“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?
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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.”
“No matter where you go or what you’ll go through, you will always be there.”~TB
Everyone at some point in their life has had a deep-seated “if only” mindset and the world supports that type of thinking. “If only I had more money or if only I had that car/job/spouse/house, andthen everything would be perfect and I wouldn’t have anything to worry about,” etc. We often erroneously believe that once a situation changes, then poof we magically change right along with it. This idea of and then is very misleading because it does not take Spoiler alert: no matter what circumstance you are in, the only thing that is always a constant is you.
So even if you received all of your heart’s desires, things may change externally, but internally, the same things remain. Therefore, we must ask God to changes our hearts and minds; and we must change our behaviors to realize God’s peace and contentment. True peace and contentment are counterintuitive to the world’s standards. The world teaches us that we are to consume, consume, consume. However, those who know God understand it’s He who sets all things in motion. For us to get out of our and then mindsets, we have to understand the present presence of God’s peace. When we focus on Christ, we count all circumstances as joy and then our priorities are aligned with His.
Are you letting “and then” stall your growth in Christ?
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1“The sin of Judah is inscribed with an iron chisel— engraved with a diamond point on their stony hearts and on the corners of their altars.
2Even their children go to worship at their pagan altars and Asherah poles, beneath every green tree and on every high hill.
3So I will hand over my holy mountain— along with all your wealth and treasures and your pagan shrines— as plunder to your enemies, for sin runs rampant in your land.
4The wonderful possession I have reserved for you will slip from your hands. I will tell your enemies to take you as captives to a foreign land. For my anger blazes like a fire that will burn forever.”
5This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD .
6They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.
7“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.
8They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.
9“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
10But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
11Like a partridge that hatches eggs she has not laid, so are those who get their wealth by unjust means. At midlife they will lose their riches; in the end, they will become poor old fools.
12But we worship at your throne— eternal, high, and glorious!
13O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who turn away from you will be disgraced. They will be buried in the dust of the earth, for they have abandoned the LORD, the fountain of living water.
14O LORD, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone!
15People scoff at me and say, “What is this ‘message from the LORD ’ you talk about? Why don’t your predictions come true?”
16LORD, I have not abandoned my job as a shepherd for your people. I have not urged you to send disaster. You have heard everything I’ve said.
17LORD, don’t terrorize me! You alone are my hope in the day of disaster.
18Bring shame and dismay on all who persecute me, but don’t let me experience shame and dismay. Bring a day of terror on them. Yes, bring double destruction upon them!
19This is what the LORD said to me: “Go and stand in the gates of Jerusalem, first in the gate where the king goes in and out, and then in each of the other gates.
20Say to all the people, ‘Listen to this message from the LORD, you kings of Judah and all you people of Judah and everyone living in Jerusalem.
21This is what the LORD says: Listen to my warning! Stop carrying on your trade at Jerusalem’s gates on the Sabbath day.
22Do not do your work on the Sabbath, but make it a holy day. I gave this command to your ancestors,
23but they did not listen or obey. They stubbornly refused to pay attention or accept my discipline.
24“‘But if you obey me, says the LORD, and do not carry on your trade at the gates or work on the Sabbath day, and if you keep it holy,
25then kings and their officials will go in and out of these gates forever. There will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem. Kings and their officials will always ride in and out among the people of Judah in chariots and on horses, and this city will remain forever.
26And from all around Jerusalem, from the towns of Judah and Benjamin, from the western foothills and the hill country and the Negev, the people will come with their burnt offerings and sacrifices. They will bring their grain offerings, frankincense, and thanksgiving offerings to the LORD ’s Temple.
27“‘But if you do not listen to me and refuse to keep the Sabbath holy, and if on the Sabbath day you bring loads of merchandise through the gates of Jerusalem just as on other days, then I will set fire to these gates. The fire will spread to the palaces, and no one will be able to put out the roaring flames.’”
“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?
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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 .
