“Don’t be so quick to place people on a pedestal because we never truly know what’s under the hood.”
We’ve been conditioned to believe that the shiniest and brilliant people, places, and things are worth special attention. Because of that additional value, we perceive that these people –especially those who step into the spotlight as ambassadors for God– have, we allow them carte blanche. Of course, as people in power fall (as they often do), it can feel destabilizing, forcing you to question what you believe. Friends, when this happens, it means we were chasing man more than we were chasing God.
Because it is impossible to know all that goes on within people, we must judge them according to their deeds. We must also learn and understand scripture so that we can much their words against the Word of God. Further, because we are given the Holy Spirit, it is up to us to individually know who God is. When we honestly pursue Christ, we understand that no man is above reproach and we must develop our personal relationships with Him to know the Truth. So put your faith in God, not man.
Are you looking up to someone or The One?
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1 When I looked again, I saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2 “Where are you going?” I asked. He replied, “I am going to measure Jerusalem, to see how wide and how long it is.” 3 Then the angel who was with me went to meet a second angel who was coming toward him. 4 The other angel said, “Hurry, and say to that young man, ‘Jerusalem will someday be so full of people and livestock that there won’t be room enough for everyone! Many will live outside the city walls. 5 Then I, myself, will be a protective wall of fire around Jerusalem, says the LORD . And I will be the glory inside the city!’” 6 The LORD says, “Come away! Flee from Babylon in the land of the north, for I have scattered you to the four winds. 7 Come away, people of Zion, you who are exiled in Babylon!” 8 After a period of glory, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies sent me against the nations who plundered you. For he said, “Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession. 9 I will raise my fist to crush them, and their own slaves will plunder them.” Then you will know that the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has sent me. 10 The LORD says, “Shout and rejoice, O beautiful Jerusalem, for I am coming to live among you. 11 Many nations will join themselves to the LORD on that day, and they, too, will be my people. I will live among you, and you will know that the LORD of Heaven’s Armies sent me to you. 12 The land of Judah will be the LORD ’s special possession in the holy land, and he will once again choose Jerusalem to be his own city. 13 Be silent before the LORD, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling.”
“Judge your own fruit to know if you are following God’s will or your own.”
When we enact our own will or produce things out of our own doing, it shows. Sure, we may make progress, but there is always a cost. If you’re run down, robbing Peter to pay Paul, or operating outside of the lines, chances are, you’re flying solo.
God’s will offers us peace, wisdom, love, and grace. It may not be as flashy as our own crooked desires, but it is everlasting, strategic, and it produces good fruit. By following God, we learn how to be continually renewed in the spirit and now by our flesh.
What fruit are you producing?
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1 This message was given to Amos, a shepherd from the town of Tekoa in Judah. He received this message in visions two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam II, the son of Jehoash, was king of Israel. 2 This is what he saw and heard: “The LORD ’s voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem! The lush pastures of the shepherds will dry up; the grass on Mount Carmel will wither and die.” 3 This is what the LORD says: “The people of Damascus have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished! They beat down my people in Gilead as grain is threshed with iron sledges. 4 So I will send down fire on King Hazael’s palace, and the fortresses of King Ben-hadad will be destroyed. 5 I will break down the gates of Damascus and slaughter the people in the valley of Aven. I will destroy the ruler in Beth-eden, and the people of Aram will go as captives to Kir,” says the LORD . 6 This is what the LORD says: “The people of Gaza have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished! They sent whole villages into exile, selling them as slaves to Edom. 7 So I will send down fire on the walls of Gaza, and all its fortresses will be destroyed. 8 I will slaughter the people of Ashdod and destroy the king of Ashkelon. Then I will turn to attack Ekron, and the few Philistines still left will be killed,” says the Sovereign LORD . 9 This is what the LORD says: “The people of Tyre have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished! They broke their treaty of brotherhood with Israel, selling whole villages as slaves to Edom. 10 So I will send down fire on the walls of Tyre, and all its fortresses will be destroyed.” 11 This is what the LORD says: “The people of Edom have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished! They chased down their relatives, the Israelites, with swords, showing them no mercy. In their rage, they slashed them continually and were unrelenting in their anger. 12 So I will send down fire on Teman, and the fortresses of Bozrah will be destroyed.” 13 This is what the LORD says: “The people of Ammon have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished! When they attacked Gilead to extend their borders, they ripped open pregnant women with their swords. 14 So I will send down fire on the walls of Rabbah, and all its fortresses will be destroyed. The battle will come upon them with shouts, like a whirlwind in a mighty storm. 15 And their king and his princes will go into exile together,” says the LORD .
