Tally-ho!

Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming! 
(Song of Solomon 2:15)
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Hear the Good News

You yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed.
You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem.

They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross.
(Acts 10:37-39)

The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against His anointed one.’ (Acts 4:26) 
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.(Proverbs 19:11)
 
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.  (1 John 2:20)

For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.

  (John 3:34)
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Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.


For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”


If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.


This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are:

Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.  (Romans 13:10; Galatians 5:14, James 2:8, 1 John 3:10)
 
Do not think that I have come to revoke The Written Law or The Prophets; I am not come to revoke but to fulfill.

Jesus Fulfills the Law

“Don’t ever think that I came to set aside Moses’ Teachings or the Prophets. I didn’t come to set them aside but to make them come true.

(Matthew 5:17)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  (John 13:34) 

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

(Romans 3:31)
 
Love Fulfills the Law

Owe nothing to anyone–except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.  (Romans 13:8)

–and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”  (Romans 13:9b)

Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

(Romans 13:10)


For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Galatians 5:14)

Who is my Neighbor?

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37),
Jesus describes the identity of the “neighbor” based on the condition of our own
heart in relation with God and responsibility towards others. 
 
The LORD will have compassion on Jacob; once again He will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land.

Foreigners will join them and unite with the descendants of Jacob.  (Isaiah 14:1)

Love Your Enemies

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’  

 
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 5:43-45)

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Just then a scholar of the Hebrew Scriptures tried to trap Jesus.

Scholar: Teacher, what must I do to experience the eternal life?

Jesus (answering with a question):   What is written in the Hebrew Scriptures? How do you interpret their answer to your question?

Scholar:   You shall love—“love the Eternal One your God with everything you have: all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind” —and “love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Jesus:   Perfect. Your answer is correct. Follow these commands and you will live.

The scholar was frustrated by this response because he was hoping to make himself appear smarter than Jesus.

Scholar: Ah, but who is my neighbor?

Jesus: This fellow was traveling down from Jerusalem to Jericho when some robbers mugged him. They took his clothes, beat him to a pulp, and left him naked and bleeding and in critical condition. By chance, a priest was going down that same road, and when he saw the wounded man, he crossed over to the other side and passed by.   Then a Levite who was on his way to assist in the temple also came and saw the victim lying there, and he too kept his distance.   Then a despised Samaritan journeyed by. When he saw the fellow, he felt compassion for him.   The Samaritan went over to him, stopped the bleeding, applied some first aid, and put the poor fellow on his donkey. He brought the man to an inn and cared for him through the night.

The next day, the Samaritan took out some money—two days’ wages to be exact—and paid the innkeeper, saying, “Please take care of this fellow, and if this isn’t enough, I’ll repay you next time I pass through.”

 Which of these three proved himself a neighbor to the man who had been mugged by the robbers?

Scholar: The one who showed mercy to him.

Jesus: Well then, go and behave like that Samaritan.

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People Who Love Listening to Lies

God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, preach against the prophets of Israel who are making things up out of their own heads and calling it ‘prophesying.’

 “Preach to them the real thing. Tell them, ‘Listen to God’s Message!’ God, the Master, pronounces doom on the empty-headed prophets who do their own thing and know nothing of what’s going on!scavenging through the ruins. The Your prophets, Israel, are like jackals (foxes) They haven’t lifted a finger to repair the defenses of the city and have risked nothing to help Israel stand on God’s Day of Judgment. All they do is fantasize comforting illusions and preach lying sermons. They say ‘God says . . .’ when God hasn’t so much as breathed in their direction. And yet they stand around thinking that something they said is going to happen.

 “Haven’t you fantasized sheer nonsense? Aren’t your sermons tissues of lies, saying ‘God says . . .’ when I’ve done nothing of the kind? Therefore—and this is the Message of God, the Master, remember—I’m dead set against prophets who substitute illusions for visions and use sermons to tell lies. I’m going to ban them from the council of my people, remove them from membership in Israel, and outlaw them from the land of Israel. Then you’ll realize that I am God, the Master.

 “The fact is that they’ve lied to my people. They’ve said, ‘No problem; everything’s just fine,’ when things are not at all fine. When people build a wall, they’re right behind them slapping on whitewash. Tell those who are slapping on the whitewash, ‘When a torrent of rain comes and the hailstones crash down and the hurricane sweeps in and the wall collapses, what’s the good of the whitewash that you slapped on so liberally, making it look so good?’

 “And that’s exactly what will happen. I, God, the Master, say so: ‘I’ll let the hurricane of my wrath loose, a torrent of my hailstone-anger. I’ll make that wall you’ve slapped with whitewash collapse. I’ll level it to the ground so that only the foundation stones will be left. And in the ruin you’ll all die. You’ll realize then that I am God.

“‘I’ll dump my wrath on that wall, all of it, and on those who plastered it with whitewash. I will say to them, There is no wall, and those who did such a good job of whitewashing it wasted their time, those prophets of Israel who preached to Jerusalem and announced all their visions telling us things were just fine when they weren’t at all fine. Decree of God, the Master.’

 “And the women prophets—son of man, take your stand against the women prophets who make up stuff out of their own minds. Oppose them. Say ‘Doom’ to the women who sew magic bracelets and head scarves to suit every taste, devices to trap souls. Say, ‘Will you kill the souls of my people, use living souls to make yourselves rich and popular? You have profaned me among my people just to get ahead yourselves, used me to make yourselves look good—killing souls who should never have died and coddling souls who shouldn’t live. You’ve lied to people who love listening to lies.’

 “Therefore God says, ‘I am against all the devices and techniques you use to hunt down souls. I’ll rip them out of your hands. I’ll free the souls you’re trying to catch. I’ll rip your magic bracelets and scarves to shreds and deliver my people from your influence so they’ll no longer be victimized by you. That’s how you’ll come to realize that I am God.

 “‘Because you’ve confounded and confused good people, unsuspecting and innocent people, with your lies, and because you’ve made it easy for others to persist in evil so that it wouldn’t even dawn on them to turn to me so I could save them, as of now you’re finished. No more delusion-mongering from you, no more sermonic lies. I’m going to rescue my people from your clutches. And you’ll realize that I am God.’”

(Ezekiel 13)
God will Restore Israel

Therefore behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD,
 “when it will no longer be said,
‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.’
For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers.

“Behold, I am going to send for many fishermen,” declares the LORD,
 “and they will fish for them; and afterwards I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them from every mountain and every hill and from the clefts of the rocks.” (Jeremiah 16:14-16)

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  (John 14:6)

God SO loved the world (John 3:16)…

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If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.  (James 2:8)


This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.  (1 John 3:10)

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

(Matthew 7:12)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  (Matthew 5:16, 15, 14, 18)

Jesus: You can give that sly fox this message: “Watch as I cast out demons and perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I’ll reach My destination. But for today and tomorrow and the next day, I have to continue My journey, for no prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.”

 

O Jerusalem! O Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and you stone the messengers who are sent to you. How often I wanted to gather in your children as a hen gathers in her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing to come to Me. Look now, your house is abandoned and empty. You won’t see Me until you welcome Me with the words of the psalms, “Anyone who comes in the name of the Eternal One will be blessed!”

(Luke 13:32-35)

One in Christ

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,

by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances,

so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.  (Ephesians 2:13-15)

There is no distance in prayer.  E-stranged loved ones need their distance–but they also need prayer more than ever.

At those times, there is just the standing by, keeping heart and door open to them–interceding.  It is a time to hang on

without wavering to God’s desire and ability to bridge the gap that separates loved ones.  Nothing can separate us

from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. 

Then Jesus answered and said to her,

O woman, great is your faith!  Let it be to you as you desire.”

And her daughter was healed (made whole) from that very hour.

(Matthew 15:28)

Lord, keep my heart open to all the wonderful possibilities of change for everything changes but the Truth. 

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  You are Lord and You change not. 

Help me to keep looking to You in faith and patience knowing that You are working all things together for good for Your glorious name.  Amen.

This is my desire to honor You for a son honors his father.  This is my desire for you–that you desire the sincere

(pure, spiritual) milk of the Word so that you can be nurtured and grow up in the Lord being fruitful in every good

work that His name be glorified on earth as it is in heaven.  That you become rooted and grounded in the Word of God

as His planting so that the earth would be full of the knowledge of God’s glory.  Those that hunger and thirst for God

and His righteousness shall be filled.  He raises us up that we walk with Him in love fulfilling the truth that He is light

and in Him is no darkness at all.  He is the fountain of life and in His light we see.

