“You’re either giving a Cain or an Abel offering; there is no in-between.”~TB
I have assisted my dad with this blog for almost 4 years. At first, I started as the editor/poster, adding the role of ‘writer’ along the way. In the beginning, it was my job to suss out the errors and formatting– general editor stuff. Occasionally, my father or mother would politely ask me to check my work. Back then, I thought what I was doing was the stuff of legends. I was assisting my father (and God), sacrificing my precious time for their pursuits. So naturally, as a foolish young person, I didn’t really take their feedback seriously and kept on my way. It was until a couple of weeks ago when I was formatting the blog posts for my dad’s upcoming books, that I had discovered not only was there a ton of errors the work was amazingly shoddy given my abilities.
Change with Humility
As I read the older blogs, the sting of conviction hit my gut as my mind recalled all of the editing conversations I had had with my dad years ago. See, he wasn’t forceful or persistent with the comments and yet, I would shove the notes aside as if my work was precise and perfect. Oh, youth! I was foolish to believe that I was helping my father and God when in reality it was they who were helping (and still are) me. As I laughed and repented for my foolishness, I was immediately reminded of the story of Cain and Abel. In the story of Cain and Abel, Abel did his best with his offering, and Cain perceived that his offering was great when it was not. But unlike the arrogance that blinds humans, God sees all and knows all.
Perception is not Reality
The jealousy that Cain felt towards Abel had nothing to do with his brother, but really it was Cain’s unwillingness to take responsibility for the crap that he himself presented to God. At that moment I realized, my work– or rather offering to God– was that of a Cain offering. In my arrogance, I believed that what I was doing was phenomenal, but really it was shoddy and unacceptable. Friends, we either give our best offering to God– an Abel offering. Or, we give our ‘meh’ offering to God– a Cain offering. Deep within our hearts, we know when we give which, so do not fool yourself into thinking God cannot spot the difference. Instead of devouring our brothers and sisters because of our lazy, corrupt thinking, spend your days working honestly as if God is standing next to you so that your daily offerings are deemed acceptable to the Lord.
Are you giving an honest offering or are you honestly fooling yourself?
Enjoy the reading
1King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with all the armies from the kingdoms he ruled, and he fought against Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. At that time this message came to Jeremiah from the LORD :
2“Go to King Zedekiah of Judah, and tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down.
3You will not escape his grasp but will be captured and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face. Then you will be exiled to Babylon.
4“‘But listen to this promise from the LORD, O Zedekiah, king of Judah. This is what the LORD says: You will not be killed in war
5but will die peacefully. People will burn incense in your memory, just as they did for your ancestors, the kings who preceded you. They will mourn for you, crying, “Alas, our master is dead!” This I have decreed, says the LORD .’”
6So Jeremiah the prophet delivered the message to King Zedekiah of Judah.
7At this time the Babylonian army was besieging Jerusalem, Lachish, and Azekah—the only fortified cities of Judah not yet captured.
8This message came to Jeremiah from the LORD after King Zedekiah made a covenant with the people, proclaiming freedom for the slaves.
9He had ordered all the people to free their Hebrew slaves—both men and women. No one was to keep a fellow Judean in bondage.
10The officials and all the people had obeyed the king’s command,
11but later they changed their minds. They took back the men and women they had freed, forcing them to be slaves again.
12So the LORD gave them this message through Jeremiah:
13“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors long ago when I rescued them from their slavery in Egypt.
14I told them that every Hebrew slave must be freed after serving six years. But your ancestors paid no attention to me.
15Recently you repented and did what was right, following my command. You freed your slaves and made a solemn covenant with me in the Temple that bears my name.
16But now you have shrugged off your oath and defiled my name by taking back the men and women you had freed, forcing them to be slaves once again.
17“Therefore, this is what the LORD says: Since you have not obeyed me by setting your countrymen free, I will set you free to be destroyed by war, disease, and famine. You will be an object of horror to all the nations of the earth.
18Because you have broken the terms of our covenant, I will cut you apart just as you cut apart the calf when you walked between its halves to solemnize your vows.
19Yes, I will cut you apart, whether you are officials of Judah or Jerusalem, court officials, priests, or common people—for you have broken your oath.
