“Wisdom from Christ comes from application and time.”
Today I helped my dad stain his fence. We were using an experimental method of which he was casually staining the fence. And by casual, I mean it was less than perfect. When I asked him why, he said it was ‘good enough’ and when the fence dries, it’ll look great. And, a second coat would fix it in the end. Now, as a child, my father instilled within me the importance of great work and doing the job well. So to see him change his stance was surprising to, say the least. Perplexed, I picked up the brush and began working. After a while, I realized that the evolution of my dad’s method reminded me of the old testament and new.
In the beginning, we had laws and rigid practices. Just like perfect behavior, it was unattainable. When Jesus came onto the scene and died for our sins, God gave us our second chance. Now, we are required to accept salvation. We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to show up. What a profound gift! Christ gets us to the finish line, not our deeds. As I worked on the fence, I had to laugh at myself and the strange behaviors of man. We tend to get stuck in performative actions, trying to achieve perfection, whether it’s in our jobs, our looks, our family, etc. The truth is, perfection is impossible. I’ve observed that if you walk with God as you age, you begin to see His wisdom at work, allowing you to lighten up and accept his gift. When you allow God to give you the ‘second coat’ of salvation, your efforts become more humble, honest, and intentional.
Are you aged in Christ-like wisdom or in man-driven pride?
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1 Then this message came to me from the LORD : 2 “Son of man, how does a grapevine compare to a tree? Is a vine’s wood as useful as the wood of a tree? 3 Can its wood be used for making things, like pegs to hang up pots and pans? 4 No, it can only be used for fuel, and even as fuel, it burns too quickly. 5 Vines are useless both before and after being put into the fire! 6 “And this is what the Sovereign LORD says: The people of Jerusalem are like grapevines growing among the trees of the forest. Since they are useless, I have thrown them on the fire to be burned. 7 And I will see to it that if they escape from one fire, they will fall into another. When I turn against them, you will know that I am the LORD . 8 And I will make the land desolate because my people have been unfaithful to me. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!”
“Keep wise God-fearing counsel around you as they will steer you in the right direction.”
In this world, there is a spectrum of behaviors we can exhibit. We can do good, bad, and everything in between. Because we are human and imperfect spending time with wise people– those who have years of admirable life experience– to help us on our way. Their years of experience allows them to guide the young to smarter pastures. More to the point, their mistakes can help to avoid similar fates.
The eyes of the wise are clear and sharp thanks to their time with God and years on this earth. Those who have fought the good fight and live on to tell the tale have great stories full of insight. You can tell by the fact that God is within the very fabric of their lives– as He is in all of ours. Friends we live in a world with very many paths and detours. Yet there are two directions. So whoever you spend your time with, make sure their counsel leads you back to the source, in the direction of Christ
Who do you listen to and which direction are they pointing you to?
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1 How the gold has lost its luster! Even the finest gold has become dull. The sacred gemstones lie scattered in the streets! 2 See how the precious children of Jerusalem, worth their weight in fine gold, are now treated like pots of clay made by a common potter. 3 Even the jackals feed their young, but not my people Israel. They ignore their children’s cries, like ostriches in the desert. 4 The parched tongues of their little ones stick to the roofs of their mouths in thirst. The children cry for bread, but no one has any to give them. 5 The people who once ate the richest foods now beg in the streets for anything they can get. Those who once wore the finest clothes now search the garbage dumps for food. 6 The guilt of my people is greater than that of Sodom, where utter disaster struck in a moment and no hand offered help. 7 Our princes once glowed with health— brighter than snow, whiter than milk. Their faces were as ruddy as rubies, their appearance like fine jewels. 8 But now their faces are blacker than soot. No one recognizes them in the streets. Their skin sticks to their bones; it is as dry and hard as wood. 9 Those killed by the sword are better off than those who die of hunger. Starving, they waste away for lack of food from the fields. 10 Tenderhearted women have cooked their own children. They have eaten them to survive the siege. 11 But now the anger of the LORD is satisfied. His fierce anger has been poured out. He started a fire in Jerusalem that burned the city to its foundations. 12 Not a king in all the earth— no one in all the world— would have believed that an enemy could march through the gates of Jerusalem. 13 Yet it happened because of the sins of her prophets and the sins of her priests, who defiled the city by shedding innocent blood. 14 They wandered blindly through the streets, so defiled by blood that no one dared touch them. 15 “Get away!” the people shouted at them. “You’re defiled! Don’t touch us!” So they fled to distant lands and wandered among foreign nations, but none would let them stay. 16 The LORD himself has scattered them, and he no longer helps them. People show no respect for the priests and no longer honor the leaders. 17 We looked in vain for our allies to come and save us, but we were looking to nations that could not help us. 18 We couldn’t go into the streets without danger to our lives. Our end was near; our days were numbered. We were doomed! 19 Our enemies were swifter than eagles in flight. If we fled to the mountains, they found us. If we hid in the wilderness, they were waiting for us there. 20 Our king—the LORD ’s anointed, the very life of our nation— was caught in their snares. We had thought that his shadow would protect us against any nation on earth! 21 Are you rejoicing in the land of Uz, O people of Edom? But you, too, must drink from the cup of the LORD ’s anger. You, too, will be stripped naked in your drunkenness. 22 O beautiful Jerusalem, your punishment will end; you will soon return from exile. But Edom, your punishment is just beginning; soon your many sins will be exposed.
