“Because he holds fast to Me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows My name.”  (Psalm 91:14)Image

Arrested Development

I’m talking to you

 You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’

I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.

When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives His best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity.

Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”  (Matthew 5:43-48)

 Who the Son of God sets free is free to give just as he has received.  At some point we were all arrested in development.

Start speaking freedom and release the captivated ones from the enemy’s devices.  See them as Christ sees them–

Snared in the devil’s traps, unable to stand, let alone move.  Remember,  man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.  For it is in Him that we live, move and have our being. 

Freely you have RECEIVED

Now

Freely GIVE!

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 So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is—not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This “insider world” is not our home. We have our eyes peeled for the City about to come. Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name.  (Hebrews 13:13-15)

 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.  (Matthew 5:3-12)

The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away.  (Isaiah 50:5)

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” He said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”  (Mark 10:21)

The Attitude of Christ

…but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,

even death on a cross. (For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

(Galatians 3:13) 

So that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.

(Deuteronomy 21:23)

Christ Redeemed Us

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us– for it is written,

CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE “–

in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles,

so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  (Galatians 3:13-14)

For when God made a promise to Abraham, since He had no one greater by whom to swear, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.”  (Hebrews 6:13-14)

For this reason* also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.  (Philippians 2:7-9)

A desire fulfilled is a tree of life. 

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Christ’s bride reflects the desire of his heart,

I delight to do your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:8)

The crown of God’s creation is a new creature, a creature that can sound the heartbeat of its Creator.

That creature, made male and female, reflects God’s own relational richness.

The human family is to join God in the ongoing work of creation.

The earth below and the sky above with all their inhabitants are too beautiful and too good to be left alone.

They need the tender care and close attention that only God’s favored creature can give.

God’s intention for the world is this: “I will be your God, and you will be My people.”

This is fulfilled by those who are faithful to Him.

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

Eternal One: Tell My people about their wrongdoing;shout with a voice like a trumpet;
    Hold nothing back: say this people of Jacob’s line and heritagehave failed to do what is right.

And yet they look for Me every day.They pretend to want to learn what I teach,

As if they are indeed a nation good and true, as if they hadn’t really turned their backs on My directives.
    They even ask Me, as though they care,about what I want them to be and do, as if they really want Me in their lives.

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People: Why didn’t You notice how diligently we fasted before You?
        We humbled ourselves with pious practices and You paid no attention.

Eternal One: I have to tell you, on those fasting days,all you were really seeking was your own pleasure;
    Besides you were busy defrauding people and abusing your workers.
 Your kind of fasting is pointless, for it only leads to bitter quarrels,contentious backbiting, and vicious fighting.
    You are not fasting today because you want Me to hear your voice.
 What kind of a fast do I choose? Is a true fast simply
        some religious exercise for making a person feel miserable and woeful?
    Is it about how you bow your head (like a bent reed), how you dress (in sackcloth), and where you sit (in a bed of ashes)?
        Is this what you call a fast, a day the Eternal One finds good and proper?
 No, what I want in a fast is this:
        to liberate those tied down and held back by injustice,
        to lighten the load of those heavily burdened,
        to free the oppressed and shatter every type of oppression.
 A fast for Me involves sharing your food with people who have none,
        giving those who are homeless a space in your home,
    Giving clothes to those who need them, and not neglecting your own family.

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 Then, oh then, your light will break out like the warm, golden rays of a rising sun;
    in an instant, you will be healed.
Your rightness will precede and protect you;
    the glory of the Eternal will follow and defend you.
 Then when you do call out, “My God, Where are You?”
    The Eternal One will answer, “I am here, I am here.
If you remove the yoke of oppression from the downtrodden among you,
    stop accusing others, and do away with mean and inflammatory speech,
  If you make sure that the hungry and oppressed have all that they need,
    then your light will shine in the darkness,
And even your bleakest moments will be bright as a clear day.
  The Eternal One will never leave you;
    He will lead you in the way that you should go.
When you feel dried up and worthless,
    God will nourish you and give you strength.
And you will grow like a garden lovingly tended;
    you will be like a spring whose water never runs out.
 You will discover there are people among your own
    who can rebuild this broken-down city out of the ancient ruins;
You will firm up its ancient foundations.
    And all around, others will call you
“Repairer of Broken Down Walls” and “Rebuilder of Livable Streets.”

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Eternal One: If because of the Sabbath you set aside your own pursuits and pleasure,
        and you honor the Sabbath and sanctify that day by leaving it to and for the Eternal—
    If you speak of Sabbath-delight but avoid speaking idle words,
        and refuse to get caught up and busy with your interests and concerns
Then you will discover joy such as only the Eternal can give.
        And I will raise you high and make your reach as wide as the earth,
    And you will live on all that I promised to Jacob, your ancestor, the heart of Israel.

The Eternal One said these very things.

(Isaiah 58)

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 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.   Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”  (John 16:23-24)

Jesus Christ Has Overcome the World

 “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.   I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”

 

His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.”

 

 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?  Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.   These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” 

(John 16:25-33)

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Like the dearly beloved disciple who lay his head on Jesus’ breast–

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life”  (John 5:24)

Like Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet–

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5) 

Not like Martha (the sister of Mary) caught up in the distraction of busyness rather than being about the Father’s business–

The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”  (Luke 10:41-42)

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.

“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest ‘?

Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.”  (John 4:34-35)

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Like the woman who knelt in washing Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair–

Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.  (Proverbs 29:23)

But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

(James 4:6)

Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.

(Matthew 6:20)

Like the woman who broke and poured out all she was relying on in order to release her from reliance on things that are perishable subject to corruption or theft to place her reliance in the only One who is Faithful and True in Christ Jesus who is our Source and Supply!

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”  (Matthew 19:21)

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”  (Matthew 6:21)

“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple.”  (Luke 14:33)

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.  (Proverbs 4:23)

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act—

Like Ruth lying down in humbleness of heart trusting in Naomi’s counsel at Boaz’ feet.

Ruth lay down to signal her availability for marriage
What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. (Mark 10:9)
Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.  (Revelation 19:7)

[“When you see him slipping off to sleep, watch where he lies down and then go there. Lie at his feet to let him know that you are available to him for marriage. Then wait and see what he says. He’ll tell you what to do.” 

Ruth said, “If you say so, I’ll do it, just as you’ve told me.”
(Ruth 3:4b-5)]

She (Ruth) said, “I am Ruth, your maiden; take me under your protecting wing. You’re my close relative, you know, in the circle of covenant redeemers—you do have the right to marry me.”

 He (Boaz) said, God bless you, my dear daughter! What a splendid expression of love!” 

[“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

“You are My friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:13-14)]

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 Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.  (John 12:24-25)

Like Gideon who heeded the Word of the LORD doing as He said breaking open the jars

releasing the shining flames as arrows! 

Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?    the fruit of the womb His generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you; you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.  (Psalm 127:3-5)

[God said to him, “I’ll be with you. Believe Me, you’ll defeat Midian as one man.” (Judges 6:16)]

[That night, God told Gideon:Get up and go down to the camp. I’ve given it to you. If you have any doubts about going down, go down with Purah your armor bearer; when you hear what they’re saying, you’ll be bold and confident.”  (Judges 7:9a)]

Your wife will bear children as a vine bears grapes,  your household lush as a vineyard,
The children around your table as fresh and promising as young olive shoots.
Stand in awe of God’s Yes.    Oh, how He blesses the one who fears God!

(Psalm 128:3-4)

You’re blessed when you stay on course,walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow His directions,doing your best to find Him.
That’s right—you don’t go off on your own;  you walk straight along the road He set.
You, God, prescribed the right way to live;now You expect us to live it.
Oh, that my steps might be steady,keeping to the course You set;
Then I’d never have any regretsin comparing my life with Your counsel.
I thank You for speaking straight from your heart;I learn the pattern of Your righteous ways.
I’m going to do what You tell me to do;don’t ever walk off and leave me.

(Psalm 119:1-8)

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“I’ll take her as my wife and keep the name of the deceased alive along with his inheritance.

The memory and reputation of the deceased is not going to disappear out of this family

or from his hometown. To all this you are witnesses this very day.”  (Ruth 4:10)

Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

(Matthew 16:28-29)  For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels,

and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. 

Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Matthew 24:34)

ImageThus says the Lord:

“Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.

He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come.

He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.

He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:5-8)

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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.

(Psalm 1)

then complete my joy by having a common purpose and a common love, by being one in heart and mind.

Do nothing out of rivalry or vanity; but, in humility, regard each other as better than yourselves — 

look out for each other’s interests and not just for your own.  (Philippians 2:2-4)

My joy completed in them

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Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

(Ephesians 3:20-21)

 

The Silence of Expectation = A Song of Trust in God’s ProVision
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Our dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy,
For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.

Come, M people, enter into your rooms And close your doors behind you;
Hide for a little while Until indignation runs its course. 
Behold, the LORD is about to come out from His place
To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity;
And the earth will reveal her bloodshed And will no longer cover her slain.  (Isaiah 26:19-21)

Your dead will live. Their corpses will rise. Those who lie dead in the dust will wake up and shout for joy,

Because Your dew is a refreshing dew, and the earth will revive the spirits of the dead.

Elisha…went in, shut the door on the tow of them, and prayed to the Lord.  (2 Kings 4:32-33)

PUSH (Pray Until Something Happens)

From Transition to Pushing Stages ~ Birthing the Will of God

Usually birth is a private time
It’s messy business and we aren’t in the mood for chit chat, small talk or being sociable. 

Sometimes women get downright onery (ugly and unpleasant in disposition or temper)
and the old saying, “you always hurt the one you love” comes to mind as
they pour out their pain and discomfort on the support people present.

And so it is with God.

May the fevers of resentment, worry, fear and envy melt into NOTHING in the presence of Almighty God.  For flesh and blood can not inherit the kingdom of God so must all works of the flesh lay down in His presence in order to receive.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
(2 Corinthians 4:17)

Child-Like Trust in the Lord

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Jesus Victorious Christ is all Glorious, in Him is resident all authority, all fulness, all we need.

