Category Archives: Stewardship

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Know it all…


He was there in the beginning! He will be there in the in end! He knows everything about us and loves us! His love is so great that knowing the end He intervened by sending Jesus to be the one to help reconcile us back to Him! He knows the beginning and the end! He is the alpha(Alpha) and the omega(Image result for upper case omega symbol)!

God know the beginning and the end! God shares with us through His Word the how and the who! It gives us insight into Jesus’ return! It is not for us to know the time but it is for us to be prepared! We don’t want to be like the 10 bridesmaids or virgins as they are referenced in Matthew 25 in different translations, we want to be prepared…

Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids

25 “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’

“All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’

“But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’

12 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’

13 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.

–from Matthew 25

We don’t want to be like the person who were given responsibility and wasn’t a good steward…

Parable of the Three Servants

14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.

16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.

19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’

21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’

23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’

26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate,27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’

28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

–from Matthew 25

Let’s be prepared! Let’s be good stewards of the gifts God has given us! He is coming back! We need to be prepared and we need to be investing and pouring out our lives into the world around us as we overflow from all that God pours into us!

The Final Judgment

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nationswill be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

–from Matthew 25

To be considered righteous we need to receive Jesus! We are told in the Bible that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and that no one comes to the Father except thru Him! So we need to turn back to God and receive the give of Jesus Christ into our lives and then to prepare and pursue Him being a good steward of every good and perfect gift that comes from God so that on that day when He does return that we will be prepared and finish the race of our life strong hearing, well done my good and faithful servant! So accept Jesus today into your heart as your Lord and Savior! Start the transformation of being born again! And pursue after Him each day for the rest of your life!


The Beginning and the End — Day 365: Bible In One Year 2018

  1. Begin and end with worship … Psalm 150
    • Today’s reading shows us this pattern. Did you realize that the Lord’s prayer does too? We start by praising God and lifting Him up! We close lifting up Him and His power and His kingdom while giving Him the glory!
    • The Lord's Prayer

    • So let’s worship God – living out our lives as living sacrifices …
      • The book of Psalms ends with ‘Hallelujah’, translated here ‘Praise the Lord’ (Psalm 150:6b). Psalm 150 itself begins and ends with ‘Hallelujah’ (‘Praise the Lord’, vv.1,6). All of us are called to worship: ‘Let every living, breathing creature praise God!’ (v.6, MSG).

        Worship everywhere

        The worship of God should fill the universe: ‘Praise God in his holy house of worship, praise him under the open skies’ (v.1b, MSG).

        Worship him for everything

        Praise God for who he is (‘his surpassing greatness’) and what he has done (‘his acts of power’, v.2).

        Worship in every way

        Praise God with everything you have, including every type of music and dancing (vv.3–5).

        –from Day 365: Bible In One Year 2018

  2. Begin and end with Jesus … Revelation 22
    • Jesus will be there in the end and He was there in the beginning!
    • It will be all about Jesus in the end!
    • The Bible is a love letter from God! It’s an invitation to Jesus! Will you receive it? Will you accept it? Will you participate in it? The choice is yours!
  3. Begin and end with love … Nehemiah 13
    • The Bible being a love letter from God begins and ends with love! As does today’s reading from Nehemiah.
    • So let’s receive it! Let’s overflow with it! Let’s share it with the world around us!

Revelation 22: Take hold of the closing from God’s Word…

1Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.
3No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. 4And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. 5And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.
6Then the angel said to me, “Everything you have heard and seen is trustworthy and true. The Lord God, who inspires his prophets, has sent his angel to tell his servants what will happen soon.”

Jesus Is Coming

7“Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.”

8I, John, am the one who heard and saw all these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. 9But he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!”
10Then he instructed me, “Do not seal up the prophetic words in this book, for the time is near. 11Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.”

12“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. 13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

14Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. 15Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.

16“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne.”

17The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. 18And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. 19And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.
20He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!”
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
21May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.

–Revelation 22

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Good Steward - Multiplication

Money isn’t bad. The love of money is the root of all evil!


So do you know how to handle money? Do you know how to be a good steward? Do you think you own it? Do you consider it God’s money and try to be a good steward of it? Has God provided you with money so that you are able to be a funding source for His good works? How do you decide how much to save? to spend? to give? Do you always take away from consideration the tithe and give that 10% to God and then work within the 90%?

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

–from Timothy 6

Ever considered how many people who win the lottery end up back where they started or worth? If you don’t know how to handle money when you have a little will it change if you win a lot? If you don’t have the right perspective on money and your role as a steward then you won’t handle a large amount any better than a small amount. After asking the first question in this paragraph figured I would do a search and the first link called out that 70% of the people who win the lottery end up bankrupt. Ever realized how many people can’t handle the wealth and end up dying? Imagine the stress… Imagine the trust issues… Imagine the pressure of everyone who may start knocking on your door… Imagine your own desires and how responding to them could impact you… Some think that money will make them happy but the reality is we need to be able to be content in every situation! You’ve heard the song, Money can’t buy you love right? Money won’t buy you salvation because Jesus already paid it all! Without the wisdom to know how best to handle money and how to prioritize your management of it money will come and go and you won’t know where it went.

Why not take time now in whatever state you are in to learn how to be a good steward of your money in order to use ir properly? Why not turn to God’s Word and consider how you are doing when it comes to honoring Him and being obedient to Him? Obedience is better than offering! And it isn’t about the size of the offering but the heart behind it! Are you giving out of your excess or out of your need? Consider the widow’s mites and how it was valued higher than others!

