Category Archives: Plans

Will you join forces to accomplish the great plans set up for you?


What if you learned that someone had prepared in advance good work for you? What if you learned that someone has a plan for you and it is good? Where do you go to get advice? Where do you go to get wisdom? Where do you turn to receive discernment?

There is but one person and one place that we should turn! There are many impersonators and illusionists! There are many deceivers and trickers! There is but one who truly knows the future and can help you walk through this life in alignment with the great plans He has for you and that He has set in place in advance for you to accomplish! Don’t turn to the left or the right, turn to Him and ask Him for wisdom for each day!

In Jeremiah from today’s reading from God’s Word we are warned about this…

Do not listen to your false prophets, fortune-tellers, interpreters of dreams, mediums, and sorcerers…

–from Jeremiah 27:9

Today’s devotional closes reminding and warning us that…

As the one who holds the past, present and future in his hands, only God truly knows the future. Much of it is hidden from us. However, there are certain things about your future that God tells you.

–from Day 286: Bible In One Year 2017

So will you turn to God? Will you invite Jesus into your heart? Will you allow the Holy Spirit to be your comforter and your guide through this life?

Rather than trying to go it alone, will you choose to join forces with God to be able to live out and complete the incredible plan and purpose God has for you and your life?


God’s Good Plans for Your Future

Day 286: Bible In One Year 2017

  1. Your future is freedom … Psalm 119:25-32
    • How does he respond to all these difficulties? He prays, ‘Preserve my life according to your word’ (v.25b). He meditates on God’s word (v.27b) and prays, ‘Strengthen me according to your word. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law’ (vv.28b–29).

      Resolve to follow God’s ways in everything, but not out of a sense of obligation or guilt. Choose to run in the path of God’s commands, for he has set your heart free (v.32).

      –from Day 286: Bible In One Year 2017

  2. Your future is secure … 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
    • The gospel message is urgent. The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.

      As far as their short-term future is concerned, Paul writes, ‘We constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfil every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith’ (v.11).

      Do not simply sit around waiting for Jesus to return. God has a ‘good purpose’ for your life. He has called you. He puts ideas into your heart. He works in you both to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:13).

      In all this, Paul prays that the name of Jesus will be glorified: ‘If your life honours the name of Jesus, he will honour you’ (2 Thessalonians 1:12, MSG).

      –from Day 286: Bible In One Year 2017

  3. Your future is hopeful … Jeremiah 27:1-29:23
    • Jeremiah’s prophecies did come true. The people of God did go into exile as he had warned.

      Jeremiah speaks the message from the Lord to his people in exile. He tells them, ‘Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper’ (29:7).

      There is an important principle here. Generally, you should seek the peace and prosperity of the place in which God has put you and pray for it. This includes places where you may work, your local church, your city and your nation.

      There is an expression: ‘Bloom where you’re planted.’ This passage encourages you to make roots even where you feel uncomfortable or isolated (like in exile). Sometimes the place where you find yourself is not where you want to be but if God has led you there, then that place must be fertile ground for God’s work in you to thrive.

      God promises his people that the exile will come to an end: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my gracious promise to bring you back to this place’ (v.10).

      This is the context of the wonderful promises: ‘For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you’ (vv.11–14a).

      God has good plans for you. They are not plans for your failure or defeat. They are plans to ‘prosper you’. They are not average or mediocre plans. They are ‘good, pleasing and perfect’ (Romans 12:2).

      But God will not force his plans on you. He requires your cooperation. If you want his plans to be fulfilled in your life, you need to seek him. He promises that, if you do so, you will be found by him (Jeremiah 29:13–14b). As you spend time with him, you will become like him and he will lead you into the good plans he has for your life.

      –from Day 286: Bible In One Year 2017

Watcha gonna do?


Do you have a plan? Do you have a goal? Do you have a purpose?

Whatcha gonna do?

Finish high school? Learn a trade? Get a college degree? Go to university?

Have you gotten a call? Has God put something into your heart that you are now going to pursue?

Everyone doesn’t find value in the same things. Some find value in what can be acquired or how much money can they make. Some find value in how they can help others and serve in their communities or around the world.

Do you have priorities? Do you realize the impact on the rest of your life because of them?

Think you don’t have priorities? Think again! Where are you spending your time? What do you spend your money on? Seems that is where your priorities are!

Why not seek first God’s kingdom and God’s ways? And then let God help you take care of the other needs of your life?

Achievements people value vary too! Are you looking to achieve something that can be lost, stolen, or destroyed? Are you looking to achieve something that can never be lost, stolen, or destroyed but rather will last forever? Longevity! Eternity! Focus! Calling! Purpose! Plan!

Where are you at today? Do you view each day as starting with “Happy” and ending with “day” and so whatever ends up in the middle makes it today?

Whose promises will you pursue? Where are you going to build your life on? The world’s? God’s?

