Will you stand for your principles and what you believe in?

What if you don’t understand? Will you ask and question? What if you get an alternative would you give in or stand firm? What if you ask the questions and make your case and they still reject it? What if you they talk down to you or try to make you feel less? What if they reject the truth and replace it with their own version of reality? What will you do? Where will you turn? How will you know? What if today or tomorrow happen to be that day of challenge?

Will you start your today by putting on the full armor of God?

13Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:13-17

Will you start your today by praying and asking God to give you wisdom? Will you allow the Holy Spirit to give you a peace no matter what happens? Will you allow the Holy Spirit to give you direction, discernment, and wisdom? Will you stand firm? Will you trust God through it all? Will you resist the lies and attacks of the devil? Will you receive both the protection of the armor and the strength and power that comes through the Word of God?

What if you get the call? What if you get selected? What if you get the news? What if it takes praying and fasting? What if it takes asking others to join you in the process? What if it is a family matter? What are you going to do?

Today’s reading from God’s Word:

(Day 307 of 312)

How would you respond if they rejected you? or your ask?

How would you respond if they refused or wronged you?

How would you respond if they respond in a way that seems to despise you?

Will you ask wise advisers for input?

Will you seek justice and mercy?

Will you live out as a servant leader?

Will you show mercy and kindness to others without scheming?

Will you receive the promised blessings from God?

Will you put God’s will and God’s plan before your own?

Will you turn to God and do what He asks of you?

Nothing is impossible for God! What may seem impossible with people is not impossible for God! With God all things are possible.

Let’s be strong and finish the task put before us!

Let’s be symbols and sources of blessings!

Let’s love truth and peace!

How far are you willing to go to make sure the right thing happens? Are you willing to appeal the decision?

Will you warn people if you sense trouble ahead? Will you share this with them in order to save their lives?

How will you respond if they won’t listen? How will you respond when the casualties you warned of happen? How will you respond?

Will you already be with God or will you still be in tribulation when the time comes?

Will you be undecided or even outright rejecting Jesus throughout the tribulation and have to deal with the related troubles? Will you be deceived from the truth? Will you be consumed by it? Will you spend eternity with God or will you spend eternity apart from God, tormented day and night forever and ever?

Is your name in the book of life? Have you decided to receive the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ? Or are you willing to deal with the consequences? Are you willing to deal with the judgement for all the things you had done or not done?

‘And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.’

Revelation 20:15

Will you exalt God? Will you praise God and His greatness? Will you pass on to the next generation all that God is and has done in your life? Will you proclaim His greatness? Will you sign for joy? Will you thank God? Will you glorify Him through sharing examples? Will you share how God’s promises are true and trustworthy? Will you call upon the Lord and be saved?

So where are you at today? My hope and prayer is that You will ask Jesus into your heart so that I will get to spend eternity in God’s presence with you. Are you ready for forgiveness and peace? Are you ready for a hope and a future? Are you ready for a transformation where the old is gone and the new has come? Are you ready to being the journey of knowing right from wrong? Then let’s pray together to invite Jesus into your heart and your life so that His peace which surpasses all understanding can guide you and comfort you, protect your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. If this is the first time you have prayed to invite Jesus into your heart, leave me a comment so that I can rejoice with the angels in Heaven. If this is a re commitment to Jesus, leave me a comment so that I can rejoice with the angels in Heaven. If you are still questioning or seeking, don’t go it alone, feel free to leave me a comment so we can discuss it.

Let’s pray:

How committed are you?

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

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

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

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

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

2 Kings 2

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

Ezekiel 6

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

Ezekiel 7

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

Acts 10:34-48

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

3 John 1

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

Psalms 109

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

Are you committed? Leave me a comment.

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

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

How do you know if it is true?

Is there absolute truth? Is there an authority of what is true? Is there an authority that shows or describes right from wrong? Is there an authority that explains how life is to be lived? Is there an authority that explains what love is? Is there an authority that shows the way, the truth, and the life we are to be living?

Do you think there are absolutes or are there partial, qualified, or conditional? Do you think there is such things as unconditional or does there need to be conditional? Do you think there is such thing as fully and impartial or does there need to be partiality? Do you think there is such think a absolute or does there need to be qualifications?

What about when it comes to truth? Is there a way to know and understand absolute truth? Is there a way to know and understand how to get to the truth when people have different perspectives or views? Is there a way to know and understand a source to use to bring clarity to if something is true or not?

Today’s reading from God’s Word:

‘The Israelites had vowed at Mizpah, “We will never give our daughters in marriage to a man from the tribe of Benjamin.” Now the people went to Bethel and sat in the presence of God until evening, weeping loudly and bitterly. “O Lord , God of Israel,” they cried out, “why has this happened in Israel? Now one of our tribes is missing from Israel!” Early the next morning the people built an altar and presented their burnt offerings and peace offerings on it. Then they said, “Who among the tribes of Israel did not join us at Mizpah when we held our assembly in the presence of the Lord ?” At that time they had taken a solemn oath in the Lord ’s presence, vowing that anyone who refused to come would be put to death. The Israelites felt sorry for their brother Benjamin and said, “Today one of the tribes of Israel has been cut off. How can we find wives for the few who remain, since we have sworn by the Lord not to give them our daughters in marriage?” So they asked, “Who among the tribes of Israel did not join us at Mizpah when we assembled in the presence of the Lord ?” And they discovered that no one from Jabesh-gilead had attended the assembly. For after they counted all the people, no one from Jabesh-gilead was present. So the assembly sent 12,000 of their best warriors to Jabesh-gilead with orders to kill everyone there, including women and children. “This is what you are to do,” they said. “Completely destroy all the males and every woman who is not a virgin.” Among the residents of Jabesh-gilead they found 400 young virgins who had never slept with a man, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan. The Israelite assembly sent a peace delegation to the remaining people of Benjamin who were living at the rock of Rimmon. Then the men of Benjamin returned to their homes, and the 400 women of Jabesh-gilead who had been spared were given to them as wives. But there were not enough women for all of them. The people felt sorry for Benjamin because the Lord had made this gap among the tribes of Israel. So the elders of the assembly asked, “How can we find wives for the few who remain, since the women of the tribe of Benjamin are dead? There must be heirs for the survivors so that an entire tribe of Israel is not wiped out. But we cannot give them our own daughters in marriage because we have sworn with a solemn oath that anyone who does this will fall under God’s curse.” Then they thought of the annual festival of the Lord held in Shiloh, south of Lebonah and north of Bethel, along the east side of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem. They told the men of Benjamin who still needed wives, “Go and hide in the vineyards. When you see the young women of Shiloh come out for their dances, rush out from the vineyards, and each of you can take one of them home to the land of Benjamin to be your wife! And when their fathers and brothers come to us in protest, we will tell them, ‘Please be sympathetic. Let them have your daughters, for we didn’t find wives for all of them when we destroyed Jabesh-gilead. And you are not guilty of breaking the vow since you did not actually give your daughters to them in marriage.’” So the men of Benjamin did as they were told. Each man caught one of the women as she danced in the celebration and carried her off to be his wife. They returned to their own land, and they rebuilt their towns and lived in them. Then the people of Israel departed by tribes and families, and they returned to their own homes. In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.’

–Judges 21

‘The Lord gave me another message. He said, “Go and shout this message to Jerusalem. This is what the Lord says: “I remember how eager you were to please me as a young bride long ago, how you loved me and followed me even through the barren wilderness. In those days Israel was holy to the Lord , the first of his children. All who harmed his people were declared guilty, and disaster fell on them. I, the Lord , have spoken!” Listen to the word of the Lord , people of Jacob—all you families of Israel! This is what the Lord says: “What did your ancestors find wrong with me that led them to stray so far from me? They worshiped worthless idols, only to become worthless themselves. They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us safely out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness— a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought and death, where no one lives or even travels?’ “And when I brought you into a fruitful land to enjoy its bounty and goodness, you defiled my land and corrupted the possession I had promised you. The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord ?’ Those who taught my word ignored me, the rulers turned against me, and the prophets spoke in the name of Baal, wasting their time on worthless idols. Therefore, I will bring my case against you,” says the Lord . “I will even bring charges against your children’s children in the years to come. “Go west and look in the land of Cyprus ; go east and search through the land of Kedar. Has anyone ever heard of anything as strange as this? Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones, even though they are not gods at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols! The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay,” says the Lord . “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me— the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!

“Why has Israel become a slave? Why has he been carried away as plunder? Strong lions have roared against him, and the land has been destroyed. The towns are now in ruins, and no one lives in them anymore. Egyptians, marching from their cities of Memphis and Tahpanhes, have destroyed Israel’s glory and power. And you have brought this upon yourselves by rebelling against the Lord your God, even though he was leading you on the way! “What have you gained by your alliances with Egypt and your covenants with Assyria? What good to you are the streams of the Nile or the waters of the Euphrates River? Your wickedness will bring its own punishment. Your turning from me will shame you. You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon the Lord your God and not to fear him. I, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken! “Long ago I broke the yoke that oppressed you and tore away the chains of your slavery, but still you said, ‘I will not serve you.’ On every hill and under every green tree, you have prostituted yourselves by bowing down to idols. But I was the one who planted you, choosing a vine of the purest stock—the very best. How did you grow into this corrupt wild vine? No amount of soap or lye can make you clean. I still see the stain of your guilt. I, the Sovereign Lord , have spoken!

“You say, ‘That’s not true! I haven’t worshiped the images of Baal!’ But how can you say that? Go and look in any valley in the land! Face the awful sins you have done. You are like a restless female camel desperately searching for a mate. You are like a wild donkey, sniffing the wind at mating time. Who can restrain her lust? Those who desire her don’t need to search, for she goes running to them! When will you stop running? When will you stop panting after other gods? But you say, ‘Save your breath. I’m in love with these foreign gods, and I can’t stop loving them now!’ “Israel is like a thief who feels shame only when he gets caught. They, their kings, officials, priests, and prophets— all are alike in this. To an image carved from a piece of wood they say, ‘You are my father.’ To an idol chiseled from a block of stone they say, ‘You are my mother.’ They turn their backs on me, but in times of trouble they cry out to me, ‘Come and save us!’ But why not call on these gods you have made? When trouble comes, let them save you if they can! For you have as many gods as there are towns in Judah. Why do you accuse me of doing wrong? You are the ones who have rebelled,” says the Lord . “I have punished your children, but they did not respond to my discipline. You yourselves have killed your prophets as a lion kills its prey. “O my people, listen to the words of the Lord ! Have I been like a desert to Israel? Have I been to them a land of darkness? Why then do my people say, ‘At last we are free from God! We don’t need him anymore!’ Does a young woman forget her jewelry, or a bride her wedding dress? Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me. “How you plot and scheme to win your lovers. Even an experienced prostitute could learn from you! Your clothing is stained with the blood of the innocent and the poor, though you didn’t catch them breaking into your houses! And yet you say, ‘I have done nothing wrong. Surely God isn’t angry with me!’ But now I will punish you severely because you claim you have not sinned. First here, then there— you flit from one ally to another asking for help. But your new friends in Egypt will let you down, just as Assyria did before. In despair, you will be led into exile with your hands on your heads, for the Lord has rejected the nations you trust. They will not help you at all.’

–Jeremiah 2

‘“If a man divorces a woman and she goes and marries someone else, he will not take her back again, for that would surely corrupt the land. But you have prostituted yourself with many lovers, so why are you trying to come back to me?” says the Lord . “Look at the shrines on every hilltop. Is there any place you have not been defiled by your adultery with other gods? You sit like a prostitute beside the road waiting for a customer. You sit alone like a nomad in the desert. You have polluted the land with your prostitution and your wickedness. That’s why even the spring rains have failed. For you are a brazen prostitute and completely shameless. Yet you say to me, ‘Father, you have been my guide since my youth. Surely you won’t be angry forever! Surely you can forget about it!’ So you talk, but you keep on doing all the evil you can.”’

–Jeremiah 3:1-5

‘So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in the tombs outside the town. As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power. Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons. The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs. So Jesus gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned. When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them. So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake. The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.’

–Luke 8:26-39

‘I am planning to send either Artemas or Tychicus to you. As soon as one of them arrives, do your best to meet me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to stay there for the winter. Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos with their trip. See that they are given everything they need. Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive. Everybody here sends greetings. Please give my greetings to the believers—all who love us. May God’s grace be with you all.’

