Forgiveness is such a strange concept. This is partially because as humans we have to contend with our egos and our warped sense of justice and fairness. We forgive up until a point, a threshold that we deem is appropriate to practice unforgiveness. The irony is that forgiveness begets a wonderful, biblical, peace that cannot be duplicated in anything else. When we forgive, those wounds of yesterday heal in ways that only God can make possible.
When we forgive as God forgives us, it’s like a glimpse in understanding the immense love that God has for us. Because our minds are so limited, it is hard to quantify or put into context how much God loves us. When we forgive others, especially when we believe they do not deserve it, we in turn are producing the same Christ-inspired love that God bestows on us. It is in those moments we understand and accept God’s love because we share that love with others.
If God does not have a forgiveness meter, should we?
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1 In my vision I saw what appeared to be a throne of blue lapis lazuli above the crystal surface over the heads of the cherubim. 2 Then the LORD spoke to the man in linen clothing and said, “Go between the whirling wheels beneath the cherubim, and take a handful of burning coals and scatter them over the city.” He did this as I watched. 3 The cherubim were standing at the south end of the Temple when the man went in, and the cloud of glory filled the inner courtyard. 4 Then the glory of the LORD rose up from above the cherubim and went over to the entrance of the Temple. The Temple was filled with this cloud of glory, and the courtyard glowed brightly with the glory of the LORD . 5 The moving wings of the cherubim sounded like the voice of God Almighty and could be heard even in the outer courtyard. 6 The LORD said to the man in linen clothing, “Go between the cherubim and take some burning coals from between the wheels.” So the man went in and stood beside one of the wheels. 7 Then one of the cherubim reached out his hand and took some live coals from the fire burning among them. He put the coals into the hands of the man in linen clothing, and the man took them and went out. 8 (All the cherubim had what looked like human hands under their wings.) 9 I looked, and each of the four cherubim had a wheel beside him, and the wheels sparkled like beryl. 10 All four wheels looked alike and were made the same; each wheel had a second wheel turning crosswise within it. 11 The cherubim could move in any of the four directions they faced, without turning as they moved. They went straight in the direction they faced, never turning aside. 12 Both the cherubim and the wheels were covered with eyes. The cherubim had eyes all over their bodies, including their hands, their backs, and their wings. 13 I heard someone refer to the wheels as “the whirling wheels.” 14 Each of the four cherubim had four faces: the first was the face of an ox, the second was a human face, the third was the face of a lion, and the fourth was the face of an eagle. 15 Then the cherubim rose upward. These were the same living beings I had seen beside the Kebar River. 16 When the cherubim moved, the wheels moved with them. When they lifted their wings to fly, the wheels stayed beside them. 17 When the cherubim stopped, the wheels stopped. When they flew upward, the wheels rose up, for the spirit of the living beings was in the wheels. 18 Then the glory of the LORD moved out from the entrance of the Temple and hovered above the cherubim. 19 And as I watched, the cherubim flew with their wheels to the east gate of the LORD ’s Temple. And the glory of the God of Israel hovered above them. 20 These were the same living beings I had seen beneath the God of Israel when I was by the Kebar River. I knew they were cherubim, 21 for each had four faces and four wings and what looked like human hands under their wings. 22 And their faces were just like the faces of the beings I had seen at the Kebar, and they traveled straight ahead, just as the others had.
“Building a relationship with God is a worthy labor that pays more dividends than all of the stocks combined.”
When God is the priority in your life, your path becomes clearer as you work to get your affairs in order. Because He knows all and you’ve done the work to connect with the Holy Spirit, your footsteps are directed to the objectives God has for you.
Building that relationship is a labor because we all have a choice. We must deny our flesh-driven desires, turn our eyes above, and work to know our maker. Friends, that is a daily labor as we are painfully human and require consistent and continuous effort to do what is right. Thank God for forgiveness and everlasting love.
To know God is to know Truth and the world goes against that truth. The world will lead you on a carnal path destined for destruction. Spending time with God allows you to discern the real from the fake; Good from evil. Learn to find joy in walking with Christ as He delights in those who seek Him.
Are you doing the labor to know God?
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1 Then the LORD thundered, “Bring on the men appointed to punish the city! Tell them to bring their weapons with them!” 2 Six men soon appeared from the upper gate that faces north, each carrying a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man dressed in linen, who carried a writer’s case at his side. They all went into the Temple courtyard and stood beside the bronze altar. 3 Then the glory of the God of Israel rose up from between the cherubim, where it had rested, and moved to the entrance of the Temple. And the LORD called to the man dressed in linen who was carrying the writer’s case. 4 He said to him, “Walk through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of all who weep and sigh because of the detestable sins being committed in their city.” 5 Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, “Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! 6 Kill them all—old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin right here at the Temple.” So they began by killing the seventy leaders. 7 “Defile the Temple!” the LORD commanded. “Fill its courtyards with corpses. Go!” So they went and began killing throughout the city. 8 While they were out killing, I was all alone. I fell face down on the ground and cried out, “O Sovereign LORD ! Will your fury against Jerusalem wipe out everyone left in Israel?” 9 Then he said to me, “The sins of the people of Israel and Judah are very, very great. The entire land is full of murder; the city is filled with injustice. They are saying, ‘The LORD doesn’t see it! The LORD has abandoned the land!’ 10 So I will not spare them or have any pity on them. I will fully repay them for all they have done.” 11 Then the man in linen clothing, who carried the writer’s case, reported back and said, “I have done as you commanded.”
“Hug your brothers and sisters during their times of struggle as love covers a multitude of sins.”
I was talking to someone today who had retaliated against someone who transgressed against them. My first reaction was to tell them that while I understood where they were coming from, they were wrong in how they handled the situation. But after I got off the phone, I realized I missed the bigger picture.
I realized that person is generally a God-fearing and good-natured person. It’s not typical of their character to do something malicious. Then I thought about what that person had to experience in order for them to behave that way. Friends we must understand when people lash out or behave in troubling ways. There is usually a great deal of hurt attached.
I quickly called them back and apologized for my rebuke. Instead, I acknowledged their struggle offered compassionate and understanding to why they reacted so poorly. By meeting them in their need instead of condemning them, we were able to get to the heart of the matter so that they could heal from the experience and move on.
Why is it that when people make mistakes we react harshly? I can tell you from experience, that when I go before God and confess my sins, His response is always in love, kindness, and compassion. Surely He out of everyone has the right to strike me down because of my shortcomings. Instead, like a Father comforting a daughter who’s fallen off her bike, God’s forgiveness is merciful and encouraging.
Love covers a multitude of sins. When we forgive others as God forgives us, we give them the space and grace they need to heal. God doesn’t beat us down when we’re broken. To that same effect, we cannot do so to our brothers and sisters. I know from experience the hardship and heartache that occurs when people that you love are only able to see you for your mistakes. Instead, let’s practice the Christ-like love so that we can help one another heal and grow from our sins.
Are you offering Christ-like love or strong legalistic rebukes?
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1 Again a message came to me from the LORD : 2 “Son of man, turn and face the mountains of Israel and prophesy against them. 3 Proclaim this message from the Sovereign LORD against the mountains of Israel. This is what the Sovereign LORD says to the mountains and hills and to the ravines and valleys: I am about to bring war upon you, and I will smash your pagan shrines. 4 All your altars will be demolished, and your places of worship will be destroyed. I will kill your people in front of your idols. 5 I will lay your corpses in front of your idols and scatter your bones around your altars. 6 Wherever you live there will be desolation, and I will destroy your pagan shrines. Your altars will be demolished, your idols will be smashed, your places of worship will be torn down, and all the religious objects you have made will be destroyed. 7 The place will be littered with corpses, and you will know that I alone am the LORD . 8 “But I will let a few of my people escape destruction, and they will be scattered among the nations of the world. 9 Then when they are exiled among the nations, they will remember me. They will recognize how hurt I am by their unfaithful hearts and lustful eyes that long for their idols. Then at last they will hate themselves for all their detestable sins. 10 They will know that I alone am the LORD and that I was serious when I said I would bring this calamity on them. 11 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Clap your hands in horror, and stamp your feet. Cry out because of all the detestable sins the people of Israel have committed. Now they are going to die from war and famine and disease. 12 Disease will strike down those who are far away in exile. War will destroy those who are nearby. And anyone who survives will be killed by famine. So at last I will spend my fury on them. 13 They will know that I am the LORD when their dead lie scattered among their idols and altars on every hill and mountain and under every green tree and every great shade tree—the places where they offered sacrifices to their idols. 14 I will crush them and make their cities desolate from the wilderness in the south to Riblah in the north. Then they will know that I am the LORD .”
“Imagine how clearly we could hear God if we let the wounds of yesterday heal.”
Think back to a time when something painful occurred in your life. It could be a cruel thing a peer or family member said. It could be a life event that changed your worldview. It could be a financial situation that altered how your perceived money. Whatever it is, think about it for a moment. Think about how it changed your view of the world, your view of yourself, and most importantly, your behavior. Now, think about how many times that moment (or several) actually happened over the course of your life. If you sum up the total painful moments and measured them against the years of your life, chances are, it’s quite short in comparison.
So, why am I talking about this? Well, I came to the realization that we (myself totally included) allow a fraction of our life and experiences dictate our whole journey. Meaning, when don’t allow God to reconcile our trials, we don’t heal. Further, when we don’t heal, we are not capable of seeing how God truly sees us, how He sees the world, and how He’s planned amazing things for all of our lives . And, when we don’t have the right sight, we are play toys for the devil. That last line sounds hyperbolic, I know, but hear me out.
The devil has done a phenomenal job of getting us to stew in our fears. Think about it. How we go about our days. How we go about our jobs. How we go about raising the next generation. Everything! Unchecked painful moments get us to take our eyes off of God and then we start looking to ourselves for protection, resources, fake love, you name it. We start creating bogus rules, bogus leaders, bogus laws, bogus love, bogus families, bogus everything.
The problem is because God is the source, the creator, when we don’t consult Him, we consult ourselves and our neighbors. Friends, we don’t see far enough, know enough, love enough, forgive enough to be in charge of really anything. But do you know who benefits when we toil in our unbelief and flesh-driven ways? The devil. Friends, God does not want us fearful, down and out, enslaved, or miserable. But the only way we can know what His plans are for our lives is that we must first come to Him.
You may have been through traumatic, painful, and challenging moments in your life, but God does not want you to stay there. We are not able to withstand life and this world on our own. We have to give everything to Christ so that He can show us the way. We do this by allowing Him into our hearts, our minds, and our souls.
Accepting Christ means that you also accept His guidance, love, and wisdom and trust me, it’s way easier to navigate the world with God at the helm. When you give God your burdens, He cleans your wounds, making you a new work in His image. That is something that on our own, we simply cannot do. At best we have cheap generic band aids that require constant maintenance. God’s solution is far better. If you truly desire to leave the fear-based existence behind, give it all to God and watch Him awaken a new sight within you.
Are you living in fear or are you living in the freedom of Christ?
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“Son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a razor to shave your head and beard. Use a scale to weigh the hair into three equal parts. 2 Place a third of it at the center of your map of Jerusalem. After acting out the siege, burn it there. Scatter another third across your map and chop it with a sword. Scatter the last third to the wind, for I will scatter my people with the sword. 3 Keep just a bit of the hair and tie it up in your robe. 4 Then take some of these hairs out and throw them into the fire, burning them up. A fire will then spread from this remnant and destroy all of Israel. 5 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: This is an illustration of what will happen to Jerusalem. I placed her at the center of the nations, 6 but she has rebelled against my regulations and decrees and has been even more wicked than the surrounding nations. She has refused to obey the regulations and decrees I gave her to follow. 7 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: You people have behaved worse than your neighbors and have refused to obey my decrees and regulations. You have not even lived up to the standards of the nations around you. 8 Therefore, I myself, the Sovereign LORD, am now your enemy. I will punish you publicly while all the nations watch. 9 Because of your detestable idols, I will punish you like I have never punished anyone before or ever will again. 10 Parents will eat their own children, and children will eat their parents. I will punish you and scatter to the winds the few who survive. 11 “As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, I will cut you off completely. I will show you no pity at all because you have defiled my Temple with your vile images and detestable sins. 12 A third of your people will die in the city from disease and famine. A third of them will be slaughtered by the enemy outside the city walls. And I will scatter a third to the winds, chasing them with my sword. 13 Then at last my anger will be spent, and I will be satisfied. And when my fury against them has subsided, all Israel will know that I, the LORD, have spoken to them in my jealous anger. 14 “So I will turn you into a ruin, a mockery in the eyes of the surrounding nations and to all who pass by. 15 You will become an object of mockery and taunting and horror. You will be a warning to all the nations around you. They will see what happens when the LORD punishes a nation in anger and rebukes it, says the LORD . 16 “I will shower you with the deadly arrows of famine to destroy you. The famine will become more and more severe until every crumb of food is gone. 17 And along with the famine, wild animals will attack you and rob you of your children. Disease and war will stalk your land, and I will bring the sword of the enemy against you. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
“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.
“Quirks and flaws, thank God He still loves us all.”
Maybe it’s because I have more time to stay in my head, but lately, I’ve been glaringly aware of my imperfections. Despite my best efforts, I’m not smart enough, not spiritual enough, not wise enough, not nice enough, not content enough, and so on and so on. When you get to that level of stinkin’ thinkin’ (as Joyce Meyer would say) it’s easy to get a ‘why bother’ mentality. No, I am not perfect, and will never be, but that doesn’t make God love me any less. It doesn’t make any of us less cherished by our Father in Heaven. In fact, just look at all of the crazy, flawed, renowned people in the Bible. Those folks had their quirks and flaws, but God loved and delivered them nonetheless.
Maybe it’s just me, but when I think about the many characters’ stories within the Bible, it’s hard not to look up to the people who did great things on behalf of God. Sometimes I forget their humanity and flaws, which is dangerous. That’s because, when you perceive the people in the Bible as perfect or better, we fail to see our similarities and how God can use us as He did them. Think about it, Abraham and Sarah lied about being brother and sister out of fear. David sent a man off to his death just so that he could spend a night with his wife. In spite of their quirks and flaws, we cannot deny the amazing things they did on behalf of Christ.
Obedience over Perfection
The people in the Bible weren’t enough, and yet what miraculous things. were achieved! I don’t acknowledge their flaws to minimize their accomplishments. I mention them to highlight the humanity of their lives. Folks, we’re dumb, prone to sin, lambs who desperately need our Shepherd. Instead of lamenting on the ‘enoughs’ of the world, we should be rejoicing that we aren’t enough, but we serve and are loved by the one who is. This changes the game of perfection to one of obedience. God calls us to obey, not to be perfect, He knows good and well of all the shortcomings and failures that come with a wild bunch of humans. Yet, His love is unfailing and infinite to every one of us. So the next time, you’re feeling the weight of your humanity, give that burden to God and flip open your Bible to see what crazy shenanigans the people before us were getting up to. There’s comfort in knowing the Truth
Are you embracing your quirks and flaws or are you pretending you’re perfect?
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1 This is what the LORD says: “I will stir up a destroyer against Babylon and the people of Babylonia. 2 Foreigners will come and winnow her, blowing her away as chaff. They will come from every side to rise against her in her day of trouble. 3 Don’t let the archers put on their armor or draw their bows. Don’t spare even her best soldiers! Let her army be completely destroyed. 4 They will fall dead in the land of the Babylonians, slashed to death in her streets. 5 For the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has not abandoned Israel and Judah. He is still their God, even though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.” 6 Flee from Babylon! Save yourselves! Don’t get trapped in her punishment! It is the LORD ’s time for vengeance; he will repay her in full. 7 Babylon has been a gold cup in the LORD ’s hands, a cup that made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank Babylon’s wine, and it drove them all mad. 8 But suddenly Babylon, too, has fallen. Weep for her. Give her medicine. Perhaps she can yet be healed. 9 We would have helped her if we could, but nothing can save her now. Let her go; abandon her. Return now to your own land. For her punishment reaches to the heavens; it is so great it cannot be measured. 10 The LORD has vindicated us. Come, let us announce in Jerusalem everything the LORD our God has done. 11 Sharpen the arrows! Lift up the shields! For the LORD has inspired the kings of the Medes to march against Babylon and destroy her. This is his vengeance against those who desecrated his Temple. 12 Raise the battle flag against Babylon! Reinforce the guard and station the watchmen. Prepare an ambush, for the LORD will fulfill all his plans against Babylon. 13 You are a city by a great river, a great center of commerce, but your end has come. The thread of your life is cut. 14 The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has taken this vow and has sworn to it by his own name: “Your cities will be filled with enemies, like fields swarming with locusts, and they will shout in triumph over you.” 15 The LORD made the earth by his power, and he preserves it by his wisdom. With his own understanding he stretched out the heavens. 16 When he speaks in the thunder, the heavens roar with rain. He causes the clouds to rise over the earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses. 17 The whole human race is foolish and has no knowledge! The craftsmen are disgraced by the idols they make, for their carefully shaped works are a fraud. These idols have no breath or power. 18 Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies! On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed. 19 But the God of Israel is no idol! He is the Creator of everything that exists, including his people, his own special possession. The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is his name! 20 “You are my battle-ax and sword,” says the LORD . “With you I will shatter nations and destroy many kingdoms. 21 With you I will shatter armies— destroying the horse and rider, the chariot and charioteer. 22 With you I will shatter men and women, old people and children, young men and young women. 23 With you I will shatter shepherds and flocks, farmers and oxen, captains and officers. 24 “I will repay Babylon and the people of Babylonia for all the wrong they have done to my people in Jerusalem,” says the LORD . 25 “Look, O mighty mountain, destroyer of the earth! I am your enemy,” says the LORD . “I will raise my fist against you, to knock you down from the heights. When I am finished, you will be nothing but a heap of burnt rubble. 26 You will be desolate forever. Even your stones will never again be used for building. You will be completely wiped out,” says the LORD . 27 Raise a signal flag to the nations. Sound the battle cry! Mobilize them all against Babylon. Prepare them to fight against her! Bring out the armies of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz. Appoint a commander, and bring a multitude of horses like swarming locusts! 28 Bring against her the armies of the nations— led by the kings of the Medes and all their captains and officers. 29 The earth trembles and writhes in pain, for everything the LORD has planned against Babylon stands unchanged. Babylon will be left desolate without a single inhabitant. 30 Her mightiest warriors no longer fight. They stay in their barracks, their courage gone. They have become like women. The invaders have burned the houses and broken down the city gates. 31 The news is passed from one runner to the next as the messengers hurry to tell the king that his city has been captured. 32 All the escape routes are blocked. The marshes have been set aflame, and the army is in a panic. 33 This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Babylon is like wheat on a threshing floor, about to be trampled. In just a little while her harvest will begin.” 34 “King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has eaten and crushed us and drained us of strength. He has swallowed us like a great monster and filled his belly with our riches. He has thrown us out of our own country. 35 Make Babylon suffer as she made us suffer,” say the people of Zion. “Make the people of Babylonia pay for spilling our blood,” says Jerusalem. 36 This is what the LORD says to Jerusalem: “I will be your lawyer to plead your case, and I will avenge you. I will dry up her river, as well as her springs, 37 and Babylon will become a heap of ruins, haunted by jackals. She will be an object of horror and contempt, a place where no one lives. 38 Her people will roar together like strong lions. They will growl like lion cubs. 39 And while they lie inflamed with all their wine, I will prepare a different kind of feast for them. I will make them drink until they fall asleep, and they will never wake up again,” says the LORD . 40 “I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams and goats to be sacrificed. 41 “How Babylon is fallen— great Babylon, praised throughout the earth! Now she has become an object of horror among the nations. 42 The sea has risen over Babylon; she is covered by its crashing waves. 43 Her cities now lie in ruins; she is a dry wasteland where no one lives or even passes by. 44 And I will punish Bel, the god of Babylon, and make him vomit up all he has eaten. The nations will no longer come and worship him. The wall of Babylon has fallen! 45 “Come out, my people, flee from Babylon. Save yourselves! Run from the LORD ’s fierce anger. 46 But do not panic; don’t be afraid when you hear the first rumor of approaching forces. For rumors will keep coming year by year. Violence will erupt in the land as the leaders fight against each other. 47 For the time is surely coming when I will punish this great city and all her idols. Her whole land will be disgraced, and her dead will lie in the streets. 48 Then the heavens and earth will rejoice, for out of the north will come destroying armies against Babylon,” says the LORD . 49 “Just as Babylon killed the people of Israel and others throughout the world, so must her people be killed. 50 Get out, all you who have escaped the sword! Do not stand and watch—flee while you can! Remember the LORD, though you are in a far-off land, and think about your home in Jerusalem.” 51 “We are ashamed,” the people say. “We are insulted and disgraced because the LORD ’s Temple has been defiled by foreigners.” 52 “Yes,” says the LORD, “but the time is coming when I will destroy Babylon’s idols. The groans of her wounded people will be heard throughout the land. 53 Though Babylon reaches as high as the heavens and makes her fortifications incredibly strong, I will still send enemies to plunder her. I, the LORD, have spoken! 54 “Listen! Hear the cry of Babylon, the sound of great destruction from the land of the Babylonians. 55 For the LORD is destroying Babylon. He will silence her loud voice. Waves of enemies pound against her; the noise of battle rings through the city. 56 Destroying armies come against Babylon. Her mighty men are captured, and their weapons break in their hands. For the LORD is a God who gives just punishment; he always repays in full. 57 I will make her officials and wise men drunk, along with her captains, officers, and warriors. They will fall asleep and never wake up again!” says the King, whose name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 58 This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “The thick walls of Babylon will be leveled to the ground, and her massive gates will be burned. The builders from many lands have worked in vain, for their work will be destroyed by fire!” 59 The prophet Jeremiah gave this message to Seraiah son of Neriah and grandson of Mahseiah, a staff officer, when Seraiah went to Babylon with King Zedekiah of Judah. This was during the fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign. 60 Jeremiah had recorded on a scroll all the terrible disasters that would soon come upon Babylon—all the words written here. 61 He said to Seraiah, “When you get to Babylon, read aloud everything on this scroll. 62 Then say, ‘ LORD, you have said that you will destroy Babylon so that neither people nor animals will remain here. She will lie empty and abandoned forever.’ 63 When you have finished reading the scroll, tie it to a stone and throw it into the Euphrates River. 64 Then say, ‘In this same way Babylon and her people will sink, never again to rise, because of the disasters I will bring upon her.’” This is the end of Jeremiah’s messages.
“Now that we’re here it’s time to repent and ask for direction from God.”
The chickens have come home to roost and the credit we were extended is now due. It’s harvest time for us all and whatever we’ve sown, we are reaping. However you feel about your portion, well, that’s between you and God. But I will say this, as we are finishing up Jeremiah, there are very real and clear parallels between God’s people then and now. Back then, many chose to ignore wise words and look what happened. Right now, many are oblivious to God and look what’s happening.
