“Each day has their own land mines. Walk in peace, grace, and mercy to avoid stepping on them.”~TB
Have you ever experienced a seemingly benign day that turned into all out warfare? Like stepping on a land mine, one false moves blows up the scene, causing all types of trouble. Perhaps you’re getting home from a long day in the office only to be met with a series of anger inducing texts. These things don’t happen by accident. In fact, more often than not, they are strategically placed land mines aimed at getting you to lose focus on God and to engage in friendly fire with your loved ones.
Consider the Source
An unexamined life can be incredibly messy as the opposition is strategic about placing land mines in our day to day lives. When we do not reflect on what makes us tick, we leave ourselves vulnerable to unnecessary traps and attacks. This can come in the form of an offense from a spouse, friend, brother or sister, or anyone you do life with. Before you step on the land mine, consider the source. If certain things set you off, be aware that they will be used against you. The great thing about knowing your pitfalls is that when the devil throws them your way, you already know what they look like. So instead of being lured in like a lamb to the slaughter, let the attacks float on by.
Enjoy the Silence
Land mines will never go away, but that does not mean we have to step on it. If someone is being used to goad you into frustration, fear, anxiety, or any other unpleasant emotion, do not engage. Instead, ignore the offense, and double down on mercy and kindness. Rather than looking at land mines as a means for discord, use them to sharpen your arsenal of Christ-like behavior. You can brush up on these techniques by reading the Bible and talking with our Father in Heaven. His Word will always light the path. When war is met with Biblical love, only God can be the winner.
Are you ready to walk past your land mines and give up the unnecessary explosions?
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1This is what the LORD says: “Was your mother sent away because I divorced her? Did I sell you as slaves to my creditors? No, you were sold because of your sins. And your mother, too, was taken because of your sins.
2Why was no one there when I came? Why didn’t anyone answer when I called? Is it because I have no power to rescue? No, that is not the reason! For I can speak to the sea and make it dry up! I can turn rivers into deserts covered with dying fish.
3I dress the skies in darkness, covering them with clothes of mourning.”
4The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will.
5The Sovereign LORD has spoken to me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away.
6I offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting.
7Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.
8He who gives me justice is near. Who will dare to bring charges against me now? Where are my accusers? Let them appear!
9See, the Sovereign LORD is on my side! Who will declare me guilty? All my enemies will be destroyed like old clothes that have been eaten by moths!
10Who among you fears the LORD and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God.
11But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires. This is the reward you will receive from me: You will soon fall down in great torment.
“When you believe that God’s ideas are better than your’s, then you’ve arrived.”~Jon Barnes
God gave us free will, which means that we are free to carry out our own plans. Thing is, between the flesh, the world, and the opposition, we don’t always make the best decisions. If you’re tired of hitting your head against the wall, doing things that don’t give you peace or contentment, try letting God be your GPS.
Allowing God to direct your steps is like being in the driver’s seat of a self-operating vehicle. You first have to have the faith that God knows better than you. Then you have to let His will be done in lieu of your own. Friends, as a control freak, I completely understand how difficult that is.
God’s plan is way cooler, way better, way more Devine than anything we could ever cook up. It’s mustering up the faith and stillness to allow His Plan to work that is the hard part. When we understand that we must ignore our foolish plans and adopt His, God can work wonders in our lives.
Which ideas are you listening to?
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1Listen to me, all you in distant lands! Pay attention, you who are far away! The LORD called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name.
2He made my words of judgment as sharp as a sword. He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand. I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver.
3He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.”
4I replied, “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Yet I leave it all in the LORD ’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.”
5And now the LORD speaks— the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him. The LORD has honored me, and my God has given me strength.
6He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
7The LORD, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, says to the one who is despised and rejected by the nations, to the one who is the servant of rulers: “Kings will stand at attention when you pass by. Princes will also bow low because of the LORD, the faithful one, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
8This is what the LORD says: “At just the right time, I will respond to you. On the day of salvation I will help you. I will protect you and give you to the people as my covenant with them. Through you I will reestablish the land of Israel and assign it to its own people again.
