Homegrown

Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Understand that most of our challenges are homegrown, so go to God for Him to recalibrate your harvest.”

TB

Homemade

The flesh is fickle, as such, if we follow it with every whim, chaos will ensue. That’s not to say that setbacks aren’t real. That said, who we’re in relationship with, how we spend our time, what deeds we partake in, they are the sum total of our harvest. So, if your harvest is rotten, it’s time to go to the Almighty Gardener.

Heaven-made

When we check-in with God, get to know Him and learn to live by Christ’s teachings, we will see our harvest change. It’s not that He’s all of a sudden making things easier. No, it’s because we develop the discipline to leave behind corruptive behaviors while learning to love the goodness of God. So friends, let’s turn away from our flesh and turn to Him.

Today’s Question

How’s your harvest?

Enjoy the reading

Micah 7

1 How miserable I am! I feel like the fruit picker after the harvest who can find nothing to eat. Not a cluster of grapes or a single early fig can be found to satisfy my hunger. 2 The godly people have all disappeared; not one honest person is left on the earth. They are all murderers, setting traps even for their own brothers. 3 Both their hands are equally skilled at doing evil! Officials and judges alike demand bribes. The people with influence get what they want, and together they scheme to twist justice. 4 Even the best of them is like a brier; the most honest is as dangerous as a hedge of thorns. But your judgment day is coming swiftly now. Your time of punishment is here, a time of confusion. 5 Don’t trust anyone— not your best friend or even your wife! 6 For the son despises his father. The daughter defies her mother. The daughter-in-law defies her mother-in-law. Your enemies are right in your own household! 7 As for me, I look to the LORD for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me. 8 Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. 9 I will be patient as the LORD punishes me, for I have sinned against him. But after that, he will take up my case and give me justice for all I have suffered from my enemies. The LORD will bring me into the light, and I will see his righteousness. 10 Then my enemies will see that the LORD is on my side. They will be ashamed that they taunted me, saying, “So where is the LORD — that God of yours?” With my own eyes I will see their downfall; they will be trampled like mud in the streets. 11 In that day, Israel, your cities will be rebuilt, and your borders will be extended. 12 People from many lands will come and honor you— from Assyria all the way to the towns of Egypt, from Egypt all the way to the Euphrates River, and from distant seas and mountains. 13 But the land will become empty and desolate because of the wickedness of those who live there. 14 O LORD, protect your people with your shepherd’s staff; lead your flock, your special possession. Though they live alone in a thicket on the heights of Mount Carmel, let them graze in the fertile pastures of Bashan and Gilead as they did long ago. 15 “Yes,” says the LORD, “I will do mighty miracles for you, like those I did when I rescued you from slavery in Egypt.” 16 All the nations of the world will stand amazed at what the LORD will do for you. They will be embarrassed at their feeble power. They will cover their mouths in silent awe, deaf to everything around them. 17 Like snakes crawling from their holes, they will come out to meet the LORD our God. They will fear him greatly, trembling in terror at his presence. 18 Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. 19 Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! 20 You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago. 

Applied Knowledge

Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Apply the knowledge you learn from Christ’s teachings so that your deeds produce righteous fruit.”

TB

Use It

When you spend time with your Father in Heaven, learning and meditating on the Living Word, the learnings and knowledge you gain are to be put to use. By knowing the Truth, you learn how to navigate a fallen world, encourage your brothers and sisters, escape the clutches of those that seek to do evil deeds, and a variety of other beneficial behaviors. That’s because God’s teachings are meant to be applied to each of our lives. When we fail to do the deeds after learning the truth, we become complacent and susceptible to falling into dishonest behaviors.

Lose It

If you know studied for your exam but decided to miss the test altogether, you’re more foolish than the person who didn’t study but showed up! What good is it to know scripture but never actually use or live by it? Why memorize and recite Biblical passages only to then behave in a hedonistic manner. God doesn’t care about the one who is legal to the letter but is nowhere to be found, He cares about the one who shows up. So instead of filling our egos with the perception of being good, let us do good by applying the knowledge that God so graciously gives us, as applied knowledge transforms into wisdom.

Today’s Question

Are you foolish enough to believe that you are wise, or are you wise enough to know that without God we perish?

