“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?
Salvation is the beginning to a potentially wild adventure. God has massive plans for you and all of His children. The challenge lies in if we’re willing to answer the call. Contrary to popular belief, God did not create us just to overcome problem after problem. We are not meant to be just barely clinging to the hope of Christ. In order to undertake whatever call that has been placed on your life, you must undergo the changes and growing pains that come along with it.
As a kid, I would accompany my family back to Maryland to visit relatives. Being a crab state, I remember watching my great grandmother prepare the crabs, AKA sticking these none the wiser crabs into their heated doom. Once the water got hot, you could hear the crabs scrambling to get out of the pot. When we are going through changes and growing periods, it can feel like you’re a crab in a boiling pot of water, desperately trying to get out before you meet your doom. But, unlike the crab, what lies in store for us is not our doom, but our freedom from whatever binds us in life.
Changing Your Tune
Growing pains are typically a mental shift rather than a physical one. To understand and accept the plan God has in place for you, you first must accept that He wants a victorious life for you. Victory comes in many forms, not just the “million dollars and fancy houses”. Victory can be over your health, sobriety, relationships, and so on. Instead of trying to ‘get out of the boiling pot’, lean on God and lean into the discipline of making changes. As my dad says often, “You eat the elephant one bite at a time”. So the next time you feel the boiling temptation of going off course, consult God, accept His plan, and take calculated steps to get there. His Ways are ultimately and infinitely far better than ours.
1Who is this who comes from Edom, from the city of Bozrah, with his clothing stained red? Who is this in royal robes, marching in his great strength? “It is I, the LORD, announcing your salvation! It is I, the LORD, who has the power to save!”
2Why are your clothes so red, as if you have been treading out grapes?
3“I have been treading the winepress alone; no one was there to help me. In my anger I have trampled my enemies as if they were grapes. In my fury I have trampled my foes. Their blood has stained my clothes.
4For the time has come for me to avenge my people, to ransom them from their oppressors.
5I was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So I myself stepped in to save them with my strong arm, and my wrath sustained me.
6I crushed the nations in my anger and made them stagger and fall to the ground, spilling their blood upon the earth.”
7I will tell of the LORD ’s unfailing love. I will praise the LORD for all he has done. I will rejoice in his great goodness to Israel, which he has granted according to his mercy and love.
8He said, “They are my very own people. Surely they will not betray me again.” And he became their Savior.
9In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.
10But they rebelled against him and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he became their enemy and fought against them.
11Then they remembered those days of old when Moses led his people out of Egypt. They cried out, “Where is the one who brought Israel through the sea, with Moses as their shepherd? Where is the one who sent his Holy Spirit to be among his people?
12Where is the one whose power was displayed when Moses lifted up his hand— the one who divided the sea before them, making himself famous forever?
13Where is the one who led them through the bottom of the sea? They were like fine stallions racing through the desert, never stumbling.
14As with cattle going down into a peaceful valley, the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. You led your people, LORD, and gained a magnificent reputation.”
15LORD, look down from heaven; look from your holy, glorious home, and see us. Where is the passion and the might you used to show on our behalf? Where are your mercy and compassion now?
16Surely you are still our Father! Even if Abraham and Jacob would disown us, LORD, you would still be our Father. You are our Redeemer from ages past.
17LORD, why have you allowed us to turn from your path? Why have you given us stubborn hearts so we no longer fear you? Return and help us, for we are your servants, the tribes that are your special possession.
18How briefly your holy people possessed your holy place, and now our enemies have destroyed it.
19Sometimes it seems as though we never belonged to you, as though we had never been known as your people.
“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?
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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.”
“God is a never-ending well of which we can draw from. His stability and consistency will always bring us peace, joy, and contentment, quenching our thirst.”~TB
I recently met up with an old friend of mine. We exchanged hilarious stories about our family holiday events over coffee. One of the things I enjoy about our conversations is the candor about family dynamics. While the people in our lives don’t inherently intend to emotionally drain us, sometimes they lack the foundational stability to refrain from those negative habits. More to the point, if you don’t know where to go to for emotional/spiritual stability, those exchanges can leave you feeling depleted, weary, and drained.
Friends, if you only rely on the emotional support of other human beings, you’re in for a long and bumpy ride. Many of us are participating in selfish, emotional vampire behaviors, taking from others and giving nothing in return. I feel for younger generations who are being brainwashed by the latest trends and societal behaviors. Most of what people are being taught is self-centered, indulgent and careless. This isn’t to be mean, it’s just an observation of a broken world doubling down on soul-sucking lifestyles. If you’re feeling depleted, listless, and in a rut, it’s time to learn where to draw your water from. Hanging out with God on a daily basis is beneficial for the renewal of your spirit.