“People who jump ship from Christ at the first sign of trouble fail to fully activate their faith”~TB
It’s amazing what we as people tolerate in our lives. We tolerate crappy bosses, toxic relationships, corrupt governments, gossipy friends, etc. We engage in fruitless and backward relationships that literally do not make sense. We imbibe and ingest things that aren’t beneficial while being potentially lethal. But, when it comes to our faith if it’s not perfect, or something “bad” comes down the pipeline, then we’re quick to abandon it. In our flawed thinking, faith and God has to mean a perfect, pain-free life or it just doesn’t work for us. Think about it, it’s ok to practice bad behavior, work at a place that treats you poorly and underpays, but if life isn’t going according to “your plan”, well this God thing is phooey. Rootless faith, faith that’s not rooted in anything, is what the opposition banks on because he knows at the slightest sign of discomfort, people will turn back to their old ways. The ironic part is that the storms or uncomfortable times are where we really get to know God and see His plan in our lives.
During natural disasters, there are plans and protocols in place to help those affected remain safe. In times of spiritual trouble, the Bible is exactly that. I’m not just talking about doctrine. There are a bunch of stories that talk about men and women enduring wild situations who chose to rely on God’s wisdom to see them through. Regular people, just like you and me were used to do miraculous things because they hunkered down and trusted God. Instead of running at the first sign of trouble, dive deep into the Word. Sure, the Israelites got to see the Red Sea part. Though we may not be able to see such signs today, we have the advantage of having the Living Word at our fingertips! Those guys lived those moments, but we get to read about them and use them to navigate our own “Red Seas”. That’s pretty cool when you think about it. Friends, don’t let go of faith when trouble hits. That’s the devil’s whole strategy (because it’s highly effective). Double down, seek the Lord and He will be with you always in all ways.
Are you jumping ship and missing the true destination all because of a few waves?
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1Then the LORD said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me pleading for these people, I wouldn’t help them. Away with them! Get them out of my sight!
2And if they say to you, ‘But where can we go?’ tell them, ‘This is what the LORD says: “‘Those who are destined for death, to death; those who are destined for war, to war; those who are destined for famine, to famine; those who are destined for captivity, to captivity.’
3“I will send four kinds of destroyers against them,” says the LORD . “I will send the sword to kill, the dogs to drag away, the vultures to devour, and the wild animals to finish up what is left.
4Because of the wicked things Manasseh son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem, I will make my people an object of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.
5“Who will feel sorry for you, Jerusalem? Who will weep for you? Who will even bother to ask how you are?
6You have abandoned me and turned your back on me,” says the LORD . “Therefore, I will raise my fist to destroy you. I am tired of always giving you another chance.
7I will winnow you like grain at the gates of your cities and take away the children you hold dear. I will destroy my own people, because they refuse to change their evil ways.
8There will be more widows than the grains of sand on the seashore. At noontime I will bring a destroyer against the mothers of young men. I will cause anguish and terror to come upon them suddenly.
9The mother of seven grows faint and gasps for breath; her sun has gone down while it is still day. She sits childless now, disgraced and humiliated. And I will hand over those who are left to be killed by the enemy. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
10Then I said, “What sorrow is mine, my mother. Oh, that I had died at birth! I am hated everywhere I go. I am neither a lender who threatens to foreclose nor a borrower who refuses to pay— yet they all curse me.”
11The LORD replied, “I will take care of you, Jeremiah. Your enemies will ask you to plead on their behalf in times of trouble and distress.
12Can a man break a bar of iron from the north, or a bar of bronze?
13At no cost to them, I will hand over your wealth and treasures as plunder to your enemies, for sin runs rampant in your land.
14I will tell your enemies to take you as captives to a foreign land. For my anger blazes like a fire that will burn forever. ”
15Then I said, “ LORD, you know what’s happening to me. Please step in and help me. Punish my persecutors! Please give me time; don’t let me die young. It’s for your sake that I am suffering.
16When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies.
17I never joined the people in their merry feasts. I sat alone because your hand was on me. I was filled with indignation at their sins.
18Why then does my suffering continue? Why is my wound so incurable? Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook, like a spring that has gone dry.”
19This is how the LORD responds: “If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me. If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman. You must influence them; do not let them influence you!