Enjoy the reading

Ezekiel 37

1 The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones. 2 He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. 3 Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?” “O Sovereign LORD,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.” 4 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the LORD ! 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! 6 I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD .’” 7 So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. 8 Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’” 10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army. 11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12 Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the LORD . 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the LORD has spoken!’” 15 Again a message came to me from the LORD : 16 “Son of man, take a piece of wood and carve on it these words: ‘This represents Judah and its allied tribes.’ Then take another piece and carve these words on it: ‘This represents Ephraim and the northern tribes of Israel.’ 17 Now hold them together in your hand as if they were one piece of wood. 18 When your people ask you what your actions mean, 19 say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take Ephraim and the northern tribes and join them to Judah. I will make them one piece of wood in my hand.’ 20 “Then hold out the pieces of wood you have inscribed, so the people can see them. 21 And give them this message from the Sovereign LORD : I will gather the people of Israel from among the nations. I will bring them home to their own land from the places where they have been scattered. 22 I will unify them into one nation on the mountains of Israel. One king will rule them all; no longer will they be divided into two nations or into two kingdoms. 23 They will never again pollute themselves with their idols and vile images and rebellion, for I will save them from their sinful apostasy. I will cleanse them. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. 24 “My servant David will be their king, and they will have only one shepherd. They will obey my regulations and be careful to keep my decrees. 25 They will live in the land I gave my servant Jacob, the land where their ancestors lived. They and their children and their grandchildren after them will live there forever, generation after generation. And my servant David will be their prince forever. 26 And I will make a covenant of peace with them, an everlasting covenant. I will give them their land and increase their numbers, and I will put my Temple among them forever. 27 I will make my home among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 And when my Temple is among them forever, the nations will know that I am the LORD, who makes Israel holy.”

Sharp

Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Keep wise people around you because their hard-earned wisdom will serve you well.”

TB

Sharpened Iron

I chat with my dad often. Most of the time, it’s because he’s got a lot of cool information that I’ve been able to use both in my life and my business. While I may take some time to wrap my Texas-sized ego around his wise words, more often than not, after a moment or two (and quite possibly a nap) I concede that his answers are far better than my own. Every now and again, I manage to squeak out a wise word from my own experiences, but usually I’m the student, benefitting from 55 years of living. Listening to wise biblically based counsel is very important, as it helps you gain discernment that will see you through this life.

Sharp Eyes

When you have daily conversations with God and godly people, your spiritual eyesight is sharp, able to cut through the superficial nonsense of this world. Because you set your sights on above, God Himself act as your guide to navigate the waters of a sin-fallen world. Even better, if He has given you a wise elder within your family, peer group, or what have you, you have the added benefit from learning through their experiences, mistakes, triumphs, and the like. As this world gets more flesh-driven, there are fake things that pretend to be good. If you’re not looking too closely, you will fall prey to the imitations set out to devour you. It’s easy to say that evil is deceptive and that we lack insight into the motives of others and the opposition. But, with sharp eyes, a Christ-centered mind, and wise counsel, you can persevere and sidestep the tomfoolery.

Today’s Question

Are you staying sharp by knowing God and His people, or are the fake treasures of evil blinding your sight?

Enjoy the reading

Jeremiah 42

1 Then all the guerrilla leaders, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people, from the least to the greatest, approached 2 Jeremiah the prophet. They said, “Please pray to the LORD your God for us. As you can see, we are only a tiny remnant compared to what we were before. 3 Pray that the LORD your God will show us what to do and where to go.” 4 “All right,” Jeremiah replied. “I will pray to the LORD your God, as you have asked, and I will tell you everything he says. I will hide nothing from you.” 5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the LORD your God be a faithful witness against us if we refuse to obey whatever he tells us to do! 6 Whether we like it or not, we will obey the LORD our God to whom we are sending you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.” 7 Ten days later the LORD gave his reply to Jeremiah. 8 So he called for Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders, and for all the people, from the least to the greatest. 9 He said to them, “You sent me to the LORD, the God of Israel, with your request, and this is his reply: 10 ‘Stay here in this land. If you do, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you. For I am sorry about all the punishment I have had to bring upon you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon anymore,’ says the LORD . ‘For I am with you and will save you and rescue you from his power. 12 I will be merciful to you by making him kind, so he will let you stay here in your land.’ 13 “But if you refuse to obey the LORD your God, and if you say, ‘We will not stay here; 14 instead, we will go to Egypt where we will be free from war, the call to arms, and hunger,’ 15 then hear the LORD ’s message to the remnant of Judah. This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and live there, 16 the very war and famine you fear will catch up to you, and you will die there. 17 That is the fate awaiting every one of you who insists on going to live in Egypt. Yes, you will die from war, famine, and disease. None of you will escape the disaster I will bring upon you there.’ 18 “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Just as my anger and fury have been poured out on the people of Jerusalem, so they will be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. You will be an object of damnation, horror, cursing, and mockery. And you will never see your homeland again.’ 19 “Listen, you remnant of Judah. The LORD has told you: ‘Do not go to Egypt!’ Don’t forget this warning I have given you today. 20 For you were not being honest when you sent me to pray to the LORD your God for you. You said, ‘Just tell us what the LORD our God says, and we will do it!’ 21 And today I have told you exactly what he said, but you will not obey the LORD your God any better now than you have in the past. 22 So you can be sure that you will die from war, famine, and disease in Egypt, where you insist on going.”

