Whatcha got?


What do you have? What is your most valuable asset? What is your most valuable possession? How do you measure value? Would others consider it valuable?

[ˈvaly(o͞o)əb(ə)l]
ADJECTIVE
  1. worth a great deal of money:
    “a valuable antique”
NOUN
  1. a thing that is of great worth, especially a small item of personal property:
    “put all your valuables in the hotel safe”

Do you know what someone means if they want “the book“? How about if someone said they wanted to read from “the good book“? Do you realize the value of the Bible? Do you realize what you have available to you through the Bible? It’s God’s instruction manual! It’s God’s promises! It’s God’s love letter to us! It’s God’s word speaking over us!

The greatest possession we can have is a relationship with Jesus! The greatest gift we have been given is the gift of Jesus! It’s worth is beyond measure! It’s value is too great to calculate!

So, let’s live out our lives in a way that will glorify God and lift Him up, making Jesus known in and through the way we live our lives! Let’s not allow life to rob us of His truth, His love, His promises, His plans, and His purpose for us! Let’s make Jesus known in the world around us and that it is all about starting and having a relationship with Him for the rest of our lives! Will you speak truth in love?

Let’s finish strong! Let’s not give up or lose hope! Let’s reflect on the words of Paul before we look into today’s Word and devotional!

7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

–from 2 Timothy 4:7

 


Your Most Valuable Possession

Day 298: Bible In One Year 2017

  1. Love God’s words … Psalm 119:97-104
  2. Proclaim God’s words … 2 Timothy 4:1-22
    • The apostle Paul urges, ‘proclaim the Message’ (v.2a, MSG). This passage is then full of practical advice on how to go about doing this.

      Get involved

      Paul writes to Timothy, ‘I give you this charge’ (v.1). His charge to Timothy is to be an evangelist and a preacher. According to the New Testament this is also the task of every Christian.

      Speak about Jesus

      Paul says preach ‘the Word’ (v.2a). The Greek word here is ‘logos’, which was used to describe Jesus in John 1:1. The good news is all about Jesus.

      When we hear the word ‘preach’ we often think of a person in robes addressing a group of convinced believers within the precinct of the church. The word Paul uses here means a herald who delivers a message that has been given to them by the king. It is an ‘up to the minute’ relevant message. You may not be a ‘preacher’ but you can be a herald of the good news about Jesus.

      Be prepared

      It is important to be prepared and ready to take advantage of every opportunity God gives you to speak about your faith. Paul writes, ‘be prepared in season and out of season’ (2 Timothy 4:2) – that is, when it is convenient and when it is not. The word he uses for ‘prepared’ has military connotations. He is saying, stay at your post. Be on duty. On guard. Be ready. Be at hand.

      Speak to the whole person

      Paul’s message is holistic. First, it appeals to the mind (v.5). He says ‘correct’ (v.2), which could be translated as ‘prove’. We are to teach the gospel with ‘careful instruction’ (v.2). Our presentation of the gospel should never be devoid of content. Paul’s message is based on evidence and reason. Indeed, Paul says to Timothy, ‘keep your head’ (v.5).

      Second, it is an appeal to the heart and conscience. He says, ‘rebuke’ (v.2). Reason is not enough – a change of heart is required.

      Third, it is an appeal to the will: ‘encourage’. We need to get alongside people and help them with ‘great patience’ (v.2). This is a spirit that never gets irritated, never despairs and never regards a person as beyond salvation.

      Keep speaking the truth

      You may be tempted to change the content to what your hearers want to hear, or to what you think they are more likely to respond to, but keep passing on the same message that has been handed down to you. In spite of the fact that some people may prefer ‘spiritual junk food – catchy opinions that tickle their fancy’ to ‘solid teaching’ (v.3, MSG) – keep proclaiming the truth of the gospel.

      Keep going

      Paul writes to Timothy, ‘do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry’ (v.5c). Telling others is your responsibility before God. Jesus is coming back to judge and reign (v.1). What you do now has eternal consequences. You are going to have to give an account.

      Therefore, be willing to endure hardship (v.5). If you preach this message, you will be misunderstood, misrepresented and misinterpreted. Paul has been deserted by Demas (v.10). He has been strongly opposed by Alexander, the metal worker who did him a great deal of harm (v.14). No one stood up for Paul in his hour of greatest need (v.16).

      Never give up. Listen to Paul’s words to Timothy as if they were addressed to you: ‘make the spreading of the good news your life work’ (v.5, JBP). This is what Paul did. He was willing to be poured out like a drink offering (v.6).

      Now he says to Timothy, ‘You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting – God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming’ (vv.6–8, MSG).

      Know that the Lord is on your side

      In spite of all the opposition and difficulties, one thing makes all the difference: ‘The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength’ (v.17). This is so that ‘the message might be fully proclaimed and all Gentiles might hear it’ (v.17). Paul is confident about his future, even though he is facing the immediate threat of death (v.18). His greatest desire for Timothy and the other believers with him is that they are intimately connected to Jesus. His final words are, ‘The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you’ (v.22).

      –from Day 298: Bible In One Year 2017

  3. Declare God’s words … Jeremiah 51:15-64

Today’s reading from God’s Word…

 

What is your top priority?


If you say it is your top priority are you spending time on it? If you say it is your top priority are you investing in it? If you say it is your top priority are you doing anything about it?

I remember a time when I let my priorities and my life get out of sync. I didn’t realize how out of sync it was until that day when I went in to see the doctor and discovered that my diabetes was out of whack. He did his part helping me to learn more about diabetes and my health through dietician and counting carbs and how to inject based on those numbers and getting the ratio of carbs/insulin to help balance things out.

That was the light turning on! That was the aha moment that I needed to go back and validate my life against my priorities! And so I did and had to adjust the way I worked, the way I volunteered, the way I started my day, the way I spent time with my family, everything had to change to get back into alignment with what I said my priorities were.

How about you? What do you say your priorities are? Is your life aligned to it?

For me the order goes like this: God, Wife, Kids, … just looking at that anything and everything else can’t get any higher priority that 4th place if I say God is first. So how does that change things? For me I start my day with God – in His Word, writing this blog that He told me to write back in 2005, praying for my wife, my kids, my extended family, my friends, and speaking to Him throughout the day. Second, I had to adjust my work schedule so that I was at home for dinner with my family, I had to adjust my work style not only delegating stuff but also had to stop micromanaging things in order for me to have family time when I got home. It’s important to invest into your top priorities! Time goes by so fast and without it your marriage, your kids, your family all will grow up and you will either miss out or be left out or even worse.

So we all have a choice to make. We all need to make a decision of what our priorities really are! We all then need to reflect on them as we consider how we are living out our lives!

Is there anything you need to change? Is there anything you need to reconsider? Is there anything you need to let go of? Is there anything you need to take hold of? Is there anything that is in debt and needs you to start investing more into? We each find ourselves in a very specific situation and we all need to determine for ourselves.

God will grant you wisdom! I remember a book called First Things First from a long time back in my career that I had listened to via audio book. God also reminded me in His Word how we are to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and then He will take care of the rest of the needs! So what are you going to do?

So once you learn that, will you pass it along? Do you realize that as a leader our most important task is to pass on the wisdom and the knowledge to those around us? Do you realize the importance of investing in them? your family? your friends? your co-workers? your church? your world?

A person I follow on social network but haven’t had the opportunity yet to meet in person is John Maxwell. Today’s devotional speaks of him in the following way:

‘Great leaders all have one thing in common. They know that acquiring and keeping good people is a leader’s most important task,’ writes John Maxwell in his book, Developing the Leaders Around You. He urges his readers, ‘Find the best people you can, then develop them into the best leaders they can be.’

–from Day 295: Bible In One Year 2017

Do you have someone in your life that you are mentoring? Someone who is like a protegé? Someone who you are helping, teaching, training, and developing? Do you have a mentor or someone who is help you, teaching you, training you, and developing you in your life? God’s Word is powerful and has wisdom for every situation! God’s Word for today dives into this topic using the example of Paul and Timothy! Are you pouring into the next generation? Are you looking for opportunities to speak truth, life, hope, and love into their lives? Are you looking for opportunities to share the truth of Jesus with them? Are you being a good example? Are you helping set the right foundation for them? (which is Jesus!)

Are you appreciating the wisdom of the generation before you? Are you appreciating the next generation and pouring into them? Will you be a conduit for God to be able to pour into and through your life into the lives of those around you? Will you make first things first? Will you put first things first? Will you live out life with your priorities intact?


Your Most Important Task

Day 295: Bible In One Year 2017

  1. The right foundation for the next generation … Psalm 119:81-88
    • This psalm is both a personal reflection on life and also a resource produced by the psalmist to help others build their lives and leadership on the right foundation.

      In particular, he sets an example of faith in God’s word: ‘I have put my hope in your word… All your commands are trustworthy… I have not forsaken your precepts’ (vv.81b,86a,87b).

      –from Day 295: Bible In One Year 2017

  2. The way to develop the next generation … 2 Timothy 1:1-18
    • Paul mentored, trained and discipled Timothy and passed wisdom on to him. He sets a model and example of how to develop the next generation of leaders.

      Love them

      ‘The son I love so much’ is how Paul describes Timothy (2 Timothy 1:2, MSG). Paul constantly thanked God for him (v.3). Paul was a passionate and emotional man – when people said goodbye to him there were often tears of emotion: ‘I miss you a lot, especially when I remember that last tearful goodbye, and look forward to a joy-packed reunion’ (v.4, MSG).

      Pray for them

      ‘Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers’ (v.3). Praying for other people is not a waste of time, it makes a difference. Intercessory prayer is an act of love.