“Resolve your concerns with God because each day brings its own soil to till.”
Last week, my 13-year old nephew approached me with a ‘business opportunity’. He was looking to build a dollhouse for his sister and needed some venture capital. During his pitch, he brought out design sketches, complete with measurements, timeframes, build costs, materials, and where to purchase them. The kid left no stone unturned. I sat as he spoke, with a smile on my face, he did his homework and sold me on his vision, so I funded his project. As we went online to purchase materials, I couldn’t help but be reminded how of God blesses our moves when we come before him honestly and openly. That said, in order for us to prepare a proposal for God that He can sign off on, we first must do the work.
It’s impossible to be motivated 100% of the time. If you’re expecting some fanfare or ‘ah ha’ moment that gets you into gear to till the soil of your life, you will never break ground. More to the point, you’re also competing against time. Life does not stop when you’re tired, weary, confused, numb, angry, unsure, anxious, and so on. Even in the best days, the idea of “ready” is essentially a myth. There is no button that we push that says to our brain, “I’m ready to step up to the plate”. Nope, the unglamorous truth is that you put one foot in front of the other, making progress with each step. For this reason, we have to reconcile our day to day with God if we even stand a chance to receive the daily grace it takes to conquer the day.
The amazing thing is that God is not only the investor of our lives, He’s also the builder, planner, contractor, He’s everything. So when He puts the plan into motion, you must go to Him from start to finish of the project. So how do we do this? We start by turning our backs away from foolishness. If you’re looking, reading, drinking, eating, or touching things you ought not to, let it go. Friends, God will not bless or enable our foolishness. I can attest to that, ha. But more to the point, the junk that our wayward beings crave does not hold a candle to the righteous gifts that only God can bestow. So, start by doing the work. Don’t wait to get motivated. Begin with the Word, and let Him lead your project. All you have to do is break ground.
Are you looking for Holy Capital for a heathen project?
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1 I am the one who has seen the afflictions that come from the rod of the LORD ’s anger. 2 He has led me into darkness, shutting out all light. 3 He has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long. 4 He has made my skin and flesh grow old. He has broken my bones. 5 He has besieged and surrounded me with anguish and distress. 6 He has buried me in a dark place, like those long dead. 7 He has walled me in, and I cannot escape. He has bound me in heavy chains. 8 And though I cry and shout, he has shut out my prayers. 9 He has blocked my way with a high stone wall; he has made my road crooked. 10 He has hidden like a bear or a lion, waiting to attack me. 11 He has dragged me off the path and torn me in pieces, leaving me helpless and devastated. 12 He has drawn his bow and made me the target for his arrows. 13 He shot his arrows deep into my heart. 14 My own people laugh at me. All day long they sing their mocking songs. 15 He has filled me with bitterness and given me a bitter cup of sorrow to drink. 16 He has made me chew on gravel. He has rolled me in the dust. 17 Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. 18 I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!” 19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. 20 I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. 21 Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: 22 The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. 24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” 25 The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. 26 So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the LORD . 27 And it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yoke of his discipline: 28 Let them sit alone in silence beneath the LORD ’s demands. 29 Let them lie face down in the dust, for there may be hope at last. 30 Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them and accept the insults of their enemies. 31 For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. 32 Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. 33 For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow. 34 If people crush underfoot all the prisoners of the land, 35 if they deprive others of their rights in defiance of the Most High, 36 if they twist justice in the courts— doesn’t the Lord see all these things? 37 Who can command things to happen without the Lord’s permission? 38 Does not the Most High send both calamity and good? 39 Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins? 40 Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the LORD . 41 Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say, 42 “We have sinned and rebelled, and you have not forgiven us. 43 “You have engulfed us with your anger, chased us down, and slaughtered us without mercy. 44 You have hidden yourself in a cloud so our prayers cannot reach you. 45 You have discarded us as refuse and garbage among the nations. 46 “All our enemies have spoken out against us. 47 We are filled with fear, for we are trapped, devastated, and ruined.” 48 Tears stream from my eyes because of the destruction of my people! 49 My tears flow endlessly; they will not stop 50 until the LORD looks down from heaven and sees. 51 My heart is breaking over the fate of all the women of Jerusalem. 52 My enemies, whom I have never harmed, hunted me down like a bird. 53 They threw me into a pit and dropped stones on me. 54 The water rose over my head, and I cried out, “This is the end!” 55 But I called on your name, LORD, from deep within the pit. 56 You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!” 57 Yes, you came when I called; you told me, “Do not fear.” 58 Lord, you are my lawyer! Plead my case! For you have redeemed my life. 59 You have seen the wrong they have done to me, LORD . Be my judge, and prove me right. 60 You have seen the vengeful plots my enemies have laid against me. 61 LORD, you have heard the vile names they call me. You know all about the plans they have made. 62 My enemies whisper and mutter as they plot against me all day long. 63 Look at them! Whether they sit or stand, I am the object of their mocking songs. 64 Pay them back, LORD, for all the evil they have done. 65 Give them hard and stubborn hearts, and then let your curse fall on them! 66 Chase them down in your anger, destroying them beneath the LORD ’s heavens. Lamentations 2Lamentations 4 Parallel Compare
“With God, doing life with your brothers and sisters in Christ is far better than worse.”