20They will fight against you like an attacking army, but I will make you as secure as a fortified wall of bronze. They will not conquer you, for I am with you to protect and rescue you. I, the LORD, have spoken!
21Yes, I will certainly keep you safe from these wicked men. I will rescue you from their cruel hands.”
“Don’t look at your neighbor’s harvest for evidence of God’s Sovereignty.”~TB
There are 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, and 86,400 seconds in each day. Considering that we spend only a mere fractionof that time around other people, it’s impossible to know all of the deeds and seeds being sown by anyone. Not even your child, your spouse, your sister, your brother, your best friend, anyone. Therefore, we cannot act as judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to other people’s lives. More importantly, we cannot base our understanding or relationship with God on the lives of anyone else but our own.
Everyone sows seeds, good or evil. Everyone also reaps a harvest based on the seeds sown. If you get a bad crop, it’s time to reflect on your seeds. Fortunately for us, we can all do our gardening research found in the Bible and time with God to learn how to sow good seeds. Don’t mind someone else’s garden or harvest, but rather tend to your own. Whatever they receive is between them and God and as onlookers, it is impossible to discern a harvest that which you did not plant. Instead, pray for your brother’s and sister’s and let God do the rest.
Are you foolish enough to look at someone’s harvest, believing that God is asleep at the wheel or are you smart enough to know that you know nothing about it at all?
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1Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down! How the mountains would quake in your presence!
2As fire causes wood to burn and water to boil, your coming would make the nations tremble. Then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame!
3When you came down long ago, you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations. And oh, how the mountains quaked!
4For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!
5You welcome those who gladly do good, who follow godly ways. But you have been very angry with us, for we are not godly. We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved?
6We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
7Yet no one calls on your name or pleads with you for mercy. Therefore, you have turned away from us and turned us over to our sins.
8And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.
9Don’t be so angry with us, LORD . Please don’t remember our sins forever. Look at us, we pray, and see that we are all your people.
10Your holy cities are destroyed. Zion is a wilderness; yes, Jerusalem is a desolate ruin.
11The holy and beautiful Temple where our ancestors praised you has been burned down, and all the things of beauty are destroyed.
12After all this, LORD, must you still refuse to help us? Will you continue to be silent and punish us?
“God does not treat us like puppets or slaves, so let’s not do that to each other.”~TB
Since when did following Christ mean that we are meant to be doormats? As followers of Christ, we are meant to strive for a higher standard, but that also means asserting boundaries and holding each other accountable when people get into ‘Pharaoh’ mode. It’s one thing to turn the other cheek when you are wronged. It’s an entirely different story when you allow other people to enslave your time, mind and resources because you think you’re being Christ-like. If you think bowing down to others and allowing poor treatment is an act of humility, I strongly encourage you to read the Bible more carefully.
When you allow others to continually take advantage of you, you are going down a slippery slope. There is a stark difference between forgiving offenses and tolerating abusive behavior. In our lives, we will endure hardship, setbacks, and other uncomfortable scenarios. But, that is not the same as tolerating bad behavior, whether it comes from your boss, your spouse, your landlord or anyone else. If we truly want to be Christ-like, we have to hold one another to a higher standard. That means shedding light on evil deeds, slave mentalities, and the like. The next time you’re dealing with a ‘Pharaoh’, remember that God loves you and does not require you to put up with inappropriate treatment. Forgive, yes. In addition, remember Christ’s standards.
Are you accepting bad behavior?
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1In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, King Sennacherib of Assyria came to attack the fortified towns of Judah and conquered them.
2Then the king of Assyria sent his chief of staff from Lachish with a huge army to confront King Hezekiah in Jerusalem. The Assyrians took up a position beside the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed.
3These are the officials who went out to meet with them: Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian.
4Then the Assyrian king’s chief of staff told them to give this message to Hezekiah: “This is what the great king of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you so confident?
5Do you think that mere words can substitute for military skill and strength? Who are you counting on, that you have rebelled against me?
6On Egypt? If you lean on Egypt, it will be like a reed that splinters beneath your weight and pierces your hand. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is completely unreliable!