      Believe in them

      ‘I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also’ (v.5). Paul trusted Timothy with responsibility at a young age. The people who influence us are the people who believe in us.

      Minister to them

      ‘I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands’ (v.6). Previously Paul had written, ‘Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you’ (1 Timothy 4:14).

      They may have prayed for him for the gift of evangelism or ordination to leadership in the church. It may have been to be filled with the Spirit and possibly to receive the gift of speaking in tongues or prophesy. We do not know exactly what it was, but it shows the importance of prayer ministry. This is why we lay our hands on people, for example, in the ministry at the end of every church service.

      Encourage them

      Timothy needed encouragement. Encouragement is like oxygen to the soul. Timothy was young. He had physical weaknesses (‘frequent illnesses’, 1 Timothy 5:23), and he was possibly a shy and introverted character.

      Paul writes, ‘God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear)’ (2 Timothy 1:7, AMP). We are not cowards if we feel afraid. In fact, there can be no courage unless you are scared. Courage is doing what you are afraid to do, and not allowing fear to rule your decisions.

      To overcome your fears, God has equipped you with the Holy Spirit and with ‘power, love and self-discipline’ (v.7b).

      Challenge them

      Paul urged Timothy to ‘stir up’ (v.6, KJV), to ‘fan into flame’ (v.6) the gift that he had been given. Other people can help you but at the end of the day you are responsible for your own spiritual development. Stir yourself up. Fan the flames of your faith through worship, prayer, Bible reading, community – or whatever it takes.

      Trust them

      ‘Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you’ (v.14). The good deposit is the gospel of which Paul has been appointed a herald, apostle and teacher (v.11).

      The gospel is all about Jesus (‘our Lord’, v.8). It is about a relationship with him: ‘I know whom I have believed’ (v.12). We have been saved by grace, ‘not because of anything we have done’ (v.9). Jesus, our saviour, through the cross and resurrection, ‘destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light’ (v.10).

      Paul urged Timothy not to be ashamed of their friendship, nor to be ashamed to testify about the Lord (v.8). They had the gospel to proclaim and to guard (vv.9–14). Paul was confident that he had chosen the right person to pass it on to the next generation ‘with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us’ (v.14).

      Share with them

      ‘Join with me in suffering for the gospel’ (v.8). Even though Paul served God ‘with a clear conscience’ (v.3), he did not escape suffering. He was in ‘chains’ (v.16). He had been badly let down by other Christians: ‘You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes’ (v.15).

      Yet one person stood out. Don’t run away from those who are suffering, but be like Onesiphorus who, Paul says, ‘often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains’ (v.16).

      –from Day 295: Bible In One Year 2017

  3. The importance of developing the next generation … Jeremiah 48:1-49:6

Today’s reading from God’s Word:

Value


What comes to mind when you hear the word value? Is it deserving? Is it worth? Is it usefulness? Is it benefit? Is it gain? Is it profit? Is it good? Is it helpful or helpfulness? Is it importance? Is it significance? Is it principles? Is it ethics? Is it morals? Is it standards?

How do you view your value? Is it based on worldly definitions? Is it based on God’s perspective? Do you have value to the world? Do you have value to God? Do you realize the reality and answer?

Are you a christian? As christians, we need to take hold of the fact that we are now “in Christ Jesus”! The value that we have because of this is incredible! Not because of who we are but because we are now “in Christ Jesus”!

Let’s consider these verses and how they speak into this truth!

We are new creations!

17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! –from 2 Corinthians 5

We are sons and daughters of God!

26So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. –from Galatians 3

We are chosen by God!

4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will- 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. –from Ephesians 1

We have the grace of God!

9He has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. –from 2 Timothy 1

We have God’s love – never ending love – everlasting – unfailing!

38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our LORD. –from Romans 8

We get to walk in the value of being redeemed and forgiven!

7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment-to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. –from Ephesians 1

Thanks to Jesus in Him, we have been justified and are righteous!

2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. –from 2 Corinthians 5

Thanks to Jesus and our decision to receive Him as our Lord and Savior, all God’s promises are now Yes – consider the value!

20For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. — from 2 Corinthians 1

Consider the value of knowing that every need will be satisfied!

19And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. — from Philippians 4

Consider the value of being able to live in peace and be peacemakers!

7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. –from Philippians 4

Consider the value of knowing you have all of eternity to spend with God! Not just out there somewhere but rather from now until forever!

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a]Christ Jesus our Lord. –from Romans 6

So being in Christ, what attitude should we and are we showing to the world around us? What value is the world able to see in and through us because we shine the light of Jesus? Let’s make a difference today! Let’s not conform to the ways of the world, but rather let’s be transformed by God so that we are able to transform the world through Christ Jesus living in and through our lives!

Today’s devotional gives a great example for us to take hold of as being “in Christ Jesus”!

Write your name on a piece of paper. Take hold of your Bible to represent Christ. Place the paper in the book and close it. You are in Christ. Where the book goes you go. Where the paper goes he goes. You are not part of the book, but you are now identified totally with the book.

–from Day 265: Bible In One Year 2017

So by being in Christ Jesus, we have value! The value of all God’s blessings from the Old and from the New Testaments thanks to what Jesus has already paid and done for us!

So do you realize the value you have? Is your attitude demonstrating it to the world around you? Are you letting your light shine that others may see it and praise Your Father in heaven? Why not start today!

If you haven’t asked Jesus into your life yet as Your Lord and Savior, why not make today your day? Have questions? Leave me a comment as I am happy to talk with you about the decision! We could even work on finding you a bible believing, bible preaching church to help you to learn more!

YOU HAVE VALUE! What are you going to do about it? God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but would have everlasting life! Who would do that for something that is worthless! God loves you! So will you receive that love?


Understand Your Value

Day 265: Bible In One Year 2017

  1. The blessings of God’s love and healing … Psalm 109:21-31
  2. The blessings of being in Christ Jesus … Ephesians 1:1-23
    • Many struggle with a low self-image. The New Testament answer to this problem is to know who you are in Christ Jesus: ‘It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for’ (v.11, MSG). Understand what your identity is in Christ. While you may not have every material blessing you want (Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter), God has blessed you ‘with every spiritual blessing in Christ’ (v.3). This passage lists many of these blessings:

      Grace and peace

      Paul starts his greetings with ‘grace and peace’ (v.2). Later he says, ‘The riches of God’s grace… [have been] lavished on us’ (vv.7–8). Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues. You have peace with God.

      Chosen, destined and adopted

      ‘Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world… He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children’ (vv.4–5, AMP; see also v.11).

      Redeemed, forgiven and free

      You are redeemed through his blood (v.7a; Isaiah 52:3,9). ‘Redeemed’ was the word used for the buying back of a slave – a captive set free for a price.

      Your sins are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7b). Marghanita Laski, a well-known atheist, made an amazing confession on television. She said, ‘What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness.’ She added, rather sadly, ‘I have no one to forgive me.’

      ‘We’re a free people – free of penalties and punishment chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!’ (v.7, MSG).

      In-dwelt by the Holy Spirit

      ‘Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit’ (v.13). The Holy Spirit has come to live within you. In the ancient world when a package was dispatched a seal was placed on it to indicate where it had come from and to whom it belonged. You have been sealed with the Holy Spirit.

      Hope for the future

      Your inheritance is guaranteed. You have ‘the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it’ (v.14, AMP). You have ‘the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints’ (v.18b).

      Power and position

      His ‘incomparably great power for us who believe’ is in you (v.19a). Power belongs to God, but he has come to live within you and to give you ‘endless energy, boundless strength!’ (v.19, MSG).

      You are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (v.20). God has placed us ‘in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments’ (vv.20–21, MSG).

      Authority and responsibility

      In Christ, God has placed everything under you for the sake of the church ‘which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way’ (vv.22–23). At her coronation when the orb (the globe under a cross) was placed in her hand, the Queen was reminded: ‘When you see this orb set under the cross, remember that the whole world is subject to the power and empire of Christ our redeemer.’

      God has given you great responsibility. His plans for the universe are now in the hands of the church, which is Jesus’ ‘body’ on earth (v.23). ‘The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church’ (vv.22–23, MSG).

      –from Day 265: Bible In One Year 2017

  3. The blessings of the good news of Jesus … Isaiah 51:17-54:17
    • Isaiah writes, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news… who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”’ (52:7). God’s salvation is such good news that it makes even the smelly feet of the messenger seem beautiful! This good news is Isaiah’s message in the next chapter (52:13–53:12). It is the last and greatest of the four servant songs that reveal God’s plan of salvation. There are five stanzas, each revealing an unexpected contrast:

      Apparent failure and actual success (52:13–15)

      The cross shatters human expectations. Here, Isaiah foretells Jesus’ scourging and death, his ‘ruined face, disfigured past recognition’ (v.14, MSG). Yet the cross is not the end. The stanza ends in success and triumph, with an image of cleansing and forgiveness across the world; ‘he will sprinkle many nations’ (v.15).

      Our view and God’s view (53:1–3)

      ‘Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?’ (v.1, MSG). Here we see a contrast between God’s view and the human view. Isaiah foresees that the people would reject Jesus, even though he came to save them.

      Our sin and his suffering (vv.4–6)

      Jesus loves you so much that he died instead of you. That is the message at the heart of this passage – indeed of the whole Bible:

      ‘He took the punishment, and that made us whole.

         Through his bruises we get healed.

      We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.

         We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.

      And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him’ (v.5–6, MSG). Wow!

      The guilty and the innocent (vv.7–9)

      This stanza tells of a miscarriage of justice, but one that the innocent Jesus took upon himself voluntarily to bring salvation: ‘He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people’ (v.8, MSG). It also predicts Jesus’ death with extraordinary accuracy: foreseeing his silence at his trial (v.7); that he would die with the guilty and that he would be buried with the rich (v.9).