9I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’ They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures and on hills that were previously bare.
10They will neither hunger nor thirst. The searing sun will not reach them anymore. For the LORD in his mercy will lead them; he will lead them beside cool waters.
11And I will make my mountains into level paths for them. The highways will be raised above the valleys.
12See, my people will return from far away, from lands to the north and west, and from as far south as Egypt. ”
13Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their suffering.
14Yet Jerusalem says, “The LORD has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.”
15“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!
16See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.
17Soon your descendants will come back, and all who are trying to destroy you will go away.
18Look around you and see, for all your children will come back to you. As surely as I live,” says the LORD, “they will be like jewels or bridal ornaments for you to display.
19“Even the most desolate parts of your abandoned land will soon be crowded with your people. Your enemies who enslaved you will be far away.
20The generations born in exile will return and say, ‘We need more room! It’s crowded here!’
21Then you will think to yourself, ‘Who has given me all these descendants? For most of my children were killed, and the rest were carried away into exile. I was left here all alone. Where did all these people come from? Who bore these children? Who raised them for me?’”
22This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I will give a signal to the godless nations. They will carry your little sons back to you in their arms; they will bring your daughters on their shoulders.
23Kings and queens will serve you and care for all your needs. They will bow to the earth before you and lick the dust from your feet. Then you will know that I am the LORD . Those who trust in me will never be put to shame.”
24Who can snatch the plunder of war from the hands of a warrior? Who can demand that a tyrant let his captives go?
25But the LORD says, “The captives of warriors will be released, and the plunder of tyrants will be retrieved. For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children.
26I will feed your enemies with their own flesh. They will be drunk with rivers of their own blood. All the world will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel. ”
“God will provide the solutions for your life, but it is your job to put them into action.”~TB
If you ignore the chaotic abyss that is the world, a life following Christ becomes more tangible. The older I get, the more I realize that the answers to life’s questions that I seek can be found in the Bible and by talking to God. Man, I could have avoided many dumb decisions earlier on had I heeded His word. In quiet study and communication lies the many wonderful and simple solutions that only Christ can give. Imagine the kind of life we could live if only we used the correct answers instead of our own!
It’s one thing to know what to do; it’s an entirely different story to do it. I find that when I walk the path He’s set before me, things miraculously make sense. On the flip side, when I’m copying others or looking for external validation, my world becomes complex, messy, and off task. Getting the solutions is the simple part, putting them into action, well that’s a lifelong endeavor. To fulfill the call that God has for our lives, we must quiet the outside noise and follow the instructions and solutions that He gives.
Are you using God’s solutions for life’s equations?
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1“Listen to me, O family of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and born into the family of Judah. Listen, you who take oaths in the name of the LORD and call on the God of Israel. You don’t keep your promises,
2even though you call yourself the holy city and talk about depending on the God of Israel, whose name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
3Long ago I told you what was going to happen. Then suddenly I took action, and all my predictions came true.
4For I know how stubborn and obstinate you are. Your necks are as unbending as iron. Your heads are as hard as bronze.
5That is why I told you what would happen; I told you beforehand what I was going to do. Then you could never say, ‘My idols did it. My wooden image and metal god commanded it to happen!’
6You have heard my predictions and seen them fulfilled, but you refuse to admit it. Now I will tell you new things, secrets you have not yet heard.
7They are brand new, not things from the past. So you cannot say, ‘We knew that all the time!’
8“Yes, I will tell you of things that are entirely new, things you never heard of before. For I know so well what traitors you are. You have been rebels from birth.
9Yet for my own sake and for the honor of my name, I will hold back my anger and not wipe you out.
10I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.
11I will rescue you for my sake— yes, for my own sake! I will not let my reputation be tarnished, and I will not share my glory with idols!
12“Listen to me, O family of Jacob, Israel my chosen one! I alone am God, the First and the Last.
13It was my hand that laid the foundations of the earth, my right hand that spread out the heavens above. When I call out the stars, they all appear in order.”
14Have any of your idols ever told you this? Come, all of you, and listen: The LORD has chosen Cyrus as his ally. He will use him to put an end to the empire of Babylon and to destroy the Babylonian armies.