7“But perhaps you will say to me, ‘We are trusting in the LORD our God!’ But isn’t he the one who was insulted by Hezekiah? Didn’t Hezekiah tear down his shrines and altars and make everyone in Judah and Jerusalem worship only at the altar here in Jerusalem?
8“I’ll tell you what! Strike a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria. I will give you 2,000 horses if you can find that many men to ride on them!
9With your tiny army, how can you think of challenging even the weakest contingent of my master’s troops, even with the help of Egypt’s chariots and charioteers?
10What’s more, do you think we have invaded your land without the LORD ’s direction? The LORD himself told us, ‘Attack this land and destroy it!’”
11Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the Assyrian chief of staff, “Please speak to us in Aramaic, for we understand it well. Don’t speak in Hebrew, for the people on the wall will hear.”
12But Sennacherib’s chief of staff replied, “Do you think my master sent this message only to you and your master? He wants all the people to hear it, for when we put this city under siege, they will suffer along with you. They will be so hungry and thirsty that they will eat their own dung and drink their own urine.”
13Then the chief of staff stood and shouted in Hebrew to the people on the wall, “Listen to this message from the great king of Assyria!
14This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He will never be able to rescue you.
15Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the LORD by saying, ‘The LORD will surely rescue us. This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’
16“Don’t listen to Hezekiah! These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me—open the gates and come out. Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well.
17Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one—a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards.
18“Don’t let Hezekiah mislead you by saying, ‘The LORD will rescue us!’ Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria?
19What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? And what about the gods of Sepharvaim? Did any god rescue Samaria from my power?
20What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the LORD can rescue Jerusalem from me?”
21But the people were silent and did not utter a word because Hezekiah had commanded them, “Do not answer him.”
22Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian, went back to Hezekiah. They tore their clothes in despair, and they went in to see the king and told him what the Assyrian chief of staff had said.
“Take a balanced and Biblical approach when examining the stages of your life.”~TB
We all perceive our life experience based on our level of faith, emotional maturity, and memory. How you look at certain moments depends on where your mind is and how much influence Christ has on your perspective. I’ll give you an example. My dad took me and my siblings everywhere with him. He was a teacher at our schools and we helped out at his music studio after school or were taking music lessons. On weekends we’d either play or help out on gigs. Or, we’d be doing yard work or something labor-intensive. He ran a tight ship, kept us close, and told many stories about life. Many would call my upbringing strict (however, if you knew how my brain worked, you’d keep me on a tight leash too). Sure, I wasn’t a fan of shoveling wood chips, but looking back on my childhood, my dad instilled the tools and foundation of faith that help me succeed to this day. In addition to the above, my dad was/is a total goof-ball, taking my siblings and I on elevator rides, climbing trees, etc. He also would buy every single book I requested (It would be a list at least 20 books deep) at every book fair. His love for God and sitting us down on Sundays to read the Bible and have discussions was probably the only reason I ever entertained getting to know God. I can change a tire, lay down tile, paint a house, and a whole bunch of other skills. I also would not have a business-oriented mindset had he not included us in his business dealings. My point in saying this is that life’s experience depends on how you look at it and it’s impossible to look at one scenario to get a complete picture.
We now live in a time where family dynamics are heavily scrutinized and the world tells us that parents who set boundaries and standards are stifling their kids. If I had a dollar for how many stories I’ve heard from people about their parents and how it impacted their lives, well, I wouldn’t have to work. If you look at life or your family based on the world’s standards, it’s going to look ugly. That’s because for some odd reason, society has taught us to expect its version of familial perfection without the nuance of God, grace, mercy or forgiveness. One of the greatest aspects of the Old Testament is the many examples of family dynamics. You’ve got siblings selling their brother into slavery. You’ve got a brother stealing a birthright. You’ve got women fighting over a baby. I mean the stories are far and wide. What these stories tell us is that families are not perfect and every family has some sort of dysfunction. More to the point, even when we do drop the ball, we aren’t the sum total of our mistakes. God calls us to set our egos aside and to love and forgive everyone— family included. Maybe your family experience was terrible or less than ideal. Truth is, we cannot get from people what only God can give us. If you let him, God will reconcile your experience, but you have to look at all things considered from Christ’s perspective.
