How committed are you?


Will you stay behind or stick with it? Will you tap out or stick with it? Will you give up or stick with it? Will you submit or stick with it? Will you press on? Will you persevere? Will you stick with it even if it is getting hard? Will you stick with it even if the outcome will be hard? Are you fully committed?

Are you committed to the relationship? Are you committed to the process? Are you committed to the team? Are you committed to the outcome? How committed are you?

What is your motivation? Is it true and pure? Will you live your life to do good? Are you committed?


Today’s reading from the Bible gets us started with 2 Kings 2:

‘When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were traveling from Gilgal. And Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has told me to go to Bethel.” But Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you!” So they went down together to Bethel. The group of prophets from Bethel came to Elisha and asked him, “Did you know that the Lord is going to take your master away from you today?” “Of course I know,” Elisha answered. “But be quiet about it.” Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has told me to go to Jericho.” But Elisha replied again, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you.” So they went on together to Jericho. Then the group of prophets from Jericho came to Elisha and asked him, “Did you know that the Lord is going to take your master away from you today?” “Of course I know,” Elisha answered. “But be quiet about it.” Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has told me to go to the Jordan River.” But again Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you.” So they went on together. Fifty men from the group of prophets also went and watched from a distance as Elijah and Elisha stopped beside the Jordan River. Then Elijah folded his cloak together and struck the water with it. The river divided, and the two of them went across on dry ground! When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away.” And Elisha replied, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor.” “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah replied. “If you see me when I am taken from you, then you will get your request. But if not, then you won’t.” As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!” And as they disappeared from sight, Elisha tore his clothes in distress. Elisha picked up Elijah’s cloak, which had fallen when he was taken up. Then Elisha returned to the bank of the Jordan River. He struck the water with Elijah’s cloak and cried out, “Where is the Lord , the God of Elijah?” Then the river divided, and Elisha went across. When the group of prophets from Jericho saw from a distance what happened, they exclaimed, “Elijah’s spirit rests upon Elisha!” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. “Sir,” they said, “just say the word and fifty of our strongest men will search the wilderness for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has left him on some mountain or in some valley.” “No,” Elisha said, “don’t send them.” But they kept urging him until they shamed him into agreeing, and he finally said, “All right, send them.” So fifty men searched for three days but did not find Elijah. Elisha was still at Jericho when they returned. “Didn’t I tell you not to go?” he asked. One day the leaders of the town of Jericho visited Elisha. “We have a problem, my lord,” they told him. “This town is located in pleasant surroundings, as you can see. But the water is bad, and the land is unproductive.” Elisha said, “Bring me a new bowl with salt in it.” So they brought it to him. Then he went out to the spring that supplied the town with water and threw the salt into it. And he said, “This is what the Lord says: I have purified this water. It will no longer cause death or infertility. ” And the water has remained pure ever since, just as Elisha said. Elisha left Jericho and went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, a group of boys from the town began mocking and making fun of him. “Go away, baldy!” they chanted. “Go away, baldy!” Elisha turned around and looked at them, and he cursed them in the name of the Lord . Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of them. From there Elisha went to Mount Carmel and finally returned to Samaria.’

2 Kings 2

‘Again a message came to me from the Lord : “Son of man, turn and face the mountains of Israel and prophesy against them. Proclaim this message from the Sovereign Lord against the mountains of Israel. This is what the Sovereign Lord says to the mountains and hills and to the ravines and valleys: I am about to bring war upon you, and I will smash your pagan shrines. All your altars will be demolished, and your places of worship will be destroyed. I will kill your people in front of your idols. I will lay your corpses in front of your idols and scatter your bones around your altars. Wherever you live there will be desolation, and I will destroy your pagan shrines. Your altars will be demolished, your idols will be smashed, your places of worship will be torn down, and all the religious objects you have made will be destroyed. The place will be littered with corpses, and you will know that I alone am the Lord . “But I will let a few of my people escape destruction, and they will be scattered among the nations of the world. Then when they are exiled among the nations, they will remember me. They will recognize how hurt I am by their unfaithful hearts and lustful eyes that long for their idols. Then at last they will hate themselves for all their detestable sins. They will know that I alone am the Lord and that I was serious when I said I would bring this calamity on them. “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Clap your hands in horror, and stamp your feet. Cry out because of all the detestable sins the people of Israel have committed. Now they are going to die from war and famine and disease. Disease will strike down those who are far away in exile. War will destroy those who are nearby. And anyone who survives will be killed by famine. So at last I will spend my fury on them. They will know that I am the Lord when their dead lie scattered among their idols and altars on every hill and mountain and under every green tree and every great shade tree—the places where they offered sacrifices to their idols. I will crush them and make their cities desolate from the wilderness in the south to Riblah in the north. Then they will know that I am the Lord .”’

Ezekiel 6

‘Then this message came to me from the Lord : “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says to Israel: “The end is here! Wherever you look— east, west, north, or south— your land is finished. No hope remains, for I will unleash my anger against you. I will call you to account for all your detestable sins. I will turn my eyes away and show no pity. I will repay you for all your detestable sins. Then you will know that I am the Lord . “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Disaster after disaster is coming your way! The end has come. It has finally arrived. Your final doom is waiting! O people of Israel, the day of your destruction is dawning. The time has come; the day of trouble is near. Shouts of anguish will be heard on the mountains, not shouts of joy. Soon I will pour out my fury on you and unleash my anger against you. I will call you to account for all your detestable sins. I will turn my eyes away and show no pity. I will repay you for all your detestable sins. Then you will know that it is I, the Lord , who is striking the blow. “The day of judgment is here; your destruction awaits! The people’s wickedness and pride have blossomed to full flower. Their violence has grown into a rod that will beat them for their wickedness. None of these proud and wicked people will survive. All their wealth and prestige will be swept away. Yes, the time has come; the day is here! Buyers should not rejoice over bargains, nor sellers grieve over losses, for all of them will fall under my terrible anger. Even if the merchants survive, they will never return to their business. For what God has said applies to everyone— it will not be changed! Not one person whose life is twisted by sin will ever recover. “The trumpet calls Israel’s army to mobilize, but no one listens, for my fury is against them all. There is war outside the city and disease and famine within. Those outside the city walls will be killed by enemy swords. Those inside the city will die of famine and disease. The survivors who escape to the mountains will moan like doves, weeping for their sins. Their hands will hang limp, their knees will be weak as water. They will dress themselves in burlap; horror and shame will cover them. They will shave their heads in sorrow and remorse. “They will throw their money in the streets, tossing it out like worthless trash. Their silver and gold won’t save them on that day of the Lord ’s anger. It will neither satisfy nor feed them, for their greed can only trip them up. They were proud of their beautiful jewelry and used it to make detestable idols and vile images. Therefore, I will make all their wealth disgusting to them. I will give it as plunder to foreigners, to the most wicked of nations, and they will defile it. I will turn my eyes from them as these robbers invade and defile my treasured land. “Prepare chains for my people, for the land is bloodied by terrible crimes. Jerusalem is filled with violence. I will bring the most ruthless of nations to occupy their homes. I will break down their proud fortresses and defile their sanctuaries. Terror and trembling will overcome my people. They will look for peace but not find it. Calamity will follow calamity; rumor will follow rumor. They will look in vain for a vision from the prophets. They will receive no teaching from the priests and no counsel from the leaders. The king and the prince will stand helpless, weeping in despair, and the people’s hands will tremble with fear. I will bring on them the evil they have done to others, and they will receive the punishment they so richly deserve. Then they will know that I am the Lord .”’

Ezekiel 7

‘Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee, after John began preaching his message of baptism. And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. “And we apostles are witnesses of all he did throughout Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him to life on the third day. Then God allowed him to appear, not to the general public, but to us whom God had chosen in advance to be his witnesses. We were those who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead. He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.” Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. For they heard them speaking in other tongues and praising God. Then Peter asked, “Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?” So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterward Cornelius asked him to stay with them for several days.’

Acts 10:34-48

‘This letter is from John, the elder. I am writing to Gaius, my dear friend, whom I love in the truth. Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. Some of the traveling teachers recently returned and made me very happy by telling me about your faithfulness and that you are living according to the truth. I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth. Dear friend, you are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church here of your loving friendship. Please continue providing for such teachers in a manner that pleases God. For they are traveling for the Lord, and they accept nothing from people who are not believers. So we ourselves should support them so that we can be their partners as they teach the truth. I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us. When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church. Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God. Everyone speaks highly of Demetrius, as does the truth itself. We ourselves can say the same for him, and you know we speak the truth. I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to write it with pen and ink. For I hope to see you soon, and then we will talk face to face. Peace be with you. Your friends here send you their greetings. Please give my personal greetings to each of our friends there.’

3 John 1

‘O God, whom I praise, don’t stand silent and aloof while the wicked slander me and tell lies about me. They surround me with hateful words and fight against me for no reason. I love them, but they try to destroy me with accusations even as I am praying for them! They repay evil for good, and hatred for my love. They say, “Get an evil person to turn against him. Send an accuser to bring him to trial. When his case comes up for judgment, let him be pronounced guilty. Count his prayers as sins. Let his years be few; let someone else take his position. May his children become fatherless, and his wife a widow. May his children wander as beggars and be driven from their ruined homes. May creditors seize his entire estate, and strangers take all he has earned. Let no one be kind to him; let no one pity his fatherless children. May all his offspring die. May his family name be blotted out in the next generation. May the Lord never forget the sins of his fathers; may his mother’s sins never be erased from the record. May the Lord always remember these sins, and may his name disappear from human memory. For he refused all kindness to others; he persecuted the poor and needy, and he hounded the brokenhearted to death. He loved to curse others; now you curse him. He never blessed others; now don’t you bless him. Cursing is as natural to him as his clothing, or the water he drinks, or the rich food he eats. Now may his curses return and cling to him like clothing; may they be tied around him like a belt.” May those curses become the Lord ’s punishment for my accusers who speak evil of me. But deal well with me, O Sovereign Lord , for the sake of your own reputation! Rescue me because you are so faithful and good. For I am poor and needy, and my heart is full of pain. I am fading like a shadow at dusk; I am brushed off like a locust. My knees are weak from fasting, and I am skin and bones. I am a joke to people everywhere; when they see me, they shake their heads in scorn. Help me, O Lord my God! Save me because of your unfailing love. Let them see that this is your doing, that you yourself have done it, Lord . Then let them curse me if they like, but you will bless me! When they attack me, they will be disgraced! But I, your servant, will go right on rejoicing! May my accusers be clothed with disgrace; may their humiliation cover them like a cloak. But I will give repeated thanks to the Lord , praising him to everyone. For he stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them.’

Psalms 109

What if the question was are you committed to God? Have you received the free gift being offered through Jesus Christ? Are you committed to spend eternity with God rather than apart from Him? Why not take a step today and invite Him in?

Are you committed? Leave me a comment.

Did you pray the prayer? Leave me a comment so that I can pray with you.

Do you have questions/ Leave me a comment so that we can discuss.

Are you ready? Are you setup? Are you prepared?


So what is the first step in your preparation process? What needs to be in place for you to get started? What if it was as simple as getting ready for dinner? What if it was a bit more and including guests coming over? What if it was getting ready for a new employee? What if it was getting ready for a new job? What if it was getting ready to lead? What if it was getting ready to train and teach?

Are you ready? If not, what is it going to take?

Are you setup? If not, what is missing and needing to get done?

Are you prepared? If not, what will you need to do?


Today’s reading begins in Numbers 5.

