The undiminished radiance, which is the result of abundant joy, is not built on anything passing, but on the love of God that nothing can change. And the experiences of life, whether they are everyday events or terrifying ones, are powerless to “separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).—My Utmost For His Highest
“My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.” (John 18:36)
This Davidic psalm based on Genesis 1 celebrates not only God’s majesty as Creator but also the unique place of human beings in His creation.
O Eternal, our Lord,
Your majestic name is heard throughout the earth;
Your magnificent glory shines far above the skies.
From the mouths and souls of infants and toddlers, the most innocent,
You have decreed power to stop Your adversaries
and quash those who seek revenge.
When I gaze to the skies and meditate on Your creation—
on the moon, stars, and all You have made,
I can’t help but wonder why You care about mortals—
sons and daughters of men—
specks of dust floating about the cosmos.
But You placed the son of man just beneath God
and honored him like royalty, crowning him with glory and honor.
You ordained him to govern the works of Your hands,
to nurture the offspring of Your divine imagination;
You placed everything on earth beneath his feet:
All kinds of domesticated animals,
even the wild animals in the fields and forests,
The birds of the sky and the fish of the sea,
all the multitudes of living things that travel the currents of the oceans.
O Eternal, our Lord,
Your majestic name is heard throughout the earth.
The Coming of the Kingdom
Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said,
“The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’
For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” And He said to the disciples,
“The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.” (Luke 17:20-22)
People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!‘ Do not go running off after them.
He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. (Luke 21:8)
“It will seem like all hell has broken loose—sun, moon, stars, earth, sea, in an uproar
and everyone all over the world in a panic,
the wind knocked out of them by the threat of doom, the powers-that-be quaking.” (Luke 21:25-26)
There will be earth-shattering events—the heavens themselves will seem to be shaken with signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars. And across the earth the outsider nations will feel powerless and terrified in the face of a roaring flood of fear and foreboding, crashing like tidal waves upon them. “What’s happening to the world?” people will wonder.
The cosmic order will be destabilized.
And then, at that point, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and blazing glory.
So when the troubles begin, don’t be afraid.
Look up—raise your head high, because the truth is that your liberation is fast approaching.
For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels,
and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
The Vine and the Branches
“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
“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.
“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
“You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
And since Abraham and the other patriarchs were holy, their descendants will also be holy—just as the entire batch of dough is holy because the portion given as an offering is holy.
For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too.
The Lord spoke, saying: “By those who come nar Me I must be regarded as holy.”
See that you don’t turn away from the One who is speaking; for if the ones who heard and refused the One who spoke on earth faced punishment, then how much more will we suffer if we turn away from the One speaking from heaven—
Worldly wisdom may promise the good life, but it leads to chaos and destruction every time. Ultimately true wisdom comes from God.
Where do you think your fighting and endless conflict come from?
Don’t you think that they originate in the constant pursuit of gratification that rages inside each of you like an uncontrolled militia? You crave something that you do not possess, so you murder to get it.
You desire the things you cannot earn, so you sue others and fight for what you want.
You do not have because you have chosen not to ask.
And when you do ask, you still do not get what you want because your motives are all wrong—because you continually focus on self-indulgence. You are adulterers.
Don’t you know that making friends with this corrupt world order is open aggression toward God?
So anyone who aligns with this bogus world system is declaring war against the one true God.
Do you think it is empty rhetoric when the Scriptures say,
“The spirit that lives in us is addicted to envy and jealousy”?
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. Come close to the one true God, and He will draw close to you.
Wash your hands; you have dirtied them in sin.
Cleanse your heart, because your mind is split down the middle,
your love for God on one side and selfish pursuits on the other.
Since the beginning, our loving Creator has been pursuing us, drawing us closer to Him.
He invites us to move closer to Him so we can be fully His.
Now is the time to lament, to grieve, and to cry. Dissolve your laughter into sobbing, and exchange your joy for depression. Lay yourself bare, facedown to the ground, in humility before the Lord;
and He will lift your head so you can stand tall.