No matter what your harvest brings, we all have room in our lives to repent, turn around, and ask God for directions. For too long we’ve coasted on the grace we did not deserve. We’ve allowed foxes into the hen houses, staying quiet because we were unaffected. But now, we’re all affected and there are consequences. Still, God is merciful, which means we must account for our waywardness and ask for forgiveness. We must remember our Father in Heaven and become the people He created us to be. If not, well, finish Jeremiah and see what became of those who ignored him.
Now what will you do now that the party is over?
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1 The following messages were given to Jeremiah the prophet from the LORD concerning foreign nations. 2 This message concerning Egypt was given in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, the king of Judah, on the occasion of the battle of Carchemish when Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt, and his army were defeated beside the Euphrates River by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. 3 “Prepare your shields, and advance into battle! 4 Harness the horses, and mount the stallions. Take your positions. Put on your helmets. Sharpen your spears, and prepare your armor. 5 But what do I see? The Egyptian army flees in terror. The bravest of its fighting men run without a backward glance. They are terrorized at every turn,” says the LORD . 6 “The swiftest runners cannot flee; the mightiest warriors cannot escape. By the Euphrates River to the north, they stumble and fall. 7 “Who is this, rising like the Nile at floodtime, overflowing all the land? 8 It is the Egyptian army, overflowing all the land, boasting that it will cover the earth like a flood, destroying cities and their people. 9 Charge, you horses and chariots; attack, you mighty warriors of Egypt! Come, all you allies from Ethiopia, Libya, and Lydia who are skilled with the shield and bow! 10 For this is the day of the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, a day of vengeance on his enemies. The sword will devour until it is satisfied, yes, until it is drunk with your blood! The Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, will receive a sacrifice today in the north country beside the Euphrates River. 11 “Go up to Gilead to get medicine, O virgin daughter of Egypt! But your many treatments will bring you no healing. 12 The nations have heard of your shame. The earth is filled with your cries of despair. Your mightiest warriors will run into each other and fall down together.” 13 Then the LORD gave the prophet Jeremiah this message about King Nebuchadnezzar’s plans to attack Egypt. 14 “Shout it out in Egypt! Publish it in the cities of Migdol, Memphis, and Tahpanhes! Mobilize for battle, for the sword will devour everyone around you. 15 Why have your warriors fallen? They cannot stand, for the LORD has knocked them down. 16 They stumble and fall over each other and say among themselves, ‘Come, let’s go back to our people, to the land of our birth. Let’s get away from the sword of the enemy!’ 17 There they will say, ‘Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is a loudmouth who missed his opportunity!’ 18 “As surely as I live,” says the King, whose name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “one is coming against Egypt who is as tall as Mount Tabor, or as Mount Carmel by the sea! 19 Pack up! Get ready to leave for exile, you citizens of Egypt! The city of Memphis will be destroyed, without a single inhabitant. 20 Egypt is as sleek as a beautiful heifer, but a horsefly from the north is on its way! 21 Egypt’s mercenaries have become like fattened calves. They, too, will turn and run, for it is a day of great disaster for Egypt, a time of great punishment. 22 Egypt flees, silent as a serpent gliding away. The invading army marches in; they come against her with axes like woodsmen. 23 They will cut down her people like trees,” says the LORD, “for they are more numerous than locusts. 24 Egypt will be humiliated; she will be handed over to people from the north.” 25 The LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “I will punish Amon, the god of Thebes, and all the other gods of Egypt. I will punish its rulers and Pharaoh, too, and all who trust in him. 26 I will hand them over to those who want them killed—to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and his army. But afterward the land will recover from the ravages of war. I, the LORD, have spoken! 27 “But do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel. For I will bring you home again from distant lands, and your children will return from their exile. Israel will return to a life of peace and quiet, and no one will terrorize them. 28 Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, for I am with you,” says the LORD . “I will completely destroy the nations to which I have exiled you, but I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you, but with justice; I cannot let you go unpunished.”
“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.