20I will give you to your enemies, and they will kill you. Your bodies will be food for the vultures and wild animals.
21“I will hand over King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials to the army of the king of Babylon. And although they have left Jerusalem for a while,
22I will call the Babylonian armies back again. They will fight against this city and will capture it and burn it down. I will see to it that all the towns of Judah are destroyed, with no one living there.”
“Find a way to channel your efforts and energy into what God would like for you to do and stay focused happily in a harmonious way.” ~ Jon Barnes
Find the hilarious things in life to laugh at while you work, so that you stay focused to keep working on your projects. Expect and know that everyone will not always like what you are doing. If God has not given you a project to work on for Him, you should be concerned about what you are doing with your time. Peacefully ask God what you should be doing and do the work.
Quietly and patiently be a part of the good solutions to problems and let people enjoy the benefit of having you around. Remember the job, message, and story that God givens you to share, relate, and respond to people, problems, and events. Give people access to God’s ways. These examples contain clues of happiness, success, and solutions to follow you around the world.
Use your instinct to follow God’s incentives, instructions, and intuition because God can see your motives from your heart. The Spirit will guide your heart, mind, and body. He will give you extra courage, support, clues, and cues to get the good work done. By exercising your faith, your fate is in good hands with God. If you do poor work and remain disobedient, you will harmoniously reap what you have sown.
Will you let God patiently map out your plans, work, exercises, activities, provisions, and family’s lifestyle in a harmonious way or will you become disobedient and naturally sabotage your future blessings?
Enjoy The Reading
The Good Shepherd and His Sheep
10 “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
6 Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant,7 so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them.9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock.13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me,15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.
17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again.18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”
19 When he said these things, the people were again divided in their opinions about him.20 Some said, “He’s demon possessed and out of his mind. Why listen to a man like that?”21 Others said, “This doesn’t sound like a man possessed by a demon! Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
Jesus Claims to Be the Son of God
22 It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication. 23 He was in the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s Colonnade.24 The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name.26 But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep.27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.30 The Father and I are one.”
31 Once again the people picked up stones to kill him.32 Jesus said, “At my Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone me?”
33 They replied, “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.”
34 Jesus replied, “It is written in your own Scriptures that God said to certain leaders of the people, ‘I say, you are gods!’35 And you know that the Scriptures cannot be altered. So if those people who received God’s message were called ‘gods,’36 why do you call it blasphemy when I say, ‘I am the Son of God’? After all, the Father set me apart and sent me into the world.37 Don’t believe me unless I carry out my Father’s work.38 But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.”
39 Once again they tried to arrest him, but he got away and left them.40 He went beyond the Jordan River near the place where John was first baptizing and stayed there awhile.41 And many followed him. “John didn’t perform miraculous signs,” they remarked to one another, “but everything he said about this man has come true.”42 And many who were there believed in Jesus.
“Each day has its own highs and lows so you might as well enjoy the ride.”~TB
I’ve been in the same place/space for over 3 months, which is about the longest time I’ve been in one spot since September 2018 when I made the wild/impromptu plan to travel the US. It was a wacky year of sorts filled with interesting people, places, and adventures. There were amazing wins and amazing losses but through it, all God never left me and I came out unharmed! I took a bunch of pictures to document my travels (which I used a couple for this post) and as I look back at them– recalling different events at various places– the only thing I’d change would be to worry less and take more pictures.
Moments in Time
Compared to eternity, life is ridiculously short. Unfortunately, many of us are so worried/focused on one thing or another, we fail to enjoy the life that God gave us. The good news is that God promises peace and not perfection, so if you’re willing to walk in faith, you can experience it. Looking back at these photos, I laugh, because if I had known what I do now, I would’ve chilled out quite a bit. But, that’s how life works, we have to make the best of what we have, practice Christ-like behaviors to one another, and enjoy the moments in time that are afforded to us. I don’t 100% know what tomorrow brings, but I do know that if we trust in God’s peace rather than our own we can learn to take the picture today instead of lamenting about tomorrow
Are you experiencing God’s peace today or your anxiety about tomorrow?
Enjoy the reading
1This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that? Could you build me such a resting place?
2My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the LORD, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.