Pleasant

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Hi Peeps,
Today’s Quote
“The truth is pleasant when you hear and do the honest work of faith, because everyone can see it, hear it, and enjoy the clean, fresh look of progress and the steps God gives you to cross the finish line.”  ~  Jon Barnes

Capable

We are all capable of doing great things with the talent and skillsets that we have. Be the first to see a problem, providing a personal solution, before someone asks you for help. Don’t be a stumbling block for someone else by being mean. Give solutions and allow people to fix their own problems and copy good behavior.

Level

You don’t need to copyright or patent everything in your life, as if you are trying to gain all of the gold in the world.  Your level of greed will consume you and prevent you from achieving the real path of justice and truth in God. Don’t burn the bridge so that no one else can cross it after you. Be happy at each level you find yourself stepping into with God to bridge the gap.

Silly

It is silly to think that your steps are random, but they are ordered by God since you are His child. Keep walking the right path. Take every opportunity to learn from your mistakes by correcting them to move to the next level of love.  Clean up your own workspace and stop waiting for others to do the job for you.
Today’s Question
Did you notice how people will become inspired to clean up as you clean up all around you and if they don’t, are you praying for them?

 

John 17 

The Prayer of Jesus

17 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.
6 “I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.
9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. 10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. 12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.
13 “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. 26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”

Open

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Hi Peeps,
Today’s Quote
 
“Open up the good new possibilities and opportunities that you are supposed to do and achieve in life by taking each step of faith and work that goes along with God’s loving plan for your life and family.”  ~ Jon Barnes

Amazing

It amazes me to think and reflect on how much time I have spent with my wife, children, and family.  It is an honor and privilege to model, teach and share the fascinating facts of all the things I am learning about God. This once in a lifetime experience is unique, incredible and extremely personal for me.  It would take an eternity to begin to unravel and understand more about the mind of God and His infinite love, as a Creator and Father of All.

Knowledgeable 

When you take the time needed to be with your spouse, raise your children, and balance your life, God gives you an understanding, knowledge, and experience in what it’s like to create, provide, and sustain life.  The life lessons are not always comfortable, but necessary.  By studying His examples and stories from the Bible, we have an open book of commandments to follow, problems to avoid, and lessons to learn, in order to do a fantastic job.

Cooperative

When we cooperate with God, our efforts will produce the proper outcome, response, and results from the fruits of our labor.  I don’t understand why there are so many men who will not take care of their own children. This is an epidemic, societal decease, and curse!! Like “DOGS”, they hit and run!  Real men need to train, explain, and model for their boys and girls about this unacceptable, nasty behavior.  I find it challenging to take care of just one family, based on my experience and time management.
Today’s Question
Are you paying attention to the fruits of your labor, choices, and decisions or did you leave your family, responsibilities, spouse, and children behind, like an evil dog, for the lust of your own flesh?
Enjoy The Reading

John 7 

Jesus and His Brothers

7 After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. 2 But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, 3 and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! 4 You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” 5 For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.
6 Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime. 7 The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil. 8 You go on. I’m not going to this festival, because my time has not yet come.” 9 After saying these things, Jesus remained in Galilee.

Jesus Teaches Openly at the Temple

10 But after his brothers left for the festival, Jesus also went, though secretly, staying out of public view. 11 The Jewish leaders tried to find him at the festival and kept asking if anyone had seen him. 12 There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, “He’s a good man,” but others said, “He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.” 13 But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.
14 Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. 15 The people were surprised when they heard him. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?” they asked.
16 So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. 17 Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. 18 Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies. 19 Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me.”
20 The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you?”
21 Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed. 22 But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision. (Actually, this tradition of circumcision began with the patriarchs, long before the law of Moses.) 23 For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? 24 Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”

Is Jesus the Messiah?