Love is a verb and it’s a hard one. Especially when it comes to loving those closest to you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve imagined jumping ship to greener pastures. But, as I reflect on the amazing people that God has placed in my corner to do life with, I can say it is far better than worse. I didn’t always feel this way. And sometimes, I still scratch my head when it comes to those I love as they likely scratch their head at me. I’m sure we all do. But, when we allow Christ’s loving example to guide how we love others, it does make those trying times a bit easier.
God-inspired love takes an honest, hardworking, and consistent approach to even do a halfway decent job of it. It forces us to be present. It calls us to forgive as God freely forgives us. It causes us to swallow our pride and let transgressors off the hook. It causes us to put down our lectures and let God be God to teach us what we need to learn. Christ-like love is tough from a human perspective, which is why we have to use God’s filter rather than our own. So the next time you feel like you may want to excommunicate a loved one, remember how Christ loves you and see how you can mirror that love. Using Christ’s template, you will come to find that love is far better than worse.
Who are you modeling your love after?
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1 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah from Libnah. 2 But Zedekiah did what was evil in the LORD ’s sight, just as Jehoiakim had done. 3 These things happened because of the LORD ’s anger against the people of Jerusalem and Judah, until he finally banished them from his presence and sent them into exile. Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. 4 So on January 15, during the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon led his entire army against Jerusalem. They surrounded the city and built siege ramps against its walls. 5 Jerusalem was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah’s reign. 6 By July 18 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, the famine in the city had become very severe, and the last of the food was entirely gone. 7 Then a section of the city wall was broken down, and all the soldiers fled. Since the city was surrounded by the Babylonians, they waited for nightfall. Then they slipped through the gate between the two walls behind the king’s garden and headed toward the Jordan Valley. 8 But the Babylonian troops chased King Zedekiah and overtook him on the plains of Jericho, for his men had all deserted him and scattered. 9 They captured the king and took him to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath. There the king of Babylon pronounced judgment upon Zedekiah. 10 The king of Babylon made Zedekiah watch as he slaughtered his sons. He also slaughtered all the officials of Judah at Riblah. 11 Then he gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him in bronze chains, and the king of Babylon led him away to Babylon. Zedekiah remained there in prison until the day of his death. 12 On August 17 of that year, which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard and an official of the Babylonian king, arrived in Jerusalem. 13 He burned down the Temple of the LORD, the royal palace, and all the houses of Jerusalem. He destroyed all the important buildings in the city. 14 Then he supervised the entire Babylonian army as they tore down the walls of Jerusalem on every side. 15 Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took as exiles some of the poorest of the people, the rest of the people who remained in the city, the defectors who had declared their allegiance to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the craftsmen. 16 But Nebuzaradan allowed some of the poorest people to stay behind to care for the vineyards and fields. 17 The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars in front of the LORD ’s Temple, the bronze water carts, and the great bronze basin called the Sea, and they carried all the bronze away to Babylon. 18 They also took all the ash buckets, shovels, lamp snuffers, basins, dishes, and all the other bronze articles used for making sacrifices at the Temple. 19 The captain of the guard also took the small bowls, incense burners, basins, pots, lampstands, ladles, bowls used for liquid offerings, and all the other articles made of pure gold or silver. 20 The weight of the bronze from the two pillars, the Sea with the twelve bronze oxen beneath it, and the water carts was too great to be measured. These things had been made for the LORD ’s Temple in the days of King Solomon. 21 Each of the pillars was 27 feet tall and 18 feet in circumference. They were hollow, with walls 3 inches thick. 22 The bronze capital on top of each pillar was 7 feet high and was decorated with a network of bronze pomegranates all the way around. 23 There were 96 pomegranates on the sides, and a total of 100 pomegranates on the network around the top. 24 Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took with him as prisoners Seraiah the high priest, Zephaniah the priest of the second rank, and the three chief gatekeepers. 25 And from among the people still hiding in the city, he took an officer who had been in charge of the Judean army; seven of the king’s personal advisers; the army commander’s chief secretary, who was in charge of recruitment; and sixty other citizens. 26 Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took them all to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 27 And there at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king of Babylon had them all put to death. So the people of Judah were sent into exile from their land. 28 The number of captives taken to Babylon in the seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign was 3,023. 29 Then in Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year he took 832 more. 30 In Nebuchadnezzar’s twenty-third year he sent Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, who took 745 more—a total of 4,600 captives in all. 31 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, Evil-merodach ascended to the Babylonian throne. He was kind to Jehoiachin and released him from prison on March 31 of that year. 32 He spoke kindly to Jehoiachin and gave him a higher place than all the other exiled kings in Babylon. 33 He supplied Jehoiachin with new clothes to replace his prison garb and allowed him to dine in the king’s presence for the rest of his life. 34 So the Babylonian king gave him a regular food allowance as long as he lived. This continued until the day of his death.