All things considered, are you grateful for the life God gave you?
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1This message came to me concerning Egypt: Look! The LORD is advancing against Egypt, riding on a swift cloud. The idols of Egypt tremble. The hearts of the Egyptians melt with fear.
2“I will make Egyptian fight against Egyptian— brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, city against city, province against province.
3The Egyptians will lose heart, and I will confuse their plans. They will plead with their idols for wisdom and call on spirits, mediums, and those who consult the spirits of the dead.
4I will hand Egypt over to a hard, cruel master. A fierce king will rule them,” says the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
5The waters of the Nile will fail to rise and flood the fields. The riverbed will be parched and dry.
6The canals of the Nile will dry up, and the streams of Egypt will stink with rotting reeds and rushes.
7All the greenery along the riverbank and all the crops along the river will dry up and blow away.
8The fishermen will lament for lack of work. Those who cast hooks into the Nile will groan, and those who use nets will lose heart.
9There will be no flax for the harvesters, no thread for the weavers.
10They will be in despair, and all the workers will be sick at heart.
11What fools are the officials of Zoan! Their best counsel to the king of Egypt is stupid and wrong. Will they still boast to Pharaoh of their wisdom? Will they dare brag about all their wise ancestors?
12Where are your wise counselors, Pharaoh? Let them tell you what God plans, what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies is going to do to Egypt.
13The officials of Zoan are fools, and the officials of Memphis are deluded. The leaders of the people have led Egypt astray.
14The LORD has sent a spirit of foolishness on them, so all their suggestions are wrong. They cause Egypt to stagger like a drunk in his vomit.
15There is nothing Egypt can do. All are helpless— the head and the tail, the noble palm branch and the lowly reed.
16In that day the Egyptians will be as weak as women. They will cower in fear beneath the upraised fist of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
17Just to speak the name of Israel will terrorize them, for the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has laid out his plans against them.
18In that day five of Egypt’s cities will follow the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. They will even begin to speak Hebrew, the language of Canaan. One of these cities will be Heliopolis, the City of the Sun.
19In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the heart of Egypt, and there will be a monument to the LORD at its border.
20It will be a sign and a witness that the LORD of Heaven’s Armies is worshiped in the land of Egypt. When the people cry to the LORD for help against those who oppress them, he will send them a savior who will rescue them.
21The LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians. Yes, they will know the LORD and will give their sacrifices and offerings to him. They will make a vow to the LORD and will keep it.
22The LORD will strike Egypt, and then he will bring healing. For the Egyptians will turn to the LORD, and he will listen to their pleas and heal them.
23In that day Egypt and Assyria will be connected by a highway. The Egyptians and Assyrians will move freely between their lands, and they will both worship God.
24In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth.
25For the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will say, “Blessed be Egypt, my people. Blessed be Assyria, the land I have made. Blessed be Israel, my special possession!”
“God’s love is not contingent on your behavior.”~TB
Salvation is not merit-based. Thank God— literally— as none of us would measure up. Still, even though we know this, many believe that God is waiting to love the ‘new and improved’ version of us. Like, if we could only sin less, be nicer to our neighbors, do more for the community, etc. then God would love us. No, God loves us in our stupor, our good moments, and the not so great ones. Part of growing with God is understanding how immeasurable His love is. That way we stop trying to attain it and recognize that His love is already ours.
Being unconditionally loved is a near impossible concept for many, which is why we mistake God’s unconditional love for the warped perception that we may have. Sure, parents get pretty close to it, but even still, God’s love is greater. If you’re able to glean how He loves us and sees us, only then can you begin to move in His ways and teachings. Like Jesus on Earth, He sat with everyone and judged no one. Granted we all fall short of this mark, but experiencing His grace when we do fall, is a wonderful thing. So the next time you’re trying to be a Super Christian— sinless and perfect— remember that God’s love is eternal and unconditional. The best way we can mirror this is to try and pass on that same love and grace to one another.
Why are you overcompensating for something that is already yours?