So let’s turn to God to learn how we handle our money! God’s Word is filled with incredible wisdom! Jesus even speaks about money and finances! So why not go to the one who is the answer to everything else and give it up and hear from Him how to handle our money?


How to Handle Money — Day 360: Bible In One Year

Today’s devotional starts in proverbs on the topic of Prioritise relationships above money (Proverbs 31:10-20):

10Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
11Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
12She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

13She finds wool and flax
and busily spins it.
14She is like a merchant’s ship,
bringing her food from afar.
15She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

16She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17She is energetic and strong,
a hard worker.
18She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
her lamp burns late into the night.

19Her hands are busy spinning thread,
her fingers twisting fiber.
20She extends a helping hand to the poor
and opens her arms to the needy.

–from Proverbs 31

With the 3 key points from our devotional:

As John Wesley said, ‘Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.’

‘Earn all you can’

She is hardworking and diligent in earning a living: ‘She gets up early and provides food for her family’ (vv.12–15a). She is a good steward. She invests her money wisely. She trades profitably (vv.16–18a).

‘Save all you can’

She enjoys her work and the good things of life (v.13). She saves some of her earnings. She puts money aside (v.16, MSG).

‘Give all you can’

She is generous. ‘She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy’ (v.20). Generous giving is the appropriate response to God’s generosity and to the needs of others. It is the way to break materialism.

–from Day 360: Bible In One Year 2018

Continues into Do not put your trust in money (Revelation 18:1-17)

1After all this I saw another angel come down from heaven with great authority, and the earth grew bright with his splendor. 2He gave a mighty shout:

“Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen!
She has become a home for demons.
She is a hideout for every foul18:2a Greek unclean; also in each of the two following phrases. spirit,
a hideout for every foul vulture
and every foul and dreadful animal.18:2b Some manuscripts condense the last two lines to read a hideout for every foul [unclean] and dreadful vulture.
3For all the nations have fallen18:3 Some manuscripts read have drunk.
because of the wine of her passionate immorality.
The kings of the world
have committed adultery with her.
Because of her desires for extravagant luxury,
the merchants of the world have grown rich.”

4Then I heard another voice calling from heaven,

“Come away from her, my people.
Do not take part in her sins,
or you will be punished with her.
5For her sins are piled as high as heaven,
and God remembers her evil deeds.
6Do to her as she has done to others.
Double her penalty
She brewed a cup of terror for others,
so brew twice as much
7She glorified herself and lived in luxury,
so match it now with torment and sorrow.
She boasted in her heart,
‘I am queen on my throne.
I am no helpless widow,
and I have no reason to mourn.’
8Therefore, these plagues will overtake her in a single day—
death and mourning and famine.
She will be completely consumed by fire,
for the Lord God who judges her is mighty.”

9And the kings of the world who committed adultery with her and enjoyed her great luxury will mourn for her as they see the smoke rising from her charred remains. 10They will stand at a distance, terrified by her great torment. They will cry out,

“How terrible, how terrible for you,
O Babylon, you great city!
In a single moment
God’s judgment came on you.”

11The merchants of the world will weep and mourn for her, for there is no one left to buy their goods. 12She bought great quantities of gold, silver, jewels, and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet cloth; things made of fragrant thyine wood, ivory goods, and objects made of expensive wood; and bronze, iron, and marble. 13She also bought cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle, sheep, horses, wagons, and bodies—that is, human slaves.

14“The fancy things you loved so much
are gone,” they cry.
“All your luxuries and splendor
are gone forever,
never to be yours again.”

15The merchants who became wealthy by selling her these things will stand at a distance, terrified by her great torment. They will weep and cry out,

16“How terrible, how terrible for that great city!
She was clothed in finest purple and scarlet linens,
decked out with gold and precious stones and pearls!
17In a single moment
all the wealth of the city is gone!”

–from Revelation 18

Take a look around at the world around us and what is taking place in it! Today’s devotional speaks to the truth of money this way…

In the Bible, there is no ban on making money, saving it and enjoying the good things of life. What is warned against is selfish accumulation, an unhealthy obsession with money, or putting your trust in riches. This leads to perpetual insecurity and takes you away from God.

Money is not a neutral, impersonal medium of exchange. Jesus said you cannot serve both God and mammon (Matthew 6:24). ‘Mammon’ was the god of wealth in Carthage. Money has all the characteristics of a god. It seems to offer security, freedom, power, influence, status and prestige. It is capable of inspiring devotion and single-minded preoccupation. Yet, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, ‘Our hearts have room only for one all-embracing devotion, and we can only cleave to one Lord.’

In this passage, John is given a vision of an event that must have seemed inconceivable to his readers – the fall of ‘Babylon the Great’ (Revelation 18:2). In the immediate context, this is a prophecy of an event that will not take place for another 320 years – the overthrow of the Roman Empire in AD 410.

When John was writing, the empire seemed invulnerable. It was at the height of its power. It was enjoying peace and security. Yet, John sees that the characteristics of the city were the seeds of its own downfall.

‘Babylon’ here also represents any power that sets itself up apart from God. John highlights a series of fatal weaknesses that lie behind any society’s downfall:

Rampant evil

‘She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit’ (v.2).

Endemic promiscuity

‘All the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her’ (v.3a).

Excessive luxuries

‘The merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries’ (v.3b, see also v.7 and v.9). It is probably her great riches that led to arrogance (v.7b).