–Titus 3:12-15

‘Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. They have no fear of God at all. In their blind conceit, they cannot see how wicked they really are. Everything they say is crooked and deceitful. They refuse to act wisely or do good. They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots. Their actions are never good. They make no attempt to turn from evil. Your unfailing love, O Lord , is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O Lord . How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights. For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see. Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you; give justice to those with honest hearts. Don’t let the proud trample me or the wicked push me around. Look! Those who do evil have fallen! They are thrown down, never to rise again.’

–Psalms 36

Will you allow fear to make you do something deceiving? Will you trust in God rather than fear men?

Are things getting tough? Are you starting to worry or be anxious about it? Is it triggering fear? Is the fear making you do something that is untrue?

Let’s start today’s reading in Genesis 26 with Isaac.

‘A severe famine now struck the land, as had happened before in Abraham’s time. So Isaac moved to Gerar, where Abimelech, king of the Philistines, lived. The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt, but do as I tell you. Live here as a foreigner in this land, and I will be with you and bless you. I hereby confirm that I will give all these lands to you and your descendants, just as I solemnly promised Abraham, your father. I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars of the sky, and I will give them all these lands. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed. I will do this because Abraham listened to me and obeyed all my requirements, commands, decrees, and instructions.” So Isaac stayed in Gerar. When the men who lived there asked Isaac about his wife, Rebekah, he said, “She is my sister.” He was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “They will kill me to get her, because she is so beautiful.” But some time later, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out his window and saw Isaac caressing Rebekah. Immediately, Abimelech called for Isaac and exclaimed, “She is obviously your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?” “Because I was afraid someone would kill me to get her from me,” Isaac replied. “How could you do this to us?” Abimelech exclaimed. “One of my people might easily have taken your wife and slept with her, and you would have made us guilty of great sin.” Then Abimelech issued a public proclamation: “Anyone who touches this man or his wife will be put to death!”

When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. He became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow. He acquired so many flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and servants that the Philistines became jealous of him. So the Philistines filled up all of Isaac’s wells with dirt. These were the wells that had been dug by the servants of his father, Abraham. Finally, Abimelech ordered Isaac to leave the country. “Go somewhere else,” he said, “for you have become too powerful for us.” So Isaac moved away to the Gerar Valley, where he set up their tents and settled down. He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death. Isaac also restored the names Abraham had given them. Isaac’s servants also dug in the Gerar Valley and discovered a well of fresh water. But then the shepherds from Gerar came and claimed the spring. “This is our water,” they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So Isaac named the well Esek (which means “argument”). Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means “hostility”). Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth (which means “open space”), for he said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.” From there Isaac moved to Beersheba, where the Lord appeared to him on the night of his arrival. “I am the God of your father, Abraham,” he said. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. I will multiply your descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of my promise to Abraham, my servant.” Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the Lord . He set up his camp at that place, and his servants dug another well.

One day King Abimelech came from Gerar with his adviser, Ahuzzath, and also Phicol, his army commander. “Why have you come here?” Isaac asked. “You obviously hate me, since you kicked me off your land.” They replied, “We can plainly see that the Lord is with you. So we want to enter into a sworn treaty with you. Let’s make a covenant. Swear that you will not harm us, just as we have never troubled you. We have always treated you well, and we sent you away from us in peace. And now look how the Lord has blessed you!” So Isaac prepared a covenant feast to celebrate the treaty, and they ate and drank together. Early the next morning, they each took a solemn oath not to interfere with each other. Then Isaac sent them home again, and they left him in peace. That very day Isaac’s servants came and told him about a new well they had dug. “We’ve found water!” they exclaimed. So Isaac named the well Shibah (which means “oath”). And to this day the town that grew up there is called Beersheba (which means “well of the oath”). At the age of forty, Esau married two Hittite wives: Judith, the daughter of Beeri, and Basemath, the daughter of Elon. But Esau’s wives made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah.’

Genesis 26

Do you realize that you lies and deception triggered out of worry and fear has the chance to actually cause other to do wrong? Do you realize that you are setting others up to fall into a trap or pit? Trust God! Take hold of the golden rule to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. We have each been created on purpose, with purpose, for a purpose. Let’s continue to read from our devotional into 1 Chronicles 23.

‘When David was an old man, he appointed his son Solomon to be king over Israel. David summoned all the leaders of Israel, together with the priests and Levites. All the Levites who were thirty years old or older were counted, and the total came to 38,000. Then David said, “From all the Levites, 24,000 will supervise the work at the Temple of the Lord . Another 6,000 will serve as officials and judges. Another 4,000 will work as gatekeepers, and 4,000 will praise the Lord with the musical instruments I have made.” Then David divided the Levites into divisions named after the clans descended from the three sons of Levi—Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

The Gershonite family units were defined by their lines of descent from Libni and Shimei, the sons of Gershon. Three of the descendants of Libni were Jehiel (the family leader), Zetham, and Joel. These were the leaders of the family of Libni. Three of the descendants of Shimei were Shelomoth, Haziel, and Haran. Four other descendants of Shimei were Jahath, Ziza, Jeush, and Beriah. Jahath was the family leader, and Ziza was next. Jeush and Beriah were counted as a single family because neither had many sons.

Four of the descendants of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. The sons of Amram were Aaron and Moses. Aaron and his descendants were set apart to dedicate the most holy things, to offer sacrifices in the Lord ’s presence, to serve the Lord , and to pronounce blessings in his name forever. As for Moses, the man of God, his sons were included with the tribe of Levi. The sons of Moses were Gershom and Eliezer. The descendants of Gershom included Shebuel, the family leader. Eliezer had only one son, Rehabiah, the family leader. Rehabiah had numerous descendants. The descendants of Izhar included Shelomith, the family leader. The descendants of Hebron included Jeriah (the family leader), Amariah (the second), Jahaziel (the third), and Jekameam (the fourth). The descendants of Uzziel included Micah (the family leader) and Isshiah (the second).

The descendants of Merari included Mahli and Mushi. The sons of Mahli were Eleazar and Kish. Eleazar died with no sons, only daughters. His daughters married their cousins, the sons of Kish. Three of the descendants of Mushi were Mahli, Eder, and Jerimoth. These were the descendants of Levi by clans, the leaders of their family groups, registered carefully by name. Each had to be twenty years old or older to qualify for service in the house of the Lord . For David said, “The Lord , the God of Israel, has given us peace, and he will always live in Jerusalem. Now the Levites will no longer need to carry the Tabernacle and its furnishings from place to place.” In accordance with David’s final instructions, all the Levites twenty years old or older were registered for service. The work of the Levites was to assist the priests, the descendants of Aaron, as they served at the house of the Lord . They also took care of the courtyards and side rooms, helped perform the ceremonies of purification, and served in many other ways in the house of God. They were in charge of the sacred bread that was set out on the table, the choice flour for the grain offerings, the wafers made without yeast, the cakes cooked in olive oil, and the other mixed breads. They were also responsible to check all the weights and measures. And each morning and evening they stood before the Lord to sing songs of thanks and praise to him. They assisted with the burnt offerings that were presented to the Lord on Sabbath days, at new moon celebrations, and at all the appointed festivals. The required number of Levites served in the Lord ’s presence at all times, following all the procedures they had been given. And so, under the supervision of the priests, the Levites watched over the Tabernacle and the Temple and faithfully carried out their duties of service at the house of the Lord .’

1 Chronicles 23

We each a have a purpose and should pursue it. We shouldn’t be comparing our purpose to others because we have each been given a purpose that was set in place with purpose and for a purpose. So let’s take hold of God’s purpose and plan for our lives. Let’s do what God leads us to do through His Word and His Spirit so that in and through it all He will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory. Today’s reading continues into John 7.

‘Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. The people were surprised when they heard him. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?” they asked. So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies. Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me.” The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you?” Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed. But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision. (Actually, this tradition of circumcision began with the patriarchs, long before the law of Moses.) For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”’

John 7:14-24

So we need to get to the heart of the matter. We need to consider the motives behind the things we do and avoid doing. We need to take hold of the leading and directing of the Spirit and walk by faith rather than allowing the lies of the enemy of our soul to rob us of the incredible joy and peace that comes from God. Let’s look beneath the surface in order to better understand. Let’s look beneath the surface so that we can take that understanding do live out our lives by faith giving God all the praise, the honor, and the glory. Today’s reading continues into Galatians 3.

‘Dear brothers and sisters, here’s an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or amend an irrevocable agreement, so it is in this case. God gave the promises to Abraham and his child. And notice that the Scripture doesn’t say “to his children, ” as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says “to his child”—and that, of course, means Christ. This is what I am trying to say: The agreement God made with Abraham could not be canceled 430 years later when God gave the law to Moses. God would be breaking his promise. For if the inheritance could be received by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God’s promise. But God graciously gave it to Abraham as a promise. Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. Now a mediator is helpful if more than one party must reach an agreement. But God, who is one, did not use a mediator when he gave his promise to Abraham. Is there a conflict, then, between God’s law and God’s promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.

Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed. Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.’

Galatians 3:15-29

So let’s not go it alone. Let’s receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Let’s invite Jesus into our hearts so that we can be saved and born again. Let’s live our lives by faith in Jesus – new creations, the old is gone and the new has come. Let’s live our lives by faith demonstrating how we are lead by the Spirit and saved by grace through faith so that none of us can boast because it is not us but Christ in us that is making the difference. Let’s take hold of the promises of God and live out our today by the strength and courage and boldness that comes by faith in Jesus and allowing the joy of the Lord to strengthen us each and every step of the way. Jesus made a way when there wasn’t a way. Jesus came to break the power of sin and death over us. So we no longer need to fear but rather we can live in belief of God and allow Jesus working in and through us to lead us and guide through this life and into eternity where we will get to see Him face to face in heaven.

As we close, let’s meditate on today’s Psalm from Psalms 18.

‘I love you, Lord ; you are my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. I called on the Lord , who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies. The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. But in my distress I cried out to the Lord ; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger. Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him. He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet. Mounted on a mighty angelic being, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dark rain clouds. Thick clouds shielded the brightness around him and rained down hail and burning coals. The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded amid the hail and burning coals. He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies; great bolts of lightning flashed, and they were confused. Then at your command, O Lord , at the blast of your breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare. He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord supported me. He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me. The Lord rewarded me for doing right; he restored me because of my innocence. For I have kept the ways of the Lord ; I have not turned from my God to follow evil. I have followed all his regulations; I have never abandoned his decrees. I am blameless before God; I have kept myself from sin. The Lord rewarded me for doing right. He has seen my innocence. To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud. You light a lamp for me. The Lord , my God, lights up my darkness. In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. God’s way is perfect. All the Lord ’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord ? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping. I chased my enemies and caught them; I did not stop until they were conquered. I struck them down so they could not get up; they fell beneath my feet. You have armed me with strength for the battle; you have subdued my enemies under my feet. You placed my foot on their necks. I have destroyed all who hated me. They called for help, but no one came to their rescue. They even cried to the Lord , but he refused to answer. I ground them as fine as dust in the wind. I swept them into the gutter like dirt. You gave me victory over my accusers. You appointed me ruler over nations; people I don’t even know now serve me. As soon as they hear of me, they submit; foreign nations cringe before me. They all lose their courage and come trembling from their strongholds. The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock! May the God of my salvation be exalted! He is the God who pays back those who harm me; he subdues the nations under me and rescues me from my enemies. You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies; you save me from violent opponents. For this, O Lord , I will praise you among the nations; I will sing praises to your name. You give great victories to your king; you show unfailing love to your anointed, to David and all his descendants forever.’

Psalms 18

Let’s be on the lookout!

Do you see something? Did you say something? When you see something, will you say something? Don’t keep silent! Speak out so that people can be forewarned!

Do you want to say nothing and then be responsible for what happens to someone else who could have been saved or rescued?

Will you say something so that they are at least aware of what’s going on and then if they choose to not respond or answer then at least it isn’t on your head?

We are to be watchmen! We are to sound the alarm! We are to stand in the gap!

Will you speak into the lives of the people around you so that right and wrong are known?

Will you speak into the lives of people around you so that they will be warned if or when they are going down the wrong path?

