Some Christians like to know why they do not seem to receive blessing as others do. Why do we continue to praise God when we do not feel like it?
In Biblical teaching praising God is a form of worship, and is based on God’s goodness and not our feelings. IT MEANS “to bless,” AND indicates the action of pronouncing good things upon the recipient. We can read many examples in psalms of king David praising God in all sorts of circumstances, indeed often regardless of the environment and external events. He recounted lots of good deeds that the Lord has done for His people. He chose to focus on God’s goodness and greatness.
Jesus taught us to worship in spirit and in truth. This means we do not worship based on our own feelings and circumstances. We worship based on our born again spirit who aligns with the Holy Spirit and based on the truthfulness of the words of God.
Today we read the New Testament teaching of the praise requirement for a worshipper in spirit and in truth. The key word is integrity. The integrity of our heart is demonstrated in the words we utter through our mouths. One thing is sure: praise and curse do not co-exist. God is looking for praises and not curses from our mouths.
James 3 New Living Translation (NLT) (Quoted in part)
Controlling the Tongue
3 Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
5…the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.
But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire…
9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
True Wisdom Comes from God
13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom…
17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
watch Discussing and advising my young nephew of the current ongoing untruthfulness in the reporting and editorial realm which was once so highly regarded by the civilized world, because he asks why I no longer read or watch or listen to most main-stream news-media, I realize how limited and yet how wide a man has in terms of choices of news/information due to technology. I tell him I subscribe to and read only technical, financial, scientific discovery, medical breakthrough etc. kind of info-news these days. No mainline generalists’ ‘intellectual’ dissertation. They have nothing for us. I told this eager young man who is of the generation as yet unspoiled and on whom we hope to raise leaders of a better future. Why? He asks. I reply, “Those men are trying to be God or judges. They are not.” My generation is sick and tired of those who smear and slander just to get a higher readership/viewership or advertisement rating. I advise the young man to caution his peers not to click or visit any web sites unless they are sure there are specific verifiable positive information there. Don’t ever add a click or a view to encourage more untruths to be churned out. I advise him that if all Christians in this world start being careful and discerning in what we choose to view or click, the impact of drop in viewership would be so significant that many would hesitate and think twice before they pen/type future communication. The good news is that they can come and join us and be aligned with the God of grace and truth.
In my prayer I ask the Lord what to say today and I am again led to read and quote Matthew 23. Do read. Pray and ask the Lord what He is saying to each individual. For the young Christians, Pharisees and scribes were the intellectual elites who were academically qualified and proficient in their field of study. They spent considerable amount of time reading and writing. They were the society’s leading voice. They exercised authority commenting and judging practically all subjects that impacted the lives of the Jewish people in Jesus’ time. Because of their ability to study, read and write, they commanded respect and honor from the ordinary people in their nation. And they in turn took control of politics and everything else.
In sum, Jesus says this of them, “You say, but you do not do!”
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe,[a] that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ,[b] and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.[c]
15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies[d] the gold? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ 19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells[e] in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.[f] 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,
a. Matthew 23:3 NU-Text omits to observe.
b. Matthew 23:8 NU-Text omits the Christ.
c. Matthew 23:14 NU-Text omits this verse.
d. Matthew 23:17 NU-Text reads sanctified.
e. Matthew 23:21 M-Text reads dwelt.
f. Matthew 23:25 M-Text reads unrighteousness.
Many great Christian leaders, churches, missions and Christian organizations started off well but declined and fell away after some years. In some cases the founders could not leave behind a sustainable legacy to their successors. Sadly in many cases there were not even one credible successor. This is not new. King Solomon was one such tragic example. Today we read some of the accounts of his achievements in the world and his spiritual failures which actually caused the downfall of his kingdom. In sum, Solomon, unlike his father David, was a man of flesh and not a man of the Spirit. I pray that today’s national leaders in all realms understand this truth -you need to walk by the Spirit and not by flesh for leaving a sustainable and godly legacy to your successors. Like Paul, he had to raise godly successors like Timothy and many others to carry on after his martyrdom.
1 Kings 9-11 New Living Translation (NLT) (Please read all three chapters)
The Lord’s Response to Solomon
A SPIRITUAL CONDITION/COVENANT FOR SOLOMON AND HIS DESCENDANTS TO KEEP
9:1 So Solomon finished building the Temple of the Lord, as well as the royal palace. He completed everything he had planned to do. 2 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had done before at Gibeon. 3 The Lord said to him,
“I have heard your prayer and your petition. I have set this Temple apart to be holy—this place you have built where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.