My brothers and sisters, do not assault each other with criticism.
If you decide your job is to accuse and judge another believer, then you are a self-appointed critic and judge of the law; if so, then you are no longer a doer of the law and subject to its rule; you stand over it as a judge.
Know this—there is One who stands supreme as Judge and Lawgiver.
He alone is able to save and to destroy, so who are you to step in and try to judge another?
Listen carefully, those of you who make your plans and say,
“We are traveling to this city in the next few days.
We’ll stay there for one year while our business explodes and revenue is up.”
The reality is you have no idea where your life will take you tomorrow.
You are like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another.
It would be best to say,
“If it is the Lord’s will and we live long enough, we hope to do this project or pursue that dream.”
But your current speech indicates an arrogance that does not acknowledge the One who controls the universe,
and this kind of big talking is the epitome of evil.
So if you know the right way to live and ignore it, it is sin—plain and simple.
Our Kingdom Cannot Be Shaken
Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking.
For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth,
much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.
And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying,
“YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.”
How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?
This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.
See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
(Hebrews 2:3; 12)
But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off.
And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in.
So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root.
Oneness and Peace in Christ
Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts.
In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus.
Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near.
Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.
A Temple for the Lord
So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people.
You are members of God’s family.
Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets.
And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.
We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.
Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.
All the trees of the forest will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. “‘I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.‘”
Without holiness, no one will see the Lord
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God!
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self,
which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self,
created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22–24)
But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy, and Jacob will possess his inheritance.
(Ezekiel 17:24: Obadiah 1:17)
“The LORD will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem’s inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah. (Zechariah 6:12; 12:7)
Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance,
which lives by itself in a forest, in fertile pasture lands. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in days long ago.
I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah those who will possess my mountains;
my chosen people will inherit them, and there will my servants live.
In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it– one from the house of David–
one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
(Isaiah 65:9; 16:5; 58:12)
The Restoration of Israel
“In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, And wall up its breaches;
I will also raise up its ruins And rebuild it as in the days of old;
That they may possess the remnant of Edom And all the nations who are called by My name,” Declares the LORD who does this.
Hated by the World
“If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me.
If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own.
But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you.
“When that happens, remember this: Servants don’t get better treatment than their masters.
If they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you. If they did what I told them, they will do what you tell them.
“They are going to do all these things to you because of the way they treated me,
because they don’t know the One who sent me.
If I hadn’t come and told them all this in plain language, it wouldn’t be so bad.
As it is, they have no excuse.
Hate me, hate my Father—it’s all the same.
If I hadn’t done what I have done among them, works no one has ever done, they wouldn’t be to blame.
But they saw the God-signs and hated anyway, both me and my Father.
Interesting—they have verified the truth of their own Scriptures where it is written, ‘They hated me for no good reason.’
“When the Friend I plan to send you from the Father comes—the Spirit of Truth issuing from the Father—
he will confirm everything about me.
You, too, from your side must give your confirming evidence, since you are in this with me from the start.”
Keep your eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of Faith!
“‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land.
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.
(Jeremiah 33:15; 23:5)
For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him,
and his resting place will be glorious.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
“‘Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch.
Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says:
‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD.”
(Micah 5:2; Zechariah 3:8; 6:12)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham
From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised.
(Matthew 1:1; Acts 13:23)
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples;
the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10)
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—
the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.” (Hebrews 13:15)
In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious,
and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel.
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.
I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
The Return of the Son of Man
“Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory.
The Root of Jesse
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
Behind and underneath all this there is a holy, God-planted, God-tended root.
If the primary root of the tree is holy, there’s bound to be some holy fruit.
Some of the tree’s branches were pruned and you wild olive shoots were grafted in.
Yet the fact that you are now fed by that rich and holy root gives you no cause to crow over the pruned branches. Remember, you aren’t feeding the root; the root is feeding you. (Romans 11:16-18)
To be “holy” means to be perfect, blameless in every way, totally beyond the created realm or human condition’s temporal limited comprehension. Out of sight is Out of mind.
The saying, “to err is human but to forgive, Divine” and “I’m only human” regards
the experience of natural man apart from God as fallen short of His glory. Prayerlessness
actually is arrogantly saying that we do not need God. Bloated egos puffed up with powerless
prideful sinful SELF, with no room for the supernatural life-giving, fruit-bearing power of the Eternal Almighty.
During the time of Jesus, John the Baptist wanders around Israel in the tradition of the Hebrew prophets warning the people that they need to correct their attitudes and behaviors, to bring them better in line with what God expects and desires. He declares (warns, actually) that God is coming and will set things right. During the circumstances of exile, the people don’t fully understand who or what this voice in the wilderness will be; centuries later, as the early Christian community looks back over the life of Jesus and John, they recognize the anonymous voice.
A voice says, “Declare!” But what shall I declare?
All life is like the grass. All of its grace and beauty fades like the wild flowers in a field.
The grass withers, the flower fades as the breath of the Eternal One blows away.
People are no different from grass. The grass withers, the flower fades;
nothing lasts except the word of our God. It will stand forever.
Don’t you know, haven’t you heard or even been told
from your earliest memories how the earth came to be?
Who else could have done it except God, enthroned high above the earth?
From such a vantage people seem like grasshoppers to Him.
Who else but God could stretch out the skies as if they were a curtain,
draw them tight, suspend them over our heads like the roof of a tent?
God reduces the rulers and judges,
the rich and powerful of the earth, to nothing;
They scarcely are planted, take root and start growing,
before God blows a withering breath,
And storm winds carry them away like chaff.
Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.
Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.
(Deuteronomy 4:39; 1 Chronicles 29:11-12)
Only God has the power to help or to overthrow
The God Who lives forever is your safe place. His arms are always under you.
He drove away from in front of you those who hate you, and said, ‘Destroy!’ (Deuteronomy 33:27)
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
(continuing with a parable) Look over there at that fig tree—and all the trees surrounding it.
When the leaves break out of their buds, nobody has to tell you that summer is approaching; it’s obvious to you.
It’s the same in the larger scheme of things.
When you see all these things happening, you can be confident that the kingdom of God is approaching.
I’m telling you the truth: this generation will not pass from the scene before everything I’m telling you has occurred. Heaven and earth will cease to exist before My words ever fail.
Psalms 113–118 comprise an important unit called the Hallel, which in Hebrew means “praise.”
Composed after the exile, these six psalms are recited together by observant Jews during some of the major holidays on the Jewish calendar. The Gospel writers tell us that Jesus and His disciples sang a song following their last meal together, which was the Passover (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26). That may have been the Hallel.
Praise the Eternal!
All of you who call yourselves the children of the Eternal, come and praise His name.
Lift Him high to the high place in your hearts.
At this moment, and for all the moments yet to come,
may the Eternal’s name ascend in the hearts of His people.
At every time and in every place—
from the moment the sun rises to the moment the sun sets—
may the name of the Eternal be high in the hearts of His people.
The Eternal is seated high above every nation.
His glory fills the skies.
To whom should we compare the Eternal, our God?
From His seat, high above,
He deigns to observe the earth and her thin skies,
stooping even to see her goings on, far beneath His feet.
He gathers up the poor from their dirt floors,
pulls the needy from the trash heaps,
And places them among heads of state,
seated next to the rulers of His people where they cannot be ignored.
Into the home of the childless bride,
He sends children who are, for her, a cause of happiness beyond measure.
Praise the Eternal!
So be careful. Guard your hearts.
They can be made heavy with moral laxity, with drunkenness, with the hassles of daily life.
Then the day I’ve been telling you about might catch you unaware and trap you.
Because it’s coming—nobody on earth will escape it.
So you have to stay alert,
praying that you’ll be able to escape the coming trials so you can stand tall in the presence of the Son of Man.
It is for this reason that I bow my knees before the Father,
after whom all families in heaven above and on earth below receive their names, and pray:
Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people.
Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts.
May love be the rich soil where their lives take root.
May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together with all of Your people they will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings. (Ephesians 3:14-19)