The world’s which as you can tell from everyday life sways like the waves in the sea based on popular opinion? God’s which never changes and is like the solid rock that can’t be moved!

The Wise and Foolish Builders

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

–from Matthew 7

Whatcha gonna do? Jesus is calling out to you! The devil is speaking lies to you!

What will you value? How will you show value? Whatcha gonna do?

Have you been called to serve in the workplace? Have you been called to serve in the church, in missions, on the field? There is ministry to be had everywhere! They are all important! They are all through one body! They are all for the body of Jesus working together that the world will come to learn the truths and the hope and the love and the purpose of God!

So what goal are you pursuing? What call are you answering? Beyond the job, the career, the title, what is the goal you are pursuing?

Whatcha gonna do? Don’t waste your time and efforts! Don’t waste your life without purpose, meaning, and goals! Don’t waste your life pursuing the wrong goals that will fade and disappear but rather pursue goals that will have purpose and last for all of eternity!

Whatcha gonna do? Why not choose with that free will you have to pursue something meaningful! Why not choose to have meaning, purpose, and goals that will make a difference not only to you but also to your family, friends, and community?

Life is so much more than stuff! So much more than property and possessions! So…

Property and possessions shouldn’t be your goal or purpose, they would be the byproducts of your obedience and purpose of pursuing God and His kingdom and His righteousness! Remember how we are to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…

Teaching about Money and Possessions

19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

22 “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[e] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

–from Matthew 6

Whatcha gonna do? … Why?


 Find Your Purpose in Life

Day 244: Bible In One Year 2017

  1. Pursue righteousness and love … Proverbs 21:17-26
  2. Aim to please God … 2 Corinthians 5:1-10
  3. Rise to Micah’s challenge … Micah 5:1-7:20
    • It is possible to have a wasted soul. God warns, through Micah, against:

      ‘Obscene wealth…

      piled up by cheating and fraud…

      shady deals and shifty scheming…

      No matter how much you get, it will never be enough –

      hollow stomachs, empty hearts.

      No matter how hard you work, you’ll have nothing to show for it –

      bankrupt lives, wasted souls’ (6:10–14, MSG).

      At times, the prophet Micah looks forward (for example, see 7:7–20). At one point he unknowingly prophesies about Jesus (Matthew 2:5–12). He sees a ruler coming from Bethlehem, ‘Whose origins are from of old, from ancient times… And he will be their peace’ (Micah 5:2,5a). He will be known as ‘Peacemaker of the world!’ (v.4b, MSG).

      At other times, the prophet Micah looks back. He looks at all that God has done for his people (see 6:3 onwards). He redeemed them. He led them (v.4). He urged them to ‘remember’ (v.5).

      God is a God of astonishing love and mercy: ‘Mercy is your specialty. That’s what you love most. And compassion is on its way to us. You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing. You’ll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean’ (7:18–19, MSG).

      Through Jesus your past is totally forgiven. Don’t keep looking back with regret. God has ‘hurled all [your] iniquities into the depths of the sea’ (v.19) and there is ‘no fishing’ allowed.

      What will our response be to this amazing grace? Micah presents this challenge: ‘To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’ (6:8c). This threefold challenge gives us the purpose and goal of our lives.

      Act justly

      Justice is very high up on God’s agenda. Injustice causes so much of the world’s suffering today. I have to make this a higher priority in my own life and in our community. We must do more to see that the poor, the marginalised and the voiceless receive justice.

      Love mercy

      God has shown us such mercy. Our response should be to show mercy to others. As Joyce Meyer puts it, ‘People do not need to be pressured to perform perfectly; they need to be loved and accepted.’ We need to bring the message of the gospel of God’s love and mercy to as many as possible, including the prisoners, the homeless, the elderly and the poor.

      Walk humbly with God

      Never see yourself as better, above, or more important than other people. A proud person overestimates their own importance. They cannot laugh at themselves. ‘Don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously’ (v.8c, MSG). We cannot do any of this unless we are walking in a relationship with the Lord.

       

      These three go together. True faith is evidenced by how you live. This is why Paul writes that ‘the things done while in the body’ (2 Corinthians 5:10) really matter. You will be judged by them. They are the evidence of your faith.

      –from Day 244: Bible In One Year 2017


Today’s Bible Reading…

Benefit Enrollment time?


What things go through your mind each time you need to go through the benefit enrollment process? What things do you realize have been impacted by the decisions of men? What things do you realize when you consider the impact of your decision on yourself and your family? What’s most important area to you? What’s just going with the flow? What’s key to your decision? What requires thought or research? How do you know if they are good or not? Do you compare them with the old way? Do you consider how they will continue to impact the future? Do you realize it impacts the providers as much as the consumers? Do you realize that decisions outside of either of your controls has gotten you to where you are today? So what are you going to do?

