“Let us not forget the unmistakable power of prayer.”
One of the biggest misnomers about following Christ is the lack of direct connection. Many believe that God is far away and out of our reach. Friends, that’s not so! When we pray, which is essentially a conversation with Him, we are able to draw close, establishing a direct connection.
When we go to God for things, be it, wisdom, guidance, help, etc. we’re going to the Source. Praying isn’t something we do as a last resort, but rather it is the first action that we can take to know what God has planned for us. Prayer requires faith and obedience. So when we honestly seek Him through prayer, we build the most valuable relationship we can ever have.
Do you know the power of prayer?
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1 The LORD of Heaven’s Armies says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed—roots, branches, and all. 2 “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. 3 On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 4 “Remember to obey the Law of Moses, my servant—all the decrees and regulations that I gave him on Mount Sinai for all Israel. 5 “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives. 6 His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
“Once you understand and internalize that God has the very best planned for you, obedience becomes a welcomed process.”
Notice how the opposition and his foot soldiers (the blind) cast shadows and doubt around what is true. You’ll hear things like “God is mean”, “why would I follow someone who will send me to hell?”, or “why does God hate those who are different”. Now, if you take a surface view, and you don’t have any context to who God is, their argument seems valid. But friends, understand that the devil is in the details, which is why you must read the Word for yourself and do your own due diligence! Because God created us, we are His. Which means He knows the best way for us to operate.
If you desire to live a life full of contentment, it’s in your best interest to know God on a personal level. Friends, God does not lie or mislead His children. In fact, He delights those who humbly and honestly seek Him, sharing the wisdom and insights that draw us closer to Him. This requires active faith, which is faith that transforms and changes your hearts and minds. It activates the obedience and discipline required to turn away from evil and shameful deeds. When you take care to abandon your flesh-driven desires, you are then able to see the difference between your old life and your new one.
Aye Aye, Captain
As you grow more mature in your walk with Christ, examine the patterns and situations you’ve experienced through your personal timeline. Notice how you’ve put down the cup of the foolishness of the world and how you’ve picked up the cup of righteousness. The road does become more narrow, as old habits and the people around them fade away. However, the wisdom and direction from God become clearer, like a lighthouse shining its light to guide you home. So friends, pick up your cross so that you can understand the joy of following God. In time, you’ll see His way is the only guide that makes sense.
Are you listening to the half-truths of the devil rather than saying yes to God?
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1 “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 2 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. 3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD . 4 Then once more the LORD will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past. 5 “At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 6 “I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. 7 Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’ 8 “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. 9 You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 12 “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 13 “You have said terrible things about me,” says the LORD . “But you say, ‘What do you mean? What have we said against you?’ 14 “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the LORD of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? 15 From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.’” 16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke with each other, and the LORD listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name. 17 “They will be my people,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. 18 Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”
Unbridled pride comes in many forms, and if you’re not consciously aware of your choices and how you arrive at them, your pride will take you for quite the ride. This ride is subtle and slow-brewing, but over time, you’ll come to know its effects. But know this, unchecked pride causes disobedience. So what does pride look like?
When we think of pride, we often associate it with being boastful or arrogant. But, pride has a flipside. Refusing to ask for help, that’s pride. Fear of failure is also pride. Consider this, the only thing we truly lose in failure is our pride. And, if that’s all we lose, what joy! So if God calls you to do some, don’t let your fear-based pride hinder you.
Are the shapes of pride causing you to fear growth in Christ?