15“I have said it: I am calling Cyrus! I will send him on this errand and will help him succeed.
16Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.” And now the Sovereign LORD and his Spirit have sent me with this message.
17This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.
18Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.
19Your descendants would have been like the sands along the seashore— too many to count! There would have been no need for your destruction, or for cutting off your family name.”
20Yet even now, be free from your captivity! Leave Babylon and the Babylonians. Sing out this message! Shout it to the ends of the earth! The LORD has redeemed his servants, the people of Israel.
21They were not thirsty when he led them through the desert. He divided the rock, and water gushed out for them to drink.
22“But there is no peace for the wicked,” says the LORD .
Have you ever noticed how the majority of the world’s standards and practices go against the Biblical and wise solutions and messages of Christ? More to the point, society teaches us the very ideas that poison our mind, body, and spirit. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but hear me out. What we eat, how we think, what we do with our bodies— there’s this indoctrination of indulgence and gluttony. We also glorify a lazy and mediocre existence. For argument’s sake, let’s drop the morality perspective and focus on the physiological. The mind, body and soul are all connected, which means how we treat one impacts the rest.
How’s your thought life? Do you hold yourself in a positive light or do you allow others to tear you down and believe their lies? Stinkin’ Thinkin’— as Joyce Meyer calls it— is detrimental to your wellbeing. The beauty is that we can control what we choose to think about. Of course, that take a conscious and present effort. Distraction is the ultimate slippery slope to a junky thought life. When your thoughts are negative, you’re less likely to take care of yourself, both physically and spiritually. This feeds directly into how you treat your body.
Physical activity is incredibly important. It helps us to reconcile the mind junk and hold on to the positive truths. Food is also key. What are you eating? Fun fact, your stomach contains neurons, which acts as your second brain. So when you eat junk, it messes with your brain. When we talk about mental health, it’s impossible not to connect your dietary habits with your mind because your stomach quite literally contributes to it. As for the soul connection, if you’re out there using your body like a playground with others, friends there are major spiritual implications.
Have you ever wondered why we call liquor ‘spirits’? Alcohol isn’t inherently bad, I mean Jesus turned water into wine after all. But context matters as does the spiritual implications of drugs (I could go on but this post is pretty long already). Sex in its proper context is great! However, when it’s as common as a handshake, as the saying goes, if you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas. And I’m not just talking about diseases. Though our society teaches a “free spirit” and “sex positive” attitude, it fails to teach you the spiritual pitfalls that come from that lifestyle. There is a spiritual transference that occurs and you’re essentially giving pieces of yourself whenever you partake. No, this isn’t meant to shame you into celibacy. In fact, this isn’t about shame at all. But notice how these three things cycle back together. A broken mind leads to a broken body thus leading to a broken spirit, or any combination of the three. So why is this important?
Because God created us, our minds, bodies, and souls cannot be explained without Him. We are like his custom-built machines, which mean He’s the ultimate User Manual. So if we stand a chance to flee from our flesh, the world and the opposition, we have to continually read and understand the User Manual AKA the Bible. When we engage in pleasure-seeking activities that exist outside of His will for us, we suffer. No, not because He’s punishing us, it’s because we aren’t operating as intended. It’s like putting diesel fuel in a gas tank. You’re going to mess up the engine. We must stop perceiving discipline and obedience as punitive but as the guidelines for healthy operation. Guard your mind, body, and soul accordingly so that you can work as God intended. He made you for a purpose.
Who or what is in control of your “machinery”
1“Come down, virgin daughter of Babylon, and sit in the dust. For your days of sitting on a throne have ended. O daughter of Babylonia, never again will you be the lovely princess, tender and delicate.
2Take heavy millstones and grind flour. Remove your veil, and strip off your robe. Expose yourself to public view.
3You will be naked and burdened with shame. I will take vengeance against you without pity.”
4Our Redeemer, whose name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, is the Holy One of Israel.
5“O beautiful Babylon, sit now in darkness and silence. Never again will you be known as the queen of kingdoms.