“You may think you’re putting one over people, but truthfully you’re only pulling the wool over your own eyes.”
Admittedly, I used to think Jacob (of the Jacob and Esau ilk) was a clever dude. When I was young, I thought, if Esau was dumb enough to trade his birthright for some food, surely, he didn’t deserve it. Getting over on people is a lazy/deceptive person’s way of not doing their God’s honest work while reaping a reward that doesn’t belong to them. In today’s world, many hide behind loopholes or obscure laws to justify this kind of deception. The problem with being clever and tricky is that eventually, it catches up with you. More to the point, through your deception of others, you distort the Truth in your own eyes.
If you simply scan over Jacob’s story, it appears that he lucked out in the end. However, if you take a closer look, he had to struggle for everything he got. Between the wives, the sheep, his sons (they sold their brother into slavery!), his brother, his leg injury– the dude had a lot of targets on his back and he spent a good chunk of his life looking over his shoulder. When I think about his life, and what that entailed, it was clearly evident that the shady seeds he had sown impacted him for his lifetime! While things were reconciled (his brother welcomed him with open arms and he was eventually reunited with Joseph), those things were given by the mercy of God, but only after Jacob had changed his ways. I say all of this to say that we are accountable for our actions, behaviors, and deceptions. God is the ultimate equalizer and if we found ourselves on the Jacob path, He is gracious enough to set us straight, as long as we seek Him.
Are you deceiving yourself by deceiving others?
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1 When Jeremiah had finished giving this message from the LORD their God to all the people, 2 Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the other proud men said to Jeremiah, “You lie! The LORD our God hasn’t forbidden us to go to Egypt! 3 Baruch son of Neriah has convinced you to say this, because he wants us to stay here and be killed by the Babylonians or be carried off into exile.” 4 So Johanan and the other guerrilla leaders and all the people refused to obey the LORD ’s command to stay in Judah. 5 Johanan and the other leaders took with them all the people who had returned from the nearby countries to which they had fled. 6 In the crowd were men, women, and children, the king’s daughters, and all those whom Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, had left with Gedaliah. The prophet Jeremiah and Baruch were also included. 7 The people refused to obey the voice of the LORD and went to Egypt, going as far as the city of Tahpanhes. 8 Then at Tahpanhes, the LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 9 “While the people of Judah are watching, take some large rocks and bury them under the pavement stones at the entrance of Pharaoh’s palace here in Tahpanhes. 10 Then say to the people of Judah, ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will certainly bring my servant Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, here to Egypt. I will set his throne over these stones that I have hidden. He will spread his royal canopy over them. 11 And when he comes, he will destroy the land of Egypt. He will bring death to those destined for death, captivity to those destined for captivity, and war to those destined for war. 12 He will set fire to the temples of Egypt’s gods; he will burn the temples and carry the idols away as plunder. He will pick clean the land of Egypt as a shepherd picks fleas from his cloak. And he himself will leave unharmed. 13 He will break down the sacred pillars standing in the temple of the sun in Egypt, and he will burn down the temples of Egypt’s gods.’”
“Don’t shy away from life’s pain points, as there are valuable lessons to be learned from your experience.”
Pain of any kind stinks. It’s an unpleasant, visceral experience that changes our perception. For that reason, it’s important to grieve, and to grieve well. That being said, after our period of grief, we have two options– get up off our mat and walk, or lay down and succumb to living a numbed life. In the natural world, pain seems pointless and cruel, leaving us to be fearful and and without hope. After all, why try again if some other terrible thing is lying in wait? What would be the point. Well, this is where the knowledge of Christ is crucial in our walk.
While pain sucks, when filtering those moments through the Word of God, He will give you wisdom from those experiences. I can say this, any shred of spiritual intelligence or wisdom I may have, was hard-won from some tough times. In those messed up moments of loss, rejection, etc. I learned the true value and necessity of leaning on God. I learned to accomplish more with less. I learned the pure joy and restoration of forgiveness. Long story short, I’ve learned a lot, and I suspect I still have much to learn. My point is, after the experience is over, and you’ve picked up your mat, don’t be afraid to ask God to reveal the point of your pain. In this life, there is growth in all that we do, we first have to embrace a life-learning mindset.
