“Cultivate your relationship with God so that you get what you need from Him, rather than bleeding dry the people around you.”~TB
We human beings are inherently needy, which is by design. We need God and when we seek Him, we find those needs met. The problem that many of us face is that we continually look to other people, places, or things to fulfill needs that only God can meet. This results in messed up relationships, poor substance choices, destructive habits, you name it, we’re doing it. Even worse, if you look at our society, we’re perpetuating and championing this broken system.
Instead of relying on the people around you, fill your need by going to the everlasting well that is Christ. Christ sustains us and never runs out or dries up. His Word is perfect, rejuvenating and full of the spiritual vitamins that heal our wounds and makes us whole once again. But first, we have to start by activating the relationship. God will never force His will on you, you must decide that you need him. And when that happens, your neediness finds its rightful place.
Are you spiritually needy or are you relying on unfit sources?
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1“What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people—the shepherds of my sheep—for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the LORD .
2Therefore, this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to these shepherds: “Instead of caring for my flock and leading them to safety, you have deserted them and driven them to destruction. Now I will pour out judgment on you for the evil you have done to them.
3But I will gather together the remnant of my flock from the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their own sheepfold, and they will be fruitful and increase in number.
4Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the LORD, have spoken!
5“For the time is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land.
6And this will be his name: ‘The LORD Is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety.
7“In that day,” says the LORD, “when people are taking an oath, they will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’
8Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”
9My heart is broken because of the false prophets, and my bones tremble. I stagger like a drunkard, like someone overcome by wine, because of the holy words the LORD has spoken against them.
10For the land is full of adultery, and it lies under a curse. The land itself is in mourning— its wilderness pastures are dried up. For they all do evil and abuse what power they have.
11“Even the priests and prophets are ungodly, wicked men. I have seen their despicable acts right here in my own Temple,” says the LORD .
12“Therefore, the paths they take will become slippery. They will be chased through the dark, and there they will fall. For I will bring disaster upon them at the time fixed for their punishment. I, the LORD, have spoken!
13“I saw that the prophets of Samaria were terribly evil, for they prophesied in the name of Baal and led my people of Israel into sin.
14But now I see that the prophets of Jerusalem are even worse! They commit adultery and love dishonesty. They encourage those who are doing evil so that no one turns away from their sins. These prophets are as wicked as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah once were.”
15Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says concerning the prophets: “I will feed them with bitterness and give them poison to drink. For it is because of Jerusalem’s prophets that wickedness has filled this land.”
16This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says to his people: “Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the LORD !
17They keep saying to those who despise my word, ‘Don’t worry! The LORD says you will have peace!’ And to those who stubbornly follow their own desires, they say, ‘No harm will come your way!’
18“Have any of these prophets been in the LORD ’s presence to hear what he is really saying? Has even one of them cared enough to listen?
19Look! The LORD ’s anger bursts out like a storm, a whirlwind that swirls down on the heads of the wicked.
20The anger of the LORD will not diminish until it has finished all he has planned. In the days to come you will understand all this very clearly.
21“I have not sent these prophets, yet they run around claiming to speak for me. I have given them no message, yet they go on prophesying.
22If they had stood before me and listened to me, they would have spoken my words, and they would have turned my people from their evil ways and deeds.
23Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the LORD . “No, I am far away at the same time.
24Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the LORD .
25“I have heard these prophets say, ‘Listen to the dream I had from God last night.’ And then they proceed to tell lies in my name.
26How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say.
27By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal.
28“Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between straw and grain!
29Does not my word burn like fire?” says the LORD . “Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?
30“Therefore,” says the LORD, “I am against these prophets who steal messages from each other and claim they are from me.
31I am against these smooth-tongued prophets who say, ‘This prophecy is from the LORD !’
32I am against these false prophets. Their imaginary dreams are flagrant lies that lead my people into sin. I did not send or appoint them, and they have no message at all for my people. I, the LORD, have spoken!
33“Suppose one of the people or one of the prophets or priests asks you, ‘What prophecy has the LORD burdened you with now?’ You must reply, ‘You are the burden! The LORD says he will abandon you!’
34“If any prophet, priest, or anyone else says, ‘I have a prophecy from the LORD,’ I will punish that person along with his entire family.
