Do you know the difference between right and wrong? Do you know what is hard than knowing what is right? Doing what is right!
What is your source of truth? Is your source of truth dependable? Does it change or fluctuate? If it fluctuates, how can you be sure if it is right, right now? Don’t you need something that doesn’t change in order to know if something is right? Don’t you need a source that doesn’t ebb and flow, but rather is solid and steady? How can things be relative and still be able to help you know if things are right or wrong?
With the fact that the truth will set you free, it points to the fact that to be set free, we need to know what is right! What is just! What is dependable!
Where do you get a set of standards to be able to measure against? Are standards in place to help make things better or worse? If better then why would anyone try to lower standards rather than trying to raise them?
What about average? Is the goal to raise the average or lower it? I would hope to raise it which helps everyone get better! The average shows that everyone or at least the majority of the group is getting better. When you consider it as a grade, like in school, you can only get 100% as a max right and so with 30 kids, if the average is 70% what does that mean for the rest of the class. Even if we consider the largest extremes where the upper part of the class gets 100% each that would mean 21 out of 30 get 100% and 9 out of 30 get 0%. Now if we set priorities so that we raise to the average just 1% what would that mean? At least 1 would have to go from being a 0% to something higher right? Mathematically we would need to add 30 points to the class … either 1 student goes from 0% to 30% or even better those 9 students split the 30% between them, raising the average. Now imagine if we only wanted to raise the average 5%, then we would find worst case scenario 5 of the students get 30% and the other 4 stay at 0%. Now that would be under the assumption that those 21 students kept doing their best and didn’t feel the need to stop trying and not caring about the mood or attitude in the class. It would mean the class as a whole was improving and this is based on using an extreme example. We know that that in a class of 30 it would be rare that 21 of them would get 100% and 9 would get 0% from our first example. So if we reduce the upper end down to 90% in these two scenarios let’s see what the numbers show. Well with the 90% vs 0% it would mean that 24 out of 30 get 90% (which actually adds up to 72% since we can’t have a half a studen. 23 out of 30 gets us close to 70% with a 69% but with the goal of 70% we need 24 students). So to get to 75% with those existing 24 students unchanged, it would mean to get that extra 3% we need to get a lift of 90 points across the remaining 6 students.
So how will we choose to live? Will we choose to live a life that raises the average? Will we choose to raise the bar in hopes that more people will step up and stand for what is right? Will we use a standard that is unchanging? Will we use a standard that is just? Knowing what is right, will that help set the tone and the temperature for society so that the average keeps going up?
Do you realize there is a standard? Do you realize it hasn’t changed in centuries? If we consider the first book ever printed using a printing press in the 1450’s happened to be the standard, it means it’s been around for quite a while.
When was the first Bible printed?
Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1450’s, and the first book to ever be printed was a Latin language Bible, printed in Mainz, Germany. Gutenberg’s Bibles were surprisingly beautiful, as each leaf Gutenberg printed was later colorfully hand-illuminated.
If we consider the best selling book of all time, it points to this same standard. Guinness put the Bible as the #1 non-fiction book.
So what your thoughts around raising the bar? What is your thought on raising the average? What is your thoughts on having standards to make things better? What do you think it is going to take for things to get better? Can’t we start living in a way to make good better and better best? What is your thought on having a reliable source of truth? What is your thought on knowing what is right? What is your thought on doing what is right?
Let’s turn back to God! Let’s point people back to God! Let’s help the world know what is right! Let’s help the world to do what is right!
Today’s reading begins in 2 Kings…
1In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of King Jotham of Judah, began to reign. 2Ahaz was 20 years old when he began to reign, and he reigned 16 years in Jerusalem. But he did not do what was right in the eyes of Adonai his God, as his father David had done. 3Instead he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and even made his son pass through the fire, like the abominations of the nations whom Adonai had dispossessed before Bnei-Yisrael. 4He offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every leafy tree. 5Then King Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of King Remaliah of Israel marched against Jerusalem to wage war. They besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. 6At that time King Rezin of Aram recovered Elath for Aram, and drove the Jews out of Elath. Then the Edomites came to Elath and settled there to this day. 7So Ahaz sent messengers to King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up and deliver me from the hand of the king of Aram and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are rising up against me.” 8Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the House of Adonai and in the treasuries of the royal palace, and sent them as a present to the king of Assyria. 9So the king of Assyria responded to him. The king of Assyria marched up against Damascus and captured it, and deported its inhabitants as captives to Kir and put Rezin to death.
Ahaz Remodels the Temple
10Then King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria and saw the altar that was at Damascus. So King Ahaz sent to Urijah the kohen the pattern of the altar and its model needed for its construction. 11Then Urijah the kohen built an altar according to all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus, and Urijah the kohen finished it by the time King Ahaz returned from Damascus. 12When the king came back from Damascus and saw the altar, the king approached the altar and went up to it. 13Then he burned his burnt offering and his grain offering, poured his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his fellowship offerings on the altar. 14As for the bronze altar that was before Adonai, he moved it from the forefront of the House, from between his altar and the House of Adonai, and put it on the north side of his own altar. 15Then King Ahaz commanded Urijah the kohen saying, “Upon the great altar you will burn the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering, the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land and their grain offering and their drink offering. Also sprinkle on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifices. But the bronze altar will be for me to inquire by.” 16Thus Urijah the kohen did everything just as King Ahaz commanded. 17Then King Ahaz cut off the borders of the stands and removed the laver from them. He also took down the sea from the bronze oxen that were under it and put it on a stone pavement. 18The covered passageway for Shabbat that they had built in the House as well as the outer entry for the king, he removed from the House of Adonai, because of the king of Assyria. 19Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 20Then Ahaz slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. Then his son Hezekiah became king in his place.