Human trafficking

‘And slaves – their terrible traffic in human lives’ (v.13, MSG). John appears to be pointing out that slaves are not mere carcasses to be bought and sold as property, but are human beings. In this emphatic position at the end of the list (vv.11–13), this is more than just a comment on the slave trade. It is a comment on the whole list of cargoes. It suggests the inhuman brutality, the contempt for human life, on which the whole empire’s prosperity and luxury rested. Today, the resurgence of slavery (it is estimated that there are about 30 million slaves in the world today) and human trafficking points to something desperately wrong with our society.

Riches, splendour and luxury are transient. They come and they go. John warns the people of God not to be contaminated by the sins of Babylon: ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins’ (v.4). The glories of ancient Rome may have long passed, but this challenge and message are as relevant to us today as they were then.

–from Day 360: Bible In One Year 2018

We need to realize that others are looking at us and to us to see how we handle money. As our devotional today puts it, we need to  Set an example in handling money (Nehemiah 5:1-7:3).

Nehemiah Defends the Oppressed

1About this time some of the men and their wives raised a cry of protest against their fellow Jews. 2They were saying, “We have such large families. We need more food to survive.”
3Others said, “We have mortgaged our fields, vineyards, and homes to get food during the famine.”
4And others said, “We have had to borrow money on our fields and vineyards to pay our taxes. 5We belong to the same family as those who are wealthy, and our children are just like theirs. Yet we must sell our children into slavery just to get enough money to live. We have already sold some of our daughters, and we are helpless to do anything about it, for our fields and vineyards are already mortgaged to others.”
6When I heard their complaints, I was very angry. 7After thinking it over, I spoke out against these nobles and officials. I told them, “You are hurting your own relatives by charging interest when they borrow money!” Then I called a public meeting to deal with the problem.
8At the meeting I said to them, “We are doing all we can to redeem our Jewish relatives who have had to sell themselves to pagan foreigners, but you are selling them back into slavery again. How often must we redeem them?” And they had nothing to say in their defense.
9Then I pressed further, “What you are doing is not right! Should you not walk in the fear of our God in order to avoid being mocked by enemy nations? 10I myself, as well as my brothers and my workers, have been lending the people money and grain, but now let us stop this business of charging interest. 11You must restore their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes to them this very day. And repay the interest you charged when you lent them money, grain, new wine, and olive oil.”
12They replied, “We will give back everything and demand nothing more from the people. We will do as you say.” Then I called the priests and made the nobles and officials swear to do what they had promised.
13I shook out the folds of my robe and said, “If you fail to keep your promise, may God shake you like this from your homes and from your property!”
The whole assembly responded, “Amen,” and they praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.
14For the entire twelve years that I was governor of Judah—from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of the reign of King Artaxerxes—neither I nor my officials drew on our official food allowance. 15The former governors, in contrast, had laid heavy burdens on the people, demanding a daily ration of food and wine, besides forty pieces of silver. Even their assistants took advantage of the people. But because I feared God, I did not act that way.
16I also devoted myself to working on the wall and refused to acquire any land. And I required all my servants to spend time working on the wall. 17I asked for nothing, even though I regularly fed 150 Jewish officials at my table, besides all the visitors from other lands! 18The provisions I paid for each day included one ox, six choice sheep or goats, and a large number of poultry. And every ten days we needed a large supply of all kinds of wine. Yet I refused to claim the governor’s food allowance because the people already carried a heavy burden.

19Remember, O my God, all that I have done for these people, and bless me for it.

–from Nehemiah 5

Continued Opposition to Rebuilding

1Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and that no gaps remained—though we had not yet set up the doors in the gates. 2So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono.
But I realized they were plotting to harm me, 3so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?”
4Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply. 5The fifth time, Sanballat’s servant came with an open letter in his hand, 6and this is what it said:

“There is a rumor among the surrounding nations, and Geshem tells me it is true, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel and that is why you are building the wall. According to his reports, you plan to be their king. 7He also reports that you have appointed prophets in Jerusalem to proclaim about you, ‘Look! There is a king in Judah!’
“You can be very sure that this report will get back to the king, so I suggest that you come and talk it over with me.”

8I replied, “There is no truth in any part of your story. You are making up the whole thing.”
9They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination.
10Later I went to visit Shemaiah son of Delaiah and grandson of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home. He said, “Let us meet together inside the Temple of God and bolt the doors shut. Your enemies are coming to kill you tonight.”
11But I replied, “Should someone in my position run from danger? Should someone in my position enter the Temple to save his life? No, I won’t do it!” 12I realized that God had not spoken to him, but that he had uttered this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13They were hoping to intimidate me and make me sin. Then they would be able to accuse and discredit me.

14Remember, O my God, all the evil things that Tobiah and Sanballat have done. And remember Noadiah the prophet and all the prophets like her who have tried to intimidate me.

The Builders Complete the Wall

15So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. 16When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.
17During those fifty-two days, many letters went back and forth between Tobiah and the nobles of Judah. 18For many in Judah had sworn allegiance to him because his father-in-law was Shecaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan was married to the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah. 19They kept telling me about Tobiah’s good deeds, and then they told him everything I said. And Tobiah kept sending threatening letters to intimidate me.

–from Nehemiah 6

1After the wall was finished and I had set up the doors in the gates, the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites were appointed. 2I gave the responsibility of governing Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah, the commander of the fortress, for he was a faithful man who feared God more than most. 3I said to them, “Do not leave the gates open during the hottest part of the day. And even while the gatekeepers are on duty, have them shut and bar the doors. Appoint the residents of Jerusalem to act as guards, everyone on a regular watch. Some will serve at sentry posts and some in front of their own homes.”

–from Nehemiah 7

And the devotional calls out these key points…

Nehemiah was a leader who set a superb example in handling money. Sooner or later, most of us will go through times of financial difficulty and lack of resources, either in our personal lives or in our churches. What do you do in these situations?