Have you considered the benefits of having faith in God? Have you considered the benefits of having a relationship with Jesus? Have you considered the benefit of being able to pray anywhere, anytime, and for any need since God is with you? Have you reaped the benefits of your faith? Have you reaped the benefits of your prayers for yourself and for others? Do you realize there are benefits? Have you signed up for them by receiving Jesus as your Lord and Savior?

Do you keep track of your prayers as well as you track your benefits program? Do you keep track of your answered prayers as well as you track the benefits you have used or received? Do you track the little prayers and the big prayers? What is the bar for when you will track them? Have you reviewed that log to realize and build up your faith? I know I have testimonies of God working in my life. I haven’t necessarily logged every prayer but with today’s reading and devotional, I am considering trying to capture every ask and every answer rather than just the big ones to be able to see how many times I pray and how God is faithful and just to answer them. Some may be a Yes, some a No, and others may be to wait, but God always answers. This morning’s reading is challenging me on this. Why would I track things that won’t last for eternity but then not capture the things that build up my faith and can be testimonies to myself, my family, my friends, and others for all of eternity.

Don’t forget the blessings of God! Don’t forget the benefits!

Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits –from Psalm 103:2

It is so easy to do when you consider how busy life can feel, so what will be the best way to capture and remember them all?

Have you considered? Have you studied? Have you read the manual (the Bible)? So that you can understand all of God’s benefits? Have you meditated on the fact that during benefit enrollment it’s not all about what you get but what you may get and how much it will cost you? Do you realize that God’s benefits are priceless? Do you realize that Jesus paid the price? Will you receive it? Will you invite Jesus into your heart? Will you start that personal and intimate relationship with Him? Will you grab hold and live life to the full? Will you take hold of His plan for your life that provides you with a hope and a future?

How will you start your today? …


God’s Benefit Package

Day 238: Bible In One Year 2017

  1. Remember and thank God for all his benefits … Psalm 103:1-12
    • David had clearly faced many troubles in his life: sin, disease and ‘the pit’ (vv.3–4). Yet he, like the apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 1:3), begins with praise for some of God’s benefits.

      Forgiveness

      God forgives all your sins (Psalm 103:3): ‘he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities’ (v.10); ‘as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us’ (v.12).

      Healing

      God ‘heals all your diseases’. One day we will be completely healed. We see signs of this now, when God heals us directly and supernaturally. In addition, God has put in our bodies the immune system, antibodies and the mending process.

      Redemption

      God ‘redeems your life from the pit’ (v.4a). There is no pit so deep that God’s redemption cannot reach.

      Love

      He ‘crowns you with love and compassion’ (v.4b): ‘for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him’ (v.11).

      Satisfaction

      He ‘satisfies your desires with good things’ (v.5a).

      –from Day 238: Bible In One Year 2017

  2. See his benefits even in the midst of suffering … 2 Corinthians 1:1-11
    • He starts the letter with praise – not for the problems but for the positive benefits that have come through them. What are these benefits? How can you and I see the benefits in every difficulty?

      You will be comforted

      ‘The God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles’ (vv.3–4). The word for comfort means to encourage, cheer and come alongside. God is the ‘Father of compassion’ (v.3). He is not aloof from suffering. He comes alongside us and suffers with us. His Holy Spirit is ‘the Comforter’ (John 14:26, AMP).

      You will be a help to others

      If you are in a time of suffering right now it may not seem much comfort – but one day you will bring great comfort to other people: ‘He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us’ (2 Corinthians 1:4, MSG). Those who have faced difficulty in life make the most effective ministers.

      You will be changed

      Hardship ‘produces in you patient endurance’ (v.6). Like gold refined by fire or a vine pruned to produce more fruit, difficulties lead to patience, endurance, steadfastness and perseverance. They lead to character transformation.

      You will not be alone

      Paul writes, ‘Just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort’ (v.7). The word he uses for ‘share’ comes from the Greek word koinonia, which is the word used to describe the closest possible relationship. In times of difficulty we should experience an extraordinary closeness of relationship as we comfort and encourage one another, ‘Your hard times are also our hard times’ (v.7, MSG).

      You will learn to trust God

      When things go well it is easy to become self-reliant. But when everything goes wrong and we reach the end of our tether, we are forced to trust God. As Paul puts it, ‘Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally’ (v.9, MSG).

      You will be rescued

      Paul writes, ‘He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us’ (v.10). As we look back and see that God has delivered us in the past, we can be confident he will deliver us in the future.

      Your prayers will help others

      Prayer is powerful. God really does answer prayer. One of the best ways we can help other people is by praying for them: ‘As you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favour granted us in answer to the prayers of many’ (v.11). When your prayers are answered, God will be glorified.

