Lamentations 3:55-57 Holman Christian Standard Bible
55 I called on Your name, Yahweh,
from the depths of the Pit.
56 You hear my plea:
Do not ignore my cry for relief.
57 You come near when I call on You;
You say: “Do not be afraid.”
Lamentations 3:55-57 Holman Christian Standard Bible
55 I called on Your name, Yahweh,
from the depths of the Pit.
56 You hear my plea:
Do not ignore my cry for relief.
57 You come near when I call on You;
You say: “Do not be afraid.”
Psalm 2:10-12 Holman Christian Standard Bible
10 So now, kings, be wise;
receive instruction, you judges of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with reverential awe
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Pay homage to the Son or He will be angry
and you will perish in your rebellion,
for His anger may ignite at any moment.
All those who take refuge in Him are happy.
Jude 20-21 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Exhortation and Benediction
20 But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, expecting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life.
Deuteronomy 1:9-18 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Leaders for the Tribes
9 “I said to you at that time: I can’t bear the responsibility for you on my own. 10 The Lord your God has so multiplied you that today you are as numerous as the stars of the sky. 11 May Yahweh, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand times more, and bless you as He promised you. 12 But how can I bear your troubles, burdens, and disputes by myself? 13 Appoint for yourselves wise, understanding, and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will make them your leaders.
14 “You replied to me, ‘What you propose to do is good.’
15 “So I took the leaders of your tribes, wise and respected men, and set them over you as leaders: officials for thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, and officers for your tribes. 16 I commanded your judges at that time: Hear the cases between your brothers, and judge rightly between a man and his brother or a foreign resident. 17 Do not show partiality when deciding a case; listen to small and great alike. Do not be intimidated by anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too difficult for you, and I will hear it. 18 At that time I commanded you about all the things you were to do.
Psalm 2:7-9 Holman Christian Standard Bible
7 I will declare the Lord’s decree:
He said to Me, “You are My Son;
today I have become Your Father.
8 Ask of Me,
and I will make the nations Your inheritance
and the ends of the earth Your possession.
9 You will break them with a rod of iron;
You will shatter them like pottery.”
Galatians 5:22-23 Holman Christian Standard Bible
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Matthew 9:1-8 Holman Christian Standard Bible
The Son of Man Forgives and Heals
9 So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own town. 2 Just then some men brought to Him a paralytic lying on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, “Have courage, son, your sins are forgiven.”
3 At this, some of the scribes said among themselves, “He’s blaspheming!”
4 But perceiving their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why are you thinking evil things in your hearts? 5 For which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—then He told the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your mat, and go home.” 7 And he got up and went home. 8 When the crowds saw this, they were awestruck and gave glory to God who had given such authority to men.
Psalm 2:4-6 Holman Christian Standard Bible
4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord ridicules them.
5 Then He speaks to them in His anger
and terrifies them in His wrath:
6 “I have consecrated My King
on Zion, My holy mountain.”
Revelation 21:4 Holman Christian Standard Bible
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Death will no longer exist;
grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer,
because the previous things have passed away.
Psalm 2:1-3 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Coronation of the Son
1 Why do the nations rebel
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand,
and the rulers conspire together
against the Lord and His Anointed One:
3 “Let us tear off their chains
and free ourselves from their restraints.”
1 Peter 2:9 Holman Christian Standard Bible
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people for His possession,
so that you may proclaim the praises
of the One who called you out of darkness
into His marvelous light.
Exodus 34:10 Holman Christian Standard Bible
10 And the Lord responded: “Look, I am making a covenant. I will perform wonders in the presence of all your people that have never been done in all the earth or in any nation. All the people you live among will see the Lord’s work, for what I am doing with you is awe-inspiring.
Amos 8:9-10 Holman Christian Standard Bible
9 And in that day—
this is the declaration of the Lord God—
I will make the sun go down at noon;
I will darken the land in the daytime.
10 I will turn your feasts into mourning
and all your songs into lamentation;
I will cause everyone to wear sackcloth
and every head to be shaved.
