No one is righteous—not even one.
There is no one who understands the truth;no one is seeking after the one True God.
All have turned away; together they’ve become worthless.
No one does good, not even one.
What comes out of their mouths is as foul as a rotting corpse;their words stink of flattery.
Viper venom hides beneath their lips; their mouths are full of curses, lies, and oppression.
Their feet race to violence and bloodshed;destruction and trouble line the roads of their lives,
And they’ve never taken the road to peace.
You will never see the fear of God in their eyes.
Good For Nothing but 17 is the # of VICTORY; it follows #16 “love never fails“
(1 Corinthians 13:8)
There is no ultimate victory without love.
Apart from him we can do nothing but nothing is impossible with god
This week, God has been speaking several times to me concerning the number 17.
He would not leave it go, but continued to bring it to mind.
Yesterday, He led me to hike the VICTORIA Trail which connects to the Appalachian Trail on Peter’s Mountain which is the fourth mountain in the Blue Mountain chain.
As we were ascending, the sound of the cicadas was thunderous among the fullness of the blossoming mountain laurel. Then I recalled having heard the sound last week while bicycling around a nearby state park! This is the mating season for the emerging from the ground “17 year cicada.” They were shedding their outer casing and emerging and climbing the trees to spread their wings in courtship.
The locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank. (Proverbs 30:27)
Not every cicada survives as evidenced by some entrapped in their former existence
being consumed by ants and stinkbugs. In fact we captured an image of two cicada
shells side-by-side, one having emerged successfully from the old into the new fruitful manifestation; the other doomed to death in its former home.
The periodical cicada life cycle is curious for being a prime numbers—17.
All of the members of the population are developmentally synchronized—they emerge as adults all at once in the same year. Cicadas of all other species (perhaps 3000 worldwide) are not synchronized.
The nymphs of the periodical cicada undergo 5 instar stages in their development underground. While underground, the nymphs move deeper below ground feeding on larger roots. Emerging nymphs climb to a suitable place on the nearby vegetation to complete their transformation into an adult cicada. They molt one last time and then spend about six days in the leaves waiting for their exoskeleton to harden completely. Just after this final molt, the teneral adults are white, but darken within an hour.
Adult periodical cicadas live only for a few weeks—by mid-July, all have disappeared. Their short adult life has one purpose: reproduction.
The males “sing” a species-specific mating song; like other cicadas, they produce loud sounds using their tymbals. Singing males of a single Magicicada species form aggregations (choruses) that are sexually attractive to females. Males in these choruses alternate bouts of singing with short flights from tree to tree in search of receptive females. Most matings occur in “chorus” trees.
Receptive females respond to the calls of conspecific males with timed wing-flicks, which attract the males for mating. The sounds of a “chorus“—a group of males—can be deafening and reach 100 dB In addition to their “calling” or “congregating” song, males produce a distinctive courtship song when approaching an individual female.
The 17th time Isaac is mentioned is in Genesis 24:63, where his bride was coming to meet him after Eliezar had found her.
Eliezar means “God helps,” and is a type of the Holy Spirit, the great “Helper” or
“Comforter” who is SENT to seek out a Bride in the earth for Christ.
When the Bride of Christ comes to MEET Him, it is a time of GREAT VICTORY.
In Genesis 27:22, we see Jacob mentioned for the 17th time. It is in connection with his VICTORY over Esau in obtaining the blessing from Isaac. However, in this case he obtained the victory in a deceitful manner, as his name “Jacob” (deceiver, supplanter, grabber) suggests.
It was not until Jacob faced his fears and came to grips with man’s inability for real reform apart from God that his character was transformed supernaturally and God
gave him the new name, “Israel” which means “persevering with God He Will Be A Prince With God.”
IT TAKES FAITH AND PERSEVERANCE TO INHERIT GOD’S PROMISES
So let’s push on toward a more perfect understanding and move beyond just the basic teachings of the Anointed One. There’s no reason to rehash the fundamentals: repenting from what you loved in your old dead lives, believing in God as our Creator and Redeemer, teaching about baptism, setting aside those called to service through the ritual laying on of hands, the coming resurrection of those who have died, and God’s final judgment of all people for all time. No, we will move on toward perfection, if God wills it.