      –from Day 238: Bible In One Year 2017
       

  3. Don’t let his benefits make you proud … 2 Chronicles 26:1-28:27

Today’s Bible reading for day 238:

  • Devotional
  • Psalms 103:1-12
    • 1Let all that I am praise the Lord;
      with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
      2Let all that I am praise the Lord;
      may I never forget the good things he does for me.
      3He forgives all my sins
      and heals all my diseases.
      4He redeems me from death
      and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
      5He fills my life with good things.
      My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

      6The Lord gives righteousness
      and justice to all who are treated unfairly.

      7He revealed his character to Moses
      and his deeds to the people of Israel.
      8The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
      slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
      9He will not constantly accuse us,
      nor remain angry forever.
      10He does not punish us for all our sins;
      he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
      11For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
      is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
      12He has removed our sins as far from us
      as the east is from the west.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:1-11
    • 1This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.
      I am writing to God’s church in Corinth and to all of his holy people throughout Greece.
      2May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

      God Offers Comfort to All

      3All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 6Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
      8We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. 11And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.
  • 2 Chronicles 26
    • Uzziah Rules in Judah

      1All the people of Judah had crowned Amaziah’s sixteen-year-old son, Uzziah, as king in place of his father. 2After his father’s death, Uzziah rebuilt the town of Elath and restored it to Judah.
      3Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother was Jecoliah from Jerusalem. 4He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his father, Amaziah, had done. 5Uzziah sought God during the days of Zechariah, who taught him to fear God. And as long as the king sought guidance from the Lord, God gave him success.
      6Uzziah declared war on the Philistines and broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh, and Ashdod. Then he built new towns in the Ashdod area and in other parts of Philistia. 7God helped him in his wars against the Philistines, his battles with the Arabs of Gur, 8The Meunites paid annual tribute to him, and his fame spread even to Egypt, for he had become very powerful.
      9Uzziah built fortified towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate, and at the angle in the wall. 10He also constructed forts in the wilderness and dug many water cisterns, because he kept great herds of livestock in the foothills of Judah and on the plains. He was also a man who loved the soil. He had many workers who cared for his farms and vineyards, both on the hillsides and in the fertile valleys.
      11Uzziah had an army of well-trained warriors, ready to march into battle, unit by unit. This army had been mustered and organized by Jeiel, the secretary of the army, and his assistant, Maaseiah. They were under the direction of Hananiah, one of the king’s officials. 12These regiments of mighty warriors were commanded by 2,600 clan leaders. 13The army consisted of 307,500 men, all elite troops. They were prepared to assist the king against any enemy.
      14Uzziah provided the entire army with shields, spears, helmets, coats of mail, bows, and sling stones. 15And he built structures on the walls of Jerusalem, designed by experts to protect those who shot arrows and hurled large stones from the towers and the corners of the wall. His fame spread far and wide, for the Lord gave him marvelous help, and he became very powerful.

      Uzziah’s Sin and Punishment

      16But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall. He sinned against the Lord his God by entering the sanctuary of the Lord’s Temple and personally burning incense on the incense altar. 17Azariah the high priest went in after him with eighty other priests of the Lord, all brave men. 18They confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is the work of the priests alone, the descendants of Aaron who are set apart for this work. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have sinned. The Lord God will not honor you for this!”
      19Uzziah, who was holding an incense burner, became furious. But as he was standing there raging at the priests before the incense altar in the Lord’s Temple, leprosy suddenly broke out on his forehead. 20When Azariah the high priest and all the other priests saw the leprosy, they rushed him out. And the king himself was eager to get out because the Lord had struck him. 21So King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in isolation in a separate house, for he was excluded from the Temple of the Lord. His son Jotham was put in charge of the royal palace, and he governed the people of the land.
      22The rest of the events of Uzziah’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded by the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 23When Uzziah died, he was buried with his ancestors; his grave was in a nearby burial field belonging to the kings, for the people said, “He had leprosy.” And his son Jotham became the next king.
  • 2 Chronicles 27
    • Jotham Rules in Judah

      1Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. His mother was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok.
      2Jotham did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight. He did everything his father, Uzziah, had done, except that Jotham did not sin by entering the Temple of the Lord. But the people continued in their corrupt ways.
      3Jotham rebuilt the upper gate of the Temple of the Lord. He also did extensive rebuilding on the wall at the hill of Ophel. 4He built towns in the hill country of Judah and constructed fortresses and towers in the wooded areas. 5Jotham went to war against the Ammonites and conquered them. Over the next three years he received from them an annual tribute of 7,500 pounds of silver, 50,000 bushels of wheat, and 50,000 bushels of barley.
      6King Jotham became powerful because he was careful to live in obedience to the Lord his God.
      7The rest of the events of Jotham’s reign, including all his wars and other activities, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. 8He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. 9When Jotham died, he was buried in the City of David. And his son Ahaz became the next king.
  • 2 Chronicles 28
    • Ahaz Rules in Judah