Hear this warning:

‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?” ’

‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

‘If someone who is righteous disobeys, that personʼs former righteousness will count for nothing. And if someone who is wicked repents, that personʼs former wickedness will not bring condemnation. The righteous person who sins will not be allowed to live even though they were formerly righteous.’

–from Ezekiel 33

So will you turn back to God? Will you not walk away from God? Will you humbly come before God and repent of the wicked things? Will you stick close to God so that you won’t lose your reward?

God is  just! His will is that nobody would perish but rather that all would repent and be saved! The decision how to respond to God’s offer is in our hands!

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it! We need to be living our lives in a way of a humble servant! We need to be good stewards of what God has given us so that we provide a good return to Him! Let’s not be selfish and try to do everything for ourselves! Let’s consider how we can take what God has given us in order to multiply it and so that many others can be pointed back to God and they can be saved! It’s not all about stuff! It’s not all about control! It’s not all about receiving! It’s better to give than to receive! So let’s walk in humility! Let’s look for ways to serve people and point them to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

We need to be more than just hearers of the Word, we need to be doers of the Word! We need to choose to do more than just listen to what God has instructed us, we need to start living it out in the world around us so that in and through it all God will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name!

We need to love God and love people! We need to lead with love! We need to think  before we speak and consider if our words are true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind!

The Lord is our shepherd!

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

–Psalm 23

Have you been put into a position of leadership? Have you been put into a position where you are to provide for others? Have you been put into a position where you are to protect others? Have you been put into a situation where you are to encourage and restore others? Have you been put into a situation where you are to guide and correct others? Have you been put into a situation where you are to show others goodness and mercy?

How are you doing with this calling? Consider this warning:

‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.
7“ ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.
11“ ‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
17“ ‘As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats. 18Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? 19Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
20“ ‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, 22I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. 23I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. 24I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.
25“ ‘I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of savage beasts so that they may live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety. 26I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. 27The trees will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. 28They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. 29I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. 30Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them and that they, the Israelites, are my people, declares the Sovereign Lord. 31You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.’ ”

–from Ezekiel 34

Jesus came to set us free! Jesus came to break the bondage of sin! Jesus came to pay the ultimate price! Jesus came so that thru Him we could be saved!

We all face the choice! We all need to make the decision for ourselves! Choose wisely!

Live today pointing people to Jesus! Let’s reflect on this through today’s reading from the New Testament…How can we live our lives so that in and thru all we say and do  lift up God so that He will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name!

Instructions on Worship

1I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.
8Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 9I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

–1 Timothy 2

How can we point people towards the truth? towards love? towards hope? towards grace?

The Man of Lawlessness

1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3Donʼt let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in Godʼs temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
5Donʼt you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

Stand Firm

13But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
16May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

–2 Thessalonians 2


Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 33, 34, Psalm 114, 1 Timothy 2, 2 Thessalonians 2

Will you do what is right in the face of threats? Where will you put your trust?

What if you should do something but someone is trying to threaten or bully you into doing it? Would you stand up for what is right? Would you resist the threats and attacks? What if the threat was life or death? Would you change your response? Would you stand up for what is right? Would you give in and go against everything you believe in? What if everyone else was doing it or ok with it? What if everyone was jumping off a cliff, would you? Just because everyone else was doing it doesn’t make it right! What if they made it a law that you had to do it? Would that make you change your mind? Would you stand up for what is right ?Would you stand up for what is good? Would you do what is right in the eyes of man vs what is right? Where is your trust? Is your hope and your trust in God? Will you let God be your deliverer? Our God saves!

Let’s take a look at the first part of our reading today and see how they responded…

The Image of Gold and the Blazing Furnace

1King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. 3So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.
4Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: 5As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
7Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
8At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. 9They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! 10Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, 11and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”
13Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
16Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majestyʼs hand. 18But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
19Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22The kingʼs command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
24Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Werenʼt there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
25He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
26Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
28Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the kingʼs command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
30Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

–Daniel 3

What would you do if you had a dream that frightened you? How would you respond to it? Where would you turn? What would you do? Who can you trust and ask? When would you let others know and ask for wisdom or help? Why wouldn’t you turn to God or God’s people? You can turn to God if you believe! You can ask of Him! Ask, Seek, Knock! Believe! Fear Not, Just Believe! It may not be easy! In this world we will have troubles, but we can take heart because Jesus has overcome the world! In this world we will face trials, we are to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds so that our faith can persevere and when that is done, we can be mature, complete, and lacking nothing!

Won’t you believe in God? Won’t you ask Jesus into your heart? What will it take for you to make this choice and to humble yourself before God? It’s not all done by your hands but through God’s! He is creator! He owns everything! How long will it take before you humble yourself and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior? How long before you will praise and worship Him? Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess … will you choose it before you have to?

Today’s reading continues with just such a situation…let’s see how that plays out…

Nebuchadnezzarʼs Dream of a Tree

1King Nebuchadnezzar,
To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth:
May you prosper greatly!
2It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.
3How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
his dominion endures from generation to generation.
4I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. 5I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. 6So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. 7When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. 8Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)
9I said, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. 10These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. 11The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. 12Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.
13“In the visions I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven. 14He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. 15But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field.
“ ‘Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. 16Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him.
17“ ‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’
18“This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”

Daniel Interprets the Dream

19Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”
Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! 20The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, 21with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the wild animals, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds— 22Your Majesty, you are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.
23“Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’
24“This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: 25You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. 26The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. 27Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”

The Dream Is Fulfilled

28All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
31Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
33Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.
34At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.
His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”
36At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

–Daniel 4

There is truth, absolute truth! Truth isn’t variable or fluctuating! So if someone is trying to make you do something that isn’t true, isn’t right, or isn’t just, what will you do? How will you respond? What if someone tries to prevent you from doing what is true, is right, or is just, what will you do? Will you teach? Will you respond? Will you share? Will  you stand up? Will you help advance the situation thru faith? Will you help advance the situation thru love? thru a pure heart? thru a good conscience? thru sincere faith?

Jesus came to save the sinners! Jesus is patient! The law was to teach and show us how we need help and a savior! The law isn’t for the righteous but for those who need to be corrected! We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God! Jesus died for us on the cross to pay the ultimate price in order that we can be reconciled back to God! We need to receive this gift from God! Have you accepted this gift of God yet? What will it take?

Today’s reading continues into 1 Timothy 1 where we read Paul’s words to him…

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
2To Timothy my true son in the faith:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Timothy Charged to Oppose False Teachers

3As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing Godʼs work—which is by faith. 5The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
8We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

The Lordʼs Grace to Paul

12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

The Charge to Timothy Renewed

18Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, 19holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. 20Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.

–1 Timothy 1

So let’s thank God! Let’s praise Him for all He has done for us! Let’s build up our relationship with Him by daily walking and talking wth Him! Let’s not try to go it alone but rather let’s walk out each day with Him, seeking wisdom for each situation and each conversation we face so that in and thru it all He will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name! Let’s not be selfish! Let’s not be so proud that we get tripped up!

Today’s reading concludes in 2 Thessalonians 1…

1Paul, Silas and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
2Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

3We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters,and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. 4Therefore, among Godʼs churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
5All this is evidence that Godʼs judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
11With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 12We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

–2 Thessalonians 1







There is hope and chance for a change…

Going through history we watch the pendulum swing back and forth. We see it go from alignment with God to out of alignment with God…back and forth again. We see it go from doing what is right to going what is wrong…back and forth again. We see it go from joy and celebration to pain and suffering…back and forth again. Depending on where people are at in their lives they hop onto the pendulum on one end or the other, or somewhere in the swing. If it is going well but people aren’t reminded why they forget and start to take things for granted and get comfortable, stopping the swing and back it goes the other way.

Take a look around you. Consider the situation of things right now in your life and in the timeline of the world. Where is the pendulum? And what way do we need to start going?

Joy and Celebration
Pressing towards God

The pendulum goes back and forth

Out of alignment
Pain and Suffering
Walking away from God
Getting to comfortable Swing Realizing something is missing

So where are you at on the pendulum of life? What is needed? Reminders so we don’t forget and stay on that side? What is needed? Reminders to help get things back on track? Consider your choices and the impact they will have on the swing! Consider your decisions and how they will impact beyond your circle of influence! Consider your actions and how they will impact the world around you! It’s time to decide!

Today’s reading from 2 Kings 22 starts with Josiah…having the right leader in place makes a difference on a nation. Having the right leader with the right character is key to how it will play out! Having the right leader with integrity and a dependency on God will direct the nation! Look beyond the head to see the character of those managing things – are they honest and trustworthy? Look beyond candidates to the people they depend on! Now what would happen if they found that reminder of what was? How would they respond? Would they dig deeper or just cast it aside? Let’s see how Josiah responds and consider how life is today and the choices we are facing today…One generation can stop the upward swing on the wrong side! One generation can turn things around! One generation can start to make right for the wrongs of their predecessors! Will you be that generation? Will you make a difference?

God is just! Today people have an option that didn’t exist before…Jesus! Back then Jesus hadn’t come down from heaven to sacrifice Himself and turn the choices! Jesus came that we could have life and life to the full! Jesus came to make a permanent, once for all sacrifice in order to make a way where there wasn’t a way so that we can be reconciled back to God! Now receiving Jesus is a choice! Accepting the gift of grace is a choice! Asking Jesus into your life is a choice! And with freewill we each get to make that choice for ourselves! Imagine if we started to walk in alignment with Jesus and started raising the bar which would raise the average rather  than working towards the lowest common denominator which by design lowers the average. The choice is yours! The decision is yours! And your actions could impact things not only today, but for generations to come!

There is hope and time for a change but to fully receive it, we need to bring Jesus back into our lives! We need to put Him in the center in order that when we come together a cord of 3 strands is not easily broken! Be it in our marriage! Be in our business partnerships! Be in our community relationships! Be it in our national leadership! We need to get back to the truth! We need get back to the way Jesus pointed us to! We need to first love God! We need to then love people! Walking out these two will keep us on track to be everything God created us to be!

Josiah Rules in Judah

1Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah from Bozkath. 2He did what was pleasing in the lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right.
3In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and grandson of Meshullam, the court secretary, to the Temple of the lord. He told him, 4“Go to Hilkiah the high priest and have him count the money the gatekeepers have collected from the people at the lord’s Temple. 5Entrust this money to the men assigned to supervise the restoration of the lord’s Temple. Then they can use it to pay workers to repair the Temple. 6They will need to hire carpenters, builders, and masons. Also have them buy the timber and the finished stone needed to repair the Temple. 7But don’t require the construction supervisors to keep account of the money they receive, for they are honest and trustworthy men.”

Hilkiah Discovers God’s Law

8Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the court secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the lord’s Temple!” Then Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan, and he read it.
9Shaphan went to the king and reported, “Your officials have turned over the money collected at the Temple of the lord to the workers and supervisors at the Temple.” 10Shaphan also told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” So Shaphan read it to the king.
11When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair. 12Then he gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the court secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal adviser: 13“Go to the Temple and speak to the lord for me and for the people and for all Judah. Inquire about the words written in this scroll that has been found. For the lord’s great anger is burning against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words in this scroll. We have not been doing everything it says we must do.”
14So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to the New Quarter of Jerusalem to consult with the prophet Huldah. She was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, the keeper of the Temple wardrobe.
15She said to them, “The lord, the God of Israel, has spoken! Go back and tell the man who sent you, 16‘This is what the lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this city and its people. All the words written in the scroll that the king of Judah has read will come true. 17For my people have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to pagan gods, and I am very angry with them for everything they have done. My anger will burn against this place, and it will not be quenched.’
18“But go to the king of Judah who sent you to seek the lord and tell him: ‘This is what the lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the message you have just heard: 19You were sorry and humbled yourself before the lord when you heard what I said against this city and its people—that this land would be cursed and become desolate. You tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the lord. 20So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace. You will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city.’”
So they took her message back to the king.

–from 2 Kings 22

So let’s not turn away from what is right! Let’s not turn away from doing what is right! Let’s not turn away from speaking the truth in love! Let’s take hold of the truth for the truth will set us and those around us free!

What’s going on around you that needs to be changed? What’s going on around you that needs to be taken away? What’s going on around you that need to be torn down? What’s going on around you that needs to be fixed up? Who do we need to help get things back on track? Who do we need to ensure is aligned with God’s work? What measuring stick are you using to vet the choices that need to be made? What measuring stick are you using to make sure you pick the right people for the job?

