Hands Off, Handoff

Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“We must take our hands off the things we can’t control and give them the handoff to God.”

TB

Hands Off

Admittedly, though I like to believe that I’m laid-back, I am a low-key control freak, obsessed over the things I cannot control. In my brain, I see the many inefficiencies in life and if I could just get my hands on it, things would be much better (arrogant much?). As such, the things I do have control over tend to be neglected. I’m sure many of us are like that to some degree. The ironic thing is that God is looking at us to put our hands on the things we are meant to be obedient with, while keeping our hands off on the areas where only He can make the difference. This is where trust and obedience really come into play. When we trust that God is sovereign, we can more easily hand off the matters that really aren’t our own.

Handoff

Obsessing over the things we cannot control in our lives is an unnecessary burden. All it does is cause us to remain stuck in neutral, feeling frustrated and hopeless. Friends, the devil likes us to be in this position because when we are preoccupied with what we can’t do, we aren’t doing the things we can do. For example, I forgot to post yesterday because I was focused on a myriad of things that are out of my control to fix. So rather than share the Good News, I stewed in my own thoughts. I share this so that you can look at your own lives and examine what needs to be handed off to God. Friends, our lives aren’t meant to feel burdened, hopeless, or overwhelming. We have to relent and give God control otherwise we end up needlessly stuck in neutral.

Today’s Question

Are you ready to let God be God in your life?

Enjoy the reading

Jeremiah 50

1 The LORD gave Jeremiah the prophet this message concerning Babylon and the land of the Babylonians. 2 This is what the LORD says: “Tell the whole world, and keep nothing back. Raise a signal flag to tell everyone that Babylon will fall! Her images and idols will be shattered. Her gods Bel and Marduk will be utterly disgraced. 3 For a nation will attack her from the north and bring such destruction that no one will live there again. Everything will be gone; both people and animals will flee. 4 “In those coming days,” says the LORD, “the people of Israel will return home together with the people of Judah. They will come weeping and seeking the LORD their God. 5 They will ask the way to Jerusalem and will start back home again. They will bind themselves to the LORD with an eternal covenant that will never be forgotten. 6 “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray and turned them loose in the mountains. They have lost their way and can’t remember how to get back to the sheepfold. 7 All who found them devoured them. Their enemies said, ‘We did nothing wrong in attacking them, for they sinned against the LORD, their true place of rest, and the hope of their ancestors.’ 8 “But now, flee from Babylon! Leave the land of the Babylonians. Like male goats at the head of the flock, lead my people home again. 9 For I am raising up an army of great nations from the north. They will join forces to attack Babylon, and she will be captured. The enemies’ arrows will go straight to the mark; they will not miss! 10 Babylonia will be looted until the attackers are glutted with loot. I, the LORD, have spoken! 11 “You rejoice and are glad, you who plundered my chosen people. You frisk about like a calf in a meadow and neigh like a stallion. 12 But your homeland will be overwhelmed with shame and disgrace. You will become the least of nations— a wilderness, a dry and desolate land. 13 Because of the LORD ’s anger, Babylon will become a deserted wasteland. All who pass by will be horrified and will gasp at the destruction they see there. 14 “Yes, prepare to attack Babylon, all you surrounding nations. Let your archers shoot at her; spare no arrows. For she has sinned against the LORD . 15 Shout war cries against her from every side. Look! She surrenders! Her walls have fallen. It is the LORD ’s vengeance, so take vengeance on her. Do to her as she has done to others! 16 Take from Babylon all those who plant crops; send all the harvesters away. Because of the sword of the enemy, everyone will run away and rush back to their own lands. 17 “The Israelites are like sheep that have been scattered by lions. First the king of Assyria ate them up. Then King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon cracked their bones.” 18 Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Now I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, just as I punished the king of Assyria. 19 And I will bring Israel home again to its own land, to feed in the fields of Carmel and Bashan, and to be satisfied once more in the hill country of Ephraim and Gilead. 20 In those days,” says the LORD, “no sin will be found in Israel or in Judah, for I will forgive the remnant I preserve. 21 “Go up, my warriors, against the land of Merathaim and against the people of Pekod. Pursue, kill, and completely destroy them, as I have commanded you,” says the LORD . 22 “Let the battle cry be heard in the land, a shout of great destruction. 23 Babylon, the mightiest hammer in all the earth, lies broken and shattered. Babylon is desolate among the nations! 24 Listen, Babylon, for I have set a trap for you. You are caught, for you have fought against the LORD . 25 The LORD has opened his armory and brought out weapons to vent his fury. The terror that falls upon the Babylonians will be the work of the Sovereign LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 26 Yes, come against her from distant lands. Break open her granaries. Crush her walls and houses into heaps of rubble. Destroy her completely, and leave nothing! 27 Destroy even her young bulls— it will be terrible for them, too! Slaughter them all! For Babylon’s day of reckoning has come. 28 Listen to the people who have escaped from Babylon, as they tell in Jerusalem how the LORD our God has taken vengeance against those who destroyed his Temple. 29 “Send out a call for archers to come to Babylon. Surround the city so none can escape. Do to her as she has done to others, for she has defied the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. 30 Her young men will fall in the streets and die. Her soldiers will all be killed,” says the LORD . 31 “See, I am your enemy, you arrogant people,” says the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “Your day of reckoning has arrived— the day when I will punish you. 32 O land of arrogance, you will stumble and fall, and no one will raise you up. For I will light a fire in the cities of Babylon that will burn up everything around them.” 33 This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “The people of Israel and Judah have been wronged. Their captors hold them and refuse to let them go. 34 But the one who redeems them is strong. His name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. He will defend them and give them rest again in Israel. But for the people of Babylon there will be no rest! 35 “The sword of destruction will strike the Babylonians,” says the LORD . “It will strike the people of Babylon— her officials and wise men, too. 36 The sword will strike her wise counselors, and they will become fools. The sword will strike her mightiest warriors, and panic will seize them. 37 The sword will strike her horses and chariots and her allies from other lands, and they will all become like women. The sword will strike her treasures, and they all will be plundered. 38 A drought will strike her water supply, causing it to dry up. And why? Because the whole land is filled with idols, and the people are madly in love with them. 39 “Soon Babylon will be inhabited by desert animals and hyenas. It will be a home for owls. Never again will people live there; it will lie desolate forever. 40 I will destroy it as I destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns,” says the LORD . “No one will live there; no one will inhabit it. 41 “Look! A great army is coming from the north. A great nation and many kings are rising against you from far-off lands. 42 They are armed with bows and spears. They are cruel and show no mercy. As they ride forward on horses, they sound like a roaring sea. They are coming in battle formation, planning to destroy you, Babylon. 43 The king of Babylon has heard reports about the enemy, and he is weak with fright. Pangs of anguish have gripped him, like those of a woman in labor. 44 “I will come like a lion from the thickets of the Jordan, leaping on the sheep in the pasture. I will chase Babylon 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?” 45 Listen to the LORD ’s plans against Babylon and the land of the Babylonians. Even the little children will be dragged off like sheep, and their homes will be destroyed. 46 The earth will shake with the shout, “Babylon has been taken!” and its cry of despair will be heard around the world.

Action Jackson

Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Be quick to handle assignments that God has given you.”

TB

On High

Notice the plans, dreams, and goals that God places in your heart. Often time they seem wildly progressive and beyond our scope of the imagination. But, if the Bible is any indication that what God’s desire for us is great, we should be quick to listen, accept, and obey the directives, jumping into action with what He’s planned for us. While it’s important to confirm that our steps are aligned with His plan, there’s only so much research one can do before we must get to work.

Wild Ride

Get ready for the incredible journey that is leading a Christ-filled life. Compared to the lies and handcuffs of the natural world, God’s plan seems perplexing and impossible. But friends, ask yourself this, why is it so easy to accept a life of bondage and enslavement? Surely God does not want His people to be at the mercy of people, places, or things. In order to step into the ways of Christ, we first must reject the corrupt and evil practices set in place. To do that successfully, we must quickly and faithfully jump into action, working on the mission that God has assigned you. One step at a time, you will find that His way makes way more sense than the foolish plans of man.

Today’s Question

Are you fulfilling your assignment?

Enjoy the reading

Jeremiah 47

1 This is the LORD ’s message to the prophet Jeremiah concerning the Philistines of Gaza, before it was captured by the Egyptian army. 2 This is what the LORD says: “A flood is coming from the north to overflow the land. It will destroy the land and everything in it— cities and people alike. People will scream in terror, and everyone in the land will wail. 3 Hear the clatter of stallions’ hooves and the rumble of wheels as the chariots rush by. Terrified fathers run madly, without a backward glance at their helpless children. 4 “The time has come for the Philistines to be destroyed, along with their allies from Tyre and Sidon. Yes, the LORD is destroying the remnant of the Philistines, those colonists from the island of Crete. 5 Gaza will be humiliated, its head shaved bald; Ashkelon will lie silent. You remnant from the Mediterranean coast, how long will you cut yourselves in mourning? 6 “Now, O sword of the LORD, when will you be at rest again? Go back into your sheath; rest and be still. 7 “But how can it be still when the LORD has sent it on a mission? For the city of Ashkelon and the people living along the sea must be destroyed.”

Now What

Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Now that we’re here it’s time to repent and ask for direction from God.”

TB

Pay Attention

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.

Repent

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.

Today’s Question

Now what will you do now that the party is over?

Enjoy the reading

Jeremiah 46

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.”

Encouragement

Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Take time to encourage one another so that we may all run the race well.”

TB

Progress

My father and I share the same trait of continued progression. Something can always be improved on and learning is continuous and ever-evolving. While this isn’t inherently a bad thing, if you stay in the weeds for too long, all you begin to see are the incomplete items on your progress list, failing to appreciate all that you have accomplished. This myopic look can bring discouragement and a false narrative that can cause us to stumble. For this reason, we must stop and encourage each other for the good work that we are doing.

Build Up

This morning, as I was having my usual conversation with my dad, it dawned on me to encourage him as he often encourages me. Sometimes we get so desensitized to the good works of our family, friends, and peers that we fail to recognize their efforts. An encouraging word is like a cool glass of water to a parched runner. We all need the occasional ‘great job’ every now and then. So friends, when you have the chance, let’s build up our brothers and sisters in Christ. When you see great work that honors our Father in Heaven, stop and take the time to say something. That’s also part of sharing the Good News.

Today’s Question

Are we encouraging each other as Christ encourages us?

Jeremiah 44

1 This is the message Jeremiah received concerning the Judeans living in northern Egypt in the cities of Migdol, Tahpanhes, and Memphis, and in southern Egypt as well: 2 “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: You saw the calamity I brought on Jerusalem and all the towns of Judah. They now lie deserted and in ruins. 3 They provoked my anger with all their wickedness. They burned incense and worshiped other gods—gods that neither they nor you nor any of your ancestors had ever even known. 4 “Again and again I sent my servants, the prophets, to plead with them, ‘Don’t do these horrible things that I hate so much.’ 5 But my people would not listen or turn back from their wicked ways. They kept on burning incense to these gods. 6 And so my fury boiled over and fell like fire on the towns of Judah and into the streets of Jerusalem, and they are still a desolate ruin today. 7 “And now the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, asks you: Why are you destroying yourselves? For not one of you will survive—not a man, woman, or child among you who has come here from Judah, not even the babies in your arms. 8 Why provoke my anger by burning incense to the idols you have made here in Egypt? You will only destroy yourselves and make yourselves an object of cursing and mockery for all the nations of the earth. 9 Have you forgotten the sins of your ancestors, the sins of the kings and queens of Judah, and the sins you and your wives committed in Judah and Jerusalem? 10 To this very hour you have shown no remorse or reverence. No one has chosen to follow my word and the decrees I gave to you and your ancestors before you. 11 “Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to destroy every one of you! 12 I will take this remnant of Judah—those who were determined to come here and live in Egypt—and I will consume them. They will fall here in Egypt, killed by war and famine. All will die, from the least to the greatest. They will be an object of damnation, horror, cursing, and mockery. 13 I will punish them in Egypt just as I punished them in Jerusalem, by war, famine, and disease. 14 Of that remnant who fled to Egypt, hoping someday to return to Judah, there will be no survivors. Even though they long to return home, only a handful will do so.” 15 Then all the women present and all the men who knew that their wives had burned incense to idols—a great crowd of all the Judeans living in northern Egypt and southern Egypt —answered Jeremiah, 16 “We will not listen to your messages from the LORD ! 17 We will do whatever we want. We will burn incense and pour out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven just as much as we like—just as we, and our ancestors, and our kings and officials have always done in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For in those days we had plenty to eat, and we were well off and had no troubles! 18 But ever since we quit burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and stopped worshiping her with liquid offerings, we have been in great trouble and have been dying from war and famine.” 19 “Besides,” the women added, “do you suppose that we were burning incense and pouring out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven, and making cakes marked with her image, without our husbands knowing it and helping us? Of course not!” 20 Then Jeremiah said to all of them, men and women alike, who had given him that answer, 21 “Do you think the LORD did not know that you and your ancestors, your kings and officials, and all the people were burning incense to idols in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 22 It was because the LORD could no longer bear all the disgusting things you were doing that he made your land an object of cursing—a desolate ruin without inhabitants—as it is today. 23 All these terrible things happened to you because you have burned incense to idols and sinned against the LORD . You have refused to obey him and have not followed his instructions, his decrees, and his laws.” 24 Then Jeremiah said to them all, including the women, “Listen to this message from the LORD, all you citizens of Judah who live in Egypt. 25 This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘You and your wives have said, “We will keep our promises to burn incense and pour out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven,” and you have proved by your actions that you meant it. So go ahead and carry out your promises and vows to her!’ 26 “But listen to this message from the LORD, all you Judeans now living in Egypt: ‘I have sworn by my great name,’ says the LORD, ‘that my name will no longer be spoken by any of the Judeans in the land of Egypt. None of you may invoke my name or use this oath: “As surely as the Sovereign LORD lives.” 27 For I will watch over you to bring you disaster and not good. Everyone from Judah who is now living in Egypt will suffer war and famine until all of you are dead. 28 Only a small number will escape death and return to Judah from Egypt. Then all those who came to Egypt will find out whose words are true—mine or theirs! 29 “‘And this is the proof I give you,’ says the LORD, ‘that all I have threatened will happen to you and that I will punish you here.’ 30 This is what the LORD says: ‘I will turn Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, over to his enemies who want to kill him, just as I turned King Zedekiah of Judah over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.’”

Enjoy the reading

Prioritize and Organize

Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Prioritize your relationship with God and His wisdom will organize your life.”

TB

Priority

I’m going to come right out and say it, for me, organization, lists, schedules, etc. are not my cup of tea. I’m firmly rooted in the ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ camp. That said, in the nature of my work, I’ve begun to realize that without some organization, or prioritization, I cannot be successful in all of the endeavors in my life. I’ve slowly but surely started adopting more rules and schedules within my life (I can feel my mother smiling at the thought of rules, ha). Funnily enough, I would not have made that connection by listening to the gently and careful advice of God.

Organization

Spending time with God each day is like getting master tips on organization for your mind, body, and spirit. In that quiet place where you sit, speak, and listen, He will share with you the ultimate organizational tips specific for the growth and change for your life. As we all learn to mirror Christ and leave our fleshly comforts, ideas, and harebrained schemes behind, the path becomes clearer and more manageable to navigate. Make no mistake that it does become narrower which is why it seems less traveled than the roads of your past. But, if you make that relational time with God a priority, He will help you organize the rest.

Today’s Question

Are you prioritizing the Organizational Tools of Christ or is following the disorganized destruction of the world your preferred path?

Enjoy the reading

Jeremiah

1 In January of the ninth year of King Zedekiah’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with his entire army to besiege Jerusalem. 2 Two and a half years later, on July 18 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, a section of the city wall was broken down. 3 All the officers of the Babylonian army came in and sat in triumph at the Middle Gate: Nergal-sharezer of Samgar, and Nebo-sarsekim, a chief officer, and Nergal-sharezer, the king’s adviser, and all the other officers of the king of Babylon. 4 When King Zedekiah of Judah and all the soldiers saw that the Babylonians had broken into the city, they fled. They waited for nightfall and then slipped through the gate between the two walls behind the king’s garden and headed toward the Jordan Valley. 5 But the Babylonian troops chased them and overtook Zedekiah on the plains of Jericho. They captured him and took him to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who was at Riblah in the land of Hamath. There the king of Babylon pronounced judgment upon Zedekiah. 6 The king of Babylon made Zedekiah watch as he slaughtered his sons at Riblah. The king of Babylon also slaughtered all the nobles of Judah. 7 Then he gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him in bronze chains to lead him away to Babylon. 8 Meanwhile, the Babylonians burned Jerusalem, including the royal palace and the houses of the people, and they tore down the walls of the city. 9 Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took as exiles to Babylon the rest of the people who remained in the city, those who had defected to him, and everyone else who remained. 10 But Nebuzaradan allowed some of the poorest people to stay behind in the land of Judah, and he assigned them to care for the vineyards and fields. 11 King Nebuchadnezzar had told Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, to find Jeremiah. 12 “See that he isn’t hurt,” he said. “Look after him well, and give him anything he wants.” 13 So Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard; Nebushazban, a chief officer; Nergal-sharezer, the king’s adviser; and the other officers of Babylon’s king 14 sent messengers to bring Jeremiah out of the prison. They put him under the care of Gedaliah son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, who took him back to his home. So Jeremiah stayed in Judah among his own people. 15 The LORD had given the following message to Jeremiah while he was still in prison: 16 “Say to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will do to this city everything I have threatened. I will send disaster, not prosperity. You will see its destruction, 17 but I will rescue you from those you fear so much. 18 Because you trusted me, I will give you your life as a reward. I will rescue you and keep you safe. I, the LORD, have spoken!’”

One Thing

Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Thank God that He does not see us as just one thing.”

~TB

Continuous

Life is a continuous journey that has different acts, seasons, treasons, and reasons, come what may. To that end, I’ve lived long enough to know that we all have various roles in our own stories. There are times where we are the protagonist– the good guy. There are times where we are the antagonist– the bad guy. Hopefully, at some point, you get the memo from God to learn how to find the happy ending to your story–salvation. Even though we wear many different hats in our lives, and the road changes often, we are never just good or bad. Sometimes we win, and sometimes, well… thank God for mercy and grace! My point is, we cannot judge each other as just one thing, one moment in time, or one character. Even further, when you trap a person into one thing, you are trapping yourself to the same fate.

Constant

Because God’s love for us is constant, we can rest assured that as we change, He still loves us no matter which character we are portraying. This means that when we’re on point or when we’re in the gutter, His love remains. In 30 years, I cannot say that I am the same person I was 20 years ago, well, even 2 years ago! I’ve played the protagonist very well, and I’ve had some minor antagonist roles as well. I thank God that He has given me wonderful examples so that my antagonist roles were shorter than they could’ve been. And because I’ve had the grace of being more than one thing, it’s my responsibility to share that grace with you. We all are loved by God in whatever part of the story we’re in. For those who understand this, we must work hard not to judge those who do not. And remember, just because you’re the ‘good guy’, it does not give you license to judge or condemn the ‘bad guy’ because, in life, everyone played every role at least once.

Today’s Question

Are you giving your brothers and sisters the chance to play different roles, or is your judgment better than God’s?

Enjoy the reading

Jeremiah 38

1 Now Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah had been telling the people. He had been saying, 2 “This is what the LORD says: ‘Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who surrender to the Babylonians will live. Their reward will be life. They will live!’ 3 The LORD also says: ‘The city of Jerusalem will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.’” 4 So these officials went to the king and said, “Sir, this man must die! That kind of talk will undermine the morale of the few fighting men we have left, as well as that of all the people. This man is a traitor!” 5 King Zedekiah agreed. “All right,” he said. “Do as you like. I can’t stop you.” 6 So the officials took Jeremiah from his cell and lowered him by ropes into an empty cistern in the prison yard. It belonged to Malkijah, a member of the royal family. There was no water in the cistern, but there was a thick layer of mud at the bottom, and Jeremiah sank down into it. 7 But Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, an important court official, heard that Jeremiah was in the cistern. At that time the king was holding court at the Benjamin Gate, 8 so Ebed-melech rushed from the palace to speak with him. 9 “My lord the king,” he said, “these men have done a very evil thing in putting Jeremiah the prophet into the cistern. He will soon die of hunger, for almost all the bread in the city is gone.” 10 So the king told Ebed-melech, “Take thirty of my men with you, and pull Jeremiah out of the cistern before he dies.” 11 So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to a room in the palace beneath the treasury, where he found some old rags and discarded clothing. He carried these to the cistern and lowered them to Jeremiah on a rope. 12 Ebed-melech called down to Jeremiah, “Put these rags under your armpits to protect you from the ropes.” Then when Jeremiah was ready, 13 they pulled him out. So Jeremiah was returned to the courtyard of the guard—the palace prison—where he remained. 14 One day King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah and had him brought to the third entrance of the LORD ’s Temple. “I want to ask you something,” the king said. “And don’t try to hide the truth.” 15 Jeremiah said, “If I tell you the truth, you will kill me. And if I give you advice, you won’t listen to me anyway.” 16 So King Zedekiah secretly promised him, “As surely as the LORD our Creator lives, I will not kill you or hand you over to the men who want you dead.” 17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you surrender to the Babylonian officers, you and your family will live, and the city will not be burned down. 18 But if you refuse to surrender, you will not escape! This city will be handed over to the Babylonians, and they will burn it to the ground.’” 19 “But I am afraid to surrender,” the king said, “for the Babylonians may hand me over to the Judeans who have defected to them. And who knows what they will do to me!” 20 Jeremiah replied, “You won’t be handed over to them if you choose to obey the LORD . Your life will be spared, and all will go well for you. 21 But if you refuse to surrender, this is what the LORD has revealed to me: 22 All the women left in your palace will be brought out and given to the officers of the Babylonian army. Then the women will taunt you, saying, ‘What fine friends you have! They have betrayed and misled you. When your feet sank in the mud, they left you to your fate!’ 23 All your wives and children will be led out to the Babylonians, and you will not escape. You will be seized by the king of Babylon, and this city will be burned down.” 24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Don’t tell anyone you told me this, or you will die! 25 My officials may hear that I spoke to you, and they may say, ‘Tell us what you and the king were talking about. If you don’t tell us, we will kill you.’ 26 If this happens, just tell them you begged me not to send you back to Jonathan’s dungeon, for fear you would die there.” 27 Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the king’s officials came to Jeremiah and asked him why the king had called for him. But Jeremiah followed the king’s instructions, and they left without finding out the truth. No one had overheard the conversation between Jeremiah and the king. 28 And Jeremiah remained a prisoner in the courtyard of the guard until the day Jerusalem was captured.

The Guilt/Gratitude Connection

 

Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“When guilt rears its ugly head, gratitude is the best strategy to defeat it.”~TB

The Shame Game

I have an annoying tendency to downplay my talents and strengths while drilling down on my areas of improvement. More interesting, I know a lot of people who do that too, which makes me wonder why? I could be “killing it” in different areas of my life, but if I’m not paying attention, my inner video of “greatest shame hits” plays, attempting to eclipse the victories that have occurred. When we lean into those shameful periods and feelings, we fall trap into negative cyclical thinking that ultimately steers us back to the very behaviors we’d like to avoid. An untethered mind is a dangerous place. We all have different inner voices, ideas, and thoughts that can uplift or deter us, which is why it’s so important to know who and what you’re listening to.

Attitude of Gratitude

So instead of focusing on your past transgressions (we all have them) look at the gifts and grace that God provides you with gratitude. We’ve all been spared the wrath that we each justly deserve and there are so many minor miracles that we all tend to forget about, but they occur each and every day. If you find yourself in a new position, be grateful and reflect on the situations you’ve experienced that prepare you for this new road. The opposition deceives you when you believe that being down and out is the only way of life. Gratitude defeats the nefarious schemes of shame and the opposition. It allows us to see ourselves as God sees us. God’s Will is mighty and wondrous, but it is up to us to individually and consistently put down our cup of shame and pick up the peace of gratitude.

Today’s Question

Are you listening to the lies of shame or embracing God’s mercy with gratitude?

Enjoy the reading

Jeremiah 35

1 This is the message the LORD gave Jeremiah when Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah: 
2 “Go to the settlement where the families of the Recabites live, and invite them to the LORD ’s Temple. Take them into one of the inner rooms, and offer them some wine.” 
3 So I went to see Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah and grandson of Habazziniah and all his brothers and sons—representing all the Recabite families. 
4 I took them to the Temple, and we went into the room assigned to the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah, a man of God. This room was located next to the one used by the Temple officials, directly above the room of Maaseiah son of Shallum, the Temple gatekeeper. 
5 I set cups and jugs of wine before them and invited them to have a drink, 
6 but they refused. “No,” they said, “we don’t drink wine, because our ancestor Jehonadab son of Recab gave us this command: ‘You and your descendants must never drink wine. 
7 And do not build houses or plant crops or vineyards, but always live in tents. If you follow these commands, you will live long, good lives in the land.’ 
8 So we have obeyed him in all these things. We have never had a drink of wine to this day, nor have our wives, our sons, or our daughters. 
9 We haven’t built houses or owned vineyards or farms or planted crops. 
10 We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed all the commands of Jehonadab, our ancestor. 
11 But when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked this country, we were afraid of the Babylonian and Syrian armies. So we decided to move to Jerusalem. That is why we are here.” 
12 Then the LORD gave this message to Jeremiah: 
13 “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: Go and say to the people in Judah and Jerusalem, ‘Come and learn a lesson about how to obey me. 
14 The Recabites do not drink wine to this day because their ancestor Jehonadab told them not to. But I have spoken to you again and again, and you refuse to obey me. 
15 Time after time I sent you prophets, who told you, “Turn from your wicked ways, and start doing things right. Stop worshiping other gods so that you might live in peace here in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.” But you would not listen to me or obey me. 
16 The descendants of Jehonadab son of Recab have obeyed their ancestor completely, but you have refused to listen to me.’ 
17 “Therefore, this is what the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Because you refuse to listen or answer when I call, I will send upon Judah and Jerusalem all the disasters I have threatened.’” 
18 Then Jeremiah turned to the Recabites and said, “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘You have obeyed your ancestor Jehonadab in every respect, following all his instructions.’ 
19 Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Jehonadab son of Recab will always have descendants who serve me.’”

Just Mercy

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Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“There is nothing more loving, merciful, and just than a person who is willing to tell you God’s honest truth.”~TB

Humble Pie

I once had a client who was dangling a promising contract over my head, but instead of honoring it, they would tease out assignments. They paid well and on time, but the deal was exploitative and I hated it. I called my mom and dad to talk about it. Furious about the change in terms I vowed to drop the client. My mother calmly and gently brought up the point that I was not in the position to drop clients. I had financial responsibilities and did not have the extra resources to be choosey about who I worked with. It was a tough thing to hear. My ego was not happy to ingest this news, but I am so grateful and thankful that she had enough love and mercy to tell me the Truth rather than stoking the fire to my already outrageous ego. More to the point, it empowered me to work harder so that I would not have to be in that position again. Thanks, Mom!

Loving Honestly

Friends, we have to drop our egos if we want a chance to know our Father in Heaven. This means listening to wise counsel, being brave enough to speak the Truth no matter the consequence, and being merciful when giving a hard word. We are called the Body of Christ, which means we’re in this together! If someone has broccoli in their teeth, tell them! If your brother is walking into a fire pit, shout to let him know. We’ve tricked ourselves into believing that honesty is mean. But I ask you this, what is meaner: telling someone their behavior is detrimental or letting them self-destruct in ignorance? It’s not nice to prolong someone’s suffering because you don’t want to be inconvenienced by speaking the truth. God blesses the merciful and friends, honesty– in the right context– is merciful. So let’s hold each other to righteous and just mercy so that we help each other when we stumble rather than become onlookers to the fallen.

Today’s Question

Are you practicing just mercy or are you just standing by watching?

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Jeremiah 25

1 This message for all the people of Judah came to Jeremiah from the LORD during the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign over Judah. This was the year when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon began his reign. 
2 Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people in Judah and Jerusalem, 
3 “For the past twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah, until now—the LORD has been giving me his messages. I have faithfully passed them on to you, but you have not listened. 
4 “Again and again the LORD has sent you his servants, the prophets, but you have not listened or even paid attention. 
5 Each time the message was this: ‘Turn from the evil road you are traveling and from the evil things you are doing. Only then will I let you live in this land that the LORD gave to you and your ancestors forever. 
6 Do not provoke my anger by worshiping idols you made with your own hands. Then I will not harm you.’ 
7 “But you would not listen to me,” says the LORD . “You made me furious by worshiping idols you made with your own hands, bringing on yourselves all the disasters you now suffer. 
8 And now the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Because you have not listened to me, 
9 I will gather together all the armies of the north under King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, whom I have appointed as my deputy. I will bring them all against this land and its people and against the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy you and make you an object of horror and contempt and a ruin forever. 
10 I will take away your happy singing and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard. Your millstones will fall silent, and the lights in your homes will go out. 
11 This entire land will become a desolate wasteland. Israel and her neighboring lands will serve the king of Babylon for seventy years. 
12 “Then, after the seventy years of captivity are over, I will punish the king of Babylon and his people for their sins,” says the LORD . “I will make the country of the Babylonians a wasteland forever. 
13 I will bring upon them all the terrors I have promised in this book—all the penalties announced by Jeremiah against the nations. 
14 Many nations and great kings will enslave the Babylonians, just as they enslaved my people. I will punish them in proportion to the suffering they cause my people.” 
15 This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled to the brim with my anger, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink from it. 
16 When they drink from it, they will stagger, crazed by the warfare I will send against them.” 
17 So I took the cup of anger from the LORD and made all the nations drink from it—every nation to which the LORD sent me. 
18 I went to Jerusalem and the other towns of Judah, and their kings and officials drank from the cup. From that day until this, they have been a desolate ruin, an object of horror, contempt, and cursing. 
19 I gave the cup to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, his attendants, his officials, and all his people, 
20 along with all the foreigners living in that land. I also gave it to all the kings of the land of Uz and the kings of the Philistine cities of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and what remains of Ashdod. 
21 Then I gave the cup to the nations of Edom, Moab, and Ammon, 
22 and the kings of Tyre and Sidon, and the kings of the regions across the sea. 
23 I gave it to Dedan, Tema, and Buz, and to the people who live in distant places. 
24 I gave it to the kings of Arabia, the kings of the nomadic tribes of the desert, 
25 and to the kings of Zimri, Elam, and Media. 
26 And I gave it to the kings of the northern countries, far and near, one after the other—all the kingdoms of the world. And finally, the king of Babylon himself drank from the cup of the LORD ’s anger. 
27 Then the LORD said to me, “Now tell them, ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: Drink from this cup of my anger. Get drunk and vomit; fall to rise no more, for I am sending terrible wars against you.’ 
28 And if they refuse to accept the cup, tell them, ‘The LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: You have no choice but to drink from it. 
29 I have begun to punish Jerusalem, the city that bears my name. Now should I let you go unpunished? No, you will not escape disaster. I will call for war against all the nations of the earth. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!’ 
30 “Now prophesy all these things, and say to them, “‘The LORD will roar against his own land from his holy dwelling in heaven. He will shout like those who tread grapes; he will shout against everyone on earth. 
31 His cry of judgment will reach the ends of the earth, for the LORD will bring his case against all the nations. He will judge all the people of the earth, slaughtering the wicked with the sword. I, the LORD, have spoken!’” 
32 This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “Look! Disaster will fall upon nation after nation! A great whirlwind of fury is rising from the most distant corners of the earth!” 
33 In that day those the LORD has slaughtered will fill the earth from one end to the other. No one will mourn for them or gather up their bodies to bury them. They will be scattered on the ground like manure. 
34 Weep and moan, you evil shepherds! Roll in the dust, you leaders of the flock! The time of your slaughter has arrived; you will fall and shatter like a fragile vase. 
35 You will find no place to hide; there will be no way to escape. 
36 Listen to the frantic cries of the shepherds. The leaders of the flock are wailing in despair, for the LORD is ruining their pastures. 
37 Peaceful meadows will be turned into a wasteland by the LORD ’s fierce anger. 
38 He has left his den like a strong lion seeking its prey, and their land will be made desolate by the sword of the enemy and the LORD ’s fierce anger.

Slow Down

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Hi Peeps,

Today’s Quote

“Slow down and be present in your lives so that the opposition does not trip you up in your haste.”~TB

Settle

We’re a busy on the go bunch of people, and despite the high praise of multi-tasking and multi-focus, when our attention is split, we run the risk of being prey for the devil. When you’re too fast, you miss the obvious signs and inconsistencies that evil inserts to get us to focus on fear and forget our tasks. Like a banana peel on the ground to trip on because we are going to fast, we stop to evaluate the lies from the truth. You may sign away your land because you didn’t read the terms of the agreement, you may rush into a relationship because you did not evaluate the character of the other person. You may do immoral things because of fear of your employer. Going at warped speed can cause unnecessary pitfalls and disasters because our eyes are not on the prize, which is Christ.

Break it Down

When my dad is teaching new music to the kids in his class, he is known to break up the parts, teach each phrase one at a time until his students get this. He did this with my siblings and me back in the day. It used to drive me nuts because I was impatient (still am).  The benefit of slowing things down and breaking down the lessons was that you learn each piece, lessening the chance of learning bad habits and mistakes. Slowing it down and breaking the Biblical lessons we learn from God and the Bible have the same effect. When we know the Truth, it’s easier to spot the inconsistencies and blatant lies from the opposition. We know real from fake, true from false, but it takes a careful, studied, and watchful eye. So in all that you do, apply the lessons learned from Christ. To be the most successful you first must slow down and see the world and its experiences for what they truly are.

Today’s Question

Are you slowing down and keeping calm, or are you blazing through hitting every pothole on the way?

Enjoy the reading

Jeremiah 24

1 After King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon exiled Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, to Babylon along with the officials of Judah and all the craftsmen and artisans, the LORD gave me this vision. I saw two baskets of figs placed in front of the LORD ’s Temple in Jerusalem. 
2 One basket was filled with fresh, ripe figs, while the other was filled with bad figs that were too rotten to eat. 
3 Then the LORD said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I replied, “Figs, some very good and some very bad, too rotten to eat.” 
4 Then the LORD gave me this message: 
5 “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: The good figs represent the exiles I sent from Judah to the land of the Babylonians. 
6 I will watch over and care for them, and I will bring them back here again. I will build them up and not tear them down. I will plant them and not uproot them. 
7 I will give them hearts that recognize me as the LORD . They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly. 
8 “But the bad figs,” the LORD said, “represent King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, all the people left in Jerusalem, and those who live in Egypt. I will treat them like bad figs, too rotten to eat. 
9 I will make them an object of horror and a symbol of evil to every nation on earth. They will be disgraced and mocked, taunted and cursed, wherever I scatter them. 
10 And I will send war, famine, and disease until they have vanished from the land of Israel, which I gave to them and their ancestors.”