      1Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. He did not do what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord, as his ancestor David had done. 2Instead, he followed the example of the kings of Israel. He cast metal images for the worship of Baal. 3He offered sacrifices in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, even sacrificing his own sons in the fire. In this way, he followed the detestable practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. 4He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the pagan shrines and on the hills and under every green tree.
      5Because of all this, the Lord his God allowed the king of Aram to defeat Ahaz and to exile large numbers of his people to Damascus. The armies of the king of Israel also defeated Ahaz and inflicted many casualties on his army. 6In a single day Pekah son of Remaliah, Israel’s king, killed 120,000 of Judah’s troops, all of them experienced warriors, because they had abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 7Then Zicri, a warrior from Ephraim, killed Maaseiah, the king’s son; Azrikam, the king’s palace commander; and Elkanah, the king’s second-in-command. 8The armies of Israel captured 200,000 women and children from Judah and seized tremendous amounts of plunder, which they took back to Samaria.
      9But a prophet of the Lord named Oded was there in Samaria when the army of Israel returned home. He went out to meet them and said, “The Lord, the God of your ancestors, was angry with Judah and let you defeat them. But you have gone too far, killing them without mercy, and all heaven is disturbed. 10And now you are planning to make slaves of these people from Judah and Jerusalem. What about your own sins against the Lord your God? 11Listen to me and return these prisoners you have taken, for they are your own relatives. Watch out, because now the Lord’s fierce anger has been turned against you!”
      12Then some of the leaders of Israel—Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berekiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai—agreed with this and confronted the men returning from battle. 13“You must not bring the prisoners here!” they declared. “We cannot afford to add to our sins and guilt. Our guilt is already great, and the Lord’s fierce anger is already turned against Israel.”
      14So the warriors released the prisoners and handed over the plunder in the sight of the leaders and all the people. 15Then the four men just mentioned by name came forward and distributed clothes from the plunder to the prisoners who were naked. They provided clothing and sandals to wear, gave them enough food and drink, and dressed their wounds with olive oil. They put those who were weak on donkeys and took all the prisoners back to their own people in Jericho, the city of palms. Then they returned to Samaria.

      Ahaz Closes the Temple

      16At that time King Ahaz of Judah asked the king of Assyria for help. 17The armies of Edom had again invaded Judah and taken captives. 18And the Philistines had raided towns located in the foothills of Judah and in the Negev of Judah. They had already captured and occupied Beth-shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, Soco with its villages, Timnah with its villages, and Gimzo with its villages. 19The Lord was humbling Judah because of King Ahaz of Judah, for he had encouraged his people to sin and had been utterly unfaithful to the Lord.
      20So when King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria arrived, he attacked Ahaz instead of helping him. 21Ahaz took valuable items from the Lord’s Temple, the royal palace, and from the homes of his officials and gave them to the king of Assyria as tribute. But this did not help him.
      22Even during this time of trouble, King Ahaz continued to reject the Lord23He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him, for he said, “Since these gods helped the kings of Aram, they will help me, too, if I sacrifice to them.” But instead, they led to his ruin and the ruin of all Judah.
      24The king took the various articles from the Temple of God and broke them into pieces. He shut the doors of the Lord’s Temple so that no one could worship there, and he set up altars to pagan gods in every corner of Jerusalem. 25He made pagan shrines in all the towns of Judah for offering sacrifices to other gods. In this way, he aroused the anger of the Lord, the God of his ancestors.
      26The rest of the events of Ahaz’s reign and everything he did, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 27When Ahaz died, he was buried in Jerusalem but not in the royal cemetery of the kings of Judah. Then his son Hezekiah became the next king.

 

What needs to be done to be ready for the year ahead?


Last day before work starts up. New year underway. What needs to be planned for? What needs to be prepared for? What do you need to be ready for? It’s go time! No more waiting! No more delay! No more sitting on the sidelines! It’s go time! It’s time to get fit! It’s time to get healthy! It’s time to set a plan! It’s time to get the projects itemized and aligned! It’s time to set schedules! It’s time to define rules! It’s time to make a difference! Let’s be ready!

So let’s praise God for what He has done! Let’s praise God what He is doing! Let’s praise God for what He is about to do! Let’s praise God for the favor He has provided! Let’s praise God fro the courage He has provided! And with this let’s complete the work He has given us to do!

Do you see the people God has brought around you? Do you see how God has brought you people who have been gifted to help in the work ahead of you? Do you see how God provided people who can provide wisdom and discernment? Do you see how God provided people who can provide expertise and skills to get it done? Do you see how God provided people who were gifted with talents that will help you get the work done? Appreciate them! Thank God for them! Come together in unity to complete the work has prepared in advance for you to do!