3But those who choose their own ways— delighting in their detestable sins— will not have their offerings accepted. When such people sacrifice a bull, it is no more acceptable than a human sacrifice. When they sacrifice a lamb, it’s as though they had sacrificed a dog! When they bring an offering of grain, they might as well offer the blood of a pig. When they burn frankincense, it’s as if they had blessed an idol.
4I will send them great trouble— all the things they feared. For when I called, they did not answer. When I spoke, they did not listen. They deliberately sinned before my very eyes and chose to do what they know I despise.”
5Hear this message from the LORD, all you who tremble at his words: “Your own people hate you and throw you out for being loyal to my name. ‘Let the LORD be honored!’ they scoff. ‘Be joyful in him!’ But they will be put to shame.
6What is all the commotion in the city? What is that terrible noise from the Temple? It is the voice of the LORD taking vengeance against his enemies.
7“Before the birth pains even begin, Jerusalem gives birth to a son.
8Who has ever seen anything as strange as this? Who ever heard of such a thing? Has a nation ever been born in a single day? Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment? But by the time Jerusalem’s birth pains begin, her children will be born.
9Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth and then not deliver it?” asks the LORD . “No! I would never keep this nation from being born,” says your God.
10“Rejoice with Jerusalem! Be glad with her, all you who love her and all you who mourn for her.
11Drink deeply of her glory even as an infant drinks at its mother’s comforting breasts.”
12This is what the LORD says: “I will give Jerusalem a river of peace and prosperity. The wealth of the nations will flow to her. Her children will be nursed at her breasts, carried in her arms, and held on her lap.
13I will comfort you there in Jerusalem as a mother comforts her child.”
14When you see these things, your heart will rejoice. You will flourish like the grass! Everyone will see the LORD ’s hand of blessing on his servants— and his anger against his enemies.
15See, the LORD is coming with fire, and his swift chariots roar like a whirlwind. He will bring punishment with the fury of his anger and the flaming fire of his hot rebuke.
16The LORD will punish the world by fire and by his sword. He will judge the earth, and many will be killed by him.
17“Those who ‘consecrate’ and ‘purify’ themselves in a sacred garden with its idol in the center—feasting on pork and rats and other detestable meats—will come to a terrible end,” says the LORD .
18“I can see what they are doing, and I know what they are thinking. So I will gather all nations and peoples together, and they will see my glory.
19I will perform a sign among them. And I will send those who survive to be messengers to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (who are famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to all the lands beyond the sea that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. There they will declare my glory to the nations.
20They will bring the remnant of your people back from every nation. They will bring them to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD . They will ride on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the LORD .
21“And I will appoint some of them to be my priests and Levites. I, the LORD, have spoken!
22“As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain, so will you always be my people, with a name that will never disappear,” says the LORD .
23“All humanity will come to worship me from week to week and from month to month.
24And as they go out, they will see the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me. For the worms that devour them will never die, and the fire that burns them will never go out. All who pass by will view them with utter horror.”
“Until the day we die, there is always something to learn from God.”~TB
I was writing another blog post just a few moments ago, trying to break down some interesting concepts until I realized that the message wasn’t meant for the blog, but was a new ‘aha’ learning moment for me specifically. I took a minute to chew on it and was filled with joy at the new piece of the puzzle that I was given. To the outside world, I know a lot, but to tell you the truth, I’m also aware of how much I don’t know, which is why I keep pestering God with many, many questions. Fortunately, He is patient and doesn’t seem to mind answering them. Even better, being the Infinite being He is, we all can join in on His lesson plans.
Remarkably, the Bible has so much to say in every season of life. The Living Word is living up to its name, ha! As we go through this world, the wise teachings and stories are parallel to our own experiences, which is why we can glean so much information from one passage in any given era of our life. For example, I’ve read 2 Corinthians many times, yet, the other day, I got something out of it that I had not seen before. It encourages me to keep seeking the Truth in all of its forms because the lessons are neverending, and my relationship with God grows deeper and more joyful each passing day. I do have trying days like anyone else, but the comfort of the Lord makes them much more tolerable.