‘The Lord gave these instructions to Moses: “Command the people of Israel to remove from the camp anyone who has a skin disease or a discharge, or who has become ceremonially unclean by touching a dead person. This command applies to men and women alike. Remove them so they will not defile the camp in which I live among them.” So the Israelites did as the Lord had commanded Moses and removed such people from the camp. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: If any of the people—men or women—betray the Lord by doing wrong to another person, they are guilty. They must confess their sin and make full restitution for what they have done, adding an additional 20 percent and returning it to the person who was wronged. But if the person who was wronged is dead, and there are no near relatives to whom restitution can be made, the payment belongs to the Lord and must be given to the priest. Those who are guilty must also bring a ram as a sacrifice, and they will be purified and made right with the Lord . All the sacred offerings that the Israelites bring to a priest will belong to him. Each priest may keep all the sacred donations that he receives.”

And the Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. “Suppose a man’s wife goes astray, and she is unfaithful to her husband and has sex with another man, but neither her husband nor anyone else knows about it. She has defiled herself, even though there was no witness and she was not caught in the act. If her husband becomes jealous and is suspicious of his wife and needs to know whether or not she has defiled herself, the husband must bring his wife to the priest. He must also bring an offering of two quarts of barley flour to be presented on her behalf. Do not mix it with olive oil or frankincense, for it is a jealousy offering—an offering to prove whether or not she is guilty. “The priest will then present her to stand trial before the Lord . He must take some holy water in a clay jar and pour into it dust he has taken from the Tabernacle floor. When the priest has presented the woman before the Lord , he must unbind her hair and place in her hands the offering of proof—the jealousy offering to determine whether her husband’s suspicions are justified. The priest will stand before her, holding the jar of bitter water that brings a curse to those who are guilty. The priest will then put the woman under oath and say to her, ‘If no other man has had sex with you, and you have not gone astray and defiled yourself while under your husband’s authority, may you be immune from the effects of this bitter water that brings on the curse. But if you have gone astray by being unfaithful to your husband, and have defiled yourself by having sex with another man—’ “At this point the priest must put the woman under oath by saying, ‘May the people know that the Lord ’s curse is upon you when he makes you infertile, causing your womb to shrivel and your abdomen to swell. Now may this water that brings the curse enter your body and cause your abdomen to swell and your womb to shrivel. ’ And the woman will be required to say, ‘Yes, let it be so.’ And the priest will write these curses on a piece of leather and wash them off into the bitter water. He will make the woman drink the bitter water that brings on the curse. When the water enters her body, it will cause bitter suffering if she is guilty. “The priest will take the jealousy offering from the woman’s hand, lift it up before the Lord , and carry it to the altar. He will take a handful of the flour as a token portion and burn it on the altar, and he will require the woman to drink the water. If she has defiled herself by being unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings on the curse will cause bitter suffering. Her abdomen will swell and her womb will shrink, and her name will become a curse among her people. But if she has not defiled herself and is pure, then she will be unharmed and will still be able to have children. “This is the ritual law for dealing with suspicion. If a woman goes astray and defiles herself while under her husband’s authority, or if a man becomes jealous and is suspicious that his wife has been unfaithful, the husband must present his wife before the Lord , and the priest will apply this entire ritual law to her. The husband will be innocent of any guilt in this matter, but his wife will be held accountable for her sin.”’

Numbers 5

Today’s reading takes us into a new book, starting in Ecclesiastes 1

‘These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem.

“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.

I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind. What is wrong cannot be made right. What is missing cannot be recovered. I said to myself, “Look, I am wiser than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. I have greater wisdom and knowledge than any of them.” So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind. The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow.’

Ecclesiastes 1

and continuing into Ecclesiastes 2

‘I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless. So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?” After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world. I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire! So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

So I decided to compare wisdom with foolishness and madness (for who can do this better than I, the king? ). I thought, “Wisdom is better than foolishness, just as light is better than darkness. For the wise can see where they are going, but fools walk in the dark.” Yet I saw that the wise and the foolish share the same fate. Both will die. So I said to myself, “Since I will end up the same as the fool, what’s the value of all my wisdom? This is all so meaningless!” For the wise and the foolish both die. The wise will not be remembered any longer than the fool. In the days to come, both will be forgotten. So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

I came to hate all my hard work here on earth, for I must leave to others everything I have earned. And who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? Yet they will control everything I have gained by my skill and hard work under the sun. How meaningless! So I gave up in despair, questioning the value of all my hard work in this world. Some people work wisely with knowledge and skill, then must leave the fruit of their efforts to someone who hasn’t worked for it. This, too, is meaningless, a great tragedy. So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety? Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless. So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.’

Ecclesiastes 2

Today’s reading next brings us into the New Testament starting with Mark 16 (concluding our reading from Mark)

‘Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.” The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.

———-

[ The most ancient manuscripts of Mark conclude with verse 16:8. Later manuscripts add one or both of the following endings. ]

[ Shorter Ending of Mark ]

Then they briefly reported all this to Peter and his companions. Afterward Jesus himself sent them out from east to west with the sacred and unfailing message of salvation that gives eternal life. Amen.

[ Longer Ending of Mark ]

After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went to the disciples, who were grieving and weeping, and told them what had happened. But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her. Afterward he appeared in a different form to two of his followers who were walking from Jerusalem into the country. They rushed back to tell the others, but no one believed them. Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead. And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.” When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.’

Mark 16

Today’s reading continues into 2 Corinthians 11

‘I hope you will put up with a little more of my foolishness. Please bear with me. For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed. But I don’t consider myself inferior in any way to these “super apostles” who teach such things. I may be unskilled as a speaker, but I’m not lacking in knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every possible way. Was I wrong when I humbled myself and honored you by preaching God’s Good News to you without expecting anything in return? I “robbed” other churches by accepting their contributions so I could serve you at no cost. And when I was with you and didn’t have enough to live on, I did not become a financial burden to anyone. For the brothers who came from Macedonia brought me all that I needed. I have never been a burden to you, and I never will be. As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, no one in all of Greece will ever stop me from boasting about this. Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows that I do. But I will continue doing what I have always done. This will undercut those who are looking for an opportunity to boast that their work is just like ours. These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.’

2 Corinthians 11:1-15

As we consider being ready, as we consider getting prepared, as we consider setting the table, let’s pause and meditate on God’s Word from today and what it is speaking to us and over us.

Today’s reading concludes with today’s psalm from Psalms 98

‘Sing a new song to the Lord , for he has done wonderful deeds. His right hand has won a mighty victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power! The Lord has announced his victory and has revealed his righteousness to every nation! He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel. The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God. Shout to the Lord , all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy! Sing your praise to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and melodious song, with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn. Make a joyful symphony before the Lord , the King! Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the earth and all living things join in. Let the rivers clap their hands in glee! Let the hills sing out their songs of joy before the Lord , for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness.’

Psalms 98

Are you living a life of private purity so that you can live a life with power?


Of late this is an interesting question with a lot of the new reports that are surfacing where people’s private and business lives are being exposed because of the lack of purity. What was hidden is now being revealed and it had to be known it would happen and probably caused them to either thing they were invincible since nothing had happened yet or they were living in fear that one day it may or could or would surface. There is nothing that God doesn’t know. There is nothing that won’t get revealed and receive Justice from God in His timing. And realistically you didn’t have to give into the temptation that is tripping you up or that because of power caused you to give in, God always provides a way out! Why not use the power you have to help them…

8Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
9Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.

–from Proverbs 31

Looking for people that you can stand in the gap for and help? Why not consider how you might be able to help:

  • The poor

    About 20% of the world’s population, 1.2 billion people, live on less than a dollar a day. They go to bed hungry every night. Every four seconds, poverty takes a child’s life. Today, and every day until we act, 22,000 children die of avoidable diseases or because they live in poverty. 5.9 million children under the age of five die every year. Over two-thirds of these early child deaths are due to conditions that could be prevented or treated with access to simple, affordable interventions. They are the ‘poor and destitute’ (v.9, MSG).

  • The enslaved

    It is estimated that human trafficking enslaves around 30 million people around the globe, half of them under the age of eighteen. Slavery is a terrible injustice. ‘Speak up for justice’ (v.9a, MSG).

  • The unborn

    Those in the womb have no voice of their own at all. The journalist, Nigella Lawson, who describes herself as ‘pro-abortion’, has written, ‘If anecdotal evidence is anything to go by (and I suspect it is), [abortion] is becoming more and more a value-free, post-facto alternative to contraception.’ Yet few people have the courage to speak up for the unborn today – who have ‘no voice’ (v.8a, MSG).

  • The prisoners

    Many around the world are in prison unjustly and even those who are in prison justly are often treated inhumanely. But the vast majority are in no position to ‘speak for themselves’ (v.8a).

–from Day 356: Bible In One Year 2018

So what can you do to prevent yourself from getting tripped up? Stick close to God! Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading! Be obedient to God’s direction! We won’t be tempted beyond what we can handle! And when you need that escape hatch look for it and run! Don’t allow sexual sin to get a grasp because it is the one sin that affects the body!

So let’s look to live our private lives with purity! Even at a young age let’s help teach our youth that living with purity may be outside the norms of society but that it is the right way to live lives for the long term! Let’s help them find the pathway to purity!

We need to remember that we will only be tempted by our natural desires and so we need to realize what is happening and resist it! Being tempted isn’t a sin but giving into that temptation can be!

13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. –from James 1

We need to remember that rather than giving in, we should look for a way out!

13No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

— from 1 Corinthians 10

We need to turn to God and His Word when we are being tempted and hold on tight to that! We need to remember the difference between right and wrong and pursue that which is right! Do you have a Bible with you wherever you go? If you have a phone, a tablet, an electronic device, why not install the Bible app (they even have one for little kids) or have a quick shortcut link to the Bible website? Our battle isn’t against flesh and blood and so we need to be using weapons that can fight in this spiritual battle!

4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. –from 2 Corinthians 10

So let’s put our attention and focus on God! Let’s praise Him and worship Him in the midst of the temptation and trials! Let’s cling to Him and not be willing to let go! If you aren’t sure where to go or what to do, why not pick up God’s Psalms or tune in to a worship radio station:

(http://www.klove.com/, http://www.air1.com/, http://www.spirit1053.com/, http://www.praise1065.com/, and there are so many more…)

And when you fail to resist, don’t lose hope, don’t allow the devil to beat you up, don’t give the devil a foothold into your life! Rather, turn back to God quickly and repent! We don’t want to stay in that sin or fall deeper into that pit! We need to get back up and out of it as quickly as possible and back onto God’s path for our lives!

Another great resource is an accountability partner! A christian friend with whom you meet regularly in order to keep each other accountable and from falling off! Making time regularly to meet and talk and share and care for one another! Someone we can be open and honest and transparent with!

Another great thing to keep from falling into temptation is numbers! It is a lot harder for the devil to tempt you into doing something when you aren’t alone! He may be able to sway or trick you if you are alone, but in a group (where 2 or more are gathered in Jesus’ name, He is there) and so makes resisting the temptations easier! Today with so many ways to stay in touch – call, text, whatsapp, skype, etc… even when we are alone, having someone who is there for us to reach out to in a moment of temptation is important too.

So let’s not give the power to the devil by falling into temptations! Let’s pursue purity in order that God’s power can remain with us allowing us to resist the devil in order that He will flee!


