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One Place for Worship

There you shall bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the contribution of your hand, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock.

There also you and your households shall eat before the LORD your God,

and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you.

“You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes.”
Deuteronomy 12:6-8

God’s Love is the KEY, Jesus is the DOOR

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I will Give Thanks with My Whole Heart

All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O LORD,
When they have heard the words of Your mouth.
And they will sing of the ways of the LORD, For great is the glory of the LORD.
For though the LORD is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He knows from afar.

They celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness.

Yes, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD: for great is the glory of the LORD.

To Honor God:  honor one another before self

While writing about these things, let me tell you what I think. Nothing good is coming from your meeting together.

First of all, I hear that when you meet together in the church you are divided into groups and you argue.

I almost believe this is true. For there must be different groups among you.

In that way, those who are right will be seen from those who are wrong.

When you gather together for your meetings, it is not to eat the Lord’s supper.

Each one is in a hurry to eat his own food first. He does not wait for others.

In this way, one does not get enough food and drink. Others get too much and get drunk.

You have your own homes to eat and drink in. Or do you hate the church of God and shame those who are poor?

What am I to say to you? Am I to say you are right? No! I cannot say you are right in this.

The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper

I have given you the teaching I received from the Lord.

The night Jesus was handed over to the soldiers, He took bread.

When He had given thanks, He broke it and said,

Take this bread and eat it. This is My body which is broken for you. Do this to remember Me.”

In the same way after supper, He took the cup.

He said, “This cup is the New Way of Worship made between God and you by My blood.

Whenever you drink it, do it to remember Me.”

Every time you eat this bread and drink from this cup you are telling of the Lord’s death until He comes again.

Anyone who eats the bread or drinks from the cup, if his spirit is not right with the Lord,

will be guilty of sinning against the body and the blood of the Lord.

This is why a man should look into his own heart and life before eating the bread and drinking from the cup.

Anyone who eats the bread and drinks from the cup, if his spirit is not right with the Lord,

will be guilty as he eats and drinks. He does not understand the meaning of the Lord’s body.

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This is why some of you are sick and weak, and some have died.

But if we would look into our own lives and see if we are guilty, then God would not have to say we are guilty.

When we are guilty, we are punished by the Lord so we will not be told we are guilty with the rest of the world.

Christian brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other.

If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home. Then he will not be guilty as you meet together.

I will talk about the other things when I come. (1 Corinthians 11:17-34)

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A Desire for God’s House

How beautiful are the places where You live, O Lord of all!

My soul wants and even becomes weak from wanting to be in the house of the Lord.

My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Even the bird has found a home.

The swallow has found a nest for herself where she may lay her young at Your altars, O Lord of all, my King and my God.
How happy are those who live in Your house! They are always giving thanks to You.

How happy is the man whose strength is in You and in whose heart are the roads to Zion!
As they pass through the dry valley of Baca, they make it a place of good water. The early rain fills the pools with good also.
They go from strength to strength. Every one of them stands before God in Zion.

O Lord God of all, hear my prayer. Listen, O God of Jacob.
Look upon our safe-covering, O God. And look upon the face of Your chosen one.
For a day in Your house is better than a thousand outside.

I would rather be the one who opens the door of the house of my God, than to live in the tents of the sinful.

For the Lord God is a sun and a safe-covering. The Lord gives favor and honor.

He holds back nothing good from those who walk in the way that is right.
O Lord of all, how happy is the man who trusts in You!
(Psalm 84)

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“Tears in Heaven”

“Tears in Heaven” is a song by Eric Clapton and Will Jennings, from the soundtrack to the film Rush.

The song was written about the pain and loss Clapton felt following the death of his four-year-old son, Conor.

Conor fell from a window of a 53rd-floor New York apartment building owned by his mother’s friend on March 20, 1991. Clapton arrived at the apartment shortly after the accident.

Jennings, who worked with Clapton on the song, was reluctant at first to help him write a personal song.

Clapton stopped playing it in 2004, as well as the song “My Father’s Eyes”, stating:

“I didn’t feel the loss anymore, which is so much a part of performing those songs.

I really have to connect with the feelings that were there when I wrote them.

They’re kind of gone and I really don’t want them to come back, particularly. My life is different now.

They probably just need a rest and maybe I’ll introduce them for a much more detached point of view.”

Clapton eventually resurrected both songs for his Old Sock tour in 2013.

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Writing and inspiration

The years following 1990 were extremely turbulent for Clapton.

In August 1990, his manager and two of his roadies (along with fellow musician Stevie Ray Vaughan) were killed in a helicopter accident. Seven months later, on March 20, 1991, Clapton’s four-year-old son Conor died after falling from the 53rd-floor window of his mother’s friend’s New York City apartment. He landed on the roof of an adjacent four-story building. After isolating himself for a period, Clapton began working again, writing music for a movie about drug addiction called Rush. Clapton dealt with the grief of his son’s death by co-writing “Tears in Heaven” with Will Jennings.

In an interview with Daphne Barak, Clapton stated,

“I almost subconsciously used music for myself as a healing agent, and lo and behold, it worked…

I have got a great deal of happiness and a great deal of healing from music”.

In an interview, Will Jennings said:

“Eric and I were engaged to write a song for a movie called Rush.

We wrote a song called ‘Help Me Up’ for the end of the movie… then Eric saw another place in the movie for a song and he said to me, ‘I want to write a song about my boy.’ Eric had the first verse of the song written,

which, to me, is all the song, but he wanted me to write the rest of the verse lines and the release

(‘Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees…’),

even though I told him that it was so personal he should write everything himself.

He told me that he had admired the work I did with Steve Winwood and finally there was nothing else but to do as he requested, despite the sensitivity of the subject. This is a song so personal and so sad that it is unique in my experience of writing songs.”

 

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The Answer Key

Dana Key’s Unusual Song a Reminder to Reach Out to the Hurting
(shared from Ron Masters, Yahoo Contributor Network)

One could argue that you can’t really know someone through just their creative efforts. To a point I’d agree with them.

Still, through the years and the many albums of DeGarmo and Key (17, to be precise) along with Dana’s solo work,

I’ve gotten a sense of what moves this man’s soul\… one song of his continues to replay in my heart;

  …It comes from Dana’s solo album, Part of the Mystery.

The song? “Dear Mr. Clapton”.

Dear Mr. Clapton is a fan’s song, with a heartfelt message.

I don’t know if Dana ever got the opportunity to meet Eric Clapton, but his heart for the man,

in the midst of the tragic loss of Clapton’s son, has spoken to me throughout the years.

Dana’s song surprises me.

After all, how many people do you know that go out of their way to reach out to a hurting soul in the midst of grief?

I don’t know a whole lot. But Dana did.

You can’t just read the lyrics to this song. No.

To really get the emotion behind the message, you’re going to need to hear it.

A video of the song from Forefront music can be heard up on YouTube (Click here to hear “Dear Mr. Clapton” by Dana Key)

Dear Mr. Clapton
by Dana Key

Dear Mr. Clapton,
I have learned of your loss.
Tears in heaven…
It’s a beautiful song.

I know your bleeding
Won’t cease with my words.
They’re just a cool drink
To help you along.

Through Saturdays with no noise,
Baseballs and untouched toys.
They leave an empty feeling in your soul.

He is in Heaven’s care.
There are no tears up there, cause,
Jesus loves children more than we will ever know.
He loves those children more than we will ever know.

Dear Mr. Clapton,
You are not without hope.
The door to Heaven
lies beyond the grave

If you would only
believe as a child,
someday this pain
will be washed away.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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Back in 1997 I had the pleasure of submitting questions for a Dana Key interview by Brian Jarrett of Tennessee

Take a look at this excerpt:

Dana Key: The one song that has generated more fan letters than any I’ve ever written is ‘Dear Mr. Clapton’ off of my last solo album. I think it’s because it’s such a weird song about such a weird subject and it touches so many people in a personal way that it causes you to want to go write me a letter … I guess, because it’s such a compelling subject … the death of Eric Clapton’s son, and basically the song is my fan letter to Mr. Clapton, explaining to him that there will not be ‘tears in heaven’ according to Revelations.

Brian Jarrett: Has he heard the song?

Dana Key: I sent him a video as well as a CD about 6 months ago to London by way of Los Angeles, his management company, but I have not heard back.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Know what immediately speaks to me? Dana’s compassion. To take the time to reach out to someone -whether they be rich or poor, famous or not – is an act well worth emulating.

From his music and life, Dana Key taught me to love God and to reach out to those hurting. All during this week I’ve found my heart hurting for Dana’s wife and children.

How do I reach out to a family so far away? That I’ve never met?

I’ve been praying.

praying that our Great God will bring His peace and comfort into their midst.

That when the time is right, that He will be the one to wipe away their tears.

Dana may be gone from this world, but he lives on in the next.

I want God to remind them that the door to Heaven lies beyond the grave.

Until they are all reunited — Jesus, be the One who is the cool drink, to help them along.

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Eric Clapton – Presence Of The Lord Lyrics
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98XqT4kBWT4

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I have finally found a way to live
Just like I never could before.
I know that I don’t have much to give,
But I can open any door.

Everybody knows the secret,
Everybody knows the score.
I have finally found a way to live
In the color of the Lord.

I have finally found a place to live
Just like I never could before.
And I know I don’t have much to give,
But soon I’ll open any door.

Everybody knows the secret,
Everybody knows the score.
I have finally found a place to live
In the presence of the Lord.
In the presence of the Lord.

I have finally found a way to live
Just like I never could before.
And I know I don’t have much to give,
But I can open any door.

Everybody knows the secret,
I said everybody knows the score.
I have finally found a way to live
In the color of the Lord.
In the color of the Lord.
Play Song On Your Computer
Songwriters: CLAPTON, ERIC PATRICK
Presence Of The Lord lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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God DEFINES us; the people of this fallen, corrupt world system try to LABEL us. 
 
“If My people, My God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking My presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14) 
Lord, Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Be it unto me and mine according to Your Word
who lives forever Faithful and True as I walk ever closer into complete agreement and perfect harmony with You by the
power of Your Holy Spirit leading and guiding me every step of the Way, the Truth and the Life in Jesus, Amen.

Faith Under Pressure

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

(James 1:2-8)

Remember–it takes BOTH Faith and Patience to INHERIT God’s Promises!

All things are possible to him who believes.”  (Mark 9:23)

Tested by the Devil

Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry.

The Devil, playing on his hunger, gave the first test: “Since you’re God’s Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread.”

 Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to really live.”

 For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re yours in all their splendor to serve your pleasure. I’m in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re yours, the whole works.”

 Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”

 For the third test the Devil took him to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said, “If you are God’s Son, jump. It’s written, isn’t it, that ‘he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone’?”

 “Yes,” said Jesus, “and it’s also written, ‘Don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God.’”

That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.

(Luke 4:1-13)

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When God, your God, ushers you into the land He promised through your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you, you’re going to walk into large, bustling cities you didn’t build, well-furnished houses you didn’t buy, come upon wells you didn’t dig, vineyards and olive orchards you didn’t plant. When you take it all in and settle down, pleased and content, make sure you don’t forget how you got there—God brought you out of slavery in Egypt.

Deeply respect God, your God. Serve and worship Him exclusively. Back up your promises with His name only. Don’t fool around with other gods, the gods of your neighbors, because God, your God, who is alive among you is a jealous God. Don’t provoke Him, igniting His hot anger that would burn you right off the face of the Earth. Don’t push God, your God, to the wall as you did that day at Massah, the Testing-Place. Carefully keep the commands of God, your God, all the requirements and regulations He gave you. Do what is right; do what is good in God’s sight so you’ll live a good life and be able to march in and take this pleasant land that God so solemnly promised through your ancestors, throwing out your enemies left and right—exactly as God said.  (Deuteronomy 6:10 -19)

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“It will be a set-right and put-together life for us if we make sure that we do this entire commandment in the Presence of God, our God, just as he commanded us to do.”

(Deuteronomy 6:25)
This is the work of god–to believe.  god was at work in christ who is the beginning and the end and with us all the way IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH BY HIS POWERFUL HOLY SPIRIT HELPING US BOTH TO WILL AND TO DO WHAT IS PLEASING IN HIS SIGHT.  FOR HE CREATED US FOR GOOD WORKS TO WALK IN THEM.  HE IS IN THE BUSINESS OF TURNING ALL OUR LOSSES–PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL SUFFERING, BEING FORSAKEN, ALONENESS, BEREAVEMENT, FORFEITED, LOST OR STOLLEN MONEY, POSITION, OR REPUTATION, RELINQUISHED RIGHTS–INTO GAINS, THE TRUE AND LASTING RICHES WHICH ARE KEPT SAFELY IN CHRIST JESUS FOREVER SECURE.  BUT FOR NOW, HE IS USING ALL THESE PERCEIVED LOSSES WHICH IN HIS EYES, ARE ETERNAL WORTHY GAINS, TO MATURE US, TO REFINE US, TO STRENGTHEN US, TO PREPARE US, TO ENRICH US–IF WE WILL ONLY LET HIM.

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be still and know that i am god that i will be exalted among the nations.  when we stand in the place prepared for us by the lord in the wilderness of this barren earth and its fallen, corrupt world system, we gain the right to stand with god as children brought into intimate relationship through the risen son of god the father almighty.  we stand on christ the solid rock.  we walk in his word of truth–the word sent by god to heal and deliver from the curse of sin and death.  the word that calls forth the end from the beginning calling forth those things that be not as though they are for jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, from everlasting to everlasting, he is lord.  he is god of the living, not the dead.  he is the resurrection and the life.  he is the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the father but through him.  when we return to him, the spirit is given to lead and guide us into all truth revealing jesus every step of the way for the lord gives grace and glory, no good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly with him.  if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of jesus cleanses from all unrighteousness.  every where you place your foot, you take the kingdom!  as he was sent, he sends us out.  when we are little in our own eyes, we see more of his glory revealed as king of kings and lord of lords!  our vision is fixed solely on he who is the beginning and end and with us through it all.  for nothing is impossible with god.  i would have fainted had i not believed to see the goodness of the lord in the land of the living; wait i say on the lord and he will strengthen your heart.  he will open the eyes of your heart as you step out in faith as jesus said, “all things are possible if you can believe.” and as He also said, “fear not, only believe—then you shall see the glory of god revealed.”  put out any dis-trust of his word and only believe do not allow anything no matter what to come between you and he who is forever faithful and true. 

 

Place Your Life Before God

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.  (Romans 12:1-2)

 

The Lord Be Praised

Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart where those who are right with God gather together and in the meeting of the people.  The works of the Lord are great. All who find joy in them try to understand them. 

His work is great and powerful. And He is right and good forever. He has made His great works to be remembered.

The Lord shows loving-favor and pity.   He gives food to those who fear Him. He will remember His agreement forever. 

He has shown His people the power of His works by giving them the land of other nations.

The works of His hands are faithful and right. All His Laws are true.  They stand strong forever and ever.

They are done by what is true and right.   He has made a way for His people to be free. He has set up His agreement forever. His holy name is to be honored with fear.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

All who obey His Laws have good understanding. His praise lasts forever.  (Psalm 111)

POINT YOUr kids in the right direction—
    when they’re old they won’t be lost.  (Proverbs 22:6)

So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; He’ll promote you at the right time.

Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you.  (1 Peter 5:6)

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN
‘Moreover, the LORD showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt,

Pharaoh and all his household; 

He brought us out from there in order to bring us in,

to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.’

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For an answer Jesus called over a child,

whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said,

“I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in.

Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.

(Matthew 18:2-5)

HUMILITY LEADS TO GOOD UNDERSTANDING

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Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God;
    only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.  (Proverbs 1:7)

“So the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes,

to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today  (Deuteronomy 6:22-24)

As the story unfolds, we’re told that the lampstands signify the churches.

During harsh times of persecution,

the faithful often wonder where their Master is.

Is He even aware of what they are experiencing?

John’s vision confirms what the gospel already teaches:

Jesus is present with them even in their suffering,

moving among those who dare to bear the light.

Lampstands, of course, are not the light. They only carry the light.

The true Light that has come into the world is none other than Jesus, the Son of Man

(John 8:28).

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A Door into Heaven

Jesus continues to challenge Jewish ideas about who will be in the kingdom of God and how the Kingdom will work. Those who have been dishonored on earth will be honored in the Kingdom, and those in positions of economic and religious honor here will be dishonored there. He also challenges individuals to reconsider their personal value systems. They should not honor their own lives and family above Christ, but rather give them up for Him.

 “I see what you’ve done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can’t stomach evil, that you weed out apostolic pretenders. I know your persistence, your courage in my cause, that you never wear out.

 “But you walked away from your first love—why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall!

“Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I’m well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.

“You do have this to your credit: You hate the Nicolaitan business. I hate it, too.

 “Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches. I’m about to call each conqueror to dinner. I’m spreading a banquet of Tree-of-Life fruit, a supper plucked from God’s orchard.”

(Revelation 2:2-7)

Invite the Misfits

He went on to tell a story to the guests around the table.

Noticing how each had tried to elbow into the place of honor, he said,

“When someone invites you to dinner, don’t take the place of honor.

Somebody more important than you might have been invited by the host.

Then he’ll come and call out in front of everybody, ‘You’re in the wrong place. The place of honor belongs to this man.’ Red-faced, you’ll have to make your way to the very last table, the only place left.

 “When you’re invited to dinner, go and sit at the last place.

Then when the host comes he may very well say, ‘Friend, come up to the front.’

That will give the dinner guests something to talk about! What I’m saying is, If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.

Then he turned to the host. “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.”

(The Parable of the Guests, Luke 14:7-14)

 This message is from him who is the First and Last, who was dead and then came back to life.

 “I know how much you suffer for the Lord, and I know all about your poverty (but you have heavenly riches!).

I know the slander of those opposing you, who say that they are believers—the children of God—

but they aren’t, for they support the cause of Satan. 

Stop being afraid of what you are about to suffer—for the devil will soon throw some of you into prison to test you.

You will be persecuted for ‘ten days.’

Remain faithful even when facing death and I will give you the crown of life—an unending, glorious future.

Let everyone who can hear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches:

He who is victorious shall not be hurt by the Second Death.  (Revelation 2:9-11)

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 Jesus: Truly, some of you who are here now will not experience death before you see the kingdom of God coming in glory and power.

Six days after saying this, Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up onto a high mountaintop by themselves.

There He was transformed so that His clothing became intensely white, brighter than any earthly cleaner could bleach them. Elijah and Moses appeared to them and talked with Jesus.

Peter (to Jesus) Teacher, it’s a great thing that we’re here. We should build three shelters here: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

He was babbling and did not know what he was saying because they were terrified by what they were witnessing.

Then a cloud surrounded them, and they heard a voice within that cloud.

Voice: This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him.

All of a sudden, they looked about and all they had seen was gone. They stood alone on the mountain with Jesus.

On their way back down, He urged them not to tell anyone what they had witnessed until the Son of Man had risen from the dead, so they kept it all to themselves.

Mark doesn’t usually record events with much attention to chronology; but in this case, he mentions that the transfiguration took place six days after Peter’s confession of Jesus’ identity. In a dramatic confirmation of the truth Peter has spoken, the three disciples see that Jesus is indeed the Anointed One of God. The veil of Jesus’ human nature is pulled away, and the glory of His divinity shines through.

The appearance of Moses and Elijah shows that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the answer to all the promises of the prophets. The disciples hear God’s own voice commanding them to listen to Jesus as His beloved Son. What an incredible confirmation of the truth that Peter spoke in faith only six days before!

Disciples (to one another): What does He mean, “Until the Son of Man is risen”?  (to Jesus) Master, why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?

Jesus (thinking of John the Baptist):   Elijah does come first to restore all things. They have it right. But there is something else written in the Scriptures about the Son of Man: He will have to suffer and be rejected.   Here’s the truth: Elijah has come; his enemies treated him with contempt and did what they wanted to him, just as it was written.

 When they reached the rest of the disciples, Jesus saw that a large crowd had gathered and that among them the scribes were asking questions.  Right when the crowd saw Jesus, they were overcome with awe and surged forward immediately, nearly running over the disciples.

Jesus (to the scribes):   What are you debating with My disciples? What would you like to know?

Father (in the crowd):   Teacher, I have brought my son to You. He is filled with an unclean spirit. He cannot speak,  and when the spirit takes control of him, he is thrown to the ground to wail and moan, to foam at the mouth, to grind his teeth, and to stiffen up. I brought him to Your followers, but they could do nothing with him. Can You help us?

Jesus:   O faithless generation, how long must I be among you? How long do I have to put up with you? Bring the boy to Me.

They brought the boy toward Jesus; but as soon as He drew near, the spirit took control of the boy and threw him on the ground, where he rolled, foaming at the mouth.

Jesus (to the father):   How long has he been like this?