The Revelation of Reflection
When we quiet the external noise and train our minds to focus, God can then reveal the infinite amount of information that takes more than a lifetime to understand and pontificate on. Just when I think I know all of the statistical permutations, combinations, and variations there are to understand something, God drops another nugget of understanding, giving me something else to learn. The Truth is, we live in a chaotic, backward, deceitful world that benefits when we plug our ears, eyes, minds, and hearts from God. Many of us do not go on to learn and grow with God because of the distraction created by the world we inhabit. Fortunately for us, all we have to do is ask. Then, buckle up for a lifetime journey of learning.
Are you waiting until it’s too late to learn from God?
Enjoy the reading
1The LORD says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name.
2All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes.
3All day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens. They burn incense on pagan altars.
4At night they go out among the graves, worshiping the dead. They eat the flesh of pigs and make stews with other forbidden foods.
5Yet they say to each other, ‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me! I am holier than you!’ These people are a stench in my nostrils, an acrid smell that never goes away.
6“Look, my decree is written out in front of me: I will not stand silent; I will repay them in full! Yes, I will repay them—
7both for their own sins and for those of their ancestors,” says the LORD . “For they also burned incense on the mountains and insulted me on the hills. I will pay them back in full!
8“But I will not destroy them all,” says the LORD . “For just as good grapes are found among a cluster of bad ones (and someone will say, ‘Don’t throw them all away— some of those grapes are good!’), so I will not destroy all Israel. For I still have true servants there.
9I will preserve a remnant of the people of Israel and of Judah to possess my land. Those I choose will inherit it, and my servants will live there.
10The plain of Sharon will again be filled with flocks for my people who have searched for me, and the valley of Achor will be a place to pasture herds.
11“But because the rest of you have forsaken the LORD and have forgotten his Temple, and because you have prepared feasts to honor the god of Fate and have offered mixed wine to the god of Destiny,
12now I will ‘destine’ you for the sword. All of you will bow down before the executioner. For when I called, you did not answer. When I spoke, you did not listen. You deliberately sinned—before my very eyes— and chose to do what you know I despise.”
13Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “My servants will eat, but you will starve. My servants will drink, but you will be thirsty. My servants will rejoice, but you will be sad and ashamed.
14My servants will sing for joy, but you will cry in sorrow and despair.
15Your name will be a curse word among my people, for the Sovereign LORD will destroy you and will call his true servants by another name.
16All who invoke a blessing or take an oath will do so by the God of truth. For I will put aside my anger and forget the evil of earlier days.
17“Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.
18Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation! And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness. Her people will be a source of joy.
19I will rejoice over Jerusalem and delight in my people. And the sound of weeping and crying will be heard in it no more.
20“No longer will babies die when only a few days old. No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life. No longer will people be considered old at one hundred! Only the cursed will die that young!
21In those days people will live in the houses they build and eat the fruit of their own vineyards.
22Unlike the past, invaders will not take their houses and confiscate their vineyards. For my people will live as long as trees, and my chosen ones will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains.
23They will not work in vain, and their children will not be doomed to misfortune. For they are people blessed by the LORD, and their children, too, will be blessed.
24I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!
25The wolf and the lamb will feed together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. But the snakes will eat dust. In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
Salvation is the beginning to a potentially wild adventure. God has massive plans for you and all of His children. The challenge lies in if we’re willing to answer the call. Contrary to popular belief, God did not create us just to overcome problem after problem. We are not meant to be just barely clinging to the hope of Christ. In order to undertake whatever call that has been placed on your life, you must undergo the changes and growing pains that come along with it.
As a kid, I would accompany my family back to Maryland to visit relatives. Being a crab state, I remember watching my great grandmother prepare the crabs, AKA sticking these none the wiser crabs into their heated doom. Once the water got hot, you could hear the crabs scrambling to get out of the pot. When we are going through changes and growing periods, it can feel like you’re a crab in a boiling pot of water, desperately trying to get out before you meet your doom. But, unlike the crab, what lies in store for us is not our doom, but our freedom from whatever binds us in life.
Changing Your Tune
Growing pains are typically a mental shift rather than a physical one. To understand and accept the plan God has in place for you, you first must accept that He wants a victorious life for you. Victory comes in many forms, not just the “million dollars and fancy houses”. Victory can be over your health, sobriety, relationships, and so on. Instead of trying to ‘get out of the boiling pot’, lean on God and lean into the discipline of making changes. As my dad says often, “You eat the elephant one bite at a time”. So the next time you feel the boiling temptation of going off course, consult God, accept His plan, and take calculated steps to get there. His Ways are ultimately and infinitely far better than ours.
