“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?
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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.’”
“Start your day with Him to put your best foot forward.”~TB
In the Beginning
Give God the first fruits of your day so that you can download the vital information. This way you can have the resources to attack your daily grind with the best information out there; from God. When you take that time in the morning, you find the best way to go about your daily responsibilities because you understand that you’re not working for man, but for God Himself.
At the End
When you give your daily first fruits, your day is spent and your sleep is earned because you obeyed our Father in Heaven. We tend to stay out of trouble and harms way because we followed our path, minimizing the human propensities of looking at other people’s paths. God gives us ample instructions and assignments to ensure that we are successful. To be connected to your purpose, be consistent in your first fruits.
Are you giving your first fruits or your first excuses in the morning?
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1“Run up and down every street in Jerusalem,” says the LORD . “Look high and low; search throughout the city! If you can find even one just and honest person, I will not destroy the city.
2But even when they are under oath, saying, ‘As surely as the LORD lives,’ they are still telling lies!”
3LORD, you are searching for honesty. You struck your people, but they paid no attention. You crushed them, but they refused to be corrected. They are determined, with faces set like stone; they have refused to repent.
4Then I said, “But what can we expect from the poor? They are ignorant. They don’t know the ways of the LORD . They don’t understand God’s laws.
5So I will go and speak to their leaders. Surely they know the ways of the LORD and understand God’s laws.” But the leaders, too, as one man, had thrown off God’s yoke and broken his chains.
6So now a lion from the forest will attack them; a wolf from the desert will pounce on them. A leopard will lurk near their towns, tearing apart any who dare to venture out. For their rebellion is great, and their sins are many.
7“How can I pardon you? For even your children have turned from me. They have sworn by gods that are not gods at all! I fed my people until they were full. But they thanked me by committing adultery and lining up at the brothels.
8They are well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.
9Should I not punish them for this?” says the LORD . “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?
10“Go down the rows of the vineyards and destroy the grapevines, leaving a scattered few alive. Strip the branches from the vines, for these people do not belong to the LORD .
11The people of Israel and Judah are full of treachery against me,” says the LORD .
12“They have lied about the LORD and said, ‘He won’t bother us! No disasters will come upon us. There will be no war or famine.
13God’s prophets are all windbags who don’t really speak for him. Let their predictions of disaster fall on themselves!’”
14Therefore, this is what the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies says: “Because the people are talking like this, my messages will flame out of your mouth and burn the people like kindling wood.
15O Israel, I will bring a distant nation against you,” says the LORD . “It is a mighty nation, an ancient nation, a people whose language you do not know, whose speech you cannot understand.
16Their weapons are deadly; their warriors are mighty.
17They will devour the food of your harvest; they will devour your sons and daughters. They will devour your flocks and herds; they will devour your grapes and figs. And they will destroy your fortified towns, which you think are so safe.
18“Yet even in those days I will not blot you out completely,” says the LORD .
19“And when your people ask, ‘Why did the LORD our God do all this to us?’ you must reply, ‘You rejected him and gave yourselves to foreign gods in your own land. Now you will serve foreigners in a land that is not your own.’
20“Make this announcement to Israel, and say this to Judah:
21Listen, you foolish and senseless people, with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear.
22Have you no respect for me? Why don’t you tremble in my presence? I, the LORD, define the ocean’s sandy shoreline as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross. The waves may toss and roar, but they can never pass the boundaries I set.
23But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned away and abandoned me.
24They do not say from the heart, ‘Let us live in awe of the LORD our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’
25Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.
26“Among my people are wicked men who lie in wait for victims like a hunter hiding in a blind. They continually set traps to catch people.
27Like a cage filled with birds, their homes are filled with evil plots. And now they are great and rich.
28They are fat and sleek, and there is no limit to their wicked deeds. They refuse to provide justice to orphans and deny the rights of the poor.
29Should I not punish them for this?” says the LORD . “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?
30A horrible and shocking thing has happened in this land—
31the prophets give false prophecies, and the priests rule with an iron hand. Worse yet, my people like it that way! But what will you do when the end comes?
“Hanging out with God is like getting honest and objective feedback from someone who ultimately has your best interest in mind. Listen well.”~TB
It Starts With
I’m a big believer in demystifying the practice of building a relationship with God. For some reason, people make it out to be some big ritualistic practice that only ‘certain’ people can do, when in reality, everyone can talk to God. More to the point, the more you talk and listen, you too can get His feedback on your life and what it means to truly be His. It starts with you asking to hear from Him. Literally, that’s it. If you have the honest and earnest desire to hear from God, then ask.