Consulting God on the day to day is like getting your daily water from the best well out there. It provides the water you need to go about your day with the spiritual rejuvenation that can only come from Christ. There’s plenty for everyone and the benefits are unlimited. When you lay your burdens down before God, you relieve yourself from the toxic junk of the world. By doing so, you know not to dump on other people, repeating the toxic cycle. If you’re weary, call out to Him so that He can restore you. Drink from the Holy Well so that you do not thirst for makeshift beverages of the world. We cannot change the people that we interact with only the daily. However when we get our Daily Water from God’s Well, those interactions hold less of an impact.
Are you drinking from His Well or is the soda of the world more appealing?
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1The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
2He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD ’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
3To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.
4They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations.
5Foreigners will be your servants. They will feed your flocks and plow your fields and tend your vineyards.
6You will be called priests of the LORD, ministers of our God. You will feed on the treasures of the nations and boast in their riches.
7Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.
8“For I, the LORD, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing. I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9Their descendants will be recognized and honored among the nations. Everyone will realize that they are a people the LORD has blessed.”
10I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.
11The Sovereign LORD will show his justice to the nations of the world. Everyone will praise him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere.
“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?
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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.”
“In all the you do, resolve to keep Christ at the top of your life.”~TB
Put to Bed
It’s the New Year and with the beginning of the calendar comes a lot of reflection, refocus, and resolutions. One of the best things about reflecting with God is that you can see where you’ve been, where you are, and where you are going in your walk. No, perfection will never happen, but hopefully, obedience is on the rise. So in the coming year, resolve to put to bed any foolishness of the past. As Christ makes a new work in us, our tom-foolery of yesterday can no long remain in our new positions.
As God promotes you with wisdom, kindness, and the daily bread to sustain your faith, promote yourselves but placing Him above all else in your life. When we position God at the top as the center of our existence, we then can see life in 2020 (a little New Year pun, ha!), as He un-blurs His plan for your life. Look at life’s opportunities as learning lessons from above, that will prune, refine, and elevate you into your calling. A new chapter brings new ideas, new challenges, and new joys. Remember that God equips us for it all, so live in His victory this year and on.
Are you walking with Christ to see His Resolution?
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1Listen! The LORD ’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.
2It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.
3Your hands are the hands of murderers, and your fingers are filthy with sin. Your lips are full of lies, and your mouth spews corruption.
4No one cares about being fair and honest. The people’s lawsuits are based on lies. They conceive evil deeds and then give birth to sin.
5They hatch deadly snakes and weave spiders’ webs. Whoever eats their eggs will die; whoever cracks them will hatch a viper.
6Their webs can’t be made into clothing, and nothing they do is productive. All their activity is filled with sin, and violence is their trademark.
7Their feet run to do evil, and they rush to commit murder. They think only about sinning. Misery and destruction always follow them.
8They don’t know where to find peace or what it means to be just and good. They have mapped out crooked roads, and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace.
9So there is no justice among us, and we know nothing about right living. We look for light but find only darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom.
10We grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark. Among the living, we are like the dead.
11We growl like hungry bears; we moan like mournful doves. We look for justice, but it never comes. We look for rescue, but it is far away from us.
12For our sins are piled up before God and testify against us. Yes, we know what sinners we are.
13We know we have rebelled and have denied the LORD . We have turned our backs on our God. We know how unfair and oppressive we have been, carefully planning our deceitful lies.
14Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed.
15Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked. The LORD looked and was displeased to find there was no justice.
16He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him.
17He put on righteousness as his body armor and placed the helmet of salvation on his head. He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.
18He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds. His fury will fall on his foes. He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth.
19In the west, people will respect the name of the LORD ; in the east, they will glorify him. For he will come like a raging flood tide driven by the breath of the LORD .
20“The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins,” says the LORD .
21“And this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD . “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the LORD, have spoken!
“In case of emergencies (or in everyday life), tap into the Holy Humor of God.”~TB
The Divine Chuckle
God has to have the greatest sense of humor of all time. Just look at us, we are a funny bunch. I’m sure He looks down at us, and has a good chuckle from time to time. And if you learn how, you too can get in on the joke. The older I get, the more I’m convinced that when we endure trying times, in those moments we are able to experience the the kindness and humor of God. If you take a step back and look, you can begin to see God in His kindness and mercy, rather than the Old Testament look we tend to view Him as. Take the holidays and family, for example. Many of us in the Western part of the world are wrapping up the holiday season, which means time spent with your family– for better or worse.
Family can bring the greatest sense of joy. They can also provide the greatest amount of strife as those closest to us know (consciously or otherwise) how to get under our skin. Family functions will always have a sort of dysfunction because we’re all flesh-bag beings who are severely imperfect, and no amount of strategically choreographed photos can change that. Be that as it may, the art of seeing the humor in discord serves two purposes. 1.) You learn not to pick up the sword and you can disarm a brewing battle. 2.) It’s a fun way to take the sting out of the situation. Like the gauge of a pressure cooker, Holy laughter alleviates the boiling pot of tension in family gatherings, safely dismantling a lethal weapon, repurposing it into a fun endeavor.
For Better or Worse
This life is full of hills and valleys, highs and lows. If you can’t find the humor or absurdity in situations, friends it’s going to be a long and arduous venture. So the next time Uncle Frank (no offense to the Franks of the world) makes an insensitive comment or your cousin asks to borrow a couple bucks from you, have a laugh with God, and let the moments float on by as punch lines of your Holy Comedy Routine. The more you learn to chuckle and roll with the punches, the less opportunities are available for the opposition to sow seeds of discord. Remember, when in doubt, have a chuckle with God and laugh it out.
Are you able to see God’s Humor or are you the butt of the joke?
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1“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins!
2Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.
3‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers.
4What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.
5You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD ?
6“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people.
7Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
8“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.
9Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.
12Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.
13“Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD ’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
14Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
“Imagine what our relationship with God would be if we only followed His directions.”~TB
In theory, God’s Will, laws, and ways are not difficult to understand. That said, it’s amazing how fickle, fleshly, and wayward we can be. God will give us simple, easy to follow instructions, but like Red Riding Hood, something catches our eye and we stray from the path. Then when we are at the mercy of our choices and the opposition, we cry out to God to put us back on the straight and narrow. And when He does, many of us often fall back into the same pattern, never maturing in Christ. When you reflect on this, it’s hard not to think about how odd and foolish we can be.
As flesh-driven creatures, obedience to Christ and His ways is tough! We have to humbly submit ourselves to His plans and designs for our lives. The struggle lies in allowing Christ behind the wheel instead of driving ourselves. The ironic part is that walking in step with Christ yields fruit way sweeter than anything we can cultivate on our own. However, to actualize this, we must reign in our behavior, thoughts, and minds, following the instruction of God rather than our own directions. When that happens God can then use us to our full potential.
Where could you be if you followed the directions of Christ?
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1Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come.
2For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die.
3“But you—come here, you witches’ children, you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!
4Whom do you mock, making faces and sticking out your tongues? You children of sinners and liars!
5You worship your idols with great passion beneath the oaks and under every green tree. You sacrifice your children down in the valleys, among the jagged rocks in the cliffs.
6Your gods are the smooth stones in the valleys. You worship them with liquid offerings and grain offerings. They, not I, are your inheritance. Do you think all this makes me happy?
7You have committed adultery on every high mountain. There you have worshiped idols and have been unfaithful to me.
8You have put pagan symbols on your doorposts and behind your doors. You have left me and climbed into bed with these detestable gods. You have committed yourselves to them. You love to look at their naked bodies.
9You have gone to Molech with olive oil and many perfumes, sending your agents far and wide, even to the world of the dead.
10You grew weary in your search, but you never gave up. Desire gave you renewed strength, and you did not grow weary.
11“Are you afraid of these idols? Do they terrify you? Is that why you have lied to me and forgotten me and my words? Is it because of my long silence that you no longer fear me?
12Now I will expose your so-called good deeds. None of them will help you.
13Let’s see if your idols can save you when you cry to them for help. Why, a puff of wind can knock them down! If you just breathe on them, they fall over! But whoever trusts in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.”
14God says, “Rebuild the road! Clear away the rocks and stones so my people can return from captivity.”
15The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.
16For I will not fight against you forever; I will not always be angry. If I were, all people would pass away— all the souls I have made.
17I was angry, so I punished these greedy people. I withdrew from them, but they kept going on their own stubborn way.
18I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn,
19bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far,” says the LORD, who heals them.
20“But those who still reject me are like the restless sea, which is never still but continually churns up mud and dirt.