Are you growing from your pain or are you stuck in a neutral pity party?
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1 But in midautumn of that year, Ishmael son of Nethaniah and grandson of Elishama, who was a member of the royal family and had been one of the king’s high officials, went to Mizpah with ten men to meet Gedaliah. While they were eating together, 2 Ishmael and his ten men suddenly jumped up, drew their swords, and killed Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon had appointed governor. 3 Ishmael also killed all the Judeans and the Babylonian soldiers who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah. 4 The next day, before anyone had heard about Gedaliah’s murder, 5 eighty men arrived from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria to worship at the Temple of the LORD . They had shaved off their beards, torn their clothes, and cut themselves, and had brought along grain offerings and frankincense. 6 Ishmael left Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he went. When he reached them, he said, “Oh, come and see what has happened to Gedaliah!” 7 But as soon as they were all inside the town, Ishmael and his men killed all but ten of them and threw their bodies into a cistern. 8 The other ten had talked Ishmael into letting them go by promising to bring him their stores of wheat, barley, olive oil, and honey that they had hidden away. 9 The cistern where Ishmael dumped the bodies of the men he murdered was the large one dug by King Asa when he fortified Mizpah to protect himself against King Baasha of Israel. Ishmael son of Nethaniah filled it with corpses. 10 Then Ishmael made captives of the king’s daughters and the other people who had been left under Gedaliah’s care in Mizpah by Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard. Taking them with him, he started back toward the land of Ammon. 11 But when Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders heard about Ishmael’s crimes, 12 they took all their men and set out to stop him. They caught up with him at the large pool near Gibeon. 13 The people Ishmael had captured shouted for joy when they saw Johanan and the other guerrilla leaders. 14 And all the captives from Mizpah escaped and began to help Johanan. 15 Meanwhile, Ishmael and eight of his men escaped from Johanan into the land of Ammon. 16 Then Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders took all the people they had rescued in Gibeon—the soldiers, women, children, and court officials whom Ishmael had captured after he killed Gedaliah. 17 They took them all to the village of Geruth-kimham near Bethlehem, where they prepared to leave for Egypt. 18 They were afraid of what the Babylonians would do when they heard that Ishmael had killed Gedaliah, the governor appointed by the Babylonian king.
“Prioritize your relationship with God and His wisdom will organize your life.”
I’m going to come right out and say it, for me, organization, lists, schedules, etc. are not my cup of tea. I’m firmly rooted in the ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ camp. That said, in the nature of my work, I’ve begun to realize that without some organization, or prioritization, I cannot be successful in all of the endeavors in my life. I’ve slowly but surely started adopting more rules and schedules within my life (I can feel my mother smiling at the thought of rules, ha). Funnily enough, I would not have made that connection by listening to the gently and careful advice of God.
Spending time with God each day is like getting master tips on organization for your mind, body, and spirit. In that quiet place where you sit, speak, and listen, He will share with you the ultimate organizational tips specific for the growth and change for your life. As we all learn to mirror Christ and leave our fleshly comforts, ideas, and harebrained schemes behind, the path becomes clearer and more manageable to navigate. Make no mistake that it does become narrower which is why it seems less traveled than the roads of your past. But, if you make that relational time with God a priority, He will help you organize the rest.
Are you prioritizing the Organizational Tools of Christ or is following the disorganized destruction of the world your preferred path?
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1 In January of the ninth year of King Zedekiah’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with his entire army to besiege Jerusalem. 2 Two and a half years later, on July 18 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, a section of the city wall was broken down. 3 All the officers of the Babylonian army came in and sat in triumph at the Middle Gate: Nergal-sharezer of Samgar, and Nebo-sarsekim, a chief officer, and Nergal-sharezer, the king’s adviser, and all the other officers of the king of Babylon. 4 When King Zedekiah of Judah and all the soldiers saw that the Babylonians had broken into the city, they fled. They waited for nightfall and then slipped through the gate between the two walls behind the king’s garden and headed toward the Jordan Valley. 5 But the Babylonian troops chased them and overtook Zedekiah on the plains of Jericho. They captured him and took him to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who was at Riblah in the land of Hamath. There the king of Babylon pronounced judgment upon Zedekiah. 6 The king of Babylon made Zedekiah watch as he slaughtered his sons at Riblah. The king of Babylon also slaughtered all the nobles of Judah. 7 Then he gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him in bronze chains to lead him away to Babylon. 8 Meanwhile, the Babylonians burned Jerusalem, including the royal palace and the houses of the people, and they tore down the walls of the city. 9 Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took as exiles to Babylon the rest of the people who remained in the city, those who had defected to him, and everyone else who remained. 10 But Nebuzaradan allowed some of the poorest people to stay behind in the land of Judah, and he assigned them to care for the vineyards and fields. 11 King Nebuchadnezzar had told Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, to find Jeremiah. 12 “See that he isn’t hurt,” he said. “Look after him well, and give him anything he wants.” 13 So Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard; Nebushazban, a chief officer; Nergal-sharezer, the king’s adviser; and the other officers of Babylon’s king 14 sent messengers to bring Jeremiah out of the prison. They put him under the care of Gedaliah son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, who took him back to his home. So Jeremiah stayed in Judah among his own people. 15 The LORD had given the following message to Jeremiah while he was still in prison: 16 “Say to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will do to this city everything I have threatened. I will send disaster, not prosperity. You will see its destruction, 17 but I will rescue you from those you fear so much. 18 Because you trusted me, I will give you your life as a reward. I will rescue you and keep you safe. I, the LORD, have spoken!’”