6For I was angry with my chosen people and punished them by letting them fall into your hands. But you, Babylon, showed them no mercy. You oppressed even the elderly.
7You said, ‘I will reign forever as queen of the world!’ You did not reflect on your actions or think about their consequences.
8“Listen to this, you pleasure-loving kingdom, living at ease and feeling secure. You say, ‘I am the only one, and there is no other. I will never be a widow or lose my children.’
9Well, both these things will come upon you in a moment: widowhood and the loss of your children. Yes, these calamities will come upon you, despite all your witchcraft and magic.
10“You felt secure in your wickedness. ‘No one sees me,’ you said. But your ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’ have led you astray, and you said, ‘I am the only one, and there is no other.’
11So disaster will overtake you, and you won’t be able to charm it away. Calamity will fall upon you, and you won’t be able to buy your way out. A catastrophe will strike you suddenly, one for which you are not prepared.
12“Now use your magical charms! Use the spells you have worked at all these years! Maybe they will do you some good. Maybe they can make someone afraid of you.
13All the advice you receive has made you tired. Where are all your astrologers, those stargazers who make predictions each month? Let them stand up and save you from what the future holds.
14But they are like straw burning in a fire; they cannot save themselves from the flame. You will get no help from them at all; their hearth is no place to sit for warmth.
15And all your friends, those with whom you’ve done business since childhood, will go their own ways, turning a deaf ear to your cries.
“The Body of Christ means that we are all in this together.”~TB
Church is God’s people, not merely a place you go to on Sunday to check off your sanctified box. Church is everyday, doing life with you brother, sister, family, neighbor and so on. It means stepping in to help the widowed, the poor, the downtrodden, and the like. It means mirroring the ways of Jesus to the best of our ability. Unfortunately, somewhere down the line, many of us missed the memo on the lessons that Christ actually conveyed.
If you’re idea of Christianity is looking like an Instagram filter on Sundays while judging the members of your church based on a vanity metric system, you need to recalibrate. Our roles as children of God is to spread His message, and not our personal agendas. We must check out egos at the door and see what is needed and not just what we want. There is much more gained in giving than receiving. In all that you do, remember what Jesus did to guide your way.
Are you stepping up or stepping on your brothers and sisters?
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1Bel and Nebo, the gods of Babylon, bow as they are lowered to the ground. They are being hauled away on ox carts. The poor beasts stagger under the weight.
2Both the idols and their owners are bowed down. The gods cannot protect the people, and the people cannot protect the gods. They go off into captivity together.
3“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born.
4I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.
5“To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?
6Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god from it. Then they bow down and worship it!
7They carry it around on their shoulders, and when they set it down, it stays there. It can’t even move! And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It can’t rescue anyone from trouble.
8“Do not forget this! Keep it in mind! Remember this, you guilty ones.
9Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me.
10Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.
11I will call a swift bird of prey from the east— a leader from a distant land to come and do my bidding. I have said what I would do, and I will do it.
12“Listen to me, you stubborn people who are so far from doing right.
13For I am ready to set things right, not in the distant future, but right now! I am ready to save Jerusalem and show my glory to Israel.
“The devil is like an annoying noisy upstairs neighbor. Don’t let him take your peace.”~TB
It is incredibly important for you to remember that the devil is a one hit wonder. His song entices you to take your eyes off the prize that is Christ. He’ll go about it in different ways, but rest assured, it’s the same song, different pitch. Think of him like the frustrating neighbor who cranks up the music because they know it bothers you. Their actions may be annoying, but the secret, rather, the truth is in how you deal with the situation. He can’t do anything to you that can truly affect you. You can however, do his bidding by being the weakest link.
Everyone at one point or another has been the weakest link in any relationship. If you’re the weakest link, it can transpire in a few ways. You cause arguments on arbitrary issues. You’re too legalistic or litigious without balancing your judgement with mercy and grace. You refuse to apologize when you’re wrong. Even worse, you get mad at the person you’ve wronged! To stop being the weakest link, we all have to reflect on our behavior with honesty and humility. Ask yourself, if you love the person that you’re fighting with, is winning the argument that big of a deal? What do you stand to gain if you win the battle but lose the relationship? In those instances, only the devil wins, which is the point!
