As humans, our minds are wired to view situations as good or bad, rather than what is. The truth is, it’s all relative. That’s not to take away from tragic situations. Friends, while life may be new to us, trust that God knows exactly what’s going on. More to the point, He turns the faithful’s trials into triumphs.
In your moments of need, they often feel like the end of the world. As you continue your relationship with Christ, reflect on how those trials impacted your walk with Christ. In time you will see God’s hand in the tough times And in that revelation, you begin to understand how He uses all for good.
Are you reflecting on God’s goodness in all things?
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1 The LORD kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2 She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. 3 And Abraham named their son Isaac. 4 Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. 5 Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. 6 And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. 7 Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!” 8 When Isaac grew up and was about to be weaned, Abraham prepared a huge feast to celebrate the occasion. 9 But Sarah saw Ishmael—the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar—making fun of her son, Isaac. 10 So she turned to Abraham and demanded, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won’t have it!” 11 This upset Abraham very much because Ishmael was his son. 12 But God told Abraham, “Do not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. 13 But I will also make a nation of the descendants of Hagar’s son because he is your son, too.” 14 So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba. 15 When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. 16 Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears. 17 But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.” 19 Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink. 20 And God was with the boy as he grew up in the wilderness. He became a skillful archer, 21 and he settled in the wilderness of Paran. His mother arranged for him to marry a woman from the land of Egypt. 22 About this time, Abimelech came with Phicol, his army commander, to visit Abraham. “God is obviously with you, helping you in everything you do,” Abimelech said. 23 “Swear to me in God’s name that you will never deceive me, my children, or any of my descendants. I have been loyal to you, so now swear that you will be loyal to me and to this country where you are living as a foreigner.” 24 Abraham replied, “Yes, I swear to it!” 25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelech about a well that Abimelech’s servants had taken by force from Abraham’s servants. 26 “This is the first I’ve heard of it,” Abimelech answered. “I have no idea who is responsible. You have never complained about this before.” 27 Abraham then gave some of his sheep, goats, and cattle to Abimelech, and they made a treaty. 28 But Abraham also took seven additional female lambs and set them off by themselves. 29 Abimelech asked, “Why have you set these seven apart from the others?” 30 Abraham replied, “Please accept these seven lambs to show your agreement that I dug this well.” 31 Then he named the place Beersheba (which means “well of the oath”), because that was where they had sworn the oath. 32 After making their covenant at Beersheba, Abimelech left with Phicol, the commander of his army, and they returned home to the land of the Philistines. 33 Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he worshiped the LORD, the Eternal God. 34 And Abraham lived as a foreigner in Philistine country for a long time.
“Judge your own fruit to know if you are following God’s will or your own.”
When we enact our own will or produce things out of our own doing, it shows. Sure, we may make progress, but there is always a cost. If you’re run down, robbing Peter to pay Paul, or operating outside of the lines, chances are, you’re flying solo.
God’s will offers us peace, wisdom, love, and grace. It may not be as flashy as our own crooked desires, but it is everlasting, strategic, and it produces good fruit. By following God, we learn how to be continually renewed in the spirit and now by our flesh.
What fruit are you producing?
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1 This message was given to Amos, a shepherd from the town of Tekoa in Judah. He received this message in visions two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam II, the son of Jehoash, was king of Israel. 2 This is what he saw and heard: “The LORD ’s voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem! The lush pastures of the shepherds will dry up; the grass on Mount Carmel will wither and die.” 3 This is what the LORD says: “The people of Damascus have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished! They beat down my people in Gilead as grain is threshed with iron sledges. 4 So I will send down fire on King Hazael’s palace, and the fortresses of King Ben-hadad will be destroyed. 5 I will break down the gates of Damascus and slaughter the people in the valley of Aven. I will destroy the ruler in Beth-eden, and the people of Aram will go as captives to Kir,” says the LORD . 6 This is what the LORD says: “The people of Gaza have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished! They sent whole villages into exile, selling them as slaves to Edom. 7 So I will send down fire on the walls of Gaza, and all its fortresses will be destroyed. 8 I will slaughter the people of Ashdod and destroy the king of Ashkelon. Then I will turn to attack Ekron, and the few Philistines still left will be killed,” says the Sovereign LORD . 9 This is what the LORD says: “The people of Tyre have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished! They broke their treaty of brotherhood with Israel, selling whole villages as slaves to Edom. 10 So I will send down fire on the walls of Tyre, and all its fortresses will be destroyed.” 11 This is what the LORD says: “The people of Edom have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished! They chased down their relatives, the Israelites, with swords, showing them no mercy. In their rage, they slashed them continually and were unrelenting in their anger. 12 So I will send down fire on Teman, and the fortresses of Bozrah will be destroyed.” 13 This is what the LORD says: “The people of Ammon have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished! When they attacked Gilead to extend their borders, they ripped open pregnant women with their swords. 14 So I will send down fire on the walls of Rabbah, and all its fortresses will be destroyed. The battle will come upon them with shouts, like a whirlwind in a mighty storm. 15 And their king and his princes will go into exile together,” says the LORD .
“While you can share the Good News with your peers, it is important that they go fish on their own.”
God does not forge a relationship with you through someone else. Sure, He may have someone tap you on the shoulder, however, the relationship itself is one you must cultivate on your own. That’s because to know God is to spend time with Him of your own volition. A ‘holy’ person cannot create something that only you and God can build.
When you know God well, it’s easy to get caught up in wanting others to know Him too. The reality is, every single person must do the work to build the relationship. Getting to know Christ is an investment that pays infinite dividends. That said, those dividends must be from each individual person. So, if you truly desire to know God, you must go fishing on your own.
Do you know God or are you reading the cliff notes of someone else’s experience?
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1 In my vision, the man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple. There I saw a stream flowing east from beneath the door of the Temple and passing to the right of the altar on its south side. 2 The man brought me outside the wall through the north gateway and led me around to the eastern entrance. There I could see the water flowing out through the south side of the east gateway. 3 Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet and then led me across. The water was up to my ankles. 4 He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist. 5 Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through. 6 He asked me, “Have you been watching, son of man?” Then he led me back along the riverbank. 7 When I returned, I was surprised by the sight of many trees growing on both sides of the river. 8 Then he said to me, “This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. 9 There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows. 10 Fishermen will stand along the shores of the Dead Sea. All the way from En-gedi to En-eglaim, the shores will be covered with nets drying in the sun. Fish of every kind will fill the Dead Sea, just as they fill the Mediterranean. 11 But the marshes and swamps will not be purified; they will still be salty. 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow along both sides of the river. The leaves of these trees will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit on their branches. There will be a new crop every month, for they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple. The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing.” 13 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Divide the land in this way for the twelve tribes of Israel: The descendants of Joseph will be given two shares of land. 14 Otherwise each tribe will receive an equal share. I took a solemn oath and swore that I would give this land to your ancestors, and it will now come to you as your possession. 15 “These are the boundaries of the land: The northern border will run from the Mediterranean toward Hethlon, then on through Lebo-hamath to Zedad; 16 then it will run to Berothah and Sibraim, which are on the border between Damascus and Hamath, and finally to Hazer-hatticon, on the border of Hauran. 17 So the northern border will run from the Mediterranean to Hazar-enan, on the border between Hamath to the north and Damascus to the south. 18 “The eastern border starts at a point between Hauran and Damascus and runs south along the Jordan River between Israel and Gilead, past the Dead Sea and as far south as Tamar. This will be the eastern border. 19 “The southern border will go west from Tamar to the waters of Meribah at Kadesh and then follow the course of the Brook of Egypt to the Mediterranean. This will be the southern border. 20 “On the west side, the Mediterranean itself will be your border from the southern border to the point where the northern border begins, opposite Lebo-hamath. 21 “Divide the land within these boundaries among the tribes of Israel. 22 Distribute the land as an allotment for yourselves and for the foreigners who have joined you and are raising their families among you. They will be like native-born Israelites to you and will receive an allotment among the tribes. 23 These foreigners are to be given land within the territory of the tribe with whom they now live. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!
“Spring to action and focus on God’s plan for you, because focusing on the devil’s distractions is much like being a hamster on a wheel.”
We only have so much time to learn, comprehend, and carry out our plans and assignments. While God is faithful and merciful on deadlines, focus and prioritization are key to completing the objective. By staying wrapped in the word, we eat the good fruit and steer clear of the bad. However, there will be and are times where we find ourselves trapped in the distraction of the opposition.
Though we know what we must do, it’s important to understand how the devil keeps us from fulfilling our destinies. One such tactic is getting us off our path. When we believe or entertain the lies of the enemy, we begin to focus on matters that literally have nothing to do with our goals. Like hamsters on the wheel, we end up mindlessly chasing things, people, trends, money, and the like who have nothing to do with our purpose. If you’re tired of running aimlessly, turn your sights to God to get off of the wheel.
So how do we get off the wheel? We start by forgiving offenses, encouraging our brothers and sisters, reading the Word, and picking up our cross, and walking with Christ. Friends, it’s very easy to get caught up in the busyness of our own plans. Like the hamster on the wheel, we can aimlessly chase for nothing, while wasting time failing to learn the whole Truth. Look to God for a fruitful direction, walk in patience, humility, and forgiveness so that you can continue in progress. By identifying the trap of the hamster wheel, you can avoid the distraction and walk your walk with Christ.
Are you a hamster or a child of God?
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1 “Son of man, prophesy to Israel’s mountains. Give them this message: O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD ! 2 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Your enemies have taunted you, saying, ‘Aha! Now the ancient heights belong to us!’ 3 Therefore, son of man, give the mountains of Israel this message from the Sovereign LORD : Your enemies have attacked you from all directions, making you the property of many nations and the object of much mocking and slander. 4 Therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Sovereign LORD . He speaks to the hills and mountains, ravines and valleys, and to ruined wastes and long-deserted cities that have been destroyed and mocked by the surrounding nations. 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My jealous anger burns against these nations, especially Edom, because they have shown utter contempt for me by gleefully taking my land for themselves as plunder. 6 “Therefore, prophesy to the hills and mountains, the ravines and valleys of Israel. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am furious that you have suffered shame before the surrounding nations. 7 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I have taken a solemn oath that those nations will soon have their own shame to endure. 8 “But the mountains of Israel will produce heavy crops of fruit for my people—for they will be coming home again soon! 9 See, I care about you, and I will pay attention to you. Your ground will be plowed and your crops planted. 10 I will greatly increase the population of Israel, and the ruined cities will be rebuilt and filled with people. 11 I will increase not only the people, but also your animals. O mountains of Israel, I will bring people to live on you once again. I will make you even more prosperous than you were before. Then you will know that I am the LORD . 12 I will cause my people to walk on you once again, and you will be their territory. You will never again rob them of their children. 13 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: The other nations taunt you, saying, ‘Israel is a land that devours its own people and robs them of their children!’ 14 But you will never again devour your people or rob them of their children, says the Sovereign LORD . 15 I will not let you hear those other nations insult you, and you will no longer be mocked by them. You will not be a land that causes its nation to fall, says the Sovereign LORD .” 16 Then this further message came to me from the LORD : 17 “Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by the evil way they lived. To me their conduct was as unclean as a woman’s menstrual cloth. 18 They polluted the land with murder and the worship of idols, so I poured out my fury on them. 19 I scattered them to many lands to punish them for the evil way they had lived. 20 But when they were scattered among the nations, they brought shame on my holy name. For the nations said, ‘These are the people of the LORD, but he couldn’t keep them safe in his own land!’ 21 Then I was concerned for my holy name, on which my people brought shame among the nations. 22 “Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign LORD : I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations. 23 I will show how holy my great name is—the name on which you brought shame among the nations. And when I reveal my holiness through you before their very eyes, says the Sovereign LORD, then the nations will know that I am the LORD . 24 For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land. 25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. 28 “And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will cleanse you of your filthy behavior. I will give you good crops of grain, and I will send no more famines on the land. 30 I will give you great harvests from your fruit trees and fields, and never again will the surrounding nations be able to scoff at your land for its famines. 31 Then you will remember your past sins and despise yourselves for all the detestable things you did. 32 But remember, says the Sovereign LORD, I am not doing this because you deserve it. O my people of Israel, you should be utterly ashamed of all you have done! 33 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: When I cleanse you from your sins, I will repopulate your cities, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34 The fields that used to lie empty and desolate in plain view of everyone will again be farmed. 35 And when I bring you back, people will say, ‘This former wasteland is now like the Garden of Eden! The abandoned and ruined cities now have strong walls and are filled with people!’ 36 Then the surrounding nations that survive will know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruins and replanted the wasteland. For I, the LORD, have spoken, and I will do what I say. 37 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am ready to hear Israel’s prayers and to increase their numbers like a flock. 38 They will be as numerous as the sacred flocks that fill Jerusalem’s streets at the time of her festivals. The ruined cities will be crowded with people once more, and everyone will know that I am the LORD .”
“Stay in the Word to avoid the traps and snares of the world.”
The Bible isn’t something we read to feel superior to nonbelievers. No, it’s literally a how-to guide full of amazing information and insights as to how the world works. The Living Word is applicable to all areas of your life because it espouses Truth that never changes. If you look at the state of the world now, it certainly looks very similar to times in the Bible (read Hosea and Ezekiel, among others). Friends, culture, and society may change, but God does not. God gave us the Bible to use as a tool to aid in navigating our lives in a sin-fallen world.
In the world
When you don’t know what’s in the Bible, the lies and deceit of the world are indiscernible. Without the truth, it is difficult to spot the real from the fake, the truth from the lies. Just look at the world today. Our society thinks that adopting a nice facade is the same thing as being good. For example, if your boss is charming, but cheats you out of an honest wage, are they nice? It is all pretend! The world toils in confusion as many people spout lofty words while operating evil schemes. Worldly people have smiles on their faces while they seek to cause you harm. It’s important to understand this distinction.
If you want to learn how to navigate a fallen world, read the Bible. It teaches us how to deal with corruption, lust, greed, people, you name it, it’s in there. To access the wealth of knowledge we must read it daily. Why? There is a lot of wickedness trying to pass for good in today’s society. If you don’t know how to spot the difference, you are in a world of trouble. Friends, God is not the author of confusion, the enemy is. If you seek to understand and accept the Truth, the Bible will show you everything you need to know.
Are your eyes opened by the Truth or are you trapped in the world?
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1 Again a message came to me from the LORD : 2 “Son of man, you live among rebels who have eyes but refuse to see. They have ears but refuse to hear. For they are a rebellious people. 3 “So now, son of man, pretend you are being sent into exile. Pack the few items an exile could carry, and leave your home to go somewhere else. Do this right in front of the people so they can see you. For perhaps they will pay attention to this, even though they are such rebels. 4 Bring your baggage outside during the day so they can watch you. Then in the evening, as they are watching, leave your house as captives do when they begin a long march to distant lands. 5 Dig a hole through the wall while they are watching and go out through it. 6 As they watch, lift your pack to your shoulders and walk away into the night. Cover your face so you cannot see the land you are leaving. For I have made you a sign for the people of Israel.” 7 So I did as I was told. In broad daylight I brought my pack outside, filled with the things I might carry into exile. Then in the evening while the people looked on, I dug through the wall with my hands and went out into the night with my pack on my shoulder. 8 The next morning this message came to me from the LORD : 9 “Son of man, these rebels, the people of Israel, have asked you what all this means. 10 Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: These actions contain a message for King Zedekiah in Jerusalem and for all the people of Israel.’ 11 Explain that your actions are a sign to show what will soon happen to them, for they will be driven into exile as captives. 12 “Even Zedekiah will leave Jerusalem at night through a hole in the wall, taking only what he can carry with him. He will cover his face, and his eyes will not see the land he is leaving. 13 Then I will throw my net over him and capture him in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Babylonians, though he will never see it, and he will die there. 14 I will scatter his servants and warriors to the four winds and send the sword after them. 15 And when I scatter them among the nations, they will know that I am the LORD . 16 But I will spare a few of them from death by war, famine, or disease, so they can confess all their detestable sins to their captors. Then they will know that I am the LORD .” 17 Then this message came to me from the LORD : 18 “Son of man, tremble as you eat your food. Shake with fear as you drink your water. 19 Tell the people, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says concerning those living in Israel and Jerusalem: They will eat their food with trembling and sip their water in despair, for their land will be stripped bare because of their violence. 20 The cities will be destroyed and the farmland made desolate. Then you will know that I am the LORD .’” 21 Again a message came to me from the LORD : 22 “Son of man, you’ve heard that proverb they quote in Israel: ‘Time passes, and prophecies come to nothing.’ 23 Tell the people, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will put an end to this proverb, and you will soon stop quoting it.’ Now give them this new proverb to replace the old one: ‘The time has come for every prophecy to be fulfilled!’ 24 “There will be no more false visions and flattering predictions in Israel. 25 For I am the LORD ! If I say it, it will happen. There will be no more delays, you rebels of Israel. I will fulfill my threat of destruction in your own lifetime. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!” 26 Then this message came to me from the LORD : 27 “Son of man, the people of Israel are saying, ‘He’s talking about the distant future. His visions won’t come true for a long, long time.’ 28 Therefore, tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: No more delay! I will now do everything I have threatened. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!’”
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.
“Don’t be afraid of the pruning process as God is taking away the unnecessary in order for His good crops to flourish.”
About 2 months ago, I decided to get into gardening. I figured since I couldn’t roam freely outside as I normally do, have a nice little set up on my patio would be a good alternative. In my arsenal, I purchased two jasmine vines. I love jasmine because the smell is so gorgeous and calming. So to have some at my house was great! The first 2 weeks, the plants seemed to be doing well. But then, the flowers starting wilting, the vines hardened, all signs pointed to loss of life.
If you’ve ever cared for plants, watching them struggle is quite a blow to the ego. So, to be proactive, I did my research, to try and see how I could fix the plants. I did a few things to try and revive the plants. One being changing out the soil and making sure it was properly drained. Two being diligent in my watering process. Three, I had to prune the vines, pulling off the dead flowers, removing the dead vines. Of course, pruning seems like an obvious answer, but pruning does not produce immediate results, it takes time.
I’ll admit, after a few weeks of watching my plants struggle, I had designs to toss them and start anew. Problem is, I can’t find jasmine plants anywhere. However, yesterday, as I went out to my patio to inspect my plants, I saw several new vines growing on each plant. This morning, the same thing! You can imagine after what felt like a period of failure and futility, seeing the progress on these plants was such a wonderful feeling. The plants weren’t dead, they just needed time to grow back. As I looked at my plants this morning, I couldn’t help but think about God’s pruning process and what that looks like in our lives.
As we accept Christ into our lives, there are stages that we all enter. The onboarding period is this miraculous and divine experience. We feel like awe and joy of what it means to be saved. Then comes the death of our wayward behavior/lifestyle. This is tough because people tend to identify with their behaviors as if it’s who they are. Then, God removes all of the unnecessary, people, places, things, behaviors, etc. Pruning is painful and it often makes us feel as though we have nothing left or that we’re being punished. But, that is not so!
The pruning process will take us to our breaking points, because it can feel punitive. Walking with God causes us to evaluate how we spend our time and with whom we are doing life with. This means that we have to walk away from the things that stunt our growth. But, when we accept the righteous path, in time we see the miraculous fruit that only God can cultivate in our lives. As I look at the new growth on my plants, I have to laugh at myself. A few days ago, I was ready to toss them out, and now they are growing splendidly. How foolish! Friends, don’t give up in the pruning process because when you feel like it’s time to throw it away, new growth is right around the corner.
Are youallowing the pruning process to produce God’s fruit in your life?
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1 This message was given concerning the Ammonites. This is what the LORD says: “Are there no descendants of Israel to inherit the land of Gad? Why are you, who worship Molech, living in its towns? 2 In the days to come,” says the LORD, “I will sound the battle cry against your city of Rabbah. It will become a desolate heap of ruins, and the neighboring towns will be burned. Then Israel will take back the land you took from her,” says the LORD . 3 “Cry out, O Heshbon, for the town of Ai is destroyed. Weep, O people of Rabbah! Put on your clothes of mourning. Weep and wail, hiding in the hedges, for your god Molech, with his priests and officials, will be hauled off to distant lands. 4 You are proud of your fertile valleys, but they will soon be ruined. You trusted in your wealth, you rebellious daughter, and thought no one could ever harm you. 5 But look! I will bring terror upon you,” says the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “Your neighbors will chase you from your land, and no one will help your exiles as they flee. 6 But I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites in days to come. I, the LORD, have spoken.” 7 This message was given concerning Edom. This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “Is there no wisdom in Teman? Is no one left to give wise counsel? 8 Turn and flee! Hide in deep caves, you people of Dedan! For when I bring disaster on Edom, I will punish you, too! 9 Those who harvest grapes always leave a few for the poor. If thieves came at night, they would not take everything. 10 But I will strip bare the land of Edom, and there will be no place left to hide. Its children, its brothers, and its neighbors will all be destroyed, and Edom itself will be no more. 11 But I will protect the orphans who remain among you. Your widows, too, can depend on me for help.” 12 And this is what the LORD says: “If the innocent must suffer, how much more must you! You will not go unpunished! You must drink this cup of judgment! 13 For I have sworn by my own name,” says the LORD, “that Bozrah will become an object of horror and a heap of ruins; it will be mocked and cursed. All its towns and villages will be desolate forever.” 14 I have heard a message from the LORD that an ambassador was sent to the nations to say, “Form a coalition against Edom, and prepare for battle!” 15 The LORD says to Edom, “I will cut you down to size among the nations. You will be despised by all. 16 You have been deceived by the fear you inspire in others and by your own pride. You live in a rock fortress and control the mountain heights. But even if you make your nest among the peaks with the eagles, I will bring you crashing down,” says the LORD . 17 “Edom will be an object of horror. All who pass by will be appalled and will gasp at the destruction they see there. 18 It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns,” says the LORD . “No one will live there; no one will inhabit it. 19 I will come like a lion from the thickets of the Jordan, leaping on the sheep in the pasture. I will chase Edom from its land, and I will appoint the leader of my choice. For who is like me, and who can challenge me? What ruler can oppose my will?” 20 Listen to the LORD ’s plans against Edom and the people of Teman. Even the little children will be dragged off like sheep, and their homes will be destroyed. 21 The earth will shake with the noise of Edom’s fall, and its cry of despair will be heard all the way to the Red Sea. 22 Look! The enemy swoops down like an eagle, spreading his wings over Bozrah. Even the mightiest warriors will be in anguish like a woman in labor. 23 This message was given concerning Damascus. This is what the LORD says: “The towns of Hamath and Arpad are struck with fear, for they have heard the news of their destruction. Their hearts are troubled like a wild sea in a raging storm. 24 Damascus has become feeble, and all her people turn to flee. Fear, anguish, and pain have gripped her as they grip a woman in labor. 25 That famous city, a city of joy, will be forsaken! 26 Her young men will fall in the streets and die. Her soldiers will all be killed,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 27 “And I will set fire to the walls of Damascus that will burn up the palaces of Ben-hadad.” 28 This message was given concerning Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor, which were attacked by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. This is what the LORD says: “Advance against Kedar! Destroy the warriors from the East! 29 Their flocks and tents will be captured, and their household goods and camels will be taken away. Everywhere shouts of panic will be heard: ‘We are terrorized at every turn!’ 30 Run for your lives,” says the LORD . “Hide yourselves in deep caves, you people of Hazor, for King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has plotted against you and is preparing to destroy you. 31 “Go up and attack that complacent nation,” says the LORD . “Its people live alone in the desert without walls or gates. 32 Their camels and other livestock will all be yours. I will scatter to the winds these people who live in remote places. I will bring calamity upon them from every direction,” says the LORD . 33 “Hazor will be inhabited by jackals, and it will be desolate forever. No one will live there; no one will inhabit it.” 34 This message concerning Elam came to the prophet Jeremiah from the LORD at the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah. 35 This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “I will destroy the archers of Elam— the best of their forces. 36 I will bring enemies from all directions, and I will scatter the people of Elam to the four winds. They will be exiled to countries around the world. 37 I myself will go with Elam’s enemies to shatter it. In my fierce anger, I will bring great disaster upon the people of Elam,” says the LORD . “Their enemies will chase them with the sword until I have destroyed them completely. 38 I will set my throne in Elam,” says the LORD, “and I will destroy its king and officials. 39 But I will restore the fortunes of Elam in days to come. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
“Examine how you spend your work hours because some work isn’t work at all.”~TB
You can stay busy and still be off task, not completing your assignment. This world is ripe for distraction, disruption, and the like, so an undisciplined worker doesn’t need much help in wasting their time. The guise of being busy is a great smokescreen to make you appear to be more productive that you actually are, but the results of your harvest will always tell the truth.
You can’t engage in wasted work and expect a positive outcome come harvest time. Sure, in your mind you worked hard, but all of the “work” did not produce any fruit! If you’re harvest is sparse, ask God on how to change your work ethic so that the next harvest will reap better results. Wasted work is a trap in the mind that keeps you from completing your assignments. Don’t fall for the trap. Work honestly and humbling to avoid wasted work.
Are you working hard or hardly working?
Enjoy the reading.
1A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume. And the day you die is better than the day you are born.
2Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies— so the living should take this to heart.
3Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.
4A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time.
5Better to be criticized by a wise person than to be praised by a fool.
6A fool’s laughter is quickly gone, like thorns crackling in a fire. This also is meaningless.
7Extortion turns wise people into fools, and bribes corrupt the heart.
8Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.
9Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool.
10Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise.
11Wisdom is even better when you have money. Both are a benefit as you go through life.
12Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life.
13Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked?
14Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life.
15I have seen everything in this meaningless life, including the death of good young people and the long life of wicked people.
16So don’t be too good or too wise! Why destroy yourself?
17On the other hand, don’t be too wicked either. Don’t be a fool! Why die before your time?
18Pay attention to these instructions, for anyone who fears God will avoid both extremes.
19One wise person is stronger than ten leading citizens of a town!
20Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.
21Don’t eavesdrop on others—you may hear your servant curse you.
22For you know how often you yourself have cursed others.
23I have always tried my best to let wisdom guide my thoughts and actions. I said to myself, “I am determined to be wise.” But it didn’t work.
24Wisdom is always distant and difficult to find.
25I searched everywhere, determined to find wisdom and to understand the reason for things. I was determined to prove to myself that wickedness is stupid and that foolishness is madness.
26I discovered that a seductive woman is a trap more bitter than death. Her passion is a snare, and her soft hands are chains. Those who are pleasing to God will escape her, but sinners will be caught in her snare.
27“This is my conclusion,” says the Teacher. “I discovered this after looking at the matter from every possible angle.
28Though I have searched repeatedly, I have not found what I was looking for. Only one out of a thousand men is virtuous, but not one woman!
29But I did find this: God created people to be virtuous, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path.”
“People who stink may use their dirty laundry as a deterrent, to keep you from noticing their dirty room, car, house, habits, evil ways, bad people skills, and inadequate hygiene.” ~ Jon Barnes
There is always room for growth with cleaning up your own dirty laundry, mouth, mind, body, and soul. Each day we should repent of our funky behavior, ways, ideas, mind, heart, body, and soul like actions that are not consistent with God’s message. There is always room for improvement. I remain humbled and vigilant by this statement and I encourage you all to do the same. You only have enough time and energy to clean up your own room.
We can inspire others to keep their rooms, minds, bodies, souls, and the likes clean, but they must use their energy to do their own work for themselves. Daily upkeep requires more than just a little help from family and friends. You must want to improve your life for yourself and begin inspiring your children, family, and friends as well. Unorganized, lazy behavior is no excuse for dirtiness in your life. Inspire yourself and clean as you go.Change your stinking ways into fruitful actions of the Spirit.
Your next step should not be over your slop, clothes, trash, junk, pet poop, urine, paper, garbage, or other things that are out of place. Imagine your palace in Heaven and how you would take care of it. Do you think that God will allow you to be a slob in Heaven? Then, fix your personal problems of disobedience now.Why wait? Become the best you can be today. This is your next step and goal. Practice clean gospel thinking, living, loving, sharing, and caring with honesty, conviction, humility, mercy, kindness, long-suffering, balance, and real effort.
Is it hard to practice what you preach with the fruit of the Spirit in God?
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1 Kings 22
Micaiah Prophesies Against Ahab
22 For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel.2 But in the third year Jehoshaphat king of Judah went down to see the king of Israel.3 The king of Israel had said to his officials, “Don’t you know that Ramoth Gilead belongs to us and yet we are doing nothing to retake it from the king of Aram?”
4 So he asked Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to fight against Ramoth Gilead?”
Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”5 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of the Lord.”
6 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”
“Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”
7 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?”
8 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”
“The king should not say such a thing,” Jehoshaphat replied.
9 So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once.”
10 Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them.11 Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, “This is what the Lord says: ‘With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.’”
12 All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”
13 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.”
14 But Micaiah said, “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.”
15 When he arrived, the king asked him, “Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or not?”
“Attack and be victorious,” he answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”
16 The king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?”
17 Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’”
18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”
19 Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left.20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’
“One suggested this, and another that.21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’
22 “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked.
“‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.
“‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’
23 “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”
24 Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. “Which way did the spirit from[a] the Lord go when he went from me to speak to you?” he asked.
25 Micaiah replied, “You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room.”
26 The king of Israel then ordered, “Take Micaiah and send him back to Amon the ruler of the city and to Joash the king’s son27 and say, ‘This is what the king says: Put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.’”
28 Micaiah declared, “If you ever return safely, the Lord has not spoken through me.” Then he added, “Mark my words, all you people!”
Ahab Killed at Ramoth Gilead
29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead.30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will enter the battle in disguise, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.
31 Now the king of Aram had ordered his thirty-two chariot commanders, “Do not fight with anyone, small or great, except the king of Israel.”32 When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they thought, “Surely this is the king of Israel.” So they turned to attack him, but when Jehoshaphat cried out,33 the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel and stopped pursuing him.
34 But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor. The king told his chariot driver, “Wheel around and get me out of the fighting. I’ve been wounded.”35 All day long the battle raged, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans. The blood from his wound ran onto the floor of the chariot, and that evening he died.36 As the sun was setting, a cry spread through the army: “Every man to his town. Every man to his land!”
37 So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried him there.38 They washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria (where the prostitutes bathed),[b] and the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the Lord had declared.
39 As for the other events of Ahab’s reign, including all he did, the palace he built and adorned with ivory, and the cities he fortified, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?40 Ahab rested with his ancestors. And Ahaziah his son succeeded him as king.
Jehoshaphat King of Judah
41 Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king of Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel.42 Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-five years. His mother’s name was Azubah daughter of Shilhi.43 In everything he followed the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. The high places, however, were not removed, and the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.[c]44 Jehoshaphat was also at peace with the king of Israel.
45 As for the other events of Jehoshaphat’s reign, the things he achieved and his military exploits, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?46 He rid the land of the rest of the male shrine prostitutes who remained there even after the reign of his father Asa.47 There was then no king in Edom; a provincial governor ruled.
48 Now Jehoshaphat built a fleet of trading ships[d] to go to Ophir for gold, but they never set sail—they were wrecked at Ezion Geber.49 At that time Ahaziah son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my men sail with yours,” but Jehoshaphat refused.
50 Then Jehoshaphat rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the city of David his father. And Jehoram his son succeeded him as king.
Ahaziah King of Israel
51 Ahaziah son of Ahab became king of Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years.52 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, because he followed the ways of his father and mother and of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin.53 He served and worshiped Baal and aroused the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, just as his father had done.
“Great things happen when you look for the fruit God wants you to eat and share with others each day.” ~ Jon Barnes
Pause to relax, rest, feel, listen, touch, taste and look at what God is doing in the lives of people all around you and enjoy the part that you share with excellence, humility, and power. The simplicity of love with no strings attached can be felt by others with minimal effort. Wickedness runs in the other direction when God’s presence is near because God will shut down the practices of evil people for His purpose and cheer. Pause and make sure you are operating in God’s Purpose and not just your own power. Stop, relax, and think to see what you are doing this very hour.
Taking notes and following up on your good work is a character reflection upon your quality work ethic, delivery, and mastery of your craft. The skills you develop from working for God are amazing and should not be taken for granted. All the good you do today will come back to you. Even the wicked evil things that you should not do. Take the time to stop and reflect on the things you should do. Always remember based on your motives, the things you think, say, and do, your dreams may come true.
The sum of all your parts makes your whole, so don’t forget to pray, meditate, and ask God for help in completing your goals. As I balance my time, I don’t seem to mind helping a few along the way. Try to put your hands on all the good things to do, and your day will flow quickly to the end. God can see all of your good deeds, so follow His Ways until the end.
Are your eating a balanced meal with fruit and vegetables to keep your energy and outlook up?
Enjoy The Reading
1 Kings 14
Ahijah’s Prophecy against Jeroboam
14 At that time Jeroboam’s son Abijah became very sick.2 So Jeroboam told his wife, “Disguise yourself so that no one will recognize you as my wife. Then go to the prophet Ahijah at Shiloh—the man who told me I would become king.3 Take him a gift of ten loaves of bread, some cakes, and a jar of honey, and ask him what will happen to the boy.”
4 So Jeroboam’s wife went to Ahijah’s home at Shiloh. He was an old man now and could no longer see.5 But the Lord had told Ahijah, “Jeroboam’s wife will come here, pretending to be someone else. She will ask you about her son, for he is very sick. Give her the answer I give you.”
6 So when Ahijah heard her footsteps at the door, he called out, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam! Why are you pretending to be someone else?” Then he told her, “I have bad news for you.7 Give your husband, Jeroboam, this message from the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘I promoted you from the ranks of the common people and made you ruler over my people Israel.8 I ripped the kingdom away from the family of David and gave it to you. But you have not been like my servant David, who obeyed my commands and followed me with all his heart and always did whatever I wanted.9 You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made other gods for yourself and have made me furious with your gold calves. And since you have turned your back on me,10 I will bring disaster on your dynasty and will destroy every one of your male descendants, slave and free alike, anywhere in Israel. I will burn up your royal dynasty as one burns up trash until it is all gone.11 The members of Jeroboam’s family who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and those who die in the field will be eaten by vultures. I, the Lord, have spoken.’”
12 Then Ahijah said to Jeroboam’s wife, “Go on home, and when you enter the city, the child will die.13 All Israel will mourn for him and bury him. He is the only member of your family who will have a proper burial, for this child is the only good thing that the Lord, the God of Israel, sees in the entire family of Jeroboam.
14 “In addition, the Lord will raise up a king over Israel who will destroy the family of Jeroboam. This will happen today, even now!15 Then the Lord will shake Israel like a reed whipped about in a stream. He will uproot the people of Israel from this good land that he gave their ancestors and will scatter them beyond the Euphrates River,[a] for they have angered the Lord with the Asherah poles they have set up for worship.16 He will abandon Israel because Jeroboam sinned and made Israel sin along with him.”
17 So Jeroboam’s wife returned to Tirzah, and the child died just as she walked through the door of her home.18 And all Israel buried him and mourned for him, as the Lord had promised through the prophet Ahijah.
19 The rest of the events in Jeroboam’s reign, including all his wars and how he ruled, are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel.20 Jeroboam reigned in Israel twenty-two years. When Jeroboam died, his son Nadab became the next king.
Rehoboam Rules in Judah
21 Meanwhile, Rehoboam son of Solomon was king in Judah. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the Lord had chosen from among all the tribes of Israel as the place to honor his name. Rehoboam’s mother was Naamah, an Ammonite woman.
22 During Rehoboam’s reign, the people of Judah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, provoking his anger with their sin, for it was even worse than that of their ancestors.23 For they also built for themselves pagan shrines and set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree.24 There were even male and female shrine prostitutes throughout the land. The people imitated the detestable practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.
25 In the fifth year of King Rehoboam’s reign, King Shishak of Egypt came up and attacked Jerusalem.26 He ransacked the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple and the royal palace; he stole everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made.27 King Rehoboam later replaced them with bronze shields as substitutes, and he entrusted them to the care of the commanders of the guard who protected the entrance to the royal palace.28 Whenever the king went to the Temple of the Lord, the guards would also take the shields and then return them to the guardroom.
29 The rest of the events in Rehoboam’s reign and everything he did are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah.30 There was constant war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam.31 When Rehoboam died, he was buried among his ancestors in the City of David. His mother was Naamah, an Ammonite woman. Then his son Abijam[b] became the next king.