Father: Since he was a baby.   This spirit has thrown him often into the fire and sometimes into the water, trying to destroy him. I have run out of options; I have tried everything. But if there’s anything You can do, please, have pity on us and help us.

Jesus:   What do you mean, “If there’s anything?” All things are possible, if you only believe.

Father (crying in desperation):   I believe, Lord. Help me to believe!

Jesus noticed that a crowd had gathered around them now. He issued a command to the unclean spirit.

Jesus: Listen up, you no-talking, no-hearing demon. I Myself am ordering you to come out of him now. Come out, and don’t ever come back!

The spirit shrieked and caused the boy to thrash about; then it came out of the boy and left him lying as still as death. Many of those in the crowd whispered that he was dead. But Jesus took the boy by the hand and lifted him to his feet.

 Later He and His disciples gathered privately in a house.

Disciples (to Jesus): Why couldn’t we drive out that unclean spirit?

Jesus:  That sort of powerful spirit can only be driven out (overcome, cast out, conquered) with much prayer and fasting.

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“This is a message from the Son of God, whose eyes penetrate like flames of fire, whose feet are like glowing brass.

 “I am aware of all your good deeds—your kindness to the poor, your gifts and service to them; also I know your love and faith and patience, and I can see your constant improvement in all these things.

 “Yet I have this against you: You are permitting that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach my servants that sex sin is not a serious matter; she urges them to practice immorality and to eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to change her mind and attitude, but she refused. Pay attention now to what I am saying: I will lay her upon a sickbed of intense affliction, along with all her immoral followers, unless they turn again to me, repenting of their sin with her; and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches shall know that I am he who searches deep within men’s hearts, and minds; I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.

 “As for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching (‘deeper truths,’ as they call them—depths of Satan, really), I will ask nothing further of you; only hold tightly to what you have until I come.

 “To everyone who overcomes—who to the very end keeps on doing things that please me—I will give power over the nations. You will rule them with a rod of iron just as my Father gave me the authority to rule them; they will be shattered like a pot of clay that is broken into tiny pieces. And I will give you the Morning Star!

29 “Let all who can hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.  (Revelation 2:19-28)

The father has enough faith to bring his son to Jesus for healing, but he asks hesitantly whether there is anything Jesus can do. In his desperation, the father recognizes the limits of his faith. Perhaps that very desperation is enough because Jesus immediately heals his son.

Having successfully healed many demon-possessed people when Jesus sent them out earlier, the disciples are at a loss to know why they are completely unable to heal this little boy. Jesus’ reply is cryptic and surprising: “That sort of powerful spirit is only conquered with much prayer and fasting.” It seems that although the disciples have faith that they can heal the boy, they are spiritually unprepared for the depth of evil residing in the world. They need to be saturated in the presence of God to face the challenge.

When they left that place, they passed secretly through Galilee.

Jesus (to the disciples as they traveled): The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of the people, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise on the third day.

 But again they did not understand His meaning, and they were afraid to ask Him for an explanation.

At last, they came to Capernaum where they gathered in a house.

Jesus: What was it I heard you arguing about along the way?

They looked down at the floor and wouldn’t answer, for they had been arguing among themselves about who was the greatest of Jesus’ disciples.

It is only natural for the disciples to wonder which of them will be His right-hand man. Even the three disciples who have just seen Jesus’ glory revealed in the transfiguration cannot resist the attraction of honor. After all, who has a better claim than they do to being the greatest of Jesus’ disciples?

Fortunately Jesus overhears what is said and is quick to respond in mercy to correct their mistake. Greatness in His eyes doesn’t consist of seeing wonders or performing miracles or even fasting and praying. Instead, greatness is about humility and service. These are the heart of the kingdom of heaven.

He sat down with the twelve to teach them.

Jesus: Whoever wants to be first must be last, and whoever wants to be the greatest must be the servant of all.

He then called forward a child, set the child in the middle of them, and took the child in His arms.

Jesus:  Whoever welcomes a child like this in My name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me is welcoming not Me, but the One who sent Me.

John (to Jesus):  Master, we saw another man driving out (conquering, overcoming, casting out) unclean spirits in Your name, but he was not one of our group. So we told him to stop what he was doing.

Jesus:  You shouldn’t have said that. Anyone using My name to do a miracle cannot turn quickly to speak evil of Me.  Anyone who isn’t against us is for us.   The truth of the matter is this: anyone who gives you a cup of cool water to drink because you carry the name of your Anointed One will be rewarded.

But if anyone turns even the smallest of My followers away from Me, it would be better for him if someone had hung a millstone around his neck and threw (cast, flung) him into the deepest part of the sea.

If your hand turns you away from the things of God, then you should cut it off. It’s better to come into eternal life maimed than to have two hands and be thrown (cast, flung) into hell—where the worm will not die and the fire will not be smothered.

 If your foot trips you on the path, you should cut it off. It’s better to come into eternal life crawling than to have two feet and be thrown (cast, flung) into hell— where the worm will not die and the fire will not be smothered.

And if your eye keeps you from seeing clearly, then you should pull it out. It’s better to come into the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown (cast, flung) into hell, where the worm will not die and the fire will not be smothered. Everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.  Salt is a good thing; but if it has lost its zest, how can it be seasoned again? You should have salt within yourselves and peace with one another.

(Mark 9)

One Reason (Writer/Artist:  Jason Allen Upton)

I lived my life for a while
Asking for signs to believe in
God played defense in my trial
Quietly hanging there bleeding
While i cast lots for his robe
While i point my bloody finger
He pays debts that i owe
He says “Father, forgive them”
I used to ask for a sign to believe in
But he never gave me a reason to ever doubt Him

Give me one reason to doubt He is Messiah
Give me one reason to doubt He is alive
Give me one reason to doubt i am the apple of His eye

Just one reason now
Just one reason to doubt
Ahh ah ah
Just one reason now
Just one reason to doubt
Jesus Christ

I see the faith of our fathers
Abraham, Issac, and Jacob
They never saw what was promised
But they never once felt forsaken
Through fire, famine, and sword
Tribulation and war
They never asked for a sign to believe in
So tell me how we stand in judgment and ever doubt Him

Give me one reason to doubt He is Messiah
Give me one reason to doubt He is alive
Give me one reason to doubt i am the apple of His eye

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.

Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing. 

If you don’t have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking.

Wisdom, as James understands it, is the ability to live life well and make good decisions. Wisdom doesn’t come from old age or hard knocks. Wisdom begins with knowing and depending absolutely on God, who is never stingy when it comes to wisdom for those who seek it. He supplies all the wisdom we need when we ask. But when we try to go it alone—without God—trouble is around the corner.

The key is that your request be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Those who depend only on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind. Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused.

 If you are a brother of humble means, celebrate the fact that God has raised you up. If you are rich and seemingly invincible, savor the humble reality that you are a mere mortal who will vanish like a flower that withers in the field. The sun rises with a blazing heat that dries the earth and causes the flower to wither and fall to the ground and its beauty to fade and die. In the same way, the rich will fall and die in the midst of their busy lives.

Happy is the person who can hold up under the trials of life. At the right time, he’ll know God’s sweet approval and will be crowned with life. As God has promised, the crown awaits all who love Him.

No one who is tempted should ever be confused and say that God is testing him. The One who created us is free from evil and can’t be tempted, so He doesn’t tempt anyone. When a person is carried away with desire, lured by lust, and when desire becomes the focus and takes control, it gives birth to sin. When sin becomes fully grown, it produces death.

If you give in to temptation and desire, then sin is born. If you give in to sin long enough, it overpowers you and costs you your life.

My dearly loved brothers and sisters, don’t be misled. Every good gift bestowed, every perfect gift received comes to us from above, courtesy of the Father of lights. He is consistent. He won’t change His mind or play tricks in the shadows. We have a special role in His plan. He calls us to life by His message of truth so that we will show the rest of His creatures His goodness and love.

Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. Human anger is a futile exercise that will never produce God’s kind of justice in this world. So walk out on your corrupt liaison with smut and depraved living, and humbly welcome the word of truth that will blossom like the seed of salvation planted in your souls.

Put the word into action. If you think hearing is what matters most, you are going to find you have been deceived.

God the Father is the giver of all things and is looking for every opportunity to bless us. But many people have difficulty trusting and receiving good things, even when those things come from God. The problem is that we not only have trouble trusting God’s work in our lives, but we also don’t always respond to God’s voice. People often hear the Scriptures but don’t really listen. People store truths in their brains but never put them to use. For James, the only good religion is religion lived out every day.

If some fail to do what God requires, it’s as if they forget the word as soon as they hear it. One minute they look in the mirror, and the next they forget who they are and what they look like. However, it is possible to open your eyes and take in the beautiful, perfect truth found in God’s law of liberty and live by it. If you pursue that path and actually do what God has commanded, then you will avoid the many distractions that lead to an amnesia of all true things and you will be blessed.

If you put yourself on a pedestal, thinking you have become a role model in all things religious, but you can’t control your mouth, then think again. Your mouth exposes your heart, and your religion is useless. Real, true religion from God the Father’s perspective is about caring for the orphans and widows who suffer needlessly and resisting the evil influence of the world.

(James 1:2-27)

“You still have a few followers of Jesus in Sardis who haven’t ruined themselves wallowing in the muck of the world’s ways. They’ll walk with Me on parade! They’ve proved their worth!

 “Conquerors will march in the victory parade, their names indelible in the Book of Life. I’ll lead them up and present them by name to My Father and His Angels.  (Revelation 3:4-5)

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 3:2-13)

“Here’s what I want you to do: Buy your gold from Me, gold that’s been through the refiner’s fire. Then you’ll be rich. Buy your clothes from Me, clothes designed in Heaven. You’ve gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from Me so you can see, really see.

 “The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then!

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About face! Run after God!

 “Look at Me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear Me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside Me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of My Father. That’s My gift to the conquerors!  (Revelation 3:18-21)

This message is from him who wields the sharp and double-bladed sword. I am fully aware that you live in the city where Satan’s throne is, at the center of satanic worship; and yet you have remained loyal to me and refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you by Satan’s devotees.

 “And yet I have a few things against you. You tolerate some among you who do as Balaam did when he taught Balak how to ruin the people of Israel by involving them in sexual sin and encouraging them to go to idol feasts. Yes, you have some of these very same followers of Balaam among you!

“Change your mind and attitude, or else I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

 “Let everyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: Everyone who is victorious shall eat of the hidden manna, the secret nourishment from heaven; and I will give to each a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one else knows except the one receiving it.  (Revelation 2:12-17)

Driving Out the one who throws under (As Jesus was Driven Out into the wilderness to drive out Satan!)

