“We make it easy for the devil when we don’t know who we are or Who made us.”~TB
Identity is a powerful concept. Our interpretation of who we believe we are shapes our thoughts, behaviors, relationships, and so on. If you know God, your personal understanding of your identity changes. First, you are His, everything else becomes secondary. If you don’t know God, first, you lack an accurate perspective on identity, allowing your flesh, the world, and the opposition to plant confusion in your ear. Today, the idea of identity has been severely skewed with dangerous misconceptions. I used to think that people were duped because they didn’t have the resources to know God (As I type this, I realize that initial thought was foolish because God is omnipotent). But now, I realize we are in the shape that we’re in— both physically and mentally— because we want what is easy. Friend’s take caution as easy street is the opposition’s breeding ground.
Knowing God is simple— not necessarily easy. It takes discipline to continue to fall, get back up, learn, and repeat. Just like learning a new skill, continual practice is vital in growing your relationship with God. Unfortunately, we’ve built a society that demonizes hard work and champions complacency. It’s so blatant that we complicate our lives to justify our laziness. Think about it, people will make excuses rather than do the work. People will also justify mutilating their bodies based on how they feel, rather than trying to get to the heart of their true identity. This isn’t to say that those who struggle aren’t fighting something difficult. Choosing easy feels like a ‘get out of responsibility’ card, and trust me I get it. Problem is, easy doesn’t benefit tomorrow and when tomorrow fades, we all have to give an account, no matter which road we chose. So know your true identity and choose wisely.
Do you want easy or eternal?
Enjoy the reading
1Listen, Ethiopia —land of fluttering sails that lies at the headwaters of the Nile,
2that sends ambassadors in swift boats down the river. Go, swift messengers! Take a message to a tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction, and whose land is divided by rivers.
3All you people of the world, everyone who lives on the earth— when I raise my battle flag on the mountain, look! When I blow the ram’s horn, listen!
4For the LORD has told me this: “I will watch quietly from my dwelling place— as quietly as the heat rises on a summer day, or as the morning dew forms during the harvest.”
5Even before you begin your attack, while your plans are ripening like grapes, the LORD will cut off your new growth with pruning shears. He will snip off and discard your spreading branches.
6Your mighty army will be left dead in the fields for the mountain vultures and wild animals. The vultures will tear at the corpses all summer. The wild animals will gnaw at the bones all winter.
7At that time the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will receive gifts from this land divided by rivers, from this tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction. They will bring the gifts to Jerusalem, where the LORD of Heaven’s Armies dwells.
“The salvation of Christ is the only thing that makes us valid.”~TB
Consulting self-help gurus, thought leaders, influencers, and peers who tout a false reality of what a valid life experience looks like has become standard practice. Thanks to our lookie-loo mentalities, there is an invalid acceptance that people crave that ultimately has nothing to do with Who made us and how we actually work. External and physical validity is superficial at best and downright depressing at worst. Because once you’ve achieved your targeted status in the world, one realizes that it actually does not fill the void you are looking to complete.
A connection with Christ is the only real antidote in this strange world. Knowing God on a deeper, everyday level brings a sense of true peace, contentment, and understanding that is second to none. With this, you stop looking to the outside and seek the internal answers that only He can give. When you build that relationship, you understand the sacrifice of salvation and the authenticity of the one who paid that price. It brings a wholeness knowing that you are loved and valid based on that act alone and
Do you prefer the fool’s gold of public opinion to the priceless validity of Christ?
Enjoy the reading
1Hear the word that the LORD speaks to you, O Israel!
2This is what the LORD says: “Do not act like the other nations, who try to read their future in the stars. Do not be afraid of their predictions, even though other nations are terrified by them.
3Their ways are futile and foolish. They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol.
4They decorate it with gold and silver and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails so it won’t fall over.
5Their gods are like helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field! They cannot speak, and they need to be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of such gods, for they can neither harm you nor do you any good.”
6LORD, there is no one like you! For you are great, and your name is full of power.
7Who would not fear you, O King of nations? That title belongs to you alone! Among all the wise people of the earth and in all the kingdoms of the world, there is no one like you.
8People who worship idols are stupid and foolish. The things they worship are made of wood!
9They bring beaten sheets of silver from Tarshish and gold from Uphaz, and they give these materials to skillful craftsmen who make their idols. Then they dress these gods in royal blue and purple robes made by expert tailors.
10But the LORD is the only true God. He is the living God and the everlasting King! The whole earth trembles at his anger. The nations cannot stand up to his wrath.
11Say this to those who worship other gods: “Your so-called gods, who did not make the heavens and earth, will vanish from the earth and from under the heavens.”
12But the LORD made the earth by his power, and he preserves it by his wisdom. With his own understanding he stretched out the heavens.
13When he speaks in the thunder, the heavens roar with rain. He causes the clouds to rise over the earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses.
14The whole human race is foolish and has no knowledge! The craftsmen are disgraced by the idols they make, for their carefully shaped works are a fraud. These idols have no breath or power.
15Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies! On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed.
16But the God of Israel is no idol! He is the Creator of everything that exists, including Israel, his own special possession. The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
17Pack your bags and prepare to leave; the siege is about to begin.
18For this is what the LORD says: “Suddenly, I will fling out all you who live in this land. I will pour great troubles upon you, and at last you will feel my anger.”
19My wound is severe, and my grief is great. My sickness is incurable, but I must bear it.
20My home is gone, and no one is left to help me rebuild it. My children have been taken away, and I will never see them again.