“Take up your cross and learn the Truth so that you untangle yourself from the madness of modern society.”
If we look at people and societal standards, its “truth” always changes. What was once in fashion is now lame. What was once immoral is now self expression. What was once wrong is now right. The world will constantly reinvent itself as its goal and its ruler is to distill confusion and corruption among God’s people. The madness of modern society is that the rules are always changing and nothing is ever true. Because of this, those who worship this world will always toil in anguish, confusion, and futility.
The reason why many fail to understand Christ is that their friendship with the world keeps them deaf, blind, and dumb from the Truth. Friends, if you serve money, your flesh, your peers, or even the evil one, you will never know the truth. That is because you cannot serve two masters. God’s word never changes. The teachings of Jesus still apply to this very day. If you desire to know the truth for yourself, you must first understand the honest motives of your heart. Deep down, we all know that culture and modern society corrupts our souls, but it takes humble humility to start asking and seeking the One who can open our eyes.
If your desires align with today’s culture and not with Christ, what are you doing?
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1 Once again a message came to me from the LORD : 2 “Son of man, give your people this message: ‘When I bring an army against a country, the people of that land choose one of their own to be a watchman. 3 When the watchman sees the enemy coming, he sounds the alarm to warn the people. 4 Then if those who hear the alarm refuse to take action, it is their own fault if they die. 5 They heard the alarm but ignored it, so the responsibility is theirs. If they had listened to the warning, they could have saved their lives. 6 But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.’ 7 “Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me. 8 If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to tell them to change their ways, then they will die in their sins, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 9 But if you warn them to repent and they don’t repent, they will die in their sins, but you will have saved yourself. 10 “Son of man, give the people of Israel this message: You are saying, ‘Our sins are heavy upon us; we are wasting away! How can we survive?’ 11 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die? 12 “Son of man, give your people this message: The righteous behavior of righteous people will not save them if they turn to sin, nor will the wicked behavior of wicked people destroy them if they repent and turn from their sins. 13 When I tell righteous people that they will live, but then they sin, expecting their past righteousness to save them, then none of their righteous acts will be remembered. I will destroy them for their sins. 14 And suppose I tell some wicked people that they will surely die, but then they turn from their sins and do what is just and right. 15 For instance, they might give back a debtor’s security, return what they have stolen, and obey my life-giving laws, no longer doing what is evil. If they do this, then they will surely live and not die. 16 None of their past sins will be brought up again, for they have done what is just and right, and they will surely live. 17 “Your people are saying, ‘The Lord isn’t doing what’s right,’ but it is they who are not doing what’s right. 18 For again I say, when righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and turn to evil, they will die. 19 But if wicked people turn from their wickedness and do what is just and right, they will live. 20 O people of Israel, you are saying, ‘The Lord isn’t doing what’s right.’ But I judge each of you according to your deeds.” 21 On January 8, during the twelfth year of our captivity, a survivor from Jerusalem came to me and said, “The city has fallen!” 22 The previous evening the LORD had taken hold of me and given me back my voice. So I was able to speak when this man arrived the next morning. 23 Then this message came to me from the LORD : 24 “Son of man, the scattered remnants of Israel living among the ruined cities keep saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, yet he gained possession of the entire land. We are many; surely the land has been given to us as a possession.’ 25 So tell these people, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: You eat meat with blood in it, you worship idols, and you murder the innocent. Do you really think the land should be yours? 26 Murderers! Idolaters! Adulterers! Should the land belong to you?’ 27 “Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: As surely as I live, those living in the ruins will die by the sword. And I will send wild animals to eat those living in the open fields. Those hiding in the forts and caves will die of disease. 28 I will completely destroy the land and demolish her pride. Her arrogant power will come to an end. The mountains of Israel will be so desolate that no one will even travel through them. 29 When I have completely destroyed the land because of their detestable sins, then they will know that I am the LORD .’ 30 “Son of man, your people talk about you in their houses and whisper about you at the doors. They say to each other, ‘Come on, let’s go hear the prophet tell us what the LORD is saying!’ 31 So my people come pretending to be sincere and sit before you. They listen to your words, but they have no intention of doing what you say. Their mouths are full of lustful words, and their hearts seek only after money. 32 You are very entertaining to them, like someone who sings love songs with a beautiful voice or plays fine music on an instrument. They hear what you say, but they don’t act on it! 33 But when all these terrible things happen to them—as they certainly will—then they will know a prophet has been among them.”