Nehemiah was facing such a situation. Some of the people did not have enough food to stay alive (5:2). Others had to mortgage their fields and homes (v.3). Still others had to borrow money to pay their taxes (v.4). What can we learn from Nehemiah’s example?

First, he thought about it very carefully: ‘I pondered… in my mind’ (v.7a). When facing a financial crisis, it is not wise to rush into hasty solutions. It needs careful thought.

Second, he called a meeting (v.7b). Some meetings are at best a waste of time, and at worst counter-productive. However, some meetings are important and necessary. Nehemiah had the wisdom to know the difference between these two kinds of meetings. In chapter 6 he refused to meet with his opponents, despite being asked five times.

However, here Nehemiah calls a meeting. He tells the people that what they are doing is not right. They should not be charging interest. ‘Let the exacting of usury stop!’ (v.10). He orders them to give back the ‘fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the usury you are charging them’ (v.11).

The meeting was successful. ‘“We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say”’ (v.12). The people did as they promised (v.13).

Third, and most important, he set an example in his own life:

Personal integrity

Out of his reverence for God, Nehemiah did not act like the earlier governors who had placed heavy burdens of taxation on the people and allowed their assistants to lord it over them (v.15).

Modest lifestyle

‘Neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor’ (v.14).

No personal gain

‘All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land… I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people’ (vv.16,18).

Generosity to others

‘Furthermore, a hundred and fifty Jews and officials ate at my table, as well as those who came to us from the surrounding nations’ (vv.17–18).

Single-minded hard work

‘I devoted myself to the work on this wall’ (v.16a). He refused to be put off by the threats of his opponents who were trying to frighten him. Instead he prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands’ (6:9).

Nehemiah finished what he had started (v.15). Many people know how to start things. But often they lack what Pippa’s father used to call ‘carry-through’. Nehemiah had the stickability to complete what he had begun.

The success of the project was the perfect answer to the critics: ‘So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realised that this work had been done with the help of our God’ (vv.15–16).

–from Day 360: Bible In One Year 2018

 

Thankful? For? About? Because?


Don’t be useless! Appreciate what you have! Be thankful! What are you thankful for today? What are you thankful about today? What is the reason for your thankfulness?

Will you share it? Will you tell others about it? Will you speak of it?

You don’t want to be cut off from the vine! You want to allow the provision that flows from it to flow into and thru your life! You want to allow the purpose and the plans that flows from it to flow into and thru your life! You want to allow the promises that flows from it to flow into and thru your life! So don’t close up and hold onto it for yourself, but rather pass it along so that you can be used as a conduit to others!

You were created on purpose with a purpose for a purpose! So take that purpose and be useful! Don’t waste what you have been given, but rather take it and be a good steward of it so that you can multiply it and grow it and share it with those around you to the glory of God!

Let’s be faithful with the gifts we have been given! Let’s use them for unselfish purposes! Let’s focus on how we can use it to expand God’s kingdom! Let’s focus on how we can share God’s love with the world around us! Let’s take our thankfulness and share it so that other can also be thankful! Let’s take our joy and pass it on so that others can have joy! Let’s be ambassadors of peace so that others can find peace in the midst of everything going on in their lives! Let’s be faithful so that others can receive the good news and share in the blessings of God in and thru our lives and the life of the church!

Will you have compassion for those around you? Do you see a need? What will you do about it? Are you so focused on yourself that you are missing out on what God has enabled and empowered you to do for others? Will you put your trust in God rather than yourself? Don’t miss out on the truth and the hope so that you also miss out on why you can be thankful! God so loves the world that He sent His one and only Son, so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life! Will you receive the gift of Jesus into your life? Will you accept it with thanksgiving and praise? Will you lift Him up in a way that will give God all the praise, the honor, and the glory?

Don’t waste the gift you have been given! Don’t sell yourself and lose out on the most incredible gift of God! Don’t sell yourself and miss out the reality that you have already been bought for a price when Jesus went to the cross for you. Don’t waste or mutilate the incredible gifts of God and then miss out on the truth, the hope, and the love He has for you. Turn from your wicked ways and turn back to God! Humble yourself and pray! Seek God with all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your soul, and all of your strength! He will then hear from heaven, forgive your sins, and heal your land!

Do you really want to risk the anger of God against you? Do you really want to walk out from underneath His covering? Do you really want to go and try to do it all on your own?

Do you think it would be worth selling your soul and losing out on real life?

Do you think allowing lust and exposure to rob you of God’s real plan and purpose for your life?

Do you think you can trust them more than you could trust God? Do you realize what they are and will do to you?

Don’t be arrogant! Don’t be unconcerned! Instead, help the needy and the poor!

Consider your behavior and your acts for you don’t want to be humiliated!

Let’s conclude and consider how our reading ends today with Galatians 1…

1Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2and all the brothers and sisters with me,

To the churches in Galatia:

3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
No Other Gospel
6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under Godʼs curse! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under Godʼs curse!
10Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Paul Called by God

11I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
13For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15But when God, who set me apart from my motherʼs womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.
18Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 19I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lordʼs brother. 20I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.
21Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24And they praised God because of me.

 


Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 15, 16, Galatians 1

What are you investing in?


Are you investing in something that will last? Are you investing in something that is trustworthy? Are you investing in something that has a good return? Are your investments a sign of good stewardship? Are your investments into things that will last? Are you investments into the right areas?

