed from years of violent responses when I was hit in the head through the power of forgiveness. Not only did I get to hang out with a bunch of men at a men’s retreat, but God spoke to me about how He wanted me to get more involved in my community where I was called into a higher level of leadership within my homeowners association. It also got me plugged into serving at the church where I was involved in productions – acting, signing on the stage as well as off stage with media, and production. It has impacted me at work and my interactions with others to the point where I even started to blog about it. My plan was a private site but God called me to open it up and to share my time with Him with others that His Word would be heard and be a testimony to many others. So to say the least, I haven’t been able to keep quiet. Today’s Word triggered this thought and topic to me because the two men who had a divine encounter with Jesus couldn’t keep it to themselves either.

Jesus Heals Two Blind Men

27Jesus left that place, and as he walked along, two blind men started following him. “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” they shouted.
28When Jesus had gone indoors, the two blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I can heal you?”
“Yes, sir!” they answered.
29Then Jesus touched their eyes and said, “Let it happen, then, just as you believe!”— 30and their sight was restored. Jesus spoke sternly to them, “Don’t tell this to anyone!”
31But they left and spread the news about Jesus all over that part of the country.
— from Matthew 9 (GNT)

When we are freed and start to speak of what God has done in and through our lives, there will be people who try to play it down or call it something else. Jesus even faced that type of doubt and fear…

Jesus Heals a Man Who Could Not Speak

32As the men were leaving, some people brought to Jesus a man who could not talk because he had a demon. 33But as soon as the demon was driven out, the man started talking, and everyone was amazed. “We have never seen anything like this in Israel!” they exclaimed.
34 But the Pharisees said, “It is the chief of the demons who gives Jesus the power to drive out demons.”
— from Matthew 9 (GNT)

There are many people who don’t know. There are many people who have never heard. There are people held back by fear. There are people held back by doubt. But what can you do? What can you say to speak hope and life to those God brings into your life? You may be the only experience they have ever had and so you need to speak up and speak out. You need to provide a hand up rather than just a handout. Today, let’s make a difference!

Jesus Has Pity for the People

35 Jesus went around visiting all the towns and villages. He taught in the synagogues, preached the Good News about the Kingdom, and healed people with every kind of disease and sickness. 36 As he saw the crowds, his heart was filled with pity for them, because they were worried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 So he said to his disciples, “The harvest is large, but there are few workers to gather it in. 38Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest.”
— from Matthew 9 (GNT)

Not everyone is going to want to hear! Not everyone is going to want to respond! But don’t fear, just believe and put your trust in God! God has greater plans for you! God’s plan for you and those around you isn’t that anyone should perish, but that through Jesus Christ we will all have eternal life with Him! So don’t stop sharing because some people don’t what to hear. Don’t stop sharing because some people threaten you. Press in to what God calls you to and get it done! It’s incredible what God can do in and through us if we open up and allow Him to flow through us into the lives of those He brings into our lives. But don’t allow pride to trip you up. Don’t allow others to lift you up but point them all to Jesus. There is a risk when people are able to see and experience God working through you that they may get misdirected and think it is about you, but we need to make sure we point them to the true source and the true savior of the world … Jesus!

In Iconium

1The same thing happened in Iconium: Paul and Barnabas went to the synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of Jews and Gentiles became believers. 2But the Jews who would not believe stirred up the Gentiles and turned them against the believers. 3The apostles stayed there for a long time, speaking boldly about the Lord, who proved that their message about his grace was true by giving them the power to perform miracles and wonders. 4The people of the city were divided: some were for the Jews, others for the apostles.
5Then some Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, decided to mistreat the apostles and stone them. 6When the apostles learned about it, they fled to the cities of Lystra and Derbe in Lycaonia and to the surrounding territory. 7There they preached the Good News.