“You’re either giving a Cain or an Abel offering; there is no in-between.”~TB
I have assisted my dad with this blog for almost 4 years. At first, I started as the editor/poster, adding the role of ‘writer’ along the way. In the beginning, it was my job to suss out the errors and formatting– general editor stuff. Occasionally, my father or mother would politely ask me to check my work. Back then, I thought what I was doing was the stuff of legends. I was assisting my father (and God), sacrificing my precious time for their pursuits. So naturally, as a foolish young person, I didn’t really take their feedback seriously and kept on my way. It was until a couple of weeks ago when I was formatting the blog posts for my dad’s upcoming books, that I had discovered not only was there a ton of errors the work was amazingly shoddy given my abilities.
Change with Humility
As I read the older blogs, the sting of conviction hit my gut as my mind recalled all of the editing conversations I had had with my dad years ago. See, he wasn’t forceful or persistent with the comments and yet, I would shove the notes aside as if my work was precise and perfect. Oh, youth! I was foolish to believe that I was helping my father and God when in reality it was they who were helping (and still are) me. As I laughed and repented for my foolishness, I was immediately reminded of the story of Cain and Abel. In the story of Cain and Abel, Abel did his best with his offering, and Cain perceived that his offering was great when it was not. But unlike the arrogance that blinds humans, God sees all and knows all.
Perception is not Reality
The jealousy that Cain felt towards Abel had nothing to do with his brother, but really it was Cain’s unwillingness to take responsibility for the crap that he himself presented to God. At that moment I realized, my work– or rather offering to God– was that of a Cain offering. In my arrogance, I believed that what I was doing was phenomenal, but really it was shoddy and unacceptable. Friends, we either give our best offering to God– an Abel offering. Or, we give our ‘meh’ offering to God– a Cain offering. Deep within our hearts, we know when we give which, so do not fool yourself into thinking God cannot spot the difference. Instead of devouring our brothers and sisters because of our lazy, corrupt thinking, spend your days working honestly as if God is standing next to you so that your daily offerings are deemed acceptable to the Lord.
Are you giving an honest offering or are you honestly fooling yourself?
Enjoy the reading
1King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with all the armies from the kingdoms he ruled, and he fought against Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. At that time this message came to Jeremiah from the LORD :
2“Go to King Zedekiah of Judah, and tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down.
3You will not escape his grasp but will be captured and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face. Then you will be exiled to Babylon.
4“‘But listen to this promise from the LORD, O Zedekiah, king of Judah. This is what the LORD says: You will not be killed in war
5but will die peacefully. People will burn incense in your memory, just as they did for your ancestors, the kings who preceded you. They will mourn for you, crying, “Alas, our master is dead!” This I have decreed, says the LORD .’”
6So Jeremiah the prophet delivered the message to King Zedekiah of Judah.
7At this time the Babylonian army was besieging Jerusalem, Lachish, and Azekah—the only fortified cities of Judah not yet captured.
8This message came to Jeremiah from the LORD after King Zedekiah made a covenant with the people, proclaiming freedom for the slaves.
9He had ordered all the people to free their Hebrew slaves—both men and women. No one was to keep a fellow Judean in bondage.
10The officials and all the people had obeyed the king’s command,
11but later they changed their minds. They took back the men and women they had freed, forcing them to be slaves again.
12So the LORD gave them this message through Jeremiah:
13“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors long ago when I rescued them from their slavery in Egypt.
14I told them that every Hebrew slave must be freed after serving six years. But your ancestors paid no attention to me.
15Recently you repented and did what was right, following my command. You freed your slaves and made a solemn covenant with me in the Temple that bears my name.
16But now you have shrugged off your oath and defiled my name by taking back the men and women you had freed, forcing them to be slaves once again.
17“Therefore, this is what the LORD says: Since you have not obeyed me by setting your countrymen free, I will set you free to be destroyed by war, disease, and famine. You will be an object of horror to all the nations of the earth.