      Tragedy and triumph (vv.10–13)

      What looked like defeat was in fact a victory, ‘what God had in mind all along’ (v.10, MSG). What makes Jesus’ death a triumph? First, ‘he will see his offspring’ (v.10) and ‘make many righteous’ (v.11, MSG) ­– the millions of transformed lives which are the fruit of his death. Second, ‘he will see the light of life’ (v.11) – Jesus rose again! Lastly, God exalted him, giving him ‘a portion among the great’ (v.12) because of all that he did for us.

      As a result of what Jesus did for us, we are promised expansion and growth (54:2). You need not be afraid (v.4) because ‘your Maker is your husband’ (v.5). His love and compassion will never leave you (v.10). ‘No weapon forged against you will prevail’ (v.17).

      -from Day 265: Bible In One Year 2017

 

Today’s Reading from God’s Word:

Do you have to see it to believe?


Do you have to see it for it to be valuable? What about air? You can’t see that, but isn’t it invaluable? You believe it is there right? What about the wind? You can’t see that either, but it is valuable for clearing those clouds on a cloudy day. You believe in that right? What about gravity? You can’t see that either, but it is valuable to keep us on the ground and from floating away. You believe in gravity right?

So back to the original question… Do you have to see it to believe it? …

God loves you!

God is love!

What if the truth that could set you free was available if you would just believe?

What if there were words above that shared hope and love and truth? What would it take for you to believe it? What evidence do you need to have? What signs or wonders would it take? What is holding you back? What is it going to take for you to believe?

Could you take a break today and pray for someone? How about yourself? What about your family? What about your neighbors? What about your community? What about your government leaders? What about this world?

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.

–from 1 Timothy 2

Do you realize that even though we can’t see Jesus that He is sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding for you and for me?

34Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

–from Romans 8

as well as

25Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

–from Hebrews 7

And when we are at that point when we can’t even put words out there … it is beyond words that we can express, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us…

26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

–from Romans 8

People may not realize you are praying for them, but it is important that we are praying for others and that others are praying for us! It may be invisible to them, but it is power and valuable to them.

So will you make a difference and take time to pray for the people God has brought into your life as well as those who God has positioned over you in your life?


Invisible but Invaluable

Day 191: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalms 83, Acts of the Apostles 28:1-16, 2 Kings 19:14-37, 2 Kings 20

https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/3420-bible-in-one-year-2017/day/191

  1. Intercede for seekers … Psalm 83:1-18
  2. Intercede for healing … Acts 28:1-16
  3. Intercede for deliverance … 2 Kings 19:14-20:21

Heavenly Father,
I thank You so much for this day and for all that You will do in and through it. I praise You Lord that Your Word never returns void! I praise You Lord that You have positioned me in such a place for such a time as this! I thank You Lord for the faith You have built up in me by testing me and stretching me! I thank You Lord for the truth about the power of forgiveness that You taught me in the midst of trials and struggles and loved me enough to walk with me through it all till the moment where I was ready to listen and be obedient and forgive. Lord, I lift up those around me who are seeking and haven’t found you yet or haven’t taken the step of believing in You because they can’t see You. I ask Lord that You would allow evidence of who you are to be so real to them that their hearts would be good soil ready for Your seed to be planted. Lord, there are so many who are sick and so I lift them up to You today and ask Lord as the ultimate physician to touch their bodies, their hearts, and their minds and bring healing and restoration be it to their physical, emotional, or spiritual bodies. Lord there are so many who are being held back by the lies and deception of the devil and so Lord I pray for Your deliverance. Break the chains Lord I pray! Set the captives free I pray! Deliver them Lord from the grasp of the enemy and help them to step out in faith believing in You into freedom by forgiving others and forgiving themselves. Lord, You are bigger than anything they are or will ever face, so build up their hope and their trust in You I pray so that in and through it You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Oh the pain…oh the suffering


Some say no pain, no gain! Is it true? Is it worth it? Is there a purpose? Is there a reason? Is there hope? We know that in this world we will face troubles, but that we can take heart because Jesus overcame it. We know that we are to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds because it develops stuff in us and will make us complete and lacking nothing. How about everything that Jesus went through? He took it all so that we could be redeemed! He took it all so that we could be reconciled! He took it all so that there would be a way! We can’t get there or do it on our own, so He made a way! We are saved by face through grace! Not because we are so good or we deserve it, but because of what Jesus was willing to do!

1Then Pilate took Jesus and had him whipped. 2The soldiers made a crown out of thorny branches and put it on his head; then they put a purple robe on him 3and came to him and said, “Long live the King of the Jews!” And they went up and slapped him. 4Pilate went back out once more and said to the crowd, “Look, I will bring him out here to you to let you see that I cannot find any reason to condemn him.” 5So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Look! Here is the man!” 6When the chief priests and the Temple guards saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “You take him, then, and crucify him. I find no reason to condemn him.” 7The crowd answered back, “We have a law that says he ought to die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” 8When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid. 9He went back into the palace and asked Jesus, “Where do you come from?” But Jesus did not answer. 10Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Remember, I have the authority to set you free and also to have you crucified.” 11Jesus answered, “You have authority over me only because it was given to you by God. So the man who handed me over to you is guilty of a worse sin.” 12When Pilate heard this, he tried to find a way to set Jesus free. But the crowd shouted back, “If you set him free, that means that you are not the Emperor’s friend! Anyone who claims to be a king is a rebel against the Emperor!” 13When Pilate heard these words, he took Jesus outside and sat down on the judge’s seat in the place called “The Stone Pavement.” (In Hebrew the name is “Gabbatha.”) 14It was then almost noon of the day before the Passover. Pilate said to the people, “Here is your king!” 15They shouted back, “Kill him! Kill him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Do you want me to crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “The only king we have is the Emperor!” 16Then Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be crucified.

–from John 19

Ever been through so much and wondered if it could get any worse? Ever been through so much and wondered is there a purpose in this? Ever wondered what the benefit and outcome will be? God is good and His plans for us are good! His plans are for us to be able to have a hope and a future! So don’t give up!

The Two Beasts

1Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads; on each of its horns there was a crown, and on each of its heads there was a name that was insulting to God. 2The beast looked like a leopard, with feet like a bear’s feet and a mouth like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave the beast his own power, his throne, and his vast authority. 3One of the heads of the beast seemed to have been fatally wounded, but the wound had healed. The whole earth was amazed and followed the beast. 4Everyone worshiped the dragon because he had given his authority to the beast. They worshiped the beast also, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who can fight against it?” 5The beast was allowed to make proud claims which were insulting to God, and it was permitted to have authority for forty-two months. 6It began to curse God, his name, the place where he lives, and all those who live in heaven. 7It was allowed to fight against God’s people and to defeat them, and it was given authority over every tribe, nation, language, and race. 8All people living on earth will worship it, except those whose names were written before the creation of the world in the book of the living which belongs to the Lamb that was killed. 9“Listen, then, if you have ears! 10Whoever is meant to be captured will surely be captured; whoever is meant to be killed by the sword will surely be killed by the sword. This calls for endurance and faith on the part of God’s people.” 11Then I saw another beast, which came up out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb’s horns, and it spoke like a dragon. 12It used the vast authority of the first beast in its presence. It forced the earth and all who live on it to worship the first beast, whose wound had healed. 13This second beast performed great miracles; it made fire come down out of heaven to earth in the sight of everyone. 14And it deceived all the people living on earth by means of the miracles which it was allowed to perform in the presence of the first beast. The beast told them to build an image in honor of the beast that had been wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15The second beast was allowed to breathe life into the image of the first beast, so that the image could talk and put to death all those who would not worship it. 16The beast forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, slave and free, to have a mark placed on their right hands or on their foreheads. 17No one could buy or sell without this mark, that is, the beast’s name or the number that stands for the name. 18This calls for wisdom. Whoever is intelligent can figure out the meaning of the number of the beast, because the number stands for the name of someone. Its number is 666.

–from Revelation 13

Don’t give up! Don’t grow weary in doing what is good! Develop your relationship with God! Invite Jesus into your heart! It may not be easy, but in the end, it will be worth it!

1-2Be patient and listen a little longer to what I am saying on God’s behalf. 3My knowledge is wide; I will use what I know to show that God, my Creator, is just. 4Nothing I say to you is false; you see before you a truly wise man. 5How strong God is! He despises no one; there is nothing he doesn’t understand. 6He does not let sinners live on, and he always treats the poor with justice. 7He protects those who are righteous; he allows them to rule like kings and lets them be honored forever. 8But if people are bound in chains, suffering for what they have done, 9God shows them their sins and their pride. 10He makes them listen to his warning to turn away from evil. 11If they obey God and serve him, they live out their lives in peace and prosperity. 12But if not, they will die in ignorance and cross the stream into the world of the dead. 13Those who are godless keep on being angry, and even when punished, they don’t pray for help. 14They die while they are still young, worn out by a life of disgrace. 15But God teaches people through suffering and uses distress to open their eyes.

–from Job 36

Let the joy of the Lord be your strength! Let it be about more than just emotions! Let God’s wisdom and discernment lead you and guide your every step!

The Lord’s Case against Israel

1Listen to the Lord’s case against Israel. Arise, O Lord, and present your case; let the mountains and the hills hear what you say. 2You mountains, you everlasting foundations of the earth, listen to the Lord’s case! The Lord has a case against his people. He is going to bring an accusation against Israel. 3The Lord says, “My people, what have I done to you? How have I been a burden to you? Answer me. 4I brought you out of Egypt; I rescued you from slavery; I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to lead you. 5My people, remember what King Balak of Moab planned to do to you and how Balaam son of Beor answered him. Remember the things that happened on the way from the camp at Acacia to Gilgal. Remember these things and you will realize what I did in order to save you.”