It’s clear that Jesus wanted His people to grow and mature in faith. Those who don’t move beyond the basics—tasting the gifts and powers of the new creation, partaking in the Spirit and the word of God—and then fall away bring shame to Jesus and produce nothing but briars and brambles. There is no stagnant life in the Kingdom. Either you grow and produce a blessing or you languish and descend into a curse. Be warned.
You see, God blesses the ground that drinks of the rain and then produces a bountiful crop for those who cultivate it. But land that produces nothing but thorns and brambles? That land is worthless and in danger of being cursed, burned to the bare earth.
But listen, my friends—we don’t mean to discourage you completely with such talk. We are convinced that you are made for better things, the things of salvation, because God is not unjust or unfair. He won’t overlook the work you have done or the love you have carried to each other in His name while doing His work, as you are still doing. We want you all to continue working until the end so that you’ll realize the certainty that comes with hope and not grow lazy. We want you to walk in the footsteps of the faithful who came before you, from whom you can learn to be steadfast in pursuing the promises of God.
In 2 Samuel 5:5, we find the 17th time Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible.
The new Jerusalem, the HEAVENLY City, our true home, is the Bride of Christ.
In the above Scripture, it says that David reigned in Hebron for 7 years and in Jerusalem for 33 years. The passage also tells us that David CONQUERED Jerusalem and the “stronghold of Zion” (2 Samuel 5:7). This portrays David as VICTORIOUS.
In addition to this, Jerusalem is mentioned 17 times in the Psalms in order to portray David’s VICTORY in the old Jerusalem as well as Christ’s VICTORY in the New Jerusalem.
Jeremiah, God’s prophet, records 17 prayers.
The 17th prayer is found in Jeremiah 32.
The prayer is made while the Babylonian army was surrounding Jerusalem. In such circumstances, the prophet REDEEMS the land in Anathoth for 17 shekels of silver (Jeremiah 32:9). It is remarkable that Anathoth means “ANSWERED PRAYERS.”
Then in Jeremiah 32:17-25, Jeremiah prays his GREAT PRAYER OF VICTORY.
There are no more prayers in Jeremiah, serving to remind us that once we obtain the VICTORY of ANSWERED PRAYER, no further prayer is needed to obtain the object of prayer.
There is VICTORY in Jesus. His last words from the cross are “it is finished.”
If you are wondering if your faith is authentic, take a look at your life. Are you doing what is right?
(1 John 3:8)
The one persisting in sin belongs to the diabolical one, who has been all about sin from the beginning. That is why the Son of God came into our world: to destroy the plague of destruction inflicted on the world by the diabolical one.
God Has Broken Through
This is your Day of BREAKTHROUGH!
What God has cleansed and pronounced clean, do not you defile and profane by regarding and calling common and unhallowed or unclean. (Acts 10:15)
This was confirmed by the heavenly Voice three times to Peter!
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the powerof the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. (Romans 8:1-2)
In Mark 5:7 Jesus is mentioned for the 17th time in that gospel, where He is VICTORIOUS over an unclean spirit. In Luke 5:12, Jesus is VICTORIOUS over leprosy and it is the 17th time Jesus’ name is mentioned in Luke’s gospel.
In Romans 8:35-39 there are 17 things that are unable to separate us from the love of Christ!
His love is VICTORIOUS over all of these. The truth is that God’s unfailing love is the SOLUTION, the ANSWER is hidden in plain view. If you seek Him you will find Him and Jesus is the Embodiment of God’s unfailing love. There is VICTORY in Jesus and In Christ alone is your real life and true identity found. It is plain, then, that the numbers 16 and 17 are LINKED TOGETHER because love is the path to VICTORY,
and VICTORY is not possible without the love of God.