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1 “Listen, you priests—this command is for you! 2 Listen to me and make up your minds to honor my name,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “or I will bring a terrible curse against you. I will curse even the blessings you receive. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you have not taken my warning to heart. 3 I will punish your descendants and splatter your faces with the manure from your festival sacrifices, and I will throw you on the manure pile. 4 Then at last you will know it was I who sent you this warning so that my covenant with the Levites can continue,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 5 “The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and that is what I gave them. This required reverence from them, and they greatly revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 They passed on to the people the truth of the instructions they received from me. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with me, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin. 7 “The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 8 But you priests have left God’s paths. Your instructions have caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant I made with the Levites,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 9 “So I have made you despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people. For you have not obeyed me but have shown favoritism in the way you carry out my instructions.” 10 Are we not all children of the same Father? Are we not all created by the same God? Then why do we betray each other, violating the covenant of our ancestors? 11 Judah has been unfaithful, and a detestable thing has been done in Israel and in Jerusalem. The men of Judah have defiled the LORD ’s beloved sanctuary by marrying women who worship idols. 12 May the LORD cut off from the nation of Israel every last man who has done this and yet brings an offering to the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 13 Here is another thing you do. You cover the LORD ’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure. 14 You cry out, “Why doesn’t the LORD accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows. 15 Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. 16 “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty, ” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” 17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask. You have wearied him by saying that all who do evil are good in the LORD ’s sight, and he is pleased with them. You have wearied him by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”
“Your situation may not progress–not because of God– but because you haven’t changed your reaction to your trials.”~TB
In order for us to change and grow closer to God in our walks, we must understand our behavior and the patterns we take when we deal with trials and tribulations. We all develop ways of coping through tough times. But when we look at how we respond to them, it’s more telling than the sinful behavior we participate in. The sin is a symptom of the fact that we chose to follow our flesh for comfort rather than relying on the comfort of God.
Because we are predictable, if we examine our actions, we can begin to develop new behaviors. Once you understand the underlying behavior of your actions, it’s time to repent and ask God for directions to properly pass your test. Rather than diving into anger, addiction, or any other flesh-driven alternative, you can learn to be still and choose to follow the teachings of Christ instead of the path of destruction.
Are you a slave to destructive behavior because you haven’t asked God for help?
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1 This is the message that the LORD gave to Israel through the prophet Malachi. 2 “I have always loved you,” says the LORD . But you retort, “Really? How have you loved us?” And the LORD replies, “This is how I showed my love for you: I loved your ancestor Jacob, 3 but I rejected his brother, Esau, and devastated his hill country. I turned Esau’s inheritance into a desert for jackals.” 4 Esau’s descendants in Edom may say, “We have been shattered, but we will rebuild the ruins.” But the LORD of Heaven’s Armies replies, “They may try to rebuild, but I will demolish them again. Their country will be known as ‘The Land of Wickedness,’ and their people will be called ‘The People with Whom the LORD Is Forever Angry.’ 5 When you see the destruction for yourselves, you will say, ‘Truly, the LORD ’s greatness reaches far beyond Israel’s borders!’” 6 The LORD of Heaven’s Armies says to the priests: “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name! “But you ask, ‘How have we ever shown contempt for your name?’ 7 “You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar. “Then you ask, ‘How have we defiled the sacrifices? ’ “You defile them by saying the altar of the LORD deserves no respect. 8 When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 9 “Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should he show you any favor at all?” asks the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 10 “How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings. 11 But my name is honored by people of other nations from morning till night. All around the world they offer sweet incense and pure offerings in honor of my name. For my name is great among the nations,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 12 “But you dishonor my name with your actions. By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it’s all right to defile the Lord’s table. 13 You say, ‘It’s too hard to serve the LORD,’ and you turn up your noses at my commands,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?” asks the LORD . 14 “Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “and my name is feared among the nations!
“When you’re in the world but not of it, there will always be friction– and that’s ok.”
The fiction of this world will always cause friction to those who honestly pursue a relationship with Christ. Light drives out the dark, and as such, this fallen world does not align with God. So as children of Christ, when we pursue worldly things, they ring empty and hollow. That is because this world instructs us to appease our flesh, while Christ teaches us to pick up our crosses and live by His teachings.