Investments…what does that mean to you? Time? Money? Effort? People? Property? Stocks? Stuff?

where-will-you-invest-and-spend-effort-time-money

Are you investing in things that will last forever? An example of such an investment is to invest in people – eternal souls. Are you investing in things that will glorify God? An example of such an investment is to be salt and light to the world around you. Another example is to walk in love. Another example is to be sharing the fruits of the spirit. Are you investing in things that will make a difference? Are you building a legacy?

How are you investing your time, energy, and money? 


Today’s reading brings us into Isaiah again which triggered the above questions…ponder them as you read through today’s reading and see what God has to say to you…

No Profit in Casting Idols

1“But now listen, Jacob My servant, Israel, whom I have chosen.” 2Thus says Adonai who made you, and formed you from the womb, who will help you: “Do not fear, Jacob My servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. 3For I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground. I will pour My Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants. 4They will spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams. 5This one will say, ‘I am Adonai’s.’ That one will be called by the name Jacob. Another will write on his hand, ‘Adonai’s’ and will take the name Israel.”

First and Last

6Thus says Adonai, Israel’s King and his Redeemer, Adonai-Tzva’ot: “I am the first, and the last, and there is no God beside Me. 7Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and announce it! Let him arrange it in order for Me— as I established the ancient nation. Let them declare to them what is coming and future events. 8Do not dread or be afraid. Have I not told you and declared it long ago? So you are My witnesses! Is there any God beside Me? Is there any other Rock? I know of none.

Folly of Idols

9Those who fashion idols are empty. Their precious things do not profit. Their witnesses do not see or know, so they will be put to shame. 10Who fashions a god or casts an idol for no profit? 11Behold, all his friends will be ashamed, for the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble. Let them stand up. Let them dread. Let them be put to shame together. 12The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it over the coals, fashioning it with hammers and working it with his strong arm. Yet when he is hungry, his strength fails. When he drinks no water, he gets tired. 13A carpenter stretches out a line; he marks it with a pencil; he shapes it with planes; he marks it with a compass; he shapes it like the figure of a man —like the beauty of a man— so that it may sit in a shrine. 14He chops down cedars for himself, or he takes a cypress or an oak. He lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a pine and rain nourishes it. 15Then it is something for a man to burn. so he takes one of them and warms himself. He also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a god and worships it. He makes an idol and bows before it. 16He burns half of it in the fire. With this half, he eats meat. He roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” 17Yet with the rest he makes a god, his carved image. He falls down before it and worships. He even prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” 18They do not know or understand! For He smeared over their eyes, so they cannot see, and their hearts, so they cannot understand. 19No one reflects in his heart, with no knowledge or discernment to say, “I burned half of it in the fire and I also baked bread on its coals. I roasted meat and ate—and then I make the rest of it an abomination? Should I bow before a block of wood?” 20He is feeding on ashes. A deceived heart has led him astray, so he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, “Isn’t what is in my right hand a fraud?” 21Remember these things, Jacob, and Israel, for you are My servant. I formed you, you are My servant. Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me! 22I have blotted out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” 23Sing, O heavens, for Adonai has done it! Shout, depths of the earth! Break forth into singing, mountains, forest, and every tree in it! For Adonai has redeemed Jacob and will be glorified through Israel. 24Thus says Adonai, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am Adonai, Maker of all things, stretching out the heavens alone, spreading the earth abroad by Myself, 25causing the omens of boasters to fail, making fools of diviners, turning wise men backward and making their knowledge foolish, 26while confirming the word of His servant, fulfilling the counsel of His messengers, saying of Jerusalem, “She will be lived in” and of the cities of Judah, “They will be built, and I will raise up their ruins,” 27while saying to the deep, “Be dry, I will dry up your rivers,” 28while saying of Cyrus, “He is My shepherd, and he shall fulfill all My purpose” while saying to Jerusalem, “You will be built” and to the Temple, “Your foundation will be laid.”

–from Isaiah 44

God knows your name! God knows your every thought! God sees each tear that falls! God hears you when you call! God created you on purpose with purpose for a purpose! So let’s be good stewards of all we have – time, money, effort. Let’s use it to glorify God and point others to Him! Let’s be Jesus with skin on to those who have yet to meet Jesus! Let’s allow the Spirit to work in and thru us for to glory of God! Let’s be strengthen by the Lord to do the work He has prepared in advance for us to do! Let’s keep our eyes on God and the work He has for us to do today! How will we invest our time? Will it make a difference to the people around us? Will their lives be impacted because we are there?

Cyrus the Anointed

1Thus says Adonai to His anointed, Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him, to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him so that gates may not be shut. 2I will go before you and make crooked places straight. I will shatter bronze doors and cut through iron bars. 3I will give you treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, so you may know that I am Adonai, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name. 4For the sake of Jacob My servant, and Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by name, I have given you a title of honor, though you have not known Me. 5I am Adonai—there is no other. Besides Me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not known Me, 6so they may know, from the rising to the setting of the sun, that there is no one besides Me. I am Adonai—there is no other. 7I form light and create darkness. I make shalom and create calamity. I, Adonai, do all these things. 8“Rain down, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds pour down justice. Let the earth open up, let salvation sprout, and righteousness spring up with it. I, Adonai, have created it.” 9Oy , to one who quarrels with his Maker, like a pot among the pots of the earth! Shall the clay say to the potter, “What have you made?” Or does your work say, “It has no handles”? 10Oy , to him who says to his father, “What have you begotten?” Or to a woman, “What have you born?” 11Thus says Adonai, the Holy One of Israel and its Maker, “Ask Me about the things to come upon My children. Then you will commit to Me the work of My hands. 12I made the earth and created man on it. My hands stretched out the heavens and I commanded all their host. 13“I stirred Cyrus up in righteousness and I will level all his roads. He will build My city and set My exiles free, with no price or bribe,” says Adonai-Tzva’ot. 14Thus says Adonai: “Egypt’s toil, Ethiopia’s merchandise, and the tall Sabeans will come over to you and be yours. They will walk behind you in chains. They will bow down to you, and pray, saying, ‘Surely God is with you!’ There is none else— no other God!”