In Lystra and Derbe

8In Lystra there was a crippled man who had been lame from birth and had never been able to walk. 9He sat there and listened to Paul’s words. Paul saw that he believed and could be healed, so he looked straight at him 10and said in a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” The man jumped up and started walking around. 11When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they started shouting in their own Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us!” 12They gave Barnabas the name Zeus, and Paul the name Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13The priest of the god Zeus, whose temple stood just outside the town, brought bulls and flowers to the gate, for he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice to the apostles.
14When Barnabas and Paul heard what they were about to do, they tore their clothes and ran into the middle of the crowd, shouting, 15 “Why are you doing this? We ourselves are only human beings like you! We are here to announce the Good News, to turn you away from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven, earth, sea, and all that is in them. 16In the past he allowed all people to go their own way. 17But he has always given evidence of his existence by the good things he does: he gives you rain from heaven and crops at the right times; he gives you food and fills your hearts with happiness.” 18Even with these words the apostles could hardly keep the crowd from offering a sacrifice to them.
19Some Jews came from Antioch in Pisidia and from Iconium; they won the crowds over to their side, stoned Paul and dragged him out of the town, thinking that he was dead. 20But when the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he and Barnabas went to Derbe.

The Return to Antioch in Syria

21Paul and Barnabas preached the Good News in Derbe and won many disciples. Then they went back to Lystra, to Iconium, and on to Antioch in Pisidia. 22They strengthened the believers and encouraged them to remain true to the faith. “We must pass through many troubles to enter the Kingdom of God,” they taught. 23In each church they appointed elders, and with prayers and fasting they commended them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
24After going through the territory of Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. 25There they preached the message in Perga and then went to Attalia, 26and from there they sailed back to Antioch, the place where they had been commended to the care of God’s grace for the work they had now completed.
27When they arrived in Antioch, they gathered the people of the church together and told them about all that God had done with them and how he had opened the way for the Gentiles to believe. 28And they stayed a long time there with the believers.
— from Acts 14 (GNT)

Let’s sing songs of praise to God! Let’s celebrate the incredible things He is and has and will do in and through our lives! Let’s make each day so filled with joy because He is with us that it will be hard for others to hold back or to get down, let’s give us a reason for the joy that is within us! Let’s not allow our circumstances to direct our attitudes and actions. Let’s allow Jesus working in us to drive our attitude and responses to everything that comes our way!

12Many enemies surround me like bulls;

they are all around me,
like fierce bulls from the land of Bashan.
13They open their mouths like lions,
roaring and tearing at me.
14My strength is gone,
gone like water spilled on the ground.
All my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like melted wax.
15My throat is as dry as dust,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You have left me for dead in the dust.
16An evil gang is around me;
like a pack of dogs they close in on me;
they tear at my hands and feet.
17All my bones can be seen.
My enemies look at me and stare.
18  They gamble for my clothes
and divide them among themselves.
19O Lord, don’t stay away from me!
Come quickly to my rescue!
20Save me from the sword;
save my life from these dogs.
21Rescue me from these lions;
I am helpless before these wild bulls.
22  I will tell my people what you have done;
I will praise you in their assembly:
23“Praise him, you servants of the Lord!
Honor him, you descendants of Jacob!
Worship him, you people of Israel!
24He does not neglect the poor or ignore their suffering;
he does not turn away from them,
but answers when they call for help.”
25In the full assembly I will praise you for what you have done;
in the presence of those who worship you
I will offer the sacrifices I promised.
26The poor will eat as much as they want;
those who come to the Lord will praise him.
May they prosper forever!
27All nations will remember the Lord.
From every part of the world they will turn to him;
all races will worship him.
28The Lord is king,
and he rules the nations.
29All proud people will bow down to him;#

22.29: Probable text will bow down to him; Hebrew will eat and bow down.
all mortals will bow down before him.
30Future generations will serve him;
they will speak of the Lord to the coming generation.
31People not yet born will be told:
“The Lord saved his people.”
— from Psalm 22 (GNT)

So today as we get started, let’s put on the full armor of God and be prepared for what will be ahead of us. Let’s share the Good News of how God has worked in and through our lives and how He wants to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Yes, you reading this text, that is you. He wants to make a difference in your life because He loves you so much. Yes, you reading this, He wants to hear you sharing the Good News with others as you have been transformed and saved. Yes, you reading this text, if you want to hear more or talk more, please leave me a comment for me to respond to … feel free to read through other postings if that is more comfortable for you. Do a search about something that is on your mind.