35You should keep asking each other, ‘What is the LORD ’s answer?’ or ‘What is the LORD saying?’
36But stop using this phrase, ‘prophecy from the LORD .’ For people are using it to give authority to their own ideas, turning upside down the words of our God, the living God, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
37“This is what you should say to the prophets: ‘What is the LORD ’s answer?’ or ‘What is the LORD saying?’
38But suppose they respond, ‘This is a prophecy from the LORD !’ Then you should say, ‘This is what the LORD says: Because you have used this phrase, “prophecy from the LORD,” even though I warned you not to use it,
39I will forget you completely. I will expel you from my presence, along with this city that I gave to you and your ancestors.
40And I will make you an object of ridicule, and your name will be infamous throughout the ages.’”
“Resources are meant to be used to grow with Christ, not to replace Him.”~TB
A major balancing act in the Christian walk is utilizing and appreciating the resources that God gives us without allowing them to take on a god-like persona. If we’re honest, I’m sure we all have had moments where we want God’s ‘stuff’ more than we want Him. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s a tough pill to swallow because the truth of the matter, money, cars, fame, notoriety are really just stuff. More to the point, wanting stuff more than we want God is quite sad and a major indictment on what we value as a collective. As someone who has experience with first-world niceties, I can say for certain, the best manmade things do not hold a candle to being in the presence of the Lord.
Remain in Him
These days, everything I have is a resource to remain in Christ. My money, time, love, etc. are poured into building my relationships with my family, spending time with God, sharing His Truth with others, and things of the like. That’s not to say I’m perfect, oh, I’m far from it. Over time, I’ve come to learn to hang out with God more, glean His insights, which helps me to make better decisions. He has shown and taught me how wonderful it is to walk with Him and the resources He gives me are to grow stronger in Him. Friends, we have to evaluate how we look at things. Most of the time, we want ‘stuff’ just to impress others. The things of this world are temporary. We cannot take them with us when we go. But, the relationship we forge with Christ is everlasting, so enjoy the resources, but make sure they point back to Him.
Do you want God’s resources or God Himself?
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1This is what the LORD said to me: “Go over and speak directly to the king of Judah. Say to him,
2‘Listen to this message from the LORD, you king of Judah, sitting on David’s throne. Let your attendants and your people listen, too.
3This is what the LORD says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent!
4If you obey me, there will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem. The king will ride through the palace gates in chariots and on horses, with his parade of attendants and subjects.
5But if you refuse to pay attention to this warning, I swear by my own name, says the LORD, that this palace will become a pile of rubble.’”
6Now this is what the LORD says concerning Judah’s royal palace: “I love you as much as fruitful Gilead and the green forests of Lebanon. But I will turn you into a desert, with no one living within your walls.
7I will call for wreckers, who will bring out their tools to dismantle you. They will tear out all your fine cedar beams and throw them on the fire.
8“People from many nations will pass by the ruins of this city and say to one another, ‘Why did the LORD destroy such a great city?’
9And the answer will be, ‘Because they violated their covenant with the LORD their God by worshiping other gods.’”
10Do not weep for the dead king or mourn his loss. Instead, weep for the captive king being led away! For he will never return to see his native land again.
11For this is what the LORD says about Jehoahaz, who succeeded his father, King Josiah, and was taken away as a captive: “He will never return.
12He will die in a distant land and will never again see his own country.”
13And the LORD says, “What sorrow awaits Jehoiakim, who builds his palace with forced labor. He builds injustice into its walls, for he makes his neighbors work for nothing. He does not pay them for their labor.
14He says, ‘I will build a magnificent palace with huge rooms and many windows. I will panel it throughout with fragrant cedar and paint it a lovely red.’
15But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king! Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink. But he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him.
16He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?” says the LORD .
17“But you! You have eyes only for greed and dishonesty! You murder the innocent, oppress the poor, and reign ruthlessly.”
18Therefore, this is what the LORD says about Jehoiakim, son of King Josiah: “The people will not mourn for him, crying to one another, ‘Alas, my brother! Alas, my sister!’ His subjects will not mourn for him, crying, ‘Alas, our master is dead! Alas, his splendor is gone!’