It’s Not Like
After observing people, I find that one of the biggest disconnects with building that relationship comes from not understanding who God is. We, humans, have a distorted belief that we are our own leaders, makers, etc. So if you’re trying to come to God to dictate to Him how your life should be, man, you’re going to continuously bump your head on a wall. Trust, I’m saying this from experience. My point in saying all this is, to know God is to understand that He is our Creator. This means He ultimately knows you better than you know yourself.
When you do the work and build that connection with Christ, His feedback will radically change how you see the world. The fads, the trends, the need for approval from broken people disappear– if you allow it. Because the world jams up our Holy Frequency of which God communicates by, we must unlearn our worldly practices to synthesize the feedback from God. So to sum it up, come to Him with an honest heart. Be humble and learn to submit to His sovereignty. Listen and learn from what you hear. When you’re able to see the world for what it actually is, God’s feedback is easier to understand and implement.
Who are you listening to, God or the world?
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1The LORD gave me another message. He said,
2“Go and shout this message to Jerusalem. This is what the LORD says: “I remember how eager you were to please me as a young bride long ago, how you loved me and followed me even through the barren wilderness.
3In those days Israel was holy to the LORD, the first of his children. All who harmed his people were declared guilty, and disaster fell on them. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
4Listen to the word of the LORD, people of Jacob—all you families of Israel!
5This is what the LORD says: “What did your ancestors find wrong with me that led them to stray so far from me? They worshiped worthless idols, only to become worthless themselves.
6They did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD who brought us safely out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness— a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought and death, where no one lives or even travels?’
7“And when I brought you into a fruitful land to enjoy its bounty and goodness, you defiled my land and corrupted the possession I had promised you.
8The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD ?’ Those who taught my word ignored me, the rulers turned against me, and the prophets spoke in the name of Baal, wasting their time on worthless idols.
9Therefore, I will bring my case against you,” says the LORD . “I will even bring charges against your children’s children in the years to come.
10“Go west and look in the land of Cyprus ; go east and search through the land of Kedar. Has anyone ever heard of anything as strange as this?
11Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones, even though they are not gods at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols!
12The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay,” says the LORD .
13“For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me— the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!
14“Why has Israel become a slave? Why has he been carried away as plunder?
15Strong lions have roared against him, and the land has been destroyed. The towns are now in ruins, and no one lives in them anymore.
16Egyptians, marching from their cities of Memphis and Tahpanhes, have destroyed Israel’s glory and power.
17And you have brought this upon yourselves by rebelling against the LORD your God, even though he was leading you on the way!
18“What have you gained by your alliances with Egypt and your covenants with Assyria? What good to you are the streams of the Nile or the waters of the Euphrates River?
19Your wickedness will bring its own punishment. Your turning from me will shame you. You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon the LORD your God and not to fear him. I, the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!
20“Long ago I broke the yoke that oppressed you and tore away the chains of your slavery, but still you said, ‘I will not serve you.’ On every hill and under every green tree, you have prostituted yourselves by bowing down to idols.
21But I was the one who planted you, choosing a vine of the purest stock—the very best. How did you grow into this corrupt wild vine?
22No amount of soap or lye can make you clean. I still see the stain of your guilt. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!
23“You say, ‘That’s not true! I haven’t worshiped the images of Baal!’ But how can you say that? Go and look in any valley in the land! Face the awful sins you have done. You are like a restless female camel desperately searching for a mate.
24You are like a wild donkey, sniffing the wind at mating time. Who can restrain her lust? Those who desire her don’t need to search, for she goes running to them!
25When will you stop running? When will you stop panting after other gods? But you say, ‘Save your breath. I’m in love with these foreign gods, and I can’t stop loving them now!’
26“Israel is like a thief who feels shame only when he gets caught. They, their kings, officials, priests, and prophets— all are alike in this.
27To an image carved from a piece of wood they say, ‘You are my father.’ To an idol chiseled from a block of stone they say, ‘You are my mother.’ They turn their backs on me, but in times of trouble they cry out to me, ‘Come and save us!’
28But why not call on these gods you have made? When trouble comes, let them save you if they can! For you have as many gods as there are towns in Judah.
29Why do you accuse me of doing wrong? You are the ones who have rebelled,” says the LORD .