25 Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah? 27 But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.”
28 While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I’m not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. 29 But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you.” 30 Then the leaders tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.
31 Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. “After all,” they said, “would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this man has done?”
32 When the Pharisees heard that the crowds were whispering such things, they and the leading priests sent Temple guards to arrest Jesus. 33 But Jesus told them, “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me. 34 You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going.”
35 The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. “Where is he planning to go?” they asked. “Is he thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands? Maybe he will even teach the Greeks! 36 What does he mean when he says, ‘You will search for me but not find me,’ and ‘You cannot go where I am going’?”

Jesus Promises Living Water

37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 39 (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)

Division and Unbelief

40 When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” 43 So the crowd was divided about him. 44 Some even wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him.
45 When the Temple guards returned without having arrested Jesus, the leading priests and Pharisees demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”
46 “We have never heard anyone speak like this!” the guards responded.
47 “Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked. 48 “Is there a single one of us rulers or Pharisees who believes in him? 49 This foolish crowd follows him, but they are ignorant of the law. God’s curse is on them!”
50 Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. 51 “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked.
52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself—no prophet ever comes from Galilee!”

Take the Picture

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Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Each day has its own highs and lows so you might as well enjoy the ride.”~TB

Landlocked

I’ve been in the same place/space for over 3 months, which is about the longest time I’ve been in one spot since September 2018 when I made the wild/impromptu plan to travel the US. It was a wacky year of sorts filled with interesting people, places, and adventures. There were amazing wins and amazing losses but through it, all God never left me and I came out unharmed! I took a bunch of pictures to document my travels (which I used a couple for this post) and as I look back at them– recalling different events at various places– the only thing I’d change would be to worry less and take more pictures.

Moments in Time

Compared to eternity, life is ridiculously short. Unfortunately, many of us are so worried/focused on one thing or another, we fail to enjoy the life that God gave us. The good news is that God promises peace and not perfection, so if you’re willing to walk in faith, you can experience it. Looking back at these photos, I laugh, because if I had known what I do now, I would’ve chilled out quite a bit. But, that’s how life works, we have to make the best of what we have, practice Christ-like behaviors to one another, and enjoy the moments in time that are afforded to us. I don’t 100% know what tomorrow brings, but I do know that if we trust in God’s peace rather than our own we can learn to take the picture today instead of lamenting about tomorrow

Today’s Question

Are you experiencing God’s peace today or your anxiety about tomorrow?

Enjoy the reading

Isaiah 66

1 This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that? Could you build me such a resting place? 
2 My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the LORD, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word. 
3 But those who choose their own ways— delighting in their detestable sins— will not have their offerings accepted. When such people sacrifice a bull, it is no more acceptable than a human sacrifice. When they sacrifice a lamb, it’s as though they had sacrificed a dog! When they bring an offering of grain, they might as well offer the blood of a pig. When they burn frankincense, it’s as if they had blessed an idol. 
4 I will send them great trouble— all the things they feared. For when I called, they did not answer. When I spoke, they did not listen. They deliberately sinned before my very eyes and chose to do what they know I despise.” 
5 Hear this message from the LORD, all you who tremble at his words: “Your own people hate you and throw you out for being loyal to my name. ‘Let the LORD be honored!’ they scoff. ‘Be joyful in him!’ But they will be put to shame. 
6 What is all the commotion in the city? What is that terrible noise from the Temple? It is the voice of the LORD taking vengeance against his enemies. 
7 “Before the birth pains even begin, Jerusalem gives birth to a son. 
8 Who has ever seen anything as strange as this? Who ever heard of such a thing? Has a nation ever been born in a single day? Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment? But by the time Jerusalem’s birth pains begin, her children will be born. 
9 Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth and then not deliver it?” asks the LORD . “No! I would never keep this nation from being born,” says your God. 
10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem! Be glad with her, all you who love her and all you who mourn for her. 
11 Drink deeply of her glory even as an infant drinks at its mother’s comforting breasts.” 
12 This is what the LORD says: “I will give Jerusalem a river of peace and prosperity. The wealth of the nations will flow to her. Her children will be nursed at her breasts, carried in her arms, and held on her lap. 
13 I will comfort you there in Jerusalem as a mother comforts her child.” 
14 When you see these things, your heart will rejoice. You will flourish like the grass! Everyone will see the LORD ’s hand of blessing on his servants— and his anger against his enemies. 
15 See, the LORD is coming with fire, and his swift chariots roar like a whirlwind. He will bring punishment with the fury of his anger and the flaming fire of his hot rebuke. 
16 The LORD will punish the world by fire and by his sword. He will judge the earth, and many will be killed by him. 
17 “Those who ‘consecrate’ and ‘purify’ themselves in a sacred garden with its idol in the center—feasting on pork and rats and other detestable meats—will come to a terrible end,” says the LORD . 
18 “I can see what they are doing, and I know what they are thinking. So I will gather all nations and peoples together, and they will see my glory. 
19 I will perform a sign among them. And I will send those who survive to be messengers to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (who are famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to all the lands beyond the sea that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. There they will declare my glory to the nations. 
20 They will bring the remnant of your people back from every nation. They will bring them to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD . They will ride on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the LORD . 
21 “And I will appoint some of them to be my priests and Levites. I, the LORD, have spoken! 
22 “As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain, so will you always be my people, with a name that will never disappear,” says the LORD . 
23 “All humanity will come to worship me from week to week and from month to month. 
24 And as they go out, they will see the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me. For the worms that devour them will never die, and the fire that burns them will never go out. All who pass by will view them with utter horror.”