Mystery of Creation

15Truly You are a God who hides Himself, O God of Israel, Savior! 16All of them will be ashamed, disgraced— idol-makers go in dishonor together. 17Israel has been saved by Adonai with an everlasting salvation. You will not be put to shame or disgraced, for ever and ever. 18For thus says Adonai— He is God who fashioned the heavens, who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it desolate but formed it to be inhabited— “I am Adonai—there is no other!” 19“I have not spoken in secret, in a place of a land of darkness. I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in desolation.’ I, Adonai, speak righteousness, declaring uprightly.”

No Other God and Savior

20“Assemble yourselves and come, draw near together, fugitives of the nations! Those who carry their wooden idols have no knowledge, praying to a god who cannot save. 21Declare and present your case, Indeed, let them consult together. Who foretold this from ancient time? Who has declared it of old? Is it not I, Adonai? There is no other God beside Me —a righteous God and a Savior— there is none besides Me! 22Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God—there is no other. 23By Myself I have sworn— the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness, and is irrevocable: that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear. 24They will say of Me, ‘Only in Adonai is righteousness and strength.’ All who have raged against Him will come to Him and be put to shame. 25In Adonai all the seed of Israel will be justified and give praise.”

–from Isaiah 45

Ask the Spirit to fill you up. Ask the Spirit to give you divine appointments today. Ask the Spirit to give you words of encouragement, words of instruction, words of direction so that you can invest into everyone God brings across your path today. Ask the Spirit to give you eyes to see beyond the surface. Ask the Spirit to give you ears to be sensitive to what is really going on so that you can hear it. Ask the Spirit to help you be bold and courageous to not only hear what is being said, but to be able to speak the words He gives you to speak as He did with Peter.

The Ruach Fills the Disciples

1When the day of Shavuot had come, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3And tongues like fire spreading out appeared to them and settled on each one of them. 4They were all filled with the Ruach ha-Kodesh and began to speak in other tongues as the Ruach enabled them to speak out. 5Now Jewish people were staying in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And when this sound came, the crowd gathered. They were bewildered, because each was hearing them speaking in his own language. 7And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “All these who are speaking—aren’t they Galileans? 8How is it that we each hear our own birth language? 9Parthians and Medes and Elamites and those living in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and parts of Libya toward Cyrene, and visitors from Rome 11(both Jewish people and proselytes), Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring in our own tongues the mighty deeds of God!” 12And they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to each other, “What does this mean?” 13Others, poking fun, were saying, “They are full of sweet new wine!”

Peter Speaks to the Shavuot Crowd

14But Peter, standing with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: “Fellow Judeans and all who are staying in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and pay attention to my words. 15These men are not drunk, as you suppose—for it’s only the third hour of the day! 16But this is what was spoken about through the prophet Joel: 17‘And it shall be in the last days,’ says God, ‘that I will pour out My Ruach on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18Even on My slaves, male and female, I will pour out My Ruach in those days, and they shall prophesy. 19And I will give wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth beneath— blood, and fire, and smoky vapor. 20The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and glorious Day of Adonai comes. 21And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of Adonai shall be saved.’ 22“Men of Israel, hear these words! Yeshua ha-Natzrati—a Man authenticated to you by God with mighty deeds and wonders and signs God performed through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23this Yeshua, given over by God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge, nailed to the cross by the hand of lawless men, you killed. 24But God raised Him up, releasing Him from the pains of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held by it. 25For David says about Him, ‘I saw Adonai always before me, for He is at my right hand so that I might not be shaken. 26Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced; moreover, my body also will live in hope, 27because You will not abandon my soul to Sheol or let Your Holy One see decay. 28You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence.’ 29“Brothers, I can confidently tell you that the patriarch David died and was buried—his tomb is with us to this day. 30So because he was a prophet and knew God had sworn with an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne, 31David saw beforehand and spoke of Messiah’s resurrection—that He was not abandoned to Sheol, and His body did not see decay. 32“This Yeshua God raised up—we all are witnesses! 33Therefore, being exalted to the right hand of God and receiving from the Father the promise of the Ruach ha-Kodesh, He poured out this—what you now see and hear. 34For David did not ascend into the heavens; yet he himself says, ‘Adonai said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”’ 36“Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him—this Yeshua whom you had crucified—both Lord and Messiah!”

Teshuvah—Thousands Immersed

37Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the emissaries, “Fellow brethren, what shall we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be immersed in the name of Messiah Yeshua for the removal of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach ha-Kodesh. 39For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far away—as many as Adonai our God calls to Himself.” 40With many other words he warned them and kept urging them, saying, “Save yourselves from this twisted generation!” 41So those who received his message were immersed, and that day about three thousand souls were added.

New Covenant Community Begins

42They were devoting themselves to the teaching of the emissaries and to fellowship, to breaking bread and to prayers. 43Fear lay upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were happening through the emissaries. 44And all who believed were together, having everything in common. 45They began selling their property and possessions and sharing them with all, as any had need. 46Day by day they continued with one mind, spending time at the Temple and breaking bread from house to house. They were sharing meals with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord was adding to their number those being saved.