Ever been so aware of something ahead that when you look at different parts you see them coming together at the same time? 8 days left in my annual bible reading. The end of this coincides with the scheduled week of prayer and fasting. So what’s next? Building my relationship up with God as that is step 1 in receiving clarity in my heart! What things need to be accomplished — work, camp, travel, blessings, teach, raise, … God’s never early, and never late, God’s timing is perfect!

So let’s continue to prepare! Let’s hear God’s Word and be doers of God’s Word! Faith without actions is dead!

Let’s close together today with today’s reading from the New Testament!

Warning against Prejudice

1My friends, as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, you must never treat people in different ways according to their outward appearance. 2Suppose a rich man wearing a gold ring and fine clothes comes to your meeting, and a poor man in ragged clothes also comes. 3If you show more respect to the well-dressed man and say to him, “Have this best seat here,” but say to the poor man, “Stand over there, or sit here on the floor by my feet,” 4then you are guilty of creating distinctions among yourselves and of making judgments based on evil motives.
5Listen, my dear friends! God chose the poor people of this world to be rich in faith and to possess the kingdom which he promised to those who love him. 6But you dishonor the poor! Who are the ones who oppress you and drag you before the judges? The rich! 7They are the ones who speak evil of that good name which has been given to you.
8 You will be doing the right thing if you obey the law of the Kingdom, which is found in the scripture, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” 9But if you treat people according to their outward appearance, you are guilty of sin, and the Law condemns you as a lawbreaker. 10Whoever breaks one commandment is guilty of breaking them all. 11 For the same one who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Even if you do not commit adultery, you have become a lawbreaker if you commit murder. 12Speak and act as people who will be judged by the law that sets us free. 13For God will not show mercy when he judges the person who has not been merciful; but mercy triumphs over judgment.

Faith and Actions

14My friends, what good is it for one of you to say that you have faith if your actions do not prove it? Can that faith save you? 15Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don’t have enough to eat. 16What good is there in your saying to them, “God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!”—if you don’t give them the necessities of life? 17So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead.
18But someone will say, “One person has faith, another has actions.” My answer is, “Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions.” 19Do you believe that there is only one God? Good! The demons also believe—and tremble with fear. 20You fool! Do you want to be shown that faith without actions is useless? 21 How was our ancestor Abraham put right with God? It was through his actions, when he offered his son Isaac on the altar. 22Can’t you see? His faith and his actions worked together; his faith was made perfect through his actions. 23 And the scripture came true that said, “Abraham believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous.” And so Abraham was called God’s friend. 24You see, then, that it is by our actions that we are put right with God, and not by our faith alone.
25 It was the same with the prostitute Rahab. She was put right with God through her actions, by welcoming the Israelite spies and helping them to escape by a different road.
26So then, as the body without the spirit is dead, also faith without actions is dead.

–James 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Today's Reading: Ezra 7, Ezra 8, James 2

What have you set up? How are you prepared? What’s your intentions?


Happy New Year everyone! 2017 has now begun after that extra second that took place new year’s eve. So are you ready? What have you done to get setup? What have you done to be prepared? And how will that lead your steps going into the new year? Will it set you up for great success and blessings because you are seeking clarity and a relationship with God? Will it set you up to get tripped up because of the intentions of your heart? It does make a difference! If you have done something it will either help or hinder you! If you have done nothing it is providing an opening or an advantage to the other side! So will you make a plan? Will you get prepared? Will you start to walk it out? This is the day that the Lord has made, so let’s rejoice and be glad in it! Let’s get started now!

Looking and comparing ourselves to what we will find in today’s reading, would you say that you have prepared like Esther? or prepared like Haman? It matters and the outcome will be based on how you prepared!

Esther received the message from Mordecai. Esther who took the call of God! Esther who got people to pray and fast with her for 3 days before approaching the king! Esther who asked the king and Haman to come to banquets she would put on! Esther who shared Haman’s plans with the king.

vs

Haman who walked in a life of hate for Mordecai and then extended it towards the Jewish people. Haman who out of this anger got the kings to pass a law that the Jews were to be killed. Haman who out of pride thought the king was asking about how to celebrate him and then gave a grandiose idea which backfired when it was to Mordecai that the king looking to honor and caused Haman to walk him around the town. Haman shared the frustration with his family and they got him to build gallows that he was hoping would be used on Haman.

They both had plans! They both had intentions! They both were prepared! But the outcomes were different because one aligned with God and the other was against God!

Let’s read thru today’s reading together rather than just the last chapter so we can see how this played out after the first banquet, the honoring of Mordecai, the gallows were built…

1And so the king and Haman went to eat with Esther 2for a second time. Over the wine the king asked her again, “Now, Queen Esther, what do you want? Tell me and you shall have it. I’ll even give you half the empire.”
3Queen Esther answered, “If it please Your Majesty to grant my humble request, my wish is that I may live and that my people may live. 4My people and I have been sold for slaughter. If it were nothing more serious than being sold into slavery, I would have kept quiet and not bothered you about it; but we are about to be destroyed—exterminated!”
5Then King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who dares to do such a thing? Where is this man?”
6Esther answered, “Our enemy, our persecutor, is this evil man Haman!”
Haman faced the king and queen with terror. 7The king got up in a fury, left the room, and went outside to the palace gardens. Haman could see that the king was determined to punish him for this, so he stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life. 8He had just thrown himself down on Esther’s couch to beg for mercy, when the king came back into the room from the gardens. Seeing this, the king cried out, “Is this man going to rape the queen right here in front of me, in my own palace?”
The king had no sooner said this than the eunuchs covered Haman’s head. 9Then one of them, who was named Harbonah, said, “Haman even went so far as to build a gallows at his house so that he could hang Mordecai, who saved Your Majesty’s life. And it’s seventy-five feet tall!”
“Hang Haman on it!” the king commanded.
10So Haman was hanged on the gallows that he had built for Mordecai. Then the king’s anger cooled down.

–Esther 7

 

The Jews Are Told to Fight Back

1That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther all the property of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. Esther told the king that Mordecai was related to her, and from then on Mordecai was allowed to enter the king’s presence. 2The king took off his ring with his seal on it (which he had taken back from Haman) and gave it to Mordecai. Esther put Mordecai in charge of Haman’s property.
3Then Esther spoke to the king again, throwing herself at his feet and crying. She begged him to do something to stop the evil plot that Haman, the descendant of Agag, had made against the Jews. 4The king held out the gold scepter to her, so she stood up and said, 5“If it please Your Majesty, and if you care about me and if it seems right to you, please issue a proclamation to keep Haman’s orders from being carried out—those orders that the son of Hammedatha the descendant of Agag gave for the destruction of all the Jews in the empire. 6How can I endure it if this disaster comes on my people, and my own relatives are killed?”
7King Xerxes then said to Queen Esther and Mordecai, the Jew, “Look, I have hanged Haman for his plot against the Jews, and I have given Esther his property. 8But a proclamation issued in the king’s name and stamped with the royal seal cannot be revoked. You may, however, write to the Jews whatever you like; and you may write it in my name and stamp it with the royal seal.”
9This happened on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan. Mordecai called the king’s secretaries and dictated letters to the Jews and to the governors, administrators, and officials of all the 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia. The letters were written to each province in its own language and system of writing and to the Jews in their language and system of writing. 10Mordecai had the letters written in the name of King Xerxes, and he stamped them with the royal seal. They were delivered by riders mounted on fast horses from the royal stables.
11These letters explained that the king would allow the Jews in every city to organize for self-defense. If armed men of any nationality in any province attacked the Jewish men, their children, or their women, the Jews could fight back and destroy the attackers; they could slaughter them to the last man and take their possessions. 12This decree was to take effect throughout the Persian Empire on the day set for the slaughter of the Jews, the thirteenth of Adar, the twelfth month. 13It was to be proclaimed as law and made known to everyone in every province, so that the Jews would be ready to take revenge on their enemies when that day came. 14At the king’s command the riders mounted royal horses and rode off at top speed. The decree was also made public in Susa, the capital city.
15Mordecai left the palace, wearing royal robes of blue and white, a cloak of fine purple linen, and a magnificent gold crown. Then the streets of Susa rang with cheers and joyful shouts. 16For the Jews there was joy and relief, happiness and a sense of victory. 17In every city and province, wherever the king’s proclamation was read, the Jews held a joyful holiday with feasting and happiness. In fact, many other people became Jews, because they were afraid of them now.

–Esther 8

 

The Jews Destroy Their Enemies

1The thirteenth day of Adar came, the day on which the royal proclamation was to take effect, the day when the enemies of the Jews were hoping to get them in their power. But instead, the Jews triumphed over them. 2In the Jewish quarter of every city in the empire the Jews organized to attack anyone who tried to harm them. People everywhere were afraid of them, and no one could stand against them. 3In fact, all the provincial officials—governors, administrators, and royal representatives—helped the Jews because they were all afraid of Mordecai. 4It was well-known throughout the empire that Mordecai was now a powerful man in the palace and was growing more powerful. 5So the Jews could do what they wanted with their enemies. They attacked them with swords and slaughtered them.
6In Susa, the capital city itself, the Jews killed five hundred people. 7-10Among them were the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews: Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha. However, there was no looting.
11That same day the number of people killed in Susa was reported to the king. 12He then said to Queen Esther, “In Susa alone the Jews have killed five hundred people, including Haman’s ten sons. What must they have done out in the provinces! What do you want now? You shall have it. Tell me what else you want, and you shall have it.”
13Esther answered, “If it please Your Majesty, let the Jews in Susa do again tomorrow what they were allowed to do today. And have the bodies of Haman’s ten sons hung from the gallows.” 14The king ordered this to be done, and the proclamation was issued in Susa. The bodies of Haman’s ten sons were publicly displayed. 15On the fourteenth day of Adar the Jews of Susa got together again and killed three hundred more people in the city. But again, they did no looting.
16The Jews in the provinces also organized and defended themselves. They rid themselves of their enemies by killing seventy-five thousand people who hated them. But they did no looting. 17This was on the thirteenth day of Adar. On the next day, the fourteenth, there was no more killing, and they made it a joyful day of feasting. 18The Jews of Susa, however, made the fifteenth a holiday, since they had slaughtered their enemies on the thirteenth and fourteenth and then stopped on the fifteenth. 19This is why Jews who live in small towns observe the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a joyous holiday, a time for feasting and giving gifts of food to one another.