 

The Real ‘F’ Word

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Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Only you can give up your peace; but you must cultivate your faith to believe it.”~TB

Faith Talk

Faith is total trust and confidence in God. It’s a verb in that you must act on it every second of every day. Though we can’t open a door and say “Here is God!”, we know that He exists and is the creator of all. It’s easy to say we have faith. After all, it sounds pretty and whimsical. But there is a fundamental difference between talking faith and walking in faith. And, we are tested on this day in and day out. The devil can rattle your cage, but ultimately you must decided whether or not to  lose your peace about it.

Faith Walk

Walking in faith means that even though you are not in control of your situation, you are at total peace because you know who is. It means to sit still and let God handle the heavy lifting in your life. It also means to not allow your upstairs neighbor who likes to crank her bass up loud all day long after you’ve talked to her twice about it get under your skin. When you experience a tough time, remember that God is sovereign and there is nothing out of His control. So don’t merely talk about faith, walk in it so that you can experience the Hand of God in your life.

Today’s Question

Are you using the real ‘F’ word?

Enjoy the Reading

Isaiah 43

1 But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.
2When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
3 For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
4 Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.
5 “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will gather you and your children from east and west.
6 I will say to the north and south, ‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel from the distant corners of the earth.
7 Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’”
8 Bring out the people who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf.
9 Gather the nations together! Assemble the peoples of the world! Which of their idols has ever foretold such things? Which can predict what will happen tomorrow? Where are the witnesses of such predictions? Who can verify that they spoke the truth?
10 “But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the LORD . “You are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God— there never has been, and there never will be.
11 I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no other Savior.
12 First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,” says the LORD .
13 “From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.”
14 This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “For your sakes I will send an army against Babylon, forcing the Babylonians to flee in those ships they are so proud of.
15 I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator and King.
16 I am the LORD, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea.
17 I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.
18 “But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
20 The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.
21 I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.
22 “But, dear family of Jacob, you refuse to ask for my help. You have grown tired of me, O Israel!
23 You have not brought me sheep or goats for burnt offerings. You have not honored me with sacrifices, though I have not burdened and wearied you with requests for grain offerings and frankincense.
24 You have not brought me fragrant calamus or pleased me with the fat from sacrifices. Instead, you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your faults.
25 “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.
26 Let us review the situation together, and you can present your case to prove your innocence.
27 From the very beginning, your first ancestor sinned against me; all your leaders broke my laws.
28 That is why I have disgraced your priests; I have decreed complete destruction for Jacob and shame for Israel.

Proven

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Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“God allows us to go through tough experiences to share with others.”~TB

Babes

Last week, I came across an article written by a fellow freelance writer. She had a catchy title, so curiously, I clicked. The first sentence began, “After 3 weeks of freelancing, I’ve come to learn… and I’m here to teach you…”

Three.Weeks. I was incredulous. How someone can believe they have the authority, understanding, or mastery of anything let alone running a freelance business is beyond me. It reminded me of the passage in 1 Timothy about why new believers shouldn’t be leaders and how the Devil would cause them to fall. It made me chuckle as I remembered a conversation I had with my father some years ago.