19He will be buried like a dead donkey— dragged out of Jerusalem and dumped outside the gates!
20Weep for your allies in Lebanon. Shout for them in Bashan. Search for them in the regions east of the river. See, they are all destroyed. Not one is left to help you.
21I warned you when you were prosperous, but you replied, ‘Don’t bother me.’ You have been that way since childhood— you simply will not obey me!
22And now the wind will blow away your allies. All your friends will be taken away as captives. Surely then you will see your wickedness and be ashamed.
23It may be nice to live in a beautiful palace paneled with wood from the cedars of Lebanon, but soon you will groan with pangs of anguish— anguish like that of a woman in labor.
24“As surely as I live,” says the LORD, “I will abandon you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. Even if you were the signet ring on my right hand, I would pull you off.
25I will hand you over to those who seek to kill you, those you so desperately fear—to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the mighty Babylonian army.
26I will expel you and your mother from this land, and you will die in a foreign country, not in your native land.
27You will never again return to the land you yearn for.
28“Why is this man Jehoiachin like a discarded, broken jar? Why are he and his children to be exiled to a foreign land?
29O earth, earth, earth! Listen to this message from the LORD !
30This is what the LORD says: ‘Let the record show that this man Jehoiachin was childless. He is a failure, for none of his children will succeed him on the throne of David to rule over Judah.’
“Celebrate God by breaking bread with your brothers and sisters.”~TB
It’s been a wild ride in this thing called life, and I am definitely guilty of being caught up in the storms and not the amazing wonder that is God. So to change the narrative, I had my siblings, niece, and nephews over for a bbq. My brother turned on an anime that we used to watch as kids. It was hilarious to be reminded of my childhood while the next generation got to see what we looked at when we were their age. As I looked at my family while cooking, I couldn’t help but appreciate God for the people He’s blessed me to do life with.
In the Bible, it seemed like they had plenty of blow out parties and celebrations, and I get it. In life there will always be accusations, tribulations, but there is also so much good to celebrate. When we break bread, it’s not just about the party, it’s about the gifts and grace that God bestows on. It’s about celebrating the minor miracles that God performs that we rarely acknowledge. It’s about encouraging one another and being grateful to see another day. When we get together, we see how God works in each other’s lives, giving us the hope and faith that He is present and sovereign. In a busy world, don’t forget to stop and break bread with your people and watch how God shows up and shows out.
Did you remember to break bread to celebrate all that God is in your life?
1The word came to Jeremiah from the LORD when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah. They said:
2“Inquire now of the LORD for us because Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is attacking us. Perhaps the LORD will perform wonders for us as in times past so that he will withdraw from us.”
3But Jeremiah answered them, “Tell Zedekiah,
4‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am about to turn against you the weapons of war that are in your hands, which you are using to fight the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who are outside the wall besieging you. And I will gather them inside this city.
5I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in furious anger and in great wrath.
6I will strike down those who live in this city—both man and beast—and they will die of a terrible plague.
7After that, declares the LORD, I will give Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the people in this city who survive the plague, sword and famine, into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to their enemies who want to kill them. He will put them to the sword; he will show them no mercy or pity or compassion.’
8“Furthermore, tell the people, ‘This is what the LORD says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.
9Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; they will escape with their lives.
10I have determined to do this city harm and not good, declares the LORD. It will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will destroy it with fire.’
11“Moreover, say to the royal house of Judah, ‘Hear the word of the LORD.
12This is what the LORD says to you, house of David: “ ‘Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done— burn with no one to quench it.
13I am against you, Jerusalem, you who live above this valley on the rocky plateau, declares the LORD— you who say, “Who can come against us? Who can enter our refuge?”
14I will punish you as your deeds deserve, declares the LORD. I will kindle a fire in your forests that will consume everything around you.’ ”
“No matter where you go or what you’ll go through, you will always be there.”~TB
Everyone at some point in their life has had a deep-seated “if only” mindset and the world supports that type of thinking. “If only I had more money or if only I had that car/job/spouse/house, andthen everything would be perfect and I wouldn’t have anything to worry about,” etc. We often erroneously believe that once a situation changes, then poof we magically change right along with it. This idea of and then is very misleading because it does not take Spoiler alert: no matter what circumstance you are in, the only thing that is always a constant is you.
