Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (The seven lamps represent the eyes of the LORD that search all around the world.) (Zechariah 4:10)
“Perhaps the Lord will do a miracle for us. For it makes no difference to him how many enemy troops there are!”
(1 Samuel 14:6)
Remember the miraculous feeding of the 4,000 and 5,000? Nothing is impossible with God!
Just as Jesus is the Bread of Life, the Living Word of God the Father Almighty; Just one crumb, just one word, just one touch is more than enough. He supplies all your need according to His glorious riches!
LORD, You alone are my portion and my cup; You make my lot secure. (Psalm 16:5)
Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. (Psalm 73:24-27)
The Lord your God is with you,the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;in His love He will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
David’s Song of Deliverance
The foundations of the world were laid bare By the rebuke of the LORD, At the blast of the breath of His nostrils.
He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. (2 Samuel 22:16-17)
Woe to those who call evil goodand good evil,
who put darkness for lightand light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweetand sweet for bitter.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyesand clever in their own sight.
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wineand champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
but deny justice to the innocent.
Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up strawand as dry grass sinks down in the flames,
so their roots will decayand their flowers blow away like dust;
for they have rejected the law of the Lord Almightyand spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.
“That’s why I’m telling you that her many sins have been forgiven. Her great love proves that. But whoever receives little forgiveness loves very little.” (Jesus speaking in Luke 7:47)
Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes! (1 Peter 4:7-11)
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? ” And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?
(Jesus, speaking in Luke 16:10-12)
No man can work for two masters, for either he will hate one and will love the other, or he will honor one and the other he will ignore. You cannot work for God and for money.
Never betray my trust; get over ‘it’ and keep walking in my will!
Give what is inside as a gift to the poor, and then everything will be clean for you. (Luke 11:41)
Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home. (Luke 16:9)
Invite the Misfits
He went on to tell a story to the guests around the table. Noticing how each had tried to elbow into the place of honor, he said, “When someone invites you to dinner, don’t take the place of honor. Somebody more important than you might have been invited by the host. Then he’ll come and call out in front of everybody, ‘You’re in the wrong place. The place of honor belongs to this man.’ Red-faced, you’ll have to make your way to the very last table, the only place left.
“When you’re invited to dinner, go and sit at the last place. Then when the host comes he may very well say, ‘Friend, come up to the front.’ That will give the dinner guests something to talk about! What I’m saying is, If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”
Then he turned to the host. “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.” (Luke 14:7-11)
The Tongue’s Answer is from the LORD
Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.
By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.
When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Proverbs 16:5-7)
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Write this to Thyatira, to the Angel of the church. God’s Son, eyes pouring fire-blaze, standing on feet of furnace-fired bronze, says this:
“I see everything you’re doing for me. Impressive! The love and the faith, the service and persistence. Yes, very impressive! You get better at it every day.
“But why do you let that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet mislead my dear servants into Cross-denying, self-indulging religion? I gave her a chance to change her ways, but she has no intention of giving up a career in the god-business. I’m about to lay her low, along with her partners, as they play their sex-and-religion games. The bastard offspring of their idol-whoring I’ll kill. Then every church will know that appearances don’t impress me. I x-ray every motive and make sure you get what’s coming to you.
“The rest of you Thyatirans, who have nothing to do with this outrage, who scorn this playing around with the Devil that gets paraded as profundity, be assured I’ll not make life any harder for you than it already is. Hold on to the truth you have until I get there.
“Here’s the reward I have for every conqueror, everyone who keeps at it, refusing to give up: You’ll rule the nations, your Shepherd-King rule as firm as an iron staff, their resistance fragile as clay pots. This was the gift my Father gave me; I pass it along to you—and with it, the Morning Star!
“Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.”
Flee From Idolatry!
But that what the nations sacrifice they sacrifice to demons, and not to God. Now I do not wish you to be in communion with demons. (1 Corinthians 10:20)
Have No Fellowship With Demons!
How sweet the taste of Your promise is!
It tastes sweeter than honey. (Psalm 119:103)
The Eternal’s law is perfect, turning lives around.
His words are reliable and true,instilling wisdom to open minds.