A battle broke out in heaven. Michael, along with his heavenly messengers, clashed against the dragon. The dragon and his messengers returned the fight,   but they did not prevail and were defeated. As a result, there was no place left for them in heaven.  So the great dragon, that ancient serpent who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world, was cast down to the earth along with his messengers.   Then I heard a great voice in heaven.

A Voice: Now the salvation and the power
        and the kingdom of our God
        and the authority of His Anointed One have come.
    For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
        who relentlessly accuses them day and night before our God,
        has been cast down and silenced.
 By the blood of the Lamb
        and the word of their witnesses,
        they have become victorious over him,
    For they did not hold on to their lives, even under threat of death.
Therefore, rejoice, all you heavens;
        celebrate, all you who live in them.
    But disaster will befall the earth and the sea,
        for the devil has come down to your spheres,
    And he is incredibly angry
        because he knows his time is nearly over.

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

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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.

 He brought us out of there so He could bring us here and give us the land He promised to our ancestors.

He commanded us to remember all these rules to show that we fear Him, our God,

so that things will always go well for us and so that we can keep living here as we are now. 

If we carefully obey everything the Eternal our God has commanded us,

then we’ll be living as we should, in righteousness and in right relationship with Him.  (Deuteronomy 6:23-25)

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And the dragon stood waiting on the sand of the seashore.  (Revelation 12:7 -18)

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The Master You’ve Been Looking For

“Look! I’m sending my messenger on ahead to clear the way for Me. Suddenly, out of the blue, the Leader you’ve been looking for will enter his Temple—yes, the Messenger of the Covenant, the one you’ve been waiting for. Look! He’s on His way!”

A Message from the mouth of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

But who will be able to stand up to that coming? Who can survive His appearance?

He’ll be like white-hot fire from the smelter’s furnace. He’ll be like the strongest lye soap at the laundry.

He’ll take His place as a refiner of silver, as a cleanser of dirty clothes.

He’ll scrub the Levite priests clean, refine them like gold and silver,

until they’re fit for God, fit to present offerings of righteousness.

Then, and only then, will Judah and Jerusalem be fit and pleasing to God, as they used to be in the years long ago.

 “Yes, I’m on my way to visit you with Judgment.

I’ll present compelling evidence against sorcerers, adulterers, liars, those who exploit workers, those who take advantage of widows and orphans, those who are inhospitable to the homeless—anyone and everyone who doesn’t honor He.”

A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

 “I am God—yes, I Am. I haven’t changed. And because I haven’t changed, you, the descendants of Jacob, haven’t been destroyed. You have a long history of ignoring My commands. You haven’t done a thing I’ve told you.

Return to Me so I can return to you,” says God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

“You ask, ‘But how do we return?’

 “Begin by being honest. Do honest people rob God? But you rob me day after day.

“You ask, ‘How have we robbed You?’

“The tithe and the offering—that’s how! And now you’re under a curse—the whole lot of you—because you’re robbing Me. Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in My Temple.

Test Me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams.

For My part, I will defend you against marauders, protect your wheat fields and vegetable gardens against plunderers.”

The Message of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

“You’ll be voted ‘Happiest Nation.’ You’ll experience what it’s like to be a country of grace.” God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so.

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The Difference Between Serving God and Not Serving Him

God says, “You have spoken hard, rude words to Me.

“You ask, ‘When did we ever do that?’

 “When you said, ‘It doesn’t pay to serve God. What do we ever get out of it?

When we did what He said and went around with long faces, serious about God-of-the-Angel-Armies, what difference did it make? Those who take life into their own hands are the lucky ones. They break all the rules and get ahead anyway.

They push God to the limit and get by with it.’”

 Then those whose lives honored God got together and talked it over.

God saw what they were doing and listened in.

A book was opened in God’s presence and minutes were taken of the meeting,

with the names of the God-fearers written down, all the names of those who honored God’s name.

 God-of-the-Angel-Armies said, “They’re Mine, all Mine. They’ll get special treatment when I go into action.

I treat them with the same consideration and kindness that parents give the child who honors them.

Once more you’ll see the difference it makes between being a person who does the right thing

and one who doesn’t, between serving God and not serving Him.

(Malachi 3)

It’s one thing to have a valid complaint; but another, to moan and groan over it. 

Being whiny is as a spoiled selfish child that is discontent.

We are supposed to be growing and learning how to be blameless children of God living in the midst of a corrupt, dying world system among whom we shine as pure rays of His life light.

The Word says that out of the heart the mouth speaks and it is an indicator of the underlying cause of our complaint.

Do we trust God to provide or are we selfish, bitter, murmuring whiny addicts to the world’s temporal fixes?

When we persist in going beyond a mere complaint, rehashing, it is heaping sin upon sin and opens the door to condemnation.   It pulls us off course from God’s best for our lives and distances us through the hardness of our

hearts.

Thus as the saying, “you divide, you conquer.”  The devil has gotten us to use our own thoughts and words to drive a wedge

between our Maker and His creation.

A “pity party” is always only about “whine and cheese” and getting others over to our “side.” 

But who’s on the Lord’s side?

This is the Day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!

 But when one is looking to get others sympathetic to “our: point of view, it leads them down the same dead end turning them antagonistic toward the other point of view falling into the sin of rebellion against God’s will for our lives.

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My Daddy was a wise man who lived the “Good Book“, with Proverbs being an especial favorite.  He had a saying,

God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.”

Let us pray the Lord to create in us a clean heart and renew a right, steadfast spirit to walk with Him in truth.

The Holy Spirit is given to lead and guide us into all truth every step of the way home to the Father revealing

Jesus the Son given to see us safely home.

How can we let anything less than praise out our mouths?  With such a Savior, we must not murmur.

Rather, let us learn to be joyful in His presence and content in life.

Remember, we enter His gates with thanks-giving and into His courts with praise.

Let us be happy and “rejoice always in the Lord

Let us be thankful for our blessings and be characterized by a spirit of gratitude that comes from a content heart

that rests in knowing our Father loves us and gave His best for us to have all we need in Him.

Let us never be selfish. Let us always remember what it cost the Father and the Son to bring us unto Them.

Let us no longer persist in selfish, childish talk and follow the things which make for peace and let all things be done unto edifying. 

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.

(Ephesians 4:31-32)

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Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite.

You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—

but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.

The Solution Is Life on God’s Terms

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved.

Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud.

A new power is in operation.

The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air,

freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

God went for the jugular when he sent His own Son.

He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant.

In His Son, Jesus, He personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it.

And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God!

Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.

Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God.

Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. T

hat person ignores who God is and what He is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.

But if God Himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of Him.

Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God,

the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about.

But for you who welcome Him, in whom He dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—

you yourself experience life on God’s terms.

It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life,

He’ll do the same thing in you that He did in Jesus, bringing you alive to Himself?

When God lives and breathes in you (and He does, as surely as He did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life.

With His Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all.

The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life.

God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life.

It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?

God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are.

We know who He is, and we know who we are: Father and children.

And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance!

We go through exactly what Christ goes through.

If we go through the hard times with Him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with Him!

That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times.

The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next.

Everything in creation is being more or less held back.

God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs.

But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within.

We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance.

That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother.

We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us.

But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.

If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter.

He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.

He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.

That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

God knew what He was doing from the very beginning.

He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son.

The Son stands first in the line of humanity He restored.

We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him.

After God made that decision of what His children should be like, He followed it up by calling people by name.

After He called them by name, He set them on a solid basis with Himself.

And then, after getting them established, He stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what He had begun.

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose?

If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing Himself to the worst by sending His own Son, is there anything else He wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?

And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger?

The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way!

Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing,

not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate You.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us.

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low,

thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love

because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

(Romans 8)

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Walk&Talk:  Just Live By Faith!

It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it.

We want you to walk in the footsteps of the faithful who came before you,

from whom you can learn to be steadfast in pursuing the promises of God.

The Just Live by Faith

Then the Lord answered me and said:

Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.

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CROSS-KEYS

CROSS-KEYS

In everything you do, put God first
And He will direct you
And crown your efforts with success
(Proverbs 3:6)

But the Lord is Faithful
And He will strengthen
And protect you from the evil one.
(2 Thessalonians 3:3)

God is beyond limit beyond our wildest dreams and imaginations
But He has given us His Word to teach us how to walk with Him
in spirit and in truth in accordance with His will.
These boundaries are for our certain protection.
All of our borders are IN Christ.
For it is in God that we live, move and have our BEING.

For we were created in Christ Jesus for good works to WALK therein!
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The Holy Spirit is given to lead and guide us into all truth every step of the way home in Him.

Any leaning on our own limited and blind-sighted and broad-minded so-called human “understanding” is eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and shortchanges and diverts us from God’s best for us.

His ways are not our ways and neither are His thoughts ours. His are higher than any other!

Danger lurks and sets a trap, baiting and enticing us to walk out from under the shadow of the Almighty into the sinking sand of self-satisfaction, self-preservation, self-promotion, selfishly pursuing worth less and not He who is the only Worthy One.

We must come to the place where we stop and correct course and return to the Shepherd of our souls.

To the place prepared for us. There we will find rest and refreshing for our souls.

There is no greater joy than hearing that your children are walking in the truth!
For then the Truth stands up to deliver you!
Who the Son sets free is truly free!

We must return to our first love. We love because He first loved us.

ImageEven though Jesus was God’s Son,

He learned obedience from the things He suffered.

(Hebrews 5:8)    

And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

(Philippians 2:8)

Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared.
  (Hebrews 5:7)

And being made perfect, He became the Author of Eternal Salvation unto all them that obey Him.  (Hebrews 5:9)


The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.  (Isaiah 50:5)

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.  (Isaiah 53:5)


Embrace the One who is Faithful And True.
And when you are converted, strengthen the brethren!

He is the lifter of your head And restorer of your soul

If we confess our sin He is Faithful and Just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness
If we walk in the Light as He is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another
And the Blood of Jesus cleanses us from all un-righteousness.

Like the father of the returning prodigal, He is standing at the place prepared for you
awaiting your return to a restored and revived relationship of joy and peace found only in Him.

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Run not walk back into His loving Embrace to His side where the flood of healing blood & water flows. His touch makes you WHOLE.

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.
(1 Corinthians 1:9; Deuteronomy 7:9)

The Lord Remains Faithful

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
(2 Timothy 4:17-19)

Revelation 3 8

They went to Phrygia, and then on through the region of Galatia. Their plan was to turn west into Asia province, but the Holy Spirit blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them go there either. Proceeding on through Mysia, they went down to the seaport Troas.