“Don’t get caught up in affairs that only God can fix as toiling in confusion is the opposition’s prominent weapon.”
The devil will try to get you to fixate on matters that God can tend to. Why? Because when you’re on guard and distracted, you’re less likely to be doing what God called you to do in the first place. While you’re stewing on inconsequential things, the plans God laid out for you sit in vain. Friends, don’t get caught up in the devil’s tricks.
Instead of getting caught up in the things you cannot control, let them go and let God handle it. When we learn how to bask in the stillness of peace, we learn to quiet our fears, anger, rage, and the like to practice perseverance to run our race. This requires a deep relationship of trust in Christ. Imagine if Joseph stayed caught up in his situation rather than moving forward. Surely he would not have ended up victorious and he did. So friends, stay close to God, cling to His clear path for your life to run your race.
Are you caught up or are you letting go?
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1 Then this message came to me from the LORD : 2 “Son of man, sing a funeral song for Tyre, 3 that mighty gateway to the sea, the trading center of the world. Give Tyre this message from the Sovereign LORD : “You boasted, O Tyre, ‘My beauty is perfect!’ 4 You extended your boundaries into the sea. Your builders made your beauty perfect. 5 You were like a great ship built of the finest cypress from Senir. They took a cedar from Lebanon to make a mast for you. 6 They carved your oars from the oaks of Bashan. Your deck of pine from the coasts of Cyprus was inlaid with ivory. 7 Your sails were made of Egypt’s finest linen, and they flew as a banner above you. You stood beneath blue and purple awnings made bright with dyes from the coasts of Elishah. 8 Your oarsmen came from Sidon and Arvad; your helmsmen were skilled men from Tyre itself. 9 Wise old craftsmen from Gebal did the caulking. Ships from every land came with goods to barter for your trade. 10 “Men from distant Persia, Lydia, and Libya served in your great army. They hung their shields and helmets on your walls, giving you great honor. 11 Men from Arvad and Helech stood on your walls. Your towers were manned by men from Gammad. Their shields hung on your walls, completing your beauty. 12 “Tarshish sent merchants to buy your wares in exchange for silver, iron, tin, and lead. 13 Merchants from Greece, Tubal, and Meshech brought slaves and articles of bronze to trade with you. 14 “From Beth-togarmah came riding horses, chariot horses, and mules, all in exchange for your goods. 15 Merchants came to you from Dedan. Numerous coastlands were your captive markets; they brought payment in ivory tusks and ebony wood. 16 “Syria sent merchants to buy your rich variety of goods. They traded turquoise, purple dyes, embroidery, fine linen, and jewelry of coral and rubies. 17 Judah and Israel traded for your wares, offering wheat from Minnith, figs, honey, olive oil, and balm. 18 “Damascus sent merchants to buy your rich variety of goods, bringing wine from Helbon and white wool from Zahar. 19 Greeks from Uzal came to trade for your merchandise. Wrought iron, cassia, and fragrant calamus were bartered for your wares. 20 “Dedan sent merchants to trade their expensive saddle blankets with you. 21 The Arabians and the princes of Kedar sent merchants to trade lambs and rams and male goats in exchange for your goods. 22 The merchants of Sheba and Raamah came with all kinds of spices, jewels, and gold in exchange for your wares. 23 “Haran, Canneh, Eden, Sheba, Asshur, and Kilmad came with their merchandise, too. 24 They brought choice fabrics to trade—blue cloth, embroidery, and multicolored carpets rolled up and bound with cords. 25 The ships of Tarshish were your ocean caravans. Your island warehouse was filled to the brim! 26 “But look! Your oarsmen have taken you into stormy seas! A mighty eastern gale has wrecked you in the heart of the sea! 27 Everything is lost— your riches and wares, your sailors and pilots, your ship builders, merchants, and warriors. On the day of your ruin, everyone on board sinks into the depths of the sea. 28 Your cities by the sea tremble as your pilots cry out in terror. 29 All the oarsmen abandon their ships; the sailors and pilots stand on the shore. 30 They cry aloud over you and weep bitterly. They throw dust on their heads and roll in ashes. 31 They shave their heads in grief for you and dress themselves in burlap. They weep for you with bitter anguish and deep mourning. 32 As they wail and mourn over you, they sing this sad funeral song: ‘Was there ever such a city as Tyre, now silent at the bottom of the sea? 33 The merchandise you traded satisfied the desires of many nations. Kings at the ends of the earth were enriched by your trade. 34 Now you are a wrecked ship, broken at the bottom of the sea. All your merchandise and crew have gone down with you. 35 All who live along the coastlands are appalled at your terrible fate. Their kings are filled with horror and look on with twisted faces. 36 The merchants among the nations shake their heads at the sight of you, for you have come to a horrible end and will exist no more.’”