 

There will always be people who question when you do something good for someone else.


Ever noticed that people are suspicious of people who are doing good things. Suspecting that they are going to want something in return. Suspecting that it is a trick of some sort. Things have gotten so off track that doing nice or good things for others isn’t the norm but raises concerns in others. Does that mean we should stop? NO! It means we need to be doing it and helping others to do it too to help stop this trend. If more people weren’t scam artists or trickster, than more people would be appreciative and accepting of people doing nice things to and for them. Where are you at on this situation today? Are you suspicious? Are you doing nice things? Are you trying to manipulate others? Are you only doing in order to get something back in return? Are you being kind and generous because that is what we should do without any expectations of anything in return? Let’s reflect on this and predetermine what and how we are going to act and respond. Let’s respond with grace and gratitude when someone does something nice. Let’s do out of love for God and for others nice things that will give them a hand up, give them a word of encouragement, give them support and courage to press on. This is the day to start a new trend and get things going in the right direction.


Today’s reading is interesting because we see how others question Jesus. They question His actions. They question His authority. They question His character. They judge him even before they can see the miracle. He touched the mans heart and life and then his body to prove His intentions and His authority are all grounded in LOVE!

1Jesus got into the boat and went back across the lake to his own town, 2where some people brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a bed. When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the paralyzed man, “Courage, my son! Your sins are forgiven.”

3Then some teachers of the Law said to themselves, “This man is speaking blasphemy!”
4Jesus perceived what they were thinking, and so he said, “Why are you thinking such evil things? 5Is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6I will prove to you, then, that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, pick up your bed, and go home!”
7The man got up and went home. 8When the people saw it, they were afraid, and praised God for giving such authority to people.
— from Matthew 9

Let’s be sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in every situation we are in today. Let’s share the marvels of God with those around us based on His leading and direction. Let’s speak what God wants us to say. Let’s do what God calls us to do. And let’s make sure that in and through it all, He receives the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name.

God isn’t looking for perfect vessels, but yielded vessels who are willing to walk with Him and follow after His ways. We see in many cases Jesus stepping into situations which the religious people of the time would have looked down on. He wants to be with people who need and desire Him. He wants us all to walk in that way. Can we walk in a way that points and brings people to Jesus? Will you decide and choose to be an ambassador for Jesus today and help to transform the world around you? One person at a time? Consider the encounter with Matthew…

9Jesus left that place, and as he walked along, he saw a tax collector, named Matthew, sitting in his office. He said to him, “Follow me.”

Matthew got up and followed him.

10  While Jesus was having a meal in Matthew’s house,#
9.10: in Matthew’s house; or in his (that is Jesus’) house.

many tax collectors and other outcasts came and joined Jesus and his disciples at the table. 11Some Pharisees saw this and asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such people?”

12Jesus heard them and answered, “People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick. 13 Go and find out what is meant by the scripture that says: ‘It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.’ I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.”
— from Matthew 9

Are you going to be someone who is giving a hand up rather than a hand out? Are you going to be someone is will help or someone who will enable? Jesus is clear and gives us an example to follow, so let’s take a grab of that today and follow after His ways so that we increase the average, change the temperature of the society, and help not only transform the world, but also point the world heavenly through Jesus Christ our Lord!

God’s put a calling on each of our lives. If God spoke to you to go, would you go? If God spoke to you to let others who you are closely tied to go, would you let them go? Would you go with a blessing or would you go in doubt? Would you let them go with a blessing or would you let them go with regret? Will you pray for them and encourage them to complete the work that God is calling them into? Will you be obedient to the prompting of the Spirit? We see what happens when the Spirit prompts them to send Barnabas and Saul…

1In the church at Antioch there were some prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon (called the Black), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (who had been brought up with Governor Herod), and Saul. 2While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul, to do the work to which I have called them.”

3They fasted and prayed, placed their hands on them, and sent them off.
— from Acts 13

We also see what happens when we are obedient to the prompting and the impact it can make not only on a generation but for multiple generations as the story has been captured and published to millions through the Bible.