Purity and Power

Day 356: Bible In One Year 2018

They represent the completed church worshipping together. The five-fold description is one of complete purity. They:

  • Are redeemed from the earth by the blood of the Lamb (v.3)
  • Have kept themselves pure and undefiled – ‘lived without compromise’ (v.4a, MSG)
  • Follow Jesus wherever he goes (v.4b)
  • Are purchased and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb (v.4c). As St Paul writes, ‘We were bought at a price’ (1 Corinthians 6:20)
  • Are people of integrity: ‘No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless’ (Revelation 14:5).

It is not coincidental that the vision of the pure church is followed by a vision of the proclamationof the eternal gospel: ‘to those who live on the earth – to every nation, tribe, language and people’ (v.6).

This is the calling of the church – to proclaim the good news of Jesus. This is represented by the first angel. The second and third angels show what humanity needs to be rescued from.

Everyone needs to be rescued from the corrupting influence of ‘Babylon the Great’, ‘which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries’ (v.8). They also need to be rescued from ‘the beast’, who wants to put his mark on the forehead (v.11) and see them tormented.

The good news is that no one needs to have this mark on their forehead. We, the people of God, need to proclaim the good news that every person can have the name of Jesus and the Father’s name written on their forehead (v.1). You are called to patient endurance, obedience to God’s commandments and faithfulness to Jesus (v.12).

Get the message out. So many people lack peace. There is ‘no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image’ (v.11). On the other hand, there is no greater blessing than following the Lamb: ‘Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them”’ (v.13).

–from Day 356: Bible In One Year 2018

What will you do with the hard times?


Will they strengthen you? Will they train you? Will they give you wisdom? Will you consider them pure joy because you know they are building in you endurance, perseverance, and moving you forward matured and lacking nothing? Will you take hold of them knowing that you can overcome them? Will you start looking for solutions rather than at the problem(s)? Will you view it as an opportunity rather than a set back? Will you take hold of any setback as a setup for a comeback?

We will all face them! We will all be challenged by them! We will all get to choose how we will walk through them! We will all get to choose how we will respond to them!

So what will you do? How will you respond? What will your perspective be?

Will you see beyond the moment and look towards eternity? Will you be more interested in someone’s eternity than their temporary comfort? Will you look for opportunities to lead them to Jesus than a momentary comfort or healing touch?

Will you allow those hard times to build up your faith and produce great faith?

Will you look and push towards the breakthrough rather than just going through the motions? Will you take in the reality of who is sticking with you and walking through the hard times with you? We were never meant to go through it alone!

Are you prepared? Are you getting ready? We need to remember what Jesus said to us and how He finished the statement…

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

–from John 16:33

Not might but we will have troubles! Not to create fear or doubt or worry did He speak this but to encourage us to be prepared and to be overcomers! So let’s not grow weary in doing good work! Let’s be ready! Let’s be filled up with the power of the Holy Spirit through spending time with God and in His Word (the Bible)! Let’s press forward! Let’s finish the race strong!

Take a look around… Notice others going through tough times? How can you help them? How can you share the love of Jesus into their lives? How can you help them come out the other side better than when they came in? Will you be a difference maker? Will you pay attention to what is being said, how it is said, and what isn’t being said in order to speak truth in love to them and speak life into their very situation?

Today’s devotional speaks about taking care of others, let’s reflect on that before moving forward…

The Bible is a very practical book. Paul gives Timothy sensible and practical instructions on how to look after those in the congregation who are going through hard times.

Take care of the old and young

Paul says that we are to treat those who are older than us with the respect we would show to our parents, and to treat those younger than us as our brothers and sisters (vv.1–2). Someone once observed that many men should have this verse as a screensaver on their computers: ‘Treat younger women as sisters, with absolute purity’ (v.2).

Take care of the needy

For example, the church is to provide for widows who don’t have any family to support them: ‘Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need’ (v.3). Those who do have family should be supported by them if at all possible (v.4).

Take care of your extended family

Paul makes a point that still has great relevance today. Not only do we have a duty to provide for our own spouse and children, but we must also provide for our ‘extended family’, our parents and grandparents: (vv.7–8).

Take care of leaders

Church is also to provide for the leaders ‘who direct the affairs of the church’ (v.17). ‘Those who work deserve their pay!’ (v.18, NLT). Their position of responsibility means that we should not easily entertain a complaint against them: ‘Don’t listen to a complaint against a leader that isn’t backed up by two or three responsible witnesses’ (v.19, MSG). But, at the same time, the consequences of sin are greater for those in a position of leadership (v.20). Paul warns ‘keep a close check on yourself’ (v.21, MSG).

Take care of yourself

Timothy himself clearly had stomach problems and ‘frequent illnesses’ (v.23). Paul does not reproach him for his sickness. Rather, he gives him some practical advice (which may sound strange to our modern ears): ‘Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses’ (v.23).

Take care in the workplace

This letter was written at a time when Christians were in no position to lead the fight against slavery. They were a tiny minority in an empire where a high proportion of the population were slaves. Paul is not endorsing slavery. Rather, he is giving practical advice on how to live when we find ourselves in circumstances that are far from ideal. Whatever circumstances you find yourself in, however hard life is, your concern should be for ‘God’s name’ (6:1).

–from Day 293: Bible In One Year 2017 (point #2)

Let’s take hold of the quote that comes from today’s devotional:

 ‘Great faith is a product of great fights. Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests. Great triumphs can only come out of great trials.’

–from Smith Wigglesworth


Hard Times

Day 293: Bible In One Year 2017

  1. See hard times as God’s training school … Psalm 119:65-72
  2. Take care of those going through hard times … 1 Timothy 5:1-6:2
  3. Stay faithful to God in hard times … Jeremiah 43:1-45:5

Today’s reading from God’s Word comes from …

Let’s allow God’s glory to return to us this season!


What will it take to have God’s glory to return to us? What will it take for God’s glory to present in each house, in each city, in each country, around the world? What will it take for people to glorify God in the highest? What will it take to prepare ourselves so that we are ready and able to glorify God? What will it take to be ready to stand before God and glorify Him and praise Him? How long will it take for us to receive the incredible gift of God? How long will it take before we will humble ourselves and receive the incredible gift of God? How long will it take before we get our hearts and minds right so that we can receive the incredible gift of God?

Do you realize what holy means? It means dedicated! It means set apart! It means devoted!

Have you invited Jesus into your heart yet? Have you received Him as your Lord and Savior? He is the way, the truth, and the light to God! Will you choose to receive the gift of Jesus this Christmas season? Will you allow His Spirit to move into your heart? Will you be transformed by the glory of God forever more? Will you be restored?

Put your trust in God! Consider it pure joy when you face trials of any kind for it will work your faith and in and thru it will make you complete and lacking nothing! In this world we will have troubles, but don’t let that get you down because Jesus has already overcome the world! We can faith and hope beyond our circumstances! Let’s stand firm on the rock that is Jesus Christ, and when the pressure is on let’s stand firm! Let’s put on the full armor of God! Let’s find our peace and our strength in God! Let’s find security in God so that we can walk out our lives and our days without fear and despite fear! Let’s be generous! Let’s help the poor and those in need!

Let’s take hold of God’s promises through Jesus! Let’s take hold of faith in Jesus and allow the Spirit of Jesus so that we can live with power, love, and self-discipline rather than being timid for we are not to be timid! Don’t lose faith! Trust in God! Allow God to give you confidence so that you don’t feel shame! Trust in God! Guard the good deposit that has been placed in your heart! Continue to overflow from what God is and has poured into your life so that you can in all circumstances, at all times, and always, you can  “16 Be joyful always, 17 pray at all times, 18 be thankful in all circumstances.

Let’s be loyal to God! Let’s demonstrate our hope and trust in Him! Let’s share the good news of Jesus in everything we say and do!

Let’s close today’s time with Titus 1…

1Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of Godʼs elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— 2in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior,
4To Titus, my true son in our common faith:
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Appointing Elders Who Love What Is Good

5The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7Since an overseer manages Godʼs household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

Rebuking Those Who Fail to Do Good

10For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12One of Creteʼs own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” 13This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 15To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

–Titus 1


Today’s reading: Ezekiel 43, 44, Psalm 112, 2 Timothy 1, Titus 1

Will you lament or find hope beyond your circumstances?


We know that in this world we will have troubles! So when we have them, how will you choose to deal with your circumstances? Will you consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds? Will you worry about what is going on or what’s going to happen? Will you have hope beyond your circumstances?  Will you trust in God? Will you pray and petition God? Will  you turn back to God? Will you come to Him in humility? Will you thank and praise Him? Will you seek forgiveness? Will you lament? Will you find hope?

Today’s reading was an interesting as I turned to it as it was only 2 chapters: one from Lamentations and one from Philippians.

Where are you at today? Do you want me to pray with or for you? Let me know.

Are you seeing how your friends are? Will you stand in the gap?

Let’s take a look at these two situation and readings to help us right where we are at today…

1I am the man who has seen affliction
by the rod of the Lordʼs wrath.
2He has driven me away and made me walk
in darkness rather than light;
3indeed, he has turned his hand against me
again and again, all day long.
4He has made my skin and my flesh grow old
and has broken my bones.
5He has besieged me and surrounded me
with bitterness and hardship.
6He has made me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
7He has walled me in so I cannot escape;
he has weighed me down with chains.
8Even when I call out or cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer.
9He has barred my way with blocks of stone;
he has made my paths crooked.
10Like a bear lying in wait,
like a lion in hiding,
11he dragged me from the path and mangled me
and left me without help.
12He drew his bow
and made me the target for his arrows.
13He pierced my heart
with arrows from his quiver.
14I became the laughingstock of all my people;
they mock me in song all day long.
15He has filled me with bitter herbs
and given me gall to drink.
16He has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.
17I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”
19I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22Because of the Lordʼs great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
25The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.
28Let him sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on him.
29Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.
30Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.
31For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
32Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.
34To crush underfoot
all prisoners in the land,
35to deny people their rights
before the Most High,
36to deprive them of justice—
would not the Lord see such things?
37Who can speak and have it happen
if the Lord has not decreed it?
38Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that both calamities and good things come?
39Why should the living complain
when punished for their sins?
40Let us examine our ways and test them,
and let us return to the Lord.
41Let us lift up our hearts and our hands
to God in heaven, and say:
42“We have sinned and rebelled
and you have not forgiven.
43“You have covered yourself with anger and pursued us;
you have slain without pity.
44You have covered yourself with a cloud
so that no prayer can get through.
45You have made us scum and refuse
among the nations.
46“All our enemies have opened their mouths
wide against us.
47We have suffered terror and pitfalls,
ruin and destruction.”
48Streams of tears flow from my eyes
because my people are destroyed.
49My eyes will flow unceasingly,
without relief,
50until the Lord looks down
from heaven and sees.
51What I see brings grief to my soul
because of all the women of my city.
52Those who were my enemies without cause
hunted me like a bird.
53They tried to end my life in a pit
and threw stones at me;
54the waters closed over my head,
and I thought I was about to perish.
55I called on your name, Lord,
from the depths of the pit.
56You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears
to my cry for relief.”
57You came near when I called you,
and you said, “Do not fear.”
58You, Lord, took up my case;
you redeemed my life.
59 Lord, you have seen the wrong done to me.
Uphold my cause!
60You have seen the depth of their vengeance,
all their plots against me.
61 Lord, you have heard their insults,
all their plots against me—
62what my enemies whisper and mutter
against me all day long.
63Look at them! Sitting or standing,
they mock me in their songs.
64Pay them back what they deserve, Lord,
for what their hands have done.
65Put a veil over their hearts,
and may your curse be on them!
66Pursue them in anger and destroy them
from under the heavens of the Lord.