1Who is this who comes from Edom, from the city of Bozrah, with his clothing stained red? Who is this in royal robes, marching in his great strength? “It is I, the LORD, announcing your salvation! It is I, the LORD, who has the power to save!”
2Why are your clothes so red, as if you have been treading out grapes?
3“I have been treading the winepress alone; no one was there to help me. In my anger I have trampled my enemies as if they were grapes. In my fury I have trampled my foes. Their blood has stained my clothes.
4For the time has come for me to avenge my people, to ransom them from their oppressors.
5I was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So I myself stepped in to save them with my strong arm, and my wrath sustained me.
6I crushed the nations in my anger and made them stagger and fall to the ground, spilling their blood upon the earth.”
7I will tell of the LORD ’s unfailing love. I will praise the LORD for all he has done. I will rejoice in his great goodness to Israel, which he has granted according to his mercy and love.
8He said, “They are my very own people. Surely they will not betray me again.” And he became their Savior.
9In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.
10But they rebelled against him and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he became their enemy and fought against them.
11Then they remembered those days of old when Moses led his people out of Egypt. They cried out, “Where is the one who brought Israel through the sea, with Moses as their shepherd? Where is the one who sent his Holy Spirit to be among his people?
12Where is the one whose power was displayed when Moses lifted up his hand— the one who divided the sea before them, making himself famous forever?
13Where is the one who led them through the bottom of the sea? They were like fine stallions racing through the desert, never stumbling.
14As with cattle going down into a peaceful valley, the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. You led your people, LORD, and gained a magnificent reputation.”
15LORD, look down from heaven; look from your holy, glorious home, and see us. Where is the passion and the might you used to show on our behalf? Where are your mercy and compassion now?
16Surely you are still our Father! Even if Abraham and Jacob would disown us, LORD, you would still be our Father. You are our Redeemer from ages past.
17LORD, why have you allowed us to turn from your path? Why have you given us stubborn hearts so we no longer fear you? Return and help us, for we are your servants, the tribes that are your special possession.
18How briefly your holy people possessed your holy place, and now our enemies have destroyed it.
19Sometimes it seems as though we never belonged to you, as though we had never been known as your people.
“In all the you do, resolve to keep Christ at the top of your life.”~TB
Put to Bed
It’s the New Year and with the beginning of the calendar comes a lot of reflection, refocus, and resolutions. One of the best things about reflecting with God is that you can see where you’ve been, where you are, and where you are going in your walk. No, perfection will never happen, but hopefully, obedience is on the rise. So in the coming year, resolve to put to bed any foolishness of the past. As Christ makes a new work in us, our tom-foolery of yesterday can no long remain in our new positions.
As God promotes you with wisdom, kindness, and the daily bread to sustain your faith, promote yourselves but placing Him above all else in your life. When we position God at the top as the center of our existence, we then can see life in 2020 (a little New Year pun, ha!), as He un-blurs His plan for your life. Look at life’s opportunities as learning lessons from above, that will prune, refine, and elevate you into your calling. A new chapter brings new ideas, new challenges, and new joys. Remember that God equips us for it all, so live in His victory this year and on.
Are you walking with Christ to see His Resolution?
Enjoy the reading
1Listen! The LORD ’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.
2It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.
3Your hands are the hands of murderers, and your fingers are filthy with sin. Your lips are full of lies, and your mouth spews corruption.
4No one cares about being fair and honest. The people’s lawsuits are based on lies. They conceive evil deeds and then give birth to sin.
5They hatch deadly snakes and weave spiders’ webs. Whoever eats their eggs will die; whoever cracks them will hatch a viper.
6Their webs can’t be made into clothing, and nothing they do is productive. All their activity is filled with sin, and violence is their trademark.
7Their feet run to do evil, and they rush to commit murder. They think only about sinning. Misery and destruction always follow them.
8They don’t know where to find peace or what it means to be just and good. They have mapped out crooked roads, and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace.
9So there is no justice among us, and we know nothing about right living. We look for light but find only darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom.