In Cyprus

4Having been sent by the Holy Spirit, Barnabas and Saul went to Seleucia and sailed from there to the island of Cyprus. 5When they arrived at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues. They had John Mark with them to help in the work.
6They went all the way across the island to Paphos, where they met a certain magician named Bar-Jesus, a Jew who claimed to be a prophet. 7He was a friend of the governor of the island, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor called Barnabas and Saul before him because he wanted to hear the word of God. 8But they were opposed by the magician Elymas (that is his name in Greek), who tried to turn the governor away from the faith. 9Then Saul—also known as Paul—was filled with the Holy Spirit; he looked straight at the magician 10and said, “You son of the Devil! You are the enemy of everything that is good. You are full of all kinds of evil tricks, and you always keep trying to turn the Lord’s truths into lies! 11The Lord’s hand will come down on you now; you will be blind and will not see the light of day for a time.”
At once Elymas felt a dark mist cover his eyes, and he walked around trying to find someone to lead him by the hand. 12When the governor saw what had happened, he believed; for he was greatly amazed at the teaching about the Lord.

In Antioch in Pisidia

13Paul and his companions sailed from Paphos and came to Perga, a city in Pamphylia, where John Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem. 14They went on from Perga and arrived in Antioch in Pisidia, and on the Sabbath they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15After the reading from the Law of Moses and from the writings of the prophets, the officials of the synagogue sent them a message: “Friends, we want you to speak to the people if you have a message of encouragement for them.” 16Paul stood up, motioned with his hand, and began to speak:
“Fellow Israelites and all Gentiles here who worship God: hear me! 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors and made the people a great nation during the time they lived as foreigners in Egypt. God brought them out of Egypt by his great power, 18and for forty years he endured them in the desert. 19 He destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan and made his people the owners of the land. 20 All of this took about 450 years.
“After this he gave them judges until the time of the prophet Samuel. 21 And when they asked for a king, God gave them Saul son of Kish from the tribe of Benjamin, to be their king for forty years. 22After removing him, God made David their king. This is what God said about him: ‘I have found that David son of Jesse is the kind of man I like, a man who will do all I want him to do.’ 23It was Jesus, a descendant of David, whom God made the Savior of the people of Israel, as he had promised. 24 Before Jesus began his work, John preached to all the people of Israel that they should turn from their sins and be baptized. 25And as John was about to finish his mission, he said to the people, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not the one you are waiting for. But listen! He is coming after me, and I am not good enough to take his sandals off his feet.’
— from Acts 13

But it doesn’t end there, there is more to this story (probably for me in tomorrow’s reading, but you can read on…). God’s got incredible plans for how you can do good in this world. He will not only bless you, but allow you to be a blessing in the lives of others that He will bring in and through your life. Seek wisdom through the Holy Spirit so that you can understand and know the intentions and the plans. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide and protect you and your actions. Let’s make today a great day of doing good for others…for no other reason than to glorify God! And let’s see what God will do in and through our lives!


And then let’s celebrate the victories! Let’s celebrate with others who have breakthroughs! Let’s celebrate for the victories God has provided us! Let’s not forget the good work that He is and has done in and through our lives!

1The king is glad, O Lord, because you gave him strength;

he rejoices because you made him victorious.
2You have given him his heart’s desire;
you have answered his request.
3You came to him with great blessings
and set a crown of gold on his head.
4He asked for life, and you gave it,
a long and lasting life.
5His glory is great because of your help;
you have given him fame and majesty.
6Your blessings are with him forever,
and your presence fills him with joy.
7The king trusts in the Lord Almighty;
and because of the Lord‘s constant love
he will always be secure.
8The king will capture all his enemies;
he will capture everyone who hates him.
9He will destroy them like a blazing fire
when he appears.
The Lord will devour them in his anger,
and fire will consume them.
10None of their descendants will survive;
the king will kill them all.
11They make their plans, and plot against him,
but they will not succeed.
12He will shoot his arrows at them
and make them turn and run.
13We praise you, Lord, for your great strength!
We will sing and praise your power.
— from Psalm 21

When we consider that Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, we know that the final chapter speaks to the conclusion and the victory of Jesus. The devil goes around trying to trick people through lies, making plans and plots against Jesus, however, Jesus has already won the victory over death through His resurrection. So let’s be like the psalmist and praise the Lord, sing to Him, let’s worship Him for all He has already done and what He is yet to do in and through our lives and for the rest of eternity!