–Lamentations 3

Imagine living thru such a time! Imagine seeing it! Imagine hearing it!

Now let’s read Philippians in Paul’s letter to see what he says…

Imitating Christʼs Humility

1Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Do Everything Without Grumbling

12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
14Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Timothy and Epaphroditus

19I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
25But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

–Philippians 2

 

How bad do things have to get before you turn back to God? The choice is yours!


Are you ready to put God first? Are you ready to align with Him? Are you ready for the grace and the mercy? Are you ready for the hope and love? How far will you go before you turn back to God? How bad do your circumstances have to get before you trust God fully?

Do you trust Him and are able to find hope beyond the circumstances?

Do you not believe and hence wander in despair and worry?

In this world we will have troubles, but those of us who believe in Jesus can take heart because Jesus has overcome the world!

For those who believe in Jesus, we can consider every trial pure joy for when our faith succeeds in such trials that it builds up endurance and we need to let this endurance finish its work so that in the end we will be mature, complete, and lacking nothing!

There is persecution taking place around the world and some may be surprised how close to home this hits. Imagine not being able to have priest and pastors being able to preach the full bible for fear of being thrown in prison for hate crimes. Can you imagine countries where this is the case already?

Jesus preaches love! Jesus preaches unity! Jesus preaches hope! Jesus preaches faith!

So let’s live out love in this world around us! Let’s live out unity! Let’s share hope to this world around us! Let’s have faith that no matter the circumstance we face, we can find hope!

Do we need to have things get so bad before we turn back to God? How much will it take before we realize how much our Heavenly Father loves us and is desiring for us to turn back to Him and return home?

Don’t let hate win! Let’s allow love to unite us!

Don’t let fear win! Let’s allow faith to give us hope beyond our circumstances!

If now now then when? If not you then who?

We know that Jesus has already paid the price and so we just need to make a choice!

We know that in the only those who choose Jesus will get to spend eternity with Him! He is the way, the truth, and the life — no one comes to the Father except thru Him!

Will you receive the gift of love from God? Will reject it?

God’s plan is that we will have a hope and a future! Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save it!

So let’s allow the light of Jesus to shine thru us into the world around us!

There is a remnant! Will we stand together in unity and help a revival start up that will point people back to God?

Will you receive the gift of God and be adopted into His family? Will you allow yourself to be a branch, a branch grafted to the vine and allow the love of God to flow into and thru you?

 


Today’s reading: Jeremiah 51, Romans 11

Do you see what’s going on all around us?


Do you see the bickering? Do you see the bantering? Do you see the taunting? Do you see the lying? Do you see the deception? Do you see the plotting? Do you see the evil? Do you see the blame game? Do you see the violence? Do you see those trying to create division? Do you see miscarriage of justice? Do you see double standards? Do you see destruction? Do you see arguments? Do you see fighting? Do you see the law being paralyzed? Do you see wickedness?

Do you see the hope? Do you see the love? Do you see the good? Do you see the helping hands? Do you see the healing hands? Do you see the truth? Do you see the unity? Do you see the rest? Do you see a future?

So what are you doing about it? Where are you turning? How are you sharing? How are you caring? How are you daring? Are you calling? Are you listening?


This isn’t new, but there is an answer. Depending on how people choose to respond will impact which answer is required. Let’s go back and take a look at Habakkuk…

1This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received in a vision.

Habakkuk’s Complaint

2How long, O lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save. 3Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight. 4The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted.

The Lord’s Reply

5The lord replied, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it. 6I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people. They will march across the world and conquer other lands. 7They are notorious for their cruelty and do whatever they like. 8Their horses are swifter than cheetahs and fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their charioteers charge from far away. Like eagles, they swoop down to devour their prey. 9“On they come, all bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind, sweeping captives ahead of them like sand. 10They scoff at kings and princes and scorn all their fortresses. They simply pile ramps of earth against their walls and capture them! 11They sweep past like the wind and are gone. But they are deeply guilty, for their own strength is their god.”

Habakkuk’s Second Complaint

12O lord my God, my Holy One, you who are eternal— surely you do not plan to wipe us out? O lord, our Rock, you have sent these Babylonians to correct us, to punish us for our many sins. 13But you are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil. Will you wink at their treachery? Should you be silent while the wicked swallow up people more righteous than they? 14Are we only fish to be caught and killed? Are we only sea creatures that have no leader? 15Must we be strung up on their hooks and caught in their nets while they rejoice and celebrate? 16Then they will worship their nets and burn incense in front of them. “These nets are the gods who have made us rich!” they will claim. 17Will you let them get away with this forever? Will they succeed forever in their heartless conquests?

–from Habakkuk 1

There will be correction till the end times when the final judgment will take place. Take a look around and consider the correction that is necessary based on what you are seeing. We need to be pointing people back to God! We need to be introducing them to Jesus! For there is only way and it is with and thru Jesus! We need to turn this place back to God! We need to get people to see through the charades and the lies and the tricks. We need to get people to truly desire real change not the false promises. We need to put the right people in place for the benefit of the people in alignment with the will of God so that there is a push for unity rather than division, love rather than hate, truth rather than lies, and hope rather than despair. God is patient with us! His hope is that nobody would perish but turn back and receive eternal life! God is just! The battle belongs to the Lord! So don’t worry or be anxious, put your trust in Him – lift your care up to Him! Do what He is telling you! Walk in alignment to His commands! Hear His voice and obey His direction and instructions! And watch Him take care of it!

1I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the lord says and how he will answer my complaint.

The Lord’s Second Reply

2Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. 3This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. 4“Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God. 5Wealth is treacherous, and the arrogant are never at rest. They open their mouths as wide as the grave, and like death, they are never satisfied. In their greed they have gathered up many nations and swallowed many peoples. 6“But soon their captives will taunt them. They will mock them, saying, ‘What sorrow awaits you thieves! Now you will get what you deserve! You’ve become rich by extortion, but how much longer can this go on?’ 7Suddenly, your debtors will take action. They will turn on you and take all you have, while you stand trembling and helpless. 8Because you have plundered many nations, now all the survivors will plunder you. You committed murder throughout the countryside and filled the towns with violence. 9“What sorrow awaits you who build big houses with money gained dishonestly! You believe your wealth will buy security, putting your family’s nest beyond the reach of danger. 10But by the murders you committed, you have shamed your name and forfeited your lives. 11The very stones in the walls cry out against you, and the beams in the ceilings echo the complaint. 12“What sorrow awaits you who build cities with money gained through murder and corruption! 13Has not the Lord of Heaven’s Armies promised that the wealth of nations will turn to ashes? They work so hard, but all in vain! 14For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord. 15“What sorrow awaits you who make your neighbors drunk! You force your cup on them so you can gloat over their shameful nakedness. 16But soon it will be your turn to be disgraced. Come, drink and be exposed! Drink from the cup of the Lord’s judgment, and all your glory will be turned to shame. 17You cut down the forests of Lebanon. Now you will be cut down. You destroyed the wild animals, so now their terror will be yours. You committed murder throughout the countryside and filled the towns with violence. 18“What good is an idol carved by man, or a cast image that deceives you? How foolish to trust in your own creation— a god that can’t even talk! 19What sorrow awaits you who say to wooden idols, ‘Wake up and save us!’ To speechless stone images you say, ‘Rise up and teach us!’ Can an idol tell you what to do? They may be overlaid with gold and silver, but they are lifeless inside. 20But the Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.”

–from Habakkuk 2

So let’s praise God! Let’s glorify God! Let’s worship God! He knows what He is doing! He knows what is taking place and justice will be served! His timing is perfect! His ways are higher and better than our ways! So let’s just do what He is calling us to do and trust Him with the rest!

Habakkuk’s Prayer

1This prayer was sung by the prophet Habakkuk: 2I have heard all about you, Lord. I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger, remember your mercy. 3I see God moving across the deserts from Edom, the Holy One coming from Mount Paran. His brilliant splendor fills the heavens, and the earth is filled with his praise. 4His coming is as brilliant as the sunrise. Rays of light flash from his hands, where his awesome power is hidden. 5Pestilence marches before him; plague follows close behind. 6When he stops, the earth shakes. When he looks, the nations tremble. He shatters the everlasting mountains and levels the eternal hills. He is the Eternal One! 7I see the people of Cushan in distress, and the nation of Midian trembling in terror. 8Was it in anger, Lord, that you struck the rivers and parted the sea? Were you displeased with them? No, you were sending your chariots of salvation! 9You brandished your bow and your quiver of arrows. You split open the earth with flowing rivers. 10The mountains watched and trembled. Onward swept the raging waters. The mighty deep cried out, lifting its hands in submission. 11The sun and moon stood still in the sky as your brilliant arrows flew and your glittering spear flashed. 12You marched across the land in anger and trampled the nations in your fury. 13You went out to rescue your chosen people, to save your anointed ones. You crushed the heads of the wicked and stripped their bones from head to toe. 14With his own weapons, you destroyed the chief of those who rushed out like a whirlwind, thinking Israel would be easy prey. 15You trampled the sea with your horses, and the mighty waters piled high. 16I trembled inside when I heard this; my lips quivered with fear. My legs gave way beneath me, and I shook in terror. I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster will strike the people who invade us. 17Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, 18yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! 19The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.
(For the choir director: This prayer is to be accompanied by stringed instruments.)

–from Habakkuk 3

Are you going around as an encouragement to the world around you? Are you sharing the fact there is hope still with them? Are you sharing the fact there is love still with them? Are you sharing there is still joy with them? Are you sharing the good news? aka Good News! Will you be sensitive to the Spirit’s prompting? Will you go where He calls you? Will you obey His instructions? Will you align to the calling? It’s not always easy, but we have hope! Jesus told us that in this world we would have troubles but that we can take heart because He has overcome the world! Jesus told us to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds because they do a work in us – building up our faith, building up our endurance, working in us that in the end we will complete and lacking nothing! We have rights! So we are good to receive them and exercise them!

Paul’s Second Missionary Journey

1Paul went first to Derbe and then to Lystra, where there was a young disciple named Timothy. His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek. 2Timothy was well thought of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium, 3so Paul wanted him to join them on their journey. In deference to the Jews of the area, he arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they left, for everyone knew that his father was a Greek. 4Then they went from town to town, instructing the believers to follow the decisions made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. 5So the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew larger every day.

A Call from Macedonia

6Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. 7Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. 8So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas.
9That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” 10So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.
Lydia of Philippi Believes in Jesus
11We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neapolis. 12From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days.
13On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. 14One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. 15She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.

Paul and Silas in Prison

16One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future. She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. 17She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”
18This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her.
19Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. 20“The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. 21“They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.”
22A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
25Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! 27The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. 28But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”
29The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” 32And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. 33Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. 34He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.
35The next morning the city officials sent the police to tell the jailer, “Let those men go!” 36So the jailer told Paul, “The city officials have said you and Silas are free to leave. Go in peace.”
37But Paul replied, “They have publicly beaten us without a trial and put us in prison—and we are Roman citizens. So now they want us to leave secretly? Certainly not! Let them come themselves to release us!”
38When the police reported this, the city officials were alarmed to learn that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. 39So they came to the jail and apologized to them. Then they brought them out and begged them to leave the city. 40When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town.