“We are all God’s agents, dispatched to exemplify His name on various missions.”~TB
Spoiler alert: you don’t have to go out of the country to a foreign land to go on missions for Christ. In fact, chances are you can do more for you neighbor in God’s name than you can to someone who may not be able to fully understand your language. That’s not a dig at those doing great works in other nations. It is a gentle reminder that we all have a duty to help the poor, the widowed, and the downtrodden which you can easily find in your backyard. Like agents on a secret mission, listen to your Holy Commander for your next assignment. That could be feeding the less fortunate, uplifting a family member or neighbor, the list is long and God knows who to select for the cause. If you are looking for a way to get in on the fun that is serving Christ through serving others, all you have to do is look at the Word for guidance.
Spoiler alert #2: you don’t have to shove the Word down the throat of those you serve on your Mission. Look at your dossier– The Word– and read it carefully to understand its instructions. A lot of us get caught up in our egos and go off script with our “help” causing more harm than good. God calls us to be examplesnot enforcers, and there is a difference. Your Mission is torpedoed when you go off script and blow your cover. When working for God, all you have to do is be a light, shining kindness, love, mercy, and humility when carrying out your mission. We are not dispatched to judge because that job is solely reserved for the One who can. So instead of beating the Bible across the faces of “heathens”, try meeting a need. If you are truly looking to show people who God is, love them as He loves you; which means keep the self-righteousness and judgment at home.
Are you carrying out God’s Mission or your own?
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1This is what the LORD says: “Be just and fair to all. Do what is right and good, for I am coming soon to rescue you and to display my righteousness among you.
2Blessed are all those who are careful to do this. Blessed are those who honor my Sabbath days of rest and keep themselves from doing wrong.
3“Don’t let foreigners who commit themselves to the LORD say, ‘The LORD will never let me be part of his people.’ And don’t let the eunuchs say, ‘I’m a dried-up tree with no children and no future.’
4For this is what the LORD says: I will bless those eunuchs who keep my Sabbath days holy and who choose to do what pleases me and commit their lives to me.
5I will give them—within the walls of my house— a memorial and a name far greater than sons and daughters could give. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear!
6“I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the LORD, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant.
7I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.
8For the Sovereign LORD, who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says: I will bring others, too, besides my people Israel.”
9Come, wild animals of the field! Come, wild animals of the forest! Come and devour my people!
10For the leaders of my people— the LORD ’s watchmen, his shepherds— are blind and ignorant. They are like silent watchdogs that give no warning when danger comes. They love to lie around, sleeping and dreaming.
11Like greedy dogs, they are never satisfied. They are ignorant shepherds, all following their own path and intent on personal gain.
12“Come,” they say, “let’s get some wine and have a party. Let’s all get drunk. Then tomorrow we’ll do it again and have an even bigger party!”
“Don’t get lost in the battles of an already won war.”~TB
You might be thinking, “If the war has already been won, why are the battles so tough?”. That’s because the opposition plants Trojan horses along our paths and it’s up to us to study the strategies and Truth within the Bible to navigate such attacks. It’s important when conducting battle studies that you know who your allies and opponents are. If you’re not too careful your opponents can seem like your allies and your allies seem like opponents. When you understand the strategy of good and evil, the playing field becomes much clearer.
One of our biggest weaknesses is not the devil, but our own ignorance. When we don’t take time to study and learn the Truth we fall prey to lies obscuring the playing field. We then start to believe that we are the master and commander of our ships, foolishly engaging in friendly fire by living according to our fleshly desires. This is how we lose battles, but thank God (literally) that He has won the war. So whether or not you are victorious in your personal battles, we can all rely on the Final Battle as already determined. The most important part of this is understanding your choice in the matter
We choose how we engage in our personal battles. Whether we rely on God’s Word or our own pride and flesh is 100 percent our own doing. God has provided the Word, the Holy Spirit, and wise people to guide us to the correct answers. As the saying goes ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’ the same goes for you decision to follow God or not. If you want to live and die by the sword, so be it, but if you want to be victorious on the Battlefield, use the Biblical strategies to avoid the traps and snares.
Whose Battle Studies are better; yours or God’s
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1“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink— even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk— it’s all free!
2Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food.
3“Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.
4See how I used him to display my power among the peoples. I made him a leader among the nations.
5You also will command nations you do not know, and peoples unknown to you will come running to obey, because I, the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious.”
6Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near.
7Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.
8“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD . “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
10“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.
11It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
12You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!
13Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the LORD ’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”