If you indeed find yourself in the weakest link seat, have a chat with God. There’s a good chance that our issues are ones that we’ve been dealing with for a long time. When you lean on God, you learn to put the sword down and stop fighting. When speaking with God, He will tell you that you’re quarrel isn’t with man, it’s with the opposition. However, you must acknowledge your weak link behavior and that takes some work. No one likes to admit that our number 2’s stink. But they do! So when you embrace humility and recognize that the goal isn’t to be right or to stir discord within your family, friends, or community, you stop being the devil’s plaything. Just ask and you shall receive.
Are you ready to stop being the devil’s pawn or do you enjoy disturbing the peace?
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1This is what the LORD says to Cyrus, his anointed one, whose right hand he will empower. Before him, mighty kings will be paralyzed with fear. Their fortress gates will be opened, never to shut again.
2This is what the LORD says: “I will go before you, Cyrus, and level the mountains. I will smash down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.
3And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness— secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.
4“And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one.
5I am the LORD ; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me,
6so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the LORD, and there is no other.
7I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the LORD, am the one who does these things.
8“Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the LORD, created them.
9“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’
10How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, ‘Why was I born?’ or if it said to its mother, ‘Why did you make me this way?’”
11This is what the LORD says— the Holy One of Israel and your Creator: “Do you question what I do for my children? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?
12I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it. With my hands I stretched out the heavens. All the stars are at my command.
13I will raise up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will guide his actions. He will restore my city and free my captive people— without seeking a reward! I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”
14This is what the LORD says: “You will rule the Egyptians, the Ethiopians, and the Sabeans. They will come to you with all their merchandise, and it will all be yours. They will follow you as prisoners in chains. They will fall to their knees in front of you and say, ‘God is with you, and he is the only God. There is no other.’”
15Truly, O God of Israel, our Savior, you work in mysterious ways.
16All craftsmen who make idols will be humiliated. They will all be disgraced together.
17But the LORD will save the people of Israel with eternal salvation. Throughout everlasting ages, they will never again be humiliated and disgraced.
18For the LORD is God, and he created the heavens and earth and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos. “I am the LORD,” he says, “and there is no other.
19I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I would not have told the people of Israel to seek me if I could not be found. I, the LORD, speak only what is true and declare only what is right.
20“Gather together and come, you fugitives from surrounding nations. What fools they are who carry around their wooden idols and pray to gods that cannot save!
21Consult together, argue your case. Get together and decide what to say. Who made these things known so long ago? What idol ever told you they would happen? Was it not I, the LORD ? For there is no other God but me, a righteous God and Savior. There is none but me.
22Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other.
23I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to me. ”
24The people will declare, “The LORD is the source of all my righteousness and strength.” And all who were angry with him will come to him and be ashamed.
25In the LORD all the generations of Israel will be justified, and in him they will boast.
“It’s better to stab someone in the front than the back, because at least you’re being honest.”~TB
Adam and Eve covering up their bodies after eating the forbidden fruit says a lot about the world today. The issue wasn’t their nakedness. The issue was that they believed they were capable of hiding anything from God. Ironically we do the same thing time and time again. We’re all trying to ‘hide’ our flaws, appear to be smarter, richer, prettier, etc. just to appeal to one another. As I grow older, I find myself walking away from the guise of being ‘better than I am’ and accepting the way God made me, flaws and all. I’ve also found honesty allows me to come before God with all that I am so that I may receive the best answers to my questions, rather than covering them up with manure.
Wolf and Sheep
God has more respect for the person being an adamant heathen than the fake spiritual man. If you are publicly screaming “Praise God”, but are privately devouring your neighbor, well, God knows. He knows the light and the dark, after all it is all His creation. So if we stand to have any sort of relationship with Him, we must stop being wolves and return to His flock as sheep. If being a sheep offends you, then I encourage you to reflect on the choices, perceptions, and decisions you make as they are all influenced by something or someone. Personally, I’d rather be a sheep for God than a mindless slave to man.