–from Acts 16

 

The pendulum of life…


Take a look at history and watch the pendulum swing…

Good

Obedience

Aligned

Right

The pendulum goes back and forth evil

disobedience

misaligned

wrong

Throughout history we watch civilization align with God and then rebel against God. We see people and societies whose predecessors followed God get too comfortable and then take for granted the way things are not realizing the impact of their comfortable lives and then their rebellious behavior will have on the future. We see people get so far away from God that they get to a breaking point where a revival is needed to get things back on track and to a point where people celebrate in the Lord and walk aligned with God and try to get all the brokenness fixed up.

Take a look around you today. Where are you standing? Where is society on the spectrum? Where is it on the path of the pendulum? Will you help it? Which side will it be? How far down the downward spiral would things have to get before you start to look up to God and call out to Him? How far off kilter do things have to get before someone will try to make a change? Things had to get really bad and really dark before revival happened in the past, how much worse do they have to get before you, before society, before the world turns back to God?


Heavenly Father,
I thank You Lord for this new day. I thank You Lord that Your plans are good. I thank You Lord that Your ways are better than our ways and your plans are better than our plans. I thank You Lord that through You all things are possible. Even though things may seem bad or seem tough or seem hard, I know I can keep and put my trust in You because with you all things are possible. Nothing is too big for You. Lord, as I look around at the conflicts taking place between people of different races, I lift this up to You asking for Your spirit of reconciliation to come into the middle of this.Lord, as I look around at the conflicts taking place within politics, I lift this up to You knowing and trusting in You because nobody is authority except for those You have allowed into those positions to help Your plan come together. Even what the enemy had planned for evil Lord, You can turnaround and use for good. Help us Lord to align with Your will and do what Your plans require. Help us Lord to do what is good and what is right so that Your will and Your plans will happen today. Help us Lord to walk in obedience to Your Word and Your way so that in all we think, say, and do You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory that You so deserve. Help us Lord to live our lives as humble servants so that people will come to the reality of Jesus and be saved. Lord, help us to live selfless lives, putting others first, so that our lives will be living sacrifices to You and living testimonies to the people around us! Lord I ask all this so that You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Today’s reading brings us to 2 Kings 21…

Manasseh Rules in Judah

1Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother was Hephzibah. 2He did what was evil in the lord’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. 3He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father, Hezekiah, had destroyed. He constructed altars for Baal and set up an Asherah pole, just as King Ahab of Israel had done. He also bowed before all the powers of the heavens and worshiped them.
4He built pagan altars in the Temple of the lord, the place where the lord had said, “My name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” 5He built these altars for all the powers of the heavens in both courtyards of the lord’s Temple. 6Manasseh also sacrificed his own son in the fire. He practiced sorcery and divination, and he consulted with mediums and psychics. He did much that was evil in the lord’s sight, arousing his anger.
7Manasseh even made a carved image of Asherah and set it up in the Temple, the very place where the lord had told David and his son Solomon: “My name will be honored forever in this Temple and in Jerusalem—the city I have chosen from among all the tribes of Israel. 8If the Israelites will be careful to obey my commands—all the laws my servant Moses gave them—I will not send them into exile from this land that I gave their ancestors.” 9But the people refused to listen, and Manasseh led them to do even more evil than the pagan nations that the lord had destroyed when the people of Israel entered the land.
10Then the lord said through his servants the prophets: 11“King Manasseh of Judah has done many detestable things. He is even more wicked than the Amorites, who lived in this land before Israel. He has caused the people of Judah to sin with his idols. 12So this is what the lord, the God of Israel, says: I will bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of those who hear about it will tingle with horror. 13I will judge Jerusalem by the same standard I used for Samaria and the same measure I used for the family of Ahab. I will wipe away the people of Jerusalem as one wipes a dish and turns it upside down. 14Then I will reject even the remnant of my own people who are left, and I will hand them over as plunder for their enemies. 15For they have done great evil in my sight and have angered me ever since their ancestors came out of Egypt.”
16Manasseh also murdered many innocent people until Jerusalem was filled from one end to the other with innocent blood. This was in addition to the sin that he caused the people of Judah to commit, leading them to do evil in the lord’s sight.
17The rest of the events in Manasseh’s reign and everything he did, including the sins he committed, are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah. 18When Manasseh died, he was buried in the palace garden, the garden of Uzza. Then his son Amon became the next king.

Amon Rules in Judah

19Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. His mother was Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz from Jotbah. 20He did what was evil in the lord’s sight, just as his father, Manasseh, had done. 21He followed the example of his father, worshiping the same idols his father had worshiped. 22He abandoned the lord, the God of his ancestors, and he refused to follow the lord’s ways.
23Then Amon’s own officials conspired against him and assassinated him in his palace. 24But the people of the land killed all those who had conspired against King Amon, and they made his son Josiah the next king.
25The rest of the events in Amon’s reign and what he did are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah. 26He was buried in his tomb in the garden of Uzza. Then his son Josiah became the next king.

–from 2 Kings 21

Does it matter if the person is old and does what is wrong vs if the person is young and does wrong? Does it matter what the person’s race or nationality if they are doing what is wrong? Does it matter what the person’s sex is if they are doing what is wrong? No! It’s a matter of the heart! It’s not about their age, their race, their sex, it’s about their character! It’s all about the content of their heart which defines and represents their character!

Manasseh Rules in Judah

1Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. 2He did what was evil in the lord’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. 3He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father, Hezekiah, had broken down. He constructed altars for the images of Baal and set up Asherah poles. He also bowed before all the powers of the heavens and worshiped them.
4He built pagan altars in the Temple of the lord, the place where the lord had said, “My name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” 5He built these altars for all the powers of the heavens in both courtyards of the lord’s Temple. 6Manasseh also sacrificed his own sons in the fire in the valley of Ben-Hinnom. He practiced sorcery, divination, and witchcraft, and he consulted with mediums and psychics. He did much that was evil in the lord’s sight, arousing his anger.
7Manasseh even took a carved idol he had made and set it up in God’s Temple, the very place where God had told David and his son Solomon: “My name will be honored forever in this Temple and in Jerusalem—the city I have chosen from among all the tribes of Israel. 8If the Israelites will be careful to obey my commands—all the laws, decrees, and regulations given through Moses—I will not send them into exile from this land that I set aside for your ancestors.” 9But Manasseh led the people of Judah and Jerusalem to do even more evil than the pagan nations that the lord had destroyed when the people of Israel entered the land.
10The lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they ignored all his warnings. 11So the lord sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon. 12But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. 13And when he prayed, the lord listened to him and was moved by his request. So the lord brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the lord alone is God!
14After this Manasseh rebuilt the outer wall of the City of David, from west of the Gihon Spring in the Kidron Valley to the Fish Gate, and continuing around the hill of Ophel. He built the wall very high. And he stationed his military officers in all of the fortified towns of Judah. 15Manasseh also removed the foreign gods and the idol from the lord’s Temple. He tore down all the altars he had built on the hill where the Temple stood and all the altars that were in Jerusalem, and he dumped them outside the city. 16Then he restored the altar of the lord and sacrificed peace offerings and thanksgiving offerings on it. He also encouraged the people of Judah to worship the lord, the God of Israel. 17However, the people still sacrificed at the pagan shrines, though only to the lord their God.
18The rest of the events of Manasseh’s reign, his prayer to God, and the words the seers spoke to him in the name of the lord, the God of Israel, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Israel. 19Manasseh’s prayer, the account of the way God answered him, and an account of all his sins and unfaithfulness are recorded in The Record of the Seers. It includes a list of the locations where he built pagan shrines and set up Asherah poles and idols before he humbled himself and repented. 20When Manasseh died, he was buried in his palace. Then his son Amon became the next king.

Amon Rules in Judah

21Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. 22He did what was evil in the lord’s sight, just as his father, Manasseh, had done. He worshiped and sacrificed to all the idols his father had made. 23But unlike his father, he did not humble himself before the lord. Instead, Amon sinned even more.
24Then Amon’s own officials conspired against him and assassinated him in his palace. 25But the people of the land killed all those who had conspired against King Amon, and they made his son Josiah the next king.

–from 2 Chronicles 33

Let’s press on! Let’s not give up! Let’s take hold of the truth in God’s Word! Let’s take hope in the promises of Jesus! In this world we will have troubles but we can take hope because Jesus has already overcome the world! We can consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds for they do a work in us that will get us to the point if we will allow it to, to be complete and lacking nothing! God’s got it all in His hands and so we need to lean on Him rather than our own understanding so that He can make our paths straight!

For the choir director: A psalm of Asaph. A song to be sung to the tune “Do Not Destroy!”

1We thank you, O God!
We give thanks because you are near.
People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds.
2God says, “At the time I have planned,
I will bring justice against the wicked.
3When the earth quakes and its people live in turmoil,
I am the one who keeps its foundations firm.
Interlude
4“I warned the proud, ‘Stop your boasting!’
I told the wicked, ‘Don’t raise your fists!
5Don’t raise your fists in defiance at the heavens
or speak with such arrogance.’”
6For no one on earth—from east or west,
or even from the wilderness—
should raise a defiant fist.
7It is God alone who judges;
he decides who will rise and who will fall.
8For the lord holds a cup in his hand
that is full of foaming wine mixed with spices.
He pours out the wine in judgment,
and all the wicked must drink it,
draining it to the dregs.
9But as for me, I will always proclaim what God has done;
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
10For God says, “I will break the strength of the wicked,
but I will increase the power of the godly.”

–from Psalms 75

Let’s trust in God! Trust Him no matter what happens! Like Paul who was in prison but trusted in God, no matter what would happen. Like Daniel and his friends who were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace but trusted in God, no matter what happened. Let’s walk in faith believing and trusting in God and His Word! God has a plan and His plan is good! God can make a way even when there isn’t a way! So let’s trust in Him through every challenge, delight, joy, adventure, … we need to walk through knowing that He is working in it for good! For there is no darkness in Him! God is Love! Remember in 1 Corinthians 13 how it reads when we replace Love with God since God = Love and Love = God? Don’t lose hope! Don’t grow weary in doing what is good and what is right! Put your trust in God! Ask Jesus into your heart and allow Him to work in and through you no matter the circumstances! Let’s give God the praise and redirect any to Him who is greater!

James Is Killed and Peter Is Imprisoned

1About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. 2He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword. 3When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter. (This took place during the Passover celebration.) 4Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. 5But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.

Peter’s Miraculous Escape from Prison

6The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. 7Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. 8Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered.
9So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. 10They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him.
11Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!”
12When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer. 13He knocked at the door in the gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it. 14When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, “Peter is standing at the door!”
15“You’re out of your mind!” they said. When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel.”
16Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally opened the door and saw him, they were amazed. 17He motioned for them to quiet down and told them how the Lord had led him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers what happened,” he said. And then he went to another place.
18At dawn there was a great commotion among the soldiers about what had happened to Peter. 19Herod Agrippa ordered a thorough search for him. When he couldn’t be found, Herod interrogated the guards and sentenced them to death. Afterward Herod left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while.

The Death of Herod Agrippa

20Now Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they sent a delegation to make peace with him because their cities were dependent upon Herod’s country for food. The delegates won the support of Blastus, Herod’s personal assistant, 21and an appointment with Herod was granted. When the day arrived, Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. 22The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, “It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!”
23Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died.
24Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers.
25When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission to Jerusalem, they returned, taking John Mark with them.

