Who do you serve? Who do you live for?

Joshua 24:15 New King James Version (NKJV)

15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

How many of us profess with our lips ‘Jesus is Lord’, but continue to live willfully against His commands? We say, ‘Sorry God, forgive me.’, but we do not even try to turn away from the sins we are committing. We rebel against His commands and continue to live selfish unrepentant lives.

Matthew 7:21-23

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

His grace is not a license for us to continue to live in sin.

Romans 6:1-4

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

When we repent and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, who we were is not who we are to be. we are new creations in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

None of us are without sin. We repent and turn from the sins we commit and we hold fast to His Word and show Him we love Him by keeping His commands. No excuses can erase any wrong we continue to commit.

Romans 6:15-18

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

He will not force you to obey Him. It is your choice. He has given freewill to each of us to choose for ourselves how we live and who we live for.

So I ask, ‘Who do you serve, and who do you live for?

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Unyielding Vessels

Instructions have been given to you but you did not do exactly how you were told to perform the task. You thought that you knew a better way. You brought attention to yourself when you were to do the task quietly. Your reward came from men and not from God because of this. How many blessings have you missed because of your refusal to do as you were told to do? How many blessings have you from another because you you would not let go of your own ways.

What areas in your life have you not yielded to Jesus? I know there are things in my life that I have not let go of. I make excuses and reasons that I don’t have to do so right now. I can do it later, or it really isn’t that important, and the list goes on. I am then being an unyielding vessel. My wants, desires and convenience has become more important than doing what God has asked me to do, or not do.

Then there are the things that I have done but instead of doing the task without bringing attention to myself, I announce what I am doing or what I have done. I got the glory when it belonged to God. It was not mine, I was just to be His vessel and carry his message and His love. This does not mean when you have done something for Jesus and someone thanks you that you are wrong, but you should do the task what ever it is without expectation of any reward. Also do it without grumbling and complaining, but do it with a joyful attitude even if what you are called to do is difficult, or you think it is beneath you.

We should be willing vessels. Prepared to do what we are called for at the time we are asked. God will not force you to do it, but then if you refuse, you are the only one keeping you from the blessing He has for you. Remember in the story of Esther, when her cousin sends word to her of how she needed to go to the king to save the Jews who were going to be put to death? He tells her if she does not do this, her fate will be as the rest of her people for she was a Jew. (If Esther approached the king without his invitation, even though she was his wife, she faced death.) He also said that she did not do what was being asked, God would find another. You know the rest of the story, and Esther did save her people. She was obedient even though she put her own life on the line to do so. I have to remind myself of her story when there are things that I have to do, that are unpleasant or even seem impossible for me to do. I then have to remember that even if I don’t have what I need to do what I am called to do, God will provide me with what ever I need to do His will, and in doing this it is truly Him working through me, and not works of my own flesh, or for me to seek reward.

I pray that when God asks me to do something that I will simply obey and know that it His will that shall be done, and that the glory belongs to Him.

Esther chapter 4

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Esther+4&version=HCSB

Esther chaper 5

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Esther+5&version=HCSB

Job 22:21 Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.

 

 

Do Not Steal

When you think of stealing, you think of it in different levels. Taking a candy bar without paying for it seems of little concern for you. Yet the store it was stolen from paid for the merchandise and is now at a lost. A person may start with something as minor as this, and gradually they take more and more thinking that they are not hurting anyone. It is not like they are holding a gun to anyone’s head,right? Well that is until they do. Someone robs a store, a bank, car jacking,  or a home robbery just to name a few instances. Is this all a person can steal though?

Jacob stole a blessing from his brother Esau. No he didn’t sneak into his tent when his brother was not home and steal it like a thief in the night. He took the blessing in the light of day. Then how could this be considered stealing? Let us look at the definition of stealing and the story of Jacob.

steal verb \ˈstēl\ – Simple Definition of steal

  • : to take (something that does not belong to you) in a way that is wrong or illegal

  • : to take (something that you are not supposed to have) without asking for permission

  • : to wrongly take and use (another person’s idea, words, etc.)