This Gospel begins not with Jesus’ birth or John’s baptism but with a deliberate echo of the creation story in Genesis. It takes us back before time began to the moment when God interrupts the silence and speaks the cosmos into existence. Only John’s Gospel names Jesus as the Logos and declares that He existed long before time was measured. This Greek word carries a variety of meanings, all relating to the act of speaking. It could be translated “word,” a thought that comes to expression, message, declaration, reason, or the content of preaching; most are found in various translations. It is clear that John means that logos is declared to all creation.
John’s use of logos is unique and has often been rendered as “Word.” While this is a useful translation, even a casual understanding demonstrates that “Word” reflects only part of its meaning. Most readers will interpret “word” as a unit of language—a combination of sounds generally spoken but also written—that carries meaning. To understand what John means, readers need something more than their cultural understanding of “word”; they need a new way of thinking about it. This is why we have chosen to offer another rendering, an interpretive, poetic translation, of what may be one of the most theologically loaded words in Scripture. Since logos essentially refers to the act of speaking or bringing thoughts to expression, we have decided to use the word “voice” to capture that reality. John declares that truth has culminated in the person of Jesus. No single word captures the complete meaning of logos, but “voice” has a number of advantages.
First, “voice” manifests the act of speaking. Voice is that which is spoken and that which is heard; it comes on both sides of any communication event, bridging the gap between sender and receiver. John intends that in Jesus God is speaking and revealing Himself to the world.
Second, a voice is distinct and personal. We can distinguish people from one another simply by their voices. In John 10 Jesus describes the fact that the sheep hear the voice of the shepherd when he calls and they follow, but they refuse to follow a stranger because they do not know his voice (John 10:1-5). John desires that we know Jesus as the Son of God and believe in Him personally as the Good Shepherd.
We all have wandered off, like shepherdless sheep,
scattered by our aimless striving and endless pursuits;
The Eternal One laid on him, this silent sufferer,
the sins of us all.
Third, “voice” is dynamic in that it reflects the robust and powerful activity of a living God. It is historical in that any act of speaking comes to expression and takes place in the real world as a “voice” calling, demanding a response. It challenges any notion that the Christian faith can be reduced to rules, propositions, or doctrines that can be merely believed or dismissed and not lived out in our lives. Since in Jesus God is speaking and revealing Himself to the world, and since in Jesus we hear the Voice of God, then this new reality changes everything so we, too, must change.
In the beginning
Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.
The Voice was and is God.
This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator;
His speech shaped the entire cosmos.
Immersed in the practice of creating,
all things that exist were birthed in Him.
His breath filled all things
with a living, breathing light—
A light that thrives in the depths of darkness,
blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched.
A man named John, who was sent by God, was the first to clearly articulate the source of this Light. This baptizer put in plain words the elusive mystery of the Divine Light so all might believe through him. Some wondered whether he might be the Light, but John was not the Light. He merely pointed to the Light. The true Light, who shines upon the heart of everyone, was coming into the cosmos.
Jesus as the Light does not call out from a distant place but draws near by coming into the world.
He entered our world, a world He made; yet the world did not recognize Him. Even though He came to His own people, they refused to listen and receive Him. But for all who did receive and trust in Him, He gave them the right to be reborn as children of God; He bestowed this birthright not by human power or initiative but by God’s will.
The Voice took on flesh and became human and chose to live alongside us. We have seen Him, enveloped in undeniable splendor—the one true Son of the Father—evidenced in the perfect balance of grace and truth. John the Baptist testified about Him and shouted, “This is the one I’ve been telling you is coming. He is much greater than I am because He existed long before me.” Through this man we all receive gifts of grace beyond our imagination. You see, Moses gave us rules to live by, but Jesus the Anointed offered us gifts of grace and truth. God, unseen until now, is revealed in the Voice, God’s only Son, straight from the Father’s heart.
1 Corinthians 13
Gifts of the Spirit, which are intended to strengthen the church body, often divide the body because members of the church elevate those who possess the more visible gifts over those whose gifts function in the background. In fact, this is the very problem facing the Corinthians. So while talking about the importance and function of these gifts in chapters 12 and 14, Paul shifts his focus to the central role love plays in a believer’s life in chapter 13. Love is essential for the body to be unified and for members to work together. Members of the body that are very different, with little in common, are able to appreciate and even enjoy others because of the love that comes when a life is submitted to God.