18Because you have broken the terms of our covenant, I will cut you apart just as you cut apart the calf when you walked between its halves to solemnize your vows.
19Yes, I will cut you apart, whether you are officials of Judah or Jerusalem, court officials, priests, or common people—for you have broken your oath.
20I will give you to your enemies, and they will kill you. Your bodies will be food for the vultures and wild animals.
21“I will hand over King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials to the army of the king of Babylon. And although they have left Jerusalem for a while,
22I will call the Babylonian armies back again. They will fight against this city and will capture it and burn it down. I will see to it that all the towns of Judah are destroyed, with no one living there.”
“Like it or not, our lives are a testament to the power of God.”~TB
Long Story Short
Whether you follow Christ or not, our stories are the collective of what God built in this universe. As the creator, He breathed life into existence, carving out the episodic adventures we each call life. For those who humbly and honestly seek Him, your lives are a testament to His mighty righteousness and grace. For those that don’t, they are the testament of lessons to be learned from those narratives.
Stories of Old
Though we cannot see Him, if we look at the patterns of the righteous and wicked, there are undeniable correlations stemming all the way back from Adam and Eve. The thoughts and the deeds of the righteous are identifiable and consistent. The thoughts and the deeds of the wicked are just as identifiable and consistent. Human error befalls us all which is why repentance and turning from our sinful nature is a must. We all would do well to read the Word, learn from our ancestors and glean the examples from our parents to see God’s handiwork at work.
Which testament are you; righteous or wicked?
Enjoy the reading
1The following message came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah. This was also the eighteenth year of the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar.
2Jerusalem was then under siege from the Babylonian army, and Jeremiah was imprisoned in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace.
3King Zedekiah had put him there, asking why he kept giving this prophecy: “This is what the LORD says: ‘I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will take it.
4King Zedekiah will be captured by the Babylonians and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face.
5He will take Zedekiah to Babylon, and I will deal with him there,’ says the LORD . ‘If you fight against the Babylonians, you will never succeed.’”
6At that time the LORD sent me a message. He said,
7“Your cousin Hanamel son of Shallum will come and say to you, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth. By law you have the right to buy it before it is offered to anyone else.’”
8Then, just as the LORD had said he would, my cousin Hanamel came and visited me in the prison. He said, “Please buy my field at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. By law you have the right to buy it before it is offered to anyone else, so buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that the message I had heard was from the LORD .
9So I bought the field at Anathoth, paying Hanamel seventeen pieces of silver for it.
10I signed and sealed the deed of purchase before witnesses, weighed out the silver, and paid him.
11Then I took the sealed deed and an unsealed copy of the deed, which contained the terms and conditions of the purchase,
12and I handed them to Baruch son of Neriah and grandson of Mahseiah. I did all this in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, the witnesses who had signed the deed, and all the men of Judah who were there in the courtyard of the guardhouse.
13Then I said to Baruch as they all listened,
14“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Take both this sealed deed and the unsealed copy, and put them into a pottery jar to preserve them for a long time.’
15For this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Someday people will again own property here in this land and will buy and sell houses and vineyards and fields.’”
16Then after I had given the papers to Baruch, I prayed to the LORD :
17“O Sovereign LORD ! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!
18You show unfailing love to thousands, but you also bring the consequences of one generation’s sin upon the next. You are the great and powerful God, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
19You have all wisdom and do great and mighty miracles. You see the conduct of all people, and you give them what they deserve.
20You performed miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt—things still remembered to this day! And you have continued to do great miracles in Israel and all around the world. You have made your name famous to this day.
21“You brought Israel out of Egypt with mighty signs and wonders, with a strong hand and powerful arm, and with overwhelming terror.
22You gave the people of Israel this land that you had promised their ancestors long before—a land flowing with milk and honey.
23Our ancestors came and conquered it and lived in it, but they refused to obey you or follow your word. They have not done anything you commanded. That is why you have sent this terrible disaster upon them.
24“See how the siege ramps have been built against the city walls! Through war, famine, and disease, the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, who will conquer it. Everything has happened just as you said.
25And yet, O Sovereign LORD, you have told me to buy the field—paying good money for it before these witnesses—even though the city will soon be handed over to the Babylonians.”
26Then this message came to Jeremiah from the LORD :
27“I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?
28Therefore, this is what the LORD says: I will hand this city over to the Babylonians and to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and he will capture it.
29The Babylonians outside the walls will come in and set fire to the city. They will burn down all these houses where the people provoked my anger by burning incense to Baal on the rooftops and by pouring out liquid offerings to other gods.
30Israel and Judah have done nothing but wrong since their earliest days. They have infuriated me with all their evil deeds,” says the LORD .
31“From the time this city was built until now, it has done nothing but anger me, so I am determined to get rid of it.