 

What do you have to offer?


Everyday we have a gift in our possession called life! Everyday we have the opportunity at hand do something with this gift! What will you do with it? What will you offer up because of it? What will you offer up through it? Will you offer anything?

In today’s reading it speaks of sacrifices being a part of an offering. Are you willing to offer enough that it would be a sacrifice? Are you willing to give out of your little or only out of your excess? What do you have to sacrifice for someone else?

We read in another part of God’s Word that we are to be living sacrifices!

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
— Romans 12:1-2

Will you make a promise? Will make it a vow? It binds you to that agreement! How strong is your word? Are you walking with character and integrity? If your word isn’t any good… what do you have? What goes through your mind? How to meet your vow? How to get out of your vow? That perspective makes a big difference in terms of how you will respond.

Be humble and don’t brag!

It’s is only by grace through faith that we can make it. It is only because send Jesus who was the ultimate sacrifice that we are able to be reconciled back to Him. Our offerings and sacrifices are temporary, His was once for all, it was eternity bound.

So for our time here, let’s be living sacrifices that allow others to see Jesus through us. Let’s give not just out of our excess, let’s give out of love and obedience to God! Let’s walk in alignment with the Holy Spirit and do what He wants and calls us to do! Let’s ask and listen and then obey!

 

 

 

When will you look beyond the material stuff, the feel good stuff, and the self promoting stuff?


How much stuff do you need? Money isn’t evil, the love of money is the root of all evil.

Is it more important to feel good than to do good?

Is it more important to self promote than to be a servant leader?


 

What will it take to grow up and look beyond this?

It’s not about planting or watering, it is about the reason behind it. It’s the fact that we are doing what we do out of obedience to God so that in all we do, He will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory. One may plant the seed, another may water, but it is God that makes it grow! Let’s remember the solid foundation we have to be able to build upon, it is Jesus! Let’s make sure we are building our lives on top of this foundation with material that is good, that is just, that is right, that is of value, that will bring God all the praise, the honor, and the glory. Let’s make sure that when it is tested that it will stand the test! We are the temple of God, so take care of it! Let’s live by God’s rules for His ways are right and pure and just! Being God’s fool is better than being smart according to the world! Don’t brag or inflate yourself or others, everything you have is a gift from God!

Will you live your life as a servant to others? Will you lead through a servant lifestyle? Will you stop trying to make it all about you? Consider how you can help! Consider how you can serve! Be a guide rather than trying to be a guard! Be reliable! Be accurate in your knowledge! Don’t make it or allow it to become a popularity contest! Don’t be judgmental towards others! Be aware and smart about what you do and how you do it! God knows our heart and our mind, He sees our intentions, He knows our purposes, He hears our prayers, so don’t think you will get away with anything for one day it will all come out into the open. Are you willing to live a life where when you are done you will get to hear from God “Well done my good and faithful servant”? Perspective is key! It’s important to look at things through God’s perspective or point of view. Don’t let gossip or hearsay direct your actions or reactions! Don’t allow hearsay to inflate or deflate reputations! Do any of us really know it all? What’s in a person’s mind? What’s in a person’s heart? Is there anyone who really knows you or that you really know them? Is there anything that could be found out that we could actually take credit for? Isn’t everything just a gift from God? So why are you comparing yourself to others? Why are you competing against others? With God giving you everything you need and allowing you full access to Himself (more than you can handle) why not just focus on you and Him? Let’s come alongside one another as brothers and sisters in love! Let’s live our lives for God, so that He will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory. Not focusing on trying to make everyone feel good or making sure we have every new gadget that comes out or pumping ourselves up. We need to make sure we live a good life, not as spoiled children. There will be many who are looking to pop your balloon and drag you down, but live a life filled with the Father’s Love that helps us and other to grow up! Make the time! It’s important! Make the effort! It’s worth it! Don’t live life as a balloon full of hot air, but rather live a life of purpose that’s empowered by the Spirit of God!