So even if you received all of your heart’s desires, things may change externally, but internally, the same things remain. Therefore, we must ask God to changes our hearts and minds; and we must change our behaviors to realize God’s peace and contentment. True peace and contentment are counterintuitive to the world’s standards. The world teaches us that we are to consume, consume, consume. However, those who know God understand it’s He who sets all things in motion. For us to get out of our and then mindsets, we have to understand the present presence of God’s peace. When we focus on Christ, we count all circumstances as joy and then our priorities are aligned with His.
Are you letting “and then” stall your growth in Christ?
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1“The sin of Judah is inscribed with an iron chisel— engraved with a diamond point on their stony hearts and on the corners of their altars.
2Even their children go to worship at their pagan altars and Asherah poles, beneath every green tree and on every high hill.
3So I will hand over my holy mountain— along with all your wealth and treasures and your pagan shrines— as plunder to your enemies, for sin runs rampant in your land.
4The wonderful possession I have reserved for you will slip from your hands. I will tell your enemies to take you as captives to a foreign land. For my anger blazes like a fire that will burn forever.”
5This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD .
6They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.
7“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.
8They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.
9“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
10But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
11Like a partridge that hatches eggs she has not laid, so are those who get their wealth by unjust means. At midlife they will lose their riches; in the end, they will become poor old fools.
12But we worship at your throne— eternal, high, and glorious!
13O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who turn away from you will be disgraced. They will be buried in the dust of the earth, for they have abandoned the LORD, the fountain of living water.
14O LORD, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone!
15People scoff at me and say, “What is this ‘message from the LORD ’ you talk about? Why don’t your predictions come true?”
16LORD, I have not abandoned my job as a shepherd for your people. I have not urged you to send disaster. You have heard everything I’ve said.
17LORD, don’t terrorize me! You alone are my hope in the day of disaster.
18Bring shame and dismay on all who persecute me, but don’t let me experience shame and dismay. Bring a day of terror on them. Yes, bring double destruction upon them!
19This is what the LORD said to me: “Go and stand in the gates of Jerusalem, first in the gate where the king goes in and out, and then in each of the other gates.
20Say to all the people, ‘Listen to this message from the LORD, you kings of Judah and all you people of Judah and everyone living in Jerusalem.
21This is what the LORD says: Listen to my warning! Stop carrying on your trade at Jerusalem’s gates on the Sabbath day.
22Do not do your work on the Sabbath, but make it a holy day. I gave this command to your ancestors,
23but they did not listen or obey. They stubbornly refused to pay attention or accept my discipline.
24“‘But if you obey me, says the LORD, and do not carry on your trade at the gates or work on the Sabbath day, and if you keep it holy,
25then kings and their officials will go in and out of these gates forever. There will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem. Kings and their officials will always ride in and out among the people of Judah in chariots and on horses, and this city will remain forever.
26And from all around Jerusalem, from the towns of Judah and Benjamin, from the western foothills and the hill country and the Negev, the people will come with their burnt offerings and sacrifices. They will bring their grain offerings, frankincense, and thanksgiving offerings to the LORD ’s Temple.
27“‘But if you do not listen to me and refuse to keep the Sabbath holy, and if on the Sabbath day you bring loads of merchandise through the gates of Jerusalem just as on other days, then I will set fire to these gates. The fire will spread to the palaces, and no one will be able to put out the roaring flames.’”
“Do not avoid uncomfortable situations or moments. Instead, walk boldly in the truth that God is with you in all things.”~TB
The world teaches us to avoid unpleasant experiences. Human logic dictates that if the moment induces discomfort, it must be a bad thing, therefore we remove the “yucky stuff” from our lives. What an amazingly ironic and counterproductive paradigm! The problem with that ideology is that it eliminates the most vital and necessary aspect of our spiritual growth. Through the unpleasant times, we get to grow closer and know God in a more personal and one-on-one manner. In fact, it’s those uncomfortable and painful moments where we grow the most. That is if we take them as they are and not as we perceive them to be.