21The shepherds of my people have lost their senses. They no longer seek wisdom from the LORD . Therefore, they fail completely, and their flocks are scattered.
22Listen! Hear the terrifying roar of great armies as they roll down from the north. The towns of Judah will be destroyed and become a haunt for jackals.
23I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.
24So correct me, LORD, but please be gentle. Do not correct me in anger, for I would die.
25Pour out your wrath on the nations that refuse to acknowledge you— on the peoples that do not call upon your name. For they have devoured your people Israel ; they have devoured and consumed them, making the land a desolate wilderness.
“When you forgive others as God forgives you, you are essentially giving each other a rebrand, cleaning the slate as God does for all of His Kids.”~TB
A dog shows its belly– the most vulnerable part of its body– to those it trusts. But if said trusted individual kicks the dog in the belly, that dog will be sure not to show weakness to that person again. We as people tend to have that mindset when dealing with each other. Forgiveness is difficult because at the root of it exists pain and mistrust. Our thought process is: “how can I trust that person if they’ve hurt me?”. And to be completely honest, it’s tough. While I try to quickly forgive and turn the other cheek, I too have to reconcile the pain and mistrust that happens when those close to us let us down in one way or the other. That’s where God steps in– if you ask and allow Him to.
Give It Up
The pain and sorrow of transgressions are not for us to hold on to. In fact, we are supposed to give those things to God, because we lack the ability to process those things in a Christ-like manner on our own. When you give the transgressions and burdens to our Father in Heaven, He makes a way in us to love and extend forgiveness to our brothers and sisters. This is because He forgives us so freely and willingly each and every time, when you experience that kind of mercy, it becomes easier to share it with those around you. More to the point, when you practice honest, Biblical, forgiveness, not only do you allow the transgressor the ability to change, but so do you.
Have you ever been looked at as the person you once were rather than the person you are? It’s not fun carrying an outdated interpretation of your past, no matter how far you’ve come to make amends. It’s tough to change and grow when we all hold each other to the less than stellar moments in our lives. Trust me, we all have those moments. But to keep each other in those chains, it stagnates growth and community. That’s what happens when we do not forgive each other. Instead, give people space and grace to grow and be who God made them to be. By wiping the slate clean the act of forgiveness is a mutual endeavor that gives not only the parties involved the chance to start again, but those who are watching can accurately see that person as they truly are too. I’ve seen firsthand what a rebranded person looks and behaves like when given the opportunity. I hope that we all can tap into the Holy Spirit to grant each other that chance to rebrand and change too,
Are you giving space and grace to allow your brothers and sisters to rebrand; or are you stagnating the healing process?
Enjoy the reading
1If only my head were a pool of water and my eyes a fountain of tears, I would weep day and night for all my people who have been slaughtered.
2Oh, that I could go away and forget my people and live in a travelers’ shack in the desert. For they are all adulterers— a pack of treacherous liars.
3“My people bend their tongues like bows to shoot out lies. They refuse to stand up for the truth. They only go from bad to worse. They do not know me,” says the LORD .
4“Beware of your neighbor! Don’t even trust your brother! For brother takes advantage of brother, and friend slanders friend.
5They all fool and defraud each other; no one tells the truth. With practiced tongues they tell lies; they wear themselves out with all their sinning.
6They pile lie upon lie and utterly refuse to acknowledge me,” says the LORD .
7Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “See, I will melt them down in a crucible and test them like metal. What else can I do with my people?
8For their tongues shoot lies like poisoned arrows. They speak friendly words to their neighbors while scheming in their heart to kill them.
9Should I not punish them for this?” says the LORD . “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?”
10I will weep for the mountains and wail for the wilderness pastures. For they are desolate and empty of life; the lowing of cattle is heard no more; the birds and wild animals have all fled.
11“I will make Jerusalem into a heap of ruins,” says the LORD . “It will be a place haunted by jackals. The towns of Judah will be ghost towns, with no one living in them.”
12Who is wise enough to understand all this? Who has been instructed by the LORD and can explain it to others? Why has the land been so ruined that no one dares to travel through it?
13The LORD replies, “This has happened because my people have abandoned my instructions; they have refused to obey what I said.
14Instead, they have stubbornly followed their own desires and worshiped the images of Baal, as their ancestors taught them.
15So now, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: Look! I will feed them with bitterness and give them poison to drink.
16I will scatter them around the world, in places they and their ancestors never heard of, and even there I will chase them with the sword until I have destroyed them completely.”
17This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “Consider all this, and call for the mourners. Send for the women who mourn at funerals.
18Quick! Begin your weeping! Let the tears flow from your eyes.
19Hear the people of Jerusalem crying in despair, ‘We are ruined! We are completely humiliated! We must leave our land, because our homes have been torn down.’”
20Listen, you women, to the words of the LORD ; open your ears to what he has to say. Teach your daughters to wail; teach one another how to lament.
21For death has crept in through our windows and has entered our mansions. It has killed off the flower of our youth: Children no longer play in the streets, and young men no longer gather in the squares.
22This is what the LORD says: “Bodies will be scattered across the fields like clumps of manure, like bundles of grain after the harvest. No one will be left to bury them.”
23This is what the LORD says: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches.
24But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken!
25“A time is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will punish all those who are circumcised in body but not in spirit—
26the Egyptians, Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, the people who live in the desert in remote places, and yes, even the people of Judah. And like all these pagan nations, the people of Israel also have uncircumcised hearts.”
