“When guilt rears its ugly head, gratitude is the best strategy to defeat it.”~TB
The Shame Game
I have an annoying tendency to downplay my talents and strengths while drilling down on my areas of improvement. More interesting, I know a lot of people who do that too, which makes me wonder why? I could be “killing it” in different areas of my life, but if I’m not paying attention, my inner video of “greatest shame hits” plays, attempting to eclipse the victories that have occurred. When we lean into those shameful periods and feelings, we fall trap into negative cyclical thinking that ultimately steers us back to the very behaviors we’d like to avoid. An untethered mind is a dangerous place. We all have different inner voices, ideas, and thoughts that can uplift or deter us, which is why it’s so important to know who and what you’re listening to.
Attitude of Gratitude
So instead of focusing on your past transgressions (we all have them) look at the gifts and grace that God provides you with gratitude. We’ve all been spared the wrath that we each justly deserve and there are so many minor miracles that we all tend to forget about, but they occur each and every day. If you find yourself in a new position, be grateful and reflect on the situations you’ve experienced that prepare you for this new road. The opposition deceives you when you believe that being down and out is the only way of life. Gratitude defeats the nefarious schemes of shame and the opposition. It allows us to see ourselves as God sees us. God’s Will is mighty and wondrous, but it is up to us to individually and consistently put down our cup of shame and pick up the peace of gratitude.
Are you listening to the lies of shame or embracing God’s mercy with gratitude?
Enjoy the reading
1This is the message the LORD gave Jeremiah when Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah:
2“Go to the settlement where the families of the Recabites live, and invite them to the LORD ’s Temple. Take them into one of the inner rooms, and offer them some wine.”
3So I went to see Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah and grandson of Habazziniah and all his brothers and sons—representing all the Recabite families.
4I took them to the Temple, and we went into the room assigned to the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah, a man of God. This room was located next to the one used by the Temple officials, directly above the room of Maaseiah son of Shallum, the Temple gatekeeper.
5I set cups and jugs of wine before them and invited them to have a drink,
6but they refused. “No,” they said, “we don’t drink wine, because our ancestor Jehonadab son of Recab gave us this command: ‘You and your descendants must never drink wine.
7And do not build houses or plant crops or vineyards, but always live in tents. If you follow these commands, you will live long, good lives in the land.’
8So we have obeyed him in all these things. We have never had a drink of wine to this day, nor have our wives, our sons, or our daughters.
9We haven’t built houses or owned vineyards or farms or planted crops.
10We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed all the commands of Jehonadab, our ancestor.
11But when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked this country, we were afraid of the Babylonian and Syrian armies. So we decided to move to Jerusalem. That is why we are here.”
12Then the LORD gave this message to Jeremiah:
13“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: Go and say to the people in Judah and Jerusalem, ‘Come and learn a lesson about how to obey me.
14The Recabites do not drink wine to this day because their ancestor Jehonadab told them not to. But I have spoken to you again and again, and you refuse to obey me.
15Time after time I sent you prophets, who told you, “Turn from your wicked ways, and start doing things right. Stop worshiping other gods so that you might live in peace here in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.” But you would not listen to me or obey me.
16The descendants of Jehonadab son of Recab have obeyed their ancestor completely, but you have refused to listen to me.’
17“Therefore, this is what the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Because you refuse to listen or answer when I call, I will send upon Judah and Jerusalem all the disasters I have threatened.’”
18Then Jeremiah turned to the Recabites and said, “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘You have obeyed your ancestor Jehonadab in every respect, following all his instructions.’
19Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Jehonadab son of Recab will always have descendants who serve me.’”
“Slow down and be present in your lives so that the opposition does not trip you up in your haste.”~TB
We’re a busy on the go bunch of people, and despite the high praise of multi-tasking and multi-focus, when our attention is split, we run the risk of being prey for the devil. When you’re too fast, you miss the obvious signs and inconsistencies that evil inserts to get us to focus on fear and forget our tasks. Like a banana peel on the ground to trip on because we are going to fast, we stop to evaluate the lies from the truth. You may sign away your land because you didn’t read the terms of the agreement, you may rush into a relationship because you did not evaluate the character of the other person. You may do immoral things because of fear of your employer. Going at warped speed can cause unnecessary pitfalls and disasters because our eyes are not on the prize, which is Christ.