10We grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark. Among the living, we are like the dead.
11We growl like hungry bears; we moan like mournful doves. We look for justice, but it never comes. We look for rescue, but it is far away from us.
12For our sins are piled up before God and testify against us. Yes, we know what sinners we are.
13We know we have rebelled and have denied the LORD . We have turned our backs on our God. We know how unfair and oppressive we have been, carefully planning our deceitful lies.
14Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed.
15Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked. The LORD looked and was displeased to find there was no justice.
16He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him.
17He put on righteousness as his body armor and placed the helmet of salvation on his head. He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.
18He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds. His fury will fall on his foes. He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth.
19In the west, people will respect the name of the LORD ; in the east, they will glorify him. For he will come like a raging flood tide driven by the breath of the LORD .
20“The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins,” says the LORD .
21“And this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD . “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the LORD, have spoken!
“In case of emergencies (or in everyday life), tap into the Holy Humor of God.”~TB
The Divine Chuckle
God has to have the greatest sense of humor of all time. Just look at us, we are a funny bunch. I’m sure He looks down at us, and has a good chuckle from time to time. And if you learn how, you too can get in on the joke. The older I get, the more I’m convinced that when we endure trying times, in those moments we are able to experience the the kindness and humor of God. If you take a step back and look, you can begin to see God in His kindness and mercy, rather than the Old Testament look we tend to view Him as. Take the holidays and family, for example. Many of us in the Western part of the world are wrapping up the holiday season, which means time spent with your family– for better or worse.
Family can bring the greatest sense of joy. They can also provide the greatest amount of strife as those closest to us know (consciously or otherwise) how to get under our skin. Family functions will always have a sort of dysfunction because we’re all flesh-bag beings who are severely imperfect, and no amount of strategically choreographed photos can change that. Be that as it may, the art of seeing the humor in discord serves two purposes. 1.) You learn not to pick up the sword and you can disarm a brewing battle. 2.) It’s a fun way to take the sting out of the situation. Like the gauge of a pressure cooker, Holy laughter alleviates the boiling pot of tension in family gatherings, safely dismantling a lethal weapon, repurposing it into a fun endeavor.
For Better or Worse
This life is full of hills and valleys, highs and lows. If you can’t find the humor or absurdity in situations, friends it’s going to be a long and arduous venture. So the next time Uncle Frank (no offense to the Franks of the world) makes an insensitive comment or your cousin asks to borrow a couple bucks from you, have a laugh with God, and let the moments float on by as punch lines of your Holy Comedy Routine. The more you learn to chuckle and roll with the punches, the less opportunities are available for the opposition to sow seeds of discord. Remember, when in doubt, have a chuckle with God and laugh it out.
Are you able to see God’s Humor or are you the butt of the joke?
Enjoy the reading
1“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins!
2Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.
3‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers.
4What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.
5You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD ?
6“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people.
7Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
8“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.
9Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.
12Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.
13“Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD ’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
14Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
“Imagine what our relationship with God would be if we only followed His directions.”~TB
In theory, God’s Will, laws, and ways are not difficult to understand. That said, it’s amazing how fickle, fleshly, and wayward we can be. God will give us simple, easy to follow instructions, but like Red Riding Hood, something catches our eye and we stray from the path. Then when we are at the mercy of our choices and the opposition, we cry out to God to put us back on the straight and narrow. And when He does, many of us often fall back into the same pattern, never maturing in Christ. When you reflect on this, it’s hard not to think about how odd and foolish we can be.
As flesh-driven creatures, obedience to Christ and His ways is tough! We have to humbly submit ourselves to His plans and designs for our lives. The struggle lies in allowing Christ behind the wheel instead of driving ourselves. The ironic part is that walking in step with Christ yields fruit way sweeter than anything we can cultivate on our own. However, to actualize this, we must reign in our behavior, thoughts, and minds, following the instruction of God rather than our own directions. When that happens God can then use us to our full potential.
Where could you be if you followed the directions of Christ?
Enjoy the reading
1Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come.
2For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die.
3“But you—come here, you witches’ children, you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!
4Whom do you mock, making faces and sticking out your tongues? You children of sinners and liars!
5You worship your idols with great passion beneath the oaks and under every green tree. You sacrifice your children down in the valleys, among the jagged rocks in the cliffs.