–from Acts 12

So don’t give up! Put your trust in God! Let’s stick to God’s Word! It’s our measuring stick, our source of truth! Let’s lean not on our own understanding, but in all our ways let’s acknowledge Him who will make our path straight! Let’s tell the truth! Let’s live with integrity! Let’s be honest in the way we live! Let’s be pointing people to God! Let’s not be focusing on self, but rather let’s be giving it all up to God! Let’s give Him the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name! Let’s not stop speaking of the great love of Jesus! Let’s not stop speaking of what He has done for us! Let’s be salt and light! Let’s share the love, the grace, and the mercy with the world around us that they too will come to know Jesus and His sacrifice for all of us!

Treasure in Fragile Clay Jars

1Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way,we never give up. 2We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.
3If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. 4Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.
5You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
7We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
8We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
11Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
13But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” 14We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
16That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

–from 2 Corinthians 4

Are you facing giants today?


At work? At school? On the field? On the road? I remember how my mom used to say “the bigger they are the harder they fall”. Don’t be afraid of giants!

It’s kind of like being in the midst of a storm, where does your focus go? Where should it go?

Last night before rehearsal the topic of Peter getting out of the boat and walking on water and the importance of keeping our eyes on Jesus. We can’t focus on the waves. Wave can’t focus on the storm. We can’t focus on the giants. We need to keep our focus on Jesus and what He calls us to be and to do. We need to remember all He has done and then move forward in all that He is doing and is about to do as He goes before us to prepare the good work He has for us to do!

Today’s reading kicks off on the topic of giants…

Who Brings Down Giants?

1“Hear, O Israel! You are about to cross over the Jordan today, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourself—cities great and fortified up to the heavens. 2The people are great and tall, sons of the Anakim. You know them, and you yourselves have heard, “Who can stand before the sons of Anak?” 3But you will know today that Adonai your God is the One who is crossing over before you as a devouring fire. He will destroy them, and He will bring them down before you, so that you may drive them out and make them perish quickly, as Adonai has promised you. 4“After Adonai your God has driven them out from before you, do not say in your heart, ‘It is because of my righteousness that Adonai has brought me in to possess this land.’ It is because of the wickedness of these nations that Adonai is driving them out from before you. 5It is not by your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you are going in to possess their land. Rather, because of the wickedness of these nations, Adonai your God is driving them out from before you, and in order to keep the word Adonai swore to your fathers—to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 6So you should understand that it is not because of your righteousness that Adonai your God is giving you this good land to possess—for you are a stiff-necked people.

What Happened to the Tablets?

7“Remember, never forget, how you provoked Adonai your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you left the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against Adonai. 8At Horeb you provoked Adonai to wrath, and Adonai was angry with you—enough to destroy you. 9When I went up the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that Adonai cut with you, I stayed on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights; I did not eat bread or drink water. 10Adonai gave me the two tablets of stone written by the finger of God. Moreover, on them were all the words that Adonai had spoken with you on the mountain from the midst of the fire, on the day of the assembly. 11“Now at the end of 40 days and 40 nights, Adonai gave me the two tablets of stone—the tablets of the covenant. 12Adonai said to me, ‘Get up! Go quickly down from here, for your people whom you brought out from Egypt have acted corruptly. They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them; they have made a molten image for themselves.’ 13Furthermore Adonai spoke to me saying, ‘I have seen this people, and it is indeed a stiff-necked people. 14Leave Me alone, so that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under the heavens. Then I will make you into a nation mightier and greater than they.’ 15“So I turned and came down from the mountain while the mountain was burning with fire. Now the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands. 16When I looked, you had indeed sinned against Adonai your God—you had made yourselves a metal calf. So quickly you had turned aside from the way Adonai had commanded you! 17So I took hold of the two tablets, threw them out of my two hands, and smashed them before your eyes. 18“Then I fell down before Adonai like the first time, for 40 days and 40 nights. I did not eat bread or drink water—because of all your sin that you committed, doing evil in Adonai’s sight, provoking Him to anger. 19For I was afraid of the fierce wrath and fury which Adonai bore toward you—to destroy you. But Adonai listened to me that time also. 20Adonai was angry enough with Aaron to destroy him, so I prayed for Aaron also at the same time. 21I took your sin—the calf you had made—and burned it in the fire. I crushed it, grinding it up so well that it was as fine as dust, and I threw its dust into the wadi flowing down from the mountain. 22“Again at Taberah and Massah and Kibroth-hattaavah, you provoked Adonai to wrath. 23When Adonai sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, ‘Go up and possess the land I have given you,’ then you rebelled against the commandment of Adonai your God and didn’t believe Him or listen to His voice. 24You have been rebellious against Adonai from the day that I knew you. 25“So I threw myself down before Adonai those 40 days and 40 nights, because Adonai had said He would destroy you. 26I prayed to Adonai and said, ‘O Lord, Adonai, do not destroy Your people—Your inheritance that You have redeemed through Your greatness and brought out from Egypt with a mighty hand. 27Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Pay no attention to the stubbornness of this people or to their wickedness or their sin. 28Otherwise the land from which You brought us out may say, “Because Adonai was not able to bring them into the land that He spoke of to them, and because He hated them, He has brought them out to kill them in the wilderness.” 29Yet they are Your people—Your inheritance that You brought out by Your great power and Your outstretched arm.’

–from Deuteronomy 9

Don’t turn away from God! Don’t walk away! Don’t complain or grumble! Build up your relationship with Him! Build up your hope and trust in Him! Be willing to wait on Him! Be willing to listen to what He says to you! Be willing to be obedient to His instruction and directions!

Just because you mess up, don’t lose hope! Turn back to Him! He is the God of the second chances, third chances, fourth changes…. So don’t beat yourself up too much but rather turn back to God and ask Him for forgiveness and wisdom into how to proceed! He doesn’t setup boundaries to keep you from having fun, but rather to protect you. His plans for you are good! He is LOVE! So let’s give Him our hearts so that He can move in and work in and through us!

We hear about the second chances when God produced the second set of tablets…

Two New Tablets

1“At that time Adonai said to me, ‘Carve for yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones and come up to Me on the mountain. Make yourself an ark of wood. 2I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets that you smashed, and you are to put them in the ark.’ 3“So I made an ark of acacia wood, cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and went up the mountain with the two tablets in my hand. 4Like the first inscription, Adonai wrote on the tablets the Ten Words He had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly, then gave them to me. 5Then I turned and came down from the mountain and put the tablets in the ark I had made—and there they are, just as Adonai commanded me. 6“(Bnei-Yisrael traveled from the wells of the sons of Jaakan to Moserah—there Aaron died and was buried, and his son Eleazar served as kohen in his place. 7From there they journeyed to Gudgod, and from Gudgod to Jotbah—a land of wadis flowing with water. 8At that time Adonai set the tribe of Levi apart to carry the Ark of the Covenant of Adonai, to stand before Adonai to serve Him and to pronounce blessings in His Name—as is the case to this day. 9Therefore Levi has no portion or inheritance with his brothers—Adonai is his inheritance, just as Adonai your God had promised about him.) 10“I stayed on the mountain like the first time—40 days and 40 nights. Adonai listened to me that time also and was not willing to destroy you. 11Adonai said to me, ‘Rise up, go, journey ahead of the people so that they may go in and possess the land that I swore to their fathers to give to them.’ 12“So now, O Israel, what does Adonai your God require of you, but to fear Adonai your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13to keep the mitzvot of Adonai and His statutes that I am commanding you today, for your own good? 14Behold, to Adonai your God belong the heavens and the highest of heavens, the earth and all that is in it. 15Only on your fathers did Adonai set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them—you—from all the peoples, as is the case this day.

Circumcise Your Hearts

16“Circumcise the foreskin of your heart therefore, and do not be stiff-necked anymore. 17For Adonai your God is God of gods and Lord of lords —the great, mighty and awesome God, who does not show partiality or take a bribe. 18He enacts justice for the orphan and widow, and loves the outsider, giving him food and clothing. 19Therefore love the outsider, for you were outsiders in the land of Egypt. 20Adonai your God you will fear—Him will you serve. To Him will you cling, and by His Name will you swear. 21He is your praise and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your eyes have seen. 22Your fathers went down to Egypt with 70 persons, and now Adonai your God has made you like the stars of the heavens in number.

–from Deuteronomy 10

We shouldn’t hide from God! In reality we can’t anyways! And when and while we build up our relationship with Him, He will walk with us and talk with us and lead us on our way! Let’s not grow weary in doing good works! Let’s turn to God when we are being attacked! Let’s turn to God when we don’t know what to do! Let’s walk with Him through the mountain top highs as well as the low times in the valleys of life!

Hide Not Your Face from Me

1A psalm of David. Hear my prayer, Adonai, give ear to my petitions. In Your faithfulness and Your righteousness, answer me! 2Do not bring Your servant into judgment, for in Your eyes no one living is righteous. 3For an enemy pursues my soul. He crushes my life down to the ground. He makes me dwell in darkness, like those long dead. 4So my spirit grows faint within me. My heart is shocked within me. 5I remember the days of old. I meditate on all You have done. I ponder the work of Your hands. 6I spread forth my hands to You. My soul longs for You as a parched land. Selah 7Answer me speedily, Adonai— my spirit fails. Hide not Your face from me, lest I become like those who go down into the Pit. 8Make me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You I trust. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. 9Deliver me from my enemies, Adonai. I hide myself in You. 10Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God. Let Your good Ruach lead me on level ground. 11For Your Name’s sake, Adonai, revive me. In Your justice bring my soul out of trouble. 12In Your mercy cut off my enemies and destroy all who harass my soul, for I am Your servant.

–from Psalms 143

Let’s not be self-centered! Let’s not be selfish! Let’s be generous! Let’s be givers! Let’s share what God has given us! I remember a story from camp growing up where there were warm fuzzies and cold prickelies. And someone had told one of the people who had been giving out of warm fuzzies that if they kept doing that they could run out. Out of fear when others would give them warm fuzzies, they started to give them cold prickelies back. Eventually things got really bad but the truth set everyone free. As long as we are giving love, we will never run out! So we need to be living in love and generously sharing love with those God has brought into your life! Be willing to give grace to others as God provides and has exemplified grace to you! There is a cost, but it is totally worth it.

Eagerness to Give

1Now we make known to you, brothers and sisters, the grace God has given to Messiah’s communities in Macedonia— 2that in much testing by affliction, the abundance of their joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3For I testify that according to their ability, and even beyond their ability, they gave of their own free will— 4begging us with much urging for the favor of sharing in the relief of the kedoshim. 5Moreover, it was not just as we had hoped, but they gave of themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. 6So we urged Titus that, just as he had made a start before, so he should also complete this gracious service for you. 7But as you excel in everything—in faith and speech and knowledge and all diligence, and in your love for us—also excel in this grace. 8I am saying this not as a command, but I am trying to prove by the diligence of others the genuineness of your love as well. 9For you know the grace of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah—that even though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that through His poverty you might become rich. 10Now I give my opinion in this matter, that it is a credit to you that a year ago you were the first to start—not only to do but even to be willing. 11But now finish doing it, so that just as there was eagerness to be willing, so also to finish it, out of what you have. 12For if the eagerness is present, the gift is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he doesn’t have. 13For it is not relief for others and hardship for you, but as a matter of equality. 14Your abundance at this present time meets their need, so that their abundance may also meet your need—so that there may be equality. 15As it is written, “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”

An Offering by Special Delivery

16But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same devotion for you. 17For indeed he not only accepted our appeal, but went to you with eagerness and on his own initiative. 18We are sending along with him the brother whose fame in connection with the Good News has spread throughout all of Messiah’s communities. 19Not only that, but he has also been appointed by the communities as our travel companion with this gracious gift, which is administered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself and to show our eagerness to help. 20We are taking this precaution, so that no one will blame us in regard to the way we administer this generous gift. 21We have regard for what is honorable—not only before the Lord, but also before people. 22Also with them we are sending our brother whom we have tested many times and found to be diligent in many things, but now even more diligent because of his great confidence in you. 23As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brothers, they are the emissaries of the communities, a glory to Messiah. 24Therefore, before Messiah’s communities show them the proof of your love and of our boasting about you.