“Do not avoid uncomfortable situations or moments. Instead, walk boldly in the truth that God is with you in all things.”~TB
The world teaches us to avoid unpleasant experiences. Human logic dictates that if the moment induces discomfort, it must be a bad thing, therefore we remove the “yucky stuff” from our lives. What an amazingly ironic and counterproductive paradigm! The problem with that ideology is that it eliminates the most vital and necessary aspect of our spiritual growth. Through the unpleasant times, we get to grow closer and know God in a more personal and one-on-one manner. In fact, it’s those uncomfortable and painful moments where we grow the most. That is if we take them as they are and not as we perceive them to be.
When I was a kid in elementary school, we’d have the opportunity to participate in an art class. Some of the projects included working with clay, making different sorts of things. I loved it. Being able to mold and shape things– essentially making something out of nothing– is something I love. My favorite part was seeing my work after it was fired in the kiln. For those that don’t know, a kiln is a heating chamber that transforms materials in high temperatures. When the clay is heated properly, it is then ready to be turned into a vessel. If you’ve ever worked clay, you’ve seen firsthand how a slippery and malleable substance is transformed into a sturdy and utilitarian product. God is the Kiln to our clay.
In order to be the vessel that God has called you to be, you must learn to reexamine your mind about the kiln process. Trials and tribulations are the firey elements that shore up your vessel. Without them, you remain mushy and unsustainable. When you avoid the molding and kiln of God, your ability to rise to the calling on your life is impossible. Don’t avoid the process, but trust that all things in your life are used to strengthen your relationship with God. Let the Bible mold you and your time with God be the fire that hardens the clay. In doing so, we see as God intended us to see. When that happens, we walk in the way that God called us to.
Are you going through the kiln or do you want to remain mushy and broken?
Enjoy the reading
1“In that day,” says the LORD, “the enemy will break open the graves of the kings and officials of Judah, and the graves of the priests, prophets, and common people of Jerusalem.
2They will spread out their bones on the ground before the sun, moon, and stars—the gods my people have loved, served, and worshiped. Their bones will not be gathered up again or buried but will be scattered on the ground like manure.
3And the people of this evil nation who survive will wish to die rather than live where I will send them. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!
4“Jeremiah, say to the people, ‘This is what the LORD says: “‘When people fall down, don’t they get up again? When they discover they’re on the wrong road, don’t they turn back?
5Then why do these people stay on their self-destructive path? Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back? They cling tightly to their lies and will not turn around.
6I listen to their conversations and don’t hear a word of truth. Is anyone sorry for doing wrong? Does anyone say, “What a terrible thing I have done”? No! All are running down the path of sin as swiftly as a horse galloping into battle!
7Even the stork that flies across the sky knows the time of her migration, as do the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane. They all return at the proper time each year. But not my people! They do not know the LORD ’s laws.
8“‘How can you say, “We are wise because we have the word of the LORD,” when your teachers have twisted it by writing lies?
9These wise teachers will fall into the trap of their own foolishness, for they have rejected the word of the LORD . Are they so wise after all?
10I will give their wives to others and their farms to strangers. From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. Yes, even my prophets and priests are like that. They are all frauds.
11They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace.
12Are they ashamed of these disgusting actions? Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered. They will be brought down when I punish them, says the LORD .
13I will surely consume them. There will be no more harvests of figs and grapes. Their fruit trees will all die. Whatever I gave them will soon be gone. I, the LORD, have spoken!’
14“Then the people will say, ‘Why should we wait here to die? Come, let’s go to the fortified towns and die there. For the LORD our God has decreed our destruction and has given us a cup of poison to drink because we sinned against the LORD .
15We hoped for peace, but no peace came. We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.’
16“The snorting of the enemies’ warhorses can be heard all the way from the land of Dan in the north! The neighing of their stallions makes the whole land tremble. They are coming to devour the land and everything in it— cities and people alike.
17I will send these enemy troops among you like poisonous snakes you cannot charm. They will bite you, and you will die. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
18My grief is beyond healing; my heart is broken.
19Listen to the weeping of my people; it can be heard all across the land. “Has the LORD abandoned Jerusalem? ” the people ask. “Is her King no longer there?” “Oh, why have they provoked my anger with their carved idols and their worthless foreign gods?” says the LORD .
20“The harvest is finished, and the summer is gone,” the people cry, “yet we are not saved!”
21I hurt with the hurt of my people. I mourn and am overcome with grief.
22Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people?
“Don’t be fooled by the guise of self-reliance because only God can allow our seeds to grow.”~TB
In the eyes of man, we applaud the idea that we can achieve anything based on our own merit. With our two hands, grit, and determination, we have everything we need. To the world, success happens by yourself on your own accord. Friends, while we have to play an active role in our lives, the belief that we don’t need anyone or anything is a fallacy. It conveniently leaves out our Maker and how His hand dictates the events that play out in our lives.
When you know who actually runs the show, you recognize how needy and dependent you actually are. In life, we need Christ to show us the way, to approve of our plans so that we build our lives on the firm foundation of God. Being and believing that you are indeed God-Made allows you to receive His instructions. It also encourages you to engage with the Body of Christ– the people around you– as you know it takes a village to succeed. So rather than relying on your flesh, rely on the One who first called you His so you can truly see what you are made of.
When the time comes to give your account, who do you want to vouch for you; yourself or Christ?
Enjoy the reading
1The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said,
2“Go to the entrance of the LORD ’s Temple, and give this message to the people: ‘O Judah, listen to this message from the LORD ! Listen to it, all of you who worship here!