6Your gods are the smooth stones in the valleys. You worship them with liquid offerings and grain offerings. They, not I, are your inheritance. Do you think all this makes me happy?
7You have committed adultery on every high mountain. There you have worshiped idols and have been unfaithful to me.
8You have put pagan symbols on your doorposts and behind your doors. You have left me and climbed into bed with these detestable gods. You have committed yourselves to them. You love to look at their naked bodies.
9You have gone to Molech with olive oil and many perfumes, sending your agents far and wide, even to the world of the dead.
10You grew weary in your search, but you never gave up. Desire gave you renewed strength, and you did not grow weary.
11“Are you afraid of these idols? Do they terrify you? Is that why you have lied to me and forgotten me and my words? Is it because of my long silence that you no longer fear me?
12Now I will expose your so-called good deeds. None of them will help you.
13Let’s see if your idols can save you when you cry to them for help. Why, a puff of wind can knock them down! If you just breathe on them, they fall over! But whoever trusts in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.”
14God says, “Rebuild the road! Clear away the rocks and stones so my people can return from captivity.”
15The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.
16For I will not fight against you forever; I will not always be angry. If I were, all people would pass away— all the souls I have made.
17I was angry, so I punished these greedy people. I withdrew from them, but they kept going on their own stubborn way.
18I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn,
19bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far,” says the LORD, who heals them.
20“But those who still reject me are like the restless sea, which is never still but continually churns up mud and dirt.
“We are all God’s agents, dispatched to exemplify His name on various missions.”~TB
Spoiler alert: you don’t have to go out of the country to a foreign land to go on missions for Christ. In fact, chances are you can do more for you neighbor in God’s name than you can to someone who may not be able to fully understand your language. That’s not a dig at those doing great works in other nations. It is a gentle reminder that we all have a duty to help the poor, the widowed, and the downtrodden which you can easily find in your backyard. Like agents on a secret mission, listen to your Holy Commander for your next assignment. That could be feeding the less fortunate, uplifting a family member or neighbor, the list is long and God knows who to select for the cause. If you are looking for a way to get in on the fun that is serving Christ through serving others, all you have to do is look at the Word for guidance.
Spoiler alert #2: you don’t have to shove the Word down the throat of those you serve on your Mission. Look at your dossier– The Word– and read it carefully to understand its instructions. A lot of us get caught up in our egos and go off script with our “help” causing more harm than good. God calls us to be examplesnot enforcers, and there is a difference. Your Mission is torpedoed when you go off script and blow your cover. When working for God, all you have to do is be a light, shining kindness, love, mercy, and humility when carrying out your mission. We are not dispatched to judge because that job is solely reserved for the One who can. So instead of beating the Bible across the faces of “heathens”, try meeting a need. If you are truly looking to show people who God is, love them as He loves you; which means keep the self-righteousness and judgment at home.
Are you carrying out God’s Mission or your own?
Enjoy the reading
1This is what the LORD says: “Be just and fair to all. Do what is right and good, for I am coming soon to rescue you and to display my righteousness among you.
2Blessed are all those who are careful to do this. Blessed are those who honor my Sabbath days of rest and keep themselves from doing wrong.
3“Don’t let foreigners who commit themselves to the LORD say, ‘The LORD will never let me be part of his people.’ And don’t let the eunuchs say, ‘I’m a dried-up tree with no children and no future.’
4For this is what the LORD says: I will bless those eunuchs who keep my Sabbath days holy and who choose to do what pleases me and commit their lives to me.
5I will give them—within the walls of my house— a memorial and a name far greater than sons and daughters could give. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear!
6“I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the LORD, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant.
7I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.
8For the Sovereign LORD, who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says: I will bring others, too, besides my people Israel.”
9Come, wild animals of the field! Come, wild animals of the forest! Come and devour my people!
10For the leaders of my people— the LORD ’s watchmen, his shepherds— are blind and ignorant. They are like silent watchdogs that give no warning when danger comes. They love to lie around, sleeping and dreaming.
11Like greedy dogs, they are never satisfied. They are ignorant shepherds, all following their own path and intent on personal gain.