Elisha Raises the Shunammite’s Son

When Elisha came into the house, behold the lad was dead and laid on his bed.
So he entered and shut the door behind them both and prayed to the LORD.
And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth and his eyes on his eyes and his hands on his hands, and he stretched himself on him; and the flesh of the child became warm. (2 Kings 4:32-34)       

Beyond Your Ability

Spending Time With God Puts Everything Else Into Perspective       

God is God and I’m not. 
               
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:6)       
           
Enter In Through His Side Where Blood and Water Flows

Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning.
(Exodus 12:22)

Keys to the Kingdom

Tabitha

Peter went off on a mission to visit all the churches.
In the course of his travels he arrived in Lydda and met with the believers there.
He came across a man—his name was Aeneas—who had been in bed eight years paralyzed.

Peter said, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed!
And he did it—jumped right out of bed.
Everybody who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him walking around and WOKE UP
to the fact that God was alive and active among them.

Down the road a way in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, “Gazelle” in our language.

She was well-known for doing good and helping out.
During the time Peter was in the area she became sick and died.
Her friends prepared her body for burial and put her in a cool room.

Some of the disciples had heard that Peter was visiting in nearby Lydda and sent two men to ask if he would be so kind as to come over. Peter got right up and went with them.
They took him into the room where Tabitha’s body was laid out.
 Her old friends, most of them widows, were in the room mourning.
They showed Peter pieces of clothing the Gazelle had made while she was with them.

Peter put the widows all out of the room. He knelt and prayed.
Then he spoke directly to the body: “Tabitha, get up.”

She opened her eyes. When she saw Peter, she sat up.
He took her hand and helped her up.
Then he called in the believers and widows, and presented her to them alive.

When this became known all over Joppa, many put their trust in the Master.
Peter stayed on a long time in Joppa as a guest of Simon the Tanner.  (Acts 9:32-43)
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 TWO Were Healed through Faith

Then Jesus went by boat over to the other side of the sea. Many people gathered around Him.
He stayed by the sea-shore.

Jairus was one of the leaders of the Jewish place of worship.
As Jairus came to Jesus, he got down at His feet.
He cried out to Jesus and said,
My little daughter is almost dead.
Come and put Your hand on her that she may be healed and live.”
Jesus went with him. Many people followed and pushed around Jesus.

A woman had been sick for twelve years with a flow of blood.
She had suffered much because of having many doctors. She had spent all the money she had. She had received no help, but became worse.
She heard about Jesus and went among the people who were following Him.
She touched His coat.  or she said to herself, “If I can only touch His coat, I will be healed.” 
At once the flow of blood stopped. She felt in her body that she was healed of her sickness.

At the same time Jesus knew that power had gone from Him.
He turned and said to the people following Him, “Who touched My coat?
His followers said to Him, “You see the many people pushing on every side. Why do You ask, ‘Who touched My coat?’”
He looked around to see who had done it.
The woman was filled with fear when she knew what had happened to her.
She came and got down before Jesus and told Him the truth.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be free from your sickness.
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While Jesus spoke, men came from the house of the leader of the place of worship.
 They said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher anymore?
Jesus heard this.
He said to the leader of the Jewish place of worship, “Do not be afraid, just believe.”
He allowed no one to go with Him but Peter and James and John, the brother of James.
They came to the house where the leader of the place of worship lived.
Jesus found many people making much noise and crying.
He went in and asked them, “Why is there so much noise and crying? The girl is not dead. She is sleeping.

They laughed at Jesus. But He sent them all out of the room.
Then He took the girl’s father and mother and those who were with Him.
They went into the room where the girl was.
He took the girl by the hand and said, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!
At once the girl got up and walked. She was twelve years old.
They were very much surprised and wondered about it.
He spoke sharp words to them that they should not tell anyone.
He told them to give her something to eat. 
(Mark 5:21-43)

    God has glorified His servant, Jesus

It is His name—that is, by faith in His name—He is the author of life, who nailed our sin to the cross and laid its dead body and works in the grave from which He arose with healing in His wings.  The grave could not keep Him for He was sinless and He paid the price for our iniquity but God raised Him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.

Jesus Victorious Christ officiates as our Intercessor, which He now performs with deep sympathy.
As we connect with Him in prayers of faith, we know He hears and accepts our prayers. 
Christ covers our imperfections with the love of God which covers a multitude of sins.    
These prayers, in turn, produce  great changes upon earth.

All those who expect the Law to save them from the punishment of sin will be punished.
Because it is written,
Everyone who does not keep on doing all the things written in the Book of the Law will be punished.”
No one is made right with God by doing what the Law says.
For, “The man right with God will live by faith.” The Law does not use faith.
It says, “You must obey all the Law or you will die.”
Christ bought us with His blood and made us free from the Law.
In that way, the Law could not punish us. Christ did this by carrying the load and by being punished instead of us.

It is written, “Anyone who hangs on a cross is hated and punished.” 

Because of the price Christ Jesus paid, the good things that came to Abraham might come to the people who are not Jews. And by putting our trust in Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit He has promised.  (Galatians 3:10-14)

Those who would convey spiritual life to dead souls, must feel deeply for their case, and labor fervently in prayer for them. ~Matthew Henry~ …the  most powerful intercessions are those which are made with groanings that cannot be uttered. Let us well study what is shown of the frame of mind in which our prayers should be offered, and learn daily from Christ how to pray.
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This is what ought to be the normal practice of each of His followers.

Observe that the widow of one of the sons of the prophets so acted

when she was about to receive the miraculous supply of oil (2 Kings 4:4, 5).

Tap into prayer for God’s miracle working power.   
                  
When He arrived at the house of Jairus, He did not let anyone go in with Him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother.
(Luke 8:51)
           
            Trust in Christ, Not the Law

You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.

Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin?
Was it by working your heads off to please God?
Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness?
For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing?
It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!

Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with His own presence, His Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don’t these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God.

Is it not obvious to you that persons who put their trust in Christ (not persons who put their trust in the law!) are like Abraham: children of faith? It was all laid out beforehand in Scripture that God would set things right with non-Jews by faith. Scripture anticipated this in the promise to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed in you.

So those now who live by faith are blessed along with Abraham, who lived by faith—this is no new doctrine! And that means that anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure.

Scripture backs this up: “Utterly cursed is every person who fails to carry out every detail written in the Book of the law.”

The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.

Habakkuk had it right:The person who believes God, is set right by God—and that’s the real life.”

Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping, a fact observed in Scripture: “The one who does these things [rule-keeping] continues to live by them.”

Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into Himself.

Do you remember the Scripture that says, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”?

That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. And now, because of that, the air is cleared and we can see that Abraham’s blessing is present and available for non-Jews, too. We are all able to receive God’s life, His Spirit, in and with us by believing—just the way Abraham received it.

Can’t Hide Behind a Religious Mask

Steep Yourself in God-Reality

Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.  (Luke 12:32)

The World Is Not a Stage

Pray with Simplicity

“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God.

Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage.

The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace.

“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense.

This is your Father you are dealing with, and He knows better than you what you need.

With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
    as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
    Yes. Yes. Yes.

“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.

“When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.  (Matthew 6)

A Life of God-Worship, Or–

Where There’s A Will, There’s A Will

—God’s Will, His Way

The Spirit is given to lead and guide us into all truth as we walk in agreement with the Lord every step of the way home in alignment with His will. 

How can we escape if we neglect so great a Salvation?  He is made unto us all wisdom and as His children we are welcome for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom.  It is as a child comes in reliance and perseverance that we receive what we need.  We know that our Father knows best. 

This is the heart of David; not as Saul who when he was king forgot what it was to be small.
David knew his place was appointed by God and we have come to His kingdom for such a time as this. 
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People need the Lord for without a vision, people perish.
Faith comes by hearing; and hearing by the Word of God.
Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
When there is no vision, people cast off restraint but where sin abounds, grace super-abounds.
God is pouring out His Spirit on His servants the prophets delivering the Good News of the Ministry of His Son, Jesus the Christ who was manifest to destroy the works of the devil.

Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)

We must rely completely on God and persevere knowing He is our Source for all we truly ever really need.  We use whatever He places in our hands for His name’s sake and glory.  What is in your hand but the authority to speak in His name!
All of life is given as an invitation to grow closer to the Lord.

The power is on to receive and transmit LIFE.   
We plug into God through Communion in order to Communicate TRUTH.
Speak the Word that they may be healed and delivered.

Don’t run ahead of God – Where’s the power in that?

The Creator of All You Can See or Imagine

Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
    He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch His breath.
    And He knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
    gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
    young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
    They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
    they walk and don’t lag behind.
(Isaiah 40)

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He who takes refuge in the shelter of the Most High
    will be safe in the shadow of the Almighty.
He will say to the Eternal, “My shelter, my mighty fortress,
    my God, I place all my trust in You.”
For He will rescue you from the snares set by your enemies who entrap you
    and from deadly plagues.
Like a bird protecting its young, God will cover you with His feathers,
    will protect you under His great wings;
    His faithfulness will form a shield around you, a rock-solid wall to protect you.

Psalm 91 is a beautiful psalm of trust in God. But how does God take care of all His people, all at the same time? Well, keep reading because Psalm 91 is one of just a few places in Scripture that describe what we might call “guardian angels” (Exodus 23:20; Psalm 43:3). Though rare, these passages teach that God is not alone in maintaining and protecting His creation and His people. He has made a host of heavenly messengers ready to do His bidding, and His bidding is often to guard His people throughout their lives and protect them—sometimes from dangers they are not even aware of.

 You will not dread the terrors that haunt the night
    or enemy arrows that fly in the day
Or the plagues that lurk in darkness
    or the disasters that wreak havoc at noon.

A thousand may fall on your left,
    ten thousand may die on your right,
    but these horrors won’t come near you.
Only your eyes will witness
    the punishment that awaits the evil,
    but you will not suffer because of it.

For you made the Eternal your refuge,
    the Most High your only home.
No evil will come to you;
    plagues will be turned away at your door.

He will command His heavenly messengers to guard you,
    to keep you safe in every way.
They will hold you up in their hands
    so that you will not crash, or fall, or even graze your foot on a stone.[b]
You will walk on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the lion and the serpent underfoot.