–from Acts 2

Have you already received Jesus? Have you already asked Jesus for forgiveness and turned back to God? Have you already been baptized in the name of Jesus?

What’s holding you back? It’s worth the investment!

Let’s be looking for the opportunity because God’s Word doesn’t return void and to this very day there are people being saved! How will you be investing into the lives who have received Him? How will you be investing into the lives who are yet to receive Him?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does it take to get your attention?


Ever notice how different people may be oblivious to what is taking place around them? For some they are immediately aware. For some they take a little prodding or poking before they realize there is something going on. For some it takes a monstrous event to get their attention.

Ever noticed how even when some people’s attention has been gotten, it still takes more for them to get or become engaged into the situation? Ever noticed that sometimes people can compartmentalize their life so much that they can ignore certain pieces? Ever found that some may realize but are just looking to escape the situation rather than address it?

What about you? Are you aware of what is going on around you? How crazy do things need to get before you will do something or get involved? Or will you? If you learned today that things were going off the rails, would you do something? How would you respond? What choice would you make? Would you do something before it was too late?

What does it take to get your attention?


Today’s reading continues in Isaiah…

Downfall of Jerusalem and Judah

1For behold! The Lord, Adonai-Tzva’ot, takes from Jerusalem and from Judah supply and support, every supply of bread and every supply of water, 2mighty man and man of war, judge, and prophet, fortune-teller and elder, 3captain of 50 and man of rank, counselor, crafty magician and cunning charmer. 4I will set children as their rulers. Capricious ones will govern them. 5The people will oppress one another— each one by his fellow, each one by his neighbor. The child will be insolent to the aged, and dishonorable to the honorable. 6When a man takes hold of his brother in the house of his father, saying: “You have a cloak, you be our ruler! This ruin is under your charge.” 7In that day he will protest, saying: “I’m no healer! In my house is no bread or cloak. Don’t make me a ruler of people!” 8For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah is fallen. For their tongue and their actions are against Adonai, defying the eyes of His glory. 9The expression of their faces bears witness against them. They display their sin like Sodom— they do not hide it. Oy , their souls! For they brought evil on themselves.

The Judge Arises

10Say to the righteous, he will be well, eating the fruit of their deeds. 11Oy , the wicked! It will be bad for him, for the dealing of his hands will be done to him. 12My people! Children are their oppressors and women rule over them. My people! Your guides mislead you and destroy the way of your paths. 13Adonai arises to contend a case, and stands to judge the people. 14Adonai will enter into judgment with the elders of His people and with the princes: “You have devoured the vineyard. The plunder of the poor is in your houses. 15What do you mean by crushing My people and grinding the face of the poor?” says Adonai Elohei-Tzva’ot. 16Moreover Adonai says: “Since the Daughters of Zion are proud, and walk with outstretched necks and seductive eyes, walking and mincing as they go, making a jingling with their feet, 17therefore Adonai will smite with a scab the forehead of the Daughters of Zion. Adonai will expose their secret parts. 18In that day Adonai will strip the finery of anklets, headbands, crescents, 19pendants and bracelets, veils, 20headdresses, armlets, sashes, perfume vials, amulets, 21rings and nose-jewels, 22festal robes, capes, cloaks, purses, 23lace scarves, fine linen, turbans and veils. 24Now it will come to pass: Instead of sweet spices there will be rottenness; instead of a sash, rags; instead of curled hair, baldness; instead of fine clothing, sackcloth; and branding instead of beauty. 25Your men will fall by the sword, and your warriors in battle. 26Her gates will lament and mourn. Desolate, she will sit on the ground.

–from Isaiah 3

Do things have to get really bad? Do things have to get really good? Can things stay the same? We don’t have forever to make a choice! We don’t have forever to decide! Are you in or are you out? What if today is the last day, will you have chosen and know where you are going or will you have put it off and now will miss out?

1Seven women will grab hold of one man in that day, saying: “We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel. Only let us be called by your name— take away our reproach!”

Zion’s End-Time Glory

2In that day the Branch of Adonai will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land excellent and appealing for Israel’s survivors. 3So it will come to pass that whoever is left in Zion and whoever remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. 4After Adonai has washed away the filth of the Daughters of Zion and has purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, 5then Adonai will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her convocations, a cloud by day, and smoke and shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all, glory will be a canopy. 6Then there will be a sukkah for shade by day from the heat, and for refuge and for shelter from storm and from rain.

–from Isaiah 4

Will you live a life that will be a good return on investment? Will you be taking the gifts and talents you have been given and multiply them? Will you just dig a hole and put them there? We are supposed to take what we have been given and multiply it like a good steward! For the earth is the Lord’s and everything it, so we just need to be good stewards with what we have been given!

Song of the Vineyard

1Let me sing of my beloved, a song of my beloved, about His vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard in a very fertile hill. 2He dug it out and cleared its stones, planted it with a choice vine, built a tower in the midst of it, and even cut out a winepress. He expected it to yield good grapes, but it yielded worthless grapes. 3So now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, please judge between me and my vineyard. 4What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done? Why then, when I expected it to yield good grapes, did it yield worthless grapes? 5So now, I will make known to you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge, and it will be eaten up. I will break down the fence, and it will be trodden down. 6I will lay it waste: it will not be pruned or hoed, but briers and thorns will come up. I will also command the clouds not to rain on it. 7For the vineyard of Adonai-Tzva’ot is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah the planting of His delight. He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed, for righteousness, but behold, a cry!

Judgment for Injustice

8Woe to those who join house to house and merge field to field, until there is no room, and you will live alone in the midst of the land! 9In my ears, Adonai-Tzva’ot has said: “Surely many houses will be desolate— even grand and fine ones— with no occupants.” 10Ten acres of vineyard will yield six gallons, and an omer of seed will yield one ephah. 11Woe to those who rise up early in the morning— so they may pursue liquor, who stay up late at night, until wine inflames them! 12Harp and lyre, tambourine and flute, and wine are at their banquets. They do not notice Adonai’s activity nor see the works of His hands. 13“Therefore My people are in captivity for lack of knowledge. Their honorable men are famished and their multitudes parched with thirst. 14Therefore Sheol has enlarged its gullet and opened its measureless mouth— down goes her glory, her tumult, her uproar, and the revelry in her. 15So humanity will be bowed down mankind will be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty humbled.” 16But Adonai-Tzva’ot will be exalted through justice, and the Holy God consecrated through righteousness. 17Then lambs will graze as if in their own pasture, and nomads will eat in the ruins of the wealthy. 18Oy to those that drag iniquity along with cords of deceit, and sin as if with a cart rope! 19They say: “Let Him hurry up and hasten His work, so we may see it! Let the plan of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come, so we may know it!” 20Oy to those who call evil good and good evil, who present darkness as light and light as darkness, who present bitter as sweet, and sweet as bitter! 21Oy to those who are wise in their own eyes, and clever in their own sight! 22Oy to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant at mixing drinks, 23who justify the wicked for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of justice! 24Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes straw, and as chaff collapses into the flame, so their root will be like rot, and their blossom will go up like dust. For they have rejected the Torah of Adonai–Tzva’ot, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25Therefore Adonai’s anger is kindled against His people. When He has stretched out His hand against them and struck them, the hills trembled, and their carcasses were like refuse in the streets. For all this His anger is not turned away, yet His hand is still outstretched. 26He will lift up a banner to nations far off, and will whistle for them from the ends of the earth. Look! Swiftly, speedily they come! 27None will be weary and none stumble among them; none will slumber or sleep; no belt will be loose at the waist; no strap of sandals be broken. 28Their arrows are sharp and all their bows bent; their horse hooves will be like flint and their wheels like a whirlwind. 29Their roaring will be like a lion. They will growl like young lions— yes, they will roar, seize their prey and carry it away safely— and there will be none to rescue. 30They will roar against them like the roaring of the sea. If one looks to the land, behold, darkness and distress! The light is darkened by the clouds.

–from Isaiah 5

Consider the little you have to offer! You may think you have nothing, but what do you really have? Even the little you have when you give it up to God can be used and multiplied for the glory of God! Will you help others out of your abundance? Will you help others out of your lack? Will you take the little you have and give it up to God? Be it a little oil? Be it a your lunch? Be it a two fish and a few loaves? Do you realize what God can do with it? Will you trust Him if He or when He asks? There is a purpose! There is a plan! Don’t miss out!

Do You Still Not Understand?

1In those days, there was another large crowd with nothing to eat, and Yeshua called the disciples. He said to them, 2“I have compassion for the crowd, because they’ve stayed with Me for three days now and have nothing to eat. 3If I send them home hungry they’ll pass out on the way, for some of them have come from very far away.” 4His disciples answered Him, “How can anyone satisfy these people with bread here in a wasteland?” 5“How many loaves do you have?” Yeshua was asking them. “Seven,” they said. 6He directed the crowd to recline on the ground. After taking the seven loaves and giving thanks, He broke them and began giving them to His disciples to serve; and they served them to the crowd. 7They also had a few small fish and, after offering a bracha for them, He commanded these to be served as well. 8They ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces left over—seven baskets. 9About four thousand were there, and Yeshua sent them away. 10Right away, He got into the boat with His disciples and went to the area of Dalmanutha. 11The Pharisees came and began to argue with Him, demanding a sign from heaven, to test Him. 12Sighing deeply in His spirit, Yeshua said, “Why does this generation demand a sign? Amen, I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13Leaving them, He got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.

The Un-Seeing Disciples

14Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they had only one loaf in the boat. 15Yeshua was warning them, “Watch out! Beware of the hametz of the Pharisees and the hametz of Herod.” 16They began to discuss with each other that they had no bread. 17And Yeshua, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you discuss that you have no bread? You still don’t get it? Don’t you understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18Having eyes, don’t you see? And having ears, don’t you hear? And don’t you remember? 19When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they say to Him. 20“When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up?” “Seven,” they say to Him. 21He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

Eyes that Need Opening

22They come to Bethsaida. Some people bring a blind man to Yeshua and beg Him to touch the man. 23Taking the blind man by the hand, Yeshua brought him outside the village. After spitting on the man’s eyes and laying His hands on him, Yeshua asked the man, “Do you see anything?” 24The man looked up and said, “I see men! They look like trees walking about.” 25Then Yeshua put His hands on the man’s eyes again. The man looked intently, his sight was restored, and he began to see everything clearly. 26Yeshua sent him straight home, saying, “Don’t even enter the village!” 27Now Yeshua and His disciples went out to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28They told Him, “John the Immerser; and others Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” 29Then He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered Him, “You are the Messiah!” 30And He warned them not to tell anyone about Him.

Revealing the Mission

31Then He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and ruling kohanim and Torah scholars, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He was speaking openly about this. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33But turning around and looking at His disciples, He rebuked Peter. He said, “Get behind Me, satan! You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but the things of men.” 34Then He called the crowd, along with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to follow after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and keep following Me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the sake of the Good News will save it. 36For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37For what could a man give in exchange for his soul? 38For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels!”

–from Mark 8