4 “As for you, if you will follow me with integrity and godliness, as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, 5 then I will establish the throne of your dynasty over Israel forever. For I made this promise to your father, David: ‘One of your descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel.’
6 “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the commands and decrees I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, 7 then I will uproot Israel from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make Israel an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. 8 And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled and will gasp in horror. They will ask, ‘Why did the Lord do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’
9 “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the Lord their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why the Lord has brought all these disasters on them.’”
10 It took Solomon twenty years to build the Lord’s Temple and his own royal palace…19…He built everything he desired in Jerusalem and Lebanon and throughout his entire realm.
A HIDDEN SEED OF EVIL WAS PLANTED
24 Solomon moved his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter, from the City of David to the new palace he had built for her…
QUEEN OF SHEBA’S REMINDER TO SOLOMON
10:9 Praise the Lord your God, who delights in you and has placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king so you can rule with justice and righteousness.”
HERE IS THE REASON OF SOLOMON’S EVENTUAL DOWNFALL
11:1 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. 2 The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.” Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. 3 He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord.
4 In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been. 5 Solomon worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech,[y] the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 In this way, Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; he refused to follow the Lord completely, as his father, David, had done.
7 On the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem,[z] he even built a pagan shrine for Chemosh, the detestable god of Moab, and another for Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. 8 Solomon built such shrines for all his foreign wives to use for burning incense and sacrificing to their gods.
9 The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command. 11 So now the Lord said to him, “Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. 12 But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive. I will take the kingdom away from your son. 13 And even so, I will not take away the entire kingdom; I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.”
HOW TO LIVE A VICTORIOUS LIFE AND LEAVE A SUSTAINABLE LEGACY?
Romans 8 New Living Translation (NLT)
Life in the Spirit
8:1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power[a] of the life-giving Spirit has freed you[b] from the power of sin that leads to death. 3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature.[c] So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life[d] because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters,[e] you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature,[f] you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children[g] of God.
8:2a Greek the law; also in 8:2b.
8:2b Some manuscripts read me.
8:3c Greek our flesh; similarly in 8:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12.
8:10d Or your spirit is alive.
8:12e Greek brothers; also in 8:29.
8:13f Greek deeds of the body.
8:14g Greek sons; also in 8:19.
Today we look at how a king sang praises to the King of kings. David lived in the times before Christ when the Holy Spirit was not indwelling inside the people of God. But the Spirit of God led him to prophecy even at the time when he was surrounded by his enemies. Anyone familiar with the scourging and crucifixion of Jesus Christ can see the obvious parallels, and the writers of the gospel accounts—especially Matthew—bring them out through direct quotations of this psalm.
For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be sung to the tune “Doe of the Dawn.”
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.
Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
Our ancestors trusted in you,
and you rescued them.
They cried out to you and were saved.
They trusted in you and were never disgraced.
But I am a worm and not a man.
I am scorned and despised by all!
Everyone who sees me mocks me.
They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
“Is this the one who relies on the Lord?
Then let the Lord save him!
If the Lord loves him so much,
let the Lord rescue him!”
Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb
and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.
I was thrust into your arms at my birth.
You have been my God from the moment I was born.
Do not stay so far from me,
for trouble is near,
and no one else can help me.
My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls;
fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in!
Like lions they open their jaws against me,
roaring and tearing into their prey.
My life is poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart is like wax,
melting within me.
My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay.
My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.
My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs;
an evil gang closes in on me.
They have pierced[a] my hands and feet.
I can count all my bones.
My enemies stare at me and gloat.
They divide my garments among themselves
and throw dice[b] for my clothing.
O Lord, do not stay far away!
You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!
Save me from the sword;
spare my precious life from these dogs.
Snatch me from the lion’s jaws
and from the horns of these wild oxen.
I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.[c]
I will praise you among your assembled people.
Praise the Lord, all you who fear him!
Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!
For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.
He has not turned his back on them,
but has listened to their cries for help.
I will praise you in the great assembly.
I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you.
The poor will eat and be satisfied.
All who seek the Lord will praise him.
Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.
The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him.
All the families of the nations will bow down before him.
For royal power belongs to the Lord.