3This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “‘Even now, if you quit your evil ways, I will let you stay in your own land.
4But don’t be fooled by those who promise you safety simply because the LORD ’s Temple is here. They chant, “The LORD ’s Temple is here! The LORD ’s Temple is here!”
5But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice;
6only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols.
7Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever.
8“‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie!
9Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours,
10and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, “We are safe!”—only to go right back to all those evils again?
11Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the LORD, have spoken!
12“‘Go now to the place at Shiloh where I once put the Tabernacle that bore my name. See what I did there because of all the wickedness of my people, the Israelites.
13While you were doing these wicked things, says the LORD, I spoke to you about it repeatedly, but you would not listen. I called out to you, but you refused to answer.
14So just as I destroyed Shiloh, I will now destroy this Temple that bears my name, this Temple that you trust in for help, this place that I gave to you and your ancestors.
15And I will send you out of my sight into exile, just as I did your relatives, the people of Israel. ’
16“Pray no more for these people, Jeremiah. Do not weep or pray for them, and don’t beg me to help them, for I will not listen to you.
17Don’t you see what they are doing throughout the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?
18No wonder I am so angry! Watch how the children gather wood and the fathers build sacrificial fires. See how the women knead dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. And they pour out liquid offerings to their other idol gods!
19Am I the one they are hurting?” asks the LORD . “Most of all, they hurt themselves, to their own shame.”
20So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “I will pour out my terrible fury on this place. Its people, animals, trees, and crops will be consumed by the unquenchable fire of my anger.”
21This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Take your burnt offerings and your other sacrifices and eat them yourselves!
22When I led your ancestors out of Egypt, it was not burnt offerings and sacrifices I wanted from them.
23This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’
24“But my people would not listen to me. They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward.
25From the day your ancestors left Egypt until now, I have continued to send my servants, the prophets—day in and day out.
26But my people have not listened to me or even tried to hear. They have been stubborn and sinful—even worse than their ancestors.
27“Tell them all this, but do not expect them to listen. Shout out your warnings, but do not expect them to respond.
28Say to them, ‘This is the nation whose people will not obey the LORD their God and who refuse to be taught. Truth has vanished from among them; it is no longer heard on their lips.
29Shave your head in mourning, and weep alone on the mountains. For the LORD has rejected and forsaken this generation that has provoked his fury.’
30“The people of Judah have sinned before my very eyes,” says the LORD . “They have set up their abominable idols right in the Temple that bears my name, defiling it.
31They have built pagan shrines at Topheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!
32So beware, for the time is coming,” says the LORD, “when that garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. They will bury the bodies in Topheth until there is no more room for them.
33The bodies of my people will be food for the vultures and wild animals, and no one will be left to scare them away.
34I will put an end to the happy singing and laughter in the streets of Jerusalem. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard in the towns of Judah. The land will lie in complete desolation.
“Consider it as joy when you suffer for what is right. God will balance the scales in all things.”~TB
Through the Fire
If we believe that the Bible is accurate and true, we must accept the trouble that is a byproduct of following God’s will in our lives. When you are working for the Lord, giving Him your best, don’t be surprised when evil people seek to throw you in the fire. While it is human to want to crawl out of the pit, fearing for your safety, rest assured God is with you, keeping you from being burned.
In your time of waiting for man-made judgment take comfort in knowing that God has declared you not guilty on all accounts. The devil will always make your waiting time appear more dire and severe than it truly is. Looking back at certain trials of my life while the waiting period was insanely frustrating, scary, and uncertain to my eyes, I realize as I sit here today, I was never harmed! So, if you are working for the Lord, being a humble servant, opposition and persecution are par for the course but know that God has the final say in the end and He will restore all that and more to those who remain faithful.
Are you not guilty or are you falsely accusing those who are?
Enjoy the reading
1“Run for your lives, you people of Benjamin! Get out of Jerusalem! Sound the alarm in Tekoa! Send up a signal at Beth-hakkerem! A powerful army is coming from the north, coming with disaster and destruction.
2O Jerusalem, you are my beautiful and delicate daughter— but I will destroy you!
3Enemies will surround you, like shepherds camped around the city. Each chooses a place for his troops to devour.
4They shout, ‘Prepare for battle! Attack at noon!’ ‘No, it’s too late; the day is fading, and the evening shadows are falling.’
5‘Well then, let’s attack at night and destroy her palaces!’”
6This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “Cut down the trees for battering rams. Build siege ramps against the walls of Jerusalem. This is the city to be punished, for she is wicked through and through.
7She spouts evil like a fountain. Her streets echo with the sounds of violence and destruction. I always see her sickness and sores.
8Listen to this warning, Jerusalem, or I will turn from you in disgust. Listen, or I will turn you into a heap of ruins, a land where no one lives.”
9This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “Even the few who remain in Israel will be picked over again, as when a harvester checks each vine a second time to pick the grapes that were missed.”
10To whom can I give warning? Who will listen when I speak? Their ears are closed, and they cannot hear. They scorn the word of the LORD . They don’t want to listen at all.
11So now I am filled with the LORD ’s fury. Yes, I am tired of holding it in! “I will pour out my fury on children playing in the streets and on gatherings of young men, on husbands and wives and on those who are old and gray.
12Their homes will be turned over to their enemies, as will their fields and their wives. For I will raise my powerful fist against the people of this land,” says the LORD .
13“From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. From prophets to priests, they are all frauds.
14They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace.