What way would you want someone to come into your life to speak to you?

As a severe disciplinarian who makes you toe the mark? Or as a good friend and counselor who wants to share heart-to-heart with you? You decide. — from 1 Corinthians 4:21


Consider the road you are taking! Consider those around you that need you to step in, step up, and give them a hand up! Consider the love they need from you! Consider the hope that you can share! How will you show up today for those around you who are looking to you?

Do you realize what you have to offer?


Sometimes people only think with one train of thought and end up missing out on the things they could do. There are daily opportunities for you to be a blessing if you are ready and willing to share what you have to offer. Do you realize the gifts that you have been given? Do you realize the promises that you have been given? Will you give what you have to offer in order to help others? You may not have what they are asking for, but you probably have what they need!


Consider the day when Peter and John were heading to the temple…

1-5One day at three o’clock in the afternoon, Peter and John were on their way into the Temple for prayer meeting. At the same time there was a man crippled from birth being carried up. Every day he was set down at the Temple gate, the one named Beautiful, to beg from those going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter the Temple, he asked for a handout. Peter, with John at his side, looked him straight in the eye and said, “Look here.” He looked up, expecting to get something from them.
6-8Peter said, “I don’t have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” He grabbed him by the right hand and pulled him up. In an instant his feet and ankles became firm. He jumped to his feet and walked.
8-10The man went into the Temple with them, walking back and forth, dancing and praising God. Everybody there saw him walking around and praising God. They recognized him as the one who sat begging at the Temple’s Gate Beautiful and rubbed their eyes, astonished, scarcely believing what they were seeing.
11The man threw his arms around Peter and John, ecstatic. All the people ran up to where they were at Solomon’s Porch to see it for themselves.
— Acts 3

Sometimes people as asking for a handout, but the reality is that they need a hand up. With a handout they will get it, use, and need it again. With a hand up, they get a new fresh start, they have a new beginning where the rules are different and they are able to start a new life. Do you realize what you have to offer?

Do you realize God if giving you a platform? He is setting you up for a comeback? He is able to use every opportunity to allow you to point people back to Him. Consider how you can glorify God and point people back to Him. The story continues…

12-16When Peter saw he had a congregation, he addressed the people:
“Oh, Israelites, why does this take you by such complete surprise, and why stare at us as if our power or piety made him walk? The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his Son Jesus. The very One that Pilate called innocent, you repudiated. You repudiated the Holy One, the Just One, and asked for a murderer in his place. You no sooner killed the Author of Life than God raised him from the dead—and we’re the witnesses. Faith in Jesus’ name put this man, whose condition you know so well, on his feet—yes, faith and nothing but faith put this man healed and whole right before your eyes.
17-18“And now, friends, I know you had no idea what you were doing when you killed Jesus, and neither did your leaders. But God, who through the preaching of all the prophets had said all along that his Messiah would be killed, knew exactly what you were doing and used it to fulfill his plans.
19-23“Now it’s time to change your ways! Turn to face God so he can wipe away your sins, pour out showers of blessing to refresh you, and send you the Messiah he prepared for you, namely, Jesus. For the time being he must remain out of sight in heaven until everything is restored to order again just the way God, through the preaching of his holy prophets of old, said it would be. Moses, for instance, said, ‘Your God will raise up for you a prophet just like me from your family. Listen to every word he speaks to you. Every last living soul who refuses to listen to that prophet will be wiped out from the people.’
24-26“All the prophets from Samuel on down said the same thing, said most emphatically that these days would come. These prophets, along with the covenant God made with your ancestors, are your family tree. God’s covenant-word to Abraham provides the text: ‘By your offspring all the families of the earth will be blessed.’ But you are first in line: God, having raised up his Son, sent him to bless you as you turn, one by one, from your evil ways.”
— Acts 3

People are walking around feeling unloved, feeling condemned, feeling accused, feeling let down, feeling hurt, feeling depressed, feeling forgotten, and needing hope. Will you share the hope that is within you? Will you share the truth that is within you? Will you share the truth that is a reason hope. Will you share the love of God with those you encounter?