30“I have punished your children, but they did not respond to my discipline. You yourselves have killed your prophets as a lion kills its prey.
31“O my people, listen to the words of the LORD ! Have I been like a desert to Israel? Have I been to them a land of darkness? Why then do my people say, ‘At last we are free from God! We don’t need him anymore!’
32Does a young woman forget her jewelry, or a bride her wedding dress? Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me.
33“How you plot and scheme to win your lovers. Even an experienced prostitute could learn from you!
34Your clothing is stained with the blood of the innocent and the poor, though you didn’t catch them breaking into your houses!
35And yet you say, ‘I have done nothing wrong. Surely God isn’t angry with me!’ But now I will punish you severely because you claim you have not sinned.
36First here, then there— you flit from one ally to another asking for help. But your new friends in Egypt will let you down, just as Assyria did before.
37In despair, you will be led into exile with your hands on your heads, for the LORD has rejected the nations you trust. They will not help you at all.
“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?
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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!
“Walking with God is like having a spiritual diagnostics machine telling you where you need maintenance before major issues occur within yourself.”~TB
I talk to God a lot. He doesn’t seem to mind the billion questions that I have on a recurring basis. My family will tell you, I can talk and theorize a lot, so having a listening ear that doesn’t get exasperated with me is nice. I love talking to God more importantly because of the answers I receive. There are many things that God tells both you and I because He ultimately knows what’s best for us. The Holy Spirit reminds me of a diagnostic tool that is able to assess and alert us for routine care. This involves reading our Bible so that we know the Truth and the devil cannot entrap us in a lie. Another way is being good neighbors, so that we do not cause each other to stumble. Most importantly, developing the self-discipline by adhering to the Holy Spirit, which may include eating right, exercising, and not ingesting mental garbage. Your mind, body, and soul are all connected, so what you do to one will affect the others. When you don’t do the routine care, the major issues come up and are pricier and take more time to repair.
Check Engine Light
If you don’t have oil in your car, your engine will blow. That’s not because your car is being mean, it simply means that oil is necessary for the engine to operate functionally. Our relationship to God is quite similar. God doesn’t enforce rules or set boundaries because He’s trying to enslave or control us. No, just like a busted engine, a damaged human spirit causes all kinds of problems. Take it from someone who observes people like a doctorate dissertation. When we’re willfully broken, we’ll be the first to claim all is well, but if you look a little deeper, our spirits are quite damaged. Fortunately for us, the Holy Mechanic that is God does not price gouge us when we blow our spiritual engines. All we have to do is to turn back from our foolishness and restart out routine maintenance. So the next time your check engine light is on, have a talk with the Holy Mechanic, I hear He gives great deals on repairs.
Do you practice routine care or are you routinely spiritually broken?
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1About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: “This is what the LORD says: ‘Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.’”
2When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD,
3“Remember, O LORD, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you.” Then he broke down and wept bitterly.
4Then this message came to Isaiah from the LORD :
5“Go back to Hezekiah and tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will add fifteen years to your life,
6and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria. Yes, I will defend this city.
7“‘And this is the sign from the LORD to prove that he will do as he promised:
8I will cause the sun’s shadow to move ten steps backward on the sundial of Ahaz!’” So the shadow on the sundial moved backward ten steps.
9When King Hezekiah was well again, he wrote this poem:
10I said, “In the prime of my life, must I now enter the place of the dead? Am I to be robbed of the rest of my years?”
11I said, “Never again will I see the LORD GOD while still in the land of the living. Never again will I see my friends or be with those who live in this world.
12My life has been blown away like a shepherd’s tent in a storm. It has been cut short, as when a weaver cuts cloth from a loom. Suddenly, my life was over.
13I waited patiently all night, but I was torn apart as though by lions. Suddenly, my life was over.
14Delirious, I chattered like a swallow or a crane, and then I moaned like a mourning dove. My eyes grew tired of looking to heaven for help. I am in trouble, Lord. Help me!”
15But what could I say? For he himself sent this sickness. Now I will walk humbly throughout my years because of this anguish I have felt.
16Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live!
17Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins.
18For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness.
19Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next.
20Think of it—the LORD is ready to heal me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the LORD .
21Isaiah had said to Hezekiah’s servants, “Make an ointment from figs and spread it over the boil, and Hezekiah will recover.”
22And Hezekiah had asked, “What sign will prove that I will go to the Temple of the LORD ?”