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1Then the LORD said to me, “Make a large signboard and clearly write this name on it: Maher-shalal-hash-baz. ”
2I asked Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah, both known as honest men, to witness my doing this.
3Then I slept with my wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. And the LORD said, “Call him Maher-shalal-hash-baz.
4For before this child is old enough to say ‘Papa’ or ‘Mama,’ the king of Assyria will carry away both the abundance of Damascus and the riches of Samaria.”
5Then the LORD spoke to me again and said,
6“My care for the people of Judah is like the gently flowing waters of Shiloah, but they have rejected it. They are rejoicing over what will happen to King Rezin and King Pekah.
7Therefore, the Lord will overwhelm them with a mighty flood from the Euphrates River —the king of Assyria and all his glory. This flood will overflow all its channels
8and sweep into Judah until it is chin deep. It will spread its wings, submerging your land from one end to the other, O Immanuel.
9“Huddle together, you nations, and be terrified. Listen, all you distant lands. Prepare for battle, but you will be crushed! Yes, prepare for battle, but you will be crushed!
10Call your councils of war, but they will be worthless. Develop your strategies, but they will not succeed. For God is with us! ”
11The LORD has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said,
12“Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them.
13Make the LORD of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble.
14He will keep you safe. But to Israel and Judah he will be a stone that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.
15Many will stumble and fall, never to rise again. They will be snared and captured.”
16Preserve the teaching of God; entrust his instructions to those who follow me.
17I will wait for the LORD, who has turned away from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my hope in him.
18I and the children the LORD has given me serve as signs and warnings to Israel from the LORD of Heaven’s Armies who dwells in his Temple on Mount Zion.
19Someone may say to you, “Let’s ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.” But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead?
20Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark.
21They will go from one place to another, weary and hungry. And because they are hungry, they will rage and curse their king and their God. They will look up to heaven
22and down at the earth, but wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair. They will be thrown out into the darkness.
“Check your motives and behaviors because sometimes your illness is caused by your actions.”~TB
Isn’t weird how many of the things we do in our lives are counterintuitive to the goals we wish to achieve? Say you’re trying to lose weight, but keep buying croissants and donuts. Or, you’re trying to start a business but don’t want to qualify prospects. Though we are engaging in this behavior, many times we are quick to blame our circumstance while forgetting about the deeds we did to get there. Our wounds can be self-inflicted and certain afflictions are a result of what we have or haven’t done. When we don’t take responsibility for our hand in our situations, it can seem like life is unfair or that the cards are stacked against you. No, I’m not saying that every bad thing in your life is your fault. I am saying, that the choices we make today impact our ability and mobility tomorrow. More to the point, maybe learned behaviors or life experiences have caused you to take an “ill” viewpoint. To get out of that mentality, a shift in discipline and accountability is imperative. When there is a lack of discipline and accountability, tilling the soil becomes a nuisance rather than the objective.
Discipline isn’t fun but it is a necessary daily practice that we must do. It first starts with disciplining our minds and hearts to follow God. Putting God first every day is challenging for everyone, even those who’ve been doing for a long time. That’s because we are always battling our flesh which is why discipline and endurance are vital. Discipline teaches you to show up, even when you don’t want to. Endurance gives you the extra push to keep going when your tank is on empty. And God fills in the blanks and covers the rest when we fall short. We begin to see the errors of our ways by having honest conversations with God and ourselves. To get there takes humility and an understanding that we’re all flawed. The world isn’t always against you. Sometimes it’s actually you that’s against you. Calling yourself to the carpet and cultivating self-discipline are the best things you can do, not only in your relationship with Christ, but in your relationship and dealing within the world. When you shift your perspective, you will see that your illness is subjective and that if you allow Him, God can prescribe the antidote.
Are you sick of being sick?
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1When Ahaz, son of Jotham and grandson of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah, the king of Israel, set out to attack Jerusalem. However, they were unable to carry out their plan.
2The news had come to the royal court of Judah: “Syria is allied with Israel against us!” So the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, like trees shaking in a storm.
3Then the LORD said to Isaiah, “Take your son Shear-jashub and go out to meet King Ahaz. You will find him at the end of the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed.