While we are free to live life according to our own desires, that does not change the Truth. As such, those who follow Christ will need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. To be clear, we are called to love and live in peace– especially with those we may not understand or agree with. That being said, take comfort in knowing that the friction you may experience is an indicator that your sights are set on Him and not yourself.
Are you moving away from the friction or are you riding against the rails?
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1 Watch, for the day of the LORD is coming when your possessions will be plundered right in front of you! 2 I will gather all the nations to fight against Jerusalem. The city will be taken, the houses looted, and the women raped. Half the population will be taken into captivity, and the rest will be left among the ruins of the city. 3 Then the LORD will go out to fight against those nations, as he has fought in times past. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. And the Mount of Olives will split apart, making a wide valley running from east to west. Half the mountain will move toward the north and half toward the south. 5 You will flee through this valley, for it will reach across to Azal. Yes, you will flee as you did from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all his holy ones with him. 6 On that day the sources of light will no longer shine, 7 yet there will be continuous day! Only the LORD knows how this could happen. There will be no normal day and night, for at evening time it will still be light. 8 On that day life-giving waters will flow out from Jerusalem, half toward the Dead Sea and half toward the Mediterranean, flowing continuously in both summer and winter. 9 And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one LORD —his name alone will be worshiped. 10 All the land from Geba, north of Judah, to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become one vast plain. But Jerusalem will be raised up in its original place and will be inhabited all the way from the Benjamin Gate over to the site of the old gate, then to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses. 11 And Jerusalem will be filled, safe at last, never again to be cursed and destroyed. 12 And the LORD will send a plague on all the nations that fought against Jerusalem. Their people will become like walking corpses, their flesh rotting away. Their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. 13 On that day they will be terrified, stricken by the LORD with great panic. They will fight their neighbors hand to hand. 14 Judah, too, will be fighting at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the neighboring nations will be captured—great quantities of gold and silver and fine clothing. 15 This same plague will strike the horses, mules, camels, donkeys, and all the other animals in the enemy camps. 16 In the end, the enemies of Jerusalem who survive the plague will go up to Jerusalem each year to worship the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, and to celebrate the Festival of Shelters. 17 Any nation in the world that refuses to come to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, will have no rain. 18 If the people of Egypt refuse to attend the festival, the LORD will punish them with the same plague that he sends on the other nations who refuse to go. 19 Egypt and the other nations will all be punished if they don’t go to celebrate the Festival of Shelters. 20 On that day even the harness bells of the horses will be inscribed with these words: HOLY TO THE LORD . And the cooking pots in the Temple of the LORD will be as sacred as the basins used beside the altar. 21 In fact, every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. All who come to worship will be free to use any of these pots to boil their sacrifices. And on that day there will no longer be traders in the Temple of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
“Don’t let the thorn in your side rule you, instead allow it to bring glory to the fact that you desperately need God.”
As human beings, there will be things we continually struggle with. What I mean by that is we all have certain pitfalls and snares that trip us up. The apostle Paul had a thorn, I have a thorn, you have a thorn, we all have a thorn in our side that nags at us. Each and every day, we must dictate how much of an annoyance that thorn is going to be. Can we remove it? No. But the truth of the matter is that thorn highlights why God is so necessary for our lives.
We all know that God created us and the world we encompass. He also gave us free will. So it goes without saying that we’ve all used that free will to do something dumb because we are motivated by flesh-driven desires. This could be pride, lust, contempt, unbridled rivalry, anger, jealousy, simply put, it looks different from person-to-person, but the root remains the same. The point is, by recognizing and honoring the distinct authority that God has in and over our lives, we can look as those thorns rise above their existence to honor God and His sovereignty.
Are you giving the thorn in your side more attention than you’re giving God?
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1 “On that day a fountain will be opened for the dynasty of David and for the people of Jerusalem, a fountain to cleanse them from all their sins and impurity. 2 “And on that day,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will erase idol worship throughout the land, so that even the names of the idols will be forgotten. I will remove from the land both the false prophets and the spirit of impurity that came with them. 3 If anyone continues to prophesy, his own father and mother will tell him, ‘You must die, for you have prophesied lies in the name of the LORD .’ And as he prophesies, his own father and mother will stab him. 4 “On that day people will be ashamed to claim the prophetic gift. No one will pretend to be a prophet by wearing prophet’s clothes. 5 He will say, ‘I’m no prophet; I’m a farmer. I began working for a farmer as a boy.’ 6 And if someone asks, ‘Then what about those wounds on your chest? ’ he will say, ‘I was wounded at my friends’ house!’ 7 “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, the man who is my partner,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “Strike down the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn against the lambs. 8 Two-thirds of the people in the land will be cut off and die,” says the LORD . “But one-third will be left in the land. 9 I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’”
“Let God’s light be a contagious part of your life.”
Anything and everything can be an infectious aspect of your life. A bad attitude, addiction, immorality, joy, peace, and everything in between. We, however, choose what is the infectious part of our lives. When you choose darkness; it shows. When you choose God’s light; it shows. So friends, be sure to consciously choose God to help positively infect your life.
Because we all comprise the Body of Christ, what we do and say impacts one another. This means you can be a blessing or a stumbling block for your brothers and sisters. So in this regard, make the decision to allow God to teach you the right way to impact those around you. We may not be prone to living righteously, be we are in connection with the One who can teach us how to improve.
What’s your impact and does God have anything to do with it?
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1 This message concerning the fate of Israel came from the LORD : “This message is from the LORD, who stretched out the heavens, laid the foundations of the earth, and formed the human spirit. 2 I will make Jerusalem like an intoxicating drink that makes the nearby nations stagger when they send their armies to besiege Jerusalem and Judah. 3 On that day I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. All the nations will gather against it to try to move it, but they will only hurt themselves. 4 “On that day,” says the LORD, “I will cause every horse to panic and every rider to lose his nerve. I will watch over the people of Judah, but I will blind all the horses of their enemies. 5 And the clans of Judah will say to themselves, ‘The people of Jerusalem have found strength in the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, their God.’ 6 “On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a flame that sets a woodpile ablaze or like a burning torch among sheaves of grain. They will burn up all the neighboring nations right and left, while the people living in Jerusalem remain secure. 7 “The LORD will give victory to the rest of Judah first, before Jerusalem, so that the people of Jerusalem and the royal line of David will not have greater honor than the rest of Judah. 8 On that day the LORD will defend the people of Jerusalem; the weakest among them will be as mighty as King David! And the royal descendants will be like God, like the angel of the LORD who goes before them! 9 For on that day I will begin to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. 10 “Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died. 11 The sorrow and mourning in Jerusalem on that day will be like the great mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the valley of Megiddo. 12 “All Israel will mourn, each clan by itself, and with the husbands separate from their wives. The clan of David will mourn alone, as will the clan of Nathan, 13 the clan of Levi, and the clan of Shimei. 14 Each of the surviving clans from Judah will mourn separately, and with the husbands separate from their wives.
“Study and know the Word so that decoys become obvious.”
It’s easy to become fixated on the things outside of our control—unruly coworkers, disconnected spouses, competitive siblings, and so on. There is so much for you and me to become obsessed with, and eventually, those obsessions become problems that weren’t actually problems to begin with! So, why does this happen? We lost sight of the truth and grabbed onto the decoy.
The decoy only works if we participate. When you engage in a throwaway comment from someone rather than ignoring it, you’ve picked up the decoy. When you reply to an inappropriate message that obstructs your marriage vows, you’ve picked up the decoy. When you’re seeking out images and substances you know you need to put down, you’ve picked up the decoy. Friends, we’ve all fallen for the deceptive decoy, but the great news is that we have God on our side. So, the next time you’re tempted to pick up the decoy, pick up the Word and tune into God instead.
What decoy are you not leaving alone?
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1 Open your doors, Lebanon, so that fire may devour your cedar forests. 2 Weep, you cypress trees, for all the ruined cedars; the most majestic ones have fallen. Weep, you oaks of Bashan, for the thick forests have been cut down. 3 Listen to the wailing of the shepherds, for their rich pastures are destroyed. Hear the young lions roaring, for their thickets in the Jordan Valley are ruined. 4 This is what the LORD my God says: “Go and care for the flock that is intended for slaughter. 5 The buyers slaughter their sheep without remorse. The sellers say, ‘Praise the LORD ! Now I’m rich!’ Even the shepherds have no compassion for them. 6 Likewise, I will no longer have pity on the people of the land,” says the LORD . “I will let them fall into each other’s hands and into the hands of their king. They will turn the land into a wilderness, and I will not rescue them.” 7 So I cared for the flock intended for slaughter—the flock that was oppressed. Then I took two shepherd’s staffs and named one Favor and the other Union. 8 I got rid of their three evil shepherds in a single month. But I became impatient with these sheep, and they hated me, too. 9 So I told them, “I won’t be your shepherd any longer. If you die, you die. If you are killed, you are killed. And let those who remain devour each other!” 10 Then I took my staff called Favor and cut it in two, showing that I had revoked the covenant I had made with all the nations. 11 That was the end of my covenant with them. The suffering flock was watching me, and they knew that the LORD was speaking through my actions. 12 And I said to them, “If you like, give me my wages, whatever I am worth; but only if you want to.” So they counted out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter ”—this magnificent sum at which they valued me! So I took the thirty coins and threw them to the potter in the Temple of the LORD . 14 Then I took my other staff, Union, and cut it in two, showing that the bond of unity between Judah and Israel was broken. 15 Then the LORD said to me, “Go again and play the part of a worthless shepherd. 16 This illustrates how I will give this nation a shepherd who will not care for those who are dying, nor look after the young, nor heal the injured, nor feed the healthy. Instead, this shepherd will eat the meat of the fattest sheep and tear off their hooves. 17 “What sorrow awaits this worthless shepherd who abandons the flock! The sword will cut his arm and pierce his right eye. His arm will become useless, and his right eye completely blind.”
“No need to go head-to-head with the opposition. Instead, do not engage.”
The Bible tells us to resist the devil, and he will flee. What we all fail to do from time to time is just that. Friends, we are not to engage in a battle of wits with the enemy. Truthfully speaking, we will lose. The moment you play mind games with him is the moment you’ve turned your back on what is True. So instead of focusing on the devil, we must set our eyes on Christ.
If we truly want to beat the opposition, we must turn to Christ. While the devil may be tricky for us, he is no match for God. For this reason (and many others), we must submit and give ourselves to our Father in Heaven so that He can do (and has done) what we are unable to do on our own. Once you understand all of the plays on the table, leaning on God becomes the obvious answer.
Are you submitting to God or spinning in futility by entertaining the devil?
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1 Ask the LORD for rain in the spring, for he makes the storm clouds. And he will send showers of rain so every field becomes a lush pasture. 2 Household gods give worthless advice, fortune-tellers predict only lies, and interpreters of dreams pronounce falsehoods that give no comfort. So my people are wandering like lost sheep; they are attacked because they have no shepherd. 3 “My anger burns against your shepherds, and I will punish these leaders. For the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has arrived to look after Judah, his flock. He will make them strong and glorious, like a proud warhorse in battle. 4 From Judah will come the cornerstone, the tent peg, the bow for battle, and all the rulers. 5 They will be like mighty warriors in battle, trampling their enemies in the mud under their feet. Since the LORD is with them as they fight, they will overthrow even the enemy’s horsemen. 6 “I will strengthen Judah and save Israel ; I will restore them because of my compassion. It will be as though I had never rejected them, for I am the LORD their God, who will hear their cries. 7 The people of Israel will become like mighty warriors, and their hearts will be made happy as if by wine. Their children, too, will see it and be glad; their hearts will rejoice in the LORD . 8 When I whistle to them, they will come running, for I have redeemed them. From the few who are left, they will grow as numerous as they were before. 9 Though I have scattered them like seeds among the nations, they will still remember me in distant lands. They and their children will survive and return again to Israel. 10 I will bring them back from Egypt and gather them from Assyria. I will resettle them in Gilead and Lebanon until there is no more room for them all. 11 They will pass safely through the sea of distress, for the waves of the sea will be held back, and the waters of the Nile will dry up. The pride of Assyria will be crushed, and the rule of Egypt will end. 12 By my power I will make my people strong, and by my authority they will go wherever they wish. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
“One of the most beautiful byproducts of forgiveness of witnessing the evolution of people that grace brings.”
When we maintain a rigid mentality of judging those who have wronged us, we fail to administer and witness the grace and mercy that God so wonderfully bestows to us each and every day. Meaning when we characterize our brothers and sisters in their worst moments, we suffocate the growth and fruit that forgiveness provides. More to the point, how we judge and forgive others is precisely how we judge and forgive ourselves, so judge accordingly.
Instead of wading in the waves of being unable to forgive, it’s time to loop God into our actions. When God is involved, we have the opportunity and capability to rise to the occasion and become the people that He built us to be. This starts by forgiving your neighbor. Don’t strangle them into a reputation because of a misstep. Further, when we forgive freely, it unlocks the Truth and realization of understanding how God forgives us. Even better, by connecting and loving our neighbors, we effectively learn to love ourselves, honoring God above all.
Are you changing the tide on forgiveness, or are you being drowned out in your judgmental ways?
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1 This is the message from the LORD against the land of Aram and the city of Damascus, for the eyes of humanity, including all the tribes of Israel, are on the LORD . 2 Doom is certain for Hamath, near Damascus, and for the cities of Tyre and Sidon, though they are so clever. 3 Tyre has built a strong fortress and has made silver and gold as plentiful as dust in the streets! 4 But now the Lord will strip away Tyre’s possessions and hurl its fortifications into the sea, and it will be burned to the ground. 5 The city of Ashkelon will see Tyre fall and will be filled with fear. Gaza will shake with terror, as will Ekron, for their hopes will be dashed. Gaza’s king will be killed, and Ashkelon will be deserted. 6 Foreigners will occupy the city of Ashdod. I will destroy the pride of the Philistines. 7 I will grab the bloody meat from their mouths and snatch the detestable sacrifices from their teeth. Then the surviving Philistines will worship our God and become like a clan in Judah. The Philistines of Ekron will join my people, as the ancient Jebusites once did. 8 I will guard my Temple and protect it from invading armies. I am watching closely to ensure that no more foreign oppressors overrun my people’s land. 9 Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt. 10 I will remove the battle chariots from Israel and the warhorses from Jerusalem. I will destroy all the weapons used in battle, and your king will bring peace to the nations. His realm will stretch from sea to sea and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth. 11 Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood, I will free your prisoners from death in a waterless dungeon. 12 Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope! I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles. 13 Judah is my bow, and Israel is my arrow. Jerusalem is my sword, and like a warrior, I will brandish it against the Greeks. 14 The LORD will appear above his people; his arrows will fly like lightning! The Sovereign LORD will sound the ram’s horn and attack like a whirlwind from the southern desert. 15 The LORD of Heaven’s Armies will protect his people, and they will defeat their enemies by hurling great stones. They will shout in battle as though drunk with wine. They will be filled with blood like a bowl, drenched with blood like the corners of the altar. 16 On that day the LORD their God will rescue his people, just as a shepherd rescues his sheep. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. 17 How wonderful and beautiful they will be! The young men will thrive on abundant grain, and the young women will flourish on new wine.