What the Lord Requires

6What shall I bring to the Lord, the God of heaven, when I come to worship him? Shall I bring the best calves to burn as offerings to him? 7Will the Lord be pleased if I bring him thousands of sheep or endless streams of olive oil? Shall I offer him my first-born child to pay for my sins? 8No, the Lord has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God. 9It is wise to fear the Lord. He calls to the city, “Listen, you people who assemble in the city! 10In the houses of evil people are treasures which they got dishonestly. They use false measures, a thing that I hate. 11How can I forgive those who use false scales and weights? 12Your rich people exploit the poor, and all of you are liars. 13So I have already begun your ruin and destruction because of your sins. 14You will eat, but not be satisfied—in fact you will still be hungry. You will carry things off, but you will not be able to save them; anything you do save I will destroy in war. 15You will sow grain, but not harvest the crop. You will press oil from olives, but never get to use it. You will make wine, but never drink it. 16This will happen because you have followed the evil practices of King Omri and of his son, King Ahab. You have continued their policies, and so I will bring you to ruin, and everyone will despise you. People everywhere will treat you with contempt.”

–from Micah 6

What way will you go? What plan will you follow? Do you have a north star, a compass for your life? How do you know what to do and where to go? How do you know if you are going the right way?

Israel’s Moral Corruption

1It’s hopeless! I am like a hungry person who finds no fruit left on the trees and no grapes on the vines. All the grapes and all the tasty figs have been picked. 2There is not an honest person left in the land, no one loyal to God. Everyone is waiting for a chance to commit murder. Everyone hunts down their own people. 3They are all experts at doing evil. Officials and judges ask for bribes. The influential people tell them what they want, and so they scheme together. 4Even the best and most honest of them are as worthless as weeds.
The day has come when God will punish the people, as he warned them through their watchmen, the prophets. Now they are in confusion. 5Don’t believe your neighbor or trust your friend. Be careful what you say even to your husband or wife. 6In these times sons treat their fathers like fools, daughters oppose their mothers, and young women quarrel with their mothers-in-law; your enemies are the members of your own family. 7But I will watch for the Lord; I will wait confidently for God, who will save me. My God will hear me.

The Lord Brings Salvation

8Our enemies have no reason to gloat over us. We have fallen, but we will rise again. We are in darkness now, but the Lord will give us light. 9We have sinned against the Lord, so now we must endure his anger for a while. But in the end he will defend us and right the wrongs that have been done to us. He will bring us out to the light; we will live to see him save us. 10Then our enemies will see this and be disgraced—the same enemies who taunted us by asking, “Where is the Lord your God?” We will see them defeated, trampled down like mud in the streets. 11People of Jerusalem, the time to rebuild the city walls is coming. At that time your territory will be enlarged. 12Your people will return to you from everywhere—from Assyria in the east, from Egypt in the south, from the region of the Euphrates River, from distant seas and far-off mountains. 13But the earth will become a desert because of the wickedness of those who live on it.

The Lord’s Compassion on Israel

14Be a shepherd to your people, Lord, the people you have chosen. Although they live apart in the wilderness, there is fertile land around them. Let them go and feed in the rich pastures of Bashan and Gilead, as they did long ago. 15Work miracles for us, Lord, as you did in the days when you brought us out of Egypt. 16The nations will see this and be frustrated in spite of all their strength. In dismay they will close their mouths and cover their ears. 17They will crawl in the dust like snakes; they will come from their fortresses, trembling and afraid. They will turn in fear to the Lord our God. 18There is no other god like you, O Lord; you forgive the sins of your people who have survived. You do not stay angry forever, but you take pleasure in showing us your constant love. 19You will be merciful to us once again. You will trample our sins underfoot and send them to the bottom of the sea! 20You will show your faithfulness and constant love to your people, the descendants of Abraham and of Jacob, as you promised our ancestors long ago.

–from Micah 7

It’s a matter of the heart! Do you acknowledge what happened and will you turn back to God?


So much of what is tough through Jesus and through the Bible point back to where is our heart in how we live. From the overflow of our hearts our mouth speaks! Do you realize how you got to this point? Do you realize the good you did? Do you realize the mistakes you made? Do you realize that you need forgiveness? Do you realize that bitterness isn’t where you need to be, but that forgiveness is the key to true freedom? Are you mocking God? Are you blaming God? Are you turning to God for help and forgiveness and wholeness?

In this morning’s reading we see that it starts with Jesus and 2 criminals on the cross. Which one would you say most resembles your heart and your attitude?

38Above him were written these words: “This is the King of the Jews.” 39One of the criminals hanging there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40The other one, however, rebuked him, saying, “Don’t you fear God? You received the same sentence he did. 41Ours, however, is only right, because we are getting what we deserve for what we did; but he has done no wrong.” 42And he said to Jesus, “Remember me, Jesus, when you come as King!” 43Jesus said to him, “I promise you that today you will be in Paradise with me.” –from Luke 23

How do you view the world? What is the state of your heart? How is your response reflecting what is in your heart? How are your words reflecting what is in your heart? From the overflow of the heart, your mouth speaks!

Don’t run away! Run to God! Don’t run from! Run to! Consider the heart of the Father! For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son not to condemn the world, but that through Him the world could be saved! So that everyone who believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life! God’s plan is good! God’s plan is that we would have life to the full! God’s plan is to prosper you and not to harm you, He plans to give you hope and a future. So let’s come near to God! Let’s make Him and His plans and His purpose for our lives to be our plan and our purpose and our focus!

Let Us Come Near to God

19We have, then, my friends, complete freedom to go into the Most Holy Place by means of the death of Jesus. 20He opened for us a new way, a living way, through the curtain—that is, through his own body. 21We have a great priest in charge of the house of God. 22So let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, with hearts that have been purified from a guilty conscience and with bodies washed with clean water. 23Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, because we can trust God to keep his promise. 24Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. 25Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer. 26For there is no longer any sacrifice that will take away sins if we purposely go on sinning after the truth has been made known to us. 27Instead, all that is left is to wait in fear for the coming Judgment and the fierce fire which will destroy those who oppose God! 28Anyone who disobeys the Law of Moses is put to death without any mercy when judged guilty from the evidence of two or more witnesses. 29What, then, of those who despise the Son of God? who treat as a cheap thing the blood of God’s covenant which purified them from sin? who insult the Spirit of grace? Just think how much worse is the punishment they will deserve! 30For we know who said, “I will take revenge, I will repay”; and who also said, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God! 32Remember how it was with you in the past. In those days, after God’s light had shone on you, you suffered many things, yet were not defeated by the struggle. 33You were at times publicly insulted and mistreated, and at other times you were ready to join those who were being treated in this way. 34You shared the sufferings of prisoners, and when all your belongings were seized, you endured your loss gladly, because you knew that you still possessed something much better, which would last forever. 35Do not lose your courage, then, because it brings with it a great reward. 36You need to be patient, in order to do the will of God and receive what he promises. 37For, as the scripture says, “Just a little while longer, and he who is coming will come; he will not delay. 38My righteous people, however, will believe and live; but if any of them turns back, I will not be pleased with them.” 39We are not people who turn back and are lost. Instead, we have faith and are saved.

–from Hebrews 10

Let’s live like the people God created us to be! Are you lost? God has been calling you! Are you lost? Let’s come together in faith and cry out to God and allow His plan and His purpose to bring you into the fold so that you can be saved! God’s got great plans for you! He created you on purpose with a purpose! Don’t lose hope!

Need wisdom? Turn to God’s Word! Need fellowship and friendship? Look for a Bible believing, Bible preaching church!

Today is the first day of the rest of your life! Let’s start it off with God!

1Never boast about tomorrow. You don’t know what will happen between now and then. 2Let other people praise you—even strangers; never do it yourself. 3The weight of stone and sand is nothing compared to the trouble that stupidity can cause. 4Anger is cruel and destructive, but it is nothing compared to jealousy. 5Better to correct someone openly than to let him think you don’t care for him at all. 6Friends mean well, even when they hurt you. But when an enemy puts his arm around your shoulder—watch out! 7When you are full, you will refuse honey, but when you are hungry, even bitter food tastes sweet. 8Anyone away from home is like a bird away from its nest. 9Perfume and fragrant oils make you feel happier, but trouble shatters your peace of mind. 10Do not forget your friends or your father’s friends. If you are in trouble, don’t ask a relative for help; a nearby neighbor can help you more than relatives who are far away. 11Be wise, my child, and I will be happy; I will have an answer for anyone who criticizes me. 12Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later. 13Any people stupid enough to promise to be responsible for a stranger’s debts deserve to have their own property held to guarantee payment. 14You might as well curse your friends as wake them up early in the morning with a loud greeting. –from Proverbs 27

There will always be people who question when you do something good for someone else.


Ever noticed that people are suspicious of people who are doing good things. Suspecting that they are going to want something in return. Suspecting that it is a trick of some sort. Things have gotten so off track that doing nice or good things for others isn’t the norm but raises concerns in others. Does that mean we should stop? NO! It means we need to be doing it and helping others to do it too to help stop this trend. If more people weren’t scam artists or trickster, than more people would be appreciative and accepting of people doing nice things to and for them. Where are you at on this situation today? Are you suspicious? Are you doing nice things? Are you trying to manipulate others? Are you only doing in order to get something back in return? Are you being kind and generous because that is what we should do without any expectations of anything in return? Let’s reflect on this and predetermine what and how we are going to act and respond. Let’s respond with grace and gratitude when someone does something nice. Let’s do out of love for God and for others nice things that will give them a hand up, give them a word of encouragement, give them support and courage to press on. This is the day to start a new trend and get things going in the right direction.