I will make that grief
like mourning for an only son
and its outcome like a bitter day.
We all face temptation, sometimes on a daily basis. It is part of living in this corrupt, sinful world. There are so many things that can easily lure us away from the straight and narrow. It is so easy for us to just give into the allure of whatever we desire. The real question is what happens if we continue to fall prey to our earthly desires? Do we just give up and give in? The answer, of course, is no. But, we aren’t without power and the ability to call upon the Lord for strength. If you just go to Him in prayer, He will put a hedge of protection around you. You can easily call upon the Lord and command Satan to leave you alone.
All Christians face temptation regularly. Don’t believe that once you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord that Satan will just leave you alone. For him, you are a prize. Satan would like nothing better than to have you turn your back on God and return to your life of sin. You noticed that in those few sentences that I didn’t say pull you away from God.
Satan is really powerless to pull you away. He is a liar, cheat and deceiver. He can’t forcibly take you away from God, but he can whisper in your ear and put suggestions into your head. He can try all he wants, but he is completely powerless. God will always show you a way out of that temptation. It is all up to you to follow the path back to Him.
Paul, in chapter ten of his first letter to the Corinthians, writes, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
When we believe that we are capable of standing strong on our own, it is at that precise moment that Satan will strike like a venomous snake. Christians, like others, are tempted like others and aren’t exempt from it or from specific ways. Remember that Satan wants you to fall and become disobedient. His goal is simple. He wants you to walk away from God and turn your back to Him. But, you need to remember that God is always faithful and always available to you. The Father will fight hard to keep and protect His child. He will always provide you with the way out of temptation. However, it is solely up to you.
In chapter fifteen of the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
Without Jesus in our lives, we are nothing. We cannot save ourselves from temptation or from sin. It is only through him that we can be saved and we can go to the Father for whatever we need. When we remain faithful to Him, nothing is impossible, but we have to remember that it is through faith that we have that assurance. We are nothing without Him.
Another aspect to this is to remain vigilant. If you start to become complacent in your faith and relationship with the Lord, it is so easy for Satan to drive a wedge between you. The interesting thing about the wedge is that it is a self-induced wedge. You must make a conscious effort to start moving away from God.
As a child of God, He has opened heaven’s armory for you so that you are armed and ready for Satan. When you put on God’s armor and you maintain it, it will protect you from Satan’s daily assault on your relationship with the Lord.
In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul writes, in chapter six, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Paul is very clear about what we need to do. Christians need to put on the armor. The first part is that we have to put it on. It is our decision to do that. The second part is that we must put all of it on. We can’t just pick bits and pieces of the armor. It all has to be put on because it gives us complete protection against the powers of darkness.
Armor also requires regular maintenance. Your faith keeps it strong and impenetrable to the slings and arrows of Satan and his demons. But, you must remember that this armor comes from God. It is not armor that you created or built. As a child of God, we receive His strength each and every day. He provides for your needs and loves you. It is only through Jesus that we can receive this power, strength and ability to firmly stand your ground.
The other way for you to avoid temptation is to focus on the things that are higher and things that are nobler. You cannot focus on the things of the world. When you start focusing on the things of the world, it doesn’t take a lot of time before you are seduced by the things of this world.
Paul writes in chapter three of his letter to the Colossians, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.”
So, I say to you the same thing. Don’t look at the things of this world. When you do that, you risk spiritual death and separation from the Father. Concentrate on the things of God. When you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, you began a new life and a closer walk with the Lord.
So, when you face temptation, ask God for protection and the wisdom to see God’s path for you to get out of temptation. Remain vigilant and never let your guard down. Satan looks for every opportunity to cause you to fall. When you begin to believe that you alone are invulnerable to temptation, that’s when Satan begins to sneak quickly and quietly into your life.
When you maintain your God-given armor through prayer and daily study of His word, you can stand firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Holman Christian Standard Bible
The Call to Endurance
12 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.
Matthew 23:8-12 Holman Christian Standard Bible
8 “But as for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called masters either, because you have one Master, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Psalm 1:4-5 Holman Christian Standard Bible
4 The wicked are not like this;
instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not survive the judgment,
and sinners will not be in the community of the righteous.
Revelation 3:21-22 Holman Christian Standard Bible
21 The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.
22 “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Matthew 8:18-22 Holman Christian Standard Bible
18 When Jesus saw large crowds around Him, He gave the order to go to the other side of the sea. 19 A scribe approached Him and said, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go!”
20 Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”
21 “Lord,” another of His disciples said, “first let me go bury my father.”
22 But Jesus told him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Psalm 1:1-3 Holman Christian Standard Bible
The Two Ways
1 How happy is the man
who does not follow the advice of the wicked
or take the path of sinners
or join a group of mockers!
2 Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted beside streams of water
that bears its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
John 4:27-38 Holman Christian Standard Bible
The Ripened Harvest
27 Just then His disciples arrived, and they were amazed that He was talking with a woman. Yet no one said, “What do You want?” or “Why are You talking with her?”
28 Then the woman left her water jar, went into town, and told the men, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They left the town and made their way to Him.
31 In the meantime the disciples kept urging Him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
32 But He said, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.”
33 The disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought Him something to eat?”
34 “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work,” Jesus told them. 35 “Don’t you say, ‘There are still four more months, then comes the harvest’? Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest. 36 The reaper is already receiving pay and gathering fruit for eternal life, so the sower and reaper can rejoice together. 37 For in this case the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap what you didn’t labor for; others have labored, and you have benefited from their labor.”
Isaiah 1:18-20 Holman Christian Standard Bible
18 “Come, let us discuss this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they will be as white as snow;
though they are as red as crimson,
they will be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land.
20 But if you refuse and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Isaiah 40:27-31 Holman Christian Standard Bible
27 Jacob, why do you say,
and Israel, why do you assert:
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my claim is ignored by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Yahweh is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the whole earth.
He never grows faint or weary;
there is no limit to His understanding.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and strengthens the powerless.
30 Youths may faint and grow weary,
and young men stumble and fall,
31 but those who trust in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary;
they will walk and not faint.
Psalm 150:3-5 Holman Christian Standard Bible
3 Praise Him with trumpet blast;
praise Him with harp and lyre.
4 Praise Him with tambourine and dance;
praise Him with flute and strings.
5 Praise Him with resounding cymbals;
praise Him with clashing cymbals.
"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NIV)
Andy Warhol's painting of Marilyn Monroe is expected to sell at auction for an estimate of $200 million. A 1962 Ferrari GTO that was originally sold for $18,000 sold at auction in 2021 for $48.4 million and the Pink Star diamond, considered to be one of the world's rarest, was sold in 2021 in Hong Kong for $71 million.
Those figures are unbelievable to those of us who just hope to have enough money to eventually retire. Imagine having enough money to spend that much on just one item! I know there are collector's that are willing to spend vast amounts to add to their rare possessions but I keep thinking about what could be done and who could be helped with the dollars they are throwing toward something that will eventually be destroyed.
Years ago, Beanie Babies were all the rage. I remember one shop owner told me that it was adults who were purchasing them and saving them hoping that they would increase in value enough for them to be able to sell them in the future and make a hefty profit. Perhaps some made a bit of money off of them but today I find them in resell and thrift shops for very little. Obviously, at least most of them did not produce the returns that folks were hoping for.
We live in a world of "more." So many are unsatisfied with what they have and seek to increase their wealth. As the bank accounts grow, so does the desire for more clothes, better cars and bigger homes that then demand new furniture, nicer landscaping and more opulent decor. But, while we work to grow our personal kingdoms, there are people in this world who are going without.
According to World Vision, 8.9% of the world's population goes to bed with empty stomachs. If that doesn't sound like a lot, let me put it in numbers. 690 million people have nothing to eat. If this trend continues it is estimated that by 2030 that number will be around 840 million. In addition, more than 884 million people do not have safe water to drink, and countless more have no access to modern medicines to fight disease.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:19-21, "Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
As Christians, we need to be aware that God may be gifting us in order for us to share with others. Our first priority should be to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. If someone is hungry, they need food. If someone is thirsty, they need water. There are widows and orphans and we have been commanded to look after them.
We cannot expect those who do not know Jesus to act in a Christian manner. But we can be vigilant in our own lives about sharing what we have and being "rich in good deeds." We do not need expensive paintings, antique cars or brilliant jewels more than others need to experience the love and caring of the Lord. Our calling is to love with His love and to share the Gospel that others might be saved. God bless!
Romans 8:26-27 Holman Christian Standard Bible
26 In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. 27 And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
1 John 5:16-17 Holman Christian Standard Bible
16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin that does not bring death, he should ask, and God will give life to him—to those who commit sin that doesn’t bring death. There is sin that brings death. I am not saying he should pray about that. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin that does not bring death.
Psalm 150:1-2 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Praise the Lord
Praise God in His sanctuary.
Praise Him in His mighty heavens.
2 Praise Him for His powerful acts;
praise Him for His abundant greatness.
1 Peter 1:10-12 Holman Christian Standard Bible
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that would come to you searched and carefully investigated. 11 They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things.
1 Samuel 2:1-11
Holman Christian Standard Bible
Hannah’s Triumphant Prayer
1 Hannah prayed:
My heart rejoices in the Lord;
my horn is lifted up by the Lord.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
because I rejoice in Your salvation.
2 There is no one holy like the Lord.
There is no one besides You!
And there is no rock like our God.
3 Do not boast so proudly,
or let arrogant words come out of your mouth,
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and actions are weighed by Him.
4 The bows of the warriors are broken,
but the feeble are clothed with strength.
5 Those who are full hire themselves out for food,
but those who are starving hunger no more.
The woman who is childless gives birth to seven,
but the woman with many sons pines away.
6 The Lord brings death and gives life;
He sends some to Sheol, and He raises others up.
7 The Lord brings poverty and gives wealth;
He humbles and He exalts.
8 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the garbage pile.
He seats them with noblemen
and gives them a throne of honor.
For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
He has set the world on them.
9 He guards the steps of His faithful ones,
but the wicked perish in darkness,
for a man does not prevail by his own strength.
10 Those who oppose the Lord will be shattered;
He will thunder in the heavens against them.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
He will give power to His king;
He will lift up the horn of His anointed.
11 Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy served the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest.
Psalm 149:6-9 Holman Christian Standard Bible
6 Let the exaltation of God be in their mouths
and a double-edged sword in their hands,
7 inflicting vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples,
8 binding their kings with chains
and their dignitaries with iron shackles,
9 carrying out the judgment decreed against them.
This honor is for all His godly people.
1 John 5:6-12 Holman Christian Standard Bible
The Certainty of God’s Testimony
6 Jesus Christ—He is the One who came by water and blood, not by water only, but by water and by blood. And the Spirit is the One who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and these three are in agreement. 9 If we accept the testimony of men, God’s testimony is greater, because it is God’s testimony that He has given about His Son. 10 (The one who believes in the Son of God has this testimony within him. The one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony God has given about His Son.) 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
12 The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life.
Titus 1:15-16 Holman Christian Standard Bible
15 To the pure, everything is pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work.
Psalm 149:1-5 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Praise for God’s Triumph
Sing to the Lord a new song,
His praise in the assembly of the godly.
2 Let Israel celebrate its Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.
3 Let them praise His name with dancing
and make music to Him with tambourine and lyre.
4 For Yahweh takes pleasure in His people;
He adorns the humble with salvation.
5 Let the godly celebrate in triumphal glory;
let them shout for joy on their beds.
Many years ago, a person came up to me during a prayer meeting and told me that Christianity is the easiest thing to do. He continued by saying that all you have to do is accept Jesus and ask for forgiveness.
When you think about it, the first few steps are very easy to do, but it still takes a lot of effort to make that decision and take those steps. But, for the sake of discussion, let’s put the decision aside. It is easy, but what we are called to do is often very difficult especially when you view them from your old, sinful ways.
In chapter five of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus, while delivering the “Sermon on the Mount”, tells those listening to him, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
God provides for all of His children. When you think about it, we all started as God’s handiwork. In the beginning, we were all created in His image. He breathed life into us and gave us the gift of a soul. But, over time, we become disobedient and become part of this fallen world. We walk in darkness and do evil to ourselves and one another. God, out of His love for us, gave us the gift of salvation through His son, Jesus. We all have a choice to accept or reject His gift.
Once we accept that precious gift, we proclaim to the world our acceptance of God’s salvation by following Jesus’ example of being baptized. That symbolic act shows how we die and are raised to walk in the newness of life as a believer and follower of Christ Jesus and as a child of God the Father.
As a child of God, we must live a life that is Christ-like and have an attitude that goes along with it. Jesus, in his famous sermon, tells us how we are to act and how, as a child of the Father, to live our lives daily. This is where the hard part comes into play.
When we accepted Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord, we also gave up the things of this world. We gave up our sinful ways in order to walk daily with the Lord along the path of righteousness. This means we are to be obedient to God’s will and accept what He has laid out for us. Simply put. In order to be obedient to God, we must be disobedient to ourselves and deny our natural tendencies.
In his sermon, Jesus reminds us of the words of Leviticus and its teachings to the children of Israel.
In chapter nineteen, the Lord says, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”
It isn’t enough to love yourself and your neighbor, but it is quite a different thing to love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you. Jesus tells us that we must do more as children of God. By going that extra mile, you show the world that you have truly overcome it as well as its disobedient ways.
It is all well and good to read the words, but you must resist the urge to go back to your old ways or stop short. Following Jesus is all about denying yourself and becoming Christ-like in all areas of your life.
When Jesus was nailed to a cross to suffer for our sins, he prayed for those who mocked him. He endured every moment of his crucifixion just so that each of us could receive that gift of love and salvation from the Father.
In chapter twenty-three of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus, while on the cross, said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Instead of asking God to deliver him from the cross or to destroy those who were seeking his blood, Jesus asked God to forgive them for what they were doing. It took a tremendous amount of love and effort to ask for that. But, Jesus had only love in his heart for us and gave his life as our sacrifice and became the way back to the Father.
So, as children of God, it is incumbent on us to do more than just love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We must take that extra step and love our enemies. By doing that, our enemies will wonder why we’re loving them even when they are persecuting us.
Paul, in chapter twelve of his letter to the church in Rome, reminds them of the words of the Book of Proverbs, “Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.’ Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”
When you act out of love, people who mock you will feel ashamed of what they are doing to you. They will begin to wonder why you aren’t returning evil for evil. Some will even ask you why you aren’t seeking revenge or asking God to destroy them. When they wonder about your actions, your actions have brought conviction to their hearts. They feel something stirring inside of them. It is that small, quiet whisper gently calling to them. It is the same voice you heard. It is the voice of the Master calling out to them just as he called out to you.
By being that example and forgiving those who persecute you and showing them love, you become truly righteous in the eyes of the Father. You have become Christ-like in all aspects of your life and an example to those around you. When you have achieved this, you can most assuredly stand firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Mark 12:30-31 Holman Christian Standard Bible
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
31 “The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.”
John 13:36-38 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Peter’s Denials Predicted
36 “Lord,” Simon Peter said to Him, “where are You going?”
Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you will follow later.”
37 “Lord,” Peter asked, “why can’t I follow You now? I will lay down my life for You!”
38 Jesus replied, “Will you lay down your life for Me? I assure you: A rooster will not crow until you have denied Me three times.
Psalm 148:7-14 Holman Christian Standard Bible
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
all sea monsters and ocean depths,
8 lightning and hail, snow and cloud,
powerful wind that executes His command,
9 mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
creatures that crawl and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all judges of the earth,
12 young men as well as young women,
old and young together.
13 Let them praise the name of Yahweh,
for His name alone is exalted.
His majesty covers heaven and earth.
14 He has raised up a horn for His people,
resulting in praise to all His godly ones,
to the Israelites, the people close to Him.
1 John 5:1-5 Holman Christian Standard Bible
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him. 2 This is how we know that we love God’s children when we love God and obey His commands. 3 For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands. Now His commands are not a burden, 4 because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. 5 And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Ephesians 4:1-6 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Unity and Diversity in the Body of Christ
4 Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, 3 diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
Psalm 148:1-6 Holman Christian Standard Bible
Creation’s Praise of the Lord
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise Him in the heights.
2 Praise Him, all His angels;
praise Him, all His hosts.
3 Praise Him, sun and moon;
praise Him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise Him, highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens.
5 Let them praise the name of Yahweh,
for He commanded, and they were created.
6 He set them in position forever and ever;
He gave an order that will never pass away.
Isaiah 54:9-10 Holman Christian Standard Bible
9 “For this is like the days of Noah to Me:
when I swore that the waters of Noah
would never flood the earth again,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you
or rebuke you.
10 Though the mountains move
and the hills shake,
My love will not be removed from you
and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
says your compassionate Lord.
Zephaniah 3:14-17 Holman Christian Standard Bible
14 Sing for joy, Daughter Zion;
shout loudly, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
15 The Lord has removed your punishment;
He has turned back your enemy.
The King of Israel, Yahweh, is among you;
you need no longer fear harm.
16 On that day it will be said to Jerusalem:
“Do not fear;
Zion, do not let your hands grow weak.
17 Yahweh your God is among you,
a warrior who saves.
He will rejoice over you with gladness.
He will bring you quietness with His love.
He will delight in you with shouts of joy.”
Psalm 147:15-18 Holman Christian Standard Bible
15 He sends His command throughout the earth;
His word runs swiftly.
16 He spreads snow like wool;
He scatters frost like ashes;
17 He throws His hailstones like crumbs.
Who can withstand His cold?
18 He sends His word and melts them;
He unleashes His winds, and the waters flow.
Jonah 2:1-6 Holman Christian Standard Bible
2 Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish:
2 I called to the Lord in my distress,
and He answered me.
I cried out for help in the belly of Sheol;
You heard my voice.
3 You threw me into the depths,
into the heart of the seas,
and the current overcame me.
All Your breakers and Your billows swept over me.
4 But I said: I have been banished
from Your sight,
yet I will look once more
toward Your holy temple.
5 The waters engulfed me up to the neck;
the watery depths overcame me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 I sank to the foundations of the mountains;
the earth with its prison bars closed behind me forever!
But You raised my life from the Pit, Lord my God!
Amos 9:5-6 Holman Christian Standard Bible
5 The Lord, the God of Hosts—
He touches the earth;
it melts, and all who dwell in it mourn;
all of it rises like the Nile
and subsides like the Nile of Egypt.
6 He builds His upper chambers
in the heavens
and lays the foundation of His vault
on the earth.
He summons the waters of the sea
and pours them out on the face of the earth.
Yahweh is His name.
Psalm 147:12-14 Holman Christian Standard Bible
12 Exalt the Lord, Jerusalem;
praise your God, Zion!
13 For He strengthens the bars of your gates
and blesses your children within you.
14 He endows your territory with prosperity;
He satisfies you with the finest wheat.
"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV)
I had a classmate in college who told me once that he had such faith in God that he believed that if a person had brown eyes but wanted blue eyes, and prayed fervently for them, that God would eventually change those brown eyes to blue. His reasoning was that the Lord's love for His children is so great that he would want to delight that child by honoring his prayer.
That has stayed with me for many, many years. I don't know that God would change my eye color, but I do not doubt His love for me. He has walked with me, and carried me, through a lifetime of joys and sorrows. At times He has felt so close that I could feel His hand upon my shoulder. Never has there been a time that He was not near.
We are witnessing some difficult happenings on this earth. Following a pandemic that seemed to stretch on and on, now we see war across the ocean. Lives are being forever transformed. Children are losing their homes, being uprooted and carried to unfamiliar countries as their parents do what they can to provide safety. As history is written, people are dying horrific deaths. As we ask why, we also wonder where God is. How could He allow this to happen?
My friends, our Creator is exactly where He promised He would be. Always with us, always in charge. However, when He created man He gave us free will and He will not deprive us of that. Adam and Eve had to leave the garden because they chose sin over obedience. Every generation since then has carried on the sinful practices that have caused unspeakable pain and suffering. Not only has it wrought strife between men, it has separated us from the One who loves us with unequaled love.
It is because of that love that a provision was made for our redemption. Jesus died so that our sins could be forgiven and our relationship with the Father restored. In Romans 10:9, Paul tells us, "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.'"
Thankfully, this world was not designed to last forever. Whether we like the color of our eyes or not, or whether there are wars, pandemics, or hate, everything about this earth will pass away. The hope we have is the hope which comes from the unmistakable, unbeatable love of God. When we turn our lives over to Him, we have the promise of eternity where there is no sin, no fear, no sorrow, no pain.
Please remember that nothing happens outside of the knowledge of our Lord. He has already seen and already knows how to lead us through. As we pray for those in turmoil and danger, let's praise Him and look forward to the day when Jesus will return and take us home to be with Him forever. God bless.
Malachi 1:10-11 Holman Christian Standard Bible
10 “I wish one of you would shut the temple doors, so you would no longer kindle a useless fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord of Hosts, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.
11 “For My name will be great among the nations, from the rising of the sun to its setting. Incense and pure offerings will be presented in My name in every place because My name will be great among the nations,” says Yahweh of Hosts.
1 John 4:4-6 Holman Christian Standard Bible
4 You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world. Therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.
Psalm 147:10-11 Holman Christian Standard Bible
10 He is not impressed by the strength of a horse;
He does not value the power of a man.
11 The Lord values those who fear Him,
those who put their hope in His faithful love.
2 Peter 3:8-10 Holman Christian Standard Bible
8 Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.
10 But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed.
1 Peter 1:3-5 Holman Christian Standard Bible
A Living Hope
3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 5 You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
Psalm 147:7-9 Holman Christian Standard Bible
7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
play the lyre to our God,
8 who covers the sky with clouds,
prepares rain for the earth,
and causes grass to grow on the hills.
9 He provides the animals with their food,
and the young ravens, what they cry for.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Holman Christian Standard Bible
The God of Comfort
3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so through Christ our comfort also overflows. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is experienced in your endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the comfort.
Galatians 2:20 Holman Christian Standard Bible
20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Psalm 147:2-6 Holman Christian Standard Bible
2 The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem;
He gathers Israel’s exiled people.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He counts the number of the stars;
He gives names to all of them.
5 Our Lord is great, vast in power;
His understanding is infinite.
6 The Lord helps the afflicted
but brings the wicked to the ground.
Paul, in chapter twelve of his first letter to the Corinthians, writes, “He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said.”
Although I wasn’t given the ability to prophesy, I can still see the handwriting on the wall and tell you what the Lord has placed on my heart to share with each of you. In the past couple of years, we have seen a great many things occur. We have seen each of the Four Horsemen from the Book of Revelation ride out and cause disease, famine, war and starvation. You can argue that all of these events happen from time to time and they are just the things that Jesus foretold when he talked with his disciples of “wars and rumors of wars”.
I agree and know that wars will always happen and that we may think we are in the last days. But, that isn’t my point. For me, it is not the events themselves. It is what we should be doing to prepare ourselves spiritually that matters most. I am not here to tell you to store food and water for a lengthy period of time or have investments in gold, silver or cryptocurrency. My dire warning is to be prepared and realize what has gotten us to this point. I am asking each of you to look at our society and yourselves.