“Study the Bible and you will find that the stories of our lives are nothing new.”
It’s a amazing to me how easily people will back corrupt leaders, ideas, environment, and the like, all for a paycheck, status, resources, etc. Deep down they know that it’s wrong, but they’d rather obtain their ill-gotten gains than to combat evildoing. As such, they too become evil! Friends, turn away from evil especially if you stand to gain from their wicked ways. Temporary comfort in the natural world does not absolve you from the account you must give in due time.
As much as I like to believe I’m unique, just spending some time in the Bible, I am made acutely aware of how ALL of our stories have already played out in so many different ways. Even in the Old Testament, people carried on, doing evil things, worshiping false gods, and not knowing who God is. So why is it shocking that in 2020 the story is still the same? Well, it isn’t. What brings me great comfort in knowing that the same sovereign God from the Bible is the same God who is here with us. So while our stories are not new, we still make the choice to be on the right or wrong side of the narrative. Study well to understand where you are and where you are going.
Have you not read enough of the Bible to know what happens to flesh-driven people?
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1 Then on September 17, during the sixth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, while the leaders of Judah were in my home, the Sovereign LORD took hold of me. 2 I saw a figure that appeared to be a man. From what appeared to be his waist down, he looked like a burning flame. From the waist up he looked like gleaming amber. 3 He reached out what seemed to be a hand and took me by the hair. Then the Spirit lifted me up into the sky and transported me to Jerusalem in a vision from God. I was taken to the north gate of the inner courtyard of the Temple, where there is a large idol that has made the LORD very jealous. 4 Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel was there, just as I had seen it before in the valley. 5 Then the LORD said to me, “Son of man, look toward the north.” So I looked, and there to the north, beside the entrance to the gate near the altar, stood the idol that had made the LORD so jealous. 6 “Son of man,” he said, “do you see what they are doing? Do you see the detestable sins the people of Israel are committing to drive me from my Temple? But come, and you will see even more detestable sins than these!” 7 Then he brought me to the door of the Temple courtyard, where I could see a hole in the wall. 8 He said to me, “Now, son of man, dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and found a hidden doorway. 9 “Go in,” he said, “and see the wicked and detestable sins they are committing in there!” 10 So I went in and saw the walls covered with engravings of all kinds of crawling animals and detestable creatures. I also saw the various idols worshiped by the people of Israel. 11 Seventy leaders of Israel were standing there with Jaazaniah son of Shaphan in the center. Each of them held an incense burner, from which a cloud of incense rose above their heads. 12 Then the LORD said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the leaders of Israel are doing with their idols in dark rooms? They are saying, ‘The LORD doesn’t see us; he has deserted our land!’” 13 Then the LORD added, “Come, and I will show you even more detestable sins than these!” 14 He brought me to the north gate of the LORD ’s Temple, and some women were sitting there, weeping for the god Tammuz. 15 “Have you seen this?” he asked. “But I will show you even more detestable sins than these!” 16 Then he brought me into the inner courtyard of the LORD ’s Temple. At the entrance to the sanctuary, between the entry room and the bronze altar, there were about twenty-five men with their backs to the sanctuary of the LORD . They were facing east, bowing low to the ground, worshiping the sun! 17 “Have you seen this, son of man?” he asked. “Is it nothing to the people of Judah that they commit these detestable sins, leading the whole nation into violence, thumbing their noses at me, and provoking my anger? 18 Therefore, I will respond in fury. I will neither pity nor spare them. And though they cry for mercy, I will not listen.”
“Don’t lose your Biblical sense in the pursuit of chasing cents.”
The Bible sure talks about fools a lot, especially how His people should not interact with them. Seriously, look it up. Fools are bad for business. Be that as it may, why is it that so many fools run businesses? Well, because many folks will entertain fools it the price is right. When fools get into power, they put other fools into power, corrupting the very flow of work and prosperity. Friends, what good is a fortune if it’s in exchange for your soul?
We must balance our spiritual check books because God is the ultimate Accountant. His payout is way higher and everlasting than any deal a human being can make. Instead of trading your gifts and labor for pennies on the dollar, take a step back and ask yourself ‘does God really want this for me?’. Friends, the beauty and curse of free will is that we choose the path that we’re on. So don’t forfeit spiritual wisdom for ill-gotten fleshly gains.
Are you ruled by God-given sense or flesh-driven cents?
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1 Then this message came to me from the LORD : 2 “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says to Israel: “The end is here! Wherever you look— east, west, north, or south— your land is finished. 3 No hope remains, for I will unleash my anger against you. I will call you to account for all your detestable sins. 4 I will turn my eyes away and show no pity. I will repay you for all your detestable sins. Then you will know that I am the LORD . 5 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Disaster after disaster is coming your way! 6 The end has come. It has finally arrived. Your final doom is waiting! 7 O people of Israel, the day of your destruction is dawning. The time has come; the day of trouble is near. Shouts of anguish will be heard on the mountains, not shouts of joy. 8 Soon I will pour out my fury on you and unleash my anger against you. I will call you to account for all your detestable sins. 9 I will turn my eyes away and show no pity. I will repay you for all your detestable sins. Then you will know that it is I, the LORD, who is striking the blow. 10 “The day of judgment is here; your destruction awaits! The people’s wickedness and pride have blossomed to full flower. 11 Their violence has grown into a rod that will beat them for their wickedness. None of these proud and wicked people will survive. All their wealth and prestige will be swept away. 12 Yes, the time has come; the day is here! Buyers should not rejoice over bargains, nor sellers grieve over losses, for all of them will fall under my terrible anger. 13 Even if the merchants survive, they will never return to their business. For what God has said applies to everyone— it will not be changed! Not one person whose life is twisted by sin will ever recover. 14 “The trumpet calls Israel’s army to mobilize, but no one listens, for my fury is against them all. 15 There is war outside the city and disease and famine within. Those outside the city walls will be killed by enemy swords. Those inside the city will die of famine and disease. 16 The survivors who escape to the mountains will moan like doves, weeping for their sins. 17 Their hands will hang limp, their knees will be weak as water. 18 They will dress themselves in burlap; horror and shame will cover them. They will shave their heads in sorrow and remorse. 19 “They will throw their money in the streets, tossing it out like worthless trash. Their silver and gold won’t save them on that day of the LORD ’s anger. It will neither satisfy nor feed them, for their greed can only trip them up. 20 They were proud of their beautiful jewelry and used it to make detestable idols and vile images. Therefore, I will make all their wealth disgusting to them. 21 I will give it as plunder to foreigners, to the most wicked of nations, and they will defile it. 22 I will turn my eyes from them as these robbers invade and defile my treasured land. 23 “Prepare chains for my people, for the land is bloodied by terrible crimes. Jerusalem is filled with violence. 24 I will bring the most ruthless of nations to occupy their homes. I will break down their proud fortresses and defile their sanctuaries. 25 Terror and trembling will overcome my people. They will look for peace but not find it. 26 Calamity will follow calamity; rumor will follow rumor. They will look in vain for a vision from the prophets. They will receive no teaching from the priests and no counsel from the leaders. 27 The king and the prince will stand helpless, weeping in despair, and the people’s hands will tremble with fear. I will bring on them the evil they have done to others, and they will receive the punishment they so richly deserve. Then they will know that I am the LORD .”