Source: Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary
  1. intransitive verb 1:  to take the property of another wrongfully and especially as a habitual or regular practice 2:  to come or go secretly, unobtrusively, gradually, or unexpectedly 3:  to steal or attempt to steal a base
  2. transitive verb 1a :  to take or appropriate without right or leave and with intent to keep or make use of wrongfully <stole a car>b :  to take away by force or unjust means <they’ve stolen our liberty>c :  to take surreptitiously or without permission <steal a kiss>d :  to appropriate to oneself or beyond one’s proper share :  make oneself the focus of<steal the show>  2a :  to move, convey, or introduce secretly :  smuggleb :  to accomplish in a concealed or unobserved manner <steal a visit> 3a :  to seize, gain, or win by trickery, skill, or daring <a basketball player adept at stealing the ball> <stole the election>b of a base runner :  to reach (a base) safely solely by running and usually catching the opposing team off guard
 steal a march on – :  to gain an advantage on unobserved

steal one’s thunder – :  to grab attention from another especially by anticipating an idea, plan, or presentation;also :  to claim credit for another’s idea

 

Jacob and Esau

Read Genesis 25:19-34

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+25%3A19-34&version=ESV

Read Genesis 27

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+27&version=NLT

Meaning of the name Jacob and it’s history

From the Latin Iacobus, which was from the Greek Ιακωβος (Iakobos), which was from the Hebrew name יַעֲקֹב (Ya’aqov). In the Old Testament, Jacob (later called Israel) is the son of Isaac and Rebecca and the father of the twelve founders of the twelve tribes of Israel. He was born holding his twin brother Esau‘s heel, and his name is explained as meaning “holder of the heel” or “supplanter”. Other theories claim that it is in fact derived from a hypothetical name like יַעֲקֹבְאֵל (Ya’aqov’el) meaning “may God protect”.

http://www.behindthename.com/name/jacob

one who follows on another’s heels; supplanter, ( Genesis 25:26 ; 27:36 ; Hosea 12:2-4 ), the second born of the twin sons of Isaac by Rebekah. He was born probably at Lahai-roi, when his father was fifty-nine and Abraham one hundred and fifty-nine years old. Like his father, he was of a quiet and gentle disposition, and when he grew up followed the life of a shepherd, while his brother Esau became an enterprising hunter. His dealing with Esau, however, showed much mean selfishness and cunning ( Genesis 25:29-34 ).

http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/jacob/

supplant – 1:  to supersede (another) especially by force or treachery 2a (1) obsolete :  uproot (2) :  to eradicate and supply a substitute for <efforts to supplant the vernacular>b :  to take the place of and serve as a substitute for especially by reason of superior excellence or power

 

Question for thought; Did Jacob actually steal from his brother, or did Esau give it to him?

Looks like Jacob had a bad start in life. Even inside f the womb he fought with his brother. His brother was first and he came in second. His father favored Esau and Rebekah favored him. He used his brothers hunger and exhaustion to his own favor and bought Esau’s birthright for a bowl of stew.  If someone gave you a bowl of soup for all you had would you not say that you got ripped off? Of course you would. Then there are those who would say you were a fool and got what you deserved. That topic can be discussed at a later time. I would like to stay on the topic of stealing. Rebekah was the one who came up with the plan to deceive Isaac so that he would give him the blessing he was to give Esau. Jacob new this was wrong but he took what was not his. You know the rest of the story.Esau wants to kill his brother so Jacob has to flee.If had done what was right he would not have had to runaway. So my answer is yes he did steal.

(A blessing could be given regardless of birthright. However, a greater blessing was given to the one who held the birthright. After Jacob’s deception, Esau complained that “he took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” (Genesis 27:36). Esau begged his father for some type of blessing to be given to him, and he did receive a secondary, inferior blessing (verses 38-40).

http://www.gotquestions.org/blessing-birthright.html

The Bible is clear about stealing.

Exodus 20:15 – “You shall not steal.
Ephesians 4:28 – He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.
John 10:10 – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
Leviticus 19:11 – ‘You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.

Psalm 62:10 – Do not trust in oppression And do not vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.
Mark 10:19 – “You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.'”
Luke 18:20 – “You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.'”
Romans 2:21 – you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal?