Today’s reading is interesting because we see how others question Jesus. They question His actions. They question His authority. They question His character. They judge him even before they can see the miracle. He touched the mans heart and life and then his body to prove His intentions and His authority are all grounded in LOVE!

1Jesus got into the boat and went back across the lake to his own town, 2where some people brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a bed. When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the paralyzed man, “Courage, my son! Your sins are forgiven.”

3Then some teachers of the Law said to themselves, “This man is speaking blasphemy!”
4Jesus perceived what they were thinking, and so he said, “Why are you thinking such evil things? 5Is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6I will prove to you, then, that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, pick up your bed, and go home!”
7The man got up and went home. 8When the people saw it, they were afraid, and praised God for giving such authority to people.
— from Matthew 9

Let’s be sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in every situation we are in today. Let’s share the marvels of God with those around us based on His leading and direction. Let’s speak what God wants us to say. Let’s do what God calls us to do. And let’s make sure that in and through it all, He receives the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name.

God isn’t looking for perfect vessels, but yielded vessels who are willing to walk with Him and follow after His ways. We see in many cases Jesus stepping into situations which the religious people of the time would have looked down on. He wants to be with people who need and desire Him. He wants us all to walk in that way. Can we walk in a way that points and brings people to Jesus? Will you decide and choose to be an ambassador for Jesus today and help to transform the world around you? One person at a time? Consider the encounter with Matthew…

9Jesus left that place, and as he walked along, he saw a tax collector, named Matthew, sitting in his office. He said to him, “Follow me.”

Matthew got up and followed him.

10  While Jesus was having a meal in Matthew’s house,#
9.10: in Matthew’s house; or in his (that is Jesus’) house.

many tax collectors and other outcasts came and joined Jesus and his disciples at the table. 11Some Pharisees saw this and asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such people?”

12Jesus heard them and answered, “People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick. 13 Go and find out what is meant by the scripture that says: ‘It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.’ I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.”
— from Matthew 9

Are you going to be someone who is giving a hand up rather than a hand out? Are you going to be someone is will help or someone who will enable? Jesus is clear and gives us an example to follow, so let’s take a grab of that today and follow after His ways so that we increase the average, change the temperature of the society, and help not only transform the world, but also point the world heavenly through Jesus Christ our Lord!

God’s put a calling on each of our lives. If God spoke to you to go, would you go? If God spoke to you to let others who you are closely tied to go, would you let them go? Would you go with a blessing or would you go in doubt? Would you let them go with a blessing or would you let them go with regret? Will you pray for them and encourage them to complete the work that God is calling them into? Will you be obedient to the prompting of the Spirit? We see what happens when the Spirit prompts them to send Barnabas and Saul…

1In the church at Antioch there were some prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon (called the Black), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (who had been brought up with Governor Herod), and Saul. 2While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul, to do the work to which I have called them.”

3They fasted and prayed, placed their hands on them, and sent them off.
— from Acts 13

We also see what happens when we are obedient to the prompting and the impact it can make not only on a generation but for multiple generations as the story has been captured and published to millions through the Bible.

In Cyprus

4Having been sent by the Holy Spirit, Barnabas and Saul went to Seleucia and sailed from there to the island of Cyprus. 5When they arrived at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues. They had John Mark with them to help in the work.
6They went all the way across the island to Paphos, where they met a certain magician named Bar-Jesus, a Jew who claimed to be a prophet. 7He was a friend of the governor of the island, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor called Barnabas and Saul before him because he wanted to hear the word of God. 8But they were opposed by the magician Elymas (that is his name in Greek), who tried to turn the governor away from the faith. 9Then Saul—also known as Paul—was filled with the Holy Spirit; he looked straight at the magician 10and said, “You son of the Devil! You are the enemy of everything that is good. You are full of all kinds of evil tricks, and you always keep trying to turn the Lord’s truths into lies! 11The Lord’s hand will come down on you now; you will be blind and will not see the light of day for a time.”
At once Elymas felt a dark mist cover his eyes, and he walked around trying to find someone to lead him by the hand. 12When the governor saw what had happened, he believed; for he was greatly amazed at the teaching about the Lord.

In Antioch in Pisidia

13Paul and his companions sailed from Paphos and came to Perga, a city in Pamphylia, where John Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem. 14They went on from Perga and arrived in Antioch in Pisidia, and on the Sabbath they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15After the reading from the Law of Moses and from the writings of the prophets, the officials of the synagogue sent them a message: “Friends, we want you to speak to the people if you have a message of encouragement for them.” 16Paul stood up, motioned with his hand, and began to speak:
“Fellow Israelites and all Gentiles here who worship God: hear me! 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors and made the people a great nation during the time they lived as foreigners in Egypt. God brought them out of Egypt by his great power, 18and for forty years he endured them in the desert. 19 He destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan and made his people the owners of the land. 20 All of this took about 450 years.
“After this he gave them judges until the time of the prophet Samuel. 21 And when they asked for a king, God gave them Saul son of Kish from the tribe of Benjamin, to be their king for forty years. 22After removing him, God made David their king. This is what God said about him: ‘I have found that David son of Jesse is the kind of man I like, a man who will do all I want him to do.’ 23It was Jesus, a descendant of David, whom God made the Savior of the people of Israel, as he had promised. 24 Before Jesus began his work, John preached to all the people of Israel that they should turn from their sins and be baptized. 25And as John was about to finish his mission, he said to the people, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not the one you are waiting for. But listen! He is coming after me, and I am not good enough to take his sandals off his feet.’
— from Acts 13

But it doesn’t end there, there is more to this story (probably for me in tomorrow’s reading, but you can read on…). God’s got incredible plans for how you can do good in this world. He will not only bless you, but allow you to be a blessing in the lives of others that He will bring in and through your life. Seek wisdom through the Holy Spirit so that you can understand and know the intentions and the plans. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide and protect you and your actions. Let’s make today a great day of doing good for others…for no other reason than to glorify God! And let’s see what God will do in and through our lives!


And then let’s celebrate the victories! Let’s celebrate with others who have breakthroughs! Let’s celebrate for the victories God has provided us! Let’s not forget the good work that He is and has done in and through our lives!

1The king is glad, O Lord, because you gave him strength;

he rejoices because you made him victorious.
2You have given him his heart’s desire;
you have answered his request.
3You came to him with great blessings
and set a crown of gold on his head.
4He asked for life, and you gave it,
a long and lasting life.
5His glory is great because of your help;
you have given him fame and majesty.
6Your blessings are with him forever,
and your presence fills him with joy.
7The king trusts in the Lord Almighty;
and because of the Lord‘s constant love
he will always be secure.
8The king will capture all his enemies;
he will capture everyone who hates him.
9He will destroy them like a blazing fire
when he appears.
The Lord will devour them in his anger,
and fire will consume them.
10None of their descendants will survive;
the king will kill them all.
11They make their plans, and plot against him,
but they will not succeed.
12He will shoot his arrows at them
and make them turn and run.
13We praise you, Lord, for your great strength!
We will sing and praise your power.
— from Psalm 21

When we consider that Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, we know that the final chapter speaks to the conclusion and the victory of Jesus. The devil goes around trying to trick people through lies, making plans and plots against Jesus, however, Jesus has already won the victory over death through His resurrection. So let’s be like the psalmist and praise the Lord, sing to Him, let’s worship Him for all He has already done and what He is yet to do in and through our lives and for the rest of eternity!


 

Is your heart right? Is there anything polluting your heart?


Are you saying things to make excuses for doing things right? Are you doing things that don’t align with what you should really be doing? Where is your heart in all of this? What is really going on? Are you doing the right thing or is your heart really not in it?

This morning’s reading from God’s Word: Matthew 15-16, Psalm 92 starts off with this title: “What Pollutes Your Life“. One quote that comes to mind as I am reading this is “Methings thou dost protest too much” from William Shakespeare in Hamlet. We see the reading start with Pharisees and religion scholars coming and protesting about how Jesus’ disciples are living. We see it is a matter of the heart why they are attacking Him and them.

1-2After that, Pharisees and religion scholars came to Jesus all the way from Jerusalem, criticizing, “Why do your disciples play fast and loose with the rules?”
3-9But Jesus put it right back on them. “Why do you use your rules to play fast and loose with God’s commands? God clearly says, ‘Respect your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.’ But you weasel around that by saying, ‘Whoever wants to, can say to father and mother, What I owed to you I’ve given to God.’ That can hardly be called respecting a parent. You cancel God’s command by your rules. Frauds! Isaiah’s prophecy of you hit the bull’s-eye:
These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their heart isn’t in it.
They act like they’re worshiping me,
but they don’t mean it.
They just use me as a cover
for teaching whatever suits their fancy.”
10-11He then called the crowd together and said, “Listen, and take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.”

It’s not a matter of what you put in that pollutes you, it’s a matter of what comes back out! What goes in isn’t as big of a problem, unless it affects what is on the inside. If your heart is good then what comes out will be good. If your heart is hurting, what you speak out will be hurting words. If your heart is polluted, then that pollution will be coming back out. Jesus explained it this way:

15Peter said, “I don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”
16-20Jesus replied, “You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That’s what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that’s neither here nor there.”

So where are you at today? Is your heart in the right place? Are you asking Jesus to help clean house? Have you asked Him into your heart so that in your heart is only Jesus? Not Jesus plus but Jesus only. Are you ask God to search your heart and make it pure and clean? Like David did?

