“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.
Are you listening to the lies of shame or embracing God’s mercy with gratitude?
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1This 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.”
3So I went to see Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah and grandson of Habazziniah and all his brothers and sons—representing all the Recabite families.
4I 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.
5I set cups and jugs of wine before them and invited them to have a drink,
6but 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.
7And 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.’
8So 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.
9We haven’t built houses or owned vineyards or farms or planted crops.
10We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed all the commands of Jehonadab, our ancestor.
11But 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.”
12Then 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.
14The 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.
15Time 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.
16The 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.’”
18Then 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.’
19Therefore, 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.’”
“Like it or not, our lives are a testament to the power of God.”~TB
Long Story Short
Whether you follow Christ or not, our stories are the collective of what God built in this universe. As the creator, He breathed life into existence, carving out the episodic adventures we each call life. For those who humbly and honestly seek Him, your lives are a testament to His mighty righteousness and grace. For those that don’t, they are the testament of lessons to be learned from those narratives.
Stories of Old
Though we cannot see Him, if we look at the patterns of the righteous and wicked, there are undeniable correlations stemming all the way back from Adam and Eve. The thoughts and the deeds of the righteous are identifiable and consistent. The thoughts and the deeds of the wicked are just as identifiable and consistent. Human error befalls us all which is why repentance and turning from our sinful nature is a must. We all would do well to read the Word, learn from our ancestors and glean the examples from our parents to see God’s handiwork at work.
Which testament are you; righteous or wicked?
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1The following message came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah. This was also the eighteenth year of the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar.
2Jerusalem was then under siege from the Babylonian army, and Jeremiah was imprisoned in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace.
3King Zedekiah had put him there, asking why he kept giving this prophecy: “This is what the LORD says: ‘I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will take it.
4King Zedekiah will be captured by the Babylonians and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face.
5He will take Zedekiah to Babylon, and I will deal with him there,’ says the LORD . ‘If you fight against the Babylonians, you will never succeed.’”
6At that time the LORD sent me a message. He said,
7“Your cousin Hanamel son of Shallum will come and say to you, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth. By law you have the right to buy it before it is offered to anyone else.’”
8Then, just as the LORD had said he would, my cousin Hanamel came and visited me in the prison. He said, “Please buy my field at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. By law you have the right to buy it before it is offered to anyone else, so buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that the message I had heard was from the LORD .
9So I bought the field at Anathoth, paying Hanamel seventeen pieces of silver for it.
10I signed and sealed the deed of purchase before witnesses, weighed out the silver, and paid him.
11Then I took the sealed deed and an unsealed copy of the deed, which contained the terms and conditions of the purchase,
12and I handed them to Baruch son of Neriah and grandson of Mahseiah. I did all this in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, the witnesses who had signed the deed, and all the men of Judah who were there in the courtyard of the guardhouse.
13Then I said to Baruch as they all listened,
14“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Take both this sealed deed and the unsealed copy, and put them into a pottery jar to preserve them for a long time.’
15For this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Someday people will again own property here in this land and will buy and sell houses and vineyards and fields.’”
16Then after I had given the papers to Baruch, I prayed to the LORD :
17“O Sovereign LORD ! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!
18You show unfailing love to thousands, but you also bring the consequences of one generation’s sin upon the next. You are the great and powerful God, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
19You have all wisdom and do great and mighty miracles. You see the conduct of all people, and you give them what they deserve.
20You performed miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt—things still remembered to this day! And you have continued to do great miracles in Israel and all around the world. You have made your name famous to this day.
21“You brought Israel out of Egypt with mighty signs and wonders, with a strong hand and powerful arm, and with overwhelming terror.
22You gave the people of Israel this land that you had promised their ancestors long before—a land flowing with milk and honey.
23Our ancestors came and conquered it and lived in it, but they refused to obey you or follow your word. They have not done anything you commanded. That is why you have sent this terrible disaster upon them.
24“See how the siege ramps have been built against the city walls! Through war, famine, and disease, the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, who will conquer it. Everything has happened just as you said.
25And yet, O Sovereign LORD, you have told me to buy the field—paying good money for it before these witnesses—even though the city will soon be handed over to the Babylonians.”