“Because he clings to Me in love,
    I will rescue him from harm;
    I will set him above danger.
Because he has known Me by name,
He will call on Me, and I will answer.
    I’ll be with him through hard times;
    I’ll rescue him and grant him honor.
I’ll reward him with many good years on this earth
    and let him witness My salvation.”
(Psalm 91)
                        
Mercy Is God’s Glorious Triumphant Battle Cry!

Come, my people… into thy chambers. As when a storm comes, prudence counsels men to seek shelter (Exodus 9:19), so now the prophet advises his people to put themselves under cover during the coming tempest. His meaning, probably, is that they should retire into the privacy of communion with God, withdrawing from public affairs and the distractions of a worldly life. Shut thy doors about thee (comp. 2 Kings 4:33; Matthew 6:6).
For a little moment
(so in Isaiah 10:25; and again in Isaiah 54:7, 8).
God’s estimate of time, we must remember, is not as man’s
 (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8).        ~Pulpit Commentary

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God’s place is the mercy-seat; there He delights to be: when He punishes, He comes out of His place, for He has no pleasure in the death of sinners. But there is hardly any truth more frequently repeated in Scripture, than God’s determined purpose to punish the workers of iniquity. Let us keep close to the Lord, and separate from the world; and let us seek comfort in secret prayer. A day of vengeance is coming on the world, and before it comes we are to expect tribulation and suffering. But because the Christian looks for these things, shall he be restless and dismayed? No, let him repose himself in his God. Abiding in Him, the believer is safe. And let us wait patiently the fulfilling of God’s promises.
(Matthew Henry)           
   
A Promise of God’s Blessing

I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel; He will blossom like the lily, And he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon.  is shoots will sprout, And his beauty will be like the olive tree And his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon.  (Hosea 14:4-6)

For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
(Psalm 30:5)               

This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
(Ephesians 5:14)   

The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:13)  “The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up.    (1 Samuel 2:6)
 
All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before Him–

those who cannot keep themselves alive.        (Psalm 22:29)

This is what the LORD says to me:

“I will remain quiet and will look on from My dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.” (Isaiah 18:4)

He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove His people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.  (Isaiah 25:8)

A Time of Travail   
   
Do not hand over the life of Your dove to wild beasts; do not forget the lives of Your afflicted people forever.
(Psalm 74:19)
           
Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But My people do not know the requirements of the LORD.      (Jeremiah 8:7)
 
My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with Me.”
 
My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look! There he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice.  (SoS 2:10; 9)

The Bride’s Adoration

Behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone.  The flowers have already appeared in the land;

The time has arrived for pruning the vines, And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. 

The fig tree has ripened its figs, And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.

Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along!’
(SoS 1:11-13)

Your weeping shall suddenly be turned to wonderful joy when you see Me again.
It will be the same joy as that of a woman in labor when her child is born—

her anguish gives place to rapturous joy and the pain is forgotten.
You have sorrow now, but I will see you again and then you will rejoice; and no one can rob you of that joy.

At that time you won’t need to ask Me for anything, for you can go directly to the Father and ask Him, and He will give you what you ask for because you use My name.  You haven’t tried this before, but begin now. Ask, using My name, and you will receive, and your cup of joy will overflow.    (Zephaniah 3:21-24)   

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Song of Trust in God’s ProVision

We  were pregnant, we writhed in labor, We gave birth, as it seems, only to wind.
We could not accomplish deliverance for the earth, Nor were inhabitants of the world born. 
Our dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy,
For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.

Come, my people, enter into your rooms And close your doors behind you; Hide for a little while Until indignation runs its course.  (Isaiah 26:18-20)

Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.  (Matthew 5:12)
                                               
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  (Matthew 6:28)
My roots will reach to the water, and the dew will lie all night on my branches.    (Job 29:19)

You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land.  (Psalm 80:9)  The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon. 
(Psalm 92:12)

It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows His blessing,

even life forevermore.    (Psalm 133:3)

A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass.  (Proverbs 19:12)

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I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.  (SoS 2:1)

This Beautiful Place

Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted His people;

He has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared His holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.  (Isaiah 52:9-10)

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This is what the LORD says:

“Let My people go, so that they may worship Me.”  (Exodus 8:1)

                          This Beautiful PLACE                                            A PLACE to Worship   
 
                                                                     Wherever You Are    

The PLACE prepared for her in the wilderness.

                                                                              A Spillway

           Poured Out Worship                                     The Set Apart Ones                                Set me as a SEAL on your HEART

 

A love song. 

My heart overflows with a pleasing theme;

I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.  (Psalm 45:1)

The voice of One crying in the wilderness,

Prepare the way of the Lord

Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice. Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.  (Isaiah 32:1-2)

For Behold the King is Coming!

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!

The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; He has cleared away your enemies.

The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.  (Zephaniah 3:14-15)

 

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?

(Hebrews 13:6)

Protect me, God, for the only safety I know is found in the moments I seek You.  (Psalm 16:1)seal.Stay focused; do not lose sight of mercy and truth;
engrave them on a pendant, and hang it around your neck;
meditate on them so they are written upon your heart. (Proverbs 3:3) What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck.
(Proverbs 1:9) Proverbs 3:22
they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.
Proverbs 4:9
She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.”

“Don’t quit, even if it costs you your life. Stay there believing. I have a Life-Crown sized and ready for you.”    (Revelation 2:10) 

Stay focused; do not lose sight of mercy and truth;
    Engrave them on a pendant, and hang it around your neck;
    Meditate on them so they are written upon your heart. (Proverbs 3:3) 

What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck.
(Proverbs 1:9)                 
They will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.  (Proverbs 3:22)

She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.  (Proverbs 4:9)

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The woman fled into  the wilderness, where God had prepared a place of refuge and safety where she could find sustenance.(Revelation 12:6)

When the dragon realized he had been cast down to the earth, he pursued the mother of the male infant. 

In order to escape the serpent, she was given the two wings of the great eagle to fly deeper into the wilderness to her own special place where she would find sustenance for a time, and times, and half a time. 

Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a raging river that chased after the woman, trying to sweep her away in the flood. But the earth came to her rescue. It opened its gaping mouth and swallowed the river that spewed from the dragon’s mouth. As a result, the dragon was enraged at the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children—those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the testimony of Jesus.

And the dragon stood waiting on the sand of the seashore.  (Revelation 12: 13-18)

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Mercy TRIUMPHS over Justice (Judgment!)

The Scripture gives as a law, to love our neighbor as ourselves. This law is a royal law, it comes from the King of kings; and if Christians act unjustly, they are convicted by the law as transgressors.

So let us step boldly to the throne of grace, where we can find mercy and grace to help when we need it most.
(Hebrews 4:16)For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. (Psalm 84:11)

A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

But God deems it His glory and joy, to pardon and bless those who might justly be condemned at His tribunal; and His grace teaches those who partake of His mercy, to copy it in their conduct.

Mercy GLORIES against Judgement! It is a victory cry!

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You have TURNED my mourning into JOY.
Given me beauty for ashes…a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness.

You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. (SoS 4:9)

Hungry and Thirsty for the King’s Love

How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume more than any spice! (SOS 4:10

Some trust in horses Some trust in chariots I will TRUST in the NAME of the Lord God of Israel
See the NAME is His Authority for us to speak and act and represent Him on earth as it is in heaven. We are His.

Deep Calls Unto Deep

You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.
(SoS 4:12)

I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk. Friends Eat, friends, and drink; drink your fill of love. (SoS 5:1)

I slept but my heart was awake. Listen! My beloved is knocking: “Open to me, my sister, my darling, my dove, my flawless one. My head is drenched with dew, my hair with the dampness of the night.” (SoS 5:2)

I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck/
(Ezekiel 16:11)
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Your song is with me ALL through the night

Still You command Your loving-kindness in the morning.

For He Alone Is Worthy

Those who cling to worthLESS idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. ~Jonah 2:8
The Lord knows those who belong to Him,” and “
Whoever worships the Lord must give up doing wrong.”

In a large house there are not only objects made of gold and silver,
but also those made of wood and clay.
Some objects are honored when they are used; others aren’t.
Those who stop associating with dishonorable people will be honored.
They will be set apart for the master’s use, prepared to do good things. (2 Tim 2:19-21)

Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. ~John 8:35-36

Repent and believe that anything is possible when we cling to Christ.
Call on His name Jesus Christ and find refuge in His armb2919fd7ee757a5fa70c4e2dd9805178

As Ruth who left behind her home, family and nation
to follow the Holy One of Israel clinging to her mother in law.
Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.

As the woman with the alabaster box.
As David’s three mighty men who risked their lives
to fetch him water from the well in Bethlehem.
As Elisha who slew his team of twelve oxen and broke up their yoke
to use as kindling for a feast to follow the Holy One of Israel with Elijah the Prophet.

Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky.
Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. (Psalm 85:9-12)

 The Spirit and the Bride:  Come. And let everyone who hears these words say, “Come.” And let those who thirst come. All who desire to drink, let them take and drink freely from the water of life.


The Spirit and the Bride: Come.
And let everyone who hears these words say, “Come.”
And let those who thirst come.
All who desire to drink, let them take and drink freely from the water of life.

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Rabbi, we know it is from God that you have come as a teacher;

for no one can do these miracles you perform unless God is with him.”  (John 3:2)

God’s Mercies

O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer.

He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.

Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression,

He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher.

Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. 

(Isaiah 30:19-21) 

Yeshua said to him, “I AM THE LIVING GOD, The Way and The Truth and The Life;

no man comes to My Father but by Me alone.”  (John 4:6)

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And He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father– to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS,

and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.

I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”  (Revelation 1:6-8)

 

 

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)Image

 

Don’t quit, even if it costs you your life. Stay there believing. I have a Life-Crown sized and ready for you.”

(Revelation 2:10) 

See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice.  (Isaiah 32:1)

Before Me no god was formed, nor will there be one after Me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from Me there is no Savior.

I have Revealed and Saved and Proclaimed–I, and not some foreign god among you (Isa. 43:10-11).

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, of all deceit, hypocrisy and envy, and of all the ways there are of speaking against people;  

And be like newborn babies, thirsty for the pure milk of the Word;

So that by It, you may grow up into deliverance. For you have tasted that Adonai is good. 

As you come to Him, the Living Stone, rejected by people but chosen by God and precious to Him, 

you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be cohanim set apart for God to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Him through Yeshua the Messiah.