Break it Down
When my dad is teaching new music to the kids in his class, he is known to break up the parts, teach each phrase one at a time until his students get this. He did this with my siblings and me back in the day. It used to drive me nuts because I was impatient (still am). The benefit of slowing things down and breaking down the lessons was that you learn each piece, lessening the chance of learning bad habits and mistakes. Slowing it down and breaking the Biblical lessons we learn from God and the Bible have the same effect. When we know the Truth, it’s easier to spot the inconsistencies and blatant lies from the opposition. We know real from fake, true from false, but it takes a careful, studied, and watchful eye. So in all that you do, apply the lessons learned from Christ. To be the most successful you first must slow down and see the world and its experiences for what they truly are.
Are you slowing down and keeping calm, or are you blazing through hitting every pothole on the way?
Enjoy the reading
1After King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon exiled Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, to Babylon along with the officials of Judah and all the craftsmen and artisans, the LORD gave me this vision. I saw two baskets of figs placed in front of the LORD ’s Temple in Jerusalem.
2One basket was filled with fresh, ripe figs, while the other was filled with bad figs that were too rotten to eat.
3Then the LORD said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I replied, “Figs, some very good and some very bad, too rotten to eat.”
4Then the LORD gave me this message:
5“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: The good figs represent the exiles I sent from Judah to the land of the Babylonians.
6I will watch over and care for them, and I will bring them back here again. I will build them up and not tear them down. I will plant them and not uproot them.
7I will give them hearts that recognize me as the LORD . They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly.
8“But the bad figs,” the LORD said, “represent King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, all the people left in Jerusalem, and those who live in Egypt. I will treat them like bad figs, too rotten to eat.
9I will make them an object of horror and a symbol of evil to every nation on earth. They will be disgraced and mocked, taunted and cursed, wherever I scatter them.
10And I will send war, famine, and disease until they have vanished from the land of Israel, which I gave to them and their ancestors.”
“Quiet reflection with God breeds thoughtful answers to the issues in your life.”~TB
One of the biggest struggles we face as humans in society is quieting the external noise to understand what is going on internally. The world as we know it is designed to put us in conflict with our natural state. Think about it, with so much external distraction and noise, your internal system functions like a jumbled cassette tape. It’s tough to sort through the chaos of our internal state unless we quiet the noise from outside. However, many of us are engaged in chaotic states because we are too scared of the quiet. Slowing down and taking stock of one’s life brings up some uncomfortable insights and the ugly “g-word”–growth.
If the chaos has grown too much and it’s time to get to the heart of the Truth, have a talk with God (which also happens to be the title of a neat Stevie Wonder song.) Honest answers come from an honest reflection and conversation with our Father in Heaven. It doesn’t have to be some dramatic or formal process, just ask a few simple questions and ask for direction. To get the most out of this reflection and quiet time with God honesty and humility are key. It requires us to set aside our foolish and flesh-minded thinking. Basically, we have to turn our backs on what ails us to receive the Holy antidote that is God’s wisdom. It’s a one-on-one conversation that only you and He can have. No preacher, teacher nor profit can do this for you, so steal away to a quiet place to reflect and chat with the one who calls you His.
Are you practicing quiet reflection or are you running amok?
Enjoy the reading
1This is what the LORD said to me: “Go and buy a clay jar. Then ask some of the leaders of the people and of the priests to follow you.
2Go out through the Gate of Broken Pots to the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and give them this message.
3Say to them, ‘Listen to this message from the LORD, you kings of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem! This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will bring a terrible disaster on this place, and the ears of those who hear about it will ring!
4“‘For Israel has forsaken me and turned this valley into a place of wickedness. The people burn incense to foreign gods—idols never before acknowledged by this generation, by their ancestors, or by the kings of Judah. And they have filled this place with the blood of innocent children.
5They have built pagan shrines to Baal, and there they burn their sons as sacrifices to Baal. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!
6So beware, for the time is coming, says the LORD, when this garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.
7“‘For I will upset the careful plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will allow the people to be slaughtered by invading armies, and I will leave their dead bodies as food for the vultures and wild animals.
8I will reduce Jerusalem to ruins, making it a monument to their stupidity. All who pass by will be astonished and will gasp at the destruction they see there.