That night Paul had a dream: A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!

The dream gave Paul his map. We went to work at once getting things ready to cross over to Macedonia. All the pieces had come together. We knew now for sure that God had called us to preach the good news to the Europeans.
(Acts 16:6-10)

Jesus:If you judge other people, then you will find that you, too, are being judged.
Indeed, you will be judged by the very standards to which you hold other people.”

So when someone is tempted to criticize his neighbor because her house isn’t clean enough, she seems ill-tempered, or she is a bit flighty—he should remember those same standards and judgments will come back to him. No one should criticize his neighbor for being short-tempered one morning, when he is snippish and snappish and waspish all the time.

Jesus: “Why is it that you see the dust in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but you can’t see what is in your own eye? Don’t ignore the wooden plank in your eye, while you criticize the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eyelashes. That type of criticism and judgment is a sham! Remove the plank from your own eye, and then perhaps you will be able to see clearly how to help your brother flush out his sawdust.

Don’t give precious things to dogs. Don’t cast your pearls before swine. If you do, the pigs will trample the pearls with their little pigs’ feet, and then they will turn back and attack you.”

Keys-To-Success

Now Jesus returns to prayer, an important and sometimes difficult topic. Here He gives the very essence of prayer.

Just ask and it will be given to you; seek after it and you will find. Continue to knock and the door will be opened for you. All who ask receive. Those who seek, find what they seek. And he who knocks, will have the door opened.”

Think of it this way: if your son asked you for bread, would you give him a stone? Of course not—you would give him a loaf of bread. If your son asked for a fish, would you give him a snake? No, to be sure, you would give him a fish—the best fish you could find. So if you, who are sinful, know how to give your children good gifts, how much more so does your Father in heaven, who is perfect, know how to give great gifts to His children!

This is what our Scriptures come to teach: in everything, in every circumstance, do to others as you would have them do to you.

There are two paths before you; you may take only one path. One doorway is narrow. And one door is wide. Go through the narrow door. For the wide door leads to a wide path, and the wide path is broad; the wide, broad path is easy, and the wide, broad, easy path has many, many people on it; but the wide, broad, easy, crowded path leads to death. Now then that narrow door leads to a narrow road that in turn leads to life. It is hard to find that road. Not many people manage it.

Along the way, watch out for false prophets. They will come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath that quaint and innocent wool, they are hungry wolves. But you will recognize them by their fruits. You don’t find sweet, delicious grapes growing on thorny bushes, do you? You don’t find delectable figs growing in the midst of prickly thistles. People and their lives are like trees. Good trees bear beautiful, tasty fruit, but bad trees bear ugly, bitter fruit. A good tree cannot bear ugly, bitter fruit; nor can a bad tree bear fruit that is beautiful and tasty. And what happens to the rotten trees? They are cut down. They are used for firewood. When a prophet comes to you and preaches this or that, look for his fruits: sweet or sour? rotten or ripe?

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven. Simply calling Me “Lord” will not be enough. Only those who do the will of My Father who is in heaven will join Me in heaven. At the end of time, on that day of judgment, many will say to Me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name? Did we not drive demons out of the possessed in Your name? Did we not perform miracles in Your name?” But I will say to them, “I never knew you. And now, you must get away from Me, you evildoers!”

Those people who are listening to Me, those people who hear what I say and live according to My teachings—you are like a wise man who built his house on a rock, on a firm foundation. When storms hit, rain pounded down and waters rose, levies broke and winds beat all the walls of that house. But the house did not fall because it was built upon rock. Those of you who are listening and do not hear—you are like a fool who builds a house on sand. When a storm comes to his house, what will happen? The rain will fall, the waters will rise, the wind will blow, and his house will collapse with a great crash.

With that Jesus finished His teaching, and the crowds were amazed by all He had said. 29 But Jesus taught in His own name, on His own authority, not like the scribes.

(Matthew 7)

And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

A mercy you don’t give is a mercy you don’t get

You promised that the lame would walk
You promised that the blind would see
You promised that the dead would rise
You are not a man that You should lie
You are the Resurrection And the Life
No man comes to the Father but through You
You are the Way,
You are the Truth,
And You are the Life.
It’s the Presence of Your Promise and the Promise of Your Presence!
You are Faithful And True
You are with us every step of the Way with Your Holy Spirit leading and guiding us into all Truth walking in Victorious Abundance of Everlasting Life!

They journey from place to place, gaining strength along the way;
until they meet God in Zion. (Psalm 84:7)

I look to You alone for You alone are the Author And Finisher of Faith.
This is the Victory that overcomes the world–even our faith!
Where is my faith? I find it only in You for You are the Source of all living!
I receive the hand of Your correction seeing it as a great kindness training me how to live with You aright anew. You are training me how to walk in spirit and in truth in the
light of Your eternal presence knowing You are with me every step of the way.
You are raising me to walk with You on the high places.
You train my hands for war and my fingers for battle.
For the battle belongs to the LORD!
The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds and every high thing that exalts its self against the knowledge of God!

 Regarding this next item, I’m not at all pleased. I am getting the picture that when you meet together it brings out your worst side instead of your best! First, I get this report on your divisiveness, competing with and criticizing each other. I’m reluctant to believe it, but there it is. The best that can be said for it is that the testing process will bring truth into the open and confirm it. 20-22 And then I find that you bring your divisions to worship—you come together, and instead of eating the Lord’s Supper, you bring in a lot of food from the outside and make pigs of yourselves. Some are left out, and go home hungry. Others have to be carried out, too drunk to walk. I can’t believe it! Don’t you have your own homes to eat and drink in? Why would you stoop to desecrating God’s church? Why would you actually shame God’s poor? I never would have believed you would stoop to this. And I’m not going to stand by and say nothing. 23-26 Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord’s Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me. After supper, he did the same thing with the cup: This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink this cup, remember me. What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt. 27-28 Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe. 29-32 If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences. That’s why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave. If we get this straight now, we won’t have to be straightened out later on. Better to be confronted by the Master now than to face a fiery confrontation later. 33-34 So, my friends, when you come together to the Lord’s Table, be reverent and courteous with one another. If you’re so hungry that you can’t wait to be served, go home and get a sandwich. But by no means risk turning this Meal into an eating and drinking binge or a family squabble. It is a spiritual meal—a love feast.

Regarding this next item, I’m not at all pleased. I am getting the picture that when you meet together it brings out your worst side instead of your best! First, I get this report on your divisiveness, competing with and criticizing each other. I’m reluctant to believe it, but there it is. The best that can be said for it is that the testing process will bring truth into the open and confirm it.
20-22 And then I find that you bring your divisions to worship—you come together, and instead of eating the Lord’s Supper, you bring in a lot of food from the outside and make pigs of yourselves. Some are left out, and go home hungry. Others have to be carried out, too drunk to walk. I can’t believe it! Don’t you have your own homes to eat and drink in? Why would you stoop to desecrating God’s church? Why would you actually shame God’s poor? I never would have believed you would stoop to this. And I’m not going to stand by and say nothing.
23-26 Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord’s Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said,
This is my body, broken for you.
Do this to remember me.
After supper, he did the same thing with the cup:
This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you.
Each time you drink this cup, remember me.
What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt.
27-28 Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.
29-32 If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences. That’s why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave. If we get this straight now, we won’t have to be straightened out later on. Better to be confronted by the Master now than to face a fiery confrontation later.
33-34 So, my friends, when you come together to the Lord’s Table, be reverent and courteous with one another. If you’re so hungry that you can’t wait to be served, go home and get a sandwich. But by no means risk turning this Meal into an eating and drinking binge or a family squabble. It is a spiritual meal—a love feast.

So now listen to me, my children:
those who live by my ways will find true happiness.
Pay attention to my guidance, dare to be wise,
and don’t disregard my teachings.
The one who listens to me,
who carefully seeks me in everyday things
and delays action until my way is apparent, that one will find true happiness.
For when he recognizes and follows me, he finds a peaceful and satisfying life
and receives favor from the Eternal.
But heed my warning: the one who goes against me will only hurt himself,
for all who despise me are playing with fire and courting death.
(Proverbs 8:32-36)

BE THANKFUL UNTO HIM & BLESS HIS HOLY NAME (PHOTO)
FOR THE LORD IS GOOD & GREATLY TO BE PRAISED
NO GOOD THING DOES HE WITHHOLD FROM THOSE
WHO WALK UPRIGHTLY WITH HIM.

Psalm 100: A song of thanks.

Psalm 100 is one of the best known and most loved psalms. This hymn of thanksgiving invites the whole world to come to God’s temple in Jerusalem and enter its sacred spaces with unbridled joy and hearts filled with gratitude. And why should we? The psalm provides the answer. Not only has God created us—a gracious act of love in and of itself—but He has made us His own people. He has chosen us and loved us. As with Psalm 23, God’s people are cast in the role as sheep living well in His pasture.

The psalm ends on a high note of confidence and hope. At all times—but perhaps more in times of difficulty—we need to be reminded of what is true. Regardless of what seems to be happening around us, the Eternal is good; His love and faithfulness will endure forever.

Raise your voices;
make a beautiful noise to the Eternal, all the earth.
Serve the Eternal gladly;
enter into His presence singing songs of joy!

Know this: the Eternal One Himself is the True God.
He is the One who made us;
we have not made ourselves;
we are His people, like sheep grazing in His fields.

Go through His gates, giving thanks;
walk through His courts, giving praise.
Offer Him your gratitude and praise His holy name.

Because the Eternal is good,
His loyal love and mercy will never end,
and His truth will last throughout all generations.

GRUMBLING, COMPLAINING, BACKBITING, ACCUSING, QUESTIONING, WONDERING, ALL NEGATIVE THOUGHT AND TALK SHUTS US OUT OF
THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD FOR THOSE THAT COME TO HIM MUST BELIEVE
THAT HE IS AND THAT HE IS A REWARDER OF THOSE THAT DILIGENTLY
SEEK HIM!
SEEK HIS FACE AND LIVE!
THIS IS THE GENERATION OF JACOB THAT SEEK HIS FACE AND LIVE!
JACOB WHO SAW HIS FACE IN HIS WRESTLING FOR THE BLESSING OF THE LORD
AND IN THE CONFESSION OF HIS SIN TOWARDS HIS BROTHER, HE RECEIVED THE
BLESSING OF THE LORD AND WAS GIVEN A NEW NAME, “ISRAEL” A PRIEST AND KING UNTO THE LORD, AN OVERCOMING VICTORIOUS PILLAR IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD.

‘I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”

Again I hear the Voice of the Lord saying, “in everything you do put God first and He will direct you And crown your efforts with success!

 

All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God--the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.

All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God–the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.

The Changeless Christ

You are the Endlessness
From Everlasting to Everlasting You are Lord
You are the Author And Finisher of Faith

Let love of the brethren continue.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, (Remember 1 Samuel 30!)

for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated,

since you yourselves also are in the body.

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said,

I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What will man do to me?”

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.

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God-pleasing Sacrifices

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.

And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account.

Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.

And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner.

Benediction

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. Take notice that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom, if he comes soon, I will see you. Greet all of your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.

Grace be with you all.
(Hebrews 13)

THE VERY SAME JESUS WHO DIED IS DYING TO BE WITH YOU (

 

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross! But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.  Therefore it says, "WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN." 9(Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross!
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” 9(Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?

 

Kevin Prosch – Come Down Lyrics

Into my hands have come many things
You should be disappointed
For I have wasted most of these
My innocence and youth, I poured them out like water
And to think to you that I am
Still worth saving from the fire, God

Come down and meet with me
You make my day so sweet
Inflame my soul oh God, with a cry for purity
Like horses that are yoked, to the chariots of kings
Hook me up to Your heart, never to be free

Too many compromises to get me through the day
Help me make the choices, sometimes I am afraid
When I’m deaf to everything but the cry of my own pain
Give me the grace to trust You, I cannot walk away
Don’t disappoint me God, not while I am
Not while I am trusting You again
If I fall down in darkness and this weakness comes to me

Hold the scepter out to come banging on Your door
I’m banging on Your door

Come down from the top of that mountain
Rise up from the bottom of the sea
I empty out the pockets of my life
With nothing to bring but my iniquities

I can’t wait to lay my head down on Your breast
I want to see your face, kiss the nail marks in Your hands
People think you’re just an image from a time so long ago
Not the God who I believe in whom re-aranged my world
Because the death and resurrection of Your beloved son
And the mystery of the cross, and the power of His blood
You changed the things about me I could not change myself
And You loved me in my sin, You’re the God of all my help
And in my darkest hour, if weakness comes to me

Hold the scepter out to come banging on Your door
I’m banging on Your door

Come down from the top of that mountain
Rise up from the bottom of the sea
I empty out the pockets of my life
With nothing to bring but my iniquities

Come down oh Heavenly Father
Rise up on the inside of me
I empty out the pockets of my life
With nothing to bring but my iniquities

Unity in His Body Truly are Communion is with God the Father in Jesus the Son! How wonderful, how beautiful,     when brothers and sisters get along! It’s like costly anointing oil     flowing down head and beard, Flowing down Aaron’s beard,     flowing down the collar of his priestly robes. It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon     flowing down the slopes of Zion. Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing,     ordains eternal life.

Unity in His Body
Truly are Communion is with God the Father in Jesus the Son!
How wonderful, how beautiful,
when brothers and sisters get along!
It’s like costly anointing oil
flowing down head and beard,
Flowing down Aaron’s beard,
flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.
It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon
flowing down the slopes of Zion.
Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing,
ordains eternal life.

8247546922_3f36bd0056Thanksgiving and Prayer

Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints;

because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the Word of Truth, the Gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the Grace of God in Truth

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the Message of Truth, the Gospel of your Salvation.

When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.

He set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles,

because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged.

Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!  (Colossians 1:4-6; Ephesians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Romans 5:3-5)

To the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

In Him, you also, after listening to the Message of Truth, the Gospel of your Salvation– having also believed,

you were Sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance,

with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God.  (Isaiah 10:21)

“For My own name’s sake I delay My wrath; for the sake of My praise I hold it back from you, so as not to destroy you completely.”

(Isaiah 48:9)

“As soon as the grain is ripe, He puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

“Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow– so great is their wickedness!”

(Mark 4:29; Joel 3:13)

 Image

Judgments and Promises

Both their own iniquities and the iniquities of their fathers together,” says the LORD.

“Because they have burned incense on the mountains And scorned Me on the hills,

Therefore I will measure their former work into their bosom.”

Thus says the LORD, “As the new wine is found in the cluster, And one says, ‘Do not destroy it, for there is benefit in it,’

So I will act on behalf of My servants In order not to destroy all of them.

“I will bring forth offspring from Jacob, And an heir of My mountains from Judah; Even My chosen ones shall inherit it,

And My servants will dwell there.  (Isaiah 65:7-9)

 Every word you give me is a miracle word—     how could I help but obey? Break open your words, let the light shine out,     let ordinary people see the meaning. Mouth open and panting,     I wanted your commands more than anything. Turn my way, look kindly on me,     as you always do to those who personally love you. Steady my steps with your Word of promise     so nothing malign gets the better of me. Rescue me from the grip of bad men and women     so I can live life your way. Smile on me, your servant;     teach me the right way to live. I cry rivers of tears     because nobody’s living by your book!

Every word you give me is a miracle word—
how could I help but obey?
Break open your words, let the light shine out,
let ordinary people see the meaning.
Mouth open and panting,
I wanted your commands more than anything.
Turn my way, look kindly on me,
as you always do to those who personally love you.
Steady my steps with your Word of promise
so nothing malign gets the better of me.
Rescue me from the grip of bad men and women
so I can live life your way.
Smile on me, your servant;
teach me the right way to live.
I cry rivers of tears
because nobody’s living by your book!

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence.”  (Daniel 7:13)

I, Paul, am under God’s plan as an apostle, a special agent of Christ Jesus, writing to you faithful believers in Ephesus. I greet you with the grace and peace poured into our lives by God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ.

The God of Glory

How blessed is God! And what a blessing He is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in Him. Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure He took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of His lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, His blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans He took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in Him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.

Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.

It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation),

found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit.

This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

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 That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing Him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is He is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life He has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of His work in us who trust Him—endless energy, boundless strength!

 All this energy issues from Christ: God raised Him from death and set Him on a throne in deep heaven,

in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from His rule.

And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything.

At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church.

The church is Christ’s body, in which He speaks and acts, by which He fills everything with His presence.

(Ephesians 1)

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True peace begins with knowing God. Those who listen and live by His teachings find that wholeness and goodness flood into their lives. The wicked, however, face a different reality; they live with constant danger and problems.

 Listen to this, everyone—near and far:
    The Eternal One singled me out, even before I was born.
He called me and named me when I was still in my mother’s belly.
 Even then, God was preparing my mouth to speak like a sharp sword.
    He kept my purpose quiet, kept me safe in the shadow of His hand,
He crafted me into a sharp-tipped arrow and tucked me away in His quiver;
 God said to me, “You are My servant, Israel.
    Through you, I will be glorified.”
  I said, “I’ve worked hard for nothing.
    I spent my strength, and what have I accomplished—nothing,
Yet my justice and reward are secure with my God, the Eternal One.”
 And now the Eternal who watched, shaped, and made me His own servant
    from the womb has determined to restore Jacob’s family;
Israel will be made right with the Eternal again.
    For God has counted me worthy and He has been my strength right along.

  Eternal One: As My servant you will do even more than this,
        even more than restoring Jacob’s family to Me
    And making Israel right with Me again.
        I will make you a light for the nations,
    And You will illumine them until My salvation reaches to the ends of the earth.[a]

 This is what the Eternal One, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel,
    told to the one who is despised and loathed by the nation,
To the servant of national leaders.

Eternal One: At the sight of you, kings will rise and princes will bow down,
        for I, the Eternal, faithful and true, the Holy One of Israel, have chosen you.

The Eternal has this to say:

 Eternal One: When the time was right, I answered you;
        on the day you were delivered, I was your help.
    I will watch over you, and give you
        as a promise, a binding covenant to the people.
    Through you, My gift to the people, the land of promise will recover.
        Ancestral ground, once deserted, will be entrusted to them.
 Through you, My gift to the people, I will declare to the prisoners,
        “Come out. Now you are free”;
    To those who are held in darkness, “Come out into the light.
        They will find sustenance wherever they are
    Along the roads or in the open hills—
        with peace of mind, in comfort and security.
 Wherever they are, they will be fine, never hungry nor thirsty.
        They will be protected from oppressive heat and the burning sun
    Because the One who loves them—as a mother loves her child—will be their guide.
        God will lead them to restful places, rejuvenating springs of water.
   I will make their going easy, level the mountain road
        and smooth the path that leads them home.
 Look! Even now, they are coming from lands far away,
        some from the north, others from the west, these from the land of Sinim.[c]

  Oh joy! Be glad—sky! Take joy—earth! Burst into song—mountains!
    For the Eternal, moved to compassion, has comforted and consoled His people.

There are many kinds of love—and not enough words to tell the differences.

Hebrew has a word for “love” that is related to its word for a woman’s womb. English has no such word.

It is too bad, for it is difficult to describe womb-love, the bearing-and-birthing love of a mother, the kind of love that the Lord has for the people of God’s promise, Jacob’s children.

God shaped this people as His own and bound them with no ordinary promise.

God loves them in the same way a mother loves the child growing in her womb.

It can’t be said so neatly and completely with one “love” word, but that is the idea that threads its way through this text.

  Zion: The Eternal One has abandoned me. God has walked out the door;
        my Lord left me alone. He has forgotten all about me.

 Eternal One: Is it possible for a mother, however disappointed,
        however hurt, to forget her nursing child?
    Can she feel nothing for the baby she carried and birthed?
        Even if she could, I, God, will never forget you.
 Look here. I have made you a part of Me, written you on the palms of My hands.
        Your city walls are always on My mind, always My concern.
 Now sweet Zion your children are running pell-mell back to you
    Just as fast as those who destroyed you are leaving.
 Raise your head, lift up your eyes,
        and watch your heart’s desire come
    All your children, gathered and returning to you. As I live, so I promise.
        You will wear them with pride all like shining ornaments;
        you will put them on as a bride on her wedding day.
 Because of all of your destroyed land—the barren fields and abandoned farms—
        you are now too small, too cramped for all your citizens;
    And those who tried to swallow you whole will be far, far away.
 The children you mourned, those born in exile, will return and say,
        “It is too cramped and crowded for us;
    We’re going to need more room if we are to live here.”
 You’ll say to yourself, “Where in the world did all these people come from?
        Could these really be mine?
    I thought I’d been desolated, left empty.
        Where have you all been? Where did you come from?”

This is what the Lord, the Eternal, has to say:

Eternal One: I will lift My hand and signal every nation that holds your people
    And they will bring your children back again:
        boys bundled in their arms, girls riding on their shoulders.
 Kings will tend the children of Zion, and their queens will nurse and nurture them.
        These greats will humble themselves before you.
    They will bow and lick the dust off your feet,
        and in the course of it all, you will remember that I am the Eternal.
    Whoever trusts in Me will never be put to shame.

Jerusalem: Can the spoil of war be taken from the mighty?
        Can the captives be freed from the hand of a tyrant?

Eternal One: Hard to believe, but it shall be so.
        The captives will be taken from the hand of the mighty,
    And the spoil of war will be rescued from the tyrant.
        I will liberate them from their captors and contend with your enemies.
    I will save your children.
I will turn your enemies’ violence back on themselves,
        and they will suffer their own atrocities:
    They will feed on their own flesh and drink their own blood like wine.
        Then every person on earth will know for certain that I, the Eternal, am your Savior.
    I am your hero, the strong One of Jacob from whom you come.
        I will rescue you, whatever the price.

(Isaiah 49)

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription:

The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”  (2 Timothy 2:19)

Everyone on earth whose name was not written from the world’s foundation in the slaughtered Lamb’s Book of Life will worship the Beast.

Are you listening to this? They’ve made their bed; now they must lie in it.

Anyone marked for prison goes straight to prison; anyone pulling a sword goes down by the sword.

Meanwhile, God’s holy people passionately and faithfully stand their ground.

 The endurance and faithfulness of the saints will be tested here.

(Revelation 13:8-10)

Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.'

Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’

The Woman, Her Son, and the Dragon

 A great Sign appeared in Heaven: a Woman dressed all in sunlight, standing on the moon, and crowned with Twelve Stars. She was giving birth to a Child and cried out in the pain of childbirth.

And then another Sign alongside the first: a huge and fiery Dragon! It had seven heads and ten horns, a crown on each of the seven heads. With one flick of its tail it knocked a third of the Stars from the sky and dumped them on earth. The Dragon crouched before the Woman in childbirth, poised to eat up the Child when it came.

The Woman gave birth to a Son who will shepherd all nations with an iron rod. Her Son was seized and placed safely before God on his Throne. The Woman herself escaped to the desert to a place of safety prepared by God, all comforts provided her for 1,260 days.

 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.

When the Dragon saw he’d been thrown to earth, he went after the Woman who had given birth to the Man-Child.

The Woman was given wings of a great eagle to fly to a place in the desert to be kept in safety and comfort for a time and times and half a time, safe and sound from the Serpent.

The Serpent vomited a river of water to swamp and drown her, but earth came to her help, swallowing the water the Dragon spewed from its mouth. Helpless with rage, the Dragon raged at the Woman, then went off to make war with the rest of her children, the children who keep God’s commands and hold firm to the witness of Jesus.

(Revelation 12)

The Servants of God

Immediately I saw Four Angels standing at the four corners of earth, standing steady with a firm grip on the four winds so no wind would blow on earth or sea, not even rustle a tree.

Then I saw another Angel rising from where the sun rose, carrying the seal of the Living God. He thundered to the Four Angels assigned the task of hurting earth and sea, “Don’t hurt the earth! Don’t hurt the sea! Don’t so much as hurt a tree until I’ve sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads!”

 I heard the count of those who were sealed: 144,000! They were sealed out of every Tribe of Israel: 12,000 sealed from Judah, 12,000 from Reuben, 12,000 from Gad, 12,000 from Asher, 12,000 from Naphtali, 12,000 from Manasseh, 12,000 from Simeon, 12,000 from Levi, 12,000 from Issachar, 12,000 from Zebulun, 12,000 from Joseph, 12,000 sealed from Benjamin.

 I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing:

Salvation to our God on his Throne!
Salvation to the Lamb!

All who were standing around the Throne—Angels, Elders, Animals—fell on their faces before the Throne and worshiped God, singing:

Oh, Yes!
The blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving,
The honor and power and strength,
To our God forever and ever and ever!
Oh, Yes!

 Just then one of the Elders addressed me: “Who are these dressed in white robes, and where did they come from?” Taken aback, I said, “O Sir, I have no idea—but you must know.”

Then he told me, “These are those who come from the great tribulation, and they’ve washed their robes, scrubbed them clean in the blood of the Lamb. That’s why they’re standing before God’s Throne. They serve him day and night in his Temple. The One on the Throne will pitch his tent there for them: no more hunger, no more thirst, no more scorching heat. The Lamb on the Throne will shepherd them, will lead them to spring waters of Life. And God will wipe every last tear from their eyes.”

(Revelation 7)

He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created.  (James 1:18)

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The Harvest of the Earth

Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man,

having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.

And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud,

“Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.”

Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle,

“Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.”

 

(Revelation 14:14-15; 18)
Revelation 14:20
They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.

Revelation 19:15
Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.

Genesis 18:20
Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous

Isaiah 17:5
It will be as when reapers harvest the standing grain, gathering the grain in their arms– as when someone gleans heads of grain in the Valley of Rephaim.

Isaiah 63:3
“I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing.

Jeremiah 51:33
This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Daughter Babylon is like a threshing floor at the time it is trampled; the time to harvest her will soon come.”

Lamentations 1:15
“The Lord has rejected all the warriors in my midst; he has summoned an army against me to crush my young men. In his winepress the Lord has trampled Virgin Daughter Judah.

Hosea 6:11
“Also for you, Judah, a harvest is appointed. “Whenever I would restore the fortunes of my people,

Unless the LORD Almighty had left us some survivors,

we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.  (Isaiah 1:9)

 “The One who comes from above is head and shoulders over other messengers from God.

The earthborn is earthbound and speaks earth language; the heavenborn is in a league of His own.

He sets out the evidence of what He saw and heard in heaven. No one wants to deal with these facts.

But anyone who examines this evidence will come to stake his life on this: that God Himself is the Truth.

 “The One that God sent speaks God’s words. And don’t think He rations out the Spirit in bits and pieces.

The Father loves the Son extravagantly. He turned everything over to Him so He could give it away—a lavish distribution of gifts.

That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever!

And that is also why the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn’t see life.

All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that.”  (John 3:31-36)

 

 

“Whatever He tells you, do it.”

“Whatever He tells you, do it.”

 

A True Leader

We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him

and are chosen to be a part of His plan. 

God knew from the beginning who would put their trust in Him.

So He chose them and made them to be like His Son.

Christ was first and all those who belong to God are His brothers. 

He called to Himself also those He chose. Those He called, He made right with Himself.

Then He shared His shining-greatness with those He made right with Himself

(Romans 8:28-30)

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The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper

I have given you the teaching I received from the Lord.

The night Jesus was handed over to the soldiers, He took bread.

When He had given thanks, He broke it and said,

Take this bread and eat it. This is My body which is broken for you. Do this to remember Me.”

 In the same way after supper, He took the cup.

He said,

This cup is the New Way of Worship made between God and you by My blood.

Whenever you drink it, do it to remember Me.”

Every time you eat this bread and drink from this cup you are telling of the Lord’s death until He comes again.

Anyone who eats the bread or drinks from the cup,

if his spirit is not right with the Lord, will be guilty of sinning against the body and the blood of the Lord. 

This is why a man should look into his own heart and life before eating the bread and drinking from the cup. 

Anyone who eats the bread and drinks from the cup,

if his spirit is not right with the Lord, will be guilty as he eats and drinks.

He does not understand the meaning of the Lord’s body

This is why some of you are sick and weak, and some have died. 

But if we would look into our own lives and see if we are guilty, then God would not have to say we are guilty. 

When we are guilty, we are punished by the Lord so we will not be told we are guilty with the rest of the world.

Christian brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. 

If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home. Then he will not be guilty as you meet together.

 

(1 Corinthians 11:23-33)

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Do not work hard to be rich. Stop trying to get things for yourself.

When you set your eyes upon it, it is gone.

For sure, riches make themselves wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.

(Proverbs 23:4-5)

The Picture-Story of the Three Servants and the Money

 “For the holy nation of heaven is like a man who was going to a country far away.

He called together the servants he owned and gave them his money to use.

He gave to one servant five pieces of money worth much. He gave to another servant two pieces of money worth much.

He gave to another servant one piece of money worth much.

He gave to each one as he was able to use it. Then he went on his trip.

The servant who had the five pieces of money went out to the stores and traded until he made five more pieces. 

The servant who had two pieces of money did the same thing. He made two more pieces. 

The servant who had received the one piece of money went and hid the money in a hole in the ground.

He hid his owner’s money.

 “After a long time the owner of those servants came back. He wanted to know what had been done with his money. 

The one who had received the five pieces of money worth much came and handed him five pieces more.

He said, ‘Sir, you gave me five pieces of money. See! I used it and made five more pieces.’ 

His owner said to him, ‘You have done well. You are a good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things.

I will put many things in your care. Come and share my joy.’ 

The one who received two pieces of money worth much came also.

He said, ‘Sir, you gave me two pieces of money. See! I used it and made two more pieces.’ 

His owner said to him, ‘You have done well. You are a good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things.

I will put many things in your care. Come and share my joy.’ 

The one who had received one piece of money worth much came.

He said, ‘Sir, I know that you are a hard man. You gather grain where you have not planted.

You take up where you have not spread out. I was afraid and I hid your money in the ground. See! Here is your money.

His owner said to him, ‘You bad and lazy servant. You knew that I gather grain where I have not planted.

You knew that I take up where I have not spread out. 

You should have taken my money to the bank.

When I came back, I could have had my own money and what the bank paid for using it. 

Take the one piece of money from him. Give it to the one who has ten pieces of money.’ 

For the man who has will have more given to him. He will have more than enough.

The man who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.

Throw the bad servant out into the darkness. There will be loud crying and grinding of teeth.

(Matthew 25:14-30)

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God blesses those who hunger and thirst for His justice (His righteousness), for they will be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6)
 

Those Who Trust in God Are Happy

I will honor the Lord at all times. His praise will always be in my mouth.

My soul will be proud to tell about the Lord. Let those who suffer hear it and be filled with joy. 

Give great honor to the Lord with me. Let us praise His name together.

I looked for the Lord, and He answered me. And He took away all my fears.

They looked to Him and their faces shined with joy. Their faces will never be ashamed.

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him. And He saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord stays close around those who fear Him, and He takes them out of trouble.

O taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who trusts in Him!

O fear the Lord, all you who belong to Him. For those who fear Him never want for anything.

The young lions suffer want and hunger. But they who look for the Lord will not be without any good thing.

Come, you children, listen to me. I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 

Who is the man who has a desire for life, and wants to live long so that he may see good things?