Ever noticed that there are some who are trying to hide or tear down or take away the things of God? Ever noticed that there are some who are trying to God out of the fact that in God we trust? Ever noticed that there are some who are trying to take God out of the education system? Ever noticed that there are some who are trying to take God out of the workplace? Ever noticed that there are some who are trying to take God out of our everyday conversations? Will we make a choice that will cause people to draw closer to God or will it push them even further away? What reform is required?

The pendulum is at a point where what gets decided next will decide the direction and the height of the swing. Will it start to swing back towards the center or will it keep swinging away? Will it have implications other than back and forth like the foucault pendulum?

Josiah Rules in Judah

1Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. 2He did what was pleasing in the lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right.
3During the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, Josiah began to seek the God of his ancestor David. Then in the twelfth year he began to purify Judah and Jerusalem, destroying all the pagan shrines, the Asherah poles, and the carved idols and cast images. 4He ordered that the altars of Baal be demolished and that the incense altars which stood above them be broken down. He also made sure that the Asherah poles, the carved idols, and the cast images were smashed and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5He burned the bones of the pagan priests on their own altars, and so he purified Judah and Jerusalem.
6He did the same thing in the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, even as far as Naphtali, and in the regions all around them. 7He destroyed the pagan altars and the Asherah poles, and he crushed the idols into dust. He cut down all the incense altars throughout the land of Israel. Finally, he returned to Jerusalem.
8In the eighteenth year of his reign, after he had purified the land and the Temple, Josiah appointed Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the governor of Jerusalem, and Joah son of Joahaz, the royal historian, to repair the Temple of the lord his God. 9They gave Hilkiah the high priest the money that had been collected by the Levites who served as gatekeepers at the Temple of God. The gifts were brought by people from Manasseh, Ephraim, and from all the remnant of Israel, as well as from all Judah, Benjamin, and the people of Jerusalem.
10He entrusted the money to the men assigned to supervise the restoration of the lord’s Temple. Then they paid the workers who did the repairs and renovation of the Temple. 11They hired carpenters and builders, who purchased finished stone for the walls and timber for the rafters and beams. They restored what earlier kings of Judah had allowed to fall into ruin.
12The workers served faithfully under the leadership of Jahath and Obadiah, Levites of the Merarite clan, and Zechariah and Meshullam, Levites of the Kohathite clan. Other Levites, all of whom were skilled musicians, 13were put in charge of the laborers of the various trades. Still others assisted as secretaries, officials, and gatekeepers.

Hilkiah Discovers God’s Law

14While they were bringing out the money collected at the lord’s Temple, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the lord that was written by Moses. 15Hilkiah said to Shaphan the court secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the lord’s Temple!” Then Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan.
16Shaphan took the scroll to the king and reported, “Your officials are doing everything they were assigned to do. 17The money that was collected at the Temple of the lord has been turned over to the supervisors and workmen.” 18Shaphan also told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” So Shaphan read it to the king.
19When the king heard what was written in the Law, he tore his clothes in despair. 20Then he gave these orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the court secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal adviser: 21“Go to the Temple and speak to the lord for me and for all the remnant of Israel and Judah. Inquire about the words written in the scroll that has been found. For the lord’s great anger has been poured out on us because our ancestors have not obeyed the word of the lord. We have not been doing everything this scroll says we must do.”
22So Hilkiah and the other men went to the New Quarter of Jerusalem to consult with the prophet Huldah. She was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, the keeper of the Temple wardrobe.
23She said to them, “The lord, the God of Israel, has spoken! Go back and tell the man who sent you, 24‘This is what the lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this city and its people. All the curses written in the scroll that was read to the king of Judah will come true. 25For my people have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to pagan gods, and I am very angry with them for everything they have done. My anger will be poured out on this place, and it will not be quenched.’
26“But go to the king of Judah who sent you to seek the lord and tell him: ‘This is what the lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the message you have just heard: 27You were sorry and humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this city and its people. You humbled yourself and tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the lord. 28So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace. You yourself will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city and its people.’”
So they took her message back to the king.

Josiah’s Religious Reforms

29Then the king summoned all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30And the king went up to the Temple of the lord with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, along with the priests and the Levites—all the people from the greatest to the least. There the king read to them the entire Book of the Covenant that had been found in the lord’s Temple. 31The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul. He promised to obey all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll. 32And he required everyone in Jerusalem and the people of Benjamin to make a similar pledge. The people of Jerusalem did so, renewing their covenant with God, the God of their ancestors.
33So Josiah removed all detestable idols from the entire land of Israel and required everyone to worship the lord their God. And throughout the rest of his lifetime, they did not turn away from the lord, the God of their ancestors.

–from 2 Chronicles 34

So will you share the good news? Will you walk differently than what people expect in society? Will you be someone who tries to make an impact? Will you point people back to Jesus? Will you tell people of Jesus and the way He has changed your life? Will you be salt and light into this world? Will you give God the glory? Will you point people to Him!

Paul and Barnabas in Iconium

1The same thing happened in Iconium. Paul and Barnabas went to the Jewish synagogue and preached with such power that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. 2Some of the Jews, however, spurned God’s message and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. 3But the apostles stayed there a long time, preaching boldly about the grace of the Lord. And the Lord proved their message was true by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders. 4But the people of the town were divided in their opinion about them. Some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles.
5Then a mob of Gentiles and Jews, along with their leaders, decided to attack and stone them. 6When the apostles learned of it, they fled to the region of Lycaonia—to the towns of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding area. 7And there they preached the Good News.

Paul and Barnabas in Lystra and Derbe

8While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting 9and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed. 10So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking.
11When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, “These men are gods in human form!” 12They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus and that Paul was Hermes, since he was the chief speaker. 13Now the temple of Zeus was located just outside the town. So the priest of the temple and the crowd brought bulls and wreaths of flowers to the town gates, and they prepared to offer sacrifices to the apostles.
14But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting, 15“Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings—just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. 16In the past he permitted all the nations to go their own ways, 17but he never left them without evidence of himself and his goodness. For instance, he sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts.” 18But even with these words, Paul and Barnabas could scarcely restrain the people from sacrificing to them.
19Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. 20But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

Paul and Barnabas Return to Antioch of Syria

21After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, 22where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. 23Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. 24Then they traveled back through Pisidia to Pamphylia. 25They preached the word in Perga, then went down to Attalia.
26Finally, they returned by ship to Antioch of Syria, where their journey had begun. The believers there had entrusted them to the grace of God to do the work they had now completed. 27Upon arriving in Antioch, they called the church together and reported everything God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too. 28And they stayed there with the believers for a long time.

–from Acts 14


Is your reality real?

Ever noticed all the reality TV shows on these days? How many of them are real? How often would you ever see something like that in real life? When you consider the definition of reality we find “the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them” and as a secondary definition “the state or quality of having existence or substance”.  With technology there are even more types of reality…virtual reality – “the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors” …and the newer one you may have heard about … enhanced or augmented reality – “a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data”.

In you world, what do you worship? what are you worshiping? who are you worshiping? Check your version of reality!

Today’s reading begins in Isaiah 58…

True and False Worship

1“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins! 2Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. 3‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. 4What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. 5You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the lord? 6“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. 7Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. 8“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the lord will protect you from behind. 9Then when you call, the lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! 10Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. 11The lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. 12Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes. 13“Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the lord’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. 14Then the lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the lord, have spoken!”

–from Isaiah 58

Ever realized how much we focus on self? Ever noticed how no matter the situation we are focused on how it impacts us? Ever noticed your response because of the focus on self? Ever discovered the conflicts that materialize because of our focus on self? Imagine if we could turn that around and start to live in a way that was different and better! Imagine being less selfish and being more selfless! Imagine a life where instead of comparing ourselves to others we live lives that produce results! Imagine a life where we live in humility! Imagine a life where we aren’t grumbling and we aren’t arguing! Imagine a life where we live blameless and pure so that we make a difference and are seen as different from the world around us! So rather than having had the salvation experience we can live salvation experiences daily! Salvation has made us new creations where the old is gone and the new has come! Salvation has made us so that we can allow God working in us and thru us to produce fruit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulnessgentleness and self-control.


So let’s not grow weary in doing good works! Let’s lean into all that God has done, is doing, and will do in and thru our lives in order to transform the world around us! Jesus came to bridge the gap! Jesus came and gave His all in order that we could be reconciled to God! Jesus came and paid the price of death – death on a cross – for you and for me so that we could be saved! We need to make the choice though to receive it! Have you received it? Are you living it?

What is the reality around you looking like? Is your reality real? Consider what you are hearing in the news! Consider what you are hearing about the courts! Consider what you are hearing about law enforcement! Consider what you are heading about politicians! Does it seem real to you? Does it seem right?

Warnings against Sin

1Listen! The lord’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. 2It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore. 3Your hands are the hands of murderers, and your fingers are filthy with sin. Your lips are full of lies, and your mouth spews corruption. 4No one cares about being fair and honest. The people’s lawsuits are based on lies. They conceive evil deeds and then give birth to sin. 5They hatch deadly snakes and weave spiders’ webs. Whoever eats their eggs will die; whoever cracks them will hatch a viper. 6Their webs can’t be made into clothing, and nothing they do is productive. All their activity is filled with sin, and violence is their trademark. 7Their feet run to do evil, and they rush to commit murder. They think only about sinning. Misery and destruction always follow them. 8They don’t know where to find peace or what it means to be just and good. They have mapped out crooked roads, and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace. 9So there is no justice among us, and we know nothing about right living. We look for light but find only darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom. 10We grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark. Among the living, we are like the dead. 11We growl like hungry bears; we moan like mournful doves. We look for justice, but it never comes. We look for rescue, but it is far away from us. 12For our sins are piled up before God and testify against us. Yes, we know what sinners we are. 13We know we have rebelled and have denied the lord. We have turned our backs on our God. We know how unfair and oppressive we have been, carefully planning our deceitful lies. 14Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed. 15Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked. The lord looked and was displeased to find there was no justice. 16He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him. 17He put on righteousness as his body armor and placed the helmet of salvation on his head. He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion. 18He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds. His fury will fall on his foes. He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth. 19In the west, people will respect the name of the lord; in the east, they will glorify him. For he will come like a raging flood tide driven by the breath of the lord. 20“The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins,” says the lord. 21“And this is my covenant with them,” says the lord. “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the lord, have spoken!

–from Isaiah 59

Do you have a source of truth? Do you have a north star that you turn to when you are feeling lost? Do you have someone you call out to during your times of trouble?

God’s Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path! Jesus is my Lord and Savior and so I turn to Him and call out to Him in times of trouble! I find refuge in God! God is good – all the time! All the time – God is good!

For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be accompanied by the flute.

1O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. 2Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. 3Listen to my voice in the morning, lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. 4O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness; you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked. 5Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence, for you hate all who do evil. 6You will destroy those who tell lies. The lord detests murderers and deceivers. 7Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe. 8Lead me in the right path, O lord, or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow. 9My enemies cannot speak a truthful word. Their deepest desire is to destroy others. Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with flattery. 10O God, declare them guilty. Let them be caught in their own traps. Drive them away because of their many sins, for they have rebelled against you. 11But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. 12For you bless the godly, O lord; you surround them with your shield of love.

–from Psalms 5

Are you seeing the persecution taking place around the world? Will you stand up for the truth? Will you speak the truth in love? Will you THINK before you speak? (T – True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind) Are you seeing the reality taking place around the world? How about in your community? How about in your neighborhood or workplace? How about in your schools? What is reality looking like to you now? How are you living it out? What impact is your life having on the world around you? Are you living a life that make people want to know more about Jesus? Are you living a life that is pointing people to the one true God? Do others want to learn more about the hope that is within you?

1Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen.

Persecution Scatters the Believers

A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. 2(Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.) 3But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.

Philip Preaches in Samaria

4But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went. 5Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah. 6Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. 7Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. 8So there was great joy in that city. 9A man named Simon had been a sorcerer there for many years, amazing the people of Samaria and claiming to be someone great. 10Everyone, from the least to the greatest, often spoke of him as “the Great One—the Power of God.” 11They listened closely to him because for a long time he had astounded them with his magic. 12But now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized. 13Then Simon himself believed and was baptized. He began following Philip wherever he went, and he was amazed by the signs and great miracles Philip performed. 14When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there. 15As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. 16The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power. 19“Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed, “so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!” 20But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! 21You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. 22Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, 23for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.” 24“Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon exclaimed, “that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!” 25After testifying and preaching the word of the Lord in Samaria, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem. And they stopped in many Samaritan villages along the way to preach the Good News.