Don’t give up! Keep pressing on! Allow your faith to find victory!

21-22From there Jesus took a trip to Tyre and Sidon. They had hardly arrived when a Canaanite woman came down from the hills and pleaded, “Mercy, Master, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly afflicted by an evil spirit.”
23Jesus ignored her. The disciples came and complained, “Now she’s bothering us. Would you please take care of her? She’s driving us crazy.”
24Jesus refused, telling them, “I’ve got my hands full dealing with the lost sheep of Israel.”
25Then the woman came back to Jesus, went to her knees, and begged. “Master, help me.”
26He said, “It’s not right to take bread out of children’s mouths and throw it to dogs.”
27She was quick: “You’re right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master’s table.”
28Jesus gave in. “Oh, woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!” Right then her daughter became well. — Matthew 15

There are so many people around you today who are in need. Have you prepared to be able to help them? Have you gone in advance to be ready for all that God wants and needs you to do today? Jesus did, so let’s follow His example.

29-31After Jesus returned, he walked along Lake Galilee and then climbed a mountain and took his place, ready to receive visitors. They came, tons of them, bringing along the paraplegic, the blind, the maimed, the mute—all sorts of people in need—and more or less threw them down at Jesus’ feet to see what he would do with them. He healed them. When the people saw the mutes speaking, the maimed healthy, the paraplegics walking around, the blind looking around, they were astonished and let everyone know that God was blazingly alive among them. — Matthew 15

But He didn’t stop there, He met them at their point of need and then saw their was more that He could do. Are you seeing those around you and their immediate problem? Are you assisting them in that area? Do you think you are done or are you asking God for wisdom in regards to if there is anything else that He would want you to be doing or helping with? Jesus did and it glorified His Father in Heaven!

32But Jesus wasn’t finished with them. He called his disciples and said, “I hurt for these people. For three days now they’ve been with me, and now they have nothing to eat. I can’t send them away without a meal—they’d probably collapse on the road.”
33His disciples said, “But where in this deserted place are you going to dig up enough food for a meal?”
34-39Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”
“Seven loaves,” they said, “plus a few fish.” At that, Jesus directed the people to sit down. He took the seven loaves and the fish. After giving thanks, he divided it up and gave it to the people. Everyone ate. They had all they wanted. It took seven large baskets to collect the leftovers. Over four thousand people ate their fill at that meal. After Jesus sent them away, he climbed in the boat and crossed over to the Magadan hills. — Matthew 15

Imagine someone coming up to Jesus demanding a sign? Imagine getting back the only sign they will get is the sign of Jonah? Imagine the confusion as this was before the crucifixion and resurrection. Jonah was in the fish for 3 days — Jesus was dead and in the tomb for three days. Jonah was given new life on the third day — Jesus was resurrected and defeated death and sin forever! So be careful in your life, because a little bit of a bad thing can ruin the entire batch. As we head into the next chapter (16), we see that is where this starts with the title “Some Bad Yeast“.

1-4Some Pharisees and Sadducees were on him again, pressing him to prove himself to them. He told them, “You have a saying that goes, ‘Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning.’ You find it easy enough to forecast the weather—why can’t you read the signs of the times? An evil and wanton generation is always wanting signs and wonders. The only sign you’ll get is the Jonah sign.” Then he turned on his heel and walked away.
5-6On their way to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring along bread. In the meantime, Jesus said to them, “Keep a sharp eye out for Pharisee-Sadducee yeast.”
7-12Thinking he was scolding them for forgetting bread, they discussed in whispers what to do. Jesus knew what they were doing and said, “Why all these worried whispers about forgetting the bread? Runt believers! Haven’t you caught on yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves of bread and the five thousand people, and how many baskets of fragments you picked up? Or the seven loaves that fed four thousand, and how many baskets of leftovers you collected? Haven’t you realized yet that bread isn’t the problem? The problem is yeast, Pharisee-Sadducee yeast.” Then they got it: that he wasn’t concerned about eating, but teaching—the Pharisee-Sadducee kind of teaching. — Matthew 16

Do you realize who Jesus is? Do you know that He came to have a relationship with us? Do you know that it is about more than religion and rituals, but it is about a relationship with Jesus? In this way new doors of opportunity and life have been open.

13When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?”
14They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
15He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”
16Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17-18Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.
19“And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.”
20He swore the disciples to secrecy. He made them promise they would tell no one that he was the Messiah.

Let Jesus take the wheel! Let Him be in the driver’s seat! Trust Him, He is good to His Word! Do what He says to do. Avoid what He says not to do. This is the day that the Lord has made, let’s rejoice and be glad in it. Jesus did it all that we could be reconciled to God.

21-22Then Jesus made it clear to his disciples that it was now necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, submit to an ordeal of suffering at the hands of the religious leaders, be killed, and then on the third day be raised up alive. Peter took him in hand, protesting, “Impossible, Master! That can never be!”
23But Jesus didn’t swerve. “Peter, get out of my way. Satan, get lost. You have no idea how God works.”
24-26Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?
27-28“Don’t be in such a hurry to go into business for yourself. Before you know it the Son of Man will arrive with all the splendor of his Father, accompanied by an army of angels. You’ll get everything you have coming to you, a personal gift. This isn’t pie in the sky by and by. Some of you standing here are going to see it take place, see the Son of Man in kingdom glory.” — Matthew 16

It’s a gift through grace. Will you receive it? Will you accept it? Will you live it?

Defining BLESSED.


Has anyone ever said “blessings to you”, “be blessed”, “I am blessed”, “you are blessed”? This morning’s reading starts out with the title “You’re Blessed“. We need to read on to see what that means. Before I dive into today’s Word from God, the dictionary gives us one perspective on being blessed: (used Bing and typed “define blessed”)

Definition of blessed (adj)

Bing Dictionary

bless·ed [ bléssəd ]

  1. holy: made holy
  2. beatified: declared holy by the pope, usually as the first stage toward being declared a saint
  3. bestowing joy: bringing happiness or good luck

synonyms: holy · sacred · sanctified · hallowed · consecrated · set apart

Now let’s go to the real meaning of being blessed from God’s Word:

3“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

4“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

5“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

6“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

7“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

8“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

9“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

11-12“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Being blessed is more than a feeling. Let’s not forget the truth behind these words. Let’s not allow the world to rob of what is real and what is eternal. Let’s hold onto God’s Word and truth and walk with Him, allowing God to work in and through us in ways where people will see us on the mountain tops and in the bottom of the valleys and still realized we are blessed. They will notice a difference and so we may be able to glorify God in and through it all.

We are blessed because we draw closer to God, we have more of Him and less of ourselves, we are living for the bigger picture of what He is calling us to do rather than being focused on ourselves, and we are content with what we already have.

 

Good for nothing…


Nobody would want such a title. Everybody wants to have purpose. Everybody wants to be doing something for a greater purpose. The problem is that some people take the most important part of the equation out and still try to get it done. Imagine the best titles king, president, ceo, prime minister, owner, boss, priest, pastor, mayor, senator, governor, … of nothing. The title seems worthless if that is the case. The purpose and the point of it all goes out the window.

This morning’s reading comes from 2 Chronicles 13-17, Psalm 78. We hear a speech today about when people replaced God with idols, removed all the people with real titles and for the right place gave those titles to others which had no real value. One group seemed to give up on the real, the valuable, the dependable, the mighty, the merciful, the grace filled God. The other decided to stick with God.

Is what you are pursing worth it? Is what you are holding onto worth something? Is your title a title or is it a calling? Are you pursuing the greater purpose that you were created for? Don’t allow yourself to be robbed but rather grab onto the real value and the real purpose that you were created to accomplish. Chase after your calling with passion. Hold onto the truth of what God is doing in and through you. Don’t allow the applause of people distract or drown the hope and the truth that comes from following God’s will for your life.

People may try to outsmart you. People may try to trick you. But when you hold on to God and His promises, He will take care of you:

12“Can’t you see the obvious? God is on our side; he’s our leader. And his priests with trumpets are all ready to blow the signal to battle. O Israel—don’t fight against God, the God of your ancestors. You will not win this battle.”
13-18While Abijah was speaking, Jeroboam had sent men around to take them by surprise from the rear: Jeroboam in front of Judah and the ambush behind. When Judah looked back, they saw they were attacked front and back. They prayed desperately to God, the priests blew their trumpets, and the soldiers of Judah shouted their battle cry. At the battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. The army of Israel scattered before Judah; God gave them the victory. Abijah and his troops slaughtered them—500,000 of Israel’s best fighters were killed that day. The army of Israel fell flat on its face—a humiliating defeat. The army of Judah won hands down because they trusted God, the God of their ancestors. — 2 Chronicles
With God on our side, who can be against us. Nothing formed against us will prosper. Nothing is impossible for God. When a problem comes up, God already has the answer. When an issue comes up, God is ready. Nothing will surprise or outsmart God. We see a good example of this when Jesus feeds the multitude of people in John 6. We first see how He poses the problem statement knowing the answer that is to come:
5-6When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do. — John 6
When we try to do it all in our own strength, we see how short we will fall. What we have on its own isn’t enough to meet the need.
7Philip answered, “Two hundred silver pieces wouldn’t be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece.”
8-9One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.” — John 6
But with God in the center of it, all things are possible:
10-11Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted.
12-13When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves.
14-15The people realized that God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done. They said, “This is the Prophet for sure, God’s Prophet right here in Galilee!” Jesus saw that in their enthusiasm, they were about to grab him and make him king, so he slipped off and went back up the mountain to be by himself.
John 6

So have faith. Consider what you have. Consider where you have been positioned. Consider your calling. Consider your purpose. Don’t make it worthless, but use it for God so that it is and becomes of great worth.