Faith Without Deeds

A few years back, God downloaded the Truth into my brain and I arrogantly shared with my Dad the “secret” to Christianity and following God. My father— who is ever patient and long-suffering with me— nodded and listened carefully to my “all knowing theories and agreed that what I said had made Biblical sense. He was kind enough to let life’s teachable moments fill in the gaps of my arrogant ways. The thing is, it’s easy to understand God’s truth, at least the “mechanics” of it. But, to hold onto that truth while you are tested, while you endure hardship, while you suffer persecution, now that’s a whole other animal. See, I knew the Truth, but had no experience applying it. As fate would have it, not too long after our conversation, I went through some of the toughest years of my life.

The Process

I was broken down, pruned, fired in the kiln, spiritually crushed, and eventually put back together. In that time I had to make a choice: either press on or give up God altogether. For me, though at times I wanted to quit, I knew too much and I couldn’t go back to my old selfish ways. At the time, I didn’t understand why I went through such an oppressive period, but a random conversation with a woman in Tennessee made me understand why God’s children have to go through a foundation building process.

Experience

I talked about this a month or so ago, but while I was traveling, I stayed at an Airbnb in Tennessee with a hospitable lady. She had a free spirit “all gods are the same” type of mentality, which I didn’t push back on. At the time I was travel-worn and just wanted to catch my breath. What was interesting was that she kept asking me what I believed and why. And as I mentioned earlier, I was in no mood to have that conversation, but I could feel God prodding me to answer this woman, and so I did. At the time, I was more concerned with sharing about God’s Truth and not necessarily my subject matter expertise. To be honest, I didn’t know why me of all people would be the one share Biblical information. I certainly didn’t feel (And still don’t) qualified to know or share anything after the crazy past few years. However, after reading that freelance writer’s blog, remembering the conversation with my dad, and recalling the conversation in Tennessee, I finally got my answer why. Experience. It’s easy to know the Truth untested, but to believe it after a hard life exam, you’ve gotten some subject matter experience under your belt.

We

No, I’m not some wise person who has unique God-given experiences (at least I don’t think, I do have grey hair, however). I believe that those who have been through the refiner’s fire have something to share with those who are in the process. We can encourage those going through tough times because we’ve had to endure struggles of our own and have lived to tell the tale. The woman in Tennessee was asking some legitimate theological questions and had I not gone through such a crappy few years having to rely solely on God, I would not have been able to give meaningful answers. I say all of this to say that if you have gone through the process, have gone through the fire, and can still choose God above yourself, you too have answers to share with those seeking Him. It’s a team effort.

Today’s Question

What’s your experience to share?

Enjoy the reading

Isaiah 29

1 “What sorrow awaits Ariel, the City of David. Year after year you celebrate your feasts.
2 Yet I will bring disaster upon you, and there will be much weeping and sorrow. For Jerusalem will become what her name Ariel means— an altar covered with blood.
3 I will be your enemy, surrounding Jerusalem and attacking its walls. I will build siege towers and destroy it.
4 Then deep from the earth you will speak; from low in the dust your words will come. Your voice will whisper from the ground like a ghost conjured up from the grave.
5 “But suddenly, your ruthless enemies will be crushed like the finest of dust. Your many attackers will be driven away like chaff before the wind. Suddenly, in an instant,
6 I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, will act for you with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with whirlwind and storm and consuming fire.
7 All the nations fighting against Jerusalem will vanish like a dream! Those who are attacking her walls will vanish like a vision in the night.
8 A hungry person dreams of eating but wakes up still hungry. A thirsty person dreams of drinking but is still faint from thirst when morning comes. So it will be with your enemies, with those who attack Mount Zion.”
9Are you amazed and incredulous? Don’t you believe it? Then go ahead and be blind. You are stupid, but not from wine! You stagger, but not from liquor!
10 For the LORD has poured out on you a spirit of deep sleep. He has closed the eyes of your prophets and visionaries.
11 All the future events in this vision are like a sealed book to them. When you give it to those who can read, they will say, “We can’t read it because it is sealed.”
12 When you give it to those who cannot read, they will say, “We don’t know how to read.”
13 And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.
14 Because of this, I will once again astound these hypocrites with amazing wonders. The wisdom of the wise will pass away, and the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear.”
15 What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their evil deeds in the dark! “The LORD can’t see us,” they say. “He doesn’t know what’s going on!”
16 How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid”?
17 Soon—and it will not be very long— the forests of Lebanon will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops.
18 In that day the deaf will hear words read from a book, and the blind will see through the gloom and darkness.
19 The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the LORD . The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
20 The scoffer will be gone, the arrogant will disappear, and those who plot evil will be killed.
21 Those who convict the innocent by their false testimony will disappear. A similar fate awaits those who use trickery to pervert justice and who tell lies to destroy the innocent.
22 That is why the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, says to the people of Israel, “My people will no longer be ashamed or turn pale with fear.
23 For when they see their many children and all the blessings I have given them, they will recognize the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob. They will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24 Then the wayward will gain understanding, and complainers will accept instruction