Keep your tongue from sin and your lips from speaking lies. 

Turn away from what is sinful. Do what is good. Look for peace and follow it.

The eyes of the Lord are on those who do what is right and good. His ears are open to their cry. 

The face of the Lord is against those who sin. He will keep the people of the earth from remembering them. 

Those who are right with the Lord cry, and He hears them. And He takes them from all their troubles. 

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart. And He saves those who are broken in spirit.

A man who does what is right and good may have many troubles. But the Lord takes him out of them all. 

He keeps all his bones safe. Not one of them is broken.

Sin will kill the sinful. And those who hate God’s people will be held guilty and punished forever.

The Lord saves the soul of those who work for Him. None of those who trust in Him will be held guilty.

(Psalm 34)

True leadership is showing others the way the truth and the life

Do they see Jesus in you?

He will come to be seen in His children.

Choose to consistently be a light in a dark place!

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For the worship leader. A song of David.

The celestial realms announce God’s glory;
    the skies testify of His hands’ great work.
 Each day pours out more of their sayings;
    each night, more to hear and more to learn.
Inaudible words are their manner of speech,
    and silence, their means to convey.
Yet from here to the ends of the earth, their voices  have gone out;
    the whole world can hear what they say. 

God stretched out in these heavens a tent for the sun,
And the sun is like a groom
    who, after leaving his room, arrives at the wedding in splendor;
He is the strong runner
    who, favored to win in his race, is eager to face his challenge.
 He rises at one end of the skies
    and runs in an arc overhead;
    nothing can hide from his heat, from the swelter of his daily tread.

The Eternal’s law is perfect,
    turning lives around.
His words are reliable and true,
    instilling wisdom to open minds.
The Eternal’s directions are correct,
    giving satisfaction to the heart.
God’s commandments are clear,
    lending clarity to the eyes.
The awe of the Eternal is clean,
    sustaining for all of eternity.
The Eternal’s decisions are sound;
    they are right through and through.
They are worth more than gold—
    even more than abundant, pure gold.
They are sweeter to the tongue than honey
    or the drippings of the honeycomb.

 In addition to all that has been said,
    Your servant will find, hidden in Your commandments, both a strong warning
    and a great reward for keeping them.
Who could possibly know all that he has done wrong?
    Forgive my hidden and unknown faults.
As I am Your servant, protect me from my bent toward pride,
    and keep sin from ruling my life.
If You do this, I will be without blame,
    innocent of the great breach.

May the words that come out of my mouth and the musings of my heart
    meet with Your gracious approval,
    O Eternal, my Rock,
    O Eternal, my Redeemer.

(Psalm 19)

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Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You

To see You high and lifted up
Shinin’ in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing holy, holy, holy

(Michael W. Smith~Open the Eyes of My Heart)

True Fasts and Sabbaths
…”Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house;

When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

“Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth;

And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

“Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

If you remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,…

(Isaiah 58:7-9)

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So watch! You do not know what day or what hour the Son of Man is coming!  (Matthew 25:13)

until finally we all believe alike about our salvation and about our Savior, God’s Son,

and all become full-grown in the Lord—yes, to the point of being filled full with Christ.

Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. 

Instead, we will lovingly follow the truth at all times

—speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly—

and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of his body, the Church.

Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly,

and each part in its own special way helps the other parts, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.  (Ephesians 4:13-15)

Footnotes:  speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly, Amplified New Testament.  (Ephesians 4:15)

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God’s plan to restore the world disfigured by sin and death reaches its climax with the resurrection of Jesus.

When the King enters, all the prophecies, all the hopes, all the longings find in Him their true fulfillment.

There may have been earlier fulfillments; but these are only partial fulfillments, signposts along the way to God’s true goal. The goal has been the restoration of people to a holy God.

With Jesus, we find the only perfect man with right standing before God.

He comes to blaze a path defined by God’s justice, not by our own sense of right and wrong.

All men, women, and children who commit their lives to Him will be made right with God

and will begin new lives defined by faith and God’s new covenant.

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But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust?

And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted?

And how can they hear if nobody tells them?

And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?

That’s why Scripture exclaims,

A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
    telling all the good things of God!

But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act.

Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another:

“Does anyone care, God?

Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?”

The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen.

But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.

(Romans 10:14-17)

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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,  (Psalm 107:3)

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 roadthat 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.

(Psalm 107:4-8)

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!

(Psalm 107:10-16)

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!

(Psalm 107:17-22)

If you are really wise, you’ll think this over—
    it’s time you appreciated God’s deep love.

(Psalm 107:43)

God Keeps His Own

I did not give up waiting for the Lord. And He turned to me and heard my cry.

He brought me up out of the hole of danger, out of the mud and clay. He set my feet on a rock, making my feet sure

He put a new song in my mouth,

a song of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear and will put their trust in the Lord.  (Psalm 40:1-3)

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Faith is not something we do. It is a response to what God has done already on our behalf,

the response of a spirit restless in a fragmented world.

The Holy Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears, say, “Come!

Let the one who is thirsty, come. Let the one who wants to drink of the water of life, drink it. It is a free gift.

(Revelation 22:17)

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Love so deeply, purely, and sacrificially that we can understand it only when we compare it to the love the Anointed One has

for His bride, the church.

We know He gave Himself up completely to make her His own, washing her clean of all her impurity with water

and the powerful presence of His word.

 

Developing Patience

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with Him, make us fit for Him—

we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus.

And that’s not all:

We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that He has already thrown open His door to us.

We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand

out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.  (Romans 5:1-2)

It is Good to Sing Praises to Our God

He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man.

The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His loving kindness.

Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion!

(Psalm 147:10-12)

Sing to the Lord a New Song!

Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre.

For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.

Let the godly ones exult in glory; Let them sing for joy on their beds.  (Psalm 149:3-5)

Song of Thanks for Being Kept Safe

I love You, O Lord, my strength.   The Lord is my rock, and my safe place, and the One Who takes me out of trouble.

My God is my rock, in Whom I am safe. He is my safe-covering, my saving strength, and my strong tower. 

I call to the Lord, Who has the right to be praised. And I am saved from those who hate me.  (Psalm 18:1-3)

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As for God, His way is perfect. The Word of the Lord has stood the test. He is a covering for all who go to Him for a safe place. For Who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock except our God? 

It is God Who covers me with strength and makes my way perfect.

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer.

And He sets me on my high places. 

He teaches me how to fight, so that I can use a bow of brass. 

You have also given me the covering that saves me. Your right hand holds me up. And Your care has made me great. 

You make the road wide for my steps, and my feet have not tripped.  (Psalm 18:30-36)

How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of the messenger bringing good news,
Breaking the news that all’s well,
    proclaiming good times, announcing salvation,
    telling Zion, “Your God reigns!
Voices! Listen! Your scouts are shouting, thunderclap shouts,
    shouting in joyful unison.
They see with their own eyes
    God coming back to Zion.
Break into song! Boom it out, ruins of Jerusalem:
    God has comforted His people!
    He’s redeemed Jerusalem!
God has rolled up His sleeves.
    All the nations can see His holy, muscled arm.
Everyone, from one end of the earth to the other,
    sees Him at work, doing His salvation work.

(Isaiah 52:7-10)

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You make known to me the path of life;

You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.  (Psalm 16:11)

The LORD delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.  (Psalm 147:11)

Things God Gives the Christian to Fight With

This is the last thing I want to say: Be strong with the Lord’s strength. Put on the things God gives you to fight with.

Then you will not fall into the traps of the devil. 

Our fight is not with people. It is against the leaders and the powers and the spirits of darkness in this world.

It is against the demon world that works in the heavens. Because of this, put on all the things God gives you to fight with. Then you will be able to stand in that sinful day. When it is all over, you will still be standing.

So stand up and do not be moved.

Wear a belt of truth around your body. Wear a piece of iron over your chest which is being right with God.  

Wear shoes on your feet which are the Good News of peace. 

Most important of all, you need a covering of faith in front of you. This is to put out the fire-arrows of the devil. 

The covering for your head is that you have been saved from the punishment of sin.

Take the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  (Ephesians 6:10-17)

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Man proposes, but God disposes.

LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.  (Jeremiah 10:23)

People might make many plans, but what the Lord says is what will happen.  (Proverbs 19:21)

But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.
(Psalm 33:11)

The steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take.  (Psalm 37:23)

He will guard the feet of His faithful servants, but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness.

“It is not by strength that one prevails.”  (1 Samuel 2:9)

Who, then, are those who fear the LORD? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.  (Psalm 25:12)

The teachings of his God are in his heart.
    His feet do not slip.  (Psalm 37:31)

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He preserves our lives
and keeps our feet from stumbling.  (Psalm 66:9)

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 regrets
    in 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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He who Shared My Bread Lifts his Heel 

But You, O Lord, be gracious to me and raise me up.  That I may repay them.

By this I know that You are pleased with me, Because my enemy does not shout in triumph over me.

As for me, You uphold me in my integrity.  And you set me in Your presence forever.

(Psalm 41:10-12)

Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help.

By this I will know that God is for me.  (Psalm 56:9)

Now this I know: The LORD gives victory to His anointed.

He answers him from His heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of His right hand.  (Psalm 20:6)
 

I went after those who fight against me, and caught them. And I did not return until they were destroyed. 

I hit them so they were not able to rise.

They fell under my feet. 

You have given me strength for war. You have put under me those who have fought against me. 

You have made them turn their backs to me also. And I destroyed those who hated me. 

They cried for help, but there was no one to save. They cried to the Lord, but He did not answer them. 

Then I beat them as small as the dust in the wind. I emptied them out like mud in the streets.  (Psalm 18:37-42)

The Great Day of the Lord

See, the day is coming. It is burning like a hot fire. And all those who are proud and those who do wrong will be like dry grass. The day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord of All. “Not a root or branch will be left to them.

But for you who fear My name, the sun of what is right and good will rise with healing in its wings.

And you will go out and dance like calves from the cattle-house. 

You will crush the sinful under foot. They will be ashes under your feet on the day when I do these things,”

says the Lord of All.  (Malachi 4:1-3)

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The Lord lives! How great is my Rock! Praise be to the God Who saves me! 

He is the God Who punishes those who have done wrong to me. He puts nations under my rule. 

He saves me from those who hate me. Yes, You lift me above those who rise up against me.

You save me from those who want to hurt me. 

So I will give thanks to You among the nations, O Lord. And I will sing praises to Your name. 

He gives His king great power over trouble.

And He shows loving-kindness to His chosen one, to David, and to his children after him forever.  (Psalm 18:46-50)


 

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