“Imagine where we’d be if we didn’t comply with the corrupt dealings and practices of those in power.”
When I look out into the world and see the state we’re in, it’s easy to cast blame to the corporations, the politicians, and anyone else in a position of power and influence. However, in order to get to the truth, we first must take responsibility for the abdication of our posts. Think about it, if you sell your land for a one-time payment, give up your business for a job, or forfeit your inheritance for a tasty meal, that is your choice. Temporary gains only paint a small picture of what is to come, which is why we must not cave to our desires for instant gratification.
When you trade the narrow road for the road of consumption and ease, don’t forget what you’ve given up. Swapping hard work for the sake of convenience, you’re given up the farm for the drive-thru line. But, what happens when the line closes and there is no farm to go back to? Friends this is why we read the Bible. It’s not only great for the understanding of Christ and salvation, it is also a sharp reminder of what happens when we take easy street. There is an unspoken tab that we create as we throw our resources at flash in the pan treats and trinkets. Make no mistake, our smoke and mirror lives are on full display as we come to the realization that we gave up our kingdoms for pennies on the dollar.
Are you willing to stand up to the corruption or are you happy waiting in finite meal line?
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1 The prophet Jeremiah gave a message to Baruch son of Neriah in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, after Baruch had written down everything Jeremiah had dictated to him. He said, 2 “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: 3 You have said, ‘I am overwhelmed with trouble! Haven’t I had enough pain already? And now the LORD has added more! I am worn out from sighing and can find no rest.’ 4 “Baruch, this is what the LORD says: ‘I will destroy this nation that I built. I will uproot what I planted. 5 Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t do it! I will bring great disaster upon all these people; but I will give you your life as a reward wherever you go. I, the LORD, have spoken!’”
“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.’
“The pains we can get from doing our best work can be overwhelming, but in the end, the grief of it all will turn into maximized longterm relief and true success with God, people, and your destiny.” ~ Jon Barnes
Align your ambitions with God’s Will and maximize all of the good you will do for the Kingdom of God. Each small step taken will teach you how to take better care of your family first. A person who does not love their family or take good care of them is worse than an infidel; Specifically, men who do not take care or provide for their own children. Friends become ambitious about taking care of your own kids, family, and God will teach you how to become a good friend to others also.
You cannot be fair to others if you are not fair to God and your own family. Practice what you preach by following His instructions, lifestyle commandments, and love guidelines. Too often we are all trying to move and learn everything way too fast, with shortcuts that diminish the natural learning experiences that we all need. There is no fairness in enslaving others to do your work, while you reap all of the rewards and benefits by spreading lies, grief, and mayhem.
People who are thoughtful with the love of God will pay and reward people properly for quality work and honest opportunity to survive and thrive. They will develop housing, land, jobs, food, education, and the likes for the good of all. There are enough provisions for all people to succeed, without greed! However, if our governments, we the people, and our businesses become full of corruption, then the laws and practices will reflect the welfare status of the city, country, or state.
Are you happy with all of the poverty that surrounds your wonderful business, property, and city or will you help to develop plans, goals, and opportunities for people to help themselves to do better with God’s Ethics?
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Jesus Feeds Five Thousand
6 After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick.3 Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him.4 (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.)5 Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?”6 He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.
7 Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”
8 Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up.9 “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
10 “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.)11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted.12 After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.”13 So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.
14 When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”15 When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.
Jesus Walks on Water
16 That evening Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. 17 But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn’t come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum.18 Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough.19 They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified,20 but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!”21 Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!
Jesus, the Bread of Life
22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the far shore saw that the disciples had taken the only boat, and they realized Jesus had not gone with them. 23 Several boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the Lord had blessed the bread and the people had eaten.24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went across to Capernaum to look for him.25 They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs.27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”
28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”
29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do?31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat’. ”
32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven.33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”
35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me.37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them.38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day.40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
41 Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”42 They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
43 But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said.44 For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.45 As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.46 (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.)
47 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life.48 Yes, I am the bread of life!49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died.50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die.51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”
52 Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked.
53 So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you.54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day.55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.56 Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.57 I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me.58 I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”
59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Many Disciples Desert Jesus
60 Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?”
61 Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you?62 Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again?63 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.64 But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.)65 Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.”
66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”
68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”
70 Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.”71 He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him.