Run to win!


We’ve each been given a calling. We’ve each been given gift and talents. We are each to be good stewards of what we have been given. Let’s run to win the prize that doesn’t tarnish and is eternal. To succeed, what do we need to do? How do we need to train to be successful? How can we hone those gifts and talents? How can we become everything God created us to be? What do we need to do, how can we train to strengthen and become more prepared for the race of life by training our moral and spiritual life in order to win the race and win the prize? Don’t lose hope! Don’t lose faith! Don’t give up! Keep running to win! Give it everything you’ve got! Consider what you need to do and how you need to live your life. Don’t be lazy or sloppy but be purposeful and alert so that you will be in top condition for all the good works that God has prepared in advance for you to accomplish.

How will you serve God today? How will your life worship Him? As a living sacrifice to Him, what will you do?

Whatever it is, let’s do it to the best of our abilities!

Today’s devotional speaks the following things for consideration…

Worship and service are very closely connected (the same Greek word latreuo is used for both). All human beings are worshippers. You either worship the one true God, or someone or something else. All human beings are servants – to God, to yourself or to someone or something else.

In the passages for today, we see the importance of worshipping and serving the one true God with all of our hearts and beings – giving everything we have got – no sloppy living.

— from Day 227 of 365: Bible In One Year 2017

Take time to read through all of the devotional and Bible reading in order to capture the full message for the day!


No Sloppy Living

Day 227 of 365: Bible In One Year 2017

https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/3420-bible-in-one-year-2017/day/227

  1. Why do you worship and serve? … Psalm 97:1-12

  2. Whom do you worship and serve? … 1 Corinthians 9:19-10:13

  3. How do you worship and serve? … 2 Chronicles 2:1-5:1


The Bible reading today associates with today’s devotional is…

Will you be persistent?


Will you be patient? Will you be persistent? Will you be perseverant? Will you not give up! Will you press onward no matter what? Will you want to see what God has in store?

Elijah in a Chariot of Fire

1Now it came to pass, when Adonai was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind into heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here please, for Adonai has sent me on to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As Adonai lives, and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3Then the sons of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that Adonai is going to take your master away from over you today?” He said, “Yes, I know. Be silent.” 4Then Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here please, for Adonai has sent me on to Jericho.” But he said, “As Adonai lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 5Then the sons of the prophets at Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that Adonai is going to take away your master from over you today?” He replied, “Yes, I know. Be silent.” 6Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here please, for Adonai has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As Adonai lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So both of them went on. 7Then 50 of the sons of the prophets went and stood aside at a distance from them, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. 8Elijah then took his mantle, wrapped it together, and struck the waters, and they were divided here and there, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground. 9Now as they were crossing over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I will do for you before I am taken from you.” So Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” 10He replied, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be so to you; but if not, it will not be so.” 11As they were walking along and talking, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12As Elisha was watching, he was crying out, “Avi! Avi! The chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” Then he saw him no more. So he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

Elisha Takes Up the Mantle

13He then picked up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him. When he returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan, 14he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen off him, struck the waters and said, “Where is Adonai, the God of Elijah?” As he indeed struck the waters, they parted here then there. Then Elisha crossed over. 15When the sons of the prophets at Jericho saw him some way off, they said, “The spirit of Elijah has rested on Elisha.” So they came to meet him and bowed down to the ground before him. 16Then they said to him, “Behold now, there are 50 strong men with your servants. Please let them go and search for your master. Perhaps the Ruach Adonai has taken him up and cast him onto some mountain or into some valley.” But he said, “Don’t send them.” 17But when they urged him until he was ashamed, he said, “Send them.” So they sent 50 men. Though they searched for three days, they did not find him. 18When they came back to him while he staying in Jericho, he said to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to go?” 19Then the men of the city said to Elisha, “Look now, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees, but the water is bad and the land barren.” 20He responded, “Bring me a new jar, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. 21Then he went out to the spring of water, threw salt in it and said, “Thus says Adonai, I have healed this water. No longer will there be from there death or barrenness.” 22So the waters were healed to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke. 23From there he went up to Bethel. As he was going up along the road, some young boys came out of the city. They mocked him saying to him, “Go on up, baldy! Go on up, baldy!” 24So he turned around and looked at them and cursed them in the Name of Adonai. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and mauled 42 of the boys. 25From there he went to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.

–from 2 Kings 2

Imagine what you will see. Imagine what you will experience. Imagine… See how persistence worked for Elisha? See what he got to see and experience? So where are you at today? Don’t give up! Don’t give in! And allow God’s life experiences to be witnessed by you so that you can have a testimony of Him to share with others.

Be careful who you walk with! Be careful who you follow! If it is not God then you are treading on thin ice. Don’t walk away from God, but rather walk with Him and talk with Him and allow Him to direct your steps.

1Now Jehoram, Ahab’s son, became king of Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of King Jehoshaphat of Judah, and he reigned twelve years. 2He did what was evil in Adonai’s eyes, though not like his father and his mother, for he put away the pillar of Baal that his father had made. 3Nevertheless, he clung to the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, not turning away from them.

Moab Revolts Against Israel

4Now King Mesha of Moab was a sheep-breeder, and he used to render as tribute to the king of Israel the wool of 100,000 lambs and 100,000 rams. 5But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 6So King Jehoram marched out from Samaria at that time and mustered all Israel. 7Then he sent word to King Jehoshaphat of Judah saying, “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you march with me against Moab to battle?” Jehoshaphat replied, “I will march. I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” 8And he added, “By which route will we go up?” He answered, “The route of the wilderness of Edom.” 9So the king of Israel, the king of Judah and the king of Edom marched. They kept circling roundabout for seven days, but there was no water for the army or for the animals that followed them. 10“Ah!” the king of Israel cried, “Adonai has called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab!”

Elisha Foretells Moab’s Defeat

11But Jehoshaphat said, “Isn’t there a prophet of Adonai here, that we may inquire of Adonai by him?” One of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, “Elisha son of Shaphat, who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah, is here.” 12Jehoshaphat replied, “The word of Adonai is with him.” So the king of Israel, Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him. 13But Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What do I have to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother!” “No!” the king of Israel said to him, “For has Adonai brought these three kings together only to deliver them into the hand of Moab?” 14Elisha said, “As Adonai-Tzva’ot lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I respect the presence of King Jehoshaphat of Judah, I would not look at you or even see you. 15Now, bring me a musician.” Now as the musician played, the hand of Adonai came upon him, 16and he said, “Thus says Adonai: Make this valley full of trenches. 17For thus says Adonai: You will not see wind nor will you see rain, yet this valley will be filled with water. So you will drink, both you and your cattle and your animals. 18Yet this is an easy thing in Adonai’s eyes—for He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand. 19Then you must strike every fortified city and every major town, cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs of water and ruin every good field with stones.” 20Then it came to pass in the morning, about the time of offering up the sacrifice, behold—water was flowing from the direction of Edom—so that the water covered the land. 21Meanwhile the Moabites heard that the kings had marched to fight against them. So they gathered themselves together, all that were able to put on armor and older, and stood at the border. 22When they rose up early in the morning and the sun was shining upon the water, the Moabites saw the water from a distance as red as blood! 23So they said, “This is blood! The kings have surely clashed swords and slain each other. Now, to the spoil, Moab!” 24But when they came near Israel’s camp, the Israelites rose up and struck the Moabites, who fled before them. Then they invaded, slaughtering the Moabites. 25They destroyed the cities. Also each man threw his stone onto every good field and covered it. They stopped up all the springs of water and cut down all the good trees—until nothing was left except Kir-hareseth with the stones of its wall. However, the slingers encircled it and struck it down. 26When the king of Moab saw that the battle was too fierce for him, he took with him 700 swordsmen to break through to the king of Edom, but they could not. 27Then he took his firstborn son who should have become king in his place and offered him as a burnt offering on the wall. And there was great wrath against Israel that they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.

–from 2 Kings 3

When faced with a challenge or a test, turn to God for help and answers. God will give wisdom to those who seek Him! He can take the little we have and use it to His glory! Will you trust Him? Will you obey Him? How great is your faith? How much will you give up to Him to use? How much will you open for Him to use?

Miracle of Multiplying Oil

1Now a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha saying, “Your servant my husband is dead—you know that your servant feared Adonai. Now the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” 2“What should I do for you?” Elisha asked her. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” She replied, “Your handmaid has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” 3Then he said, “Go borrow for yourself vessels from all your neighbors—empty jars—not just a few. 4Then go inside and shut the door behind you and behind your sons, and pour into all those vessels, setting aside what is full.” 5So she left him and shut the door behind her and behind her sons. They kept bringing the vessels to her and she kept pouring. 6When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” But he said to her, “There isn’t another vessel.” So the oil stopped. 7Then she came and told the man of God. So he said, “Go sell the oil and pay your debt, then you and your sons can live on the rest.”

Shunammite Hospitality

8One day when Elisha passed through Shunem, where there was a prominent woman who persuaded him to eat some food. And so it was, whenever he passed through, he would stop for a meal. 9Then she said to her husband, “Behold now, I realize that this man who often passes through is a holy man of God. 10Please, let’s make a little walled room on the roof, and let’s put there a bed, a table, a chair, and a lampstand for him. Then whenever he comes to us, he can stay there.” 11One day he came there, and retired to the upper chamber and lay down there. 12Then he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite woman.” When he had called her, she stood before him. 13He said to him, “Tell her: Behold, you have gone to all this trouble for us. What can be done for you? Can something be communicated to the king or to the commander of the army for you?” She answered, “I am living among my own people.” 14So he asked, “Then what should be done for her?” Then Gehazi answered, “In fact, she has no son, and her husband is old.” 15“Call her,” he said. And when he had called her, she stood in the doorway. 16Then he said, “At this season next year, you will be embracing a son.” But she said, “No, my lord, do not lie to your handmaid, man of God.” 17Nevertheless, the woman conceived and bore a son during that season the following year, just as Elisha had told her. 18Now when the child was grown, one day he went out to his father among the reapers. 19Then he said to his father, “My head, my head!” So he said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20So he picked him up and brought him to his mother. The child sat on her lap until noon, and then died. 21She then went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door on him and went out. 22Then she called to her husband, and said, “Please send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys that I may run to the man of God and come back.” 23But he said, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither New Moon nor Shabbat.” But she said, “It will be well.” 24Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Move on! Don’t slow down riding unless I tell you.” 25So she set out and came near the man of God at Mount Carmel. Upon seeing her from a distance, the man of God said to his servant Gehazi, “Look! There’s the Shunammite. 26Please, run now to meet her and ask her: ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the boy?’” She answered, “It is well.” 27But when she arrived at the mountain, up to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet. Then Gehazi stepped forward to push her away, but the man of God said, “Leave her alone, for her soul is bitter within her, yet Adonai has hid it from me and has not told me.” 28“Did I ask my lord for a son?” she said. “Didn’t I say, ‘Don’t deceive me’?” 29Then he said to Gehazi, “Gird up your loins and take my staff in your hand and go. If you meet anyone, don’t greet him. Or if anyone greets you, don’t answer him; and lay my staff on the face of the child.” 30But the mother of the child said, “As Adonai lives and as you live, I won’t leave you.” So he arose and followed her. 31Gehazi passed on ahead of them and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or response. So he returned to meet him and told him, saying, “The boy has not awakened.” 32When Elisha entered the house, there was the child, dead and laying on his bed. 33So he entered and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to Adonai. 34Then he got up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth and his eyes on his eyes and his hands on his hands, and he stretched himself upon him. So the flesh of the child became warm. 35Then he stepped down and walked in the house to and fro, and then he got up on the bed and stretched himself on him. The child sneezed seven times, then the child opened his eyes. 36He then called Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite.” So he called her. When she came in to him, he said, “Pick up your son.” 37She came, fell at his feet and bowed down to the ground. Then she picked up her son and went out.

Elisha Purifies Deadly Stew

38Afterward Elisha returned to Gilgal. Now there was famine in the land. As the sons of the prophets were sitting before him, he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot and boil stew for the sons of the prophets.” 39Then one of them went out into the field to gather herbs, found a wild vine and picked from it a lapful of wild gourds. Then he came back and sliced them into the stew pot, for they didn’t know what they were. 40Then they served it for the men to eat. But it came to pass as they were still eating the stew, they cried out and said, “O man of God, there is death in the pot.” So they could not eat it. 41But he said, “Bring some flour,” and he threw it into the pot and said, “Serve it to the people and let them eat.” So there was nothing bad in the pot. 42Now a man came from Baal-shalishah, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits—20 loaves of barley bread and fresh ears of corn in his sack. Then he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” 43But his attendant said, “What? Will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says Adonai, ‘They will eat and will have left over.’” 44So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of Adonai.

–from 2 Kings 4

Let’s not miss out on all God has planned! Let’s accept and receive Jesus God’s greatest gift to humanity! Let’s choose Jesus to be our Lord and Savior and live for Him! That we may be with Him all the days of our lives on earth and in heaven! Choose before it is too late!

A Song for the 144,000

1Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him were 144,000 who had His name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and the booming of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like harpists playing on their harps. 3And they are singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one is able to learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4These are the ones who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been redeemed from among mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb. 5And in their mouth was found no lie—they are blameless.

Three Angels with Messages

6And then I saw another angel flying high in the sky, having a timeless message of good news to proclaim to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation and tribe and tongue and people. 7He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship the One who made heaven and earth and sea and springs of water.” 8Another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great— she who made all nations drink of the wine of the fury of her immorality.” 9And another angel, a third one, followed them, saying in a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he shall also drink the wine of God’s fury, poured full strength into the cup of His wrath. And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb. 11The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. Those who worship the beast and its image and those who receive the mark of his name have no rest day or night.” 12Here is the perseverance of the kedoshim—those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Yeshua. 13Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: How fortunate are the dead—those who die in the Lord from now on!” “Yes,” says the Ruach, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.”

Time to Harvest the Earth

14Then I looked, and behold, there was a white cloud—and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man. He had a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. 15Then another angel came out of the Temple, crying out with a loud voice to the One seated on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16So the One seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. 17Then another angel came out of the Temple in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. 18Then another angel—the one who has authority over fire—came out from the altar; and he called out with a loud voice to the one holding the sharp sickle, saying, “Put in your sickle and gather the grape clusters from the vineyard of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.” 19So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the clusters from the vineyard of the earth and threw them into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20And the winepress was stomped on outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress as high as a horse’s bridle for 1,600 stadia.

–from The Revelation 14

 

Don’t give up! Don’t give in! Remember…


3May all the gifts and benefits that come from God our Father, and the Master, Jesus Christ, be yours.
4-6Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There’s no end to what has happened in you—it’s beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives.
7-9Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.
— 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

 

Get along with one another! Be considerate of one another! Build unity!

10I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.
11-12I bring this up because some from Chloe’s family brought a most disturbing report to my attention—that you’re fighting among yourselves! I’ll tell you exactly what I was told: You’re all picking sides, going around saying, “I’m on Paul’s side,” or “I’m for Apollos,” or “Peter is my man,” or “I’m in the Messiah group.”
13-16I ask you, “Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own? Was Paul crucified for you? Was a single one of you baptized in Paul’s name?” I was not involved with any of your baptisms—except for Crispus and Gaius—and on getting this report, I’m sure glad I wasn’t. At least no one can go around saying he was baptized in my name. (Come to think of it, I also baptized Stephanas’s family, but as far as I can recall, that’s it.)
17God didn’t send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him. And he didn’t send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—Christ on the Cross—be trivialized into mere words.
18-21The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It’s written,
I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head,
I’ll expose so-called experts as crackpots.
So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb—preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.
22-25While Jews clamor for miraculous demonstrations and Greeks go in for philosophical wisdom, we go right on proclaiming Christ, the Crucified. Jews treat this like an anti-miracle—and Greeks pass it off as absurd. But to us who are personally called by God himself—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness.”
26-31Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”
— 1 Corinthians 1:10-31

There is just one church, one body, many parts. So let’s work together for the good of the body! Let’s not act in a way that divides, but one that restores.

14-18I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
19-24But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?
25-26The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
27-31You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his “body”:
apostles
prophets
teachers
miracle workers
healers
helpers
organizers
those who pray in tongues.
But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It’s not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts.
But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.
— 1 Corinthians 12:10-31

 

Realize God’s hand in it! It’s not about me, it’s all about Him! I’m not doing anything in my own power, but it is through the grace and truth and power of God that I can do what I do!

1-2You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.
3-5I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else.
6-10We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross. That’s why we have this Scripture text:
No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this,
Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—
What God has arranged for those who love him.
But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you.
10-13The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Who ever knows what you’re thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God—except that he not only knows what he’s thinking, but he lets us in on it. God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way.
14-16The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit. There’s no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit—God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion. Spiritually alive, we have access to everything God’s Spirit is doing, and can’t be judged by unspiritual critics. Isaiah’s question, “Is there anyone around who knows God’s Spirit, anyone who knows what he is doing?” has been answered: Christ knows, and we have Christ’s Spirit.
— 1 Corinthians 2:1-16

 

 

 

 

Do you realize the purpose?


There are things in life that people do for various reasons. Is there a purpose for them? Is it to keep them on the right track? Is it to keep them healthy? Is it to keep them from harm? Before you start heading down the wrong road consider the path and the purpose. Consider if the reason is right and is what you should be doing. Is it something that somebody made up or is it wisdom from God? Is it something that someone made up or is it God’s command? Jesus came for a purpose with a purpose on purpose! Why do you do what you do? What is keeping you on that path? What would it take for you to change or reconsider your ways?

As we walk today, lets be walking with purpose for a purpose on purpose!

— not just doing something to do something —

 

Are you being a role model? Are you living a life that others are seeing and grab onto? Who are you modeling your life after? Who is your role model? Whether you know it or not, you are being watched by others! Kids are watching so they can learn how to be like you! Others are watching you to see what makes you tick so that they can take from it the things that can help them. Others are watching to try and see if they can pick something up to try and trip you up. So what will guide your path? What will direct your steps? Consider the Word of God — a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Follow His directions! Stick to His path! Walk His Way! Let’s stay on course! Let’s not live a day with regrets! Let’s walk in obedience to His Word for He will never leave us nor abandon us! Consider the road, consider the signs, keep focused on what He is putting in front of you to do! It’s better to walk in alignment with God and in obedience to His commands than to try and store up and pile up riches on this earth that won’t last through eternity, but will be burned up. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Put your heart and mind into focus of eternity with God, for where your heart is so will your treasure be. Be a blessing because God is blessing you. Consider how He would have you be a blessing… is it what you say? is it where you spend your time? is it how you live your life? is it by being generous to others? is it by the quality of relationship you have with others? Can others tell that you care?

Are you part of the welcoming committee that is welcoming people into the Kingdom of God? Let’s align to Jesus for that is right and good.

24“It’s urgent that you listen carefully to this: Anyone here who believes what I am saying right now and aligns himself with the Father, who has in fact put me in charge, has at this very moment the real, lasting life and is no longer condemned to be an outsider. This person has taken a giant step from the world of the dead to the world of the living.
25-27“It’s urgent that you get this right: The time has arrived—I mean right now!—when dead men and women will hear the voice of the Son of God and, hearing, will come alive. Just as the Father has life in himself, he has conferred on the Son life in himself. And he has given him the authority, simply because he is the Son of Man, to decide and carry out matters of Judgment.
28-29“Don’t act so surprised at all this. The time is coming when everyone dead and buried will hear his voice. Those who have lived the right way will walk out into a resurrection Life; those who have lived the wrong way, into a resurrection Judgment.
30-33“I can’t do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust my decision because I’m not out to get my own way but only to carry out orders. If I were simply speaking on my own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness. But an independent witness confirms me, the most reliable Witness of all. Furthermore, you all saw and heard John, and he gave expert and reliable testimony about me, didn’t he?
34-38“But my purpose is not to get your vote, and not to appeal to mere human testimony. I’m speaking to you this way so that you will be saved. John was a torch, blazing and bright, and you were glad enough to dance for an hour or so in his bright light. But the witness that really confirms me far exceeds John’s witness. It’s the work the Father gave me to complete. These very tasks, as I go about completing them, confirm that the Father, in fact, sent me. The Father who sent me, confirmed me. And you missed it. You never heard his voice, you never saw his appearance. There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously.
39-40“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me!And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.
41-44“I’m not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?
45-47“But don’t think I’m going to accuse you before my Father. Moses, in whom you put so much stock, is your accuser. If you believed, really believed, what Moses said, you would believe me. He wrote of me. If you won’t take seriously what he wrote, how can I expect you to take seriously what I speak?”John 5

Your purpose is bigger than just to please people. Your purpose is bigger than just to entertain people. Your purpose is bigger than just to get the approval of man, but to serve God to get His approval – to get to hear Him say “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. It’s to point people to Jesus that they may be saved and find eternity with God rather than be stuck in eternal judgment.

Don’t focus on how little you have, but on how God can use and multiply what you have! Don’t think what you have or who you are is insignificant, for everyone has a purpose and as such is significant! How much would 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish make if  you had thousands of hungry people? Where does your focus go when faced with you have to help and feed thousands of people? Is it how much it would cost you? Is it how is that possible? Is it that it is impossible? Do you get overwhelmed because you are focusing on the problem rather than on God who is the solution? Imagine getting the request “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” How great is your faith? Where does your mind go? What do you hear in your heart? When we give what we have into the hands of Jesus, He is able to bless it, He is able to multiply it, and He is able to meet all their needs.

7Philip answered, “Two hundred silver pieces wouldn’t be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece.”
8-9One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”
10-11Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted.
12-13When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves.
14-15The people realized that God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done. They said, “This is the Prophet for sure, God’s Prophet right here in Galilee!” Jesus saw that in their enthusiasm, they were about to grab him and make him king, so he slipped off and went back up the mountain to be by himself. — John 6

Will you or do you remember what God has done in your life? When the next big challenge shows up where will you focus? Will you remember? Will you focus on the problem? Don’t be overwhelmed by the situation! Don’t be overwhelmed by the challenge that is coming before you. All things are possible for those who believe! Having a problem with it, then ask Jesus to help your unbelief!

In your actions today, are  you filling up people’s hearts with hope? Are you building up their faith and hope in God? Will you point them to God rather than being pumped up? What is your purpose for today? How will you be part of God’s plan and purpose in your life? Will you walk with purpose on purpose today?

27“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.”
28To that they said, “Well, what do we do then to get in on God’s works?”
29Jesus said, “Throw your lot in with the One that God has sent. That kind of a commitment gets you in on God’s works.”
30-31They waffled: “Why don’t you give us a clue about who you are, just a hint of what’s going on? When we see what’s up, we’ll commit ourselves. Show us what you can do. Moses fed our ancestors with bread in the desert. It says so in the Scriptures: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
32-33Jesus responded, “The real significance of that Scripture is not that Moses gave you bread from heaven but that my Father is right now offering you bread from heaven, the real bread. The Bread of God came down out of heaven and is giving life to the world.”
34They jumped at that: “Master, give us this bread, now and forever!”
35-38Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.
39-40“This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.”
41-42At this, because he said, “I am the Bread that came down from heaven,” the Jews started arguing over him: “Isn’t this the son of Joseph? Don’t we know his father? Don’t we know his mother? How can he now say, ‘I came down out of heaven’ and expect anyone to believe him?”
43-46Jesus said, “Don’t bicker among yourselves over me. You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that’s the only way you’ll ever come. Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End. This is what the prophets meant when they wrote, ‘And then they will all be personally taught by God.’ Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really listening and therefore learning, comes to me to be taught personally—to see it with his own eyes, hear it with his own ears, from me, since I have it firsthand from the Father. No one has seen the Father except the One who has his Being alongside the Father—and you can see me.
47-51“I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I am the Bread—living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self.”
52At this, the Jews started fighting among themselves: “How can this man serve up his flesh for a meal?”
53-58But Jesus didn’t give an inch. “Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you. The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day. My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you. In the same way that the fully alive Father sent me here and I live because of him, so the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me. This is the Bread from heaven. Your ancestors ate bread and later died. Whoever eats this Bread will live always.”
59He said these things while teaching in the meeting place in Capernaum. — John 6

Some will be naysayers. Some will look to derail or change the subject. But there is a truth! There is a way! It’s not about me, it’s about Jesus who came to make a way when there wasn’t a way. He came that there would be a way for us to be reconciled to God the Father. Something we can’t do in our own, but that can be done through Him. Don’t be distracted or derailed! Stay focused on the reality of what is at hand right here and right now. Pursue your purpose now! Don’t resist the Word of God! Don’t refuse the plans and the purpose God has for you! Jesus is a gift from God to give us a way into eternity with God in Heaven!!

Feeling like you are at the end of your rope? Turn to God!

21-25Oh, God, my Lord, step in;
work a miracle for me—you can do it!
Get me out of here—your love is so great!—
I’m at the end of my rope, my life in ruins.
I’m fading away to nothing, passing away,
my youth gone, old before my time.
I’m weak from hunger and can hardly stand up,
my body a rack of skin and bones.
I’m a joke in poor taste to those who see me;
they take one look and shake their heads.
26-29Help me, oh help me, God, my God,
save me through your wonderful love;
Then they’ll know that your hand is in this,
that you, God, have been at work.
Let them curse all they want;
you do the blessing.
Let them be jeered by the crowd when they stand up,
followed by cheers for me, your servant.
Dress my accusers in clothes dirty with shame,
discarded and humiliating old ragbag clothes.
30-31My mouth’s full of great praise for God,
I’m singing his hallelujahs surrounded by crowds,
For he’s always at hand to take the side of the needy,
to rescue a life from the unjust judge. — Psalm 109

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s no if’s…it’s a matter of when!


Do you believe or not? Do you think it can be done or not? Consider your thoughts and your words! When you are going to say something consider what you are trying to say. Imagine if my previous statement has started with if the difference that makes to the comment. It’s not if, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when because you will say something, I believe that. So there is no if’s about it!

How many times do you hear people say “If …”? How many times have you started or thought “If…”? Now when this happens the next time consider stopping yourself when you are about to do it or when the other person is starting to do it, ask do you mean when? The main reason is that when you believe something it becomes when not if. When you aren’t sure or don’t know that is when you will hear people saying “If…”

We see this in today’s morning reading from Mark 9-10, Psalm 103 when Jesus is confronted by a man whose son needs a touch from God.

21-22He asked the boy’s father, “How long has this been going on?”
“Ever since he was a little boy. Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!”
23Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.”
24No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!
25-27Seeing that the crowd was forming fast, Jesus gave the vile spirit its marching orders: “Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!” Screaming, and with much thrashing about, it left. The boy was pale as a corpse, so people started saying, “He’s dead.” But Jesus, taking his hand, raised him. The boy stood up.
— Mark 9

All things are possible when we believe. Do you have doubt or fears and need help from God? Consider what this man said: “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!” As Jesus said: “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.“, it becomes a matter of when! God’s timing is perfect, He is never late, rarely early, and always on time! So where will you put your trust? What are you going to believe? Do you believe it’s possible? Do you believe it’s going to happen? Are you asking God to help you with your disbelief? Are you asking God to help you with your doubts?

What are you facing today? Are you trying to do it all in your own power? Are you trying to do it all in your own strength? Think about it a different way…Turn to God and talk to Him about it. Pray for wisdom and direction! Pray for power and strength in the name of Jesus to be able accomplish His will today! And walk it out trusting and believing in Him.

We see how the disciples we having troubles and Jesus affirms what needs to happen:

28After arriving back home, his disciples cornered Jesus and asked, “Why couldn’t we throw the demon out?”
29He answered, “There is no way to get rid of this kind of demon except by prayer.” — Mark 9

When we walk with God, building up our relationships, He prepares us for what is ahead so that it won’t be such a surprise and that we won’t lose faith but remember what He said and keep our hope and trust in Him. Fear may shake us up, but joy comes in the morning. We may not always walk it out or listen, but when we get to a point, a pivot point, we will remember and turn back. Some walk away and when they hit rock bottom they come back. Some walk away and realize what is going on and turn back sooner. Have you walked away from Jesus? How far will you have to go before you will turn around and run back into the open and loving arms of Jesus? We see how much God is interested in finding and saving the lost in His Word! Today may be your day to go home to God and allow the angels to celebrate your return. There is a huge party because you were lost and now you are found, you were good as dead and now you are reborn and alive. It’s a matter of trusting and believing!

All things are possible for those who believe!


 

Where are you focusing today? Are you trying to get there first or help others also get there? Are you leading from the front or hurrying others from the back? Consider a shepherd or a sheepdog they try to keep everyone together and going in the right direction. If they went from the front, someone could sneak in from the back and try to lure them away. If you are leading from the front, it is possible that not everyone would make it in before the gate closed. If you are leading from the back, you are sure everyone got in! Are you a servant leader who is caring for others? Are you leading from a place of power demanding of others? Are you leading from a spirit of love?

I’ve taught my kids when I ask them if they want to go first or last and I have had situations where they are all asking to be last because God’s Word tells us that the first will go last and the last will go first.  This is how Jesus put it:

33They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road?”
34The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.
35He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.”
— Mark 9

So do you know how to treat others? Do you realize it has implications?

36-37He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.”
38John spoke up, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn’t in our group.”
39-41Jesus wasn’t pleased. “Don’t stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down. If he’s not an enemy, he’s an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice.
42“On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.
43-48“If your hand or your foot gets in God’s way, chop it off and throw it away. You’re better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owner of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You’re better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell.
49-50“Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace.” — Mark 9

So let’s persevere! Let’s press on! Let’s be peace makers! Let’s be lovers! Let’s shine the hope of Jesus to the lost around us! People are looking for a reason to hope and a reason to be loved. Will you point them to the source? Will you tell there is a way? What role will you play today?


Ever been faced in the situation where someone is trying to trip you up? Asking trick questions? Trying to trick you into saying something that they can use against you? Trying to get some leverage they can use? Consider God’s advice… Even a fool seems wise if he doesn’t say anything. We should ask God for wisdom and understanding when asked or confronted. We can then have the right questions to ask in return or the right words to speak if we should even speak. Jesus demonstrates such a situation in today’s reading:

1-2From there he went to the area of Judea across the Jordan. A crowd of people, as was so often the case, went along, and he, as he so often did, taught them. Pharisees came up, intending to give him a hard time. They asked, “Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife?”
3Jesus said, “What did Moses command?”
4They answered, “Moses gave permission to fill out a certificate of dismissal and divorce her.”
5-9Jesus said, “Moses wrote this command only as a concession to your hardhearted ways. In the original creation, God made male and female to be together. Because of this, a man leaves father and mother, and in marriage he becomes one flesh with a woman—no longer two individuals, but forming a new unity. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.”
10-12When they were back home, the disciples brought it up again. Jesus gave it to them straight: “A man who divorces his wife so he can marry someone else commits adultery against her. And a woman who divorces her husband so she can marry someone else commits adultery.” — Mark 10

Are you pointing people to God or away from God? Are you trying to get in the middle of it all? Are you trying to help them get there?

13-16The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. — Mark 10

Have you given everything to God? Is there anything in your life that you are holding back? Is there anything that you are holding onto and not allowing God to be ruler of all? He is either the savior of all or He is not savior at all. Just like so much of our lives and where we end up, we have to make a choice! What are we going to do with our free will? Will we give every part of our lives? For those who had nothing and walked with God to prosperity, they trust Him with all (the enemy tends to try and shake them up with fear though). For those who come to Him with or in prosperity  giving it all up into His hands can be a challenge. Jesus shares such a story with us in today’s reading. Nothing is impossible with God! It may be impossible without Him, but with God all things are possible!

17As he went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?”
18-19Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother.”
20He said, “Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!”
21Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.”
22The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.
23-25Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?” The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: “You can’t imagine how difficult. I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom.”
26That set the disciples back on their heels. “Then who has any chance at all?” they asked.
27Jesus was blunt: “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it.
28Peter tried another angle: “We left everything and followed you.”
29-31Jesus said, “Mark my words, no one who sacrifices house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, land—whatever—because of me and the Message will lose out. They’ll get it all back, but multiplied many times in homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land—but also in troubles. And then the bonus of eternal life! This is once again the Great Reversal: Many who are first will end up last, and the last first.”
32-34Back on the road, they set out for Jerusalem. Jesus had a head start on them, and they were following, puzzled and not just a little afraid. He took the Twelve and began again to go over what to expect next. “Listen to me carefully. We’re on our way up to Jerusalem. When we get there, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the religious leaders and scholars. They will sentence him to death. Then they will hand him over to the Romans, who will mock and spit on him, give him the third degree, and kill him. After three days he will rise alive.” — Mark 10

Be careful what you ask for! Are you sure you want that? You may get what you asked for just to learn that you don’t really want it! Or that it wasn’t everything you thought it would be! Consider what happens next in our reading…

35James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came up to him. “Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us.”
36“What is it? I’ll see what I can do.”
37“Arrange it,” they said, “so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory—one of us at your right, the other at your left.”
38Jesus said, “You have no idea what you’re asking. Are you capable of drinking the cup I drink, of being baptized in the baptism I’m about to be plunged into?”
39-40“Sure,” they said. “Why not?”
Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you will drink the cup I drink, and be baptized in my baptism. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. There are other arrangements for that.” — Mark 10

So do you want to be first or last? Do you want to serve or be served? Do you?

Do you want Jesus? Do you need Jesus? Will you let anyone get in the way of getting you to Him and into His presence? Will you allow anyone to detract or derail you from being with Him? What if people shushed you or tried to quiet you down?

46-48They spent some time in Jericho. As Jesus was leaving town, trailed by his disciples and a parade of people, a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, was sitting alongside the road. When he heard that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by, he began to cry out, “Son of David, Jesus! Mercy, have mercy on me!” Many tried to hush him up, but he yelled all the louder, “Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!”
49-50Jesus stopped in his tracks. “Call him over.”
They called him. “It’s your lucky day! Get up! He’s calling you to come!” Throwing off his coat, he was on his feet at once and came to Jesus.
51Jesus said, “What can I do for you?”
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
52“On your way,” said Jesus. “Your faith has saved and healed you.”
In that very instant he recovered his sight and followed Jesus down the road.
— Mark 10

 

 

 

 

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is your heart right? Is there anything polluting your heart?


Are you saying things to make excuses for doing things right? Are you doing things that don’t align with what you should really be doing? Where is your heart in all of this? What is really going on? Are you doing the right thing or is your heart really not in it?

This morning’s reading from God’s Word: Matthew 15-16, Psalm 92 starts off with this title: “What Pollutes Your Life“. One quote that comes to mind as I am reading this is “Methings thou dost protest too much” from William Shakespeare in Hamlet. We see the reading start with Pharisees and religion scholars coming and protesting about how Jesus’ disciples are living. We see it is a matter of the heart why they are attacking Him and them.

1-2After that, Pharisees and religion scholars came to Jesus all the way from Jerusalem, criticizing, “Why do your disciples play fast and loose with the rules?”
3-9But Jesus put it right back on them. “Why do you use your rules to play fast and loose with God’s commands? God clearly says, ‘Respect your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.’ But you weasel around that by saying, ‘Whoever wants to, can say to father and mother, What I owed to you I’ve given to God.’ That can hardly be called respecting a parent. You cancel God’s command by your rules. Frauds! Isaiah’s prophecy of you hit the bull’s-eye:
These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their heart isn’t in it.
They act like they’re worshiping me,
but they don’t mean it.
They just use me as a cover
for teaching whatever suits their fancy.”
10-11He then called the crowd together and said, “Listen, and take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.”

It’s not a matter of what you put in that pollutes you, it’s a matter of what comes back out! What goes in isn’t as big of a problem, unless it affects what is on the inside. If your heart is good then what comes out will be good. If your heart is hurting, what you speak out will be hurting words. If your heart is polluted, then that pollution will be coming back out. Jesus explained it this way:

15Peter said, “I don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”
16-20Jesus replied, “You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That’s what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that’s neither here nor there.”

So where are you at today? Is your heart in the right place? Are you asking Jesus to help clean house? Have you asked Him into your heart so that in your heart is only Jesus? Not Jesus plus but Jesus only. Are you ask God to search your heart and make it pure and clean? Like David did?

Don’t give up! Keep pressing on! Allow your faith to find victory!

21-22From there Jesus took a trip to Tyre and Sidon. They had hardly arrived when a Canaanite woman came down from the hills and pleaded, “Mercy, Master, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly afflicted by an evil spirit.”
23Jesus ignored her. The disciples came and complained, “Now she’s bothering us. Would you please take care of her? She’s driving us crazy.”
24Jesus refused, telling them, “I’ve got my hands full dealing with the lost sheep of Israel.”
25Then the woman came back to Jesus, went to her knees, and begged. “Master, help me.”
26He said, “It’s not right to take bread out of children’s mouths and throw it to dogs.”
27She was quick: “You’re right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master’s table.”
28Jesus gave in. “Oh, woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!” Right then her daughter became well. — Matthew 15

There are so many people around you today who are in need. Have you prepared to be able to help them? Have you gone in advance to be ready for all that God wants and needs you to do today? Jesus did, so let’s follow His example.

29-31After Jesus returned, he walked along Lake Galilee and then climbed a mountain and took his place, ready to receive visitors. They came, tons of them, bringing along the paraplegic, the blind, the maimed, the mute—all sorts of people in need—and more or less threw them down at Jesus’ feet to see what he would do with them. He healed them. When the people saw the mutes speaking, the maimed healthy, the paraplegics walking around, the blind looking around, they were astonished and let everyone know that God was blazingly alive among them. — Matthew 15

But He didn’t stop there, He met them at their point of need and then saw their was more that He could do. Are you seeing those around you and their immediate problem? Are you assisting them in that area? Do you think you are done or are you asking God for wisdom in regards to if there is anything else that He would want you to be doing or helping with? Jesus did and it glorified His Father in Heaven!

32But Jesus wasn’t finished with them. He called his disciples and said, “I hurt for these people. For three days now they’ve been with me, and now they have nothing to eat. I can’t send them away without a meal—they’d probably collapse on the road.”
33His disciples said, “But where in this deserted place are you going to dig up enough food for a meal?”
34-39Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”
“Seven loaves,” they said, “plus a few fish.” At that, Jesus directed the people to sit down. He took the seven loaves and the fish. After giving thanks, he divided it up and gave it to the people. Everyone ate. They had all they wanted. It took seven large baskets to collect the leftovers. Over four thousand people ate their fill at that meal. After Jesus sent them away, he climbed in the boat and crossed over to the Magadan hills. — Matthew 15

Imagine someone coming up to Jesus demanding a sign? Imagine getting back the only sign they will get is the sign of Jonah? Imagine the confusion as this was before the crucifixion and resurrection. Jonah was in the fish for 3 days — Jesus was dead and in the tomb for three days. Jonah was given new life on the third day — Jesus was resurrected and defeated death and sin forever! So be careful in your life, because a little bit of a bad thing can ruin the entire batch. As we head into the next chapter (16), we see that is where this starts with the title “Some Bad Yeast“.

1-4Some Pharisees and Sadducees were on him again, pressing him to prove himself to them. He told them, “You have a saying that goes, ‘Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning.’ You find it easy enough to forecast the weather—why can’t you read the signs of the times? An evil and wanton generation is always wanting signs and wonders. The only sign you’ll get is the Jonah sign.” Then he turned on his heel and walked away.
5-6On their way to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring along bread. In the meantime, Jesus said to them, “Keep a sharp eye out for Pharisee-Sadducee yeast.”
7-12Thinking he was scolding them for forgetting bread, they discussed in whispers what to do. Jesus knew what they were doing and said, “Why all these worried whispers about forgetting the bread? Runt believers! Haven’t you caught on yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves of bread and the five thousand people, and how many baskets of fragments you picked up? Or the seven loaves that fed four thousand, and how many baskets of leftovers you collected? Haven’t you realized yet that bread isn’t the problem? The problem is yeast, Pharisee-Sadducee yeast.” Then they got it: that he wasn’t concerned about eating, but teaching—the Pharisee-Sadducee kind of teaching. — Matthew 16

Do you realize who Jesus is? Do you know that He came to have a relationship with us? Do you know that it is about more than religion and rituals, but it is about a relationship with Jesus? In this way new doors of opportunity and life have been open.

13When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?”
14They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
15He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”
16Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17-18Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.
19“And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.”
20He swore the disciples to secrecy. He made them promise they would tell no one that he was the Messiah.

Let Jesus take the wheel! Let Him be in the driver’s seat! Trust Him, He is good to His Word! Do what He says to do. Avoid what He says not to do. This is the day that the Lord has made, let’s rejoice and be glad in it. Jesus did it all that we could be reconciled to God.

21-22Then Jesus made it clear to his disciples that it was now necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, submit to an ordeal of suffering at the hands of the religious leaders, be killed, and then on the third day be raised up alive. Peter took him in hand, protesting, “Impossible, Master! That can never be!”
23But Jesus didn’t swerve. “Peter, get out of my way. Satan, get lost. You have no idea how God works.”
24-26Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?
27-28“Don’t be in such a hurry to go into business for yourself. Before you know it the Son of Man will arrive with all the splendor of his Father, accompanied by an army of angels. You’ll get everything you have coming to you, a personal gift. This isn’t pie in the sky by and by. Some of you standing here are going to see it take place, see the Son of Man in kingdom glory.” — Matthew 16

It’s a gift through grace. Will you receive it? Will you accept it? Will you live it?

Good for nothing…


Nobody would want such a title. Everybody wants to have purpose. Everybody wants to be doing something for a greater purpose. The problem is that some people take the most important part of the equation out and still try to get it done. Imagine the best titles king, president, ceo, prime minister, owner, boss, priest, pastor, mayor, senator, governor, … of nothing. The title seems worthless if that is the case. The purpose and the point of it all goes out the window.

This morning’s reading comes from 2 Chronicles 13-17, Psalm 78. We hear a speech today about when people replaced God with idols, removed all the people with real titles and for the right place gave those titles to others which had no real value. One group seemed to give up on the real, the valuable, the dependable, the mighty, the merciful, the grace filled God. The other decided to stick with God.

Is what you are pursing worth it? Is what you are holding onto worth something? Is your title a title or is it a calling? Are you pursuing the greater purpose that you were created for? Don’t allow yourself to be robbed but rather grab onto the real value and the real purpose that you were created to accomplish. Chase after your calling with passion. Hold onto the truth of what God is doing in and through you. Don’t allow the applause of people distract or drown the hope and the truth that comes from following God’s will for your life.

People may try to outsmart you. People may try to trick you. But when you hold on to God and His promises, He will take care of you:

12“Can’t you see the obvious? God is on our side; he’s our leader. And his priests with trumpets are all ready to blow the signal to battle. O Israel—don’t fight against God, the God of your ancestors. You will not win this battle.”
13-18While Abijah was speaking, Jeroboam had sent men around to take them by surprise from the rear: Jeroboam in front of Judah and the ambush behind. When Judah looked back, they saw they were attacked front and back. They prayed desperately to God, the priests blew their trumpets, and the soldiers of Judah shouted their battle cry. At the battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. The army of Israel scattered before Judah; God gave them the victory. Abijah and his troops slaughtered them—500,000 of Israel’s best fighters were killed that day. The army of Israel fell flat on its face—a humiliating defeat. The army of Judah won hands down because they trusted God, the God of their ancestors. — 2 Chronicles
With God on our side, who can be against us. Nothing formed against us will prosper. Nothing is impossible for God. When a problem comes up, God already has the answer. When an issue comes up, God is ready. Nothing will surprise or outsmart God. We see a good example of this when Jesus feeds the multitude of people in John 6. We first see how He poses the problem statement knowing the answer that is to come:
5-6When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do. — John 6
When we try to do it all in our own strength, we see how short we will fall. What we have on its own isn’t enough to meet the need.
7Philip answered, “Two hundred silver pieces wouldn’t be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece.”
8-9One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.” — John 6
But with God in the center of it, all things are possible:
10-11Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted.
12-13When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves.
14-15The people realized that God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done. They said, “This is the Prophet for sure, God’s Prophet right here in Galilee!” Jesus saw that in their enthusiasm, they were about to grab him and make him king, so he slipped off and went back up the mountain to be by himself.
John 6

So have faith. Consider what you have. Consider where you have been positioned. Consider your calling. Consider your purpose. Don’t make it worthless, but use it for God so that it is and becomes of great worth.

When you look at what you are doing, how would it be described? Would we read about it as “He did things right in God’s eyes.” Would your heart speak to the truth of why you do what you do? Would your actions speak to the hope and faith you have within you? Are you pointing people back to God by the words you use, the way you work, and the way you lead? Will you get ready? Will you be prepared?

When the next challenge comes your way, where will you turn? how will you respond? what are you going to do? who are you going to turn to? when do numbers really count unless you are counting? why not call out to God?

9-11Zerah the Ethiopian went to war against Asa with an army of a million plus three hundred chariots and got as far as Mareshah. Asa met him there and prepared to fight from the Valley of Zephathah near Mareshah. Then Asa prayed to God, “O God, you aren’t impressed by numbers or intimidated by a show of force once you decide to help: Help us, O God; we have come out to meet this huge army because we trust in you and who you are. Don’t let mere mortals stand against you!”
12-15God defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah; the Ethiopians ran for their lives. Asa and his men chased them as far as Gerar; so many of the Ethiopians were killed that there was no fight left in them—a massacre before God and his troops; Judah carted off loads of plunder. They devastated all the towns around Gerar whose people were helpless, paralyzed by the fear of God, and looted the country. They also attacked herdsmen and brought back a lot of sheep and camels to Jerusalem. — 2 Chronicles 14

Stick with God! — 2 Chronicles 15 — How far are you willing to go?

1-6Then Azariah son of Obed, moved by the Spirit of God, went out to meet Asa. He said, “Listen carefully, Asa, and listen Judah and Benjamin: God will stick with you as long as you stick with him. If you look for him he will let himself be found; but if you leave him he’ll leave you. For a long time Israel didn’t have the real God, nor did they have the help of priest or teacher or book. But when they were in trouble and got serious, and decided to seek God, the God of Israel, God let himself be found. At that time it was a dog-eat-dog world; life was constantly up for grabs—no one, regardless of country, knew what the next day might bring. Nation battered nation, city pummeled city. God let loose every kind of trouble among them.
7“But it’s different with you: Be strong. Take heart. Payday is coming!”
8-9Asa heard the prophecy of Azariah son of Obed, took a deep breath, then rolled up his sleeves, and went to work: He cleaned out the obscene and polluting sacred shrines from the whole country of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim. He spruced up the Altar of God that was in front of The Temple porch. Then he called an assembly for all Judah and Benjamin, including those from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who were living there at the time (for many from Israel had left their homes and joined forces with Asa when they saw that God was on his side).
10-15They all arrived in Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign for a great assembly of worship. From their earlier plunder they offered sacrifices of seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep for the worship. Then they bound themselves in a covenant to seek God, the God of their fathers, wholeheartedly, holding nothing back. And they agreed that anyone who refused to seek God, the God of Israel, should be killed, no matter who it was, young or old, man or woman. They shouted out their promise to God, a joyful sound accompanied with blasts from trumpets and rams’ horns. The whole country felt good about the covenant promise—they had given their promise joyfully from the heart. Anticipating the best, they had sought God—and he showed up, ready to be found. God gave them peace within and without—a most peaceable kingdom!
16-19In his cleanup of the country, Asa went so far as to remove his mother, Queen Maacah, from her throne because she had built a shockingly obscene image of the sex goddess Asherah. Asa tore it down, smashed it, and burned it up in the Kidron Valley. Unfortunately he didn’t get rid of the local sex-and-religion shrines. But he was well-intentioned—his heart was in the right place, loyal to God. All the gold and silver vessels and artifacts that he and his father had consecrated for holy use he installed in The Temple of God. There wasn’t a trace of war up to the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign. — 2 Chronicles 15

Stick with God and see how real value is calculated. Stick with God and discover the benefits.

Go to God first not last. Let him be your first option rather than your last hope. Get His wisdom before moving out rather than just getting down the wrong path and needing to be saved. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Don’t turn your back on God and have to deal with the consequences of your decision. Don’t take out your bad decision on the messenger or as I have said to many, don’t shoot the messenger or you will stop getting messages.

7-9Just after that, Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said, “Because you went for help to the king of Aram and didn’t ask God for help, you’ve lost a victory over the army of the king of Aram. Didn’t the Ethiopians and Libyans come against you with superior forces, completely outclassing you with their chariots and cavalry? But you asked God for help and he gave you the victory. God is always on the alert, constantly on the lookout for people who are totally committed to him. You were foolish to go for human help when you could have had God’s help. Now you’re in trouble—one round of war after another.”
10At that, Asa lost his temper. Angry, he put Hanani in the stocks. At the same time Asa started abusing some of the people. — 2 Chronicles 16

Go to God first! He is your first choice! He knows the answer even before you ask the question. He knows the answer the moment the problem arises.

11-14A full account of Asa is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa came down with a severe case of foot infection. He didn’t ask God for help, but went instead to the doctors. Then Asa died; he died in the forty-first year of his reign. They buried him in a mausoleum that he had built for himself in the City of David. They laid him in a crypt full of aromatic oils and spices. Then they had a huge bonfire in his memory. — 2 Chronicles 16

What are you a seeker of? What are you a follower of? God?

God was on Jehoshaphat’s side because he stuck to the ways of his father Asa’s early years. He didn’t fool around with the popular Baal religion—he was a seeker and follower of the God of his father and was obedient to him; he wasn’t like Israel. And God secured the kingdom under his rule, gave him a firm grip on it. And everyone in Judah showed their appreciation by bringing gifts. Jehoshaphat ended up very rich and much honored. He was single-minded in following God; and he got rid of the local sex-and-religion shrines. — 2 Chronicles 17

What do you use to reach out and teach others? What is your source of truth?

7-9In the third year of his reign he sent his officials—excellent men, every one of them—Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah on a teaching mission to the cities of Judah. They were accompanied by Levites—Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-Adonijah; the priests Elishama and Jehoram were also in the company. They made a circuit of the towns of Judah, teaching the people and using the Book of The Revelation of God as their text. — 2 Chronicles 17

Make sure your focus is on the right thing. It isn’t because we are so worthy, but rather because God is so worthy. It’s isn’t because we are so good, it is because God is so good. Avoid falling into the trap of pride. Pride comes before the fall. Make it all about God so that you have your eyes focused on the right place.

10-12There was a strong sense of the fear of God in all the kingdoms around Judah—they didn’t dare go to war against Jehoshaphat. Some Philistines even brought gifts and a load of silver to Jehoshaphat, and the desert bedouin brought flocks—7,700 rams and 7,700 goats. So Jehoshaphat became stronger by the day, and constructed more and more forts and store-cities—an age of prosperity for Judah! — 2 Chronicles 17

So how do you want your life to be told? Worth it? Worthless? You get to choose, so choose wisely!

Don’t be afraid!


Fear Not, Just Believe!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As a new year dawns…


As I start this new day and consider the last year, all I can say is “Wow!”. There were so many different experiences and feelings. There were so many different responses and changes. There were big changes, happy changes, experiences to share and be open rather than to fear and clam up. There were times to learn and times to prepare. There were times to listen and times to take action. So many changes and God was in them all. He calmed any doubts or fears. He spoke into every question or doubt. He answered when I had questions. He encouraged as I waited.

It started with bad news, but God told me He had my back. He rewarded my behavior and actions better than the company that seemed to turn its back on me. From a previous experience, I knew I had to start it with forgiveness. He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.

Because of God’s love and provision, I was openly sharing how I knew that God was working on something and either things would be fixed and improved or He had something else planned for me. I used it as a testimony of how we don’t have to worry or fear what man can do to us, but rather that we can trust in God and allow the joy that surpasses all understanding to help us get through it all.

I had times of doubt, not in God, but if there was really anyone who cared  or could be trusted. God made it clear that there was by setting divine appointments where people would come in and speak truth, speak care, speak love into the situations.

Then the message about Peter shows up in one of my morning devotionals when get walks on water. As I drive to work I ask God if the company I was working for was the boat and if it was and if I was to get out, that He would grant me wisdom to know which side. I was just about to turn onto the highway after driving over the hill and my phone made it’s texting message that ended up being “get out of the boat“. I knew what that meant. I knew that no matter how things changed at work, my time there was limited and that God was preparing me for the next phase of my career. Since I included the clarity of “which side”, I knew that wasn’t the day, but that night I had to start to prepare. I updated my resume, I updated my LinkedIn profile, and I started to reach out to people who worked at companies where I found jobs of interest and the process began. I went to work each day with the joy of knowing God was with me and that He would never leave me nor forsake me. I knew He was working out a plan for my future and so I did my job the best I could for His Word tells me “work as unto the Lord“, He is the real boss of it all.

Interviews were happening. Preparation was taking place. And then right when I thought I knew which side of the boat, God opened the door with the clear message that He had a different idea. He provided me with every sign, every notice, every encouragement I needed so that I knew which side to get out on. Be it rainbows. Be it songs on the radio. Be it my morning Bible reading. Be it the offer. He knew what He has planned and started so many months earlier and this has been an incredible year and one I wouldn’t want to give up. The valley may be deep and it may not be easy, but when you come out the other side and look back, the things you learn are things you wouldn’t want to give up or give back. What an incredible time it has been in my new role. What an incredible group of people I have been blessed to meet. What an incredible opportunity and challenge faces us. And with God directing my path, I know that even greater things are yet to come.

So today as a new year begins, what do I think? what do I want? what do I think? what do I need? what do I plan? Theses are incredible and powerful questions.

What do I think?

I am blessed by God!

What do I want?

To help share the love of God with my family and friends and those who God will bring across my path.

What do I think?

God, what is it you have for me to do today. No need to worry about tomorrow, today has enough things to keep me busy.

What do I need?

God’s wisdom for every action, every activity, every decision, every moment of every day.

What do I plan?

To have another great year spent with my wife, my kids, and my friends and family trying to love them better and share God’s love with them to a new level. To help those I work with to accomplish even greater things that we could have ever asked for or imagined by the grace of God!

This is the day that the Lord has made, let’s rejoice and be glad in it!

Thank You Jesus!

Love,

Phil


365 Fear Nots: Verse of the Day

Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

1 Peter 2:17 (KJV)

Be of good character and live your life with integrity, treating everyone the same, with dignity. Love your brothers and sisters in Christ and be respectful of authority. Honor and revere the Lord God!

Spurgeon’s Morning Devotional – Day 59 – My Expectation is from God!

5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

Psalm 62:5

"What on earth are you doing?"


What sense does that trigger in your gut? What sense that that trigger in your mind? What is your response? Is it calm? Is it defensive? Does it matter who is asking? What if it is a friend? What if it is your parents? What if it is an adversary? What if it was a loved one?

9-10So Saul took charge: “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” He went ahead and sacrificed the burnt offering. No sooner had he done it than Samuel showed up! Saul greeted him.

11-12Samuel said, “What on earth are you doing?”

Saul answered, “When I saw I was losing my army from under me, and that you hadn’t come when you said you would, and that the Philistines were poised at Micmash, I said, ‘The Philistines are about to come down on me in Gilgal, and I haven’t yet come before God asking for his help.’ So I took things into my own hands, and sacrificed the burnt offering.”

1 Samuel 13:9-12

I know when I reflect on the question, even when I don’t think I am doing something wrong the reflex tends to be defensive. Looking to come up with an explanation, an excuse, a reason for doing what I am getting called out on. How about you?

Does is create a sense of fear? Does it create a sense of accountability? How do you feel? What do you do to keep yourself on the straight and narrow path?

God’s Word speaks to us based on who is our accuser:

So don’t be afraid in any way of those who oppose you. That will show them that they will be destroyed and that you will be saved. That’s what God will do.

Philippians 1:28 (NIrV)

When we stand up to intimidation from the enemy we encourage others and confirm our faith in the gospel of Christ.

God will provide for our needs. So let’s trust Him.

29 So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table, 30 and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived.

2 Kings 25:29-30

If there are things He said He would do, then trust Him and let God be God and you be you. You do your part and let God do His. We don’t want to end up having to deal with the repercussions of going out and doing God’s part to end up getting called out like Saul did and jeopardizing His plan for us.

13-14“That was a fool thing to do,” Samuel said to Saul. “If you had kept the appointment that your God commanded, by now God would have set a firm and lasting foundation under your kingly rule over Israel. As it is, your kingly rule is already falling to pieces. God is out looking for your replacement right now. This time he’ll do the choosing. When he finds him, he’ll appoint him leader of his people. And all because you didn’t keep your appointment with God!”

1 Samuel 13:13-14

So watch your steps. Consider your actions. Be patient. Be persistent. Allow God to be God and take care of the things He has given you control over. Have faith and trust God at His Word!

Be ready! Be vigilant! Be persistent! Be alert!


Get up and put on the full armor of God!

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. 21 So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts. 23 Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. – Ephesians 6:11-24

Where are you focused? What do you pray? How do you pray? Who do you pray for? What do you pray about?

  • Prayer of forgiveness for our sins
  • Prayer for grace: to become more like God, to be transformed into who God wants us to be, to keep us from where we were headed down the wrong path, for assurance of our faith, for comfort, for deliverance from temptation, for help in time of need, and for help in times of trouble, difficulty, and unpleasant situations
  • Pray for your soul? That you will spend eternity with God rather than apart from Him
  • We have been saved by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

God knows what we are in need of before we ask. Out of faith we A.S.K. (Ask, Seek, Knock). As this morning’s devotional from Spurgeon’s puts it:

Your soul has never grown rich in itself; it has always been a pensioner upon the daily bounty of God; and hence your prayers have ascended to heaven for a range of spiritual mercies all but infinite. Your wants were innumerable, and therefore the supplies have been infinitely great, and your prayers have been as varied as the mercies have been countless. Then have you not cause to say, “I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplication”? For as your prayers have been many, so also have been God’s answers to them. He has heard you in the day of trouble, has strengthened you, and helped you, even when you dishonoured him by trembling and doubting at the mercy-seat. Remember this, and let it fill your heart with gratitude to God, who has thus graciously heard your poor weak prayers. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” – Spurgeon’s morning devotional – Day 37

What a powerful statement he closes with: “Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all his benefits”.

So rather than worry…So to be from anxieties…

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

1 Corinthians 7:32-35 (ESV)

Wisdom from 365 Fear Nots: Verse of the Day

Seek wisdom regarding your earthly responsibilities, be careful not to worry or be overly consumed with things of the world. Fewer interests in the world will allow you to place more of your attention on pleasing and worshiping God.