When you look at what you are doing, how would it be described? Would we read about it as “He did things right in God’s eyes.” Would your heart speak to the truth of why you do what you do? Would your actions speak to the hope and faith you have within you? Are you pointing people back to God by the words you use, the way you work, and the way you lead? Will you get ready? Will you be prepared?

When the next challenge comes your way, where will you turn? how will you respond? what are you going to do? who are you going to turn to? when do numbers really count unless you are counting? why not call out to God?

9-11Zerah the Ethiopian went to war against Asa with an army of a million plus three hundred chariots and got as far as Mareshah. Asa met him there and prepared to fight from the Valley of Zephathah near Mareshah. Then Asa prayed to God, “O God, you aren’t impressed by numbers or intimidated by a show of force once you decide to help: Help us, O God; we have come out to meet this huge army because we trust in you and who you are. Don’t let mere mortals stand against you!”
12-15God defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah; the Ethiopians ran for their lives. Asa and his men chased them as far as Gerar; so many of the Ethiopians were killed that there was no fight left in them—a massacre before God and his troops; Judah carted off loads of plunder. They devastated all the towns around Gerar whose people were helpless, paralyzed by the fear of God, and looted the country. They also attacked herdsmen and brought back a lot of sheep and camels to Jerusalem. — 2 Chronicles 14

Stick with God! — 2 Chronicles 15 — How far are you willing to go?

1-6Then Azariah son of Obed, moved by the Spirit of God, went out to meet Asa. He said, “Listen carefully, Asa, and listen Judah and Benjamin: God will stick with you as long as you stick with him. If you look for him he will let himself be found; but if you leave him he’ll leave you. For a long time Israel didn’t have the real God, nor did they have the help of priest or teacher or book. But when they were in trouble and got serious, and decided to seek God, the God of Israel, God let himself be found. At that time it was a dog-eat-dog world; life was constantly up for grabs—no one, regardless of country, knew what the next day might bring. Nation battered nation, city pummeled city. God let loose every kind of trouble among them.
7“But it’s different with you: Be strong. Take heart. Payday is coming!”
8-9Asa heard the prophecy of Azariah son of Obed, took a deep breath, then rolled up his sleeves, and went to work: He cleaned out the obscene and polluting sacred shrines from the whole country of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim. He spruced up the Altar of God that was in front of The Temple porch. Then he called an assembly for all Judah and Benjamin, including those from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who were living there at the time (for many from Israel had left their homes and joined forces with Asa when they saw that God was on his side).
10-15They all arrived in Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign for a great assembly of worship. From their earlier plunder they offered sacrifices of seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep for the worship. Then they bound themselves in a covenant to seek God, the God of their fathers, wholeheartedly, holding nothing back. And they agreed that anyone who refused to seek God, the God of Israel, should be killed, no matter who it was, young or old, man or woman. They shouted out their promise to God, a joyful sound accompanied with blasts from trumpets and rams’ horns. The whole country felt good about the covenant promise—they had given their promise joyfully from the heart. Anticipating the best, they had sought God—and he showed up, ready to be found. God gave them peace within and without—a most peaceable kingdom!
16-19In his cleanup of the country, Asa went so far as to remove his mother, Queen Maacah, from her throne because she had built a shockingly obscene image of the sex goddess Asherah. Asa tore it down, smashed it, and burned it up in the Kidron Valley. Unfortunately he didn’t get rid of the local sex-and-religion shrines. But he was well-intentioned—his heart was in the right place, loyal to God. All the gold and silver vessels and artifacts that he and his father had consecrated for holy use he installed in The Temple of God. There wasn’t a trace of war up to the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign. — 2 Chronicles 15

Stick with God and see how real value is calculated. Stick with God and discover the benefits.

Go to God first not last. Let him be your first option rather than your last hope. Get His wisdom before moving out rather than just getting down the wrong path and needing to be saved. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Don’t turn your back on God and have to deal with the consequences of your decision. Don’t take out your bad decision on the messenger or as I have said to many, don’t shoot the messenger or you will stop getting messages.

7-9Just after that, Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said, “Because you went for help to the king of Aram and didn’t ask God for help, you’ve lost a victory over the army of the king of Aram. Didn’t the Ethiopians and Libyans come against you with superior forces, completely outclassing you with their chariots and cavalry? But you asked God for help and he gave you the victory. God is always on the alert, constantly on the lookout for people who are totally committed to him. You were foolish to go for human help when you could have had God’s help. Now you’re in trouble—one round of war after another.”
10At that, Asa lost his temper. Angry, he put Hanani in the stocks. At the same time Asa started abusing some of the people. — 2 Chronicles 16

Go to God first! He is your first choice! He knows the answer even before you ask the question. He knows the answer the moment the problem arises.

11-14A full account of Asa is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa came down with a severe case of foot infection. He didn’t ask God for help, but went instead to the doctors. Then Asa died; he died in the forty-first year of his reign. They buried him in a mausoleum that he had built for himself in the City of David. They laid him in a crypt full of aromatic oils and spices. Then they had a huge bonfire in his memory. — 2 Chronicles 16

What are you a seeker of? What are you a follower of? God?

God was on Jehoshaphat’s side because he stuck to the ways of his father Asa’s early years. He didn’t fool around with the popular Baal religion—he was a seeker and follower of the God of his father and was obedient to him; he wasn’t like Israel. And God secured the kingdom under his rule, gave him a firm grip on it. And everyone in Judah showed their appreciation by bringing gifts. Jehoshaphat ended up very rich and much honored. He was single-minded in following God; and he got rid of the local sex-and-religion shrines. — 2 Chronicles 17

What do you use to reach out and teach others? What is your source of truth?

7-9In the third year of his reign he sent his officials—excellent men, every one of them—Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah on a teaching mission to the cities of Judah. They were accompanied by Levites—Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-Adonijah; the priests Elishama and Jehoram were also in the company. They made a circuit of the towns of Judah, teaching the people and using the Book of The Revelation of God as their text. — 2 Chronicles 17

Make sure your focus is on the right thing. It isn’t because we are so worthy, but rather because God is so worthy. It’s isn’t because we are so good, it is because God is so good. Avoid falling into the trap of pride. Pride comes before the fall. Make it all about God so that you have your eyes focused on the right place.

10-12There was a strong sense of the fear of God in all the kingdoms around Judah—they didn’t dare go to war against Jehoshaphat. Some Philistines even brought gifts and a load of silver to Jehoshaphat, and the desert bedouin brought flocks—7,700 rams and 7,700 goats. So Jehoshaphat became stronger by the day, and constructed more and more forts and store-cities—an age of prosperity for Judah! — 2 Chronicles 17

So how do you want your life to be told? Worth it? Worthless? You get to choose, so choose wisely!

Would you recognize him if you saw him? Would you believe it if you had been there?


This morning’s reading starts in Malachi 3 and has two very interesting titles: “The Master You’ve Been Looking For” and “The Difference Between Serving God and Not Serving Him“. The reading speaks to the coming of John who will prepare the way for when Jesus comes. It then references how when Jesus comes, to take away the sin of the world. To clean up things. To point people in the right direction. Now where are you in regards to God? Are you following Him? Is He your God? Do you know what it takes to return to God? Here’s what He says in His Word:

“You ask, ‘But how do we return?’

8-11“Begin by being honest. Do honest people rob God? But you rob me day after day.
“You ask, ‘How have we robbed you?’
“The tithe and the offering—that’s how! And now you’re under a curse—the whole lot of you—because you’re robbing me. Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams. For my part, I will defend you against marauders, protect your wheat fields and vegetable gardens against plunderers.” The Message of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. — Malachi 3:8-11

Not only does He share what needs to be done, He also provides the one time in the Bible where we are asked to test God in this. Are you putting God first? or are you just giving Him the leftovers? Are you giving Him your best? or just what you have left or don’t value? Trying bringing Him your best first. 100% is His, however, to show that we trust Him and to show how much He loves us, a tithe or 10% or a tenth is what we are to give back to Him and then live with 90% that is blessed. Would you rather have 100% that is yours or 90% that is blessed and is yours? This is where the challenge is given, the gauntlet is put down: “Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams.” In another translation, we read it this way: “10Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12“Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Imagine doing the right thing the right way and being called blessed because God’s delight is shining on you. Imagine 90% that is worth more because of God’s blessing than 100% that you have to handle all on your own. It’s an interesting lesson to learn. It’s an interesting thing to do and test God with to see the difference. I know every so often at church when our pastor teaches on tithe, he goes to the grocery store and buys 10 of various fruits and vegetables. He takes 1 and puts it on the table that represents God’s 10% and he then piles up the rest on the table that represents ours. It’s an incredible visual and gets the point home.

Ever questioned why anyone would serve God? Ever thought what’s the point? Ever talked down to people who are serving God? Ever asked what do you get out of serving God? Ever asked what do you get out of it or what difference does it make? Or how about thinking that those who aren’t following God have a better life? more fun? are lucky?

When God goes into action, will you be found in the book of life? Will you get special treatment? Will you risk finding out what the difference is by seeing others get special treatment and you won’t?

17-18God-of-the-Angel-Armies said, “They’re mine, all mine. They’ll get special treatment when I go into action. I treat them with the same consideration and kindness that parents give the child who honors them. Once more you’ll see the difference it makes between being a person who does the right thing and one who doesn’t, between serving God and not serving him.” — Malachi 3:17-18

Jesus is coming back. We might know the day and the time, however, we know He is coming back. People look at the signs and forecast the weather, look at what is going on all around us that point to the fact that He is coming back. Be it what we read in Matthew:

4-8Jesus said, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, ‘I am Christ, the Messiah.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming.