9I will see to it that your enemies lay siege to the city until all the food is gone. Then those trapped inside will eat their own sons and daughters and friends. They will be driven to utter despair.’
10“As these men watch you, Jeremiah, smash the jar you brought.
11Then say to them, ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: As this jar lies shattered, so I will shatter the people of Judah and Jerusalem beyond all hope of repair. They will bury the bodies here in Topheth, the garbage dump, until there is no more room for them.
12This is what I will do to this place and its people, says the LORD . I will cause this city to become defiled like Topheth.
13Yes, all the houses in Jerusalem, including the palace of Judah’s kings, will become like Topheth—all the houses where you burned incense on the rooftops to your star gods, and where liquid offerings were poured out to your idols.’”
14Then Jeremiah returned from Topheth, the garbage dump where he had delivered this message, and he stopped in front of the Temple of the LORD . He said to the people there,
15“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will bring disaster upon this city and its surrounding towns as I promised, because you have stubbornly refused to listen to me.’”
“It’s amazing that we’ll do everything but what God asks us to do.”~TB
Humans are interesting in that we overcomplicate the simplest of things, making relatively easy tasks appear to be the most challenging obstacles to overcome. If you want the honest answer as to why we do this, it’s disobedience. Of course, we all don’t want to be considered disobedient, so we romanticize it by attributing some reason beyond our control as to why we aren’t doing what we’ve been asked to do. Granted there is fear and letting go of the control ‘button’ that come into play, but if we truly want to hold ourselves accountable in our walk with Christ, it’s best to call a spade a spade; well, in this case, disobedience. I’ll explain.
We will put our trust in everyone and everything but God, which is ironic because He is the only one that will not fail us. Just look at King Saul, Jonah, or Eli. Those guys disobeyed God (Jonah eventually turned it around but was swallowed by a whale) because they didn’t trust God’s word. There are plenty of other disobedient parties in the Bible, which is why when we study the Word, hopefully, we can learn from their mistakes. My point in saying all this is, God’s Will will be done, whether we take the simple route or the disobedient route. Interestingly enough, choosing God’s Will is the best route, but when we fail to activate our faith or succumb to fear we are not able to see the full picture as He intended.
So, let go of the devices, vices, and perceptions that God is calling you to give up. Ask yourself, what do you stand to lose by following God’s path for you? Conversely, ask yourself, what do you have to gain by doing so? The short answers are nothing and everything. But, we must first allow ourselves to understand that our plans and agendas suck in comparison to the plans laid out by God. Only He was the capability and capacity to see generations and how they intersect and correlate. If you think about the numerical implications of that, it’s mind-boggling! Friends, give up your everything but, pick up your cross and run the race set before you. When we trust that God is sovereign and has our best interests at heart, all other choices are fool’s gold in comparison.
Are you doing everything but following God?
Enjoy the reading
1The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said,
2“Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.”
3So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel.
4But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.
5Then the LORD gave me this message:
6“O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.
7If I announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed,
8but then that nation renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned.
9And if I announce that I will plant and build up a certain nation or kingdom,
10but then that nation turns to evil and refuses to obey me, I will not bless it as I said I would.
11“Therefore, Jeremiah, go and warn all Judah and Jerusalem. Say to them, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am planning disaster for you instead of good. So turn from your evil ways, each of you, and do what is right.’”
12But the people replied, “Don’t waste your breath. We will continue to live as we want to, stubbornly following our own evil desires.”
13So this is what the LORD says: “Has anyone ever heard of such a thing, even among the pagan nations? My virgin daughter Israel has done something terrible!
14Does the snow ever disappear from the mountaintops of Lebanon? Do the cold streams flowing from those distant mountains ever run dry?
15But my people are not so reliable, for they have deserted me; they burn incense to worthless idols. They have stumbled off the ancient highways and walk in muddy paths.
16Therefore, their land will become desolate, a monument to their stupidity. All who pass by will be astonished and will shake their heads in amazement.
17I will scatter my people before their enemies as the east wind scatters dust. And in all their trouble I will turn my back on them and refuse to notice their distress.”
18Then the people said, “Come on, let’s plot a way to stop Jeremiah. We have plenty of priests and wise men and prophets. We don’t need him to teach the word and give us advice and prophecies. Let’s spread rumors about him and ignore what he says.”