“Though we believe without seeing, there is nothing blind about following Jesus.”~TB
When you don’t have a relationship with God it’s easy to think that those who do just blindly follow the teachings of Christ. As if Christians live some cherry pie existence, blissfully and ignorantly enjoying life without troubles. Oh, but if they only knew. Having a an authentic relationship with Christ requires you to ask questions, have doubts, air grievances, complain, moan, mumble, etc. No, to follow Christ isn’t blind, it requires you to keep your eyes and ears open to experience the wisdom that only comes from Him.
The Truth is, though we cannot see in the natural world, God guides us spiritually, helping us to see in other ways. Through Him, we are connected to each other. Through those relationships, we can see how God impacts each and everyone of us. Of course, you must see, hear, and ask these things of God so that you too can see the patterns of His love through us. It is so important to have honest communication with your brothers and sisters in Christ, so that the babes develop their sight and that the wise don’t go blind from bitterness in the trenches. It is the Truth of the Lord that removes the scales of the world to see what is really going on.
Are you blinded by the world?
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Song of Solomon 3
1One night as I lay in bed, I yearned for my lover. I yearned for him, but he did not come.
2So I said to myself, “I will get up and roam the city, searching in all its streets and squares. I will search for the one I love.” So I searched everywhere but did not find him.
3The watchmen stopped me as they made their rounds, and I asked, “Have you seen the one I love?”
4Then scarcely had I left them when I found my love! I caught and held him tightly, then I brought him to my mother’s house, into my mother’s bed, where I had been conceived.
5Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right.
6Who is this sweeping in from the wilderness like a cloud of smoke? Who is it, fragrant with myrrh and frankincense and every kind of spice?
7Look, it is Solomon’s carriage, surrounded by sixty heroic men, the best of Israel’s soldiers.
8They are all skilled swordsmen, experienced warriors. Each wears a sword on his thigh, ready to defend the king against an attack in the night.
9King Solomon’s carriage is built of wood imported from Lebanon.
10Its posts are silver, its canopy gold; its cushions are purple. It was decorated with love by the young women of Jerusalem.
11Come out to see King Solomon, young women of Jerusalem. He wears the crown his mother gave him on his wedding day, his most joyous day
“There will always be times where you will lack the inspiration or desire to pursue Christ. Do the work anyway.”~TB
Everyone experiences a feeling of stagnation or plateau when developing their relationship with God. More often than not it’s due to us disconnecting from Him because we’re off trying to accomplish our own agendas. Friends, remember His will and plan for your life. I can guarantee you that when you allow God to lead, His plan will always bring a better outcome than any plan you could imagine. When you start to feel bored or uninspired, that’s when you need to speak to Him the most.
Have a talk with God
Prayer is like a casual conversation with the wisest being in existence. You don’t have to be ceremonial or ritualistic about it. Come to Him as you are and He will delight in your humility. There are times where I just say, “God, what gives?” and will air out my grievances honestly and openly. When I’m done ranting, I then listen and am inspired by the response! Friends, you can only get answers from God when you communicate with Him regularly. Don’t get too bold in your own thinking, trust that God’s answers are better than yours and you’ll find an infinite well of inspiration in your Heavenly Father.
Are you talking to God or are you only listening to yourself?
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1I cry out to the LORD ; I plead for the LORD ’s mercy.
2I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles.
3When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn. Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me.
4I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me.
5Then I pray to you, O LORD . I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.
6Hear my cry, for I am very low. Rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me.
7Bring me out of prison so I can thank you. The godly will crowd around me, for you are good to me.”
“Refusing to follow the leading of the Lord is not a good place and space to be in.” ~ Jon Barnes
Ignoring God’s conversations, readings, stories, and commandment will not absolve your ethical responsibility of having a relationship with your Heavenly Father.As a Christian, adjusting your actions and thinking will make you a better listener and follower of Christ.Your negative attitude towards God’s Will, adjustments, flexibility, and fundamental principles will not help you to grow in grace, mercy, and love. Your selfish thinking will consume you as well.
These spiritual conversations should happen in your closet of prayer and meditation with God about your own life, purpose, and direction of help you will give others. Ask God to teach you how to stay out of His Way during this process of help.Otherwise, you will be tearing down what God wants you to build.There is no room for your ego, pride, and title.The work speaks for itself.God’s Glory, miracles, presence, and commandments are at the center of our service to the Kingdom.We are not the center of attention.