This is why the Tanakh says,

Look! I am laying in Tziyon a stone,
a chosen and precious cornerstone;
and whoever rests his trust on it
will certainly not be humiliated. 

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Now to you who keep trusting, He is precious. But to those who are not trusting,

“The very stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone”; 

also He is

a stone that will make people stumble,
a rock over which they will trip.

They are stumbling at the Word, disobeying it — as had been planned. 

But you are a chosen people,the King’s cohanim,  a holy nation, a people for God to possess!

Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 

Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people;

before, you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and temporary residentsnot to give in to the desires of your old nature, which keep warring against you;  but to live such good lives among the pagans that even though they now speak against you as evil-doers, they will, as a result of seeing your good actions, give glory to God on the Day of His coming. For the sake of the Lord, submit yourselves to every human authority — whether to the emperor as being supreme, or to governors as being sent by Him to punish wrongdoers and praise those who do what is good.  

For it is God’s will that your doing good should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 

Submit as people who are free, but not letting your freedom serve as an excuse for evil; rather, submit as God’s slaves. 

Be respectful to all — keep loving the brotherhood, fearing God and honoring the emperor.

 Household servants, submit yourselves to your masters, showing them full respect —

and not only those who are kind and considerate, but also those who are harsh.  

For it is a grace when someone, because he is mindful of God, bears up under the pain of undeserved punishment. 

For what credit is there in bearing up under a beating you deserve for doing something wrong?

But if you bear up under punishment, even though you have done what is right, God looks on it with favor. 

Indeed, this is what you were called to; because the Messiah too suffered, on your behalf, leaving an example so that you should follow in His steps.

He committed no sin, nor was any deceit found on His lips.” 

When He was insulted, He didn’t retaliate with insults;

when He suffered, He didn’t threaten, but handed them over to Him who judges justly.

 He Himself bore our sinsin His body on the stake,so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness

by His wounds you were healed. 

For you used to be like sheep gone astray, but now you have turned to  the Shepherd, who watches over you.  (1 Peter 2)

For the LORD is our Judge, the LORD is our Lawgiver, the LORD is our King; it is He who will Save us.  (Isaiah 33:22)

Thus says the LORD:

Heaven is my throne, and the earth is My footstool;

what is the house that you would build for Me, and what is the place of My rest?”  (Isaiah 66:1)

And in Mercy shall the Throne be Established: and He shall Sit on it in Truth in the Tabernacle of David, Judging, and Seeking Judgment, and Hastening Righteousness.  (Isaiah 16:5)  Behold, I have given Him for a Witness to the peoples, a Captain and Teacher to the peoples.  (Isaiah 55:4) 

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These are indeed difficult days for the New Jerusalem’s key citizens; their captured loved ones tore the nation apart.

But God has not forgotten those in exile. It is during this period of separation that God writes a love letter to those who were taken to this foreign land.

It is through His servants, the prophets that God is able to communicate with those still held captive in Babylon.

God’s message to them is the same as to those remaining in His Word: do not revolt against Babylon, for this season of judgment will be longer than others are telling you.

In the midst of the struggle, He calls those who are far from home to trust God and His timing

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God’s Word is No Empty Promise

Oh, thank God—He’s so good!
    His love never runs out.
All of you set free by God, tell the world!
    Tell how He freed you from oppression,
Then rounded you up from all over the place,
    from the four winds, from the seven seas.

 Some of you wandered for years in the desert,
    looking but not finding a good place to live,
Half-starved and parched with thirst,
    staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion.
Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God.
    He got you out in the nick of time;
He put your feet on a wonderful road
    that took you straight to a good place to live.
So thank God for His marvelous love,
    for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
He poured great draughts of water down parched throats;
    the starved and hungry got plenty to eat.

Some of you were locked in a dark cell,
    cruelly confined behind bars,
Punished for defying God’s Word,
    for turning your back on the High God’s counsel—
A hard sentence, and your hearts so heavy,
    and not a soul in sight to help.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
    He got you out in the nick of time.
He led you out of your dark, dark cell,
    broke open the jail and led you out.
So thank God for His marvelous love,
    for His miracle mercy to the children he loves;
He shattered the heavy jailhouse doors,
    He snapped the prison bars like matchsticks!

Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life,
    your bodies feeling the effects of your sin;
You couldn’t stand the sight of food,
    so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
    He got you out in the nick of time.
He spoke the word that healed you,
    that pulled you back from the brink of death.
So thank God for His marvelous love,
    for His miracle mercy to the children He loves;
Offer thanksgiving sacrifices,
    tell the world what He’s done—sing it out!

Some of you set sail in big ships;
    you put to sea to do business in faraway ports.
Out at sea you saw God in action,
    saw His breathtaking ways with the ocean:
With a word He called up the wind—
    an ocean storm, towering waves!
You shot high in the sky, then the bottom dropped out;
    your hearts were stuck in your throats.
You were spun like a top, you reeled like a drunk,
    you didn’t know which end was up.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
    He got you out in the nick of time.
He quieted the wind down to a whisper,
    put a muzzle on all the big waves.
And you were so glad when the storm died down,
    and He led you safely back to harbor.
So thank God for His marvelous love,
    for His miracle mercy to the children He loves.
Lift high your praises when the people assemble,
    shout Hallelujah when the elders meet!

God turned rivers into wasteland,
    springs of water into sunbaked mud;
Luscious orchards became alkali flats
    because of the evil of the people who lived there.
Then He changed wasteland into fresh pools of water,
    arid earth into springs of water,
Brought in the hungry and settled them there;
    they moved in—what a great place to live!
They sowed the fields, they planted vineyards,
    they reaped a bountiful harvest.
He blessed them and they prospered greatly;
    their herds of cattle never decreased.
But abuse and evil and trouble declined
    as He heaped scorn on princes and sent them away.
He gave the poor a safe place to live,
    treated their clans like well-cared-for sheep.

Good people see this and are glad;
    bad people are speechless, stopped in their tracks.
If you are really wise, you’ll think this over—
    it’s time you appreciated God’s deep love.

(Psalm 107)

The Songs for the Journey to Worship (Psalm 120–134) are composed for use by God’s people as they traveled from their homes up to Zion to worship God at the temple. Representing their time in exile are songs of lament, heartbreaking testimonies to individuals’ pain when they are crushed by their enemies and separated from God’s blessings.

Finally, Book Five concludes the collection by offering praise and thanks to God, for the story of Israel does not end with its exile and separation; rather, it ends in restoration and hope. Those who edited and compiled the Book of Psalms were relieved to be back in the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—rebuilding their temple and reestablishing their connection with God.

The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this,

both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders.

He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance.

He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped.

Then He started over.

Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion,

He created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody.

Christ brought us together through His death on the cross.

The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility.

Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders.

He treated us as equals, and so made us equals.

Through Him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.

That’s plain enough, isn’t it?

You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country.

You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone.

Listen to His Name Echoing in the Halls of your Heart!

ImageThe creation the prophet sees—the new earth—is radically different from the one everyone knows. At some deep level, everyone recognizes that the everyday world is not the world as God intends it; things are not the way they are supposed to be. But God will make everything new again. In that day, the painful past will recede and vanish. Unbridled joy and celebration will eclipse grief and sorrow. Jerusalem, the holy city, will become the center of the world. Long lives will be the norm. Peace will be secure without exception. God’s blessing will settle over all creation. Creation itself, with all its complexities, will be made new. No predator. No prey. Just peace and harmony throughout. This is a world only God can create when He creates it anew.

God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what He is building.

He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation.

Now He’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.  (Ephesians 2:14-22)

Or, to put it another way, you are God’s house.

Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls.
Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation!
Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ.
Take particular care in picking out your building materials.
Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out.
The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing.
If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over.
But you won’t be torn out; you’ll survive—but just barely.  (1 Corinthians 3:9-15)

ImageI’ll give him the key of the Davidic heritage. He’ll have the run of the place—open any door and keep it open, lock any door and keep it locked. I’ll pound him like a nail into a solid wall. He’ll secure the Davidic tradition. Everything will hang on him—not only the fate of Davidic descendants but also the detailed daily operations of the house, including cups and cutlery.

And then the Day will come,” says God-of-the-Angel-Armies, “when that nail will come loose and fall out, break loose from that solid wall—and everything hanging on it will go with it.That’s what will happen. God says so.  (Isaiah 22:21:25)

Jesus:   You know neither God’s Scriptures nor God’s power—and so your assumptions are all wrong. At the resurrection, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage. They will be like the messengers of heaven.

In heaven all will be devoting themselves to praise. It will not be a simple continuation of life on earth.

 A key to this resurrected life can be found in the words of Moses, which you do claim to read:

I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” 

Our God is not the God of the dead. He is the God of the living.

And again the crowd was amazed. They were astonished at His teaching.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, a group of Pharisees met to consider new questions that might trip up Jesus

A legal expert thought of one that would certainly stump Him.

Pharisees:   Teacher, of all the laws, which commandment is the greatest?

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’

This is the most important, the first on any list.

But there is a second to set alongside it:

‘Love others as well as you love yourself.

These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

(Matthew 22:29-40)

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Completing God’s Law

 “Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets.

I’m not here to demolish but to complete.

I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama.

God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet.

Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.

 “Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself.

But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom.

Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.”

(Matthew 5:17-20)

 Jesus said,

“I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave.
A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will.
 
The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house.
 
So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.
 
I know you are Abraham’s descendants.
 
But I also know that you are trying to kill Me because My message hasn’t yet penetrated your thick skulls.
 
I’m talking about things I have seen while keeping company with the Father,
and you just go on doing what you have heard from your father.”  (John 8:34-38)
 

A Son Sees With the Eyes of Faith

 
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 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look.

We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know.

We certainly don’t look at Him that way anymore.

Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new.

The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!

Look at it!

All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and Him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with Himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what He is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives.

God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences

and enter into God’s work of making things right between them.

We’re speaking for Christ Himself now: Become friends with God; He’s already a friend with you

(2 Corinthians 5:16-20)

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Faith Translates Us To Being a God-Pleaser!

 War broke out in Heaven. Michael and his Angels fought the Dragon. The Dragon and his Angels fought back, but were no match for Michael. They were cleared out of Heaven, not a sign of them left. The great Dragon—ancient Serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, the one who led the whole earth astray—thrown out, and all his Angels thrown out with him, thrown down to earth. Then I heard a strong voice out of Heaven saying,

Salvation and power are established!
    Kingdom of our God, authority of his Messiah!
The Accuser of our brothers and sisters thrown out,
    who accused them day and night before God.
They defeated him through the blood of the Lamb
    and the bold word of their witness.
They weren’t in love with themselves;
    they were willing to die for Christ.
So rejoice, O Heavens, and all who live there,
    but doom to earth and sea,
For the Devil’s come down on you with both feet;
    he’s had a great fall;
He’s wild and raging with anger;
    he hasn’t much time and he knows it.

(Revelation 12:7-12)

Keep on trusting even until death 

All these people kept on trusting until they died, without receiving what had been promised.

They had only seen it and welcomed it from a distance,

while acknowledging that they were aliens and temporary residents on the earth. 

For people who speak this way make it clear that they are looking for a fatherland. 

Now if they were to keep recalling the one they left, they would have an opportunity to return; 

but as it is, they aspire to a better fatherland, a heavenly one.

This is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.  (Hebrews 11:13-16)

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To Philadelphia

 Write this to Philadelphia, to the Angel of the church. The Holy, the True—David’s key in his hand, opening doors no one can lock, locking doors no one can open—speaks:

 “I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough.

 “And watch as I take those who call themselves true believers but are nothing of the kind, pretenders whose true membership is in the club of Satan—watch as I strip off their pretensions and they’re forced to acknowledge it’s you that I’ve loved.

 “Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I’ll keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth, every man, woman, and child put to the test.

 “I’m on my way; I’ll be there soon. Keep a tight grip on what you have so no one distracts you and steals your crown.

 “I’ll make each conqueror a pillar in the sanctuary of my God, a permanent position of honor. Then I’ll write names on you, the pillars: the Name of my God, the Name of God’s City—the new Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven—and my new Name.

 “Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.”

(Revelation 3:7 -13)

Judgment and HopeThis is what the LORD says:

“Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where is the house you will build for Me?”

  What man-made space could provide Me a resting place?
Everything is the product of My hand—My being and My doing—
        that’s how all you see came to be; I made it all.
    Nevertheless, I am interested in and concerned about even just one person
        who is humble and downhearted and trembles at My Word.

(Isaiah 66:1-2)

If we could see things as they truly are, we’d see the universe as one giant temple founded and perfected by God’s hand.

But even the universe with its staggering dimensions—dimensions that stretch the imagination—cannot contain its Maker.

God is greater still.

So how could some house made for Him on earth ever be grand enough, glorious enough, great enough?

It could not; but with all His greatness and power, God still has His eye on us.

What does God want from us if not the best building we can build,

and also the most and best sacrifices and rituals that we can possibly perform?

Simply put, God is looking for people who are humble, broken, and ready to follow what He says. 

Jesus is the All-Sufficient Sacrifice So Freely Given–Christ is the Altar and the Sacrifice that Forever Alters IF we Accept!

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The Wilderness is My Classroom

Look at My Son, study how He did it.  He gave it all for you to be with Me and He gave you His Promised Holy Spirit

as a Seal of My Endorsement, ensuring that I will never leave or forsake you.  The Spirit is given to lead and guide

you into all Truth every step of the Way back Home to me in His Love.  This is my Word to you.  Do not merely listen

to the Word and fail to do it–but do as He says and it will be well with you.  Your obedience is living worship, a

sweet-smelling fragrant offering that is well-pleasing in My sight. 

God desires to bring people like these close and make them safe, but He cannot if they refuse.

His loving purpose is for them to live well, to be well, but He cannot make it so if they choose badly and do what He hates.

So, if you are one who trembles at His word,listen closely to what the Eternal One has to say:

Eternal One: I know that some people, even your own family,
        reject you because you accept Me,
    And they’re saying, “Let the Eternal receive the honor He deserves,
        so that we, too, can know your joy.” But they’ll only know sorrow and shame.
Can you hear it? There’s a commotion in the city,
        great rumbling coming from the temple area!
    Ah, it is the Eternal thundering in to take on His foes.

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Have you ever heard of a woman who gave birth before she went into labor?
        Have you ever seen a woman who delivered a son without feeling a thing?
    Do you think it’s possible for the land to go through labor in an instant,
        or to bear a nation, to be new and strong, in a single day?
    Nevertheless, Zion suffered only a moment
        before she gave birth to her children!
Will I open the womb and not deliver?
        I have made this place labor in terrible pain,
    But do you think I won’t help it give birth?
        That is what I, the Eternal One have to say.

The prophet reflects on the mystery of birth.

Jerusalem, the mother, is about to give birth to a new nation.

God, the midwife, is there to make sure the birth goes well.

Throughout Isaiah’s prophecy it is clear that God has initiated all the things that have happened to Israel and Judah.

The destruction of Jerusalem and her glorious temple,

the decades of exile in a foreign land, and now the return and restoration of Jerusalem are God’s work, pure and simple.

Now all of these events and judgments point to a single moment when Jerusalem will resume its place as God’s chosen city and will open its gates to believing pilgrims. The prophet asks: will God prevent this new birth from happening?

After having brought His people this far, it is unthinkable that God would turn back now.

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Eternal One: So be happy for Jerusalem;
        give her hearty congratulations, whoever holds her dear.
    Take part in this joyous celebration, especially if you remember her grief.
For you are her children, and she is giving you the milk of comfort and peace.
        Drink at her comforting breasts with satisfaction that all will be well.
I will rain down prosperity on Jerusalem, peace abundant on Zion,
        and flood her with wealth from all over the world.
    Like a thundering river, the riches will come down.
        Like a toddler, you’ll be held, carried, nourished, and comforted.
As a mother soothes her child, so I will comfort you.
        And Jerusalem will be so nice, feel so good and safe to you.
When you see what I have in store, it will ease your mind and lift your heart;
        you will flourish like the grass!

Now is the time for Jerusalem to rejoice.

Mourning the fate of Israel and Judah has been a Jewish preoccupation for a long time.

Ever since Assyria came down and took the northern territory captive, the people have been grief-stricken.

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But now that God has announced the Good News,

Mourning is no longer appropriate; it indicates a lack of faith in His plans.

After enduring so many years of grief and desolation,

can God’s covenant people now turn and trust Him to deliver this baby overnight?

Trust and joy belong together.

Zion is like a fertile young woman; she will have all the children that God wills and she desires.

Be happy, the prophet says, and let the celebrations begin.

The Eternal’s power will be clearly evident to His servants;
    but His rage will be unleashed against His enemies.

Look now, the Eternal is coming with a vengeance
    that scorches all His foes with flames of fire;
Whooshing like a whirlwind, His chariots rush with punishing fury.
God comes with fiery anger and flashing sword.
    The Eternal One will execute His judgment,
And many people will die on that day.

Eternal One: Those who perform sanctifying and purifying rituals to serve false gods in gardens, and then proceed to do whatever they see the leader do—eating impure things such as pigs, snakes, and rats—won’t live to do it again.

This is My word to you.

Because I know what and why they do what they do,

The time is coming when I will bring people together from all over the world.

Everyone will come here and have a chance to see and know who I am, in all My weighty significance and splendor. 

I will put a sign among them and send the survivors of My people to Tarshish, Put, and Lud (where those great archers live), from Tubal east of Lud, and Javan, which is near it.

I’ll bring them here from places so far away that they’ve never heard My name, much less had a chance to see My glory.

But they’ll hear about Me, far and wide among the nations. 

And they will bring the surviving members of your family back as if they are a grain offering from all the nations.

They’ll come by every conceivable means—on horse, camel, donkey, or mule, in wagons or litters—they’ll come to Jerusalem,

My holy mountain.

They will be delivered just as the Israelites bring their grain offerings to Me in a clean container at the temple. 

And out of those who return, I will make priests and Levites.

This is My word to you.

 Because just as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making
        will go on by My enduring will,
    So your name and the people
        who come from you will go on as well.
 From one month to the next, on Sabbath after Sabbath,
        everyone, every living thing, will come to this holy place
    To honor Me as God of all.
        This is My word to you.
They’ll visit the site where the people who rejected Me lie rotting on the ground,
        crawling with worms that never die on a fire that just keeps smoldering.
    All who see it will recoil at the horrible sight.

(Isaiah 66:3-24)

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 “For when I give the order,
I will shake the house of Isra’el,
there among all the Goyim,
as one shakes with a sieve,
letting no grain fall to the ground.
 All the sinners among my people
who say, ‘Disaster will never overtake us
or confront us,’ will die by the sword.

 “When that day comes, I will raise up
the fallen sukkah of David.
I will close up its gaps, raise up its ruins
and rebuild it as it used to be,

(Amos 9:9-11)

And He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.  (Luke 1:33)

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

9:1-10 The prophet, in vision, saw the Lord standing upon the idolatrous altar at Bethel. Wherever sinners flee from God’s justice, it will overtake them. Those whom God brings to heaven by his grace, shall never be cast down; but those who seek to climb thither by vain confidence in themselves, will be cast down and filled with shame. That which makes escape impossible and ruin sure, is, that God will set his eyes upon them for evil, not for good. Wretched must those be on whom the Lord looks for evil, and not for good. The Lord would scatter the Jews, and visit them with calamities, as the corn is shaken in a sieve; but he would save some from among them. The astonishing preservation of the Jews as a distinct people, seems here foretold. If professors make themselves like the world, God will level them with the world. The sinners who thus flatter themselves, shall find that their profession will not protect them.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 9.For, lo! He explains how and why the whole nation is not destroyed. I will sift. Israel is to be dispersed among the nations, tried and winnowed among them by affliction and persecution, that the evil may fall to the ground and perish, and the good be preserved. The word rendered “sift” implies “to shake to and fro;” and this shaking shall show who are the true Israelites and who are the false, who retain their faith and cleave to the Lord under all difficulties, and who lose their hold of true religion and assimilate themselves to the heathen among whom they dwell. These last shall not return from captivity. The least grain; Hebrew, tseror, “pebble;” so the Vulgate, lapillus; Septuagint, σύντριμμα,” fragment.” It is used in 2 Samuel 17:13 of small stones in a building; here as hard grain in distinction from loose chaff (Keil). The solid grain, the good wheat, are the righteous, who, when the chaff and dust are cast away, are stored in the heavenly garner, prove themselves of the election, and inherit the promises (comp. Isaiah 6:13; Ezekiel 20:38; Matthew 3:12). Fall upon the earth; i.e. perish, be lost (1 Samuel 26:20).