26Then this message came to Jeremiah from the LORD :
27“I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?
28Therefore, this is what the LORD says: I will hand this city over to the Babylonians and to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and he will capture it.
29The Babylonians outside the walls will come in and set fire to the city. They will burn down all these houses where the people provoked my anger by burning incense to Baal on the rooftops and by pouring out liquid offerings to other gods.
30Israel and Judah have done nothing but wrong since their earliest days. They have infuriated me with all their evil deeds,” says the LORD .
31“From the time this city was built until now, it has done nothing but anger me, so I am determined to get rid of it.
32“The sins of Israel and Judah—the sins of the people of Jerusalem, the kings, the officials, the priests, and the prophets—have stirred up my anger.
33My people have turned their backs on me and have refused to return. Even though I diligently taught them, they would not receive instruction or obey.
34They have set up their abominable idols right in my own Temple, defiling it.
35They have built pagan shrines to Baal in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing. What an incredible evil, causing Judah to sin so greatly!
36“Now I want to say something more about this city. You have been saying, ‘It will fall to the king of Babylon through war, famine, and disease.’ But this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says:
37I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury. I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety.
38They will be my people, and I will be their God.
39And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants.
40And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.
41I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.
42“This is what the LORD says: Just as I have brought all these calamities on them, so I will do all the good I have promised them.
43Fields will again be bought and sold in this land about which you now say, ‘It has been ravaged by the Babylonians, a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’
44Yes, fields will once again be bought and sold—deeds signed and sealed and witnessed—in the land of Benjamin and here in Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the hill country, in the foothills of Judah and in the Negev, too. For someday I will restore prosperity to them. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
“There is nothing more loving, merciful, and just than a person who is willing to tell you God’s honest truth.”~TB
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!
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.
Are you practicing just mercy or are you just standing by watching?
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1This 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.
2Jeremiah 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.
5Each 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.
6Do 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.
8And now the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Because you have not listened to me,
9I 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.
10I 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.
11This 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.
13I will bring upon them all the terrors I have promised in this book—all the penalties announced by Jeremiah against the nations.
14Many 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.”
15This 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.
16When they drink from it, they will stagger, crazed by the warfare I will send against them.”
17So 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.
18I 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.
19I gave the cup to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, his attendants, his officials, and all his people,
20along 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.
21Then I gave the cup to the nations of Edom, Moab, and Ammon,
22and the kings of Tyre and Sidon, and the kings of the regions across the sea.
23I gave it to Dedan, Tema, and Buz, and to the people who live in distant places.
24I gave it to the kings of Arabia, the kings of the nomadic tribes of the desert,
25and to the kings of Zimri, Elam, and Media.
26And 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.
27Then 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.’
28And 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.
29I 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.
31His 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!’”
32This 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!”
33In 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.
34Weep 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.
35You will find no place to hide; there will be no way to escape.
36Listen to the frantic cries of the shepherds. The leaders of the flock are wailing in despair, for the LORD is ruining their pastures.
37Peaceful meadows will be turned into a wasteland by the LORD ’s fierce anger.
38He 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 and be present in your lives so that the opposition does not trip you up in your haste.”~TB
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.
Are you slowing down and keeping calm, or are you blazing through hitting every pothole on the way?
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1After 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.
2One basket was filled with fresh, ripe figs, while the other was filled with bad figs that were too rotten to eat.
3Then the LORD said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I replied, “Figs, some very good and some very bad, too rotten to eat.”
4Then 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.
6I 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.
7I 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.
9I 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.
10And I will send war, famine, and disease until they have vanished from the land of Israel, which I gave to them and their ancestors.”
“Resources are meant to be used to grow with Christ, not to replace Him.”~TB
A major balancing act in the Christian walk is utilizing and appreciating the resources that God gives us without allowing them to take on a god-like persona. If we’re honest, I’m sure we all have had moments where we want God’s ‘stuff’ more than we want Him. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s a tough pill to swallow because the truth of the matter, money, cars, fame, notoriety are really just stuff. More to the point, wanting stuff more than we want God is quite sad and a major indictment on what we value as a collective. As someone who has experience with first-world niceties, I can say for certain, the best manmade things do not hold a candle to being in the presence of the Lord.
Remain in Him
These days, everything I have is a resource to remain in Christ. My money, time, love, etc. are poured into building my relationships with my family, spending time with God, sharing His Truth with others, and things of the like. That’s not to say I’m perfect, oh, I’m far from it. Over time, I’ve come to learn to hang out with God more, glean His insights, which helps me to make better decisions. He has shown and taught me how wonderful it is to walk with Him and the resources He gives me are to grow stronger in Him. Friends, we have to evaluate how we look at things. Most of the time, we want ‘stuff’ just to impress others. The things of this world are temporary. We cannot take them with us when we go. But, the relationship we forge with Christ is everlasting, so enjoy the resources, but make sure they point back to Him.
Do you want God’s resources or God Himself?
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1This is what the LORD said to me: “Go over and speak directly to the king of Judah. Say to him,
2‘Listen to this message from the LORD, you king of Judah, sitting on David’s throne. Let your attendants and your people listen, too.
3This is what the LORD says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent!
4If you obey me, there will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem. The king will ride through the palace gates in chariots and on horses, with his parade of attendants and subjects.
5But if you refuse to pay attention to this warning, I swear by my own name, says the LORD, that this palace will become a pile of rubble.’”
6Now this is what the LORD says concerning Judah’s royal palace: “I love you as much as fruitful Gilead and the green forests of Lebanon. But I will turn you into a desert, with no one living within your walls.
7I will call for wreckers, who will bring out their tools to dismantle you. They will tear out all your fine cedar beams and throw them on the fire.
8“People from many nations will pass by the ruins of this city and say to one another, ‘Why did the LORD destroy such a great city?’
9And the answer will be, ‘Because they violated their covenant with the LORD their God by worshiping other gods.’”
10Do not weep for the dead king or mourn his loss. Instead, weep for the captive king being led away! For he will never return to see his native land again.
11For this is what the LORD says about Jehoahaz, who succeeded his father, King Josiah, and was taken away as a captive: “He will never return.
12He will die in a distant land and will never again see his own country.”
13And the LORD says, “What sorrow awaits Jehoiakim, who builds his palace with forced labor. He builds injustice into its walls, for he makes his neighbors work for nothing. He does not pay them for their labor.
14He says, ‘I will build a magnificent palace with huge rooms and many windows. I will panel it throughout with fragrant cedar and paint it a lovely red.’
15But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king! Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink. But he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him.
16He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?” says the LORD .
17“But you! You have eyes only for greed and dishonesty! You murder the innocent, oppress the poor, and reign ruthlessly.”
18Therefore, this is what the LORD says about Jehoiakim, son of King Josiah: “The people will not mourn for him, crying to one another, ‘Alas, my brother! Alas, my sister!’ His subjects will not mourn for him, crying, ‘Alas, our master is dead! Alas, his splendor is gone!’
19He will be buried like a dead donkey— dragged out of Jerusalem and dumped outside the gates!
20Weep for your allies in Lebanon. Shout for them in Bashan. Search for them in the regions east of the river. See, they are all destroyed. Not one is left to help you.
21I warned you when you were prosperous, but you replied, ‘Don’t bother me.’ You have been that way since childhood— you simply will not obey me!
22And now the wind will blow away your allies. All your friends will be taken away as captives. Surely then you will see your wickedness and be ashamed.
23It may be nice to live in a beautiful palace paneled with wood from the cedars of Lebanon, but soon you will groan with pangs of anguish— anguish like that of a woman in labor.
24“As surely as I live,” says the LORD, “I will abandon you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. Even if you were the signet ring on my right hand, I would pull you off.
25I will hand you over to those who seek to kill you, those you so desperately fear—to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the mighty Babylonian army.
26I will expel you and your mother from this land, and you will die in a foreign country, not in your native land.
27You will never again return to the land you yearn for.
28“Why is this man Jehoiachin like a discarded, broken jar? Why are he and his children to be exiled to a foreign land?
29O earth, earth, earth! Listen to this message from the LORD !
30This is what the LORD says: ‘Let the record show that this man Jehoiachin was childless. He is a failure, for none of his children will succeed him on the throne of David to rule over Judah.’
“Celebrate God by breaking bread with your brothers and sisters.”~TB
It’s been a wild ride in this thing called life, and I am definitely guilty of being caught up in the storms and not the amazing wonder that is God. So to change the narrative, I had my siblings, niece, and nephews over for a bbq. My brother turned on an anime that we used to watch as kids. It was hilarious to be reminded of my childhood while the next generation got to see what we looked at when we were their age. As I looked at my family while cooking, I couldn’t help but appreciate God for the people He’s blessed me to do life with.
In the Bible, it seemed like they had plenty of blow out parties and celebrations, and I get it. In life there will always be accusations, tribulations, but there is also so much good to celebrate. When we break bread, it’s not just about the party, it’s about the gifts and grace that God bestows on. It’s about celebrating the minor miracles that God performs that we rarely acknowledge. It’s about encouraging one another and being grateful to see another day. When we get together, we see how God works in each other’s lives, giving us the hope and faith that He is present and sovereign. In a busy world, don’t forget to stop and break bread with your people and watch how God shows up and shows out.
Did you remember to break bread to celebrate all that God is in your life?
1The word came to Jeremiah from the LORD when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah. They said:
2“Inquire now of the LORD for us because Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is attacking us. Perhaps the LORD will perform wonders for us as in times past so that he will withdraw from us.”
3But Jeremiah answered them, “Tell Zedekiah,
4‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am about to turn against you the weapons of war that are in your hands, which you are using to fight the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who are outside the wall besieging you. And I will gather them inside this city.
5I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in furious anger and in great wrath.
6I will strike down those who live in this city—both man and beast—and they will die of a terrible plague.
7After that, declares the LORD, I will give Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the people in this city who survive the plague, sword and famine, into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to their enemies who want to kill them. He will put them to the sword; he will show them no mercy or pity or compassion.’
8“Furthermore, tell the people, ‘This is what the LORD says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.
9Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; they will escape with their lives.
10I have determined to do this city harm and not good, declares the LORD. It will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will destroy it with fire.’
11“Moreover, say to the royal house of Judah, ‘Hear the word of the LORD.
12This is what the LORD says to you, house of David: “ ‘Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done— burn with no one to quench it.
13I am against you, Jerusalem, you who live above this valley on the rocky plateau, declares the LORD— you who say, “Who can come against us? Who can enter our refuge?”
14I will punish you as your deeds deserve, declares the LORD. I will kindle a fire in your forests that will consume everything around you.’ ”
“Quiet reflection with God breeds thoughtful answers to the issues in your life.”~TB
One of the biggest struggles we face as humans in society is quieting the external noise to understand what is going on internally. The world as we know it is designed to put us in conflict with our natural state. Think about it, with so much external distraction and noise, your internal system functions like a jumbled cassette tape. It’s tough to sort through the chaos of our internal state unless we quiet the noise from outside. However, many of us are engaged in chaotic states because we are too scared of the quiet. Slowing down and taking stock of one’s life brings up some uncomfortable insights and the ugly “g-word”–growth.
If the chaos has grown too much and it’s time to get to the heart of the Truth, have a talk with God (which also happens to be the title of a neat Stevie Wonder song.) Honest answers come from an honest reflection and conversation with our Father in Heaven. It doesn’t have to be some dramatic or formal process, just ask a few simple questions and ask for direction. To get the most out of this reflection and quiet time with God honesty and humility are key. It requires us to set aside our foolish and flesh-minded thinking. Basically, we have to turn our backs on what ails us to receive the Holy antidote that is God’s wisdom. It’s a one-on-one conversation that only you and He can have. No preacher, teacher nor profit can do this for you, so steal away to a quiet place to reflect and chat with the one who calls you His.
Are you practicing quiet reflection or are you running amok?
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1This is what the LORD said to me: “Go and buy a clay jar. Then ask some of the leaders of the people and of the priests to follow you.
2Go out through the Gate of Broken Pots to the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and give them this message.
3Say to them, ‘Listen to this message from the LORD, you kings of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem! This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will bring a terrible disaster on this place, and the ears of those who hear about it will ring!
4“‘For Israel has forsaken me and turned this valley into a place of wickedness. The people burn incense to foreign gods—idols never before acknowledged by this generation, by their ancestors, or by the kings of Judah. And they have filled this place with the blood of innocent children.
5They have built pagan shrines to Baal, and there they burn their sons as sacrifices to Baal. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!
6So beware, for the time is coming, says the LORD, when this garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.
7“‘For I will upset the careful plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will allow the people to be slaughtered by invading armies, and I will leave their dead bodies as food for the vultures and wild animals.
8I will reduce Jerusalem to ruins, making it a monument to their stupidity. All who pass by will be astonished and will gasp at the destruction they see there.
9I will see to it that your enemies lay siege to the city until all the food is gone. Then those trapped inside will eat their own sons and daughters and friends. They will be driven to utter despair.’
10“As these men watch you, Jeremiah, smash the jar you brought.
11Then say to them, ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: As this jar lies shattered, so I will shatter the people of Judah and Jerusalem beyond all hope of repair. They will bury the bodies here in Topheth, the garbage dump, until there is no more room for them.
12This is what I will do to this place and its people, says the LORD . I will cause this city to become defiled like Topheth.
13Yes, all the houses in Jerusalem, including the palace of Judah’s kings, will become like Topheth—all the houses where you burned incense on the rooftops to your star gods, and where liquid offerings were poured out to your idols.’”
14Then Jeremiah returned from Topheth, the garbage dump where he had delivered this message, and he stopped in front of the Temple of the LORD . He said to the people there,
15“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will bring disaster upon this city and its surrounding towns as I promised, because you have stubbornly refused to listen to me.’”
“Learn the topics and teachings of Christ so that you may not spend your life off-topic.”~TB
You ever notice how many distracting things there are in this world? Between all of the apps, gadgets, gossip, social posturing, and the like, left unchecked, a whole lifetime can be wasted on things that do not matter. How odd! There is only so much time in a given day and before you know it, it’s gone as quickly as it arrived. If humans are so busy being plugged into the nonsense, it’s not hard to understand why people struggle to know who Christ actually is. More to the point, the opposition will leverage such distractions to keep people from being on topic. If you want to pursue a life of Christ, you must first learn what topics really matter so that you can discern truth from fake reality.
Take a moment to evaluate how and with whom you spend your time. Ask yourself if these things mirror the topics that God has placed in your heart. If you feel too distracted in your mind to know what those topics are, seek out the Word of God so that you can understand what this life is actually all about. When you know which topics are of Christ and which ones are not, it becomes easier to make the right decisions for your mind and time. Let’s not be mindless bots on a planet that seeks to distract and numb us from our calling. Instead, let’s be about Christ’s topics and how they can give us the peace and focus we seek.
Are you good at wasting away instead of being on topic?
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1LORD, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. So let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy?
2You have planted them, and they have taken root and prospered. Your name is on their lips, but you are far from their hearts.
3But as for me, LORD, you know my heart. You see me and test my thoughts. Drag these people away like sheep to be butchered! Set them aside to be slaughtered!
4How long must this land mourn? Even the grass in the fields has withered. The wild animals and birds have disappeared because of the evil in the land. For the people have said, “The LORD doesn’t see what’s ahead for us!”
5“If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan?
6Even your brothers, members of your own family, have turned against you. They plot and raise complaints against you. Do not trust them, no matter how pleasantly they speak.
7“I have abandoned my people, my special possession. I have surrendered my dearest ones to their enemies.
8My chosen people have roared at me like a lion of the forest, so I have treated them with contempt.
9My chosen people act like speckled vultures, but they themselves are surrounded by vultures. Bring on the wild animals to pick their corpses clean!
10“Many rulers have ravaged my vineyard, trampling down the vines and turning all its beauty into a barren wilderness.
11They have made it an empty wasteland; I hear its mournful cry. The whole land is desolate, and no one even cares.
12On all the bare hilltops, destroying armies can be seen. The sword of the LORD devours people from one end of the nation to the other. No one will escape!
13My people have planted wheat but are harvesting thorns. They have worn themselves out, but it has done them no good. They will harvest a crop of shame because of the fierce anger of the LORD .”
14Now this is what the LORD says: “I will uproot from their land all the evil nations reaching out for the possession I gave my people Israel. And I will uproot Judah from among them.
15But afterward I will return and have compassion on all of them. I will bring them home to their own lands again, each nation to its own possession.
16And if these nations truly learn the ways of my people, and if they learn to swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the LORD lives’ (just as they taught my people to swear by the name of Baal), then they will be given a place among my people.
17But any nation who refuses to obey me will be uprooted and destroyed. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
“The salvation of Christ is the only thing that makes us valid.”~TB
Consulting self-help gurus, thought leaders, influencers, and peers who tout a false reality of what a valid life experience looks like has become standard practice. Thanks to our lookie-loo mentalities, there is an invalid acceptance that people crave that ultimately has nothing to do with Who made us and how we actually work. External and physical validity is superficial at best and downright depressing at worst. Because once you’ve achieved your targeted status in the world, one realizes that it actually does not fill the void you are looking to complete.
A connection with Christ is the only real antidote in this strange world. Knowing God on a deeper, everyday level brings a sense of true peace, contentment, and understanding that is second to none. With this, you stop looking to the outside and seek the internal answers that only He can give. When you build that relationship, you understand the sacrifice of salvation and the authenticity of the one who paid that price. It brings a wholeness knowing that you are loved and valid based on that act alone and
Do you prefer the fool’s gold of public opinion to the priceless validity of Christ?
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1Hear the word that the LORD speaks to you, O Israel!
2This is what the LORD says: “Do not act like the other nations, who try to read their future in the stars. Do not be afraid of their predictions, even though other nations are terrified by them.
3Their ways are futile and foolish. They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol.
4They decorate it with gold and silver and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails so it won’t fall over.
5Their gods are like helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field! They cannot speak, and they need to be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of such gods, for they can neither harm you nor do you any good.”
6LORD, there is no one like you! For you are great, and your name is full of power.
7Who would not fear you, O King of nations? That title belongs to you alone! Among all the wise people of the earth and in all the kingdoms of the world, there is no one like you.
8People who worship idols are stupid and foolish. The things they worship are made of wood!
9They bring beaten sheets of silver from Tarshish and gold from Uphaz, and they give these materials to skillful craftsmen who make their idols. Then they dress these gods in royal blue and purple robes made by expert tailors.
10But the LORD is the only true God. He is the living God and the everlasting King! The whole earth trembles at his anger. The nations cannot stand up to his wrath.
11Say this to those who worship other gods: “Your so-called gods, who did not make the heavens and earth, will vanish from the earth and from under the heavens.”
12But the LORD made the earth by his power, and he preserves it by his wisdom. With his own understanding he stretched out the heavens.
13When he speaks in the thunder, the heavens roar with rain. He causes the clouds to rise over the earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses.
14The whole human race is foolish and has no knowledge! The craftsmen are disgraced by the idols they make, for their carefully shaped works are a fraud. These idols have no breath or power.
15Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies! On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed.
16But the God of Israel is no idol! He is the Creator of everything that exists, including Israel, his own special possession. The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
17Pack your bags and prepare to leave; the siege is about to begin.
18For this is what the LORD says: “Suddenly, I will fling out all you who live in this land. I will pour great troubles upon you, and at last you will feel my anger.”
19My wound is severe, and my grief is great. My sickness is incurable, but I must bear it.
20My home is gone, and no one is left to help me rebuild it. My children have been taken away, and I will never see them again.
21The shepherds of my people have lost their senses. They no longer seek wisdom from the LORD . Therefore, they fail completely, and their flocks are scattered.
22Listen! Hear the terrifying roar of great armies as they roll down from the north. The towns of Judah will be destroyed and become a haunt for jackals.
23I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.
24So correct me, LORD, but please be gentle. Do not correct me in anger, for I would die.
25Pour out your wrath on the nations that refuse to acknowledge you— on the peoples that do not call upon your name. For they have devoured your people Israel ; they have devoured and consumed them, making the land a desolate wilderness.
“While in the lion’s den, be patient and productive so that you can learn the lessons and tools God can teach you in your time of waiting.”~TB
Waiting sucks. Especially when you’re at a time where you are waiting for something that despite your best efforts is being dragged out with no end in sight. During periods like these, I’m reminded of Daniel in the lion’s den. Even though the lions could not physically harm him, I’m willing to bet that being stuck in that situation was probably less than ideal. But still, he put his faith in God.