So we can steal more than a candy bar, more than money, cars, and any other worldly possession, We can steal blessings and joy. We need to be careful that we do not do this to another, even ones who hurt and wrong us. We cannot take that which is not ours from anyone.

John 10:10 (NKJV)  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Be on guard at all times. Take every thought captive. Keep your tongue bridled and your actions in check. Be careful to do no harm. Then always remember what Jesus said,”If you love Me, keep my commands.”

 

The Work Is Complete

work in progress 1

It began as a branch that had fallen from a tree. Cut and sanded it began to become something new.

Then the first coat of paint was applied.

It began to take form and an image began to appear.

Art and photography by Julie Sheppard

Now here it is finished with a coat of varnish to protect it. What began as a branch is now a staff. It took time and effort but now that it is finished it has purpose and is ready for use.

Inspiration for what is painted on this staff came from the story of Moses and when he had to go back to Egypt to free the slaves. At one point in the story God tells Moses to throw down his staff and it became a snake. Then God tells him to pick the snake up by the tail and it turned back into a staff.

Moses’ Staff
Exodus 4:2-4 The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.” Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. But the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail “– so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand–…   New American Standard Bible

Now it was Aaron who threw done the staff when they were before Pharaoh

Aaron’s Staff Becomes a Serpent
Exodus 7:9-11“When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Work a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.'” 10 So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh,and thus they did just as the LORD had commanded;and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts.… New American Standard Bible

There are more stories that include a staff or rod being used but those I will save for a later time. Till then God bless and keep you from harm.

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I Heard You The First Time

How many times have you said to someone, ‘I heard you the first time, or you’ve told me that story before’?

Now how many times have you told the same story more than once?

To be honest I cannot count the times I have done either. When a person retells a story it is most likely because it is interesting or important to us.  Another reason is because that we might forget who we have shared this story with.

Thinking about this made me think about how many times that I have read the same book or watched the same move or TV show (a run). So what is the difference between a person retelling the same story and rereading the same story or watching a rerun?

Recently I was driving pat the local Veterans Museum. I told the person in the car with me how nice it was and how friendly the volunteers who ran it were. Their response was you told me that the last time we past it. The way they said that made me feel like I had annoyed them. I felt bad and apologized. This made me feel defensive. Even though I did not say how felt, I did think to myself about asking them, “And how many times have you repeated yourself? In this instance I was only sharing an experience that I had enjoyed and just wanted to share that experience with another.

Unfortunately not every story that I retell is positive like this one was. There are past events that range for painful to even tragic. Yet no matter how many times I retell the accounts  of these events, they do not change what had happened.

Not all stories are pleasant and happy. Too many are painful and even terrifying. No matter what they are about they are our stories.

I cannot count how many times I have read my Bible, and quoted scriptures. The stories in the Bible never change and neither do the scriptures. N matter how many times I read or speak the words found in the Bible it is the same every time.

The Ten Commandments can be read in both the book of Exodus or Leviticus. The commandments are referred to in the New Testament as well. Fear not is repeated 365 times. I can continue making this list but I think you get my point.

If you are a parent you repeat yourself probably every day. You tell your children to do their chores or their home work and some listen but the ones who do not you tell them again what they need to do. If they still do not do what they are told you discipline them. You also tell them not to do things and they still do what you tell them not to do. You set rules and must enforce them if you want them to be kept. Part of this is repeating what you have said multiple times. You do not do this because it is fun or because you enjoy doing so, but you want to protect your children from harm and you want them to have a good and safe life.

God is our Heavenly Father, and He loves us better than we know how to love. His wisdom is greater than ours. He truly knows what is best for us, and what will cause us harm. He repeats Himself and disciplines us when He has to because He loves us even when we refuse to listen to Him. He does not control us but sets rules to keep us safe and so that we can live life and prosper.

This is just food for thought.

God bless and prosper you.

Deuteronomy 5:33

Deut 5 vs 34

Deuteronomy 5:33 (NIV)

33 Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.

Obedience to God’s command’s leads to life. These commandments are not to keep us from living life but to keep us safe from all harm, so we may live a full and abundant life.