He rules all the nations.
Let the rich of the earth feast and worship.
Bow before him, all who are mortal,
all whose lives will end as dust.
Our children will also serve him.
Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord.
His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born.
They will hear about everything he has done.
22:16 As in some Hebrew manuscripts and Greek and Syriac versions; most Hebrew manuscripts read They are like a lion at.
22:18 Hebrew cast lots.
22:22 Hebrew my brothers.
Now Samuel grew; and the Lord was with him and He let none of his words fail [to be fulfilled].
1 Samuel 4:1 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Philistines Take the Ark in Victory
4 And the word of [the Lord through] Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and they camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistines camped at Aphek.
1 Samuel 7:8-13 Amplified Bible (AMP)
8 And the sons of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, so that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9 So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord; and Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel and the Lord answered him. 10 As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines approached for the battle against Israel. Then the Lord thundered with a great voice that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated and fled before Israel. 11 And the men of Israel came out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and struck them down as far as [the territory] below Beth-car.
12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and he named it Ebenezer (stone of help), saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” 13 So the Philistines were subdued and they did not come anymore into Israelite territory. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.
1 Samuel 3 Amplified Bible (AMP)
The Prophetic Call to Samuel
3 Now the boy Samuel was attending to the service of the Lord [a]under the supervision of Eli. The word of the Lord was rare and precious in those days; visions [that is, new revelations of divine truth] were not widespread.
2 Yet it happened at that time, as Eli was lying down in his own place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well). 3 and the [oil] lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, 4 that the Lord called Samuel, and he answered, “Here I am.” 5 He ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call you; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6 Then the Lord called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know [or personally experience] the Lord, and the word of the Lord was not yet revealed [directly] to him. 8 So the Lord called Samuel a third time. And he stood and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.” Then Eli understood that it was the Lord [who was] calling the boy. 9 So Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and it shall be that if He calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 Then the Lord came and stood and called as at the previous times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” 11 The Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will ring. 12 On that day I will carry out against Eli everything that I have spoken concerning his house (family), from beginning to end. 13 Now I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the sinful behavior which he knew [was happening], because his sons were bringing a curse on themselves [dishonoring and blaspheming God] and he did not rebuke them. 14 Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the sinful behavior of Eli’s house (family) shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
15 So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the Lord’s house. But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he answered, “Here I am.” 17 Then Eli said, “What is it that He said to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do the same to you, and more also, if you hide from me anything of all that He said to you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. And Eli said, “It is the Lord; may He do what seems good [b]to Him.”
19 Now Samuel grew; and the Lord was with him and He let none of his words [c]fail [to be fulfilled]. 20 And all Israel from Dan [in the north] to Beersheba [in the south] knew that Samuel was appointed as a prophet of the Lord. 21 And the Lord continued to appear in Shiloh, for the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.
1 Samuel 3:1 Lit before.
1 Samuel 3:18 Lit in His eyes.
1 Samuel 3:19 Lit fall to the ground.
Psalm 99:6 NLT Moses and Aaron were among his priests; Samuel also called on his name. They cried to the Lord for help, and he answered them.
Jeremiah 15:1 [ Judgment Must Come ] Then the Lord said to me, “Even though Moses and Samuel were to stand before Me [interceding for them], My heart would still not be [turned with favor] toward this people [Judah]. Send them away from My presence and out of My sight and let them go!
1 Chronicles 9:22 All those chosen to be gatekeepers at the thresholds were 212. They were enrolled by their genealogies in their villages [around Jerusalem], these men [whose grandfathers] David and Samuel the seer had appointed to their official duty.
1 Chronicles 11:3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant (solemn agreement) with them there before the Lord; and they anointed him king over Israel, in accordance with the word of the Lord through Samuel.
1 Chronicles 26:28 Also all that Samuel the seer had dedicated, and Saul the son of Kish, Abner the son of Ner and Joab the son of Zeruiah, everyone who had dedicated anything, this was in the care of Shelomoth and his relatives.
1 Chronicles 29:29 Now the acts of King David, from first to last, are written in the chronicles (records) of Samuel the seer, in the chronicles of Nathan the prophet, and in the chronicles of Gad the seer,
Today’s words are all about the Light. The Word. Focus on this Light. You will receive your health and healing in all aspects of life.