Place your attention on God in the closet of your prayer time and He will show you how to adjust your behavior when running a church, school, job, and volunteer operations for Him.If you find yourself always fighting, arguing, hurting, offending, and misunderstanding people, perhaps you need to step down and let God teach you with someone else in your old position.Step down and allow God to give others a chance to serve, learn and grow.This is really a promotion. Your refusal to step down will destroy the pruning process of maturity in your life, which will prevent you from seeing and participating in the next level of fruit that should have come from your life and efforts before you die.
Are you paying attention to what God is saying to you or did you refuse and dismiss His Conversation to you?
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2 Kings 5
Naaman Healed of Leprosy
5 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lordhad given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.[a]
2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife.3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said.5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents[b] of silver, six thousand shekels[c] of gold and ten sets of clothing.6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”
7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”
8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.”9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house.10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!”14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”
16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.
17 “If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord.18 But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this.”
19 “Go in peace,” Elisha said.
After Naaman had traveled some distance,20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”
21 So Gehazi hurried after Naaman. When Naaman saw him running toward him, he got down from the chariot to meet him. “Is everything all right?” he asked.
22 “Everything is all right,” Gehazi answered. “My master sent me to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent[d] of silver and two sets of clothing.’”
23 “By all means, take two talents,” said Naaman. He urged Gehazi to accept them, and then tied up the two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing. He gave them to two of his servants, and they carried them ahead of Gehazi.24 When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house. He sent the men away and they left.
25 When he went in and stood before his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?”
“Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered.
26 But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves?27 Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow.
“I continue to live, learn, and love from the daily lessons, conversations, and solutions God shows me each day from each challenge and triumph.” ~ Jon Barnes
Learn what God is talking about each day by reading the bible and finishing one book at a time.The open talks and dialogs in the stories paint a clean, clear picture of how God loves, operates and teaches fundamental principles in life. Openly search and ask for answers as you study and the solutions will be given to you. You will notice your progress in your relationships with others.
God loves questions because it means you are thinking about your lifestyle and how to improve upon your wisdom in God. The honest question will get honest answers.Be prepared to follow the directions for the answers you receive. Begin to enjoy the insight given to you, as you believe God and the wisdom you receive, based on your faith and listening abilities. Hear with your eyes and see with your mouth, so that you talk less and observe more.
When you speak to people about God and truth, it is a great opportunity to share how God’s blessing is working in your life with contentment. Show how your faith has improved your life and the lives of others. Openly sharing your faith is a lot of fun and it makes for interesting conversation, so be kind, gentle, and open to sharing your faith.I enjoy seeing people practice what they preach with love and kindness.
Are you enjoying the love and challenges of faith and good works or are you not interested in God’s lessons?
Enjoy The Reading
1 Samuel 15
Saul Defeats the Amalekites
15 One day Samuel said to Saul, “It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord!2 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt.3 Now go and completely destroy[a] the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.”
4 So Saul mobilized his army at Telaim. There were 200,000 soldiers from Israel and 10,000 men from Judah.5 Then Saul and his army went to a town of the Amalekites and lay in wait in the valley.6 Saul sent this warning to the Kenites: “Move away from where the Amalekites live, or you will die with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up from Egypt.” So the Kenites packed up and left.
7 Then Saul slaughtered the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt.8 He captured Agag, the Amalekite king, but completely destroyed everyone else.9 Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality.
The Lord Rejects Saul
10 Then the Lord said to Samuel,11 “I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command.” Samuel was so deeply moved when he heard this that he cried out to the Lord all night.
12 Early the next morning Samuel went to find Saul. Someone told him, “Saul went to the town of Carmel to set up a monument to himself; then he went on to Gilgal.”
13 When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!”
14 “Then what is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded.
15 “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle,” Saul admitted. “But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else.”
16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! Listen to what the Lord told me last night!”
“What did he tell you?” Saul asked.
17 And Samuel told him, “Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord has anointed you king of Israel.18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and told you, ‘Go and completely destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, until they are all dead.’19 Why haven’t you obeyed the Lord? Why did you rush for the plunder and do what was evil in the Lord’s sight?”
20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul insisted. “I carried out the mission he gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else.21 Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”
22 But Samuel replied,
“What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. 23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”
Saul Pleads for Forgiveness
24 Then Saul admitted to Samuel, “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the Lord’s command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded.25 But now, please forgive my sin and come back with me so that I may worship the Lord.”
26 But Samuel replied, “I will not go back with you! Since you have rejected the Lord’s command, he has rejected you as king of Israel.”