What if I speak in the most elegant languages of people or in the exotic languages of the heavenly messengers, but I live without love? Well then, anything I say is like the clanging of brass or a crashing cymbal. What if I have the gift of prophecy, am blessed with knowledge and insight to all the mysteries, or what if my faith is strong enough to scoop a mountain from its bedrock, yet I live without love? If so, I am nothing. I could give all that I have to feed the poor, I could surrender my body to be burned as a martyr, but if I do not live in love, I gain nothing by my selfless acts.
Paul boils it all down for the believers in Corinth. 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.
17 = VICTORY!
To write seventeen in Hebrew, they wrote two Hebrew letters:
It signifies the outworking of the hand of spiritual weaponry, which gives us the victory.
If you find any comfort from being in the Anointed, if His love brings you some encouragement, if you experience true companionship with the Spirit, if His tenderness and mercy fill your heart; then, brothers and sisters, here is one thing that would complete my joy—come together as one in mind and spirit and purpose, sharing in the same love. Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first.
In other words, adopt the mind-set of Jesus the Anointed. Live with His attitude in your hearts. Remember:
Though He was in the form of God,
He chose not to cling to equality with God;
But He poured Himself out to fill a vessel brand new;
a servant in form
and a man indeed.
The very likeness of humanity,
He humbled Himself,
obedient to death—
a merciless death on the cross!
So God raised Him up to the highest place
and gave Him the name above all.
So when His name is called,
every knee will bow,
in heaven, on earth, and below.
And every tongue will confess
“Jesus, the Anointed One, is Lord,”
to the glory of God our Father!
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. Even if my lifeblood is to be poured out like wine as a sacrifice of your faith, I have great reason to celebrate with all of you. And for the same reason, you can be glad and celebrate with me.
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy your way. He will visit soon so that he may report to me how you are doing. To hear all that is going on with you will truly encourage my heart. There is no one like Timothy. What sets him apart from others is his deep concern for you and your spiritual journey. This is rare, my friends, for most people only care about themselves, not about what is dear to the heart of Jesus the Anointed. You know Timothy is genuine in the Lord’s ways. He has been a faithful partner to me as we express the good news, as much as my own flesh and blood would have been.
THERE IS A FRIEND THAT STICKS CLOSER THAN A BROTHER
NOT AS CAIN WHO SLEW HIS BROTHER
NOT AS JOSEPH’S BROTHERS WHOSE ENVY CONSUMED THEM
NOT AS DAVID’S BROTHERS WHOSE JEALOUSY BLINDED THEM
BUT AS CHRIST JESUS THE MESSIAH WHO GAVE HIMSELF FOR US TO REALLY LIVE AS OUR TRUE SELVES IN HIS ABUNDANCE.
Adding all the numbers from one to seventeen gives us 153, which is the number of fish that the disciples caught in John 21:11. As number 153 is the numeric value of “sons of God,” we can see that there is a strong connection between the FINAL VICTORY and the MANIFESTATION of the sons of God.
Jesus: I am the true vine, and My Father is the keeper of the vineyard. My Father examines every branch in Me and cuts away those who do not bear fruit. He leaves those bearing fruit and carefully prunes them so that they will bear more fruit; already you are clean because you have heard My voice. Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. A branch cannot bear fruit if it is disconnected from the vine, and neither will you if you are not connected to Me.
I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear great fruit. Without Me, you will accomplish nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is like a branch that is tossed out and shrivels up and is later gathered to be tossed into the fire to burn. If you abide in Me and My voice abides in you, anything you ask will come to pass for you. Your abundant growth and your faithfulness as My followers will bring glory to the Father.
At a time when all of His disciples are feeling as if they are about to be uprooted, Jesus sketches a picture of this new life as a flourishing vineyard—a labyrinth of vines and strong branches steeped in rich soil, abundant grapes hanging from their vines ripening in the sun. Jesus sculpts a new garden of Eden in their imaginations—one that is bustling with fruit, sustenance, and satisfying aromas. This is the Kingdom life. It is all about connection, sustenance, and beauty. But within this promise of life is the warning that people must be in Christ or they will not experience these blessings.