15Are they ashamed of their disgusting actions? Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered. They will be brought down when I punish them,” says the LORD .
16This is what the LORD says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’
17I posted watchmen over you who said, ‘Listen for the sound of the alarm.’ But you replied, ‘No! We won’t pay attention!’
18“Therefore, listen to this, all you nations. Take note of my people’s situation.
19Listen, all the earth! I will bring disaster on my people. It is the fruit of their own schemes, because they refuse to listen to me. They have rejected my word.
20There’s no use offering me sweet frankincense from Sheba. Keep your fragrant calamus imported from distant lands! I will not accept your burnt offerings. Your sacrifices have no pleasing aroma for me.”
21Therefore, this is what the LORD says: “I will put obstacles in my people’s path. Fathers and sons will both fall over them. Neighbors and friends will die together.”
22This is what the LORD says: “Look! A great army coming from the north! A great nation is rising against you from far-off lands.
23They are armed with bows and spears. They are cruel and show no mercy. They sound like a roaring sea as they ride forward on horses. They are coming in battle formation, planning to destroy you, beautiful Jerusalem. ”
24We have heard reports about the enemy, and we wring our hands in fright. Pangs of anguish have gripped us, like those of a woman in labor.
25Don’t go out to the fields! Don’t travel on the roads! The enemy’s sword is everywhere and terrorizes us at every turn!
26Oh, my people, dress yourselves in burlap and sit among the ashes. Mourn and weep bitterly, as for the loss of an only son. For suddenly the destroying armies will be upon you!
27“Jeremiah, I have made you a tester of metals, that you may determine the quality of my people.
28They are the worst kind of rebel, full of slander. They are as hard as bronze and iron, and they lead others into corruption.
29The bellows fiercely fan the flames to burn out the corruption. But it does not purify them, for the wickedness remains.
30I will label them ‘Rejected Silver,’ for I, the LORD, am discarding them.”
“Start your day with Him to put your best foot forward.”~TB
In the Beginning
Give God the first fruits of your day so that you can download the vital information. This way you can have the resources to attack your daily grind with the best information out there; from God. When you take that time in the morning, you find the best way to go about your daily responsibilities because you understand that you’re not working for man, but for God Himself.
At the End
When you give your daily first fruits, your day is spent and your sleep is earned because you obeyed our Father in Heaven. We tend to stay out of trouble and harms way because we followed our path, minimizing the human propensities of looking at other people’s paths. God gives us ample instructions and assignments to ensure that we are successful. To be connected to your purpose, be consistent in your first fruits.
Are you giving your first fruits or your first excuses in the morning?
Enjoy the reading
1“Run up and down every street in Jerusalem,” says the LORD . “Look high and low; search throughout the city! If you can find even one just and honest person, I will not destroy the city.
2But even when they are under oath, saying, ‘As surely as the LORD lives,’ they are still telling lies!”
3LORD, you are searching for honesty. You struck your people, but they paid no attention. You crushed them, but they refused to be corrected. They are determined, with faces set like stone; they have refused to repent.
4Then I said, “But what can we expect from the poor? They are ignorant. They don’t know the ways of the LORD . They don’t understand God’s laws.
5So I will go and speak to their leaders. Surely they know the ways of the LORD and understand God’s laws.” But the leaders, too, as one man, had thrown off God’s yoke and broken his chains.
6So now a lion from the forest will attack them; a wolf from the desert will pounce on them. A leopard will lurk near their towns, tearing apart any who dare to venture out. For their rebellion is great, and their sins are many.
7“How can I pardon you? For even your children have turned from me. They have sworn by gods that are not gods at all! I fed my people until they were full. But they thanked me by committing adultery and lining up at the brothels.
8They are well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.
9Should I not punish them for this?” says the LORD . “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?
10“Go down the rows of the vineyards and destroy the grapevines, leaving a scattered few alive. Strip the branches from the vines, for these people do not belong to the LORD .
11The people of Israel and Judah are full of treachery against me,” says the LORD .
12“They have lied about the LORD and said, ‘He won’t bother us! No disasters will come upon us. There will be no war or famine.
13God’s prophets are all windbags who don’t really speak for him. Let their predictions of disaster fall on themselves!’”
14Therefore, this is what the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies says: “Because the people are talking like this, my messages will flame out of your mouth and burn the people like kindling wood.
15O Israel, I will bring a distant nation against you,” says the LORD . “It is a mighty nation, an ancient nation, a people whose language you do not know, whose speech you cannot understand.
16Their weapons are deadly; their warriors are mighty.
17They will devour the food of your harvest; they will devour your sons and daughters. They will devour your flocks and herds; they will devour your grapes and figs. And they will destroy your fortified towns, which you think are so safe.
18“Yet even in those days I will not blot you out completely,” says the LORD .
19“And when your people ask, ‘Why did the LORD our God do all this to us?’ you must reply, ‘You rejected him and gave yourselves to foreign gods in your own land. Now you will serve foreigners in a land that is not your own.’
20“Make this announcement to Israel, and say this to Judah:
21Listen, you foolish and senseless people, with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear.
22Have you no respect for me? Why don’t you tremble in my presence? I, the LORD, define the ocean’s sandy shoreline as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross. The waves may toss and roar, but they can never pass the boundaries I set.
23But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned away and abandoned me.
24They do not say from the heart, ‘Let us live in awe of the LORD our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’
25Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.
26“Among my people are wicked men who lie in wait for victims like a hunter hiding in a blind. They continually set traps to catch people.