27 As Samuel turned to go, Saul tried to hold him back and tore the hem of his robe.28 And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to someone else—one who is better than you.29 And he who is the Glory of Israel will not lie, nor will he change his mind, for he is not human that he should change his mind!”
30 Then Saul pleaded again, “I know I have sinned. But please, at least honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel by coming back with me so that I may worship the Lordyour God.”31 So Samuel finally agreed and went back with him, and Saul worshiped the Lord.
Samuel Executes King Agag
32 Then Samuel said, “Bring King Agag to me.” Agag arrived full of hope, for he thought, “Surely the worst is over, and I have been spared!”[b]33 But Samuel said, “As your sword has killed the sons of many mothers, now your mother will be childless.” And Samuel cut Agag to pieces before the Lord at Gilgal.
34 Then Samuel went home to Ramah, and Saul returned to his house at Gibeah of Saul.35 Samuel never went to meet with Saul again, but he mourned constantly for him. And the Lord was sorry he had ever made Saul king of Israel.
“Simple math is, we love God first because He made and loved us first and we should follow His Lead on Life.” ~ Jon Barnes
Why should you love God? Well, you will have a long conversation with Him soon and you will want to be in the right standing, as you approach the pearly gates. The same bad notes that you play on your heart stringed instrument will be the same bad notes you’ll try to play before God. So find some time to practice getting your love songs right.
Why not play the music correctly, the way God has instructed? We keep putting our music lessons with God off on the back burner, in hopes of getting around to it before we die. Are we learning from our mistakes or are we trapped inside our denial, delusion, or a self-made disaster? Step back, look at yourself, and go to God for your music lessons, before it is too late.
Praying is like practicing your music for God and letting Him know how much you love Him with notes. Since words carry vibrations of music to God with praise and thanksgiving, the music carries the same thought of praise, worship, and thanksgiving from the strings of your heart and vibrations of the mind. Do the music and the math to let God teach you.
Since you know the truth, why don’t you do the right things and practice your instrument with God?
Enjoy The Reading
Instructions for the Priests
21 The Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the priests, the descendants of Aaron.
“A priest must not make himself ceremonially unclean by touching the dead body of a relative.2 The only exceptions are his closest relatives—his mother or father, son or daughter, brother,3 or his virgin sister who depends on him because she has no husband.4 But a priest must not defile himself and make himself unclean for someone who is related to him only by marriage.
5 “The priests must not shave their heads or trim their beards or cut their bodies.6 They must be set apart as holy to their God and must never bring shame on the name of God. They must be holy, for they are the ones who present the special gifts to the Lord, gifts of food for their God.
7 “Priests may not marry a woman defiled by prostitution, and they may not marry a woman who is divorced from her husband, for the priests are set apart as holy to their God.8 You must treat them as holy because they offer up food to your God. You must consider them holy because I, the Lord, am holy, and I make you holy.
9 “If a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she also defiles her father’s holiness, and she must be burned to death.
10 “The high priest has the highest rank of all the priests. The anointing oil has been poured on his head, and he has been ordained to wear the priestly garments. He must never leave his hair uncombed[a] or tear his clothing.11 He must not defile himself by going near a dead body. He may not make himself ceremonially unclean even for his father or mother.12 He must not defile the sanctuary of his God by leaving it to attend to a dead person, for he has been made holy by the anointing oil of his God. I am the Lord.
13 “The high priest may marry only a virgin.14 He may not marry a widow, a woman who is divorced, or a woman who has defiled herself by prostitution. She must be a virgin from his own clan,15 so that he will not dishonor his descendants among his clan, for I am the Lord who makes him holy.”
16 Then the Lord said to Moses,17 “Give the following instructions to Aaron: In all future generations, none of your descendants who has any defect will qualify to offer food to his God.18 No one who has a defect qualifies, whether he is blind, lame, disfigured, deformed,19 or has a broken foot or arm,20 or is hunchbacked or dwarfed, or has a defective eye, or skin sores or scabs, or damaged testicles.21 No descendant of Aaron who has a defect may approach the altar to present special gifts to the Lord. Since he has a defect, he may not approach the altar to offer food to his God.22 However, he may eat from the food offered to God, including the holy offerings and the most holy offerings.23 Yet because of his physical defect, he may not enter the room behind the inner curtain or approach the altar, for this would defile my holy places. I am the Lord who makes them holy.”
24 So Moses gave these instructions to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites.