“When guilt rears its ugly head, gratitude is the best strategy to defeat it.”~TB
The Shame Game
I have an annoying tendency to downplay my talents and strengths while drilling down on my areas of improvement. More interesting, I know a lot of people who do that too, which makes me wonder why? I could be “killing it” in different areas of my life, but if I’m not paying attention, my inner video of “greatest shame hits” plays, attempting to eclipse the victories that have occurred. When we lean into those shameful periods and feelings, we fall trap into negative cyclical thinking that ultimately steers us back to the very behaviors we’d like to avoid. An untethered mind is a dangerous place. We all have different inner voices, ideas, and thoughts that can uplift or deter us, which is why it’s so important to know who and what you’re listening to.
Attitude of Gratitude
So instead of focusing on your past transgressions (we all have them) look at the gifts and grace that God provides you with gratitude. We’ve all been spared the wrath that we each justly deserve and there are so many minor miracles that we all tend to forget about, but they occur each and every day. If you find yourself in a new position, be grateful and reflect on the situations you’ve experienced that prepare you for this new road. The opposition deceives you when you believe that being down and out is the only way of life. Gratitude defeats the nefarious schemes of shame and the opposition. It allows us to see ourselves as God sees us. God’s Will is mighty and wondrous, but it is up to us to individually and consistently put down our cup of shame and pick up the peace of gratitude.
Are you listening to the lies of shame or embracing God’s mercy with gratitude?
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1This is the message the LORD gave Jeremiah when Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah:
2“Go to the settlement where the families of the Recabites live, and invite them to the LORD ’s Temple. Take them into one of the inner rooms, and offer them some wine.”
3So I went to see Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah and grandson of Habazziniah and all his brothers and sons—representing all the Recabite families.
4I took them to the Temple, and we went into the room assigned to the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah, a man of God. This room was located next to the one used by the Temple officials, directly above the room of Maaseiah son of Shallum, the Temple gatekeeper.
5I set cups and jugs of wine before them and invited them to have a drink,
6but they refused. “No,” they said, “we don’t drink wine, because our ancestor Jehonadab son of Recab gave us this command: ‘You and your descendants must never drink wine.
7And do not build houses or plant crops or vineyards, but always live in tents. If you follow these commands, you will live long, good lives in the land.’
8So we have obeyed him in all these things. We have never had a drink of wine to this day, nor have our wives, our sons, or our daughters.
9We haven’t built houses or owned vineyards or farms or planted crops.
10We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed all the commands of Jehonadab, our ancestor.
11But when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked this country, we were afraid of the Babylonian and Syrian armies. So we decided to move to Jerusalem. That is why we are here.”
12Then the LORD gave this message to Jeremiah:
13“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: Go and say to the people in Judah and Jerusalem, ‘Come and learn a lesson about how to obey me.
14The Recabites do not drink wine to this day because their ancestor Jehonadab told them not to. But I have spoken to you again and again, and you refuse to obey me.
15Time after time I sent you prophets, who told you, “Turn from your wicked ways, and start doing things right. Stop worshiping other gods so that you might live in peace here in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.” But you would not listen to me or obey me.
16The descendants of Jehonadab son of Recab have obeyed their ancestor completely, but you have refused to listen to me.’
17“Therefore, this is what the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Because you refuse to listen or answer when I call, I will send upon Judah and Jerusalem all the disasters I have threatened.’”
18Then Jeremiah turned to the Recabites and said, “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘You have obeyed your ancestor Jehonadab in every respect, following all his instructions.’
19Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Jehonadab son of Recab will always have descendants who serve me.’”
“God is selective in whom He chooses to Go to Heaven, but He doesn’t select who Goes to Hell. Your personal actions of disobedience to God will condemn you to the bottomless pit.” ~ Jon Barnes
Determine in your heart, mind, body, and spirit to follow Christ in all that you do so that The Blood of Jesus is upon your life and soul. When you resist God’s Commandments and laws and replace them with your own laws of deceit, power, greed, lust, and lawlessness, you will be rejected at the Gates of Heaven. Determine your destination with diligence, faith and your work for God.
Sincerely consider what is at stake with your mindset, decisions, and methods of service, which is once in a lifetime opportunity to please God, your Heavenly Father. Prove to yourself that you are committed to doing the sincere work of faith, by caring for your family and others. God requires all of us to balance our love for Him with service steps of love in wisdom. Sincerely line up your life with the lifestyle of faith in God and you will do the work automatically because you love God in Spirit and in Truth.
It is delightful to know that few of you will read the Bible and do the work of The Lord, as it is painful to know that most of you will not read the Bible and connect with God’s agenda. Otherwise, the kingdom of God would become full of the many devilish followers of lies, lust, and sin. Find your way to Christ before it is too late. I am thankful that I have made my choice to select God’s Ways of Love, Truth, and Justice.
Have you made a real commitment to follow Jesus or are you following all of the other types of religious false gods, myths, and legends?
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Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet
13 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. 2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God.4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist,5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
6 When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
8 “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”
Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
9 Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.”11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing?13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am.14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message.17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.
Jesus Predicts His Betrayal
18 “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me.’ 19 I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I am the Messiah.20 I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me.”
21 Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!”
22 The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean.23 The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table.24 Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s he talking about?”25 So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”
26 Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot.27 When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.”28 None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant.29 Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor.30 So Judas left at once, going out into the night.
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
31 As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. 32 And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will give his own glory to the Son, and he will do so at once.33 Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going.34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
36 Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?”
And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.”
37 “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.”
38 Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.
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.
“Darkness cannot remain when you turn on the Light.”~TB
Fear of the unknown. Many of us have trouble understanding what we cannot see or what we do not know. When we are unaware of the Truth of Christ, we fall prey to fearing the lies and falsehoods of the world and opposition. Like a strange figure in the dark, we are afraid of what could be instead of basking in the light of what is. Just like that strange blob in the darkness, when you flip on the light switch, you realize that it’s a coat on a hanger or some other innocuous object. If you’re like me, you laugh that you were afraid of the initial fear because in reality, there was nothing to fear at all! There are so many ‘afraid of the dark’ situation that we will face in this world. So, instead of bowing down to the fear, turn on the Light that is God.
When you know Who made you and you are in relationship with Him, you understand your purpose and the path becomes lit up and clear. Knowing Christ is like the ultimate luminous source because His Truth exposes the darkness and lies. We read the Bible not out of blind obedience, but because of the Truth and Light it provides for every day of our lives. When the lights are on, you don’t fall prey to the shadows because you see things for what they are instead of fearing what they could be. Of course temptation will remain, but you will see clearly what path and choices you make. So the next time you’re struggling with fear, turn on the Light that is Christ. Cling to His Truth and purpose for your life so that He may light your way and expose the nonsense of the dark.
Are you stalled by the fear of dark shadows or are you walking in the Light of Christ?
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1“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the LORD rises to shine on you.
2Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the LORD rises and appears over you.
3All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance.
4“Look and see, for everyone is coming home! Your sons are coming from distant lands; your little daughters will be carried home.
5Your eyes will shine, and your heart will thrill with joy, for merchants from around the world will come to you. They will bring you the wealth of many lands.
6Vast caravans of camels will converge on you, the camels of Midian and Ephah. The people of Sheba will bring gold and frankincense and will come worshiping the LORD .
7The flocks of Kedar will be given to you, and the rams of Nebaioth will be brought for my altars. I will accept their offerings, and I will make my Temple glorious.
8“And what do I see flying like clouds to Israel, like doves to their nests?
9They are ships from the ends of the earth, from lands that trust in me, led by the great ships of Tarshish. They are bringing the people of Israel home from far away, carrying their silver and gold. They will honor the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has filled you with splendor.
10“Foreigners will come to rebuild your towns, and their kings will serve you. For though I have destroyed you in my anger, I will now have mercy on you through my grace.
11Your gates will stay open day and night to receive the wealth of many lands. The kings of the world will be led as captives in a victory procession.
12For the nations that refuse to serve you will be destroyed.
13“The glory of Lebanon will be yours— the forests of cypress, fir, and pine— to beautify my sanctuary. My Temple will be glorious!
14The descendants of your tormentors will come and bow before you. Those who despised you will kiss your feet. They will call you the City of the LORD, and Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
15“Though you were once despised and hated, with no one traveling through you, I will make you beautiful forever, a joy to all generations.
16Powerful kings and mighty nations will satisfy your every need, as though you were a child nursing at the breast of a queen. You will know at last that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.
17I will exchange your bronze for gold, your iron for silver, your wood for bronze, and your stones for iron. I will make peace your leader and righteousness your ruler.
18Violence will disappear from your land; the desolation and destruction of war will end. Salvation will surround you like city walls, and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there.
19“No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the LORD your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
20Your sun will never set; your moon will not go down. For the LORD will be your everlasting light. Your days of mourning will come to an end.
21All your people will be righteous. They will possess their land forever, for I will plant them there with my own hands in order to bring myself glory.
22The smallest family will become a thousand people, and the tiniest group will become a mighty nation. At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen.”
“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?
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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?
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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!”
Have you ever noticed how the majority of the world’s standards and practices go against the Biblical and wise solutions and messages of Christ? More to the point, society teaches us the very ideas that poison our mind, body, and spirit. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but hear me out. What we eat, how we think, what we do with our bodies— there’s this indoctrination of indulgence and gluttony. We also glorify a lazy and mediocre existence. For argument’s sake, let’s drop the morality perspective and focus on the physiological. The mind, body and soul are all connected, which means how we treat one impacts the rest.
How’s your thought life? Do you hold yourself in a positive light or do you allow others to tear you down and believe their lies? Stinkin’ Thinkin’— as Joyce Meyer calls it— is detrimental to your wellbeing. The beauty is that we can control what we choose to think about. Of course, that take a conscious and present effort. Distraction is the ultimate slippery slope to a junky thought life. When your thoughts are negative, you’re less likely to take care of yourself, both physically and spiritually. This feeds directly into how you treat your body.
Physical activity is incredibly important. It helps us to reconcile the mind junk and hold on to the positive truths. Food is also key. What are you eating? Fun fact, your stomach contains neurons, which acts as your second brain. So when you eat junk, it messes with your brain. When we talk about mental health, it’s impossible not to connect your dietary habits with your mind because your stomach quite literally contributes to it. As for the soul connection, if you’re out there using your body like a playground with others, friends there are major spiritual implications.
Have you ever wondered why we call liquor ‘spirits’? Alcohol isn’t inherently bad, I mean Jesus turned water into wine after all. But context matters as does the spiritual implications of drugs (I could go on but this post is pretty long already). Sex in its proper context is great! However, when it’s as common as a handshake, as the saying goes, if you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas. And I’m not just talking about diseases. Though our society teaches a “free spirit” and “sex positive” attitude, it fails to teach you the spiritual pitfalls that come from that lifestyle. There is a spiritual transference that occurs and you’re essentially giving pieces of yourself whenever you partake. No, this isn’t meant to shame you into celibacy. In fact, this isn’t about shame at all. But notice how these three things cycle back together. A broken mind leads to a broken body thus leading to a broken spirit, or any combination of the three. So why is this important?
Because God created us, our minds, bodies, and souls cannot be explained without Him. We are like his custom-built machines, which mean He’s the ultimate User Manual. So if we stand a chance to flee from our flesh, the world and the opposition, we have to continually read and understand the User Manual AKA the Bible. When we engage in pleasure-seeking activities that exist outside of His will for us, we suffer. No, not because He’s punishing us, it’s because we aren’t operating as intended. It’s like putting diesel fuel in a gas tank. You’re going to mess up the engine. We must stop perceiving discipline and obedience as punitive but as the guidelines for healthy operation. Guard your mind, body, and soul accordingly so that you can work as God intended. He made you for a purpose.
Who or what is in control of your “machinery”
1“Come down, virgin daughter of Babylon, and sit in the dust. For your days of sitting on a throne have ended. O daughter of Babylonia, never again will you be the lovely princess, tender and delicate.
2Take heavy millstones and grind flour. Remove your veil, and strip off your robe. Expose yourself to public view.
3You will be naked and burdened with shame. I will take vengeance against you without pity.”
4Our Redeemer, whose name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, is the Holy One of Israel.
5“O beautiful Babylon, sit now in darkness and silence. Never again will you be known as the queen of kingdoms.
6For I was angry with my chosen people and punished them by letting them fall into your hands. But you, Babylon, showed them no mercy. You oppressed even the elderly.
7You said, ‘I will reign forever as queen of the world!’ You did not reflect on your actions or think about their consequences.
8“Listen to this, you pleasure-loving kingdom, living at ease and feeling secure. You say, ‘I am the only one, and there is no other. I will never be a widow or lose my children.’
9Well, both these things will come upon you in a moment: widowhood and the loss of your children. Yes, these calamities will come upon you, despite all your witchcraft and magic.
10“You felt secure in your wickedness. ‘No one sees me,’ you said. But your ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’ have led you astray, and you said, ‘I am the only one, and there is no other.’
11So disaster will overtake you, and you won’t be able to charm it away. Calamity will fall upon you, and you won’t be able to buy your way out. A catastrophe will strike you suddenly, one for which you are not prepared.
12“Now use your magical charms! Use the spells you have worked at all these years! Maybe they will do you some good. Maybe they can make someone afraid of you.
13All the advice you receive has made you tired. Where are all your astrologers, those stargazers who make predictions each month? Let them stand up and save you from what the future holds.
14But they are like straw burning in a fire; they cannot save themselves from the flame. You will get no help from them at all; their hearth is no place to sit for warmth.
15And all your friends, those with whom you’ve done business since childhood, will go their own ways, turning a deaf ear to your cries.
“The Body of Christ means that we are all in this together.”~TB
Church is God’s people, not merely a place you go to on Sunday to check off your sanctified box. Church is everyday, doing life with you brother, sister, family, neighbor and so on. It means stepping in to help the widowed, the poor, the downtrodden, and the like. It means mirroring the ways of Jesus to the best of our ability. Unfortunately, somewhere down the line, many of us missed the memo on the lessons that Christ actually conveyed.
If you’re idea of Christianity is looking like an Instagram filter on Sundays while judging the members of your church based on a vanity metric system, you need to recalibrate. Our roles as children of God is to spread His message, and not our personal agendas. We must check out egos at the door and see what is needed and not just what we want. There is much more gained in giving than receiving. In all that you do, remember what Jesus did to guide your way.
Are you stepping up or stepping on your brothers and sisters?
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1Bel and Nebo, the gods of Babylon, bow as they are lowered to the ground. They are being hauled away on ox carts. The poor beasts stagger under the weight.
2Both the idols and their owners are bowed down. The gods cannot protect the people, and the people cannot protect the gods. They go off into captivity together.
3“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born.
4I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.
5“To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?
6Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god from it. Then they bow down and worship it!
7They carry it around on their shoulders, and when they set it down, it stays there. It can’t even move! And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It can’t rescue anyone from trouble.
8“Do not forget this! Keep it in mind! Remember this, you guilty ones.
9Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me.
10Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.
11I will call a swift bird of prey from the east— a leader from a distant land to come and do my bidding. I have said what I would do, and I will do it.
12“Listen to me, you stubborn people who are so far from doing right.
13For I am ready to set things right, not in the distant future, but right now! I am ready to save Jerusalem and show my glory to Israel.
“God’s blueprint for our lives is far better than our own.”~TB
Pursuing plans without consulting God is like building a house that’s not up to code. You’ll end up with a crooked foundation, busted plumbing, or worse trying to combine a faulty blueprint with someone else’s blueprint. More to the point, when we try and show our “handy work” to God, we end up offended that He doesn’t co-sign our convoluted workmanship.
Up to Code
When you’re tired of failing inspections, it’s time to go to God, the Holy Home Inspector. If you ask Him for an assessment on your blueprint, He will show you all of the ways of which your does not measure up. Instead of trying to make corrections on a faulty home, ask God for His blueprint for your life. His plans will result in a lifelong, sustainable dwelling.
Are you ready to accept your true blueprint or does shoddy workmanship cut it?
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1“Look at my servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen one, who pleases me. I have put my Spirit upon him. He will bring justice to the nations.
2He will not shout or raise his voice in public.
3He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
4He will not falter or lose heart until justice prevails throughout the earth. Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction. ”
5God, the LORD, created the heavens and stretched them out. He created the earth and everything in it. He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth. And it is he who says,
6“I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be a light to guide the nations.
7You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.
8“I am the LORD ; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols.
9Everything I prophesied has come true, and now I will prophesy again. I will tell you the future before it happens.”
10Sing a new song to the LORD ! Sing his praises from the ends of the earth! Sing, all you who sail the seas, all you who live in distant coastlands.
11Join in the chorus, you desert towns; let the villages of Kedar rejoice! Let the people of Sela sing for joy; shout praises from the mountaintops!
12Let the whole world glorify the LORD ; let it sing his praise.
13The LORD will march forth like a mighty hero; he will come out like a warrior, full of fury. He will shout his battle cry and crush all his enemies.
14He will say, “I have long been silent; yes, I have restrained myself. But now, like a woman in labor, I will cry and groan and pant.
15I will level the mountains and hills and blight all their greenery. I will turn the rivers into dry land and will dry up all the pools.
16I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.
17But those who trust in idols, who say, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned away in shame.
18“Listen, you who are deaf! Look and see, you blind!
19Who is as blind as my own people, my servant? Who is as deaf as my messenger? Who is as blind as my chosen people, the servant of the LORD ?
20You see and recognize what is right but refuse to act on it. You hear with your ears, but you don’t really listen.”
21Because he is righteous, the LORD has exalted his glorious law.
22But his own people have been robbed and plundered, enslaved, imprisoned, and trapped. They are fair game for anyone and have no one to protect them, no one to take them back home.
23Who will hear these lessons from the past and see the ruin that awaits you in the future?
24Who allowed Israel to be robbed and hurt? It was the LORD, against whom we sinned, for the people would not walk in his path, nor would they obey his law.
25Therefore, he poured out his fury on them and destroyed them in battle. They were enveloped in flames, but they still refused to understand. They were consumed by fire, but they did not learn their lesson
“Your brother is not your enemy, but the devil’s strategy is to make it appear like so.
If we are ALL God’s children, then we must love each other as God loves us. That means loving those you don’t understand, agree with, or even like. Let that sink in for a moment. Every one of us is God’s sheep that belongs in His Holy Stable. That includes the guy that cut you off, your boss who steals your ideas, the cousin who gives backhanded compliments during holiday events. Like it or not, they are God’s people too. The only true enemy we have is the devil and he will try and pit us against each other to circumvent that truth. I struggle to remind myself that no matter the circumstance, a loving Christ-like approach is best. Pray for me as I have to regularly drive the freeway in Las Vegas. I need it.
If we do not take up the cross and reflect the light God gives us, we are no better (and probably worse) than those who do not know Him at all! Don’t be an unwitting foot soldier for the opposition. Your relationship with Christ is not some superiority badge to tout in front of the lost. When you act better than people because you ‘believe’ in God, you fail to understand the mission of Jesus and why His life covers us all. No, the worst case for Christianity is a haughty ‘christian’. Instead, give mercy and kindness to those who don’t deserve it. I can recall the many times God has shown me mercy when He surely was right to give judgment. While I am not perfect (and never will be) I try and extend that grace to those I encounter. When I fail, I try and reflect to do better. So let us remember who Created us and how He loves us, so that we may love our brothers and sisters that same way.
Do you love your brother or are you an enemy of the truth?
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1“Listen in silence before me, you lands beyond the sea. Bring your strongest arguments. Come now and speak. The court is ready for your case.
2“Who has stirred up this king from the east, rightly calling him to God’s service? Who gives this man victory over many nations and permits him to trample their kings underfoot? With his sword, he reduces armies to dust. With his bow, he scatters them like chaff before the wind.
3He chases them away and goes on safely, though he is walking over unfamiliar ground.
4Who has done such mighty deeds, summoning each new generation from the beginning of time? It is I, the LORD, the First and the Last. I alone am he.”
5The lands beyond the sea watch in fear. Remote lands tremble and mobilize for war.
6The idol makers encourage one another, saying to each other, “Be strong!”
7The carver encourages the goldsmith, and the molder helps at the anvil. “Good,” they say. “It’s coming along fine.” Carefully they join the parts together, then fasten the thing in place so it won’t fall over.
8“But as for you, Israel my servant, Jacob my chosen one, descended from Abraham my friend,
9I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away.
10Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
11“See, all your angry enemies lie there, confused and humiliated. Anyone who opposes you will die and come to nothing.
12You will look in vain for those who tried to conquer you. Those who attack you will come to nothing.
13For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.
14Though you are a lowly worm, O Jacob, don’t be afraid, people of Israel, for I will help you. I am the LORD, your Redeemer. I am the Holy One of Israel.’
15You will be a new threshing instrument with many sharp teeth. You will tear your enemies apart, making chaff of mountains.
16You will toss them into the air, and the wind will blow them all away; a whirlwind will scatter them. Then you will rejoice in the LORD . You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.
17“When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched from thirst, then I, the LORD, will answer them. I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them.
18I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus. I will give them fountains of water in the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.
19I will plant trees in the barren desert— cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, fir, and pine.
20I am doing this so all who see this miracle will understand what it means— that it is the LORD who has done this, the Holy One of Israel who created it.
21“Present the case for your idols,” says the LORD . “Let them show what they can do,” says the King of Israel.
22“Let them try to tell us what happened long ago so that we may consider the evidence. Or let them tell us what the future holds, so we can know what’s going to happen.
23Yes, tell us what will occur in the days ahead. Then we will know you are gods. In fact, do anything—good or bad! Do something that will amaze and frighten us.
24But no! You are less than nothing and can do nothing at all. Those who choose you pollute themselves.
25“But I have stirred up a leader who will approach from the north. From the east he will call on my name. I will give him victory over kings and princes. He will trample them as a potter treads on clay.
26“Who told you from the beginning that this would happen? Who predicted this, making you admit that he was right? No one said a word!
27I was the first to tell Zion, ‘Look! Help is on the way!’ I will send Jerusalem a messenger with good news.
28Not one of your idols told you this. Not one gave any answer when I asked.
29See, they are all foolish, worthless things. All your idols are as empty as the wind.