–from 2 Corinthians 8

We are to live in love! God’s plan is perfect! Are you willing to do it His way rather than trying to mess with it? Are you willing to go His way rather than try to switch it up? Are you about the truth or trickery? Are you about love? Are you about hope? Are you about forgiveness? There is a cost but in the end your return on investment is totally worth it.

Abide in Marriage

1Then getting up from there, Yeshua goes to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. Again crowds gather around Him, and, as was His custom, He began to teach them once more. 2Pharisees came up, and to test Him they began asking, “Is it permitted for a man to divorce his wife?” 3And He replied to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4The Pharisees said, “Moses permitted a man to write a bill of divorce and to put her away.” 5But Yeshua said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment! 6But from the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female. 7For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate!” 10In the house, the disciples began questioning Him about this again. 11And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12And if she divorces her husband and marries another, she is committing adultery.”

Let the Little Ones Come!

13Now people were bringing little children to Yeshua so He might touch them, but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14But when Yeshua saw this, He got angry. He told them, “Let the little children come to Me! Do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15Amen, I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it!” 16And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

The Cost of Discipleship

17As Yeshua was setting out on His way, a man ran up to Him, fell on his knees before Him, and asked, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18“Why do you call Me good?” Yeshua said to him. “No one is good except One—that is God. 19You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony,’ do not cheat, ‘honor your father and mother.’” 20The man responded, “Teacher, all these I have kept since my youth!” 21Looking at him, Yeshua loved him and said, “One thing you lack. Go, sell as much as you have, and give to the poor; and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” 22But at this statement, the man became sad and went away grieving, for he had much property. 23Then looking around, Yeshua says to His disciples, “How hard it will be for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 24The disciples were amazed at His words. But Yeshua answers again and says to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26The disciples were even more astonished, saying among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” 27Looking at them, Yeshua said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God!” 28Peter began to say to Him, “Look, we’ve left everything to follow You!” 29“Amen, I tell you,” Yeshua replied, “there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for My sake and for the sake of the Good News, 30who will not receive a hundred times as much now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and property, along with persecutions; and in the olam ha-ba , eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Death and Resurrection Revealed

32They were on the way going up to Jerusalem, and Yeshua was going ahead of them. And they were amazed, while those who followed were fearful. Again Yeshua took the Twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him. 33He said, “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the ruling kohanim and the Torah scholars. They will condemn Him to death and hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34They will mock Him and spit on Him, scourge Him and kill Him. Yet after three days, He will rise again!” 35Then Jacob and John, the sons of Zebedee, come up to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37They said to Him, “Let us sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” 38But Yeshua answered them, “You don’t know what you’re asking! Are you able to drink the cup I drink, or endure the immersion I must endure?” 39They said to Him, “We are able.” And Yeshua said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink, and you will endure the immersion I must endure. 40But to sit on My right or left is not Mine to grant—it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41Now when the ten heard, they started to get angry with Jacob and John. 42And calling them over, Yeshua said to them, “You know those recognized as rulers of the nations lord it over them, and their great ones play the tyrant over them. 43Yet it is not this way among you. But whoever wants to be great among you shall be your servant, 44and whoever wants to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Ben-David Heals the Blind

46Then they came to Jericho. Now as Yeshua was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47When he heard that it was Yeshua of Natzeret, he began to cry out, “Ben-David, Yeshua! Have mercy on me!” 48Many were warning him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Ben-David, have mercy on me!” 49Yeshua stopped and said, “Call him over.” So they call the blind man, saying, “Take heart! Get up, He’s calling you!” 50Throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and came to Yeshua. 51And answering him, Yeshua said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Rabboni, I want to see again!” 52Yeshua said to him, “Go! Your faith has made you well.” Instantly he regained his sight and began following Yeshua down the road.

–from Mark 10

 

 

 

You are valued! God is faithful!


 

Ever found that the world can chew you up and spit you out? Ever found that one day you seem to have value and the next it seems like you don’t? Ever wondered what’s the point? Ever asked why is this happening?

Don’t lose hope and don’t give up! Press on and put your trust in God! Put Him first and pursue after His plans for your life! God’s Word tells us that we have value and are important to God…

29“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31“So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. –from Matthew 10

He doesn’t want us to walk in fear or doubt! He wants us to walk in hope and trust in Him because He cares for us! He doesn’t want us to carry the load of anxiety and worry, His Word puts it this way…

6Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. –from 1 Peter 5

So no matter what comes your way today, do not lose hope! No matter what comes your way, do not fear!  matter what comes your way, press on! No matter what comes your way, turn to God! Ask Him for wisdom! Ask Him for discernment! For He is faithful and His love endures forever! Consider Jesus who knew the day and the hour and the plan and the purpose! He didn’t lose hope! He overcame! As we start this day, if we face troubles of any kind, let’s consider them pure joy! As we start this day, we may have troubles, but take heart for Jesus has overcome the world and has told us that in this world we will have troubles!


Today’s reading comes from Leviticus 27, Psalms 136, and John 17.

So let’s meditate on today’s Psalm…

When I saw the title I looked up “chesed” and found it means: “the attribute of grace, benevolence, or compassion, especially (in Kabbalism) as one of the sephiroth.”

 

 

His Chesed Endures Forever!

1Praise Adonai, for He is good, for His lovingkindness endures forever.
2Praise the God of gods, for His lovingkindness endures forever.
3Praise the Lord of lords, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
4who alone did great wonders, for His lovingkindness endures forever
5who made the heavens by wisdom, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
6who spread the earth on the waters, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
7who made great lights, for His lovingkindness endures forever
8the sun to rule by day, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
9the moon and stars to rule by night, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
10who struck Egypt in their firstborn, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
11and led out Israel from among them, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
12with a strong hand and outstretched arm, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
13who cut the Sea of Reeds into parts, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
14and made Israel pass through the midst of it, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
15but hurled Pharaoh and his army into the Sea of Reeds, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
16who led His people through the desert, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
17who struck down great kings, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
18and slew mighty kings, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
19Sihon, king of the Amorites, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
20and Og, king of Bashan, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
21and gave their land for an inheritance, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
22an inheritance for Israel His servant, for His lovingkindness endures forever.
23He remembered us in our lowly estate, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
24and separated between us and He delivered us from our adversaries, for His lovingkindness endures forever,
25who gives food to all flesh, for His lovingkindness endures forever.
26Praise the God of heaven, for His lovingkindness endures forever!

–from Psalms 136

So did you catch how long it will last? His lovingkindness endures forever!

Let’s take a look at Jesus through John 17…How does He position Himself to glorify the Father? How does He pray for His disciples? How does He pray for the rest of us?

The Son Glorifies the Father

1Yeshua spoke these things; then, lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, so the Son may glorify You. 2Even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, so may He give eternal life to all those You have given Him. 3And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Yeshua the Messiah, the One You sent. 4I glorified You on earth by finishing the work that You have given Me to do. 5Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world came to be.”

Yeshua Prays for His Disciples

6“I have made Your name known to the men of this world that You gave Me. They were Yours; You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You. 8The words, which You gave Me, I have given to them. They received them and truly understood that I came from You, and they believed that You sent Me. 9I ask on their behalf. Not on behalf of the world do I ask, but on behalf of those You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10All Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11I am no longer in the world; but they are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name that You have given Me, so that they may be one just as We are. 12While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name that You have given Me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. 13“But now I am coming to You. I say these words while I am still in the world, so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14I have given them Your word; and the world hated them, because they are not of the world just as I am not of the world. 15I am not asking that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17“Make them holy in the truth. Your word is truth. 18Just as You sent Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I make Myself holy, so that they also may be made holy in truth.”

Interceding for All Believers

20“I pray not on behalf of these only, but also for those who believe in Me through their message, 21that they all may be one. Just as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You, so also may they be one in Us, so the world may believe that You sent Me. 22The glory that You have given to Me I have given to them, that they may be one just as We are one— 23I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them as You loved Me. 24“Father, I also want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory—the glory You gave Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25Righteous Father, the world did not know You, but I knew You; and these knew that You sent Me. 26I made your Name known to them, and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

–from John 17

 

 

 

Worth it in the end!


Ever gone through a tough time and when it is all over you realize you would never have asked for it, but having been through it you wouldn’t want to ever give up the experience?  Ever learned through adversity something that you couldn’t have ever learned just having good times? Ever had a second chance and realize what you learned through the tough times? Ever had a second chance and chosen to walk it out God’s way? Did you find out that it was worth it in the end? That you had wisdom that you wouldn’t have been able to have any other way? Have you been able to share it with others?

I know I have! Be it when I was called to step up and be on the board of a homeowners association and then called to step up to be president. Be it when I was called to move on but chose to try and stick it out and then went through some adversity which taught me the importance of forgiveness. God knows what He is doing! God know what it will take for us to  it, to answer it, and to move into it! He knows us better than we know ourselves!

Today’s reading shows how the adversity Joseph ha deal with was worth it and necessary for the ultimate plan to occur in saving lives and producing a humbled and wise leader in and through Joseph. And to be reunited with his father.

Jacob Goes to Egypt

1So Israel set out, along with everything that belonged to him. When he came to Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.
2In visions of the night God said to Israel, “Jacob, Jacob.” “Hineni,” he said.
3“I am God, the God of your father,” He said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will turn you into a great nation there.
4I Myself will go down with you to Egypt and I Myself will also most certainly bring you up. Joseph will put his hands on your eyes.”
5Then Jacob arose from Beersheba and Israel’s sons carried Jacob their father, their little children, and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to carry him.
6They also took their livestock and their possessions they had acquired in the land of Canaan and they came to Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him.
7His sons and his grandsons with him, his daughters and his granddaughters, and all his offspring, he brought with him to Egypt.
8Now these are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Jacob’s firstborn, Reuben,
9and Reuben’s sons: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron and Carmi.
10Simeon’s sons: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zochar and Shaul the son of the Canaanite woman.
11Levi’s sons: Gershon, Kohath and Merari.
12Judah’s sons: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah. Er died along with Onan in the land of Canaan. Perez’s sons were Hezron and Hamul.
13Issachar’s sons: Tola, Puvah, Iob and Shimron.
14Zebulun’s sons: Sered, Elon and Jahleel.
15These are Leah’s sons whom she bore to Jacob in Paddan-aram, along with his daughter Dinah. The tally of all of his sons and daughters was 33 people.
16Gad’s sons: Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli.
17Asher’s sons: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, and Serah their sister. Beriah’s sons: Heber and Malchiel.
18These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter. She bore these to Jacob: 16 people.
19The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.
20Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph in the land of Egypt—Asenath the daughter of Potiphera priest of On bore them to him.
21Benjamin’s sons: Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard.
22These are Rachel’s sons who were born to Jacob. The tally of all the people was 14.
23The sons of Dan: Hushim
24Naphtali’s sons: Yachzeel, Guni, Yezer and Shillem.
25These are the sons of Bilhah whom Laban gave to Rachel his daughter and she bore these to Jacob. The tally of all the people was seven.
26All the people belonging to Jacob who came to Egypt—those coming from his loins (not counting the wives of Jacob’s sons)—the tally of all the people was 66.
27The sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt was a tally of two people. The tally of all the people belonging to Jacob’s house who came to Egypt was 70.
28Now he sent Judah before him to Joseph to show him the way to Goshen. When they came to the land of Goshen,
29Joseph harnessed his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as he appeared before him, he fell upon his neck, and wept on his neck for some time.
30Then Israel said to Joseph, “At this time I am ready to die, after seeing your face in person—for you’re still alive!”
31Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I’ll go up and tell Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household who were in the land of Canaan have come to me.
32The men are shepherds, for they’ve been men who handle livestock, who have brought their flocks and cattle and everything that they possess.’
33So when Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’
34you must say, ‘Your servants have been men who handle livestock since the time of our youth until now, both we and our fathers,’ so that you can live in the land of Goshen, because every shepherd is loathsome to the Egyptians.”
–from Genesis 46

All the training from his father prepared him for what was ahead! All the adversity enable him to be a humble leader who could serve them through the tough times. And his faithfulness to God’s calling on his life.