27Like a cage filled with birds, their homes are filled with evil plots. And now they are great and rich.
28They are fat and sleek, and there is no limit to their wicked deeds. They refuse to provide justice to orphans and deny the rights of the poor.
29Should I not punish them for this?” says the LORD . “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?
30A horrible and shocking thing has happened in this land—
31the prophets give false prophecies, and the priests rule with an iron hand. Worse yet, my people like it that way! But what will you do when the end comes?
“While in the lion’s den, be patient and productive so that you can learn the lessons and tools God can teach you in your time of waiting.”~TB
Waiting sucks. Especially when you’re at a time where you are waiting for something that despite your best efforts is being dragged out with no end in sight. During periods like these, I’m reminded of Daniel in the lion’s den. Even though the lions could not physically harm him, I’m willing to bet that being stuck in that situation was probably less than ideal. But still, he put his faith in God.
Just like those lions, our times of waiting will not be the end of us. It’s human nature to want to hone in and focus on the obstacles we cannot change. However, when we obsess over what we cannot do, we miss out on what we can. Instead of watching the pot, ask God how to best utilize the time that you have to continue His purpose for your life. Rejoice that whatever is causing your frustration is not the end and that in time, the wait will be over.
How are you handling the wait?
Enjoy the reading
1“O Israel,” says the LORD, “if you wanted to return to me, you could. You could throw away your detestable idols and stray away no more.
2Then when you swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the LORD lives,’ you could do so with truth, justice, and righteousness. Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world, and all people would come and praise my name.”
3This is what the LORD says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns.
4O people of Judah and Jerusalem, surrender your pride and power. Change your hearts before the LORD, or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins.
5“Shout to Judah, and broadcast to Jerusalem! Tell them to sound the alarm throughout the land: ‘Run for your lives! Flee to the fortified cities!’
6Raise a signal flag as a warning for Jerusalem : ‘Flee now! Do not delay!’ For I am bringing terrible destruction upon you from the north.”
7A lion stalks from its den, a destroyer of nations. It has left its lair and is headed your way. It’s going to devastate your land! Your towns will lie in ruins, with no one living in them anymore.
8So put on clothes of mourning and weep with broken hearts, for the fierce anger of the LORD is still upon us.
9“In that day,” says the LORD, “the king and the officials will tremble in fear. The priests will be struck with horror, and the prophets will be appalled.”
10Then I said, “O Sovereign LORD, the people have been deceived by what you said, for you promised peace for Jerusalem. But the sword is held at their throats!”
11The time is coming when the LORD will say to the people of Jerusalem, “My dear people, a burning wind is blowing in from the desert, and it’s not a gentle breeze useful for winnowing grain.
12It is a roaring blast sent by me! Now I will pronounce your destruction!”
13Our enemy rushes down on us like storm clouds! His chariots are like whirlwinds. His horses are swifter than eagles. How terrible it will be, for we are doomed!
14O Jerusalem, cleanse your heart that you may be saved. How long will you harbor your evil thoughts?
15Your destruction has been announced from Dan and the hill country of Ephraim.
16“Warn the surrounding nations and announce this to Jerusalem: The enemy is coming from a distant land, raising a battle cry against the towns of Judah.
17They surround Jerusalem like watchmen around a field, for my people have rebelled against me,” says the LORD .
18“Your own actions have brought this upon you. This punishment is bitter, piercing you to the heart!”
19My heart, my heart—I writhe in pain! My heart pounds within me! I cannot be still. For I have heard the blast of enemy trumpets and the roar of their battle cries.
20Waves of destruction roll over the land, until it lies in complete desolation. Suddenly my tents are destroyed; in a moment my shelters are crushed.
21How long must I see the battle flags and hear the trumpets of war?
22“My people are foolish and do not know me,” says the LORD . “They are stupid children who have no understanding. They are clever enough at doing wrong, but they have no idea how to do right!”
23I looked at the earth, and it was empty and formless. I looked at the heavens, and there was no light.
24I looked at the mountains and hills, and they trembled and shook.
25I looked, and all the people were gone. All the birds of the sky had flown away.
26I looked, and the fertile fields had become a wilderness. The towns lay in ruins, crushed by the LORD ’s fierce anger.
27This is what the LORD says: “The whole land will be ruined, but I will not destroy it completely.
28The earth will mourn and the heavens will be draped in black because of my decree against my people. I have made up my mind and will not change it.”
29At the noise of charioteers and archers, the people flee in terror. They hide in the bushes and run for the mountains. All the towns have been abandoned— not a person remains!
30What are you doing, you who have been plundered? Why do you dress up in beautiful clothing and put on gold jewelry? Why do you brighten your eyes with mascara? Your primping will do you no good! The allies who were your lovers despise you and seek to kill you.
31I hear a cry, like that of a woman in labor, the groans of a woman giving birth to her first child. It is beautiful Jerusalem gasping for breath and crying out, “Help! I’m being murdered!”
“Building a firm foundation in Christ is a marathon, not a sprint.”~TB
A marathon cannot be run after a few test practices. Similarly, a relationship with Christ cannot be achieved after one run glance at the Word. We cannot put short-term efforts into knowing our Father in Heaven. No, it takes a lifetime of seeking, listening, failing, repenting, trying, and the like to uncover a semblance of understanding who Christ is. Friends, this is a lifelong endeavor of which we must forego the short-term comfort of ignorance to embrace the long-term impacts of salvation. Do your training accordingly.