Are you being honest or is it a cover up?
1“But now, listen to me, Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one.
2The LORD who made you and helps you says: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, O dear Israel, my chosen one.
3For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children.
4They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank.
5Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the LORD .’ Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’ Some will write the LORD ’s name on their hands and will take the name of Israel as their own.”
6This is what the LORD says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies: “I am the First and the Last; there is no other God.
7Who is like me? Let him step forward and prove to you his power. Let him do as I have done since ancient times when I established a people and explained its future.
8Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses—is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock—not one!”
9How foolish are those who manufacture idols. These prized objects are really worthless. The people who worship idols don’t know this, so they are all put to shame.
10Who but a fool would make his own god— an idol that cannot help him one bit?
11All who worship idols will be disgraced along with all these craftsmen—mere humans— who claim they can make a god. They may all stand together, but they will stand in terror and shame.
12The blacksmith stands at his forge to make a sharp tool, pounding and shaping it with all his might. His work makes him hungry and weak. It makes him thirsty and faint.
13Then the wood-carver measures a block of wood and draws a pattern on it. He works with chisel and plane and carves it into a human figure. He gives it human beauty and puts it in a little shrine.
14He cuts down cedars; he selects the cypress and the oak; he plants the pine in the forest to be nourished by the rain.
15Then he uses part of the wood to make a fire. With it he warms himself and bakes his bread. Then—yes, it’s true—he takes the rest of it and makes himself a god to worship! He makes an idol and bows down in front of it!
16He burns part of the tree to roast his meat and to keep himself warm. He says, “Ah, that fire feels good.”
17Then he takes what’s left and makes his god: a carved idol! He falls down in front of it, worshiping and praying to it. “Rescue me!” he says. “You are my god!”
18Such stupidity and ignorance! Their eyes are closed, and they cannot see. Their minds are shut, and they cannot think.
19The person who made the idol never stops to reflect, “Why, it’s just a block of wood! I burned half of it for heat and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat. How can the rest of it be a god? Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?”
20The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes. He trusts something that can’t help him at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, “Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie?”
21“Pay attention, O Jacob, for you are my servant, O Israel. I, the LORD, made you, and I will not forget you.
22I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.”
23Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth! Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob and is glorified in Israel.
24This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer and Creator: “I am the LORD, who made all things. I alone stretched out the heavens. Who was with me when I made the earth?
25I expose the false prophets as liars and make fools of fortune-tellers. I cause the wise to give bad advice, thus proving them to be fools.
26But I carry out the predictions of my prophets! By them I say to Jerusalem, ‘People will live here again,’ and to the towns of Judah, ‘You will be rebuilt; I will restore all your ruins!’
27When I speak to the rivers and say, ‘Dry up!’ they will be dry.
28When I say of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,’ he will certainly do as I say. He will command, ‘Rebuild Jerusalem’; he will say, ‘Restore the Temple.’”
“Only you can give up your peace; but you must cultivate your faith to believe it.”~TB
Faith is total trust and confidence in God. It’s a verb in that you must act on it every second of every day. Though we can’t open a door and say “Here is God!”, we know that He exists and is the creator of all. It’s easy to say we have faith. After all, it sounds pretty and whimsical. But there is a fundamental difference between talking faith and walking in faith. And, we are tested on this day in and day out. The devil can rattle your cage, but ultimately you must decided whether or not to lose your peace about it.
Walking in faith means that even though you are not in control of your situation, you are at total peace because you know who is. It means to sit still and let God handle the heavy lifting in your life. It also means to not allow your upstairs neighbor who likes to crank her bass up loud all day long after you’ve talked to her twice about it get under your skin. When you experience a tough time, remember that God is sovereign and there is nothing out of His control. So don’t merely talk about faith, walk in it so that you can experience the Hand of God in your life.
Are you using the real ‘F’ word?
Enjoy the Reading
1But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.
2When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
3For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
4Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.
5“Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will gather you and your children from east and west.
6I will say to the north and south, ‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel from the distant corners of the earth.
7Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’”
8Bring out the people who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf.