Jacob Blesses Pharaoh

1Then Joseph came and informed Pharaoh, “My father and my brothers and their flocks and their cattle and everything that belongs to them have come from the land of Canaan, and behold, they are in the land of Goshen.”
2From among his brothers he took five men and presented them before Pharaoh.
3Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?” So they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, both we and our fathers.”
4Then they said to Pharaoh, “We came to dwell temporarily in the land, since there is no pasture for the flocks that belong to your servants, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. So now, please let your servants live in the land of Goshen.”
5Pharaoh said to Joseph saying, “Your father and your brothers came to you.
6The land of Egypt is before you—settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in the land of Goshen. If you know of any capable men among them, make them overseers of the livestock—over those that are mine.”
7Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.
8 Pharaoh asked Jacob, “How many days are the years of your life?”
9Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourn are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life. Moreover, the days of the years of my life have not attained the days of the years of the lives of my fathers, in the days of their sojourn.”
10And Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from Pharaoh’s presence.
11Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them property in the land of Egypt, in the best part of the land, in the land of Rameses, just as Pharaoh commanded.
12And Joseph supported his father and his brothers and his father’s entire household with food for the mouths of the little ones.

Joseph’s Leadership in the Famine

13Now there was no food in all the land because the famine was very severe. Both the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine.
14Joseph collected all the money that could be found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan for the grain that they bought, and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.
15Then the money of the land of Egypt and of the land of Canaan ran out and all of Egypt came to Joseph saying, “Give us food. Why should we die in front of you because the money is gone?”
16Joseph said, “Give your livestock and I’ll give it to you for your livestock, if the money is gone.”
17So they brought their livestock to Joseph and Joseph gave them food in exchange for horses, for flocks of sheep, for herds of cattle and for donkeys. He provided them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year.
18When that year came to an end, they came to him in the second year and said to him, “We won’t hide from my lord that the money has run out and the livestock and the domestic animals are my lord’s. There is nothing left in my lord’s sight except our bodies and our land.
19Why should we die before your eyes—both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food—we and our land will become Pharaoh’s slaves. Provide seed so that we may live and not die, and the land won’t be deserted.”
20So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh because the Egyptians, each one, sold his field, for the famine overcame them. Thus the land became Pharaoh’s.
21He made the people slaves from one end of Egypt’s border to the other.
22Only he did not buy the land belonging to the priests, because the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh, and they ate their allotment that Pharaoh gave them. Therefore they did not sell their land.
23Then Joseph said to the people, “Behold, I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh. Here is seed for you, so that you can sow the land.
24During the harvest you must give a fifth part to Pharaoh and four-fifths will be for you, for seed for the field and for your food, and for those in your houses, and for food for your little ones.”
25“You’ve saved our lives,” they said. “We find favor in the eyes of my lord, and we’ll be Pharaoh’s slaves.”
26So Joseph set it as a statute until this very day concerning the land of Egypt: a fifth-part goes to Pharaoh. Only the priests’ land did not become Pharaoh’s.
27Meanwhile, Israel settled in the land of Egypt in the land of Goshen, acquired property in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly.

Joseph’s Promise to Jacob

28Now Jacob lived in the land of Egypt for 17 years, so the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were 147 years.
29As the time of Israel’s death drew near, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please put your hand under my thigh and show me faithful kindness. Please do not bury me in Egypt.
30When I lie down with my fathers, you must carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.” So he said, “I myself will do according to your word.”
31“Swear to me,” he said. So he swore to him. Then Israel bowed down in worship on the head of his staff.
–from Genesis 47

I reflect on this and how the power of forgiveness allowed me to step out of the adversity and even though the situation hadn’t changed, walk in joy and then be able to see where God would have me go next. I reflect on this and how the power of forgiveness allowed me to step into the lives of those around me and share the hope that was within me thanks to Jesus’ love and sacrifice to get us forgiven and how forgiveness is the key to true freedom!

So will you testify to who you were? Will you testify to your encounter with Jesus? Will you testify to the transformation that took place thanks to the encounter?

Today’s reading continues into Acts where Paul is speaking…

Paul’s Testimony on the Temple Stairs

1“Brothers and fathers, listen to my defense which I now present to you.”
2When they heard that Paul was addressing them in Aramaic, they became even more quiet. Then he said,
3“I am a Jewish man, born in Tarsus of Cilicia but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, trained strictly according to the Torah of our fathers, being zealous for God just as all of you are today.
4I persecuted this Way to the death, arresting both men and women and throwing them in prisons—
5as the kohen gadol and all the council of elders can testify about me. I also received letters from them to the brothers, and I went to Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem even those who were there in chains—to be punished.
6“But it happened that as I was traveling and drawing near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly flashed all around me.
7I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?’
8“I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “He said to me, ‘I am Yeshua ha-Natzrati, whom you are persecuting.’
9“Now those who were with me saw the light, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me.
10So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ “And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up, and go to Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been appointed to do.’
11“But since I could not see because of the brilliance of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus.
12Then a certain Ananias—a devout man according to the Torah, well spoken of by all the Jewish people living there—
13came to me. Standing before me, he said to me, ‘Brother Saul, look up!’ In that very moment, I looked and saw him!
14“And he said, ‘The God of our fathers handpicked you to know His will—to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth.
15For you will be a witness for Him to all people of what you have seen and heard.
16Now why are you waiting? Get up and be immersed, and wash away your sins, calling on His Name.’
17“It happened that when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the Temple, I fell into a trance;
18and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Hurry! Get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your witness about Me.’
19“And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another, I was imprisoning and beating those trusting in You.
20Even when the blood of Your witness Stephen was spilled, I too was standing by and approving, and guarding the clothing of those who were killing him.’
21“And he said to me, ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”
22Up to this statement they listened to him. Then they raised their voices, saying, “Away from the earth with this fellow! For he’s not fit to live!”

The Romans Intervene

23As they were crying out and flinging off their cloaks and throwing dust into the air,
24the commander ordered Paul to be brought into headquarters. He said Paul should be examined by lashing, so that he might find out why they were shouting against him so.
25But when they stretched him out with straps, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to scourge a man who is a Roman citizen without due process?”
26Now when the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it, saying, “What are you going to do? For this man is Roman.”
27The commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you Roman?” And he said, “Yes.”
28The commander answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I was born so.”
29Therefore, those who were about to interrogate him instantly drew back from him. And the commander also was afraid when he found out that Paul was a Roman and that he had bound him.

Delivered to the Council

30But on the next day, desiring to know exactly why Paul had been accused by the Judeans, he released him and commanded the ruling kohanim and all the Sanhedrin to meet together. And he brought Paul and set him before them.
–from Acts 22

Do you remember your encounter? I remember the aha moment when I realized it wasn’t about routine and rituals, that it was all about a relationship with Jesus! I was 30. I had gone to church on and off growing up with my grandmother or my parents from time to time. I had the drawing to go through the confirmation process while I was at university and when I went home to work, I went through the class and was confirmed Christmas eve, but somehow through all of that missed the truth about it being relational. But when that realization took place, I consider it the jetpack experience with God! What He did in me and through me blew me away. I was baptized in water. I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I went through Cleansing Stream. I learned so much through Bible studies. He called me into men’s ministry and worship and arts – tech and acting. Wow. It’s not just going through the motions, it’s actually a daily relationship with God! It’s allowed me to raise my children to know not just about Jesus but to live by example knowing Jesus. It was an incredible blessing as God touched both my heart and my wife’s heart at the same time. Wow! God is good!

Today’s reading concludes in Matthew where Jesus is being questioned and He in turns raises the question about putting routine and rituals above relationship.

Religious Leaders Quiz Yeshua

1Then some Pharisees and Torah scholars came to Yeshua from Jerusalem. They said,
2“Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not do the ritual handwashing when they eat bread.”
3And answering, He said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
4For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death.’
5But you say, ‘Whoever tells his father or mother, “Whatever you might have gained from me is a gift to God,”
6he need not honor his father.’ On account of your tradition, you made void the word of God.
7Hypocrites! Rightly did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying,
8‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
9And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
10Then Yeshua called the crowd and said to them, “Hear and understand.
11It’s not what goes into the mouth that makes the man unholy; but what comes out of the mouth, this makes the man unholy.”
12Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard this saying?”
13But He replied, “Every plant that My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.
14Leave them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
15Then Peter answered and said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.”
16“Are you also still lacking understanding?” Yeshua said.
17“Don’t you grasp that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and then is ejected into the sewer?
18But the things that proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and those things make the man unholy.
19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, and slander.
20These are the things that make the man unholy; but to eat with unwashed hands does not make the man unholy.”

A Reward for a Humble Woman

21Now Yeshua left from there and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
22And behold, a Canaanite woman from that district came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, O Master, Ben-David! My daughter is severely tormented by a demon.”
23But He did not answer her a word. And when His disciples came, they were urging Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.”
24But He responded, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
25So she came and got down on her knees before Him, saying, “Master, help me!”
26And answering, He said, “It’s not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
27But she said, “Yes, Master, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
28Then answering, Yeshua said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed in that very hour.
29After Yeshua left there, He went along the Sea of Galilee. Then He went up on a mountainside and was sitting there.
30And large crowds came to Him, bringing with them the lame, blind, disabled, mute, and many others. And they laid them at His feet, and He healed them.
31So the crowd marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the disabled made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

Feeding More Hungry Followers

32Yeshua called His disciples and said, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they’ve stayed with Me for three days now and have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, because they might pass out on the way.”
33The disciples said to Him, “Where in this wasteland is enough bread to satisfy such a large crowd?”
34Yeshua said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they said, “and a few small fish.”
35After directing the crowd to recline on the ground,
36He took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks, He broke them. And He began giving them to the disciples, and the disciples to the crowds.
37And they all ate and were satisfied. And they picked up the broken pieces left over—seven baskets full.
38And those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.
39And after sending away the crowds, Yeshua got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.
–from Matthew 15

So let’s make sure what we store in our hearts is good and pure for what comes out of our mouths is the overflow of our hearts! Lord create in me a new heart, a pure heart, so that the words that come out of my mouth are words that will praise You and glorify You! Help me Lord to be speaking the truth in love! Not just the truth and not just love, breaking down the walls of pride to be able to speak in truth and love! Let’s allow God to take what we have and use it for His purposes!