When you put in the work each day to learn the Truth of Christ, you build an endurance to run the race He has set before you. The shortcuts are less appealing and the long-term goal of receiving the gift that only He can give becomes the priority. We cannot know the winning effects of knowing God without doing our daily training with Him. More to the point, we have to encourage and give hope to our teammates so that they may be inspired and not deterred from training for their race. Though each day brings its own challenge, consider the long-term advantages of running with Christ than against.
Are you putting in the work, or are you waiting until the last minute to cram a lifetime of training?
Enjoy the reading
1“If a man divorces a woman and she goes and marries someone else, he will not take her back again, for that would surely corrupt the land. But you have prostituted yourself with many lovers, so why are you trying to come back to me?” says the LORD .
2“Look at the shrines on every hilltop. Is there any place you have not been defiled by your adultery with other gods? You sit like a prostitute beside the road waiting for a customer. You sit alone like a nomad in the desert. You have polluted the land with your prostitution and your wickedness.
3That’s why even the spring rains have failed. For you are a brazen prostitute and completely shameless.
4Yet you say to me, ‘Father, you have been my guide since my youth.
5Surely you won’t be angry forever! Surely you can forget about it!’ So you talk, but you keep on doing all the evil you can.”
6During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what fickle Israel has done? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree.
7I thought, ‘After she has done all this, she will return to me.’ But she did not return, and her faithless sister Judah saw this.
8She saw that I divorced faithless Israel because of her adultery. But that treacherous sister Judah had no fear, and now she, too, has left me and given herself to prostitution.
9Israel treated it all so lightly—she thought nothing of committing adultery by worshiping idols made of wood and stone. So now the land has been polluted.
10But despite all this, her faithless sister Judah has never sincerely returned to me. She has only pretended to be sorry. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
11Then the LORD said to me, “Even faithless Israel is less guilty than treacherous Judah!
12Therefore, go and give this message to Israel. This is what the LORD says: “O Israel, my faithless people, come home to me again, for I am merciful. I will not be angry with you forever.
13Only acknowledge your guilt. Admit that you rebelled against the LORD your God and committed adultery against him by worshiping idols under every green tree. Confess that you refused to listen to my voice. I, the LORD, have spoken!
14“Return home, you wayward children,” says the LORD, “for I am your master. I will bring you back to the land of Israel — one from this town and two from that family— from wherever you are scattered.
15And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will guide you with knowledge and understanding.
16“And when your land is once more filled with people,” says the LORD, “you will no longer wish for ‘the good old days’ when you possessed the Ark of the LORD ’s Covenant. You will not miss those days or even remember them, and there will be no need to rebuild the Ark.
17In that day Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Throne of the LORD .’ All nations will come there to honor the LORD . They will no longer stubbornly follow their own evil desires.
18In those days the people of Judah and Israel will return together from exile in the north. They will return to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance forever.
19“I thought to myself, ‘I would love to treat you as my own children!’ I wanted nothing more than to give you this beautiful land— the finest possession in the world. I looked forward to your calling me ‘Father,’ and I wanted you never to turn from me.
20But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel! You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
21Voices are heard high on the windswept mountains, the weeping and pleading of Israel’s people. For they have chosen crooked paths and have forgotten the LORD their God.
22“My wayward children,” says the LORD, “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.” “Yes, we’re coming,” the people reply, “for you are the LORD our God.
23Our worship of idols on the hills and our religious orgies on the mountains are a delusion. Only in the LORD our God will Israel ever find salvation.
24From childhood we have watched as everything our ancestors worked for— their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters— was squandered on a delusion.
25Let us now lie down in shame and cover ourselves with dishonor, for we and our ancestors have sinned against the LORD our God. From our childhood to this day we have never obeyed him.”
“Hanging out with God is like getting honest and objective feedback from someone who ultimately has your best interest in mind. Listen well.”~TB
It Starts With
I’m a big believer in demystifying the practice of building a relationship with God. For some reason, people make it out to be some big ritualistic practice that only ‘certain’ people can do, when in reality, everyone can talk to God. More to the point, the more you talk and listen, you too can get His feedback on your life and what it means to truly be His. It starts with you asking to hear from Him. Literally, that’s it. If you have the honest and earnest desire to hear from God, then ask.
It’s Not Like
After observing people, I find that one of the biggest disconnects with building that relationship comes from not understanding who God is. We, humans, have a distorted belief that we are our own leaders, makers, etc. So if you’re trying to come to God to dictate to Him how your life should be, man, you’re going to continuously bump your head on a wall. Trust, I’m saying this from experience. My point in saying all this is, to know God is to understand that He is our Creator. This means He ultimately knows you better than you know yourself.
When you do the work and build that connection with Christ, His feedback will radically change how you see the world. The fads, the trends, the need for approval from broken people disappear– if you allow it. Because the world jams up our Holy Frequency of which God communicates by, we must unlearn our worldly practices to synthesize the feedback from God. So to sum it up, come to Him with an honest heart. Be humble and learn to submit to His sovereignty. Listen and learn from what you hear. When you’re able to see the world for what it actually is, God’s feedback is easier to understand and implement.
Who are you listening to, God or the world?
Enjoy the reading
1The LORD gave me another message. He said,
2“Go and shout this message to Jerusalem. This is what the LORD says: “I remember how eager you were to please me as a young bride long ago, how you loved me and followed me even through the barren wilderness.
3In those days Israel was holy to the LORD, the first of his children. All who harmed his people were declared guilty, and disaster fell on them. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
4Listen to the word of the LORD, people of Jacob—all you families of Israel!