19LORD, hear me and help me! Listen to what my enemies are saying.
20Should they repay evil for good? They have dug a pit to kill me, though I pleaded for them and tried to protect them from your anger.
21So let their children starve! Let them die by the sword! Let their wives become childless widows. Let their old men die in a plague, and let their young men be killed in battle!
22Let screaming be heard from their homes as warriors come suddenly upon them. For they have dug a pit for me and have hidden traps along my path.
23LORD, you know all about their murderous plots against me. Don’t forgive their crimes and blot out their sins. Let them die before you. Deal with them in your anger.
“Imagine how peaceful we could be if we just did the work.”~TB
Admittedly, I am the consummate procrastinator. As a creative individual, part of my ‘secret sauce’ is the adrenaline of the last-minute deadline that shoots my imaginative process into high gear. I’ve had incredible success with this model. I’ve also had incredible failures too. More to the point, when you procrastinate in all areas of your life, you’re playing with unnecessary fire. As they say, live by the sword, die by the sword.
If you procrastinate long enough or if you’re prone to not doing legitimate work of any kind, you will experience a lot of loss or missed opportunities. One of the not so great things about these experiences is that if you have many that result in a similar ending, you begin to falsely perceive a feedback loop of failure. Even worse, without realizing it, many of us act out this feedback loop subconsciously, resulting in anxiety and a doomsday outlook on certain aspects of life or just life in general.
Our brains work to form correlations so that we can come to certain conclusions more quickly based on past experiences. It’s a survival mechanism. The problem is if you’re falsely wired the incorrect information, it makes getting the correct information more difficult, but, not impossible. Many of us tend to discredit what God does in our lives because He’s not physically present turning water into wine right before us. But, imagine if you quieted the noise, looked within and forged that relationship. You’d see God in a more honest and relational way but in order to get to that place, you have to drop the preconceived notions and behaviors and do the work.
Where would your relationship with God be if you worked as hard as you procrastinated?
Enjoy the reading
1The LORD gave me another message. He said,
2“Do not get married or have children in this place.
3For this is what the LORD says about the children born here in this city and about their mothers and fathers:
4They will die from terrible diseases. No one will mourn for them or bury them, and they will lie scattered on the ground like manure. They will die from war and famine, and their bodies will be food for the vultures and wild animals.”
5This is what the LORD says: “Do not go to funerals to mourn and show sympathy for these people, for I have removed my protection and peace from them. I have taken away my unfailing love and my mercy.
6Both the great and the lowly will die in this land. No one will bury them or mourn for them. Their friends will not cut themselves in sorrow or shave their heads in sadness.
7No one will offer a meal to comfort those who mourn for the dead—not even at the death of a mother or father. No one will send a cup of wine to console them.
8“And do not go to their feasts and parties. Do not eat and drink with them at all.
9For this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: In your own lifetime, before your very eyes, I will put an end to the happy singing and laughter in this land. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard.
10“When you tell the people all these things, they will ask, ‘Why has the LORD decreed such terrible things against us? What have we done to deserve such treatment? What is our sin against the LORD our God?’
11“Then you will give them the LORD ’s reply: ‘It is because your ancestors were unfaithful to me. They worshiped other gods and served them. They abandoned me and did not obey my word.
12And you are even worse than your ancestors! You stubbornly follow your own evil desires and refuse to listen to me.
13So I will throw you out of this land and send you into a foreign land where you and your ancestors have never been. There you can worship idols day and night—and I will grant you no favors!’
14“But the time is coming,” says the LORD, “when people who are taking an oath will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’
15Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’ For I will bring them back to this land that I gave their ancestors.
16“But now I am sending for many fishermen who will catch them,” says the LORD . “I am sending for hunters who will hunt them down in the mountains, hills, and caves.
17I am watching them closely, and I see every sin. They cannot hope to hide from me.
18I will double their punishment for all their sins, because they have defiled my land with lifeless images of their detestable gods and have filled my territory with their evil deeds.”
19LORD, you are my strength and fortress, my refuge in the day of trouble! Nations from around the world will come to you and say, “Our ancestors left us a foolish heritage, for they worshiped worthless idols.
20Can people make their own gods? These are not real gods at all!”
21The LORD says, “Now I will show them my power; now I will show them my might. At last they will know and understand that I am the LORD .
“God never asks for perfection, just obedience.”~TB
Do you ever sit back and reflect on the standards that Christ has asked of us? Love your neighbor as yourself, don’t covet, forgive others, honor thy mother and father, and so on. These standards in of themselves are not difficult. They do not require a Ph.D. nor a mathematical background to practice. More to the point, even when we do screw those up, all we have to do is repent and turn from our stupidity. Imagine that! So why is it that we as people have come so far astray from those simple commandments and deeds? We’ve adopted our own morbid standards of human perfection (depravity) and have tossed God’s to the wayside. If you don’t believe me consider this: depending on the human audience, the standards change. But, God’s standards, never change no matter the audience or time period.
So if man’s standards change– as they often do– it can’t come as a massive surprise that we feel the instability and insecurity that is plaguing our society. From social standards, workplace standards, economic standards, it’s all over the place! This means, that instead of trying to perfect any standard, it’s always best to practice obeying the standards of Christ. Because God’s word never fails, deviates, and obscures, all we have is Him — which is all we need. Think about it; when we die, we can’t take any of this with us. What Suzy said about your outfit or the way you made your quiche does not come into play at the Pearly Gates. Jim’s amazing man cave or home gym does not matter one iota. Friends, imagine if we moved in the way that Christ asked of us. It would be interesting to see what we could accomplish and the peace that would ensue. So, instead of looking to be perfect, practice obeying what Christ has written on our hearts.
Are you practicing obedience or practicing stupidity?
Enjoy the reading
1This message came to Jeremiah from the LORD, explaining why he was holding back the rain:
2“Judah wilts; commerce at the city gates grinds to a halt. All the people sit on the ground in mourning, and a great cry rises from Jerusalem.
3The nobles send servants to get water, but all the wells are dry. The servants return with empty pitchers, confused and desperate, covering their heads in grief.
4The ground is parched and cracked for lack of rain. The farmers are deeply troubled; they, too, cover their heads.
5Even the doe abandons her newborn fawn because there is no grass in the field.
6The wild donkeys stand on the bare hills panting like thirsty jackals. They strain their eyes looking for grass, but there is none to be found.”
7The people say, “Our wickedness has caught up with us, LORD, but help us for the sake of your own reputation. We have turned away from you and sinned against you again and again.
8O Hope of Israel, our Savior in times of trouble, why are you like a stranger to us? Why are you like a traveler passing through the land, stopping only for the night?
9Are you also confused? Is our champion helpless to save us? You are right here among us, LORD . We are known as your people. Please don’t abandon us now!”
10So this is what the LORD says to his people: “You love to wander far from me and do not restrain yourselves. Therefore, I will no longer accept you as my people. Now I will remember all your wickedness and will punish you for your sins.”
11Then the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for these people anymore.
12When they fast, I will pay no attention. When they present their burnt offerings and grain offerings to me, I will not accept them. Instead, I will devour them with war, famine, and disease.”
13Then I said, “O Sovereign LORD, their prophets are telling them, ‘All is well—no war or famine will come. The LORD will surely send you peace.’”
14Then the LORD said, “These prophets are telling lies in my name. I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts.
15Therefore, this is what the LORD says: I will punish these lying prophets, for they have spoken in my name even though I never sent them. They say that no war or famine will come, but they themselves will die by war and famine!
16As for the people to whom they prophesy—their bodies will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and war. There will be no one left to bury them. Husbands, wives, sons, and daughters—all will be gone. For I will pour out their own wickedness on them.
17Now, Jeremiah, say this to them: “Night and day my eyes overflow with tears. I cannot stop weeping, for my virgin daughter—my precious people— has been struck down and lies mortally wounded.
18If I go out into the fields, I see the bodies of people slaughtered by the enemy. If I walk the city streets, I see people who have died of starvation. The prophets and priests continue with their work, but they don’t know what they’re doing.”
19LORD, have you completely rejected Judah? Do you really hate Jerusalem? Why have you wounded us past all hope of healing? We hoped for peace, but no peace came. We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.
20LORD, we confess our wickedness and that of our ancestors, too. We all have sinned against you.
21For the sake of your reputation, LORD, do not abandon us. Do not disgrace your own glorious throne. Please remember us, and do not break your covenant with us.
22Can any of the worthless foreign gods send us rain? Does it fall from the sky by itself? No, you are the one, O LORD our God! Only you can do such things. So we will wait for you to help us.
“Each day has its own highs and lows so you might as well enjoy the ride.”~TB
I’ve been in the same place/space for over 3 months, which is about the longest time I’ve been in one spot since September 2018 when I made the wild/impromptu plan to travel the US. It was a wacky year of sorts filled with interesting people, places, and adventures. There were amazing wins and amazing losses but through it, all God never left me and I came out unharmed! I took a bunch of pictures to document my travels (which I used a couple for this post) and as I look back at them– recalling different events at various places– the only thing I’d change would be to worry less and take more pictures.
Moments in Time
Compared to eternity, life is ridiculously short. Unfortunately, many of us are so worried/focused on one thing or another, we fail to enjoy the life that God gave us. The good news is that God promises peace and not perfection, so if you’re willing to walk in faith, you can experience it. Looking back at these photos, I laugh, because if I had known what I do now, I would’ve chilled out quite a bit. But, that’s how life works, we have to make the best of what we have, practice Christ-like behaviors to one another, and enjoy the moments in time that are afforded to us. I don’t 100% know what tomorrow brings, but I do know that if we trust in God’s peace rather than our own we can learn to take the picture today instead of lamenting about tomorrow
Are you experiencing God’s peace today or your anxiety about tomorrow?
Enjoy the reading
1This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that? Could you build me such a resting place?
2My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the LORD, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.
3But those who choose their own ways— delighting in their detestable sins— will not have their offerings accepted. When such people sacrifice a bull, it is no more acceptable than a human sacrifice. When they sacrifice a lamb, it’s as though they had sacrificed a dog! When they bring an offering of grain, they might as well offer the blood of a pig. When they burn frankincense, it’s as if they had blessed an idol.
4I will send them great trouble— all the things they feared. For when I called, they did not answer. When I spoke, they did not listen. They deliberately sinned before my very eyes and chose to do what they know I despise.”
5Hear this message from the LORD, all you who tremble at his words: “Your own people hate you and throw you out for being loyal to my name. ‘Let the LORD be honored!’ they scoff. ‘Be joyful in him!’ But they will be put to shame.
6What is all the commotion in the city? What is that terrible noise from the Temple? It is the voice of the LORD taking vengeance against his enemies.
7“Before the birth pains even begin, Jerusalem gives birth to a son.
8Who has ever seen anything as strange as this? Who ever heard of such a thing? Has a nation ever been born in a single day? Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment? But by the time Jerusalem’s birth pains begin, her children will be born.
9Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth and then not deliver it?” asks the LORD . “No! I would never keep this nation from being born,” says your God.
10“Rejoice with Jerusalem! Be glad with her, all you who love her and all you who mourn for her.
11Drink deeply of her glory even as an infant drinks at its mother’s comforting breasts.”
12This is what the LORD says: “I will give Jerusalem a river of peace and prosperity. The wealth of the nations will flow to her. Her children will be nursed at her breasts, carried in her arms, and held on her lap.
13I will comfort you there in Jerusalem as a mother comforts her child.”
14When you see these things, your heart will rejoice. You will flourish like the grass! Everyone will see the LORD ’s hand of blessing on his servants— and his anger against his enemies.
15See, the LORD is coming with fire, and his swift chariots roar like a whirlwind. He will bring punishment with the fury of his anger and the flaming fire of his hot rebuke.
16The LORD will punish the world by fire and by his sword. He will judge the earth, and many will be killed by him.
17“Those who ‘consecrate’ and ‘purify’ themselves in a sacred garden with its idol in the center—feasting on pork and rats and other detestable meats—will come to a terrible end,” says the LORD .
18“I can see what they are doing, and I know what they are thinking. So I will gather all nations and peoples together, and they will see my glory.
19I will perform a sign among them. And I will send those who survive to be messengers to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (who are famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to all the lands beyond the sea that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. There they will declare my glory to the nations.
20They will bring the remnant of your people back from every nation. They will bring them to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD . They will ride on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the LORD .
21“And I will appoint some of them to be my priests and Levites. I, the LORD, have spoken!
22“As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain, so will you always be my people, with a name that will never disappear,” says the LORD .
23“All humanity will come to worship me from week to week and from month to month.
24And as they go out, they will see the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me. For the worms that devour them will never die, and the fire that burns them will never go out. All who pass by will view them with utter horror.”
“To experience God’s eternal state of peace, first, change your state of mind.”~TB
The busyness of life can have us feeling all over the place and going nowhere at the same time. When you’re stressed out or overwhelmed it’s easy to start looking at peace as a destination. I’ve even caught myself recently thinking “If I can make it to ‘abc’ then I can be at peace”. Friends, that is foolish thinking because as anyone who’s lived on this earth knows: if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Peace does not come from changed circumstances. It comes from leaning on the strength of Christ and giving Him your burdens so that you may experience His peace.
When you resolve to change your mindset instead of your circumstances, that’s when God can transform you internally. We have to do out part in relying on Him, so that He can make the changes within. In a world that teaches us that we are in control, it can be quite difficult to relinquish the reins of your life. But, the funny part is, that when you do, you begin to realize that you were never in control in the first place! It’s a joyful thing to know that God works in all things all of the time. So, instead of looking for a peaceful destination, allow God to make peace in your heart and mind so that you may know how to continually experience it each and every day.
Is the peace you’re seeking eternal or temporary?
Enjoy the reading
1Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.
2The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the LORD ’s own mouth.
3The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see— a splendid crown in the hand of God.
4Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his bride.
5Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to his bride. Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.
6O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the LORD .
7Give the LORD no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.
8The LORD has sworn to Jerusalem by his own strength: “I will never again hand you over to your enemies. Never again will foreign warriors come and take away your grain and new wine.
9You raised the grain, and you will eat it, praising the LORD . Within the courtyards of the Temple, you yourselves will drink the wine you have pressed.”
10Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see.
11The LORD has sent this message to every land: “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your Savior is coming. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.’”
12They will be called “The Holy People” and “The People Redeemed by the LORD .” And Jerusalem will be known as “The Desirable Place” and “The City No Longer Forsaken.”
“Darkness cannot remain when you turn on the Light.”~TB
Fear of the unknown. Many of us have trouble understanding what we cannot see or what we do not know. When we are unaware of the Truth of Christ, we fall prey to fearing the lies and falsehoods of the world and opposition. Like a strange figure in the dark, we are afraid of what could be instead of basking in the light of what is. Just like that strange blob in the darkness, when you flip on the light switch, you realize that it’s a coat on a hanger or some other innocuous object. If you’re like me, you laugh that you were afraid of the initial fear because in reality, there was nothing to fear at all! There are so many ‘afraid of the dark’ situation that we will face in this world. So, instead of bowing down to the fear, turn on the Light that is God.
When you know Who made you and you are in relationship with Him, you understand your purpose and the path becomes lit up and clear. Knowing Christ is like the ultimate luminous source because His Truth exposes the darkness and lies. We read the Bible not out of blind obedience, but because of the Truth and Light it provides for every day of our lives. When the lights are on, you don’t fall prey to the shadows because you see things for what they are instead of fearing what they could be. Of course temptation will remain, but you will see clearly what path and choices you make. So the next time you’re struggling with fear, turn on the Light that is Christ. Cling to His Truth and purpose for your life so that He may light your way and expose the nonsense of the dark.
Are you stalled by the fear of dark shadows or are you walking in the Light of Christ?
Enjoy the reading
1“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the LORD rises to shine on you.
2Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the LORD rises and appears over you.
3All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance.
4“Look and see, for everyone is coming home! Your sons are coming from distant lands; your little daughters will be carried home.
5Your eyes will shine, and your heart will thrill with joy, for merchants from around the world will come to you. They will bring you the wealth of many lands.
6Vast caravans of camels will converge on you, the camels of Midian and Ephah. The people of Sheba will bring gold and frankincense and will come worshiping the LORD .
7The flocks of Kedar will be given to you, and the rams of Nebaioth will be brought for my altars. I will accept their offerings, and I will make my Temple glorious.
8“And what do I see flying like clouds to Israel, like doves to their nests?
9They are ships from the ends of the earth, from lands that trust in me, led by the great ships of Tarshish. They are bringing the people of Israel home from far away, carrying their silver and gold. They will honor the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has filled you with splendor.
10“Foreigners will come to rebuild your towns, and their kings will serve you. For though I have destroyed you in my anger, I will now have mercy on you through my grace.
11Your gates will stay open day and night to receive the wealth of many lands. The kings of the world will be led as captives in a victory procession.
12For the nations that refuse to serve you will be destroyed.
13“The glory of Lebanon will be yours— the forests of cypress, fir, and pine— to beautify my sanctuary. My Temple will be glorious!
14The descendants of your tormentors will come and bow before you. Those who despised you will kiss your feet. They will call you the City of the LORD, and Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
15“Though you were once despised and hated, with no one traveling through you, I will make you beautiful forever, a joy to all generations.
16Powerful kings and mighty nations will satisfy your every need, as though you were a child nursing at the breast of a queen. You will know at last that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.
17I will exchange your bronze for gold, your iron for silver, your wood for bronze, and your stones for iron. I will make peace your leader and righteousness your ruler.
18Violence will disappear from your land; the desolation and destruction of war will end. Salvation will surround you like city walls, and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there.
19“No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the LORD your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
20Your sun will never set; your moon will not go down. For the LORD will be your everlasting light. Your days of mourning will come to an end.
21All your people will be righteous. They will possess their land forever, for I will plant them there with my own hands in order to bring myself glory.
22The smallest family will become a thousand people, and the tiniest group will become a mighty nation. At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen.”
“When you walk with God daily, He gives you your daily bread.”~TB
What if there was a pill that you could take once a day that would change the way you looked at life, people, and the challenges that each day brings? We’d all probably be in line for a lifetime supply. Think about it, if there was something that could radically change our lives for the better, wouldn’t we all do what was necessary to obtain it? Funny thing is, there is someone who can do all that and more and I’m not just being hyperbolic. Maintaining an authentic relationship with Christ is the key to living this life victoriously. Problem is, without faith or vision, we cannot achieve it.
Once a Day
If there’s one thing my dad always points back to it’s the Lord’s Prayer. It’s a great starting point no matter where you are in your walk with God. While there is so much information to distill from it, the daily bread part sticks out to me in that God gives us the resources each day to walk through life triumphantly. I go one daily walks with my dog where I will have a dialogue with God. For an hour or so, I vent, praise, complain, exhort and all the above to Him. Then, I listen and download my daily bread. Chewing on God’s word daily gives us the tools and ability to navigate a backwards world filled with misguided situations. I find that my days are more peaceful when I go on these walks.
Following Christ is not about ‘repent or go to hell’ semantics. Yes, salvation is a gift, but God provides a host of benefits if you choose to listen to His wisdom. Restoration and healing occur when you walk with God because you begin to understand things like forgiveness, mercy, and kindness in a different light. If there is one thing I’d encourage people to do, it would be to forge a relationship with Christ, not out of fear or blind obedience but as a connection between a parent and a child. When you know Christ, you can see Him in a more authentic manner, rather than the tropes we rely on. If you truly want to radically change your days, get your daily bread by talking with Christ each day.
Where do you get your daily bread?
Enjoy the reading
1“Sing, O childless woman, you who have never given birth! Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem, you who have never been in labor. For the desolate woman now has more children than the woman who lives with her husband,” says the LORD .
2“Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense!
3For you will soon be bursting at the seams. Your descendants will occupy other nations and resettle the ruined cities.
4“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood.
5For your Creator will be your husband; the LORD of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth.
6For the LORD has called you back from your grief— as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,” says your God.
7“For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will take you back.
8In a burst of anger I turned my face away for a little while. But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD, your Redeemer.
9“Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you.
10For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the LORD, who has mercy on you.
11“O storm-battered city, troubled and desolate! I will rebuild you with precious jewels and make your foundations from lapis lazuli.
12I will make your towers of sparkling rubies, your gates of shining gems, and your walls of precious stones.
13I will teach all your children, and they will enjoy great peace.
14You will be secure under a government that is just and fair. Your enemies will stay far away. You will live in peace, and terror will not come near.
15If any nation comes to fight you, it is not because I sent them. Whoever attacks you will go down in defeat.
16“I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons of destruction. And I have created the armies that destroy.
17But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD ; their vindication will come from me. I, the LORD, have spoken!