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W(h)in, Dyin’  Or Wine and Dine?
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You Who Give Little and Take Much

The time is surely coming,” says the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread or water, but of hearing the Words of the Lord.”

Men will wander everywhere from sea to sea, seeking the Word of the Lord, searching, running here and going there, but will not find it.
Beautiful girls and fine young men alike will grow faint and weary, thirsting for the Word of God.  (Amos 8:11-13)

How bad it will be for anyone who disputes with the very One who created him!
    After all, a human being is nothing more than one clay pot among many.
Imagine the clay saying to the potter, “What do you think you’re doing?
    or “You don’t have the hands for this.”  (Isaiah 45:9)   

Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.       

(Proverbs 29:18)
 
Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.            (Isaiah 30:20)
“For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”  (Genesis 41:52)

Calamity upon calamity will come, and rumor upon rumor. They will go searching for a vision from the prophet, priestly instruction in the law will cease, the counsel of the elders will come to an end.                (Ezekiel 7:26)
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The Father Heart of God

Nicodemus was one of the Pharisees, a man with some clout among his people.  He came to Jesus under the cloak of darkness to question Him.       

At this time, Israel’s Roman occupiers have given a small group of Sadducees and Pharisees limited powers to rule, and Nicodemus is one of the Pharisees. He holds a seat on the ruling council known as the Sanhedrin, and surprisingly Nicodemus is among those who seek Jesus for His teaching. It appears that he believes more about Jesus than he wants others to know, so he comes at night.

Nicodemus: Teacher, some of us have been talking. You are obviously a teacher who has come from God. The signs You are doing are proof that God (the Father) is with You.  (John 3:1-3)

Whatever the Lord God
    plans to do,
He tells His servants,
    the prophets.
(Amos 3:7)

But when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, They will sanctify My name; Indeed, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob And will stand in awe of the God of Israel.  Those who err in mind will know the truth, And those who criticize will accept instruction.  (Isaiah 29:23-24)

The prodigals are returning home to the Father

Remember the prodigal?
“…He arose and came to his father. 
But when he was STILL a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.”  (Luke 15:20)

The lost are found in Christ Jesus the anointed One and his anointing.  You have received an anointing from Christ’s Holy Spirit and you know all things.  The Spirit is given to lead and guide us into all truth every step of the way home.

The son represents every empty soul longing to find fulfillment and looking for love in all the wrong places. 

Jesus already went ahead to prepare a place for us that where He is, we may be.
The place of blessing is restoration for this is life everlasting and more abundant. 

It is the very heart of the Father to set the lonely in His forever family.

As the four faith-full friends who ripped the roof off  to open the earth as heaven 

to receive Jesus’ miraculous healing through God’s forgiveness,

Likewise, God has commanded us to do His work–
to imitate Christ Jesus. 

Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil for the Father was with him. 

He came not to do his own will but to fulfill the will of the Father who sent him

We were created in Christ Jesus for good works to walk therein.
As the Father sent Jesus,

Likewise, he sends us.
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Freely you have received–Freely give!   

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.  (1 Corinthians 11:1)

O Father God, may I be conscious of the abiding of Your Ever-Present Helper, Holy Spirit, each and every day of my life.  May each and every day begin and end with Your blessing.  Amen.

Paul describes a community where every person considers the needs of others first and does nothing from selfishness;

it pulls together rather than pulls apart, and it is a body that knows its purpose and lets nothing interfere with it.

It is an extended spiritual family where others line up to become part of this sacred assembly and to make it their home because they feel encouragement and know they are truly loved.

So Paul urges the Philippians to strive for this radical unity and fulfill his joy by having the mind of Jesus who humbled Himself, became a servant, and suffered the death of the cross. Jesus becomes the example of humility and service, leading to the kind of unity Paul imagines.

 So now, my beloved, obey as you have always done, not only when I am with you, but even more so when I can’t be.

Continue to work out your salvation, with great fear and trembling,   because God is energizing you so that you will desire and do what always pleases Him.

 Do all things without complaining or bickering with each other,  so you will be found innocent and blameless; you are God’s children called to live without a single stain on your reputations among this perverted and crooked generation.

Shine like stars across the land.  

Cling to the Word of life so that on the day of judgment when the Anointed One returns I may have reason to rejoice,

because it will be plain that I didn’t turn from His mission nor did I work in vain.   ( Philippians 2:12-16 )
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Eternal One: For behold the day of burning will come, smoldering like a furnace.

The arrogant and the evil will be set ablaze like the worthless chaff of grain. Neither roots nor branch will remain.

I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, promise this.  

But for you, the ones who tremble at the sound of My name, a warm sun of righteousness will come forth with healing in its rays, and you will go out, springing from the stalls like calves in open pasture.  

Then you will trample the criminal; your feet will make them ash on the day I am preparing.

I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, promise this.

Remember the instructions which Moses, My faithful servant, received from Me at Mount Horeb and gave to all Israel.

Remember its statutes and judgments.

Keep watch. I am sending Elijah the prophet to you before the arrival of the great and terrible day of the Eternal One,

and he will return parents’ hearts to their children and children’s hearts to their parents,

or else I will come and strike the land of promise with a curse of annihilation.

These verses simultaneously display retrospective and prospective dimensions of Malachi’s conversation with the people, especially the temple priests, of Jerusalem. Malachi calls his contemporaries to remember the life and message of Moses and future generations to look forward to the life and message of the Elijah who is to come. As Ezra in the fifth century b.c. is like Elijah, reflecting these expectations, so John the Baptist is the messenger par excellence 400 years later when he prepares the world for Jesus of Nazareth, God’s Anointed One.   (Malachi 4)
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A long time passed. Then God’s word came to Elijah. The drought was now in its third year.

The message:Go and present yourself to Ahab; I’m about to make it rain on the country.

Elijah set out to present himself to Ahab. The drought in Samaria at the time was most severe.

Ahab called for Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. Obadiah feared God—he was very devout. Earlier, when Jezebel had tried to kill off all the prophets of God, Obadiah had hidden away a hundred of them in two caves, fifty in a cave, and then supplied them with food and water.

Ahab ordered Obadiah, “Go through the country; locate every spring and every stream. Let’s see if we can find enough grass to keep our horses and mules from dying.” So they divided the country between them for the search—Ahab went one way, Obadiah the other.

Obadiah went his way and suddenly there he was—Elijah! Obadiah fell on his knees, bowing in reverence, and exclaimed, “Is it really you—my master Elijah?

Yes,” said Elijah, “the real me. Now go and tell your boss, ‘I’ve seen Elijah.’”

Obadiah said, “But what have I done to deserve this? Ahab will kill me. As surely as your God lives, there isn’t a country or kingdom where my master hasn’t sent out search parties looking for you. And if they said, ‘We can’t find him; we’ve looked high and low,’ he would make that country or kingdom swear that you were not to be found. And now you’re telling me, ‘Go and tell your master Elijah’s found!’ The minute I leave you the Spirit of God will whisk you away to who knows where. Then when I report to Ahab, you’ll have disappeared and Ahab will kill me. And I’ve served God devoutly since I was a boy! Hasn’t anyone told you what I did when Jezebel was out to kill the prophets of God, how I risked my life by hiding a hundred of them, fifty to a cave, and made sure they got food and water? And now you’re telling me to draw attention to myself by announcing to my master, ‘Elijah’s been found.’ Why, he’ll kill me for sure.

Elijah said, “As surely as God-of-the-Angel-Armies lives, and before whom I take my stand, I’ll meet with your master face-to-face this very day.”

So Obadiah went straight to Ahab and told him. And Ahab went out to meet Elijah.

The moment Ahab saw Elijah he said, “So it’s you, old troublemaker!

It’s not I who has caused trouble in Israel,” said Elijah, “but you and your government—you’ve dumped God’s ways and commands and run off after the local gods, the Baals. Here’s what I want you to do: Assemble everyone in Israel at Mount Carmel. And make sure that the special pets of Jezebel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of the local gods, the Baals, and the four hundred prophets of the whore goddess Asherah, are there.”

So Ahab summoned everyone in Israel, particularly the prophets, to Mount Carmel.

Elijah challenged the people: “How long are you going to sit on the fence? If God is the real God, follow him; if it’s Baal, follow him. Make up your minds!

Nobody said a word; nobody made a move.

Then Elijah said, “I’m the only prophet of God left in Israel; and there are 450 prophets of Baal. Let the Baal prophets bring up two oxen; let them pick one, butcher it, and lay it out on an altar on firewood—but don’t ignite it. I’ll take the other ox, cut it up, and lay it on the wood. But neither will I light the fire. Then you pray to your gods and I’ll pray to God. The god who answers with fire will prove to be, in fact, God.

All the people agreed: “A good plan—do it!

Elijah told the Baal prophets, “Choose your ox and prepare it. You go first, you’re the majority. Then pray to your god, but don’t light the fire.”

So they took the ox he had given them, prepared it for the altar, then prayed to Baal. They prayed all morning long, “O Baal, answer us!But nothing happened—not so much as a whisper of breeze. Desperate, they jumped and stomped on the altar they had made.

By noon, Elijah had started making fun of them, taunting, “Call a little louder—he is a god, after all. Maybe he’s off meditating somewhere or other, or maybe he’s gotten involved in a project, or maybe he’s on vacation. You don’t suppose he’s overslept, do you, and needs to be waked up?” They prayed louder and louder, cutting themselves with swords and knives—a ritual common to them—until they were covered with blood.

This went on until well past noon. They used every religious trick and strategy they knew to make something happen on the altar, but nothing happened—not so much as a whisper, not a flicker of response.

Then Elijah told the people, “Enough of that—it’s my turn. Gather around.” And they gathered. He then put the altar back together for by now it was in ruins. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes of Jacob, the same Jacob to whom God had said, “From now on your name is Israel. He built the stones into the altar in honor of God. Then Elijah dug a fairly wide trench around the altar. He laid firewood on the altar, cut up the ox, put it on the wood, and said, “Fill four buckets with water and drench both the ox and the firewood.” Then he said, “Do it again,” and they did it. Then he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. The altar was drenched and the trench was filled with water.

When it was time for the sacrifice to be offered, Elijah the prophet came up and prayed, “O God, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make it known right now that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I’m doing what I’m doing under your orders. Answer me, God; O answer me and reveal to this people that you are God, the true God, and that you are giving these people another chance at repentance.”

Immediately the fire of God fell and burned up the offering, the wood, the stones, the dirt, and even the water in the trench.

All the people saw it happen and fell on their faces in awed worship, exclaiming, “God is the true God! God is the true God!

Elijah told them, “Grab the Baal prophets! Don’t let one get away!

They grabbed them. Elijah had them taken down to the Brook Kishon and they massacred the lot.

Elijah said to Ahab, “Up on your feet! Eat and drink—celebrate! Rain is on the way; I hear it coming.

Ahab did it: got up and ate and drank. Meanwhile, Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bowed deeply in prayer, his face between his knees. Then he said to his young servant, “On your feet now! Look toward the sea.”

He went, looked, and reported back, “I don’t see a thing.

Keep looking,” said Elijah, “seven times if necessary.”

And sure enough, the seventh time he said, “Oh yes, a cloud! But very small, no bigger than someone’s hand, rising out of the sea.”
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Quickly then, on your way. Tell Ahab, ‘Saddle up and get down from the mountain before the rain stops you.’”

Things happened fast. The sky grew black with wind-driven clouds, and then a huge cloudburst of rain, with Ahab hightailing it in his chariot for Jezreel. And God strengthened Elijah mightily. Pulling up his robe and tying it around his waist, Elijah ran in front of Ahab’s chariot until they reached Jezreel.  (1 Kings 18)

Jesus (quoting Deuteronomy):   It is written, “Man does not live by bread alone. Rather, he lives on every word that comes from the mouth of the Eternal One.”  (Matthew 4:4)

Jesus doesn’t work miracles out of the blue, for no reason, for show or proof or spectacle. He works them in intimate, close places; He works them to meet people’s needs and to show them the way to the Kingdom.

God strengthens the weary
    and gives vitality to those worn down by age and care.
Young people will get tired;
    strapping young men will stumble and fall.
But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength.
    They will soar on wings as eagles.
They will run—never winded, never weary.
    They will walk—never tired, never faint.

(Isaiah 40:29-31)
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Jesus Changes Water Into Wine
 
Three days later, they all went to celebrate a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was invited   together with Him and His disciples.   While they were celebrating, the wine ran out; and Jesus’ mother hurried over to her son.

Mary: The host stands on the brink of embarrassment; there are many guests, and there is no more wine.

Jesus:   Dear woman, is it our problem they miscalculated when buying wine and inviting guests? My time has not arrived.

 But she turned to the servants.

Mary: Do whatever my son tells you.

 In that area were six massive stone water pots that could each hold 20 to 30 gallons.  They were typically used for Jewish purification rites.   Jesus’ instructions were clear:

Jesus: Fill each water pot with water until it’s ready to spill over the top;   then fill a cup, and deliver it to the headwaiter.

They did exactly as they were instructed.   After tasting the water that had become wine, the headwaiter couldn’t figure out where such wine came from (even though the servants knew), and he called over the bridegroom in amazement.

Headwaiter:   This wine is delectable. Why would you save the most exquisite fruit of the vine? A host would generally serve the good wine first and, when his inebriated guests don’t notice or care, he would serve the inferior wine. You have held back the best for last.

 Jesus performed this miracle, the first of His signs, in Cana of Galilee. They did not know how this happened; but when the disciples and the servants witnessed this miracle, their faith blossomed.

The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

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On Earth As In Heaven

With a wedding as the setting of Jesus’ first sign, John shows how Jesus’ ministry isn’t limited to just “spiritual” things,

but is His blessing for all of life.

 Jesus then gathered His clan—His family members and disciples—for a journey to Capernaum where they lingered several days.  The time was near to celebrate the Passover, the festival commemorating when God rescued His children from slavery in Egypt, so Jesus went to Jerusalem for the celebration.  Upon arriving, He entered the temple to worship. But the porches and colonnades were filled with merchants selling sacrificial animals (such as doves, oxen, and sheep) and exchanging money.   Jesus fashioned a whip of cords and used it with skill driving out animals; He scattered the money and overturned the tables, emptying profiteers from the house of God.   There were dove merchants still standing around, and Jesus reprimanded them.

Jesus: What are you still doing here? Get all your stuff, and haul it out of here! Stop making My Father’s house a place for your own profit!

 The disciples were astounded, but they remembered that the Hebrew Scriptures said, “Jealous devotion for God’s house consumes me.”  Some of the Jews cried out to Him in unison.

Jews: Who gave You the right to shut us down? If it is God, then show us a sign.

Jesus:   You want a sign? Here it is. Destroy this temple, and I will rebuild it in 3 days.

Jews:   Three days? This temple took more than 46 years to complete. You think You can replicate that feat in 3 days?

 The true temple was His body.   His disciples remembered this bold prediction after He was resurrected.

Because of this knowledge, their faith in the Hebrew Scriptures and in Jesus’ teachings grew.

 During the Passover feast in Jerusalem, the crowds were watching Jesus closely; and many began to believe in Him because of the signs He was doing.  But Jesus saw through to the heart of humankind, and He chose not to give them what they requested. He didn’t need anyone to prove to Him the character of humanity. He knew what man was made of.    (John 2)
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Stand in the Water and Touch the Fire

     Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness—they will be filled.
     Blessed are the merciful—they will be shown mercy.
     Blessed are those who are pure in heart—they will see God.
     Blessed are the peacemakers—they will be called children of God.
     Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness—the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

 And blessed are you,

blessed are all of you, when people persecute you or denigrate you or despise you or tell lies about you on My account.  

But when this happens, rejoice. Be glad.

Remember that God’s prophets have been persecuted in the past.

And know that in heaven, you have a great reward.
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Salt draws out the good flavors subtly hidden in food and preserves what would otherwise spoil, as do those who claim to be children of God.

 You, beloved, are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes bland and loses its saltiness, can anything make it salty again?

No. It is useless. It is tossed out, thrown away, or trampled.

 And you, beloved, are the light of the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden.  

Similarly it would be silly to light a lamp and then hide it under a bowl.

When someone lights a lamp, she puts it on a table or a desk or a chair, and the light illumines the entire house.  

You are like that illuminating light.

Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation,

so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest,

may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it.  (Matthew 5:6-16)

    Prophecy has often been described as “speaking truth to power.”
 
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

But do this with gentleness and respect,
(1 Peter 3:15)
 
You are to offer them before the LORD,

and the priests are to sprinkle salt on them and sacrifice them as a burnt offering to the LORD.    (Ezekiel 43:24)

 
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.  (Luke 1:53)
 
 Taste of His goodness; see how wonderful the Eternal truly is.
    Anyone who puts trust in Him will be blessed and comforted. (Psalm 34:8)

The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the LORD will praise Him– may your hearts live forever!        (Psalm 22:26)

I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.            (Psalm 81:10)           
He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.        (Hebrews 5:2)

The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.    (Psalm 34:10)
 
All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace.    (Isaiah 54:13)

You will drink the milk of nations and be nursed at royal breasts.

Then you will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.        (Isaiah 60:16)
 
So that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this,

that the Holy One of Israel has created it.  (Isaiah 41:20)

It takes both faith and patience to inherit the promises of God.
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The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.
 (Ecclesiastes 7:8)
   

ImageSince God has so generously let us in on what He is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.

If our Message is obscure to anyone, it’s not because we’re holding back in any way. No, it’s because these other people are looking or going the wrong way and refuse to give it serious attention. All they have eyes for is the fashionable god of darkness. They think he can give them what they want, and that they won’t have to bother believing a Truth they can’t see. They’re stone-blind to the dayspring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we’ll ever get.

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Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.

 

 If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ LIFE all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!

 

 We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, “I believed it, so I said it,” we say what we believe. And what we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive. Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise!

 

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4)

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We need to ask God to open our spiritual eyes that we might see the spiritual needs around us, especially in the lives of people who need to be transformed by Christ.  This is the greatest need of every person on Planet Earth.

For it is God who works in you both to WILL and to DO for HIS good pleasure.  (Philippians 2:13)

Father, may I live as a child of Yours walking in the Light as You are in the Light in the fellowship of One, whole and

complete, fulfilled in Your unfailing love and Your truth which endures forever unto a thousand generations that love You.

We love because You first loved us.  For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son that whoSoever believes

shall not perish but have Everlasting Life.  Everything changes but the TRUTH.  Jesus is the Way, the TRUTH and the Life;

no man comes to the Father but through Him.  For it is in Him that we live, move and have our being.  Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  Jesus is the Living Word sent by God the Father to heal and deliver from sin and death.  Jesus ever lives to intercede for the saints of God.  For we have an Advocate with the Father.

And His Holy Spirit is given to lead and guide us into all TRUTH revealing the One given to set us free.  Who the Son sets

free is really free.  You will know the Truth and the TRUTH will make you FREE!

Work your imagination FREE from imprisoning and unreliable fears by FIRST of all RECOGNIZING that God is at work within you for good.

Remember Joseph who not only was betrayed by the jealous and murderous envy of his own brothers in slavery in Egypt.

Liars and thieves could not keep Joseph from fully serving God no matter what, no matter where.  God was with Joseph

and made him fruitful in affliction.  See the heart of a true servant of the Lord in Joseph’s response to his brothers

concerning their part in placing him in those trials–

Joseph:  Don’t be afraid. Am I to judge instead of God? It is not my place. Even though you intended to harm me, God intended it only for good, and through me, He preserved the lives of countless people, as He is still doing today.  So don’t worry. I will provide for you myself—for you and your children.  (Genesis 50:19-21)

This same sentiment is expressed in Paul’s letter to the Romans (8:28). God can take even the meanest intention and make it work for good for His devoted followers.

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The Truth, Nothing but the Truth so Help me God!
As an intercessor, be careful not to seek too much information from God regarding the situation you are praying about, because you may be overwhelmed. If you know too much, more than God has ordained for you to know, you can’t pray; the circumstances of the people become so overpowering that you are no longer able to get to the underlying truth

Our work is to be in such close contact with God that we may have His mind about everything, but we shirk that responsibility by substituting doing for interceding. And yet intercession is the only thing that has no drawbacks, because it keeps our relationship completely open with God.Image

What we must avoid in intercession is praying for someone to be simply “patched up.” We must pray that person completely through into contact with the very life of God. Think of the number of people God has brought across our path, only to see us drop them! When we pray on the basis of redemption, God creates something He can create in no other way than through intercessory prayer.

(My Utmost For His Highest)

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God Offers Comfort to All

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.

When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.

Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation!

For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you.

Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 

We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. (2 Corinthians 1 :3-7)

 

 

Lord, help me to keep my feet on the straight and narrow path.  Help me to seek Your comfort always in time of need. Amen.

God is Able to make All grace Abound toward you that you Always having All sufficiency in all things may abound to every good work.  2 Corinthians 9:8

 

 

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He who embodied the sins of the world carries His own blood into the holy presence.
It was about time for Jesus to be taken up into heaven. He turned toward Jerusalem and was sure that nothing would stop Him from going. (Luke 9:51)
Give God thanks—even as you FACE trouble!

Lev Nishbar

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. זִבְחֵי אֱלֹקים רוּחַ נִשְׁבָּרָה: לֵב נִשְׁבָּר וְנִדְכֶּה אֱלֹקים, לֹא תִבְזֶה (Tehillim/Psalm 51:19)

Those who SOW in tears; REAP in joy!

Those who are broken in heart – the nishberei lev – have discovered that they cannot control their own lives, that they are inwardly “shattered,” and therefore need divine help. Contrary to conventional wisdom, God helps those who cannot help themselves; He prefers to use broken vessels in His service (Psalm 51:19).
As Tozer also wrote, “Beware of any Christian leader who does not walk with a limp.”

Remember, God gave great victory to Gideon and his 300.

Remember, God renamed Jacob (the supplanter, the deceiver) to ISRAEL (prince with God, an overcomer) with a limp.

When someone is hurting or brokenhearted, the Eternal moves in close

and revives him in his pain. (Psalm 34:18)

Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will give you strength, and for sure I will help you. Yes, I will hold you up with My right hand that is right and good. (Isaiah 41:10)

Deuteronomy 4:7
What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?
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My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

Psalm 85:9
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.

Yet you are near, LORD, and all your commands are true.

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 51:17, Psalm 85:9, Psalm 119:151, Psalm 145:18, Psalm 147:3)

My friends, we are not those who give up hope and so are lost; but we are of the company who live by faith and so are saved.
(Hebrews 10:39)

What can we say about all these things? Since God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

So concludes an almost breathtaking succession of encounters between Jesus and people in need. Each story is unique; Jesus responds to each person as an individual, and there is no detectable formula to His way of treating people—except that in every case, His interactions are characterized by love and compassion.

Now Jesus takes His ministry of teaching the kingdom of God in word and deed to a new level: He sends out His disciples to do what they have seen Him do. Jesus commissions the twelve to multiply His ministry. They will go out from and then return to Jesus with reports of what they’ve experienced and learned. But it’s hard for them to get any time alone to talk. There are so many people who want time with Jesus!

Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction. (Isaiah 29:24)

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way. (Psalm 25:9)

In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:6)

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. (Isaiah 42:16)

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But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;
for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)

This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter. (Psalm 118:20)

The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their ways preserve their lives. (Proverbs 16:17)

Trust and Obey

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when He arrives.  (1 Peter 2:12)

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 “However, I have this against you: you have abandoned your first love.   Do you remember what it was like before you fell?

It’s time to rethink and change your ways;  go back to how you first acted.

However, if you do not return,  I will come quickly  and personally remove your lampstand from its place. 

 “Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches.

I will allow the one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death to eat from the tree of life found in God’s lush paradise.”  (Revelation 2:4-5; 7)
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God frequently changes circumstances and people WHEN we in a very PERSONAL way PRAY
that His Will be done in our own spheres of influence.

Believe in the simplicity of God’s solution!  BELIEVE!

Fear not; only BELIEVE!  Then you shall see the glory of God revealed.
       
I pray, dear Lord, that my perception may not be BLOCKED by intellectual pride or distrust
but that I may simply BELIEVE in You.  Amen.

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All the nations have gathered together So that the peoples may be assembled.

Who among them can declare this And proclaim to us the former things?

Let them present their witnesses that they may be justified, Or let them hear and say, “It is true.” 

You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.  “I, even I, am the LORD, And there is no savior besides Me.”  (Isaiah 43:9-11)
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GIVE THEM UP!

Judgment Proclaimed

Declare this in the house of Jacob And proclaim it in Judah, saying,

Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people,
Who have eyes but do not see; Who have ears but do not hear.

‘Do you not fear Me?declares the LORD. ‘Do you not tremble in My presence?
For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.…”
 
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This is why I speak to them in parables:Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”  
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” (Matthew 13:13-14)

So that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!‘” (Mark 4:12)

Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? (Mark 8:18)

He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.”  (John 12:40)

Go to this people and say, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”  (Acts 28:26)

ImageBut how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims,

A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
    telling all the good things of God!

But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act.

Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: “Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?

The point is:

Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.   (Romans 10:4-17)

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You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides Him there is no other.            (Deuteronomy 4:35)
 
See now that I Myself am Me! There is no god besides Me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of My hand.”       
(Deuteronomy 32:39)

 But you remain the same, and your years will never end.  (Psalm 102:27)
 
Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD–with the first of them and with the last–I am He.”  (Isaiah 41:4)

So that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.  (Isaiah 41:20)

Here is My servant, whom I uphold, My chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on Him, and He will bring justice to the nations. ”       (Isaiah 42:1)

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–His eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
   
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Psalm 122

A song of David  for those journeying to worship.

This is a Davidic psalm celebrating the grandeur and significance of Jerusalem and its temple. It is ironic that Jerusalem means “city of peace” since more battles have been fought over it than over any other city.

I was so happy when my fellow pilgrims said,
    “Let’s go to the house of the Eternal!”
We have made the journey, and now we are standing
    within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem! What a magnificent city!
    Buildings so close together, so compact.
God’s people belong here. Every tribe of the Eternal
    makes its way to Jerusalem
Just as God decreed for Israel
    to come together and give thanks to the Eternal.
In Jerusalem, justice is the order of the day because there sit the judges
    and kings, the descendants of David.

 Ask heaven to grant peace to Jerusalem:
    “May those who love you prosper.
O Jerusalem, may His peace fill this entire city!
    May this citadel be quiet and at ease!”
It’s because of people—my family, friends, and acquaintances
    that I say, “May peace permeate you.”
And because the house of Eternal One, our God, is here, know this:
    I will always seek your good!

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Teach a child how to follow the right way;
    even when he is old, he will stay on course.   (Proverbs 22:6)

Psalm 127

A song of Solomon for those journeying to worship.

Psalm 127 is attributed to Solomon, underscoring the futility of human endeavor apart from God. It is similar in tone and theme to other wisdom literature.

Unless the Eternal builds the house,
    those who labor to raise it will have worked for nothing.
Unless the Eternal stands watch over the city,
    those who guard it have wasted their time.
God provides for His own.
    It is pointless to get up early,
    work hard, and go to bed late
Anxiously laboring for food to eat;
    for God provides for those He loves, even while they are sleeping.

Know this: children are a gift from the Eternal;
    the fruit of the womb is His reward.
Your sons born in your youth are a protection,
    like arrows in the hand of a warrior.
Happy is the man who has
    his quiver full, for they will help and protect him when he is old.
He will not be humiliated when he is accused at the gate,
    for his sons will stand with him against his enemies.

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What are you waiting for? Return to your God!
    Commit yourself in love, in justice!
Wait for your God,
    and don’t give up on Him—ever!  (Hosea 12:6)

 

Then Jehoshaphat took a position before the assembled people of Judah and Jerusalem at The Temple of God in front of the new courtyard and said, “O God, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven above and ruler of all kingdoms below? You hold all power and might in your fist—no one stands a chance against you! And didn’t you make the natives of this land leave as you brought your people Israel in, turning it over permanently to your people Israel, the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived here and built a holy house of worship to honor you, saying, ‘When the worst happens—whether war or flood or disease or famine—and we take our place before this Temple (we know you are personally present in this place!) and pray out our pain and trouble, we know that you will listen and give victory.’  (2 Chronicles 20:5-9)Image

 

The businessmen engage in wholesale fraud.
    They love to rip people off!
Ephraim boasted, “Look, I’m rich!
    I’ve made it big!
And look how well I’ve covered my tracks:
    not a hint of fraud, not a sign of sin!”

 “But not so fast! I’m God, your God!
    Your God from the days in Egypt!
I’m going to put you back to living in tents,
    as in the old days when you worshiped in the wilderness.
I speak through the prophets
    to give clear pictures of the way things are.
    Using prophets, I tell revealing stories.
I show Gilead rampant with religious scandal
    and Gilgal teeming with empty-headed religion.
I expose their worship centers as
    stinking piles of garbage in their gardens.”

Are you going to repeat the life of your ancestor Jacob?
    He ran off guilty to Aram,
Then sold his soul to get ahead,
    and made it big through treachery and deceit.
Your real identity is formed through God-sent prophets,
    who led you out of Egypt and served as faithful pastors.
As it is, Ephraim has continually
    and inexcusably insulted God.
Now he has to pay for his life-destroying ways.
    His Master will do to him what he has done.

(Hosea 12:7-14)

I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

(Romans 7:15-25)

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Released from the Law, Bound to Christ

Grace is no license to sin. As creatures, we are made to serve our Creator. In the absence of truth, we will serve somebody or something. It’s an essential part of our nature. Our only choice is this: whom will we serve? At one time, we all served sin and grew weak under its deadly power over us. Now, through God’s grace, we have become servants of obedience that sets us right with God, each other, and ourselves. We must daily decide whose servant we are and offer Him our hands, our feet, our hearts, our eyes.

Before Christ came, Moses’ laws served as our guardian. Christ came so that we could receive God’s approval by faith.

Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.  (Galatians 3:24) 

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak–

Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.  (Romans 10:4)

Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.  (Galatians 3:25)

ImageBut Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 19:14)
And now they’ve come to kick us out of the country you gave us. O dear God, won’t you take care of them? We’re helpless before this vandal horde ready to attack us. We don’t know what to do; we’re looking to you.”

 Everyone in Judah was there—little children, wives, sons—all present and attentive to God.

Then Jahaziel was moved by the Spirit of God to speak from the midst of the congregation. (Jahaziel was the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah the Levite of the Asaph clan.) He said, “Attention everyone—all of you from out of town, all you from Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat—God’s word: Don’t be afraid; don’t pay any mind to this vandal horde. This is God’s war, not yours. Tomorrow you’ll go after them; see, they’re already on their way up the slopes of Ziz; you’ll meet them at the end of the ravine near the wilderness of Jeruel. You won’t have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm, Judah and Jerusalem, and watch God’s saving work for you take shape. Don’t be afraid, don’t waver. March out boldly tomorrow—God is with you.”

Then Jehoshaphat knelt down, bowing with his face to the ground. All Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping God. The Levites (both Kohathites and Korahites) stood to their feet to praise God, the God of Israel; they praised at the top of their lungs!

They were up early in the morning, ready to march into the wilderness of Tekoa. As they were leaving, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, “Listen Judah and Jerusalem! Listen to what I have to say! Believe firmly in God, your God, and your lives will be firm! Believe in your prophets and you’ll come out on top!”

After talking it over with the people, Jehoshaphat appointed a choir for God; dressed in holy robes, they were to march ahead of the troops, singing,

Give thanks to God,
His love never quits.

As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir as they were attacking Judah, and they all ended up dead. The Ammonites and Moabites mistakenly attacked those from Mount Seir and massacred them. Then, further confused, they went at each other, and all ended up killed.

As Judah came up over the rise, looking into the wilderness for the horde of barbarians, they looked on a killing field of dead bodies—not a living soul among them.

 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to carry off the plunder they found more loot than they could carry off—equipment, clothing, valuables. It took three days to cart it away! On the fourth day they came together at the Valley of Blessing (Beracah) and blessed God (that’s how it got the name, Valley of Blessing).

 Jehoshaphat then led all the men of Judah and Jerusalem back to Jerusalem—an exuberant parade. God had given them joyful relief from their enemies! They entered Jerusalem and came to The Temple of God with all the instruments of the band playing.

When the surrounding kingdoms got word that God had fought Israel’s enemies, the fear of God descended on them. Jehoshaphat heard no more from them; as long as Jehoshaphat reigned, peace reigned.

(2 Chronicles 20:12-30)

 

 

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Those who forgive faults foster love,
but those who repeatedly recall them ruin relationships.

(Proverbs 17:9)

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He who embodied the sins of the world carries His own blood into the holy presence.
then He adds,

 

 I will erase their sins and wicked acts out of My memory
    as though they had never existed. 

 

 When there is forgiveness such as this,

there is no longer any need to make an offering for sin.

 

So, my friends, Jesus by His blood gives us courage to enter the most holy place. 

He has created for us a new and living way through the curtain, that is,

 

through His flesh. 

Since we have a great High Priest who presides over the house of God,let us draw near with true hearts full of faith, with hearts rinsed clean of any evil conscience, and with bodies cleansed with pure water. 

Let us hold strong to the confession of our hope, never wavering,

since the One who promised it to us is faithful. 

Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds,  

not forgetting to gather as a community, as some have forgotten,

but encouraging each other, especially as the day of His return approaches.

 

The word translated “church” in English Bibles means literally “assembly of the called”;

it implies that members have said “yes” to God’s call in their lives.

We assemble because we are called into being by God Himself.

Some people, for reasons only they know, choose to live their Christian faiths in isolation.

When they do, they cut themselves off from the gifts, encouragement, and vitality of others.

And perhaps, just as tragically, they deprive the church of the grace and life God has invested in them.

Now if we willfully persist in sin after receiving such knowledge of the truth, then there is no sacrifice left for those sins— only the fearful prospect of judgment and a fierce fire that will consume God’s adversaries. Remember that those who depart from the law of Moses are put to death without mercy based on the testimony of two or three witnesses.Just think how much more severe the punishment will be for those who have turned their backs on the Son of God, trampled on the blood of the covenant by which He made them holy, and outraged the Spirit of grace with their contempt. 

For we know the God who said, “Vengeance belongs to Me—I will repay,”also said, “The Eternal One will judge His people.”

It is truly a frightening thing to be on the wrong side of the living God.

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Instead, think back to the days after you were first enlightened and understood who Jesus was: when you endured all sorts of suffering in the name of the Lord  when people held you up for public scorn and ridicule, or when they abused your partners and companions in the faith.   Remember how you had compassion for those in prison and how you cheerfully accepted the seizure of your possessions, knowing that you have a far greater and more enduring possession. Remember this, and do not abandon your confidence, which will lead to rich rewards.  Simply endure, for when you have done as God requires of you, you will receive the promise.   As the prophet Habakkuk said,

 

In a little while, only a little longer,
    the One who is coming will come without delay.
 But My righteous one must live by faith,
    for if he gives up his commitment,
My soul will have no pleasure in him.

 

My friends, we are not those who give up hope and so are lost; but we are of the company who live by faith and so are saved.

(Hebrews 10:17-39)

We can’t be right with God and EFFECTIVE INTERCESSORS if we harbor the sin of an unforgiving spirit–

even though we may have confessed all other KNOWN sins.
This is a very difficult lesson for some to learn, but it is very important.

Sharing God’s  new life MAKES YOU one of God’s possibility people.
With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  (Matthew 19:26)

It is my desire, Lord, to SHARE the new life You have GIVEN me with others.
Help me to let go of the spirit of unforgiveness as I want nothing hindering
my growing spiritually so that others will see You in me.  Amen.

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The penalty for harboring a fugitive varies by what state or country a person is in as well as what crime the fugitive committed. For example if a person is accused of committing murder then the person harboring them could considered an accomplice after the fact and would probably end up with some jail time. If the fugitive did not pay their parking tickets or shoplifted then chances are the person would not have any jail time and may not even have to go before a court at all.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (1 John 4:18)
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“Buy your clothes from Me, clothes designed in Heaven. You’ve gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from Me so you can see, really see.”

“The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!”  (Revelation 3:18b-19)

Job Worships God

I Babbled On About Things Far Beyond Me

 Job answered God:

“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything.
    Nothing and no one can upset your plans.
You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water,
    ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’
I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me,
    made small talk about wonders way over my head.
You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking.
    Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’
I admit I once lived by rumors of you;
    now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!
I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!
    I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”

(Job 42:1-6)

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 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 
(1 Peter 4:8)

I want to be like Joseph, who although he was the favorite of his father, was stripped of
his clothing and sold into slavery in his “birthday suit.”  Human clothes don’t make the man, the character of Christ developed into full mature does.

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate  robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.  (Genesis 37:3-4)

So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing—(Genesis 37:23)

 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.

So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.

When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?

 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.”  (Genesis 37:26-32)

ImageNow Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

 The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.  When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.   From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 

So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome,   and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care.  No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God? And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

(Genesis 39)
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Run from immoral behavior. All other sins are disconnected from the body, but sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18)

One of the strengths of the Jewish people is their corporate identity that comes from belonging to a unique, suffering people deeply loved by God. The tendency for the new, non-Jewish believers may be to create a new identity among themselves because they lack the sense of belonging shared by Israel’s descendants. A new day is dawning, a day when all may come to God regardless of ethnicity, locale, or social class. Believers in Corinth are not part of a new movement; they are a fresh expression of the historic movement of God.

The twenty-first century church needs to hear this truth today as much as the church in Corinth did two millennia ago.

The world has changed drastically since the times of Abraham, David, John the Baptist, and even Martin Luther.

In the midst of radical economic and technological advances, some within the church are embracing new or contemporary practices and regarding them as somehow superior to ancient and historic practices.

Paul is challenging this idea and calling all believers to see themselves as a part of the local, global, and historic church.

Any temptation you face will be nothing new. But God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can handle. But He always provides a way of escape so that you will be able to endure and keep moving forward

(1 Corinthians 10:13)

 You may think that the situation is hopeless, but God gives us more grace when we turn away from our own interests.

That’s why Scripture says,

God opposes the proud,
    but He pours out grace on the humble.

 So submit yourselves to the one true God and fight against the devil and his schemes. If you do, he will run away in failure. (James 4:6-7)

 I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.” (John 15:5-8)

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Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.

 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said,

It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.”

The second son he named Ephraim and said,

It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”  (Genesis 41:50-52)

Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.  “Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.”  (Matthew 5:25-26)

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Don’t allow THEIR jealousy to open the door to an unforgiving spirit.

 I do not want you to be participants with demons.

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.

Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than He? (1 Corinthians 10:20-22)

 

 You are not to bow down and serve any image, for I, the Eternal your God, am a jealous God.

As for those who are not loyal to Me, their children will endure the consequences of their sins for three or four generations. (Exodus 20:5)

  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  (Luke 6:35)

Are not two small birds sold for a very small piece of money? And yet not one of the birds falls to the earth without your Father knowing it.  
God knows how many hairs you have on your head. So do not be afraid. You are more important than many small birds.

 Whoever makes Me known in front of men, I will make him known to My Father in heaven.   But whoever does not make Me known in front of men and acts as if he does not know Me, I will not make him known to My Father in heaven.

(Matthew 10:29-33)

If you don’t forgive them, you will pay dearly for carrying the weight of anger, hatred, resentment, jealousy, spite,

all by-products of an unforgiving spirit. 
In the end,
you must come back to the root and admit your sin or be consumed by it and
destroyed.  We need the Lord’s forgiveness or we perish, it’s as simple as that.

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness–doing it His way, for His way is a light
burden when we turn it over to Jesus and He shoulders the load. 
We were not made to carry on this way! 

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Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Philadelphia.
These are the words of the holy One, the true One, and the One who possesses the key of David,
which opens the possibilities so that no one can shut them. The One who closes all options so that no one can open:

 “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door, which no one can shut.

I have done this because you have limited strength, yet you have obeyed My word and have not denied My name

Watch, and I will make those of the congregation of Satan—those who call themselves ‘Jews’ but are not because they lie—

come before you penitent, falling at your feet. Then they will know how much I have loved you. 

Because you have obeyed My instructions to endure and be patient,

I will protect you from the time of trial which will come upon the whole earth and put everyone in it to the test.

I will soon return. Hold tight to what you have so that no one can take away your victor’s wreath.

 “As for the one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death, I will plant that person as a pillar in the temple of My God,

and that person will never have to leave the presence of God.

Moreover, I will inscribe this person with the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, New Jerusalem—

which descends out of heaven from My God—and My own new name.

 

She is clothed with Strength and Dignity and She laughs without fear of the future.

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God’s intention for the world is this: “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” This is fulfilled by those who are faithful to Him.

 Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches.”  (Revelation 3:7-13)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

(Romans 13:8-10)

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 Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God’s mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship. 

Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind.

As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.

Paul urges those who read and hear his letter to respond to the good news by offering their bodies—eyes, ears, mouths, hands, feet—to God as a “living sacrifice.” Paul knows well enough that sacrifices end in death, not life.

But the sacrifice of Jesus changes everything.

His resurrection steals life from death and makes it possible for those who trust in Him to become a sacrifice and yet live.

But how do we live?

We do not live as before, wrapping ourselves in the world and its bankrupt values.

We live in constant renewal and transformation of our minds.

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Because of the grace allotted to me, I can respectfully tell you not to think of yourselves as being more important than you are; devote your minds to sound judgment since God has assigned to each of us a measure of faith. 

For in the same way that one body has so many different parts, each with different functions; we, too—the many—are different parts that form one body in the Anointed One.

Each one of us is joined with one another, and we become together what we could not be alone. 

Since our gifts vary depending on the grace poured out on each of us, it is important that we exercise the gifts we have been given. If prophecy is your gift, then speak as a prophet according to your proportion of faith. If service is your gift, then serve well. If teaching is your gift, then teach well. If you have been given a voice of encouragement, then use it often. If giving is your gift, then be generous. If leading, then be eager to get started. If sharing God’s mercy, then be cheerful in sharing it.

 Love others well, and don’t hide behind a mask; love authentically. Despise evil; pursue what is good as if your life depends on it  Live in true devotion to one another, loving each other as sisters and brothers. Be first to honor others by putting them first. Do not slack in your faithfulness and hard work. Let your spirit be on fire, bubbling up and boiling over, as you serve the Lord.   Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer.   Share what you have with the saints, so they lack nothing; take every opportunity to open your life and home to others.Image

 If people mistreat or malign you, bless them. Always speak blessings, not curses. 

If some have cause to celebrate, join in the celebration. And if others are weeping, join in that as well.   Work toward unity, and live in harmony with one another. Avoid thinking you are better than others or wiser than the rest; instead, embrace common people and ordinary tasks  Do not retaliate with evil, regardless of the evil brought against you. Try to do what is good and right and honorable as agreed upon by all people.   If it is within your power, make peace with all people.  

Again, my loved ones, do not seek revenge; instead, allow God’s wrath to make sure justice is served. Turn it over to Him.

For the Scriptures say, “Revenge is Mine. I will settle all scores.” 

But consider this bit of wisdom: “If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink; because if you treat him kindly, it will be like heaping hot coals on top of his head.

Never let evil get the best of you; instead, overpower evil with the good.  (Romans 12)

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Father, in the name of Jesus, I bind the spirit of unforgiveness and loose Your unfailing Love in Christ Jesus in its place. 
Draw me nearer to His side where there is strength and help in time of need so that I may resist the devil and all his devices.  Help me to draw joy from this well of salvation so that there is a continual overflow that others may be encouraged to come and drink from the River of Life whose headwaters flow from Christ’s side and throne.  Flood me so completely that I will overcome evil with good.  Thank You for hearing and answering this prayer, Amen
You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire.
 
Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator,
with his label on it.
 
All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ,
everyone is included in Christ.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you:

 
compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.
 
Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense.
Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.
And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other.

None of this going off and doing your own thing.
 
And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house.
Give it plenty of room in your lives.
Instruct and direct one another using good common sense.
And sing, sing your hearts out to God!
Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.  (Colossians 3:10-17)
 
Reflecting on the above, I thought about those who slam the door on our reaching out to them in bonds of peace.

They want to silence that still, small Voice inside them so much that they close their ears to Him speaking through us.

They even thwart our hugs and instead of taking hold of our hands, they twist and turn our kindness in God’s mercy and

falsely accuse us of the sin that they are harboring in the darkness of their own souls.

So how do we reach them if they won’t let us?

As soon as I asked that question; the Holy Spirit responded with, “let your light so shine…
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My little grandson knows when a room is occupied or not; whether the door is open or closed, it makes no difference to him because
just like our dog, they both can see if a light is on.

Light doesn’t need but a sliver of an opening to be MANIFEST and God’s light overcomes sin’s darkness.

If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

You don’t have to gush and shower them with affectionate words or touch; simply be His light.

 

So when someone is tempted to criticize his neighbor because her house isn’t clean enough, she seems ill-tempered, or she is a bit flighty—he should remember those same standards and judgments will come back to him. No one should criticize his neighbor for being short-tempered one morning, when he is snippish and snappish and waspish all the time.

Jesus:  Why is it that you see the dust in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but you can’t see what is in your own eye?   Don’t ignore the wooden plank in your eye, while you criticize the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eyelashes.  That type of criticism and judgment is a sham! Remove the plank from your own eye, and then perhaps you will be able to see clearly how to help your brother flush out his sawdust.

Father please sweep through my heart, Your holy temple, cleansing it from all that is not pleasing in Your sight.

Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
    Keep me from stupid sins,
    from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed,
    scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.
These are the words in my mouth;
    these are what I chew on and pray.
Accept them when I place them
    on the morning altar,
O God, my Altar-Rock,
    God, Priest-of-My-Altar.

(Psalm 19)

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 Because the One who made you will be your husband;
    the One called Commander of heavenly armies
Will set you right again, the Holy One of Israel.
    It’s not for nothing that He is called “God of all the earth.”

  For the Eternal has called you to come back home,
    like a young wife, once deserted and deeply injured.
Now God is pulling you close again. Like a spouse forgives,
    He will take you back and be reconciled.
The Eternal, your Redeemer, says this.

(Isaiah 54:5-6)
 
 

Time’s UP!

Not IF but WHEN (You RAISE me UP)

ImageJudge Nothing Before The Time
 
There’s a Right Time for Everything

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift.

I’ve also concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it’s going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God’s done it and that’s it. That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.

Whatever was, is.
Whatever will be, is.
That’s how it always is with God.
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God’s Testing Us

I took another good look at what’s going on:
The very place of judgment—corrupt! The place of righteousness—corrupt!
I said to myself, “God will judge righteous and wicked.
There’s a right time for every thing, every deed—and there’s no getting around it.
I said to myself regarding the human race,
 “God’s testing the lot of us, showing us up as nothing but animals.”

Humans and animals come to the same end—humans die, animals die.
We all breathe the same air. So there’s really no advantage in being human. None.
Everything’s smoke.
We all end up in the same place—we all came from dust, we all end up as dust.
Nobody knows for sure that the human spirit rises to heaven or that the animal spirit sinks into the earth. So I made up my mind that there’s nothing better for us men and women than to have a good time in whatever we do—that’s our lot. Who knows if there’s anything else to life? (Ecclesiastes 3)

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Cleansing Of The Temple

The true temple is Christ’s body.  The true communion is Christ’s body as bread broken for you
and Christ’s blood as wine spilled for you for the remission of sins.

Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who comes from God and dwells inside of you?

You do not own yourself.  You have been purchased at a great price, so use your body to bring glory to God! 

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Our Bodies are Members of Christ

NOW God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. 

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?

Shall I THEN take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! 

Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her?

For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.”  (1 Corinthians 6:14-16)
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Father, may they all be one as You are in Me and I am in You; may they be in Us, for by this unity the world will believe that You sent Me.

All the glory You have given to Me, I pass on to them. May that glory unify them and make them one as We are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may be refined so that all will know that You sent Me, and You love them in the same way You love Me.

In this great prayer that Jesus prays for His disciples, He returns repeatedly to the gathering of believers unified with the Father and the Son. 
(John 17:21-23)       

Forgiveness is the most powerful healing force there is.

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But think about this:

WHILE we were wasting our lives in sin,

God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible display—the Anointed One died for us. 

As a result, the blood of Jesus has made us RIGHT with God NOW,
and certainly we will be RESCUED by Him from God’s wrath in the FUTURE

If we were in the heat of combat with God WHEN His Son reconciled us by laying down His life,

THEN how much more will we be saved by Jesus’ resurrection life?
In fact, we stand NOW reconciled and at peace with God.
That’s why we celebrate in God through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed. 
(Romans 5:8-11)

Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.
(1 Corinthians 10:17)Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12) If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (1 Corinthians 12:26)
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Since the Anointed suffered in the flesh, prepare yourselves to do the same—anyone who has suffered in the flesh for the Lord is no longer in the grip of sin— so that you may live the rest of your life on earth controlled not by earthly desires but by the will of God.

The reality of suffering in the world causes many to question the existence of an all-powerful and all-loving God.

A God of power and love is expected to be both able and willing to remove suffering from our lives.

ULTIMATELY, God will make all things new and end suffering, but for NOW God allows it and calls us to rejoice in the midst of it. Though we may not understand it, pain and suffering have a purpose in God’s plan, and our Creator is not immune to it. Through Jesus God enters into our suffering; now we are called to enter into His.

You have already wasted enough time living like those outsiders in the society around you: losing yourselves in sex,

in addictions and desires, in drinking and lawless idolatry, in giving your time and allegiance to things that are not godly.

WHEN you don’t play the same games they do, they notice that you are living by different rules.

That’s why they say such terrible things about you. 

SOMEDAY they, too, will have to give an account of themselves to the One who JUDGES the living and the dead.  

(This is why the good news had to be brought to those who are dead so that although they are judged in the flesh,

they might live in the spirit in the way that pleases God.)

We are coming to the END of all things, so be serious and keep your wits about you in order to pray more forcefully.

*** Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly, because love makes up for many faults. ***

Show hospitality to each other without complaint.  

Use whatever gift you’ve received for the good of one another so that you can show yourselves to be good stewards of God’s grace in all its varieties.  If you’re called upon to talk, speak as though God put the words in your mouth;

if you’re called upon to serve others, serve as though you had the strength of God behind you.

In these ways, God may be glorified in all you do through Jesus the Anointed, to whom belongs glory and power, now and forever. Amen.
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Dear ones, don’t be surprised WHEN you experience your trial by fire.

It is not something strange and unusual, but it is something you should rejoice in.

In it you share the Anointed’s sufferings, and you will be that much more joyful WHEN His glory is revealed.  

If anyone condemns you for following Jesus as the Anointed One, consider yourself blessed.

The glorious Spirit of God rests on you.

But none of you should ever merit suffering like those who have murdered or stolen, meddled in the affairs of others or done evil things.   But if you should suffer for being a Christian, don’t think of it as a disgrace, as it would be if you had done wrong. Praise God that you’re permitted to carry this name.

People often suffer because of poor decisions that result in shame, but the people of God face persecution for their faithfulness that leads to honor and glory.

For the TIME for judgment has come, and it is beginning with the household of God.
If it is starting with us, what will happen to those who have rejected God’s good news?
It is written in Proverbs,

If it is hard for the righteous ones to be saved, what will happen to the ungodly and the sinners?

So even if you should suffer NOW  for doing God’s will,

Continue doing good and trust your FUTURES to the judgment and mercy of a faithful Creator.  (1 Peter 4)

Remember Joseph?  (Genesis 41:51)

In the names of his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, Joseph owned the Divine providence.

He was made to forget his misery.

He was made fruitful in the land of his affliction.

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Tear Down This Temple . . .

 When the Passover Feast, celebrated each spring by the Jews, was about to take place, Jesus traveled up to Jerusalem.

He found the Temple teeming with people selling cattle and sheep and doves.

The loan sharks were also there in full strength.

 Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather and chased them out of the Temple, stampeding the sheep and cattle, upending the tables of the loan sharks, spilling coins left and right.

He told the dove merchants, “Get your things out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a shopping mall!

That’s when his disciples remembered the Scripture, “Zeal for your house consumes me.

 But the Jews were upset. They asked, “What credentials can you present to justify this?

Jesus answered, “Tear down this Temple and in three days I’ll put it back together.”

 They were indignant: “It took forty-six years to build this Temple, and you’re going to rebuild it in three days?

But Jesus was talking about his body as the Temple.

Later, after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this.

They then put two and two together and believed both what was written in Scripture and what Jesus had said.

 During the time he was in Jerusalem, those days of the Passover Feast, many people noticed the signs he was displaying and, seeing they pointed straight to God, entrusted their lives to him. But Jesus didn’t entrust his life to them.

He knew them inside and out, knew how untrustworthy they were. He didn’t need any help in seeing right through them.  (John 2:13-25)   

The temple is the place for the members to come together under one head to glorify God.
Each member has its place and function in God’s purpose.
Instruments of God’s grace and glory.
Our service; our work; our song is building a house for God’s glory in every corner of the world,
every avenue, every area—
So that others return to worship the Lord!

I must deliberately give my sanctified life to God for His service, so that He can use me as His hands and His feet

(Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest)

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For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people.
(1 Corinthians 14:33)

House Cleaning

Many Members, One Body

And if one member suffers, ALL the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, ALL the members rejoice with it.

NOW you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.
(1 Corinthians 12:26-27)

So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
(Romans 12:5)
        BUILDING UP THE BODY IN LOVE
RAISED IN GLORY (BODY OF RISEN LORD)   
Our bodies are buried in brokeness
but they will be raised in glory!
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A resentful heart has no room to receive.  It is like voicemail that is full and rejects any new messages. 
Lord, help me not to judge others.  I pray You will set right anything that is wrong in me today.
Amen.

ALL GOOD ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD

WHEN you realize that ALL things work together for good…
THEN when ALL members work together for the glory of God; THERE God commands the blessing, even life forevermore!

When we keep a record of what is happening to us, it isn’t long before we either
become resentful at God and others OR we realize that the difficult times, people and things
are there for a reason, and that God makes no mistakes.
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O my soul, come, praise the Eternal
    with all that is in me—body, emotions, mind, and will—every part of who I am—
    praise His holy name.
O my soul, come, praise the Eternal;
    sing a song from a grateful heart;
    sing and never forget all the good He has done.
Despite all your many offenses, He forgives and releases you.
    More than any doctor, He heals your diseases.
He reaches deep into the pit to deliver you from death.
    He crowns you with unfailing love and compassion like a king.
When your soul is famished and withering,
    He fills you with good and beautiful things, satisfying you as long as you live.
    He makes you strong like an eagle, restoring your youth.

When people are crushed, wronged, enslaved, raped, murdered,
    the Eternal is just;
    He makes the wrongs right.
He showed Moses His ways;
    He allowed His people Israel to see His wonders and acts of power.
The Eternal is compassionate and merciful.
    When we cross all the lines, He is patient with us.
    When we struggle against Him, He lovingly stays with us—changing, convicting, prodding;
He will not constantly criticize,
    nor will He hold a grudge forever.
Thankfully, God does not punish us for our sins and depravity as we deserve.
    In His mercy, He tempers justice with peace.
Measure how high heaven is above the earth;
    God’s wide, loving, kind heart is greater for those who revere Him.
You see, God takes all our crimes—our seemingly inexhaustible sins—and removes them.
    As far as east is from the west, He removes them from us.
An earthly father expresses love for his children;
    it is no different with our heavenly Father;
The Eternal shows His love for those who revere Him.
For He knows what we are made of;
    He knows our frame is frail, and He remembers we came from dust.

The children of Adam are like grass;
    their days are few;
    they flourish for a time like flowers in a meadow.
As the wind blows over the field and the bloom is gone,
    it doesn’t take much to blow us out of the memory of that place.
But the unfailing love of the Eternal is always and eternal
    for those who reverently run after Him.
    He extends His justice on and on to future generations,
To those who will keep His bond of love
    and remember to walk in the guidance of His commands.

The Eternal has established His throne up in the heavens.
    He rules over every seen and unseen realm and creature.
Adore Him! Give Him praise, you heavenly messengers,
    you powerful creatures who listen to
    and act on His every word.
Give praise to the Eternal, all armies of heaven—
    you servants who stand ready to do His will.
Give praise to the Eternal, all that He has made
    in all corners of His creation.
O my soul, come, praise the Eternal!
(Psalm 103)
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Religious people often spend their time practicing rituals, projecting dogma, and going through routines that might look like Christianity on the outside but that lack the essential ingredient that brings all of it together—love!

It is a loving God who birthed creation and now pursues a broken people in the most spectacular way.

That same love must guide believers, so faith doesn’t appear to be meaningless noise.

Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about.
There’s no arrogance in love;   it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed.
Love isn’t easily upset.

Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice; but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight! 

Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what.

Love will never become obsolete.

Now as for the prophetic gifts, they will not last;

unknown languages will become silent, and the gift of knowledge will no longer be needed.
Gifts of knowledge and prophecy are partial at best, at least for NOW

but WHEN the perfection and fullness of God’s kingdom arrive, all the parts will end.

WHEN I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned in childlike ways as we all do.
But WHEN I became a man, I left my childish ways behind.

For NOW, we can only see a dim and blurry picture of things, as WHEN we stare into polished metal.

I realize that everything I know is only part of the big picture.

But one day, WHEN Jesus arrives, we will see clearly, face-to-face.

In that day, I will fully know just as I have been wholly known by God.

But NOW faith, hope, and love remain; these three virtues must characterize our lives. The greatest of these is love. 
(1 Corinthians 13:4-13)

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