32“The sins of Israel and Judah—the sins of the people of Jerusalem, the kings, the officials, the priests, and the prophets—have stirred up my anger.
33My people have turned their backs on me and have refused to return. Even though I diligently taught them, they would not receive instruction or obey.
34They have set up their abominable idols right in my own Temple, defiling it.
35They have built pagan shrines to Baal in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing. What an incredible evil, causing Judah to sin so greatly!
36“Now I want to say something more about this city. You have been saying, ‘It will fall to the king of Babylon through war, famine, and disease.’ But this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says:
37I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury. I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety.
38They will be my people, and I will be their God.
39And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants.
40And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.
41I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.
42“This is what the LORD says: Just as I have brought all these calamities on them, so I will do all the good I have promised them.
43Fields will again be bought and sold in this land about which you now say, ‘It has been ravaged by the Babylonians, a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’
44Yes, fields will once again be bought and sold—deeds signed and sealed and witnessed—in the land of Benjamin and here in Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the hill country, in the foothills of Judah and in the Negev, too. For someday I will restore prosperity to them. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
“Judge your own actions so that they may align up with God’s purpose and continue in the faith of love or be destroyed.”~ Jon Barnes
Don’t let your childish, inconsiderate, selfish behavior ruin your life by not following God’s message. God’s judgment will be upon your head and your family with the pride of your heart. Humble yourselves with the truth to break your spirit of confusion, entitlement, and delusional disorders about God’s Words, Laws, and Commandments.
Restore these Commandments and Ways back into your mind and heart so that your soul will not be lost. Take this time right now to clean your own house, teach your children, and study the bible stories to practice what you should be preaching, teaching, and doing every day.
You will never be prepared for God’s Wrath, being apart from the connection of God’s Spirit. Your motives, tricks, greed, lust, selfishness, and lack of true love will haunt you in hell with fire, brimstone, and gnashing of teeth.
Ask your parents for the help that you need, learn from their mistakes, before God Almighty smites your family with the curse you brought onto them, by not following God’s Plan!
Enjoy The Reading
1Jeremiah wrote a letter from Jerusalem to the elders, priests, prophets, and all the people who had been exiled to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar.
2This was after King Jehoiachin, the queen mother, the court officials, the other officials of Judah, and all the craftsmen and artisans had been deported from Jerusalem.
3He sent the letter with Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah when they went to Babylon as King Zedekiah’s ambassadors to Nebuchadnezzar. This is what Jeremiah’s letter said:
4This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem:
5“Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce.
6Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away!
7And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
8This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let your prophets and fortune-tellers who are with you in the land of Babylon trick you. Do not listen to their dreams,
9because they are telling you lies in my name. I have not sent them,” says the LORD .
10This is what the LORD says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.
11For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD . “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
12In those days when you pray, I will listen.
13If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
14I will be found by you,” says the LORD . “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”
15You claim that the LORD has raised up prophets for you in Babylon.
16But this is what the LORD says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all those still living here in Jerusalem—your relatives who were not exiled to Babylon.
17This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “I will send war, famine, and disease upon them and make them like bad figs, too rotten to eat.
18Yes, I will pursue them with war, famine, and disease, and I will scatter them around the world. In every nation where I send them, I will make them an object of damnation, horror, contempt, and mockery.
19For they refuse to listen to me, though I have spoken to them repeatedly through the prophets I sent. And you who are in exile have not listened either,” says the LORD .
20Therefore, listen to this message from the LORD, all you captives there in Babylon.
21This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says about your prophets—Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah—who are telling you lies in my name: “I will turn them over to Nebuchadnezzar for execution before your eyes.
22Their terrible fate will become proverbial, so that the Judean exiles will curse someone by saying, ‘May the LORD make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned alive!’
23For these men have done terrible things among my people. They have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives and have lied in my name, saying things I did not command. I am a witness to this. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
24The LORD sent this message to Shemaiah the Nehelamite in Babylon:
25“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: You wrote a letter on your own authority to Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, the priest, and you sent copies to the other priests and people in Jerusalem. You wrote to Zephaniah,
26“The LORD has appointed you to replace Jehoiada as the priest in charge of the house of the LORD . You are responsible to put into stocks and neck irons any crazy man who claims to be a prophet.
27So why have you done nothing to stop Jeremiah from Anathoth, who pretends to be a prophet among you?
28Jeremiah sent a letter here to Babylon, predicting that our captivity will be a long one. He said, ‘Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce.’”
29But when Zephaniah the priest received Shemaiah’s letter, he took it to Jeremiah and read it to him.
30Then the LORD gave this message to Jeremiah:
31“Send an open letter to all the exiles in Babylon. Tell them, ‘This is what the LORD says concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Since he has prophesied to you when I did not send him and has tricked you into believing his lies,
32I will punish him and his family. None of his descendants will see the good things I will do for my people, for he has incited you to rebel against me. I, the LORD, have spoken!’”