4Tell him to stop worrying. Tell him he doesn’t need to fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out embers, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah.
5Yes, the kings of Syria and Israel are plotting against him, saying,
6‘We will attack Judah and capture it for ourselves. Then we will install the son of Tabeel as Judah’s king.’
7But this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “This invasion will never happen; it will never take place;
8for Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus, and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin. As for Israel, within sixty-five years it will be crushed and completely destroyed.
9Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah. Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.”
10Later, the LORD sent this message to King Ahaz:
11“Ask the LORD your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead. ”
12But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the LORD like that.”
13Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well?
14All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
15By the time this child is old enough to choose what is right and reject what is wrong, he will be eating yogurt and honey.
16For before the child is that old, the lands of the two kings you fear so much will both be deserted.
17“Then the LORD will bring things on you, your nation, and your family unlike anything since Israel broke away from Judah. He will bring the king of Assyria upon you!”
18In that day the LORD will whistle for the army of southern Egypt and for the army of Assyria. They will swarm around you like flies and bees.
19They will come in vast hordes and settle in the fertile areas and also in the desolate valleys, caves, and thorny places.
20In that day the Lord will hire a “razor” from beyond the Euphrates River —the king of Assyria—and use it to shave off everything: your land, your crops, and your people.
21In that day a farmer will be fortunate to have a cow and two sheep or goats left.
22Nevertheless, there will be enough milk for everyone because so few people will be left in the land. They will eat their fill of yogurt and honey.
23In that day the lush vineyards, now worth 1,000 pieces of silver, will become patches of briers and thorns.
24The entire land will become a vast expanse of briers and thorns, a hunting ground overrun by wildlife.
25No one will go to the fertile hillsides where the gardens once grew, for briers and thorns will cover them. Cattle, sheep, and goats will graze there.
“In order to go somewhere new, you have to do something new.”~TB
If you’ve been trying to go to the next level in your faith, but feel stagnate, check your process. Examine your patterns of behavior. Grab ahold of your thought life. Old methods won’t yield new results. So throw off the old and embrace doing something new.
New places, people, and things are unfamiliar and probably feel uncomfortable. Truth is, growth will always be uncomfortable. So if God is placing you in a period of uncomfortable-ness, it’s not punishment, but rather the playing field for you to grow closer to Him. Choose to see the opportunities rather than the obstacles.
Are you ready to give up your old ways for something new?
Enjoy the reading
Song of Solomon 1
1This is Solomon’s song of songs, more wonderful than any other.
2Kiss me and kiss me again, for your love is sweeter than wine.
3How fragrant your cologne; your name is like its spreading fragrance. No wonder all the young women love you!
4Take me with you; come, let’s run! The king has brought me into his bedroom. Young Women of Jerusalem How happy we are for you, O king. We praise your love even more than wine. Young Woman How right they are to adore you.
5I am dark but beautiful, O women of Jerusalem— dark as the tents of Kedar, dark as the curtains of Solomon’s tents.
6Don’t stare at me because I am dark— the sun has darkened my skin. My brothers were angry with me; they forced me to care for their vineyards, so I couldn’t care for myself—my own vineyard.
7Tell me, my love, where are you leading your flock today? Where will you rest your sheep at noon? For why should I wander like a prostitute among your friends and their flocks?
8If you don’t know, O most beautiful woman, follow the trail of my flock, and graze your young goats by the shepherds’ tents.
9You are as exciting, my darling, as a mare among Pharaoh’s stallions.
10How lovely are your cheeks; your earrings set them afire! How lovely is your neck, enhanced by a string of jewels.
11We will make for you earrings of gold and beads of silver.
12The king is lying on his couch, enchanted by the fragrance of my perfume.
13My lover is like a sachet of myrrh lying between my breasts.
14He is like a bouquet of sweet henna blossoms from the vineyards of En-gedi.
15How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful! Your eyes are like doves.
16You are so handsome, my love, pleasing beyond words! The soft grass is our bed;
17fragrant cedar branches are the beams of our house, and pleasant smelling firs are the rafters.