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

26As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah. 29The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.” 30Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him. 32The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. 33He was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” 34The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” 35So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus. 36As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?”38He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. 40Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north at the town of Azotus. He preached the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea.

–from Acts 8

So what does your reality look like? Is it real? Are you sharing the hope that is within you? Are you looking for real hope because you haven’t met Jesus yet? Are you resisting the selfish desires and trying to live out life in the fruit of the Spirit? Are you speaking the truth in love? Are you speaking with integrity and character? Are you avoiding grumbling and arguing? Are you living out the grace you were given? Are you living in the grace you were given? We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus! We aren’t saved by works so that nobody can boast! So let’s walk in humility!

Greetings from Paul

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

God Offers Comfort to All

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

Paul’s Change of Plans

12We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you. 13Our letters have been straightforward, and there is nothing written between the lines and nothing you can’t understand. I hope someday you will fully understand us, 14even if you don’t understand us now. Then on the day when the Lord Jesus returns, you will be proud of us in the same way we are proud of you.
15Since I was so sure of your understanding and trust, I wanted to give you a double blessing by visiting you twice—16first on my way to Macedonia and again when I returned from Macedonia.Then you could send me on my way to Judea.
17You may be asking why I changed my plan. Do you think I make my plans carelessly? Do you think I am like people of the world who say “Yes” when they really mean “No”? 18As surely as God is faithful, our word to you does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” 19For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. 20For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.
21It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.
23Now I call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth. The reason I didn’t return to Corinth was to spare you from a severe rebuke. 24But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm.

–from 2 Corinthians 1

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It’s time to decide…

Which way will you go? Who will you follow? How will you live? What will that look like? Where will that take you? When will you choose? When will you decide?

It’s time to decide!

If the people before you were heading the wrong way, will you follow? If the people before were heading the wrong way, will you turn around and head in the right direction? It’s now in your hands so choose wisely!

1Now in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, son of Nebat, Abijam became king over Judah. 2He reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. 3He walked in all the sins of his father which he had done before him; and his heart was not wholly devoted to Adonai his God, like the heart of his father David. 4Nevertheless, for David’s sake, Adonai his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, raising up his son after him and establishing Jerusalem. 5For David did what was right in Adonai’s eyes and did not turn aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. 6As there had been war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life, 7so there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam. The rest of the deeds of Abijam and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 8Then Abijam slept with his fathers so they buried him in the city of David, and his son Asa became king in his place.

Asa Starts Out Right

9In the twentieth year of King Jeroboam of Israel, Asa began to reign over Judah. 10He reigned 41 years in Jerusalem; his mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. 11Now Asa did what was right in Adonai’s eyes, like his father David. 12He also expelled the male prostitutes from the land and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. 13Also he deposed his mother Maacah from being queen mother, because she had made an abominable image as an Asherah pole. So Asa cut down her image and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 14But they did not take away the high places. Nevertheless Asa’s heart was wholly devoted to Adonai all his days. 15He brought into the House of Adonai the consecrated things of his father as well as his own consecrated things of silver, gold, and utensils. 16Now there was war between Asa and King Baasa of Israel all their days. 17King Baasa of Israel marched against Judah, and he built up Ramah to prevent anyone from going out or coming in to King Asa of Judah. 18Then Asa took all the silver and the gold that were left in the treasuries of Adonai’s House and the treasuries of the royal palace, and delivered them into the hand of his officials. King Asa sent them to Ben-Hadad son of Tabrimmon, son of Hezion, king of Aram, who resided in Damascus, saying: 19“Let there be a treaty between me and you, as it was between my father and your father. I have just sent you a present of silver and gold; go, break your treaty with King Baasa of Israel, so that he may withdraw from me.” 20So Ben-Hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel, conquering Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah and all Chinneroth, as well as all the land of Naphtali. 21When Baasa heard it, he stopped fortifying Ramah and remained in Tirzah. 22Then King Asa made a proclamation to all Judah—none was exempted—and they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber which Baasa had built. Then King Asa built Geba of Benjamin and Mizpah with them. 23Now the rest of all the deeds of Asa, all his might, all he did and the cities that he built—are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? But in his old age he was diseased in his feet. 24And Asa slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of his father David, and his son Jehoshaphat became king his place.

End of Jeroboam’s Line

25Nadab son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel in the second year of King Asa of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. 26He also did what was evil in Adonai’s eyes, walking in the way of his father and in his sins that he caused Israel to commit. 27Then Baasa son of Ahijah of the house of Issachar conspired against him, and Baasa struck him down at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines, while Nadab and all Israel were besieging Gibbethon. 28So Baasa slew him, in the third year of King Asa of Judah, and became king in his place. 29As soon as he became king, he struck down all the household of Jeroboam. He did not spare Jeroboam anything with breath until he had destroyed him, just as was the word of Adonai that He spoke by the hand of His servant Ahijah the Shilonite, 30because of the sins Jeroboam had committed and caused Israel to commit, by which he utterly provoked Adonai, God of Israel. 31Now the rest of the deeds of Nadab and all he did—are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 32So there was war between Asa and King Baasa of Israel all their days. 33In the third year of King Asa of Judah, Baasa son of Ahijah began to reign over all Israel in Tirzah, reigning 24 years. 34He did what was evil in Adonai’s eyes, and followed the way of Jeroboam and the sin that he had made Israel commit.

–from 1 Kings 15

Will you start strong? Will continue strong? Will you finish strong? Trust God in and through it all!

Asa’s Reforms Bring Adonai’s Rest

1Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of Adonai his God. 2He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. 3He commanded Judah to seek Adonai, the God of their fathers, and to obey the Torah and the mitzvah. 4He also removed the high places and the incense stands out of all the cities of Judah. So the kingdom remained untroubled under him. 5He built up fortified cities in Judah, for the land was untroubled and he was not engaged in warfare during those years because Adonai had given him rest. 6Then he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and surround them with walls and towers, gates and bars, while the land is still ours because we have sought Adonai Eloheinu. We sought Him and He has given us rest all around.” So they built and were successful.

Appeal to Defeat the Cushites

7Now Asa had an army of 300,000 men from Judah who bore shields and spears and 280,000 from Benjamin who bore shields and drew bows. All of these were valiant warriors. 8Then Zerah the Cushite marched against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots. When he arrived at Mareshah, 9Asa went out to meet him and they arrayed for battle in the valley of Zephath at Mareshah. 10Then Asa cried to Adonai his God and said, “Adonai, there is no one like You to help in battle between the mighty and the powerless. Help us, Adonai Eloheinu, for we rely on You and in Your Name we have come against this multitude. You are Adonai Eloheinu! Let no man prevail against You.” 11So Adonai struck down the Cushites before Asa and before Judah. The Cushites fled 12and Asa and the people who were with him pursued them to Gerar. So many of the Cushites fell that they could not recover because they were shattered before Adonai and before His army. They carried away very much spoil. 13They destroyed all the cities around Gerar, for the terror from Adonai came on them. They plundered all the cities, for there was much spoil in them. 14They also attacked the tents of herdsmen and carried off many sheep and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.

–from 2 Chronicles 14

Stick with God! Don’t stray from Him! Build up your relationship and trust in Him! Don’t turn away from Him! Walk through life with Him! Be patient! Be obedient! Be true! Finish strong and receive the reward!

Prophets Encourage Further Reforms

1The Ruach Elohim came upon Azariah the son of Oded. 2He went out to meet Asa, and said to him, “Listen to me Asa, all Judah and Benjamin. Adonai is with you as long as you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you. But if you forsake Him, He will spurn you. 3For many days Israel was without the true God, without a teaching kohen and without Torah. 4But in their distress they turned to Adonai, the God of Israel, and sought Him, and He was found by them. 5In those times there was no shalom for anyone coming or going, for there were many conflicts among all the inhabitants of the lands. 6Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every kind of distress. 7But you, chazak! Do not let your hands be slack for there is reward for your labor.” 8When Asa heard these words as well as the prophecy of the prophet Oded, he took courage and removed the abominations from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns that he had seized in the hill country of Ephraim. He also repaired Adonai’s altar that was in front of Adonai’s entryway. 9He gathered all Judah and Benjamin, as well as those dwelling with them from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon—for many had defected to him from Israel when they saw that Adonai his God was with him. 10So they assembled at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa. 11On that day they sacrificed to Adonai 700 bulls and 7,000 sheep from the spoil that they had brought. 12They entered into a covenant to seek Adonai, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul. 13Whoever would not seek Adonai, God of Israel, would be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman. 14They also made an oath to Adonai with a loud voice, with shouting, with trumpets and with shofarot. 15All Judah rejoiced over the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him with all their will and He was found by them. Then Adonai gave them rest all around. 16He also deposed Maacah, the mother of King Asa, from being queen because she had made an abominable image for Asherah. Asa cut down her abominable image, crushed it and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 17Though the high places were not removed from Israel, still Asa’s heart was completely committed to Adonai all his days. 18He brought into the House of God his father’s consecrated articles, as well as his consecrated articles of silver and gold, and utensils.

–from 2 Chronicles 15

Keep your eyes on God! Remember His faithfulness! Turn to God first for answers, as you did when you first believed! Don’t allow fear to be the motivation or driver! Fear Not, Just Believe! Don’t be fooled! Don’t be tricked! Don’t allow pride to get in the way of all God had planned! Stand firm! Put on the full armor of God! Finish strong!

Asa Backslides

1In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, King Baasa of Israel marched against Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent anyone from leaving or coming to King Asa of Judah. 2In response, Asa brought out silver and gold from the treasuries of the House of Adonai and from the royal palace, and sent them to King Ben-hadad of Aram who lived in Damascus saying, 3“Let there be a covenant between you and me, as there was between my father and your father. Look, I have sent you silver and gold. Go, break your covenant with King Baasha of Israel so that he may withdraw from me.” 4So Ben-hadad consented to King Asa’s request and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel. They ravaged Ijon, Dan, Abelmaim and all the storage cities of Naphtali. 5When Baasa heard, he stopped building Ramah and stopped his work. 6Then King Asa took up all of Judah to carry away the stones of Ramah and the timber with which Baasa had been building—with them he fortified Geba and Mizpah. 7At that time the seer Hanani came to King Asa of Judah and said to him: “Because you have depended on the king of Aram, and not depended on Adonai your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped out of your hand. 8Were not the Cushites and the Libyans a mighty army with many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on Adonai, He delivered them into your hand. 9For the eyes of Adonai range throughtout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are wholly His. You have acted foolishly in this matter. Indeed, from now on you will have wars.” 10Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in the prison for he was enraged at him for this. Also Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time. 11Behold, the acts of Asa, from beginning to end, are written in the book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 12Now in the thirty-nineth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet. His illness was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek Adonai but physicians. 13Finally Asa slept with his fathers, dying in the forty-first year of his reign. 14He was buried in his own tomb, which he had hewn out for himself in the city of David. They laid him in his resting place, which was filled with sweet spices and various blended perfumes and they made a very large fire for him.

–from 2 Chronicles 16

It’s time to choose before it is too late! It’s time to ask Jesus into your heart and to start that relationship with Him! It’s time to be filled up and encouraged by Him and begin the journey as the new you, as the new creation with the old gone and the new, born again! It’s time to choose to be different! It’s time to choose to make a difference! It’s time to live out a life of faith that will bring God all the praise, the honor, and the glory! It’s time to choose life! It’s time to choose now in order to get to experience the greater things of God!