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Thanksgiving Parade

Thanksgiving for Victory   
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Faith, is the Advance  knowing that God brings the victory.   http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20chronicles%2020:14-30&version=MSG  (See 2 Chronicles 20:14-30)

We endure, seeing that His praise precedes, His presence presides and His glory is our Rear Guard!

 Certainly Your faithful protection and loving provision will pursue me
    where I go, always, everywhere.
I will always be with the Eternal,
    in Your house forever.  (Psalm 23:6)

Great sufferings prepares the heart, paving the way for Great Joy!

But I have prayed for you. I have prayed that your faith will hold firm and that you will recover from your failure and become a source of strength for your brothers here.  (Luke 22:32)

It is through the prayers of Christ, that the elect do never utterly fall away from the faith: and that for this cause, that they should stir up one another.

I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in Me
Because of them and their witness about Me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in Me and I in You,
So they might be one heart and mind with Us.
Then the world might believe that You, in fact, sent Me.
The same glory You gave Me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as We are—
I in them and You in Me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That You’ve sent Me and loved them
In the same way You’ve loved Me.
(John 17:20-23)       
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For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.  (2 Peter 2:21)

There is no RETREAT in battle.  We must go forward knowing that God is with us and the battle belongs to the LORD. 

Those that come to God must believe that He is and that He is a REWARDER of those that diligently seek Him. 

But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.  (Hebrews 10:39)

Years ago the Lord had walked me through a great victory over the “ups and downs” that was what I used to call, “life.” 

He walked me through and brought me out

Recently though, the battle has escalated and I referred to it as a “roller coaster ride” yet I am not going to let what
seems, feels, appears LIKE. distance me from God.  I choose to follow the Lord my Shepherd, knowing full well (in advance) that my spiritual domain parallels my physical hiking in the natural.
My life as well as the territory God has appointed me to is full of hills and valleys and yet the
same Jesus who reveals Himself in glorious mountaintop retreats is the same Jesus who drives out demons in the valley. 

There is peace (shalom) far beyond all human intellect, reason, understanding or emotion where Jesus is. 

He promises to never leave or forsake me and I choose to follow the leading of His Holy Spirit for only He is my nourishment, my righteousness.  I am not my own “watering hole” or “food bank” and there is only One Holy Blood Bank, the Lord Himself!  Forgive me for my sin of self-reliance and trust in man and Savior like a Shepherd lead and guide me every step of the way home to the Father in You.  Amen.

I can do all things THROUGH Christ who STRENGTHENS me.   

Faith that overcomes is the faith that endures as seeing the Victorious One. 

Those who are victorious will sit with Me on My throne, just as I was victorious and sat with My Father on His throne.  (Revelation 3:21)

Eternal One (to the people): Stand at the crossing, and consider the ancient path,
        for it is good and it leads to Me.
    Walk on this path, and you will find rest for your souls.  (Jeremiah 6:16a)

Those of us who follow Jesus today come to know Him as that gentle but strong shepherd who guides us through life if we will follow Him.

The Eternal is my shepherd, He cares for me always.
He provides me rest in rich, green fields
    beside streams of refreshing water.
    He soothes my fears;
He makes me whole again,
    steering me off worn, hard paths
    to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name
(Psalm 23:1-3)

He ·gives me new strength (renews my soul).    Psalm 23:3

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  (Psalm 51:10)

In spite of my self, my human limitations, I want to follow Your way, oh Lord my God.  I pray that I may learn that trying to do Your will is PERFECT freedom.  Amen.

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In sanctification, the one who has been born again deliberately gives up his right to himself to Jesus Christ, and identifies himself entirely with God’s ministry to others.
(My Utmost For His Highest)

Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.   Put My yoke upon your shoulders—it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest.   For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.  (Matthew 11:28-30)

·Thank [Praise] the Lord because He is good.
    His ·love [loyalty] ·continues [endures] forever.
Let Israel say,
    “His ·love [loyalty] ·continues [endures] forever.”
Let the ·family [ house] of Aaron [the priests] say,
    “His ·love [loyalty] ·continues [endures] forever.”
Let those who ·respect [fear] the Lord [Prov. 1:7] say,        

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    “His ·love [loyalty] ·continues [endures] forever.”

I was in ·trouble [distress], so I ·called [prayed] to the Lord.
    The Lord answered me and set me ·free [ in a broad place].
I will not ·be afraid [fear], because the Lord is with me [Rom. 8:31].
    ·People can’t do anything [What can people do…?] to me [Heb. 13:6].
The Lord is with me to help me,
    so I will ·see my enemies defeated [look on my enemy; in triumph].
It is better to ·trust [find refuge in] the Lord
    than to ·trust [have confidence in] people.
It is better to ·trust [find refuge in] the Lord
    than to ·trust [have confidence in] princes.
                         

 

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All the nations surrounded me,
    but I ·defeated them [warded them off] in the name of the Lord.
They surrounded me; they surrounded me on every side,
    but ·with the Lord’s power [ in the name of the Lord] I ·defeated them [warded them off].
They surrounded me like a swarm of bees,
    but they ·died [were extinguished] as quickly as thorns burn.
    ·By the Lord’s power [ In the name of the Lord], I ·defeated them [warded them off].
They [or You] ·chased me [pushed me hard] until I ·was almost defeated [almost fell],
    but the Lord helped me.
The Lord ·gives me strength and a song [ is my strength and song/or might].
    He has ·saved me [given me victory].

Shouts of joy and victory
    come from the tents of ·those who do right [the righteous]:
    “The right hand of the Lord has done powerful things.”
The ·power [right hand] of the Lord ·has won the victory [is exalted];
    with His ·power [ right hand] the Lord has done powerful things.

I will not die, but live,
    and I will ·tell [recount] what the Lord has done.
The Lord has ·taught me a hard lesson [ surely disciplined/instructed me],
    but he did not ·let me die [give me over to death].

Open for me the ·Temple gates [gates of righteousness].
    Then I will come in and ·thank [praise] the Lord.
This is the Lord’s gate;
    only ·those who are good [the righteous] may enter through it [15; 24:3–6].
Lord, I ·thank [praise] You for answering me.
    You have ·saved me [given me victory].

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The stone that the builders rejected
    became the chief cornerstone [Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:7].
The Lord did this [This is from the Lord],
    and it is wonderful ·to us [in our eyes; Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10–11].
This is the day that the Lord has made.
    Let us rejoice and be glad ·today [in it]!

Please, Lord, ·save us [give us victory];
    please, Lord, give us ·success [prosperity].
·God bless [Blessed be] the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
    We bless all of you from the ·Temple [house] of the Lord [Mark 11:9; Luke 13:35; 19:38].
The Lord is God,
    and He has ·shown kindness to [illuminated; given light to] us.
·With branches in your hands, join the feast [ Bind the feast/procession with branches].
    Come to the ·corners [ horns; Ex. 27:2] of the altar.

You are my God, and I will ·thank [praise] You;
You are my God, and I will ·praise Your greatness [exalt You].

·Thank [Praise] the Lord because He is good.
His ·love [loyalty] ·continues [endures] forever.
(Psalm 118)
           

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Comfort and keep comforting My people,” says your God.
“Tell Yerushalayim to take heart; proclaim to her that she has completed her time of service,
that her guilt has been paid off,  that she has received at the hand of Adonai
double for all her sins.”

A voice cries out:

“Clear a road through the desert for Adonai!  Level a highway in the ‘Aravah for our God!
Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill lowered, the bumpy places made level and the crags become a plain.
Then the glory of Adonai will be revealed; all humankind together will see it, for the mouth of Adonai has spoken.”

A voice says, “Proclaim!”
And I answer, “What should I proclaim?”
“All humanity is merely grass, all its kindness like wildflowers:  the grass dries up, the flower fades,
when a wind from Adonai blows on it.  Surely the people are grass!
The grass dries up, the flower fades;  but the Word of our God will stand forever.”

You who bring good news to Tziyon,  Get yourself up on a high mountain;
You who bring good news to Yerushalayim, Cry out at the top of your voice!
Don’t be afraid to shout out loud!  Say to the cities of Y’hudah,
“Here is your God!  Here comes Adonai Elohim with power, and His arm will rule for Him.
Look! His reward is with Him,  and His recompense is BEFORE Him.
He is like a shepherd feeding His flock, gathering His lambs with His arm,
carrying them against His chest, gently leading the mother sheep.”
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Who has counted the handfuls of water in the sea, measured off the sky with a ruler,
gauged how much dust there is on the earth, weighed the mountains on scales, or the hills in a balance?
Who has measured the Spirit of Adonai?  Who has been His counselor, instructing Him?
Whom did He consult, to gain understanding?  Who taught Him how to judge, taught Him what he needed to know,
showed him how to discern?

The nations are like a drop in a bucket, they count like a grain of dust on the scales.
The islands weigh as little as specks of dust. The L’vanon would not suffice for fuel or its animals be enough for burnt offerings.
Before Him all the nations are like nothing. He regards them as less than nothing.

With whom, then, will you compare God? By what standard will you evaluate Him?
An image made by a craftsman, which a goldsmith overlays with gold, for which he then casts silver chains?
A man too poor to afford an offering chooses a piece of wood that won’t rot, then seeks out a skilled artisan
to prepare an image that won’t fall over.

Don’t you know? Don’t you hear? Haven’t you been told from the start?
Don’t you understand how the earth is set up?
He who sits above the circle of the earth —for Whom its inhabitants appear like grasshoppers —
stretches out the heavens like a curtain, spreads them out like a tent to live in.
He reduces princes to nothing, the rulers of the earth to emptiness.
Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely their stem taken root in the ground,
when He blows on them, they dry up,  and the whirlwind carries them off like straw.
With whom, then, will you compare Me?  With whom am I equal?” asks the Holy One.