9Gather the nations together! Assemble the peoples of the world! Which of their idols has ever foretold such things? Which can predict what will happen tomorrow? Where are the witnesses of such predictions? Who can verify that they spoke the truth?
10“But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the LORD . “You are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God— there never has been, and there never will be.
11I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no other Savior.
12First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,” says the LORD .
13“From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.”
14This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “For your sakes I will send an army against Babylon, forcing the Babylonians to flee in those ships they are so proud of.
15I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator and King.
16I am the LORD, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea.
17I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.
18“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
20The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.
21I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.
22“But, dear family of Jacob, you refuse to ask for my help. You have grown tired of me, O Israel!
23You have not brought me sheep or goats for burnt offerings. You have not honored me with sacrifices, though I have not burdened and wearied you with requests for grain offerings and frankincense.
24You have not brought me fragrant calamus or pleased me with the fat from sacrifices. Instead, you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your faults.
25“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.
26Let us review the situation together, and you can present your case to prove your innocence.
27From the very beginning, your first ancestor sinned against me; all your leaders broke my laws.
28That is why I have disgraced your priests; I have decreed complete destruction for Jacob and shame for Israel.
“God’s blueprint for our lives is far better than our own.”~TB
Pursuing plans without consulting God is like building a house that’s not up to code. You’ll end up with a crooked foundation, busted plumbing, or worse trying to combine a faulty blueprint with someone else’s blueprint. More to the point, when we try and show our “handy work” to God, we end up offended that He doesn’t co-sign our convoluted workmanship.
Up to Code
When you’re tired of failing inspections, it’s time to go to God, the Holy Home Inspector. If you ask Him for an assessment on your blueprint, He will show you all of the ways of which your does not measure up. Instead of trying to make corrections on a faulty home, ask God for His blueprint for your life. His plans will result in a lifelong, sustainable dwelling.
Are you ready to accept your true blueprint or does shoddy workmanship cut it?
Enjoy the reading
1“Look at my servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen one, who pleases me. I have put my Spirit upon him. He will bring justice to the nations.
2He will not shout or raise his voice in public.
3He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
4He will not falter or lose heart until justice prevails throughout the earth. Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction. ”
5God, the LORD, created the heavens and stretched them out. He created the earth and everything in it. He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth. And it is he who says,
6“I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be a light to guide the nations.
7You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.
8“I am the LORD ; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols.
9Everything I prophesied has come true, and now I will prophesy again. I will tell you the future before it happens.”
10Sing a new song to the LORD ! Sing his praises from the ends of the earth! Sing, all you who sail the seas, all you who live in distant coastlands.
11Join in the chorus, you desert towns; let the villages of Kedar rejoice! Let the people of Sela sing for joy; shout praises from the mountaintops!
12Let the whole world glorify the LORD ; let it sing his praise.
13The LORD will march forth like a mighty hero; he will come out like a warrior, full of fury. He will shout his battle cry and crush all his enemies.
14He will say, “I have long been silent; yes, I have restrained myself. But now, like a woman in labor, I will cry and groan and pant.
15I will level the mountains and hills and blight all their greenery. I will turn the rivers into dry land and will dry up all the pools.
16I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.
17But those who trust in idols, who say, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned away in shame.
18“Listen, you who are deaf! Look and see, you blind!
19Who is as blind as my own people, my servant? Who is as deaf as my messenger? Who is as blind as my chosen people, the servant of the LORD ?
20You see and recognize what is right but refuse to act on it. You hear with your ears, but you don’t really listen.”
21Because he is righteous, the LORD has exalted his glorious law.
22But his own people have been robbed and plundered, enslaved, imprisoned, and trapped. They are fair game for anyone and have no one to protect them, no one to take them back home.
23Who will hear these lessons from the past and see the ruin that awaits you in the future?
24Who allowed Israel to be robbed and hurt? It was the LORD, against whom we sinned, for the people would not walk in his path, nor would they obey his law.
25Therefore, he poured out his fury on them and destroyed them in battle. They were enveloped in flames, but they still refused to understand. They were consumed by fire, but they did not learn their lesson