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

1Then I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2I looked, and behold, there was a white horse. The one riding on it had a bow, and a crown was given to him. He went out as a conqueror so he might conquer. 3When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come!” 4Then another horse came out, fiery red. The one riding on it was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another. He was given a great sword. 5When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come!” And behold, I saw a black horse. The one riding on it held a balance scale in his hand. 6Then I heard something like a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius—but do no harm to the oil and wine!” 7When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the fourth living creature saying, “Come!” 8Behold, I saw a horse, pale greenish gray. The name of the one riding on it was Death, and Sheol was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill by sword and by famine and by plague and by the wild beasts of the earth. 9When the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those slaughtered for the sake of the word of God and for the witness they had. 10And they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “O Sovereign Master, holy and true, how long before You judge those who dwell on the earth and avenge our blood?” 11Then a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants was complete—their brothers and sisters who were to be killed as they had been. 12I saw when the Lamb opened the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became as black as sackcloth made of goat’s hair, and the full moon became like blood. 13The stars of heaven fell to the earth like a fig tree drops unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14The heaven ripped apart like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved from their places. 15Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the military commanders and the rich and the mighty and everyone—slave and free—hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16And they tell the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. 17For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

–from The Revelation 6

How much pain do you want to suffer? How much pain do you want to endure?

It’s time to choose! It’s time to decide!




Truth and Integrity!

How important is truth to you? Is it important enough that you share it? Is it important enough that you require it? Is it the standard you expect everyone to be working at? Is it an absolute?

The truth will set you free!

People with integrity walk safely!

How important is integrity to you? How about the integrity in your relationships? How about the integrity of your workplace? How about the integrity of your vehicles? How about the integrity of your family?

What are the consequences?


define truth – Bing

  1. truth


    1. the quality or state of being true:
      “he had to accept the truth of her accusation”
      antonyms: dishonesty · falseness
      • (the truth)
        that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality:

        “tell me the truth” ·

        “she found out the truth about him”

        synonyms: what actually happened · the case · so ·

        the gospel (truth) · the honest truth · fact(s) · reality · real life · actuality
        antonyms: lies · fiction
      • a fact or belief that is accepted as true:
        “the emergence of scientific truths”
        synonyms: fact · verity · certainty · certitude · law · principle
        antonyms: lie · falsehood


    Old English trīewth, trēowth ‘faithfulness, constancy’ (see true, -th2).


    truth (noun)
    Powered by Oxford Dictionaries · © Oxford University Press · Translation by Bing Translator

But that definition uses the TRUE…
So let’s look up that word…


  1. [tro͞o]


    1. in accordance with fact or reality:

      “a true story” ·

      “of course it’s true” · “that is not true of the people I am talking about”

      synonyms: correct · accurate · right · verifiable ·[more]

      in accordance with the facts · what actually/really happened · well documented · the case · so · literal · factual · unelaborated · unvarnished
      antonyms: untrue · false · fallacious
    2. accurate or exact:
      “it was a true depiction”

      synonyms: accurate · true to life · faithful · telling it like it is ·[more]

      antonyms: inaccurate
      • (of a note) exactly in tune.
      • (of a compass bearing) measured relative to true north:
        “steer 085 degrees true”
      • correctly positioned, balanced, or aligned; upright or level.
    3. loyal or faithful:
      “he was a true friend”
      antonyms: disloyal · faithless
      • (true to)
        accurately conforming to (a standard or expectation); faithful to:
        “this entirely new production remains true to the essence of Lorca’s play”
    4. archaic
      “we appeal to all good men and true to rally to us”


    1. literary
      “Hobson spoke truer than he knew”
    2. accurately or without variation.


    1. bring (an object, wheel, or other construction) into the exact shape, alignment, or position required.


    Old English trēowe, trȳwe ‘steadfast, loyal’; related to Dutch getrouw, German treu, also to truce.


    true (adjective)
    truer (comparative adjective)
    truest (superlative adjective)
    true (adverb)
    true (verb)
    trues (third person present)
    trued (past tense)
    trued (past participle)
    truing (present participle)
    trueing (present participle)
    Powered by Oxford Dictionaries · © Oxford University Press · Translation by Bing Translator

Today’s reading begins in Proverbs…What will it take for a generation to learn or to get it?

What is The Name of His Son?

1The words of Agur son of Jakeh— an oracle this man declared to Ithiel, to Ithiel and to Ucal: 2“Surely I am more stupid than any man and do not have a man’s understanding. 3I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One. 4Who has gone up into heaven, and come down? Who has gathered the wind in the palm of His hand? Who has wrapped the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name and what is the name of His son—if you know?” 5Every word of God is purified. He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. 6Do not add to His words, or else He will rebuke You and prove you a liar. 7Two things I ask of You— do not refuse me before I die: 8Keep falsehood and lies far from me. Give me neither poverty nor riches, but feed me with my allotted bread, 9lest I become satisfied and deny You and say, “Who is Adonai?” Or lest I become poor, and steal and profane the Name of my God.

A Filthy, Haughty Generation

10Do not slander a servant to his master, or he will curse you, and you pay for it. 11There is a generation that curses its father and does not bless its mother. 12There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, and yet is not cleansed from its filth. 13There is a generation whose eyes are so haughty, whose eyelids are lifted up disdainfully. 14There is a generation whose teeth are swords and whose molars are knives, to devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among humanity. 15The leech has two daughters: “Give! Give!” Three things are never satisfied, four never say, “Enough!”— 16Sheol, a barren womb, land that is not satisfied with water, and fire that never says, “Enough!” 17The eye that mocks a father and scorns obeying a mother— will be pecked out by ravens of the valley and eaten by young vultures! 18Three things are too amazing for me, four I do not understand: 19the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent upon a rock, the way of a ship in the heart of the sea, and the way of a man with a maiden. 20Such is the way of an adulteress: she eats, wipes her mouth and says, “I have done nothing wrong.” 21Under three things the earth trembles, and under four it cannot bear up: 22under a slave when he becomes a king, a fool when he is stuffed with food, 23an unloved woman when she is married, and a handmaid when she displaces her mistress.

Lessons from Creatures

24Four things on earth are small, yet they are exceedingly wise: 25ants are creatures with little strength, yet they store up their food in summer; 26coneys are creatures with little power, yet they make their homes in the cliffs; 27locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks; 28a lizard you can catch with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces. 29Three things are stately in their stride, four that move with stately bearing: 30a lion, mighty among beasts, who never backs down from anything; 31a strutting rooster, a male-goat, and a king with his army around him. 32If you have acted foolishly, exalting yourself, or if you have planned evil, put your hand over your mouth. 33For as churning milk produces butter, and twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.

–from Proverbs 30

Is there a standard or a standard bearer that you are using to measure with? So what do you see? What do you hear? What are you learning?

Do you realize the blessing of the godly women in your life? Your grandmother? Your mom? Your wife?

A Mother’s Warning

1The words of King Lemuel, an oracle that his mother taught him: 2O my son, O son of my womb, O son of my vows, 3do not give your vigor to women, or your ways to what ruins kings. 4It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to crave strong drink, 5lest they drink, forget what is decreed, and pervert justice for all the oppressed. 6Give strong drink to one who is dying, and wine to those who are bitterly distressed— 7let him drink, forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more. 8Open your mouth on behalf of those unable to speak, for the justice of all who are destitute. 9Open your mouth, judge righteously, plead the cause of the poor and needy.

A Woman of Valor

10An accomplished woman who can find? Her value is far beyond rubies. 11Her husband’s heart trusts in her, and he lacks nothing valuable. 12She brings him good and not harm all the days of her life. 13She selects wool and flax and her hands work willingly. 14She is like merchant ships, bringing her sustenance from afar. 15She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and portions for her servant girls. 16She considers a field and buys it. From the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. 17She girds herself with strength and invigorates her arms. 18She discerns that her business is good. Her lamp never goes out at night. 19She extends her hands to the spindle and her palm grasps the spinning wheel. 20She spreads out her palms to the poor, and extends her hands to the needy. 21She is not afraid of snow for her house, for her whole household is clothed in scarlet wool. 22She makes her own luxurious coverings. Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23Her husband is respected at the city gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. 24She makes linen garments and sells them and supplies sashes to the merchants. 25Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the days to come. 26She opens her mouth with wisdom— a lesson of kindness is on her tongue. 27She watches over the affairs of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28Her children arise and bless her, her husband also praises her: 29“Many daughters have excelled, but you surpass them all.” 30Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears Adonai will be praised. 31Give her the fruit of her hands. Let her deeds be her praise at the gates.

–from Proverbs 31

Are you living for God? Are you a living sacrifice where your life is an offering to God? Are your words praise to God? Are you actions offerings up to God? Why do you do what you do? Why do you say what you say? What is the motivating factor? What is the driving factor?

Sing a New Song

1Sing to Adonai a new song! Sing to Adonai, all the earth. 2Sing to Adonai, bless His Name. Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. 3Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. 4For great is Adonai, and greatly to be praised. He is to be feared above all gods. 5For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but Adonai made the heavens. 6Splendor and majesty are before Him. Strength and beauty are in His Sanctuary. 7Ascribe to Adonai, O families of peoples. Ascribe to Adonai glory and strength. 8Ascribe to Adonai the glory of His Name. Bring an offering and come into His courts. 9Bow down to Adonai in holy splendor. Tremble before Him, all the earth. 10Say among the nations: “Adonai reigns!” The world is firmly established— it will not move. He will judge the peoples with fairness. 11Let the heavens be glad, let the earth rejoice. Let the sea roar—and all that fills it. 12Let the land exult—and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy— 13before Adonai, for He is coming! For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples in His faithfulness.

–from Psalms 96

Jesus is the answer! Jesus is the standard! Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life! Jesus is the light in this dark world! Jesus is the hope for the hopeless! Jesus is the foundation that is rock solid on which to build your life!

God’s Manifested Word of Life

1What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of life— 2the life was revealed, and we have seen and testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us. 3What we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so you may have fellowship with us. Indeed, our fellowship is with the Father and His Son, Yeshua the Messiah. 4These things we write so our joy may be full.

God’s Light Dispels Darkness

5Now this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you—that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6If we say we have fellowship with Him and keep walking in the darkness, we are lying and do not practice the truth. 7But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of His Son Yeshua purifies us from all sin.

Cleansing Begins with Confessing

8If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

–from 1 John 1


Have you invited God into your heart?

Have you made the most important decision of your life yet? Have you decided to follow Him all the days of your life? Have demonstrated to others publicly through baptism? Have you ask Jesus into your heart?

Do you realize the impact of the decision? Do you realize what happens? Do you realize what your body becomes? 1 Corinthians 6 tells us:

19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]? 20 You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body.

So how are you living? Are others able to see the transformed you? Are you shining the light of Jesus to the world around you? Are you spicing up the world around you by being salt? Are you living to make a difference not just on Sundays but everyday in the situations God has positioned and placed you into? Will you take care of God’s temple – the temple of the Holy Spirit so that the price paid by Jesus when He gave it all on the cross will be praised and glorified and exalted high?

If not now then when? If not here then where? If not you then who? If not you then what?

Today’s reading speaks of the old temple, the one built by Solomon…

Adonai Has Chosen Jerusalem

1Then Solomon declared, “Adonai has said that He would dwell in the thick cloud; 2I have built You a magnificent House and a place for You to dwell forever.” 3Then, while all the congregation of Israel was standing the king turned his face and blessed the whole congregation of Israel. 4He said: “Blessed be Adonai, the God of Israel, who with His hands has fulfilled what He spoke with His mouth to my father David, saying: 5‘Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I did not choose a city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a House that My Name might be there. Nor did I choose any man to be a leader over My people Israel. 6But I have chosen Jerusalem that My Name would abide there and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’ 7“Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a House for the Name of Adonai, the God of Israel. 8But Adonai said to David my father: ‘As for you wanting in your heart to build a House for My Name, you did well that this was in your heart. 9Nevertheless, you will not build the House. Rather your son who will be born to you, he will build the House for My Name.’ 10“Now Adonai has confirmed His promise that He spoke. I have succeeded my father David and sit on the throne of Israel, just as Adonai promised, and I have built the House for the Name of Adonai, the God of Israel. 11There have I set the Ark in which is the Covenant of Adonai that He made with Bnei-Yisrael.”