Relative

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Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“If  God thinks we’re all that and a bag of chips, then the opinions that we hold of each other don’t really matter.”~TB

Dumb Judgment

A few years ago, I was helping my dad out by teaching his elementary school kids music a few kids at a time. This way, each kid could get some individualized attention on how to improve and whatnot. There was one kid who wasn’t quite getting it though I believed I was providing the best instruction possible. In my head, I figured he just couldn’t get it and wrote him off (I still worked with him, but I didn’t have high hopes). A few minutes later, my dad comes in checking out our progress. He goes through the kids that got it and stops to listen to the trumpet kid. My dad broke down the music and showed the kid how to play in a way that he understood. Moments later, the kid sounded like he knew what he was doing after all! Surprised, I immediately felt terrible for failing to see the potential that my dad saw. I’m grateful that teacher’s like my dad exist, because they see the value in every student, not just the ones they understand. More to the point, that experience showed me how dismissive we can be when we don’t see the value in each other. I’ll give you another example.

It’s Relative

Last year, I decided to work with a startup in the financial services industry. The pay was significantly lower than my general fee, but since there was a lot of work to be done, I took it (On a side note, never work for less than you’re worth, if you can and never work with cheap people, it will not end well). Admittedly, I didn’t put my best foot forward, but the work was still good by any standard. The content manager quickly came back and told me my grammar was terrible and my rate didn’t justify the quality of work (I had negotiated a slightly higher rate). We parted ways and I was relieved because I knew the deal was crap. Funnily enough, I signed a contract with Stanford University a mere few days later. Ironic, right? I share these stories to say that man’s standards and evaluations of one another are utter crap. Basically, this stuff is all relative. Some may sing your praises while others won’t think you’re worth more than a hill of beans. But God, however has the ultimate judgment and He values you more than another other creation. Think about that.

True Value

Maybe someone in your life made you feel like you weren’t worth much. Well, they’re wrong. No matter what state you’re in God loves you more than anything else in this world. So what if that person at work can’t see it? So what if the person you admire doesn’t value what you bring to the table? Your value, your worth does not come from man, so let people have their opinions and keep it moving. Plus if someone cannot see how wonderfully God made you, then clearly they are not meant to be in your life, and that’s totally ok. Society will tell you to adjust yourself to the standards of others. That mentality is utter crap because it produces fake people living a fake lifestyle. If you have to change your personality, clothes, or whatever to be likable or authentic, trust me friends, you are neither. So the next time you’re feeling low because of the flawed evaluations of your peers, pick up the Word and read all of the amazing things God has done through His people to give us the ultimate gift. You won’t be able to help but feel amazing.

Today’s Question

Do you base your worth in relation to man or in relation to your Creator?