The Bible verses are quoted from New King James Version (NKJV)
The Lamp of the Body
22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
The Eternal Word, The Light
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
1 John 1:5-7
Fellowship with Him and One Another
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Today we read what happened to Jesus. Because Jesus said that the same will happen to His followers (disciples). Matthew recorded many teachings of Jesus which depicted everyday lives. They are timeless. Human heart and nature have not changed. Matthew 20:1-17 tells us the scene in the marketplace (employment agency) on one ordinary day. An employer (God) employs workers at different intervals and pays each one the same wage he has committed. But those who think that they deserve more just because they have been in employment longer become angry and indignant. They try to incite a revolt against the employer. But the employer tells them off. He is honoring his part of the employment agreement. But these protestors/revolters are not. They have forgotten or conveniently ignored the agreement. Why?
Jesus gave the reason why in His life.
13 “He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? 14 Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. 15 Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’
16 “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”
Jesus Again Predicts His Death
17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. 18 “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man[b] will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. 19 Then they will hand him over to the Romans[c] to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”
Jesus told the parable to show how jealousy and greed cannot be concealed and can ruin a person. His adversaries are driven by greed and are insanely jealous of Him. They (the religious and political leaders) have been there a long time. They have institutionalized themselves as the only authoritative governing voice for the nation (social, cultural, education, economic, religious and political). Jesus is not one of them. So how dare He now take the lead in all fields of the nation, with countless more followers from the grassroots than them (over their whole lifetime) in a mere short three years?
While Jesus is following God’s will, doing all the good deeds feeding the poor, genuinely caring loving those upon whom the society looks down, healing the sick, setting the captives/oppressed free, his adversaries are plotting to kill him.
Pilate the Roman Governor knows the motive of the adversaries of Jesus. Matthew 27:18 For Pilate knew that it was because of jealousy that the chief priests and elders had handed Jesus over to him.
The point for Christian intercessors of knowing or revising the above is to pray more effectively. Now we are reminded of the motive of the adversary of God, how shall we pray? I am led to read Mark chapter one and sixteen right now as I ask the Lord.
Here are the verses that should spur us into the right course and action:
Mark 1:3 This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.[a] It began 2 just as the prophet Isaiah had written:
“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way.
3 He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’”
14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
16:15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. 17 These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. 18 They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”
19 When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 20 And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.
In summary: Press on in the supernatural journey and run faithfully and consistently as we are led by the Spirit of Christ as ordained by the Almighty and not be distracted by the petty ways of man (motivated by personal agenda and not aligned with God’s plan).
1 Corinthians 2:12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.
a word of encouragement 2 Kings 6:16-17 New Living Translation (NLT)
16 “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.
a word for those angry with God
Genesis 4:4-7New Living Translation (NLT)
4 Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, 5 but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.
6 “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? 7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”
Jesus started a team. He built a team. The first team continued and built more teams. The teams in turn built more teams…it goes on and does not stop. Today the team continues its multiplication effect just as Jesus has intended and demonstrated.
When I first started team building many decades ago in my own business management practice and teaching team building so my team can in turn build teams, I did not realize the Jesus initiative. Today I turned on recorded lessons from a Bible School and listened to one lesson at random as I was carrying out my usual daily chores. The first thing that struck me was that the topic (course subject) was “The Beatitudes” but the teacher talked about team building in the first lesson! As I continued to listen it makes sense and is entirely relevant to me and all Christians who are in a position to lead, train and teach. To me it is really a refresher course in good and basic management practice.
I summarize below the foremost key teaching for the disciples of Jesus in Matthew 5-7. (Living Bible (TLB))
One day as the crowds were gathering, he went up the hillside with his disciples and sat down and taught them there. He taught them to live another lifestyle and equipped them to go to the mission field. He first told them these: “Humble men are very fortunate!”
“Be humble” is the first key teaching of Jesus to disciples. The whole three chapters speak of this command. Why? Jesus knew very well then even the apostles would fall if they became proud. How could they not become proud? With all the power and authority after the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on them just as Jesus had promised. So much power and so much authority with the name of Jesus. Just look at what the apostles could do, preaching the gospels and converted thousands at one go, healed the sick, cast out demons, and even raised the dead! The first generation churches were jam packed with power and authority. It was like they operated with a direct pipeline to heaven channeling down every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1:3)
How not to be proud? The answer is to “be humble.” If it is not possible to be humble, then there is no need for Jesus to tell us how blessed it is to be humble. If the apostles/us are not likely to be proud then there is also no need for Jesus to specifically spend such time to mention what being humble means.
Pride comes before a fall. Jesus knows. The apostles know. Church history knows. So today we learn a good word. Be humble. Especially in a team like a church (an entity built on the foundation of the apostles). Pride breaks up. Humility builds up. Pride is self-focused. Humility is Christ-focused. Pride divides. Humility unites.
How to tell the difference between pride and humility? The Bible has given us a very accurate measure: Use the Bible as the plumb line. Check the fruit. Weigh on God’s scale.
Matthew 5 Living Bible (TLB) “Humble men are the world’s light!”
5 1-2 One day as the crowds were gathering, he went up the hillside with his disciples and sat down and taught them there. 3 “Humble men are very fortunate!” he told them, “for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them. 14 You are the world’s light—a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see.
A wise and successful king (Solomon) gave his sons the following warning about being proud: (Note how pride ranks together with other evils) Proverbs 8:13 If anyone respects and fears God, he will hate evil. For wisdom hates pride, arrogance, corruption, and deceit of every kind. Proverbs 13:10 Pride leads to arguments; be humble, take advice, and become wise. Proverbs 16:5 Pride disgusts the Lord. Take my word for it—proud men shall be punished. Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall. Proverbs 18:12 Pride ends in destruction; humility ends in honor. Proverbs 21:4 Pride, lust, and evil actions are all sin. Proverbs 29:23 Pride ends in a fall, while humility brings honor.
Luke 1:51-53 New Living Translation (NLT) (Mary’s Song of Praise)
51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
52 He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
How to identify the difference? Matthew 7:16-18 New Living Translation (NLT)
16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.
What good fruit is from Galatians 5:22-23 [Full Chapter] But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
A warning about being fruitless from Jude 1:12 When these people eat with you in your fellowship meals commemorating the Lord’s love, they are like dangerous reefs that can shipwreck you. They are like shameless shepherds who care only for themselves. They are like clouds blowing over the land without giving any rain. They are like trees in autumn that are doubly dead, for they bear no fruit and have been pulled up by the roots.
Where good fruit comes from? James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.
Colossians 1:6 This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.
Colossians 1:10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.
May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
A Kairos time has come for Christians to take the seven mountains of the nation. When we look at each of the mountains we see one key word: administration. What? We need an administrator. Administrators are not highly respected in our current world of management. Entrepreneurs are more valued. But the fact is that we have allowed corrupt and incompetent administrators to ruin the mountains of nation because we have abdicated in the past. Today we are called to become administrators again. What Biblical model shall we emulate? This is the question we shall answer.
From Daniel 1, 5 and 6 we read that Daniel was both a fearless, principled, godly, faithful spiritual man and a man well versed in every branch of learning, gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. He was both a man of spiritual discernment, vision, and demonstrated the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as a man competent and excelled in the administration and government of the nation, even the empire.
He had the Spirit of the Lord as described in Isaiah 11:2 (on Jesus): And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Yes, Daniel, the man with the Spirit of the Lord, is the administrator we are looking for to be on the top of every of the seven mountain of the nation today.
Daniel 1 (NLT)
4 “Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men,” he said. “Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon.
8 But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. 9 Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel.
17 God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams.
So they entered the royal service. 20 Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, he found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.
Daniel 5 (NKJV)
11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him;
12 Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.
16 And I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations and explain enigmas.
29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Daniel 6 (NLT)
Darius the Mede decided to divide the kingdom into 120 provinces, and he appointed a high officer to rule over each province. 2 The king also chose Daniel and two others as administrators to supervise the high officers and protect the king’s interests. 3 Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire.
4 Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy. 5 So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.”
10 But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. 11 Then the officials went together to Daniel’s house and found him praying and asking for God’s help.
25 Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world:
“Peace and prosperity to you!
26 “I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel.
For he is the living God,
and he will endure forever.
His kingdom will never be destroyed,
and his rule will never end.
27 He rescues and saves his people;
he performs miraculous signs and wonders
in the heavens and on earth.
He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions.”
28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian
May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the Holy Spirit!
For this reason because I preached that you are thus built up together, I, Paul, [am] the prisoner of Jesus the Christ for the sake and on behalf of you Gentiles—
2 Assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace (His unmerited favor) that was entrusted to me [to dispense to you] for your benefit,
3 [And] that the mystery (secret) was made known to me and I was allowed to comprehend it by direct revelation, as I already briefly wrote you.
4 When you read this you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ.
5 [This mystery] was never disclosed to human beings in past generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles (consecrated messengers) and prophets by the [Holy] Spirit.
6 [It is this:] that the Gentiles are now to be fellow heirs [with the Jews], members of the same body and joint partakers [sharing] in the same divine promise in Christ through [their acceptance of] the glad tidings (the Gospel).
7 Of this [Gospel] I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s free grace (undeserved favor) which was bestowed on me by the exercise (the working in all its effectiveness) of His power.
8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints (God’s consecrated people), this grace (favor, privilege) was granted and graciously entrusted: to proclaim to the Gentiles the unending (boundless, fathomless, incalculable, and exhaustless) riches of Christ [wealth which no human being could have searched out],
9 Also to enlighten all men and make plain to them what is the plan [regarding the Gentiles and providing for the salvation of all men] of the mystery kept hidden through the ages and concealed until now in [the mind of] God Who created all things by Christ Jesus.
10 [The purpose is] that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere.
11 This is in accordance with the terms of the eternal and timeless purpose which He has realized and carried into effect in [the person of] Christ Jesus our Lord,
12 In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear).
13 So I ask you not to lose heart [not to faint or become despondent through fear] at what I am suffering in your behalf. [Rather glory in it] for it is an honor to you.
14 For this reason seeing the greatness of this plan by which you are built together in Christ], I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 For Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named [that Father from Whom all fatherhood takes its title and derives its name].
16 May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality].
17 May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, 18 That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it];
19 [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!
20 Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]—
21 To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it).
(Bible verses quoted from Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC) Ephesians 3: red letters added)
[ The Scriptures Opened ] Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”
[ Jesus Identifies His Betrayer ] “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’
They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.” Therefore the soldiers did these things.
In order that the maleh chukat haTorah (the full statute requirement of the Torah, see VAYIKRA 18:5) might be fulfilled in us whose halakhah is in the Derech [HaChayyim] (the Way of Life) according to the Ruach Hakodesh and not in accordance with the basar.
[ End of The Babylonian Captivity ] Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying,
Prayer Cards (Quoted from online source) 31 Days of Prayer for Israel
Father God, remove the veil You have sovereignly placed over the eyes of Israel, that they would recognize Jesus as their Messiah. (2 Corinthians 3:14)
Lord, show Your mercy and favor to Israel in this set time. (Psalms 102:13)
We pray for the current leaders in Israel, including the prime minister, the mayor of Jerusalem, and all those in military service. Raise up government leaders in Israel (and worldwide) who will not seek to “divide the land,” and who would recognize the unique significance of Jerusalem in God’s end-time purposes.
He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock. (Jeremiah 31:10) Father, continue to draw the Jewish people to You according to Your sovereign plan.
Let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Zion. Let them be as grass upon the housetops, which withers before it grows up. (Psalms 129:5–6) Lord, deal justly and swiftly with Your enemies.
Destroy and divide the tongues of those who would incite violence against Israel. (Psalms 55:9) In the name of Jesus, we bind every false religion and false doctrine that does not acknowledge Your eternal plan for the land and people of Israel.
The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous. (Psalms 125:3) Father, break the strongholds of religion, pride and wickedness that seek to control Israel.
The Lord will not forsake His people for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make Israel His people. (1 Samuel 12:22) Use us to help others understand Your plan for Israel and Your love for the Jewish people.
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes their plans of no effect. (Psalms 33:10) We declare that God’s purposes for Israel will be completely fulfilled and that He will be glorified.
Show Your lovingkindness to Your people Israel and keep them as the apple of Your eye. Hide them under the shadow of Your wings, from the wicked who oppress them, from their deadly enemies who surround them. (Psalms 17:7–9)
We pray that You would remember your covenants and promises towards Israel, especially when others rise up against her to swallow her alive. When their wrath is kindled against her, the waters will not overwhelm her. God will not give her as prey to their teeth. (Psalms 124)
Sanctify Your great name which has been profaned among the nations, which has been profaned in the midst of Israel. That nations shall know that the Lord is God, when He is sanctified in Israel before their eyes. Sprinkle the clean water of Your Word on Israel and cleanse her from her filthiness and from all her idols, including abortion and the occult. Give Israel a new heart, and put a new spirit within her. Remove her heart of stone and give her a heart of flesh that can respond to the Holy Spirit, and cause her to walk in Your statutes, keep Your commandments and do them. (Ezekiel 36:23–27)
Cause the church to fulfill its commission to preach the Gospel to the whole world, so the full number of the Gentiles would come into the Kingdom. Then all Israel will be saved. (Romans 11:25–26)
We pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalms 122:6) and for it to remain Israel’s undivided capital.