Solomon’s Prayer

12Then he stood before the altar of Adonai in front of the entire congregation of Israel and spread forth his hands. 13For Solomon had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high and placed it in the midst of the court. He stood on it and knelt down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven 14and he said, “Adonai, God of Israel, there is no God like You in the heavens or in the earth, keeping covenant and showing mercy to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart. 15You have kept the promise You made to Your servant David, my father. Surely you spoke with Your mouth and have fulfilled it with Your hand—as it is today. 16“Now therefore, Adonai, God of Israel, keep for Your servant David, my father, that which You have promised him saying: ‘For you will never be cut off, you will not fail to have a man sit before Me on the throne—if only your sons pay attention to their way, to walk in My Torah as you have walked before Me.’ 17“Now therefore, Adonai God of Israel, let Your word, which You spoke to Your servant David, be confirmed. 18“But will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold—heaven even the highest heaven—cannot contain You. How much less this House that I have built! 19Yet attend to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplication, Adonai my God, to hear the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You 20that Your eyes may be open toward this House day and night, toward the place where You have said You would put Your Name there, to listen to the prayer which Your servant will pray toward this place. 21Hear the supplications of Your servant and Your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from Your dwelling place, from heaven, and when You hear, forgive. 22“If a man sins against his neighbor and is required to swear an oath, and he comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this House, 23then hear from heaven and act. Judge Your servants, repaying the wicked by bringing down on his own head what he has done and vindicating the righteous by rewarding him according to his righteousness. 24“If Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, yet when they return and confess Your Name, praying and making supplication before You in this House, 25then hear from heaven, forgive the sin of Your people Israel and bring them back to the land which You gave to them and to their fathers. 26“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, if they pray toward this place and confess Your Name, turning from their sin because You afflicted them, 27then may You hear from heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel. Indeed may You teach them the good way in which they should walk. Send rain upon Your land that You have given to Your people for an inheritance. 28“When there is famine in the land, when there is pestilence, blight, mildew, locust or grasshopper, when their enemies besiege them in the land by their gates, whatever plague or sickness may come, 29and any prayer or plea is offered by any individual or by all Your people Israel—each acknowledging his own afflictions and pain, even spreading his hands toward this House— 30then may You hear from heaven, Your dwelling place and forgive. May You give to every man according to all his ways, as You know his heart—for You alone know the hearts of the children of men— 31so that they will fear You and walk in Your ways all the days that they live in the land that You gave to our fathers. 32“Moreover, concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel but comes from a distant land for the sake of Your great Name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray toward this House, 33then may You hear from heaven, Your dwelling place and do whatever the foreigner asks of You. Then all the peoples of the earth will acknowledge Your Name and revere You, as Your people Israel do, and they will know that this House which I have built is called by Your Name. 34“When Your people go out to battle against their enemies, wherever You send them, and they pray to You toward this city that You have chosen and the House that I have built for Your Name, 35then hear from heaven their prayer and their petition, and uphold their cause. 36When they sin against You—for there is no man that does not sin —and You become angry with them and hand them over to the enemy who takes them captive to a land far off or near, 37when they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and they repent and seek You in the land of their captivity saying, ‘We have sinned, we have committed inquity, we have acted wickedly,’ 38“and they return to You with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken captive, and they pray toward their land which You gave to their fathers and the city which You have chosen and toward the House which I have built for Your Name, 39then may You hear from heaven, Your dwelling place, their prayer and their petitions and uphold their cause, and forgive Your people who have sinned against You. 40“Now my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open, and let Your ears be attentive to the prayer made in this place. 41Now arise, Adonai Elohim, to Your resting place, You and the Ark of Your might. May Your kohanim, Adonai Elohim, be clothed with salvation, and may Your godly ones rejoice in goodness. 42Adonai Elohim, do not reject Your anointed one. Remember the loyalty of Your servant David.”

–from 2 Chronicles 6 (TLV)

So let’s live lives that turned towards God! Let’s live lives that are in alignment to God’s will loving God and loving people!

Have you walked away? Have you strayed? Turn back to Him! Never made a decision to follow after Jesus? Ask Him to forgive you and watch Him receive you and restore you through a process that will encourage and strengthen you. Consider the prayer of Solomon above and consider asking Jesus to move into your heart and help get it cleaned up and put a new heart in you! God can do all things! Nothing is too big for God! So let’s turn back to Him and give it up into His hands!

You can never be too far to be able to turn back to God! So turn back before it is too late because the key is a decision and it’s a decision only you can make! We are given the gift of freewill so we get a free choice to choose if we will receive and accept God’s gift or if we won’t. I pray that today you will choose to receive it and start the new life journey of walking out the rest of your life walking with Jesus through the lows, up the mountains, and on the mountain tops!

God is faithful and true! There is no darkness in Him! He is good to His Word so we can trust Him! So we can turn back to Him if we slip up or stray! We can humble ourselves and ask Him for forgiveness and He will!  If we will humble ourselves, turn from our evil ways, turn to Him and pray for forgiveness, then He will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land!

They sacrificed a lot! They sacrificed regularly with burned offerings! Jesus paid it all once for all! So let’s be living sacrifices! So our part is that when we find ourselves far from God that we will humble ourselves, turn from our evil ways and back to Him, and pray for forgiveness! We need to be able to do this not only individually but also corporately – at work! as a country! as a neighborhood! as a city! as a state! as a province! And then God who is faithful and just will hear our prayers, forgive our sins, and heal our land! And don’t we need some healing right now?

Consider God’s response to Solomon’s prayer that speaks to God’s great love…

Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret

1Now when Solomon finished praying the fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of Adonai filled the House. 2The kohanim could not even enter into the House of Adonai because the glory of Adonai filled the House of Adonai. 3When all Bnei-Yisrael saw the fire come down and the glory of Adonai above the House, they bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, prostrating themselves and praising Adonai, “For He is good and His mercy endures forever.” 4Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before Adonai. 5King Solomon offered a sacrifice of 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated the House of God. 6The kohanim stood at their posts, as did the Levites with the musical instruments of Adonai that King David had made for praising Adonai—“for His mercy endures forever”—whenever David offered praise by their hand. Opposite them were the kohanim who sounded trumpets while all Israel was standing. 7Moreover, Solomon consecrated the middle of the courtyard that was before the House of Adonai, because there he offered the burnt offerings and the fat of the peace offerings, since the bronze altar which Solomon had made was not able to contain the burnt offering, the grain offering and the fat. 8At that time, Solomon observed the feast for seven days and all Israel with him—a very great assembly from Lebo-hamath to the Brook of Egypt. 9On the eighth day they held a solemn assembly, for they had celebrated the dedication of the altar for seven days and the feast for seven days. 10On the 23rd day of the seventh month he sent the people away to their tents, joyful and glad of heart for the goodness that Adonai had done for David, Solomon and Israel His people.

Adonai’s Promise to Solomon

11Thus Solomon finished the House of Adonai and the king’s palace. Indeed, all that Solomon had on his heart to accomplish in the House of Adonai and in his own palace, he successfully completed. 12Then Adonai appeared to Solomon at night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself for a House of sacrifice. 13If I shut up heaven that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14when My people, 0ver whom My Name is called, humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. 16For now I have chosen and consecrated this House so that My Name may be there forever. My eyes and My heart shall be there perpetually. 17“As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, doing all that I have commanded you, keeping My statutes and My ordinances, 18then I will establish your royal throne as I covenanted with your father David saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to be ruler in Israel.’ 19But if you turn away and forsake My decrees and My mitzvot that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 20then I will uproot them from My land which I gave them, and this House which I have consecrated for My Name I will cast out of My sight. I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 21As for this House, which is so exalted, every one passing by it shall be appalled and say, ‘Why has Adonai done this to this land and to this House?’ 22And they will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken Adonai, the God of their fathers who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and clung to other gods, worshipping and serving them. Therefore He has brought all this misery upon them’”

–from Chronicles 7 (TLV)

So let’s give it up to God! If He isn’t in it, then we are working in vain! If He isn’t over it, then we are watching in vain! We need to be with Him! We need to align with Him! We need to make the choice that will transform the future! We need to ask Jesus into our heart and we need to walk out our lives with Him as our closest friend! The Holy Spirit will lead us and guide! The Holy Spirit will encourage us and comfort us! So let’s step up and stand out that others may see our works and praise our Father in heaven! Let’s leave a legacy that our children can be proud of! Let’s provide them a legacy that they can follow after!

He Gives Sleep to His Children

1A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. Unless Adonai builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless Adonai watches over the city, the watchman stands guard in vain. 2In vain you rise up early and stay up late, eating the bread of toil— for He provides for His beloved ones even in their sleep. 3Behold, children are a heritage of Adonai —the fruit of the womb is a reward. 4As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the children of one’s youth. 5Happy is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they speak with their enemies at the gate.

–from Psalms 127 (TLV)

Things won’t be perfect because we live in a fallen world, however, God will help us through it! Just as Jesus was troubled and persecuted, in this world we will have troubles, but Jesus told us to take heart because He has overcome the world! Jesus also told us we are to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds for they are doing a work in us in James 1…

2   My friends, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, 3for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. 4Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

So as we close in Hebrews, let’s reflect on God and make sure we are ready, we are prepared to do the good work God has prepared in advance for us to do!

Perfect Pardon in the New Covenant

1The Torah has a shadow of the good things to come—not the form itself of the realities. For this reason it can never, by means of the same sacrifices they offer constantly year after year, make perfect those who draw near. 2Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers—cleansed once and for all—would no longer have consciousness of sins? 3But in these sacrifices is a reminder of sins year after year— 4for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5So when Messiah comes into the world, He says, “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You prepared for Me. 6In whole burnt offerings and sin offerings You did not delight. 7Then I said, ‘Behold, I come to do Your will, O God (in the scroll of the book it is written of Me).’” 8After saying above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sin offerings You did not desire, nor did You delight in them” (those which are offered according to Torah), 9then He said, “Behold, I come to do Your will.” He takes away the first to establish the second. 10By His will we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Messiah Yeshua once for all. 11Indeed, every kohen stands day by day serving and offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. 12But on the other hand, when this One offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God— 13waiting from then on, until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. 14For by one offering He has perfected forever those being made holy. 15The Ruach ha-Kodesh also testifies to us—for after saying, 16“This is the covenant that I will cut with them: ‘After those days,’ says Adonai, ‘I will put My Torah upon their hearts, and upon their minds I will write it,’” then He says, 17“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18Now where there is removal of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

Let Us Pray Boldly in God’s Presence

19Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have boldness to enter into the Holies by the blood of Yeshua. 20He inaugurated a new and living way for us through the curtain—that is, His flesh. 21We also have a Kohen Gadol over God’s household. 22So let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and body washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the unwavering confession of hope, for He who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good deeds. 25And do not neglect our own meetings, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another—and all the more so as you see the Day approaching. 26For if we keep on sinning willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but only a terrifying expectation of judgment and a fury of fire about to devour the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the Torah of Moses dies without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severe do you think the punishment will be for the one who has trampled Ben-Elohim underfoot, and has regarded as unholy the blood of the covenant by which he was made holy, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know the One who said, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,” and again, “Adonai will judge His people.” 31It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Suffering Perfects Yeshua’s Followers

32But remember the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a great struggle with sufferings. 33Sometimes you were publicly exposed to abuses and afflictions, and other times you became partners with those who were treated this way. 34For you suffered along with the prisoners and joyfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you have for yourselves a better and lasting possession. 35Therefore, do not lose your boldness, which has great reward. 36For you need perseverance so that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. 37For yet “in a very little while, the Coming One will come, and He will not delay. 38But My righteous one shall live by emunah; and if he shrinks back, My soul takes no pleasure in him.” 39But we are not among the timid ones on the path to destruction, but among the faithful ones on the path to the preservation of the soul.

–from Hebrews 10 (TLV)





God is faithful! He will keep His Word!

If He calls you to it, He will help you through it! If He makes a promise to you, He will keep it! You can put all your hope and trust in Him! Be it with messages of getting out the boat and leaving what you’ve known for 19 years to step out in faith to do whatever it is He is calling you out to, He is faithful! Be it with messages of stepping up into a role that you feel is bigger than you and feel unprepared for, He is faithful! Whatever He calls you to, He will get you through! Don’t allow the lies of the enemy to hold you back from the promises of God! Don’t allow the fears and the doubt from self keep you from stepping up or stepping out into what God is calling you to do, you don’t want to miss the incredible miracles and promises He has in store for you! When you step out in faith, He will bring the right position at the right time – even when I was 95% sure where I was going, He showed up and now I have been in my new role at a new company for just over 3 yrs. When He calls you to step up, He knows the right place and the right time for the right purpose – He helped me with the staff, with hiring someone in my normal job would have been a higher rank to me and hiring the right person for the right time by having provided me with  name. He called me to it so I trust Him and called to Him to provide me with help to make big decisions from hiring director, adjusting insurance, and balancing the budget. God is good! God is faithful! And He keeps His Word!