 

Some people may even try to stop you or confront you for doing good and for speaking life, hope, and truth. People may try to quiet you because they don’t like what they are seeing because it is removing their power over the people. But doing what is right isn’t wrong. Speaking the hope that is within you and sharing what God has done in and through you so that others can get a hand up is important. Consider when Peter and John were confronted and how it actually opened up another door that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible for them to share such a message…

1-4While Peter and John were addressing the people, the priests, the chief of the Temple police, and some Sadducees came up, indignant that these upstart apostles were instructing the people and proclaiming that the resurrection from the dead had taken place in Jesus. They arrested them and threw them in jail until morning, for by now it was late in the evening. But many of those who listened had already believed the Message—in round numbers about five thousand!
5-7The next day a meeting was called in Jerusalem. The rulers, religious leaders, religion scholars, Annas the Chief Priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander—everybody who was anybody was there. They stood Peter and John in the middle of the room and grilled them: “Who put you in charge here? What business do you have doing this?”
8-12With that, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, let loose: “Rulers and leaders of the people, if we have been brought to trial today for helping a sick man, put under investigation regarding this healing, I’ll be completely frank with you—we have nothing to hide. By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole. Jesus is ‘the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.’ Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one.”
13-14They couldn’t take their eyes off them—Peter and John standing there so confident, so sure of themselves! Their fascination deepened when they realized these two were laymen with no training in Scripture or formal education. They recognized them as companions of Jesus, but with the man right before them, seeing him standing there so upright—so healed!—what could they say against that?
15-17They sent them out of the room so they could work out a plan. They talked it over: “What can we do with these men? By now it’s known all over town that a miracle has occurred, and that they are behind it. There is no way we can refute that. But so that it doesn’t go any further, let’s silence them with threats so they won’t dare to use Jesus’ name ever again with anyone.”
18-20They called them back and warned them that they were on no account ever again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John spoke right back, “Whether it’s right in God’s eyes to listen to you rather than to God, you decide. As for us, there’s no question—we can’t keep quiet about what we’ve seen and heard.”
21-22The religious leaders renewed their threats, but then released them. They couldn’t come up with a charge that would stick, that would keep them in jail. The people wouldn’t have stood for it—they were all praising God over what had happened. The man who had been miraculously healed was over forty years old.
— Acts 4

We need to stand united. We need to come together with other believers to speak truth and life into our communities. We need to encourage one another to also do greater things for God.

23-26As soon as Peter and John were let go, they went to their friends and told them what the high priests and religious leaders had said. Hearing the report, they lifted their voices in a wonderful harmony in prayer: “Strong God, you made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. By the Holy Spirit you spoke through the mouth of your servant and our father, David:
Why the big noise, nations?
Why the mean plots, peoples?
Earth’s leaders push for position,
Potentates meet for summit talks,
The God-deniers, the Messiah-defiers!
27-28“For in fact they did meet—Herod and Pontius Pilate with nations and peoples, even Israel itself!—met in this very city to plot against your holy Son Jesus, the One you made Messiah, to carry out the plans you long ago set in motion.
29-30“And now they’re at it again! Take care of their threats and give your servants fearless confidence in preaching your Message, as you stretch out your hand to us in healings and miracles and wonders done in the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
31While they were praying, the place where they were meeting trembled and shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God’s Word with fearless confidence.
32-33The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them.
34-35And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need.
36-37Joseph, called by the apostles “Barnabas” (which means “Son of Comfort”), a Levite born in Cyprus, sold a field that he owned, brought the money, and made an offering of it to the apostles.
— Acts 4

So where are you at today? Do you realize what you have to offer? Consider what they are asking and are they wanting a temporary fix? Consider what they are asking and is there a way to help with a hand up rather than a handout? A handout may make you and them feel better in the moment, but eventually they will be back in the same situation and when you see them, how will you feel? Consider the options and the alternatives. What do you have to truly offer them! Ask God for wisdom if you aren’t sure.