12“Come,” they say, “let’s get some wine and have a party. Let’s all get drunk. Then tomorrow we’ll do it again and have an even bigger party!”
“You will never be able to control the environment or its condition, so weatherproof yourself in God.”
I was having a chat with someone the other day and they put a damper on my goals. I should rephrase that, I allowed their words to impact my resolve. I sulked about it for a minute before whining to God about the situation. As I was walking, I was met with this idea: does the vision change if someone else can’t see it? That stopped me dead in my tracks, and I realized that I cannot take offense to someone who cannot see what I see. None of us can.
Our lives will be filled with ups and downs, peaks and valleys and whatever analogy you can think of. People— well-intentioned or not— will always ‘piss in your Wheaties’ but that doesn’t mean you have to eat them. God works within us in His own way. My walk will look different than yours and everyone else’s. As such, when He puts visions, dreams, goals, and the like into our hearts and minds, it is something that only He and you can see.
So the next time you endure opposition of any kind, remember who gave you sight. He didn’t put things on your heart without a reason. God never promised an easy life, He promised peace. Part of obtaining and maintaining that peace is knowing where it comes from and going back to the source when the weather takes a turn for the worst. If you want the Holy Raincoat, talk to Him and read His Word regularly. When you align with the Source, the storms and bad weather are inconsequential as within He is weatherproof and He lives within you.
Are you ready to get out of the storm?
Enjoy today’s reading
1“Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance— all who seek the LORD ! Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined.
2Yes, think about Abraham, your ancestor, and Sarah, who gave birth to your nation. Abraham was only one man when I called him. But when I blessed him, he became a great nation.”
3The LORD will comfort Israel again and have pity on her ruins. Her desert will blossom like Eden, her barren wilderness like the garden of the LORD . Joy and gladness will be found there. Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air.
4“Listen to me, my people. Hear me, Israel, for my law will be proclaimed, and my justice will become a light to the nations.
5My mercy and justice are coming soon. My salvation is on the way. My strong arm will bring justice to the nations. All distant lands will look to me and wait in hope for my powerful arm.
6Look up to the skies above, and gaze down on the earth below. For the skies will disappear like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a piece of clothing. The people of the earth will die like flies, but my salvation lasts forever. My righteous rule will never end!
7“Listen to me, you who know right from wrong, you who cherish my law in your hearts. Do not be afraid of people’s scorn, nor fear their insults.
8For the moth will devour them as it devours clothing. The worm will eat at them as it eats wool. But my righteousness will last forever. My salvation will continue from generation to generation.”
9Wake up, wake up, O LORD ! Clothe yourself with strength! Flex your mighty right arm! Rouse yourself as in the days of old when you slew Egypt, the dragon of the Nile.
10Are you not the same today, the one who dried up the sea, making a path of escape through the depths so that your people could cross over?
11Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
12“I, yes I, am the one who comforts you. So why are you afraid of mere humans, who wither like the grass and disappear?
13Yet you have forgotten the LORD, your Creator, the one who stretched out the sky like a canopy and laid the foundations of the earth. Will you remain in constant dread of human oppressors? Will you continue to fear the anger of your enemies? Where is their fury and anger now? It is gone!
14Soon all you captives will be released! Imprisonment, starvation, and death will not be your fate!
15For I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea, causing its waves to roar. My name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
16And I have put my words in your mouth and hidden you safely in my hand. I stretched out the sky like a canopy and laid the foundations of the earth. I am the one who says to Israel, ‘You are my people!’”
17Wake up, wake up, O Jerusalem! You have drunk the cup of the LORD ’s fury. You have drunk the cup of terror, tipping out its last drops.
18Not one of your children is left alive to take your hand and guide you.
19These two calamities have fallen on you: desolation and destruction, famine and war. And who is left to sympathize with you? Who is left to comfort you?
20For your children have fainted and lie in the streets, helpless as antelopes caught in a net. The LORD has poured out his fury; God has rebuked them.
21But now listen to this, you afflicted ones who sit in a drunken stupor, though not from drinking wine.
22This is what the Sovereign LORD, your God and Defender, says: “See, I have taken the terrible cup from your hands. You will drink no more of my fury.
23Instead, I will hand that cup to your tormentors, those who said, ‘We will trample you into the dust and walk on your backs.’”