–from 2 Kings 16
Ever heard people use the word sin? Do you know where that comes from? Do you realize it is an old English archery term that means to miss the mark? If you don’t hit the bullseye then you missed the mark. So when people use it to talk about ways people have missed the mark, we need to realize that we have all sinned! We have all missed the mark! It’s not about how much, it’s not about in what way, it’s about the fact that we have! So let’s be encouraging to others! Let’s be peacemakers!
Ahaz’s Sin in the Valley of Ben-hinnom
1Ahaz was 20 years old when he became king, and he reigned 16 years in Jerusalem. But he did not do what was right in the eyes of Adonai as his father David had done, 2but followed the ways of the kings of Israel, and even made molten images for the Baalim. 3Moreover, he burned incense in the valley of Ben-hinnom and burned his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom Adonai had driven out before Bnei-Yisrael. 4He offered sacrifices and burned incense in the high places, on the hills and under every leafy tree. 5Therefore Adonai his God gave him into the hand of the king of Aram who defeated him and took away from him many prisoners and brought them to Damascus. He was also given into the hand of the king of Israel, who inflicted many casualties on him. 6In one day, Pekah the son of Remaliah killed 120,000 valiant soldiers of Judah—because they had forsaken Adonai, the God of their fathers.
Mercy Shown to Judah’s Captives
7Also Zichri, a warrior from Ephraim, killed Maaseiah the king’s son, Azrikam the official in charge of the palace and Elkanah the second to the king. 8Men of Israel carried away captive 200,000 of their kinsmen, women, sons and daughters. They also took away a great deal of plunder from them that they brought to Samaria. 9But a prophet of Adonai named Oded was there and he went out to meet the army on its return to Samaria. He said to them, “Behold, because Adonai, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, He has given them into your hand and you have slaughtered them in a rage that reaches to heaven. 10So now you intend to bring into bondage the children of Judah and Jerusalem as your male and female slaves? Are you not also guilty of transgressions against Adonai your God? 11So now, listen to me. Send back the prisoners you have captured from your kinsmen—for the fierce wrath of Adonai is upon you!” 12Then some of the leaders of the sons of Ephraim—Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berechiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai—confronted those coming from the campaign, 13and said to them, “Do not bring the captives in here, for that would cause us to trespass against Adonai. Do you intend to add to our sins and our guilt? For our guilt is already great, and his fierce anger is already against Israel.” 14So the soldiers released the captives and the plunder in the presence of the chieftains and the entire congregation. 15Then the men designated by name stood up and took the captives, and they clothed all who were naked from the plunder. They gave them clothes and sandals, food and drink, anointed them, led all the feeble ones on donkeys, and brought them back to their kinsmen at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.
Ahaz Leads Judah Into Idolatry
16About that time King Ahaz sent to the kings of Assyria for help. 17Once again the Edomites had come and invaded Judah and taken captives, 18while the Philistines had raided the towns in the foothills and in the South of Judah. They captured and occupied Beth-shemesh, Aijalon and Gederot, as well as Soho, Timnah and Gimzo with their villages. 19For Adonai humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he threw off restraint in Judah and trespassed against Adonai. 20Tilgat-pilneser king of Assyria came against him and afflicted him instead of strengthening him— 21even though Ahaz plundered the House of Adonai, the house of the king and the princes, and gave it to the king of Assyria—it did not help him. 22In his time of distress, this same King Ahaz acted even more unfaithfully to Adonai. 23He even sacrificed to the gods of Damascus after he had been defeated, for he said, “Because the gods of the kings of Aram helped them, I will sacrifice to them and they will help me.” But they caused the downfall of him and all Israel. 24Ahaz even collected the utensils of the House of God and cut the utensils of the House of God into pieces. He shut the doors of the House of Adonai and made himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. 25In every town of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods—provoking Adonai, the God of his fathers. 26Now the rest of his acts and all his ways, the first and the last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 27Then Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of Jerusalem, but he was not brought into the tombs of the kings of Israel. Hezekiah his son became king in his place.
–from 2 Chronicles 28
So will you praise God? Will you praise His Word? Will you praise His grace? Will you praise Him all the time?
From the Rising of the Sun
1Halleluyah! Praise, O servants of Adonai, praise the Name of Adonai. 2Blessed be the Name of Adonai from now and forever. 3From the rising of the sun to its going down the Name of Adonai is to be praised. 4Adonai is high above all nations, His glory is above the heavens. 5Who is like Adonai our God, enthroned on high, 6who brings Himself down to look upon heaven and upon earth? 7He raises the poor from the dust, lifts up the needy out of the dunghill, 8to seat him with princes, with the princes of His people. 9He settles the barren woman in her home as a joyful mother of children. Halleluyah!
.–from Psalms 113
Let’s turn to Jesus! Let’s allow Him to be our leader! Let’s follow after Him and His example so that we can help raise the bar as He has called us to do! He took the law and raised the bar on expectations! Let’s live out the life God created us to live! Let’s go beyond knowing what is right and start living and doing what is right! When you aren’t sure, call out to Jesus! Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment! Read God’s Word!
The Way to the Father’s House
1“Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. 2In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you may also be. 4And you know the way to where I am going.” 5Thomas said to Him, “Master, we don’t know where You are going. How can we know the way?” 6Yeshua said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life! No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7If you have come to know Me, you will know My Father also. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.” 8Philip said to Him, “Master, show us the Father, and it is enough for us. 9Yeshua said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time, and you haven’t come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I say to you, I do not speak on My own; but the Father dwelling in Me does His works. 11Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me—or at least believe because of the works themselves. 12“Amen, amen I tell you, he who puts his trust in Me, the works that I do he will do; and greater than these he will do, because I am going to the Father. 13And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”
The Believer’s Helper
15“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 16I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper so He may be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him. You know Him, because He abides with you and will be in you. 18I will not abandon you as orphans; I will come to you. 19In a little while, the world will no longer behold Me, but you will behold Me. Because I live, you also will live! 20“In that day, you will know that I am in My Father, you are in Me, and I am in you. 21He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.” 22Judah (not the one from Kriot) said to Him, “Master, what has happened, that You are about to reveal Yourself to us and not the world?” 23Yeshua answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling with him. 24He who does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. 25These things I have spoken to you while dwelling with you. 26But the Helper, the Ruach ha-Kodesh whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything and remind you of everything that I said to you. 27“Shalom I leave you, My shalom I give to you; but not as the world gives! Do not let your heart be troubled or afraid. 28You’ve heard Me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29I have told you now before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe! 30“I will not talk with you much longer, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has nothing on Me. 31But in order that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. “Get up, let’s go from here!”
–from John 14
So are there ways to help us to do what is right? Do you realize we can turn to God’s love letter to us for help? Do you realize that God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths?
Counsel About Marriage
1Now concerning the things about which you wrote to me, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2But because of much immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3Let the husband fulfill his obligation to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4The wife does not have the rights to her own body, but the husband. Likewise also the husband does not have the rights to his own body, but the wife. 5Do not deprive one another—except by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again, so that satan doesn’t tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6But this I say as a concession, not as a command. 7Yet I wish that all men were like me. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this way and another that. 8But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them to remain as I am. 9But if they do not have self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with desire. 10But to the married I command—not I, but the Lord—a wife is not to be separated from her husband 11(but if she gets separated, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband is not to divorce his wife. 12But to the rest I say—I, not the Lord—if any brother has a wife who is not a believer, and she agrees to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if any woman has a husband who is not a believer, and he agrees to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband is made holy through the wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15But if the unbeliever separates, let him be separated. The brother or the sister is not bound in such cases, but God has called you to shalom. 16For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
Remain As You Were Called
17Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, let him walk in this way. I give this rule in all of Messiah’s communities. 18Was anyone called when he already had been circumcised? Let him not make himself uncircumcised. Has anyone been called while uncircumcised? Let him not allow himself to be circumcised. 19Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing—but keeping God’s commandments matters. 20Let each one remain in the calling in which he was called. 21Were you called as a slave? Don’t let that bother you—but if indeed you can become free, make the most of the opportunity. 22For the one who was called in the Lord as a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise the one who was called while free is Messiah’s slave. 23You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24Brothers and sisters, let each one—in whatever way he was called—remain that way with God. 25Now concerning virgins I have no command from the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26I think then, because of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27Are you bound to a wife? Don’t seek a divorce. Are you free from a wife? Don’t seek a wife. 28But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such people will have trouble in this fleshly life, and I am trying to spare you. 29But this I say, brothers and sisters—the time is short. From now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; 30and those who weep, as though not weeping; and those who rejoice, as though not rejoicing; and those who buy, as though not possessing; 31and those who use the world, as though not using it to the fullest. For the present form of this world is passing away. 32But I want you to be free from cares. An unmarried man cares about the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord; 33but the married man cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife— 34and he is divided. The unmarried woman, as well as the virgin, cares about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But the married woman cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. 35Now I say this for your own benefit—not to put a restraint on you, but to promote proper and constant service to the Lord without distraction. 36But if any man thinks that he is behaving inappropriately toward his virgin, if the time is ripe and it is meant to be, let him do what he decides. He does not sin. Let them marry. 37But he who stands firm in his heart—who has no pressure, but has power over his own will and has so determined in his own heart to keep her a virgin—he will do well. 38So then both he who marries the virgin does well, and he who doesn’t marry her does better. 39A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is free to be married to anyone she wishes—only in the Lord. 40But in my judgment she is happier if she stays as she is—and I also think that I have the Ruach Elohim.
–from 1 Corinthians 7