5This is what the LORD says: “What did your ancestors find wrong with me that led them to stray so far from me? They worshiped worthless idols, only to become worthless themselves.
6They did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD who brought us safely out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness— a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought and death, where no one lives or even travels?’
7“And when I brought you into a fruitful land to enjoy its bounty and goodness, you defiled my land and corrupted the possession I had promised you.
8The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD ?’ Those who taught my word ignored me, the rulers turned against me, and the prophets spoke in the name of Baal, wasting their time on worthless idols.
9Therefore, I will bring my case against you,” says the LORD . “I will even bring charges against your children’s children in the years to come.
10“Go west and look in the land of Cyprus ; go east and search through the land of Kedar. Has anyone ever heard of anything as strange as this?
11Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones, even though they are not gods at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols!
12The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay,” says the LORD .
13“For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me— the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!
14“Why has Israel become a slave? Why has he been carried away as plunder?
15Strong lions have roared against him, and the land has been destroyed. The towns are now in ruins, and no one lives in them anymore.
16Egyptians, marching from their cities of Memphis and Tahpanhes, have destroyed Israel’s glory and power.
17And you have brought this upon yourselves by rebelling against the LORD your God, even though he was leading you on the way!
18“What have you gained by your alliances with Egypt and your covenants with Assyria? What good to you are the streams of the Nile or the waters of the Euphrates River?
19Your wickedness will bring its own punishment. Your turning from me will shame you. You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon the LORD your God and not to fear him. I, the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!
20“Long ago I broke the yoke that oppressed you and tore away the chains of your slavery, but still you said, ‘I will not serve you.’ On every hill and under every green tree, you have prostituted yourselves by bowing down to idols.
21But I was the one who planted you, choosing a vine of the purest stock—the very best. How did you grow into this corrupt wild vine?
22No amount of soap or lye can make you clean. I still see the stain of your guilt. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!
23“You say, ‘That’s not true! I haven’t worshiped the images of Baal!’ But how can you say that? Go and look in any valley in the land! Face the awful sins you have done. You are like a restless female camel desperately searching for a mate.
24You are like a wild donkey, sniffing the wind at mating time. Who can restrain her lust? Those who desire her don’t need to search, for she goes running to them!
25When will you stop running? When will you stop panting after other gods? But you say, ‘Save your breath. I’m in love with these foreign gods, and I can’t stop loving them now!’
26“Israel is like a thief who feels shame only when he gets caught. They, their kings, officials, priests, and prophets— all are alike in this.
27To an image carved from a piece of wood they say, ‘You are my father.’ To an idol chiseled from a block of stone they say, ‘You are my mother.’ They turn their backs on me, but in times of trouble they cry out to me, ‘Come and save us!’
28But why not call on these gods you have made? When trouble comes, let them save you if they can! For you have as many gods as there are towns in Judah.
29Why do you accuse me of doing wrong? You are the ones who have rebelled,” says the LORD .
30“I have punished your children, but they did not respond to my discipline. You yourselves have killed your prophets as a lion kills its prey.
31“O my people, listen to the words of the LORD ! Have I been like a desert to Israel? Have I been to them a land of darkness? Why then do my people say, ‘At last we are free from God! We don’t need him anymore!’
32Does a young woman forget her jewelry, or a bride her wedding dress? Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me.
33“How you plot and scheme to win your lovers. Even an experienced prostitute could learn from you!
34Your clothing is stained with the blood of the innocent and the poor, though you didn’t catch them breaking into your houses!
35And yet you say, ‘I have done nothing wrong. Surely God isn’t angry with me!’ But now I will punish you severely because you claim you have not sinned.
36First here, then there— you flit from one ally to another asking for help. But your new friends in Egypt will let you down, just as Assyria did before.
37In despair, you will be led into exile with your hands on your heads, for the LORD has rejected the nations you trust. They will not help you at all.
“Take care to develop honest relationships because a transactional lifestyle is meaningless.”~TB
In today’s surface-driven world, fake relationships and fake ideals run rampant. We seek what people can give to us or how we can use their status to achieve our agendas. Looking at people in a transactional manner is a dangerous precedent because the foundation is not real. Consider your motives when developing relationships with people. What are you after? Honest relationships require honest motives. If developing an authentic relationship with people and– more to the point– Christ is what you desire, you first must examine your heart.
Isn’t interesting that people can want what God can give them but not actually want God? The ironic part is that to know God is to have received something far greater than any wealth on this earth. But, to get to this fundamental truth, we have to forge an authentic and meaningful relationship with God. Christ is not here to grant us wishes, like some magic genie. No, we must talk, listen, learn, and practice the teachings of Christ so that we know the difference between what is real and what is fake. Throw off the superficial lifestyle to put on the authentic Truth that is God. By doing so, you change your heart and how you move in this world.
Are you interested in knowing God or are you just looking to get things from Him?
Enjoy the reading
1The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.
2The word of the LORD came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah,
3and through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.
5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
6“Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
7But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.
8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.
9Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.
10See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
11The word of the LORD came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied.
12The LORD said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”
13The word of the LORD came to me again: “What do you see?” “I see a pot that is boiling,” I answered. “It is tilting toward us from the north.”
14The LORD said to me, “From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land.
15I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms,” declares the LORD. “Their kings will come and set up their thrones in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem; they will come against all her surrounding walls and against all the towns of Judah.
16I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made.
17“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.
18Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.
19They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.