When I was a kid in elementary school, we’d have the opportunity to participate in an art class. Some of the projects included working with clay, making different sorts of things. I loved it. Being able to mold and shape things– essentially making something out of nothing– is something I love. My favorite part was seeing my work after it was fired in the kiln. For those that don’t know, a kiln is a heating chamber that transforms materials in high temperatures. When the clay is heated properly, it is then ready to be turned into a vessel. If you’ve ever worked clay, you’ve seen firsthand how a slippery and malleable substance is transformed into a sturdy and utilitarian product. God is the Kiln to our clay.
In order to be the vessel that God has called you to be, you must learn to reexamine your mind about the kiln process. Trials and tribulations are the firey elements that shore up your vessel. Without them, you remain mushy and unsustainable. When you avoid the molding and kiln of God, your ability to rise to the calling on your life is impossible. Don’t avoid the process, but trust that all things in your life are used to strengthen your relationship with God. Let the Bible mold you and your time with God be the fire that hardens the clay. In doing so, we see as God intended us to see. When that happens, we walk in the way that God called us to.
Are you going through the kiln or do you want to remain mushy and broken?
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1“In that day,” says the LORD, “the enemy will break open the graves of the kings and officials of Judah, and the graves of the priests, prophets, and common people of Jerusalem.
2They will spread out their bones on the ground before the sun, moon, and stars—the gods my people have loved, served, and worshiped. Their bones will not be gathered up again or buried but will be scattered on the ground like manure.
3And the people of this evil nation who survive will wish to die rather than live where I will send them. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!
4“Jeremiah, say to the people, ‘This is what the LORD says: “‘When people fall down, don’t they get up again? When they discover they’re on the wrong road, don’t they turn back?
5Then why do these people stay on their self-destructive path? Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back? They cling tightly to their lies and will not turn around.
6I listen to their conversations and don’t hear a word of truth. Is anyone sorry for doing wrong? Does anyone say, “What a terrible thing I have done”? No! All are running down the path of sin as swiftly as a horse galloping into battle!
7Even the stork that flies across the sky knows the time of her migration, as do the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane. They all return at the proper time each year. But not my people! They do not know the LORD ’s laws.
8“‘How can you say, “We are wise because we have the word of the LORD,” when your teachers have twisted it by writing lies?
9These wise teachers will fall into the trap of their own foolishness, for they have rejected the word of the LORD . Are they so wise after all?
10I will give their wives to others and their farms to strangers. From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. Yes, even my prophets and priests are like that. They are all frauds.
11They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace.
12Are they ashamed of these disgusting actions? Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered. They will be brought down when I punish them, says the LORD .
13I will surely consume them. There will be no more harvests of figs and grapes. Their fruit trees will all die. Whatever I gave them will soon be gone. I, the LORD, have spoken!’
14“Then the people will say, ‘Why should we wait here to die? Come, let’s go to the fortified towns and die there. For the LORD our God has decreed our destruction and has given us a cup of poison to drink because we sinned against the LORD .
15We hoped for peace, but no peace came. We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.’
16“The snorting of the enemies’ warhorses can be heard all the way from the land of Dan in the north! The neighing of their stallions makes the whole land tremble. They are coming to devour the land and everything in it— cities and people alike.
17I will send these enemy troops among you like poisonous snakes you cannot charm. They will bite you, and you will die. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
18My grief is beyond healing; my heart is broken.
19Listen to the weeping of my people; it can be heard all across the land. “Has the LORD abandoned Jerusalem? ” the people ask. “Is her King no longer there?” “Oh, why have they provoked my anger with their carved idols and their worthless foreign gods?” says the LORD .
20“The harvest is finished, and the summer is gone,” the people cry, “yet we are not saved!”
21I hurt with the hurt of my people. I mourn and am overcome with grief.
22Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people?
“It is a fantastic feeling when people tell you that your children and grandchildren are doing a great job honoring God with their good work, lifestyles, and choices.” ~ Jon Barnes
You can rejoice, laugh, and smile after you have put in all of the hard work, sweat, and tears of joy while working in the trenches by yourself because your family will copy you and make you proud. The quality of work put in your obedience to God will give you great success with Jesus our Lord! Laugh and be thankful. Others may join you with your good cheer or frown in the sorrow of their laziness of love.