Jesus: I have loved you as the Father has loved Me. Abide in My love. Follow My example in obeying the Father’s commandments and receiving His love. If you obey My commandments, you will stay in My love. I want you to know the delight I experience, to find ultimate satisfaction, which is why I am telling you all of this.
My commandment to you is this: love others as I have loved you. There is no greater way to love than to give your life for your friends. You celebrate our friendship if you obey this command. I don’t call you servants any longer; servants don’t know what the master is doing, but I have told you everything the Father has said to Me. I call you friends. You did not choose Me. I chose you, and I orchestrated all of this so that you would be sent out and bear great and perpetual fruit. As you do this, anything you ask the Father in My name will be done. This is My command to you: love one another.
If you find that the world despises you, remember that before it despised you, it first despised Me. If you were a product of the world order, then it would love you. But you are not a product of the world because I have taken you out of it, and it despises you for that very reason. Don’t forget what I have spoken to you: “a servant is not greater than the master.” If I was mistreated, you should expect nothing less. If they accepted what I have spoken, they will also hear you. Everything they do to you they will do on My account because they do not know the One who has sent Me. If I had not spoken within their hearing, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for ignoring My voice.
If someone despises Me, he also despises My Father. If I had not demonstrated things for them that have never been done, they would not be guilty of sin. But the reality is they have stared Me in the face, and they have despised Me and the Father nonetheless. Yet their law, which says, “They despised Me without any cause,” has again been proven true.
I will send a great Helper to you from the Father, one known as the Spirit of truth. He comes from the Father and will point to the truth as it concerns Me. But you will also point others to the truth about My identity, because you have journeyed with Me since this all began.
The 17th time Abraham is mentioned is in Genesis 18:18, in CONNECTION with the FINAL VICTORY and the PURPOSE for his CALLING.
After all, Abraham will become the father of a great and powerful nation, and all the other nations of the earth will find their blessing in him.
By faith Abraham heard God’s call to travel to a place he would one day receive as an inheritance; and he obeyed, not knowing where God’s call would take him. By faith he journeyed to the land of the promise as a foreigner; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, his fellow heirs to the promise because Abraham looked ahead to a city with foundations, a city laid out and built by God.
By faith Abraham’s wife Sarah became fertile long after menopause because she believed God would be faithful to His promise. So from this man, who was almost at death’s door, God brought forth descendants, as many as the stars in the sky and as impossible to count as the sands of the shore.
The Spirit is the one who gives life and the flesh doesn’t help at all. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (John 6:63)
Therefore, now no condemnation awaits those who are living in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King, because when you live in the Anointed One, Jesus, a new law takes effect. The law of the Spirit of life breathes into you and liberates you from the law of sin and death. God did something the law could never do. You see, human flesh took its toll on God’s law. In and of itself, the law is not weak; but the flesh weakens it. So to condemn the sin that was ruling in the flesh, God sent His own Son, bearing the likeness of sinful flesh, as a sin offering. Now we are able to live up to the justice demanded by the law. But that ability has not come from living by our fallen human nature; it has come because we walk according to the movement of the Spirit in our lives.
If you live your life animated by the flesh—namely, your fallen, corrupt nature—then your mind is focused on the matters of the flesh. But if you live your life animated by the Spirit—namely, God’s indwelling presence—then your focus is on the work of the Spirit. A mind focused on the flesh is doomed to death, but a mind focused on the Spirit will find full life and complete peace. You see, a mind focused on the flesh is declaring war against God; it defies the authority of God’s law and is incapable of following His path. So it is clear that God takes no pleasure in those who live oriented to the flesh.
The power of sin and death has been eclipsed by the power of the Spirit. The Spirit breathes life into our mortal, sin-infested bodies—thanks to what Jesus has done for us. By sending His Son in “the likeness of sinful flesh,” God judges sin finally and completely. The sins of the world are concentrated and condemned in the flesh of Jesus as He hangs on the cross. So now there is no condemnation remaining for those who’ve entered into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
But you do not live in the flesh. You live in the Spirit, assuming, of course, that the Spirit of God lives inside of you. The truth is that anyone who does not have the Spirit of the Anointed living within does not belong to God. If the Anointed One lives within you, even though the body is as good as dead because of the effects of sin, the Spirit is infusing you with life now that you are right with God. If the Spirit of the One who resurrected Jesus from the dead lives inside of you, then you can be sure that He who raised Him will cast the light of life into your mortal bodies through the life-giving power of the Spirit residing in you.
As Paul ponders the story of redemption, he finds in the family unit a beautiful image of what salvation means. Those who enter into God’s salvation are adopted into God’s family. Before we receive the gift of God’s grace, we are homeless orphans searching for some place to belong. But now all that has changed. The Father reaches out through His Son to all those orphaned by sin and death, and He brings them into His family.
We are adopted into His forever family and fully enfranchised as His heirs.
So, my brothers and sisters, you owe the flesh nothing! You do not need to live according to its ways, so abandon its oppressive regime. For if your life is just about satisfying the impulses of your sinful nature, then prepare to die. But if you have invited the Spirit to destroy these selfish desires, you will experience life. If the Spirit of God is leading you, then take comfort in knowing you are His children. You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God’s own family. That’s why we call out to Him, “Abba! Father!” as we would address a loving daddy. Through that prayer, God’s Spirit confirms in our spirits that we are His children. If we are God’s children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His. If we share His sufferings, we know that we will ultimately share in His glory.
Now I’m sure of this: the sufferings we endure now are not even worth comparing to the glory that is coming and will be revealed in us. For all of creation is waiting, yearning for the time when the children of God will be revealed.You see, all of creation has collapsed into emptiness, not by its own choosing, but by God’s. Still He placed within it a deep and abiding hope that creation would one day be liberated from its slavery to corruption and experience the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that all creation groans in unison with birthing pains up until now. And there is more; it’s not just creation—all of us are groaning together too. Though we have already tasted the firstfruits of the Spirit, we are longing for the total redemption of our bodies that comes when our adoption as children of God is complete— for we have been saved in this hope and for this future. But hope does not involve what we already have or see. For who goes around hoping for what he already has? But if we wait expectantly for things we have never seen, then we hope with true perseverance and eager anticipation.
A similar thing happens when we pray. We are weak and do not know how to pray, so the Spirit steps in and articulates prayers for us with groaning too profound for words.Don’t you know that He who pursues and explores the human heart intimately knows the Spirit’s mind because He pleads to God for His saints to align their lives with the will of God? We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.
From the distant past, His eternal love reached into the future. You see, He knew those who would be His one day, and He chose them beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn of a new family of believers, all brothers and sisters. As for those He chose beforehand, He called them to a different destiny so that they would experience what it means to be made right with God and share in His glory.
So what should we say about all of this? If God is on our side, then tell me: whom should we fear? If He did not spare His own Son, but handed Him over on our account, then don’t you think that He will graciously give us all things with Him? Can anyone be so bold as to level a charge against God’s chosen? Especially since God’s “not guilty” verdict is already declared. Who has the authority to condemn? Jesus the Anointed who died, but more importantly, conquered death when He was raised to sit at the right hand of God where He pleads on our behalf. So who can separate us? What can come between us and the love of God’s Anointed? Can troubles, hardships, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger, or even death? The answer is, absolutely nothing. As the psalm says,
On Your behalf, our lives are endangered constantly;
we are like sheep awaiting slaughter.
But no matter what comes, we will always taste victory through Him who loved us.
For I have every confidence that nothing—not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing—can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord.
May God pour His grace and blessings into us
and turn His face to shine His light on us.
So all those on earth will learn to follow Your way
and see Your saving power come to redeem all nations.
May all people live to praise You, Our True God;
may all come to praise You.
May all nations celebrate together, singing joy-filled songs of praise to You
because You judge the people fairly
and give guidance to all the nations of the earth.
May the people praise You with their whole hearts, O God;
may every man, woman, and child on the earth praise You.
The land has supplied a bountiful harvest,
and the True God, our God, has poured out His blessings to us all.
God is the source of our blessings;
may every corner of the earth respect and revere Him.
Literally, (PAUSE, “selah”), likely a musical direction from a Hebrew root meaning “to lift up”
Let love continue among you. Don’t forget to extend your hospitality to all—even to strangers—for as you know, some have unknowingly shown kindness to heavenly messengers in this way. Remember those imprisoned for their beliefs as if you were their cellmate; and care for any who suffer harsh treatment, as you are all one body.
Hold marriage in high esteem, all of you, and keep the marriage bed pure because God will judge those who commit sexual sins.
Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have because He has said, “I will never leave you; I will always be by your side.” Because of this promise, we may boldly say,
The Lord is my help—
I won’t be afraid of anything.
How can anyone harm me?
Listen to your leaders, who have spoken God’s word to you. Notice the fruits of their lives and mirror their faith.
Jesus the Anointed One is always the same: yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by diverse and strange ways of believing or worshiping. It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about what you can eat (which do no good even for those who observe them). We approach an altar from which those who stand before the altar in the tent have no right to eat. In the past, the bodies of those animals whose blood was carried into the sanctuary by the high priest to take away sin were all burned outside the camp. (In the same way, Jesus suffered and bled outside the city walls of Jerusalem to sanctify the people.)
If we are honest, we have to admit that coming to Jesus and entering into His church ruins us—at least as far as this world is concerned. If we identify with Him in His suffering and rejection, we become a reproachful irritation to the powers that rule this culture. If we ever felt at home in this world—if we ever sensed that we belonged—then we would wake up one day to discover that we will never be at home again until we enter the city of God. By entering through Jesus, we become citizens of another city, subjects of another king. As long as we are here, we should live as resident aliens longing to go home.
Let’s then go out to Him and resolve to bear the insult and abuse that He endured. For as long as we are here, we do not live in any permanent city, but are looking for the city that is to come.
Through Jesus, then, let us keep offering to God our own sacrifice, the praise of lips that confess His name without ceasing. Let’s not neglect what is good and share what we have, for these sacrifices also please God.
Please, brothers and sisters, pay attention to this word of exhortation, for I have written only a few words to you.
May grace always be with you.
The Eternal is with me,
so I will not be afraid of anything.
If God is on my side, how can anyone hurt me?
We are on a journey through the “dry, barren wilderness” of this fallen corrupt world’s system transforming the places we pass through into spiritual life-centers, an “oasis“
in the desert. We speak life to the desert land–that same earth that was cursed
at the fall of man. Jesus who is the second Adam (man) defeated Satan and broke the curse of sin and death at the cross and arose with healing in His wings. He is the Tree of Life and we are restored to life in Him. Through Christ we have access to the Father in love, that same great love manifest in John 3:16. And because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever we can experience that love in every time and place for He is faithful and true.
Practice experiencing all of God’s UNCHANGING STEADFASTNESS in the little bumps and in the enormous disasters SO THAT, no matter what kind of forsakenness engulfs you, you can experience what the apostles did.
Early Christians found in the words of this psalm a wonderful way of describing the significance of Jesus. He was the rejected stone whom God made the cornerstone of a brand-new temple (verses 22–24).
Open wide to me the gates of justice
so that I may walk through them
and offer praise and worship to the Eternal.
This is the gate of the Eternal;
the righteous children of God will go through it.
I will praise You because You answered me when I was in trouble.
You have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very stone that holds together the entire foundation.
This is the work of the Eternal,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day the Eternal God has made;
let us celebrate and be happy today.
O Eternal One, save us, we beg You.
O Eternal One, we beg You, bring us success!
He who comes in the name of the Eternal will be blessed;
we have blessed You from the house of the Eternal.
The Eternal is the True God;
He shines His light on us.
Let the feast begin.
Bring the sacrifice, and tie it to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I give You thanks;
You are my God, and I praise You.
Give thanks to our Eternal Lord; He is always good.
He never ceases to be loving and kind.