So let’s take a look into today’s reading…

Towns for the Levites

1Then the heads of ancestral houses of the Levites approached Eleazar the kohen and Joshua son of Nun and the heads of ancestral houses of the tribes of Bnei-Yisrael, 2and they spoke to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan saying: “Adonai commanded through Moses to give us towns to live in, with their pastures for our cattle.” 3So Bnei-Yisrael gave to the Levites from their inheritance, according to the command of Adonai, these towns and their pastures: 4the lot came out for the clan of the Kohathites. The children of Aaron the kohen, who were of the Levites, received 13 towns by lot from the tribe of Judah, the tribe of Simeon and the tribe of Benjamin. 5The rest of the children of Kohath received 10 towns by lot from the clans of the tribe of Ephraim, the tribe of Dan and the half-tribe of Manasseh. 6The children of Gershon received 13 towns by lot from the clans of the tribe of Issachar, the tribe of Asher, the tribe of Naphtali and the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan. 7The children of Merari according to their clans received 12 towns from the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad and the tribe of Zebulun. 8So Bnei-Yisrael gave by lot to the Levites these towns with their pastures, as Adonai had commanded through Moses. 9They gave from the tribe of the children of Judah and from the tribe of the children of Simeon these towns which are here mentioned by name. 10They were for the children of Aaron, of the clans of the Kohathites, of the children of Levi, for theirs was the first lot: 11So they gave them Kiriath-arba, the father of Anak (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah, with its surrounding pastures. 12But the fields of the city and its villages they had already given to Caleb son of Jephunneh as his possession. 13But to the children of Aaron the kohen they assigned Hebron (the city of refuge for the manslayer) with its pastures, Libnah with its pastures, 14Jattir with its pastures, Eshtemoa with its pastures, 15Holon with its pastures, Debir with its pastures, 16Ain with its pastures, Juttah with its pastures and Beth-shemesh with its pastures—9 towns from these two tribes. 17Then from the tribe of Benjamin: Gibeon with its pastures, Geba with its pastures, 18Anathoth with its pastures and Almon with its pastures—4 towns. 19All the towns of the kohanim, the children of Aaron, were 13 towns with their pastures. 20As for the other clans of the children of Kohath, the remaining Levites descended from the children of Kohath, the towns of their lot were from the tribe of Ephraim. 21So they gave them Shechem (the city of refuge for the manslayer) with its pastures in the hill country of Ephraim, Gezer with its pastures, 22Kibzaim with its pastures and Beth-horon with its pastures—4 towns. 23From the tribe of Dan: Elteke with its pastures, Gibbethon with its pastures, 24Aijalon with its pastures and Gath-rimmon with its pastures—4 towns. 25From the half-tribe of Manasseh: Taanach with its pastures and Gath-rimmon with its pastures— 2 towns. 26All the towns of the clans of the rest of the children of Kohath were 10 with their pastures. 27Now to the children of Gershon of the clans of the Levites: from the half-tribe of Manasseh they gave Golan (the city of refuge for the manslayer) in Bashan with its pastures and Beeshterah with its pastures—2 towns. 28From the tribe of Issachar: Kishion with its pastures, Dobrath with its pastures, 29Jarmuth with its pastures and En-gannim with its pastures—4 towns. 30From the tribe of Asher: Mishal with its pastures, Abdon with its pastures, 31Helkath with its pastures, and Rehob with its pastures—4 towns. 32From the tribe of Naphtali: Kedesh (the city of refuge for the manslayer) in Galilee with its pastures, Hammoth-dor with its pastures, Kartan with its pastures—3 towns. 33All the towns of the Gershonites according to their clans were 13 towns with their pastures. 34To the remaining Levites of the clans of the children of Merari, they gave from the tribe of Zebulun: Jokneam with its pastures, Kartah with its pastures, 35Dimnah with its pastures, and Nahalal with its pastures—4 towns. 36From the tribe of Reuben: Bezer with its pastures, Jahaz with its pastures, 37Kedemoth with its pastures and Mephaath with its pastures—4 cities. 38From the tribe of Gad: Ramoth (the city of refuge for the manslayer) in Gilead with its pastures, Mahanaim with its pastures, 39Heshbon with its pastures, and Jazer with its pastures—4 towns in all. 40All the towns that went by lot to the children of Merari (the remaining Levites) according to their clans, were 12 towns. 41The total of the towns of the Levites within the holdings of Bnei-Yisrael was 48 towns with their pastures. 42Each of these towns had its own pastures; so it was for all these towns.

Adonai Keeps All His Promises

43So Adonai gave to Israel the entire land that He had sworn to give to their fathers. They took possession and settled in it. 44Then Adonai gave them rest on all sides, just as He had sworn to their fathers. Not one man of all their enemies withstood them, for Adonai gave all their enemies into their hand. 45Not one good thing that Adonai had promised to the house of Israel failed. All came to pass.

–from Joshua 21

Have you done anything to help you remember? Have you setup anything that points people to the hope that is within you? Have you anything that reminds you of all that God has done in and through you and your life? Do you have anything that helps you to remember all the things you have to be thankful for?

Altar of Witness

1Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, Gadites and half-tribe of Manasseh, 2and said to them: “You have kept all that Moses the servant of Adonai commanded you, and have listened to my voice in all that I commanded you. 3You have not abandoned your kinsmen these many days to this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of Adonai your God. 4So now Adonai your God has given rest to your kinsmen, as He said to them. So now, turn and go to your tents, to the land that is your possession, which Moses the servant of Adonai gave you beyond the Jordan. 5Only be very careful to observe the mitzvah and the Torah which Moses the servant of Adonai commanded you, to love Adonai your God and walk in all His ways, and to keep His mitzvot, cling to Him and worship Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” 6So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their tents. 7Now to the one half-tribe of Manasseh Moses had given inheritance in Bashan, but to the other half Joshua gave territory among their kinsmen to the west of the Jordan. Moreover, when Joshua sent them away to their tents, he blessed them 8and spoke to them saying: “Return to your tents with great wealth and with very much cattle, with silver, gold, bronze, iron and with very many clothes. Share the spoil of your enemies with your brothers.” 9So the children of Reuben, the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh returned and departed from Bnei-Yisrael at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, to go to the land of Gilead, to the land of their inheritance that they had possessed, according to the mouth of Adonai by Moses’ hand. 10Now when they came to the region near the Jordan in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by the Jordan—a large, conspicuous altar. 11Then Bnei-Yisrael heard about it and said: “Behold, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built an altar opposite the land of Canaan, in the region of the Jordan, across from Bnei-Yisrael.” 12And when Bnei-Yisrael heard of it, the whole congregation of Bnei-Yisrael assembled at Shiloh to go up against them in war. 13So Bnei-Yisrael sent word to the children of Reuben, the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, Phinehas son of Eleazar the kohen, 14and with him ten chieftains, one chieftain from each ancestral house of each of the tribes of Israel. Every one of them was the head of his ancestral house among the thousands of Israel. 15So they came to the children of Reuben, the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh in the land of Gilead, and spoke with them saying: 16“Thus says the whole congregation of Adonai: ‘What is this treachery that you have committed today against the God of Israel, by turning away from following Adonai, building yourselves an altar, rebelling this day against Adonai? 17Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we have not cleansed ourselves to this day, although a plague came on the congregation of Adonai, 18that you would turn away this day from following Adonai? Now you rebel against Adonai today, tomorrow He will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel! 19If, however, the land of your possession is unclean, then cross over to the land of the possession of Adonai, where Adonai’s Tabernacle stands. Acquire holdings among us, but do not rebel against Adonai or against us by building an altar for yourselves other than the altar of Adonai our God. 20Did not Achan son of Zerah act unfaithfully concerning the things under the ban, and so wrath fell on the entire community of Israel? Nor did that man perish alone in his iniquity.’” 21Then the children of Reuben, the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh answered, and spoke to the heads of the thousands of Israel: 22“God of gods is Adonai! God of gods is Adonai! He knows, and may Israel itself know! If we acted in rebellion or in treachery against Adonai, don’t spare us this day! 23If we have built an altar to turn away from following Adonai, or if it was to offer burnt offering or grain offering on it, or to offer sacrifices of fellowship offerings on it, let Adonai Himself require it. 24But we have done this rather out of anxious concern, for a reason, saying: ‘In the future, your children might say to our children: “What have you to do with Adonai, God of Israel? 25For Adonai has made the Jordan a border between us and you, you children of Reuben and children of Gad—you have no share in Adonai!” So your children may make our children stop fearing Adonai. 26“Therefore we said: ‘Let’s now build an altar for ourselves—not for burnt offering or for sacrifice— 27but as a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, so that we may do the service of Adonai before Him with our burnt offerings, with our sacrifices and with our fellowship offerings. Then your children may not say to our children in times to come. “You have no share in Adonai!”’ 28Therefore we said: ‘If they say such to us or to our future generations, then we will say, “See the replica of the altar of Adonai which our fathers made—not for burnt offering or for sacrifice, but as a witness between us and you.”’ 29Far be it from us that we should rebel against Adonai and turn away this day from following Adonai, by building an altar for burnt offering, for grain offering or for sacrifice, besides the altar of Adonai our God that stands before His Tabernacle.” 30So when Phinehas the kohen and the leaders of the congregation—the heads of the thousands of Israel who were with him—heard the words that the children of Reuben, the children of Gad and the children of Manasseh spoke, it pleased them well. 31So Phinehas son of Eleazar the kohen said to the children of Reuben, the children of Gad and the children of Manasseh, “Today we know that Adonai is in the midst of us, because you have not committed this treachery against Adonai. Now you have delivered Bnei-Yisrael from the hand of Adonai.” 32Then Phinehas son of Eleazar the kohen and the leaders returned from the children of Reuben and from the children of Gad, from the land of Gilead, to the land of Canaan, to Bnei-Yisrael, and brought back a report to them. 33The report pleased Bnei-Yisrael, and Bnei-Yisrael blessed God, and they did not speak of going up against them in war, to destroy the land in which the children of Reuben and the children of Gad were living. 34So the children of Reuben and the children of Gad named the altar, “for it is a witness between us that Adonai is God.”

–from Joshua 22

So let’s rejoice in the Lord! Let’s celebrate having Him in our lives! Let’s celebrate all that Jesus has done for us! Let’s celebrate and not forget how faithful He is! Let’s celebrate and give thanks for His love and faithfulness! Let’s make sure our focus is on glorifying Him in and through the way we live out today and everyday! Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness…Honor your father and mother…Consider the promises and grab onto them and pursue His will in and through your life…Let’s be peacemakers! Let’s be encouragers! Let’s be content! Let’s live lives that glorify God!

1Therefore, my brothers and sisters whom I love and long for, my joy and crown—stand firm in the Lord in this way, my loved ones.

Rejoice in the Lord Always

2I urge Euodia and Syntyche to be in harmony in the Lord. 3Yes, and I ask you, true companion, to help these women—they labored side by side with me in spreading the Good News, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. 4Rejoice in the Lord always—again I will say, rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be known to all people. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything—but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7And the shalom of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Yeshua. 8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any virtue and if there is anything worthy of praise—dwell on these things. 9What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—put these things into practice, and the God of shalom will be with you.

The Secret of Contentment

10I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me (though you were concerned before but lacked opportunity to show it). 11I am not saying this because I am in need—for whatever circumstance I am in, I have learned to be content. 12I know what it is to live with humble means, and I know what it is to live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment—both to be filled and to go hungry, to have abundance and to suffer need. 13I can do all things through Messiah who strengthens me. 14Nevertheless, you have done well to share in my trouble. 15Now you Philippians also know that in the beginning of the Good News, when I left Macedonia, not a single community partnered with me in giving and receiving—except you alone. 16For even in Thessalonica you sent something for my need more than once. 17Not that I am looking for a gift, but for fruit that overflows to your credit. 18But I have received everything and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you sent—a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19My God will fulfill every need of yours according to the riches of His glory in Messiah Yeshua. 20To our God and Father be the glory forever and ever! Amen.

Final Greetings and Blessings

21Greet all the kedoshim in Messiah Yeshua. The brethren who are with me greet you. 22All the kedoshim greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. 23The grace of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah be with your spirit.

–from Philippians 4