Turn your eyes to the heavens!  See Who created these?
He brings out the ARMY of them in sequence,
summoning each by name.
Through His great might and His massive strength,
not one of them is missing.

Why do you complain, Ya‘akov;
why do you say, Isra’el,
“My way is hidden from Adonai, my rights are ignored by my God”?
Haven’t you known, haven’t you heard that the everlasting God, Adonai, the Creator of the ends of the earth,
does not grow tired or weary?
His understanding cannot be fathomed.
He invigorates the exhausted,
He gives strength to the powerless.
Young men may grow tired and weary, even the fittest may stumble and fall;
but those who hope in Adonai will renew their strength,
they will soar aloft as with eagles’ wings;
when they are running they won’t grow weary,
when they are walking they won’t get tired.
(Isaiah 40)
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A song of ascents.  When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed.

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.

(Psalm 126:1–2)

And the overcomers are joined together in victory song!
                           
Dear friend, I am praying that everything prosper with you and that you be in good health, as I know you are prospering spiritually.  For I was so happy when some brothers came and testified how faithful you are to the truth, as you continue living in the truth.  Nothing gives me greater joy than hearing that my children are living in the truth. (3 John 1:2-4)

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When God Makes Creation a Classroom            

You can not be truly free until you are free from worry.         

Like Green Lantern, whose will was strong but his light burned brightest when he employed it in the service of others.

His powers increased as he fought through evil’s fear to help others.  

Some people try to hide behind the old adage, “I’m only human” but God who made us remembers we are but DUST.

What is impossible with man is possible only with God.  Miracles happen to those who BELIEVE.     

“The only way to rid ourselves of worry is to supplant it with a much more powerful force.

We need to transform our fears into faith through prayer and by casting all our troubles on the Lord.”

(Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein)

When you turn towards God, you take the same stance as Jesus who set his face as flint towards Jerusalem
and the cross which was the will of the Father who sent him.
 
As we face the truth,  and summon the courage to change, we can take heart  that God is at work in us for He

is the One causing us to will and to do what is pleasing in His sight.

 

Be strong and of good courage for I am with you

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FAITH flows from such a heart

When our will is UNITED as one in the LORD’s will, we are JOINED to an unstoppable force
His love unfailing
His mercy enduring
His truth forever

A Song In The Night

Why should I feel Discouraged
And, Why should the shadows, shadows come
Lord why, Why! should my heart, my heart feel lonely
And long for Heaven and home
When Jesus is my portion
A constant friend is He
His eye is on the sparrow
Oh yes, I know
He watches over me
I sing
I sing because
I’m happy
Halleugha
I sing
I sing because
I’m free
I’m free
I know
His eye
His eye is on
on the sparrow
oh yes he is
I know
I know he watches over me

(Songwriters: MARTIN, C.D./BARTLETT, GENE/GABRIEL, CHARLES)
 
God’s Covenant Commitment

“‘Master, You are our God, for You delivered Your people from the land of Egypt in a show of power—people are still talking about it! We confess that we have sinned, that we have lived bad lives. Following the lines of what You have always done in setting things right, setting people right, please stop being so angry with Jerusalem, Your very own city, Your holy mountain. We know it’s our fault that this has happened, all because of our sins and our parents’ sins, and now we’re an embarrassment to everyone around us. We’re a blot on the neighborhood. So listen, God, to this determined prayer of Your servant.

Have mercy on Your ruined Sanctuary. Act out of who You are, not out of what we are.

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Turn Your ears our way, God, and listen.

Open Your eyes and take a long look at our ruined city, this city named after You.

We know that we don’t deserve a hearing from You. Our appeal is to Your compassion. T

This prayer is our last and only hope:

“‘Master, listen to us!  Master, forgive us!  Master, look at us and do something!  Master, don’t put us off!
    Your city and Your people are named after You: You have a stake in us!’
(Daniel 9:15-19)        

Does your life feel like a dry and barren desert? Let the streams of God’s living water refresh your soul.

Dare to be a Daniel!

Daniel INTERCEDED like Christ for the land, pouring out his life as water on the dry, weary ground.

For all have sinned.
Forgive us Lord for we have sinned.

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We have been given words and a voice in order to cry out righteously for our generation for our land for the kingdom in this time and place.

Place your life on the altar of Christ’s sacrifice and spend your time here on earth as a living sacrifice as a prayer and fasting of your will for His.

For man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

 

God Has Set Things Right

But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us.

And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in Him. For there is no difference between us and them in this.

Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity He put us in right standing with Himself.

A pure gift.

He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where He always wanted us to be.

And He did it by means of Jesus Christ.

(Romans 3:21-24)

Dare to BE!

as Daniel
as the Centurion that came to Christ “just speak the Word and my servant will be made whole.”

God sent His Word to heal and deliver from destruction.

Just one little Word fells the devil.

 

 “Count on it: Everyone who had it in for you will end up out in the cold—
    real losers.
Those who worked against you will end up empty-handed—
    nothing to show for their lives.
When you go out looking for your old adversaries
    you won’t find them—
Not a trace of your old enemies,not even a memory.
That’s right. Because I, your God,have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.
I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.’

 

 “Do you feel like a lowly worm, Jacob? Don’t be afraid.
Feel like a fragile insect, Israel? I’ll help you.
I, God, want to reassure you.  The God who buys you back, The Holy of Israel.

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I’m transforming you from worm to harrow, from insect to iron.
As a sharp-toothed harrow you’ll smooth out the mountains, turn those tough old hills into loamy soil.
You’ll open the rough ground to the weather,to the blasts of sun and wind and rain.
But you’ll be confident and exuberant, expansive in The Holy of Israel!

 

 “The poor and homeless are desperate for water, their tongues parched and no water to be found.
But I’m there to be found, I’m there for them, and I, God of Israel, will not leave them thirsty.
I’ll open up rivers for them on the barren hills,spout fountains in the valleys.
I’ll turn the baked-clay badlands into a cool pond, the waterless waste into splashing creeks.
I’ll plant the red cedar in that treeless wasteland,also acacia, myrtle, and olive.
I’ll place the cypress in the desert,with plenty of oaks and pines.
Everyone will see this. No one can miss it—unavoidable, indisputable evidence
That I, God, personally did this.  It’s created and signed by The Holy of Israel.


Isaiah 41:11-20

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:43–45)

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God empowers us to speak when we come into Agreement with His Word through the Aid of His Holy Spirit

Aligning us to walk as Jesus did.  Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil

because the Father was with Him in spirit and in truth.  The same Holy Spirit is given to lead and guide us into all

truth. 

 

“Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance;

with divine retribution He will come to save you. … Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.’”  (Isaiah 35:4, 6)

On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took His stand.

He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in Me this way, just as the Scripture says.”

(He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were about to receive.

The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)

(John 7:37-39)

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“Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing.

Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”  (Luke 6:38)

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good,

and the evil person out of his evil treasure [of his heart] produces evil,

for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks [his life proceeds]” (Luke 6:45)

 

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth” (James 3:13-14).

 

“You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).

 

“Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do
flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).

41-42 “It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

Work the Words into Your Life

 “You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree.

The health of the apple tells the health of the tree.

You must begin with your own life-giving lives.

It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.

 “Why are you so polite with Me, always saying ‘Yes, Sir,’ and ‘That’s right, Sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.

 “If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last.

But if you just use My words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards.

It was a total loss.”

(Luke 6:41-49)

BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

HELMET OF SALVATION

 

BELT OF TRUTH

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I AM LIKE A BIRD ALONE

Seventy Sevens

“While I was pouring out my heart, baring my sins and the sins of my people Israel, praying my life out before my God, interceding for the holy mountain of my God—while I was absorbed in this praying, the humanlike Gabriel, the one I had seen in an earlier vision, approached me, flying in like a bird about the time of evening worship.

He stood before me and said, ‘Daniel, I have come to make things plain to you. You had no sooner started your prayer when the answer was given. And now I’m here to deliver the answer to you. You are much loved! So listen carefully to the answer, the plain meaning of what is revealed:

“‘Seventy sevens are set for your people and for your holy city to throttle rebellion, stop sin, wipe out crime, set things right forever, confirm what the prophet saw, and anoint The Holy of Holies.

“‘Here is what you must understand:

From the time the word goes out to rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of the Anointed Leader, there will be seven sevens.

The rebuilding will take sixty-two sevens, including building streets and digging a moat.

Those will be rough times.

After the sixty-two sevens, the Anointed Leader will be killed—the end of him.

The city and Sanctuary will be laid in ruins by the army of the newly arriving leader.

The end will come in a rush, like a flood.

War will rage right up to the end, desolation the order of the day.

“‘Then for one seven, he will forge many and strong alliances, but halfway through the seven he will banish worship and prayers. At the place of worship, a desecrating obscenity will be set up and remain until finally the desecrator himself is decisively destroyed.’”
(Daniel 9:20-27)

Who are the real winners in life?  How do they take their losses and TURN them into glorious gains?        

They THINK positively–

In conclusion, brothers, focus your thoughts on what is true, noble, righteous, pure, lovable or admirable, on some virtue or on something praiseworthy.  (Philippians 4:8)

                        They LIVE positively–And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  (Romans 8:28)

                        They WORK positively–So let us not grow weary of doing what is good; for if we don’t give up, we will in due time reap the harvest.  (Galatians 6:9)

                        They PRAY positively–Moreover, my God will fill every need of yours according to his glorious wealth,

in union with the Messiah Yeshua.   (Philippians 4:19)

Look up at the sky. Take a long hard look.
    See those clouds towering above you?
If you sin, what difference could that make to God?
    No matter how much you sin, will it matter to Him?
Even if you’re good, what would God get out of that?
    Do you think He’s dependent on your accomplishments?
The only ones who care whether you’re good or bad
    are your family and friends and neighbors.
    God’s not dependent on your behavior.

“When times get bad, people cry out for help.
    They cry for relief from being kicked around,
But never give God a thought when things go well,
    when God puts spontaneous songs in their hearts,
When God sets out the entire creation as a science classroom,
    using birds and beasts to teach wisdom.
People are arrogantly indifferent to God—
    until, of course, they’re in trouble,
    and then God is indifferent to them.
There’s nothing behind such prayers except panic;
    the Almighty pays them no mind.
So why would He notice you
    just because you say you’re tired of waiting to be heard,
Or waiting for Him to get good and angry
    and do something about the world’s problems?
(Job 35:5-15)        
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Get Serious

Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen?