Matthew 24:4-8

Be it what we read in Mark:

5-8Jesus began, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, ‘I’m the One.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When you hear of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history, and no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Earthquakes will occur in various places. There will be famines. But these things are nothing compared to what’s coming. 9-10“And watch out! They’re going to drag you into court. And then it will go from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog, everyone at your throat because you carry my name. You’re placed there as sentinels to truth. The Message has to be preached all across the world. 11“When they bring you, betrayed, into court, don’t worry about what you’ll say. When the time comes, say what’s on your heart—the Holy Spirit will make his witness in and through you.
12-13“It’s going to be brother killing brother, father killing child, children killing parents. There’s no telling who will hate you because of me. “Stay with it—that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.

Look at what is taking place right now in the world. Listen to the news about what the threats are and what the possible wars could be. Consider the lawsuits and bills that are taking place around us and what they are all pointing to. Is it worth it some may ask, and the answer is yes. Remember how Jesus closes as we read in Mark “Stay with it—that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.”.

This morning’s reading speaks of the return this way:

1-3“Count on it: The day is coming, raging like a forest fire. All the arrogant people who do evil things will be burned up like stove wood, burned to a crisp, nothing left but scorched earth and ash— a black day. But for you, sunrise! The sun of righteousness will dawn on those who honor my name, healing radiating from its wings. You will be bursting with energy, like colts frisky and frolicking. And you’ll tromp on the wicked. They’ll be nothing but ashes under your feet on that Day.” God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so. — Malachi 4:1-3

It’s not too late, this morning’s reading speaks to what we need to do. We also see it in the writings of John the Baptist and the disciples. John speaks:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ”

Matthew 3:2

Peter speaks:
37Cut to the quick, those who were there listening asked Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers! Brothers! So now what do we do?” 38-39Peter said, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.” 40He went on in this vein for a long time, urging them over and over, “Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!” 41-42That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

 

5-6“But also look ahead: I’m sending Elijah the prophet to clear the way for the Big Day of God—the decisive Judgment Day! He will convince parents to look after their children and children to look up to their parents. If they refuse, I’ll come and put the land under a curse.” — Malachi 4:5-6

So today, I lift up this choice to you. Choose life! We all get a choice and some wait it out and never get to choose, others choose early and know when they get called home, they are saved. What does it take to be saved you may ask?

5For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands.   6But faith’s way of getting right with God says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ (to bring Christ down to earth). 7And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead?’ (to bring Christ back to life again).” 8In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: 9If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”   12Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” — Romans 10:5-13

The biggest challenge in life is success and prosperity.


Consider all the people who appear to be successful based on many popular definitions… rich, famous, popular, … Consider how many of them we see fall or get tripped up in that success. Success isn’t the top, it is part of the journey and once you get to it, the foundation you have built gets tested. Consider those who become famous and how their marriages end up. Consider those who become rich and how their marriages end up. Consider those who become popular and how their marriages end up. Be it marriage, be it drugs, be it alcohol, be it … (pick the thing that stops, pulls down, pulls back people who have success). Some become rich and then within a couple of years are broke again (checkout lottery winners). Some become famous and then within some time their personal lives are shaken. Success isn’t easy. Success isn’t a destination. I remember a few years back going through the TGIF – Today God Is First devotional and there was a devotion on this topic. It calls out the fact that “Pride is the greatest temptation to a successful workplace minister. When we begin accumulating wealth, managing people, and becoming known for our workplace expertise, we are most susceptible to falling to the most devious sin in God’s eyes — pride.” – Os Hillman

God’s Word speaks to this truth and warning in Deuteronomy:

17-18If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.
19-20If you forget, forget God, your God, and start taking up with other gods, serving and worshiping them, I’m on record right now as giving you firm warning: that will be the end of you; I mean it—destruction. You’ll go to your doom—the same as the nations God is destroying before you; doom because you wouldn’t obey the Voice of God, your God. — Deut 8:17-20

My reading this morning that got me started in this blog starts off with the statement “The Money Has Gone to Your Head“. This all comes down to our foundation. What are we standing for? What are we standing on? What is our rock? What is our foundation? What is our cornerstone in life? Do we understand who the source of every good and perfect thing is? Do we understand that we only have it because He gave it to us? Do we? It’s not because we are all that. It’s not because we are so good. It’s not because we are so good looking. It’s not because we are so popular. It’s not because of us and the sooner we see and realize that the sooner we can look to avoid the pitfalls of PRIDE. Pride, the word that comes before the fall. As I was trying to find the link about the challenge of success, I came across some other devotionals that align with some of my statements here too: The Proper FoundationGod’s TestsObedience-Based Decisions Versus Skill and AbilityFinding The Will Of Godand many more… looking for a great devotional, check out http://TodayGodIsFirst.com.

If you have all the wealth in the world, is that really going to be enough? Is earthly wealth really going to be enough to satisfy you? Isn’t life really more than just wealth? Isn’t life really more than just me, me, me? Don’t let success get to your head. Don’t let it rob you of true joy. Don’t let it rob you of the incredible position that God has put you in to be able to be a blessing to others. You have been blessed, so what will you do with it? Will  you use it wisely? Will you it to be a blessing? Will you make it about others? Be wise, invest, multiply it, but it’s not about how much more can you make, but what can you do with what God has given you. Are you willing to walk aligned with God’s will? Are you willing to be obedient to what He asks you to do with what He has given you? Consider the trust it takes to live on 90% of your earnings. Consider how you are showing your trust in God by giving Him the best, the first 10% of what you get. Consider the faith it takes to to really trust God. His Word is filled with wisdom. His Spirit is with us and if we will be walking in relationship with God, the Spirit will guide us and lead us, instruct us and correct us so that we can keep in steps with God’s will and God’s plan for our lives.

So check your pride at the door. Imagine if you “made it” to what you think is the top and then received this message:

“You had everything going for you.
You were in Eden, God’s garden.
You were dressed in splendor,
your robe studded with jewels:
Carnelian, peridot, and moonstone,
beryl, onyx, and jasper,
Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald,
all in settings of engraved gold.
A robe was prepared for you
the same day you were created.
You were the anointed cherub.
I placed you on the mountain of God.
You strolled in magnificence
among the stones of fire.
From the day of your creation
you were sheer perfection . . .
and then imperfection—evil!—was detected in you.
In much buying and selling
you turned violent, you sinned!
I threw you, disgraced, off the mountain of God.
I threw you out—you, the anointed angel-cherub.
No more strolling among the gems of fire for you!
Your beauty went to your head.
You corrupted wisdom
by using it to get worldly fame.
I threw you to the ground,
sent you sprawling before an audience of kings
and let them gloat over your demise.
By sin after sin after sin,
by your corrupt ways of doing business,
you defiled your holy places of worship.
So I set a fire around and within you.
It burned you up. I reduced you to ashes.
All anyone sees now
when they look for you is ashes,
a pitiful mound of ashes.
All who once knew you
now throw up their hands:
‘This can’t have happened!
This has happened!’” — Ezekiel 28:6-19

Is money bad? No, having money isn’t bad and as God’s Word says it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. Is being famous bad? No, being raised up to a high position allows you the opportunity to speak the truth, the love, the hope of God into the lives of those around you. If you build relationships, it opens doors where you can speak the love of Jesus into their lives and be an ambassador for the most High God, the one true God. Is being popular bad? No, it allows you to be able to speak into the lives of others. It draws others to you and if you point others to the way, the truth, and the life for their is no other way to the Father. It’s the intent. It’s what is in you heart. Where are you at today?

Let’s focus on being a light that stands for something. Let’s reflect the light of the Sun. Let’s not be rockets that just fly into the sky and explode. They are nice during celebrations and then they are gone. They are temporary, yes our time on earth is temporary, however, we are eternal beings and as such we have to decide where we will spend eternity. Do you want to spend it with God or apart from God? Do you want to celebrate eternity in Heaven with God? It’s all about choices. God is the God of second chances. You reading this? Then it’s not too late for you. You can still turn back to God. You can take what you have and where you are and turn back to God and align with His plans and purposes for your life. Is today your day? Is today the day you stop walking and trying to do it all on your own and you ask Jesus to come into your heart and help turn your life around? To live for His plans and purposes? He’s given you everything you have. He’s got plans for every talent you have. He’s got plans for every gift He’s given you. What are you going to do? Has it all gone to your head? Is the pride of life getting you off track?

Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. — 1 John 2:15-17

When people think of you, what do they remember? 

Are you someone who has been pouring into the lives of others? Are you someone who have been taking out of the lives of others? Are you someone who is uplifting? Are you someone who is a drain and pulling them down? Are you some who gives handouts or someone who gives a hand up? One is fire and forget…One is I care enough to get involved, to reach out and help.

I like my daily reading plan. Each day ends with a Psalm. Today being day 192, I read from Psalm 42. Are you feeling down today? Are you feeling sad or depressed? Not sure what to do or where to turn? Psalm speaks right to it as I remember days of doubt and despair, days of betrayal and lies, but this was a reminder to me not to give up.

5Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
He’s my God.
6-8When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse
everything I know of you,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights,
including Mount Mizar.
Chaos calls to chaos,
to the tune of whitewater rapids.
Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers
crash and crush me.
Then God promises to love me all day,
sing songs all through the night!
My life is God’s prayer.
9-10Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God,
“Why did you let me down?
Why am I walking around in tears,
harassed by enemies?”
They’re out for the kill, these
tormentors with their obscenities,
Taunting day after day,
“Where is this God of yours?”
11Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
He’s my God. — Psalm 42:5-11