Father, in Your mercy vanquish the tremendously powerful religious spirits which dominate the whole territory—Jewish, Christian and others.
We pray for a spirit of unity—for peace between religious and secular Jews, for peace to exist between believers in the land.
We pray for the body of Messiah in Israel to become a praying, maturing body. We pray that this body would allow the love and compassion of Yeshua to flow through them and touch everyone they encounter.
Raise up intercessors for Israel. Put more watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem, who would give You no peace day or night until You establish Jerusalem and make her the praise of the earth. (Isaiah 62:6–7).
Father, bring glory to Your name through the mercy You show to the land. Bring the necessary seasonal rain upon the country. Cause the crops to be bountiful.
We pray that the three spiritual forces of humanism, Marxist- socialist philosophy, and the spiritual inheritance of the Ottoman Empire will be broken and rendered powerless.
Bless Israel through the many immigrants who are flowing back to the nation. Bring a sovereign, supernatural move of the Holy Spirit among these new immigrants, that they might proclaim Your truth to their fellow Jews.
We pray for a radical change in the Israeli system of government, that divisiveness and partisanship would give way to unity and cooperation; grant wisdom and revelation to all members of the Knesset and Israel’s Supreme Court.
We pray that, in the midst of the pressures, the people of Israel will turn to You, God. We pray that You will hear the heart cries of people in this land and have mercy. As it says in Isaiah 30:19, “You shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry. When He hears it, He will answer.”
Pour out Your Spirit upon the people of Israel—especially upon the young people so that your works can be declared to future generations.
Raise up “sons of Zion” who take God’s word seriously in opposition to the humanistic “sons of Greece.” (Zechariah 9:13)
We pray for the Holy Spirit to intervene in the current situation in Israel. “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19)
Turn the hearts of the people of Israel to trust in the name of the Lord for deliverance—not in the “chariots and horses” of their military might. (Zechariah 4:6)
God, raise up elders and young leaders to teach and train the new generation of Israelis who are coming to faith in the Messiah.
We pray that the Palestinian Arabs will come to faith in Christ and embrace God’s end-time purpose for Israel; send forth laborers to bring in the appointed harvest from the whole of the Middle East.
May Israel’s relationship with the United States be strong, and may our nation—and especially young believers—recognize and support God’s purposes for Israel.
Lord, we ask that young believers in America would come to love the Jewish people as they seek to prepare the way for the return of Messiah.
“According to Western diplomats, Vimont said France wants to reach a consensus among the participating states on a balanced statement that would stress the centrality of the two-state solution to the international community, but would take this month’s transfer of presidential power in the United States into account.
After receiving comments, the French drew up a new draft (the document being quoted here).
Western diplomats noted that there will be two more rounds of consultations on the statement’s wording before the conference, as well as discussions among the foreign ministers at the conference itself, but they did not anticipate any dramatic changes in the text.
The statement clarifies that the participating countries are committed to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and emphasizes that “a negotiated solution with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, is the only way to achieve enduring peace.”
It says the international community expects Israel and the Palestinians to reiterate their commitment to the two-state solution and “to take urgent steps in order to reverse the current negative trends on the ground and to start meaningful, direct negotiations.”
The updated draft includes a nod to last month’s speech by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, “in which he stressed that no solution could be imposed and outlined his vision of principles for a final status agreement.” However, the draft text does not enumerate or adopt the six principles Kerry said must underlie the quest for peace. Nevertheless, it states that the two-state solution must balance between Israel’s security needs and the rights of the Palestinians to a state and sovereignty, and the end of the occupation.
Last month’s UN Security Council vote on the settlements is also mentioned. The conference participants “welcomed the adoption” of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 on December 23, “which clearly condemned settlement activity, incitement and violence, and called on both sides to take steps to advance the two-state solution on the ground.”….” (http://www.israpundit.org/archives/63620731)