Think again.

They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves.

You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it.

You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.

You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? 

And why not?

Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to.

You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.

You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way,

flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and His way.

‘And do you suppose God doesn’t care?

The proverb has it that “He’s a fiercely jealous lover.”

And what He gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find.

It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.

So let God work His will in you.

Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and He’ll be there in no time.

Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life.

Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out.

The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious.

Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, His Message, His Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it.

God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?
(James 4:1-12)
ImageJesus:   “You must forgive not seven times, but seventy times seven.

(Matthew 18:21)
Even little sins can MUDDY up our communication system.  We try to get through to God and there’s something in the way. 

It may be an attitude, a spoken word.  God wants these things CLEARED up.

Lord, help me think and live so as to FEED my faith in You.
Help my faith to grow, because with faith, Your power becomes available to me.  Amen.

Even the desert and the solitary place will blossom.
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A David Psalm, When He Was out in the Judean Wilderness

God—You’re my God!   I can’t get enough of You!
I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God,
    traveling across dry and weary deserts.

So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in Your strength and glory.
In Your generous love I am really living at last!
    My lips brim praises like fountains.
I bless You every time I take a breath;  My arms wave like banners of praise to You.        
(Psalm 63:1-4)    

You are making a table of food ready for me in front of those who hate me.

You have poured oil on my head. I have everything I need.
For sure, You will give me goodness and loving-kindness all the days of my life.

Then I will live with You in Your house forever.
(Psalm 23:5-6)
       
My soul overflows with satisfaction, as when I feast on foods rich in marrow and fat;
    with excitement in my heart and joy on my lips, I offer You praise.
Often at night I lie in bed and remember You,
    meditating on Your greatness till morning smiles through my window.
You have been my constant helper;
    therefore, I sing for joy under the protection of Your wings.
My soul clings to You;
    Your right hand reaches down and holds me up.

But as for those who try to destroy my life,
    they will descend into eternal shadows, deep beneath the earth.
They will fall by the sword,
    and wild dogs will feast on their corpses.
But the king will find his joy in the True God;
    all who make pledges and invoke His name will celebrate,
    while the mindless prattle of cheaters and deceivers will be silenced.
(Psalm 63:5-11)

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This political background isn’t incidental: it is crucial to the story.

Conquering nations in the ancient world work in various ways.

Some brutally destroy and plunder the nations they conquer.

Some conquer people as slaves or servants.

Other empires allow the people to remain in their land and work as before, but with one major change: the conquered people have to pay taxes to their rulers.

The purpose of a census like the one Luke de-scribes is to be sure that everyone is appropriately taxed and knows who is in charge.

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 “I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
        God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of My mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.

 So you’ll go out in joy,
    you’ll be led into a whole and complete life.
The mountains and hills will lead the parade,
    bursting with song.
All the trees of the forest will join the procession,
    exuberant with applause.
No more thistles, but giant sequoias,
    no more thornbushes, but stately pines—
Monuments to Me, to God,
    living and lasting evidence of God.”

(Isaiah 55:8-13)

Hannah prayed:

I’m bursting with God-news!
    I’m walking on air.
I’m laughing at my rivals.
    I’m dancing my salvation.

 

 Nothing and no one is holy like God,
    no rock mountain like our God.
Don’t dare talk pretentiously—
    not a word of boasting, ever!
For God knows what’s going on.
    He takes the measure of everything that happens.
The weapons of the strong are smashed to pieces,
    while the weak are infused with fresh strength.
The well-fed are out begging in the streets for crusts,
    while the hungry are getting second helpings.
The barren woman has a houseful of children,
    while the mother of many is bereft.

 

God brings death and God brings life,
    brings down to the grave and raises up.
God brings poverty and God brings wealth;
    he lowers, he also lifts up.
He puts poor people on their feet again;
    he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope,
Restoring dignity and respect to their lives—
    a place in the sun!
For the very structures of earth are God’s;
    he has laid out his operations on a firm foundation.
He protectively cares for his faithful friends, step by step,
    but leaves the wicked to stumble in the dark.
    No one makes it in this life by sheer muscle!
God’s enemies will be blasted out of the sky,
    crashed in a heap and burned.
God will set things right all over the earth,
    he’ll give strength to his king,
    he’ll set his anointed on top of the world!

(1 Samuel 2:1-10)

Because hayom, in Ir Dovid, has been born to you a Moshia (Go’el, Savior, Oisleizer), who is Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach HaAdon. [YESHAYAH 9:5(6)]

And this will be HaOt [The Sign] to you: you will find a small child, an infant, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in an evus. [SHMUEL ALEF 2:34; MELACHIM BAIS 19:29; TEHILLIM 86:17; YESHAYAH 7:14]

(Lukas 2:11-12)

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The Shepherds Learn of the Birth of Jesus

 In the same country there were shepherds in the fields.

They were watching their flocks of sheep at night. 

The angel of the Lord came to them. The shining-greatness of the Lord shone around them. They were very much afraid.

The angel said to them,

Do not be afraid. See! I bring you good news of great joy which is for all people. 

Today, One Who saves from the punishment of sin has been born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord. 

There will be something special for you to see.

This is the way you will know Him. You will find the Baby with cloth around Him, lying in a place where cattle are fed.”

 

At once many angels from heaven were seen, along with the angel, giving thanks to God.

They were saying, 

Greatness and honor to our God in the highest heaven and peace on earth among men who please Him.”

(Luke 2:8-14)

 

Do You Feel Like a Lowly Worm?

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 “Do you feel like a lowly worm, Jacob?
    Don’t be afraid.
Feel like a fragile insect, Israel?
    I’ll help you.
I, God, want to reassure you.
    The God who buys you back, The Holy of Israel.
I’m transforming you from worm to harrow,
    from insect to iron.
As a sharp-toothed harrow you’ll smooth out the mountains,
    turn those tough old hills into loamy soil.
You’ll open the rough ground to the weather,
    to the blasts of sun and wind and rain.
But you’ll be confident and exuberant,
    expansive in The Holy of Israel!

 

“The poor and homeless are desperate for water,
    their tongues parched and no water to be found.
But I’m there to be found, I’m there for them,
    and I, God of Israel, will not leave them thirsty.
I’ll open up rivers for them on the barren hills,
    spout fountains in the valleys.
I’ll turn the baked-clay badlands into a cool pond,
    the waterless waste into splashing creeks.
I’ll plant the red cedar in that treeless wasteland,
    also acacia, myrtle, and olive.
I’ll place the cypress in the desert,
    with plenty of oaks and pines.
Everyone will see this. No one can miss it—
    unavoidable, indisputable evidence
That I, God, personally did this.
    It’s created and signed by The Holy of Israel.

(Isaiah 41:14-20)

Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.  (Psalm 57:8)

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In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise Your name forever.  (Psalm 44:8)

It’s Already Been SAID And DONE

It Is FINISHED.”

For what You have done I will always praise You in the presence of Your faithful people.

And I will hope in Your name, for Your name is good.  (Psalm 52:9)

 I didn’t die. I lived!
    And now I’m telling the world what God did.
God tested me, he pushed me hard,
    but he didn’t hand me over to Death.
Swing wide the city gates—the righteous gates!
    I’ll walk right through and thank God!
This Temple Gate belongs to God,
    so the victors can enter and praise.

(Psalm 118:17-20)
 

The word’s getting out on Zion:
    “Men and women, right and left,
    get born again in her!”

God registers their names in His book:
    “This one, this one, and this one—
    born again, right here.”

Singers and dancers give credit to Zion:
    “All my springs are in You!”

(Psalm 87:5-7)

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Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

 

Prayer of Thanks

I will lift You up, O Lord, for You have lifted me up. You have not let those who hate me stand over me in joy. 

O Lord my God, I cried to You for help and You healed me. O Lord, You have brought me up from the grave.

You have kept me alive, so that I will not go down into the deep. 

Sing praise to the Lord, all you who belong to Him. Give thanks to His holy name.

(Psalm 30:1-4)

You did it: You changed wild lament
    into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
    and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song;
    I can’t keep quiet about You.
God, my God,
    I can’t thank You enough.

(Psalm 30:11-12)

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,  (Psalm 16:9)

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.  (Psalm 108:1)

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O Eternal One, I called out to You;
    I pleaded for Your compassion and forgiveness:
I’m no good to You dead! What benefits come from my rotting corpse?
    My body in the grave will not praise You.
No songs will rise up from the dust of my bones.
    From dust comes no proclamation of Your faithfulness.
Hear me, Eternal Lord—please help me,
    Eternal One—be merciful!”

 

You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing;
    You stripped off my dark clothing
    and covered me with joyful light.
You have restored my honor. My heart is ready to explode, erupt in new songs!
    It’s impossible to keep quiet!
    Eternal One, my God, my Life-Giver, I will thank You forever.

(Psalm 30:8-12)

 

Sing, all you who remain faithful!
    Pour out your hearts to the Eternal with praise and melodies;
    let grateful music fill the air and bless His name.

(Psalm 30:4)

You have changed my sadness into a joyful dance

You have taken away my sorrow

And surrounded me with joy.

(Psalm 30:11)

A Song of Praise

Call out with joy to the Lord, all the earth.

Be glad as you serve the Lord. Come before Him with songs of joy. 

Know that the Lord is God. It is He Who made us, and not we ourselves.

We are His people and the sheep of His field.

Go into His gates giving thanks and into His holy place with praise.

Give thanks to Him. Honor His name. 

For the Lord is good. His loving-kindness lasts forever.

And He is faithful to all people and to all their children-to-come.

(Psalm 100)

Who will not fear You, Lord, and bring glory to Your name? For You alone are holy.

All nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed.

(Revelation 15:4)

ImageThe seven angels who had the seven last kinds of trouble came out of the house of God. They were wearing clothes made of clean white linen. They were wearing belts made of gold around their chests.  (Revelation 15:6)  I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues–last, because with them God’s wrath is completed.  (Revelation 15:1)

Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him,

for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”

It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'”

And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”  (Revelation 19:7-9)

ImageFine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

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