The Eternal’s directions are correct,giving satisfaction to the heart.
God’s commandments are clear,lending clarity to the eyes.
The awe of the Eternal is clean,sustaining for all of eternity.
The Eternal’s decisions are sound;they are right through and through.
They are worth more than gold—even more than abundant, pure gold.
They are sweeter to the tongue than honey or the drippings of the honeycomb.
In addition to all that has been said,Your servant will find, hidden in Your commandments, both a strong warning
and a great reward for keeping them.
God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection.
(2 Samuel 22:31)
The speech of the wise is a honeycomb of honey, and it is sweet to his soul and healing to his bones.
(Proverbs 16:24) Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 24:14)
A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash. (Proverbs 15:14)
There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay in its paths. (Job 24:13) Wicked people are deprived of their light, and an arm raised [in victory] is broken. (Job 38:15)
Consume them in Your wrath, consume them till they are no more. Then it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob.
For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride. For the curses and lies they utter
(Psalm 59:13, 12)
They scavenge for food but go to sleep unsatisfied. (Psalm 59:15)
They wander around, saying, ‘Where can I find bread?’ They know their day of destruction is near. (Job 15:23)
The earth staggers like a drunk. It trembles like a tent in a storm. It falls and will not rise again, for the guilt of its rebellion is very heavy. (Isaiah 24:20)
You have abandoned the LORD and forgotten My holy mountain.
You have prepared a table for the god of good fortune and offered cups full of spiced wine to the goddess of destiny. (Isaiah 65:11) Rebels and sinners will be crushed at the same time, and those who abandon the LORD will come to an end.
(Isaiah 1:28) Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men. (1 Corinthians 6:9)
He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (2 Thessalonians 1:8)
They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might. (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
Deliver Me from My Enemies, My God
They wander about for food And growl if they are not satisfied.
But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, For You have been my stronghold And a refuge in the day of my distress. O my strength, I will sing praises to You; For God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.
Better a bite of dry bread eaten in peace than a family feast filled with strife. (Proverbs 17:1)
Every day is a terrible day for a miserable person, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast. (Proverbs 15:15)
Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:6)
Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest. (Proverbs 16:8)
It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich. (Psalm 37:16)
Better to have little, with fear for the LORD, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil. (Proverbs 15:16)
A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough. (1 Timothy 6:6)
The Solution Is Life on God’s Terms
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
It is Written, “MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”
(Jesus, speaking in Matthew 4:4)
From Shadow To Reality
Give thanks to the Eternal because He is always good.
He never ceases to be loving and kind.
Let the people of Israel proclaim:
“He never ceases to be loving and kind.”
Let the priests of Aaron’s line proclaim:
“He never ceases to be loving and kind.”
Let the people who fear the Eternal proclaim:
“He never ceases to be loving and kind.”
When trouble surrounded me, I cried out to the Eternal;
He answered me and brought me to a wide, open space.
The Eternal is with me,
so I will not be afraid of anything.
If God is on my side, how can anyone hurt me?
The Eternal is on my side, a champion for my cause;
so when I look at those who hate me, victory will be in sight.
It is better to put your faith in the Eternal for your security
than to trust in people.
It is better to put your faith in Him for your security
than to trust in princes.
All these nations surround me, squeezing me from all sides;
with the name of the Eternal, I will destroy them.
They rose up against me, squeezed me from all sides, yes, from all sides;
with the name of the Eternal, I will destroy them.
They surrounded me like a swarm of bees;
they were destroyed quickly and thoroughly—
Flaring up like a pile of thorns—
with the name of the Eternal, I will destroy them.
I was pushed back, attacked so that I was about to fall,
but the Eternal was there to help me keep my balance.
He is my strength, and He is the reason I sing;
He has been there to save me in every situation.
In the tents of the righteous soldiers of God,
there are shouts of joy and victory. They sing:
“The right hand of the Eternal has shown His power.
The mighty arm of the Eternal is raised in victory;
the right hand of His has shown His power.”
I will not die. I will live.
I will live to tell about all the Eternal has done.
The Eternal has taught me many lessons;
He has been strict and severe,
but even in His discipline, He has not allowed me to die.
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.
A Time For THANKS
Psalm 1 sets the stage for the entire collection by explaining that the study of the Word of God is the foundation of a meaningful, prosperous life.
God’s blessings follow you and await you at every turn:
when you don’t follow the advice of those who delight in wicked schemes,
When you avoid sin’s highway,
when judgment and sarcasm beckon you, but you refuse.
For you, the Eternal’s Word is your happiness.
It is your focus—from dusk to dawn.
You are like a tree,
planted by flowing, cool streams of water that never run dry.
Your fruit ripens in its time;
your leaves never fade or curl in the summer sun.
No matter what you do, you prosper.
For those who focus on sin, the story is different.
They are like the fallen husk of wheat, tossed by an open wind, left deserted and alone.
In the end, the wicked will fall in judgment;
the guilty will be separated from the innocent.
Their road suddenly will end in death,
yet the journey of the righteous has been charted by the Eternal.
Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.
For on Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval. (John 6:27)
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.
The Song of the Vineyard
The vineyard of the Lord Almightyis the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines He delighted in.
This is what the Eternal has to say:
Eternal One: It’s like noticing the promise of new wine in a cluster of grapes.
One will say, “Don’t destroy them all; some of them are bound to be good.”
So for the sake of My servants,
I won’t destroy absolutely everyone.
But I will bring up children from Jacob’s line to inherit this land.
To Jacob’s son Judah I will give My mountains.
These, My chosen ones, will inherit it;
these, My servants, will live there and call it home.
From the plains of Sharon to the valley of Achor,
My people—who look to Me and no other—
Will have pasture for their sheep
and safe places for their herds.
But those of you who ignore Me, the Eternal One—
who turn away from My sanctuaries
And reject My holy mountain
to chase Lady Luck and cater to Destiny—
Will find yourselves a bit unlucky and your destiny an early death.
You’ll bow down and be killed like sheep brought to the slaughter
Because when I called you, you did not answer;
when I spoke, you refused to listen.
Instead you did all the wrong things and made terrible choices—
what I expressly said that I hate.
So this is what the Lord, the Eternal, has to say:
Eternal One: My servants will eat and eat well, while you go hungry;
My servants will drink and be satisfied, while you are parched with thirst;
My servants will celebrate with joy, while you are put to shame.
My servants will sing with gladness in their hearts,
While you cry out in anguish and despair and bemoan your brokenness.
And when you are gone, your name will become a curse—
a repugnant byword—to My chosen people;
The Eternal God will put you to death
and call His servants by a new name altogether.
Whoever speaks a blessing in this special land
will invoke the God of truth;
Whoever takes a vow in the land of promise
will make his pledge by the God of truth.
For the bitterness and pain of earlier times will nevermore come to mind;
they’ll be hidden even from My eyes, God says.
Eternal One: Now look here!
I am creating new heavens and a new earth.
The weary and painful past will be as if it never happened.
No one will talk or even think about it anymore.
So take joy and celebrate with unending gladness
on account of what I am creating.
Look carefully! I am making this place I’ve chosen, this Jerusalem, a city of joy.
I’m making her citizens, My people, a people of gladness.
This Jerusalem, My pride and joy, and her people will be a delight to Me.
Though you listen at every corner,
You will never hear crying, never hear despair or grief.
Never again will a person not live a full life,
for the young will live to be a hundred
And any who die earlier will be considered cursed.
People will confidently build houses and make them their homes;
they will plant vineyards and enjoy their fruit for years to come.
They won’t worry that someone else will come along, drive them out,
and take it all away.
For My people will live as long as these age-old trees;
My chosen will use up and wear out whatever they make.
They will not work hard for what others take away;
they will not lose children to sudden terror and death.
For they are the offspring of those blessed by the Eternal;
they and their descendants will enjoy God’s blessings.
I’ll anticipate their prayers and respond before they know it;
even as they speak, I will hear.
But they’ll all eat together like friends—wolf and lamb, lion and ox,
and the biting snake will feed on dust.
When that day arrives, there will be no evil, no violence, no hurt or wrong
in all My sacred mountain.