Just like those lions, our times of waiting will not be the end of us. It’s human nature to want to hone in and focus on the obstacles we cannot change. However, when we obsess over what we cannot do, we miss out on what we can. Instead of watching the pot, ask God how to best utilize the time that you have to continue His purpose for your life. Rejoice that whatever is causing your frustration is not the end and that in time, the wait will be over.
How are you handling the wait?
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1“O Israel,” says the LORD, “if you wanted to return to me, you could. You could throw away your detestable idols and stray away no more.
2Then when you swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the LORD lives,’ you could do so with truth, justice, and righteousness. Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world, and all people would come and praise my name.”
3This is what the LORD says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns.
4O people of Judah and Jerusalem, surrender your pride and power. Change your hearts before the LORD, or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins.
5“Shout to Judah, and broadcast to Jerusalem! Tell them to sound the alarm throughout the land: ‘Run for your lives! Flee to the fortified cities!’
6Raise a signal flag as a warning for Jerusalem : ‘Flee now! Do not delay!’ For I am bringing terrible destruction upon you from the north.”
7A lion stalks from its den, a destroyer of nations. It has left its lair and is headed your way. It’s going to devastate your land! Your towns will lie in ruins, with no one living in them anymore.
8So put on clothes of mourning and weep with broken hearts, for the fierce anger of the LORD is still upon us.
9“In that day,” says the LORD, “the king and the officials will tremble in fear. The priests will be struck with horror, and the prophets will be appalled.”
10Then I said, “O Sovereign LORD, the people have been deceived by what you said, for you promised peace for Jerusalem. But the sword is held at their throats!”
11The time is coming when the LORD will say to the people of Jerusalem, “My dear people, a burning wind is blowing in from the desert, and it’s not a gentle breeze useful for winnowing grain.
12It is a roaring blast sent by me! Now I will pronounce your destruction!”
13Our enemy rushes down on us like storm clouds! His chariots are like whirlwinds. His horses are swifter than eagles. How terrible it will be, for we are doomed!
14O Jerusalem, cleanse your heart that you may be saved. How long will you harbor your evil thoughts?
15Your destruction has been announced from Dan and the hill country of Ephraim.
16“Warn the surrounding nations and announce this to Jerusalem: The enemy is coming from a distant land, raising a battle cry against the towns of Judah.
17They surround Jerusalem like watchmen around a field, for my people have rebelled against me,” says the LORD .
18“Your own actions have brought this upon you. This punishment is bitter, piercing you to the heart!”
19My heart, my heart—I writhe in pain! My heart pounds within me! I cannot be still. For I have heard the blast of enemy trumpets and the roar of their battle cries.
20Waves of destruction roll over the land, until it lies in complete desolation. Suddenly my tents are destroyed; in a moment my shelters are crushed.
21How long must I see the battle flags and hear the trumpets of war?
22“My people are foolish and do not know me,” says the LORD . “They are stupid children who have no understanding. They are clever enough at doing wrong, but they have no idea how to do right!”
23I looked at the earth, and it was empty and formless. I looked at the heavens, and there was no light.
24I looked at the mountains and hills, and they trembled and shook.
25I looked, and all the people were gone. All the birds of the sky had flown away.
26I looked, and the fertile fields had become a wilderness. The towns lay in ruins, crushed by the LORD ’s fierce anger.
27This is what the LORD says: “The whole land will be ruined, but I will not destroy it completely.
28The earth will mourn and the heavens will be draped in black because of my decree against my people. I have made up my mind and will not change it.”
29At the noise of charioteers and archers, the people flee in terror. They hide in the bushes and run for the mountains. All the towns have been abandoned— not a person remains!
30What are you doing, you who have been plundered? Why do you dress up in beautiful clothing and put on gold jewelry? Why do you brighten your eyes with mascara? Your primping will do you no good! The allies who were your lovers despise you and seek to kill you.
31I hear a cry, like that of a woman in labor, the groans of a woman giving birth to her first child. It is beautiful Jerusalem gasping for breath and crying out, “Help! I’m being murdered!”