The Festival of Purim

20Mordecai had these events written down and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, throughout the Persian Empire, 21telling them to observe the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar as holidays every year. 22These were the days on which the Jews had rid themselves of their enemies; this was a month that had been turned from a time of grief and despair into a time of joy and happiness. They were told to observe these days with feasts and parties, giving gifts of food to one another and to the poor. 23So the Jews followed Mordecai’s instructions, and the celebration became an annual custom.
24 Haman son of Hammedatha—the descendant of Agag and the enemy of the Jewish people—had cast lots (“purim,” they were called) to determine the day for destroying the Jews; he had planned to wipe them out. 25But Esther went to the king, and the king issued written orders with the result that Haman suffered the fate he had planned for the Jews—he and his sons were hanged from the gallows. 26That is why the holidays are called Purim. Because of Mordecai’s letter and because of all that had happened to them, 27the Jews made it a rule for themselves, their descendants, and anyone who might become a Jew, that at the proper time each year these two days would be regularly observed according to Mordecai’s instructions. 28It was resolved that every Jewish family of every future generation in every province and every city should remember and observe the days of Purim for all time to come.
29Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai, also wrote a letter, putting her full authority behind the letter about Purim, which Mordecai had written earlier. 30The letter was addressed to all the Jews, and copies were sent to all the 127 provinces of the Persian Empire. It wished the Jews peace and security 31and directed them and their descendants to observe the days of Purim at the proper time, just as they had adopted rules for the observance of fasts and times of mourning. This was commanded by both Mordecai and Queen Esther. 32Esther’s command, confirming the rules for Purim, was written down on a scroll.

–Esther 9

 

The Greatness of Xerxes and Mordecai

1King Xerxes imposed forced labor on the people of the coastal regions of his empire as well as on those of the interior. 2All the great and wonderful things he did, as well as the whole story of how he promoted Mordecai to high office, are recorded in the official records of the kings of Persia and Media. 3Mordecai the Jew was second in rank only to King Xerxes himself. He was honored and well-liked by his fellow Jews. He worked for the good of his people and for the security of all their descendants.

–Esther 10

Let’s close today’s reading with a word from the New Testament…Let’s me more than just hearers of the word but let’s be doers of the word!

1 From James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Greetings to all God’s people scattered over the whole world.

Faith and Wisdom

2 My friends, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, 3for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. 4Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all. 6But when you pray, you must believe and not doubt at all. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and blown about by the wind. 7-8If you are like that, unable to make up your mind and undecided in all you do, you must not think that you will receive anything from the Lord.

Poverty and Riches

9Those Christians who are poor must be glad when God lifts them up, 10 and the rich Christians must be glad when God brings them down. For the rich will pass away like the flower of a wild plant. 11The sun rises with its blazing heat and burns the plant; its flower falls off, and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way the rich will be destroyed while they go about their business.

Testing and Tempting

12Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because when they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love him. 13 If we are tempted by such trials, we must not say, “This temptation comes from God.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14But we are tempted when we are drawn away and trapped by our own evil desires. 15Then our evil desires conceive and give birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
16Do not be deceived, my dear friends! 17Every good gift and every perfect present comes from heaven; it comes down from God, the Creator of the heavenly lights, who does not change or cause darkness by turning. 18By his own will he brought us into being through the word of truth, so that we should have first place among all his creatures.

Hearing and Doing

19 Remember this, my dear friends! Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry. 20Human anger does not achieve God’s righteous purpose. 21So get rid of every filthy habit and all wicked conduct. Submit to God and accept the word that he plants in your hearts, which is able to save you.
22Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to his word; instead, put it into practice. 23If you listen to the word, but do not put it into practice you are like people who look in a mirror and see themselves as they are. 24They take a good look at themselves and then go away and at once forget what they look like. 25But if you look closely into the perfect law that sets people free, and keep on paying attention to it and do not simply listen and then forget it, but put it into practice—you will be blessed by God in what you do.
26Do any of you think you are religious? If you do not control your tongue, your religion is worthless and you deceive yourself. 27What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world.

–James 1

 


Today's Reading: Esther 7, Esther 8, Esther 9, Esther 10, James 1