Since people really understand God’s Truth, notice how many will poke holes at your belief system, God’s Word, and your lifestyle. Evil people will always find ways to change God’s laws to benefit their evil lifestyle, which is the very reason that they know the biblical stories better than you good people. This is their normal, so smile and be resourceful with few words and lots of spiritual action ordained by God in your personal obedience with God’s Love and Spirit. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, but you must be honest with God.
People who talk less and do more tend to be more likable, effective, honest, and to the point. God loves the truthful simplicity of love, life, and spiritual growth. Strive to carry the character and characteristics of Christ in your life so that God likes what you are doing. He knows how to bless you beyond your wildest imagination so that you don’t have to build an empire or legacy of proof. Having God on your side is all the empire, legacy, money, and love that you’ll ever need. How fantastic is that?
Can you live a fantastic life with the hope of eternal salvation with lies, fake news, and false hopes in your own fanciful, man-made, makeshift belief system?
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Jesus Anointed at Bethany
12 Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. 2 A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him.3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.
4 But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said,5 “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.”6 Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.
7 Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial.8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
9 When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead.10 Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too,11 for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.
Jesus’ Triumphant Entry
12 The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors 13 took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted,
Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hail to the King of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said:
15 “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem.
Look, your King is coming,
riding on a donkey’s colt.”
16 His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.
17 Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it.18 That was the reason so many went out to meet him—because they had heard about this miraculous sign.19 Then the Pharisees said to each other, “There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!”
Jesus Predicts His Death
20 Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration 21 paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.”22 Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory.24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.26 Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
27 “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came!28 Father, bring glory to your name.”
Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” 29 When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him.
30 Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine.31 The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out.32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”33 He said this to indicate how he was going to die.
34 The crowd responded, “We understood from Scripture that the Messiah would live forever. How can you say the Son of Man will die? Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?”
35 Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going.36 Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.”
After saying these things, Jesus went away and was hidden from them.
The Unbelief of the People
37 But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. 38 This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted:
“Lord, who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?”
39 But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said,
40 “The Lord has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts—
so that their eyes cannot see,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and have me heal them.”
41 Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory.42 Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue.43 For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.
44 Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me.45 For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me.46 I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.47 I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it.48 But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken.49 I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it.50 And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.”
“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!”
“To experience God’s eternal state of peace, first, change your state of mind.”~TB
The busyness of life can have us feeling all over the place and going nowhere at the same time. When you’re stressed out or overwhelmed it’s easy to start looking at peace as a destination. I’ve even caught myself recently thinking “If I can make it to ‘abc’ then I can be at peace”. Friends, that is foolish thinking because as anyone who’s lived on this earth knows: if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Peace does not come from changed circumstances. It comes from leaning on the strength of Christ and giving Him your burdens so that you may experience His peace.
When you resolve to change your mindset instead of your circumstances, that’s when God can transform you internally. We have to do out part in relying on Him, so that He can make the changes within. In a world that teaches us that we are in control, it can be quite difficult to relinquish the reins of your life. But, the funny part is, that when you do, you begin to realize that you were never in control in the first place! It’s a joyful thing to know that God works in all things all of the time. So, instead of looking for a peaceful destination, allow God to make peace in your heart and mind so that you may know how to continually experience it each and every day.
Is the peace you’re seeking eternal or temporary?
Enjoy the reading
1Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.
2The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the LORD ’s own mouth.
3The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see— a splendid crown in the hand of God.
4Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his bride.
5Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to his bride. Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.
6O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the LORD .
7Give the LORD no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.
8The LORD has sworn to Jerusalem by his own strength: “I will never again hand you over to your enemies. Never again will foreign warriors come and take away your grain and new wine.
9You raised the grain, and you will eat it, praising the LORD . Within the courtyards of the Temple, you yourselves will drink the wine you have pressed.”
10Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see.
11The LORD has sent this message to every land: “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your Savior is coming. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.’”
12They will be called “The Holy People” and “The People Redeemed by the LORD .” And Jerusalem will be known as “The Desirable Place” and “The City No Longer Forsaken.”
“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!”