Over the past couple of years, I have been looking deep within my heart and soul and discovered that I have not spoken out against disobedience or sin. When we, as Christians, begin to compromise on God’s laws, we start down the road that leads to damnation and separation from the Father.
When you examine the Old Testament, you see how many times the Lord sent a prophet to warn the people and what He will do if they refuse to return to the righteous path. He gave them ample opportunity to return to Him, but they chose not to return to Him. In the messages given by the prophets to His chosen ones, He tells them what they are doing wrong. God didn’t mince His words or become vague. He was very specific in His indictment of the Isrealites.
After the indictment, God tells them what their punishment will be and also goes through what their reward will be if they give up their sinful ways. With God being so direct and completely open to them, you would figure that His children would immediately stop sinning and return to Him in one quick hurry. But, they chose not to do it. Instead, they snub God and go on with their lives and ignore the warnings.
In chapter thirty-two of the Book of Jeremiah, God says, “Now I want to say something more about this city. You have been saying, ‘It will fall to the king of Babylon through war, famine, and disease.’ But this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury. I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land. Just as I have brought all these calamities on them, so I will do all the good I have promised them. Fields will again be bought and sold in this land about which you now say, ‘It has been ravaged by the Babylonians, a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’ Yes, fields will once again be bought and sold—deeds signed and sealed and witnessed—in the land of Benjamin and here in Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the hill country, in the foothills of Judah and in the Negev, too. For someday I will restore prosperity to them. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
This passage gives clear direction to the Isrealites. There is no room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding. They have sinned. They have the opportunity to either return to the path of righteousness or suffer the consequences of their disobedience. If they decide to return to God and truly be His, then He will restore their prosperity and bless them. These aren’t just idle words, but, rather, promises. If you don’t heed the dire warning, you will be punished. You can’t get anymore plain or simple when it comes to God’s message.
After hearing His words to the Isrealites, let us examine our own lives and society. We haven’t exactly been His children. We occasionally return to Him when we want something, but, for the most part, we have gone our own ways. We have become disobedient and selfish. We have left God for the things of this world. We would rather walk in darkness or skulk in the shadows. For some, we walk that fine line between disobedience and righteousness and smugly feel that we are getting away with it.
I’m here to tell you that you aren’t getting away with anything. For each of us, we have been weighed, measured and found wanting. These aren’t my words; they are the words of God.
In chapter five of the Book of Daniel, Daniel was called by King Belshazzar to explain the words written by a mysterious human-like hand. Belshazzar was frightened to the point of turning pale with fright. Prior to this moment, he was feeling great. He had just ordered that the gold and silver cups be taken from the Temple of Jerusalem and be used by his nobles, his wives, and his concubines.
Daniel was brought before him to explain these words and, like the bluntness of the words, Daniel was equally blunt when he explained the words to Belshazzar.
Daniel looks at the king and tells him, “For you have proudly defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you. You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny! So God has sent this hand to write this message. This is the message that was written: Mene, mene, tekel, and Parsin. This is what these words mean: Mene means ‘numbered’—God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end. Tekel means ‘weighed’—you have been weighed on the balances and have not measured up. Parsin means ‘divided’—your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
After hearing the words of Daniel, that night King Belshazzar died.
We, as a society and as individuals, have to make a choice. We can either return to God and walk the path of righteousness daily or we can remain disobedient and skirt His laws. If you believe that you can somehow justify your actions on the Day of Judgment, I will tell you this. No amount of words will sway God’s decision. No amount of tears will wash away the sins. You will be weighed, measured and found wanting in the end.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way at all. Societies change when each member of it changes. It took time to get here and it will take time and a lot of effort and faith to return to God. You just have to take the first step and commit to taking the next. When you do this, others will see what you have done and will go through the same self-examination. Once they see the errors of their ways, they will take that step as well.
With all of us taking that first step back to God and making the commitment to take the next, we all will be able to stand firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.