Enjoy the reading

Isaiah 22

1 This message came to me concerning Jerusalem—the Valley of Vision : What is happening? Why is everyone running to the rooftops?
2 The whole city is in a terrible uproar. What do I see in this reveling city? Bodies are lying everywhere, killed not in battle but by famine and disease.
3 All your leaders have fled. They surrendered without resistance. The people tried to slip away, but they were captured, too.
4 That’s why I said, “Leave me alone to weep; do not try to comfort me. Let me cry for my people as I watch them being destroyed.”
5 Oh, what a day of crushing defeat! What a day of confusion and terror brought by the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, upon the Valley of Vision! The walls of Jerusalem have been broken, and cries of death echo from the mountainsides.
6 Elamites are the archers, with their chariots and charioteers. The men of Kir hold up the shields.
7 Chariots fill your beautiful valleys, and charioteers storm your gates.
8Judah’s defenses have been stripped away. You run to the armory for your weapons.
9You inspect the breaks in the walls of Jerusalem. You store up water in the lower pool.
10 You survey the houses and tear some down for stone to strengthen the walls.
11 Between the city walls, you build a reservoir for water from the old pool. But you never ask for help from the One who did all this. You never considered the One who planned this long ago.
12 At that time the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, called you to weep and mourn. He told you to shave your heads in sorrow for your sins and to wear clothes of burlap to show your remorse.
13But instead, you dance and play; you slaughter cattle and kill sheep. You feast on meat and drink wine. You say, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!”
14 The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has revealed this to me: “Till the day you die, you will never be forgiven for this sin.” That is the judgment of the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
15 This is what the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, said to me: “Confront Shebna, the palace administrator, and give him this message:
16 “Who do you think you are, and what are you doing here, building a beautiful tomb for yourself— a monument high up in the rock?
17 For the LORD is about to hurl you away, mighty man. He is going to grab you,
18 crumple you into a ball, and toss you away into a distant, barren land. There you will die, and your glorious chariots will be broken and useless. You are a disgrace to your master!
19 “Yes, I will drive you out of office,” says the LORD . “I will pull you down from your high position.
20 And then I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah to replace you.
21 I will dress him in your royal robes and will give him your title and your authority. And he will be a father to the people of Jerusalem and Judah.
22 I will give him the key to the house of David—the highest position in the royal court. When he opens doors, no one will be able to close them; when he closes doors, no one will be able to open them.
23 He will bring honor to his family name, for I will drive him firmly in place like a nail in the wall.
24 They will give him great responsibility, and he will bring honor to even the lowliest members of his family. ”
25 But the LORD of Heaven’s Armies also says: “The time will come when I will pull out the nail that seemed so firm. It will come out and fall to the ground. Everything it supports will fall with it. I, the LORD, have spoken!”

Process

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Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Don’t create a massive process to process forgiveness, love, and acceptance.”~TB

Quickly

When you regularly walk with God, you will notice how quickly He is to forgive us when we screw up. He doesn’t read a list of past offenses, He simply acknowledges your repentance and moves on. We know this, yet we still hold the offenses of our peers to a higher standard. How arrogant and how foolish! God doesn’t beat us up because He knows that in order for you to grow, you must be given the space and grace to do so. When you look at a person, in the same way, failing to acknowledge their growth or change, well, that says more about you than the other person.

Move On

I admit, there are times where I get annoyed with my dad when he advises me to move on from offenses. In my frustration, I’d rather wallow in my “rightness” rather than extend the same space and grace that God gives me on a daily basis. I humbly laugh at my misguided nature and continually ask God to improve my resilience in that area. I’ve come to realize that my dad is not trying to diminish/erase my experience, but rather, he’s encouraging me to love people as God loves me. I share this with you to say, whatever the offense, whatever the reason, right or wrong, move on. God gives credit where credit is due, and we all reap what we sow, good or bad. So let God do the judging.

Today’s Question

Are you letting a convoluted process hinder your walk with Christ?

Enjoy the reading

Proverbs 21

1 The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD ; he guides it wherever he pleases. 
2 People may be right in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their heart. 
3 The LORD is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices. 
4 Haughty eyes, a proud heart, and evil actions are all sin. 
5 Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty. 
6 Wealth created by a lying tongue is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap. 
7 The violence of the wicked sweeps them away, because they refuse to do what is just. 
8 The guilty walk a crooked path; the innocent travel a straight road. 
9 It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home. 
10 Evil people desire evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them. 
11 If you punish a mocker, the simpleminded become wise; if you instruct the wise, they will be all the wiser. 
12 The Righteous One knows what is going on in the homes of the wicked; he will bring disaster on them. 
13 Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need. 
14 A secret gift calms anger; a bribe under the table pacifies fury. 
15 Justice is a joy to the godly, but it terrifies evildoers. 
16 The person who strays from common sense will end up in the company of the dead. 
17 Those who love pleasure become poor; those who love wine and luxury will never be rich.
18 The wicked are punished in place of the godly, and traitors in place of the honest. 
19 It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife. 
20 The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get. 
21 Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor. 
22 The wise conquer the city of the strong and level the fortress in which they trust. 
23 Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble. 
24Mockers are proud and haughty; they act with boundless arrogance. 
25Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work. 
26 Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give! 
27 The sacrifice of an evil person is detestable, especially when it is offered with wrong motives. 
28 A false witness will be cut off, but a credible witness will be allowed to speak. 
29 The wicked bluff their way through, but the virtuous think before they act. 
30 No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand against the LORD . 
31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD .