“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.
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)
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,
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,
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,
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)
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.”
“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.
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.
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)
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.
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)